Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Let Jesus Shine In Us – Thru Us – and In Spite of Us

Matthew 5:14

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.

June 2019The month of October is the beginning of darker days. Only a few months away from the heat and long days of July we are currently experiencing. Darkness is fun at times – and at times it is not. I remember growing up and living next door to a cemetery. Now that could be scary – at least for those not use to it. When friends came over or cousins visited – we would play hide and seek. I would always hide in the cemetery – over in the darkest corners where the house light didn’t shine. Whenever someone got close to where I was hiding – I would make sounds that would scare them away. The darkness and the unknown would always win the day. But darkness is not always something to be desired as we will see.

Darkness – in today’s scripture – represents the absence of Jesus. Jesus is instructing His followers and He tells them that they are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. As believers – as disciples of Jesus – we are to allow His light to shine in us – thru us – and in spite of us.

I remember – again as a child – traveling to my mother’s home town – Moorefield WV.  As we would come over the mountains – with very little light other than our headlights – we would crest the last mountain top and move down toward the valley. As we descended the mountain – we would see the lights of Moorefield. We knew we were there – for mom – it was her childhood home. I remember when the chicken plant started running all night and when they got their first fast food store – a McDonald’s. As the town started to get more and more active over the years – the lights were stronger as we crested that last mountain.

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July 18, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Other Side of the Casket

Philippians 4:12

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

June 2019This verse came to mind almost seven years ago as I sat in the front row at my father’s burial.  For 36 years I had been on the other side of the coffin – trying to give words of encouragement and lifting prayers on behalf of the grieving family. Other than my two grandmothers (both grandfathers died before I was born or when I was an infant) I have not lost anyone close – other than some childhood friends. With my maternal grandmother died I was in the family section – not upfront. I did celebrate my paternal grandmother’s life as her pastor. I have not had a close family member pass since – until my father died. We had both sets of parents – still married to each other and living strong!

I am a pretty emotional person – and I think I held up pretty well through the visitation time and at the funeral (almost broke down once during the sermon and as the coffin was being closed the previous night). There I was – placing the cocoon that held my father into the ground and yet I was an emotional wreck.  I knew it wasn’t my father. I knew he was with Jesus. I knew the story of the butterfly I have told hundreds of times and even shared it at my father’s graveside service – but the emotions of the moment hit me hard. Continue reading

July 16, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Taking A Nap – Finding Rest

Psalm 121:1-2

I lift up my eyes to the hills — where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

June 2019The Major League Baseball season is in full swing. We just passed the All-Star game. What team are you rooting for to win it all? I’m rooting for the Houston Astros and the LA Dodgers to meet in the World Series and for the Astros to win it all.

I wish it was the Orioles playing for the World Series – but they are aiming to qualify for the number 1 draft choice in next year’s amateur draft for the second straight year. I am an O’s fan and always will be – even during hard years. I suffered through 14 straight losing seasons several seasons ago. We’re tired – already – of this losing skid and want changes. We hope the changes that are coming will help us win again. But this is not real life! It is a game! (As I type this devotional they have a perfect game against them thru 8 innings – not good.)

Where do you go when you are tired and exhausted in real life? When you need rest – where do you turn? I had a busy week last week with VBS and needing help in the office. Besides working over 70 plus hours – I’ve walked several miles each day. I’ve only gotten about 5-6 hours of sleep each night (one night only 3) and according to my new watch – that sleep hasn’t always been sound. I could use a nap! Taking a nap seemed like a punishment as a child. As an adult it is something I look forward to taking! Who agrees with me? 😇💤 Continue reading

July 15, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Clothe Ourselves in Christ

Colossians 3:12

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

June 2019Dear readers – did any of us have a favorite piece of clothing growing up? I apparently – according to old photos – had a favorite cowboy shirt and a red baseball hat. In many of my childhood pictures – from a certain age – that was what I had on. I still have favorite clothes – enjoying the more casual look over anything dressy. When I was in my early teen years – I had a favorite hat that was always on my head it seems. I remember when I finally had to give it up – it was old – torn and smelled from years of sweating in it. I remember buying it with my own money at Ocean City one year. I know my girlfriends probably didn’t like it much – but it was a favorite!

As a pastor – I know there are proper times to wear certain clothes. For instance – I when I have a funeral – I will bring my collar and my suit jacket to work with me – so I can change before the service. I will return to the office for meetings after the funeral and put on my church shirt – typically a polo shirt with my name and the church’s name on it. I hardly ever wear a tie anymore – using the clergy collar shirt when I need to dress up. Continue reading

July 12, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God Loves Us

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

June 2019Tuesday night at VBS – today’s passage – was the passage of the evening. We were telling the children that God loved them – each of them – individually. We started on Sunday night with stories of God’s love. on Monday night we talked about God loving everyone. Tuesday night we talked about God loving us individually – and today’s passage was the main passage.

If you watch golf at all – you are well aware that at many golf tournaments – someone will probably have a sign behind the golfers (where the cameras catch it) that reads John 3:16. This passage hit home with me this week as I watched the national and the international scene unfold around me. I’m wrestling with the needs of others and the need to secure our borders. I’m trying to understand the need to protect our people from terrorists and other threats. I listen to the debates about building a wall – denying certain people entrance into the USA – and the need to keep track of certain people. It can be very confusing at times and very mind blowing. All people are God’s children – even those who do not obey Him or even believe in Him. Yet – in society we have boundaries and borders and nations.

As Christians who are from a certain nation – we are often caught dealing with our national interests and our Christian global interests. Christ died for the whole world (although all will not accept His free gift of salvation). Christ died for the people we are trying to keep out of our nation – even the criminal elements. It is a hard place at times. It is tough taking a stand because there are arguments on both sides of most discussions. I tried this week to ask for thoughts on a clergy page and all I received was one offer to talk person-to-person (not doable at this time) and pushback for the way I presented my question. If even clergy cannot discuss this issue – how can we expect others to do so? Continue reading

July 11, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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