Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Day 31 of Lent 2020

Matthew 6:16

When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.

Ray 2020Today is day 31 of the 40 Days of our Lenten reading plan. Remember – Sundays are not counted in the 40 days. I hope you have stayed current with us. I veered off of the online plan and am finishing the plan myself. Today’s passage is about fasting.

Lent is typically a time to give something up – to stop a bad habit – to deny yourself – to dig deeper into your walk with Jesus. Fasting is one way to do this. Fasting is denying yourself of something. You can fast from food or a certain type of food. You can fast from technology (a youth pastor I worked with did this one Lent) – or you can fast from social media (right now that might be tough with the pandemic restrictions).

Not only are we to deny ourselves of something – we are to replace that item with more of Jesus. For instance – if we are fasting from something – when we feel tempted to eat it or do it – we should spend time praying or digging into God’s Word. Continue reading

April 1, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Fast, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Prayer/Fast Is Coming to a Close

Luke 5:16

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

Life ChangeSo – how’s your prayer/fast going for the month of November? Were you able to find more time to spend time with Jesus? Did your prayer life improve? Did you find new places to pray? Did you dig deeper into your relationship with Jesus? Were you able to put some bad habits in the rearview mirror of your life? How’s your devotional life? Did you listen to new podcasts or teachings?

Two days left – today and tomorrow – and the November prayer/fast will be completed. I hope I wasn’t on the journey alone. I hope some folks have experienced the blessings that come from a prayer/fast. Some of the items I fasted from have been easy. For instance – cutting out certain foods and striving to stay faithful to my eating plan – my health journey – has been a blessing. I’ve cut certain food items out of my diet all together and I feel great. I hope I can keep them out moving forward. By-the-way – I’m down another 5 pounds for the month! Continue reading

November 29, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, Fast, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thanksgiving Day Is Coming!

Romans 8:32

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

fullsizeoutput_ffeThanksgiving comes once a year – as does Christmas – and Easter. Yet we don’t have to limit our thankfulness to one day – do we? If your family is like mine – when we gather to give thanks over the bounty on Thanksgiving – we pause to give thanks for something specific – everyone at the table. It is a touching time – and watching our family age before our eyes – year after year – brings a nostalgic note too. Listening to what the girls have shared over the years and now what the grandchildren will share has been and is a blessing. We are always thankful for the way God touches our lives.

I’m the crier in the family. An example of my inability to hold back my tears can be seen in most any family gathering. I remember at a special birthday for my wife – as others were sharing – I tried to share my heart and the tears flowed. Tears will flow for most any reason from my eyes. With the holidays coming I will shed tears when I watch It’s a Wonderful Life for the 200th time – and even while watching Charlie Brown Christmas – tears will flow.

Thanksgiving is a family time for our family and we will gather once again – the Lord willing. Holidays are especially hard for me now that mom and dad have gone to be with Jesus. Dad loved Christmas so much – that holiday is especially difficult for me these days. Continue reading

November 14, 2018 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, Fast, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Guides Our Thoughts and Actions?

Galatians 5:25

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

fullsizeoutput_ffeWho guides our thoughts and actions each day? Do we rely on our own abilities or thinking? Do we follow other’s thinking or even consult a horoscope (please don’t say yes to a horoscope)? How do we determine things like – who we vote for in elections – how we vote in our congregations or denomination – whether to marry or not and to whom? Who do we turn to when discussing starting a family – what job to take – whether to relocate for work – when to retire – whether to buy or rent and in what community? All important decisions for sure. Do we rely on our skills – on our spouse – on our parents – on our friends – on the world around us?

Who guides our thoughts and actions each day? How do we decide what is right or wrong – what is beneficial or detrimental in our lives? Where do we turn to discern the path in life we should walk? If it hasn’t been God – if it has only been God for a few things – how’s that working for you? I know for me – the times I have made my own decision – it has been hit or miss – but when I have turned to God – God is batting 100%. Continue reading

November 13, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, Fast, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Prudent Hold Their Tongues

Proverbs 10:19

…the prudent hold their tongues.

fullsizeoutput_ffeHave you ever had something happen in your life – and you felt compelled to say something or write something about it – only to have your words come back to haunt you? I know it has happened to me a number of times. I know many of us want to respond to folks on social media as they exclaim their victories or losses from the mid-term elections. The sky is falling for some and for others – our team won! I have pledged to stay out of it – at least for November (maybe forever).

I don’t believe in jinxes – but I have tweeted during a game – when my team was up and on the way to a win – only to see them lose the game in the closing minutes. A number of times I have tweeted things that later I had to erase. At times my fingers type faster than my brain thinks. Some of my Facebook friends might say the same thing for themselves. I mean – have you seen some of the things folks have posted during this election season? There seems to be no filter for some folks. Continue reading

November 8, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, Fast, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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