Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Never Will I Leave You

Hebrews 13:5

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Do we have any life-long friends? It is unusual to have friends from childhood till death. I have a few friends from my school days – but not many. Most of us grew up and went on with our lives. Because I attended three elementary schools – two junior high schools – and one high school – I haven’t been able to keep in touch with many from my younger days. Facebook has helped some.

My daughters are in the position that most pastors’ children do not experience. They started and finished grade school – middle school – and high school – with the same set of friends. Because we stayed in one church for 24 years – they grew up in the same school system and even today – grown and with families – they have some of the same friends for their school days.

Other than family – most of us don’t have friends from our childhood. For some of us – our 35-55-75 year marriage is the longest running friendship we have known. Some will never know that either – with many marriages not making it that long. Continue reading

April 19, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Did It Take To Convince You?

Mark 15:39

And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

Some people take a lot of convincing. If we are to be convinced about something – without doubt – we often require certain proofs. For instance – if someone cheats on us – in marriage or in business – it might take quit a bit of time on good behavior to convince us that someone has changed their ways. For some of us – nothing would convince us. Broken trust is not easy to heal.

If someone hurts us – how much time or effort needs to go into an apology and forgiveness? For some of us – there is no turning back. For some – we forgive – depending on the offense – quickly. For others it all depends on the hurt. Some say – hurt me once – shame on you – hurt me twice – shame on me. Continue reading

April 18, 2017 Posted by | Build, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

There Is Now No Condemnation

Romans 8:1

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

Easter has come and gone for another year. Churches were packed Sunday from sunrise services through regular and extra worship services. Some of my colleagues had to hold Easter services off-sight for a variety of reasons. Some wanted to reach the unchurched and thought off-site might be the best way to do this. Some would have had to hold so many services in their current facilities that it made sense to go off-site to a larger facility. Some for both reasons and maybe some others as well. I imagine that some saw larger crowds than they will see all year until next Easter or maybe Christmas Eve.

If their attendance was anything like I have experienced over the years – although there were some visitors – like family visiting for the long holiday weekend – folks looking for a church or simply the C&E folks (Christmas and Easter) – mostly the higher attendance is a product of the regular folk all attending on the same Sunday. Sadly – studies show that regular for some folks means once or twice a month these days – something less than most every Sunday. When attendance on a regular Sunday is say 75 and on Easter it blossoms to 125 with only 10 visitors – that suggests that if your regulars were regular – your normal attendance might be closer to 115 than 75. Continue reading

April 17, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Call On The Lord

Psalm 120:1

I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me.

One night last week – as I was beginning my recovery from surgery – I woke and needed my meds. I wasn’t in distress – but I knew I soon would be feeling significant pain if I didn’t get my meds soon. I also knew there were babies sleeping in the house so I couldn’t call out with a loud voice. In a whisper – I called for my wife. Carolyn – can you hear me?

If the roles were reversed – I know I never would have heard her at that sound level – cause I sleep through most anything and I often sleep with my good ear down. She was in the bedroom and I was on my chair in the TV room (I still haven’t slept in the bed yet since surgery). She heard me and came to my aid. She has been a real trooper through this surgery – as always. I wouldn’t be as recovered as I am without her help and support. Continue reading

April 3, 2017 Posted by | Build, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Marriage, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Faithful Stewards

1 Peter 4:10

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

The Baltimore Orioles and every other Major League Baseball team is trying to figure out what 25 players to put on their opening day roster (just a few days away on April 3rd for the Orioles at home against the Blue Jays). Trying to figure out the best 25 players for a team is not easy. Many reporters have discussed in their posts and articles which 25 they think should make the team. There are obvious players who will make the team and then the manager must decide who else will make the team. It isn’t always as easy as picking the 25 best players.

Contracts and options (a player that can be sent to the minors without the chance of losing them through waivers) play a big part in the process. Also having the right number of players in each position is important. An outfielder for instance might be a better all around player than an infielder that makes the team but might be the 5th or 6th outfielder on the depth chart. He might be sent to the minors rather than make the team because there is a need for a certain amount of players to play the infield. The same could be said about some right-handed pitchers when the team might need a few left-handers or starters and relievers. Some players can do most anything – like super-sub Ryan Flaherty for the Orioles. The more positions a player can play the more valuable they are to the team. Yet – most players can only play one position. Everyone can’t pitch. Everyone cannot hit clean- up. It is part of the manager’s decision which 25 players will help him long-term throughout the season and at what position. Continue reading

March 28, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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