Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

November Fast is Coming

Romans 8:6

The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace;

Photo on 10-9-18 at 2.15 PMI’m challenging all of our readers and my congregation to join me in the month of November on a fast. Fasting is not a spiritual discipline many pay much attention to these days. Fasting is a time of spiritual control over something in the temporal world. I plan to place this challenge before the congregation. I will encourage them to find something in their life that either controls them or deters their walk with Jesus – and fast from it for one month – the month of November.

I want us to be challenged to think spiritually rather than with our natural minds. Let’s begin with today’s passage in partial context. Romans 8:5-8 – 5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

I want to bring up one more Scripture for our devotional thought today – 2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  The old is the human – carnal – natural – sinful self. There are many things that we feel drawn toward – maybe genetically – maybe environmentally – maybe a combination of nature and nurture. The point is – not all things we might be drawn toward in our natural human self can be considered godly or acceptable as Christians. I could make an argument that my physical structure gives me every right to be heavy – I mean I am big-boned – I have broad shoulders – I have an appetite that is enormous – always have and always will I assume. From my earliest remembrances I have had a big appetite. As a young adult I could down two double Whoppers – two large orders of fries and a large milkshake as a nighttime snack. And while I was active – officiating sports all year round – playing basketball every free moment and keeping otherwise busy – it never showed up in my weight. But this sinful desire – this over active appetite (a human desire) – has shown itself in significant ways as an adult who has slowed down. I gained over 100 plus pounds since my young adult days. I maxed out a few years ago and have been on a journey to find me inside this fat man. Continue reading

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October 15, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, Fast, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Missions, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Letting Our Light So Shine

Matthew 5:14

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

Photo on 10-9-18 at 2.15 PMThe month of October is the beginning of darker days. 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.

Continue reading

October 10, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Being Content – Is It Possible?

Philippians 4:11

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

Photo on 9-10-18 at 11.09 AMThink about this question for a moment. Have you ever been content? Have you ever had enough? Have you ever been satisfied? When is enough – enough? How much do we need? Are we storing up more than we need?

Have we ever been content? At times – being content might take away our drive – our desire – to accomplish more. But the contentment that Paul is writing about in today’s passage has to do with things – learning to be content with the things we have or don’t have.

One church I served went to Appalachia each summer. We sent teams to ASP (Appalachia Service Project). We learned just how much we had and how much we take for granted. It really helped us think about things in a different way. We had way more than almost everyone we served – and yet they were happy and often content. Continue reading

October 9, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 2019 Budget Process Begins

Romans 16:5

Greet also the church that meets at their house. Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia.

Photo on 9-10-18 at 11.09 AMIn the early Christian church – many times the church met in the homes of its members. The Body of Christ often provided the ministry. As we enter October – we will soon be in another budget season for 2019. As we fast approach a new budget season in the life of our church some serious questions arise for us to consider. Some of these questions point toward our vision and mission as a church. What is our main focus? What is our mission? Our desire – our heart – is to reach everyone for Christ – to make disciples for Jesus. Are our ministries set up to do so? Is our budget geared to help us reach the lost for Jesus? How we go about this process might be as important as the vision itself.

What do we need to make disciples? Do we need a large building? Do we need a large staff? Do we need an active laity? Speaking of a building – David Platt writes – Why would we spend an inordinate amount of our resources on something that is never prescribed or even encouraged in the New Testament? In his book A Radical Idea – David asks some deep questions. It is an eye opener and a book all pastors and church leaders should read IMHO. Continue reading

October 1, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is Holy Ground for You?

Exodus 3:5

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”

Photo on 9-10-18 at 11.09 AMWhat is holy ground for you? I’ve got a friend who is trying – in his lifetime – to visit all of the Major League ballparks. The endeavor takes him and his son all over the country each summer as they strive to visit all of the parks. It is sort of a holy grail type journey – walking on holy ground – as it were.

What is holy ground for you? Speaking of going to ballparks – I remember the first time I attended a MLB game. Visiting that ballpark – old Griffith Stadium – in DC – as a child with my dad to watch the Washington Senators was exciting. Seeing Frank Howard up close for the first time was eye-opening – because he was so huge! I remember seeing the painted seats in the outfield where Frank’s homers landed. It was hallowed ground if not holy ground. Continue reading

September 19, 2018 Posted by | Bring, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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