Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Reaching the Lost for Jesus

Luke 19:10

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.

Life ChangeWhen I read this passage recently – I thought of this passage – Matthew 9:12 – On hearing this, Jesus said, It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.

I believe at times the church forgets our vision or purpose. In my 40 plus years of ministry – my purpose has been to reach everyone for Christ. The implication – although subtle – is that those who know Christ are not my primary target in the church. Not that they are ignored – but if they know Jesus – part of my task is to build them up so they can reach other for Christ. If we know Jesus – we should want to be built up and be sent out to serve Christ. Our main or primary focus needs to be the lost – those who do not know Jesus. That should be the primary target group of any church IMHO.

Jesus instructed His disciples this way – as part of His final instructions to them. Matthew 28:19 – Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Now – one could argue that becoming a disciple is more than being saved – but the indication when you talk about all the nations – or even Israel – is that they were unsaved (there weren’t too many Christians at the time of this statement!). Continue reading

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

Don’t Repay Evil for Evil

1 Peter 3:9

Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing.

Life ChangeHatred and evil are running rampant in our nation these days. Satan is having a hay day it seems. The deep divide in our nation is getting wider and deeper.

We have seen a battle of late over our southern border. The President of the United States (the POTUS) laid out his plan to protect and secure our southern border last night. No sooner had he shared his plan – leaders of the opposing political party got on the airways to rebut what he had just said. There was a disconnect – it seemed to me. Their response didn’t really address the situation at the border. It merely said the POTUS had it wrong. It seems like we have gotten to the place where policies are right or wrong – depending on the person or political party expressing them. These same politicians from the left were toting exactly what the POTUS expressed a few short years ago when they were in power. This is not healthy for our nation and in my opinion is simply hatred. It is not in the best interest of our nation for the two main parties to simply oppose one another – instead of working together to compromise and work for our nation’s best interest.

Instead of simply standing still and throwing mud at each other – giving evil for evil so to speak – they should get together and solve the government shutdown and border security issue (something many on both sides voted for in the past).

One truth that I have always heard through the years is this – hurting people hurt others. If healing is to occur – we need for people to break the chain of hurting each other. In marriage counseling – I often run into couples who are in a vicious cycle of tit for tat (equivalent retaliation) – he/she did this or said this and so I must say or do this back! Trying to give as much as we get is not healthy! The Old Testament’s tooth for tooth justice is not good for trying to heal relationships. The New Testament call to turn the other cheek is what will allow for the space for healing. Continue reading

January 9, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Serve One Another Humbly

Galatians 5:13

Serve one another humbly in love

Life ChangeSunday ended our week this winter – serving the homeless community – with the warm night shelter program. I’m always impressed by those who participate in this ministry. Many stay up all night and then go to work the next day. I know this is hard – regardless of your age – because I have been doing it one night each year. If the men are calm and sleeping – the hardest part of spending the night is staying up all night and then going to work the next day. From Monday at 6 am till Tuesday at 10 pm I got about 2 hours of sleep and it wasn’t easy. I crashed on Tuesday night and slept in some Wednesday morning. I know others who have worked more evenings than one. I’m not sure how they do it.

Aside from the lack of sleep – the amazing part of the week is getting to know the men who visit the shelter. I usually take the time to sit and eat several dinners with the men – talking with them and getting to know them. Several of the men have jobs. We talked about their work. Several of the men were new to the shelter program this year. Several of the men from years past have found shelter elsewhere. Continue reading

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

Where Do You See Jesus?

John 14:9

Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

Life ChangeFor the next few weeks – I’d like to ask our readers to share with me where they see Jesus this Advent-Christmas Season. Just write a paragraph or so describing some of the things that bring you joy this Christmas season in your relationship with Jesus and with First Church if this is your home church? I’m also asking where you see Jesus in your church family? Also – what draws you to First Church. You don’t have to tackle all of these – but say something about the joy you feel this Christmas.

The reason for this is to stir up some joy and excitement this Christmas Season (we all need some of that – right?). I will share your thoughts anonymously – but I am keeping your e-mails for sure (I need joy year round). I will try to post a comment a day so as many as possible – send your comments. The posts will go up around 9 am each day – just like our regular devotional thoughts. Continue reading

December 12, 2018 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Send, Theology | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

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

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