Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Seeing Jesus Face-to-Face

1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

I pulled this message from five years ago. I’ve reworked it some but basically it is the same. My father’s passing five years ago is part of what has me emotionally depleted today.

As I sit in the hospital room with my dad my thoughts are scattered. I know I need time to grieve. I know my emotions are on edge. I know that just the sight of my in-laws this morning followed by my father’s brother brought tears to my heart – for them and for me. Did I say I know I need time to grieve? I know that working helps me grieve and helps control my emotions at the same time. I have thoughts like: what will I do without my father? Who will I turn to with my many questions in life? As the oldest son – the oldest patriarch of the family – what does that mean? Why can’t I be strong for the family and friends? Why must I be so emotional? What will my mom do without dad? What about my sister and brother and the grand/great children? What about my wife, my sister-in-law and my brother-in-law? My brother-in-law has been like a son to dad and has cared for him like his own father – and we cried in each other’s arms last night at the hospital! My mind races to the next steps. Should we have a private burial followed by a memorial service? Should we have a fellowship meal? Where will we hold the service? Who would we ask to help – there are so many pastors in the family – pastors dad influenced – pastors that know him and us? What funeral home will we use – we have such a good relationship with so many? Should we call Hospice Care? Is dad really comfortable? Can he still hear me pray with him? How many angels can dance on the head of a needle? These are just a few of the things running through my head. If you have been where I am right now – you know the many thoughts that are going through my mind. Continue reading

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September 19, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Let Our Words Encourage

Ephesians 4:29

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

I know we all have heard the old saying – sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never harm me. The intent was to toughen us up so to speak – so the words of others will not hurt us.

Unfortunately – words do hurt. The parent who says to the child who has brought home an amazing report card only to hear the parent say – if you would only bring this grade or that grade up. The parent or coach that is constantly belittling the player for the mistakes they make on the field or in life without ever praising the good the player or person does.

In this day and age – even in the church – we need to be reminded to be kind with our words. Our words should be an encouragement to others. We should say nothing unwholesome and nothing with a purpose of hurting another person. Continue reading

September 12, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Only Constant Is Change

Hebrews 13:8

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Life keeps changing! The only constant in life is change. A number of things in my own life have changed. I’ve been married longer than I wasn’t married (37 years this past summer verses 25 years not married). I celebrated 44 years since I graduated High School this past June. I saw a picture of me in High School the other day and I do not look the same today!

My children – my babies – are all grown. Two have children (my five granddaughters). My wife and daughters are such a blessing to me along with our granddaughters. I’ve been in ministry for 41 years. I’ve begun to think about retirement (although I hope to have a few more years left – maybe more!).

Life keeps changing! This summer the Nationals have played playoff bound baseball – the Orioles are trying to get in but it doesn’t seem to be a certainty for sure. The Redskins lost their season opening game while the Ravens won – shutting out the Bengals. The Wizards made the playoffs and so did the Capitals. That’s pretty good change for our area and Maryland is 2-0 after two convincing wins.

Continue reading

September 11, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Putting the Word of God on Our Hearts

Psalm 119:11

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

Today we began our Tuesday Bible studies. The morning class meets at 10:30 am in the Fellowship Hall. We had 6 of us this morning. We normally have between 6-12 – and the room can hold more so all are welcome.

Tonight we will start up the Men’s study again. We meet in the Fellowship Hall as well and meet at 7:00 pm. We normally have 8-12 men and would love to see you – if you can join us. Both studies will pick up where we left off in July – with Matthew 14:1.

The more we know the Word of God – the more useful a tool it will be for us in our spiritual journey. That is a reason – one of many – that I asked people to bring their Bibles with them on Sunday mornings instead of using the pew Bibles (or our data devices if we carry the Bible there). The more we use our Sword (the Bible) – the more useful that tool becomes to us – so we encourage people to bring their Bibles to church and to follow along (and keep the pastor on track). Today we can read our Bible on our smart phone/data device and even follow along on YouVersion.com and leave notes for later on the sermons (on our live events). Continue reading

September 5, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Devote Ourselves To Prayer

Colossians 4:2

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Sunday we began both worship services with prayer. The President of the United States (POTUS) called us to a time of prayer. That wasn’t the reason we prayed – but it was nice to hear our President call the nation to prayer. We need it.

We began the first service with a time of prayer for all impacted by hurricane Harvey. We prayed for peace around the world – naming the unrest in North Korea – and for the hearts and minds of world leaders – including our President. Later in the service – after hearing praise and prayer concerns we had a time of prayer for our relatives in need – for a college student heading back to Houston – for two members with medical issues and for others.

At our second service we began with a powerful prayer by one of our worship team and later – again after hearing praises and prayer concerns – we prayed for those impacted by Harvey and for world leaders – naming our President and the unrest in North Korea. We began our second prayer time by laying hands on a member who was present and in need of healing. Prayer is so powerful. Continue reading

September 4, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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