Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Sound Doctrine – We Need to Hold To It

Hebrews 13:9

Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings (doctrines).   It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them.

img_0063-2A number of people have debated Biblical truth over the years. Sound doctrine – even settled doctrine for 2000 plus years – is being debated by some well-intentioned individuals. People are trying to equate God’s love with some sense of an overwhelming acceptance of sin or even describing sinful acts as acceptable to God. The signs of the end are all around us dear readers. I read in today’s passage that sound doctrine is put up against ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them. We must feast on sound doctrine – rather than on what sounds good with today’s culture.

The example I want to use to help us get the point today is the obesity of our society. Far too often our children – and adults – are fed foods that are empty of value but full of calories. Junk foods – satisfy the mind and stomach – but do not add proper nutrition. These foods are filled with sugar – calories – and chemicals – that are not good for the body. The term junk food refers to items that may taste good – but have little – if any nutritional value. They are high in calories and often loaded with fat. Soft drinks – chips – cookies – candy bars – and much of the food from fast-food stops fit this category.

Our society has a hard time with our weight – because we fill ourselves with way too much feel good junk food. I believe we have the same problem with our theology. Way too often we turn our itching ears to false truths because they sound good. We’re warned about this position by God as Paul writes in his second letter to Timothy. Continue reading

January 15, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Puts A Smile On Our Face?

Exodus 34:29
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.

Ray 2019What brings a smile to your face? Of course the first answer I would give these days is spending time with our children and grandchildren. We now have five grandchildren with a sixth on the way (eventually – an adoption from South Korea). Another answer might be this long 9 game winning streak by the Baltimore Ravens – which put them into the playoffs and currently the #1 seed in the AFC. Currently – the playoffs come through Baltimore. Another answer might be a late comeback by the #3 ranked Maryland Terp basketball team.

The Ravens have won the last two games – against two very good teams – by very close margins. They proved that they can win the close games against some very good teams. Of the current 11 playoff teams not the Ravens – the Ravens have beaten 6 of them – and some of those games were not even close.

I was smiling when the Terps came back from double digits down to win their opening Big10 game this week. The last second 3 pointer and and 1 of 2 free throws (the second missed on purpose with only 2.1 seconds remaining) had me cheering – loudly.

Still another reason to smile might be when my wife ran a 1/2 marathon. Another smile came across my face yesterday when several persons received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and others re-confirmed their faith. Other things bring a smile to my face – like when a friend makes a good shot in golf and gets excited about it. When we see someone with a smile on their face we usually think something just happened and we tend to be curious.

How about when people notice you have lost weight? Better yet – when they say something encouraging to you (if losing weight was what you were after). I remember when one of my daughters greeted me with a hug and she said – getting skinny dad – as she wrapped her arms around me? What about someone saying something about your new hairdo or your new dress (or suit)? How about the smell of your favorite food – or freshly baked bread – or bacon frying (that one always brings a smile to my face)? Continue reading

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

How Is Our Relationship With The Holy Spirit?

John 16:13

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.

Life ChangeAs we enter the fall and winter holiday seasons – I really miss my dad. I often went to dad with spiritual and personal issues in my life. I would also talk to him about church life and share my concerns and my joys. He was a good sounding board – a man of faith and a man of love. He guided me through many troubling waters and helped me avoid so many as well. The holidays are not the same without him.

Is there someone in your life that fits this bill? Is there someone who we turn to in times of need and times of joy? A number of my friends are fellow clergy and we often have people coming to us for guidance on issues in life.

My children come to me from time to time – but not nearly as often as I would like – seeking guidance. I miss my dad greatly – because he was a source of strength for me. Do you have someone you go to? Continue reading

November 5, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Real Lasting Joy

Luke 1:47

…and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

Life ChangeSunday we begin a new sermon series on the Holy Spirit. The sermon titles are: The Holy Spirit ComesThe Power of the Holy SpiritThe Holy Spirit Helps Us – and Street Cred. These sermons will come from the Book of Acts. We have been studying the Book of Acts on Tuesdays in our two studies – one at 10:30 am and one at 7:00 pm. Both are co-ed and all are welcome. The last two Tuesdays – we’ve had 47 and 44 people between the two studies. You can listen to these sermons here when they are posted.

We’re headed to the Advent season in one month. The coming of Christ is a season of great joy. The joy that Jesus brings to all people is clear. Luke 2:10–11 – 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

Jesus’ arrival brings great joy to the people – and not only to His people but to all who would hear and follow Him. Jesus was the Messiah – the Anointed One – the Deliverer – the One who would break the bonds of oppression for His people. Never before or since has the birth of a baby been so anticipated or sought after. Jesus’ birth was to bring great and lasting joy. Continue reading

November 1, 2019 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Straining Toward What Is Ahead Of Us

Philippians 3:13

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amOne of the biggest issues most of us face is forgetting the past and straining toward the future – what is ahead of us. Some of us tend to live in the past and the past – most often – will only hold us down and hold us back. Forgiving ourselves is often the problem – as we mentioned in Sunday’s sermon. Long after we have confessed our sin to God and repented (grieved and turned away) of them and God has offered grace and mercy we still tend to hang on to the guilt at times. Anyone with me this morning?

Paul was focused on being holy – being perfect – striving after Jesus with all in his power. In striving for perfection – he couldn’t – he wouldn’t – allow himself to dwell on past sin – having confessed it and repented of it – he was focused on the task ahead.

Satan wants us to dwell on our past sins. Satan wants to steal the joy of forgiveness – mercy – and grace. Satan wants us to live in guilt and without the freedom that comes from forgiveness. Continue reading

October 17, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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