Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Are There Any Absolutes These Days?

Psalm 11:3

…while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,

Life ChangeOne of my favorite all-time shows is the Andy Griffith show. I grew up watching Andy, Opie, Barney and Aunt Bea. Times were good and even the unchurched were fairly moral people and they had good values in Mayberry. The setting for this show was the late 50’s and early 60’s – just a few states south of us. I’m not suggesting we could ever return to these times – nor should we strive to for sure – but it was a time when absolutes were accepted – even among the unchurched.

I wish that the troubles Opie had would be the troubles our youth would get into today. Unfortunately – our youth – and our society as a whole – are far beyond the sins of Mayberry (and Mayberry wasn’t perfect for sure). Our communities used to resemble Mayberry’s morals and values. I can remember growing up near here. As a matter of fact – I can remember watching Mayberry as a child – and thinking my world was like this show. How did we get to the place we are today? How have we become so corrupt and sinful as a society (watch the news to see my point)? It seems that there are some in our society today that are trying to call sin – acceptable. They are trying to change established truths. I know – much about us needs to change – and over time – much has changed – but I ask – are there no absolutes? Continue reading

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

Forgiveness Is a Wonderful Thing!

Ephesians 4:32

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Life ChangeForgiveness is a wonderful thing! I love to play golf – golf just doesn’t always love me. In golf – some players take mulligans (sort of like a do over). It is not something you’re supposed to assume – it is something your playing partner might offer. Normally – when there wasn’t time to warm up – someone might say – mulligans on the first tee – which means you can take a second tee shot if your first one is a bad shot – a duffer. Of course – when you take a mulligan – you have to play it – even if your mulligan shot is worse than your original shot! Golf is complicated when you add mulligans – lol.

Forgiveness is a wonderful thing! Do overs in life can be a help too – like when you have said or done something you shouldn’t have and want to make amends. Saying you are sorry often helps – but making corrections to what you said or did goes beyond simply words. Oh how I wish I had some do overs in life.

Forgiveness is a wonderful thing! I did a reading plan recently on forgiveness. I urge our readers to get into a regular habit of reading the Word of God. Like I said Sunday in the sermon – knowing what we believe is important – but knowing our source is also important. Knowing why we believe what we believe and where we learned it is important. Continue reading

May 13, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Week After Easter

Psalm 119:147

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.

Life ChangeEaster 2019 has come and gone. Lent was a powerful time this year for me. Holy Week was amazing. I loved the Seder meal and the Good Friday service. Easter Sunrise service is always special for me – I’ve only missed one in my adult life that I can remember. I loved sharing that time with my father when possible. I loved the hill behind Mt. Zion with the benches and three crosses and the sun rising over the hill – the pavilion at Mt. Oak (with the cross in the field) – and the prayer garden at First Church – just to name the last three churches I’ve served. Each holds many special memories.

On Easter morning I usually arise around 4 am. Sunrise this year was at 6:20 am so we started our service at 6 am. I know that some of our men and women – some of my friends – wake that early or earlier on a regular basis. One of my son-in-laws gets up that early most every day to go to work. It is not my usual time to rise though. As a matter of fact – there have been nights I haven’t gone to sleep until that time! My normal time to rise is 6:00 am or thereabouts. By that time we were starting worship on Easter morning. It was a powerful morning – we had a great time worshiping God. We invited other churches and the community to join us. The sun rising will remind us that the Son rose. Continue reading

April 24, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Do You Think About Easter?

Matthew 28:5–6

5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

Life ChangeIn reading an article on Barna.org titled Most Americans Consider Easter a Religious Holiday, But Fewer Correctly Identify its Meaning a few years ago I came across some interesting findings.  Below is some quoted material from that article.

Who Celebrates Easter as Religious Holiday?

The types of Americans who were most likely to express some type of theistic religious connection with Easter were evangelicals (93%), attenders of large churches (86% among those whose congregation has 500-plus adult attenders), born again Christians (81%), and weekly churchgoers (77%).

Republicans (77%) and Democrats (71%) were more likely than were independents (59%) and non-registered citizens (51%) to say Easter has religious meaning for them.

In terms of age, members of the Boomer generation (73%, ages 45 to 63) were among the most likely to describe Easter as a religious holiday for them, compared with two-thirds of Elders (66% of those ages 64-plus) and Busters (66%, ages 26 to 44). The youngest adult generation, the Mosaics (ages 18 to 25), were the least likely age segment to say Easter is a religious holiday (58%), reflecting the increasingly secular mindset of young adults. Continue reading

April 22, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Holy Week – Let’s Focus on Jesus

Colossians 3:2

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Life ChangeYesterday – Palm Sunday – we began Holy Week. This is the week before Jesus’ crucifixion. Thursday will be Holy or Maundy Thursday. We will remember the Lord’s Supper this year with a Seder Meal. It will be a powerful experience and we hope all who signed up to attend will indeed be able to attend.

Friday – this week – is Good Friday. As a young child I couldn’t figure out why it was called Good Friday if it was the day that Jesus died. Later I realized that it was called Good Friday because it was good for us that He died – to pay for our sins. We will have a service at 7 pm in the Sanctuary as we continue our walk to the cross with John’s Gospel account. It is very important that we all attend the Good Friday service. Change your plans to be here – if you weren’t planning to attend. Sunday – Easter morning – will not have the same meaning without attending worship on Good Friday. I promise you! Let’s set our minds on Jesus – and see what will happen. Continue reading

April 15, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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