Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Following Jesus Is Easy And Hard!

Matthew 16:24

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

Following Jesus is easy and hard at the same time.

It is easy – because God has done all the work to provide salvation for all who would receive it. Ephesians 2:8-9 – 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

It is hard – because we must continually fight our human – sinful – nature. Psalms 51:5 – Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. The sin nature is something that Christ came to control if not destroy in us. 2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! I have often said the old has gone – as Christ comes into our lives – but it hasn’t gone far. Continue reading

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February 6, 2018 Posted by | Bring, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, Fast, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy New Year – 2018

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

Happy New Year! I’m reworking a past New Year’s Day devotional. I hope that your day – your New Year – got off to a great start. Steve Furtick once tweeted – The way your day starts doesn’t have to be the way your day finishes. We can always make improvements as the day goes along. We can always make improvements as the year unfolds.

This morning I was playing some basketball with some friends. I hit a couple of 3’s and made some nice passes – but didn’t have an exceptional day. But I stuck with it and had a good morning workout – even if I didn’t play very well. Our new years may not always produce the best days – but if we stick to it – stick to our goals – in the end – we might just have a good year.

Typically – on New Year’s Day – some friends and I play golf – 5 degree weather was just a little too cold for me. Continue reading

January 1, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

All Saint’s Day 2017

Psalm 116:15

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.

Early this morning I was watching the news. The news is very rarely good. Today they were reliving the terror attack in New York yesterday. When will we protect our boarders and keep such radicals out of our country? I know that is not an easy subject – but we need to do something to keep our shores safe – if that is possible in this day and age. I don’t mean to be political – but something needs to be done!

Later today I will help to celebrate the life of a lifetime friend – Doris. She was a special lady for sure. One I fondly remember from my days as a child and later as a pastor – serving the church where she attended. I have many memories of Doris. Most of them are good! I will share some of them today at her service of celebration. I especially remember how she loved her Jesus!

All Saint’s Day of late – always reminds me – of my dear departed father and now my mother. They loved Jesus with all their hearts. They knew and experienced God and they now rest in peace with Jesus. I have confidence in this fact – it is part of my faith – part of my walk with Jesus. Do we know Jesus? Is Jesus our personal Lord and Savior? Do we have a personal relationship with Jesus? All of these are good questions. What are our answers? Continue reading

November 1, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alive To God In Christ Jesus

Romans 6:11

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

I had a young person in my office recently. This young person was having a battle with an addiction and was asking for my recommendation on how to overcome the addiction. When they were in the midst of their addictive behavior – they would feel the Holy Spirit pricking their heart – yet they enjoyed the addiction – so they often pushed the Spirit aside. It was a real struggle – a struggle many of us have battled before and will battle in the future.

I know a person who has battled addiction for many decades. They have suffered much. Their family has suffered much as well. They seemingly had defeated the addiction for a long period of time only to have it rear its ugly head again. Addiction is never gone – it is always one day at a time. Our victory is only a needle – a bottle – a porn site away. Addiction can at times make us seem powerless to control ourselves. Continue reading

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

Are We A New Creation?

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Today’s passage should be very familiar to us. If you have heard me preach or teach for any length of time – you have heard this passage used. I wonder if we give it much thought.

It may be painful – but try to remember if we can – if we know Jesus as our Lord and Savior – what it felt like before we made the decision to follow Him. I made the decision as a youth – but I can remember the feeling after I made the decision more than the feeling beforehand. I mean – I grew up in the church – and although a sinner – not a really bad person. I did think I was a Christian beforehand – thinking that because I went to church I was a Christian. But soon after giving my heart to Jesus – I knew what it was like to be a new creation. I felt like flying – I felt free – I felt relieved and blessed.

I have talked to some who received Christ later in life and they have similar reports – but with a deeper memory of their life prior to Jesus. Some walked in drugs or alcohol. Some lived lives of crime. Some didn’t grow up in the church. Can we remember? What is our story? Continue reading

June 28, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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