Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Be Still – And Know That God Is Present

Psalm 46:10

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

112015 Ray McDonaldHow’s your Prayer/Fast going? If you began on the first day of the Revival (2/7) – you’d be on day 17 of a 49 day Prayer/Fast. Any stories to share?

I remember – seems like a lifetime ago – we use to sing Be Still My Soul in worship – often. It was a favorite hymn it seemed.

Lyrics go like this – 1. Be still, my soul: The Lord is on your side; Bear patiently the cross cross of grief or pain. Leave to your God to order and provide; In every change God faithful will remain. Be still, my soul: your best, your heavenly friend Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end. 2. Be still, my soul; your God will undertake To guide the future as he has the past. Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake; All now mysterious shall be bright at last. Be still, my soul; the waves and wind still know His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below. 3. Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on When we shall be forever with the Lord, When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone, Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored. Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past, All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

It is an old hymn – written by Katharina von Schlegel – 1752 and transposed by Jane Borthwick – 1855. It is in our hymnals and we still sing it from time to time. Continue reading

February 23, 2016 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, Fast, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Sermons, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Always Give Yourself Fully

1 Corinthians 15:58

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

112015 Ray McDonaldHere we are – the first Saturday of our Prayer/Fast. How’s your Prayer/Fast going?

We’re getting close to March Madness and our local college team – the University of Maryland Terps – both the women’s and men’s teams are ranked high with high expectations. I wouldn’t be surprised if both teams make the final four or at least the Elite eight. And wouldn’t it be great if both came away with championships!

In most team sports – as we just witnessed in the Super Bowl – where the Denver Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers – team work plays a big part and giving your all does as well. Peyton Manning – perhaps playing in his final NFL game – put everything on the line – working his way back from serious surgery and injury – to help his team win. There were players on both teams giving their all – fully. Some players – at times in the game – seemed to back away from giving their all. One play – late in the game – when the game was still on the line – a Panther player seemed to back away from contact when a fumble was on the ground. It may have costs his team a chance to take the lead. Continue reading

February 13, 2016 Posted by | Build, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Fast, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jesus First!

Colossians 1:17

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 

112015 Ray McDonaldSo – how’s your Prayer/Fast going? I would love to read some comments on how your fast is going and how God is speaking to you through your prayer time. My fast is so-so at this point. I am still deciding what else to fast from since I changed my mind about Social Media for ministry purposes. My prayer life is growing each day.

Being more intentional about putting Jesus first in our lives is so very important. Times like our Prayer/Fast help to draw us to this truth. The more we remove the secular things from our lives – the more we add spiritual things to our lives – the closer we get to Jesus – and putting Him first. Romans 12:2 – Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Here is today’s passage in partial context. Colossians 1:15-20 – 15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Continue reading

February 12, 2016 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Fast, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Strive to be Blameless and Pure

Philippians 2:15

…so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky

112015 Ray McDonaldDear readers – how’s your Prayer/Fast going? I will try to ask this each day or as often as possible.  I hope that some of our readers will leave comments on this blog page as to how their Prayer/Fast is going and what God might be revealing to them.

Let me report that my Prayer/Fast is going well – although I may reconsider my fast from Social Media. I found out just how much I use Social Media in ministry these last two days.  To avoid it – would hinder me – I think. Keeping up with members and youth/young adults through social media helps me greatly. I will reconsider it – maybe not comment as much but still keep in touch.  I will seek something else.  Any ideas?

I have spent more time in prayer and reading the Word of God during the first few days of the Prayer/Fast. I feel a new closeness to Jesus. Every little bit helps!  I am doing two reading plans from http://www.youversion.com and encourage our readers to find a plan that works for you.  Mine are The One Year Bible and Devotions for Lent from Holy Bible: Mosaic if you desire to read along. Continue reading

February 9, 2016 Posted by | Bring, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Fast, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Deny Self and Draw Near to God

Luke 9:23

 Then he said to them all: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

112015 Ray McDonaldDenying self is not easy. Taking away things you enjoy – for a variety of reasons – is not easy. I enjoy a good Diet Pepsi or ten – I love the carbonation and the taste. But I might be addicted so I need to deny myself! Some studies have also shown that they are not good for the body!  It will not be easy – but my last Diet Pepsi was Saturday at noon.

Denying self is not easy. Taking away things you enjoy – for a variety of reasons – is not easy. I’m cutting out desserts and as much sugar and flour as possible. I’m sure it will be hard at first – but in time – I will not miss it at all! And it will be better for my body for sure.

Denying self is not easy. Taking away things you enjoy – for a variety of reasons – is not easy. I like technology and I enjoy social media and some online games (like solitaire). But they can become time consuming and they can take valuable time from each and every day – time I could use to be more productive and to spend with God.  In a previous prayer/fast – I stopped playing Farmville – and have never played it again.

I plan to use the time I gain from cutting things out of my day to spend more time with Jesus! Here are some devotional materials for our 49-day Prayer/Fast. Continue reading

February 8, 2016 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Fast, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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