Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Fixing Our Eyes On Jesus

Hebrews 12:2

…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

I have been a pastor for 40 plus years and in the church my whole life (62 years and counting). I have developed a number of sayings over the years that – for me – help sum up our faith or help me understand it a little better. One of my favorites and the favorite of many is this – Christianity boils down to attitude. I developed this saying in my early ministry because I saw that the church (including me) often has an attitude issue – a heart issue. Too many times disagreements within the church came down to attitudes and personal desires rather than an earnest seeking of God’s will. We often have quarrels among us because of our feelings rather than a disagreement on God’s will.

With this understanding – a number of years ago I added the following to this favorite saying to make my intent more clear – Christianity boils down to attitude – the condition and position of one’s heart. Too many times personal desires and interests divide even the Body of Christ. I know of churches that were divided over the color of the curtains in the social hall or whether to have pew cushions or not. I’ve known churches that have been divided over whether to have an organ or a piano and most recently over whether to have a praise band or not in worship. I’ve known churches that were so inwardly focused at times – that real eternal issues never got discussed. Real heaven or hell issues could not be addressed in some churches – because the membership was too divided over trivial things – over things that do not promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Continue reading

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July 19, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Excites Us?

1 Corinthians 7:12-14

If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband.

What excites us? Did we get excited during the NBA or Hockey playoffs – even if our team didn’t go far? My favorite teams made it to the playoffs but didn’t go far. Did watching the NBA Finals excite us? Did watching the Stanley Cup Finals excite us?

If sports don’t excite us – what does? Did the elections last year excite us? Did our candidate win? Whenever we vote we should not take our party into the booth with us – but rather – after careful consideration and prayer – vote for the candidate(s) we think will do the best for the people. Which candidate has the Christian values we support? Who would support abortion or who is for the life of the unborn child for instance? Who is out to protect the environment that God gave us dominion over? There are so many issues that as Christians we should be concerned about and we should search for the candidate who thinks as we do. Were we excited about the elections just past? How excited are we about the outcome? Continue reading

June 30, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God Knows All About Us

Psalm 139:3

You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.

When I was growing up – I had certain chores – like most of us I assume. One of my chores was to cut the grass. We had just moved into the new parsonage at Seat Pleasant UMC on Addison Road in Seat Pleasant – MD. That church has since been renamed Gethsemane UMC.

The grass was just starting to take root and so it was very thin – sparse. There were rocks in the soil and my dad instructed me to cut the grass with the mower pointing away from the house. This meant I would push the mower up the hill in our side yard and pull it down the hill. It was harder – I thought – than pushing it down hill and pulling it up the hill – so I turned the lawn mower around and did as I thought – rather than as my father had told me. Continue reading

April 10, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Being Pro-Life Is More Than Being Against Abortion

Psalm 139:14

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

RayMcDJanuary 1973 – I was 17 – soon to be 18 and a graduate of High School. I was preparing to enter Anne Arundel Community College (AACC or A2C2) for the summer semester to get a head start on college. I would raise my baseball officiating career to the college level by umpiring division one games at Navy that spring and be invited by Navy’s coach to go to Florida to umpiring school to become a professional umpire. Life was good – for me.  But January 1973 – is an infamous month in the history of our country. 44 years ago (I can’t believe I’ve been out of High School that long) the courts passed Roe v. Wade – which legalized killing babies in the womb – called abortion.

I understand that this is a hot button topic still today. Maybe especially today since President Trump is soon to name the next Supreme Court nominee and he or she will most assuredly be conservative on this issue. Vice President Pence is very pro-life and so maybe for the first time in 44 years there is hope for the pro-life movement.

I’ve written about abortion on several occasions – one article was titled – An Article about Abortion – written in 2009. Another article was titled simply – Abortion – written in 2008. Still another article was titled – Does It Take Controversy – written in 2012.  In 2011 I mentioned abortion in an article about the upcoming resolutions before General Conference in 2012. In 2011 I wrote another article titled – When Will Our Nation Awaken to Such a Great Sin?  In 2010 I wrote about abortion and used the example of a dear child that doctors said should be aborted and about a woman who was aborted but lived. In 2010 I also shared The Manhattan Declaration In Total. Continue reading

January 30, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Animals vs. The Yet Unborn Babies

Psalm 139:13-16

13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

RayMcDNews often comes in waves and every once in awhile articles written in the newspaper catch my eye and causes me to think. This was the case a number of years ago as I was reading with interest three articles of a similar tone.

The first story that caught my eye was the on-going saga surrounding Michael Vick – the starting quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons football team of the NFL (back in the early 2000’s). Mr. Vick has been indicted for having dog fights on his property. He was barred from his team’s camp. Eventually there were big fines – jail time – and other consequences that he faced when found guilty. It was appalling that anyone would make a sport out of dogs fighting and find enjoyment in two animals tearing each other apart. Personal satisfaction and entertainment drive us to do some terrible things in this society.

Another story I found was about a disturbed man who was angry with his neighbor. Two days in a row he came to his neighbor’s home and each day he stomped a cat to death. This is a horrific act and this man faced years of incarceration for such an evil act with psychological care as well. Continue reading

December 9, 2016 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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