Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Being An Encouragement and Strength

2 Timothy 4:17

But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth.

Rays HaircutDuring this pandemic – I urge us to be there for one another. We never know when a word of encouragement or even our presence online with someone in need will be a memory that will get them through some difficult times in the future as well as that moment.

We connect every weeknight at 7 pm on Zoom – and some of our folks make it every night. Would we rather be face-to-face – of course we would! Would we rather be able to hug our children and grands – of course we would! But – being present as we are able – is still so essential in our relationships.

Paul had been encouraged by our Lord being by his side. Timothy was encouraged by Paul. Who encourages us? Whom do we encourage? Continue reading

April 17, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gracious Words

Proverbs 16:24

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Ray 2020One thing that the quarantine has given many of us is more time on social media. That is a two-edged sword for sure. It is good that some of us have been challenged to learn more and grow in our ability to connect with folks electronically. It is not so good that more people have an opportunity to share their thoughts and that some are so negative and mean.

Right in the middle of our great divide in our denomination and in our country (the USA) – this pandemic has given way too many who would increase our divide on social media and in the regular media. Negative comments about our President for instance – during a time of crisis – is not helping anyone. For some – the crisis is just a time to make political points. Continue reading

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

God Loves Us

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

June 2019Tuesday night at VBS – today’s passage – was the passage of the evening. We were telling the children that God loved them – each of them – individually. We started on Sunday night with stories of God’s love. on Monday night we talked about God loving everyone. Tuesday night we talked about God loving us individually – and today’s passage was the main passage.

If you watch golf at all – you are well aware that at many golf tournaments – someone will probably have a sign behind the golfers (where the cameras catch it) that reads John 3:16. This passage hit home with me this week as I watched the national and the international scene unfold around me. I’m wrestling with the needs of others and the need to secure our borders. I’m trying to understand the need to protect our people from terrorists and other threats. I listen to the debates about building a wall – denying certain people entrance into the USA – and the need to keep track of certain people. It can be very confusing at times and very mind blowing. All people are God’s children – even those who do not obey Him or even believe in Him. Yet – in society we have boundaries and borders and nations.

As Christians who are from a certain nation – we are often caught dealing with our national interests and our Christian global interests. Christ died for the whole world (although all will not accept His free gift of salvation). Christ died for the people we are trying to keep out of our nation – even the criminal elements. It is a hard place at times. It is tough taking a stand because there are arguments on both sides of most discussions. I tried this week to ask for thoughts on a clergy page and all I received was one offer to talk person-to-person (not doable at this time) and pushback for the way I presented my question. If even clergy cannot discuss this issue – how can we expect others to do so? Continue reading

July 11, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 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

Discussions On Social Media Can Be Destructive

Matthew 7:1

Do not judge, or you too will be judged.

Of late – it seems to me – some people have allowed their emotions to inform their political views. Social Media has a lot to do with this because things that might have only been discussed in the home or with close friends can be discussed in the public arena. I’ve gotten caught up in it as well from time to time and once again find myself retreating from Social Media – because I do not want to cause division in the church or among my friends. Discussions on Social Media can be destructive and divisive. I tend to be more conservative than many of my local colleagues and even some of my friends. As tolerant as we might think we are – we seem to have trouble discussing things and being hospitable to those who have a different view.

In the last few weeks – even months – even years – our immigration policy has been debated ad nauseam – it seems – on Social Media. Some colleagues and friends seem to be in favor of open borders – some seem to be in favor of stricter border control. Some want to call folks who are in our country illegally – undocumented – others would simply say they are criminals who are here illegally and should be arrested and returned to their homelands. Some say we should enforce our laws – some say the laws are bad and should be ignored. Some say we should improve or correct the current laws – others say the laws are good – we simply need to enforce them. Continue reading

June 20, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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