Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Lord – Examine Our Hearts

Psalm 139:1

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.

Christianity boils down to attitude – the condition and position of one’s heart. This is one of my favorite sayings. I believe if our hearts are in the right place – centered on Christ and not on self – we will have the right attitude and will glorify Him. The right attitude is so important for Christians. We must have the attitude of Christ – the heart and mind of Jesus. Philippians 2:5 (NIV) – In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: (NLT) You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

One thing I’ve come to know about myself and other church people is this – we cannot fool God! God knows our hearts and our motives and our attitudes. God knows the things we say or think in private. God knows our motives for the actions we take. God searches our hearts and knows even our thoughts – you know – those things we think but have a filter to not say out loud (most times). Continue reading

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October 5, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s View People As God Views Them

1 Samuel 16:7c

Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

Our culture spends lots of time and money trying to work on our outward appearance. We pay tons of money and spend tons of time trying to lose weight – and to tone up what we have left. We spend major resources on our clothes and on our hair. Some of us even have surgeries to try and improve our outward appearance. We seem to care a lot about our outward appearance.

Today’s passage is found in the midst of God’s rejection of Saul as King. He was the people’s favorite because of his stature and his skill in battle. But as Samuel and God discuss this subject – Samuel saw another that seemed to fit his view of what a king should look like in Eliab – an older brother of David. David – of course – at his tender age – didn’t look anything like a king – but God knew his heart. In the midst of this we read these verses: 1 Samuel 16:6-7 – 6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.” 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Continue reading

October 3, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Love More And Have A Better Attitude

Romans 15:5

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had…

I’ve written a number of posts over the years about attitude. I believe attitude is so very important – possibly essential in our Christian walk. One of my favorite sayings has to do with attitude and Christianity. It goes like this – Christianity boils down to attitude – the condition and position of one’s heart. But how do we improve our attitude toward someone – especially someone who has hurt us or who is unlikeable?

Our love for one another and our love for God – has a lot to do with our attitude. The Bible says that if we don’t have love then we have nothing – and we are nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:2 – If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. Having and expressing love – Christ-like love – is at the core of our faith. Continue reading

August 7, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

Smile – What Brings a Smile to Your Face?

Exodus 34:29
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.

What brings a smile to your face? Of course the first answer I would give these days is spending time with my grandchildren (and children). We now have five grandchildren. Another answer might be a long winning streak by the Baltimore Orioles or Washington Nationals (even a win would be great at times). The opening day win in the 11th inning by the Birds Monday brought a smile to my face. Still another might be time spent with my wife. I could get very pastoral here and say a smile comes across my face when a person receives Jesus Christ – when the light comes on for them in their personal relationship with Jesus. Other things bring a smile to my face as well (like when my friend makes a good shot in golf and gets excited about it). When we see someone with a smile on their face we usually think something just happened and we tend to be curious.

How about when people notice you have lost weight? Better yet – when they say something encouraging to you (if losing weight was what you were after). I remember when one of my daughters greeted me with a hug and she said – getting skinny dad – as she wrapped her arms around me? What about someone saying something about your new hairdo or your new dress (or suit)? How about the smell of your favorite food – or freshly baked bread – or bacon frying (that one always brings a smile to my face)? Continue reading

April 5, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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