Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

It Seems Hard To Love One Another

John 14:15

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

Life ChangeIt seems hard to love one another. For example – I tried to cheer on the Washington Nationals as they were in the playoffs and eventually won Major League Baseball’s World Championship. Yet – pushback came from National’s fans calling me a pretend fan who was jumping on the bandwagon late. I also took pushback from others – calling me out for rooting for the Nationals – since I’m a diehard Orioles fan – as if I couldn’t root for another local team – simply because my team wasn’t in the playoffs. I could better understand if the Orioles and Nationals were in the same league or division and competing for the same league championship. But the Nationals are my National League team – since I was a young child – I’ve rooted for the local Washington team – back in the day it was the Senators (my dad was a big fan). When I was 12 – I began to root for the Orioles and have stayed with them ever since.

It seems hard to love one another. For example – because I have Facebook friends from all walks of life – we don’t all agree on many subjects. Be it sports (Ravens and Steeler fans – Oriole and Yankee fans) – or politics (Republican and Democrat – Trump and Hillary or now Trump or anyone but Trump) – or theologically (left and right – liberal and conservative – Christian and atheists or others) – my friends are all over the place. We hardly agree on much of anything. As a matter of fact – some have unfriended me because of my beliefs (my theology or ideology). Continue reading

November 8, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Real Lasting Joy

Luke 1:47

…and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

Life ChangeSunday we begin a new sermon series on the Holy Spirit. The sermon titles are: The Holy Spirit ComesThe Power of the Holy SpiritThe Holy Spirit Helps Us – and Street Cred. These sermons will come from the Book of Acts. We have been studying the Book of Acts on Tuesdays in our two studies – one at 10:30 am and one at 7:00 pm. Both are co-ed and all are welcome. The last two Tuesdays – we’ve had 47 and 44 people between the two studies. You can listen to these sermons here when they are posted.

We’re headed to the Advent season in one month. The coming of Christ is a season of great joy. The joy that Jesus brings to all people is clear. Luke 2:10–11 – 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

Jesus’ arrival brings great joy to the people – and not only to His people but to all who would hear and follow Him. Jesus was the Messiah – the Anointed One – the Deliverer – the One who would break the bonds of oppression for His people. Never before or since has the birth of a baby been so anticipated or sought after. Jesus’ birth was to bring great and lasting joy. Continue reading

November 1, 2019 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our Clothing Matters

Colossians 3:12

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amDear readers – did we have a favorite piece of clothing growing up? I apparently – according to old photos – had a favorite cowboy shirt and a favorite red baseball hat. In many of my childhood pictures – from a certain age – that was what I had on.

I still have favorite clothes – enjoying the more casual look over anything too dressy. When I was a teen I had a favorite hat that was always on my head it seems. I remember when I finally had to give it up – it was old – torn and smelled from years of sweating in it. I remember buying it with my own money at Ocean City as a young teen. I know my girlfriends probably didn’t like it much – but it was a favorite!

As a pastor – I know there are proper times to wear certain clothes. For instance – I when I have a funeral – I will bring my collar and my suit jacket to work with me – so I can change before the service. I will return to the office for meetings after the funeral and put on my church shirt – a polo shirt with my name and the church’s name on it or a regular polo shirt. I hardly ever wear a tie anymore – using the clergy collar shirt when I need to dress up. Continue reading

October 22, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Know Mighty Warriors

Jeremiah 20:11

But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonor will never be forgotten.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amLamar Jackson – Marlon Humphreys – Earl Thomas – Mark Ingram and Marcus Peters – just to name a few Baltimore Ravens who played like mighty warriors in yesterday’s win over the Seattle Seahawks. They came into a hostile stadium and played like Ravens. They fought the whole game and in the end – the defense along with the offense did enough to win the game and move to 5-2. They now have a bye-week to rest and get ready for the New England Patriots. The hope is the Ravens will get back a few injured players and be more at full strength.

Another mighty warrior that I know is my friend Ralph Higdon. He was a real warrior on the basketball court. He was a real warrior in life – as he fought a devastating disease to the very end. Even as his life was nearing the end – he was a real warrior.

My dad was always a mighty warrior to me – he stood for Biblical truth – as he saw it – and never in my lifetime wavered from it. He was consistent and reliable and in this day and age when everything is ever changing – that was a solid foundation for me growing up. He stood for Jesus – even to the very end. Continue reading

October 21, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Are Being Watched!

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.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amWhat 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 with a sixth on the way (sooner rather than later we hope).

Another thing that would being a smile to my face would be a long winning streak by the Baltimore Ravens or Washington Redskins (even a win would be great at times). Didn’t the Ravens play a great game yesterday? They have a two game lead in their division and the Redskins finally won a game. The Nationals are 2-0 in their playoff series. If they win two more games – they will be headed to the World Series. Now that will bring some smiles to area fans. If the Orioles could make improvement each year – that would bring a smile to our faces.

Still another reason to smile might be time spent with my wife. I could get very pastoral here (and truthful) 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

October 14, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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