Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Easter Is Everyday!

Romans 8:1

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

Life ChangeEaster has come and gone for another year. Churches were packed Sunday from sunrise services through regular and extra worship services. Some of my colleagues had to hold Easter services off-sight for a variety of reasons. Some wanted to reach the unchurched and thought off-site might be the best way to do this.  Some would have had to hold so many services in their current facilities that it made sense to go off-site to a larger facility. Some for both reasons and maybe some others as well. I imagine that some saw larger crowds than they will see all year until Easter next year – April 12th.

If their attendance was anything like I have experienced over the years – although there were some visitors – like family visiting for the long holiday weekend – folks looking for a church or simply the C&E folks (Christmas and Easter) – mostly the higher attendance is a product of the regular folks all attending on the same Sunday. Sadly – studies show that regular for some means once or twice a month – something less than most every Sunday. When attendance on a regular Sunday is say 75 and on Easter it blossoms to 125 with only 10 visitors – that suggests that if your regulars were more regular – your normal attendance might be closer to 115 than 75. Continue reading

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April 23, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Life Can Be Unfair – God Is Always With Us

2 Corinthians 4:8

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;

Life ChangeLife – at times – can be unfair. I’m not talking about a pitch being two balls off the plate and called a strike unfair. I’m talking about real life – being unfair. I know a number of persons who are going through some real life struggles. I know of a few marriages that most thought would last a lifetime – and they are falling apart. I know persons who have lived healthy lives – taken good care of their bodies – facing cancer and other life threatening medical issues. I’ve heard from pastors and parishioners that are perplexed by what they see even in the pews and pulpits of the church – the Body of Christ.

We see people ready to take sides – vehemently – on issues that abound. Our nation has yet to come to grips with the 2016 Presidential elections – and we’re into 2019. If you are against the POTUS – or for him – people on the other side will attack your views in a heartbeat. Racism is an ugly reality in our nation. Love for one another is not the center of our thinking as a nation or even as a church at times. Whatever side one might be on with the current issues facing the United Methodist Church – be careful where you express your views – because you might be bullied for sharing them. A few conservatives dared stand up for the POTUS recently at the Grammy Awards and they were belittled in social media and in person. Continue reading

February 15, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Day After Thanksgiving!

Ephesians 5:19-20

19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Life ChangeI hope and pray you had a fantastic Thanksgiving Day yesterday. I also hope you had time with the family. Around Thanksgiving table – we asked the question – what are you thankful for this year – and some heartfelt responses came our way. What would your answer be to that question? Maybe you are thankful for your health (maybe you haven’t had good health this year but are feeling better now). Maybe you are thankful for family and friends. Maybe you are thankful for your job or for your home. Maybe you are thankful for a son or daughter or a grandson or granddaughter coming home. I’m thankful for a new son this Thanksgiving – and of course – for all of my family.

The passage today gives the Sunday School answer – lol – and reminds us that we should be thankful for God and for all that God has allowed in our lives. We are even to greet one another with praises – even with songs of praise – acknowledging our thanks for God. Continue reading

November 23, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Friends: We All Need Them

1 Corinthians 12:26

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

fullsizeoutput_ffeI’ve been spending some time lately reading (mostly online and on my iPad). I’ve read the following: The Bible – some books (like Nick Vujicic’s Unstoppable) – some sports news (as we are in the early stages of the NBA and College Basketball season) – and the Facebook entries of some of my friends. One thing I’ve noticed in many of these venues is the importance of family – connections – and teamwork. One of my Facebook friends puts pictures and posts up – almost hourly it seems – thanking God for their children – their spouse – and where they work. I believe that our family and close friends impact our lives – for the better or for the worst.

Family and other connections are so very important to our health and well-being. One only needs to read the stories of some who have gone astray to realize that many of them had a giant fail in their family connections. Nick Vujicic – born without arms or legs – praises his parents for showing him unconditional love and attention. He credits this support for much of his ability to struggle through the challenges of life he faced and become a motivational speaker and evangelist. Continue reading

November 16, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Encourage Others!

Hebrews 10:25

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Photo on 10-16-18 at 6.18 PM

Let me begin by thanking God for my wife and oldest daughter. My wife for supporting me through 38 plus years and to my daughter – Shelly – for coaching me as I strive to become healthy again. I have lost 61 pounds so far and 35 of them have been lost the last three months under a new health plan that my daughter encouraged me to try. I will say more about this later. I am going to become a health coach – and it fits here – as we talk about encouraging others.

I think it is essential that we encourage one another. I’m sure I wouldn’t have lost all the weight I have – I’m sure I wouldn’t feel the healthiest I have felt in a decade – had it not be for others encouraging me. I also receive encouragement from the guys I play basketball with early in the morning. I know – often – they are merely putting up with me – often being the oldest guy out there. My shot isn’t what it use to be – occasionally I will get on a roll and hit a few threes but mostly they simply encourage me to get out there and exercise and play with them. I’m thankful.

I think it is essential that we encourage one another – not only physically but most assuredly – spiritually. The Bible tells us in today’s passage in Hebrews 10:25Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.  I think the day is fast approaching – Christ’s return is near – and we need to be in the daily business of encouraging one another. Let’s try and see how we are blessed.

It is so easy to be critical. Tearing down doesn’t build up the Body of Christ. We do not ignore that which needs attention or correction but we do so in love and as much as possible through encouragement. We can correct and even rebuke as Scripture says through love. But often we fail to praise and encourage. It is easy to see and report and have an opinion about what we dislike. How about what we see going well?

Continue reading

October 17, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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