Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Let Jesus Shine In Us – Thru Us – and In Spite of Us

Matthew 5:14

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.

June 2019The month of October is the beginning of darker days. Only a few months away from the heat and long days of July we are currently experiencing. Darkness is fun at times – and at times it is not. I remember growing up and living next door to a cemetery. Now that could be scary – at least for those not use to it. When friends came over or cousins visited – we would play hide and seek. I would always hide in the cemetery – over in the darkest corners where the house light didn’t shine. Whenever someone got close to where I was hiding – I would make sounds that would scare them away. The darkness and the unknown would always win the day. But darkness is not always something to be desired as we will see.

Darkness – in today’s scripture – represents the absence of Jesus. Jesus is instructing His followers and He tells them that they are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. As believers – as disciples of Jesus – we are to allow His light to shine in us – thru us – and in spite of us.

I remember – again as a child – traveling to my mother’s home town – Moorefield WV.  As we would come over the mountains – with very little light other than our headlights – we would crest the last mountain top and move down toward the valley. As we descended the mountain – we would see the lights of Moorefield. We knew we were there – for mom – it was her childhood home. I remember when the chicken plant started running all night and when they got their first fast food store – a McDonald’s. As the town started to get more and more active over the years – the lights were stronger as we crested that last mountain.

Continue reading

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July 18, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To Live is Christ, to Die is Gain

Philippians 1:21

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Life ChangeSo – does anyone but me think about death? Maybe it comes from living by a cemetery as a child or from being a pastor for 42 plus years. I wouldn’t say I think about it all the time – but I certainly do think about dying – from time to time. Like recently – going to sleep – I was counting the number of years I have left if I live to be my father’s age (the answer is just over 20 years). A few nights ago – I dreamed I died. I had informed my wife before dying to bury me with my Apple Watch in case I wake up and need to get someone to come get me (now that was a scary dream). OK – two such thoughts the same week – that is a bit much – and not my norm.

Have you thought about dying? I believe the early Christians thought about it – maybe a lot. They faced life and death situations all the time. They were being crucified in mass – they were being thrown to wild animals – they were forced to do battle with gladiators – all in arenas for the sport of the Roman people. Much like the Christians that were beheaded – or burned in cages – or drowned – by terrorists in the middle east. In the Western world we often are so protected – especially those of us who do not live in the crowded urban areas of our country. Law enforcement can only do so much – and I thank our law enforcement officers for all they do while I condemn those bad eggs that shouldn’t be in uniform. Continue reading

November 30, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Letting Our Light So Shine

Matthew 5:14

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.

Photo on 10-9-18 at 2.15 PMThe month of October is the beginning of darker days. Darkness is fun at times – and at times it is not. I remember growing up and living next door to a cemetery. Now that could be scary – at least for those not use to it. When friends came over or cousins visited – we would play hide and seek. I would always hide in the cemetery – over in the darkest corners where the house light didn’t shine. Whenever someone got close to where I was hiding – I would make sounds that would scare them away. The darkness and the unknown would always win the day. But darkness is not always something to be desired as we will see.

Darkness – in today’s scripture – represents the absence of Jesus. Jesus is instructing His followers and He tells them that they are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. As believers – as disciples of Jesus – we are to allow His light to shine in us – thru us – and in spite of us.

I remember – again as a child – traveling to my mother’s home town – Moorefield – WV.  As we would come over the mountains – with very little light other than our headlights – we would crest the last mountain top and move down toward the valley. As we descended the mountain – we would see the lights of Moorefield. We knew we were there – for mom – it was her childhood home. I remember when the chicken plant started running all night and when they got their first fast food store – a McDonald’s. As the town started to get more and more active over the years – the lights were stronger as we crested that last mountain.

Continue reading

October 10, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God Sees All Things

Psalm 139:2

You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.

I remember playing hide-and-seek as a child. It was fun – hiding from your friends and hoping they couldn’t find you. When we played at my home growing up (the parsonage at Mt. Zion) – we had a cemetery next door and it was always fun to hide there because my cousins and friends wouldn’t come looking in the cemetery. If they did brave the walk through the cemetery – it was easy to get them to run out by making noises like a ghost. I usually won the game because they wouldn’t stay in the cemetery long enough to find me!

I remember playing capture the flag as a youth at Seat Pleasant UMC (now Gethsemane UMC). We would hide in the dark and try to get behind enemy lines. We would crawl along the outskirts of the field and even into the woods – to stay hidden. We would spring up and run for our side of the field with their flag. Continue reading

July 14, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let Your Light So Shine!

Matthew 5:16

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

20140530-104833-38913743.jpgHave you ever played flashlight tag? It has to be dark – it is like tag – only you have to tag people with the light shining from your flashlight. It was all the rage back in the 60’s – lol. We played it a lot when we went camping – with the family or with the Boy Scouts. We even played it in youth group outside the church at night! Flashlight tag gave way to – you guessed it – laser tag. They took the idea of flashlight tag – took it indoors – and used sophisticated laser flashlights. It was the same fun with a hi-tech approach.

If you had a stronger flashlight – you could shine it on folks long before they could get their weaker light on you! If it was also small and compact – you could maneuver easier around the tombstones (if you were playing in a cemetery for instance) or around the bushes in the churchyard. Dark clothes were also a plus because they were harder to see and didn’t light up – so to speak – when the light hit them! There were other nuances to the game – but you get the idea. Wearing glow in the dark clothes – whether playing flashlight tag or laser tag is not a good idea. Continue reading

August 26, 2014 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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