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

Being God’s Friend

John 15:14

You are my friends if you do what I command.

Life ChangeIf you’ve ever helped raise children – you know the heart of every parent is for their children to listen to them and grow to make good decisions. We train and discipline them to behave properly. We spend their lifetime trying to equip them to have good morals and values – to trust in God and follow His teachings. Every morning – as our girls were headed to school – my wife told them – make good choices – watch your surroundings – and listen to the Holy Spirit. Wise words to guide your life.

I was listening to Andy Stanley this morning and he was talking about treating his children well. If anyone didn’t treat them well – he was their enemy. The Papa Bear came out in him when his children were mistreated – and look out for Sandra – his wife – because she was a very protective Mama Bear. Continue reading

April 19, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s NEVER Too Late

Philippians 1:9

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,

Life ChangeIf you’re a parent – you probably had or have dreams for your children. I know I had and have dreams for our three girls. Dreams about their physical – emotional and spiritual growth. Dreams about their athletic abilities – and their maturity – and about their walk with Jesus. They have surpassed most of my dreams for sure. They are amazing young women (young is always a relative term). Their mother and I are very blessed by them. The men in their lives are also a blessing. Our five granddaughters are a new generation to pray over and invest in for sure. It is NEVER too late to take corrective action though – if our dreams and prayers have not been met.

If you’ve had or have dreams for your life – you probably have succeeded in some areas and fallen short in some areas. As I look back at my life – there are things I would do differently – of course – but – overall – I’m pleased with my life. I may not have reached all of my goals – but the ones that are most important – my walk with Jesus and my family – are a blessing. I wish I could lose another 50 pounds. I wish I could still dunk a basketball (yet I can still light it up from the 3-point arc). I wish my ministry had reached more people for Jesus. I wish I had spent more time with my family – and less time working. I wish I hadn’t spent so much money on cars as a teen and young adult. OK – the list could go on and on – but – most of my dreams have come true and some are still in reach. It is NEVER too late to take corrective action though – if our dreams and prayers have not been met. Continue reading

April 4, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Loving Jesus as We Walk to the Cross

Matthew 10:32-39

32 “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.  34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— 36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ 37 “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Life ChangeThis coming Sunday we will start a new sermon series for April titled – Easter: Before and After. This week’s message is titled – Jesus’ Prayers. Come and enjoy – come and grow in Christ.

Today’s passage came to me as I’ve prepared for the cross this year. The first verse says: “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.” We’ve mentioned many times that most of us like to hear Atta boy/girl when we have done well. We’ve asked the question a number of time: how do we acknowledge God before men and women? We like affirmation and this passage calls us to affirm Jesus before others.

The second verse in this passage of Scripture says what happens when we do not acknowledge God before people. It is a part of this passage I’m sure some wish Jesus hadn’t included: But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.” None of us wish to be disowned by Jesus!

As we read on to verses 34-37 – we read: 34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— 36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ 37“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. When I was younger – I didn’t get this part of the passage. I mean – it didn’t sound like Jesus to me. I thought of Jesus as a peacemaker – one who would strive to connect families. God gave me to my family and then He gave me my family – my wife – children – and grandchildren. Another Gospel even use the word hate when referring to our feelings toward those we love – compared to the love we are to have for God. Continue reading

April 3, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God’s Love Is Everlasting – Forever

Psalm 136:1

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.

Life ChangeIt is often debated – whether something is good or not in our lives. For instance – if you asked me a few years ago what was good – I might have said – lemon meringue pie – or peanut butter moose track ice cream. These days I can’t have either (often if at all) and have had to turn them down (I’m still trying to lose some weight for a variety of reason). Some might say – my marriage is good – or my children are good – or my favorite team is good.

School is entering the home stretch for some seniors in High School – the spring season for sports is upon us. You might think your entire school is good. It might be your school’s band that you think is good. Some of us might even say our community is good. What or who do you think is good?

The ultimate good – according to Scripture and the personal experience from many of us – is the love of God. All things we consider good are temporal – they do not last. But the love of God endures forever – it is everlasting. Continue reading

March 4, 2019 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

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