Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

We Should Encourage One Another

1 Thessalonians 5:11

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amEncouragement is very important. There are many persons in the families of our church and community who have known very little encouragement in their lives. They have been raised in families where discouragement was the focus – with very little – if any – encouragement. Families where more fuss was made over a grade of B in one class rather than the grades of A in all of the other classes. Families where the small mistake was made to be larger than the overall good job done.

Discouragement in the church is also a tool that the devil uses. Someone does a tremendous job with a program and the first thing someone says is something that didn’t go right. Worship was awesome and a person points out the one thing that didn’t go well – first.

It isn’t that we shouldn’t try to improve one another – we’re actually called to do that in Scripture. What I’m question is the attitude and timing. Read Revelation where Christ instructs John to write to the seven churches. In those passages Christ always affirms where He can affirm – encourages – before He gives corrective instruction. Continue reading

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August 30, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mercy to All

1 Timothy 1:16

But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amMercy is not something that many of us offer very easily. Many of us are more into what is fair. Mercy is not fair.

I love this passage from Paul – it shows his heart – a heart of humility and of reality. He firmly believed that he was a sinner saved by grace. If Paul – one of the patriarchs of our faith – thinks of himself as a sinner – saved by grace – ought not we all?

Paul believed that the sins of his past – made him unworthy to be of service to God – yet was thankful that God showed him grace – and called him to His service. He is what he wrote:

1 Timothy 1:12-16 – 12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

I can identify with Paul. I too have sin in my past that makes me feel less than worthy to be saved – let alone to be called to serve God. My sin is grievous to me. Yet by God’s grace – I have been forgiven – and not only forgiven – but called – and not only called – but used for God’s purposes. It amazes me – it humbles me – it causes me to desire to do all that God will allow me to accomplish for His glory.

What about you? Mercy – Grace – God’s love – are offered to all who would receive it. Like Paul – won’t you receive the free gift of God’s grace today – and be amazed with him that God could use you?

Just something for us to think about today as we go on our way.

August 20, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do We Pray For All People?

1 Timothy 2:1

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—

June 2019Do we pray for all people? Often in worship – over the years – I’ve asked people to pray for the President. What if the President at the time isn’t the one you voted for – does that hamper your ability to pray for them? It shouldn’t. We should pray for our leaders – whether we agree with them or not. We don’t have to like someone to pray for them – praying that their hearts would be touched by God and that they would lead the people according to what is best for the people – rather than for themselves or their political party.

Do we pray for all people? The political scene is dreary these days. At times we are called to pray against evil (as we might define it) and to pray for those who are responsible for that evil (as we see it). For instance – we might be conflicted with what is happening on our southern border (and has been happening for several administrations). We might think our borders should be secure and yet we might feel there are better ways to go about it (several administrations have tried several methods which apparently aren’t working yet). We can pray for those seeking asylum and their well-being while also praying for border security. We can pray for a better way for sure. Continue reading

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

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

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

What Shape Is Our Attitude In?

Philippians 2:5

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Life ChangeThis is one of my favorite passages. I have a number of them for sure. I’ve shared them a number of times. Some like hearing them – some might even be tired of hearing them.

Years ago – I took this verse and created a statement – a saying – that goes like this: Christianity Boils Down to Attitude. One of my former churches would finish this quote. Whenever I said Christianity boils down to they would respond with a strong – Attitude! Now – I know that Christianity is all about God’s grace – that it is all about Christ’s life – death – and resurrection – but – as we often mention in sermons and teachings – Christian maturity is all about the condition and position of one’s heart. Christian maturity is about doing – about walking out our faith – and this takes an attitude likened to the attitude of Jesus. What shape is our attitude in these days? Continue reading

February 12, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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