Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Giving Up Everything

Luke 14:33

In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

Tuesday night at Bible Study we talked about giving up everything for Jesus. The concept is a hard one to grasp. Many of us are selfish by nature – wanting to protect what is ours and what we have earned (so we think). We talked about the rich young man in the following story. Luke 18:18–23 – 18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’” 21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy.

He went away and became very sad – because he was very wealthy – he had much. Jesus knew that his stumbling block was his possessions. He had an ownership issue. I believe some of us – if not most of us – have an ownership issue. We’ve convinced ourselves that we have worked hard and earned what we have gained in life. Instead – as followers of Christ – we should believe that all we have is God’s – given by God. Continue reading

July 21, 2017 Posted by | Build, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Following God’s Example

Ephesians 5:1-2

1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

So who stands out in our lives as an example we follow? As a child and a youth – I had favorite ballplayers I followed. Boog Powell – Brooks Robinson – Frank Robinson – were players I liked in my youth. They played for my home team Baltimore Orioles. Eddie Murray – Cal Ripken – and others were baseball players I followed later in my life. In basketball some of my favorites were Wes Unseld – Earl “the Pearl” Monroe and Walt Frazier (from the Baltimore Bullets). In football I liked Johnny Unitas – Raymond Berry – Tom Matte. They were football players – Baltimore Colts – that I followed.

In school I had my favorite teachers – did you? I had my favorite singing groups I followed as well like James Taylor – Cat Stevens – Stevie Wonder – 3 Dog Night – Diana Ross and the Supremes and more. I had men and women who I looked up to in church and in other circles. I looked up to my dad the most. Continue reading

July 13, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alive To God In Christ Jesus

Romans 6:11

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

I had a young person in my office recently. This young person was having a battle with an addiction and was asking for my recommendation on how to overcome the addiction. When they were in the midst of their addictive behavior – they would feel the Holy Spirit pricking their heart – yet they enjoyed the addiction – so they often pushed the Spirit aside. It was a real struggle – a struggle many of us have battled before and will battle in the future.

I know a person who has battled addiction for many decades. They have suffered much. Their family has suffered much as well. They seemingly had defeated the addiction for a long period of time only to have it rear its ugly head again. Addiction is never gone – it is always one day at a time. Our victory is only a needle – a bottle – a porn site away. Addiction can at times make us seem powerless to control ourselves. Continue reading

July 12, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

May He Turn Our Hearts To Him

1 Kings 8:58

May he turn our hearts to him…

Dear readers – can we remember a time in our lives when we wanted someone’s heart? Maybe it was in grade school when we first liked someone and wanted them to like us back. Maybe later in life when we began to date – we hoped a certain person would give their heart to us. Our hearts have probably been broken when someone who had our heart wouldn’t give their heart to us (or took it back after giving it to us).

Many of us eventually found someone to share hearts with and married them. My wife and I will be married 37 years this summer (and she hasn’t aged a bit – I on the other hand have grayed and gained significant weight – I’m glad it was my heart she loved not my body).

God seeks after our hearts. God desires to have our hearts and He knows if He has our hearts – He has the rest of us as well. We’re told that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God will everything in us. Last Sunday’s sermon had this passage as part of the morning’s readings. Deuteronomy 6:5 – Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Continue reading

June 20, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

At Just The Right Time Again

Romans 5:6

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.

At just the right time again! I can’t wait till my shoulder heals so I can begin to work on my golf swing again. I’m convinced I can play better than I have been playing (before my surgery). Golf is hard – but not as hard as I’ve been making it the last few years (with my shoulder injury). I’ve gone from stiff shafts to regular shafts. What I’m finding out – and I knew this before but was too pig-headed to accept – is in a golf swing – it is not about power – but it is all about timing – hitting the ball at just the right time.

At just the right time! Have you ever been in the right place at just the right time? Like the time you crossed paths with someone you hadn’t seen in years at Sam’s Club or the Mall? Like the time you narrowly escaped an accident because you stopped your vehicle at just the right time? Like the time you were the last person in line to register for a class that was filled up after you registered. At times – it simply works out or doesn’t work out – barely – at just the right time. Continue reading

June 2, 2017 Posted by | Build, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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