Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

We Are Being Watched!

Exodus 34:29
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amWhat brings a smile to your face? Of course the first answer I would give these days is spending time with my grandchildren (and children). We now have five grandchildren with a sixth on the way (sooner rather than later we hope).

Another thing that would being a smile to my face would be a long winning streak by the Baltimore Ravens or Washington Redskins (even a win would be great at times). Didn’t the Ravens play a great game yesterday? They have a two game lead in their division and the Redskins finally won a game. The Nationals are 2-0 in their playoff series. If they win two more games – they will be headed to the World Series. Now that will bring some smiles to area fans. If the Orioles could make improvement each year – that would bring a smile to our faces.

Still another reason to smile might be time spent with my wife. I could get very pastoral here (and truthful) and say a smile comes across my face when a person receives Jesus Christ – when the light comes on for them in their personal relationship with Jesus. Other things bring a smile to my face as well (like when my friend makes a good shot in golf and gets excited about it). When we see someone with a smile on their face we usually think something just happened and we tend to be curious.

How about when people notice you have lost weight? Better yet – when they say something encouraging to you (if losing weight was what you were after). I remember when one of my daughters greeted me with a hug and she said – getting skinny dad – as she wrapped her arms around me? What about someone saying something about your new hairdo or your new dress (or suit)? How about the smell of your favorite food – or freshly baked bread – or bacon frying (that one always brings a smile to my face)? Continue reading

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

Giving Our Faith Rain

Isaiah 40:6

A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?” “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field.”

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amIt seems like – it doesn’t matter what I do – if I don’t get enough rain – I will lose my front yard. Last summer I lost my front yard.  A combination of lack of water – excess sunshine and a weak root system does it every time. I treated the ground – aerated – seeded with good seed – fertilized with starter fertilizer and winter fertilizer later in the season and most springs I fertilized it again. It often comes up strong and full – but I fully realize that if I can’t figure out a way to water it through the summer heat – it will be gone again. I got an estimate for a sprinkler system – and that is more than I want to pay. I could install a system myself or figure out a way to use my hose and sprinkler more often. I must figure out how to sprinkle through the summer without burning the ground with the hose full of water in the middle of the day.

Even with all of that work each fall – at the start of March – maybe the end of February – my yard looks like most yards – dormant (to a degree). With the wet spring we had this year – my yard greened up and looked great. I hoped it would have time to deepen the roots before the heat arrived. Who would have guessed we would be so dry from July through early October. I cut my grass at the highest setting my lawn tractor with a mulching kit will allow. I cut it twice a week during the peak growing season so I don’t leave behind piles or clumps of dead grass. I would love to have a green lawn throughout the year! I guess everyone would. Continue reading

October 11, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Confession and Repentance are Essential

Psalm 32:5

Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amIn 2015 – I wrote a blog post about forgiveness. I wrote about grace in 2018. I love the topic so much I thought I would write about it again today (I have other posts about it too). There is something about God’s grace – God’s forgiveness – that blesses me and others. Confession is required for forgiveness and I preached about Confession and Repentance a number of years ago and probably will do so again soon.

One Sunday we preached on forgiveness in marriage (check out the sermon notes in the link provided). Every successful marriage requires forgiveness – because there are no perfect marriages – no perfect spouses. We WILL make mistakes. We WILL mess up (I just messed up yesterday)! We need forgiveness and we need to forgive. Confession and repentance are required for us to receive forgiveness – even in our marriages.

The Bible uses marriage – between a husband and wife – a man and a woman – as an example of our marriage with Christ (we are the bride of Christ). Here is one passage where Paul writes about the church – believers – being promised to Christ as His bride. 2 Corinthians 11:1–4 – 1 I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me! 2 I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. 3 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. Continue reading

October 10, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Numbers – Do They Count Or Not?

Hebrews 12:1

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,”

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amA few years ago – there was a discussion surrounding how many people witnessed President Obama’s Inauguration and how many witnessed President Trump’s Inauguration. Pictures taken at different times in the process were used by one side to earn points for their argument. The other side made their points and neither side seemed to care about the facts – simply making their points.

It seems – for some – that more means better – and so each side tries to make their event the biggest ever. On October 4 – 1997 – I was part of an event sponsored by Promise Keepers called Stand in the Gap. I remember being there that day. I have never been in the midst of so many godly men. Early reports from Promise Keepers was over 1 million men were there. I heard and read some reports that estimated over 3 million men – not just in the mall area but in the surrounding areas too. I remember the liberal media under reporting the number of men who came out to that event saying in some reports that a few hundred thousand people came out. Again – the sides differ in their reports – numbers apparently count to some. Continue reading

September 25, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2020 – A Time for More Love Not Less

Deuteronomy 6:5

And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amI’m sure you have heard this before – love is a core value in the Christian faith. Showing love to one another is a significant characteristic of our Christian walk – or at least it is supposed to be. I believe that love seems to be missing from our society these days and also from many who claim to follow Christ. Some folks who claim to be Christians – like some of our politicians today – tend to take sides on issues and show anything but love to those who disagree with them. Like some – we tend to forget that even when we disagree – we should show love. Even when our disagreements are over our theology!! Loving one another – even in the face of disagreement – is something we are called to do by Jesus.

I created a song for my grandchildren. I sing it with them whenever they’re here or on FaceTime. It goes like this – I love Pop, Pop loves me, and that’s the way it’s going to be! If I have written it before (and I know I have) – I just love being a Pop. I love my five grandchildren – a sixth one will join them soon – from South Korea! I love showing them how much I love them – by giving them my focus when they are around. I didn’t always do that with my children. I want to be a better Pop than I was a Dad. They love to sit with Pop and comb his greying hair (it may be greying – but at least it’s staying). I also love getting kisses from my girls.

In Christ – we are called to love others – even as we love ourselves. Jesus was asked what were the greatest commandments – and part of His response is to love our neighbors – those around us – even as we love ourselves. Matthew 22:39 – And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Continue reading

September 24, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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