Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

What Is The Cost?

Luke 9:23

Then he said to them all: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

Life ChangeWhat is the cost of being a fan of the Orioles? This past year we had to suffer through 114 losses. In recent history – we suffered through 14 losing seasons in a row. Some of our best players have signed elsewhere – because we weren’t willing or able to sign them. Some of the best players in baseball were traded away (example: Curt Schilling) or allowed to leave in free agency (example: recently honored Hall of Famer Mike Mussina). Maybe – just maybe – the sons of the current owner of the Orioles will be able to bring back some enthusiasm and bring us a winner once again. We can only hope.

What is the cost of living in Maryland? Some of the things that some would call costs – others might call blessings. For instance – the high cost of living makes it tough – but that also means there are plenty of jobs and careers that pay high wages/salaries. The urban areas of Baltimore and DC are seen by some as a high cost of living in Maryland – but – with many people brings much diversity and amazing schools and hospitals – just to name a few things. We have the Orioles as mentioned before and the Ravens along with some DC teams to cheer as well. And some strong colleges in the area. Continue reading

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January 25, 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 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Advent Attitude Check

Philippians 2:5

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

Life ChangeAdvent is in the second week and Christmas is only 16 days away – counting today and Christmas Day. Are you excited yet? What do you do to prepare for the Christmas season? A niece of mine and her married family always bake dozens and dozens of Christmas cookies that their family (and extended family) baked together. It is a family tradition for her husband’s family. They certainly look good and if I could taste them – I imagine they taste good too. I will try to resist cookies this Christmas season – LOL.

What do you do to prepare for Christmas? What do you do in this time of waiting and anticipating (Advent)? Were you active on Cyber Monday shopping online? Now they call the whole time – throughout the week – Cyber Week – so if we missed the one day – we were able to catch up throughout the week (maybe even the whole month). Have any of us hit the Malls yet? Have we baked some cookies? Have we planned our parties and the ones we will attend? Have we picked out that perfect gift for our loved ones? Continue reading

December 10, 2018 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 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

Advent Starts on Sunday

Matthew 3:1-2

3 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

Life ChangeAdvent starts on Sunday – just a few days away. As we approach Christmas – we are reminded – often – I hope – that Christmas is all about Jesus coming into the world. Christmas is not about buying and selling things. It is about the greatest gift ever given – Jesus Christ – the babe in the manger that grew to be the man who was the Lamb of God that died on the cross to pay for our sins.

Advent starts on Sunday – just a few days away. What are you hoping for this year? Peace on earth is always a good wish. Maybe peace between the political parties of our nation? Maybe peace on the southern border of our nation? Maybe that people would get it and love their neighbors?

Advent starts on Sunday – just a few days away. What will we do leading up to Christmas this year? Will we anticipate the coming of Christ into our lives – once again? In Tuesdays Bible study we talked about the difference between people who claim to be a Christian and those who have had a born-again experience. I don’t mean that unless you have had a radical change in your life you aren’t a Christian. Many Christians have grown up in faith and feel that they always believed. But – even those people need a point in time – a time when they accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior – and not just a faith they learned from their parents. Being born-again means being saved. Being saved is not something that you can gain through osmosis – it is a personal decision to follow Jesus. Continue reading

November 28, 2018 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our Witness at Christmas Time

1 Peter 2:12

 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

Life ChangeAs we approach Christmas – the world is headed in one direction (buy and sell and get stuff) while the Christians should be more focused on the birth of Christ and spreading love to those around us. Christians can get caught up in the secular buying and selling – in order to get gifts for folks or being able to afford them (working longer hours). We often need to refocus ourselves to spend more time teaching ourselves – our children – and our grands – what Christmas is all about for sure.

Living our lives in such a way – even during the hustle and bustle of Christmas – that others around us will see Jesus – is what we are called to do. Being able to put Jesus first is what Christians are called to do in life – and Christmas is no exception.

In today’s passage (and I always use NIV unless I say so) – we’re told the following: Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. That word pagans seems so harsh – but what it means is the ungodly. In Biblical days – one was either a follower of God (the One true God) or one was a pagan (a godless person). Continue reading

November 27, 2018 Posted by | Bring, Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Vision | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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