Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Setting Us Free from Our Things

Psalm 146:7

He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free,

img_0063-2There was a time I heard this a lot – do we own our things or do our things own us? While growing up in America – in a lower middle class family – things were of some importance. My parents worked hard to provide for us some of the finer things of life. Christmas was a big deal because it was a time we got lots of new things. Yet ownership of things is a trap for some if not many. Do our things own us or do we own our things?

With the recent storms – hurricanes – earthquakes – and more – devastation has occurred in our Western Hemisphere. Haiti was a place where much damage of property and loss of life occurred. I spent a week on a mission trip there and know that most of the people of Haiti have very little. It wouldn’t take much to take away all that some families have worked a lifetime to collect. I know that much damage was caused in the USA as well but many families in America have insurance or savings or other support to fall back on (although I realize some families do not and may have lost everything). Again – I ask the question I mentioned earlier – do we own our things or do our things own us? Continue reading

February 14, 2020 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Smile Even When You Don’t Feel Like It

Psalm 9:1

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.

Ray 2019We celebrated my friend’s life yesterday. Norma was a pastor’s dream. She was musical – she was administrative – she was friendly – she was hospitable – she was sensitive – she had a deep faith – she had a great work ethic – and she did it all with a smile.

Norma didn’t just smile when things were going well. Norma smiled all the time. I can’t remember too many times when I didn’t see a smile on her face. Battling cancer – there was a smile. Having personal issues – there was a smile. Facing surgery or treatment – there was a smile. Getting chemo – there was a smile. Breaking her wrist and coming back to work way too early – there was a smile.

What are we facing this Christmas? We have families where both parents are out of work. We have several friends fighting addictions. We have several friends facing their first Christmas without a life partner – a child – a parent or a close friend. We have some who are facing their first empty nest Christmas as well. Some have little or no family at this time of the year. Others have abusive family members. Continue reading

December 23, 2019 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let No Hate Enter Our Hearts

2 Timothy 4:2

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.

Ray 2019Paul – an Apostle – told a young pastor – Timothy – to preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Timothy 4:2) Paul also wrote these words to Timothy – 2 Timothy 3:16–17 – 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God  may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Paul urges Timothy – and us – to adhere to God’s Word at all times. All parts of God’s Word should be adhered too. Even the parts that we don’t agree with – maybe even more so those parts. It is easy to follow what we agree with – but hard when we don’t.

I’m not a young pastor nor am I an Apostle – but the Word of God – as I read it – tells me to love one another – to not hate anyone. I see far too much hatred in the world – and at times – sadly – from folks claiming to be Christians. Just check out the anger expressed in the 2020 election season or the 2020 General Conference in May.

We’re told to hate sin – we’re told to love others. We’re told to love God more than anything or anyone. Matthew 10:37 – Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Continue reading

December 13, 2019 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Advent Attitude Check!

Philippians 2:5

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

Ray 2019This coming Sunday we will lite the 3rd candle in our Advent wreath. Christmas is only 14 days away – 2 weeks from today. 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) bake 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 – – or even Cyber month – 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? I went there Monday to meet with someone – and – lines were lined up at the doors of some of the shops – waiting for them to open. Have we baked any 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 11, 2019 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Come Lord, Come! Maranatha

Luke 2:9

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

Ray 2019Do you have any idea why we celebrate Advent – or don’t celebrate Advent? Advent is more than the period of time that begins with the fourth Sunday before Christmas and runs through Christmas Eve. It is more than merely a time of awaiting the coming of the baby Jesus in the manger. It is more than a time to light the candles in the Advent reef or log. In the fourth century – when they began to celebrate Advent – it was also a time of remembering and waiting on the Lord’s return. Yes – waiting on the return of Jesus – for His church. A time of anticipation of Christ’s return.

Have you ever heard the term Maranatha? It is an Aramaic term that literally means – Come Lord, Come – and was often used to invite our Lord’s return. I have used it for years on this blog page and in my e-mails (at times). I also use it in my prayers and in sermons.

Not only is the Glory of God seen when Jesus is being born – when the glory of the Lord shone around them – but the Glory of God will shine when Jesus returns. Describing Christ’s departure from earth – Luke records these words:

Continue reading

December 3, 2019 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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