Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

What Is Our Cross to Carry?

Galatians 5:16

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Life ChangeIn sermons – we are often called to take up our cross and follow Jesus. We often wrestle with the question – what is our cross? We often look at the cross of Jesus – which He began to carry from time eternal. His cross to carry wasn’t just from the courtyard to Golgotha. Jesus began to carry His cross from before the creation of the world – denying Himself – His rightful place in heaven – knowing He would suffer and die at the very hands of a humanity He loved enough to die to redeem. I always stand amazed at His love for us.

So what is our cross? What is the cross we are called to carry? We often suggest that denying self is the cross we are called to carry. We often talk about mature Christians thinking more about how we can be used of God to feed the righteously hungry. We can hear sermons on carrying our cross – and feel good about our understanding of such a sermon – yet – do we really walk out that message? Do we really understand what our cross is we are called to carry? Continue reading

November 7, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Halloween – Celebrate It or Not?

Revelation 21:8

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

Life ChangeThe secular holiday called Halloween is coming. Even this week there are Trunk or Treat events going on. The church is trying to allow for creative juices to flow and fun to be had (along with candy) without succumbing to the world’s understanding of this holiday. I would like to debate the holiday called Halloween.

I understand All-Hallows Eve and its history – Ireland – Scotland – Wales – and other traditions. We will remember All-Saints Day in a few weeks by remembering those who had passed since last November.

I understand that most people simply see Halloween as a holiday to dress up and collect candy – so what is the fuss one might ask. Do we understand the true nature of the holiday or do we simply make own plans and believe our own traditions?

I also understand the religious holiday it represents – it is a Druid holiday (Satanic worship – witchcraft). So – why would a Christian family allow for their children – or for themselves even – to dress like demons – devils – witches – etc.? Here are a few passages that speaks to this subject. Continue reading

October 25, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Heart of God – Kindness and Goodness

Galatians 5:22

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

Life ChangeOur Tuesday morning and evening Bible studies are just amazing. If you are available at 10:30 am or 7:00 pm and in the Laurel area – please stop by. In these Bible studies – we’re into the Book of Acts – sometimes called the Acts of the Apostles. We have been reading about the power of God – God the Holy Spirit – as the early church was being birthed.

As we have gone thru this study – some questions have been raised that made me think about preaching on the Holy Spirit. So – beginning in November – we will preach a series on the Holy Spirit. Stay tuned!

Today’s passage is about the Fruit of the Holy Spirit. What do you think of when you hear the words kindness and goodness? A few verses before the fruit of the Spirit is listed in Galatians 5 – we read the following words. Galatians 5:6 – For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

When I think of kindness and goodness – I think of the heart of Christ. It is often contrary to my heart. I am not – by nature – a mercy person. I can express mercy – but only because of the grace of God – it isn’t from my natural fabric. The heart of God – the heart of Christ is seen best – for me – in the following passage. Continue reading

October 24, 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, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Gotta Tell Somebody

Luke 19:40

“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amHow many of our readers today enjoy a good detective/police show like me? Some of my personal favorites over the years are shows like Hill Street Blues – Dragnet – Blue Bloods – NCIS – and yes – Baretta. On these TV shows victims are often encouraged to speak out or to witness so that someone else will not have to suffer what they have suffered. Trying to keep others from being hurt is a strong argument and many times a victim will cooperate to put the bad guys behind bars.

An episode of Blue Bloods had Erin Reagan use that very approach with a young woman who had been attacked – trying to get her to testify so that others wouldn’t be attacked. Many detective shows use this approach or episode design. Speak out so that others will be protected or saved.

Today’s passage records the words of Jesus speaking about His disciples to the Pharisees – if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out. The Pharisees wanted Jesus to make His disciples keep quiet. Jesus told them – if they did keep quiet – the rocks would cry out. Are the rocks clearing their throats in our life dear readers? Here is today’s passage in partial context – of course you will recognize it as part of the Palm Sunday story. Luke 19:35-40 – 35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. 37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: 38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” 40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Continue reading

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

What Is Our Mission?

Luke 5:32

I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amHave we ever been in need? Needed help with something in our lives? Needed help getting something moved at home – larger than we were able to move ourselves? Needed some help getting a job? Needed help getting into a certain school? Have we ever been in need? Hopefully someone came along and helped us in our need. If not – often that need went unfulfilled – unaccomplished.

Jesus came to help us in our need – our sin need. Jesus came to save the lost. Jesus came to pay the price of our sins – something we could never do alone. Jesus didn’t come for the righteous – the perfect (as if there are any). In Jesus’ day – some religious people thought they had it all together and that they didn’t need Jesus or anyone. I hope and pray none of us today have this self-image. I hope and pray that we all know we are sinners saved by grace. Continue reading

September 16, 2019 Posted by | Bring, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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