Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Meeting God Face-To-Face

Exodus 33:22

When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amHave you ever met someone that put you into awe mode? I’ve met some famous people over the years – and I’ve felt honored to meet them. I personally met several ball players over the years. I’ll name a few – and some of our younger readers might not know some of them – Johnny Unitas – Jim Palmer – Boog Powell – Eddie Murray (I remember him standing in the rain to give me an autograph) – Brooks Robinson – Harmon Killebrew – Frank Howard – Raymond Berry – Frank Robinson – Wes Unseld – Earl Monroe – Paul Blair – Don Buford – Al Bumbry – Justin Tucker – Matt Stover – and others. I once refereed a basketball game at old Andover High School where the visiting team was made up of Oriole ball players and others. I remember giving a technical foul before the game began – to Al Bumbry – for dunking in warmups – yes – I was a sticker for the rules back in the day.

Have you ever met someone that put you into awe mode? Maybe – with how close we are to Washington – you have met some politicians – like Presidents or others. Maybe – some of my friends who work with FCA have met some current players. I know I attended a dinner recently and met Coach Harbaugh along with some players. Continue reading

October 9, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

21-Day Prayer/Fast – Day 8

Psalm 100:4

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.

01032015 RayEnter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise – what a familiar phrase.  If you’ve been on the 21 Day prayer/fast since January 5th – today we enter our second week of prayer and fasting.  Do you still awaken each morning with the same excitement to be in the presence of God?  Is there an increase or decrease in your excitement level?  How has the prayer/fast impacted your daily walk?  Share your thoughts in the comments section on this blog or by e-mailing me at the church.

21-Days-Fasting-Banner-710The second week I plan to eat less and pray more.  The final seven days I want to be eating still less and praying even more.  My prayer/fast has been a progressive experience this year.  I’ve been listening to some amazing preachers during the prayer/fast.  I’ve been listening to preachers like Andy Stanley – Matt Chandler – Tony Evans – Craig Groeschel – Steven Furtick – and others.  They have in inspired me for sure.

Pray for me if you will – as I continue to pray for those who have asked for prayer and others as well.  How are you doing on your fast?  Is there a spirit of thanksgiving in us today as we enter the second week of the prayer/fast?  Are we getting beyond the struggle of sacrifice and beginning to feel the joy of God’s presence?

Continue reading

January 12, 2015 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, Fast, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Vision | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Come, Follow Jesus

Matthew 4:19

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”

RayBlogRecently our home team – the Baltimore Ravens – won the Super Bowl and became world champs. As a dutiful fan I was at a local sporting goods store on Monday morning to buy my Ravens Super Bowl gear (I bought a hat and a jersey – to be used as birthday presents by family members – lol). I didn’t go to the Super Bowl – but a friend did and I lived vicariously through his Facebook posts and pics. I didn’t go to the parade in Baltimore – but watched on TV. To see the crowds in New Orleans and in Baltimore – many people follow their favorite sports teams and players (my shirt is a Joe Flacco jersey and I have a Ray Rice hat). I follow several players on Twitter and enjoy reading their tweets.

I also follow certain pastors like Andy StanleyCraig GroeschelTony Evans and others on Twitter. I also follow the blog pages of certain pastors and listen to their podcasts. How many followers do we have on our Twitter account or blog pages? It seems like many of us are ready to follow – to be followers or fans of someone or some team. Following has become a part of our society it seems. Some follow certain politicians or political parties or philosophies. Some follow the teachings of a particular theologian camp – calling themselves CalvinistsWesleyansArminianists – or something else. Some believe they follow a more liberal thought pattern – or more conservative or call themselves evangelicals or progressives. Following has become part of the culture we live in today – probably always has been in vogue.

FollowJesusBut following Jesus – now this is something a good number of people say they do but few it seems truly follow after the teaching and lifestyle of Jesus fully. Let’s take a look at the morning’s passage in context. According to Matthew’s timeline Jesus had just finished His calling and tempting experience and was beginning His earthly ministry. He was calling His early disciples. Matthew 4:17-25 – 17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” 18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him. 21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. 23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them. 25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.

What stands out to me is that those He called left everything to follow Him. They were commercial fishermen and left their boats – nets – families and friends to follow Jesus. Jesus said “Come, follow me” and at once they left their nets and followed him. He told them if they followed Him He would make them fishers of men.

One question that arises for me today – when we hear Jesus calling us to come follow Him – are we willing to leave everything and follow Him? Too often I believe we are like these who were called to follow Jesus – yet have excuses for not following just now. Luke 9:57-62 – 57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 59 He said to another man, “Follow me.” But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.” 62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

So what is our excuse when Jesus calls us to follow Him? When we are convinced God wants us to do something – to follow His teachings and example – are we like – sure Lord – I want to follow – but maybe you weren’t aware of whatever we can come up with at the moment? When Jesus calls – we MUST respond and follow.

One more point. When Jesus calls us He always calls us to something more important than what we are currently doing. That importance is not always measured as we measure but it is more important. When the disciples were fishing Jesus called them to follow Him “and I will make you fishers of men.” Fishing for souls is immeasurably more important than fishing for fish! When God calls we need to respond and follow and prepare for the task. Remember God doesn’t call the qualified He qualifies the called. Also one of my sayings takes off on that one – God will not call you to anything He will not equip you to accomplish.

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

February 7, 2013 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Vision, Worship | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

How and When Does God Speak to the Pastor?

Have you ever wondered where the inspiration comes for the pastor to prepare a message each week?  The Holy Spirit speaks through a number of resources.  Recently in a sermon I mentioned that I listen to a number of sermons on podcasts each week.  I also mentioned that I try to read a number of blogs and books (not enough of them).  I also said that at times – sermon ideas come from these resources.  God speaks to my heart and I occasionally use the ideas of others to relay what God is saying to me (there is nothing new under the sun).

Some have questioned this by suggesting that the Holy Spirit should speak directly to a pastor and that all sermons should come out of the pastor’s relationship with God (I’m stretching this some to make a point).  I want to suggest that my relationship with God is more than my prayer life and my reading of the Bible.  Surely these are primary – but reading or listening to how God speaks to others should also be useful resources. Pastors for generations have used the writings of others – an example would be the many commentaries written to help us understand the Bible (not equal to the Bible but useful for discerning the truth of the Bible).  A generation ago most every pastor I knew had a set of commentaries in their office – others’ ideas on the Scriptures.  They used these to prepare their sermons each week.

Today I do not need to have one set of commentaries on the Bible – I have many. My Bible program has no less than 30 different commentaries as well as over 3 dozen sets of sermons and writings on the Scriptures including sermons written by John Wesley – John Calvin – Martin Luther and others.  With the internet – I also listen to sermons through podcasts preached by the likes of Craig Groeschel – Andy Stanley – Ravi Zacharias and others – such as preachers I know that put their sermons on their websites or on iTunes.

With these additional resources – I get to look at the Scriptures – not only from my point of view – but also from the eyes of other men of God.  Have you ever used two translations of the Bible to better understand a passage?  These resources are like multiple translations.  I try to let you know when I am taking more than just a few ideas from them – like I did this past Sunday when I mentioned that a lot of the ideas for the Guardrails Series came from a sermon series that Andy Stanley preached in his church last year.  In doing this I am not trying to name drop but rather to be honest with the resources I use – like the series last year when I used a number of ideas from the book written by Reggie Joiner as we launched our children’s and youth focus – Orange (family-yellow and church-red combined to make orange).  Some saw this series as one of the best we have shared and some saw it as a book report.  I saw it as a creative way of presenting what the Holy Spirit was telling the staff and church leadership about the direction of our ministry.

I ask for your prayers next week (on Thursday) as I will set aside a day – with two other pastors from the area – to seek what God would have us preach to our congregations in the coming months.  We will spend time praying together – picking our brains – and doing individual work for each of our churches.  My prayer is that God will give me just what is needed for our spiritual journey together as we reach the whole family for Christ.

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

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February 11, 2011 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Sermons | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


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