Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Do We Love One Another?

John 13:35

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amDo we have a hard time loving others or showing love to others? I know some men who have a hard time showing love – or even saying I love you to family members. Speaking of men – we have our monthly men’s ministry meeting tonight at 7 pm. I hope to see you there.

Typically it is easier to say I love you to those who love us back or do nice things to us or for us. If someone is nice to us or shows us respect – it would seem easier to love them – right?

Loving others is not an easy command from Jesus. In today’s passage Jesus says that others will know we are His followers – His disciples – if we love one another. Think for a moment – are there folks we have a hard time loving?

Here’s today’s passage in partial context. John 13:34–35 – 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Continue reading

September 13, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, 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

The One in Authority is God’s Servant

Romans 13:4

For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

Ray 2018Before I pen the first words in this devotional thought – I imagine there will be those who agree with me and those who disagree with me. I have friends who will debate this passage with me and argue that the current circumstance doesn’t fit into this passage. I’ve love to hear their take on this section of the Bible.

Let’s take a look at the world where Paul lived for a moment. In the early church – Christians were being persecuted by their own people – in many cases – as Orthodox Jews saw them as heretics (Paul/Saul was among them early on). Not only were they being persecuted by the Jews – who put their Lord to death – they were being persecuted by Rome. Rome was an oppressive power at the time Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome. Christians were being crucified in arenas – put before wild animals and gladiators as well. It was the worst of times some might say.

Paul writes these words to those Christians under such a terrible burden and oppression. Here’s today’s passage in partial context. Romans 13:1–7 – 1Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. 6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Continue reading

September 7, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Father – Forgive Them

Luke 23:34

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

Forgiving people is not easy. We have all sinned. We have all hurt people. The old saying – hurt people – hurt people is so true. When we hurt or when others hurt us – forgiveness is not easy. We tend to hold grudges. We tend to seek revenge for the hurt. We tend to get angry and at time we close down when we are hurt. At times we even strike out at others when we are hurt – even to those closest to us – even when they had nothing to do with the hurt we feel.

What are some hurts we have experienced? My heart goes out to those who have experienced the death of a child – at the hands of someone – be it an accident or intended. I feel for those who have lost children or other loved ones in drive by shootings in some of our urban areas. The chemical attack by Assad on his people brought many images into our living rooms. Such pain in my heart watching babies gasping for a breath. I’ve talked to persons who have had hurt from abusive parents – from ugly divorces – from false accusations. These and other images and experiences beg the question – can we really forgive those who do evil in our world? Continue reading

April 12, 2017 Posted by | Build, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Large and In-Charge

Hebrews 13:5

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

RevRayMcHave you ever been left alone? I remember – years ago – when the Left Behind series came out and some years ago when the Home Alone movies came out (25+ years ago) – there was a fear about being left behind or alone.

Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) – an 8 year-old left home alone – had some scary experiences. His family was so busy getting ready for their trip that they forgot him in the shuffle. I remember shopping once with our first child. Carolyn and I both thought the other had Shelly and Shelly wandered off. Immediately panic set in as I was telling folks to lockdown the store – no one gets out until I find my daughter. Shelly was holding court with some sales persons – she was calm – but her mother and I will never forget that experience. Continue reading

June 27, 2016 Posted by | Build, Church, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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