Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

We Are An Easter People

Romans 8:1

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

Rays HaircutEaster has come and gone for another year – although it might come back in a few weeks as we gather together again some day. Churches would have been packed – I know our online services were packed. Some of my colleagues often have to hold Easter services off-sight for a variety of reasons. Some usually want to reach the unchurched on Easter and try off-site locations – which might be the best way to do this. Some would have had to hold so many services in their current facilities that it made sense to go off-site to a larger facility. Some for both reasons and maybe some others as well. I imagine that some – if not all – see larger crowds than they will see all year until Easter next year.

If their attendance is anything like I have experienced over the years – although there were some visitors – like family visiting for the long holiday weekend – folks looking for a church or simply the C&E folks (Christmas and Easter) – mostly the higher attendance is a product of the regular folks all attending on the same Sunday. Sadly – studies show that regular for some means once or twice a month – something less than most every Sunday – the way it used to be. When attendance on a regular Sunday is say 75 and on Easter it blossoms to 125 with only 10 visitors – that suggests that if our regulars were more regular – our normal attendance might be closer to 115 than 75. Continue reading

April 22, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Day After Easter

1 Thessalonians 5:16

Rejoice always

I wrote this devotion two years ago. I found it as I was searching for something to write for today. I hope your Easter went well. I know someone who lost their mother the day before Easter. It is a sad time for them. How did your Easter go?

Two years ago I wrote this post – but I have changed it a little. I’m still recovering from rotator cuff surgery – my second one in two years (left should last spring (three years ago) – right shoulder this spring (two years ago)). I head out for Physical Therapy later this morning. Being five weeks out from surgery – I’m stating to get some use out of my arm. I’m starting to build it up again. I can’t wait to swing a golf club and shoot some basketball. I can’t wait to be able to cut and split wood for next winter (the fire is going today – it was in the 30’s when I woke but the house is warm and cozy).

How did your week of Easter go? I know some colleagues that will take the week off. I know some others that will keep at it. What about you dear reader? How’s life treating you? I know some marriages that are in trouble – I’m praying for them. I know some people who have just been placed on Hospice care. I know some folks who are waiting for their first child. I know some folks that are waiting to get married. I know some who are out of work because of the Coronavirus outbreak. Ups and downs hit us all. Good times and bad times will fall on us all. Yet Paul calls us to rejoice always. Continue reading

April 13, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 40 of Lent 2020

Romans 6:3

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

Ray 2020Today is day 40 of the 40 Days of Lent reading plan. I hope you have stayed with us during this journey as we have carried on with our reading plan this Lenten Season. Tomorrow is Easter. But today is silent Saturday. It is the full day that Jesus was in the grave (partial day on Friday and partial day on Sunday). How will you spend your day? Will it be just another day or will you spend some time thinking about Jesus and His Disciples – so many years ago?

Lent is typically a time to give something up – to stop a bad habit – to deny self – to dig deeper into our walk with Jesus. How have you been doing? Today we continue to look at a passage that will lead us to the cross and later to the resurrection. Let us focus on Jesus this week – more than usual. For those of us who have received Jesus as Lord and Savior – we have been baptized into Christ and into His suffering – into His death. We share with Him and He shares with us.

Spend some time today – praying and meditating on the story of Christ. Today is the day He was in the tomb before being raised in the morning (tomorrow). Our Lenten season has been different this year. Our Easter will be different. But – the Tomb was still empty and the Lord still reigns. Continue reading

April 11, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 39 of Lent 2020

Isaiah 49:1

Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the Lord called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name.

Ray 2020Today is day 39 of the 40 Days of Lent reading plan. I hope you have stayed with us – this is the final week – the final two days. It is Holy Week – Easter is this Sunday. Today’s passage is another about the Servant of the Lord. This could be about Isaiah – it could be about Jesus – it might even be about us. Read it and let me know what you think.

Lent is typically a time to give something up – to stop a bad habit – to deny self – to dig deeper into our walk with Jesus. Today we begin to look at some passages that will lead us to the cross and to the resurrection. Let us focus on Jesus this week – more than usual. Let us identify with the walk and the sacrifice Jesus made for each of us. Jesus came to earth – voluntarily – to walk to the cross. Can we imagine how we would face our last week on earth? How we would face out death – when we had the power to avoid it?

Am I the only one having a hard time remembering what day it is during this pandemic? I have to remind myself each day. It seems like a groundhog day repeat. What we do know – without a doubt – is that each and every day – Jesus is the King and wants to be our Lord! Continue reading

April 10, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 38 of Lent 2020

Isaiah 42:1

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations.”

Ray 2020Today is day 38 of the 40 Days of Lent reading plan. I hope you have stayed with us – this is the final week – Holy Week. Today’s passage is the Servant of the Lord. As we remember the last week of Jesus’ earthly life – we remember how many Old Testament passages He fulfilled as the Lord’s anointed and servant.

Do you feel the Holy Spirit? Do you feel like you have been anointed by the Holy Spirit? As a servant of God – what roll does the Holy Spirit play in your life? I for one realize I couldn’t do what I do without the power and presence of the Holy Spirit – God with us today!

Lent is typically a time to give something up – to stop a bad habit – to deny self – to dig deeper into our walk with Jesus. Today we begin to look at some passages that will lead us to the cross and to the resurrection. Let us focus on Jesus this week – more than usual. Let us identify with the walk and the sacrifice Jesus made for each of us. Continue reading

April 9, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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