Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Day 34 of Lent 2018

Matthew 6:16

When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.

Today is day 34 of the 40 Days of our Lenten reading plan. I hope you have stayed with us. I veered off of the online plan and am finishing the plan myself. Today’s passage is about fasting.

Lent is typically a time to give something up – to stop a bad habit – to deny yourself – to dig deeper into your walk with Jesus. Fasting is one way to do this. Fasting is denying yourself of something. You can fast from food or a certain type of food. You can fast from technology (a youth pastor I worked with did this one Lent) – or you can fast from social media. Not only are we to deny ourselves of something – we are to replace that item with more of Jesus. For instance – if you are fasting from something – when you feel tempted to eat it or do it – we should spend time praying or digging into God’s Word. Continue reading


March 19, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Loving God – Loving Others

Luke 18:25

Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

112015 Ray McDonaldLet us think for a moment today of difficult things in our lives – cue the Mission Impossible music.  We wrote once about loving our enemies – about hatred and love.  Loving our enemies has to rank up there as a tough thing to accomplish.  For some of us getting properly and getting enough exercise seems to be difficult.  For some getting to work on time or to church on time seems difficult.  Getting along with the in-laws or our spouse seems hard for some.

Can we think of a few things that we find difficult?  How about getting good grades?  How about waiting till marriage to be intimate with our fiancé or with our dates?  How about going a day without something we love – like fasting from something we have on a regular basis.  What about making ends meet when our income has been reduced or removed?  What about trying to make sense out of this world?

When I was younger – I use to think that the passage for today meant that rich people couldn’t get into heaven – because my grandma sewed and I knew we could never get a camel through the eye of a needle.  I often had a hard time getting thread through the eye of the needle. Continue reading

March 18, 2016 Posted by | Build, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, Fast, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do We Defile Ourselves?

Daniel 1:8-9

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.

IMG_0301OK – who is trying to eat a healthy diet these days?  It is not easy – that is a fact jack!  I mean all the good things in life – like ice cream – chips – soda – bacon – Big Macs – pizza – and more – are on someone’s DO NOT EAT list!  Some plans allow you to eat loads of meat – others loads of vegetables – others say you can eat carbs – others say no carbs at all or very little.  Some plans say you will lose weight quickly – if you buy their pre-fabricated and packaged foods or drink their shakes or take their pills.  Trying to eat healthy is not easy – I am trying it right now – a large portion of broccoli and grilled chicken with water to wash it down just doesn’t sound too appetizing.

The story today’s passage comes from is found in the start of the book of Daniel.  Here it is in partial context.  Daniel 1:1-14 – 1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god. 3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— 4 young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.  5 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service. 6 Among these were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7 The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego. 8 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. 9 Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, 10 but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.” 11 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” 14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days. Continue reading

July 14, 2015 Posted by | Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gethsemane Moments

Matthew 26:39

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

IMG_0301OK – it is the second day of Lent. How goes it? Have you had a Gethsemane moment yet? At the revival this week – and throughout the last few months – we have occasionally challenged the church to consider where their Gethsemane moments might occur – times when we say – not as I will – but as You will.

The traditional purpose of Lent is to prepare us as we walk toward the Cross of Calvary. Followers of Christ traditionally spend (more) time in prayer – in paying penance – repenting of our sins – almsgiving (like giving to the poor) – and in self-denial. Traditionally folks will give up something for Lent (I noticed that some gave us social media for Lent). Along with giving something up – they often add something to their faith walk as well. Continue reading

February 19, 2015 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Fast, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

21-Day Prayer/Fast – Day 10

Luke 4:1-2

1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.

01032015 RayOK – I’m not trying to compare our 21 day prayer/fast with Jesus’ 40 days – for sure – but today’s devotional thought on www.youversion.com does bring it up!  Read day 10 in the 21-Day Fast reading plan and see what you think.

The devotional thought today does ask some interesting questions I thought I would share.  Here are a couple of the questions.  How is your fast strengthening you?  Do you feel like you are floundering? These questions were asked in light of what Jesus tackled after His 40 days of prayer and fasting – with the temptations that Satan bought His way and the strength that Jesus showed.  Again – not asking us to compare what we are facing with what Jesus faced!!  But Satan doesn’t want us to walk closer to Jesus and so Satan will do whatever he can do to discourage us. Continue reading

January 14, 2015 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Fast, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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