Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

What – Me Worry?

Matthew 6:27

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Life ChangeWhat – Me Worry? I wish I could say that and feel good about saying it. I tend to worry at times – do you? People worry about loads of things.

People worry about their finances. They often don’t do much about it – but they do worry. For instance – currently some in our area are experiencing the government shutdown. Since 1980 there have been shutdowns in 1980 – 1981 – 1984 – 1986 – 1990 – 1995-96 – 2013 – and the current shutdown. If I were a federal employee – I think I would plan to have an emergency fund saved up for a shutdown – because they will happen. I believe for all of these shutdowns – the impacted employees received their back pay.

People worry about their finances. I’m a big believer in budgets. We’ve had one in our marriage from the start. After 38 plus years of marriage we still have a budget. I’m a firm believer in the following statement. Aim at nothing – and you are bound to hit it! If we don’t budget or have a plan for our finances – we should not complain when we face financial difficulties. Even putting a small amount away each month will add up to a safety net for future unplanned expenses. Continue reading

January 10, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Happy Face

Proverbs 15:13

A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.

So how has your 2018 started? Did you make any New Year resolutions? It is January 2nd – have you broken any of them yet? I hope you last a little longer with any resolutions you made than the 2nd day of the year. What is your record?

What – if anything – have you decided to change in your life? What have we planned to do differently in the new year? Setting goals is important – because we all know – if you aim at nothing – you’re bound to hit it! What goals have you – have we – set? Continue reading

January 2, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

With All Our Heart

Proverbs 3:5

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;

Are we Masters of anything? My brother is a Master plumber. He is one of the best plumbers in the Annapolis area – maybe in the state. I have often said he is a Jack-of-all-trades and a Master of many. What are we Masters of – if anything?

One thing I feel pretty confident with is the area of finances. My wife and I have made some pretty good investments and have handled our money wisely over the years (thank you Jesus). But even in this area I have a great friend who has given me great advise over the years too.

Another thing I feel confident with is my knowledge of the Word of God. But even in this area – where I have two advanced degrees (Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry) – 40 plus years of ministry under my belt – and 50 years plus of faith – I have mentors that I turned to for guidance (I lost one 5 years ago when my father passed). Continue reading

September 6, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

228th Annual Conference 2012 – Stewardship

I know this might not be read by many but I believe this is very important for our church right now! I will ask the leaders of our church to discuss this post.

Clif Christopher is speaking today at annual conference about stewardship. He reminded us that the church has a product – a changed life. If people are not finding a changed life they will not return to “purchase” your product.

Finance Committees and Church Councils shouldn’t ask “where can we cut the budget” when giving doesn’t match the expenses. They should ask “why is our product not changing lives”. Is the children’s program changing lives? Is the youth ministry changing lives? Are the sermons changing lives? Is the discipleship ministry changing lives? Are the pastors – staff and laity helping to change lives for Jesus? Are we asking the right questions in committee meetings? Are we seeking ways to “reach everyone for Christ”.

GM wouldn’t have faced the problems they did if they would have realized that the people wanted small cars with great MPG rates. Instead they kept building large gas hogs. Not until they realized what the people were seeking did they start to grow again.

Some former pastor at Mt. Oak use to say “if money is the problem – money is not the problem”. It is the product we are selling that makes a difference folks. If there is a money problem – we need to examine the product.

Clif shared some thoughts with us around stewardship. First he said that clergy must tithe. They must tithe and they must share with their congregation that they tithe – not by using that word – but by sharing the dollars and cents! The example he used was for us to tell our congregation that you give me $50,000 as your pastor and I want you to know that I will be returning $5,000 of that to the church to support the ministry we do together. “The sheep ain’t going where the shepherd ain’t leading”.

Clif said that we need to have high expectations of the church. He talked about church membership – and how we need to make being a member of the church something serious. Membership is about making disciples. One of the largest churches in our denomination has 1,600 members but an average attendance on the weekend of 5,000 plus. When asked about the membership totals the pastor said “we may have 5,000 on the weekend but we have 1,600 fired up disciples. Membership and discipleship should be the same! Some churches only need people to be able to “fog a mirror” to join the church.

Clif said that pastor must know the giving of the congregants. I’ll wait a few moments for that to sink in to your thoughts. The discipline of our church says pastors can do this. Clif said that to not know this important piece of information hinders the pastor as they strive to lead. Giving – although not the only benchmark – is a significant benchmark. As a pastor – we are called to help nominate and support leaders of the church who are committed to Christ and to take this significant benchmark away from the pastor hinders their ability to raise up leaders.

Clif said that we need to pay attention to three pockets of giving in the church. We do a great job with annual giving – passing the plate most every week in front of our membership. Where we often fail is in capital giving and planned giving. Clif said that we should always have a vision of where the church is headed and to have this before the people. Even if we do not have a current building program we should have a vision of where we believe God is leading us and with an idea of the costs. He said “if someone came up to you (pastors or church leaders) and offered you $100,000 or even $1,000,000 and you hesitate in being able to explain where you would use it – you are behind”. Planned giving is about estates – about legacies.  Do we even talk to our members about remembering their church in their wills?  Is that too hard for some to consider?  People leave money to colleges and other non-profits all the time.  Why isn’t the church talking about this way of funding their ministry?

Clif said that our Finance Chairs and committees should be people who have been on the Emmaus Road – and that this was more important than having people who have walked on Wall Street. If our leaders walk on Wall Street that will help us balance our budgets. If our leaders walk on the Emmaus Road – they are more likely to help us “reach everyone for Jesus”. Of course – if you have walked both roads – all the better.

Clif reminded pastors to say thank you to those who give – money and time. He told us to write 10 thank you cards a week – and in a year we will have sent out 520 thank yous. The non-profits of the world will send you a free book for a $50 donation – a radio for a $100 donation – and so forth. In the church we often do NOTHING to thank those who give to support the ministry we strive to accomplish for Jesus.

This post has gotten very large. I hope you have taken the time to read it. I would be very interested in what you think of it. Please respond!

May 31, 2012 Posted by | Church, Denomination, Encouragement, Evangelism, From the Pastor, Vision | , | 4 Comments

Start 2011 Right! Join us for FPU

We will start Financial Peace University at Mt. Oak this week.  We have at least three groups taking this study.  FPU is an awesome study that will help persons and couples get a handle on their finances. One of the biggest areas of trouble in marriages today centers around finances.  Join our FPU study on Wednesday night at 7 pm.

Here is some material from Dave Ramsey’s latest newsletter that might help.  I hope it helps!

2011 Everyone has their own definition of what “weird” means. To us, it means having some—or actually a lot—of money, because so many people are broke! If you could keep hundreds of extra dollars a month instead of paying credit card bills, car payments and your alma mater, would you want to become weird?

If you’re tired of being normal (aka broke) like everyone else, here are some ways to get started on your journey to weirdness!

1. Set a solid foundation.

Without a proper start, big plans will eventually crumble. We are here to help you along the way during this weird year that will carry through the rest of your life. Find out how to set a solid foundation.

2. Bring out your inner bookworm!

According to The Literacy Company, 90% of learning is based on reading. You would think that Americans would read a lot, right? Well, about 27% of adults read no books at all in the past year. Set yourself apart from the majority by reading a few beneficial, nonfiction books this year! Here are some suggestions from Dave’s library.

3. Take baby steps with meal planning.

Food often costs more than you think. Plan your meals ahead of time to eat healthier and avoid hitting up your favorite fast-food spot five times a week. It’s not a daunting task when you get help from eMealz for just $5 a month!

4. Compare yourself to the Joneses—really!

The Joneses are broke. They’re in debt and don’t have money for emergencies, retirement or college. Do you really want to be like them? Doubtful. So compare yourself to them and determine what you need to do so you aren’t like the Joneses.

5. Practice saying no!

There are so many good things to do, but you can’t do it all. Learning to set limits in your life will actually allow you to do more, whether it’s with your time or money. Plus, you’ll be better at those things you do since you aren’t rushing around trying to cram a bunch of stuff into your schedule.

6. Surprise!

Who says giving to others only has to take place at Christmas? Challenge yourself to continue giving like no one else throughout 2011. You’ll be amazed at how much better life is when you give to others!

7. Dream.

Just because you’re a responsible adult who’s all grown up doesn’t mean you have to stop dreaming. But don’t just be a dreamer; do something about it! Determine what’s stopping you from making your goal a reality, and challenge yourself to overcome it.

8. Sacrifice.

Most people cringe at the “s” word. But sacrifice doesn’t mean you have to live in a cave and never have fun. Maybe you need to pick up an extra job or cut out a monthly treat from your budget to get closer to achieving your goal. Think of something you can give up, and commit to following through this year.

9. Get a will for real.

About 60% of Americans die without a will. So what’s the big deal? That means that when you die, everything you owned is either left to the government to divvy out, or your relatives will fight over your belongings. Avoid that heartache by creating a will. Stop procrastinating and just do it! USLegalForms.com makes it easy for you to leave this legacy for under $30.

10. Quit your J-O-B.

Don’t love your job? Then quit it! Find your passion and do work that truly matters to you. Yes, even in this economy you can quit your job—just be smart about it. Think it through. Have a plan, and be wise about your decisions. Consider this.

11. Pass on the weirdness!

It’s cool to be weird! Tell others about your journey to weirdness and how you’re changing your life for the best. Send them our weekly email challenges, pass along your budgeting knowledge, or invite them to a free Financial Peace University class. Dave has so many resources available for you and your friends that there’s definitely something for everyone.


January 1, 2011 Posted by | Encouragement, Family | | Leave a comment


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