Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Veteran’s Day 2019

John 15:13

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Life ChangeToday is Veteran’s Day 2019. We celebrated with some of our veterans in worship yesterday. We also honored one of our veterans – Richard Reynnells – by giving him a flag that flew over our church in 2019. He was surprised to be so honored. We have honored veterans at First Church for many years.

If ever there were a Scripture that spoke to the American soldier – I believe today’s passage is the one. Whether they were drafted or volunteered – men and women of our armed forces have put their lives on the line for God and Country. Whether they served at home or abroad – during peacetime or a time of war – they were our defense – our shield. They trained to be able to serve and protect. Freedom is not free – it is very expensive. At times – it cost way more than money. At times – it costs the lives or health of those who stand in the gap for us – around the world. Continue reading

November 11, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Encouragement, Family, From the Pastor, Personal | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Love God With All Our Heart

Matthew 22:37-38

37 Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

Life ChangeI thought of this passage the other day. I heard a pastor once ask – the question isn’t the one we typically hear – how much of the Holy Spirit do we have? The question should be – how much of you have we allowed the Holy Spirit to have? He also reminded us that the Holy Spirit comes to transform us – to change us – to make us holy.

As I think about today’s passage I begin to think – how committed are we to God? We talk about being saved – but are we only after someone to save us from Hell? Isn’t Jesus also our Lord – our Master? If the Holy Spirit dwells in us through this salvation – what difference are we allowing Him to make in us – in our lives?

I know some Christians who have made radical changes in their lives. Some have stopped smoking when they came to Christ. Some have cleaned up their language – no longer sounding like sailors. Some have turned from drug and/or alcohol addictions. Some have turned from pornography. Some have turned from same-sex relations or extra-marital relations. Some have made radical changes in their lives because of Christ in their lives – because of the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. Continue reading

November 6, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Week After Easter

Psalm 119:147

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.

Life ChangeEaster 2019 has come and gone. Lent was a powerful time this year for me. Holy Week was amazing. I loved the Seder meal and the Good Friday service. Easter Sunrise service is always special for me – I’ve only missed one in my adult life that I can remember. I loved sharing that time with my father when possible. I loved the hill behind Mt. Zion with the benches and three crosses and the sun rising over the hill – the pavilion at Mt. Oak (with the cross in the field) – and the prayer garden at First Church – just to name the last three churches I’ve served. Each holds many special memories.

On Easter morning I usually arise around 4 am. Sunrise this year was at 6:20 am so we started our service at 6 am. I know that some of our men and women – some of my friends – wake that early or earlier on a regular basis. One of my son-in-laws gets up that early most every day to go to work. It is not my usual time to rise though. As a matter of fact – there have been nights I haven’t gone to sleep until that time! My normal time to rise is 6:00 am or thereabouts. By that time we were starting worship on Easter morning. It was a powerful morning – we had a great time worshiping God. We invited other churches and the community to join us. The sun rising will remind us that the Son rose. Continue reading

April 24, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Attitudes of the Heart

Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Life ChangeI have been writing and preaching about attitudes lately – referring to an old saying of mine – Christianity Boils Down to Attitudethe condition and position of the heart. Today’s passage reminds us what impacts the attitudes of the heart. Namely the Word of God! Reading and understanding the Bible is essential as we mature in Christ. It is the key element in our training as Christians.

We have had a number of people put their faith and trust in Jesus lately at First Church (Praise the Lord). Something exciting is happening at First Church. Recently we have seen an increase in young adults coming to First Church. We’ve seen people accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Giving their hearts to Jesus. The best advice I can give them and others is to begin to read the Bible and join a Bible study where they can search together with others the truths of God. We’ve been calling people of late to train up in the Lord. Continue reading

February 13, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Day After Thanksgiving!

Ephesians 5:19-20

19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Life ChangeI hope and pray you had a fantastic Thanksgiving Day yesterday. I also hope you had time with the family. Around Thanksgiving table – we asked the question – what are you thankful for this year – and some heartfelt responses came our way. What would your answer be to that question? Maybe you are thankful for your health (maybe you haven’t had good health this year but are feeling better now). Maybe you are thankful for family and friends. Maybe you are thankful for your job or for your home. Maybe you are thankful for a son or daughter or a grandson or granddaughter coming home. I’m thankful for a new son this Thanksgiving – and of course – for all of my family.

The passage today gives the Sunday School answer – lol – and reminds us that we should be thankful for God and for all that God has allowed in our lives. We are even to greet one another with praises – even with songs of praise – acknowledging our thanks for God. Continue reading

November 23, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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