Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

We Should Let Our Light Shine

Philippians 2:15-16

15 Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life.

Life ChangeHave you ever looked out into the night sky and watched the stars? If you live in an urban area – this might be a little hard – but if you live in a rural area like I do – it is a sight to behold. The stars shine brightly in the clear night sky. When I was a teenager – I used to love sitting on the roof top of our family home – just outside my upstairs bedroom window – watching the sky (my room had a window that opened onto the roof and I slipped out there some nights – my parents didn’t know – I think – unless my brother ratted on me – we shared a room).

Let’s look at today’s passage in partial context. Philippians 2:12–18 – 12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. 14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”  Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me. Continue reading

November 12, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It Seems Hard To Love One Another

John 14:15

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

Life ChangeIt seems hard to love one another. For example – I tried to cheer on the Washington Nationals as they were in the playoffs and eventually won Major League Baseball’s World Championship. Yet – pushback came from National’s fans calling me a pretend fan who was jumping on the bandwagon late. I also took pushback from others – calling me out for rooting for the Nationals – since I’m a diehard Orioles fan – as if I couldn’t root for another local team – simply because my team wasn’t in the playoffs. I could better understand if the Orioles and Nationals were in the same league or division and competing for the same league championship. But the Nationals are my National League team – since I was a young child – I’ve rooted for the local Washington team – back in the day it was the Senators (my dad was a big fan). When I was 12 – I began to root for the Orioles and have stayed with them ever since.

It seems hard to love one another. For example – because I have Facebook friends from all walks of life – we don’t all agree on many subjects. Be it sports (Ravens and Steeler fans – Oriole and Yankee fans) – or politics (Republican and Democrat – Trump and Hillary or now Trump or anyone but Trump) – or theologically (left and right – liberal and conservative – Christian and atheists or others) – my friends are all over the place. We hardly agree on much of anything. As a matter of fact – some have unfriended me because of my beliefs (my theology or ideology). Continue reading

November 8, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Is Our Cross to Carry?

Galatians 5:16

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Life ChangeIn sermons – we are often called to take up our cross and follow Jesus. We often wrestle with the question – what is our cross? We often look at the cross of Jesus – which He began to carry from time eternal. His cross to carry wasn’t just from the courtyard to Golgotha. Jesus began to carry His cross from before the creation of the world – denying Himself – His rightful place in heaven – knowing He would suffer and die at the very hands of a humanity He loved enough to die to redeem. I always stand amazed at His love for us.

So what is our cross? What is the cross we are called to carry? We often suggest that denying self is the cross we are called to carry. We often talk about mature Christians thinking more about how we can be used of God to feed the righteously hungry. We can hear sermons on carrying our cross – and feel good about our understanding of such a sermon – yet – do we really walk out that message? Do we really understand what our cross is we are called to carry? Continue reading

November 7, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Should Give Our Anxiety To Jesus

1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Life ChangeAnxiety is tough to face. Anxiety is defined online as – a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Anxiety can overwhelm us. It can cause disorders and medical issues. It can immobilize us and take us down if we allow it to do so.

Anxiety can manifest itself in many ways. WebMD defines anxiety this way: Everyone feels anxious now and then. It’s a normal emotion. For example, you may feel nervous when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision. Anxiety disorders are different, though. They are a group of mental illnesses, and the distress they cause can keep you from carrying on with your life normally. For people who have one, worry and fear are constant and overwhelming, and can be disabling. But with treatment, many people can manage those feelings and get back to a fulfilling life.

WebMD lists these among the anxiety disorders – panic disorders – social anxiety disorders – specific phobias – and generalized disorders. Each – if not treated – can be disabling. Some – who battle an anxiety disorder – are unable to function in society. Some need medication. Some need psychotherapy. Some may need both. But the passage today suggests another treatment for anxiety. We’re called to give our anxiety to Jesus. Continue reading

October 30, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Have We Learned To Be Content?

Philippians 4:11

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

Life ChangeThink about this question for a moment. Have we ever been content? Have we ever had enough? Have we ever been satisfied? When is enough – enough? How much do we need? Are we storing up more than we need?

Have we ever been content? At times – being content might take away our drive – our desire – to accomplish more. But the contentment that Paul is writing about in today’s passage has to do with things – learning to be content with the things we have or don’t have.

One church I served went to Appalachia each summer. A friend – 92 – who just died this week – went for many of those years. We sent teams to ASP (Appalachia Service Project) each summer. We learned just how much we had and how much we take for granted. It really helped us think about things in a different way. We had way more than almost everyone we served – and yet they were happy and often content.

I remember working on a coal miner’s shack in the mountains of Tennessee. That family had made their home out of this old minor’s shack. The outside boards had big gaps between them and the Tennessee winter winds and cold made it very hard to keep the shack warm. They had a pot belly wood stove in the middle of this shack and the ceiling above it was black from how hot they had to keep the fire to offset the winter cold. In this home we studded out the walls, installed insulation and put drywall up. Our efforts were to help them stay warmer in the winter. It was a small help – yet they were very appreciative of our efforts. I know they were warmer that following winter. Continue reading

October 29, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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