Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Straining Toward What Is Ahead Of Us

Philippians 3:13

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amOne of the biggest issues most of us face is forgetting the past and straining toward the future – what is ahead of us. Some of us tend to live in the past and the past – most often – will only hold us down and hold us back. Forgiving ourselves is often the problem – as we mentioned in Sunday’s sermon. Long after we have confessed our sin to God and repented (grieved and turned away) of them and God has offered grace and mercy we still tend to hang on to the guilt at times. Anyone with me this morning?

Paul was focused on being holy – being perfect – striving after Jesus with all in his power. In striving for perfection – he couldn’t – he wouldn’t – allow himself to dwell on past sin – having confessed it and repented of it – he was focused on the task ahead.

Satan wants us to dwell on our past sins. Satan wants to steal the joy of forgiveness – mercy – and grace. Satan wants us to live in guilt and without the freedom that comes from forgiveness. Continue reading

October 17, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where Do We Struggle?

Romans 7:18

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amWhere do we struggle the most in our lives? Have we ever felt one way and yet ended up going another way? Silly question – right? We are all human and most know the right thing to do but have succumbed to the wrong way. We often know the right way – and yet yield to the wrong way. We fight temptations and evil – but at times we fail in our struggle. I know I have more times than I wish to remember. And I keep trying to find a way to be faithful to what I know to be right.

Where do we struggle the most in our lives? For some – it is with what we put into our bodies. That could mean drugs – or alcohol – or it could mean overeating. Anything we do to excess and can be harmful to us. We know certain things are wrong and harmful – yet some of us continue to abuse our bodies with what we put into them. We try diets – we try to be sober – we try to walk the steps – but – at times – we succumb to what is harmful for us. Again – I have a mirror up as I type this devotional – seeing myself – and reflecting! Continue reading

September 17, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Is Our Mission?

Luke 5:32

I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amHave we ever been in need? Needed help with something in our lives? Needed help getting something moved at home – larger than we were able to move ourselves? Needed some help getting a job? Needed help getting into a certain school? Have we ever been in need? Hopefully someone came along and helped us in our need. If not – often that need went unfulfilled – unaccomplished.

Jesus came to help us in our need – our sin need. Jesus came to save the lost. Jesus came to pay the price of our sins – something we could never do alone. Jesus didn’t come for the righteous – the perfect (as if there are any). In Jesus’ day – some religious people thought they had it all together and that they didn’t need Jesus or anyone. I hope and pray none of us today have this self-image. I hope and pray that we all know we are sinners saved by grace. Continue reading

September 16, 2019 Posted by | Bring, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Anxiety

1 Peter 5:7

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

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amI know a number of people that battle anxiety. I was reading this passage the other day – and even talked recently to some folks about their anxiety. What are we anxious about in life? What is it that causes us to have trouble sleeping at night? What do we think about and can’t seem to stop thinking about – moment by moment? What decisions in our lives have caused us the most anxiety?

As I reflect back on my life – I can think of numerous things that caused me anxious moments. I can remember being anxious when I went out for the High School football team and cuts were being posted (I made the team each year by the way)! I can remember being anxious when I asked my future bride to marry me and wondering if she would say yes or no (she said yes – and we just celebrated 39 years of marriage). I remember being anxious when my children were being born – the first because she was the first (she is 36 now) – the twins because they were twins (they are now 31). I can remember times when I was anxious about my job – about my health – about many things. And on this side of those anxious moments – I can testify that being anxious didn’t help the situations one little bit. As a matter of fact – being anxious made some of them more difficult and didn’t help my health any at all. Continue reading

September 5, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Grace – Grace – God’s Grace

John 1:14

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amAs John describes Jesus – the Word becoming flesh – I am struck by yet another difference between Jesus and me! He was and is full of grace as John writes – and I am not always filled with grace – and at times the church is not as well. I am not – by nature – a mercy person – yet as a pastor I am called to show mercy – maybe another name is compassion. The church is too.

I was listening to a broadcast on the web and they were talking about grace – and restoration – in the church. Amazingly – their stories were that even in the church – there weren’t a lot of people who knew how or were even willing to show grace. Those who have been shown grace – who have been shown mercy – by God – should be the first ones willing t show mercy – forgiveness to others. God’s grace should be evident in our lives. God’s grace is poured out on us and we should share it with others. Continue reading

August 28, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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