Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Giving Our Faith Rain

Isaiah 40:6

A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?” “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field.”

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amIt seems like – it doesn’t matter what I do – if I don’t get enough rain – I will lose my front yard. Last summer I lost my front yard.  A combination of lack of water – excess sunshine and a weak root system does it every time. I treated the ground – aerated – seeded with good seed – fertilized with starter fertilizer and winter fertilizer later in the season and most springs I fertilized it again. It often comes up strong and full – but I fully realize that if I can’t figure out a way to water it through the summer heat – it will be gone again. I got an estimate for a sprinkler system – and that is more than I want to pay. I could install a system myself or figure out a way to use my hose and sprinkler more often. I must figure out how to sprinkle through the summer without burning the ground with the hose full of water in the middle of the day.

Even with all of that work each fall – at the start of March – maybe the end of February – my yard looks like most yards – dormant (to a degree). With the wet spring we had this year – my yard greened up and looked great. I hoped it would have time to deepen the roots before the heat arrived. Who would have guessed we would be so dry from July through early October. I cut my grass at the highest setting my lawn tractor with a mulching kit will allow. I cut it twice a week during the peak growing season so I don’t leave behind piles or clumps of dead grass. I would love to have a green lawn throughout the year! I guess everyone would. Continue reading

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October 11, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It Is The Very Word of God

Luke 11:28

Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amOur denomination has a number of issues. One of the issues we seem to have is a different understanding of the Bible. For me – it is very clear – the Bible is the inspired – inerrant – infallible Word of God.

For some – the Bible is a good book where God’s Word can be found. Those who believe this way also think new revelation – new experiences – can supersede the Bible. The Mormons – for instance – believe the Book of Mormon supersedes the Bible. Others believe that the Holy Spirit is giving new revelation that supersedes the written Word. Of course – I do not agree with these understandings. I believe that the Holy Spirit will help us understand the written Word of God and that no revelation from the Holy Spirit will conflict with the written Word of God. The Holy Spirit will remind us of the teachings of Jesus and continue to teach us – but not in a new revelation that is contrary to the written Word. John records Jesus putting it this way – John 14:26 – But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Continue reading

October 7, 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 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Understanding the Bible

Psalm 119:11

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amIn yesterday’s message (you can hear it when it posts and other sermons here) – we mentioned that that living for Jesus is enhanced – even made possible – through our being open to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit came to teach us all things and to remind us of the things that Jesus taught. We also said that we cannot understand the Bible without the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. As we search the truths in the Bible – inspired and urged on by the Holy Spirit – we grow in our knowledge and understanding of Jesus.

A deep knowledge and understanding of the Word of God is only possible through a deepening of our walk with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. The more we know – the deeper we search the Word of God – the more useful a tool it will be for us in our spiritual journey. I once said – the more we use our Sword (our Bible) the more useful that tool becomes to us – so we would encourage people to bring their Bibles to church and to follow along during the sermons. Today we can read our Bible on our smart phones and even follow along on them by following sermon notes by using the URL found in the bulletin each week. There are so many tools available to us as we read the Bible. But – none of them has worth to us without the Holy Spirit.

Reading and storing up the Word of God in our heart – in our mind – is so important. Jesus resisted the Devil when he tempted Him by quoting the Word of God. Jesus was such a student of the Word of God that He knew when Satan was using it wrongly! Matthew 4:1–11 – 1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. Continue reading

September 23, 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, Worship | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Gotta Tell Somebody

Psalm 66:16

Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.

Tuesday morning and night – our two weekly Bible Studies – are amazing. Part of what makes these studies so powerful and Spirit led is the testimonies that some share. Last Tuesday night we heard how one of our men experienced the presence of God in a powerful way. This Tuesday morning three women shared experiences they had in life – how God was present and how God helped them thru some difficult times. These testimonies are powerful because they are 1) right in line with our study as we dig thru Acts and 2) they happened to people we know and love – which takes away much of our built-in doubt when we hear about the movement of God. We gotta tell somebody my friends – about the power and presence of God in our lives.

Telling others about our faith – about God’s action in our lives – is powerful and moving. If we merely quote the Bible or tell of God’s action in the past (stories from the Bible) – people can tune us out at times – because what we are sharing is past and no one is here to tell us it is true. But when we say – this happened to me – and the people know us and trust us – they are more apt to believe. We gotta tell somebody!

How has God touched your life? We begin each study with a time of testimony – praises if you will. We also take prayer concerns (concerns I lift during the live prayer time on Wednesday nights). We dig into the Word for the evening – and at times – more testimonies develop from the readings. We try to make the Word of God relevant – otherwise we are merely studying what happened in the past and not what is happening today – to us. Continue reading

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

Giving Our Testimony

Acts 4:10

It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.

June 2019When is the last time you spoke to someone about your faith – told someone about Jesus? When was the last time you shared your testimony with anyone? I’ve asked some folks to send me their testimonies. Some have done so – some have not. Our testimony is a tool we can use – if we will – to draw others to Jesus. We’ve been lookin at the Book of Acts of late on Tuesdays. The Apostles and disciples were telling people about Jesus – even at the risk of their life.

We talk a lot about giving our testimony – about sharing how Jesus has impacted our lives with others – at our church. We have a time in worship called Telling Our Story where people either give a testimony or we talk about a person’s witness/walk with Christ. This is an easy time to give testimony – because it is in the church family. It is harder to give your testimony outside the church. Are we sharing Jesus with others? We might even have a Tuesday set aside to share how God has touched our lives – and invite the whole congregation. Continue reading

August 2, 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

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