Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Walking Toward the Cross

Isaiah 49:1

Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the Lord called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name.

Life ChangeLent is typically a time to give something up – to stop a bad habit – to deny self – to dig deeper into our walk with Jesus. Today we look at a passage that will lead us to the cross and to the resurrection. Let us focus on Jesus this week – more than usual – the cross is near. Let us identify with the walk and the sacrifice Jesus made for each of us. Jesus came to earth – voluntarily – to walk to the cross. Can we imagine how we would face our last weeks on earth? How we would face our death – when we had the power to avoid it?

What has changed in your walk with Jesus during Lent this year? A load of folks have walked together reading the book – The Case for Easter – and yesterday they talked about some of the change that are taking place this Lenten season for them. Lee Strobel has crafted his book to challenge and prove the life – death and resurrection of our Lord. Continue reading

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March 27, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Understanding God

Job 38:4

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.”

Life ChangeLast night I felt a cold coming on. I prayed against it and so did many others. I felt God’s presence last night as I preached at Queen’s Chapel UMC in Beltsville. The Holy Spirit came on me and I made it thru the evening. On the way home I felt the cold coming on stronger. I went straight to bed when I got home. his morning – the cold is there! I’m taking a sick day at work. I’m trying to handle things – working a little from my home office – and treating the cold. A nurse from our church told me to get plenty of rest and drink plenty of water. I know God is with me and I pray I will feel better soon. I will rely on God to heal me for sure. I will seek after His face and desire His grace and try to more fully understand God.

In much of life we operate as if we have a handle on things. I know I do. We go along – as long as we have our health and our mind – as if we are in control and that nothing can take us down. I have had experiences in my life when I realize how quickly we can be knocked down from that healthy perch when a simple cold or an event in our life where things change. We don’t feel like moving when we are sick – let alone get out of bed and function. We are such fragile beings for sure (men especially it seems). We pray – often – for those in life changing events. We remember – several years ago – how the mass shooting in Vegas changed the lives of so many so suddenly #VegasStrong. Most recently the mass shooting in ChristChurch New Zealand reminded us of evil in the world and how quickly our lives can be changed. It can happen in so many different ways in our lives. We need to more fully understand God and to do this we must – at times – deny self and looking beyond what we think we know.

When we are well – we can get pretty full of ourselves – thinking nothing can get to us – we are invincible (I kissed my wife even though she was sick for a week – thinking I would not get sick). New drivers often think of themselves as invincible – driving faster than they should – thinking nothing will happen to them – since they are in such control. Continue reading

March 21, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Orthodoxy Is Not Bad, It May Just Be Correct!

Colossians 1:23

…if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Life Change

Today’s devotional thought was mainly written years ago.  I have made some minor changes – but – it seems – things don’t change much – because it is still speaks about a truth today.

If it ain’t broke – don’t fix it? I know most of us have heard that saying before. That isn’t perfect English – but – it is real. Most often we shouldn’t try to fix things that are working.

Change is not always good nor is it always bad. Change for change sake can be either good or bad. Many of us do not like change. Many of us have a hard time with change.

Technology buffs (the mirror is up) always want the latest greatest – even when what they have accomplishes what they are doing. Car buffs always want the newest model – even when the vehicle they have is working well. We can have a closet full of clothes – and every style imaginable – but when the new line comes out – we want to change. Our golf clubs play well – but someone convinces us that a new set will help our game (it is not the arrow but the Indian that misses the target – typically). My 2013 iMac is doing just fine thank you – I don’t need the newer model. Many of us need to resist change – because change is often just fluff – bells and whistles. Continue reading

February 25, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How’s Our Prayer Life

Psalm 27:4

One thing I ask from the Lord…

Life ChangeThe Special General Conference (SGC) begins tomorrow. They are meeting in St. Louis – and delegates from all over the world will be there – representing the United Methodist Church. We are a global denomination with over 12 million members. The Methodist movement has approximately 80 million worldwide in various denominations that have their roots in the Wesleyan movement of Christianity.

At the SGC – there will be 864 delegates – with 58 percent from the United States and 30 percent from Africa. The remaining delegates are from the Philippines – Europe – and Eurasia – as well as from churches with which The United Methodist Church has formal relationships.

If we could ask for one thing of God – what would it be? Would we ask for unity in the denomination? Would we ask for a peaceful split? I know my prayer has been for us to be open to the Holy Spirit. I have prayed for unity – but not at the cost of doctrinal integrity. I have prayed for the church to understand clearly the Word of God and to rightly determine its use in our lives. What would we ask for if we could ask for one thing of God?

Let me ask another question. How’s our prayer life? Prayer is how we speak with God. How’s our prayer life? Continue reading

February 22, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Holy Spirit – Enlighten Your Church

Psalm 119:105

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Have you ever been in the dark? Have you ever tried to walk thru your living room or another room in the dark? Do your toes scream to turn on the lights? Have you ever tried to climb the steps from the basement with the lights out because the switch was not in the right condition (you know: the switch is up when the lights are off – LOL)? OK – that last one was just me I guess.

Last week was Valentine’s Day. Have you ever been in the dark in a relationship? Wondering if he or she liked you? Wondering if this was the one – your life partner? Have you been burned several times and you’re tired of walking in the darkness? Have you sought a way to throw a little light on your relationships?

Have you ever wondered about life in general? Have you ever experienced dark moments when you felt depressed? Have you searched for the meaning of life only to come up empty? I imagine a lot of people struggle with understanding life – especially when it doesn’t seem to go as we planned. Continue reading

February 19, 2019 Posted by | Bring, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Marriage, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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