Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Keeping Things Fresh and Green

Psalm 92:14

They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green,

Life ChangeOk – the season is upon us – my wife has begun to decorate for Christmas. Have you started at your home yet? Do you have a tradition? Do you decorate the day after Thanksgiving – or do you shop that day and decorate on another day? Do you do it slowing – or all at once? Is it a family event or does one person pretty much take the lead?

At our home – my wife is the decorator (there are stories I could tell you about what happens when I help – but that is for another post). I usually put up the tree – with help – but she pretty much does the decorating. I help bring down the boxes – but she puts things up. She starts slowly and works up to being finished a few weeks before Christmas – at times as early as the 1st of December.

What traditions are important to you around Christmas decorating – if any? I know people who have fully decorated trees they simply put away decorated and bring them out for Christmas. I know people who leave their tree up year-round. I knew a couple – my dear friends Tom & Doris – who used to put a tree up in every room. Personally – I like the decorations – but I think I could do without them. Don’t get me wrong – I love Christmas. My dad loved Christmas and I have good memories of Christmas as a child. But Christmas for me has always been family – music – worship and seeing family and friends. The decorations are nice – but not essential for me. Continue reading

November 21, 2019 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, 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

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

How Is Our Relationship With The Holy Spirit?

John 16:13

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.

Life ChangeAs we enter the fall and winter holiday seasons – I really miss my dad. I often went to dad with spiritual and personal issues in my life. I would also talk to him about church life and share my concerns and my joys. He was a good sounding board – a man of faith and a man of love. He guided me through many troubling waters and helped me avoid so many as well. The holidays are not the same without him.

Is there someone in your life that fits this bill? Is there someone who we turn to in times of need and times of joy? A number of my friends are fellow clergy and we often have people coming to us for guidance on issues in life.

My children come to me from time to time – but not nearly as often as I would like – seeking guidance. I miss my dad greatly – because he was a source of strength for me. Do you have someone you go to? Continue reading

November 5, 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, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Holy Spirit – Come Spirit – Come

Luke 1:35

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”

Life ChangeThe overshadowing of the Holy Spirit made me think of a school experience. I remembered when I was in elementary school – we use to pass notes in class (I don’t recommend this to our students). You know the type note I’m talking about – the girls would make up these little books with questions in them like do you like so-in-so? One of the questions on a booklet passed around said – do you like Dark Shadows? Now Dark Shadows was a show that came on right after school – a soap opera as it were. It was about a vampire and creepy things. I didn’t watch it – or at least hadn’t watched it before being asked – and didn’t even know about it – and so I thought they were talking about dark shadows at night. Everyone else was saying yes – so of course – succumbing to peer pressure – I said yes as well. It was only later – when I was asked specific questions about Dark Shadows – I found out it was a TV show – and of course I started watching it.

That memory came back to me as I read today’s passage. Of course today’s passage is about Mary – the mother of Jesus – but it talked about the Most High overshadowing Mary – and so I thought of that school experience. Of course – one was an evil overshadowing and this passage is telling Mary that the power of the Most High will overshadow her. Continue reading

November 4, 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

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