Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Let Jesus Shine In Us – Thru Us – and In Spite of Us

Matthew 5:14

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.

June 2019The month of October is the beginning of darker days. Only a few months away from the heat and long days of July we are currently experiencing. Darkness is fun at times – and at times it is not. I remember growing up and living next door to a cemetery. Now that could be scary – at least for those not use to it. When friends came over or cousins visited – we would play hide and seek. I would always hide in the cemetery – over in the darkest corners where the house light didn’t shine. Whenever someone got close to where I was hiding – I would make sounds that would scare them away. The darkness and the unknown would always win the day. But darkness is not always something to be desired as we will see.

Darkness – in today’s scripture – represents the absence of Jesus. Jesus is instructing His followers and He tells them that they are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. As believers – as disciples of Jesus – we are to allow His light to shine in us – thru us – and in spite of us.

I remember – again as a child – traveling to my mother’s home town – Moorefield WV.  As we would come over the mountains – with very little light other than our headlights – we would crest the last mountain top and move down toward the valley. As we descended the mountain – we would see the lights of Moorefield. We knew we were there – for mom – it was her childhood home. I remember when the chicken plant started running all night and when they got their first fast food store – a McDonald’s. As the town started to get more and more active over the years – the lights were stronger as we crested that last mountain.

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July 18, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hearing From God – Do We?

June 2019Often – as I sit at my desk in the wee hours of the morning – waiting to hear from God – I began to put some thoughts down for a devotional or a sermon. Have you ever wondered how one would hear from God? I mean – the Scriptures are filled with people hearing from God. Some examples are in the biblical text for us. There’s Moses’ burning bush.

Exodus 3:1-5 – 1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight — why the bush does not burn up.” 4 When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” 5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Continue reading

July 17, 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

God Loves Us

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

June 2019Tuesday night at VBS – today’s passage – was the passage of the evening. We were telling the children that God loved them – each of them – individually. We started on Sunday night with stories of God’s love. on Monday night we talked about God loving everyone. Tuesday night we talked about God loving us individually – and today’s passage was the main passage.

If you watch golf at all – you are well aware that at many golf tournaments – someone will probably have a sign behind the golfers (where the cameras catch it) that reads John 3:16. This passage hit home with me this week as I watched the national and the international scene unfold around me. I’m wrestling with the needs of others and the need to secure our borders. I’m trying to understand the need to protect our people from terrorists and other threats. I listen to the debates about building a wall – denying certain people entrance into the USA – and the need to keep track of certain people. It can be very confusing at times and very mind blowing. All people are God’s children – even those who do not obey Him or even believe in Him. Yet – in society we have boundaries and borders and nations.

As Christians who are from a certain nation – we are often caught dealing with our national interests and our Christian global interests. Christ died for the whole world (although all will not accept His free gift of salvation). Christ died for the people we are trying to keep out of our nation – even the criminal elements. It is a hard place at times. It is tough taking a stand because there are arguments on both sides of most discussions. I tried this week to ask for thoughts on a clergy page and all I received was one offer to talk person-to-person (not doable at this time) and pushback for the way I presented my question. If even clergy cannot discuss this issue – how can we expect others to do so? Continue reading

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

VBS Week – a Great Week!

Revelation 3:2

Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.

June 2019During the week of VBS – each year – my dad would wake us up (we had morning VBS) with a song I believe he made up. At the top of his singing voice – which was considerable – he would sing his Vacation Bible School song. I can still remember him singing it today. It woke us up for this day long – week-long event. I fondly remember it now – but at the time I was not too happy.

Dad wasn’t the subtle type. He didn’t come up and lovingly whisper in our ears that it was time to get up and gradually allow us to deal with the early hour. He allowed us to stay asleep as long as possible – I assume – and then he WOKE US UP!

How do you like to be awakened? Is there really a good way? In the past – about 15 minutes before my alarm goes BUZZ – I would have my radio timed to come on and begin to air my favorite sports channel. By listening to the DJ’s talk (105.7 The Fan) about the latest talking point about the Orioles or Ravens – I would slowly wake – usually before the BUZZ sounded off. Yesterday – because I was up till close to 1 am – I turned off the alarm and slept an additional 45 minutes – just saying! It was a blessing. Being VBS week I have been coming into the office later. Continue reading

July 10, 2019 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quiet Time With God

Mark 6:31

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

June 2019OK – we prayed a few years ago for our children and grandchildren to come home – two grandchildren and parents were living in New Jersey while three grandchildren with parents were living in California. We are so glad to have them back home. It is good to have family close. It was special having almost the whole family together for the 4th of July celebration at my brother’s home. Yesterday was a wonderful time being with family.

Having said that – quiet times around the McDonald home are few and far between these days. Carolyn and I have not had our home to ourselves yet very much in our married life – with children moving back home (we loved it) and my brother-in-law (and dog) living here the last 4 plus years. Being so close to our children and grandchildren – you know they are over often (again – we love it). They all love each other – yet like siblings and cousins – there are times they battle as well. I am not complaining – but finding a quiet moment is not easy – even early in the morning. Yet we realize how important – even essential – quiet time can be for us. My quiet time is often my ride to and from work (about 35-40 minutes one way most days). I listen to music – but – I often listen to podcasts and sermons – soaking in the Spirit and in the Word of God. Continue reading

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

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