Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Prepare The Way For Christ

Matthew 3:3

“A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ ”

Many of us if not all of us have prepared for something important. Maybe it was a job interview. Maybe it was the season of time when we were preparing for college or marriage or a career. We have made plans and prepared for something in life that was important. Olympic athletes prepare a lifetime for their moment in the spotlight as they compete for their countries.

I remember when God laid on my heart the calling to be a pastor. In the denomination where I have served for 41 years – I needed a four-year college undergrad degree and a three-year Masters degree – all at accredited schools. I eventually also earned a Doctor of Ministry degree to further my education. Along with the educational requirements – which continue in the form of continuing education credits – I had to undergo examination after examination it seemed as I was first ordained a Deacon in the United Methodist Church and later ordained an Elder.

Some people my age are planning for or already into retirement. It takes planning and prep work for sure. Questions abound. Can we afford to retire? What will we do in retirement? Where will we live (some cannot afford to live where they lived while they were working and some want to downsize so they can spend more time doing other things)? It takes much prep work to retire. It actually takes a lot of prep work while we are working to make sure we can retire well. Continue reading

April 26, 2017 Posted by | Bring, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Carry Your Own Cross

Luke 14:27

And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

RayMcDAs I get older – one of the things I’ve noticed about our society – is that there are more people than ever that seem to feel like someone owes them something or someone else is responsible for their behavior or choices. People do horrific things and blame others for their actions. People make unwise decisions and expect someone else to pay their bills or repair the damage their decisions have made. It seems like more people are on government programs – government subsidies – receiving money from the government (tax payers) – than ever before.

Thanks for letting me on my soapbox for a paragraph. I know the subject is more detailed than my simply observations – but that is how it looks to me. It seems like some people – even more people today than ever before – want something for nothing.

Some in the church even think this way. Salvation is free they say – and yes – the cost of salvation is free – having been paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ. When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him – John records this – John 1:29 – The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Paul – writing about salvation – about grace – wrote this – Ephesians 2:8 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. So we see that the penalty has been paid – the cost of our sins is covered – yet Paul says this grace comes through faith in Christ – the Hebrew people had to apply the blood of the lamb on their doorposts for death to pass them over – and today we are called to follow Christ – to be His disciples. Continue reading

September 21, 2016 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thinking of Others

Philippians 2:3

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

IMG_0435-0In our western society – it is not normal to think of others. Most people are very myopic – thinking singularly about themselves. Thinking about numero uno – number one – is where most people focus.  We’ve heard the phrase – the me generation I’m sure – and it can be used to label many generations for sure. Some of us are often focused on what makes us feel good or better.

Today’s passage gives us a different view.  Here it is in partial context.  Philippians 2:1-11 – 1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Continue reading

June 9, 2016 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God Sees It All

Matthew 6:6

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

IMG_0435-0In our world of social media – everyone posts everything – it seems. People post what they eat. People post what they do. People post how they feel. People post their anger – their joy – and their mixed feelings. They not only post words – they post pictures – selfies – videos – and more.

Programs like Twitter – Facebook – Snap Chat – YouTube – Instagram – and more make connecting on a surface level pretty easy. We have thousands of friends and even post things that tests our friendships – if you read this and are truly my friend – post one word on how we met and repost this on your site – or I will remove you from my friend’s list.

Some do not want an Internet footprint or want to reduce their footprint (good luck). In the Christian world we do all of the above and at times I have seen prayer requests online. My hope is that when folks type praying – they truly take the time to pray. Continue reading

June 2, 2016 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

He Must Become Greater!

John 3:30

He must become greater; I must become less.

82015 RayPractice doesn’t make perfect – perfect practice makes perfect. That was something my High School football coach use to say. It wasn’t going through the motions in practice that would make us a better football team – but rather it was doing things right – over and over again – that would make us better. Through perfect practice we would soon be able to do the right things without even thinking about it. It would become natural.

Salvation is a free gift from God – for those who receive what Jesus did on the Cross of Calvary – who received Jesus as Lord and Savior. Ephesians 2:8 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—.

Once we have salvation – we are called to walk out our faith in such a way that God is glorified. Matthew 5:16 – In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. We are to let our light – the light of Christ in us – shine so that others see Jesus and give Him glory. Continue reading

October 26, 2015 Posted by | Build, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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