Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections


1 John 4:7

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

20140530-104833-38913743.jpgDo you love someone? Do you have someone or a group of some ones that you love? If you’re like many people – you have several people that you love. If we were to begin to name them – and remember we don’t all love the same people or even have these people in our lives – we might begin with our parents. I didn’t write a devotional thought yesterday because I was in mourning for my late father (9/18/12). It was his birthday (he would have been 86) and I wasn’t feeling very chipper for sure. I did what had to be done and not much more yesterday. I can say I dealt with it better than I did last year so maybe there is progress!

If we kept going with our list we might mention our children – our spouse – our siblings – some very special friends – and for some the list would go on and on. For some – the list would be much smaller – and for some there might only be one or two or even none on their list. Continue reading

July 30, 2014 Posted by | Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Personal, Theology | , , , , | Leave a comment

Greater Love

John 15:13

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

profileToday is Valentine’s Day.  Guys, I warned you last Friday that today was Valentine’s Day.  There is no excuse.  And with the snow keeping so many folks home – it is a great time to spend some quality time together – even if you can’t get out.  Did you get your card ahead of time?  You were given a week’s notice! lol

I have this thing I do with my wife and daughters.  I text them periodically and tell them – I love you.  They normally text back – I love you too – or – I love u 2.  Most times I will text back – me more – meaning I love them more!  We have done this for decades – even before we had cell phones to text. Continue reading

February 14, 2014 Posted by | Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Understanding God’s Will

Romans 12:9

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

RevRayOne of my favorite passages of scripture is Romans 12:1-2 – Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.  Understanding God’s will is a subject that many have asked about over the years.  I’m sure most of our readers have thought about this as well.  It is a question I have wrestled with too.  Thoughts or questions like the following have been asked or thought.  Pastor – can you help me understand God’s will for my life – or – pastor – how can I know God’s will for my life?

In the aforementioned favorite passage we’re told that by not conforming to the world’s standards but rather conforming to God’s standards we will be able to tell God’s will for our lives.  Sounds too simple!  The more we are focused on godly things – and the less we focus on worldly things – the more God’s will for our lives will be seen and understood in our lives. Continue reading

April 15, 2013 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mission and Vision at Mt. Oak – Send Them Out

Our Vision and Mission at Mt. Oak

The Problem: Families are under attack 

The Solution: Reaching the whole family for Christ

The Process: Bring them in, Build them up, Send them out

The Win: A changed life or family for Christ

This coming Sunday – the last Sunday in a three-week series on our vision and mission – we will preach on the third par of our mission or process – send them out.  One point I want to make today is that the process is not necessarily linear.  We do not have to follow a sequence of bring them in, build them up and send them out.  Although all three are essential – the can happen together or independent of each other.

Here is an example of all three working together.  When we talked about Sunday worship being a bring them in event – we also talked about it being a time of building them up when we teach and instruct in the message or through other means.  It can also be a send them out event – as we serve one another and show love toward others.  Sending out the disciples to serve is essential.  Some may find significant places to serve within the walls of the church – others may find their most significant places to serve outside the church.  I believe we are all called to do both – some more than others in either direction.

Sunday we will look at a variety of Scriptures that challenge us to serve others.  We will talk about loving others – thinking of others – and the various ways we as a church can implement this call of love.

We each have different gifts and should use them to God’s glory.  Part of our build them up process will be to help the church find out what gifts they have and how they might use these gifts to God’s glory. 1 Peter 4:10 – Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

Start thinking now about what gifts you believe God has given you and how you might use them to serve others.  We already do or have done things at Mt. Oak to help others.  Some of these include but are not limited to StreetReach, Turkey Outreach, Mission Trips, Thanksgiving Day Meal, supporting Missionaries and our Sports Programs.  We also – through our pastors – support families in financial need – in times of grief – and in other crisis situations.

What we would like to develop at Mt. Oak is a group of outreach ministries that our congregation can’t wait to join.  That not only takes a congregation that is maturing as disciples – wanting to show the love of Christ to others – but also a group of outreach programs that hit home – hit the heart.  If you are a person who facilitated a mission project – wouldn’t it be refreshing to have so many people wanting to help – that you either had to expand what you were planning to do or had a waiting list of people itching for the next opportunity?More on this Sunday and in another day’s post.  I hope I have pricked your interest in Sunday’s message.

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

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January 19, 2011 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey | , , | Leave a comment

Loving Our Enemies – That Just Isn’t Natural!

Matthew 5:44

But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

Loving those who love us is pretty easy for most of us.  Not liking those who don’t like or love us – or who do evil toward us – is also pretty easy.  Jesus even quotes the Old Testament when Matthew records His words:

Matthew 5:38 – You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’

Most of us could live with that Old Testament truth.  Jesus even supports our natural feelings a few verses later when He quotes the Old Testament again – with a contemporary add-on.

Matthew 5:43 – You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’

I can only imagine that most people are like me – in some ways at least.  Most of us have some people who like us – some who don’t.  Most of us like some people – and some we don’t.  We probably have mostly had people hurt us – who we would consider an enemy of sorts.  The people of Jesus’ day would probably have been much like us in these ways.  They were probably supportive of Jesus as He quoted and supported their feelings – eye for eye, and tooth for tooth love your neighbor and hate your enemy.

What came next probably floored them – as it floors us.

Matthew 5:44 – But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

Loving our enemies?  I mean – really?  Does Jesus understand what He is asking us to do?  I mean there are some pretty mean people in my life.  Aren’t there in yours?  Does Jesus really understand what He is asking us?

Of course the answer is yes – He understands.

Luke 23:34 – Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

Jesus explains this new approach even further – as we read further in chapter 5 of Matthew’s Gospel.

Matthew 5:46-47 – 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?

Wow – it might be hard – but our Lord did it and He tells us the unsaved can love those who love them – we are called to love those who we might consider our enemies.  Not sure about you but that does and will take the grace of God working in me.

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.


December 14, 2010 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Theology | , , , , , | Leave a comment


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