Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

What Is The Cost?

Luke 9:23

Then he said to them all: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

Life ChangeWhat is the cost of being a fan of the Orioles? This past year we had to suffer through 115 losses. In recent history – we suffered through 14 losing seasons in a row. Some of our best players have signed elsewhere – because we weren’t willing or able to sign them. Some of the best players in baseball were traded away (example: Curt Schilling) or allowed to leave in free agency (example: recently honored Hall of Famer Mike Mussina). Maybe – just maybe – the sons of the current owner of the Orioles will be able to bring back some enthusiasm and bring us a winner once again. We can only hope.

What is the cost of living in Maryland? Some of the things that some would call costs – others might call blessings. For instance – the high cost of living makes it tough – but that also means there are plenty of jobs and careers that pay high wages/salaries. The urban areas of Baltimore and DC are seen by some as a high cost of living in Maryland – but – with many people brings much diversity and amazing schools and hospitals – just to name a few things. We have the Orioles as mentioned before and the Ravens along with some DC teams to cheer as well. And some strong colleges in the area. Continue reading

January 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 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Following Jesus – Step By Step

Luke 9:23

Then he said to them all: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

I remember one winter – long ago – when my father went out into the deep snow to get wood for our fireplace. It was a cold day and the snow was deep. I do not remember how old I was at the time of this memory – but I bundled up and tried to follow my dad. As I followed in his footsteps – step by step – my stride wasn’t long enough (remember the snow was deep so it wasn’t simply matching his stride but picking up my feet to the height of the snow as well). A few steps into following him – I fell over. I got up and kept trying to follow him. I made it to the woodpile and worked my way back – falling a few times more as I carried wood back to the house for our fireplace.

Following dad wasn’t easy. He made things look easy – but they were not. When we worked together – dad would always take the harder task. But he made the harder task look easier so I often asked to switch places with him – only to find out that what he was doing was harder than what I was doing. One such time was when he was using a hoe to make rows in the garden. My task was to keep up with him and plant the seeds. I couldn’t keep up with him and thought hoeing was easier – so we switched. It wasn’t easier – I learned another lesson the hard way. Continue reading

July 3, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Denying Self Is Not Easy

Luke 9:23

Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

RayMcDI have a few too many pounds on this body of mine – still. Even after losing 50-60 pounds I have 20-30 more to go and they are hard pounds. It is hard – it seems – to deny myself the things I like – food wise. I like most foods. Denying self is not easy. I’d like to use the excuse that I’m a big fellow by nature – but I wasn’t while younger for sure (and I have the pictures to prove it). I must have an issue with eating too much and not exercising enough. Denying self is not easy for me – when it comes to food.

Denying self is not easy for some of us if not all of us when it comes to sin. We like pleasing ourselves it seems. We would like to say we are willing to deny self and follow Christ but we often fail to do so. We fail to follow through and end up indulging self rather than denying self. Every time we sin we have chosen our desires over God’s will in our lives. Continue reading

October 3, 2016 Posted by | Build, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

So What Does Your Flesh Desire?

Galatians 5:17

For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.

112015 Ray McDonaldSo what does your flesh desire? Sleep is one of the things my flesh desires. I remember being told I fought taking a nap as a child – how foolish was that of me! Now I long for a 15-20 minute nap each day – even twice a day!

So what does your flesh desire? Food is another thing my flesh desires. At times – it seems – not for fuel but for enjoyment. The old saying goes like this – eat to live don’t live to eat – yet there are times I seem to live to eat. I mean – if I have paid for all you can eat – why stop when you’ve had all you should have I say! Thus I sin when I am a glutton – when I eat more than I should.

So what does your flesh desire? Most of us have desires. Most of us seem to fulfill our desires – at least most of them – if we want – we get. But in today’s passage we are told that the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit. Here is today’s passage in partial context. Galatians 5:13–26 – 13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. 16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Continue reading

May 5, 2016 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Deny Self and Draw Near to God

Luke 9:23

 Then he said to them all: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

112015 Ray McDonaldDenying self is not easy. Taking away things you enjoy – for a variety of reasons – is not easy. I enjoy a good Diet Pepsi or ten – I love the carbonation and the taste. But I might be addicted so I need to deny myself! Some studies have also shown that they are not good for the body!  It will not be easy – but my last Diet Pepsi was Saturday at noon.

Denying self is not easy. Taking away things you enjoy – for a variety of reasons – is not easy. I’m cutting out desserts and as much sugar and flour as possible. I’m sure it will be hard at first – but in time – I will not miss it at all! And it will be better for my body for sure.

Denying self is not easy. Taking away things you enjoy – for a variety of reasons – is not easy. I like technology and I enjoy social media and some online games (like solitaire). But they can become time consuming and they can take valuable time from each and every day – time I could use to be more productive and to spend with God.  In a previous prayer/fast – I stopped playing Farmville – and have never played it again.

I plan to use the time I gain from cutting things out of my day to spend more time with Jesus! Here are some devotional materials for our 49-day Prayer/Fast. Continue reading

February 8, 2016 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Fast, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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