Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

These Are Trying Times

John 14:9

Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.

Rays HaircutThese are trying times. This pandemic has given us reason to pause. Some have been isolated in their homes for months now – it seems like longer. Some have been continuing to work – wondering where the rest of us have been (LOL). I pray constantly for our members – family and friends – and for the whole world indeed. In our state – Maryland – our governor has given good leadership during these trying times. Many are calling for him to run for POTUS in 2024.

These are trying times. With the recent death at the hands (knee) of a police officer in Minnesota and the multiple deaths of police officers and others by rioters across the nation – our society seems to be on the brink. Many are blaming or pointing the finger at those from the opposite political party. Racial unrest is nothing new. A solution would be something new. A people who worked together for the good of all people would be good.

These are trying times. Finances are an issue for some. For some – this is not a pandemic issue. The stimulus check helped some – but it was not enough for others – who are not back to work yet. Continue reading

June 5, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Difference Between Wants and Needs

Philippians 4:12

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

Rays HaircutWe live in a day and age – probably not unlike many other eras – when there are a number of folks that live hand-to-mouth. These persons live in many communities around us and in our own communities. Living hand-to-mouth means that a person uses every part of their income with no plan for the future. Everything they make they spend. They live hand-to-mouth.

Some people have had many opportunities – yet still live hand-to-mouth. Some have not had many opportunities and find themselves in the same situation. There are a number of people in our society that may not be able to make ends meet. For these our society tends to help (although many we help – IMHO – have made decisions in life to put themselves in this situation of need).

Part of what leaves many folks living hand-to-mouth is a lack of understanding or discipline when it comes to wants verses needs. Most people (and I have no statistics for this at this time but it is an educated opinion from 40+ years of ministry) live beyond their means because they have mixed up their needs and their wants. This happens at all income levels – from the very poor to the very rich. How many times have we read about professional athletes – who make more money in a 4-10 year career than many of us could make in several life-times – only to find themselves living hand-to-mouth in short order? I had an elderly person once tell me they couldn’t live on their social security check. I wanted to tell them that social security was never meant to be the sole income for a person in retirement. A person was supposed to save – to put money aside for retirement. They were not to spend all they made. They may have mixed up their needs and wants. Continue reading

May 26, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Allow the Holy Spirit to Connect with Our Spirit

Romans 8:27

And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

Rays HaircutDuring this pandemic – many of us have probably been speechless at times. There have probably been times when we just couldn’t imagine what we are facing or will face in the future. I know there have been times when I couldn’t express myself and I simply let out a roar or primitive scream. I know some parents and some children have had some new experiences around the house – out of school for so long or trying to learn new skills with online learning.

During this pandemic – many of us miss gathering for worship. I spoke today on the phone with a number of our folks and to the person they asked me – pastor – when will we be able to meet at our church again? Several have been able to view our services online – but others have not been able to do so. I think we’ll ask those seniors if they had DVD players and cut a few with several weeks of worship on them. Continue reading

May 12, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Super Natural – God Stuff

Psalm 42:8

By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life.

Rays HaircutI grew up reading comic books. I had many first editions and full series. I enjoyed the ones where the mild mannered people in day-to-day life turned into super heroes when trouble came their way. One of my favorites growing up was mild mannered Clark Kent becoming Superman. I wouldn’t miss an episode and even today try to catch the old TV show when I can. My brother was a fan of Batman!

I must admit – I don’t watch much TV these days – other than some really old shows – sports and the news (you can guess which news program I watch the most). Some of the shows I tape and try to watch are the ones about super heroes. I like the supernatural! I like it when good overcomes evil.

Today’s passage reminds me of the supernatural presence of God in my life. Psalm 42:8 – By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life. I guess it is just that phrase – by day the Lord. God is always at work in our lives. By day – He is directing His love in us – through us – and in spite of us. And at night – we are singing songs to His glory and presence in our lives. Continue reading

May 11, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

There Are Eyes All Around

Exodus 34:29
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.

Rays HaircutI often ask this question. What brings a smile to your face? Of course the first answer I would give these days is spending time with my grandchildren (and children) (although I don’t get to do it as often as I’d like with this pandemic). We now have five grandchildren with a sixth on the way (sooner rather than later we hope) (adoption in process).

Another thing that would being a smile to my face would be the opening of the golf courses in the area. And as always – long winning streaks by my favorite teams (the Baltimore Ravens – Washington Redskins – Baltimore Orioles – and Washington Nationals). Didn’t the Ravens play great last season – except for the playoffs? The Nationals went all the way and won the World Series. That was great to watch. I hope we get to see the Orioles winning again on a regular basis like when I was growing up. You know what would bring some smiles to area fans? If the Orioles could make improvement each year – that would bring a smile to our faces.

Still another reason to smile might be time spent with my wife. She is the very best people. I don’t deserve her for sure. I definitely married up.

I could get very pastoral (and truthful) and say a smile comes across my face when a person receives Jesus Christ – when the light comes on for them in their personal relationship with Jesus. Other things bring a smile to my face as well – like when my friend makes a good shot in golf and gets excited about it. When we see someone with a smile on their face we usually think something just happened and we tend to be curious.

How about when people notice you have lost weight? Better yet – when they say something encouraging to you (if losing weight was what you were after). I remember when one of my daughters greeted me with a hug and she said – getting skinny dad – as she wrapped her arms around me? What about someone saying something about your new hairdo or your new dress (or suit)? How about the smell of your favorite food – or freshly baked bread – or bacon frying (that one always brings a smile to my face)? Continue reading

May 5, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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