Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

The Other Side of the Casket

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.

June 2019This verse came to mind almost seven years ago as I sat in the front row at my father’s burial.  For 36 years I had been on the other side of the coffin – trying to give words of encouragement and lifting prayers on behalf of the grieving family. Other than my two grandmothers (both grandfathers died before I was born or when I was an infant) I have not lost anyone close – other than some childhood friends. With my maternal grandmother died I was in the family section – not upfront. I did celebrate my paternal grandmother’s life as her pastor. I have not had a close family member pass since – until my father died. We had both sets of parents – still married to each other and living strong!

I am a pretty emotional person – and I think I held up pretty well through the visitation time and at the funeral (almost broke down once during the sermon and as the coffin was being closed the previous night). There I was – placing the cocoon that held my father into the ground and yet I was an emotional wreck.  I knew it wasn’t my father. I knew he was with Jesus. I knew the story of the butterfly I have told hundreds of times and even shared it at my father’s graveside service – but the emotions of the moment hit me hard. Continue reading

July 16, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Difference Between Needs and Wants

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.

We 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.

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 – for 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 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 often have not because they have mixed up their needs and wants. Continue reading

April 5, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Election Is Over – Jesus Is King!

James 1:2

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,

RayMcDWell – when you read this devotional thought – the election will be over – or at least it should be (unless there are some more hanging chads or someone calls for a recount). I hope you voted dear readers. Some of us will be happy. Some of us will be sad. Some of us will be confused. Some of us will shake our heads. Some of us will be dancing in the streets. Some of us will feel downtrodden. Some of us will feel uplifted.

As I write this devotional thought I’m watching the early news as the polls are getting ready to close – starting with the East Coast and moving westward. How would you like to live in Hawaii – OK – most would say I’d love to live in Hawaii – except for Election Day – when the race is usually decided before you even get to vote – LOL (the West Coast also feels this way at times). Continue reading

November 9, 2016 Posted by | Build, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A New View of the Coffin

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.

This verse came to mind this past Sunday as I sat in the front row at my father’s burial.  For 36 years I have been on the other side of the coffin – trying to give words of encouragement and lifting prayers on behalf of the grieving family.  Other than my two grandmothers (both grandfathers died before I was born or as an infant) I have not lost anyone close – other than some childhood friends.  With my grandmothers I was deep in the family section – not upfront.  I have not had a close family member pass – until my father died.  We had both sets of parents – still married to each other and living strong!

I am a pretty emotional person – and I think I held up pretty well through the visitation time and at the funeral (almost broke down once during the sermon and as the coffin was being closed the previous night).  But there I was – placing the cocoon that held my father into the ground and yet I was an emotional wreck.  I knew it wasn’t my father.  I knew he was with Jesus.  I knew the story of the butterfly I have told hundreds of times and even shared it at my father’s graveside service – but the emotions of the moment hit me hard.

I now know what it means to have a parent pass – and I know what it means to have a parent healthy and strong.  It still hits me – a week after his death.  I know it will hit me for years yet – and maybe for the rest of my life.  I hope it makes me more compassionate with others – with my family – with the people I am blessed to serve.

I often tell people that when a parent dies – it will impact us in ways we will need to wrestle with for some time.  The natural barrier for death has been removed – we become the next generation and – all things being equal – we will be the next to die and meet our maker!

As much joy as this hope and assurance brings – it is also scary – because we have not been there yet and the unknown is hard to deal with for some of us.  Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  I pray my faith is stronger than my emotions.  I pray that my faith will see me through the fears and uncertainties that I will face as the days – weeks – months and years unfold.

Pray for me please – as I pray for you and minister to those who have lost loved ones with a new view of that side of the coffin!

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

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September 28, 2012 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family | , | 7 Comments

   

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