Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Life Can Be Unfair – God Is Always With Us

2 Corinthians 4:8

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;

Life ChangeLife – at times – can be unfair. I’m not talking about a pitch being two balls off the plate and called a strike unfair. I’m talking about real life – being unfair. I know a number of persons who are going through some real life struggles. I know of a few marriages that most thought would last a lifetime – and they are falling apart. I know persons who have lived healthy lives – taken good care of their bodies – facing cancer and other life threatening medical issues. I’ve heard from pastors and parishioners that are perplexed by what they see even in the pews and pulpits of the church – the Body of Christ.

We see people ready to take sides – vehemently – on issues that abound. Our nation has yet to come to grips with the 2016 Presidential elections – and we’re into 2019. If you are against the POTUS – or for him – people on the other side will attack your views in a heartbeat. Racism is an ugly reality in our nation. Love for one another is not the center of our thinking as a nation or even as a church at times. Whatever side one might be on with the current issues facing the United Methodist Church – be careful where you express your views – because you might be bullied for sharing them. A few conservatives dared stand up for the POTUS recently at the Grammy Awards and they were belittled in social media and in person. Continue reading

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February 15, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From Where Does Our Help Come?

Psalm 121:1-2

1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Life ChangeFrom where does our help come? During the government shutdown – from where does our help come? Were we good savers? Do we have a contingency plan in place – having experienced shutdowns in the past. Have our churches come to our aid? Have other family members? Have other agencies of the government? And – of course – the question remains – when with the POTUS and Congress compromise – solve border security – immigration – and open the government again?

From where does our help come? Have we faced tough issues in life? From where did we seek help when we had medical issues? We have some of the best hospitals in the nation right in our backyard. Some of the best doctors and medical schools. But – can we afford health care? Can we afford the best doctors and medical care? From where does our help come? Will we ever get a grasp on health care in this nation? Continue reading

January 24, 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, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Abortion Takes A Life

Psalm 139:14

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Life ChangeLast Friday was an infamous date in our country’s history. Today’s devotional thought is taken from several previous posts about the fact that abortion takes a life.

In January 1973 – I was 17 – soon to be 18 and a graduate from Annapolis High School. I was preparing to enter Anne Arundel Community College (AACC or A2C2) for the summer semester to get a head start on college. I would raise my baseball officiating career to the college level by umpiring division one games at Navy that spring and be invited by Navy’s coach to go to Florida to umpiring school to become a professional umpire. Life was good – for me. But January 1973 – is an infamous month in the history of our country. 46 years ago (I can’t believe I’ve been out of High School that long) the courts passed Roe v. Wade – which legalized killing babies in the womb – called abortion.

I understand that this is a hot button topic still today. Maybe especially in these days with two more Supreme Court Justices nearing retirement or worse and the current POTUS – President Trump – sure to appoint conservative Justices to the high court Vice President Pence is very pro-life and so maybe for the first time in 46 years there is hope for the pro-life movement. Maybe changes will be made after all of these years to protect the unborn. The media screams over many things today – but the killing of thousands of babies a day doesn’t appear on their radar.

I’ve written about abortion on several occasions – one article was titled – An Article about Abortion – written in 2009. Another article was titled simply – Abortion – written in 2008. Still another article was titled – Does It Take Controversy – written in 2012.  In 2011 I mentioned abortion in an article about the upcoming resolutions before General Conference in 2012. In 2011 I wrote another article titled – When Will Our Nation Awaken to Such a Great Sin?  In 2010 I wrote about abortion and used the example of a dear child that doctors said should be aborted and about a woman who was aborted but lived. In 2010 I also shared The Manhattan Declaration In Total. Continue reading

January 22, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

God Is Our Refuge and Strength!

Psalm 46:1-3

1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

Life ChangeI want to use an event from the past to make a point today. Can you remember a tough time in your life? Can you remember – when you were caught off guard by something that happened?

For instance – where were you when the earthquake of 2011 hit our area (just 7 short year ago)? Depending on the report you listened to or read after it happened – it was measured somewhere between a 5.8 and 6.0 on the earthquake scale. So where were you – what were you doing – and more important – how did it impact you? What were your thoughts during and after the quake?

I was in my office at the church I was serving – working on a sermon when the building started to shake. Nothing fell – and I had lots of knick-knacks on my shelves at the time – but the old home where our offices were located shook and rumbled for sure.

Immediately – the staff was outside – looking first for what had caused the building to shake. We had road construction at the time and we thought it was one of the large trucks working near the building that shook the office. I ran back into the office and checked my computer and people were tweeting and posting on Facebook that we had just had an earthquake. I shared the information with the staff and we stayed outside a little bit longer. Continue reading

January 14, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Repay Evil for Evil

1 Peter 3:9

Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing.

Life ChangeHatred and evil are running rampant in our nation these days. Satan is having a hay day it seems. The deep divide in our nation is getting wider and deeper.

We have seen a battle of late over our southern border. The President of the United States (the POTUS) laid out his plan to protect and secure our southern border last night. No sooner had he shared his plan – leaders of the opposing political party got on the airways to rebut what he had just said. There was a disconnect – it seemed to me. Their response didn’t really address the situation at the border. It merely said the POTUS had it wrong. It seems like we have gotten to the place where policies are right or wrong – depending on the person or political party expressing them. These same politicians from the left were toting exactly what the POTUS expressed a few short years ago when they were in power. This is not healthy for our nation and in my opinion is simply hatred. It is not in the best interest of our nation for the two main parties to simply oppose one another – instead of working together to compromise and work for our nation’s best interest.

Instead of simply standing still and throwing mud at each other – giving evil for evil so to speak – they should get together and solve the government shutdown and border security issue (something many on both sides voted for in the past).

One truth that I have always heard through the years is this – hurting people hurt others. If healing is to occur – we need for people to break the chain of hurting each other. In marriage counseling – I often run into couples who are in a vicious cycle of tit for tat (equivalent retaliation) – he/she did this or said this and so I must say or do this back! Trying to give as much as we get is not healthy! The Old Testament’s tooth for tooth justice is not good for trying to heal relationships. The New Testament call to turn the other cheek is what will allow for the space for healing. Continue reading

January 9, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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