Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Heaven or Hell – It Is Our Choice!

Revelation 21:1

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.

img_0063-2When’s the last funeral you attended? For me – I seem to attend a funeral or more most every week. Some I attend – some I help celebrate the life lived and lost. I recently celebrated the life of a longtime friend who died way too soon. I also have celebrated the lives of much younger persons – spouses and children. Most services are mixed with different emotions. The friend lived a good life – a life of faith – a life with family – a life filled with community and church involvement. She was a wonderful lady and has gone on to her reward with Jesus – yet – sadness was there too because we don’t have her around to talk with – until we meet again.

The others had their stories as well. One was a school teacher – another was a home engineer – still another worked for NSA. Each funeral or memorial service has some sadness and at times – some celebration. Like my mom’s service a few years ago – after she battled with dementia for 6 plus years – it was a blessing for her to transition to be with Jesus – yet it was still hard.

It has been over seven years since my father died – and I still miss him and tear up from time to time thinking about him. He was a man of great faith and a family man all the way. He served others his whole life. Because of dad’s passing – I can better understand the grief of others. My mom’s passing has helped me as well. She too lived well and had a deep faith. Both services were times of mixed emotions. Continue reading

January 13, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Caste Your Anxiety On Jesus!

1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

112015 Ray McDonaldTellySavalasTelly Savalas – of Kojack and lollipop fame – use to say – who loves ya baby.  It was one of his trademark sayings.  He raises a question for us today.  Who loves us?  Who will be there for us through thick and thin?  I mean during the tough times as well as the good time?  When the money stops flowing – when the material things fail – who will still be with us?  When we have failed – sinned – who will stick with us?  When we are near death – who will be by our side?

Recently – during a funeral – I was reading Psalm 23.  In the midst of the 23rd Psalm David writes: he restores my soul (Psalm 23:3).  When people are facing the death of a loved one – they often need to be reminded that even in the storms of life – even when times are tough – God wants to restore our souls.  Even as their loved one has just walked through the valley of the shadow of death, we should fear no evil, for God is with us; His rod and staff, they comfort us (Psalm 23:4 paraphrased).  I helped celebrate at an annual service at a funeral home – reminding people that when all around us falls apart – Jesus is there for us to give us strength and comfort.

Recently in a sermon I mentioned that we need to build our relationship with God while times are good – so that we have a prayer life – a personal walk with Him – when times get tough.  I’m not suggesting that we store up good will with God while times are good so God will be there when we need it.  I am suggesting that a working relationship with God will help us when times are tough.  When the path to God is well worn by constant use we will find our way into God’s presence a lot quicker! Continue reading

December 16, 2015 Posted by | Advent Thought, Bring, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Do You Want To Go To Heaven?

Revelation 21:1

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.

Pic of Ray 11302014When’s the last funeral you attended? For me it was just last week – I attended the funeral for a good friend’s mom and the week before I celebrated the life of a longtime friend who died way to soon. Both were services mixed with different emotions. The mom lived a good life – a life of faith – a life with family – a life filled with community involvement. She was a wonderful lady and has gone on to her reward with Jesus – yet – sadness was there too because we don’t have her around to talk with – until we meet again. The friend served his whole career helping others as a schoolteacher while also keeping the family farm running. He also was a person of great faith – a family man with a wife and two children who are also schoolteachers. We attended the same elementary school back in the late 50’s and early 60’s. We attended the same church as adults for 20 plus years and played softball and basketball together. His service had mixed emotions – mainly because he was so young on the one hand and was so strong in his faith on the other hand. We are sad for us – but celebrate his going to be with Jesus.

It has been a little over two years since my father died – and I still miss him and tear up from time to time thinking about him. He was a man of great faith and a family man all the way. He served others his whole life. Because of dad’s recent death – I can better understand the grief of others. My mom is still with us – strong of body and struggling with her memory. She too has lived well and has lived her faith. It will be a time of mixed emotions when she goes to be with Jesus. Continue reading

December 1, 2014 Posted by | Advent Thought, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Shadow of Death

Psalm 23:4

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

20140530-104833-38913743.jpgWith the most recent celebrity death – namely that of Robin Williams – I imagine people are thinking about depression – addictions – life – and death this week in ways they haven’t before. A funeral or memorial service will be held for him – again I imagine. I’ve done more than my share of funerals over the years. Some of these are for folks from the community and I have not had the time to minister to the deceased – but I have an opportunity to minister to their loved ones.  I often read the 23rd Psalm.

I love today’s portion of the 23rd Psalm.  One of the great hopes and blessings of our faith is that we do not have to fear death.  Death is – for the person of faith – a stepping stone into the presence of God – and eternity. Continue reading

August 13, 2014 Posted by | Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Prayer | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fear Not

Psalm 118:6

The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?

profileToday’s devotional thought was delayed – it somehow didn’t go out like it should – so I moved it to tomorrow and will do a new one for today.  It will be short and sweet.

I remember the first time I was on fast running water.  My new wife and I went white water rafting in Pennsylvania – on the Lower Youghiogheny River I believe.  It was amazing – but a little scary for a land lover.  We didn’t turn over – but some of the rafts in our group did and I will say before you worry – they all made it safely back to the raft.

We came upon a still water area and so we all got in line to jump off this big rock into a deep part of the river.  I will tell you now – I had jumped off high things before – into water – I wasn’t scared at all.  That is until I hit the water – it was freezing – the water – coming down off the mountain from the melted snow.  I lost my breath for a moment – and was scared – fear gripped me and I thought – will I ever come up and catch my breath? Continue reading

August 27, 2013 Posted by | Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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