Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

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.

Rays HaircutI seem to be doing more funerals as the years mount – and more of the deceased are friends and family. Not too long ago I celebrated four funerals in a five-day period. It is an honor to help families celebrate the life of a loved one. Most funerals I celebrate are from folks in our community – folks I have not had a previous chance to minister to or with – and I just try to bring them a measure of comfort for the short time I have with them. I usually talk with them on the phone and meet them on the day of the service. I often read the 23rd Psalm at the service.

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. I can usually tell people of faith versus people will little or no faith when I share at funerals. The way we face death is telling. Continue reading

June 9, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Our Eternity Is Secure In Christ

John 3:3

In reply Jesus declared, I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.

Our eternity is secure in Christ. I cannot believe that it has been 45 years since I graduated from High School. I was taking a few minutes to remember those days recently. It seems so long ago and yet so recent. The early to mid 70’s were amazing years in my life. I was in High School – graduating in the spring of 1973 from Annapolis High School. I was in college – attending AACC or as we called her A2C2 (for those who don’t read math – that is A squared C squared). I graduated from AACC in 1975 and began to attend the University of Maryland. It seems so long ago and yet so recent.

Our eternity is secure in Christ. During this time in my life I had one girl friend for one year and one girl friend for two years – names have been left out to save their reputations (I’m still friends with one today – a FB friend even – I have no idea where the other might be in life – I lost touch with her decades ago). I mention this because many of us go through relationships that come and go – that at the time we thought would be forever. I thought both of these young ladies might be the one I would spend the rest of my life with for sure – yet neither turned out to be my life partner. Life is so unsettled at times – we live – we learn – we hurt – we have happiness. I had friends during this time in my life that I thought would be life-time friends. One died way too young and others – mostly – have gone on with their lives and our lives have crossed ever so infrequently. It was during these days that I began using the following phrase – happiness is circumstantially driven, while joy is spiritually derived. My days were filled with circumstances that brought happiness and sadness – sometimes in the same event. What seemed so concrete and secure during this time in my life seems to be just a vague memory today. Things that seemed so permanent are just afterthoughts today. Continue reading

July 11, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Valley of 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.

112015 Ray McDonaldI seem to be doing more funerals of late – more than normal for sure.  I have recently celebrated four funerals in a five-day period.  It is an honor to help families celebrate the life of a loved one.  Most funerals I celebrate are from folks in our community – folks I have not had a previous chance to minister to or with – and I just try to bring them a measure of comfort for the short time I have with them.  I usually talk with them on the phone and meet them on the day of the service.  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.  I can usually tell people of faith versus people will little or no faith when I share at funerals.  The way we face death is telling. Continue reading

February 4, 2016 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Fast, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

The Fruit of the Spirit – Peace

Galatians 5:22-26

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, 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 sinful nature 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.

82015 RayWe continue through this week – examining the Fruits of the Spirit as found in Galatians 5.  Today we will deal with the third fruit listed – peace.  Peace is something that most of us search for – even yearn for – in our lives.

What is it that brings us peace? I could talk about temporal peace – much like happiness – and say that it is circumstantially driven.  Some peace comes over us when the circumstances line up properly. A measure of peace comes over us when we have completed our finals – a large project – our education – after a big family gathering. Eternal or spiritual peace comes from our relationship with God.

Job 22:21 – “Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you.” Continue reading

October 8, 2015 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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