Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

God Heals the Brokenhearted

Psalm 34:18

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. (ESV)

Rays Haircut

My heart is broken today as the news of Ravi Zacharias’ passing sinks into my heart and spirit. As the White House Press Secretary – Kayleigh McEnany – said in an interview – Billy Graham was the great evangelist and Ravi Zacharias is the great apologist. She almost lost it in the interview and I almost lost it listening to her. We will miss Ravi greatly. He had one of the sharpest minds of our age. I wonder how many of our readers have ever experienced a broken heart? Am I alone? You can listen to this interview here.

What breaks your heart? What brings you to tears and beyond? I’m a hopeless romantic (that is the term I choose to use and I’m sticking with it). As much as I love my wife and wouldn’t trade her for the world – I remember relationships from the past. Smells and songs trigger memories for me. I remember the first girl I ever kissed (I was 9 and we were moving from our church and she was 10 and I kissed her on our last Sunday). She was my first girlfriend – so to speak (it is written in my baby book LOL). I remember the perfume my next girlfriend used (Heaven Scent) and it brings back memories when I smell it.

As I grew older – songs began to play a part of my memories. Stevie Wonder’s You Are The Sunshine Of My Life has fond memories as does Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together. Colour My World by Chicago was also a favorite – it was the first song I ever danced to (with someone special).

Let’s Stay Together was a song that brings back not only fond memories but sad memories as well. It was still popular (came out in 1972) – a few years before one of my relationship breakups. As an emotional person – it would bring tears to my eyes remembering that relationship after it was over. Even today I occasionally remember relationships past. I’m listening to some music from the Vietnam era as I type out this devotional and each song brings back memories of my youth. Continue reading

May 21, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Life Led By the Spirit

Romans 8:14

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

Rays HaircutI was thinking about my dad this week. I miss him so much. What brought him to mind is the health concerns of Ravi Zacharias. Ravi is a man of faith – a man of God – like my father. I looked up to my dad and I look up to Ravi. My father was my hero and Ravi is a spiritual giant himself – and a hero of sorts.

A year ago – a sport’s writer and MASN personality – a friend of mine – wrote about his father’s passing in a recent post. You can read about it here. His father was his hero – someone who guided his life – someone who led him in life. I could so identify with his article/post. He wrote – He read this blog every morning before his newspaper and kept checking it throughout the day, scrolling through all of the comments. I’ll keep telling myself that he’s reading this one, his eyes moistening because the former offensive guard at Ford City High School and Indiana State in Pennsylvania softened as he got older. The hugs hello and especially goodbye kept getting tighter. The old guard called for holding.

Roch Kubatko grew up in Anne Arundel County – just north of where I grew up. I knew of him when he was in High School and I was officiating sports in High School and College. He wrote about his dad – his hero – and I thought I was reading an article/post I had written six years ago about my dad. We were both so blessed to have dads in our lives that meant so much to us. Continue reading

May 14, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Meeting God Face-To-Face

Exodus 33:22

When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amHave you ever met someone that put you into awe mode? I’ve met some famous people over the years – and I’ve felt honored to meet them. I personally met several ball players over the years. I’ll name a few – and some of our younger readers might not know some of them – Johnny Unitas – Jim Palmer – Boog Powell – Eddie Murray (I remember him standing in the rain to give me an autograph) – Brooks Robinson – Harmon Killebrew – Frank Howard – Raymond Berry – Frank Robinson – Wes Unseld – Earl Monroe – Paul Blair – Don Buford – Al Bumbry – Justin Tucker – Matt Stover – and others. I once refereed a basketball game at old Andover High School where the visiting team was made up of Oriole ball players and others. I remember giving a technical foul before the game began – to Al Bumbry – for dunking in warmups – yes – I was a sticker for the rules back in the day.

Have you ever met someone that put you into awe mode? Maybe – with how close we are to Washington – you have met some politicians – like Presidents or others. Maybe – some of my friends who work with FCA have met some current players. I know I attended a dinner recently and met Coach Harbaugh along with some players. Continue reading

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

How Do You Stretch Your Faith

20140530-104833-38913743.jpgSunday we had an awesome time in the Lord. During the sermon we challenged people to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  There were over 40 people – counting both services – who raised their hands. It was an awesome experience.  It was very moving.

Here’s a question.  What do you do to stretch your faith?  Once you have accepted Jesus in your life – how do you stretch your faith?

I listen to sermons on podcasts most days.  I use iTunes and my iPod/iPhone/or iPad to listen to Andy Stanley , Ravi Zacharias, Mark Driscoll, Louie Giglio and have searched for Wellington Boone but his podcasts seems to be down right now. Any suggestions?

I also do a daily reading program through www.youversion.com.  The Bible app on my iPhone or iPad helps me keep up with reading through the Bible in a year.  We’re thinking about reading the New Testament together as a church – in 8 weeks – this spring.  Sermons will follow the reading plan to help us.

So how do you stretch your faith?  What do you do to grow spiritually?

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

September 23, 2014 Posted by | Book Review, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How and When Does God Speak to the Pastor?

Have you ever wondered where the inspiration comes for the pastor to prepare a message each week?  The Holy Spirit speaks through a number of resources.  Recently in a sermon I mentioned that I listen to a number of sermons on podcasts each week.  I also mentioned that I try to read a number of blogs and books (not enough of them).  I also said that at times – sermon ideas come from these resources.  God speaks to my heart and I occasionally use the ideas of others to relay what God is saying to me (there is nothing new under the sun).

Some have questioned this by suggesting that the Holy Spirit should speak directly to a pastor and that all sermons should come out of the pastor’s relationship with God (I’m stretching this some to make a point).  I want to suggest that my relationship with God is more than my prayer life and my reading of the Bible.  Surely these are primary – but reading or listening to how God speaks to others should also be useful resources. Pastors for generations have used the writings of others – an example would be the many commentaries written to help us understand the Bible (not equal to the Bible but useful for discerning the truth of the Bible).  A generation ago most every pastor I knew had a set of commentaries in their office – others’ ideas on the Scriptures.  They used these to prepare their sermons each week.

Today I do not need to have one set of commentaries on the Bible – I have many. My Bible program has no less than 30 different commentaries as well as over 3 dozen sets of sermons and writings on the Scriptures including sermons written by John Wesley – John Calvin – Martin Luther and others.  With the internet – I also listen to sermons through podcasts preached by the likes of Craig Groeschel – Andy Stanley – Ravi Zacharias and others – such as preachers I know that put their sermons on their websites or on iTunes.

With these additional resources – I get to look at the Scriptures – not only from my point of view – but also from the eyes of other men of God.  Have you ever used two translations of the Bible to better understand a passage?  These resources are like multiple translations.  I try to let you know when I am taking more than just a few ideas from them – like I did this past Sunday when I mentioned that a lot of the ideas for the Guardrails Series came from a sermon series that Andy Stanley preached in his church last year.  In doing this I am not trying to name drop but rather to be honest with the resources I use – like the series last year when I used a number of ideas from the book written by Reggie Joiner as we launched our children’s and youth focus – Orange (family-yellow and church-red combined to make orange).  Some saw this series as one of the best we have shared and some saw it as a book report.  I saw it as a creative way of presenting what the Holy Spirit was telling the staff and church leadership about the direction of our ministry.

I ask for your prayers next week (on Thursday) as I will set aside a day – with two other pastors from the area – to seek what God would have us preach to our congregations in the coming months.  We will spend time praying together – picking our brains – and doing individual work for each of our churches.  My prayer is that God will give me just what is needed for our spiritual journey together as we reach the whole family for Christ.

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

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February 11, 2011 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Sermons | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


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