Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

I’m So Confused

Romans 7:15

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

I’m so confused! Ever felt like this – confused? I believe most of us have been confused before. I was confused a few weeks ago – when my second NFL team – the Redskins – were winning throughout the game – seemingly had the game in hand – only the lose it in the 4th quarter. This type of confusion returned when I saw my favorite college basketball team blow a 20 point early lead to need a miracle ending to regulation and then some great plays in overtime to win a recent game. Things just don’t as planned – sometimes.

I’m so confused! I am at a loss and very confused by the current political scene. The left and the right – the extremes of both views – seem to be out of control. I definitely lean right my self – but not as far right as some in today’s political world. It seems that neither party wants to think of what is best for America – or even discuss where their views of what is best for America might differ or agree. Continue reading

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December 6, 2017 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Walk Like Jesus – Press On Toward the Goal!

Philippians 3:13-14

13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

IMG_0301Last Sunday – during the sermon – I asked if anyone was perfect. If anyone was perfect they were asked to raise their hand. It was not a surprise to me that no one lifted a hand – not even one – because – on our own – we are nowhere near perfect. Our sin nature – although overcome by the spiritual nature we put on in Christ – still rears its ugly head from time to time in our lives. Even though we want to be obedient to God – we often fail. We do what we do not want to do and do not do what we want to do (so says Paul in Romans 7:15).

During the 21-Day Prayer/Fast – our imperfect nature – or should I say my imperfect nature – surfaced a number of times. I struggled at times with my food intake and at times with my social media fast. It was not easy – and yet I knew what I should be doing and what I should not be doing. The same can be said as I strive to lose more weight – I know what not to eat – yet at times I seem to yearn for just what I shouldn’t have for sure. I know I am alone in this area! Continue reading

January 27, 2015 Posted by | Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Fast, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Prayer/Fast – Day 18

Joel 2:12-13

12 ‘Even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.’ 13 Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.

Today’s Scripture reading came from www.youversion.com – the 21-Day Fast reading plan.  It is day 18 in the plan if you started on January 10th – the day our congregation’s prayer/fast began.  Joel 2:12-32 is the entire reading for the day.

The most amazing thing about God – or should I say one of the most amazing things about God is His mercy and grace – His forgiveness.  At times I feel like this prairie dog when I pray to God.  So small and insignificant.  Why would God even listen to me – let alone act on my prayers?

The author of Joel writes these words: ‘Even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.’ Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.  This is just amazing to me.

There are many times – if I was God – I would not forgive me.  Do you feel that way too?  As much as I/we desire to obey God – at times my/our heart is set on temporal things – rather than eternal things.  I/We wrestle like Paul: I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Romans 7:15

There is the time we get huffy with another driver on the road.  The time we are short with our children or our spouse.  There are times when we have lustful thoughts.  There are times when we cheat and lie and outright turn our hearts away from God.  You can easily add to this list as I know I can and yet if we sincerely turn to God – return to God – repent and seek His face and desire His grace – God will forgive us and cast our sin out of His presence.  That is just amazing to me! Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.

As we pray and fast before God – as the days countdown to the end of our 21-days – I pray you have felt this loving God hold you with His loving arms and offer you forgiveness and His grace!

Daniel 9:3 – So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. Have you been spending more time praying?  Have you set aside time every day to be before the Lord?

Personal Report:  I’ve made it through 17 days without a Diet Pepsi.  I almost gave in yesterday – I was at Panera and wanted the bottomless cup of Diet Pepsi so bad but I hooked myself up with a hot green tea instead.  I hope you are hanging tough with your fast – whatever it is – and that you are finding more time for God.  No Words with Friends – although some friends have invited me to play and some have invited me to play other games – but I have resisted.  No sugar or sweets either – and I have spent at least a ½ hour a day in sweet prayer (the time I would usually have spent playing Words with Friends.  Day 18 is before us – only 4 more days – counting today!

I will continue to pray for you as you walk through these days of our prayer/fast.  I pray God begins to speak to you and that you will share it with others.

If you wish to join me reading the same plans on www.youversion.com they are a yearlong reading plan called Robert Roberts – day 27 today – the Gospels in 30 days  – day 19 today – and the 21-Day Fast – day 18 today.  Join me or try other reading plans.

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

Today’s Awakening devotion can be found here!

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January 27, 2012 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Fast, From the Pastor | , , | Leave a comment

Prayer/Fast – Day 15

Psalm 51:1-4

1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.

Today’s Scripture reading came from www.youversion.com – the 21-Day Fast reading plan.  It is day 15 in the plan if you started on January 10th – the day our congregation’s prayer/fast began.  The entire 51st Psalm is the reading for the day.

The Psalmist seems to echo the prayers many of us express.  We are sinners – lost on our own.  We need forgiveness – to have our transgressions (sins) blotted out and remembered no more.  Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

As this day unfolds – I am faced with my sins and transgressions – aren’t you?  The Psalmist writes: For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.  If we are in Christ – our sins way heavy on us – because as Paul writes – I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  Romans 7:15

Someone once told me that God will forgive our sins – our transgressions.  They said that the hardest part is often forgiving ourselves – because we know that our sin is against God and we are ashamed.  Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.

As we pray and fast – as we seek God’s face and desire His grace – we need to remember that God is in the forgiveness business.  He desires to shower us with grace if we simply confess – repent – and seek His face!

Daniel 9:3 – So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. Have you been spending more time praying?  Have you set aside time every day to be before the Lord?

Personal Report:  I’ve made it through 14 days without a Diet Pepsi.  Have you ever noticed that when you say you can’t do something or have something – you want it all the more?  Day 15 is before us – only 7 more days – counting today!

I will continue to pray for you as you walk through these days of our prayer/fast.  I pray God begins to speak to you and that you will share it with others.

If you wish to join me reading the same plans on www.youversion.com they are a yearlong reading plan called Robert Roberts – day 24 today – the Gospels in 30 days  – day 16 today – and the 21-Day Fast – day 15 today.  Join me or try other reading plans.

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

Today’s Awakening devotion can be found here!

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January 24, 2012 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Fast, From the Pastor | , , , | 2 Comments

All Thumbs

2 Corinthians 3:5

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.

I am the original all thumbs guy.  Not thumbs up (I couldn’t find a picture with a hand with all thumbs).  I am not mechanically inclined – whatsoever – so I am all thumbs.  My brother got all the genes that go along with mechanical know how.  My brother can do just about anything!  My daughters married guys who can do just about anything.  They watched their dad their whole lives and knew they wanted someone who could do things around the house!

In order to get some things done around my house I either have to pay someone – ask a favor of someone – or try to do it myself (after which I usually pay more to get someone to come out and fix it).  I felt a great deal of accomplishment when I recently put up a ceiling fan (just to let you know how much a thumbs guy I really am).  Needless to say I had the wiring backwards – the lights came on with the room lights rather than with the fan so I had to spend more time to change the wiring.  But eventually I got it right and felt really good!

Some of us may be very competent in ways that others are not.  Most of us – as I suggested Sunday in the message – probably struggle as Paul did with the things we know to do but fail to do spiritually.  Paul wrote it this way:  Romans 7:15 – I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  I look around and think I see people who are spiritually competent around me – only to read that the Apostle Paul felt like the worst of sinners.  Remember – this doesn’t excuse our sin – but rather helps to keep our eyes on the one who is competent – Jesus Christ.

I’m thankful for the family and friends I have to help me accomplish things around the house and the where-with-all to pay others when needed.  But what I am most thankful for is that my lack of competency in my spiritual life has God’s grace to cover me.  Today’s passage says: Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 2 Corinthians 3:5

For a person that is all thumbs spiritually at times – I am so thankful that it isn’t about how competent I am but rather how competent God is – through His grace offered freely to me.

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

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December 19, 2011 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey | , , | 1 Comment

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