Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Advent – A Time to Anticipate

Ephesians 1:7

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.

Life ChangeAs we enter Advent (yesterday) and head toward Christmas – I want to make sure we know how very important Christmas is for us. Today I want to celebrate what Christmas is all about – the coming of Christ – the One who sacrificed His life for us. Not so much that He came – so very important – but why He came. He didn’t come to be a baby in a manger – although the secular world would like us to focus on buying and selling at Christmas – or at the very least – the little helpless baby in a manger – Jesus came to be the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.  He came to die for our sins – to pay the debt of our sin – for our redemption. It was God’s plan from before creation.

We all need Jesus. We all need forgiveness from our sins. We have all sinned and all stand in need of redemption – Romans 3:23-24 – 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Continue reading

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December 3, 2018 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thanksgiving Day Is Coming!

Romans 8:32

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

fullsizeoutput_ffeThanksgiving comes once a year – as does Christmas – and Easter. Yet we don’t have to limit our thankfulness to one day – do we? If your family is like mine – when we gather to give thanks over the bounty on Thanksgiving – we pause to give thanks for something specific – everyone at the table. It is a touching time – and watching our family age before our eyes – year after year – brings a nostalgic note too. Listening to what the girls have shared over the years and now what the grandchildren will share has been and is a blessing. We are always thankful for the way God touches our lives.

I’m the crier in the family. An example of my inability to hold back my tears can be seen in most any family gathering. I remember at a special birthday for my wife – as others were sharing – I tried to share my heart and the tears flowed. Tears will flow for most any reason from my eyes. With the holidays coming I will shed tears when I watch It’s a Wonderful Life for the 200th time – and even while watching Charlie Brown Christmas – tears will flow.

Thanksgiving is a family time for our family and we will gather once again – the Lord willing. Holidays are especially hard for me now that mom and dad have gone to be with Jesus. Dad loved Christmas so much – that holiday is especially difficult for me these days. Continue reading

November 14, 2018 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, Fast, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a 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

We Are Called To Reach The Lost

Luke 15:10

In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

My father concluded his active ministry as an evangelist. He preached in revivals all over the east coast and some in some other states like Ohio – West Virginia – Minnesota – and Indiana. He loved sharing the Gospel with folks. He loved when folks would open their hearts to Jesus and receive Him as their Lord and Savior. I love being a pastor of a local congregation – but the times I have preached revivals for other churches has given me a glimpse of what dad shared in those twilight years of his active ministry. I too love it when the lost come to know Jesus and receive his free gift of salvation.

Revivals seem to be a thing of the past. It seems that many pastors today don’t believe in hell or Satan and his demons. It stands to reason that the belief in hell and Satan would fade for those who don’t believe they are real. For eight years I served on our conference Board of Ordained Ministry (BOOM) and have served many terms on the District Committee of Ordained Ministry (DCOM) as well. I often ran into pastoral candidates who were Universalists – persons who simply believed that all persons went to heaven. There were times – during examinations – candidates (many who eventually were ordained) couldn’t clearly define salvation because they couldn’t explain what the alternative would be. Continue reading

April 10, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

He Bore Our Sins! We Owe Him Our Everything!

Isaiah 53:12

For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

So the day after Easter – a time when most pastors take time off to sleep late and spend some down time – found me on the road early to the Annapolis Mall to sit outside the Apple Store to see if I could get my work laptop fixed. After waiting an hour for the store to open and 45 minutes after that to see a tech and about 15 minutes of running tests – I was told that I needed a new top case assembly (keyboard circuit and cover). They could fix it in the store but it would take 3-5 days. So – at work – I will be using my iPad and work more from home on my iMac – till I get it back. I’ll need to find some down time later.

Today’s passage is a prophecy concerning Jesus. It ends with a reminder that He bore our sins on the cross of Calvary. He made intercession before the Father on our behalf. He took upon Himself all of our sins – and according to scripture the sins of the world – for those who would receive His grace – paying the blood price we could not ever consider paying. Remember – there would be no Easter without Good Friday – no victory over the grave had Jesus not died on the cross first. He bore our sins – we owe Him our everything! Continue reading

April 3, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Sermons, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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