Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Straining Toward What Is Ahead Of Us

Philippians 3:13

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amOne of the biggest issues most of us face is forgetting the past and straining toward the future – what is ahead of us. Some of us tend to live in the past and the past – most often – will only hold us down and hold us back. Forgiving ourselves is often the problem – as we mentioned in Sunday’s sermon. Long after we have confessed our sin to God and repented (grieved and turned away) of them and God has offered grace and mercy we still tend to hang on to the guilt at times. Anyone with me this morning?

Paul was focused on being holy – being perfect – striving after Jesus with all in his power. In striving for perfection – he couldn’t – he wouldn’t – allow himself to dwell on past sin – having confessed it and repented of it – he was focused on the task ahead.

Satan wants us to dwell on our past sins. Satan wants to steal the joy of forgiveness – mercy – and grace. Satan wants us to live in guilt and without the freedom that comes from forgiveness. Continue reading

October 17, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our Attitude Needs Improvement

Hebrews 3:13

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

fullsizeoutput_ffeIn yesterday’s sermon – we discussed attitudes – a little. I really believe that our attitudes are a major stumbling block for ourselves and for others – as we seek after Jesus. Our walk with Jesus is all about where our heart is dear readers. Christianity boils down to attitude – the condition and position of one’s heart.

Attitude also impacts church growth – the growing of the Body of Christ. How welcoming are we to visitors in the church? How open are we to enabling others to join our groups and ministries? Are we in cliques? Do we have a quick tongue?  Do we tend to gossip? Do we encourage others in their walk with Jesus? Are we humble in our walk with Jesus? Do we have a servant’s heart? Do we see our salvation as a gift that we want to share with as many people as possible? Do we encourage others as they seek after Jesus? We could go on and on – right? Continue reading

November 19, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bow Down In Worship Before God

Psalm 95:6-7

Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if you hear his voice,

As I was reading some of my old blogs – I ran into some on worship that I thought I would rework and present. I used one yesterday titled – Let’s Check Our Attitude About Worship Today. Reading today’s passage – once again – it made me think of all of the worship services I have attended and participated in over the years. I thought of all the worship committee meetings – e-mails – calls – and notes sent me over the years with comments about worship. I started to wonder if we really grasp the concept of worship.

Far too often some folks think worship is about them. We want our favorite songs – or at least music we like – or the pastor to be dressed a certain way – or the service to be a certain length – or the sermon to reach us – feed us – each week. Some will say things like I’m not being fed in worship or I’m not getting anything out of the service. I’m sure there are many other thoughts that run through folks’ minds. What are some that you have thought or heard?

This may be a new thought to some but worship isn’t about us – at least not primarily. Worship is about God – coming before God to give God glory – honor – and praise. Today’s passage says – Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. When was the last time we came to church with the mindset that we were there to worship God? I mean to really bow down before God and give God our total heart – mind – and soul? Continue reading

March 23, 2017 Posted by | Bring, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Being Perfect In Christ

Matthew 5:48

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

IMG_0435-0Be perfect! I have a friend who has bowled several 300 games in ten pins. That would be 12 strikes in a row. That is perfect – for one game.

Be perfect! I was playing in a golf tournament with a late friend and he hit a ball on a par three that took two hops and went right into the hole. That was an ace – a hole-in-one – perfect for one hole.

Be perfect! I know a number of musicians – from when I was in band through the young people at our church – who received perfect scores at various events. They were perfect for that one performance – hitting every note and doing so with style!

Be perfect! People spend a lot of time trying to be perfect in something. Maybe you have spent hours trying to get your hair just right or to put together the perfect outfit combination. Have any of my colleagues spent hours on a sermon – trying to find the perfect illustration. I wonder how many of us have tried to be perfect at something in our lives? Continue reading

June 13, 2016 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wait For The Lord!

Psalm 27:14

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

82015 RayOK – a vacation week is upon me. I think I have planned everything – so that I will not have to think about work – all week. My sermon for October 4th is complete and the media is already in the hands of the media team. My daily devotions have already been written and are on the website ready to post everyday at 9 am. I have called or visited those who have been sick or have had surgery. I have another pastor on call – a former pastor of our church – while I’m gone. I have paid all my bills – I have money in the bank – I have everything scheduled and planned out.  I even have someone living in my home while I’m gone – taking care of the house and our dog!

I believe I have prepared for this coming week. I believe I have taken the time to put everything in order. I have a former pastor taking care of emergencies – I have mature pay people and staff looking out for the day-to-day activities – I have a strong young man prepared to cover the message in my absence. The plans have been made! Let the vacation begin! Continue reading

September 25, 2015 Posted by | Build, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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