Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Are There Any Absolutes These Days?

Psalm 11:3

…while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,

Life ChangeOne of my favorite all-time shows is the Andy Griffith show. I grew up watching Andy, Opie, Barney and Aunt Bea. Times were good and even the unchurched were fairly moral people and they had good values in Mayberry. The setting for this show was the late 50’s and early 60’s – just a few states south of us. I’m not suggesting we could ever return to these times – nor should we strive to for sure – but it was a time when absolutes were accepted – even among the unchurched.

I wish that the troubles Opie had would be the troubles our youth would get into today. Unfortunately – our youth – and our society as a whole – are far beyond the sins of Mayberry (and Mayberry wasn’t perfect for sure). Our communities used to resemble Mayberry’s morals and values. I can remember growing up near here. As a matter of fact – I can remember watching Mayberry as a child – and thinking my world was like this show. How did we get to the place we are today? How have we become so corrupt and sinful as a society (watch the news to see my point)? It seems that there are some in our society today that are trying to call sin – acceptable. They are trying to change established truths. I know – much about us needs to change – and over time – much has changed – but I ask – are there no absolutes? Continue reading

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

Get a New Heart

Ezekiel 18:31a

Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit.

Life ChangeOnce – when I was preaching a sermon series on forgiveness – during the first sermon in the series – someone ask – during the sermon – if I could preach of forgiving ourselves. I hope that I touched on that in that series. I think I will repeat that series sometime soon. Today’s passage from Ezekiel spoke to my heart about forgiveness. I want to share it today for our devotional thought.

We have said a number of times – in sermons and in teachings – that the heart is very important as we walk out our faith in Christ.  Christianity boils down to attitude is now a common phrase many of us know. The position and condition of our heart is very important – so I like the simplicity of today’s passage – Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Continue reading

April 1, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Temptation – We Must Resist

1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Life ChangeWhat is it that temps us? Not too long ago I wrote about How to Turn From Addictions. Today we want to write about temptations. Maybe our temptations haven’t gotten to the point where they are addictions – but – they still might be an area of concern for us.

What is it that temps us? Temptations can lead to sin – which can lead to a separation between God and us. Matthew 26:41 – Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. We strive to follow God’s commands – but the flesh is weak. We get tempted – and we yield to our weaknesses.

What is it that temps us? Temptations come from Satan – they do not come from God. Temptations can also drag us away from God. James 1:13–14 – 13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Continue reading

March 28, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Can I Pay Your Mortgage?

Romans 3:24

…and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Life ChangeAs a pastor – I’ve often tried to come up with ways to get people to come to worship or to fellowship with believers. Early in my ministry I tried to get church leaders to place a sign outside the church that read – Men’s Tuesday Night – BYOB. Of course they wouldn’t do it. Some thought the BYOB meant bring your own bottle but I meant it to mean bring your own Bible to our Tuesday night men’s Bible study. I was hoping some might come for the wrong meaning and find good fellowship if they came. I thought it was worth a try! No one took me up on the suggestion. What do you think?

As a pastor – I’ve often tried to come up with ways to get people to come to worship or to fellowship with believers. Another example from my early years in ministry was the time I encouraged everyone who could drive to drive to church one Sunday morning (no carpooling). My hope was for people to see the parking lot full and wonder – what’s going on at that church – maybe we ought to visit and find out. That only went over so-so. But it wasn’t long before the parking lot was actually full – for real! Again – I’d try just about anything to get people to Jesus. Continue reading

March 20, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sound Doctrine Doesn’t Change with the Culture

Hebrews 13:9

Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings (doctrines).   It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them.

Life ChangeA number of people have debated Biblical truth over the years. Sound doctrine – even settled doctrine for 2000 plus years – is being debated by some well-intentioned individuals. People are trying to equate God’s love with some sense of an overwhelming acceptance of sin or even describing sinful acts as acceptable to God. The signs of the end are all around us dear readers. I read in today’s passage that sound doctrine is put up against ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them. We must feast on sound doctrine – rather than on what sounds good with today’s culture.

The example I want to use to help us get the point today is the obesity of our society. Far too often our children – and adults – are fed foods that are empty of value but full of calories. Junk foods –satisfy the mind and stomach – but do not add proper nutrition. These foods are filled with sugar – calories – and chemicals – that are not good for the body. The term junk food refers to items that may taste good – but have little – if any nutritional value. They are high in calories and often loaded with fat. Soft drinks – chips – cookies – candy bars – and much of the food from fast-food stops fit this category.

Our society has a hard time with our weight – because we fill ourselves with way too much feel good junk food. I believe we have the same problem with our theology. Way too often we turn our itching ears to false truths because they sound good. We’re warned about this position by God as Paul write in his second letter to Timothy. Continue reading

March 11, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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