Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Following Jesus Is Easy And Hard!

Matthew 16:24

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

Following Jesus is easy and hard at the same time.

It is easy – because God has done all the work to provide salvation for all who would receive it. Ephesians 2:8-9 – 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

It is hard – because we must continually fight our human – sinful – nature. Psalms 51:5 – Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. The sin nature is something that Christ came to control if not destroy in us. 2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! I have often said the old has gone – as Christ comes into our lives – but it hasn’t gone far. Continue reading

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February 6, 2018 Posted by | Bring, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, Fast, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Rebuke My Sinful Nature

Romans 7:18

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

Have you ever felt one way and yet ended up going another way? Silly question I guess – since we are all human and most know the right thing to do but have succumbed to the wrong way. We often know the right way – and yet yield to the wrong way. We fight temptations and evil – but at times we fail in our struggle. I know I have more times than I wish to remember.

Where is it that we struggle the most? For some it is with what we put into our bodies. That could mean drugs and it could mean overeating – both are harmful to us – and we know it – yet some of us continue to abuse our bodies with what we put into them. We try diets – we try to be sober – we try to walk the steps – but – at times – we succumb to what is harmful for us. Again – I have a mirror up as I type this devotional seeing myself! Continue reading

January 23, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God Sees All Things

Psalm 139:2

You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.

I remember playing hide-and-seek as a child. It was fun – hiding from your friends and hoping they couldn’t find you. When we played at my home growing up (the parsonage at Mt. Zion) – we had a cemetery next door and it was always fun to hide there because my cousins and friends wouldn’t come looking in the cemetery. If they did brave the walk through the cemetery – it was easy to get them to run out by making noises like a ghost. I usually won the game because they wouldn’t stay in the cemetery long enough to find me!

I remember playing capture the flag as a youth at Seat Pleasant UMC (now Gethsemane UMC). We would hide in the dark and try to get behind enemy lines. We would crawl along the outskirts of the field and even into the woods – to stay hidden. We would spring up and run for our side of the field with their flag. Continue reading

July 14, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Does It Cost Us to Follow Jesus?

Philippians 3:14

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

112015 Ray McDonaldThe Ravens won Sunday. Well – they won the game – even as they lost their franchise quarterback and their starting running back to injury. It has been a rough season to say the least. A team that has had much success in the past and that some picked to do great things this year as well – is mired in a losing season that has left a sour taste in the mouth of many. Some of us – even long time fans – have given up on the season and are waiting for spring training to begin.

The team set out to win the Super Bowl as their target for the year. They practiced and sacrificed to accomplish their goal – their target – their prize. For a variety of reasons – that won’t be happening this year – yet that was still their goal and they sacrificed greatly to achieve that goal – that prize. Continue reading

November 24, 2015 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Denying Self

Romans 7:18

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

20140530-104833-38913743.jpgI’m into day 20 without a soda. I was hooked on Diet Pepsi – I enjoyed the carbonation and the Pepsi taste. My wife has been on me for years to stop drinking sodas – of all brands – because of the artificial ingredients in them. I’ve fasted from them before for 40 days – but when the fast was over I returned to drinking them.

Today I am planning on not returning to soda. My drink of choice these days is a tall glass of water on the rocks with a shot or two of MIO – a liquid water enhancer. I’m sure there are some artificial ingredients in it – but my health coach said it was OK.

I’ve also tried to remain under 2,000 calories for each day and have made it 18 out of the last 19 days – with day 20 just starting. So do you think much about what you put inside of you? Do you diet or watch what you eat? Do you keep an eye on what you drink? Are you particular about what you drink? Continue reading

August 5, 2014 Posted by | Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Fast, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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