Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

2021 – Let’s Set a Budget!

Hebrews 13:5

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

2021 is here! The pandemic is probably with us till late Spring or maybe even into the Summer. A lot of us are working partly or completely from home. You might be asking yourself – what can I do with all of my time at home? I have a suggestion that will help us in 2021 and for the rest of our lives!

I get a lot of questions about finances. I’ve decided – if it helps anyone – to write something – every once-in-a-while – in this blog – about finances. I might even get into helping people with their finances in my retirement. Finance is a subject that every person – couple – and family – needs to know as much about as possible. I wish they offered High School students more classes on finances and jobs and saving. As a pastor – I have found that finances are often at the root of many broken or troubled marriages or families.

I have training (I studied to be an accountant) and experience (45 years in ministry and nearly 41 years of married life) in this area. The subjects will all relate to our finances.

Today – I want to talk about setting a budget. Setting a budget is fundamental when planning for financial health. One of my favorite sayings is – aim at nothing and you’re bound to hit it. As a young person – single and on my own – for the first time in my life – as a young adult in college at the tender age of 20 (1st two years of college I lived at home) I set my first budget. I was financially wise before that time – never spending more than I made (and I have worked since I was 13) – but at 20 – living on my own – I knew I had to have a real plan. For five years I had a budget. It included EVERYTHING I could imagine. I even budgeted for future things like tires and such.

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January 5, 2021 Posted by | Build, Community, Daily Devotion, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Post From Before Coronavirus

John 3:16-17

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

This post was originally posted on January 28, 2020. It was pre-coronavirus. It was before the pandemic changed all of our lives. I thought it was an interesting look at life before the pandemic.

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It is no secret – I like golf. The weather has been nice in January and I have gotten out already in 2020. Golf doesn’t always like me. I enjoy playing golf and the friends I play with as well. Some say – golf is a good walk in the outdoors – spoiled. Not me – I love the nature in golf – but I also like the game itself. Two friends and I walked 18 holes a week or so ago. We were dragging coming up 18 (an uphill walk) – but we had fun. Continue reading

July 7, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Giving Our Faith Rain

Isaiah 40:6

A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?” “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field.”

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amIt seems like – it doesn’t matter what I do – if I don’t get enough rain – I will lose my front yard. Last summer I lost my front yard.  A combination of lack of water – excess sunshine and a weak root system does it every time. I treated the ground – aerated – seeded with good seed – fertilized with starter fertilizer and winter fertilizer later in the season and most springs I fertilized it again. It often comes up strong and full – but I fully realize that if I can’t figure out a way to water it through the summer heat – it will be gone again. I got an estimate for a sprinkler system – and that is more than I want to pay. I could install a system myself or figure out a way to use my hose and sprinkler more often. I must figure out how to sprinkle through the summer without burning the ground with the hose full of water in the middle of the day.

Even with all of that work each fall – at the start of March – maybe the end of February – my yard looks like most yards – dormant (to a degree). With the wet spring we had this year – my yard greened up and looked great. I hoped it would have time to deepen the roots before the heat arrived. Who would have guessed we would be so dry from July through early October. I cut my grass at the highest setting my lawn tractor with a mulching kit will allow. I cut it twice a week during the peak growing season so I don’t leave behind piles or clumps of dead grass. I would love to have a green lawn throughout the year! I guess everyone would. Continue reading

October 11, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Grass Grows and Withers

Isaiah 40:6

A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?” “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field.”

Life ChangeA number of summers ago I lost my front yard. A combination of lack of water – excess sunshine – and a weak root system did it in. I treated the ground – aerated – seeded with good seed – fertilized with starter fertilizer and winter fertilizer later in the season and that following spring I fertilized it again. It came up strong and full. I fully realize that if I can’t figure out a way to water the yard in the summer – it will not be as full later in the year. That year I got an estimate for a sprinkler system – and that was way out of my price range. I purchased some extra hose and have tried – during the dry periods – to water the front yard. It did OK.

Even with all of that work that fall – just a few weeks into March even – my yard was like most yards – dormant (to a degree). It did remain green through the winter that year – thanks to fertilizers and a mild winter – but it was in a dormant state. With the warmer than normal March that spring – with lots of sunshine and some rain – my yard was ahead of schedule that spring. It had time that spring to deepen the roots and thicken before the summer months. I cut my grass at the highest setting my lawn tractor with a mulching kit would allow. I cut the grass twice a week during the peak-growing season so I don’t leave behind piles or clumps of dead grass. I love a green lawn throughout the year!

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April 16, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Delight in the Lord!

Psalm 37:4

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

RayMcDIn what do we take delight? The baseball season is heading toward the end of the regular season and the playoffs. My Orioles are fighting for the worst record in team history – and maybe the number one draft pick next year. As I type this devotional I am switching between the Orioles and the Ravens. The football season is soon to arrive. Some are excited about it and some are not. There is so much politics involved in the game it seems.

In what do we take delight? I have joined five brothers from church in trying to encourage one another in losing weight. We have lost over 70 pounds together since July 15th. We delight in the camaraderie and encouragement we share. Most all of us are in double digits with our weight loss. We’re trying to get to 5% before Labor Day – 8% by Thanksgiving – and 10% by Christmas. Two brothers have met the 5% by Labor Day already and two others are very close. One brother is nearing his 8% total already. We delight in our weigh-ins and supporting one another. Continue reading

August 21, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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