Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

It Seems Hard To Love One Another

John 14:15

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

Life ChangeIt seems hard to love one another. For example – I tried to cheer on the Washington Nationals as they were in the playoffs and eventually won Major League Baseball’s World Championship. Yet – pushback came from National’s fans calling me a pretend fan who was jumping on the bandwagon late. I also took pushback from others – calling me out for rooting for the Nationals – since I’m a diehard Orioles fan – as if I couldn’t root for another local team – simply because my team wasn’t in the playoffs. I could better understand if the Orioles and Nationals were in the same league or division and competing for the same league championship. But the Nationals are my National League team – since I was a young child – I’ve rooted for the local Washington team – back in the day it was the Senators (my dad was a big fan). When I was 12 – I began to root for the Orioles and have stayed with them ever since.

It seems hard to love one another. For example – because I have Facebook friends from all walks of life – we don’t all agree on many subjects. Be it sports (Ravens and Steeler fans – Oriole and Yankee fans) – or politics (Republican and Democrat – Trump and Hillary or now Trump or anyone but Trump) – or theologically (left and right – liberal and conservative – Christian and atheists or others) – my friends are all over the place. We hardly agree on much of anything. As a matter of fact – some have unfriended me because of my beliefs (my theology or ideology). Continue reading

November 8, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Turn To Jesus Daily

Ephesians 3:20

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amDear readers – have you ever been down? Being down doesn’t mean you are depressed – but it does mean that some things are not going your way. It can lead to depression if not headed off for sure.

If you’re a sports fan – maybe you get down when your favorite team loses (like a Redskin fan this year or the Raven fans the last two weeks). If you work outside the home – maybe you get down when you have a hard day with work or those you work with or serve. If you work from home – maybe the children have had a bad day and that gets you down or some other issue has arisen.

Have you ever been down? As a pastor I try to help people when they are down. I have worked with addicts who are battling for sobriety – and at times that can get us down. I have worked with folks in broken relationships – and we all know that can get us down. I have worked with fellow pastors who have had trouble in their places of service – and I know what that feels like and believe me – it can get you down. I know that I have had times of near depression or maybe even depression – while working on my own issues or helping others work on their issues. Continue reading

September 30, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Make Sure You Fit Into The Right Crowd

John 15:19

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

June 2019Have you ever fit into the in crowd? Maybe it was the way you wore your hair? Big hair was in for women at one time. I grew up during a time when men – to keep their hair slicked back – used Vitalis. It was the Elvis look I guess – or a hood look! The natural look – the Beatles’ style – became popular among some years later! Hippies wore really long hair. When i was younger I wore the crew cut look.

Have you ever fit into the in crowd? Maybe it was the clothes you wore? I remember when the style of clothes you wore got you labeled. I was known as a block in junior high school. Block’s wore kaki pants with banlon shirts. We wore Peter’s jackets with our name on it and Chuck Taylor basketball shoes. We weren’t hoods – who wore leather jackets. As the years mounted there were hippies and preppies and others who dressed certain ways to be in the in crowd (the crowd they wanted to be).

Have you ever fit into the in crowd? I remember when I finally got into the “A” club at Annapolis High School and got to wear my “A” jacket (I became an official jock at that time). I was never very good at any particular sport – still aren’t – but I could play most sports well enough to make a few teams and to play and enjoy sports later in life. I have some lifetime friends because of sports and later because I coached and officiated sports. Continue reading

July 2, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Small Fellowship Groups

Ecclesiastes 4:12

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Life ChangeA men’s ministry I was blessed to work with in years gone by used a very similar passage as their base Scripture – Proverbs 27:17 – As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. They believed that part of the benefit of being in fellowship together was the way they could enhance each other’s walk with Christ. They called themselves Iron to Iron. They met monthly for a meeting. Many of them were in the same weekly Bible Study and Sunday School class. We had 25-30 men in a weekly Bible Study and over 80 adults in one class for Sunday School. It was a time of great spiritual growth. A number of the men took road trips together to Promise Keeper events. One such event was Stand in the Gap in Washington – DC – on October 4, 1997. I was there and reports are – so were nearly 3 million men. It was a life experience I will never forget.

I mentioned recently – to our current Bible Studies – that part of the reason we spend the first portion of our studies talking about praises and prayer concerns is to get to know one another better. Small group ministries are very important. I would imagine that upwards of 50% of a typical congregation only attend worship each week with the church family. If folks only spend an hour plus with one another a week – with the pastor – with the family of God – at their local place of worship – they will not know each other well. Spending time in a small group where one could ask questions – where others can interject their thoughts – always opens up dialogue. Continue reading

May 10, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

So – What Do You Treasure?

Luke 12:34

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Life ChangeAdvent is here and Christmas is coming – just in case you haven’t been to any of the retail stores of late. I went today (Wednesday) to drop off a computer to have a new hard drive put in – rather than buy a new one. I know the speed of the new hard drive will make me think I have a new computer (it worked on my laptop). I wasn’t at the Mall – yet where I went – I found a crowd. I know the Mall is crowded too – and I will stay away as much as I can. I purchase most of my stuff online these days (who would have thought this nearly 64 year old would take to the Internet so well?).

Some stores had Christmas stuff up during the summer months (really – I saw it) – some had Christmas stuff up before Thanksgiving – all have Christmas stuff now! We are singing Advent songs and even some Christmas songs in worship this Sunday (I know – liturgically they are not supposed to be sung yet – but – I love them so – as do our folks).

So what is on your list for Christmas? Would you like the latest new iPhone or the all new iPad Pro? Is there some piece of clothing you’re hoping for this year? How about the latest video game? We use to get loads of clothes for Christmas – at times we got them early so we could wear them before Christmas – like a winter coat if it got cold early. I remember marking things in the Sears Christmas catalog for my parents when it came out. I guess I’m dating myself with that remark. Continue reading

December 6, 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

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