Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

How Many Times Do We Forgive Others?

Matthew 18:21-22

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Ray 2019How many times have we forgiven someone for the same thing? Do we have a limit to our forgiveness? Does this saying work for us – fool me once – shame on you – fool me twice – shame on me? How many times will we forgive someone? We mentioned Sunday – praying for our enemies – can we do that?

Peter asked Jesus – how many times should we forgive someone? Seven was a number – often used in the Bible to represent completeness – and Peter would have been OK – I think – if Jesus had said seven times. I imagine Peter had come close to that number on several occasions with people he dealt with on a daily basis. Have we come close to forgiving someone seven times? Would that be considered a lot of times? Would you be satisfied with forgiving someone 7 times?

Jesus’ answer might have blown Peter away. In the NIV – the translation of the answer from Jesus is seventy-seven (77) times. In the KJV – it is interpreted to read – Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. (490 times) Continue reading

December 10, 2019 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Being Youthful and Mature!

1 Timothy 4:12

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

Life ChangeHolidays are times when many of us will spend more than usual time with family. Can we remember when we were young? I had a dream one night not too long ago about when my wife and I first met – back when we were dating. That following Sunday – we sang a song that we sang in the Soul Searchers at Eastport UMC – back in the day. I’m pretty nostalgic so the memory brought nice feelings – even some tears in my sleep.

Can we remember when we were young? As we age – memories from our younger days can bring back good or not so good memories. If we had a good childhood or young adult years – our memories might be good. I remember being in great shape when I was younger. I officiated sports year round and all of that activity kept me in good if not great shape. If I could return to the 1970’s – that would be one thing I would tell myself – to keep officiating sports or at least to remain active. That activity burned lots of calories. I even had a chance to be a profession baseball umpire.

Can we remember when we were young? Can we remember when we started working? I was 13 I believe when I had my first real job. I was a Soda Jerk at a local pharmacy. I was able to purchase my first stereo with my earnings at Hecht Company when it was on West Street in Annapolis. It felt really nice to have something I earned myself. Continue reading

November 26, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Should Let Our Light Shine

Philippians 2:15-16

15 Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life.

Life ChangeHave you ever looked out into the night sky and watched the stars? If you live in an urban area – this might be a little hard – but if you live in a rural area like I do – it is a sight to behold. The stars shine brightly in the clear night sky. When I was a teenager – I used to love sitting on the roof top of our family home – just outside my upstairs bedroom window – watching the sky (my room had a window that opened onto the roof and I slipped out there some nights – my parents didn’t know – I think – unless my brother ratted on me – we shared a room).

Let’s look at today’s passage in partial context. Philippians 2:12–18 – 12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. 14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”  Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me. Continue reading

November 12, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Easter Is Everyday!

Romans 8:1

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

Life ChangeEaster has come and gone for another year. Churches were packed Sunday from sunrise services through regular and extra worship services. Some of my colleagues had to hold Easter services off-sight for a variety of reasons. Some wanted to reach the unchurched and thought off-site might be the best way to do this.  Some would have had to hold so many services in their current facilities that it made sense to go off-site to a larger facility. Some for both reasons and maybe some others as well. I imagine that some saw larger crowds than they will see all year until Easter next year – April 12th.

If their attendance was anything like I have experienced over the years – although there were some visitors – like family visiting for the long holiday weekend – folks looking for a church or simply the C&E folks (Christmas and Easter) – mostly the higher attendance is a product of the regular folks all attending on the same Sunday. Sadly – studies show that regular for some means once or twice a month – something less than most every Sunday. When attendance on a regular Sunday is say 75 and on Easter it blossoms to 125 with only 10 visitors – that suggests that if your regulars were more regular – your normal attendance might be closer to 115 than 75. Continue reading

April 23, 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, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Keep Me from Stumbling

Jude 1:24

To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—

Ray 2018We’ve all had moments when we’ve stumbled and fallen. I’m thinking about it more these days – as I age. A friend from our church fell Sunday morning and he was examined for cracked ribs (he had one and we pray for his healing).

Falling down steps seems to be a big issue as we age. I have a long flight of steps from my home office (upstairs) to the main part of the house. I often think about how fast I take them (coming down). With my knees ailing – I try to not take them too fast while carrying things. At times that can’t be avoided. I have been known to take them one step at a time when I am carrying things though. I pray – Lord – keep me from stumbling.

A brother in Christ – who spoke at our church recently – fell down some stairs at his church and messed up both of his knees. We’re still praying for his healing – his surgery is scheduled for today. It made me even more aware of stumbling and falling. Continue reading

September 11, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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