Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Smile – What Brings a Smile to Your Face?

Exodus 34:29
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.

What brings a smile to your face? Of course the first answer I would give these days is spending time with my grandchildren (and children). We now have five grandchildren. Another answer might be a long winning streak by the Baltimore Orioles or Washington Nationals (even a win would be great at times). The opening day win in the 11th inning by the Birds Monday brought a smile to my face. Still another might be time spent with my wife. I could get very pastoral here and say a smile comes across my face when a person receives Jesus Christ – when the light comes on for them in their personal relationship with Jesus. Other things bring a smile to my face as well (like when my friend makes a good shot in golf and gets excited about it). When we see someone with a smile on their face we usually think something just happened and we tend to be curious.

How about when people notice you have lost weight? Better yet – when they say something encouraging to you (if losing weight was what you were after). I remember when one of my daughters greeted me with a hug and she said – getting skinny dad – as she wrapped her arms around me? What about someone saying something about your new hairdo or your new dress (or suit)? How about the smell of your favorite food – or freshly baked bread – or bacon frying (that one always brings a smile to my face)? Continue reading

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April 5, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jesus Was Tempted But Was Without Sin

Hebrews 2:18

Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

I love to discuss theology. I love to talk about doctrine and beliefs. Good thing – since that is my calling and career. I bet there aren’t too many who love these things.

One of the theological discussions I enjoy surrounds the thought of Jesus’ temptations. It is clear through Scripture that Jesus was temped. Today’s passage says – Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

That Jesus was tempted is not really in question. What seems to be in question is whether Jesus could or could not sin when tempted. Is a temptation a temptation if there is no possible way you could yield to the temptation and sin? That is a significant question.

Whether Jesus could sin or not is cloaked in His nature. Jesus’ nature as the second Adam – was different than our nature for sure. 1 Corinthians 15:45–49 – 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man. Continue reading

March 15, 2017 Posted by | Build, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Setting Our Minds on Eternal Things

Colossians 3:2

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

IMG_0301With the unrest in Baltimore this week – we are reminded that things are not always as we plan them to be.  Things don’t go the way we dream them to go – often sudden changes in our environment brings about radical changes in our day-to-day living.  This week I wrote about us being bought and paid for by Christ on the Cross of Calvary.  In that post we talked about being a living sacrifice for Jesus – living for Him with our lives. We should learn much about our quarreling and getting involved in foolish and stupid conversations – whether arguments over theology or worldly things.

Today we will take a look at setting our minds on the things of God rather than the things of the world.  One morning this past week I woke and was stressing over several earthly things – like we might all do from time to time.  I was stressing over our bills – over our income – over my work – over my wife’s work – over family things – over personal things – over the unrest in Baltimore and around the nation – and the list could continue.  I awoke early and couldn’t go back to sleep because of the troubles of the world – earthly things – that had my mind all wrapped up and captured.

I did my morning devotions and kept digging into the Word throughout the day and this passage came to mind.  Colossians 3:2 – Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Continue reading

April 30, 2015 Posted by | Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Doctrine: Introduction

2 Timothy 4:3

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

IMG_0301Paul was writing to a young pastor – Timothy – giving him some instruction and encouragement. It is an encouragement to discuss and debate what we believe with others and to hone our understanding of God and God’s Word. It is not about what we think or feel – it is about what God’s Word says – IMHO – and so our doctrines should be grounded and founded in God’s Holy Word.

Maybe not on consecutive days – but over time – I will use this space to discuss doctrine and take questions too. I know that the readership of this blog is wide-spread over the spectrum of Christianity and even outside of Christianity. Readers are both pastor and laity – female and male – from the Western Hemisphere and scattered throughout the rest of the world – protestant and catholic – Wesleyan – Calvinist and/or Arminian. We will not all agree on doctrine for sure. Some may agree on some doctrines and disagree on other doctrines. A simple definition for doctrine is a belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a church, political party, or other group. Continue reading

March 19, 2015 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seeking the Lost: Do we have a heart to reach the lost?

Luke 15:1-7

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

1Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. 2But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3Then Jesus told them this parable: 4“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

I love this story – Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?

Jesus – sitting with the sinners of His day according to society – was trying to teach the religious leaders of His day the heart of God.  They didn’t get it and at times I don’t think we do either. A quick look at how we spend our resources in the church will reveal that we spend way more on the 99 in the flock (church) than the 1 lost in the world.

When we come to worship week after week – are we more concerned with what we want or how we can be used to help someone come to Christ?  Have we gone out of our way – even attending the other service if need be – to reach a neighbor, a friend, a family member and invite them – even bring them to worship with us?

When is the last time we went out looking for the lost?  When is the last time our small group invited someone to join us?  When is the last time in youth group we stepped out of our clique and helped make a new person feel welcome?  When is the last time we worried more about making someone feel welcome at our worship service or any activity?  When is the last time we went out looking for someone to invite?

Easter is fast approaching – April 4 – and it is a perfect opportunity to begin to invite the lost – who do you know that doesn’t know Jesus?  Who could you invite and tell them you will meet them here and sit with them so they know someone?  Or even offer to pick them up?

God rejoices in the new converts – the lost being found. And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.

How about this Easter we all invite 5 people to worship with us?  And then make that our practice each week – seeking those who do not know Jesus and going out of our way to help them see Jesus.

If I offered the person who brought the most people to worship on Easter $100, would it be worth the effort?  Or is the possibility that a family member, friend, or neighbor, comes to know Jesus worth it?  Two Sundays ago I counted seven people who raised their hand – saying that they received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior in one of our worship services.  That could have been someone you love – if you would simply invite them and not give up.

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

March 12, 2010 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Faith Journey, Leadership | , , , | 6 Comments

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