Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Day 31 of Lent 2020

Matthew 6:16

When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.

Ray 2020Today is day 31 of the 40 Days of our Lenten reading plan. Remember – Sundays are not counted in the 40 days. I hope you have stayed current with us. I veered off of the online plan and am finishing the plan myself. Today’s passage is about fasting.

Lent is typically a time to give something up – to stop a bad habit – to deny yourself – to dig deeper into your walk with Jesus. Fasting is one way to do this. Fasting is denying yourself of something. You can fast from food or a certain type of food. You can fast from technology (a youth pastor I worked with did this one Lent) – or you can fast from social media (right now that might be tough with the pandemic restrictions).

Not only are we to deny ourselves of something – we are to replace that item with more of Jesus. For instance – if we are fasting from something – when we feel tempted to eat it or do it – we should spend time praying or digging into God’s Word. Continue reading

April 1, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Fast, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 30 of Lent 2020

Joel 2:12

“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”

Ray 2020Today is day 30 of the 40 Days of Lent reading plan (Sundays are not counted in the 40 days). We’re coming to the end of the reading plan as we head toward the cross. My prayer is that we will be drawn into a deeper relationship with Jesus during this Lenten season. This Lent – more than any other – will mark us. We will remember our spiritual and physical journey during this Lent. We will look back at this time of pandemic – of isolation – and we pray we will remember that it was God that carried us through.

I found this passage recently – and it was in line with today’s passage. Jeremiah 29:13 – You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Today’s passage is along the same line – as I wrote. We are called to return to God with all our heart.

Where is our heart today? Is our heart centered on God? Is it becoming more and more focused – during this isolation. Continue reading

March 31, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 25 of Lent 2020

Luke 22:24

Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest.

Ray 2020Today is day 25 of the 40 Days of Lent reading plan. I hope everyone is keeping up with the reading plan. Lent is the 40 days leading up to the cross of Calvary. Walking this walk with each of you has been amazing. I’m sorry today’s devotional is a little late. My computer was updating and it took longer than I expected.

Today’s reading is on target – even for today. The disciples didn’t have their hearts in the right place – at all times. Do we? They wanted to know which of them was considered to be greatest. At times we get into disputes in the church – power struggles one might call them. We shouldn’t – we should all have our hearts set on serving the Lord. Yet at times we battle over who is in charge (Jesus is – right?).

(Side note: I heard that Prince Charles has the coronavirus. I’m praying for him and for the Queen. My wife and I have been watching “The Crown” and have gotten to appreciate the Queen. I pray for all who have the coronavirus and for the rest of us too.) Continue reading

March 25, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

As School Begins Yet Again

1 Corinthians 15:33

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

June 2019With school starting last month (college and private schools) and this week (Maryland public schools) – I am reminded of this post from not too long ago. Our children (mostly) are facing the world without us. All of our lessons – we hope – have been instilled in them as they venture out into the world around them. My wife would send our girls off with this ringing in their ears each morning as they headed to school. Make good choices – listen to the Holy Spirit – and be aware of your surroundings. As the years mounted and technology increased – she added – and remember everything goes on YouTube.

Our children are developing their character as they grow. The decisions they make each day puts another building block on their character. Hopefully we have helped to shape their character over the years but our influence is less and less as they get out into the world.

How would you define character? I believe that the best definition I ever heard for character is this – character is what you do when no one is looking. The things we do when we think no one is looking or when we think no one will find out – define our character. Let me give an example.

What is on your computer you wouldn’t want anyone else to see? Ouch – was that someone’s toe I stepped on right there? I’m not talking about your bank account or things like that – but rather your browser history – or your bookmarked sites – or your e-mails – or your Facebook account or other social media account. Who have you been in contact with you shouldn’t have been in contact with lately? If someone had access to your computer – would they see things you wouldn’t want them to see? Think about it? How about your cell phone – your pad or other type of device?

If character is what we would do if no one were watching – is there anything on your personal or work computers or devices you wouldn’t want anyone to know about? If marrieddoes your spouse have your password for your e-mail? For your Facebook account? To even get onto your computer/pad or cell phone? If not – why not? Are you trying to hide something from them? Continue reading

September 4, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Annual Christmas Music Post

Psalm 100:1–2 (KJV)

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: Come before his presence with singing.

RayMcDThis is my annual post about Christmas music. Are you enjoying some Christmas music this time of the year? Maybe some Christian Christmas songs as compared to some secular Christmas songs? I’m listening to Pandora Radio as I type – a channel called Pentatonix (Holiday). I also listen to Frank Sinatra (Holiday). On my XM radio in the car I listen to Channel 18 (Holiday Traditions) and Channel 58 (Country Christmas). On the regular radio I listen to FM 97.1 because they are playing Christmas music 24 x 7. They all play a mixture of secular and Christian Christmas songs.

With Christmas coming – I was curious – are you listening to any favorite channels? If so – how about sharing them with our readers. What are your favorite Christmas Carols? Name your top five if you would. It might be interesting to read what others appreciate.

Not in any particular order – but I would name these hymns as my favorite.
—- The First Noel
—- O Holy Night
—- Away in a Manger
—- Silent Night
—- O Little Town of Bethlehem Continue reading

December 14, 2017 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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