Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Jesus Is God The Son

Matthew 14:33

Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

RayMcDWhat was it that convinced us to become fans of a certain team? Was it our parent’s view or preference? Was it our friend’s view or preference? Was it our home team? Was it a winning season that won us over? I began to follow the Baltimore Orioles one year before their first World Championship in 1966 when they swept the Dodgers in four games. It was the local team and 1966’s season sealed me as a fan (although 14 losing seasons in a row and seasons like this current one make it hard).

What convinced us to attend a certain college (if we did) (being local and my dad’s college played into me attending the University of Maryland)? What was it that convinced us to ask someone or accept the invitation of someone to go on a date or later to married him or her? What does it take to convince us of something? We make a number of important decisions in our lifetime.

What was it that led us to believe in Jesus? What was it that convinced us that Jesus was the Son of God – even God the Son? Was it a message on a Sunday or at a revival service? Was it something we read in the Bible? Was it the witness of someone that convinced us? Was it a miracle or something we couldn’t explain? Continue reading

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July 17, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Showing Others God’s Grace

Luke 19:5

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.

It is hard – at times – to show grace. We talked about showing grace yesterday in the message. There are people in our lives that we would have a hard time showing grace to I think. Do we have a hard time showing grace – showing love – to the Zacchaeus types in our lives? The first few verses of Luke 19 tells us some about him.

Luke 19:1-4 – 1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

Zacchaeus wasn’t JUST a tax collector – but a chief tax collector. In Jesus’ day – Rome had some heavy taxes. And they hired Jewish people to collect the taxes from their own people. Most tax collectors were ruthless (they had Roman soldiers to help them collect) and corrupt. If they were asked to get $500 (for example) from each person – they could actually ask for more – and keep what Rome did not demand. That was how they became wealthy – through their corruption. Well – a Chief tax collector would be the one who told the other tax collectors what Rome needed (and they always put more into the figure for their cut). So – if Rome needed $500 a person (again – an example only) – the Chief tax collector might tell those under them that Rome needed $600 and keep the $100 for themselves. The regular crooks – I mean tax collectors – would then ask for $650 and keep the $50 themselves. You can easily see why the Jews quickly came to hate the Tax Collectors – not only because of Rome’s taxes – but because of their corruption – their sin. Continue reading

July 16, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Great Adventure With Jesus

Romans 13:14

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

I remember playing pretend as a child. My brother and I would dress up like soldiers and playing Combat! It was fun to pretend. I was usually Sergeant “Chip” Saunders – played by Vic Morrow. I even had a plastic machine gun to complete the ensemble. I remember I had an army canteen and an army backpack (for my sandwiches for lunch). My brother and I would make adventures in the sand dunes between our house and beside grandmother’s home. It was fun playing make believe. When we got a little older we would play in the woods or even in the cemetery next door to the parsonage. It was great fun pretending.

We just finished a week of VBS at First UMC of Laurel. The theme was having great adventures – Rolling River Rampage. The children had a blast. They had great adventures on the river and learned about Jesus. They imagined a number of adventures on the river. We collected funds to support those devastated by the rising river in Ellicott City.

They learned that some adventures are imaginary – and some are real – like walking with Jesus can be an adventure but it is for real! We learned that following Jesus – who died to pay for our sins and to allow us into a right relationship with God the Father – can be a great adventure too. We were also encouraged to tell others of our excitement – being in an adventure with Jesus. Continue reading

July 13, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This Too Is Part Of The Grieving Process

1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

This too is part of the grieving process. A few years ago – I wrote this blog post and this morning it came to mind as I was sitting in the presence of God. I miss my dad so much (and mom too). I hope this devotional touches someone. If it doesn’t – it touched me – so it has served its purpose. It brought fresh tears to my eyes and it is part of my grieving process – nearly 6 years later.

– – – – – – – –

As I sit in the hospital room with my dad my thoughts are scattered.  I know I need time to grieve. I know my emotions are on edge. I know that just the sight of my in-laws this morning followed by my father’s brother brought tears to my heart – for them and for me. Did I say I know I need time to grieve? I know that working helps me grieve and helps control my emotions at the same time. I have thoughts like: what will I do without my father? Who will I turn to with my many questions in life? As the oldest son – the oldest patriarch of the family – what does that mean? Why can’t I be strong for the family and friends? Why must I be so emotional? What will my mom do without dad? What about my sister and brother and the grand/great children? What about my wife, my sister-in-law and my brother-in-law? My brother-in-law has been like a son to dad and has cared for him like his own father – and we cried in each other’s arms last night at the hospital! My mind races to the next steps. Should we have a private burial followed by a memorial service? Should we have a fellowship meal? Where will we hold the service? Who would we ask to help – there are so many pastors in the family – pastors dad influenced – pastors that know him and us? What funeral home will we use – we have such a good relationship with so many? Should we call Hospice Care? Is dad really comfortable? Can he still hear me pray with him? How many angels can dance on the head of a needle? These are just a few of the things running through my head. If you have been where I am right now – you know the many thoughts that are going through my mind. Continue reading

July 12, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our Eternity Is Secure In Christ

John 3:3

In reply Jesus declared, I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.

Our eternity is secure in Christ. I cannot believe that it has been 45 years since I graduated from High School. I was taking a few minutes to remember those days recently. It seems so long ago and yet so recent. The early to mid 70’s were amazing years in my life. I was in High School – graduating in the spring of 1973 from Annapolis High School. I was in college – attending AACC or as we called her A2C2 (for those who don’t read math – that is A squared C squared). I graduated from AACC in 1975 and began to attend the University of Maryland. It seems so long ago and yet so recent.

Our eternity is secure in Christ. During this time in my life I had one girl friend for one year and one girl friend for two years – names have been left out to save their reputations (I’m still friends with one today – a FB friend even – I have no idea where the other might be in life – I lost touch with her decades ago). I mention this because many of us go through relationships that come and go – that at the time we thought would be forever. I thought both of these young ladies might be the one I would spend the rest of my life with for sure – yet neither turned out to be my life partner. Life is so unsettled at times – we live – we learn – we hurt – we have happiness. I had friends during this time in my life that I thought would be life-time friends. One died way too young and others – mostly – have gone on with their lives and our lives have crossed ever so infrequently. It was during these days that I began using the following phrase – happiness is circumstantially driven, while joy is spiritually derived. My days were filled with circumstances that brought happiness and sadness – sometimes in the same event. What seemed so concrete and secure during this time in my life seems to be just a vague memory today. Things that seemed so permanent are just afterthoughts today. Continue reading

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

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