Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Be Strong and Courageous

1 Chronicles 28:20

David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.”

Life ChangeMemorial Weekend is a time in our family’s history – when we visit with family. In the past – pre-arson on our West Virginia home – we would go home to my mom’s home town – where mom and dad met. There is a family reunion – with mom’s side of the family. We haven’t gone the last two years because our home is missing – and it wouldn’t be the same.

I did spend a great deal of time thinking about my mom and dad and our family history. We spent time with our local family – over at my nephew’s home on Sunday afternoon and my daughter’s home on Monday afternoon. We spent time with family.

I also spent time yesterday and even all weekend – thinking about those who gave their all so that we could spend a weekend spending time with family. Phrases like freedom is not free and Home of the Free – Because of the Brave – reminded me of Memorial weekend. I also appreciated a meme that said – Stand for the flag and kneel for the Cross – and one that reminded me that Armed Forces Day is for those currently serving – Veteran’s Day is for those who once served – and Memorial Day is for those who served and never returned home. Too often folks get them mixed up. Continue reading

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May 28, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are There Any Absolutes These Days?

Psalm 11:3

…while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,

Life ChangeOne of my favorite all-time shows is the Andy Griffith show. I grew up watching Andy, Opie, Barney and Aunt Bea. Times were good and even the unchurched were fairly moral people and they had good values in Mayberry. The setting for this show was the late 50’s and early 60’s – just a few states south of us. I’m not suggesting we could ever return to these times – nor should we strive to for sure – but it was a time when absolutes were accepted – even among the unchurched.

I wish that the troubles Opie had would be the troubles our youth would get into today. Unfortunately – our youth – and our society as a whole – are far beyond the sins of Mayberry (and Mayberry wasn’t perfect for sure). Our communities used to resemble Mayberry’s morals and values. I can remember growing up near here. As a matter of fact – I can remember watching Mayberry as a child – and thinking my world was like this show. How did we get to the place we are today? How have we become so corrupt and sinful as a society (watch the news to see my point)? It seems that there are some in our society today that are trying to call sin – acceptable. They are trying to change established truths. I know – much about us needs to change – and over time – much has changed – but I ask – are there no absolutes? Continue reading

May 17, 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, Sermons, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My KAIROS Experience – Part 1

Matthew 25:39

When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

Life ChangeThis week I will be relating some of my experiences working with KAIROS over the last weekend in prison ministry at MCI-J. This was the 12th KAIROS event at MCI-J. It was a life transforming experience for the men in the prison and for the men who went into the prison to take Jesus to those inside. I was hesitant when I went – some of these men have murdered – have raped – have done armed robbery – been drug dealers and are some of them are in prison gangs. When I enter a room – especially when I enter a possible troubled room – I always make an exit plan – looking for the fastest way out. There were not escape routes when we were behind bars and barbed wire and such.

This week – I will write about some of the men I met and their story. I will not use their names – but believe me – these men are for real. I realize that I met these men in a very limited way – during our 4-day visit – albeit an intense 4-day visit – and I understand through 40+ years of ministry that people can learn what to say at the right time to fool people. Having said that – I believe I have a pretty good fake antenna – pretty good discernment. This ministry – KAIROS – is very Biblical and essential. It is one of the things Jesus called us to do and something we will be examined on when Jesus comes in His glory. Continue reading

April 29, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Evangelism Is Essential

Matthew 9:37–38

37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Life ChangeAt First United Methodist Church of Laurel, MD, we talk a lot about evangelism, about reaching the lost for Christ. Evangelism is not a dirty word folks! In the Great Commission, we are called to go and make disciples. Matthew 28:19–20 – 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Making disciples is spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and that is evangelism.

Evangelism is – according to one definition I found online, the spreading of the Christian gospel by public preaching or personal witness. A Scripture that defines evangelism, that gives us an example of telling the story of the Gospel, can be found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 – Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.  3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas,  and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. Continue reading

April 25, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Week After Easter

Psalm 119:147

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.

Life ChangeEaster 2019 has come and gone. Lent was a powerful time this year for me. Holy Week was amazing. I loved the Seder meal and the Good Friday service. Easter Sunrise service is always special for me – I’ve only missed one in my adult life that I can remember. I loved sharing that time with my father when possible. I loved the hill behind Mt. Zion with the benches and three crosses and the sun rising over the hill – the pavilion at Mt. Oak (with the cross in the field) – and the prayer garden at First Church – just to name the last three churches I’ve served. Each holds many special memories.

On Easter morning I usually arise around 4 am. Sunrise this year was at 6:20 am so we started our service at 6 am. I know that some of our men and women – some of my friends – wake that early or earlier on a regular basis. One of my son-in-laws gets up that early most every day to go to work. It is not my usual time to rise though. As a matter of fact – there have been nights I haven’t gone to sleep until that time! My normal time to rise is 6:00 am or thereabouts. By that time we were starting worship on Easter morning. It was a powerful morning – we had a great time worshiping God. We invited other churches and the community to join us. The sun rising will remind us that the Son rose. Continue reading

April 24, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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