Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Keeping The Sabbath Holy

Deuteronomy 5:14

…but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do.

Growing up stores were all closed on Sundays – the Christian Sabbath Day. People generally went to worship God in the morning – came home to eat a family meal – rested for the next week’s work load (dad called them siestas – a nap taken in the heat of the day) – had family time – ate supper together – went back to church for youth group followed by evening worship.

Today – many – even Christians – treat Sundays as any other day. Oh – some might come to worship on Sunday mornings – maybe evening Sunday School – but many treat the rest of the day as any other day. They shop – they go out for a meal – they cut their lawns – they wash their cars – they clean the house – and more. They buy and sell on the Sabbath – even in the church building. They go to work on the Sabbath as if it is any other day. Continue reading

May 24, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jesus’ Touch

Matthew 8:3

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.

There are days and nights when I remember my dad (mom too but this is about dad). My father was a wonderful man of God. I would imagine that some preacher’s kids get tired of hearing their father or mother preach. My wife often says she has heard (after 39 of 41 years of shared ministry and marriage) everything – several times – from me (LOL).

I never grew tired of hearing my dad preach. He had a way of making the Gospel real and down to earth so that even a child could understand what he was sharing. I remember – even as a teen – sitting in the balcony of the church or on the back pew (see – even as a youth I was a good Methodist – LOL) – and listening to my dad preach and being moved – being touched.

One of the things that touched me was that dad lived what he preached. He wasn’t on stage preaching and living a different life. He lived the truth he preached. I strive to follow that model today. Continue reading

May 4, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Workers Are Few

Matthew 9:37

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.”

Most of us have had jobs that needed help. We’ve had tasks at home or at work where we just didn’t have enough help. As I recover from shoulder surgery – I can cut my grass but I cannot hoist the weed whacker onto my shoulders and trim – so – today – my son-in-love will come by and give me a hand. We all need help from time to time.

When was the last time you needed help accomplishing something? Maybe it was after surgery – maybe it was a task that just too more than two hands. Maybe you needed someone to hold one end of a board while you nailed the other end? Maybe it was something too heavy for one person to lift? Maybe it was the time you fell and needed help getting up?

In today’s passage – Jesus reminds His disciples that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Jesus was referring to the harvest of souls – kingdom work that needed many to help. He was encouraging His disciples to not only join the work of bringing souls into the kingdom but to draw others to join the harvest as well. Continue reading

April 20, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

There Is Now No Condemnation

Romans 8:1

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

Easter 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 next Easter or maybe Christmas Eve.

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 folk all attending on the same Sunday. Sadly – studies show that regular for some folks means once or twice a month these days – 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 regular – your normal attendance might be closer to 115 than 75. Continue reading

April 17, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Be Blessed This Good Friday

Psalm 29:2

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.

Today is Good Friday. Spend the day remembering that Jesus loved you so much – that He came down from heaven and died on the cross for your/our sins. If you are in the Laurel area – join us this evening for a meaningful service of remembrance as we read through some of the Biblical story of Jesus’ sacrifice. The service begins at 7 pm at First United Methodist Church at 424 Main Street – in Laurel – MD. Here are some passages to get us thinking today.

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 15:13 – Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Continue reading

April 14, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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