Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Where Do You See Jesus?

John 14:9

Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

Life ChangeFor the next few weeks – I’d like to ask our readers to share with me where they see Jesus this Advent-Christmas Season. Just write a paragraph or so describing some of the things that bring you joy this Christmas season in your relationship with Jesus and with First Church if this is your home church? I’m also asking where you see Jesus in your church family? Also – what draws you to First Church. You don’t have to tackle all of these – but say something about the joy you feel this Christmas.

The reason for this is to stir up some joy and excitement this Christmas Season (we all need some of that – right?). I will share your thoughts anonymously – but I am keeping your e-mails for sure (I need joy year round). I will try to post a comment a day so as many as possible – send your comments. The posts will go up around 9 am each day – just like our regular devotional thoughts. Continue reading

December 12, 2018 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Send, Theology | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Christmas Praises 27

Ephesians 5:20

always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

christmas-5During the month of December I have asked some members and friends of our church to write a paragraph or so describing some of the things that bring them joy this Christmas season in their relationship with Jesus and First Church? They were asked where they see Jesus in their church family? They were asked what draws them to First Church. The reason for this is to stir up some joy and excitement this Christmas Season. I told them I would share their thoughts anonymously – but I am keeping their e-mails for sure. I will try to post a comment a day for December so obviously I need 31 comments. The posts will go up around noon each day.

As I thought about our church, I began to think fondly on the past – thinking about the congregation’s commitment to stay on Main Street and to expand the building (not a small undertaking!) to support a growing congregation. I also thought about more nostalgic events such as Mr. Elmer Harding being the voice of Christmas, the children’s pageants, the way that our VBS program touches the children and families of Laurel, the amazing ham luncheons and those wonderful open arms that welcomed me to First Church and always beckoned me to stay.

As I continued thinking about First Church I began to think about the present – and our choir and praise teams and how much I enjoy how they share the Word. I thought about how many adults participate in Adult Bible Study classes (there is always room for more!) and how I’ve always thought that was awesome and remarkable! I love our involvement in programs such as Kairos, Winterhaven, Angel Tree (and many more) that help members of our greater community. I also thought about how many people work so very hard to keep our church functioning and looking great.

Continuing to think about First Church, I became filled with praise for what the future holds for our congregation and our community. There is so very much for us to be thankful for and so very many ways we can be the hands and feet of Christ to feed, cloth, minister to and share the love of Christ with all in need! My prayer for each and every one of us is that, individually and as a body of Christ, the simple joy and excitement of knowing Christ would be evident and an inviting beacon for all to see.

I praise the Lord for the testimony. I hope that it brings those who read it great joy. Merry Christmas to one and all.

December 27, 2016 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Missions, Outreach, Personal | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas Praises 12

Psalm 118:24

The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.

christmas-12During the month of December I have asked some members and friends of our church to write a paragraph or so describing some of the things that bring them joy this Christmas season in their relationship with Jesus and First Church? They were asked where they see Jesus in their church family? They were asked what draws them to First Church. The reason for this is to stir up some joy and excitement this Christmas Season. I told them I would share their thoughts anonymously – but I am keeping their e-mails for sure. I will try to post a comment a day for December so obviously I need 31 comments. The posts will go up around noon each day.

Christmas is my favorite time of the year, because most people demonstrate a spirit of happiness and giving. 

This Christmas season, however, is very different than years past. Throughout the year I have experienced several losses of loved ones, financial hardship, ministry challenges, employment reductions, and seen a large spike in violent crimes in our community. With all the telltale signs of the end times, most would agree that we may be in them or steadily approaching them. That does not stop us from serving Christ in the capacity he wants us to. We often use our struggles and hardships to learn things and Christ uses them to help others in need.

The true meaning of Christmas is often lost though. The worldly version we are familiar with equals giving presents, having large meals, spending time with family and demonstrating a cheerful attitude.  The Christ portion of it is downplayed in the spirit of the holiday. Whether we use the prophetic name Emmanuel or the word in flesh name Jesus—the holiday is about his birth.

Every year, I feel honored to participate in Warm Nights—shelter for the homeless, Angel Tree—gifts for children with incarcerated parents, Food drive—stocking the LARS food pantry, and many other mission related events. Not only do I get great joy out of helping others,  but I see it as my spiritual gift—Faith and Deeds. 

Church is not a building or location—it is each individual who makes up a community of believers who gather together to fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus Christ. Good, bad, or indifferent that is what we do as a collective spiritual body.

As my favorite author wrote: 

IN OUR WALK, WE WILL SEE THE MOST HONORABLE OF INTENTIONS, BOTH THE MOST NOBLE AND VILE OF HUMAN BEHAVIOR, AS WELL AS DEPRAVED INDIFFERENCE.  I INVITE YOU TO BE INSPIRED BY THAT WHICH IS HONORABLE, CHALLENGED BY INDIFFERENCE, AND SEPARATED FROM DEPRAVITY.”   F. M. BELL

I praise the Lord for the testimony. I hope that it brings those who read it great joy. Merry Christmas to one and all.

December 12, 2016 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas Praises 2

Psalm 47:1

Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.

christmas-2

During the month of December I have asked some members and friends of our church to write a paragraph or so describing some of the things that bring them joy this Christmas season in their relationship with Jesus and First Church? They were asked where they see Jesus in their church family? They were asked what draws them to First Church. The reason for this is to stir up some joy and excitement this Christmas Season. I told them I would share their thoughts anonymously – but I am keeping their e-mails for sure. I will try to post a comment a day for December so obviously I need 31 comments. The posts will go up around noon each day.

Rev. Ray, As I think on this, the first thing that comes to mind, is the giving spirit of First Church. My first thought is the Angel Tree, this provides children with something “under the tree” that might not have had anything to open Christmas morning. It also provides their parents with a sigh of relief that their children will not be disappointed in “Santa” not visiting their home. I am emotional typing this because I am blessed above and beyond what I deserve and I have always been able to provide a wonderful Christmas of presents, family, food and fun for my children. 

Second I think of the Food Drive. The boxes in the Narthex have been overflowing with food, so much so that Judy and Scott have been storing donations in the Choir room or the Narthex would appear to be a Super Market. Again the generosity of First Church overwhelms me!

I am also excited to participate in my first ever Advent Event. This is especially important as it is teaching our children to give rather then only receive this season, to remember those less fortunate. From wrapping Angel Tree gifts to making homeless blessing bags, gifts for home-bound members and Kairos Christmas artwork. Again how generous is our Church? 

I praise the Lord for the testimony. I hope that it brings those who read it great joy. Merry Christmas to one and all.

December 2, 2016 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Community, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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