Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

All Mankind Will Come And Bow Down Before God

Isaiah 66:23

“all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the Lord.

I grew up the son and grandson of Methodist pastors. I was raised on Wesleyan theology – which is not Calvinist or Arminian exactly – but for me a mixture of the two (the best parts of each). I was raised during a time when we were told to date within our denomination – because it would be easier raising the children – better for a unified home. I didn’t always follow that path – dating a Catholic girl – a Baptist girl – an Episcopal girl – a non-denominational girl and a few others. I also dated a few Methodist girls. I eventually married a Methodist girl (young woman) – who would love to be non-denominational I think. All were Christian – just from different branches of the faith.

I raised my daughters to marry boys who were Christian – the denomination was secondary. I told them they should look for three things in the young men they dated – 1) a strong Christian faith – 2) a strong love for them – and 3) a strong work ethic. Although I was still biased toward those who thought Wesleyan theology was on the right path – I believed that most Christian faiths could have the core beliefs that would create a strong marriage and family. Continue reading

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

Being Amazed!

Mark 4:41

They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

I’ve been amazed a few times in my life. The first time was when I realized that Jesus loved me enough to die for me and to cover my sins. That just amazed me because I’m not worthy of such love.

Another time had to do with amazing love as well. It was when my wife said she would marry me. I was so amazed that a woman of her qualities would marry a man like me and – after 37 years – still stayed married to me.

Another time I was amazed was when my three daughters were born. To watch them come into the world and know that Carolyn and I had just given birth to three amazing girls – now that was amazing.

Another time I was amazed in my life was when Eddie Murray stood out in the rain in his expensive leather jacket to sign an autograph for me at old Memorial Stadium (after a game was canceled because of the rain). Continue reading

November 2, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Vision For The Church Family

Ephesians 3:19

that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Paul writes his heart’s desire for the church in Ephesus by saying; Ephesians 3:16-19I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

As I have been praying about First Church – this has come to my heart numerous times. I believe God wants us to grown up and deepen our faith at First Church. God wants us to seek His face and desire His grace. I’m not saying we don’t have mature Christians at First Church – I’m saying the whole body needs to grow up and mature even more in Jesus (this includes the pastor and church leaders). Paul continues in Ephesians 4 to tell us some of the measures of a mature Christian. Read it and see what it has to say. Are these things abundant in our church? Are they gifts and blessings that we could use more of at First Church? In your local church dear reader? Continue reading

October 16, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are We A New Creation?

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Today’s passage should be very familiar to us. If you have heard me preach or teach for any length of time – you have heard this passage used. I wonder if we give it much thought.

It may be painful – but try to remember if we can – if we know Jesus as our Lord and Savior – what it felt like before we made the decision to follow Him. I made the decision as a youth – but I can remember the feeling after I made the decision more than the feeling beforehand. I mean – I grew up in the church – and although a sinner – not a really bad person. I did think I was a Christian beforehand – thinking that because I went to church I was a Christian. But soon after giving my heart to Jesus – I knew what it was like to be a new creation. I felt like flying – I felt free – I felt relieved and blessed.

I have talked to some who received Christ later in life and they have similar reports – but with a deeper memory of their life prior to Jesus. Some walked in drugs or alcohol. Some lived lives of crime. Some didn’t grow up in the church. Can we remember? What is our story? Continue reading

June 28, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bearing With One Another In Love

Ephesians 4:2

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Photo on 7-6-16 at 3.42 PMDuring this political season – close friends and relatives seem to be at odds. I’ve seen folks who have been friends for years taking strong positions on either side of this election. I repeat what I have said many times – I cannot see myself voting for either major party candidate – neither is worthy IMHO of being elected president. Yet I also realize that the big prize in this election is the Supreme Court #SCOTUS. The person elected will probably nominate 3-4 justices and the court will lean toward those selections. We are between a rock and a hard place for sure.

During the baseball or football season – a number of folks pull for different teams. I have witnessed good friends at odds with one another because they like different teams. Try going to a Ravens and Steelers game where the visiting jersey and you will see what I mean. Continue reading

August 9, 2016 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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