Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Christmas Praise 26

John 1:14 – KJV

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

christmas-6During 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 at First Church is all about Jesus. The world tries hard to take our eyes off of Jesus, while our pastor and our church family tries to help us focus on Jesus. Jesus is the reason for the season.

This year our pastor promises us something we have never done before. The last time he said that was Good Friday and we had a very moving service as we brought our sins to Christ. I look forward to what God has planned for us this Christmas.

The joy I feel when I attend worship at First Church cannot be measured. It is home to me. It is a safe place for me. It is a safe place for me to bring my friends. It is a place where people feel the Spirit of God. I never hesitate to invite my friends to attend with me. Merry Christmas!

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 26, 2016 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Encouragement, Family, Outreach, Personal | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Merry Christmas To All

Matthew 2:11

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.

RayMcDMerry Christmas to all! I want to wish each and every one a Merry Christmas. May God bless you real good today and I don’t mean with some gift that someone may or may not be giving you! I mean with the love of Christ and the love of Christ working through you and others.

I’ve been writing most of the month about Christmas (have you enjoyed the Christmas Praises folks have shared?). I prepared for a long weekend this year with Christmas Eve on a Saturday and Christmas on a Sunday. My Christmas Eve is usually pretty busy with three services (4 – 7 – 11 pm). I will not arrive home – once I leave for church – until well past 1 am on Christmas Day. There is a part of me that is glad that we don’t have little ones to prepare for on Christmas morning (at home – not counting the grandchildren) – because this old salt would be one tired puppy if I had to put together a bunch of Christmas toys or bikes before the children woke. On the other hand – I will miss the joy of seeing little children opening their gifts and their giggles as they find something special under the tree for them! I hope the grandchildren give me that thrill again this year or real soon.

As I sip on my hot chocolate and listen to Pentatonix sing Christmas songs on YouTube I am reminded of the gifts that we give and receive at Christmas. Gifts have been a part of Christmas since the first Christmas! Continue reading

December 26, 2016 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Easy Evangelism

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.”

RayMcDAt First United Methodist Church of Laurel – MD – we talk a lot about evangelism. 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

December 23, 2016 Posted by | Bring, Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas Praises 14

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

christmas-14During 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, Christmas for me has always been a time of remembering. I remember times past shared with family, some long gone. I remember the warm feelings I get during this season. The special music, I’m glad we sing Christmas songs during Advent, at First Church always blesses me. First Church is like most families, we have good days and not so good days. First Church is where I feel the Spirit of God. First Church is my family away from my biological family. I especially like the circle we make at the eleven o’clock Christmas Eve service as we light the candles while singing Silent Night. It wouldn’t be Christmas for me without that service. My prayer this Christmas is for our church to draw closer together and to serve our Lord in our community. I see Jesus in each smile and desire for us to pull together for Jesus.

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 14, 2016 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Holy Spirit, Outreach, Personal | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas Praises 11

1 Timothy 1:15-17

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Christmas at Holker Hall 2009During 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 time is the best time. I love the music and the TV specials. I love spending time with family. The star at the top of our tree always reminds me of the Christ Child.

Christmas at First Church is always special to me. I love being part of the family at First Church. We have a heart for others. Everyone is welcome. Our diversity is such a God thing to me. We come from so many different places, but at First Church we are all one big family. We help others all year-round at First Church but especially at Christmas time. I look forward to this time of the year. I love my church family since my family is so far away.

I love the special services we have, especially the 11 pm Christmas Eve service. The blend of carols, holy communion, and the singing of Silent Night while lighting candles always brings a warm feeling to me. It would not be Christmas for me if I couldn’t attend that service.

I see Jesus in the faces of others at First Church and in our hearts to serve. I’m so glad to have found this 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 11, 2016 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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