Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Helping Others – But No Entitlements

Acts 2:44

All the believers were together and had everything in common.

June 2019I remember attending the graduation ceremony for my two five-year-old granddaughters. We saw picture after picture on the big screen of children sharing and having a great time. Children from all walks of life – from various communities – and from diverse ethnicities. Children don’t care about our differences as much as their parents do. Children just care if someone is nice and plays nice. I wish we adults could learn something from our children.

Most children learn early in life to share – especially if they have siblings. When they are very young – sharing is something they learn or should learn. It may not come naturally to us all – but thru time and training – most of us learn to share. We take turns in games – we learn to share our crayons and other materials. I know my daughters taught this to our grandchildren – even sharing with their cousins after they learned to share with their siblings. Now – they wouldn’t think of letting a classmate go without if they had something and could share. Continue reading

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

Christmas Praises 19

James 1:17

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

christmas-7During 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.

I see Jesus in the lives of many who attend First United Methodist Church. The warm and friendly way that I was greeted when I first attended the church has continued. What I love the most about our church is the diversity. The flags in the entrance area represent just a slice of the diversity in our church family. Pastor once said that we had over 40 nations represented in our congregation. This diversity is evident each and every Sunday. For me it is a slice of heaven where all of God’s people will be united. In a world where we are often judged by our skin color or the accent we have I feel accepted and appreciated in our church. This Christmas my wish is for everyone to have a blessed time however that looks for you. For me it will be time off work and time with my family. It will also mean coming to worship on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I hope to see my church family.  

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 19, 2016 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Encouragement, Family, 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

Christmas Praises 3

Romans 15:13

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

christmas-3During 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.

Tinsel and lights, sparkle and shine, we celebrate his birth. It is Christmas Time.

Christmas has always been a magical time of year for me. Of course when I was younger the prospect of catching Santa delivering gifts or the time off of school was a huge deal but as an adult looking back I realize that two things ring true about Christmas for me and always have. The first is happiness and the second is love. What is it that marries these two together at Christmas?

When I was a child, back in my hometown there was a display downtown depicting Santa Clauses from around the world. I loved how each country represented had a different costume for Santa and different customs. Standing in the atrium of a glass building looking at all the different Santas, I felt this wonderful feeling of belonging. I was one with the world. Our Santas were not the same but the spirit behind them was.

What brings me joy this season is once again a feeling of belonging. At First United we are family. We are brothers and sisters under the grace of God, united in our faith and blessed with a relationship with Jesus. To me, for this season especially, the Christmas season is about having that bond. Worshipping together and gathering for social events fills us with happiness. It is what holds us together as a family and allows us to be a church that helps others and represent Jesus’ love. Just like the Santas in the glass hall, we are diverse and yet all united in the same spirit. Doing for others makes us happy. Lifting up others helps to lift us up as well, both as individuals and as a church family. The care and concern we have not only for each other but for our community and the world is a manifestation of love. Praying for others and providing encouraging words. That is love in action. Our various ministries provide support for all kinds of different people in different circumstances. And at the root of all of this is Jesus. It is his birth that provides the happiness and love that we are blessed to experience at First United.

The marriage of those two things, happiness and love is what Christmas is all about after all. It is the incomparable JOY, (the happiness we have in our hearts) as we feel the incredible love of the Lord that shines through. The overwhelming and freely given love that God showed us by giving us his own son.

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 3, 2016 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Personal | , , , , | Leave a comment

Election Day 2016 And Our Diversity

Galatians 3:26-29

26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

RayMcDI have often been asked – at each church I have served – what I appreciate the most about the current church I am serving. One thing I appreciate about First UMC in Laurel is the diversity of our congregation.

When asked recently – I went on to explain what I meant by diversity. I told them of our wide range of ages at FUMCL – from a member who is 101 to youth and children. I mentioned our growing multi-ethnic flavor at FUMCL – with many hues of people. I mentioned our economic diversity as well – with some people on government assistance while others had well-paying jobs. The diversity I see at FUMCL reminds me of what I think heaven will be like – people of all races and nations – loving on Jesus.

As the elections approach – I see another diversity at FUMCL. As I read posts on social media from our members – I see our diversity around politics. There were a number of people I love and respect from our church expressing support for either candidate and for no candidate at all. (I believe Christians could vote for either candidate – God is not Democratic or Republican). Continue reading

October 24, 2016 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology, Vision, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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