Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

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

Holy Week Remembered

Luke 24:50-53

50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

Today’s passage is from the story of Jesus’ accession. At the end of Luke’s Gospel we read an account of Jesus’ accession. Here is a larger section of that story – Jesus had already been crucified and had already risen when this story took place. I know – out of order with this being Holy Week – but it impacted me today as I read it.

Holy Week is a powerful reminder of our walk with Jesus and His walk to the cross. Services this week will be held on Wednesday – Thursday – Friday and a beloved member of the church – 98.5 years old – will be remembered and celebrated on Saturday. Then and only then will we enter into the Easter celebration. Today’s passage will give us a reminder of His walk and His purpose. Jesus reminds us of His suffering and His glory. At the end of the reading we read that the Disciples stayed continually at the temple, praising God. Let’s take a read. Continue reading

April 11, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 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 17

James 1:2-3

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

 

christmas-17During 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.

A couple of years ago I was at the lowest point ever in my life.  I was in what is medically called a major depression.  I had isolated myself from everything and everyone.  Praise God I found the right treatment and medication.  

When I had made it through this time, the blessings of family and friends was once again a rich part of my life.  However, I was afraid that on my return to attending church there would be questioning looks and/or abrasive comments.  That was never the case.  I was welcomed back with open warm and loving arms.  I felt awash in His love from people I call family.  First Church is full of loving and caring people who stand with you in any circumstance.  What a very special blessing!  My return to this family has made every Christmas and Easter since the best of celebrations.  It sounds dramatic, however I felt born anew as I returned to good mental health, the Christmas connection.  What a joy to celebrate the risen Savior on Easter!  All these new beginnings richly bless me during holidays and throughout the year.

As I close, I share a call to action.  Think about someone you know who may not feel blessed this Christmas season because of depression, loss, and/or grief.  Please contact them to check in on how they are doing.  You and your love may be the blessing they need, a lifeline to knowing that someone cares. 

If you would like more information about depression and other mental health issues, please see www.nami.org.

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 17, 2016 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: