Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Thanksgiving Day Is Coming!

Romans 8:32

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

fullsizeoutput_ffeThanksgiving comes once a year – as does Christmas – and Easter. Yet we don’t have to limit our thankfulness to one day – do we? If your family is like mine – when we gather to give thanks over the bounty on Thanksgiving – we pause to give thanks for something specific – everyone at the table. It is a touching time – and watching our family age before our eyes – year after year – brings a nostalgic note too. Listening to what the girls have shared over the years and now what the grandchildren will share has been and is a blessing. We are always thankful for the way God touches our lives.

I’m the crier in the family. An example of my inability to hold back my tears can be seen in most any family gathering. I remember at a special birthday for my wife – as others were sharing – I tried to share my heart and the tears flowed. Tears will flow for most any reason from my eyes. With the holidays coming I will shed tears when I watch It’s a Wonderful Life for the 200th time – and even while watching Charlie Brown Christmas – tears will flow.

Thanksgiving is a family time for our family and we will gather once again – the Lord willing. Holidays are especially hard for me now that mom and dad have gone to be with Jesus. Dad loved Christmas so much – that holiday is especially difficult for me these days. Continue reading

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November 14, 2018 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, Fast, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Easter Has Come And Gone – Or Has It?

Romans 8:1

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

Easter has come and gone for another year – or has it? 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 Easter is celebrated again next year.

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 means once or twice a month – 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 4, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

He Bore Our Sins! We Owe Him Our Everything!

Isaiah 53:12

For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

So the day after Easter – a time when most pastors take time off to sleep late and spend some down time – found me on the road early to the Annapolis Mall to sit outside the Apple Store to see if I could get my work laptop fixed. After waiting an hour for the store to open and 45 minutes after that to see a tech and about 15 minutes of running tests – I was told that I needed a new top case assembly (keyboard circuit and cover). They could fix it in the store but it would take 3-5 days. So – at work – I will be using my iPad and work more from home on my iMac – till I get it back. I’ll need to find some down time later.

Today’s passage is a prophecy concerning Jesus. It ends with a reminder that He bore our sins on the cross of Calvary. He made intercession before the Father on our behalf. He took upon Himself all of our sins – and according to scripture the sins of the world – for those who would receive His grace – paying the blood price we could not ever consider paying. Remember – there would be no Easter without Good Friday – no victory over the grave had Jesus not died on the cross first. He bore our sins – we owe Him our everything! Continue reading

April 3, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Sermons, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

He Is Risen! He Is Risen Indeed!

Matthew 28:6

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

Wow – what an Easter we had yesterday at First UMC in Laurel. Not only were there loads of people in worship – worship was amazing. From the sunrise service outside in the prayer garden to the two services – we were blessed. New people – regulars – and others joined in as we gather to worship God. I pray your worship was amazing as well in your local church dear readers.

Today’s reading is from the Easter readings. It was what Jesus promised His disciples – that He would die and be raised to life. They didn’t always understand – and some Gospel accounts tell us they even had their doubts – right up to Pentecost. I think they were not much different than we are. We have our moments of faith and understanding and we have our moments of doubt and when we lack understanding. Continue reading

April 2, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Sermons, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 47 of Lent 2018

John 20:1

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.

Today is day 47 of the 47 Days of Lent reading plan (Sundays don’t count in the 40 days of Lent). I hope you have stayed with us during our reading plan this Lenten Season. We’re there – Easter morning. It is the day we celebrate the risen Lord! The day we thanks God for defeating the grave. The day we read the story about the stone being rolled away and the tomb being empty! The day we remember He arose!

Lent is typically a time to give something up – to stop a bad habit – to deny self – to dig deeper into our walk with Jesus. How have you been doing? Today we continue to look at a passage that will lead us to the cross and later to the resurrection. Let us focus on Jesus this week – more than usual. For those of us who have received Jesus as Lord and Savior – we have been baptized into Christ and into His suffering – into His death. We share with Him and He shares with us. Continue reading

April 1, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Personal, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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