Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Lent Is Coming Soon!

Matthew 26:35

Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.

Lent is coming soon. It begins on Wednesday – February 14th – Ash Wednesday. That morning we will be making the sign of the cross on the foreheads of those who come into our parking lot from 6-7 am (with ashes). We will also offer a blessing. This is a great way – throughout your day to witness your faith to others. Last year there were over 30 people who came by. Join us on your way to work. If you come after 7 am – come into the office – I will be there!

Lent – according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is defined as – a period of 40 days before Easter during which many Christians do not eat certain foods or do certain pleasurable activities as a way of remembering the suffering of Jesus Christ.

Today’s passage is about Peter and the disciples saying they would not deny Christ – that they would actually die with Jesus if need be. Here is today’s passage in partial context. Matthew 26:30-39 – 30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 31 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 33 Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” 35 Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same. 36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Continue reading

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February 7, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, Fast, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christ Came To Save Sinners

1 Timothy 1:15

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.

It won’t be long and March Madness with be upon us. I’m not certain my favorite college team – the Maryland Terps – will be in it this year. They have not played very well of late.

The competitive juices begin flow in almost everyone during March Madness. Even if a person doesn’t like or follow sports in general – they often get excited in the office place (and on Facebook) for their alma mater (go Terps!).

I wonder – have we ever had a competitive spirit about following Christ? I mean – have we ever thought of giving our very best effort – spending a day or a lifetime – seeking His face and desiring His grace? Have we ever gone out of our way to connect with others around our faith? With numerous Lenten season events happening at First UMC in Laurel – it would be a great opportunity to invite someone to join us. Continue reading

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

The New Year Unfolds Before Us

Matthew 18:2-4

2 He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3 And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

We are in the early days of a New Year – thew New Year is unfolding before us. Some stayed up on New Year’s Eve to watch it arrive. Some had friends over to enjoy the change of years. Some may have headed to New York City and other places to join larger groups of people to celebrate the coming of a New Year. Some – like me – went to sleep as if nothing will be different or change with the changing calendar. Change is the key word. Some hope that a New Year will be better than the year just completed. Facebook is filled with people hoping for a better 2018. Some hope we can get a fresh start and make changes in our lives. If we change nothing and still expect a different result – well – you know what they say about that saying.

Have we ever read and wondered what Jesus meant by these words from Matthew’s gospel? When Jesus says – I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. What is it about a little child that is so significant? Continue reading

January 5, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Great Gift

Ephesians 2:8

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God

So – what are you getting me for Christmas – LOL? What great gift have you picked out for me? Ask me and I will give you some great ideas.

So what are you getting your children? What are you getting your spouse or special someone? What is on your wish list? Have you shared your wish list with anyone?

I saw on Amazon that vintage Hot Wheels are making a comeback. LEGOs are still a hot item. Robots seem to be selling well. Other electronics like pads for children – the latest cell phone or pad – and virtual viewers are selling well. Clothes are always a welcome gift. Cash or gift cards are always in style (although some call them lazy gifts – I love them). Continue reading

December 12, 2017 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fishing For Men and Women

Matthew 4:19

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

I have a number of friends who love to fish. I never really got into it – I get motion sick very easily – but wouldn’t mind sitting on a shoreline somewhere on a lazy summer day with a line in the water. My friends post pictures of some of their favorite fishing holes on Facebook. They really enjoy fishing. It must be very exciting and relaxing to them.

A friend of mine from a former church is really into fishing. He often posts pictures of fish he has caught on Facebook. He gets some big ones. He and another friend go deep water fishing at times. My friend’s youngest son has taken an interest in fishing as well and they are often together at their favorite fishing hole – as seen on his Facebook page! He brought a dozen or more rods to church one Sunday for a prop for a sermon series titled Gone Fishing or something like that. I miss this friend dearly! We both play golf and need to do more of it together this coming season. Continue reading

December 11, 2017 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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