Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

What I Might Share With Graduates

John 3:3

In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

I’m reading on my Facebook feed about a lot of young people graduating from High School and College. It has been 45 years since I graduated from High School. I haven’t heard of any reunions – but maybe for our 50th in five years. If I had a chance to speak with graduates – I might say something like today’s devotional thought.

As I thought about those days gone by – which seem so long ago and yet so recent too – I am reminded of my days in school – in the educational process. The early to mid 70’s were amazing years in my life. I was in High School – graduating in the spring of 1973 from Annapolis High School. I was in college before my senior year was over (attending classes in the summer) – attending AACC or as we said A2C2 (for those who don’t read math – that is A squared C squared). I graduated from AACC in 1975 and began to attend the University of Maryland. It seems so long ago and yet so recent.

During this time in my life I had one girl friend of one year and one girl friend for two years – names have been left out to save their reputations (I’m still friends with one today – a FB friend even – I have no idea where the other might be in life). I mention this because many of us go through relationships that come and go – that at the time we thought would be forever. I thought both of these young women might be the one I would spend the rest of my life with for sure – yet neither turned out to be my life partner. Life is so unsettled at times – we live – we learn – we hurt – we have happiness. I had friends during this time in my life that I thought would be life-time friends. One died way too young and others – mostly – have gone on with their lives and our lives have crossed ever so infrequently. It was during these days that I began using the following phrase – happiness is circumstantially driven, while joy is spiritually derived. My days were filled with circumstances that brought happiness and sadness – sometimes in the same event. What seemed so concrete and secure during this time in my life seems to be just a vague memory today. Continue reading

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May 23, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Grief is Real

Genesis 25:8

Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people.

Yesterday I went with a family – some friends from younger years at another church – to spend some time with the body of their 30 year-old son who died Sunday – on Mother’s Day – in a car accident. As I stood with the family and tried to hold back the tears – my thoughts went to my nearly 30 year old daughters and eventually to my mom and my dad’s passing.

I was reminded of today’s passage – as I thought of my dad’s passing nearly 6 years ago. When dad passed – my dad was 84 – he would have bene 90 this summer. I would have loved to have had him around another 16 years or so – yet he was at a good old age when he died. He was ready to meet his Maker – even though he would have loved to stay around to be with a family that he loved and who loved him. One of the comforting thoughts I cling to even today is that as much as he loves us – he wouldn’t trade a moment of heaven for another moment with us. He is in God’s glory! Continue reading

May 17, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 16 of Lent 2018

Matthew 24:29

“Immediately after the distress of those days ” ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ “

Today is day 16 of the 40 Days of Lent reading plan on www.youversion.com. I hope you are enjoying the 40 Day reading plan. Keep up with the stories about Jesus’ life as He walked to the cross. Draw closer to Him and let us deepen our faith walk.

Today’s reading shares some insights into the last days. It caused me to remember when I posted on Facebook about Jupiter and Venus being lined up with the moon a few years ago. People will be looking for signs and people will make predictions about the end of time (we have lived through some end of time predictions in 2011 and at the turn of the century too). What we should really – IMHO – concentrate on – is our walk with Jesus. If our walk with Jesus is where it should be – than when Jesus comes won’t make a difference to us! Think about it. Continue reading

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

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

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

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