Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Rejoicing Comes In The Morning

Psalm 30:5

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

I wonder how many times – if ever – we have had so much on our plate – we had trouble getting to sleep at night – or staying asleep? I know I have experienced some sleepless nights because of what has been on my plate. I’ve also been awakened in the middle of the night because of what I was facing the next day.

I remember as a child not being able to sleep because something special was coming the next day. I remember as an adult having so much to accomplish the next day I could hardly sleep. I’ve also experienced troubled times that have kept me from getting a good night’s sleep. Is anyone with me in these experiences or am I alone? And how about that time you had to face something you wished you didn’t have to face?

Just last night I heard the news that one of our wonderful members at First Church passed. Bob has been heavy on my heart of late and I have lifted him and others from our church in prayer – at times waking to pray in the middle of the night. Weeping comes upon us at times – but joy often comes in the morning (weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.) I work better – even with troubling times – when I’ve had some rest. Continue reading


September 18, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Witnessing Our Faith

1 Timothy 4:12

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.

Today I wanted to write about setting an witnessing our faith. Witnessing our faith is not about the words we say but the life we live. Actions often speak louder than words – you’ve heard that before – right?

Timothy was a young pastor – a product of Paul’s ministry. Paul was writing to him and those Timothy was leading to give him encouragement and teaching. Part of what Paul wrote we are using as our base passage in this morning’s devotional.

As Paul was telling Timothy to not let anyone look down on you because you are young – he also encouraged him to be a good witness. Think about these words for a moment this morning – set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. How do these words speak to us this morning? Continue reading

September 7, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gifting Of The Church

Ephesians 4:11-16

11 It was he (Christ) who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

RayMcDI will begin to breakdown Ephesians 4:11-16 today as we look at the gifting of the church. God has given certain gifts to the church in order that they may be built up for works of service. Be reminded church that the reason we grow up in Christ is to be of service to Him. I guess one place to start would be to define these offices or appointments within the church.

An Apostle according to Easton’s Bible Dictionary is a person sent by another; a messenger; envoy. According to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia an Apostle is one sent forth; and envoy, missionary. According to Nelson’s Bible Dictionary an Apostle is a special messenger of Jesus Christ; a person to whom Jesus delegated authority for certain tasks. Eleven of the twelve Disciples became known in the church as Apostles as did others like Paul and Jesus’ brother James. Often a task for an Apostle is to be a church planter, a spreader of the truth to the ends of the earth.

Prophet according to McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia is a person who acts as the organ of Divine communication with men (and women), especially with regard to the future. According to New Unger’s Bible Dictionary a Prophet is one who is Divinely inspired to communicate God’s will to His people and to disclose the future to them. According to Nelson’s Bible Dictionary a Prophet is a person who spoke for God and who communicated God’s message courageously. Continue reading

March 1, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reaching the Next Generation

Luke 15:7

I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

RayMcDAs we near the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 – I’ve mentioned a focus for the new year. That focus is reaching the next generation. Our church is mainly made up of aging saints. The medium age of Laurel is 35 and our medium age at First Church is probably closer to 55 or higher. We have an awesome church – but – if we do not reach the next generation with Christ – in 10-30 years there will not be a First Church. I say that not to scare us but to bring into focus what the problem is as we make plans to reach the next generation.

Many churches focus on the membership of the church. I can see where this is important for sure. It is the membership that pays the bills – it is the membership that accomplishes the work of the church. It is the tried and true saints that help to keep the church functioning. Yet – without a constant influx of new people and new ideas – it is very easy for a church to grow stale and eventually die.

John Wesley once said – I look upon all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation. –Journal, June 11, 1739. The founder of the Methodist Church felt he wasn’t bound to parish boundaries. He felt like he could preach wherever he found himself. We should feel this way today – that our parish is not bound to those inside our church – but our parish is all who will hear. Continue reading

December 28, 2016 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Christmas Praises 27

Ephesians 5:20

always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

christmas-5During 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.

As I thought about our church, I began to think fondly on the past – thinking about the congregation’s commitment to stay on Main Street and to expand the building (not a small undertaking!) to support a growing congregation. I also thought about more nostalgic events such as Mr. Elmer Harding being the voice of Christmas, the children’s pageants, the way that our VBS program touches the children and families of Laurel, the amazing ham luncheons and those wonderful open arms that welcomed me to First Church and always beckoned me to stay.

As I continued thinking about First Church I began to think about the present – and our choir and praise teams and how much I enjoy how they share the Word. I thought about how many adults participate in Adult Bible Study classes (there is always room for more!) and how I’ve always thought that was awesome and remarkable! I love our involvement in programs such as Kairos, Winterhaven, Angel Tree (and many more) that help members of our greater community. I also thought about how many people work so very hard to keep our church functioning and looking great.

Continuing to think about First Church, I became filled with praise for what the future holds for our congregation and our community. There is so very much for us to be thankful for and so very many ways we can be the hands and feet of Christ to feed, cloth, minister to and share the love of Christ with all in need! My prayer for each and every one of us is that, individually and as a body of Christ, the simple joy and excitement of knowing Christ would be evident and an inviting beacon for all to see.

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 27, 2016 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Missions, Outreach, Personal | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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