Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Christmas Praises 11

1 Timothy 1:15-17

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Christmas at Holker Hall 2009During 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.

Christmas time is the best time. I love the music and the TV specials. I love spending time with family. The star at the top of our tree always reminds me of the Christ Child.

Christmas at First Church is always special to me. I love being part of the family at First Church. We have a heart for others. Everyone is welcome. Our diversity is such a God thing to me. We come from so many different places, but at First Church we are all one big family. We help others all year-round at First Church but especially at Christmas time. I look forward to this time of the year. I love my church family since my family is so far away.

I love the special services we have, especially the 11 pm Christmas Eve service. The blend of carols, holy communion, and the singing of Silent Night while lighting candles always brings a warm feeling to me. It would not be Christmas for me if I couldn’t attend that service.

I see Jesus in the faces of others at First Church and in our hearts to serve. I’m so glad to have found this church.

I praise the Lord for the testimony. I hope that it brings those who read it great joy. Merry Christmas to one and all.

Advertisements

December 11, 2016 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas Praises 6

Hebrews 12:1b–2

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

christmas-6During 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.

This past Sunday, just as I was entering what my wife lovingly calls my “ba-humbug” season, a joyful thing happened. Through the announcements during the service, I was wonderfully reminded of what the real reason for the season is.

I was overwhelmed (in a good way) with the many opportunities to share the hope and love of Jesus Christ with others, here, at First UMC. Food donations to be raised during the Christmas Cantata; community service projects in conjunction with the Advent Potluck meal; donations of socks for the men in the homeless shelter; collecting men’s and women’s winter clothing for winter shelter; providing gifts and food through Angel Tree, to children and families impacted by a loved ones incarceration.

So thank you, First UMC, for encouraging and nurturing me in my discipleship with Christ during this Christmas season. Every one of you has a positive influence in my growing through Christ.

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 6, 2016 Posted by | Christmas, Church, Community, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Leadership, Marriage, Missions, Outreach, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Encourage One Another!

Hebrews 3:13

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

112015 Ray McDonaldEncouragement is a powerful tool. In sports – we often hear that team chemistry is very important. A team can have all of the components of a winning team – great defensive players – great offensive players – a great coach – and still not win. In baseball we see this all the time. Some teams try to buy championships – buying all the best players and hiring all the best staff – but often it is a team with great chemistry that wins.

Encouragement is a great tool. I see great chemistry happening this year on my favorite baseball team – the Baltimore Orioles. They have some great players – don’t get me wrong – and they have a great coach or manager. But it is the way the team encourages each other – the way they rally around each other – that will make the difference. The team was picked to finish last in their division by most experts who handicap such things before the season begins. They usually go on track record of players and forecast where they think the talent will take a team. They cannot measure breakout seasons or slumps – they also cannot measure great team chemistry – the encouragement factor I’ll call it. The O’s have it and currently are in first place in their division! Continue reading

May 11, 2016 Posted by | Bring, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seeking God’s Will

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

112015 Ray McDonaldThis coming Sunday – at First UMC in Laurel – we will try to determine How We Can Discern God’s Will in An Ever-Changing World.  During our spiritual journey – our spiritual walk – have we ever wondered what God’s will is for our lives?  I mean – how many times have we sought out God’s will for our life?  Passages like Romans 12:2 speak about seeking God’s will for our lives.

Romans 12:2 – Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.

The more we form our lives around the things of God (rather than the things of the world) – the more clearly we will be able to see God’s will for our lives.  Sunday we will look at one possible way – maybe the only Biblical way – to seek God’s will for our lives. Continue reading

January 7, 2016 Posted by | Bring, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Praying For God’s People

Philippians 1:9-11

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God.

IMG_0301Prayer is essential for believers.  As a pastor – I often spend time praying for the congregation I am blessed to serve – and the other people I have served or know in my life.  It must come with the territory!  As a church planter – Paul had a heart for the congregations he helped start – by God’s grace and mercy.  In today’s passage Paul speaks the heart of many pastors I know – for the people they serve.

He prayed for this congregation – and his prayer was that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.  Love is so important.  We spoke of the importance of love in recent posts and sermons – the need to fully love with our hearts our Lord and His cause.  Loving others is what allows us to minister to others – to reach out to others.  We want to build people up in knowledge – but if we haven’t grabbed the heart along the way – the knowledge will be destined to be merely knowledge.  Paul connects the abounding love with the growing knowledge in his prayer for these folks – and I pray this for us at First Church.  I pray for all believers to have Christ’s heart! Continue reading

July 30, 2015 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: