Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Be Blessed This Good Friday

Psalm 29:2

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.

Today is Good Friday. Spend the day remembering that Jesus loved you so much – that He came down from heaven and died on the cross for your/our sins. If you are in the Laurel area – join us this evening for a meaningful service of remembrance as we read through some of the Biblical story of Jesus’ sacrifice. The service begins at 7 pm at First United Methodist Church at 424 Main Street – in Laurel – MD. Here are some passages to get us thinking today.

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 15:13 – Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Continue reading

April 14, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Serving The Lord

Romans‬ ‭12:11‬
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

There are times we must respond – right away. No hesitation! No delay. The question that might be asked is this – will we be ready to respond when called upon?

Preparing for the unknown is something that some do well and some do not. We’ve all heard the phrase – prepare for the worst and hope for the best – I would imagine. If you are a normal planner – this isn’t hard for you. If you typically fly by the seat of your pants or are somewhat less of a planner – it might be hard.

For instance – one shouldn’t wait until retirement to begin to plan for it. Savings and investments take time. Planning about when to retire and where to live upon retirement take time to plan. Even planning – some – of what you will do in retirement can be a help.

Another example – coming to agreement with your spouse on certain issues before they actually arise. For instance – how many children we would like or even if we want children and when – might be something to talk about and even have some agreement upon before one marries. Continue reading

March 27, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Marriage, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Satan Is Real and Will Try To Defeat Us

Matthew 4:10

Jesus said to him, Away from me, Satan! For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”

RayMcDIn another week we will begin a new sermon series titled New Believers. It will include a number of basic beliefs and doctrines of the church. It will be a good review of the basics for those of us more mature in the faith while it will be a basic lesson plan for new believers. Recently we had 31 people accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and I thought a basic plan was needed.

In the series we will cover such topics as Temptations Still Strike, Hypocrisy Impacts All, The World Embroils, False Claims – Prosperity, and The Whole Gospel. The series will begin on February 12th and run through March 12th. If you live in the area – join us! If not – listen online when the messages are uploaded to our website – www.fumcl.org.

Before we read today’s passage and begin the new sermon series – here is a truth we must all understand – Satan is real! Satan is our to steal our joy and our peace. If possible – Satan is out to steal our walk with Jesus. Today’s passage is from the story about Satan tempting Jesus in the wilderness. Temptations are real and every day – even constant. We can find today’s story in Matthew chapter 4.  Here is a wider view of today’s passage. Continue reading

February 2, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, 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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