Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Veteran’s Day 2019

John 15:13

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Life ChangeToday is Veteran’s Day 2019. We celebrated with some of our veterans in worship yesterday. We also honored one of our veterans – Richard Reynnells – by giving him a flag that flew over our church in 2019. He was surprised to be so honored. We have honored veterans at First Church for many years.

If ever there were a Scripture that spoke to the American soldier – I believe today’s passage is the one. Whether they were drafted or volunteered – men and women of our armed forces have put their lives on the line for God and Country. Whether they served at home or abroad – during peacetime or a time of war – they were our defense – our shield. They trained to be able to serve and protect. Freedom is not free – it is very expensive. At times – it cost way more than money. At times – it costs the lives or health of those who stand in the gap for us – around the world. Continue reading

November 11, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Encouragement, Family, From the Pastor, Personal | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Love God With All Our Heart

Matthew 22:37-38

37 Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

Life ChangeI thought of this passage the other day. I heard a pastor once ask – the question isn’t the one we typically hear – how much of the Holy Spirit do we have? The question should be – how much of you have we allowed the Holy Spirit to have? He also reminded us that the Holy Spirit comes to transform us – to change us – to make us holy.

As I think about today’s passage I begin to think – how committed are we to God? We talk about being saved – but are we only after someone to save us from Hell? Isn’t Jesus also our Lord – our Master? If the Holy Spirit dwells in us through this salvation – what difference are we allowing Him to make in us – in our lives?

I know some Christians who have made radical changes in their lives. Some have stopped smoking when they came to Christ. Some have cleaned up their language – no longer sounding like sailors. Some have turned from drug and/or alcohol addictions. Some have turned from pornography. Some have turned from same-sex relations or extra-marital relations. Some have made radical changes in their lives because of Christ in their lives – because of the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. Continue reading

November 6, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Heart of God – Kindness and Goodness

Galatians 5:22

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

Life ChangeOur Tuesday morning and evening Bible studies are just amazing. If you are available at 10:30 am or 7:00 pm and in the Laurel area – please stop by. In these Bible studies – we’re into the Book of Acts – sometimes called the Acts of the Apostles. We have been reading about the power of God – God the Holy Spirit – as the early church was being birthed.

As we have gone thru this study – some questions have been raised that made me think about preaching on the Holy Spirit. So – beginning in November – we will preach a series on the Holy Spirit. Stay tuned!

Today’s passage is about the Fruit of the Holy Spirit. What do you think of when you hear the words kindness and goodness? A few verses before the fruit of the Spirit is listed in Galatians 5 – we read the following words. Galatians 5:6 – For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

When I think of kindness and goodness – I think of the heart of Christ. It is often contrary to my heart. I am not – by nature – a mercy person. I can express mercy – but only because of the grace of God – it isn’t from my natural fabric. The heart of God – the heart of Christ is seen best – for me – in the following passage. Continue reading

October 24, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My KAIROS Experience – Part 5

Matthew 25:39

When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

Life Change(The opening may be repeated – but it is a new devotional thought each day.) This week – I will be relating some of my experiences working with KAIROS over the last weekend in prison ministry at MCI-J. It was a life transforming experience for the men in the prison and for the men who went into the prison to take Jesus to those inside. I was hesitant when I went – some of these men have murdered – have raped – have done armed robbery – have been drug dealers – and some of them are in prison social groups. When I enter a room – especially when I enter a possible troubled room – I always make an exit plan – looking for the fastest way out. There were no escape routes when we were behind bars and barbed wire and such – with only a few guards giving us space.

This week – I will write about some of the men I met and their story. I will not use their names – but believe me – these men are for real. I realize that I met these men in a very limited way – during our 4-day visit – albeit an intense 4-day visit – and I understand through 40+ years of ministry that people can learn what to say at the right time to fool people. Having said that – I believe I have a pretty good fake antenna – I have pretty good discernment. I also realize that what is said at KAIROS should stay at KARIOS – so I will not reveal any personal information – just generalizations that will help others to know the power of this ministry. This ministry – KAIROS – is very Biblical and essential. It is one of the things Jesus called us to do (visit those in prison) and something we will be examined on when Jesus comes in His glory.

This will be the last post in a series of 5 posts on my KAIROS experience – at least for now. I hope the posts have not revealed too much – yet enough to get others interested in supporting this ministry. I have had KAIROS veterans read these posts and make suggestions along the way.

Continue reading

May 3, 2019 Posted by | Bring, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Vision | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Evangelism Is Essential

Matthew 9:37–38

37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Life ChangeAt First United Methodist Church of Laurel, MD, we talk a lot about evangelism, about reaching the lost for Christ. Evangelism is not a dirty word folks! In the Great Commission, we are called to go and make disciples. Matthew 28:19–20 – 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Making disciples is spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and that is evangelism.

Evangelism is – according to one definition I found online, the spreading of the Christian gospel by public preaching or personal witness. A Scripture that defines evangelism, that gives us an example of telling the story of the Gospel, can be found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 – Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.  3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas,  and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. Continue reading

April 25, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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