Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

A Great Adventure With Jesus

Romans 13:14

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

I remember playing pretend as a child. My brother and I would dress up like soldiers and playing Combat! It was fun to pretend. I was usually Sergeant “Chip” Saunders – played by Vic Morrow. I even had a plastic machine gun to complete the ensemble. I remember I had an army canteen and an army backpack (for my sandwiches for lunch). My brother and I would make adventures in the sand dunes between our house and beside grandmother’s home. It was fun playing make believe. When we got a little older we would play in the woods or even in the cemetery next door to the parsonage. It was great fun pretending.

We just finished a week of VBS at First UMC of Laurel. The theme was having great adventures – Rolling River Rampage. The children had a blast. They had great adventures on the river and learned about Jesus. They imagined a number of adventures on the river. We collected funds to support those devastated by the rising river in Ellicott City.

They learned that some adventures are imaginary – and some are real – like walking with Jesus can be an adventure but it is for real! We learned that following Jesus – who died to pay for our sins and to allow us into a right relationship with God the Father – can be a great adventure too. We were also encouraged to tell others of our excitement – being in an adventure with Jesus. Continue reading

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July 13, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

At Times – Life Is About The Mercy Rule

Psalm 30:10

Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me; Lord, be my help.

Mercy is something that is rare. Most of us – operating in our human nature – tend to want fairness – or even revenge – but mercy is rare. When I was umpiring baseball – we had a mercy rule in recreational league play. If a team was up by 10 runs after a certain inning of play – they had won the game – we didn’t have to play any longer. This mercy rule kept the team that was being beaten from being beaten by even more – and maybe destroy all of their confidence for future games.

What would a mercy rule look in real life? In golf it might be called a mulligan. We like do-overs in our world – a chance to improve on a mistake or a failure. Yet – often – we are reluctant to give mercy to others. It is hard to offer mercy – maybe because we feel little mercy has been shown us.

I’ve often written on this blog about how salvation is through grace. We all deserve hell – yet because of God’s great mercy – He gave us a free gift – salvation – through the shed blood of Jesus – if we place our trust and life in His hands. Ephesians 2:8 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— Continue reading

July 20, 2017 Posted by | Build, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s Study the Holy Spirit

Genesis 1:2

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

112015 Ray McDonaldThe Holy Spirit – the third person of the Trinity – was from the beginning!  In the second verse of the Bible – today’s passage – the Holy Spirit is introduced to us – the Spirit of God.

Question – why would some in the church want to know all they can about God the Father and God the Son – while shying away from knowing more about God the Holy Spirit?  I plan a sermon series on the Holy Spirit soon and want to teach about the Holy Spirit in this space as well.

A member wrote me the following when asked to comment on the devotional thought You’ve already heard me say that the person and the work of the Holy Spirit is one of the least taught, yet most needed topics in the Christian church today!!! . . . The real question is “How does a Christian in practical terms SUBMIT to the leading of the Holy Spirit in their lives day by day”?
Continue reading

March 17, 2016 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Word Became Flesh and Dwelt Among Us

John 1:14

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

profileOK – it is December 2nd and we can start talking about Christmas.  Yesterday was the 1st Sunday of Advent.  So Christmas is just a few weeks away.

Today’s passage is significant as we approach the manger where our Lord was laid.  The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  The Word or Logos – the truth of God – became flesh and made His dwelling – His presence – His life – known to us.

As we approach the manger this year – let’s make sure Jesus is the reason for the season.  I will try – each day during Advent – to give us something to chew on as we keep Jesus at the front of our thinking.  I will also try to pass along some words of wisdom – from time to time – some mine – mostly other’s thoughts. Continue reading

December 2, 2013 Posted by | Advent Thought, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are We Ashamed of Jesus?

Luke 9:26

If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

profileI need to confess – and I don’t feel good doing it – but there was a time in my life when I had a friend I didn’t want to be seen with at school.  I was ashamed of him in a way.  You see – he wasn’t part of the groups I hung with at school.  He wasn’t a jock.  He wasn’t cool.  He wasn’t in any of the organizations I was in at school.  But he did attend my church and we were friends.  I am ashamed today to remember how I treated him or rather how I avoided him at school.  It only happened for a few months – and God convicted me – but none-the-less – I did it.

At times that is the way we treat God.  We are friends at church – but at work or even around our friends we tend to avoid Him – at least some of us do.  We like being friends or thinking we are friends with Jesus – because there are such benefits we think – like heaven.  But are we trying friends with Jesus?  And if we are not – who are we fooling anyway? Continue reading

October 15, 2013 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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