Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Quiet Time Is Essential

Mark 6:31

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

OK – we prayed for our children and grandchildren to come home – two grandchildren and parents were living in New Jersey while three grandchildren with parents were living in California. We are so glad to have them back home. It is good to have family close. It was special having almost the whole family together for the 4th of July celebration at my brother’s home.

Having said that – quiet times around the McDonald home are few and far between these days. Three of the grandchildren are staying with us as the family prepares their home. Being so close to the other two grandchildren – you know they are over often. They love each other – yet like siblings and cousins – there are times they battle as well. I am not complaining – but finding a quiet moment is not as easy as it was when it was just the wife and I. Yet we realize how important – even essential – quiet time can be for us. Continue reading

July 10, 2017 Posted by | Build, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Finding Peace

John 16:33

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

One of the blessings of having a hearing loss is I can put my good ear down on the pillow at bedtime. If people are in the other room talking and I want to get to sleep – I simply place my good ear on the pillow and off to sleep I go. There is a peace and quiet – no matter what is going on around me. It might be why I could fall asleep anywhere as a child – with my parents and others talking up a storm in the same room. I would simply put my good ear down on the floor or a pillow and I could find my happy place – a quiet place to fall asleep. With the rain this morning and my wife out of town – I slept a long time after going to bed early and no one to wake me.

My Facebook feed is normally filled with pictures and stories of folks I know that have found peace in one place or another. A friend – with a foot and lower leg in a cast – shared a picture of him cutting grass on his John Deere – cast in a plastic bag! I know what he meant. With my recent shoulder surgery – I couldn’t wait till I could cut my grass. Something about doing something mindless and in the outdoors – is so stress relieving. Some people share pictures of mountain sunsets – beach sunrises – quiet waters – peaceful golf courses – baby animals – mountain top views and more. People enjoying some relaxing time – some quiet time – away from their work and the hustle and bustle of their everyday lives. Where is your happy place? Where would you go to find peace and quiet? Continue reading

May 5, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Smile – What Brings a Smile to Your Face?

Exodus 34:29
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.

What brings a smile to your face? Of course the first answer I would give these days is spending time with my grandchildren (and children). We now have five grandchildren. Another answer might be a long winning streak by the Baltimore Orioles or Washington Nationals (even a win would be great at times). The opening day win in the 11th inning by the Birds Monday brought a smile to my face. Still another might be time spent with my wife. I could get very pastoral here and say a smile comes across my face when a person receives Jesus Christ – when the light comes on for them in their personal relationship with Jesus. Other things bring a smile to my face as well (like when my friend makes a good shot in golf and gets excited about it). When we see someone with a smile on their face we usually think something just happened and we tend to be curious.

How about when people notice you have lost weight? Better yet – when they say something encouraging to you (if losing weight was what you were after). I remember when one of my daughters greeted me with a hug and she said – getting skinny dad – as she wrapped her arms around me? What about someone saying something about your new hairdo or your new dress (or suit)? How about the smell of your favorite food – or freshly baked bread – or bacon frying (that one always brings a smile to my face)? Continue reading

April 5, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas Praises 25

Luke 2:5-7

He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Manger at night under fogDuring 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.

At Christmas the things that bring me joy are simple. Time with family instead of constantly working comes to mind. Seeing the smiles on the children and now the grandchildren’s faces as they open something simple yet special. Remembering those who have gone before us and those who are still here. Seeing such giving hearts at our church as we reach out to others amazes me.

I see the joy of Christmas in my church family. There are times when we don’t always see eye to eye but most times we gather together and accomplish great things for our Lord. Christmas is one of those times when we connect and accomplish great things for Jesus. I love Christmas at First Church. The sweet Spirit of Jesus is so evident in most all of the people. The spirit of giving and of love is so prevalent amongst the people. Merry Christmas to everyone.   

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 25, 2016 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Holy Spirit, Outreach, Personal | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Always Be Prepared

1 Peter 3:15

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

RayMcDWell – just a few more days till Christmas. I hope you are ready. If not – well – you have 3 days – counting today. As Christmas approaches – I’ve noticed more people saying Merry Christmas this year – have you? It used to be Happy Holidays – but this year I hear more Merry Christmas greetings.

I imagine there are also opportunities to talk with people about Christmas – about our faith – questions surrounding our beliefs and our practices. Maybe the questions come from the little ones in our family – curious about why we celebrate Christmas or the true meaning of Christmas. Maybe the questions come when we make that trip to grandma’s home – over the hill and thru the dale. Maybe the questions come from co-workers or neighbors. Maybe when we talk about going to Christmas Eve services or even this year Christmas Day services – someone will ask us – why? – and we will be faced with a moment in time to witness. Continue reading

December 22, 2016 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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