Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Heaven or Hell – It Is Our Choice!

Revelation 21:1

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.

img_0063-2When’s the last funeral you attended? For me – I seem to attend a funeral or more most every week. Some I attend – some I help celebrate the life lived and lost. I recently celebrated the life of a longtime friend who died way too soon. I also have celebrated the lives of much younger persons – spouses and children. Most services are mixed with different emotions. The friend lived a good life – a life of faith – a life with family – a life filled with community and church involvement. She was a wonderful lady and has gone on to her reward with Jesus – yet – sadness was there too because we don’t have her around to talk with – until we meet again.

The others had their stories as well. One was a school teacher – another was a home engineer – still another worked for NSA. Each funeral or memorial service has some sadness and at times – some celebration. Like my mom’s service a few years ago – after she battled with dementia for 6 plus years – it was a blessing for her to transition to be with Jesus – yet it was still hard.

It has been over seven years since my father died – and I still miss him and tear up from time to time thinking about him. He was a man of great faith and a family man all the way. He served others his whole life. Because of dad’s passing – I can better understand the grief of others. My mom’s passing has helped me as well. She too lived well and had a deep faith. Both services were times of mixed emotions. Continue reading

January 13, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Beginnings

First Church,

img_0063-2As we enter 2020 – I wanted to let you know how honored I feel to serve our Lord with you. We have made some treasured memories together over the last 6.5 years. I look forward to the time God gives us to continue to serve Him together. Whatever happens to our denomination – we can remain faithful to our Lord.

2020 will see many changes. We have a significant General Conference in the United Methodist Church in May with many proposals about our future as a church. We have a Presidential election in November as well – with many possible changes to our country’s leadership. If the Lord allows – we will see these – along with another birthday and special holidays.

A New Year – and even a new decade – are times God offers us as New Beginnings. Some will want to change some things in their lives. Some will get married. Some will have children. Some will get new jobs. Some will purchase a new home. Some may move away. Others may move into the area and join us at First Church. Some may try to change their physical or emotional or spiritual health. What new beginning are you looking forward to in 2020? Continue reading

December 31, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on New Beginnings

I Will Not Stop Praying – 2020

John 3:16-17

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. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amI like to play golf. The weather has been great for some time and the fairways are firm and you get lots of roll. I like golf. Golf doesn’t always like me. I take lessons – but – the improvement is minute and often doesn’t last very long. I took a chipping lesson today. I have a tournament next week. I hope I remember what I learned.

I enjoy playing golf and the good friends I play with when we get get out. Some say – golf is a good walk – spoiled. Not me – I love the nature in golf – but I also like the game itself. I plan to improve my game this fall (like every year) – with my continued weight loss – I plan to get back to walking the course some too. I usually play better when I walk the course – and the weight loss (65 plus pounds from my max) should help (my goal is 100 pounds). I’d like to play in the 70’s (not the temperature folks) on a regular basis. This summer I only hit the 70’s ten or so times. Most of the year I played in the 80’s with a few really bad round. We shall see! I’m trying to be more consistent.

I do what some think the most boring thing imaginable – I watch golf on TV (I’d rather be playing – but I do enjoy a good match on TV). When you watch golf – many times in the crowd around a tee-box – you see someone with a sign that simply says John 3:16. The assumption is that most people know what that verse says – or maybe it will cause them to go and look it up. It is part of this morning’s passage. John 3:16-17 – 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. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Continue reading

September 26, 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

2020 – A Time for More Love Not Less

Deuteronomy 6:5

And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amI’m sure you have heard this before – love is a core value in the Christian faith. Showing love to one another is a significant characteristic of our Christian walk – or at least it is supposed to be. I believe that love seems to be missing from our society these days and also from many who claim to follow Christ. Some folks who claim to be Christians – like some of our politicians today – tend to take sides on issues and show anything but love to those who disagree with them. Like some – we tend to forget that even when we disagree – we should show love. Even when our disagreements are over our theology!! Loving one another – even in the face of disagreement – is something we are called to do by Jesus.

I created a song for my grandchildren. I sing it with them whenever they’re here or on FaceTime. It goes like this – I love Pop, Pop loves me, and that’s the way it’s going to be! If I have written it before (and I know I have) – I just love being a Pop. I love my five grandchildren – a sixth one will join them soon – from South Korea! I love showing them how much I love them – by giving them my focus when they are around. I didn’t always do that with my children. I want to be a better Pop than I was a Dad. They love to sit with Pop and comb his greying hair (it may be greying – but at least it’s staying). I also love getting kisses from my girls.

In Christ – we are called to love others – even as we love ourselves. Jesus was asked what were the greatest commandments – and part of His response is to love our neighbors – those around us – even as we love ourselves. Matthew 22:39 – And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Continue reading

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

We Gotta Tell Somebody

Luke 19:40

“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amHow many of our readers today enjoy a good detective/police show like me? Some of my personal favorites over the years are shows like Hill Street Blues – Dragnet – Blue Bloods – NCIS – and yes – Baretta. On these TV shows victims are often encouraged to speak out or to witness so that someone else will not have to suffer what they have suffered. Trying to keep others from being hurt is a strong argument and many times a victim will cooperate to put the bad guys behind bars.

An episode of Blue Bloods had Erin Reagan use that very approach with a young woman who had been attacked – trying to get her to testify so that others wouldn’t be attacked. Many detective shows use this approach or episode design. Speak out so that others will be protected or saved.

Today’s passage records the words of Jesus speaking about His disciples to the Pharisees – if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out. The Pharisees wanted Jesus to make His disciples keep quiet. Jesus told them – if they did keep quiet – the rocks would cry out. Are the rocks clearing their throats in our life dear readers? Here is today’s passage in partial context – of course you will recognize it as part of the Palm Sunday story. Luke 19:35-40 – 35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. 37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: 38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” 40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Continue reading

September 20, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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