Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

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

Keeping Things Fresh and Green

Psalm 92:14

They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green,

Life ChangeOk – the season is upon us – my wife has begun to decorate for Christmas. Have you started at your home yet? Do you have a tradition? Do you decorate the day after Thanksgiving – or do you shop that day and decorate on another day? Do you do it slowing – or all at once? Is it a family event or does one person pretty much take the lead?

At our home – my wife is the decorator (there are stories I could tell you about what happens when I help – but that is for another post). I usually put up the tree – with help – but she pretty much does the decorating. I help bring down the boxes – but she puts things up. She starts slowly and works up to being finished a few weeks before Christmas – at times as early as the 1st of December.

What traditions are important to you around Christmas decorating – if any? I know people who have fully decorated trees they simply put away decorated and bring them out for Christmas. I know people who leave their tree up year-round. I knew a couple – my dear friends Tom & Doris – who used to put a tree up in every room. Personally – I like the decorations – but I think I could do without them. Don’t get me wrong – I love Christmas. My dad loved Christmas and I have good memories of Christmas as a child. But Christmas for me has always been family – music – worship and seeing family and friends. The decorations are nice – but not essential for me. Continue reading

November 21, 2019 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Know Mighty Warriors

Jeremiah 20:11

But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonor will never be forgotten.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amLamar Jackson – Marlon Humphreys – Earl Thomas – Mark Ingram and Marcus Peters – just to name a few Baltimore Ravens who played like mighty warriors in yesterday’s win over the Seattle Seahawks. They came into a hostile stadium and played like Ravens. They fought the whole game and in the end – the defense along with the offense did enough to win the game and move to 5-2. They now have a bye-week to rest and get ready for the New England Patriots. The hope is the Ravens will get back a few injured players and be more at full strength.

Another mighty warrior that I know is my friend Ralph Higdon. He was a real warrior on the basketball court. He was a real warrior in life – as he fought a devastating disease to the very end. Even as his life was nearing the end – he was a real warrior.

My dad was always a mighty warrior to me – he stood for Biblical truth – as he saw it – and never in my lifetime wavered from it. He was consistent and reliable and in this day and age when everything is ever changing – that was a solid foundation for me growing up. He stood for Jesus – even to the very end. Continue reading

October 21, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hearing From God – Do We?

June 2019Often – as I sit at my desk in the wee hours of the morning – waiting to hear from God – I began to put some thoughts down for a devotional or a sermon. Have you ever wondered how one would hear from God? I mean – the Scriptures are filled with people hearing from God. Some examples are in the biblical text for us. There’s Moses’ burning bush.

Exodus 3:1-5 – 1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight — why the bush does not burn up.” 4 When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” 5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Continue reading

July 17, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Taking A Nap – Finding Rest

Psalm 121:1-2

I lift up my eyes to the hills — where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

June 2019The Major League Baseball season is in full swing. We just passed the All-Star game. What team are you rooting for to win it all? I’m rooting for the Houston Astros and the LA Dodgers to meet in the World Series and for the Astros to win it all.

I wish it was the Orioles playing for the World Series – but they are aiming to qualify for the number 1 draft choice in next year’s amateur draft for the second straight year. I am an O’s fan and always will be – even during hard years. I suffered through 14 straight losing seasons several seasons ago. We’re tired – already – of this losing skid and want changes. We hope the changes that are coming will help us win again. But this is not real life! It is a game! (As I type this devotional they have a perfect game against them thru 8 innings – not good.)

Where do you go when you are tired and exhausted in real life? When you need rest – where do you turn? I had a busy week last week with VBS and needing help in the office. Besides working over 70 plus hours – I’ve walked several miles each day. I’ve only gotten about 5-6 hours of sleep each night (one night only 3) and according to my new watch – that sleep hasn’t always been sound. I could use a nap! Taking a nap seemed like a punishment as a child. As an adult it is something I look forward to taking! Who agrees with me? 😇💤 Continue reading

July 15, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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