Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Day 13 of Lent 2020

Mark 12:42

But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.

Ray 2020Today is day 13 of the 40 Days of Lent reading plan. I hope you are enjoying the 40 Day reading plan – I know I am. Keep up with the stories about Jesus’ life as He walked to the cross. These Biblical stories are a great way to walk through Lent.

Today’s reading reminds us that it isn’t how much we give to the Lord’s work – but rather the heart with which we give it. The widow gave her all – the rich – they gave from their abundance. How do we give? Do we give our tithe and think we are doing so well – when a sacrificial gift might be 15 or 20%? Are we giving sacrificially to God or are we giving from our abundance? Let us search our heart today and be honest with ourselves. Do we give our all to Jesus or only from what we think we can spare?

Here’s a good question. How do we determine what to give? Do we give our full offering to the church we attend or do we give to other charities? Do we under the difference between a tithe and an offering? We talk about taking up our tithes and offerings on Sunday morning. Do we know what that means? Continue reading

March 11, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 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

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

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