Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Christmas Praises 27

Ephesians 5:20

always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

christmas-5During 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.

As I thought about our church, I began to think fondly on the past – thinking about the congregation’s commitment to stay on Main Street and to expand the building (not a small undertaking!) to support a growing congregation. I also thought about more nostalgic events such as Mr. Elmer Harding being the voice of Christmas, the children’s pageants, the way that our VBS program touches the children and families of Laurel, the amazing ham luncheons and those wonderful open arms that welcomed me to First Church and always beckoned me to stay.

As I continued thinking about First Church I began to think about the present – and our choir and praise teams and how much I enjoy how they share the Word. I thought about how many adults participate in Adult Bible Study classes (there is always room for more!) and how I’ve always thought that was awesome and remarkable! I love our involvement in programs such as Kairos, Winterhaven, Angel Tree (and many more) that help members of our greater community. I also thought about how many people work so very hard to keep our church functioning and looking great.

Continuing to think about First Church, I became filled with praise for what the future holds for our congregation and our community. There is so very much for us to be thankful for and so very many ways we can be the hands and feet of Christ to feed, cloth, minister to and share the love of Christ with all in need! My prayer for each and every one of us is that, individually and as a body of Christ, the simple joy and excitement of knowing Christ would be evident and an inviting beacon for all to see.

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 27, 2016 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Missions, Outreach, Personal | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas Praises 16

Luke 2:10

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

christmas-16During 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.

Christmas to me is the time to hope for a new beginning and a time of renewal which is what brings much joy to me. It is the time when God reminds all of His great love for us and how powerful it was that He sent his only son to remind us how much He gave to humanity: The gift of giving. First Church has become home to me over the last two years since I recently moved here from far away. No matter what happens outside of church, the congregation has always felt welcoming and inviting to me. Although it doesn’t take a Christmas for us to celebrate Jesus, He continues to thrive in our church family. We see Him every Sunday when we hear the pastor’s sermons, the worship team performing music, the technicians who operate the board, the janitor who keeps the place clean, and the administration. Also, we see it when the volunteers who work tirelessly to carry out God’s plans through missions and those are gifts we sometimes may overlook. It is a Christmas miracle in itself every Sunday because every single person who attends First United Methodist church could be anywhere in the world at that moment, but still find the time to worship in the most hectic of times. As long as we continue to give back in someway to Christ and others, that is what the Christmas spirit is all about. I pray that those who read this can find the great joy that I do. Hope everyone has a safe and merry Christmas!

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 16, 2016 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Missions, Outreach, Personal | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting Ready for Haiti

1 Corinthians 6:20, 7:23

You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body... You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.

In a couple of days – I will be headed to Haiti with 17 other Christians.  My prayer is that I will remember these passages.  I have been bought and paid for by the blood of Christ.  Although I should try to take care of the temple (my body) in which the Spirit of God resides – I am God’s to do with as He pleases.  I thought I understood this before – but going way outside my comfort zone with this mission trip as brought it to mind in a different way.

If you didn’t know it – I’m a home body.  I love the good old USA and have no desire of my own to visit anywhere else.  My friend Charles has gone to Russia.  My friend David has been to Haiti six times.  Others have been all over the world.  My wife has expressed and interest in travel abroad.  My daughter and son are talking about adopting a child from China some day – and they would have to travel to China to make that adoption – halfway around the world.  Here I am – concerned about going a little south of Florida.

In my prayers I have decided to follow Jesus – wherever He leads me.  This may or may not be my only mission trip outside the USA.  Right now He is leading me to Haiti.  I’m still not sure how Jesus will use me – I don’t have building skills – I don’t speak French or Creole – I’m not a gifted teacher – I just love Jesus AND I have been bought and paid for by His shed blood – so I yield my life to Him.

While on this trip – I will try to find ways to post blogs each day.  I will be blogging and taking pictures and hoping to use something I enjoy to allow those back home to see what God is showing me.  I decided the cost of a global data phone was too great – so if I find Wi-Fi along the way – I will upload the posts – otherwise I will post them when I get back home.

What I will do is tweet (“RayMcDonald” is my Twitter name) through text message.  These will post to my Facebook (“RamonMcDonald” is my Facebook name) and Diane from the office will send them out by e-mail to the congregation.  With 140 characters I will try to share a glimpse of what God is showing me each day.

Thanks to all who donated and all who have signed up to pray for me while I am gone.  Call the office to sign up to be a prayer warrior – Harriette and the mission team at Mt. Oak have a chart for people to pray.  I’m sure the office will have a copy you can sign up on.

I may be the person going on the trip – but we are all going as the Body of Christ – reaching out to those in need.  Rev. Graves tells me the poverty will rival any I have ever experienced in the mountains of Appalachia (ASP mission trips I have gone on before).  My prayer is that God will use me on this trip to help someone see Jesus.  I pray my attitude – no matter the circumstances – will be a positive one – letting the light of Christ shine.  Happiness is circumstantially drive, while Joy is spiritually derived.  Lord – help me this week to make that more than a nice saying in the lives of those in Haiti.  May they see Jesus in me, through me, and in spite of me this week.  I appreciate your prayers.

Part of me wants to apologize to anyone who is tired of reading about Haiti on my blog – but it is what God is doing with me and I feel led to share it.  I pray that I will never be the same when I return.  I pray that God stretches me and in the remaining years of my life God gives me new and exciting ways to serve Him – since He owns me – bought by His shed blood!

Just something to think about today as you go on your way!

June 18, 2012 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Outreach | , , | 2 Comments

StreetReach Comments

Some things I have heard said or seen written about StreetReach this year.

Thanks to the youth who came to my yard.  They helped me more than words can express.

The FX service was wonderful.  Evan is just too funny!

The youth involved with StreetReach are fine young people and worthy of our thanks for representing Mt. Oak and our Lord in such fine fashion.

The youth really looked like they were having fun dancing before the Lord at the family service. They should create a dance troop.  We had one at my last church and the young people loved it.

I saw the green shirts in the streets and knew that Mt. Oak’s youth were out serving the community again.

As some leaders were leaving a meeting at 9:30 one night one leader said; it is so quiet, I wonder if the youth are so tired from serving all day they went to bed already.

As the pastor at Mt. Oak I am so proud of our youth and their leaders.  The heat has been terrible all week and yet they have worked hard serving Jesus.  I will try to get some pictures from some of their work sites tomorrow to show them in action.  I know the showers the other night took out a few tents and saw the sleeping bags drying in the sun.  The team has fought through the heat and the rain and keeps their smiles.  Thanks for letting Jesus shine in your, through you, and in spite of you!

July 13, 2011 Posted by | Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Outreach | , , | 2 Comments

My Desire is to Inspire – Digging Wells in Africa – by Jeris Bowlding

I had the privilege of attending the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta, GA, with some staff and leaders from Mount Oak Fellowship recently. Pastor Ray and Dione have always raved about the conference and I had to experience it for myself. In the past, every time I attended a church conference, God always restored and filled my soul. At Catalyst, God didn’t fill my soul; he put a passion for something I never thought about.

During one of the labs that I attended with Joan Adomanis, God used a guy by the name of Scott Harrison to stir up a new passion in my heart. Scott Harrison started a charity called, charity: water.  Charity: water is a non-profit organization that raises money that digs wells in countries that don’t have clean drinking water. 1 billion people in the world don’t have access to clean drinking water. That stat and the images shown stirred something in my heart. I turned to Joan and said, “I want to help!”

As soon as I got back home, I got online and went to www.charitywater.com and joined the cause. I will be working with My Desire is to Inspire to come up with a shirt to help bring awareness to this cause.  Its only takes $5,000 to dig a well in Africa. One well = provides drinking water for 500 people!  I want children to have the same opportunities that I had. Let’s change the world one well at a time! To donate to the cause, go to http://www.mycharitywater.org/mditi . I set my goal to raise $10,000 = 2 wells. I know that can happen.

Jeris Bowlding

October 12, 2010 Posted by | Community, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Leadership | , , , | Leave a comment

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