Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

The Week After Easter

Psalm 119:147

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.

Life ChangeEaster 2019 has come and gone. Lent was a powerful time this year for me. Holy Week was amazing. I loved the Seder meal and the Good Friday service. Easter Sunrise service is always special for me – I’ve only missed one in my adult life that I can remember. I loved sharing that time with my father when possible. I loved the hill behind Mt. Zion with the benches and three crosses and the sun rising over the hill – the pavilion at Mt. Oak (with the cross in the field) – and the prayer garden at First Church – just to name the last three churches I’ve served. Each holds many special memories.

On Easter morning I usually arise around 4 am. Sunrise this year was at 6:20 am so we started our service at 6 am. I know that some of our men and women – some of my friends – wake that early or earlier on a regular basis. One of my son-in-laws gets up that early most every day to go to work. It is not my usual time to rise though. As a matter of fact – there have been nights I haven’t gone to sleep until that time! My normal time to rise is 6:00 am or thereabouts. By that time we were starting worship on Easter morning. It was a powerful morning – we had a great time worshiping God. We invited other churches and the community to join us. The sun rising will remind us that the Son rose. Continue reading

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

This Too Is Part Of The Grieving Process

1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

This too is part of the grieving process. A few years ago – I wrote this blog post and this morning it came to mind as I was sitting in the presence of God. I miss my dad so much (and mom too). I hope this devotional touches someone. If it doesn’t – it touched me – so it has served its purpose. It brought fresh tears to my eyes and it is part of my grieving process – nearly 6 years later.

– – – – – – – –

As I sit in the hospital room with my dad my thoughts are scattered.  I know I need time to grieve. I know my emotions are on edge. I know that just the sight of my in-laws this morning followed by my father’s brother brought tears to my heart – for them and for me. Did I say I know I need time to grieve? I know that working helps me grieve and helps control my emotions at the same time. I have thoughts like: what will I do without my father? Who will I turn to with my many questions in life? As the oldest son – the oldest patriarch of the family – what does that mean? Why can’t I be strong for the family and friends? Why must I be so emotional? What will my mom do without dad? What about my sister and brother and the grand/great children? What about my wife, my sister-in-law and my brother-in-law? My brother-in-law has been like a son to dad and has cared for him like his own father – and we cried in each other’s arms last night at the hospital! My mind races to the next steps. Should we have a private burial followed by a memorial service? Should we have a fellowship meal? Where will we hold the service? Who would we ask to help – there are so many pastors in the family – pastors dad influenced – pastors that know him and us? What funeral home will we use – we have such a good relationship with so many? Should we call Hospice Care? Is dad really comfortable? Can he still hear me pray with him? How many angels can dance on the head of a needle? These are just a few of the things running through my head. If you have been where I am right now – you know the many thoughts that are going through my mind. Continue reading

July 12, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our Labor For The Lord Will Not Be In Vain

1 Corinthians 15:58

Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

I’m back from my staycation. For the last two weeks I have taken some time off to relax and reflect. If you missed our weekday postings – I’m back! If you didn’t miss them – you probably aren’t reading this anyway.

Yesterday I was honored to be asked to return to my home church – Mt. Zion UMC in Lothian – MD. As a child – a couple of months old – my family moved to Mt. Zion (MZ). My father followed his father as the pastor of MZ (granddad died mid year and the Bishop called my father to take his place). I lived in the parsonage of this church until I was 9 – the pastor’s son. We returned often to this base church because my grandmother – who lived with our family after her husband’s passing until she built her own home. She still lived in the community (next door to the parsonage) after we left for another church.

It was about 18 years later that a new Bishop appointed me to MZ. I thought it would be neat to return to the church where my grandfather (3 years) served and my father (9 years) served. Little did I know that Carolyn and I were to spend the next 24 years serving in this church community. We were blessed by our time together. We stayed in touch with MZ over the years because other family members remained at this church after we left. They live in the community and so do we.

It has been about 10 years since we left MZ as pastor and so returning yesterday was a blessing. There were some familiar faces present as well as some new ones. We were warmly welcomed. I thank the pastor who followed us and ministered to MZ for 10 years for allowing us to return – Rev. William (Bill) Herche (retired). Continue reading

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

From November 5, 2008

Colossians 3:13-14

13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

RayMcDI am trying to wrap my brain around all of the unrest at the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President. I know when we talk politics in America – we can get down right nasty toward one another – even it seems – in the church. I know that neither candidate this time around were ideal candidates – IMHO. I know that both had major issues with their morals and ethics. Many said they had to vote for the lesser of two evils – not a good place to be in as we elect the President of the United States.

On November 5, 2008 – I write the below blog post. It was a tough time in our nation as we elected the first president of color. There was unrest after that election as well – although I don’t remember the protests and riots that we are seeing this year. I pray the protests settle and soon we will begin – especially as the church – praying for president-elect Donald Trump. I know he comes with loads of baggage and many are having a lot of pain and anguish at his election. I pray he does a good job. Remember – I supported neither candidate. Here is what I wrote in 2008. Continue reading

November 16, 2016 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vision and Mission at Mt. Oak Fellowship – Part 1

Proverbs 29:18

Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; NIV

Where there is no vision, the people perish: KJV

Where there is no revelation – no vision – the people will throw off restraint – they will perish.  As humans – most need direction – focus.  Most cannot wander aimlessly through life.

A church family is no different.  If we aimlessly meet – week after week – without vision – we will find ourselves – twenty years later – in the same place.  We need focus – we need vision – we need a direction.

For this reason – the leadership at Mt. Oak – prayerfully discerned a direction – a vision for our church family.  We looked around us – in the community around our physical location – and discerned that there was a problem.  Some was amiss – something that the church could not sit by and watch without taking some action.

The Problem – as we saw it – is: Families are under attack.  When we say families are under attack we mean the fabric of the families in our community are under severe pressure.  Marriages – even marriages in the church family – are failing at an alarming rate.  Marriage – even when they do not end in divorce – is often dysfunctional.  Children are being abused.  Singles and marrieds are under pressure to follow the ways of the world.  Finances continue to be a major issue in the family – married or single households.  And I could continue.

We believe that the church should be a place where the family can find safety and godly support.  We are striving to become a family church – where God is glorified.

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

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April 11, 2011 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Vision | , , , | Leave a comment


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