Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Following Jesus Is Easy And Hard!

Matthew 16:24

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

Following Jesus is easy and hard at the same time.

It is easy – because God has done all the work to provide salvation for all who would receive it. Ephesians 2:8-9 – 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

It is hard – because we must continually fight our human – sinful – nature. Psalms 51:5 – Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. The sin nature is something that Christ came to control if not destroy in us. 2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! I have often said the old has gone – as Christ comes into our lives – but it hasn’t gone far. Continue reading

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February 6, 2018 Posted by | Bring, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, Fast, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christ Came To Save Sinners

1 Timothy 1:15

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.

It won’t be long and March Madness with be upon us. I’m not certain my favorite college team – the Maryland Terps – will be in it this year. They have not played very well of late.

The competitive juices begin flow in almost everyone during March Madness. Even if a person doesn’t like or follow sports in general – they often get excited in the office place (and on Facebook) for their alma mater (go Terps!).

I wonder – have we ever had a competitive spirit about following Christ? I mean – have we ever thought of giving our very best effort – spending a day or a lifetime – seeking His face and desiring His grace? Have we ever gone out of our way to connect with others around our faith? With numerous Lenten season events happening at First UMC in Laurel – it would be a great opportunity to invite someone to join us. Continue reading

February 1, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Valentine’s Day Is Coming Brothers!

Ephesians 5:25

Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. The Message

Valentine’s Day is just 19 days away. This is a warning devotional for men who might need the reminder. After 38 years with my wife I write with some experience. What do we plan to do this year men? Traditionally this is a holiday where men are supposed to show their love and affection for the women in their lives. So men – what do we have planned? If nothing is planned yet – this is our warning to get something planned – ASAP. The following are some thoughts. If you are a wife reading this – you might want to print it for the man in your life!

In The Message – we read from Paul’s Epistle today’s passage: Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Continue reading

January 26, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pressing Onward

Philippians 3:14

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

So how’s our new year going? Are we still holding true to any resolutions we might have made? Or have they all fallen by the wayside just one week into the new year? I pray we can hold out and even continue some resolutions for the whole year.

Did you decide to read the Bible everyday? I have a couple of reading plans on my schedule. I would suggest a reading plan on your phone or computer and I would suggest some reading partners to discuss what you read. A weekly Bible study would be good to with others.

I’ll be 63 this year. Forced retirement in the United Methodist Church is 72 so I have 9 years left in active full-time ministry (unless I retire early). My plan at this time is to retire early – maybe by 65 or so. Believe it or not – retirement takes some planning – some goal setting. We not only need a financial plan – we need a plan about what we will do everyday – for the rest of our lives. Some of my plans include yard work – a honey do list – playing more golf – helping a church in some way – traveling with my wife (and family at times) – and taking up hunting again. This is not an all-inclusive list – but a sample plan. Continue reading

January 3, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Should Ooze Jesus!

Ephesians 3:20

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

In my younger days – one of my first jobs was as a Soda Jerk. People loved to order an ice cream cone from me because I gave them a good measure for their money (the pharmacist approved of my methods). A single scoop cone always got a scoop pushed into the cone before a scoop was applied to the top. Nothing worse than an empty cone! I worked at Pink’s drugstore on West Street a block away from my home on Locust Avenue in Annapolis.

One of the reasons I write weekday devotional thoughts is to give the members of the congregations I serve and have served and others more than just Sunday morning theology. I think we need to be digging into Jesus every day – not just on Sunday – and my hope is that these daily thoughts help to trigger something inside us to want immeasurably more from our relationship with Jesus. I try to use everyday ideas and thoughts to connect us with some spiritual thought for the day so that our hearts are pricked to think more about Jesus (let me know if they help). Continue reading

November 7, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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