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

Anxiety – We Can Live Without It

Philippians 4:6

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Ray 2019What – if anything – are we anxious about today? Some of my friends have voiced anxiousness about retirement. Will they have enough money to last? When should they retire? Should they work after they retire? Should they travel or save? When should they start taking Social Security? Again – will they have enough money to last? I hear anxiety in their voices.

What – if anything – are we anxious about today? As some of my friends get older – I have heard anxiousness in some of their voices concerning their health. How long will they live – post retirement? What will their health be like? Should they get long-term care insurance? Should they or when should they move into assisted living quarters? Should they find one that is associated with longer-term care? I hear anxiety in their voices.

What – if anything – are we anxious about today? Some of the folks I talk to and some on Facebook have expressed anxiousness about the upcoming elections. Some say they know who they will NOT vote for and some say they will have a hard time voting for any of the current candidates (I’m struggling too). Some complain about the current President. Some complain about the candidates on the other side. I know 2020’e Presidential elections will bring many moments of anxiousness for some. Some haven’t gotten over the 2016 election. I hear anxiety in their voices. Continue reading

November 29, 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

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

Don’t Be Anxious

Philippians 4:6

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Don’t be anxious! Easier said than done. There are so many things that could make us anxious. The economy is one of them. For some – the market rising is a good thing – but so many are not invested in the market. For some – we might be nearing retirement and aren’t sure if we will be able to make ends meet. For some – we may have just lost a spouse and their pension and are having a hard time remaining where we are currently. I could go on and on – the economy could be cause for anxiousness.

Don’t be anxious! Easier said than done. There are so many things that could make us anxious. Our health is one of them. For some – we’ve never felt better. For some – we might be facing a disease that could threaten our life. For some – we might be currently limited in what we can do by our health issues. I could go on and on – health issues could be cause for anxious moments. Continue reading

December 13, 2017 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seeing Jesus Face-to-Face

1 Peter 5:7

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

I pulled this message from five years ago. I’ve reworked it some but basically it is the same. My father’s passing five years ago is part of what has me emotionally depleted today.

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

September 19, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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