Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Pretend or Real?

Romans 13:14

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

Ray 2019I remember playing pretend as a child. My brother and I would dress up like soldiers and play Combat! It was fun to pretend. I was usually Sergeant “Chip” Saunders – played by Vic Morrow on the show. I even had a plastic machine gun to complete the ensemble. I remember I had an army canteen and an army backpack (for my sandwiches for lunch). My brother and I would make adventures in the sand dunes between our house and our grandmother’s home. It was fun playing make believe. When we got a little older we would play in the woods or even in the cemetery next door to the parsonage. It was great fun pretending.

I remember a recent week of VBS at First UMC of Laurel. The theme that summer was having great adventures – Rolling River Rampage. The children had a blast. They had great adventures on the river and learned about Jesus. They imagined a number of adventures on the river. We collected funds to support those devastated by the rising river in Ellicott City.

They learned that some adventures are imaginary – and some are real – like walking with Jesus can be an adventure – but it is for real! We learned that following Jesus – who died to pay for our sins and to allow us into a right relationship with God the Father – can be a great adventure too. We were also encouraged to tell others of our excitement – being in an adventure with Jesus. Continue reading

December 16, 2019 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let No Hate Enter Our Hearts

2 Timothy 4:2

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.

Ray 2019Paul – an Apostle – told a young pastor – Timothy – to preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Timothy 4:2) Paul also wrote these words to Timothy – 2 Timothy 3:16–17 – 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God  may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Paul urges Timothy – and us – to adhere to God’s Word at all times. All parts of God’s Word should be adhered too. Even the parts that we don’t agree with – maybe even more so those parts. It is easy to follow what we agree with – but hard when we don’t.

I’m not a young pastor nor am I an Apostle – but the Word of God – as I read it – tells me to love one another – to not hate anyone. I see far too much hatred in the world – and at times – sadly – from folks claiming to be Christians. Just check out the anger expressed in the 2020 election season or the 2020 General Conference in May.

We’re told to hate sin – we’re told to love others. We’re told to love God more than anything or anyone. Matthew 10:37 – Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Continue reading

December 13, 2019 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Can’t We Just Get Along?

Philippians 2:10

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth

Life ChangeIt seems that it is getting harder and harder to live at peace with folks. From politics to religion to sports to how we raise our children – people differ in their opinion and seem to have a hard time expressing themselves without anger and attitudes. On top of that – some people seem to have a hard time dealing with a differing opinion. We’ve lost the art of debate and disagreement. It seems many among us cannot disagree without being disagreeable. Why can’t we just get along?

This seems to be the case in the political world for sure. After eight years of a President popular with one segment of the country and hearing the other side complain – I can’t remember the same venom I am hearing today with the current President. The previous President could do no wrong – it seemed – with the media. This President cannot seem to do anything right – according to the reports in the media (most of the media). I have witnessed families and friends have issues because of which way they voted in the 2016 Presidential elections. The country is very divided – red and blue – right and left – ideologically. We’ll see what 2020 brings. Why can’t we just get along?

This same thing is happening in our denomination – with some not being able to accept a differing view (I understand that at times the differences are so great it is hard if not impossible to harmonize the differences – but we shouldn’t be angry or hateful toward those that hold a differing view). The far left has one theology and the far right has another – and not only can they not agree on their theology – we’re having a hard time agreeing on pastoral ministry. We’ll see what 2020 brings. Why can’t we just get along? Continue reading

October 31, 2019 Posted by | Bring, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Are Being Watched!

Exodus 34:29
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amWhat brings a smile to your face? Of course the first answer I would give these days is spending time with my grandchildren (and children). We now have five grandchildren with a sixth on the way (sooner rather than later we hope).

Another thing that would being a smile to my face would be a long winning streak by the Baltimore Ravens or Washington Redskins (even a win would be great at times). Didn’t the Ravens play a great game yesterday? They have a two game lead in their division and the Redskins finally won a game. The Nationals are 2-0 in their playoff series. If they win two more games – they will be headed to the World Series. Now that will bring some smiles to area fans. If the Orioles could make improvement each year – that would bring a smile to our faces.

Still another reason to smile might be time spent with my wife. I could get very pastoral here (and truthful) and say a smile comes across my face when a person receives Jesus Christ – when the light comes on for them in their personal relationship with Jesus. Other things bring a smile to my face as well (like when my friend makes a good shot in golf and gets excited about it). When we see someone with a smile on their face we usually think something just happened and we tend to be curious.

How about when people notice you have lost weight? Better yet – when they say something encouraging to you (if losing weight was what you were after). I remember when one of my daughters greeted me with a hug and she said – getting skinny dad – as she wrapped her arms around me? What about someone saying something about your new hairdo or your new dress (or suit)? How about the smell of your favorite food – or freshly baked bread – or bacon frying (that one always brings a smile to my face)? Continue reading

October 14, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Turn To Jesus Daily

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,

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amDear readers – have you ever been down? Being down doesn’t mean you are depressed – but it does mean that some things are not going your way. It can lead to depression if not headed off for sure.

If you’re a sports fan – maybe you get down when your favorite team loses (like a Redskin fan this year or the Raven fans the last two weeks). If you work outside the home – maybe you get down when you have a hard day with work or those you work with or serve. If you work from home – maybe the children have had a bad day and that gets you down or some other issue has arisen.

Have you ever been down? As a pastor I try to help people when they are down. I have worked with addicts who are battling for sobriety – and at times that can get us down. I have worked with folks in broken relationships – and we all know that can get us down. I have worked with fellow pastors who have had trouble in their places of service – and I know what that feels like and believe me – it can get you down. I know that I have had times of near depression or maybe even depression – while working on my own issues or helping others work on their issues. Continue reading

September 30, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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