Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

May We Only Boast in the Cross

Galatians 6:14

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Life ChangeDid your team win the National Championship in Division 1 basketball? Virginia won for the men. My cousin Mac went to Virginia and he was very happy. Did your team even make the dance? If so – how far did they go? My team – Maryland – made the dance and made it to the second round – but fizzled out. Did any of us boast on social media about our team? How about at work or in other conversations?

Did our team win their opening game in Major League Baseball this week? The Orioles usually do but didn’t this year. Which team will win their division this year – the league championship – the World Series? If our team is playing well – will we compare them to other teams and boast a little in our circles? The Orioles started out real well and had a few good games – but are losing as of late.

I saw some parents posting on Facebook about their children’s spring teams and some about their children’s scholastic achievements. I’m so proud of our youth and the youth I know. Some High School seniors I know are busy preparing for college or careers. Our new favorite college team might just be where our child attends – even if we never saw ourselves rooting for them before! Continue reading

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April 12, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Is Limiting Us Today?

Matthew 14:17

“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

Life ChangeWhat is limiting us today? What is keeping us from achieving our dreams and aspirations? What is it that is standing in our way? As we reach for the stars – what keeps us grounded rather than allowing us to fly? A favorite saying of mine goes like this – if we aim at nothing – we are bound to hit it.

What is limiting us today? What is keeping us from achieving our dreams and aspirations? What is it that is standing in our way? As I near retirement age (I just turned 64) – I keep telling my wife – my life-partner – I won’t retire until I know what I’m retiring to. I don’t want to retire from active full-time ministry until I know what God has for me in the next chapter of life. I have some dreams and aspirations – and I’m waiting to see what God has in store for me.

What is limiting us today? What is keeping us from achieving our dreams and aspirations? What is it that is standing in our way? How many new year’s resolutions have we made over the years? We’re into the 3rd month of 2019. Are we still holding to our resolutions for 2019? If not – what has limited us? What has blocked us from achieving the things we imagined for this year? Continue reading

March 6, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Judging a Book By the Cover

1 Samuel 16:7

The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

A number of people want to label people. They have a hard time seeing people as people – instead they lump them into categories. A number of people in the world judge a book by the cover.

For instance – some will look at a person’s age and assume they are too young or too old to accomplish a job or task. The United Methodist Church – for instance – has a mandatory retirement age (72). That doesn’t mean a person is no longer able to provide effective ministry – now does it? Shouldn’t a person’s effectiveness be the standard rather than an age?

Some will look at a person’s size or looks and assume they are not the person they want for the job. Can you think of occupations where looks count? The Naval Academy has physical standards – or at least they did. People had to have a certain height and weight and physical condition.

Israel used the eye test when it came to their king. Samuel – the prophet of God – used the eye test when selecting a king.  Yet – God looks not at the outward appearance – but rather the inside of a person – the heart – the inner person. Today’s passage tells us how God looks at people. Continue reading

January 8, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Maranatha! Come Lord – Come!

Luke 2:9

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

Life ChangeAs Advent comes to a close in the next few days – for yet another year – do we have a better grasp on its meaning? Advent is more than the period of time that begins with the fourth Sunday before Christmas and runs through Christmas Eve. It is more than merely a time of awaiting the coming of the baby Jesus in the manger. It is more than buying gifts and preparing for Christmas parties.

In the fourth century – when they began to celebrate Advent – it was also a time of remembering and waiting on the Lord’s return. The coming or return of the Messiah. Not just the babe in the manger – but the return of Christ – the ruling King.

Have you ever heard the term Maranatha? If you attend First Church (or any of the churches I have been blessed to serve in 40 plus years of ministry) you have heard it used numerous times in sermons and prayers. It is an Aramaic term that literally means – Come Lord – Come – and was often used to invite our Lord’s return. Continue reading

December 21, 2018 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

Please – Don’t Worry About Tomorrow

Matthew 6:34

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

fullsizeoutput_ffeThe 2016 elections are over (even though some are still talking about it). The 2018 mid-term elections have almost concluded (the are still counting in Florida and in other places). Your candidate either won or lost – your opinion was either in the majority or the minority on the questions on the ballot. You may agree or disagree that our nation is headed in the right or wrong direction. Many in the news and on Facebook have tried to project the future – with mixed projections. The market dropped dramatically right after the 2016 elections and has been on a roll for two years – reaching heights never before reached. It has been bumpy the last month or quarter – but we are still higher than anyone could have imagined. Some have predicted – or tried to predict the elections impact on the market. Some make a living looking into the future and trying to gauge how the elections impact the market.

Several of us who are closing in on retirement – say in the next 10 years or so – naturally peek into the future to see what the climate will be as that day approaches. We look at things like the housing market – our debt – the Dow Jones – our savings – the cost of living – and on and on the list might go. Looking to the future is not a bad thing – it is actually a wise thing. Dave Ramsey has many suggestions about savings and retirement. Look up some of his ideas here. Continue reading

November 15, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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