Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

There Are Eyes All Around

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.

Rays HaircutI often ask this question. What brings a smile to your face? Of course the first answer I would give these days is spending time with my grandchildren (and children) (although I don’t get to do it as often as I’d like with this pandemic). We now have five grandchildren with a sixth on the way (sooner rather than later we hope) (adoption in process).

Another thing that would being a smile to my face would be the opening of the golf courses in the area. And as always – long winning streaks by my favorite teams (the Baltimore Ravens – Washington Redskins – Baltimore Orioles – and Washington Nationals). Didn’t the Ravens play great last season – except for the playoffs? The Nationals went all the way and won the World Series. That was great to watch. I hope we get to see the Orioles winning again on a regular basis like when I was growing up. You know what would 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. She is the very best people. I don’t deserve her for sure. I definitely married up.

I could get very pastoral (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

May 5, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Old Time Faith – Is It Outdated?

Matthew 28:18–20

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amToday’s presenting scripture has been called the the Great Commission. It is often seen as the marching orders for the Christian church. We are called to go and make disciples of or for Jesus Christ (whichever makes the most sense to you – lol). In the early years of the Methodist movement – making disciples – followers of Christ – seemed to be the main focus. Revivals and Camp Meetings were all the rage and altar calls were common place in Methodist worship – as pastors challenged parishioners to be transformed after the likeness of Christ. I typically have an altar call each week to challenge those in attendance to faith – or to a deeper faith – or simply to pray about something that has been a challenge for them.

Early Methodists were called to holiness – they were part of the holiness movement in the United States for instance. We were taught to study the Word of God (the Bible) and to strive to live our lives after what it taught. We were even encouraged to avoid some of the ills of our society. The way it was explained to me (as a third generation Methodist pastor) – Methodists were encouraged to abstain from alcohol – from playing cards – from dancing – even from playing pool. The reason – again as it was explained to me – was because these social activities were often associated with bars and night clubs – with gambling and behavior and places that were not appropriate for folks striving to follow after Christ. We were encouraged to avoid even the appearance of evil or sin (we actually called behavior contrary to God’s will – sin).  We were encouraged to keep Sunday set aside for the Lord. In my home growing up – Sunday was a day for worship and Sunday School in the morning – a family lunch – a nap time – youth group – and worship in the evening. Sunday was a day set aside for being with God and with other Christians.

Correct me if I am wrong – but – I just don’t see the United Methodist Church of today – in many places – in many churches – as part of the holiness movement any longer. I rarely hear or read about the UMC calling people to Scriptural holiness. I rarely hear about revivals and camp meetings or Sunday or Wednesday night services. What I often hear – even from some of our clergy and Bishops – is a caving to social norm – to the sin of society. I hear tolerance preached and taught rather than holiness. It seems like we are trying to be popular rather than faithful. I hope I’m not being too harsh. Correct me if I am wrong or being too harsh – please. Continue reading

September 9, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Holy Week – Let’s Focus on Jesus

Colossians 3:2

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Life ChangeYesterday – Palm Sunday – we began Holy Week. This is the week before Jesus’ crucifixion. Thursday will be Holy or Maundy Thursday. We will remember the Lord’s Supper this year with a Seder Meal. It will be a powerful experience and we hope all who signed up to attend will indeed be able to attend.

Friday – this week – is Good Friday. As a young child I couldn’t figure out why it was called Good Friday if it was the day that Jesus died. Later I realized that it was called Good Friday because it was good for us that He died – to pay for our sins. We will have a service at 7 pm in the Sanctuary as we continue our walk to the cross with John’s Gospel account. It is very important that we all attend the Good Friday service. Change your plans to be here – if you weren’t planning to attend. Sunday – Easter morning – will not have the same meaning without attending worship on Good Friday. I promise you! Let’s set our minds on Jesus – and see what will happen. Continue reading

April 15, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Remain Faithful

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Life ChangeGod’s grace is amazing as the song – Amazing Grace – records (isn’t that one of your favorite older hymns?).  One of the best promises in the Bible – IMHO (in my humble opinion) – is this one about the forgiveness of sins. We are all sinners in need of God’s grace and forgiveness. Today’s passage speaks of God’s desire to forgive. 1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Most of us have experienced deals before – like if you do something – I will do something. As children I remember getting notes passed in school – with if you like me – I will like you. As adults we learn that if we work at a certain job – the boss will pay us a certain paycheck. I’m sure we can all come up with if you I will life experiences. We have one in today’s passage when we’re told if we confess our sins – He will forgive our sins. Continue reading

January 29, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mountain Top Experiences

Isaiah 6:3

And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.

Have you ever had a mountain top experience? As a child I remember going camping with the family. We often went to Skyline Drive. At times we used a tent. After a few years dad and mom bought a Shasta trailer. We enjoyed the great outdoors. We had many mountain top experiences.

When we drove to our campgrounds along Skyline Drive we would often pull over at some of the overlooks – where we could get a glimpse of the beautiful mountains. The mountains – God’s creation – are real treasures to me. Being from West Virginia – I can remember many mountain top experiences as we traveled the roads back home. The glory of God is seen in nature – for me – more than anywhere else I think! Continue reading

October 9, 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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