Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

A Call to Holiness

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.”

Rays HaircutThese are uneasy times. The unrest is hitting all-time highs it seems. Today’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). We are called to do this in good times and in not so good times. It might even be more needed during tough times.

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. Does your pastor invite you to the altar to pray? If not – you might ask them why not.

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 – some don’t like to even say that word).  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. How do you spend your Sunday? Continue reading

June 19, 2020 Posted by | Bring, 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

Allow the Holy Spirit to Connect with Our Spirit

Romans 8:27

And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

Rays HaircutDuring this pandemic – many of us have probably been speechless at times. There have probably been times when we just couldn’t imagine what we are facing or will face in the future. I know there have been times when I couldn’t express myself and I simply let out a roar or primitive scream. I know some parents and some children have had some new experiences around the house – out of school for so long or trying to learn new skills with online learning.

During this pandemic – many of us miss gathering for worship. I spoke today on the phone with a number of our folks and to the person they asked me – pastor – when will we be able to meet at our church again? Several have been able to view our services online – but others have not been able to do so. I think we’ll ask those seniors if they had DVD players and cut a few with several weeks of worship on them. Continue reading

May 12, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Encouragement Is Very Important

1 Thessalonians 5:11

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Rays HaircutEncouragement is very important. There are many persons in the families of our church and community who have known very little encouragement in their lives. They have been raised in families where discouragement was the focus – with very little – if any – love or encouragement. Families where more fuss was made over a grade of B in one class rather than the grades of A in all of the other classes. Families where the small mistake was made to be larger than the overall good job done.

Discouragement in the church is also a tool that the devil uses. Someone does a tremendous job with a program and the first thing someone says is something that didn’t go right. Worship was awesome and a person points out the one thing that didn’t go well – first.

It isn’t that we shouldn’t try to improve one another – we’re actually called to do that in Scripture. What I’m questioning is the attitude and timing. Read Revelation where Christ instructs John to write to the seven churches. In those passages Christ always affirms where He can affirm – encourages – before He gives corrective instruction. Continue reading

April 21, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 24 of Lent 2020

John 13:34

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

Ray 2020Today is day 24 of the 40 Days of Lent reading plan. I hope we have all kept up with the reading plan. If not – please catch up by reading the days you might have missed. Lent is the 40 days leading up to the cross of Calvary. Stay current with the reading plan.

Today’s reading is again about the Last Supper. It has a lot in it. Make sure you read the whole reading below.  The verse I picked to reflect upon is near the end of the reading for the day – verse 34. Jesus said – A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. We are called to love others – one another – as Christ loved us. The example of His love was just foretold as He talked about His betrayal and death. Jesus’ love is even for those who would turn against Him – if they repent and return to Him. He even loved us – Scripture says – before we loved Him.

Something to think about today. How well do we love one another? How about the neighbor who plays their music late into the night – loudly (or early in the morning)? How about the undocumented or illegal person down the street? What about the person whose sexual preference doesn’t match yours? What about the person who votes for a candidate you can’t stand? What about the person who has hurt you or your family? What about the dictator of a country who seems bent on causing war? How about the person or government behind the coronavirus pandemic? What about the x-spouse who has caused you nothing but pain? Yes – we are to love even these. We are not called to ignore sin or pain. We are called to love one another – like Christ loves us! Continue reading

March 24, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 11 of Lent 2020

Matthew 4:1

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.

Ray 2020Today is day 11 of the 40 Days of Lent reading plan. I hope you are enjoying the reading plan as it walks us through some of the events in Jesus’ life as He walked to the cross. Lent is the 40 days leading up to the cross. My prayer is that God will draw us into a deeper relationship with Him during this Lenten season.

Here’s today’s reading – it is about Jesus’ temptations. We’ve taught and preached about temptations. Join us on Tuesdays at 10:30 am and 7:00 pm for our Bible Studies and on Sunday mornings for our worship services at 8:30 am and 11:00 am at First Church at 424 Main Street – in Laurel, Maryland. There is always room for one more and we would love to share with you. We also have education time (commonly called Sunday School) at 9:45 am on Sundays for the whole family. We have 5 adult classes during this time. Continue reading

March 9, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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