Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Hide God’s Word In Your Hearts

Psalm 119:11

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

img_0063-2In a number of sermons I have mentioned that living for Jesus is enhanced – even made possible – through a deep knowledge of the Word of God. The more we know – the deeper we search the Word of God – the more useful a tool it will be for us in our spiritual journey. I once said – the more we use our Sword (our Bible) the more useful that tool becomes to us – so we encourage people to bring their Bibles to church and to follow along during the sermons. Today we can read our Bible on our smart phones and even follow along on www.Bible.com through our live events and leave notes on the sermons. There are so many tools available to us as we read the Bible.

Reading and storing up the Word of God in our heart – in our mind – is so important. Jesus resisted the Devil when he tempted Him by quoting the Word of God. Jesus was such a student of the Word of God that He knew when Satan was using it wrongly! Matthew 4:1–11 – 1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. Continue reading

January 29, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Social Media And The Tongue

James 3:6

The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

I have preached a number of sermons over the years on the danger of the tongue. I’ve also heard a number of sermons on gossip – on slander – and on idle conversations. I’ve heard teachings on being positive and not negative with our words. I’ve heard sermons on how words can hurt and how we should consider what we say before we say it. The old saying is so true – put your brain in gear before putting your tongue into action.

We’ve probably all heard this old saying – sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never harm me – yet words do hurt and can cause lasting pain. Verbal abuse is real abuse! Just because the bruises are not visually evident (at times) from verbal abuse doesn’t mean there hasn’t been real injury and real pain.

We should all think before we speak. Another saying about the tongue I’ve read – credited to Abraham Lincoln – goes like this – Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. Continue reading

August 15, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Evangelism – Our Next Sermon Series

Acts 5:42

Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.

20140530-104833-38913743.jpgSunday we begin a new sermon series titled simply – Evangelism – at First UMC in Laurel. The first sermon is titled Zeal.   I believe that one must has zeal in order to evangelize.

I remember once – a pastor that encountered this experience. He was called an Evangelical by someone – but did not know what this person meant by that name.

Here is a definition I found. The National Association of Evangelicals defines an evangelical as someone:

  • who believes that the Bible is authoritative
  • who has had a born-again experience
  • who shares this message of faith.

Continue reading

September 5, 2014 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Preach the Word

2 Timothy 4:2

Preach the word…

profileToday’s devotional thought is mainly for pastors but we can all get something out of it I hope. Pastors are given the following marching orders by God through Paul – Preach the Word. I have written on this passage numerous times – it is one of my favorite passages. 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.

The tension that some pastors feel and the thin line that some walk is preaching the word in a relevant way that stays with people without watering down or changing the word. Jesus taught using parables – examples that people would remember later and when they remembered the story – they might just remember the truth that He was trying to tell them.

Pastors are always searching for illustrations. Illustrations are stories they can use to make a point – to make the point the Scripture is trying to make relevant – remembered. Continue reading

May 20, 2014 Posted by | Church, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Weekly Article

Laser Focus

The next sermon series is titled Laser Focus.  The series will be about being focused on the important aspects of our spiritual journey.  Someone once said – Major in the majors and minor in the minors.  Too many times churches get caught up in the minor things of the faith and of being the church.  I want to present some of the things that I think are majors – essentials.

Focus on Repentance
Focus on God
Focus on Jesus’ Love
Focus on Hearing God
Focus on Serving God
Focus on Being the Church
Focus on Celebrating Jesus

This is not an all-encompassing list, but it is a start.  My hope is that we will focus like a laser on the things that make us the church of Christ – not the things that make us a good social club.

The church should make a difference in your life and in the life of those in the community around it.  The difference should be so powerful that if it were to cease to exist – people would notice.  They would miss the church because it impacted their lives – not simply the lives of those who attended it – but the lives of those who lived around it.

Twenty-eight pastors are retiring this year.  I do not know how many more years I will be in active ministry.  I do know that I do not want to merely pastor a church that is existing.  I want to be a part of a church that is making a difference in the community it serves and shares life with each day.  Is that your heart?  Do you want to attend a church that makes a difference?

Plan now to attend the series and see what God might have in store for you and your church.  The sermons will be on the web page if you miss any – but try not to miss – www.mtoak.org.

I would also encourage you to attend the Wednesday night video series.  We are viewing the 2009 Catalyst videos and they promise to provide some challenging thoughts and encouraging material.  We meet in the Sanctuary at 7 pm on Wednesday nights – after the evening fellowship meal.  The first night was a great teaching from Andy Stanley.  All who attended seemed to be blessed.

Catalyst 2009 – which ten from Mt. Oak attended in October in Atlanta – was a powerful conference and one I would recommend others attend in the years to come.  We purchased the DVD of the teachings and will review them and discuss them together on Wednesday nights.  You can read more on Catalyst on their website at:


Our vision is to reach the families of our community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We want to make a difference in your life and in the lives of our community.  What will you do to help us accomplish this wonderful vision?  How will you be instrumental in bringing about God’s will in our church?  Would you pray for God’s leading and for God’s call on your life?

January 21, 2010 Posted by | From the Pastor | | Leave a comment

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