Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

A Day Of Rest?

Exodus 23:12

Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and so that the slave born in your household and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed.

I remember – as a child – our typical Sunday schedule was as follows. We would awaken (often I was awakened by my father’s typing out his sermon early in the morning) early – eat a light breakfast and attend morning worship and Sunday School at our local church. We would return home and share a full lunch together (often roast beef with vegetables – rolls – and mashed potatoes). This was a must family meal – even as we grew older. We would often take a nap after lunch (after we cleaned up of course). After our nap – we often would have a light dinner/supper and head to church again for the evening worship service (youth group too when we were of age).

Sunday was a day of worship and rest in our household. I believe our family practice was not typical of all church going families in the day – but more were following this pattern back in the day for sure. Today – it seems – Sunday is treated like any other day. Some may attend worship and Sunday School – but we shop – we work – we go out to dinner (making someone else work) – and we treat Sunday as any other day in the week it seems. Continue reading

July 11, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Prepare The Way For Christ

Matthew 3:3

“A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ ”

Many of us if not all of us have prepared for something important. Maybe it was a job interview. Maybe it was the season of time when we were preparing for college or marriage or a career. We have made plans and prepared for something in life that was important. Olympic athletes prepare a lifetime for their moment in the spotlight as they compete for their countries.

I remember when God laid on my heart the calling to be a pastor. In the denomination where I have served for 41 years – I needed a four-year college undergrad degree and a three-year Masters degree – all at accredited schools. I eventually also earned a Doctor of Ministry degree to further my education. Along with the educational requirements – which continue in the form of continuing education credits – I had to undergo examination after examination it seemed as I was first ordained a Deacon in the United Methodist Church and later ordained an Elder.

Some people my age are planning for or already into retirement. It takes planning and prep work for sure. Questions abound. Can we afford to retire? What will we do in retirement? Where will we live (some cannot afford to live where they lived while they were working and some want to downsize so they can spend more time doing other things)? It takes much prep work to retire. It actually takes a lot of prep work while we are working to make sure we can retire well. Continue reading

April 26, 2017 Posted by | Bring, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A True Leader Must Serve

Mark 10:43

Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,

RayMcDI had an amazing example growing up of a leader who served others. My father was a pastor – a leader of men and women – yet he was always found serving others. As I grew up – physically and spiritually – I always found my dad out in the yard working with the other men and women raking leaves in the fall. I usually found my father working in the kitchen or serving in the fellowship hall when church meals were being served. I remember seeing my dad taking the trashcan around picking up the trash during meals at church. I remember dad helping to mix concrete and carrying cinder blocks when the folks from our church were doing most of the work building the fellowship hall and Sunday school wing at the church. In short – where there was a need – you could find this leader of men and women serving. He had a servant’s heart. Nothing was beneath him. Continue reading

January 10, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Attitude: Leadership

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.

RayMcDAs a pastor with several decades of ministry under my belt – I believe I can say without fear of contradiction that the attitude of leaders in a church is essential. As a pastor I have witnessed some terrible attitudes among some of the leaders in the church (mine hasn’t been great all the time either – just saying).

Are we a glass half-full or a glass half-empty type of person? Do we see the good in things or the bad in things first? Are we a complainer or an encourager? Do we tend to think the worst of people and situations or the best? Come on now – let’s be honest.

We all know people who are half-empty types. We all know people who see the bad in every situation – first. We all know people who are complainers – who tend to see the worst in every situation (at times ignoring the good). At times we might all have that tendency! And – if we were honest – we would acknowledge that we don’t enjoy being around those type of people. If these people are leaders in a church – they can block the church from growing – they can block the Spirit’s work at times. They can stifle the Spirit with a bad attitude. Continue reading

January 4, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas Praises 27

Ephesians 5:20

always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

christmas-5During the month of December I have asked some members and friends of our church to write a paragraph or so describing some of the things that bring them joy this Christmas season in their relationship with Jesus and First Church? They were asked where they see Jesus in their church family? They were asked what draws them to First Church. The reason for this is to stir up some joy and excitement this Christmas Season. I told them I would share their thoughts anonymously – but I am keeping their e-mails for sure. I will try to post a comment a day for December so obviously I need 31 comments. The posts will go up around noon each day.

As I thought about our church, I began to think fondly on the past – thinking about the congregation’s commitment to stay on Main Street and to expand the building (not a small undertaking!) to support a growing congregation. I also thought about more nostalgic events such as Mr. Elmer Harding being the voice of Christmas, the children’s pageants, the way that our VBS program touches the children and families of Laurel, the amazing ham luncheons and those wonderful open arms that welcomed me to First Church and always beckoned me to stay.

As I continued thinking about First Church I began to think about the present – and our choir and praise teams and how much I enjoy how they share the Word. I thought about how many adults participate in Adult Bible Study classes (there is always room for more!) and how I’ve always thought that was awesome and remarkable! I love our involvement in programs such as Kairos, Winterhaven, Angel Tree (and many more) that help members of our greater community. I also thought about how many people work so very hard to keep our church functioning and looking great.

Continuing to think about First Church, I became filled with praise for what the future holds for our congregation and our community. There is so very much for us to be thankful for and so very many ways we can be the hands and feet of Christ to feed, cloth, minister to and share the love of Christ with all in need! My prayer for each and every one of us is that, individually and as a body of Christ, the simple joy and excitement of knowing Christ would be evident and an inviting beacon for all to see.

I praise the Lord for the testimony. I hope that it brings those who read it great joy. Merry Christmas to one and all.

December 27, 2016 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Missions, Outreach, Personal | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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