Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Easter Is Everyday!

Romans 8:1

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

Life ChangeEaster has come and gone for another year. Churches were packed Sunday from sunrise services through regular and extra worship services. Some of my colleagues had to hold Easter services off-sight for a variety of reasons. Some wanted to reach the unchurched and thought off-site might be the best way to do this.  Some would have had to hold so many services in their current facilities that it made sense to go off-site to a larger facility. Some for both reasons and maybe some others as well. I imagine that some saw larger crowds than they will see all year until Easter next year – April 12th.

If their attendance was anything like I have experienced over the years – although there were some visitors – like family visiting for the long holiday weekend – folks looking for a church or simply the C&E folks (Christmas and Easter) – mostly the higher attendance is a product of the regular folks all attending on the same Sunday. Sadly – studies show that regular for some means once or twice a month – something less than most every Sunday. When attendance on a regular Sunday is say 75 and on Easter it blossoms to 125 with only 10 visitors – that suggests that if your regulars were more regular – your normal attendance might be closer to 115 than 75. Continue reading

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April 23, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Keep Me from Stumbling

Jude 1:24

To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—

Ray 2018We’ve all had moments when we’ve stumbled and fallen. I’m thinking about it more these days – as I age. A friend from our church fell Sunday morning and he was examined for cracked ribs (he had one and we pray for his healing).

Falling down steps seems to be a big issue as we age. I have a long flight of steps from my home office (upstairs) to the main part of the house. I often think about how fast I take them (coming down). With my knees ailing – I try to not take them too fast while carrying things. At times that can’t be avoided. I have been known to take them one step at a time when I am carrying things though. I pray – Lord – keep me from stumbling.

A brother in Christ – who spoke at our church recently – fell down some stairs at his church and messed up both of his knees. We’re still praying for his healing – his surgery is scheduled for today. It made me even more aware of stumbling and falling. Continue reading

September 11, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Easter Has Come And Gone – Or Has It?

Romans 8:1

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

Easter has come and gone for another year – or has it? Churches were packed Sunday from sunrise services through regular and extra worship services. Some of my colleagues had to hold Easter services off-sight for a variety of reasons. Some wanted to reach the unchurched and thought off-site might be the best way to do this. Some would have had to hold so many services in their current facilities that it made sense to go off-site to a larger facility. Some for both reasons – and maybe some others as well. I imagine that some saw larger crowds than they will see all year until Easter is celebrated again next year.

If their attendance was anything like I have experienced over the years – although there were some visitors – like family visiting for the long holiday weekend – folks looking for a church or simply the C&E folks (Christmas and Easter) – mostly the higher attendance is a product of the regular folk all attending on the same Sunday. Sadly – studies show that regular for some means once or twice a month – something less than most every Sunday. When attendance on a regular Sunday is say 75 and on Easter it blossoms to 125 with only 10 visitors – that suggests that if your regulars were regular – your normal attendance might be closer to 115 than 75. Continue reading

April 4, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Keeping The Sabbath Holy

Deuteronomy 5:14

…but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do.

Growing up stores were all closed on Sundays – the Christian Sabbath Day. People generally went to worship God in the morning – came home to eat a family meal – rested for the next week’s work load (dad called them siestas – a nap taken in the heat of the day) – had family time – ate supper together – went back to church for youth group followed by evening worship.

Today – many – even Christians – treat Sundays as any other day. Oh – some might come to worship on Sunday mornings – maybe evening Sunday School – but many treat the rest of the day as any other day. They shop – they go out for a meal – they cut their lawns – they wash their cars – they clean the house – and more. They buy and sell on the Sabbath – even in the church building. They go to work on the Sabbath as if it is any other day. Continue reading

May 24, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas Praises 16

Luke 2:10

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

christmas-16During 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.

Christmas to me is the time to hope for a new beginning and a time of renewal which is what brings much joy to me. It is the time when God reminds all of His great love for us and how powerful it was that He sent his only son to remind us how much He gave to humanity: The gift of giving. First Church has become home to me over the last two years since I recently moved here from far away. No matter what happens outside of church, the congregation has always felt welcoming and inviting to me. Although it doesn’t take a Christmas for us to celebrate Jesus, He continues to thrive in our church family. We see Him every Sunday when we hear the pastor’s sermons, the worship team performing music, the technicians who operate the board, the janitor who keeps the place clean, and the administration. Also, we see it when the volunteers who work tirelessly to carry out God’s plans through missions and those are gifts we sometimes may overlook. It is a Christmas miracle in itself every Sunday because every single person who attends First United Methodist church could be anywhere in the world at that moment, but still find the time to worship in the most hectic of times. As long as we continue to give back in someway to Christ and others, that is what the Christmas spirit is all about. I pray that those who read this can find the great joy that I do. Hope everyone has a safe and merry Christmas!

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 16, 2016 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Missions, Outreach, Personal | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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