Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Time Flies

Psalm 39:4

Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is.

Time flies. I’ve had a few dreams of late – really sound sleep and the dreams come when I sleep soundly. Some of them have been about the past – about some of the good and not so good times in my life. The main point I’ve taken away from them is that time flies. We do not have very long on this sphere we call earth. We need to use every day to the best of our ability and try to take good care of our bodies so God can use us for His purposes while we are here.

Today’s passage tells us that life is fleeting. Our days are numbered and life is fleeting – here on earth. Life is short here – but eternal with God or without God. We must yield to God here in order to live eternally with Him in heaven. Continue reading

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April 18, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our Righteousness Is Like Filthy Rags

Isaiah 64:6

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

It is that time of the year when house cleaning takes place. My wife was washing windows and I was cleaning screens – trying to get some airflow during the recent three days of warmth and sunshine (we had the screens out for the winter). I need to clean out the garage again. My wife likes a clean garage. Argue as I might that a garage is not meant to be clean – she won’t buy it. We have a friend – her name is Nancy – and her garage was always perfectly ordered. My father-in-law’s garage too (that is where Carolyn got the idea of a clean garage I guess – you know – where there are outlines on the wall for EVERYTHING!).

When I clean out my garage – I always come across dirty rags. I use them for cleaning up most anything and at times they are not thrown away quickly enough for sure. I found one recently that was soaking wet with oil – with dirt – with dust – etc. Whenever I pick up dirty – filthy rags – today’s passage comes to mind. Continue reading

April 17, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Our Labor Is Not In Vain

1 Corinthians 15:58

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

As I approach retirement years – I often reflect on my 40 plus years of ministry and my 63 years (so far) of life. I wonder if my years of ministry – my labor for the Lord – has been in vain or if it has had any lasting impact on those we have served with over the years. I also look at my three grown daughters – my two son-in-laws – and now my five granddaughters – and wonder if my legacy with the family will have any lasting impact on their lives – for the good of course. Am I the only one that thinks this way?

One thing I’ve tried (and often failed at) over the years – was to be consistent – to stand firm for what was right – for what was Biblical. I’ve sinned my share of sins – I’m not talking about being perfect or anywhere near it. What I mean is I’ve tried to set a bar or a standard where others could see what I believed – and maybe see my attempt to follow Jesus. I tried to not sway with the wind or the social norms (yet at times I sinned and fell short of that goal). None of us want our labor to be in vain. Continue reading

April 16, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Do We Mention In Our Prayers?

1 Thessalonians 1:2

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers.

So – in our prayer life – whom do we mention? The typical nighttime prayer for a child is – God bless mommy and daddy – God bless my brother and sister – and maybe the child might add – God bless my grandma and granddad and my doggy too. We might add prayers for someone sick – for world peace – for that new job we are starting Monday – and other items on our plate. We might even praise God for simply being God. But what about praying for our enemies or for those whom we disagree with – even on important issues?

My family has four continuous generations of Methodist/United Methodist pastors. We are heaped in Wesleyan theology and practice. Over the last four plus decades (a time that has encompassed my entire time as an ordained minister) – the divide between the left and the right leaning positions in the church has grown. We have debated the Bible and the Book of Discipline (the two rule books of the church). General Conference after General Conference has dealt with numerous issues where the two extremes have differed. Even as we prepare for yet another battle at the special General Conference of 2019 – the two sides are opposed to one another and at different places in theology and practice. The future of the unity in the UMC is at stake. We are facing schism and more. Some are outwardly definite to the Bible’s teaching and the instructions of the Book of Discipline and the Judicial Council of the church. Continue reading

April 13, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Search Our Hearts Dear Lord!

Psalm 139:23

Search me, God, and know my heart;

Who is it that knows you better than any other? That might be a curious question and the Sunday School answer would be Jesus for sure. But think about it for a moment. If you’re married – as I have been for nearly 38 years – your spouse might know you pretty well. If your children have any age on them – mine are 35 and nearly 30 (twins) – they might know you pretty well. If you worked in the same place for a few decades – your co-workers might know you pretty well too. Your parents – if they are still alive – might know you pretty well also.

Unless we are hermits – there are those in our life who know us pretty well. Well enough in some cases to guess how we will react to certain things – or even finish our sentences (isn’t that scary?). I perform a lot of funerals and often friends and family have some of the same stories about their loved one. They laugh and cry at the same memories. Yet – no one knows us like we know us and know one knows us like God knows us. We can hide so much from others – our deepest thoughts – yet we know them and God knows them. We can put on a show or a façade for many who see us – even on a regular basis – but we can hide from God. Continue reading

April 12, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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