Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

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

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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

My Hope Is In Jesus – Not The Left Or The Right!

Mark 9:23

“Everything is possible for one who believes.”

This is not an easy truth to always count on or believe. My wife and I both counsel people – and are reminded of the pain and suffering folks are dealing with everyday. I’m aware of a few couples that are facing severe stress in their marriages – stress that would challenge even the best of marriages. I know of a few people who are facing life-altering situations – some facing multiple such situations. Yet Jesus says – everything is possible for one who believes.

I have seen with my own eyes the miracles of God. I know that the impossible can be possible. I don’t believe I know how or when or why – but I have seen the impossible. Today’s Biblical story is about the healing of a young man who was possessed by demons – evil spirits. The father was brought his son to Jesus but His disciples could not cast out the evil spirit. Read the story below and see why Jesus said – everything is possible for one who believes. Continue reading

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

Day 4 of Lent 2018

Mark 11:23

“I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.

Day 4 of the Lenten reading is a remarkable (did you see what I did there) passage. It holds a number of curiosities for me. I only have time today to deal with the above verse. There is the cursing of the fig tree – the overturning of the tables of the money changers in the temple – the declaration that the house of the Lord was a place of prayer not a ten of robbers – the withered tree – and today’s verse – “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.

I could spend a week in this section of Scripture and still not fully unpack it – I’m sure. What the final statement says – that if we believe and not doubt mountains will be moved to the sea is powerful. Continue reading

February 17, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 1 of Lent 2018

Matthew 21:9-11

9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest!” 10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” 11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

For those who are don’t keep up with the Christian Calendar – today marks the start of Lent. Lent is the 40 days prior to Easter. It is normally a time of denying oneself of something – depriving oneself of a pleasure or a desire – as a way of connecting with Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness after His baptism. It is also a walk toward the cross – traditionally ending with Holy Week and Easter.

Today’s passage is part of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday. We will remember Palm Sunday on March 25th this year. Stay tuned for more details about Lent in the days to come. Continue reading

February 14, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lent Is Coming Soon!

Matthew 26:35

Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.

Lent is coming soon. It begins on Wednesday – February 14th – Ash Wednesday. That morning we will be making the sign of the cross on the foreheads of those who come into our parking lot from 6-7 am (with ashes). We will also offer a blessing. This is a great way – throughout your day to witness your faith to others. Last year there were over 30 people who came by. Join us on your way to work. If you come after 7 am – come into the office – I will be there!

Lent – according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is defined as – a period of 40 days before Easter during which many Christians do not eat certain foods or do certain pleasurable activities as a way of remembering the suffering of Jesus Christ.

Today’s passage is about Peter and the disciples saying they would not deny Christ – that they would actually die with Jesus if need be. Here is today’s passage in partial context. Matthew 26:30-39 – 30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 31 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 33 Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” 35 Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same. 36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Continue reading

February 7, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, Fast, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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