Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

A Call to Holiness

Matthew 28:18–20

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Rays HaircutThese are uneasy times. The unrest is hitting all-time highs it seems. Today’s presenting scripture has been called the the Great Commission. It is often seen as the marching orders for the Christian church. We are called to go and make disciples of or for Jesus Christ (whichever makes the most sense to you – lol). We are called to do this in good times and in not so good times. It might even be more needed during tough times.

In the early years of the Methodist movement – making disciples – followers of Christ – seemed to be the main focus. Revivals and Camp Meetings were all the rage and altar calls were common place in Methodist worship – as pastors challenged parishioners to be transformed after the likeness of Christ. I typically have an altar call each week to challenge those in attendance to faith – or to a deeper faith – or simply to pray about something that has been a challenge for them. Does your pastor invite you to the altar to pray? If not – you might ask them why not.

Early Methodists were called to holiness – they were part of the holiness movement in the United States for instance. We were taught to study the Word of God (the Bible) and to strive to live our lives after what it taught. We were even encouraged to avoid some of the ills of our society. The way it was explained to me (as a third generation Methodist pastor) – Methodists were encouraged to abstain from alcohol – from playing cards – from dancing – even from playing pool. The reason – again as it was explained to me – was because these social activities were often associated with bars and night clubs – with gambling and behavior and places that were not appropriate for folks striving to follow after Christ. We were encouraged to avoid even the appearance of evil or sin (we actually called behavior contrary to God’s will – sin – some don’t like to even say that word).  We were encouraged to keep Sunday set aside for the Lord. In my home growing up – Sunday was a day for worship and Sunday School in the morning – a family lunch – a nap time – youth group – and worship in the evening. Sunday was a day set aside for being with God and with other Christians. How do you spend your Sunday? Continue reading

June 19, 2020 Posted by | Bring, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Speaking the Truth in Love – YES!

Ephesians 4:15

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

Rays HaircutHave you ever had a hard truth to tell someone – but rather than tell them the hard truth – we told them something else or didn’t tell them anything at all? Telling the truth is not always easy. Hearing the truth can hurt some people’s feelings (we all know some folks are very sensitive). Some people can’t take the truth – they can’t handle the truth. Some people have a hard time accepting the truth. Sometimes our truth is not the real truth – so we need to be careful. At times our attitude can hamper or block the truth from being heard.

In today’s passage we are called to speak the truth in love. We should never have the attitude that we want to hurt others with the truth. The truth should always be shared in love. In sharing the truth with someone – it should be to help and uplift – not to hurt and diminish. Sharing the truth – as found in God’s Word – should always be for the benefit of the Body of Christ. Continue reading

June 18, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rebuke the Devil – He is Real

1 John 3:8

He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.

Rays HaircutThe devil is real and not a figment of someone’s imagination. Some churches and pastors try to suggest that the devil is not real – that the devil is merely a personification of evil as a whole. Not sure what Bible they read – if they read the Bible at all – but the Bible tells us over and over that the devil is real. Please do not fall prey to false teachers and false religions. Run as fast as you can from a pastor or church that doesn’t believe that the devil is real!

According to Scripture – the devil tempted Jesus after His baptism.  Matthew 4:1-11 – 1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “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.'” 7 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

June 11, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Jesus Has Overcome the World

John 16:33

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

Rays HaircutOne of the blessings of having a hearing loss is I can put my good ear down on the pillow at bedtime. If people are in the other room talking and I want to get to sleep – I simply place my good ear on the pillow and off to sleep I go. There is a peace and quiet – no matter what is going on around me. It might be why I could fall asleep anywhere as a child – with my parents and others talking up a storm in the same room. I would simply put my good ear down on the floor or a pillow and I could find my happy place – a quiet place to fall asleep. As I age – I can also fall asleep in a busy room – simply sitting in a chair (but that is another story). At times I can stay asleep in the morning while others are up and about (even with a bad ear – I have a hard time staying asleep when the wife’s dog goes off though).

My Facebook feed is normally filled with pictures and stories of folks I know that have found peace in one place or another. A while back – a friend – with a foot and lower leg in a cast – shared a picture of him cutting grass on his John Deere – cast in a plastic bag! I know what he meant when he typed – this is my happy place. When I had my two shoulder surgeries in back to back winters – I couldn’t wait till I could cut my grass. Something about doing something mindless and in the outdoors – is so stress relieving. I enjoy cutting my grass twice a week during the spring growing season! Continue reading

June 10, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Shadow of Death

Psalm 23:4

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Rays HaircutI seem to be doing more funerals as the years mount – and more of the deceased are friends and family. Not too long ago I celebrated four funerals in a five-day period. It is an honor to help families celebrate the life of a loved one. Most funerals I celebrate are from folks in our community – folks I have not had a previous chance to minister to or with – and I just try to bring them a measure of comfort for the short time I have with them. I usually talk with them on the phone and meet them on the day of the service. I often read the 23rd Psalm at the service.

I love today’s portion of the 23rd Psalm. One of the great hopes and blessings of our faith is that we do not have to fear death. I can usually tell people of faith versus people will little or no faith when I share at funerals. The way we face death is telling. Continue reading

June 9, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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