Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

2020 – A Year of Change

Psalm 46:10

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Life ChangeAs we enter the last 6 or so weeks of 2019 – I have been giving us warning that 2020 could be a year of major change for many of us. The United Methodist Church seems on the brink of a split – officially or otherwise. This change may impact many of us. If it is an official split or some other split – conferences – churches – and members will need to decide where they will worship moving forward. This could being as early as January 1 – 2020 – as the 2019 Special General Conference approved churches withdrawing from the denomination. It could happen as we move toward the 2020 General Conference in May – shortly thereafter – or as soon as any changes take place.

The 2020 Presidential Election in November could continue the current Presidential leader or elect a new President. The Congress could change hands or solidify one party in leadership. Will one party of the other hold the President’s office and both houses of the Congress or will there be divided leadership? Will we continue along the same lines of leadership or will there be a change? How will the economy react to this election? How will the election impact you and your family? Continue reading

November 13, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It Seems Hard To Love One Another

John 14:15

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

Life ChangeIt seems hard to love one another. For example – I tried to cheer on the Washington Nationals as they were in the playoffs and eventually won Major League Baseball’s World Championship. Yet – pushback came from National’s fans calling me a pretend fan who was jumping on the bandwagon late. I also took pushback from others – calling me out for rooting for the Nationals – since I’m a diehard Orioles fan – as if I couldn’t root for another local team – simply because my team wasn’t in the playoffs. I could better understand if the Orioles and Nationals were in the same league or division and competing for the same league championship. But the Nationals are my National League team – since I was a young child – I’ve rooted for the local Washington team – back in the day it was the Senators (my dad was a big fan). When I was 12 – I began to root for the Orioles and have stayed with them ever since.

It seems hard to love one another. For example – because I have Facebook friends from all walks of life – we don’t all agree on many subjects. Be it sports (Ravens and Steeler fans – Oriole and Yankee fans) – or politics (Republican and Democrat – Trump and Hillary or now Trump or anyone but Trump) – or theologically (left and right – liberal and conservative – Christian and atheists or others) – my friends are all over the place. We hardly agree on much of anything. As a matter of fact – some have unfriended me because of my beliefs (my theology or ideology). Continue reading

November 8, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Can’t We Just Get Along?

Philippians 2:10

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth

Life ChangeIt seems that it is getting harder and harder to live at peace with folks. From politics to religion to sports to how we raise our children – people differ in their opinion and seem to have a hard time expressing themselves without anger and attitudes. On top of that – some people seem to have a hard time dealing with a differing opinion. We’ve lost the art of debate and disagreement. It seems many among us cannot disagree without being disagreeable. Why can’t we just get along?

This seems to be the case in the political world for sure. After eight years of a President popular with one segment of the country and hearing the other side complain – I can’t remember the same venom I am hearing today with the current President. The previous President could do no wrong – it seemed – with the media. This President cannot seem to do anything right – according to the reports in the media (most of the media). I have witnessed families and friends have issues because of which way they voted in the 2016 Presidential elections. The country is very divided – red and blue – right and left – ideologically. We’ll see what 2020 brings. Why can’t we just get along?

This same thing is happening in our denomination – with some not being able to accept a differing view (I understand that at times the differences are so great it is hard if not impossible to harmonize the differences – but we shouldn’t be angry or hateful toward those that hold a differing view). The far left has one theology and the far right has another – and not only can they not agree on their theology – we’re having a hard time agreeing on pastoral ministry. We’ll see what 2020 brings. Why can’t we just get along? Continue reading

October 31, 2019 Posted by | Bring, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Should Give Our Anxiety To Jesus

1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Life ChangeAnxiety is tough to face. Anxiety is defined online as – a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Anxiety can overwhelm us. It can cause disorders and medical issues. It can immobilize us and take us down if we allow it to do so.

Anxiety can manifest itself in many ways. WebMD defines anxiety this way: Everyone feels anxious now and then. It’s a normal emotion. For example, you may feel nervous when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision. Anxiety disorders are different, though. They are a group of mental illnesses, and the distress they cause can keep you from carrying on with your life normally. For people who have one, worry and fear are constant and overwhelming, and can be disabling. But with treatment, many people can manage those feelings and get back to a fulfilling life.

WebMD lists these among the anxiety disorders – panic disorders – social anxiety disorders – specific phobias – and generalized disorders. Each – if not treated – can be disabling. Some – who battle an anxiety disorder – are unable to function in society. Some need medication. Some need psychotherapy. Some may need both. But the passage today suggests another treatment for anxiety. We’re called to give our anxiety to Jesus. Continue reading

October 30, 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 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Heart of God – Kindness and Goodness

Galatians 5:22

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

Life ChangeOur Tuesday morning and evening Bible studies are just amazing. If you are available at 10:30 am or 7:00 pm and in the Laurel area – please stop by. In these Bible studies – we’re into the Book of Acts – sometimes called the Acts of the Apostles. We have been reading about the power of God – God the Holy Spirit – as the early church was being birthed.

As we have gone thru this study – some questions have been raised that made me think about preaching on the Holy Spirit. So – beginning in November – we will preach a series on the Holy Spirit. Stay tuned!

Today’s passage is about the Fruit of the Holy Spirit. What do you think of when you hear the words kindness and goodness? A few verses before the fruit of the Spirit is listed in Galatians 5 – we read the following words. Galatians 5:6 – For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

When I think of kindness and goodness – I think of the heart of Christ. It is often contrary to my heart. I am not – by nature – a mercy person. I can express mercy – but only because of the grace of God – it isn’t from my natural fabric. The heart of God – the heart of Christ is seen best – for me – in the following passage. Continue reading

October 24, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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