Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Why Are We United Methodist?

Mark 1:17

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amThis is another of my reworked devotionals. Seems some things never change or at least stay the same for a long time. The original post was from 3 years ago – as we had just faced GC20176 and were headed to GC2019. The message from this devotional is still current and accurate as we now head to GC2020.

In today’s climate – this might be a very serious question. Why Am I a United Methodist today?

This is a simple question but it might have complicated answers. Let’s look at a few.

One might answer – because the church I go to is United Methodist. It is the church closest to my home or the church I have always attended. I really haven’t thought of why before but maybe I should.

One might answer – because I grew up in the United Methodist Church. It is the church my parents attended and I have just never thought much about changing or trying another church.

One might answer – because I believe in the method of their theological discernment. Now we’re starting to dive a little deeper. Have any of us thought this deep about our relationship with the denomination we attend.

One might answer – I don’t know! This might be a more common answer than we would like.

One might answer – United Methodist?  You mean I’m United Methodist?

Continue reading

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August 22, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

We Gotta Tell Somebody

Psalm 66:16

Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.

Tuesday morning and night – our two weekly Bible Studies – are amazing. Part of what makes these studies so powerful and Spirit led is the testimonies that some share. Last Tuesday night we heard how one of our men experienced the presence of God in a powerful way. This Tuesday morning three women shared experiences they had in life – how God was present and how God helped them thru some difficult times. These testimonies are powerful because they are 1) right in line with our study as we dig thru Acts and 2) they happened to people we know and love – which takes away much of our built-in doubt when we hear about the movement of God. We gotta tell somebody my friends – about the power and presence of God in our lives.

Telling others about our faith – about God’s action in our lives – is powerful and moving. If we merely quote the Bible or tell of God’s action in the past (stories from the Bible) – people can tune us out at times – because what we are sharing is past and no one is here to tell us it is true. But when we say – this happened to me – and the people know us and trust us – they are more apt to believe. We gotta tell somebody!

How has God touched your life? We begin each study with a time of testimony – praises if you will. We also take prayer concerns (concerns I lift during the live prayer time on Wednesday nights). We dig into the Word for the evening – and at times – more testimonies develop from the readings. We try to make the Word of God relevant – otherwise we are merely studying what happened in the past and not what is happening today – to us. Continue reading

August 7, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Finding Peace In a Noisy 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.

June 2019This is a little different take on the same passage from yesterday. One 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. 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 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. Some people share pictures of mountain sunsets – beach sunrises – quiet waters – peaceful golf courses – baby animals – mountain top views and more. People enjoying their relaxing time – some quiet time – away from their work and the hustle and bustle of their everyday lives. Where is your happy place? Where would you go to find peace and quiet? Continue reading

August 6, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Giving Our Testimony

Acts 4:10

It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.

June 2019When is the last time you spoke to someone about your faith – told someone about Jesus? When was the last time you shared your testimony with anyone? I’ve asked some folks to send me their testimonies. Some have done so – some have not. Our testimony is a tool we can use – if we will – to draw others to Jesus. We’ve been lookin at the Book of Acts of late on Tuesdays. The Apostles and disciples were telling people about Jesus – even at the risk of their life.

We talk a lot about giving our testimony – about sharing how Jesus has impacted our lives with others – at our church. We have a time in worship called Telling Our Story where people either give a testimony or we talk about a person’s witness/walk with Christ. This is an easy time to give testimony – because it is in the church family. It is harder to give your testimony outside the church. Are we sharing Jesus with others? We might even have a Tuesday set aside to share how God has touched our lives – and invite the whole congregation. Continue reading

August 2, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God – Teach Us to Forgive

Matthew 18:21-22

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

June 2019In our Tuesday Bible Studies (10:30 am and 7 pm) – we just read about Stephen and his stoning. As he was dying at the hands of the Jews from the Sanhedrin – he cried out for God to forgive those who were killing him. Acts 7:60 – Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep. This is very reminiscent of our Lord on the Cross of Calvary. Luke 23:32–34 – 32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

How many times have we forgiven someone for the same thing? Do we have a limit to our forgiveness? Does this saying work for us – fool me once – shame on you – shame me twice – shame on me? How many times will we forgive someone? And is there a limit to what we will forgive? Continue reading

July 31, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology, Vision, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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