Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Jesus’ Prayer For Unity

John 17:21

…that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

Annual Conference is coming next week – a week I would look forward to in years past – a time to see old friends that are scattered all over the conference. It was a time to renew friendships and share war stories. It was a time to worship and learn and to be challenged. Although there have always been ideologies and theologies that differ from my own – we always seemed to get along – somehow.

In recent years – the divide between us has grown it seems. On issues like human sexuality there doesn’t seem to be a place for us to coalesce. On one side of the discussion – some expressions of sexuality are considered sinful – such as same-sex relations. On the other side of the discussion – same-sex attraction and relations is seen as normal and acceptable. For over four decades this debate has raged – yet in the last few years it seems to have gotten more and more divisive.

Add to the discussion persons born one gender who wish to be seen – treated – and recognized as the other gender – even going so far as to alter their gender identity with surgery – and the divide increases. Continue reading

May 23, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Nevertheless, I Have This Against You

Revelation 2:20

Nevertheless, I have this against you:

Pastors are called to serve God (as are we all). Yet – most pastors also serve a congregation of between 20 and 1,000 or more people.

After 40 plus years of serving God and congregations and countless years of training and several degrees – I still don’t always hit the nail on the head in everything I do. I admit that I make mistakes or miss things from time to time. I have even asked the SPRC committee and even the entire congregation to help me see where I fall short in serving the congregation as pastor. I would like to take the space of this article to share some insights as how best to go about that process. How to best critique your pastor (or anyone).

Critiquing people is an art. The old adage that you can get more flies with honey than vinegar is very true. The way we critique a person or an event is almost as important as what we have to say in our critique. If the person/group being critiqued won’t receive the information because of how it is offered – then it hasn’t done any good. Continue reading

May 11, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Stand In The Need Of Grace

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.

When my arm heals – one of the first things I need to do is clean my garage. My wife likes a clean garage. I’ve written this before so not one should be surprised. 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 – one thing I always come across is some dirty rags. I use old rags 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.

I am convinced that some of us believe that our sins are not as bad as our neighbor’s sin(s). Some might think that because they go to church – because they may give support to the ministry of the church (time, talent, money, prayers) – they are not as bad as others and not in need of grace like others. When I talk or preach or teach about sin – I always have a mirror in front of my face because I know my sin and I stand in the need of grace! Continue reading

May 8, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Be Anxious About Nothing

Philippians 4:6-7

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Today marks five full weeks since my rotator cuff surgery with a torn bicep muscle as well. I had physical therapy (PT) this morning and they are well pleased. They took measurements this morning to report to my surgeon on this Friday. My hope is that he will be pleased and released me from the sling and allow me to begin to use my arm some and build it back up.

The physical therapist said I had nearly 100% movement (compared to my right arm not compared to a young man or a double jointed person – LOL). In some measurements my movement was 100% or even better.

My hope is that by the last weekend in May I will be able to take half swings with my golf clubs – hip to hip. My family takes a vacation every year and we always play golf together. It would be hard to miss that bonding time with my brother and some of my nephews and a niece. If I must simply ride along – I will. Continue reading

May 3, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pentecost Is Coming!

Acts 1:8

 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

We’re coming upon the season of Pentecost (1st Sunday of June). Pentecost is considered the time or season when we are to especially honor the Holy Spirit. If we have ever had a hard time witnessing our faith – I want to suggest to us to spend more time in prayer – seeking the Holy Spirit power that Jesus promised in today’s passage. It really isn’t optional – as I read the Bible – to tell others about Jesus. If Jesus is real in our lives – if we have experienced the saving grace of Christ – we have to tell somebody.

Today’s passage – during a time when Jesus was ready to ascend to the Father – tells Jesus’ followers to go and tell someone. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Shortly after Jesus said these words to His disciples – the Holy Spirit came upon them. The Holy Spirit came upon the Disciples and all those gathered who were waiting for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Continue reading

April 24, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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