Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

A Post From Before Coronavirus

John 3:16-17

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

This post was originally posted on January 28, 2020. It was pre-coronavirus. It was before the pandemic changed all of our lives. I thought it was an interesting look at life before the pandemic.

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It is no secret – I like golf. The weather has been nice in January and I have gotten out already in 2020. Golf doesn’t always like me. I enjoy playing golf and the friends I play with as well. Some say – golf is a good walk in the outdoors – spoiled. Not me – I love the nature in golf – but I also like the game itself. Two friends and I walked 18 holes a week or so ago. We were dragging coming up 18 (an uphill walk) – but we had fun. Continue reading

July 7, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tithes and Offerings

Malachi 3:8

“Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.” “But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’” “In tithes and offerings.”

20B2484D-93F3-4834-A657-15E51ED76F9AHow do we determine the amount we give in the weekly offering to God at our church? Is there a formula we use? Is it a set amount – independent of other factors? We often take up tithes and offerings each Sunday (by-the-way – we are still in need – during the pandemic – of your donations to help the life of the church).

The tithe was established in the Old Testament as the amount due God from His people. Here are a couple of passages.

Leviticus 27:30 – A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord.

We’re told that to not bring the tithe to God is robbing God.

Malachi 3:8-11 – 8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ “In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse — the whole nation of you — because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit,” says the Lord Almighty. Continue reading

June 26, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No Excuse – God is Real

Romans 1:20

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Rays HaircutI’ve always appreciated this passage. It is one of those bottom-line type of passages. If all other means of reaching a person or a society have failed – God is still evident in the creation – there is no excuse for not seeing and understanding God’s presence and awesomeness.

Have you ever argued this point or had someone argue it with you? What if there are people who have never heard of God? How will God deal with them? The example given is usually a deserted island somewhere with people who haven’t seen or heard from the rest of the world in centuries. You could argue that all people came from Adam and Eve and so they had a faith in God as a root. You could argue that all people came from Noah and his family after the flood and had a root of faith. Somewhere along the way the ancestors of those who are on the deserted island made a break from faith in God and now generations later the descendants are living without faith in God. So – what happens to them? Continue reading

June 23, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Staying Connected to Jesus!

John 15:4

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

Rays HaircutI think John 15:4 is one of the most significant passages I have ever read.  It falls in the midst of Jesus teaching about Him being the vine and His followers being the branches. Jesus tells us we must remain in Him to live. In order to live and be fruitful – we must remain in Jesus!

When I think of this passage – one thing that comes to my mind is trimming my bushes. Can you identify with this chore? I try to trim my bushes to keep them from getting too large – to keep them from over growing their place in the flowerbeds. It is an ongoing chore – year after year.

When my daughter and son bought a home a few years ago – the previous owners had not trimmed the bushes in some time. The bushes had grown so large they were a safety hazard at the front of the house. You couldn’t see the front door. You couldn’t see the lower part of the front of the house. They trimmed them way back and now the front of the house looks way better. They eventually replaced them with new plants. Continue reading

June 22, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

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