Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Good Old Fashion Faith

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.”

Today’s presenting scripture has been called the the Great Commission. It is often seen as the marching orders for the Christian church. It was a major part of our evangelistic sermon series that we just concluded last Sunday.

We are called to go and make disciples of or for Jesus Christ (whichever makes the most sense to you – lol). 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. Even online – we challenge people at the end of our services.

Early Methodists were called to holiness – they were part of the holiness movement in the United States. 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 in those days).  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.

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November 25, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Do We Treasure?

Matthew 6:20

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

It is getting cold outside (was in the 20’s overnight). My wood furnace has been fired up a few times this fall already (blazing right now). I have wood stocked up and I’m ready for the cold. My wood furnace heats my whole house. I fired it up again this morning!

I remember having funerals in cold weather – and standing outside in the cemetery – watching some people shivering. I usually use my heavy overcoat when I see the temps for the day – I prepare. My overcoat keeps me warm – while others are usually shivering. I feel bad for them – but – they could have come prepared too. I don’t usually keep folks in the cold for long – but – bring prepared is important. Some don’t even wear jackets in the cold. I have a friend who wears shorts almost all year round.

Speaking of getting the heavy jackets out – have you ever put on a coat or other piece of clothing that you haven’t worn for some time – only to be surprised what you find in the pockets? I have found money – lifesavers – mints – and other items I was missing – or thought was long gone. Finding money is a great surprise – right?

Don’t you just love when people – searching for something – say things like – it was in the last place I looked. Of course it was – if you kept looking after you found it – we’d have you carted off. Of course – when I tell my wife – where did you have it last – she gets made because if she could remember that she would find it – LOL.

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November 19, 2020 Posted by | Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God’s Faithfulness

Galatians 5:22

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

What do you think of when you hear the word faithfulness? I first think of the vows we share at our marriages – to be faithful until death do us part. Throughout the Hebrew and Christian portions of the Bible – the relationship between God and His people – between Jesus and the church – is compared to that of a bride and groom. I like the love and passion shown by God for the church. Here is a passage from the Hebrew Bible.

Isaiah 62:5 – As a young man marries a maiden, so will your sons marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.

God’s faithfulness is NEVER questioned. God is the groom that will never be unfaithful to His bride – the church. The question is – how faithful are we? How faithful is the church – the bride – to Christ?

In the Christian text we read Paul urging the church to be faithful. Romans 12:1–2 – 1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

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November 12, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Joy – Joy – Joy – Down in My Heart

Luke 1:47

…and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

Sunday we will continue with a sermon series on Evangelism. These sermons are meant to help us understand our need for Jesus and our need to share Jesus with others. The series will run until the Sunday before Advent. A new series will begin on the last Sunday of November as Advent begins.

We’re headed toward the Advent season in one month. The coming of Christ is a season of great joy. The joy that Jesus brings to all people is clear. Luke 2:10–11 – 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

Jesus’ arrival brings great joy to the people – and not only to His people but to all who would hear and follow Him. Jesus was the Messiah – the Anointed One – the Deliverer – the One who would break the bonds of oppression for His people. Never before or since has the birth of a baby been so anticipated or sought after. Jesus’ birth was to bring great and lasting joy.

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October 28, 2020 Posted by | Advent Thought, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Have We Had Enough Rain Yet?

Isaiah 55:10-11

10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

The rainfall in 2020 must be a record. We have had more rain this summer and into the fall than I can remember. I hope this rain turns to snow soon. I want a deep snow this winter – maybe even to stay around for a couple of months.

Rain falls at different rates than snow. Back in 2016 – we had 30 inches of snow during a major storm (#snowmaggedon2016). When it rains that hard – the ground has a hard time soaking it in and much of the rain runs off. As this snow melted – the hope was that much of it would soak into the earth and replenish the land and underground reserves. It has been raining all summer and even today (Tuesday when I wrote this) – when the forecast was for sun – we had an early shower at home. I wish all of this rain had been snow (I like the snow). No matter how fast or light the rain/snow falls – water is good for the ground – the crops – the flowers – the grass  and our wells. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater.

At times – when there is very little rain – we will hear reports about how far under normal we are in the rain fall. We will hear that water supplies are low and how much we need the rain. I imagine we do well when there is much snow and it slowly melts. The creek bed in back of my property has been flowing all summer from all of the rain fall!

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October 21, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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