Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Old Time Faith – Is It Outdated?

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.”

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amToday’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). 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.

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).  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.

Correct me if I am wrong – but – I just don’t see the United Methodist Church of today – in many places – in many churches – as part of the holiness movement any longer. I rarely hear or read about the UMC calling people to Scriptural holiness. I rarely hear about revivals and camp meetings or Sunday or Wednesday night services. What I often hear – even from some of our clergy and Bishops – is a caving to social norm – to the sin of society. I hear tolerance preached and taught rather than holiness. It seems like we are trying to be popular rather than faithful. I hope I’m not being too harsh. Correct me if I am wrong or being too harsh – please. Continue reading

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September 9, 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, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s Try Loving One Another

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.

I wish I had words or a solution for the hatred in the world. I wish there was a person or political party who had the answers or a solution. I wish our country could come together and dismiss the hatred – the racism – the evil – in our country and world today. But I can’t and no one else can – I fear.

Should we have stricter gun laws? Maybe so – but evil people will find a way to perform their evil. Should we make it harder for unstable people to get weapons – absolutely – but who gets to determine who is unstable or mentally ill? Some are very easy to tell – some are well hidden. Should we outlaw assault weapons outside of the military and law enforcement? Maybe that would help – but where would such a law start and end? There are no easy answers and as a former youth pastor friend of mine said – People are more the problem than any gun!

I believe the answer is found in telling more people about Jesus – and letting others see Jesus in us. I believe – if we were more excited and convinced of our faith – we would impact more people for Jesus. Continue reading

August 5, 2019 Posted by | Bring, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology, Vision | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are There Any Absolutes These Days?

Psalm 11:3

…while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,

Life ChangeOne of my favorite all-time shows is the Andy Griffith show. I grew up watching Andy, Opie, Barney and Aunt Bea. Times were good and even the unchurched were fairly moral people and they had good values in Mayberry. The setting for this show was the late 50’s and early 60’s – just a few states south of us. I’m not suggesting we could ever return to these times – nor should we strive to for sure – but it was a time when absolutes were accepted – even among the unchurched.

I wish that the troubles Opie had would be the troubles our youth would get into today. Unfortunately – our youth – and our society as a whole – are far beyond the sins of Mayberry (and Mayberry wasn’t perfect for sure). Our communities used to resemble Mayberry’s morals and values. I can remember growing up near here. As a matter of fact – I can remember watching Mayberry as a child – and thinking my world was like this show. How did we get to the place we are today? How have we become so corrupt and sinful as a society (watch the news to see my point)? It seems that there are some in our society today that are trying to call sin – acceptable. They are trying to change established truths. I know – much about us needs to change – and over time – much has changed – but I ask – are there no absolutes? Continue reading

May 17, 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, Sermons, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Forgiveness Is a Wonderful Thing!

Ephesians 4:32

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Life ChangeForgiveness is a wonderful thing! I love to play golf – golf just doesn’t always love me. In golf – some players take mulligans (sort of like a do over). It is not something you’re supposed to assume – it is something your playing partner might offer. Normally – when there wasn’t time to warm up – someone might say – mulligans on the first tee – which means you can take a second tee shot if your first one is a bad shot – a duffer. Of course – when you take a mulligan – you have to play it – even if your mulligan shot is worse than your original shot! Golf is complicated when you add mulligans – lol.

Forgiveness is a wonderful thing! Do overs in life can be a help too – like when you have said or done something you shouldn’t have and want to make amends. Saying you are sorry often helps – but making corrections to what you said or did goes beyond simply words. Oh how I wish I had some do overs in life.

Forgiveness is a wonderful thing! I did a reading plan recently on forgiveness. I urge our readers to get into a regular habit of reading the Word of God. Like I said Sunday in the sermon – knowing what we believe is important – but knowing our source is also important. Knowing why we believe what we believe and where we learned it is important. Continue reading

May 13, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Week After Easter

Psalm 119:147

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.

Life ChangeEaster 2019 has come and gone. Lent was a powerful time this year for me. Holy Week was amazing. I loved the Seder meal and the Good Friday service. Easter Sunrise service is always special for me – I’ve only missed one in my adult life that I can remember. I loved sharing that time with my father when possible. I loved the hill behind Mt. Zion with the benches and three crosses and the sun rising over the hill – the pavilion at Mt. Oak (with the cross in the field) – and the prayer garden at First Church – just to name the last three churches I’ve served. Each holds many special memories.

On Easter morning I usually arise around 4 am. Sunrise this year was at 6:20 am so we started our service at 6 am. I know that some of our men and women – some of my friends – wake that early or earlier on a regular basis. One of my son-in-laws gets up that early most every day to go to work. It is not my usual time to rise though. As a matter of fact – there have been nights I haven’t gone to sleep until that time! My normal time to rise is 6:00 am or thereabouts. By that time we were starting worship on Easter morning. It was a powerful morning – we had a great time worshiping God. We invited other churches and the community to join us. The sun rising will remind us that the Son rose. Continue reading

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

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