Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Is Everyone Welcome?

1 Corinthians 12:26

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Ray 2018At a Bible Study – not too long ago – the discussion on a Psalm went to community and small group connections. We talked about how important our connections as sisters and brothers in faith really are to our spiritual walk. Body ministry is very significant and not to be taken lightly. The church is a place for folks to connect and support one another. We should rejoice with those who rejoice and suffer with those who suffer.

Have you ever heard the phrase – the church is a hospital for sinners? In that statement – the church is trying to say that we are more than a building. The church is the people of God gathered – and we are a safe place for sinners. Why – because the Lord we serve offers forgiveness for sin and we ARE all sinners. I love the old bumper sticker I saw many years ago – it read: Not Perfect Just Forgiven.

Jesus told His disciples He came to live and die – to offer forgiveness to all who sought it. Luke 24:45-48 – 45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. Continue reading

September 14, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is The Body – The Church – Connected?

1 Corinthians 12:26

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

IMG_0301At a recent Bible Study – the discussion on a Psalm went to community and small group connections.  We talked about how important or connection as sisters and brothers in faith really is to our spiritual walk.  Body ministry is very significant and not to be taken lightly.  The church is a place for folks to connect and support one another.

Have you ever heard the phrase – the church is a hospital for sinners?  In that statement – the church is trying to say that we are more than a building.  The church is the people of God gathered – and we are a safe place for sinners.  Why – because the Lord we serve offers forgiveness for sin and we ARE all sinners.  I love the old bumper sticker I saw many years ago – It read: Not Perfect Just Forgiven.

Jesus told His disciples He came to live and die – to offer forgiveness to all who sought it.  Luke 24:45-48 – 45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. Continue reading

August 5, 2015 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Family and Friends – We All Need Them

1 Corinthians 12:26

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

IMG_0301I’ve been spending some time lately reading several things like – the Bible – some books (like Nick Vujicic’s Unstoppable) – some sports news as we enter the new baseball season (Go O’s and Nat’s) – and the Facebook entries of some of my friends. One thing I’ve noticed in many of these venues is the importance of family – connections – and teamwork. One of my Facebook friends puts pictures and posts up – almost hourly it seems – thanking God for their children – their spouse and where they work. I believe that our family and close friends impact our lives – for the better or for the worst.

Family and other connections are so very important to our health and our well-being. One only needs to read the stories of some who have gone astray to realize that many of them had a giant fail in their family connections. Nick Vujicic – born without arms or legs – praises his parents for showing him unconditional love and attention. He credits this support for much of his ability to struggle through the challenges of life he faced and become a motivational speaker and evangelist. Continue reading

April 16, 2015 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What Is the Christian Response to the Zimmerman Verdict?

Luke 6:31

Do to others as you would have them do to you.

RevRayWhat is the Christian response to the Zimmerman verdict that came out on Saturday evening?  Trayvon Martin’s life was cut short and a verdict came out Saturday night of not guilty to murder/manslaughter for George Zimmerman (the jury was asked to consider both charges).  I haven’t followed the case close enough nor do I know enough about the laws in Florida to give an intelligent opinion about the court’s decision.  I do know that a young man’s life has ended and under any circumstance that is a tragedy.  Life is short enough at 75-100 – it is way too short at 17!

I began each worship service yesterday – at our culturally and ethnically diverse congregation – by calling the congregants to prayer.  Before we went into a time of silent prayer to begin our time of worship I urged them – no mater what side of the case they sided – to prayerfully consider their Christian witness in the days – weeks and months to come.  I encouraged them to pray for racism to end in our communities – in all forms and to work towards this goal.  I encouraged them to work towards justice in all circumstances.  I reminded them that the way they respond on social media and in person will have an impact on their witness for Christ.  We prayed for the Martin family – once again – and for the Zimmerman family as well.  We prayed for our nation’s leaders and for our court system.  We prayed for our nation and for each other.  In the midst of our worship service we held another time of prayer as well and another challenge was given as we ended our time of worship. Continue reading

July 15, 2013 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Being Family and Having Close Friends

1 Corinthians 12:26

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

RayBlogI’ve been spending some time lately reading – the Bible – some books (like Nick Vujicic’s Unstoppable) – some sports news as we approach the Super Bowl (go Ravens) – and the Facebook entries of some of my friends. One thing I’ve noticed in many of these venues is the importance of family – connections – teamwork. One of my Facebook friends puts pictures and posts up – almost hourly it seems – thanking God for their children – their spouse and where they work. I believe that our family and close friends impact our lives – for the better or for the worst.

Family and other connections are so very important to our health and well-being. One only needs to read the stories of some who have gone astray to realize that many of them had a giant fail in their family connections. Nick Vujicic – born without arms or legs – praises his parents for showing him unconditional love and attention. He credits this support for much of his ability to struggle through the challenges of life he faced and become a motivational speaker and evangelist.

HappyFamilyFamily and friends – real friends – are what most successful people point to – that and a deep abiding relationship with Jesus of course! What relationships can you point to in your life’s story? Who was instrumental in your development? Was there a special teacher – a special friend – a sibling – a fellow church member – your parents?

In writing about the church Paul writes – If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. The church is supposed to be both family and a familiar place for the members of the Body of Christ. In my church life I have heard folks from out-of-town talk about their church as a family. I have experienced this family feeling at times myself. I remember an older man at Mt. Zion who became a father for my father (his died while serving that same church) and a grandfather to us. When I returned some 18 years after we left to be the pastor of that church – this same man was in the last years of his life and still made me feel like family. Family and friends can make such a huge impact on our lives.

I’ve also experienced – and heard stories from others – about fake or pretend friends in the church as well as outside the church. Fake or pretend friends are people who appear to be your friends while a certain relationship exists but drop out when that relationship changes. Usually it is a relationship that is based on what they can get from you or a position you hold. Beware of these type friends. Pastors – for instance – have a hard time maintaining friendships after they move to a different church. In our denomination we are all but required to divorce ourselves from our previous church so that the next pastor can develop relationships. It makes it hard to develop friendships – since many pastors dive into their church work and the social life of the church and community they serve. It is hard to find time outside of church for pastors to make friends – especially when connecting as family is what the church is supposed to be all about according to Paul.

But throughout life – whatever you do professionally – the hope and prayer is that you begin to experience true friendships. True friends – whether family or not – are a blessing. True friends will hurt when you hurt and rejoice when you rejoice as Paul wrote in today’s passage about the church – If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. My hope and prayer is that your family and your friends are these type of relationships and not the kind that are surface only and change depending on the circumstances. I know my family and my close friends have been very impactful in my life.

I put a survey up to see if what I have said is true or not – do close family ties and friendships impact our lives? You can take the survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/JYM79KD.

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

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January 30, 2013 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

   

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