Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Day 10 of Lent 2020

Matthew 22:34-35

34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:

Ray 2020Today is day 10 of the 40 Days of Lent reading plan. I hope you are enjoying the reading plan as it walks us through some of the events in Jesus’ life as He walked to the cross. Lent is the 40 days leading up to the cross. As we walk it – our hope is that God will draw us closer to Him and into His light.

Today’s reading – much like yesterday’s reading – reminds us that the Sadducees – the Pharisees – and others were constantly trying to trick and trap Jesus. They were trying to trick and trap Jesus because they could not deal with the way the people followed Him. Jesus threatened their power structure. To what extent do we feel threatened by Jesus? I mean – what would it take for us to fully follow Jesus? Are we still trying to rationalize our version of Christianity? May God bless us as we walk with Jesus to the Cross of Calvary! Continue reading

March 7, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Building Our Prayer Life

1 Thessalonians 1:2

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers.

Ray 2020Yesterday we talked about taking what we learn in worship – in Bible Studies – in Sunday School – in personal devotion – and putting it to work in our daily lives. So – my question this morning is this – in our prayer life – whom do we mention? Do we pray for others? Do we pray for those who lead our country? Do we pray for those who oppose our nation?

The typical nighttime prayer for a child is – God bless mommy and daddy – God bless my brother and sister – and maybe the child might add – God bless my grandma and granddad and my doggy too. We might add prayers for someone sick – for world peace – for that new job we are starting Monday – and there might be other items on our plate as well. We might even praise God for simply being God. But – what about praying for our enemies or for those whom we disagree with – even on important issues? Are we praying for those who differ with us in ideology in the upcoming national elections? How about those who oppose our theology within our denomination?

My family has four continuous generations of Methodist/United Methodist pastors. We are heaped in Wesleyan theology and practice. Over the last four plus decades (a time that has encompassed my entire time as an ordained minister) – the divide between the left and the right leaning positions in the church has grown. We have debated the Bible and the Book of Discipline (the two rule books of the church). General Conference after General Conference has dealt with numerous issues where the two extremes have differed. Even as we prepare for yet another battle at the upcoming 2020 General Conference – the two sides are opposed to one another and at different places in theology and practice. The future of the unity in the UMC is at stake. We are facing schism and more. Some are outwardly definite to the Bible’s teaching and the instructions of the Book of Discipline and the Judicial Council of the church. Continue reading

February 24, 2020 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, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Can’t We Just Get Along? Why?

Philippians 2:10

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth

img_0063-2Did anyone watch the democratic debate last night? It seems that it is getting harder and harder to live at peace with one another. The candidates all seemed to be trying to tear down their rivals. They ganged up on one another it seemed. No one came across as a winner or a loving person in my view.

From politics to religion to sports to how we raise our children – people differ in their opinions and seem to have a hard time expressing themselves without anger and attitudes. On top of that – some people seem to have a hard time dealing with a differing opinion. We’ve lost the art of debate and disagreement. It seems many among us cannot disagree without being disagreeable. Why can’t we just get along?

This seems to be the case in the political world for sure. After eight years of a President popular with one segment of the country and now three years of a President popular in a different segment of the country – we are a blazed with disagreement about who should lead us in 2021 and beyond. I have witnessed families and friends have issues because of which way they voted in the 2016 Presidential elections or plan to vote in the 2020 elections. The country is very divided – red and blue – right and left – ideologically. We’ll see what the rest of 2020 brings – leading up to November and the election. Why can’t we just get along? Continue reading

February 20, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Loving Is Not Easy

Romans 12:18

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

img_0063-2Living at peace with each other in days like these is not easy. During this season of time – with General Conference 2020 coming in May with a possible split in the United Methodist Church – post impeachment with the 2020 national elections coming in November – we need to focus as much as possible on living at peace with one another – even those we don’t like or agree with very often. I know – it is not easy to live at peace with people who are diametrically opposed to your ideology or theology – but it is what we are called to do as we walk out our faith. It is not always easy to live at peace with those we love and agree with either. We don’t need to agree with everyone – but as we disagree – we should not be disagreeable. Living at peace with others doesn’t mean we always have to agree for sure.

In today’s passage Paul writes – If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. How do we read this? And – if we read it that we should strive to live at peace with everyone – how well are we doing? If we’re as blue as it gets – even radically blue (far left) – with our politics – how well do we get along with someone who is as red as it gets – even radically red (far right)? Can we discuss our differences without becoming ugly? I know this doesn’t seem to happen on many social media pages I visit. It seems like the far left cannot even comprehend the far right – and vice versa – and they don’t play well together either. Continue reading

February 18, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Make My Joy Complete

Philippians 2:2

then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.

img_0063-2I looked back at the months before the 2016 elections. I found something I wrote in March 2016. I will make some changes today – but the truths from 2016 are still truths today. Remember – both parties were trying to find a candidate in 2016.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

This will be a short devotional today – but it will have much to ponder. First – how’s your Prayer/Fast going (we were in Lent when I wrote this and we were doing a prayer fast)? I pray it is going well and that God is speaking to you.

Second – and lastly – the Presidential Elections of 2016 are not going well. I’m not talking about my candidate doing well or not. I’m talking about the way ALL of the candidates are acting – both parties. Childish would not be strong enough. Making fun of one another – the way they talk – their physical appearance – their gender – and more is not what we the voters want to see – IMHO. I know I would much rather hear a debate on the issues of the day – like the economy – national security – immigration – the Supreme Court – race relations – entitlement programs – the environment – and more.  I’d much rather hear their agenda moving forward than to listen to them cutting down their counterparts. Continue reading

January 31, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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