Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

The One in Authority is God’s Servant

Romans 13:4

For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

Ray 2018Before I pen the first words in this devotional thought – I imagine there will be those who agree with me and those who disagree with me. I have friends who will debate this passage with me and argue that the current circumstance doesn’t fit into this passage. I’ve love to hear their take on this section of the Bible.

Let’s take a look at the world where Paul lived for a moment. In the early church – Christians were being persecuted by their own people – in many cases – as Orthodox Jews saw them as heretics (Paul/Saul was among them early on). Not only were they being persecuted by the Jews – who put their Lord to death – they were being persecuted by Rome. Rome was an oppressive power at the time Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome. Christians were being crucified in arenas – put before wild animals and gladiators as well. It was the worst of times some might say.

Paul writes these words to those Christians under such a terrible burden and oppression. Here’s today’s passage in partial context. Romans 13:1–7 – 1Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. 6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Continue reading

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September 7, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fixing Our Eyes On Jesus

Hebrews 12:2

…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

I have been a pastor for 40 plus years and in the church my whole life (62 years and counting). I have developed a number of sayings over the years that – for me – help sum up our faith or help me understand it a little better. One of my favorites and the favorite of many is this – Christianity boils down to attitude. I developed this saying in my early ministry because I saw that the church (including me) often has an attitude issue – a heart issue. Too many times disagreements within the church came down to attitudes and personal desires rather than an earnest seeking of God’s will. We often have quarrels among us because of our feelings rather than a disagreement on God’s will.

With this understanding – a number of years ago I added the following to this favorite saying to make my intent more clear – Christianity boils down to attitude – the condition and position of one’s heart. Too many times personal desires and interests divide even the Body of Christ. I know of churches that were divided over the color of the curtains in the social hall or whether to have pew cushions or not. I’ve known churches that have been divided over whether to have an organ or a piano and most recently over whether to have a praise band or not in worship. I’ve known churches that were so inwardly focused at times – that real eternal issues never got discussed. Real heaven or hell issues could not be addressed in some churches – because the membership was too divided over trivial things – over things that do not promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Continue reading

July 19, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Excites Us?

1 Corinthians 7:12-14

If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband.

What excites us? Did we get excited during the NBA or Hockey playoffs – even if our team didn’t go far? My favorite teams made it to the playoffs but didn’t go far. Did watching the NBA Finals excite us? Did watching the Stanley Cup Finals excite us?

If sports don’t excite us – what does? Did the elections last year excite us? Did our candidate win? Whenever we vote we should not take our party into the booth with us – but rather – after careful consideration and prayer – vote for the candidate(s) we think will do the best for the people. Which candidate has the Christian values we support? Who would support abortion or who is for the life of the unborn child for instance? Who is out to protect the environment that God gave us dominion over? There are so many issues that as Christians we should be concerned about and we should search for the candidate who thinks as we do. Were we excited about the elections just past? How excited are we about the outcome? Continue reading

June 30, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God Knows All About Us

Psalm 139:3

You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.

When I was growing up – I had certain chores – like most of us I assume. One of my chores was to cut the grass. We had just moved into the new parsonage at Seat Pleasant UMC on Addison Road in Seat Pleasant – MD. That church has since been renamed Gethsemane UMC.

The grass was just starting to take root and so it was very thin – sparse. There were rocks in the soil and my dad instructed me to cut the grass with the mower pointing away from the house. This meant I would push the mower up the hill in our side yard and pull it down the hill. It was harder – I thought – than pushing it down hill and pulling it up the hill – so I turned the lawn mower around and did as I thought – rather than as my father had told me. Continue reading

April 10, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Being Pro-Life Is More Than Being Against Abortion

Psalm 139:14

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

RayMcDJanuary 1973 – I was 17 – soon to be 18 and a graduate of High School. I was preparing to enter Anne Arundel Community College (AACC or A2C2) for the summer semester to get a head start on college. I would raise my baseball officiating career to the college level by umpiring division one games at Navy that spring and be invited by Navy’s coach to go to Florida to umpiring school to become a professional umpire. Life was good – for me.  But January 1973 – is an infamous month in the history of our country. 44 years ago (I can’t believe I’ve been out of High School that long) the courts passed Roe v. Wade – which legalized killing babies in the womb – called abortion.

I understand that this is a hot button topic still today. Maybe especially today since President Trump is soon to name the next Supreme Court nominee and he or she will most assuredly be conservative on this issue. Vice President Pence is very pro-life and so maybe for the first time in 44 years there is hope for the pro-life movement.

I’ve written about abortion on several occasions – one article was titled – An Article about Abortion – written in 2009. Another article was titled simply – Abortion – written in 2008. Still another article was titled – Does It Take Controversy – written in 2012.  In 2011 I mentioned abortion in an article about the upcoming resolutions before General Conference in 2012. In 2011 I wrote another article titled – When Will Our Nation Awaken to Such a Great Sin?  In 2010 I wrote about abortion and used the example of a dear child that doctors said should be aborted and about a woman who was aborted but lived. In 2010 I also shared The Manhattan Declaration In Total. Continue reading

January 30, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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