Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Day 19 of Lent 2020

Matthew 25:31-33

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Ray 2020Today is Day 19 of the 40 Days of Lent reading plan. I hope you are enjoying and keeping up with the 40 Day reading plan. I am appreciating them myself as we walk to the cross. They are a blessing to write and a blessing to re-read each day. Keep up and leave comments if you have any questions or thoughts.

Today’s reading is a very familiar one – the separation of the sheep and the goats at the end of time. “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. Every nation – every person – will be gathered – before the throne of God. God will divide them – like a shepherd divides sheep and goats. Here is a simple question – which are we? Are we disciples of Jesus Christ or not? Don’t pull punches and try to fool anyone. Sincerely answer the question! Do we truly follow Jesus – or are we merely playing the game? Continue reading

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

Day 18 of Lent 2020

Matthew 25:14

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them.”

Ray 2020Today is Day 18 of the 40 Days of Lent reading plan. I hope you are enjoying the 40 Day reading plan. I know I am. Keep up with the stories about Jesus’ life as we walk to the cross. Don’t slack and fall behind.

A previous day’s reading ended with Matthew 25:13 – “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” We start today’s lesson with verse 14 – “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them.” We must keep watch (13) and we must be faithful to the One who left us – only to return for us.

At First Church we believe that one of the ways we can be faithful while we await Christ’s return is to reach the whole family – everyone – for Christ. How can we help our church family to help the kingdom? During this quarantine period – when everyone is keeping their social distance – how can we still reach out to one another? One way is to call on one another. Another way is to connect through the online worship (Sundays) or online Bible Studies (tonight). See details in an email sent out to the congregation. If you didn’t receive it – message me and I will send it again. Continue reading

March 17, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 3 of Lent 2020

John 12:16

At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.

Ray 2020Day 3 of the Lenten reading series is a similar story to the one we read on day one. Today I want to look at the above portion of that passage. At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.

As we walk to the cross this Lenten season – I want us to think about some of the things we didn’t or still don’t understand about our faith. It might be things like the Virgin Birth – the resurrection – or forgiveness of sin. As we think of those things we might not completely understand them or intentionally seek out Scriptures and readings that deal with them. We live post the resurrection – post the glorification of Christ – and the Holy Spirit is available to us as we seek to understand the things of God. Seek to understand more about Jesus this Lenten season

Our Bible studies on Tuesday will begin to look at and understand some of the essentials of the faith. This coming Tuesday we will look at the Cross. Join us at 10:30 am or 7:00 pm on Tuesdays in the Fellowship Hall at the church.

Continue reading

February 28, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, 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

Small Fellowship Groups

Ecclesiastes 4:12

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Life ChangeA men’s ministry I was blessed to work with in years gone by used a very similar passage as their base Scripture – Proverbs 27:17 – As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. They believed that part of the benefit of being in fellowship together was the way they could enhance each other’s walk with Christ. They called themselves Iron to Iron. They met monthly for a meeting. Many of them were in the same weekly Bible Study and Sunday School class. We had 25-30 men in a weekly Bible Study and over 80 adults in one class for Sunday School. It was a time of great spiritual growth. A number of the men took road trips together to Promise Keeper events. One such event was Stand in the Gap in Washington – DC – on October 4, 1997. I was there and reports are – so were nearly 3 million men. It was a life experience I will never forget.

I mentioned recently – to our current Bible Studies – that part of the reason we spend the first portion of our studies talking about praises and prayer concerns is to get to know one another better. Small group ministries are very important. I would imagine that upwards of 50% of a typical congregation only attend worship each week with the church family. If folks only spend an hour plus with one another a week – with the pastor – with the family of God – at their local place of worship – they will not know each other well. Spending time in a small group where one could ask questions – where others can interject their thoughts – always opens up dialogue. Continue reading

May 10, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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