Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

New Beginnings

First Church,

img_0063-2As we enter 2020 – I wanted to let you know how honored I feel to serve our Lord with you. We have made some treasured memories together over the last 6.5 years. I look forward to the time God gives us to continue to serve Him together. Whatever happens to our denomination – we can remain faithful to our Lord.

2020 will see many changes. We have a significant General Conference in the United Methodist Church in May with many proposals about our future as a church. We have a Presidential election in November as well – with many possible changes to our country’s leadership. If the Lord allows – we will see these – along with another birthday and special holidays.

A New Year – and even a new decade – are times God offers us as New Beginnings. Some will want to change some things in their lives. Some will get married. Some will have children. Some will get new jobs. Some will purchase a new home. Some may move away. Others may move into the area and join us at First Church. Some may try to change their physical or emotional or spiritual health. What new beginning are you looking forward to in 2020? Continue reading

December 31, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on New Beginnings

How Many Times Do We Forgive Others?

Matthew 18:21-22

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Ray 2019How many times have we forgiven someone for the same thing? Do we have a limit to our forgiveness? Does this saying work for us – fool me once – shame on you – fool me twice – shame on me? How many times will we forgive someone? We mentioned Sunday – praying for our enemies – can we do that?

Peter asked Jesus – how many times should we forgive someone? Seven was a number – often used in the Bible to represent completeness – and Peter would have been OK – I think – if Jesus had said seven times. I imagine Peter had come close to that number on several occasions with people he dealt with on a daily basis. Have we come close to forgiving someone seven times? Would that be considered a lot of times? Would you be satisfied with forgiving someone 7 times?

Jesus’ answer might have blown Peter away. In the NIV – the translation of the answer from Jesus is seventy-seven (77) times. In the KJV – it is interpreted to read – Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. (490 times) Continue reading

December 10, 2019 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Guides Our Thoughts and Actions Each Day?

Galatians 5:25

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amWho guides our thoughts and actions each day? Do we rely on our own abilities or thinking? Do we follow other’s thinking or even consult a horoscope (please don’t say yes to a horoscope)? How do we determine things like – who we vote for in elections – how we vote in our congregations or denomination – whether to marry or not and to whom? Who do we turn to when discussing starting a family – what job to take – whether to relocate for work – when to retire – whether to buy or rent and in what community? All important decisions for sure. Do we rely on our skills – on our spouse – on our parents – on our friends – on the world around us – on some online teacher?

Who guides our thoughts and actions each day? How do we decide what is right or wrong – what is beneficial or detrimental in our lives? Where do we turn to discern the path in life we should walk? If it hasn’t been God – if it has only been God for a few things – how’s that working for you? I know for me – the times I have made my own decision – it has been hit or miss – but when I have turned to God – God is batting 100%. Continue reading

October 8, 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, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It Is The Very Word of God

Luke 11:28

Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amOur denomination has a number of issues. One of the issues we seem to have is a different understanding of the Bible. For me – it is very clear – the Bible is the inspired – inerrant – infallible Word of God.

For some – the Bible is a good book where God’s Word can be found. Those who believe this way also think new revelation – new experiences – can supersede the Bible. The Mormons – for instance – believe the Book of Mormon supersedes the Bible. Others believe that the Holy Spirit is giving new revelation that supersedes the written Word. Of course – I do not agree with these understandings. I believe that the Holy Spirit will help us understand the written Word of God and that no revelation from the Holy Spirit will conflict with the written Word of God. The Holy Spirit will remind us of the teachings of Jesus and continue to teach us – but not in a new revelation that is contrary to the written Word. John records Jesus putting it this way – John 14:26 – But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Continue reading

October 7, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I Will Not Stop Praying – 2020

John 3:16-17

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amI like to play golf. The weather has been great for some time and the fairways are firm and you get lots of roll. I like golf. Golf doesn’t always like me. I take lessons – but – the improvement is minute and often doesn’t last very long. I took a chipping lesson today. I have a tournament next week. I hope I remember what I learned.

I enjoy playing golf and the good friends I play with when we get get out. Some say – golf is a good walk – spoiled. Not me – I love the nature in golf – but I also like the game itself. I plan to improve my game this fall (like every year) – with my continued weight loss – I plan to get back to walking the course some too. I usually play better when I walk the course – and the weight loss (65 plus pounds from my max) should help (my goal is 100 pounds). I’d like to play in the 70’s (not the temperature folks) on a regular basis. This summer I only hit the 70’s ten or so times. Most of the year I played in the 80’s with a few really bad round. We shall see! I’m trying to be more consistent.

I do what some think the most boring thing imaginable – I watch golf on TV (I’d rather be playing – but I do enjoy a good match on TV). When you watch golf – many times in the crowd around a tee-box – you see someone with a sign that simply says John 3:16. The assumption is that most people know what that verse says – or maybe it will cause them to go and look it up. It is part of this morning’s passage. John 3:16-17 – 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Continue reading

September 26, 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, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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