Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

A Call to Holiness

Matthew 28:18–20

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Rays HaircutThese are uneasy times. The unrest is hitting all-time highs it seems. Today’s presenting scripture has been called the the Great Commission. It is often seen as the marching orders for the Christian church. We are called to go and make disciples of or for Jesus Christ (whichever makes the most sense to you – lol). We are called to do this in good times and in not so good times. It might even be more needed during tough times.

In the early years of the Methodist movement – making disciples – followers of Christ – seemed to be the main focus. Revivals and Camp Meetings were all the rage and altar calls were common place in Methodist worship – as pastors challenged parishioners to be transformed after the likeness of Christ. I typically have an altar call each week to challenge those in attendance to faith – or to a deeper faith – or simply to pray about something that has been a challenge for them. Does your pastor invite you to the altar to pray? If not – you might ask them why not.

Early Methodists were called to holiness – they were part of the holiness movement in the United States for instance. We were taught to study the Word of God (the Bible) and to strive to live our lives after what it taught. We were even encouraged to avoid some of the ills of our society. The way it was explained to me (as a third generation Methodist pastor) – Methodists were encouraged to abstain from alcohol – from playing cards – from dancing – even from playing pool. The reason – again as it was explained to me – was because these social activities were often associated with bars and night clubs – with gambling and behavior and places that were not appropriate for folks striving to follow after Christ. We were encouraged to avoid even the appearance of evil or sin (we actually called behavior contrary to God’s will – sin – some don’t like to even say that word).  We were encouraged to keep Sunday set aside for the Lord. In my home growing up – Sunday was a day for worship and Sunday School in the morning – a family lunch – a nap time – youth group – and worship in the evening. Sunday was a day set aside for being with God and with other Christians. How do you spend your Sunday? Continue reading

June 19, 2020 Posted by | Bring, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Life – It Keeps Changing!

Hebrews 13:8

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Rays HaircutLife – it keeps changing! A number of things in my own life have changed – and keep changing. This summer I will have been married for 40 years. It has been 47 years since I graduated High School. I saw a picture of me in High School the other day and I do not look the same today. My children – my babies – are fully grown. Two have children (my five granddaughters). My wife and daughters are such a blessing to me along with my granddaughters. Soon my grandson from South Korea will be home (I can’t wait). I’ve been in ministry for 44 years. I continue to think about retirement (although I hope I will still be active in ministry in retirement).

Life – it keeps changing! No baseball yet! Maybe not this season. No basketball yet! They’re talking about using Disneyland. Football is trying to get started soon for the fall. The Ravens had an amazing season last year and I hope they play even better this coming year. Golf is just starting to have live events. NASCAR was the first live sport to come back – if you don’t count cornhole!

Life – it keeps changing! Churches are meeting online and others are talking about reopening their facilities. Things have changed – things we thought would never change.

Continue reading

June 15, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rebuke the Devil – He is Real

1 John 3:8

He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.

Rays HaircutThe devil is real and not a figment of someone’s imagination. Some churches and pastors try to suggest that the devil is not real – that the devil is merely a personification of evil as a whole. Not sure what Bible they read – if they read the Bible at all – but the Bible tells us over and over that the devil is real. Please do not fall prey to false teachers and false religions. Run as fast as you can from a pastor or church that doesn’t believe that the devil is real!

According to Scripture – the devil tempted Jesus after His baptism.  Matthew 4:1-11 – 1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'” 7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'” 11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. Continue reading

June 11, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right

Judges 17:6

In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.

Rays HaircutOne of the old movies I enjoy watching is one starring Charles Bronson (the Death Wish Series). It was a movie about a lawless group of people who were corrupt and evil. They kept their community scared by their lawlessness and their violence. The actor that Charles Bronson played – and has played in many movies – was Paul Kersey. He wife and daughter had been brutally treated and killed by lawless persons and he became – in several movies – a vigilante. He began to bring order to a lawless area in his city.

While I don’t support vigilantes – he stood up against lawlessness when few would – if any. In the movies his efforts to stand up against lawlessness won him the admiration and support – eventually – of his neighbors and others in the community. Lawlessness is not the answer. Obeying the laws or working to change the laws – lawfully – is the answer.

In our society we see or hear about lawlessness all around us. In cities like Chicago – New York – and Baltimore – the murder rate is often higher than the number of days in any given year. I have a friend – a colleague in ministry – that reminds us often how many murders there are in Baltimore. Lawlessness is so hard to comprehend. Continue reading

June 4, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Conform Not

Romans 12:2

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Rays HaircutHave you tried to figure out the will of God in your life? Several people have presented themselves as seeking God’s will over the years. When I ask – has anyone here ever wondered or asked why they were here – many have no idea. Figuring out God’s will for our lives is of utmost importance I believe. Have you figured it out? Has God revealed it to you? Have we asked God to make it clear?

A few years ago – I asked the Administrative Board of our church – why are we hear – why did we decide to stay on Main Street rather than go out-of-town? The answers came in – slowly – and it is very interesting. Most have said things like – to be the presence of Christ in the middle of town – or – to be close to the center of our community.

Most of us know that one of my favorite passages in the Bible is today’s passage – Romans 12:2 – Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will. Continue reading

May 27, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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