Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Day 6 of Lent 2020

Mark 12:1a

He then began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey.”

Ray 2020I hope you are keeping up. Today’s reading is a parable. I hope we are enjoying our time together during Lent. I know I am.

Parables are stories that Jesus used to share truths. Parables are not necessarily real life stories – yet they tell a real life truth. They are great examples of putting the Scripture to work – an application of the word of truth in our lives. I love reading Parables and seeking God’s truth in them. The parables always seem to hit home for me – at times in a very timely way for sure.

What does this parable say to us today? What Biblical truth do we read in the words of this parable? Leave some comments as you read so that others can read and share as well! Jesus often used agricultural examples in His teachings because He lived in an agricultural community. The truths would stick with His hearers longer if He told them in stories – stories they would remember. Continue reading

March 3, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, 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

Some Things Never Seem to Change

Colossians 2:8

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

img_0063-2Reworked devotional from 2011. Things haven’t changed much in 9 years. Some things never seem to change. Heretical teaching will always lead a person or a church away from God.

The United Methodist Church has been through a lot during my lifetime.  I remember the sawdust camp meetings of my early years where the Bible was preached and lives were transformed for Christ. The authority of Scripture and the centrality of Christ were not questioned. Transformation took place because sound doctrine was taught and the transforming nature of Christ was preached.

During my lifetime I have also seen a  segment of the church’s leadership turn away from truth – turn away from the transforming love of Christ and His Word. During my lifetime I have heard the deceptive philosophy of some church leadership that has led our denomination into decline. During some of the darkest days of the United Methodist Church – when attendance and membership were falling at alarming rates – a group of Bishops led our denomination. Many of these bishops have retired since that time from active church leadership and I do not think it is by any surprise that our denomination is beginning to grow again in certain areas. I do not think it is by surprise that the majority of churches that are growing the fastest in our own conference are being led by pastors who believe in the transforming power of God – the centrality of Christ and the authority of the Bible. Continue reading

February 19, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sound Doctrine Is Always Essential

1 Peter 2:2

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,

img_0063-2Junk Food is not good for us! There – I said it! Junk food is simply that – junk – and I have been trying to stay away from it. Yet it usually tastes so good – or at least we think so. What is your favorite junk food? I love most anything with chocolate and peanuts or peanut butter. At Easter I am a sucker for peanut butter covered chocolate eggs. Junk food is usually sweet – or salty and flavored like barbecue potato chips. If you’re really lucky with your junk food you can get something that is sweet & salty!

But I digress. I’m also craving something sweet or salty – right now! Get behind me satan foods.

Junk food usually satisfies for the moment but not for the long-term. It usually has lots of empty calories and is not ultimately good for us. Why are we drawn to it – because it soothes for the moment – but it is not good for us? We are satisfied for the moment and yet – the long-term results is not good.? Continue reading

February 5, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hide God’s Word In Your Hearts

Psalm 119:11

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

img_0063-2In a number of sermons I have mentioned that living for Jesus is enhanced – even made possible – through a deep knowledge of the Word of God. The more we know – the deeper we search the Word of God – the more useful a tool it will be for us in our spiritual journey. I once said – the more we use our Sword (our Bible) the more useful that tool becomes to us – so we encourage people to bring their Bibles to church and to follow along during the sermons. Today we can read our Bible on our smart phones and even follow along on www.Bible.com through our live events and leave notes on the sermons. There are so many tools available to us as we read the Bible.

Reading and storing up the Word of God in our heart – in our mind – is so important. Jesus resisted the Devil when he tempted Him by quoting the Word of God. Jesus was such a student of the Word of God that He knew when Satan was using it wrongly! Matthew 4:1–11 – 1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “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.’” 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

January 29, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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