Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

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

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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

Understanding the Bible

Psalm 119:11

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

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amIn yesterday’s message (you can hear it when it posts and other sermons here) – we mentioned that that living for Jesus is enhanced – even made possible – through our being open to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit came to teach us all things and to remind us of the things that Jesus taught. We also said that we cannot understand the Bible without the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. As we search the truths in the Bible – inspired and urged on by the Holy Spirit – we grow in our knowledge and understanding of Jesus.

A deep knowledge and understanding of the Word of God is only possible through a deepening of our walk with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. 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 would 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 them by following sermon notes by using the URL found in the bulletin each week. There are so many tools available to us as we read the Bible. But – none of them has worth to us without the Holy Spirit.

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

September 23, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Old Time Faith – Is It Outdated?

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.”

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amToday’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). 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.

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).  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.

Correct me if I am wrong – but – I just don’t see the United Methodist Church of today – in many places – in many churches – as part of the holiness movement any longer. I rarely hear or read about the UMC calling people to Scriptural holiness. I rarely hear about revivals and camp meetings or Sunday or Wednesday night services. What I often hear – even from some of our clergy and Bishops – is a caving to social norm – to the sin of society. I hear tolerance preached and taught rather than holiness. It seems like we are trying to be popular rather than faithful. I hope I’m not being too harsh. Correct me if I am wrong or being too harsh – please. Continue reading

September 9, 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, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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