Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Jesus’ Prayer For Unity

John 17:21

…that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

Annual Conference is coming next week – a week I would look forward to in years past – a time to see old friends that are scattered all over the conference. It was a time to renew friendships and share war stories. It was a time to worship and learn and to be challenged. Although there have always been ideologies and theologies that differ from my own – we always seemed to get along – somehow.

In recent years – the divide between us has grown it seems. On issues like human sexuality there doesn’t seem to be a place for us to coalesce. On one side of the discussion – some expressions of sexuality are considered sinful – such as same-sex relations. On the other side of the discussion – same-sex attraction and relations is seen as normal and acceptable. For over four decades this debate has raged – yet in the last few years it seems to have gotten more and more divisive.

Add to the discussion persons born one gender who wish to be seen – treated – and recognized as the other gender – even going so far as to alter their gender identity with surgery – and the divide increases. Continue reading

May 23, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

There Is Now No Condemnation

Romans 8:1

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

Easter has come and gone for another year. Churches were packed Sunday from sunrise services through regular and extra worship services. Some of my colleagues had to hold Easter services off-sight for a variety of reasons. Some wanted to reach the unchurched and thought off-site might be the best way to do this. Some would have had to hold so many services in their current facilities that it made sense to go off-site to a larger facility. Some for both reasons and maybe some others as well. I imagine that some saw larger crowds than they will see all year until next Easter or maybe Christmas Eve.

If their attendance was anything like I have experienced over the years – although there were some visitors – like family visiting for the long holiday weekend – folks looking for a church or simply the C&E folks (Christmas and Easter) – mostly the higher attendance is a product of the regular folk all attending on the same Sunday. Sadly – studies show that regular for some folks means once or twice a month these days – something less than most every Sunday. When attendance on a regular Sunday is say 75 and on Easter it blossoms to 125 with only 10 visitors – that suggests that if your regulars were regular – your normal attendance might be closer to 115 than 75. Continue reading

April 17, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gifting Of The Church Part IV

Ephesians 4:11-16

11 It was he (Christ) who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

RayMcDThis is the fourth part of this series – I think there will be five parts. Today we will follow up of Friday’s article on verse 14. That verse gave us one result of the gifting of the church. Today we will look at a second, verse 15.

When God gifts us we are to use that gifting to uplift and serve the Body of Christ. Verse 14 told us last week that the results of using the gifting properly are; we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. The gifting of the church then is to give the people of God a foundation and secure hold on truth.

Instead of being tossed around we – the church – should be standing strong in the face of all attacks. The gifting of the church is supposed to enable us to stand strong. A young adult I know has Stay Strong on his e-mails and text messages. The gifting of the church enables us to stay strong. Continue reading

March 6, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gifting Of The Church Part II

Ephesians 4:11-16

11 It was he (Christ) who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

RayMcDFollowing up the post from yesterday that featured verse 11 talking about the gifts that God gives the church – I want to speak about the purpose of those gifts – namely – apostles – prophets – evangelists – pastors – and teachers.

The gifting of the church with these church offices or ministries is for one purpose. That purpose is to glorify the person in the office so they can have present glory and have a name in the community. (Have you stopped reading yet – lol?) Of course that is not correct. Yet at times that is the spirit that some people seek positions or offices in the church. Many seek title or prestige or position. When I served on the Board of Ordained Ministry (BOOM) – we often ran into candidates who simply wanted to be called Reverend (on the District level as well).

When God gifts us we are to use that gifting to uplift and serve the Body of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 we read about spiritual gifting and in the midst of that teaching we read in 1 Corinthians 12:7 – Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. It is the same here in Ephesians when speaking of the appointments or offices of the church. We read that the offices are given Ephesians 4:12-13 – 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Continue reading

March 2, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let The Holy Spirit Transform Us

Matthew 22:37-38

37 Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

RayMcDI thought of this passage the other day. I heard a pastor once ask – the question isn’t the one we typically hear – how much of the Holy Spirit do we have? The question should be – how much of you have we allowed the Holy Spirit to have? He also reminded us that the Holy Spirit comes to transform us – to change us – to make us holy.

As I think about today’s passage I begin to think – how committed are we to God? We talk about being saved – but are we only after someone to save us from Hell? Isn’t Jesus also our Lord – our Master? If the Holy Spirit dwells in us through this salvation – what difference are we allowing Him to make in us – in our lives?

I know some Christians who have made radical changes in their lives. Some have stopped smoking when they came to Christ. Some have cleaned up their language – no longer sounding like sailors. Some have turned from drug addictions. Some have turned from pornography. Some have turned from same-sex relations or extra-marital relations. Some have made radical changes in their lives because of Christ in their lives – because of the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. Continue reading

November 21, 2016 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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