Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

“Come Follow Me” – Jesus Said

Mark 1:17

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

Life ChangeThis is a reworked devotional – produced on Tuesday for Friday so I won’t need to write a new one while I’m at Annual Conference.

In today’s climate – this might be a very serious question. Why Am I a United Methodist today?

This is a simple question but it might have complicated answers. Let’s look at a few.

One might answer – because the church I go to is United Methodist. It is the church closest to my home or the church I have always attended. I really haven’t thought of why before but maybe I should.

One might answer – because I grew up in the United Methodist Church. It is the church my parents attended and I have just never thought much about changing or trying another church.

One might answer – because I believe in the method of their theological discernment. Now we’re starting to dive a little deeper. Have any of us thought this deep about our relationship with the denomination we attend. Do we understand the theological process of discernment for the United Methodist Church?

One might answer – I don’t know! This might be a more common answer than we would like.

One might answer – United Methodist?  You mean I’m United Methodist? Continue reading

May 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 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Holiness Still Our Call?

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.”

Today’s passage is called 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 remember revivals and camp meetings and altar calls and still use them today.

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 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. Continue reading

February 6, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Children of God

1 John 3:1

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

profileChristmas is just around the corner folks – are you ready?  Ready or not – it will be here shortly.  I pray that you have a Merry Christmas with family and friends.  If you don’t have family or friends – make some friends this year!  I hope I can say – go to your local Christian church and develop some new friends this Christmas.  I know you will find new friends at 1st UMC in Laurel – drop by some Sunday (8:15, 11 am) or Christmas Eve (4, 7, 11pm).

For those blessed with family – Christmas is normally a good time.  Days off of work (at the very least Christmas Day and New Year’s Day for most) – time to spend with family and friends.  What gatherings are on your calendar?  Our McDonald family gathering was last night.  We gathered at my sister’s home and shared time with Nan (my mom) and her off-spring.  We weren’t all there last night – but a quick count would yield 39 and counting I think.  We always have a great time.  We didn’t play the gift game this year at my sister’s request – but we had fun none-the-less. Continue reading

December 16, 2013 Posted by | Advent Thought, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Marriage, Outreach, Personal | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Imitators of Christ?

1 Corinthians 11:1

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. NKJV

profileWhen I was a younger lad – my mom tells the story of a snowy winter day while we lived in Seat Pleasant – MD.  The snow was pretty deep – I was probably 4th or 5th grade – and my father had gone out into the yard to bring in some fire wood to help keep the house warm (and for the beauty of an open fire in the fireplace – dad loved fires in the fireplace).  As mom would tell the story I tried very hard to follow my dad – to walk in his footprints in the snow.  But in trying to step in his long strides and land where his next step landed – I tumbled over into the snow bank.  I tried a few times.  The point is I was trying to imitate or follow my father.  I failed – many times – but the main point of the story was that I was trying to imitate my dad.  I was watching my father and trying to step in his footsteps.

There have been stories like this over the course of my growing up days.  My dad was a great example for a young man to follow.  Many followed his example – not just my little brother – sister and me.  A number of young men and women followed his example – a number became pastors and leaders in the church.  When he died – there were many men and women who expressed – in person – in e-mail and through social media how much dad’s example meant to them.  Dad walked the walk – he didn’t just talk the talk.  His legacy was a godly example for his children and others to follow.

Who is watching you?  Who is trying to follow in your footsteps?  Who is striving to imitate you Continue reading

September 30, 2013 Posted by | Daily Devotion | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Follow My Example

John 13:15-17

15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

profileDuring my youth – I heard a number of parents say – do as I say – not as I do.  Not my parents mind you – but friend’s parents.  They wanted them to not smoke – yet they smoked.  They wanted them to not drink – yet they drank – and some of them pretty heavily if the empties in the trash were any indication.  They wanted their children to go to church – yet so many of them had fathers that didn’t attend and one had a mom that didn’t as well.  They wanted their children to not do drugs – yet they had their Valium to settle their nerves at the end of the day or that glass of wine to unwind.

Do as I say – not as I do – didn’t work very well for my friends and their parents.  Some of my friends said their parents were hypocrites – and they were right IMHO.  Some said they had no place telling them what to do – since their lives were so messed up.  At times I could see their point.  At times I thought maybe their parents were trying to warn them of the evils that had taken over their lives.  It was the 60’s and not a lot made sense to a young person! Continue reading

September 2, 2013 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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