Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

John 3:16 – Golf’s Passage

John 3:16

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.

If you watch golf at all – you are well aware that at many golf tournaments – someone will probably have a sign behind the golfers (where the cameras catch it) that reads John 3:16. This passage hit home with me this week as I continue to watch the national and international scene unfold around us. I understand nationalism and I think I understand our need to protect our borders and our people from terrorists and other threats. I listen to the debates about building a wall – denying certain people entrance into the USA – and the need to keep track of certain people. It can be very confusing at times and very mind blowing.

As Christians who are from a certain nation – we are often caught dealing with our national interests and our Christian global interests. Christ died for the whole world (although all will not accept His free gift of salvation). Christ died for the people we are trying to keep out of our nation – even the criminal elements. It is a hard place at times. It is tough taking a stand because there are arguments on both sides of most discussions.

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July 10, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Staying Connected to Jesus!

John 15:4

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

Rays HaircutI think John 15:4 is one of the most significant passages I have ever read.  It falls in the midst of Jesus teaching about Him being the vine and His followers being the branches. Jesus tells us we must remain in Him to live. In order to live and be fruitful – we must remain in Jesus!

When I think of this passage – one thing that comes to my mind is trimming my bushes. Can you identify with this chore? I try to trim my bushes to keep them from getting too large – to keep them from over growing their place in the flowerbeds. It is an ongoing chore – year after year.

When my daughter and son bought a home a few years ago – the previous owners had not trimmed the bushes in some time. The bushes had grown so large they were a safety hazard at the front of the house. You couldn’t see the front door. You couldn’t see the lower part of the front of the house. They trimmed them way back and now the front of the house looks way better. They eventually replaced them with new plants. Continue reading

June 22, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

The Shadow of Death

Psalm 23:4

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Rays HaircutI seem to be doing more funerals as the years mount – and more of the deceased are friends and family. Not too long ago I celebrated four funerals in a five-day period. It is an honor to help families celebrate the life of a loved one. Most funerals I celebrate are from folks in our community – folks I have not had a previous chance to minister to or with – and I just try to bring them a measure of comfort for the short time I have with them. I usually talk with them on the phone and meet them on the day of the service. I often read the 23rd Psalm at the service.

I love today’s portion of the 23rd Psalm. One of the great hopes and blessings of our faith is that we do not have to fear death. I can usually tell people of faith versus people will little or no faith when I share at funerals. The way we face death is telling. Continue reading

June 9, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Have Mercy on Me A Sinner

Luke 18:13

‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

Rays HaircutIt seems so easy for some – maybe even for most – to point out the sins or wrongs performed by others. Little children learn to tattle on their siblings to mom and dad at a young age. It is easy to point a finger at someone else and report their mistakes and sins.

I remember – being told as a child that when I point a finger at someone – I have three fingers pointing back at me. I also remember this passage of Scripture. Matthew 7:3–5 – 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

In the news – we often hear stories from media sources of perceived wrongs of the current administration – yet we don’t always hear the reports that the previous administrations did the very same things. Wrong is wrong – whether someone else did it before us or not – just saying. When we have a penchant toward picking out the mistakes of others before correcting our own mistakes – we leave ourselves open for ridicule and judgment. Continue reading

June 8, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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