Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Guarding Our Tongues and Our Online Posts

Colossians 4:6

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

I often wrestle with today’s subject. I believe we are our own worst enemies in reaching people for Christ and in church life. At times – some of us – if not all of us from time to time – have allowed our tongues to get us in trouble – saying the wrong thing – letting our true attitudes surface through our words (and if not our tongues than our e-mails or tweets or something). Many of us have criticized the POTUS for his tweets – but maybe we ought to examine what we post on social media as well.

At times we try to mask our cutting remarks with humor – but the truth of our heart surfaces through our tongues and through our posts. Maybe it was at a meeting where we let our tongue get us in trouble – being negative – saying the wrong thing – showing our anger or displeasure in less than a godly fashion. Maybe we said something that others overheard when we thought no one else was around. Maybe it was the choice of words that we used – using language that is crude or offensive. Maybe it was something we posted or liked or commented on while on social media. I’m sure we can think of times when we allowed our tongue or thoughts get us in trouble and damage our Christian witness. Continue reading


April 19, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Do We Mention In Our Prayers?

1 Thessalonians 1:2

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers.

So – in our prayer life – whom do we mention? 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 other items on our plate. 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?

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 special General Conference of 2019 – 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

April 13, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Easter Has Come And Gone – Or Has It?

Romans 8:1

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

Easter has come and gone for another year – or has it? 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 Easter is celebrated again next year.

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 means once or twice a month – 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 4, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wake Up And Be Counted!

Revelation 3:2

Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.

During the week of VBS – each year – my dad would wake us up with a song I believe he made up. At the top of his singing voice – which was considerable – he would sing his Vacation Bible School song. I can still remember him singing it today. It woke us up for this day long – week-long event. I fondly remember it now – but at the time I was not too happy.

Dad wasn’t the subtle type. He didn’t come up and lovingly whisper in our ears that it was time to get up and gradually allow us to deal with the early hour. He allowed us to stay asleep as long as possible – I assume – and then he WOKE US UP! Continue reading

January 18, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jesus Came To Seek And Save The Lost

Luke 19:10

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

One Christmas – when our oldest daughter was just a young toddler – we were shopping in a store in the old Parole Shopping Center in Annapolis. It was a nice family time – my wife – my daughter – and I – shopping together for Christmas. For a split moment Carolyn and I thought the other one was watching Shelly and she got out from under our eye. We panicked. We starting telling people to lock the doors – no one was to leave – we were scurrying around – frantically looking for our little redheaded child. It was the biggest scare we ever experienced. Nothing in all the world was more important at that moment than finding our lost daughter.

As we were frantically looking around – over the loudspeaker at the store came our relief. Would the parents of a precious little redheaded girl come to a certain sales station? There was our precious Shelly – sitting on the counter – talking to all who would listen – telling them her parents were lost (LOL). We never had a more horrific moment or such a moment of joy – so closely wrapped into the same event. Continue reading

December 20, 2017 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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