Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Jesus said – “Come, follow Me”

Matthew 4:19

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”

A few years ago my home team – the Baltimore Ravens – won the Super Bowl and became world champs. As a dutiful fan I was at a local sporting goods store the next day to buy my Ravens Super Bowl gear (I bought a hat and a jersey – to be used as birthday presents by family members – lol). I didn’t go to the Super Bowl – but a friend did and I lived vicariously through his Facebook posts and pics. I didn’t go to the parade in Baltimore – but watched on TV. To see the crowds in New Orleans and in Baltimore – many people follow their favorite sports teams and players (the jersey was for Joe Flacco and my hat was a Ray Rice hat – both long gone from the current team).

I follow several players on Twitter and enjoy reading their tweets. I also follow certain pastors like Andy StanleyCraig GroeschelTony Evans and others on Twitter. I also follow the blog pages of certain pastors and listen to their podcasts. How many followers do we have on our Twitter account or blog pages? It seems like many of us are ready to follow – to be followers or fans of someone or some team. Following has become a part of our society it seems. Some follow certain politicians or political parties or philosophies. Some follow the teachings of a particular theologian camp – calling themselves CalvinistsWesleyansArminianists – or something else. Some believe they follow a more liberal thought pattern – or more conservative – or call themselves evangelicals or progressives. Following has become part of the culture we live in today – probably always has been in vogue.

FollowJesus

But following Jesus – now this is something a good number of people say they do but few it seems truly follow after the teaching and lifestyle of Jesus fully. Let’s take a look at the morning’s passage in context. According to Matthew’s timeline Jesus had just finished His calling and tempting experience and was beginning His earthly ministry. He was calling His early disciples. Matthew 4:17-25 – 17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” 18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him. 21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. 23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them. 25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.

What stands out to me is that those He called left everything to follow Him. They were commercial fishermen and left their boats – nets – families – and friends to follow Jesus. Jesus said “Come, follow me” and at once they left their nets and followed him. He told them if they followed Him He would make them fishers of men.

One question that arises for me today – when we hear Jesus calling us to come follow Him – are we willing to leave everything and follow Him? Too often I believe we are like these who were called to follow Jesus – yet have excuses for not following just now. Luke 9:57-62 – 57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 59 He said to another man, “Follow me.” But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.” 62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

So what is our excuse when Jesus calls us to follow Him? When we are convinced God wants us to do something – to follow His teachings and example – are we like – sure Lord – I want to follow – but maybe you weren’t aware of whatever we can come up with at the moment? When Jesus calls – we MUST respond and follow.

One more point. When Jesus calls us He always calls us to something more important than what we are currently doing. That importance is not always measured as we measure but it is more important. When the disciples were fishing – Jesus called them to follow Him “and I will make you fishers of men.” Fishing for souls is immeasurably more important than fishing for fish! When God calls we need to respond and follow and prepare for the task. Remember God doesn’t call the qualified He qualifies the called – or God doesn’t call the equipped He equips those He calls. Also one of my sayings takes off on that one – God will not call you to anything He will not equip you to accomplish.

Just something for us to think about today as we go on our way.

August 6, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Gotta Love One Another

John 16:33

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

Rays HaircutI wish I had words or a solution for the hatred in the world. I wish there was a person or political party or nation that had the answers or even a good solution to work with moving forward. I wish our country could come together and rid ourselves of the hatred – the racism – the evil – in our country and in our world today. But I can’t and no one else can – it seems. Martin Luther King Jr. tried and he was killed for his efforts.

I’ve typed several blog posts about what we saw unfold on video before our eyes with the murder of George Floyd at the hands (knee) of Derek Chauvin – a former police officer that should have been weeded out long ago for his tactics and uncontrollable anger. I erased them all – because I have no idea how to deal with such hatred and evil.

Those who know me know I support law enforcement. I also know – I don’t know all that transpired before or during this incident – so anything I say is tainted by my ignorance. Having said that – I cannot sit in silence and not call out such hatred and evil – as we witnessed unfold on video.

I don’t have an answer for it all – but I do believe the answer might be found in telling more people about Jesus – and letting others see Jesus in us. I believe – if we were more excited and convinced of our faith – we would impact more people for Jesus. Continue reading

June 2, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Those Who Are With Us Are More

2 Kings 6:16

“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

img_0063-2I’ve been spending some time today and over the last year (or even 4 decades) – praying and thinking about the predicament the United Methodist Church finds itself in these days. More and more the minority of the denomination but the majority in the USA have been pulling our denomination away from traditional Scriptural truths. It seems like time and again the left or liberal portion of the Methodist Church has been succumbing to the standards of the world rather than the standards of God’s Word.

Over our history – others have pulled away from the main Methodist group because they believed the denomination was leaving the core Biblical truths. There are many Wesleyan denominations – branching off from the core Methodist Church. Here is a list of some of the Wesleyan/Methodist churches in the USA. There are other branches around the world. African Methodist Episcopal ChurchAfrican Methodist Episcopal Zion ChurchAllegheny Wesleyan Methodist Connection (Wesleyan Methodist Church)Association of Independent MethodistsBethel Methodist ChurchBible Methodist Connection of ChurchesChristian Methodist Episcopal ChurchChurch of the NazareneCongregational Methodist ChurchEvangelical Methodist Church of AmericaEvangelical Methodist ChurchEvangelical Wesleyan ChurchFirst Congregational Methodist ChurchFree Methodist Church, The – North AmericaFundamental Methodist ConferenceMethodist Protestant ChurchNational Association of Wesleyan EvangelicalsPrimitive Methodist ChurchSouthern Congregational Methodist ChurchSouthern Methodist ChurchUnited Methodist ChurchWesleyan Church.

As far as I can tell – almost all of these branches of the Wesleyan or Methodist theological strand are more conservative than the current UMC. At some point – each decided to disassociate with the Methodist core or main denomination. Continue reading

February 21, 2020 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

Why Can’t We Just Get Along? Why?

Philippians 2:10

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth

img_0063-2Did anyone watch the democratic debate last night? It seems that it is getting harder and harder to live at peace with one another. The candidates all seemed to be trying to tear down their rivals. They ganged up on one another it seemed. No one came across as a winner or a loving person in my view.

From politics to religion to sports to how we raise our children – people differ in their opinions and seem to have a hard time expressing themselves without anger and attitudes. On top of that – some people seem to have a hard time dealing with a differing opinion. We’ve lost the art of debate and disagreement. It seems many among us cannot disagree without being disagreeable. Why can’t we just get along?

This seems to be the case in the political world for sure. After eight years of a President popular with one segment of the country and now three years of a President popular in a different segment of the country – we are a blazed with disagreement about who should lead us in 2021 and beyond. I have witnessed families and friends have issues because of which way they voted in the 2016 Presidential elections or plan to vote in the 2020 elections. The country is very divided – red and blue – right and left – ideologically. We’ll see what the rest of 2020 brings – leading up to November and the election. Why can’t we just get along? Continue reading

February 20, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Loving Is Not Easy

Romans 12:18

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

img_0063-2Living at peace with each other in days like these is not easy. During this season of time – with General Conference 2020 coming in May with a possible split in the United Methodist Church – post impeachment with the 2020 national elections coming in November – we need to focus as much as possible on living at peace with one another – even those we don’t like or agree with very often. I know – it is not easy to live at peace with people who are diametrically opposed to your ideology or theology – but it is what we are called to do as we walk out our faith. It is not always easy to live at peace with those we love and agree with either. We don’t need to agree with everyone – but as we disagree – we should not be disagreeable. Living at peace with others doesn’t mean we always have to agree for sure.

In today’s passage Paul writes – If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. How do we read this? And – if we read it that we should strive to live at peace with everyone – how well are we doing? If we’re as blue as it gets – even radically blue (far left) – with our politics – how well do we get along with someone who is as red as it gets – even radically red (far right)? Can we discuss our differences without becoming ugly? I know this doesn’t seem to happen on many social media pages I visit. It seems like the far left cannot even comprehend the far right – and vice versa – and they don’t play well together either. Continue reading

February 18, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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