Ray McDonald's Blog

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Small Fellowship Groups

Ecclesiastes 4:12

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Life ChangeA men’s ministry I was blessed to work with in years gone by used a very similar passage as their base Scripture – Proverbs 27:17 – As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. They believed that part of the benefit of being in fellowship together was the way they could enhance each other’s walk with Christ. They called themselves Iron to Iron. They met monthly for a meeting. Many of them were in the same weekly Bible Study and Sunday School class. We had 25-30 men in a weekly Bible Study and over 80 adults in one class for Sunday School. It was a time of great spiritual growth. A number of the men took road trips together to Promise Keeper events. One such event was Stand in the Gap in Washington – DC – on October 4, 1997. I was there and reports are – so were nearly 3 million men. It was a life experience I will never forget.

I mentioned recently – to our current Bible Studies – that part of the reason we spend the first portion of our studies talking about praises and prayer concerns is to get to know one another better. Small group ministries are very important. I would imagine that upwards of 50% of a typical congregation only attend worship each week with the church family. If folks only spend an hour plus with one another a week – with the pastor – with the family of God – at their local place of worship – they will not know each other well. Spending time in a small group where one could ask questions – where others can interject their thoughts – always opens up dialogue. Continue reading

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May 10, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Deny Self and Follow Christ

Matthew 26:35

Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.

Life ChangeLent is almost over for 2019. We have a special Seder meal tomorrow night. I hope you signed up. Hope to see you there. We have our Good Friday service Friday at 7 pm. We will continue our walk toward the cross with John’s gospel. Lent – according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary – is defined as – a period of 40 days before Easter during which many Christians do not eat certain foods or do certain pleasurable activities as a way of remembering the suffering of Jesus Christ. 

Today’s passage is about Peter and the disciples saying they would not deny Christ – that they would actually die with Jesus if need be. Here is today’s passage in partial context. Matthew 26:30-39 – 30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 31 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 33 Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” 35 Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same. 36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Continue reading

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

May We Only Boast in the Cross

Galatians 6:14

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Life ChangeDid your team win the National Championship in Division 1 basketball? Virginia won for the men. My cousin Mac went to Virginia and he was very happy. Did your team even make the dance? If so – how far did they go? My team – Maryland – made the dance and made it to the second round – but fizzled out. Did any of us boast on social media about our team? How about at work or in other conversations?

Did our team win their opening game in Major League Baseball this week? The Orioles usually do but didn’t this year. Which team will win their division this year – the league championship – the World Series? If our team is playing well – will we compare them to other teams and boast a little in our circles? The Orioles started out real well and had a few good games – but are losing as of late.

I saw some parents posting on Facebook about their children’s spring teams and some about their children’s scholastic achievements. I’m so proud of our youth and the youth I know. Some High School seniors I know are busy preparing for college or careers. Our new favorite college team might just be where our child attends – even if we never saw ourselves rooting for them before! Continue reading

April 12, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Open Letter to Bishop Easterling and the Baltimore-Washington Conference

Life ChangeI couldn’t think of what to post today. I usually post something – Monday through Friday – at 9 am. Today – nothing came to mind. I had writer’s block. I wasn’t going to post anything – just simply miss a day. And – just before I went live for prayer on my Facebook page – this came across my feed. It is a well written response to the BWC’s Bishop’e letter that came out on March 2nd – in response to the Special General Conference of the United Methodist Church in late February. I thought this was a fantastic response to her letter and so I decided to post it here for others to read.

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The Board of the Baltimore-Washington Conference Chapter of the Wesleyan Covenant Association offers this letter in response to Bishop Easterling’s recent Pastoral Letter to the Conference.

Bishop Easterling and People of the Baltimore Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church:

We write to you today with hearts of peace and out of a deep love for God and each of you. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be yours in abundance in these trying times!

Bishop, we listened intently to your words at the briefing session held in Fulton on March 2, 2019. We were encouraged and thankful for your comments at that time which emphasized your intention to be “the Bishop of all and for all.” While we both understand and lament the deep divisions evidenced in the outcome of the Special Session of General Conference, especially the pain from all parties, we welcomed your conciliatory tone and attempts at unifying our Conference. Therefore, your recent pastoral letter both saddens and alarms us. We found your latest strong denunciation of what we believe, and questions of our Christian character, very concerning. Further, despite your title to the letter, we did not receive these words as “pastoral.” We do not wish to ascribe any uncharitable motives on your part, but are wondering if this signals some change in your position. Your clarification in this matter would be greatly appreciated. Continue reading

March 12, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Vision | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sin and God’s Perfect Design

Life ChangeThis is not a typical devotional thought. Today, I have been caught up in a theological discussion on Facebook (not the best place for such things but it is a tool to use to reach folks one might not be able to reach otherwise). I’m caught off guard – some – by those who differ with my understanding of God. The following – without names – is part of the discussion. I would welcome your thoughts and understanding on the issue at hand – namely – can we say we were born a certain way by God’s design or has sin caused a deviation or atypical altering of God’s perfect plan for us? I will identify my comments and will not post all  comments here. You can read all on my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ramonmcdonald).

This theological understanding is deep in a thread. If you are not following the thread, you may not have seen it. It was my theological explanation for why we see deviations from God‘s perfect design of humanity, even of the world. I would be interested in your theological take?

(I wrote) I believe that all deviations from God’s perfect design are a result of our brokenness from God (sin). That brokenness can be personal sin, the sin of others, or our collective sin (humanity). God did not, as I understand it, create these deviations. Now God can use them, even to His glory, but let’s not say God made me or designed me with these deviations from His perfect design. Somewhere along the line, brokenness (sin) has caused the deviations we see. Sin or brokenness is the ultimate issue we face. In the case of birth defects, somewhere our genetic makeup has changed. For instance, a person’s use of drugs or alcohol could cause genetic change for their descendants (personal sin). This same change in genetics could’ve been caused several generations back and passed on unknowingly (the sin of others). This same change in genetics could be caused by environmental change (think ozone destruction or the chemicals in our food or water)(sin of humanity). This is not meant to place blame, it is an attempt to explain deviations from God’s perfect design in creation. Continue reading

March 1, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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