Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

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

Remain Faithful

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Life ChangeGod’s grace is amazing as the song – Amazing Grace – records (isn’t that one of your favorite older hymns?).  One of the best promises in the Bible – IMHO (in my humble opinion) – is this one about the forgiveness of sins. We are all sinners in need of God’s grace and forgiveness. Today’s passage speaks of God’s desire to forgive. 1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Most of us have experienced deals before – like if you do something – I will do something. As children I remember getting notes passed in school – with if you like me – I will like you. As adults we learn that if we work at a certain job – the boss will pay us a certain paycheck. I’m sure we can all come up with if you I will life experiences. We have one in today’s passage when we’re told if we confess our sins – He will forgive our sins. Continue reading

January 29, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Being Faithful To God

Ruth 1:16

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.”

In a couple of months – my wife and I will celebrate 38 years of marriage. They have mostly been fantastic years (she might say otherwise). Our oldest just turned 35 and our twins will be 30 soon. Our oldest grands are 5 and there are two that are 3 and one that is 1. More might be coming in the years to come. I would hope that as a family we will stick together thru thick and thin. Two daughters lived out-of-state for a season of time and that was hard – especially on their mother. We are now all together in Maryland. I pray that God will keep us all together in some fashion as we age and continue to live and be a blessing to each other and to others. All have a deep faith and trust in God and that is a blessing. I pray – as a family – we will remain faithful to God.

Soon I will finish my 42nd year in ministry (37th in ordained ministry – 38th under appointment). Time flies – let me tell you. A number of the interns I have been blessed to serve with have already retired or left the active ministry. Some are still at it. It has been mostly a blessing. Retirement isn’t too far off. Yet – we will remain faithful to God and God’s Word – and serve Christ and His church somehow – even in retirement. I pray I will always be faithful to God. Continue reading

May 30, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

1 John 3:18

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

Actions speak louder than words! Have we all heard that phrase? Husbands and wives say it to one another – young people dating say it to one another – parents use it with their children. Have you ever used it? We want the person we are speaking with to understand that mere words are not enough – we want to see actions as well. Actions speak louder than the words we use. We can say we love someone – we can say we will do something – but words are merely words unless we back them up with actions.

Politicians are infamous for saying anything to get elected and when elected doing whatever they wish (although some are starting to do what they say of late). If we could find a number of leaders that would do what they say – we might just turn our nation around! Continue reading

January 24, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Be Faithful Even To Death

Revelation 2:10

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.

IMG_0301Most of us have read or heard of the seven churches that the Apostle John addresses in the Book of Revelation.  One of these churches – the church in Smyrna – was given the above warning as part of God’s address to them through John’s writing.  God addressed several churches in the 1st Century – giving them instructions on how to walk by faith!

The call to Christians in this passage and many others is to be faithful – no matter what happens.  We’ve talked about that a number of times in Sunday messages.  Some of the early Christians were sold out for Jesus to the point that they faced physical torture and even death rather than deny Christ.  I wonder how the church today would handle the kind of persecution the early church faced? Continue reading

July 3, 2015 Posted by | Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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