Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!

Mark 10:28

Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”

Life ChangeWhat does it cost us to follow Jesus? Jesus once said – Matthew 16:24–26 – 24 Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

What does it cost us to follow Jesus? Have you ever thought about this question? Tuesday night we talked about the resurrection and how many Christians in America have a different view of the resurrection – of eternity – than Christians from other countries. In America – many Christians have so much that they don’t keep laser focused on heaven – on eternity. Instead – many Christians in America are living with so much – eternity takes a back seat in their thinking. They assume it is there – but instead of focusing on it – as some Christians from 3rd world countries do – they focus on the here and now – their wealth and life. So – where does Christ’s words above come into play? Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? Continue reading

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March 7, 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, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Holiness Still Our Call?

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.”

Today’s passage is called 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). 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 remember revivals and camp meetings and altar calls and still use them today.

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 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. Continue reading

February 6, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stand Up And Be Counted

Esther 4:14

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?

Photo on 9-10-18 at 11.09 AMNot too long ago I attended a gathering of clergy from the Laurel area. Our common ground is our love for Jesus and our evangelistic approach to spreading the gospel. We differ in many ways – like age – gender – race – size of our churches – and our personal stories – as we learned today as some of us shared some of our journey.

Race is a huge issue in our nation these days – as it has been for generations it seems. Some of what the media put before us in the last month or so has heightened our awareness that racism (hatred and bigotry toward a difference race) is still alive and unfortunately in some circles – still thriving. Racism is found in every race – and is expressed toward persons of other races. Instead of judging a person by the content of their heart – their character – some still in 2018 judge people by the hue of their skin. We must all be in prayer for one another and do whatever we can to destroy racism in our hearts and in our churches and communities. Racism is sin and as such can only be overcome by Jesus and His love. Continue reading

October 5, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Great Adventure With Jesus

Romans 13:14

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

I remember playing pretend as a child. My brother and I would dress up like soldiers and playing Combat! It was fun to pretend. I was usually Sergeant “Chip” Saunders – played by Vic Morrow. I even had a plastic machine gun to complete the ensemble. I remember I had an army canteen and an army backpack (for my sandwiches for lunch). My brother and I would make adventures in the sand dunes between our house and beside grandmother’s home. It was fun playing make believe. When we got a little older we would play in the woods or even in the cemetery next door to the parsonage. It was great fun pretending.

We just finished a week of VBS at First UMC of Laurel. The theme was having great adventures – Rolling River Rampage. The children had a blast. They had great adventures on the river and learned about Jesus. They imagined a number of adventures on the river. We collected funds to support those devastated by the rising river in Ellicott City.

They learned that some adventures are imaginary – and some are real – like walking with Jesus can be an adventure but it is for real! We learned that following Jesus – who died to pay for our sins and to allow us into a right relationship with God the Father – can be a great adventure too. We were also encouraged to tell others of our excitement – being in an adventure with Jesus. Continue reading

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

Day 43 of Lent 2018

Matthew 26:14

Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests

Today is day 43 of the 47 Days of Lent reading plan (Sundays don’t count in the 40 days of Lent). I hope you have stayed with us – this is the final week – Holy Week. Today’s passage is about Judas and how he planned to spy on Jesus. Whether he was simply used by Satan – or was evil himself – or was simply trying to force Jesus’ hand to overtake Rome – he waited for an opportunity.

Lent is typically a time to give something up – to stop a bad habit – to deny self – to dig deeper into our walk with Jesus. Today we continue to look at some passages that will lead us to the cross and to the resurrection. Let us focus on Jesus this week – more than usual. Let us identify with the walk and the sacrifice Jesus made for each of us. Jesus came to earth – voluntarily – to walk to the cross. I cannot imagine how Judas could have turned Jesus over to the chief priests. Continue reading

March 28, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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