Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

My KAIROS Experience – Part 5

Matthew 25:39

When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

Life Change(The opening may be repeated – but it is a new devotional thought each day.) This week – I will be relating some of my experiences working with KAIROS over the last weekend in prison ministry at MCI-J. It was a life transforming experience for the men in the prison and for the men who went into the prison to take Jesus to those inside. I was hesitant when I went – some of these men have murdered – have raped – have done armed robbery – have been drug dealers – and some of them are in prison social groups. When I enter a room – especially when I enter a possible troubled room – I always make an exit plan – looking for the fastest way out. There were no escape routes when we were behind bars and barbed wire and such – with only a few guards giving us space.

This week – I will write about some of the men I met and their story. I will not use their names – but believe me – these men are for real. I realize that I met these men in a very limited way – during our 4-day visit – albeit an intense 4-day visit – and I understand through 40+ years of ministry that people can learn what to say at the right time to fool people. Having said that – I believe I have a pretty good fake antenna – I have pretty good discernment. I also realize that what is said at KAIROS should stay at KARIOS – so I will not reveal any personal information – just generalizations that will help others to know the power of this ministry. This ministry – KAIROS – is very Biblical and essential. It is one of the things Jesus called us to do (visit those in prison) and something we will be examined on when Jesus comes in His glory.

This will be the last post in a series of 5 posts on my KAIROS experience – at least for now. I hope the posts have not revealed too much – yet enough to get others interested in supporting this ministry. I have had KAIROS veterans read these posts and make suggestions along the way.

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May 3, 2019 Posted by | Bring, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Vision | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Evangelism Is Essential

Matthew 9:37–38

37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Life ChangeAt First United Methodist Church of Laurel, MD, we talk a lot about evangelism, about reaching the lost for Christ. Evangelism is not a dirty word folks! In the Great Commission, we are called to go and make disciples. Matthew 28:19–20 – 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.” Making disciples is spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and that is evangelism.

Evangelism is – according to one definition I found online, the spreading of the Christian gospel by public preaching or personal witness. A Scripture that defines evangelism, that gives us an example of telling the story of the Gospel, can be found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 – Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.  3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas,  and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. Continue reading

April 25, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

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