Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Forgiveness Is a Wonderful Thing!

Ephesians 4:32

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Life ChangeForgiveness is a wonderful thing! I love to play golf – golf just doesn’t always love me. In golf – some players take mulligans (sort of like a do over). It is not something you’re supposed to assume – it is something your playing partner might offer. Normally – when there wasn’t time to warm up – someone might say – mulligans on the first tee – which means you can take a second tee shot if your first one is a bad shot – a duffer. Of course – when you take a mulligan – you have to play it – even if your mulligan shot is worse than your original shot! Golf is complicated when you add mulligans – lol.

Forgiveness is a wonderful thing! Do overs in life can be a help too – like when you have said or done something you shouldn’t have and want to make amends. Saying you are sorry often helps – but making corrections to what you said or did goes beyond simply words. Oh how I wish I had some do overs in life.

Forgiveness is a wonderful thing! I did a reading plan recently on forgiveness. I urge our readers to get into a regular habit of reading the Word of God. Like I said Sunday in the sermon – knowing what we believe is important – but knowing our source is also important. Knowing why we believe what we believe and where we learned it is important. Continue reading

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May 13, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jesus Throws Us A Curve

1 Peter 3:9a

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult.

Life ChangeIn the Old Testament – we’re told to repay strike for strike. Trying to remove evil from the society – Deuteronomy reads this way. Deuteronomy 19:16–21 – 16 If a malicious witness takes the stand to accuse someone of a crime, 17 the two people involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of the Lord before the priests and the judges who are in office at the time. 18 The judges must make a thorough investigation, and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against a fellow Israelite, 19 then do to the false witness as that witness intended to do to the other party. You must purge the evil from among you. 20 The rest of the people will hear of this and be afraid, and never again will such an evil thing be done among you. 21 Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. The idea is – the punishment should fit the crime. Equal response to wrongs done to you or others.

In the Old Testament – our relationship with God was very vertical. Yes – we should compare ourselves with God (vertical) – rather than with each other (horizontal) – but – not everything is black and white – or eye for eye. In the New Testament – our relationship is defined by how we interact with others. Yes – there is still a need to walk the walk – but – walking the walk is not about following a set of rules so much as showing the love of Christ to others. Continue reading

April 10, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, 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

Forgive As God Forgives

Matthew 6:12

and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. NLT

Life ChangeIf you’re anything like me – sometimes the Bible says things that cause me to pause. Stuff like loving my enemies or turning the other cheek or if you deny me before men I will deny you before My Father in heaven or today’s passage – and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. In many translations the word debt is used or in the common Lord’s Prayer used by many – forgive us our trespasses. Many of us do not understand the meaning as clearly as using the word sin. We are actually asking God to forgive us our sins/debts/trespasses in the same manner in which we forgive others their sin/debt/trespasses against us. This is amazing to me. In the manner that I am gracious – in the way that I forgive – Lord – forgive me.

This seems so amazing to me because many of us – myself included – are not always that gracious. We hold grudges – we are vengeful – we are resentful – we have a hard time forgiving the past. Today I simply challenge us to search our hearts and find the areas where unforgiveness lives in us. I challenge us to be a more grace filled person – a person who is ever ready for new beginnings. Continue reading

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

Forgiveness Is Not Easy

Luke 24:47

and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Life ChangeForgiveness is not easy. One of the hardest things to do is to ask someone for forgiveness. To confess that we have wronged someone is not easy. Even confession to God is not easy. Admitting we have sinned against God or done someone wrong is not an easy thing for most of us. It is hard to humble ourselves to ask for forgiveness.

Forgiveness is not easy. Not only is it hard to ask for forgiveness – often because of pride – we have a hard time forgiving others – at times. Forgiveness takes a heart of love. Forgiveness takes an ability to look beyond our hurt and see the possibilities of redemption and healing. Forgiveness requires us to show a measure of mercy that some of us have a hard time expressing. Continue reading

January 18, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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