Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

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

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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

God Loved Us First!

1 John 4:19

 We love because he first loved us.

Life ChangeSunday’s message was about the love God has for us. We talked about our first love. We talked about the memories we have from our first love. We also talked about our forever love with our significant other.

We talked about smells and songs and places that reminded us of our first love. We also talked about the same with our forever loves. I remember mentioning that I had loads more memories of my forever love – 38 years and counting. I’m not dumb!

We also talked about the times we have hurt our love and our love has hurt us. We talked about forgiveness and holding grudges. We talked about how we needed – this Christmas – to make amends with those we were at odds with and two persons came up to me after worship and told me they were planning to do so this week! Praise the Lord! Continue reading

December 17, 2018 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Putting Satan and Guilt Behind Us

Philippians 3:13

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead

Photo on 10-9-18 at 2.15 PMA number of our members are dealing with the guilt of the past. Several have come to me to talk about it. This is one of the biggest issues many of us face – forgetting the past and straining toward the future. Some of us tend to live in the past and the past – most often – will only hold us down and hold us back. Forgiving ourselves is often the problem. Long after we have confessed our sin to God and repented (grieved and turned away from our sin) of them and God has offered grace and mercy we still tend to hang on to the guilt – at times. Anyone with me this morning?

Paul was focused on being holy – being perfect – striving after Jesus with all in his power. In striving for perfection – he couldn’t – he wouldn’t – allow himself to dwell on past sin – having confessed it and repented of it – he was focused on the task ahead.

Satan wants us to dwell on our past sins. Satan wants to steal the joy of forgiveness – mercy – and grace. Satan wants us to live in guilt and without the freedom that comes from forgiveness. Think about it! Is there where some of us dwell? Continue reading

October 16, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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