Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Do We Love One Another?

John 13:35

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amDo we have a hard time loving others or showing love to others? I know some men who have a hard time showing love – or even saying I love you to family members. Speaking of men – we have our monthly men’s ministry meeting tonight at 7 pm. I hope to see you there.

Typically it is easier to say I love you to those who love us back or do nice things to us or for us. If someone is nice to us or shows us respect – it would seem easier to love them – right?

Loving others is not an easy command from Jesus. In today’s passage Jesus says that others will know we are His followers – His disciples – if we love one another. Think for a moment – are there folks we have a hard time loving?

Here’s today’s passage in partial context. John 13:34–35 – 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Continue reading

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

Anxiety

1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amI know a number of people that battle anxiety. I was reading this passage the other day – and even talked recently to some folks about their anxiety. What are we anxious about in life? What is it that causes us to have trouble sleeping at night? What do we think about and can’t seem to stop thinking about – moment by moment? What decisions in our lives have caused us the most anxiety?

As I reflect back on my life – I can think of numerous things that caused me anxious moments. I can remember being anxious when I went out for the High School football team and cuts were being posted (I made the team each year by the way)! I can remember being anxious when I asked my future bride to marry me and wondering if she would say yes or no (she said yes – and we just celebrated 39 years of marriage). I remember being anxious when my children were being born – the first because she was the first (she is 36 now) – the twins because they were twins (they are now 31). I can remember times when I was anxious about my job – about my health – about many things. And on this side of those anxious moments – I can testify that being anxious didn’t help the situations one little bit. As a matter of fact – being anxious made some of them more difficult and didn’t help my health any at all. Continue reading

September 5, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Are We United Methodist?

Mark 1:17

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amThis is another of my reworked devotionals. Seems some things never change or at least stay the same for a long time. The original post was from 3 years ago – as we had just faced GC2016 and were headed to GC2019. The message from this devotional is still current and accurate as we now head to GC2020.

In today’s climate – this might be a very serious question. Why Am I a United Methodist today?

This is a simple question but it might have complicated answers. Let’s look at a few.

One might answer – because the church I go to is United Methodist. It is the church closest to my home or the church I have always attended. I really haven’t thought of why before but maybe I should.

One might answer – because I grew up in the United Methodist Church. It is the church my parents attended and I have just never thought much about changing or trying another church.

One might answer – because I believe in the method of their theological discernment. Now we’re starting to dive a little deeper. Have any of us thought this deep about our relationship with the denomination we attend.

One might answer – I don’t know! This might be a more common answer than we would like.

One might answer – United Methodist?  You mean I’m United Methodist?

Continue reading

August 22, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Finding Peace In a Noisy World

John 16:33

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

June 2019This is a little different take on the same passage from yesterday. One of the blessings of having a hearing loss is I can put my good ear down on the pillow at bedtime. If people are in the other room talking and I want to get to sleep – I simply place my good ear on the pillow and off to sleep I go. There is a peace and quiet – no matter what is going on around me. It might be why I could fall asleep anywhere as a child – with my parents and others talking up a storm in the same room. I would simply put my good ear down on the floor or a pillow and I could find my happy place – a quiet place to fall asleep. At times I can stay asleep in the morning while others are up and about (even with a bad ear – I have a hard time staying asleep when the wife’s dog goes off though).

My Facebook feed is normally filled with pictures and stories of folks I know that have found peace in one place or another. A while back – a friend – with a foot and lower leg in a cast – shared a picture of him cutting grass on his John Deere – cast in a plastic bag! I know what he meant. When I had my two shoulder surgeries in back to back winters – I couldn’t wait till I could cut my grass. Something about doing something mindless and in the outdoors – is so stress relieving. Some people share pictures of mountain sunsets – beach sunrises – quiet waters – peaceful golf courses – baby animals – mountain top views and more. People enjoying their relaxing time – some quiet time – away from their work and the hustle and bustle of their everyday lives. Where is your happy place? Where would you go to find peace and quiet? Continue reading

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

Can We Disagree While Still Loving Each Other?

Romans 12:18

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

June 2019Of late – I have been disturbed by the number of colleagues that think they are being prophetic by speaking evil about and toward the current POTUS. I disagree greatly with much our current POTUS says and does – as I have with previous presidents – but I wouldn’t say some of the things others are saying. There needs to be a way of disagreeing with the POTUS or others without speaking evil. How are we a witness for Jesus when we join in the name calling and judging? I hear some of the same rhetoric when it comes to those who support the conservative side of our denomination.

Living at peace with each other in days like these is not easy. During this season of time – pre-2020 elections and 2020 General Conference we need to focus as much as possible on living at peace with one another – even everyone. I know – it is not easy to live at peace with people who are diametrically opposed to your ideology or theology – but it is what we are called to do as we walk out our faith. It is not always easy to live at peace with those we love and agree with either. We don’t need to agree with everyone – but as we disagree – we should not be disagreeable. Living at peace with others doesn’t mean we always have to agree for sure.

In today’s passage Paul writes – If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. How do we read this? And if we read it that we should strive to live at peace with everyone – how well are we doing? If we’re as blue as it gets – even radically blue (far left) – even socialists – with our politics – how well do we get along with someone who is as red as it gets – even radically red (far right)? Can we discuss our differences without becoming ugly? I know this doesn’t seem to happen on many social media pages I visit. It seems like the far left cannot even comprehend the far right – and vice versa – and they don’t play well together. Continue reading

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

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