Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Some Things Never Seem to Change

Colossians 2:8

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

img_0063-2Reworked devotional from 2011. Things haven’t changed much in 9 years. Some things never seem to change. Heretical teaching will always lead a person or a church away from God.

The United Methodist Church has been through a lot during my lifetime.  I remember the sawdust camp meetings of my early years where the Bible was preached and lives were transformed for Christ. The authority of Scripture and the centrality of Christ were not questioned. Transformation took place because sound doctrine was taught and the transforming nature of Christ was preached.

During my lifetime I have also seen a  segment of the church’s leadership turn away from truth – turn away from the transforming love of Christ and His Word. During my lifetime I have heard the deceptive philosophy of some church leadership that has led our denomination into decline. During some of the darkest days of the United Methodist Church – when attendance and membership were falling at alarming rates – a group of Bishops led our denomination. Many of these bishops have retired since that time from active church leadership and I do not think it is by any surprise that our denomination is beginning to grow again in certain areas. I do not think it is by surprise that the majority of churches that are growing the fastest in our own conference are being led by pastors who believe in the transforming power of God – the centrality of Christ and the authority of the Bible. Continue reading

February 19, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Essential Doctrines of Our Faith

John 7:16–17

16 Jesus answered, My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. 17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.

img_0063-2What are the essentials of your faith – the essential doctrines? With so many denominations around and non-denominational churches too we can attend – is doctrine an important part of your choice or not? If you are United Methodist – what is the reason? If you are Roman Catholic – why? If you attend a non-denominational church – is the church’s doctrine the reason? Why do we attend the church we attend? Is doctrine a part of that decision or is program the leading concern?

If having a Biblically based church is high on your priority list – what doctrines would be essential for you to have fellowship with a church family? We’ve talked about essentials in a life-partner before. The three I shared with my daughters – while they were growing up – was to find a man who loved Jesus – a man who loves them – and a man who has a good work ethic. What are you essential life-partner rules? What would be your three essential doctrines as you grow in your faith? Continue reading

February 11, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hide God’s Word In Your Hearts

Psalm 119:11

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

img_0063-2In a number of sermons I have mentioned that living for Jesus is enhanced – even made possible – through a deep knowledge of the Word of God. The more we know – the deeper we search the Word of God – the more useful a tool it will be for us in our spiritual journey. I once said – the more we use our Sword (our Bible) the more useful that tool becomes to us – so we encourage people to bring their Bibles to church and to follow along during the sermons. Today we can read our Bible on our smart phones and even follow along on www.Bible.com through our live events and leave notes on the sermons. There are so many tools available to us as we read the Bible.

Reading and storing up the Word of God in our heart – in our mind – is so important. Jesus resisted the Devil when he tempted Him by quoting the Word of God. Jesus was such a student of the Word of God that He knew when Satan was using it wrongly! Matthew 4:1–11 – 1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. Continue reading

January 29, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sound Doctrine – We Need to Hold To It

Hebrews 13:9

Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings (doctrines).   It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them.

img_0063-2A number of people have debated Biblical truth over the years. Sound doctrine – even settled doctrine for 2000 plus years – is being debated by some well-intentioned individuals. People are trying to equate God’s love with some sense of an overwhelming acceptance of sin or even describing sinful acts as acceptable to God. The signs of the end are all around us dear readers. I read in today’s passage that sound doctrine is put up against ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them. We must feast on sound doctrine – rather than on what sounds good with today’s culture.

The example I want to use to help us get the point today is the obesity of our society. Far too often our children – and adults – are fed foods that are empty of value but full of calories. Junk foods – satisfy the mind and stomach – but do not add proper nutrition. These foods are filled with sugar – calories – and chemicals – that are not good for the body. The term junk food refers to items that may taste good – but have little – if any nutritional value. They are high in calories and often loaded with fat. Soft drinks – chips – cookies – candy bars – and much of the food from fast-food stops fit this category.

Our society has a hard time with our weight – because we fill ourselves with way too much feel good junk food. I believe we have the same problem with our theology. Way too often we turn our itching ears to false truths because they sound good. We’re warned about this position by God as Paul writes in his second letter to Timothy. Continue reading

January 15, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Calling All Prayer Warriors

Ephesians 6:18–20

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

img_0063-2Calling all Prayer Warriors!

This morning I feel compelled (obligated, duty-bound) to call on all who will to pray for the church and for your pastors and leaders. According to Scripture: 1 Peter 5:8-98 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith,

The devil is out there and wants nothing more than to devour the Church! Part of standing firm is to stay in prayer together. Pray that the devil not be given even a foothold in our lives and in the church. As Scripture says; Ephesians 4:25-2825 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. Continue reading

January 9, 2020 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

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