Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Mercy to All

1 Timothy 1:16

But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amMercy is not something that many of us offer very easily. Many of us are more into what is fair. Mercy is not fair.

I love this passage from Paul – it shows his heart – a heart of humility and of reality. He firmly believed that he was a sinner saved by grace. If Paul – one of the patriarchs of our faith – thinks of himself as a sinner – saved by grace – ought not we all?

Paul believed that the sins of his past – made him unworthy to be of service to God – yet was thankful that God showed him grace – and called him to His service. He is what he wrote:

1 Timothy 1:12-16 – 12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

I can identify with Paul. I too have sin in my past that makes me feel less than worthy to be saved – let alone to be called to serve God. My sin is grievous to me. Yet by God’s grace – I have been forgiven – and not only forgiven – but called – and not only called – but used for God’s purposes. It amazes me – it humbles me – it causes me to desire to do all that God will allow me to accomplish for His glory.

What about you? Mercy – Grace – God’s love – are offered to all who would receive it. Like Paul – won’t you receive the free gift of God’s grace today – and be amazed with him that God could use you?

Just something for us to think about today as we go on our way.

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August 20, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Should Always Check Our Attitudes

Colossians 4:6

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

There are times I think that we are our own worst enemies in church life. At times – some of us – if not all of us from time to time – have allowed our tongues to get us in trouble – saying the wrong thing – letting our true attitudes surface through our words (and if not our tongues than our e-mails or tweets or something). At times we try to mask it with humor – but the truth of our heart surfaces through our tongues. Maybe it was at a meeting where we let our tongue get us in trouble – being negative – saying the wrong thing – showing our anger or displeasure in less than a godly fashion. Maybe we said something that others overheard when we thought no one else was around. Maybe it was the choice of words that we used – using language that is crude or offensive. Maybe it was just the way we said something. I’m sure we can think of times when we allowed our tongue to get us in trouble and damage our Christian witness.

Andy Stanley says in his book Enemies of the Heart that the tongue speaks what the heart feels – yet I know most of us try to guard the tongue rather than heal the heart (another sermon series in there somewhere). Read an earlier post on that book here. Continue reading

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

Can I Pay Your Mortgage?

Romans 3:24

…and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Life ChangeAs a pastor – I’ve often tried to come up with ways to get people to come to worship or to fellowship with believers. Early in my ministry I tried to get church leaders to place a sign outside the church that read – Men’s Tuesday Night – BYOB. Of course they wouldn’t do it. Some thought the BYOB meant bring your own bottle but I meant it to mean bring your own Bible to our Tuesday night men’s Bible study. I was hoping some might come for the wrong meaning and find good fellowship if they came. I thought it was worth a try! No one took me up on the suggestion. What do you think?

As a pastor – I’ve often tried to come up with ways to get people to come to worship or to fellowship with believers. Another example from my early years in ministry was the time I encouraged everyone who could drive to drive to church one Sunday morning (no carpooling). My hope was for people to see the parking lot full and wonder – what’s going on at that church – maybe we ought to visit and find out. That only went over so-so. But it wasn’t long before the parking lot was actually full – for real! Again – I’d try just about anything to get people to Jesus. Continue reading

March 20, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How’s Our Prayer Life

Psalm 27:4

One thing I ask from the Lord…

Life ChangeThe Special General Conference (SGC) begins tomorrow. They are meeting in St. Louis – and delegates from all over the world will be there – representing the United Methodist Church. We are a global denomination with over 12 million members. The Methodist movement has approximately 80 million worldwide in various denominations that have their roots in the Wesleyan movement of Christianity.

At the SGC – there will be 864 delegates – with 58 percent from the United States and 30 percent from Africa. The remaining delegates are from the Philippines – Europe – and Eurasia – as well as from churches with which The United Methodist Church has formal relationships.

If we could ask for one thing of God – what would it be? Would we ask for unity in the denomination? Would we ask for a peaceful split? I know my prayer has been for us to be open to the Holy Spirit. I have prayed for unity – but not at the cost of doctrinal integrity. I have prayed for the church to understand clearly the Word of God and to rightly determine its use in our lives. What would we ask for if we could ask for one thing of God?

Let me ask another question. How’s our prayer life? Prayer is how we speak with God. How’s our prayer life? Continue reading

February 22, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, 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

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