Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Our Heart Is Revealed

James 4:1

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?

Have any of us ever seen a child throw a temper tantrum? Maybe it was because they didn’t get what they wanted or what they thought they deserved or were entitled to for some reason? Maybe they were in the grocery store and wanted a certain box of cereal they had seen on TV. Maybe it was Christmas morning or at a birthday party and the gift they wanted wasn’t there or the gift they got disappointed them somehow. I pick on children because they haven’t learned to hide their emotions like many of us have (some of us haven’t). They let that raw heart-felt emotion show many times. Our heart is revealed – often – by our actions.

Adults are not innocent here my friends. I have seen grown adults – in church meetings no less – throw temper tantrums – throwing down a clipboard – pulling power plays to gain an upper hand in a discussion – and more. Do we ever sit back – after an outburst by someone (or by ourselves) and wondered – where did that come from? James asks that question today – What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? Our heart is revealed – often – by our actions. Continue reading

December 22, 2017 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spending Time With God First Thing Each Morning!

Psalm 119:147

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word.

Easter morning I rose at 4:30 am.  I know that some of our men and women – some of my friends – wake that early or earlier on a regular basis.  Two of my sons gets up that early most every day.  It is not my usual time to rise though.  As a matter of fact – there have been nights I haven’t gone to sleep until that time!  My normal time to rise is 6:00 am or so.  By that time we were starting worship on Easter morning.  It was a powerful morning – we had a great time worshiping God with the tribe from Judah Temple AME Zion Church.  The sun rose and we were celebrating the Son rising.

Continue reading

April 13, 2012 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How and When Does God Speak to the Pastor?

Have you ever wondered where the inspiration comes for the pastor to prepare a message each week?  The Holy Spirit speaks through a number of resources.  Recently in a sermon I mentioned that I listen to a number of sermons on podcasts each week.  I also mentioned that I try to read a number of blogs and books (not enough of them).  I also said that at times – sermon ideas come from these resources.  God speaks to my heart and I occasionally use the ideas of others to relay what God is saying to me (there is nothing new under the sun).

Some have questioned this by suggesting that the Holy Spirit should speak directly to a pastor and that all sermons should come out of the pastor’s relationship with God (I’m stretching this some to make a point).  I want to suggest that my relationship with God is more than my prayer life and my reading of the Bible.  Surely these are primary – but reading or listening to how God speaks to others should also be useful resources. Pastors for generations have used the writings of others – an example would be the many commentaries written to help us understand the Bible (not equal to the Bible but useful for discerning the truth of the Bible).  A generation ago most every pastor I knew had a set of commentaries in their office – others’ ideas on the Scriptures.  They used these to prepare their sermons each week.

Today I do not need to have one set of commentaries on the Bible – I have many. My Bible program has no less than 30 different commentaries as well as over 3 dozen sets of sermons and writings on the Scriptures including sermons written by John Wesley – John Calvin – Martin Luther and others.  With the internet – I also listen to sermons through podcasts preached by the likes of Craig Groeschel – Andy Stanley – Ravi Zacharias and others – such as preachers I know that put their sermons on their websites or on iTunes.

With these additional resources – I get to look at the Scriptures – not only from my point of view – but also from the eyes of other men of God.  Have you ever used two translations of the Bible to better understand a passage?  These resources are like multiple translations.  I try to let you know when I am taking more than just a few ideas from them – like I did this past Sunday when I mentioned that a lot of the ideas for the Guardrails Series came from a sermon series that Andy Stanley preached in his church last year.  In doing this I am not trying to name drop but rather to be honest with the resources I use – like the series last year when I used a number of ideas from the book written by Reggie Joiner as we launched our children’s and youth focus – Orange (family-yellow and church-red combined to make orange).  Some saw this series as one of the best we have shared and some saw it as a book report.  I saw it as a creative way of presenting what the Holy Spirit was telling the staff and church leadership about the direction of our ministry.

I ask for your prayers next week (on Thursday) as I will set aside a day – with two other pastors from the area – to seek what God would have us preach to our congregations in the coming months.  We will spend time praying together – picking our brains – and doing individual work for each of our churches.  My prayer is that God will give me just what is needed for our spiritual journey together as we reach the whole family for Christ.

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

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February 11, 2011 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Sermons | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

   

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