Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Jesus’ Prayer For Unity

John 17:21

…that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

Annual Conference is coming next week – a week I would look forward to in years past – a time to see old friends that are scattered all over the conference. It was a time to renew friendships and share war stories. It was a time to worship and learn and to be challenged. Although there have always been ideologies and theologies that differ from my own – we always seemed to get along – somehow.

In recent years – the divide between us has grown it seems. On issues like human sexuality there doesn’t seem to be a place for us to coalesce. On one side of the discussion – some expressions of sexuality are considered sinful – such as same-sex relations. On the other side of the discussion – same-sex attraction and relations is seen as normal and acceptable. For over four decades this debate has raged – yet in the last few years it seems to have gotten more and more divisive.

Add to the discussion persons born one gender who wish to be seen – treated – and recognized as the other gender – even going so far as to alter their gender identity with surgery – and the divide increases. Continue reading

May 23, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

All Temptations Can Be Rebuked

1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

What is it that tempts us? Is it something we eat? Is it something we wear? Is it something to take to the bank? Is it some feeling we receive from a sexual thought or behavior? Basically it is whatever fuels our desires and pleases our heart. The things that draw our heart tempt us. Satan is the great tempter and he is always working to steal our joy and our relationship with Jesus.

James – the brother of Jesus – wrote these words about temptation. James 1:13–18 – 13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. 16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created. Continue reading

May 22, 2017 Posted by | Build, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Word Of God Endures Forever

Isaiah 40:8

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.

I’ve spent a number of years trying to grow a yard – 20 years to be exact. I remember when my yard was a dust bowl. I remember cutting the weeds and grass – that was scattered around the yard – and working up a small storm cloud of dust.

Eventually I began to grow some grass. After years of aerating and seeding – the yard is starting to take shape. Keeping the weeds down has been a task. I finally went to a yard service to fertilize and treat for weeds. The cost of the service is just slightly more than I would pay for the materials myself and then I would have to put them down – and I can call them back to retreat if the weeds don’t die!!

A bought a new lawnmower this year and I’m cutting the grass twice a week at 4 inches. The grass is growing well and filling in like never before. And the new lawnmower is cutting to clean and mulching too. Continue reading

May 16, 2017 Posted by | Build, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nevertheless, I Have This Against You

Revelation 2:20

Nevertheless, I have this against you:

Pastors are called to serve God (as are we all). Yet – most pastors also serve a congregation of between 20 and 1,000 or more people.

After 40 plus years of serving God and congregations and countless years of training and several degrees – I still don’t always hit the nail on the head in everything I do. I admit that I make mistakes or miss things from time to time. I have even asked the SPRC committee and even the entire congregation to help me see where I fall short in serving the congregation as pastor. I would like to take the space of this article to share some insights as how best to go about that process. How to best critique your pastor (or anyone).

Critiquing people is an art. The old adage that you can get more flies with honey than vinegar is very true. The way we critique a person or an event is almost as important as what we have to say in our critique. If the person/group being critiqued won’t receive the information because of how it is offered – then it hasn’t done any good. Continue reading

May 11, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Stand In The Need Of Grace

Isaiah 64:6

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

When my arm heals – one of the first things I need to do is clean my garage. My wife likes a clean garage. I’ve written this before so not one should be surprised. Argue as I might that a garage is not meant to be clean – she won’t buy it. We have a friend – her name is Nancy – and her garage was always perfectly ordered. My father-in-law’s garage too (that is where Carolyn got the idea of a clean garage I guess – you know – where there are outlines on the wall for EVERYTHING!).

When I clean out my garage – one thing I always come across is some dirty rags. I use old rags for cleaning up most anything and at times they are not thrown away quickly enough for sure. I found one recently that was soaking wet with oil – with dirt – with dust – etc. Whenever I pick up dirty – filthy rags – today’s passage comes to mind.

I am convinced that some of us believe that our sins are not as bad as our neighbor’s sin(s). Some might think that because they go to church – because they may give support to the ministry of the church (time, talent, money, prayers) – they are not as bad as others and not in need of grace like others. When I talk or preach or teach about sin – I always have a mirror in front of my face because I know my sin and I stand in the need of grace! Continue reading

May 8, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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