Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Praying for Our Enemies and Others

1 Thessalonians 1:2

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers.

Life ChangeSo – in our prayer life – whom do we mention? The typical night-time prayer for a child is – God bless mommy and daddy – God bless my brother and sister – and maybe the child might add – God bless my grandma and granddad and my doggy too. We might add prayers for someone sick – for world peace – for that new job we are starting Monday – and other items on our plate. We might even praise God for simply being God. But what about praying for our enemies or for those whom we disagree with – even on important issues – including politics and theology?

My family has four continuous generations of Methodist/United Methodist pastors. We are heaped in Wesleyan theology and practice. Over the last four plus decades (a time that has encompassed my entire time as an ordained minister) – the divide between the left and the right leaning positions in the church has grown. We have debated the Bible and the Book of Discipline (the two rule books of the church). General Conference after General Conference has dealt with numerous issues where the two extremes have differed. Even as we prepare for yet another battle at the 2020 General Conference – the two sides are opposed to one another and at different places in theology and practice. The future of the unity in the UMC is at stake. We are facing schism and more. Some are outwardly definite to the Bible’s teaching and to the instructions of the Book of Discipline – General Conference rulings – and the Judicial Council of the church. Continue reading

June 11, 2019 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

A Discerning Heart

1 Kings 3:9

So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

fullsizeoutput_ffeOK – today is the mid-term elections. Will there be a red wave – a blue wave – or the status quo? Will my side win – your side win – or will our nation win? If you haven’t voted yet – please get out to vote. This is more important than a sporting event. This is about the future of our nation! Get out and vote – with a discerning heart.

I saw this the other day and thought it noteworthy – whether John Wesley said it or not (John Wesley is the founder of the Methodist Church). I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them: 1) To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy. 2) To speak no evil of the person they voted against, 3) To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side. These are words I hope we can all abide by in the days – weeks – months – and years to come. We haven’t done a very good job so far! The media – the society we live in – wants to push division. I hope a discerning heart will be wiser – following the wisdom of John Wesley. Continue reading

November 6, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reaching the Next Generation

Luke 15:7

I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

RayMcDAs we near the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 – I’ve mentioned a focus for the new year. That focus is reaching the next generation. Our church is mainly made up of aging saints. The medium age of Laurel is 35 and our medium age at First Church is probably closer to 55 or higher. We have an awesome church – but – if we do not reach the next generation with Christ – in 10-30 years there will not be a First Church. I say that not to scare us but to bring into focus what the problem is as we make plans to reach the next generation.

Many churches focus on the membership of the church. I can see where this is important for sure. It is the membership that pays the bills – it is the membership that accomplishes the work of the church. It is the tried and true saints that help to keep the church functioning. Yet – without a constant influx of new people and new ideas – it is very easy for a church to grow stale and eventually die.

John Wesley once said – I look upon all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation. –Journal, June 11, 1739. The founder of the Methodist Church felt he wasn’t bound to parish boundaries. He felt like he could preach wherever he found himself. We should feel this way today – that our parish is not bound to those inside our church – but our parish is all who will hear. Continue reading

December 28, 2016 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Refresher Concerning Our Salvation

Psalm 51:12
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

RayMcDCan we remember the moment we received Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior – the moment of our salvation? Some of us experienced a sudden conversion. Some of us experienced a more subtle conversion – where God works on us for a period of time and we finally yield to His Spirit’s tugging. However we come to Christ there must be a change and that change – the moment of our salvation – brings a great deal of joy.

I remember a man who was caught in all sorts of sin in his life. He came to the church almost out of desperation – trying to find something that would give him a reason to live. When the moment of his salvation came – months after he arrived at the church (God loved him into His arms) there was a dramatic shift in his behavior. Sin no longer had a strangle hold on his life – oh he still fell from time to time but sin didn’t rule their life any longer. He would stand before the church – often – and celebrate the new found freedom that he had found in Christ. He had a new purpose in his life. He was free from sin and had great joy. Continue reading

October 20, 2016 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Would You Abort These?

Jeremiah 1:5

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew  you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

IMG_0301With Planned Parenthood in the news – for reportedly selling the body parts of aborted children – abortion is once again in the news.  I wish it were in the news because it was no longer a means of birth control – but only used when the very life of the mother was in danger (like tubal pregnancies).  I found these in an old blog post on this blog page and thought I would bring these questions back for your consideration.

Would you consider abortion in any of the following four situations (if you considered abortion at all)? Often the argument is made by society that quality of life or the threat of a lessened quality of life is a reason to abort. Would you consider abortion or suggest abortion in any of these circumstances?  I will list who each person was at the end of today’s blog post.

1. There’s a preacher and his wife who are very, very, poor. They already have 14 kids. Now she finds out she’s pregnant with her 15th. They’re living in tremendous poverty. Considering their extreme poverty and the excessive world population, would you consider recommending she get an abortion? Continue reading

August 7, 2015 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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