Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Building Our Prayer Life

1 Thessalonians 1:2

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

Ray 2020Yesterday we talked about taking what we learn in worship – in Bible Studies – in Sunday School – in personal devotion – and putting it to work in our daily lives. So – my question this morning is this – in our prayer life – whom do we mention? Do we pray for others? Do we pray for those who lead our country? Do we pray for those who oppose our nation?

The typical nighttime 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 there might be other items on our plate as well. 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? Are we praying for those who differ with us in ideology in the upcoming national elections? How about those who oppose our theology within our denomination?

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 upcoming 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 the instructions of the Book of Discipline and the Judicial Council of the church. Continue reading

February 24, 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

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

Social Media is a Buzz

img_0063-2As I began my day – after my morning devotions – I began to check the news and my social media feeds. There is no shortage of things people are excited about these days – or that people disagree on as well. Let’s review a few.

The President was impeached by the House of Representatives recently and the case will soon be dropped by the Senate because they will not reach the vote necessary to remove him. People on all sides of the discussion – basically along party lines – continue to debate the facts as they see them in this situation (and as usual – they see the facts differently). Some will continue their fight to take this President down (for some this effort started the moment he declared for President). Some will continue to support this President – even some calling him the best President ever. This impeachment process has been the most partisan act ever – at least regarding something as serious as removing a sitting President of the United States. Wherever you are in the discussion – I would think most would agree this has been a very partisan process. Social media is a buzz.

The Super Bowl was last night – and the Chiefs beat the 49ers. I watched the game and thought it was a pretty good game. This morning – of course – social media was a buzz with those from the 49er’s fan base blaming the officials for calls that turned the tide toward the Chiefs (the TD that wasn’t and the offensive PI that wasn’t as examples). I didn’t agree with all the calls by the officials – but have come to realize that they don’t get it right all the time. On a side note – as a Ravens fan – I wanted the Chiefs to win and for Patrick Mahomes to win the MVP. Next I want him to demand a record contract so the team will not be able to surround him with other players (salary cap issues). See how my mind works? Again – social media is a buzz. Continue reading

February 3, 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

Family Is So Important

1 Corinthians 12:26

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

img_0063-2I’ve been spending some time lately reading (mostly online and on my iPad) and listening to some as well. I’ve read the following: The Bible – some books (like Nick Vujicic’s Unstoppable) – some sports news (as we are in the midst of the basketball season – the Super Bowl is upon us – and Spring training is just around the corner) – and the Facebook entries of some of my friends. One thing I’ve noticed in many of these venues is the importance of family – connections – and teamwork. One of my Facebook friends puts pictures and posts up – almost hourly it seems – thanking God for their children – their spouse – and where they work. I believe that our family and close friends impact our lives – for the better or for the worst.

I mourn with everyone today at the loss of Kobe Bryant – his 13 year old daughter – and the 6 other persons (as of the writing of this devotional – not yet identified) lost in a helicopter wreck Sunday morning. The sudden – tragic accident – serves to remind us how fragile life is and how precious our moments together should be.

Family and other connections are so very important to our health and well-being. One only needs to read the stories of some who have gone astray to realize that many of them had a giant fail in their family connections. Nick Vujicic – born without arms or legs – praises his parents for showing him unconditional love and attention. He credits this support for much of his ability to struggle through the challenges of life he faced and become a motivational speaker and evangelist. Continue reading

January 27, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Praying for Everyone!

1 Timothy 2:1

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—

Life ChangeDo we pray for all people? Often in worship – over the years – I’ve asked people to pray for the President. What if the President at the time isn’t the one you voted for – does that hamper your ability to pray for them? It shouldn’t. We should pray for our leaders – whether we agree with them or not. We don’t have to like someone to pray for them – praying that their hearts would be touched by God and that they would lead the people according to what is best for the people – rather than for themselves or their political party. We ask for this prayer often in our worship services and in our Live Prayer Time on Wednesday nights on Facebook.

Do we pray for all people? The political scene is dreary these days. At times we are called to pray against evil (as we might define it) and to pray for those who are responsible for that evil (as we see it). For instance – we might be conflicted with what is happening on our southern border (and has been happening for several administrations). We might think our borders should be secure and yet we might feel there are better ways to go about it (several administrations have tried several methods which apparently aren’t working yet). We can pray for those seeking asylum and their well-being while also praying for border security. We can pray for a better way for sure. Continue reading

November 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, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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