Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Staying Connected to Jesus!

John 15:4

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

Rays HaircutI think John 15:4 is one of the most significant passages I have ever read.  It falls in the midst of Jesus teaching about Him being the vine and His followers being the branches. Jesus tells us we must remain in Him to live. In order to live and be fruitful – we must remain in Jesus!

When I think of this passage – one thing that comes to my mind is trimming my bushes. Can you identify with this chore? I try to trim my bushes to keep them from getting too large – to keep them from over growing their place in the flowerbeds. It is an ongoing chore – year after year.

When my daughter and son bought a home a few years ago – the previous owners had not trimmed the bushes in some time. The bushes had grown so large they were a safety hazard at the front of the house. You couldn’t see the front door. You couldn’t see the lower part of the front of the house. They trimmed them way back and now the front of the house looks way better. They eventually replaced them with new plants. Continue reading

June 22, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Man of God Refreshed

2 Timothy 4:7

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Rays HaircutThis pandemic has – this isolation and quarantine – has impacted us all in different ways. As a pastor – I cannot visit my sick and elderly (or any) members. Even family is not allowed to visit if their loved one is in a nursing home/rehab center or a hospital. For some – those last days or hours will be spent – often – alone – without loved ones and friends with them. Some are taking their loved ones home so they can be with them during those last days.

As the rain fell Friday morning – and I was catching up with some friends and others on social media – I began thinking about my father. This fall it will be 8 years since he passed. I found a devotional I wrote days before his passing and I thought I would share it again today. It spoke of my pain and feelings. I miss dad more than I can express in words. A friend posted this today: Wouldn’t you love to step back in time and take a walk with your dad” – and that got me to thinking about dad. Continue reading

May 4, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Servants of The Lord

Matthew 20:26-28

26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Ray 2020We are all called to be servant ministers to our Lord – not only the pastors – all of us – to be servants of the Lord. Along this line – a few years ago – I was asked why some pastors are not as involved in the community as they used to be? I know some pastors are for sure. Here was my answer (this came up on one of my pages recently).

That is a complex question or issue. Some pastors today are no less committed to their calling than pastors of earlier generations. What we have found over the years – the hard way – is that our families were often sacrificed on the altar of serving God.

Being a pastor is a high calling – but the divorce rate and broken family rate and even early retirement rate of pastors leads the way in many studies – partly because of the time spent away from the family. Being a pastor is not a 9-5 job where the family can plan around work hours. Being a pastor is a 24-7 calling. In my younger days – I would work 70-80 hours most weeks and at times more. There were times I wasn’t there for my wife and my children because of it. Maybe the Romans Catholics have a point in having their priests marry the church! Having said that – I have been a better grandparent than I was a parent. I attend less meetings and fellowship times at church – realizing the church will not fall a part because I do not attend – and that the church is more than the pastor and his or her presence (some in my church folks have complained about this though). Continue reading

April 16, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

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