Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Immigration and Love

Psalm 91:2

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amWell – I will be away from the blog page for about a week. I hope you miss me – or at least the week day devotional thoughts. I will have a lot to share when I return. Catching up on some reading – some podcasts and some golf (oh – and time with family).

In today’s political climate – and on the Elder’s page I frequent on Facebook – one of the debate subjects is over the current immigration process on our southern border. Some are horrified over children being detained separate from those presenting themselves to be their parents (in other words – not all presenting themselves as their parents are really their parents). It has been documented that some are simply bringing children with them to try and get past the border and some are bringing children north for slavery and sex trafficking too. It is a horrific situation. There are also real families seeking asylum – and we need to treat them with honor and respect.

Of course – the policy in place at this time is from previous administrations and needs to be changed – but until it is changed – this administration is trying to enforce the current laws. Some state administrations have ignored the laws altogether. Sounds like the United Methodist Church where some disagree with the laws of the church yet ignore the law.

Some are appalled at children being taken from their parents by this administration – yet didn’t say a word when it was being done by the previous administrations. I’m really trying to not be political. Yet – it seems like you can’t turn on the TV or read social media without someone getting political these days. Continue reading

August 9, 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 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quiet Time With God

Mark 6:31

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

June 2019OK – we prayed a few years ago for our children and grandchildren to come home – two grandchildren and parents were living in New Jersey while three grandchildren with parents were living in California. We are so glad to have them back home. It is good to have family close. It was special having almost the whole family together for the 4th of July celebration at my brother’s home. Yesterday was a wonderful time being with family.

Having said that – quiet times around the McDonald home are few and far between these days. Carolyn and I have not had our home to ourselves yet very much in our married life – with children moving back home (we loved it) and my brother-in-law (and dog) living here the last 4 plus years. Being so close to our children and grandchildren – you know they are over often (again – we love it). They all love each other – yet like siblings and cousins – there are times they battle as well. I am not complaining – but finding a quiet moment is not easy – even early in the morning. Yet we realize how important – even essential – quiet time can be for us. My quiet time is often my ride to and from work (about 35-40 minutes one way most days). I listen to music – but – I often listen to podcasts and sermons – soaking in the Spirit and in the Word of God. Continue reading

July 5, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Time Is Coming

2 Timothy 4:3

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine.

RayMcDHave you ever been warned about something that was pending – something that was going to happen in the future? I had a teacher who would often say – mark my word – and then tell us something that was going to happen – like – mark my word – this will be on the next test. It wasn’t always so – but it did make us study more.

Maybe as a parent you have said something like this or your parents did – mark my word – if you do that again you will get punished. Maybe it was like this – if you don’t stop fighting – if you make me get out of my chair – if you don’t get up now – if you don’t eat all your food – than “whatever” was going to happen. This too didn’t always happen (for some of us) but it probably – for a few times – change our behavior.

Paul gives us warning in today’s passage – 2 Timothy 4:3 – For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
Continue reading

August 26, 2016 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 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

Leadership Podcasts

All Christians need to be built up, to grow in their knowledge of and love for Christ.  With today’s technology, we have every opportunity to be built up, and from the comfort of our office or home.  I encourage all Christians to grow but I especially ask the leaders at Mt. Oak to pay attention to this opportunity.

As leaders, we are called to go the extra mile, to go beyond the norm.  We are called to dig deeper as we search out the things of God.  There are a number of leadership podcasts out there that Christian leaders can listen to and get insights from on a regular basis.  The one I recommend above all others is Andy Stanley’s Leadership Podcast http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/andy-stanley-leadership-podcast/id290055666, you can also find them on their home page at http://www.northpoint.org/podcasts. These are excerpts of some of Andy’s teachings and then dialogue around the subject of that session.

Sessions to date include:

  • Assumptions
  • Mutual Submission
  • Trust vs. Suspicion
  • High Performance Teams
  • Systems
  • Becoming a Student
  • Effective Communication
  • The Principle of the Path
  • Breaking Paradigms
  • Keeping your Vision Out Front
  • Leading in Uncertain Times
  • Listening, Learning, and Leading
  • What No One Else Is Doing
  • Stating Vision Simply
  • Casting Vision Convincingly
  • Repeat Vision Regularly & Celebrate Vision Systematically
  • Embrace Vision Personally
  • Making Your Mark

I have subscribed to this and other podcasts through iTunes and have them on my home and work computer as well as my iPod so I can listen to them when I am traveling.  I listen to them over and over again – because there is always something that I might have missed the previous time through.  I also review them regularly to keep abreast of what we’re doing in ministry at Mt. Oak.

I would urge all officers and leaders at Mt. Oak to listen to these podcasts.  The pastors and directors listen to them.

Church Council members – as we prayerfully consider our vision and mission I would urge us to listen to the sessions on vision – it will help us as we roll out what God has laid on our hearts.

February 25, 2010 Posted by | Discipleship, Leadership | , , | 5 Comments

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