Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Unless the Lord Builds the House

Psalm 127:1

Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.

82015 RayWe’re talking about ways to grow our church at FUMC – to draw others to Jesus – to deepen our faith. We’ve developed a Mission Statement – Bring – Build – Send. To flesh that out a little – we desire to bring people into environments where they can encounter Christ – build people up in their knowledge and understanding of Christ – and send people out to serve Christ. A sermon series is planned for October to present this more completely to the congregation.

The next phase for us is to ask the various ministries of our church how bring – build – send is walked out in their area of ministry and how we might help them do even more. We will develop plans and strategies – we will challenge people to step up and become part of God’s work. We will put everything on the table for consideration and strive to do things right for sure. Continue reading

September 3, 2015 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spending Time With God First Thing Each Morning!

Psalm 119:147

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word.

Easter morning I rose at 4:30 am.  I know that some of our men and women – some of my friends – wake that early or earlier on a regular basis.  Two of my sons gets up that early most every day.  It is not my usual time to rise though.  As a matter of fact – there have been nights I haven’t gone to sleep until that time!  My normal time to rise is 6:00 am or so.  By that time we were starting worship on Easter morning.  It was a powerful morning – we had a great time worshiping God with the tribe from Judah Temple AME Zion Church.  The sun rose and we were celebrating the Son rising.

Continue reading

April 13, 2012 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Sin Stairway

The sin stairway is an illustration I used in today’s message.  I have used it in Bible studies for 30 plus years.  I know that sin is sin when we think of what separates us from God.  Any sin separates us from God.  Yet there is a difference in our lives when it comes to sin.  A deeper level of depravity must exist to murder someone than to have a hateful thought.

Jesus suggests that if we controlled our thought life (possibly on a lower step than the action), we might never have to deal with the outward sin.  More on this later.

Today we asked people to imagine their struggle with sin and what they considered first step sins, second step sins, and right on up the stairway of sin, in their lives.  The idea was not the exercise of labeling our sins, but rather to ask if we were living in sin, standing on a step of the sin stairway, and feeling good about not being higher.  Were we living with little sins, thinking we were OK because we weren’t higher up on the stairway?  Had we learned to live in sin, because we didn’t think our sins were all that big?

Example – if we are living – comfortably on step 4 on our sin stairway, then sins on step 5 do not appear as step 5 sins, but rather as step 1 sins, because those sins are only 1 step away from where we are living.  From ground zero, they look like step 5 sins, but not from step 4.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said –

Matthew 5:21-22a – 21 You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder,  and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22a But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother  will be subject to judgment.

Normally you would think that a person would have to live on the step of anger, revenge, judgment, etc., before taking the step to murder. If we refuse to live on the steps of our emotions, our feelings, we might never step onto the step of murder.  Our efforts should not be to find a step of comfort, a step where we think we will be acceptable, but rather to allow God’s grace to work on us and in us to move down the stairway of sin until we reach the goal of ground zero in our lives.

Repentance is turning from sin and turning toward God.  We are all called to confess our sins and repent of them and turn away from sin and turn to God.  Repentance would imply moving down the stairway of sin, not holding our ground or moving sideways.

If you heard the message Sunday, what were your thoughts about this illustration and how it was presented?  If you didn’t hear the sermon and would like to hear it – go to our sermon page and click the sermon (it should be up Monday morning).  If you simply want to make comments about this illustration from what I have written here – please feel free to do so.

January 24, 2010 Posted by | From the Pastor, Sermons | , , | 10 Comments

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