Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Day 10 of Lent 2020

Matthew 22:34-35

34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:

Ray 2020Today is day 10 of the 40 Days of Lent reading plan. I hope you are enjoying the reading plan as it walks us through some of the events in Jesus’ life as He walked to the cross. Lent is the 40 days leading up to the cross. As we walk it – our hope is that God will draw us closer to Him and into His light.

Today’s reading – much like yesterday’s reading – reminds us that the Sadducees – the Pharisees – and others were constantly trying to trick and trap Jesus. They were trying to trick and trap Jesus because they could not deal with the way the people followed Him. Jesus threatened their power structure. To what extent do we feel threatened by Jesus? I mean – what would it take for us to fully follow Jesus? Are we still trying to rationalize our version of Christianity? May God bless us as we walk with Jesus to the Cross of Calvary! Continue reading

March 7, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 3 of Lent 2020

John 12:16

At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.

Ray 2020Day 3 of the Lenten reading series is a similar story to the one we read on day one. Today I want to look at the above portion of that passage. At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.

As we walk to the cross this Lenten season – I want us to think about some of the things we didn’t or still don’t understand about our faith. It might be things like the Virgin Birth – the resurrection – or forgiveness of sin. As we think of those things we might not completely understand them or intentionally seek out Scriptures and readings that deal with them. We live post the resurrection – post the glorification of Christ – and the Holy Spirit is available to us as we seek to understand the things of God. Seek to understand more about Jesus this Lenten season

Our Bible studies on Tuesday will begin to look at and understand some of the essentials of the faith. This coming Tuesday we will look at the Cross. Join us at 10:30 am or 7:00 pm on Tuesdays in the Fellowship Hall at the church.

Continue reading

February 28, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a 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

Loving Is Not Easy

Romans 12:18

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

img_0063-2Living at peace with each other in days like these is not easy. During this season of time – with General Conference 2020 coming in May with a possible split in the United Methodist Church – post impeachment with the 2020 national elections coming in November – we need to focus as much as possible on living at peace with one another – even those we don’t like or agree with very often. I know – it is not easy to live at peace with people who are diametrically opposed to your ideology or theology – but it is what we are called to do as we walk out our faith. It is not always easy to live at peace with those we love and agree with either. We don’t need to agree with everyone – but as we disagree – we should not be disagreeable. Living at peace with others doesn’t mean we always have to agree for sure.

In today’s passage Paul writes – If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. How do we read this? And – if we read it that we should strive to live at peace with everyone – how well are we doing? If we’re as blue as it gets – even radically blue (far left) – with our politics – how well do we get along with someone who is as red as it gets – even radically red (far right)? Can we discuss our differences without becoming ugly? I know this doesn’t seem to happen on many social media pages I visit. It seems like the far left cannot even comprehend the far right – and vice versa – and they don’t play well together either. Continue reading

February 18, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Can We Live in Peace With Others?

Romans 12:18

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

img_0063-2I was born in the mid 50′s and remember a lot about the 60′s and 70′s. I remember the peace movement surrounding the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement. I remember the protests on college campuses all over America about the war and the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Unfortunately – some of those asking for peace didn’t give much peace when the veterans from Vietnam came home. These veterans faced anger and hatred that shouldn’t have been aimed at them. These young people – men and women – many who wanted nothing but peace so they could come home – were not welcomed home with much peace – respect or dignity! It seems that peace is not as easy as we might think – nor is it as easy as a protest march.

Think for a moment. Is there someone we have a hard time dealing with these days? Someone we have a hard time being at peace with these days? Is someone giving us a hard time? Has someone hurt us? Maybe it is our ex-spouse who is giving us trouble with our divorce settlement or with child support? Maybe it is someone at school who seems to enjoy being a bully? Maybe it is someone at work who always seems to pick on us or take credit for something we have done? Maybe it is someone who just won’t leave well enough alone? Is there anyone like that in your life today? Reading today’s passage we might say/ask – and God wants us to live at peace with these persons? Continue reading

February 10, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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