Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Who Do We Mention In Our Prayers?

1 Thessalonians 1:2

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

So – in our prayer life – whom do we mention? 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 other items on our plate. 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?

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 special General Conference of 2019 – 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

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April 13, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Smile – What Brings a Smile to Your Face?

Exodus 34:29
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.

What brings a smile to your face? Of course the first answer I would give these days is spending time with my grandchildren (and children). We now have five grandchildren. Another answer might be a long winning streak by the Baltimore Orioles or Washington Nationals (even a win would be great at times). The opening day win in the 11th inning by the Birds Monday brought a smile to my face. Still another might be time spent with my wife. I could get very pastoral here and say a smile comes across my face when a person receives Jesus Christ – when the light comes on for them in their personal relationship with Jesus. Other things bring a smile to my face as well (like when my friend makes a good shot in golf and gets excited about it). When we see someone with a smile on their face we usually think something just happened and we tend to be curious.

How about when people notice you have lost weight? Better yet – when they say something encouraging to you (if losing weight was what you were after). I remember when one of my daughters greeted me with a hug and she said – getting skinny dad – as she wrapped her arms around me? What about someone saying something about your new hairdo or your new dress (or suit)? How about the smell of your favorite food – or freshly baked bread – or bacon frying (that one always brings a smile to my face)? Continue reading

April 5, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jesus Was Tempted But Was Without Sin

Hebrews 2:18

Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

I love to discuss theology. I love to talk about doctrine and beliefs. Good thing – since that is my calling and career. I bet there aren’t too many who love these things.

One of the theological discussions I enjoy surrounds the thought of Jesus’ temptations. It is clear through Scripture that Jesus was temped. Today’s passage says – Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

That Jesus was tempted is not really in question. What seems to be in question is whether Jesus could or could not sin when tempted. Is a temptation a temptation if there is no possible way you could yield to the temptation and sin? That is a significant question.

Whether Jesus could sin or not is cloaked in His nature. Jesus’ nature as the second Adam – was different than our nature for sure. 1 Corinthians 15:45–49 – 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man. Continue reading

March 15, 2017 Posted by | Build, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Setting Our Minds on Eternal Things

Colossians 3:2

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

IMG_0301With the unrest in Baltimore this week – we are reminded that things are not always as we plan them to be.  Things don’t go the way we dream them to go – often sudden changes in our environment brings about radical changes in our day-to-day living.  This week I wrote about us being bought and paid for by Christ on the Cross of Calvary.  In that post we talked about being a living sacrifice for Jesus – living for Him with our lives. We should learn much about our quarreling and getting involved in foolish and stupid conversations – whether arguments over theology or worldly things.

Today we will take a look at setting our minds on the things of God rather than the things of the world.  One morning this past week I woke and was stressing over several earthly things – like we might all do from time to time.  I was stressing over our bills – over our income – over my work – over my wife’s work – over family things – over personal things – over the unrest in Baltimore and around the nation – and the list could continue.  I awoke early and couldn’t go back to sleep because of the troubles of the world – earthly things – that had my mind all wrapped up and captured.

I did my morning devotions and kept digging into the Word throughout the day and this passage came to mind.  Colossians 3:2 – Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Continue reading

April 30, 2015 Posted by | Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Doctrine: Introduction

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.

IMG_0301Paul was writing to a young pastor – Timothy – giving him some instruction and encouragement. It is an encouragement to discuss and debate what we believe with others and to hone our understanding of God and God’s Word. It is not about what we think or feel – it is about what God’s Word says – IMHO – and so our doctrines should be grounded and founded in God’s Holy Word.

Maybe not on consecutive days – but over time – I will use this space to discuss doctrine and take questions too. I know that the readership of this blog is wide-spread over the spectrum of Christianity and even outside of Christianity. Readers are both pastor and laity – female and male – from the Western Hemisphere and scattered throughout the rest of the world – protestant and catholic – Wesleyan – Calvinist and/or Arminian. We will not all agree on doctrine for sure. Some may agree on some doctrines and disagree on other doctrines. A simple definition for doctrine is a belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a church, political party, or other group. Continue reading

March 19, 2015 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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