Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Old Time Faith – Is It Outdated?

Matthew 28:18–20

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amToday’s presenting scripture has been called the the Great Commission. It is often seen as the marching orders for the Christian church. We are called to go and make disciples of or for Jesus Christ (whichever makes the most sense to you – lol). In the early years of the Methodist movement – making disciples – followers of Christ – seemed to be the main focus. Revivals and Camp Meetings were all the rage and altar calls were common place in Methodist worship – as pastors challenged parishioners to be transformed after the likeness of Christ. I typically have an altar call each week to challenge those in attendance to faith – or to a deeper faith – or simply to pray about something that has been a challenge for them.

Early Methodists were called to holiness – they were part of the holiness movement in the United States for instance. We were taught to study the Word of God (the Bible) and to strive to live our lives after what it taught. We were even encouraged to avoid some of the ills of our society. The way it was explained to me (as a third generation Methodist pastor) – Methodists were encouraged to abstain from alcohol – from playing cards – from dancing – even from playing pool. The reason – again as it was explained to me – was because these social activities were often associated with bars and night clubs – with gambling and behavior and places that were not appropriate for folks striving to follow after Christ. We were encouraged to avoid even the appearance of evil or sin (we actually called behavior contrary to God’s will – sin).  We were encouraged to keep Sunday set aside for the Lord. In my home growing up – Sunday was a day for worship and Sunday School in the morning – a family lunch – a nap time – youth group – and worship in the evening. Sunday was a day set aside for being with God and with other Christians.

Correct me if I am wrong – but – I just don’t see the United Methodist Church of today – in many places – in many churches – as part of the holiness movement any longer. I rarely hear or read about the UMC calling people to Scriptural holiness. I rarely hear about revivals and camp meetings or Sunday or Wednesday night services. What I often hear – even from some of our clergy and Bishops – is a caving to social norm – to the sin of society. I hear tolerance preached and taught rather than holiness. It seems like we are trying to be popular rather than faithful. I hope I’m not being too harsh. Correct me if I am wrong or being too harsh – please. Continue reading

September 9, 2019 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, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Real Transformation

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

RayMcDLast night in the Men’s Bible study we were talking about real transformation – the real change that comes over us when we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. From time to time – shows appear on TV that seem to be popular. Shows like Extreme Makeover or Strong or Biggest Losers appeal to the general population because we like to believe – given the right circumstances – we can all become better than we are right now. We can lose the weight – we can reshape our appearance – we can have a better home and a better life. If nothing else – we can get lost in the fantasy of someone else’s transformation and wish it were really about our lives.

From time to time – most of us – looking back on the life choices that have led us to where we find ourselves – most of us would make a few changes. We often hear people say – if I had it all to do over again I wouldn’t change a thing – but in reality – most of us would change some things.

From time to time – have we ever thought of taking a different career path? Have we ever thought about living in a different part of the country or even a different part of the world? Have we ever regretted choices we have made? I bet the answer to that is a resounding YES for many of us. Continue reading

December 14, 2016 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Real Life Transformations

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

RevRayMcFrom time to time – shows appear on TV that seem to be popular. Shows like Extreme Makeover or Strong or Biggest Losers appeal to the general population because we like to believe – given the right circumstances – we can all become better than we are right now. We can lose the weight – we can reshape our appearance – we can have a better life. If nothing else – we can get lost in the fantasy of someone else’s transformation and wish it were really about our lives.

From time to time – most of us – looking back on the life choices that have led us to where we find ourselves – most of us would change a few. We often hear people say – if I had it all to do over again I wouldn’t change a thing – but in reality – most of us would change some things.

From time to time – have we ever thought of taking a different career path? Have we ever thought about living in a different part of the country or even a different part of the world? Have we ever regretted choices we have made? I bet the answer to that is a resounding YES for many of us. Continue reading

June 28, 2016 Posted by | Build, Church, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Transformed!

Romans 12:2

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.

112015 Ray McDonaldI often serve in funerals or memorial services – as a pastor – helping families and friends – trying to bring them a measure of comfort.  At most funerals I tell a story about the butterfly – a story of transformation.  We all know the story of the butterfly – how in its first stage of life it crawls everywhere as a caterpillar.  It is bound to the earth.  At a season in its life it crawls out on a limb of a tree and weaves a cocoon.  If we didn’t know better – we would think it was weaving a tomb – a place to die.  But – again in a season of time – the cocoon opens up and out of the cocoon comes a beautiful butterfly – no longer bound to the earth – but able to fly free.

In the early Christian church they used the symbol of the butterfly to represent the resurrection – life after death – the eternal life of a Christian.  I usually tell the family that when they lay the body to rest – they are laying the cocoon to rest – because their loved one’s spirit – if they received Jesus as their Lord and Savior – has flown free and is with God – no longer bound to this earth. Continue reading

November 17, 2015 Posted by | Build, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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