Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Who Guides Our Thoughts and Actions Each Day?

Galatians 5:25

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amWho guides our thoughts and actions each day? Do we rely on our own abilities or thinking? Do we follow other’s thinking or even consult a horoscope (please don’t say yes to a horoscope)? How do we determine things like – who we vote for in elections – how we vote in our congregations or denomination – whether to marry or not and to whom? Who do we turn to when discussing starting a family – what job to take – whether to relocate for work – when to retire – whether to buy or rent and in what community? All important decisions for sure. Do we rely on our skills – on our spouse – on our parents – on our friends – on the world around us – on some online teacher?

Who guides our thoughts and actions each day? How do we decide what is right or wrong – what is beneficial or detrimental in our lives? Where do we turn to discern the path in life we should walk? If it hasn’t been God – if it has only been God for a few things – how’s that working for you? I know for me – the times I have made my own decision – it has been hit or miss – but when I have turned to God – God is batting 100%. Continue reading

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October 8, 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, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God Is Watching Over Us

Psalm 121:3

He will not let your foot slip — he who watches over you will not slumber;

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amJust to bring you up to date – I have five granddaughters. Two are in 1st grade – two are in pre-school and one is catching her older sisters and cousins (she wants to do everything the older girls do)!

Believe it or not – I actually get left alone with them from time to time. I have sat with the three from the one family for movie night while their parents go out for an evening (their parents must have been desperate for a night out to leave them under my care – LOL!). Before we go any further I want you to know everything went well and there were no fires! The girls actually go to bed for me pretty well – better than my own girls if I remember correctly.

Technology is so great these days – when I watched my granddaughters solo – her parents had cameras in each bedroom that allowed me to watch them in their rooms. I can even talk to them – when they get out of bed. I could watch them (and their parents could too while they were out) without disturbing them. It is better than peeking into their rooms every 45 seconds. I wish we had those when our children were babies. Continue reading

October 1, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Numbers – Do They Count Or Not?

Hebrews 12:1

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,”

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amA few years ago – there was a discussion surrounding how many people witnessed President Obama’s Inauguration and how many witnessed President Trump’s Inauguration. Pictures taken at different times in the process were used by one side to earn points for their argument. The other side made their points and neither side seemed to care about the facts – simply making their points.

It seems – for some – that more means better – and so each side tries to make their event the biggest ever. On October 4 – 1997 – I was part of an event sponsored by Promise Keepers called Stand in the Gap. I remember being there that day. I have never been in the midst of so many godly men. Early reports from Promise Keepers was over 1 million men were there. I heard and read some reports that estimated over 3 million men – not just in the mall area but in the surrounding areas too. I remember the liberal media under reporting the number of men who came out to that event saying in some reports that a few hundred thousand people came out. Again – the sides differ in their reports – numbers apparently count to some. Continue reading

September 25, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2020 – A Time for More Love Not Less

Deuteronomy 6:5

And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amI’m sure you have heard this before – love is a core value in the Christian faith. Showing love to one another is a significant characteristic of our Christian walk – or at least it is supposed to be. I believe that love seems to be missing from our society these days and also from many who claim to follow Christ. Some folks who claim to be Christians – like some of our politicians today – tend to take sides on issues and show anything but love to those who disagree with them. Like some – we tend to forget that even when we disagree – we should show love. Even when our disagreements are over our theology!! Loving one another – even in the face of disagreement – is something we are called to do by Jesus.

I created a song for my grandchildren. I sing it with them whenever they’re here or on FaceTime. It goes like this – I love Pop, Pop loves me, and that’s the way it’s going to be! If I have written it before (and I know I have) – I just love being a Pop. I love my five grandchildren – a sixth one will join them soon – from South Korea! I love showing them how much I love them – by giving them my focus when they are around. I didn’t always do that with my children. I want to be a better Pop than I was a Dad. They love to sit with Pop and comb his greying hair (it may be greying – but at least it’s staying). I also love getting kisses from my girls.

In Christ – we are called to love others – even as we love ourselves. Jesus was asked what were the greatest commandments – and part of His response is to love our neighbors – those around us – even as we love ourselves. Matthew 22:39 – And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Continue reading

September 24, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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