Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

A Call to Holiness

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.”

Rays HaircutThese are uneasy times. The unrest is hitting all-time highs it seems. Today’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). We are called to do this in good times and in not so good times. It might even be more needed during tough times.

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. Does your pastor invite you to the altar to pray? If not – you might ask them why not.

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 – some don’t like to even say that word).  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. How do you spend your Sunday? Continue reading

June 19, 2020 Posted by | Bring, 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

God Will Carry Us Through

Isaiah 43:2

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

Rays HaircutI sent some of our staff an email yesterday. I told them it looks like 2-3 weeks and we might be starting to come out of this quarantine. I urged them to turn up the heat – to work even harder to connect with people and get ready to be back at the church building. We can see the end of the tunnel starting to get closer and closer.

Have you made plans for the end of the quarantine? After visiting your children and grandchildren and filling up on hugs – what is your game plan for getting back to work? Getting back to some form of normalcy?

Are we dreaming of ways to make things better when we return to life before the quarantine? I’ve read a few articles – written by friends and by others. My hope is that we will NOT return to the same old same old. My hope and even prayer is – that we will have a new norm – that we will have learned a few things from this pandemic – this quarantine. Continue reading

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

Being An Encouragement and Strength

2 Timothy 4:17

But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth.

Rays HaircutDuring this pandemic – I urge us to be there for one another. We never know when a word of encouragement or even our presence online with someone in need will be a memory that will get them through some difficult times in the future as well as that moment.

We connect every weeknight at 7 pm on Zoom – and some of our folks make it every night. Would we rather be face-to-face – of course we would! Would we rather be able to hug our children and grands – of course we would! But – being present as we are able – is still so essential in our relationships.

Paul had been encouraged by our Lord being by his side. Timothy was encouraged by Paul. Who encourages us? Whom do we encourage? Continue reading

April 17, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gracious Words

Proverbs 16:24

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Ray 2020One thing that the quarantine has given many of us is more time on social media. That is a two-edged sword for sure. It is good that some of us have been challenged to learn more and grow in our ability to connect with folks electronically. It is not so good that more people have an opportunity to share their thoughts and that some are so negative and mean.

Right in the middle of our great divide in our denomination and in our country (the USA) – this pandemic has given way too many who would increase our divide on social media and in the regular media. Negative comments about our President for instance – during a time of crisis – is not helping anyone. For some – the crisis is just a time to make political points. Continue reading

April 15, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 17 of Lent 2020

Matthew 25:13

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”

Ray 2020Today is day 17 of the 40 Days of Lent reading plan (remember – of the 40 days of Lent – Sundays do not count). I hope you are enjoying the 40 Day reading plan – I know I am. Keep up with the stories about Jesus’ life as He walked to the cross. Draw closer to Him and let us deepen our faith walk. Constantly ask yourself (as I ask myself) – how can I be more like Jesus. To use past slogans – WWJD – What Would Jesus Do?

Today’s reading ends with a verse like yesterday’s first passage. “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” The hour is coming – but it will be a time only the Father knows. Our task is to share Jesus with as many people as we are able until that time comes. At First Church – we believe we are called to reach the whole family for Christ. How can we help each other to help the kingdom! What can we do to better serve Jesus and draw others to Him? How can we so live our life today – that God is glorified and others see Jesus in us? Continue reading

March 16, 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

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