Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

We Should Give Our Anxiety To Jesus

1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Life ChangeAnxiety is tough to face. Anxiety is defined online as – a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Anxiety can overwhelm us. It can cause disorders and medical issues. It can immobilize us and take us down if we allow it to do so.

Anxiety can manifest itself in many ways. WebMD defines anxiety this way: Everyone feels anxious now and then. It’s a normal emotion. For example, you may feel nervous when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision. Anxiety disorders are different, though. They are a group of mental illnesses, and the distress they cause can keep you from carrying on with your life normally. For people who have one, worry and fear are constant and overwhelming, and can be disabling. But with treatment, many people can manage those feelings and get back to a fulfilling life.

WebMD lists these among the anxiety disorders – panic disorders – social anxiety disorders – specific phobias – and generalized disorders. Each – if not treated – can be disabling. Some – who battle an anxiety disorder – are unable to function in society. Some need medication. Some need psychotherapy. Some may need both. But the passage today suggests another treatment for anxiety. We’re called to give our anxiety to Jesus. Continue reading

October 30, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Will Not Stop Praying – 2020

John 3:16-17

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amI like to play golf. The weather has been great for some time and the fairways are firm and you get lots of roll. I like golf. Golf doesn’t always like me. I take lessons – but – the improvement is minute and often doesn’t last very long. I took a chipping lesson today. I have a tournament next week. I hope I remember what I learned.

I enjoy playing golf and the good friends I play with when we get get out. Some say – golf is a good walk – spoiled. Not me – I love the nature in golf – but I also like the game itself. I plan to improve my game this fall (like every year) – with my continued weight loss – I plan to get back to walking the course some too. I usually play better when I walk the course – and the weight loss (65 plus pounds from my max) should help (my goal is 100 pounds). I’d like to play in the 70’s (not the temperature folks) on a regular basis. This summer I only hit the 70’s ten or so times. Most of the year I played in the 80’s with a few really bad round. We shall see! I’m trying to be more consistent.

I do what some think the most boring thing imaginable – I watch golf on TV (I’d rather be playing – but I do enjoy a good match on TV). When you watch golf – many times in the crowd around a tee-box – you see someone with a sign that simply says John 3:16. The assumption is that most people know what that verse says – or maybe it will cause them to go and look it up. It is part of this morning’s passage. John 3:16-17 – 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Continue reading

September 26, 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, 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

Immigration and Love

Psalm 91:2

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amWell – I will be away from the blog page for about a week. I hope you miss me – or at least the week day devotional thoughts. I will have a lot to share when I return. Catching up on some reading – some podcasts and some golf (oh – and time with family).

In today’s political climate – and on the Elder’s page I frequent on Facebook – one of the debate subjects is over the current immigration process on our southern border. Some are horrified over children being detained separate from those presenting themselves to be their parents (in other words – not all presenting themselves as their parents are really their parents). It has been documented that some are simply bringing children with them to try and get past the border and some are bringing children north for slavery and sex trafficking too. It is a horrific situation. There are also real families seeking asylum – and we need to treat them with honor and respect.

Of course – the policy in place at this time is from previous administrations and needs to be changed – but until it is changed – this administration is trying to enforce the current laws. Some state administrations have ignored the laws altogether. Sounds like the United Methodist Church where some disagree with the laws of the church yet ignore the law.

Some are appalled at children being taken from their parents by this administration – yet didn’t say a word when it was being done by the previous administrations. I’m really trying to not be political. Yet – it seems like you can’t turn on the TV or read social media without someone getting political these days. Continue reading

August 9, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How’s Our Prayer Life

Psalm 27:4

One thing I ask from the Lord…

Life ChangeThe Special General Conference (SGC) begins tomorrow. They are meeting in St. Louis – and delegates from all over the world will be there – representing the United Methodist Church. We are a global denomination with over 12 million members. The Methodist movement has approximately 80 million worldwide in various denominations that have their roots in the Wesleyan movement of Christianity.

At the SGC – there will be 864 delegates – with 58 percent from the United States and 30 percent from Africa. The remaining delegates are from the Philippines – Europe – and Eurasia – as well as from churches with which The United Methodist Church has formal relationships.

If we could ask for one thing of God – what would it be? Would we ask for unity in the denomination? Would we ask for a peaceful split? I know my prayer has been for us to be open to the Holy Spirit. I have prayed for unity – but not at the cost of doctrinal integrity. I have prayed for the church to understand clearly the Word of God and to rightly determine its use in our lives. What would we ask for if we could ask for one thing of God?

Let me ask another question. How’s our prayer life? Prayer is how we speak with God. How’s our prayer life? Continue reading

February 22, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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