Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

It Is The Very Word of God

Luke 11:28

Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amOur denomination has a number of issues. One of the issues we seem to have is a different understanding of the Bible. For me – it is very clear – the Bible is the inspired – inerrant – infallible Word of God.

For some – the Bible is a good book where God’s Word can be found. Those who believe this way also think new revelation – new experiences – can supersede the Bible. The Mormons – for instance – believe the Book of Mormon supersedes the Bible. Others believe that the Holy Spirit is giving new revelation that supersedes the written Word. Of course – I do not agree with these understandings. I believe that the Holy Spirit will help us understand the written Word of God and that no revelation from the Holy Spirit will conflict with the written Word of God. The Holy Spirit will remind us of the teachings of Jesus and continue to teach us – but not in a new revelation that is contrary to the written Word. John records Jesus putting it this way – John 14:26 – But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Continue reading

October 7, 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 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Understanding the Bible

Psalm 119:11

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amIn yesterday’s message (you can hear it when it posts and other sermons here) – we mentioned that that living for Jesus is enhanced – even made possible – through our being open to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit came to teach us all things and to remind us of the things that Jesus taught. We also said that we cannot understand the Bible without the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. As we search the truths in the Bible – inspired and urged on by the Holy Spirit – we grow in our knowledge and understanding of Jesus.

A deep knowledge and understanding of the Word of God is only possible through a deepening of our walk with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. The more we know – the deeper we search the Word of God – the more useful a tool it will be for us in our spiritual journey. I once said – the more we use our Sword (our Bible) the more useful that tool becomes to us – so we would encourage people to bring their Bibles to church and to follow along during the sermons. Today we can read our Bible on our smart phones and even follow along on them by following sermon notes by using the URL found in the bulletin each week. There are so many tools available to us as we read the Bible. But – none of them has worth to us without the Holy Spirit.

Reading and storing up the Word of God in our heart – in our mind – is so important. Jesus resisted the Devil when he tempted Him by quoting the Word of God. Jesus was such a student of the Word of God that He knew when Satan was using it wrongly! Matthew 4:1–11 – 1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. Continue reading

September 23, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , | 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

Grace – Grace – God’s Grace

John 1:14

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amAs John describes Jesus – the Word becoming flesh – I am struck by yet another difference between Jesus and me! He was and is full of grace as John writes – and I am not always filled with grace – and at times the church is not as well. I am not – by nature – a mercy person – yet as a pastor I am called to show mercy – maybe another name is compassion. The church is too.

I was listening to a broadcast on the web and they were talking about grace – and restoration – in the church. Amazingly – their stories were that even in the church – there weren’t a lot of people who knew how or were even willing to show grace. Those who have been shown grace – who have been shown mercy – by God – should be the first ones willing t show mercy – forgiveness to others. God’s grace should be evident in our lives. God’s grace is poured out on us and we should share it with others. Continue reading

August 28, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quiet Time With God

Mark 6:31

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

June 2019OK – we prayed a few years ago for our children and grandchildren to come home – two grandchildren and parents were living in New Jersey while three grandchildren with parents were living in California. We are so glad to have them back home. It is good to have family close. It was special having almost the whole family together for the 4th of July celebration at my brother’s home. Yesterday was a wonderful time being with family.

Having said that – quiet times around the McDonald home are few and far between these days. Carolyn and I have not had our home to ourselves yet very much in our married life – with children moving back home (we loved it) and my brother-in-law (and dog) living here the last 4 plus years. Being so close to our children and grandchildren – you know they are over often (again – we love it). They all love each other – yet like siblings and cousins – there are times they battle as well. I am not complaining – but finding a quiet moment is not easy – even early in the morning. Yet we realize how important – even essential – quiet time can be for us. My quiet time is often my ride to and from work (about 35-40 minutes one way most days). I listen to music – but – I often listen to podcasts and sermons – soaking in the Spirit and in the Word of God. Continue reading

July 5, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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