Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Have We Had Enough Rain Yet?

Isaiah 55:10-11

10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

The rainfall in 2020 must be a record. We have had more rain this summer and into the fall than I can remember. I hope this rain turns to snow soon. I want a deep snow this winter – maybe even to stay around for a couple of months.

Rain falls at different rates than snow. Back in 2016 – we had 30 inches of snow during a major storm (#snowmaggedon2016). When it rains that hard – the ground has a hard time soaking it in and much of the rain runs off. As this snow melted – the hope was that much of it would soak into the earth and replenish the land and underground reserves. It has been raining all summer and even today (Tuesday when I wrote this) – when the forecast was for sun – we had an early shower at home. I wish all of this rain had been snow (I like the snow). No matter how fast or light the rain/snow falls – water is good for the ground – the crops – the flowers – the grass  and our wells. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater.

At times – when there is very little rain – we will hear reports about how far under normal we are in the rain fall. We will hear that water supplies are low and how much we need the rain. I imagine we do well when there is much snow and it slowly melts. The creek bed in back of my property has been flowing all summer from all of the rain fall!

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October 21, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Roaring Lion – The Devil

1 Peter 5:8-9

8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

We’ve been preaching a sermon series on evangelism – spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. We’ve talked about sin and our need for Jesus. This coming Sunday we will talk about our need to confess and repent.

We’ve mentioned the devil a number of time in this series already. The devil is real and has schemes to attack our faith and our lives. This morning I feel compelled (obligated, duty-bound) to call on all who will to pray for the church – for our pastors – and our leaders. Whichever church you may attend – please pray for your church family and leaders. According to Scripture we are to be awake and aware and ready: 1 Peter 5:8-98 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith.

The devil is out there and wants nothing more than to devour the Church! Part of standing firm is to stay in prayer together. Pray that the devil not be given even a foothold in our lives and in the church. As Scripture says; Ephesians 4:25-2825 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.

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

Let’s Get Serious About Prayer

1 Thessalonians 1:2

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers.

I know – I’ve been talking and writing a lot about prayer of late. We need to be serious about our prayer life dear friends. We need to spend more and more time on our knees – physically and spiritually – for such a time as this.

We talk about taking what we learn in worship – in Bible Studies – in Sunday School – in personal devotion – and putting it to work in our daily lives. This requires prayer. My question today is this – in our prayer life – whom do we mention? Do we pray for others? Do we pray for those who lead our country – including the POTUS (even when we agree or disagree)? Do we pray for those who oppose our nation? Do we pray for the rioters? Do we pray for the police and first responders? Do we pray for the peaceful protestors? Do we pray for those who have lost loved ones or their personal property?

The typical nighttime prayer for a child is – God bless mommy and daddy – God bless my brother and sister – and maybe the child might add – God bless my grandma and granddad and my doggy too. We might add prayers for someone sick – for world peace – for that new job we are starting Monday – and there might be other items on our plate as well. We might even praise God for simply being God and getting us through another day of this pandemic. But – what about praying for our enemies or for those whom we disagree with – even on important issues? Are we praying for those who differ with us in ideology in the upcoming national elections? How about those who oppose our theology within our denomination?

My family has four continuous generations of Methodist/United Methodist pastors. We are heaped in Wesleyan theology and practice. Over the last four plus decades (a time that has encompassed my entire time as an ordained minister) – the divide between the left and the right leaning positions in the church has grown. We have debated the Bible and the Book of Discipline (the two rule books of the church). General Conference after General Conference has dealt with numerous issues where the two extremes have differed. Even as we prepare for yet another battle at the upcoming 2021 General Conference (moved from May 2020 to August 2021 because of the Pandemic) – the two sides are opposed to one another and at different places in theology and practice. The future of the unity in the UMC is at stake. We are facing schism and more. Some are outwardly defiant to the Bible’s teaching and the instructions of the Book of Discipline and the Judicial Council of the church.

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September 18, 2020 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

Hatred Is Evil

2 Timothy 4:2

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.

Yesterday our sermon talked about anger and violence and hatred. We talked about racism and injustice. I wanted to follow that message up with today’s devotional. Here’s the service from yesterday. The sermon starts at about 41 minutes into the service and you can watch it here.

Paul – an Apostle – told a young pastor – Timothy – to preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Timothy 4:2) Paul also wrote these words to Timothy – 2 Timothy 3:16–17 – 16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the servant of God  may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Paul urges Timothy – and us – to adhere to God’s Word at all times. All parts of God’s Word should be adhered too. Even the parts that we don’t agree with – maybe even more so those parts. It is easy to follow what we agree with – but hard when we don’t.

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August 31, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s Examine Our Prayer Life

1 Thessalonians 1:2

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers.

I’d love for us to examine our prayer life. In our prayer life – whom do we mention? The typical nighttime prayer for a child is – God bless mommy and daddy – God bless my brother and sister – and maybe the child might add – God bless my grandma and granddad and my doggy too. We might add prayers for someone sick – for world peace – for that new job we are starting Monday – and other items on our plate. We might even praise God for simply being God. But what about praying for our enemies or for those whom we disagree with – even on important issues – like theology and politics?

My family has four continuous generations of Methodist/United Methodist pastors. We are heaped in orthodox Wesleyan theology and practice. Over the last four plus decades (a time that has encompassed my entire time as an ordained minister) – the divide between the left and the right leaning positions in our denomination has grown wide and contentious. We have debated the Bible and the Book of Discipline (the two rule books of the church). General Conference after General Conference has dealt with numerous issues where the two theological extremes have differed. Even as we prepare for yet another battle at our 2021 General Conference in August (2020 postponed) – the two sides are opposed to one another and at different places in theology and practice. The future of the unity in the UMC is at stake. We are facing schism and more. Some are outwardly defiant to the Bible’s teaching and the instructions of the Book of Discipline and the Judicial Council of the church.

Continue reading

July 21, 2020 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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