Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Who Do We Mention In Our Prayers?

1 Thessalonians 1:2

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

So – 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?

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 special General Conference of 2019 – 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 definite to the Bible’s teaching and the instructions of the Book of Discipline and the Judicial Council of the church. Continue reading

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April 13, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Search Our Hearts Dear Lord!

Psalm 139:23

Search me, God, and know my heart;

Who is it that knows you better than any other? That might be a curious question and the Sunday School answer would be Jesus for sure. But think about it for a moment. If you’re married – as I have been for nearly 38 years – your spouse might know you pretty well. If your children have any age on them – mine are 35 and nearly 30 (twins) – they might know you pretty well. If you worked in the same place for a few decades – your co-workers might know you pretty well too. Your parents – if they are still alive – might know you pretty well also.

Unless we are hermits – there are those in our life who know us pretty well. Well enough in some cases to guess how we will react to certain things – or even finish our sentences (isn’t that scary?). I perform a lot of funerals and often friends and family have some of the same stories about their loved one. They laugh and cry at the same memories. Yet – no one knows us like we know us and know one knows us like God knows us. We can hide so much from others – our deepest thoughts – yet we know them and God knows them. We can put on a show or a façade for many who see us – even on a regular basis – but we can hide from God. Continue reading

April 12, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Hope Is In Jesus – Not The Left Or The Right!

Mark 9:23

“Everything is possible for one who believes.”

This is not an easy truth to always count on or believe. My wife and I both counsel people – and are reminded of the pain and suffering folks are dealing with everyday. I’m aware of a few couples that are facing severe stress in their marriages – stress that would challenge even the best of marriages. I know of a few people who are facing life-altering situations – some facing multiple such situations. Yet Jesus says – everything is possible for one who believes.

I have seen with my own eyes the miracles of God. I know that the impossible can be possible. I don’t believe I know how or when or why – but I have seen the impossible. Today’s Biblical story is about the healing of a young man who was possessed by demons – evil spirits. The father was brought his son to Jesus but His disciples could not cast out the evil spirit. Read the story below and see why Jesus said – everything is possible for one who believes. Continue reading

April 11, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Marriage, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Are Called To Reach The Lost

Luke 15:10

In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

My father concluded his active ministry as an evangelist. He preached in revivals all over the east coast and some in some other states like Ohio – West Virginia – Minnesota – and Indiana. He loved sharing the Gospel with folks. He loved when folks would open their hearts to Jesus and receive Him as their Lord and Savior. I love being a pastor of a local congregation – but the times I have preached revivals for other churches has given me a glimpse of what dad shared in those twilight years of his active ministry. I too love it when the lost come to know Jesus and receive his free gift of salvation.

Revivals seem to be a thing of the past. It seems that many pastors today don’t believe in hell or Satan and his demons. It stands to reason that the belief in hell and Satan would fade for those who don’t believe they are real. For eight years I served on our conference Board of Ordained Ministry (BOOM) and have served many terms on the District Committee of Ordained Ministry (DCOM) as well. I often ran into pastoral candidates who were Universalists – persons who simply believed that all persons went to heaven. There were times – during examinations – candidates (many who eventually were ordained) couldn’t clearly define salvation because they couldn’t explain what the alternative would be. Continue reading

April 10, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are We A People Of Justice or Anarchy?

Titus 2:7

In everything set them an example by doing what is good.

Ask my wife – or my children – or my friends – and they will all tell you I have a thing about fairness – about justice – about the rule of law. Oh – I’ve cheated and I’ve lied in my life and been unfair and unjust – but it almost destroys my insides when I do. All in all – I am typically a justice kind of guy that tries to follow the rules. As we raise our children for example – we try to help each of them (now adults) the same – even if one doesn’t need the help – we usually extend the support or help.

One thing that irks me is when rules or laws are not evenly applied – which is not justice. In my professional life – I have run into this a number of times for sure. I imagine many of us have as well. Recently – the following has come to my attention. A church – served by a colleague – has discussed and debated breaking away from the denomination because of some broken covenant issues on the part of some in our conference and denomination’s leadership. They have had internal discussions and may have even taken a vote of their members about leaving the denomination. When the Bishop’s office received word of their discussions – an official objection and sanction was issued saying this was not in accordance with the Book of Discipline (BOD) and would not be allowed as valid. Yet – recently – the Board of Ordained Ministry (BOOM) of the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church (BWCUMC) broadcast a decision of theirs relating to their examination of candidates for ministry. Their vote – made public – was completely against what the BOD and what the Judicial Council of the UMC has ruled – and yet the Bishop’s office has publicly been silent (to my knowledge). If the BOOM decision is not ruled out of order by the Bishop’s office or at the Executive Clergy Session at Annual Conference – it would seem the rules only apply to one side of our disagreement and not to the other. This is not justice. Continue reading

April 9, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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