Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

2020 General Conference

Romans 14:1

Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.

img_0063-2Our denomination is facing some tough discussions and decisions right now. General Conference 2020 is taking place in May of this year. I will be watching the simulcast when time allows – even if on vacation. I have kept these proceedings in my prayers since it became clear the left would not obey the Book of Discipline. I hope you have as well. I knew this General Conference would be of great significance. Although the future of the Body of Christ is not in question – the future of the United Methodist Church stands in the balance. A number of proposals are coming forth to split the UMC.

A number of people have quoted today’s passage from both sides of the aisle it seems – on some of the current issues. I can see where both sides are coming from – and the bottom line is that if we are to remain a United Methodist Church – we will need to give some – on both sides of the aisle. In order to get along in any family – some give and take are needed.

Here is today’s passage in partial context. Romans 14:1-9 – Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand. One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. Continue reading

January 16, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What Is Our Cross to Carry?

Galatians 5:16

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Life ChangeIn sermons – we are often called to take up our cross and follow Jesus. We often wrestle with the question – what is our cross? We often look at the cross of Jesus – which He began to carry from time eternal. His cross to carry wasn’t just from the courtyard to Golgotha. Jesus began to carry His cross from before the creation of the world – denying Himself – His rightful place in heaven – knowing He would suffer and die at the very hands of a humanity He loved enough to die to redeem. I always stand amazed at His love for us.

So what is our cross? What is the cross we are called to carry? We often suggest that denying self is the cross we are called to carry. We often talk about mature Christians thinking more about how we can be used of God to feed the righteously hungry. We can hear sermons on carrying our cross – and feel good about our understanding of such a sermon – yet – do we really walk out that message? Do we really understand what our cross is we are called to carry? Continue reading

November 7, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Love God With All Our Heart

Matthew 22:37-38

37 Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

Life ChangeI thought of this passage the other day. I heard a pastor once ask – the question isn’t the one we typically hear – how much of the Holy Spirit do we have? The question should be – how much of you have we allowed the Holy Spirit to have? He also reminded us that the Holy Spirit comes to transform us – to change us – to make us holy.

As I think about today’s passage I begin to think – how committed are we to God? We talk about being saved – but are we only after someone to save us from Hell? Isn’t Jesus also our Lord – our Master? If the Holy Spirit dwells in us through this salvation – what difference are we allowing Him to make in us – in our lives?

I know some Christians who have made radical changes in their lives. Some have stopped smoking when they came to Christ. Some have cleaned up their language – no longer sounding like sailors. Some have turned from drug and/or alcohol addictions. Some have turned from pornography. Some have turned from same-sex relations or extra-marital relations. Some have made radical changes in their lives because of Christ in their lives – because of the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. Continue reading

November 6, 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 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

World-Wide Communion Sunday – 10/6/19

1 Corinthians 11:24

and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amThis Sunday is World-Wide Communion Sunday. What that means is that most – if not all-Christian churches around the world – will celebrate communion on that given Sunday – the first Sunday of October – no matter their traditions – in a sense of ecumenical connection. It is always a special Sunday – remembering Christ – His life – His death – and His resurrection – with other Christians. I always enjoy celebrating Holy Communion – the Eucharist – or the Lord’s Supper – it goes by many names in different traditions.

As some of our readers know – I am at a season of life and ministry – when I’m not sure when I will be celebrating my last special day in a given year. Will this be my last World-Wide Communion Sunday – as a lead pastor? Will it be my last Advent – Christmas – Lent – Easter – Pentecost – and so on. Will I retire this year or next or the following or when? Will I be with Jesus – eternally – before the next season arrives? Yes – I do think about such things.

Continue reading

October 4, 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, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Speaking in Tongues

1 Corinthians 12:31-13:1

12:31But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way. 13:1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amDuring our study of Acts – we have read and studied the movement of the Holy Spirit upon the early church. Questions have arisen about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We will cover them as we continue our study and as we study the gifts later.

A few years ago – I was talking to a friend of mine who attended a church in Virginia. He asked me about something his pastor said. His pastor – in a recent sermon – said that if a person didn’t speak in tongues they were not baptized in the Spirit. My friend was questioning this statement.

This is not a new debate for sure. Some believe that when the Bible says that speaking in tongues is the least of the gifts (1 Corinthians 12) – that implies that all Christians – baptized in the Spirit – would have the least of the gifts. There are also passages that connect the moment of salvation with water baptism and speaking in tongues. Continue reading

August 23, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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