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

Agree to Disagree?

Romans 12:18

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

img_0063-2Well – here we are in the year 2020. This year – we will see much debate – numerous votes – and an opportunity to agree to disagree with many friends – family and others.

I am disturbed by the number of colleagues and others that think they are being prophetic by speaking evil about and toward the current POTUS. I disagree greatly with much our current POTUS says and does – as I have with previous presidents – but I wouldn’t say some of the things others are saying. There needs to be a way of disagreeing with the POTUS or others without speaking evil. How are we a witness for Jesus when we join in the name calling and judging? I hear some of the same rhetoric when it comes to those who support the conservative side of our denomination.

Living at peace with each other in days like these is not easy. During this season of time – pre-2020 elections and pre-2020 General Conference – we need to focus as much as possible on living at peace with one another – even everyone. I know – it is not easy to live at peace with people who are diametrically opposed to your ideology or theology – but it is what we are called to do as we walk out our faith. It is not always easy to live at peace with those we love and agree with either. We don’t need to agree with everyone – but as we disagree – we should not be disagreeable. Living at peace with others doesn’t mean we always have to agree for sure.

In today’s passage Paul writes – If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. How do we read this? And if we read it that we should strive to live at peace with everyone – how well are we doing? If we’re as blue as it gets – even radically blue (far left) – even socialists – with our politics – how well do we get along with someone who is as red as it gets – even radically red (far right)? Can we discuss our differences without becoming ugly? I know this doesn’t seem to happen on many social media pages I visit. It seems like the far left cannot even comprehend the far right – and vice versa – and they don’t play well together either. Continue reading

January 10, 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, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Light Shining in the Darkness

Matthew 5:14

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.

img_0063-2Pastor Trevor preached Sunday – about being the light in the darkness. Darkness can be fun at times – but – at times it is not. I remember growing up and living next door to a cemetery. When friends came over or cousins visited – we would play hide and seek. I would always hide in the cemetery – over in the darkest corners where the house’s outside floodlight didn’t shine. Whenever someone got close to where I was hiding – I would make sounds that would scare them away (remember – we were young and this was a cemetery. The darkness and the unknown noises would always win the day. But darkness is not always something to be desired as we will see.

Darkness in today’s scripture represents the absence of Jesus. Jesus is instructing His followers. He tells them that they are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. As believers – as disciples of Jesus – we are to allow His light to shine in us – through us – and in spite of us. I remember – again as a child – traveling to my mother’s home town  Moorefield – in West Virginia. As we would come over the mountains – with very little light other than our headlights – we would crest the last mountain top and down toward the valley we would see the lights of Moorefield – we knew we were there! I remember when the chicken plant starting running all night and when they got their first fast food store – a McDonald’s. As the town started to get more and more active over the years – the lights were stronger as we crested the mountain.

Continue reading

January 8, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pretend or Real?

Romans 13:14

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

Ray 2019I remember playing pretend as a child. My brother and I would dress up like soldiers and play Combat! It was fun to pretend. I was usually Sergeant “Chip” Saunders – played by Vic Morrow on the show. I even had a plastic machine gun to complete the ensemble. I remember I had an army canteen and an army backpack (for my sandwiches for lunch). My brother and I would make adventures in the sand dunes between our house and our grandmother’s home. It was fun playing make believe. When we got a little older we would play in the woods or even in the cemetery next door to the parsonage. It was great fun pretending.

I remember a recent week of VBS at First UMC of Laurel. The theme that summer was having great adventures – Rolling River Rampage. The children had a blast. They had great adventures on the river and learned about Jesus. They imagined a number of adventures on the river. We collected funds to support those devastated by the rising river in Ellicott City.

They learned that some adventures are imaginary – and some are real – like walking with Jesus can be an adventure – but it is for real! We learned that following Jesus – who died to pay for our sins and to allow us into a right relationship with God the Father – can be a great adventure too. We were also encouraged to tell others of our excitement – being in an adventure with Jesus. Continue reading

December 16, 2019 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Anxiety – We Can Live Without It

Philippians 4:6

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Ray 2019What – if anything – are we anxious about today? Some of my friends have voiced anxiousness about retirement. Will they have enough money to last? When should they retire? Should they work after they retire? Should they travel or save? When should they start taking Social Security? Again – will they have enough money to last? I hear anxiety in their voices.

What – if anything – are we anxious about today? As some of my friends get older – I have heard anxiousness in some of their voices concerning their health. How long will they live – post retirement? What will their health be like? Should they get long-term care insurance? Should they or when should they move into assisted living quarters? Should they find one that is associated with longer-term care? I hear anxiety in their voices.

What – if anything – are we anxious about today? Some of the folks I talk to and some on Facebook have expressed anxiousness about the upcoming elections. Some say they know who they will NOT vote for and some say they will have a hard time voting for any of the current candidates (I’m struggling too). Some complain about the current President. Some complain about the candidates on the other side. I know 2020’e Presidential elections will bring many moments of anxiousness for some. Some haven’t gotten over the 2016 election. I hear anxiety in their voices. Continue reading

November 29, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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