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

Who Is Included In Your Prayers?

1 Thessalonians 1:2

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

Life ChangeSo – 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 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 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 theological extremes have differed. Even as we prepare for yet another battle at our 2020 General Conference in May – 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

November 27, 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

Thanksgiving Is Coming Soon

Matthew 10:37-39

37 Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Thanksgiving is prime family time and it is sneaking up on us folks! It arrives this Thursday. Do you have the whole week off? Do you have Friday off? I hope you get some time off to spend with your family. Family time is a special time. I remember a few years ago a football game on Thanksgiving Day – the Harbaugh Bowl – where the 49’ers and Ravens played each other on Thanksgiving – a family affair with brother’s Jim and John Harbaugh as head coaches. I wonder who is playing this year?

In our home – the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is always a special time for family gatherings and time spent together. We gather as a whole family several times (we miss dad and mom and Carolyn’s dad).

What are you planning for the holidays to come? If you don’t have a plan – better make one soon. I hope you and yours have great family time throughout the fall and into the holidays. Don’t forget to keep Christ in Christmas when it comes. Remember – don’t go into debt to buy gifts for the children (or yourself) – they will end up playing with the box anyway and then you will have to pay the bills in January (or throughout the year). Continue reading

November 25, 2019 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Praying for Everyone!

1 Timothy 2:1

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—

Life ChangeDo we pray for all people? Often in worship – over the years – I’ve asked people to pray for the President. What if the President at the time isn’t the one you voted for – does that hamper your ability to pray for them? It shouldn’t. We should pray for our leaders – whether we agree with them or not. We don’t have to like someone to pray for them – praying that their hearts would be touched by God and that they would lead the people according to what is best for the people – rather than for themselves or their political party. We ask for this prayer often in our worship services and in our Live Prayer Time on Wednesday nights on Facebook.

Do we pray for all people? The political scene is dreary these days. At times we are called to pray against evil (as we might define it) and to pray for those who are responsible for that evil (as we see it). For instance – we might be conflicted with what is happening on our southern border (and has been happening for several administrations). We might think our borders should be secure and yet we might feel there are better ways to go about it (several administrations have tried several methods which apparently aren’t working yet). We can pray for those seeking asylum and their well-being while also praying for border security. We can pray for a better way for sure. Continue reading

November 22, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2020 – A Year of Change

Psalm 46:10

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Life ChangeAs we enter the last 6 or so weeks of 2019 – I have been giving us warning that 2020 could be a year of major change for many of us. The United Methodist Church seems on the brink of a split – officially or otherwise. This change may impact many of us. If it is an official split or some other split – conferences – churches – and members will need to decide where they will worship moving forward. This could being as early as January 1 – 2020 – as the 2019 Special General Conference approved churches withdrawing from the denomination. It could happen as we move toward the 2020 General Conference in May – shortly thereafter – or as soon as any changes take place.

The 2020 Presidential Election in November could continue the current Presidential leader or elect a new President. The Congress could change hands or solidify one party in leadership. Will one party of the other hold the President’s office and both houses of the Congress or will there be divided leadership? Will we continue along the same lines of leadership or will there be a change? How will the economy react to this election? How will the election impact you and your family? Continue reading

November 13, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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