Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Hollow and Deceptive Philosophy

Colossians 2:8

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

img_0063-2In 2012 – I wrote the following devotional. It rings true nearly 8 years later. I will make a few changes – but basically it is the same article from 2012. I believe this is a passage that speaks about the split that is happening in the United Methodist Church today.

Recently (back in 2012) at our Annual Conference for the Baltimore-Washington Conference – a suggestion was made concerning our church’s stance on issues like homosexuality. The suggestion was that our denomination’s stance – which in part is as follows from the Book of Discipline – is hindering the church’s ability to reach young people.

¶ 304.3 – While persons set apart by the Church for ordained ministry are subject to all the frailties of the human condition and the pressures of society, they are required to maintain the highest standards of holy living in the world. The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals1 are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.2
1. “Self-avowed practicing homosexual” is understood to mean that a person openly acknowledges to a bishop, district superintendent, district committee of ordained ministry, board of ordained ministry, or clergy session that the person is a practicing homosexual. See Judicial Council Decisions 702, 708, 722, 725, 764, 844, 984. 2. See Judicial Council Decisions 984, 985.

¶ 341.6 – Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.

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January 7, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Abortion is Ending a Life

Psalm 139:14

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

RayBlogJanuary 1973 – I was 17 – soon to be 18 and a graduate of High School.  I was preparing to enter AACC for the summer semester to get a head start on college.  I would raise my baseball officiating career to the college level by umpiring division one games at Navy that spring and be invited by Navy’s coach to go to Florida to umpiring school to become a professional umpire.  Life was good – for me.  But January 22nd – 1973 – is an infamous date in the history of our country.  40 years ago (and saying that reminds me that I have been out of High School for 40 years) the courts passed Roe v. Wade – which legalized killing babies in the womb.

I understand that this is a hot button topic.  It is shameful that in our society – even today – women need laws to protect them.  I’ve written about abortion on several occasions – one article was titled – An Article about Abortion written in 2009 – another was titled simply – Abortion written in 2008 – still another was titled – Does It Take Controversy written in 2012.  In 2011 I mentioned abortion in an article about the upcoming resolutions before General Conference.  In 2011 I wrote another article titled – When Will Our Nation Awaken to Such a Great Sin?  In 2010 I wrote about abortion and used the example of a dear child that doctors said should be aborted and about a woman who was aborted but lived.  In 2010 I also shared The Manhattan Declaration In Total.

If January 22nd just passes and no one reminds us of the deaths that occur each year because of abortion – will this holocaust continue without even a tear being shed?  I do not use the word holocaust lightly.  Here are some words from one of my previous articles.  Read the numbers and you decide whether this measures up to a holocaust.  I know that illegal abortions are also horrific – but so is killing innocent children!  Please continue to read and pray that our courts and our nation will awaken to the evil we are committing through abortion.

50 millionI’m not sure we even grasp the size of our sin?  One group estimates that by 2009 – nearly 50 million babies had been aborted since 1973.  Current statistics set the number at over 52,000,000.  This is not right my friends.  The Mississippi Baptist Convention tried to find a way to drive this number home and created a visual reminder of the 50 million babies aborted by 2009.  The picture included to the right is of a Memorial to the Missing – being filled with 50 million pennies.  It brings tears to my eyes to think of this great sin hanging over the nation – and with many churches in support.

Another way of thinking about such a large number of aborted babies is to add up all the people in the following states: Kentucky, Oregon, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Iowa, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kansas, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, West Virginia, Nebraska, Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont, & Wyoming.  The populations of these 25 states equals about 50 million.  We have allowed the total population of 25 states to be killed – lawfully – in our nation – since 1973.  Do we understand what we are doing?

Here are some other numbers to think about.  I know these items have little to do with abortion – yet we often think of them as tragedies – and they are – yet many in our government and in our society do not see the tragic killing of so many babies. Number of American battle deaths in all U.S. wars since 1776: 658,000. Number of Americans of all ages who start smoking every day — 3,000. Percentage of smokers who will die prematurely 50-70 years later: 30%. Percentage of babies killed by abortion this year: 23.1%.

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

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January 25, 2013 Posted by | Community, Denomination, Discipleship, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Good News Report on General Conference 2012

Here is an update on General Conference 2012 – from the Good News group.  You can find this report here. I express again how important the delegates from outside the US were to holding the church to Scriptural holiness.  Reports were that 40% of our delegates were from outside the US with around 30% from Africa where Biblical holiness is very important in a mostly Muslim world – where your faith is often a life or death decision.

Read the report below and leave your thoughts.

Pain and Protest

For ten previous General Conferences (1972-2008), the issue of homosexuality has absorbed increased time and energy and caused deep division in the church. This General Conference was the tenth such time. Veterans of previous General Conferences come prepared for the drumbeats of protest, the rainbow stoles designating us vs. them, and the tears that accompany the vote of the General Conference.

Although we do not agree with those who would change United Methodism’s stance on homosexuality, we do not take their tears lightly. It is grievous that General Conference has become a place of such pain and protest. The sorrow is profound and will not be healed easily. We know that the protesters and their supporters are hurt and upset at the direction, once again, that our denomination has taken. We do not celebrate in their pain.

Most would agree that the orchestrated protest is not what John Wesley had in mind when he spoke of holy conferencing. For first-time visitors, the experience can be overwhelming and dramatic. For many of the Central Conference delegates, it is difficult to comprehend. There were ceremonial arrests in Cleveland and a broken African communion chalice in Pittsburgh. In Fort Worth, it was the chalk outlines, a lesbian wedding in the park, and a funeral shroud over the communion table.

One need not be a sacramentalist to find it exasperating to see the elements of the Lord’s Supper once again used as political theater. When well-known, inspirational hymns are sung as a means of promoting a gay-rights agenda, delegates and observers are placed in the undeniably strange position of singing along with a protest that they may not have supported or observing in silence.

Yet after numerous dialogues, at least two General Church study commissions, official study resources, dozens of convocations, piles of books, demonstrations and disruptions of the General Conference business, and extended impassioned debate, our denomination has consistently affirmed a holistic position that is pastoral and biblical, compassionate and redemptive.

United Methodism’s statement is a balanced and nuanced position that affirms the “sacred worth” of all persons even while acknowledging that as Christians we cannot affirm every expression of human sexuality. After all, there are certain sexual practices that contradict biblical standards and as faithful disciples we must be willing to declare them to be incompatible with Christian teachings. The United Methodist position does that with mercy and grace.

To a watching world and local churches at home, it is a statement of ethical stability in an age of murky morality. It is a statement of theological honesty in an age of religious ambiguity. It is a prophetic statement to a world that offers no boundaries to sexual expression. To young people, our statement may provide a necessary guardrail to protect them from sexual brokenness.

The biblically prophetic message has always been more interested in truth and transformation than in consensus and conformity to mob-rule morality. What the world often finds excusable and acceptable, the church does not and cannot.

In the interest of reaffirming our stance on human sexuality, we must admit that we have not always shown love for those who struggle with same-sex attraction. In far too many of these highly-charged denominational gatherings, the temptation has been to view one another in the “us vs. them” mentality.

Sometimes our words and actions weighed heavier on “incompatible with Christian teaching” than on “persons of sacred worth.” That was never our intent. Despite that, we apologize.

This is not to paper over legitimate differences of opinion that we have regarding sexual ethics, the authority of Scripture, and the role of boundaries in the UM Church. We probably will not change one another’s minds. Nevertheless, we are grieved that what has been lost in the debate over homosexuality since 1972 is the potential for ministry to those who struggle with sexual brokenness.

Even though our denominational debates usually focus exclusively on homosexuality, United Methodism must begin to learn how to provide effective and compassionate ministry to all persons who struggle with their sexuality-whether it be heterosexual or homosexual.

We live in a hypersexualized culture and United Methodism must deal seriously-and here we are speaking to conservatives as well as liberals and moderates-with the crippling spiritual devastation that sexual brokenness brings into our local congregations. Many who sit next to us in our pews have been victimized by sexual abuse or by an unfaithful spouse. Others in our congregations struggle with promiscuity, are addicted to pornography, suffer with sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS, are confused about their sexual identity, or wrestle with same-sex attractions. They all need to know that the United Methodist Church is prepared to minister to their needs. Right now, we are woefully ill-prepared.

In the midst of our sexual brokenness, the Bible says, “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear!” (Isaiah 59:1)

The United Methodist Church was birthed as a Holy Spirit movement that believed in the power of God to transform the lives of all those who struggle with sin–homosexual or heterosexual. Through a biblical ministry of mercy and grace, we must be a church that welcomes the sexually broken and confused. We must be a church that stands with those who seek healing, wholeness, and holiness in their sexuality.

–This is the statement from Good News in the Friday morning Focus.

May 5, 2012 Posted by | Denomination, Encouragement, Faith Journey | , , | 1 Comment

Prayer Alert from Transforming Congregations

Prayer Alert sent to me by Transforming Congregations.  Please keep General Conference 2012 in your prayers.  More reports will come tonight from what went down today.

The plenary vote will take place tomorrow, Thursday, May 3. (Which is also National Day of Prayer.) Please keep all of the delegates in prayer, especially those from the Central Conferences (Africa, the Philippines, and Europe) who have done such a fine job of making their voices heard. And pray also for the “moderates.” Pro-gay advocates will be trying to resurrect the  “agree to disagree” petition for consideration, and that kind of compromise can be very appealing if a delegate is weary of the battle. 

May 2, 2012 Posted by | Denomination, Faith Journey | , | Leave a comment

More Updates from General Conference 2012

Here are some reports from General Conference 2012 as reported by The Confessing Movement.  More can be read at their website.  Most of the reports are positive reports from our conservative evangelical approach to the Bible and to church life.

_____________________________ The Confessing Movement Report_______________

Tuesday, May 1, 2012 – Day 8 of General Conference

There is much work to be done yet.   At the close of session yesterday the General Conference has finished 14 percent of the work required to be completed by Friday.   Any petitions not voted on by that time die for lack of action.

Up for discussion today are some issues that will bring long and major debate including those related to homosexuality and the restructuring of the church.  As of yet, it is not clear when these items will come before the entire General Conference.

Yesterday the conference voted to eliminate guaranteed appointment for clergy.  Today a motion to reconsider this issue was defeated. So clergy will no longer be guaranteed appointment to a church or a church position within the denomination.

Other Items

Legislative groups finished their work late last night (Saturday).  Here are a few of the items to report:

1) A resolution that would have the church withdraw from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) has passed the legislative group and will be send to the floor of the conference where it will receive opposition.

2) A related petition which prohibits agencies from joining external coalitions or organizations without approval of the full agency or the General Conference passed 53-22.  This was directed to RCRC.

3) Legislation passed which would limit the Council of Bishops membership only to active bishops (retired bishops have been disruptive and have advanced causes like homosexuality).

4) The restructuring plan which many felt was the major issue at the conference, did not pass the legislative group. Three different plans were proposed.  All three were voted down primarily due to confusion of rules, inability to agree on needed compromises, and an inordinate amount of time spent on arguing who should serve on the oversight board.

5) The attempt to remove language in the Social Principles which states that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching (the basis for all other petitions on homosexual practice) failed 34-43.  It had earlier passed the sublegislative group 14-12.  There will be a floor fight and probably some demonstrations following the plenary vote.

6) A somewhat similar petition which would have stated that we agree to disagree on matters of homosexuality failed 33-43.

7) Definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman has been reaffirmed.

8) The petitions brought forth by the Ministry Study mostly failed.  However, the petition that would removed guaranteed appointments for ministers in full connection has passed.

9) A statement strengthening our theological statement by emphasizing the primacy of Scripture passed.

10)  A petition allowing other ministries with women besides the official UMW passed in legislative group. This same petition presented by Renew had failed at a number of other General Conferences.

11) A footnote in Par. 311 which deals with the meaning of homosexuality in clergy matters passed 38-36.  This will be debated on the floor of the conference.
All of these actions need discussion and approval by the plenary session before they become official.  These debates will begin Monday and will last through Friday.

___________End of Report______________

Keep praying – much is yet to be decided.  Pass this report along to your congregations and friends who are concerned about the United Methodist Church – one of the few mainline denominations to hold to Biblical standards!

May 1, 2012 Posted by | Denomination, Encouragement, Faith Journey | , | Leave a comment

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