Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

And The Peace Of God

Philippians 4:7

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Even in the year 2017 – we live in a day and age when people are still struggling with right and wrong – go figure. Some might say it has always been that way. Our parents and grandparents and so forth probably thought that each generation faced an uncertain world around them and a struggle for right and wrong. They probably thought they lived in a world where others called wrong as right and the right as wrong. Key to this thought is that we don’t all have the same moral values or ideology. We don’t all see the world or truth as the same. What a shame.

We live in a day and age when people are still struggling with right and wrong. Racial tension is still high in our society. Last night in Boston – Baltimore Orioles’ Adam Jones was racially abused – verbally – by some fans. A call for racial reconciliation – a call to treat persons by the content of their heart rather than the color of their skin – is still being met with opposition. Fifty to sixty years after some tried to awaken our country to racial tensions – they are still alive and well in some folks and in some areas more than others. There are still those who hate because of skin color – as crazy as that may seem to many of us.

We live in a day and age when people are still struggling with right and wrong. There are ideologies today – as there have been in days gone by – where people think the only way to nirvana is to kill all infidels. ISIS (radical Islamic terrorists) is still a problem and they are still killing Muslims – Christians – Jews – and others – around the world because they don’t agree with their ideology. They are creating fear around the world with their understanding of right and wrong. Most agree this is wrong but we can’t seem to agree how to defeat this hatred. They are certainly not the “JV” – and I pray they are stopped soon. Continue reading

May 2, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It Is Really a Shame

John 8:11

“No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

profileIn today’s passage we have the teaching moment in one of the stories about Jesus’ life and ministry.  Here is today’s passage in partial context.  John 8:3-11 – 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”  8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

The teaching moment is clear – although adultery was sin – Jesus was not here to condemn the woman but rather to show love and grace.  He wanted to love the woman into a relationship with Him.  A great example to the church today – show love and build a relationship.  But in the midst of building a relationship and showing love – Jesus told the woman in no uncertain terms – “Go now and leave your life of sin.” Continue reading

September 20, 2013 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

I Pray the UMC Will Hold To Biblical Principles

Last weekend we (the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference) met.  Our AC is a meeting of clergy and lay people from the BWCUMC.  This conference is made up of UM Churches from most of Maryland (western shore of Maryland), all of D.C., and a small segment of West Virginia.  AC is made up of around 1,000 people – clergy and laity from churches in our area.  Our Bishop is John Schol.

You may be reading or hearing that the United Methodist Church (UMC) in our area passed resolutions on same-sex marriage and behavior.  Although this is sadly true – the resolutions they passed – by narrow margins – carry no real punch because a conference cannot speak for the church (denomination) – only the General Conference (GC) can do so.  The GC meets every four years – 2012 is their next meeting year.  The hope is that our GC will continue its Biblical stance dealing with the issues at hand and others.  The GC has become stronger over the decades on these issue – yet some continue to raise them year after year.  My fear is that a split in the church is at hand.  Those of us who believe that the Bible calls certain choices sin will not remain if the church calls sin acceptable.

A pastor friend of mine summarized the two resolutions in question this year.  Here is what he wrote.

A Resolution Allowing a Pastoral Response to Requests for Same-Gender Marriages and Civil Unions

This resolution petitions the General Conference, which will meet next year, to change church policy to allow clergy and churches who reside in jurisdictions with legalized same-sex marriage to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies. Currently, our Book of Discipline explicitly forbids clergy to marry same-sex couples or for churches to host such ceremonies. Both are chargeable offenses. The rationale behind this petition is that current church law makes it too difficult for pastors and clergy who affirm same-sex relationships in places like Washington, D.C. where same-sex marriage is legal, to be fully, pastorally involved in the marriage process of their same-sex congregants.

Petition to General Conference to Amend Paragraph 161F in the Book of Discipline (remove condemnatory language on homosexuality)

This resolution petitions General Conference to strike any language in the Social Principles section of The Book of Discipline, specifically from paragraph 161F, that would declare homosexuality to be sinful. Specifically, it asks to strike the word “heterosexual” from the statement that sexual relations are only affirmed within monogamous marriage. It also asks to strike the statement, “The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.” That would effectively render our Discipline neutral on homosexuality, saying nothing one way or the other on whether homosexual relationships are sinful or acceptable to God.

These two petitions are among thousands of others General Conference will consider when they meet next year. They were narrowly passed by our Conference after considerable debate. Granted, these will carry more weight since they come from an entire Annual Conference, but there is no guarantee of their passage or that they will pass exactly as they are worded now.

You can read the full resolutions here if you would like, along with other information.  These resolutions will not change anything nor will clergy be allowed to change the rules of the church unless the GC says so.

We have seen other denominations strike their Biblical stance on human sexuality and we have seen those denominations shrink and split and become a shadow of themselves.  Recently an article in the Christian Post reported that a long time clergy in the Church of Scotland – a segment of the Presbyterian Church – resigned because their church General Assembly voted to pave the way for active homosexuals to serve as clergy.  I believe many clergy in the UMC would follow suit if these types of resolutions pass GC.

The Presbyterian Church has faced such fallout from their decisions.  The Christian Post reports – A majority of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s district governing bodies voted in favor of deleting a requirement from the church constitution that requires clergy to live “in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness.”  The full article from the Christian Post can be found here.  I believe that if the UMC ever does change their Biblical stance in this area there will be a mass exodus from the church.  There are some pastors reporting people leaving now because our Conference passed these resolutions.  As a Biblically based pastor I have spent numerous hours with people over the years trying to convince them that the UMC is staying true to the Bible.  These resolutions suggest otherwise.

DO NOT be discouraged.  These resolutions will not change the truth of God’s word and at Mt. Oak we will continue to uphold Biblical truths.  As complex as human sexuality is – the Bible is clear that sexuality is to be expressed between a husband and a wife only – a man and a woman. The denomination’s stance is our stance – that the United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.

Join me in prayer for those who would lead our church astray – following lies that can only lead us to destruction.

June 2, 2011 Posted by | Church, Community, Denomination, Discipleship, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Theology | , , , , , , | 10 Comments

   

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