Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Why Am I a United Methodist Christian?

Mark 1:17

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

img_0063-2This is another of my reworked devotionals. Seems some things never change or at least stay the same for a long time. The original post was from 4 years ago – as we had just faced GC2016 and were headed to GC2019. The message from this devotional is still current and accurate as we now head to GC2020 in May of this year.

In today’s climate – this might be a very serious question. Why Am I a United Methodist today? Wy am I a Christian that attends a United Methodist Church?

These are simple questions – but – it might have some complicated answers. Let’s look at a few. When asked – Why am I a United Methodist?:

One might answer – because the church I go to is United Methodist. It is the church closest to my home or the church I have always attended. I really haven’t thought of why before but maybe I should.

One might answer – because I grew up in the United Methodist Church. It is the church my parents attended and I have just never thought much about changing or trying another church.

One might answer – because I believe in the method of their theological discernment. Now we’re starting to dive a little deeper. Have any of us thought this deep about our relationship with the denomination we attend.

One might answer – I don’t know! This might be a more common answer than we would like.

One might answer – United Methodist?  You mean I’m United Methodist? You mean the church I attend is a United Methodist Church?

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January 24, 2020 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

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

Open Letter to Bishop Easterling and the Baltimore-Washington Conference

Life ChangeI couldn’t think of what to post today. I usually post something – Monday through Friday – at 9 am. Today – nothing came to mind. I had writer’s block. I wasn’t going to post anything – just simply miss a day. And – just before I went live for prayer on my Facebook page – this came across my feed. It is a well written response to the BWC’s Bishop’e letter that came out on March 2nd – in response to the Special General Conference of the United Methodist Church in late February. I thought this was a fantastic response to her letter and so I decided to post it here for others to read.

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The Board of the Baltimore-Washington Conference Chapter of the Wesleyan Covenant Association offers this letter in response to Bishop Easterling’s recent Pastoral Letter to the Conference.

Bishop Easterling and People of the Baltimore Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church:

We write to you today with hearts of peace and out of a deep love for God and each of you. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be yours in abundance in these trying times!

Bishop, we listened intently to your words at the briefing session held in Fulton on March 2, 2019. We were encouraged and thankful for your comments at that time which emphasized your intention to be “the Bishop of all and for all.” While we both understand and lament the deep divisions evidenced in the outcome of the Special Session of General Conference, especially the pain from all parties, we welcomed your conciliatory tone and attempts at unifying our Conference. Therefore, your recent pastoral letter both saddens and alarms us. We found your latest strong denunciation of what we believe, and questions of our Christian character, very concerning. Further, despite your title to the letter, we did not receive these words as “pastoral.” We do not wish to ascribe any uncharitable motives on your part, but are wondering if this signals some change in your position. Your clarification in this matter would be greatly appreciated. Continue reading

March 12, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Vision | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Showing Love – God’s Love

Deuteronomy 6:5

And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.

Life ChangeLove is a core value in the Christian faith. Showing love to one another is a significant characteristic of our Christian walk – or at least it is supposed to be. I believe that love seems to be missing from our society these days and also from many who claim to follow Christ. Some folks who claim to be Christians – like some of our politicians today – tend to take sides on issues and show anything but love to those who disagree. Like some – we tend to forget that even when we disagree – we should show love. Even when our disagreements are over our theology!!

I created a song for my grandchildren. I sing it with them whenever they’re here or on FaceTime. It goes like this – I love Pop, Pop loves me, and that’s the way it’s going to be! If I have written it before (and I know I have) – I just love being a Pop. I love my grandchildren – five now with another on the way soon from South Korea! I love showing them how much I love them – by giving them my focus when they are around. I didn’t always do that with my children. I want to be a better Pop than I was a Dad. They love to sit with Pop and comb his greying hair (it may be greying – but at least it’s staying).

In Christ we are called to love others – even as we love ourselves. Jesus was asked what were the greatest commandments – and part of His response is to love our neighbors – those around us – even as we love ourselves. Matthew 22:39 – And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

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February 28, 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 | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

So What Is Next After the Special General Conference?

Colossians 3:17

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

The Special General Conference (#SGC2019) has been a difficult situation for many of us – maybe even all of us. I didn’t post a devotional thought yesterday – because I was so blown away by the conference and the social media storm surrounding it. So many were hurt – people I care about – and so many were not voicing their thoughts well. The love seemed to have left the room (and on social media). I couldn’t wrap my head around what to post. That rarely happens – but it happened yesterday. I did post a couple of scriptures but couldn’t wrap my head around what else to share. I love all people – and I hurt when people hurt.

Today (Tuesday) – as I write this devotional thought for Wednesday – I am still at a loss. Sisters and brothers – colleagues of mine and others – people that I love – are at odds over the issues that were presented and voted on at the #SGC2019. The future of our denomination is uncertain. Churches and many people are confused – and many are hurt. The Traditional Plan was approved at #SGC2019. The One Church Plan was voted down. For some – this is what they wanted. For others – not so much. Continue reading

February 27, 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 | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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