Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

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

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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.’

Continue reading

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

Orthodoxy Is Not Bad, It May Just Be Correct!

Colossians 1:23

…if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Life Change

Today’s devotional thought was mainly written years ago.  I have made some minor changes – but – it seems – things don’t change much – because it is still speaks about a truth today.

If it ain’t broke – don’t fix it? I know most of us have heard that saying before. That isn’t perfect English – but – it is real. Most often we shouldn’t try to fix things that are working.

Change is not always good nor is it always bad. Change for change sake can be either good or bad. Many of us do not like change. Many of us have a hard time with change.

Technology buffs (the mirror is up) always want the latest greatest – even when what they have accomplishes what they are doing. Car buffs always want the newest model – even when the vehicle they have is working well. We can have a closet full of clothes – and every style imaginable – but when the new line comes out – we want to change. Our golf clubs play well – but someone convinces us that a new set will help our game (it is not the arrow but the Indian that misses the target – typically). My 2013 iMac is doing just fine thank you – I don’t need the newer model. Many of us need to resist change – because change is often just fluff – bells and whistles. Continue reading

February 25, 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

How’s Our Prayer Life

Psalm 27:4

One thing I ask from the Lord…

Life ChangeThe Special General Conference (SGC) begins tomorrow. They are meeting in St. Louis – and delegates from all over the world will be there – representing the United Methodist Church. We are a global denomination with over 12 million members. The Methodist movement has approximately 80 million worldwide in various denominations that have their roots in the Wesleyan movement of Christianity.

At the SGC – there will be 864 delegates – with 58 percent from the United States and 30 percent from Africa. The remaining delegates are from the Philippines – Europe – and Eurasia – as well as from churches with which The United Methodist Church has formal relationships.

If we could ask for one thing of God – what would it be? Would we ask for unity in the denomination? Would we ask for a peaceful split? I know my prayer has been for us to be open to the Holy Spirit. I have prayed for unity – but not at the cost of doctrinal integrity. I have prayed for the church to understand clearly the Word of God and to rightly determine its use in our lives. What would we ask for if we could ask for one thing of God?

Let me ask another question. How’s our prayer life? Prayer is how we speak with God. How’s our prayer life? Continue reading

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

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