Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Will We Agree – Split – Or Agree To Disagree?

1 Corinthians 1:10

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

This week we will join together for our Annual Conference as members of the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference (BWC). We will meet in Baltimore. There will be many things we agree upon and some issues that we will disagree on for sure. I will be clinging to today’s passage as we debate those things where we disagree. Will we agree – split – or agree to disagree?

A specially called General Conference will convene in February of 2019 – a year before the next regular General Conference in 2020 – to deal with one area of disagreement. For decades the United Methodist Church has had disagreements in the area of Biblical authority – especially when it comes to the area of human sexuality. What does the Bible say about human sexuality and how authoritative are those statements is at the heart of our disagreement? Will we agree – split – or agree to disagree? Continue reading

May 29, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Are We A People Of Justice or Anarchy?

Titus 2:7

In everything set them an example by doing what is good.

Ask my wife – or my children – or my friends – and they will all tell you I have a thing about fairness – about justice – about the rule of law. Oh – I’ve cheated and I’ve lied in my life and been unfair and unjust – but it almost destroys my insides when I do. All in all – I am typically a justice kind of guy that tries to follow the rules. As we raise our children for example – we try to help each of them (now adults) the same – even if one doesn’t need the help – we usually extend the support or help.

One thing that irks me is when rules or laws are not evenly applied – which is not justice. In my professional life – I have run into this a number of times for sure. I imagine many of us have as well. Recently – the following has come to my attention. A church – served by a colleague – has discussed and debated breaking away from the denomination because of some broken covenant issues on the part of some in our conference and denomination’s leadership. They have had internal discussions and may have even taken a vote of their members about leaving the denomination. When the Bishop’s office received word of their discussions – an official objection and sanction was issued saying this was not in accordance with the Book of Discipline (BOD) and would not be allowed as valid. Yet – recently – the Board of Ordained Ministry (BOOM) of the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church (BWCUMC) broadcast a decision of theirs relating to their examination of candidates for ministry. Their vote – made public – was completely against what the BOD and what the Judicial Council of the UMC has ruled – and yet the Bishop’s office has publicly been silent (to my knowledge). If the BOOM decision is not ruled out of order by the Bishop’s office or at the Executive Clergy Session at Annual Conference – it would seem the rules only apply to one side of our disagreement and not to the other. This is not justice. Continue reading

April 9, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Jesus’ Prayer For Unity

John 17:21

…that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

Annual Conference is coming next week – a week I would look forward to in years past – a time to see old friends that are scattered all over the conference. It was a time to renew friendships and share war stories. It was a time to worship and learn and to be challenged. Although there have always been ideologies and theologies that differ from my own – we always seemed to get along – somehow.

In recent years – the divide between us has grown it seems. On issues like human sexuality there doesn’t seem to be a place for us to coalesce. On one side of the discussion – some expressions of sexuality are considered sinful – such as same-sex relations. On the other side of the discussion – same-sex attraction and relations is seen as normal and acceptable. For over four decades this debate has raged – yet in the last few years it seems to have gotten more and more divisive.

Add to the discussion persons born one gender who wish to be seen – treated – and recognized as the other gender – even going so far as to alter their gender identity with surgery – and the divide increases. Continue reading

May 23, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

God Sees It All

Matthew 6:6

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

IMG_0435-0In our world of social media – everyone posts everything – it seems. People post what they eat. People post what they do. People post how they feel. People post their anger – their joy – and their mixed feelings. They not only post words – they post pictures – selfies – videos – and more.

Programs like Twitter – Facebook – Snap Chat – YouTube – Instagram – and more make connecting on a surface level pretty easy. We have thousands of friends and even post things that tests our friendships – if you read this and are truly my friend – post one word on how we met and repost this on your site – or I will remove you from my friend’s list.

Some do not want an Internet footprint or want to reduce their footprint (good luck). In the Christian world we do all of the above and at times I have seen prayer requests online. My hope is that when folks type praying – they truly take the time to pray. Continue reading

June 2, 2016 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

All Things Are Possible With God

Mark 10:27

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

IMG_0435-0Today – Annual Conference begins for the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church. Much will be discussed and much will be decided (unless the Bishop is asked to create a commission to study something).

Like with General Conference in May – everyone doesn’t agree on the important issues or even which issues are the important ones. Local churches send their pastors and lay delegates and other agencies of the church are also represented. Typically – by design – there will be an equal or nearly equal number of clergy and laypersons voting on the issues.

Like with General Conference – there are those who believe the sky is falling and there are those with their heads stuck in the ground (so to speak). Some see the church falling a part and some see the church on the rise. Some wish for a liberalization of the Book of Discipline and some want to hold to what is written (at Annual Conference we cannot change the discipline – that can only happen at General Conference – when it is allowed). Continue reading

June 1, 2016 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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