Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Building Our Prayer Life

1 Thessalonians 1:2

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers.

Ray 2020Yesterday we talked about taking what we learn in worship – in Bible Studies – in Sunday School – in personal devotion – and putting it to work in our daily lives. So – my question this morning is this – in our prayer life – whom do we mention? Do we pray for others? Do we pray for those who lead our country? Do we pray for those who oppose our nation?

The typical nighttime prayer for a child is – God bless mommy and daddy – God bless my brother and sister – and maybe the child might add – God bless my grandma and granddad and my doggy too. We might add prayers for someone sick – for world peace – for that new job we are starting Monday – and there might be other items on our plate as well. We might even praise God for simply being God. But – what about praying for our enemies or for those whom we disagree with – even on important issues? Are we praying for those who differ with us in ideology in the upcoming national elections? How about those who oppose our theology within our denomination?

My family has four continuous generations of Methodist/United Methodist pastors. We are heaped in Wesleyan theology and practice. Over the last four plus decades (a time that has encompassed my entire time as an ordained minister) – the divide between the left and the right leaning positions in the church has grown. We have debated the Bible and the Book of Discipline (the two rule books of the church). General Conference after General Conference has dealt with numerous issues where the two extremes have differed. Even as we prepare for yet another battle at the upcoming 2020 General Conference – the two sides are opposed to one another and at different places in theology and practice. The future of the unity in the UMC is at stake. We are facing schism and more. Some are outwardly definite to the Bible’s teaching and the instructions of the Book of Discipline and the Judicial Council of the church. Continue reading

February 24, 2020 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 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Those Who Are With Us Are More

2 Kings 6:16

“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

img_0063-2I’ve been spending some time today and over the last year (or even 4 decades) – praying and thinking about the predicament the United Methodist Church finds itself in these days. More and more the minority of the denomination but the majority in the USA have been pulling our denomination away from traditional Scriptural truths. It seems like time and again the left or liberal portion of the Methodist Church has been succumbing to the standards of the world rather than the standards of God’s Word.

Over our history – others have pulled away from the main Methodist group because they believed the denomination was leaving the core Biblical truths. There are many Wesleyan denominations – branching off from the core Methodist Church. Here is a list of some of the Wesleyan/Methodist churches in the USA. There are other branches around the world. African Methodist Episcopal ChurchAfrican Methodist Episcopal Zion ChurchAllegheny Wesleyan Methodist Connection (Wesleyan Methodist Church)Association of Independent MethodistsBethel Methodist ChurchBible Methodist Connection of ChurchesChristian Methodist Episcopal ChurchChurch of the NazareneCongregational Methodist ChurchEvangelical Methodist Church of AmericaEvangelical Methodist ChurchEvangelical Wesleyan ChurchFirst Congregational Methodist ChurchFree Methodist Church, The – North AmericaFundamental Methodist ConferenceMethodist Protestant ChurchNational Association of Wesleyan EvangelicalsPrimitive Methodist ChurchSouthern Congregational Methodist ChurchSouthern Methodist ChurchUnited Methodist ChurchWesleyan Church.

As far as I can tell – almost all of these branches of the Wesleyan or Methodist theological strand are more conservative than the current UMC. At some point – each decided to disassociate with the Methodist core or main denomination. Continue reading

February 21, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Some Things Never Seem to Change

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_0063-2Reworked devotional from 2011. Things haven’t changed much in 9 years. Some things never seem to change. Heretical teaching will always lead a person or a church away from God.

The United Methodist Church has been through a lot during my lifetime.  I remember the sawdust camp meetings of my early years where the Bible was preached and lives were transformed for Christ. The authority of Scripture and the centrality of Christ were not questioned. Transformation took place because sound doctrine was taught and the transforming nature of Christ was preached.

During my lifetime I have also seen a  segment of the church’s leadership turn away from truth – turn away from the transforming love of Christ and His Word. During my lifetime I have heard the deceptive philosophy of some church leadership that has led our denomination into decline. During some of the darkest days of the United Methodist Church – when attendance and membership were falling at alarming rates – a group of Bishops led our denomination. Many of these bishops have retired since that time from active church leadership and I do not think it is by any surprise that our denomination is beginning to grow again in certain areas. I do not think it is by surprise that the majority of churches that are growing the fastest in our own conference are being led by pastors who believe in the transforming power of God – the centrality of Christ and the authority of the Bible. Continue reading

February 19, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Social Media is a Buzz

img_0063-2As I began my day – after my morning devotions – I began to check the news and my social media feeds. There is no shortage of things people are excited about these days – or that people disagree on as well. Let’s review a few.

The President was impeached by the House of Representatives recently and the case will soon be dropped by the Senate because they will not reach the vote necessary to remove him. People on all sides of the discussion – basically along party lines – continue to debate the facts as they see them in this situation (and as usual – they see the facts differently). Some will continue their fight to take this President down (for some this effort started the moment he declared for President). Some will continue to support this President – even some calling him the best President ever. This impeachment process has been the most partisan act ever – at least regarding something as serious as removing a sitting President of the United States. Wherever you are in the discussion – I would think most would agree this has been a very partisan process. Social media is a buzz.

The Super Bowl was last night – and the Chiefs beat the 49ers. I watched the game and thought it was a pretty good game. This morning – of course – social media was a buzz with those from the 49er’s fan base blaming the officials for calls that turned the tide toward the Chiefs (the TD that wasn’t and the offensive PI that wasn’t as examples). I didn’t agree with all the calls by the officials – but have come to realize that they don’t get it right all the time. On a side note – as a Ravens fan – I wanted the Chiefs to win and for Patrick Mahomes to win the MVP. Next I want him to demand a record contract so the team will not be able to surround him with other players (salary cap issues). See how my mind works? Again – social media is a buzz. Continue reading

February 3, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, 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

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