Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Lawless Behavior Does Not Honor God

Judges 17:6

In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.

One of my favorite old movies – of all-time – is one starring Charles Bronson (the Death Wish Series). It was a movie about a lawless group of people who were corrupt and evil. They kept their community scared by their lawlessness and their violence. The actor that Charles Bronson played – and has played in many movies – was Paul Kersey. He wife and daughter had been brutally treated and killed by lawless persons and he became – in several movies – a vigilante. He began to bring order to a lawless area in his city.

While I don’t support vigilantes – he stood up against lawlessness when few would – if any. In the movies his efforts to stand up against lawlessness won him the admiration and support – eventually – of his neighbors and others in the community. Lawlessness is not the answer. Obeying the laws or working to change the laws – lawfully – is the answer.

In our society we see or hear about lawlessness all around us. In cities like Chicago and Baltimore – the murder rate is often higher than the number of days in any given year. I have a friend – a colleague in ministry – that reminds us often how many murders there are in Baltimore. Lawlessness is so hard to comprehend. Continue reading

June 1, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Some Thoughts On The UMC And Homosexuality

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.

With the recent news about the Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church – and the cases they are hearing this week and next – I’ve been asked for the church’s stance on the subject of homosexuality. This is a hot topic and not an easy answer.

I will start by saying the United Methodist Church strives to have open hearts – open minds – and open doors. This is not just a slogan but rather a desire to be open to all people – even in our sin – and trying to be a place where we can all find grace – forgiveness – and spiritual growth.

Having said that – the church is not a place to condemn or condone sin – that is above our pay grade so to speak. We can name what we believe is sin – but not condemn the person(s) caught up in it. We can love the person dealing with sin without condoning their sin(s). I know for some – that may sound like double talk. For me it isn’t. I can love a person without accepting or condoning their behavior/sin (as I hope people can do the same with me). I can minister to a person (and do all the time) caught in an area of sin – trying to help them (and me) see the sin in their (my) lives (life) and helping them (me) to see God’s redeeming grace in the midst of their (my) lives (life). We are to shine the light of grace on our sin so that we are convicted or compelled to confess and repent of it and move away from it. We are not to accept sin or condone it or live in it with no attempt to change. Continue reading

April 28, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Marriage, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

God Gave Them Over to Shameful Lusts

Romans 1:26-27

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Most emotions and desires are not in themselves inherently evil.  It is what we do with them and how they control us that make them sinful.  I know that some question the church’s stance that sexual desires should only be expressed inside the covenant of monogamous, heterosexual marriage. I know that the District of Columbia and now the State of Maryland have approved same-sex marriage.  I also know that the church will come under heavy scrutiny because of our stance – but man’s laws do not establish God’s laws.  Standing for Biblical truth is not easy in a fallen society.

Sexual desire is a good – natural – desire.  Without sexual desire humanity would not survive – the attraction of man for woman and woman for man.  But Satan can take this normal and natural desire and use it for his sinful purposes – i.e. sexual relations outside of a monogamous, heterosexual marriage.  Dear readers – because something feels natural – doesn’t make it so.

The United Methodist Church is one of the few mainline denominations that still hold that sexuality is something to only be expressed in the covenant of monogamous, heterosexual marriage. Here is a portion of a statement from the United Methodist Book of Discipline (BOD) (2008). ¶ 161 F) Human SexualityWe affirm that sexuality is God’s good gift to all persons. We call everyone to responsible stewardship of this sacred gift. Although all persons are sexual beings whether or not they are married, sexual relations are affirmed only with the covenant of monogamous, heterosexual marriage.  This section of the BOD was upheld by a large majority of delegates at our recent General Conference and will appear again in our 2012 edition of the BOD.

I know that our denomination and many of my colleagues will be under attack by Satan and his dominion as we hold to Biblical truth in the face of a society that has lost its moral compass.  What a fallen society allows or even makes law should not dictate what the church does.

We must never forget that in the same paragraph of the BOD we are called to minister to all people.  We cannot forget this fact.  The church should reach out to all – sinners that we are – and minister to our spirits – drawing us into a more perfect relationship with Jesus.  Here is more from the section of the BOD quoted above – ¶ 161 F) Human SexualityWe affirm that all persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God. All persons need the ministry of the Church in their struggles for human fulfillment, as well as the spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship that enables reconciling relationships with God, with others, and with self. The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching. We affirm that God’s grace is available to all. We will seek to live together in Christian community, welcoming, forgiving, and loving one another, as Christ has loved and accepted us.  We implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons.

I pray that not only will the church stand strong for Biblical truth – but also reach out to all and draw them into a deeper walk with Jesus.  We all have sin in our lives and need grace and a deeper walk with Jesus.

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

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November 14, 2012 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Marriage, Theology | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

   

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