Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

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

Be Anxious About Nothing

Philippians 4:6-7

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Today marks five full weeks since my rotator cuff surgery with a torn bicep muscle as well. I had physical therapy (PT) this morning and they are well pleased. They took measurements this morning to report to my surgeon on this Friday. My hope is that he will be pleased and released me from the sling and allow me to begin to use my arm some and build it back up.

The physical therapist said I had nearly 100% movement (compared to my right arm not compared to a young man or a double jointed person – LOL). In some measurements my movement was 100% or even better.

My hope is that by the last weekend in May I will be able to take half swings with my golf clubs – hip to hip. My family takes a vacation every year and we always play golf together. It would be hard to miss that bonding time with my brother and some of my nephews and a niece. If I must simply ride along – I will. Continue reading

May 3, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

And The Peace Of God

Philippians 4:7

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Even in the year 2017 – we live in a day and age when people are still struggling with right and wrong – go figure. Some might say it has always been that way. Our parents and grandparents and so forth probably thought that each generation faced an uncertain world around them and a struggle for right and wrong. They probably thought they lived in a world where others called wrong as right and the right as wrong. Key to this thought is that we don’t all have the same moral values or ideology. We don’t all see the world or truth as the same. What a shame.

We live in a day and age when people are still struggling with right and wrong. Racial tension is still high in our society. Last night in Boston – Baltimore Orioles’ Adam Jones was racially abused – verbally – by some fans. A call for racial reconciliation – a call to treat persons by the content of their heart rather than the color of their skin – is still being met with opposition. Fifty to sixty years after some tried to awaken our country to racial tensions – they are still alive and well in some folks and in some areas more than others. There are still those who hate because of skin color – as crazy as that may seem to many of us.

We live in a day and age when people are still struggling with right and wrong. There are ideologies today – as there have been in days gone by – where people think the only way to nirvana is to kill all infidels. ISIS (radical Islamic terrorists) is still a problem and they are still killing Muslims – Christians – Jews – and others – around the world because they don’t agree with their ideology. They are creating fear around the world with their understanding of right and wrong. Most agree this is wrong but we can’t seem to agree how to defeat this hatred. They are certainly not the “JV” – and I pray they are stopped soon. Continue reading

May 2, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A House Divided

Mark 3:25

If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.

The Judicial Council revealed its rulings over the weekend. I wasn’t under any false assumption that these rulings would bring the United Methodist Church together. Rather – I believed that further division would occur whatever their findings. And I was right. No sooner had the rulings been made public my Facebook feed began to go crazy. I’m part of the clergy groups and some United Methodist groups and between them and the main Facebook feed – reactions were running wild.

Some of my clergy colleagues were bemoaning the Judicial Council’s decisions. Some were calling for support for the Bishop ruled consecrated against church law. Some were saying that schism was a certainty.

Today’s passage has come to mind several times during the last 4 decades as a minority in the church has voiced their concern with the denomination’s stand on sexual sin. Read my response on homosexuality and the Denomination’s stand here.

Here is a report about the Judicial Council’s decision regarding the gay Bishop. They determined that her consecration was unlawful. http://www.umc.org/news-and-media/consecration-of-gay-bishop-against-church-law. Quoting the report – “Under the long-standing principle of legality, no individual member or entity may violate, ignore or negate church law,” said the decision, made public April 28. “It is not lawful for the college of bishops of any jurisdictional or central conference to consecrate a self-avowed practicing homosexual bishop.” Continue reading

May 1, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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

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