Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Make My Joy Complete

Philippians 2:2

then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.

img_0063-2I looked back at the months before the 2016 elections. I found something I wrote in March 2016. I will make some changes today – but the truths from 2016 are still truths today. Remember – both parties were trying to find a candidate in 2016.

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This will be a short devotional today – but it will have much to ponder. First – how’s your Prayer/Fast going (we were in Lent when I wrote this and we were doing a prayer fast)? I pray it is going well and that God is speaking to you.

Second – and lastly – the Presidential Elections of 2016 are not going well. I’m not talking about my candidate doing well or not. I’m talking about the way ALL of the candidates are acting – both parties. Childish would not be strong enough. Making fun of one another – the way they talk – their physical appearance – their gender – and more is not what we the voters want to see – IMHO. I know I would much rather hear a debate on the issues of the day – like the economy – national security – immigration – the Supreme Court – race relations – entitlement programs – the environment – and more.  I’d much rather hear their agenda moving forward than to listen to them cutting down their counterparts. Continue reading

January 31, 2020 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

Why Am I a United Methodist Christian?

Mark 1:17

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

img_0063-2This is another of my reworked devotionals. Seems some things never change or at least stay the same for a long time. The original post was from 4 years ago – as we had just faced GC2016 and were headed to GC2019. The message from this devotional is still current and accurate as we now head to GC2020 in May of this year.

In today’s climate – this might be a very serious question. Why Am I a United Methodist today? Wy am I a Christian that attends a United Methodist Church?

These are simple questions – but – it might have some complicated answers. Let’s look at a few. When asked – Why am I a United Methodist?:

One might answer – because the church I go to is United Methodist. It is the church closest to my home or the church I have always attended. I really haven’t thought of why before but maybe I should.

One might answer – because I grew up in the United Methodist Church. It is the church my parents attended and I have just never thought much about changing or trying another church.

One might answer – because I believe in the method of their theological discernment. Now we’re starting to dive a little deeper. Have any of us thought this deep about our relationship with the denomination we attend.

One might answer – I don’t know! This might be a more common answer than we would like.

One might answer – United Methodist?  You mean I’m United Methodist? You mean the church I attend is a United Methodist Church?

Continue reading

January 24, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2020 General Conference

Romans 14:1

Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.

img_0063-2Our denomination is facing some tough discussions and decisions right now. General Conference 2020 is taking place in May of this year. I will be watching the simulcast when time allows – even if on vacation. I have kept these proceedings in my prayers since it became clear the left would not obey the Book of Discipline. I hope you have as well. I knew this General Conference would be of great significance. Although the future of the Body of Christ is not in question – the future of the United Methodist Church stands in the balance. A number of proposals are coming forth to split the UMC.

A number of people have quoted today’s passage from both sides of the aisle it seems – on some of the current issues. I can see where both sides are coming from – and the bottom line is that if we are to remain a United Methodist Church – we will need to give some – on both sides of the aisle. In order to get along in any family – some give and take are needed.

Here is today’s passage in partial context. Romans 14:1-9 – Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand. One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. Continue reading

January 16, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2020 – A Time for More Love Not Less

Deuteronomy 6:5

And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amI’m sure you have heard this before – love 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 with them. Like some – we tend to forget that even when we disagree – we should show love. Even when our disagreements are over our theology!! Loving one another – even in the face of disagreement – is something we are called to do by Jesus.

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 five grandchildren – a sixth one will join them 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). I also love getting kisses from my girls.

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

September 24, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Praying for Our Enemies and Others

1 Thessalonians 1:2

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

Life ChangeSo – in our prayer life – whom do we mention? The typical night-time 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 other items on our plate. 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 – including politics and theology?

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 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 to the instructions of the Book of Discipline – General Conference rulings – and the Judicial Council of the church. Continue reading

June 11, 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 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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