Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

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

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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

I May Not Always Be Right – But I’m Never Wrong

Ephesians 4:3

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Life ChangeI may not always be right – but I’m never wrong. I saw somewhere that this attitude is attributed to Garfield the Cat.

Some think this way in their own theological processes. Whether Calvinist – Wesleyan – Arminian – or whatever – none of us has a lock on understanding God completely. Debates over theological positions have occurred since Adam and Eve I guess – as the serpent tried to persuade Eve to eat the fruit – because “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4-5 Of course we know the serpent to be wrong and even lined up with Satan – if not Satan himself – in the form of a serpent. It is not always that easy.

At times it is not as clear as the Genesis story. There are passages that – when taken in context – can support a number of views in what I will call minor beliefs or non-essential things. Things like the amount of water used at baptism – the form used at baptism – or even the age one is baptized are not salvation questions – important of course – but not essential to one’s salvation. Continue reading

June 6, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How’s Our Prayer Life

Psalm 27:4

One thing I ask from the Lord…

Life ChangeThe Special General Conference (SGC) begins tomorrow. They are meeting in St. Louis – and delegates from all over the world will be there – representing the United Methodist Church. We are a global denomination with over 12 million members. The Methodist movement has approximately 80 million worldwide in various denominations that have their roots in the Wesleyan movement of Christianity.

At the SGC – there will be 864 delegates – with 58 percent from the United States and 30 percent from Africa. The remaining delegates are from the Philippines – Europe – and Eurasia – as well as from churches with which The United Methodist Church has formal relationships.

If we could ask for one thing of God – what would it be? Would we ask for unity in the denomination? Would we ask for a peaceful split? I know my prayer has been for us to be open to the Holy Spirit. I have prayed for unity – but not at the cost of doctrinal integrity. I have prayed for the church to understand clearly the Word of God and to rightly determine its use in our lives. What would we ask for if we could ask for one thing of God?

Let me ask another question. How’s our prayer life? Prayer is how we speak with God. How’s our prayer life? Continue reading

February 22, 2019 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

All Mankind Will Come And Bow Down Before God

Isaiah 66:23

“all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the Lord.

I grew up the son and grandson of Methodist pastors. I was raised on Wesleyan theology – which is not Calvinist or Arminian exactly – but for me a mixture of the two (the best parts of each). I was raised during a time when we were told to date within our denomination – because it would be easier raising the children – better for a unified home. I didn’t always follow that path – dating a Catholic girl – a Baptist girl – an Episcopal girl – a non-denominational girl and a few others. I also dated a few Methodist girls. I eventually married a Methodist girl (young woman) – who would love to be non-denominational I think. All were Christian – just from different branches of the faith.

I raised my daughters to marry boys who were Christian – the denomination was secondary. I told them they should look for three things in the young men they dated – 1) a strong Christian faith – 2) a strong love for them – and 3) a strong work ethic. Although I was still biased toward those who thought Wesleyan theology was on the right path – I believed that most Christian faiths could have the core beliefs that would create a strong marriage and family. Continue reading

May 16, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Doctrine: Introduction

2 Timothy 4:3

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

IMG_0301Paul was writing to a young pastor – Timothy – giving him some instruction and encouragement. It is an encouragement to discuss and debate what we believe with others and to hone our understanding of God and God’s Word. It is not about what we think or feel – it is about what God’s Word says – IMHO – and so our doctrines should be grounded and founded in God’s Holy Word.

Maybe not on consecutive days – but over time – I will use this space to discuss doctrine and take questions too. I know that the readership of this blog is wide-spread over the spectrum of Christianity and even outside of Christianity. Readers are both pastor and laity – female and male – from the Western Hemisphere and scattered throughout the rest of the world – protestant and catholic – Wesleyan – Calvinist and/or Arminian. We will not all agree on doctrine for sure. Some may agree on some doctrines and disagree on other doctrines. A simple definition for doctrine is a belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a church, political party, or other group. Continue reading

March 19, 2015 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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