Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

August 4 – Baseball Season – 2 Months Left

1 Corinthians 9:24

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

OK – lots of posts on this blog are about significant theological issues. We have written about the United Methodist Church’s policies and doctrines. We have talk about church drama and operation. We have written about grace – peace – assurance – salvation – sin – Jesus – conviction – repentance – and more.

Today I want to focus just a few thoughts on this baseball season. As today’s passage suggests – athletes will strive to achieve the victory in their sport. In order to do so – they must practice – workout – and strive every day for their goal.

Recently I met two coaches from the Orioles and had a chance to talk with them about this season. The team will not give up and they have most recently (not counting last night because this was written before the game) won 5 straight and gotten within 3 games of the playoffs and 5 games from the division lead. Continue reading

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August 4, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pump It Up!

1 Timothy 4:8

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

82015 RayMuch is said at this time of the year about staying physically fit.  The fall and winter – when outside activities slow and gym memberships are pushed – is a prime time to look at our diets and our exercise plans.  Many will wait until the New Year to make resolutions – some will begin now before Thanksgiving trying to make a plan. What about our spiritual shape?

Do we have an ideal weight for our physical body?  Are we taking steps to reach that ideal weight?  Are we exercising – dieting – working to draw closer to that ideal?  Or have we given up?  Some friends and family are into Fitbit trackers and trying to get the most steps they can each day.

Are there things we would like to be able to do in the physical world?  Would we like to run a marathon?  Would we like to ride in a 100-mile bike run?  Would we like to hike up a mountain?  If so – sisters and brother – most of us simply need to pump it up – working up to such an event. Continue reading

November 16, 2015 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do We Have A Plan?

1 Corinthians 9:26

Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.

82015 RayHave you picked an early favorite for the Presidential elections in 2016? The candidates are lining up for both parties and they are making their plans. Each believes they would make the best next President of the United States. I’m praying for the whole lot of them – for someone to step up and separate him or herself from the pack. I’m also praying for our country and for that next President. I truly hope that the person that will be elected has a plan and that the other leaders of our country have one too – and that they gel. Our country is in trouble if a plan doesn’t develop that will carry us forward.

As I type this – my Orioles have now lost 8 of the last 10 games – and they seem to be headed down the wrong path as the season draws near to September. They are falling further and further behind in the wild card race and their plan just doesn’t seem to be working right now. They signed a bunch of players in the offseason – hoping to catch lightning in a bottle with one or two of them – and it just hasn’t happened. Many of the players that opened the season with the team are no longer with the team. They had a plan – but it doesn’t seem to have worked – at least not so far. I guess I could say the same thing for the team most thought the favorite to win the World Series at the start of the season – the Nationals. The best team on paper just hasn’t done it so far. Continue reading

August 28, 2015 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let Us Run With Perseverance

Hebrews 12:1-2

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

IMG_0301Today we will examine Hebrews 12:1-2.  We will look at the phrase – let us run with perseverance.  Running with perseverance reminds me of the many examples in the Bible about athletics.  One such passage is from Paul in another of his many letters to the churches he served.

To the Christians in Corinth Paul wrote the following: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 – 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. Continue reading

July 2, 2015 Posted by | Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , | Leave a comment

Running the Good Race

Running the Good Race

One thing most pastors deal with in the ministry is folks coming near or to the end of their earthly life.  I have been at the bedside of a number of persons over the years that were looking back at a life well spent.  Some were looking back at a life not so well spent.  Have you ever looked back at your life and wondered what you had accomplished?

There have been funerals where it was easy to say much about the faith journey the person had lived.  There have been funerals where I had to search and listen to family in order to grab something good to say about their life.

In the ministry – and in my own life – I have run into people who have looked back – say around 45-50 years of age – and asked – what have I accomplished in life? Have you ever asked that question?  Have you ever thought some of these thoughts?

I was reading in YouVersion (the Bible on my Droid) the other day and ran across this passage once again.  It reminded me that I need to run the race of faith everyday and all out.  As a former athlete, (still trying to regain my old form) this Biblical example hits home for sure.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 – 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

These are good words to live by – as we run the race of life – as we strive to be more Christ-like.  I pray that we will strive toward the goal of being Christ-like as hard, if not harder, than we go after our favorite hobby, our job, or anything else!

One way to help us do this is to set goals for ourselves.  If you go to the gym – they suggest that you set goals – like increasing your reps or weight as you lift.  They also suggest that you change your routine – so that you will not get into a rut.  YouVersion and other programs have Bible reading plans that might help to give you a reachable goal.  For instance, I am currently reading the Essential 100 Challenge, which takes you through what the authors thinks are the 100 essential passages/ideas in 100 days.  It has a few chapters of reading most days.

Other plans can help you get through the entire Bible in a year.  Others are more intense and if you follow them, they will get you through the Bible in 90 days.  There are other plans.  You can get this and other reading plans through YouVersion on your computer or on your cell phone.  There is other software programs as well that you can use.  The idea is to make a plan and stick to it – running the good race – striving for the end line – the goal – to be more Christ-like.  I think the more we put God’s Word into our hearts and minds – the more Christ-like we will become.  Just an idea!

September 25, 2010 Posted by | Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Theology | | Leave a comment

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