Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Christmas Praises 7

Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore, 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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

christmas-7During the month of December I have asked some members and friends of our church to write a paragraph or so describing some of the things that bring them joy this Christmas season in their relationship with Jesus and First Church? They were asked where they see Jesus in their church family? They were asked what draws them to First Church. The reason for this is to stir up some joy and excitement this Christmas Season. I told them I would share their thoughts anonymously – but I am keeping their e-mails for sure. I will try to post a comment a day for December so obviously I need 31 comments. The posts will go up around noon each day.

Rev Ray, My joy in attending First Church is in being with and serving with strong Christian men and women.  When all else in life at times was unpredictable and people outside our walls could be unkind or indifferent, I knew that at church, you could count on so many to be loving and eager to serve the Lord in mission.  Thru my work with Side by Side, I learned that no matter how many other missions and how even our own families took up much of their time, our members stepped forward to serve the families of Laurel.  They make room in their heart, they pray for you, they lift you up, you can count on them.  I give thanks for the grace God shows me every day, in part as expressed in our loving church family!

I praise the Lord for the testimony. I hope that it brings those who read it great joy. Merry Christmas to one and all.

December 7, 2016 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Leadership, Personal | , , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas Praises 6

Hebrews 12:1b–2

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

christmas-6During the month of December I have asked some members and friends of our church to write a paragraph or so describing some of the things that bring them joy this Christmas season in their relationship with Jesus and First Church? They were asked where they see Jesus in their church family? They were asked what draws them to First Church. The reason for this is to stir up some joy and excitement this Christmas Season. I told them I would share their thoughts anonymously – but I am keeping their e-mails for sure. I will try to post a comment a day for December so obviously I need 31 comments. The posts will go up around noon each day.

This past Sunday, just as I was entering what my wife lovingly calls my “ba-humbug” season, a joyful thing happened. Through the announcements during the service, I was wonderfully reminded of what the real reason for the season is.

I was overwhelmed (in a good way) with the many opportunities to share the hope and love of Jesus Christ with others, here, at First UMC. Food donations to be raised during the Christmas Cantata; community service projects in conjunction with the Advent Potluck meal; donations of socks for the men in the homeless shelter; collecting men’s and women’s winter clothing for winter shelter; providing gifts and food through Angel Tree, to children and families impacted by a loved ones incarceration.

So thank you, First UMC, for encouraging and nurturing me in my discipleship with Christ during this Christmas season. Every one of you has a positive influence in my growing through Christ.

I praise the Lord for the testimony. I hope that it brings those who read it great joy. Merry Christmas to one and all.

December 6, 2016 Posted by | Christmas, Church, Community, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Leadership, Marriage, Missions, Outreach, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Race Is Marked Out For Us

Hebrews 12:1

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

112015 Ray McDonaldA few years ago – one of my daughters was preparing for a race. She started a routine that would allow her to slowly work up to the distance of the race. It was a half marathon I think – maybe a full marathon – but I think it was a half. She worked hard to get into shape. She was doing very well until an injury slowed her prep work.  Despite the injury – she got back at it as soon as possible.  She had a plan.

I’ve been walking lately – nearly two miles at times.  I’ve also been playing some basketball. I want to work up to five miles. I have an app on my cell phone that through the GPS feature on the phone tracks my steps and gives me encouragement along the way by sharing the distance and time and at the end gives me updates on how I’ve done.   I also have a Fitbit which helps track steps.  The iPhone program even sends me an e-mail if I walk further per activity – per week – and per month than ever before. It shares other milestones as well.

I participated in a 5 mile event once and remember that they had the course marked out for us so we couldn’t make a wrong turn. It was through the Naval Academy and surrounding area. It was a pleasant walk – made better by the opportunity to witness my faith along the way with a friend of a friend who later accepted Christ and joined our local church. Having the course marked out for us was a great blessing. Continue reading

March 2, 2016 Posted by | Build, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Personal, 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

Run/Ride/Live With Perseverance

Hebrews 12:1-2

1 Therefore, 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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

profileMy wife is getting ready for a 100-mile bike ride.  She has done this ride before.  Between now and the ride she will be in training.  She rides 25-35 miles regularly – but working up to 100 miles takes some effort.  She said she would like to get in a few 35-50 mile rides before the 100-mile ride.  I’m proud of her because when she sets her eyes on a goal – she goes after it with vigor and determination.  Her brother and a good friend will also be riding with her (maybe next year I will try it if I can get my knee fixed and get a road bike instead of a trail bike).

In order to ride such a distance – she not only needs to train – and be diligent about her training (she is headed out as I type this devotional thought) – she needs special clothing – a good bike – shoes that are comfortable – and more.  She is not going after this goal to fail.  She wants to do the whole 100 miles and live to tell about it! Continue reading

August 28, 2013 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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