Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

To Live is Christ, to Die is Gain

Philippians 1:21

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Life ChangeSo – does anyone but me think about death? Maybe it comes from living by a cemetery as a child or from being a pastor for 42 plus years. I wouldn’t say I think about it all the time – but I certainly do think about dying – from time to time. Like recently – going to sleep – I was counting the number of years I have left if I live to be my father’s age (the answer is just over 20 years). A few nights ago – I dreamed I died. I had informed my wife before dying to bury me with my Apple Watch in case I wake up and need to get someone to come get me (now that was a scary dream). OK – two such thoughts the same week – that is a bit much – and not my norm.

Have you thought about dying? I believe the early Christians thought about it – maybe a lot. They faced life and death situations all the time. They were being crucified in mass – they were being thrown to wild animals – they were forced to do battle with gladiators – all in arenas for the sport of the Roman people. Much like the Christians that were beheaded – or burned in cages – or drowned – by terrorists in the middle east. In the Western world we often are so protected – especially those of us who do not live in the crowded urban areas of our country. Law enforcement can only do so much – and I thank our law enforcement officers for all they do while I condemn those bad eggs that shouldn’t be in uniform. Continue reading

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November 30, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

At Times…

Philippians 1:21

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

fullsizeoutput_ffeAs you read this devotional thought today – I have a question. Does anyone daydream? Does anyone think about things in the future or in the abstract or in the future? Am I the only one who thinks about the past – the present – and the future – all in the same day? My mind wonders all around at times. Staying focus on the here and now is not always easy.

Are there things you wish you could change about your life? I think about this at times. I think about the choices I’ve made in the past and how my life would be different had I made other choices. At times – my life would be better – I imagine. At times – my life would be worse – I imagine. I try to live in the here and now – but often my mind wonders about the time spectrum of life. Continue reading

November 12, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our Suffering Can Advance The Gospel

Philippians 1:21

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Usually this time of the year is a sweet time. I love me some Orioles and enjoy watching them – even staying up late when they are on the West Coast playing late into the evening (or early into the morning). This year – their record has them on the bottom – not just of their division – not just in the American League – but in the whole of Major League Baseball. They are vying for the #1 draft choice it seems for next year. As fans – we are suffering – yet with little hope for the future.

I try to watch or listen to the Birds – but the drive or interest doesn’t seem to be there this year – and it is not because they are losing so much. It has to do with how they are losing – how they are playing – with little hope for the future. I find myself yearning for the Raven’s season to begin. Often – I typically would miss early Raven games if they were on at the same time as the Orioles – but probably not this year. Maybe if the Birds trade some of their veterans and get some young players that will be here for the future – I might watch again. They wouldn’t need to win to get me back – simply have a plan for the future – so that my suffering as a fan had a purpose. Simply show a plan for the future with players who will be here in the years to come. Continue reading

June 21, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The True Measure of a Person

Philippians 1:21

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

IMG_0301The true measure of a person – what could it be?  At times we measure ourselves by numbers.  I hit 60 recently – and this summer my bride and I will celebrate 35 years of marriage the Lord willing (she is a saint).  My babies are 32 and soon to be 27 (two of them).  I’ve lost 60 pounds and am told by my wife she wants me to lose 30 more. This fall I will hit 39 years since my call into ministry.  I shot an 81 the other day for 18 holes and wasn’t satisfied with the way I struck the ball.  We have four granddaughters now – two 2 year olds and 2 infants.  I just purchased a new car in the fall. My father died 3 years ago this September at the young age of 84.  My mom hit 87 in April. My retirement investments are finally recovered from the market drop several years ago and I hope they will even climb higher.  Numbers play a big part in our lives.

Numbers tell the tale – at times – of our lives.  What we make – what we have saved – how many children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren tells the tale of our family tree going forward.  Sports are filled with statistics and numbers play an important role for sure.  Some people measure their lives by numbers.  Some count how many cars and what they cost as a measure of their lives.  Some count the cost of their homes and even for others their summer homes.  Some count the number of vacations they take and where they go.  Some consider the size of their church or the size of their business. Continue reading

May 18, 2015 Posted by | Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The True Measure of a Person

Philippians 1:21

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

RevRayThe true measure of a person – what could it be?  At times we measure ourselves by numbers.  I hit 58 recently – and this summer my bride and I will celebrate 33 years of marriage the Lord willing (she is a saint).  My babies are 30 and soon to be 25 (two of them).  I’m told I should join the Biggest Losers (by former friends and family members who I just wrote out of my will).  This fall I will hit 37 years since my call into ministry.  I shot an 81 the other day for 18 holes and wasn’t satisfied with the way I struck the ball.  We had our 1st grandchild 4 months ago.  My car is now 12 years old (the one I bought to replace the one that died in the accident with the tractor-trailer) – my wife’s is 14 years old (I’m trying to convince her to get a newer one).  My father died this fall at the young age of 84.  My mom will hit 85 in April – the Lord willing.  My retirement investments still haven’t fully recovered from the market drop several years ago but I keep hoping they will rebound fully and even climb higher.  Numbers play a big part in our lives.

Numbers tell the tale – at times – of our lives.  What we make – what we have saved – how many children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren tells the tale of our family tree going forward.  Sports are filled with statistics and numbers play an important role for sure.  Some people measure their lives by numbers.  Some count how many cars and what they cost as a measure of their lives.  Some the cost of their homes and even for others their summer homes.  Some count the number of vacations they take and where they go.  Some consider the size of their church or the size of their business.

Continue reading

March 21, 2013 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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