Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

The Nationals Are In The World Series

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.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amOK – lots of posts on this blog are about significant theological issues. We have written about the United Methodist Church’s policies and doctrines (and we’re praying for General Conference 2020). 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 – which is down to the World Series (with the Nationals in it to win it). As today’s passage suggests – athletes will strive to achieve victory in their sport. In order to do so – they must practice – workout – and strive every day for their goal. The Nationals and the Astros have been through an off-season – and spring training – and long season and now they are fighting for the World Series title.

My Orioles (my first team – Nats are second) are out of it (they were out of it long ago), I met too coaches from the Orioles a couple of summers ago. They were on a day off during the season and came out to play golf. We talked about the team and about our fighting spirit. The team did not give up that season and they didn’t give up this season. They play it to win it – like most athletes.

Continue reading

October 23, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Are We United Methodist?

Mark 1:17

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

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amThis 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 3 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 today’s climate – this might be a very serious question. Why Am I a United Methodist today?

This is a simple question but it might have complicated answers. Let’s look at a few.

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?

Continue reading

August 22, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

“Come Follow Me” – Jesus Said

Mark 1:17

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

Life ChangeThis is a reworked devotional – produced on Tuesday for Friday so I won’t need to write a new one while I’m at Annual Conference.

In today’s climate – this might be a very serious question. Why Am I a United Methodist today?

This is a simple question but it might have complicated answers. Let’s look at a few.

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. Do we understand the theological process of discernment for the United Methodist Church?

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? Continue reading

May 31, 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

Remain Faithful

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Life ChangeGod’s grace is amazing as the song – Amazing Grace – records (isn’t that one of your favorite older hymns?).  One of the best promises in the Bible – IMHO (in my humble opinion) – is this one about the forgiveness of sins. We are all sinners in need of God’s grace and forgiveness. Today’s passage speaks of God’s desire to forgive. 1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Most of us have experienced deals before – like if you do something – I will do something. As children I remember getting notes passed in school – with if you like me – I will like you. As adults we learn that if we work at a certain job – the boss will pay us a certain paycheck. I’m sure we can all come up with if you I will life experiences. We have one in today’s passage when we’re told if we confess our sins – He will forgive our sins. Continue reading

January 29, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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