the BLOG of stuart mcdonald

Some Random Thoughts
January 14, 2009, 2:44 pm
Filed under: Mind Flush

– I’m super excited about going to DC for the Inauguration… Should be an experience.

– I’m also excited about my trip to Miami with my dad for our half-marathon right after DC. Hopefully I’ll get to connect with people I haven’t seen in a while in both places… Hopefully…

– Trying to figure out what all to take for 2 trips to 2 different climates is a chore!

– While I’m not normally one for a road trip, it should be a fun time to grow closer to my peoples. I’m normally, let’s just get a cheap flight and call it a day. But it’s all good… should be fun!

– I have been procrastinating going on this long run for 2 day because it was raining on Saturday and then it was SUPER cold on Sunday and my legs were tired from standing… Hopefully it’ll happen before Wednesday rolls around.

– I had a great conversation with a friend of mine last night concerning how ‘busted’ most guys are. I think it deserves a more in depth post… But we’ll see.

– Pastor said, “hilarity” during his prayer for the offering on Sunday… It’s funny how Facebook influences those who aren’t even on it!

– How frustrating is it when you go to a city (maybe once or twice a year) and the people you know that live there are gonna be out of town? Sheesh… But I have no hard feelings. Ok, maybe a few, but I’ll be alright. Eventually.


Weekend Mind Flush – Jan 12 2009
January 12, 2009, 11:53 am
Filed under: Mind Flush

This was such a crazy weekend. Not really so much because of what happened, but because my body was on some other kind of schedule.

Friday, I spent most of the day at my ‘office’ (Starbucks) and then headed to a GREAT small group meeting. I’m really excited about this new curriculum (probably the first time I’ve been excited about one that we haven’t picked ourselves) and to see what God’s going to do over these next 8 weeks. Pastor’s message on Sunday really confirmed everything we talked about too!

After leaving small group around midnight, I went home and was working on my notes for Church on Purpose. It got to be late, around 3:30 and since I had to be at church at 6am I figured I could just stay up… I was doing good until around 5, when I decided to lay down and ‘rest my eyes’. Woke up feeling like 20 minutes had gone by and in actuality it was 8:45… Oops! Back to sleep until 11:30.

Saturday, once I finally woke up, went to church to run through our One80 announcement for Sunday and to teach my session for Church on Purpose. I had a great time with that! I always love to see all the new folks joining and getting know them. I feel like teaching-wise I was a lot more prepared and comfortable than before, mainly because I had taken time to work on my notes a little more. But the class was awesome!

Afterward of course I had to go sit at Starbucks and write a little bit. Then I just got bored and went home around 8pm… Nothing else to do.

So I get home and am watching the playoffs feeling like I’m gonna fall asleep so I turn the lights off, set my alarm for the morning and continue watching TV. I fall asleep and wake up thinking, “YES! I slept through the night” only to look at the clock and see that it’s 12:30am. I tried to go back to sleep, but I was just wide awake.

I proceed to get dressed and head to church. Still working on my ‘script’ for the announcement that morning. I was super geeked that I got the opportunity to do an announcement. I felt really good after 8 o’clock service, but I think 12:30 got the best one… It was so funny to see people’s reactions, like, “OMG, you did so good.” “You were so well spoken and articulate.” blah blah blah… And don’t get me wrong, I TOTALLY appreciated the compliments, it was just funny because I guess I expected that from myself so I wasn’t surprised when it happened that way. I think because they weren’t expecting it from me, it was different. But I am super excited to get the running classes underway!

The whole while people were telling me how well they thought I did, I couldn’t help thinking to myself, “If you only knew…” and I’ll leave it at that for now. My people know exactly what I’m talking about…

Anyway, I get home from church around 5:30, took a nap until 7:30, ate some dinner, watched 24 and had some great conversations, which I may blog about later. That’s about it for now… My ‘regular’ sleep patterns are back, praise GOD! And I’ll give you some more random thoughts at another time.

He Did What He Said He Would
January 10, 2009, 4:01 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

When you give to the poor, it is like lending to the Lord, and the Lord will pay you back.”   Proverbs 19:17 (GNB)

This scripture became so real to me a few months ago. So I was downtown after seeing a friend of mine’s comedy show. And it seems like every time there are ‘poor’ people around, they come out looking for me, like they think they KNOW I’ve got money. I’m walking to my car and this man approaches me and tells me some sob story and his family is stranded somewhere and he just needs a ride to so-and-so and some food and a little money.

Now understand, if you tell me something, I’m pretty much going to believe you. I have no reason not to, and I try to give people the benefit of the doubt; so call me a little gullible? So I give him a ride where he needs to go and we swing by Checkers and got the man some food. I drop him off and gave him some money. Now, I should NOT have given this man this much money. I’m not going to tell you how much it was, but trust me when I tell you, it was TOO MUCH for me to be giving him. I could’ve ate a FEW good meals with that money. But it just was not a smart move on my part, because not only did I not really have the money to give him, I just didn’t really use all of my discernment on this one.

So I’m driving home (And I live almost in Woodstock, so from downtown, I’ve got a good 45 minute drive to think) and I’m really thinking, “Stuart, that was really dumb. You should not have given that man, that much money. What were you thinking?” So I get home and I’m trying to fall asleep, but I keep thinking about that bad decision I made. I finally get to sleep, wake up the next morning, thinking the same thing about how stupid that choice was. But I thought, “You know, it is what it is. What’s done is done and I’ll never be able to get that money back. Oh well, right?”

And of course this whole time the Lord has been whispering in my ear, “Hey Stuart, remember that scripture you teach in Church on Purpose about giving to the poor is like lending to me and I’ll pay you back?” I’m thinking, “Yeah I know Jesus… I know what Your Word says but… I don’t know…”

So a few days go by and I’m at church on Wednesday for Midweek service. A gentleman who I had done some work for walks up to me and hands me a check. I thought nothing of it at first, but then I looked at the check. It was made out for 25% more than the exact amount I had given the man, not 3 days earlier. Now mind you, I didn’t give the man the money knowing that I’d be getting this check 3 days later. You know that scripture came back to my mind! I just had to look up at God and say, “Ok, God… I got you. You did what you said you would… I got you…”

I’ll also say, that it’s not a good idea to give money to every person who asks. You’ll go broke trying to do so, but if you use your discernment and really feel like God wants you to bless a particular individual, know that that is ok, and the money is a good investment because it’s a Kingdom investment.

Raise the Standard!
January 6, 2009, 9:24 pm
Filed under: Ministry

When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him.” – Isaiah 59:19b (NKJV)

Picture the standard being a wall, a levy. When the flood comes towards the levy, the higher and stronger the levy, the higher the water must rise to breach it. If there is one area of the levy that may be lower than the others, the water will instantly flood that area first and alleviate the pressure on the remaining areas. In other words, the more we are intentional about not giving the devil a foothold in our lives and living with integrity, and above reproach in all that we do, the harder he has to try to take us down.

A ‘standard’ is defined as “a rule or principle that is used as a basis for judgment” So I wonder, what is the rule or principle(s) that I use as a basis of judgement for my life. Obviously, it is the Word of God, but that applies to all believers and not just myself. There must be something that I use to make decisions that applies only to me and no one else.Enter the importance of a personal vision statement.

There are certain things that God has called me to do that He may not have called you to do. That’s fine because the opposite is also true. I can never stress enough how important it is for you to know your purpose. It make your decisions much easier because you have something to base them from, a guideline. If you know God has called you to go here, but this choice would take you elsewhere, well then, it’s probably not for you!

I have known my calling for the past 7 years, but it wasn’t until last month that I actually sat down and wrote it out. At this point, that is a very living document, but knowing that I at least have something that I can go back to is incredibly helpful when making choices.

In thinking about God’s standards, I was reading an article today entitled “Attention Pastors: Keep Your Penis In Your Pants!!!” It may seem a little brash at first glance, but the author keeps it real real and hits the nail on the head when it come to Pastors (and for that matter leaders in general) and sexual purity and integrity.  There was one sentence that I just couldn’t get away from because it sounded just like something my Pastor would have said: “It’s SO SAD when pastors will talk about how bad it was that Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of soup and then they will turn around and sell their ministry for an orgasm!” If ever it was a little foggy, if you weren’t sure of what we were talking about, that pretty much cut to the core of the issue.

I know it may seem a little extreme, to sell your ministry for an orgasm. The fact is that’s exactly what has happened before and will no doubt happen again. Granted, when we talk about raising the standard it’s not only in the area of sexual integrity. That is just an area that’s more visible if we slip. We have to raise the standard in all areas. If we forget to in one area, that’s the area the enemy would attack because he knows his flood would more easily get over that wall.

We HAVE to raise the standards in our lives and in our ministries if we are to safeguard from attacks. We are in a life-and-death game and it is NOT a joke. People’s lives are literally hanging in the balance and all we can think about is 20 seconds of pleasure! ARE YOU SERIOUS!?! We must hold ourselves to a higher standard. Period.

4 Benefits of Putting Margin in Your Life
January 6, 2009, 12:02 pm
Filed under: Ministry

A follow up from yesterday’s Purpose Driven Devotional…

Four Benefits of Putting Margin in Your Life
by Rick Warren

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

*** *** *** ***

Here are four immediate benefits you’ll receive by building margin into your life:

1. Peace of mind. When you’re not always hurrying and worrying, you have time to think, time to relax, time to enjoy life. We had a bird come into the building one evening before service. He started singing, and it was just like we’d been given an invitation: “Just relax. Everybody except those sitting directly under the bird, relax.”

2. Better health. Unrelenting stress harms our bodies. We all know that, yet we let it continue day after day after day. Many times we only build margin in our lives after the heart attack almost happens or does happen, or the blood pressure skyrockets. Why do we wait until our health plummets before we make this decision? Why not realize thatwe need to build some margin intoour lives now? The truth is your body needs downtime in order to heal. Race cars make pit stops occasionally in order to get repaired. You can’t fix anything going 200 miles an hour. Yet, we try to repair ourselves while we’re still racing through life. Margin builds in time for better health.

3. Stronger relationships.
Lack of margin is one big reason for the collapse of the American family today. When we don’t make relationships a priority and make time for each other, our relationships suffer. Relationships take time; and margin provides the time to sit and talk, to listen and enjoy one another, and to provide the comfort we each need.

4. Usefulness in ministry. When you’re overloaded by activity, you can only think of yourself. You’re in survival mode, just trying to make it through another day. But being available to God for his use makes all the difference in this world.

When you have no margin in your life and God taps you on the shoulder, saying, “I’d like you to do this for me,” your first response isn’t joy. Your first response is, “Oh, no! Another thing to do! Sorry, God – I’d like to do that, but I’m just too busy.”

We end up resenting the great opportunities God brings into our lives. But when you have margin, you’re available for God to use.

You don’t have to live on overload. You don’t have to live in survival mode. Begin today to build a buffer around your schedule. Then enjoy the benefits of margin and see what God does next!
© 2008 Purpose Driven Life. All rights reserved.

Click HERE for a free subscription to The Purpose Driven Life Daily Devotional, your daily inspiration via email.

Margin or Marginless?
January 5, 2009, 11:49 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I really loved today’s Purpose Driven Life Devotional so I thought I share it with you. Enjoy!

Margin or Marginless?

God, listen to me shout, bend an ear to my prayer… You’ve always given me breathing room, a place to get away from it all. Psalm 61:1, 3 (MSG)

*** *** *** ***

A lot of people are on overload and headed for a crash. Consider these statistics:

· People now sleep 2½ fewer hours each night than people did a hundred years ago.

· The average work week is longer now than it was in the 1960s.

· The average office worker has 36 hours of work piled up on his or her desk. It takes us three hours a week just to sort through it and find what we need.

· We spend eight months of our lives opening junk mail, two years of our lives playing phone tag with people, and five years waiting for people who are late for meetings.

At least in the U.S., we’re a piled-on, stretched-to-the limit society that is chronically rushed, chronically late, and chronically exhausted. Many of us feel like Job did when he said, “I have no peace! I have no quiet! I have no rest! And trouble keeps coming” (Job 3:26 GWT).

Overload comes when we have too much activity in our lives, too much change, too many choices, too much work, too much debt, too much media exposure.

We’re stressed by information overload; we’re stressed by accessibility overload – we’re connected all the time. Simply put, we’re stressed by the pace of life.

Is there a solution? Yes. The solution is to put some margin into your life. Margin is breathing room. It’s keeping a little reserve that you’re not using up. It’s not going from one meeting to the next to the next with no space in between.

Margin is the space betweenyour load and yourlimit. But most of us are far more overloaded than we can handle, and there is no margin for error in our lives.

Dr. Richard Swenson, MD says this: “The conditions of modern day living devour margin. If you’re homeless we direct you to a shelter. If you’re penniless we offer you food stamps. If you’re breathless we connect you to oxygen. But if you’re marginless we give you one more thing to do. Marginless is being 30 minutes late to the doctor’s office because you were 20 minutes late getting out of the hairdresser because you were 10 minutes late dropping the children off at school because the car ran out of gas two blocks from a gas station and you forgot your purse. That’s marginless.

“Margin, on the other hand, is having breath at the top of the staircase, money at the end of the month, and sanity left over at the end of adolescence. Margin is grandma taking the baby for the afternoon. Margin is having a friend help carry the burden.

“Marginless is not having time to finish the book you’re reading on stress. Margin is having the time to read it twice. Marginless is our culture. Margin is counter-culture, having some space in your life and schedule. Marginless is the disease of our decade and margin is the cure.”

Tomorrow we’ll look at four benefits of building margin into our lives.
© 2008 Purpose Driven Life. All rights reserved.

Click HERE for a free subscription to The Purpose Driven Life Daily Devotional, your daily inspiration via email.

A Stuck Situation
January 4, 2009, 11:40 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Sometimes a ‘stuck’ situation requires a new perspective.

I helped a friend of mine put together a desk she had purchased from Ikea this afternoon. She had gotten the basic shape of the desk, but felt that something wasn’t quite right even though she followed the instructions. She thought to better to stop instead of going further to avoid messing anything else up.

When I got there and looked at the desk, sure enough, one piece just didn’t line up like it was supposed to. I glanced at the instructions and it appeared that everything had been done correctly. But I could clearly see that one piece didn’t line up like it should have. After a minute of looking over the instructions once again, looking back at the desk, I found the problem. One end of the desk had an overhang that wasn’t flush with this piece.

The solution was simple. Turn the piece 180 degrees. But could it really be that simple? Had she really missed something that easy? Where the directions really correct? Yes. While the directions were correct, it was easy to misinterpret because they hadn’t specifically shown which end faced forward.

I thought about how we sometimes find ourselves in situations or circumstances that we just can’t figure out. We’ve read the directions and done what was required (or so we think), but something’s just not clicking. What we need is a fresh pair of eyes, a new perspective on the issue. We need to see it how God would.

Isaiah 55:8,9 says it this way, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD… “so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

God doesn’t look at our situations and circumstances the way we do. Our timetables are not the same. If a year to us is a day to Him, then He can see far more than we could ever hope. As a result His plans for our lives are much more planned than we could ever know. If we could only learn this truth and yield to His plans and purposes our lives, how much easier would things be?