the BLOG of stuart mcdonald

Over a Dead Monkey – Racism and Equality
February 23, 2009, 6:55 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

When this whole issue surrounded the New York Post cartoon surfaced and I saw people’s reactions, my immediate thought was, “Do we only want to stand up for free speech when it’s something that we agree with or believe in?” I won’t even get into all of that right now, I thought that this was just a perfect example of the ‘hypocrisy’ we see when people say “Yes, freedom of speech, freedom of the press… But oh wait you printing something that I deemed offensive… OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!”.

Do I think the cartoon was in bad taste, yes, I do. But to go as far as to say it’s offensive, I think, shows us that person may have taken it personally, or whatever reason. If I’m honest, I think that shows some prejudice, whether known of unknown in that person’s heart. You clearly took the message personally, but why? Because there was already something in you that wanted to on some level.

I think if you took the time to read the cartoon and know enough about the issues or today you’d find that it wasn’t directed at President Obama. I’m glad that I’m not the only one that took the time to read the cartoon and figure out that it was talking about those that wrote the bill, not the ‘monkey president’ who supports it. There’s a huge difference there.

Just because there’s a political cartoon with a monkey and it mentions a bill that the President (who happens to be black) supports, let’s all jump to the conclusion that the monkey is supposed to be the President and that it’s racist! Are you serious? Get the facts people! It’s bad enough to be ignorant, but to add ignorance on top of your own biased, and uninformed opinions can only make matter worse.

Now when it comes to race, racism, and equality, let me start by sharing a story: I am a white American male and until about 4 years ago, I had attended predominantly white schools and churches, not necessarily by choice, but more so geography. My church now (Destiny Metropolitan Worship Church) is a predominantly black church. That’s not our goal or end desire, but few churches are born multicultural, and while we embrace diversity, it takes time.

I distinctly remember one day when I had the revelation that I no longer viewed Destiny as a ‘the black church I attend’ but only as ‘my church’. Honestly, I can’t even tell you what shifted or changed in my mind… but I knew from that moment on that to look at Destiny as ‘the black church I attend’ was certainly enabling me to hold onto the prejudice (some known and some unknown) in my mind as well as the fact that it was also an incredible misnomer, because I saw that this church had become something more than the color of the skin of the members, but it was now my home. To say it was a ‘black church’ was ruined by not only myself, but the few other white folks that were/are there.

Every time we point out a difference, especially in areas of race, we make it more visible and thus more of an issue. I’m not saying that if we ignore it, it goes away. What I am saying is that while we surely can’t ignore it, we can choose not focus on it with such intensity.

I say all that to say this: I believe the true measure of how far we’ve come in being a ‘racially healthy’ country is how much we don’t mention the issue of race. When there comes a day when black (or Latino, Native American, Asian, etc) officials can be elected to office and it’s NOT made a big deal of. Now I do understand there’s massive historical significance to this moment, but we have to move past these ‘firsts’ and make it commonplace.

Now will we ever get there? Maybe I just don’t have that much faith in people, but I think it’s going to take a LONG time… long to the point where Christ will return first.

One last thing… the fact that you and y(our) President happen to be the same race does NOT give you an excuse to perpetuate the stereotypes of your race. Now is not the time. IF ANYTHING, the opposite should be happening. You should now walk with your head held high, pants OVER your tail, on time, and with a purpose because now we’ve seen that it IS possible for you to accomplish anything fi you set your mind to it. You may have thought that your teachers, parents, and guidance counselors were selling you a lie, but know that you’ve seen what can happen, you better straighten up and fly right because just as people look at him as a representation of the black race, they do the same thing to you.

I know that’s ridiculously long, but I will not apologize for getting all that off my chest.


If You Can’t Do It… Move
February 16, 2009, 5:36 am
Filed under: Mind Flush, Ministry

People have been getting on my nerves a little bit as of late as it relates to their volunteering. I figured it best to just kind of let it all out and rant and rave and such… But before I rant, let me give this disclaimer: This is not directed at one specific person. There are in fact lots of people who came to mind as I wrote this, both good and bad. If you feel ‘offended’ by this, maybe it’s the Lord telling you to step your game up… But that’s just a thought.

You are a volunteer and this is a volunteer position. If you don’t wish to serve, please don’t. As much as I love you and enjoy serving with you, I don’t want to serve with people that do things half heartedly. It’s just simply not worth it. Either do it, or don’t, but don’t just do it for the show of things to make yourself feel better and think that you serving on the weekend will make God overlook all the foolishness you did during the week.

If you can’t show up on time and are continually late, that’s a personal issue that needs to be addressed. But beyond that, it also says a lot about your commitment and dedication, not only to the ministry and the team, but to God. Would you ever show up to your job, already 30 minutes late, and ask your boss for a ‘lunch’ (or maybe more accurately, breakfast) break 30 minutes later? Or better yet, would you just excuse yourself without asking and take one? If you worked for me, that foolishness would get you fired. End of story. I don’t want lazy people working for me or with me.

I don’t want excuses as to why I can’t do this, that and/or the other. If you can’t do something, tell me, “I can’t do that” and I will find someone capable, who can.You are not that special that you can’t be replaced by one of dozens of other people out there. Don’t get me wrong, you have a special and specific purpose planned out for you, but should you choose to procrastinate too much, I wouldn’t assume that God’s gonna keep it there for you. His purposes must be accomplished. Period. I’m sure he’d love to use you, but if you’re not willing and able, I have no doubt he’d find someone else who is.

I’m not your boss. You don’t work for me.  When you are serving in ministry, God is your ‘boss’, not a man. The work that you do and the effort you put forth is a representation of you relationship and passion for him. You would easily go out of your way to do something for someone you loved, or were perhaps interested in right? But if a stranger, or an acquaintance asked for the same thing, you’d hesitate a little, maybe even brush it off right? It’s the same thing with ministry. There is a direct correlation between the heart you use to serve God with and the effort you put forth and your relationship with Him.

Wanting to satisfy the crowd…
February 9, 2009, 5:38 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I was reading my Word this morning and it was talking about the account of Jesus’ crucifixion, and the events leading up to that. As many times as I’ve read it, something new jumped out at me this morning. It talks about when the Feast came around and the custom was to release a prisoner. Pilate wanted to release Jesus, but the people wanted Barabbas, who was a murderer. But it was verse 15 that jumped out at me the most. It says, “Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.”

Wow… It wasn’t necessarily Pilate’s ‘fault’ that Jesus was crucified. He was strictly doing what others asked of him. In Matthew, it says that he washed his hands in front of the crowd of people in order to free himself from the responsibility of what he had done.

But I thought to myself, how often do we do something ‘wanting to satisfy the crowd’? Probably more often than we think we do. We obviously live in a very image driven society and I so often see men and women doing certain things because of what they think others will think about them because of that thing.

But I think we made the mistake in misunderstanding that others approval is ultimately worthless. If you like me, who I am, what I have to say, great… if not, that’s great too. I’m not gonna sweat the fact that you don’t approve of who I am, what I wear, who I hang out with, etc. That’s not important to me. What is important is living for the approval of one… The One. If I can please Him, he can supply me with everything I could ever want and need, including favor with men.

Kids… Eeek!
February 8, 2009, 5:07 pm
Filed under: My Life...

This weekend I’ve had a lot of activities where there were kids around. And that’s not really the norm for me. I helped a friend of mine move and she has 2 absolutely beautiful girls and then I headed to a baby shower for one of my boys. Yes, that’s right, I help folks move AND go to baby showers… But I had to stop by Target to get them a gift and found myself overwhelmed and in awe at the baby section. I was amazed that it took ‘all that’ to raise a little person for only 3 years of life. Then, at the baby shower, I was captivated watching all the kids run around and interact with each other. They were just so fascinating to me, watching how they laughed and played, just like regular people… but smaller… and cuter!

My policy with children is normally, if they’re not mine, I’m taking absolutely no responsibility for them. Period. I’ll have kids and they’ll be my responsibility but until then, I’m claiming no one. Now, hear me… I LOVE kids and think that they are incredible, but not having met my children’s mother, I’m totally not ready for any as of yet. Maybe… MAYBE, once I meet her, things will be different. I’ll let you know when it happens.

Sons of Issachar
February 4, 2009, 4:15 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Pastor taught a great message concerning 1 Chronicles 12:1 – 2, 32 and I wanted to share some of the quick notes I jotted down.

“These were the men who came to David at Ziklag, while he was banished from the presence of Saul son of Kish (they were among the warriors who helped him in battle; they were armed with bows and were able to shoot arrows or to sling stones right-handed or left-handed; they were kinsmen of Saul from the tribe of Benjamin)… Men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” 1 Chronicles 12:1, 2, 32

I’ve heard this scripture dozens of times, but it wasn’t until we looked back at chapter 7, where it mentions the sons’ names, that I got a more out of it.

“The sons of Issachar: Tola, Puah, Jashub and Shimron – four in all.” 1 Chronicles 7:1

Tola – means ‘worm’ Someone/thing who is defenseless. Opposite of a snake; easily crushed. It was his humility that would allow him to break down pride and allow his voice to be heard. Humility isn’t a weakness, it is a strength. These are the people that are placed in environments where there are a lot of proud people.

Puah – means ‘a blast’ as in being explosive. In order to change the culture, you have to look at the foundation. Before God can rebuild something, he must break down the foundation first. In order to deal with the systemic evil, you can’t be swayed or influenced by it.

Jashub – means ‘he will return’ You must find where you’re supposed to be strategically placed and take over there, take dominion because He (Christ) is coming back

Shimron – means ‘guardian, protector’ There’s always people who naturally protect, especially what God is doing. There must be safeguards put in place so that what’s being built isn’t being torn down as soon as it’s finished, or even before then.

February 3, 2009, 12:45 am
Filed under: Ministry, Relationships

I read a great post from Pete Scazerro on his blog about Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. If you haven’t read his book, “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality”, it is a MUST READ!  It’s one of those books that will really make you examine your life, past and present, and allows you to process a lot of things, coming out a better person.

But check out what he writes:

Overfunctioning can be defined as: doing for others what they can and should do for themselves. One way to remind yourself to settle down and wait upon the Lord and His timing  is to remember the following five principles:

1. Overfunctioning disguises itself as caring
Martha disguised her overfunctioning as caring for the needs of others. In trying to accomplish too much, she lost sight of herself and her guest – Christ Himself! She offered hospitality at the expense of herself.  She confused caring about someone with having to take care of them.

2. Overfunctioning perpetuates immaturity
In Exodus 18, Moses mistakenly believed his self-sacrifice was serving the people. In actuality, he became the largest obstacle, the bottleneck to the people’s growth and maturity. In Numbers 11, the Israelites demanded a rescue from their pain. Moses accepted the role. In doing so, he ensured their continued immature behavior.

3. Overfunctioning prevents me from focusing on my own life direction.
Jesus, at the end of his life, said, “I have completed the work you have given me to do.” Unlike Jesus, we easily get sidetracked from our own life direction by over-focusing on others. Overfunctioning toward others often results in underfunctioning for oneself. When I am overly-focused on others, I lose sight of my own values, beliefs and goals.

4. Overfunctioning erodes my spiritual life.
One of the subtle yet most insidious effects of overfunctioning is how it separates us from God. When we cross the line into running God’s world for him, we enter into dangerous territory, into the very rebellion of our first parents. When I am overfunctioning, I don’t stop enough to allow God to be God. For this reason, contemplative practices, such as Sabbath-keeping, silence and Daily Offices, help me resist this temptation.
5. Overfunctioning destroys community
The examples of Moses and Martha give us a visual picture of the negative impact of overfunctioning on communities, whether that community is a church, a workplace, a school or a family.

What other destructive effects of overfunctioning might you add? What has been one or two ways you have kept your feet on the ground to prevent being swept away by other people’s needs and agendas?

Where I Am… I Think
February 2, 2009, 10:58 am
Filed under: My Life...

I feel like I’m at a place in my life, where, while I don’t feel super focused on it, I’m thinking about ‘settling down’ and if I’m honest, that thought is a little (like 10 – 20%) scary. I don’t know that it looks like the movies make it look like because I don’t see her and I being a ‘typical’ couple. Lord knows I’m not intentionally trying to focus on those things, but being somewhat of a hopeless romantic, it gets to be kind of difficult.

Now, I will say that right now, I don’t know that I’m 100% ready to begin a family, with children and all, but I do think that I’ve made some good decisions recently that are beginning to set me up for that. I know children are an incredible responsibility and I know that right now, I don’t see their mother in my situation, not do I feel like I could own up to that responsibility. I don’t think once I find her, then I’ll immediately want to have kids, but I think that you have to walk before you can run.

Someone asked me, in reference to a note I had written, “Is there nothing sacred with you?” I think there very much is. There are certain things that I will and won’t discuss under any circumstances with people other than those involved and/or my inner circle. The things I write about and post are things that I think people can learn something from. Not that I have that much to teach, but sometimes my circumstances do, and I’d hope that whomever may read them would learn something from what happens to me.

I want my life to be an open book. Not so people can think highly of me, but more so to keep my accountable to the general public. Of course there are things that would only be shared with a few, but most of the ‘regular’ and ‘mundane’ issues in life I don’t mind sharing with the world. I’m a very honest person and, in my opinion, honestly hinges on openness and being forthcoming with what’s going on.

So what in the world does that have to do with my being ‘ready’ for a relationship where we’re pursuing marriage? That relationship will be very private. You may see us interact or sit together at church, you may speculate and assume things, but I will not make the same mistake twice. I will not put my own business out in the street. I will be very selective about who I make our relationship known to. That’s not to say that the people who need to know won’t because I’m trying to hide things. Quite the opposite, in fact. The people who need to know, my small group, my leaders, will know everything and will be able to protect both her and me from foolishness.

I will not let my haters get the best of me. Nor will I give them any room whatsoever to interfere with my life.