the BLOG of stuart mcdonald


Lesssons from “Coming to America”
April 29, 2009, 3:16 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Most of us have seen “Coming to America”. It’s a staple in ANY movie collection. While I was watching it the other night, I began to notice something that I hadn’t paid much attention to before.

There was something about Akeem, the main character. He’s the Prince of Zamunda, a country in Africa, where he has everything he could ever want and more. But he isn’t satisfied with the selection of women there so he chooses to venture to America, to Queens, NY to find a wife.

He gets a job working at a fast food restaurant as a janitor. And he does everything with such excellence that everyone around him takes notice. He does whatever he’s asked and doesn’t act like there is anything below him. He’s a great example of a servant. The people he meets notice that there’s something different about him, but they can’t put their finger on quite what it is. He’s always considerate and gracious. He never truly exposes his legacy, but he never lies about it either.

The owner of McDowell’s wants his daughter, Lisa, to marry Darryl (who’s father’s company has made money in the hair care industry) because he APPEARS to be rich, but little does he know that Akeem has the REAL wealth. He’s looking on the outward appearance (as we so often do) and HE nearly misses the real truth. His daughter, Lisa, however, has enough sense to get to know Akeem and discovers that he’s a great guy who isn’t concerned about the material things that Darryl or her father are.

The moral of this story is two-fold. First, do everything you do with excellence, not because you may WANT to, but because he speaks well of you (and who you represent – Christ). Secondly, if you think you’ve got someone figured out because of what you can see externally, you may be in for a surprise when you see the real person. While Akeem actually had more material wealth, he also had a solid, humble, and gracious head on his shoulders, making him the better choice in more ways than one.



Thank God for Closed Doors!
April 23, 2009, 10:07 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Normally I wouldn’t post message notes from a Wednesday night service, but Paul Sheppard was SO ON TIME last night that I had to share these with you.

You can find more information about Pastor Paul’s radio show here and more about his church here

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Thank God for Closed Doors
Dr. Paul Sheppard (Abundant Life Christian Fellowship)
April 22 2009 7:30pm

(Before the message starts, I already like this guy because he’s got his message notes on his MacBook!)

Y’all are gonna be together in heaven anyway, you might as well get used to it now. (Talking about having a Multicultural Church)

Ruth 4:1-6

You have to learn to trust and thank God when doors close.

We know that God will open doors that no man can shut, but sometimes God will close doors that no man can open.

1 Peter 2 –> We are a chosen generation… a peculiar people. Not weird – that’s on them, not God. We’re unique, we’re not like everyone else. We walk by faith and not by sight. And that makes you different than everyone else who doesn’t

Philippians 1:6 –> He saved you when you couldn’t save yourself. He doesn’t tell us what the journey holds, that’s why we need faith.

Ephesians 2:10

Romans 8:28 –> things don’t work together for EVERYONE, only for those that are called according to His purpose.

We’re the name-it-claim-it generation and we walk around with a faith credit card, saying, “I’ll take this, I’ll take that” because we’ve been taught by candy store preachers that said we could have whatever we want.

You can only claim what He ordained.

When you have trouble, DON’T MOVE, seek God.

Sometimes God makes a Kingdom connection that seemingly makes no sense but God is all in it. It’s not about personalities, it’s about your purposes and God knows what He wants you to do. This was the relationship that Ruth and Naomi had.

Learn to trust and believe God when you hear the word, “NO” Learn to trust Him when everything says you shouldn’t! TRUST HIM NO MATTER WHAT YOU FEEL!

Why should I trust God?

1. Your Destiny can’t be ruined by the decisions of OTHERS.

God isn’t dong what he’s doing in your life dependent upon the cooperation of a few key people!

We serve the sovereign God of the universe! He ain’t worried about these raggedy people in you life who don’t know if they’re coming or going!

Look at Joseph –> All signs pointed to the fact that his dreams would never come true because he was sold into slavery, BUT GOD used his brothers to pay his way to Egypt!

Sometimes the people who are the most frustrating in your life are actually working FOR you. If they knew they were working in your favor, they’d stop messin’ with you!

Some of you wouldn’t have a prayer life were it not for your enemies.

2. God often SUBTRACTS before He ADDS

Look at Gideon –> He recruited 32,000 for his army and then God said, “Send them home”. Out of the 32,000, 22,000 left at first. Then God give him another test and takes his numbers down to only 300! BUT GOD took those 300 people and confused the enemy so bad and put such fear in their hearts that they were talking about Gideon.

Don’t try to put your finite brain around God.

You have to learn to thank God when people leave you.

When folk wanna leave you LET THEM GO! When you want to go, it’s not God’s will in my life to convince you to stay!

If you are not connected to the vision of the church… good bye!

If your heart’s not here, your body shouldn’t be either.

A lot of times when you see people try to pull things in the church, it’s because they get away with it at home.

3. The wrong doors MUST close so the RIGHT doors can open

The only reason you’re saved tonight, is because the first guy said “no”. If the kinsman redeemer said, “yes” Boaz and Ruth would never had Obed and Obed had Jesse, Jesse had David and Jesus was a descendent of David.



Is Nothing Sacred?
April 22, 2009, 4:36 am
Filed under: My Life...

Someone asked me a while back, in reference to a blog I had posted, “Is there nothing sacred to you?”

Yes and no.

The question assumes that there’s a division between what is secular and was is sacred in my world. In other words, there are certain things that are ‘off limits’ and those that everyone can discuss. And honestly, for me, there’s not. If you follow me on Twitter or you’re my Facebook friend, I talk about any and everything. I’ll post a scripture or some sermon notes and then maybe some Musiq lyrics or tell you what I’m eating for lunch. It’s all a part of my life.

I think it’s very dangerous to compartmentalize our lives into “You can know about this but not about this” areas. Because if we do it with people, why wouldn’t we do it with God. And He doesn’t want just a part or portion of us, He wants every minute we’re awake to be spent glorifying Him. But how can I do that if I’ve relegated Him to this area over here? What happens when I go and do something in the area where “people can’t know about this because of what they’ll say”?

Having said that, I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t stand people that are always happy and cheery on Facebook and Twitter. If you’re a real person, I want to know that you’re struggling or having a bad day. I want to know that you have feelings and get angry sometimes. I want to know that my life isn’t the only one that gets jacked up my life’s circumstances sometimes. Especially if you’re a Christian, we should let people see us go through things so that they can see a few things:

  • They need to see that God is working all things for our good because He is indeed good and God and He loves and cares about His children.
  • They need to see that you have your hope in something bigger than your circumstances and immediate situations.
  • They need to see that life isn’t about what’s going on right now, but it’s about what God is preparing us for.
  • They need to see that life isn’t about US. It’s not about ME. It’s about God and the fact that He alone is sovereign.

Your issues and problems really, honestly, aren’t about you. They so that someone else can watch you walk through them to see that it IS possible. They’re so others can learn from your mistakes (but how can they learn if you never share?) and rejoice with you in your triumphs and successes.

That’s the ‘No’ portion of my answer. So where’s the ‘Yes’? The ‘yes’ is found in the fact that I do have a personal life where I will not give you every single detail because there may be others involved who don’t want their details in the open. Some things are not important for you to know, but others I think you might be able to learn from, so I’ll freely share.

Any questions?



Make Sure You Get Your Rest
April 21, 2009, 4:11 am
Filed under: Ministry, My Life...

My life, since February of this year, has gotten so much more busy. Between working at One80 some mornings (5-10am), doing my regular graphic design, serving in ministry, having a small group amongst my other friends, and wanting to just ‘do’ stuff, I’ve been burning the candle at both ends. And when I head back to school this fall, it’ll only get worse. But I believe that something will change before then that will allow me to focus on the truly important things in life.

Between occasional shots of “5 Hour Energy” and getting 3 or 4 hrs of sleep at night only to come home in the middle of the day and sleep 2 or 3 more, I was (maybe still am) tired.

I make mention of this to say that we HAVE to slow down and take a break once and a while. This past weekend was incredible. It was the complete opposite of the weekend of Easter. I did nearly NOTHING and had a great time doing it!

I didn’t go out Friday night (I actually decided to stay in and not play a softball scrimmage we had for the sake of rest) I woke up early on Saturday to teach my running class, came home and napped before heading out to teach our membership class and chill out at a friends house (which was really, everyone-fall-asleep-on-the-couches time) I slept in on Sunday, went to church, had lunch with a friend and went back home.

My slow weekend made me realize that I CAN say no sometimes and there is nothing wrong with resting. If I don’t stop and slow myself down, no one will do it for me.

I know there are demands on everyone’s life, but if GOD took a day off after creating the world, I don’t know why we try and out-work him. I WILL be more intentional about getting done what needs to get done, but not burning myself out. If I’m burned out, I’m of no use to myself, nor anyone else, and least of all GOD!

In the light of this weekend you will see me take a few months off from serving and rest and relax, but it’s important that I get things in order first so I don’t just leave people hanging (that’s tacky!)

I got my rest… Are you getting yours? If not, what do you need to change in order to? Think about it and MAKE IT HAPPEN!



SIN Issues
April 15, 2009, 2:22 pm
Filed under: Ministry

I had an interesting conversation the other day with a friend. I can’t remember how it started but we eventually began discussing people serving in ministry but not living holy and consecrated lives. When I reference to people in this instance, I’m only talking about those that are actively serving in ministry (and are therefore leaders in the church). I’m not talking about those that regularly attend or just show up when they feel like it.

If you know of someone that is LIVING in sin, and you do nothing about it, that would make you an accessory to the sin. An accessory is a person who assists in the commission of a crime, but who does not actually participate in the commission of the crime as a joint principal (definition – Wikipedia). After doing some research, I found that being an accessory to the crime is also punishable, so keep that in mind next time you decide not to bring someone’s ‘issues’ to the light of their leadership (after you give them a chance to come clean of course)

How can we prevent moral issues from arising?

Set the standard. It’s unreasonable for a child to be punished for something that he didn’t know not to do. The same is true for adults, and in this case, Christians. The standards must be clearly laid out and defined (not legislated, however, but clarified by the Holy Spirit) so that those that must abide by the standards understand the expectations. They must also be enforced if necessary. Laws lose their power if there’s not a punishment for breaking them.

I think we would all agree that if a Pastor had an affair or mismanaged tithes and offerings this would be totally inappropriate for a Senior Pastor. Or, how about an Elder? But what is acceptable for a Small Group leader that isn’t for an Elder? What is acceptable for a teacher on Wednesday night that isn’t acceptable for a Director?

Titus 1:6-9 gives us the Biblical mandate on the standards for Eldership:

“These elders should be men who are of unquestionable integrity and are irreproachable, the husband of but one wife, whose children are well trained and are believers, not open to the accusation of being loose in morals and conduct or unruly and disorderly.

For the bishop (an overseer) as God’s steward must be blameless, not self-willed or arrogant or presumptuous; he must not be quick-tempered or given to drink or pugnacious (brawling, violent); he must not be grasping and greedy for filthy lucre (financial gain); But he must be hospitable (loving and a friend to believers, especially to strangers and foreigners); he must be a lover of goodness, of good people and good things, sober-minded (sensible, discreet), upright and fair-minded, a devout man and religiously correct, temperate and keeping himself in hand.

He must hold fast to the sure and trustworthy Word of God as he was taught it, so that he may be able both to give stimulating instruction and encouragement in sound (wholesome) doctrine and to refute and convict those who contradict and oppose it, showing the wayward their error.”

WHY should we set those standards in place?

“There are many disorderly and unruly men who are idle (vain, empty) and misleading talkers and self-deceivers and deceivers of others. Their mouths must be stopped, for they are mentally distressing and subverting whole families by teaching what they ought not to teach, for the purpose of getting base advantage and disreputable gain.” (Titus 1:10,11)

Those that are more visible and well known should be held to a greater degree. Why? Because people look up to them AS the standard because they SEE them in whatever capacity (maybe singing or ushering or teaching) and assume they’re a leader. They have more influence over people and that influence must be used the right way. This doesn’t mean that we judge them differently; the Biblical standards are always the same. It does mean that they’ll be held accountable to a greater degree and just more strictly.

Look at what Jesus said to his disciples in Luke 17: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch yourselves.”

Never promote someone who isn’t ready.
To whom much is given, much is required. Have you been driving and seen those signs right before the bridges telling you how much weight the bridge can hold? Have you ever wanted to test those to see if they’re really true?

If you can show God you’re faithful with the small things, then He knows He can trust you with greater responsibility. I think too often in the church, we tend to promote people to positions without properly examining their lives. Maybe it’s because they’re talented or gifted, or maybe it’s convenient because they’ll do a job no one else will. I don’t care how gifted or talented they are, or how easy it is, it’s not worth risking integrity over. Once you lose you character and integrity, it’s not easy found.

When you put more weight on something than it is equipped to handle, something will break. It may be the weight, it may be the person, or it may be both and in doing so hurts others around the ‘accident’.

What if someone has sinned or had a ‘moral failure? How can we determine whether or not a person truly has a desire to change their sinful situations? How do we determine what sins or what degree of sin makes it necessary for a person to step down from a leadership role in the church?

Identify the fruit in a person’s life. Jesus said “By their fruit you will recognize them… every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.” (Matt 7:16-18) Is this an ongoing, habitual issue or did they have a ‘bad day’ and slip up once? Do they see that their actions are contrary to what the Bible teaches? Are they

Honestly, I don’t believe people “just slip up.” If you come and tell me, “Stuart, I had sex last night, but I don’t know how it happened, I just slipped up.” I’m not going to believe you. I’m not going to believe that you don’t know how it happened. Every time we choose to sin (because if you know better, it is a choice) we go down a road. At any point and time we can stop and turn around.

1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “But God is faithful to His Word and to His compassionate nature, and He can be trusted not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently.”

God gave us a way out but we, too often, choose to ignore it. Period.



Could Sex Be an Act of Worship?
April 14, 2009, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The other day I posted a Facebook status wondering what people would think about a married Christian couple having a stripper pole in their bedroom. I knew instantly, when the thought popped into my head a few weeks ago, that this was going to push some buttons and get people talking. And that’s exactly what I wanted and that’s exactly what happened! People were weighing in from all sides, some being REAL real, and some being very politically correct and super spiritual and they’re all great. I LOVED it! But I didn’t want to stop the conversation there…

I was thinking as I was driving home. God created man and wife to be together. He also created sex and being a creator I have to believe, if we’re made in his imagine, He wants us to be creative in every area of life.

It also occurred to be that anything you do for His glory is worship. Seeing as how He created marriage and sex, I thought, “Having sex with your spouse could be worship to God.” Ever thought about it like that?

We always talk about being creative in worship and singing a “new song” to the Lord, but did you ever thing that being creative in worship could translate into the bedroom activities of a Christian married couple? Could trying new things and being ‘kinky’ really be God honoring or have I offended every religious and spiritual bone in your body with this ‘blasphemy’??

What do you think? Is there a line to be drawn as to what’s appropriate and inappropriate in the bedroom for married couples? How do you draw that line if it exists? Why are Christians so afraid to talk about sex?



FULL Destiny Easter 09 Recap
April 13, 2009, 7:43 am
Filed under: Mind Flush, Ministry

I wanted to just give you a few (ok, maybe as many as I can think of) highlights from Easter in a little more depth than my initial recap.

First of all, the thought of doing 5 services was initially overwhelming. 4 is a lot, but 5 in one day? Really? (Around 11am, I concluded we could have packed out SIX if needed!)

When I arrived at 5am, the off-site parking was packed with Mag Team cars… Easily 75 cars! I was amazed at the dedication of our team and church by that alone! As I walked into the building, I saw the entire praise and production team in the Worship Center setting the tone for the day through prayer… Loved it!

So we got the teams ready and geared up to go for 6am service. I, honestly, was surprised that we packed the Worship Center and had 21 in the Chapel! At 6am! Are you kidding me? Someone remarked that the greeters had so much energy and enthusiasm that “they must give y’all coffee!” I had to laugh at that (especially since I got a 5 Hour Energy in my bag just in case – which I didn’t just BTW)

I’ll preface my description of service by saying I had NO CLUE what we were doing during service until it happened… I saw a tech sheet briefly about 5:30, but that was it.

SERVICE

Service started off totally dark with the exception of some blue lights and the band jamming while the Destiny “Mass Choir” took the stage with close to 50 people! We have NEVER had that many folk singing on that stage before! It seemed like 100 (to quote Jeanine). They tore it up first with Alive and some great hip-hop dancers. The energy was phenomenal and at 6am I truly give them props! They were just as crunk at 2pm! Amazing!

Next the “DMC” sang “Great Praise” and we had our ‘traditional’ liturgical dancers for Easter… of course they did great (would I tell you if they messed up? Maybe… but I wouldn’t know if they did in the first place! ;-))

When Dawn sang “Lamb of God” as we showed a video remix of the crucifixion scene from “The Passion” I knew at that instant that people were gonna get saved that day… no question about it. I think quite a few people got teary eyed… and rightfully SO! It was incredibly moving.

Everything went black and then the stone was rolled away and I got chills for real! The way those subs hit was incredible and to see the cloth shrinking back only to see the resurrected Christ was incredible! When the lights came up as Jesus walked out of frame and Elder Stevens starting singing “Mighty to Save” a cappella I tried my best just to take it all in. Austin Renfroe came in of the acoustic and did his thing! That song was in my head ALL of yesterday!

No announcements… Made service seem much faster!

When Chuckie stepped up to do the new Israel song “Just Wanna Say” I knew it was going to be a treat! I first heard this song when I got the CD the Tuesday it came out and I couldn’t wait to do it @ Destiny… Great time to break it out and I loved that we mixed it with an Easter classic from 2 years ago, Myron Butler’s “Set Me Free”

I honestly can’t remember much about Pastor’s message other than that he talked about Tiger Woods, changing things, and gave a ‘remixed’ story of the prodigal son that lead into altar call. I don’t know how many people got saved yesterday (I will find out though) but when I tell you, in the 12, it seemed like 40% of the Worship Center was up there! I’d say close to 80 people got saved the entire day… but that’s a guess… I really don’t know. I was so shocked but grateful to God that He was able to use us and our ‘foolishness’ to bring people into Eternal Life with Him. That never gets old! Ever! If it does, you don’t truly understand how valuable that gift is! (sorry… soapbox moment)

I’m sure other people noticed, but I LOVED that the band played “Running Back to You” during the Altar Call! That’s such a great (maybe my favorite) salvation song!

RANDOM

For the 8am both the Chapel and the Worship Center were maxed out and I knew if this was the case at 8am, the 10 and 12 were gonna be beyond crazy… and WERE THEY! Over 225 additional people in the lounges and hallways! Wherever people could sit, they were! Thank GOD the fire marshall didn’t show 😉

The timing and everything was SO on point yesterday that I KNOW God was all over it! Everyone exited quickly and didn’t really act too crazy to the ushers or greeters. The ushers and greeters (and traffic too) all held it down in a BIG WAY!

Why was it that, the first year we’re not at Mable House, outside, it’s the year that it would have been PERFECT for it! Last 2 years were COLD and the year before that, HOT was NOT the word… SCORCHING maybe…

We did a canned food drive and I heard Elder J say we had so much food he wasn’t sure we were gonna use it all… I think he underestimates what FREE FOOD does to people… LOL!

It was great to see all the men serving with the traffic team and collecting food! Now if we can just get them to do it on the regular without Pastor having to call them out and count them off! (Slight cynical moment ok?)

Having nearly 4000 people on campus made me wonder: Why can’t we get our act together and tithe so we can build out a 2500 or 3000 seat Worship Center and increase our capacity to reach the community… CLEARLY there is a need for it! Do you not want your neighbors saved and active at Destiny?(sorry… soapbox moment again… but REALLY people! REALLY!)

Ok, I’m done! What were YOUR highlights?