Yesterday afternoon, The Elephant’s Debt released an update pertaining to questions that readers had raised about James MacDonald and rumors of gambling. Since that time, several readers have offered their thoughts regarding the pictures that were posted in the original update. What’s more, at least one reader has put forth a new line of questions regarding another senior member of the Harvest staff and the practice of gambling.
Regarding the identity of the individual in the photo to the right, one reader identified this person as using the twitter handle @pocketdueces. A Google search under that name has likely provided photographic confirmation of the individual in question. Without being certain, it appears that the man in the photo is Jesse Rockowitz, a professional online gambling personality, who has won the World Series of Poker Tournament in 2010. According to globalpokerindex.com, Mr. Rockowitz travels the world as a gambler; and has lifetime earnings of $930,648.
Additionally, in the comment section of yesterday’s update, a reader directed our attention to the Global Poker Index website, which lists Frederick Adams of South Elgin, IL on its roster. According to GPI, Mr. Adams has lifetime earnings of $36,920. A further review of pokerpages.com reveals the same Frederick Adams, with a total earnings of $39,665. Of the five tournaments that Mr. Adams attended, four took place in northwest Indiana, with the most recent event occurring in July 2012. Furthermore, a review of whitepages.com reveals two listings under the name Fred Adams in South Elgin, Illinois. One of these listings is for Fred Adams, the CFO of Harvest Bible Chapel. While this does not conclusively prove anything, it does at least validate the questions raised by numerous church members regarding issues pertaining to gambling.
Now, as of 30 minutes ago, The Elephant’s Debt has been advised to look into Dallas Jenkins, the Director of Media for Harvest Bible Chapel. According to the internetmoviedatabase, and according to Jenkin’s own blog site, Dallas Jenkins “is an avid poker player and has several tournament results listed online.” According to pokerpages.com, the only listing for Dallas Jenkins suggests that Mr. Jenkins has lifetime earnings of $58,961. It must be stated that the imbd.com page does not link directly to the pokerpages.com site, which means that this is not conclusive evidence that this is the same Dallas Jenkins. This merely serves to raise the question as to whether a culture of gambling exists at Harvest.
Members of Harvest Bible Chapel must also ask their elders and senior pastors whether their position regarding gambling has changed since James MacDonald taught the following message entitled: “Three Enemies of Triumph Over Treasure – Part 1.” To access the sermon, please click on the following link or simply read the transcription below.
Did you know that 90 million Americans go to casinos every year. They spend $300 billion on gambling. That’s 1/3 more than we spend on education. That’s 4 times the amount given to religious institutions.
Why, why why all the gambling? Dishonest gain. Trying to make money and looking for an easy way. A shortcut. Now, gambling and lotteries to get rich quick is dishonest. Ephesians 4:28 says, “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labour, working with his hands, the thing that is good.”
The biblical way to gain income, tell me, is to what? Work! Just go work! Just roll up your sleeves or focus your mind or get out there and make something or sell something or do something. That’s honoring to God, and earning your income through hard work . . . it’s right. And it’s honoring to God. And little sneaky short-cut-things and “we’ll buy a few tickets here at the gas station and maybe we’ll get lucky.” The way to gain wealth is through work, and anything else, biblically speaking, is dishonest gain.
To be clear, the Bible does not explicitly condemn the practice of gambling. However, it does warn us not to be tempted by a love of money (1 Tim 6:10; Heb 13:5) and it likewise warns us not to attempt to get rich quickly (Prov 13:11, 23:5). Given the seedy context that surrounds professional gambling, and given gambling’s highly addictive nature, most Christians have historically interpreted gambling to be an unwise use of money, which in turn raises the issue of of being above reproach.
So, in conclusion, three questions remain:
(1) When and where were these pictures taken?
(2) Who is the individual standing next to MacDonald in this photo to the right that was originally posted in the November 6th update?
(3) Is the Fred Adams listed on globalpokerindex.com the Fred Adams who serves as the CFO of Harvest Bible Chapel?
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In raising these concerns, it must be noted that we are not suggesting that we are faultless on similar issues. In the past, both authors have participated in no more than half a dozen small poker games amongst friends, where the buy-in ranged between $5 and $20 dollars. At the time, we justified our participation in these games by arguing that this money would be the same as that which we would spend grabbing dinner and movie. Since that time, both authors have reached the conclusion that while fun, these games could raise questions in the minds of others who had stronger convictions on this matter. Therefore, to avoid falling into sinful patterns of behavior and to avoid even the appearance of evil, both authors quickly ended their affiliation with this increasingly popular past time.