World Magazine reports on Jerry Jenkins’ gambling with James MacDonald and connects this story to Moody Bible Institute and The Elephant’s Debt

Update (18 Oct 2013)On October 18, 2013, World Magazine published an article titled, “No Bluffing,” in which they report that Moody Board Chairman, and famed Left Behind author, Jerry Jenkins gambles.  In the article, Jenkins admitted that he has won thousands of dollars in professional poker tournaments.  Moreover, he also reports that he shares a close relationship with James MacDonald.  In addition to authoring a book together, Jenkins confirms that he and MacDonald have gambled together.  What is particularly interesting to note at this point is the fact that late last year, three separate sources all informed The Elephant’s Debt that Dallas Jenkins, Jerry Jenkins and James MacDonald had taken, in the past, a trip to Las Vegas together solely for the purpose of gambling.

What makes this article so fascinating is that in the midst of talking about Jenkins’ gambling practices, it also takes the opportunity to summarize the ongoing issues raised by The Elephant’s Debt.  Over the past 12 months, many people have asked why Moody Bible Institute continues to air “Walk in the Word” on its airwaves in light of TED and the numerous former elders and pastors that have testified at TED.  So the question must be asked.  Has World Magazine answered people’s question for us in this article by connecting these two stories?

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124 Responses to World Magazine reports on Jerry Jenkins’ gambling with James MacDonald and connects this story to Moody Bible Institute and The Elephant’s Debt

  1. Jerry B. Jenkins says:

    My comments to Moody Bible Institute staff and faculty, Wednesday, October 30, 2013:

    Forgive me for reading to you today, but I tend to grow emotional when I talk about Moody, and I want to be sure to include everything I want to say.

    I have been part of the Moody family for more than 40 years and have often said that serving Christ here has been the proudest association of my life. I began as a student right out of high school, then returned and became editor of Moody Magazine 39 years ago this week. I eventually retired as Vice President for Publishing. I have been privileged to serve as a member of the Board of Trustees for 13 years, the past five as chairman.

    I am here today to ask your forgiveness. A few years ago I began playing poker in my home with friends and family. On occasion I played the same game in casinos. I never played alone, and while my pastor and my accountability partners were aware of it, I have come to see that playing publicly was an error in judgment in a matter of Christian liberty.

    Not wanting to make an issue of this for those whose consciences might have differed from mine on it, I did not make it public or, as the Apostle Paul cautions, “flaunt [my] liberty.’”

    However, seeing how it’s having been made public has wounded some in the Moody family, I want you to know that I will never patronize a casino again.

    This is a commitment I make willingly, surrendering what I considered a personal freedom for the sake of serving Christ with you, my Moody family.

    There are few worse feelings than knowing you have disappointed people you care about. Please forgive me for offending you and for my failure to give the reputation of Moody the priority it deserves.

    While, as [board vice chairman] Berv Peterson has said, until now the board has not been required to adhere to the Employee Standards, as a former employee who followed those standards for many years, I should have recognized that you would assume we were all on the same page in these matters. I’m sorry for disappointing you that way.

    As President Nyquist has led us into a new season of liberty with the revised Employee Standards, I pray that the impact of my failure to keep the reputation of Moody ahead of my personal freedom will serve as an example to us all in our lifestyle choices—where the highest good is not our freedom but rather the impact our actions have upon those we seek to reach and serve.

    Now let me speak to a comment from the recent article which brought all this to light. In a poor attempt to dissuade the reporter from a presumptive question about my having played for “high stakes,” I made a callous and insensitive remark [the “pocket change” comment] that does not represent my heart, and I ask your forgiveness for that as well.

    For the many years I worked at Moody, Dianna and I raised our family more than 50 miles from here, because that was where we could afford to live. I understand the sacrifices you make to work here, the second jobs and the tough choices it takes to make ends meet. In Psalm 62:10 we are instructed that “if riches increase, do not set your heart upon them.”

    When the Left Behind series changed our financial picture, Dianna and I did not set our hearts on riches but were overjoyed to be able to give to Moody in a way we never dreamed possible. I deeply regret that my careless comment appeared so disrespectful to the God-honoring sacrifices you make every day to serve this great ministry. Please forgive my thoughtless words.

    I ask for your grace and mercy and prayer as I and the other members of the board of trustees pledge to live by the same biblical standards you live by. My prayer is that even greater unity and commitment to the kingdom will be the outcome of my painful lesson. Thank you for letting me speak to you from my heart today.

  2. Canadian says:

    I think it is time that Rick Donald stepped up to the plate. James and Rick were never apart at London.. Rick did spend time at Faith in St. Thomas while James was beginning Harvest. Rick needs to address these issues unless he is trapped and unable to do so. No person in Christian ministry should be at the casino playing poker. No one in Christian ministry should be taking the money people have sacrifically given to the Lord and flaunting it attempting to impress people with people with cars, bikes, and charter jets. Money given to God is not the personal bank vault of the Pastor. Many believers do without the basis essentials so they can maintain their tithe. It is a holy gift given to the Lord and to abuse it is revolting. I don’t understand why Todd in Barrie has’nt called James to repentance. I am not a Pastor in the Harvest movement, but it’s time for the movement to address these issues. I don’t understand why anyone would give them one red cent in Canada or the United States. I am very disappointed that James is being held up as a model of Christian leadership by Heritage. Christ washed the disciples feet, he feed and healed not only his friends but his enemies, He didn’t even have a place to lay his head and his birthplace was a barn, that is the example we are called to follow. Not a man making 500/000 thousand dollars a years running around casinos doing who knows what. Sorry for the rant if you feel this is out of place don’t print it.

  3. Darwin Johnson says:

    Poker is partially a game of skill, but it is mostly a game of deception. Add big money, and the dynamics multiply. Motivated to deceive by pride and money? Yes, at many levels, and not only in poker. If playing poker is a good and productive hobby, why not encourage the sheep to do it too?
    Why not proudly mention it in biographical sketches? Maybe there should be a poker club for the students at MBI.

    • Watchman on The Wall says:

      Precisely…. The Moody Bible Institue should never have the student body being given restrictions on such games of ” skill” … just a thought….Maybe some really skillful students could mop up on less ” skillful” students and help pay the burdensome tuition costs borne at MBI. Final thought … The devil is a linguist and a semantic king of self justification, Why are so many trying to emulate him? Preaching with authority against ill gotten gain and then discreetly gambling leaves KING JAMES as a titanic hypocritcal fraud. I hope he doesnt get ” Left Behind”.

  4. Fedup says:

    ‘No money from WITW!” Laughable! James is so shrewd. I can recall him telling the congregation that he no longer gets any money from Walk in the Word. duhhhhhhhh.

    Read between the lines! See the facts. He WAS receiving over $150,000 per year from WITW; then it was merged into HBC, but his income rose from $350,000 to $500,000 at HBC. (The $350,000 got there from the $100,000 raise during Seize the Opportunity…very bad timing as well). All documented within this blog; you can check more under THE SALARY.

    So, directly…yes….no money from WITW….but Indirectly he us still getting the money…and he gets it now whether WITW does good or badly . He says one thing but it means something totally different! He is totally unbelievable and Out of Control!

    • In my experience with Harvest leadership this is very typical way of misleading. What I have seen is a conscious effort not to lie if one were to test the truthfulness of the exact words spoken. However, on more then one occasion with more then one Harvest Pastor or Elder from various Harvest churches (including plants) I have seen a total neglect for lying by omission. Fedup provides a textbook example. The words in and of themselves are not a lie, however in the bigger picture the deceit is in the words which were not said.

      • anonymous says:

        Have experienced this firsthand. Meaningless sound bytes that are intended to just keep the old Harves ball rolling, in themselves not a lie, but the guilt by omission is definitely present. I wonder if James teaches his pastors this skill.

        I have so much stuff saved on my computer for the day when I can “come out”. This day is rapidly approaching.

      • Fedup says:

        Thank you, ‘so Done’..you said it much better than I. It’s the ‘deception’ that is at the heart of the matter. After 16-17 years at Harvest, we have seen it decline to what it is today. We pray that it will once again be the church of teaching God’s Word that it once was….for at that time, it WAS GOOD!

        I will admit… James has an incredible ability to speak and persuade; it’s just sad that we do not trust what he says anymore….too much deception, misleading and do as I say, not what I do.

  5. Canadian says:

    I am deeply disappointed that my old school Heritage in Cambridge Ontario has held up James us as a model to follow. Back when he attended Heritage (then called London Baptist Bible College) possession of a deck of cards would have certainly resulted in a student being disciplined. Tragically the money these men are spending is money that members are sacrificially giving so James can run around with high end poker players.
    One question that needs to be asked is how does his wife Cathy feel about James abuse of power? I am more and more disgusted with my fellow Christian leaders. I don’t think a million dollars a year was what Paul meant when he said, my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus. Perhaps the following truism is true, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    • Mike says:

      Canadian,
      It is interesting that you mention Heritage. I happen to have attended the lecture that James MacDonald gave last week at the school. I have also followed with some regularity the posts on this website. From my perspective the two pictures of James (the one on this website and the one I saw in person) just don’t add up. I felt he gave a message that was solidly grounded in scripture and was talking on humility no less.
      I came away from that day thinking that there seem to be three reasonable views regarding Mr. MacDonald and the whole scandal being discussed here. First, he is totally innocent (that seems a little unlikely I have to confess); second, he has repented and is genuinely changing; third, he doesn’t really believe what he preaches or thinks somehow it doesn’t apply to him. To be honest I’m not sure what to think and I have a feeling a number of others feel the same. He did mention meeting someone at his home who has been very critical of both him and HBC and that they had a significant restoration/reconciliation. Has anyone else heard of this? Does it even make a difference? In the end I think the whole situation is disappointing. Pastors ought to be “above reproach” and I think if that was the case these kinds of scandals would not occur. Thankfully we serve Christ and not men!

  6. Tyranny says:

    Not sure how what I experience resonates with others…but here goes.
    The thing that haunts me is that I (me, myself and I) was taken in by all of HBC’s official line due to implicit trust that I have with those who are ‘qualified men of God’. I truly thought I was smarter than that – apparently I am not and now I struggle to reconcile the betrayal I experience by an institution (the church) that we / I ought to intrinsically trust. This ongoing drama / betrayal has me now worshipping at another local church in Chicago and very vigilant. And the charade goes on.

    • James 4:7 says:

      Yes–the expression, “Once bitten, twice shy” applies to many of us here. Years ago, we were in a charismatic church that became somewhat cultish–and spiritually abusive, when we pointed out their various departures from Scripture. To their credit, many of the attenders there were great advocates for the Bible and were good “Bereans”. It was their example that got us to read and study the Bible for ourselves, rather than just accept what the “leadership” was pushing on us. After the “Bereans” left, we left shortly after, but not without receiving a few “darts from the enemy” in the process of sharing our doubts about what the “kingpins” were teaching.

      After we left there, I was never again lackluster about Bible study. We both studied the Bible a lot after that experience. That is why it was so discouraging when JM started that whole Elephant Room debacle. T.D. Jakes was the capper but we were already dismayed to see Stephen Furtick and Perry Noble included as well. Frankly, I am surprised that someone like Matt Chandler would want to share a platform with the rest of them. Talk about a “little lone petunia in the onion patch”!

      We started studying the Vertical Church book in our small group and we had more questions about JM’s theology and where it was headed. JM’s “catapult” speech was another giant red flag for us and then, when we saw much of the information detailed on this website, we knew that we could no longer attend a church that was part of the James MacDonald system. We are now attending a very small home church and are loving it. We are doing in-depth Bible study together. It’s great. I doubt that we will ever be part of a large church again (even though we live in the understanding that we are part of the Bride, the universal Church–the true Church).

      • Despeville says:

        James 4:7

        Since you have mentioned Charismatic pandaemonium you have experienced and since I value your voice here I would like to share this with you and others from very recent conference “Strange Fire”. The same which MacDonald and Driscoll tried to crash like teenagers while having “Act like Men” conference in town (sic). This is not an official video so please excuse its quality but that is not important and here it is: http://youtu.be/F2JAoNoCVDY

    • Pebbles says:

      No one, under any circumstances, should trust an institution or church so much that they show up week after week thinking all is well and it will always be well. We should always sit under someone else’s teaching with a open bible, if it doesn’t line up with scripture, reject it. There is too much at stake.

      • Arthur LeMure says:

        No one, under any circumstances, should trust any posts written by anyone with a ‘handle’. If you have something to say (and you stand behind what you say), then I beg to ask, why can’t you disclose who you are?

        No one should ever be asked to respond to blind accusers.

    • Former HBF member says:

      Acts 17:11 talks about how the Jews in Berea were more noble than other christians because they examined the scripture to see that what they were being taught was actually true.
      In the beginning of Galatians it is written that there are people who want to pervert the gospel, and they are challenged to not accept ANYTHING else – no matter WHO (Paul or Angels from heaven) teaches it to them.

      I think these two things show how important it is that we as individuals study God’s Word on our own. When somebody is teaching from God’s Word, we shouldn’t just accept it, but we need to examine the scriptures for ourselves! Timothy 4 talks about how some will turn to deceiving spirits. There are many Christians who, though they are saved, have been deceived and lead away. We are sheep! We aren’t lions (that is Satan) and we can be lead away and deceived! And knowing and understanding that is so important in our walk with God, because it keeps us focused on Him and His Word and not on institutions and teachers – which is why we shouldn’t “intrinsically trust” teachers or the “church.” And remember too, Satan is sooo good at being sneaky! He mixes a little lie with a lot of truth so that it’s not obvious that we are veering off course.

      The good thing is, growing in our vigilence and studying of God’s Word. Sometimes those lessons have to be learned the hard way. =( But God is gracious! =)

  7. Marie says:

    Thank you TED for all of the ongoing work of posting and maintaining this site and persevering in doing this for over a year. The ‘Bride of Christ’ is the true body of born again believers globally, and we are called to share one another’s burdens especially in these times of growing apostasy in the visible church. I can appreciate the incredible effort that has gone into all of the fact finding and documentation recorded on this site. May our precious Lord bless you and those that have bravely stepped forward to share their painful experiences and for standing for His truth.
    About HBC, their church plants, their pastors and elders and the concerns of disqualifying behaviour according to God’s Word, we have noticed the same problems with the lack of transparency in all things HBC Rolling meadows and James, in some of the HBC plants in Canada as well. Is this a problem globally? Can anyone else speak to this issue?
    Over a year ago when we heard about the ER2 fiasco, we naturally assumed that the Canadian churches would also question (as the other discerning sister churches did), the wisdom or lack thereof of entertaining false teacher, T.D. Jakes. Then, to our shock James called this man a brother and catapulted their very own sister church out of the Fellowship just for daring to discuss the matter as a church body. Then James had the audacity to preach on this at Harvest U. All of this and what has continued since is bringing serious reproach to the name of our Lord. As has been posted before, HBC plants continue to hold fast to the program that HBC Fellowship (James Macdonald) puts out regardless of the scandal that has become very public, all due to James’s obsession with himself. He made these very serious lapses in judgment public, on his own volition, and to my amazement and many others, continues to do so.
    The pastors we know at HBC plants in Canada are following their leader, James, while expressing their love for Christ at the same time, how can this be? Unfortunately, many are very young and inexperienced with handling the myriad of issues that are bound to come up in ever growing churches. I am also wondering about the lack of discernment in the elders who are also aware of what is going on. In trying to make sense of the lack of a public response, perhaps the expectation of what can be achieved in leading a Harvest Bible Chapel (as exuded in James’ lifestyle), has become an expectation for their own futures’ with Harvest. Perhaps their church indebtedness is in the millions as well. They are clearly exhibiting a fear of man (or perhaps more than one), instead of trusting in the Lord to show them a way out of this mess. Just looking over their tweet posts after the ‘Act Like Men’ conference in Hamilton, Ontario recently, was sickening man worship. It is increasingly evident that they are not trying to distance themselves from the mother ship and its captain (this is what we expected to see at each instance of publicly recorded, bad behaviour by James).
    God’s Word has clearly warned in the Old Testament about ‘sin by association’ i.e. Achan in Joshua 7 and again in the New Testament in 2 John 10-11, (This passage in reference to James and T. D. Jakes.) Can they not see that they are compromising and disqualifying themselves for the very positions that they hold? Sadly, it appears that the leaven is infecting the whole batch. It is not like our Lord did not warn us…

    • jcr says:

      @Marie: “About HBC, their church plants, their pastors and elders and the concerns of disqualifying behaviour according to God’s Word, we have noticed the same problems with the lack of transparency in all things HBC Rolling meadows and James, in some of the HBC plants in Canada as well. Is this a problem globally? Can anyone else speak to this issue?”

      I can say that I noticed many of the same things happening at the HBC in my area as have been described on this website about the mothership in Chicago.

      My family has left HBC. We left for a variety of reasons. I don’t want to discuss them (I don’t think I’d be contributing anything new to the discussion anyway).

      You know what hurts the most about all of this? Its that, of all the thousands of churches out there, the last church that I thought would ever see this kind of disgrace was Harvest.

      • Marie says:

        @jcr Thank you for sharing. I hear you and surely empathize. It has been a difficult journey finding good Bible preaching sound churches. We also thought Harvest was it. May our precious Lord grant you His peace. As others have said, this has brought us closer to our Lord, in prayer, in our minute by minute walk with Him, and a concerted effort to be in His Word every day.

    • HBC Davenport says:

      Marie: “Is this a problem globally? Can anyone else speak to this issue?” See my post at the bottom of the Mike Medow’s thread: http://theelephantsdebt.com/2013/10/09/one-persons-story-mike-medows-rings-familiar/#more-2367

  8. QPB is confused says:

    Hard to know what’s right anymore. Here’s an example:
    1. I was in a leadership group at an old church I attended. In the meeting there was no prayer or mention of Jesus. I left.
    2. I always thought that HBC was a place you could be proud of that unapologetically preached God’s word. Now this. I met with a campus pastor for 2 hours who was and is a great guy. He said that James is in essence misunderstood (hard to encapsulate all that was said in meeting). I also have heard James is selling the mansion, not taking a salary from WITW, giving last few years of salary back to the ministry and taking a pay cut from Harvest. All good things, but I’m sure someone will comment on this post the alternative view of why that’s still not good enough.
    3. My brother who lives in Atlanta just went to a big church where this weekend the pastor stood up to tell the whole congregation that he is a horror movie fan and put up pictures of random horror movie stars. They got up and left.
    What’s the deal? I’ve always felt fundamentalists were too rigid, but all this stuff makes me want to just follow every word of God to the jot and tittle to avoid all this confusion!

    • Please note that all of these changes fall in the category of PR tactics – this is a heart issue – the mansion etc. are simply fruit on the tree that point to the heart not being in the right place. My experience is that Harvest is great at putting all of the theatrics together to make things look the way they should. Do not be deceived – look to the heart – James must be healed of his pride and arrogance first then sell the house as a result of becoming truly humble and recognizing the stupidity of his decisions!

      • Cara W. says:

        @SoDoneWithHarvest, I can appreciate your concern that these changes, if real, should be approached with caution. But I’m not sure what would look different from the outside if these changes expressed real heart changes as well. And if that’s the case, how can you be certain it’s just PR and not an inward heart position?

        If these changes are real, why not celebrate them? These actions don’t appear to me to line up with someone in love with money.

    • Cara W. says:

      Is the campus pastor the source for:

      I also have heard James is selling the mansion, not taking a salary from WITW, giving last few years of salary back to the ministry and taking a pay cut from Harvest.

      Or is this public knowledge by HBC members? This is the first I’ve heard of this.

      • QPB says:

        @Cara- I’d like to be able to tell you it was that direct, but I heard it from my brother who heard it from his friend that attended one of the open forums at HBC-Elgin. I personally would love for this to be heart change, but who knows but God? This is well known all over…I emailed Chris Fabry from Moody Radio who was well aware of this issue. I’m not sure how this will all play out, but there’s been times when I’ve focused on this blog more than the bible, and that’s not good. I don’t believe this will change in the way most people here would like it to. I think HBC will go on as usual, people will find new churches and be more vigilant about what the leaders are saying and doing. I personally just need to be able to trust God, because even the church is not able to be trusted. In a world system we can never trust, the oasis of church was always a safe place to be. Now that is not the case and it’s really disheartening……like sheep looking for an honest shepherd, we move on.

        • Marie says:

          @QPB
          I guess ‘church’ as in local believing community, can also become an idol. Perhaps that is one big lesson for all of us that have loved the HBC community and happenings.
          I would think that it would be relatively easy to verify whether or not Jame’s house is for sale. This does not change the fact however, that he just showed up with Mark Driscoll at the Strange Fire conference. If there were true repentance I would think that the Holy Spirit would have convicted his concsience of that misdeed, and the many others that keep surfacing…

        • One of the wounded says:

          Thank you QPB!

          That is a good word and where I am headed ” trustThe Lord and be more vigilant” The Lord does warn what the end times will be like and we need to be alert and sober minded. It is a little disheartening that a church may not always be a safe place but I believe there is still a remnant because God is faithful and I need to keep my eyes on Him “always”.

          It’s strange waters I am navigating. Thanks again

  9. "Come let us reason together..." says:

    I quit giving to WTW few months ago, can no longer feed the beast. Some Pastor/Teachers place themselves too high above the sheep. Keep it simple like Paul did…
    Romans 15:14 “I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another.”
    The best quote i ever heard about pastors was…” You can always tell a good shepherd….because they’ll smell like sheep.”
    (P.S. PAGAN CHRISTIANITY was the enlightening book for me…)

  10. Carol says:

    Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this,
    To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction,
    and to keep himself unspotted from the world. James 1:27

    Gambling, including poker, is a vice that is totally of this world, and is no Christian “liberty”. It panders to the fleshly desire for unearned money, excitement and thrill of winning at the expense of others. Casinos are a dirty, corrupt business, and have long been historically associated with other wickedness, such as organized crime, prostitution, blackmail and murder. Gambling addiction has entrapped many a poor soul into a cycle of financial desperation and moral destitution. The Lord Jesus Christ died and rose again to forgive and set captives free from the domination and control of sin. How is it then that MacDonald, Jenkins and other church leaders go out of their way to be spotted and stained by the gambling world, and to revel in it?

  11. Mike says:

    A week ago I found myself explaining to some people why I left the church (in general, not just Harvest) and I used Harvest and more specifically James MacDonald as my example for what ultimately put me over the edge.

    I’m no stranger to mega churches. I spent much of my childhood at Willow Creek. Later on in my teenage years my father and I would go to Wednesday night services. My parents scrimped and saved to send my brothers and I to Christian Liberty for our entire K-12 schooling. As an aside, while I might not share the same beliefs or ideology as the faculty at Christian Liberty I can look back on it and say with 100% certainty that these were people that believed what they taught and they did it because it was their calling. You won’t look at anybody there and say they’re in it for the money.

    But I digress. In my later high school years I found many of my friends attending Harvest. Someone gave me a worship CD and I was hooked. A few years later I would start attending casually and eventually started attending regularly, first with my father, then with friends.

    James always struck me as an amazing teacher with the ability to simplify complex subjects and break things down into more easily digestible chunks. What bothered me at the time was the constant pandering for money… Keep in mind this was 10 years ago. It seemed you were always being asked for money and they seemed to find new and exciting ways to do it.

    There was the time where offering was taken and then I was encouraged to give more to the construction fund and it was made clear to us that the construction fund was separate from the normal church fund. Or the time offering was taken and then a message given on the importance of giving, followed by a SECOND post-service offering being taken. I guess this isn’t inherently bad but it’s just manipulative and seems to be very un-Godly. Get the cash, make them feel mad for not giving enough or not giving at all and then give them an opportunity to make it right. Ick… It leaves a sour feeling in my stomach. Then there was the time they trained (and trained is the correct word here) the congregation to cheer when it was time to give the offering. This always made me feel awkward, that seemingly intelligent people were this easily manipulated. It’s a textbook example of mob mentality.

    But the end for Harvest was one day, maybe 8 years when a story was aired on the radio about James buying a house in Inverness for 1.9 million dollars. On it’s face, this was a questionable move but perhaps one that could have been easily explained away. I have other sources of income, I got it from my books, etc… The worst thing you can do is nothing.

    James found an even worse thing to do than nothing… I’m going off memory here and some that have been more involved in the church might be able to help me clarify but from what I recall, instead of directly addressing the story James/ the church made anyone seeking an answer go into a separate room and read a statement with an elder present. You couldn’t take a copy of the statement and there was no public response.

    So not only did you need to break from the herd and show the other sheep that you were questioning the shepard but once you broke free of the group to do so you were forced to awkwardly stand with an elder and read the pre-printed statement.

    Fast forward to now and I’m telling people why I left the church and re-counting the experiences with Harvest and James MacDonald when in an attempt to make sure my statements are accurate, I look up his name and stumble upon this website. All I can say is it saddens me. It saddens me that people have so much invested in a person that they find themselves justifying his actions to protect their own egos. It saddens me to see a group of elders let one man run away with so much power as to put the church the position it’s in and it saddens me to see this same group of men so quickly turn on their own in an effort to protect the golden goose, likely for fear that the financial situation gets worse and finally spirals out of control.

    Folks, this is corruption. Good men can slowly turn bad. Power corrupts, money corrupts and there’s apparently plenty of both going around here and the people that are suffering are feeding this monster.

    Churches like this give church and organized religion a bad name. Churches shouldn’t be a business. People outside or religion look at this model and wonder how anyone can support it. I hope this doesn’t come off as judgmental. I say this because I think it causes exponentially more harm then good and the people it harms just leave. They don’t have a voice because one day they’re just gone. So all that’s left is the appreciative pats on the back and the at-a-boys.

    I suppose I don’t have a point here other than vindication for what I’ve felt for 10 years now. But even at that, some things you really don’t want to be right about.

    • JD says:

      “But the end for Harvest was one day, maybe 8 years when a story was aired on the radio about James buying a house in Inverness for 1.9 million dollars. On it’s face, this was a questionable move but perhaps one that could have been easily explained away. I have other sources of income, I got it from my books, etc… The worst thing you can do is nothing.” Couldn’t agree more. It may very well be that when history looks back at Harvest it would be precisely this visible event that may have led to downward curve. Note the source of the funding for this home was depended on the Harvest Sheeps giving.

    • Mike … It saddens me to hear that you have “left the church” in general and “not just Harvest.” As someone who knows what it is to be deeply disappointed by the actions of a church, might I suggest to you that there is still hope. There are those, like your teachers at Liberty, that truly serve because they love those that they serve. I believe my current pastor is exactly that sort of man. If you’d ever like to talk at greater length, please feel free to contact me through The Elephant’s Debt. And if not, no worries. But either way, please know that we are grateful that you shared a part of your story.

      Yours in Christ,
      Scott Bryant

      • Mike says:

        Hi Scott. I appreciate the kind words. When I left Harvest I didn’t leave religion. It was a few years later that that happened. The hypocrisy of James certainly didn’t help and the examples I gave above of mob mentality opened my eyes up to the ease of manipulating a mass of people but again, I can’t directly say that James and Harvest are the reason I strayed. That was ultimately my doing. They have however left a very sour taste in my mouth over the state of the church in this country though I understand you can’t through the baby out with the bathwater.

        Given my upbringing, most of my friends are still religious and most of them still attend Harvest and I fear many of them are getting caught up in the excitement of the church and having a celebrity pastor, all the while brushing all the scary stuff under the carpet. The problem here is that when you have so much invested in your pastor and you’ve told so many people how great he is, it becomes that much more difficult to acknowledge any shortcomings when they come to light. You in essence force yourself to go down with the ship for fear of everyone seeing that you were wrong and once that happens you’re forced to reconcile the fact that you’ve been playing up the church and your pastor more than you’ve been playing up your saviour…

        I’m still very much open to the idea of God. I’m not an athiest and I don’t make an effort of telling anyone their beliefs are wrong because, well… I don’t know. I try to keep an open mind. I’m in another state now otherwise I might take you up on the offer though.

        • Geni Husley says:

          James MacDonald is not alone. Unfortunately this is happening over and over. Maybe it is not always gambling, maybe sex, or pilfering money, or a dozen other sins. But I think those of us who are sheep and part of large congregations with well-known, star-quality pastors need to be cautious to identify ourselves not with our church or with our pastor, but with Jesus, always with Jesus. The pastors may change, the church may change but Jesus and his message never will. I am sorry for, Mike, that you have chosen to move away from religion because it is not all bad; but I encourage you to move closer to Jesus. He is the same yesterday, today and always.

        • tjchantry says:

          Mike,
          I can’t tell from your post when you were at CLA, so I don’t know whether you know me or not. It’s possible from your post (you talk about Harvest “ten years ago”) that you might. I began speaking in chapel at CLA when I was hired to teach there in 2002. Maybe you remember me, maybe not, or maybe you left before then.
          I’m on record as being very concerned about, well, the effect of Harvest on people like you – students at CLA who were receiving a false view of what Christianity is. There is much truth in what you have written here. You seem also to write it without bitterness. I would love to have the opportunity to write to you privately. I’m sure there are others who were your teachers at CLA who would similarly love the opportunity to talk.
          The moderators of this site have my email, and they have my permission to pass it on to you if you ever wish to talk. God’s blessings on you.
          Tom Chantry

        • Despeville says:

          Mike you may have gave up on church because of some unscrupulous men but God has not gave up on you. Enough said. To God be the Glory.

  12. Bob Arosen says:

    I guess it doesn’t matter who gets hit in the crossfire here. I know that if you used the actual language from the article that you teased, your lead wouldn’t have as much pop, but at least it would be an honest representation of what was written about Jerry Jenkins. Other than discussing Moody and their policy, gambling was not mentioned. The article spoke of, and Jenkins confirmed, he plays poker recreationally. Specifically tournament poker. I guess “gambling” has more sizzle. I won’t repeat my thoughts on gambling vs poker again. Suffice it to say, the best hand doesn’t always win, but the best player usually does. Math, psychology, observation skills, and money management have as much, if not more, to do with poker success as the cards dealt. Random luck plays the same part in poker as it does in a baseball game or a tennis match.

    Also your second lead – “In the article, Jenkins admitted that he has won thousands of dollars in professional poker tournaments” is misleading. Perhaps what was actually described in the article, that Jenkins confirmed he was the Jerry Jenkins listed on the national poker site with lifetime winnings of $8K doesn’t have enough “pop”. I guess “thousands of dollars” is just as accurate and even better because it is more inflammatory. Whether $8000 is an exorbedent amount of money is relative. To someone struggling financially it is a big chunk, to someone with millions, not so much.

    Jerry Jenkins is a prolific and profitable author. He’s made a boatload of money because, in our financial system, if you have a skill for which there is a demand, you clean up. People made a decision to buy his books, when they bought his books (millions of them) he made a lot of money. What he chooses to do with his money is none of our business. If you don’t like what he does with his time and how he spends his money, don’t buy his books. He hid nothing from Moody. He did nothing wrong – unless, of course, something has changed and we now have to answer to someone other than God.

    I know many of you can’t get past this poker thing, and I can understand and respect your views. However, there are a lot of people who can’t get past Christians dancing, drinking wine, churches without Sunday (or Wednesday) night services, and many other things or activities about which they feel strongly. Who is the decider of things we can or can’t do that the Bible does not specify? An Internet comment forum?

    How does a discussion of what Jenkins does with his time and money have any bearing on the crusade being led by this site? Do we now have to take him and Moody out? We better go after the ECFA, too. I’ll bet some guys over there play poker. That’s probably why they gave HBC a free pass on accreditation. They would gladly bend their rules and risk the future of their organization to help out a poker pal. I know that it is exciting to have TED mentioned in an online magazine. Celebrate that if you want, but leave the bystanders alone.

    • job3627 says:

      For once, I agree with some of what you have written, Bob. The subject of this website is whether or not James MacDonald is qualified for his position (not whether Jerry Jenkins is qualified for his). The issue of gambling, while shocking (what’s next–horse racing, “the sport of kings”?), is a bit of a distraction from the primary, Scripture-mandated criteria for judging JM’s qualification for his position. There is more than enough testimony recorded here to bring any sensible Christian to the conviction that James MacDonald is not qualified. Whether he gambles or not, does nothing to change that–since Scripture does not speak directly to that issue.

      Jerry Jenkins may or may not be qualified for his position heading Moody. His example for Moody students may leave a but to be desired, but that is something for them to decide. I don’t think we want to take on that issue here.

    • Despeville says:

      @Bob,

      It never ceases to amaze me how much of semantic games you have to play with your self to justify for your self your blind allegiance to men who do wrong but have position in the visible church but this below?

      “What he chooses to do with his money is none of our business.

      WRONG. As long as he has official functions in the visible church as he does it is EVERYONE’S BUSINESS in the Church and beyond what he does with his money. This type of alien to the Word of God confusion and obfuscation is the very reason MacDonald rode his thing so far and over lives of so many. Incredible.

    • karen says:

      It’s not about gambling. It’s about mindset, power and the prosperity gospel. As an alumna, I find Moody’s response less than forthcoming and misleading, at best. This article speaks volumes about his posture, the value he places on people and income (gambling is the only way he can rub shoulders with non-christians? that’s shameful and condescending to them and to believers actually IN ministry) and the uncomfortable notion that the ultra-rich may in fact be leading and shaping the future evangelical church movement without an iota of accountability. His comments (these are his actual quotes we’re talking about) are sinister and disheartening.

    • disgusted says:

      Bob,

      I cannot get past this poker thing. The supposed game of skill. My father starting playing poker in WWII. He had a lot of free time traveling on the ship across the Atlantic back to the US. He said he made a lot of money on that trip. Fast forward to the 1960′s with a family of 5 kids living in California in the LA area. My dad was not home at nights very much. Where was he? He was in Gardena playing poker. Losing the rent, food, and utilities. Maybe this lead to his alcoholism. I do not know. So don’t kid yourself Bob. Poker or any other type of gambling can easily get out of control and destroy families. It destroyed my family.

      • Bob Arosen says:

        @disgusted

        I agree completely that gambling can destroy homes and lives, and I’m sorry that you had to grow up in that enviornment. Looking at this issue through your eyes, I can understand why you feel as you do. The children of parents with any type of destructive obsessive behavior are usually very sensitive to the dangers that can arise.

        However, the specific game we are talking about here is tournament Texas Hold’em poker. In this game an entry fee is paid and everyone gets the same number of chips. There is a prize structure, and participants win cash prizes based on their order of finish. It is like a bowling tournament with an entry fee. All you can lose is your entry fee. That’s not to say that everyone who plays in these tournaments can afford it, or that some don’t get involved in high stakes cash games where losses can be unlimited. There are some people who can enjoy a glass of wine without that leading to problem drinking, there are some who can’t.

        All that to say, in my (obviously minority) opinion, there is nothing to see here. Jerry Jenkins enjoys matching wits and the competition in a game of skill. He is asuccessful author who follows all the guidelines of any organization he serves in.

        • Jackie Alfirevic, entangled at HBC since 1992 says:

          OH FOR GOODNESS SAKE BOB!!!!!!!!!!

          gam·ble
          verb \ˈgam-bəl\

          : to play a game in which you can win or lose money or possessions : to bet money or other valuable things

          : to risk losing (an amount of money) in a game or bet

          : to risk losing (something valuable or important) in order to do or achieve something

    • Lucy says:

      The problem here is that when a man puts himself in the public eye as James does, he has to take the high road on everything. Unfortuntately for him, he is no longer just the average guy who plays poker, drinks wine, etc. Maybe it is not right, but when you put yourself in the position that he has, you have to be more accountable and above board for everything and to everyone. And considering all the sermons about money, the poker thing just seems to be complete stupidity.

    • Chris Pence says:

      @Bob,

      I have to echo Despeville’s sentiments regarding semantics. I see what you’re saying, but I also don’t believe Scott and Ryan misrepresented anything. Taking the money amount, for example, “thousands of dollars” is just as accurate as “8000 dollars.” They didn’t say tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands, and they didn’t punch it up with commentary such as “exorbitant amount of money.” Unless I’m mistaken, $8000 indeed fits into the category of thousands.

      Regarding the relevance of the article to TED, it further confirms the issue of James’ gambling. While I don’t necessarily share many of the commentors’ disdain for gambling, what I despise is when someone calls gambling ill-gotten gains, urges his congregation not to participate, but then proceeds to partake in that activity himself and has the audacity to excuse his behavior by calling it his liberty in Christ.

      Call it a game of skill all you want, but unless James was playing for M&Ms then he was a hypocrite to his own teachings.

      • Jackie Alfirevic, entangled at HBC since 1992 says:

        Or how about back in the Seize the opportunity days??? When James preached a FANTASTIC sermon on becoming downwardly mobile for Christ-(was it Phillipians 2?) Simplicity, humility, etc…Someone please check the dates but I am quite sure that it was soon after that he began to move into increasingly bigger more expensive homes :) I remember his disdain as he spoke of the “hobbies” of other people and how they might want to sell their para-sailing gear (or whatever it was that gave them such a thrill and they spent so much time on) for the simplicity of the Christian life and to have more resources for the kingdom…Can I get a witness??? Who remembers???

      • Bob Arosen says:

        Fair response. I’m not looking to get into a semantic word game, just pointing out that the headlines and lead posts here are punched up for maximum effect. I just hate to see other people and organizations get dragged into this quagmire. The idea that Moody keeps WITW around because James and Jenkins might have played poker a couple of times (i don’t know if they have or not) is laughable.

        • Bob Arosen says:

          Forgot to add @Chris to my reply above.

        • One of the wounded says:

          Dear Bob,

          I’m sorry to say no one is dragging anyone into this quagmire. They (James and Jerry) are putting themselves freely into this public quagmire by their own actions. Jerry himself admits that he is afraid to “cause embarrassment” so he stopped gambling in the Midwest. His position of leadership is much like an Elder as a board member at Moody. He is an example to students and donors who give to the school/ministry. But it really also connects the dots of reckless behavior that James has participated in. What about the comments from the Elders about James that followed the article! Have you ever asked James why he is causing such destruction to the bride of Christ and the people who desperately need a Godly leader who is set apart from the world? Rather than appeal here, why don’t you appeal to the person who is causing the problem? Do you have any frustration or burden for people who have been abused by their Pastor? Take some time to read the accounts from the Elders and Pastors again. It had taken my family some time to recover from our experience at Harvest after being a member for 14 years. That should grieve you. Why don’t you press James about what he is doing that is causing such controversy and harm that people must speak up! I’m sorry, I am tired. So tired of people who just don’t care about the wake of destruction. Real people who by the grace of a God are standing after the spiritual harm they have experienced. It will cost you to speak up just as it did for others and most the recent Elders ( Dan, Scott, and Barry). Maybe that’s a “gamble” you aren’t willing to take.

        • William Palmer says:

          “Laughable” “Non-starter” “Non-plussed” – All are cool ways the world has to dismiss the opinions of others. You go ahead and laugh, but tell us why.

          B-E-Y-O-N-D R-E-P-R-O-A-C-H – THAT’S NOT LAUGHABLE. What people do with their own time DOES matter to me. I don’t want it to, but it does.

          Especially when we find out we were $60MM in debt and now we’re told that we were told. That’s abuse. That’s cynical. That’s sophistry at best.

      • James 4:7 says:

        Matt 23:1-12: “Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, “Rabbi, Rabbi.” But you, do not be called “Rabbi”; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your “Father”; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called “Master”; for One is your Master, the Messiah. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

        • SH says:

          It doesn’t get anymore clearer than that passage. Only those who refuse to see, for whatever reason, will ignore these obvious behaviors, on exhibition by JMAC and his buddies, that Jesus condemned. They are not good shepherds.

        • Despeville says:

          Thank you for this quote. It surely came alive in a very tangible way in the midst of this sorry situation.

        • Karen says:

          Well chosen passage of scripture.

        • Greg T says:

          And another:
          Matthew 20:20  Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.
          21  And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.
          22  But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.
          23  And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.
          24  And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.
          25  But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
          26  But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
          27  And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
          28  Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

  13. Diana says:

    Cami, Cesspool in high places sums it up perfectly! It grieves my heart that HBC churhes have become a business and not ministry. This is nothing new, Jesus chased out the moneychangers in the synagog. We are told to be wise and discern. We cannot give this up and blindly follow because they have a “silver tongue”. Compare their words, actions and qualifications from scripture to any one who is attempting to tell others how to live.

  14. One of the wounded... says:

    I heard today in a sermon from Bill Hybels that they are 5 years ahead of paying off all of their debt. It’s looks like that will happen by December 31. They made a concerted effort as a staff to cut costs. They want to be an example in a time of excess and debt. Mega churches can be debt free! They said they will be able to use every penny toward ministry. I am a “Former” Harvest attender who happened to visit willow creek today. I must say that was refreshing to hear.

  15. Gloria Olsen says:

    I just went through World magazine Oct 19, 2013 and could not find the article regarding Jerry Jenkins. Are you referring to a different World magazine. The one I have has Marvin Olasky as editor in chief Pls clarify

  16. Despeville says:

    I think this is worth sharing because it is worth reading: “Mark Driscoll, James MacDonald, Strange Fire and Leslie Nielsen” by MennoKnight: http://bit.ly/1ez59VX

    • Wondering says:

      I would like to focus on a more glaring issue, namely real changes in the character of Pastor James and the choices he is making currently, not historically. When we had the campus business meetings over the last few months, we heard from elders and our campus Pastor that James changed a lot. When asked to describe himself so that we could get to know him better, James more than anything described himself as “fun”. He could have chosen anything, or added anything, but instead he said “fun” and then went on to talk about a “fun meter” with a story or two about it getting low. This past weekend James allowed himself to do something “fun”, namely going with Mark Driscoll to create a stir at the Strange Fire conference . I am sure it was “fun.” The real question is, “was it wise?” Also, who is the voice of reason before these “fun” episodes.

      James, if you are aligning yourself to be good friend of those who also lead large flocks, did you ever stop to think if this support (no matter how small) was this ever going to become a good example to anyone – a thoughtful man would have concluded…it wouldn’t. Mark Driscoll could have went alone, but you went. Why…because it was fun though! If this is your circle, then my concerns from the beginning have not changed. Who helps turn on the “not fun” light and shed it towards your actions? You do not seem to have a good, solid group around you, or this group needs to step it up, or these men are not the right group for you. More than this is that you actually needs watch dog group for something this elementary.

      Recently campus letters came out asking for our opinions on changing the constitution and limiting the number of elders that can hold Pastor James “more accountable”. What would the larger group of elders think about this “fun” action? Would they think it was fun too? If so, then can I float something by you that might also be “fun”? Say a friend of mine decided he disagreed with you and wanted to have some “fun” and disrupt or make a scene at some event of service of yours, what should I do? Should I advise against it? If I thought it was “fun” should I go with him, even if I did nothing? How would you respond to this? Fun is fun after all! The funny thing is this is elementary, which is why I am wondering about your character.

      At some point James, you need to align the your “freedoms” with good sense. If it was common sense then it would be common.

      • Despeville says:

        As I said here before there is a great lesson for all shepherds and all sheep in sad götterdämmerung of James MacDonald that is being executed right before the eyes of all American Church. We all better pay attention and learn from it for there is more to come.

    • Alan F says:

      Wow, what a complete hypocrite JM is. At his ER2 debacle, numerous folks who had paid to attend were denied entry, simply because JM’s goons/henchmen knew they didn’t agree with the nonsense that was to be uttered at the event. Now, JM and MD are whining because they got caught crashing a conference. Pot, meet kettle. What a couple of circus clowns JM and MD are.

  17. Why It Matters says:

    Well, this certainly ups the ante.

  18. Outcry for the sheep... says:

    Harvest Bible Chapel Ministry Leaders, Campus Pastors,

    I know you… I have served with many of you, worked with you. You love the flock. You toil, sacrifice, and serve the people. Please will you come together and protect the sheep from this madness? I know there are some of you that are torn by all of this and burdened greatly and The Lord is tugging at your heart because as this madness continues to unfold publically and internally you have no peace. You are torn because you have a sense of loyalty/protection toward your pastor but the sheep need you! These events are posted here and many want to view this blog as THE problem… Disgruntled people. This blog is merely exposing actions, bringing them to light. The responsibility is falling on you for action. I am one of those lowly sheep who had to leave because i witnessed the abuse of power closeup, even witnessed abuse against you on occasion. But I was powerless to bring change. It grieves me to watch what used to be my church home, the bride of Jesus Christ dragged through the dirt by the actions of James and blind Elders and Executive staff around him.

    Please I appeal to you… Come together and take a stand. Don’t ignore the stirring any longer. God will protect you. Protect the sheep! They need you.

    • anonymous says:

      Outcry for the Sheep,

      It just isn’t going to happen. I posted an emotional appeal much like yours a few weeks ago. Concerns have been raised locally, meeting have taken place. It is now very clear to me where our pastor and other HBC pastor’s loyalty lies. These men were trained by JMac, they are tied by steel bands to the mother ship, they love JMac, they support him. The blindness is unbelievable and maddening.

      • cindycurtis says:

        Nevertheless much good is happening. Families are leaving the HBC business organization and finding their way into authentic churches with real pastors who know them personally and care for them.

  19. Eric Miller says:

    I am a Senior Pastor of a church of several hundred in central Pa. I have been in ministry for 10 years, having left a job where I made much more money when I felt like I could not ignore the call I felt I was receiving from the Lord. Although I am ashamed to say it now, my two greatest concerns when it came to resigning my previous job, entering ministry and pursuing a third ministry-related degree were: (1) What about the money I’ll no longer make, and (2) What about my retirement?

    Fortunately, God led me past these things and I have no regrets. When I entered ministry full-time, I immediately began to look for individuals who seemed to have solid theology and a desire to make the Gospel of Jesus (and not themselves) known. Pastor McDonald quickly became a favorite of mine.

    After the Elephant Room 2, I e-mailed HBC and let them know that for those such as myself who had placed confidence in the spiritual maturity of leaders like Pastor McDonald a real dilemma was being created. Suddenly, theology and individuals that didn’t seem to comport with God’s Word were being defended and promoted. And having held his preaching and exegesis up (and having used his curriculum for Bible Study) I felt I was now put in a place of having to make qualifications and clarifications that were disheartening and disappointing. To their credit, a pastor no longer on staff at HBC called me and let me share my concerns, which I did directly. Unfortunately, not only did nothing change, but a few days after my call I saw, perhaps, the most blatant abuse of playing the ‘race card’ I have ever witnessed in my 46 years of life in order to seek to quell concerns about ER2.

    Since then I must say I have only grown more disappointed and, quite frankly, angry at the arrogance, dismissiveness and poor model of public demeanor I have seen from the majority of HBC leadership (that a group of Christian Elders would ever create a video like that which appeared a few weeks back is beyond comprehension).It seems, being a celebrity, having lots of people, maintaining a brand, and staying culturally relevant are all more important than humbly proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ. I have held off on writing praying that a change in course might take place. Seeing what happened at the Strange Fire Conference yesterday has, quite frankly, taken me to the point of disgust and embarrassment that such actions (of Pastors Driscoll and McDonald) in any way represent what I stand for as a Minister of Jesus Christ (I find this particularly appalling since a few years back Pastor McDonald threatened at least two bloggers with arrest and refused to let them remain on church property because he knew they would most likely blog negatively about Elephant Room 2 – Chris Roseborough, Erin Benzinger).

    I know those at HBC most likely follow this site – this will be the only time I write publicly, but I am writing to you. Please don’t think there aren’t those in ministry out here who look at some of your actions and despair for how it represents the kingdom of God. I am by no means perfect, have stumbled and sinned and, I am certain, will do so again. I don’t write this to criticize lack of perfection – I write it to call out to repentance a seemingly complete lack of humility and to say publicly that I pray you’ll pause (Pastor McDonald, Elders, Staff), go before the Lord and seek His will vs. yours.

    Having been very successful in my previous career and having been blessed by God as an athlete to do well on several levels, including having the privilege of representing the USA at times, I felt I would struggle with my own pride upon entering a vocation and seemingly starting all over again in my mid-30′s. Watching what ‘celebrity’ seems to do with many ministries (not all for sure) that God initially seems to bless, however, leads me to pray to the Lord that his aspirations and motivations, whatever they might be for how I am used by Him would prevail always – regardless of how ‘successful’ I feel others might measure my efforts as being.
    * Eric Miller, Senior Pastor, Bloomsburg Christian Church, ericbcc@evenlink.com.

    • Sharon V says:

      Thank you Pastor Miller for having the courage to speak the truth! I no longer consider Harvest Bible Chapel my church. The last service I attended, which was the final straw, was the one you spoke of with the video of the elders trying to destroy three Godly men, who had served HBC for many years, all because they had real concerns regarding James McDonald’s leadership. I pray that God exposes the real James McDonald that the elders, staff, and others that have left HBC have witnessed first hand!

    • James 4:7 says:

      Thanks, Pastor Miller. It is great to see pastors who actually understand that many mega-church pastors have become a stain on the Bride and a stench in God’s nostrils. Unfortunately, some of the young pastors have had their heads turned and they are aiming at becoming the next *fill-in-the-blank-with-a-celebrity-pastor-of-your-choice* :-(

  20. job3627 says:

    What ridiculous buffoonery from men who are supposed to be modeling the Christian life for us.

  21. isaiah26and3 says:

    This is so sad. I’ve always been a fan of Jerry Jenkins.

  22. Concerned for the Church says:

    To James and Jerry,

    I am in ministry. I am neither poor nor rich. I am blessed in so many areas from a worlds perspective. I am blessed from an American perspective too. I am called as a servant to those we lead.

    I land on grace sooner than law. I am all about liberty. I Corinthians 10:23, All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.

    I also know that I am called to live above reproach and to be concerned for the weaker brother or sister falling. I know that everything I have belongs to the Lord, not to me. I am not 100% in remembering that all of the time, but I know who I am accountable to when this earthly life is over.

    You both lead. You both flaunt ‘your freedom’. You do not have servant hearts.

    Jerry in a quote taken from World Magazine you defended your gambling by sharing you were blessed with money. You also defended your gambling by stating that poker being a skill game. Take your skill and as another person shared, use skittles. Enjoy the game as you would a board game with your kids or grand kids. Your $8000 ‘chunk change’ is about 1/4th of years salary for many of those who work for you at MBI.

    MBI depends on people giving to sustain the ministry many who cannot fathom a leader ‘blowing’ $8,000 just because they have it. The widows, single moms, students and children your radio personalities encourage to give sacrificially do so based on the credibility that MBI has had in years past. Your behavior though is anything but sacrificial. Choosing to gamble outside of your home town or Chicago or anyplace else to not ‘offend’ a donor or one who might know you tells me you ‘hide’ this activity.

    I know you do not ‘techniquely’ get an income from Moody but what would you say to one who says “I can’t give because I gambled and lost.” You have those in your sphere of influence. Ministries are dying because of lack of funds, you play with money they need. It is God’s money. I am not saying live a life of poverty, but use what God has blessed you with to serve HIM.

    James, you are no different. Your ‘bad boy’ I can play on my own terms attitude and do not challenge me on my behavior, is going to bring you down. Your childish behavior of crashing the Sacred Fire conference as you thumb your nose at other leaders is reprehensible for a man in your position.

    I have friends who have come to know the Lord through the ministry of HBC. Their salvation is not your doing, it is that of the Holy Spirit but you are the leader and when you fall you will pull many with you.

    I went to bed last night ready to ‘puke’. You both have gone the way of the world and done ‘what is right in your eyes’. Your play is all about you, not for the betterment of the church. Spin your actions so you can continue flaunting your freedoms but know that a day of reckoning will come.

    I am, with fear and trembling asking God to clean up the church. I close stating that I am praying for you. The church, Moody Bible Institute and HBC does not need any more fodder for the world to mock us.

    • Scott Thompson says:

      Doesn’t Paul paint a similar picture in Romans 14?
      Just cuz you can does not mean you should; first consider your standing before The LORD and then in view of your brother (sister). Or am I missing the broad side of the barn?

    • Despeville says:

      @Concerned and others,

      Very discerning and true words. Indeed, the very recent inflammatory actions of MacDonald and Driscoll at the Christian Conference point clearly to another turn in the downward spiral of God’s discipline and purging being done over them and all those who have same errors and lies to live by. They are some here who doubt that still even though they know what evil is lurking under these men. As if it was not so visible through God’s Word and so many times that when He punishes rebellious men He actually takes their minds away rendering them even more foolish and beast like than they were before He started with them. Do observe this principle below so many times presented in the Word of God:

      “The king uttered these words: “Is this not the great Babylon that I have built for a royal residence by my own mighty strength and for my majestic honor?” While these words were still on the king’s lips, a voice came down from heaven: “It is hereby announced to you, King Nebuchadnezzar, that your kingdom has been removed from you! You will be driven from human society, and you will live with the wild animals. You will be fed grass like oxen, and seven periods of time will pass by for you before you understand that the Most High is ruler over human kingdoms and gives them to whomever he wishes.”

      Daniel 4:30-32 NET

    • disgusted says:

      Let me get this straight. Jerry Jenkins, Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, declares “So to break even making $8,000 playing poker, it’s kind of pocket change for me.” Pocket change. Is this the type of leader that Moody wants as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Just friggin mind numbing.

    • HBC Davenport says:

      Excessive salary for the senior pastor is the HBC way. It seems that the 1 Timothy 5:17 wording “worthy of double honor” is used as justification for that position receiving at least double the salary of others. And when total staff compensation is more than 50% of a $4 million+ annual budget…and you start counting the number of staff…well, you can do the math.

      • Julie says:

        Do you have evidence that half of the budget goes to salaries? Is this a fact for all HBC churches, including the large campuses, like Elgin and Rolling Meadows?

        • HBC Davenport says:

          It was presented as a part of a sermon entitled Principles of Charitable Giving, based out of 1 Corinthians 16:1-4, on June 2nd and 3rd 2012. Numbers were only shown on the screen in pie chart format, nothing provided in writing. From the video here’s the breakdown: 52% Salaries; 14% Facilities; 12.3% Outreach; 9% Ministry; 7% Savings (Build-out); 5.4% Office Expenses. Here is the video URL: http://vimeo.com/43411799, start watching at about 42 minutes. You will see that salaries are combined with ministry for 61.3% of the pie because “salaries are ministry”.

        • Ward says:

          Salaries make up 72% of our budget at our Harvest Church. That only covers the salaries of our 2 Pastors.

  23. Barry Slabaugh says:

    Ironic — the view of the chairman of Moody’s Board of Trustees. Historically, Dwight L Moody (1837-1899), Moody Bible Institute, and Moody Church have all seen gambling not as a liberty, but as a snare — something to be saved from.

    “May we go to the homes of the poor drunkards; may we go to the homes and hearts of gamblers, the homes of the fallen, the despised and the outcast, and tell them of Christ and heaven. O Spirit of God! Come down upon this assembly, and may the Church of God find out who their neighbors are. And, O God, we pray thee that they may be filled with the Spirit of Christ, and that they may go and tell others the story of the cross. And, O God, we pray thee that hundreds and thousands in this city may be working to win souls to Christ.”

    (Excerpt from one of Moody’s prayers, as recorded in “The Gospel Awakenings, Sermons and Addresses, Prayer Meeting Talks and Bible Readings of the Great Revival Meetings Conducted by Moody and Sankey,” pp.721-733. Published in 1885)

    Pastor of Chicago’s Moody Church for 33 years, Erwin Lutzer says, “Gambling can capture the heart of anyone… Many people who thought they would never be snared by this lure are secretly coping with this curse… Years ago the church took a stand against gambling; today we hear nary a word. I cannot paint the picture too bleak: just ask the children whose parents have divorced because of gambling losses; just ask the child whose mother spends a hundred dollars a week on lottery tickets rather than buying clothes or food. In a word, gambling destroys families.”
    (Erwin Lutzer, Seven Snares of the Enemy: Breaking Free From the Devil’s Grip (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2001) p. 46

    • Scott Thompson says:

      Excellent references Sir!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Barry for sharing these quotes.

    • Despeville says:

      Yet Erwin Lutzer is strangely silent about all of this. Even more importantly he was completely silent when senior pastor of major Chicagoland Church welcomed and proclaimed known antitrinitarian modalist heretic and prosperity scam wolf TD Jakes…

      • Marie says:

        The recent actions of these very immature men is most dishonouring to our Lord!! ‘Act Like Men’, what a joke!! Wake up Harvest Bible Chapels everywhere. How can you possibly council those in your Recovery groups, when your own head leader needs to enrol himself in the program. Many people (James and Jerry) who have an addiction (which gambling can become), deny that they have the problem. You got caught now get help…

      • Alan F says:

        Great point. So sad that Erwin Lutzer and Paul Nyquist (President of MBI) are basically forced to remain silent and not say a word. Sad, sad times are these.

  24. Ric says:

    James MacDonald “claimed” he stayed in his car… but thats clearly not true is it? https://twitter.com/austintduncan/status/391277631737323520/photo/1

  25. I’m very disappointed to hear this of Jerry Jenkins. Perhaps Jerry should step down from Moody as it would tarnish it’s reputation. When the gambling issue was raised in connection with James Macdonald, I shared my concern with someone very close to Pastor James at Harvest. He told me that James and the elders took his poker table out and burnt it in the back yard. I give James allot of credit for doing what he did. It would be nice if Jerry follows in the same footsteps.

    • Joe says:

      He burnt his poker table in the back of his Inverness house??? I would think it highly unlikely since it is against the Inverness subdivision rules to have an outside burn. These are multi-million dollar mansions – so MacDonald’s neighbors would be none to pleased. Don’t automatically believe what your Elder’s tell you.

  26. Former Attendee says:

    My comment is not about Jenkins and JMac playing cards, but I would love some dialogue on this:

    I find it absurd that Christians put money into stocks and mutual funds they know little to nothing about — many of which are laden with companies that are purveyors of pornography, weaponry, alcohol, etc — while having a problem with a poker game.

    I wholeheartedly believe that putting your money in mutual funds is gambling. Yet everyone does it. Do not others lose when you gain in the stock market? When companies perform hostile takeovers, is it not injurious toward many people?

    Is there really a difference in poker playing and stock playing? Both involve skill and chance. Is it that one is more seedy looking than the other at face value?

    • You raise an interesting question, however, the gambling issue only raise two relevant points for purposes of this blog. First, hypocrisy. James, as we posted in an earlier update, preached an very intense and strong message against gambling and casinos, and then began to go to casinos to gamble significant sums of money. This points to a character issues. Second, the love of money. We have used various stories surrounding finances to tell a story about character; the finances are not, in and of themselves, the story. The love of money is one of the characteristics that, according to scripture, should not be found among the elders.

      • Former Attendee says:

        No arguments there. I also thought this statement from Jenkins about no longer playing in Hammond was odd: “It’s too close to Chicago. I serve on the board of Moody, so I wouldn’t want to cause any embarrassment to anybody if they had a problem with that. … I live in Colorado, so if I play it’s outside the Midwest.”

        • Fred says:

          Sad thing is, is that James did not have even that much discernment because Hammond was his place to go.

    • James 4:7 says:

      You don’t really understand investing and the history of it. Perhaps you mistake what is going on in the financial markets for investing. Unfortunately, Wall Street IS often being run like a giant gambling casino these days–BUT that is not the original intent. It really was designed to provide capital for businesses–much more staid and boring than gambling. That is real investing and it pays returns to the stockholders who take a share of ownership for their provision of the fresh capital. It was NEVER intended to be a “game of chance” or “shearing the sheep”.

      • One of the wounded says:

        I completely agree that Wall Street investing and gambling are not equivalent. I would say no where near! I have often heard this argument to divert people off the subject of gambling or somehow justify it. Many have their 401k as part of their retirement plan which has mutual funds. When you buy stock you are buying a share/stake into a real company. There are many many investors who do their homework and determine if a company is worthy of their investment money. But this as TED has mentioned is not the topic of discussion here for this blog. There is so much more here and it is important to stay on topic. If people come to this blog, they should look at the mountain of problems that point to real character issues and the breakdown of leaders in The Lord house. Each blog post points to a different problem/action leading to the same core issues.Some of the witness of conversations and abuse, actual words spoken in elder boad meetings, hard evidence through documentation, photos, videos, etc. And even though there are “professed” changes and accountability measures in defense of James by leaders, the madness continues. All the accountability in the world will do nothing for someone who doesn’t want it or is prideful enough to think they don’t it need. Fine men have tried for YEARS to keep James accountable. Is this what a biblical pastor/shepherd of the sheep looks like? Come On! When will this end!! WOW!

        • Chris says:

          “When you buy stock you are buying a share/stake into a real company.” — So? Let’s take Google stock (GOOG). It is trading for $1,000 a share, but has never paid a dividend. Not even once. So if you buy Google stock, your sole hope for return on investment is capital gains. And where will those capital gains come from? From other buying it as well and driving up the price. Sure sounds like the “pot” during a poker game to me.

          Oh, and the price can go down, of course. Way down. At any time, for any reason. During the May 6th, 2010 “flash crash”, the shares of many “real companies”, such as Accenture and Exelon, went down to $0.01 in price. That’s right, a penny. (“fold” in gambling parlance.) Oh, and other names like Apple and HP went up to over $100,000. I guess that’s like seeing 7-7-7 come up on the slot machine.

          “Investing” in single-name stocks that pay no dividends == gambling. Plain and simple.

    • MJ says:

      I had typed a pithy response that disappeared, so I will simply say this. Gambling is a game of chance predicated on taking advantage of those with less skill and ability and the odds are almost always against the gambler. Most often it affects the less educated and poorest in society. Investing in the stock market and mutual funds specifically is not even close. In all market era’s investors have made a return if they invested for the long term.

      It is a silly comparison, that almost doesn’t warrant a response.

      • Former Attendee says:

        Certainly it elicits a response, although perhaps not in this forum and perhaps from more of a deeper thinker than yourself.

        “In all market era’s (sic) investors have made a return if they invested for the long term.”

        Except for people that were instructed by “professionals” to over-invest in their company stock (like Enron), or all of the many mutual funds that have lost money over an extended period of time.

        I’m not saying gambling is preferable to stocks/funds. My initial statement was that millions of Americans invest in these funds and 401ks and have no idea what they are doing. They are gambling.

        • Canadian says:

          Sorry you are wrong. When you buy stocks you are buying part of the company, granted there is a risk, but you own part of the company. When you gamble you are simply taking a chance, will you get the right cards and in the case of poker can you out bluff everyone else at the table.

  27. Julie says:

    In my opinion, the gambling points to the issue of James’s excessive salary. For many, making loads of money seems to open up a whole new set of problems and addictions. Just look at the celebrities on tv and in magazines.

    I am not as sure as some are here that gambling itself is sinful, although I think it is foolish. I do, however, believe that encouraging a barely middle class population to give sacrificially, then taking that money and frittering it away is very wrong. Think about it. These families are taking on extra jobs, giving up their morning coffee, refusing to buy new clothes, etc; all because they want to have a role in buiilding God’s Kingdom. They believe these elders are carefully stewarding their offerings.

    I believe with all my heart that the Jesus of the bible would have a huge problem with this, based on Matthew 21 (and the character of Jesus in all of the gospels). When churches, who are supposed to point people toward Christ, deceive people and take their money, this is a great sin. When church leaders behave in ways that even the world would see as terribly wrong, the church is pointing people away from itself.

    • SendSFL says:

      Harvest use to have a saying; “A pastor should make enough money that he does not have to worry about money but no so much money that he does not have to worry about money.”

      I am not sure the heart of that statement was to blow your money (you don’t have to worry about) on such a unwise thing as gambling.

  28. SLIMJIM says:

    Gamblers…sad to see Jenkins’ reasoning…he only gamble when the stakes is high and there’s alot of money in it…is that an excuse? My.

  29. Pastor Paul Holden, Canada says:

    As for the attempted hijacking of the Strange Fire conference by Driscoll and MacDonald, they have officially disqualified themselves from ministry and are more than worthy of public discipline by their leaderships. If I was Greg Laurie and Matt Chandler, I would have pulled out of the “Don’t Act Like Men” exhibition.

    I have been wanting to post this statement from Xenos Christian Fellowship for a few days now regarding the financial position of Pastor/Elder which is now more fitting with both of today’s updates.

    Some of the elders at Xenos work full-time for the church, some part time, and others in secular careers. But they have all agreed to limit their incomes and assets, whether from the church or from other sources, including spouses’ incomes. Our reason? First, we believe materialistic avarice is the curse of American society, often including the American church. As elders, we want to set an example for the church that says we can live at the need level, not at the greed level. Notice Paul did this by working hard and living simple in Thessalonica. “We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow.” (2 Thess. 3:9)

    The level to which elders’ incomes are limited is very comfortable so this is hardly asceticism!

    We also observe that many churches are controlled by the wealthy, and are insensitive to the poor and even to students. When wealthy people get the church to commit to expensive options, the church ends up in debt and even more beholden to the wealthy.

    For a number of reasons, we feel it’s good for elders to live at an income level similar to, or below most of our membership. Wealth can easily develop into an attraction that competes with the Lord for our attention. We want only elders who would gladly disown their wealth in order to have the opportunity to serve God. Those who refuse to divest themselves may be signaling a problem. We want our elders to have their attention focused on spiritual matters, not on the playthings of the wealthy.

    Not only elders’ incomes, but also their assets, come under scrutiny. In American culture, it is not unusual for adults to receive an inheritance from a wealthy relative that could unbalance their lives. A man or woman who hardly thought about money before, may become fascinated by money after receiving a million dollar inheritance. Therefore, we call on elders to disclose their assets, and if they are excessive (beyond a home and some modest savings or retirement), we agree to divest ourselves of the excess.

    Although we feel our policy on this matter is somewhat soft, we think it is in general harmony with 2 Tim. 2:3,4, where Paul urges Timothy, “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.”

    On more than one occasion, the elders’ limited income and assets have served to dissuade would-be elders from joining the board.

    • Mary says:

      Excellent, excellent protocol for Xenos. Truly excellent system – allows for self-selection out of Elder consideration, while providing a boundary for active Elders within which to live.

      Truly excellent protocol.

    • SH says:

      thought provoking and convicting.

    • Scott Thompson says:

      Those are some very good points Paul, thank you for sharing those.

    • Alan F says:

      You’re totally kidding yourself if you think Laurie and Chandler are going to dis-associate themselves from JM and MD. Why on Earth would they? Those two clowns are their heroes?

  30. Scott Thompson says:

    This is really much simpler than these: “its not in there”, “it does not specifically say…”, “The Bible does not say one way or the other that…” responses. It is called The Gospel Test.
    The way in which we address topics which are not expressly forbidden or approved of in Scripture is to square our behavior with The Gospel. We expose our hearts to Truth, test all things, hold fast what is good, (I Th. 5:21) and live for Christ. (Php. 1:21)
    These are discipleship questions.
    We all need to ask ourselves:
    1. Does it honor Christ as Lord?
    How does this glorify God?
    2. Does it increase my fight against sin?
    3. Does it increase my love and praise for my Savior?
    Is this action pleasing to my Savior?
    4. Will others love and praise my Savior because of my behavior?
    Does this choice draw others closer to Christ?
    5. Does it strengthen my faith?
    6. Will this strengthen and build my witness?
    7. Will this affirm my sanctification?
    (Putting off the old man/Putting on the new man)
    8. Am I serving God, others, or myself?
    9. Who or what has the final say in my life?
    The answer to the last question will determine the ultimate Truth or truth in our lives.
    I believe these types of questions will quickly discern for the hearts and minds of the believer whether a chosen or considered action was/is “right” or “wrong”.
    I find it interesting that those who would be our teachers are the same who are angling to justify, downplay, and excuse such activities.
    Reminds me of Nicodemus in his conversation with Jesus. (John 3:10)

    http://theorchardefc.org/barrington/sermons-resources/sermons/view-sermon/?sermon_id=5519

    **A recent message that ends on these exact questions & behaviors.

  31. Pebbles says:

    The love of money and quest for fame seem to go hand in hand with some church “LEADERS”.

    After reading numerous accounts of Mark Driscoll crashing the Strange Fire Conference (hosted by John MacArthur) earlier today, along with sidekick JMac in California, on the way to the Act Like Men conference of all things, nothing should surprise anyone anymore. (http://www.donotbesurprised.com/2013/10/acting-like-men-mark-driscoll-crashes.html)

    However, the sadness and disappointment are hard to shake.

    • Epaenetus says:

      Did the HBC Elders approve this action for JMac to crash the conference and shamelessly pass out Mark Driscoll’s book? How does he explain his actions to the church? or even how this glorifies God? I don’t think this situation is funny..but Jmac obviously thinks it is from the twitter pic sent by @austinduncan. REALLY? They may ACT like men, but in God’s book, are they?

      • James will not see any contributions from me anymore says:

        The “HBC Elders” aka “James’ yes men” don’t get a say in what James does. They are there just for show, and to get thrown under the bus when James needs a scapegoat. James calls the shots, nobody who questions him is allowed to stay at Harvest.

        • anonymous says:

          Yeah I find it funny that after the bobblehead video ANYONE would think that a HBC elder has ANY say in ANYTHING that happens there. Maybe on mundane day to day matters but by now we who keep up on the blogs know who runs the show. The last 10 years have just been a “weeding out” process of the men who wouldn’t say “yes”.

  32. Joe says:

    It’s pretty typical of gamblers, brag about your winnings but down play the losses. Looks like his son Dallas is still playing. Would love to have a photo of MacDonald’s basement to see if the gambling tables are still there and if there is any dust on ‘em.

  33. Greg T says:

    Looking over the station list for World Magazine’s radio show “The World and Everything In It”, I have found one Moody affiliate that carries the show (Selma AL 91.1), there are probably more. This could get interesting.

    http://www.worldmag.com/podcast/worldandeverything/stations.php

    http://www.moodyradio.org/ Click on the stations tab

  34. Despeville says:

    “I don’t play for what I would consider significant amounts of money. And I wouldn’t gamble, either. I mean, I don’t play slots,” he said. “I consider poker a skill game.”
    ~ Jerry Jenkins

    Well this is just precious. Remind me so much of Clintonesque semantic games… Just to think that this guy influenced so many millions with his fiction on eschatology.

  35. Sick and Tired of the cesspool in high places says:

    Dwight L. Moody must be spinning in his grave like a slot machine.

    • Cami says:

      I totally agree about ‘cesspool in high places’, Don’t we have enough stench in our government without it spilling over to our churches? I feel very betrayed by all of this. I thought I found a church, Harvest, that I would continue to go to, but now, I can’t be going to a church with a pastor who covers up his dirty deeds. I cant see myself sitting there listening to james McDonald preach. I’m going to other churchs to find what I need to grow as a Christian.

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