Readers raise new concerns regarding two staff members and their alleged involvement with gambling. One photo is identified. Is Harvest’s theology of gambling changing?

Yesterday afternoon, The Elephant’s Debt released an update pertaining to questions that readers had raised about James MacDonald and rumors of gambling.  Since that time, several readers have offered their thoughts regarding the pictures that were posted in the original update.  What’s more, at least one reader has put forth a new line of questions regarding another senior member of the Harvest staff and the practice of gambling.

Please click to enlarge the photo.

Regarding the identity of the individual in the photo to the right, one reader identified this person as using the twitter handle @pocketdueces.  A Google search under that name has likely provided photographic confirmation of the individual in question.  Without being certain, it appears that the man in the photo is Jesse Rockowitz, a professional online gambling personality, who has won the World Series of Poker Tournament in 2010.  According to, Mr. Rockowitz travels the world as a gambler; and has lifetime earnings of $930,648.

Additionally, in the comment section of yesterday’s update, a reader directed our attention to the Global Poker Index website, which lists Frederick Adams of South Elgin, IL on its roster.  According to GPI, Mr. Adams has lifetime earnings of $36,920.  A further review of reveals the same Frederick Adams, with a total earnings of $39,665.  Of the five tournaments that Mr. Adams attended, four took place in northwest Indiana, with the most recent event occurring in July 2012.  Furthermore, a review of reveals two listings under the name Fred Adams in South Elgin, Illinois.  One of these listings is for Fred Adams, the CFO of Harvest Bible Chapel.  While this does not conclusively prove anything, it does at least validate the questions raised by numerous church members regarding issues pertaining to gambling.

Now, as of 30 minutes ago, The Elephant’s Debt has been advised to look into Dallas Jenkins, the Director of Media for Harvest Bible Chapel.  According to the internetmoviedatabase, and according to Jenkin’s own blog site,  Dallas Jenkins “is an avid poker player and has several tournament results listed online.”  According to, the only listing for Dallas Jenkins suggests that Mr. Jenkins has lifetime earnings of $58,961.  It must be stated that the page does not link directly to the site, which means that this is not conclusive evidence that this is the same Dallas Jenkins.  This merely serves to raise the question as to whether a culture of gambling exists at Harvest.

Members of Harvest Bible Chapel must also ask their elders and senior pastors whether their position regarding gambling has changed since James MacDonald taught the following message entitled: “Three Enemies of Triumph Over Treasure – Part 1.” To access the sermon, please click on the following link or simply read the transcription below.


Did you know that 90 million Americans go to casinos every year.  They spend $300 billion on gambling. That’s 1/3 more than we spend on education.  That’s 4 times the amount given to religious institutions.

Why, why why all the gambling?  Dishonest gain.  Trying to make money and looking for an easy way.  A shortcut.  Now, gambling and lotteries to get rich quick is dishonest.  Ephesians 4:28  says, “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labour, working with his hands, the thing that is good.”

The biblical way to gain income, tell me, is to what?  Work! Just go work!  Just roll up your sleeves or focus your mind or get out there and make something or sell something or do something.  That’s honoring to God, and earning your income through hard work . . . it’s right.  And it’s honoring to God.  And little sneaky short-cut-things and “we’ll buy a few tickets here at the gas station and maybe we’ll get lucky.”  The way to gain wealth is through work, and anything else, biblically speaking, is dishonest gain.

To be clear, the Bible does not explicitly condemn the practice of gambling.  However, it does warn us not to be tempted by a love of money (1 Tim 6:10; Heb 13:5) and it likewise warns us not to attempt to get rich quickly (Prov 13:11, 23:5).  Given the seedy context that surrounds professional gambling, and given gambling’s highly addictive nature, most Christians have historically interpreted gambling to be an unwise use of money, which in turn raises the issue of of being above reproach.

So, in conclusion, three questions remain:

Please click to enlarge the photo.

(1) When and where were these pictures taken?

(2) Who is the individual standing next to MacDonald in this photo to the right that was originally posted in the November 6th update?

(3) Is the Fred Adams listed on the Fred Adams who serves as the CFO of Harvest Bible Chapel?

* * * * * * * * * * *

In raising these concerns, it must be noted that we are not suggesting that we are faultless on similar issues.  In the past, both authors have participated in no more than half a dozen small poker games amongst friends, where the buy-in ranged between $5 and $20 dollars.  At the time, we justified our participation in these games by arguing that this money would be the same as that which we would spend grabbing dinner and movie.  Since that time, both authors have reached the conclusion that while fun, these games could raise questions in the minds of others who had stronger convictions on this matter.  Therefore, to avoid falling into sinful patterns of behavior and to avoid even the appearance of evil, both authors quickly ended their affiliation with this increasingly popular past time.

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127 Responses to Readers raise new concerns regarding two staff members and their alleged involvement with gambling. One photo is identified. Is Harvest’s theology of gambling changing?

  1. Peaches says:

    We need to expose this to the church because it will only lead to our youth leaving the church.

  2. T.E.D. says:

    I realize that there are countless people who are reading this right now, at all different levels, of this self-destruction of one man, which didn’t happen overnight. There are people who have suffered years of spiritual abuse (which I have heard numerous stories personally from close friends) to the one who are just starting to learn about the tragic direction this church is being led -to the church leaders (including elders and campus pastors) and to the ones who are listed in “The Void.” Believe me, they are all reading.

    Many believe here and have stated, whether the issue is about tattoos, debt, or gambling – these are just symptoms of a deeper problem of pride, selfish desires, and arrogance which ultimately is rooted in sin. As we continue to read more personal experiences and hear more testimonies, we will find them similar to what we have gone through ourselves and feel the same frustration.

    I can write a similar story in length as the Richardsons have done, but thought about how unfruitful that would be at this time. I am very thankful though, for the courage the Richardsons had displayed in sharing their testimony not only to the public, but specifically to the HBC family.

    My red flags started when Elephant Room 1 took place. Another red flag went up when Mark Driscoll was invited and took the pulpit at HBC. The next red flag (which was a big one) went up when Steven Furtick was invited to speak. Then the snowball effect started to happen – Elephant Room 2, TD Jakes, the debt, etc.

    When our family started attending HBC-RM in 2004, we wanted, as the rest of you did for your families, not only for our faith to increase, but for our kids too. Our expectations for our kids would be that their walk would be far stronger than their parents. Until there was big concern brought up related to the Elephant Room –

    During my season as a flock leader, I was increasingly instructed to respond to my small group leaders in a specific manner which made me uncomfortable to defend James MacDonald’s behavior. At this time, not only was I concerned for my own worship to the Lord, but (if you read the open letter above) our kids as well.

    We stopped tithing in October 2011 after the very offensive display James MacDonald, Mark Driscoll, and T.D. Jakes during their so called “question/answer session”. James MacDonald’s behavior and the loyalty displayed to him by pastors, staff, and elders who has forsaken the counsel of God’s Word and has become a distraction to my worship to God. Our family left Harvest Bible Chapel altogether in 2012, but not without any emotional scars. This made really think and say to my family, “Is this how Christ’s bride should look like?”

    James 4:17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

    The verse above is not directed to James MacDonald or the elders of the church, it is for me – it is for you, so we can be held blameless in our walk together. That is why I decided to share and write on this blog after prayerfully considering the effect it would have. When we are praying for James MacDonald and the elders of HBC, I believe God is already answering prayer so that He may receive all the Glory – maybe not in a manner that we expect. HBC family, please continue to voice your concerns to your leaders and pastors. Always approach it in a biblical manner. If ever a time comes when Pastor James comes to genuine repentance, forgive without hesitation.

    So much more can be said, but I believe my points have been conveyed clearly enough. Thank you to Mr. Scott Bryant and Mr. Ryan Mahoney.

    • T.E.D. says:

      Forgive my error. We stop tithing after Steven Furtick spoke at Harvest Bible Chapel in October 2011. Our family left after Elephant Room 2 in 2012. Sorry for the confusion.

  3. Jeff and Debbie Richardson says:

    We understand the pain and anger many of you are experiencing, and would like to suggest this list of books that may help with recovery and restoration: Resources for Post-HBC Healing
    • For Questions concerning Abusive, Manipulation, Deception:

    1. “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse”
     Recognizing & Escaping Spiritual Manipulation and False Spiritual Authority within the Church
    • by David Johnson & Jeff Van Vonderen

    2. “Toxic Churches”
     Restoration from Spiritual Abuse
    • By Marc A. Dupont

    3. “Healing Spiritual Abuse”
     How to Break Free From Bad Church Experiences
    • By Ken Blue

    4. “Moving Beyond Church Growth”
     An Alternative vision for Congregations
    • By Mark A. Olson

    • Concerning Church Leadership, Shepherding and Eldership:

    5. “Brothers We Are Not Professionals”
     A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry
    • by John Piper

    6. “They Smell Like Sheep”
     Spiritual Leadership for the 21st Century
    • By Dr. Lynn Anderson

    7. “Shepherding the Church”
     Effective Spiritual Leadership in a Changing Culture
    • By Joseph M. Stowell

    8. “Biblical Eldership”
     An Urgent Call to Restore Biblical Church Leadership
    • By Alexander Strauch

    9. “The Master’s Plan for the Church”
     It is absolutely essential that a church perceive itself as an institution for the glory of God, and to do that, the local church must adhere unfalteringly to biblical leadership principles.
    • By John MacArthur

    • General Church Issues:

    10. “Stealing Sheep”
     The Church’s Hidden Problems with Transfer Growth
    • By William Chadwick

    11. “Real Prosperity”
     Biblical Principles of Material Possessions
    • By Gene A. Getz

  4. Grace says:

    My husband and I recently left Harvest RM we had been members for past 3 years. I had known about James mansion and had been skeptical joining the church due to this, it never made sense why a pastor would need this and the message it send to his flock . But nevertheless we gave him the benefit of the doubt since he always claimed all the money was made “outside of Harvest”. After we found this site and had no clue about the church debt till recently, we decided to leave and join a local church. In our leaving Harvest we tried contacting our campus pastor who never responded to my email regarding our concerns, then we sent an email withdrawing our membership to which the campus pastor replied ” he lost the orgirnal email” and that he was out of town and he “might” call of if he had time. My husband and I were both part of small groups, served in various ministries. I had served on the medical response team and my husband worked security. We tithed regularly, and yet we could not received a genuine answer or at least a phone call from our pastor and that will confirmed our beliefs it was best to leave. The flock at Harvest is simply not being cared for in the way the church was meant to be cared for.

    • Anonymous says:

      i too am saddened by the hypocrital amd unholy lifestyle and character of James MacDonald.Our family had been regularly attending,serving and tithing at Harvest for over one year. We can no longer worship there.I began to feel conviction after the elephant room and the conviction kept on getting stronger (the tattoo,the emergent type pastors he “hangs out”with,getting very upset at one sevice at people who might question whether Whitmey Houson was saved or not,Steven Furtick speaking at a service,)and then finding out about his gambling and the expensive home he lives in and the debt that has been incurred by Harvest I knew it was time to leave.Gods Word speaks on this type of worldliness and unholiness and to be a teacher of Gods Word and to not be repentful but arrogent instead speaks volumes on the nature of someones faith in the Lord Jesus. Woe to those who call evil good and good evil ! I think there are many people,new in their faith or ignorant of what is going on,who need to be told!!I feel so sad that Harvest is not a God glorifying pl

  5. Anonymous Member of HBC-RM says:

    I have another concern that I have not seen communicated on here yet. The elders, in their only statement on the HBC website, have said that they are paying the debt back quicker than required and have plans to have it paid back by a certain date (ahead of schedule).

    But, then we hear the statement: Numbers don’t matter.

    Well, is this contradictory? Can Pastor James preach the word without compromise for fear of losing attendees? Doesn’t Harvest need the weekly attendance (and thus weekly tithes) to remain high in order to pay off this large debt?

    I think a direct result of this debt is that Harvest must become careful about what is preached and thus will become more of a “seeker friendly” church.

    I always valued the fact that I felt (years ago) that Harvest delivered the word without compromise. I worry, that with this large debt, this will be forced to change. I hope I am wrong.

  6. Chris says:

    My husband and I were charter members of Harvest Bible Chapel. We knew James was a gifted preacher. However, outside of the pulpit, he seemed to have difficulty with sportsmanship, criticism and pride. We chalked it up to him being “young”. After catching him in a lie that was also being covered up by the associate pastor (Rick Donald) and James clearly disobeying the elder board of the church, being unrepentant,we had to leave. It hurts us to see our family and friends still at HBC and are complacent to leave and easily excuse James’s behavior. Just because a man has a large following doesn’t mean that the Pastor does not have a sin issue and in need of repentance. God’s word will never return void and God uses damaged vessels to accomplish his work. He uses Satan for his ultimate good. Woe to those who call good evil and evil good. I don’t know how a Pastor can sleep at night, in a 2 million dollar house while families are giving sacrificially in these difficult economic times. Some times actions speak louder than words. It’s very sad to watch the implosion.

  7. HMM says:

    Like so many other who have expressed their thoughts here, I too have had sleepless nights over these issues. I attended Harvest very briefly in late 1991 at Rolling Meadows high school, but didn’t fully join Harvest until 1999. Since then Harvest has been my church home. During the earlier years I experienced a lot of interactive time with James, much less over the more recent years as the church has grown. Though I’ve never served as a paid staff member of Harvest I have spent a lot of time working for Harvest, its members, and its pastors on a volunteer basis and as a freelance contractor from time to time. As one might imagine, I’ve come to know a lot of these issues to be true based on my own experience and time spent with church staff.
    Regarding Jame’s $2,00,000.00 house, I remember James telling us as a church body years ago, “It’s not a sin to have money, but it’s what you do with the money you’re given that matters.” In that same message he even poked fun of the big mansions in South Barrington and why anyone would ever need a house that large to live in. So I started asking myself why does James need to live in a $2,000,000.00 house? Could he live just as comfortably in a $1,000,000.00 house, or a $500,000 house? Before he moved to Inverness, he had a great house on a quiet cul-de-sac in Palatine that I had the chance to visit. The kind of house that was just as good, if not better, than most of the homes in the Palatine area. So when it was reported in the newspaper about James’ new multi-million dollar home purchase, that really irritated me to say the least. Was this a man who wasn’t practicing what he preached…a hypocrite? Still, I decided to get over my own feelings in this matter, and continue attending Harvest.
    In the matter of the debt, my main question is why does Harvest keep their spending under wraps? A friend of mine who attends Willowcreek told me if you walk up to the information counter at Williowcreek and ask for the church’s most recent financial records they have them right there to hand out to anyone. In fact, in just the last month their pastor had a kind of “family chat” about their church’s finances during that weekends service where the pastor went over all the financial liabilities, assets, income, etc. in great detail about their church. Why has something like this never happened at Harvest? If there is nothing to hide in Harvest’s financial records, then why are they kept so tightly under wraps? All we get is VERY general information at best. One thing to remember is that the church belongs to the members, and not to a few privileged people at the top.
    Finally, the issue of the casino photos. As a man, James has taught me and the other men of the church that you never want to put yourself in a position that might be innocent, but appears otherwise, such as being alone in the company of a woman that’s not a family member. I think that same truth should be realized with the photos. I don’t know if James gambled or not, but why he would EVER put himself in a casino for any reason is just beyond logic. On top of that to be photographed there and then post those pictures on his own Twitter page? This is just extremely poor judgment at best. And again, it makes him look hypocritical to his teachings. Also, James has (or had) a person by the name of Cecil that follows James wherever he goes to make sure he’s kept accountable. Where was Cecil when all of this was going on?
    The worst part of all of this is that James has yet to address all of these issues specifically. He made a generic response a few weeks ago, but his response, or lack of, only left more questions to be answered. Since then I’ve attended each service waiting for a detailed response by the end of the service from James, only to be disappointed week after week with only silence on the matter. If James would just immediately come clean about everything, repent publically where he has fallen short, and make changes so that all of these problems won’t ever happen in the future, I would be all forgiving. Because after all James is just like you and me, just a fallen person in need of a savior, but as a pastor he IS more accountable. However, the ongoing silence by James seems to be a prideful response. This silence has now caused my family members and friends leave the church bitter and angry. This silence has now caused me to stop giving to the 5G campaign and to stop tithing, instead to give my money to other Christian charities until the matter is cleared up. Personally, I’m waiting for a response by the end of the year and if nothing by then, I too shall be like the others who are leaving the church in droves. I pray that this will be the last weekend of silence on this matter by the church.

    • Lisa says:

      I had heard about their new house too years ago from a friend who attended at RM (and subsequently left). A big red flag. I could not attend or give to this church, not to mention the 5G campaign. It’s a total fleecing of the congregation, asking people at this time to stretch themselves, while James and his family sit in a very comfortable home. Sadly, I wonder how many families have stretched themselves for this church and the mom and/or dad in the home are as a result having to work more taking away precious time from the family, all to pay off a bunch of debt! Wake up people!

      • Terry says:

        We were this family until a couple of weeks ago. We were cutting expenses out of our monthly budget because we pledged to this campaign. I was going to get a part time job even with young kids at home because we were being asked to give beyond our tithes. When I found out about his mansion, his salary, and the debt, I was and still am angry. No more campaign giving for us. I was going to sacrifice my time and energy away from my family for this pastor and leaders who are not even honest with us. I wish there was legally a way to get back the pledge money we already gave this year.

        • Jackie Alfirevic, spiritual head of my household, responsible for 3 children, 20 years at HBC/RM says:

          Terry, I am so glad you found this out now! God does not want to tear you away from your family so that you can give more to HBC!! Your story only strengthens my resolve to make these issues known. This is one of the things I tried to express to more than one elder or pastor when I have stopped up at the front after service. I know that many families are seriously struggling financially. Pushing people and manipulating them to give is wrong on so many levels. Much worse when the way that money is spent is irresponsible and is kept hidden from the congregation. I believe that a public meeting should be held. So many people here have calmly, clearly stated very strong reasons for some action to be taken. So many people are waiting week after week, but just silence. I truly hope that more people stop giving because unfortunately, at Harvest, money talks. The elders will try to paint us as rebellious and as sowing discord. Do not allow them to make you feel that your concerns are not valid or that you are nonspiritual because you want some answers and some action!!! An update on a web site is COMPLETELY INSUFFICIENT for this situation. Terry, may I ask you how you found out about the debt? Was it through this web site? Are there many others that do not yet know because they have not visited the web site? Could there be another mother about to get a job so she can meet her “pledge” or “balance her account” with GOD??? All while not knowing that a good part of her tithe is servicing interest on debt??

        • Terry says:

          Jackie, I found out about the website from a friend at church and at first, I thought it was gossip. But the more I read and the pieces from the past started falling together, the more I wanted answers from leadership and stopped giving immediately. Quite honestly, us discontinuing our giving won’t make a difference. The amount of money we give monthly, which is A LOT for our family including the pledge amount, would barely cover what James pays in monthly mortgage and taxes. I felt manipulated into giving. We were very naive in believing this is all for God’s kingdom. Instead, we were giving to James’ kingdom. We are now giving our tithes to other Christian ministries. I still feel so deceived. But do they care? I doubt it. I’m just an insignificant small member of the church who was about to sacrifice time from my family to a celebrity pastor too concerned with his own wealth. His famous phrase “You are loved” falls on deaf ears. I’m sorry if I sound bitter right now. But even though I’m insignificant, I’m still a member of the church who has a right to full disclosure of the finances.

        • Jackie says:

          So then Terry, were you confused about James’ statement and the subsequent elder update? I already knew about this site when James made the statement, but I thought it was again manipulative not to explain to the many what the few of us already knew. I imagined many people being confused. I know at least one commenter here spoke of this confusion at hearing James’ statement. If you did not have a friend tell you about this site you would have been missing a large part of this story, correct?

        • Anonymous Member of HBC-RM says:

          Hi Terry. You are not alone and are not insignificant. My tithes also are rather small for a 500,000 weekly budget, but if everyone on here holds their tithes, they will be forced to do something. I am not saying to not give. I am choosing to give my tithes to a local church that we are considering going to if this situation is not resolved.

          The question is: How do we get more people to know about this problem. I still believe that 80 – 85% of the people in attendance have no idea what is going on. So, what do we do?

        • Terry says:

          Yes, if I didn’t know about this site, I would’ve continued to attend and give, completely clueless as to what is going on. I believe ALL members and active Harvest attendees have the right to know what is going on. They can then pray and discern what direction God is leading them in regards to Harvest. Some people can overlook the sin and flaws of the church and continue to serve there and support James. As for me, I am leaving and tithing to another church. Harvest is going to implode soon, if not already. How can James and the elders sleep at night? When I read the elders response a couple of weeks ago, I had no idea what they were talking about and basically ignored it. I believed that I can trust whatever issues they were referring to. I really pray that this can be resolved somehow.

        • Jackie Alfirevic, spiritual head of my household, responsible for 3 children, 20 years at HBC/RM says:

          To Anonymous Member of HBC-RM /November 11, 11:38:
          What can we do? Great question! What I have done is sent an email to each person in my address book that is HBC related telling them about this site. I also wrote each man on the void list requesting that they step forward with their story. I thanked each man willing to add their name or tell their story. I followed Bloodstained Ink with interest for a long time without signing my name. Now I have decided to come out of the shadows–it is not an easy thing to do. I have 2 girls still very involved at Harvest. I just felt that I was asking these men to stand behind their stories, I should be able to stand behind mine. I am ashamed to say this, but I have not linked my Facebook to this site because I am ashamed and do not want my family (unsaved) to know about what has happened at Harvest. They have been casting aspersions at James for many years, but I have tried to focus on Christ and the gospel with them. It pains me for this to come to light. I think that those of us willing should try to approach the elders en mass. Together we are stronger. They like to meet with you one on one. I would be absolutely willing to be part of a group.

        • Hi Terry. You are not alone!! And you are not insignificant!! God sees you and he cares for you!! He has helped you in this way by allowing you to have a fuller view of the story.
          You said, “Yes, if I didn’t know about this site, I would’ve continued to attend and give, completely clueless as to what is going on. I believe ALL members and active Harvest attendees have the right to know what is going on.” and “When I read the elders response a couple of weeks ago, I had no idea what they were talking about and basically ignored it. I believed that I can trust whatever issues they were referring to.”
          Terry, this is why I am going to link to my Facebook account. People have a right to understand why that statement was issued.

  8. Carol says:

    The remarks published by the HBC elders (noted by Tony in a previous comment) do not begin to address the issues.

    Consider – the elders are stating that up to 30% of all sacrificial gifts from the congregation have gone to servicing and paying off debt alone. They are not addressing how the colossal debt was accumulated in the first place. The rest of the remarks are so general as to be useless.

    I would be far more hopeful if they would have followed up their remarks with a promise to:
    (1) Release the detailed, audited financial statements of HBC for the last 10 years
    (2) Include the Fund Accounting information (income streams, assets and expenses for all of the sub-ministries falling under the umbrella organization of HBC)
    (3) Provide the formal, written budgets that were in effect for the last few years
    (4) Provide the comparison of actual spending to planned spending (higher or lower than planned)

    Only this level of information will show if the aggregated tithes and offerings have been managed wisely and prudently during the debt accumulation. The fact that high-level HBC staff like to gamble, or observe gambling for enjoyment and competition says to me that there may have been a risk-taking attitude toward the money entrusted to the leaders of HBC, with an unfortunate outcome (massive debt).

    I’m a finance manager by profession. HBCRM was my church for a number of years (left in 2011). I gave joyfully while there, but now I would like some answers.

  9. Praying says:

    I am a current member of Harvest and am also quite saddened with all of this. I am also quite concerned with the debt. I had no idea that there was so much in debt when they started the 5G campaign, didn’t know until the elders posted it. As far as I am concerned, had I known about the debt, I never would have participated in a campaign to spend even more money. Likewise, I also do not support the federal government’s ideas of spending more than we have. I am prayerfully reconsidering my membership since the truth has come out about the debt.
    I was also quite concerned with the pictures of a senior pastor in casinos that he posted himself. That a leader would think they have the liberty to cause others to stumble is sad to me. What he does in the basement playing cards is up to him, that is not for me to judge. I am from a family that was destroyed by a father who frequented casinos, and that fortunately came to know the lord late in life through the powerful messages given by James Macdonald in the “No More Games” series, especially the one on holiness. Had he seen the picture of someone he looked up to so much in a casino, he would have argued and justified that it was ok for him to be there, and more arguing, lying, debt, and stealing would have ensued. Of course, he died in debt up to his neck, but I will always be grateful for the series that James preached on “No more Games.”
    There are other things going on in the church, and the school that trouble me. I am praying that God would right all the wrongs and that in the end he would be glorified by a Vertical Church! I love the church, and I think James is so gifted. I am sorry it has come to this!

  10. Sincerely Concerned says:

    I believe the reason Harvest has remained silent for so long in addressing these issues is because they are scrambling to determine what the new “truth” is. If they were above reproach, setting the record straight would be a top priority. In regard to the excessive salary James receives, he needs to simply provide a copy of last year’s personal tax return to an independent and unbiased source. In regard to the church’s debt, they need to simply come clean with the actual numbers.

    I believe you will hear from Harvest when they finally get their story straight – and I can pretty much guarantee that the blame will be put on the godly men who have already left (those listed on “The Void”). The only “crime” these men have committed is that they have chosen to leave Harvest (and James) and serve the Lord elsewhere. The silence of those listed on “The Void” speak volumes to me as they trust the Lord to defend their reputations. I know many of these men personally and have had the privilege to serve alongside them in ministry for many years. I continue to interact with many of them to this day and I can attest to the fact that their character has not changed. They are godly men, above reproach, men of integrity.

    I do believe there are still many godly people within the body of Harvest – it is the top leadership (James and his “yes” men) that have me deeply concerned. If you are still attending Harvest in any capacity, I would ask you to simply pray for eyes of discernment. Ask the Lord to show you if there is anything you need to see. Seek the Lord, seek the truth, and then be willing to follow Him no matter the cost.

    • Also Concerned, A member of HBCRM says:

      I have been following closely, reading and thinking through and praying that my thoughts on this situation would be pure, and not sinful. And all I can say is it smells. Thje membership of HBC has every right to ask questions about the finances of the Church that they support through their giving. The Harvest Leadership seems to be hiding, preferring to answer on Blogs that the majority of Harvest probably dont read and if they do would not have an Idea of why the Elders issued their statement unless they knew what was going on. And the Blog issued by James about not speaking , says to me I wont give you answers because I dont think you have the right to know.
      If you read the Elders statement they talked of the Debt and how its being paid off and quicker than the lenders ask and will be paid by 2020. Thats all well and good but thats not the question, how did we accrue debt of 65million in the first place. And when they addressed the salaries, it was how they appointed a commitee researched other like minitries etc. but never answered the question, what are we paying the Pastors and staff. Simple ques. deserve simple answers and we are not getting them. I feel as if I am listening to our Politicians answer a direct ques. they will talk for 5 min, about everything else, but the answer to your ques. I have come to expect that from them, not our Church Leadership.
      James claims to be under Spiritual Attack. Expecting the Leadership to answer ques.about church finances is not spiritual attack. And expecting answers to the allegations of gambling, associations with questionable Pastors and their ministries, and the treatment of Harvest members by James and the Elders , along with questions about the Harvest Churchs leaving the Fellowship and Grays lake being thrown out are not spiritual Attacks. They are serious issues that the members of Harvest have every right to be informed about. The leadership needs to stop speaking in vague, cloudy terms about detractors,. and spiritual warfare, and deal with this direct. Thats if they can, and I’m beginning to have my doubts.
      I have said I want to finish my life as a member of Harvest , I have loved being part of this Church, but I need to be able to have confidence and trust that what I see, packaged so nicely on Sunday is what I would see Mon. – Fri.

      • Mary B. says:

        I agree with you. I hate all this hiding behind claims of “spiritual attack”. James preaches about accountability and being transparent. I’m sorry but he has lost my trust, probably forever. The man is a hypocrite and is treating the congregation as if we are fools.

        • MG says:

          I can’t worship at Harvest anymore. I wanted to wait and give them a chance to explain but nothing has happened. I question every comment he makes in his sermons, wondering if he is truly sincere or if it is fitting his own agenda since they are being silent. I stopped tithing and will never bring my unchurched friends to Harvest anymore. I thought I could wait it out until they speak but I have to leave now since it is hindering my worship to God. Very sad.

        • MG says:

          James had everyone stand up tonight who have been saved, baptized, and rededicated their lives at Harvest. He reported that last weekend had a record attendance and 76 people accepted Christ. While this news should be wonderful, which it is, I felt like he was manipulating the congregation as to justify his actions. Does God rather have obedience to sacrifice? (1 Sam 15:22) So instead of rejoicing over lost people turning over their lives to follow Christ, I was questioning his motives for sharing this with the congregation.

        • J Crane says:

          Mary B. and MG, We are feeling the same way. I wanted to believe that the new believers are real, but I’m not sure they are believing in Jesus or believing in James MacDonald ministries. What led them to that decision based on last weeks message? Was it a fully orbed theology of repentant faith? I don’t see how they could have gotten that from the message.
I thought we were going to do another pledge of ‘unity’ this week to see who is still ‘with James’ or I had a feeling we were going to hear about numbers again, although the elder I spoke to insists that Harvest is not focused on numbers. But Bob and Pastor James obviously think it’s all about the numbers. (I’m not talking about the gambling)
          We are frustrated with the leadership for making us feel like the bad people for asking honest questions and expecting an honest answer, and not just receive a quip or blanket statement to pray for James and the elders under attack. It is becoming so difficult to even support our campus pastor as he continues to care more about defending the James MacDonald ministry than care for the members in the body. Instead of feeling refreshed in worship, we leave Harvest feeling lied to and ignored. Instead of hearing the Word preached, we leave feeling used. Instead of hearing Christ exalted in the Scriptures we hear about the James MacDonald ministry defended and rationalized.
We are giving our tithes to Grace Community Bible Church and Winnetka Bible Church. We want to end our commitments at Harvest before leaving. In the meantime, we are still praying and waiting for real answers and a solution and plan of accountability and communication.
          Thank you for putting together the information on this site and the BloodStained Ink.

        • Mike Sagan says:

          Well put, J Crane. James is just using people. Perhaps those people are truly saved and for that we rejoice. But MacDonald seems to have overlooked the fact that God may be saving people in spite of him, not because of him. How typically arrogant of him to take backhanded credit for what God may be doing in the lives of sinners.

        • saved by Grace says:

          To anyone that has a hard time worshiping at HBC, I’d ask them (as i do with myself) to check their own hearts. The message/the words during worship holds true even if the medium by which it is received is “questionable”. Whatever choice is made (whether staying or leaving, tithing or not)…just do it prayerfully and in a way that honors God. We will be held accountable for these things.
          Praying for those that are angered but check hearts that it is a righteous anger (where God’s standards are being violated)…not a distorted anger (where our standards are being violated). James is a man just like us all, he is prone to sin and deals with it’s consequences like us. Knowing that…I pray Grace is given. Praying for all that have posted on this site, that gossip/slander doesn’t leave lips because that’s what Satan will do to our words (even if it has some truth to it). 1Cor 5:4

        • J Crane says:

          saved by Grace,
          Pray (we agree) AND read the Bible as each makes a decision to leave or stay. Qualifications for church leadership (Titus and Timothy) have been posted many times, but also consider 2 Cor. 6. If the leadership has not provided answers to legitimate concerns after you’ve approached them according to Matt. 18, then I think you need to take your family away from Harvest Bible Chapel. A person (or family) should stay, only If there is a “calling” to stay and can support that with biblical text even after knowing all of the facts and unanswered concerns of doctrine, debt, void, power, and deceit.

    • Tony says:

      You said: <<<>>>

      You mean like the comments below from the Elders’ Statement advertised on the front page of their website?

      “Adhering to long-taught financial principles, at no time have we spent more than 30% of our income on interest and principal payments, including all the additional principal payments that have been made. By year-end 2012, our debt will be $59.5MM; by 2015, $43.3MM; by 2018, $19.4MM.”

      “Our finance team feels blessed to report that the church’s existing assets are approximately $150MM, with $90MM of equity.”

      “The compensation of our senior pastor and all senior staff at Harvest Bible Chapel is governed by a formal Compensation Committee, made up of our Elder Board Chairman, our church Treasurer, and our Audit Committee Chairman, with representation from our auditor, CapinCrouse.”

      Pretty ambiguous and silent, huh?

    • Tony says:

      You said: “I believe the reason Harvest has remained silent for so long in addressing these issues is because they are scrambling to determine what the new “truth” is. If they were above reproach, setting the record straight would be a top priority. In regard to the excessive salary James receives, he needs to simply provide a copy of last year’s personal tax return to an independent and unbiased source. In regard to the church’s debt, they need to simply come clean with the actual numbers.”

      You mean like the comments below from the Elders’ Statement advertised on the front page of their website?

      “Adhering to long-taught financial principles, at no time have we spent more than 30% of our income on interest and principal payments, including all the additional principal payments that have been made. By year-end 2012, our debt will be $59.5MM; by 2015, $43.3MM; by 2018, $19.4MM.”

      “Our finance team feels blessed to report that the church’s existing assets are approximately $150MM, with $90MM of equity.”

      “The compensation of our senior pastor and all senior staff at Harvest Bible Chapel is governed by a formal Compensation Committee, made up of our Elder Board Chairman, our church Treasurer, and our Audit Committee Chairman, with representation from our auditor, CapinCrouse.”

      Pretty ambiguous and silent, huh?

  11. Traveler says:

    A pastor flying to Vegas to play poker? Just a game of skill! LOL! What an athlete of God he is! Like pole dancing is also just another skill. Get out of these spiritual brothels, people. Spiritually evangelicalism is dead. These places are cults of personality now, with the biggest narcissists always winning. Don’t walk. Run. This isn’t Christianity.

  12. John says:

    I am not and have never been a member of HBC but all of this still hits very close to home. I lived in the NW burbs most of my life and have friends who are members or attenders of HBC. Pastor James has been a frequent guest at our church in Texas and our pastor has called him a “good friend”. Our previous men’s minister left our church to become lead pastor of a Harvest church plant. I have followed James ministry and attended the ER2 and Vertical Church events. My personal testimony includes overcoming a struggle with a serious gambling habit. Arlington Park, right next door to HBC, was the center of my universe for most of my adult life. My gambling addiction brought me to a place of brokeness which the Lord used to draw me back to Him. Is gambling sin? For me it is, I know that for sure. In the past I have recommended HBC to friends and family including my own Father who is not walking with the Lord. I write all of that to explain my perspective and demonstrate that I do not have any personal reason or desire to criticize Pastor James. Having said that, I can’t help but be concerned with what I have seen and heard. I noticed a difference in the tone of Pastor James the last few time he visited our church, then came the ER2 debacle including his split with TGC and churches leaving the Harvest organization. The biggest concern I had with ER2 was that James did not deliver what he promised. I was okay with Jakes being there as long as the tough questions were asked, but they were not. All they had to do was ask him if he affirms the Nicene creed. Instead, they lobbed softballs, let the Bishop speak in unclear terms, and then just hugged it out. That was disappointing. Next came the Vertical Church tour. I found it interesting that the event was not held at our church despite previous close ties to our Pastor. To me, the commercialism of that event was just too much to stomach. The lobby was full or merchandise like a rock concert, the tour bus was parked out front, the message was nothing special by James’ standards but he was bigger than life which was now irritating to me. My friend and I noticed his ridiculous tattoo that night and that just added icing to the cake. I walked away from that event with a renewed reminder to place my faith in God not man. How about that? The word truly does not return void! Paul said in Philippians that some were preaching the word with improper motivation but also suggested that God would still use even that. One thing I read on this site continues to stand out to me. James is quoted as telling someone they did not have a “fully orbed theology of wealth”. As I read all of the speculation and attempted justification of gambling related activity I can’t help but wonder if we would also be accused of not having a fully orbed theology of gambling. I’m sorry, but for a Pastor who is already under financial scrutiny I believe James has as much or more reason to abstain from gambling completely as I do. Read Romans 14 again and consult a good commentary for Paul’s thoughts on exercising our liberty.

  13. Jackie Alfirevic, spiritual head of my household, responsible for 3 children, 20 years at HBC/RM says:

    I thank you for this site and for the list of former pastors and elders. I had watched them leaving over the past several years, especially of course the Stowells and Dave Corning, most notably. I want to say that I immediately wrote to each man on “The Void” list when it appeared. Many of them I have known. Several of them I have appealed to verbally and in writing when they were elders and pastors of HBC with my own related concerns. I can attest to the fact that 3 of them CONFIRMED to me in writing their continued concerns over the situation at Harvest Bible Chapel. One’s secretary responded to assure me that they were praying for our situation. Not a single one of them wrote back to say that they denied any of the claims or wished to be disassociated from the web site.
    Chris Pence said:
    “Yes, plenty of people still prefer to sit under James’ teaching (Rich), but those people weaken the church when they refuse to hold their leader to account in light of questionable activity. ” I am in full agreement with this statement. It is NOT Godly to stick your head in the sand and pray. Yes, pray. But also speak up for what you believe is right. I know I will get a call over this. I have already been told that I have a rebellious spirit because I stop up in the front of the church and bring my concerns to elders. Apparently my manner is “accusatory”. I tried to explain that the reason I may sound accusatory is because they did not issue the Elder Update until AFTER this site exposed the debt. Of course there are accusations and mistrust. Especially when I brought up similar issues years ago and was shut down and told to find another church.
    Although I was unaware of the gambling issue previously (as were we all), it deeply concerns me. It IS NOT my MAIN CONCERN, but it does just keep piling on doesn’t it? And it does speak to the issue of honesty and integrity. And, Bob, trying to defend the gambling and the racehorse owning etc…Honestly, The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked…Think and pray on these things. Really.
    The church needs to address publicly, in a meeting, not on a web site, the concerns of the church. If 10 people show up, then answer the 10. If 1000 show up, then answer the 1000. Give the people the opportunity to be heard.
    How about one of those emergency meetings? How about now, huh????

  14. Praying for James. says:

    Dear everyone, let’s all agree to pray for Pastor James. We heard a lot and read a lot and it is very painful and confusing for all of us. It is time to pray for our brother. If truly there is a need of repentance, let’s pray that the holy spirit will work in his heart and restore him. In the past, many of us were blessed by his ministry. We really need to lift him up in prayer at this difficult time.

  15. Waldo says:

    So I wonder how much “FactChecker” is being paid to post here?

    Sometimes the obvious is oblivious. As J. Vernon McGee put it:

    “The way of Balaam is the covetousness of one who does religious work for personal profit…
    My friend, I believe that you can judge the religious racketeer by his standard of living. A friend of mine heard me make the statement that people should check up on radio broadcasters and see what kind of homes they live in and what cars they drive. He thought I was wrong to make a statement like that, but he decided to check up on one man. He found that man living in a very costly home with two Cadillacs parked in front and an expensive swimming pool behind it. My friend had also heard about certain other excesses in that man’s live, and so he decided that he was supporting the wrong broadcaster. “The way of Balaam” – covetousness. This is one of the ways a false religious teacher can be identified, and God will judge him for it.”

  16. Chris Pence says:

    Sure, discord is being sown (Rebekah), but it’s a result of James’ unaddressed behavior. Yes, plenty of people still prefer to sit under James’ teaching (Rich), but those people weaken the church when they refuse to hold their leader to account in light of questionable activity.

    Factchecker, I agree comments should be verifiable. Nonetheless,benefiting from the system while condemning it equals hypocrisy. Be a model for what you preach. Otherwise, stop complaining.

    Scott and Ryan, unless concrete proof arises that others within HBC’s leadership are involved, these tenuous (a generous word in this context) connections regarding Misters Adams and Jenkins diminish the otherwise great job your site has done at bringing longstanding, hidden issues into the light. I urge you to drop them.

    Regarding the matter at hand: James was at two casinos in the interim after preaching against gambling as dishonest gain. He needs to tell us why. He posted and then took down the pictures, which smacks of (but does not prove) guilt. He needs to tell us why. He wore sunglasses inside two different casinos, a practice (as pointed out earlier) that is common among those who gamble. He needs to tell us why.

    James has outright proscribed behaviors in which the Bible either gives freedom (such as drinking) or simply does not address (such as reading the DaVinci Code, for example*). It would be one thing if James was not so legalistic or simply chose to personally abstain from gambling while acknowledging the freedom of the believer. At least he would be consistent if nothing else.

    But that’s not James. He IS a legalist, and thus his possible gambling is exceedingly relevant. James is not a soft-stance guy, nor does he brook wiggle room regarding his so-called “fences”. Neither he nor any shepherd should ever be let off the hook until full account has been given.

    * Sermon given the weekend of April 22, 2006

    • Carrie says:


      I will add little to your excellent comments, except to say that I concur with each of your statements. Well said. I think what this website is doing is very important, but your warning to Scott and Ryan is on point. The gambling issue is relevant, but only if it can be further substantiated.

  17. Peggy says:

    I am stumbled!!!!! – Sat. Night I innocently checked the Harvest website and read the letter from the elders. Sunday I was told there was another website that would better inform me as to why our elders found it necessary to write such a shocking letter. I have been obsessed every minute since, reading everything I can on anything related in any way about this subject. It has led me to read things that disturbed me greatly-this blog being one of them. I am married to a Jehovah’s Witness. Can you just imagine the reproach this news is going to have on Christianity and Our Savior!!! ! I can tell you, it will send ripples of ridicule that will go around the world! Satan is going to use it all to his advantage. I’m afraid we all have been adversely affected by it – from the Pastor, elders (present & past) & their families , to the Body of Christ & their families & to everyone reading or writing on this blog, to the people hearing this aweful shameful conduct of professed followers of Christ. God help & forgive us all!! This is not a good example of godliness!!

    • Lisa says:

      Dear Peggy
      I wouldn’t fret that much about this. Things like this are indeed a poor example to the world. No doubt. But unfortunately God’s seen a lot of this come and go. He and Christianity will survive. I’m not sure if you’re referring to James and the other leader’s conduct or this site being not a good example of godliness. I am thinking about the pastor and leaders, but not this site. Let’s just keep in mind why this site exists. James MacDonald appears not be walking the walk. Let’s just also keep in mind what the facts versus allegations are at this point in these discussions. There’s certainly nothing wrong with pointing out these Twitter pics. James MacDonald and the leaders should be held accountable and he should be offering a clear honest explanation of the pictures. Was he at a casino? If so, why? Did he actually gamble there? He should tell all. If he’s a true man of God he shouldn’t hide anything. It will better for the world and the Kingdom for the truth to come out (assuming there is wrong doing) than for it to continue on.
      I wouldn’t worry about this for your husband. Maybe he’ll wake up and realize trust in an organization is not the best thing and he can start looking at the WatchTower organization he so trusts with a different eye.

  18. catluvgal says:

    I think the gambling thing is getting way off track. This is something for the elders to deal with if it is even an issue. I’m far more concerned about JM’s associations and the debt issue this site was originally founded on.

  19. Carol says:

    “Since you pray to God for daily bread, it is thus essential for you to believe that all good gifts and the blessing upon that which you have, come from God, and that you acknowledge God as being the origin of all good things. Such He truly is: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17). All that exists is God’s; whatever anyone possesses he has received from God. .. “What hast thou that thou didst not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7)…

    We must be satisfied with that which the Father gives — be it much or little, it will be enough. Therefore we ought not to waste it, but with a joyful heart make use of it. We must then always lift up our heart on high to the Giver, doing so with a grateful heart and with a mouth filled with the praises of the Lord…

    Gambling and Lotteries are sin: No opportunity ought to be given for subjects to squander their goods, for God has forbidden this.” Wilhelmus a’Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Volume 4 (125-27); Volume 3 (Page 552-553)

  20. Big Sigh says:

    Just posted approximately 4 hours ago…

    Dealing with criticism in a biblical way:
    “You – Shut Your Mouth” repost on the blog –

  21. Tom says:

    Here’s a fact for you to find. Factfinder: how many elders, besides Robert Jones, know how much the salary actual is from each of the entities that are under Harvest: HBC, WITW, CHC, HBF, Harvest Songs, HCA, books, and whatever else maybe under the umbrella of the ministries of James MacDonald? One, two, three, none, how many?

    How many knew the extent of the debt when they were asked to be elders?

    How many of them know that they are now likely personally responsible for the debt? And if they don’t and learn they are, how many would continue to affirm James.

    How many of the void do you think left embracing and affirming MacDonald? If they asked to be removed, do you not think the elephants debt authors wouldn’t have removed them?

    People vote with their feet. All of these men did exactly that. But remember, in the words of MacDonald himself, congregational government is from satan.

    • factchecker says:

      I am not here to debate the content of the site, just bring to light the manipulation used on this site to further ones point of view. I have absolutely no idea the answer to your question. But please, I would love to highlight YOUR question. “If they asked to be removed, do you not think the elephants debt authors wouldn’t have removed them?”.

      Could one of the authors weight in here? Have any of the people quoted on that page requested to be removed and have they given their permission to be quoted there?

      Tom, when we get an answer and if I am wrong, I will happily admit my error in this line of questioning. I would hope you would reinforce this question needs to be answered.

      • Factchecker …

        You have asked two questions. I will offer two answers.

        “Have any of the people quoted on that page [The Void] requested to be removed?”

        To date, The Elephant’s Debt has received absolutely no communication, either written or verbal, from any member of “The Void” asking to have their name removed from the site. In fact, quite the opposite has occurred. Men have contacted The Elephant’s Debt asking to have their name and contact information added to “The Void.”

        “Have they [men listed on “The Void”] given their permission to be quoted there?”

        This question is somewhat nonsensical as we have not explicitly “quoted” any member of “The Void.” But, assuming the real question is seeking to know whether anyone explicitly asked to be listed, the answer is both yes and no. As stated above, certain men have contacted The Elephant’s Debt after it was initially published and asked to have their names added. As for the initial members, they were listed by these authors as an observation pertaining to the rapid departure of numerous key leaders in a short window of time. As their departures are not private information, and as each of the men served in a public capacity within the church, we were free to make these observations in the manner that we did. Furthermore, when we crafted the list, we linked each member of “The Void” to publicly accessible contact information. So anyone, including yourself, is free to contact these men and ask them about the concerns raised by this website.

        The only question is: will you take the time to actually do so?

        • Vin Chalkerton says:

          That’s a really long-winded way of saying, “Of the long list of men featured on “The Void” page, only a few have any connection whatsoever to us or our claims. In fact, we have no factual information about why most of these men left, just our own suspicions and speculations.”

          Of course we are free to contact those men. That’s a dodge. That is like me telling you my neighbor is cheating on his wife, and when you ask for proof I say, “Hey, his number’s in the phone book. Call him.”

        • factchecker says:

          So the answer here is that you did NOT have all of their permission and have used their public role as legal justification to imply to readers that these 21 endorse you and this site. Which means you have misled the readers of this site that these 21 have actively supported this blog while you push back any real accountability to the readers of this blog which you know will never pick up the phone and contact all of them. I would think that in trying to be Christ like, I would not represent men of faith as supportive of something unless they actually told me they were. Funny how you think that this validation is someone else’s responsibility yet you find so much time to pull court records and documents and sleuth answers to everything else. I would think you would have taken time to verify peoples support before implying their support.

          So my question to you is how many of the 21 listed have given you explicit permission to post their profiles on this page? As I have continually pointed out, you use legal manipulation to twist reality to suit your purpose. Because they are in the public eye and they left Harvest publicly, yes, you can legally use their likeness on something like this site. But, as you wrongly allude to this being nonsensical, how many of them have provided active consent to be on that page. That is where your twisting of the truth falls flat. Have all 21 people you imply consent and support this website actually done so? Or have you used/twisted your first amendment right and legal defamation sidestepping to insinuate each of those 21 are all behind you and this site when they are actually not?

        • Gary says:

          Van and “fact”, I feel badly for you two. When I was in kindergarden, I learned that when I see smoke, that means that there’s fire. But hey, keep on trusting in King James, regardless of how many people leave. For the record, if your name was listed on a website for a cause that you didn’t approve of, wouldn’t you ask to have it taken off? Yah, so would I .

      • Joe says:

        “I am not here to debate the content of the site…” So much for being a “factchecker” then, huh?

  22. Bob Arosen says:

    Since I have played poker with James, I believe that I can shed some light on this issue. I should note that that while I have played poker with James, I have never gambled with him. If that seems like splitting hairs to you, then chances are you don’t understand the game of Texas Hold ’em (the game James plays). This game is perfect for competitive men as they transition from young sports competitors to old fat guys waiting to die. In years gone by we would get together for pick up basketball games or some other sporting activity. Our creaky old bones and growing girth doesn’t allow us to do that anymore. This game has caught on worldwide both as a participatory and spectator sport because it fills that niche for us old guys. Last week me and about a million others watched the World Series of Poker final table on ESPN. So now no more touch football, we get together and play a new more sedentary game.

    A game of chance is a game of luck. The number is the number, the color is the color. In poker you have nothing to do with the cards you get, but everything to do with how they are played. Is there luck involved? Yes, but in the same way luck is involved in any sport, bad bounce, bad call, etc. Just as in any sport he lucky guy or team wins once in a while, the best player/ team wins most of the time. That is not my definition of gambling. If your definition of gambling is anytime you win money, then the 1980 Mt. Prospect Bible Church Doopers softball team are a bunch of degenerate gamblers. We paid an entrance fee (buy in) to the Northwest Suburban Church Softball League, and we won $300 at the end of the season when we won the tournament. Were we gambling, or did we compete for a prize? I should note that in the 60’s there was a huge controversy at MPBC about allowing a Ping Pong table in the youth room (worldly amusement), so I don’t think they considered the softball team gamblers, or they would have booted us out.

    So with that as a preamble here are a few facts/thoughts.

    1. The idea that James has a gambling problem is laughable. Then that means he had a basketball problem until he became an old fart like me.

    2. The pictures in question were taken when James was a spectator at a tournament where friends of his (not him) were participating. He has since told the Elders that he will never again enter a casino under any condition because he is aware it might cause someone to stumble.

    3. Fred Adams is as good a man as you will ever find. He loves God, his family, and his church. He has worked tirelessly over the years to firm the financial base of Harvest and has strengthened both financial accountability and transparency. The fact that you would allow him to be dragged into this is shameful. You have hurt both him and his family. What he does in his off time with his own money is not our business. He too has offered that he will never enter a casino again for the sake of the ministry.

    I have often wondered what the end game is here. If the purpose of this strand is to make sure James (and now Fred) never enter a casino again, then this should end it. You should publicly commend them and tell the nameless posters we’re finished here.

    While I also find it ironic that factchecker uses an alias, his point is well taken. How can anonymous postings accusing a brother of terrible acts be considered Biblical on any level? I will gladly respond to anyone who posts under their name.

    • Gary says:

      “Bob”, you’re accepting the same fallacy that many here are: This is just two guys with a blog who hate on James. Sorry, but that’s simply not the case. Read the entire site. Or, better yet, do your own research and find out why so many people who were associated with James for years have walked away. Am I supposed to believe that James is a swell guy, while ALL of these guys are simply bad apples? Sorry, try pulling someone else’s leg. Some of us aren’t beholden to any one person. You ought to try it, it’s quite liberating. I love my own pastor, but if he falls into sin, I won’t try to cover it up, I’ll try to help him out of it. But if he is unrepentant, then I will tell others of his sin.

    • Bill Griffin says:

      “Since I have played poker with James, I believe that I can shed some light on this issue. I should note that that while I have played poker with James, I have never gambled with him. If that seems like splitting hairs to you, then chances are you don’t understand the game of Texas Hold ‘em (the game James plays)”

      Hello Bob, thank you for the post. I would like to ask a few questions and hope you’ll reply and, yes, I got the part where James would not enter a casino again. I think that’s great. I believe James MacDonald to be a good man, however, I also believe that a casino is no place for a pastor. Watching friends? ok, Attending an event? ok. To play cards? For me at least, no. I think pastors are held to a higher standard.

      You seem to be making a distinction between poker and gambling. What was the final take at the World Series this year? Somewhere in the millions right? I know the game and disagree on the split hair, but that’s another story. So…you and James used to play poker at the casino(s) and do not anymore? James still plays with friends outside of casino environment? I have no reason to suspect he has a gambling problem, but the gambling itself, at a casino, is a problem to me. I hope you can see that distinction.

      • Bob Arosen says:


        I have only played poker in a home setting with James, low buy in. I have never been in a casino with him, and I have no personal knowledge of him competing in tournaments in casinos. I do see the distinction and see how for some it is a problem.

        I understand the hair splitting. I think this year’s take in the poker WS was 7 or 8 million, but participants don’t risk 7 million, the pay the entrance fee and the total in the pool directly correlates to the number of participants.

        • Bill Griffin says:

          Thank you Bob. I appreciate your answer. I’ve read you on other blogs and haven’t a doubt you’re a straightshooter, no pun intended. That is very helpful to settle this issue for myself. James is a good man and a good teacher and you’re clearly a good friend.

      • Lisa says:

        Bob said: “What he [Fred Adams] does in his off time with his own money is not our business. He too has offered that he will never enter a casino again for the sake of the ministry.”

        So this is the correct Fred Adams who has a lifetime earnings of approx. $37K and has participated in several tournaments? Are you saying this is him?

        Not our business? Seriously Bob?

        That’s nice that’s he’s offered that he will never step into a casino again, but my educated guess is that he’ll have a hard time keeping that promise.

        • Bob Arosen says:

          I did not say that was him or not. I do not know if it was, I have never been to a casino with him.

    • factchecker says:

      Bob – Thank you for this post as it should end the speculative conversation rampant on this page.

      I do use an alias and have happily volunteered not to as soon as this site is simply changed to require accusations to be founded in a real name. I would happily do so to eliminate those people who cower behind a computer knowing that they are immune from accountability. BUT, as you will notice, the authors choose to tarnish me vs. address why they allow anonymous posts to accuse and slander people without any accountability.

      I have purposely steered clear of the discussion and simply pointed out breaches of integrity on the site owners part.

      Again – 2 questions:

      1. Why do the authors of this site allow anonymous accusations and slander on this site that they claim is just trying to bring things to light?

      2. Do all of the people you have listed on the Void section of this site give you permission and endorsement to publish their pictures and names and have any of them asked to be removed from your website.

      No answers to these 2 questions will be very telling!

      • Bob Arosen says:

        In defense of Scott and Ryan, they are allowing posts that might disagree with their particular bias now. I attempted to post the first day this sight came up to point out what I considered to be half truths or spin and it was not posted, while at the same time every anonymous poster who had something nasty to accuse James of was allowed to be seen. So I consider this a good step. I think your position is correct, if someone is willing to put a name and actual proof to an accusation (as Scott and Ryan have) should be answered. But the nameless poster who “knows a guy, who knows a guy, who knows for a fact” is a joke. Saying you want the truth while allowing that does seem a bit ingenuous.

        You ask a good question about the “Void Guys”. By implication they are alluding that each person listed left for nefarious reasons without telling us what those reasons are.

        • Eric T. S. Rowe says:

          Bob – Do me a favor. Answer this question. Mike Bryant posted his affirmation of the truth of this site. Based on his affirmation alone do you see concerns about whether James MacDonald is above reproach and qualified to be an Elder? Why or why not? Maybe before you answer that as a friend of James I am sure you can call Dave Corning, Joseph Stowell, Joe Stowell, Ron Alchin ect. ect. and ask them if they have concerns about the character of James MacDonald. Then let me know your answer. And before you tell me we all are sinners and point to the fruit of James MacDonald to dismiss my question, consider this quote from John Stott:

          “Communication is by symbol as well as speech. For a man cannot only preach, he must also live. And the life that he lives with all its little peculiarities is one of two things, either it emasculates his preaching or it gives it flesh and blood. We cannot hide what we are. Indeed, what we are speaks as plainly as what we say. When these two voices blend, the impact of the message is doubled. But when they contradict each other, even the positive witness of the one is negatived by the other. This was the case with the man.”

          In Acts 20:28 and in 1 Timothy 4:16 the Scripture says to those in leadership, “Take heed to yourselves.” Spiritual leadership begins with character.

          Henry Ward Beecher once said, “A preacher is in some degree a reproduction of the truth in personal form.”. And so they are to live that blameless life that stands behind the message so that they have true and lasting influence for good and for God.

          This site is about the many red flags about James’ character. Those red flags are raised by the hidden debt, the power grab, the salary demands, the $1.9M home, the bursts of anger on twitter, the stories of staff being treated poorly, the firings, the many many men who at once were in leadership who have left church, the gambling, the Elephant Room 2 debacle, and on and on I could go. I made the decision over a month ago to leave the church because of my knowledge of these character issue and my observations of the character decline being reflected through James’ teaching and approach to corporate worship.

          So again I ask you, is James MacDonald above reproach?

          Before I close I want to acknowledge that we are also held to this same standard and I ask those who know me to hold me account to such. But If I refuse, then I ask that two or more who know me hold me account to such. If I refuse, then they should make it known to the church as required in Matt. 18. It just so happens that millions of people know who James MacDonald and it is a big story.

        • Bob Arosen says:


          It won’t let me reply under you so I hope you can find it.

          I’ve known James for about 20 years. I also know personally the men you have mentioned. James has ever done anything that would disqualify him from being my Pastor. If he did, I wouldn’t be at Harvest. As for concerns the other men may or may not have about James, I believe each should speak for themselves rather than us speculate what each thinks.

        • Eric T. S. Rowe says:


          I agree that the men listed on the void should speak directly for themselves. I wish they would obey scripture and do so.

          But Mike Bryant did speak and did make some very strong statements. I ask you again does his affirmation of some what is revealed in this website and statements raise concerns to you that James is qualified to be a pastor/elder? Why or why not?

          To refresh your memory he said “… in my opinion, those matters are all consistent with the declining character of the man that I observed over many years…. My public testimony here is still consistent with that desire for his best. But additionally and equally important, I add my name as a witness to the things in this website for the protection of those that I once led and shepherded at Harvest.”

    • Are you authorized to speak for James and Fred? They both told you they will swear off casinos and you should assure us of their innocence?

      • Bob Arosen says:


        • Kay says:

          That is something James should do himself. The same should be said for Fred. If it is not him listed on the poker/gambling websites, I would think he (Fred) would want to clarify that. Additionally, how do we know James is telling the truth that he was only observing in the casino? There are other instances in the past where he has less than totally forthcoming on other issues. James has no business in a casino or gambling anywhere (regardless of whether it is Texas Hold ’em or some other game) and he knows it.

          There is such a preponderance of issues here, it cannot be denied that there is a problem with James and potentially at least some of the elders. It is at such a level that the issues need to be addressed publicly, i.e., openly and transparently with the HBC congregation. There are patterns of behavior demonstrated by James, a few of which I have seen. Makes it hard to dismiss the information on this website.

        • You realize you just confirmed the identity on Fred Adams Harvest CFO as a pro gambler? And you confirmed the nationally known Christian radio personality and mega church pastor who has increased the indebtedness of Harvest Bible Chapel by $75,000,000.00 as a confirmed attendee at casinos?

      • Bob Arosen says:

        Let me clarify. I quickly read your question and just gave a quick answer without realizing what you were asking. I was not asked to convey anything to this blog. I am not authorized to speak for James or Fred. I was just conveying what I learned in a conversation some time ago. My wife just read through the replies told me I better clarify, I think she’s right.

    • John says:

      I was an addicted compulsive gambler. However, poker was never my game of choice. It has been more than 8 years since my final wager. I was mainly a horseplayer. Instead of spending time at HBC I was across the street at AP. I could argue that horse racing is a game of skill and wits. Yes the house takes 15-20% but that leaves the bettors to outsmart each other over the remaining pot. I still love the races from a sporting perspective and may watch the stretch run of the Derby or parts of the Breeders Cup. Obviously, it is just not the same without the gambling. I guess I don’t understand how one can play Texas Hold’em without it being gambling. Is there a buy in, do you get chips, do you cash in the chips at the end of the night? This is gambling. if there was no money involved I guess you would just deal 4 cards face up to each player then lay 3 cards in the middle and see who wins. If this is what you are doing you really need to find another game to play!

      • Bill Griffin says:

        I feel for you John. I was also addicted to gambling and it was truly a last second miracle that I didn’t lose my home, wife, kids, everything really, in the process. Very few, obviously, have that testimony but I know what can go on in the heart and mind of a gambler and that’s why this is important to me.

        • John says:

          Thank you Bill. I was drawn to Pastor James at one point, now it makes me wonder what I may have seen in him that I identified with. I hail from Arlington Heights but I live in Texas now. Pastor James has been a frequent guest at our church. I really enjoyed his messages 4-5 years ago. His teaching left me challenged and inspired. In recent years his “style” began to bother me. He seemed more brash, cocky, and divisive. I attended ER2 and the Vertical Church tour in Dallas, these event left me confused and a bit angry. I don’t know if he has a gambling problem, but the evidence is concerning to me. i know the church is located near the racetrack but it now seems the influence may have been flowing in the wrong direction. I do know that I will no longer visit or recommend HBC as I have to family and friends still in the NW burbs.

      • Bob Arosen says:


        Compulsive, addictive behavior has destroyed many lives, I’m so glad you (with God’s help) were able to beat it. I am on the Race Track Chaplaincy Board at AP and Hawthorne and have seen the devastation caused in lives and families. It is hard to understand how an activity that is an amusement for one person is an addiction for another, but it is a reality.

        • Bob, the reality that must and will be addressed is the original purpose of this blog the $75,000,000.00 indebtedness incurred under the leadership of James MacDonald.

        • A Better Factchecker says:

          Bob, you should also disclose that you own a racehorse and that you have financially gained from Harvest by “tagging” along on a WITW bus tour. You are hardly objective.

        • Bob Arosen says:

          Better Factchecker

          Actually, I am part owner of 2 race horses. If you are trying to discredit me 2 horses sound more evil than 1. In case you’re interested their names are Captain Jack and Prima Donna Pirate.

    • Jeremy Ryan says:

      Bob, your comparison to poker to a community softball league or a pickup basketball is either somewhat manipulative of factual circumstances that aren’t desirable, or a severe naivety. I haven’t heard of any families ruined by innocent weekend basketball games, or of any major state or federal laws governing community softball tourneys.

      To your points
      1. That’s a peculiar metaphor. By your logic, neighborhood parks and community centers should have poker tables set up where families and friends can play games for cash prizes without having age requirements or need for a burdensome casino license.

      2. “might cause someone to stumble.” I hope this isn’t begrudging.. I don’t know if this is James’ official response, or if you are making one for him. Paul gladly laid aside some of his freedoms as an example for the flock and for the benefit of many (1 Cor. 9-10).

      3. Please help me understand what financial transparency Harvest has had in the past to the membership, aside from closely guarded audit reports that are mandated of 501(c)3’s and extremely vague. Safeguards from fraud, theft and embezzlement (the audit standard) are not the same as biblical-required stewardship.

      Commend them, for what? Have they spoken publicly on this accusation and subsequent concession, or do you speak for them in some capacity as you bring these men’s pledges to an officially unnamed/unacknowledged blog site?

      Bob, I would love to here where you stand on the requirement of being “above reproach.” as it pertains to the lead under-shepherd of a local body. I would also love to hear how you think these behaviors line up with 1 Peter 5:3, specifically, being an example to the flock. Are young men (and women) to be submissive and humble to this example of leadership?

      • Bob Arosen says:


        Happy to reply, here it is paragraph at a time.

        I don’t consider it manipulative. You pay an entrance fee and you win the prize. All you can lose is you entrance fee, both in tournament poker and softball. Families are ruined by compulsive addictive behavior of all sorts, poker being one, but I’ll bet (sorry but had to use that word) you can find some wives who have left their husbands because of being in 12 softball leagues.

        1. I think it is a metaphor that works. I played softball for years because I enjoyed the camaraderie and completion. That’s why I play Hold ’em. Can certain people take it to destructive lengths? Absolutely. Does that mean I shouldn’t do it? I don’t think so.

        2. James and Fred are, too.

        3. I can’t speak for the past, only the present. Under the leadership of the new expanded Elder Board audited financials are on the Harvest web site. It appears that most, if not all of the issues that this site brings up happened years ago under the previous elder board. I would think that this would be an encouragiment to the readers of this blog. The changes they were looking for are in place.

        Maybe commend was too strong a word, maybe acknowledge.

        “above reproach” is a bit of a subjective term. At some churches if a wife wears pants it is sin and disqualifies the husband. The Bible is specific about some things and not about others. Something that disqualifies a man in one church would not in another.

    • Chris Pence says:

      Thank you for giving some insight into James’ mindset and past behavior. It should be weighted with the contents of this site for balance and perspective. With that said…

      If James considers gambling to be dishonest gain, why would he watch someone partaking in said dishonest gain? Why watch blatant sin? Does it redeem his presence somehow that he was not participating but merely beholding the sin of others, doing so willfully and, judging by his smile in the pictures, in good spirits? Under this same loophole, could James attend other disreputable activities as long as he withholds participation and acts strictly as an observer? That doesn’t hold up.

      The gambling link to Fred Adams as outlined within this site is currently specious at best. Let’s assume for the sake of argument, however, that Mr. Adams IS guilty of gambling. Don’t you agree this would need to be addressed by the elders in light of James’ stance on gambling? Why would a senior pastor who unequivocally outlaws gambling proceed to tolerate someone on his staff who engages in dishonest gain? Your statement, that what Mr. Adams does with his money is none of our business, isn’t true. If he gambles, he does so with the tithes and gifts of a congregation who has been explicitly told they should not do likewise. Assuming James is not guilty of gambling or taking joy in the gambling sin of others, he must admonish this behavior on the part of his staff. Anything less is hypocritical and insulting to those who come to HBC for teaching.

  23. factchecker says:

    I am still wondering from the authors why you allow anonymous allegations on this site that is trying to draw what is in darkness into the light? Seems like you wouldn’t want people hiding behind their computer screens spewing unverifiable claims without some effort to ensure some level of transparency.

    My guess is the the site’s comments section will soon be deemed too distracting and be disabled like the other sections and leave only the authors far reaching insinuations of a Harvest gambling empire visible.

    • Gary says:

      LOL…so what say you regarding ALL the claims of ALL the named former elders, pastors, and ministry leaders who have left Harvest? Oh that’s right, you’re touting the company line about them….they’re simply bad guys who are sowing discord. And remember, TD Jakes is a great guy as well. If you call him a heretic, then you’re a racist. Tell me Fact, how do you remember all the company lines? Wouldn’t it be easier to just go with the truth?

      • factchecker says:

        Gary – Interestingly enough, I know almost no one you are talking about. I don’t work for the church, never have, nor have I ever been in a conversation with James much less know him. You, much like the authors, seem very bitter. I don’t know if the elders are good guys or bad guys, I guess I would contact them if I really wanted to know. I know you and the authors want to mock me and silence me, hmmmm similar to what you say James/Harvest does. Anyway, funny thing is while you paint me as a “company man” and that I think former elders are all, “simply bad guys sowing discord”, you seem to neglect the disingenuous way this site is run. Which is all I am trying to bring to light. Your statements about me are judgmental, assuming, and without merit. I haven’t even commented on James or the claims of the elders. You can continue to try to change the subject and misconstrue my comments to be defending of James, but now you are in the wrong. So I will continue to bring to light what you are, at best, blindly skipping over, at worst, manipulating and deceiving this audience on purpose. And that is the choiceful deception in which this information is presented and the lack of transparency in which you allow this site to function.

    • Donn says:


      You may have the time to sit on here all day today, but clearly the authors of the blog do not. You repeating your demand about people revealing identities over and over is a but much. Give them time to respond, or not. Good grief!

  24. Donn says:

    I think the two most important pages on this site are the “Documents” page, which is just filled with actually facts, and “The Void”, but only the people listed who for sure have left for the stated reason of things being amiss. If all we do is take those two pages and what they contain, it’s clear that there is a major problem, even without the twit pics, gambling stuff, etc.

    • Vin Chalkerton says:

      Has there been any evidence that the full list of people on The Void have left because of “things being amiss”? Do most of the people on that list have anything to do with this site at all? Did they give permission for their photos and names to be used to lend credibility to the accusations/perspective being presented here? Have any of them actually leveled charges of wrongdoing or sinful misbehavior at Harvest and James MacDonald? Here’s a better thought… have all of those people, including Joseph M. Stowell III, seen a church or a pastor engaged in financial recklessness, deliberate secrecy and habitual sin, and then been totally content to leave without saying a thing about it to the congregation at large? And then to list Harvest as part of their past resume and accomplishments, knowing that it’s a ticking timebomb? Are the hundreds of current mature Christian staff persons at Harvest all a bunch of dupes with no discernment or spine? Something doesn’t add up here. This is a hatchet job, and you need look no further than the fact that images that James MacDonald posted HIMSELF on his OWN public Twitter account are being used to suggest he’s SNEAKING AROUND in DARK GLASSES at CASINOS. Next you’re going to tell me he drank a beer while he was visiting Ireland… oh, my!

      • factchecker says:

        I think that is a fascinating question for the authors to answer. Did all of the people you posted pictures of on the The Void page give you permission to post their pictures which implies endorsement and have any of them asked to have their information removed?

      • Donn says:


        It’s a good point, and a good question. There is a partial answer, as some of those on The Void have indeed written in and posted their backing of the origins of this website.


        I think maybe all comments should be closed perhaps removed and any nonproof of gambling be removed, including pics. Let things that are factual stand, and things that cannot be proven not stay. I also think that if they do, some people will complain that comments are closed at the same time they suggest that it would be best if comments were closed.

      • Donn says:

        Vin, no is the answer the question about the people on The Void, which is why I suggested that only the people known to have left for reasons that this website covers should be listed. Most will probably choose to never speak out via this forum. It is tough not to speculate. I, for one, wonder why GZ would leave HBF to got start an almost identical thing in the same area, involving some of the every people no longer with HBF. I think this is fact, though: 4 churches have left HBF. That should be a concern to the leadership, I would think.

      • anonymous says:

        “This is a hatchet job, and you need look no further than the fact that images that James MacDonald posted HIMSELF on his OWN public Twitter account are being used to suggest he’s SNEAKING AROUND in DARK GLASSES at CASINOS.”

        Just real quick and while my imagination runs away with me, clearly if James MacDonald posted those pictures of himself, which he did, there are a few possibilities: Either he doesn’t see what he was doing as wrong or he was at the casino for another reason, saw this guy with the beard, and invited a picture with him. Dark glasses are merely another clue. If you’ve ever been to a poker room, watched poker on t.v., whatever, lots of guys/gals wear glasses to cover their eyes. So I don’t think there was any ‘sneaking’ around involved at all.

        Just merely a ‘persona’ put on while gambling. There is nothing unharmful about changing or masking yourself into someone else while you gamble or having a pastor post pictures of himself at a casino gambling. This is bad on both counts. I love James and his teaching. A lot. I’m sorry but I need to personally know if this is true or not. I need to know if the man behind the pulpit isn’t wearing another mask I don’t know about.

      • I think it’s safe to assume that those listed on The Void are well informed as to their names being listed on this site (and specifically that page) ALONG WITH LINKS TO HELP YOU FIND THEIR CONTACT INFO should you desire to do so. And if that’s the case, if they weren’t comfortable, I would bet the farm (excuse the pun) that they would ask to be removed from that list if they were uncomfortable with this site and the information found herein. If you wonder, why don’t you ask them? I think sound reasoning would suggest they stand behind the site and the idea that things are not well at HBC/HBF.

        • factchecker says:

          Funny how confident you are about that yet the authors of this blog stay silent, yet again… I would love to take your bet on that, but I don’t gamble.

    • Vin Chalkerton says:

      Additionally, why is it somehow sinister that MacDonald has EXPANDED the elder board, drawing from a BROADER segment of the congregation? Isn’t it usually a red flag when information and power are being permanently concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, NOT when more people are being invited in to see and hear what is going on? If MacDonald’s behavior before the elder board has been so atrocious and there’s so much to cover up and hide from the church, what would he have to gain by bringing more elders on board on a rotating basis? That doesn’t add up, either. At all.

  25. Greg says:

    It’s impossible to overemphasize the need to think biblically on this and 1 Timothy 5:17-25 is one passage that speaks very specifically to these circumstances:
    (A) Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. (v. 17)
    (B) Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. (v. 19)
    (C) As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. (v. 20)
    (D) In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. (v. 21)
    (E) Do not […] take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure. (v. 22)
    (F) The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. (v. 24)
    (G) So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden. (v. 25)

  26. Sally Gerschefske says:

    Being a 501C all members are partner co-owners of the debt. That is why responsibility is so important. Whether he gambles or not, he should not be judged as long at it is his own money. The same goes for the attendees. But being seen in a casino on a regular basis and having money problems should raise a red flag however. If he is indeed having problem, he needs to be prayed for, asked to recieve help, but most of all he needs to recieve the love of God, his mercy and forgiveness. If he does not your entire ministry will fall apart. With the love of God restoration can happen. I am sure there are others in he membership who have similar struggles. I think the witness you set forth to all is how you handle this situation. Actully you have a profound chance to show the love of God to the outside looking in.
    The outside of the church loves to see this kind of problem get out of hand and then turn others away from Christ. Pray, Pray, pray, tell Satan to go south, take your hands off your pastor and stop the stirrings in the church. Confrontation, Confession, and then God’s love can lead to total restoration if need be.
    This is your option: It is YOUR CHOICE, the Love of God or the disaster Satan can do to your ministry.
    I have seen many churches get destroyed through this kind of thing. Remember forgiveness needs to come from BOTH SIDES.
    I am hoping to see a good end to this situation. Through Christ all things are possible!!
    Love your Lord God, and Love your brother. The unchurched is watching. We are in desperate need for them to see the Love of God!!! Now time is of the essence.
    To Pastor McDonald. please seach your own heart, if need be repent, confess ask for forgiveness, and allow a process to accur so others may see. If this is true you must be honest or you will be responsible for driving many away from the Lord. I pray that is not true. You have accomplished much don’t let Satan and his hold on you right destroy everything. There is healing availble. Congrgation like Jesus told the people who were about to stone the sinful women to death,” Let the man who has not sinned throw the first stone.”
    Would it not be wonderful to hear a testimony on how a congregation of believers helped their repentant pastor back to the fold with all out trust on the news? That could make a wonderful example!! I hope you all congregation and pastor work this out. Love you all in Christ.
    The future of many souls depends on all of you.
    Exposure is good, but only to bring healing not destruction.

  27. Gary says:

    The real issue Josh is that apprantly in the past, the elders spoke to James about this issue and he agreed to stop. But then, he didn’t. Of course, that reaveals the real issue behind everything on this site: James is accountable to no one.

  28. Traveler says:

    It beggars belief that people believe it is “protecting the church” to cover up sin. The untold victims of these kinds of cover-ups, be they gambling related or sexual or abuse related, are known only to God. Why? Because nobody listens to them in this life. The truly corrupt state of evangelical churches now is staggering, and we see only the tip of the iceberg. If anybody wants to know why God gave this country over to judgment in leadership in Washington, look no further than the corrupt state of the local churches. Clean house or turn the lights off and go home.

  29. anonymous says:

    I agree and disagree with you Josh. Poker is a game of skill and honestly I don’t think I would have much of a problem with this if the Pastors from Harvest got together and played a weekend game at someone’s house. James is clearly in a casino and the last time I checked casinos aren’t in the business of playing for fun. Unless a pastor is walking through a casino handing out Gospel tracts ( which they’d be thrown out in short order ) they have no business joining in any gambling in any casino. I’ve heard James give good sermons on the sin of gambling. That he would exempt himself from his own words on the subject is completely shocking to me and truly depressing. James is a great teacher but to consider that he is blinded to his own sin, in this regard, is beyond comprehension to me.

  30. Followerof1 says:

    The point is this. Pastor James and the Harvest Staff can put all these allegations to rest immediately if they would come before the congregation with substantive proof, and answer ALL the concerns about salary , debt, ER2, the staff etc. But that isn’t happening , and I have doubts about whether it will.
    Also gambling may not be specifically called out in scripture, but shouldn’t the Senior Pastor and Staff be held to a higher standard, without even the whisper of something improper? Especially when their income is provided by the Church, meaning the congregation? And all their so called income streams come from the fact that they are ministers of the Gospel. This type of thing is exactly why the World looks at the Church and laughs.

    • Gary says:

      Yes, the “pastor” should be held to a higher standard, especially since he preached against gambling. This is all quite sad and appears headed towards a tragic ending. By the way, since Dallas Jenkins was mentioned in the post, does anyone else know who Dallas’ father is? And, what board of trustees his father is the President of? Interesting stuff.

  31. Rebekah Callahan says:

    This needs to stop , you guys need to stop . Sowing discord among brothers and sisters is very serious . Probably more serious than gambling, owning expensive things , being in debt , or having a large salary. You are not just attacking James, you are attacking every person who calls HBC their church home. It is creating division , doubt and animosity between people who previously were able to go and worship with integrity, glean wisdom from Gods Word and share in fellowship and accountability with other believers. You are destroying witness to unbelievers . Please stop. Don’t worry about the 80% . We have the Holy Spirit who will bring all things to light , you two are not Him. Or don’t you trust God at His Word????

    • justasheep7 says:

      @Rebekah I hear your heart for wanting to protect the church, but in this case your approach is 100% wrong and unbiblical. I hope these men, and others who would bring to light the apostasy, hypocrisy and lack of discernment would be encouraged, would persevere in bringing the truth to light. From everything I have seen here, and from my own experience, many have gone privately to James and the elders with their concerns and pointing out these sins but have been rebuffed by James and dismissed by the elders. Several elders have left who refused to go along, I respect those men that put the Gospel before their position in a large and influential church. The Holy Spirit prompts men to speak the truth in love – and it is love for the Gospel and love for the Church that I believe is driving these men to expose the sin that is overshadowing the ministry at HBC.

      The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
      (1 Timothy 3:1-7 ESV)

      By the testimony presented on this site it is clear that James needs to repent of a love of money, and from some of the other behavious possibly other sin as well. If he truly loves the Lord, he must repent of these things. If he truly loves the Lord’s church he must step down from his position as a pastor and elder at Harvest.

    • Angela S says:

      Rebekah you are confused – the authors of this site are not “sowing discord” – they are speaking the truth, exposing sin, standing for righteousness, and calling for repentance. According to your analysis you would have to say that the following people also were “sowing discord” : Isaiah, Jeremiah, Elisha, Elijah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, John the Baptist, Paul,…. and many more!

      It is very sad and heartbreaking to see the doubt, confusion, and ruined witness – but you are blaming the wrong people – you are doing what many people do – you are blaming the messenger. Remember in 1 Kings 18:17-18 King Ahab felt the same way – when he saw Elijah he called him the “troubler of Israel” but Elijah corrected him and replied “”I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, because you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD”.

      This is very difficult for everyone including the messengers -it is true that they are not the Holy Spirit – but they are the tool the Holy Spirit is using mow just as He used His prophets in days gone by – and only a bad shepherd would “not worry about the 80%” – a person who really loves the sheep does not walk away without warning them about the wolf! …- The best thing to do is pray that the Lord would soften hearts, open eyes, and cause true repentance to take place.

      • factchecker says:

        Angela – There is much you say that is correct, but I would challenge you to really look at this site and see if there are pure intentions. And to compare its authors to Elijah and Isaiah is absurd. The author of this site uses underhanded techniques to try to further his point. Not a single person you quoted would have never twisted facts or allowed untruthful accusations to see the light of day. Based on the authors actions, I find it reprehensible for you to compare them to some of the greatest men in the Bible. And to be clear, I don’t defend James like the authors of this blog try to say, I simply don’t see Christ like values being lived out through this website.

        At one time, you could argue that intentions were noble. Now, we post pictures on a blog, ask for help in identifying them, search poker directories and find out the CFO “could” be the person on the list. I commend the authors for the initial work they put into this site. But I think people are wondering about the authors motives as this digresses into a crowd sourced witch hunt. If there are facts, then present them. If you are guessing, I think it is best not to drive people from church and undermine the evangelical church as has been happening on this blog.

        • Exactly what is “uses underhanded techniques to try to further his point”? Name one, be specific. And what is wrong with “ask for help in identifying them, search poker directories and find out the CFO “could” be the person on the list”. This is investigative work and they are doing a fine job of connecting the dots! You think Federal, State or City law enforcement, or journalists would do any less or more than what is being done here?

        • factchecker says:

          Yvonne, – I only have a little time to get into this, but here are some ways in which this site is so very lacking in integrity…

          1. Deleting some comments and not being transparent in doing so. How do you know what is being censored and what is not. This site is filled with support for the authors point of view. How do you know 80% of comments are not in support of Harvest and contradict the author and are simply suppressed? You don’t and neither do I, but I know at least some comments have been hidden from public view and that makes me question how much is being hidden by the author in order to look so convincing.

          2. By choosing to bypass any validation on posters identity. There have been wild claims and accusations thrown out here and the author has purposely allowed those people to stay anonymous. After I have raised this point to the author, you see he has not responded once to this topic, Instead, he shifted the discussion to try to paint me as a James supporter. Of which, I have never once defended a SINGLE thing that is claimed here. People will say you can create a fake Facebook page, well yes, and that again begs the question why people are so fearful of putting their name on accusations. If you really have such strong facts, I would guess you don’t attend Harvest and therefore why is anyone scared to put their name behind accusations?

          3. I don’t have a screen shot of the page, but there was someone in one of the comments that provided some version that was very different than what the author had said. If you notice, all of those comments were taken down by the author and the website was not changed. This point is less strong because I didn’t think the author was going to delete/hide comments so I have no proof of this one like I do with the previous 2 points.

          4. Instead of addressing points raised about the integrity of the site, the author has chosen to paint me as a supporter of James. This is simple mob theory to get people to paint someone negatively when that wasn’t even one of my points. Again, look at every single comment I have posted. While sarcastic and with offbeat humor I have pointed out major flaws with this site, I have never contested James or Harvest’s role in this. I simply think if you really have pure motives, you would be able to be without reproach like you expect from James.

          5. He makes wild leaps from simple things that have no way of being proven at this point only to let the anonymous crowd take it from there. A picture from James in a casino has delved into the entire leadership staff at harvest being avid gamblers. We crowd source names and motives as though it is our right. I have no idea if Fred Adams gambles, but in your own numbers, there is a less than 50% chance that it is the CFO of Harvest, but in presenting this in this way, it leaves the common person under the assumption that Fred Adams from Harvest has a gambling problem.

          I could go on, but I won’t. Thinks like shutting down a pages comments to “summarize” and “move” to a new page. It is a trick that has been used for 15 years from BBS’s to message boards through the history of the internet. Here is the trick you can use when you don’t like the direction something is going and you want to redirect attention somewhere different. You allow your point of view to be placed at the end of a comment string. Best timing is if you can get a couple of supporting comments at the end. Then you close the comment string and leave it viewable. That way, everyone that goes to that page will always read the comments with the authors point of view as the closing argument. Then you move everything to a new page. People don’t go back and read the previous page and anyone continuing the conversation on the new page looks out of context. Then you can redirect people back to your point of view without the inconvenient baggage that someone was bringing up on another page. It is called passive censoring and is quite effective on avoiding certain topics.

          Now I will be done. Paint me as a James supporter if you will, but I haven’t even commented on the content of this site. If you want to publicly call someone out for not being above reproach, I just think for the sake of your own integrity, that you would hold yourself to at least the same level of accountability.

    • J Crane says:

      Rebekkah (and FactChecker),
      I’m glad that justasheep7 already listed 1Timothy 3:1-7. Please read the whole chapter of Proverbs 6. Your comments about ‘sowing discord’ should be directed at the Harvest leadership and primarily Pastor James. I was in shock too when our family first discovered the issues of missing leadership (the Void) and now the huge debt. All we got for answers from our current leaders was 1. blame shifting, saying that this website was a pack of lies and the guys are ‘sowing discord’; and 2. playing the martyr, please pray for us because we are under attack.
      If you read through the “Power” section of this website and understand the issue, it seems clear that it was Pastor James that caused the discord, possible with haughty eyes. And I know I was deceived with his tongue as he stood before the men’s prayer meeting that night and gave a far different impression and reason why “the Void” left.
      Rebekkah, most of those that attend Harvest do indeed have the Holy Spirit. But most of those who have left or are planning to leave Harvest have the Spirit ALSO, and so do the guys providing this website. Seeking the truth as the Spirit “brings all things to light” is important for all of us. But many have made the point on this website and the related bloodstainedink website that the Spirit may be quenched and grieved because of secrecy and intimidation. Do our current leaders at Harvest “trust God’s word” about telling the truth? Then why won’t they answer to let the WHOLE congregation know about 1. S. Furtick and TD Jakes, 2. the real debt and budget including salaries, 3. the change in Harvest goverance? Leaving or planning to leave Harvest is not because of sown discord from the guys that run this website. Check the facts.

      • FactChecker:
        You wrote: “This site is filled with support for the authors point of view. How do you know 80% of comments are not in support of Harvest and contradict the author and are simply suppressed?”

        Comments are subjective as is yours above. The authors have provided PROOF in documentation of the incredibly debt, pictures of a Pastor in a casino. Think hard now, quickly accrued, exorbitant debt and a man with a “reported” gambling problem. They do go together. Who would know of, investigate or report such suspicious activity like massive debt and reported gambling problem but insiders?

        Your comments are unidentified, untempered, unsubstantiated vitriol; if the authors wanted to censor comments yours would be the first to go.

        • factchecker says:

          I must say, Yvonne, your comments make me smile. While I have many comments to your rant, I will stick with only the constructive ones. You have now linked the Harvest debt to a picture of James in a casino. That is why sites like this destroy the moral fabric of our society. NOT because of the original theme of this site, but because of the bitterness and resentment that is so very apparent. You really want to go there? That James has now stolen $65 million dollars and gambled it away. This site and its readers are losing credibility by the minute. Now this truly is the most asinine comment I have read yet. I can guarantee you no one is going to support you on this accusation.

          And as far as your comments that refer to me as untempered and have unsubstantiated vitriol, WOW! Because I point out the deceptive practices of this site. As I have had to do while each of you accuses me of being a James supporter, filled with vitriol, and untempered, please cite one example. Every Single comment I have made can be substantiated by fact on this site. I have not ONCE commented on James, Gambling or debt.

          I know you really want to prove your point and present me as a Harvest company man, or someone filled with vitriol or even suggest that my questions are “nonsensical”, but it doesn’t work. Read my comments, point to one single vitriolic comment. Point to one instance where I defended anyone including James. Point to one unsubstantiated claim. Please, because every detail I have commented on has turned out to be true. That this site lacks integrity and you have done an amazing job of proving that for me. Thank you for that.

    • Gary says:

      Blindly following a celebrity who has embraced the heresy of modalism and is now trying to use the gospel to get rich is also serious stuff.

  32. Donn says:

    Josh, if gambling were just a game of skill similar to trading stocks, it would not be illegal in many, many states.

  33. Lisa says:

    Are the pictures still there? I thought another reader said they were removed? If so, it begs the question why?

  34. stephmurray says:

    After reading Harvest’s statement on their website, it is glaringly obvious to me that the entire model of doing church and our ideas of the roles of leadership within the church is just so badly messed up. Nothing resembles the pattern of the early New Testament church. Since when were the elders decision makers on behalf of the church? Since when were elders salaried? Since when was a whistle blower policy needed (and then only available for paid staffers to use?). This is an indictment on evangelical mainstream churchianity, and not just Harvest church. It is shameful. 😦

  35. Carol says:

    The possibility of a gambling culture being tolerated at Harvest Bible Chapel must be investigated thoroughly, and either refuted or substantiated. Obviously, these initial findings are troubling. More evidence and documentation needs to be provided, which I hope will be forthcoming (either falsifying or verifying).
    A general observation: Gambling is a serious vice that is addictive in nature for many people across all walks of life. There is a real danger to the soul when the craving for gambling takes hold. The drive to win big, or the desperation to make up the losses, sometimes tempts people to find sources of income that are not their own. This is what happens out there in the world:
    Because of the terrible fruit of gambling, all Christian churches should be careful to ensure that this stumbling block is not ruining the ministry and life of their own.

  36. factchecker says:

    Out of curiosity or just “transparency”, why do you continually turn comments on and off on your blog? If you really want to encourage conversation like you state, you seem to selectively choose the conversations you allow. I think most would prefer no comments at all vs censored comments where we don’t know how much of the conversation you are censoring.

    • Factchecker … In this case, we turned off the previous comments under “Recent Developments (6 Nov)” because the conversation was summarized and added to through “Recent Developments (7 Nov).” So we left all the comments under the previous update as they were, turned off that comment section, and moved the discussion forward.

      • factchecker says:

        So why not force people to register via Facebook to post comments on this site? Why allow people to make accusations without having the integrity of signing their name to their accusations? The facts may prove everything you say is true, but all of the confidential stories and anonymous comments degrade the validity of this site to nothing more than a Christian At least you have signed your name to this blog, but your shoot first and ask for validation later is odd for someone quoting so much scripture. I mean, really? Posting pictures and asking for help in identifying people in them to insinuate that James is consumed by money. All from a picture? Again, you might be right, but what if you are wrong? And by your own admission you don’t know all the facts. As you sow discord in this church body, remember that doing so is an abomination to God. So, for your sake, I hope you are 100% right on your guesses.

        • Dear “Factchecker,”

          Please tell me that you are catching the deeply humorous irony of your demand for disclosure of identities while you (1) are using a pseudonym and (2) are defending a church leader that was dragged kicking and screaming to disclose to his own congregation that they are tens of millions of dollars in debt.

        • factchecker says:

          First of all, in no way am I defending him. I have no idea whatsoever if anything you say is true. But, I am willing to admit that. And let’s be clear, I haven’t made any accusations short of pointing out where you have been less than upfront or ethical in your approach. Again, you twist ever so slightly the truth to support your desired outcome.

          I would happily sign in via Facebook as soon as you make that very simple switch to require it on all commenting. I have nothing to hide as I simply think you choose things like omitting real name validation to further salacious comments.

          Quite honestly, my heart breaks for this situation. Either way, no one on here knows the whole truth, and most certainly I do not. I am just frustrated by your lack of integrity in how you run this site and finally felt compelled to say something. I just wonder whether you have something personally against James or if you really do all of this for the good of the church.

          I guess my question still hangs out there: why don’t you require people to stand behind their comments with at least their real name?

        • Lisa says:

          Dear FactChecker
          Why would revealing a FaceBook account make a comment any more genuine? It could be still be 100% false.
          I am assuming that by your name “FactChecker” that you are interesting in Facts.
          That’s what myself and probably everyone here is interested in. What are the real facts? I think the owners of the site have made it very clear that what they are bringing up (in this newest gambling issue) are allegations. What’s wrong with that? If their allegations are found to be false, then you win the day. But what if this is fact? Why should this not be brought to public attention? If these pics. were indeed on James Twitter account it certainly raises red flags. Why should these pastors not be held accountable and investigated and scrutinized? If they are doing what is right, then they have no worries. I think that we will find in time that the facts are going to sort themselves out.

        • factchecker says:

          Good question Lisa. By forcing you to use Facebook to log in, you have to use your real name. That is why a majority of sites on the I internet use things like Facebook to validate identity. Then people think twice about just saying something inflammatory because they actually have to stand behind it.

        • Donn says:

          People make and use fake facebook accounts all the time, factchecker. Checking in through facebook changes nothing.

        • Gary says:

          Reveal true identities so that “pastor” (LOL) James can harrass, intimidate, bully, and villify even more people? I wish I lived in your world.

        • Gary says:

          Factchecker, I think the point that you and others keep missing is this: Everything on this site can’t simply be reduced to the animosity and ramblings of two bloggers. It’s based on the testimony of numerous people who were close to James for over a decade. But, I’m sure you’re right. ALL of those people are misguided, and James is perfect.

        • factchecker says:

          Gary – Fascinating perspective. Paint anyone who points out fault with the authors as those who believe, “ALL of those people are misguided, and James is perfect.” Which at least from my perspective is untrue. BUT, I cannot comprehend how this site does not hold the authors and commentors to the same level of accountability and being above reproach! I seek facts, not accusations. I would like restoration of the Church body not a witch hunt. Can you honestly say that this site is meant to build the church and there is not a trace of bitterness found within?? 100% pure motives? I think not. I am kind of sick of the bandwagon, crowd mentality driving the acceptance of allegations on a public website without any supporting facts. Is that really honoring to Jesus Christ. Is that what we are called to do? Look back in the comments, people are truly defending the airing of unproven accusations in a public forum. I commend the research/time that went into the original work, but this has digressed substantially and seems now to be okay with hearsay and speculation.

        • Gary says:

          Fact, I’m inclined to believe the authors of this site for several reasons. But it really boils down to the legal concept of corroboration. Even way back when I was a WITW supporter, I was bothered by James’ tone and the fact I felt he used his pulpit as a bully pulpit. I also understand human nature. Every one of us needs to be held accountable as our hearts are wicked and deceitful. Have you ever read the classic work of literature, Animal Farm? Power corrupts and people need to be held accountable. So for me, I was bothered by the bully pulpit and the way he talked to his congregation (HEY HEY, LISTEN UP!!). He talked to them like some people talk to their 3 years old children. Secondly, there was the circus of the ER and ER2. Plus, there was outright deception around that. James and Bryan Loritts specifically played the race card, saying that the criticism of Jakes was because he was black. Then, less than a week later, James was on Moody Radio and said “I’m troubled that race was brought into the issue.” I was floored by the outright attempt to deceive. Next, the way Harvest has become all about money. The messages designed to shake down people for more money, in the name of the church, would have made Johann Tetzel proud. Next, I’ve been around enough churches to know that when several long standing elders / ministry leaders leave within a short time period, something’s up. Thus, I was not really surprised when I read the documentation (BTW, that’s key that it’s documentation and not merely opinion) on this site. It fit right in with everything else I had observed about James over the years.

  37. Anonymous says:

    I was wondering if anyone attending the Elephant Room remembers anything about the particular session that this comment refers to, regarding the Elephant Room, on James MacDonald’s blog?

    It’s about 7-8 comments down. And certainly there are many, many, James MacDonald’s but has anyone simply Googled James MacDonald playing poker, which is where I found the blog comment.

    I have to also say that I’ve wrestled with posting this. James MacDonald has been a surrogate pastor to me through his radio and online ministry. Honestly, I’m not certain I care much about how he spends his spare time, but, gambling, for money, would be disturbing to me on many levels.

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