The Latest on Harvest Naples: A Lie, a Hack, and Who’s Running the Church?

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As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, Harvest Bible Chapel (HBC) has told two different narratives to two different audiences concerning the recent firing of Pastor John Secrest from HBC Naples—the church Secrest planted in 2016.

In Chicago, on January 19-20, a very mournful group of elders admitted “shortcomings” concerning Secrest’s “termination” and pledged to try and “move forward in a healthy way.” However, in Naples, elder Fred Ananias reportedly didn’t even tell the congregation that Secrest had been fired. He simply said it had been a hard week and encouraged people to come to him or elder Scott Stonebreaker with their questions.

That silence was a glaring omission. But now there’s evidence that Ananias lied.

As I reported in WORLD Magazine, Ananias was the one who visited Secrest at his home on January 18 and fired him in person. This happened just hours after Secrest had sent an email to his congregation, expressing his objection to Harvest’s decision to allow James MacDonald, Harvest’s embattled celebrity pastor, to preach in Naples during his “indefinite sabbatical.” Secrest also told his congregation that he had asked Harvest to return HBC Naples to independent governance. (HBC Naples had signed a ministry agreement in September making it a wholly-owned subsidiary of Harvest.)

“When Harvest placed MacDonald on sabbatical three weeks ago . . . the church said it was entering a ‘peacemaking process.’ Yet there’s been nothing conciliatory about Harvest’s handling of Secrest and HBC Naples.”

Mike Housewert, who began attending HBC Naples shortly after Christmas, told me that before services on January 20, he talked to Ananias one-on-one and expressed his concern over Secrest’s firing. Housewert said Ananias then told him that Secrest had not been fired but had left of his own accord.

I emailed Ananias, specifically asking him about Housewert’s account, but he did not respond.

However, Debra Szemplinski, who also attended services in Naples on January 20, said a security volunteer likewise told her that Secrest had not been fired, but had willfully resigned. In addition, the letter Ananias and the other Naples leaders sent to the Naples congregation never stated that Secrest had been fired either. Instead, it claimed that Secrest “no longer desires to work for Harvest Bible Chapel,” and it has “become clear that he should not continue in his role.”

Another disturbing report involves Secrest’s private Facebook account.

Secrest told me that immediately after he sent the fateful email to his congregation on January 18, he was locked out of his Harvest email account. Yet two days later, he received notification from Facebook that someone had used his Harvest email to hack into his private Facebook page. For 20 minutes, Seacrest said he was shut out of his own Facebook account, and someone had access to all his private messages and information.

Secrest said he reported the Facebook hacking to authorities, who are investigating. 

When Harvest placed MacDonald on sabbatical three weeks ago due to ongoing allegations of bullying, deception, and financial misconduct, the church said it was entering a “peacemaking process.” Yet there’s been nothing conciliatory about Harvest’s handling of Secrest and HBC Naples.

I talked to Secrest this past weekend, and he confirmed that there has been no attempt by Harvest to reconcile with him. Instead, Harvest officially removed Secrest as an officer of HBC Naples on January 23 and changed the church address from Secrest’s home to the building the church is renting for services.

According to the official state of Florida website, the only two officers of HBC Naples now are Scott Stonebreaker and Fred Ananias. 

Who’s Running HBC Naples?

Over the past couple weeks, I have repeatedly tried to get updates from Harvest on what’s happening with Secrest and HBC Naples, but Harvest says it won’t comment while its “peacemaking process is underway.” However, several sources have told me that Harvest has returned HBC Naples to local governance, as Secrest requested several weeks ago.

One of them is Aaron Tull—a Naples resident who began attending HBC Naples in March of 2018 but recently left the church over Secrest’s firing. Tull said Travis Doucette, HBC Naples worship and leadership development pastor, told him that Harvest in Chicago had returned the church to its previous independence. However, Tull said Doucette told him that the church has no intention of bringing Secrest back, but instead is looking for a new pastor.

I called Doucette to try and confirm Tull’s report, but he hung up on me as soon as I identified myself. I also have emailed both HBC Naples elders—Scott Stonebreaker and Fred Ananias— but neither has responded. Both are still listed on Harvest’s website as members of Harvest’s 34-member elder board.

I also have contacted Doug and Joyce Bartholomew, the owners of the building that HBC Naples reportedly is leasing for $10/year. Neither was willing to speak with me.

“Yet even if HBC Naples has become independent from Harvest in Chicago, there’s no indication that its remaining leadership is independent from MacDonald.”

However, Joyce Bartholomew tweeted last week: “. . . we are not part of HBC Chicago. We are HBC Naples.” When I asked her if that meant that Harvest had returned HBC Naples to local governance, she would not answer the question.

Scott Stonebreaker and James MacDonald during a week of golfing in England.

Yet even if HBC Naples has become independent from Harvest in Chicago, there’s no indication that its remaining leadership is independent from MacDonald.

Naples Elder Scott Stonebreaker went on a week-long golf trip in England with MacDonald last July. Also, Doug Bartholomew sent an accusatory email to John Secrest on January 22. Among his accusations was an assertion that Secrest refused to “submit to biblical elder leadership, while joining those who oppose James McDonald (sic).”

Bartholomew also accused Secrest of claiming “not to have known about the controversy around MacDonald when actually we talked about it in our earliest discussions.”

Secrest responded that he had been aware of the problems at Harvest, which are documented at The Elephant’s Debt, for several years. However, at the time of the merger in September, he said he was not aware of my investigation of Harvest, nor of the lawsuit against me and four others, “which (Harvest) had certainly been contemplating before (HBC Naples) signed the ministry agreement.”

Secrest said he doesn’t want to share anymore details about the events leading up to the merger publicly until he’s had a chance to talk face-to-face with his former congregation. He said he sent a letter to Stonebreaker and Ananias this past weekend requesting a congregational meeting, but has not yet heard back from them. 

Many at HBC Naples Remain in the Dark

Much of the congregation in Naples seems unaware of the issues with MacDonald and Harvest. Xochytl Rodriguez-Cantu, who began attending HBC Naples in November, told me that she knew nothing about the current controversy. She added that she knew elders had put MacDonald on an indefinite “sabbatical,” but didn’t know why.

Carolyn Housewert, Mike Housewert’s wife, said she was ignorant of issues with MacDonald when the couple first started attending HBC Naples several weeks ago. Housewert said she initially liked the church so much that she brought about 10 friends to HBC Naples. Then, when she shared her enthusiasm about the church with friends from out of state, they forwarded articles critical of MacDonald to her, which made her feel “sick.” Now, she said she doesn’t think she and her husband can stay at the Naples church.

Tull said he became aware of the lawsuit MacDonald and Harvest had filed when he googled MacDonald’s name last October. He said the lawsuit concerned him, but it didn’t seem to concern anybody else at church. Most, he said, didn’t even know about it.  

Randy Huizinga and his girlfriend, Elizabeth D’Acquisto, said they didn’t know anything about the lawsuit or other issues until very recently. This, despite the fact that they were among the original core group that started the church.

However, in January, Huizinga said a friend sent him the WORLD article I had written, as well as news of the church’s lawsuit. “We kind of felt like a bomb blew up,” D’Acquisto said. Yet the couple said they were planning to stay at the church until Harvest fired Secrest. For them, that was the last straw.

Secrest’s firing was the final straw for Tull, too. Yet he added that he’s been “shocked” at how many people have been willing to accept it. 

Evidently, a sizable number of the congregation has not been willing to accept what’s happened to Secrest, though. The church, which had been running two services on Sunday morning, has returned to just one.

I will continue to report updates as they become available.


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48 thoughts on “The Latest on Harvest Naples: A Lie, a Hack, and Who’s Running the Church?”

  1. Good reporting, Julie, please keep exposing the truth, the naive and uninformed must be awakened so James MacDonald will be stopped from fleecing the flock

  2. I can only imagine what was discussed on that golfing trip! Why would he take a harvest Naples elder on a golf trip? All you hear from Harvest is God did this God did that, yet all you see is man plans of scheming, wheeling and dealing, no different than a secular corporation. They need to account for how this trip was paid for!!

  3. Stonebreaker is from Illinois – Harvest Elgin. Ananias is from Harvest Peoria. Looks like when Harvest takes over a church, Harvest puts in it’s own Elders to make sure things are done the Harvest way.
    Makes it easier for Harvest Rolling Meadows to control things.

    1. Is that true? Both Scott and Fred are from Illinois and transplanted to Naples? That is so fishy it’s unreal. If this is confirmed news, that needs more digging as well. It seems so planned and twisted, it’s disturbing.

      1. Did HBC pay for the move, relocation and housing for the two transplant elders from IL to FL? It is SOP for corporate America.

  4. Also Burned in Deerfield

    According to Harvest bylaws there are only two ways to become (and stay) a fake-elder:

    1. Be a complete spineless MacDonald
    sycophant yes-man.

    2. Be a complete spineless MacDonald sycophant yes-man, **and** – because most of the men at Harvest already crush this qualification (he hasn’t been there for nearly 30 years for nothing) – start writing very large checks to Harvest and start a bromance with The Grifter King MacDonald himself by taking him on gambling trips to Vegas, or golf trips to Europe, or motorcycle trips to Sturges, or buy him a deer park, or give him real estate, or…. God knows what else he does or enjoys (besides grossly enriching the entire MacDonald family and his inner circle) when he’s not “working” his 45-minute Harvest workweek for a few months a year.

    What an absolute and utter disgrace: MacDonald & Harvest, Incorporated.

  5. Thanks for sticking with this story, Julie.

    Two questions that anyone who still attends Harvest should be asking:

    1. Who paid for that golf trip?

    2. Will Fred Ananias be held accountable for lying?

    1. I know another elder who went on a golf trip in Europe with James last summer. I’m assuming a whole group of them went. No clue about how the trip was funded.

  6. ElephanTitus,

    We have read your blog. We sense you are giving a sight edge of belief to James or John. James can be very convincing. He has developed that skill just like you mentioned how poker is a game of skill. The more you play the better you get. James is well skilled in game of stroking people. You aren’t the first multi-millionaire he has been able to smooth talk. Heard of the Green family (Hobby Lobby) or Van Kampen family? No doubt you stand to reap the same tax benefit just like these two families have done by properties they have given to non-profit like HBC. It is wonderful the facilities that many Churches have because of the these two families.

    To the question of James’ home. You have heard the saying “figures don’t lie but liar’s figure.” We think the think to help settle this argument is what is the assessed valuation? Someone mentioned in another blog that it had an assessed valuation of over $4,000,000. If that is true the home is much better than 5000 square feet. I have no idea of the location of the home in Kane County but the land values aren’t the same as Naples. From the area view I don’t see any beach around.

    As far as John’s House – we assume you have read through the blogs about why James’ home is an issue. Not sure that the people in Florida had the same issue with John’s starter home. We don’t know what John’s past with home ownership was. Did he come in as a cash buyer or have a big down payment. Having a starter home located in a “gated community that rivals the nicest in Florida’s wealthiest community,” as you stated sounds like a good buy. Bottom line you comparing apples and oranges as to why the home is an issue. I don’t know new construction cost there but where I live it is hard to keep it under $150. a square foot for a $200,000.00 home. At $177 a square foot and as nice as you say…. good buy?

    Poker as you stated is a game of skill. Personally, we have no interest in playing poker. We do have friend’s that are skilled players. Again, the bottom line is the skill. You only develop that skill one way – playing poker. We don’t know the size of the buy-ins that MacDonald play in but one of his playing partner’s and former HBC employee is documented on a website competing in games with a buy in as high as $2500.00. Knowing MacDonald’s BIG personality he doesn’t (remember what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas) or didn’t play .25-$1.00 games. We stand to be corrected.

    Again, thanks for the blog, we don’t see you jumping head first into the MacDonald camp and without a doubt John Secrest isn’t the sharpest rock in the pile. If he was he would have never put himself in the position he did by joining HBC.

  7. I attend a Harvest Church. Have for 10 years now. Our church recently changed its name to continue to distance itself from JM and Harvest Chicago. I also know John Secrest and have for 3 years now. I attended Harvest Naples during the first year of its launching when my wife and I wintered in Naples. I have the utmost respect for him as a person and as a pastor. This whole deal at Harvest Naples stinks of a setup. Harvest Naples fired the wrong pastor.

    1. Not Harvest any more but “vertical church” since the HBF fiasco and still have that ridiculous logo. A shadow of its former self but the former self was a chip off the old block and no reason to think the mentality or model has changed. Attend at your own risk.

  8. Cults continuously morph and spread. It’s tough to unbrainwash people. Do your homework on cults, guys. Many people in HBC have no idea what they are involved in. Look at the red flags of cult leaders and tell me MacDonald does not fit the profile to perfection.

  9. Thank you so much for this update, Julie, and for your perseverance in getting the truth out to the world.

    Blessings to you and your family!

  10. Hey Julie this is going on in most of the churches! Why because we have forgotten
    the Cross and the King and when we do that FATHER leaves us to our own silliness.
    Which is living a non biblical life. What bothers me the most is hearing of lawsuits by
    Christians against other Christians
    Dont miss in the Scriptures after Paul talks about going to law with each other the sins
    he mentions.
    1 Cor 6:1-11

    Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? 2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? 4 If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? 5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? 6 But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers!

    7 Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? 8 No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren! 9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

    1. Rob I don’t think Harvest type crap is going on in “most” churches. The shenanigans at the megas get so much publicity that people forget that 95% of churches in the US have less than 500 members, 60% have less than 100 members and most pastors do not receive full-time pay and work a second job to get by, in contrast to the highly paid celebrity pastors.

      I hope people inside and outside America’s churches realize this and don’t lose all faith in churches.

  11. Why not publish my comments to ElephanTitus? I trying to be fair, balanced and reasonable? I use to different names when I chat. Steve and Pete.

  12. I pose these questions again:

    I wonder what the membership covenant looks like for those that join the Harvest network? And why are evangelicals so inclined to sign over their lives to these churches? Not just that, but why in the world did Secrest and his church give elders in Chicago the ability to fire their pastor? Maybe those are unfair questions to pose at this time to a congregation and pastor just shaken by a shakedown, but I think these are questions that need to be revisited in the future.

    Why is James MacDonald not held to the same church discipline “program” that his own employees and underlings would be held to? Were his sins not egregious enough? This is like Mark Driscoll and that fiasco he left behind in Seattle. How many times has Mark held his congregants to some standard, and then when he should be held to the same standard, just simply walks away from the reconciliation process?

    While the Harvest/MacDonald situation is bad enough, I feel it’s a symptom of a larger problem.

  13. Also, I just realized that there’s a Harvest campus right down the road from where I work, here in Raleigh NC. Weird.

  14. ElephanTitus,

    Someone posted that JMac’s new home had a assessed valuation for property taxes of over $4,000,000. If that is true we think you would find his home is over 5,000 square feet. Walk out
    lower level is counted as square footage.

    Vehicle – Mancow and another person have spoke to JMac’s Ford Raptor. Mancow stated JMac has
    a tricked out Ford Raptor that was over $100,000. Did you ask JMac what all his vehicles were?

    JMac home issue vs. Secrest home – if you read back through the blogs JMac had committed to down sizing his home. We think he sold one for over $2,000,000 before moving into the smaller (3800+ sq. ft) home. This was done for back lash that the leadership was getting from JMac’s lavish lifestyle. Then
    JMac goes and builds a bigger home that the $2,000,000 he sold. Now to Secrest’s home – we went and looked at real estate for sale in Naples. As you stated Secrest lives in a 3547 sq. foot home in a gated community that rivals the nicest in Florida’s wealthiest city. You state his home is worth $629,000 that is $177.00 a square foot. That would be a bargain price for what I seen the square footage price of homes and you state it is a great gated community.

    We haven’t read where the leadership of the church made issue with the Secrest’s home. The church did of JMac’s. Not knowing Secrest’s pass home ownership. Was he a cash buyer or have a big down payment. Doesn’t quite seem like his home value was out of line for the Naple’s community.
    You mentioned poker being a game of skill. We don’t play poker but have friend’s that are skilled players. From conversations with them the game does have some skill to it. Knowing the percentages of the next card, where you set in the bidding process, how good a bluffer you are, reading other people and you can list several other things. The bottom line you don’t get skilled in the game of poker without playing.

    It is documented that a former XLT member of HBC is (was) and avid poker player and has played in tournaments with the buy in as high as $2500. Now for me personally that is major money. That being said and knowing JMac’s BIG personality I doubt he played in .25-$1.00 poker games. We still see the issue of the developing the skill as you mentioned. You don’t play once a week. People speak of trips to Vegas; you know the saying “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”

    JMac is a very skilled chameleon that being who he needs to be with the crowd he is with. You aren’t the first person multi millionaire that JMac has had relationships with. We know of the Green Family and the Van Kampen Family. JMac can be what he needs to be when he needs too.

    Titus, not knowing you we are sure you can read people. You know there can’t be this much smoke around JMac and family without there being a blaze. JMac takes no hostages.

  15. Thank you for continuing to shine the lite where there is darkness in this matter. John Seacrest, from the little I know him seems to be a man of integrity.

    Perhaps it is past time for shaking the dust off the feet.

  16. Susan Vonder Heide

    All of this is a reminder to be discerning. This does not mean being eager to find flaws in leaders but it does mean being aware of the possibility that leaders can have problems and not naively assuming that all is well if a leader exhibits a lot of apparent self-confidence.

  17. Michele Veldman

    I am reading this with interest, as we have had a similar experience with a lack of elder transparency way up here in the land of God’s frozen chosen, the capital of Canada.
    Our Canadian sending church left HBF and joined Great Commission Collective with no word to the congregation, until quite a bit after the fact. While we understood the concept of an elder led church, we felt that information should be shared and we shouldn’t have to see our church plant pastor in a GCC photo to learn about the changeover, especially as we were part of the core group of a plant
    Our concern is that GCC does not follow the same path with its own flock…. We however have chosen to bow out and find a congregation where, as Leeman describes, the church members have not been fired.

  18. I was at one of Chicago HBC locations this past weekend. I was sickened to learn that the Adult Ministries Pastor of the location I attended was in Naples preaching. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that HBC Chicago is still in control of the Naples campus, as least as of February 3rd, 2019

  19. Is it just me, or do I detect a nice little set up here being orchestrated (once again) by James: Naples has been returned to autonomy, Harvest Chicago fires him, he sells his expensive house in Chicago pocketing all the cash and Naples invites him to become it’s new lead pastor. Someone else gets to clean up the mess he left behind while he and his lovely wife enjoy sunsets on the matchless Naples white sand beaches.

  20. Doug Bartholomew

    Regarding the so-called lie about Secrest resignation, I am not familiar with Harvest’s position, but there are 2 good reasons why this would not be a lie. First, it is common practice to spare terminated employees the embarrassment of publicly announcing their involuntary termination. No doubt if Ananias said Secrest was fired, the headline would be “Harvest Humiliates Persecuted Pastor”. Second and more likely, Harvest is saying that Secrest constructively resigned by refusing to perform his duties. If you google “constructive termination”, both words in quotes, it’s easy to see how that could be the case (easier for me since I’m familiar with Secrest’s reluctance to perform his duties). To be so quick to call it a lie requires a unique combination of ignorance and bias that can only be found here.
    The hack allegation is even more negligent. I am aware that Secrest ridiculously believes that his former employer accessing Secrest’s work email constitutes a hack, and this Facebook incident is very likely more of the same. Poor guy how did he go without FB for 20 whole minutes? Julie is on the case!
    To all the people who think Harvest sent some carpet-bagger elders down south, that is not what happened. They were here long before involving James with the local Naples Harvest was considered. In fact my wife and I approached Stonebreaker about using the property owned by our foundation, so the idea that Harvest Chicago sent proxies to gain control of our assets is absurd.
    The fact is an overwhelming majority of the local congregation support Scott Stonebreaker and Fred Aninias. Julie’s closing assertion that the recent drop in attendance is due to Secrest’s termination is shamelessly disingenuous. Her own World article stated there was a huge surge in attendance when MacDonald preached. The subsequent drop is a symmetric response to his absence. The long-term core group is very much intact. Doesn’t the fact that the people who live here and know the details best support the current leadership suggest the “Everything Harvest has ever done is wrong” narrative has gotten carried away?

    1. Doug, could you share in what month you & your wife approached Mr. Stonebreaker about using the property owned by your foundation? Thanks.

    2. Doug, are you in possession or do you have knowledge of evidence that challenges Mr. Secrest’s observations/suspicions about his email and FB accounts? Thanks.

  21. Doug Bartholomew

    oops above should read “constructive resignation” where it says “constructive termination”. Think about it. Is it so hard to see that not doing your job, or telling the boss to shove it when given direction amounts to quitting? Legally, it does.

    1. Watching and Praying

      Doug- Did John Secrest really and truly tell “the boss” to “shove it”? Or did he express his concerns and make a clear request?

      In what ways did Pastor Secrest NOT do his job? Did he fail to preach sermons? Did he neglect pastoral care? Did he steal church funds or lie about how funds were spent? Did he have an affair? Or do you mean he didn’t fully obey without question “the elders”? Wait, wasn’t Secrest an elder too? As such didn’t he have a God-given responsibility to speak up when he saw a problem?

      Perhaps you can share with the rest of us “ignorant and biased” people specific examples of “shove it” talk from Secrest along with specifics of how he failed to do his job. Until then it looks like you are the one telling Julie Roys and the online community assembled here to “shove it” through harsh and belitting words. And you are telling half truths- at least one couple from the launch team have already left, so it’s not quite true it is, that the “core group” is still intact and supportive of what’s happening.

      And please note- whether you approve of John Secrest having a private FB account or not, it does not belong to anyone but him, so if it turns out Harvest broke into it that is illegal.

      Somewhere along the way James MacDonald seems to have forgotten that godly character (including gentleness and kindness) always accompanies a true leader of God. Doug, don’t follow MacDonald’s bad example.

      1. reply to Watching

        to my knowledge John did not tell anyone to take this job and shove it. The point of that comment was only to show – using an extreme example – that the concept of constructive resignation makes common sense. I added that comment quickly (an hour later) upon realizing I had said constructive termination when I meant constructive resignation. I did not mean to say that John had told anyone to shove it, but see how that connection could be made and apologize for the confusion.
        I have no idea whether Harvest believes John constructively resigned, it is simply one reason why that statement (that he resigned) could be made in good faith (if Ananias even said John resigned, which I have no independent knowledge of).
        It is fair for John to raise concerns, but airing them in public is literally textbook insubordination.
        You are right that James struggles with gentleness, but I admire his humility in admitting that. No ministry or individual is all they should be, but having been around many ministries and leaders, I don’t see any reason to single out Harvest or MacDonald for so much adverse publicity.

        1. Hi Doug. You may have missed my question above: In what month did you approach Mr. Stonebreaker about the possibility of HBC Naples moving into your building?

          Also, did you hear about the audio recordings of James MacDonald that radio host Mancow Muller played on his show in Chicago this morning? I believe Julie will be posting an article about it later today. Among other things, James mentions planting child porn on the CT Magazine’s Editor’s computer. I’ll be curious to hear your thoughts after the you hear the segments.

        2. Watching and Praying

          Thank you for your reply Doug.

          The Bible warns us, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” James 3:1

          It seems you believe the investigations into James and Harvest are wrong and undeserved. However I submit for your consideration: it’s not Julie, Elephant’s Debt, Mancow or anyone else going after James and Harvest. It’s God. Why? Because he loves James! Hebrews 12: 5-7 says:

          “And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children.”

          James MacDonald ran a vast multimillion dollar empire in God’s name. Wouldn’t the God who James preached be concerned with the state of James’ heart and his eternal soul? The Almightly humbled Nebuchadnezzar unto repentance. Perhaps that is happening again now. At least allow for the possibility. Especially before you call fellow Christians on this site (and maybe others) ignorant and biased.

          James MacDonald may have “owned” that he struggled with gentleness, but humility is not admitting to wrong doing then continuing to bully people. It’s not saying, “I will move to a smaller house”, then immediately building a larger one. Nor running one’s church into multi-million dollar debt. Humility is not saying “we are committed to a peacemaking process” then firing one of your pastor’s the very next day. And before you say “insubordination” please ask yourself- is this the military or the church? Given the Harvest logo there appears to be some confusion about this. Only abusive church leaders talk about insubordination.

          Humility = repentance= change.

          James excuses himself by saying, “It’s always been about the message, never about the messenger.” But this is not true. Romans 2:21-24 says it’s wrong to preach one thing but do the exact opposite. Such behavior causes unbelievers to blaspheme God. Which by the way is happening right now all over Chicago and on some atheist websites regarding James’s very public actions.

          God loves James and the elders who have kept him in this unhealthy lifestyle for too long. Will James and those around him submit to God’s discipline or will they harden their hearts and incur greater discipline even unto judgement? In all gentleness and love I am praying it is the former.

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