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One Year Later -- A Look Behind the Mask of James MacDonald

Recently, James MacDonald started a 40-day “devotional” video series leading up to a re-launch into "ministry." He started this series exactly one year to the day that the elders of Harvest Bible Chapel fired him for cause. If you know James MacDonald, you know starting his “devotional” on February 12, 2020 was intentional. If you don’t know James MacDonald, you need to know starting on that date was intentional. 

The verse MacDonald used in his February 9 Facebook page teaser post caught my attention: … for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries. (1 Corinthians 16:9 ESV)
By using this verse and including the second half of the verse, MacDonald hopes to position anyone opposing his return to “ministry” as adversaries. MacDonald regularly portrays himself as under attack or as the victim. He is doing his best to weaponize Scripture here. If you know MacDonald you may share my skepticism. You may share my concern as you see him relaunching…
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Why We Didn't Leave Harvest Bible Chapel Quietly

When my wife and I left Harvest Bible Chapel in the spring after 23+ years, we sent an email to inform friends we had made over the years there in small group and other ministries. We received many wonderful replies. In one reply a former ministry partner said they wished we had just left quietly. He wished anyone who leaves Harvest would do so quietly. (The fact that people at Harvest have a position on how people who leave Harvest should do so is informative on its own.)

The long-standing Harvest position is that it is more godly to leave quietly. (This isn't a biblical position. More about that in a future blog post. For now, see Ecclesiastes 3:7. There is "a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.") Anyone who talks is somehow against Harvest, sowing discord, or attacking Harvest. If you are ex-Harvest -- or if you are still there -- you will recognize these descriptions: "(Insert name) went rogue""The (insert couples name) got sideways"And final…

The Apology I Would Have Made

The interim elders of Harvest Bible Chapel recently issued an apology to Julie Roys, Ryan Mahoney, and Scott Bryant for suing them last fall. The apology was a good step. That alone was a bit counter-cultural for Harvest. Still much more could have been said. Much more should be said.
Before I resigned from the elder board in a call for reform, I pushed for three actions to make things right with Julie Roys, Ryan Mahoney, and Scott Bryant plus Ryan's wife and Scott's wife.  A public apology where we would acknowledge Harvest was wrong and had lied about these brothers and sister. We could not unsay what had been said about them. But we could acknowledge all of our sins against them in a public forum at Harvest. Private meetings of the elder board with each party where we would acknowledge Harvest was wrong, that we sinned against these brothers and sisters, where we asked for their forgiveness and listened to anything they might want to say to us.Remove every post, letter, el…

Resignation and a Call for Reform

Hello Harvest,

A few weeks ago, I wrote a letter asking you for forgiveness. In that letter I asked to stay on as an elder for a short period “to help redirect and change Harvest.” The time since I wrote my first letter -- including numerous 4-5-hour meetings followed by sleepless nights -- has revealed to me that I am powerless to make the necessary changes to correct the culture at Harvest Bible Chapel from within the interim elder board. It is for this reason that I resigned from my position as elder of Harvest Bible Chapel effective yesterday, March 20, 2019.
The elder board at Harvest continues to be controlled by former executive committee (EC) members who are focused on governing at a time when our church needs leadership and reform. These men should resign immediately and make room for change. Instead, they remain impeding progress. Below are some interactions which illustrate issues that are preventing change. Ephesians 5:11-14a is my guide here: “Take no part in the unfruitf…

Statement of Repentance

My wife and I have called Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago our home church for 23+ years. We have seen God do great things in and through Harvest in that time. We have served as small group leaders and coaches and continue to do so. We have been blessed to invest in many couples through newly married small groups. We have led mission trips to help sister churches in Romania, Moldova, and Haiti. We enjoy it all and count it as service to our Lord Jesus. This statement is about my service as an elder at Harvest Bible Chapel. It is a personal statement, not a statement on behalf of anyone else. It is not a statement on behalf of the church.
I served as an elder on the larger elder board from 2010 through 2015 (i.e., two consecutive 3-year terms before a mandatory roll-off). I was off the board for the three years between December 2015 and late December 2018. I rejoined the board in late December. Up until a few weeks ago, I counted it a privilege to have served as an elder at Harvest Bib…

Mission: Build

Have you ever heard someone say they are a follower of Jesus Christ but are not part of a local church? Or that they cannot find a good church? Or that they have their own thing going with Jesus and don't need to be part of a local church? What do you make of that? More importantly, what does Jesus, our Lord, make of that? For insight into both questions, let's look at the well-known exchange between Jesus and Peter at Caeserea Philippi as captured in Matthew's gospel:

He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"

Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:15-18)

Jesus, the Creator, is sustaining everything (Colossians 1:17). He for sure doesn&#…

The Conversation Ends

(Earlier today I shared this tribute for my dear friend and brother in Christ, Mark Archibald, at his memorial service. Mark went home to his Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, 8 days ago.)

On a cool March Saturday years ago I struck up a conversation with another dad as we watched our sons practice soccer in the forest preserve in north Hoffman Estates. It turned out to be a conversation that would carry on for 18-1/2 years with one of the best friends I will ever have. Given that Mark, my dear friend and brother in Christ, stepped into eternity as his earthly life ended last Friday night after a 2-1/2 year battle with mantle cell lymphoma -- yes, cancer -- I cannot confirm this part of the account with him, but knowing Mark it is more likely he started the conversation.

Mark was wearing a Mizzou sweatshirt; I was wearing a Wisconsin sweatshirt. Both of us representing the alma mater. We started talking college hoops, the first of many such conversations over the years that would eventuall…