Thinking Out Loud

April 2, 2013

James MacDonald Preaches about Money on Easter Sunday

James MacDonald - Easter Sunday 2013A reader posted a comment to an October blog post here about debt issues at Harvest Bible Chapel.  She claimed that instead of the standard Easter sermon, James MacDonald spoke about money and fiances. Huh? What the finance was he thinking?

At first, I didn’t want to believe what she wrote. But as I write this on Monday night, I’m listening to the Easter Sunday sermon at the main campus of Harvest Bible Chapel. I can see myself having brought a coworker or neighbor to the service, and I am squirming more and more with each of the 46-minutes.

Okay, so he spins the story of Judas to fit. Even that would be an offbeat theme for Easter Sunday morning.  I’m not sure how long it’s going to be online, but if you can, watch the it at this link even if you only see the first ten minutes. (Sermon notes .pdf was at this one.) Anyway, I’ll let my reader tell it:

I’d attended an Easter service at Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows yesterday and am so disgusted and disillusioned with Pastor James I will never attend Harvest again.  Instead of celebrating the Risen Christ on Easter, he started a new series on MONEY, stating that, for those who think he can’t start a new series on Easter about money, “WATCH ME!!” The man’s arrogance knows no bounds.

I’ve attended Harvest on and off for ten years or so and have found many things that I don’t like or agree with over that time, but this was the final straw. I even brought a friend with me, and there were surely many other guests as well, all there to listen to his latest pontifications about MONEY, on Easter, no less! No communion, no gospel, no Jesus per se. There was some “apology” about his having taught about money at Harvest for 25 years but now he’s come to find out what he’s taught was wrong and asked for grace; my first thought was how am I to know that what he is going to teach NOW is correct?! Oh, that’s right, he put up pictures of Francis Chan, Dave Ramsey and other Christians wise about money and, since he is important and well known enough to have had one-on-one conversations with them and others of their ilk, apparently now is well versed in being a good steward.

How is it that the MacDonalds are “wealthy” when Jesus didn’t even have a place to lay his head? How is it that he speaks of wonderful vacations while asking for our tithes and offerings and I haven’t been able to afford a vacation in years?

I received a phone call tonight from a friend who used to attend there … saying that she had found out Pastor James talked about tithing…on EASTER!…and that she was also told of how desperate the financial situation at Harvest really is. Perhaps this is why Pastor James felt it necessary to talk about money on such a sacred day. All it took was a Google search to find out how bad the situation is. And to think he stood up there shaming me and others about our credit card debt…on Easter, no less. Did God put this on his heart to discuss on the day we celebrate His Son as our Risen Savior?! Did the elders approve this?!

Best of luck with your megachurch, Pastor, but my soul is not being fed while you’re too busy expanding your own kingdom.

..And to think I get upset if one of the worship pieces isn’t totally on the Easter theme.  A serious lapse in judgment, don’t you think?

Update 4/4/13

Basically what you’re seeing in the comments section is four possible responses:

  • Supportive (objectively) — People who feel J. MacD. was within his rights to preach this topic on Easter Sunday because it was a legitimate message even for “Holy Week.”
  • Supportive (subjectively) — People who rally around J.MacD. as their pastor or shepherd and want to defend him.
  • Opposed (subjectively) — People who choose to criticize J. MacD. on whatever grounds or based on whatever leadership criteria, or choose to examine this particular topic in light of other information about James and/or HBC.
  • Opposed (objectively) — People who — regardless of whether or not they liked the message — feel the topic was inappropriate for Easter Sunday.

It was the two objective types of comment we were hoping to have heard from here.


  1. I also had a very disappointing and inapproprite Easter sermon to listen to last week.

    My pastor preached for 25 minutes and the first 15 minutes was spent on clips and still photos of the new pope who is more approachable than his predecessors. The birdge of the sermon was that this Pope walks among us and more than 2000 years ago another Man walked among us.. Even then there was no mention of resurrection or the saving blood sacrifice of God’s son. Not a single mention. There were indeed unsaved family members crammed into the chairs but no one went away with any thought other than the Pope is like Jesus for us today.

    I do not attend a Catholic church, but a Free Methodist church. I wanted to walk out and go to to the Pentecostal church down the street but my husband loves the church we go to now . Such a wasted opportunity to share the resurrection power of our Lord.

    Comment by yokedwithhim — April 2, 2013 @ 8:36 am

  2. I haven’t listened to the message but Jesus talked about money more than He did Heaven and Hell combined. Jesus talked about money more than anything else except the Kingdom of God. 11 of 39 parables talk about money and 1 of every 7 verses in the Gospel of Luke talk about money. If the issue was money so important to Jesus that he felt compelled to talk about that much, and the God inspired the gospel writers to cover it that much I’m not so sure we can criticize the man for preaching about money on Easter Sunday. It’s certainly not a “seeker friendly” choice for an Easter message that’s for sure. And it’s certainly not going to play well with people who think all we (church) want is their money, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it.

    I am far less annoyed by James MacDonald than I am by the reviewer who said: “my soul is not being fed while you’re too busy expanding your own kingdom.” It’s not his job to feed you all the time. The purpose of church is seek and save the lost, to bring healing to those who need a Doctor (Matthew 9:11-13), and to glorify God by serving the community in which he has placed them. If you are a Christian and you are still relying on Sunday morning service to “feed you” because you are not mature enough, or have enough initiative, to make your own meals that’s not on him or any other Pastor. I guarantee you that HBC offers small groups, classes, mission trips etc. All manner of things where the reviewer can get “fed.” The consumerist mindset in the North American church is ultimately what is killing it, why Gen X and the Millennials are walking away from it, and what causes the vast majority of church conflict. God calls us to move from consumers of religious goods & services to contributors to the kingdom. To sit in North America with 4 trillion bible translations, religious television, internet sites, Christian schools, Christian fast food, Christian book stores, and more and more resources than you can imagine to “feed” your soul and then go to one church service and proclaim “you are not being fed?” That’s like a sick person going to the hospital, refusing to be treated, and then complaining they are not getting well.

    I don’t know James MacDonald from Adam, I can only judge teachers like him from their fruit. It would seem to me between Walk-in-the-Word and what his church has done in the last 25 years he has cultivated a lot more good fruit than bad fruit. He took a Sunday when you have a ton of visitors in church and chose to speak to the heart of a very big issue facing this culture, and in particular in the Chicago-area in which his church is called to serve. I can’t fault him for his subject matter and I have no doubt he spent time on his knees and in discussion with his leaders before decided to preach about money. I will definitely listen to the message though, but to claim that all James MacDonald wants to do his “is expand his kingdom?” I don’t see any evidence of fruit like that in his ministry. There will always be naysayers and critics who will be quick to judge and criticize and slow to listen, but at the end of day God calls us to do that just that and judge others actions by their fruit (Matthew 7:16). You can only judge that fruit for yourself and I suppose we might come to different conclusions, but as for now it looks like a pretty good harvest (pun intended) to me.

    Comment by Jeff Ratliff — April 2, 2013 @ 9:07 am

    • I attended Harvest Bible Chapel and over the years James has gotten more arrogant. They treat him like the messiah . It was sickening. His ministry is in debt but he bought a 2.1 million dollar home. He was never there. Flying everywhere to sell his books. He was gambling money away and pictured with professional gambler at a casino when his Ministries Are in debt. I joined a few different men small groups and they were horrible. No FRUIT what so ever. I could go on and on. Know he’s joined TBN and need I say more. Ephesians Talks about exposing evil. Exposed!!

      Comment by Tom — October 26, 2014 @ 3:00 am

    • Jeff Ratliff, You really are serious when you said back in 2013 that you don’t see evidence of MacDonald trying to expand his own personal kingdom? Seriously? MacDonald, even back then was earning an enormous salary from Harvest, and instead of being grateful and blessed, he demanded a $100,000 raise(40 percent) during the huge recession of 2008 when so many people were out of work and houses were being foreclosed at record levels. A $100,000 raise is ridiculous even during normal times, let alone in a sinking economy, don’t you think? He also lives in a 2 million dollar mansion, and when told to downsize his lifestyle, he later built an even bigger mansion for himself. But you don’t see evidence of his lust for money and possessions? Did you also know that he has his four other family members on the Harvest payroll, each earning obscene amounts of money annually. This guy is so overcome with wealth it’s unbelievable. And yes, the previous lady’s comment about MacDonald using Easter Sunday to preach about money was absolutely correct. His focus was on money, not the resurrection. MacDonald is a hypocrite beyond compare, who has no shame whatsoever about his greed or arrogance. Please dont defend this jerk.

      Comment by Ron — December 6, 2018 @ 10:56 pm

  3. Shame on these churches are they all not forewarned in the first few chapters of Revelation on what will happen to them, if they do not change their ways ? Or is it true what I hear, they don’t read, teach or preach from this great book of the Bible? God save these churches, reform these Pastor and reclaim those who attain for Your glory . . . Amen and Amen

    Comment by theywhoseek — April 2, 2013 @ 9:31 am

  4. I just watched the message in it’s entirety. I have no idea what anyone could possibly upset about. He used scripture to back every point, he at no point asked for their money, he gracefully admitted to his own personal mistakes on money. He discussed the churches divergent views on money, but his main focus was on freeing people from bondage to money and that Jesus rose from the dead and conquered death so we could be free to serve him. That until we stop being slaves to finances we cannot being fully servants to him. His content was well grounded theologically, it was well preached, and I never detected arrogance at all. I felt like the “watch me” comment was just supposed to be funny, not arrogant.

    Paul- you often talk about how much you enjoy Kyle Idleman’s work on your blog, and rightfully so, James essentially preached a “Gods of War” message about the God of Money. Was it right for Easter Sunday? I don’t think we can judge that given the fact that we are not James who is called to shepherd and reach his community, the church God called to plant, and the leadership he is ultimately accountable to. He is not accountable to you and me, or the original commenter in the blog. He is accountable to his leadership and fully invested, contributing members of the church who are fully and wholly invested the fulfilling the Great Commission through HBC where God as called them. Not people who casually attend in hopes of being “fed.”

    Comment by Jeff Ratliff — April 2, 2013 @ 10:07 am

  5. (A restatement of my remarks from the other page):

    James MacDonald gave an excellent message on Sunday about money. As a member of Harvest, I found it refreshing, I was fed by it, and I appreciated it. This apparently has some people upset. However, had he preached a cookie-cutter Easter sermon, or even a pretty boring Easter sermon, there would be few objections, and there would certainly be no complaints of the kind voiced here.

    Easter is not a Biblical concept. The resurrection is. If a church decides not to observe “Easter” at all, there is absolutely nothing sinful in that (Romans 14:1-12), as long as they believe and proclaim the resurrection. And that according to their consciences, not the legalistic dictates of others.

    Comment by B.Wayne — April 2, 2013 @ 12:56 pm

    • “Easter is not a Biblical concept. ”

      This a bit of a fuzzy statement, because Jesus does command us to remember his death, hence the Lord’s Supper, aka Communion aka Eucharist. Anyway, by the standard you mention, then where was “resurrection” in this sermon?

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — April 2, 2013 @ 6:07 pm

      • I mentioned this elsewhere, but the sermon was not the entirety of the service. It was preceded by a completely over-the-top Easter celebration that focused exclusively on Christ’s resurrection, complete with confetti canons going off at the proclamation that “Christ is risen!” and a large choir. Again, not everyone’s cup of tea, which is completely fine, but a clear demonstration that Easter was not dismissed or neglected. That’s the smaller point. The larger point is that Easter is nothing more than a tradition of man… a very good and nice tradition, in my view, and based on essential Biblical truths, but not a mandate from the Bible that needs to be observed as Easter in this way or that, or frankly at all. No one has to agree with Harvest’s choice of teaching on Easter Sunday, but to suggest that they are not at complete liberty to make that decision seems to me to represent far too much commitment to non-essential traditions. That’s how I would read it for myself, and I’m the only person I could accurately say that about.

        Honestly, I find it rather disturbing when people appear eager to pick essentially good, sound churches/sermons/pastors/Christians apart. Particularly when there are so many false churches out there confusing and distorting the gospel instead of preaching it and sharing it. There are many pastors and ministries that I have pretty significant disagreements with, but unless they are preaching “another gospel”, I think those churches and their elders can get along fine in their own Christian liberty without my assistance. I don’t even agree with my own church about every single thing.

        Comment by B.Wayne — April 3, 2013 @ 11:30 am

  6. Well there’s certainly a balance (or near balance) of James MacDonald (H.B.C.) supporters and detractors who’re responding to Paul’s post.

    Money – yup! James is right in that it’s the ONE thing that gets everyone worked up (or in trouble, along with sex & power). But was it right to talk about it on Easter Sunday?

    1. Assessment of James MacDonald re Easter Sunday’s sermon? Tactless!

    Preaching on money on Easter is a little tactless, shall we say. Most would agree. Consider this: Easter Sunday happens to be the ONE time a lot of people bring out their friends and family (like the woman whom Paul linked us to) in order to have the thrust of the Gospel – Christ’s Resurrection – hit home or explained uniquely/powerfully. You’d think that it would be a better choice to bring home, via apologetics or exposition, the deep implications of Christ’s rising from the dead. To centre on money kind of sucks and I can see a lot of people who brought their mom, or dad to H.B.C. – and who hadn’t been to church in a while – just hanging their heads in disappointment.

    2. Freedom (hear sermon audio: 4:05 to 4:18). Excuse me, but what did Jesus die to set us free from Mr. MacDonald?

    Was just doing my devotions this morning, and I read this in the book of Hebrews:
    “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (Chap 2:14-15)

    Yes, we’re given the Holy Spirit’s vision as to what else in our lives could be representative of idolatry or sinfulness, which could include our financial ideations, but let’s not twist theology James, in order to empower/embolden your sermon points.

    We were freed by Christ to be released from the hold and fear of death. Primary point of the New Testament! Eternal life. We bypass the judgment that befalls the rest of the world and are heirs with God in Christ – seated in heavenly realms ALREADY! That to me – and more importantly to Christ and his followers (according to the New Testament) – is what freedom is. That is what Jesus died and rose for first and foremost!

    3. Tithing – the one apparent act of the Hebraic Law we’re still bound to:

    Oh, you’re (and your church’s elders) of the ‘TITHING’ mindset, yeah? Well this is a SERIOUS bone of contention with me and other Christians who’ve really examined the New Testament and have noted that TITHING is an Old Testament practice that was discarded by the followers of Christ in favour of ‘giving what you can’ (and not adhering to ‘law’ … “we are not under compulsion”!). We are NOT under the law and that includes mandates to the people of Israel in the form of a legalistic 10% tithe. Is it a respectable amount of giving to shoot for? Sure, but some can only give a penny at the altar and for the richer man who touts his ‘Tithe-ability’, he/she may in fact be giving very little (Mark 12:41-44). You might want to check out your New Testament Scripture on the ‘widow’s mite’. Tithing is NOT scriptural and when J.M. mentioned that one of his elders stared down a church attendee (and has a habit of doing so) who questioned the church about money and responded with, “do you tithe”…. I almost lost it. (But I do agree with the concept/teaching that ALL we have is God’s – every penny, ever part of ourselves. All we have is what we’ve been given in this life by God’s hand.) Re ‘Tithing’ enjoy the following link: “The Trial of Pastor Jones”

    4. James MacDonald: Reduced to Childish Goading?

    Remember when you were in the playground and your buddy says, “Let’s all call Susie a name”! And because you don’t want to disappoint your buddy, you go along with it. In effect, you’re a sheep! So when I hear James MacDonald not once but TWICE encouraging everybody to childishly make some sort of chiding or disparaging ‘Grrr’s’ whenever Judas’s name is mentioned, I find myself going, “really?”

    5. (Sermon audio 16:26) “Grab Your Wallets!”

    Oh that’s just what everyone wants to hear a preacher say out loud in a service. Brilliant. And once again there’s the ‘Tithe’ grab at 18:47 or thereabouts.

    6. At 25 Minutes: A great historical lesson on Monasticism:

    But during a Sunday service? Seriously? This detailed expose is a necessary inclusion as an illustration of extremes? Be relevant, dude. This is for some church history course/church bible study group and not really worth including in a sermon.

    7. At 30minutes: “More About How Great We Are at HBC”

    HBC’s history of missions verses church planting. Oh, the friends and relatives who visited on Easter Sunday are REALLY bored stupid now. And then a heavy criticism of John Piper … really in keeping with the Resurrection theme. Oh wait, MONEY … yeah, that’s the focus. Francis Chan doesn’t believe in life insurance? Okay, now that was informative. Never liked Chan’s extremist para-Christian views anyhow.

    8. At 35 minutes in: Good for you James: Pat yourself on the back for how little you talked about giving over 25 years:

    Okay – I get why people see this guy as somewhat ‘arrogant’ now… it’s coming through in his personality via his 45 minutes worth of speaking. Man, I hadn’t heard this guy’s preaching in years and so it’s very sad to hear how self-oriented he’s become: ‘my’ ‘me’ ‘mine’ ‘our’ … a pretty consistent utterance/focus on the self, gotta say.

    9. Cut to video interview with Financial dude:

    C’mon. Save this for a special course or something. Not for a Sunday service. Advertise in your big mega-church that on Tuesday nights you’re having a study series on personal financial management that everyone would benefit from … yada-yada.

    Flagrant Regard’s Summary: A tactless choice of topic for a Sunday morning, self-aggrandizing language, childish tactics for purposes of obtaining agreement and pretty clear lack of connection/relevancy especially where visiting guests are concerned (and which tend to be in higher numbers on ‘Holy’ days).

    Comment by Flagrant Regard — April 2, 2013 @ 4:03 pm

    • It’s easy to miss your second point in the light of what follows, and miss James’ comment on freedom in the light of what follows in the 42 minutes that still remain at that point. This definition of freedom — again in the context of Resurrection Sunday — is where the sermon was already well off the rails.

      As I said in the comments on the other article that got this going last night: Would the Bible college and seminary scholars who teach homiletics (preaching) just a few miles away at Moody or Wheaton or Trinity approve of this Easter Sunday sermon text? Can you imagine an undergraduate saying to his professor, “I decided to take a different route with Easter Sunday and start a series about finances.” He would be repeating the course next semester.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — April 2, 2013 @ 11:06 pm

  7. For those who aren’t familiar with James MacDonald – I’d suggest you review some of the well substantiated claims of My family attended Harvest for nearly 7 years, so I’m very familiar with James teaching and the many blessings that came to my family as a result of small group and other ministries. I am sad that the church seems to be coming off the tracks of orthodoxy under James recent leadership and likely due to his refusal to repent of a number of sins related to a love of money. The charge has been made, and well substantiated that he until it became public recently participated in gambling for recreation, draws an unusually large salary for the pastor of a church his size, possesses unusually large wealth, and has lead he church into an amount of debt that is extraordinarily large for the size of the church – any one of which would not necessarily be cause for concern, but all together suggest that he has a problematic personal view of money.

    For the average pastor to choose to preach on money on Easter is controversial and some would say an unusual choice – given that the core of Jesus teaching was not about money, but about the resurrection, and this is the day above all others when we remember the reason for the hope that we have (and our hope is not in money). For James though, a pastor who has recently come under great criticism for his handling of his own and church finances I am convinced it a very foolish choice, and shows a serious lapse in discernment to choose to teach on money on Easter (or Resurrection Sunday, if you prefer). I pray regularly that James would come to true repentance of love of money that many of us have tried to point out to him, and not the false repentance that he offered about teaching in the past only on giving and not all of the areas that Christ spoke about money.

    Comment by Justasheep — April 3, 2013 @ 9:20 am

  8. As a member of Harvest, this blog bothers me. The woman who was quoted clearly did not understand the message. Never once did Pastor James ask for money. He spoke about how money can rule our lives and how so often we put money before God and we need to be good stewards of our money and not live our lives in financial handcuffs. The financial advice that we’re going to be getting in the next few weeks will be coming from biblical financial experts, not Pastor James. He’s not pretending to be a “financial expert” as she accused him of being. He even admitted that he wasn’t which is why he is using a few who are to speak to us.

    I am “fed” at Harvest. Although I usually learn a lot from Pastor James and his sermons, I am fed more through my own quiet times and my weekly small group where we discuss the message and hold each other accountable for our spiritual growth. I pray that this woman finds a church that she feels that she can get involved in and that will give her the same.

    As for being so judgemental of anyone based on what he chose to preach about on Easter weekend, please stop. You don’t know what God put in his heart. Just because it isn’t the typical “Easter message” doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Please take what you hear and try to learn something from it instead of being offended because it’s not what you wanted to hear.

    Comment by Jdun — April 3, 2013 @ 9:22 am

    • For the record, I, too have been blessed by the radio ministry of James and have attended three different Harvest campuses.

      This Easter Sunday event in a high profile church caught our attention this week, and I am simply reporting on what is clearly a bit of an oddity. I have no other agenda here.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — April 3, 2013 @ 10:04 am

      • Except you didn’t just report it. If you reported it you would offered two divergent points of view and allowed your readers to decide. You also closed the post by saying ” A serious lapse in judgment, don’t you think.” That’s not reporting. You presented one critical side of a story and agreed with the opinion.

        Comment by Jeff Ratliff — April 3, 2013 @ 10:17 am

      • Jeff, I’ll give you that one. I crossed the line into editorial with that closing line; but this is a blog not a webzine or a news site. The comments have been somewhat balanced with some defending James’ sermon text and others appalled by it.

        I also offered this to a couple of news sites before writing my own blog post. As I said before, I view this as an oddity; a curiosity but again:

        1) No doctrines were harmed in the making of this sermon; i.e. it’s not in any way heretical except for FR’s point #2
        2) To my knowledge, the people of HBC politely listened to their pastor; nobody walked out in protest.
        3) Many of the concerns have to do with other information concerning James MacDonald’s relationship to other financial issues, which I deliberately chose not to get into here.

        This is more like going to church at Christmas and discovering the pastor is starting a series on marriage and parenting. It might leave you scratching your head, but you’d probably sit and listen and have a good story to tell at Christmas dinner.

        Or you might blog about it.

        Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — April 3, 2013 @ 4:35 pm

  9. Did anyone else notice the stack of poker chips on the screen behind him?

    Comment by johnberman — April 3, 2013 @ 2:21 pm

    • Too funny. Yes, I get the reference. Hope the stock artwork they used for that slide was indeed regular coins.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — April 3, 2013 @ 4:12 pm

  10. I find this blog post, the opinions of the James MacDonald detractors, and the overwhelming hypocrisy from those sources sick, sad, and completely biased. It’s obvious you have issues with James that go beyond a simple sermon topic.

    Let’s start with the foolishly clueless one first :
    — Did you see the poker chip stack on the screen behind him?

    Really? A critique of a visual aide? What’s next? A critique of his 18 dollar plaid shirt or ten dollar cotton tee he wore trying to hide his true “wealth” when he supposedly makes millions? Or maybe, you’d like to critique him on his shoes, or his lack of hair, or maybe that he should use dye on his beard to make himself look younger? Nuff said there.

    To paulthinkingoutloud:
    One of your responses to a comment:

    “I’ll give you that one. I crossed the line into editorial with that closing line” – The CLOSING LINE? Did you read your own post???? Here, I’ll summarize for you:
    1) “Huh? What the finance was he thinking?” Um, he was thinking about giving a sermon on Money.
    2) “I can see myself having brought a coworker or neighbor to the service, and I am squirming more and more with each of the 46-minutes. ” Why squirm???
    3) “Okay, so he spins the story of Judas to fit.” Really? Did you listen to the whole sermon? Spun it? That’s fat, not your “editorial” opinion huh?
    4) “Even that would be an offbeat theme for Easter Sunday morning.” Why offbeat? If he was making a point about how the love of and or need for money caused Judas to betray Jesus, on the cusp of Jesus being crucified, how does Judas betrayal suddenly not become one of the central points of the cricifixtion and resurrection story?
    5) “…watch the first tn minutes of it….” Um, No. Watch the WHOLE sermon and get context.
    6) “I’ll let my reader tell it” A completely biased, hateful, unloving, critically misinforming EDITORIAL.

    You crossed the line? There never was a line. You’re entire post is an editorial of James MacDonald and his sermon topic choice. And a flawed one at that. I didn’t realize there were rules that congregates can apply to determine what sermons are “appropriate” for an Easter Sunday. Please let me know where I can find the biblical references for what should be preached on Easter Sunday.

    You are not “Simply Reporting”, you are critiquing and editorializing and doing so with an obviously skewed mindset. For someone who claims to be “blessed by the radio ministry of James MacDonald and have attended three of the campuses he preaches at”, if we were friends, if I had an issue that was devastating or harmful to myself and maybe others, I certainly know what you’d do. You’d certainly not support nor help me. It’s OBVIOUS you’d bail. That is sad and distressing.

    Have you talked directly with James first about your concerns? If so, then if you do not believe it is resolved have you spoken to James and several elders together? Have you prayed for James and the elders of Harvest? What was your prayer? Do you recognize how many biblical truths you’ve simply ignored by your editorial? Here’s some reference for you:: Matthew 18:15-17; Proverbs 15:1; Col 3:13; Matthew 5:9; Matthew 7:5 There are hundreds of scriptural references that have been simply IGNORED here. So many references about examining yourself before rebuking others, and making sure to do so with truth AND LOVE. I find no love in your post, nor your opinion.

    I pray for your heart to soften to the reality that you put so much opinion and unrealistic expectations on one person when your own heart is stained. I, for one, have never put all my eggs (sorry, Easter pun not meant) in one basket, nor one pastor. James MacDonald is flawed, as are you, and am I. You, nor any of us, are perfect. We are all stained at birth with the sins of our forefathers, generations of self-serving thought and action, with self-righteous opinions.

    In a time when tens of thousands of things and actions and purposeful driven decisions James, the ministries he’s stewarded, (led, I believe by the love of Christ), and the church he has pastored, have acted upon have done wonders for the kingdom of Christ, it’s amazing how so many can now just poke and prod at what God has done through him, and focus purely on the alleged flaws.

    Lastly, to “justasheep”: as for the “substantiated” claims of another blog/website, let’s remember the website originators’ primary ON THE RECORD purpose, to DESTROY James MacDonald and the ministries he stewards. In my view, to wish harm and destruction to any man, and the church that God states is “his Bridegroom”, is simply sick, sad, and deplorable ( not to mention the effect it would have on the thousands of congregant and their families who attend, serve, and also pastor there). For those of you whom are married, if someone came at your bride or groom with hate and malice in their hearts, would you not do ANYTHING within your power to protect him/her? In God’s eyes, what is being spewed here (and on that “website”) is despicable. One thing is true from that site, God will judge its originators for the harm and hate it has fostered. It has done nothing to further the body of Christ, only harm it, as does this “blog”

    I pray for God’s mercy on your souls. Look in the mirror everyone. We are all stained with the sin of our own selfishness. Only through the acceptance of Christ, and the belief in his death and resurrection are we born again. Before you speak, think about God’s word and how a tongue is like a sword. Who do you innocently and in many cases permanently harm when you wield it. Can you atone for THAT?

    Comment by Phillip — April 3, 2013 @ 6:56 pm

    • First of all, I would suggest you be careful throwing around the word “clueless” because it is you to whom it applies. The visual aid critique is a reference to recent allegations linking James to recreational gambling.

      As to your comments to me personally; have you ever actually sat with a non-churched friend in the middle of a weekend service? It gives you a whole different perspective. One of the greatest complaints about the church from outsiders is that “they are only after my money.” So preaching on money on the Sunday when you’ve got the largest percentage of visitors is truly a “What were you thinking?” kind of moment. It goes against all the currently available data.

      Spinning Judas? I’d say the topic was somewhat predetermined beforehand, and Judas was worked into it. This was a topical sermon that contained a seasonal reference, not a seasonal sermon with topical sub-themes. Oddly enough though, remember that I was writing in response the large comment that in this case, follows. So by mentioning the Judas thing, in my mind, I was actually giving James points for including some reference to the Easter story that the original comment writer did not. For that, now I am criticized.

      Offbeat? Yes. You don’t start a sermon series on finance on Easter Sunday. You just don’t.

      First ten minutes. We were encouraging people to watch the first ten minutes, but obviously we watched the whole sermon, and parts of it twice. Many Christian people are unfamiliar with 46-minute sermons, although I have no problem with it personally.

      Let the reader tell it. They were there. They saw the whole service and all the particular nuances of it. They saw it context of what has gone on for the weeks and years that led up to this moment. I would never just randomly watch a sermon and then critique it in a blog. I cringe when people do that. That’s what the discernment ministry blogs do. And they hate everybody.

      Speaking of which, did you happen to notice the link to James MacDonald’s test of personal holiness that appeared here the very next day? I don’t have an agenda with James. (It was pre-scheduled to appear in the link list, and I chose to leave it there; it’s good stuff.) My living room is full of Walk in the Word audio and video products. He made a boo-boo, that’s all.

      Have I talked with James? Seriously? How likely is that to take place?

      On the other hand, James MacDonald is a public figure. Politicians, entertainers, academics; all these right down to your local elementary school teachers are held up to public scrutiny. The “touch not the Lord’s anointed” view that pastors are above criticism is totally inconsistent.

      By the way, in a survey of recent references to J. MacD. here, ten are very positive, two are somewhat negative, and one is extremely critical of a guy who really doesn’t like James and was quite rightly denied admission to one of the Elephant Room seminars. I consider that balanced.

      So what the finance was he thinking? I thought it was an appropriate one-off line, not because of the sermon but because of the sermon in the context of the surrounding controversy of the church debt crisis.

      So the better question is, How is it that so many people have showed up here yesterday and today to read about this? What is driving their interest?

      There’s obviously a current of concern that precedes anyone reading anything that is written here. Like the character in Close Encounters, something is driving people to this spot to read this article. We just don’t normally have that amount of traffic. Phone conversations? Emails? I have no idea. But the buzz about this was out there long before I decided to give it some space here.

      As I said in the previous reply, this is more like going to church at Christmas and discovering the pastor is starting a series on marriage and parenting. It might leave you scratching your head, but you’d probably sit and listen and have a good story to tell at Christmas dinner.

      Finally, for those who don’t know the context of some of the remarks, one more time, here’s the link to The Elephants Debt

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — April 3, 2013 @ 8:02 pm

      • Thank you for your arrogant and self-serving response. You’ve put your opinion/view in concrete and have stated nothing to change the view of your obvious bias. As for visiting, this will be my last. So celebrate your self-indulgent site and your “visits”. But again ask the question, how is this site, your post, and your viewpoint honorable to God? Answer: It’s not

        Comment by Philip — April 3, 2013 @ 8:11 pm

      • Is the Christianity Today website honoring to God? They post stories every single day, good and bad ones, about the things that take place in the Christian world that land on peoples’ radar. Some of it is hard-hitting, perhaps even damaging. Nobody questions their existence.

        However, three years ago I decided that there must be better uses both of my time and of the Christian sector of the internet, and to keep me personally grounded, Christ-focused, and Word-focused, I created Christianity 201. And since I only write about one in seven of the posts there — serving more as an editor — I think you’d be happier reading that kind of material online.

        Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — April 3, 2013 @ 8:24 pm

  11. Thanks for speaking of things that are true and are going on all the time, not just at Easter. What is needed is a discerning mind and heart to see the manipulation and pre-meditated flow of sermons, control of ministries and ministers and elders, etc – serving a kingdom of it’s own.
    Long time Harvest attender – walked away with God’s leading :)

    Comment by Anonymous — April 3, 2013 @ 11:04 pm

  12. Once your pastor/church is large/influential enough to be on the radar of people who do not attend and aren’t actively involved in the ongoing life of the ministry, but are for whatever reason motivated to spend their time commenting on it, there’s just going to be a fairly continual buzz of criticism. That’s what I’m coming to see as a member of a megachurch with a pastor who is known in certain circles nationally. I always think that giving a balancing view from the inside will accomplish something positive, but who knows. David Platt, John MacArthur, Rick Warren, Mark Driscoll, even Billy Graham in past years… all of those guys and many more are/were the subject of continual criticism (and praise). Google any of their names and you’ll find sites and blogs tearing them down. I guess I’ll just take it as an indication that our church is relevant and engaged. I love my church, my pastors, and my Harvest family. I see how we are faithfully walking in Christ together, challenged and supported by the weekly teaching. I’d wish the same for anyone.

    Comment by B.Wayne — April 3, 2013 @ 11:08 pm

  13. Thanks for this post. James is so out of touch with real people. Why hasn’t anyone pointed out the irony?????? The money series was announced as a part of the initial response to the publishing of The Elephants Debt. It seemed that the church was going to teach about money because the church got it SO WRONG by plunging itself into enormous debt-with James at the wheel. And because people were incensed to learn of James salary. Now instead of any confession or revelation, the deflection comes. “James wouldn’t seem so rich if y’all weren’t so poor!” Y’all need to learn to manage your money better like james does. Get yourself a job that pays 2 or 3 salaries of 6 figures and gives you vacations as well. Fools. Manage your money like HBC. When opportunity knocks and you don’t have the $, don’t wait on The Lord…borrow as much as you need. The arrogance! People, good hard working families are losing their homes and businesses and jobs. Shameful.

    Comment by Anonymous — April 4, 2013 @ 1:06 am

    • Yes, but I’m not sure the Bible wants us to call others “fools,” however.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — April 4, 2013 @ 9:20 am

      • No, I’m sorry Paul. You misunderstood me. I feel that we the sheep are being considered fools. We who are working regular jobs (some of us 2 or three jobs). We with no wealthy family connections to a cash cow. We who do not choose to be away from our families each week but must do so to provide. We have no glory in doing something BIG for God. Just tiny things. Day by day things. We should learn how to handle our money from someone that is benefitting greatly from the “income” of the church of our God…and by how much? We will NEVER know. And to put a commerciaI for the trip to Israel right there in the message?!! I will probably never see Isreal. Please don’t remind me that we are sending you and your family there again. And paying you while you “lead” the trip!!!!

        Comment by anon — April 16, 2013 @ 10:57 pm

    • Yes this was the tone of the service from a pastor bringing in $15,000 a week. I will continue to watch these services knowing they do get edited, to see how close he comes to crossing lines into prosperity preaching. He is awfully close, listen, discern and see where it goes.

      Comment by Skylar Point — April 8, 2013 @ 12:05 am

    • Okay, sorry; I get the this better now that you explain. My wife and I will probably never see the Holy Land either. Actually, there are a couple of sports arenas in Toronto that I often said we and our kids would probably never see the inside of, but there were a couple of Christian events (free) at both more recently and we went partially because we knew we would never be able to afford to attend anything ticketed there. But you’re right, dropping the Holy Land trip into the message would be seen by Bible College professors who teach preaching as introducing a distraction to an Easter Sunday sermon.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — April 17, 2013 @ 9:26 am

  14. […] sure to jump back a few days and read all the heat in the comments section that the post created. And remember, if you don’t like a Christian […]

    Pingback by It’s The Easter Money, Not The Easter Bunny | Thinking Out Loud — April 4, 2013 @ 7:26 am

  15. This discussion reminds me of the story how in 1917 when the Bolsheviks were killing the czars family, the Russian orthodox leadership were debated what colour their robes should be.

    I listen to James MacDonald occaisionally. I have read his books. I too listened to the Easter podcast. As a pastor would I have chosen that topic for Easter? Probably not. But I am not standing where he is and I do not know the needs of his people. The message I found was passionate, biblically sound and personally challenging. I wonder if all the criticism is actually a mask for conviction .

    Jesus was crucified so we don’t need to do the same to one of his servants. Lets pray for our brother with the same passion that we are criticizing.

    Btw, He is Risen!

    Comment by Ralph juthman — April 4, 2013 @ 7:39 am

    • Thanks, Ralph.

      We’re not going to get consensus here. I’m rather sorry I waded into this, but obviously thought it was newsworthy. I don’t usually close comments, but I might do that after a couple more days because this will just keep dragging on back and forth.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — April 4, 2013 @ 9:19 am

  16. Paul- I don’t think you posting about it or expressing your opinion is wrong. It’s your blog and you are well within your rights to do so. I quite enjoy your blog and appreciate the work you put into it. I guess, for me, I don’t think I have the right right or authority to tell James MacDonald what he can or cannot preach on Easter Sunday so I feel a little timid about expressing outrage over what he preached about. Also for me, who still thinks you should tithe, I didn’t personally find any doctrinal “line n the sand” faults with the sermon itself. So that makes it essentially an opinion issue on the subject matter and that should be between his Elders, him, and God. As a Pastor would I ever preach about money on Easter Sunday? I have no idea. But I certainly would not preach about a topic like that on Easter without spending a lot of time in prayer, a lot of discussion with my Elders, and if I felt it was absolutely what God wanted me to do and it was the message he wanted me to deliver to his local church where he has me serving.

    I was far less bothered by your take that it should not be preached on Easter than I was by the person you quoted criticizing him for it. More because he comes across as that consumerist mindset of Christianity where the purpose of the local church is to serve me, rather the purpose of me is to serve the local church.

    Reading through some of comments though it reminded of this that retired Southeast Christian Church pastor Bob Russell just wrote the other day:

    We should be able to disagree and do so respectfully. Having read this blog for a couple of years I can tell the “visitors” that have decided to post in defense (subjectively) and against (subjectively) on this subject that Paul always is respectful in his opinions and that’s why I come back here every day. I don’t live in Canada, I live in Ohio, but if I did I have little doubt I would have been frequent visitor to his bookstore to have lively discussions about topics like this. Thanks for what you do Paul; for “Thinking Out Loud” every day with tact and respect.


    Comment by Jeff Ratliff — April 4, 2013 @ 9:55 am

  17. It’s not just the topic that caused me concern, it was the arrogance that preceded his service. Pastors are to be held accountable, biblically speaking. As he stands up there and puffs out his chest exclaiming “try me” in response to being advised that it may not be wise to speak on money at Easter is a clear indication of major character flaw, and puts it on display for the entire congregation! I’ve been at hbc for 8 years and I hear “oh, it’s his personality, that’s just him, blah, blah, blah” it’s unacceptable for him to so far above reproach. Further, he begins to create a poverty gospel term which doesn’t exist, as far as I’m concerned to be free of all things (money) but Him is exactly Jesus’ gospel, yet James sets out to denigrate that teaching and say very little in comparison to the real dangers of prosperity gospel. he puts pictures of john piper, francis chan and david platt up and said they are “radical, errant thinkers” yet i noted those comments were edited out of the online video when i watched it again Monday! I was absolutely not surprised because James’ comments about these men during the service were out of line.

    During the service i felt like I was watching a version of msnbc election coverage it was so one sided and not at all leaning towards Jesus’ view of money but James’ view of money in a masterfully twisted way that only he can pull off. He has also directed all small groups at hbc to put off their current studies and focus on this “money” pulpit study/curriculum that he has written. Soon, James’ followers will come to accept and no longer criticize his salary, the debt, unmanaged money, nepotism, his arrogance, and will expect more riches and luxuries for themselves because this is where their leader is taking them….down the prosperity road! He is taking the focus off of him because the church is losing money and people. Unfortunately, We will not be back.

    Comment by Skylar Point — April 7, 2013 @ 11:58 pm

  18. That is so weird. My former church did the same thing. A bait & switch sermon.

    Good friday…read about crucifiction? Nope…topical sermon on jewish tapestries.

    Easter…read about resurrection? Nope…topical sermon on woman at well, jokes about pop culture and tithe collection.

    Comment by Steve — April 8, 2013 @ 11:33 pm

  19. For the defenders of James MacDonald who think it inappropriate to critique his sermon in this public fashion, do you also think it inappropriate for him to publicly criticize John Piper’s view’s of money?

    Comment by Dan McGhee — April 11, 2013 @ 3:59 pm

    • Good point.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — April 11, 2013 @ 5:39 pm

      • Paul, its worth thinking about, isn’t it? How can people on one hand say, “Who are you to criticize?” and then completely overlook the fact that JM called out three brothers in Christ (David Platt, Francis Chan, and John Piper) regarding what he believes is their wrong view of money? And, he did so very publicly…in front of thousands of people…on Easter Sunday. So, all I’m saying is this – if they say you ought not to do this, then in order to be consistent, they ought to say JM was equally wrong in doing so. BTW, I don’t think you’re wrong in doing so, and as a pastor, I don’t think JM was wrong in naming those guys if his intention is to guard his flock.

        BTW, the complete irony in all of this is you have a man (JM) who lives in a $2M home, and makes an extravagant salary through the people of God, criticizing a man (John Piper) who made a selfless decision years ago to put all royalties from his book sales into a foundation designed to further the Gospel. Piper could be extravagantly rich, but the man lives in a normal middle-class home, and drives a regular used car just like so many others in his church. In fact, a friend of mine once spoke for Piper at Bethlehem Baptist. Arrangements were made for Piper to pick him up at the airport. And do you know what shocked my friend the most about all that? Piper’s car. It was just a regular, well-used automobile, not some $100k Mercedes S-Class, which he could no doubt afford if he wanted to do so. I’m not trying to be unkind here, but there is a stark contrast in the lifestyles of these two men, and the one who lives the more extravagant one has now publicly criticized in an Easter Sunday sermon the one whose lifestyle appears to be more modest and eternity-oriented.

        The other glaring reality in all of this is the absolute silence on the part of James MacDonald regarding his health&wealth/prosperity friend, TD Jakes, whom MacDonald called “a brother” during ER2. Are you kidding me? John Piper gets called out BY NAME and is accused of some new fangled “poor-house theology of money” but there’s a refusal to call out BY NAME (and in fact is on record defending) a guy who is actually a wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing who fleeces God’s sheep with his heretical prosperity theology? So, think about that for a moment – he believes he needs to guard his flock from the “poverty theology” of John Piper, but not the “prosperity theology” of TD Jakes. What does that tell you?

        Well, I guess the good news is that while James MacDonald won’t call out a clear wolf in sheep’s clothing at least Christian rap artist Shai Linne has the courage to do it. Check this out –

        Comment by Dan McGhee — April 13, 2013 @ 6:58 am

      • It was interesting to have a one-time Baptist putting down what he called “The Poverty Gospel.” Quite honestly, James was losing me at that point. In Elephant Room 1, he was critical of David Platt getting the kids in the Sunday School to cut back on snacks so that more money would be available for missions. He joked about Platt taking away the Goldfish crackers; but maybe he was more serious even at that time than we knew.

        Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — April 13, 2013 @ 9:05 am

      • Dans comment below is right exactly to the point. Thanks Dan.

        Comment by Anonymous member of HBC — April 13, 2013 @ 11:20 pm

  20. On April 29th 2011, Pastor James commented on the Royal Wedding of William and Kate, on his blog. He was grieved about several points and listed them in his blog. In my opinion, very harsh and lack of grace to people he does not know personally.

    I, too, am grieved knowing that visitors (on Easter Sunday) is the only church experience they will have this year. And will it do anything other than remind the masses why they do not church?

    As much right, as Pastor James on his blog makes it a point to express his opinion publicly about the Royal wedding, Paul Wilkinson can also do as well (to express his opinion on his blog). Pastor James made a promise years ago in one of his messages that if he does not preach the gospel each and every time he is in the pulpit (at HBC), the church is free to keep him accountable. Pastor James, it was Easter Sunday –preach the Gospel, the risen Christ.

    I wish Pastor James well and pray that he will find in his impossible task and the fleeting favor of humanity an occasion to continue to search out the One whom to know by faith, is life eternal and who rules over a kingdom that will never end.

    I genuinely love you, Pastor James. Thankful for King Jesus!

    Former Member of Harvest Bible Chapel (separated in 2012)

    Comment by Anonymous — April 12, 2013 @ 5:15 pm

  21. The meat of this blog post is from a woman who occasionally attends HBC, and doesn’t even seem to like it, “I’ve attended Harvest on and off for ten years or so and have found many things that I don’t like or agree with over that time.” HBC is not for her. HBC is for the current attendees, and current attendees who actually LIKE to be there.
    And she says that the risen Christ wasn’t celebrated? Curious. She must have come only for the sermon and missed 30 minutes of worship. Amazing worship, where Jesus was lifted up, way up.
    To watch a sermon online and think *that* was the Easter service is, well, wrong.
    While I understand that James MacDonald is a public figure, his responsibility is only to his flock. And his flock, the regular attendees of HBC were told, like eight times, over the last couple of months, via email, from the pulpit, and in small groups (weekly Bible study groups) that he would be starting a series on money on Easter Sunday. So if anyone brought a visitor who was offended, they either weren’t paying attention the previous couple of months, aren’t a regular attendee of HBC, or didn’t “warn” their visitor.
    I’ve been to many Easter services at HBC, and the worship on Easter is spectacular (though worship at HBC is always pretty wonderful). But the sermons have never been an “Easter message.” Usually Pastor James continues preaching on whatever series he’s been preaching on. Probably because he’s always preaching the Gospel. Easter shouldn’t be “special” in that regard. His sermons, in conjuction with all parts of the “church experience” are for the people at HBC. The current people. Not potential new folks, but the current people of Harvest.
    All that to say: While I think there is value in having access to the teachings of good Bible teachers/pastors via the radio, audios, online, etc., there is also a danger when trying to ascribe certain requirements of a sermon, that only a full church life (worship, sermon, fellowship, personal ministry within the church, small groups, etc.) can fulfill. Taking a sermon out of context, judging how HBC (or any church led by a well-known pastor) “does church” by just the sermon leads to false conclusions (because the premise is faulty).

    Comment by PS Rocket — April 16, 2013 @ 3:05 am

    • Oh PS Rocket seen you on the elephants debt site. Looks like you are part of HBC or paid to do damage control. His money talk had nothing to do with his previous messages outside that they all were twisted toward taking peoples mind off of the debt, his 500000 salary, most all his family including his brother on the payroll and his gambling. As the other folks stated it was not proper to preach on money when so many friends and family there that may not be saved. So you are saying the music and the cheer and confetti was enough to uphold the risen Christ right? But James preaching did not need to? What if he preached on adultery? That would have been ok too? You’re way off base.

      Former HBC member since 1999. Left Jan 1, 2013
      Former member of HBC

      Comment by john 3:16 — April 16, 2013 @ 10:03 pm

      • Yes I am a part of HBC. Nope not paid to do anything at HBC. Just a regular attendee.
        Correct, his talk on money had nothing to do with his previous messages, since he *started* the sermon series on Easter. The series, on money, is to have eight messages.
        If you reflect back on your many years at HBC, you’ll recall that he doesn’t do a special Easter sermon. Am I mistaken in that? Harvest has never been about the “high holidays.” Christmas Eve services have always been low-key, or non-existent. Perhaps this is by design? To avoid inviting folks who just like to go through the motions? Check off a box? We are to be inviting people to church every weekend, not just to the stressed out, distracting, family gathering crazy holiday ones.
        And as I said, the regular attendees were informed, mulitple times, and in various ways, that he was going to be starting a series on money on Easter. So if a regular attendee had a problem with that, or thought that any of their non-regular-attending friends and family would have a problem with that, then they had ample time to make other plans.
        Blessings to you, former member of HBC. I hope you have found a new church home and that your walk with Christ is off-the-charts awesome.

        Comment by PS Rocket — April 17, 2013 @ 4:20 pm

  22. Personal to “John3:16” — I don’t have any comments pending from you, nor were any caught in a filter, but when I try to write you back (twice) my message is flagged as spam. I think you’ve got computer/internet issues on your end.

    Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — April 17, 2013 @ 9:46 am

  23. He Needs to ask God for Forgiviness! Is not to late.

    Comment by silvia e miller — April 17, 2013 @ 7:23 pm

  24. We are long time members of Harvest Bible Chapel but that may change very soon. When we heard that James would be preaching about money on Easter Sunday, we decided to attend another church that day. Glad we did. We heard a very strong sermon on the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. We heard the gospel. Very glad our unbelieving family members who came with us got to hear this sermon which they would not have heard had we taken them to Harvest.

    A common objection to church membership is “the churches just want your money”. James and his poor decisions certainly seems to be reinforcing this objection.

    Comment by C. Curtis — April 18, 2013 @ 9:51 pm

    • Changing churches is never easy in the short-term. It is filled with lots of emotion. But many times in the long-term it is seen as beneficial.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — April 18, 2013 @ 10:00 pm

  25. Can anyone tell me in which sermon James says that we are only to pray to God, NOT to Jesus? This webpage shows up on Google search, with a teaser line, but I can’t find the exact sermon anywhere, and thought someone here might know which one it is. Thanks!

    Comment by Deanna — April 22, 2013 @ 2:12 am

  26. All I see here is a bunch of cry babies who speak against the man of God. Wow!!! James MacDonald preached about finances on Easter morning. CRUCIFY HIM!!! You religious nuts are never pleased. I guarantee you that if you saw Jesus Christ himself preach, you’d be offended. Jesus turned over money tables in God’s house because they violated a place of prayer and made it into a place of commerce. Christ even likened a woman who needed healing to a dog. That for sure would have rocked everyones panties here.
    James MacDonald is the farthest thing from religious. Here we have religious whiners crying about how James preached about finances on Easter Sunday.
    Shake your heads. Did you ever stop to think that it was God Himself who gave James the green-light to preach on money.
    Listen to his financial sermon. I mean really listen. He’s preaching freedom for people on a topic that has most of the populace in bondage. He’s educating the saints of God on how to be wise stewards of God’s finances.
    But here you are, majoring on the minors. OH NO! JAMES PREACHED ABOUT FINANCES ON EASTER!
    Most of the comments here are filled with nothing more then ill-will, gossip and murmuring.

    Sermons come and go. James is whom God in his perfect, infinite and sovereign wisdom chose and promoted to where he is today.
    Listen carefully to James’ sermons. Every single one has the same 1 or more message:
    1. Glory to God
    2. Repentance
    3. His own failures

    Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. James is preaching God’s word and here you all are crying over the fact that he didn’t preach your expected, religious flavour of the year sermon.
    Shame on you.

    I see more violations here then a man who’s preaching God’s word.
    What a weak, weak accusation to come up with.

    Most of you think that people would only hear the Easter story at Easter and he should have preached about it.
    He’s not you and you’re not him. I’d seriously like to see everyone’s reward here vs what he’s receiving in Heaven.

    Here’s a hint. EVEN IF ONE WERE TO RISE FROM THE DEAD, THEY WOULD NOT BELIEVE. So whether or not James preached the Easter story is irrelevant. He’s preaching God’s word period.
    Go remove the plank from your own eye before you remove the spec from his.

    It’s unbelievable who we have full grown adults who think they have the liberty to leave churches, criticize God’s man for the hour, and gossip and point fingers at insignificant, irrelevant, non-issues being preached over God’s pulpit.
    Shake you heads people. Either that or go back to your quiet times with a coffee and a bagel over your Bible.

    To the author of this written work, you are desperately seeking an audience and are in no place to judge what another one of God’s creation is doing for God. Who do you think you are?
    If James is not against the work of God’s work, he’s for it.

    If it makes you feel better, I can warm your milk up for you in a bottle.
    Spiritual babies.

    Let’s see if you put this post up or moderate it. Better yet, let’s hear how you respond.

    Comment by Brett — May 17, 2013 @ 6:46 pm

    • I’m not clear: Are you for devotional times with a coffee and a bagel while reading the Bible or are you saying you are opposed to quiet times with a coffee and bagel over a Bible?

      There’s so much emotion in your writing that it’s hard to tell what you want.

      The preaching of Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross of Calvary on the day that the church has — for 2,000 years — set aside for special emphasis of His death is hardly what you call “insignificant, irrelevant” or a “non issue.” Nor can I allow you to call the Easter sermon “the flavor of the year.” Seriously? I can’t believe anyone who has experienced the grace of God would use that phrase. You are so busy being angry — either at me or the person whose story comprised the majority of the original blog post — that you’re not thinking through what you’re writing.

      Then you ask us to consider the possibility that “God Himself” would give James “the green light” to do this topic. Okay. I’ve considered it. The answer is no. I can’t see God signing off on this particular sermon outline on that particular day. So I guess that leaves us at an impasse. Not everybody sees the world same way. But just as one shouldn’t argue ad hominem which we are not doing here, so also should you not try to defend something ad hominem where the attack on the person never existed.

      See, I’m sorry, Brett. You’re missing the point. Nobody is “casting stones” at James MacDonald. As I’ve already pointed out, we turned around and ran a scheduled article by him here the very next day. The very next day. Did you read the post feed for the entire month or just show up at this single post?

      I see the series start date, as I stated above in another comment, a “boo-boo.” Christian leaders make mistakes. The series on finances could have easily been put back a week. It was a tactical error. I wish I could share the “off the blog” comments I got from pastors who said this was something they simply would not do.

      But the focus of this shouldn’t be on James; rather his decision introduces a much larger issue about how our modern churches respond to the Christian calendar. Not the “liturgical calendar” — which is the escape some of James’ defenders want to use here — but the Christian calendar from incarnation to propitiation and beyond. The preaching cycle which has served the church for generations, and will continue to for generations to come.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — May 17, 2013 @ 8:40 pm

      • No you’re missing the point.
        You judge others and call them out behind their backs when they don’t line up with your religion.
        I promise you James has done more for the gospel then you have. You attack him while he’s preaching God’s word. Your nutz.
        There’s no winning with you because based on all your responses, you simply want the last word.

        I can’t believe how small you are.
        You really chose this to be your response? Really? This is all you have to offer after you attack a brother in the Lord?

        You say God didn’t give James the green-light to preach on finances? You’re a complete and utter joke. I promise you that you don’t know who God is if you think he’s limited to your agenda and the Easter story exclusively preached on Easter.
        You’re nothing more then religious.

        Keep pointing the finger buddy. This is a very nobel war you’re waging. You are obviously leading tons of people to Christ with this post.
        Little man.
        I hope for Christmas James preaches a glorious sermon about the Easter story.

        You are an excellent example of having the wrong focus. The Pharisees would have loved you man.

        Don’t apologize to me for the way the article was written and how you think people misunderstand it.
        Accusing James of “spinning the story of Judas” to make it fit? Really? James spun this?

        Here’s a great suggestion for you, I want you to go into a round room and pray in the corner, when you’re finished with that, get back to me.

        Way to attack God’s leaders there squirt.

        Comment by Brett — May 17, 2013 @ 11:59 pm

    • I think Brett might be drunk.

      Comment by Adam — May 17, 2013 @ 11:10 pm

      • Keep thinking that. Great educated response.

        Comment by Brett — May 17, 2013 @ 11:47 pm

    • “You judge others and call them out behind their backs when they don’t line up with your religion.”
      “I can’t believe how small you are.”
      “You’re a complete and utter joke.”
      “Little man…”
      “You are an excellent example of having the wrong focus.”

      You are doing the very thing you are accusing others of doing, hmmm, interesting – Matthew 7:1-5, Luke 6:37, John 7:24

      “I promise you James has done more for the gospel then you have.”

      Unless you are really James Macdonald (or Pail W.), you really don’t know… 1 Samuel 16:7, Jeremiah 17:9

      “You say God didn’t give James the green-light to preach on finances?”

      I would have to answer yes (God did not) on this – John 16:8, Romans 5:5. Romans 8:27

      Please brother Brett, not for my self gain, if you don’t look at any of this passages I referenced,
      I encourage you to meditate on these two:

      2 Corinthians 13:5

      Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

      1 Corinthians 10:14
      Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

      I love you brother.

      Comment by Former Member of Harvest Bible Chapel (separated in 2012) — May 18, 2013 @ 9:33 am

  27. Update – May 17th, 2013 — So what happens when the expectation is a focus on Christ’s death and resurrection and that is unexpectedly hijacked? I thought today’s post here at TOL to be, at the very least, somewhat related.

    Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — May 17, 2013 @ 7:04 pm

  28. […] we’re still getting great numbers of page views at James MacDonald Preaches on Finances on Easter Sunday, and not a small number of comments, especially for this blog.  Some of you haven’t been […]

    Pingback by How to Disagree with a Blog Post | Thinking Out Loud — May 18, 2013 @ 7:52 am

  29. […] certain story about a megachurch pastor who didn’t let the most important of all days in the Christian calendar get in the way of his next sermon series, attracted, as of last night, 56 comments here; a comment level relatively unheard at Thinking Out […]

    Pingback by Special Days Trump Preaching Series: Andy Stanley | Thinking Out Loud — June 7, 2013 @ 7:30 am

  30. I would like to remind you that we as Christians are supposed to tithe. One because not only does that portion belong to God, but everything else that He gives us. AllHe asks for is that ten percent. If you are a true Christian, you should know that giving your tithe is just a part of obedience towards God. What is done with the money should not matter to you. I am not sure of you know the great work and time it takes and is out in s a pastor, but if Pastor James Macdonald is being blessed by the money given through tithes than Praise God. Start to look at things through God’s eyes. You said you had visited his church on and off for ten years. Perhaps this isn’t the church God has for you, and even if it is, pastor Macdonald is an anointed man of God and should be treated with respect. That is what the Bible( the Word of God) tells us Christians we ought to do. Whether we like them or not. I hope and pray that God helps you realize that criticizing a man of God is not what God wants from a true Christian.

    Comment by Jessy — August 14, 2013 @ 1:08 am

    • This is not about tithing. Not at all. Nor is it about preaching about tithing. Not at all. It’s about Easter Sunday.
      But what a lot of people are missing here is that other pastors — each one also a man of God — agree that this was a serious lapse in judgement.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — August 14, 2013 @ 9:11 am

  31. […] know this from personal experience with articles about Joyce Meyer and James MacDonald.  In the world at large, people can look at six tenets of a person’s personal beliefs and […]

    Pingback by Is the Part of Christianity That is Rapidly Growing Actually Christianity? | Thinking Out Loud — August 15, 2013 @ 8:11 am

  32. […] James MacDonald isn’t the only one who has issues with preaching about Easter on Easter Sunday morning. I found this in my files from April, […]

    Pingback by Missing Easter Sunday | Thinking Out Loud — August 17, 2013 @ 8:46 am

  33. Bravo James!!! Keeping it real! Wow. Has the united-church-of-holier-than-thou-Americanized-Christian-I-know-better-than the Pastor called to preach the Word crowd just showed up again and stepped ALL OVER GODS ANNOITNTED! The arrogance is nothing short of the in-your-face-God-crowd that came up against Moses. Let’s get it figured out! Really! Pastors have taken the position of “not knowing” what tithers give so as not to have a place of critical-ness over another brother!! That’s such a lie from Satan himself! Fast forward to the NT. Ever read Ananias and Saphiras story??? God help us! He cares a lot about what you give! The widows mite tells the story as well. The giving was in the open!! Clearly all could see! Hey! Its not your money! Its His and He says give back! Way to go James for doing as He is called, preach the Word! And for those who do not like it. Take it up with God and get off the back of the preacher. Its no wonder the church is full of mamby-pamby feel good messages today! The church is dieing for the lack of truth!!! Read Malachi!! And stop beating up pastors for a right message. And oh ya! Check out James’ personal giving and what he has done to/for his church! Better to be quiet than bring a public charge against one of Gods own, especially when you DO NOT KNOW!!!. The lack of wisdom written is clear and costly! no punn intended!

    Comment by Linda — May 3, 2014 @ 3:47 pm

    • You do realize you completely missed the point of all this, don’t you? It was Easter Sunday, the day the worldwide Christian church celebrates the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — May 3, 2014 @ 8:53 pm


        Comment by Samuel Campos Marroquin — April 6, 2016 @ 8:23 am

      • Lose the capital letters next time, okay? I almost trashed this comment.

        Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — April 6, 2016 @ 9:13 am

  34. I am way late on commenting here, but I have one thing to say. I had attended HBC for a few years and I remember that Easter Sunday. So, here’s my two cents: for as long as you have the mindset “pastor James can do no wrong” you will not see any red flags, I know it because I used to have that mindset and it took me a while to find a different church.

    Comment by vera — July 27, 2016 @ 2:53 pm

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