**UPDATED 1:13P.M.  1/13/13**  ADDED LINKS TO ‘BIBLICAL ANALYSIS BY ‘CHRIS ROSEBROUGH- FIGHTING FOR THE FAITH’ OF JAMES MACDONALD’S ‘VERTICAL CHURCH MESSAGE’ BELOW

**UPDATED 8:45  p.m. 10/10/12** RESURGENCE CONFERENCE PROMOTIONAL VIDEOS BELOW

CLICK HERE TO WATCH HARVEST BIBLE CHAPEL ELGIN’S ‘EPHESIAN SERVICE>>Ephesians Multiple Speakers, | July 28- 29, 2012 From the Elgin Campus THEN WATCH THE FOLLOWING VIDEO

God’s Word is extremely important for a person to read so that one might not only come to the understanding of the fact that we are all wretched and depraved sinners and can never earn our way into heaven by our own righteous deeds (Romans 10:3, Galatians 2:21, Ephesians Philippians 3:9) which are like filthy rags to God (Isaiah 64:6), but also so that we might come to discover the love and mercy of God presented to us in the gospel. (John 3:16,17, Romans 5:8, 1 John 4:9,10 Titus 3:4-7) For those of us who will admit that we are nothing but wretched sinners fully deserving of the wrath of God, and will repent (turn from our sin) and receive the complete atoning work that Jesus Christ accomplished for us — when He bore our sins and took God’s full wrath intended for us upon Himself when He died in our place on the cross — we can be fully forgiven for all our sins –no matter what we have done.

God has also given us His Word to protect us from being spiritually deceived. We are told to ‘examine the Scriptures daily to see if what is being said is true,’ (Acts 17:11) and to ‘test all things and hold on to the good, and to avoid every kind of evil.’ (1 Thessalonians 5:21,22) Addressing the disciples questions, about ‘the sign of His coming and the end of the age,’ the first thing Jesus said was, “Watch out that no one deceives you.” (Matthew 24:4) There are numerous unbiblical, mystical practices being promoted in many churches today, and some Christians are being led into spiritual deception without even realizing it. Contemplative Prayer, Lectio Divina, soaking prayer, Ignatian Practices, and walking ‘prayer’ labyrinths, are just a few of some of the many occultic practices being introduced into the church and are being accepted without question by many unsuspecting Christians as ‘new ways to connect with God.’ (Search APPRISING MINISTRIES, CHRISTIAN RESEARCH NETWORK,   DO NOT BE SURPRISED, LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS RESEARCH, and you can also read the information I linked to on my WARNING YOU WITH TEARS poem, and especially all the information and videos I added on AN ANCHOR FOR MY SOUL.’

Is it possible that Satan could use the reading of God’s Word — such as in Lectio Divina — as a way to lead many Christians into spiritual deception? Scripture clearly shows us in Matthew 4 and Luke 4 in the account of Jesus being tempted by the devil in the desert, that the devil knows God’s Word very well:

“The devil led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If You are the Son of God,” he said, “throw Yourself down from here. For it is written: ‘ “He will command His angels concerning You to guard You carefully; they will lift You up in their hands, so that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’ “

God’s Word warns us in 1 Peter 5:8 to…

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

So since Christians are warned that ‘our enemy’ is seeking to devour us,’ what better way could he choose than to use a way that seems so innocent as the reading of God’s Word as a means to lead us astray and into spiritual deception and the occult. In Lectio Divina, God’s Word is read, and then a time of silence follows, and people are told to ‘be still, and let God — or God’s Word — speak to you.’  That’s where the danger lies; sitting in silence and waiting for God to speak, when in fact He has already spoken all that we need to hear and to know, and it is recorded in His Word, the Bible. God’s Word tells us in Hebrews Chapter 1:1,2:

“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things and through whom He made the universe.”

Everything we need to know from God has been recorded for us in His Word, and spoken through His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. There are no new revelations from God; the canon of Scripture is now closed. Leaving our mind still allows us to hear from our own imaginations, or even from demonic spirits just waiting to speak something to us to lead us astray.

This past weekend, July 28th and 29th, Harvest Bible Chapel Elgin, had, what they referred to as, an ‘Ephesian Service.’ (Watch video at first link above). This service was viewed by the Aurora, Chicago North, Crystal Lake, Niles, North Shore, and Rolling Meadows campuses, as well. There were six speakers, each taking turns reading one chapter. Then they ended the service with a ‘Time Of Meditation.’ Although I was not there because of the fact that after attending Harvest Bible Chapel Rolling Meadows for almost 15 years, I left right after the Elephant Room 2 Conference (please consider reading my post WARNING YOU WITH TEARS for details that I continue to update when time allows) I can tell you that this ‘Ephesian Service’ is not the first time that Scripture was read out loud (though not a complete book of the Bible, as in the ‘Ephesian Service’) and then a time of silence followed. Although this could have been just an innocent time of reflection on God’s Word,it greatly concerns me because of the fact that James MacDonald has said that ‘Beth Moore’s Bible studies are “pretty phenominal…” (as you will hear him say in the following video)

…and her Bible studies have been a part of Harvest for many years. Therefore it should not come as a surprise if this misuse of God’s Word that Beth Moore is involved in, known as ‘Lectio Divina,’ could possibly be starting to take place at Harvest. (Compare the very first video above where Beth Moore is reading the Scriptures, to Harvest Elgin’s Ephesians service at the very first link above, and notice the similarities. Then please read this information on Lectio Divina, written by Pastor Gary Gilley at Southern View Chapel: SACRED READING LECTIO DIVINA as well as the information here on Beth Moore written by Erin Benziger from ‘Do Not Be Surprised.’ 

Because of the high view that James MacDonald has of Beth Moore, and also because Richard Foster’s book, ‘Celebration Of Discipline’ and Gary Thomas’ book ‘Sacred Marriage,’ are both on Harvest’s ‘recommended reading list,’ and both books promote ‘Contemplative Prayer,’ could it be possible that James MacDonald now sees ‘Lectio Divina’ and ‘Contemplative Prayer’ as something Biblical and is beginning to incorporate these practices into the services, therefore unknowingly leading those who attend into these mystical practices not realizing they are unbiblical?  Or does he see these practices as some other Christians do; revived monastic practices done by mystics in the past, and viewed now as ‘new ways to connect with God,’ and knowingly leading those who attend into mysticism, not realizing these practices are occultic in nature?

Further concerns come also due to the fact that in the ‘5G prayer guide’ (that I received on the night of October 5, 2011 when I attended the Vision Night at the Rolling Meadows campus, as did all who attended a ‘5G Vision meeting’) there are many ‘prayer exercises’ presented in this booklet for attendees of Harvest to do in order to ‘prepare their heart for what God desires to do in them personally and as a church,’ as stated on Page 3 in the booklet. Here is one example of a ‘prayer exercise’ that is found on page 37:

1. Prayer Exercise: Pray God’s Word. Praying God’s Word affirms God’s truth, aligns our prayers with His will, and expands our prayer language. Praying Scripture is not as difficult as you may think. Here are several ways to pray scripture. You can repeat one of the prayers in the Bible word-for-word. The Lord’s Prayer is an obvious example. But you can also pray a psalm, one of the prayers of Paul, and even passages from Revelation.”  (Emphasis is mine).

Doesn’t God’s Word warn us about ‘vain repititions?’

“But when ye pray, use not vain repititions, as the heathen do: for they think they shall be heard for their much speaking.” (Matthew 6:7)

The Lord’s Prayer — or any part of Scripture for that matter — was not given to us as something to repeat as a prayer, but as how we should approach God and then make our requests known to Him. That is how James MacDonald once explained the Lord’s Prayer to us.

One can only wonder what is happening at Harvest these days especially since Elephant Room 2, when T D Jakes was declared as having embraced the Biblical understanding of the Trinity even though he used Modalistic language when he explained how he now understands the Trinity, and T D Jakes was not confronted concerning the ‘prosperity gospel’ that he continues to preach.

**ADDED 8/20/12** Due to the concerns that many have because of the Elephant Room 2 conference, please consider watching this new video>> NO CO EVER: EPISODE 1   from ‘NO COMPROMISE RADIO,’ as Mike Abendroth leads James White, Carl Trueman, and Phil Johnson in an excellent discussion about what happened — and what should have happened — during Elephant Room 2 concerning T D Jakes, and the importance of sound doctrine.

I am increasingly growing concerned for all who attend Harvest, which is the main purpose for this post; this was meant to be  a strong warning written to alert those who attend Harvest.  Please pray for James MacDonald, all those in leadership, and especially for all the people who attend Harvest; pray discernment, wisdom, a desire to search the Scriptures for truth, and that they would be made aware of the danger of these unbiblical practices by searching the above mentioned sites, or you can click on the many ministries in the side bar that I personally search to find information on a person in question or to help me better understand the many practices in question.

In spite of the many warnings those who attend Harvest have received in their sermons lately –as when Jeff Donaldson told them how they should not read any blogs that are “tearing down some church or tearing down some pastor,” — (as Scott William Bryant of ‘Bloodstained Ink’ reveals to us in his post, HARVEST BIBLE CHAPEL: IS DISSENT THE SAME AS REBELLION?)  they (and all Christians) need to be made aware of the danger of partaking in these occultic practices — if indeed that is what is beginning to take place at Harvest — no matter how innocent these practices may appear to be.

**(ADDED AUGUST 20th 2012)**

I am very sorry for the delay in updating this post by adding more information to verify my concerns, but due to previous computer problems — as well as my work schedule and trying to keep my priorities in order — I have not had very much free time to complete this post as desired.  I have vacation time coming soon, and, Lord willing, will complete this then.  So for now, please consider reading the important information at the links posted below in my reply to Pastor Dan McGhee’s comment.  This is some of the information I had intended to add to this post, and will help you see not only the valid reasons I have for entitling this post with such strong words, but also why I have concerns about the recent ‘Ephesian Service.’

SOME ‘WHAT IFS’ FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

(Here’s one to start with; more to come when time allows).

1)  Since James MacDonald is developing a close relationship with Perry Noble not only because of the Elephant Room Conferences, but also because James has been a part of Perry Noble’s New Spring Church Conferences, and since Perry Noble has recently told the readers of his blog in the ‘DIALOGUE WITH GOD’ portion…

“When you have some uninterrupted time, sit quietly with a pen and paper and wait.  Then write what you hear during the silence.  This sounds like a simple task, but for many of us it is a real challenge.  Discipline yourself to set aside a time of stillness before the Lord to hear God speak.  He will speak right to your heart.”  SOURCE   (Emphasis is mine).  (To learn more, please consider reading this article by Erin Benziger of DO NOT BE SURPRISED, entitled  NEW SPRING CHURCH BLOG: “WRITE WHAT YOU HEAR DURING THE SILENCE”)

‘WHAT IF’ it’s only a matter of time until James MacDonald will encourage those who attend Harvest to ‘be still before the Lord and write down what they hear God speak to them?’  This is a New Age practice known as ‘automatic writing,’ where the person sits quietly and allows the ‘spirits’ to speak to them, and they record what they hear being spoken to them.  This is also how the still very popular ‘Christian’ devotional book, ‘GOD CALLING’ was written back in the 1930’s, and you can read about it here .”

ADDED SEPT. 6, 2012…

2) Since James MacDonald has confirmed that there will definitely be an ELEPHANT ROOM 3, (you can read about it here ) in spite of all the controversy that took place over TD Jakes being one of the speakers at E R 2, and especially because of his comments during that conference that led people to believe TD Jakes is still a Modalist, who will be the new speakers chosen that will attract a large turnout for ER3? (**UPDATE** Seems there has been a change of plans, and it appears now that there will not be another ‘Elephant Room Conference’ –at least not in the near future).

Originally I was going to say it would be Rick Warren, because he was going to be one of the speakers at Perry Noble’s New Spring Conference, (in which James MacDonald is a part of, and this conference is taking place even now as I type this.  You can read Erin Benziger’s insights into what she sees emerging in her post she wrote today, 9/6/12, entitled  PERRY NOBLE’S 2012 NEWSPRING LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE AND THE NEW EMERGING NEW EVANGELICAL MAGISTERIUM )  Rick Warren, however, cancelled out of the conference because of a family issue.

Rick Warren seems to be showing up at many of these conferences with the ‘new tribe‘ that has formed during the Elephant Room Conferences.  People such as Perry Noble, Steven Furtick, and James MacDonald, are seen together at almost all these conferences, along with others of concern (will add information in near future)  Personally, I think it’s only a matter of time before we see Rick Warren as one of the guest speakers at an ‘Elephant Room Conference.’  As James MacDonald’s relationship and friendship grows stronger through his interaction with Rick Warren during these conferences, it seems almost certain.

I remember reading James MacDonald’s blog a couple of years ago.  One person was trying to warn James about Rick Warren, and his reply in part was, ‘Oh pllllease…’ James completely dismissed this person’s valid warning, so it would not surprise me at all if Rick Warren is announced as a guest speaker in the near future.  I know that’s very hard for some of us to believe, but how many of us would have thought the day would actually come when James would speak highly of, and become involved with, TD Jakes, a known Modalist and prosperity preacher, when James strongly spoke against false teachers and prosperity preachers in the not too distant past?

IF YOU ARE UNAWARE OF THE CONCERNS MANY HAVE ABOUT RICK WARREN, PLEASE CONSIDER WATCHING THE FOLLOWING FOUR PART VIDEO SERIES

 What if Rick Warren is a part of the Elephant Room Conference in the near future?  Are you aware of what he teaches, and the mystical practices he endorses as part of his ‘Daniel Plan?’  Will you as a member or attendee of Harvest Bible Chapel rise up and say, “Enough is enough” if indeed this happens?

3)Since James MacDonald has said many times — during sermons (such as in his sermon dated June 10th 2012) and elsewhere — that he meets with Bill Hybels for lunch…

…what if Bill Hybels will become one of the newest guest speakers of the upcoming Elephant Room 3 Conference and becomes part of the ‘new tribe?’  Are you aware of the fact that Bill Hybels has Brian McLaren — one of the main leaders of the ‘Emergent Church’ — speak at Willowcreek quite often?  Are you willing to stand up and let your voices be heard before it’s too late? 

Rick Warren has endorsed James MacDonald’s new book, ‘Vertical Church,’ and had this to say:

“I didn’t just read this book–I savored it.  It’s packed with great content that every pastor, whether rookie or veteran, will benefit from.  I’m so grateful my friend James MacDonald invested the time to help us all, because it is a message of hope for every church.”SOURCE

You can read what others have to say about ‘VERTICAL CHURCH,’ such as Bill Hybels, who says,  “Vertical Church will force you to think fresh thoughts about the future of the church…”  as well as Mark Driscoll, who is identified as “Preaching and Vision Pastor,”  and once again, Rick Warren adds his endorsement, and you can see it all >>here.

Also, concerning James MacDonald’s ‘Vertical Church’ book, it has been made known to those who attend Harvest Bible Chapel through their July 28th29th >>HARVEST ANNOUNCEMENT<<VIDEO that… “People are freaking out about this book…Pastor Rick Warren, Pastor Mark Driscoll, Pastor Bill Hybels…”   If James indeed had concerns about Rick Warren and Bill Hybels, they would certainly not draw attention to these men in the promotion of the Vertical Church book, would they? 

The above ‘What if’s’ are some very possible things that could take place in the near future.  These are just some words of warnings to all of you who attend Harvest, (or any church, for that matter) so that you will be alert and aware of the possible spiritual dangers that may lie ahead.

Please become informed of the many spiritual deceptions that are taking place in the church today, so that you will not slowly be led into deception in these last days.  Above all, pray for discernment, read your Bible and test every message from all who claim to speak God’s Word; ‘examine the Scriptures daily to see if what is being said is true.’  (Acts 17:11)

SOME GOOD BOOKS

  • DECEIVED ON PURPOSE – Warren Smith, former New Ager reveals the dangers of Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Church (You can read a review on this book by Tim Challies here).

     
  • FAITH UNDONE – Roger Oakland.  The Emerging Church – a new reformation, or an end-time deception.  (Read about it here).

  • THIS LITTLE CHURCH WENT TO MARKET – Pastor Gary Gilley “…a call for the church to return to its Scriptural roots.”  (Read about that book and others by Pastor Gary Gilley, here.   You can also read many excellent articles he has written exposing mysticism, here).

SOME CONCERNS

When James MacDonald goes on his ‘Vertical Church Tour’ promoting his book, ‘Vertical Church’ from August 8th to October 3rd, (see video here)  >>One. Big. Announcement. Check out the latest information on Vertical Church , who will fill the pulpit during his very long absence? **UPDATE 9/6/12** So far, Rick Donald and Jeff Donaldson have been standing in for James MacDonald; was concerned of the possibility that Steven Furtick or Mark Driscoll may speak. **UPDATE 10/10/12 Craig Groeschel filled in for James on September 30th.

Has James somehow lost his awareness of his main responsibility which is to care for and watch over his sheep, whom God has entrusted to him?  “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.  Be shepherds of the church of God, which He bought with His own blood.”  (Acts 20:28)

Why all the emphasis lately in James’ sermons and especially in his ‘VERTICAL CHURCH’ book on ‘God’s glory coming down?’ Didn’t God’s glory already come down when Jesus came to this earth?  (John 1:14, 2:11, Luke 9:32, Hebrews 1:3)  The only others in ‘ministry’ who focus on ‘God’s glory,’ are unbiblical ‘preachers’ such as Todd Bentley, and Bill Johnson of Bethel Church in Redding CA, (others could also be mentioned).  Just be cautious, Harvesters.  Don’t be led astray into seeking after ‘experiences’ with God.  Remember that Jesus said that,  “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign!”  (Matthew 12:39)

**ADDED 9/11/12** As stated above, Rick Warren has been part of the many conferences that James has been attending lately, and the newest one is ‘The Resurgence Conference,’ which will take place at ‘Mariners Church in Irvine, CA on October 9th and 10th 2012.  Speakers and topics are as follows:

  • Rick Warren – INCREASING INFLUENCE

  • Nick Vujicic – BUILDING ENDURANCE

  • Craig Groeschel – CREATING A CULTURE OF INNOVATION

  • Greg Laurie – PREACHING JESUS

  • Miles McPherson – SERVING YOUR CITY

  • Mark Driscoll – MAKING DISCIPLES

  • Lecrae – ENGAGING CULTURE

  • James MacDonald – INCREASING RESOURCES SOURCE

**10/10/12** VIDEOS PROMOTING THE RESURGENCE CONFERENCE OCTOBER 9th & 10th 2012

In light of the information you learned about Rick Warren from the videos above, does the thought of having Rick Warren at the Resurgence Conference concern you?

Does Mark Driscoll give us  good reasons for having James MacDonald at the Resurgence Conference?  Would Paul the apostle be described in this way?  Isn’t God the one who grows the church?  (Acts 2:47) (1 Corin. 3:7) It seems for some, that church has sadly become simply an “organization.”

It is very disconcerting to see just how ‘dedicated’ — shall we say– that James has become to get the message of ‘VERTICAL CHURCH’ out, as you will see in the following video…

**ADDED 1/13/13**BIBLICAL ANALYSIS OF JAMES MACDONALD’S ‘VERTICAL CHURCH MESSAGE’ – BY CHRIS ROSEBROUGH – ‘FIGHTING FOR THE FAITH’

VERTICAL CHURCH DEBRIEF -1

VERTICAL CHURCH DEBRIEF-2

VERTICAL CHURCH FINAL DEBRIEF

PLEASE continue to pray for James as well as the other pastors and elders, and especially for all who attend Harvest.  God bless you and thank you very much for taking the time to read the latest concerns I have about what is taking place at my former church, Harvest Bible Chapel Rolling Meadows.  Please keep praying and don’t give up hope, Harvesters! 

Soon I am going to be bringing this post to an end by wrapping up my thoughts on this, as well as on the introduction to the poem that I wrote to try and express my concerns to those of you who attend Harvest, entitled, WARNING YOU WITH TEARS in the near future.  There comes a time when we must move ahead.  This whole thing has been very spiritually draining for me, as I know it is for many of you who are still attending.  If you find yourself unable to enter into worship with all your heart when you are at Harvest, or if you find yourself in need of analyzing each and every sermon that is preached (as I did before I left) beyond just being a good Acts 17:11 Berean, and if you are unable to sit and enjoy hearing God’s Word being preached when you are there, (maybe with good reason) then it may be time for you to move on and begin your search for another church, as well.  We all need to have our focus on Christ, and not allow the ‘enemy of our souls’ to drain us of our joy and strength, which can cause us to be rendered powerless and unable to be used by God when an opportunity arises for us to share His love and truth and words of encouragement with someone He may bring our way. 

I may have left Harvest, but my heart is still filled with concern for all of you.  Pray and think about all of this.  God will give you His strength, wisdom, and courage to do what He may now be calling you to do.  God bless you.  Praying for all of you.

YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN READING:

AN ANCHOR FOR MY SOUL Poem I wrote when I was discouraged and close to leaving Harvest

LIKE SHEEP WITHOUT A SHEPHERD  Poem I wrote right after I left Harvest

WARNING YOU WITH TEARS  Poem I wrote mainly to warn those of you at Harvest

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