Friday, April 3, 2009

The Purpose of this Blog

One tale is good till another is told. He that speaks first will be sure to tell a straight story, and relate that only which makes for him, and put the best colour he can upon it, so that his cause shall appear good, whether it really be so or not. - Matthew Henry

As the McDonald family’s ministry has expanded over the years, so too has the opposition against it. Though all Christians should expect the slings and arrows of the Enemy, when the attack comes from those who claim the name of Christ it is particularly disturbing. This blog was created to bring truth to an unfortunate situation concerning the mischaracterization of James McDonald, former publisher of Homeschooling Today magazine, his wife, Stacy McDonald, and their family. It is indeed very sad that this blog is even necessary. However, since the obsessed behavior of just a few individuals continues to soil the reputation of the Church, as well as that of the McDonald family, and because of the multiplying nature of the Internet, James and Stacy have finally decided to speak out.

A small group of individuals have taken a peculiar interest in publicly misrepresenting the McDonald family and their beliefs for over two years. The online attacks against James and Stacy McDonald began in 2007 with what seemed like a mere difference in opinion over the biblical interpretation concerning the roles of men and women in the family and in the church. However, the obsessive nature of the online assaults have since escalated into the seemingly united effort of at least four individuals to aggressively question and discredit the character, integrity, motives, and Christian testimony of James and Stacy McDonald.

"He who conceals his hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool." Proverbs 10:18

While this situation has been very hurtful to the McDonald family, they acknowledge that their fight is not against flesh and blood, but it is against “principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

Please pray fervently for those who have set themselves up against other Believers, causing division and strife in Christ’s church. While the McDonalds have openly shared their lives with others, and desire to do so here as well, this should not be used as an occasion for ungracious speculation or an opportunity to ravage their privacy.

And please pray for the McDonalds – that they would fully proclaim the truth without being enticed into the fray, or even slip into gossip themselves. Please pray they would stay focused and faithful to what God has called them to do.

"Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; and where there is no talebearer, strife ceases." (Proverbs 26:20, NKJV)

It is significant to note that the individual who has done the most to misrepresent and mischaracterize the McDonalds has also admitted to doing a background check on James McDonald, contacting old personal friends of the McDonald family, hunting down old debts of the LLC of which the McDonalds are members, and even interviewing past disgruntled employees of Homeschooling Today (a magazine the McDonalds used to publish) – all in an attempt to discredit the McDonalds’ character and ministry.

By grossly misrepresenting the facts, and hunting down only “one side” of any story from anyone who dislikes the McDonalds, this individual’s highest goal is to “expose” how “unqualified” James and Stacy are to minister to other Christians.

If you have any questions about who the McDonalds are or what they believe, go straight to the source—give them a call. Their church number is 309-387-2600.

[The dates of the posts on this blog have been modified to create a readable documentary of the events.]

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Truth Hunt or Witch Hunt?

The following excerpt is taken from an article on Stacy's blog entitled, Truth Hunt of Witch Hunt?

"Using half truths, spin, twisted facts, hearsay, speculation, and innuendo Pathological Antagonists attempts to not only attack the minister's teaching, they go to great lengths to attack their character and integrity as well. I found these articles fascinating (and disturbing) since my husband and I have experienced online attacks that ominously fit many of these descriptions.

Due to a handful of "creative" bloggers who have grossly mischaracterized us and our ministry over the last two years, we have spent a great deal of time clarifying our beliefs and disputing misrepresentations of our teachings. Recently, the attacks became so serious (even highly personal in nature) that, to protect our ministry and our family, we spent a great deal of time in prayer and counsel, considering our options. During this time, we felt led to carefully document the truth and make it available to anyone who asks.

While it has been tempting to engage these bloggers over the years, we've determined that it is fruitless (Proverbs 26:4). If you've ever been to one of these blogs you'll know what I mean. The amount of time that it takes to clarify and reclarify your owns words (after they have been twisted and used to misrepresent you once again) is overwhelming. If anyone posts a dissenting view a feeding frenzy begins. I found the following statement by Abanes particularly true:"
It is also noted that, while the targets of the antagonist are frequently too busy to do their homework and respond to the vast amount of accusations, the pathological antagonists always have an excessive amount of free time.
To read the entire article, click HERE

James McDonald's Ordination

The McDonald family and their ministry have been targeted by a handful of prolific bloggers whose goal is to defame James and Stacy’s integrity and reputations. As part of that campaign, James McDonald’s position as an elder in Christ’s church has been questioned.

James was indeed licensed to preach and ordained in a small Baptist church in the mid 1980’s. While overseas on business in the early 1990’s, his ordination certificate was lost, along with numerous other important documents, cherished photos, and keepsakes. This does not negate the fact that James McDonald was indeed ordained.

That being said, a Baptist ordination would not be valid in Presbyterian circles anyway, and has absolutely nothing to do with James’s current ordination.

James was informed by the RPCGA that to be ordained he would be required to complete the Master of Divinity degree from an approved seminary (which could happen after ordination), as well as pass the multi-hour theological and ecclesiastical exam given by the RPCGA (standard requirements for transferring ministers into this denomination). James agreed to the requirements, passed the exam, and was ordained as a teaching elder.

Unlike what has been reported on the gossip chain, James was never required to produce proof of his old (Baptist) ordination papers and licensure documents when examined by the RPCGA. No documents of any kind were required. Furthermore, the RPCGA determined that James McDonald's divorce was according to the requirements of Scripture.

James McDonald has his ordination certificate from the RPCGA, which proves he was ordained, as well as a current status letter from Ken Talbot, the former moderator of the RPCGA. Those who have a legitimate need to see such documentation are free to contact Pastor McDonald at 309- 389-3316.

Also, charges that James McDonald started his own denomination are a mischaracterization of the facts. Four churches left the RPCGA over polity disagreements. Two churches appealed to leave together, seeking to leave in peace. James McDonald served as the teaching elder of one of these four churches. The RPCGA released all four churches.

Again, James McDonald has all the documentation concerning the appeal to leave and the RPCGA approval. After the four churches were released, and after time in prayer, eleven elders from four churches worked together to form the denomination where James now serves. Nevertheless, to this day, James maintains good personal relations with pastors in the RPCGA, including the former moderator of the denomination.

James McDonald was also ordained in the Covenant Presbyterian Church, the denomination where he now serves. Questions of James McDonald’s ordination are not the business of ad hoc internet tribunals. It is the business of the elders to whom he is accountable, and the church where he serves.

The allegations that James McDonald misrepresented the facts of his ordination are absolutely false.

Updated April 27, 2009

A Timeline of the McDonald's Ministry

James and Stacy McDonald began to first minister online through The Patriarchs Path, a website named after a men's forum (The Call of the Patriarchs) that was founded by James McDonald on December 11, 1999. On July 15, 2000 Stacy also launched a private forum, The Patriarchs Wives, for Christian women. It has grown to over 800 members over the last decade.

Through The Patriarchs Path website, the popular discussion board (by the same name) was launched, but it was eventually shut down due to time constraints on the moderators. In these early days, God worked in amazing ways in the McDonald family, and they were eager to share what they were learning with others. During this time, James worked as an executive for a large technology company that supported the energy sector.

A few years later, on June 26, 2002, Family Reformation® ministries began as a website run by James and Stacy McDonald. It was populated with free articles and links designed to challenge and encourage Christian growth, with a specific emphasis on how God could use homeschooling as a catalyst for "Family Reformation."

Along with other Christian investors, the McDonald family formed Family Reformation LLC, and on August 1, 2002, announced that it had successfully acquired Homeschooling Today® magazine (HST), a leading home education publication. James McDonald hoped this would permit Family Reformation ministries to continue to expand its message and facilitate its goal of promoting the value and promise of homeschooling, and father-led discipleship to parents worldwide:

He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, "to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." (Luke 1:17, NKJV)

James was excited; he wanted every Christian family to know that they too could be blessed with the amazing "family reformation" that his own family had experienced. In a giant leap of faith, James resigned from his job in corporate America, and poured himself into the ministry, and the running of Homeschooling Today magazine.

James McDonald worked as publisher of Homeschooling Today magazine, while his wife, Stacy, served as editor-in-chief. The McDonald children helped in the family business in varying capacities: handling customer service calls, filling subscriptions, doing design and layout, fulfilling quarterly mailings (Have you ever folded, stuffed, and licked 20,000 envelopes?).

On February 16, 2004 the management of Homeschooling Today magazine announced the launch of Family Reformation magazine, which was designed to offer solid biblical answers for the issues facing today’s Christian families. Family Reformation readers were challenged to discover the reality and power found in God’s Word for all aspects of family interaction. Everyone in the McDonald family, and many of their friends, were very excited about how God might use Family Reformation ministries to impact Christian families around the world.

However, with time, the bookstore and the two magazines struggled to support themselves, and more space was needed for the equipment and running of each. James thought perhaps a storefront would prompt needed growth, as well as bring in much needed revenue. At James's request, the McDonald ladies dug out their favorite recipes, and began making sandwiches, salads, soups, and desserts in a new tearoom. Thus the physical bookstore and restaurant began. Unfortunately, as each additional venture was added, so did the growing workload.

These were exciting and challenging years. Between the years 2001-2005 the McDonalds gave birth to three more children; began a ministry; started an online bookstore; juggled an overwhelming speaking schedule; acquired a magazine (HST); published two books (From Dark to Dawn reprinted 2003 and Raising Maidens of Virtue 2004); remodeled a storefront and opened a physical bookstore and tearoom/restaurant; and launched another magazine, Family Reformation magazine! All of this, while attempting to juggle the responsibilities of pastoring a local church and living out what they taught in their own homeschooling family.

Every spring and summer, when the McDonalds travelled to speak at homeschooling conferences and family camps across the country, all of their children accompanied them. While the children enjoyed these family excursions, and they have many fond memories traveling together, the frequent, long summer trips were beginning to wear on them all.

The McDonald's left on their last long speaking "tour" in May 2005, when their youngest child was only two weeks old; the family was away from home for nearly six weeks. (Their oldest son stayed home from this trip to help manage the operations of the bookstore/tearoom, as well as the magazine.) By the end of that trip, Stacy was physically and emotionally drained, James's health seemed to be suffering, and the children were ready to get back to "normal," whatever that was. While the whole McDonald family desperately wanted to be home, they faced a crushing workload when they finally got there.

Needless to say, the McDonalds were overwhelmed, overworked, and nearly burned out. As a result, finances were stressed; they were spread too thin, and nothing was getting done with the excellence they so desired and required of themselves. They began to fervently pray for relief - for God's guidance in all of it. James was at a loss as to what to do. With mounting commitments on all fronts, an impossible schedule, a busy store that demanded more oversight, a needy church, customer service needs, a tired family, and not enough help, he wondered what God would have him do.

Since the McDonalds purposed to live out what they taught, training up their children in the ways of God each day; living out community in the local church; and glorifying God with a family that took time to be a family, something had to give. They prayed - hard. During that time, God brought the McDonalds through some tough times and He taught them many things. Through it all, they clung to a belief in His sovereignty and trusted fully in His Grace and goodness. And, of course, God was faithful.

In August 2006, the Lord called James to pastor a Presbyterian church in Central Illinois. Slowly, God removed every other full time venture from James's life: The tearoom/bookstore, the online bookstore, the magazines. They also scaled down their speaking schedule in an effort to give their family rest and to be more available to their local church. Since the printed publication, Family Reformation magazine, was not able to sustain itself financially, James worked to create an online version that would be free of charge to its readers. This venture has been slow in fully coming together; but, it is still in the works.

James now pastors a growing church in the Morton/Peoria area, and the McDonalds are able to minister in their local community with a renewed and relaxed focus. While still speaking at a few select conferences and family camps each year, as well as hosting some, the pressure of dragging along a 15-foot trailer filled with books and equipment is gone.

Since moving to Illinois, James now has more time to study his great love: God's Word. He hopes to continue his theological training as time permits. In 2007, Stacy co-authored the book, Passionate Housewives Desperate for God, with Jennie Chancey and is working on other writing projects with her husband, as the Lord provides the time.

The five oldest McDonald children are now adults and the five youngest are still homeschooling. As of this writing, the McDonald's oldest son is living on his own and working for an international Christian ministry, their oldest daughter is married (having given them their first grandchild last year), and the other eight are still living, loving, and serving at home [Update: Oldest son is engaged and next older daughter is married and expecting grandchild #2). James and Stacy McDonald continue to minister to thousands of Christians each day via their blogs:

James's Blog

Stacy's Blog

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What the McDonalds "Don't" Believe

The following excerpts are taken from Stacy's blog where she originally posted it back in November 2007. It has been updated to include a link to the McDonald's family testimony. As you can see, this has been going on a while:

Slander even affected the life of the Apostle Paul. He was forced to clarify his message because of “slanderous charges.” Paul said, “And why not say, ‘Let us do evil that good may come’?—as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just” (Romans 3:8, NKJV). Even Paul was misrepresented!

Matthew Henry pointed out that even Jesus was slandered (Matthew 12:24):

It is no new thing for the best of God’s people and ministers to be charged with holding and teaching such things as they do most detest and abhor; and it is not to be thought strange, when our Master himself was said to be in league with Beelzebub. Many have been reproached as if they had said that the contrary of which they maintain: it is an old artifice of Satan thus to cast dirt upon Christ’s ministers.

In Mark 2:16, rather than questioning Jesus directly, the Pharisees gossiped about Him. They could have asked Jesus why he was eating with publicans and sinners, yet the Scribes and Pharisees instead asked His disciples. But Jesus heard and answered them directly.

Moses experienced slander as he attempted to live and teach God’s message (Numbers 14:36) to the Israelites. The ten spies made the entire congregation to murmur against Moses; Scripture tells us they brought a “slander upon the land.” Matthew Henry again comments this way:

Those that represent the service of God as mean and despicable, melancholy and uncomfortable, hard and impracticable, needless and unprofitable, bring up an evil report upon the good land, pervert the right ways of the Lord, and in effect give him the lie. They made Israel to sin. They designedly made all the congregation murmur against God. Note, Ring-leaders in sin may expect to fall under particular marks of the wrath of God, who will severely reckon for the blood of souls, which is thus spilt.

As you may have guessed, our ministry and our family, as well as other brothers and sisters in the Lord, have been the target of malicious gossip and yes—slander. There is a small band of incendiary bloggers who have taken our words and our teachings and twisted and misrepresented them—all in the name of “critique, discussion, and debate.”

In addition to personal assaults against our character and intentions, our teachings and ministry have been misrepresented with claims of “hyper-patriarchy,” legalism, and assertions that we believe all women who work outside the home are in sin. This is absolutely false.

Let me be clear, I don't believe that an honest critique, or a godly debate or discussion, is an act of slander, libel, or gossip. Book reviews (that actually review a book—not the personal opinions the reviewer has about the author), discussions on email lists and blogs regarding a specific teaching or biblical truth, and even respectful debates can be fruitful. Iron sharpens iron and we can all learn a lot in these settings.

But let’s stick to the facts. When a critic makes a statement that purposely misrepresents his/her neighbor (public figure or not), then that’s called slander (or libel). It’s bearing false witness, it’s a violation of the Ninth Commandment, and it is sin. This is especially true when the critic has been corrected and still insists on continuing with what she knows to be a misrepresentation of what her neighbor has stated, done, or believes.

I spend most of my blog posts attempting to share with you what I do believe, but today I would like to once again clarify what I do not believe:

- I do not believe "that family life centers around the father of the home, rather than Jesus Christ." I do believe that Scripture teaches that the father is the head of the wife, thus the head of the family - not the center of it (as if the father is to be worshipped).

- I do not believe that every instance of a woman working outside the home is sinful.

- I neither believe that girls who go to college are harlots (this one was so offensive that I had a hard time typing it!) nor that they are automatically in sin because of it.

- I do not want anyone to think we are “perfect” or “have a perfect family.” In fact, I assure you that we are not and that we don't. CLICK HERE for our family's testimony of God's mercy and restoration.

- I have never called any individual a “whitewashed feminist.” In our book, Passionate Housewives, I have defined the term, “whitewashed feminism,” according to the definition of “evangelical feminism,” but I have never labeled any private individual this way.

We are trying very hard to avoid vain arguments (Proverbs 26:4). Our desire is to earnestly proclaim what we believe and to respectfully refute false rumors and slander. So if you hear some strange doctrine that James and Stacy McDonald (supposedly) believe, check it out. Unless you’ve read [our] words for yourself, printed in context, then don’t automatically believe it.

And please extend the same courtesy to others. If you “hear” something about another Believer and it just doesn’t sound like something a Christian would say or do, then treat it as suspect until you have proof. Don’t accept the words of a talebearer (Proverbs 18:8; Proverbs 26:20).

Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases. As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, So is a contentious man to kindle strife. The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, And they go down into the inmost body.

Fervent lips with a wicked heart Are like earthenware covered with silver dross.

He who hates, disguises it with his lips, And lays up deceit within himself; When he speaks kindly, do not believe him, For there are seven abominations in his heart; Though his hatred is covered by deceit, His wickedness will be revealed before the assembly.

Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, And he who rolls a stone will have it roll back on him.

A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it, And a flattering mouth works ruin. (Proverbs 26:20-28, NKJV)

[If you are interested in the McDonald's theological beliefs, you can click HERE to read their Statement of Faith. They also ascribe to the Westminster Standards.]

Homeschooling Today and Distorted Facts Concerning Debt

Recently, an individual on an ongoing quest to defame the McDonalds published online a letter filled with errors regarding an outstanding debt owed by the LLC the McDonalds are members of.

Until February 2007, Homeschooling Today® magazine was owned by Family Reformation® LLC, a corporation comprised of several investors. James and Stacy McDonald were two of the shareholders. James McDonald was the managing director of Family Reformation LLC and, up until 2007, the publisher of Homeschooling Today magazine. All of the investors participated in the original purchase of the magazine. However, only James and Stacy McDonald invested in its daily operations.

Over the five years Family Reformation LLC owned Homeschooling Today magazine, James and Stacy McDonald invested all of their savings in an attempt to make the magazine a success. However, the operation of the magazine was daunting. Houston was an expensive base for a business. Family Reformation LLC also tried to expand with a new magazine and a card deck. Neither delivered needed revenue. Printing and mailing costs soared. James McDonald struggled to maintain enough committed and competent help. James, Stacy, and their children began to burn out. Go here to read more about their time in ministry.

But they continued to invest in the magazine, even taking out two large personal lines of credit from their own bank to keep the operation afloat. In the midst of this, James was offered a pastorate position in Illinois. While most of the McDonald family moved north, the magazine headquarters remained in Texas, where their oldest son still lived. But in the end, they were not able to keep up the pace. Another LLC offered to purchase the magazine and move the operations to a more cost effective community in Virginia. They agreed to a purchase price which consisted of a down payment and annual payments spread out over a number of years.

In 2007, when the magazine operations were closed, Family Reformation LLC engaged an attorney to help coordinate the satisfaction of the remaining debts. One of these debts was a printing broker. The printing broker was informed that the attorney would be the agent for Family Reformation LLC. The attorney attempted to negotiate a settlement with the printing broker that included a down payment and a payment plan, but the offer was refused. During this time, the attorney’s address and contact information were provided to the printing broker.

Although settlement efforts failed with the printing broker, Family Reformation LLC used the downpayment to pay other business debts. The plan was to continue to pay the printing broker in payments, as the purchasing LLC paid its yearly installments.

When the first installment came in from HST’s purchaser, James McDonald wrote a check to the printing broker for $7000 (this amount included the entire first payment from HST’s purchaser, minus estimated taxes). The check was dated February 18, 2009. It was cashed February 23, 2009.

In summary, here are the facts…

1. Homeschooling Today magazine was owned by a corporation representing several individuals.

2. James and Stacy McDonald invested in the original purchase of the magazine, and then over the years invested significant personal funds to keep the magazine solvent.

3. Upon the sale of the magazine, the printing broker was given the address of the legal representative of Family Reformation LLC and was in communication with him. He was not given the McDonald’s home address.

4. According to plan, Family Reformation LLC sent the printing broker a payment as soon as the funds became available from the first installment.

The LLC is paying its debt as it is able, which has always been its intention. The assertion that the McDonalds ignored the outstanding debt of Family Reformation® LLC and left no contact information to the debtor is absolutely false.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Divorce and Remarriage

The following testimony is from Stacy McDonald's blog:

"Our story is a true vignette of God’s mercy and love. It is proof that He doesn’t leave us alone or forsaken. It’s a tale of redemption, mercy, grace, and hope—a story of restoration.

When I look back over the tapestry of my life, I am both humbled and amazed at how God in His mercy has creatively transformed each and every painful experience, as well as my many failings for His glory. Where Satan sought to steal and destroy, God healed and redeemed. He took the smoldering embers of a ravaged past and lovingly fashioned for His glory a golden testimony of hope."

Click here to read part one of their testimony