Rod McCarthy - 09/22/2015
I came from a violent home (drugs, alcohol, gun shots, being chased with knives, people thrown through picture pane windows). In fact, I was born three months early because my father kicked my mother in the stomach. I was born weighing only two pounds, nine ounces.
As early as age seven, I was out on the streets until 3-4am. I was put in three orphanages.
One night I remember, my father snuck into our house, he put a loaded pistol in my hand and told me to shoot my sisters and my mother; it was crazy. Through all of this (which I wouldn't change), I came out a fairly normal kid. I was involved in sports and didn't do drugs or drink. I thought I was a survivor, wanting only to make it through another day.
In 1974, I started to sense a need in my life, an emptiness that I couldn't explain. I knew I had to find God/Jesus, but who was He? I had no idea where to find Him, so I went to the local library to find books concerning world religions, God and the occult.
At the library, I met an ex-hippie named Gary who saw my books and decided to share the message with me. Gary invited me to pray in the back of his V.W., so I did. I remember saying, "God, forgive me for my sins and, whatever You have for me, I want it all".
Well, at first nothing happened like I expected -- lightning or something. Gary said, "Just go home and praise God". I asked, "What's that mean?" Gary said, "Just thank Him". So I did just that. The remaining is sacred to me.
Before I asked Jesus into my heart, I never heard voices, I never drank and I never did drugs, but one week after meeting Jesus while in the middle of my last class (during high school), a voice, just as clear as someone standing next to me, spoke and, as the voice spoke, it said to me, "Rod, tell them about Jesus". I was surprised but unafraid. I put my hand over my mouth, since I didn't want anyone to think I was talking to myself. I said (to whomever spoke to me), "I don't know what to say". The voice said, "Don't be afraid. I'll give you the words to say".
To this, day I don't remember my words, but I spoke to those kids about Jesus and salvation. Their mouths just dropped open and then class was over. I walked out of that room, feeling like I had never felt before.
The next day was Saturday; I slept in the living room on an old couch. When I woke, it was early and I decided to turn on the TV, to watch my favorite cartoon, the roadrunner. As I sat there watching the TV, I got up and looked outside. Everything was so beautiful. (I never appreciated nature; I just wanted to make it through another day.) But now it was so pretty.
I sat back down on the couch and, as I did, I was somewhere else. I was sitting at a long, roughhewn table. In front of me was God, the Father; I couldn't see Him. To my left was Satan; him I could see (he looked like a man, only very big); then to my right was Jesus. Three bowls appeared, filled with what looked like porridge.
The father spoke and said, "Satan, dismiss yourself". Satan stood and screamed, then vanished. Three bites were taken out of the bowl. Then, all at once, I was watching myself from a distance, walking with Jesus up a grassy pathway. Jesus was speaking to me but from a distance I couldn't hear him. I could see myself shaking my head (like I understood); then, through my eyes, I saw the house where I had been sleeping. I didn't know what had happened; I'd never experienced anything like that, but I knew two things: I had to find a pastor to talk to and I knew God loved me and wanted something from me -- my total surrender. My life totally under His control -- every second, moment by moment, and I was consumed with this one desire: to live to please Him.
Let me give you an example: When a friend from school would come over and say, "Hey, Rod, let's go to a show", I'd say, "Hold on". Then I'd go in the bathroom and pray, "Lord, should I go?" Sometimes the Lord would say "Go", sometimes "No". At times, He was silent. When this happened, I would look inside, to my heart (Spirit; see Colossians 3:15). If I had peace, I would go. If not, I'd stay home. As I practiced this new desire (surrender), I noticed the voice of the Lord became more frequent and clearer (John 10:27). It always had to agree with scripture. The Word of the Lord will always agree with the true meaning and/or the true interpretation of scripture.
I knew I needed to get a Bible. So I went to a bookstore and I got the largest family Bible I'd ever seen, with pictures and everything. I was so happy. That night, the voice of the Lord said, "Read Matthew 5". I had to look in the contents; I didn't know where Matthew was. When I found it and started to read, the words became a "Word of the Lord" to me; they just jumped off the page; they seemed to come alive and they filled me with hope, love and peace. Now, I knew God loved me and that my sins were gone and I was forgiven.
As time passed, I grew. Sometimes I'd walk into a busy office or building and the Lord would say, "Go sit by that guy". I would strike up a conversation, then say, "You don't know me but I'm a Christian and God is going to share with me about your life. I don't mean simple things like 'you have the flu or headaches', but deep, personal things that others couldn't know or even guess. People would usually start to cry and ask, "How did you know?" I'd say. "I didn't but God knew".
When I got to Atlantic City, God said, "Rod, when you get to the prayer meeting tonight, I want you to give all your money to Johnnie". I said, "Lord, that's all I have" (about $300). God replied, "You take care of your brothers and sisters in the Lord and I'll take care of you". So, upon arriving in Atlantic City, I secretly gave all my money to Johnnie. (This was to cover something for Johnnie that was very personal, so I know he didn't share this with anyone.) That night, I asked myself, "How am I going to get back to work tomorrow?" I didn't have a penny, not even enough for bus fare, and in my spirit I knew I wasn't to hitchhike, but instead the Lord wanted me on the bus.
After sleeping that night and leaving the brother's house the next day (where the meeting had been held), I started walking to the bus station. As I got closer and closer, I was imagining, is the driver going to just know he's supposed to let me ride for free? But as I approached the depot, a brother named Chicky came out of his house and said, "Rod, I think the Lord wants me to give this to you". It was exactly what I needed for bus fare!
This has been a short summary of my life.
Here is a dream I had a couple years ago:
I was on the head of a beast, in a large body of water (like an ocean). It was night and the darkness was so real it could be felt. The clouds above were very thick and black. The beast was thrashing as if it wanted to throw me off. I was so afraid! I was holding on as tightly as I could. Then I looked up and, when I did, the clouds opened and rays of light came through the clouds. With the light came that voice that I had heard before and knew so well. He said, "Rod, if I'm ever to use you, I must break you!" I awoke, wet with sweat and shaking, saying as I woke, "Thank You, Lord. You haven't forgotten me".
My experience with speaking in tongues:
I never sought tongues, but I am not against it either. I never made it a big issue. But a few months after I accepted Jesus, I ended up in Spain. I went out to the fishing area off a pier and sat by myself. An old man came and sat by me. I had been sitting, praying in tongues in just a quiet whisper. Then this man asked me if I am an American. I said yes. He asked, "Do you speak only English?" I said yes. He responded, "Then why do I hear you speaking in French, German and Spanish?" He said, "You are speaking about the mighty works of God".
I went to see the Son of God movie when, all of a sudden, as I was watching Jesus die, it dawned on me that in all of Paul's writings about the Spirit, the flesh, death, sin, lust of the flesh, the first Adam, the second Adam and walking in the Spirit, that these things are all tied to the death of Jesus. It's as if God decided to give up on the flesh, since the flesh was never able to abide by His commands, nor please Him; and move to the Spirit, as a new creation. Kind of like changing trains or modes of transportation. That is why Jesus said, "You must be born again". Born of Spirit. A new creation. Jesus died; literally killed the vehicle of sin and death by dying in the flesh. So when we are born again, we really are new creatures. Old things have passed away. This is why that seed remains sin-free. Because sin worked through the flesh. Adam was in the flesh and sinned in the flesh. Sin can't work in the Spirit. It's not the right vehicle (seed) for sin.
I got to thinking about the beginning, brothers such as you and me in the 1970s. I was thinking about contrast. Then and now, what were the less obvious differences, those invisible spiritual things that are under the surface, not seen by the human eye, only discerned, if you have discernment? Things seemingly small, yet so important, unnoticed by many. It was my experience then that I met two sets of circumstances that were totally different.
I went to a few churches before I got invited to go to the East Coast. The churches were formal; it involved teaching and a form of doctrine. If you agreed to the knowledge they tried to impart to you, you might even get to be an elder. You were certainly a member of their church. You might even get an immediate invitation for a baptism. There were many other churches in this same city; in fact, there were several just a block away. But they never fellowshipped together, separated I guess by their doctrines, their denomination. Some back then even claimed not to have a denomination, yet you found out there was no such thing. They still had beliefs that would cause them to separate from you, if you thought differently.
How different when I got to the East Coast. Brothers meeting you, knowing nothing about you, not caring what doctrines you believed. They didn't invite you to their church, so they could impart any certain knowledge to you. It was just Christ and Him crucified. Actually, no one even went to church, but the life in these people who met together from two or three states was unmistakable. The fellowship was around a simple profession of Christ and simple evidence of Life streaming from the inside of that other person you had just met. Then, of course, there was a witness of the Spirit and you knew you had just met a brother. You didn't know what he believed, about anything, but you knew he believed in that one thing that mattered. And the evidence was perceived: Life. If that brother didn't have that, man, it was witnessing time. It didn't matter if he was a guy on the street or a pastor. You either had Jesus and His life or you didn't. If he didn't have that Life, he wasn't a brother and their was NO WAY you could fellowship with him, so you knew you just had to tell him the good news.
There was no separation about doctrine, or denomination, what you wore, who you hung with, what you ate, none of that. Just brothers and sisters with Life! A simple gospel and a simple fellowship. Then somewhere in the late '70s or early '80s, something happened. It was as if someone marched into the room and announced a new ownership or new management. Next thing you knew, that Life was gone. The simpleness had been replaced with knowledge, creeds, licenses and labels. The life became a routine, a set of doctrines, a denomination, a determined set of do this and don't do that, and you're one of us.
But the life was gone; it just faded and being a Christian became a vocation, like going to work. Clock in, clock out, do this, do that, read, pray, go to church. No Life! No fellowship of the Spirit. All that replaced with a new fellowship, a fellowship based on a likeness of beliefs, a sameness of doctrine.
So what's happened to the Jesus people? I know it's hard to be honest with ourselves, but we must see what God is saying. I want anyone who reads this to understand that I love Jesus people. I was born again at the end of the Jesus movement. In the New Testament, it speaks about seeds growing up together until the end. It also speaks about the tree of knowledge; it speaks of discernment and it speaks of revelation. The kind of revelation we are addressing is the kind of revelation that happened to Peter when He said, "You are the Christ".
So my concern for these Jesus people is that they went down the road, led by those whom they perceived as more mature and more knowledgeable than themselves. The problem is that those people whom they followed into churches, seminaries and Bible studies had no "encounter", as did the same Jesus people they wanted to tutor. Now these more "mature" people had good hearts and I'm not questioning their motives, but the fact is there is life and death in our midst. There is religion and relationship, there are two seeds in our midst.
Why do you think church services for the most part were dead in the '50s and '60s until the Jesus movement? Did any of these leaders have an encounter with Jesus? Did they have times where Jesus spoke to them? Were they seeing miracles around them? I contend they were not. Now, we know God moves in waves and seasons. But I'm not addressing that. I'm saying we have two seeds: Religious people full of knowledge and rituals, and people who have Life from another seed. We don't happen to know who these people are. God has not revealed that and we all hope to belong to Him and to be found in Christ. So throughout time, we see two seeds: One, the tree of life and one the tree of knowledge.
(Note from David: The tree of knowledge was not for the natural man that the Bible says Adam was. It only revealed his sin when God wanted him in innocence. This is why Adam covered his nakedness when he partook of knowledge. The spiritual man born of Jesus Christ is the one knowledge is for. He will not be puffed up or religious but will use it to manifest Christ in him who is the Word in flesh. Jesus gives much knowledge to bring us into His image. He is wisdom. Knowledge to a Pharisee is destructive. Knowledge to a disciple brings him into the image of Jesus.)