Jay McCarl is an author, pastor, chaplain, theologian, historian, artist and Holy Land tour leader, specializing in eschatology, ancient Near Eastern logic and semantics, the Book of Revelation and chaplaincy crisis response. For more than twenty-five years he has led study tours and taught at actual Biblical sites in Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Greece and Italy, including many locations where future events are prophesied to occur. In 1998 he began Biblical Dinners Ministries, featuring unique presentations on the Last Supper, Biblical Weddings and more. Jay has Masters and Bachelors degrees in Chaplaincy Ministry and has served as both a Senior Pastor and Chaplain for over 30 years. He has been married to his wife Kathee for more than forty years and has four grown children. Jay has, as he says, “the best job in the world—making the Bible simple.”
So, here I am: pastor of Calvary Georgetown Divide serving folks in the Sierra backwoods. I speak a lot, do Biblical Dinners, Galilean Weddings, teach, preach and more, in amazing places for wonderful people. I’m an author, Law Enforcement Chaplain, Israel tour leader and speaker, teacher, artist, musician, husband and dad. And though it goes without saying, this is my personal blog—the views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of CGD, PCLEC or anyone but me. There you go.
I despised all things God, Jesus and religion—a 10-year old atheist. My Darwinian indoctrination in grade school had done its work. Then the God-who-wasn’t-there showed up in the form of a classmate wearing a snappy Boy Scout-ish uniform. Whatever organization it was, I wanted in and my friend arranged a ride to the meeting. It was at a church.
The ‘scouts’ were actually ‘Royal Rangers’ and the church was Pentecostal (to put it mildly). My skin crawled. A man with a flattop haircut greeted me warmly, then turned to the boys and said a terrible thing. “Let’s pray.” And they did—twenty young men stood up and began to wriggle and speak in tongues. Horrified. Someone finally said “amen” and they got down to business—and to my dismay, it was fun—so fun, in fact, that I returned the next week—and the next. And that was when Mr. Flat-top knelt in front of me and asked, “Would you like receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior?” I inexplicably answered, “Why not?” and prayed. The Atheist died.
Two years later my family moved to Southern California. What followed was four years of ugly: violent bullies, coerced academic mediocrity (good grades made one a target), few friends and no Christians. It wasn’t long before I relapsed into serious doubts about God, reasoning that if God existed He didn’t care about people (condition of the world, Vietnam, et al)—or perhaps He just wasn’t there at all—that humanity was consigned to meaningless extinction. So I prayed—and it wasn’t a nice prayer. “God, if you’re there, you’d better prove it, or tomorrow night I’ll leave you forever.” I meant it with resolve.
To my surprise, God showed up again the next morning at gym class in the form of two social rejects.
“You need to come to Campus Life tonight,” they insisted. “No,” I said, “I’m busy.” They insisted and offered me a ride. I was out of excuses. Again (and to my dismay) the meeting was fun and I didn’t want to have fun. Then the leader, a former NFL linebacker, began a peculiar discussion. The subject was hope—not a syrupy, superficial placebo for a troubled world, but a piercing declaration that life held no lasting hope unless it came from Jesus. I was stunned—and prayed again. “OK, God, I’m listening.”
Life changed and High School became filled with the unexpected: evangelism, discipleship, forgiving bullies and being mentored by men like Ray Schmautz, the young John McArthur, Dennis Agajanian and Ben Patterson. After graduation I joined Campus Life staff and pursued college degrees in fine arts and astronomy. Those were the days of the Jesus Movement, and I attended Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa and got involved in their many ministries.
To maintain my habit (food) I became a sail-maker until going full-time with YFC. In 1979 I married Kathee Alexander and we relocated to the Napa Valley to assist at a big church that self-destructed two years later. Following a brief sojourn in San Diego I took a position at Calvary Chapel in Auburn, CA, and two years later we planted a church near Cool, CA, where I’ve pastored ever since. Cool. Really.
The subsequent years have been my most exhilarating, exhausting and fulfilling—I’m breathless and blessed. Above all, my love for Jesus still grows—He’s still everything to me. He forgave my sins and taught me to forgive, chased me down when I ran and took me down when I got cocky. He cared when I didn’t, stayed faithful when I wasn’t and loved me when I hated. I am His forever.
Maybe He’s chasing you, too. Let Him catch up—He won’t hurt you. He saves.
As a friend wrote once wrote,
“You’re on the ride of your life,
Only God knows where you’re headed;
Sit down, hold tight,
You’ll go places you never imagined;
Through the ups and downs, twists and turns,
It’ll be quite a ride…”
It has. Thanks for checking in.