Atheist to Believer - Matt Bagwell's Story

Atheist to Believer - Matt Bagwell's Story
Side B Stories
Atheist to Believer - Matt Bagwell's Story

Jun 09 2023 | 01:12:36

Episode 0 June 09, 2023 01:12:36

Hosted By

Jana Harmon

Show Notes

Negative life experiences caused former atheist Matt Bagwell to reject God and Christianity.  Change in life circumstances allowed him to find an authentic kind of belief in God that he didn't think possible.

YouTube: @marksofmanhood  

[email protected]

Atheists Finding God book Promo Code: LXFANDF30

Women in Apologetics

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:02 So I, I had developed my own morality, my own belief system, and, and it was just, you know, I kind of, I don't know how to describe it any other way than it's like, it's like you're, you're putting salt on, on something. It's a little bit of this and a little bit of this spice, a little bit of this belief. Um, you know, everyone can go into heaven. Oh, that little bit of that belief. And so, uh, I had developed my own belief system, and it most definitely did not involve God got. Speaker 2 00:00:41 Hello, and thanks for joining in. I'm Jenna Harmon, and you're listening to Sibe Stories where we see how skeptics live the record of their lives. Each podcast we listen to someone who has once been an atheist or skeptic, but it became a Christian against all odds. You can hear more of these stories at our Sebe stories [email protected]. We also welcome your comments on these stories on our Facebook page, where you can email us [email protected]. We love hearing from you. Also, please know that many of these former atheists and skeptics have made themselves available to talk with anyone who has questions about God or faith. If you'd like to connect with one of them, please email [email protected] and we'll get you connected. As much as most of us would like to say that our beliefs are well thought out, our rational conclusions based on reasoned investigations, the truth is that sometimes, in fact, many times our beliefs are grounded in something other than rational. Speaker 2 00:01:43 Sometimes what we think has been shaped through our experiences in life, negative circumstances and difficult experiences, can and do lead people to conclude that God isn't real, because life isn't good, that if he was real, then life wouldn't be so bad. Or sometimes negative experiences with religious belief and believers may also prove convincing not towards belief in God, but rather away. So negative experiences, whether in life or through religion, or re with religious believers, can cause someone to turn away from belief in God as something or someone worth believing in, but then most express their disbelief for rational reasons. Demanding that belief in God requires reasoned arguments and evidence. Let's just say that the motivations and influences towards disbelief and belief are complex and complicated. The reasons for moving away from and towards God are not always clear, and the pathway away and towards God is not always straightforward. Speaker 2 00:02:58 Oftentimes, there are meanderings and wanderings three steps forward and two steps back, more like a journey of twists and turns, than a clear path from change in believing and living from one way to another. In today's story, Matt Bagwell was once an atheist, who now devotes his life to following Jesus Christ with a desire to be a church pastor. His road from atheism to strong belief was not always straightforward, but rather a process of change Over time, I hope you'll come along to listen to his journey. Welcome to Iby Stories. Matt, it's so great to have you with me today. Speaker 1 00:03:41 Thank you for having me. Speaker 2 00:03:43 Wonderful. So the listeners know a little bit about who you are before we get into your story. Matt, tell us a little bit about, um, where you live, perhaps what you do, a little bit about your life. Speaker 1 00:03:55 Well, uh, up until recently, um, I was the youth pastor and elder of a local church here in Rockaway Beach, Oregon. So I am literally half a mile away from the Oregon coast. I can walk right to the coast every single day, <laugh>. Speaker 2 00:04:14 Oh, that must be so nice. Speaker 1 00:04:16 Yeah. And currently, I, uh, I have a, uh, a YouTube channel where, uh, it's called Marks of Manhood. And it, it's a little hit or miss right now because I'm still trying to, uh, figure out how to, um, deliver content, um, how to write content for, uh, uh, an audience rather than a local church. But my desire is to have this channel and also eventually to lead a, a local church as a, as a head pastor somewhere. That's my primary calling, is to preach and teach God's word. Speaker 2 00:04:51 That's amazing, especially knowing that you have atheism in your history, that you are a pastor now. So I'm really looking forward to understanding that journey. So why don't we, why don't we start there? Um, let's, let's back up to your childhood. Let's figure out, um, how all of your beliefs were formed, both atheism and Christianity. Tell, talk to us about your home of origin, your family, um, your friends, your, your culture, your surroundings. Did you grow up in Oregon? Where, where are you from and and what did that look like as a child? Speaker 1 00:05:25 Yeah, thank you. Um, so, okay. Uh, my story begins as far as I can remember it in Milwaukee, Oregon. And, uh, I've lived in Oregon all my life, kind of bounced from, you know, home to home, living in different places, different cities, but all within Oregon. And, uh, um, it was largely, uh, I I would consider it secular. So in other words, um, there were some instances of, um, of, of times when my dad, for example, would pray over the food. There were times where, uh, God was discussed, but very, very briefly. And other times, uh, I actually have only one memory as a child, as a young child of going to like a kid's church. And so the just one memory, one instance of going to church in largely a secular home, we didn't know anything of Jesus. Then I'm talking about my formative early years, right? Speaker 1 00:06:29 So, um, I do recall though, you know, going to, uh, three hours south, uh, in Oregon to where my, uh, both of my grandparents on both of my mom and dad's side were living at. And, um, I do recall seeing like religious things, you know, like a cross or I would see a Bible, or there's the common painting, uh, of, of a man praying over, over a Bible with and, uh, and a woman praying. Uh, and I would see these things, but again, it was never discussed. It was never pushed on us, uh, in, in the sense that, Hey, Matt, do you believe in Jesus Christ, your Lord, and sa uh, and trust him as your Lord and Savior? There was nothing like that at all. Um, so like I said, largely secular, and same with my friends. Um, uh, again, growing up elementary school kind of thing, where that wasn't really a focus of ours. It was mostly like sports and art and, you know, stuff like that. Um, so largely secular. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:07:35 Hmm. So it, there were, there were bits and pieces or, um, signs of, of faith around you, but really nothing penetrating your life and any kind of substantive or personal way. It was just perhaps in the background of your life Yep. Or dotted here and there. Speaker 1 00:07:55 Yep. I do, I, you know, I do wanna point this out because, uh, I, I, I look at this memory very fondly now, and so I do wanna point it out. I do remember one time I was probably about six, seven years old, something like that, very young. And, uh, and I went into my grandma's, uh, room. I, I don't remember why. And, um, and, and this is grandma on my mom's side, and I went into her room and my grandfather had died years prior to this. And I went into her room, and I still remember it like it was yesterday. She had a desk in her bedroom, and I went, I approached the desk and I could see this book, and the book was this Bible, and the Bible was highlighted, underlined. I mean, you know, the pages were dirty, and you could see that this Bible was so, so looked at and, and just, you know, just absorbed into. And, um, I have such a fond memory of that moment because I have no doubt that my grandma prayed for me <laugh>. Mm-hmm. And I have no doubt about it. Speaker 2 00:09:04 Did your, that that's a sweet memory, really. I'm sure. Did your grandmother ever talk with you about God or the Bible or Jesus? Speaker 1 00:09:16 Um, unfortunately, I have no recollection of that. And, uh, and, and I, I, I wouldn't say that that it's her fault or that, that this is a failing on her part. No. I actually, you know, I, I look at, at things quite differently now, that first of all, it was God's will that I were to grow up the way that I grew up and experience the things that I experienced. And so, uh, I don't look at it as a failing on grandma's part or my, or my parents' part anymore. It was largely a cultural thing. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, within Christianity, uh, so for example, uh, I have noticed, this is my experience, so I don't have any statistics or anything. I have noticed that the older generation, you know, the baby boomers, they were not so focused on discipleship, and they were not so focused on, um, the great commission to go out into the world and make disciples. Teaching them to obey all that crisis commanded us. That wasn't really a focus of, uh, the older generation as it is now, right. In, in our present generation. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:10:34 Yeah. I think perhaps, um, several decades ago, the Christian, I guess you could say Christianity was a bit more culturally present and perhaps taken for granted and presumed, and perhaps they didn't feel the need for, um, going deeper or, or trying to influence others because it seemed that everything, or every, everyone was a Christianized in a sense. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, perhaps even even an a nominal sense. But, but nevertheless, uh, your parents had some remnant of Christianity, it sounds like Baptist or, or, or whatever, but, but you didn't have a have any active, like, presence of going to church or anything like that? Speaker 1 00:11:21 It, it wasn't until around 13 or so that, uh, I, I started to really, truly form, uh, atheism or my belief around God in any measurable sense. Um, yeah, because I, I started, I started actually briefly attending church when, uh, because my parents separated and then got divorced. And then all within one year, by the way, I think it was like 14 months that my parents separated, got divorced, and my dad was remarried all within about 14 months. Speaker 2 00:11:54 <laugh>. Oh my, that's a lot. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:11:56 It's a lot for Speaker 2 00:11:57 A child. Speaker 1 00:11:58 Yeah. And, you know, so, uh, just being brutally honest, that what that began was this bitterness and anger and outright hatred towards Christianity, because, you know, every other weekend I went from seeing my dad sparsely when he was in the home. Uh, and, and again, my dad was providing for the family. I have no, no, uh, animosity towards that. I think it's great, uh, to then, you know, after, after they were divorced, I would see him every other weekend. And, you know, again, being a, a stupid teenager like myself, that I was just so angry and so bitter that I didn't want anything to do with my, with my dad. I wanted to just spend, uh, time in my room alone, isolated and, uh, just, just dwelling on all this anger that I had and no outlet to, to, to get rid of it. And so, um, but every other weekend I would go to his house, his new house with his new family, and I now had a, a new stepbrother and stepsister and, uh, and I would start seeing like the, the Christians and their, their walk with the Lord. And I started seeing so many different problems, so many different problems. Speaker 2 00:13:16 What were you seeing? Speaker 1 00:13:18 Well, I, um, I would see them, you know, and, and this is my perspective, it's tainted by, uh, by, like I said, by anger, bitterness and, and sin that you're, you're watching these people and they're smiling at each other. They're saying nice kind things. Uh, they proclaim to love Jesus and, uh, the things of Jesus. But then, you know, church gets out and it's like a light switch would come off. Oh, okay. Check that off the list kind of thing. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> don't have to be a Christian right now. And, uh, I mean, <laugh>, anecdotally, how many times have we heard that the worst tippers in, in a restaurant are often Christians, <laugh>. Yeah. So, and, and I would see this behavior, you know, this, uh, hypocrisy or at any rate, the hypocrisy that I perceived. Right. So, yeah, I mean, that, that's just, that's just some of the issues. But, um, you know, uh, my, my thing was, uh, okay, well, the answer isn't in some deity in the sky. Um, it, instead, the answer for me was science. So I look to science to solve the questions of this life. So, yeah. Speaker 2 00:14:35 Okay. Yeah. I, I can see from your own life experience and how disappointing that would be, um, particularly Yeah. Being torn from your, your father and then the hypocrisy of the Christians. It was just a, a kind of a lethal combination for you there mm-hmm. <affirmative> at that time. And so you separated yourself from any kind of religion or faith or God, and then you embraced what science had to bring for you at that time. Were you identifying as an agnostic or an atheist, or, I mean, were you saying these kinds of things out loud? Were you just kind of thinking them to yourself? There can't be a God, I can't believe in God. You know, science is more rational or reasonable way forward. Speaker 1 00:15:22 I would say I started off just, I didn't know, flat out, didn't know. I wouldn't call myself agnostic. And I most certainly, you know, 13, 14 years old, I wouldn't call myself an atheist quite yet. Hmm. Um, I do recognize though, that, um, as time progressed, I moved swiftly from, I don't know if God exists to science now, has all the answers and can solve all of life's problems. And the, the, like I said, the consistent observations I was making about the Christian faith, and, and it just, it just continued to be all these holes in, in the Swiss cheese, so to speak. I see. Of belief where it was, it was, okay, oh, there's another hole. Oh, there's another hole. And so, um, until finally, you know, the collapse of morality and that, that I, I truly became an atheist. But really, I mean, <laugh>, you know what scripture says about atheism, <laugh>, what is it? Speaker 1 00:16:28 Proverbs? And in the Psalms, it says, the fool says in his heart that there is no God. And truly, I truly was foolish. I, I was very, very foolish. Um, atheism is just, for me, is just another extension of me wanting to do, uh, what I wanted to do in sin. My selfish desires carried out, you know, Romans one, the, the depravity of my, my mind, um, I, it was trying to invent new ways to sin, you know? So I mean, it, it became, you know, where, you know, you had stability in the home, then there was divorce, uh, some, some trauma, you know, spiritual trauma, so to speak. Um, uh, mental trauma, not necessarily that I, I'm identified by these things, you know, but they marked me, you know? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, just the, just this, I was an angry, bitter young man. And, um, and so, uh, it, it, it was just this constant tearing down of, of belief until finally collapse, where now it's just, all right, I don't believe in God at all. And then from atheism, then the, the quick progression from atheism to hostility to Christians. So, and that's a very quick slide often, so, yeah. Speaker 2 00:17:53 Mm-hmm. So that was when you were a teenager mm-hmm. <affirmative>, middle school, high school, around that time where Speaker 1 00:18:00 Yeah. Middle school. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Speaker 2 00:18:02 Mm. Yeah. That, that's such a pivotal time, isn't it, when you're becoming a bit more independence, starting to think a little bit more deeply, also trying to find a sense of self and independence. And it sounds like something you just didn't want in your life that you wanted, like you say, to do what you wanted to do, and that, that, uh, science would provide. The answers were, again, I know that peers also influenced it. Were, were friends of yours thinking similarly. Speaker 1 00:18:31 Well, um, actually this is, this is actually something kind of interesting about what you're asking, because, so before everything like really started to accelerate, um, with events that, you know, we'll get to in a little bit here, but, uh, so this is a freshman, sophomore timeframe in high school. So I'm 15, 16 years old, and, uh, I had, uh, I didn't have very many friends growing up. Um, I would have like one or two, uh, growing up here and there. Uh, and so I did have a friend, uh, in high school, and, um, I'm actually gonna point him to this, uh, podcast, <laugh>, I'm not gonna name him. Okay. All right. But, um, but he, uh, he, he didn't necessarily encourage atheism, but he did, uh, start the, the process of, of talking about the Lord, um, where he, he was just a lot more, um, passive than I would've been back in those days. Speaker 1 00:19:31 I was way more aggressive, way more, you know, in your face, way more, you know, God doesn't exist, and here's why. Let me write a dissertation for you instead. He was just more passive in the sense that, yeah, there, there's a God, he exists. Jesus died for our sins, the end, you know, very matter of fact. And then that was it. And, um, but, uh, on, on the flip side, and this is my criticism, is that, uh, of, of my friend is that, uh, <laugh> is that he, he never, so I started stealing during this time and lying, um, like I had a whole philosophy of, of belief when it came to lying. Uh, I knew what lies would work. I knew what lies didn't work. I knew that if it's tinged with truth, that the lie would, would work better. And so, I mean, like, I had a whole belief system around lying and then consequently around stealing, but ultimately to, you know, really put it succinctly, my philosophy around stealing was essentially, I want that. Speaker 1 00:20:40 I don't have that, and so I'm going to take that. So there was no, oh, well, you know, because I used to rationalize and say, well, I'm broke, or I don't have a job, or I will never get this, you know, that sort of thing. But at the end of the day, the, the true reason I was stealing was because I wanted it. It's just sinful, selfish desire. And so I, uh, I, I was stealing and I was lying, and I was telling my, my friend about all these things that I was doing. And never once did this Christian friend you say, Hey, you know, bro, um, <laugh>, that's not the wisest course of action, you know, you shouldn't be stealing. Um, it's, it's really not good, uh, you know, or some sort of corrective kind of speech or, or anything. It was, it was, he was very, very hands off in that way. Yeah. Mm-hmm. Speaker 2 00:21:33 You know, it's, it's, it is an interesting thing that it, that it's, it seems easy to hold contempt against a group of people or, you know, uh, ideology, but against a person if they don't quite live up to the narrative or of the way that you think of the group as a whole. And they're breaking that, you know, like, he probably wouldn't have been your friend if you had held contempt against him personally, but yet you're telling me you had a Christian friend. So how, how did you work that out in your mind? Did you have some respect for him as a person or as an an individual, even though you didn't respect his Christianity? Speaker 1 00:22:13 Oh, man, that has such a wonderful question. Um, I will admit, I've never really given this much thought. Um, but, uh, the only thing I can come up with is it, th this would be, I mean, it's the hypocrisy of mankind really, where you're like, well, uh, I hate this group, or I, I despise this about this group of people, you know, Christians, but over here, oh, this guy's okay. You know, um, I, you know, how did we get past that? Uh, I, I do recall, very rarely would we discuss religion. So it was kind of like, y you know, the modern belief in, um, in, uh, jobs today where it's like the two topics of discussion that you don't talk about at work, you know, politics and religion, right? Uh, we talked about politics, but we just didn't talk about religion all that much. Speaker 1 00:23:08 Um, we found, we, him and I had a common ground of, uh, video games and technology. And so we, we primarily focused on those things. And then, you know, through countless hours of talking over the phone and, uh, meeting people or meeting each other, and, you know, we were 10, 15 minutes away from each other, I could walk to his house, so many conversations, and during that time, you know, the Lord would come up. But I, I don't recall what the, what the results would be. Um, so it would, the only thing I can determine because of that is that we wouldn't have that many conversations about it, probably, uh, because he started noticing I was getting elevated or angry or whatever, and he's like, well, I'm not gonna touch that with a 50 foot pole. So, Speaker 2 00:24:00 Okay, okay. But it's good that you could have a congenial, uh, relationship, a friendship mm-hmm. <affirmative> with things that you held in common. Uh, you also mentioned that you, you, uh, on your path of, of, in a teen and as a teenager, that you were lying and stealing and, uh, self-justifying, but then you reached a point where you didn't even feel like you had to self justify that you just wanted what you wanted. Um, would you have, did you have a sense that you lost a, a hmm, that sense of self-judgment or your conscience, um, that you just, you just started doing things without even thinking about it? Speaker 1 00:24:41 Um, I think, um, for, for sin, there's always a consequence. You know, the, in Romans three, it talks about how the wages of sin is death. And so ultimately that is, may not be a physical death, but is most assuredly a spiritual death. And so I, uh, I think it says in Romans one that my conscience was seared. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So in other words, I was doing, I was sinning and doing all manner of illegal things. I mean, all manner of illegal things where I had to do community service at one point, um, because I threatened, uh, a young man, you know, we were both in high school, so I had run-ins with the law, um, you know, just doing all manner of wicked things. And so, um, I, I do recall it. It was always, um, so I think in psychology, they call it, uh, redirection. So you are, um, you're accused of something, well, you're a thief, or you, you shouldn't steal that, or whatever it is, some sort of corrective action. And instead, the redirect is, well, no, you know, you are the issue, you know, I'm broke, so it's never taking personal responsibility for my actions and or for what I'm saying, it's always someone else's problem, <laugh>. Right. Some other issue, <laugh>, Speaker 2 00:26:03 Right? Yeah. Pointing away from yourself and personal responsibilities. So, yep. So you obviously were not moving towards God, you were moving farther away. Yeah. And, um, so at some point, you, you, you identified as an atheist. Did you, you just continued down this road of kind of anti-God, uh, sentiment. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:26:27 Yep. Uh, it, and this anti-God sentiment was probably, it was a good three years. And I know it doesn't sound like a lot, but, um, and then we'll kind of get into what happened after that. But, uh, but there was, there was a lot going on <laugh> tell in those three years. Tell us, yeah. Three, four years or so, um, where, yeah, it was, uh, I very much identified as an atheist, um, I would say outright to, because I knew that it would disturb my, my dad, because my dad's a believer that I don't believe in his God. And, you know, according to you, you say this and Christianity says that, and that's wrong. So I, I had developed my own morality, my own belief system, and, and it was just, you know, I kind of, I don't know how to describe it any other way than it's like, it's like you're, you're putting salt on, on something. It's a little bit of this, and a little bit of this spice, a little bit of this belief, um, you know, everyone can go into heaven. Oh, that little bit of that belief. And so, uh, I had developed my own belief system, and it most definitely did not involve God. Okay. It was, it was all centered around science and rational thought, logic, reason, uh, science. That, and, and ultimately, though, you know, and I say this, I say this to be transparent, is that science was my God at the time. Speaker 2 00:28:05 I'd like to take a moment to tell you about an amazing conference coming up next month, organized by women in Apologetics. For those of you who aren't familiar with women in Apologetics, they exist to educate, equip, and encourage women in knowing and defending the Christian worldview. They're passionate about helping women to think deeply and intelligently about their faith. They have loads of resources available to help you become a stronger ambassador for the Christian faith. You can find them and their resources on their website, women in This year, the Women in Apologetics conference will focus on orthodoxy and dispelling counterfeits. The speakers will talk about the essentials of the historic Christian faith and how this orthodox Christian worldview compares to other views of reality. They'll talk about critical issues such as evidence for the reliability of scripture, do all paths lead to God speaking truth boldly in a secular culture? Among many other intriguing topics. This wonderful conference will be held on June 9th and 10th in Anaheim, California. But you can also stream it online. You can see all of the speakers in the full schedule, as well as register for the conference on their website. Again, that is I hope you'll take a look now, back to our story. Speaker 2 00:29:45 So science had the answers, and, um, and so you were seeing the, I'm, I'm just curious, as you were studying and learning, and were you finding that science was providing substantive answers for not only the questions around you and the world, but also questions with regard to your own life? I mean, did it make sense, um, the worldview without God, where, I mean, did you believe that the only thing that existed was the material world or mm-hmm. <affirmative>, were you, were you working through that in terms of how that, um, every question that we're asking has to be answered within that, uh, seeming reductionistic framework of reality mm-hmm. <affirmative>? Speaker 1 00:30:36 Yep. Um, for me, it was the, uh, I looked at the scientific method, and I really appreciated the, the fact that, you know, it's were to test and to retest to see if it's true. Um, ultimately, and so the scientific method, and, and I saw just the, the birth of it was primarily the, the birth of the, uh, the cosmos, you know, so the Big Bang, uh, I saw that as being able to answer, uh, creation, uh, as what we would define as creation. And I, um, also looked at evolution as something that explains like where we are right now. And, uh, you know, um, I saw just, I saw the answers not, um, not coming from the Bible, or coming from Christians who were apologies or defending the faith in some way. Uh, in fact, those were largely silent. Uh, instead, I saw all the answers coming from science or from school, which, you know, is also largely secular. Speaker 1 00:31:47 So I saw a lot of the answers. And, and, um, you know, same with psychology, where the mind is, is being, um, understood more and more. And, you know, so I saw answers in psychology as well. So I just, I just saw God as just an ancient throwback <laugh> to, uh, to, to what, what we now were developing answers to. And the, the true unanswered questions we would eventually find the answers to. But some of them, you know, like, what, what happens after we die? Then just was like, eh, you know, who cares? You know, I'm a teenager, I don't really think about death, so it doesn't really affect me. I don't care. So, right. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:32:37 So how, how, you said you were in this place for about three years mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So tell us then, or walk us forward in terms of what caused you to, to question your atheism or your, your, your worldview that, that it wasn't making sense, or, or you gave God another chance or something opened the door towards another way of thinking what happened? Speaker 1 00:33:06 Well, um, that's a great question. It, it was, it wasn't, it was a, um, a particular event that started a chain reaction of things. So, um, so what happened, uh, here I am 17 years old. Um, uh, again, I need to frame this properly. I had recently dropped out of high school <laugh>. I was working at Rite Aid as a cashier, and, uh, working the night shift because it paid more so, you know, greed of the, of the heart, you know, I just wanted money. Sure, Speaker 2 00:33:40 Sure. Speaker 1 00:33:41 Uh, and so I'm, and, and so I, I stole a hard drive from, so, um, someone who trusted me, and I was an intern at their, uh, at their store. So this isn't a Rite Aid store, this is a separate store. And so I stole, stole this hard drive. Now remember, this is 1997, and hard drives were really expensive back then. Speaker 2 00:34:03 Oh, okay. Speaker 1 00:34:05 And, uh, so I stole this thing, take it home. I start using it, and that, and I'm on the phone. Ironically, I'm on the phone with my Christian friend, <laugh>, and I'm bragging to him on the phone, and, uh, my voice carries. And so I'm really loud and about how I've stolen this hard drive and how <laugh>, I'm just so happy with it. It's so awesome. And, um, just bragging, very arrogant. And my mom, uh, you know, down the hall, cuz again, I'm being loud, uh, over heres this conversation. And I had stolen so much and been given so much grace and mercy by my parents that my mom's like, you know what? I'm done with you. Oh, uh, you're out of the house. Uh, you need to get outta my house right now. And so my mom actually, and I'm a minor, so my mom calls, my dad says, he needs to get in my outta my house. He was stealing, blah, blah, blah. So, uh, <laugh> again, consequence of sin, I could not live with my dad either because I had stolen so much from, uh, him, my stepmom, my stepbrother didn't matter if it was not nailed down, I was stealing it. Oh, wow. And so, uh, couldn't, you know, couldn't, uh, stay with them. And so, uh, I went to go live with my grandma over, uh, three hours south from where I was living at the time, uh, grandma on my, my dad's side. Speaker 2 00:35:35 Okay. Speaker 1 00:35:36 And, uh, <laugh>. And so this is what began the chain of events, was this incident. So I went to go live with grandma, and it was wonderful. Um, it, not at the time, at the time, I was just very despondent and depressed. And, um, you know, because again, the pride, why, why is this happening to me? Well, it's because you're stealing and you're lying, and you're being a stupid teenager, <laugh>, right? So, so I, I live with grandma, and the first thing she says to me when I go and live with her, she says, Matthew, you're gonna be doing two things when you come to this house. One, you're gonna be going to church with me every Sunday, and two, you're going to the Y M C A to work out <laugh>. Okay? Okay? Yes ma'am. <laugh> <laugh>. And so, uh, and, and so again, remember I dropped down a high school. Speaker 1 00:36:26 And so, uh, dad was very, very kind and very gracious where he paid for, um, it was a, a Christian private school, like a homeschool situation. And so he paid for that for me to go back to high school. And, um, and I was able to do a homeschool thing because my grandma was, I think 34, 35 years retired, or no, 39, I think it was 39 years as a, uh, as a teacher. Okay. Um, and, uh, so I was able to live with her, go to go to high school, you know, it's a homeschool, um, go work out and go to Sunday service at the church there. And, you know, I started seeing, you know, at church, I started seeing, uh, believers that were not giving lip service to Christ. They weren't check in, check out Christians. Uh, they actually lived it. And I remember the love, uh, I've never felt for towards me. Speaker 1 00:37:30 I've never felt that kind of love, not from a stranger. And so I felt their love. I, I just, I was very, very broken at the time. And, uh, you know, like, how could someone love me? I'm worthless, that sort of thing. And, uh, so I started questioning that, right? Like, so now I'm being challenged about, hey, these are not hypocrites. These are actually living, uh, living out what crisis commanded us to do, to love one another. Right? So I see it, I'm hearing the word. And, um, before I would go to church with dad every other weekend, I would fall asleep on my dad's shoulder and not hear the word of God. And now, you know, I'm 17 and I'm hearing the word of God. I'm hearing it faithfully being proclaimed, and it was great. And I heard the gospel, the good news. And, um, I don't have a specific day unfortunately, or, or anything like that, but I came to believe in Christ at that point, um mm-hmm. Speaker 1 00:38:33 <affirmative>, because, but it, it was still a slow, a slow, you know, slow progression because I was, you know, very broken, felt rejected by my mom and by my parents, and, you know, my own consequences of my own actions, of course. And, um, so I, at one point, and I'm living with grandma at the time, and I remember this distinctly, I had a desire to know what truth was. Um, and so I was like, okay, I'm going to study all the world religions, not all of them, but the majo, the big ones. And so I studied Daoism, I studied, uh, the Muslim faith. I studied, uh, Hinduism, if I remember right. I studied the typical Native American belief systems, and I studied Christianity. And, um, the only way I can describe it is it, you know, I would study something in the Muslim faith, and, and then it was like a rubber band where I would then be redirected back to Christ and the Christian faith, uh, I'd studied Native American belief system and then back to Christ. Speaker 1 00:39:42 And, you know, again, uh, the scripture comes to my mind where Jesus says that, uh, seeking you will find, you know, he is truth. And so I was seeking truth. And little did I know at the time that I was literally seeking Christ <laugh>. Mm. So, uh, so yeah, I heard the gospel, I repented of my sins. I turned away from that. I was baptized sometime in summer of 97, so I was 17 still. All this took place pretty quickly within nine months or so. And, uh, and, and it was, it was great. I still have the pictures, and so whenever I feel down I, or, or whatever, or, uh, then I'll look at my baptism pictures cuz they're pretty extraordinary. So. Oh, Speaker 2 00:40:31 I bet, I bet, I bet your parents couldn't believe it. I bet your grandmother, considering where you came from when you moved into your grandmother's house and you were, you know, suffering with the consequences of your sin. Uh, but yet you encountered this, this real love of a people who not only loved you, but they believed what they believed to be true, and they, they lived it out. Um, and now you're, and you said you became broken. You were humbled, um, by their love, and they made you feel loved. But you're also talking in terms of not only the truth of Christ and the person of Christ, but also the gospel as someone who was feeling, I suppose, badly about yourself. You know, you've used the, the word sin a good bit, um, that you knew that you were doing things that were harmful to yourself and to others. And, but for some reason that, that you were feeling the weight of that in some sense. Mm-hmm. So, I'm wondering if what you were hearing from the pulpit, for those who may not have heard the gospel, can you des describe what you were hearing that was so transformational for you to understand who this person of Christ was? Yep. Speaker 1 00:41:53 Um, I thank you for asking this. This is very, I'm very, very passionate about it. So I'm gonna start with the bad news first. Um, so the bad news is, is that we're sinners, <laugh>, we have, uh, inherited from our first parents, Adam and Eve, uh, a sin nature. So in other words, we are completely dead in our trespasses and sins, as Ephesians two talks about. Um, we are completely dead. So in other words, we're not on life support. We're not inherently good. We are inherently wicked, and all of our desires are inherently wicked. That, um, Romans one discusses that, and you see that play out in scripture where, um, you know, I think it's in Jeremiah, it, it says that, uh, our hearts are deceitful and wicked above all things who can know it. And the inherent answer is that God knows our hearts. Speaker 1 00:42:49 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so because we're inherently sinful and we're wicked, we need a savior to save us from, uh, frankly ourselves, our sin. And so, uh, that is why Christ is so essential. It is not Buddha who died. It is not Mohammed who died. It is Christ who lives forever more. The reason why we believe what we, we believe is because that Christ came, uh, from a virgin, uh, and was born into this world. He condescended to us. He came from glory, from heaven to condescend lower himself to us in order to serve us. And so he came, he lived the perfect life that you and I, we can't live that life, that the law of Moses requires us to live. We can't live that life. And so he lived the life for us. It was pleasing to the Father, it says. And uh, when the time came, he was 30 when he began his ministry, he came and he proclaimed the good news that the messiah, the, the prophecy of the Messiah coming, uh, was finally here. Speaker 1 00:43:59 And the people just like today did not want to hear it. They rejected Christ. They hated what he had to say. They called him, uh, a blasphemer and a rebel. And in, uh, the dead of night, three years after his ministry began, uh, in the dead of night, they held, uh, the Sadducees and Pharisees held an illegal, uh, uh, trial against our Lord and Savior Christ. And, uh, they proclaimed him a blasphemer, and they pronounced judgment on the sinless man of God. And, um, and so they pronounced judgment. He was whipped. He was placed a crown of thorns on his, on his, on his head. And he, uh, was crucified for our sins. He was the scapegoat, as the Deuteronomy talks about, uh, of, uh, he was the, uh, the perfect spotless, sinless lamb of God, that he was our substitution. So we should be on that cross. Speaker 1 00:45:03 But instead, Christ is on that cross as our substitute. And he bled and he suffered, and he, uh, died. He gave up his soul, it says, and then he was buried and, uh, in a tomb that he did not belong to him. And he was buried. And after three days, he was resurrected. And, uh, and there were hundreds of eyewitness testimonies to this. And now this is the best part. Now he is seated at the right hand of the Father in victory. So we serve a living Christ, not a dead uh, human, not a prophet. That was a good man. We serve a living and active and beautiful Christ. That's, that is the gospel. Speaker 2 00:45:51 Hmm. That is beautiful. And, and you were sitting there as a young man feeling broken, feeling the weight of your sin. And, and then Christ, you gave your life to Christ, and Christ took that sin from you and the penalty for that sin. And so reconciled you to God and gave you this new life. Now as a, again, a young man who had known for several years, you had, um, a seared conscience and you would mm-hmm. <affirmative> lie and steal and do all kinds of things. I would imagine, um, after you accepted Christ as your Savior, that, that your life changed. Um, Speaker 1 00:46:34 Yeah. Uh, and I I had a quite a long road actually. Um, yeah, Speaker 2 00:46:39 Tell us about that. So Speaker 1 00:46:41 <laugh>, so This's 97, and then I graduate, uh, in 2000 or so, you know, I'm 20, like I said, I was a dropout, you know, uh, when I graduated from high school. So, uh, now this is not an indictment on anyone. This, and, and in fact, the, the blame lays solely on me, but I just, I need to provide this, that, so I was baptized, and then it was just like, well, now what? In my mind, now what? And so I was not taught or discipled, uh, how to read your word, how to, uh, pray. Uh, hey, you need to go to church and be in fellowship with the saints. Hey, you need to worship the Lord in spirit and truth. I was not taught any of these things. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And like I said, I, uh, this is a fault of mine, not someone else's. Speaker 1 00:47:32 And because I did not seek this out. And so instead I answered the question, okay, well, what now with, okay, well, I'll go to college. I enjoy technology, so I'll do that. I guess, I don't know. So, uh, what, uh, consequently what happened was, uh, from that moment when I graduated in 2000 to around 2013, so about 13 years or so of, uh, where what Jesus would refer in revelation as, as cold, someone who was cold in this faith. So I still believed in Jesus. I still believed in God. I still, you know, wanted to, uh, to, to, to do the things of, of Christianity, but I just didn't, I, I was not taught, and I didn't seek after him anymore. I, it's like, okay, I have the answer. I know that there's a God, so that settles that that's all I need to do. Speaker 1 00:48:30 Um, so I got my degree, uh, my two year degree married, uh, my first wife, and had out of that, I had two wonderful young, young boys and, um, who are now, oh, Skylar's 19, and Vincent is almost 18. Yeah. So, uh, yeah, I started, I started Young <laugh>. Yes. And, uh, you know, you, if you were to look at my resume, I kind of make this joke. If you were to look at my resume, it's jumping from job to job to job from cleaning the sides of, of, you know, storm drains, to lawn maintenance, to beer distribution. I, I've done a lot of things in my life. And, uh, you see someone searching after something, uh, until finally it's 2013. And I, um, am working at Les Schwab Tires, a as a technician, um, like a help desk guy. So you call in, I help with your computer. Speaker 1 00:49:28 And, uh, my coworker who's sitting right next to me who trained me, he was very, very bold in his faith as a Christian. And, uh, so I was like, oh, yeah, I'm a Christian. And, you know, he's like, yeah, but are you reading your word? Are you praying? Are you in fellowship? Well, no. Well, then what are you doing? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So he challenged me. He's like, Hey, you know, I know this great church that you would, uh, you would like, and I had felt this pull, this drag to come back to him, to the Lord, to go to church. And so, you know, I procrastinated. And then, uh, so I consider, uh, my, my birthday, so to speak, is November 3rd, 2013. And, uh, that was the day that, uh, ironically, that, um, I bypassed the, uh, the door greeters that were there, and it's like a very small church. Okay. Uh, in Bend, Oregon, by the way. And, uh, so I bypass the door greeters, and I just, I, and I don't do this. This is not me. And I, I approach my now wife, my future wife, and I say, Hey, how's it going? My name's Matt Bagwell. What's your name? <laugh>. Speaker 2 00:50:43 You were just drawn to her. Speaker 1 00:50:45 Yeah. Yes. And she was the, the first person I met. And, uh, and, and I saw, well, now my, my daughter, uh, little Lindsay, she was like six as cute as a button. And Oh, man, just, it was, it was great. And, and right there, uh, just I heard the gospel again, and, and I, and I, I, I, I always believed, but I had some, I had developed terrible theology, terrible theology Speaker 2 00:51:13 On your Speaker 1 00:51:13 Own, which is why I'm so passionate about the right, the word now, um, that, uh, just, just horrible theology, you know, again, the, the cherry picking. So what the, the attitudes and beliefs that I had done as an atheist, now I, I was doing as a cold Christian, you know, the cherry picking. Yes. And so, um, yeah. Uh, that, that is the day that I consider myself, uh, um, truly a Christian. Okay. And truly getting rid of all the things of the world, all the horrible beliefs that I once believed in. And truly, November 3rd, 2013. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:51:54 Okay. So that was a, a process in your life. Yeah. It wasn't a sudden turn as a teenager, it sounded more like a, just some twists and turns to your road. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, until you finally reached a point of, I would, I would guess full surrender, Speaker 1 00:52:12 Uh, yes, actually, that, that is a, a wonderful, uh, observation because you're right, I was holding on to, uh, pride. I was holding on to, uh, frankly, my sin that again, had developed, uh, over those 13 years of being away from the Lord and the Lord in his kind and gracious way, literally yanked all of that away from me. And you're right, I had to come to a place of, of surrender. Um, so, but yeah, there was six months when I was just constantly repenting of sin, and God was purifying my heart and forcing me to let go of the things that I once valued. So, yeah, okay. Speaker 2 00:52:55 That I, per, I presume it was worth the cost. Speaker 1 00:52:59 Christ is worth, uh, everything. In fact, you know, he, he essentially, Jesus essentially says that if you're not willing to lose your life for my sake, then you cannot be my disciple. And so, um, I know it sounds grandiose, but you have to come to a place of surrender to so much that you're willing to die for him. Um, and, and that took me a while to get there. So, but that's where I'm at now. I, I very much am his servant. Um, Christ is my master. And, um, either you're a slave to sin or you're a slave to righteousness. And frankly, I'd be a i'd ra. I've done both. And I would rather <laugh>, I'd rather be a slave to righteousness, frankly. Speaker 2 00:53:49 I'd like to take a moment to pause and tell you about my new book. In this culture of increasing skepticism towards conservative forms of Christianity, what motivates atheist to believe in the reality of God and become passionate followers of Christ through the views lives and stories of 50 former atheists. I've written a book that takes a broadened look at their religious conversions. Not only to answer the question, what would it take for an atheist to become a Christian, but more clearly, what did it take? The most intriguing question of all this book is written through years of talking with former atheists, and includes what I've learned about their journeys from atheism to belief in God and Christianity. It's called Atheist Finding God. I wanted to take a broad look at their conversions to consider a wide range of influences that cause someone to hold and yet change beliefs. Speaker 2 00:54:51 We take a look at atheism, atheists, and what they believe about themselves, their own views, their own lives, and what they think about God, Christians and Christianity, and why they reject it all. We consider how and why they turn from resistance to openness towards considering the possibility of God. We look at their questing towards belief, their conversions, and the amazing life transformations that follow. Importantly, much of what is written is through their own words, their perspectives, their stories, their voices. Whether you are someone who is skeptical of belief and believers, if you've moved from skepticism to Christianity, if moving from Christianity towards skepticism, or if you are someone who just wants to understand more deeply and engage more meaningfully with non-believers, I think this is the book that is for you. It is worthwhile. Right now, the publisher, Lexington, is offering a 30% discount on both hardback and e-book formats. In order to get the discount, you'll need to use a promo code and call them or connect with them on their website. And I will include all of that information in the episode notes. You can also find it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, but without the discount. If you're interested. Again, I will include the necessary information for ordering in the episode notes. Again, the name of my book is called Atheist Finding. God, I hope you'll read it now, back to our story. Speaker 2 00:56:38 No, that of course. Yes. And I'm curious, there's a difference between, obviously giving your life to crisis is significant for anyone, but you is obviously not something that you took lightly. You are sitting there as a pastor or someone who wants to lead a church. How did you move from a, just giving your life to Christ and, and wanting to be like those authentic loving Christians that you had encountered to actually moving to a place where you were fully surrendered in terms of, you not only want to believe it for yourself, but you want to pastor, um, others. I, I wonder if, because you didn't receive, you know, discipling and growth, spiritual formation as a young Christian, does that inform your passion and desire to want to disciple others towards following Christ in a meaningful way, not just a superficial way? Speaker 1 00:57:39 Oh, what a wonderful, uh, question. Yes. So even when I was called to ministry, it was, it, it was pretty, you know, um, it was pretty, man. I I, I know a lot of Christians might cringe at this, but it was supernatural in the sense that it was very, very foreign to me. I was very fine with being saved and doing the things that the Lord has commanded us to do. You know, read our word, pray and all that. And, and I was very, very fine with that. And the people, uh, so at the, at this church, it was more Pentecostal, charismatic, where they would speak over you and, uh, prophesy and that sort of thing. And, and I, I'm not in that camp so much anymore. Uh, I'm more of a reformed Baptist in my theology. But, but, uh, they started speaking into me, uh, first of all, encouraging me. Uh, I was very, they, my nickname was Eor, <laugh> Speaker 2 00:58:44 <laugh>. Speaker 1 00:58:45 I was very, very bitter. And I was getting out of that joyless, bitter anger that had built up over many, many years, right? And so, so I started, I, um, the church began fasting and, uh, as a church. And so I've never fasted before, never done this. So it was day two of that fast where I dropped my wife off, uh, and newly married, by the way, I was like a week old, week and a half old as a married couple. And, uh, we're fasting together as a married couple and as a church. And, uh, day two, um, and I'm, I see Pilot Butte, and this is in the middle of, uh, bend, Oregon. And, uh, it suddenly, uh, was pressed upon me to climb, uh, to walk up and to go, go there. And this is foreign to me. And I'm like, no, I'm not gonna do that. Speaker 1 00:59:40 No, do. And it was pressed upon me, again, you will climb this. Okay? So I went home, grabbed my bible, grabbed a water bottle, and, and, uh, put it in a backpack, started climbing back up the Pilot Butte, it's like a quarter of a mile up, something like that. And, uh, and I'm like, I don't know what I'm doing. What am I doing? And, uh, I just kept hearing in my mind, and, you know, I didn't hear his voice. I'm not, you know, like that. But I heard, uh, revelation, you know, uh, okay, so, uh, you want me to read the, the last, but, uh, even I, in my, in my newness as a Christian, I was, uh, what, uh, September, October, November, I was two months shy of my first year as coming back to the Lord. And, uh, so I get up there and I start reading Revelation, and I come across, I think it's Revelation three 19 or 20. Speaker 1 01:00:35 I always get the too confused. And I was reading the New Living Translation at the time, and it says, therefore, I stand at the door and knock and, uh, uh, we can share a meal together as friends, as I'm maning the scripture. But, uh, and, and, and I stopped there because I realized it says, friends, I never thought of God as a friend. I saw him as my Lord, as my savior, but never as a friend. And so it struck me. And, and so all of a sudden I felt God's presence. It's hard to describe. And, uh, I, it was pressed upon me. It says, you will preach. And I, and I <laugh> and I started saying, no, <laugh> <laugh>. And, and I hadn't read all the Bible yet. Uh, I said, no. And I started arguing with God, I'm not handsome enough. I'm not smart enough. Speaker 1 01:01:27 I'm not tall enough, Lord, people don't listen to me. This is not, this is not good. And, and again, it was just like, you will preach, you will preach, you'll preach till finally after an hour of arguing, I gave up <laugh>. And I said, I said, okay, Lord, if that's what you want, then that's what you get. <laugh>, you want me to preach? You got it. So, uh, what was beautiful is immediately after I gave up and I surrendered that, uh, I felt a peace that I had never, uh, I, I had never experienced before. Cuz, you know, got in fights a lot, and I was very argumentative, and I was very angry and bitter. And so to feel peace that surpasses all understanding, I'd never felt that before. And so I just doggedly pursued the Lord. And I went to my pastor at the time and I said, I believe I've been called. Speaker 1 01:02:20 Um, can you disciple me? And I got, uh, I got, I don't have enough time. I don't see this, um, you know, I just, I don't have the time. I went to three pastors asking for a discipleship. Oh, my till. Finally, um, uh, long story short, I had my GI Bill. I was in the Navy. And so I used that to go to Liberty University. And, uh, and the university essentially discipled me. And it was great, um, because they, uh, because it was online, it allowed me to say, okay, I'm being taught this, or I've heard this in church, but Lord, what does your word say? Right? And so, um, I was able to formally con, you know, develop my theology and what the word of God actually says. And so that is my passion to an, this is a very long answer. But <laugh> is that, is that, that is why I'm so passionate, is because I was disciples, you know, like I did not disciple, uh, I was not discipled. Speaker 1 01:03:24 And so now I'm very, very passionate about that. And in fact, my bread and butter right now is young men. I disciple three young men, uh, right now. And, um, one of which wants to be a pastor <laugh> himself, a youth pastor like me, uh, like I was. And, uh, I attribute all of this again to the glory of God. It's all God. Um, but, but for what I will not allow, if someone comes across me, they will not just be baptized and let go. They will not just hear the gospel and let go. Like if they want to be discipled and want to learn more, I'm always here for them, always ready for a response, you know? Uh, first Peter, what is that? First Peter 3 15, 16. Speaker 2 01:04:11 16. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> 16. Mm-hmm. Speaker 1 01:04:13 <affirmative>. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yep. Speaker 2 01:04:15 Yeah. That's what a beautiful testimony you are in terms of, of fullness of life change, obviously, um, a heart, uh, towards God in, in every way it seems like from a, from a place of really barrenness, really resistance, contempt. And now you're in a place where you're pointing people to Christ. The person you said, who is truth, who is not only your savior, but your friend, um, that really is, is really quite beautiful, Matt, for those. Uh, and I'm sure in your path you find those who are skeptics, who mm-hmm. <affirmative> were perhaps in the place where you once were, um, maybe they wanted, or maybe they didn't want to know <laugh> about Christ. Um, I, I wonder if someone does have an open ear, uh, to what you have to say towards pursuing God or Christ as truth, um, what you might recommend for someone who is open. Speaker 1 01:05:23 Um, well, for me it is, if someone is open, I would first start asking questions. This is what I taught in youth group, and this is what I teach, uh, people who, you know, who I interact with in the world, which is to ask why the foundational question of why, why do I believe what I believe? Um, where does this belief come from? And, um, you know, I, I could point to books and stuff like that, but ultimately, um, it, it takes, uh, I would say it takes one-on-one interacting with someone. So if someone is listening to this right now that they contact me, I am I am, I'm an email away or a phone call away. Speaker 2 01:06:10 Hmm. That's wonderful. And we will for sure put your contact information in the episode note so that, that they, um, can access you. And thank you for that generosity of spirit there. I think question asking is, is tremendous, whether for all of us to ask the big questions about our ourselves and why we believe what we believe, um, for those, uh, Christians who do want to, to do more, you know, who are, I'm thinking again, of your, your friend who was willing to challenge you even at some point, uh, early on, um, in high school, even though you know, you didn't share the same beliefs, I think of the Christians that you encountered for the first time, that, that they seemed so genuine and that they broke down the ne negative stereotypes that you held of Christianity. They somehow built some plausibility so that it, it seemed that that environment and those people helped you to become open to Christ, um, even that first time. So I'm wondering if you could speak to the Christians who want to, to really have an impact with those who, who don't believe, how would you encourage them? Speaker 1 01:07:24 I am going to read scripture. Um, so, so, um, what I have found works the best is it is not argument, argument argumentation. It's not, I, I am going to win because truth is on my side, because the word of God is true. Um, although that is the case, but it's, what I have found over the years is, is our outward witness, our character, that really, for me, really drew, uh, it, it drew me to the Lord. Um, remember Jesus says that you will know that you are, that, that people will know that you are my disciples by your love for one another. Mm-hmm. So first of all, it's, it's commanded of us to love one another and to love God. And so, um, by extension, because they're made in God's image, we love the lost. We don't love what they're doing. We don't love their sin, but we love the fact that they bear the image of Christ. Speaker 1 01:08:31 And so, uh, for me, it's one Peter three 16. So three 15 is often quoted, but 16 is, is what's important. It says, having a good conscience so that when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. So at the end of the day, it's our outward witness. It's how are we behaving out in the world? Are we, uh, are we ourselves hypocrites? Well, to a certain extent, but are we, uh, are we sinful, um, in the sense that we're actively pursuing sin? Or are we pursuing righteousness? Do people see this? Do they see that you're growing in this, in, in your love for one another and for them? Um, so is there a, a upward trajectory, so to speak? So I would say, um, I would say stay on the course that the Lord is, is a light to your footsteps, that you don't need to know any crazy argumentation. Speaker 1 01:09:33 That the wiles of the devil are very plain as day, and what has come before will come again. There's nothing new under the sun. And to love the Lord, store and treasure God's word in your heart, uh, memorize it when you can. I struggle with it. Um, but, but knowing scripture, then you know what truth is, and that's how you fight. We don't fight like arguing constantly. We fight by loving one another, and we fight with the word of God. So that's what I would, I would advise any Christian who's wanting to engage in apologetics or in evangelism is trust in God. The Holy Spirit resides in you, and he will guide you. Yes. And, uh, let me love you through this. Yes. So yes, Speaker 2 01:10:21 It's amazing how far that will go. Speaker 1 01:10:23 Yeah. Speaker 2 01:10:24 Yes. Yeah. I, it makes me think too, at the beginning of that passage, uh, where, um, Peter says, set apart Christ as Lord, you know, in your heart, and then mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, the, you know, things follow from that, you know, if, if, if Christ is Lord and, and we want to please him and love him, and it's through his strength that we're able to love others and listen to them. And, um, and I, I really appreciate your wisdom and obviously your experience and your counsel there. Thank you for that, Matt. What a, what a beautiful story. Your life is a beautiful story. Is there anything else you'd like to add as we're closing, or, Speaker 1 01:11:11 Uh, no, I, I just, I appreciate the opportunity to come on here and getting to know you a little bit and, um, yeah, this was great. Thank you. Speaker 2 01:11:20 Oh, wonderful. I, I do hope that, that those who are listening will take you up on your, on your offer to connect and to ask questions of you and, and to be, you know, discipled by you or whatever, however the Lord works in, in this situation. Um, yours is a life that has been transformed, uh, and I'm so grateful for you and I don't really know you, but I'm so grateful to know you in what little way that I, I do now and, and, uh, and for those who are listening to know you as well. So thank you so much for coming on today. Speaker 1 01:11:54 No problem. Thank you. Speaker 2 01:11:57 Thanks for tuning into Sibe Stories. To hear Matt's story. You can find out more about his YouTube channel, as well as other contact information in the episode notes. For questions and feedback about this episode, you can contact me through our website. Again, that's iby I hope you enjoyed it, and that you'll follow rate, review, and share this podcast with your friends and social network. In the meantime, I'll be looking forward to seeing you next time, where we'll see how another skeptic flips the record of their life.

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