Out of Darkness - Chris Adam's Story

Out of Darkness - Chris Adam's Story
Side B Stories
Out of Darkness - Chris Adam's Story

Jan 05 2024 | 01:30:44

Episode 0 January 05, 2024 01:30:44

Hosted By

Jana Harmon

Show Notes

Former atheist Chris Adam experienced a difficult, chaotic childhood and was drawn to witchcraft and demonology to gain control over his life. After being introduced to the Bible, he surrendered his control and his life to Jesus.

Chris’s Resources https://www.xbible.com

To learn more about CSLI Resources and Events, visit www.cslewisinstitute.org

To hear more stories about atheists and skeptics becoming Christians, visit www.sidebstories.com

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Speaker A: You. I didn't want the Eightfold path or whatever to enlightenment. I didn't want some demons to gather around me and make me feel special. What I wanted was a behind the curtain thing that has the power to make a difference. That really is the one who is the beginning and the end. At that moment, I realized there was an option. And that's the God of the Bible. [00:00:33] Speaker B: Hello and thanks for joining in. I'm Jana Harmon, and you're listening to Sidebee stories where we see how skeptics flip the record of their lives. Each podcast we listen to someone who has once been an atheist or skeptic but who became a Christian against all odds. You can hear more of our stories on our [email protected], we also welcome your comments on these stories on our facebook page. You can also email us at [email protected] we love hearing any and all feedback from you. Having spoken with over 100 former atheists and skeptics, if I've learned anything, it's that there is always hope. Hope that someone will turn and find the God who created them, who loves them, who purposed them for great work of eternal value. Our vision is often short sighted and we tend to write off those who have rejected God, that they'll never turn and find the one who's been waiting for them. But in my experience, I've had the privilege of seeing life after life, person after person, who from every possible earthly perspective seemed so far away, yet are sitting across from me telling me of their love for Christ, of their new life in God, of their passion for his word and for his ways, of their desire for others to know what they have found. They are clear in their beliefs, bold in their fate. Undaunted by opposition, they have walked away from darkness and death into life and light. And there is no going back. What that means is, where there is God, there is always hope. No one is too far from his reach. Chris Adam is a beautiful example of this. He had long rejected God and embraced darkness. It seemed that there was little to no chance that he would ever want God, much less find him in his life. He wanted control, to be the one in charge. Yet he ended up surrendering, laying down his control and its associated chaos to the one who gave him life, truth and peace. In exchange. I hope you'll come along to hear his incredible journey of transformation. [00:02:55] Speaker C: Welcome to Sidebee stories. Chris, it's great to have you with me today. [00:02:59] Speaker A: Hey there. Good morning. [00:03:01] Speaker C: Yeah, it's good morning to you. So as we're getting started. Chris, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself? Introduce yourself, who you are, what you do now, and your work, your passions, that kind of thing. [00:03:13] Speaker A: Yeah, sure. So I technically run a design agency called Branch B-R-A-N-D-C-H. We focus mostly on messaging for clients and do the typical what you need for design and marketing on the side of that. I have been working for a while, since 2014, actually, in launching a Bible platform. 2014 hasn't been week after week, year after year. It's had ups and downs, but the Bible platform is really innovative. It allows people to actually study the word of God by just swiping their finger on a screen. It's very intuitive and exposes really deep study in the word of God. Without knowing what a tool is like, without having to know what a concordance is or something, or what a parallel translation is, you don't have to know the terms, the words. You don't have to look in some menu to find them. So you can then and so on. It's designed very intuitively. The idea behind that is just to build a quality, incredible Bible application. That's it. And I'm currently working on augmented reality and AI based mobile game that is being designed specifically for the new apple glasses that are coming out. [00:04:36] Speaker C: Wow. Okay. So you sound like you're on the cutting edge of nerdy again. It just. It's amazing to me. I'm sitting here talking with you, Chris. You're talking about developing a Bible app that's useful for the body of Christ, but yet, I know you were an atheist at one point, and so that is a long road to travel between atheism and the person that's sitting here talking about those things in front of me. And I'd like to know the fullness of that story. So let's start back at the beginning of your story. Tell me a little bit about your home growing up, your childhood, your understanding of the bigger things of life, of God. Was there any informed or practiced belief in God in your home as a child, or was it nonexistent? [00:05:30] Speaker A: There kind of was. When I was really young, my mom was, she was a Catholic because that's the culture she was from. So she just said, hey, we're Catholic. That's what we believe in. And I was like, really young, like seven years old, eight years old. So we'd go to church on Sunday, but I didn't. I mean, it was just terrible. It was a terrible experience. I'm not making fun of Catholics, but just as a kid. The general kind of liturgical model doesn't really appeal to children. I don't think that's a surprise to anyone, other than the excitement of being able to kneel sometimes and stand up sometimes, because then you can get your fidgets out, because in between that, you're just getting. Stop it. Yes, stop moving around. He's talking. Where's the bathroom? Mom, when do we get donuts? And that was the thing, though, Sunday mornings, if there was a God, he was responsible for getting us donuts on Sunday mornings, because that's what we did every day, Sunday after church. And that was a really exciting part of my Sunday, was getting those donuts. And also, I really enjoyed, as a kid, I loved when the offering plate came around because I loved that my mom would give me, like, a dollar to put in there. And even though I didn't know the God thing and really was annoyed and bored out of my mind, I loved the idea that I could engage with something and put money somewhere and feel like a grown up and be able to give. [00:07:06] Speaker C: Oh, sure. [00:07:07] Speaker A: I was very giving as a kid. It was awesome, that part. I couldn't wait till that plate came around, and I was like, I can put something in it. Yeah. [00:07:14] Speaker C: No, I think that's probably not atypical. When children sit in kind of a grown person's worship and really don't understand the meaning behind it or what it's all about. Just kind of a big building with, like you say, a lot of kneeling. [00:07:31] Speaker A: Yeah. It was just nothing but ritual. And so what happened was, it meant nothing to me or my family, really. It was not a thing. And then just a couple of years into it, my mom and my dad were going through a divorce. And I remember she went to the priest and said, I really need to talk with you. And it was after Sunday, after church service, and he looked at her and he said, my office hours are Monday through Friday, not Sunday. And she was just so bothered by that because she really was upset that we never went back to church again. [00:08:07] Speaker C: Oh, my. Yeah. [00:08:12] Speaker A: And I can understand that. Yeah. [00:08:13] Speaker C: He wasn't available when she was really needing something. [00:08:16] Speaker A: Right. And that is not in any way the way I think every priest operates or anything. It was just that one guy. Maybe he had a bad day or maybe he was a jerk, whatever it was. But that was certainly something that. So from that moment forward, we were zero Christian, no more. And the divorce happened, and there was a separation, and the rule in the house was, no, you could not be a Christian. You could be any faith you wanted, but not Christianity. [00:08:49] Speaker C: And that was kind of an unwritten rule, or was that was spoken. I mean, I imagine that your mom was pretty hurt from what had happened. [00:08:58] Speaker A: That rule actually came from my stepdad. Okay. Yeah. They are very kind of what you'd call kind of humanistic focus. Academics, like the answer to life's problems, are just well educated people. That's kind of what you're supposed to do. And I know these days it's probably a little bit different. They're older, they've seen a lot more of the world. But that back then, that was kind of the hard stance. But before my stepdad showed up, though, my mom and my dad were both in a bad place mentally. My mom was very physically abusive of me, very violent. And my dad was just kind of. He would just sit on the couch and watch her beat me. Like, he just didn't do anything about it. And so I grew up before they split between her pain and her wounds from that relationship, because my dad was pretty mean. He was a very violent person. Not towards me, though, just household objects. So it was not uncommon for me to wake up at five in the morning to smashing and lamps, holes in the walls, really loud screaming and cussing. And he wasn't even mad at my mom. He would just get rage, random rage attacks. And was very strange. And so could have been connected to the drug use, though, because I grew up, and many times I would see the little scales, like little square scales with white powder on them, sitting around my house. And I would come home from school by myself or with my sister, who's two years younger. And many, many times there'd be strangers just sitting in my house, just waiting for my parents to come home. And so we would come home and they'd just be sitting on the couch eating sandwiches. I mean, it was so normal that I just would walk by them sometimes. I'd say hi. As a kid, I didn't know what it was. I just thought my family was really popular in the neighborhood. And apparently they were. [00:11:01] Speaker C: Yes. [00:11:05] Speaker A: That was hard. So growing up, I believed that it was a lot of trauma, a lot of childhood trauma. And I don't want to spend too much time on that, because I think a lot of people have a lot of very sincere childhood trauma, other than to say that there were a lot of things that I began to believe about myself that weren't true. Just because children processing pain. When you're being beaten and you don't know why, you have to tell yourself why, right? You have to define why is this happening? And it must be because I'm ugly. It must be because I'm stupid. It must be because I had so many reasons that I convinced myself. I remember in the bathroom once crying really bad, and I looked at my face while I was crying after she had beaten me one day, and I said to myself, oh, my gosh, that's why she beats you. You're so ugly when you cry. And I believed that to this day, it's hard for me to cry in front of other people, not like getting tears in my eyes. That's okay. And not kind of sniffling a little bit. So you tell yourselves these things as a kid. You're not good enough. You're dumb. And I believed that I was just an absolute terrible person. I believed I was dumb, very stupid, very ugly, worthless. I just believed it was 100% fact. Growing up, that's all that I knew. So was there God in the middle of all that? It would have been nice, I think, maybe to lean on something that told me otherwise, even if I just had to convince myself it was true. It would have been nice to have a counterbalance one way or another, but no. And so when my stepdad showed up, he wasn't violent. And my mom had, since then, stopped drinking. And she's an alcoholic, which is why she behaved, significantly, a portion of why she behaved that way. When he showed up, that didn't happen anymore. [00:13:09] Speaker C: Good. [00:13:10] Speaker A: Which was good. He's a very peaceful kind of. Kind of guy. But with kind of the rule about secularism being the dominant model, I still needed answers. And so I was stuck in a place where I hated myself. The world was a very dangerous. The world is nothing but stop signs and red lights, not green lights and opportunity. That's the world. And so everything is about protecting yourself. Every move, every time someone disagrees with you, you have to. What? You can't disagree with me, because then I'm bad. And that's the world growing up that I had. So I was kicked out of school often for just being belligerent, because the problem was that while I was told how stupid I was also at school, they put me in the slow kids classes as well. And so I was raised also academically with the kids that had legitimate handicaps. And so I believed that I was very unintelligent and very useless. And I remember, even when I graduated high school, my guidance counselor pulled me in, and she said, chris, I'm going to be very honest with you. You're about to graduate. And by the way, when I say graduate. I mean, they gave me credits and told me to leave. I never actually did the work in school. I never even went to. Don't. I don't even remember at all any doing anything ever. They literally wrote down on my report cards a slash through my grade and just wrote the word waved next to it. And so I never had to do anything in school because they told me I was too ignorant to understand and comprehend the school learning and stuff. And so she pulled me aside and she said, look, we know that you're not very smart. And she said, and so the best thing you could do when you get out of school because you lack the ability to assimilate deeper information. She said, the best thing you can do is go get a trade, like welding or work at a gas station or something like that. Now, that's not to say trade. People are dumb, of course, but she was just saying, work with your hands. Don't try to do some brainy thing. And I was like, yeah, I know. And then even in college, I didn't understand that I wasn't dumb. And so, anyway, all that, that's a little bit forward ahead. So childhood was really rough, very damaging, very hard to deal with, and very lonely. [00:15:42] Speaker C: Oh, I can imagine. I mean, I really can't imagine what you're describing and what you lived through. How devastating, really, to really grow up believing the lies that you are worthless, essentially. [00:15:58] Speaker A: Right. [00:15:59] Speaker C: And goodness, I can't imagine that you yourself didn't get involved in drugs and alcohol or things that were numbing or the pain. [00:16:12] Speaker A: The problem with drugs and alcohol is that it numbs my mind, and I don't like that feeling, and so I stay away from it. As a kid, when all my friends were drinking and partying and doing drugs, I didn't like it because I didn't like having a numbed brain. It was like the only thing I had was my head. And if something messed with it, I felt very upset about it. And so that's the reason I didn't end up in drugs and alcohol, because it bothered me. Well, I wish I could say I had a greater guiding light than that, but, no, it was just I didn't like the feeling, and so I never hoped. [00:16:47] Speaker C: I think you were wise beyond your years. What a blessing that is in disguise, that you didn't get involved in all of that. So you were growing up, obviously, with this very broken and seemingly very toxic family life and home. And growing up, we all, as in our humanity, are trying to figure out life, what's real what's not, what's good, what's not in your growing up, in your adolescence, did you ask those bigger questions? Did you take on a humanistic kind of view of reality? Did you even think about it on those terms? [00:17:27] Speaker A: Yeah, no way. I can't speak for all people that suffered with childhood trauma. But in my case, there was always this extremely logical concept that this can't be all there is. That was a very big driving factor. There's no way this can be all there is. Sure, my life is terrible, but understand that when people say their life, when you're a young person, you look at your life, you don't have another life to compare it to, usually. And so you kind of see it as all life is. There's a whole psychology to that as far as a growing child and how they constantly slowly move away from the parent identity and all that. But in a nutshell, everything that happened to me was how I would say the life was, period. It would have shocked me to find out that other people weren't abused in their houses. And to this day, it blows my mind when I see a child with a loving family encouraged and equipped for the future. I'm just like, wow, that's what they know. Imagine having been given that gift, to know that. So as. As a kid, this can't be all there is because this is just not right. And it's so destructive and painful, and it has to be more. So the idea of there being another force out there, an origin point, even something that kind of constructed all this, was super interesting to me, and I kind of began this quest to find it. The problem is that when you mix a broken, wounded child with the pursuit of something more, you typically aren't. And I typically wasn't looking for something more. I was looking for something more for me. So what I was looking for was power and control. I wasn't really looking for God or anything. I was using the phrase the word God. What I was really seeking was some form of control, something to pull me out of the chaos, out of the lack of control. And so I felt like there'd be some kind of. Somewhere, there's a floating thing out there, a source of something that may or may not have the answers, but is simply bigger than my circumstance. And that's what I really long to find. And so I began this journey of looking for that. I didn't go into the humanistic secularization too much because at this point, I kind of thought humans were garbage. I mean, I loved people a lot, and still do. I cared about it. It's like when you're a beaten child, you're kind of like a dog. You don't know why you're being hit like an abused dog, you don't know why you're being hit. You don't know why unless there's some rule you know you broke. But if an owner comes in and just kicks a dog, the dog doesn't know what's up. And that happens from the time they're a puppy till the time they're full grown. That's how they view people. But the problem with dogs, right, is they want the love of their owner so bad. And that was me, too. So being beaten and destroyed also drove me deeper and deeper into a desire to be loved. Why couldn't she just love me? If I could make a joke and she would laugh, my world would open up for, like, seconds because a minute later, she'd be hitting me. And that juxtaposition. So looking for kind of a spirit thing, a God thing, was more of a pursuit of power and control. And so that's what drove me into. So I didn't go the humanistic route, the secular route, because I felt like people were kind of like abusive dog owners. Like, they might love you 1 minute and then they'll kick you the next. So that's kind of what you expect. And so I didn't want to invest in that. And so I looked for things that would drive me into more ability to maintain a quality life. And so I was driven into things like Wicca. But witchcraft was very appealing to me because witchcraft was self empowerment, basically. I also kind of wondered if it was real at the time, could I do spells and create outcomes? Because I was casting spells, it was in there. Could that happen? That was kind of what drew me to it, you know, like a fantasy escapism kind of thing. But my pursuit in witchcraft was a little bit boring because it was all very kind of weak for me. And where I found my quote unquote joy at the time and looking, I was always asking, what's behind the curtain here? So if I'm doing spells right and I'm doing tarot cards and Ouija boards, which I did quite a bit, what I wanted to find there was. I was looking for what was behind the curtain. So if there was power to be had, what was the source of the power? It's a pretty logical question. And I wasn't complacent in the idea of just casting a spell or doing a tarot card or doing a Ouija board. It was boring to me because what I was after was the power behind it. I wanted that. And so I dug deeper into the witchcraft model and ended up in kind of what people would call demonology today. Well, actually, probably no one uses that term either, but it's where you're really focusing on kind of speaking directly to spirits and asking them for guidance, and you're summoning creatures and all this. And I know it sounds ridiculous to say all this on this podcast, but that's what I did, and that's what I was consumed by, actually. [00:23:27] Speaker C: Yeah, no, I'm sitting here listening to you thinking, okay, so you recognized that there was a power to be had. Did you recognize that there was a reality to this kind of darker power? I mean, were you able to engage in such a way that it was palpably real in the way that you interacted with it and actually the way that you used it? [00:23:57] Speaker A: Yes, I learned very quickly a few things after a couple of years of doing this. First of all, you have to understand, I did not grow up with the concept that, first of all, I didn't use the word demons. That's me as a Christian talking about it later. It was spirits at the time. And so I didn't think at any point in time what I was doing was wrong or evil. It never occurred to me that it was evil, that it was dark spirits or dark bad stuff. I just thought it was another world I could tap into. And that's really important to know, because had I actually believed that what I was doing was evil or messing with evil things, I wouldn't have done it. I didn't want to pursue darkness. I didn't want to pursue evil. I just wanted to get away. And I wanted some kind of authority, some kind of empowering model in my life. And I knew there was something behind the curtain. And so my desire was never to seek out something dark that did start happening. I became very dark. I actually ended up in a mental hospital for about four months with a number of different circumstances and kind of was in and out of therapy a lot because of these moments, these times, and these experiences I had with demonic creatures and entities. And as a Christian, my life hasn't been super easy because of that past. And so the drive for getting behind the curtain and not thinking it was evil at the time opened up a lot of things depending on, you know, I don't want to say too much, depending on what people's beliefs are and all that stuff. I don't want to draw, like, lines. But I know what my experience was. And so what I realized a couple of years into it was that this realm kind of functioned like parasites. It functioned kind of like a demonic entity, let's just call it, that would attach to you and gain power, let's say. And as it would be feeding off of you, it's getting power, but you are basically feeling it grow and so you feel like you're getting power. What I recognized was that I was getting weaker and weaker while entities were getting stronger and stronger. And I was believing that that was me getting stronger. [00:26:23] Speaker C: So it was a deception of swords. You thought you were getting what you wanted, which was power, but it was actually being drawn from you and absorbed into this other being, I guess. [00:26:35] Speaker A: Yeah, whatever that is. Whatever the mechanical construct is of that other thing. Yeah, exactly. And so when I realized I was getting weaker, I had this epiphany. Like, this is not the curtain I want to go behind. I didn't know that it was evil yet, but I knew that it wasn't what I was looking for. And I was very much bothered. Go ahead. [00:26:56] Speaker C: So all of your growing up and your family had dismissed God, were humanists, all of this, and you made your way towards witchcraft or demonology or whatever it is. Did you ever in your life have any friends or examples of what Christianity is or could be that gave you this contrast to. I mean, I'm amazed that somehow you didn't even perceive it to be evil. This world in which you were entering, it was just giving you control. But from a christian perspective, of course someone would say, oh, no, of course, that's evil. But you didn't have that lens, I guess, or that. I'm trying to figure that out, that your world growing up, did it have exposure to alternative her kind of. [00:27:59] Speaker A: If there was a God, I hated him. That was the weird thing, because if there really was a christian type God who had his own thoughts, his own agenda, his own plans, and I was treated like garbage, then it pleased him to be so and so. I didn't want to know that. So if a Christian came to me and said, there is a God and he wants you and loves you, I know what love looks like. Love looks like I smile at you 1 minute and I backhand you the next. I didn't want to be loved. I wanted power. I didn't want to be loved. I wanted to not be weak. I would see it back and forth. There's a couple of kids in my school who fought the evolution thing when we were learning it. And I hated those people so much. As a matter of fact, my friends and I would drive around and throw beer bottles at the churches in the mornings on Sunday mornings when I was older. But when they would, you know, we'd throw them out of the car window, right? Because we hated christians. They were so pathetic, weak minded. Religion is the opiate of the masses, right? That whole thing that every atheist likes to claim, thinking that they're so smart, I can quote something. Look at me, right? And so there was a neighbor across the street from me growing up. That plays into a later story. And that neighbor was a christian family. Would I say they were loving? Yeah, to themselves, they were very loving, but they weren't, like, necessarily super loving. Outwardly, they actually got me in trouble a lot. Their kids would do bad stuff. I'd retaliate. Then they would call my mom and tell her what I did, and I would get busted for it. And her kids would just be like, I'm so good. So there was some subtle influence, but it wasn't positive. It wasn't kindness. It didn't show me another. There was no reason to choose that at all. [00:30:10] Speaker C: Okay. [00:30:11] Speaker A: Yeah. These things. As I drew deeper into the bad stuff like that, I switched over eventually to something much more passive. I started realizing that I didn't want to follow a. I didn't think behind the curtain was something. And when I say behind the curtain, I just mean, like the whole spiritual thing, right? I started believing maybe all these spirit things that are causing me problems, they just exist. There's another realm, whatever, but maybe there's kind of a universal power source that just kind of functions kind of like the force in Star wars, right? And so if I could just tap into the force, right? And so I was drawn to eastern religions because it's much more structured than kind of a demonology, witchcrafty, self serving kind of model. The eastern religions in particular, Taoism was really beautiful to me, and to this day still is very beautiful. It's, like, kind of summarizing the essence of things. It'll say something like a mug is what you use and what you buy, but it's the empty space in the mug that gives it its value. And so I read the tao de jing a lot growing up at that point, and then I kind of got into a little bit of Buddhism. But Buddhism actually made me very upset, because what I found is that the eastern religions are all extremely logical, and I didn't want that. Eastern religions are all logical. And it's weird because people think eastern religions are all mystical. They're not mystical in the least. It's pure logic and reason, all of it. And it's what bothered me about Buddhism a lot, because ultimately, it's the quest for never suffering. And the only reason to get rid of suffering or the only way to get rid of suffering, right, is to never have any wants, never have any desires. And if you can get to a place where you don't desire anything, then you won't ever hurt. Well, the problem is that you'll never get to the place where you won't desire, not desiring. And so you're stuck. And it really bothered me a lot. The logical conclusion I couldn't feed into. I kept hitting that wall. And so to become a Buddhist would have just required just a leap of faith, which is acceptable, but it was one I wasn't willing to take. I didn't like the platform on the way up. And to really hold on to Taoism was a fantastic thing. And I held onto Taoism up until I started reading the bible. So that was what I held onto the longest. It was universal enough that it didn't hurt me, and it was beautiful enough that it made me feel like there was other options out there that were more than just living in my disgusting, I'm ignorant life that I felt like. And so that was a big turning point, was getting into Taoism and stuff like that. What had actually happened along the way was that I did go to a couple of churches with friends here and there, but it was just, this is all I heard. Just jibber jabber, cult like sounding words, blood of the lamb stuff. I don't know what all that is, and it sounded interesting, but my friends that were christians were no different than my friends that weren't. So what's the point? Okay, what's the point? Sure. [00:33:24] Speaker C: Yeah. [00:33:25] Speaker A: Matter of fact, they were the ones I would trust the least often, which is very unfortunate. But it was like, why make that jump? Because these guys are idiots. And then also, I grew up believing christians were idiots, that they were the worst of all intellectuals. And so that was also, like, it was in my mind to stay away from that whole bucket of people. [00:33:45] Speaker C: Anything but Christianity, basically. [00:33:48] Speaker A: That's the idea. That's the idea. [00:33:51] Speaker C: So you were getting dissatisfied with these eastern religions. Then what did you do? [00:33:58] Speaker A: So one of the things that what ended up happening was I kind of kept toying with the demonology stuff because there still is power behind the curtain and I still was hungry for it. I was kind of like Simon the sorcerer in the book of acts, who saw the Holy Spirit move and wanted that power but had no interest in. So. So one of the things I started doing was I had a group of people that were still into the witchcraft demonology thing that I hung out with a lot. They knew that I was kind of doing other stuff, but they were close to me, and so I would still do activities with them. Demon stuff. I was kind of considered, I don't know what you would call it, I guess in my little group, I was the advanced one. [00:34:45] Speaker C: Okay. [00:34:47] Speaker A: And so they would look to me for all this stuff. So I felt always a pressure, always a burden to kind of tailor my words, because whatever I said, people would often just agree with or believe because they could make sense out of it. I always felt a pressure to make sure that how I spoke was safe. So I didn't put thoughts in people's heads that I didn't want them to have accidentally. It's kind of a burden. Smart people should all have this, by the way, this careful, cautious way to speak, because you want to be careful. [00:35:18] Speaker C: How you put thoughts in people's great responsibility, really. [00:35:24] Speaker A: It really is. And people who take it lightly make a lot of damage, and they shouldn't do. So at the time, I was doing a lot of Ouija board stuff. Still, I wasn't totally sold by it anymore. And then this is where it gets into the nitty gritty of kind of what happened and how I kind of stopped doing the atheism thing and what slowly happened, because it wasn't just that I hated God. The God of the Bible couldn't be true. Therefore I was an atheist. It wasn't like, because you can't hate something that doesn't exist, right? And so I hated the idea of the God of the Bible, which is what kind of moved me into the atheistic kind of model when what had happened was that christian family across the street, this is years later, they ran into my mom at a grocery store, and the dad of that family, whose name is Ron, he asked my mom how I was doing. And at that point in time, I wasn't doing well. I was very dark. I guess up to this point in the story, you would say I wasn't doing well at all. But really it was kind of a crescendo of not doing well at that point. And so she said, my son needs a lot of help. He's really in trouble. He's dark. And Ron's like, well, as a youth pastor at my church, maybe he'd want to talk to him. And she's like, yeah, right. He would never go to your church to talk to a youth pastor about his problems. And so she just talked to me, and she was like, okay, look, I ran to Ron from back when, and youth pastor opportunity, do you want to go talk to him? I was like, oh, heck yeah, I would. And she's like, what? Really? [00:37:08] Speaker C: That's amazing. [00:37:09] Speaker A: I'd love to. It was amazing, right? But the reason I wanted to talk to him was because at that point in time, some of the really kind of inner circle people in my little demon club, we were talking to a spirit on the Ouija board that called himself Jesus Christ. Now, I just want to say at this moment, I know looking back, this wasn't Jesus, but at the time, I thought it was the real Jesus, okay? And the spirit on the Ouija board was communicating to us daily about what the church is, what it's not, and was asking us to rewrite the Bible and was starting to feed us different ways to write down the history. And it was a big endeavor, and we were doing it daily. And I thank God that never finished or finalized or I wasn't ultimately famous for leading some terrible, terrible cult, because that would have been just. But that's definitely the trajectory at that moment. And what I wanted to do is I wanted to go to this youth pastor and completely obliterate his faith. And I wanted to challenge the church because they didn't know the real Jesus, because I did, because I was talking to him every day. And so I went there specifically to destroy the church. That's why I went. [00:38:31] Speaker C: Okay, well, that makes a little bit more sense why you would want to go. So do tell. What happened? [00:38:38] Speaker A: So I get there, I'm with one of my friends, and we start talking, and he's like this, I don't know, I'm only five five height wise, he's like six foot 15. He's just this big guy, and he's got this huge smile. And he's one of those youth ministers that do it because they love young people, not because they're waiting for their corporate ladder job to open up to become pastors. And so he's legitimate and so he loves it, and he's there and he's like, man, guys, what's happening, guys? He's full of energy. He's like, all pumped up. What's happening, guys? What's going on? And I'm like, I want to kill this guy. He's everything I hate about people, and especially the christian people. And so his name is Bob, and Bob was talking to us and just kind of getting to know us a little bit. And I was like, all right, stop. I don't care about any of this. Look, you don't know. Like, there was a picture on Bob's wall, and it was a picture of Jesus laughing. And I said, you see this sign of Jesus laughing? That's the only thing you know about him is that one picture. Everything else you know about is a lie. And so he's like, how? Why? And so we got to this altercation of who is Jesus? Who is not Jesus? And I said, let me prove it to you right now. And so I had my friend go over to his keyboard on his computer, and she started doing a Ouija board thing over the computer keys, and where she stopped, she would just press down. We had practiced this quite a bit because we felt like we didn't need a Ouija board if we had computers. So we just used the keyboard, and she started typing. And he's like, what are you guys doing? And I said, I want to introduce you to Jesus. And he's like, what? And she's doing it. And she's going into this headspace, which is very weird looking, and she's kind of like, trance like or something. And Bob's like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. What are you guys doing in my office? What is this? And I said, bob, just be quiet. I'm going to show you who Jesus is. And this creature started typing things to Bob, specifically about his wife that we didn't know. And when he saw that, he knew it was real. And so he pulled my friend back physically and said, stop. He said, this is wrong. He said, oh, my gosh. Understand, this is a Methodist youth minister. This isn't like a charismatic deliverance youth minister, right? Who's going to come out and he's going to pour holy water on us and get across and burn our foreheads. This is somebody who just engages in just the normal. Like, we have a faith, we live it. Everything is right. And he was like, what the heck? And so he just kind of, like, paused for a second, had us just stop. And it was the coolest thing he ever did. I love this guy for this moment so much. And he said, guys, look, if you want to know what real power is, because it's obvious you're looking for power here. And it was really insightful for him to say yes. He said, you're looking for. Said, you know, if you want to know what real power is, then you're going to go to the source of power, which is literally what I was doing right all my life. And he said, but the source of power is Jesus Christ. He's like the real Jesus Christ from the father. And he started kind of doing this kind of altar call type moment, and he's like, but guys, that's real power. What you're doing isn't power. You're messing with things that are evil. This isn't right. And my friend who was there with me, she burst into tears and she fell on the ground in his office and began to weep and weep. And she said, help me, please, please help me. [00:42:26] Speaker C: Oh, wow. [00:42:29] Speaker A: And I was so mad, filled with rage at the church, at Bob, and at my weak friend for collapsing in front of this moron. And he prayed this kind of sinner's prayer thing with her, right with me in the office. And I was so angry. And he's like, chris, do you want to pray this with us? And I was like, hell no, Bob. Like I said, look, you want to pray with me? Wait till I die. And you could pray over my dead body at my funeral. I remember that's what I told him. And he was like, that's okay, that's okay. And he just prayed with her. And we walked out of that office, and it was a long ride back home. No one said anything in the car. I bet at that point in time, what ended up happening was I was back in my house about an hour and 20 minutes away from where that girl lived, maybe even a little more. She would come over on a daily basis, try to get me to read the Bible, and I wouldn't do it. [00:43:28] Speaker C: So she was transformed through that experience. She met the real Jesus Christ, basically. [00:43:36] Speaker A: I think she lived that way for a long time. I think she suffered with some other things later in life and we got disconnected as well. But during that time, she would drive way over way an hour and a half or so to my house every day and try to give me this stupid bible to read, and I wouldn't do it. I would kick at her hard to get out, cuss at her. She would come by sometimes and just try to hang out with me and laugh with me and tell jokes, but I knew she had an agenda, so I would boot her out. And she kept coming and coming and coming. And finally one day I said, leave the stupid book and don't ever come back here again. She said, okay. And that was the last time I ever saw her, I think. At least I think so. A lot of it's fuzzy back then, but that was the last time I legitimately spent any time with her for real. And she left at that point. From that day forward, I began to have dreams of the end of the world. Very terrible, terrible dreams. I began to see tidal waves crashing, earth splitting, wars, people dying. Earthquakes, earthquakes, earthquakes. And I didn't get to see them from just some generic third party out there on the world perspective. I was seeing them over the shoulders of humans and watching them experience death and loss and grief, experiencing death over and over again, like inside of office buildings that would collapse. I'd be in the window at the top, falling down with people holding onto their tables as the building, it was plaguing me. And it lasted for about five months. And I was to the part where I could not go to sleep at night because I was so afraid of the dreams that I avoided sleep. I couldn't do it. I was living with a little house, a little trailer with a bunch of my buds at this point. I was about 18 years old, 17 years old at this point. And we just lived in his trailer and just kind of did guy stuff. And I had this. People kept telling me, because of this dream issue, you need to go research what it is. So they would send me to, like, Nostradamus and Edgar Casey and anyone with the name prophet before their name or whatever after. And they would have me research end of the world because, and this is kind of pre Internet, so it wasn't like I had to actually go physically find the books. So getting a book and then reading it was a different journey than just typing a few words into Google. [00:46:10] Speaker C: Sure. [00:46:11] Speaker A: And so I was at the library a lot. I was heavily looking for the answer to get this stuff out of my head. And about five months into it or so, nothing would cure it. And so I decided my friend was like, you know, dude, I think in that book that your friend gave you, there's a section called revelation. It talks about the end of the world. And at this point, I was exhausted with opportunity and answers. And so I said, fine, I'll read the stupid thing. And so I read the book. And it really, really bothered me. It actually infuriated me. I was very angry. When I closed the last part of revelation. I was very, very angry. And I was angry because my fear of God being this independent being was justified. What I saw was a God who did what he wanted, a God who had the power to do whatever he wanted. And it made me mad because I thought about my life growing up. I thought about who I was. Why did you make me such a loser? Why did you make me so pathetic? Why did you make me so weak? And so it confirmed all of my suspicions that he was in charge. And it made me mad. I didn't like the idea of the alpha and the omega. I understood what it meant. I was pissed about it. I didn't think they were choosing random greek words. Matter of fact, I had studied. I memorized the greek Alphabet when I was a kid just for fun. And so I knew when I was reading as an adult, that's the beginning and the end, I recognized that I knew what it was saying. The totality of all things is in this guy, this guy, in this guy. And it really made me mad. He had the control. He had the power. And I hated it. And so I closed that book. And I was like, what a bunch of drivel. Like, I hate this. And that night I went to sleep, and in the middle of the night, I heard a voice. And what I'm about to say, all I can say is tell it how it happened. I don't know what it all means. I'm just trying to be faithful to the experience. And that night I had a dream. I'm sorry. I woke up to a voice saying, move. Just one word. Move. [00:48:33] Speaker C: Okay. [00:48:34] Speaker A: And I heard it and I just ignored it. And so that was that. And then about, I don't know, five minutes later or 1 minute later or something, some short time period, the voice came back a little bit stronger and said, move now. And at this point, I was a little bit curious. And so either this is just full blown schizophrenia or there's something behind the curtain talking to me. And this is a moment I don't want to lose. [00:49:05] Speaker C: Yes. [00:49:08] Speaker A: But at the same time, I don't want someone telling me what to do. So if you're going to come in from behind the curtain and start dictating my life, no. But what if this is that moment, that behind the curtain there is something worth doing. So what I did is I concocted this quick scheme and all within seconds that if I just said no again and then rolled over, acting like I was ignoring the voice, I would accomplish both things. So I was able to move and also say no. So I did. I moved and then rolled over. I might say I said no. And then I rolled over. And when I went to roll over, I realized I couldn't move my knees down to my feet. They were stuck. I couldn't pick up my legs or shuffle my legs or the bottom part they were stuck. I couldn't move my ankles or anything. And I was like, well, that's really weird. My legs must have fallen asleep, right? So I sat up to feel them, because it was really odd feeling. It was different than just. It was no tingles. They were just zero. And as I did, I realized I also couldn't move my upper legs either. In my thighs and my hips. I couldn't move my legs. And I was like, oh, my gosh, my legs are completely paralyzed. My brain is like, did I pinch a nerve? What is happening right now? And then as I was processing what was happening, it was like concrete was slowly pouring over my body from my waist up. And it just sunk me into my bed. It sunk me, like, frozen, 100% paralyzed. Slowly, each part of my muscle group just gave out from the bottom of my feet to the top. And I was laying in bed, completely paralyzed, head to toe. And I opened my mouth. The scream and all that came out was just wheezing. I couldn't control my vocal cords. I couldn't move anything in here, or all I could move was my eyeballs. [00:51:09] Speaker C: Kind of like sleep paralysis. That happens where you're aware, but there's nothing you can do about it. [00:51:17] Speaker A: Absolutely. And looking into it years later, it's probably some form of what it was. But there was something else that was weird about this moment, but it felt like sleep paralysis, right? And I remember saying to myself, I've got to find a reason to believe I'm not dreaming. And so I looked for the VCR because I knew the clock would be blinking some wrong time, because that's how all vcrs were back then. Everyone's time was wrong. And so it was blinking twelve. And I was like, okay, I'm watching this thing. This is real. This is real. And so I laid there completely paralyzed, unable to move. And I don't know how long it lasted, but it lasted a very long time. And at some point, I struggled so aggressively that I felt like the blood vessels in my body were exploding. I felt like the fluids in my body were unhinged. It's hard to explain, but I felt like everything inside of me was breaking down, like, as if I had cuts in my liver or something, or. I'm not a doctor, I'm just saying it just felt like my glandular system was erupting. It felt like everything in me was exploding, was breaking, was cutting open. I felt like I had bleeding internally. Something was wrong, very wrong, physically. And immediately, I knew I was going to die. I knew it. And I had my life flash before my eyes. And that's why I don't count this in the sleep paralysis, because I had so much interaction with it. Normally, sleep paralysis has a few phases, and that's over. I saw my life flash before my eyes like a person does before they die. Another thing about this was that in this moment, there was this cold, empty area right here that was like a hollow wind, empty and cold. It was like a cold hand was up inside of me in that area. I'm not saying there was, but it kind of felt like a cold hand reaching up in there, grasping empty wind in a vacuous chamber. And I remember even kind of giggling in my mind a little bit, because I was thinking about writers and how they would write about the icy cold hand of death was on them. And I remember, even in this moment, kind of giggling, thinking, oh, my gosh, that's actually true. Wow, you actually do that when you die. I was thinking about it as it was happening, like, thinking how comical it was that there actually is an icy cold hand of death. Okay, I didn't know that. And how did they know that? Somebody definitely lived through something. I knew it was over. And I saw my life flash before my eyes. I saw scene after scene after scene after scene, and it was abysmal anger and rage and sorrow and tears and crying and brokenness and fight and fight and fight and fight, and constant fighting and constant arguing and constant belittling of other people. And just the sheer rage, constant, sheer rage. And that's how I was going to go out. I knew that I was going to die a broken, angry man. And it made me sad. Like, really sad. And immediately when that was over, I was just gripped with sorrow. Not self pity, just the reality of what it was. And instantly, I had another film play. It was like another projector queued up, and it was like. And started going another dating myself on that one, too. And so, like, projector. And it was another saw my life flash before my eyes. But this one, it was weird, because it was all the good stuff that I had repressed. It was all the good things that I didn't pay attention to, that I didn't take note of. It was people saying how special I was, how kind, how loving, how generous, people saying how smart I was. That not the school, of course, but other people saying how good I was of a man. And I couldn't understand it, because that's not the man I was. Why did I choose the bad guy? If both were true? Why did I only see the one? [00:55:24] Speaker C: Yes. [00:55:24] Speaker A: That was so bad. And, I mean, there may be a therapist listening to this right now going, I could pick this guy apart for years. I would be thinking of that. So I was really cut to the heart that I had a choice. I was really cut to the heart that I had the ability to have a different life. And I didn't get it because I never opened my eyes to gratitude or to positivity or to love and kindness. It was veiled from me. And at that, I had this moment, this brief moment after the two films were done where I just reflected being completely paralyzed still and completely broken inside and everything erupting. And I wished more than anything that I could go back and do the second movie, but I had no choice. It was done. And I was truly sorry, truly filled with regret. And I wish that I could have done that, but it was over. Man, that was a lot of pain in that moment. A lot of sorrow, a lot of. Just hard to explain when it's done, how little chance you have to make up for it. And there was nothing left of me. And I knew that was the end. And I was thankful at that moment that I got to see the reality, though, that I actually had both lives. I just didn't know it. And then it dawned on me. Wait a second. The God of the Bible, the guy who can do anything because he wants to, the alpha, the omega, the thing I hated, the thing that could make it work, the thing that bothered me so much. I didn't want the inside of a mug. I didn't want the. The Eightfold path or whatever to enlightenment. I didn't want some demons to gather around me and make me feel special. What I wanted was a behind the curtain thing that has the power to make a difference. That really is the one who is the beginning and the end. At that moment, I realized there was an option, and that's the God of the Bible. And that's the only one I wanted. And needed. And needed is the big word here. And I cried out to the God of the Bible. I could tear up right now. I might. I cried out to the God of the Bible. I didn't know what to call him. How do you bow? Do you curtsy? Oh, great Lord, something about thou. I got to use those words. I don't know. And I said, okay. I was kind of getting my head around it. Okay. I said, God of the Bible, jesus, maybe I don't even know how it connects. Just Jesus guy, God guy like you, alpha, omega guy. I said, listen, to me right now. I said, if you keep me alive, if you keep me alive, I promise you that I'll change it. Please help me. I said, if you give me the sun, let me see the sun come in tomorrow morning, then I will make myself something for you. Please. I said, don't let me die. And right when I prayed that, I went into a seizure and I began to spit and fling around and flop. And I remember my eyes were open the whole time because I remember, my thought was, I don't want to get spit on my eyes, but what in the hell is happening here? And then it was over, and I was very tired, very tired. And I was covered in nasty. And I tried to struggle again to get up to stop this whole thing, and I was still paralyzed. And this time, when I went to move, I heard another voice. It was different. It said, don't move. And it said, right now, when you move, you make it worse. Just rest. And I thought it was God of the Bible at that point, which is all I understood him as at the moment, right? And I just said, okay. And so I went to sleep, and I woke up that next morning with dried, nasty stuff on my face and shirt. But I was able to move. I woke up late, actually. I slept in. And the second I felt the sun, like, really register on my eyelids, my life changed because God gave me what I asked. I walked into this room with my dudes that were sitting there. They were already awake. They were, like, watching Jenny Jones or something, like eating cereal like Oprah or, you know, you are not the father or something like that. They were watching some show. And I walked in between all of them, and I said, I am never, ever again going to bed without praying and reading my Bible every day. And they're like, spoons were dropping. [01:01:10] Speaker B: Sure. [01:01:11] Speaker A: Like, what? And I said, guys, you got to hear what happened to me. And I explained it to them, and they're like, get out of here. You're an idiot. That never happened. And they tried to kind of be my friend, but it was really bothersome to them. And so I left my friendship circle at that point. Now, fast forward years later, they all became christians over time. [01:01:31] Speaker C: Oh, wonderful. I'd like to pause for a moment. [01:01:36] Speaker B: And ask you a question. Do you have big questions about God, the Bible, or our world today? C. S. Lewis used both reason and imagination to address some of the most important questions of his day. In his legacy, the C. S. Lewis institute has developed a series of articles called challenging questions that tackle important topics about faith in a winsome and thoughtful, yet concise way. While the answers may not be exhaustive, they address the core of the issue and are easy to share with others. Each month a new question is addressed by a key scholar, faith, or thought leader. Our hope is that these questions and responses offer food for thought and encourage you to go deeper in your own journey. You can find these articles at our award winning C. S. Lewis Institute website. That's www.cslewisinstitute.org forward slash publications. Now back to our. [01:02:40] Speaker C: Know you were on a quest for power and control so that you could control your circumstance and control your life because it was so chaotic as a child. But yet at the moment when you met the alpha and the omega, you actually had to surrender control. Ironically, you had to acknowledge God as God and that you are not. And that was the moment where life came. [01:03:19] Speaker A: Right? I mean, I didn't become a Christian in that moment, right. But that's where God hooked me and told me what to do. [01:03:25] Speaker C: Yeah, walk us from there, because obviously he was the one who was ultimate in authority and in control. I mean, when you read the revelation, you realize the sovereignty of this incredibly powerful being. But moving from a place of acknowledging that to understanding who Christ is and who he is in your life, and there's that and then there's really putting together. So why was my life as it was as a child and coming to terms with that as well? So those are two things I'd love to hear you answer. [01:04:13] Speaker A: Sure. From that moment forward, I began to read my Bible every day, all day long. It was like water to a dry land. I just know you could not pull me out of the word of God and everything I didn't understand everything I wrestled with, it drove me crazy. I was so upset because there were so many things that I didn't understand. If someone says God loves you, but you come from a worldview that you think everything is God, then what does that matter to you? The kind of universal kind of God is in all things mentality. It took me a while to burn through that stuff. I had to realize that this universe is a painting and God is an outside element to that painting. And believe it or not, that wasn't an instant understanding. I kind of still believed that God was the trees and God was the water and God was me. And so I didn't understand how it all connected. Working through these kind of theological arguments, how do I know for sure? Going back to even some original thoughts about, like, how does this all blah, blah, blah. Well, if there's a watch. There must be a watch maker, right? How many watches do you have to see until you realize there's people making them? Is it one? Is it 30? Is it 5000? When do you realize there is something making this stuff? And these things all had to get worked out. And it was painful. It wasn't easy. I actually probably even hated God more during that phase than when I hated. [01:05:53] Speaker C: God legitimately because there was a lot to work through. [01:05:57] Speaker A: Yeah, right. And I remember being, I would take my bible and walk to a football stadium that was next to my apartment in the middle of the night, and I would read it in the lamps of the football stadium, in the middle of the grass, the turf. And I remember punching at the grass and punching at it and punching at it because God wouldn't send me explanations. He wouldn't teach me. When I would go to churches, I went to three churches every Sunday on kind of a little loop because I was so hungry for the truth that I would ask people, can you please explain to me the gospel? And they would say, well, what do you mean, the gospel is the good news? And I would say, the good news about what? And they would say, it's the good news that God loves you. And I'm like, well, I already know that. So how much can you just say that over and over again? In their defense, they don't know what they were working with. They don't know what was presuppositionally stuck in my head at different angles. Right. But to judge them properly, that's the problem with evangelism, is that we spend less time talking to the person about what they know and who they are and more time trying to tell them about who we are and what we know. And when you actually learn what somebody wrestles with, you can communicate very deeply with them at a very deep level and actually build a friendship out of it. And that's real relationship building evangelism. And people do this so terribly. Walk by, throw a track on your head, tell them, Jesus loves you, take off. It's not effective. Sure, it can be effective. Anything could be effective. But no one ever stopped to ask me what I thought or what I believed or what was in my way. And maybe God sculpted it that way. I think it was pretty wise of him to never give me those answers looking back, because what it did is it solidified the word of God in me. I had to work through it. I had to see how it could possibly connect. And if Jesus said this here and the Old Testament said it there, then what does it really mean, what does it mean here? What does it mean there? And why did he say it? And what does it mean later that we haven't experienced yet as people? What does the next phase of God's creation look like? What does the new heaven and new earth look like? And these things were. They weren't just little things that you go, oh, ho hum. It'll all be explained in the sweet bula land. These are, like, literally things. [01:08:13] Speaker C: I'm sorry, I haven't heard the term bula land in a long, long time. [01:08:21] Speaker A: That term is one of my favorite terms. Makes me laugh every time I think about it. These things. It wasn't enough that in the sweet by and by, God was going to make it all clear. I felt the burden to understand him alone. [01:08:37] Speaker C: Right? [01:08:39] Speaker A: And what it did is it forced me to work through so many deep things that what ended up happening was my family told me, because I moved back in with my family, and they would see me reading the Bible and they'd get mad and they would start turning up the stereo real loud or the tv real loud, so I couldn't focus. And so I would go and read in the bathroom with the door shut. And at some point they probably thought I had a kidney problem because I was in there all the time. [01:09:09] Speaker C: But I was just reading the. [01:09:11] Speaker A: Yeah, yeah. And eventually it got to where that just wasn't working. And so what I would do is I would wait until late at night for my deeper study, and I would go to Denny's, and I would just sit on the table at Denny's and read. And I didn't have a cool Bible, by the way. I had this big, thick, like, family bible. So it was quite the scene, I'm sure. It had, like, doilies on it. It was like, poofy. I was reading, like, people's pancakes would fly off the table from the sheer wind of me turning the pages, right? And so when I was at Denny's, people would attack me there, and they would say, like, you're an idiot for reading that. What are you doing? And I'm like, I was so innocent about it because I was like, I don't. Like, I'm trying to figure this out. And I would share with them what I was learning, and I would start attracting people to the word of God at Denny's, and they'd be fighting with me and learning about the bible. And I didn't intend to be an evangelist. I didn't intend on being a bible teacher. That was nothing. I was wrestling hard with myself, but I couldn't turn it off. People were just attracted to me reading the Bible. And everywhere I went, it was common, constant, constant discussions about the word of God. And so I never got any answers from christians, but I was given the answers for non believers while I was still wrestling. Interesting. There was a local pastor there who was kind of a night owl, and he'd go there for coffee and just sit and chill at night. And we started talking. So he invited me over to his church, and he's like, why don't you come kind of give your testimony? I'm like, my test of what's a testimony? I told my testimony there, and at the end of it, people were just staring at me. They weren't shuffling. They were just like, what? It was just the way life was. I had no idea how unique it was for the body of Christ at the time. [01:11:09] Speaker C: Right? [01:11:11] Speaker A: Plus, most people in that church were like over 70. So it was just this mind blowing, what the heck? And it's 20 year olds in here with this story. So they asked me to come back, like, a couple of weeks later and talk a little more about it. And then they asked me, like, a couple of weeks later to maybe I could teach on a certain subject that I was learning. And then I kept showing back up and showing back up. And then other churches started asking me the same thing. And then I started being a teacher of the word. I didn't know what was happening. I didn't know what was going on at all. And then I ended up co pastoring this one church. And I did that for, like, three years, walking people to Christ and teaching them about the word of God. And all this time, God is just pouring into me what to say and how to say it and how to see people for who they are. Two things kind of happened there. One, my ability to understand the Bible grew infinitely. The other thing that happened there, though, also was, and this is very negative, I found that sense of belonging and that sense of value that I didn't have as a kid, and I began to see myself as something very important. [01:12:24] Speaker C: Yes. [01:12:26] Speaker A: And I did. I thought I was very important. To me, being a Christian meant being a pastor. It meant teaching. It didn't mean connecting with God as much. My ability to relate to God was decreasing as I focused more and more on how valuable I was to the people around me, because this is what I was missing from the beginning, remember? [01:12:44] Speaker C: Yes. [01:12:45] Speaker A: And so it broke me. I ended up, not after about five years, I ended up walking away from the church kind of losing my ministry, if you will. And there was a lot of stuff that happened during that time that was very powerful. But one day I woke up, and that moving spirit of the living God wasn't moving anymore, and it made me sad. And so that's when I went to Bible college in Kentucky. And so from there, when I was in Bible school, I was there for two years. That's when the Internet was starting to really show up like it was there before, but it was really starting to be used. I realized that in Bible college I could do way more because I have a mind for understanding things that are deeper, that if I learned technology, I could bring all this Bible stuff into this Internet thing. And so I actually left Bible college and focused on some other stuff. And that's kind of where all that started mixing over the years. [01:13:42] Speaker C: Yeah, I was wondering, knowing what you know now and understanding the pain and trauma that you had as a child and where was God, and how could there be a God who is good in hindsight, knowing what you know now and knowing scripture so thoroughly, and understanding who you are in Christ, but still making sense of what happened to you in childhood and being able to understand that. [01:14:12] Speaker A: Yeah, there's been a lot of work in that area, because one of the things that people, I think is really important for people to understand is that human beings, while they might not have free will, they do have free choice. And that's being specific. Very. A little bit hyper aggressive with the terms, but kind of splitting hairs. But really, only God has free will, the freedom to do what you will. Humans have free choice, the freedom to make the decision based upon the options you have. Just because things happen doesn't always mean it's the will of God. So, looking back on my family, I don't believe that it was God's intention necessarily, that I'd be abused and beaten and tormented. I don't believe God gave me this world for the sole purpose of making me think I was terrible or ugly or broken. But it's what happened. And I always say to people that just because God can make something good out of bad, because that's what he promises, by the way. It doesn't mean that the bad was ever good. Just because God redeemed something doesn't make the bad thing okay. And I think we get really confused about this sometimes. Just because God can use it, it doesn't mean the thing was good. We have this weird mentality sometimes as humans that we can justify all manner of evil simply because God can redeem it. And that's a terrible way to process, because then we lose the reality of what evil is and why bad things happen. Did my mom, my dad want to behave that way? They had their own issues, right? And you can go back and back and back with family history and bondage and dynamics of abuse and wars and alcoholism and sexual abuse, and go, just keep going, and everyone suffer. What I had to understand was that it's possible God allowed it. That's between him and him. But at the end of the day, God just made something good out of something bad. And that's what he promised us. And that's where we have to have our faith that God has said, I'll do that. I'll redeem this. This is where I think that, looking back, I think God just simply made something good, because he also taught me how to use my mind very sharply. I was able to detect whether I was going to be beaten by the way that my mom would walk out of the car when the car would pull up in the driveway, and the distance of her footsteps, the loudness of her heels. And so I learned as a kid that if she saw me when she opened the door, I would be abused. But if I was in the bathroom when she opened the door, there's a 50% chance I wouldn't be right. And so I would often just run to the bathroom and close the door and turn on the fan and make her think I was using the restroom when she came home. And I would survive the entry. And when you do that, at hundreds of little bit of details all around you, you grow up in a world where you're living and understanding nuance and people very well, and so you can see and feel and ride the waves of nuance. It could be painful at times and also cause misfires. Right. Because humans shouldn't be judged on nuance. But ultimately, it carves a fantastic mind that really sees from different angles. [01:17:22] Speaker C: Yes. [01:17:23] Speaker A: And it creates a very valuable resource in the world. And whether it's the word of God or technology or whatever it is, the mind has been sharpened. So from those things, how could I regret or challenge God on how he's designed or allowed my design, or even just redeemed my design, at the very least, for his purposes. [01:17:45] Speaker C: Right. [01:17:45] Speaker A: And that, to me, is the most kind of best way to answer. Know, you can't justify abuse, but God can make bad good in his own time if you trust him with, wow, that's. [01:17:57] Speaker C: That's really powerful and insightful, Chris. And I'm sure those who are listening. Many will be able to relate and understand what you're saying, but what beauty he has brought from ashes, for sure, in your life. As we're closing here, I'd love for you to give some advice. I know there's some skeptics out there who are very far from belief like you were, and I wondered how you would counsel them towards looking to see if there really is someone behind the curtain who's actually good and powerful. [01:18:42] Speaker A: Well, first of all, you're right. And there's one piece of advice I would definitely give skeptics, and I hate what I'm about to say because I wish it wasn't true. Like what I'm about to say, I literally despise the fact that it's true. And so I'm only giving the advice because it's true, not because I like it. It's really important to know that, and that's that there is only a certain point at which our logic can take us. At some point in time, we won't have all the information gathered to make an adequate decision on whether or not there's a God that exists. Because for every single thing that we find that points us towards God, we'll find one more thing that says no. Now, I don't necessarily believe it's 50 50, but I think that's how our experience often is. We vacillate on the idea. And the thing that really sucks the most about this is that at some point in time, you have to actually take a leap of faith and decide that's what you're going to believe. I say that, hating the fact that that's true, but if you're really going to dig into the logic of it, it's kind of the only way it could work. You can gather all the information across all the possible thoughts, but at some point you have to make a leap and say, I'm going to believe that because it's good and it makes sense, but I'm ultimately going to choose to believe it. You can't have something outside of you make you do it, and that includes logic and reason. You have to take all of your logic, all of your reason to that final point and make a decision. You can't just wait around until your brain makes it up for you because there's always conflicting information. [01:20:19] Speaker C: Sage advice there, Chris. And you spoke to the Christian a little bit earlier about presuming coming with what we know to the non believer and what our agenda is, but actually not really getting to know the other, not getting to know who the person is in front of you and what their thoughts are and what their struggles are and how to meet them in a way that's meaningful. So I wondered if you could just speak for just a moment about that or anything else you would advise for us as christians to consider as we're talking with those who don't believe. [01:20:59] Speaker A: If the question is, what can you advise christians? I just don't even think we have the time for that one. [01:21:04] Speaker C: We need a whole nother session, don't we? [01:21:06] Speaker A: This is a 24 hours stream. But specifically to the evangelistic concept, one of the biggest reasons that I think evangelism is weak or has been weakened. More specifically, to be less harsh, is that christians aren't taught to care and they're not taught to communicate. Christians in general are afraid of what other people believe because it imposes another possible know. Just think about know. You're in a church, there's going to be an altar call. The pastor says, ok, with every head bowed and every eye closed, I want to ask you a question. Do you trust Jesus Christ as your lord and savior? No one's looking around. It's all super safe. No one's going to call you out. You're really quiet, you're really safe. You've seen those churches before that do this. And then the second someone believes, all right, you're a Christian. And now go out in the world and be brave in the middle of a bunch of other believers who think just like you, you're allowed to hide and sneak around and close your eyes and you be embarrassed and all that, but somehow you're expected to now perform in a world of people who hate you. That doesn't make any sense. Our model of both that kind of thing is foolish because we should be thankful and excited. I was actually with a young man once at a church. This happened just this last year, and it was really cool. The pastor said, without anyone looking around with every eyes closed, say in your heart. Do you say in your heart that you believe? Now, as church people, we all know what's going on here. That person's thinking, okay, I believe I'm going to say it to myself. But he misunderstood it and he just shouts out real loud, I believe it was awesome because somebody else on the other side of the church then said, out loud, I believe. And it was like what I loved about that was that this whole garbage idea of being afraid to believe is such crap. And these two unbelievers that became believers are defining those very rules and saying, and they were doing it accidentally, but that's what it should be. So having said that, fundamentally, we're raised to kind of be quiet and broken and silent amongst each other, and then we're expected to have these big results in the world by performance. It's so jacked up and backwards. So when you're out there and you're communicating the message of Jesus Christ and you're saying, this is what God is, this is who God is, you really have to talk to people. You have to find out what they believe already. And don't be afraid of that, because when you're talking to someone about what they believe, you know what you're actually doing. It's a very specific theological term. It's called given a crap. And you're given a crap. Just care about somebody, right. And it's okay to not know what somebody else knows. You don't have to be an expert in what they're saying. Matter of fact, when it comes to communication, one of the worst things you could do is really try to relate to somebody. People say that's the highest form of communication. It's not. If I'm trying to relate to somebody all the time, if they say something I don't relate with, then I'm shut down. Instead, we should try to put ourselves in people's shoes. That's what builds communication. Put yourself in their shoes. How are they hearing what you're saying right now? Talk to them. Stop trying to relate to them and understand them for who they are, because they're going to say things you don't agree with. They're going to say things you don't believe in. They're going to vote away. You don't vote. They're going to believe culturally. And if you try to relate to them, you're going to feel shut down, you're going to feel distant, you're going to feel nervous, you're going to feel cold. But if you go out to the field, so to speak, and you go to speak to people about Jesus Christ, and one of the techniques I use to make it practical is I'll walk up to somebody and I'll say, hi, my name is Chris. I just saw you standing over here. I'm a Christian, but all I wanted to do was come over here and ask you, is there anything you need prayer for? Because sometimes I just feel the need to pray for somebody, and I just wondered if you need any help or anything, and it doesn't mean anything. I'm not trying to put any pressure on you. I just want to know if I could pray for you. Now, some people are going to get mad at that, but sometimes people will say, yeah, I am going through something. And at that moment, you stop. You stop your list of things you have to say. You get off the Romans road, stop thinking about John 316, Romans five eight, Romans eight one, whatever. Stop it and just be a human being, be a loving person and put yourself in their shoes and ask them questions about their life. Why, what, when? How did it make you feel and really want to know? And when you do that, then you start sharing. Oh, yeah, I've had similar things, and this is how God has brought me out of that. And so when I pray, I think about this a lot of times. What I'll do is I'll say, before I pray for you, I want to tell you about who I'm praying to. So you know who that is that I'm praying to. So you don't think I'm praying to some kind of weird mystical symbol with like 19 arms that's got an elephant head? People will often laugh or something, but I'll use that as a little kind of moment to tell them about Jesus before I pray for them. God wants to redeem people's hearts. He wants to redeem their souls. He wants to rescue them out of where they are and communicate to them who he is and his heart for them. And when you are loving somebody by giving a crap, the theological term, when you're doing that, you're opening up the floodgates for them to receive it from God. Because if you're representing God as someone who cares, then it's so much more obvious that God cares. But if you're just walking around spitting out literature or phrases or just trust in Jesus and you'll be okay. Look, there was a time in our culture, maybe in our country, where that's all you needed. But people need connection, they need relationship, and they need to be known. People are very lonely, and if you want to really love the world, then take time doing it. That's how you win souls, not this other crap. [01:27:20] Speaker C: Wow. Chris, you are amazing. Truly. Your story, bar none, is just extraordinary. I mean, the transformation that you have taken in your life, the way that the Lord has transformed your life, and you obviously know the real Jesus, not just someone who pretended or pretended to be Christ. You actually found the one that you were willing to lose your life for, it sounds like, and allow him to take control because he's worthy of your trust and he's somebody that you want to be in control of your life because it sounds to me that you have found the place of being loved and cared for and lifted up and valued in such an extraordinary way. You obviously want that for other people too. You want them to know what is real and true. You want everyone to know what you have found. I just have chills here, sitting here thinking about where you have come from and where you are now and your heart for Christ. I just want to thank you for coming on and being so honest and so vulnerable. It makes me want to have you on again and again. I just feel like we have just scratched the surface of your life and the things that you're doing. It's not lost on me that because the word was so important in your transformation that now you are making the Bible available, the most technologically advanced yet easiest way to access it, that that is your heart's passion and mission right now. So I do hope that that comes to fruition sooner than later. But anyway, thank you so much, Chris. I really can't thank you enough for coming on. [01:29:35] Speaker A: It's my pleasure. Yeah, I enjoyed it very much. [01:29:39] Speaker C: Good. [01:29:40] Speaker B: Thanks for tuning into cybe stories. To hear Chris Adams'story you can find out more about his new X Bible project and recommended resources in the episode. Notes for questions and feedback about this episode, you can contact me through our email. Again, that's [email protected] if you're a skeptic or atheist who would like to connect with one of our guests with questions, please contact us again through our email and we'll get you connected. This podcast is produced through the CS Lewis Institute through our wonderful producer Ashley Decker and audio engineer Mark Rosara. You can also see these podcasts in video form on our YouTube channel through the excellent work of our video editor, Kyle Polk. If you enjoyed it, I hope you'll follow rate review and share this podcast with your friends and social network. [01:30:30] Speaker C: In the meantime, I'll be looking forward. [01:30:32] Speaker B: To seeing you next time, where we'll see how another skeptic flips the record of their life.

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