I Don’t Need God – Mark Meckler’s Story

Mar 4, 2022

Side B Stories
Side B Stories
I Don't Need God - Mark Meckler's Story
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A strong atheist until he was 51, Mark Meckler felt no need for God until the influence of his personal relationships paired with deep intellectual curiosity led him to consider something more.

Recommended book: The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel


Episode Transcript

Hello, and thanks for joining in. I’m Jana Harmon, and you’re listening to the Side B Podcast, 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 unexpectedly became a Christian to learn from their perspectives, both as someone who once resisted belief in God and then as someone who changed their mind.

What we think and believe is a complex phenomenon. We often come to our beliefs because they’re part of our world growing up, the fabric of our family, the views of our friends. We seem to be drawn to what is familiar, at least at first. Sometimes we actually reject what we know and become drawn to other views based upon what we desire, or towards the beliefs of those who we like and admire believe. We can also be swayed towards strong beliefs by dominant voices in our culture at university and beyond, when exposed to different ways of thinking about and viewing the world, towards or away from God and religion. 

In our story today, Mark Meckler’s nonreligious cultural Judaism grew into a militant atheism, as influenced by the dominating voices of the New Atheists. As a young adult, he became convinced of the poisonous, immoral nature of religious belief and wanted nothing to do with it. Religion was for weak people who needed a crutch. Highly driven and accomplished in his life and career, over the years, he didn’t feel the need for God. He was happy on his own. But against all odds, he became a Christian after three decades of atheism. This begs the question, what would it take for someone like Mark to become open to consider the possibility of God? Even more than that, to become an impassioned follower of Jesus Christ.

I hope you’ll listen to find out the answers at least for Mark. Even more than that, I hope you’ll stay to the end to hear his advice to skeptics in considering becoming open to ideas that they may have readily dismissed and to Christians on how to live in a way that invites the skeptic to reconsider. 

Welcome to the Side B Podcast, Mark. It’s so great to have you. 

It’s really great to be here. It’s an honor. Thanks for having me today.

Wonderful. As we’re getting started, so the listeners can know more of who you are, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

My name’s Mark Meckler, and I run a national political organization called Convention of States Action, about five million members. I’m trained as an attorney, but I am a political activist for a living and for my passion now. I married to Patty for 28 years. We live just north of Austin, Texas. I have two grown kids. My son is 26 years old, in his last year of law school in the Washington, DC, area. My daughter is 22, another political warrior, and she lives here in Austin, Texas, with us, and she runs the education reform project for the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Also, you might have seen my dog in the background back there. That’s Levi, and he is a 160-pound Great Dane. He’s a permanent fixture here in the office with me.

Wow! You couldn’t have a greater companion. I’ve got two Golden Retrievers, so I know what that’s all about. 

Let’s step back and lay a context for your story, your story that brought you to place of atheism and then to God. Tell me about your childhood. Where did you grow up? Tell me about your family, your community, culture. Was God any part of that world?

So I grew up in southern California, in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, and I grew up in a very what I would describe as Judeo-Christian family from a value set perspective. I’m Jewish from both sides of my family. The whole’s family from Ukraine, grandparents on one side, great grandparents on the other side. Jewish culture was very important in our family. I would say, in my high school, 50% of the kids were Jewish. A lot of folks went to temple. I would now, in hindsight, call it ritualistic Judaism. Not much God involved. Really wasn’t much about faith, more about family, community, tradition. Those things were strong in my family, but there was no God in my family, per se. There was no prayer, there was no worship, and we as a family never went to temple.

So you didn’t go to temple, so did you practice Shabbat or high holy days? 

None of that. Once in a while, for Passover, for some of the high holidays, we might go to somebody else’s house, one of the older relatives who still practiced that kind of stuff, but we really didn’t participate in it, and I really frankly, as a kid, didn’t understand any of the meaning of it. We would read prayers that had been translated from Hebrew to English. Sometimes the older folks might say a prayer or two in Hebrew. I mean, to me it just sounded weird. My weird relatives who were into this stuff, and I love them dearly. It was fun for the kids, and we would get treats, and that’s pretty much all it was about for me growing up.

So you didn’t go to Hebrew school? You didn’t have a bar mitzvah or any of that? 

No, all that stuff was offered to me, but the way it really works in what I would call a really nontraditional Jewish community, non-orthodox community, is you get to be about twelve years old, and then your parents say, “Hey, you’re going to be bar mitzvahed,” and usually, you’re like, “Well, I don’t really want to, but I will if I have to,” because we were a part of a temple community. But for me, I didn’t want to do. And the main reason I didn’t want to do it is my friends who did it all got a bunch of money. This sounds weird, but cash is the primary gift that people get for their bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah, and I felt like, to me, that just seemed kind of weird and sacrilegious. I didn’t believe in God, I was not a practicing Jew, and I was going to have a big party where I put on religious garb, sort of pretended that I was religious so I could get money. And that actually felt wrong to me at the time.

I don’t know that I expressed it that articulately, but I told my parents, “I’m not really interested in this,” and my parents were okay with that.

So your parents were nonpracticing Jews. Did they have an expressed atheism or disbelief in God, even though they were part of a, I guess culturally speaking, of a religious sect? Judaism? 

Yeah. I mean in a sense there’s two questions wrapped up into one there that I want to address. First of all, it’s just my parents in particular. They had a decision they had made when they were younger and a philosophy that they were going to kind of turn it on us and ask us, “Well, what do you think?” as opposed to telling us what to think. And so we were raised in a household that was very open to whatever you might think but non imposing of any particular religious orientation. Again, important to remember the values were there. Everything that you would think about as Judeo-Christian values, we lived according to the commandments essentially, but it was not expressed in religious terminology. So that’s where we came from philosophically.

There’s a very different, I think, distinction that has to be made for folks who didn’t grow up in a religious home because, it’s hard to understand this, but being Jewish is both a race and a religion. And so I don’t have a choice, I’m Jewish. That is what I am. That will never change. Every day of my life, I wear a Star of David. Mine has a cross in the middle of it now, so that I understand where the heart is, right? But I’m Jewish, and that can never change. I can’t renounce my Judaism any more than I could renounce the fact that I’m a Caucasian person, right? That just is part of who I am genetically speaking, literally. And there’s a culture associated with being Jewish if you choose to participate in that culture. And I did. My family was very Jewish culturally. We ate traditionally Jewish foods quite often. Like I discussed a little bit, we went occasionally to Passover, things like this, and if you’ve been deep in Jewish culture, families behave a certain way, same as there might be an Italian culture or a Greek culture. So we were very culturally Jewish. My parents were very proud of that, were always very proud of being Jewish.

They were not religiously Jewish, so this is—even when I married my wife. She’s from an Irish Catholic family. She said, “Oh, it’s kind of like being Irish and Catholic,” and I said, “No, because it’s not a nation. I’m not Jewish because my parents or my grandparents are from some particular region of the world that had a particular political ideology. This is my genetic lineage. I’m from the line of the Jews,” and so it is an actual race of people. I always felt Jewish. I still feel very Jewish today. But I was never religiously Jewish. My dad, I came to know later in life, was a serious atheist. He still is. My mom is what I would describe as a deist. She absolutely believes in God. She believes that God has a role in our lives. But she’s not accepted Jesus Christ, and she doesn’t necessarily believe in the Abrahamic God in any sense of the word.

Thank you for that clarification. I think that it does make things clear to understand that there’s a cultural and almost genetic heritage. There’s a familial heritage of Judaism, and there’s also a religion associated with that. It sounds like, if 50% of the people in your high school were Jewish, you were really steeped in Jewish community. I’m curious. Were there any Christians around in your upbringing at all? 

Oh, yeah. I mean, there were lots of Christians in my high school and lots of Jews. I went to temple occasionally on a Friday night because I had friends who were Jewish, and it was really a social event, mostly, for the young people. It was a place to gather on a Friday night. And because I had friends who were Christians, occasionally I’d spend a Saturday night slumber party over at somebody’s house, and Sunday morning, I’d go to church with them. So I was exposed from a religious perspective to both Judaism and Christianity.

But for you, what was religion? Whether it was Christianity or Judaism, obviously it wasn’t something you believed that was real or true or worth your life or belief. What did you think it was? 

Yeah. As I became old enough to actually consider it, you know, which really as I got into high school and started thinking about these things, to me, I would describe religion, what I would’ve said back then is it’s a crutch for people who need it. I wasn’t offended by it per se. I just felt like, “Look, I’m a good person. I live a good life. My parents are really good people who taught me the right values, so that’s for people who are struggling to understand that there are things that are unexplainable, that we don’t understand the cosmos, and so they want to call those things that they don’t understand God,” or, “Things happen that seem like a wild coincidence or couldn’t possibly happen. They want to call those things miracles.” To me, it seemed like a crutch for people who couldn’t deal with the fact that there were unanswerable questions. And a lot of the stories that I’ve heard about coming to faith, people came to faith during times of trauma in their lives. And so that made sense to me. I’d think, “Well, when you don’t know where else to turn, you would turn to God.” I mean it’s so true now! In hindsight, right? But I thought it in sort of a negative way. Like, instead of just saying, “Hey, I’ve just got to figure out how to deal with this,” you’re going to turn to this invisible force that you can’t see or explain. To me, honestly, it just sort of seemed weak.

So it really wasn’t a rejecting. It was just an embracing of, I guess, a more realistic understanding of life? You didn’t need that kind of thing. You didn’t need God. You didn’t need the crutch of religion. At what point did you-

Yeah. A terrible mistake in hindsight, but that’s really where I was at as a high school kid.

Yeah. So when did you actually embrace the understanding or identity as an atheist? 

Really in college is when I came strongly to atheism. I was fascinated by religion in the sense that I love people, I’m fascinated by people. I’ve always loved history and politics and sociology, so if you look at the world and you want to understand the world broadly writ, then you have to understand faith and religion. Because it plays a role as far back as we can go in recorded history, and it always has and it always will. It plays a major role, perhaps the most major role. It plays a role in the formation of countries, in human being’s lives, in geopolitical realities, and so, if you don’t study that stuff, you can’t understand humanity.

So when I went to college I took religion classes, not because I was a religious person, but I wanted to understand. I didn’t know anything really about Christianity or Judaism or Islam, Abrahamic religions or any religions, for that matter. Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, you name it. I knew nothing about that stuff. And so I wanted to take classes to understand that. I went to San Diego State University, a pretty classic, regular, public-funded university in San Diego. I went because it was a great party school, to be honest with you. It was not intellectual rigor I was seeking.

But as I took these religion classes, what I found out in these classes was I was taught that the greatest force for evil in the history of humanity was Christianity, that more people had died in the name of Christianity than any other religion on the face of the earth, that the Crusades had been this incredible period of grotesque excess and torture and conversion at the point of the sword and all of the stuff that is, partially at least, true about the Crusades. Certainly all that stuff took place historically. But I was taught it without any context. There was no reason. Why did the Crusades happen? I was never taught what happened right before the Crusades, which is 400 years of Ottoman domination, Muslim domination, across the continent of Europe, the torture, the excess, the conversion, the rape, the pillage. I wasn’t taught any of that stuff.

So what I learned out of context was that Christianity itself, as a doctrine, had brought all this evil upon the face of the earth and that the earth would be a much better place without it. So I became a pretty strident atheist, and I would argue even further I became what I would call a militant and even a mean atheist. I refer to myself today… I’m Paul. I mean, from the bad side of Paul. I’m the worst among you. And I would’ve been a persecutor in the day, honestly. I can relate to Paul. I thought those people were stupid and crazy and frankly evil, that they fostered an evil ideology, and if they didn’t understand that, it was only because they were ignorant.

It sounds like you were influenced by the New Atheists thinkers. 

Absolutely.

Yes. And your professors must have been promoting the same. 

Yes. And that was really… I’m happy to say that, as you follow it today, the atheist movement has largely died out. The New Atheists thinkers, the great thinkers of the atheist movement, they’re not speaking anymore. Even the modern ones have realized that, whether they believe it or not is a different question, but it’s a moral dead end. It leads to nowhere good. And so they’re really not speaking out anymore. Back then, that was the heyday of atheist thinking. And it was being taught institutionally on campuses, and yeah, I drank a big dose of it from a fire hose.

Wow. So you graduated college. I guess you were still living with this mentality of the evil nature of Christianity and religion generally, that it poisons everything, as Christopher Hitchens says. 

Yep.

So how long did you live with this kind of mentality? Into your young adulthood? 

In hindsight, not just because I’ve become a believer, but in hindsight it’s horrifying because of how intellectually vacuous I would say I was. That here is, I think, the most important question that faces any human being. Why am I here? Where do I come from? What does all this mean? And I was providing for myself and in judgment of others around me the most simplistic of answers while actually doing no research. And I’ve always considered myself an intellectual person. I’m a reader. You can see my library behind me. I have thousands of books here. I love to read. I’ve always been this way, since I was a little kid, so to take this kind of position on the most important things in human existence, without having done any homework, without having really read the Bible, read the Koran, read the Hadith, read things like that. To take those positions. Frankly, to be honest, I wasn’t even reading the great atheistic thinkers. It was this simple, easy answer, like, “There’s no God. That’s for weak, stupid, evil people, so I’m an atheist.” And that was really the depth of my intellectual analysis. Pretty embarrassing in hindsight.

Well, you know, you were taught that by probably people you respected. It probably agreed with your desire to live the way that you wanted perhaps. I’m curious. In embracing atheism, you said you were intellectually minded, you loved to read, but that you perhaps didn’t read the great atheists in terms of truly understanding the implications of atheism, or that worldview, or even the grounding of atheism. Did you venture into that? Did you consider, as an intellectual person, where atheism goes? Other than it’s a rejection of religion, but what is atheism actually? 

Yeah, no. Not at all. No consideration at all. Again, this is why, in hindsight, I look back at that person, and if I was talking to myself back then, I would say, “You’re kind of an intellectual embarrassment. You don’t know anything, and you’re drawing conclusions, and your conclusions have consequences, and you’re not following your conclusions to their logical consequences.” If I were talking to old me, I would say, “What have you read? What have you considered? What comes of what you believe?” And there was literally zero consideration. It was very hedonistic to be honest with you. And I don’t mean that in the sense that I just wanted to enjoy earthly pleasures. I mean it in the sense that I was just indulging my own thoughts. Because my thinking was, “Look, I think I’m a pretty good person, and I think I lead a pretty good life, and so I don’t really need God. So why would I spend any time on this? I’ve made my decision. There is no God. I don’t need God.” And so it was very internally focused. It was me focused, I focused. It had nothing to do with any other consequences.

So you weren’t bothered by those existential questions, like, “What happens to you when you die?” “What about bigger purpose or meaning in life?” How to ground certain things, like your own free will or consciousness or even your own moral conscience? 

No. And again, I feel like speaking across the decades to a different person, which I was before I was saved. There was zero of that. There was zero intellectual curiosity. There was zero worry. For me, it was so simple. I didn’t need it, so it didn’t matter. I didn’t feel the need. I wasn’t in a dark place. I wasn’t seeking salvation. I didn’t feel like I needed to be saved, and so I would say, if I had been able to talk to myself back then, my response would be, “Why would I spend any time with that stuff? I know there’s no God. Nothing happens after I die. I live a pretty good life. I’m a good person. And I’m happy. So what does the rest of it matter?”

Yeah. It just is completely irrelevant. Not even worth consideration. 

Yep.

So as you’re moving along, walk us along your journey. What made you stop and reconsider, perhaps, your perspective? 

Well, I think a couple of big turning points in my life. So one was I got married straight out of law school. I was still absolutely an atheist, got married out of law school. That marriage lasted a year and a half and was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made. There’s a lot of depth in that I didn’t understand anything about people, to be honest with you. My wife came from a badly dysfunctional, alcoholic family. There was a lot of that wrapped into it. And that was the first of what I would describe as any kind of a dark period in my life. My parents have been married forever. They’re past 60 years married now. And I was expecting I would get married and I would be married forever. My grandparents were married forever, and strangely, even in Los Angeles, most of my friends’ parents had been married lifelong marriages, so that was my personal framework. That was my own view of myself, was as a married person. So when I ended up divorced after a year and a half, it was really personally devastating. That was the first time in my life I’d gone through what I would describe as a dark place. And it has nothing to do… I didn’t seek God there. I didn’t feel like I needed that. It’s not what I looked for.

But on my way out of that, I met my wife, my current wife. We’ve been married, it will be 28 years on the 28th of this month, and she was a person of faith, and she had grappled with big questions, and she had studied her own faith, and she had been through much more stuff than me. She was six years younger and way more than six years wiser than I was, to be honest with you. And she sort of plucked me out of the rubble and started a little bit to open my eyes. And so that was the first turning point.

The big turning point in my life came after we got married and my son Jacob was born. And I remember standing in his bedroom one night, looking in his crib, as every parent does, and watching him just breathing quietly in the night and thinking, “That’s a miracle. That’s not just biology. That’s not just a sperm and an egg. That’s life! That doesn’t just happen. Something miraculous is right there,” and I had that feeling, and I would say now, in hindsight, that’s the Holy Spirit saying, “I want to show you something. I want you to see this, and I want you to acknowledge this.” I didn’t become a person of faith, but that started to open my heart to a journey of faith, realizing there’s things that I just don’t understand that I want to try to understand.

So it was humbling, in a sense, and who can deny almost the miraculous nature of a child? It really seems just so incomprehensible that something so beautiful, someone so beautiful can come from your own body. And I can see, and I’ve heard other stories similarly, that it just seems so beyond what an atheistic view could explain. But you said that your wife kind of picked you up out of the rubble. You had spoken of cultural Christians in the past, but somehow it sounds like the way that you’re speaking of your wife is qualitatively different. 

You said that there was something more thoughtful, something deeper or more profound in her faith that you had seen earlier that opened your eyes to perhaps that there’s something different? Or more? Or about Christianity that drew you in or at least opened you up? 

Yeah. I wish it was that simple and that fast. I’m a very slow learner, and she’s a very patient woman. It really wasn’t her faith. It was just her general demeanor, and her ability to love me despite my lack of faith was a big deal. I knew she was a person of faith, and she was willing to love me and to bring me into her heart despite my faith. Honestly, I could never understand that. Even today, I can’t understand that. It doesn’t make sense to me. It’s just a blessing from God. I think there’s a difficult place and a special place in the Lord’s heart for people who are willing to marry people not of faith. I don’t recommend it, honestly. I tell people you shouldn’t do that. She was willing to love me, and she’d never even met a Jewish person before, and she would tell you that, when she met me and started hanging out with me, she said to her friends, “I know he’s not a Christian, but I’ve never met a more Christian man in how he lives his life and his personal ethos and the things that he believes. Aside from knowing the Lord and loving the Lord, the entire rest of the framework is there more than anybody I’ve ever met.” So that’s what she saw in me was God’s plan, not necessarily God’s light because I hadn’t accepted God’s light.

And what I saw in her is a person who was just wise. She had a wisdom beyond her years. And I didn’t attach that to her faith. I didn’t think, “Oh, this is so great! There’s a good Christian woman coming into my life.” To me, it was actually a little bit a hindrance, like, “Is this going to be a problem for us?” because I’m an atheist, she’s a Christian. And because she was willing to accept me how I was, I just accepted her how she was, and so it worked out. So when we got married, I was not a believer. I was not a person of faith. I was an atheist. She was a believing Christian. And that’s how we formed our marriage.

I’m sure that there are those people listening who may have a spouse who doesn’t see life and belief in the same way. I’m curious, from their perspective… It sounds like your wife was very patient, not pushy, not pressing, gave you space to move along this journey on your own terms. Would you say that that was the case? 

Yeah. I would say that’s beyond the case. She honestly never mentioned it to me. She just practiced her own faith and went about her own business quietly. And her faith, to be fair, was very quiet, and what I mean by that is she had grown up in the Catholic church. She had left the Catholic Church and a big part for her was she always felt called to a personal relationship with the Lord, and she felt that the way that the Catholic church, at least the way she experienced it was organized, was that there was an intermediary. There was the priest, and there was the parishioner, and then there was God on the other side. And in a real specific sort of metaphorical sense, she used to sneak into church after hours and go up behind the Holy of Holies so that she could be close to God. Her heart was seeking today, and she felt like… If she was wrong about all the structural stuff, she had a direct heart for God, and God had a direct heart for her, but she saw this structure between her and God, and she was willing to do something that was essentially cheating, right? That she would go into church when no one was there and go to kind of a secret place where she was not supposed to be, so that she could be closer to God.

So when she left the Catholic church, she began a seeking of her own, which was just to have a heart for God and to have a personal relationship with God, and so that was very quiet. So her faith was very quiet and very steadfast, and it never impugned on me, and she never tried to impose it on me. And she just used to pray to God that I would come to faith.

There’s a pivotal instance in her life before we got married. Her dad said he was very worried that she was going to marry me, and he loved me. We had a great relationship. But he said, “I’m worried because I’m worried that your husband’s going to burn in hell because he hasn’t accepted Jesus Christ,” and she said, “I don’t know what His plan is. I don’t know how it works, but I have absolute faith that that will not happen.” I mean, it turns out she was right. Thank God! She didn’t understand how she was going to be right. It’s not like she foretold the future, but she had enough faith in God, and I would add something super important. She was patient. She was willing to wait on God, something I struggle with quite often. She was incredibly patient over a lifetime of marriage before I came to the Lord.

That’s really wonderful, and what a testimony to her and to her life. You had, as a militant atheist, such contempt for Christians and for Christianity. You viewed them in an extremely negative light. Obviously, those negative sensibilities or stereotypes of Christians and Christianity must have been broken down as you fall in love with someone who calls themself a Christian. It would be hard to hold those two views simultaneously. Did obviously living with her, loving her break down some of those negative understandings of what Christianity was and who Christians were? 

I wish I could tell you I was that insightful. Again, a lot of this is embarrassing in hindsight, but I just viewed her separately from that.

Okay. 

I knew she was a wonderful person. I never made the connection. “Oh, part of that is her relationship with the Lord.” I just knew her as a wonderful person. In fact, over my lifetime—and this still happens today and I try not to be this person. The hypocrisy of so many Christians is what really set me off on a personal level. Doing business, I would meet Christians, and I would call them Sunday Christians. They went to church on Sunday, and I used to say they’d go to church on Sunday so they could pray for forgiveness so they could put the knife between your ribs on Monday and Tuesday, right?

Wow. 

And so I met a lot of folks that professed Christianity, that talked about going to church, that talked about their relationship with the Lord. I did business with them, and I watched them do horrible, terrible things, that I would think, “If you’re a follower of this faith and this is what you do as a follower, then I don’t want to be part of that faith.” And so of course I didn’t see that in my wife, but I never… sadly… now I know, but I never thought of her as like, “Oh, well, part of the reason that she’s such a great person is because of her faith in Jesus Christ and her following biblical tenets.” I just never thought about that.

So you had this beautiful child born. There was something in you that became open at that moment or softened. Why don’t you walk us on farther from there? 

So what started to happen is, the older I got, the more I realized that it could not just be me. Everything can’t be about me. When we’re babies, when we’re born, everything is about us. That’s the only thing we know, right? We scream to be fed. We scream to be changed. We scream to be picked up. We want what we want as we grow up, and maybe we have temper tantrums to give us what we want. The entire universe revolves around us, and hopefully, if we get wisdom as we grow, if we learn from our experiences, we learn that it’s not all about us. There’s other people. There are other needs.

So after having Jacob be born and seeing that as some sort of miracle, I started to say, “There’s things I don’t understand. Maybe they’re not explainable by science, but maybe there’s something else. There has to be something else,” and so I started to think, “Well, maybe there’s just some sort of… like we’re all connected.” I think it’s called monism, right? We’re all one. Everything’s one. I started to think about that. In some way, there’s some universal force that connects all of us. So I started to seek. I didn’t seek Christianity. I sought everything but Christianity. I didn’t seek Judaism, either. Really what I started to seek is Eastern religion, Eastern thought, Buddhism, Hinduism. I have bookshelves full of books on Buddhism and Hinduism and going into more ancient religions, Jainism, which is the root of Hinduism. I literally went to India. I spent time in India. I was doing business in India, but I was fascinated by the way faith is integrated with everyday life in India. I don’t agree with most of the faith systems in India, but what I do agree with is, whatever you believe, if you’re a person of faith in India, it’s everything. It’s every day. You pray in the morning. You pray before you go into a meeting. There’s a shrine that’s prominent in your home, in the entry of your home. That’s true if your poor or rich.

I remember coming from India thinking… Patty and I were relatively newly married. Thinking, “Man! That’s how I would want faith to be in my life! If I believed in God, I would want it to be like that! Not like the Sunday Christians. It’s everything! If there’s a God, then He’s everything, and it should be part of every fiber of my being.” So going to India taught me that. I studied yoga a lot. Patty and I got really into yoga as a form of exercise but sort of then philosophically, does that make any sense? I went very deep into Buddhism. I think as a philosophy, Buddhism’s a great thing. How to live your life in a great way. It was never meant to be a religion. I think Buddha himself, if you look back in the writings, he’d be horrified that they worship him and made it into some sort of a religion. It was supposed to be a comfortable, nice, happy way of living.

So I studied all that stuff, and none of it resonated with me. It was interesting. I was fascinated by it. I appreciated the cultural impact it had had, the geopolitical impact that it had, but none of it made my heart sing. So I came out of all of that still seeking but not being fulfilled.

So that’s an interesting turn of phrase. It didn’t make your heart sing. So there was still something there, obviously, that you were searching for. So what was your next step? If it wasn’t Eastern religion. 

So I gave up. Essentially. I wasn’t looking anymore, but I’m always still intellectually curious. By happenstance, I started studying quantum physics. I know that sounds crazy, but I’m just a curious person. I love the science around quantum physics. I’m not a mathematician, so I don’t understand the mathematics, but I found it really fascinating that quantum physicists are seeking what they call “the god particle,” which is the origin of all things. Like can you go to the smallest particle and find the origin of everything? And from my thinking, I thought, “Well, that’s what faith is seeking. That’s what people who seek God, they’re seeking the origin of all things, so scientists and theologians are seeking the exact same thing. That’s weird.” And the more that I got into quantum physics, the more I realized quantum physics is actually as close as we’ve ever come from a proof perspective, starting to prove up God.

For example, in quantum physics, they’ve now proven that a particle of light can be in two places at one time. The same particle. They can identify the particle. Now, that’s impossible according to anything we understand in science. What I just said should not be possible. They don’t know how it’s done. And when I saw that, I said, “God can do that.” Like, “If there’s a god, we know gods can be everywhere, all at once, and is, including through all of time. So is that God? What is that?” And so that started opening my mind, like science and religion not incompatible, completely integrated. And then I got into politics just by a bizarre happenstance. I built this huge political organization. 23 million members of conservative political activists. Through that process, I started to meet dozens, then hundreds, then thousands of righteous Christians all across America as I traveled. That’s really what opened my eyes and honestly gave me that spark and made my heart sing.

So it was really a combination of things. Again, I love what you said about the compatibility of science and belief, because oftentimes there’s a sense of, “I believe in science, not God or religion.” And there seems to be a real I guess misunderstanding with regard to their absolute integration and being able to remain intellectually sober minded and intelligent and actually seeing how God grounds what we do in science. It’s a bit upside down. But it’s interesting that quantum physics paved the pathway for you towards the possibility of God! 

A little crazy, I admit.

But then you started meeting more… Like your wife, in a sense, more who were serious minded Christians from political activism. I guess they presented themselves as being more than Sunday Christians, and they were, I would presume, serious about their faith, serious about God and country. 

Yes, absolutely.

I’m also interested in the statement that your wife or the perspective that your wife had about you, that you seemed to be a Christian man but without… So you had the moral integrity and values, perhaps those ten commandments, those presumed ten commandments that you grew up with were instilled in some way. Somehow Judaism got into you even though you weren’t into Judaism. In some regard, that it held for you and your moral character, so that, when you met Christians and had a similar moral compass, I presume, that there seemed to be more in common than you thought. Was it surprising to you? 

You know, well first of all, I’ll credit to my parents, because that moral code was put into me by my parents very intensely, and when I started to travel… I have always loved people. I just deeply love people, and I always have, from the time I was little, I’m just a people person, and so when I meet people, like if you asked me, “What do you collect?” You could look around on my shelves or whatever. I don’t have collections, but I do collect relationships because I just love people. When I meet somebody I love, I just stay in touch. I’ll stay in touch for a lifetime. I’m the person who will call you after two years and say, “Hey, we haven’t talked in a while.” Because I remember that spark in your eyes that meant something to me.

And so, when I started traveling around, and I would sit with somebody and I would think, “Man, there’s something about this person.” I would always ask. And I would say, “You know, you seem well settled. Things are crazy right now. You don’t seem angry. You seem happy. What is that?” And I started to hear over and over, “Well, I wasn’t always like this. I wasn’t like this before I was saved,” or, “It’s my relationship with Jesus Christ,” or, “It’s not me. It’s my Lord and Savior.” And I started to hear this over and over and over from people. If you travel in conservative political circles, you’re going to meet a lot of Christians. That’s just the way it is.

And so this is who I was crossing paths with. And Patty will tell you that, while this was going on, people would come up to me all the time because I’m becoming a public figure. I’m going from being a private person to a public figure. And people would come up to me all the time and say, “I’m praying for you,” and I’ll tell you, if somebody had said that to me in college, I’d have probably said something offensive in return, to be honest with you. I wouldn’t have liked it. I’d have been offended by it. I’d have probably told ’em to bug off and said something nasty. And I started to just feel like, “Wow, that’s really nice,” like, “I appreciate that.” It didn’t have the meaning to me that it does today. It almost makes me cry with people say that to me. Back then, it was just kind of like, “That’s very nice.” It’s like somebody saying, “Hey, we care about you.”

And so all these people were saying this to me, and Patty would talk to them, and they’d say, “Hey, we’re praying for your husband.” She would say, “Hey, I appreciate that,” and they would say, “It seems like he’s already a Christian,” like, “We see the Lord working in him.” And she would say, “I’ve seen that since before I married him. He’s the most Christian man I know. He just doesn’t know it yet, and I believe the Lord’s working in him.” So a lot of people said this to her. I had beyond what one human being deserves. I can’t possibly deserve this. I had thousands of people praying for me all over the country who I would meet, many of them who I now know were. And they’re a big part of my path to salvation.

I met a family in Sacramento, they would stay after every event. Four home schooled girls, mom, and dad, and every event, they could come pray for me and with me after the event. And they knew I was an atheist. And they would just keep praying for me. They were patient and persistent and loving. And I love those guys. And they’re still good friends of mine. The girls are grown up now. They’re wonderful kids. Some of them are married and have families of their own. They prayed me through. They prayed me to the Lord.

Then I met Dr. Dobson. Most of your listeners will know who James Dobson is. I had a chance to go to a big dinner, a fancy political dinner. All these big round tables, and I was seated at a table with Dobson. And I remember watching Dobson and thinking, “How come he’s like that?” All these people are talking about all the things that they’ve done, and “When I met this person…” and, “When I worked for this President…” and, “When I did this incredible thing…” and all Dobson was doing was like, “That’s fascinating. How did you get to be there? How did you meet him? How did that make you feel?” And I thought, “This guy has ministered to millions of people! He’s ministered to Presidents and foreign dignitaries. He’s been on television. He doesn’t care about himself. All he wants to do is love on all of these people,” and I remember sitting at that table thinking, “Whatever that thing is, I want that. I want to be like that. I don’t want to be like them,” and so that had a profound impact on me.

He had no idea of the impact, what he put in my heart that night by being Christian, not by being famous, not by being powerful, but by walking like Christ, by acting the way that Christ asks us to act, he transformed my heart. Something opened up in my heart that night that made me seek whatever it was that he had. So that was a big turning point in my life.

That’s fascinating. We often don’t know who’s watching. And I’ve heard it said, “The city on a hill works both ways.” We can cause people to leave Christianity and the faith because of not taking it seriously or that hypocrisy that you mentioned earlier, but then there are those people like James Dobson or the people who took time to come and pray with you, that get your attention, that you can see that there’s something different. They live differently. They’re selfless, not like the child who’s just coming up. Like you said, everything is about them. The world revolves around them. And these people obviously had others in mind first. 

Yeah, absolutely. Then I met… This is the biggest break point of my life is I met a guy by the name of Tim Dunn, who has become one of my closest friends in life, a political mentor and a mentor in every way, and I largely credit him for being the guy that brought me across the finish line and accepting Christ, not by asking me to but by just teaching me, and the first thing Tim did—he’s a wealthy donor. He’s on my board of directors. And we just hit it off intellectually. We could talk quantum physics and theology and religion and sociology and geology, and we just were both interested in everything, and we’d be up late at night, talking on the phone, like new best friends.

And one night he asked me what I know about my own heritage. And I said, “What do you mean?” He goes, “Well, you’re Jewish. That’s a totally fascinating, amazing thing! Your people are the Chosen People. I mean you go all the way back to a covenant with the Lord. I know you don’t believe in that stuff, but it’s incredible, the stories that have been told about your people for over 2,000 years, and what do you know about that?” And I said, “Nothing.” He’s like, “You should know about that! It’s really cool!” Like, “Whether you believe or not, it doesn’t matter. The history is there,” and so he said, “Why don’t you read Hebrews?” And he had me read Hebrews, and that was honestly my first real introduction to scripture.

And we started studying together. And he never said to me—and I think this is so important. He never said, “By the way, Mark. What I’m doing here is you need to be saved, because I’m worried about your soul and you’re going to burn in hell.” If he had done that, I’d have just been like, “I’m done. I’m out. I’ve heard this stuff before. Not interested in this stuff. You’re judging me. I don’t want that.” But all he did was use my intellect, and like, “These are things that should fascinate you,” and the real crux point with Tim is he asked me one day, “When did Christianity and Judaism actually separate? They’re obviously two major world religions, both Abrahamic in origin, so how’s the separation happen?” And I said, “Well, I don’t know much about it, but Jesus is born, He lives, He’s crucified. If you’re a believer, He’s resurrected, and He ascends, and those who believe that that happened are Christians, and those who don’t, if they were Jewish before, they’re still Jewish. Those who now believe He’s the resurrected Messiah, those are Christians.” And he said, “No, that’s wrong.” And I said, “Okay, so what’s the story?” And he said, “I’m not going to tell you. Go figure it out. But your history’s horrible. You need a history lesson.”

And I love this kind of mentoring. I practice this now. “No, that’s wrong. Go figure it out,” right? So I did.

And for me, as a Jew, and I recommend this to anybody who is speaking to Jews about Christ, what that meant to me is like this door swung open, and I thought, “Wait! Are you saying that I can be a Jew and be a Christian?” And Tim laughed. He’s got this southern drawl. He’s like, “I’m not just saying it. I’m saying that’s how it’s s’posed to be!” He’s like, “That’s just the deal. This is what God was all about was God made a promise to the Jewish people that He would send a Messiah, and He did, and this is just the answer to that promise.” He said, “You couldn’t any more not be a Jew than I couldn’t any more be a 6 foot 3 guy,” like, “I just am what I am. You are what you are. And we just have to deal with that.” And that was fascinating and profound to me because Jews believe, even if we’re not told this, that it would be a betrayal to our Jewish heritage to become a Christian. And it couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s actually a fulfillment of our heritage. And so for me that’s what made me say, “Okay, now I’ve got to really look at this. Because I’m not betraying anything. I’m fulfilling something. That’s how it was supposed to be. That’s how it was in the Bible. That’s how it was after Christ came and walked the earth. So I’ve got to take a serious look.”

That’s when I started studying Paul. Paul says, when he’s in Rome, waiting to visit Caesar, under house arrest, the Jews come to him, accuse him of not being Jewish, and he says, “What! I’m a Hebrew among Hebrews. I keep the Jewish law!” And they don’t believe him. They challenge him. “Oh, well, come to the Temple and pay for our ceremonies.” He’s like, “Yeah, whatever. No problem. I’m still Jewish. What’s wrong with you guys? Don’t you understand this has nothing to do with whether I’m Jewish or not? The promise has been fulfilled. The Lord has walked the earth, and that’s all I’m saying.” “The good news has arrived. The law has been fulfilled. You don’t have to worry about that stuff anymore.” And so, for me, I mean, you can see my excitement. That’s when it sang in my heart. That’s when I heard the song. That’s when I was like, “This is okay. I can do this,” and then sort of the anticlimax is there’s no moment.

I never had a moment where I thought, “Okay! Lord, I give my life. This is it! I can see You. I can hear You!” It was just one day I just thought, “I can’t not believe. It doesn’t make any sense not to. And now what I’m believing is so obviously untrue. Why do I believe that anymore?” And I just said, “Oh, I guess I’m a believer.” And then I said, “Okay, Lord. I’m a sinner. I don’t know if You’ll have me. I hope You’ll have me. I’ve sinned gravely against You for a very long time, but I give my life and my soul over to You, and I ask You to cleanse me of my sins. I’m Yours. I’m all Yours if You’ll have me.” But it was not dramatic. I was not on a beach. I was not on a mountaintop. It was just kind of this logical, “I guess I’m there. I guess this is what I believe now.”

Yeah. I’ve heard it said that believing in Jesus is one of the most Jewish things that you can do, because He is the Jewish, the foretold Jewish Messiah, so you’re accepting the fullness of your Judaism. You’re not changing paths in a sense, like cutting off one. It’s like fulfilling everything that… all the feasts, all the laws, everything is fulfilled in Christ, and to see it from the fullness of that perspective, I can’t imagine how that must feel when really all of the pieces came together for you, how wonderful that must have been. You came to a place where you believed in Jesus as your Savior, and I’m sure Patty was thrilled. So how has your life changed since you came to that moment of belief and confession? And how long ago was that? 

So I’m 59 years old. That happened when I was 51. So it’s 8 years ago. And it’s completely transformed my life, in many ways. The first is I would just say, on a personal level, aside from the religious or the faith aspect of it, I’m a very driven A-type of a person. Whatever I do, I’m going to do it to the max. I’m going to accomplish the most. That’s just the way I work. There’s an incredible amount of pressure in that, right? Everything’s on you. It’s all on my shoulders. I have to make everything happen. If it doesn’t happen, it’s my fault, and there’s all this self blame, and so to realize that I was saved and that there was something much greater than me and that I had a Lord and Savior and that I really wasn’t in control of anything except for whether I choose to accept my Lord and Savior and that there’s a greater plan and that everything together for the good and it’s not all on me. It’s impossible to describe the measure of relief.

Now I still struggle with that because I put myself in the driver’s seat when I shouldn’t. That’s how I’m wired, and I work in that. That’s me fighting against my flesh, but it’s impossible to describe the level of relief. So I went from being a very kind of wound person, wound up tight, to being pretty relaxed all the time. It’s pretty easy for me to say, “Yes, that frustrates me, but God’s got that. I don’t know. That’s not big for God. It may seem big to me, but that’s not big for God, and God’s got that, and I’ve turned it over to God, so it’s all okay,” and interestingly, it’s allowed me, I think, to accomplish far more than I could’ve ever accomplished. Because when I realized it’s not up to me and I can only do what I can do, my job is to fight the fight and run the race and leave the results up to God. It allows you to do so much more. The stress, the anguish, the anxiety, the performance pressure don’t get in your way anymore. Because it’s not on me. He’s got it. I don’t have to worry about it.

So it transformed me in that way. It transformed a lot of my relationships. I said I’ve always loved people, but I also have the part of me… I’m verbally strong. I’ve always been this way. I’m an opinionated person. I’m trained as a lawyer. I used to take great joy in eviscerating people in verbal combat. It felt really good to me. I would always feel afterwards terrible. In the dark of night, like myself, like, “That was pretty mean. I made that person feel really bad,” but in the moment, as a lawyer, you’re really trained to do that. I don’t do that anymore. I don’t enjoy that anymore. I don’t like that anymore. So it transformed me in that way. It explained to me why I love people so much.

My friend Tim said to me one time, after I became a Christian, he goes, “You know why you love people so much?” and I said, “No.” And he said, “Because you always looked in their eyes and you always saw God,” like, “Before you even knew God was there, before you even believed in God, that’s how you were connecting. Each one of those people made in the image of God. You got that in your heart before you got that in your head. That’s why you love people.” So now I recognize that on an outward basis, and I openly seek that a lot more.

And I would say the big one for me was that I wear my faith on my sleeve boldly. I’m proud, and not only am I not ashamed, the greatest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life is completely surrender to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. There’s nothing bigger that I’ve ever accomplished in my life. There can’t be anything bigger. There never will be anything bigger. And I’m happy to tell people about that.

So I say that from the stage, I say it in environments where people would normally say, “Well, you shouldn’t say that. This is a very political place,” or, “There are people who don’t believe what you believe.” I don’t care. I am boldly and brashly in love with God. I describe my love for God as like what you feel like when you fall in love the first time. It’s just so overwhelming, and everybody needs to know how awesome this person is! And I have to tell you. It’s not that I want to, it’s that I can’t contain myself. That’s how I feel about my relationship with the Lord. I can’t contain myself.

Wow! You are like Paul in so many ways, so many ways. That’s extraordinary! And coming to faith at 51. I imagine there were so many people, since you’re so well connected relationally, who were just stunned, having known you as the militant atheist that you were. 

Yeah. There were people who were mad at me and who really struggled with it. I have one brother, my younger brother. He was furious when it happened, and we were actually at a birthday party for my dad. I guess it would’ve been his 70th birthday party, something like that, 75th birthday party, and I remember him just cornering me and just going after me. Like, “I can’t believe you would do this!” and, “It’s just because of the people you’re hanging out with and just bad influences on you,” and, “You’re suspending rational judgment,” and he’s since come around, and we have a great relationship. I think he thought I was going to become something weird, you know? He had the perception I had, like all of a sudden I was going to demand that he be Christian, like I’m going to tell him he’s going to burn in hell, and I’m going to lecture him and judge him.

My dad was really offended. My dad was offended not because I became a Christian but because I didn’t consult him. Like why didn’t I ask him? He’d been my mentor my whole life. And I had to explain to Dad, “Hey, you’re my mentor. I admire you. I love you. I knew your position on this. I know you don’t believe in Jesus as your Savior. I know you don’t believe in God even generically, so I knew your position very thoroughly. I grew up with it. Why would I consult you if I’m seeking something broader and more?” And we have a fantastic relationship. We’re very close, both my parents, and we have a tight family. And so it hasn’t hurt any relationships in the long term, but in the short term, I think you described it correctly. It really threw some people off balance because it’s just not something they saw in me, becoming a Christian.

So when you were growing up and considering religion, you saw it in purely sociological terms. Your brother kind of brought that out, that he thought that maybe it’s just the people you are hanging around with. How would you, as a Christian on this side of things, answer that question? How did you answer your brother? Is it more than just belonging or sociological? Obviously, this has transformed your life, but as an intellectual person and people were pushing back, thinking they’re smarter, like you were, how would you respond to someone who pushes back to you on that? 

You know, I’m very understanding and very loving because, how could I not be. It would be the height of hypocrisy not for me to be loving and understanding of their circumstances, since for the vast majority of my adult life I believed what they believed, either agnostically or atheistically. So when I hear people are super critical of people like that, I don’t feel that way. I don’t understand that way. For me, the emotion that I feel, honestly, is sadness. It breaks my heart because… I have a friend that I’m talking to and mentoring right now. He’s Jewish, and I think he’s coming to the Lord. He’s definitely moving that way. He’s going to church. He feels an affinity. And he asked me, “Why is this so important to you?” and my response was, “I love you, and there’s no greater gift that I could give you as somebody that I love than the gift of knowing Jesus Christ, the salvation, the peace that comes from that, the strength that comes from that. There’s no worldly gift that even measures that can compare. There’s nothing on the same shelf. And so that’s what I want for you.”

And so when I’m talking to people who push back, that’s what I would say is, “Look, I have no judgment for you for not believing this. I didn’t believe this most of my life, so it would be foolish and hypocritical for me to judge you, but I do believe that I’ve learned something that you have not yet learned, and it would be selfish of me not to tell you that.” Like, “Why would I keep this most incredible gift I’ve ever received in my life? If I said, ‘I’m just going to keep that from you,’ that’s selfish. And am I going to keep it from you because I’m embarrassed what you might think of me? That’s selfish. Because you might judge me? Well, that’s selfish. So the only reason I would not tell you about this is because I’m selfish. If I’m embarrassed to tell you, I’m selfish. I’m worried how you’ll judge me. So I’m going to talk to you about it. And if you don’t want to hear about it, I’m fine with that, too. I still love you. I love you exactly the same as if you wanted to hear about it.

For those who don’t know what the gospel is, could you just briefly describe what this gift is? 

Yeah. I mean, for me, the way I define the gospel or the gift is the good news that it’s not about you. You don’t have to fight. You don’t have to be at war. You have somebody that already died for you and went through this for you. It’s an incredible thing to think about… I’m not sure. A lot of the Christians that I know that have been Christians their whole lives, in some ways I feel like they don’t understand the enormity of it because they didn’t disbelieve. When you disbelieve your whole life and then you learn the good news that Somebody actually was willing to go to the cross for you, to take your sin, to take everything you’ve ever done wrong in your life and everything you ever will do wrong in your life, and to suffer the most horrible imaginable death to cleanse you of your sin, so you don’t have to worry about that stuff anymore. You don’t have to stress out about that stuff any more. To me, that’s the greatest news that has ever been delivered to humanity. And that’s what the gospel is about, and so, to me, I just want people to know about that.

And I don’t care. You can think I’m foolish. You can think I believe a fairy tale. You can think whatever you want to think about it. I’m not embarrassed by that. I thought the same stuff! So it’s all fine, and thank God that when I thought that stuff, that there were people who didn’t care that I thought that stuff, who didn’t judge me for thinking that stuff, who loved me, who prayed for me.

So if there is someone, Mark, who is listening and maybe they’re on that edge of being open, what would you say to the curious skeptic who maybe listening in to you, to your story? 

Yeah. I would say the main thing, the first thing is just to open your heart. I’m not telling you to believe. I don’t think anybody can tell you to believe. I’m telling you to open your heart, to look around the world and acknowledge there are things that you just don’t understand, that don’t make sense, the universe, life, whatever it is that you look out, and you go, “That just seems impossible to me,” and yet it happens, to understand that there are things that are impossible that happen, things that you and I don’t understand, and be curious and be open to looking.

For me, as a person who’s a very logical person, reading apologetics mattered a lot to me, so I would recommend the best book that I read, the simplest, the easiest to read, the most convincing was Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ. Millions of people have read this book. If you’re a skeptic, you should read this book. Strobel was the ultimate skeptic, a lawyer, an investigative journalist. He went through it. I looked through this. I looked at the crucifixion. I looked at the resurrection. I looked at the historical evidence, what we call historicity of the Bible. And Strobel walks you through this in a way where he was telling a story of a person who moves from atheism to belief, and so I think that’s really important. There’s another book that I love called Letters from a Skeptic, which is letters between a son who is actually a minister, he’s gone through seminary, and a father who is a skeptic and who expresses everything that I expressed as a skeptic, everything.

There’s difficult questions that you have to grapple with. If God is good and just, then why is there suffering and evil on the earth. These are important questions that, as a skeptic, you should grapple with, but I would argue you should grapple with them. Just dismissing them and saying, “That means there’s no God,” that’s shallow and superficial. And this is the most important question you’ll ever look at. Is there a God? What’s my purpose? Am I created? Why am I here? Why are we here? So I would say, if those are the most important questions we can ask ourselves, and I believe fundamentally they are, then you as a thinking person have an obligation to answer those questions, and you do that by doing the reading, doing the research, talking to other people, and I would ultimately say praying for guidance.

That’s excellent advice. It strikes me that your life is very similar to Lee Strobel’s too, isn’t it? He was an attorney-

Absolutely.

… who had a believing wife, and he went to disprove it, right? So, through his journeying, found what he…. He’s a huge proponent, right? Of Christianity now. Now you’ve spoken a lot about how we as Christians can—and given beautiful examples, through Tim and through Patty and those… Dr. Dobson and so many who touched you in a way that caused you to rethink your position. How would you encourage us as Christians to live or to speak or to engage in those who are skeptical about our faith? 

Yeah. The biggest answer that I can give that’s the best, I think, is love. I mean I don’t know what else to say. Love people who are not lovable. Love people who are hard. Love people who are mean. Love people who are difficult in your life. When we read the Bible, one of the things that struck me, and I had somebody point this out to me, is the Bible does not tell us to go out and tell people to be Christians. I think there’s one spot in the Bible where it says to go out in profess in that way. What the Bible tells us is to go out and live out our faith, to walk the walk, to be Christians. Because when you do that, people will ask you, just like I looked at Dr. Dobson and that, “What is that? I don’t understand that. I want that.” People will do that.

Her daughter suffered from stage 4 cancer multiple times. She’s a beautiful young woman, a mother of now teenage girls, and last time, she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer… Jenny’s a close friend of mine. I’ve watched her go through it. She’s a woman of deep faith. And I watched her go through it, and I thought, “Could I be like her? I don’t know that I could.” This was before I came to faith. She understood. She said, “Look, Mark, this is God’s path. It doesn’t make me happy, but I’m at peace that He is in charge, and I can live with that. I’ll pray more. I’ll hang out with the Lord more. But God has a plan. It’s just not always my plan.” And I remember looking at that and thinking, “She’s living it,” right? So it’s not just that she says, “I’m a Christian. I go to church. You should do these things.” I watched her, and I thought, “Man, if that kind of thing ever happened in my life, I would want the peace that she has.

So you said, “You never know when people are just watching.” You’re not saying, they’re just watching, so live the life that Christ sets forth for us to the extent we can. Of course, none of us live it perfectly, but live it as close as you can. Strive to live that. That’s what will draw other people to the heart of Jesus Christ.

That’s beautiful. Mark, you have been—like you say, you have a gift verbally of being able to express yourself and to communicate well, and you have told your story, your full character arc, moving from militant atheism to just a passionate follower of Christ in such a compelling way, with wisdom. I think that somehow what you saw in Patty, you have a piece in you, too, now, that the Lord lives in you, and it’s obvious. I’m so inspired and challenged in a good way, especially with your boldness in your faith. Thank you so much for coming on the Side B Podcast to tell your story, Mark. I know that so many people are going to be just as inspired as I’ve been. 

Well, thank you for having me. Any time I get to talk about the Lord, it’s a privilege.

Wonderful. 

Thanks for tuning in to the Side B Podcast to hear Mark’s story today. You can find out more about him and some of his recommended resources in the episode notes. For questions and feedback about this episode, please reach me by email at thesidebpodcast@cslewisinstitute.org. I hope you enjoyed it. If so, that you’ll 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 be seeing how another skeptic flips the record of their life. 

 

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