Redeeming Love: The Promise of a Change
About the Guest
Sometimes God has to empty you before He can fill you up with Himself. Today Matt and Megan Magill remember their early years of marriage when Matt’s addiction to drugs and porn threatened to tear their marriage apart. Matt tells how he began to see that the remedy for his problems was found in Jesus Christ and that the musical talent that he had used to garner praise for himself was really meant to be used for God.
Sometimes God has to empty you before He can fill you up with Himself.
Redeeming Love: The Promise of a Change
Matt: This little church that we started going to I was instantly drawn to the music style. I went up and I said I play guitar. He said, “Well, you should come play with us.” I’m broken.
Megan: He started playing with this worship band and he had to be at church really early.
Matt: We were doing rehearsal on Wednesday night so I wasn’t getting high anymore. On Sundays or Saturday nights. I know it seems like wow, you were actually still sort of addicted and playing in a worship band. This is what happened. They said, “you can’t do that and be here doing this.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, August 12, 2009. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I am Bob Lepine. We’ll hear today how the tug of war between smoking dope and worshipping God ultimately resolved itself in Matt Magill’s life.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today! Thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition!
Before we get into today’s program let me remind our regular listeners today, tomorrow and Friday this is the last opportunity you have to register for an upcoming FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference and if you register at the regular rate as a couple we are going to send you a certificate for another couple to attend as your guests absolutely free. It’s a buy-one-get-one free opportunity for the Weekend to Remember and the offer is good for FamilyLife Today listeners. It’s good through the end of this week and then it expires.
We encourage you to go online at FamilyLife Today.com and register online or call toll free at 1-800-FL-TODAY. You have to identify yourself as a FamilyLife Today listener so if you’re registering online when you come to the promo code box on the registration form type in my name “Bob” and they will know that you are a FamilyLife Today listener. Or call and register over the phone. 1-800-FL_TODAY is the number and mention that you listen to FamilyLife Today or say “Bob” sent me.
Again, when you and your spouse register at the regular rate we will send you a certificate for a second couple to attend as your guests or in another city. However you want to work that out but you pay for one registration and a second registration is absolutely free. As long as we hear from you before the end of the week and you mention that you are a FamilyLife Today listener.
This really is a fun, romantic getaway for couples but you are also going to get the tools you need for strengthening a marriage relationship. Couples leave the conference with a sense of hope and some practical help.
I know when you have couples come to you and they describe a situation that is a difficult situation like the one we’ve been hearing about this week you always have a sense that there is hope for that marriage, right?
Dennis: Yes, especially if you have two people who begin their marriage and this sounds kind of harsh but they admitted it earlier both very full of themselves. Both entertainers who were used to the spotlight and if you think about a recipe for disaster in a marriage relationship two people who both want the spotlight who are trying to get it without Jesus Christ being the center of their marriage it’s not going to happen. Matt and Megan Magill join us again on FamilyLife Today. Matt and Megan, welcome back.
Matt: Great to be here.
Megan: Good to be here.
Dennis: Thanks for sharing your story here with our listeners because undoubtedly there are listeners who have identified, Megan, with your desire to see your husband’s spiritual lights come on.
Dennis: But he resisted over and over again. Finally as Bob described this downward spiral you gave him an ultimatum.
Megan: I did. I don’t know if that is fantastic advice but that’s the place where I was at. I was a little bit desperate in that. It was like, “Okay, Honey, you are going to go to church with me or I don’t even know what.” I don’t even want to venture to say but we’re going to church. Not that going to the church building is the end all be all but I knew that was going to be a good starting place.
Dennis: Had he done something that caused the ultimatum? Was there some kind of act of anger or was it just the combination of drugs, pornography, discouragement, and depression?
Megan: It was the combination and it was the time line. Everyone says oh that first year of marriage is so difficult so you can kind of justify the first year but not we are in year two…
Matt: It’s just more of the same.
Megan: And gaining on year three and nothing is really changing. There are good times don’t get me wrong but by and large there is just a lot of fighting, a lot of tears, frustration and disappointment. So he went to church with me.
Bob: Do you remember getting the ultimatum?
Dennis: That didn’t sound like an ultimatum to me.
Matt: I wanted her to be happy. I wanted to do right by her. That’s not the same thing as wanting to serve Christ in your marriage.
Bob: You just wanted some peace and quiet around the house?
Matt: Exactly. So I went to church but can I tell you that I was at a place of such discouragement and when I went to that church that very first Sunday this preacher was preaching on God’s design for human sexuality.
It brought me full circle and it was like the missing pieces of the puzzle just connected everything. I understood how I had twisted intimacy since my earliest days of fully understanding the desires that were in my heart for intimacy from pornography to broken relationships because it was all about me.
I started to understand right away that evil had resided within me for years and had spread destruction everywhere I went. That didn’t mean I didn’t have good times and it didn’t mean I didn’t have some sort of nominal friends that I had good times partying with but in the end I didn’t have a purpose. I was not being used.
Dennis: It sounds like a pretty simple pronouncement but your track record was one where you didn’t believe in any absolutes.
Matt: That’s right. I did not believe evil existed. I believed the devil was like the Easter bunny. That’s the greatest trick he ever played, right?
Dennis: So for you to come to this conclusion that evil number one exists and number two it exists in you, that’s huge.
Bob: Yes, we have two special sessions that are a part of the Weekend to Remember. Actually the conference began as a conference for engaged couples, right?
Matt: I needed a power to rescue me from it.
Dennis: You speak of ultimately coming to faith in Christ and you call this time of recognition of evil in your life as the sting.
Matt: I’ll tell you what the sting is. It’s the sting of conviction leading to the sweetness or the honey of God’s grace. We ended up calling the second album The Sting and the Honey but for me the sting of conviction was recognizing that I was powerless over my addictions.
Bob: Were your addictions more than just marijuana and porn at this point?
Matt: Food. I was just selfish.
Megan: You used to say you were addicted to yourself.
Matt: I was addicted to myself and my own pleasure whatever form that might take. That’s where I was at. At this point I was starting to understand I see the remedy. The remedy is a changed life. How do I get it? I want a happy marriage and a blessed marriage. Here I am in this church where we are around all these wonderfully joyful couples. For the first time in our married life we are starting to spend time with a community that loves us.
Megan: We were being really candid with them. Maybe for the first time in our lives we were finally getting really honest with people about where we were at. It was just exactly what we needed at that time. In fact, you started singing at church.
Matt: Yes, I was instantly drawn to the music style of this little church that we started going to. I went up and said I played guitar and he said, “You should come play with us.” I thought I’m not worthy and this is sort of the cultural understanding that I’ve got to get right.
Bob: I’m not holy enough.
Matt: I’m not holy enough to participate in worship but the reality was he said come on in and we’ll start you off in the back playing guitar. For the first time now my gifts were actually being utilized to God’s glory.
Bob: Megan, were you seeing the change in your husband?
Megan: Oh, praise God, yes. I was but I was trying not to get too excited. I was trying to just support what God was doing in his life because I think for so many years I had gotten in the way. I was really trying to play the role of Holy Spirit so I just stood back and watched God work. I continued to pray for him and encourage him. He started playing with this worship band so he had to be at church really early and he was hearing two sermons. We didn’t get home until late in the afternoon.
Matt: We were doing a rehearsal on Wednesday nights. I wasn’t getting high any more on Wednesday or Saturday nights or Sunday. I know it seems like wow you were actually still addicted and playing in a worship band but the thing about it is they started to ask me to be involved but they said you can’t do that and be here doing this. The body just started to come around and just enveloped me in such a way that I was changed from the inside out.
Dennis: I appreciate the honesty. You know we are all addicted. We are all addicted to self. I like your statement there. Life is one long process of God trying to wean us from our addiction to ourselves. Yet you described yourself earlier as pretty arrogant person. Was there a point in time when a self proclaimed arrogant musician fully surrendered to Jesus Christ? Or was that just a slow step away from the lifestyle and a slow surrender to Christ?
Matt: Both and. I was not a victorious arrogant man by this point because this is two hard years of being broken in New York City by life and by my own consequences to my actions. I was no longer arrogant but I was still prideful.
In New York City you get to see lots of movie premieres and “The Passion” came out and released in New York City. We got to go with our church for an advanced screening. There were probably 250 people in this movie theater on the west side and Megan was sitting on my right and my worship leader and good friend, Todd, was sitting on my left. We watched the entire thing and by the end I was so crushed by the goodness of God. I was so utterly aware of my own depravity that I was broken down and in tears for 20 minutes. The theater was completely empty and I gave my life to Christ.
Bob: You talk about coming to the realization of the reality of evil in the world and evil in your own heart as you began to reflect on your life and your heritage growing up you could see the seeds of evil that went back generations couldn’t you?
Matt: Yes. I think evil was manifest most obviously in pride and self reliance. I grew up with a very moral understanding of right and wrong but you can do it under your own power. You know right from wrong so do right from wrong but not the sort of day by day, minute by minute reliance upon the Holy Spirit to do in you and through you what you are powerless to do in your flesh.
Dennis: You felt like there was a grandfather that gave you a heritage of this self reliance?
Matt: Well, after giving my life to Christ I went back home to Oklahoma with all kinds of fire. I wanted my whole family to know Christ and they are saying wait a minute we’ve always been Christians. I’m saying well okay. What I know is I’m not blaming it on you all I know is I believed I was a Christian and let me tell you where I got.
I’ve heard Tim Keller in New York City say fruit doesn’t save you. No one has ever been saved by fruitless faith. I had a fruitless faith. In going back and talking with my family my grandfather told me a story.
He said when he was young he had some brothers and they were living on a farm in southeastern Oklahoma and they were getting their hair cut one day. They were really acting up and didn’t want to be there. Their father, my great grandfather, got mad and threw them in the back of the truck and started driving. He drove to a precipice that overlooked some deep water and in frustration and anger he said, today you are going to learn how to swim and he threw them in.
Matt: My grandfather told me that story with a sense of pride because he did learn how to swim. He’s a very successful man and has a legacy of success in the family and pride in the work of his hands. But he has loved people including his family with a sink or swim kind of love. That kind of love is the antithesis of gospel love. I’ve seen the effects of that in my family.
Bob: And in your own life.
Matt: And in my own life. I wrote this song.
“My grandpa’s father taught them how to swim by throwing them in the water. It was a sink or swim love that he passed down to his daughter. Everything that he brought her had strings attached. Who could blame her when her love matched his to a “T” All his hand me down sins kept him sifting through the bargain bins for a second hand life that was never really his.”
“And my wife’s mother still can’t believe how her father used to treat her mother. Never around when a girl could use some cover. Always out with a lover while they were all alone. Chewing on the bones of a life he wouldn’t give them. Because all his hand me down sins kept him sifting through the bargain bins for a second hand life that was never really his.
“All his hand me down sins kept him running from his wife and kids doing the same thing that his daddy always did. You never heard him say, ‘don’t follow me.’ You never heard him say, ‘Son I’m just a man.’ You never heard him say, ‘I’m doing the best I can. Don’t follow me son. Follow the great I am.’
“Tonight I’m praying that the son that I haven’t had will hear the words I’m saying when I tell him that his old man is surely going to kick the can. And leave behind a life he wasn’t always proud of. So he should follow three in one the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit will always guide him home.
“Maybe hand me down grace will help him always to turn his face to the Son of God who can warm him when he’s cold. And maybe hand me down grace will help him always to know his place in the kingdom come and which way to run and finally which way to point his own son.”
Dennis: We have heard a compelling story this week from Matt and Megan Magill. I want to thank you both for being so transparent and allowing folks to peer into your lives. I think a lot of folks have received hope because you received hope and you shared that with them.
Matt, you did receive Christ and now both of you together are following Him and God has given you something special as a couple both in your marriage and also your ministry.
Matt: That’s right. I think ours is a picture of individual gifts laid down for the collective good of our family and our marriage. The craziest thing is as we laid them down He has brought us together to experience His glory in the surrendering of our gifts to Him for His glory. The first CD we did was called “Song by Song.”
I think it was John Piper who said when I’m preaching and my preaching is not ministering to me it’s no good. God is teaching me about who He is song by song. As I release my gifts to Him He gives me songs to write. That’s where we are today Megan and I. I continue to write songs and Megan and I are traveling around the country now and sharing our music and weaving testimony in between the songs. It continues to minister to us and we pray to other couples, families, and singles.
Bob: Most couples aren’t going to have the kind of opportunity you have on a platform to be able to share their story. But I’m thinking of the number of couples we know who have been in difficult situations in their marriage like you have described and there is great power as you connect with other couples. As you are transparent and share of God’s redeeming work in your marriage God uses that in your own life and He uses that to provide hope and help to couples who get to hear you share your story.
I think of couples who speak for us at our Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences who pull back the curtain and say look here is what has happened in our marriages and they can not only share what the Bible teaches about how to build a strong marriage but they can also talk about how God has worked in their own life and marriage to strengthen their relationship with one another.
That’s one of the reasons we encourage couples to get and attend a Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference. Right now when you register for an upcoming conference at the regular rate we’re sending you a certificate for a second couple to attend absolutely free. It’s a buy one – get one free opportunity and it’s good this week only—today, tomorrow, Friday and into the weekend and then it is over.
Register online or by phone. The web site is FamilyLife Today.com. The telephone number is 1-800-FL-TODAY. You have to identify yourself as a FamilyLife Today listener. So if you’re registering online when it comes to the promo code box on the registration form just type in “Bob” and we’ll know that you are a FamilyLife Today listener. Again, when you register at the regular price we’ll send you a certificate for a second registration absolutely free.
Or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY and register over the phone. Mention that you listen to “FamilyLife Today” or say “Bob, sent me.” Again you’ll get registered for you and your spouse to attend and then you can bring another couple along with you. Or you can send the certificate to someone who lives in a different city and they can attend. You can send it to your daughter and son in law or your son and daughter in law or to your parents, relative or friend. You have an opportunity to attend as a couple and to send another couple to the conference at no additional cost.
So go online at FamilyLife Today.com or call 1-800-FL-TODAY and register for an upcoming Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference. Be sure to do it before the end of the weekend and let us know that you are a FamilyLife Today listener so you can take full advantage of this special offer.
Let me also encourage you when you go to our web site FamilyLife Today.com we have information there about the CDs that Matt and Megan Magill have recorded. You can hear some samples of their songs and you can order a copy of the CD from us as well. If you’d like to find out more about their ministry we have a link to their web site as well.
Now tomorrow, we’re going to introduce you to a couple who attend a FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference many years ago. They will tell you about how it was a turning point in their marriage relationship. I hope you can come back tomorrow to meet Paul and Tina Meek.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.
On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I am Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another addition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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