Monday, September 8, 2008

Baptism - Aug 31, 2008

Thank you Lucas Chasteen for the great job on the video! I don't like to watch it, but perhaps God will use it to point to Christ. It's a little long ... notice Pastor Mike at times appears "painted on" to the baptistery...

Here are the notes I tucked in my Bible for the testimony.

My name is Mike Bonham and I’m here because Jesus is LORD and He is my Savior!

I made a profession of faith in Jesus at four or five. So I grew up convinced I was a Christian. Outwardly I had it all together (for the most part), but still there was a pattern of sin that I couldn’t reconcile with what I believed. Certainly there were times of zeal and excitement when emotions seem to be there, but I couldn’t gain victory over certain sins and I didn’t appear to be growing or bearing any fruit.

Around the year 2000, when the world was breathing a collective sigh of relief that we’re still here, in many ways my world was coming to an end. I began to pursue fulfillment. My secret life of sin began to bubble up to the surface. Sin led to sin and was compounded with even greater sins. I stopped going to church and threw off Christianity, proudly asserting I would no longer be a hypocrite. I began to read Atheistic philosophers like Camus and Nietzsche (who was famous for declaring the death of God). Like those Paul described in Romans 1, I suppressed the truth I knew about God. I denied Him so I could live how I wanted. But without God, if there is no God, Everything is permitted.

Eph 2 and Titus 3 describe where I was at spiritually.
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Eph 2:1-4)

3For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. (Titus 3:3)
My sin came at an enormous price. My reckless spiral almost cost me my family and ultimately would have cost me my own life. Because I was quickly seeing the emptiness and meaninglessness of living for my self and for my own pleasure.

Many were praying for me, though. It was these prayers that kept our family together. Looking back it’s clear how God was at work in my life.

The whole world remembers where they were on September 11th, 2003. I came home that day with new priorities. I didn’t seek the Lord, but I did start going to church with my family; church at Countryside. So God used this tragedy as a wake up call for me like he did for many people.

In the summer of 2006, around the time of the missionary conference, I remember Pastor Mike was preaching. I don’t remember the main text but he was preaching that genuine Christians are not on the sidelines. If you are a Christian you’ll be up out of your seat and actively following Christ. So as he prayed the closing prayer, I silently committed my life to Christ.

It wasn’t until later that I could be alone with God and read through Psalm 51.

I prayed many of these verses from my heart.
1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.

7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
Through a flood of tears I poured out my heart to God in true repentance and brokenness. I was made to see the gravity and weight of my sin and the IMPOSSIBILITY of doing anything that could please God in my own strength.

Before, I always tried my best to live like a Christian on my terms. For the first time I was willing to take up my cross and follow him. I had assented intellectually to the facts of the Gospel. I had even had times of being emotionally persuaded. But this was the first time that my WILL was involved and I actively committed my life to Christ knowing that I would obey whatever He wanted from me!

Going back to Eph and Titus. The most powerful word in the Bible, the most magnificent transitional word is “BUT”.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— (Eph 2:5)

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, (Titus 3:4-5)

“But God”. Not “But I (did this or that) … BUT GOD! Spiritually, I was …
  • dead – But God gave me eternal life
  • blind – But God opened my eyes to His truth
  • lost – But God sought out this lost sheep
  • a slave to sin – But God bought my freedom
  • God’s enemy – But God adopted me into His family
  • destitute/poor – But I now have an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for me
  • naked – But God clothed me in the righteousness of Christ.
Let me tell you briefly the Good News that changed my life.

God is holy – It all starts with God. I picture God like he was described in Isaiah’s vision in Isaiah chapter 6. Something like the Lincoln memorial. He is on his throne, high and lifted up. The train of his robe fills the whole temple. The angels are saying, “holy, holy, holy.”

Man is sinful. While man is made in God’s image to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, He has turned to sin. Romans 3:23 says all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. No one, no not one, is righteous (Romans 3:10).

Jesus Christ is the solution. He lived a perfect life that we could never live. He bore the sins of everyone who would believe in Him while on the cross.

Our response is to repent and believe in Christ (Mk 1:15).

What if I’m already a Christian? I encourage you to do what Paul says in 2 Cor 13:5, “examine yourselves to see if you’re in the faith”. Read 1 John as a way to test your heart compared to what God requires.

In 1 Peter we read that angels long to look into this Gospel. They lust over it. They obsess to know it! I want to spend my life learning more and more about this great Gospel!

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About Me

Here is my testimony: mike