Monday, February 22, 2010

How we got here - Part 1

“What brings you to Parkville, MO?” someone might ask the Bonhams. Or if you knew us a year ago, that question might be followed by, “What happened?” Or as one friend asked, “So, what is the plan?” To answer those very fair questions I first need to answer what brought us out of Spring Hill, KS, where we had lived for six years? The short answer to both is: GOD. But if you know me, I never give the short answer, so instead I will offer a series of four posts this week.

Why we sold our house in Spring Hill

Allow me to back up and provide some background on what led us to sell our house. I grew up in church for the most part, thanks to my upbringing. I always considered myself a Christian, so I didn’t party or drink or smoke or do drugs. But on the inside I was wicked. I had never come face to face with the holiness of God and the utter sinfulness of my own life, … until the summer of 2006. It was years before that though, around 2001, when my secret sin had begun to bubble up to the surface as I became recklessly bent on pursuing one thing: my own sinful lifestyle. I would have destroyed my own family and my very life by suicide, if God had not miraculously supported my wife during this time and controlled my circumstances.

In a powerful way, the tragedy of 9/11 impacted me so profoundly that I returned to my self-righteous ways and rejoined my family in church at Countryside. Ultimately God would use the preaching there to bring about true repentance and conversion. In the summer of 2006, after living an outwardly clean ‘Christian’ life for thirty years, the Lord brought about that new life (2 Cor 5:17) spoken of in Scripture. As I listened to Pastor Mike preach about what Christ demands of His disciples and how true believers will get off the sidelines and follow Him; the Lord gave me a new heart (replacing the heart of stone, Ezek 36:26), genuine repentance, and faith to trust in Christ for my salvation and for new life. He had already absorbed the wrath of God that I deserved for my sin, and imputed to me the righteousness that I desperately need to be right with God. For more on my testimony, read my profile.

In gratitude and zeal, I instantly sought to do whatever I could to die to self and give my new life to Christ. I instantly wanted to be a missionary (still do in fact), perhaps in Poland or India or wherever. I was so excited to hear and read John Piper talk about missions especially his biographical sermon about Adoniram Judson that I wrote about here. So I began to pursue that and to talk to godly men who could help us get there, our pastors at Countryside and others.

Enter Jim Elliff. I first heard about Jim through a friend at work, who attends Christ Fellowship and has Jim as pastor. My friend and I had the opportunity for Jim to come and speak to our Bible Study Group at work, and Jim was gracious to meet with me and even came to the Bonhams for dinner. I was not making fast enough progress with my plan to become a missionary and thought perhaps Jim would be able to help. So I shared my heart for missions expecting to hear some great counsel on what I should do next.

I was not prepared for what followed. As usual, Jim got right to the point. He began asking very personal questions about finances and debt in particular. I remember being asked to find a piece of paper, and totaled up the debt that we owed to various parties, credit cards, vehicle debt, school debt, etc. This was very uncomfortable and humbling. Then he said this, “The most godly thing you can do at this point is to get out of debt.” I will never forget that. Ironically, my own pastor had given similar counsel, but since I’m so dense I needed to hear this twice.

Days later, my wife and I were on our face in broken repentance over our irresponsible stewardship of the money God has entrusted us with. We cried out to God because while we desired to be out of debt, and had even taken steps to reduce it, we knew there was no way we could do this without some miraculous intervention on God’s part. Without stealing my own thunder, it is a delight to be able to see God’s mighty hand act on our behalf during these last few years. Our family verse has become Psalm 37:5 “Trust in the Lord. Commit your way to Him. And He will act.” He strengthened our faith in Him and gave us repentance so that we were re-energized to tackle our problem with a seriousness we had not known before. We would trust in Him and commit our finances to Him, and let God act on our behalf. And He did just that. Again and again!

More to come tomorrow.

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Here is my testimony: mike