Thursday, March 15, 2007

Who I am

Since you probably have no idea who Josh Wood is, I thought it would be good to start out with an introduction of sorts. Here is a link to my testimony, which I gave during a Sunday School class in the summer of 2006...for those of you who don't want to listen to it, I'll post the transcripts below:

Testimony of Josh Wood

I have been saved for 5 years now, although, if you had asked me six years ago, I would have told you then that I was saved. So, let me take my time this morning to share with you what I have learned through what the Lord has done in my life with three main themes throughout: 1) That God still performs miracles, 2) That God can and will save anyone that He chooses, and 3) That sometimes He chooses the most unlikely sinners to share in Christ’s inheritance. I would also like to carry with us throughout this hour two verses that hit home as I think through my life, and they are : Philippians 2:12, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, and 2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, brothers…be diligent to make your calling and election sure. So, let me start from the beginning.

I was born on January 25, 1979. It was in the middle of a very bad snow storm. My mom went into labor on Tuesday evening and told my dad, “Jim, it’s time to go”. Where upon my dad gathered the bags and headed out the door. An hour or two later, as the story goes, my mom poked her head out the door to see what was taking him so long to come and get her, and found him shoveling the driveway. They did make it to the hospital, and the next morning at 7:29, I was warmly welcomed into the world. I was raised in Grand Rapids in a very Baptist home. Most of the churches we attended were Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Churches; they were very legalistic and were not ashamed to use the rod. My parents have, for as long as I can remember, been devoted Christians. My father was always a deacon or elder in every church that we attended. He had a servant’s heart and was always involved. My mother as well was always teaching women’s bible studies, helping in the office, and they were both always in the choir. They have also planted several churches in West Michigan. Through all of this, you can see that I literally grew up in the church. We were there 3-4 days a week, always the first ones there, and always the last to leave. So, where did I go so wrong?

In December of 1983, we had had an evangelist visiting our church. As such, my mom and I had had some talks about Heaven and Hell. As a matter of fact, I had been having some quite terrible nightmares. I can still remember a few of them like they were yesterday. One in particular where I was certain that Satan had stopped doing everything else in the world just to attack me and bring me to Hell. And so she asked me one day if I knew that I was going to Heaven. I said yes, and she asked me why I knew that. I said because my brother and sister and mom and dad were going. So, she walked me through the “Roman’s Road”. Are any of you familiar with this? When I was a boy, this was an often-used tool in the Baptist church. I don’t know if it still is, but it was back then. It goes as follows:

Rom 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Rom 6:23 for the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Rom 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Rom 10:13 for "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

And this is how the gospel message was presented to me. And we sat on the stairway of our house, and I prayed the sinners prayer, and I was deceived for the next 18 years of my life. I prayed daily, I read my bible, memorized scripture, I even told other kids about Jesus on the playground.

When I was near the age of eleven, I was baptized in a church we had been visiting here in Holland. Let me tell you exactly how this was approached. We were visiting the church for a week or two, the pastor came up to me and said, “What’s your name, son…well Josh, are you saved…have you been baptized? How about we baptize you next Sunday night?” And I said okay, and I was baptized the following Sunday night. And that was the last “spiritual” activity I can recall before my “dark ages…”


When I was 12, we moved to Hudsonville, to be closer to a church my parents were planning to settle down in for a while. I’m not real sure why, but for some reason, this really bothered me. To me, and I know many farmers would disagree, but to me, spending most of my years in places like Wyoming and Kentwood, Hudsonville was the sticks. We didn’t live there 6 months before I fell in with the wrong crowd and started smoking. Within the first year I had had my first drink, which I didn’t like, and I tried drugs for the first time, which I also didn’t like. But, regardless of my likes and dislikes, I was more concerned with keeping my friends, so I continued to smoke cigarettes and marijuana. Unfortunately, I grew to love them both.

When I was 15 I started working at KFC and met some of the worst influences my life had ever seen. There was a 3-year span of my 5-year career at KFC where I got drunk and did drugs every single day, without exception. Holidays, Sundays, everyday. I ditched my family and church and lived for the next high! I didn’t attend a family get together once during this time. Many friends and family members tried to reach me, but I wouldn’t have it. I hated them all and loved nothing and no one except my drugs.

I shook my fist at God and said, “You’re not in charge here! I’ll make my own destiny, life is short, I’ll live hard! I know what’s best for me.” Does this remind you of a verse?

Jdg 17:6 in those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

Yet, through all this, I still prayed everyday.

I met my wife at KFC and almost immediately brought her down to my level. I got her hooked on drugs and we lived the party life. Before we were married, I had tried every drug that I could get my hands on, was an alcoholic, addicted to cigarettes, tampered with witchcraft, brought my GPA from a 4.0 to a 0.6 in less than 4 years (I had actually skipped the 8th grade), and had completely turned my back on God.

When we were wed, we were 3 months pregnant. I say we so as to assure you that I was as guilty of the fornication as she was, if not more so being the man. So, we were married and living in our own house. We were both working 3rd shift and taking turns sleeping and taking care of our son, still smoking cigarettes and doing drugs daily, and drinking every weekend. There were times when we tried to change, we tried to clean up our act. Jody was raised CRC, so I had joined their church shortly after we were married. And we had Tommy baptized there when he was born. And every few months we would try to get straight, but it would never take. I can remember a few times when we would ban drugs from the house, “We’re through with this”, you know? And then I would start sneaking it in, doing it while she was asleep, and eventually we would catch each other and find out the other was doing the same thing. And the cycle would start all over again. Over the course of the next two years, we both committed adultery and after our two-year anniversary, we filed for divorce.

I didn’t want a divorce, but I grew to enjoy the freedom. I lived a bachelor’s life for the next 5 months or so. I was unemployed most of the time. I had tried my hand at a business venture with a friend and although it went well, we ended up going under due to several unfortunate events. I had a brand new Mustang, kind of a mid-life crisis at the age of 22. I was still a drug addict. I was racking up the credit card debt at bars and restaurants. It was a real mess, although I didn’t see it.

Yet, something started gnawing at Jody. It was a bitter divorce. I had had her thrown in jail for domestic violence (more my fault than hers- I antagonized her to that end). And that was at the beginning of the process, and since then, we could not even look at each other without seething. One thing that I thank God for, and there are many, is the process in Michigan for divorces. In the State of Michigan, if you file for divorce, and there is a minor child involved, you have to wait a minimum of 6 months to finalize the divorce. Oh, how we hated that, we wanted it to be over with, “What’s going to change?” “We hate each other more every day!” Now, 1 month before we finalized the divorce, she decided, for our son’s sake, that we should go to counseling to be “friends”. I was against going just to be “friends”. I wanted all or nothing! But, I didn’t tell her that and I agreed to go. For some reason, at this time, something started gnawing at me, too. I really wanted her back all the sudden. So my sister’s husband set up a meeting for us with their pastor, and, two weeks now before the divorce would be final, we met with him.

Now, I knew my wife, and I knew this pastor (we had visited the church once before). I knew he would be bold and “in your face” about how sinful we were, and I knew she would either walk out, or stick this session out and never return. I was almost right. He confronted us about our sin. He didn’t hold back one bit. I put my hands over my face, put my head down and thought, “This was stupid, it’s just going to make things worse.” And then I heard him say, “So! What are you going to do about it?”…And I knew it was over. I looked up from the floor to my almost x-wife’s eyes, expecting to see anger or apathy, and my jaw hit the floor! She…was…in…tears… I couldn’t believe it. It must be an act. She said, “I’ll call my lawyer in the morning and drop the charges”. “Sure you will,” I thought, “I’ll believe it when I see it”. I pretended to believe her though. We left and went out to coffee (this was of course before our Sabbath convictions were redeemed), and the more we talked, the more I noticed that this was not my wife. This was a completely different woman. The next morning I got a call from my lawyer saying that she had dropped all charges. I couldn’t believe it! Praise God for this six month period of waiting!

Well, over the next several months we continued to attend my sister’s church. And through the faithful preaching of the Word, I began to think, for the first time since I prayed that prayer when I was 4, about my never-dying soul. I was convicted of my sin. I knew I was on my way to Hell. I knew that my only hope for the remission of my sins was in the sacrifice that Jesus Christ had made when He laid down His life at Calvary and rose from the dead. And so I grabbed hold of that, and haven’t let go since. Bless God for His mercy, that through His grace, He saved me! We were baptized the following spring and joined to the church. We’ve been attending ever since.

NOW…having brought you to this point in my life, there are two areas I would like to address:

1) How was this conversion any different than the so-called conversion when I was 4?

2) What’s happened since I was saved?

Well, the first is a question I have often asked myself. I can see how others would question it as well. Even from my testimony, it seems that there were fruits. Do I believe that you can lose your salvation? NO!

Joh 6:37 all that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

Rev 3:5 the one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.

I believe that I was never truly saved. I believe that I had a false hope. That I thought mimicking some prayer would save my soul. This is false! Coming to the Lord is not about saying, just the right thing, in just the right way. It is about having heart dealings with God. Realizing that you are a wretched sinner unable to do one thing toward your salvation. Like the prophet Isaiah cried out, “Woe is me, I have come undone”. You need to realize that God is Just and you deserve Hell, and the only way to be right with Him is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for your salvation. Did I really see this? I don’t believe that I did. As far as I was concerned, I was a pretty good kid. I didn’t want to know how to be saved; I wanted to know for sure that I was going to Heaven. I believe there was a difference. I didn’t think I needed saving. I just wanted to go where mom and dad said they were going.

Isa 29:13 And the Lord said: "Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,

Isa 29:20 for the ruthless shall come to nothing and the scoffer cease, and all who watch to do evil shall be cut off,

You see, to this point in my life, all I knew was church. This is why I talked about Jesus on the playground. It wasn’t because I cared for other people per se. I was just dumb-founded that there was someone who had never heard of Him before. And so, as anyone would do, I wanted my friends to know what I knew. It wasn’t so much evangelism as it was everyday conversation. In fact, I remember a boy named Rusty Schpoonmacher, a red head for sure, we called him spoon maker, because it was easier and funny. And I talked to this boy about God and about Jesus, but again, it was just talk. I wasn’t pressing his conscience, or telling him about his sin, or Christ’s atoning sacrifice. I just told him that God was God and Jesus was his son. And I can’t say that you could see the fruits in my home life. I was just as bad as the next kid. I fought with my siblings without remorse. I didn’t honor my parents the way a regenerated child would have. I have no evidence whatsoever that I was saved when I was a child other than that prayer, which we have already said, is not salvation, it was just lip service to please men.

And what then is different now? Well, I have come to realize that I am a sinner. I can truly cry out with Paul, “Oh wretched man that I am!” And with Isaiah, “Woe is me, I have come undone!” I know that apart from Christ I am damned to Hell. Only through Christ’s sacrifice and His righteousness imputed to me can I be acquitted of my transgressions. Back then, I can’t say that I really felt guilty when I sinned, now, I can’t go a day without confessing my sins and feeling utterly ashamed when I do sin. All I want to do is to please God. There are real heart-dealings with God that go on in my life. I depend fully on God for everything. And I know that He has saved me because: The Spirit Himself bears witness with my spirit that I am a child of God, and my life has been altered by this conversion. As I said of my wife, that very night I looked at her and saw that this was not the woman I married. And so I can look into the mirror now and see that this is not the man that she married…Thank God!

Secondly then, and finally: What’s happened since I was saved?

I wish I could tell you that life has been a cakewalk since, but it hasn’t. It has been easier to deal with life, now that I can look at a bigger picture. But the facts remained that we had made such a mess out of our lives, there was some cleaning up to do. We had 10’s of thousands of dollars of debt with nothing to show for it. We still had addictions to deal with. Indwelling sins that needed to be cut out and cut off. It hasn’t been a bed of roses. I think if all we needed to do was to be born again, and all our troubles would be over, The New Testament would be much, much shorter. But, the Word reminds us time and time again to, “put off the old man”, “let there be no filthiness among you”, “walk by the Spirit”, it teaches us how to walk, talk, pray, fast, evangelize, and raise our children. Paul says to, “fight the good fight of faith”, and to, “finish the race”. The race is not over when you are born again, no, it is just beginning.

Paul says in Philippians 2:12, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. And I say to any who may be unsaved. Don’t put it off! Make your salvation sure. And if you think that you are not good enough, or that you have sinned one too many times, remember my story. If God can save a sinner like me, He can surely save you. You cannot sin beyond the Lord’s power to bring you back. If you say that He cannot save you, than you are not thinking of the omnipotent sovereign Creator of all things. He is infinite in power. And He has given the appropriate payment. Jesus Christ can sit down at the right hand of the Father, because, “It is finished”. And if you think this day that you are saved, MAKE SURE! Examine yourself! 2Co 13:5 examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (The KJV says, except ye be reprobates!)

I’ve heard some say that you should not question your salvation, but by these passages, I think that Paul would disagree. We need to make sure that we are living according to our confession. Make our calling and election sure, test ourselves. How much pain could I have saved my wife and myself if I had tested myself? Only God knows.

The “Roman’s Road” is packed with truth:

Rom 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Rom 6:23 for the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Rom 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Rom 10:13 for "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

Additionally John tells us in 1Jo 1:9 if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

The End


Thank you for taking the time to read this, I hope it was encouraging to you. Feel free to leave comments or questions.

Yours in Christ,
Josh Wood