Archive for March, 2016

Are You Insane?

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

insanity imagesIn the late 90s I became addicted to internet porn. The ministry seems to be a particularly vulnerable profession for that one. I tried to stop a zillion times, but I failed repeatedly. I prayed and read my Bible and I prayed some more. I promised God that I would “never do it again”, but I always did. Each Sunday, I would stand up there on the platform consumed with guilt and shame. After the service people would heap praise on me, “Oh John you seem to be talking directly to me”, “You have changed my life”, “God speaks to me through you” on and on and on. All that praise only made me feel worse and feeling bad is the last thing an addict needs! I taught about God’s love, mercy and grace and constantly told people that nobody is beyond God’s love, but deep inside I thought I must be the exception.

To make a long story short, I finally sought help. At my first recovery meeting in 2000, somebody said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. The moment I heard that I realized how true that had been in my own life. I have been clean for over 15 years. I have no shame or guilt. My life has risen from the pit of despair to highest peak of hope and fulfillment. Thank God, I’m no longer insane!  But that didn’t just happen; I had to do something different. I had to swallow my pride and reach out for help. I realized that in all of my praying and begging God to “cure me” that I was looking for Him to do all the work. The “cure” didn’t come until I did my part of the lifting. Could you be a little bit insane in some area too?

To read more about my struggle and what else I have learned:  http://johngouldener.com/?page_id=3877 and read chapters “Facing the Truth’ and “Peeling the Onion”.   If you are struggling, feel free to email me. There is help!

Taking for Granted

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

beingtakenforgrantedquotesRecently I lost a filling. Actually, it was not a big deal; but to my tongue the hole felt the size of the Grand Canyon. For those four days all kinds of scary thoughts went through my mind. Things like what if it starts hurting? What if it starts hurting really bad? What if I have to have a root canal? And the most distressing thought was  —- how much will a root canal cost me?  Well, none of the above happened.  Dr. Hailey  worked his magic and all was well again. I am fortunate; I can pay whatever my insurance does not cover. If I have to have a root canal, I can pay for it. I can pretty much pay for anything I need and lots of stuff I do not need. The day after I got my tooth fixed, I walked into McDonalds. The server, who looked to be in her late teens, greeted me with a huge smile. She literally lit up!  I immediately felt sad. My heart ached for her. She did not have her top front teeth. That must be a huge deal for a teen. Yet, her smile was one of the biggest I have ever seen.

Saturday, we took our grandson, Hudson, to eat at the Corner Pub. It is one of his favorite places because of the video game machines. He played them multiple times. When we left the Pub, he wanted to go to the “ice cream place”. He had a small cone with sprinkles and Cathy and I both had one-scoop cups. Cost for the evening, approximately $50.00.  Leaving the parking lot, I noticed the McDonalds’ sign; for some reason I thought again about the girl with no teeth. I take so much for granted.

Something to Think About

My online book for free. Unscrewed: Becoming Whole Again. My personal story of abuse, shame, guilt, addiction, failure, rehab, forgiveness and victory. http://johngouldener.com/?page_id=3877

Out of the Darknesss

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

candle-in-the-darkIt is 9:20 in the evening.  I just walked into the pitch black emptiness of a cavernous 150-year-old church which was full of life, during Vespers, a few hours ago.  I’m at the Abbey of Gethsemani Monastery. There is no light, save one flickering candle 200 or so feet from my perch in the balcony.  Actually, I had to feel my way to this pew. As far as I know, I’m alone. The monks have gone to bed, but they will be back at 3:15 AM.  I’m sitting with my back resting against the end of the pew with my legs spread out on the seat. I am quite comfortable, as I take in this precious moment of solitude. Watching the tiny flame flicker, I realize that I am not alone at all. I feel the presence of our majestic Creator God, the One who allows me this moment of time with Him.  I’m praying for Him to guide me to what he wants me to hear  and see in this darkness.

Right now, I am realizing that the blackness is lifting. As my eyes adjust, I can make out the massive wood trusses high above me which support the roof. There are twelve. I now can see the eighteen stained glass windows, nine on each side. They are beautiful in the light of day, when the filtering sun paints glowing mosaics on the ancient, white brick walls.   Down below I am able to make out the far away altar.  Even in the dark, it is still the central focal point in this house dedicated to God.

My experience here is a metaphor of how God speaks to us when we make a sacrifice to Him of our time. When I entered a while ago, the only visual experience was the candle flickering in the darkness.  Out of the veil of blackness, God is now showing me what I formally could not see.  Likewise, God is faithful to speak to us when we slow down long enough to give Him our ear. If you are not hearing anything, most likely you are not spending enough time listening.

Something to Think About

My online book for free. Unscrewed: Becoming Whole Again. My personal story of abuse, shame, guilt, addiction, failure, rehab, forgiveness and victory. http://johngouldener.com/?page_id=3877

Cost Accounting

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

cost accountingSeveral years back we put down hardwood. You know the drill; you rip up the perfectly good carpet to put down hardwood. Then you buy some more carpet called “rugs” in order to cover up most of the new wood. So, off we went looking for rugs. We didn’t have any trouble finding ones we liked; we found loads of them! But we didn’t want to pay the price. We finally settled on some that will do the job, but not our first choice. In each decision which everyday folks make, we’ve got to deal with “Is it worth the price?” Had we been willing to pay the price, we would have had much nicer rugs for Sam our grand dog to pee on. But I’m getting a bit too graphic here. I’m sure you get the picture.

Life is all about choices – both good and bad. Sometimes we are willing to pay the price and other times we aren’t. Jesus told a story (Luke 18) about a guy who said he wanted what Jesus was “selling”. But when he found out the cost, he suddenly wasn’t in a buying mood. I imagine that we all know folks who have made 180 degree changes in their lives, both good ones and bad, because they were willing to pay the price. Real change always carries a premium price. That is true whether you are a near hopeless drug addict, who finally commits to work the program, or you are a well-respected professional willing to betray your love ones and friends in order to fuel your ego driven pride.

Either way, there is a huge price to be paid. The only difference is one choice leads to a life of satisfaction, hope and growth; the other to a life of regret, blaming, misery and always having to look away. Either way we pretty much get what we deserve. As far as the bad choices are concerned, always with God and sometimes with people, you can ask for and receive forgiveness.

Something to Think About

My online book for free. Unscrewed: Becoming Whole Again. My personal story of abuse, shame, guilt, addiction, failure, rehab, forgiveness and victory. http://johngouldener.com/?page_id=3877

Hope vs Strategy

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

downloadRecently, as I was rearranging one of my bookcases I came across a copy of Rick Page’s best-selling sales and marketing book, “Hope Is Not a Strategy: The 6 Keys to Winning the Complex Sale”. It is one of the classics on the art of sales; the first part of the title is quoted infinitum by sales coaches. As I thumbed through the book, it occurred to me that the application of that title should not be limited to the art of selling. I am constantly amazed at the number of folks who “hope” to do this or “hope” to do that, but they have little or no plan to transform the hope to reality. I have a friend who is gifted beyond measure, who has pretty much amounted to nothing. I can’t count the number of grandiose ideas that fizzled because he had no plan to push his ideas past concepts. On the other hand for many years, I worked with a man who epitomized overachievement; the guy was constantly planning and reaching his goals at a  remarkable pace.

Many years ago, before I attended my first recovery meeting, I was instructed to attend 90 meetings in the first 90 days. It was not an easy thing, but I did it and it has served me well. People who go into recovery with that kind of strategy have a very good chance of succeeding. I did thank God. On the other hand those who don’t, usually don’t. Today it seems that clearly thought out strategies are about as scarce as cool days in August.

At the “Y” I noticed that the lifeguards constantly carry with them a “Life Guard Rescue Tube”. If they are on duty they are required to have that rescue tube with them – not near them, but with them! Sometimes it looks a bit foolish to be walking around with that thing hanging on them, especially when there is nobody in the pool. But it isn’t foolish at all. It is a strategy put into place well before the need arises. Nationally, pool drowning has decreased sharply since the rescue tube strategy was implemented. God’s plan for each of us is a good plan. Often the only difference between what we call success and failure is the word — “STRATEGY”.

Something to Think About

My online book for free. Unscrewed: Becoming Whole Again. My personal story of abuse, shame, guilt, addiction, failure, rehab, forgiveness and victory. http://johngouldener.com/?page_id=3877