Unorthodox Man Podcast: An Unorthodox Train Wreck! (An Interview with John Ruhlam)

Unorthodox Train Wreck

Welcome back to the Unorthodox Man Podcast! This week, I get to sit down with a new friend, John Ruhlam. John grew up in a small town in North West Washington and is a fifth generation pastor. I’m talking very small – only about 800 people lived in his hometown. John grew up thinking that religion was all about rules – do this / don’t do that. He basically grew up thinking religion was all about rules. He missed the concept of a merciful, graceful God. So, like too many PK’s (pastor’s kids), John rebelled and ran away from God.

But, then, when he was 20-years-old, John gave his life to Jesus and moved from “religious rules” to a “relationship with God”.

However, that’s just the very, very beginning of John’s story.

Here is a sample list of bulletpoints that John shares about his life (although, you really should hear the story from John, himself by pushing the play button above!)…

  • Moved to Southern California for college and learns about a loving, grace filled, compassionate God
  • Gets involved with student government, serving his community
  • Starts a job as a football coach and history teacher
  • His pastor tells him he wants him to be a youth pastor
  • Turns him down then gets offered triple his pay and accepts
  • Served as a youth pastor for 11 years and then left to plant a church in Temecula
  • Church explodes and life is great – awesome time to be in ministry
  • Motorcycle crash and breaks neck, whole right side was paralyzed but left side still works
  • 4 months of rehab he gets full use of his body
  • This starts 10 years of pain medication addiction
  • Wife of 22 years leaves him because of his addiction combined with his over commitment to ministry
  • 2 years later he is completely out of ministry
  • No wife & no ministry leads to deep depression
  • In depression a friend introduces him to Meth
  • That starts 6 months strait of meth use
  • Meth changes you emotionally, spiritually, physically
  • Friend dies of drug overdose and decides to get clean
  • Starts an outpatient rehab and recommits to Jesus
  • Sobriety starts but consequences keep coming
  • Gets arrested at church for violating a restraining order
  • Car is broken into while in jail
  • Goes to the police – no help
  • Goes to arresting officers house – gets arrested for 3 felony charges
  • Gets remanded in court and is sent to jail
  • Sits in prison for 6 months when released from jail the judge mandates rehab and John happily accepts
  • While sitting in jail he realizes where life went sideways
  • Decided to work on himself before ever working on others
  • Advice for guys who aren’t taking care of themselves:
    • Knew all the right answers, but didn’t really live the truth
    • Don’t look to blame others, accept your faults
    • Realized that God was stripping everything away to get his attention.
    • Told God he has nothing left and was now was willing to follow
    • Now in recovery with nothing to his name he says, “I am a happy man – with nothing”.
    • When you start with nothing all you can get is a blessing

What’s Next?

Don’t want to get a head of God. Quit making plans and just go one day at a time.

No matter where I go I know God will use him for His glory.

John’s favorite verse:

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)

Jesus set John free from pain, addiction, jail, and depression.

John’s final words of advice:

Guys, we are surrounded by evidence of God, the next step is a step of faith.

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