Find Hope

Lived the "Hollywood dream" life but needed more to be truly happy.

"I was asking myself, “What is life? What am I going to do now? What is life all about? What is going to bring me peace, contentment, joy, and fulfillment? What is it? I decided life was four things."

READ FULL STORY »

I consider telling my story almost like a verbal book. To me, as a youth, books were my enemy. Books were something you had to get into, absorb and then you were tested on it. I always hated that so books were always my enemy until much later in life. This verbal book I hope will assist you in making certain decisions because we all live different lives. I could never experience what you’ve experienced. You will never experience what I have experienced. I came from a dysfunctional family, as a kid. I think a lot of people did. My dysfunction was that I never had any conversations with my dad. We never played ball. We never talked. We never discussed life and the different things that are important to understand about living in this crazy world. It’s just nothing that we ever did. Also, things can happen really quickly. I remember talking to people that had a mentor or a teacher when they were in fifth grade or sixth grade that took just a few minutes to tell them something to encourage them and give them some kind of positive feedback. They remembered it for the rest of their life. Obviously, you can walk out into the street, get hit by a truck and your life changes in an instant. So, hopefully, giving you my life story can have an impact to help you make decisions on things from my experiences. I have learned that from a lot of people in my own life. 

To give you an example of the dysfunction; When I went to, I spent my years as a youth in my house, I didn’t spend any time with my parents so I was always out with my friends. I grew up fast. I was tall, skinny and not real coordinated so I was always the last one picked for games like baseball and football. It always frustrated me. I always wanted to be one of the better ones and never was. I was actually with some friends of mine in Catalina Island off of California skin diving when I got a notice from my parents to come home because I was going to Purdue (University). My dad was an alumnus of Purdue. My aunt worked in the admissions department and I got into the school on probation because I didn’t have the high school grades to get in but they allowed me to come in on probation. So, I actually went to the train station in L.A. I found my seat. My dad was behind me. He reached out his hand and said, “Give em hell son”. He was a little choked up a bit. I remember that because that’s the only time that there was an emotional exchange between us. So, that’s why I say it was a pretty dysfunctional childhood. 

When I got to Purdue (in Indiana) I didn’t know anybody. I was completely away from my environment. I can remember walking around the fountain in the main administrative part of the school and I was asking myself, “What is life? What am I going to do now? What is life all about? What is going to bring me peace, contentment, joy, and fulfillment? What is it? I decided life was four things. Life was athletics because if you were an athlete you got respect. I wanted respect. I wanted to belong. I wanted that respect. Life was a business. You had to run your own life. You had to be in control with nobody telling you what to do. Life was education. You had to know the rules. You had to know accounting, legal, marketing or administration. You had to know how to live out the life of being independent. Fourthly, life was entertainment. I’m from Hollywood California, the capital of entertainment. I always figured that was another thing where you had respect, money and women and all of that stuff that a young seventeen-year-old is clambering for. I spent the better part of going on twenty-eight, twenty-nine years chasing those four things with a fervency, a craziness. In education, I got through with my Engineering Degree and I got a Masters in Business from Pepperdine out in California. I got a Masters in Financial Services. I got a Law Degree from the College of Law. I was going to UCLA and was taking an Accounting Course and a Business Course during the same hour. I would go to half the class and then run over to the other class because I had to get these certificates finished and I didn’t have time to waste taking the whole course. They never found out because they were in two different disciplines. It was a craziness that I was living. 

I went into the military when I came out of Purdue into the eighty-second airborne. I was on the skydiving team. I was taking a Forbes stock market course to learn more about finance. That’s kind of the direction I felt that wherever the money was where I wanted to try and focus my attention. I was trying the best I could to compete. I was in the third army track team. I was doing entertainment things in the military so I was chasing all of these things once I had made that decision. I got out of the military and came back to California. 

I got an agent and was going on all of these television commercials and trying to do movies. I did The Hunter series for a while. I did three or four different movies. I did forty-seven commercials. I made enough money as an actor that I have life-long medical insurance through the Screen Actors Guild. I never achieved my goal but I really competed and tried my best to get into that whole field. I started in several different businesses. Ultimately I had a finance business. I had fifty-four employees. We were doing deals all over the country. We were drilling oil wells. We were doing real estate syndication and development. We were doing research and development. We were putting together plans for wealthy people. It was a huge business. I had three attorneys on staff. 

Back on the sports side of it, when I got out of the military and came back to California I learned about triathlons. The first sport I got into was speed skiing. I loved the speed. You could get these boats with six to seven hundred horsepower and you are on a two hundred foot line racing around a circular track. It’s usually about three miles. You do five laps so it’s fifteen miles and it’s craziness. I remember saying to myself that this is twenty-five percent of my goal. I have to win the nationals. Two years after I won the nationals, two people were killed in those races. It was very dangerous and it’s a crazy sport but to me at the time, I was thinking that this is a big part of my life, doing something extraordinary in sports. The trouble was that you win the Nationals and you’re great and you’re up there. You’re high for a little bit and a month later, who cares? It didn’t matter. I also discovered the triathlon sport. In my office building in Burbank, California I started the first triathlon governing organization. It was called USTA. United States Triathlon Association which conflicted with the United States Tennis Association. So it later changed to TriFed and now it’s USA Triathlon. The first card ever issued to a triathlete is mine. It was in a magazine and stuff so I had an involvement in that sport from it’s startup. The speed skiing and the triathlons but I wanted to do a television show. It was going to be called “Redefining Aging” where you motivate people to get involved in some activity to get them involved in health and fitness. So, my platform was not any one sport but a multitude of sports. When I came out of the army I had also met a stunt man on one of my commercials, a fellow by the name of Sonny Shields who was a boxer and his son Randy Shields who became one of my really good friends was one of the high ranking Welterweights of the world. He is the only one who beat Sugar Ray Leonard in the amateurs. It was Hit Man Hearns. It was Roberto Duran. It was a very strong field and I trained Randy for like six years. Then all of those years later I wanted to start this series and I heard about this whole thing of Master Boxing so I got into Master Boxing and won ten world titles, never defeated. I won that Master Athlete of the year and was trying to put that series together. The point is that I’m chasing all of these crazy things and everything depended on me. If I didn’t spend time doing these things the time would pass and I could never recoup it again. So, even at family events, I would be in a room with a book on something trying to not waste that hour or even sleep sometimes was thought of as losing too much time. It was crazy on the athletics, on the business. I had that firm that was probably, I don’t think I would have sold it for twenty million while we were doing all of those activities. It wasn’t a number of years later with all of the tax law changes. We were in government securities, arbitrage government securities and that whole industry crashed with tax law changes and the company was worth nothing. I chased, chased, and chased these things. 

I chased the educational things. I was educated beyond my intelligence really. I learned how to go through courses. In law school, I was always working on something else. I would find the student that was the best student in the class and pay them to tutor me to take the exam. It was just that kind of a lifestyle. It was craziness. When you’re chasing the world and you’re chasing where you think you are going to have contentment, peace, joy, and fulfillment, that’s what I was doing. That is where I believed, the world was telling me, that I was going to find those things. 

In the process of that, I also had a music business with Mike Nesmouth of the Monkeys. He was the one that wore the stocking cap, the guitar player and a group of us used to go out to Palm Springs to race across the desert. Now it’s full of golf courses but we would race motorcycles across the desert. If there was a big storm the water would come off of the mountains and carve a channel in the dessert sometimes three and four feet deep and three or four feet wide. When you’re coming across the desert fast on a motorcycle you can’t see those until you are on top of them. That’s what happened to me. I went down. I had a bad neck injury. I went to Eisenhower Hospital where they said, “We have to admit you. You’ve got a problem.” At that time, in my twenties, I said, “I don’t have insurance. I’m out of here. I’ll get a six pack and I will be fine.” I had that kind of an attitude. Mike was a Christian Science person. So, a Christian Science practitioner came to our studio. I couldn’t even hold my head up because of the weight of my head was so painful. I have to lay down and take the weight off of my neck for a period of time before I could even sit up. Anyway, this practitioner came in and did a number on me and I had a healing. I knew there were powers beyond normal scientific things. Having gone through mechanical engineering and studied all of the formulas; Bernoulli's equation, thermodynamics and everything that lines up with these scientific equations. Well, there are things that don’t add up to scientific equation. There are just things that happen on this earth that are beyond explanation and they are supernatural. I wanted to understand supernatural power. 

So, I used to go to a reading room, a Christian Science reading room. I read Mary Baker Eddy Science and Health, Key to the Scriptures, the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, Transcendental Meditation, Hypnosis, Koran, Hinduism, and Buddhism. We, a group of actors used to sit around this candlelit podium thing and chant other eastern religions for power, for strength, for some supernatural ability. In the course of that at my sister's house, a friend of hers said, “You should go over to this church, (Grace Community Church) with this guy John McArthur and learn about the Bible.” I thought, Yeah, well, that makes sense. Christian Science talks about the Bible. Mormonism refers to the Bible and all these things. So, yeah it makes sense. I didn’t think that it had any validity for my life but I would like to see how it fit into history and those kinds of things. So, I checked in. The first night of courses I remember asking, “What is it between Old and New?” (The Old Testament and The New Testament). There must be something that caused them to have those names. That was the level of my understanding which was obviously, nothing. Over the course of time I learned that the manuscripts for the Bible, there are twenty-four thousand manuscripts. There’s so much, even the dead sea scrolls in 1948, all the things that verify the Bible is real. I think the second, only other large manuscript, the second in antiquity is Homer’s Elliot which has a few hundred, maybe four or five hundred, about twenty-four thousand manuscripts. Archeology showed so many things where people talked about in the Bible about places and people that they never, people would say that they are made up and then they would find in archeology that it was true and that the Bible was accurate. Prophecy is one of the biggest. It’s unbelievable that these books would prophesy things that would happen hundreds of years later. The Island of Tier and how it was going to be taken over. The King that was going to allow the Jews to come back from Babylon. He was named a hundred and fifty years before he was born, Syrus. All of the different things, there is no way, in fact, in Isaiah 53 it talks about a Savior who is going to be a Nazarene, born in Bethlehem. He’s going to be born of a virgin. He’s going to be sold for thirty pieces of silver. On and on it goes and it perfectly lines up with the Biblical story. It’s impossible. That can’t be done. In fact, there was a mathematician at MIT because (I took probability in school) and if you took probabilities ten to the fortieth power that doesn’t mean anything to us but this mathematician tried to put that into some visual. He said that if you covered the entire state of Texas with two feet of silver dollars and you were flying any direction over Texas, you jumped out and parachuted into these millions if not billions of square miles or feet of space in Texas, landed and reached down into that, grabbed one coin out of all of those trillions and trillions of coins, the probability that you would get one different from all of the others that are the same, that’s the probability that this one person, Jesus, could answer all of these prophecies. It’s just not possible. You might as well fear more of walking out and getting hit by lightning. It’s just not going to happen. I became aware of these truths in this logos. 

I also learned about spiritual warfare, that we have an enemy. We are in a war. Most people don’t even know we are in the war but we are in warfare. That explains why there are all of these other religions and why Mary Baker Eddy came up with this and why Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. All of these things began to make sense. We are in a warfare. Most people don’t know we are in a warfare, therefore they are subject to being defeated and the enemy wants to kill, steal and destroy. The Bible is clear. So, one of the things that I learned is that you can’t experience life for what it could be until you face it for what it is. It’s spiritual warfare. You are in warfare. If you don’t face that fact and learn to have spiritual armor and have spiritual tools to fight that battle then you are like me chasing all of those four things for twenty-eight years like a crazy person. 

The gospel message is very simple. We are all sinners in thought, word and deed. The only way that we can come to God is, we can’t, we can’t get to Him. The only way to get to Him is a substitute. Jesus Christ came down and paid the price for all of our failures, past, present, and future. By calling on His name and by asking Him to be the Lord and Savior of our life the Holy Spirit enters us and we can begin to move down the track that God created us to be. We can have peace, contentment, joy, and fulfillment no matter what the circumstances. I mean, Jesus Christ was either a lunatic, He was a liar, or He was who He says He was. He said He was God. They picked up stones to kill Him and He said, “What good deed are you going to kill me for?” They said, “It’s not for a good deed. It’s because you have made yourself equal to God.” He said that and the Trinity (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) are talked about in the Bible starting in Genesis. It says, let us make man in our image, “Us”, plural. So, coming to grips with the truth and the truth can set you free. The truth can allow you to have that peace and contentment no matter what your circumstances are. 

To me, it’s a little bit like a tree with roots. If you have really shallow roots going out from a tree, the wind and storm hit, that tree is typically toppled because it can’t withstand the force. If the roots are deep, deep, deep into the soil it might bend but that tree will maintain its strength. It’s like our lives. If we learn more and more about God’s truth through the Bible, Bible studies, church and maybe groups that you get involved with, what you listen to, what you watch, what you read. Those roots go deep down into those truths. Life is going to hit you sideways and you can’t avoid it. You’ll bend but you won’t topple. God promises that He will be with us and He will see us through the problems. You can have the peace, joy, and contentment even though life throws some really difficult circumstances in your life. 

I used to go to Hugh Heffner's parties. I have seen the big, you know, look at the Belushi’s, Michael Jackson, Prince, on and on the list goes. There was an emptiness even though they had everything the world could offer. Typically it went to some kind of a drug and we all know the end. They all ended up dying and looking for the truth of life. 

The truth of life is simple. The gospel is a simple message that is available to everybody. So, chasing all of those things for all of those years was all up to me and when you come to the Lord and realize that the Holy Spirit enters you then you can rest and relax in the truth of the Bible and the promises. Then life can have an entirely different set of rules for you. My prayer is that the God of love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness will shine that truth into your life through Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s my prayer for you. 

John D. - Lived the "Hollywood dream" life but needed more to be truly happy.

More Stories view all 416