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August 29, 2021
Today I was filled with hurt and disappointment as I watched Pastor Rick speak about his work with prisons and Pastor Danny. His words were inspiring and biblical. He was speaking about character and loving the unlovable. He set it up with by telling the story of Joseph and how God used him to save two nations from famine. He tied this to the story of Pastor Danny Duchene, bringing out the fact that Danny was serving a life sentence for double murder and then gave His life to Christ. Pastor Rick explained that he had called the governor to ask for a commutation of Danny’s sentence so that he could come and serve on the Saddleback staff. He followed that with this statement:
“That’s grace, that’s grace, that’s the kind of church we are. It doesn’t matter what your background is. I don’t care what you’ve done, how badly you’ve done it, or, who you’ve done it with, or how long you’ve done it. All that matters is the direction of your feet today. That’s all that matters.”
This was an amazing statement it is biblical and full of grace. The only problem is that it is not true. Saddleback and Pastor Rick do care about what you have done, in fact if you are a Registered Sex Offender you are not welcome on any Saddleback property, period. This includes attending Celebrate Recovery. Saddleback Church is actively seeking out RSOs to banish them. When asked for the biblical basis they do not give an answer. It is heart breaking that they are holding the past against people who have committed crimes before they were saved. There is no policy in place to restore RSO to fellowship. They have said that they are developing an escort system for RSOs, but do not have any idea when it will be implemented. I must ask, where is the grace and how can Pastor Rick not extend the same grace, he gives other felons to RSOs. Does not the blood of Christ have the power to overcome all sin? As you can see this is deeply hurtful and troubling. Also, if he were to think about it if Joseph were here today, he would not be allowed on Saddleback property because he would be a registered sex offender.
August 14, 2021
July 19, 2021
July 4, 2021
June 26, 2021
Today Was an amazing day! I had the honor of being able to make my public profession of faith. While I gave my heart to Christ many years ago, I recently realized that I needed to be baptized.
When I found out about beach baptisms I thought it was a unique place. In giving it further thought and then experiencing it, I now see how it is a true public profession meaning you are standing there in front of the world and saying I give my life to Christ. To me it was more meaningful than being in a church where everyone accepts our faith.
What was even more amazing is how God worked it out. I went down onto the beach and Pastor Jack gave an introduction and explanation of baptism and its biblical implications. He also gave an evangelistic call to those who just happened upon the event. After that I went down to the water where John was in the water baptizing people. John is a volunteer who came into CIM when I was there. I told the usher that I needed John to baptize me, he told that it is first come first serve. I stated "sir, you do not understand, he came and visited me in prison." He smiled at me and said, "I got you." He held me back until John was ready. When John recognized me he called me by name and said come here and let me baptize you. I will never forget the huge smile on his face. It was such an honor for me to be baptized by John who knew my history and knew my walk inside and showed his excitement to baptize me. As I came up out of the water, being symbolically raised from the death into life, I knew that this moment was also being shared by close friends and family members who were up on the bluff above watching. It was perfect.
Every time I think about this day and how God worked it out I cannot help but praise my God for His unending love and attention to detail. He knew exactly how to make this day even more meaningful. Our God is an awesome God!!!
June 17, 2021
Our God is so amazing! Today I received a call from the VA. One of the social workers called to tell me that she had found a Celebrate Recovery that accepts 290s. I had never spoken to her before. I had told one of the counselors at the VA about Saddlebacks new policy. She was troubled by this and asked the social worker to find a replacement for me.
She had called around to different CRs and only one had answered the phone when she explained my plight I was skeptical and so I called the pastor in charge. When I told him about my situation his response brought me to tears.. He said more important than you being a 290 let me aske you, "do you have a relationship with Jesus Christ?" I responded absolutely. He then asked: "Have you surrendered your life to Him. I said absolutely He then said "Then you are more than welcome at our church and CR." I was so touched by his unwavering biblical response. Next week I will go to their CR. Amazing how God used the VA to show me His love and grace.
Two weeks has gone by since I received the news from Saddleback Church and their new exclusion of 290s pending the development of a new escort program. I have had many sleepless nights trying to reconcile their position with the biblical principles laid out in Celebrate Recovery. I have asked for and my family has asked for further explanation of this new policy. The answer is the same "trust God in the waiting," it is only a "Brief Pause" and we have a duty to protect the congregation. In one of the e-mails I was told it will not be more than a year before the new escort program will be implemented. What I am not understanding why they have implemented the ban before having the new program ready. It is strange how the very organization that I felt safe to share my history with is the one who is rejecting me. So many times in CR they talk abut being one of "those people" and how accepting they are of people that are seeking healing form their "Hurts, Habits, and hang ups. I have started working on finding a new recovery program and wonder what the Lord will provide.
I am going to get baptized. I was saved in 2002 and had always thought since I had been baptized many years before that I did not need to get baptized. However, when I was asked for my date of baptism I realized that I could not claim to be baptized since there was no evidence of a change of heart. I have lived such an ugly and sin filled life before 2002 that I know I have to make my public profession of faith now.
This week, I received a call from Saddleback church. I was informed that due to my being a 290 registrant I am not allowed on Saddleback property for any services or to attend Celebrate Recovery. She said Saddleback is instituting a new policy of not allowing 290s on their property until they create an escort program for 290s. This new program will require all 290s to be under escort any time they are on Saddleback property.
I could not believe my ears. I could not believe they would do such a thing. I sent a letter asking them what their biblical reasoning was for doing this, the response I received ignored the question. Instead the leaders of Celebrate Recovery sent me an e-mail saying basically that they "echoed her concerns". Their theme is for me to "trust God in the waiting." I am so heartbroken by all of this. The church that I love and the program that I attended for almost two decades was now rejecting me for what I did before I was saved and what I paid for with 16 years of incarceration. I cannot believe that they would come into prison and invite us to CRI (Celebrate Recovery Inside) and then when I come home, let me attend for 5 months then kick me out without warning or incident. My head is still spinning over all of this. I am trying to figure out what to do, I know that the Apostle Paul said not to forsake the gathering of the saints, so how does this reconcile with the position that Saddleback and CR are taking with all 290s. I am so hurt and confused. Yet at the same Time I know that My God is bigger than any issues that I face.
Today was a very conflicted day. I was routed all around CIM. I went down Euclid where C yard is, then around the bottom of the property, up and then back down central where A yard is. All the while making pick ups. I was so filled with emotions of gratitude and yet so deeply sad for all of my brothers that are still inside and especially those who are looking at many more years inside. To be free driving past a prison is not a big deal for most people who do not have a clue what goes on inside those walls. But for those of us who have been confined inside those walls for many years we know exactly what that endless "Ground Hog Day" feels like. I prayed my way around the property. I prayed for forgiveness for those who have committed horrific crimes, I prayed for healing of the wounds of those who have accepted our Christ, I prayed for those who do not know our Lord to come to Him. I also prayed for all of the victims that have been devastated by the crimes and acts of the men behind those walls. I know that the decisions made behind those walls will have not only eternal consequences, but, also societal consequences. I want to see those who come out of prison come out with the joy of the Lord in their heart. I also prayed by name for many of the men who I know will be in heaven with us. I prayed for their comfort and comfort for their families who miss them. At the end of the day, I thanked God that I am out and for changing my heart and for never abandoning me behind those horrid walls.
It has now been two weeks since I have been back to work. It feels so good to be able to take this next step in becoming a productive member of society. The days are long, however, I am so grateful to have a job. It is mind boggling to be so busy at work all the while thinking of my brothers behind the wall who have so much time on their hands. I do more now in a day than they do in a month. The Lord made us to work and be productive, and I thank Him daily for being able to do just that.
My mindset is so much different now than it was back in the day, my work day starts with a prayer that God will keep me safe in this truck and not allow anyone to get hurt in an accident and to keep it mechanically sound. It is so amazing how the cab of the truck can become a place for God and I to communicate. There are so many good sermons and praise music that fill the cab with God's love and companionship. Thank you Lord for following through with your provision in my life.
The amazing part of this job is that nobody cares about your past, only how well you take care of their equipment, are you a safe driver, and do you take good care of their merchandise. This is definitely the right industry for men in my position.
May 01, 2021
God has made a way. Finally the insurance was bound and I can go back to work. I am anxious to be able to get back on the road. My days will start early, 5:00 a.m.. I will be delivering palletized loads using a liftgate and pallet jack. It will be good exercise and help me to stay in shape.
As I start this new chapter of work I am so grateful that God has made a way for me to work. It is so hard for many men coming out of prison to find gainful employment. There were those who said I was uninsurable. But, an insurance agent who was appropriately named Grace, found a company that took a chance and insured me. The hardest part was the waiting and wondering how God would handle this situation. There were many prayers answered, and as I told Grace, "in the end Grace always wins!"