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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

Today, I did a Desert Center turn. I took a loaded trailer to DC and met a driver that had brought a trailer from Phoenix. It was amazing to go back there after so many years. Back in the late 80s I had a 5 day a week run to Desert Center. As I drove in I could not help but think about all of the times we had talked about this place and just how familiar it felt. It was sad to see the reality of an abandoned town. The diner was closed, the market's roof had caved in, the gas station was full of graffiti. The only only thing that was open was the Post Office. As I was walking around checking it out I was thinking about Mike A. and how much he would love exploring the abandoned town. As I drove out I had to say good bye old friend, I am sure I will be back many times.

July 19, 2021

Today, as I was out in the inland Empire making deliveries, it occurred to me just how hot it is today. I was in the truck with the air conditioner on Max enjoying the fresh cold air hitting my face. I had to stop and thank God for my freedom and air conditioning. I am so grateful to be able to sleep in an air conditioned home. I remember the sweltering nights laying there with the fans going full blast and it still being too hot to sleep. I had to stop and say a prayer for all of my brothers still in there dealing with the heat all summer long. We have so much to be grateful for here in the free world.

July 4, 2021

Today is independence day. It is our nations birthday. It is a day to reflect and to celebrate what our country stands for. In my case it is a day to appreciate being free and being with family. We spent the day at my sisters lake house. We decided to make it a "Big Burger" day. When we were kids our father owned a hamburger stand. We all worked there. So, we chose some items off of the menu and made them just like we did when we were young. It was so much fun making the chili the night before, I had a competition with my sister on who made the better pot of chili for the chili burgers. It was not only relaxing it was fun. When the fireworks began we sat and I was in awe at how beautiful they were. For many years I had only seen them on T.V. or off in the distance through the bars on the windows. Again, I found my self praising God for being able to just be free, and to enjoy the blessings of this new life He has given me.
Pirates Cove, Baptism
Pirates Cove, Baptism

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.

June 03,2021

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.

May 28,2021

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. 

May 17,2021

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. 

May 14,2021

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!" 

April 07, 2021

Well now I am wondering what God has planned. The insurance policy expired and due to my license being expired, and my not having any verifiable experience, it is very difficult to get insurance.  All of the insurance companies want 1-3 years verifiable experience.  It is so ironic that I have over a million "over the road" miles and yet I cannot prove it. DMV says we can only verify the last three years. It is so crazy that in this information age that they cannot provide my class A license experience. So, for now the truck is parked and I am patiently waiting on God to open a door, or at least a window. One of the hardest parts of trusting God is when we think we see His plan and then it does not work out like we think it should. However, Lord I wait on you and my trust is in you. 

March 22, 2021

Being back behind the wheel of an 80,000 vehicle feels so good. There is something so special, almost magical about driving a "Big Truck." They say that once that diesel fuel gets into your blood you never feel comfortable driving a car again. I can say this is true, I just feel more comfortable in a tractor trailer. I have been getting up at 4:30 to be on the road by 6:00 a.m. I am so fortunate to have been given a job by some very special people. I am driving their truck hauling flour to bakeries. It feels so good to be able to work for a living, to be self sustaining. I never knew what it was like before to drive as a follower of Christ. Every day starts with a prayer for God to help me drive safely and to not allow me to ever hurt anyone with all of that weight, steel and momentum going down the road.  My favorite run so far is down to San Diego. I can listen to a sermon and contemplate God in all of His goodness while I cruse down the road. I am so blessed to be able to work again and to do something that I love.

March 11, 2021

This was an amazing day. I had to get up every morning and be at the DMV Commercial Test Site all week to get in line to take my CDL test. It was such a surreal moment being in the truck with the DMV examiner. He was very kind and professional. I went to Banderas truck driving school to practice for all three of the tests. There is the knowledge, pre trip test, the skills test, backing parallel parking, and backing the tractor trailer around a corner, then finally the road test. The first day I failed the air brake test and had to start over. The second day I passed the pre trip and the skills test but ran out of time to take the road tests. Finally on the last day, I took the road test and now am ready to go to work. It was so weird after driving for so many years to have to start over again. But, thankfully we serve the God of second chances. Now all I need is a job. 
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