Loving The Unlovable


Life is full of people who rub us the wrong way. Whether it’s within our family, workplace, church, or community, we’ve all encountered at least one person who drives us absolutely crazy. For me I have several that I see regularly at the prison that I serve at. Regardless of all my attempts to be gracious to them they often return my efforts with sly insults.  Recently their annoying and hurtful habits have been challenging to me in the way that I relate to them.

As Christians, how do we cope with these difficult people? Christ calls us to love selflessly and ceaselessly. So are we just supposed to force a smile and fake a laugh, while inside we’re cringing or crying or wanting to flee? How can we possibly be genuine with all these negative emotions broiling just beneath the surface?

I know that I definitely don’t have all the answers but I have come to an understanding that I cannot love the unlovable on my own. Our broken, sinful hearts aren’t capable of truly loving people sacrificially. The only true source of compassion, strength, and love is God. If we embrace and rely completely on God’s love and forgiveness for us, we can then draw from his infinite provision and begin to love others more fervently and sincerely even when they seem unlovable.

My frustration has led me to pray for the Holy Spirit’s intervention in my interactions with them. Even though they tend to be difficult they still deserve my love. I pray that my intentional kindness towards them would portray the gospel to them. I have also come to respect the fact that I never know the persons whole story. Knowing the hardships in someone’s life can give you an entirely new perspective and understanding of their personality. But if I remember that they, too, have felt the sting of injustice, the burden of anxiety, and the ache of emptiness, perhaps I won’t be so quick to feel anger and annoyance. I also always try to remember that they are God’s precious creation and created in God’s image just like each one of us.

Just like me I’m sure you have these people in your life and my encouragement in this blog post is to not give up loving even if they don’t receive you! Christ has taught us to not only outwardly treat them with kindness and respect, but to also view them through his eyes— with understanding and compassion. His example and transforming power in our lives will equip us to go out and love as he loved!

Prayer For The Prisons

Praying man silhoutte

This week I would like us to shift our prayers to the current investigation that the U.S. Department of Justice has launched inside of all the male prisons in Alabama.  This investigation will focus on whether prisoners are adequately protected from physical harm and sexual abuse at the hands of other prisoners; whether prisoners are adequately protected from use of excessive force and staff sexual abuse by correctional officers; and whether the prisons provide sanitary, secure and safe living conditions, according to the DOJ announcement.

Pray for all who are involved in this investigation and that in the end God will be glorified.

Episode 016: Ken Lake, How One Church Is Impacting The Lives Of Inmates In South Carolina

ken-lakeIn this sixteenth episode of the Detention to Redemption podcast, I interview Ken Lake, from Indian Land, South Carolina. Ken serves as the Pastor of Prison Ministry at Transformation Church and shares with us their current involvement in prison ministry. Ken shares with us his passion to see men inside of prison be set free in Christ and on fire behind bars. He shares how that Transformation Church’s focus is on raising up the church behind bars and equipping them to lead out in the ministry inside of prison through evangelism and small groups. On July 28, 2016, “The Christian Post” wrote an article highlighting Transformation Church and their effectiveness inside of Lee Correctional Institution and Kershaw Correctional Institution where they had 56 baptisms in one weekend. Ken shares how they are intentional in their outreach to these men and seek for ways to minister to them, even through the providing of hygiene. You will be challenged by this interview to engage in prison ministry and to love those who are inside of prison. Ken encourages us to be life changers and we can do that by offering hope to those who are locked up inside of our prisons.


Transformation Church

Prison Ministry (Book)

Limitless Life (Book)

If you have been touched by the music that is shared during this podcast you can buy an album that was written and recorded inside of prison at “Another Captive Free.”

Pray For The Ministry Inside Of Prison

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27

Our finite knowledge gets tested when we come to the subject of prayer. There are times we know what to pray for, and at times we do not. It is in such times that we do not know that the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf.

This week I don’t have any Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, Time specific (aka SMART) prayer requests so please let the Holy Spirit guide you in your prayers for the ministry at St. Clair Correctional Facility.

2016 Courage Class Essays


One of our classes recently finished studying ten principles of Courage. After the class I asked each one to write a short essay on how the study of Courage has affected the attitude toward their current circumstances and their future. There were 85 graduates and each wrote a great essay about how the class had an effect on their lives so I wanted to share with you some excerpts from some of their essays.

Anthony- This course has given me the courage to look within myself. It has given me the courage to be who I was intended to be.

Charles- To me courage was always about fighting. During the course of this study I have learned that courage is about facing ones fears, doing what is right even when it seems that doing what is right isn’t profitable.

Kevin- I never thought of courage the different ways it was described in this study. Courage not only is used to face dangerous times in life but we use courage to face our own problems.

De’won- My thinking and behavior has changed dramatically on courage. I used to be a yes man going on and doing what others wanted me to do but I’ve now got some courage to stand up for myself and do what’s right.

One of the questions that I asked the men was, “What moral code of behavior guides your actions?”

Jeffery- It is very simple, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Mark- The moral code that guides my actions are Gods commandments and the principles of right and wrong, good and bad, and thinking on what is positive and morally right.

Joseph- The moral code that I stand on is to not lie, steal, and cheat others and to treat others as I would like to be treated.

Cedric- The moral code that guides my life is my belief in God and everything that God has laid out for us to live by and how we should act in the different situations that we face in life.

One of the principles in this study of Courage was “Forgiveness.” I asked the question, “Explain the importance of forgiveness in your life?”

Adam- The importance of forgiveness in my life is for me to forgive the guy who stabbed me 9 times. If I can’t forgive him how can I expect my victim’s family to forgive me?

Thomas- Forgiveness brings about freedom to live, do and be. I refuse to allow what someone did to me keep me bound up in bitterness.

Walter- I have learned to let go of the past, my hurt, pain, disappointments, and of course my bitterness. It had become unnecessary baggage that was traveling with me, physically and emotionally. In order to be free, I had to let go and let God!

Edwin- It is important that I ask my family to forgive me for being out of their lives and coming to prison.

Derrick- Forgiveness is really important, because it is what God has done for us!

I was encouraged by all their essays and pray that these men would seek after Christ daily as He continues to change their thoughts and patterns of life.

A Prayer Request For An Incarcerated Brother


Last week a friend of mine that is incarcerated in the prison that I serve at was told that he has Melanoma which is a skin cancer. I would like to ask you to join in prayer with me as I pray for this brother. He has been incarcerated for 26 years, is a very active member in our church and is involved with much of my daily interactions.

Pray that the doctors would be able to remove all the cancer and that God would heal him! Pray that his mind would remain on Christ and that he would not let this stress him out. Pray that I would be able to be an encouragement to him as I serve with him daily!

Episode 015: Danny Duchene, The Testimony Of Saddleback Church’s Celebrate Recovery Inside Pastor

danny-ducheneIn this fifteenth episode of the Detention to Redemption podcast, I interview Danny Duchene, from Lake Forest, California. Danny is the “Celebrate Recovery Inside Pastor” at Saddleback Church and he shares with us his testimony of a life of imprisonment. Locked in a California prison cell, Danny never could have imagined that on April 2, 2016, he’d be standing in front of a congregation of thousands, sharing his testimony from the pulpit at Saddleback. That day, lead pastor Rick Warren and a team of his colleagues commissioned Danny as the newest pastor of Celebrate Recovery Inside: a national prison ministry that connects inmates with biblical counseling curriculums and works to connect local churches with prison ministries and help them fight recidivism.  It was while he was incarcerated that Danny first read “The Purpose­ Driven Life” and reached out to Rick Warren in 2003 and explained that a small group of about 20 inmates wanted to be a part of Saddleback’s “40 Days of Purpose.” Danny goes on to explain how that group grew to over 200 men meeting each week in cell groups throughout the prison. Danny also shares with us how that today since he is released from prison and serving as a pastor at Saddleback Church that his focus is on the “In Custody Churches.” An “In Custody Church” is the church that is inside of prison. Regardless if you are in prison ministry or not you will be encouraged and refreshed by this man’s testimony and his longing to see God glorified inside of prison.


The Purpose Driven Life (Book)

The Purpose Driven Life Group Studies

Celebrate Recovery

The Miracle of Mercy

Danny Duchene’s Email:  danny@saddleback.com

If you have been touched by the music that is shared during this podcast you can buy an album that was written and recorded inside of prison at “Another Captive Free.”

9/28/16 Prayer Request

The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. Psalms 145:7-9

Each Wednesday I attend an inmate led chapel service at prison. I would like to request prayer for our inmate led service tonight. Pray for the inmates who will be leading out in worship and the teaching of the word on Thursday. Pray that they would seek to decrease so that God can increase. Pray that everything would run smoothly and that God would be glorified! Pray that lives would be touched both nights and changed for eternity.

“Where is Barnabas?” A Plea From An Incarcerated Brother


The Apostle Paul had a very “sketchy” past.  He was of an elite sect of Jews, who persecuted Christians.  He had consented and participated in the arrest and death of Christians, including Stephen.  While he was traveling on the Damascus Road with a decree to arrest Christians, he encountered the Lord Jesus.

A blind Saul was led to Damascus where he encountered a man named Ananias who ministered to him, baptized him, and fed him.  Saul then started testifying to the goodness of the Lord and preaching “the way”.

Saul’s work was so mighty that the Jews plotted on killing him and he had to be smuggled out of Damascus and into Jerusalem.  When he arrived there, he tried to join himself to other believers, but they were afraid of him.  Their fear caused them to reject Saul until a man named Barnabas came to Saul’s defense.

Barnabas acknowledged that Saul indeed had done everything that he was accused of, but, nevertheless, he had experienced a legitimate encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ and had been preaching and testifying mightily in that name.  The other disciples extended the right hand of fellowship to Saul, who would later become the Apostle Paul.  He would later go on several missionary journeys and would establish Churches all over the known world.  He also wrote epistles that were used to make up a large part of what we call the New Testament.

How can this story be applied in our daily lives?  There are numerous men in Correctional Facilities across this State whose pasts are just as “sketchy” as the Apostle Paul.  They have committed crimes against the State and the people who live in it.  They are guilty and deserve their punishment; there is no question or argument about it; however, like Saul, many have had a real encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ.  The “scales” have fallen from their eyes and they see the truth.  Their life is different than it once was and they are testifying mightily in the name of the Lord.  They are going around doing the work of the Lord and are making a difference where they are at, even though they know they have been sentenced to die in prison.  Yet, they serve the Lord and are no longer part of the problem, but part of the solution.

But no one seems to know about them.  Where is Barnabas?  If a converted Saul can be given the chance to make a difference, what about the men today?  Murder is murder, and theft is theft, right?  Are the crimes of today really so different from those in Saul’s day?  The truth is that there are some “Paul’s” in the Department of Corrections; they have met Jesus and have been visited by Ananias, but where is their Barnabas?

Is this not what the Gospel is all about: sinners coming to repentance?  The message of the Gospel is that we are out of line, out of sync with God, but through the blood of Jesus, we can be back in right standing with God and receive our reward, even though we had “sketchy” pasts.  The blood of Jesus is stronger than any sin that has ever been committed or will be committed.  That is the truth of the Gospel.

Yet, even though God accepts sinners, rebels, and criminals into His grace through the blood of His Son, society still refuses to.  If a holy God, who has no sin or flaws in Him will receive a person, shouldn’t a society that has sin and flaws in it accept them also?

It is time for the men and women who are diligently carrying out the Great Commission to acknowledge that there are Paul’s in the prison.  It is time to help these “Paul’s” achieve their destiny.  There is no telling what potential these men have.

Venom is used to treat snake bites; fire is used to fight fires; ex-addicts are used to combat addictions.  What about using those who once broke the Law to help fix the ever-growing crime and recidivism rates?   We need to learn to forgive and restore those who were once broken.  If “Corrections” truly exists, then there has to be “Restoration”.  After all, it is the “Department of Corrections”, not the “Department of Everlasting Punishment”.

9/21/16 Prayer Request

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy;

This is my prayer this week as I continue to lead out in ministry at St. Clair Correctional! I want to encourage you to join me in this prayer! This should be our goal, to be used by God to bring peace to others. Jesus said this would be a common characteristic of God’s children. He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” This week as we go forth as God’s children let us seek to bring peace and introduce Jesus to the troubled soul!