"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"

Luke 15:4-6

April 15, 2009


Jon and I went to Missouri for a couple days last week. Our main purpose was to get away and relax, due to Jon having to recently work a lot of overtime hours. But while we were there, Jon also wanted to do a little wiring in my family's old home. One of the bedrooms only had a pull cord for the light, and he wired in a switch. We went through the house and figured out which outlets and light switches were connected to each breaker switch. There were a couple of other oddball things that Jon repaired.

When my sisters and I took over the house and began fixing it up last year, we found that there was an outlet in the living room that wasn't working. We assumed that at one time it had worked correctly, but for some reason it no longer had any power to it. The house had been rented out for several years, so we had no way of knowing how long it had not been working.

While we were there last week, Jon got up into the attic and checked the wire that ran to that outlet. He found that there was a loose connection. He reconnected it, and now it's working perfectly. Afterwards, Jon told me that at times, loose connections like that can be a fire hazard. But thankfully, he found it before anything happened and got it fixed properly.

Even though it looked fine on the outside, there was a problem on the inside. It looked just like all the other outlets that were in the house, and we would have had no way of knowing that it was useless and not serving its purpose, had we not tried to utilize it. The loose connection may not have occurred instantaneous all at one time, but may have gradually worked itself loose over the passage of time. Perhaps it wasn't wired as securely as it should have been to begin with. Who knows what happened to cause it to come disconnected and lose power.

There was a man in the Bible who lost his source of power. He allowed temptation to lure him into a false sense of security, and allowed his love for a woman to draw him away from protecting his source of strength. Judges chapters 13-16 records the story of Samson.

The children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.

There was a man who lived in Zorah, whose wife was barren and had no children. One day the Angel of the Lord appeared to her and said, "Indeed now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. Now therefore, please be careful not to drink wine or similar drink, and not to eat anything unclean. For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines."

So the woman bore a son and called his name Samson; and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him. The Spirit of the Lord began to move upon Samson and he began doing great feats.

The first recorded account that demonstrated Samson's strength happened in Timnah. A young lion came roaring at him, catching him by surprise. The Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart, although he had nothing in his hand. He left, and after some time returned to where the carcass of the lion was. A swarm of bees and honey were in the carcass of the lion. He ate of the honey, and gave some to his parents to eat. But he never told his dad and mom what had happened with the lion or where the honey came from.

Another time, Samson went and caught three hundred foxes; and he took torches, turned the foxes tail to tail, and put a torch between each pair of tails. When he had set the torches on fire, he let the foxes go into the standing grain of the Philistines, and burned up the shocks and standing grain, as well as the vineyards and olive groves.

He was later bound with new ropes and delivered to the Philistines. The Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him; and the ropes broke loose from his hands. He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, took it in hand, and killed a thousand men with it.

There are many exploits written about Samson and his strength. Due to him being raised as a Nazarite and having never cut his hair, the Spirit of the Lord moved greatly through Samson. As the Angel of the Lord promised his mother, he began to deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines.

But then Samson fell in love with the wrong woman, and was lured into telling her the source of his strength. As you read the story in chapter 16 of Judges, you can see where he loved Delilah, but she didn't return his love and was only using him for her own personal financial gain.

The lords of the Philistines came to Delilah and told her, "Entice him, and find out where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him; and every one of us will give you eleven hundred pieces of silver."

Delilah began begging and pleading with Samson to tell her his source of strength. Three different times he told her an untruth about what would cause him to become weak and be like any other man. Delilah accused him of not loving her, and of mocking her those three times by not telling her where his great strength lay.

Daily she pestered him with her words and pressed him so that he became weary and impatient, to the point of feeling vexed to death.

Finally he told her, "No razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a Nazarite to God from my mother's womb. If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man."

When Delilah saw that he had spoken the truth, she sent for the lords of the Philistines to bring her the promised money. She lulled Samson to sleep with his head resting upon her lap, then called for a man to to come and shave Samson's head.

Afterwards she began to torment him, and said, "The Philistines are upon you, Samson!" He awoke from sleep, not realizing that his head had been shaved, and that the Lord had departed from him. His source of power was now gone.

The Philistines put his eyes out and bound him with bronze fetters, and he became a grinder in the prison.

But his hair began growing back during this time. The lords of the Philistines gathered together to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god, and to rejoice and have a big celebration. They began saying, "Our god has delivered into our hands Samson our enemy!"

They called for Samson to come out and perform for them. He was brought out and stationed between the pillars of the temple. Samson told the lad who had led him by the hand, "Let me feel the pillars which support the temple, so that I can lean on them." Remember, his eyes had been put out so he was now blind.

The temple was full of men and women. All the lords of the Philistines were there -- about three thousand men and women on the roof watching.

Samson called out to God saying, "O Lord God, remember me, I pray. Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes."

Samson took hold of the two middle pillars which supported the temple, and he braced himself against them, one on his right and one on his left.

Then Samson, "Let me die with the Philistines." And he pushed with all his might, and the temple fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. The dead that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life. He had judged Israel for twenty years.

When Samson was obedient to God, he was powerful and greatly used. The Spirit of the Lord would come upon him, and help him defeat the Philistines. Israel began to become freed from the oppression that had been imposed upon them by the Philistines for forty years, due to the power of Samson. It caused the enemy to hate him and desire to destroy him. Yet while he was in obedience to the Nazarite law, God gave Samson supernatural strength and power, and protected him from the destruction of the Philistines. But once he gave into Delilah's persuasion to divulge the source of his strength and she had his head shaved, He was no longer under God's protection. He was as all other men and no longer had the Spirit of the Lord upon him. Not only did he lose his strength and power, he had his eyes put out and lost his sight. He was bound and the Philistines made him a grinder in the prison. In that moment of weakness, he lost everything.

It's easy to look at this and think that God wasn't being very fair to Samson, and that the punishment was pretty severe. But upon reading the scriptures beforehand, it is easy to see how Delilah was using him. The first three times that she begged him to tell her the source of his strength and he lied to her, she had Philistines lying in wait for him and would try the tactic on him that he had told her. He should have been wise enough to catch onto her plotting and known that she was only using him. He shouldn't have been caught off guard and should have known that she was trying to ensnare and trick him.

Ofttimes we can get ourselves into messes, then blame God and think that our punishment is too severe. But more often than not, we didn't just suddenly disobey or give into temptation. It was a process of gradually giving in. We eventually find ourselves spiritually powerless and without strength. But even in the worst of situations, there is hope.

When Jon was repairing the outlet, it was only a matter of reconnecting it to the source of power. The needed components were there all the time, but just needed to be once again connected to one another. Having the electrical wire in the wall and having the outlet installed did no good, until they were hooked together.

Even though Samson lost all power and found himself helpless, God didn't turn His back and forget about him. When Samson's hair began to regrow, his strength began to return. When he found himself in a situation where he knew he knew he needed the power of God to strengthen him, he called upon God. And God once again supernaturally sent His Spirit to empower Samson and destroy three thousand Philistines. Samson's life ended that day, but he did more to destroy the Philistines in his final moments on earth than any other time in his life. God allowed Samson's life to end victoriously and for him to be remembered as a hero.

When we find ourselves in circumstances where we feel weak and powerless, all we have to do is call upon God and He will give us strength. As we hold fast to our faith and stay close to God, we will remain strong. But once we begin allowing ourselves to be drawn away by temptation, we will find ourselves growing weak and powerless. When that begins to happen, all we have to do is call upon God and be reconnected to our true source of strength and power.


I suspect Samson felt pretty low after he was duped. He probably felt like he had betrayed his people and that God was mad at him and that everything was about him.

But we recently saw a show that had a very good point. It's awfully arrogant to believe that everything would be about oneself.

Samson did make a very big mistake. But it wasn't solely about Samson. It was also about Delilah. It was also about the Philistines who mocked Samson and God. It was also about all the crowd who gathered to watch him. And it was also about everyone who reads Judges 13-16.


Italian Chicken

Place chicken breasts in a baking pan and pour Italian dressing over the top; cover the pan with foil or a lid. Marinate at least 1 hour in the refrigerator. Don't remove the Italian dressing marinade before baking. Bake covered on 325 for 2 hours -- or in a crockpot until meat is tender.

You can also cook a pork roast with this same Italian dressing marinade.


My nephew's little girl just turned one a month ago. She is beginning to say a few words. She has been saying Mama and Dada for quite a while, but in the past few days has started adding new words to her vocabulary. Recently she has been getting a little confused. She had been calling her mommy "Mama", but then has been hearing other people call her mommy "Shelby", so isn't quite sure what to call her. A few days ago, her mom walked into the bedroom and Abigail had just woken up. She was signing mom, but was crying and saying "Shelby".

I was holding Abigail on Easter Sunday afternoon at my sister's house. She said, "Shelby". I said, "No, it's Mommy, Mommy, Mommy." She looked at me and said, "Shelby, Shelby, Shelby." I said, "No, say 'Mommy, Mommy, Mommy.'" She said, "Shelby, Shelby, Shelby." I'm sure she thought I was playing a game with her.

Shelby thought it was cute the first time Abigail said her name, but now that she keeps saying it, she is wanting her to stop, and start calling her Mama again. The cuteness has worn off. Hopefully, Abigail will get it straight before long and start calling her Mama again.

Abigail has also learned to say her Uncle Jared's name. He walked up behind Shelby and scared her, and Abigail didn't like it. She looked at him and said, "Jarwed (her pronunciation), stop it!"


The Key to heaven was hung on a nail. - unknown


We love you!

Loretta & Jon