"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 27, 2016


My sister, Janie, has been living in a rental house for the past 6 months while her house is being renovated from the fire that occurred last September. The rental house is in the same neighborhood as her home, which makes it convenient; but there have been several issues with this house.

The most frustrating issue has been the privacy fence in the backyard. The backyard butts up to a really busy 4-lane street. When her grandkids come to visit, they want to play outside. That would all be well and good, except for the ongoing problems she's had with the privacy fence, which is old and worn out.

Some of the wood panels have rotted and the fence is weak, and so every time there is a lot of wind or a storm, a section of the fence has fallen over. Jon has tried propping it up, her son has tried to prop it up... but that will only last until the next big gust of wind. It's not always the same section of fence that falls over. Whenever a fence panel is down, you can see the busy street on the other side; and there is also a sidewalk right outside the fence where pedestrians can walk.

Janie has tried calling and leaving messages, but no one from the rental company would respond or come fix the fence. Recently, things became even more urgent, for the city came by and left a warning on the front door saying if the fence wasn't replace in 30 days, they would replace it themselves and bill the homeowner. Janie texted and emailed a copy of that notice to the rental company, as well as calling and leaving a message; and still no response. A week or so went by, and yet another notice from the city was received. Janie was home at that time and told them that she was not the homeowner and that she had made several attempts to contact the rental company, with no response.

That time, Janie called the emergency number for the rental company and there was a woman who answered the phone (who sounded more.... elderly... older... mature), and she was very sympathetic and said that they'd be sure and get that taken care of. A few days later, a couple men showed up and as soon as they got the concrete carried around to the backyard and a couple of holes dug, it started raining.... and raining... and raining. Finally, the rain stopped and the men returned. I happened to be at the house babysitting a couple of Janie's grandkids at the time. I saw them out back, got busy doing other things, then when I looked out again, they were already gone. I'm guessing they were there maybe 10 minutes.

They did replace a gate on the side, but didn't replace the old, worn-out, rotted fence. They put in 3-4 new posts, straightened up the old fence and nailed it to the new posts, and nailed some pieces of boards in a few places along the back to brace it and hold it in place. Now honestly, how long do you think this repair is going to last?! Hopefully, at least until Janie gets moved back into her own home in another 3 weeks or so! I'm guessing that the next time we have a storm with a lot of wind, there will be fence issues once again. Putting a few new pieces of wood in with the rotted, worn-out wood doesn't make it strong. It may make it look straighter and a little nicer for now, but it really didn't fix the problem. The entire fence needs to be completely replaced.

Mark 2:21-22 (NLT) says, "Who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the wine would burst the wineskins, and the wine and the skins would both be lost. New wine calls for new wineskins."

When I buy a new article of clothing, especially if the cloth has any cotton in it, I will wash it in cold the first time. If washing it with other articles, I will put in a Shout Color Catcher to catch any color that may bleed so that it won't staining my other clothes. After that, I don't necessarily have to worry so much about shrinkage or color bleeding; as long as I follow the label care instructions.

If I had an old garment that had a hole in it, I wouldn't go buy new fabric to patch it with. If I did, then there is that risk that when I launder it, the new fabric would shrink, which would tear away from the old and cause an even bigger tear. Depending on the color and type of fabric of the new fabric, the color could also bleed onto the old fabric, causing a stain. I would end up with a bigger problem than I had to begin with.

Similarly, new wine calls for a new wineskin, because as the new wine expands during the fermentation process, it stretches the wineskin. An old wineskin would burst under the pressure of the new wine. (I had to look that info up!)

These two parables of Jesus teaches that you cannot mix your old life with the new. You cannot accept Jesus into your heart and live a life of faith, while holding onto your past and those things that held you bound. If you try to hold onto ungodly habits, still hang out with people who will hinder your relationship with God, allow guilt and condemnation from past sins to hold you captive; but also try to please God and live your life for Him -- there will come a point where something will give. Your heart cannot be pulled in opposing directions and it not have an effect on you spiritually.

Have you ever climbed through a barbed wire fence? Sometimes one of the barbs may get tangled up on a piece of your clothing, and you get stuck. Can you just stay there, with one foot on one side of the fence and the other foot on the opposite side? No! You're going to get uncomfortable pretty quickly. You have to decide if you're going to go back to where you started or if you're going to go on across to the other side, get untangled, and get off the fence.

It's the same spiritually. You can't be straddling the fence for very long, or you're going to become very uncomfortable very quickly. It's miserable trying to have a foot on both sides: wanting to be assured of heaven as your eternal destination, so knowing you should be committed to Jesus -- but yet, feeling the pull of temptations that the world offers. There comes a point when you have to cross over to either one side or the other.

Where are you at spiritually? Are you like that worn-out, falling down wooden fence that needs to be replaced, yet is propped up by a few new pieces of wood? Are you like that holey garment that needs patched, so you say a prayer and hope for the best -- putting a new patch on an old problem? Are you like that wineskin -- you are trying your best to live for God and want to mature and grow in your relationship with Him; yet your vessel is the old man who is still holding onto past sins and giving into temptation? You are trying to put Jesus into the old wineskin, instead of allowing Him to make you new.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) says, "This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!"

Let go of the old life! Stop looking back and trying to hold onto the past. Get out of that old rut of sin that keeps you stuck spiritually, that prevents you from moving forward. When you confess your sins and ask Jesus into your heart, you then belong to Him. You become a brand new person inside. That old life it gone, a new life has begun. Get off the fence and live that new life in Christ to the fullest! Get as far away from the fence that you can and move towards God!!


There is another verse that says no one can serve two masters. In the business world, I've had several jobs where I report to more than one boss. Now, I have three different project managers, and my group manager, plus several customers who all play the roll of 'my boss'. Fortunately, my group manager has the authority to trump any of the others. And the owner of the company has the ultimate authority.

Once in a while, different 'bosses' tell me to do different things. They don't usually contradict each other too badly, except when they each want me to devote 40 hours to 3 different jobs in the same week. Normally, I have the freedom to pick which ones to put first. I can do that because I usually know what my group manager would pick (he usually tells me which are priorities). That doesn't mean I always pick right.

We know that God will ultimately defeat Satan. That makes Him the ultimate authority. Until then, we are still free to pick whom we will obey. We usually know God's will. But it's still up to us to chose.


Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken

4-6 boneless chicken breasts

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Juice from 1 lime

1 jar Salsa

1 package taco seasoning

Place the raw chicken breasts in bottom of the slow cooker. Cover with the other ingredients. Cook for 3-4 hours until chicken is tender and will easily shred, using 2 forks.

This can be served by eating in a tortilla, like a taco. It can also be served over tortilla chips.

Can add shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole, or sliced avocados as topping.


Four years ago, Jon and I were in Celle, Germany.... work for Jon, pleasure for me. I wrote something most days on Facebook to document our trip and to allow family and friends know what we were doing and/or seeing. Celle is an old city, and one of the few that suffered no damage during WWII. Our hotel was directly across the street from the old town center, so every day while Jon was at work, I would enjoy walking around. It was amazing! There was an old church, which had been there for 720 years, where services are still held. It was always open, so I would go over every morning and sit inside the church to pray and just think. Here is one of the post I made on FB after one such visit to the church:

Walked around the Farmers Market again this morning. Went into several shops and looked around. I also went back inside the church and sat for a while. It may be very beautiful and have a lot of detail, but there's something about that church that has captured my heart. I get very emotional every time I go inside and sit. It has been there for 720 years!! I wonder what the people were like who have sat in those pews; how many millions of prayers that have been prayed in that church; how many tears have been cried; how many celebrations and weddings there have been there; how many funerals; I think about the people who went there to pray during times of war, not knowing if they or their loved ones would survive or not knowing whether or not their town would be bombed that very day or the next week, etc. It's very overwhelming for me. And yet today, I can sit in that same church in those same pews and pray to the very same God that they did, and He hears my prayers. And someday in heaven I will have the opportunity to meet the people who have worshipped in that church over the past 720 years. How amazing is that?!


The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion. - unknown


We love you!

Loretta & Jon