Wrestling with Truth — March 16, 2014

goodshepherdOur study in Wrestling with Truth today focused on the Good Shepherd as presented in John 10.

The Good Shepherd theme runs through much of scripture and those who heard Jesus speaking would have been familiar with such passages as Ezekiel 34, Psalm 23, and Isaiah 40.

Ezekiel makes clear that God is the Great Shepherd and that He gives shepherding responsibilities to many along the way throughout history.   However, the point of Ezekiel 34 is that the designated shepherds have not been adequate and have not been obedient.  Instead they have been selfish and have used God’s good gifts for their own purposes.  God will reassert his power and authority.  In the New Testament, Jesus is the Good Shepherd, who comes to fulfill the plan of God for His people.  He is the great corrective to this misappropriation of the shepherds along the way.

John 10 tells us that there is one true entrance into the sheepfold and that is by means of the one true Good Shepherd.   Christ’s shepherding actions bring us into the true and right relationship with God, the Great Shepherd.

Some of the class members shared the significance of the shepherd concept in their lives:  experience with the character of sheep and how we are like them and need guidance and care; the fear of sheep when approached by another person and/or voice; Psalm 23 as a blessing and encouragement and as a saving experience during troubling times; knowing God’s shepherding care in times of difficulty and in times of challenging decision-making; and the wonderful use of the shepherd concept in teaching children confidence in God and His saving and loving power.

Two scriptural reminders of this important picture:

  • Isaiah 40:11 (NIV) He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.
  • Hebrews 13:20 (ESV) Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

May you know the comfort and guidance of the Good Shepherd in your life this week.


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Yesterday, I was out picking up sticks from beneath the maple trees in the back yard here in Kentucky.

This struck me as a bit humorous.

When I was 9 or 10 years old, one of my jobs was to pick up sticks from beneath the Bluegum (Eucalyptus)  trees on our property in De Deur, South Africa.  My mother used them to start the fire in the wood stove.

The humor to me is that after more than 55 years I am still doing the same thing.  Many things change but a lot are just the same.  The sticks I pick up now go in the trash but once in a while I have used them to start a fire in the fireplace.

Smile.  TLT

P.S.  Joyce is still sewing.  Yesterday she made a cosmetics purse for our granddaughter’s birthday.  Here’s a look at it.IMG_9627

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Recent Creations

ImageWhat do you do when there is no one to tell you what is next on the to-do-list?  When you are totally free to create your own world?  I have this luxury quite a bit of the time and very often what I choose to do is sew.  To me each time is like accepting a challenge—can I really accomplish this project?  It’s also a means of creative expression.  Quite honestly, I’m not very good at independently coming up with original ideas, but I’m very good at following directions!  Yes!  That must be my special skill set.  Give me a recipe or a pattern (or an experiment—this harkens back to my chemistry days), and I can probably come up with something reasonable.  Anyway, I’ve been pretty busy of late with some of these sewing projects and since I like to think they are at least a partial expression of who I am, I’d like to share them with you—so you can know me better.  If you’re interested, please click on https://hillsidelaughter.com/more-new-creations-page-1/ to see a new page.  It contains some of my creations from the last year or so–like the owls to the left.


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Wrestling with Truth; October 6, 2013

RH-NehemiahOnWallOur Adult Bible Fellowship is continuing the study of Nehemiah.  Today we considered Nehemiah 7.

This chapter describes the various families that were a part of the exile and came back to Jerusalem over time.

A very pertinent and helpful devotional from Ray Stedman on this topic can be read at:



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Remembering Momma

I’ve got a home in glory land that out-shines the sun!
Do Lord, oh, do Lord, oh do remember me! . . . ‘Way beyond the blue!

I took Jesus as my Savior, you take Him, too!
Do Lord, oh, do Lord, oh do remember me! . . .’Way beyond the blue!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn September 5, 2013, a small group of family gathered around the graveside of my mother, Ruby Gertrude Tice, to honor her life and to say good-bye.  Momma died on Saturday, August 31.  She was 88.

Momma had Alzheimer’s disease.  It had ravaged her mind and ultimately her body, leaving her totally helpless, but for the support of her family and caretakers, for two years. The disease was long time in coming and it was virtually impossible to separate its effects from the mental illness that Mom struggled with in some measure all of her adult life.

So, in fact, saying goodbye to Momma came/comes with a mixture of very many emotions: relief, sorrow, hope, confusion, and anxiety, to name a few.  Life with Mom has not been easy.  Often over the years she lashed out in anger and bitterness against those she loved.  Yet, so many times, she was eager to show her love in the way she knew best—by giving of herself.  Nobody worked harder than Momma.  Nobody was so careful in spending money—unless, of course, she sensed a real need and then she generously shared from her heart.

Momma’s faith seemed pretty simple:  Love God and work hard to make the world a better place.  But there was little grace—neither for her nor for us.  Her inner emotional turmoil was a burden we all carried and we have spent most of a lifetime “walking on eggshells.”

So how does God make sense of all this?  I have spent a lot of time thinking about this.  I am so glad that God understands Momma like none of us could.  He knows the limitations that early abuse and poverty imposed on her.  He can unravel the confusion of her mind from the intentions of her heart.  I reach out to believe that God has now completed in Momma what he has promised for us all:  He has taken her brokenness, her struggles, her sense of not measuring up, and he has filled all the voids with Himself.  He is giving Momma the love she always craved but seemed unable to receive.

poct sept 13We sang “Do Lord” at Mom’s farewell, as she had requested years ago.  Initially, the choice had seemed a bit odd and childishly simple.  But I think in fact it was very appropriate.  Its truth rings true:  Jesus does and will remember us now and always.  He cares.  Hope lives!

Joyce Thomas

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Wrestling with Truth — August 25, 2013

220px-Nehemiah1The Wrestling with Truth class started studying a new Bible book today:  NEHEMIAH

As we move along in our study, we will note Nehemiah’s

  • doctrine of God
  • passion for Scripture
  • example of leadership

Chapter 1 of Nehemiah outlines THE SERVANT’S PREPARATION:


Nehemiah (in Susa) hears from his brother, Hanani, about the status of things back in Jerusalem.  He hears the sad news of the broken walks and burnt gates.


He is moved to tears and expresses his need of God in prayer.


On their behalf, he confesses the sins of the people.


Nehemiah “reminds” God of the history of His people and His ongoing commitment to them since the time of Moses.


He looks forward to how God is going to work through Nehemiah’s singular gift — “he is the cup-bearer of the king.”

Outline modified  from Raymond Brown, The Message of Nehemiah (Downer’s Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1998) p. 31ff.

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One of God’s creatures

Last night I discovered a large moth affixed to our porch wall.  It was about 6 inches across the wingspan.  I have never seen one like this outside a zoo or museum.IMG_8872

I thought someone might enjoy seeing this special part of God’s creation.

If you like you can click on http://www.pbase.com/m3ling/largemoths and see some similar ones.

My conclusion is that it is a giant silk moth but others may know better.


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Travels – Home

Well, we are home safely!

Here are a couple of final Idaho (or was it Utah)? mountain pictures  to help you remember where we have been, and a version of a Kentucky home song to make you feel comfortable.  Smile.






Here is the song:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DI_dBarT6UY

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Travels — Day 19


Joyce applies Adah’s bright color choices


Jeremy works on new light fixtures


Joyce working on the bright details


Mountains viewed from back yard


Mountains from edge of campus

IMG_8834We are in Idaho for a few days where we are staying with Jeremy and Laura.  They recently bought a house and we are giving some initial assistance to fixing things that need attention.  It has been very hot but the weather seems to be easing.  I have not thought of Idaho as being desert but it seems to survive only on the goodwill of God who sends very occasional rain and the Snake River which provides significant irrigation.  So far Joyce has been painting Adah’s bedroom and I have been helping Jeremy with electrical work as well as minor plumbing.  With the usual and obligatory trips to Lowe’s.

Their house property abuts the Idaho State University campus where Jeremy teaches.  And, over the top of the buildings you can see some mountains from the back yard of the house.

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Travels — Day 16

We are in Ontario, Oregon, on day 16 of our trip. After driving up the Oregon coast from Eureka, California, we stopped at Rockaway beach, Oregon, for two days with Sarah and her family, and then turned inland to Newberg for several days at Sarah and Clint’s home. We picked blueberries, walked in the woods, and played with Kai, our new grandson, born September 2012.

On Saturday, we enjoyed the Newberg old-fashioned parade. On Sunday, we worshiped with the Newberg Friends. On Monday, Evan surprised us with a speedy trip up from Phoenix. We played several family games. These always delight and/or disappoint, depending upon the outcome!

On Tuesday, we set off from Newberg on our way to Jeremy’s home in Pocatello, Idaho, and then back to Salt Lake City for the flight home. We visited Multnomah Falls (impressive), the Pendleton Wool Factory (very interesting), Farewell Bend State Park (nice, but in a ghost town), and the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, up in the bald mountains of eastern Oregon. It visually and audibly described the sacrifice and challenges of the people who traveled the Oregon Trail west in the 1800’s. We passed an immense cement factory and reached 100 degrees on the car thermometer.


Newberg Parade


Multnomah Falls


Pendleton Wool Factory


Cement factory showing austere countryside


Temperature hits 100 degrees


Wool Blankets


Some of the family


Oregon Trail

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