An Open Heart

Recently, it seems, many of my devotional readings have mentioned having an open heart. When that happens, I understand it to mean God is speaking to me about that subject. It’s something I need to ponder and study. So, what does it mean to me to have an open heart?

First of all, an open heart is generous. Open to others, compassionate, self-forgetful, unselfish. When my heart is open this way, I may be hurt — generosity is not always repaid or appreciated.

Secondly, an open heart is vulnerable. It means being willing to share my struggles and failings. This is also a risk, because others may think less of me when they see me as I really am.

I have to admit I have trouble with these things. I don’t share easily because — well, I’m selfish. I want to be sure I have enough before I give to others. I also like to be in control. I don’t want to admit that sometimes, I’m not! I don’t like to ask for help, because that makes me weak. If I tell the truth, I don’t even like to ask God to help me.

Some of these things may be nature, and others nurture. I’m an introvert, a private person. I was raised to take care of myself without complaint. However, much of it is just plain sin. I don’t open my heart because I don’t trust God.

So, this month, I’m praying for God to give me an open heart. Maybe this post is a start.

“I shall run the way of Your commandments, For You will enlarge my heart.” Psalm 119:32

For more posts about trusting God see:

Never Satisfied

Trust God’s Process

When Things are Unclear–Trust God

Some Lutheran Humor

The Bible tells us that laughter is good medicine (Proverbs 17:22), so it’s not surprising to find that borne out by science Laughter is, indeed, good for our health. It reduces stress, fights against depression and sorrow, fosters a positive outlook on life, and relieves tension. Laughter also lowers blood pressure, and impacts the cells in your body, preventing disease and setting you up to live long and strong. Although our annual church conference is serious business, there are moments of humor, and I thought I would share a few of these with you today. Maybe you will find a way to pass these small jokes along and make someone’s day a little merrier!

Q: Who was the best businesswoman in the Bible?

A: Pharoah’s daughter. She went to the Bank of the Nile and drew out a small prophet (profit).

The Bible tells us: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” Proverbs 27:17, but sometimes this process creates a lot of sparks!

Of course, there were many more puns, jokes and good-natured teasing, as we went about the discussing matters that were important for our entire church body. The WMF (Women’s Missionary Federation) sang their report, which was hilarious. It does us all good to remember that is part of life, too, and a bit of it, used correctly, can defuse a difficult situation, lift spirits, and inspire hope. As Christians, we have lots to be joyful about, so don’t forget to laugh!

“Our mouths were filled with laughter,
    our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
    “The Lord has done great things for them.” Psalm 126:2

For more about laughter see these posts:

Laughter in Heaven by Barbara Jean Meter–Book Review

More Easter Laughter

Take Time to Laugh

Some Quotes about Fatherhood

“A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.” Billy Graham

“One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters.” George Herbert

“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” Harriet Beecher Stowe

“The father of godly children has cause for joy. What a pleasure to have children who are wise.”—Proverbs 23:24

If you have or had a good father, give thanks! If your father was not a good role model, remember that we all have a gracious and perfect Father in heaven. Happy Father’s Day!

For more about fathers see:

Show Me the Father–Movie Review

Children of the Heavenly Father

Modern Parents Vintage Values by Sissy Goff and Melissa Trevathan–Book Review

Waiting is Worthwhile

I mentioned in my previous post that I recently attended a Via de Cristo retreat weekend. At the beginning of each weekend, participants are told, “don’t judge the weekend until it is finished.” Things that seem uncomfortable or maybe confusing become clear as time passes. In other words, WAIT, get the full picture before you make a decision.

I realized that this is good advice about many things in life. When we prejudge a person, or an event, we often get it wrong. I can think of people who didn’t impress me at our first meeting, who became friends with much to appreciate. I have had work environments that started out feeling uncomfortable but became nurturing with time and attention. In the book of John, we read:

“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment. “John 7:24

In other words, don’t make a determination when the information you have is superficial. Be patient. Sit with it a while. See how things play out. Pray for God to open your eyes so that you can see His will. Keep your heart open, too! Our Lord is full of surprises! Don’t miss out on a blessing because you didn’t wait.

“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. “Psalm 27:14

For more about Lutheran Via de Cristo see:

Vineyard Via de Cristo — Some History

What’s My Ideal?

A Via de Cristo Prayer of Confession and Forgiveness

Waiting Requires Patience

We Americans are not known for our patience. We’re fans of fast food; we covet faster internet service; we expect to be able to connect with our loved ones instantly. We’re used to doing things on our schedule at the time we choose. However, the Bible tells us we need to wait for God’s timing, and this requires patience. a fruit of the Spirit.

How can we grow this fruit in our lives? Here are some suggestions.

  1. We must endure. Often waiting requires some kind of suffering, which is unpleasant, even when that suffering is more mental than physical. However, we are promised that that there will be a reward:

“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5

2. That brings us to the second thing we can do. Hope. We must remind ourselves of God’s promise:

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

3. Which means we must trust in that promise, even when we don’t understand.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. “Proverbs 3:5-6

4. We also must not sit idle. There is always work for us to do, even when we are in “waiting” mode.

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. “Galatians 6:9

Hmmm… that seems to take us back to endurance again!

Waiting may be uncomfortable, but it isn’t bad. It will teach us patience; we will learn to trust God; and in the end we will see that His timing is the best.

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” Psalm 27:14

For more about patience see these posts:

A Different Kind of Fast

Have Patience

Producing Fruit

Aging With Grace by Sharon W. Betters & Susan Hunt — Book Review

In our culture we all want to live to a ripe old age — but avoid the aging process.  In this book, the two authors provide hope right from the Bible — hope that as we age, God still has a plan for us.  We have valuable contributions to offer.

“The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon….they still bear fruit in old age;  they are ever full of sap and green.”  Psalm 92:12,14

The world tells us that old age is an enemy, but according to the Bible, it’s to be coveted:

“Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.”  Job 12:12

Using the examples of Elizabeth, Anna, Naomi and others, the authors paint a vivid picture of how older women can still be used for God’s glory.  They weave in their own stories and the stories of other contemporary older women who have “aged with grace.”  As we grow older spiritual activities and disciplines may change, but they don’t have to end.  We can be mentors, work with smaller groups or individuals, or become prayer warrior or caregivers.  Most of all, we become more aware of our need to depend upon God, rather than our own strength.  We can look back and gain perspective on how God has been at work in our lives.

There are questions for reflection and discussion at the end of each chapter.  It could easily be used as a resource for small groups, or for private journaling.


If you would like to purchase this book follow the link below:

Aging with Grace: Flourishing in an Anti-Aging Culture | Crossway

The Lutheran Ladies received a free e-copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review.  Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CPR 255..

For more posts about aging see:

Growing Older

Reimagine Retirement by C.J. Cagle– Book Review

A New Chapter


A Time to Die

I’m up to the third chapter of Ecclesiastes in my lectio divina study and the phrase that catches my attention is that we all have “a time to die.”  Ecclesiastes 3:2.  Death is all over the news these days — what celebrity has contracted the virus and died;  what the death toll is throughout the United States and the world;  what are the biggest “risk factors” that increase your odds of dying from this scary disease.  People are worried about what to do.  Should we wear masks all of the time?  Only inside?  Only in crowds?  Should we refrain from as much social contact as possible?  And now, a new question — is it safe to get the vaccine?

According to the Bible we all have a time to die, and God is the one who is in charge.  Here are some verses that support this conclusion:

“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”  Matthew 6:27


“Since his days are determined, and the number of his months is with you, and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass….”  Job: 14:5


“My times are in your hand …”  Psalm 31:15

Now I am not saying we should take crazy risks, or pay no attention to doing things that are healthy and increase your ability to stay well.  Caring for our body is part of good stewardship — it is one of the things God has given to us.  I am saying it’s wrong to get obsessed or fearful about the many things that can end our lives.  This is simply another way of turning in upon ourselves and it has a name:  SIN.

There is also an outer limit to the normal human life span:

“The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty ….” Psalm 90:10

Guess what, I am already there, so any days I have left are indeed a gift from God!  At this stage of my life I can easily say along with Paul, “to live is Christ, to die is gain.”  Philippians 1:21.  I’ve accomplished the major tasks of life, and when I die, I’ll be free of all my aches, pains, and worries as I enjoy the presence of God.

There is one piece of advice that God gives about extending our life:

“The fear of the Lord prolongs life …”  Prov. 10:27


“And if you walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments… then I will lengthen your days.”  1 Kings 3:14

So, wear your masks;  avoid large gatherings, but don’t worry. Don’t give up attending church and studying the Bible;  don’t give up serving others. The best way to stay healthy is to fear God and follow His teachings.

For more on the book of Ecclesiastes see:

Hoping for Something New?

Ecclesiastes Chapter 2 — What Stands Out

Ecclesiastes 3:3





Are You Angry?

Almost everyone seems to be angry theses days.  Many are angry about how the pandemic has been handled — some think we should have more restrictions, others think we need less. Rioters are angry with the police and the government.  There are racial and political tensions.  Family members unfriend one another on Facebook because they don’t agree on certain issues.  Even church denominations are splitting and suing one another.  What’s the world coming to?

Maybe you are angry as well, and you may even have good reasons for the way you feel.  However, the Bible has quite a bit to say about anger, and here are a few examples:

“…. let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires.”  James 1:19-20


“A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.”  Proverbs 29:11


“Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!  Fret not yourself;  it tends only to evil.”  Psalm 37:8

In plain words, anger makes us foolish, and leads us into other sins.  When we allow free rein to our anger, we damage ourselves and others.  It tempts us to become unkind, disrespectful and even violent.  It stirs up trouble and disrupts peace.

So, if you’re angry, take a breath.  Stay calm. Practice patience.  Think things over.  Don’t respond quickly.  Don’t dwell on the disagreement.  Pray for insight.  Respect the views of others, even if you believe they are wrong.  Anger does not promote righteous behavior, and it separates us from God and our fellow men.

“Be angry and do not sin;  do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”  Ephesians 4:26-27

For more on the topic of anger see these posts:

A Fruit We All Need — Self Control


When There is No Clarity Exercise Charity


Praying Women by Sheila Walsh — Book Review

Subtitled, How to Pray When You Don’t Know What to Say, this is a good, basic book on prayer.  There are quotes by well known Christians at the beginning of each chapter, and sprinkled throughout — I love quotes, so this was a plus for me.

In the introduction, Sheila lists some of the comments she received from her Facebook readers about their experiences with prayer.  Many expressed the same struggles, which most of us encounter:

  • I get distracted or bored
  • I just say the same things over and over
  • Why bother if God knows everything?
  • Is God really listening?
  •  I never get an answer
  • I’m too depressed to pray
  •  God must be angry at me

In each chapter, Sheila walks readers through some of these issues, using examples from her own life.  At the end of every chapter there are prayer reminders and a prayer that suits the theme of that section.  I especially enjoyed the chapter on praying with the words of Scripture, which focused on Psalms.

Her conclusion?

“God is not looking for perfect words or perfect people–He longs for our ongoing daily presence in prayer and worship.”

VERDICT:  4 Stars.  Not extraordinary but solid, biblically based and an easy read.  Most will enjoy it and come away with some useful suggestions for improving their prayer life.  One caveat– Walsh is a Baptist and speaks of “accepting Christ” which contradicts Lutheran theology.

God’s Light

In a previous quote I mentioned that God is light.  That made me think about all the ways that God provides light to His people.

The Holy Spirit “enlightens” us.  When Jesus was about to leave the disciples, He told them:

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” John 16:12-12

It is the Spirit that opens the Scripture to us and allows us to understand God’s Word.  The Word itself is described as light is this passage:

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path ” Psalm 119:105

When we read God’s Word and the Spirit enlightens us, we will be guided into a way of living that is righteous and helpful to us and to others.

Finally God “lightens” our load.

‘Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28

When we rely upon God, when we trust Him to do what is best for us, it lifts our spirits and gives us hope.  We feel lighter because our sins are forgiven.  We know that whatever difficulties we face, they will not last forever (This Darkness Will Not Last).  In the end, we will bask in the light of His countenance and experience His light forever.