First Impressions


“You can’t judge a book by its cover, but it does tell me whether I want to engage it or not,” my sister stated on Facebook the other day. I have no idea what she was referring to, but I have an idea it wasn’t a book. It made me chuckle. I had just had a run in with someone who claimed to be a Jesus follower but from the attitude she was wearing, I wasn’t so sure.

Clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 13:14

What does it mean to be to be clothed in Christ?

This may be where people find difficulty. Do we know what Jesus looks like? We use a lot of statements about what the Bible says, but how often do we think about how Jesus interacted with the world around Him? When was the last time you investigated the Scriptures to see how Jesus did things? I must admit I spend more time in the instruction found in the letters of the New Testament texts than in the actual stories of Jesus showing us how it’s done. How about you?

To know what it means to clothe yourself with Christ, you will first need to know what He looks like. Let’s take a peek. Our very first glimpse of Jesus acting on His own sets the stage for the rest of us. Start here by reading the story in Luke 2:41-52. I’ll wait.


In this tiny bit of Scripture, we get to see a snippet of His childhood. Right from the beginning, Jesus is demonstrating to us the importance of seeking God. Here we find Him in the temple courts. Jesus went to the place where He was sure to find what He was looking for. I know, I know, you’re right when you point out that Jesus was always in God’s presence since He was God. But He was also a man, living a man’s life. If we look at His life lived here on earth, we can learn how to live ours better. In this case, He shows seeking is good but there’s more. Jesus also submitted His life to God, His Father. His first recorded words reveal His heart in this when He said, “Didn’t you know I had to be about my Father’s business.” Luke 2:49 KJV


Along with seeking and submitting, Jesus was also listening and asking questions. In my last post How’s Your Spiritual Life Going, we investigated the importance of taking time to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to His teaching. Jesus goes a step farther here and shows us to ask questions as we search for wisdom. There is a young woman in my Bible study group who is always full of questions. I love this girl and her bravery to investigate what she does not know. As a new Christian, there is much for her to discover in God’s word. Let’s face it, there’s much for all of us to discover no matter how well versed we think we are. When we stop asking the questions, we will also stop growing. Questioning is a sign of the desire to move forward and grow.


Finally, Jesus shows us the importance of obedience. This story ends with Jesus living in obedience. Our obedience to the Lord is key to living a life that wins God’s approval and is attractive to those around us. Proverbs 3 puts it like this—“My son, do not forget my teaching but keep my commands in your heart for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you. Bind them around your neck, write them on the table of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.” Proverbs 3:1-4 NIV

Do you see something familiar here?

The passage in Luke ends with these very words. “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52 NIV It all came from seeking God out, learning all He could from Him, and living according to His ways.

In a sense, this story begins with the submission of the heart and ends with the practicing of submission in life. If we follow Jesus’s lead, our outside will tell the world exactly what’s on inside. To look like Jesus, we can’t just believe in Him. We must do what He did. The result will be a beauty the world will want to engage.

Those who say they live their lives in God should live their lives as Jesus did.
1 John 2:6 NLT

What is your favorite story about Jesus? What do you learn from His example that can become a part of how you live?



A Smart Heart

Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him. James 1:5

Wisdom: having the power of discerning and judging properly as to what is true or right.


In a life-changing moment, God appears to a very young King Solomon and says,

“Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” 1 Kings 3:5

Boy, is this ever a loaded proposition. Our minds start to run wild with all the possibilities. I wonder if Solomon’s did too before he came upon the correct answer, or maybe God had prepared his heart for this very moment. No matter what the case may be, when it came down to it, he knew what he was going to need to fill King David’s shoes effectively.

“Now, LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. . .So, give your servant a discerning heart. . .  ~ Solomon; 1 Kings 3:6-9

A discerning heart=Wisdom.

Out of all the things that can be asked of God, a discerning heart perhaps is the most useful.  Solomon knew he needed God’s wisdom to lead the people entrusted to his care. Good choice, considering he could not successfully rule over God’s people without God’s ways.

But Solomon is not alone when it comes to needing wisdom in life’s choices. It is essential to us, too. Jesus told us the following—

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find;  knock and the door will be opened to you.
Matthew 7:7

Our job may not be as complicated as managing a whole nation, but God’s wisdom will certainly come in handy towards living the way He knows is best.

Jesus went on to say in Matthew 7:8— “For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” The beauty of belonging to God is we can seek His wisdom in all matters. We don’t have to guess about things. We have access to the best information there is available to navigate through life.

Don’t miss that little bit of James 1:5 that says, [God] gives to all generously and without criticizing. This may be important for some to hear. Let me say it again. If you lack wisdom, ask God for it. He gives it generously and without criticizing. He is not sitting up in heaven somewhere thinking, OMG, she should know this by now! He wants us to ask. He tells us to ask, promising He will deliver an answer to our question.

Towards the end of this passage in Matthew 7, Jesus concludes His thoughts about asking for wisdom and other applications for living well with this—

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
Matthew 7:24


Asking for wisdom is simply a smart thing to do. It builds a steady life through our reliance on God. It shows our confidence in His ways, and reaffirms our commitment to belong to Him. And when we belong to Him, discernment and good judgement are only a question away. Just ask.

Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and incomprehensible things you do not know.
Jeremiah 33:3 NET

Victorious Hearts

The end of the soccer season comes this week. The last game will be played and the cleats will be put away. I’m not sure what the ranking is for my grandson’s team. I think it’s somewhere near the bottom. But it is not the final outcome of these games that will measure the success of this team. It will be the heart and perseverance and team work that made them true winners.

At one of their games last week they were set to play the number one team. In past years, it was a day of annihilation with the ending score double digits to zero. After the first few goals, our players would begin to waver, slow their pace and then eventually give up. Their team would become just a group of individuals taking matters into their own hands trying to somehow diminish the loss.

But this year was different. The young men and women of the team took control of the field keeping the opposition at bay. They moved together as an ominous force working as a unit. There was one point when things began to turn against them that they started to falter in their resolve, but the coach cheered each play with praises reminding them they were good players and he was proud of them.

In the end, the final score was not what they would have chosen but they were champions. They played the game in the best way possible using everything they had learned from their coach. The outcome was not in their hands. The thing they did have control over–the way they played the game—they did very well. Each one was a winner as they stepped off the field.

This made me think about how we conduct our prayer lives. We have been coached by Jesus himself on how to pray. He even demonstrated it to us in his resolve to look to the Father every time He came up against something difficult. We need to follow his example even when things go in a direction we would not choose or expect. The outcome is not up to us. The way we pray is.

Prayer can be a funny thing. To some it may be a going-through-the-motions cadence that remains the same day-after-day.  Not really heartfelt rather a fulfillment of a duty.  Others implement the laundry list approach asking God to act, supply or rescue on their behalf. In each of these methods, they simply pass the ball to God with the thought that He will make the big play and save the day.

Perhaps there is another possibility to consider. One that is much more integrated– A team building of sorts. In this method of prayer, an exchange of information and encouragement takes place. This is the ” Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you” approach. It is a cooperation in which we work together with God to reach the favored outcome–being like Jesus.

Second Corinthians 9:8 tells us, God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.  God has given us just what we need to play out this game of life and do it in victory.

That you may excel says it all. You will surpass others, be superior—win—just because of what He has given you. With that in mind, ask and receive. Pray with the knowledge that victory will be the result, thanking God for all he has provided. Your perspective in those tough moments of life will never be the same. Teamwork with God produces a force to be reckoned with.

I love how my grandson’s soccer team demonstrated that attitude by playing as if they had the win in sight. Although they knew first place was a long shot, they still ran the field with victorious hearts. The real trophy was to be seen in their character.


Your victory brings him great honor,

and you have clothed him with splendor and majesty.

Psalm 21:5 NLT

My grandson, Simon, continued to play for his school’s soccer team into his senior year. Their team advanced in standings each year eventually coming in third at the CIF playoffs. They played like champions to the end. At the present, Simon, serves in the United States Marine Corps. He is hoping to tryout soon for a position their soccer team. No matter the outcome, I will be proud of him. I know he has what it takes to be victorious in all life’s endeavors.