Someone In Your Corner

For Jesus is not some high priest who has no sympathy for our weaknesses¬†and flaws. He has already been tested in every way that we are tested; but He emerged victorious, without failing God” (Hebrews 4:15, The Voice).

I saw something I thought was beautiful yesterday at the Youth Evangelism Conference last night.

After the invitation, I saw a young girl talking with an older woman, probably a youth leader or a youth parent. The young girl was obviously upset about something and crying and the woman was giving her best sympathetic ear.

That may not sound like much to you, but it spoke to my heart.

I’ve been in places before where the one thing I needed was to know that someone was in my corner, that someone believed in me enough to listen to what I had to say, crazy as it may have been.

Sometimes, you may not even want solutions. You just want someone ¬†who will listen without judgment and who can say, “I know exactly what you feel because I’ve been there.”

The good news possible is that I have a high priest who understands. You have a high priest who understands. Jesus has experienced everything you and I go through, yet without failing like you and I sometimes do.

The best news is that Jesus isn’t someone who feels bad for us, which leaves two people feeling bad. He’s actually able to do something about it (credit to Mike Glenn for that one).

He’s actually able to take those stupid mistakes and bad decisions and to turn the outcome into something glorious. He’s more than able to redeem a life previously wasted and without meaning and make it count. Make it shine.

We have a High Priest who specializes in second chances and do-overs. That’s what I’m thankful for again tonight.

PS My time volunteering at the YEC was a blast (as usual) and God willing, I plan to be back next year for what I think will be my sixth year. Or maybe seventh. I’m really not good with the math.


Out Among the Stars

“Oh, how many travelers get weary
Bearing both their burdens and their scars
Don’t you think they’d love to start all over
And fly like eagles out among the stars?”

I had Johnny Cash keeping me company on my drive home from work today. Not literally, as that would be a bit creepy.

I had a CD of his that I checked out from the library. It’s an album of previously unreleased material that Cash recorded back in the early 80’s. I don’t know why these songs didn’t see the light of day until recently. I’m not a music exec.

I do know that the song “Out Among the Stars” spoke to me, particularly the chorus.

How many out there are carrying burdens and scars from a lifetime of things they did and things done to them? How many cry out incessantly for a chance for a do-over?

The beautiful thing about the Gospel is that it is the Gospel of Second Chances and Do-Overs? When you belong to Jesus, what you did in the past no longer matters. It’s who you are now that counts. It’s WHOSE you are now that really counts.

Sure, past actions have present consequences. But those actions don’t have to define you or the choices you make today. They don’t have to determine your future.

There’s a line in an old Switchfoot song that I love: “Every breath is a second chance.” That’s what Jesus offers. Not just one second chance, but multiple do-overs. In fact, each new morning is a clean slate filled with God’s new mercies and lovingkindness.

That’s what I cling to these days. That’s what I hold on to on those dark and dreary days.

By the way, that Johnny Cash CD is worth picking up if you haven’t purchased it already. Just follow this link:

Confession Session #3,908: Friendships And All That Other Stuff

I’ll be the first to admit it. I’m not the best at relationships, especially friendships. I tend to either be overwhelmingly friendly or awkward. I think most people have a low Greg-tolerance and after they’ve reached that limit, they have to go home and wash their hair or feed the dog.

I know I overstay my welcome in certain conversations and the other person finally has to go home, put on some Barry Manilow, and lie down for a while. FYI: you can tell me in a nice way to shut up and go away if you need to.

I think I’ve lost a few friendships through being too weird or too goofy or too me. And some relationships have simply run their course and they have served God’s purpose in my life (and hopefully, the reverse).

In the past, I might have obsessed over those and wondered what I could have done differently. I might even have made a fool of myself trying to extend a friendship beyond its natural life.

After all that, I confess that I’m much better than I used to be. I try not to talk so fast and to not always talk about me. I’m learning to listen and not always be thinking about my next response. I’m growing in grace.

Jesus truly has been the friend that’s closer than a brother and he’s teaching me how to be a better friend. A better prayer warrior. A better empathizer. And hopefully, one day, a better husband and father.

So, I’m asking for grace from you. And I’m trying to give it in those moments when you need it. All the best relationships are based on grace and forgiveness and second chances and do-overs.

I believe that what goes around comes around. I also believe that the way you treat others indicates your love for God. People who love God and are secure in God’s love for them can’t help but be loving and forgiving and generous in their relationships.

I know a little of me goes a long way sometimes, so I’ll try not to overstay my welcome. And I’ll give you space when you need a break from me, ’cause there are times I need a break from me (said jokingly).

May we each be Jesus to each other and help each other as we all try to figure out this crazy life business. We really do need each other.