Bryan’s Gems – ‘It Is Finished”

This one truly is a gem to be shared. I believe you will be blessed.


It Is Finished

Any who have heard the gospel of Jesus Christ know at least in some sense what He accomplished.
He died at the hands of our fathers in order to free us.  It was a gruesome death.  Prior to dying on the cross, He suffered torture, humiliation, and shame.  Worst of all, He became sin for us. 

Here’s what the gospel of John tells us about what He did when He realized His mission had been accomplished:

John 19:28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, ” I thirst!” 29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. 30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ” It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

He took a drink and passed into death.  I don’t know about the rest of you guys, but this passage of John always had a sense of a feeling of relief in it.  Not just relief from the physical and emotional pain of the crucifixion, but relief in having accomplished a monumental task.  But He was God, in the flesh, so why would He be relieved that it was over for any reason other than being released from the pain?

Sometimes I think we get so caught up in the God-likeness of Jesus that we forget that He was, and is, a man.  His favorite title for Himself was Son of Man, after all.  That’s no coincident.  In order for Him to be fully God and fully man, He’d have to have a soul.  Perfect in every way, yes, but a soul none-the-less.  Jesus was fully lead by the Holy Spirit and obedient in every way, but because of His soul, He suffered like we do. 

Don’t believe me?  Consider the following scriptures:

Matt 26:36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, ” Sit here while I go and pray over there.” 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. 38 Then He said to them, ” My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”

He was in so much intense turmoil, in fact, that He asked The Father if there were any way “this cup” could be taken away from Him:

Luke 22:41 And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, ” Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”

Scripture goes on to mention that Jesus was so completely distressed that He started to sweat blood:

Luke 22:43 Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

This is actually a real physical condition.  It is brought on by extreme levels of stress.  Jesus was so stressed by what was about to happen that even an angel that was sent to strengthen Him couldn’t relieve the stress.

Have you ever had to face something so stressful that you sweat blood?  How about something so stressful that you couldn’t sleep or eat?  Maybe something that made you sick to your stomach?  We all know stress to varying degrees.  There are even some who have sweat blood like Jesus did.  The closest I’ve come to that kind of stress is running a 3.1 mile race. 

I ran cross country races as a freshman and sophomore in high school.  I found that, while I had the physical frame for it (lanky), I wasn’t very well conditioned to running.  Maybe I was too skinny.  I ended up at the end of my sophomore year with stress fractures in both shins yet still able to run a mile on a track in 5 minutes flat.  What I lacked in physical ability, I made up for with heart.  You see, I never really had any sense of worth until I discovered running.  It was the one place, the one sport, where tenacity alone could see you through.  I resolved to prove myself worthy, no matter the cost.

I trained hard.  I gained in strength and endurance.  But it didn’t matter how much I had grown physically, cross country running is a mental sport.  You can only go as fast as you are willing to endure.  The last races of the cross country season are in November.  In the north eastern U.S., that’s not a good season to be running in short shorts and a tank top.  By the first quarter-mile mark, your skin is screaming in pain.  Your eyes, nose, throat, legs, lungs, and heart will quite literally burn for upwards of 17 minutes.  That’s a long time to remain focused on a goal in the face of overwhelming pain.

Passion will push you through pain.  When your entire being is saying, “STOP NOW, WE’RE DYING!!!”, your heart will respond, “I.  WILL.  WIN.”  During a county title race when I was 15, I learned a great lesson about passion and desire.  I had about 200 meters left to run, was neck and neck with a runner from our high school’s rivals and I was one hundred percent spent.  I was beyond spent.  I was so wrecked by what I had physically pushed myself to that I literally started to descend into self-pity.  I could see the finish line and I could feel the guy beside me start to pull ahead.  “Who cares, let him go.”, I thought.  Then I saw a team mate of mine on the side line of the course, running along side us.  As I looked at him, he screamed “DIG DEEP, SIMMONS”.  I was suddenly reminded that the race wasn’t about me or my pain.  If I stopped now, it was all for nothing.  This got me angry enough to summon strength I didn’t know I had. I found myself suddenly in a full-on sprint.  I passed the guy who was pulling ahead of me and 2 more before crossing the finish line.  Thank God someone was there to catch me.  I remember thinking, “It’s over.  Oh God, it’s over.”  I was relieved, and proud.

For some reason, God related my running experiences with what Jesus did on that last day of His ministry.  Being God, Jesus knew what was coming.  The anticipation of the race was quite literally more than He could physically bear.  Stress hormones were so high in his blood stream that it broke the capillaries in His skin and caused Him to bleed from His pores.  The closest I can come to that feeling is standing at the starting line before a big race, knowing the pain that lie ahead.   I imagined myself on the side-line cheering Him on:  “DIG DEEP, JESUS!!” God showed me that this was Jesus’ big race.  He pushed beyond His physical tolerance and He finished well.  For the first time in my life, I was proud of Jesus, not as the Son of God, but as the Son of Man.


Bryan’s Gems – A Father’s Patience

I re-read this last night. This was the first post Bryan had shared with me. Coincidentally, it was written on my birthday.. how cool. It was neat to read this last night after having had some time to get to know each other better. When you can read a work someone’s written through the lens of relationship, wow, there is just an added ‘something’ that just wasn’t there before. This man has a beautiful and unique relationship with God the Father, and you can truly catch a glimpse of that here. Enjoy and be blessed! 


A Father’s Patience

Have you ever abused the grace of God?  I mean, knowing that it was there and that it would never leave.  That because you know He is never changing and always loving that you could “get away with” something?  Don’t get me wrong, the idea here isn’t to avoid worldly consequences for any sort of action or even heavenly ones.  But I think there comes a time in a Christian’s life when they get really solidified and rooted in understanding His love and grace and it opens up a new facet of relationship with Him.

Let me explain.  In the world we all have fathers.  Many can relate to the idea that, when they were young, they could get away with certain things because of how they knew their father viewed them.  They understood their report with their father or mother, as the case may be.  I’ll never forget the first time I cursed in anger in front of my parents as if it were NOT the end of the world for me.  My parents knew I was overcome with emotion and were willing to overlook my temporary lapse in judgement.

But God is not just any parent.  He is perfect light.  There is no darkness in Him.  Yet He is merciful and long-suffering with us when we are sometimes darkness.  He dedicated His incarnation to that very premise.  Once I learned to accept and depend on the fact that His mercy and love and grace are eternally mine, no matter what I do, then I had to re-evaluate how I live.  I no longer felt the need to beat myself up about mistakes and found that this released me, freed me, to chose better.  There was no pressure.  God was going to love me no matter what.  Something about that freedom makes me love Him and want to do what’s right.

But then one day I got angry with Him.  Not angry with the idea of God.  Not angry with someone else’s idea of God.  I had come to know Him and have a real personal relationship with Him.  I was truly angry with God, The Father.  My Father.  Because I received Him as a real person and entered into a relationship with Him, I started to enjoy some of the dynamics of a real father-son relationship.  As sometimes happens between any father and son, I got angry with Him.  I can honestly say that I lashed out at Him because I wasn’t getting my way.  I wanted to hurt God.

What does any child do when they want to register just how displeased they are with their parent?  They rebel.  I chose to violate my own conscience, to sin, knowing full well that were I to calm down and change my mind (repent, for those of you who only speak christianese), He would offer me only acceptance and love.  And I was so angry with Him and so aware of my eternal place in His heart that I didn’t even think of playing the “I don’t believe in you anymore” game.  We’ve been through that one before;  He didn’t flinch.  So I went out and acted the fool.  Now, what violates my conscience most is going to be different than what violates yours most.  That’s just how it is.  So for the sake of this discussion just imagine what single thing you would be the most ashamed of doing in anger.  Yeah, I did that.

He tried to stop me.  He spoke to me in the usual ways, on all channels, all frequencies.  I responded with, “OH YEAH!!!  WATCH THIS!!”  He gave me no warning.  There was no fire or brimstone.  There were no threats.  He was just calm.  Eventually He stopped talking.  That gave me pause.  But it didn’t give me a stop.  I was still mad and He was going to KNOW IT! 

When it was all over with, I felt like Hell.  I was emotionally bankrupt.  My soul ached.  My body and my spirit were just fine.  Some feelings were hurt but besides that there was little or no wreckage.  It was an odd feeling.  I noticed that He had not only protected me during my tirade but also all of my interests.  There were no discernable consequences!  God says to me, “Son, you have a choice to make now.”  I said, “I know, Dad.”  He said, “I don’t have to explain it to you, do I?”  I said, “No.  I know that I can choose to see what I just did through your eyes or through the eyes of the world.  I know I can be forgiven.  I know you still love me.  I know that this tantrum changes nothing.”  He said, “That’s my boy.  Now come on home.”

Having never done something so wrong for so long presented a dicey situation for me.  Never before had I been so tempted as a christian to condemn myself.  Never before in my life had I ever earned the right to wallow in self-pity, self-hatred, self self self.  But He was speaking to me more than ever.  He kept reinforcing how my life is defined by Him.  How my value is not determined by any single action.  How the torturous death of Jesus was such a high price that I could never make heaven go into debt.  He just kept pouring love and mercy and grace out into my heart.  “My ways are not your ways.” He said.  “Do you now understand that being conscious of sin is pointless?  I have no more anger left to give.  Jesus paid the tab for last night’s behavior.  Should you continue to live in anger at me or anything else, Jesus will still have been sacrificed.  I am free to love you not matter what you do, son.  And you are forever free to receive that love.  I will wait for you.”  In the face of all that, I truly truly repented.  Not just of what I did to voilate my conscience but of even getting angry at my Father. 

But it wasn’t until today, 5 days later, while talking with Him again, that I finally understood what my actual sin was.  The real “issue” to be dealt with, father-to-son was that I had abused His grace.  Had I been aware of grace the night I got angry, I never would have become angry.  And I could probably prattle on and on about how I got so distracted that I missed His grace, but that’s not of eternal significance.  What’s eternally significant for me AND YOU is that in order for me to see grace, He allowed me to abuse it and NOT SAY A WORD about it.  He comforted and consoled and counseled me out of a mire of self-centered pain after I had rebelled against Him in anger. Then He let me believe the matter was settled, that I had learned the lesson, and then waited patiently for it all to dawn on me.  He withheld nothing while He waited.  He gave me full-on revelation this week.  He took me to new heights.  He walked with me and talked with me.  He continued to be my Father.

I purposely abused His grace and His reaction was to give me even more of it.

Bryan’s Gems

Well… it seems I’m starting a whole new category, again, already!! Cause when it rains, it pours. This one is entitled Bryan’s Gems.  Pretty self explanatory.

Bryan is  fairly young in the Lord – if you go by when he actually surrendered his life over to Jesus. But thanks to family inheritance and good foundations (grandparents…you rock!!!), and just who God has created him to be, Bryan walks in a hunger that only continues to grow, a depth of understanding that would rock most people’s minds, and wisdom that swells well beyond both his natural an ‘spiritual’ age. He is constantly teaching me, even when not trying to, just by how he is walking out his relationship with God and man.

 I was just thinking, in the last half hour, how it is that he can teach me so much. Then it dawned on me… what parent, at some point in the early years of their child’s life, doesn’t see the world from a whole new point of view, through the eyes of their child. Maybe it’s a reawakening to old joys long forgotten, or just the uniqueness of who God created them to be.

Enjoy… and prepare to even be rocked to the core…