One of the reasons the Jews struggled to accept Jesus as the Messiah was that He didn’t deliver them from the Romans

There’s little doubt that life will drive you towards cynicism. But God’s heart is not even a little bit cynical. So that leaves us with a choice to make moment by moment.

I have recently been pulled into some conversations about what sort of “rights” a would-be father has, but I believe that before we talk about “rights” we need to address “responsibilities”.

1.    Impregnating a woman does not automatically qualify you as a father.  It makes you a sperm donor.  The streets are filled with sperm donors, while good fathers are in short supply.

2.    If you were unable to sustain a meaningful & committed relationship with the mother before she was pregnant, adding a baby isn’t likely to improve things.

3.    If you haven’t figured out how to take care of yourself (i.e. put food on your own table, clean up after yourself, show up to where you said you’d be…), you’re probably not ready for fatherhood.

4.    If your favorite recreational activity is partying yourself into a stupor, you might think about how you plan on handling the child who needs to go to the Emergency Room in the middle of the night.

5.    If you routinely hang out with unsavory characters, you might also consider that you will become their connection to this child.

6.    Being a father isn’t about how the baby makes you feel, it’s about what you bring to the child’s life.  If all you’re looking for is unconditional love, consider buying a puppy instead.

7.    A child is not a possession, a trophy, or some sort of validation of your manhood.  It’s a lifelong commitment to pour out your soul for someone else.

8.    Your child will be far more impacted by what you show it than what you tell it. 

9.    Fatherhood is not about what it adds to your life, it’s about what you’re willing to sacrifice. 

10.  While a child growing up without a father creates an emotional void, a child growing up with a bad father creates pain and destruction.

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world My servants would fight. But, My kingdom is not of this world.” He didn’t just say these things; He lived as though it were true. He was born in a nation that had been overthrown by a hostile foreign government, which was being oppressed by its own corrupt local government (Herod), and being exploited by the religious system that was supposed to be helping them stay connected to their God. When people began to recognize Him as the Messiah, they fully expected Jesus to do something about all that, but He conducted Himself as though His kingdom was not of this world. It baffled and frustrated His followers, but He was trying to lead them to a higher reality. He still is.

The Seen realm is the enemy’s canvass, but in the Unseen realm, every knee bows and every tongue confesses. (2Cor. 4:18)

None of what follows here is particularly revelatory, and I’m sure that we can all think of somebody else that these apply to.  But the value is in looking at our own failing relationships, and seeing ourselves in some of these things.  Just because we understand the issues in principle doesn’t mean that we are somehow immune to them.

Common Characteristics that Poison Relationship

·         Controlling:  Attempting to control people and situations is exhausting and frustrating for the one who endeavors to do so, and oppressive for the one who is being herded.  It’s a lose-lose situation.

·         Callousness:  Most often it isn’t that people don’t care at all, it’s that they are too absorbed in their own feelings to seriously consider anybody else’s.  Relationships that only flow in one direction tend to dry up quickly.

·         Contentious:  Dealing with someone who is triggered (i.e. offended, hurt, fearful…) by every little thing is like trying to put out a forest fire using buckets of creek water.  At some point you just have to step back and let the fire burn itself out.

·         Complacent:  The silent killer of relationship is simply taking people for granted.  Forgetting to cherish them for who they are instead of resenting them for who they’re not.  Generally, it’s not until we lose them that we realize how special they were to us.

·         Conceit:  Being around a person who is either the hero, or the victim in every one of their stories is like listening to a song on “repeat”.  Even if the tune is catchy, after about the third time, you’re ready to puncture your own ear drums.

Until we get “Self” in check, unity is off the table.

We can easily get into the weeds with our theology and doctrine, but unless we get this one thing right, the rest won’t matter.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind (Luke 10:27)

Love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:39)

People will know you are my followers by the way you love one another (John 13:35)

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar (1 John 4:20)

love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be childrenof your Father in heaven (Matt. 5:44-45)

These three remain: faith, hope & love.  But the greatest of these is love (1 Cor. 13:13)

Love one another, as I have loved you (John 13:34)

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself as love (Gal. 5:6)

If I have not love, I have nothing (1 Cor. 13:3)

If I have not love, I am nothing (1 Cor. 13:2)

Darkness will not run from our hatred of it,

but it has no choice but to flee as we embrace the light

Investing hope in deeply flawed individuals,

Who are working within a corruptible system,

Is a recipe for disappointment