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Friday, May 8, 2015

Acts, Chapter 10, verse 22
They answered, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, respected by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to summon you to his house and to hear what you have to say.”

Cornelius was a mensch. That is to say a person with high integrity and honesty.

The other day, while going through my personal notes, I ran across some notes I had taken on a lecture on life’s most important learning’s and I thought Cornelius was most likely a master of these points.

·         Be a Mensch.
·         Never stop learning.
·         Love and be loved.
·         Don’t be afraid to take risks.
·         Set the example.
·         Take care of your health.
·         Take care of your family.
·         Watch your mouth.
·         One person can make a difference.
·         Life is a test/challenge; live it!

In today’s book study of Character is Destiny the 1st President of the United States is McCain’s example of a man who demonstrates for us the characteristic of SELF CONTROL. Self-control is the ability to control one's emotions, behavior, and desires in the face of external demands in order to function in society. (Matt DeLisi)

George Washington like Cornelius was a warrior and a mensch. George Washington was a self-made man who learned to govern himself before he governed our great country. Washington was a passionate man by nature yet he was famous for his reserve and graciousness to others. Washington worked on himself very hard to control his temper and to not be sensitive to criticism.

It was a lifelong struggle and at times he was given to fits of anger.  So much so the Indian name for Washington was “boiling water”.  His passion was a two edged sword that either cut for him or against him. 

His passion was also the source of his great courage. History records his fury in battle where he wore out two horses and stood in defiance of withering fire and having his coat tore by four musket balls. Washington did not just tell his men to stand fast and face the enemy but set the example; leaping headlong into battle and the men followed.

Washington disciplined his passionate nature with iron will and self-control. Washington wrote, “Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect, to those that are present” and, “Labor to keep alive in your breast the little spark of celestial fire called conscience.”

He strove to be a man of unquestionable dignity and manners. He was modest and wore clothes that were fine and neat but never showy. He was consciously groomed and was seldom discourteous anyone, of higher or lower station in life. He knew his strengths as well as his weaknesses; there was no hubris in him.

He understood the nature of his countrymen as well as he understood his own. He knew we are all flawed, that we must always be alert to the danger of ungoverned appetites, and must strive to control and improve our nature. He understood his country at its birth needed a leader of towering honor, wisdom, and selflessness, whose appearance must fit the role as well as his character, did. And through the constant application of his self-control, he inhabited that role as no one has again, and became, in fact, the father of our country. He imprinted his character on his nation, and in that sense we are all his descendants, a people famous for our constant struggle to improve. We are never so removed from the failings of our nature that we cannot stand more improvement, but neither are we so removed from Washington’s magnificent example that we dare not dream we can achieve it.[2]

Next week we will be studying the character trait of courage as demonstrated in Edith Louisa Cavell who was a British nurse. She is celebrated for saving the lives of soldiers from both sides without discrimination and in helping some 200 Allied soldiers escape from Germany during WWI.

Courage is the ability and willingness to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty or intimidation. Physical courage is courage in the face of physical pain, hardship, death or threat of death, while moral courage is the ability to act rightly in the face of popular opposition, shame, scandal or discouragement.[1]

[2] McCain, John; Salter, Mark (2005-10-25). Character Is Destiny: Inspiring Stories Every Young Person Should Know and Every Adult Should Remember (Kindle Locations 2167-2170). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.