“One Essential Virtue of Nobility”

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As I have pondered nobility and pursued what it looks like in my life, I came upon many virtues that seem to flow from true noble character: humility, fair-mindedness, chivalry, and courtesy quickly came to mind. But of all these virtues, I yet found another virtue essential to nobility: active listening. As we deal with those who attempt to shout us down, I find that being an effective active listener an essential virtue of nobility.

Active Listeningb

Active listening is more than merely giving comfortable eye contact  or being able to repeat back what someone has just said. It is—as one of my former college students defined: “Staying on the other person’s agenda.” I am going to pursue what my friend finds interesting, ask questions to clarify words and their meanings as s/he intended them.I must remind myself: Stay on their agenda. All this has a noble goal: Coming to a deeper understanding of my dear friend—beyond their words. And in order to do such active listening, I must also demonstrate humility, fair-mindedness, and the like, don’t you agree?

Then I applied this to the Bereans (of our main text), and, yes, to my own life, and discovered something rather intriguing: I cannot say I actively listen to the Lord, if I do not actively listen to my fellow sister or brother. Ouch! Would you agree that I demonstrate my Love for Jesus by being an effective active listener with fellow believers?

If I take nobility to this level, do you think it naturally follows that I not only demonstrate noble virtues with my brothers and sisters (as well as those outside the fold—since God still so loves them), but also to the very One Who manifests the noblest of virtues towards me: Gracious Love? (Perhaps, then, I could stay on His agenda, eh?)

As I begin this New Year off on the “right” foot, will you join me in being a better listener to the Lord’s Words—like the Bereans—as well as to those around me—whether they have an active relationship with Jesus or not? Your thoughts….

Main Text: — Acts 17:11-12 (NIV84)— 11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12 Many of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger— James 1:19 (NASB95)

Then Jesus said, He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”— Mark 4:9 (NIV84)

let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance— Proverbs 1:5 (NIV84)

Heavenly Father, as You fill me with Your Holy Spirit, open my ears to hear the wonders of Your Praise. Lord Jesus Christ, continue to transform me into an effective active listener, so that my Life may manifest Your Noble Character. In Your Name, Amen!

Pastor Mike

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“Restoring the Sacred in Our Culture”

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Date: 04-21-15

The Big Idea: Keeping anything sacred in our culture requires personal determination and dedication.

My Thoughts: 

Have you notice that our culture is becoming more and more common and, well, quite frankly, vulgar?  F-bombs  have broken the decency barrier. What was once rated X and R is now PG-13, tv14 or tvma  —and it is on prime time TV for anyone to see, let alone young impressionable minds!

What does it mean to hold something sacred? Good question. If I may, I believe keeping anything sacred in our culture requires personal determination and dedication. And this determination and dedication follows at least five guidelines.

Allow me to present at least five guidelines for regarding something sacred: First off, to hold something sacred it to separate it from common use. Secondly,  to hold something sacred is to treat “it” with respect and dignity. Thirdly, that which is sacred is used only for special occasions. Fourthly, to hold something sacred is to limit its use to the “few”. And the last guideline for regarding something sacred I like to consider is to actively guard or protect “it” from being violated or soiled…. (Of course, there are many more guidelines that can be noted, but let us focus on these few.)

As an example, let us apply these five guidelines to a wedding dress. How can we hold this wedding dress sacred? (1) The dress is separated from common use; she did not wear it to her bridal shower or bachelorette party. (2) The dress is treated with respect and dignity; it is hung up in a special place in her room and prior to the wedding. (3) It is used only for the “day”, that special occasion; (see number 1’s comments). (4) This dress is limited to just the bride, and afterwards, if she chooses, she may pass it on to a daughter or granddaughter; and lastly (5) The dress is placed in a protective garment bag and/or a sealed box. This dress is considered sacred by the bride. She most definitely would not let her 4 year old play with it in the sandbox….

Okay, if a wedding dress doesn’t work for you, how about that special fishing rod or that lever action Winchester 32? Are these not used only on special occasions, and then kept in a case protected for that moment when you pass them along to your son or grandson? (or daughter, etc.?) Yes, these items are sacred, too, for the same guidelines that deem something sacred are followed and these are most definitely treated with respect and dignity….

So, lifestyle worshipers, what can we do to restore the sacred in our culture at large, especially when it comes to marriage, sex, and human life? How would you apply these five guidelines to such institutions, events, and people like these? Your thoughts?

Main Text: — Nehemiah 13:6b-9 — 6 … Some time later I [Nehemiah] asked his [the king’s] permission 7 and came back to Jerusalem. Here I learned about the evil thing Eliashib had done in providing Tobiah a room in the courts of the house of God. 8 I was greatly displeased and threw all Tobiah’s household goods out of the room. 9 I gave orders to purify the rooms, and then I put back into them the equipment of the house of God, with the grain offerings and the incense. [NIV84]

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

   Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. — 2 Corinthians 7:1 (NIV84)

  Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. —1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV84)

   Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure.  — Hebrews 13:4a (NIV84)

Heavenly Father, forgive me for treating common those things which You have deemed holy and sacred. Lord Jesus Christ, empower me to restore the sacred in my life. In Your Name, Amen.

Coach Mike

“Best Ceremony Ever”

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Date: 04-15-15

The Big Idea:  Do you feel ceremonies have a place in the Kingdom of God?

My Thoughts: Probably the most breathtaking ceremony I have ever attended (besides my own wedding) was Central High School’s JROTC Rifle Drill Team Ceremony, in which now Capt. Jamie (Daugherty) Johnson performed. The precision and the pageantry were just outstanding; the honor and dignity legendary.

Lifestyle worshiper, have you attended a ceremony that just took your breath away? While we’re talking about ceremonies, do you feel they have a place in the Kingdom of God? Your thoughts….

Main Text: — Nehemiah 12:27 —  At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres. [NIV84]

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. — 2 Timothy 1:6-7 (NIV84)

   The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.   —Titus 1:5 (NIV)

 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.   — Acts 14:23 (KJV)

 Lord Jesus Christ, give me a proper perspective of the place ceremonies have in Your Kingdom. In Your Name, Amen. 

Coach Mike