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Monthly Archives: June, 2014

Not Such a Bargain?

June 26th, 2014 Posted by Susan's Musings 8 comments

A thin line separates a prudent shopper from a miserly consumer.  I fear that I sometimes straddle this line. Over the past few weeks, a number of events made me re-examine my shopping habits.

My favorite clothing store, Coldwater Creek, announced that it is closing. Considering that my closet is packed with clothing purchased via their physical or online store, this news was most unwelcome. I love their selection, ambience and customer service—and yes, I appreciate their sale prices. Could it be that those very sales helped bring about their demise? Did those regular sales and discounts accustom their customers to wait for the prices to go down and only purchase then?  Had they charged more and had I been willing to pay more, would I still have a store to patronize?

An article I read added another twist to my education. It pointed out that I (and others) benefit from the existence of a local, Sabbath-observant supermarket that carries a plethora of kosher items, many of them specialty ones. Its bakery, meat and fish departments are under Rabbinical supervision, supplying our family with an incredible array of kosher choices.  Often, their prices on standard items are higher than at the regular chain stores. It is tempting to go into that store for specific kosher items while picking up flour, canned goods and other daily fare for less money elsewhere. Yet the store that supplies so many bonuses I appreciate is closed one day a week and on Jewish holidays, meaning that they need to make their profit with fewer hours in which to do so. If I value their being there, shouldn’t I show my gratitude by happily paying a bit more even if I can get those things for a little less elsewhere?

The third prick to my conscience was an offhand comment by one of my daughters. She mentioned that a small, local boutique she frequented had accidentally neglected to apply a discount on one article. She decided not to return and show them their mistake. As she explained it to me, she knows how hard it is to run a business today and she wants them to succeed. She chose not to be persnickety over the few dollars they technically owed her.  

She is right. Intentionally or not, government today makes starting, having and staying in business incredibly difficult. Entrepreneurs face formidable obstacles.  Many people happily pay a little extra in order to ‘buy local,’ indulging their belief that buying locally grown produce is more virtuous than buying superior produce trucked in from another state and sold for less.  Similarly, many people purchase certain expensive cars because they promise to be ‘good for the environment’.  It is not uncommon for us humans to pay for things we consider important.  

The temptation to look online for the lowest possible price is ever-present. While I like getting the most for my money, I benefit from start-ups, from marketplace competition, from innovation and from niche providers. I need to appreciate those things with my money as well as with my words. Being frugal and thrifty is admirable; I needed the reminder not to be tightfisted and cheap.

 

Do you think of yourself as frugal? Do you ever spend more than you need to and consider it money well-spent?

Perhaps Love

June 25th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

If you know what your car engine sounds like when running normally, you will instantly pick up early signs of mechanical problems. If you know the sound your baby makes when he’s hungry, you will immediately recognize a cry of pain. Departure from pattern is a warning sign.

In forensic accounting, false expense submissions are often picked out because the culprit tends to make up numbers randomly. However, in the real world there are predictable patterns regarding the occurrences of various digits (The interested can pursue this phenomenon by exploring Benford’s Law). Departure from predictable patterns alerts us to something possibly significant.

The Lord’s language, Hebrew is a beautifully precise language, often conveying not only the meaning of the word but also the emotion behind the meaning.

Consider, for instance, the word “perhaps”; on the surface, a simple word. It indicates that something may or may not happen.

Now consider these two sentences:

Looking at the man she loved, Jane wondered to herself, “Perhaps he will propose to me this evening.”

Tom ruefully contemplated his dismal sales reports and realized that perhaps he faced termination.

From the point of view of Tom and Jane’s emotions, those two underlined words mean two very different things. Jane hopes that something wonderful will happen while Tom dreads the possibility of something awful happening.

However, in Hebrew, there are two different words for perhaps. The word ULai is used in circumstances when the speaker devoutly wishes for the event to occur, while the word PeN is used when he hopes it won’t.

Perhaps (ULai) there are fifty
righteous people in the city [of Sedom]…

(Genesis 18:24)

…now let us go there, perhaps (ULai)
he’ll tell us the road…

(I Samuel 9:6)

And from the tree in the middle of the garden, God said you shall not eat of it or touch it, [or else] perhaps (PeN) you’ll die.  
(Genesis 3:3)

Come let us deal wisely with him
[or else] perhaps (PeN) he’ll multiply and
when war comes he will join our enemies…

(Exodus 1:10)

Once we understand this difference, we can be alert for any examples in Scripture when it appears that the wrong word is being used.

When Abraham dispatches his Chief of Staff, Eliezer, to find a bride for his son, Isaac, we spot such an unexpected usage.

Abraham directs Eliezer to travel to his birthplace and bring back a bride. Eliezer reasonably inquires what is to be done in the event of a problem.

…perhaps the woman will not be willing
to follow me to this land…

(Genesis 24:5)

Since this would be a most undesirable outcome, we’d expect Eliezer to have used the word PeN. Yet, inexplicably he says ULai.

This informs us that deep down, Eliezer desired his mission to fail. He subconsciously hoped that no girl would come back with him to marry Isaac.

Why? Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that Eliezer had a daughter of marriageable age. He was harboring the hope that his master, Abraham, would say, “Eliezer, you have a lovely daughter, I have a wonderful son…”

When Abraham didn’t suggest this, Eliezer forlornly held one remaining hope. Perhaps no woman would be willing to accompany him to Canaan. Perhaps then Isaac would marry his daughter.

Abraham’s next words dashed his hopes by making clear that Eliezer’s daughter was not an option for Isaac.   It is to the credit of Eliezer that after this big disappointment, he nonetheless carried out his mission faithfully and successfully.

Once we know the general rules, any departure from those rules attracts our attention like a flaring Fourth of July firework rocket arcing through a dark night sky.

For this reason it pays to know the rules; knowing how the world REALLY works makes it easy to spot exceptions. Spotting exceptions helps provide early warning of forthcoming problems whether in business or in social interactions. Forty rules of how the world REALLY works form the basis of my new book Business Secrets from the Bible-Spiritual Success Strategies for Financial Abundance. Join my many friends who have already elevated the trajectory of their earnings. Loving money is a bad idea but making money is wonderful. I’d like to see you (or someone you care for) make more money. Can I send you your own copy of Business Secrets from the Bible?

Business Secrets from the Bible

 

Guest Post: National Patricide by David C. Stolinsky

June 19th, 2014 Posted by Susan's Musings 7 comments

My father was a respected physician and family man. He died when I was 19. All my life I have tried, with varying success, to follow his example. But what if I couldn’t remember him? I would have no role model to emulate. I wouldn’t know where I came from. Even worse, what if someone told me my father was a convicted felon who abandoned my mother and me? My whole life would have been affected for the worse. Isn’t this exactly what our so-called educational system has done, and continues to do, to our young people?

Ask young people about George Washington. They may know something about the Revolution and the founding of our nation, but they are almost sure to say, “Washington owned slaves.” They are unlikely to add that he freed them at his death. The negative aspects of the man obscure the positive aspects − that’s what young people have been taught.

Ask about Abraham Lincoln. A young person is likely to say he was a racist. Yes, Lincoln did express what would be considered racist views by today’s standards. But he held the Union together in a Civil War that was fought over slavery, and as a result slavery was ended. Lincoln was shot for his efforts − doesn’t he deserve some credit? But not to our “educators,” who teach that the Civil War was “all about economics.” Do you know 360,000 people willing to die for “economics”? Do you know even one? This notion is not just unhistorical; it is irrational.

By the way, how many European leaders were named Abraham? And how many European nations have towns named Bethlehem, Nazareth, or Bethesda, or parks named Zion? I can’t think of one. Unlike other nations, America is based on Judeo-Christian values. But we’re in the process of forgetting them, too.

The use of Old Testament names is not just a fad. Americans used to know, quite clearly, that they were naming their children after biblical figures. If you doubt this, listen to the words of a popular Civil War song in the North, written in response to Lincoln’s call for volunteers:

We are coming, Father Abraham,
Three hundred thousand more.

Note that Lincoln was not referred to as “President Lincoln,” or even as “Honest Abe.” No, he was called “Father Abraham,” a clear reference to the biblical father of the Jewish people, and the first standard-bearer of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Ask a young person about Grant. If you are lucky, he will say that Grant is the man on the fifty-dollar bill. But the general who led the Union to victory and thereby ended slavery? Are you serious? Or ask about Jefferson. If you are lucky, the young person will mumble something about “the wall of separation between church and state.” But the author of the Declaration of Independence, our founding document, which declares that our rights come from God, not from the government? Are you joking?

If I forgot my wedding anniversary, my wife would remind me − and in a not very pleasant manner. But what if she forgot as well? Superficially, there would be no problem. We would spend a day like any other. But on a deeper level, there would be a serious problem. The fact that we both forgot our anniversary would indicate that our relationship had already suffered serious deterioration. Our amnesia would be symptomatic of a more basic problem.

What is true in personal life is also true in national life. Our national amnesia is related to deterioration of our society. The amnesia is not spontaneous. It is induced by our educational system. From primary school to middle school to high school to university to graduate school, students are subjected to a curriculum filled with socialism and pacifism, but bereft of anything remotely resembling Americanism. Ask anyone under the age of 40 when is Washington’s or Lincoln’s Birthday. They will be unable to tell you, or even to guess why you asked.

If I develop amnesia, other people may be able to remind me of what I have forgotten. But what if everyone around me also has amnesia? Not only will they be unable to remind me of what I forgot, but they will not even be aware I have forgotten anything. Mass amnesia is serious precisely because it is unrecognized, and an unrecognized condition is never remedied. No one knows there is anything to remedy.

When Michelle Obama said that this is the first time in her adult life she is really proud of her country, she did not misspeak. She revealed how she, and many people like her, really feel.

Elections every four years, with peaceful change of administrations?
People of all ethnic, racial, and religious groups serving in our armed forces and risking their lives for their country?

The firefighters and police on 9/11?

The passengers on Flight 93?

The 14 Medals of Honor awarded for service in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Over 60% of the recent Nobel Prizes in Medicine, when we represent only 4% of the world’s population?

The soil of Europe and Asia soaked with the blood of hundreds of thousands of American troops who died to remove the shackles of tyranny from other nations?

All that is nothing to be proud of?

The author of one of the most widely used textbooks of American history, the late Howard Zinn, claimed that America has done more bad than good in the world. I heard him say it. Europe under the Nazis? Asia under the Japanese fascists? To him, that would be preferable to a strong America.

Just as I would have been damaged if I were taught that my father was a good-for-nothing or a criminal, so our young people have been damaged by teaching them that their founding fathers were worthless at best, and actually destructive at worst. But the damage is not irreparable. Our curricula must be freed from anti-American bias.

We do not want chauvinism, but to avoid it we need not teach anti-Americanism. We do not want super-patriots, but we need not try to produce no patriots at all. Our enemies have fanatical beliefs, but to avoid fanaticism we need not try to destroy our own beliefs. We are engaged in a culture war with extremist Islam.

The first rule of gun fights is bring a gun. The first rule of culture wars is bring a culture. Those who are trying to tear down our culture are, in fact, trying to disarm us.

These people assume that if they dismantle American culture, and Western culture in general, the vacuum will be filled by a beautiful, nebulous, homogenized mixture of all the cultures of the world. But this mixture does not exist.

What will fill the cultural vacuum is the primitive, seventh-century culture of extremist Islam. This is already happening in Europe, where polygamy is now accepted. What’s next? Kicking blind people with guide dogs out of cabs and shops? Wife beating? “Honor” killing of daughters and sisters? Genital mutilation of girls? Is that multicultural enough for you?

Presidents Day is merely an excuse for a three-day weekend. We need real national holidays that remind us of those who sacrificed so much to bequeath us the freedom we enjoy, but no longer appreciate. We need to reestablish the traditions that remind us of who we are and where we come from. We need textbooks that are not anti-American and even anti-freedom. We need William Bennett’s “America: The Last Best Hope” and Schweikart and Allen’s “A Patriot’s History of the United States.”
Patricide is killing one’s father. It is a terrible crime. National patricide is defaming our national fathers. It is a terrible mistake.

The author thanks Rabbi Daniel Lapin for pointing out in “America’s Real War” that defaming one’s father can damage one’s whole life. Contact: dstol@prodigy.net. You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.

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IncomeAbundanceSet, March 2014

Trust, Ownership, Decency

June 17th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Is it a coincidence that countries with healthy Jewish populations tend to enjoy far greater economic success than those without?  King Edward I expelled the Jews from England in 1290.  For about two hundred years prior, England’s economy had been growing dramatically with Jews playing a significant role in the development of silver mining, currency and banking.  With their departure, the English economy went into decline.

In his wonderful book, History of the English Speaking Peoples, Winston Churchill explains that as bankers and lenders Jews held the mortgages on a great deal of English land on which they had loaned money to the crown or aristocratic landowners. Edward I realized he could transfer all those instruments to himself by expelling the Jews.  He did exactly that. It may have helped Edward but it hurt the country.

Almost immediately, English economic vitality plummeted.  Twenty five years later there was a terrible famine that decimated the population.  For about 350 years England’s economy languished, only to recover when Oliver Cromwell encouraged Dutch Jews to move to England.

A similar scenario played out when Spain expelled its Jews in 1492.  After centuries of glittering economic prowess, Spain went into decline. Though the expulsion order was officially revoked in 1968, until very recently Spain never invited its Jews back and it remains one of the most conspicuous failures of the European Economic Union.

The truth is that when countries expel Jewish Biblical values by adopting socialism, either through revolution as in Russia, China, and Cuba or through a sad slide as in a number of European countries and perhaps even the United States, their economies fade and fail just as surely as did those of England and Spain.

Conversely, countries that reopen themselves, at least on some level, to Biblical values, inevitably see their economies begin to thrive.  Think of South Korea.  China has definitely become more open to Christianity with over a hundred million Christians and, not surprisingly, a rapidly growing economy.  The jury is still out on Russia but I am seeing a new openness towards Christianity and Judaism in that troubled land so I expect to see their economy starting to improve quite noticeably.

In my resource package, The Income Abundance Set, I explain this far more extensively and with far more attention to practical suggestions for your life.  However, for the purposes of this Thought Tool let’s examine three characteristics that traditional Jewish values impart to the culture in which they live.  Trust. Ownership. Being nice.

Trust:  When a Jewish merchant in Amsterdam shipped goods to a co-religionist in Paramaribo he could be confident that when the ship arrived, he would be paid.  When Quakers established Barclays Bank in London at the end of the 17th century, people deposited money because Quakers who adhered to Biblical values were trusted.

Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that the first question we will all be asked when we arrive in judgment before the Heavenly Throne is “Did you conduct your business affairs in a trustworthy way?”   Trust flourishes among those guided by principles such as exact weights and measures from Leviticus 19, leading to prosperity.

Ownership:  The Torah has many laws that only make sense in a culture that allows individuals to own property.  For instance, we are warned against infringing on the boundaries of our neighbors’ property. (Deuteronomy 19:14). The Tenth Commandment prohibits us from even wanting other’s property.

Though King Ahab angered the Lord greatly by worshiping the Baal idols he was stripped of his kingdom only after he stole Navot’s vineyard.  (I Kings 21:19)

Decency: Admonitions that include being kind to the orphan and widow, not gossiping and being grateful are incumbent on each individual. Not surprisingly, people prefer dealing with others who treat them kindly, courteously and considerately.

Business means serving others in exchange for their payment and being in business incentivizes us to become a little more trustworthy, more aware of the importance of people’s possessions, and a little more kind, courteous, and considerate.  Truly, if we are faithful to God’s system, doing well is proof of doing good.

Right now the most devastating obstacle to increasing your income is when you subconsciously buy into today’s relentless cultural message that having a lot of money is evidence that you’re not a good person.  The only way to expiate your sins, they tell you, is for the government to take more of your money in an effort to introduce the fairness that your success violated.  Unless you can extirpate this belief from your heart, your efforts will be handicapped.   Please get hold of my Income Abundance Set while there’s still time to make 2014 a great year.  Discover ways to counter the anti-business psychology while learning dozens of real-life business applications from ancient Jewish wisdom that have helped Jews succeed at so many different times and in so many different places.

IncomeAbundanceSet, March 2014

The, um, Prize-Winning #&%^# Debate Team

June 11th, 2014 Posted by Susan's Musings 10 comments

Would you consider a resume sent as part of a job application to be business correspondence? So would I. Yet when my husband asked a young woman who responded to an ad for assistance why she did not capitalize (the word) “I,” she replied that she would know to capitalize it on work documents. He did not find that a convincing enough answer to offer her an interview.

The ad we placed, which prompted the above response, specified that we were looking for someone who pays meticulous attention to detail and English grammar. While we met some highly qualified and impressive people, the bulk of the responses inspired the immediate use of the delete button. The “i” was so egregious that we couldn’t refrain from asking about it, but it was by no means the only blatant error.

One woman insisted that she would be a valuable ‘edition’ to our team. More applicants than you’d believe didn’t read the ad carefully enough to note that a cover letter was required. Yet, all of the resumes touted their college education. How can anyone graduate college without learning the basics of acquiring a job? Quite easily—in fact, it seems that many colleges almost seem to set that as a goal.

If you haven’t seen the video (warning: offensive language) of the 2014 national debate competition won by Towson University, you should. If you are human, it should make you angry. If you are American, that anger should notch up to rage. As a female, my indignation ratcheted up to incensed. If I was black, I think my blood would boil. 

Did these girls win because of racist or sexist judges? Were these judges convinced that black females could never win on merit, so they held them to an inferior standard?  Perhaps the most intriguing question is why these girls sound more intelligent when interviewed (by a reporter who has no veracity after pretending theirs was a real accomplishment) than when they debated? Is the whole thing simply a “we hate America and traditional values” farce similar to President Obama being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize shortly after his election? 

I honestly don’t know. I do know that billions of dollars are being spent on providing a college anti-education for young people. My own children have told me that they came out of college feeling less intelligent than when they went in. Here’s a tip. Should you see a job opening placed by my husband and me in the future, play down college and emphasize your real-life skills.

I had to chuckle when I realized that our featured resource
this week was Perils of Profanity: You Are What You Speak.
Surely, someone should buy a truckful (bulk discounts available) and give them out at graduations around the country.

Peril cover 143

Fight the Friction

June 10th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Place your hands together, palm to palm, in a praying gesture.  No problem, right?  Now rapidly rub them backwards and forwards pressing them against each other as you rub.  Feel the heat?  What if you tightly clasp a rope and quickly pull it through your hand? You’ll quickly raise a heat blister. Friction, which produces heat, is how nature resists movement.

Nature makes it easy for things to remain stationary. The problem, however, is that in order to make an often reluctant earth yield her bounty to man, we need to find a way to leverage our efforts.  The first way we did so was by means of mechanical devices, the most important of which was the wheel.

Nobody knows whether the first wheel was a slice of tree trunk or a stoneroller.  Either way, it needed to be placed on an axle which had to rotate.  The problem, as we discovered when you tried out my recommended experiments, is that when things move against one another heat is produced.  The axle assembly on Fred Flintstone’s car in real life would quickly heat up and catch fire.  In fact, rapidly rotating a wooden rod on another piece of wood is exactly how scouts are taught to light fires.

flintstones

The problem of how axles could rotate rapidly without being destroyed by the heat they generate was solved by a Welsh engineer in 1794.  Early in the industrial revolution, Phillip Vaughan came up with what we call a ball bearing. The axle no longer rubs against whatever is holding it in place.  Instead it rides on a number of smooth steel balls rotating with it.

Motion is vitally important and quite indispensable but it is hard to achieve.  This principle of physics has its spiritual parallel.  We humans find it easiest to remain in place just where we are.  In other words, we find it easiest to tell ourselves, “I am what I am.”

A father who has regular temper outbursts towards his children can change.  A wife convinced she feels no love for her husband can change.  An employee frustrated by unfulfilled entrepreneurial dreams can change.   While it is true that spiritual friction resists our progress, God always encourages growth and beckons us toward movement and change.

How do we make change happen?  Well, to begin with, consider the power of the written word.  Of all creatures, only we humans express abstract ideas by means of signs and symbols that our hands carve into stone with a chisel or place on paper with ink.  Those very words can inspire vast armies of people, even those not yet born at the time of writing.  Those words possess the power to affect the cosmic balance of the universe.  But most importantly those words impact the life of he who wrote them.

So, yes, write down your goal in a clear, specific and measurable way.  For instance:

“For the rest of today, every time I feel anger rising in me, I will pause and stay silent.

“Regardless of how I am feeling, once a day this week, I will act towards my spouse in a loving way.”

“I will exchange an hour a day of web surfing for reading a good book on starting a business.

Here’s the most important secret:  Putting that goal down by writing with a pen on paper is itself the first action step in achieving your desire—and any action step unleashes miraculous power.

Think of Israel, terrified by the approaching Egyptian army.

When Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites lifted up their eyes and …they were very afraid and…cried out to the Lord.
(Exodus 14:10)

You’d have thought that at this dramatic moment, God would have told Moses to lift his rod and split the sea.  Instead we read,

God said to Moses, Why do you cry to me? Direct the people of Israel to march forward.
(Exodus 14:15)

God told Moses to lead the people right into the water of the Red Sea before He split it!

Only once the Israelites were in the water—and ancient Jewish wisdom records that it reached up to their necks—does God instruct Moses:

Lift up your rod and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it so that the people of Israel will go on dry land through the sea.
(Exodus 14:16)

And so it was. The miracle of the splitting of the Red Sea was brought about only once the people had done their part. Until the Israelites took the courageous action of stepping into the very waters of the sea, Moses stretching out his rod would have accomplished nothing.

So it is with us too.  Taking an action, a real action, unleashes miracles.  Don’t just sit around and pray, said God. Excellent advice.  If you want to change something in your life, take an all-important action, starting with writing down your plan.

There is another equally important aspect of words. We can do more for ourselves as well as others by limiting ourselves to words that heal rather than harm and that help rather than hurt.  Equip yourself with the tools necessary to modify your speech patterns.  Enjoy the benefits, both social and professional, of more effective communication free of distracting negativity.  Join the thousands who have successfully moved forward with Perils of Profanity—You Are What You Speak, a one hour audio CD. Act now!

Perils of Profanity - CDs coming out of case                 Available at www.rabbidaniellapin.com Order now sign
by  mail or download

and on Amazon.com            amazon 64x 64 cropped

Missing the Road

June 5th, 2014 Posted by Susan's Musings 10 comments

I have been searching in vain for a support group catering to the geographically challenged. Moving to a new city a few weeks ago means that I often have no idea where I am. His voice filling with desperation my husband beseeches, “Don’t you know that P___ Street is east of us?” I don’t even know where east is.

Slowly, I am recognizing certain streets and landmarks. I am beginning to find my way to the supermarket and library without aimless meandering. Even as I do so, I know that I can’t be alone. Understandably, a support group would be difficult to organize. By the time the participants found their way to the venue, the meeting time would be over.

Nonetheless, my desperate driving as I seek in vain for a friendly street sign is a human experience I share with others. As someone who sometimes dreams of writing a book, it is with a sinking heart that I acknowledge that someone, sometime, will seize on my ‘disablity’ and flesh out a character whose thoughts and actions will mimic my own. 

This has happened to me before. I had a jolt of recognition once upon reading a novel and seeing my own emotions aptly caught. One of the characters had submitted an article to a competition and then decided that it was so awful that she didn’t even look up the results (where she, of course, was the winner). The first time I submitted an article to a magazine and months of silence passed, I began to worry that perhaps they didn’t want such an atrocious writer to read their periodical. After all, my submission wasn’t even worthy of a rejection letter! I was on the verge of embarrassedly canceling my subscription when a check arrived in the mail with an advance copy of the issue that included my story.

So, I do expect to meet my geographically challenged counterpart in a story one day. Why don’t I use my ever-so-human predilections myself to write a novel, winning fame and fortune? It is for the same reason that many of us have great business ideas that we don’t execute or envision adventures that never actualize.

Thinking of ideas is easy. Executing them is not. As I visualize myself writing in a cozy ship’s cabin with exquisite views through the portholes, someone else is getting up at 4 a.m. in a dingy apartment and writing for two hours before starting their day. As Thomas Sowell writes, when we don’t accomplish what we wish, we are usually the reason.

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This Week’s Featured Resource

Business Secrets from the Bible, 350x533

 

How to Meet Angels

June 2nd, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

You may be one of those people to whom interesting things keep happening.  I hope you’re always saying things like, “You won’t believe what happened to me today!” or “Guess who I ran into yesterday.”  Friends sometimes ask you, “How did you get that interview?” Or, they exclaim, “I can’t believe that you found one of those!”  Your response is usually, “Well, let me tell you what happened.  There I was just walking along, when all of a sudden…”

On the other hand, you might be another kind of person.  In the quiet of the night, you find yourself asking, “How come nothing lucky ever happens to me?”  This type of individual goes through life mostly as a spectator, watching from the sidelines as others drink fully from the well of life.  He certainly never meets an angel.  In fact, he might not recognize one if he saw one.  Well, here’s good news:  we’re going to explore some ancient Jewish wisdom on how passive people can transform themselves into participant people.

Chapter 13 of Judges describes a man named Manoach (‘ch’ as in Johann Sebastian Bach, the great German 18th century composer) and his wife, who were unable to have children.  An angel appeared to her saying that although she was barren, she would conceive and bear a son.  Therefore, he explained, she was to drink no alcohol and eat nothing unkosher. Furthermore, these rules would also apply to her son who would be a Nazirite for God. Additionally he should never cut his hair because his destiny was to save Israel from the Philistines.

Manoach’s wife told the remarkable story to her husband, referring to the angel as a “man-of-God.”  She also omitted the part about their son saving Israel from the Philistines.  Instead of sweeping his wife into an embrace at the wonderful news, Manoach prays to God asking Him to send back the man-of-God to teach them what to do with their future son. (Judges 13:8)

We can almost see Mrs. Manoach rolling her eyes as she thinks to herself, “We already know; the angel told me what to do and I just told you.”

Yet, God did send the angel back for a second visit. However, once again he appeared only to Mrs. Manoach.  She ran to find her husband and he hurried after her to where the angel was.  Clearly, Manoach had no idea this was an angel because he asks, “Are you the man who spoke to the woman?”  (Judges 13:11) We are struck by Manoach’s detachment from his wife. Not only is he never near her when the angel appears but he refers to his wife as “the woman.”

Manoach addresses the angel, of whose true identity he is utterly oblivious, saying, “May your words come to pass, and if they do, how should we raise the child?”   I am sure that the angel rolled his eyes as he wearily said to Manoach, “I’ve already told her everything she should do, but okay, I’ll repeat it for you.”  Manoach then offered the angel some lunch but the angel demurred and the verse plaintively informs us, “…Manoach did not know that this was an angel of the Lord.” (Judges 13:16)

Only when the angel leaps into a flame and ascends heavenwards, does it dawn on Manoach that this must have been an angel. Rather than rejoicing, he tells his wife that having seen an angel of God they were about to die.  She dismisses her husband’s foolish fears assuring him that if God wanted to kill them it would have happened already.

Deep study of Scripture depends upon many aspects of the Lord’s language—Hebrew.  Most notably we must always be aware of what people’s names mean.

In Hebrew, Manoach means resting, taking it easy, putting out no effort or energy; in other words—passive.  What a perfect description for the man whose wife, rather than he, always saw the angel.

Scripture provides three tips to help us avoid becoming a Manoach.

1.   As a boy I watched many of the 1966 World Cup soccer games.  I have never forgotten players like Pele of Brazil and Eusebio of Portugal.  I remember being astounded at how they were always exactly where the ball was going to arrive.  They were always at the heart of the action.  Manoach was always AWOL.  Be where the action is.

2.    Manoach didn’t respect his wife, referring to her as ‘the woman’ and distrusting her by asking for the message to come to him directly.  Clearly, she didn’t feel comfortable sharing with him that it was an angel and that their son would save Israel from the Philistines. If you don’t respect people, they won’t feel comfortable sharing information that could bring you into the game.

3.  Cultivate courage.  Don’t react to the angels in your life with fear.  God is not trying to kill you. He’s trying to get you to live.  Fully!

In few areas is this more helpful advice than in the area of making money.  Generating significant revenue requires one to be in the heart of the game, respecting all, and being courageous.  The Bible contains many more spiritual success strategies for financial abundance.  I have packed forty of them into my brand-new book Business Secrets from the Bible which is helping thousands of my friends move themselves and their families forward into a new economic reality.  It will do the same for you and for those to whom you present it.

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