Cancel Cruise Control

February 21st, 2012 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Have you fallen into any fixed habits? I know I have. I have uttered some phrases so many times on my radio show that they are often the first expressions that come to mind. Not surprisingly, I occasionally overuse them. It is also why I tend to buy the same brand of toothpaste year after year. No, I do not know which brand nine-out-of-ten dentists prefer. My brain just prefers not to have to think about toothpaste brands.

Do you greet customers or clients exactly as you did four years ago? Do you respond with almost the same words no matter what question your child asks? Do you welcome friends with the tired cliché you’ve always used? Do you view a sunrise with habitual jaded indifference? I began by asking if you’ve fallen into any fixed habits, but I already knew the answer. I don’t know exactly what they are, but I do know that you’ve got them.

How do I know? Well, because we all do it. Over the last decade much research has been done on human habits. For instance, a Duke University study concluded that habit rather than deliberation shapes over 40% of the decisions you and I make every day. Both Columbia University and the University of Alberta recently measured the vital role that habit plays in exercising. Massachusetts Institute of Technology identified how our brains convert repeated behaviors into habits thus preserving our real brain power for unpredictable circumstances.

While converting frequent activities into automatic habits is quite natural, that doesn’t mean that it is always desirable. We engage in many regular activities that should certainly not be automated. Many of us are blessed to be able to say “good morning” and “good night” to our spouses every day. That should be personal, authentic and heartfelt every single time. Neither do we want autopilot switched on when we interact with children and friends. What about praying to God each day? Want that to be meaningless rote? And if you do feel that merely mouthing the words today just as you did yesterday is okay, would it be equally acceptable if God began treating you the same way?

Allowing our repeated prayers to become automatic routines is such a real danger that God explicitly warns against it. Regular Thought Tool readers will remember this rule of Ancient Jewish wisdom; any word repeated exactly seven times in a passage is the crucial word in that section.

Leviticus chapter 26 contains horrifying details of the consequences when God’s covenant with Israel is shattered. The word repeated exactly seven times is KERI. (Leviticus 26:21, 23, 24, 27, 28, 40, 41) It means casual, random and mindless. These verses indicate that of all the damaging results of relating to God with unthinking casualness, the worst is that He subsequently relates to us in exactly the same way. Obviously God intends us to exert effort to ensure that our relationship with Him remains forever fresh, vital, and genuine.

In exactly the same way, we should constantly struggle to relate authentically to God’s other children be they family or friends, customers or clients. It is fine to drive your regular commute on cruise control and it is fine to pick your toothpaste out of habit but it is really not so wonderful to relate to human beings in that way.

Instead, try to delight the people with whom you interact regularly with a fresh comment or a novel service. Look at the world around you with renewed appreciation. While we’re at it, praying deliberately and thoughtfully would also be an improvement. One of my pleasures is helping everyone study the Bible with deeper understanding. Many of us default to viewing God’s word as we did when we were children. I am particularly excited about my audio CD, The Ten Commandments: How Two Tablets Can Transform Your Life, on sale this week. Its shocking revelations will dramatically change how you relate both to God and to those around you. This CD converts familiar text into a magnificent manual for human connection. Don’t be surprised if the world responds back in kind, treating you with renewed appreciation as well.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

October 28th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

It’s hard being an entrepreneur and making a success of a start-up business.  You have to do everything yourself.  Keep the books.  See an important customer.  Talk to a supplier in a different time zone.  Decide on the look of a webpage.  And I haven’t even begun a detailed list. It is easy to become overwhelmed.

It’s just as hard being a mother effectively raising a boisterous family.  Running a home is very similar to running a small business.  There are chores to be done and errands to run.  You’re in charge of your children’s education (yes, even if they attend school, the buck stops with you not their teacher). You’re in charge of your family’s health and general welfare.  There is inventory to maintain. (What! No more Sunny Snaps cereal?) There are clothes, toys and appliances to look after or replace.  And this is not close to the complete list. It’s hard to know what to tackle when.

Success is achieved when both entrepreneur and mom manage to replace chaos with order.  Sanity is retained when instead of futilely flailing around we institute organization and structure.  The enemy is randomness and happenstance.

Viewing the world in which we live as random and haphazard is equally unhelpful.  God cautions us not to relate to Him in a casual and mindless fashion.

And if you will … walk casually [KeRi] with me, then I will walk casually [KeRi] with you also in fury…
(Leviticus 26:27-28)

(For more insight to these verses please revisit Thought Tools Volume 5 Issue 8, Cancel Cruise Control.)

The root of the Hebrew word for casual and haphazard conduct is K-R.

For instance, the main two Biblical villains who adhere to a random worldview are the prophet Bilam and King Balak. Together they conspire to curse Israel.  Here are four mentions of the K-R word for random happening that appear in their story.

…perhaps God will happen by me…
(Numbers 23:3)

So God happened by Bilam…
(Numbers 23:4)    

…and I might happen to encounter the Lord over there…
(Numbers 23:15)    

And the Lord happened to appear to Bilam…
(Numbers 23:16)

As always, in Hebrew whenever one Hebrew word appears to possess two meanings, we can be sure the two meanings are closely related.

The Hebrew root K-R not only means random, it also means cold and ice.

He casts forth his ice like morsels, who can stand before his cold?
(Psalms 147:17)

randomness & disorder  =   KR  =  cold & ice

It follows that ancient Jewish wisdom is telling us that randomness and disorder are closely connected to cold and ice.

Modern physics uses the word entropy to describe the extent of randomness and chaos.  Entropy and its relationship to cold and ice only began to be fully understood through thermodynamics in the 19th century (Boltzmann 1877) and through statistics in the 20th century (Shannon 1948). Clearly chaos and coldness are closely connected in terms of entropy generation; a fact which 3,000 years ago, was known only to God.   This is one of many reasons that I call Hebrew the Lord’s language.

Oddly enough, in English we might say to the harried mom and overwhelmed business professional, “Your enemy is chaos and disorder, stay cool!”  Categorize your tasks under various headings that might correspond to the job description of employees, were you to be hiring them.  For example, accounting, sales, maintenance, inventory, and so on.  That way, you can put on the appropriate hat and tackle only the tasks in that category before changing hats and moving into another ‘department’. Stay cool, whether you’re a mom or a business professional, the lives of many depend upon you.

Hebrew contains mysterious and thrilling revelations about how the world REALLY works. Our book, Buried Treasure: Secrets for Living from the Lord’s Language goes into almost three dozen of these words in depth. It provides practical guidance and ‘aha’ moments both for those who can’t read a Hebrew letter and for those who are fluent in the language. Let God talk to you in His own words.


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