Posts tagged " |spiritual strategies| "

Mountains and Molecules

October 21st, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

My children constantly fascinate me when we hike in breathtakingly beautiful British Columbia during the summer. Some of them visibly thrill to the vast vistas and magnificent landscapes revealed as we crest a hill.  Others seem oblivious to the large scale spectacles but will stoop to pick up a pebble which can absorb their attention for twenty minutes.  Similarly when boating, one child gazes endlessly at the wave pattern stretching to the horizon.  Meanwhile, her sister lies on her tummy on the edge of a dock peering down at a school of tiny fish darting around as if being signaled by an invisible choreographer.

We learn much from the patterns of larger arrangements such as the earth’s upheavals that created the mountain ranges and the erosive forces that carved majestic canyons.  However it is just as important to understand the microscopic forces that help atoms to form molecules and the characteristics that shape those tiny molecules into complex substances.

Just as understanding both the macro of mountains and the micro of molecules helps us relate to physical reality, so understanding both the macro and the micro of the letters, words, and texts of the Bible helps us relate to spiritual reality.

Whenever we probe the inner meaning conveyed by a word or letter in the Lord’s language as we often do here in Thought Tools, we are exploring the micro.  However, when we examine patterns that reoccur in different parts of Scripture we are allowing the macro to reveal its secrets.

Let’s wrap our souls around four famous parallels linking God’s Garden of Eden with the desert Tabernacle and its successor, the Jerusalem Temple, both constructed by humans.

1.   God walks in both the Garden of Eden and the Tabernacle.

And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden…
(Genesis 3:8)

And I will set my tabernacle among you…And I will walk among you…
(Leviticus 26:11-12)

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2.  Water flowed out of the Garden of Eden and also out of the Temple.

And a river went out from Eden…
(Genesis 2:10)

…and a fountain shall issue from the house of the Lord…
(Joel 4:18)

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3.   Cherubs appear in both places to guard and protect.

…and he placed cherubs at the east of the garden of Eden…to guard the way to the tree of life.
(Genesis 3:24)

And the cherubs shall stretch out their wings on high to cover the covering with their wings…
(Exodus 25:20)

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4. Special garments [ketonet] are required in both places

For Adam and for his wife the Lord God made leather coats [ketonet]…
(Genesis 3:21)

And these are the garments which they shall make…an embroidered coat [ketonet]
(Exodus 28:4)

Recounting the four parallels, we see:

1   God walks in His garden and in the places we create.
2   Water flows out of His garden and out of the places we create.
3   Spiritual forces protect the way to the Tree of Life and to the Tablets of the Covenant.
4   God made clothing for humans in His garden; we emulate Him in our holy places.

Today, in our current conditions, we are obviously unable to locate the Garden of Eden let alone enter it.  However, God did provide us with blueprints to create our own substitute.  Moses and the Israelites used them to build the Tabernacle and later Solomon used them to create the Temple.

As long as we recognize that both the Tabernacle and the Temple were human replicas of the Garden of Eden, we too become capable of erecting our very own Garden of Eden substitutes right in our own homes.  We merely need note the four parallels.

One, our homes must be places where God walks and we walk with Him.  We don’t sit with Him or stand with Him, we walk with Him.  Meaning we and our families are on the move; we are never in exactly the same (spiritual) place.

Second, water, (associated with spiritual sustenance in Torah nomenclature) must flow out of our homes.  By regularly inviting guests to share our meals and participate in the uplifting conversation that suffuses our dining tables we encourage our ideas to flow and spread.

Third, we must ensure that spiritual forces are in place to protect our most cherished attributes, namely our faith and our families.  With the same enthusiasm that we invite the right people to enter, enjoy and contribute to the atmosphere of our homes, we must also keep out those people and influences that could harm it.

Fourth, and finally we must always, even in the privacy of our home, clothe ourselves in the garments of human dignity. Clothing is holy because God bestowed it upon His children as a way of distinguishing us from the animal kingdom.  Almost all of us look better clothed than naked and for all of us, being clothed protects our sense of self.  This is why the first thing Nazi concentration camps did to Jews upon their arrival was strip them naked.

It is all too easy to figuratively ‘let ourselves go’ when we’re at home.  It is so tempting to slide into poor behavior, abysmal manners, inadequate clothing and other unwholesome self-indulgences when we’re in our own homes.  In reality, in order to build our own Garden of Eden we need to resist these allures.

It is never too late to turn our own home into a Garden of Eden, a Tabernacle, or a Temple.  The rewards are incalculable and more than worth the effort it takes.  Keep both the mountain and the molecule in mind.  The former is the larger vision for the kind of home you’d like to live in while the latter is the list of four details we have covered here.

Grasping the incredible patterns that God placed in Scripture brings bountiful blessing. These patterns affect our lives to this day. Listen to Tower of Power: Decoding the Secrets of Babel and hear how ancient Jewish wisdom reveals human tendencies and weaknesses that shed light on current events, amazingly, even including the administration’s response to Ebola.

 Tower of Power:

Decoding the Secrets of Babel

 

Bones in Israel

July 15th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

The 100 million Moslems surrounding Israel often escalate their oft-stated desire to destroy six million Jews into action.  They dispatch murderers into Jewish neighborhoods, they launch sudden street attacks, and they shoot thousands of missiles into Israel’s population centers.  However, life in Israel continues.  Behold the Guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps. (Psalms 121:4)

Whenever one of these periodic crises escalates, some Thought Tool readers ask me why I don’t devote a Thought Tool issue to the Israel situation.  The reason is because though it would be cathartic for me, it would do nothing for you, my loyal readers.  Yes, I have children living in Jerusalem, and yes, I would like to express my feelings about primitive barbarians imperiling their lives.  But that is not my mission.

There are many excellent writers who regularly illuminate Israel’s existential struggle.  My purpose each week is to provide you with a Bible-based nugget of ancient Jewish wisdom that you can deploy to enhance your quality of life.  I want it to be as relevant and as helpful to you today as it will be when you return to reread it ten or twenty years hence.  In other words, I don’t tie Thought Tools to current events.

Nonetheless, it is clear that spiritual strengths rather than physical forces shape Israel’s struggle to survive.  Her enemies could overnight transform their physical existence by laying down arms.  Many nations of the world would happily hand over billions of dollars and limitless economic, technical and medical aid to help build a new United Middle East.  With a real peace, average per capita income would skyrocket for the inhabitants of Egypt, Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.  Their average life expectancy would climb meteorically.  Yet none of this matters.  Obliterating Jewish lives is more important than improving Moslem lives.

Why do Jews stay in Israel despite being surrounded by enemies?  Their material circumstances would dramatically improve if they emigrated to America, Canada, Australia, Taiwan, Singapore, or Sweden that would reluctantly admit them as the price for an end to Middle East turbulence. Yet, to them, the spiritual significance of living on the land that God gave to Abraham as an eternal inheritance means far more than the physical goody-bags of a diaspora.  Both sides are driven, not by physical and material considerations but by spiritual imperatives.

Secular fundamentalists like to think of themselves as supremely rational. They argue that only the physically and scientifically quantifiable is important—only materialism matters.  Yet, two Yale psychologists, Drs. George Newman and Paul Bloom, proved that people do believe in the spiritual by analyzing estate auctions of the rich and famous. They realized that otherwise rational people willingly paid large sums of money for possessions previously owned by a celebrity.

The only way to explain this is that the buyers believe that some non-material quality of the former owner has been transferred to the item making it far more valuable than the identical item purchased new from a store.
Explaining the spiritual urge to murder Jews is outside the scope of this Thought Tool (though I do explain it in our audio CD program, Clash of Destiny: Decoding the Secrets of Israel and Islam).

However, I do want to explore the unbreakable spiritual connection between Jews and the Land that God gave them.  It is also far more powerful than the connection between Marilyn Monroe and the purchaser of an ashtray she once owned.

And Moses took Joseph’s bones with him because he’d made the Israelites swear saying, ‘God will remember you and you must bring up my bones from here with you.’
(Exodus 13:19)

Wait!  Did Joseph really use the words that Moses reported?  Let’s see…

And Joseph made the Israelites swear saying, ‘God will remember you and you must bring up my bones from here.’
(Genesis 50:25)

Joseph didn’t actually say those last words, “…with you.” Why did Moses insert them?

Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that Joseph’s love for the Land of Israel was such that, no matter how long it took, he deeply desired ultimately to be buried there.  However, Moses understood that Joseph’s bones carried spiritual qualities.  Rather than doing Joseph a kindness by taking his bones to Israel, the bones would impart spiritual strength to the Israelites as they entered the land. Those bones were not going to leave Moses’ possession until, forbidden from entering the land, he passed on to Joshua the sacred mission of burying them in Israel.  Thus Moses remembered the instruction as including the words, ‘with you.’

And the Israelites buried the bones of Joseph which they had brought
up out of Egypt, in Shechem.
(Joshua 24:32)

In the year 2000, Moslem mobs razed and burnt Joseph’s tomb in the city of Shechem, known in Arabic as Nablus.

Did this inflict military damage? Of course not. This was not about material damage.  The destruction of Joseph’s tomb was meant to attack Israel’s soul, not her body.

Bones are not just dried calcium, they are spiritually linked to the person they once carried.  Yes, it is true—and not only bones.  We impart something of our spiritual reality to all the objects we own. We even spiritually mark items we touch.  That is why we feel violated when we discover that some stranger has been rifling through our belongings.  Though the hooligan may have inflicted no physical damage upon our keepsakes, his handling of them spiritually tarnished them.

The forces shaping the Middle East are spiritual, not physical, a fact not understood by the State Department or the U.N. The battle affects not only the Middle East but the rest of the world as well.  Why do they fight?  Will it ignite broader conflagration?  How will this all play out?  The more we understand God’s plan the more we can prepare ourselves for the end game. We hope that our audio CD program and study guide Clash of Destiny: Decoding the Secrets of Israel and Islam will illuminate this mystical conflict for you.

CODY small

Let’s Get Together

July 9th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

In the 1961 movie The Parent Trap as well as in its 1998 remake, two young girls at a summer camp loathe one another until they discover that they are really twins.  They then collaborate in a plot to bring their divorced parents back together again.

The movie worked well partially because of the genuine love that grows between the two girls even before they hit on the idea of restoring their broken family.  Authentic unity based on real connection can greatly further shared interests.

By way of contrast, when George and Sandra started dating they saw shared preferences, such as choosing the same dish at a restaurant, as a thrilling indication that they were meant to be together.  But in spite of liking the same food and having similar tastes in music and entertainment, their romance didn’t last long.

In the Middle East, two notorious groups, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, often act in concert and with all appearances of unity based on their shared hatred of Israel.  However they have fought one another before and will fight again.  An illusion of unity based only on shared interests can mislead both individuals and groups.

Seven weeks after leaving Egypt, the Israelites arrived at Mount Sinai in order to receive the Ten Commandments.

In their long journey through the desert, the Israelites camped many times.  With one exception, the Hebrew verb used for this camping is in the plural.  They, meaning many people, camped.  There is only one exception in which the singular verb is used:

…then Israel camped (singular) there by the mountain.
(Exodus 19:2)

Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that their submission to God and their eagerness to accept His Law unified them in a unique fashion. Hence the verb camped appears in the singular.  They camped as if they were one person, an utterly united people.

However, there is another interesting example of unity.  Perplexingly, their Egyptian pursuers were also unified:

…and the Children of Israel lifted up their eyes and behold Egypt is traveling after them…
(Exodus 14:10)

The verb traveling appears in its singular form. Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that the Egyptians were also unified by their shared mission to capture the Israelites.

Israel’s unity leads to their becoming God’s people, winning their land and lasting destiny.  Egypt’s unity leads to drowning in the Red Sea, death and oblivion.  What is the difference between the two unities?

In the case of Israel, (Exodus 19:2) the Hebrew verb “and he camped” VaYiCHaN implying unity, appears before the word Israel.

However, in the case of Egypt, (Exodus 14:10) the Hebrew verb ‘is traveling’ NoSeA implying unity, appears after the word Egypt.

In other words, just before receiving the Ten Commandments, Israel was unified in preparation for their mission of receiving the Torah. The unification preceded their national identity and its mission.  Egypt’s national identity and its mission of hauling Israel back into slavery was the cause of its unity.

Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that love that is dependent upon some outside factor is temporary.  Once the outside factor no longer exerts its influence, the love vanishes.  However, love that is genuine lasts and imparts durability.

For this reason, Biblical marriage is based on commitment producing love rather than hoping that love will bring commitment.  Love based on attraction may or may not bring constant commitment but commitment will almost always bring lasting love.

Similarly, business partnerships between parties that feel real respect and affection for one another do better than those that are based only on shared interests.  Families whose members are bound by nothing but socio-economic commonalities are not the same as those bound by ties of deep love and filial obligation.

Thinking that there is a deep bond of affection, only to find that there isn’t one causes much heartbreak and disillusionment. Summer and the fall season frequently herald new living circumstances and making new acquaintances. Our store carries two books, Hands Off: This May be Love and I Only Want to Get Married Once, by acclaimed authors because we think that the easily accessible, often humorous wisdom in these books is so valuable. We urge you to read them and share them with others, especially young people who have the opportunity, with your help, of choosing smart, successful relationships.

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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

 

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

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!

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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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Sleep in the Bed You Make

May 27th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

I never knew what the job of ‘community organizer’ entailed.  I knew what a bus driver, a plumber, a bookkeeper, or a ballerina do. But, what does a community organizer do?  I found out by reading a little book called Rules for Radicals written by Saul Alinsky, a Chicago political activist.  (And no, I’m not sure what activists do either.)  At any rate, Alinsky explained that a community organizer should “…rub raw the resentments of the people of the community; to fan latent hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt expressions.”  Okay, now I know.

Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that one definition of wisdom is being able to learn something from everyone.  I guess I’m not so wise because I am not sure what I could learn from community organizers.  However, I know I have much to learn from bus drivers, plumbers, bookkeepers and ballerinas. Around Memorial Day each year, I think about things I learn from soldiers.

This year, I learned from the head of Special Operations Command, Admiral Bill McRaven, why soldiers always make their beds first thing in the morning.  Here are his words from his Commencement Day speech at the University of Texas:

“If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.  If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.”

He got my attention as the Code of Jewish Law opens with the words:

One should be as strong as a lion in rising in the morning
for the service of one’s Creator.

(Shulchan Aruch 1:1)

Don’t just rise in the morning like a lion but rise in the morning like a lion for the purpose of serving one’s Creator.  The question is, how do we best serve our Creator?

Here is one clue:

Cursed be he who does the work of the Lord negligently…
(Jeremiah 48:10)

According to ancient Jewish wisdom, this verse means that anyone who fails to satisfy his employer or customer with speedy and diligent service is cursed. (Midrash, Tana D’vei Eliyahu Rabbah)

What a stunning insight! Taking care of our customers, clients, and employers is doing God’s work!

Interestingly, an English word that describes taking care of business speedily and diligently is enthusiastically.

Here is the etymological source of the word enthusiastic.

From the Greek “entheos” meaning inspired by God.

Admiral McRaven had it just right. Being diligent in the tasks we undertake in our day, even ones that seem minor, leads us to end our day looking back at a string of accomplishments.  When we recognize that performing work for which we are paid is God’s work, our accomplishments grow even more.

I know that it utterly changed my life when ancient Jewish wisdom first taught me that taking care of my boss, my customers and my clients is also serving God.  It transformed workdays from drudgery to ministry.  It transformed servitude to service.  It transformed lethargic indifference to passion and enthusiasm.  As a side benefit, I started making much more money.

That’s God’s work.  Contributing to other people’s lives.  It might even be the life of your commanding officer.  If you’re a bus driver, plumber, bookkeeper, or ballerina it’s very clear how you help other people.  Community organizers? Not so much.

Some people tell me that they want to offer their services to others but don’t know how. Others fumble job interviews or excuse themselves as simply not “people people.” Then there are those who have great business ideas but can’t interest others in them and those who insist that they work hard but don’t seem to be progressing.  For all of you, I recorded my 2 audio CD set Prosperity Power: Connect for Success. Starting your day listening to these CDs as you make your bed, work out or travel to work will propel you to do enthusiastically what is necessary to power up your work life.

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Two by Too(th)

May 20th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

A dear friend who pastors an inspiring church in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex wrote me asking about the significance of various numbers in ancient Jewish wisdom.  Since he will be marrying soon, two seemed an appropriate number to explore.

The first time a word occurs in Scripture provides deep insight, so we need to know the first time the number two appears.  (Hebrew grammar causes earlier appearances of two to have variant forms.)

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 And of all that lives, of all flesh, two of each you shall bring into the ark to keep alive with you, male and female they should be.
(Genesis 6:19)

 This reveals that the fundamental “two-ness” in the universe is male and female.  Since the ultimate act of human creativity is creating a baby, we understand that two people can be far more creative than merely one, particularly if there is a male/female dynamic.  However, two men or two women can have a male/female dynamic as well, for example in brainstorming a business idea.  At any given moment one of the participants, whether male or female biologically speaking, is implanting the seed of an idea while the other is absorbing it.  A moment later they exchange roles as the conversation continues.

Another aspect of the number two is that the Hebrew root of two = tooth.

tooth shen, croppedEven the very sound of the English word “tooth” carries within itself the sound of the number two (2-th). This highlights the point that two things complement one another.  We have both upper and lower teeth and we need them both.  Having only upper teeth or only lower teeth is worse than having no teeth at all.

One of the best Biblical examples of two is the Two Tablets that God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai.  The Bible rarely refers to the Ten Commandments but calls them the Two Tablets about thirty times.  This is because the quality of two they possess is so important.  The two tablets complement one another and make it possible for us to create our moral matrix by consulting them both.

[There is so much vital information for our lives (and the life of our nation) buried in the Two Tablets that I created an audio CD linking the respective pairs of commandments such as one and six, two and seven. In a stunning transformation, this converts Ten Commandments into five fundamental principles of human interaction. If the feedback I get is representative, you too will be amazed at how these commandments will come alive as you listen.]

Lastly, the Hebrew word for two is the same as the Hebrew word for years. This informs us that there is some common feature linking the concept of two to the idea of years.

Each passing year naturally possesses similarities to its predecessor on both a global and very personal level.  Nonetheless, nobody experiences two successive years as being identical.

Similarly, when we think of the power of two we think of two things close enough to be counted together, but not so identical as to be duplicates.  Our spouses are incredibly close to us, we can often complete their sentences.  But they are also sufficiently different to make the connection meaningful.  I may consult two books for guidance in repairing my plumbing.  They will both be about the problem I am experiencing but, to be helpful, each should tackle the project in a different way.

We understand that if we wish to change our oneness into a two, whether in seeking a spouse or a business partner, we need to find someone close and similar but not identical.

Essentially, the number two speaks to the fundamental duality which is so much a part of life.  Day/Night.  Good/Evil.  Man/Woman.  Light/Darkness. Plus/Minus.  Hot/Cold.  Yes, many things do exist on a spectrum, but they are easier to analyze and understand when we know the two dualities that anchor the ends of the spectrum.

I hope that this will be useful to our pastor friend who will soon be marrying.  I know it will be useful to you as you form relationships both social and business and as you explore how the world really works through Bible study.

Read more about our Ten Commandment CD here.

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The Harder They Fall

May 13th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

In 1956, Humphrey Bogart played sportswriter Eddie Willis in the last movie he made, The Harder They Fall.  After many ups and downs, Bogart’s character achieves greatness.

Have you ever heard anyone say, “I don’t want to try too hard because I don’t need to be wildly successful,” or, “I don’t want to rise too far because the tallest tree catches the wind”? Many of us have impeded our own progress by warning ourselves that reaching for the sky can bring a great fall.

While today there may be a good reason not to clamber up the cliff, that old Humpty Dumpty rationale isn’t it. Of course the higher you climb the further you can fall, but that isn’t inevitable and shouldn’t be used as an excuse for slacking.

It is so easy to succumb to wrong-headed thinking and sabotage our own potential that Scripture projects a powerful message to deter us.

Whenever a specific phrase is found in more than one location in Scripture, we are intended to compare and contrast the instances in which it appears.

For instance, the phase

appears in two places in the Bible; once in connection with Abraham’s first son, Yishmael and again in connection with Samson.

The phrase has two meanings:

 Behold you have conceived and will give birth to a son (Yishmael; Genesis 16:11), and

Behold you shall conceive and will give birth to a son (Samson; Judges 13:5).

Since the tense of the English translation varies, many people with no access to Hebrew (and no rabbi) remain oblivious to the fact that both verses contain the identical phrase.

In fact, these are the only two instances in the Tanach of an angel directly informing a woman that she will soon give birth. But that is where the similarities end.

The two sons marry differently.

His mother, Hagar, finds Yishmael a wife:

 …and his mother took him a wife from Egypt
(Genesis 21:21)

Samson finds his own wife though his parents disapprove of her:

 …get her for me as a wife
(Judges 14:2)

 Yishmael’s life follows a steady trajectory from his birth in Genesis 16 until his death in Genesis 25.

Samson’s life is clearly divided into two sections.

From his birth in Judges 13 until the end of Judges 15, we see the Lord is with him constantly.

The second part of Samson’s life begins with him consorting with a harlot (Judges 16:1) and concludes with his death (Judges 16:30). During this time the Lord appears to have abandoned him.

Contrast the two phrases which conclude the two parts of Samson’s life:

And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years.
(Judges 15:20)

…and he judged Israel twenty years.
(Judges 16:31)

 Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that during the first half of his life his purpose and mission was defeating the Philistines and protecting Israel from them. During the second part of his life, he largely forgot his mission.

Yishmael, with God’s blessing, lived a largely passive and uneventful life.

Samson, the heroic Hebrew Judge lived a turbulent life part of which he lived in accordance with God’s wishes and enjoying His blessings. Tragically the latter part of his life was lived without his mission, without God, and without His blessings.

The contrast is between two men both of whose births were heralded by an angel and both of whom were blessed. One became an ordinary man who never achieved any great good and never did any great wrong. The other became a larger-than-life figure, a giant man with giant abilities and giant appetites. He played a vital role in Israel’s history, achieving enormous triumphs but also sinking to tragic depths.

Samson remains a Hebrew hero; flawed but heroic. His passion for life led him to heights and his weaknesses led to his downfall. But it wasn’t inevitable and he serves as a far better model than Yishmael.

God created us with the potential for greatness. We all possess the potential for doing great good, but also for failing disastrously. Being great doesn’t mean never desiring to do wrong or never doing wrong. It means developing our resistance to wrongdoing. With the lesson of Samson fresh in our minds, we can throw ourselves into the struggle for greatness confident that we will reap its blessings and fight its dangers.

There are so many other similar life lessons in ancient Jewish wisdom and Susan and I are passionate about teaching them on our TV show, Ancient Jewish Wisdom, on the TCT Television Network. We have assembled eight of our most popular shows on two DVDs, available separately or as a low-priced set. You will be uplifted and inspired as will those with whom you choose to share them. Get them now at a reduced price!

P.S. The Biblical Blueprint Set remains on sale for through the weekend!

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