Posts tagged " |spiritual strategies| "

What Time Is It?

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

Guess what, kids!  We’re going to Disneyland in three years’ time!  Guess what, Honey!  We’re being transferred to Paris for two years; our flight’s this afternoon, just after lunch.  Both scenarios are equally ludicrous.  It is also absurd to fire an under-performing employee and give him twenty-four months’ notice but telling the same employee that he must be out and off the premises within an hour is just as wrong. What time is right?

How long should you spend psyching yourself up to propose marriage to your girlfriend? A week? A month? An hour?  Which is right?  “We’re offering you the job and would like to hear back from you with your decision in _____.  Well, how long?  We’d like to hear back from you in twenty minutes?  Silly!  We’d like to hear back from you before the end of next year? Ridiculous!  What time is right?

As usual, ancient Jewish wisdom points us in the right direction.  See these verses:

On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place…
(Genesis 22:4)

 And on the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, he made a feast…
(Genesis 40:20)

 …let us go…three days’ journey into the wilderness, so we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.
(Exodus 3:18)

And be ready by the third day; for on the third day the Lord will come down…
(Exodus 19:11)

And it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal dress…
(Esther 5:1)

Joshua commanded the officers…saying, prepare provisions for within three days you shall cross over this Jordan…
(Joshua 1:10)

For space reasons I have confined myself to only a few of the many Scriptural references to three days.  Is it not peculiar that all these events and many others in the Bible involved a time span of three days?  Why not five days?  Why not four days? Coincidence?  No, of course not.  It’s a lesson.

Like all numbers, the number three in Torah nomenclature possesses its own special significance.  It alludes to how we humans experience time.  We are aware of the past, we understand something called the future, and we live the present.  It is always in the context of these three parts of time that we should evaluate our lives and our experiences.

When we wonder whether something will be fun, we are really asking whether it will make the present pleasurable.  One of the reasons a car accident can be so horrifying is the realization of how its consequences might affect the future.  I recently saw an interview with an elderly criminal sentenced to one hundred and fifty years behind bars. He said that what made life intolerable was not the thought of dying in prison, but that of losing connection with his children and grandchildren.  In his case, having a past made the present much more unendurable than it might have been for someone who did not already have deep and rich relationships with descendants.

Through the preponderance of three-day time spans, Scripture is telling us that we need to take into account our past, our present and our future.  Whether it is Abraham confronting the reality of sacrificing his son, the Israelites preparing to meet God at Mt Sinai, or any of the other examples, people need to give themselves enough time to integrate the experiences of the past with the approaching future into something they can absorb in the present.

In our own lives, when large decisions or changes loom, the three-day metaphor tells us that the right amount of time needs to be enough time to acknowledge where we are coming from and assimilate that with where we are, while moving decisively into the future. Taking too little time leaves us reeling while taking too much time dulls us, just as ignoring any of the three points of past, present and future leads us down faulty paths.

Moving from difficult straits to brighter horizons using three spiritual secrets revealed during the Exodus is the heart of my audio CD, Let Me Go: How to Overcome Life’s Challenges and Escape Your Own Egypt.  The practical and powerful tips in this audio CD transformed the destiny of the Jews, propelling them from poverty to prosperity and from misery to independence.  They can do the same for individuals.  Now would be a good time to decisively improve your future by changing your present!  Are there any whom you love who need a boost into a better life-orbit?  For a tiny investment, you can bless them.

Let Me Go

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Esther’s One-Two Punch

March 18th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

What do toddlers and sales professionals have in common?  No, this isn’t the latest riddle from your in-flight magazine. The correct answer is that both employ profound psychological principles to project their wills.  Toddlers do so instinctively while sales pros do so after sophisticated training. But we all can use these timeless truths to practice partnership power that helps us achieve our goals.

Almost every triumph, success, or achievement that we enjoy depends upon at least one other person’s cooperation. We invariably require at least one other person, whether a friend, mentor, customer or investor to help us achieve our desires.  There are many unsuccessful ways to try to enlist others to our purpose.  Can ancient Jewish wisdom help us identify effective ways to encourage people to partner with us?

When a human being performs an action, there are two consequences, internal and external.  For instance, if I tell someone a lie the external result is that I’ve misled that person.  The internal consequence is that I am reduced in moral stature, seeing myself subconsciously as a little less worthy than I was before.  Not surprisingly, I find it a little easier to tell another lie because I view myself as less admirable.

It’s equally true on the positive side.  For instance, when I help another human being, I not only change his or her world, but I also change me.  I make myself a more charitable man and start seeing myself that way.  Not surprisingly, the next person who asks for my help will be more likely to get a helpful response.

Researchers asked some residents of an area to accept and display a tiny sign reading “BE A SAFE DRIVER”.  Two weeks later, the researchers asked both this group and another group of residents that never received the first request, to allow a large billboard saying “DRIVE CAREFULLY” on their front lawns.  As part of the request, they were shown a picture of a nice house almost completely obscured by a very large, poorly lettered sign bearing that message.  Only 17% of those who had not received the first request accepted the large billboard.  However, a stunning 76% of those who had accepted the small sign also agreed to place the large one.

Robert Cialdini, a scholar who has studied persuasion, explains that even a small action changes a person’s view of self; thereafter, the person tends to act in concert with that view.  Scripture taught this rule millennia ago.

Queen Esther used this principle to achieve her goal of securing the king’s help in preventing the genocide of the Persian Jews. She started by inviting the king and Haman to an intimate dinner.  (Esther 5:4)

The entire purpose of that first banquet was to enable Esther to invite the two men to another private dinner.  (Esther 5:8)  Only when they accepted her invitation and appeared at the second banquet, did Esther plead for her people. (Esther 7:3)

Ancient Jewish wisdom explains why Esther didn’t make her vital request to save the Jews at the first banquet.  She knew she had to accustom the king to granting her requests so she began with a simple one.

…if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for them…
(Esther 5:8)

Once the king complied with this humble request, he set himself up to be far more likely to comply with whatever she might next ask. His view of himself as a generous monarch and loving husband was reinforced, leading to a positive response when Esther asked:

…If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request.
(Esther 7:3)

Though God is not overtly visible in the Book of Esther, His wisdom and teachings inform almost every verse as His servants reshape history; their own as well as that of the Jewish people.

Whether you are a parent or a plumber, a business professional or a ballerina, you too can gain a greater understanding of influence strategies from studying Bible, and this can help you achieve your objectives in your career and in your important relationships.

With Persia (Iran) once again menacing the world, we can rely on the Bible to help us make sense of world affairs and guide us to triumph over personal challenges. Gain greater insight with the help of my 2 audio CD set, Clash of Destiny: Decoding the Secrets of Israel and Islam. Follow the trail from Genesis through the Scroll of Esther in this mind-blowing teaching as Scripture casts prophetic shadows to the present day, providing a beacon of light in these dark times.

Clash of Destiny Case

  •     What Muslims know about prayer that most people, even those who pray regularly, don’t.
  •     The dark side of laughter.
  •     Why recruits in Arab terrorist training camps say “Heil Hitler”.
  •     How to rise above our cultural and genetic legacy!

 

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Sing(apore) for Your Supper

March 11th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

“I’m sure you’re doing your best.”  This is a subjective statement.
“Your grade dropped to a ‘D’ this semester.”  This is an objective fact.

“Management is satisfied with the company’s 2013 performance which was in accordance with expectations”    Subjective.
The company lost $3.7 million in fiscal year 2013.  Objective.

Measuring performance objectively brings success whether the goal is competing in the Olympics, losing weight, or increasing profit. Or, yes, learning.

Let me give you an example from Singapore, a tiny island nation with a racially and culturally diverse population that until 1965 was dependent upon Great Britain. Back then, less than fifty years ago, it was a sort of international welfare case with a Gross Domestic Product per capita about one twentieth of the United States.  This means that on average, each Singaporean produced less than one twentieth of the economic value that the average American produced.  Today, Singapore’s per capita GDP is slightly higher than that of the United States.  What brought about that miracle?

Lee Kuan Yew, who served as Singapore’s first prime minister for thirty years and is still known as the Father of Singapore, stated that it happened because of their education system.  How does it differ from education in America?

Among other factors, Singapore places a heavy emphasis on objective subjects like mathematics and science as opposed to subjects that have the word “studies” in their titles.  They don’t do social studies, earth studies, and environmental studies in Singapore. The country routinely scores at the very top of each year’s International Mathematics and Science Study while the United States according to recent data, scored at number 23, well behind countries like Thailand, Russia, Slovenia, Hungary, and Belgium.

Lest you respond that we must spend more on education, another objective fact tells us that Singapore spends about $2,000 a year per student while in the United States the comparable figure is about $12,000.

There is much data that those who care about children should examine. Focusing on objective facts rather than subjective fantasizing would be a good place to start.

Concentrating on objective actions and behaviors also helped transform a rag-tag band of slaves into the Hebrew nation about 3,326 years ago.  You see, little about life as a slave encourages objective analysis.  Foolishly, a slave master’s goal is often to keep the slave working endlessly. The slave’s time loses all meaning since a high level of accomplishment rarely betters his situation.

The Exodus was surrounded by many of God’s rules and rituals for the precise purpose of introducing the concept of an objective way of looking at reality.  Rather than fuzzy generalities, Exodus chapter 12 contains hundreds of specific details defining exactly what the Israelites must do before and during the Exodus from Egypt.

People whose lives lack objective measure amble and dawdle through the day.  By contrast, God directed the Israelites to move with such haste that even the dough wouldn’t have time to rise. (Those of us who have ever been shocked to realize how long we spent surfing the Internet would do well to learn this lesson.)

Also, membership in the group that was to be delivered from Egypt was not left to subjective feeling.  “Aw, c’mon, I really, really feel like an Israelite.”  Instead, each male was to be circumcised, surely a very objective indicator. Either you are or you’re not.  (Exodus 12:48)  Then in precisely 49 days they were to be standing at the foot of Mt. Sinai. Not 48 days and not 50 days. Precise and objective detail.  It is no wonder that the Israelites transformed from slaves to one of the most successful people in the world.

Understanding how details in the Bible reveal underlying vital messages such as this one, is an example of the type of ancient Jewish wisdom that I share in my brand new book Business Secrets from the Bible: Spiritual Success Strategies for Financial Abundance. I would love for this book to bless you and those you love and I can’t wait to hear your feedback. Find out more about it here and see how you or someone you know can greatly benefit from it, available now at a reduced price.

Please be aware that I will be conducting teaching on these and other Exodus topics at a special 8 day Passover Conference Retreat at the beautiful Rancho Bernardo Inn resort in San Diego from April 14 to April 22.  I would love to share the Pesach festival with you.

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I Win – You Win – We All Win

March 4th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Would you enjoy working with an investment advisor who is paid for the number of trades she recommends whether or not you make any profit? What do you think of a teacher who is paid even if his students learn nothing? Would you frequent a store that charges you for trying on clothes whether or not you buy anything? These are examples of simple transactions in which the interests of the two parties are not aligned.

The sales professional who works on a commission-only basis with no salary ceiling is a great example of interests that are aligned.  When his employer prospers, so does he.  When he prospers, so does his employer. Whether you are interviewing job-seeking candidates or whether you are applying for a position, clearly understanding this powerful principle is invaluable.  It is equally valuable in running a marriage or family. Part of effective leadership is persuading people that you are all ‘on the same team.’ In any interaction, focusing on merging everyone’s interests increases the probability of a successful outcome.

This vision of economic interaction in which both sides prosper is completely at odds with the socialistic worldview in which every economic transaction is viewed with suspicion. According to the secular materialist, if a storekeeper is happy with the sale, the customer was exploited. If a customer walks out smiling, he must surely have ripped off the storekeeper.  However, in God’s view of human economic interaction, the ideal transaction benefits both parties.

We learn this idea from a surprising source. Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that in the stages of life, fifty years old is well suited for imparting advice.  The Scriptural basis for this stems from the few verses declaring that Levites should actively serve in the Temple from the ages of twenty-five to fifty. Knowing that a chapter in my book Thou Shall Prosper disparages retirement, many people have written to me asking if the Levites retire at age fifty.  Nothing could be further from fact.  After their fiftieth birthdays, their tasks changed. No longer involved in the day-to-day responsibilities of the Temple, they were busier than ever advising and guiding their brethren. (Numbers 8:24-26) They were uniquely suited to this assignment. Why?

Here is the key fact about the Levites: They received no portion of ownership in the Land of Israel.  Instead, they lived exclusively on a tithe from the income of the rest of the nation. (Numbers 18:21).    Their interests were perfectly aligned with those of all Israel.  When they blessed Israel, the blessing was genuine and whole-hearted.  When Israel prospered, so did the Levites.

Would you rather seek advice from someone who cares for your success as much as you do or from someone who views you as unimportant or a rival?  Clearly, advice from someone whose interests are aligned with yours is worth more than advice from an indifferent stranger, or worse, from someone who benefits when you fail.

After twenty-five years of prospering or suffering based on the financial successes or failures of others, the Levites completely internalized the message that their interests paralleled those of the children of Israel. They were ideally poised to offer sincere advice to others from an attitude of genuine concern. While the Temple no longer stands and while we are not all Levites, we can all benefit by learning from their experience. Before offering advice to anyone, whether our children or our business colleagues, we must be sure that our interests are aligned with theirs.  Just as importantly, we must be sure that they know and believe this to be true. The more our happiness and achievements mesh with the happiness and achievements of others, the more we all thrive.

This type of Biblical principle is highlighted in my hot-off-the-press book, released this week. Business Secrets from the Bible: Spiritual Success Strategies for Financial Abundance picks up where Thou Shall Prosper: The Ten Commandments for Making Money leaves off and reveals God’s plan for personal prosperity.  It’s not that God wants us to be rich, but He does want us all to behave in ways that produce prosperity. Among these ways is recognizing that our economic well-being is intertwined with the economic well-being of others.  I am delighted to make it possible for everyone to tap into ancient Jewish wisdom and discover tips and techniques for success. In these difficult economic times, going back to the Source is priceless.

Order alone or as part of our new Financial Book Package

Business Secrets from the Bible, 350x533 Financial Book Package

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Eye Follow My Heart

February 18th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Do you remember seeing the Sharper Image stores that were found in nearly two hundred malls around the country?  After thirty years of retailing innovative gadgets, it failed and folded in 2008.

Entering a Sharper Image store was a visual extravaganza.  Brushed stainless steel, colorful glowing lights, gently oscillating fans and air-purifiers, irresistible massager chairs in elegant leather, and a cornucopia of gadgets overwhelmed the eye.  I found it almost impossible to stroll by that store without entering.  Though I confess that I seldom bought anything.

It turns out that I wasn’t alone.  In the 80s and 90s, cutting edge technological innovation for better living was usually found in specialty stores like Sharper Image.  However, within a few years one could obtain the same advanced functionality from gadgets sold at Office Depot and Best Buy.  Sharper Image lost its competitive edge.  Richard Thalheimer, its founder, confesses to having become complacent.

Obviously, complacency is just as lethal to a business professional as it is to an Olympic competitor.  What complacency sank Sharper Image?  It was mostly failure to recognize that once the novelty faded, high-tech gadgetry would eventually become commoditized.  Once that happened, customers were no longer lured by spectacularly eye-catching displays.  They now shop for features not flashiness.

As merchants and retailers realize, customers are seduced by their eyes.  This is why companies that market fluffy merchandise know to advertise on television and not radio.  If their customer sees their product, they stand a far better chance of selling than if the customer merely hears about the product.

And it behooves us all to realize the extent to which we can also be seduced by our eyes into making bad decisions.

Consider these words:

You shall not pervert judgment…nor take a bribe; for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise…
(Deuteronomy 16:19)

Ancient Jewish wisdom declares that if two litigants stand before the bench in a civil trial, one wearing the clothing of the successful and well-to-do, while the other is dressed in a way suggesting financial hardship, the judge is required to send them away.  He must instruct them to return only when they are dressed similarly for fear he might favor the richer of the two.

One of my great teachers said to me, “But what’s the point? Even if he returns in rags, the judge already knows he is the richer litigant?”  I remember being baffled until he continued speaking.  “He might well know in his head but not in his heart.”  A judge can combat the evil tendency to favor the successful as long as it is in his head.  But if it goes to the heart, it becomes much tougher.

As Woody Allen notoriously said in explanation for his immoral behavior, “The heart wants what the heart wants.”  If the judge sees a rich person versus a poor person, his heart will want to favor the one more likely to help him in the future.  But if he knows in his head which is poor and which is rich he can better win that moral struggle with himself.  Having the two litigants appear in similar clothing removes the dangerous emotional appeal.

It is valuable to understand that when Scripture talks of a ‘judge’ it doesn’t mean only an official of the judiciary.  Scripture is talking to each one of us.  After all, there is hardly an hour of the day when we are not acting as a judge.  Perhaps you are choosing one brand of breakfast cereal over another for your family.  One is less expensive while the other claims unique benefits. You’re the judge.  Perhaps you are choosing one candidate for employment over another. You’re the judge.  Perhaps you are deciding which of your children was the aggressor in a recent argument.  You’re the judge. No matter the circumstances, it always pays to remember how easy it is for a ‘bribe’ to blind the eyes of the wise.

Another forty vital Biblical principles for business await you in my new book Business Secrets from the Bible: Spiritual Success Strategies for Financial Abundance.  Pre-order it from Amazon here and be among the first to get it.

While you wait, listen to my audio CD program Boost Your Income: Three Spiritual Steps for Success.  Finally, you can save even more by ordering the entire Income Abundance Set. Read about it here.

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Feathers and Fashion

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

A beautiful pine tree stands outside my window, obviously irresistible to a pair of woodpeckers.  That towering evergreen makes me happy but so do those two birds.  Whenever I hear the familiar rat-a-tat-tat, I look up with a huge grin in the hope of catching a glimpse of the feathery miscreants.  The male sports splendid streaks of red while the female…you’ll pardon me, but she’s a bit dowdy.

The peacock and the peahen display the same bifurcation of beauty as do male and female mallard ducks; the male sporting an iridescent green head and snappy back while the female makes do in plain-looking mottled brown. Among animals it is almost always the male that nature endows with extra adornment.

At social events, women are glamorously arrayed with make-up, jewelry, and brightly colored fashion while the men appear boring in black tuxedos.  Whether in the workplace or the street, female humans look more ornamental than men. Even at informal gatherings, a man might throw on a pair of jeans and a tee shirt while most women take far more trouble with their appearance.  That’s why fashion giants like Dior, Versace, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Chanel and others flourish on their women’s lines.

To gain a glimpse into God’s sense of the sartorial, we should scrutinize His directions for the clothing of the priests. Exodus 25 launches the construction of the Tabernacle with the words:

And they shall make for me a sanctuary and I shall dwell among them.
(Exodus 25:8)

From that verse all the way through Exodus chapter 30, we read detailed directions for constructing the Tabernacle and its holy articles. (Holy, because through their use in worship, they bring us closer to God).

Right in the middle of meticulous instructions for the menorah and the altar, we take a detour, finding equally detailed instructions for the priests’ clothing.

And you must make holy garments for Aharon your brother…
(Exodus 28:2)

The special Hebrew structure of the verse suggests that, in reality, all garments are “holy garments”.  Clothing is holy because clothing distinguishes us from animals. Anything that differentiates humans from animals brings us closer to God—another way of saying holy.

God could have said something like, “When the priests serve in the Tabernacle, they should wear modest clothing that covers their bodies and that is also clean and neatly pressed.”  Yet we do not find that casual attitude.

From the fact that God chose to issue intricate priestly clothing particulars right in the middle of His directions for constructing things like a menorah and an altar, we know that He views clothing as just as holy as the worship items in the Tabernacle.

Wait, you might think this is true for the clothing of the priests, but not for the rest of us. No, nothing could be further from the truth.   We are all meant to conduct ourselves like priests in these matters.

And you shall all be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation…
(Exodus 19:6)

Why must all the priests wear an identical uniform?  For the same reason that one of the most effective institutions in a culture, the army, also dresses its members identically.  For the same reason that at that fancy gala event, while the women wear different and distinctive dresses, the men dress in evening uniform—the tuxedo.

Animals are driven only by a biological imperative in which the healthiest and showiest male catches the eye of a fertile female.  In contrast, people are driven also by a spiritual imperative. In the human world, females are most attracted to the male capable of subduing his egotistical drive and proclaiming himself part of the team, a wearer of the uniform.

One of our most popular resources is our  Thought Tools Set, Volume 1 and Volume 2. Each contains fifty short but powerful ideas to inspire you and freshen up those stress filled days. You are always in stimulating company with your copy at hand and you’re never short of provocative conversation starters.  Join countless generations who have poured lovingly over these enlightening nuggets of ancient Jewish wisdom. Get them  right now at this week’s special price.

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Marvels and Mysteries of Masculinity

February 4th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Do I really need to issue a disclaimer before getting to the point of this Thought Tool?  Well, maybe, so here goes:  I love women.  Particularly these seven: my wife and six daughters, all of them accomplished, smart, and ambitious.  I think women are amazing whether they are wives and mothers or whether they are plumbers or politicians.  In a way one never saw in the Soviet Union, attractive, well-dressed women on the downtown streets of major western cities add a healthy sense of well-being..  I love women and consider them full and vital partners for any civilized society. Yes, partners—with men.

Okay, so can I now tell you a timeless truth without arousing fiendish feminists into a frenzy of fanaticism?  Here goes:  Skyscrapers, highways, oil-refineries, sewage treatment plants, power stations, bridges and other necessities of civilized life exist because men build them.  I don’t mean that men designed and found financing for them, although that is also mostly true. I mean men blast boulders out of the way, pour foundations on freezing cold mornings, weld steel structures in scorching heat, climb hundreds of feet up in the air on flimsy scaffolding swaying in the wind, dive deep under the surface of the sea to seal wells, build and test engines and turbines producing ear-splitting noise, and so many other crucial activities that attract very few women. Understandably.

To quote one remarkable woman, Professor Camille Paglia, “If civilization had been left in female hands, we would still be living in grass huts.”

To quote another, author Ayn Rand has her successful industrialist Hank Reardon in Atlas Shrugged saying, “Dagny, whatever else we are, it’s we who move the world and it’s we who will pull it through.”

I think it also fair to say that most women are moved by men who move the world.

In most English translations of the Tanach, the Hebrew Scriptures, the words man and men appear about two thousand times.  However, in the Hebrew text, there are four or more different words for man.

GeVeR is the Hebrew word used for man in the context of men, (rather than mankind which would include women) who move the world.

 … go now you mighty men, and serve the Lord…
(Exodus 10:11)

…a mighty man should not wear a woman’s clothing.
(Deuteronomy 22:5)

 Since vowels are interchangeable and because the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Bet, can be pronounced both as a ‘V’ and as a ‘B’ one common variation of the word is GeeBoR, meaning a mighty man.

GBR, GVR 350 pixels

 …Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty man.
(Genesis 10:8)

Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; the weak man should say, ‘I am a mighty man.’
(Joel 4:10)

And it was when Moses raised his hand, Israel conquered (GaVaR) and when he lowered his hand, Amalek conquered (GaVaR).
(Exodus 17:11)

 When a GeVeR exerts his will upon the world and creates change in accordance with his will, he overcomes resistance and conquers  (GaVaR)  the obstacle and in so doing becomes a GeeBoR.

That doesn’t mean every man must make, mend, or operate machinery.  Moving the world is also accomplished by building a business, teaching truth to a new generation or making music, as well as guiding, supporting, defending and leading a happy and harmonious family. When men play those roles, they are described with different Hebrew words.  However, today, the masculinity of men is under serious attack.

With almost no guidance, little girls often still grow into feminine young ladies.  However the same cannot be said of boys.  Without guidance they can easily grow utterly devoid of the good traits of masculinity.  To turn a boy into a masculine man is a job that only another masculine man can accomplish.

Ancient Jewish wisdom extracts many jewels of understanding from the two versions of the saga of Creation (Genesis 1 and 2). One thing we learn from the differing texts is how men, women and the world best interact. In Madam, I’m Adam: Decoding the Marriage Secrets of Eden, we discuss two other Hebrew words for man, and the amazing message that leaps from the page when Adam transitions from one to the other. I invite you to explore this 2 audio CD set and study guide.

 Madam, I'm Adam

 

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Well, Meet My Father-in-Law

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

Having debuted in 2006, Psych is the USA cable network’s longest running original series.  It is set in Santa Barbara but for reasons having to do with production costs and trade unions, the series is filmed in Canada.  The scenery is recognizably coastal British Columbia, which my family and I know well from our summer boating trips.

The hero, the son of a diligent police officer, solves mysteries that baffle the police (of course) using what everyone believes to be his psychic ability.  In truth his secret is the remarkable observational skill his detective dad trained him to develop from the time he was a small child.  Shawn spots what everyone else ignores; the laundry receipt on the floor or a smear of paint on someone’s shoe.

Like Shawn, we can and all should develop our ability to see – no really see – everything, especially when studying Bible.  For instance, consider this apparently unimportant verse:

And Esau was forty years old when he married Judith
the daughter of Be’eiri the Hittite…
(Genesis 26:34)

Do we really need to know the name of Esau’s wife and father-in-law?  After all, we know very few of the names of the wives of the twelve tribes of Israel.  Furthermore, who cares how old Esau was when he married?

It’s time to polish our observational skills and really see the facts that will help solve the mystery.  First, the name of Esau’s father-in-law is “Be’eiri”. It helps to know that the Hebrew word for a well is “Be’eir.” Second, the name Be’eiri appears only one more time in Scripture, in the first verse of Hosea.

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Furthermore, while the word Be’eir, meaning a well, a source of water, appears fewer than thirty times in all the Five Books of Moses, over twenty of these mentions are found in Genesis. What is more, they are all found within a few chapters clustered around our mysterious verse – Genesis 26:34. Both Isaac and Jacob meet their brides at a well. One of the additional mentions is the well at which Moses meets his wife (Exodus 2:15).

In Torah, water is a metaphor for true, God-centered knowledge.  Thus, a well in the context of marriage implies that the couple is bound by a common commitment to the eternal knowledge of God. Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that by seeking out a woman connected to a well, even if this association is only her father’s name, Esau is saying, “Me too!  I am just as connected to God as my father.”

By marrying the daughter of a “well-guy”, Esau is attempting to depict himself to be better than he really was. Without truly clinging to Isaac’s core beliefs and principles, he wants the credit for doing so. He even chooses to marry at exactly the same age as his father did, mistaking this type of external similarity for substance. The atypical inclusion of his age when marrying tips us off that this fact reveals important insights. On the surface, Esau looks good; his inside doesn’t match his outside.  Though easy for the casual reader to miss, all these seemingly innocuous details in Genesis 26:34 combine to depict someone trying to paint himself as more worthy than he really is.

In contrast, the Book of Hosea opens by identifying the prophet as a “well-guy”- a Be’eiri.  Hosea isn’t pretending to associate with true knowledge; it is actually part of him. Though he is soon to marry very unsuitable women, Scripture is disclosing that he is acting upon God’s direct instructions. On the surface, he doesn’t look good; yet he is following Divine wisdom.

It is easy to miss signs that should alert us to someone’s poor character.  We see what a date, employee or employer want us to see, missing what is beneath the surface. Training ourselves carefully to observe details is vital.  We may not be psychic, but we can notice easily overlooked clues.

Our lives today are impacted by Esau and his spiritual descendants. Perhaps we, ourselves, want to turn away from a poor family legacy and start an upstanding new one. Whether we want to understand what is happening in the explosive Middle East or in our private lives, examining Scriptural clues surrounding Esau is vital. Our 2-audio CD program, Clash of Destiny: Decoding the Secrets of Israel and Islam does just that. It is on sale right now, by instant download or mail, full of insights that will change the way you see the world and interact with it.

CLASH OF DESTINY: DECODING THE SECRETS OF ISRAEL AND ISLAMClash of Destiny Case

 

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Passion for the Podium

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

Has anxiety every prevented you from speaking out at a meeting?  Do you attend family weddings and funerals with a dread of being asked to give a toast or eulogy?  Have you demurred when asked to make introductions at conferences?  Have you stumbled through an incoherent attempt to express appreciation after receiving an award? Have you declined an invitation to teach a class?

If you answer yes to any of those questions, you’re missing opportunities to enhance your social life and forfeiting potential propellants for your professional life.

There are dozens of tips for aspiring speakers yet people often ask me what might be the one most important thing to grasp in order to develop public speaking skills.

When friends ask me what is the one most important skill needed to navigate a sailboat from the West Coast to Hawaii or what is the one most important thing to be a good husband/wife my answer is always the same.  There is no one most important thing—there are many equally important skills.

However, when it comes to public speaking, there actually is ‘one most important’ thing. We can find it in ancient Jewish wisdom.

Each of the Five Books of Moses possesses a Hebrew name that uniquely captures the essence of the book.  For instance, Genesis is Bereishit-In the Beginning. It describes the beginning of the world and the beginnings of the people of Israel.  Exodus is Shemot—Names—and teaches both the general and specific significance of names.  Leviticus is Vayikra—And He called—teaching the meaning of a calling such as that of the Levites. Numbers is BaMidbar—In the Desert—addressing our enhanced ability to learn when distractions are absent.  Finally, Deuteronomy, in Hebrew Devarim, means Words.

Isn’t that a rather bland title for the grand finale of the Torah?  After all, every one of the other four books is also filled with words—indeed very important words.  Couldn’t any of the earlier books also have been called, Words?

Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that Deuteronomy is the record of a veritable Niagara-like cascade of words that Moses delivered in a non-stop thirty-day talking marathon during the final month of his life.

What is more, that identical word, Devarim—Words— was used about forty years earlier during Moses’ first conversation with God at the famous Burning Bush.

And Moses said to God, ‘Please Lord, I am not a man of words…’
(Exodus 4:10)

God responds by explaining that Moses’ brother Aaron can help him.  Yet, we don’t ever hear of Aaron speaking for Moses.  Apparently, Moses manages to overcome his impediment even to the extent of delivering a flawless thirty-day speech.

His secret was passion for his mission, which he saw as bringing God’s words to humanity.  Once that passion was ignited in his being, Moses never again experienced difficulty expressing himself in public.

There are so many valuable tips, tools, and techniques for public speaking.  Plan your speech.  Divide it into easily remembered modules.  Memorize a key word for each module then deliver your speech without notes in front of you. Connect with your audience through a little self-deprecating humor.  Use your hands effectively.

Don’t end your sentences in a rising cadence that makes them sound like questions. Make assertive statements instead.  Banish the filler syllable.  A short silence is fine, but stop saying ‘um’ and ‘er’. Speak much more slowly than sounds normal to you. There are many other tips.

However, the one most important thing is to develop passion for your message.  It makes little difference whether you’re planning a toast or a eulogy, a class or an introduction.  Whichever of these or others it might be, you are presenting an idea.  Develop real passion for your message, then get up and speak those words.

You can make mistakes that interfere with getting your message across. One of the worst things you can do is to accustom yourself to hearing or using profanity. I explore how vulgarity threatens relationships and finances in my audio CD, Perils of Profanity: You Are What You Speak. What’s more, I explain why thinking, “I only speak that way with my friends,” is a false premise and why even listening to profanity affects us.  Save even more with an instant download!

 

 

 

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R-E-S-P-E-C-T

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

“He doesn’t treat me with respect,” she complained bitterly.  What exactly does she mean?  Did he fail to rise from his La-Z-Boy recliner when she entered the room?  Did he speak to her brusquely or patronizingly? Without further explanation, it’s difficult to know whether he’s a lout or whether she is excessively demanding.

The Hebrew word for respect—KaVoD—is the same as the Hebrew word for heavy or weighty—KaVeD.

KVD honor and weighty cropped

This helps us understand that treating someone or something with respect means according due weightiness.  For this reason, we use the word gravitas in English. Gravitas, derived from the Latin for gravity, implies weightiness. Without gravity, nothing would have any weight.

It wasn’t a new idea when Aretha Franklin sang in 1967, “…all I’m askin’ is for a little respect…”  Eve did so far earlier.  Let’s examine a conversation between Eve and the serpent.

…and [the serpent] said to the woman,
“Is it true that God told you not to eat of any of the trees of the garden?”
(Genesis 3:1)

As any sales professional knows, never ask a prospect a question that can be answered with a yes or a no. That makes it too easy to end the conversation.  A man trying to engage a woman in conversation knows the same thing.  And the serpent, up to no good, knows he must engage Eve.

Ordinarily, she might never have stooped to converse with the serpent but his scurrilous implication is too much for her to bear.  She has to defend God from that defamatory accusation.

Therefore, she responded saying:

…from the fruit of trees in the garden we may eat.
…from the… tree in the middle of the garden,
God said don’t eat of it and don’t touch it lest you die.
(Genesis 3:2-3)

Wait a minute!  Eve wasn’t present in the garden when God told Adam in Genesis 2:17 that the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was prohibited.  God said nothing to Adam about touching the tree!

Clearly, after Eve joined Adam, he related to her the prohibition against eating the fruit of the special tree.  However, ancient Jewish wisdom points out that Adam added an extra prohibition of his own.  He told Eve that death would result not only from eating the fruit of the tree but also from merely touching the tree.

Ancient Jewish wisdom fills in more hidden information.  After Eve finished speaking to the serpent in Genesis 3:3, he ‘accidentally’ stumbled against her and pushed her into the tree.  After she touched the tree, the serpent says to her:

…you won’t die…
(Genesis 3:4)

The serpent’s logic is impeccable. You’ve touched the tree and nothing happened. The bit about dying if you eat of the fruit must be equally false.  Whereupon Eve tasted from the fruit and gave also to Adam (Genesis 3:6)

Adam could have said, “We want to obey God and not eat of the fruit of that tree. Let’s place an additional obstacle for our safety. Let’s decide even to not touch the tree.

But he didn’t.  Adam treated Eve as if she was a child pretending that his idea was God’s word.  He showed disrespect by not allowing her to carry the weight of full knowledge and a shared decision.  The consequences were fatal.

It is so much easier to tell our employees, spouses and friends what we have decided rather than to request feedback or share our reasoning. While in unequal relationships (such as with children) this might be necessary occasionally, most of us err by doing so too frequently. According respect is basic human dignity. It is also wise policy and we benefit from this deeper understanding of the above verses.

One area sorely missing respect is relationships. We immerse our young in a sexualized culture, degrading a wondrous and wonderful gift of God. I can’t highly enough recommend Gila Manolson’s book, Hands Off! This May Be Love: God’s Gift for Enduring Relationships (which we proudly publish). This enjoyable combination of anecdotes, science and God’s word. It is a necessary read for anyone in junior high, high school or college, and those who love them. I invite you to read more here.

Hands Off! This May Be Love: God’s Gift for Enduring Relationships

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