Me, Me, Me!

This fellow I know runs a struggling consulting business.  The advice he delivers is of high quality–I know because I have consulted with him once or twice.  Yet he struggles.  He agonizes about his lack of success. He is proud of his professional competence but is baffled by his competitors who vastly outperform him financially, though his skills and experience are superior to theirs.

Obviously there could be many reasons to account for his lackluster growth.  Maybe he makes mistakes in his marketing or perhaps he should adjust his pricing but these are relatively easy to fix. This fellow has worked on that yet he continues to fail.  And I know why.  But he’s never asked me so I’ve never told him.  Unsolicited advice is seldom welcome.

I know what his problem is because he unknowingly reveals it to me.  In casual conversation he has often said things like this: “You know that builder friend of yours, do you think you could get him to do me a favor?”  Or this: “At that birthday party I attended last night I met a lawyer with whom I hit it off; I think his wide range of contacts could help me.”  Even this: “Remember you suggested I look up Mr. Jones while I was in Chicago? I did and I can’t see what good he could do me.”

Not once has he ever said to me, “If you ever encounter a struggling entrepreneur whom you think I could help, call me and I’ll help him pro bono.”  Or, “I looked up Jones as you suggested and I’d really like to help him. Do you have any idea of what the best way would be to do so?”  In other words, this fellow sees the world only in terms of how it could benefit him.  He sees his connection with the world as a great big pipe with a one-way valve ensuring that goodness and abundance only flow inbound.

At first glance, this would appear to be sound business strategy.  Focus on getting rather than giving and evaluate people only in terms of what they can do for you.  However, nothing could be further from the truth.  Our behavior shapes our personalities and, with the passage of time, it also sculpts our faces.  Sure enough, to my eyes, this fellow has, in the last few years, acquired an unappealing self-centeredness.  He seems even less interested in me, my family, and my life than he used to be.

God designed His world to incentivize us to be obsessively preoccupied with the needs and desires of His other children.  He does so by bestowing upon us the enormous blessing of financial abundance in proportion to how many of His other children we please and how significantly we please them.  Most of us prefer being pleased by people who at least appear to be as interested in our needs as they are in their own.  When I encounter a sales professional who radiates only self-interest I take my business elsewhere.

One way to make our personalities and faces radiate a pleasing effect is to engage in regular acts of giving.  Each evening as we privately perform our daily self-evaluation, we ought to make certain that we devoted ourselves just as much to giving as we did to getting.  That includes not only time, energy and resources but also love, recognition, and attention.

Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that every strength comes with a parallel weakness.  For all the strengths and advantages the oldest sibling acquires, he also should be extra vigilant about becoming overly self-centered.

You might remember the story from Numbers chapter 32 when, upon the eve of Israel’s conquering the Promised Land, the tribes of Reuven and Gad requested to settle on the east side of the Jordan River where they had encountered excellent grazing for their animals. Moses reacts quite angrily, accusing them of abandoning their brethren as the tribes approach the impending war for the land of Israel,

Once the two tribes explained that of course they meant to settle in Transjordan only after helping fight the war of acquisition, Moses was still not placated.  He remained critical of them.

What bothered Moses?  They betrayed their true interests when they told Moses that they’d build enclosures for their animals and cities for their children before joining the war alongside their brothers. (Numbers 32:16)

When Moses responded, he reversed the order, pointing out that their priority ought to be their children, not their wealth.  (Numbers 32:24)  Children are one of the primary vehicles God uses to train us to become happy givers.

Moses was well aware that the two tribes involved were first born sons. Reuven was Leah’s first born son (Genesis 29:32) and Gad was Zilpah’s first born son (Genesis 30:10-11).

Moses recognized the negative tendency of egotism which can infect the first born who has a stint as the ‘one and only’ child. He can be prone to self-centeredness and self-centeredness tends to isolate us from other people.

A few years later, Joshua berated these two tribes (Joshua 22) because they built their own altar to God instead of joining in worship with their brothers in Jerusalem.  Their eventual comeuppance was that they were the first tribes to be exiled when Israel was later attacked by her enemies.

The regular practice of giving stimulates awareness of and connectedness with others.  If the fellow I know would learn this truth, immediate and tangible benefits would flow to him as they would to all who follow God’s plan for human economic interaction.

I would like to give you an incredible sale price on two life-changing books and three hours of audio CD. Invest in my Income Abundance Set and gain insights such as the one above. If you already own it, may I suggest flexing your giving muscle by gifting the set to someone who this resource can help lead a more successful life, both spiritually and financially.

Save an additional $10 right now on The Income Abundance Set

IncomeAbundanceSet, March 2014

 

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Make the NEW Rabbi Daniel Lapin PODCAST part of your week

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Welcome to the Upper Class

Some Republican politicians shock me when they make statements like these.

“My tax plan will benefit the working class.”

“We must show how much we care for the poor.”

“It’s not only the rich who’ll benefit…”

“We don’t have to worry about the upper class.”

“Crime is concentrated among the lower class.”

By adopting the language of Karl Marx they surrender to socialism.  Socialism’s core belief is secularism whose paramount doctrine is that there is no God directing humanity; no God decreeing morality.  Socialism insists that all you see around you is materialism and it owes its origins to nothing but unaided, random physical and chemical processes.  It follows that every human being is little more than about $9.50 worth of common chemicals cunningly arranged. A little carbon, some oxygen and a dash of hydrogen; throw in some potassium, nitrogen, and a few other elements, and bingo! You’ve got a person.  This is the central organizing principle of secular fundamentalism.

What about hopes and dreams?  What about inspiring memories of great ancestors?  What about selfless love and devotion?  All of that is nothing but biological determinism.  Perhaps you mistakenly think you’re drawn to charity, compassion and altruism but it is nothing more than a few neurons firing in your brain creating illusions whose entire purpose is only biological survival.  You are no more than a cat, a cow, a kangaroo or a camel.  You are an animal.  You may be smarter than some animals. You may have less hair than some animals. You may run slower than some animals but you run faster than others.  They eat, defecate, mate and die.  So do you.  You are just another species of animal.  That, in a nutshell, is the sacred sacrament of socialism.

Naturally, if you are an animal, you need either a zookeeper or a farmer to whom you belong.  He will take care of you and you owe him all your productivity.  The center of your existence is not the ‘G’ of God but the ‘g’ of government.

Rich and poor have specific meaning in the Bible and do not define anyone’s essence.  Unlike animals, humans are touched by the finger of God and can grow.  Animals have only a present.  Unlike anteaters and zebras, we have a past and a future as well.  Was the pitiful tycoon, Howard Hughes, living a lonely and paranoid existence really rich? Is the young and underpaid medical resident working 12 hour shifts and sharing a tiny apartment with three other doctors-in-training, really poor?

A goldfish without enough food can be thought of as poor.  A mouse living in a grain warehouse can be considered rich.  But those terms do not apply to humans.  For humans those terms are relative.  No matter your finances, you can easily find someone with far less than you as you can find someone with far more.  Look one way and you can feel rich, while a glance in the other direction can make you feel poor.

As for the term ‘working class’ just who is that supposed to mean?  Almost everyone I know goes to work five or six days a week and that includes most of the super-successful people I know.  Most heirs to large fortunes as well as those bequeathed significant trust funds work hard in various enterprises.

As for the terms upper class and lower class, most politicians use them as synonyms for rich and poor respectively.  This sheer nonsense is predicated entirely on the underlying belief that humans are just like any other livestock.  Upper class horses race, lower class horses pull wagons and get turned into glue.  Upper class bovines breed while lower class buffalo pull ploughs.

The truth is that none of these terms apply to humans.  There is a very good reason why the Bible opens with the words:

In the beginning God created heaven and earth.
(Genesis 1:1)

rather than:

In the beginning God created everything.

or, if you prefer the poetic:

In the beginning God created the entire universe and all that is in it.

Ancient Jewish wisdom explains what the words ‘heaven’ and ‘earth’ teach us that would not have been conveyed by ‘everything’ or by ‘the entire universe.’

Heaven means the spiritual attributes of reality while earth refers to the physical.  God is teaching us right from the very outset that the world is both a physical and a spiritual reality.  There are things you can measure in a laboratory like food and water, and there are equally important things you cannot such as love and loyalty.

We humans, created in God’s image are chiefly distinguishable from animals by our ability to know the spiritual.  Indeed, our lives would be painfully incomplete without it.  Most of the important decisions and choices confronting us every day require us to weigh spiritual implications as much as we evaluate the physical.

I delve into this informatively and entertainingly in this special episode of my new podcast.  If you have any desire to learn how to include spiritual factors in the decisions you make you should click here and listen for free now.

Oh yes, as for upper class and lower class, what do they really mean?  Upper class people, regardless of their bank balances, are people who honor their past and plan for their future.  Lower class people, regardless of their riches, live only in and for the present.  Having abandoned every vestige of self-restraint, they succumb to every momentary urge and condemn themselves and their unfortunate offspring to utter hopelessness.

Please help a few young people that you know step onto the escalator that will lift them to the upper class.  I ask you to do so by giving them a copy of Hands Off! This May Be Love. This is one of the most important books we have published and especially in the climate surrounding young adults today it provides food for thought that is indispensable for the shaping of a successful life.

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Do the Wright Thing

If you’re trying to build a business, sustain a marriage, raise children or if you’re engaged in any other long-term challenging project, there is a lesson to be found in the story of flight.

It was the fall of 1900;  Wilbur and Orville Wright were living in a tent on the barren windswept sand dunes of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, about 75 miles southeast of Norfolk, Virginia and about 200 miles east of Raleigh, North Carolina.  Today you can easily drive to Kitty Hawk via the concrete Wright Memorial Bridge, but the Wright brothers had to take a hazardous two day sail in a leaky old schooner from Elizabeth City on the Pasquotank River.

Once there, everything was a challenge.  They constantly worried about their business and their father and sister back in Dayton, Ohio.  Drinking water, food, and supplies were hard to come by. The wind repeatedly demolished their tent.  But of course the wind was why they were there in the first place.  Each time their primitive gliding machines were damaged, they meticulously rebuilt them.

At that time, it was positively assumed that flying was impossible. Even the Washington Post categorically declared that, “man cannot fly”.  That was all there was to it.  The Wright brothers were surely engaged in a fool’s errand.  Traveling backwards and forwards between Kitty Hawk where they tried to fly and Dayton where their bicycle business needed attention, they struggled with failure after failure for three long years until they finally flew a heavier-than-air machine for the first time in human history on December 17th, 1903.

One can but imagine the countless disappointments, frustrations, doubts, and worries that must have plagued Orville and Wilbur year after grueling year.  They were alone, neither brother having married. They didn’t even have a coach, let alone a therapist.  They were mocked for their dreams and for their determination.  Yet there is no record of the brothers having suffered from depression or even from periods of melancholy.

Let’s see if we can understand the Wright brothers’ emotional equilibrium by traveling further back than a mere 110 years ago.  The first person who suffered from sadness was Cain.

…and Cain was very angry, and his face fell.
(Genesis 4:5)

Cain was the first person in history to think of bringing God a present.

…and Cain brought a gift to God from the fruit of the earth.
(Genesis 4:3)

He was quickly imitated by Abel who did the same, bringing his gift from among his sheep.  God approved of Abel’s gift but rebuffed Cain’s.  Consequently, Cain was very upset.

God immediately asked Cain what was bothering him.

And God said to Cain, ‘Why are you upset and why is your face so down?’ 

(Genesis 4:6)

Now that is a very strange question for God to have asked Cain.

Cain surely should have responded: “You ask why I’m upset?  You ask why I’m feeling down?  Isn’t it obvious to you, Lord?  I’m miserable because you rejected my gift even though I was the first to think of bringing You an offering!  That’s why I’m upset.”

With such an obvious answer, it is a strange question for God to have asked.  Even stranger is that Cain does not supply that obvious answer.  In fact, Cain says absolutely nothing in response to God’s question.  So God continues talking to Cain who seems to ignore Him and heads off to do away with his brother.

Ancient Jewish wisdom explains God’s question by explaining that the only time God permits us the indulgence of despair and sorrow is if there is nothing at all we can do to change our circumstances.  Under all other conditions, God prefers that we set about solving the problem causing the gloom.

…the Israelites lifted their eyes and saw the Egyptians chasing after them and they were frightened and cried out to God.
(Exodus 14:10)

And God’s response?

And God said to Moses, why do you cry to me, order the Children of Israel to march forward.

(Exodus 14:15)

The Israelites were scared and dispirited as they stood impotently on the shores of the Red Sea watching their foes draw nearer.  God permits them no emotional weakness or passive hand-wringing.  Instead, God directs them to take action to solve their problem.  This they do.  They start marching into the Red Sea and in response, God splits it.

One might have thought that one occasion when unmitigated sadness is allowed is during mourning. Yet ancient Jewish wisdom stresses that even then, after a short period, we should focus more on extolling the memory of the deceased than on immersing ourselves in sorrow.

The Hebrew word for ‘mourner’ AVeL is the same as the Hebrew word for ‘but’ AVaL.

                                                                                                                        אבל              אבל

mourning           but

Even mourning has a time limit and an intensity limit.  We might be in mourning, BUT the memories are good.  This is the end of everything, BUT life continues.  How can I continue living without that person?  BUT you can.  Even in the sorrow of mourning, after an appropriate interval, we are expected to reintegrate ourselves back into what is now the new normal of life.

It all becomes clearer now.  God asked why Cain was miserable because He expected Cain to do something about it.  God expected Cain to look into his heart and understand why his gift was rejected.  Cain should have taken the necessary steps to right his relationship with God and all would have been well.  God even gave him hints of how to accomplish this.

…if you behave better, you’ll be accepted…

(Genesis 4:7)

Like so many of us, Cain was immersed in his feelings. Rather than changing himself, he disastrously struck out at his brother.

The Wright Brothers succeeded by responding differently than Cain. They reacted to each setback, not with anguish but with action.  Each failure propelled them not to heartache but to exertion and effort.  So whatever grand life challenge we find ourselves engaged in, our response to setback and failure should not be a retreat to passive and self-indulgent sadness.  Positive action is the antidote.

If I may be personal for a minute, it was quite a blow when KSFO cancelled my top-ranking radio show in exchange for paid programming. I quickly researched alternatives and began broadcasting at WC4Y.com, adjusting to a very different type of show. I appreciate more than you can know, those of you who followed and stayed with me through technical and other difficulties. Having made my own efforts, God has now blessed me with a new opportunity, a podcast on the Blaze radio. I hope you will enjoy my new podcasts. In celebration, we put our Library Pack PLUS on sale right now. Save over $25 on this incredible package of twenty-three illuminating and entertaining resources full of action tips for a better life.

LibraryPackPlus with BSB, April 2014

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Grow Without Gaining a Pound

Success in life is not, as is popularly claimed, who you know.  Neither is it what you know.  While those two are both important, success in life ultimately depends upon what you are.  And by that I mean whether you are a petty, little person or whether you are a great giant of a human.  Tiny little people fail, those with huge and humble hearts succeed.

What is more, a big-minded individual on the wrong track can more easily navigate a turnaround than someone small who tends to remain stuck where he is.

Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that while on route from Egypt to the Promised Land, Israel encountered several nations including Amalek, Amon, and Moab.

The Amalekites, intending genocide, attacked Israel from the rear, targeting the weak and vulnerable.

 Remember what Amalek did to you on your way out of Egypt; how he confronted you on the way and struck at your rear, all who were weak straggling behind you, when you were faint and weary…

(Deuteronomy 25:17-18)

God’s response to the Amalekites was to declare them Israel’s permanent enemies deserving of total obliteration.

 …you shall blot out all memory of Amalek from beneath the heavens, do not forget.

(Deuteronomy 25:19)

The Amonites and the Moabites refused to give even the basics of bread and water to the Israelites. God’s response to them was that they could never be accepted as converts to the faith of Israel.

 An Amonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord… Because they did not meet you with bread and water on your way out of Egypt…

(Deuteronomy 23:4-5)

 To summarize:

Amalek must be wiped out.  However, prior to that, any individual Amalekite may convert to Judaism. Jewish history actually contains examples of this happening. In contrast, Amonites and Moabites may not be attacked, but they may not convert.

One would think that intending to commit genocide and terminating the people of Israel is a greater evil than failing at hospitality.  Yet, mysteriously, Amonites and Moabites are permanently disqualified from becoming Jewish.

One clue to solving this mystery is that selfishness easily explains the actions of Amon and Moab.  By ignoring the hungry Israelites they saved themselves both the trouble and cost of feeding the tired travelers.  Amon and Moab gained by their meanness.

However, when Amalek attacked, they had nothing to gain.  Indeed, their attack carried costs which they were quite content to bear.  They were driven by ideology.  An evil ideology to be sure, but they were not driven by the pettiness of Amon and Moab.

Here is a timeless truth of this story.  God wants His people to grow to greatness.

In order to make sense of it all, we must understand the distinction between great and small as clearly as we understand the distinction between good and evil.  There are actions which are great and good, just as there are actions which are great and evil.  A soldier risking his life to save the lives of his comrades or parents selflessly devoting themselves year after year to the nurturing of their children are actions that are both great and good.  Stalin was undeniably evil; he was capable of such incalculable wickedness because his personality and abilities were great.

There are actions which are small and good just as there are actions which are small and evil.  Smiling rather than scowling when we are out and about is a small and good action whereas failing to remove from the sidewalk the fecal mess deposited by your dog is a small and evil act.

Amalek is great and evil whereas Amon and Moab are small and evil.  Most small and petty people remain forever that way.  They do small good things or small and bad things, but they are always small.

However, those of greatness, even if they use their greatness for evil, are capable of transformation.  Ancient Jewish wisdom tells of a notoriously successful and ruthless robber.  One day he encountered a rabbi who inspired him.  His great powers that had been dedicated to evil, soon turned to good.  He ended up marrying his mentor’s sister and became a great rabbi whose wisdom is taught to this day.

We can similarly transform our lives by shedding the shackles of smallness.  When we stop thinking small, stop acting small, stop harboring trite jealousies and thoughts, and stop seeing ourselves as capable only of small achievement, anything becomes possible.  Striving for greatness of soul and spirit opens the way to never-imagined vistas of brilliant opportunity.  But the key is escaping the prison of pettiness.

Learn to give generously of both your emotional and material self.  Learn to be magnanimous towards all.  Ignore insults the way a high-flying jetliner ignores delinquent on the ground futilely throwing stones at it.  Learn to spend your time only on pursuits that befit a great human being.  Let all your speech be worthy of posterity.  Learn to be great.

I realize that I have given you true and worthy advice in much the same way that I might advise an aspiring painter, “Just put down on canvas what your soul sees.”  It’s not so easy.  Knowing what to do doesn’t translate to being able to do. My advice is to start with speech, and I’d like to suggest using my audio CD, Perils of Profanity: You Are What Your Speak as a guide. Its scope is more than just profanity, though that is a scourge of our time, and it provides a worthy tool for enlarging your income, your social life and most of all, yourself.

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Never Marry Your Aunt

 

One of my least favorite laws was the National Speed Limit law of 1974 that mandated 55 miles per hour as the legal maximum.  Government assured us that it would save gasoline that, back then, we were lining up at gas stations to buy at, gasp! 55 cents a gallon. Of course the law did nothing of the sort, not even cutting the country’s fuel usage by a half of a percent.  Furthermore, I was hardly the only citizen who utterly ignored that law.  While cruising at a comfortable 85 along some straight and deserted highway in Montana or Nevada I was frequently overtaken by cars whooshing by in a blur.  Finally recognizing its futility, Congress repealed the law in 1995 returning speed limit decisions to the states.

How did they come up with the 55 miles per hour number back in 1974?  I hate to disillusion you, but some anonymous bureaucrats sat in an anonymous committee and pulled the number out of the air.  I’d have theorized that perhaps a brave and anonymous bureaucrat did it all on his own but then I realized that bureaucrats only make decisions from behind the safety shield of a committee.  So it was a committee that determined the magic number to be 55.  They could also have ruled 50, 60 or even 70.  Whatever they decided would become the law.  There are other laws like this; filing your income tax return by April 15, walking barefoot through the airport metal detector, and not buying more than 16 ounces of sugary drinks in New York City.  Laws like these are proscriptive laws. Some person or group of people with authority, proscribed them to be the law.  They could have made tax day May 29, they could have said you have to strip to your underwear at the airport, and they could have made 12 ounce Slurpees the maximum allowed.

However, there is another category of laws that I call descriptive laws.  These include the law of gravity which says that anyone who steps out of a window on the twentieth floor of a building will plummet downwards to a sudden and fatal stop on the sidewalk below.  There is no bureaucratic committee that can modify that law to apply only on Mondays.  This law does not proscribe. Instead it describes how the world really works.

Boyle’s Law and Charles’ Law state that expanding gases must cool down.  These convenient two laws make refrigerators and air conditioners possible.  There is no bureaucratic committee anywhere that can repeal these laws.  They were not created at the whim of Robert Boyle or Jacques Charles.  They describe reality.

Are Scriptural laws, for instance the one prohibiting men from marrying their aunts and women from marrying their nephews, proscriptive or descriptive?  (Leviticus 18:12 & 20:19)

In other words, would violating this law result in a penalty only if caught by a law enforcement officer or is the consequence intrinsic and automatic like gravity?

The first clue is that God’s concern is clearly not genetic. If it was, the Torah would also prohibit men from marrying their nieces and women from marrying their uncles.  Yet marriages with exactly the same genetic element are permitted.

What possible reason could God have for prohibiting a man from marrying his aunt but permitting him to marry his niece?  Likewise, why prohibit a woman from marrying her nephew while permitting her to marry her uncle?  While we need to listen to God regardless of whether we understand His reasoning, we are supposed to look for underlying truths He is imparting to us.

Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that that most women yearn to look up to the man they marry.  Sadly, many men discover that when poor conduct costs them the respect of their wives, the marriage is challenging to sustain and very hard to rescue. (While women also need to be respected by their husbands, it is a different form of respect.) Could the law we are discussing help tilt the odds towards successful marriage?

Ideally, in a thriving society, marriages draw inspiration and guidance from ancestors.  Many homes proudly display pictures of grandparents on the walls.  How often I hear women say, “My husband’s grandfather taught him how to…”  In my own case, I know how influential my wife’s grandmother was in her life. We even named our oldest daughter after her.

With admirable multi-generational awareness in a healthy family, a patriarch or matriarch is vitally important.  Now, if a man marries his aunt, then she is one generation closer to the cherished grandparents than he is.  This makes it just a tiny bit more difficult for him to retain his wife’s respect.  After all, she is a closer link in the transmission than he is.

However when a man marries his niece or a woman marries her uncle, the husband is a generation closer to the grandparents and the family heritage.  This is admittedly a small matter, but marriage is so difficult to do well and so remarkably rewarding when it is done well, that even tiny little things can make a difference. With this seemingly random Biblical law that affects very few people, the Bible provides a practical lesson even for those of us who don’t marry relatives.  It has nothing to do with arbitrary, proscriptive rules. Instead, it describes a feature of marriage and intergenerational life we would all do well to understand.

Many of the details in the first three chapters of Genesis provide descriptions of spiritual laws that God built into male/female relationships. We can ignore or object to these laws, or we can embrace and take advantage of them (even when our government and society condemn us for doing so). We expand on many of them in our 2 audio CD set, Madam, I’m Adam: Decoding the Marriage Secrets of Eden. Every couple, from dating to those celebrating Golden anniversaries can enjoy and benefit by learning how God’s world really works. Today more than ever, you need to make sure that those you love get exposed to the truth. The Supreme Court can proscribe laws; Genesis describes them.

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