Make ‘em, Don’t Break ‘em

Have you noticed how politicians in every country, even those only slightly influenced by the teachings of Karl Marx, tend to drive wedges between segments of the electorate?  They specialize in fanning the flames of resentment of the poor against the rich.  They encourage women to see men as their enemies.  And of course they increase hostility between people on the basis of the color of their skin.

Marx encouraged communist leaders to divide the population by class, race, and gender and to exacerbate grudges between them.  Secular fundamentalist seekers of political prestige do this almost instinctively.  They do it because it consolidates their power.  When your constituents are busy fighting each other, they have little time and less energy to oppose you. What is more, they all turn to you as referee, peacemaker, and allocator of rewards.

If you’ve noticed this in politics, you may also have encountered it in business.  Many so-called business leaders lead by fomenting savage battles among those they lead.  Doing so makes them more difficult to topple in any boardroom battle.  They believe that making team members see one another as competitors is more effective than defeating real marketplace competitors.  It is not only for-profit businesses; some churches and synagogues are plagued with this kind of leadership.

I have even seen parents who deliberately fuel ferocious fights among their children.  It makes them feel more loved by the children who, deprived of sibling support, vie for parental affection.  Increasingly we see, masquerading as leaders, men and women who specialize in splitting their followers into warring factions.  People are now accustomed to leaders who foster dissent, dispute and division.

A leader does not need to be maliciously intent on this mischief I have been describing.  Because squabbling is the default condition of humanity, a “Do-Nothing” leader will have exactly the same effect.  In his desperate desire to avoid conflict and escape decision making that will inevitably disappoint somebody, this kind of leader produces the same state of simmering tension in his organization.

Only the rare leader, possessing both a sense of security and a strong character builds unity in his organization as part of his mission.  Yet this is precisely what ancient Jewish wisdom expects from leadership.

Though Hebrew words such as ‘manhig’ meaning ‘leader’ have found modern usage in Israel, they don’t exist in Scripture.  This is because Scripture is more specific, preferring words for military leader, religious leader, and so on rather than a generic leader. The point is that just as a driver of a car is not necessarily able to drive a motorcycle, a jet plane, or a railway locomotive, a leader of one type of organization is not necessarily adept at leading other kinds of groups.

Nonetheless, the Scriptural word most relevant to our exploration of leadership is MeLeCH, translated as king.

As usual, when trying to probe the inner meaning of a word, we locate its first usage in the Torah.

And it came to pass in the days of Amrafel, king [MeLeCH] of Shinar,…
(Genesis 14:1)

That chapter continues to contain more than 25 usages of MeLeCH, king, which is fully one third of all the usages of ‘king’ in the Torah.  No other Torah chapter contains more than five uses of ‘king’.

This non-uniform distribution of a word like king, tells us that Genesis 14 discloses important insights to king and leader.  Clearly, we are intended to study the contrast between the 9 kings engaged in the first world war of history, and the ultimate victor of the entire conflict, Abraham.

In reading Genesis 14 we learn that much of humanity then was locked into rebellion, subjugation and warfare.  Not only was each king incapable of maintaining unity among his own people, he wasn’t even able to keep the peace with his fellow-kings.

By contrast, Abraham led only 318 men.  The Hebrew text alludes to them as those Abraham raised and educated.  (Genesis 14:14)  Isn’t that a wonderful way of viewing those you are responsible for leading?

The unity that Abraham engendered among his small band of followers was a main factor in the defeat he administered to the large military forces of the kings.

Not only does the Torah’s first usage of a word disclose secrets but also the last.  The final use of the word ‘king’ in the Torah is this:

And it was that when there was a king [MeLeCH]  in Yeshurun [Israel] the heads of the people were gathered together, the tribes of Israel were unified.
(Deuteronomy 33:5)

Which is to say that only when Israel had a real leader, a king worth of being called a king, did unity reign among the people.  As a leader, it is very tempting to allow disagreement to fester among your people as it appears to make you indispensable.  However this is a very short term strategy.  If your field of vision extends beyond the next election or the next annual report, you will want to lead Biblically and train others in your group to lead in the same way.

If, like me, you believe that the Bible is God’s blueprint for running our lives in the most effective way, you want to access as much learning as possible. In the process of tidying, we have found ten Complete Library Packs. Each Pack contains 18 resources (books, DVDs, audio CDs) to provide practical, entertaining and effective wisdom from Scripture. To clear them out, we are drastically reducing the price – you will want to snatch up this bargain quickly.

COMPLETE LIBRARY PACKAGE

LibraryPackage with BSB, April 2014

Posted in Thought Tools | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Places I Remember

It’s sometimes difficult to force yourself to do your work, isn’t it?  Perhaps you allow the plague of procrastination to infect your soul.  Maybe you find unproductive ways to persuade yourself that you’re working, even though you’re not doing what really needs to be done.  How do we know what really needs to be done? One answer is whether the activity produces revenue from someone who is free to accept or decline your goods or services.

There is another way to know if we’re doing work, perhaps cooking or taking care of our home.  We can ask ourselves, “Who am I benefiting by doing what I am doing?” If the answer is, “Nobody!” or “Myself!” or even a vague, “Humanity!” then you’re probably not doing work.

In the Lord’s language, Hebrew, one word, AVoDaH, is used for serving God and for serving His children—in other words, work.  One way of serving God is through prayer and, though, of course, we can pray anywhere, there is an advantage to praying in a fixed place.

We learn from ancient Jewish wisdom that Abraham had a regular place to speak with God. There he prayed for Sodom (Genesis 18:23). Amazingly, after God destroyed Sodom despite his prayers, Abraham returned to the same place to continue praying to God.

And Abraham went [to pray] early in the morning to the place [MaKOM]
where he stood [in prayer]  before the Lord.
(Genesis 19:27)

By contrast, less praiseworthy people than Abraham changed their places of prayer when they failed to get the results they desired.  Rather than accepting a “no” or searching within themselves, they assumed the fault must lie in the geography and jumped from place to place.

And Balak said to him [Balam]  ‘please come with me to another place [MaKOM]  from where you may see them [Israel]… and curse them for me from there.’
(Numbers 23:13)

This word, MaKOM, place, whenever used in Tanach, always refers to a space with some Godly connection.  So powerful is this relationship between a special space—MaKOM—and God, that there is a compelling numerical clue.

The holy four letter name of God in Hebrew, known as the Tetragrammaton, comprises the following four letters, Yud, Heh, Vav, and Heh.

yud,hay, vav, hay

The numeric values of those letters are 10, 5, 6, and 5 respectively.  If those four letters define God’s name linearly as it were, then it follows that squaring them brings us to an awareness of God that is more spatial.

This process is similar to how we’d discover the area of a square field if we know the length of the side to be 10 yards.  We square the line of 10 yards and obtain an area of 100 square yards.

What happens when we square these four letters?

ten,five, six, five squared

Now, add together the four letters making up the Hebrew word MaKOM (place).

makom186equals186
So, in a sense, the “area” of God’s name gives us the Hebrew word for place, MaKOM.  Thus, when a special place is chosen, it possesses spiritual significance.  Yes, it is true that I can do my AVoDaH, meaning both my worship and my work serving others, almost anywhere.  I can pray on the bow of my small boat anchored off an island in British Columbia and thereafter, I can open my laptop and write a Thought Tool intended to bring useful data into your life.

Tod Inlet

However, both my prayer and my work get an additional boost if I do them in a fixed place.  Prayer is best when uttered in a space dedicated for that purpose and work flourishes when done in a place reserved for that purpose.

This is why one of the best ways of coping with the challenge of forcing yourself to focus on your work is to take yourself to the right MaKOM; the correct place for doing that work. Even if you must travel, it is beneficial to recreate the feel of your work or prayer place as much as possible.  Sometimes, even just the action of picking yourself up and moving to the right MaKOM brings God’s blessing to your efforts.

When different names for God are used throughout Tanach, it reveals more than literary variation. Like MaKOM, each name has unique implications. If you enjoyed this Thought Tool you will love the deeper meanings of God’s names that I reveal in our 2 audio CD set, The Gathering Storm: Decoding the Secrets of Noah. Suddenly, the dimensions given for the ark make sense in an astounding way. This resource will help you protect your family from troublesome times just as Noah was able to provide safety for his wife and children. Take advantage of special pricing right now.

TGS_small

Posted in Thought Tools | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off

Young Man, Choose Wisely

Any German living under the Nazi regime, who announced that he had Jewish friends, was being politically incorrect.  He was also being shockingly imprudent and probably reckless. Any Russian living under Stalin, who proclaimed his admiration for the American ideal of freedom, was being politically incorrect.  He was also being imprudent and reckless.  Any Moslem living in Pakistan, Qatar, Brunei or any of the many other countries in which Sharia is the law of the land, who expresses enthusiasm for Christianity is politically incorrect, imprudent and dangerously reckless.

Any American today, living under the oppression of the country’s dominant faith, secular fundamentalism, who professes belief in the God of Abraham and in the Bible is being politically incorrect. If he works in entertainment, government, or education he is also being imprudent and reckless. He won’t imperil his life as in my earlier examples but he will certainly jeopardize his job.  Just ask Professors Mark Armitage, Richard Sternberg, and Guillermo Gonzalez.

Like any bully resorting to force after failing to persuade by fact and reason, secularism silences dissent with suppression, ridicule, and threat.  The underlying belief of secularism is that we humans are nothing more than super-evolved primates.  You think you’re touched by the finger of God?  Don’t be ridiculous! You’re just an animal with all the healthy appetites of an animal.  If it feels good, do it.

This is one reason you hear so little in America popular culture about the benefits that virginity brings to marriage.  As the sexual revolution runs its course and nears the end of its natural lifespan of about fifty years several serious publications and institutions are rediscovering the advantages of being married to your only lover.  However, since this runs counter to the secular urge to indoctrinate young people into premature sexuality, such information is deemed politically incorrect and it is either entirely suppressed or if it does sneak into view, it is instantly ridiculed. This is truly the behavior of the bully who no longer even believes his own propaganda.

For a timeless perspective consider these verses:

…the young man and the virgin…
(Deuteronomy 32:25)

…the old, the young man, and the virgin…
(Ezekiel 9:6)

The Hebrew word for young man is BaCHuR.  Its feminine equivalent, young woman would be BaCHuRAh. (According to the standard rules of Hebrew, adding Ah to a masculine noun makes it the feminine equivalent.)

Yet nowhere in Tanach do we encounter the word BaCHuRAh. Every instance of young man and young woman uses BaCHuR for the young man, and BeTuLAh, virgin, for the young woman.

Now let’s explore the meaning behind the word BaCHuR that explains why its feminine equivalent is not used in the Hebrew Scripture.

BaCHuR is simply the noun form of the verb B-CH-R, to choose or select.

And Moses said to Joshua choose [B-CH-R] for us men…
(Exodus 17:9)

Why this connection? Ancient Jewish wisdom explains by asking a question: What is the essence of being a young man?  The answer is being on the cusp of vital choices. He must choose a wife.  He also must choose his career, a way of serving his fellow humans. Hence, the word for young man is BaCHuR, a chooser.

By contrast, there are fewer choices available to a young woman.  (Warning:  this is going to be politically incorrect.) She can certainly choose a career today, but she is not able proactively to choose a husband.  She has to wait to be asked, at which point her choice is to accept or reject.

Please understand that this is not me decreeing that a young woman can’t ask a man to marry her any more than it is me decreeing that apples fall off the tree downwards not upwards.  If you’re uneasy with this inconvenient truth, just think of how many marriages you know of in which the wife proposed marriage to her husband. It happens only rarely. The way that God built men is that most of us flee a pursuing woman.

The very opposite of a pursuing woman is a young woman of modesty, a virgin.  Thus Scripture defines reality by referring to a young man and young woman as BaCHuR and BeTuLAh. A young man on the cusp of choosing a wife and a young woman making decisions that value herself and encourage him to choose wisely.

There! I’ve said it. I’ve told the truth even though it is politically incorrect.  And telling the truth can be dangerous under any tyrannical regime.

Telling the truth is just another way of describing the calling of teaching Scripture.  There are more politically incorrect, inconvenient truths on the topic of men and women in Gila Manolson’s book, Hands Off: This May Be Love (God’s Gift for Establishing Enduring Relationships). I think that both men and women should read it. Young people may not like the conclusions they draw from this book (though it is entertaining to read) but life is easier and more rewarding when you live in reality.

Hands Off smaller

Posted in Thought Tools | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off

Field and Stream

Are you a specialist in your field of work?  What career field should I go into?  Will history graduates find work in their field?  Why is the word field by far the most common metaphor for work, career, or profession?  Why not ask, “what river do you work in?”  Or, “what road of work do you walk?”  Or, “can you find work in your stream?”

This usage of language derives from the Bible. While working in your field can mean agriculturally since that is the means of earning a living most often referred to in Scripture, on a larger scale your field means whatever honorable way you have of earning a living.  Just as a field provides a farmer with sustenance, so does a field of work do the same for the professional in that field.

Prepare your work externally and make yourself fit for the field; then afterwards build your house.
(Proverbs 24:27)

Ancient Jewish wisdom explains this verse to mean that the best way to order your life is first learn to do work that others (outside of yourself) find useful, then establish your career performing that work.  After that, you’ll be in a position to build your house, meaning, create your family.

Excelling in your field provides blessing not only for you but also for others in your society.  Noah’s name means ‘rest’ and he brought the possibility of rest to mankind by increasing the agricultural yields of the fields.  Notice how Noah is named:

And he called his name Noah, saying, this one shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord has cursed.
(Genesis 5:29)

Sure enough, God had cursed the earth.

…cursed is the ground for your sake…thorns and thistles will it bring forth to you…
(Genesis 3:17-18)

How did Noah ‘comfort us concerning our work’?  Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that Noah invented the plow allowing mankind to draw more from the cursed earth with less effort. Similarly, by being productive we too add value to the lives of those around us.  For this reason, a Biblical worldview frowns upon earning one’s living as a professional gambler.  No matter how much money one wins by gambling, nobody else’s life is thereby improved.

Does the importance of working in your field disappear later in Scripture? From the following passages, it seems as if society’s prosperity hinges only on one’s relationship to God.

And it will be that if you carefully obey my commandments which I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, I will give you the rain of your land in its season…that you may gather in your grain, and your wine, and your oil and I will send grass in your fields for your cattle, that you will eat and be satisfied.
(Deuteronomy 11:13-15)

This Book of the Torah shall not depart from your mouth; but you shall meditate on it day and night that you may observe and do all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
 (Joshua 1:8)

If we are meditating on the Torah day and night, obeying God’s commands with all our heart, when do we find time to plant that grain, those vines and olive trees?  Ancient Jewish wisdom’s answer is that we “serve Him” and “do all that is written in it” largely through supplying the needs of God’s other children.

We humans are holistic. Even our bodies do best when our spiritual and physical sides are synchronized. Why does a placebo have any therapeutic impact at all in modern medicine? People’s bodies perform better when their brains and souls are on board with the program. This is why most people choose doctors in whom they have confidence. A patient’s recovery is directly linked to how much confidence that patient has in his or her medical advisers. It is almost as if your body knows what is in your mind and responds accordingly. Helping your mind to know and believe that what you do professionally is good, noble, and worthwhile helps to fuel your energies and propel your efforts.

No wonder ‘you will eat and be satisfied’.  No wonder ‘you will make your way prosperous and you will have good success’.  Working in our fields is part of our holy calling.

Many of us first met Noah when we were children. Yet his life, as the lives of others in Scripture, contains vital lessons for us as adults. We do ourselves a disservice by not approaching them with mature intellect. The 8 audio CDs in our Genesis Journeys Set will amaze you as they reveal astounding messages hidden in Genesis. It remains on sale for 24 hours longer, letting you access practical wisdom that can change your life at incredible savings.

Genesis Journeys Set

Posted in Thought Tools | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Confidence is to arrogance what self-respect is to self-esteem. The former is the result of achievement; the latter is hollow chest beating. The former inspires; the latter repels. Confidence breeds success while arrogance is a symptom of impending failure. Arrogant people abuse both family members and business associates, yelling at them and belittling them. Confident people treat everyone with respect. Arrogant people view all human relationships in terms of acquiring power and authority. Confident people know that moral prestige trumps power and authority.

A crucial lesson about how the world REALLY works is embedded within every Scriptural account. The Bible is not a series of stories about long-forgotten people engaged in irrelevant activities for readers with nothing better to do but a guide to reality. One consistent Biblical message is that the prophet of God overrules even the king.

Regular readers of Thought Tools know that when a (Hebrew) word appears exactly seven times within a Tanach tale, it provides a crucial clue. Only two words in Chapter 5 in the 2nd book of Kings appear seven times: LIFNEI, meaning before and implying subservience, and ADON meaning master, implying authority. This entire account revolves around power and subservience.

The opening verse sets the theme:

And Na’aman, the army general of the king of Aram was a great man, (subservient) before his master…

(II Kings 5:1)

 And the Arameans…kidnapped from the land of Israel a young girl and she was (subservient) before Na’aman’s wife

(II Kings 5:2)

 Na’aman, a leper, reports to his master, the king of Aram, that this Jewish slave recounts that the prophet in Israel can cure his leprosy. The Aramean king, assuming that all is under the power and authority of the king in Israel, just as it is in Aram, sends a request to Israel’s king that he arrange for the prophet to effect the cure. However, the king of Israel, knowing that he has no power over a prophet of God, is dismayed.

Elisha, the prophet, hears and sends a message summoning Na’aman to him. Na’aman who was willing to subordinate himself to a king is haughtily unwilling to do so for merely a prophet. When he arrives at Elisha’s house he doesn’t even dismount his chariot because entering someone’s home or office as a guest or supplicant means making yourself subservient (II Kings 5:9)

In response, Elisha sends a message directing Na’aman to immerse in the Jordan. Na’aman indignantly retorts that Elisha should have personally emerged to heal him and furthermore back in Damascus he has rivers better than the Jordan. Observe the ongoing clash between power and authority versus humility and subservience.

Na’aman’s servants persuade him to obey Elisha and after bathing in the Jordan, he is cured. Whereupon he returns to Elisha but this time the text emphasizes that Na’aman appeared before (subserviently) Elisha (II Kings 5:15). He then proclaims his newfound faith in the God of Israel and wants to bless Elisha with gifts. Elisha, again using the Hebrew word for before, LIFNEI, rejects the gifts, asserting his subservience to God.

The story ends with Elisha’s own servant, Gaychazi, being cursed with eternal leprosy when he shows arrogance instead of subservience to his master, Elisha.

In ancient Hebrew wisdom, the disease TZARA’AT, translated as leprosy, is a psychosomatic disorder in which the spiritual condition of arrogance produces physical manifestations. Confidence is earned through subservience to God, breeding humility and respect to all those who are part of one’s life.

Now that you’ve gained a glimpse into this enchanting chapter, take time to read it carefully paying special attention to the submission/authority theme throughout. Not only will it enthrall you but it will help train your soul to read Scripture in the way that allows deeper meaning to make the leap from the page to your heart.

If you enjoy digging deeper into Biblical verses that illuminate reality as it relates to your life, marriage and children as well as national and international headlines, you will want to explore our Genesis Journeys Set. Scripture comes to life as ancient Jewish wisdom and the Hebrew language reveal hidden gems. Right now, the set is temporarily available at an amazing low price making now the perfect time to benefit from it.

Genesis Journeys Set

Posted in Thought Tools | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off