Incompatible?

You could say that landlubbers and boaters don’t talk the same language.  One says ‘rope’ while the other says ‘line’.  One says ‘bow’ and ‘stern’ while the other says ‘front’ and ‘rear’.  But both surely agree on basics; boats float and planes fly, water is wet and the wind can move things.  You could say that physicists and philosophers don’t talk the same language.  One speaks in terms of tangible and measurable realities while the other thinks of more abstract ideas.  But both agree on basics; falling water generates power and ideas are powerful.

However, there are two groups of people between whom we see a rapidly growing chasm.  These two kinds of people have not only stopped talking but they also lack a common mode of communication.  No matter what the topic, representatives of these two groups seldom reach consensus.  The first of these two categories is people who believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and in His message to mankind, the Bible.  The second comprises people who advocate secularism, vigorously reject God, and regard His Book as primitive, superstitious, and possessing little contemporary relevance.

There are three reasons that explain why communication between religious and secular usually breaks down.  First, they lack a common language; second, they share no common logic; and finally, they do not agree on values.

In Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, we find this line,

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

This was funny because Carroll, whose real name was Charles Dodgson, was a religious Christian for whom words had specific and generally accepted meanings.  However, like Humpty Dumpty, secularists tend to assign new meanings to words like choice, fair, family, greed, and others.  This results in fewer and fewer words being available for common discourse and robs the debate of a common language.

Shared logic also collapses at the edge of this cultural chasm.  Biblically-committed folks tend to thank God for the good they experience and tend to see themselves as largely complicit in their own misfortunes.  Thus, they know that making foolish decisions in the areas of male/female relationships and money usually produces unhappiness.  Secular-leaning individuals tend to seek reasons for their unhappiness outside of themselves.  With no common logic, these two groups are incapable of even discussing, let alone agreeing on, prescriptions for the many ills plaguing society.

Bible-believers, drawing their ideas from the “Good Book,” tend to think that God and family are the first resources to turn to in times of trouble.  Meanwhile, secularists unhesitatingly turn to government to right everything they perceive as wrong.

Finally, and most seriously, there is no agreement on values.  With no common view of values, there is pressure to view our opponent as not merely wrong, but evil.  Obviously this obliterates all chance of discussion.  Bible-believers naturally regard as wrong those actions described in the Bible as sin or otherwise discouraged.  This includes excessive government taxation (I Samuel 8:17), sexual immorality, and failing to earn one’s own living.  On the other hand, secularists, who like most humans, wish to live within a framework of morality, are forced to seek things not mentioned in the Bible to define as wrong, and equally certainly they must redefine sins as virtues.  Thus, many in this group view smoking a cigarette as a more grievous moral failing than cheating in an exam.  To many on this side of the cultural divide, climate change is a terrible evil, while homosexual behavior is condoned.  These represent two different and utterly incompatible viewpoints.  No wonder real communication is difficult.

What is the solution?  Take a look at this verse and its context:

And Israel (Jacob) said to Joseph (his son), ‘At this time I can die after I have seen your face and you are still alive.’

(Genesis 46:30)

 The implication is that until Jacob saw Joseph’s face, he did not know that Joseph was alive.  But the final three verses of the preceding chapter (Genesis 45:26-28) reveal that Jacob already knew that Joseph survived.

What could seeing Joseph’s face possibly add to Jacob’s knowledge about his son’s fate?  Ancient Jewish wisdom reminds us of two facts:

(i)   The face is a window into the soul.  This is why the Hebrew word PaNiM (face) is the same word as the Hebrew word for innermost deep, PeNiM.

(ii)   Our souls are impacted by the company we keep and the things we do.

This helps to make sense of Jacob’s statement.   Of course Jacob already knew that his son Joseph was physically alive.  His other sons told him and they showed the wagons that Joseph sent for him.  However, what Jacob did not know was whether after twenty-two years away from his family, Joseph was still a God-fearing descendant of Abraham or whether he had become an Egyptian secularist.  Once Jacob gazed upon his beloved son’s face, he knew the answer.

Living a secular life filled with hostility towards God and his Book leaves a mark upon a person just as living a life in passionate embrace with God leaves a mark. It certainly should transform a believer’s face into a serene and compassionate reflection of God’s love. (Be wary of those who tell you they are religious but who look surly and grumpy.)

It is true that landlubbers and mariners don’t share a language and neither do physicists and philosophers.  However, mariners can invite landlubbers to experience ocean sailing and physicists can invite philosophers to experience the wonders of the laboratory.  Can believers and secularists similarly interact?  It’s worth a try. The initiative will have to come from believers. The indispensable ingredient they’ll need is a repertoire of Biblical insight to defeat the secular vision of the Bible.

In this challenging arena of cross-cultural communication, I have always depended upon non-threatening but mind-boggling insights from the Lord’s language.  I have successfully shared with initially hostile secularists some of the spine-tingling lightning flashes in Hebrew that anyone can enjoy.

For the good of some of the relationships in your life and in the lives of those around you, won’t you please equip yourself (and others) with a copy of Buried Treasure: Life Lessons from the Lord’s Language.  It is filled with stunning sparks of spiritual truth that I have employed for decades in helping people make the first halting steps towards God. I pray it serves the same service for you.

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 English, Spanish, Italian, Hebrew, French, Chinese…Not just any language – It’s the Lord’s Language!

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Timeless Truth or Sexist Slur

Blank, the world would be a better place.  Insert your own phrase for ‘blank’.  For instance, if everyone minded their own business, the world would be a better place.  If everyone walked around smiling, TWWBABP.  If animal activists would just let us eat our hamburgers in peace, TWWBABP.  Or how about this one from a recent book by the chief operating officer of a large Internet company: “A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes. I believe that this would be a better world.”

Have you noticed that many cars driving on our roads are occupied by a man and a woman sitting in the front seats?  Of course you have.  Have you noticed what percentage of these cars are being driven by the man?  It’s nowhere near 50%.  Surely half the time, as a couple heads to their car, the woman should say, “Honey, throw me the keys, I’ll drive.”  Yet whether in Los Angeles, Dallas, Boston, or Baltimore, the reality is that the man is driving about 90% of those cars.

Here’s another social studies question: Have you noticed that in the overwhelming percentage of couples, the man is taller than the woman?  The actual figure is that in 93% of couples, the man is taller than the woman.  Now I know just what you’re thinking, ”…well, on average men are taller than women.”  But in the United States the average height difference between men and women is 6 inches.  However, at more than six feet, female tennis star Venus Williams is taller than half of American men. Meanwhile at 5 feet 4 inches, actor Michael J, Fox is shorter than about half of American women.  So if we mixed and matched all marriageable men and women at random, a statistical analysis quickly shows that we’d find that men are taller than women in only about 75% of couples.  This proves that in the real world, couples prefer the man to be taller. Either the man seeks out shorter women or the woman seeks out taller men. Or perhaps both.

Don’t you think that in these egalitarian times about half of the marriages solemnized this year should be occurring because the man proposed to the woman and half because the woman proposed to the man?  Yet, you know the truth.  Over 98% of couples marry after the man proposes marriage.  What has happened to strong and equal women?  Are they anxiously waiting for the men they’ve been dating to propose?  Apparently, yes.

You know those paperback romance novels taking up yards of bookshelf at your local bookstore and selling by the millions?  Well, here’s an idea: Why don’t you start writing them?  I am not saying it is easy to write books; it isn’t.  But these books are fairly formulaic.  By the end of every single example I’ve examined, the girl who has been romantically foundering for 200 pages finally falls for the guy.  And best of all, he falls for her too.  No, I err.  Actually the best part is that he is always rich.  Yes, always very rich.  Why not once, just once, can’t I see a romance novel ending with the heroine putting her hand to her heaving bosom and declaring her love for the penniless slacker with a heart of gold?  Women buy these books by the million.

These are just four examples where the real world seems to conflict with the utopian world dreamed of by very affluent and privileged women.  My own eyes tell me that most women prefer sitting ‘shotgun’ and most men prefer being behind the wheel.  Furthermore they assure me that most women prefer to be in a relationship with a man they can look up to literally and perhaps figuratively too.  I have also discovered that most women want to be proposed to and most men will not marry a woman who proposes to them. Finally, from too much time spent awaiting flights in an airport bookstore, I know that the majority of women prefer reading of romance with a man far richer than they are.

In this topic, almost any romance novel will reveal more truth than a certain best-selling book for women written by a certain chief operating officer of a certain Internet company.

Thus I answer the question with which I headed this Thought Tool, namely are these words…

…male and female He created them.

  (Genesis 1:27)

a sexist slur or a timeless truth?

Men and women are created differently from each other.  While we are each unique, in general men and women find satisfaction and fulfillment in different ways.  One can either take one’s life guidance from contemporary utopian dreams by elitist theorists or one can consult God’s instruction manual for humanity which has been proven by centuries of reliability.

I know this all flies in the face of popular culture and I ask you to see what I’ve written here merely as an introduction to the topic.  The rest of the story takes a few hours for me to explain fully which I do in our audio CD program, Madam I’m Adam; Decoding the Marriage Secrets of Eden.  If you or anyone you care for is working on getting married, staying married, or best of all, enhancing every aspect of their marriage, please use this guide.  It is truly a worthwhile investment promising enormous return in the form of marital happiness and fulfillment.  You see, the powerful problem is that the message we all subconsciously absorb from a relentless cultural barrage of news and entertainment is untrue. We are fed lies about human relationships.  I would love for you to be armed with deep insights and timeless truth about our most important relationship.  That is why I prepared Madam I’m Adam and why it is specially priced right now.

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Act; Don’t ReAct

From one of my favorite animal books, the astoundingly illustrated book, Journey to the Ants, I learned an important principle of how the world really works.  “If an animal is beautifully colored and acts with relative indifference to your presence it is probably poisonous or well armored.”

An example of this principle is the South American poison arrow frog.  Touching its dazzling colored skin can easily kill a human being.  The local natives use the toxin on their arrows.  No wonder these pretty little frogs make no attempt to hop away when approached; they just sit there.

We all know people who ooze fascination but who never take the initiative to connect; they just sit there.  Furthermore, reaching out to them often yields toxic results.  In general, people who fail to connect with others have absorbed a toxin.  They have been infected with either arrogance (I am too important to associate with you) or fear (you might spurn me).

Ancient Jewish wisdom emphasizes how God wants us all to initiate connection.  Be first to greet others regardless of the ever present risk of rejection.  Convert strangers into friends by introducing yourself rather than waiting for someone else to perform introductions.  In this area of life, as in all others, God wants His children to drive their lives rather than be driven.  He prefers for us to be proactive rather than reactive.  This is exactly how most parents try to teach their own children to behave.

Jacob, the third founding father of Judaism, practiced being proactive.  He was no victim of circumstance and seldom waited for a solution to materialize from somewhere else.

Notice the curious pattern occurring in these four verses:

 And Pharaoh said to Joseph…tell your brothers to return home…and take wagons from Egypt …and bring your father…

(Genesis 45:17-19)

 

…and they [Joseph’s brothers] came to Jacob their father…and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him his spirit revived…
(Genesis 45:25-27)

 

And Jacob embarked on his journey with all that he had and came to Beersheba…

(Genesis 46:1)

 

And Jacob departed Beersheba and the sons of Israel transported Jacob their father…in the wagons which Pharaoh had sent…

(Genesis 46:5)

Clearly, Jacob did the first part of his journey, from Hebron where he was living south to Beersheba on foot.  From Beersheba onwards to Egypt he travelled on one of the wagons Pharaoh had sent.

Jacob wanted to launch this phase of his life with a proactive and willful action of his body, namely walking, rather than as a passive passenger on a wagon.

In so doing, Jacob was acting consistently with how he lived his entire life, acting willfully and seizing the initiative rather than awaiting developments.

When it looked as if his father was going to deliver the Abrahamitic blessing to Esau, he acceded to his mother’s request, disguising himself as his older brother and commandeering the blessing. (Genesis 27)  He could have waited to see if his father would have another blessing for him, but he didn’t.

When he arrived at the well it was blocked by a stone. The gathered shepherds were awaiting developments.  Jacob simply rolled the large stone away and uncovered the well.  (Genesis 29:10)

When Jacob saw the beautiful Rachel, he didn’t covertly ogle her while awaiting developments. Neither did he surreptitiously appoint a ‘wingman’ to approach her on his behalf.  Seizing the initiative, he planted a kiss on her. (Genesis 29:11) This is admittedly surprising behavior for someone we think of as a quiet saintly sort of guy, and there is a deeper meaning to the Hebrew text, but the straightforward meaning of the text still stands.  Being saintly does not mean reacting to life.  It means seizing life with both hands and acting.

This is one of the reasons that Solomon advises all of us with slight tendencies to laziness, to learn from the ant (Proverbs 6:6).  As Bert Holldobler and Edward Wilson abundantly demonstrate in their magnificent ant book, ants never sit around waiting for developments.

And neither should you.  Whether it concerns a personal relationship that needs initiating (although I’d recommend caution with that impulsive kiss idea) or a business action that awaits, be proactive and seize the initiative.

There’s another area in which I ask you to seize the initiative rather than wait. We have just released the third in our series of video DVDs.  Like its two predecessors it contains four shows that aired on the TCT television network. The format allows us to delve more deeply and conversationally into ideas that spring from ancient Jewish wisdom. This newest volume explores the power of blessings, why the word obey doesn’t appear in the Bible, what the brothers and Joseph really said to each other and even includes a rare disagreement between Susan and me. Get volume three by itself or purchase all three volumes at a discount.

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Into the Valley of Equality

It’s truly terrifying that more young males are being brought up without a father than ever before. Terrifying?  Yes, terrifying! You want to know why?  Because boys need dads to help them acquire self-discipline and become men of honor. Because those with real-life experience of the criminal justice system will tell you that the one factor most shared by incarcerated men is not economic status, race, or gang-affiliation, but absence of a father in the home.  Thus, the more boys without dads, the more frightened we should be. It’s sad but simple.

It’s truly terrifying that America is losing influence in the world. Terrifying? Yes, terrifying! You want to know why?  Because it’s not fun being a citizen of a country that lacks the power to protect itself from aggressive neighbors.  Just ask a Czech, a Lebanese, or a Ukrainian.  With countries like Iran, China, and North Korea that respect the power of weapons far more than they respect the paper of treaties we should be frightened by a weakened America. It’s sad but simple.

It’s truly terrifying that there is more income inequality in America than ever before. Terrifying? Huh? Why?  I’m trying to find out, honest I am.  One thing is for sure and that is that there is more talk of income inequality than ever before.  Pundits and politicians pontificate about how dangerous it is, but I like to figure things out for myself and I cannot see the problem.

Most Americans are reasonably comfortable living among people who have less than we do and we are equally comfortable helping them with a hand up.  Likewise, most of us are fine living among those with much more than we have.  For most of us, how people behave is more important than how much money they have.  We feel sympathy for the poor and, if anything, we are inspired to greater effort by the rich in hopes of reaching their levels of affluence.  Those agitating about inequality insist that it’s terrible but they won’t tell us why.   The wealth gap is frightening?  I think not. Income inequality is America’s biggest problem? I think not.

But maybe inequality is just plain immoral?  The trouble is that the words ‘moral’ and ‘immoral’ are utterly meaningless without specifying the framework that defines morality.  For instance, if the framework comprises socialism, liberalism, and progressivism, then inequality is clearly immoral.  This means we must empower government to ‘tax-the-rich’ in order to redistribute their money to the poor. Government will also define who is rich and who is poor.

However, there is another morality-defining framework which has sculpted the civilization that socialism wishes to dismantle.  This is the Bible-based Judeo-Christian vision. One can futilely search there for any endorsement of equality as a guiding moral principle.  Just as absent is any condemnation of inequality.

The word ‘equal’ appears only once in all the 79,976 words in the Torah.

…of the kings who were with him, at the Valley of Equality (SHaVeH), which is the Valley of the King.
(Genesis 14:17)

The Hebrew word ShaVeH means equal.  This chapter in Genesis not only contains the Torah’s very first mention of the word king, it also contains many more mentions of king than any other chapter in Scripture.  And it contains the only mention of equality.

One more piece of information is needed to solve the riddle.

And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar…
(Genesis 14:1) 

The opening verse of the entire story mentions Amraphel of Shinar.  In Tower of Power: Decoding the Secrets of Babel,  I walk you through the steps that lead ancient Jewish wisdom to see that Amraphel was another name for Nimrod, king of Shinar (Genesis 10:10). Nimrod’s vision of social organization is the centralized control system that battles against Abraham’s Biblical vision of human freedom.

Genesis 14:17 is the climax.  Abraham has defeated the dangerous vision of Nimrod at the Valley of Equality.  Nimrod and his allies used this idealistic promise of equality to cement their power over their people.  Abraham replaces the false vision of equality with that of the “Valley of the King” – the vision of God, the King.

Inequality is not scary.  You know what is?  When politicians start talking of inequality, that is scary.  When they promise to eradicate inequality, that’s just plain terrifying because that can be achieved only by obliterating freedom.

Susan and I are delighted to share our newest DVD with you, four of our TV shows that generated many letters. See the knock-down fight between Susan and me about the Biblical view of tools (o.k. a polite disagreement), find out what is beneath the surface of Joseph’s conversation with his brothers, magnify the power of your blessings and discover why there is no word for obey in the Bible. It just arrived today and we can’t wait to get it into your hands. To help that along, we are offering a 24 hour launch special of 20% off the regular price. Order right now and be among the first to see these four entertaining and illuminating shows.

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I Won’t Stand for It

 

“The boy stood on the burning deck

Whence all but he had fled;

The flame that lit the battle’s wreck

Shone round him o’er the dead…”

(Casablanca, Dorothea Hemans, 1826)

“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing…”

(The Raven, Edgar Allan Poe, 1845)

“Stood there and watched you walk away…”

(Haunted, Taylor Swife, 2010)

“How to Handle Getting Stood Up on a Date”

(Glamour Magazine, 2014, 2011, 2004, 1998)

The French captain’s son stood resolutely on the burning deck until he was finally consumed in the furious flames.  Though Edgar Allan Poe claims he stood there for a long while, I suspect that in reality he soon returned to his bed.  Taylor Swift stood there as her lover walked away but one assumes that she managed to replace him quite quickly.  The readers of Glamour who keep getting stood up, well, enough said.

There really ought to be different words in English for stood.  One can scarcely compare my different examples of standing.  One shouldn’t.  I won’t stand for it.

In the Lord’s language there are indeed words to describe two different ways of standing.  One can stand firm like the boy on the burning deck; one might say, stand like a pillar.  Or one can stand there sadly like Taylor Swift, ready to be quickly distracted by someone else.

Let’s see a Biblical example of each kind of standing.

You stand this day all of you before the Lord your God that you should enter into a covenant…that He may establish you today for a people to himself…

(Deuteronomy 29:9-11)

 

And it came to pass at the end of two years that Pharaoh dreamed; and, behold, he stood on the river. 

(Genesis 49:1)

 When the Israelites stood before God to establish a special covenant, it was for all time.  In fact, the Bible makes clear that this covenant is being established not only with those Israelites who were standing there, but also with all the future generations not yet born. (Deuteronomy 29:13-14).  In other words, a permanent standing.  The Hebrew word used for standing is YaTZaV.

However, when Pharaoh dreamed that he stood on the Nile, not only did he not remain there for long, but it was a dream.  The Hebrew word used for stand is the far more common OMeD.

The word OMeD is also used here, implying a lack of firmness:

 

And the magicians were unable to stand before Moses…

(Exodus 11:9) 

However, when the standing is more that of standing like a rock until one’s task is complete, the Torah uses the word YaTZaV.

For instance, “Behold I stand by the water well…” (Genesis 24:13) said Eliezer as he prayed for success in finding the woman who’d become the second matriarch, the wife of Isaac.

The same root word as that for standing firmly, YaTZaV, is used for a pillar that stands immovably forever, such as the pillar that Lot’s wife turned into.

 But his wife looked back from behind him,
and she became a pillar (NeTZiV) of salt.

(Genesis 19:26)

Knowing that there are two different ways of standing helps us translate our spirit into our posture.  When I stand in line at the check-out, I hope it’s not for long and so I don’t root myself to the ground.  However, when I stand up for principle, I want to be utterly immovable and just as importantly, I want to appear to others as utterly immovable.

Deciding which principles one will stand up for unyieldingly is vital for successful living.  It allows one to know in advance which battles are worth fighting and which are better averted.

Some of those battles arise from the political and cultural maelstroms that swirl around the foundations of your family and livelihood.  The best way to acquire a Biblical perspective on these is through my audio CD program Tower of Power: Decoding the Secrets of BabelThe two CDs and study guide explore nine verses in Genesis that lay out struggles that repeat continually through history and which roil the times in which we live. Understanding that struggle allows you and yours to take your stand.

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