by Pastor Steve Wohlberg
An Amazing Fact: The nation was shocked by a tragedy in late March 1997 when 39 members of the Heaven's Gate cult took their own lives. The cult members committed suicide by downing fatal doses of a lethal cocktail mixture of phenobarbital and vodka. Heaven's Gate members sincerely believed that Hale-Bopp, an unusually bright comet, was a sign that they were supposed to leave their earthly bodies (or "containers") and be raptured up to a spacecraft traveling behind the comet that would take them to a higher plane of existence. A message posted on their website stated that "Hale-Bopp's approach is the 'marker' we've been waiting for-the time for the arrival of the spacecraft from the Level Above Human to take us home to 'Their World' in the literal Heavens." They sincerely believed the comet marked their "graduation" from the Human Evolutionary Level. "We are happily prepared to leave 'this world'," wrote cult leader Marshall Applewhite (alias "Do"), who quoted selectively from the Bible and various episodes of Star Trek to support his teachings that they would be raptured to this invisible spacecraft.
An Amazing Fact: Did you know that the longest list of questions found in the Bible is made up of questions asked by God? In Job chapters 38 and 39, God poses query after query to His servant Job, who has daily begged for answers to some tough, heart-wrenching questions of his own.
Instead of providing Job with simple answers, God delivers a string of thought-provoking riddles. They start with words like "Who? Where? When? Have you? Can you? Do you know?" He describes all the miracles of the animal kingdom, and He talks about the weather and the solar system and other mysteries of nature...
An Amazing Fact: The U.S. Commerce Department says about 4 million people are caught shoplifting each year, but for every person caught, an estimated 35 go undetected. If these statistics are accurate, it means that 140 million shoplifting incidents occur each year in a nation of 260 million people.
According to a study in Washington, few shoplifters steal out of need; 70 percent are in the middle-income bracket and 20 percent have high incomes. Only 10 percent would be considered poor. Hotel managers count on one of every three guests stealing something.
Furthermore, according to insurance statistics, 30 percent of all business failures each year are a direct result of internal theft.
An Amazing Fact: A woman who had just returned from a trip to Mexico frantically called the Los Angeles Police Department to report that a live rattlesnake had been placed in her overnight bag. Police went rushing to the scene with sirens screaming. They slowly approached the menacing bag, which the woman had heaved out of a window onto the sidewalk. Cautiously they scattered the contents of the bag-only to trace the rattling sound to her electric toothbrush, which had accidentally turned on!
I carry with me a photograph of a log cabin in Washington state. Although we visit this mountain retreat winter and summer, we never stay long enough for it to become a common place to us.
There's a variety of wildlife on this mountain, from the faithful hummingbird sentinel at the top of a tall, leafless sapling to the elusive elk, whose hoof prints tell us they frequent the top of our mountain.
In this article I want to focus on the vision of the valley of dry bones, found in Ezekiel 37:1-14, because we can learn many profound things from this fascinating passage of Scripture.
The book of Ezekiel was written by the prophet bearing the same name, which means "God will strengthen." A Hebrew from the tribe of Levi, he was among the elite of Judah who were captured by Nebuchadnezzar and carried away to Babylon. Ezekiel prophesied between the years 600 and 570 B.C. and was a contemporary of the prophet Daniel...
An Amazing Fact: The coconut tree is sometimes called the tree of life because of its amazing versatility. My father, who was a World War II pilot, says that when planes went down in the Pacific Islands, the stranded pilots sometimes survived for many months on little more than coconuts. From coconuts we get food, milk, butter, clothing, baskets, oil, wax, and even soap. Their shells can be used to make a bowl and other utensils, and their husks can serve as fuel for a fire.
Trees are essential to the life and well-being of this planet. For instance, most of the medicine we have today is derived from trees-even more than from plants. Aspirin is made from salicylic acid, which is found in the bark of willow trees. Taxol, a drug used to treat ovarian cancer, is extracted from the bark of the rare Pacific yew tree. Hundreds of other medicines are derived from trees in the rainforests of Central and South America.
An Amazing Fact: While under the influence of a light hypnotic trance, a man who submitted to a scientific hypnosis experiment was ordered to pick up a glass from the table. Although he was a strong, athletic type, the man could not budge the glass from its position. His most strenuous exertions could not lift the glass that was light enough for any child to remove.
Why could he not do it? Because the scientists, after placing him in the trance, had told him that it was impossible to pick up the glass. Because his mind was convinced that it could not be done, his body was unable to carry out the command to lift it. What a dramatic demonstration of the fact that no person can really obey commandments he believes are impossible to perform!
Does God Require the Impossible?It is probably safe to say that the majority of Christians today are resigned to falling short of the moral law. In fact, they are quite satisfied that God doesn't expect them to fulfill that law completely, either in the flesh or in the spirit.
An Amazing Fact: It is estimated that between 30,000 and 40,000 people die from snakebites each year, 75 percent of whom live in densely populated India. The most deadly snakes in India are the cobra, Russell's viper, saw-scaled cobra, Indian krait, and Ceylon krait.
Burma has the highest snakebite mortality rate, with 15.4 deaths per 100,000 people per year. Australia has some of the world's most poisonous snakes, but the average death toll there is only six persons per year. In South America about 4,500 people die annually from contact with the Fer-de-lance.
None of the snakes just mentioned are found in the United States, where the chief offenders are coral snakes, copperheads, cottonmouths, and rattlesnakes.
An Amazing Fact: The Sun is a fantastically hot cosmic-radiation powerhouse, with a surface temperature of about 11,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Its interior temperature is estimated as high as 18 million degrees Fahrenheit. The pressure at the center of the sun is about 700 million tons per square inch. That's enough to smash atoms, expose the inner nuclei, and allow them to smash into each other, interact, and produce the nuclear fusion that gives us our light and heat. In fact, the material at the core of the sun is so intensely hot that if you could capture just enough to cover a pinhead, it would radiate sufficient heat to kill a man one mile away!
An Amazing Fact: Gordius was a Greek peasant who became king of Phrygia simply because he was the first man to drive into town after an oracle had commanded his countrymen to "select as ruler the first person who would drive into the public square in a wagon." In gratitude, Gordius dedicated his wagon to the god Zeus and securely tied the tongue of the wagon in the temple grove with a thick, strong rope. The knot was so intricately entwined that no one could undo it. Many tried, but all failed. A prophet said that whoever succeeded in untying the difficult knot would become the ruler of all Asia. Hearing this, young Alexander the Great attempted to untie the complex Gordian knot but was also unsuccessful, so he drew his sword and cut it through with a single stroke. Alexander of course went on to become the ruler of Asia and beyond. The expression "to cut the Gordian knot" is now used for resolving a difficult problem by a quick and decisive action.