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.
An Amazing Fact: In Asia lives a remarkable little spider that has its home under the water. This water spider spins a tiny web in the shape of a bell and attaches it to stems of water weeds and plants just below the pond surface. All spiders must breathe air, so the water spider takes its air along like a skin diver. On the surface she traps tiny bubbles in the hairs of her body, then hurries home and releases them under her web. The spider makes many trips to bring air bubbles back for her home. The waterproof web becomes inflated with trapped air and makes a perfect diving bell where she lives, eats, and lays her eggs. If the air is used up, the spider surfaces to breathe and collect more fresh bubbles for her home below. Living below, and yet breathing the air from above, this little spider is constantly surrounded by water, yet remains perfectly dry!
Experts have proven that one of the most successful methods of memorization is through picture association. The Lord uses this teaching technique because He knows that humans are extremely visual creatures. This is one of the main reasons Jesus taught with parables.
An Amazing Fact! Houdini, born Erich Weiss on March 24, 1874, is perhaps America's most famous magician and escape artist. While visiting a psychiatrist friend in Nova Scotia in 1896, Houdini saw his first strait jacket. Instead of shock, he was inspired to create an act around escaping from it. And Houdini didn't just escape from a strait jacket-he did it hanging upside down from his ankles, suspended yards above the ground.
Houdini then expanded his act to escape not only from any handcuffs offered, but also from most any location suggested. Houdini escaped from jail cells, handcuffed bridge jumps, padlocked crates thrown into rivers, locked canvas mailbags-even a giant paper bag, without making a single tear in it. Possibly his most memorable escapes were the stage illusions he made famous, including the Water Torture Cell, the Milk Can Escape, and Buried Alive.
An Amazing Fact: One hour of sleep deprivation increases the number of highway accidents by eight percent and an hour of extra sleep decreases them by eight percent! It's true-it happens twice a year during the daylight savings time adjustments. Your efficiency driving after you have been awake for 18 hours is about the same as driving after drinking two alcoholic drinks. When you have been awake for 24 hours, your driving efficiency deteriorates to the equivalent of driving under the influence of four to six drinks! Optimum performance comes with nine hours of sleep each night.
The Scriptures also teach that spiritual and physical rest is so essential for man's happiness that God set aside a holy day for that purpose during Creation and then commanded the human race to "remember" it (Exodus 20:8-11).
The Sabbath truth has come under a special attack in recent years because the devil knows that all love relationships are nurtured in the environment of quality time.
An Amazing Fact: On the Big Island of Hawaii rest the ancient ruins of Pu`uhonua: "A vast enclosure whose stone walls were 20 feet thick at the base and 15 or 20 feet high; an oblong square, 1,040 feet one way, and a fraction under 700 the other," wrote Mark Twain in his July 1866 "Letters from Hawaii." When a native Hawaiian broke a "kapu," a sacred Hawaiian law, the offender was automatically sentenced to death unless he or she could flee to the City of Refuge where the "Big Kahuna," or high priest, lived. Once inside the walls he or she was safe and protected from judgment. Later, the Big Kahuna would perform a rite of purification, declare forgiveness and innocence, and set the person free to begin a new life.
Early this century, a young Norwegian immigrant stood, heart pounding, on Ellis Island gazing in awe at the young Manhattan skyline taking shape across the harbor. New York City represented to him the chance for something that until now had been unattainable. A better life, greater opportunities, new possibilities, and a new start lay just beyond the shimmering stretch of blue water, a vision of loveliness to him and multiplied thousands before him. Surely this city would be a sanctuary, a haven, a city of refuge.
The fall of 1999 promises to reveal a kaleidoscope of human behavior. Millions of people are apprehensive regarding the Y2K, or "Millennial Bug," situation. Most people already know that because of a serious date programming problem, many computer experts are anticipating varying degrees of computer system freezes and malfunctions between Sept. 9, 1999, and Feb. 28, 2000.
Some sensational speakers predict that this will trigger a global chain reaction shutting down critical systems of power, water, and communications, leading to an accelerating vortex of panic. Some are selling bushels of books and tapes recommending the stockpiling of dried foods, water, gas, generators, and even guns and ammunition. Anticipating a bank run, others are suggesting that before Sept. 9, people should withdraw enough cash to last at least a couple of months (because the date 9/9/99 may trigger a shutdown code for some older computers.) To prepare for the possible demand, Federal Reserve System Chairman Alan Greenspan has ordered the Fed to print an additional 50 billion dollars in cash.
The approaching new millennium also brings a hypersensitivity to the origin and future of the human race. With the tremendous exponential changes of the last century, people cannot even imagine what the next decade will bring. Everyone seems more aware of the volatility of the age.
They were watching. They watched him roll over as the early morning sun peeked over the horizon and brightened his bedroom. They watched as he climbed out of bed and prepared for the day. They watched him as he led the household in worship, ate his simple breakfast, and as he gave instructions to his chief steward. They watched as he donned his outer robe and strode out to the pasture where his 7,000 sheep were grazing. They heard him compliment his shepherds on their fine work, and they heard him tell them about the new field he just purchased. They saw him make the trip to the stalls where his 3,000 camels stayed. They watched as he paid the camel caretakers bonuses for their months of faithful service. They watched as he completed his daily activities, and as he sat at the evening meal. They watched as he knelt by the family altar to pray for his children.
Job-A Faithful ServantEvery time Job spoke a word of kindness, they beamed with heavenly smiles. Every earnest prayer he prayed for his children brought a tender twinkle to their celestial faces.
An Amazing Fact: There are more than 376 million Visas and MasterCards in circulation. This is up 80 percent from a few years ago when the average family had only two credit cards and $2,340 in outstanding balances. Today they have an average of four cards and owe nearly $4,880. Altogether, American consumers have racked up $480 billion dollars in debt with these little two- by three-inch pieces of plastic, and that figure grows at a 13 percent annual rate.
We are a nation drowning in red ink. Plans for the large government budget surplus seem to be the focus of recent political attention, but soaring consumer debt is seldom discussed. Within the past few years it has increased 39 percent and now exceeds $1 trillion. "When you carry this much debt it's scary," says consumer spending expert Madelyn Hochstein in a recent newspaper article, "Black-hole Borrowing, Consumer Debt Surging; Nation's Economy at Risk." The article goes on to warn that, "This could be a time bomb for the U.S. economy and its banks."