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."
An Amazing Fact: Science tells us that light is constituted of three primary rays, or groups of wavelengths. Clearly distinct from each other, none of them without the others could be light. Each ray has its own separate function. The first originates, the second illuminates, and the third consummates. The first ray, often called invisible light, is neither seen nor felt. The second is both seen and felt. The third is not seen but is felt as heat.
Like light, our “One God” is revealed in the three distinct persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. “For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one” (1 John 5:7 NKJV).
Nazareth of Galilee was situated in one of the loveliest physical settings in all of Palestine. Nestled amid the natural beauty of rolling hills and lush, fruitful vineyards, it would seem to be the perfect place for the Son of God to manifest His sinless life. There, at His mother's knee, Jesus could be exposed to the holy influences of the book of nature as well as the inspired writings of patriarchs and prophets.
But things are not always what they seem to be, and this was especially true of Nazareth. History adds a sad footnote about the hometown of Jesus, the carpenter son of Mary. It was distinguished by its depravity and evil reputation. All over the Near East it had become a byword for sin and iniquity.
No wonder Nathaniel responded as he did when Philip urged him to get acquainted with Jesus of Nazareth. "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" (John 1:46). You see, Nathaniel was well acquainted with the ill-repute of that particular little Galilean town, and he could not in his wildest imagination associate it with the expected Messiah.
An Amazing Fact: In 1967 the city of Long Beach, Calif., bought the Queen Mary from Cunard Lines. Since then $63 million has been spent on its conversion into a tourist spot with a museum, shops, restaurants, and a hotel. Now many in the city of Long Beach look upon the giant ship, docked on the ocean front, as a floating white elephant, and voices are calling for the doughty old liner to be scrapped. With no possibility of sailing the seas, they claim the Queen Mary serves as false advertising; a ship filled with activity that never leaves port.
How to Choose a Church?"And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching" (Hebrews 10:24, 25).
An Amazing Fact: Bumble bees were originally called "humble bees" because they are generally good natured and very rarely sting. The young children of the early English settlers struggled to say "humble bees," and often called them "bumble bees" instead. Because of the awkward, clumsy movements of the adult bees, the new name stuck.
Bumble bees are among the few insects that can control their body temperature. In cold weather, queens and workers can shiver their flight muscles to warm themselves. Their large size and heat-conserving hairy coats also help them stay warm, allowing them to work in colder climates and lower temperatures than most other insects..
An Amazing Fact: The world's smallest known vertebrate fish, the pygmy goby, is found on coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean, and is only about a quarter of an inch long when full grown. The Latin name of this fish, Nanus comes from a word meaning "dwarf." You can understand why the pygmy goby babies can only be seen with a magnifying glass when they first hatch from their teeny, tiny eggs!
I suppose few people would choose to be dwarfed. It seems that every little school-age child dreams of growing up to be big and strong. Likewise, each individual who accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour desires to grow to become a strong, tall Christian. Unfortunately, however, many people have a dwarfed experience with God. They're Christian pygmies, as it were. In fact, some churches contain so many spiritual pygmies that the occasional "normal" Christian, who is growing daily in his religious experience, is looked upon as something of an oddity!
An Amazing Fact: Between 1768 and 1775, the famous British explorer James Cook and his crew made two voyages around the world. Cook and his companions charted much of the South Pacific using nothing more than a sextant and a simple compass for navigation!
It's amazing to me how the ancient explorers knew their location based only on the sun, moon, and stars. The Bible contains a dramatic story of a ship lost at sea during a severe storm. For 14 gray days and black nights, the apostle Paul and some sea mates were beaten by the wind and drenched with the driving rain and angry waves. However, the main cause of the sailors' utter discouragement was that they had no heavenly bodies to guide them. They were oblivious to their location. "And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away." Acts 27:20. In the same way that it was imperative for the ancient sailors to have a view of the sun by day or stars by night in order to chart their location and measure their progress, modern men and women also need guiding lights.
An Amazing Fact: A man stopped at the bar in the Los Angeles airport to "relax" for a few minutes before catching his plane. Then, realizing he had lost track of time, the man raced out of the bar and quickly asked directions for the departing gate to Oakland. After hurrying through a maze of terminals, he handed the flight attendant his ticket and scurried onto the plane just as it was about to depart. After storing his briefcase, the weary traveler slumped into his seat and drifted off to sleep. When he awoke two hours later and examined his watch, the man wondered why the one-hour flight was taking so long. To his horror, he discovered that instead of boarding the plane for Oakland, Calif., he was on his way to Auckland, New Zealand! Because someone had confused Auckland with Oakland, that man had to endure a 22-hour round-trip flight.
An Amazing Fact: The European cuckoo bird is known as a "brood parasite." The female lays her eggs in the nests of other smaller birds, like the reed warbler. In turn, they unwittingly incubate, feed, and raise the young impostors-usually at the expense of their own genuine offspring!
The devil has successfully planted a dangerous lie in Christian theology, and it has been unwittingly hatched, adopted, and nurtured by most evangelical churches. Today, millions of people the world over who are interested in Bible prophecy have their eyes fixed upon Jerusalem. Christians are constantly speculating about the modern state of Israel, a rebuilt Jewish temple, and a Middle East Armageddon. These subjects are being discussed in magazines, on videos, in books, on the radio, from the pulpit, in seminaries, on the Internet, and at Bible prophecy conferences.
eed, and raise...
We were both born and raised in Poland, studied theology, and became ministers. We both left our fatherland and lived and worked in other countries. He went to Italy; I sojourned across the Alps into neighboring Switzerland. Eventually both of us would come to Canada (in the same year, 1989) and live in southern Ontario within an hour's drive of each other.
We were both sent on similar missions to the same town in Western Manitoba. He came to Brandon in 1994, and I arrived in the summer of 1995. Our assignments were to revive our churches in this second-largest city in the province of Manitoba. The attendance in my church had dwindled down to seven. In his, only one couple remained. Both churches were about to experience unprecedented growth. But that's where the similarities end, because he was a Catholic priest and I am a Protestant pastor. We were literally two Poles, poles apart.