Christianity Category

Monday, March 31, 2014


The article by M.R., "I Will Tell You A Simple Tale" from 3-29-2014, is probably the best, deepest in meaning of all the posts that I have read to date, and that is a LOT! It is clearly and directly written, and touches on (no, explains) what honor and loyalty are and mean. As M.R. states, all the beans, bullets, and bandaids are for naught, if you don't have honor and loyalty. I fear that those attributes are too seldom recognized and are more precious than the "things" that we strive for. I could go on and on about this article, but the best I can write is, “Read it, and send it to youngsters, especially as a model to live up to.” - E.C.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


This is response to the officer of 15 years. For the first time in the history of Las Vegas a police officer was fired. Why? All he did was use his AR15 to shoot an unarmed veteran sitting in a car, 7 times in the back of the head. But that is not why he was really fired. No charges were brought because every time a cop kills someone they use the "I did not intend to kill them, no intent no crime", this defense only works for cops. He was fired only because the sherriff is trying to convince the county council they need to raise the sales tax to pay for more cops. He was asked about this officer at the first hearing, the request was turned down. So before the next hearing he was fired. Good news, the union says it will get him his job back.

Recently multiple agencies were recorded on tape assaulting a man they pulled over. Most of the officers stood by and watched as 8 officers beat this man to the ground, while holding him down another officer starts kicking him in the face. His crime, he went in to diabetic shock and swerved while driving. No officers punished, city settled out of court as they do for all of these crimes.

When these things happen, the police investigate themselves and it always turns out the same way, protect the blue line. So yeah, having more laws protecting those hired to serve and protect is not needed. We need, as with everything else, to actually obey the laws that are already on the books.

The cops have become more militarized, not just with equipment but attitude. You hear then refer to other citizens as "civilians" when in fact cops are "civilians" too. It may look like we live in a police state but we do not, yet.

Keep up the great work on the blog. - K.G.

HJL Replies: It is important to keep a balanced perspective here. I detest the militarization of the police (and the abuses of power that seem to follow along with it). Over the past 40 years, I have seen a movement away from the “beat” cop to more of an emergency response team. This approach to policing is forced by many things, including budget cuts, dependance on federal dollars, and even policies (like the war on drugs). We see a general decline in respect and manners in the public and it follows that since the LE agencies draw upon the public, there will be the same decline among their ranks. There no longer seems to be a reasonable relationship between LE agencies and the general public. I would agree that the “Blue Line” is an inappropriate response, but so is the behavior they are tasked to manage.

Many years ago, I learned a simple phrase in dealing with my children's discipline that helped me raise them well. The same phrase could apply to Law Enforcement: “Discipline without relationship equals rebellion.” Without a reasonable relationship existing between LE and the general public, these sorts of incidents will continue to escalate regardless of what laws we put in place.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sir, I am writing in response to the article link about the Kansas bill seeking to legalize police retaliation. I will first state that I do not agree with a second agency not being able to do an investigation– a fair and impartial investigation should always be the case. That said, I served 13 years in the infantry ending as an LRS team leader and currently serving with 15 years at a large, midwest police department. My department will take any complaint. A complaint can and has been taken over the telephone (even anonymously) with nothing more than the allegation of misconduct. With nothing more than, "Hey, he did something wrong," I am standing tall on the carpet in front of the man. During those 15 years I have had numerous complaints. ALL incidents were recorded on audio and video by my in-car system and even some by the individual's cell phone. These alleged acts of misconduct range from sexual misconduct, because the female made a verbal bomb threat, to tyrannical behavior with racial slurs over a traffic citation to excessive force when defending myself from someone nearly twice my size who pled guilty to resisting. I should NOT have to say in all these allegations I was found exonerated and the complaints false, but each time I am assumed guilty until I have proven myself innocent. I took an oath to serve and protect my state's and the United States Constitution. I take those oaths very seriously. Now, there are some bad apples in the bunch, just as there are in any profession, but for the most part, the people I work with are honest. If they stray, we are quick to point it out and fix those that do. We consider ourselves the premier law enforcement agency in the area, and I take great pride in that. I pose one question with all that said. With this now being an entitled society (ask the youngsters I stop and they will tell you that), “Am I not entitled to some protection? Or am suppose to be society's whipping boy until they need me because they lost their child or locked their child in their car or beat their child until it stopped crying?” Over all, the men and women I work with are good hearted and strive to do the right thing. My agency takes great pride in that. Again, I am not dispelling that there are a few bad apples in the bunch, but after 15 years, I wonder why I have spent my entire adult life in public service. As this bill may not be the perfect solution, I believe it is proposed to offer some protection to the outlandish lies of misconduct.

“For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” Romans 13:4

As the scripture is my (motto), it is for a reason. If you chose to post this, please post the scripture with it.

HJL Replies: While I certainly understand your position and can empathize with having false accusations often thrown at you, the bottom line is that you hold the power in any encounter with the general public. Our whole system is predicated upon the premise of the “strong” protecting the “weak”. In an increasing number of cases across the country, there exists the concept of “The Blue Wall of Silence” meaning that when a law enforcement officer crosses the line and abuses their position of power, the law enforcement agency may or may not hold a valid internal inquiry into what happened, but remain silent with no real explanation given to the public. The bond between officers is admirable, when dealing with life-threatening situations, but it's repugnant when it hides true wrong doing on the part of the officer. The outrage the general public feels is only fed by such behavior. All it takes is one such incident to destroy the public trust with the local enforcement agency. I cannot excuse bad behavior on the part of the public, but a bill such as this, while good intentioned, allows the party in a position of power to act with no fear of consequences in an already tainted system. I commend you for your high standards in your agency. I only wish that all LE agencies operated with the same standards.

Friday, March 21, 2014


I have a mental illness and know that if things go south my chances are slim, but I will persevere until the “oops” occurs. I suggest reading the fictional book "One Second After" to get a glimpse at what might happen to the old and the mentally ill; it is not pretty. Also, "The Walking Dead" did an episode, "The Grove", where there was a mentally ill person. For the seriously mental ill, a bullet to the head might be the only choice. That stinks but is realistic. For the less serious, like me, you have to decide whether to put up with my inability to produce any type of work. The stress of a collapsed society and the need to fight could be too much. For Americans that believe you have to pull your own weight, this will no doubt be a breaking point.

HJL Replies: This is an area that really sets people apart. Throughout history eugenics has cropped up under many guises. Much of what we despise about “Obama care” smacks of eugenics. Hitlers ethnic cleansing started with eugenics. This is an area that sets Christianity apart from much of the rest of the world. (To the horror of many, the church does not always have clean hands in the matter.) In fact, most violations of human rights can be traced back to some form of eugenics. You may hear that the Bible does not speak to eugenics, but that is not so. The word “eugenics” may not be present, but the concept certainly is:

“The murderer rising with the light killeth the poor and needy, and in the night is as a thief.” - Job 24:14

and again:

“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” - Mathew 25:35-36

“I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” - Acts 20:35

Both of these scriptures make it abundantly clear that we are to care for the weak and those who cannot care for themselves. I fear that as our nation has withdrawn from God that most mentally ill will suffer the same fate in a TEOTWAWKI situation that the unborn suffer now. Some will be cared for, but many will not be. While not every mentally-ill person will be my responsibility, I will prepare to take care of those family whom I know will require it; perhaps a few more if God so lays it on my heart. The belief that EVERY person under my care must pull their own weight is foolhardy. I am under no such illusion. We must have a place in our preps for those who cannot help themselves.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Hello again,

First of all I must thank you for easing up on the "no tinfoil" restrictions today with allowing comments on the mind-body-connection and Chi Gong!

Secondly, since you started out as editor with stating that you were open to input regarding the discussion on free markets etc. I thought maybe the following (short) article might interest you. - Mrs. Icebear

Hugh Replies: We still have a "no tinfoil hats" policy here. The reason we have to be careful about eastern medicine is that it is difficult to separate the exercise and health aspect from the spiritual aspect. They are often bound too tightly together within the eastern mind. Personally, I practice "Tai Chi" as an exercise due to rheumatoid arthritis in both of my elbows, but I find that I must consciously alter many mental instructions that are given. A person can be easily led astray spiritually, if they are not careful to filter out the erroneous information. There is only one, straight and narrow path to truth:

"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." John 14:6 (KJV)

I appreciate the link, which I have intentionally not passed on. The author has some serious foundational errors in her thinking. In addition to having a flawed outlook on God (notice the reference to God as “her”), the author has built a straw man that does not include “The Rule of Law”. Libertarians do indeed believe in the Rule of Law and that is why they are against the confiscation of one man's wealth to fund another man's poverty. Free market, without “Rule of Law” devolves into chaos.

Here is an easy way to think about it:

Why was the American Revolution so successful in building a moral nation, yet the French Revolution turned into a godless, mindless, bloodbath of vengeance? They both started from the same ideals, yet one became a most-respected, federally-constituted republic and the other a sniveling democracy with no political backbone, respected only by those whom she conquered.

The "Rule of Law" is the difference. Without that, the strongest may win, but once in a position of power, they decide the law no longer applies to them. (He who has the gun, makes the rules, so to speak). Now, 230 years later, we see that the "Rule of Law" is actively being ignored by those in power here, bringing this great nation to her knees. May God have mercy on us, though we certainly don't deserve it.


Sunday, March 9, 2014


I don't comment ever. I have been following Jim's site for over three years now. It's the first thing I view most mornings. I yelled to my wife, "Honey you won't believe what's posted," and I read the post to her. We both agreed with A.Y. to turn off the boob tube! I turned it off in the 80's. I was sick of the garbage on it.

I would love to see more posts concerning this topic. - M.S.

o o o


Why Your Family Will NOT Survive the Economic Collapse, by A.Y. is the best article I've ever read. It's the foundation; the rest will take care of itself (some assembly required). No, I did not meet the standard.

Big, fat, ”Yes” vote!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Regardless of your eschatological views, you can be sure of one thing. When people unexpectedly fall on hard times, many an agnostic-in-practice suddenly become spiritual. It is known that the two places where prayers are most commonly offered are church pews and the back of a police cruiser. Humans return to their Creator in their time of need, as demonstrated time and time again in the Old Testament. Israel returned to obeying God after they encountered judgment for their disobedience and foolishness. Americans are no different. During the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, churches were flooded by individuals looking for answers, comfort, and reconciliation with their Maker. Disasters, terrorist attacks, and financial ruin often become a reality check for the masses of “Christmas & Easter Christians” that get distracted with the everyday monotony of life. It all comes down to perspective. So, here is my challenge relating to prepping with eternity in mind: Carpe Aeternitatem– seize eternity!

I am sure we can agree that physical and spiritual preparedness is taught, encouraged, and even commanded by scripture: Genesis 6 & 7, Proverbs 21:20, Psalms 28:19, Proverbs 20:13, Proverbs 6:6, Matthew 25:1-13, Proverbs 22:3.

The "why" you survive the coming collapse is just as important as the "how" you survive TEOTWAWKI. It would be grievous indeed to successfully survive the worst global disaster of this age, and yet fail to maintain your spiritual duty and calling to help a lot of people get right with God. What will be most important in eternity? How high my quality of life was after the SHTF, or how effective I was at reaching the hurting and the lost? Now, there is no excuse for not maintaining a standard of preparedness. You will not be much help to anyone if you yourself are not self-sufficient; and the more prepared you are, the greater your ability to help and counsel others. Let's just make sure we have the necessary tools and skills to indeed shine our light before men during one of this country's darkest hours. Here are some tips for prepping for the Kingdom.

  1. Consider taking crisis/trauma-counseling courses. Many counseling courses are relatively inexpensive and can be done online or by video. You can be sure your loved ones and refugees with need effective counseling, and a psychiatrist or counselor may not be readily available. Spouses, children, and neighbors will experience everything from violently defending homesteads to the tedious, mind-numbing drudgery of medieval chores. These traumatic experiences will need to be addressed and processed. In the aftermath of a global crisis, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will run rampant, and someone needs to be ready to help. People will need sound Christian counseling in order to maintain some level of functionality. Don't rely on your own "toughness" to make sure you can deal with the emotional upheaval affecting your family and neighbors; get some serious training today for how to deal with the non-tangibles of life.
  2. Stock up on PAPER Bibles, concordances, and devotionals. Understatement: Much of life will be different with the loss of electricity. The Millennial generation is more comfortable using search engines and e-bibles as a means to read and study the Bible. In the near future, many young people may not even have a paper Bible. Furthermore, this generation has swapped memorization for ease of access when it comes to information, and Scripture is no different. Why Memorize Psalm 23 when I have it at my fingertips 24/7 in 10 different translations? The result is that fewer Christians know their Bible and fewer homes will have multiple Bibles. The principle of “two is one, and one is none” applies to God's Word as well. I doubt Bibles will be printed en masse after the collapse, so find a bulk supplier and get a case for posterity! Wouldn't it be great if you could give each of your grandchildren their own Bible?

    In addition to this, it would behoove each of us to have hard copies of important historical church documents, such as the various creeds and writings of the early church fathers. You may wish to also have on hand copious documents relating to your particular denomination. In a time of upheaval, we would be amiss to fail to preserve our heritage and the doctrinal thesis upon which the Church currently rests. With a breakdown in connectivity and communication, I foresee a great blending/shredding of Christian beliefs. If there is a lack of available theological leadership, Christians and new converts will need resources to steer clear of heresies and heretics.

  3. Prepare for "old- school" church. Many small home churches and a few larger gatherings may become the norm. You may not be called to preach, but providing means for the church service is just as vital. Will you need hymnals, new convert materials (see #2), sacraments, non-electric musical instruments? How about large portable tents and voice amplification for large outdoor gatherings?
  4. Have designated donation food items that will open doors for you to share the Gospel. In the age of social justice, nothing is trending as much as caring for physical needs before spiritual needs. Many will be looking for a handout, and many will go away empty-handed. Being the one that can help a hungry soul will undoubtedly give your testimony weight and influence in sharing the Gospel. Caution: This avenue of outreach must be carefully planned and executed as throngs of hungry refugees could easily overpower the most prepared survivor. However, hermitage and hoarding is not an option for the believer! "Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me. " (Matthew 25:40)
  5. Encourage your Church to develop a crisis plan. I believe that in the event of a governmental collapse, local churches may easily become the center of community decision-making and the center of community identity. Many modern Americans don't know anyone on their block beyond the neighbor to their left, right, and across the street. This disjointed public community will only become more skeptical of each other in the event of an emergency. The people they know and trust are those that they fellowship with at their place of worship. Churches can provide a neutral location of safety and security where common good can be established. Churches are also one of the strongest indicators of a person's personal identity. Churches are usually gifted at organizing individuals under a common vision, and they tend to be altruistic in their motives. Churches are where millions of people rally for a cause once a week, every week. That cannot be said about any other campaign, cause, or non-profit establishment. This being said, churches need to be prepared to fulfill the Great Commission in the event of TEOTWAWKI. Although some pastors could be resistant to making plans and decisions based upon a future societal collapse, many would agree that a "crisis plan" would be very appropriate for the church in preparing for local natural disasters and large-scale community tragedies (school shootings/bomb threats). These simple plans often create procedures and protocol for facilitating helpful order and support in the face of community-wide problems. These plans create a foundation that could easily and quickly apply to a TEOTWAWKI situation. A starting plan of action is better than no plan at all.
  6. Study to show yourself approved. (2 Timothy 2:15) There will definitely be a spiritual leadership vacuum. Will you be prepared to fill it? Your community, family, and anyone you come in contact with will need regular, quality biblical teaching. Whether you are an eloquent Billy Graham or a stuttering Moses, you will need to become a spiritual leader in your realm of influence. There are three prerequisites for this calling: Bible knowledge, a thriving personal relationship with God, and (you guessed it) leadership. Of these three, where are you deficient? Shore up that weak spot so you can be prepared for the most important need of the human: God.

In all of the above preparedness suggestions, there is a common theme. We cannot forget the Spiritual side of ourselves or our loved ones when attempting to be "practical" in our allotments. It can be easy to only think in terms of tangibles when we are paring down our necessities to the basics, but often the non-tangibles (faith, joy, peace, prayer, worship) add more to the quality of life than the greatest new survival gadget. Indeed, we should invest heavily in having the ability to maintain our family's spiritual growth long after Christian book stores shutter their doors, and Bible “dot-coms” cease to exist.

In all of our preparation, we must take note of Psalm 127:1– "Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain." Recognize that the Lord will bless and protect those that seek Him, and use Godly wisdom in preparing, However, others may have prepared far beyond any measure and have no surety for success in the coming storm.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

What I'm about to leave you with will most likely be the most ignored, neglected, and probably hated article you will read. What I'm going to say is the most overlooked aspect of the average person's life, but it is most important second only to your eternal salvation. This will be primarily directed at the males, because if your families do not survive, it is your fault. One thing the old testament military and any member of the current military will tell you is that when you are in charge, you take the blame for the failure. Most men in America, like those in most every other country in the world, are failing our family, failing God, and failing our country.

We, men, think that 90 percent of the time if we provide for our family our job is over. We're wrong. The first reason your prepping or whatever you want to call it is useless is because you're placing your trust in items rather than in Jesus Christ. I'm not here to preach, I assure you. All I'm trying to do is save you and your family. If you do not know Jesus Christ as your personal savior, now is the time to get that right. Whatever hill you climb, whatever goal you reach is completely useless if you spend your eternity burning in hell. The book of Romans says, "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." If you believe Jesus is the true Son of God, born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died on the cross, and was resurrected three days later, and that you are a sinner deserving of hell, and you think God is telling you to get saved right now, you can be saved. How? Ask God to save you, and then place your trust in the shed blood of Jesus Christ– Heaven's spotless lamb– to save you. He alone can save you. Do that and you can and will, as per the word of God, be saved. Now even if you are saved, it's not the tools, the gadgets, the freeze-dried food that will keep you and your family alive in the economic collapse; it is the grace of God. If He were to remove His hand right now, you'd be dead. You're breathing His air. He's keeping you tethered to the planet right now. If He removed His hand, you'd be dead. So, instead of trusting freeze-dried food, guns, and Advil to save your life, why not trust Jesus?

Now, I'm not saying any of the prepping stuff is wrong. You should put back food, weapons, ammunition, medication, silver, and gold, but don't trust them. The second reason your family won't survive is you're confused. Simply, you don't know what you're doing. Now, you can read 100 “how-to” articles a week to get all kinds of knowledge, but again you're not focusing on what's important. Knowledge is important, I know that. An idiot won't survive without an instruction manual, but a family won't survive purely based on head knowledge. You need a relationship with your family. We talk about coming together, pooling our resources, and most of our families can't even sit together at a table and have a meal. I'm willing to bet over a fifth of the deaths in America will not be because of a lack of food, or water, or medicine. It'll be because people simply give up. Why? Their cell phones are dead. There will be no more video games, no computer, and when the center of your universe is gone, you'll just simply quit. Most Americans are addicted to their cell phones, or facebook, or pinterest, and that is pathetic. The only way most Americans know how to communicate is by a text message. When the phones are gone, they won't know how to communicate. If we can't carry on a face-to-face conversation with someone for more than ten minutes, how are we supposed to spend months and years together? Additionally, how do we do it in the most dangerous, stressfull times this country has ever faced?

Now, we can communicate with our friends and our coworkers, but often times the most important people in our lives– our family, especially our immediate family, who are the ones we spend everyday with– are the hardest to reach. Your immediate family, your brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, and especially your wife are the most important people in your life, by God's standards, not mine. The average American family sits down around a television and watch some filthy, nasty movie, straight from the devil's hell while eating a meal together. Then, they call that bonding. In the rare event a family does sit at a table to eat, often, the daughters stare at a cell phone in their hand, the sons have a video game, and the husband and wife are silent because they're still mad over something that happened a week ago. I don't care what your wife is like, it is the husband's job to love her and love her with every fiber of his being. If you could sum up what the Bible says about the family, you could do it with these six words– husbands love, wives submit, children obey. A man once said, “The man is the head of the home, the wife is the heart of the home, and the children are the hope of the home.” I remind you that while you neglect your children, the television, the computer, and the school system are shaping who they are. Whether you survive the economic collapse or not, you will one day turn this country over to them. Men need to have a real relationship with their families, moreso than with the buyers on craiglist or their sports buddies. Their most important and main relationship needs to be with their wife and children.

The next reason your family won't survive is that we, men in particular, are selfish. We care more about our needs than the needs of those around us. Now, some of you are scratching your head thinking, "I'm working thirty hours overtime to put back so that my family can survive the collapse. Now is that selfish?" You're concerned about the future, which isn't wrong. Proverbs says, "A people without a vision perishes." So, planning for the future is important, but not so important you neglect today. You can concern yourself so much with the future and work so much to put back to the extent it can become a god to you. We always make time for what we care about most. This isn't only prepping; it can be anything– vacations, a new X-box, a PlayStation, or a computer. We will work hours and hours so we can get an ounce of pleasure. Instead, we should be worrying about our family, getting our loved ones taken care of, walking with and having a real relationship with Jesus Christ, and being able to go to bed every night knowing that everything is alright between me, my family, and God. That is not pleasure; that is joy. This joy lasts a lot longer than any vacation or camping trip. I'm not saying any of that's wrong, but it shouldn't control us. Before the fall of the Roman Empire, the Romans cried out, "Give us bread and circus." They placed pleasure, as high in importance as the necessities, and it wasn't very long before they were destroyed. When you work 60 hours a week, all so you can go on a vacation and neglect your family, you are selfish.

All of us, at one point in time, have been overwhelmed. We have got so many problems in this generation, and yet living now should be easier than it ever has. The reason it is not is because we demand the best. I hate to tell say, but in TEOTWAKI your zero-turn lawn mower that you used to mow your 100 square foot yard is going to be useless. We have lost focus on what's important. We think we have to have so many things– the newest truck, the best lawnmower, the biggest house, and so forth. Yet, none of that amounts to any more than a hill of beans. I hope, the survivalist crowd, who claims to prioritize and focus on what's necessary, will listen to this. Your house payment, your cell phone bills, and your car payment should not be the things that control your life. If your car payment cripples your monthly income, sell it. I'll say this, buying a brand new vehicle is idiotic. By the time you drive it off the parking lot it loses over half its value, and 90% of the time when that warranty goes out, it'll start having problems. If you can't afford your house and if you missed work for a month, the bank would take everything you own, so sell it. Neglecting your family and working yourself into an early grave is not worth impressing the neighbors. If the neighbor's opinion means more to you than your family, you are shallow, and you should be ashamed. The only opinions that should matter to you are that of your wife, your children, and your Savior. Do your kids see you read your bible every day? Do you even read your bible? Do you teach them about the important things in life? Do you even know the important things in life?

If our families are struggling to stay above water now, they will never survive the economic collapse. Men, love your wives and take care of your families. Train up your children in the way they should go, and don't let the school or the television do it. The best thing you could do is get rid of the stupid thing. I believe it has been one of the most effective methods the devil has used in destroying America. Be a family now, and you will be a family then.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

If you have finally decided to take the plunge and eliminate social networks from your life (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), the skills for maintaining interpersonal relationships should not be completely thrown by the wayside.  Over the course of the last five years our “group” has created a network of people that has proven to be very valuable.  One disclaimer that I must put forth is that the flippant nature of social networking on-line must be completely discounted as OPSEC is paramount.  I would never bring someone into my home to have contact with my family or include them in my preps if I didn’t fully trust them.  This is why most of the people in my network I have met through my church.  Developing a relationship with other families who have similar values and beliefs has been the backbone of the group that we have formed.  Although there are only a dozen active members (not including 14 children) we have developed a set of skills that crosses many areas of need come TEOTWAWKI.  Aside from having a wide range of skills the ability to work together as a team, the members of our group encourage growth “as iron sharpens iron" (Prov. 27:17).

I have isolated six areas of preparation that our group network has been most beneficial:

1. Physical Training:

This has been the greatest area of growth for our group.  Five years ago more than half of the members were overweight and only a few exercised on a daily basis.  As a challenge to all of our group members we started our road to fitness with an eight week program similar to the Get Healthy Challenge.  Group members kept in touch with each other on a daily basis to hold one another accountable.  After this eight week program we decided to focus on strength and core training through the Hundred Push-ups and Two Hundred Sit-Ups challenges.  While working on individual fitness goals group members encouraged and challenged each other with daily progress reports through e-mail, phone or text to see how the others were doing.  Doing these challenges with our wives was also an eye opener, as many of the women took the challenges more seriously than the men.  One of the wives actually won the Two Hundred Sit-up Challenge ending with 312 total reps.  Over the course of the last year the physical training has been taken to a much more intense level.  The majority of the group members participated in a Tough Mudder  Event and a GORUCK Challenge.  While not every member participated in these events due to ability, injury or pregnancy the bottom line is that all of us are in better shape today than we were five years ago.  The average member has lost 20 pounds (I have personally lost 40) and we all have a regular schedule of physical activity that maintains strength, flexibility and endurance.  The challenge, support and accountability that doing these types of activities as a group brings is immeasurable.  I doubt that most people would see the same results if done individually.  Working at the retreat property together has also been good physical training for the group.  Bucking hay, cutting and hauling wood and other chores at one of the two sites we have as retreat properties can be grueling work.  You really find out who your friends are when the hay needs to come in or several cords of wood needs to be put up.  Physically the group dynamic is tested with hard physical labor, but working together completes the task sooner and builds relationships with group members.

2. Medical Training:

This has been the weakest area for our group as we need to increase our level of training.  We do have a doctor (optometrist) and a registered nurse in our group.  Although they both have medical training, by no means are we able to fulfill needs like trauma care or even general surgery.  One of the goals is to get several of the members to take an EMT course at the local community college.  This would not solve all of our needs for medical training, but it would be a start for gaining more knowledge concerning emergency medicine.  This course will be a major undertaking, as 120 hours of classroom, observation and practicum is a commitment that will not be taken lightly by most families.  Ultimately the benefit of the knowledge of life saving skills will have to outweigh the cost of loss of time with one’s family.

3. Food Preps:

Buying in bulk is always better when done as a group.  Greater quantity means lower cost per unit and the most value for the money you invest into your preps.  We bought beef from a local slaughterhouse, grains from the local co-op and worked on preserving them as a group.  Whether it is canning, storing in Mylar with oxygen absorbers or dehydrating, it is always better to have more hands helping with the work.  While most of the food preps were done successfully we have decided as a group to not try to brew beer anymore.  After hours of labor and weeks of waiting we had a pretty nasty batch of skunk beer that was not worth the effort or resources allocated.  Pickling has been discovered as a fun way to spend time together as a group.  Many of the wives were looking for ways to put up excess garden produce, so pickling parties became the summer staple.  Developing the mindset that putting food up was important became the norm.

4. Ammo/Shooting Preps:

Again working as a group to purchase ammo in bulk has always been better than trying to find the best deal for each individual.  Utilizing common calibers as the group standard for our center fire rifle and pistol, 12 gauge shotshells and .22 LR we were able to accumulate adequate supplies of ammunition for each group member.  The greatest resource to ammo preparation as a group has been reloading.  Most of our group members did not know how to reload ammunition when we formed five years ago.  Today most have at least a working knowledge if not their own presses and dies.  We have worked together sorting range brass, going through the steps of case preparation and even pooled our resources during the recent shortage of components.  Sharing load data and ballistics has also helped with refining the accuracy of the rounds we produce through reloading.  It is always better to have someone else check your load data just to be safe when reloading.  We have also purchased several sets of reactive steel targets for our shooting sessions.  While I admit this is the area that the guys enjoy the most and pour the majority of their enthusiasm behind, the wives in our group have all taken classes (as husbands are often the worst firearms instructors for women) and are continuing to hone their skills with range time.  The area for improvement would be to take a tactical course like one at Thunder Ranch or Gunsite Academy.  We did participate in a 1,000 yard long range shooting match (which just demonstrated everyone’s then-current lack of ability beyond 400 yards) as a group, but this was more of a recreational activity, not tactical training.  A couple of the guys do IPSC or IDPA, but the majority of the group is not involved in competitive shooting.  To encourage group participation in a serious training course or a competitive shooting series is the goal for the future.  While all group members have firearm proficiency, few have had shooting experiences under pressure.

5. Communications Preps

Our group started out with FRS/GMRS radios as our primary method of communication in the field, and then we got CBs which were slightly better, now most members have Ham radios.  Studying and taking the ARRL tests together was also a good experience.  While the technician test is not hard, it did require some studying to refresh knowledge of electronics and radios.  It was also amazing all of the different FCC requirements and regulations that we needed to know.  Pooling resources together to build antennas and radios is another good function for the group.  A few members have actually joined a local club that maintains the repeater in our town.  The next step would be to have more members go for their General licenses to increase the bandwidth we can access and broaden knowledge concerning Ham radio.

6. Spiritual Prep

As I mentioned earlier, all of our group members were found through our local church.  We are not exclusive to church members (as some have left the church but are still a part of the group), however it was important to find people that all had similar values and beliefs.  The group members have been a part of a couple of small group fellowships that meet at least once a week.  There is a family Bible study, a women’s study and a men’s study that meets at different times on different days.  This has been probably the most important area of our network.  To “bear one another’s burdens (Gal.  6:2)” and not only hold each other accountable, but to support one another through trials and blessings is perhaps the greatest function of our group.  One of our group members is active duty Army and has been deployed four times overseas.  The group has rallied around his wife and children to provide support during his prolonged deployments, which to me fulfills the second greatest commandment (Matt. 22:39).  While a group may be squared away with beans, bullets and Band-Aids if they are not squared away with their Maker then all is for naught.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The service has ended, we say goodbye to our friends, wait for everyone to leave then lock up the church.  The drive home takes only a few minutes and when we arrive my wife and I take off and secure our weapons and conduct a debrief on any problems we encountered during the service.  Not exactly the Norman Rockwell version of a day in church.  I realize that the fact that someone would carry a weapon in church is appalling to many people.  However, before you begin stereotyping Christians as right-wing radicals, ask yourself a few questions.  When you were growing up, how many people did you know who were the victims of some type of crime?  In the last year, how many people do you know that have been the victim of some type of crime?  If you are at least forty years old, you can easily quote the numbers, and the increase is significant.  Whereas crimes against property, institutions, and people have increased dramatically ( regardless of what the local media tells you), unfortunately the church has been given no exemption. 

My journey into the world of church security took the proverbial long and winding road, but I will condense it down to the basics.  A chance encounter a couple of years before had introduced us to a couple who were like-minded, great people.  We kept in touch and became close friends.  As the situation in the country continued to deteriorate we, like many "preppers", recognized that going it alone in hard times was not a good option. Clearly, our new friends were the ones we wanted watching our backs so we relocated to a city in the southeast to join forces with our friends to form a safe haven for "old geezers".  After all, we had four senior citizens and a .22 rifle, what could possibly go wrong?   Soon after settling in, we began a search for a church.  After several unsuccessful visits to area churches we found a small country church and sat down to listen.  One sermon and we were pretty sure this was the right place.  The pastor minced no words when delivering the message. Obviously this guy was not going to win any awards for political correctness.  Plain and simple this man spoke the truth.  We began regular attendance and I noticed that each time the pastor did the announcements that he would warn about some act which had occurred at the church, i.e. acts of vandalism, panhandler’s accosting elderly women as they walked to the church door, and other problems.  God began speaking to me and said you know what you need to do.  As usual, I procrastinated.  One day I timidly sought out the pastor to inquire further about the incidents, but he was corralled by other members and I could not talk to him.  The very next week, another incident occurred and as I sat in the pew God was very direct with me, get off your butt and do it.   After we returned home I spoke to my wife and told her my plan, she was in total agreement.  That day I wrote the pastor an e-mail simply stating that I have a number of years of experience in the security field and that if there was anything I could do to help let me know.  The Pastor's reply was quick and direct; I want you to set up a security team to protect the church.  Well, I guess I’m in it now!  Right on schedule the devil put the doubts into my head. I am brand new at this church I don’t know anybody, nobody knows me, why would a team follow someone they don’t know, etc.
Again, cutting to the chase, the team was formed.  The program launched and we continue to improve.  What I would like to do is offer some of the lessons learned from our startup to folks who are recognizing the need to protect their church.

Clearly state and understand your mission - When I tell people about our program the first thing they say is why does a church need a security program?  My first response is Proverbs 22.3 A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it. A quick internet search will produce an astounding number of crimes directed at churches.  Most people remember the church shootings in  Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Knoxville, Tennessee, but harbor the same delusion that it could never happen at their church.  When you decide to start a security program, clearly define what it will and will not cover and get buy-in from the governing body of your church.  Nothing says that you cannot expand your program at a later date, and you probably should. More on that later.
Do your home work- Before you start worrying about whether your team should carry  .44 magnums or 9mms you need to understand what most police officers already know, most of the job is paper work.  Ah man, that’s no fun! Sorry people, but it’s the truth. You will be dealing with vulnerability assessments, threat assessments, job descriptions, operating procedures, architectural drawings, and on and on and on.  Don’t panic if your knowledge in these areas is limited, there is help out there.  Tina Lewis Rowe Training has some really excellent material on building a program and this fine lady allows you to use the material free of charge, just respect her copyright and follow her agreement. 
Pick your team (carefully) - When I started our program my team was chosen for me, and it could not have worked out better.  I got men of the church who were well known by the congregation, mature and level-headed.  Most were veterans ranging from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan.   Later,  two ladies joined the team and if there were any doubts as to their abilities (which I doubt there were) they were quickly dispelled during a team trip to the range. All of  these team members were clearly a blessing, but the chances of you being handed a team of this quality are rare.  Choose your members using established criteria, look for mature folks who have good decision-making skills, avoid those who volunteer because of the “cool” factor.  Also, recruit younger members who you can train and have ready to replace people as they leave, and don’t get your feeling hurt because people will leave.  Establish a clear chain-of-command and impress on your volunteers how important the job is.
To carry or not to carry - This is one of the most controversial decisions you will have to make.  The church I attended before my move was partially governed by a group of elders.  Although we had no formal security team, a few of us stepped up when a threat was made against our pastor.  To our surprise some of the elders simply would not stand for anyone having a gun in church regardless of the fact that these men were police officers and concealed-carry holders.  The solution to this problem was obvious, smile, drop the subject, and do a better job of concealing your weapon.  After a lot of research and prayer, the firearms policy at my present church was formed and we tried to keep it simple.  Those who had valid carry permits were allowed to carry while performing their assigned security duties.  It is our belief that you must be as well equipped as those who seek to harm you if you are to have a viable defense.  However, each team member is made well aware of the legal and moral and financial hazards should they be forced to use a firearm.  If you have a church attorney, consult with them.  If you do not have an attorney, I recommend you read two books before deciding: Evil Invades Sanctuary by Carl Chin and  God, the Gunman & Me by Jeanne Assam.    
Build a comprehensive program- Please understand you must have a program that covers more than security.  If you protect the pastor from a mugger but the church burns down because you did not do routine fire extinguisher inspections, then your program has failed.  Your program must have many aspects including but not limited to security, fire protection, emergency evacuation, executive protection, and weather emergencies.  One of the first things we did was to install locks on numerous storage and maintenance areas, you do not need a kid playing with electrical cable. Do not alienate the congregation, once you start implementing rules no matter how correct and necessary they are, people will be offended.  Ask for input when practical, gradually implement new procedures.  When we first fielded our team, some church members were uneasy with these “security people“ hanging out at different locations.  After a few weeks of these “security people” holding umbrellas for people getting out of their cars and escorting the ladies to their cars when they parked in a dark area of the lot, sentiment changed. Write well thought out and researched procedures, practice those procedures, and drill on those procedures. 

In conclusion I would like to add if you hear the call that your church needs your talents, step up.  I was standing in the parking lot one cold rainy night and I realized that my years as a fire fighter, SWAT team leader,  and emergency manager were all preparation for this most important job and that I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

To be fair, when you referenced the history of changes to LDS doctrine over the years that appears on the anti-Mormon "" web site you should have included the LDS' perspective, which can be found here. - Kelly G.

 I have been following your blog for a couple of weeks now. I first heard about SurvivalBlog from my father, who attended a preparedness workshop you spoke at in Lakeland, Florida a few weeks back. Your blog has been very informative, and I agree with you on many of the issues you discuss.
I am writing to respond to a letter from Jordan in Utah about that state’s lack of inclusion in the American Redoubt. I understand and somewhat agree with your opinion about Utah's overall climate being a deterrent to large-scale food production (or at least large enough to sustain the population), but would like to note that there are some large fertile regions in Utah where crop and livestock farming takes place (Cache, Utah, and Sanpete Valleys, as well as the Uinta Basin and Delta area). As a devout Latter-day Saint, I appreciated your response to that letter with your kind words about good people you know who are Mormons, as well as your reference to the church’s Doctrine and Covenants for those seeking information about LDS doctrine. However, I wanted to point out that you are overlooking the LDS church’s teachings and culture regarding the importance of individual preparedness and self-reliance, which I consider important to this discussion. Having been raised as a Mormon, I can wholeheartedly assert that these are dominant themes that Mormons hear about almost weekly as they attend their church meetings.
The church teaches its members that physical and spiritual self-reliance should be a primary goal in life (see, a church web site about self-reliance). This includes building and rotating an emergency food supply, maintaining a financial reserve for unexpected emergencies, and helping to care for poor and needy neighbors through the fast offering program (where members fast for 24 hours each month and donate the money they would have spent on food as “fast offerings”). Mormons are also taught that an individual’s family and church (in that order) should be the primary safety nets as attempts at self-reliance fail—government support should be a last resort. These teachings on preparedness are a logical progression of the doctrine that we are living in the Last Days before the Second Coming of the Savior, the tribulations of which have been prophesied in each of the church’s canonical works, which include the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.
In my view, the Mormon pioneers were the ultimate survivalists, and preparedness culture remains firmly entrenched within the LDS community, both in doctrine and in practice. This stems from the oppression—both from overreaching government and from hostile neighbors—that early Latter-day Saints experienced. Jordan’s mention of cliquish behavior and suspicion toward outsiders among some Mormons in Utah is an unfortunate relic of these experiences. When I attended college in Utah, I witnessed this behavior on occasion, but I believe it is a minority practice and one not seen as much among church members outside Utah. In general, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints promotes diversity and inclusion, and is very welcoming toward newcomers. I have experienced this firsthand as I have visited LDS congregations in several states both in the U.S. and in Mexico.
Another issue I wanted to address is Jordan’s mention of the “corporate teachings” of the church. This is an inaccurate view which arises from recently-mainstreamed progressive ideologies. The church lives within its means and does not spend money it does not have. It invests its money wisely and conservatively. In several cases, the church has purchased large land parcels with the goal of producing food to assist with self-reliance and disaster relief programs worldwide. The City Creek development project in downtown Salt Lake City (widely maligned by critics of the church as being evidence of LDS corporate culture) added hundreds of jobs to the local economy, improved the then-deteriorating urban atmosphere surrounding Temple Square (headquarters of the church and one of the most-visited tourist attractions in the country), and was completed without spending a cent of the church’s tithing funds. The church also maintains Welfare Square in Salt Lake City, which provides access to food, clothing, and employment counseling to needy people. There is no church membership requirement to access these resources. The bottom line is that the church is a self-reliant organization, and not the elitist, corporatist organization that its critics would have you believe. (For more information on the church’s financial model, please see church apostle David A. Bednar’s recent address, “The Windows of Heaven”)
I hope this clears up any misconceptions about the LDS church’s teachings regarding preparedness and self-reliance. I know these issues are somewhat tangential from the purpose of the original post, but these are some of the thoughts I had when I read that letter. Please let me know if I can answer any questions you might have about the LDS church. Once again, I’d like to congratulate you on your informative web site.
Best wishes,- David B. in Kansas

JWR Replies: I appreciate you feedback on that recent letter. I agree that the only way that someone can properly evaluate a church is to fully investigate its doctrine and practices. There is a wide range of opinion on the LDS Church, but as with any other controversial topic, it is only fully-informed opinions that should be heeded. Choose your church wisely.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

All your points regarding Utah being unsuitable [for inclusion as an American Redoubt state] are well taken, I would add only a few items and clarify one statement;

The plain fact is the Mormon [LDS] church controls the political and economic conditions within the state and they have always wanted to expand that control to a national level. The majority follow (in my view) a completely wrong religious doctrine, in that they practice the corporate teachings of their church, which has very little to do with the Bible. I would also say when push comes to shove 99.9% of the elected officials will do exactly what the gray suits at the [LDS] temple in Salt Lake City tell them to do.

I, not being a native [to the state] nor a Mormon, have found there is what I call The Mormon Ceiling in employment here, meaning most upper level and higher paying jobs are very difficult to come by and seem reserved for those of a proper standing [within the LDS Church.] Especially in the public service jobs (local and state government) there is only so far up the ladder that a non-member can go. I have noted that in difficult times the employees let go are predominantly not members of the mormon church in both the private and public sectors. In fact are still some cities that actually require a temple recommend to even get an interview (all in the shadows of course).

To be perfectly blunt, given the class system ingrained in Utah society and even within their own religion, Utah is not a good choice for survival unless you become a cog in their system, but even then you will be treated as an outsider.

My observation is the people here are also pretty racist. It seems that it may be due to ignorance, lack of contact with other races and brainwashing from those very same powers that be. Sadly, they are blissfully unaware of it, denying it vehemently, even after it is proven to them.

The error I noted is (unless the law has changed in the last year since receiving a CCL permit) that Utah residents can open carry anywhere in the state as long as it takes two mechanical actions to fire the weapon. [Further, anyone carrying a gun] must leave a private business or home if asked and apparently schools, churches and public buildings are weapons free areas or free fire zones as some call them.

I have visited quite a few parts of the state and besides very small pockets of Utah that have [favorable] microclimates, most of the state is not viable in a total collapse, although this is probably true in most any [other western] state. Given what I have observed and living here for the last 20 or so years as a Lutheran, I can honestly say a move to the north west of here, would be a prudent choice for long term survival. Otherwise it is a decent place to live. I just wish we had continued north years ago. - Jordan

JWR Replies: Thanks for mentioning the clarification on open carry in Utah.

The folks at US Conceal and Carry posted these details on Utah's strange open carry law:

"Utah allows for open carry of unloaded firearms without a concealed firearm permit. “Unloaded” as it applies here, means that there is no round in the firing position, and the firearm is at least two “mechanical actions” from firing. As carrying the firearm with the chamber empty, but with a full magazine, meets this definition (the handler must chamber a round, and then pull the trigger), this is a common work around for Utah residents who do not wish to acquire a permit. Without the permit, the [unloaded] firearm must be clearly visible.

(Emphasis added.)

It is sad that open carry of fully loaded guns without a permit is not legal in Utah.  Unless you have a CCW permit, you cannot legally openly carry a loaded revolver or an autopistol with a cartridge in the chamber. The alternative, Condition 3 carry (that is, carry with an empty chamber--commonly called Israeli Carry), is slower and cumbersome, since it requires two hands to ready the gun for firing. If you have only one hand available (for instance when grappling, or when injured), then you may end up dead.

For anyone who lives in Utah without a CCW permit but who wishes to open carry, I recommend that you skip carrying revolvers altogether. (They are too slow to load, even with a speedloader.) Also skip carrying a Glock (or a non-thumb safety version of the S&W M&P autopistol), because without an external safety lever they probably wouldn't meet the "two mechanical actions" test of the Utah law. For open carry of other autopistols, be sure to practice a lot in drawing and slide rack chambering from Condition 3 ("Israeli") Carry.

As for Mormon politics and clannishness in Utah, I don't consider that a major issue or impediment for anyone who is considering relocation to Utah or to southern Idaho. I've observed that there are are lots of non-Mormon small towns throughout the United States where newcomers get the cold shoulder socially, and where there is a de facto hiring preference for locals. That is just basic social dynamics and the We/They Paradigm in action. To illustrate: I've been a landowner living year-round in The Unnamed Western State for eight years, and faithfully attending the same local church for all of that time. But I'm still considered a relative newcomer. Many of my neighbors have lived here for three or four generations. So I can't expect to be "instantly integrated." That is just the way it is.

As for LDS doctrine, I'd rather not open that bucket of worms in detail in this venue. That would go far beyond the scope of SurvivalBlog's raison d'être. Just suffice it to say that I have some irreconcilable doctrinal differences with the LDS Church. But that doesn't mean that I don't get along with Mormons, socially. I've met some fine individuals who are Mormons.

For anyone who is curious about LDS doctrine, I would recommend that you read both the LDS Doctrine and Covenants tome (available at almost any used book store and also available on-line) and a great evidential book by an outsider, titled Letters to a Mormon Elder. I find the history of changes to LDS doctrine over the years is fascinating, just in itself.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

My prayer life in recent days has been dominated by South Africa. I have relatives in both Zimbabwe and South Africa, so I've kept a close eye on the situation there for many years. After reading the writings of Ilana Mercer, other South Africans (including Dr. Peter Hammond, Cathy Buckle, the anonymous posts at The Afrikaner Journal,) and the many voices from the African diaspora, I can see that there is indeed a genocide nearing in South Africa. Those who fled Zimbabwe (the former Rhodesia) to South Africa gained only a temporary reprieve. I encourage all freedom-loving Christian and Jewish South Africans (and I do mean all of them: white, black, asian, and coloured) to emigrate and settle in the American Redoubt. If you are going to flee to America seeking freedom, then you might as well settle in the Redoubt--America's bastion of freedom, where the bedrock culture still predominates.

South Africa's Afrikaner culture is quite traditional and has deep roots. (Americans need to understand that Afrikaner culture is largely church-going, quiet, and conservative. It is much more about ballroom dancing than it is rock-n-roll.) I recognize that it is hard to leave your relatives, your friends and that red dirt. But there comes a day when you must either leave or perish. That day has come.

My messages:

1.) To the Christians and Jews of South Africa: Recognize the true peril that you face, and emigrate if you feel convicted to do so. God will providentially protect his Elect, but they must heed the warnings that they hear.

2.) To the folks already living in the American Redoubt: Please do your best to encourage and support emigration from South Africa. They need more than just our prayers. Please help these refugees find jobs, land, and church homes in the Redoubt. If you have God-fearing friends or relatives in Africa then encourage them to emigrate as soon as possible.

3.) To those with any influence in our government: Please do your best to have immigration quotas raised, to welcome newcomers from South Africa.

4.) My prayer for both the people of South Africa and to those who will welcome them here in America is simple and forthright: Matthew 25:34-46. Please meditate on these verses and pray that doors will be opened.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

CPT Rawles,
The author of the "Your Two Foot Bugout" article refers to through-hiking the Appalachian Trail as a simulation of a "shank's mare" bugout. I've had similar thoughts in the past and would add these recommendations: in a situation where the fecal matter has impacted the rotating blades of the oscillating air moving device, do as the Laytons did in Patriots, i.e. go heavy on bullets and light on food. As the Golden Horde descends on your trail, you'll want to defend whatever remains of your belongings and family.

Also consider that thru-hikers count on resupply on average of every 10 days. Your mileage may vary, but can you and your loved ones realistically handle more than 10 days worth of gear and food? Even the elites of the military rely on resupply from higher echelons, on average of 3 days.

Also consider travel distances. Appalachian Trail thru-hikers average 15 miles per day. Without resupply or pre-positioned caches, a foot bound bugout is limited to 150 miles. Is your retreat within that limit? Don't be one of those who "always relies on the kindness of strangers." Ken and Terry Layton were fictional characters driving a narrative with an author guiding the process. We have a divine Author who is guiding our story, but we prep anyway. - Woody

Saturday, October 12, 2013

I have delivered my sheep to safety, and you may soon be called on to do the same.

Almost five years ago we started our own little flock of Katahdin sheep in order to be able to raise our own healthy, drug-free organic meat. Through the years we had 23 lambs, two rams, and many tough times (lambing in winter) as well as hilarious, joyful times (lambs frolicking and snuggling). We had read that in large flocks sheep have a mob mentality, but we discovered that one-on-one sheep had their own personalities and were much more complex than we ever imagined (kind of like people!)

In our main pasture they had things to climb on and jump off, big red exercise balls and Jolly Balls to play with, and more. We watched them try to figure out how to open the gate carabiners with their mouths. We watched lambs perform circus acts on the backs of their mothers under our floodlights at night. We gave them the best life we could, protected them in many ways, and gave them a quick and humane death when the time came (well, Katahdins are meat sheep).

One thing we tried and failed at was improving our pasture. Three years in a row we planted pasture seed and three years in a row we got skunked. A lot of work and money down the drain. Our property is just too dry and we couldn’t irrigate. So our sheep were on hay 7 months out of the year and required much higher quality (and correspondingly more expensive) hay than is typically fed to horses and cattle. When the collapse comes there would be no way to raise or buy / transport three tons of hay for over winter!
No hay, no sheep.

Buying that much hay wasn’t working for us, but equally we realized that we were too close to Spokane for the coming collapse. We couldn’t move the sheep on short notice and we couldn’t defend them against looters and rustlers. Our plan was actually to shoot our own sheep before bugging out rather than trust them to the “mercies” of hungry, desperate, violent people. But having to do that would not only take time and alarm the neighbors, but be enormously disturbing at the very time we needed to be focused and high speed.
They would just have to be moved to safety in advance.                  

Don't misunderstand: I loved the idea of being a “shepherd” – that identity was special, manly, challenging. It was an opportunity to learn many, many carryover skills. I took my responsibilities very seriously, learning from my sheep as well as from the Bible about what a good shepherd does and does not do (and the Bible has a lot to say).

"Yahweh is my Shepherd. I shall lack nothing." (Psalm 23:1)

I learned that the shepherd/sheep metaphor is used throughout the Bible and applies not only to the relationship between God and his people, but between human leaders and the people depending on them.

"When He saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." (Matthew 9:36)

Sheep need shepherds. Guard dogs are important and minimize predator losses, but sheep dogs are not a substitute for a shepherd.

When all the details miraculously came together it was a long drive to Montana to deliver my precious flock to their new home, but God guided me through the whole process. There were valuable things to learn and new equipment to purchase so that even the sheep sale and move was a prepping lesson. And it was a lesson in faith as much as anything.

The 12 hour drive there was grueling for me and my sheep, but it left me with a lot of time to think and pray. I know my sheep must have been wondering why I was doing this to them! And the answer was, This is what real shepherds do. They do what's best for their sheep, even if it's hard on the sheep, and even if it means the shepherd sacrifices and suffers too.
I spent half my profit on gasoline, replacing a tire, and a hotel room before the trip back. It was costly.
But it was worth it.

"Even if I go through a ravine as dark as death, I will fear no harm, for you are with me and I'm comforted that your shepherd's crook and club protect me." (Psalm 23:4)
Why would a shepherd take his flock through a dangerous area? To get to good pasture. It might be hard on the sheep, it might be dangerous, but the shepherd was with them, and that was enough. He could rescue them and he could defend them. The shepherd was prepared.

Many of us have adopted the "sheepdog" identity as so eloquently described by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman in his book On Combat. God has put people in our lives who need protecting – our family and friends, perhaps neighbors or citizens in harm's way when we're in public going about our business. We must have sheepdogs!

But I want to propose that some of us have been called to be shepherds. "Shepherd" is not just a defensive role, not simply a spiritual role, it is a visionary leadership role. Someone who knows people, who cares personally for those God has put in his/her life, and can motivate, encourage, and equip people. The shepherd is someone who knows where to go (sometimes literally), how to get there, and can lead his people to good pasture and still waters.

There's a negative example in Zechariah 11:15-16 that illustrates a shepherd's rightful duties: A shepherd is to care for those who are dying, look after the young, heal the injured and feed the healthy.

Sheep dogs are essential, but they're no substitute for a shepherd. What sheepdog can do all that?

Is that what God is calling you to do? Then welcome that calling, embrace it. It's not all up to you! Don't be afraid to step up. He will guide you as you guide them.
Even shepherds have a Shepherd.

He's proven he's a worthy shepherd: Our Great Shepherd, Jesus, delivered us from death at great personal cost. He suffered and sacrificed for his sheep, and led us from spiritual hunger and darkness to life and safety. And he will lead us home one day through the valley of the shadow of death to his great and joyful Pasture in heaven.
After all, that's what a real shepherd does!

The Sovereign Lord is coming to rule with power,
bringing with him the people he has rescued.
He will take care of his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs together
and carry them in his arms;
he will gently lead their mothers.

- Isaiah 40:10-11

Be prepared. Trust God! And take heart, brothers and sisters. Isaiah 43:2 promises that He will see you through. - ShepherdFarmerGeek

Saturday, October 5, 2013

I couldn’t help but notice the white plastic bags that covered the handles of the gas pumps at the corner gas station.  “Out of Gas”, said the sign. No gas on account of a hurricane a long, long way from Springfield, Tennessee.  Fortunately, I had filled my tank earlier in the week and was only there to get ice. But it all seemed fishy to me how a storm so far away would affect us like this. And honestly, a vague sense of worry lingered in the back of my mind until the following day.  The trucks arrived and filled the gas reservoirs at my corner gas station and everything went back to normal, as if nothing ever happened. 

I am a stay at home Mom and I had become accustomed to being semi-prepared. With two children in diapers, I had double wipes, double diapers, double sippy cups – the whole nine yards. I had even dabbled in sewing my own cloth diapers and some times, when there just wasn’t enough money (which was most of the time), I created my own baby wipes from cutting a roll of paper towels in half and soaking them in a mixture of baby oil, baby shampoo and water.  It worked. It got us by when we needed it most. It seemed to me my faith in Jesus had grown so much during the time when the kids were little. God was always there, providing when we just couldn’t make it to the next paycheck. He always showed Himself to be faithful on our behalf and always seemed to come through in the nick of time providing for our every need.  That night at Wal-Mart, it was no different. He opened my eyes to see things I never really gave a second thought to.  And that night changed my life forever.

It was 1 a.m. and I just couldn’t sleep. I had decided to go to Wal-Mart to pick up our groceries for that week while my husband was home with the babies sleeping soundly. I could shop in peace without being sidetracked with juggling coupons, lists and the kids.  It probably wasn’t the best choice going out that late at night, but it had to get done and I’ve always been a fairly tough cookie. I made it in to the automatic doors and had my list sitting on my purse headed down the aisles. I turned down the rice and bean aisle and as I did heard His voice. Yes HIS voice. I was very familiar with the voice of my Shepherd but it came kind of unexpectedly and really, He caught me off guard. I heard, “Look at the shelves.”  I knew it was Him, and I knew I needed to obey, so I pulled the cart over, waiting for Him to speak again as the night stockers went about stocking the shelves a few aisles over. As I looked at the rice – I saw two or three – 2# lb. bags, maybe three 5# lb bags and two – 10# lb. bags and one huge bag on the bottom shelf. Different kinds of rice, Basmati, White and Brown. It sure didn’t seem like a lot though. The same with the bean section. There were a few different types of beans, but not a good supply for a major supermarket. Gosh, it sure didn’t look like a lot of food there, I thought to myself. Immediately He spoke in a voice full of authority and power and truth. “If a world economic collapse was to happen, this would be the first place people would come, and it would all be gone in seconds.”  I was stunned. I was not panicked or alarmed, because I knew He’d show me the answers, but I was definitely stunned. What did this mean? I really wasn’t sure, but His voice was so unmistakable, I knew what He was saying was very important and He wanted me to hear – really hear -  what He was saying. After a few moments, and after the shock of His statement wore off a bit, I answered Him back gently,  “Okay Lord, what do I do?”.   This time, without words, but with a picture in my mind, I just knew that each pay day, which was every two weeks, I was to take $20 and buy $20 worth of spaghetti noodles; then the next payday $20 worth of spaghetti sauce, and the next, $20 worth of sugar, and on and on. So I did exactly that.  I needed basic building blocks for cooking from scratch. Cocoa, butter, flour.  I had never ever thought like that before. Usually our dinners were hot dogs and macaroni and cheese and pizza’s from a box. Most of our food was processed although I did some recipes from scratch. So this entire concept solidified in my mind as I finished up the shopping. I knew what I had to do. 

I began researching cooking from scratch. A couple of my friends said,  “The Bible says, look at the lilies of the field, they neither toil nor spin, yet their heavenly Father takes care of them. Are you sure you’re hearing from the Lord?”.  I thought to myself, “they’re right”, scripture does talk about trusting wholly and completely on the Lord. So I researched that too. Woven through the glorious stories of the Bible, God revealed to me, Noah, who prepared by building the ark. He showed me Joseph, who by the wisdom of the Lord, staved off starvation for all of Egypt and ultimately his very own family. I realized that with faith – there is also wisdom from the heart of the Father.  I remembered the days as a small child of five years old, I would sit on my Gramma’s side porch and pick elderberries and put them in a colander along side my mother and Aunt. To this day, I still remember the taste of her elderberry pies. I remembered how cold the water was that flowed from Gramma’s hand water pump that was only 10 feet from that same side porch. And I remembered the scary cistern in her basement that I was sure had dead bodies in it…  I knew the road. I had been there before, and the Lord was helping to crystallize it for me in my own mind and life.  I could no longer be sidetracked with day to day life happenings, I needed to look ahead. I needed to be prepared. And I needed to one day be able to teach my children how to be prepared. Being a Mom, it was already in my DNA to be prepared. I came from a long line of women survivors in my family and I was no different from them. So I went to work. I began to make everything from scratch. Deodorant (cornstarch, baking soda, coconut oil and essential oils), Toothpaste, Make-up. I began to sew. I sewed monthly menstrual pads! I stocked medical supplies in a tackle box. I created a bug out bag that would probably last us 3 weeks if we had to bug out away from home. I read every article online about bio-diesel all the way to permaculture. I bought hundreds of dollars in seeds.  I grew plants and learned what bugs like to eat them, and then saved as much seed as I possibly could. Every time we’d get some extra money from our tax refund or side jobs, I would buy 15 packages of coffee at Big Lots and 10 more bags of rice!  I wanted to make sure that we would survive if anything like the Lord hinted at, would happen. And I’m happy to say, I am, with all humility satisfied with all that I’ve learned and I believe we would be okay, should any unforeseen disasters happen. Of course, there’s so much more we want to learn, but I am confident in our basic knowledge.

As the years have passed since the day I heard the Lord's voice in the bean aisle, our family has accomplished so much in the field of prepping. We’ve re-opened the water well on our property. We’ve installed two wood burning stoves in our home. We are, for the most part out of debt, except for those few medical bills straggling behind us. Our cars/trucks are old and ugly, but paid for. We have ceramic water filters in case we need to get water from the creek. I’ve taught myself to can tomatoes, chicken broth, chicken and crabapple jelly. We raise and butcher our own chickens. This past summer our garden produced 200 lbs. of tomatoes that all got canned and I’ve become obsessed with meals in a jar and meals in mylar bags. There isn’t much to this prepping life that we’re not familiar with now. I knew I had become a hardcore prepper when I raced through reading JWR’s novel “Patriots” in one night!

Oh and yes,  our family members definitely think we’re crazy. But the running joke is, “We’re going to Connie’s house if anything “goes down”.”  I’ve probably dragged my husband kicking and screaming all the way, but miraculously he is now -- fully on board. 

We have worked so incredibly hard at this lifestyle. Approaching life this way, full of faith in God and grateful for the wisdom He’s given us, we will thrive and we’ll be able to help others should the need arise. And I look forward to teaching my friends and family these amazing skills. There is a wonderful balance that we’ve found. Times are coming when we’ll need to know God’s voice.  Times are coming where we’ll need to heed and obey His voice and be His friend. We’ve all read the end of the book, and its not going to be easy. I’m thankful that He loves us all so much to speak to us.  And our lives are so much better for the listening.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Dear SurvivalBlog Readers,

Greetings from the C.R.O.S.S. Ministry family, the Woods!

Many and great thanks to those of you who have spent time before God praying for the ministry God placed before us, pray for us, and praying for guidance about how/when to minister to those in South Sudan. Thanks to those of you who donated financially and may God return to you abundantly more than you gave! God has worked greatly in us while pursuing the mission field in South Sudan. He has stretched, taught, corrected, edified and simply put, grown us in Christ through this process. We have been used of God to minister to others and be ministered to! God alone deserves the glory, honor, and credit for what He is doing in South Sudan!

In praying about whether to continue to pursue South Sudan or not (as we have faced some significant obstacles in raising sufficient funds and moving over there) I believe that God wants us to put South Sudan on the back burner for now, but not permanently. I am pretty attached to the country and its people, though I have only been there once. Please continue to pray for the people, in particular, those along the border areas with Sudan and South Sudan.

However, at this time despite my burning desire to help the Saints in that region, I believe God wants me to focus on my family's needs for the time-being, but I believe that South Sudan is still in the future for us, just not according to our initial timetable. For those who have been wondering, what this means for C.R.O.S.S. is that the assets will stay in a trust account, waiting to be used of God. If C.R.O.S.S. were ever to be dissolved, then the assets would be transferred to a qualified Christian charitable organization with similar goals/vision in mind as they must by law and as they should be, before God. But I believe that He will send us in His good time to South Sudan. Our hope is in Christ crucified, buried and resurrected!

For now, please stop sending contributions, as we wait for God's guidance.

Pray for the body of Christ worldwide and in particular now, those in South Sudan and adjoining countries!

In submission to Christ, - Micah and Dania Wood

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Because you are reading SurvivalBlog, I am going to assume you are already well on your way to becoming more self-sufficient.  And since I am making that assumption, I will also assume you are making the proper preparations to live that lifestyle. You are acquiring guns and the proper, good quality ammunition, although now impossible to find at a decent price, if you can find it at all.  It’s also important to remember the often forgotten parts such as cleaning supplies for your weapons and training such as self-defense, gunsmithing, and ballistic information.  You are storing food that is good quality and also long lasting food such as freeze dried. Along with food are water, water storage, and purification tools. Heirloom seeds are another important survival tool. I think this is one of the things that is often overlooked by many these days. On a side note, if you do the math, you pay many times more at the Big Box stores for little tiny seed packets compared to what you would pay by buying the seeds in bulk. When you buy the seeds in bulk, it is imperative that you store the seeds in a dark, dry, and cool place. Be sure to rotate them according to date and use up the old ones or donate them. I always say teach a man to grocery shop for a meal, but teach him to garden and he’ll feed himself for life.
So then what can I offer you in preparation for your survival and your freedom? When I first read JWR's books, I realized he had one item of preparedness right that I feel many people overlook. One thing that is so important, that without it, I believe you are in deep trouble.

No, it’s not guns, silver, water, or food. It is much more important than any of those. It is my belief that the most important “survival” item a person can possess is salvation. Some of you may be thinking “Oh no, here we go again, another preachy thing that someone has been trying to talk me into for years.” But please, just hear me out.

I’m not trying to sell you anything, nor am I trying to condemn you. I believe not many people in the “church” today have done a good job of explaining things. Or I’m also willing to bet we “the people of the church” have hurt, betrayed, condemned, or have tried to sell you on something it seems like we don’t live by ourselves. Therefore to you people on the fence or non-believers, I would like to apologize. I would also like to try to explain why I believe some of us people of faith have hindered your growth, or downright turned you away from coming to know what Jesus Christ has truly done for everyone.

First off, I am no expert. I myself have only read the Bible a few times. I do however study it every day and have for several years. I am a 36 year old husband and father of four boys. I am merely a self-proclaimed auto technician “master” who over the past 18 years of working on cars, has spent the last six years studying and listening to the Bible and any radio sermons or podcasts I can find. So enough about me, here’s what I can offer. Or perhaps I should say what God has to offer you. I believe in what the Bible says. I believe that the world is in a “fallen” or evil state. I believe that the Bible is 100% accurate in everything it claims. I believe that all people are sinners and that we are in need of a savior. I believe that Adam and Eve were made in the image of God. Not that God looks like us necessarily, but that they were made spiritually alive and the day they ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they spiritually died. They did go on to die a physical death hundreds of years later. So now that this is a fallen world and we all are in fact sinners and born spiritually dead. I do believe God manifested in flesh, came to Earth, lived a perfect life, died on the cross, and rose from the dead in order to make your salvation possible. But most of all I would like you to understand God’s perfect love and the acceptance he has for you. I don’t believe you can start understanding, until you understand his forgiveness. Jesus died for you without you asking him to. He also died without you doing anything for him. Because of what He did, God now perfectly loves and accepts you. If you accept and acknowledge that you are a sinner and you are in need of a savior, He will accept you into his kingdom. God forgave you because of his perfect love for you.

I truly believe that seeking a relationship with God and realizing that you can only be saved because of what Jesus did for you, is the best preparation you can make for yourself and your family. While it is important to be responsible, take care of your family, and have the necessary tools and items, the time here is like a blink of an eye compared to eternity. Once you start to understand your God’s love, you will have the most freedom you can experience here on Earth. And once you understand God’s love and forgiveness, you will not be bound by this Earth nor the people or government on it. It is the one and only survival tool that follows you everywhere. It never wears out or needs replacing. It doesn’t matter how rich or poor you are, because it’s 100% free. It is the true prep for your future. It is my belief that if you invest in your relationship with God, it will pay you back more than anything or anyone can. I know without a doubt, if you seek him, you will find him. You may not always find ministries that have pure and good intentions. And you may not get true doctrine taught. If anyone says or teaches that it’s Jesus plus this or that, you may want to question their teachings. It is Jesus… it is only Jesus. What he offers is available to you all. No matter what race, class, age, no matter what you have done. No matter how bad you think you have sinned, he waits for you. I think once you start to understand Jesus and what he has done for you all, you will begin to understand his love and the completeness of his forgiveness. I came to Christ many years ago, but only in the past few years did I understand the complete forgiveness we all have received. Only through this will you start to know God’s love. So when I think of survival, true survival, I can think of no better way than living for eternity with God. What better prep can you offer your friends and family? So I beg you all, please consider God as your most valued “prep”.

God will never leave you nor let you down. Trust me, if you seek him, you will absolutely find him. I’m not asking you for any money or trying to sell you anything.  I only want you to experience God’s love, forgiveness and friendship. I know of many free resources for anyone who wants it. After a lot of consideration, I decided not to post them. I’m not affiliated with any one church or resource, and I don’t want people to think I’m drumming up donations for these people. But if anyone has questions on anything Biblical or wants any resources, I’d be happy to help in any way I can.

So the ball is truly in your court. God waits for every single one of you. So if you want to be saved, it is very simple. What must you do? Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved (Acts 16:30-31). Why do you need to be saved? We are all infected with sin (Romans 3:23). We are all born into sin (Psalm 51:5). We all choose to sin (Ecclesiastes 7:20). Sin is what caused us to be spiritually dead…”unsaved”. Because the penalty of sin is infinite and eternal, only Jesus could pay the penalty. Jesus has fully paid for all of our sins and has already done all of the work necessary for your salvation. Just receive what he has done for you. Believe in faith what Jesus Christ alone has done for you. Believe in him and you will never perish (John 3:16). Jesus is the way of salvation (John 14:6). Growing to know Christ is a wonderful journey that will fulfill every need your heart has and in every step of the way, you can be confident that God loves you (Matthew 28:20).

Sunday, September 1, 2013

(Level II Scenario, continued)


For me, a 1,000 Gigawatt generator is not needed. Just 12 volt deep cycle storage batteries and a photovoltaic panel to charge them up, along with with a homemade generator from a lawnmower engine fan belted to a Chevrolet car alternator will be enough to power some communication electronics and spot lighting.  Deep cycle batteries are preferable to regular 12 V car batteries as they last much longer, but car batteries will certainly do in a pinch.  Incandescent lights need more power than fluorescents which need more than white LED arrays. Do some experimenting.  Another way to generate electricity is by turning a DC motor into a generator.  A DC motor accepts a DC voltage, from a battery for example, applied across two terminals and translates that energy to a rotary mechanical motion that drives whatever the motor is hooked up to, (a cordless drill, a kids play jeep, whatever).  A generator is the exact same motor, except instead of applying a voltage and harvesting a rotary force, you apply a rotary force and harvest a voltage.  All you do is hook something to the motor shaft, a bicycle, hand crank, a water or wind wheel, and turn it and a voltage is generated across the same two terminals the battery was previously hooked to.  Pay attention to polarity.  The motor should have a plate on it indicating what amount of voltage and amperage it will generate.  As you put the generator under a load it will become harder to turn, the result of a phenomenon called back EMF.

I don’t know much about big generators.  The options are basically gas, diesel or propane.  Diesel appears to be the best option.  Gas is more dangerous to store than diesel and the diesel generators last longer under a sustained usage (lower RPM).  Propane may also have problems lasting due to top end lubrication (I’m not sure about that) but propane is the easiest to store.  A generator could be used sporadically, say a couple hours a day to keep the refrigerator cold or run appliances.  If you do store gas or diesel, treat it with preservatives while it is fresh, at the beginning of the storage cycle, and store it in a safe manner.

There are a lot of electronics that could be harvested from a car, 12 Volt lighting, batteries, radios, CBs, meters and gauges.  Not to mention the metal to fabricate tools, hydraulics to provide motive force, petroleum products, the motor, the wheels and tires, transaxles to translate a rotary force 90 degrees, seats (what Southern abode is complete without an old car seat gracing the front porch?).

We have pretty well considered water; (did I just say well?)  That's the next step in a more permanent water supply:  a well.  It is certainly possible to hand dig a well, but before attempting to do that, you should find out how to go about it because a well cave-in is nothing to be ‘cave’alier about.  The best bet is to have the well dug by a professional; don't forget to have a way to get the water up without electricity, or have a generator.  Research how to locate a well with regard to septic systems, water table etc.

Lighting is also covered by using Kerosene lamps and /or rechargeable solar powered lamps.  Have spare wicks, globes, bulbs, switches, and plentiful fuel or energy.  Even if using Kerosene lamps, it would be wise to have a more concentrated, focused, portable, powerful method of lighting available to use when needed.  Of course, a flashlight fills the bill quite nicely.  Have some way to use rechargeable batteries. 

For more permanent ways to dispose of bodily waste, I reckon the most lo-tech is the good ol' outhouse.  Dig a pit about 6-8 feet deep, build a portable house to cover it and provide privacy.  When it gets near full, cover the last few feet with dirt, dig a new hole and pull the house (built on skids?) over to it.  Lime might be used to keep the smell down, another exciting topic to research.  Other options are methane digester toilets, burning the waste in 'honey pots" or using the existing septic system by hauling in flushing water by hand.  The latter option is probably the easiest and less damaging to the water table than an outhouse, non-potable water can be used for flushing.

Washing dishes in a water conservation mode can be done by using the following process:   1.) scrape the loose food of for the dogs to eat or to compost for the garden, 2.) fill one sink with water and some soap, 3.) fill another sink with water and a 1/4 cup of Clorox, 4.) Wash the dishes in the soapy water, 5.) rinse/disinfect in the Clorox water and 6.) set out to drain or towel dry.  Dishtowels will be worth their weight in gold; I suspect the cloth could be purchased fairly cheaply and towels cut, and hemmed, from the roll.  If need be, recycle the water through a distiller or use it to wash something else.

Washing clothes will be a chore.  I guess a big washtub or two and a washboard is the way to go, hang em up on a clothes line, it's been done before.  Another option is to cut a hole in the top of a five-gallon bucket lid and agitate using a (clean) plunger, kind of like an old-fashioned butter churn.  A clothes wringer would be cool (A large industrial mop bucket with a wringer might suffice).  Speaking of which, study up on ways that these common things were done before electricity, read books on pioneers that kind of stuff.  Figure out how to make soap or stock up on enough to hold you over for a year or two, just in case, God forbid, a collapse drags on that long.

Trash disposal will be non-existent in a survival situation.  Around here if we miss one trash day, it starts to pile up something fierce.  Over the long term, this could be a serious health hazard.  Trash piling up will smell, attract rodents and flies, and encourage disease.  On the bright side, there will be less packaging to be disposed of since most new production will be home generated, food and such.  None the less, have a sanitation plan.  Separate trash at the point of origin, paper and combustibles in one can,  biodegradables in another, glass and metal in a third.  Burn the combustibles, compost the bio-degradable, and bury or pile up the metals and glass.   Re-cycle everything possible.  Keep the area cleaned up from trash blowing into the yard.

Bathing could be accomplished by heating water on a stove and pouring into a tub or maybe by constructing a solar shower outside for summer use.


Communications could be clutch.  Try to cover as much as the spectrum as possible.  Get a short-wave radio, or Ham transceiver, covering at least 15 kHz to 30 MHz; a police/fire scanner covering the local emergency bands, an AM/FM radio, CB radios, and a television.  Have the ability to power all these with a 12-volt battery.  A Ham rig would be cool to enable two way conversations.  The shortwave should cover the upper and lower sidebands as well as CW signals.  The police scanner will be useful if there are riots or civil unrest.  CB radios, especially ones with sideband channels, can be used for personal communications, maybe one base station and 2 or 3 handhelds, all with rechargeable batteries.  Avoid having an 'antenna farm' outside your house so as not to draw a lot of attention.  Point to point communications in the form of intercoms, sound powered phones, hand, mirror, and semaphore signals could also be used.


If the gasoline is flowing, well and good, if not, it’s back to bicycles, horses and feet.  Make sure the car stays tuned up, has good tires, a full tank of gas and is in good working order.  Stock up on spare parts, water pump, alternator, fluids, and plugs, et al.  You can build an 'Urban Assault Vehicle' with winches, heavy-duty bumpers, and extra gas cans and all that stuff if you are so inclined.  Having a couple bikes handy might be a good thing.  Spare inner tubes etc, etc. 


The immediate concern regarding education is knowledge gained before problems occur.  Learn how to do stuff, study farming, gardening, carpentry, blacksmithing, medicine, cooking and preserving, stone masonry, weaving, trapping, hunting, fishing, metal working, electricity, plumbing, the list goes on and on.  Pick one or two things to get really good at and cross train in the others.  Gather information, books, magazine and Internet articles to keep as a reference library.  Don't neglect classics and light reading. And the three R's, reading, 'riting and 'rithmatic.   Set up schooling for the children if the schools shut down for a while and train constantly in as many sufficiency disciplines as possible.  Have school supplies available.


Picture yourself in a shelter with four young kids and no crayons; picture yourself climbing the walls.  Games, books, coloring books and crayons, lots-o-paper and pencils (exactly how would you go about making a pencil anyway?) textbooks for higher education, radio, outdoor activities.  Have fun.

Government Relations

A real wild card, chances are they won't be prepared (in a good way) for a serious societal emergency.  Of course with the current bunch of crafty, disingenuous, lying, cheating, stealing, power mad, constitution stompin' yahoos in Washington, that won't matter as they are likely to make a power grab (for the good of the people, don't you like children?) using the various Executive Orders surreptitiously signed into law over the last few decades.  "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you."  Yeah, right.

As far as self-government goes, pick a leader, establish a legislative and a judicial body is one option, follow the US Constitution; another might be to set up a system of Judges like the early Hebrew people had in the Bible.  Definitely something to think about.

Local Area Relations

That would be your neighbors.  Help them get informed about survival in general, if not your plans specifically.  If your neighbor has his own food supply, he won't be knocking on your door for a handout when the SHTF.  This is where it gets a little confusing.  If someone is doing a full combat assault on your house, hey lock and load, ready on the right, ready on the left, commence fire, not a real moral dilemma; but, if your neighbor, your beer drinking buddy, and his extended family are starving next door and you've got some food stashed back, but not really enough to hand out willy-nilly without endangering your own family, then what?  One possible solution would be to store a lot of extra bulk foods, (corn, beans and rice) to be able to share liberally, also within your group, if you hand out a meal, someone within the group fasts for that meal for a net loss of nothing, as long as no one fasts excessively.  Maybe a combination of both, even so keep an ultra low profile, maybe leave a bag of groceries on the front steps at night.  If the food is distributed openly, the person receiving it can hoe in the garden or chop some firewood to help out.  Help as much as possible within your neighborhood and community.  Try to form supporting groups of people that have diverse skills and knowledge. 

Job Security

If your job goes under due to societal issues, you will need an alternate career until everything gets back to normal.  Gather tools and supplies to accommodate a backup career.  Try to focus on something that 1) you know how to do and  2) will be in demand.  Some job where the work came to you rather than you going to the work would be desirable.  Something like a produce stand would be ideal or battery charging station, just a thought.

Bugging Out

Bugging out, aka leaving your home base, without a clear destination that is able to absorb you and your family, is just another way of saying: refugee.  Refugees are helpless and totally dependent upon the vagrancies of whatever group takes control of them, be it a government or an armed band of thugs; or both as happened during Katrina.  Forget bugging out to the forest with a .30-30 and a backpack; it won’t work.

Have a secure bugout location in mind before you leave.  Bring what you can: weapons, ammunition, food, medicine, seeds, tools, blankets, camping gear, pots and pans, functional clothing and footwear, candles, lighters, whiskey, kerosene lamps, Clorox, soap, detergent, towels, gasoline and kerosene (keep your vehicle gassed up).

Be prepared to take back roads as the interstate system might be shut down.  Travel with a group if possible and keep a well-armed presence.  Have actual paper maps; don’t depend on the GPS system being up and running.  Beware of roadblocks.  


Level III Scenario

I guess I really don't know what to say about this type of scenario.  Lock and load.  Pretty much like a super level II scene.  Sort of like the movie "The Postman" without the happy parts.  Who knows?


Do not be dismayed by the prospect of societal collapse; take precautions but don't freak out; it won't do any good anyway.  If I were to guess about the potential for a societal collapse, I would say probably a mild level II scenario with more inconvenience than danger.  The foregoing text dealt with a more severe level II with the premise that is would be better to be over prepared than under, "better a year too early than a day too late", as the saying goes.  Which is good advice, don't wait until it is too late to start preparing, it may be too late by then to get many items.  Get the bulk foods first and secure drinking water now, then start in on the other items.  Gather together with family and friends to prepare; plan on congregating together if it gets hairy.

At times this paper takes on a Christian evangelical bent.  I don't apologize for that.  If you aren't right with God, you need to get right.  All you have to do is realize that you need God in your life and ask Jesus into your heart.  Matthew 7:7-8 says:

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives; he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."

Self-sufficiency will give you a peace of mind regardless of the actuality of an emergency taking place.  You don't buy car insurance planning on getting into a wreck, but you buy it anyway for the peace of mind and the protection afforded in you do have an accident.  Use the same approach for “collapse insurance”.  You can probably do everything mentioned in this paper for the amount of money you spend on insurance in one year, and to a large extent, these are one time expenditures not re-occurring expenses.  Better safe than sorry.  But, put your trust in God.

This reminds me of a joke: A guy dies and goes to heaven and Saint Peter says:  "We have a point system to get into heaven, it takes a hundred points to get in the door, tell me about your life."  "Well", the guy says "I was a preacher for seventy years and led many hundreds of people to know Christ the Savior."  Saint Peter says "OK, that'll be 3 points."  The preacher says "I started a soup kitchen in my town and fed many homeless people every day with my own money."  "4 points" says the Saint.  By this time the preacher is getting a little nervous.  "Okay...I operated an orphanage in my home and kept dozens of children there for the last 40 years."  "Ummm, 3 points" says Saint Peter.  "Now wait a minute", explodes the preacher, "at this rate, the only way I'll get into heaven is by the Grace of God !"  "100 points!" says Peter throwing open the Pearly gates.

2 Timothy 4:7

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."

to be concluded later this week, with some appendices.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

(Continued from Part 1)

Level I Scenario

In these paragraphs, we will look at the areas of primary and secondary importance as they can be managed in a Level I scenario.


A person needs around two gallons per day for cooking and rudimentary cleaning.  For short term emergencies it may be possible to store up two weeks or more water, that much should be stored up anyway.  When you store water, treat it with iodine or Clorox or boil (iodine is better, boiling is best) and rotate water stores every six months, see level II instructions for disinfecting ratios.  Water can be recovered in the house from plumbing pipes, the back tank of the toilets, the hot water heater, and can be stored in water beds if the conditioner has never been used (treat and rotate).  Reserve the water bed, toilet tank and tub water for non-potable uses or distill before use.  Milk jugs don't make good long term storage devices, 2 liter coke bottles do.  Also, if you expect water shortages, clean the tubs thoroughly and fill them up.  Water has also been used from swimming pools.  If the water is shut off temporarily, you can flush the toilet by pouring a bucket of water directly into the bowl, use creek water or bath tub water.  Conserve water at every opportunity.


Keep two months worth of canned goods in your pantry.  Canned goods will last for at least a year, longer if you turn them over every couple months.  Rotate them on a last in, first out basis to keep the stash current.  Beware of canned goods that are bulging, smell bad or make a whooshing noise when you open them, if there is any doubt, feed them to the cat.  Just kidding, cat lovers  (the cat may be needed for extra protein)  Don't forget the can opener (non-electric, of course)  Have some way to cook: an outdoor grill with plenty of fuel, Sterno cans, fireplace, camp stoves with plenty of fuel; all the above; an outdoor campfire might work. 


A disaster may hit in the winter so have some way to heat your house if the power goes out for a while.  A fireplace, although grossly inefficient, will help, a kerosene heater costs about 150 dollars, or less, wood stoves are a good bet.  Never burn a charcoal fire inside.  Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning, use adequate ventilation, and don't catch the house on fire.  Make sure you have a couple of fire extinguishers rated for ABC type fires, keep the matches away from the kids.  Block off only the room you are trying to heat with blankets over openings not already covered with a door.   If you are depending on firewood, or whatever source of fuel, stock up well before the winter; firewood takes several months to dry out.  Have plenty of blankets or sleeping bags handy.  It would be advisable to install battery powered Carbon-monoxide monitors and extra smoke detectors, if you are heating or cooking indoors with open flame.

Physical Protection

Keep the doors secured at night; don't leave tools and firewood lying about in the open.  Avoid the cities if there is unrest; heighten driving awareness, lock the car doors and drive around crowds of people.

Spiritual Needs

Never miss an opportunity to get closer to God.  Pray for guidance before making decisions.  Try not to worry;  Matthew 6:34 

" not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Also, 1 Peter 5:9 

            "Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you."

Medical/Dental Needs

Keep current on medical issues.  Stock up on any medications you may require in case of any spot shortages in that area.  Build up a first aid kit, there is a fairly extensive one listed in Appendix A, of course speaking of appendix, with the kit listed below you could probably take one out.  Modify the kit downwards if you like to fit a Scenario I environment.  Don't forget a spare pair of glasses if you need them.  Wash your hands frequently to avoid sickness, purify your water religiously.

Financial/Legal Concerns

Make copies of all bank statements, insurance policies, retirement policies, IRAs, 401(k)s, anyplace you have money in an electronic format.  Keep a copy of your estimated Social Security benefits; this shows the amount of retirement benefits you are entitled to when you retire.  Talk to a financial advisor.  The stock market may take a dive but will probably recover.  It might be a wise move to have 3 or 4 weeks’ worth of cash at home, don't advertise, keep it in a well concealed fire-safe. 


Power, lighting, water, gas, and sewage.  In a Scenario I environment there might be random power outages lasting for a relatively short time, maybe a day or two, think of a good ice storm or tornado.  A generator might be in order, make sure you connect it to the system safely and isolate your house from the outside system to avoid cooking utility repairmen.  Talk to an electrician; there are several options on how to hook up a generator to your house, there's the correct way and there's the way everybody does it.  Store enough fuel for the noisy, hungry beast and use only those appliances that are necessary.  An alternative to electric lights are Kerosene lamps, use #1 or #2 Kerosene, three lamps burning 5 hours a night will go through about  2 -1/2 gallons of Kerosene in a month.  Calculate your fuel requirements accordingly.
Have some trash bags on hand in case there are temporary interruptions in trash pickup.  Water and sewage disposal were covered in the water section above.


It is nice to keep informed, as a bare minimum have an AM/FM radio with plenty of batteries.


Keep the gas tanks on your vehicles above half full at all times, (you and everybody will be lining up at the pumps so don't do it on the way to a party you’re already late for).

Level II Scenario

At this level, serious self-sufficiency plans have to be implemented.  The normal level of division of labor breaks down and purchasing everything you need at Kroger's, Home Depot and Wal-Mart might not be an option; therefore, you have to have supplies stockpiled ahead of time or have the ability to generate them yourself through home production or barter.  Nobody knows how bad it can get or how long such a situation could drag on, but it might be wise to plan for a slightly worst-case scenario and act accordingly.  A level II plan would preclude burning all your bridges, but would require some outlay of thought, money and time to prepare.  An extensive list of tools and supplies are laid out in Appendix A, more of a dream list than what one will be able to acquire, sort of like going through the Sears catalog saying "I want that... I want that..." , but it might give you some ideas.


Water is critical, of course.  Level I instructions apply in this scenario.  You can purify water by boiling it for one minute.  Also, by treating it with pure Clorox at the ratio of 8 drops per gallon if the water is clear or 16 drops per gallon if the water is cloudy, shake it up and let it sit for 30 minutes to allow time for the Clorox to kill all the microorganisms.  A 55 gallon drum would require about 1/5 cup of Clorox to purify for 6 months.  You can also purify water with 2% tincture of iodine in liquid form; add 20 drops per gallon of clear water, 40 drops per gallon for cloudy water, shake it up and let it sit for 30 minutes.  Don't accidentally drink any of the iodine straight, for example from the lip of the container, as it is a deadly poison; also, the iodine is suspended in alcohol, so if the alcohol evaporates, adjust the number of drops accordingly.  Don't use Betadine solution to purify water.  Probably the best way to purify water is to distill it using manufactured heat or solar power.  One easy way to construct a solar still is to build a 3' x 3' x (12" on one end, 18" on the other) waterproof box, paint the inside black with a non-toxic waterproof paint, or line with black plastic, and construct a roof of clear Plexiglas sloping to a trough or even a multi-faceted cover sloping to one point.  The box should be totally enclosed with no ventilation.  Pour dirty water into the box and let the sun work, collect the distilled water as it evaporates and runs down the Plexiglas cover; this method will yield about one quart per day so build accordingly.  Clean the box out occasionally.  Filters are an option, they are expensive and require filter element changes.  Filters might be manufactured from earth and/or sand products. 

Rainwater catchment systems seem promising.  The rain from the roof is diverted into a cistern or barrels.  The literature I've seen says metal or plastic roofs are OK for potable water systems, but not roofs with asphalt shingles; however, if the water is just used for flushing toilets or watering cats, go with the asphalt shingles.  If you do need to build a potable catchment system under an asphalt roof, it might be ok if you use a filter made out of sand to filter out trash, I believe the problem is in tar products from the shingles and possibly fiberglass.  You can cheaply construct a washer system by letting the raw water from the roof run into a five-gallon bucket with a large overflow outlet near the top of the bucket and a smaller (1/4") outlet at the bottom of the bucket.  When it rains, the water rushing off the roof fills the bucket before overflowing into the cistern thereby washing the roof of pollution and dirt before going into the cistern; the smaller tube at the bottom allows the water to drain out of the bucket before the next rain.  All in all, quite an elegant low-tech solution.  The system might be as simple as cutting off a gutter downspout and directing it into a 55-gallon drum.  A cistern can be built out of chicken wire wrapped around circle of re-bar stakes, then plastered over with a 3:1 sand: Portland cement mixture.  There's a little more than that to it but you can research it if you’re interested in that technology (i.e. I'm not sure what all is involved, I've just seen them in use in South America).

A well would be a nice thing to have, they are somewhat expensive and most pumps require electricity to operate, plan accordingly.  Solar powered, wind powered or hand powered pumps are a viable option.  Water conservation would be necessary.  Save water used for cleaning to strain and re-use.   Water used to cook vegetables or meat can be added to soups for extra nutrition and liquids.


Picture a grocery store when the weatherman gets done talking about an ice picture the same store where not only the bread, milk and eggs are gone, but everything is stripped down to include even the canned artichokes and Brussels sprouts; well maybe the Brussels sprouts will still be there.  The average grocery store only holds enough food supplies for three days; they depend on a steady stream of trucks re-stocking the shelves on a regular basis.  In addition to the two months supply of canned goods stored for a level I situation and the food in your 72 hour kit, store whole grains, pasta, rice (white not brown), beans, powdered milk, oil, spices, salt, and other items you may care for.  There is a more extensive list in Appendix A.  Whole grains store infinitely better than flour and preserve their nutrients much longer, the problem with grains is that they have to be converted to flour to make bread, this means a grinder; a good grinder can be purchased for around $250, or possibly they can be found at flea markets for $30 -$60, look for a grist mill.  The larger the grinding wheel, the faster they work, the smaller ones with a 1 1/2" wheel take a long time to make flour.  You can grind flour between two rocks or pound them with a heavy iron bar in a sturdy metal can if you have to.  Grains can also be soaked and boiled, roasted, sprouted or just gnawed on for as long as your teeth last.  The optimum lo-tech way to cook is with an old-fashioned wood fired cook stove, not really an economically viable option for most of us, so figure out what is needed to cook over a fireplace, build a wood fired grill/oven out of rocks and mud, and learn to cook over a campfire.  A Dutch oven is a great way to bake bread if it is the type that has a raised lip around the lid to hold coals on top and provide an oven like area inside the pot.  It probably wouldn't be a good idea to set up your outside kitchen out front by the street unless you have plenty to share. 

Foraging for wild game and plants might be an option, but it is better not to depend on it for your main source of food for several reasons: 1.) everybody will be doing it.  2.) When you are hunting, nobody is looking after the farm  3.) Game will become scarce(r).  4.) if you kill something, you have to get it back to the house carrying the unfortunate deceased critter with one hand whilst fending off poachers with the other.  5.) Wild game does not have enough fat on it to make a straight deer/rabbit diet feasible.  On the other hand, if a deer wanders across your yard early one morning and you are ready for it...venison for supper.  Also, you can have a box trap, or two, working for you all night while you are sleeping and have roast Raccoon for lunch the next day.  Leg holds, snares and Connibears also work.  Pay attention to wild plants for food also, get a field guide.  A pellet gun can harvest rabbits and squirrels around the house and is quiet and cheap to shoot, as well as being good practice.

Canning supplies will be a good thing to have in a survival environment, jars, lots-o-lids, pots big enough to sterilize jars in.  Food can be dehydrated, pickled in salt, or smoked in a homemade smokehouse.  The enemies of stored food are heat, oxygen and bugs.  To store grains and beans, get five gallon plastic buckets with new lids, put 1-2 inches of grain in the bottom of the bucket, put in a chunk of dry ice as big as your (4-6 oz.) hand then fill the rest of the way to the top of the bucket.  Set the lid on loosely and wait for 4-5 hours until the lid stops 'burping'.  As the dry ice evaporates, it displaces the oxygen, which cause food oxidation, and also kills the bug’s larvae by starving them of their oxygen.  The CO2 is heavier than the O2 and stays in the bucket.  Next seal the lid and store in a cool place, don't put it in an attic or hot garage, this will shorten the storage life.  Grains will store for 20+ years, beans for 8+ years, dried food for 6 months, solid Crisco stores longer than liquid oils (about 6 months for the liquid), Brown rice 6 months, flour for 6 months, pasta 2 years and powdered milk 18 months.

Just about any food storage plan is a temporary stop gap measure until food production can resume, this means seeds, non-hybrid so that the seeds can be used from year to year (if it goes on that long).   Garden tools will be required.  If livestock farming is envisioned, envision a fox in your chicken house if you don't have some chicken wire stashed back.  Fencing can keep a deer out of your garden if it is about 10 feet tall (maybe higher if the deer is a good jumper).  Seeds can be picked up cheaply after the end of the summer and would also make an excellent barter item.


More of the same as level I, Have a way to heat it.  If you envision a more serious situation, such as a level II disaster, plan on having a wood fired heater, even a homemade one fabricated from a 55-gallon drum.  Have a way to cut firewood; the best option is a chainsaw, with a spare or at least a bucksaw as a backup.  Keep an extra bar, 2 chains, spark plugs, points, file, plenty of gas and bar oil.  If you don't have oil to mix with the gas for a 2-cycle engine, 30-weight non-detergent oil can be substituted.  Also, 90-wt gear oil can be used as a bar oil; bar oil will be used just about as fast as the gasoline mixture, so get plenty.  Eye and ear protection is also a good thing to have.  Don't forget the splitting wedge.  Plastic sheeting will be handy to further insulate windows, stop leaks or build a small greenhouse. 

Most likely your shelter will be your present home, so figure on what you could do that would make it habitable without any outside utilities coming in.  Don't put all your eggs in one basket; bury (cache) a large portion of your supplies underground to avoid a massive loss due to fire or other calamity.  Research ways to protect goods buried underground with regards to waterproofing, location, security and availability. 

Physical Protection

Here's where it starts to get somewhat confusing.  As a Christian, I have rules to follow that are not of this world; but I have a family to protect also.  I don't believe that God would have me not protect them with every tool possible.  I can only pray for guidance on this issue and hope I do the right thing as God would will it.  A gun is a tool that can be used for good or evil.  Wars have been fought with weapons that resulted in ultimate good; WWII is the most striking example.  If Hitler had not been stopped, by American's carrying guns, he would have done much more damage than he did.  On the other hand, firearms in the hands of criminals have taken untold numbers of innocent lives.  Another analogy might be that Solomon was able to build the Temple in Jerusalem because his father, David, had secured peace in the Middle East through the might of his armies.  Yet, David had wanted to build the Temple himself but was stopped by God because his hands had been bloodied in war.  Most perplexing.

If you do decide to get a gun or guns, start with a pump shotgun in 12 or 20 gauge, a .22 rifle, a center-fire bolt action scoped rifle and maybe a center-fire pistol, in that order.  Get plenty of ammunition, especially .22 ammo, it's cheap.  With the grace of God, you'll only have to use them to harvest wild game.

A dog is an effective early warning system (cats are worthless).  Also, tin cans filled with pebbles strung up on wire.  If there is civil unrest in the area, get together with several families in order to provide for mutual protection, watches, garden help and spiritual support.  Pay attention to the area and the people moving through; try to establish a buffer zone around your house, like a fence.  Don't tell people what is your exact situation.  Don't appear obviously better fed or provisioned than the people around you.  In spite of all this direness, help people to the best of your ability, without compromising the safety of your family.

Spiritual Needs

Hold regular church services, "pray without ceasing" as the Apostle Paul would say, set up Bible study classes, organize Christian counseling in stress relief areas, set up a food bank and widows and orphans ministry.  James 1:27

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after widows and orphans in their distress..."

Observe the Sacraments.  The Methodist church observes three sacraments, the Communion, Baptism and the covered dish supper.  :-)

God's will is for you to help your neighbor.  When Jesus comes back, Matthew 25:37-40 says:

"Then the righteous will answer Him "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?"  The King will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.""

Jesus is coming back someday, or we will go to Him, and we will then have to give an account of our actions on earth.  We are not saved by good works, but do have to account for our works, good and bad.

God loves you and wants only what is best for you, as it says in the book of Romans (8:28):

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those that love Him."

If a collapse goes down this heavy, it will be somewhat scary, way out of our normal comfort zones, but if we put our hope in the Lord, we will never be disappointed.  He will take care of us to the ends of time.  Look at Psalms 118:5-6:

"In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and He answered by setting me free.  The Lord is with me, I will not be afraid."

At some point when you trust in the Lord for your well-being, you cease to be afraid because you know that no matter what happens, He will be with you to comfort and protect you.  Therefore, why be fearful.  I think it is OK to prepare for things such as famine, Joseph did, but don't put your faith in your own human preparations.  Look at Matthew 6:19-21:
            "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there will be your heart also."

Maybe you think you don't need the Lord or He couldn't love somebody like you, well, you're wrong.  You do and He can.  Trust Him.  Listen to this, think about what it means to you.  Matthew 7:24-26:

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock."

Build on the rock, not on the sand.  Jesus Christ is the rock; the things of the world are the sand.  Nobody is perfect; everybody has a past where he or she didn't live according to God's laws.  When you accept Jesus as your Savior, you may still be accountable to the world but as far as God is concerned, the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ covers all your sins and in His eyes you are pure and sinless.   Psalm 103:1-22

"Praise the Lord, O my soul; in all my inmost being, Praise His Holy name.  Praise the Lord, O my soul and forget not all His benefits.

He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases; He redeems my life from the pit and crowns me with love and compassion.

He satisfies my desires with good things, so that my youth is renewed like the eagle's.  The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.             
He has made known His ways to Moses, His deeds to the people of Israel.  The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.

He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower in the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord's love is with those who fear Him, and His righteousness with his children's children- with those who keep His covenant and remember to obey His precepts.
The Lord has established His kingdom in heaven and His kingdom rules over all.  Praise the Lord, you His angels, you mighty ones who do His bidding, who obey His word.  Praise the Lord, all His heavenly hosts, you His servants who do His will.  Praise the Lord, all His works everywhere in His dominion.             

Praise the Lord, O my soul.

The fear of the Lord is not the terror inspired by a tyrant, but the respect and awe a child holds for a beloved father, a father who has always been there, even when the child strayed and sinned, a father who has always loved the child; a child that will always love the father.

Psalm 91:2
"I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.""

Medical and Dental Concerns

The best thing you can do right now is to get physically fit by exercise and correct eating habits; this is a failing of mine.  Preventative medicine and proper hygiene will be important.  In a sustenance type environment, it is hard to stay clean, especially if water is in short supply.  You must however, purify drinking water and wash your hands to keep from getting sick.  Get two spare sets of glasses, if you need them.  As discussed earlier put together a first aid/medical kit sufficient to handle serious emergencies, 911 might not be working or paramedics might be overloaded.  Learn how to perform rudimentary medicine and gather medical, drug and nursing books now. 

Most drugs are still good after the expiration date (not Tetracycline- toss it when it expires, it cause kidney damage when old; also, aspirin when it smells like ascetic acid (sour, vinegary, smell like blue RTV sealant) is poisonous.  If a drug is far past the expiration date, you might have to up the dosage.  Understand, do not use this information in lieu of a real doctor, I'm not one and I don't play one on TV, this information is for emergency use only with no medical help available, I believe it to be correct.  Stock up on medication in advance, Aspirin, Tylenol, anti-biotic, painkillers (or alcohol), anti-diarrheal, etc etc.  See the list below. 

Financial and Legal Concerns 

Pretty much the same as Scenario I.  Perhaps more cash set aside and maybe some investments in gold and junk silver; junk silver is non-numismatic grade, pre-1964 solid silver coinage, useful for barter.  Junk silver is in small enough denominations to be reasonable when trading and also easily recognizable as what it is, a silver coin.  Keep a real low profile with the exact specifics of your preparations.  It won't be a secret from the criminal elements of our society that people are stockpiling cash and supplies.  There are those that are stockpiling only guns and ammunition.

With regards to barter, some things are easily tradable and typically in short supply during a crisis.  Clean water, coffee, batteries, candles, kerosene and lamps, lighters, candles, toilet paper, soap, stuff like that.  Keep some for trading purposes.   If somebody needs something you have set aside for trading purposes, but does not have anything to trade, give it to them anyway, don’t be a dweeb profiteer.  Don’t use societal collapse as an excuse to get rich; use barter goods to re-supply or obtain items you have not anticipated needing. 

To be continued…

Friday, August 30, 2013

The United States of America is a very resilient country; that is to say, the people of the United States are a very resilient people.  But, stuff happens and our current crop of politicians seems determined to drive us into the ground with their short-sighted and self-serving policies.  The purpose of this paper is to briefly identify some possible trouble spots, and suggest a few remedial type actions to help prepare for any adverse consequences of catastrophic failures induced by pin head politicians.  Most of the current problems we face have their origin firmly rooted in, and are fertilized by, Congressional manure.  Three possible incrementally severe degrees of problems will be postulated, Level I, II and III.  These are only suppositions, not prophesies.  Nobody knows what the future holds, anybody that says they do know, probably has more confidence than competence. 

My personal philosophy has always been to prepare as much as possible without burning any bridges.  If I've got some food put back and the world doesn’t end on schedule, oh well, I still plan on eating.  If there are a couple oil lamps decorating my fireplace mantle, no problem, the next ice storm won't knock me into the dark ages.  My intention is not to scare anyone; the future, while not certain, is not without hope.  However, a certain amount of preparation might be in order.  Feel free to use any or all of this information for your personal use, but make up your own mind about its validity. 

Introduction to the problem

The myriad of ways that the thin veneer of civilization can peel away are legion.  Our system could just grind to a halt under the crushing debt load we incur, or a foreign entity could disrupt our electronic house of silicon/sand suddenly with an EMP burst.  Our government could (further) trash the Constitution and take control of the populace, precipitating an internal civil war.  The food supply is vulnerable to plant diseases.  Our country is dependent upon foreign oil supplies.  The list goes on: fill in your own disaster here; the point being is that civilization is a fragile thing.  Witness the latest hurricanes: Katrina and Sandy, and the way they brought their local civilizations to a grinding halt.  They had the benefit of being so localized that the rest of the nation was able to extricate them from their difficulties.  What if the destruction were more nationwide?  Who would save us?  It will be up to us to save ourselves, and to help as many people as we can without endangering ourselves.  The family unit, and the extended family, will be the new civilization for a time.

Banking is necessary to facilitate the orderly transaction of business.  If the banks go down, businesses cannot purchase goods and services they need to operate, people can't get paid for services rendered, deliveries grind to a halt, people won't be able to deposit or cash checks, make withdrawals or get loans and mortgages.  89% of the money in existence is just digital zeroes and ones being transmitted hither and yon; if the electricity goes away the money goes away. 

Transportation, (planes, trains and trucking) is needed to move food out of production areas, deliver coal to fossil fuel fired electric plants, deliver petroleum products from the oil refineries, deliver raw materials to manufacturers, transport finished goods to the consumer, move people to business meetings, and provide mobility for national defense. 

Telecommunications ties everything together; factories depend on phone lines to transmit data between different aspects of the manufacturing process, banks transmit money transfers over phone lines and troubleshoot remote locations, phones are used to coordinate business operations, place and receive orders, control remote switches used in routing train traffic, transmit data over the internet, and a host over other uses, you get the picture. 

Utilities are completely dependent on electrical power; electricity is critical to doing just about everything in normal life.  Electrical system are tied together in massive regional grids that move power back and forth as needs vary in different parts of the network; while this grid system is cost effective and powerful, it exposes one part of the grid to other parts so that even if one section is functional it may be impacted by failure in another section.  Sewage control is heavily automated and at risk.  Water systems are the same.

International compliance also puts the USA at risk.  Banks routinely transfer money back and forth, the world economy is very much tied together and interdependent, border security will probably be degraded in a crisis of any magnitude.  Also, a USA focused on internal problems might encourage other nations that don't like us to become adventurous.

Potential Scenarios

For the purpose of this paper, let's discuss three potential magnitudes of scenarios that could occur.  Call them level I, level II and level III.  Again, I do not have a mandate from God to disseminate this information, I don't have any idea what the future will hold, so it's just me thinking out loud and you can make up your own mind about what to believe or disbelieve.  Pick your own scenario and plan, accordingly.

Scenario I

The XYZ problem is mostly minor and the whole country muddles along.  The country has a long, slow slide into an economic morass.  There are electrical brown outs in some areas lasting a day or two.  Some rioting in the usual urban areas is quickly quelled by police and National Guard troops.  There are some partial food shortages for a few days.  The stock market takes a dive and the banks have to stock some extra cash to accommodate nervous investors.  All in all, the situation is deadlocked at times, but mostly the economy has a sort of friction or resistance that slows everything down and adds greatly to the inefficiency of the typical bureaucracy.  The government attempts to manhandle the situation, but as usual, they only make the situation worse.  The usual Sheeple bleat on about allowing the government more powers to deal with the ‘emergency’.  Overall, the impact on the general population is pretty minimal, but has the potential to get worse.

Scenario II

The XYZ problem hits hard.  Electricity is out sporadically for weeks at a time.  Water isn't flowing out of the faucets because the pumps are down.  Many people get sick from drinking water that isn't properly disinfected.  The sewage treatment plants shut down and the toilets don't flush.  The cities freak out and it isn't safe to travel through them without a strong police or military presence.   Rioting breaks out over food and many stores are looted and burned until the National Guard is mobilized to restore order and secure safety for crews working round the clock to bring the electric plants back on line.  Curfews are declared in all major cities and suburbs.   Martial law is considered by the government.  The stock market drops to 5000 shares traded before it is closed for an indefinite holiday; banks are limiting transactions to 100 dollars per day; the country is in a major recession.  Trains carrying coal to the electrical plants have to be manually switched and given priority as are trains carrying grain out of the Midwest to distribution centers in the cities.  The outermost suburbs and rural areas are mostly safe except for break-ins and pilfering woodpiles and such crimes.  Food supplies are in somewhat short supply and getting gas, when it is available, meant waiting in long, tense lines.  Telephone service is sporadic.  Agricultural production is severely hampered as farmers struggled with fuel, seed and fertilizer shortages.  Barter is the preferred method of doing business and many companies go under.  The situation gradually gets better over a period of a year or two and, things return to some sense of normalcy.  There are residual losses of freedoms that are difficult to recover.

Scenario III

Picture yourself in the wild, wild west for a long, long time.

Areas to Consider

Some things are critical to have, some things are very important and some things are nice to have.  Of primary importance are water, food, shelter, physical protection and a relationship with God based on the sacrifice of Jesus.  Secondary needs are medical/dental care, financial/legal security, utilities (power, lighting and sanitation), communications, and transportation.  Of tertiary importance are education, recreation, government relations, local area relations, and job security.  Of course if you are sick, medical care can assume a more primary role or if you need to get out of Dodge in a hurry, the need for transportation can be elevated, but these three groupings of five items each will suffice for our discussion. 

Water is vulnerable to infrastructure debilitating problems.  We need water to live; a person can go for only three days without water.  Fortunately, water is fairly easy to procure and sterilize enough to be fit for human consumption.

Food is necessary for long term survival, but a person can live for up to 40 days without it, but not without discomfort.  Food is somewhat harder to find than water and requires usually more extensive preparation to make fit for consumption.  Food is fairly cheap, now, and stores well if certain types are chosen.

Shelter can be paramount, especially in cold or wet environments; hypothermia can kill a person in a matter of hours.  Shelter is easily constructed given a little time and knowledge.  A habitat needs to be dry, warm, and safe.

Physical protection, from animals and human predators, must be considered.  Problems might propitiate societal breakdowns involving the need to act in your own self-defense or in the defense of others.  These issues are somewhat troubling to consider.  Where do you draw the line between acting in defense of your family and in following the Word of God?  Some situations are quite clear cut, some are not.  Pray for guidance.

Spiritual fulfillment is really the most important item of all.  Not fulfillment in the sense of getting something from God, but in the absolute importance of you having a real relationship with the Almighty God through His son, Jesus Christ.  You can store beans, bullets and Band-Aids from now till the cows come home, but if your name is not written in the Lamb's Book of Life, so what?  The Bible says in Mark 8:36:
            "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?"

A real concern for me regarding societal collapse is that it will focus my mind and energy towards dealing with physical preparations, and away from thinking about God and what He would have me do; I am no longer “praying without ceasing” if I am overly concerned with worldly survival.  God is the focus of our lives; He will protect us and guide us if we ask Him to.

In areas slightly less critical, medical and dental care is also important.  In some cases professional medical care is the only thing that will suffice, in others the body will heal itself, that's the way God designed us.  Rudimentary medical care is easily learned, first aid and such.  Preventative medicine is important, some herbal remedies are historically tried and true; medicines can be stockpiled as well as medical instruments and supplies.

Financial and legal protection should be considered.  Possibly tears in the veneer of society will cause a major recession and cause the stock market to tumble.  Are all your eggs in one basket?  Is your business vulnerable?  Will there be banks runs for cash?  Will cash even suffice, not to mention electronic mediums of “money”?

Utilities are pretty important.  Picture an ice storm that stretches on for months.  You need the ability to light your home, generate heat, and dispose of waste and trash.  Electricity would be nice, even battery powered.

Communications can be important.  It might be helpful to listen to AM/FM broadcasts, short-wave, hams, police and fire scanners, and TV.  All these are readily available, able to be powered by batteries.

Transportation, in the personal sense, just getting around town, can be a good thing.  Cars,
Pick-up trucks, bicycles can be utilized to get mobile. 

On a third order of need might be things such as education.  How can you educate your children in a long drawn out scenario III situation?  Also, if you know how to purify water and your neighbor doesn't, how can you teach him or her?  Education is critical; the more you know how to do; the better off you will be if the system crashes.  Gather reference books on all manners of self-sufficiency subjects; study them and learn from others who already know how to do it.  Cross train yourself in several areas. 
Recreation can be a good thing; if you're driving cross country with 7 kids in a station wagon, a box of crayons and some coloring books might be a lifesaver.  How could we possibly survive without television, I mean, what's the point?   :o)

Government relations could also get important.  Those power grubbing rascals in Washington might use a societal crisis to declare martial law, they have the Executive Orders in place to do it and I certainly wouldn't put it past them to try (all for the good of the people, of course).  On the other hand the government might work to help people in dire straits without exacting their pound of flesh.  We'll see.  I don’t trust them.

Local relations might be the way you relate to your neighbors and community.  Help your neighbors out as much as possible but don't hang a free food sign out on your door unless you can feed a lot of people.  There will be ample opportunities to help, volunteer extra supplies, time and knowledge.  WWJD?

Job security may be an issue.  Consider how dependant is your job on things that might be adversely affected by societal troubles.  It might not be a bad idea to have an alternate method to make money, along with the necessary tools and supplies to work at it, just in case.

Preparations to think about and implement

Some rudimentary level of preparations would be in order even if there were no global collapse looming on the near horizon.  There are any number of events that can interrupt basic services: ice storms, nuclear accidents, tornadoes, hurricanes, chemical spills, terrorist attacks using biological, chemical or nuclear weapons, loss of income, the list goes on and on.  These are good valid reasons to be prepared for a short term emergency; most events like these have a duration of about 72 hours at most of being without relief services from the government, Red Cross or church groups. 

Again the most important thing you can do is to get right with God, trust Him and He will be your rock and your refuge in times of trouble.  Follow the Roman road to salvation:

Romans 3:23-24    "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified fully by His grace through the redemption that comes by Jesus Christ."

Romans 6:23    "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord."

Romans 5:8    "But God demonstrates His love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Romans 10:9-10,13    "...if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord", and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with  your mouth that you are saved, for "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord, will be saved."

God is in charge; the whole disaster thing might just be His way of getting our attention.  Only He knows what the plan is.  Trust in God; He loves you.

Be aware of your location.  What are the primary and secondary routes in and out of your town?   Would your house be astride a major exodus from the nearest city?  What kind of locks are on your doors?  Security system? Dog? etc etc etc.

Put together a 72 hour kit for each member of your family.  A 72 Hr kit has enough food, water and other essentials to keep a person solvent for about 3 days on the road or sitting in a shelter waiting out a disaster.

Have a fallback plan always, relatives in the country, a vacation home in the mountains, something like that.  Be aware that in times of National crisis, the government will probably move to limit travel and possibly even implement martial law.  If you are going to bug out to somewhere, do it earlier, rather than later.

To be Continued…

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

 Many of us that have been prepping since before the Internet have welcomed all the new information, knowledge, and interaction with our fellow preppers. But for someone who is just starting out, it can all be overwhelming. So overwhelming that they don’t know where to start. The sad part is that many of them don’t start. They feel that they have to  spend so much money at one time to get all the gear that the experts say they need, that they just can’t do it. This is in large part due to shows like Doomsday Preppers. While I watch these shows regularly, and enjoy them, they are, in my opinion, a two edged sward. They have made many people aware of the need to start preparing for _______(fill in the blank), but they also go so far beyond the basics (where we all started)  that they leave the new prepper with the wrong idea of how to start.
None of us started out with everything we needed. For some of us, we had no idea what we would need. We knew we had to prepare, maybe we had a vague idea what we were preparing for, and a kernel of a plan in the back of our minds. Before the Internet came along, we had to search through stacks of books and magazines for information. If we were lucky, we found a survival school nearby. We slowly built up our supplies, made a Bug Out bag, practiced our skills, and continued the search for information, gear, and more skills.
For those that are just beginning, I am glad you found this site. It will offer you many tips and suggestions. The gear, gadgets, and most of the advice have all been tested. The advertisers have all been vetted, so if you choose to purchase their products (and I hope you do as they help keep this site up and running) you can be assured that they will deliver on their promises.
I hope that with a few tips, the new prepper will continue to become prepared and will continue to seek knowledge to help them and their families become more self reliant. The tips and suggestions I offer are based on my own experience, I do NOT consider myself an expert. In fact I learn more each and every day. I have had to replace my bag a few times, often on a very limited budget. These suggestions have helped me through the years, that is why I offer them to you. These suggestions are for a bug out kit, not a bug in kit. (although it can be used for both)
By way of introduction, I am 44 years old and I have been prepping since I was in my teens. I took my first survival course at 16 in the Sierra Nevada mountains. I am a Nurse and an EMT, I have also been a volunteer fire fighter and a storm spotter. I have been through ice storms and tornadoes in Oklahoma, and earthquakes and forest fires in California.
When you pack your bug out kit, think of the five priorities you have; Water, Food, Heat, Shelter, and Security. Everything you need in your bag falls into one of these five categories. You need to try to have at least three days worth of supplies. Of course, if you can’t have that at first, remember that something is better than nothing.

  A source of water would be your first criteria for your bug out location. (I will talk a little about this later). The recommendation is one (1) gallon of water per person, per day. So you would need 3 gallons of water for your own use. That would be about 24 pounds (8 pounds per gallon, approximately). Since most people can not carry more than 50-60 pounds for more than a short time, I suggest carrying two liters and having a way to purify or filter the rest. (search You Tube for your best choices on how to do this)Two liters should last you through most of one day’s drinking requirements. I prefer to carry mine in military style canteens, with a military style canteen holder and canteen cups. An alternate method would be using 2 one liter bottles or a two liter bottle such as a clean soda bottle.

 In my bag I usually carry three MREs, three dehydrated meals I made myself, a few food bars, a jar of peanut butter, M&Ms, and several pieces of hard candy and gum. Hard candy can provide sustained energy by keeping your blood sugar up while burning more calories than normal, but can also keep your mouth moist when exerting yourself. If you carry canned food, which is heavier but easier to come by when first packing your kit, make sure to pack a can opener. Also make sure you pack eating utensils. You would be surprised at the number of people who forget these.
Remember to check your food often for expiration dates. I do this by setting my e-mail ca lender to send me reminders a few days before I go shopping at the beginning of each month. That way I can check everything and add it to my shopping list as needed. Anything about to expire gets eaten or donated so nothing goes to waste.
 Like me, many of you have watched the various survival shows and watched while they made a fire out of whatever is handy. Building a fire this way is a great skill to have. You may need it, and if nothing else it builds your confidence. But, as my first instructor told me “It’s easier to flick a Bic than rub a stick”. That’s the reason I never leave the house without a lighter and a pocket knife. Disposable lighters are easier to dry than matches, or even a Zippo lighter, if they become wet. I carry all three of these with me in my bag or on my person. The matches are in a water proof container (available at almost any sporting goods store) along with a small piece of sand paper, since I have found that “Strike anywhere” matches actually do NOT work everywhere.  You should also pack some type of tender in your bag. I have cotton balls, dryer lint, paper (from the note book I carry) and I always have a few business cards in my wallet and in my bag (most sales people and many other businesses will be more than glad to give you one or two). There are also commercial fire starting fuels out there like Trioxane. A small saw and hatchet are also part of your heat providing gear. There are many choices out there for these items, so do your research and choose the best ones for you.

In this category would be the clothes you wear and pack. You should have a sturdy pair of shoes or boots, at least two extra pair of socks, long pants ( I always pack jeans or military style BDUs) a long sleeve shirt (I pack either a work shirt like Dickie's brand or, again, BDUs) and a cap or hat that can shade your eyes and keep your head warm.
You should also have a good sleeping bag appropriate to your climate and season, and a small water and wind proof tent. I like to have a few hand warmers as well as a good pair of insulated gloves, and a pair of work gloves for handling wood, rocks, etc. My bag also has a military surplus folding shovel and carrier that hangs on it. This is used for digging a fire pit as well as sanitation and preparing a shelter area.
A roll of duct tape is also useful, both for securing and repairing your shelter. as well as repairing almost anything else. I also have a Multi-tool so I have small wire cutters, screw drivers, etc handy to help repair anything that breaks.
If you have never built a shelter, you can start learning on YouTube or similar site online. Once you have watched it done, practice you methods of choice until you have it down pat. It is never as easy as it looks.

When most people think of security in a SHTF scenario, they think of firearms. While I believe everyone should have a few of those and the training to use them properly, they are not the only form of security.
First aid is also a vital part of your security. Being able to treat wounds or illness is vital to being and staying alive. If you have never taken a first aid course, do so. They are available almost everywhere, and they are cheap or free. Most commercial $10 first aid kits come with a small first aid handbook. Study it. Once you have chosen a first aid kit appropriate to your level of training, check it often and replace anything that is expired, just as you do your food.  Many people have written about this topic, from lay people to doctors, so I will not go into it again. Search out these articles, essays, videos, and books, then practice the skills described in them.
Hygiene is also important. Staying clean is the first step in fighting disease. Having a place away from your shelter and water source to “do your business” is very important. You should have a bottle of hand sanitizer in your kit. I would recommend having a complete hygiene kit in your bag that has anti-bacterial soap along with a wash cloth and small towel. You can also pack shampoo, and deodorant in there if you choose. Make sure you have a toothbrush, tooth paste and dental floss in your hygiene kit, as well feminine hygiene products if you need them. The one thing a lot of preppers seem to forget is toilet paper. So pack that too. If you wear glasses, then get an extra pair and keep them in your Bug Out Bag in a hard case, as well as a repair kit for them. If you wear dentures, make sure you have your cleaning and care supplies in your bag.
For me, one of the most important security items I have is a Bible. The one in my G.O.O.D. bag is the same small Gideon one I was given when I joined the army. The New testament, with Psalms and Proverbs, has given me very good sense of security all of my life.

The next step is finding the place you will be bugging out to. As I mentioned, you will want a place with a good source of water. You also want to have a place (or places) that has good security, or that you can quickly make secure. Your site should be away from whatever disaster you are getting away from. And it’s location should never be shared with anyone outside your immediate family or group. When the excrement hits the oscillating device you don’t want everyone and their brother trying to show up at your retreat.

The most important piece of gear you have in the one above your neck and between your ears. I can not stress enough how important your mental attitude is. Having the right mindset is the most important skill in surviving any situation. Whether you are preparing for total societal collapse, or the more common natural disasters, you can not survive unless you want to survive.  Mental preparation is the most important preparation you will do. Think about the two or three most likely disasters, then prepare for them. After that you can go on to preparing for any other disaster you think may happen.
By finding the SurvivalBlog site and reading the notes, articles, and essays in it, you have already taken the first step. By thinking about and following through with making a BOB, you are on your way to being able to get through almost any disaster.
I personally invest at least an hour each day to my preps. This can be anything from reading magazines, blogs, or books (which I do every day) to cutting wood, to food preservation and storage, to learning a new skill or practicing one I learned already. I practice one of my bug out plans at least once each month, and my bug in plan at least twice a year. I also try to exercise at least three times a week. Sometimes that is walking, sometimes I combine exercise with other activities, such as cutting, splitting, or stacking wood. In colder months I use a tread mill and do calisthenics inside.
I hope this has helped at least a few people to become more self reliant. Remember that you can not count on anyone but your self to come to your aid in an emergency. Good Luck, Good Prepping, and God Bless.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Dear James,
Recently, a friend of mine just took his own life, leaving behind a wife and three young children.  He loved to talk about being prepared and would spend hours reading survival blog.  As far as “preparedness” goes, he seemed to be very prepared for TEOTWAWKI, having spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on guns, ammo, a bug out vehicle, all the medical and survival supplies you could think of, etc.  He also had military training, martial arts training, and was an excellent marksman, if anyone was prepared, he seemed to be ready.  However, in the end, he would take himself out, leaving his wife and three children, without a father, protector, or bread earner.  I believe that while he was so focused on preparing for TEOTWAWKI, that he forgot to take care of himself and his family.  I believe that instead of looking to God to be his protector and to take away his burdens, he looked to himself.  Disillusioned, he turned to alcohol and marijuana for comfort, which lead to marital problems, depression, anxiety, and ultimately he chose to take himself out, rather than face his problems.

Alcoholics have high rates of major depressive disorders, and the risk of suicide is 5 to 20 times higher.  Further, one out of every three suicides under the age of 35 is related to alcohol.  Alcohol works on the prefrontal cortex, inhibiting the areas of the brain related to self-control and judgment.   “Chronic alcohol misuse can cause psychotic type symptoms to develop, more so than with other drugs of abuse. Alcohol abuse has been shown to cause an 800% increased risk of psychotic disorders."

Marijuana is also associated with worsening of paranoid symptoms, with its effect on the pre-frontal cortex and amygdala.  Thus, those under its influence are more likely so see patterns that don’t exist leading to schizophrenic like paranoid symptoms.

My friend often would talk about his faith in God, but trying to work out his own problems and turning to substance abuse, he forgot some of the Bible promises like Isaiah 26:3 “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”  and Isaiah 54:17 “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper.”  Thus, in preparing for TEOTWAWKI, he neglected the most important preparation, that of learning to trust in God, who will be our ultimate source of protection and salvation. -  S.I.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Dear James:
It occurred to me while training kids on water safety, that some of the most basic elements of surviving everyday life are perhaps neglected by many of us while focusing on worst case scenarios.  We can be so wrapped up in getting through TEOTWAWKI that we neglect first surviving to TEOTWAWKI.

It doesn't do any good to be fully prepped for TEOTWAWKI if you, or a loved one, dies in the meantime from one of the statistically most likely causes of death - namely disease and accidents.

By the numbers, if you are younger an auto accident may be your biggest threat.  If you are older likely a debilitating disease that is dependent to a large extent on your health and wellness lifestyle choices.

To kick off the conversation:
• ROAD SAFETY::   Do you (and your kids) know how to swim well enough to survive an accidental immersion into cold, rough water?
• FIREARMS SAFETY:  Can you (and your kids) recite the 4 rules of firearms safety, backwards and forwards.  Do you insist your shooting buddies keep the same high standard?
• HEALTH:   Is your weight within 10% of ideal?
• Do you refrain from smoking?
• Have you minimized toxic foods in your diet (GMO corn and soy, aspartame, MSG, etc.)  
• Do you pay attention to taking in nutrient dense foods versus empty (or toxic) calories?
• Do you pay attention to keeping  your immune system strong through diet, exercise and nutritional supplementation?

The "bonus" here is that all of these mundane health and safety fundamentals needed to survive likely causes of death  pre-TEOTWAWKI,  would be even more critical post-TEOTWAWKI.

Just like in wars - and likely in many forms of disaster - it's not the actual conflict or disaster that kills but the accidents and disease that result from it.   Historically disease and starvation are bigger killers in wartime than is enemy fire.   In the first Gulf War, there were more US deaths from vehicle accidents than there were to enemy fire.

Regards, - OSOM

JWR Replies: Thanks for mentioning those important points and keying them to the ground truth of the statistical list of the most likely causes of death. It does indeed make sense to employ an actuarial perspective of the world.

It is noteworthy that "Violence" rates just 0.98% of deaths, but in the event of a widespread disaster, war, or revolt, that figure can quickly jump into double digits. And a similar jump for "Infectious and parasitic diseases" (normally 23.04%) and many other other listed lethal diseases--most notably diarrhea, which is normally 3.15%--in the event of a pandemic. Ditto for "Drowning", which is normally 0.67%, but that risk of course multiplies greatly in a flood or tsunami. (Does everyone in you family know how to swim?) These are a few of the reasons why SurvivalBlog is so popular: Wise people realize that the world around us can change very quickly, and we need to prepare for those events.

In looking at the list of most likely causes of death, which all start with two digits, one digit, or even with just a decimal point, most people skip by pondering the big number at the top, the only one with three digits--the one that reads: 100% (All causes.) To me, that is the truly sobering number. Let's face it: We are all going to die (barring the fulfillment Mark 13:26 in our lifetimes) and the human lifespan is pitifully short compared to that of a Sequoia tree. So to my mind the far larger questions are:

1.) Are you right with Christ, so that you are fully assured of your final destination? (There are just two, Heaven or Hell, where we will spend eternity.)
2.) Are you sharing the Gospel with your children, and others?
3.) What legacy are you passing on to future generations? How will you be remembered? Are you helping to improve the world, or just taking, using and abusing? Are you putting your descendants in a better position to survive, thrive, and live long and happy lives? Are you writing and publishing words and music (or creating art, architecture, films, software, or other lasting legacies) that are helpful, positive, and edifying or that are degenerate?Are you truthful, fair, and forthright in all of your public dealings?
4.) Are you raising children who are content, polite, and helpful, or are they foul-mouthed, grossly pierced, heavily tattooed, addicted, and lost?

I must also note that taking this long view of life can radically reduce your risk of suicide. (Which, according to the stats, is normally 1.53% of deaths.) Just last week I heard about the suicide of an anesthesiologist in the American Redoubt. Although he was an accomplished prepper and he made a very good living, he was not in Christian fellowship and had developed a drinking problem. His experience should be a warning to all of us.

It is not my intent to sound preachy, but that is where I stand. Think about it.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

I was recently sent a Bible, a waterproof Bible, for testing for SurvivalBlog. Okay, I have a shelf full of Bibles, I hold several ministerial degrees, including a Doctor Of Divinity Degree, so I use different Bibles for studying God's word - some versions are easier to understand that others - thus a shelf full of Bibles.
When a survival situation comes down, I can't think of anything more important to have, than having a faith in God, and being a Believer in Jesus Christ - it is a saving faith, and one that has gotten me and my family through a lot of hard times over the years. When I was working in some security positions, and as a police officer, I always kept a small New Testament in my pocket or patrol car - for down time - when I could relax a little bit, and catch-up on reading God's word. I believe you can have all the survival gear and weapons in the world, but if you don't have faith to cling to, the bad times will only be worse for you.
So, I opened the box that I received and just took a look at this Bible - nothing really unusual about it, other than it was a bit heavier than some and it said it was waterproof. Never heard of such a thing, to be honest. I received the English Standard Version, and it is one version I didn't have in my library. I only gleaned a little of it - no need to read the entire Bible.
As "luck" would have it, we had a weekend of monsoon rains, and we even lost power at our homestead for 9-hours. I opened the Bible and placed it on the patio table and figured the next morning, the Bible would be ruined. When we have some serious rains, we have SERIOUS rains. Next morning, I went out to check on the Bible and it was "wet" but not wet...I took a couple paper towels and wiped the Bible off, and it was good as new - indeed, it is 100% waterproof.
Being waterproof, also means that the pages are a bit tougher than most Bibles have - the very thin pages you can find on most Bibles. There was no bleeding through any of the pages when they were wet - and I can attest to how easily a wet Bible page can be to read, more than one of my Bibles have had water spilled on them in the past, and all but ruined them.
The waterproof Bible is the concept and fruition of - a young couple who's ministry it is, to spread the Gospel, and do it in a different way - by providing something a bit different to folks - a Bible that can stand-up to the elements. You need to include a waterproof Bible in your survival gear, especially if you live in a wet climate, like I do, and you may have to bug out. While a regular Bible will suffice, it will get damaged in short order. If you have the waterproof Bible, it will last you through all the elements, and give you comfort and reassurance in troubling times. I have my sample, so I hope you all will check out their web site and place an order for one of your own. They also have different translations besides the English Standard Version, so check out their web site, you'll be glad you did.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Consider the evidence:   

Preppers throughout the world sense a coming, apocalyptic event.  If you are a prepper, God’s warnings, in part, are already clearly formed in your heart:  “A prudent man foresees the evil, and hides himself [knows how to escape calamities]:  but the simple pass on, and are punished”--Proverbs 22:3.  [Words in brackets mine]  In the book of Hebrews, we read of perhaps the most famous prepper of all time:  “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith,” (Hebrews 11:7).  Notice, Noah was prepared because he feared [heeded] the Lord’s warnings:  the fact that we believe the scriptures is made evident in that they change the way we live our daily lives.  God warns that a time of trouble worse than anything ever before witnessed in human history will occur at the end of the age:  For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be (Matthew 24:21).

Preppers believe in storing food and ensuring access to clean water.  God advises us that the ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer (Proverbs 30:25). Like the ants, we must lay up a storehouse of food.  This is God’s way of preparing His people for difficult times.  [Notice, the political leaders of many nations lack the godly wisdom to prepare in this way; in fact, just the opposite is occurring (running up high debts and living on short-term inventories).].  In the Old Testament, God warns Joseph in a dream of a coming drought of seven years duration, counseling him to use the seven years of abundance that will precede the drought to store up food for the time of adversity.  Because Joseph follows God’s counsel, the people of Egypt are spared:  and the dearth was in all the lands, but in all the land of Egypt there was bread (Genesis 41:54).

Preppers believe that large cities are potential death traps.  God teaches us that the conies [field mice] are but a feeble folk, yet they make their houses in the rocks (Proverbs 30:26).  Like the mice, we must use every natural advantage at our disposal to secure our homes and protect our families.  Field mice are weak and timid; yet, they are safe in the rocks because they seek the protection that nature affords them.  In order to safeguard our families, we must develop a working knowledge of basic security practices, products, and systems.  If possible, we must seek the protection that nature affords for remoteness.  Obviously, in the event of any major catastrophe or societal breakdown, major cities will become harsh, unforgiving, merciless environments.    

Preppers believe that people are the greatest force multiplier.  God’s counsels that the locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands (Proverbs 30:27).  Like the locusts, we must form small groups of networked communities for mutual assistance, so as to magnify our strength.  Notice, the locusts all move in concert, yet they have no identified leader among them.  Christians are all under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, having the scriptures to guide them.  No one man rules over them:  rather, those mature men among them who have demonstrated wisdom and right conduct over time are to work together to care for and provide guidance to their local assemblies and communities.  We must move away from a culture of isolation (which is a perversion of the Lord’s congregation) and develop a corporate lifestyle and perspective.

Preppers believe in self-sufficiency.  God reminds us that the spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings' palaces (Proverbs 30:28).  Like the spider, we must be industrious.  Notice, the servants of influential men do not think spiders are fit to be found in palaces.  Yet, no matter how hard they work to kill them, they cannot get rid of them all—for the spider takes hold with its hands—working hard to prepare a place for itself.  If we are industrious to do all that God has commanded us to do to prepare [as simple acts of faith], He will sustain and comfort us in the day of adversity, preparing a table before us in the midst of our enemies when the time of trouble arises (Psalms 23:5).  

Unforeseen circumstances and difficulties are a given.  [It’s what you don’t see coming or anticipate that usually kills you.]  Without God’s divine intervention to make provision for and guide His people, we will not survive the time of trouble.  Proverbs 24:10 reads, If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.  While God counsels us to make natural preparations, it is only those who have been spiritually prepared before hand by the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit who will survive the day of battle.  Scripture is clear that securing God’s blessing during times of trouble will be dependent upon sound spiritual training and moral development:  we must both know and follow God’s counsel to receive His reward.  Here is an example of the practical instruction contained in the Bible:  

“If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?” (Proverbs 24:11-12).

It is the nature and character of God to seek after justice (Isaiah 58:6).  If we are able to aid those in mortal peril from unjust persecutions, we are to do so, especially if they are of the household of faith [Christians]:  for we cannot feign ignorance about their suffering and expect God to deliver us from our own afflictions (Galatians 6:10).  Rather, we are commanded to help:  in fact, our expectation for our own survival is dependent upon understanding this truth.  Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap (Galatians 6:7).     

The Bible contains the words of life and death, and it is only by studying its counsel that we can learn how to be guided moment-to-moment by the Spirit’s leading:  

“See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it,” (Deuteronomy 30:15-16).  

Of course, the greatest danger of the age is not simply death, but deception.  Before the Lord returns, there will be a great falling away from true faith in Christ [which we see even now in much of the traditional, American church system]:  for many churches are filled with false teachings, and their members lack godly fear [a respect for God and His wisdom].  Instead of warning the people, these churches preach the very message of peace and safety that Christ warned we would hear:  

“For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief,” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-4).  

It is the wisdom of God to prepare--and the best means of doing this is as a fully functioning, spiritually healthy fellowship of like-minded believers--for the local assembly is how the Lord encourages us in both peaceful and difficult times:
“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 [encouraging] one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day [of our Lord’s return] approaching,” (Hebrews 10:24-25).  [Bracketed words mine]

Notice, we were not created for isolated independence, but rather, a Spirit-led interdependence in which each member of an assembly plays a specified, pivotal role, according to their divine calling and function.  This cannot happen when we do not share our daily lives with one another, according to the apostolic pattern.  In the book of Acts (2:42-48), we read that believers in the early church continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, meeting both publicly and breaking bread from house to house.  

Simply, Christ’s doctrine is made known, not only by our teachings, but also our manner of living.  This is why Paul states [when writing to Timothy, his son in the faith]:  “Thou hast fully known my doctrine and manner of life ...” (2 Timothy 3:10).  When we depart from the apostolic pattern [which is for like-minded believers to develop close, spiritual friendships in their daily tasks and lives], we misrepresent what Christ died to achieve and raise up a false image of God in the earth.  Pointedly, church is not a holy place, but a holy people--and a means of relating to one another according to the commandments of God.  

This is why, while preparing for the rigors of the cross in the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ prayed for His present and future disciples with these words:  “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me,” (John 17:20-21).    
It is in our unity and love for one another that the greatest testimony of our faith is made known.  Cooperating to achieve practical goals requires a humility beyond that which is typically associated with the traditional church experience--for it is not always easy to keep collective commitments--or to share communal responsibilities.   

In the days ahead, our need to function as an extended family will only grow.  Just as the Captain of our salvation was made perfect through sufferings, so also will the church [the bride of Christ] be made without spot or blemish by her many persecutions (Ephesians 5:27; Hebrews 2:10).  The entire New Testament is written as a warning for us to prepare for the testing that will come at the end of the age.  Jesus said, “These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended [against God].  They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever skillet you will think that he doeth God service,” (John 16:2; Ephesians 5:25-27; Hebrews 2:10). [Words in brackets mine]

We are forewarned because we are not to live in fear, worrying about [real or imagined] evil things:    

"Do not say, 'A conspiracy,' Concerning all that this people call a conspiracy, Nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. The LORD of hosts, Him you shall hallow; Let Him be your fear, And let Him be your dread.

--Isaiah 8:12-13 [NKJV]

We are to fear God, not man.  

Consider Paul’s words to those in the church at Thessalonians:    

Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.

--2 Thessalonians 2:1-2                

The believers in this locality were wholly distracted, their minds shaken and hearts continually troubled by deceitful men claiming apostolic revelation [“nor by letter as from us”] in order to build personal acclaim.  Overcome by lies, the people were now in bondage [to fear]--believing that the time of great tribulation was upon them--and that they had missed the catching away [rapture] (2 Peter 2:19).  

Any distraction from our godly responsibilities is a dangerous thing:  and in the latter days, these deceptions will increase by a multitude and variety of means:    

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [of our Lord’s return] shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who oppose and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God,” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). [words in brackets mine]

Notice, the apostle warns that men will try to deceive believers into thinking that they can avoid the prophesied time of great trouble [for which cause, they will not be prepared].  In an age of apostasy, there are many deceptions to distract believers from focusing upon essential things.  

Paul specifies two conditions that must be satisfied before Christ returns and the time of great trouble ends:

  • A Falling Away:  the rise of the false bride of Christ, the apostate church, full of corruptions and every evil work.  As John the Baptist prepared the way for the coming of the Lord, so too will this growing deception and false form of Christianity groom people to believe the anti-christ’s lies and manipulations (Revelation 17:3-6; 18).
  • The Rise of the Man of Sin [anti-christ]:  when Jerusalem is surrounded by foreign invaders and the anti-christ stands in the holy place, pronouncing himself as god.  Notice, Matthew and Luke’s words:  “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh (Luke 21:20); when ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place ...” (Matthew 24:15).  If death has not taken us, we will physically see the revealing of the man of sin.   

Once we have accepted the fact that we have a pressing need to prepare, the enormity of the challenges facing us can sometimes lead to feeling overwhelmed, especially for those just entering the prepping lifestyle.  Through much prayer, God has given me 3 extraordinarily simple rules to follow that bring order to my efforts and peace to my mind:

  • Doing something is better than doing nothing
  • Simple beats complex [do what works for you]
  • Do first things first [what the Spirit first reveals]; and the rest of preparations will fall into place

Throughout the book of Isaiah, we find the same pattern:  entire chapters detailing the tremendous calamity and wide-spread ruin that will come upon those who have turned from the true worship of God:  and interspersed throughout, here and there, God’s repeated promise to deliver the faithful.

If you are not appointed to martyrdom (Revelation 6:9-11), and have been prepared before hand by the power of the Holy Spirit, you will prevail:  for “a prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished,” (Proverbs 22:3).  It is deception to lose our focus upon Christ and His warnings, wasting our time on non-essential things:  Jesus Christ is the true Ark--He alone has the power to grant men eternal life--and prepare them for the day of battle.   

As the following parable attests, all of our preparations [stored riches] will count as nothing if our faith and dependence is not foremost in and upon God: 

And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. - Luke 12:16-21

Sunday, April 14, 2013

In preparing for hard times, it has long been my belief that the first priority of Christian men and women must be preparing spiritually for the difficult road ahead. The church and culture of the United States have grown very soft, and, unlike our forefathers, most Christians in America today have little experience coping with hard times. We live in a culture that believes in having an insurance policy or material solution for any crisis that life brings our way. This applies down to the smallest personal tragedies, with only a handful of exceptions, and leaves us woefully underprepared to deal with physical tragedy in a way that is spiritually appropriate. In particular we have forgotten that, while relationship with God through the person of Jesus Christ is the defining factor in walking with God, there is a set of skills and best practices that build us up in spiritual discipline and prepares us to deal with loss and hard times. These disciplines are not some sort of mystical practices or vague spiritual concepts, rather they are like physical exercise. They are practical, how to, type skills that can aide any believer in maintaining a living and active faith; one which is also prepared to face adversity in a righteous manner. What follows will be rooted deeply in the process that God has taken me through over the last several years in stepping out of our materialistic culture and returning to true pursuit of Christ. I don't claim to have everything figured out, but I certainly hope that my experiences will be helpful to other brothers and sisters who are faced with the knowledge that collapse will hit our nation.

Lest anyone misunderstand, let me clarify, I am not saying that physical preparedness should not be practiced as some have said. It is my belief that God's people can best be the Church in the times ahead by being prepared not only to fulfill the basic requirement to protect their own families, but also by being prepared to care for others particularly widows, orphans, foreigners, and others who have less immediately available means of protection. This mandate to provide for those weaker than ourselves appears throughout scripture, particularly in the Old Testament and I believe implies the need to be strong enough to protect the oppressed from the oppressor. It is also prudent to have the means set aside to protect your family, which is a basic mandate of scripture. What I am saying instead, is that all the physical preparation in the world won't do you a lick of good if you aren't spiritually prepared to face what lies ahead. Just like having a tool and not knowing how to use it won't help you, having everything you need laid away and not being in a proper place before God won't help you either. Just imagine the consequences of having a full blown emotional break down post collapse, or the consequences of gradually allowing your beliefs to erode until you become part of the problem instead of part of the solution. Only through careful discipline now can you avert catastrophe later.

Before I begin to go through the various disciplines I have found to be helpful in making ready spiritually for the hard days that we are all most certainly going to face there are a few issues that I need to address. Bad doctrine in several vital areas has so infected the church that I feel the need to go ahead and address a couple of key areas that will definitely hold you back in spiritual preparedness. I suspect many preppers and survivalists are already unwound enough from our culture, but just in case I'll proceed.

1.Lay a firm foundation. It has become rather common in today's church to completely disregard the testimony of Scripture and of the Ancient Church. As an example, while I was taking upper level Bible classes in college, I had a professor ask the class whether or not denying the virgin birth was heretical. Now to be fair to the professor, he wasn't attacking the doctrine of the virgin birth and for the most part he was fairly good to protect the authority of scripture; but in a class room full of pre-ministry or pre-seminary students at one of the more conservative schools in the country, I was the only one who was willing to state that it was. You see, we have a truth problem in America today. No one is willing to stand up for the truth and call a lie a lie, even if they have to deny 3 of the 4 Gospels (you could argue all 4 gospels, but John is less explicit than the synoptics so I'll give them this one) and every Creed and teaching the Church Fathers ever gave us.

If you want to be prepared for hard times, then you have to be rooted firmly to a solid foundation. Your emotions and thoughts are very likely to be frayed and easily moved under the pressure and stress that a total collapse will put you under. Only the Word of God can maintain its consistency and authority during such times. I will talk more later on about disciplined study of the Word, but for now I'll keep my focus on accepting the truth about the Word. Make sure that bare minimum, you recognize that Scripture is the authoritative Word of God and that as such it is inerrant and a faithful witness of God's moral statutes and redemptive plan to save mankind. Furthermore I suggest reading through the Apostle's Creed and making sure that you are comfortable with the basic doctrines it contains. If you can't affirm both of these things you have 2 problems. First of all you are completely out of step with historical Christianity. Losing touch with the men and women who persevered at all costs during times far worse than any we will see, men and women who survived the rise and fall of many nations, will most certainly do you great harm at a time when you should be relating to them most. The even bigger problem though is that your faith will have no firm foundation. The post-modern Christian is blown back and forth by emotion and feel-good doctrine. Neither of these will survive the social upheaval caused by a full blown economic collapse.

2.Come unwrapped from the materialism of our culture. The Western Church has largely bought into the materialism that has permeated the Western culture for several decades now. Rather than Biblically taking a stand against the sinful focus on building physical wealth, we have instead begun to incorporate our desire for material wealth into our church teaching. The most blatant form of this is the so called "prosperity gospel", which has effectively turned the Creator of the universe into a Christianized Santa Claus who only ever wants to give "stuff" to people if they believe the right things, regardless of their actions or lifestyle. At the more subtle levels materialism has crept into the church through small compromises and changed priorities. The danger first of all is that we will so conform our beliefs about God to our own image that our church services will be about worshipping and glorifying ourselves and not the true God. The other danger though, in time of collapse, is 2 fold.

First of all, those who believe that God is looking out for all of their material needs no matter what (and the excesses of our modern culture make this easy to believe for a time) are less likely to feel the need to prepare. If you have friends or family who insistently refuse to prepare, it may be wise to question them further and see if this false teaching is affecting their mindset. The problem with this doctrine is that it ignores all Biblical references to suffering. "My God shall supply all your needs" -Philippians 4:19 sounds like it might support this belief system, but only if you ignore verses 10-13 where Paul talks about being content through suffering. This teaching pretty much follows this same pattern throughout scripture, cutting and pasting verses to fit in with its convenient belief system. It is particularly prone to ignore the more narrative stretches of the Old Testament where God's people often go through very hard times sometimes as a form of testing and growth, like Job; and sometimes as a consequence for their sin, such as the fall of both Samaria and Jerusalem. Scripture is clear that God does provide for His people, that He is a protector and a guide; but the Church does go through difficult and trying times, in fact Christ promised on multiple occasions that we would. The goal is not to be at ease in the world but to overcome the world through faith.

Secondly, those who have bought in to this teaching will be experience a major failure of their faith at the time when they need it most. By focusing on the material and not the spiritual, Christians are setting themselves up to be angry at God when their physical prosperity fails. I certainly believe that God provides for His people to glorify Himself, and I believe that the forewarning to prepare now is an excellent example of His provision. However, when we ignore God's allowance of His people to suffer as well, we erode our own ability to hold up under suffering. Recognizing that God is with us, even in suffering, is key to being able to hold up spiritually when you encounter a major set back.

Unwrapping from this belief system is not an easy process, for most of us we encountered it in some fashion from a very early age and have never lived in a time when tragedies beyond just the personal level were very common. To begin the unwrapping process refocus on God's person and not on His stuff. Learn to love God regardless of what He gives you, a good example to look to in this would be the church in the majority world. Believers in China, the Middle East, Africa, and a great many other places are suffering on a daily basis. Look to their example for a better perspective on suffering. Scripture and early church teaching will also give you a more clear worldview on suffering and hard times, which I will address when I talk in more detail about each.

Disciplined Study of the Word

The study of Scripture is simultaneously one of greatest sources of strength for a believer and one of the most neglected disciplines in the Western Church. Many in this country spend a great deal of time seeking the face of God for a still quiet answer to a question that is already spelled out clearly in the Word. If we are going to obey God, we must be familiar enough with His commands to obey them. For this reason, consistent time in the Word is the key.

An important starting point is to set aside a time and place to study each day. My personal experience has been that studying first thing in the morning has several benefits: 1. I am less likely to get caught up in other activities and forget to come back and study later. 2. I have found that I really need that quiet time in the Word each morning to properly prepare for my day. 3. I am more focused in the quiet hours of the morning that I am later in the day when there are more distractions. 4. I find it important to give God my attention first and foremost each morning. Now this doesn't mean that studying first thing in the morning is the only way, but it is for many people the best time to study, followed by an evening Bible study time with the family. In choosing a place to study I have only one helpful recommendation. Try to choose a place that will be quiet and unoccupied at the time of day you want to study, even if you have house guests. I have had my quiet times pretty easily interrupted in the past by failing to recognize that I was studying in a place that a visiting relative might need to sleep. Seeing as in a collapse situation you are likely to have many guests, think through a possible place where you can meet God alone even with guests in the house. I have found a decent little desk in the corner of a garage or barn to work well since they are both typically a bit crowded and dirty for guests. I suppose you could also choose some place that wasn't heated at night as no one wants to sleep in the cold. Finally, do not allow busyness or other pressing chores to interrupt your time of Bible study and prayer. The more important the things you have to do each day, the more important it is that you spend time with The Lord to ensure His presence with you as you go about them.

Personally I have found it best to study every day. There was a time when I didn't study on Sunday because I was going to church anyway. I found recently, however, that while you can maintain a habit that you don't practice everyday, it is much harder. Since this is such a vital area I don't want to risk even one day throwing my routine off. Your experience may be quite different, I am just pointing to what has worked for me personally.

There are numerous wonderful Bible reading plans out there, just make sure you are reading the whole Bible at least once per year. The Old Testament is very frequently neglected, much to the loss of the Church. First of all, God's plan for revealing to Himself to mankind didn't change from the Old Testament to the New Testament, it was just in different stages. As a result, only some of the commands given in the Old Testament are reiterated in the New Testament, what's more the New Testament assumes an Old Testament understanding of God's faithful dealings with His people and judgment for sin. When the Old Testament doesn't get read we miss out these things, of particular importance in hard times we miss out on the stories of God's repeated faithfulness towards those who followed after Him. I have found these stories to be deeply helpful each and every time I faced difficult times. While there is lots of suffering and hardship in the New Testament as well, the narratives tend to move much quicker and so we miss out on the deeply personal stories of the men and women of faith who have overcome hard times before us. No Christian who has read the OT consistently and honestly will be easy prey for the false doctrines of prosperity present in our nation today. We as a Church need to be able to relate to the giants on whose shoulders we stand if we want to persevere through the kind of things they persevered through. In maintaining this discipline I have been using the following reading plan and enjoying it more than any I have done before: I read 2 chapters from the OT, 1 Psalm or Proverb, 1 Chapter in the 4 Gospels, and 2 Chapters in the NT. In this way you will approximately read the whole OT in 1 year, Psalms and Proverbs twice each year, and the Gospels and NT 4 times per year or once every 90 days. I have found this helpful particularly because I find Psalms and Proverbs help me meditate more clearly on my other readings. I also think it is critical to keep the Gospel constantly before me if I intend to share it anytime that occasion arises and also in that reading about the life of Christ makes it easier to diligently seek to live like Christ. This reading plan also keeps me from getting bored when my OT readings are taking me through a book like Leviticus, which is a bit difficult to chew for Gentile readers. As I said there a numerous other reading plans out there that don't involve as much reading, but I have found I can get through this in about 20-30 minutes a day which I found to be about the right amount of time if I plan to devote and hour to Bible study and prayer each day.

One fortunate advantage we have today is in the area of Bible study resources. Thanks to the internet, many powerful tools are available absolutely free for use today. Particularly, there is lots of access to classical Christian teaching and commentary. Some examples of available resources are: Matthew Henry's Commentary, John Wesley's Commentary, Luther and Calvin's Commentary, Strong's Exhaustive Greek and Hebrew Concordances, Augustine and Chrystom's Commentaries, Eusebius's History of the Christian Church, the writings of Jonathan Edwards and many of the Puritan writers, and many more. One of the really nice things are applications like E-Sword (there is one called pocket-sword of iOs users as well) that are available free and can allow you to switch rather seamlessly from your reading to looking up a Greek word or consulting a decent commentary. I recommend not being totally dependent on electronic study tools, but these do represent a great free resource for the time being. It is also necessary to be careful not to substitute good teaching for Scripture, so don't get to carried away. These resources are best used to clarify difficult passages or to use as an additional study resource when you need advice from the Early Church Fathers, they aren't a replacement for the Word.

In your study of the Word a change in mindset from the Western church will be needed in order to truly grow in Christ. We have tended over the last several decades to tie maturity with knowledge, unfortunately without disciplined practice knowledge is dead. In the Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20, emphasis mine) Jesus commands His disciples to go out and make disciples teaching them to obey everything He has commanded. A disciple is obedient to the Word not just familiar with it. The process of careful study of the Word should involve very careful reflection to continue growing in obedience to the Word as you learn more of it. This process never really reaches a point of full completion since the Holy Spirit's transforming work in our lives is ongoing, but nevertheless it should be our goal to come into obedience to each new command we encounter. This should also involve pre-applying commands to situations you are likely to face both in good times and in bad. It will save you a great deal of pain and heartrending if you pre-determine the Biblical response to many "ethical dilemmas" you may face if we suffer socioeconomic collapse. There is nothing more comforting than having a clear command of Scripture stored up in your heart such that you can react quickly and confidently under distress. One good example of this is use of force. Depending on your walk in life you may have to weigh through the currently common doctrine of pacifism to determine if you would ever use lethal force against someone else; I personally think Scripture and Early Church teaching are clear on the right to defend oneself, and others; but you have to make up your own mind ahead of time. I have no intention of being the Holy Spirit for you. Even if pacifism isn't an issue for you, you need to carefully study through at which points using lethal force is justified and at which it isn't. Otherwise you could either endanger your family or others by acting to late, or damage your conscious by shedding innocent blood.This is just one example, there are numerous situations that the obedient Christian should be careful to apply Scripture to in advance.

The final important part of the Bible study process, and just to keep it real I'm mostly preaching to myself here, is regular family worship times (assuming of course you have a family). For a man and wife this may simply be continual Christ-centered conversations rooted in their own study of the word, but for those with children a nightly, or at least several nights a week, time of family devotions is key to maintaining the spiritual health of your family. In a time when you could be snatched away from your children by death at any moment, it is all the more important that you spiritually prepare them to seek Christ on their own. The older your children get the more your study with them will resemble your personal Bible study time, but in the meantime I strongly suggest Bible storying as it will help both you and your children. The goal, is to be able to recite important OT stories, Gospel parables, key teachings of Jesus and the apostles, as well as events from the Acts from memory in your own words. Line by line memorization should still be an important part of your personal Bible study time, but generally committing a particular version to memory in bulk is discouraging for most adults and children. Learning to recite stories is much easier and can just as easily be applied to obedience based solutions. Remember this is the primary way that Jesus taught people when He was on the earth. He used parables to convey important Spiritual truths. We can do the same so long as we are careful to teach age appropriate obedience steps at the end of each story. If your children are old enough to read then have them read along after you have recited the story together before you discuss it further, this will help them recognize the authoritative source of each story. You should also have them try to apply the story before you teach them an application so that they will learn obedience based discipleship. The benefit of storying like this is that the further you get with it, the more key Biblical events and lessons you and your children will have access to even if a Bible is not readily available. Spiritually providing in this way for both yourself and your children is critical in spiritually preparing for hard times. I will also add that these kinds of study and story times can also be included in your retreat groups time together as a way of mutually maintaining each other's faith. Also by worshipping together several nights a week, the person on watch duty will never miss more than one days worship gathering at a time (as opposed to missing the 1 Sunday worship time this week).

A Constant Life of Prayer

Another deep lack in most Western Christians is the lack of any kind of regular prayer life. We may pray over the occasional meal or when something goes badly wrong and we need help but in general we are a rather prayerless people. We have spent a good deal of time worrying about restoring prayer in our public schools (not by any means a bad goal) all the while failing to recognize that the greater danger is the lack of prayer in our homes. It is vital for the life of Faith to stay in constant communication and communion with God throughout your daily routine, and as this is a practice and requires time and experience it is key to your spiritual survival that you begin now rather than after the collapse begins. Let me talk first about the benefits of a deep prayer life.

1.Prayer helps us maintain a position of dependency on God. One of the first things we ought to do in prayer is confess our total dependence on God for our survival and well being. This represents an act of rebellion against our culture of material comfort and self reliance and a turn towards God for aid. I have found that while God is always willing to aid and shelter His people, He often responds quicker to those who already knew they needed Him before things went wrong. Once more, those who are not aware of their constant need for God will often miss His answers to their prayers. As I said before God is not some sort of Santa Clause whose sole desire is to go around granting wishes and giving out presents. Often He desires some sort of more meaningful development in our life spiritually rather than an immediate release from the dark circumstances around us. Only through disciplined regular prayer can we hear God's voice and sense His presence as He suffers alongside us rather than simply taking us out of the situation. This presence should be our greatest comfort in hard times, but it is easy to miss if you don't realize your dependence on God until after you are in trouble.

2.A solid prayer life will keep you focused on the big picture. God's goal throughout scripture is for His name to be glorified throughout the earth. After the fall of man God established His covenant with Abram (Gen 12:11-12) that "all families of the earth" would be blessed through Him. Throughout Genesis, Israel's history, and the prophets God continually reminded His people that they were to spread His glory and reputation to other nations. When Jesus came and brought salvation to mankind he reiterated this constant theme of scripture in His "Great Commission". Our focus in prayer ought to be on God's glory. This encompass both prayer for His church to overcome the world and for His Kingdom to expand to all "peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations". In constantly praying for God's Kingdom to come and for other peoples around the world it becomes easier to take our eyes off of our immediate situation and realize that God in His sovereignty is advancing His Kingdom no matter what appears to be happening around us. Many falls and rises of nations have in fact resulted in the growth of God's kingdom on earth. When Rome began falling to the then pagan "barbarian" peoples in other parts of Europe, Christian Romans became prisoners to the conquering peoples. There prisoners shared their Faith with their captors and gradually through a series of exchanges like this Europe became a vibrant Christian continent. One great personal example of this is that of St. Patrick who as young boy was kidnapped from his home in England and carried off to Ireland as a slave. He eventually escaped, but after truly turning to Christ; he felt called to go back to Ireland with the Gospel. The result was the incredible growth of the Irish church, which some have even gone so far as to say saved the Faith at that time. Having a Kingdom focus like this is of great encouragement when things around us are going badly because we don't know what God will do with the situation, but we do know that He is sovereign and will use all earthly events for His own glory.

3.Only in daily prayer can we maintain a position of repentance before God. In the struggle for Christian purity only a continual life of prayer helps us to maintain a repentant heart before God. We must daily confess our sins and failings to God and ask for His strength and purity in Christ Jesus if we want to overcome sin. When we fail to confess our need for God's forgiveness regularly we can quickly become calloused towards our sinful condition; sometimes to the point that we no longer recognize the need for repentance. This slow slide towards depravity is always dangerous to the Christian, but in difficult times it poses all the more danger. Maintaining purity and moral integrity while making important decisions about protecting and providing for your family and others is crucial to remaining part of the solution rather than becoming part of the family. Even a small root of dishonesty could easily lead to theft (an the possibility of someone shooting you for it) if the Holy Spirit is not allowed to deal with it in our lives. Even the slightest bit of sin in our lives grows over time, but without the additional check of legal ramifications and with more pressure on our shoulders to survive, this process can be accelerated to critical levels much more quickly. Only in striving for holiness day in and day out through prayer and faithful obedience to the Word of God can we avoid this slide.

4.The most important aspect of regular prayer life is the presence and voice of the Holy Spirit. As I said earlier, God often gives us Himself, in the form of the Holy Spirit, when we are in deep need. This fellowship with and leading of the Holy Spirit will help the Christian man or woman to pull through even the most difficult times without feeling abandoned or scorned by God. The life of prayer allows the Christian to remain in constant contact with the Holy Spirit and to be disciplined in recognizing His presence and hearing His voice. One word of warning here though, the Holy Spirit is easily grieved. If you are intentionally ignoring His conviction of your heart or a clear command of Scripture He is unlikely to have fellowship with you. As you seek to commune with Him, be sure to ask Him to point out any areas of sin or unbelief in your life; and when you repent pray like David "take not your Holy Spirit from me".

How then should we pray? Personally, I have found praying through the Lord's Prayer to be the best way to organize my daily prayer life. When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray I don't believe He was giving them some sort of magic password or formula prayer, rather he outlined the way in which a believer ought to pray:

Our Father, in heaven is a simultaneous confession of our familial relationship with God through the blood of Jesus and a confession of His sovereign kingship (the Children of Israel consistently used the term 'our father' in reference to the king). We are to begin our prayers this way in order to confess that God is sovereign over all things and to establish our ability to come before His throne through the blood of Jesus Christ.This confession puts our hearts in the right attitude before the King of the Universe.

Sanctify your name. I translated this sanctify here because it is a better translation than the more recent "Holy is your name" the KJV got this one right with "Hallowed be" but many people don't recognize the difference between the two. Christ is praying, and teaching us to pray, that God would Himself maintain the holiness of His name. This should be seen as distinct from a simple confession that God's name is Holy. We are to ask God that He set His name apart and cause it to be glorified to the ends of the earth. This aligns our heart and focus on God's heart and focus, namely His own glory and reputation in the earth. The prayer that God would sanctify His name is a prayer that He would purify His church, the representatives of His name on earth, both in us and the body around the world; and that He would expand His church. During this time I tend to focus heavily on the desire for purity in myself and the Church as in our day in age the church bears the most responsibility for slanderous accusations brought against God's name.

Your Kingdom come then follows logically as we continue to pray for the advance of God's Kingdom. This is the point at which your prayer life should be focused Mission around the world. Incorporate prayer for missionaries you support and for specific unreached people's each day during this time. In doing so we are aligning ourselves with God's global purpose and becoming more removed from our own immediate situation and needs. Most importantly though, as the advance of God's Kingdom to every tribe, tongue, and nation is central to God's heart, we are learning to love the things our Father loves and to walk in obedience to His plans and will. We cannot really know God unless we begin to care about the things He cares about.

In praying Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven we are again aligning ourselves with God's will both as we seek to live in obedience to His Word and as we seek His will for the situations that are most immediately impacting our lives. This is a good point to focus on making sure that we know the will of God for us. A time of quiet reflection on Biblical truths as well as silent listening for the still small voice of the Holy Spirit is appropriate at this point. It doesn't have to be at this point, but our prayer time should always allow some quiet time for God to speak, rather than being filled only with our own words.

Give us this day our daily bread is a confession of God's provision for us, an admission that He is our provider no matter what it is that we think we have done for ourselves. In addition it is at this point that we should begin to ask God to assist us with material needs. Only after we have meticulously prayed for God's glory and Kingdom to advance our we ready to ask for our material needs to be met without being self-centered and materialistic.It is important that we go through the process of deliberately focusing on higher things before returning to our own material needs.

And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one should lead us into a time of meditational repentance. Obviously we should never begin our prayer time without confessing hidden sin first, but at this point we should carefully meditate through our actions to seek out any area of unrepentance in our hearts. We have to daily let the Holy Spirit search out our hearts for any sins which even we ourselves may have not fully thought through. Be especially careful of strongholds in the mind which are often more subtle and easily forgotten. Even when I don't feel the need to repent of any particular sin I repent daily anyway, confessing that I am a sinful broken man and have only become who I am because of the grace of God through Christ Jesus. At this time also weigh through any offenses you have received and meticulously forgive anyone who has wronged you. A root of unforgiveness can be destructive and toxic in all of your relationships, but particularly if someone under your own roof (your spouse, parent, retreat group member etc.) has wounded you, unforgiveness can deeply grieve everyone around you. Even worse, unforgiveness can blind you to other sin in your life and keep you from hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit, neither of which should the Christian ever desire and both of which are even more destructive in very difficult times. Finally, we need to be diligently praying for deliverance from temptation. Be it areas of habitual sin that we are struggling against all to often or situations that arise that test are character, we need God's grace to go before us and give us the strength to walk in holiness. I can't emphasize this area of holiness enough, only if God's people begin to keep His commandments, both in walking holy and upright lives and in dedicating themselves to the advance of His Kingdom, will we ever see God begin to restore this nation and its people.

For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Finally we close with another confession of God's greatness and glory. At this point I also think it is important to confess your dependence on God for the whole day and to invite the Holy Spirit to go with you when you leave your place of prayer and spend the day with you. This presence of God in our lives on a daily basis cannot be substituted for anything else in our lives.

Some final notes on maintaining a prayer life. I have found it to be very helpful to pray out loud instead of quietly to myself. This doesn't mean don't pray quietly to yourself, but praying out loud helps me to focus on God and on my communication and communion with Him rather than getting distracted with my own thoughts. I would add to my list of criteria for a good place of prayer and study that somewhere you can pray out loud without waking others is very helpful. I would also add that when you are seeking to hear God's voice two things can be very helpful. First, I find that some worship music playing in the back ground or else starting off my time of prayer by singing and old hymn (the old hymns are much easier to memorize and sing by yourself than most modern worship music) can be very helpful in focusing on God and hearing His voice. Secondly, make sure you are leaving plenty of quiet times in your day when God can speak. If every quiet moment you have is crammed full of music or activity it can be much easier to miss the voice of the Holy Spirit because of all the noise.

Find a Church

Another often neglected need in the life of the Christian is that of a church body. In this day and age of church shopping and hopping, and at a time when many Christians simply don't attend church or tune in to various well no preacher personalities online or on television, the whole concept of Church has been very much distorted. This issue is further complicated by the fact that many of our modern American churches are incapable of fulfilling many of the most basic responsibilities of the Church as ordained by Jesus Christ. Let me begin by making the case for Christians to be a integral part of a church.

For me, Hebrews 10:24-25 (NKJV) settles this issue pretty clearly "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching". Particularly so, since assembling together is mentioned explicitly as is stirring one another on towards love and good works, neither of which can be accomplished out of fellowship. Even more clear though are the metaphors used in Scripture to describe the Church. 1 Corinthians 12 for example describes the Church as the "body of Christ" and refers to each member as a part of the body. It doesn't take much thought to realize that an eye or a heart or even a brain cannot survive if it is separated from the rest of the body for very long. 1 Peter 2:5 uses the term "living stones" and "spiritual house" another reference that occurs frequently. In this case it should be clear that a stone apart from other stones cannot be a "spiritual house". I don't really intend to treat this issue in great detail, as others have done so before me, but I did feel like I needed to summarize the Biblical case for being in fellowship. We need to be very cautious to remain in close fellowship with other believers, this is particularly true in difficult times as we will need the Church to function as it ought to in our lives.

The other complicating factor in this part of our discussion is that many American churches today fail to fulfill the basic scriptural definition of a scripture. I am not necessarily saying that if you are part of one of these bodies that you have to pull out, but you do need to recognize that you have unmet Biblical needs that you will have to meet though a body more similar to a New Testament Church. The problem begins with the fact that we have defined a church as a building where people meet together, when in fact the church is an assembly of God's people meeting together for mutual support. An assembly such as this can meet in a home, under a tree, in a multi-million dollar building, or anywhere else that God's children choose to assemble. We should instead begin identifying churches based on their fulfillment of the Biblically prescribed Church.

Functions of a Biblical Church:
Spiritual authority over the life of the believer. Hebrews 13:17 (NKJV) "Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you" The Biblical church is in a position of authority in the life of the believer. This authority is for protection and accountability. Church pastors are consistently described throughout the NT and early Church history using a shepherding metaphor. This refers to their responsibility to both provide daily care such as food and water to their "sheep" as well as to protect the sheep from the attacks of wolves and other predators. As such a good church must not only be in a position to give you instruction in sound doctrine but you should also know and be known well enough by your church leadership that they can correct you from errors of sin or bad doctrine. To be honest folks, this is pretty hard to accomplish in a large church. That doesn't mean it can't be, but it will have to be done differently. If you are attending a church to large for this function to be met then you will need to be part of smaller group within that body, specifically organized for this purpose. Such accountability and protection will be vital for you as are forced to make extremely difficult choices on a day to day basis in a post-collapse situation. Having a solid body of believers and spiritual authority over you will make these decisions much easier to handle. This issue of authority is the real key in determining whether a body is just a "small group" or a church. Any group of believers is able to form a home fellowship together, so long as they are willing to take on the spiritual responsibility for one another.

A true church does ministry together. Heb 10:25 (as quoted above) describes the process of "stirring on another on towards love and good deeds", a theme often repeated in various forms throughout the NT. For His part, Jesus always did ministry in concert with a group of 12, or in cases of even deeper teaching 3 men. This meant that there were always those who were watching His actions carefully to learn from them and emulate them. Each member of the body of Christ has unique abilities and experiences, but, unfortunately, when we primarily practice ministry by ourselves (or not at all) we fail to learn from each other. A Church should be doing life together in such a way that ministry flows naturally though each member in concert with the others. A true Church cannot simply not do ministry, the call to every disciple of Jesus Christ is to "make disciples of all nations". This cannot be accomplished by being silent and attending church every Sunday. Rather it must be perpetually acted upon by believers working together in their community and around the world. The true church is always missional, if it is not then it is in error. Part of being part of a church then means being part of a missional community intentionally doing life and ministry together locally and globally.

As you can see, both of these key responsibilities of the Church are very serious matters.You should be very careful whose authority you place yourself under. Pray very carefully about choosing a local body to be a part of, but once you have chosen one you need to commit fully. These responsibilities will not be met in your life if you are simply a church attender.

The Church in hard times

I have reason to believe, based upon study of the Church around the world today, that there are only 2 types of churches that will really survive in hard times, these are the community church and the home church.

When I talk about the community church I want to be careful because the word gets tossed around too much to be clear. What I am referring to is a relatively small, probably rural body of believers who meet in a traditional church structure that is placed reasonably close within their community. While there is certainly nothing wrong with making the drive to a good church in normal times, in very difficult times (even a grid up depression, in all likelihood) this will simply not be possible. A community church is attended primarily by people who already know one another very well in their local community and are generally friends and neighbors. These churches, much like the colonial American church, will be the anchors of their communities in hard times and as the closest public structure will likely double for use for any major public functions such as town meetings, militia assembly points, etc. The reasons I think community churches will survive when others probably won't are these: 1. As I mentioned before only churches whose attendees have easy access (on foot even) to their church will likely be able to continue to attend in difficult times. 2. Local community will be more crucial than ever in the times ahead, the community church is a part of that community rather than foreign to it. Its sphere of influence is extremely local rather than attempting to influence the entirety of the metropolitan area it occupies. 3. The ability of small community churches to meet the basic requirements of a church, as mentioned above, will be come much more clear in hard times when believers desperately need one another. 4. As a collection of friends and neighbors community church bodies are interacting with one another on a day to day basis regardless of the day of the week or meeting together in a church building, this will allow these churches to maintain accountability and fellowship regardless of how bad things get. 5. It is unlikely that even 1 full time minister will be able to be supported during difficult times, the pastor of a local congregation is more likely to find another way to support his livelihood while continuing to serve his community that the large staff of a large urban body. Even more critically his responsibility to a small congregation whom he knows well is more likely to motivate him to do so rather than to leave the ministry and look after his own. A more faceless large church made up of of commuters is less likely to provide such incentive for its staff members. Since community churches are still relatively easy to find I won't make any suggestions on how to start one, particularly since that would be a difficult prospect in difficult times. If you cannot find a satisfactory community church within close proximity to you, then a home church would be much easier to start.

Here in the United States we have very little concept for the oldest and most common type of Church on earth today, the home church. All over the world today, particularly in nations where the Church faces strong persecution from either the government or the culture at large, churches are meeting in homes, in store-fronts, under trees, and in all kinds of other common local locations that don't require a special structure. While this structure has numerous significant advantages even in good times, such as its rapid ability to multiply and ability to channel funds straight to ministry since it has little or no overhead cost, it is even more advantageous in difficult times when access to traditional structures may be difficult and dangerous. A quick read through the New Testament, I believe, gives us cause to recognize both of the these forms of churches as Biblical. We see in some cases believers meeting within the existing synagogue structures, but in many cases they met in the homes of believers, such as Aquila and Priscilla (1 Cor 16:19).

The reasons for my belief in the strength of home churches in troubled times are as follows: 1. Reduced need for professional clergy, as I will address in the next section a home church can be organized with out a professional minister. This reduces the possibility of a home church being closed due to the death of its shepherd as well as decreasing the need for one individual to remain relatively unentangled with day to day work in order to better shepherd the church. 2. Because they can be subdivided easily if they grow to large, a home church can be easily located within walking distance of all of its attendees. Depending on the size of your retreat group, you may form your own home church within your community alone. The decreased travel for all the members of the church protects them from dangers along the road as well as decreasing the likelihood that some sort of difficulty (such as bad weather will keep them from attending. 3. The small size of a home church makes it very intimate within its community, the members of a home body are likely to have constant interaction with one another each and every day, fulfilling their role to be the church each and every day. Perhaps you can think of even more reasons than these for the home church or community church to persevere in difficult times, but I think I have adequately summarized the principle benefits of each.

Before I move on I would like to address the structure of the home church. The 2 biggest differences in a home church are, fairly obviously, the lack of a formal structure to meet in and the lack of professional clergy. This leads to some fairly significant differences in the way a home church functions as opposed to a community church, which typically has a formally educated, salaried full time pastor. For one thing, as I mentioned above it is easier to subdivide a a home church into 2 separate bodies once it has grown beyond easily maintainable bounds. What is less obvious is that this is often necessary sooner in the case of a home church. The order of service in a home church is typically set by the members themselves, but the time in the Word is most frequently an obedience based, participative Bible study as opposed to a sermon with one individual preaching. Typically one member will be responsible to prepare for and guide the discussion, sometimes this rotates on a weekly basis or sometimes there is a lay pastor who maintains general responsibility for the direction of the times of teaching. When the church gathers together each member contributes heavily to the discussion times with a particular focus on practical obedience to the Word of God. This means that all of the members will discuss each week their success in being obedient to the Word of God revealed the week before, as well as a thorough discussion of the passage being discussed on that particular day. This places a rather natural limitation on the size of the body, while the maximum size of each home church is likely to vary based on its members it will not be able to grow past the point at which this kind of discussion can take place. In a time of collapse this limitation will be even more distinct since travel will be limited as well; once the church has grown beyond easy accessibility for its most distant members it will be time to begin the process of creating a second church. Potential leaders of home churches should not be intimidated by their own lack of education or formal training, rather use the resources you have and emphasize simple obedience to the Word of God. As your church grows in obedience together, the depth of teaching will naturally grow with it.

Some Miscellaneous Disciplines

1. Focus on the Kingdom of God. As I mentioned on the section on prayer, focusing on the advance of God's Kingdom, frequently called mission, is one of the key aspects necessary in the life of the prepared Christian. As a church, we in the West have largely lost focus on why we were called together in the first place. The church's primary function is the advance of the Kingdom of God to every tribe, tongue, and nation (if your struggling with this one you can do more research on the Biblical basis of mission or read "Unveiled at Last" by Bob Sjogren). When we lose sight of this it becomes easier to slip into a relationship with God that is primarily focused on what we can get from God, and even worse it causes us to enter into disobedience to many of the commands of scripture. All Christians are called to Mission, the issue is simply a matter of what role we are to play. Some are called to remain home and support those who have been sent to the nations, some are called to work with unreached peoples in there home countries (the U.S. for example has millions of members of completely unreached people groups at its universities and in its immigrant communities, in addition to a number of unreached American Indian tribes), still others are called to build up others to go; there are many, many roles for the people of God as they seek to obey His command to carry the Gospel to the nations. The key is to find the role God has prepared for you. One role I would like to suggest for the Christ following prepper is the role of protecting those who have given up life in their home nation to take the Gospel to the world. My experience in the mission community has lead me to believe that many mission agencies will recall their people at the onset of an economic collapse or other similar disaster. Many missionary families will return home with only a few suitcases, possibly only what they were allowed to carry on the plane, into a rapidly deteriorating situation. In addition to ongoing support, one area a prepper might seek to serve in this area would be able to plan logistics out in connection with these returning families to provide a safe retreat for them to return to and a way to reach it. Find your role in the Great Commission, total collapse won't stop the sovereign God from advancing His Kingdom, don't let it stop you from advancing His Kingdom either.

2. Feed your heart and mind appropriately. In addition to a consistent routine of daily Scripture reading and prayer, I would suggest implementing a plan to replace much of your television watching (if you still have one) with reading. Books, particularly good books, are often much more nurturing to your spirit and encouraging than movies. All societies are built around myths and legends, for the simple reason that these stories connect people to important human sentiments and underlying beliefs. Find high quality works, fictitious or not that will encourage and uplift you in difficult times. The genre you choose will likely reflect your personality but I like the science fiction and fantasy works of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Stephen R. Lawhead, and Ted Dekker as well as the non-fiction Christian works of C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer among others. Classic literature and Christian teaching are also very encouraging and will help you to maintain focus during the most difficult times, I have a daily routine that involves listening to audio recordings of sermons by men like John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards as well. Incorporating all of this reading into my routine has helped me to bring in truth through various avenues and keep me from losing heart or focus when life seemed over whelming.

3. Walk a more ancient path. The modern church has largely lost touch with its own historical roots. We think somehow that we have become to modern and sophisticated for the witness handed down since the time of the apostles. In order to regain the more ancient path, we must do 2 things: 1. Relearn to engage life from a more mystical point of view. The ancient church was much more concerned with truth than with scientific fact, they didn't feel the need to have an explanation for every single item they believed. We, as Christians, need to relearn how to have faith in things we don't understand. The God of the universe is much larger and more awesome than anything we can possibly imagine, even creation is often more complex and vast than we can really get our heads around. It will be better for us going into the future to simply embrace the mystery and show proper awe and respect to our maker. Those with experience farming are probably most aware of this, while we have tried to scientifically explain every single factor in the growth of plants and animals, everyday those explanations get defied by some new factor that had not yet been accounted for. In order to be truly sustainable our only choice is to accept that certain rules must be followed, even if we don't know why they exist. This same type of embrace is necessary in all of life, we need to recognize that each new sunrise is a miraculous event opening the door to still more miraculous events. I'm not suggesting we abandon science and reason or cease all logical inquiry, but what we should do is recognize that they have their limitations and that there is a great deal of mystery they will never explain. 2. Spend time with ancient fathers. Perhaps the largest reason we are out of touch with historical Christianity is because we have ceased historical inquiry. With so many of the oldest resources now available for free download from sites like Project Gutenberg, there is really no excuses for this. I suggest a comprehensive study going back to the very beginning and working forward through the time of the reformation, followed by a study of the Puritan fathers who largely lead to the founding of this nation. The best starter resource, in my opinion, is Eusebius's "History of the Christian Church" (often called by other titles as well such as "Church History" or "Ecclesiastical History") as it is the oldest known compilation of Ancient Church history and makes reference to the names and works of many of the oldest Christian documents. After that the list is goes on and on but at bear minimum it is good to have read some of: Augustine, Luther, Calvin, John Wesley, Jeremy Taylor, and Jonathan Edwards. Not that this is by any means an exhaustive list, view it as more of a starting point. I also recommend finding decent biographies of William Carey, J. Hudson Taylor, and as many other high quality missionary biographies as you can find. Spending time with all of these sources will begin to reconnect you to the ancient beliefs and practices of the Christian church, perhaps there are some areas that we really are serving the modern world in a new and more relevant way, but it will be awfully hard to tell if we don't know our own history well enough to know progress when we see it.

4. Become a bard. What I mean by this is that we need to have prepared ourselves to minister to the needs of those around us with limited access to written resources. The role of the bard in society is to maintain the important stories that have made a culture what it is. This means learning first and foremost to Bible story as I described in my section on Bible study. Be prepared to teach scripture without having it immediately available to read aloud, in a way that even those who cannot read or write will understand and be able to pass on. In addition to this I believe the people of God have the responsibility to preserve history as much as possible. So in your study of the Ancient Church be prepared to share those teachings and events that will help either clarify sound teaching or serve as sources of strength and encouragement in hard times. I also believe that we should do this with American history; like ancient Church history this areas is severely under studied despite ease of access to source documents. Study well in particular the inspiring examples of the founding fathers and the meaning of the government that they handed down to us. Only in regaining this since of history will the American people finally be able to recognize how we got where we are today and how to get back to where we should be. Be prepared to put this history into a shareable story format. Practice by becoming a teacher of history to your family and friends around you.


Spiritual discipline for hard times takes hard work and consistent practice just like any other activity oriented towards preparedness such as marksmanship or physical fitness. Much like physical fitness it is an area where, if we fail to be prepared properly, much of our other preparation will be of now value. In hard times the Christian must be able to take a stand against the evil going on around him without giving into it. In order to take a stand against oppression and to hold out the truth of the Gospel to those around him, the Christian must spend disciplined time carefully studying the Word of God, in prayer, and in the fellowship of other believers. In addition to these things he must not lose his focus on God's sovereign advancement of His Kingdom, he must feed his heart well and not be distracted by unwholesome or useless entertainment, regain his connection to the fathers of our faith, and learn to share all of these things in a relevant way with his friends and neighbors. Only through practice and preparation can the Christian become the sort of man that his community will most certainly need him to be in times of great turmoil. These disciplines require faithful practice and cannot simply be brought out after things grow difficult, as such they should be practiced daily. In short, real faith is practical and gritty. It should be practiced and walked out in a disciplined way so as to overcome all obstacles and hardships.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I've been researching the 'rapture' for a while now. I discovered that they all have something in common with the three theory's of evolution. Each proves the other two wrong. My take is that I'm not smart enough to know Gods mind and it really don't matter. When it happens it will happen. The bible says that he will come like a thief in the night. We are told to be working until he comes. So be it. I will prepare and prep as I can't be effective if we're starving because we didn't heed the warnings in his word. We can't help others if we are in the same boat because we didn't do our after being warned. Rapture is not something to be worried about. It will come in Gods time. If it happens before the tribulation then my non-Christian friends will find some free supplies. - Ken S.

I'm almost surprised you tackled this subject in SurvivalBlog, but I understand the reasoning for doing so. Here is an article I wrote over 30 years ago entitled 'Rapture When?'

In the event that you would like to know a little more about me, my testimony is pretty well summed up in this article 'Pastor's House Burns Down - In All Things, Praise The Lord.'

God bless and have a great day, - Fred

Monday, April 1, 2013

Dear Mr. Rawles:
I have been reading articles on your blog about the pretribulational rapture not being mentioned prior to 1800. I realize the writer is just ignorant of the facts. Someone needs to tell this guy the truth about the facts.
The pretribulational rapture was mentioned in Pseudo-Ephraem) in AD 373.  There are many other ancient writings dating back prior to 1800. These are mentioned in the easy to read book, "The Popular Handbook on the Rapture". By Dr. Tim LaHaye, Dr. Thomas Ice, and Dr. Ed Hindson.  
I am a Christian and I believe in the pretribulational rapture because it is biblical.  The first verse is when the Lord Jesus was offering the Kingdom to the Jewish people. The second verse is for Christian during the church age. I prepare not because I am afraid of the great tribulation. I prepare to follow 1 Tim 5:8 and being a good Christian.
Matthew 6:19-22 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
1 Timothy 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
Sincerely, - Bill A.

JWR Replies: The text by Pseudo-Ephraem, "The Syrian", (actually written after 700 A.D.) is often cited by Tim LaHaye, et al. But if you read the literal translation of the text, you will see that it is NOT referring to the so-called rapture. (Being "caught up in the clouds...") Rather, it talks about how people will escape the Tribulation by dying in advance of it! I concur that pre-Tribulation rapture is a post-1800 contrivance. And from my own reading I must say that it has little Biblical support.

By the way, I don't even like using the term rapture. (Which doesn't occur in the Bible.) Although it is convenient shorthand, the term is a Darbyist invention, used to describe this prophetic event:

"Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." - 1 Thessalonians 4:17 (KJV)

FWIW, I believe that "...alive and remain..." refers to those of us who have survived the Tribulation period.

Regardless of our eschatological views, the bottom line is that all of Christ's Elect need to stay in full fellowship and be ready, regardless of what occurs, and regardless of the sequence of events.

Here is some suggested reading:

Pre-Trib View: 50 Reasons Why the Rapture Must Happen Before the Tribulation

Post-Trib View: Post Tribulation Rapture Belief

I pray for correct discernment and that this issue is not unnecessarily divisive. I allowed it to be raised in my blog because I believe that all Christians should be thorough and articulate Bible scholars. Only by diligently studying scripture can we be ready to defend out faith! Studying complex issues like this is a good way to sharpen your Bible study skills. Iron sharpens iron.

Minor points of doctrine aside, the important thing is that people repent and get right with God!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

In my conversations in person and online as well as select daily readings including SurvivalBlog; it seems to me that there are a few very common themed roadblocks that people throw out as reasons why they can’t or don’t need to prepare or are unable to take their prepping to the next level.
The four that come to mind are:
1)      My spouse doesn’t buy into the need to prepare
2)      We can’t afford to move
3)      God is in control; He will take care of us.
4)      Your prepping is actually a sign of a lack of faith: The Pre-Tribulation Rapture theory.
For the purposes of this article I am going to leave number one alone as much has been written about it and I don’t feel that I have much to add to the topic other than to say that if you are “equally yoked” with a spouse who is also a survivalist then count your blessings. That being said I believe that the conclusions I will draw regarding the latter three topics is also likely the reason a spouse is not “on board” with prepping.
We can’t Afford to Move;

Let me begin this topic by excluding those who are in the heart of major metropolises doing “great commission” work and those who are serving our country. I know brothers who are survivalists and in the military who when serving in "The Sand Box" are very concerned that the flag could go up and they would likely be up a creek without a paddle. Also stateside they realize that their preparations are lacking due to where they may be stationed, frequent moves, lack of storage space and too much month left at the end of the paycheck since they are the sole bread winners for their families. They deserve our praise for being in harm’s way.

Many people have given their testimony regarding pulling up stakes and moving to a safer location. My personal favorite was the SurvivalBlog submission “The Big Picture – Making a Life Changing Move” by A.L.  His writings remind me of the colloquialism of "nuff said."

Another popular testimony is that of Pastor Chuck Baldwin; they pulled up stakes after 35 years of preaching and deep roots from their home in Florida moving to where they now reside in Montana. Read his testimony titled The Hardest Decision of My Life.

Pastor Baldwin has said some controversial things in the past that not everyone agrees with but allow me to make two points. First, I was impressed by the fact that it wasn’t just he and his wife who made the move; in fact if was five families and 17 people. Secondly when he says that it was the hardest decision of his life, I take him at his word.

My testimony is not as impressive as those two but it follows the theme. 25 years ago my wife and I moved from a large metropolitan area in California to a mid-sized city in what is now called the American Redoubt. We did our homework and had visited said location twice. When it came time to move it meant leaving all our family and friends behind. We loaded all our worldly possessions (we were newlyweds so my dog was probably the most valuable possession)  into my pickup and my wife's small car. We arrived at our new “home town” with no place to stay, no jobs lined up, not one person in the region we knew, no credit available to us and $5,000 in cash.

I can report that from that day to this we have never borrowed a nickel from anyone other than for the purchase of real estate. The journey has been incredible and the blessings that we have received by taking that leap of faith are uncountable.

There are many great people and blogs out there with similar stories. I think of the homesteaders I know in the Clark Fork, Idaho area, Enola Gay’s blog Paratus Familia and Patrice Lewis in her Rural Revolution blog. [JWR Adds: Those are two of Avalanche Lily's favorite blogs.]

The common themes are this. Very few people relocate to a safer location with significant resources at their disposal, nor do they relocate to pursue the treadmill of creating (paper) wealth. Most stories you hear have required a leap of faith and very frugal living to “live the life." In a word; sacrifice.
Another theme you will see is that the definition of wealth  has been redefined by those who have moved out of the cities and suburbs to their piece of ground, homestead, rural retreat, etc. From my observations most of those people tend to be happier even though they work extremely hard. That happiness, I believe is derived from a sense of purpose that is hard to find in the work-a-day world of large cities.

Several years ago we were new to birthing (goats and sheep). We had a few successes under our belts but we ran into a problem and of course it was in the middle of the night in the middle of winter with zero moon. Bottom line, we were in a bind. It was clear the babies were not going to make it so it was all about saving our prized  French Alpine. We don’t like to impose on people but like I said, we were in a bind and over our heads. I called our neighbors who live two miles away and 3:10 am who have much more experience with livestock.

They answered the phone straight away with a “hello?”  I said Dan this is Jeff we are having problems with a birthing and wondered if you had any advice for us. He said “I will be right over." He and his wife arrived at our place nine minutes later. His wife gets out of the vehicle and in a very upbeat and cheerful tone says “good morning neighbors!” It took an hour of physically and emotionally draining work but we saved the babies (Kids) and the doe. That to us is wealth. Having neighbors who have your back that you can call on any time day or night and they are there for you means more to me than a fat 401k would.

I will concede that there are people who through no fault of their own lack the resources to make a move. I also believe in personal responsibility and cause and effect and know that when a good number of people claim that they can’t afford to move what I hear is that they are unwilling to make the sacrifices entailed in such a move.

It’s a choice. Can you afford not to move?

God is in Control
I will never forget a conversation I had with a gentleman after a Bible Study we attended. Based on that study I knew the answers he would give to my first few questions. For OPSEC reasons he did not know that we are survivalists.

Me: So John you believe that Christians will be here on earth during the Great Tribulation?
John: Certainly, that is clear in the Bible.
Me: And you believe that the Great Tribulation is coming soon?
John; Very soon.
Me: And you believe in the concept of the Mark of the Beast?
John: Yes, I believe that we as Christians who do not take the mark will not be allowed to conduct commerce, buy, sell and so on.
Me: So that means what? You can’t buy groceries, fuel, clothes etc?
John: Yes exactly.
Me: What are you doing about that?
John; What do you mean?
Me: I don’t know, this is your scenario, I just wondered if you were doing anything to prepare for this?
John: You mean like storing food?
Me: Well, I don’t know, like I said, this is your scenario but sure, if you won’t be able to buy groceries, how are you going to feed your family? (Husband, wife and three pre-teen children)
John: Well I had thought about that but I would just end up giving all the food away as charity.
Me: Wouldn’t it be better to be in a position to dispense charity rather than to have to rely on it?
John (pause); Our main course of action is to pray and get close to God and put our faith in Him.
Me: I see.
John: My wife has brought up the same questions (come to find out she is a closet prepper). But I don’t want to get all bogged down in trying to sort through every conceivable disaster to prepare for.
Me: (The guy hasn’t gotten bogged down in anything) Are you in danger of that?
John: I just want to be careful not to turn inwards towards myself rather than outwards towards God.
Me: Well, I would say that using your resources and time to help insure the health and safety of other people is the inverse of selfishness.
John: Maybe, I just don’t want to take away from what God's plan is for Me: to be a blessing to other people.
Me: (gag) Well, again, this is your scenario but it would seem to me that if what you think is going to come to pass, does come to pass, and you don’t do anything to prepare for it, you will be the inverse of a blessing to those you love the most.
John; (long pregnant pause)…it’s something to think about..he changes the subject.

My suspicions are that there are a lot of people like this. On the one hand their eyes are open but on the other they have every conceivable reason why they don’t have to do anything. These are also the types where if you start talking about firearms for self protection you can get the; “Oh, we want to be careful about that, remember those who live by the sword die by the sword.” Wow! What do you do with that?

In the safety of a blog that doesn’t compromise OPSEC I think what you do with that is call a spade a spade. The doing of the Bible and the doing of survival might not be required to save your soul but it could save your life and the lives of people you care about. My sense is that likely it is just a means to an end to support laziness. When all Hell is breaking loose I really think that God is going to have “bigger fish to fry” than keeping food on your table. Don’t ask God to do for you what you should be doing for yourselves.

A few weeks ago I read an article and I cannot remember who wrote it but the gentlemen had no compunction about telling it as he saw it. To paraphrase he was talking about this very subject about all the places the Bible (Jesus) warns us to be prepared for myriad things. Then he says, so if you don’t heed the Bible's warnings and prepare like it tells you to; when you and your family are starving that will be the least of your pains because you will be gnashing your teeth for not doing what you should have, then you will die and go before God and you will get to explain why you didn’t do what He told you to do!  Yikes!  No holds barred there, but I like his bluntness.

The Pre-Tribulation Rapture: "You see, your preparations are actually a sign of a lack of faith on your part."
This is a good one.
First of all let’s not meld three concepts into one as they are want to do. There are personal times of “tribulation” there are “tribulations” and there is “the great Tribulation." So, even if you’re certain that you won’t be around for the “Great Tribulation” it does not mean that there is nothing to prepare for. Twice Paul begged God to be” taken away home” out of his personal tribulation and God refused as He had additional plans for Paul. If Jesus’ right hand man Paul didn’t get a pass from his tribulations why do you think you will?
I am not a “man of the cloth” rather just a man trying to walk the walk but in my opinion the concept of the Pre-Trib rapture is false doctrine. Potentially dangerous false doctrine.

In no way does the Bible clearly articulate the concept of Pre-Trib rapture. To my reading the citations used by those to support the concept are subjective in nature. "The cow jumped over the moon which was made of green cheese." So clearly the cow represents Israel and the moon means the Euphrates River and the fact that it was made of green cheese means the moon was not kosher.

Okay, so I exaggerate but you get the point. This is what I refer to as the “clearlies” and the “obviouslies."  When you are reading “The Theologians Guide to the Pre-Tribulation Rapture”, etc you run across a lot of “clearlies” and “obviouslies” and that to me means it is not “clear” or “obvious." Without getting bogged down with back and forth scripture citations let’s ask some common sense questions that deserve common sense answers.

1)    The Pre-Trib rapture first got introduced as a working idea in the 1800s. Prior to that there is no mention of it that I can find by any prophet, scholar, preacher, writer, nobody. Why?
2)    What does Satan have to offer? Three things to my thinking: lies that contain half truths, the allure of “enlightenment” and the desire to divide Christians. God offers whole truths, no lies, the offer of redemption not enlightenment and desires for us to unite.  "Love your neighbor as yourself."
3)    Did this notion of a Pre-Tribulation rapture serve to unite or divide Christians? If you’re not sure you need to get around the Internet a bit more and see the vitriolic arguments for and against levied by “Christians” at each other. If the modern notion of a Pre-Trib rapture served to divide Christians in a big way (and it has) it serves Satan's purposes, not God's.
4)    What explanation do some Pre-Tribbers offer as to why this concept was never spoken of prior to the mid 1800s? Yep! Some form of enlightenment by the believers bestowed upon them in that day that was previously not known. Who was it that offers enlightenment again?
5)    Do the Pre-Trib believers of today that you know see their beliefs as more enlightened than those who do not hold those beliefs? The ones that I know do. Do those who don’t believe in Pre-Trib rapture carry an air of more enlightenment than those who do?  I for one don’t. This is best illustrated by the fact that Pre-Trib rapture believers have absolutely told me to my face that my preps are a lack of faith. Satan's lies are so subtle that they have convinced themselves that the false doctrine they embrace is a higher level of faith (enlightenment and division all in one) than those of us preparing to provide four ourselves in times of trouble. Who was it that seeks to divide us and offers enlightenment again?
6)    The Bible is the book for believers. Our handbook if you will. If the believers are all going to be “taken away home” just in the nick of time what is the point of the Bible going into great detail about the Great Tribulation period if none of us are going to be here? We really wouldn’t need to know anything about that would we? What purpose does that information serve if everything in the “Good book” is there for a reason?
7)    Not the least of which the Mark of the Beast. Why would we need to think about that or hear about that if we are all gone?
8)    The Pre-Tribbers assert that at the rapture (at the onset of the Great Tribulation) Jesus comes down to the clouds and at the end of the Great Tribulation. He actually walks on Earth and that that is the second coming. So which one is Judgment day? Those who get raptured to Heaven and those left behind at the beginning of the Great Tribulation; is that judgment day? Or is it judgment day when Christ returns?  Are there two judgment days? Two unsealing of the Book of Lambs? If all the saved Christians are taken away home right before all hell breaks loose why have a great tribulation at all?
9)    Be extra leery of theses that support your biases. i.e. people with lazy streaks who  convince themselves that they don’t have to do anything. Nothing worth having is attained easily. We know that our salvation is attained through grace not works but we also know that there is a certain element who are all too keen on the idea of having to do nothing. “Works for me, back to the ball game." That is fine, it’s a choice, but when you castigate those of us preparing that doing so is “lacking faith” it is hard for me to not think of the word “foolish” or even “mockery." Mocking God's people seems like a bad idea to me.
10) And now we get down to brass tacks. Does the Pre-Tribulation Rapture theory better serve the desires of Satan or God? How could we know? Using logic I think we can certainly gain some insight. What happens if I am wrong and the rapture occurs prior to the tribulation and I am taken away home? Nothing really, I will be saved and in Heaven and probably won’t even know what hit me, much less have the time to rationalize, “Oh I guess I got that Pre-Trib rapture thing wrong.” Now let’s go the other way. What happens to Christians who have built much of their belief system around the Pre-Trib rapture, what if they are wrong? The great tribulation is “game on” and they are still here on earth. How many of them are going to question God? Question their faith? “He” didn’t come through for us, it was all a pack of lies! How many of them are going to renounce their faith? How many of them will swallow the next big lie that God doesn’t exist and turn their allegiances to the antichrist and become the sworn enemies of those remaining Christians? To me, that’s the main “rub” right there. This is exactly what the Pre-Tribbers have been set up for in my opinion. Not all of them will swallow the next big lie certainly, but many will.
To me the main lesson here for those of us who count ourselves as Christian Survivalists is this; In a SHTF scenario identifying friend from foe is going to be a huge challenge. None of us are naive enough to think that the bad guys are going to introduce themselves as evil. But let us also not be naive enough to think that all “Christians” are going to be your friends. The Bible is clear on this and maybe none more famous than Isaiah 3:5:

“People will oppress each other-- man against man, neighbor against neighbor. The young will rise up against the old, the nobody against the honored.”

Since, like Judah, we have broken our covenant of protection, this may well metaphorically speak to our futures as well.

God is in charge but that doesn’t make doing nothing a wise call.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Regarding the recent post "Dealing With Mentally Unbalanced Trespasser, I'd like to begin with a relevant Bible passage, Matthew 25:31-45, King James Version (KJV):

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

Having dealt, one-on-one with many folks like the "Mentally Unbalanced Trespasser" in many positions over the years, I offer some insight.

1.  We naturally fear the unknown.  Jesus invites us to engage that fear and recognize that "unknown one" as him.  Easier said than done.

2.  Here's the "done" part.  Offer the stranger food.  If he ignores you or refuses, offer it again.  How many times would you offer Jesus food if he initially regarded you with suspicion?  "Hey brother, have a cookie."  "Would you like some water or lemonade?"  I have seen people who you might think were crazed from bath salts or meth (a diagnosis best left to the pros) relax and engage with me.  A little kindness calls the fellow to "wake from the trance" and perhaps remember he is one of God's children.  Of course, we have to remember that he is one of God's children first.  Of course, you can wear a sidearm as you offer the cookie.

3.  Hearthkeeper notes,  "The man went with the officers with no struggle thank goodness and we then gave our statements."  Note especially the words "with no struggle".  Peace officers are more and more being trained to calmly offer help to people "in the trance" (Drunk, drugged, possessed, or whatever.) When you approach the stranger with kindness, as if you are addressing Jesus, you are preparing for a time when there may be no 911.  Take turns, as part of your prepper practice,  play the role of the stranger and of the one offering kindness.  As we used to say in the Marine Corps, 'Practice makes prepared."   

4.  I'll quote Hearthkeeper once more,  "We pressed charges for trespassing simply because the man otherwise would have been let go to terrorize some other family."  Based on the description of his behavior, the stranger was simply pulling on the chicken wire and threatening no one.  We human beings often claim, in our fear, that someone has "terrorized" us.  This serves to detract from out power to respond to a situation.  In tactical situations, the better we can describe what is going on without ascribing power or intent to the other, the more effective is our response.  I'll paraphrase Mother Theresa here, "Our challenge is to show kindness to Our Lord in all his repellent disguises."

5.  I am in no way suggesting you become a bleeding-heart liberal.  I simply invite you, if you choose Jesus, to heed his words.  Certainly, you can keep the option of violent response ready in your hip pocket--or holster. - Dancing Marine

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

[Editor's Note: The following letter was edited substantially, for factual accuracy and for protection from potential libel litigation.]

Dear Mr. Rawles,
Readers should be made aware that the ALERT Academy has some connection to the defunct Worldwide Church of God. I would never put any child of mine under this influence. While it sounds like a wonderful program, their founding roots were in a group that at one time had very dangerous doctrine. To understand the influence of cults, I recommend the Under Much Grace web site. I believe that you never intended SurvivalBlog to endorse this kind of doctrine. - Dawn S. in East Texas

JWR Replies: While I appreciate getting your letter, it is important to recognize that people and churches change. The Worldwide Church of God no longer exists. After Armstrong's failed prophecies about the year 1972, the church went through several splits, with the largest portion of their congregations adhering to Grace Communion International, which now has much more mainstream evangelical doctrine. Their statement of beliefs has radically distanced them from the wacky beliefs of Armstrong Senior (Herbert) and Armstrong Junior (Garner Ted). While the positions of Grace Communion International have modified substantially for the better, they might still have some doctrinal beliefs that do not match those of many Christian families--especially those who (like me) are five point Calvinists. (Most evangelical churches have Arminian doctrine.) I advise readers to closely examine the doctrinal position of any school or summer camp before enrolling their children!

According to Chuck Holton, ALERT was not founded by former members of WWCG. The academy was founded by Bill Gothard of Michigan. Later, the old Worldwide Church of God campus in Big Sandy was purchased by the Mardel family (owners of Hobby Lobby) and donated to ALERT for their use.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

I would like to thank B.H. in North Idaho for his candid discussion of world views and the church.  As a Christian, I have the same beliefs that he has. 

And as a Christian, there is no way I cannot feed the hungry and the poor.  Jesus said the most important commandment is to love God and the next is to love your neighbor.  That means charity.  And charity entails feeding the hungry.  I may run out of food and die myself, but I know God would bless what I did for others.  As long as I'm doing what God instructs, I'm not scared of dying. That said, I won't hesitate to use a firearm if necessary to save lives, including my own, from some evil person.   

In "The Apology of Aristides," dated 125 A.D., Aristides wrote the earliest apology of the faith that we have outside the New Testament, a letter to Hadrian during the time Christians were being persecuted in Rome.  In this letter, he says, among other things, that Christians would fast for 3 days so they could give food to hungry fellow Christians.  How far we have drifted from what the first Christians did for each other. 

The church needs to be a leader through charity.  Why?  Because the one that gives charity is the one with the power.  Why do you think government wants so much to be the one that gives people what they need, in the form of Social Security, Food Stamps, Medicaid, etc?  Power.  And control.  The church needs to take this power back to show that God is the one that has power and God is the one that provides.  As B.H. said, the church needs to position itself to be ready to handle the hungry and the poor, as the Bible commands.  This is so government does not become the "savior" of mankind when everything falls apart.   We already have a savior.  And Christians need to do what the good book says, love they neighbor.

(For more information on how to put the church back in its proper role of providing for the needs of others through charity, I suggest reading the Biblical Blueprint Series.  It has loads of ideas for the church to help the deserving poor.  One of the books is titled, "In the Shadow of Plenty."  If you see this book, you'll know you have the right series of books.)

The Biblical Blueprint Series contains the following 9 books:

Introduction to Dominion, Biblical Blueprints on Dominion
Honest Money, Biblical, Blueprints on Money and Banking
Who Owns the Family?: Biblical Blueprints on the Family and the State
In the Shadow of Plenty, Biblical Blueprints on Welfare and Poverty
Liberator of the Nations, Biblical Blueprints on Political Action
Inherit the Earth, Biblical Blueprints on Economics
Chariots of God, Biblical Blueprints on Defense
The Children Trap, Biblical Blueprints on Education
Entangling Alliances, Biblical Blueprints on Foreign Policy
Ruler of the Nations, Biblical Blueprints on Government
Protection of the Innocent, Biblical Blueprints on Crime and Punishment

My own plan when things fall apart is to have enough food stored to be able to feed people.  I won't be able to give them much but it will be a meal at least.  But my main plan is to teach people how to live in the tough times and to introduce them to Christ. 

For the people that live in my area, I plan to have extra seeds available to give out along with instructions for how to grow them and how to make compost for future growing.  Hopefully, within 30-60 days, they'll have at least a little food to eat from what they planted.  Yes, I know inexperience doesn't produce the best farmer, but they will learn.  In the meantime, I plan to teach them which foods they can scavenge, such as dandelion, stinging nettles, lemon balm, chicory, acorns and others nuts, and which berries are safe, etc.  I also plan to have extra small traps, like the ones for squirrels, etc, that I can give to others so they can supplement whatever they scavenge.   I'll teach them how to catch and cook grasshoppers, snails, how to fish and catching/shoot birds and cook them.  Even as a female, there's a lot I can teach.

Living in the Deep South, we have an advantage: kudzu.  We are inundated with it.  People don't realize that every part of this plant can be used for food.  The root can be ground and made into a meal, which, when mixed with water and heated, can make a nutritional broth.  The leaves and flower petals are edible.  And for those with sugar, the petals and small stems can be used to make kudzu jelly. (As a footnote, the Japanese ate kudzu root after the atomic blasts.  The roots are deep enough that they do not get contaminated by the fallout, which is good to know if there's a nuclear attack.) 

I also plan to teach people how to make filters for water, how to build fires if necessary, etc.  These are the types of things I feel will help people get by.  If they keep busy, maybe they won't have as much time to get depressed or mad.  And if they can start finding food and growing food, perhaps the idea of stealing won't enter their heads, although that may be a bit optimistic.  

In other words, I plan to teach people to fish and not just give them fish, while at the same time, telling them of God's love and how he provides for us. - Vic from South Carolina

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

In reference to "The Commerce Model of Prepping", that was one of the best written and thought provoking pieces I have read on your web site in quite some time. If one can afford the Rawlesian Approach to having a high quality retreat in a highly rural location I believe that is a great decision, because it will allow that retreat to help kick start the local economy after a SHTF event, while continuing to be a blessing to those around them (acting as Christ to one another).

I thought the authors point, to those who are not in a position to build a Rawlesian Approach rural retreat, was excellent. Depending on the severity of the event that causes the SHTF, his approach might work quite well. I believe the first goal is to join a small community or town (as you have often suggested - Less than 2,000, as I recall) where your mostly of one mind with the community. This will provide both strength in numbers and will allow the community to maintain some level of security and commerce. The key is finding that type of community. This could be very difficult while still maintaining a reasonable distance from major population centers. Being born into that community works best. Being invited to join that community is a close second. As the author also suggests, be sure to store and save something that can act as barter, such as bullets, fuel or food. There is no free lunch.

God bless our nation and your good work, - Suburban Farmer

Dear James:
The Commerce Model of Prepping, by B.H., is an interesting analysis, with equally interesting opinion. What struck me is how closely he has described what I am doing with zero analysis. I've been self employed for 25 years, so a business approach comes to me without thinking. I agree with the notion that commerce will restart as soon as possible after a "Game Changing" event. It may never actually come to a complete standstill.

As has been pointed out in previous articles on prepping on a budget, or what to do if you cannot relocate, not everyone can take the Rawles approach. In our case, we haven't the resources to move, and for the time being are dependent upon a clinical trial for one member of our family. However, I'm diligent about storing food and acquiring things of value that I feel I need, or might want to trade. My business is making gear, and I already trade with preppers. As soon as I can get out of the house after Schumer hits, I will be helping others and trading goods.

The simplest and smallest example of The Commerce Model would be the Rag Man of European legend, an honest man of God, a peddler collecting cast-offs from some and selling to others, who distributes the news and builds networks among people. As sailors are wont to comment, there but for the grace of God, go I. - Mac

I'll start with a Bible quotation:
“Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”-- Proverbs 27:17 NASB

We need to speak the truth to each other in love. I believe that B.H. in Northern Idaho had nothing but love of God and His people in mind when he wrote The Commerce Model of Prepping: A Personal Re-Evaluation. I loved the use of humor throughout and appreciated his insights and intent.

B.H. sees the flaws in some forms of prepping, including what he’d practiced. Those weak points should be taken seriously and prayerfully by those who feel most challenged by his essay.  So too what he addressed about house-churches should be taken seriously and with prayer. Accountability and fellowship with those “of like precious faith” who may differ from you in non-essentials is both Biblical and healthy and should be pursued as long as it is possible to do so.

Ironically I have time to write this today because a family member was ill enough to have kept us from going to church. We have to travel over thirty miles to our church home, so on occasion we will visit similar churches nearby rather than just doing a home Bible study, because we know that we need fellowship. While I prefer my church home, it’s good to know that I don’t live as an island, cut off from fellow believers.
People of good faith are being led to prep in different ways because God is using them and will use them to witness in different ways in different areas, just as He does right now. In 1 Corinthians Paul was inspired to speak of the Body of Christ with different functions and ministries.
God fits us with different temperaments and gifts to use as He directs.  God uses the introverts who need great swaths of time alone to energize just as much as He does the extroverts who get energized by being around people. He made some to preach, some to write, some to spend a lot of time in prayer, some to say absolutely nothing at all and yet share the gospel profoundly through acts of service and love.
A recent example of the latter from our church; mechanically inclined men reached out to a widow and her single daughter who had car trouble; they hadn’t known where to turn for help knowing they were vulnerable and not wanting to be exploited. That spoke to the ladies’ whole family and all of their friends of the great love for each other that is supposed to be the mark of Christians.  Love happens spontaneously where there are relationships among believers. No relationship, no love, no witness.
Some prep in place so that they can continue the ministries they have now.  Others feel driven to find a place of refuge to protect their children from what is a voracious system of worldly brainwashing. The practice of sending Christian kids to public school ‘to be a witness’ has been more failure than success over the last 20 years. The majority of children educated secularly walk away from Christianity when they graduate high school. I will never second-guess a parent who decides that their children’s salvation and discipleship is the most important ministry and priority of their life.
When we can see the dangers and flaws of other forms or prepping and styles of life, it is good and right to call attention to them so that they can be addressed. That said, we need to be careful lest we sit in judgment of each other.
This verse is a great comfort to me when I see other Christians in error or doing something I believe is not wise or holy according to my ideas and convictions:
“Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand." --Romans 14:4 NASB
Once we’ve faithfully shared what is on our hearts, we need to leave the rest up to the Holy Spirit to lead and convict our listeners with regard to God’s will. We know how He would lead in the essential things, but in regard to non-essentials we need to be especially hands-off and not take it personally if someone decides that they must act according to their understandings and convictions and not ours. I believe that prepping styles are among the latter.
Eschatology is another area where I believe we need to take a step back and allow for differences. What we believe about the end times is important as it profoundly impacts what we do today and how we interpret the events around us and the actions we take in response.
We do need to be certain that scripture interpreted with scripture is the foundation of what we believe. Because of what I see in scripture I find myself unable to believe in neither dispensational rapture eschatology nor dominionism. The words of Christ to his apostles in Jerusalem and the Revelation to John at Patmos paint a picture of an oppressed minority of the faithful, enduring until the end.
When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit.  Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.  You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.—Mark 13:11 -13 NASB
These words were spoken in the context of the end of the age, not the launch of the church age though it applied then as well. Jesus went on to speak of the final things and his main instruction was “to be alert.”

It was also given to him (the beast) to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. If anyone has an ear, let him hear. If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints. Revelation 13:7-20 NASB
Where in these passages do we see the church gaining dominion over the world? Rather we see what the church encountered immediately in the book of Acts; the gospel spread through persecution throughout the Roman world. When persecution stopped, the pace of evangelism also dropped off so that there are still some unreached places in the world.  
Look around you today and you see that where the church is growing or where it is standing up to worldly powers, it is being persecuted. You see believers standing firm in their faith despite losing everything, and their witness is powerful because God is at work. Persecution, by the very words of Christ, will continue until the end. We need to be mentally and spiritually prepared to face that and to not lose heart if we never subdue the world system under our feet.
Those who believe in the rapture need to consider that they could be living in a time such as that faced by the believers in the USSR ; decades of persecution. How faithful can you be if you believe that this shouldn’t be happening to you? This may not be the beginning of the Great Tribulation, but of a lesser tribulation which will still require all of us to overcome day by day. Challenge yourself to get ready and to be strong.
I believe there is very good reason to believe that we are in the last days now:

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.  For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,  unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good,  treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. --2 Tim 3:3-5 NASB
It’s difficult to read this passage and not see our own times and culture reflected strongly in the inspired words Paul set down.
I was raised in a Bible-believing Wesleyan holiness tradition that fits the pun about pan-millennialism: “However it pans out is fine with me, I’ll just focus on being faithful.” That may seem a cop out, but a focus on faithfulness will prepare our souls for whatever persecution may come, will lead us to attempt great things for Christ will expecting to see great things from Christ  and keep us on the alert as if waiting for the midnight cry.  In closing, I’ll leave you with the words of Jesus: 
“What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!’” Mark 13:37 NASB
- Sigi

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Over the years since I first read the novel Patriots by James Rawles and made the decision to embrace prepping my idea of prepping has changed.  It started when I recognized that friends, acquaintances and strangers all had varying ideas and degrees of preparedness even within very similar prepping models.  The greatest characteristic of is that there is something for everyone presented in articles and information.  Regardless of your station you’ll find information pertinent to your specific situation to help you improve your own preparedness level.

I realized that my own prepping mindset was slowly shifting over time as I pursued knowledge, skills and dealt with changing personal circumstances.  Health issues, children getting older, economic changes and political changes have all required minor to major changes in my original preparedness model.  These changes and realization led me to begin classifying the different levels or approaches to prepping.  It began with a realistic and unbiased look at the location I had originally determined as a great location for prepping.  My research began to reveal some hidden assumptions and biases I was holding that caused me to ignore critical factors.

Of course, some folks will adamantly disagree with my assumptions so I feel it necessary to establish a broad disclaimer:

My assessments and research are non-scientific and are particular to me and my personal familial situation.  I try to use a broad brush for informational and statistical research and apply it to general trends and loosely defined geographic, demographic and economic particulars to my own education, experience and life skills.

I stated above that I have come to recognize general trends or categories in the preparedness mindset or commitment levels.  I try to define these now:

Rawlesian Approach (RA):  The original, at least from my perspective, retreat or prepper model-the Gray’s Ranch depicted in the novel Patriot’s.  A free-standing and completely self-sufficient ranch/homestead that requires no outside contact for a 3-5 year survival situation and is off-grid.  Keep in mind the Gray’s didn’t meet this point until after the Barter Faire when they accumulated livestock and more kerosene.  Basically, they were able to survive and thrive without outside contact.  Essentially, an Island. (If you have heartburn about this definition please re-read disclaimer)

Modern Homestead (MH):            I think this can be separated into two unique sub-classifications depending upon the isolation or close proximity to smaller metropolitan areas.  The ultra-rural MH is at least 1-2 hours from the nearest Wal-mart at highway speeds.  East of the Mississippi River this is at least 75 miles, rural and isolated from larger metropolitan areas with box stores and trauma center.  If the homestead is closer, like 30 minutes to one hour, then I consider it a rural homestead.

In the American Redoubt a drive 30 minutes to one hour can put you out into the woods or other terrain fairly quickly.  For example, one hour from the Spokane Valley can put you into another county and even into another State or National Forests of Idaho Panhandle.  The MH may be off-grid, on-grid or a mix of the two.  The main characteristic is distance and the fact that the MH is NOT self-sufficient or an island.  The MH needs commerce or access to commerce for survival.

Suburban Farm (SF):            The SF falls within 30 minutes of smaller metropolitan areas.  SF communities are where homes sit upon larger parcels 1+ acre or larger.  These areas usually have local ordinances or GMR’s that restrict sub-dividing parcels or restricting high density dwellings.  These communities usually have a “country” feel and many homes have gardens and small pasture/orchards.  In my area I generally see 1-3 homes out of every 10 homes are growing vegetables and/or raising animals other than pets.  The remaining 6-9 homes could raise something if they converted their manicured lawns or fallow pasture to productive use.  The SF area usually has people selling fresh produce through the growing season right from their property or at the local farmers market.

The SF is usually attached to a local water district but outside metropolitan waste water treatment facilities (septic).  Some SF’s have access to irrigation districts that allow larger water access for irrigation.  The irrigation district water is usually cheaper and is untreated.  In my local area the water is drawn directly from the aquifer and is substantially cheaper than municipal water.  SF’s have a considerable number of parcels on well water systems.  In general, the SF is well water with septic system.

Urban Garden (UG):            This is a broad category defined by its close proximity to the metropolitan center.  The UG is minutes from all modern services like Costco, Trauma centers and fast-food outlets.  A great test is to determine the outer boundary of the UG with the SF is what I call the Nacho test.  Just order nachos at Taco Bell and start driving.  You’ve hit the outer limits of the UG when the canned cheese hits room temperature.  Eat the nachos at your own risk.

The UG is limited.  Limited in ability to produce, support and defend.  The UG can support salad garden with some exception for green houses and creative landscaping.  We see occasional stories about the UG prepper being persecuted by zoning Nazis for having a garden in their front yard and other such nonsense.

It must be stated, even if it’s obvious, the RA would take considerable financial resources and time to achieve.  I only know of three people who have attained the RA and yet they lack the human capital necessary for long-term success.  The last few years I have moved from one style/station to the next and made a habit of looking for the natural or organic things that came with preparedness and each station.  What commonality was being ignored or taken for granted?  Were there any consistent commonalities present?  How would these affect my preparedness station? And, as a Christian, was I being obedient to God’s Word?

All these questions brought me to my new view of preparedness—The Commerce Model of Prepping.

The Commerce Model of Prepping:
This model of preparedness makes a major assumption as a foundation of its premise.  The assumption is that human nature drives people to attempt a return to normalcy in the shortest time possible.  Even if that normal is different from what was previously known—they will still plan, act and work toward that new normalcy.  To better understand what I mean we should characterize or assign levels to “events” that initiate or launch usage of our preparations on a full scale.

I’ve loosely defined these events by severity.

  1. Habit Changer-Lay-offs, Illness, Regional Disaster, Personal or Localized Events.
  2. Life Changer-Economic Depression/Collapse, War, Pandemic, Modified Societal Collapse, Regional/National Disaster.
  3. Game Changer- EMP, Civil or Global War, Pandemic and other survival fiction-worthy events.

These events can overlap somewhat.  For example, a long-term layoff or unemployment may change habits at first and then become a life changer by forcing a move or shift in socioeconomic status. 

The latest economic “recovery” (quotes denote sarcasm) has been a habit changer for most and a life changer for many.  Regardless of impact, what was/is the single largest common denominator for people experiencing “Hope-N-Change” (again Sarcasm)?  The answer is immediate adjustment and subsequent pursuit of normalcy. How?  Salisbury Steak instead of Sirloin Steak--Tilapia instead of Salmon--Staycation instead of Vacation--shopping at a Goodwill thrift store instead of the mall.

Okay—simple economics.  What does this have to do with preparedness?  This natural tendency should be a major decision factor in your preparedness plans—especially location.  How?  IMHO it should flavor all your preparedness systems and decisions.  Why?

The Commerce Model of Preparedness stipulates that safe, free and consistent commerce and trade will be the catalyst for any long-term success for personal, familial, community, regional and even national recovery. 

Again, IMHO, every aspect of preparedness needs to be viewed through this perspective.  Unless you have achieved the RA level of preparedness you must be prepared for commerce. One could argue that even if you are an RA level you should be ready just the same.  A business approach to preparedness puts you into a prime position to thrive and thrive abundantly.

The commerce model forces you to think in terms of efficiency, cost-effectiveness, economies of scale and supply and demand while you pursue your prepping goals.  I would like to use one comprehensive example to address this point.

The Modern Homestead, especially the ultra-rural variety, has many pitfalls when viewed through the lens of commerce.  In a way this example will be a de-facto assessment of North Central Idaho-specifically Idaho County.  I believe the only system that has long-term viability in these ultra-rural areas is the RA.  If you are an island with all your preps then you are an island.  You have the luxury of riding out most events or situations.

North-Central Idaho has many enticing qualities.  Good quality land at reasonable prices, large percentage of freedom-minded individuals, elected officials that apply limited government and self-policing models, distance from large urban populations and on and on.  Obvious negatives are lack of jobs and the [higher] average age of population [41.7 years. Statewide, the median age is 33.2 years.] At first glance its ideal but add some likely and probable factors and the picture changes rapidly.  Let’s start with fuel—either prohibitive pricing and/or scarcity of supply—which can happen for a variety of reasons.

Fuel scarcity or price would limit trade and the ability to travel for necessary items for success.  If you did have the fuel the additional expense would put you at a competitive disadvantage versus competitors.  Trade within an ultra-rural setting will likely have immediate limitations due to scarcity of products.  Any entrepreneur who tries to fill demand will be able charge higher prices.  Fuel scarcity creates a “lesser of two evils” situation.  Use the fuel to get what you need or don’t and suffer the consequences.

(Author’s Note:  An underlying assumption of my work is that there will always be a currency of some sort used to support the function of trade--it may be greenbacks, blue bucks or .22LR ammo.  The point is no trade functions, with economic efficiency, without a trusted, recognizable medium of exchange.)

The small towns that pepper this region have only two days of fuel and no back-up power to run the pumps. A regional earthquake of meaningful size would close all roads for days or even weeks with rock slides.  Economic Collapse or a substantial increase in fuel prices begins to limit and stunt economic activity.  Most of the MH’s in this region are 20-30 minutes’ drive up and out from the small towns and then an additional hour or more to an actual metropolitan center.  Scarce resources would immediately become scarcer, too expensive or even inaccessible.  Unless you are a true RA the MH that is one hour or more from smaller metropolitan areas need to honestly assess their viability.  How long can you last without electricity, cheap fuel and open roads?  Just the loss of one would render 99% of the homesteads in this area unviable if lost for more than two weeks.

The stark reality of this vulnerability came to light when discussing my own personal research of this area.  The local sheriff made a revealing comment about the region.  His belief was that if the government wanted to depopulate the area they would just turn off the power and stop fuel deliveries.  In his estimation the first third would leave in a week, the next third the following two weeks and within a month only the RA’s would be left.  I had to concur.  My research showed that the largest towns between Lewiston, Idaho and Missoula, Montana have only a two day supply of fuel and 5-6 day supply of food—under normal demand.   These inherent vulnerabilities make the MH, especially the ultra-rural MH, dangerous and success unattainable.

My personal conclusion was that if I couldn’t reach or become an RA then I needed to seriously modify my preparedness plans.  I began to apply the Commerce Model to determine best case or most applicable outcome coverage—what gets me the biggest bang for the buck!  Again, consider the types of events and their potential likelihood and then combine with the Commerce Model.  The result is a strategic location between small metropolitan areas and the MH.  Locations that are close enough for commerce and yet far enough away for seclusion and security.  Close enough for aid and close enough to provide aid depending on the circumstance.

From a Christian perspective I started to ask myself questions about charity and service to the community.  Am I behaving Christian-like if I remove myself from the stabilizing role of neighborhood and community member?  If my model is to “wait out the carnage/die off” in the cities is that appropriate when I could have been in the trenches from the beginning making a positive influence back to normal (whatever that may be)?  It really comes down to a question of Christian Worldview.

Is the Kingdom of God in decline and will continue to get its collective rear-end kicked by the God-haters?  Or is Jesus sitting on His throne, at the right hand of the Father, and all power and dominion been given Him?  Uh-Oh!  Yes I went there.  I opened the can of worms that pits those who grab their “left behind” and are waiting for the proverbial “mothership” to come whisk them away from “end-times” and thus any potential suffering.  (If my sarcasm seems over done please re-read the gospels and take note of how Jesus wielded sarcasm and humor.)  The opposite crowd is the Dominion theology crowd who thinks America is in decline because the Church as a whole in the US has abdicated, capitulated and quit working to further God’s kingdom.  The evidence is divorce, public homosexuality, abortion and economic/monetary ignorance, and all the other outcomes and sanctions America deserves for abandoning and condoning through inaction.

The point isn’t to offend but to challenge.  I will finish my de-facto assessment of North-Central Idaho with this generalization.  A majority of Christians in this region are there because they are “fleeing” the world.  They’ve over-applied the command to not be “of the world” at the expense of “being in the world”.  They have become islands upon an island.  No mindset for dominion of this world but more of a “let’s hide here and scrape out an existence while we sing kumbaya.”  The belief in a pending “rapture” (a word not found in the Bible) has created a Church wide pessimism that slowly erodes the Church’s desire to think generationally for the Christ’s Kingdom.  Why bother building cathedrals when the “mothership” will be here any day?  Obama must be the anti-Christ—right?


The American Redoubt’s ultra-rural areas have many families are living at or on the edge of poverty because they feel “led” to flee the city but arrived with no means to support their family.  I was amazed at the amount of grown, able-bodied “Christian” men who worked part-time while on public assistance.  They refused to provide basic needs to the point of having homeschooled children that were unschooled.  The parable of Talents once again applies.

A common characteristic is home churches (islands) that resent and openly castigate the role of pastors and formal church government of any kind.  Home churches have a place where open congregational worship is forbidden or restricted.  Often used as a defense for home churching is the New Testament but the young Church in the book of Acts only home churched when they couldn’t worship corporately at the local synagogue or temple.  It is difficult or impossible for a home church family to bless the local Church and vice-versa when they don’t worship together consistently with an eye toward spiritual maturity.  Even in "Patriots" the fictional Group only home churched when they had too otherwise they met corporately at church.  Modern day China gives us a real model of the Church—corporate worship in secret and home churching as the last option.

The real problem with this retreat mentality is the tendency to avoid accountability—especially the husbands and fathers as providers.  One can’t be challenged to be active, prosperous, church growing and people serving if they are a part of an inward looking, self-contained, meat (spiritual) avoiding, hide from the apocalypse mindset.  How can the Church conquer the World for Christ when the Church is hiding in the wilderness?

Let me point out that most of these folks are kind and would gladly give their shirt off their back.  My point ties in with commerce.  These folks are, IMHO, wasting the most precious of all commodities—TIME.  The asset (or talent for a biblical reference) of human capital is being misappropriated and wasted and are they are positioned for an epic failure of tragic proportions.  How?  Let’s go back to an example or one limiting factor—Fuel.

If fuel becomes scarce or extremely expensive most of the islands I’ve referred to will be in immediate poverty and limited in options.  They will, tragically, become a huge burden to the church community.  How is the Church to serve those around them when there is no apparatus or strong foundation for service?  Relatively speaking, times are good now and this community/region has a weak spiritual, financial, vocational, economic and geographical position.  Will they sit and starve for Jesus or become a moving hoard of good mannered locusts?
A very legitimate question I say!  My point has merit in two ways: the first assessment is to ask if I had to walk to town for commerce could I do it in less than four hours?  Second, make a list for one month of every item you get from the store or mail order and apply a scarcity model to that list—could you survive without commerce?  Who could?

Are you skeptical?  Remove fuel and add any other category on your list.  If you are ultra-rural do you think those scarce items would be more readily available for commerce in your ultra-rural location or in small to mid-sized town (30,000 pop or less)?  Assume your area can and would become a closed system at some point.  I really want to connect the entire piece by asking you the reader to combine both main points.

Is the community or America better served by Godly people removing themselves from populated areas in the best interest of stability and return to normalcy?  If God is to sanction America and allow habit, life or game changers to occur-- is the pillar and culture changing news of the gospel better served hiding in the ultra-rural or better served with “boots on the ground” in closer proximity to greater populations?  I think of Gen. Patton always moving to where the fight is to take the initiative.  Can you be a tent-maker like Paul?  Providing commerce, stability and service to man while being a platform for the transformational truth of Christ’s work on the cross?

In closing, I hope I have challenged the reader on two levels.  First Spiritually--Examine your worldview and study God’s word and the subject of end times. It does matter as one worldview, by nature, creates a natural pessimism and one doesn’t.   For deeper understanding I recommend the unanswered and authoritative work By Dr. Kenneth Gentry.  “He Shall Have Dominion.”  Here you will find a deep review of the recent (1830s) move by the Church in America to embrace Dispensational Pre-millennialism (Rapture Theology) and Post-Millennialism (the Church's historic position). 

Second- I hope I challenged your “prepping model”.  I believe one’s end-times worldview and beliefs about commerce are interconnected and dictate one’s prepping model by either causing an “isolate and prep mindset” versus a “stay, prep and positively impact mindset”.  Are you thinking about the next 5-10 years or the next 100-200 years?

I left the ultra-rural area because God challenged the fallacy in my worldview that held the idea of “prep for the worst but hope for the best.”  The idea that I could avoid or ride out any sanctions or events He allows America to endure is wrong.  The Church, with Christ as the head, is the glue of civilization and the only hope for America and more importantly the World.  Christ’s Church is the army and this victory must be worked out over time.

The modern preparedness movement, even the Rawlesian Approach, is distracting the Church from its real mission of serving those in need  Preparing your house, neighbors and local churches to be a network of support, and yes commerce, is Biblical.  The Union Gospel Mission has taken these marching orders and followed them superbly.  Food, clothing and shelter while growing the Kingdom for Christ.  It should be our model also.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Reader M.V. was the final high bidder in the auction AN/PVS-14 Gen 3+ Night Vision Scope, with his very generous bid of $3,900. All proceeds (100%) will be donated to C.R.O.S.S. Ministries. (A very worthy Christian ministry that is sharing the Gospel of Christ in South Sudan. Their outreach method is unique: They are teaching rural villagers tactical marksmanship, water purification, and firefighting skills, free of charge.)

The monocular is one of these. (The same model that we use here at the Rawles Ranch.) These night vision scopes normally retail for around $3,600. (Although Ready Made Resources sells them at the discounted price of $2,695.) This monocular was kindly donated by Ready Made Resources, in cooperation with Night Ops Tactical.

Monday, March 11, 2013

CURRENT BID is $3,900. (Generously bid by Reader M.V.) Hit reload to see any updates to this post made this evening.

This is the last day of the benefit auction of a brand new AN/PVS-14 Gen 3+ Night Vision Scope. All proceeds (100% of your bid) will be donated to C.R.O.S.S. Ministries. (A very worthy Christian ministry that is sharing the Gospel of Christ in South Sudan. Their outreach method is unique: They are teaching rural villagers tactical marksmanship, water purification, and firefighting skills, free of charge.)

The monocular is one of these. (The same model that we use here at the Rawles Ranch.) These night vision scopes normally retail for around $3,600. (Although Ready Made Resources sells them at the discounted price of $2,695.) This monocular was kindly donated by Ready Made Resources, in cooperation with Night Ops Tactical.

Simply e-mail us your bids. I will post regular updates on the bidding. The final deadline will be Midnight EST on Monday, March 11, 2013. Thanks for your generous bids in support of C.R.O.S.S. Ministries.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

CURRENT BID is $3,700 (Bid by Reader M.V.)

Simply e-mail us your bids. I will post regular updates on the bidding. The final deadline will be Midnight EST on Monday, March 11, 2013. Thanks for your generous bids in support of C.R.O.S.S. Ministries.

We are continuing a benefit auction of a brand new AN/PVS-14 Gen 3+ Night Vision Scope. All proceeds (100% of your bid) will be donated to C.R.O.S.S. Ministries. (A very worthy Christian ministry that is sharing the Gospel of Christ in South Sudan. Their outreach method is unique: They are teaching rural villagers tactical marksmanship, water purification, and firefighting skills, free of charge.)

The monocular is one of these. (The same model that we use here at the Rawles Ranch.) These night vision scopes normally retail for around $3,600. (Although Ready Made Resources sells them at the discounted price of $2,695.) This monocular was kindly donated by Ready Made Resources, in cooperation with Night Ops Tactical.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

CURRENT BID is $3,600 (Bid by Reader D.J.G.)

Simply e-mail us your bids. I will post regular updates on the bidding. The final deadline will be Midnight EST on Monday, March 11, 2013. Thanks for your generous bids in support of C.R.O.S.S. Ministries.

We are continuing a benefit auction of a brand new AN/PVS-14 Gen 3+ Night Vision Scope. All proceeds (100% of your bid) will be donated to C.R.O.S.S. Ministries. (A very worthy Christian ministry that is sharing the Gospel of Christ in South Sudan. Their outreach method is unique: They are teaching rural villagers tactical marksmanship, water purification, and firefighting skills, free of charge.)

The monocular is one of these. (The same model that we use here at the Rawles Ranch.) These night vision scopes normally retail for around $3,600. (Although Ready Made Resources sells them at the discounted price of $2,695.) This monocular was kindly donated by Ready Made Resources, in cooperation with Night Ops Tactical.

Friday, March 8, 2013

CURRENT BID is $3,600 (Bid by Reader D.J.G.)

Simply e-mail us your bids. I will post regular updates on the bidding. The final deadline will be Midnight EST on Monday, March 11, 2013. Thanks for your generous bids in support of C.R.O.S.S. Ministries.

We are continuing a benefit auction of a brand new AN/PVS-14 Gen 3+ Night Vision Scope. All proceeds (100% of your bid) will be donated to C.R.O.S.S. Ministries. (A very worthy Christian ministry that is sharing the Gospel of Christ in South Sudan. Their outreach method is unique: They are teaching rural villagers tactical marksmanship, water purification, and firefighting skills, free of charge.)

The monocular is one of these. (The same model that we use here at the Rawles Ranch.) These night vision scopes normally retail for around $3,600. (Although Ready Made Resources sells them at the discounted price of $2,695.) This monocular was kindly donated by Ready Made Resources, in cooperation with Night Ops Tactical.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

CURRENT BID is $3,100 (Bid by Reader M.V.)

Simply e-mail us your bids. I will post regular updates on the bidding. The final deadline will be Midnight EST on Monday, March 11, 2013. Thanks for your generous bids in support of C.R.O.S.S. Ministries.

We are continuing a benefit auction of a brand new AN/PVS-14 Gen 3+ Night Vision Scope. All proceeds (100% of your bid) will be donated to C.R.O.S.S. Ministries. (A very worthy Christian ministry that is sharing the Gospel of Christ in South Sudan. Their outreach method is unique: They are teaching rural villagers tactical marksmanship, water purification, and firefighting skills, free of charge.)

The monocular is one of these. (The same model that we use here at the Rawles Ranch.) These night vision scopes normally retail for around $3,600. (Although Ready Made Resources sells them at the discounted price of $2,695.) This monocular was kindly donated by Ready Made Resources, in cooperation with Night Ops Tactical.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

CURRENT BID is $3,000 (Bid by Reader D.J.G.)

Simply e-mail us your bids. I will post regular updates on the bidding. The final deadline will be Midnight EST on Monday, March 11, 2013. Thanks for your generous bids in support of C.R.O.S.S. Ministries.

We are continuing a benefit auction of a brand new AN/PVS-14 Gen 3+ Night Vision Scope. All proceeds (100% of your bid) will be donated to C.R.O.S.S. Ministries. (A very worthy Christian ministry that is sharing the Gospel of Christ in South Sudan. Their outreach method is unique: They are teaching rural villagers tactical marksmanship, water purification, and firefighting skills, free of charge.)

The monocular is one of these. (The same model that we use here at the Rawles Ranch.) These night vision scopes normally retail for around $3,600. (Although Ready Made Resources sells them at the discounted price of $2,695.) This monocular was kindly donated by Ready Made Resources, in cooperation with Night Ops Tactical.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

CURRENT BID is $3,000 (Bid by Reader D.J.G.)

Simply e-mail us your bids. I will post regular updates on the bidding. The final deadline will be Midnight EST on Monday, March 11, 2013. Thanks for your generous bids in support of C.R.O.S.S. Ministries.

We are continuing a benefit auction of a brand new AN/PVS-14 Gen 3+ Night Vision Scope. All proceeds (100% of your bid) will be donated to C.R.O.S.S. Ministries. (A very worthy Christian ministry that is sharing the Gospel of Christ in South Sudan. Their outreach method is unique: They are teaching rural villagers tactical marksmanship, water purification, and firefighting skills, free of charge.)

The monocular is one of these. (The same model that we use here at the Rawles Ranch.) These night vision scopes normally retail for around $3,600. (Although Ready Made Resources sells them at the discounted price of $2,695.) This monocular was kindly donated by Ready Made Resources, in cooperation with Night Ops Tactical.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Mr. Rawles,
I have, most of the time been proud to be a Canadian. We have our problems, much like other countries, but I'd always believed that our country was one of the best, most free in the world. It both infuriates me and causes me great sadness to write the latter in the past tense. Today I read an article from a news source I have followed for many years and trust implicitly, Lifesitenews.

Essentially, the Supreme Court of Canada has killed freedom of speech and freedom of religion in one fell blow. If we can no longer as Christians be permitted to have beliefs with regards to what actions are right and wrong, and to communicate those beliefs, I have little hope for our society. If calling certain actions sinful is 'hate speech', I fear it won't be long before we see priests, pastors, teachers and parents arrested for speaking their beliefs, even to their own children. And what will happen to these children? I feel betrayed by my country, and furious that almost no one else realizes that we are being betrayed.

My parents home schooled me and my siblings for most of our school years. My brother and his wife home schooled their 9, my wife and I home school our 4, my sister and her husband plan to do likewise. There are other homeschooling families and members of our church who are beginning to wake up, but we are among the few who have not been inculcated. We are a very small minority. I wish I could say otherwise, I wish I could be more hopeful, but there will be no 'Canadian Redoubt', nor any reason for one. Even among the few who can see what is happening, there are fewer yet who are of the belief that anything can be done by citizens. And with that belief, they may be right. We would be as lambs to the proverbial slaughter, being the nail that sticks up, only to be hammered down.

I live in rural Alberta. I love it here. Today I started looking at Montana's home schooling laws and gun laws. I like them, so I started looking at property. I'm a rig welder in the oilfield, and I hear North Dakota is pretty busy now.

Your prayer will be appreciated. I will pray for you and yours. God bless you and keep you - G.L.

Friday, March 1, 2013

CURRENT BID is $3,000 (Bid by Reader D.J.G.)

Simply e-mail us your bids. I will post regular updates on the bidding. The final deadline will be Midnight EST on Monday, March 11, 2013. Thanks for your generous bids in support of C.R.O.S.S. Ministries.

We are continuing a benefit auction of a brand new AN/PVS-14 Gen 3+ Night Vision Scope. All proceeds (100% of your bid) will be donated to C.R.O.S.S. Ministries. (A very worthy Christian ministry that is sharing the Gospel of Christ in South Sudan. Their outreach method is unique: They are teaching rural villagers tactical marksmanship, water purification, and firefighting skills, free of charge.)

The monocular is one of these. (The same model that we use here at the Rawles Ranch.) These night vision scopes normally retail for around $3,600. (Although Ready Made Resources sells them at the discounted price of $2,695.) This monocular was kindly donated by Ready Made Resources, in cooperation with Night Ops Tactical.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

CURRENT BID is $3,000 (Bid by Reader D.J.G.)

Simply e-mail us your bids. I will post regular updates on the bidding. The final deadline will be Midnight EST on Monday, March 11, 2013. Thanks for your generous bids in support of C.R.O.S.S. Ministries.

We are continuing a benefit auction of a brand new AN/PVS-14 Gen 3+ Night Vision Scope. All proceeds (100% of your bid) will be donated to C.R.O.S.S. Ministries. (A very worthy Christian ministry that is sharing the Gospel of Christ in South Sudan. Their outreach method is unique: They are teaching rural villagers tactical marksmanship, water purification, and firefighting skills, free of charge.)

The monocular is one of these. (The same model that we use here at the Rawles Ranch.) These night vision scopes normally retail for around $3,600. (Although Ready Made Resources sells them at the discounted price of $2,695.) This monocular was kindly donated by Ready Made Resources, in cooperation with Night Ops Tactical.

Monday, February 25, 2013

I am blessed. It was very apparent during the trip that I had many people, and people fervently praying for me and that they were praying to a holy and sovereign God who answered. So thank you. And my wife thanks you too!  To elaborate, it was frankly terrifying leaving my family in Idaho and going to a country half way round the world that had so many unknowns and is reported to be overly violent… not knowing if I would come back or not. But we serve an awesome God. In Him I put my trust and got on the plane.

The trip was about three weeks long. I left Boise, Idaho, on January 29th and arrived safely home on February 19th. I went from 20 degree days to 100 degree days in a matter of hours. But I must back up and tell you that the South Sudanese Embassy in D.C. was going to deny my visa application after I bought my plane ticket. It was nearly a miracle that brought me my visa just two days before I got on the plane! This was due to God bringing a wonderful lady from South Sudan (who was in a South Sudanese state government level position – we will call her my “host” in this letter) to assist me in getting my visa and later to introduce me to key figures in South Sudan and help me learn about the country, people, and religious and political situation. Praise God for bringing her to help C.R.O.S.S.!

The trip was a mixture of crazy-busy and almost boring depending on the day. I spent a couple days in Juba, the capitol of South Sudan, walking for hours on end, exploring and experiencing the capitol, registering with the U.S. embassy, and reading. I did a lot of reading. I was blessed to meet a pilot with the Red Cross and a local businessman (from America) who helped take me around town, explain much about Juba and help pass the time.

Upon the arrival of my host in Juba, we then flew north to the town of Aweil in Northern Bahr el Gazahl State (NBG) that is relatively close to the border with Sudan. There I was whisked away by AK-47 toting bodyguards in Land Cruisers to my hotel. Well, that’s what they call it in South Sudan at least. They did have power!… but only at night, the shower was little more than a trickle when it worked (half the days I recall), and I did have a fine luxury, a flush toilet which needed the reservoir to be filled by hand. All this for a low cost of just about $100 USD per night. Of course breakfast was thrown in for free even at that “low” rate… the menu was the same meal for two weeks. LOL!

During my two weeks in Aweil I walked. A lot. That was on the days my host was too busy to introduce me around or take me with her. It was actually for the best. I met shopkeepers and visited the crowded and busy market, took many pictures (did I tell you that a National Security Agent almost confiscated my camera?) of everyday life and was even randomly accosted by a military officer with the UN. Okay, not really accosted but while I was walking through the market a UN vehicle stopped next to me and the driver in military fatigues told me to get in. Ha! Get in a UN vehicle. Right. He told me it was not safe for me in the market. Nice ruse I think, but I get in for some reason. I can only say I felt God wanted me to get in. Here is why: Three times during the trip during one of those “boring” days, I said a simple prayer to God. I asked Him to bring someone or something to me so that the time would be used to the fullest for His glory. Each time I got an answer quickly. So I took a walk in this case and God brought me “O.” He was from El Salvador and a MLO (military liaison officer) with the UN. This led to many introductions, several nights at the UN compound for dinner and good favor with all I met. I learned a tremendous deal about South Sudan and NBG state in particular. God is sovereign.

During many of the other days it was non-stop meeting political figures, “touring” the bush (always a purpose to accomplish though) in a Land Cruiser driving on footpaths and driving on a nearly empty gas tank hours from home. Handing out vitamins to children living in the bush, fixing the Land Cruiser with a Leatherman and 550 parachute cord, and getting lost (I wasn’t driving!) in the dark driving through the bush hours from Aweil seemed to be a normal day. We visited several villages and once saw a 8-10’ long Cobra snake (the driver wouldn’t run it over for some reason) in the road. Aaah, the roads. They are glorious. Not even gravel. Take an American backcountry gravel road with washboards and major potholes and quadruple it… I think we made great time when we traveled 50 miles north in about 2.5 hours.

Near the end of the trip we traveled to a small village for a funeral of a woman who’s daughter had died of cancer. This woman had no hope in Christ and had stopped eating and drinking the day before so that she could join her daughter in death. She had no hope, no reason to live, and no faith in God.  The day before I was to leave Aweil, I met with the representatives from the state’s cripple population. Many had polio (no use of their legs), were blind or had other similarly disabling challenges to face with no hope of a cure or medical help and virtually no job/income prospects. There are thousands in the community. My last day up north before returning to Juba, I was able to do a video interview of Carbino, a man who was kidnapped by the Muslim Janjaweed horsemen that Sudan sponsors (unofficially of course) to rape, burn, pillage and kill. He was kidnapped as a child and escaped three days later, only to return to his village to find it burned, his father murdered, and most of his family, friends and people from his village kidnapped or dead.

The needs in South Sudan are tremendous: physically, spiritually and socially.

The single biggest need is access to safe drinking and cooking water. The norm is to walk miles one way to get 3-5 gallons of relatively safe drinking water from one of the few “bore holes” (hand pumped wells) and walk miles back to repeat the journey the next day. Others walk miles to get firewood to cook with. Wildfires are a constant threat as the local villagers frequently burn the undergrowth away to spur new vegetation growth for the cattle and goats to eat… but leave the fires unattended!

They need teaching. They need pastors. They need materials and discipleship. While NBG is estimated to be 90% Roman Catholic most don’t know the difference between Roman Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, or otherwise. They have so little teaching of any kind, but are eager to hear. The few services are often packed with people outside the huts or buildings for a hundred yards or more! However, there are few services. I met some who have a beautiful and simple faith due to a lack of teaching, but it was still a faith in Christ crucified and resurrected!

Women are eligible to be married once they start their cycle, and men often marry around age 30+ and multiple wives are the norm if you can afford them. Bride prices are high and often the motive behind violent cattle raids on other villages due to bride prices being paid in cattle. Police are often abusive, often beating people and sometimes shooting people, almost always without consequence.

Okay, so you say what is the good news? The good news is that first, God is sovereign, loving, holy, righteous, gracious and able to accomplish His will on this earth! To my great encouragement, the people of NBG in South Sudan know that they do not know! They want help, teaching and mentoring! Sure, some want handouts but most I spoke with want the initial shot in the arm (financially or materially)… but so that they could be self-sufficient. They want education. They want vocational training and are in turn willing to train others. They do not want to be dependent on the outside world for long. The people are almost universally grateful to the U.S.’s role in their independence and respect and love America(ns).

The local government figure I met with who is responsible for the military and police in the region and safety of the border villagers was very favorable to our offer to help in that regard. He is a high ranking General with the SPLA and very much understands the value of training for soldiers and villagers alike. He had previously pushed to get the soldiers’ salaries cut to use it on a training budget but to no avail. Furthermore, he watches internet videos of Americans’ training and wants that training for his soldiers and to help defend the villages and his country. While nothing was made official, I am confident that by the time the Wood family moves to South Sudan, that this will be a significant part of our ministry.

So you say, this trip went far too smoothly and I was blessed with great success in making connections, learning and preparing for a move to the Aweil area. Ah, but there was one bit of “fun.” The day I was to leave Aweil, I was dropped off at the airport (two huts and a World Food Program tent), checked in my baggage (to the back of a Toyota Hilux pickup), and was told to wait three hours under the tree. So I waited. When my plane arrived they loaded my luggage and I proceeded to give my boarding pass to the airline person. But apparently it was not a boarding pass, it was “just” the ticket and I “did not check in,” despite checking in my baggage and being told to wait (I did triple check with others that was all I had to do, BTW). I tried to explain, but to no avail. So my plane left with my baggage (they wouldn’t give it back!) and I was alone at the airport. This led to a bit of frustration at the ridiculousness of the technicality of not getting a boarding pass, but quickly turned to me laughing, thinking, “If this is the worst I’ve had to face, God has indeed blessed this trip!” However, despite my good mood, this inconvenience was not without a ripple-effect. I had to call my new UN contacts to get access to Internet and a good phone (for international calls) so that I could change my flight home that was leaving Juba that I would now not make. Then I had to spend another night in Aweil at the hotel and the next morning ended up being driven a bone-jarring 2.5 hours north to a village where a small Cessna 208B was landing anyway that day, which later in the day flew me back to Juba, where I spent two nights waiting for the next flight out of the country… and from there of course I was able to return to the U.S. (about an additional $800 later.)

My Closing Thoughts
God is indeed great. Simple you say, but this trip went almost too well. However, possibly for the first time in my life, I knew that many people were praying for me. I also had the chance, or more correctly, the motivation and time, to read a huge portion of Scripture. I read 110 chapters of Psalms, all of Romans and all of Acts and selected Proverbs and other New Testament passages. That definitely influenced how I acted and spoke. I prayed like I’ve never prayed before and had a humble boldness that I’ve never had before. I was granted favor before men in a way I could not have pulled off on my own.

A quick lesson learned here: About a week into being in the town of Aweil it finally hit me… I am the only white guy in this whole town. Literally. Now before you say “it took you that long?,” I took that as a good sign, that race wasn’t registered on my radar due to being raised right. We are all made in the image of God regardless of how we look. People are people. That simple. But it did later make me think of something significant. It occurred to me: I am on a different continent, don’t speak the language, can’t run and hide if needed (due to my face), don’t understand much about the culture, don’t have my gun (which I’ve almost never been without for the last 15 years), can’t even tell north without a compass, don’t know where the water holes are, had my phone die on me and even my knife and tomahawk taken from me when the plane left with my luggage and not me. The point is simple. I was stripped to nothing. No familiarities. No comforts. Nothing to trust in or run to… nothing but God and His Word. Let me repeat that. Nothing but God and His Word. Praise God!

While there are many “I” statements in the above, they are all meant to demonstrate how God worked in/through me, not how I did anything of my own nature. Essentially while I’ve had some reservations or doubts along the way, I am now fully confident that God indeed does want us to go to South Sudan for His glory! God is paving the way. God is leading and we will follow.
God made it clear through this trip that C.R.O.S.S.’s plan to help with “water, fire, and security,” will be very well received by the people of South Sudan, and that additionally and more importantly they are spiritually receptive as well. It is encouraging to know that God prepared my background to be able to help with each of the three humanitarian needs C.R.O.S.S. plans on helping with and that they “happen” to be in the top few that South Sudan needs most desperately.

Now I am not ashamed to say we are starting to raise money for the move to, and establishment in, South Sudan. We need a lot of material and financial support to make this move and solidly establish C.R.O.S.S. Ministries with a firm foundation to be effective in our ministry and Lord willing, growing the ministry to other regions of South Sudan! To that end we ask for your material and financial support as God moves you to support us. You can find more info/updates (and lots of pictures, thoughts, and news added often) on our web site: or on our new Facebook page. (Please share these URLs with everyone you know!)

Again, a humble thank-you to those of you who helped make this financially possible and a sincere thank you to those of you who prayed for the outcome of this trip to the end of glorifying God!

Today we begin a benefit auction of a brand new AN/PVS-14 Gen 3+ Night Vision Scope. All proceeds (100% of your bid) will be donated to C.R.O.S.S. Ministries. (A very worthy Christian ministry that is sharing the Gospel of Christ in South Sudan. Their outreach method is unique: They are teaching rural villagers tactical marksmanship, water treatment, and firefighting skills, free of charge.)

The monocular is one of these. (The same model that we use here at the Rawles Ranch.) These night vision scopes normally retail for around $3,600. (Although Ready Made Resources sells them at the discounted price of $2,695.) This monocular was kindly donated by Ready Made Resources, in cooperation with Night Ops Tactical.

Here are the Specifications

  • Generation 3+

Here are Included Accessories:

  • Picatinny Rail Weapons Mount
  • Military Soft Case (Olive Drab Nylon)
  • Shutter Eye Cup
  • Headmount
  • Brow Pads
  • Transfer Arm
  • Shoulder Strap
  • Sacrificial Window
  • Demist Shield
  • Lens Tissue
  • Lanyard
  • Objective Lens Cover
  • Ops Manual
  • AA Battery

Simply e-mail us your bids. I will post regular updates on the bidding. The final deadline will be Midnight EST on Monday, March 11, 2013. Thanks for your generous bids in support of C.R.O.S.S. Ministries.

CURRENT HIGH BID is $3,000 (Bid by Reader D.J.G.)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Hello James,
Over the last number of months I have really enjoyed reading articles on your survivalblog.  I like to thank you for all the good and commonsense information.
What are your thoughts on joining the army?  I have a 16 year old son who has his mind set on joining the Canadian armed forces.

I like the fact that he is willing to serve his country, but as a Christian is it wise to expose yourself willingly to crude and foul language and other foul behavior. I spoke to a Canadian veteran and told me that you are as a Christian on an ''island'' on your own with few exceptions. (Those who claim to be Christian but their daily living shows otherwise).
With all the developments in your country (police state? financial collapse?) Canada is surely not far behind. Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Regards., K.

JWR Replies: That is a tough question.  But I do have some recommendations.

First, he should be at least 19 and well-grounded as a mature Christian before he enlists.  Younger and less discerning recruits are more likely to succumb to peer pressure and fall into sinful, self-destructive patterns.

Canada announced the end of combat operations in Afghanistan in 2011, but there are still about 1,000 Canadian troops there--mainly trainers for the Afghan army.  Deployments to Afghanistan are still a possibility if you son goes active duty.

I'd recommend that your son join the Army Reserve, directly.  This way he will get the same valuable training that he would receive as an active duty soldier, but he'll be safer and probably happier. The Reserve units probably won't get called up in the event of a major economic collapse. And even if they do, they will probably stay close to home.

Do some checking and find out the branch specialty of your local Reserve unit.  If it is not Infantry or Transportation, then he'll probably be quite safe, even if his unit unexpectedly mobilizes and deploys to Afghanistan (or elsewhere.)

If he finds that he really enjoys it, then your son can always transition of active duty, later.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

This article will have little effect on the scoffer, whether a survivalist or not, but is directed toward the Christian who is also conscious of the value of preparation and the duty to provide for family in survival circumstances. It may also be effective for the mind a person who knows little of God but is open to investigate His existence. It is what God has laid on my heart as I read through the great articles and letters here in this forum. Keep up the good work. What I sense though, myself included, is that we, as humans, sometimes get too excited about details at the expense of the greater ideals. We tend to worry and live in fear which is sin.

First of all, what is a Christian?  

There are a lot people who profess to be a Christian, but there are a lot of different beliefs that people have.
A Christian trust in Jesus: that His blood sacrifice forgives our sins, covers our iniquity, justifies our coming into the presence of God, and secures for us eternal life.
"This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” John 17:3
Eternal life is to know God. To truly know someone means that you must live in an interactive relationship with them. How true this is. You truly don’t know someone until you live with them. To truly know God is to live interacting with Him.
We are adopted as children of God, we are co-heirs with Christ. We are to interact with God as our Father and as full members of His family. Being a co-heir carries with it responsibility and thankfulness.

Now, to be a Christian you must believe that the Bible is inerrant, infallible, and inspired by God (Holy Spirit) in its original form. This is a key factor; yet, many who claim to be Christian do not hold this view which leaves them to arrange their idea of reality and truth as they see fit, not as God has revealed. Without a proper belief in Scripture, people, essentially, create a new belief system, a new religion. The Bible is not merely a set of Laws and fantastic stories; but, as I said above, it is a revelation from God. The Bible reveals Laws that reveal what God cares about and what His character is like. The Bible is a whole work, and bits and pieces cannot be disregarded while others are accepted without changing the whole revelation; this is removing from authority God-breathed Scripture to usurp authority for your own. There are interpretive difficulties in Scripture and disagreements regarding meaning (which we must make every attempt to get right through reason, study, debate, and prayer), but for the most part what God is revealing to us in Scripture is plain and effective. The basic truth of God’s character and what He cares about is clear. What God, the only true and Living God – Creator of all things – expects from us is clear. The Father blesses us as He reveals to us what we can and need to know. Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us to love Him by being obedient. The Holy Spirit lives in us and guides us in our relationship.
The Christian is called to rectitude, repentance, and revival. Conformity with your heart in it.

As Christians we are called to:
People will let us down, we should not expect otherwise. God is the only truly reliable promise keeper. This being true does not mean that we as Christians shouldn’t make every effort to be like God. Even though people let us down we must not become cynical and hopeless. In Christ people can be transformed. What we should do is allow God to transform us into disciples.
-Peace and contentment
Christians should be at peace and joyful in all circumstances. It is a sin to worry. It is a sin to be greedy. It is a sin to be selfish.

-At one with Creation
Christians are reinstated as stewards of God’s garden, all creation. We were made for that duty which is to our pleasure.

-Mark of a Christian – LOVE
If you can get a copy of “The Mark of a Christian” by Francis Schaeffer please do read it through carefully. Love is the mark that proclaims the truth of the Gospel to the world, the fruit of righteousness. When Christians love one another as Christ tells us to, with agape love, then the world knows that He truly is Christ. What a huge responsibility; what a great privilege.

-Trust God
As Christians we trust God through all circumstances. We do all things for the glory of God because we know through faith and experience that God is faithful. There is a Hebrew word that I love; hesed, which is translated in different ways with difficulty because there is no English word to do it justice. The NRSV translates it lovingkindness. This word has as part of its rich meaning the idea that the strong party in a relationship does whatever is needed to help the weaker party make the relationship successful. We can trust that God works in our life with unlimited power and perfect love regardless of how it may seem.

“Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.”  - Hebrews 12:28-29 

-3 Ideals the Christian survivalist should live by:

Matthew 6:19-21
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

This does not mean that we are not to prepare and store things up that we need. Jesus is saying that we should be more concerned about spiritual treasure than earthly treasure. In the Eastern culture who was the audience fine linens (moth) and coins (rust) were the treasures, the wealth of the day. People put their trust in these perishable things instead of God. The things were not the problem but what their hearts treasured. I really like my SCAR 17, but I treasure my relationship with God.

As we prepare for survival scenarios we must not forget that God is in control; God is sovereign! We must not forget that we have eternal life; we will live with God’s family forever. We must not forget to love God above all and love our neighbors as we do ourselves (God values every life). 

"This is the great and foremost commandment.
"On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."         Matthew 22:37-40

To clarify, (we must always seek clarity of terms, people use words that we think we understand, but of which they have totally different meaning, i.e.: “Christian”), what does Jesus mean by love? We turn to Scripture. A good rule of Biblical interpretation is that “Scripture interprets Scripture”.

“…earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”       (1Corinthians 12:31-13:7)

Love is about humbly serving others, self-sacrifice; without love as a motive, what we do is nothing. Yet, if I do love God in the Biblical sense I have great rewards and benefits. I am transformed into a joyful, complete, mature, secure, and strong person. This happens when I experience eternal life (interactive relationship with God), know God. Then I am able to truly love others as myself (because I do love myself in the Biblical sense). There is a proper order here for success in the Christian life; love God, love others.

Matthew 20:25-28
“But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’"

As we prepare we do it with the intention of being community leaders. Christian leaders are servants who love. Our whole life is to worship God. “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2). We prepare to represent and worship God through any disaster or “crunch” situation. Circumstances never change our responsibilities as co-heirs with Christ. We should include in our prepping: insight, investment, and labor in order to help meet community needs. We should be prepared to help victims and those less capable to prepare.

Matthew 28:19-20
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

As Christians all are days are filled with the intention to share with others the Gospel. We are to always be prepared to teach those who seek answers (make disciples). As we prepare our cache of supplies, let us include resources for evangelism and discipleship. Let us include resources for our own personal study and growth. Along with my cases of ammo I should have cases of Bibles and Christian books. We should maintain resources that will help us to maintain solid doctrine and good theology. Keep sets of sermons by your favorite preachers; get all the G. Campbell Morgan you can get!

Survival is important. As Christians we are guaranteed survival. Still, God expects His faithful followers to be His remnant when society crumbles. We are to remain in Him through all circumstances. God makes His appeal to the lost through His people by showing them their great need of Him, there needs to be freed from the slavery of sin, by the lure of love; it is God alone who can save them, redeem them, but He uses us to bring them to see their need and turn to Him. It is the Christian who preaches and serves as we abide in Christ love.

There is so much more that could be said, but I think this is enough to ponder for now. I would love to hear how you personally apply these ideals as Christian “preppers” and survivalist.

For the Christian living in faith is survival at its best, the best we can do toward survival is to live in faith. Let us plan accordingly. Let us plan according to God’s Word, the Bible. Let us plan in accordance with Biblical love as a Church and as evangelist. 

I'll close with a new acronym for SurvivalBloggers to ponder: Forsaking All I Trust Him (FAITH)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Occam’s Razor is a notion that among opposing hypotheses, the one that makes the fewest assumptions should be selected as most likely. For example, if you come home and find that next to an open window your floor is wet, it is a better assumption that it rained while you were away then the conclusion your neighbor came over flung a bucket of water in your house. This same concept applies not only to beliefs, but also our actions, and should be considered pre- and post-TEOTWAWKI.

Bear with me for a moment as I set a baseline. If I had a special camera recording everything I’ve done and thought in my life, heck even the last week, and it was made into a short film of the highlights and low lights and was then broadcasted to friends, family, or even strangers, I would run away in embarrassment. If you’re honest with yourself, you’re in the same boat as I, not by nature a good person who deserves God’s mercy, but actually deserve his wrath. God is love, and is uncompromisingly just; he has to punish those like myself who have lied, stolen, looked with lust, used his name as a swear word, etc, etc. Only a corrupt judge would let someone as guilty as I go free without payment.

Only when we understand this can we understand the cross! Christ literally took the wrath of God that we deserve upon himself (See Isaiah 53).  He literally took the penalty I deserve, but as a sinful man could never pay for. When He opens our spiritual eyes to that reality, repentance and faith are a natural reaction of gratitude, not as something done to earn favor, but as a reaction to His unmerited grace.  And God’s purpose in all that we and the entire universe experiences, is to bring Glory to Himself, mainly through the person of Christ Jesus.  When it comes down to it, He truly deserves the rewards of His suffering.  I don’t deserve anything except His divine judgment, and he amazingly gives me the opposite! Adopted into the family of God instead of remaining a child of wrath…truly a gracious God!

So back to my main point of this article; the end all be all, is the Glory of Christ, He deserves it, and quite honestly it is also for our best. You see, when we do what is right in His eyes, things go better for us even in this temporal world. Lying, stealing, cheating, drunkenness, argumentative, lacking mercy for others, boasters, selfishness …they all get us in trouble. Growing in virtue has its rewards and closeness to God, its pursuit is what brings true happiness. Sadly the pursuit of happiness for many is the opposite of virtue; it’s just doing what feels good in the moment, and leads to heart ache and of course eternal consequences. God will not be mocked – he knows who have come to Him for a “get out of jail free” card, and those who truly understand they deserve His punishment and live accordingly out of the grace and faith he bestows on them in their understanding.

Whatever our decision when it comes to what we do, the question we should ask ourselves when we have more than one option, is which one will bring the most honor to Christ. The most logical option when it comes to how we interpret scripture and our doctrinal understanding; is which conclusion brings the most glory to Christ. Christ’s Razor if you will. For example: Does it bring more glory to Christ if us doing good helps us gain acceptance into heaven, or does it bring Him more honor that he paid fully for our sin and our works are because of His amazing grace? Which gives Him more glory, us choosing Christ, or Him choosing us? Does it bring Him more glory for us to share our faith without using words (Gandhi actually said this), or to also verbally share the Truth of Christ’s amazing mercy to those who are perishing?

“The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself nor less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less." - Tim Keller

So moving this into a TEOTWAWKI situation, for me this has major implications on our choices to bug in, bug out, our charity to others, how our preparations affect our current lifestyle, and how we should prepare spiritually for the hardship that is coming.  Is our goal is to merely survive the coming collapse or should we use it to grow closer to God? Charles Spurgeon once said, “When you get bitter waters…do not throw a drop of it away, for that is the water you have yet to drink. Accept your afflictions. They are a part of your education." You see our character grows when we are faced with trials, not when everything is going good in our own eyes.

Everyone personally needs to come to their own conclusion about each of the many issues we will each face, but I’d like to share our personal conclusions on a few based on the aforementioned Truth:

  1. What is our main purpose in life prior to and after TEOTWAWKI? My conclusion is that my primary goal pre or post TEOTWAWKI no matter my financial situation, job, health, etc. should be to preach the word in season and out of season. Sharing the Truth of Christ is not just for Pastors (which I am not); it is for all believers in Christ, pre and post TEOTWAWKI! If we understand what Christ has paid for on our behalf, how can we possibly stay silent to those who need saved from their sin against a Holy God? If Christ truly has changed your life, if your not coming to Him for selfish reasons (to simply avoid Hell or Go to Heaven), then you have Faith you are certain of, a Hope that is sure of what you know. Sharing our faith in Christ is not hard; there are many resources out there to get you started. My absolute favorite is There is a video on the bottom of the main page called “Hell’s Best Kept Secret” that will radically change your view of our Christian witness.
  2. Bug In or Bug out? Now I may be wrong, but I believe most ‘Survivalist’ who read this blog has the same primary goal whether bugging in or out – and that is to survive.  If the news of Christ is true, and it’s changed your life, you know the meaning of life is the glorification of Christ, and to die is actually gain. I’m not suggesting at all that we not try and survive, but the biblical mindset the purpose of surviving is to share Christ with others by our actions and words. Whether we see it or not, God always turns bad situations into good for those who love Him (see Romans 8). I am convinced that when false foundations (money, job, family, and even religiosity) crumble, the Truth of Christ, the only firm foundation will be sought and found, Christ will be glorified in our struggles! We live on almost 10 acres (mainly wooded) surrounded by farm land, but only 30 minutes from a fairly large city. Our family has personally decided to bug in as we feel this will give us the best opportunity to fulfill what God has called us to do. Christ being glorified comes higher then mere survival, living another day.
  3. Security – Jesus Himself stated, “let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one” (Luke 22:36).  Self defense is biblical; Jesus was not only for it but also for the protection of others.  If a group of rapists and murders take out your family because you are unarmed and/or unprepared, you are also responsible for the blood of the next family they attack. We will fight not because we want to kill, but because we want to protect life.
  4. Survival Group – Does everyone in the group need to have the same conviction about the primary purposes of the group? First, we have decided our bug-in location is to be run, at least initially, by a leadership team of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs).  A leadership group that does hold to the same core beliefs. Others will be allowed in the group who do disagree on the primary goals of the group, they will however be expected to adhere to certain codes of ethics, responsibilities, and even attitudes. My goal of course will also be to try and win them over to the Truth; by my actions, logic, and sound doctrine. But only God, the Holy Spirit can ever change someone's heart.
  5. Mental - We will be a group of Prayer; a group that makes studying God’s word a priority. We experience the most personal growth when we go through trials. Let’s make the best of it and allow Christ to conform us closer to His image. Adaptability, Focus. May sound minor, but one attitude we will insist on is, consistent complaining is not acceptable. If you have a complaint you must present at least one viable option. Complaining is a form of self righteousness and coveting; not being grateful of God’s rich mercy when we rightly deserve His wrath.

There are plenty of other areas we could discuss, but the foundation of all remains the same. Now is the time to get your spiritual house in order. In Mathew 7 Christ says that “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven…And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’… everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” Phillipians 2, “work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

Sunday, November 25, 2012

SurvivalBlog has always suggested if not promoted having a Christ-centered spiritual focus, and my wife and I had that focus even before the writing on the wall became clear and we started prepping. We're in our 50s now and have attended church for the most part since we were kids, and have a personal relationship with our savior Jesus. I like reading the thoughts of other posters as they prep, and their spiritual questions. Is it trusting to prepare? Will not God take care of us whatever may come? What role does God play in the events that are unfolding? Very interesting and thought provoking. There are many difficult questions I cannot answer, but I can answer YES to the question, Is God good? That answer, based on decades of experience walking with Jesus, calms my soul, restores my joy, and helps me understand that this world is not the final stop on my trip through eternity.

We have traveled to other continents, and have seen Christians in third world countries, in person and through video. We have talked to many other Christian people who have traveled the world, and the stories they tell of God's love, work and faithfulness are astounding. We are seeing such things here in our corner of America as well, including healings, and people having spiritually meaningful dreams and visions. To use a C.S. Lewis line," Aslan is on the move", and it is so exciting.

When we see Christians in poor nations worshipping our Father, there is a genuineness and sincerity that is riveting. Most often, they are in humble circumstances, gathering in an old building, or a cinder block structure they constructed, or simply outdoors. But their surroundings make no difference as they worship in Spirit and in truth. Those images are mostly in stark contrast to the comfort in which we worship in the US. I've heard Christians say that our comfort zones are actually spiritual prisons, and that's a big part of the lukewarm impotence of Christianity in America today.

All this has got me thinking about what happens after the crash, regarding our fellowship, worship, and work as Christians. Let's take a look at that. What could happen?

The church today is defined mainly by economic and statistical measures, not spiritual. Take a representative yet fictional church, managed by Pastor Reverend Dr. Theodore Lexicon. Pastor Lexicon has a PhD from a well respected seminary, all the right connections on LinkedIn, and can read New Testament Greek as easily as the menu at Denny's. He has a staff of ten, and a hundred fifty deacons populating 15 committees in charge of all the business of the church. Around him he has an inner circle of ten elders who make all the decisions, and decisions they do make, with there being not much hint of dissension. As far as the American church goes, they are on the straight and narrow, getting the job done, preaching the gospel and paying the mortgage. Oh, and I forgot to mention that their numbers are growing to such an extent that the obligatory Planning Committee has been formed to explore future real estate growth options.

You have the picture. Perhaps you are a member at Pastor Lexicon's church today? The question is, what happens to the church after the crash, or in the run-up to the crash?

Today, many groups are using the fictitious 'constitutional separation of church and state' to attack Christianity. Not Islam, but Christianity. That's another discussion, but there are factions in the government who are sympathetic to this attack. Both Obama and Hillary have used the term, "Freedom of Worship," to refer to our rights under the first amendment. Think about that term for a while. Freedom of worship is what they had in the USSR under communism. There was a state sponsored or sanctioned church, with violently proscribed limits of behavior. Citizens could go worship as they pleased, but there was no freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, spiritual freedom. The vocabulary is already being tested for changes here in the US.

This wall of separation argument will be the basis for any attack on the church. And the attack can be simple. Look at the amount of church real estate held in any decent sized jurisdiction in the US. Many of those parcels were purchased 100 years ago and have now been encompassed by urban and suburban sprawl, to the point that their land is worth millions. Churches do not pay property taxes. There have been noises already that this is an unfair act on the part of government favoring religion. Look for that to change.

Since the Obama Depression started, many churches have lost the ability to pay their mortgages and/or staff and have gone under. Imagine the carnage when the US, state, and local governments realize all the money they are leaving on the table by not charging churches property tax.

I don't expect this will happen while things are relatively calm, but in the midst of other economic disasters (US bond default, hyperinflation, 40% unemployment), such a tax levy would sail through any legislative body.

The net result of this tax would be the prompt (12 months?) forfeiture of 75% of church properties in the US.

That's one scenario. For another, consider the outbreak of violence, or incapacitation of our power grid, even for a few weeks. Churchgoers would stay home, the church mortgage would go unpaid, and the end would come swiftly. Pastors check winter weather forecasts and pray for clear skies on Saturday night, to miss not one Sunday's offering. Imagine six weeks of missed Sunday offerings? The Body of Christ is in debt to bankers and lawyers, but I digress.

Regardless the mechanism, you see that it's at least plausible that national disaster will spell the end to the megachurch and even the kilochurch. What happens then?

In that case, a bunch of people would simply fall away. Like it or not, many people go to church because 1) their parents did, 2) it's good for the children, 3) it's a good social experience, 4) attendance is mandated by their social circle, etc. In my experience, there are many who are open to an experience with God, but they are not seeking it, and will not step outside their comfort zones to get it. Sadly, this describes some church staff as well. Given the slightest danger in attending church, either physical or via government intimidation, many will simply disappear.

The rest, optimistically 15 or 20% (?), will seek to continue their relationship to other Christians, and continue the work that God has prepared in advance for them to do. Let's focus on them now.

With no brick and mortar church building to meet within, what will these people do? I believe that they will meet in their homes, or in unofficial church locations. Some degree of stealth will be required for sure, as even today localities are using zoning ordinances to prevent Christians from meeting in their homes.

If you do an internet search on 'home church', you will find a small, yet vibrant movement of Christians already meeting at home, or in small rented spaces. Many of these people became disillusioned with Church, Inc., that is, big business church, led by people such as Pastor Lexicon. They left that, bumped into other Christians of like mind, and naturally gathered in groups in the only place they had, at home. People in home churches whom I have met understand the difficulties with large church organizations, but do not dwell on the negatives, rather are pushing forward in the Kingdom of God, studying, preaching, discipling, loving, and serving.

I have mentioned the fact that I attend a home church to a few pastors. Some react badly, obviously feeling threatened. I did not understand this at first. Then I got a view of a typical modern church, which consists of Sunday services as usual, but perhaps dozens of home groups meeting all around the region, with 10-20 people apiece. Imagine some small issue blowing up in such a church, as happens from time to time. Could be a budget issue or a personality problem. In short order, 10 home groups could split off, become home churches (what do we need a seminary graduate pastor for anyway?), and the originating church would be devastated. I think that is at least the source of some pastoral consternation regarding home church.

So, if you are now preparing in the areas of bean, bullets, and band-aids, why not spiritually? I'm not suggesting in the least that you abandon your Sunday, Church, Inc. experience, any more than a prepper should abandon shopping at the grocery in favor of making his own toilet paper. Take all the good while you can. Pastor Lexicon needs all the good Christians around him he can get, if he's ever going to see the light!

I am suggesting that you should seek out like minded Christians, and form a home group, or study group, or Tuesday morning coffee and prayer group, as a basis for continuity of fellowship after the crash, or after the government fires your pastor and takes your property.

I'm involved in several groups, including a men's group, Sunday home church, a couple groups of people who serve the poor in our community, and prison ministry. I know more Christians today than I ever knew as a pew warmer in Church, Inc. If something happens, I can quickly reach out to others, to help them and to receive help if needed. If I have a problem and need prayer, I have a network of literally hundreds of people I have prayed with before to come to my aid. These are not just people I have passed in the caverns of the church building, but my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Likely you are already in a home group and have a small set of loving connections to other Christians. Build on that. Volunteer to help the poor in your area. You will find the most loving, merciful, compassionate people serving there. You will find that because unmerciful, legalistic, cold Christians naturally sequester themselves inside church buildings! That leaves the Christlike ones to minister in the community. Build bonds of love to your fellow Christians, and bring others into the family. The Body of Christ is a miraculous and beautiful thing. Let's be sure it is not decimated by the evil schemes of evil men after the crash!

As a project, do some research on Christians in oppressive countries, like China. You will find that they have no buildings, no staff, no budget, no constitutional protection, and no constitution! But their lives in Christ are beautiful! Our country is headed in that direction, and we can continue to be headed toward Jesus as a Church, if we prepare.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

SurvivalBlog readers and brothers and sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ, Greetings!
My wife, Dania, has always desired in her heart to be a missionary. Until recently, I did not. Yet here I find myself publicly announcing to the readers of SurvivalBlog that God has sovereignly led us down a path, which clearly points to us becoming full time missionaries for our Lord Jesus Christ, in South Sudan.

Growing up, Dania read many of the famous missionary stories and felt God would likely lead her to the mission field one day too. Me? I didn’t read many of the missionary stories and couldn’t even name most of them, but knew missions were a worthy Biblical command and thus prayerfully and financially supported missions over the years (and presently do). But Dania and I shared this in common about our views on missionary work: we both knew that if we were to ever be sent to the mission field, that it would likely be to a harsh and remote place.

So what changed in me that I’m now eager to serve on the mission field, teaching the Reformed Doctrines of Grace? Simply put, God started me down this path without me knowing it about a year ago, working within my nature to guide me to the realization that this is where He wants Dania and me. A key part of this path was Jim Rawles’ posting here on SurvivalBlog: How You Can Help Defend South Sudan back in March, 2012. Another SurvivalBlog post, Learning From Extreme Missionaries, by Chuck Holton contributed significantly to the overall picture God was painting. It also led me and my wife to very helpful advice and mentoring from some wonderful fellow Christians who helped mold this plan into what it is now: God willing, a plan that will magnify His name and spread the Gospel of Christ! Each step of the way, God sovereignly directed me, corrected me and guided me and my wife. Praise God, for without Him I am nothing!

Please see the Christian Reformed Outreach, South Sudan (C.R.O.S.S.) web site for more details on the country of South Sudan, their desperate need for the Gospel and basic humanitarian assistance and our plan (and doctrinal statement) to help with both needs. There is more on how you can help us defend the weak and helpless, and most importantly to assist us in spreading the love and knowledge of Christ’s saving work on the cross and resurrection from the dead! - Micah Wood

JWR Adds: C.R.O.S.S. Ministries plans to support Micah's first trip to South Sudan, early in 2013. I have begun sponsoring C.R.O.S.S. Ministries with monthly support, and I strongly encourage SurvivalBlog readers to do likewise. All donations are tax deductible. (Begin your donations before December 31st to take a deduction for this tax year.) They also take donations via PayPal--either as a one-time donation, or as ongoing monthly support donations. And even if you can't spare a dime, please pray fervently for the people of South Sudan. Also pray that the government of South Sudan will be receptive to this unique ministry and that Micah will get in-country and start training villagers as soon as possible. I also encourage corporate sponsors to donate cash or field gear. Or, they could create "Buy One, Give One" (BOGO) gear, so that one item is donated to C.R.O.S.S. for distribution in South Sudan for each item purchased by a customer here in the States.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Huey F. makes some excellent points in his article.  I would just like to add the caveat that not everyone who claims to be a Christian really is one.  We have been burned twice in the last several years by people who we thought were Christian brothers and sisters who turned out to be wolves in sheep's clothing.  Due diligence is necessary, especially if you're going to be living with someone.  Just because a mouse is in the cookie jar, it doesn't make him a cookie.  And thanks, JWR, for all you do.  Sincerely, - Barbara in Tennessee

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Lately I have begun speaking, teaching, and writing on topics such as How To Eat An Acorn; Ancient Food Preservation Methods Today; Permaculture, How and Why; and Edible Common Landscape Plants. I have also been writing on Christian Culture, and various things concerning our time, from first-hand experience. In 1999, we suddenly became aware of Y2K.  We had a two-year old child, and were horrified [at the prospect of a power grid collapse.] I borrowed from my Dad to get out of bank debt, and sold antiques in order to stock up on foods and other items that made me feel prepared, but which I wouldn’t bother with now. Y2K was a wake-up call for us, as it was for so many; we gave up gluten and casein and white sugar a few years later.  We have continued to grow healthier, more energetic and alert, even as we age chronologically. Our family menu and lifestyle have changed steadily, conforming more closely to what is prudent; surprisingly, we are more and more happy and zestful, as our bodies become ever more able and healthy!

We have family prayer every evening, go to Mass in the morning, and do not have television service.  We read books, many of them not novels but “how-to” books.  Some of us learn new skills, other practice the ones they are perfecting. We buy well-made, name-brand, modest, classic clothing used, and wear it for years.  (Underwear and socks, and a lot of the shoes, are new.) We drive older vehicles; we have gotten gluten and casein and chemicals out of our diet entirely. We grow a lot of edibles here, and often buy high-quality foods like raw honey and organic fruit with the money we don’t spend on medical bills and pharmaceuticals.  But most importantly, in the time since the Y2K scare, we have been set free from fear, by having long trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ and by walking in the way He has shown us.  We are ready to live unto Christ and to die unto Him, in His good time; we have seen for ourselves that the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him.  We have been led and protected.

 But even so, I am afraid! My fear is for the many, who continue to “prep” by buying the indicated items and attending seminars and classes like mine, and by reading Survivalblog entries.  I am afraid for the vast majority of folks who call themselves Christians, and are unloving, distrustful, and prone to avarice; those who are priming themselves for violence with violent reality television and video games; I am afraid for those who think they are ready for anything, because they have guns and ammo and a stack of MREs, and plan to fall back on the oak tree in the yard, for acorns and squirrel meat.

Let’s take that scenario, and see how full of holes it is; and we will explore the remedy.  You live in a small subdivision in the suburbs; or in a condo in the city, it doesn’t matter. Perhaps the Powers That Be (PTB) have begun a Search And Seizure of all guns and ammo from the homes of citizens. There is a new version of “Angry Birds” out,  created to help the PTB to target people just like you.  In the wake of violence following the cessation of “dole” by the PTB, people have looted, murdered, and rioted nationwide, and we now have Martial Law.  The PTB wants total power; which means, they are the only entity with guns and food stores.  Fresh water and food supplies are trucked into your area regularly, but ongoing conditions of scarcity cause even your good neighbor to “tweet” you to the authorities (for a reward) and they come, suddenly, to seize your supplies. Many people have told me that this is not going to happen to them; that they have guns and know how to use them.  But don’t underestimate the forces arrayed against you; (think Waco, Texas.)  So, gone are the MREs and the guns and ammo; gone even the knives, bow and arrows, and  medical supplies.  You have been labeled a “Hoarder” and are now an irritant [or criminal] in the public eye.  Hungry people are watching you closely, hoping to get some information that will earn them points in the “Birds” game, points they can exchange for  special luxuries, like a box of Cheese Nips or some peanut butter.  Everyone is hungry, angry, fearful, and on their guard; nobody feels well, because they are making do with substitute meds and bad food, given out by the PTB.

Well, you didn’t really want to have to do it, but those squirrels and acorns are starting to look pretty good.  You know how to make a snare, for when the squirrels show up in force.  It is August; there should be some acorns on the tree already.  (Did you know that you can pick green ones?  They are not poisonous; keep them until they are brown and easy to peel (a few days)  and crack and peel the nut, then soak.

Look at the Oaks, in August; what kind of harvest is it going to be? Oak trees do not have regular cycles of production, but a “masting cycle” (large harvest) only every fifth or sixth year. Most folks know that acorns have to be leached of their tannins before you can eat them. There are two ways, the quick/hot way, and the slow/cool.  For the first one, either use two pots of boiling water, and pour the peeled acorn pieces/meal into one until the water turns brown, on the heat; then quickly strain and dump immediately into the second pot of boiling water, and then refill the first and bring it to the boil, alternating, until the water no longer turns brown.  If you let the acorn cool before the boiling out of the tannins is accomplished, the tannins will be permanently heat-locked into the acorn, and you may as well throw it away, unless the process is close to done; so this is not something to do without adequate time, safety, and water, even though it is the quicker method.

 The other way is to soak the acorn meal or pieces in a mesh bag in a stream or pond; or in a container, changing the water as it darkens, until it stays clear. Acorns store, whole in the shell, for years, after gentle drying out of the sun until they rattle when shaken. For storage, coat lightly with diatomaceous earth and store in metal or off the ground, so rodents won’t get them. Many foods can be made from nothing but acorns  (Bread, “oakmeal”, oil, flour for pancakes, “nuts” and “olives”) – if you know how, and have the right equipment. What simple tools and experience do you need; do you have them?  The only way to find out is to act now!  Yesterday, I drove to the Wal-Mart while my child was with her math tutor.  I noticed a Red Oak (big, oil-rich acorns!) on public land that was masting; the nuts completely covered the ground.  I parked close by, prayed fervently that I would not be molested and would be a sign to the wise to do likewise; then I took out my little small (hazelnut-size) long-handled nut-roller and a large, flexible-plastic lug with two handles, and started harvesting, standing comfortably and collecting large amounts quickly.  In 40 minutes, I had collected 75 or 80 pounds of acorns, pouring them into large containers in my Tahoe as the carrier filled.  I was out of there in no time, with a lot of acorns, because I had tools and some experience. It was a learning experience for me, as I ended up with blisters inside my thumbs from vigorous use of the nut-roller without work gloves.  (Even though I have been collecting and using acorns for years now, I forgot to pack an important piece of equipment; and it was a stress-free day, not TEOTWAWKI!)

Arriving home, I dumped everything into a cattle-trough full of rainwater, and discarded everything that floated.  (There are worms inside many of the acorns, especially those that fall early.  The holes you see are from the emergence of the mature grub; before then, the acorn will float, as does an old, empty shell) Now my acorns are drying safely indoors.  They will keep a long time in shell, since tannic acid, the very component creating acorns’ bitterness, is a preservative. (In fact, because of the tannins, you do not need to worry about spoilage of acorns that are leaching in water, even if they have been soaking a long time!  ) If you have chickens, or if you like to eat insects and worms, you may keep the floating stuff, after drying, in a bucket for a while.  Check the bottom in 4 or 5 days; it will be crawling with useful, delicious food.  (If you don’t need to use these, please destroy them.)

But, back to our scenario: perhaps it is not a masting year, for your oak tree; and besides, everyone is picking up those acorns. The Powers That Be (PTB) are evacuating the neighborhood, aged and infirmed people first.  Many homes are empty; who will they come for, next?  You decide to “bug out” at least for the time being. Fortunately, there are all sorts of items the PTB have not taken, all over the house.  Because you have been living the “readiness lifestyle”, you know just which items to bring, and how to rig up a backpack for everyone (the PTB have taken everything you had ready, since you were Hoarding and they need you to Share.)  Everyone is, as usual, feeling fine; nobody has allergies that are very bad, or any kind of gastrointestinal trouble, because you have been following a strict gluten-free, casein-free diet for years now.  You are trim and in shape, because of said diet and the lack of a television; and because you are always busy, in healthy ways.

  The “busy” that is widespread now, like a wasting disease of the soul, is the opposite kind. Like gerbils on a wheel, so many people are caught up in empty, self-gratifying activities. A people that are subclinically ill, because of the dead/processed/junk diet, and grouchily assert their rights to an evening of “chilling” in front of a screen, after a meal of something easy to prepare, are a vulnerable people, a bunch of house pets unfit for life outside of a cage.  And our only survival is in getting, and staying, free.

Perhaps you are ahead of things, and have a great number of hidden food plants in your yard.  You decide to dig up and harvest some stuff to take with you…As we said, it is August.  You will take some Yellow Asphodel and skirret roots, and some Jerusalem Artichoke tubers; you dig up some oca plants (later in the year you would just take the tubers) as well as scorzonera and crosnes tubers; throw in a bunch of potatoes. All of this to transplant, and not, unless absolutely necessary, to eat. (Or, leave everything undisturbed, hoping that no one will be able to identify your garden plants as food; hope to be able to return, once the neighborhood is emptied.)  I have a feeling, though, that there will be mechanical watchdogs all around, and that return will be impossible if you live near a city.

Go to the freezer and get out packages of sprouting seed, as well as and various garden seeds (especially annual and perennial beans, summer and winter squashes, and turnips, perennial oats, broomcorn, and millet).  Make sure you wrap the frozen seeds immediately in heavy items that will insulate them as they slowly come up to temperature; else, you will have a lot of condensation just where you do not want wetness.  From the kitchen, you grab peelers, one or more small graters, metal tongs. A slotted spoon and flat spatula, a ladle, a couple of pots, and some mel mac or stainless bowls, cups, plates, and flatware.  Grab any sharp knives, an ice pick, a steel or small sharpening stone, and a small folding pruning saw; wrap these in a medium-weight tablecloth or light bedspread that can serve as a blanket and operating stage. Take salt; Zip-Loc bags; first-aid stuff as available; mylar bags and duct tape; rubber bands, rawhide laces, cording, and wire; clothespins, safety pins, sewing supplies and a couple of rolls of toilet paper, without the central tube (or use the tube for packing a Ziploc full of small items).  Fisherman’s Friend is a really great cough drop/decongestant/mucus reliever; these never get stuck together and are extremely effective!  Nobody needs toothpaste, although you might take a small tube, and wean the fainthearted onto ashes and a stick over the course of time. The most important thing is to expect hardship, and start getting used to it now; as extreme emotional reactions later, such as shock,will be the biggest threat to everyone’s safety and ability to thrive.

Finally, dress yourself for business, in double underwear and ripstop outerwear, hiking boots and smartwool socks, work gloves, and a sunhat and sweatband. Tie a cotton bandana around your neck. Pack a long raincoat, a wool sweater, and extra smartwool socks; depending on the number and strength of the party, add more items as room and weight permit. Your ripstop nylon pants should be a size too large (pack wool long johns or fleece pants to wear under them, for winter; also pack a  balaclava and one other warm hat, muffler, warm gloves and at least one pair of extras (a pair of those expensive, waterproof, cold-weather gloves would be wonderful);  work gloves, and extra socks and undines, if you have room). Ladies who do not wear pants will have to wear some for now; the ripstop will prevent shredding of the legs in briars and rocks, and allow for extra warmth in winter or at night.  A dress or skirt can go over the top.

 If you have plenty of extra wool socks and warm gloves, you can make it with one pair of hiking boots; though an extra, dry change of footwear can be a great thing.  Perhaps a pair of flip flops, as they can be cut apart as needed to make fishing bobbers, bottle corks, and cushioning for splints, among a hundred other uses; and you can wear them under your wool socks while your boots are being dried with hot rocks from the fire at night. (Put a dry, heavy piece of cloth in the bottom, and pay attention that you don’t burn that!) 

You may wish to bring a small washing ball, which can be thrown into a washer now instead of detergent, and used when washing by hand whether at home or away. We have been using these products for at least eight years in our home; they work by saponifying the water (breaking the surface tension, making the water “wetter”, as detergent
does, without adding anything that will need to be rinsed out.)  A “breathing washer” from Lehman’s is nice, to use with it.  I don’t know that you would want to pack it, nothing is guaranteed; you may need it at home for a year before you ever think of leaving.  It is certainly a great tool; and the handle does come off! 

 As for actually doing your laundry, you can wash your ripstop nylon things at end of day (or several days!), shake them out, and hang to dry.  They should be dry by morning, and if  not completely so,  at least dry enough.  The outside pair of underwear will go on the skin-side, and the inside pair in the wash.  Ladies will need to bring even more panties, and many pieces of toweling, maybe stitched together in layers, to use as pads.  They should also have a Zip-loc bag to keep these in, at that time of month, rinsing them and hanging to dry at night.  If necessary, drying ones can be pinned with large safety pins to the outside of packs.

 You most likely will not be returning.  Put your solid gold rings and any hefty sterling ones on a sturdy piece of string around your neck, under your shirt.  Put other items in a tied-off sock, here and there; in a pinch, you can pierce the sock and slip it onto your cord, as well.  Marauders may leave you alive, but grab your gear; so you may not want to sew things into linings, even when you do have time.  This is not the time to start going through treasures and photos.  Get your favorite photos laminated and put them in your bible as a bookmark.  Bring your smallest bible.  An extra gospel of John, New Testament and Psalms, or other small partial is good, if you have room.  These may be worth more than gold in the times ahead; it may well be that they are seen as tools against the State, since the New Age targets the Abrahamic Religions, scapegoating Jews, Moslems, and Christians together.  We do all share a belief in one God, Who has given us moral absolutes. Ultimately, the state of things has been foreseen and is inevitable; and we have total freedom to choose whether we are to live and die in love, as sons and daughters of the Most High, or in fear and thralldom, as His enemies.  There is no middle ground.

 The thing that needs mention now, is how to pray.  Even unbelievers pray, in  times of great need, out of fear; and it can lead them to faith and then to salvation.  But it is not the way for believers to pray!  We need to keep our trust and our joy and our worship before us, we need to go with a psalm in our minds and hearts!  There is no other way to be prepared, for anything, except to put ourselves wholly into the hands of the Almighty One , Who loves us.  Become comfortable without the noises that are in the way, and spend time in silence, quieting your anxieties and over-busyness with silent or audible praise and worship songs.  If you are not a Christian, think about prayer, anyway; in an emergency, wouldn’t you rather be full of peace and assurance?  That doesn’t come while things are hitting the fan, but is built up slowly, like the strength of muscles from weightlifting.  It lifts the eight of the world from our minds, and lets God hold it, while we attend to our immediate business. 

Noise is another of the addictions of our age, another of the things we and perhaps even more so, our children, cannot do without. It is psychologically calming to a person, to spend the day with the accustomed noise level; whereas suddenly moving from noise to silence, or vice versa, causes anxiety.  The ramifications of this are staggering; how is a sudden lack of loud music, or the “background noise” of a television, going to affect you and your loved ones?  In fact, psychologists tell us this is one of the wedges driven between the generations by the Evil of our time.  I can imagine buses with happy teens and children on them, stopping at every street.  They are playing a movie, loudly, on the bus.  Maybe the smell of popcorn is coming from somewhere.  It is parked right out there, waiting for your child.  The destination is a camp for young people exclusively.  "They" tell your child, hesitating in the doorway, that you will be okay, and they have a special place for you to go, as well. You can be in touch.  In fact, they will give everyone a subdermal I.D. number, so nobody will get misplaced.  You will only be irretrievably lost.

Pray, silently and in hope.  Pray, audibly and with scripture. Sing and recite the psalms.  Quiet your vociferous modern heart, and you will hear the voice of God, who never left, but Who never raises His voice.  He is found in silence because if He used force, we would not be free; and our freedom is the richest of God’s gifts to us, by which we may decide to love Him back, and be His servants.  A good antidote to loud-music addiction is to sing praise and worship songs.  You can find them on youtube, at prayer meeting, or just ask a Christian friend.

 The best of these are repetitive and short, and easy to learn. (Example: “He gives us incense for ashes; the oil of joy for mourning; the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that we may be trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified”.)  You may very well go to a church that has different songs; memorize the ones that speak to you, and sing them as you quietly go about your business.  “Quietly” really is the operative word; we need to quiet our hearts and listen, now, so s to be able to distinguish the voice of God, within, from the great faker who prowls unceasingly.  Learn scriptural songs.  The healthier your body gets, on your new regimen, the clearer your mind will be.  Challenge yourself to love learning, especially from the word of God.  Hide it in your heart, where He can activate it when you are in need, and where no one can take it from you!

Back to our packing.  You would want a hatchet, cleaver, or machete. But let’s say, for our scenario, that the PTB have taken all of these; because of  general unrest and murderous intent, they will say; but loss of tools also deprives you of the ability to do anything for yourself, and makes you less sure that you can make it without the help of the PTB. You might have, still, a folding pocket saw; it is better than nothing!  Also, pack a few mesh onion or citrus bags and lots of knee-high nylon hose.  Both can be used for leaching acorns, and the latter are good for many other things, such as straining, filtering, and sprouting while hiking (pour a little water through the sprouts at each stop; hang off the outside of your pack or in the campsite, to keep drained). Pack field guides to edibles, and copies of these articles, as well as a boy scout or military field guide. But never has there been a time when we were less prepared to make fires, snares, cording, and to find our own food.  No book can substitute for going out now, this week, and beginning to gain actual experience!

Pillowcases are a great thing!  I buy them from the Goodwill; often, they are brand new. They can be stuffed, to make a pillow; held open with vine or sapling and used for gathering grass seed as you walk; as part of an improvised water filter; a source of bandage or tourniquet cloth; and many other things.  When not in use any other way, use them for carrying things, inside a larger piece of cloth or tarp.  They will take the place of the pockets and compartments of a backpack, which you no longer have. You have a real lot of stuff, and time is running out! A little bug repellent is a good thing; in the field, some yarrow from the roadside or garden, or geranium or several other like plants, can be rubbed on as an insect repellent.  A very low, smoky fire of leaves and moss (“smudge”) can help at night, where there is no risk of detection. A bee-keeper-type arrangement of tulle or finer net may be drawn over the bill of your cap at night, and tied around your neck with the bandana; in a pinch, the panty-part of some large hose will do; get the longer queen size ones, and wedge the baseball cap, on your head, into one thigh, with the waist elastic at your neck, wrapped shut with your bandana.  These do not last forever, but they are small and easy to pack, and have many uses, one of which is to be worn next the skin as an extra layer of warmth in coldest weather.  Sunscreen can be good, but there is no substitute for shade, and so you are wearing a long-sleeved ripstop shirt, with ventilation mesh under the arms, and a hat with a brim.

You can do a lot with duct tape and mylar!  A couple of mylar emergency blankets take up very little space, but in extreme weather they may be held around you with duct tape, and can make the difference between comfort and sleeplessness, or life and death.  You can make a sturdy handle and provide reinforcement in a big pack made of tarp, with thoughtful application of duct tape.  And you can create a long-lasting, sturdy water bucket with a large mylar bag, a small stick, and a wrapping of duct tape as strapping around the bottom of the bag and crossing around the wrapped-stick handle grip.  This may seem wasteful of duct tape; but  almost all of it is reclaimable, as needed; and this is actually a way of reducing that heavy, bulky roll of tape.

Okay, you might or might not have a compass or GPS.  Let’s say you don’t.  You will have to think ahead, so as not to take a wrong path.  There is no substitute for asking God for direction.  Do not err by expecting Him to do everything for you! You will be traveling at night, since during the day, your party will be reported and stopped.  But at night, there is surveillance. A pair of night-vision binoculars might be very helpful.  Recite Psalm 91.  Think and remember which neighbors are gone; cross through those yards when you can.  Make for a safe house (friends who won’t turn you in; relatives- work this out ahead of time! You may want to give each other your house keys, or tell where to find them,)

In this time, if you have been asleep, as have so many Christians, you will have to wake up, and choose radical faith and trust, and count on supernatural guidance and protection.  The alternative is fear, distrust, and violence.  If you have really never seriously considered Christianity, have sneered at it; if you have loved New Age stuff, and are a vegan, but want to be free – the only way is to “consider the heavens”.  There is a wonderful book called The Real Meaning of the Zodiac. It has information that will help you find your way to Jesus Christ, our Salvation.

 There will be miracles of provision, multiplication of goods, protection and invisibility to the enemy, and many other kinds, in these days.  Somewhere along the way, those who have put All of their faith in Jesus Christ will be suddenly “raptured”, or taken away in the blink of an eye; and even the godless are predicting this.  The thing to do is to put on the faith you have been pretending to have; and to do so, you need strength.  Stop doing the things that hinder you!  There are invisible webs and nets and chains holding us down…Change your diet, cancel your cable television service and sell your television.  This may seem radical, but think again.  Why does the thought of no television hurt so much?  Why do you think it is not possible; and besides, there are so many “good” programs?  Listen, friends; there are no good programs!  You wouldn’t eat food every day that only had a little bit of poison in it, would you?  Even the best things are seasoned with stuff that seduces, perverts, stupefies.  That popular television preacher is telling you comforting things, and his lovely wish next to him is not as virtuous a model as we could wish, for our young women; and in the end, that is not what you are really watching, anyway. Even watching Animal Planet with a child reveals hidden New Age agenda specifically geared toward the young mind; and the filthiness or subtle perversions of the commercials is just extra gravy on top.  I am a prophet of the Lord; I say to you now that He calls His people out of the harlotries of  life in 2012 America.  If it isn’t bad to you, if you can justify everything, and sneer at changes recommended here, then you are as the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah, and other places destroyed by the Lord, because of the contagion of the inhabitants, and their hardness of heart.  If you do not see it and think this warning and these precepts are ridiculous, then I say to you that you are already dead.

For everyone else, you may be wondering – after we get rid of the television and video games and smartphones, what will we do instead? The answer is that you will recover lost ground!  You will go from strength to strength; you will find out that you have more energy; and that the day is not long enough for all of the projects you have going!  Beware, however;  lest getting rid of television pushes all of your family members into separate rooms with other electronics, and even alienates your children.  If they have been in public school, you will have lost them, and they may report you to the International Children’s Council, and asked to be moved to a friendlier environment.  If your children are in a Christian school, and are young enough, there is still time to reach them.  Be converted, yourself, first; and without delay!  This is still a time of grace, but it cannot go on much longer.  Change and return to the Lord with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.  Do this with your whole family; win the hearts and minds of your young ones through your own conversion example and by prayer and family bible time.  Don’t go hungry!  Just get off white rice and potatoes, packaged edible things of all kinds that substitute for food, and gluten and all items containing dairy or casein or sodium caseinate.  (Read the book Devil in the Milk: Illness, Health and the Politics of A1 and A2 Milk, if you are not convinced.) Yes, it seems hard; like anything else you are not used to.  But think of how many times you have done hard things! You are reading this now, but once you thought reading too hard. Have faith; be obedient, and decide to believe!  God always rewards our obedience; our freedom of choice exists, because He craves our love and obedience, neither of which can exist without absolute freedom!  

While you are thinking about that, let’s get back to our journey.  You may know that many common landscape plants have edible parts. Cannas, those tall, tropical-looking masses of pretty, broad leaves with flower spikes, are very common throughout much of the U.S.  Did you know that they were bred in the mountains of Peru, along with oca, yaucon, and our familiar potato varieties, as starchy root crops?  Starch is harder to find, in nature, and very important in the diet, especially in winter. The very young, unfurled leaves are an excellent cooked vegetable, and are okay raw, as a trail salad item. Canna corms (underground part) make a delicious long-cooked sweet, starchy treat or a good source of starch to use in cooking or baking.  (Cut into chunks, grate into water, stir and remove fibers.  Let settle and pour off the water.  The stuff in the bottom is the starch.  Dry it and put through a sieve to get out fibers and lumps; or use wet, cooked in cakes with oil; or added as thickening and filling goodness to any kind of soup concoction. This method of starch collection is why you have packed at least one small grater; the process is the same for cattail, briar, and all starchy roots.

Canna leaves are used in South America as a tamale wrapper.  Even the young seeds are fried and eaten, and are good raw as well.  Another common landscape plant is the althea, or Rose of Sharon.  It is in the mallow/malvacea family, which includes okra, hollyhock, rose of Sharon, hibiscus, and the wild swamp mallow or marsh mallow.  The leaves of all of these are good and edible, especially cooked; in fact, mallow leaves have been used this way from antiquity, and are still a major perennial vegetable in parts of North Africa and the Mediterranean.  I do not have experience in the western half of the U.S., but can say with authority that these thrive for years without care (and so are unlikely to have been sprayed with chemicals) in the entire Eastern U.S. 

Most of us know a little about daylilies.  The young shoots are eaten cooked; the leaves, when boiled, are supposedly like creamed onions, but can cause flatulence if used in great amounts as the sole menu item; the flowers and unopened buds are good raw, cooked, or dried; the tubers are delicious, but even if you manage to dig all of the small bits up,  the reward is smaller than most people expect; they are like fibrous sweet potatoes the size of garlic cloves, but often occurring in great numbers, as these plants easily naturalize. 

Perhaps we are safely away, and are living on the land, somewhere.  You have been filtering and boiling your drinking water, and making low, invisible shelters with branches and tarps and cordage. Maybe you have even brought fish hooks, and can make snares. But even if you are not molested, what are your chances of making it long-term on your own, with the little you have brought, even without one of the tribe getting sick or having an accident?  How long will you be able to simply go on, before you, or half of your family, wish you were safe in the arms of the State again?  The only remedy for the potential desperateness of this situation is to get this information out to everyone you know!  Make plans; tell others; trust in God; wean yourself off of all of the entrapments that suck up our time and cause stupefaction and lethargy. Things such as television and Farmville and alcohol and FaceBook and casinos and gluten and casein and white sugar and artificial sweeteners (read Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills ). Most importantly, after you have made the dietary changes, with your doctor’s supervision, wean yourself off of prescription drugs (yes, you can!  It is unnatural for most of the population to be dependent on prescription drugs just to get through the day.  Get healthy, God made our bodies to be self-healing!  If He hadn’t, then you’d be a goner after surgery or accidents!

Decide today, if you refuse to be marked or numbered or collected; if you will instead accept hardship in order to live free. The angel of the Lord will guide you to other Christians, on small farms and homesteads. We need host families to be physically and mentally prepared to welcome refugees; we need those moving to be  healthy and off medications, and ready to move when the Lord tells them.  We need to rework our way of thinking, and realize that, instead of conditions of scarcity and crowding, the resulting communities will be blessed with a lot of labor, so that all are fed and provided for; and with convivial Christian fellowship like that in the early Church; and that they will be crowned with miraculous occurrences, as the day of the Lord draws near and His people draw nearer to Him. We will need all of our skills to be in good working order, and our faith to be pre-tested and found strong. Parents, pastors and Christian leaders, be converted and ready to lead in new ways; and everyone, learn to pray without ceasing, carrying on a n inner dialogue with the One Who loves you and Who is mighty to save.  This is an integrated approach to Survival issues, as the entire spectrum of concerns is put into right order. Survival means more than ending the day alive, at whatever cost! God is intimately concerned with our well-being and survival in His Kingdom, which starts here and now, for those who are His own. We only need to awaken and respond.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

My wife and I have been "aware" that something isn't right since the whole Y2K scare back in 1999.  Sadly at the time, we had no idea of what "prepping" was or the first thing to do about how we felt.  I think we might have had a dozen gallons of water on our shelves.  Pretty sad, but we really had no clue.  I've always had this nagging feeling that things were really getting worse all the time, but it wasn't until I watched the "37 Things to Hoard" advertisement, that I finally decided I was going to find out how to take action.  I knew I believed what it said, and had always been hesitant to actually buy one of those things, but I thought "it's only $27 or whatever, what could it hurt?"  So I downloaded the books, and for the first time I had a little bit of an answer as to what I should be doing.  Of course from there, it has exponentially grown, because I thought if $10 a week was good, what could I do with $100 a week and so on.  We were already so far behind the game, I began to ask God for the time that we needed to prepare the way He wanted us to be prepared.  I read everything I could, especially SurvivalBlog and the book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It", learned new skills quickly, and questioned whether or not prepping was biblical.  Our background as Christians has always made us look to the bible for our overall answers.  If it lines up with the Word of God, then it's right.  If it goes against the Word of God, then it is wrong.  With everything that isn't mentioned being up to us as to whether we will accept it or not.  Well I obviously came to the conclusion that yes, it was biblical.  So we moved forward and started formulating our short term goals, long term goals, and the "what would we do if we had all the money in the world right now" goals.

I always admired our grandparents and people that had gone through the Great Depression, and if you asked any of them what things were most important to have, wheat or flour would have been one of them.  So I asked myself what would I do with wheat or flour.  Oh yeah, I could make bread.  Then I remembered that I didn't know how to make bread.  So I set off on a quest to learn how to make my own bread.  It was liberating to know, that with this one small step I was on my way to being able to learn the necessary things I would need to be self-sufficient.  I began to realize, that unlike many of our rural brethren who have lived the life and learned things since they were young, there is a whole set of skills that is dying off with a great generation.  The internet has made learning much of those skills much easier, but you definitely have to practice those skills.  For example, we started gardening three years ago and have made many mistakes.  If we absolutely had to live off our own garden, I'm not sure we could do it yet.  I thank God that
He has given us a little bit of time to make mistakes before we don't have any choice.

All the things that have to do with prepping can be learned, from food storage to gardening to firearms to medical techniques and everything else.  But the real questions I have been struggling with, are much larger than those.  As a Christian, I know how it all ends as the bible tells it, and I have spent my whole life preparing my soul for eternity.  Always asking myself the question "would I be able to lay down my life for the Word of God"?  If someone had a gun to my head and said that I either denied God, or I would be shot, would I be able to stand up for God and die?  So for me, the end of this world is something I have been accustomed to thinking about.  That being said, I also know that 1 Tim. 5:8 says "But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel".  And so, as a father, I must be prepping for my wife and children.  There are many Christians that say "God's in control, and I'm just going to trust in Him to take care of me".  Except that the five virgins that didn't prepare oil for their lamps weren't allowed in to the marriage (Matt. 25).  Point being, they were all virgins, but only half of them were prepared. 

I'm also somewhat of a history buff, noting that civilizations rise and fall throughout history, usually coinciding with that civilization rejecting God, as our nation has been doing for some time now.

So on to my larger questions.  Is this the end of the world as foretold by the bible?  Because if it is, then nothing material means anything.  Which is why I am teaching my family to prepare our souls first, then prepare for our bodies.  Still prepping, just in a different way, and still keeping in line with the Bible.  "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you" (Matt 6:33).  Or is this just the cyclical rise and fall of a nation?  And if it is, then where would we go from here?  In WWII, the smart ones left everything they had, in the middle of night, to get out ahead of Nazi Germany.  They left family, friends, houses, belongings, and the only existence they ever knew because they felt led to leave.  The difference was, they had an "America" to run to.  Where in the world right now, would we run to?  Or are we left to stay here and fight?  Scary thought. 

We may be forced to do things we've never even considered before.
My wife and I definitely feel we are being led to prepare ourselves and our family as best we can with the resources God has given us.  But I go back and forth sometimes as to what direction to take.  Sometimes I feel we should be planning to ex-pat.  Sometimes I feel like moving to the redoubt, not knowing if there's enough time left to plan all of that.  Then sometimes I feel like we ought to stay put until we can just move a little farther out of town onto a little hobby farm.  I think and pray about these things all the time.  Choices, choices, choices.  And with every day getting worse in the world, and closer to the eventual meltdown of the economies of the world, including our own.  There is no manual for this situation.  There is no one size fits all answer that everyone should be following.  The events of this year have been a rising tide of evil, spreading all over the world.  We can argue the intents of those involved and who's to blame all we want, but it seems like the snowball effect is taking place and the decline of the world has taken on a life of its own.

Which is why I've come to these conclusions.  First, that I need to prepare my soul and always be mindful of where God is leading me.  When I do this, He is really in control, and I find myself in places I never thought possible.  Second, that all of the distractions our society has created for itself, be it television or video games or lifestyles or anything else, should take a back seat to the overall preparing for long term collapse of the way things are.  How many years did the media cry "the housing bubble is going to burst!" and everyone kept buying, selling, and flipping, until one day it actually burst.  Then a new reality came into being.  I have a feeling we're in for something much worse, and it will last a lot longer than the last time, which we still haven't recovered from yet!  And third, that whatever path I choose for my family, that I must continue to prepare, continue to build, until I have my answer from God.  If I and my family happen to die along the way, then someone will use it, and what a blessing it will be for them that find it.  And even in my death, I will have helped my fellow man.

I pray that the Lord Jesus will grant us that are aware and working, the time to do the things we need, and give us the forewarning and knowledge of where to go and what to do, and that He keep us safe on our individual journeys, and that through the fire that we must walk, that He will win more souls to Himself, until we all spend eternity with Him. - Anonymous

Saturday, September 15, 2012

 I guess that I have always been a “Prepper”.
Fifty years ago I joined the Boy Scouts. Of course most  of us know the Scout Motto, Be Prepared. Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the scouting movement was once asked, “Prepared for what?”  His answer… “Just any old thing.”

My Scoutmaster, Mr. Garrison, told us that we needed to keep our backpack packed and ready to go, that some evening he would send out the word and we must report ready for a camp out. There would be a time limit and we must get there under our own power (no parents driving us).
At first this was mentioned at our weekly scout troop meetings frequently, and then less and less often.
But then one afternoon in December the word came down…We were to meet at Mr. Garrison’s house in 30 minutes, packed for an overnight camp out. Don’t be late…no parents driving.
As I pedaled my bicycle up Mr. G.’s driveway I saw him standing there looking at his watch. He waved me by and said to go behind his house. I saw several scouts from our troop and joined the members from my patrol (the Ravens) and waited while a couple more scouts arrived. A short while later Mr. G. joined us.
We were it. No one else would be allowed on this camp out.
The patrol leaders met with Mr. G. and were given directions. Set up camp by patrols and find out what food we had brought. Our USGI pup tent shelter halves were stacked nearby.
Our camp was soon ready, the food collected and the Patrol Leader was reporting back. A couple of the patrols had little or no food. One patrol had enough for themselves. The Ravens had more than enough for the six of us.
A patrol leaders’ council was held. Would the two patrols that were prepared share with the others? I had no vote as Assistant Patrol Leader of the Ravens because our Patrol Leader, Paul, was there.
They all voted to share our food. Dinner would be meager, breakfast sparse, and lunch almost non-existent. That’s okay…after all its only one day; we’ll all be home for dinner tomorrow.
After dinner we played Capture the Flag until time to retire. As I snuggled into my old Army surplus down sleeping bag I felt a contentment, I was in my element.
Morning soon came, and with it a strange quiet. Although we were in the field behind the Scoutmaster’s house there were still several neighbors nearby and we should be hearing noise. My tent companion awoke and we started talking about how warm it must be outside since it was very warm inside the tent.
The tent was warm because we had about eight inches of light fluffy snow insulating our tent. Voices soon convinced us to come out and join the others by the campfire.
Breakfast was prepared and shared, clean-up and other chores were gotten out of the way. A hike had been planned and soon we set out. Most of us were sweating and tired as we got back to camp in a couple of hours.
Next it was time for a service project. Shovels of all sorts were distributed and we attacked the neighbors driveways, saving Mr. G.’s for last.
Lunch was both a little late and meager. After clean-up we grouped around the fire. Mr. G. took this time for reflection. He asked us several searching questions.
Did we learn anything from this experience?
Could we have done anything differently?
Could we have been better prepared?
What unexpected things should we have prepared for?
Was our equipment adequate?
Were we hungry?
Were we cold or wet?
The reflection went on and we saw ourselves as we were, young men trying to do our best in most instances, failing in some areas but also learning from our mistakes.
It was late afternoon on that December day as we broke down our tents, packed up our gear, put out the fire and assembled in our patrols for our closing ceremony.
Our flag was lowered, a benediction offered and the time turned over to our wise scoutmaster.
Mr. Garrison started by telling us a tale of the Pilgrims, of how some chose not to work but to live off of the labors of others. Of how their leader had to make the decision to deny the freeloaders the bounty of the industrious.
Next he spoke of Christ’s love for mankind, and explained sacrifice. The cold didn’t seem so bad as we stood there, a band of brothers, knowing we pooled our resources to benefit each other.
Finally he spoke of his fondness for us and the pride he felt in watching us over the last twenty four hours. We had banded together and helped one another. He had a final request. He needed some help in his basement. There were some items down there he needed help in disposing. Would we help? Would a patrol step forward and volunteer to stay for perhaps an hour or two?
All four of our patrol leaders stepped forward. We’ll all help you Sir. Many hands lighten the load.

And so the twenty or so young men went through the garage and down into the basement where Mrs. Garrison and several of the scouts mothers awaited with a fabulous meal.
As Mr. G. blessed the food he thanked the Lord for the fine young men assembled, for their willingness to participate and to share their supplies with their brethren.
As I remember we were all pretty solemn as we ate and thought about our adventure. We soon departed on roads cleaned by the county crews.

I pushed my bike home those two miles, wondering when our next emergency camp out would be. Would I be better prepared? Could I help the other Ravens get ready?

I learned some lessons that weekend and a lot of them have stayed with me. This event took place in the early-mid 1960s, around 1963. Those were times of worry, the Cold War was at its height, Berlin, Cuba, and Vietnam were making news. In school we had Nuclear Drills. Civil Defense Shelter signs were on many public buildings.

My father was career military and in the evenings I sometimes overheard my parents talking when they thought we were watching television. Our family moved a year or two later to a house that had a bomb shelter.

As my life has progressed I have experienced different levels of preparedness. At no time in my sixty plus years have I felt a stronger need to “Be Prepared” than now.

The Lessons I Learned that Weekend

LESSON 1-As I said, Mr. G. spoke of this camp out several times a month for several months in a row. He told us what we needed to do. We needed to have our backpacks packed with everything we would need for a weekend cam pout called at a moments notice.
 LEARNED- two things:

  1. Listen and pay attention to people and events around you. Just because people stop talking about a danger doesn’t mean it ceases to exist.
  2. Always have a GOOD or Bug out bag ready. My brother in law was career USAF and always had a duffle bag packed in his closet ready to go at a moments notice.

LESSON 2- As the weeks and months went by our scoutmaster said less and less about the cam pout He would review our plans only when a new scout would join our troop or someone would ask a question about it.
LEARNED- Pay attention to what is going on around you, prepare and do not lose faith. Do not let your guard down.

LESSON 3- As I arrived at Mr. Garrison’s house I saw him in his driveway looking at his watch. We only had 30 minutes to reach our destination (his house) with our gear. If we weren’t already packed we could not get there in time. I found out later that he turned away a scout driven by a parent, and several who arrived late.
LEARNED- Be ready, do not hesitate, follow those leaders in which you have faith.

LESSON 4- Our patrol leaders were told to see how much food we had and if we would we share.
LEARNED- Be generous with your brothers (and sisters), it will not hurt most of us to miss a meal. Always have more supplies than you think you will need.

LESSON 5- We had a heavy snowfall that night (at least it was heavy for the area in which we were).
LEARNED- Expect the unexpected. Weather is unpredictable. We recently experienced severe storms here in southern Ohio, had many trees downed and were without grid power for five days (but that story is for another time).

LESSON 6- After our hike and before lunch we were expected to participate in a service project, shoveling driveways for the neighbors.
LEARNED- Always be willing to help your neighbor. Mister Garrison did not ask us to shovel his driveway. We WANTED to do it for him. Serve those around you and be willing to allow others to be blessed by serving you.

LESSON 7- Mr. G.  took the time to get us to reflect upon the weekend.
LEARNED-The reflection time allowed us to see ourselves, our faults and our strengths. After any experience or situation take the time to play “Did Good- Do Better”.

LESSON 8-Our Scoutmaster’s prayer.
LEARNED- Be willing to seek blessings for yourself and others. Be thankful. Have an attitude of gratitude.

Was this the event in my life that made me a prepper? Was I always prepared for life after this? The answer to these questions of course is no.
This camp out, the wisdom of Mr. Garrison, the lessons learned were only stepping stones. Being prepared is not a place or a destination; it is a journey, a trek, a goal that will never be satisfied.

I have tried to pay back to scouting and Mr. Garrison the valuable lessons I gained in Scouting. It is hard. Many scouts (people) don’t get it. But many do. I have been a scoutmaster four times. I have over twenty years of experience trying to help young men get the point of being prepared. My three sons are Eagle Scouts. One gets it. I won’t quit working with the other two.
Continue your preparations. Stay the high moral ground. Never give up.

Lord Baden-Powell answered the question, “Be prepared for what?” His vision over 100 years ago has helped literally millions of scouts with their lives.
His answer again was “Be Prepared for just any old thing”.

It is said that Learning from your own mistakes is a sign of intelligence, but learning from the mistakes of others shows wisdom.
Be wise. Prepare for just any old thing.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Growing up, we are taught to share.  Share our toys, share the chores, share our parents attention.  When we get to an age where we can earn some money, whether it be allowance for household jobs, or something like a paper route, our parents teach us to be sure to give God his 10%.  (Here is a little is ALL God's, he just allows us to keep 90%, if only the government would be so generous).  Well, as we get even older, let us say, after high school or college, we get a 'real' job.  This is theoretically speaking of course, since there are so many who don't have jobs, whether because there are  none available in their field of skills or because they just don't want to work and would rather have someone else support them.   Now, saying we have this job, and we give 10% to God (via His church), we also have to give a share to Uncle Sam...he is the uncle we pay to stay away and leave us alone.  If you do not pay enough, he will come after more than his fair share.  So still, we share.

Let us take the master that gave to his servants talents, to test their abilities.  He gave to one servant five talents, to another two talents, and to another one talent.  Well, you know the account, the servant with five talents used his abilities and increased his talents by five more.  The twp talent servant did likewise and increased his talents by two more, but the one talent servant just buried his talent, keeping it to himself, and when the master returned, the first two servants were given praise for their good work while the one talent servant was punished. (Matthew 25: 14-30).  The one talent was then given to the 10 talent servant and the master said, "For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance:  but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath." 

I would like to give a few examples of sharing.  In 1 Kings 17, Elijah was sent by God to give a message to Ahab, that there would be a drought in the land.  After delivering the message, Elijah was told to "hide by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan."  At the river, he was able to drink and God had ravens to bring him food for a while.  Then the brook  dried up, "because there had been no rain in the land."  Elijah was then told to go to Zarephath and dwell there, where God had prepared a widow woman to sustain him.  He met the widow woman as she gathered sticks and asked her to give him something to drink.  As she was going to get the drink, he asked her to also get him something to eat.  "And she said, As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse:  and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die."  Well, she did make that cake for Elijah, and because she was willing to share, God made the meal and oil last so that she nor her son had to starve.  It was by sharing what she had that she was blessed.  

On another occasion, there was a different widow woman and her sons who were fearful of her late husband's creditors. They were planning to take her sons as slaves for the debt her husband left behind when he died.  She cried to Elisha, the man of God, for help. "And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? tell me, what hast thou in the house?  And she said,  Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil."  So he told her to go to her neighbors and borrow vessels, and not just a few, but many vessels.  She was then told to go into a room with her sons and shut the door and pour out the oil into the vessels, which she did, until there was not another vessel to fill.  And still she had oil. "Then she came and told the man of God.  And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest."  Again we see how God took the little she had and made it last.  

When Jesus fed the multitudes with the fishes and loaves of bread, He could have just as easily spoke and produced food out of the air, as with the manna for the children of Israel and with the raven feeding Elijah, but He did not.  He took what they had and made it last until everyone present had been fed.  When the children of Israel left Egypt and were fed by the manna, they had to leave all they had known and trust in God.  Elijah had to leave town and hide, and trust in God.  The widow women also, used what they had left, and trusted in God.  On the one hand you have those who had to flee and on the other hand you have those that stayed, but had something, although sparse, to start with.  In all cases, the individuals involved had to trust in God completely to take care of their needs.  Likewise, we have to trust in God to provide our needs.  If we have goods, and share with our brethren, God can increase our goods as he sees fit.  If we have nothing and someone shares with us, that is a blessing to us as well as the person sharing their goods, and we should be sure to thank God for his blessings and ask blessings on the sharing party.

Jesus wants us to share and help the less fortunate.  That is not to say that we should provide total support for able bodied people who just do not want to work.  An old Chinese saying, "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime."   In helping others, we may need to teach them new skills so that they can help themselves. The Bible also teaches in Paul's letter to the Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians 3:10-15, "...that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.  Now them that are such we command and exhort by or Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.  But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.  And if any many obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.  Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother."  And also in 1 Timothy 5:8, "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."  

We need to encourage others to prepare for hard times.  Even as our economy  is failing daily, some will not hear of making plans for the future, but live only for that day.   And while we are not promised tomorrow, and should live every day as if it were our last, we can plan for the future we hope to have if we live and if the Lord is willing.  And do not be afraid to help others in genuine need, (Hebrews 13:1-2) "Let brotherly love continue.  Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unaware." And Jesus said in Matthew 25:34-46, "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat:  I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink:  I was a stranger, and ye took me in:  Naked and ye clothed me:  I was sick, and ye visited me:  I was in prison, and ye came unto me.  Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?  And the King shall answer and say unto thee, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."  We do need to share with the less fortunate that are trying to help themselves and do it willingly. "But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully, Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity:  for God loveth a cheerful giver." - 2 Corinthians 9:6-7.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

One of the first and most important steps in successfully being prepared is having the appropriate mindset to do so.  This being the case, it is important that each person reconcile their Christian convictions with their convictions regarding preparedness and self-defense, resulting in their being of a single mind.  It is only in resolving these beliefs that a person can be effective in choosing to act one way or the other in a time of crisis.  Many people of Christian faith and even those who do not share a faith in Jesus Christ, question if the practice of preparedness and/or willingness to consider the taking of another person’s life in self-defense contradicts God’s will and Christ’s teachings as expressed in the Bible.  These are weighty and very important questions which should in no way be taken lightly.  Each person should consider carefully and make a clear decision about their convictions on these topics before they can decide if a preparedness lifestyle is one that they can embrace.  Since we are admonished by scripture to stand ready to provide an answer to anyone who questions the reason for our faith and hope, I have been compelled to search the whole Word of God and provide a clear rationale for my convictions in this area of my faith.  For those who may be wrestling with their own convictions on these topics, I offer the following references and perspectives.

Is a Preparedness Lifestyle Evidence of Our Lack of Trust in God?
I began my study of this topic by asking myself the question, “shouldn’t we trust in God for our sustenance, instead of stocking up on food and supplies?”  In response to this question, I say that the scriptures teach us to not worry about tomorrow, or in other words, we should not be fearful of the future or seeking to gain material possessions for the sake of worldly wealth and status.  However, having a lack of fear about the future is not the same as choosing to take no action about being prepared for the future.  When considering God’s call for us to be good stewards of that with which He has entrusted us, we must be thoughtful and shrewd in order to avoid losing what we have been given through neglect of thought and/or action.  Rather, we must judge the circumstances of the present times and be thoughtful about the future in order to be counted as good and faithful servants.  One of the Scriptures’ most vivid examples of taking proactive steps to be prepared for uncertain future events is Joseph’s leadership in Egypt, which was prompted by God and carried out through the practical actions of faithful people.  The plan of preparedness was given to Joseph by God and relayed to Pharaoh in Genesis 41:33-36, when Joseph said “And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.”  Like Joseph, we are to put our trust in God and not the things of this world, while also being good stewards of those things with which he has entrusted us through taking thoughtful and decisive actions.

When Christ spoke of the signs that would announce the coming of the end times, He painted a grim picture of the urgency with which people will need to take action and flee from danger in order to be spared from the full force of the coming destruction.  In Matthew 24:15-22, Christ said “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house.Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.”  In heeding these words, we see that Christ is admonishing us to be ready to flee from the coming evil at a moment’s notice.  He also makes it clear that we will not have time to get our affairs in order after we become aware of the pending danger, but must be ready to act immediately.  Under these circumstances, it would seem prudent to have made preparations in advance for being able to respond decisively should such a situation present itself within our lifetime.  If we are to care for the needs of our families, as we are instructed to do in 1 Timothy 5:8, which reads “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever,” it would make sense that we should have provisions ready for taking care of their basic needs, should such a time come that it is necessary for us to “flee to the mountains.”

Are Christians Called to be Pacifists or Defenders?
In accompaniment with being good stewards we are also charged with the responsibility to guard against wickedness.  This responsibility is made clear in both Proverbs 18:5, “It is not good to be partial to the wicked and so deprive the innocent of justice.” and Proverbs 25:26, “Like a muddied spring or a polluted well are the righteous who give way to the wicked.”  In addition to fighting the spiritual battle, this means that we are to care for the people and possessions with which God has entrusted us for the good of our family and neighbors.  For as it says in Isaiah 1:17, “Learn to do right; seek justice.  Defend the oppressed.  Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”  We cannot care for our families and neighbors if our food, clothing and shelter has been stolen or destroyed by evildoers, nor have we cared for our families and neighbors if they have been raped, abused or even murdered by those people who have chosen to embrace evil. 

The first case recorded in the Scriptures of the righteous actively defending their family and neighbors was that of Abram going to rescue his nephew Lot, the others with him and their possessions.  This account is recorded in Genesis 14:14-16, which reads, “When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.”  The life of Abram, later renamed by God as Abraham, is an excellent standard against which to judge our actions, as a man who walked with God and was the patriarch of the Jewish nation, about which it is recorded in Romans 4:3 that “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 

Beginning with God’s first commandments and working forward through the Scriptures we find that the Old Testament law describes killing in self-defense as acceptable, but killing in vengeance as murder.  The sixth commandment, as handed down from God to Moses and the Israelites, is stated in Exodus 20:13, “You shall not murder.”  Note that God specifically stated that “murder” was prohibited, not that “killing” another person was forbidden.  This is an important distinction when considering how God used the Israelites to fight against evil men and nations.  Understanding the appropriate use of force is further clarified by the Lord when He states in Exodus 22:2-3 that “If a thief is caught breaking in at night and is struck a fatal blow, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed; but if it happens after sunrise, the defender is guilty of bloodshed.”  In this instance, a person cannot fairly judge the actions or intentions of someone who is doing wrong under the cover of darkness, and so is justified in the use of lethal force as protection for themselves and their household.  However, in the light of day such actions can be more fairly judged and the level of defense must be appropriately proportioned, since acting in vengeance is not justified.  Another example of using lethal force in the defense of another person is the early life of Moses.  While defending one of his countrymen who was being brutally beaten, Moses killed an Egyptian, as is recorded in Exodus 2: 11-12. “One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.”  So Moses killed a man, who was threatening the life of another person, yet he was not punished by God, rather he was later blessed by being chosen to lead God’s people.  Another admonition for a just defense against the violence of evil is stated in Proverbs 24:10-11, “If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength!  Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.”  A further example of appropriately defending against the physical attacks of evil people is the leadership and actions of Nehemiah while in Jerusalem.  As they were doing the good work of rebuilding the walls and gates of Jerusalem, men whose hearts were filled with evil devised schemes to murder the Israelites in order to stop them from rebuilding.  While they trusted in God to lead and protect them from this threat, Nehemiah was a good steward of the lives and resources that had been entrusted to him by arming the people and posting an active defense.  These preparations both exemplify his faith in the Lord’s protection and his acting responsibly, which thwarted the plans of the wicked.  This story is recorded in Nehemiah 4: 11-23, which reads “Also our enemies said, ‘Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.’  Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, ‘Wherever you turn, they will attack us.’  Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, ‘Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.’ When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to our own work. From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me. Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, ‘The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!’ So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out. At that time I also said to the people, ‘Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so they can serve us as guards by night and as workers by day.’ Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water.

Now that a thorough list of Old Testament examples has been provided to clarify the appropriate actions of self-defense and the defense of our families and neighbors, some might ask if the teachings of Jesus Christ in the New Testament brought about a change to any of these precepts.  Let me begin my response by stating that God’s precepts do not change from the Levitical Law to the teachings of Jesus Christ.  It is clearly stated throughout the Scriptures, from the Old Testament to the New Testament, that God is consistent and unchanging.  This can be seen in 1 Samuel 15:29, stating that “He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.”, Hebrews 13:8, which says that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”, and in James 1:17, which reads “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”  It is vital to the Christian faith to understand that what Jesus Christ the Son taught is consistent with the actions and commands of God the Father.  With the clear understanding that there is no duplicity between the words and actions of God and Jesus Christ, we can then look at a teaching of Christ that is sometimes misconstrued to be advocating for pacifism, appearing on the surface to be at odds with the Old Testament law.

Among Christ’s many teachings during the Sermon on the Mount, it is recorded in Matthew 5:38-39 that He spoke the words “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”  These words have been misunderstood as an admonishment for Christian pacifism.  However, the Jewish leaders and people of the time were known to be misusing the Scriptures to justify vigilante type vengeance and an abuse of power.  Instead of leaving it in the hands of individuals, God had clearly established judges and other civil authorities for the enforcement of justice.  Christ’s example was not an attack against self-defense from a credible threat, rather a slap in the face is an example of an insult, for which we should not repay in kind, but instead show grace and mercy that we might win them over by shaming them through comparing their actions to our own.  This is illustrated by the words of Paul as he was quoting Proverbs, when he said “In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”  We need to use discernment in order to judge whether a person’s actions are harmful of only superficial items and our emotions, or if they are intent on the type of evil that results in true violence or even murder.  While Christ taught that we should not presume to know the underlying intent that drives a person’s actions, Christ did instruct us to judge a person by their visible actions, as He said in Matthew 7:17-20, which reads “Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” Someone intent on murder will not be pacified by grace and humility, for their first action will be the taking of a life, not an insult.  So, acting in self-defense of a person’s life is not impairing our Christian witness, nor is it acting out of vengeance, but it is taking appropriate action to protect the innocent and not give way to the wicked.

My Conclusions
I believe that the God of both the Old and New Testaments has made it clear to us through His word that we are to be prepared in spirit, mind and body for our Lord Christ’s return.  In doing this we are called to be good stewards of the possessions and lives with which He has entrusted each of us.  We are to avoid evil whenever possible, repay evil with good in consideration of our Christian witness, but also defend against the kind of evil that would murder and destroy that which is good.  In summary, I believe that we should be forward thinking and resourceful as we store up for the difficult days to come like the example of Joseph, defend our walls and those living inside of them like the example of Nehemiah, and practice love by providing for those in need like the example of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

In 1919, the Spanish flu killed around 75 million people in a single year (Knobler, pp. 60–61). In 1931, the China floods killed over two million people (NOVA). In 1945, America dropped two atomic bombs that killed around 200,000 people (Radiation Effects Research Foundation). In 2010, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 hit Haiti and killed 316,000 people (USGS). In the past century alone, 29 countries have had to deal with hyperinflation, causing severe economic depression, during which millions died from starvation, disease and looting. These events go to show that disaster has always been an unavoidable aspect of life, and will continue to be unavoidable as long as sin is still in this world. However, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Although it is nigh impossible to avoid these events, it is possible to lower the death toll and effect of damage by being properly prepared. Individual households can take responsibility in making their city a better and safer place to live. To learn how to be properly prepared for events like this, we must look back at these terrible catastrophes, and learn.

One such catastrophe was the Great Depression. Besides being the greatest economic crisis this country has ever seen, the Depression starved to death perhaps up to 12 million Americans--10% of the population. ( [JWR Adds: This figure is disputed, primarily based on the difference between the 1930 and 1940 census, which showed a 7.3% population increase, but for comparison between 1920 and and 1930 there was a 13.7% population increase. Even excluding immigration deltas there were significant numbers of starvation deaths.] Two major events that caused the downfall of our economy are the failure of banks, which led up to the stock market crash, and the Dust Bowl, a dust storm that left 500,000 Americans homeless and destroyed most of the farmable land and crops in America (First Measured Century: PBS).

Compare the events that caused the depression to the conditions of today. For example, in the past twenty years the average number of natural disasters for a twenty-year time span is up by four hundred percent (Natural News). Yes, natural disasters fluctuate throughout history, but the severity of these events is greater than we have ever seen before. Just look at the beginning of this century: it started in 2004 with Hurricane Katrina, which caused $180 billion worth of damage. Even though the final death count of 1,833 does not seem significant, Katrina also left over 12,000 people homeless, and 25 percent of Louisiana jobless (National Climatic Data Center). Furthermore, rioting and looting became rampant because people were desperate for food and resources. However, Katrina is only one of the numerous natural disasters. Out of the ten biggest earthquakes on record, three of them happened in the past ten years. The earthquake that caused the tsunami in Japan in 2011 cost their economy $235 billion, killed 15,850 people, injured 6,011, with 3,287 missing (Damage Situation and Police Countermeasures). Nevertheless, experts speculate that the natural disasters will not subside. Sooner than later Mt. Rainer will erupt, creating a mudslide that will result in the death of thousands, and kill miles of environment (Popular Mechanics). Expert Seismologists estimate that more earthquakes of higher magnitude will hit Mississippi, as well as the Atlantic Ocean, which would cause an enormous tsunami. We live in delicate times, but not only because of these natural disasters.

Our country is in an enormous economic crisis. According to the United States National Debt Clock, provided by the Federal Reserve, our current national debt at exactly 8 o’clock pm on February 27, 2012 amounts to $15,404,053,723,986, and is increasing at an average of $48,998 per second. If we were to divide this debt between taxpayers in America, each one of them would owe $136,167. In just one month, it has increased over $180 billion, and the average taxpayer would owe another $1,000. This debt is seemingly impossible to get rid of. What is even worse than this debt is the inflation of the dollar bill. Since the beginning of the decade, the dollar has lost 24 percent of its value. Furthermore, many countries have recently dropped the dollar as their reserve currency, such as China, Japan, Switzerland, Kuwait, Libya, Iran, Russia, and Syria. They have done this because they do not trust the dollar and do not want to lose any more money than they already have. In addition to the devaluation of the dollar, more and more banks today keep closing because of the inability of Americans to pay off their own debt. From 2000 to 2009, the Federal Deposit Insurance Company recorded seventeen banks failing and having to close. Between 2010 and 2011, over 150 banks closed. The amount of debt we are in and the devaluation of our money is a very real threat to this country, one that will not end well.

As well as suffering from a fragile economy, this world is experiencing a major food shortage. According to the World Bank, 44 million people have been pushed into poverty because of rising food prices. The earth is also losing its topsoil due to the new methods of farming we have adopted. In addition, the earth has not been reproducing the natural amount of topsoil that it used to produce (Seattle PI). The World Bank also states that food prices have increased by 36 percent in the past 12 months. Even though we may not feel the effect where we live, neither did those of the 1920’s. Hedonism dominated the 1920’s, as well as the increased movement in liberal thinking. This same attitude is thriving in the times we live in today, and has taken an even greater extreme. Every type of event that led up to the Great Depression we have experienced in this past decade. The extreme natural disasters, food shortages and insane increase in bank failures are the precursors of something that will be much worse.

Nevertheless, why should we care? These events are frightening, and it is not comfortable to dwell on such things, but there comes a point where we must deal with the inevitable. The magnitude of these events is truly incredible, and is seemingly outside the scope of our influence. Fortunately, this is not the case, and there is a practical way to be prepared for such events as these. Though it is not comfortable to dwell on these events, we cannot stand around and do nothing. In light of these events and this principle of action, there are three points to show how Christians ought to handle these events. First, there is Biblical justification of a Prepper mentality. Second, the Biblical examples of physical preparation give us an example to follow. Third and finally, the practicality of Survivalism is a justifiable use of resources. Therefore, based on Biblical principles and the events of the past century, Christians have a moral and practical obligation to prepare for catastrophes.
Before dismissing what I am about to say as extremely right-winged, back woods redneck, or an advocate for the zombie apocalypse to come tomorrow, listen to why I am presenting this argument. Many Christians in America have jumped to the wrong side of the topic because liberal America has exaggerated, skewed, and falsified the reality of Survivalism.  I am presenting this argument in its true light from two different standpoints: the cost to benefit aspect, and the morality of preparation.

When a Christian is facing any decision, the first place to look is the Scriptures. Scripture says, “The fear of the Lord is the Beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” The book of Proverbs is full of wisdom, written by the wisest man to ever walk the earth, Solomon. Proverbs 2:1-5 describes how we need to cry out for wisdom, and seek her as silver. Verse 5 declares, “Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.” To find the knowledge of God, it is necessary to have wisdom.

Therefore, when Proverbs 22:3 states, "A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished,” we need to listen and act upon this insight into becoming godly men. Seeing how important it is to align our views with the Lord’s, look at the man who does not listen and take action, but rather continues in his folly. Different versions of the Bible calls the person in this verse different names, such as simple, thoughtless, naïve, gullible, and fool. Throughout Proverbs, we see how much God disdains the fool. In this case, the fool is the one who disregards preparation and continues with his life like there is nothing wrong in this world. Do you want to be in that category of person who ignores wisdom, scorns prudence, and disregards foreseeable danger? On the other hand, will you listen to wisdom, and acknowledge the Biblical standard of living?

This Biblical standard of living is one of action. The ethic of working and collecting for yourself is spread throughout the Bible. Proverbs 6:6-8 gives an example. “Go to the ant you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers food in the harvest.” The ant creates and stores up food for when she will need it, while the sluggard does not, and will pay the consequences. We are to rely on Christ, but that does not mean we stand around and just wait for Him to come back. Look at the example of Noah. God told him he was going to destroy the world, and then told him to build an ark. God demanded action of Noah, just as He always expects action from us. James 2:26 tells us that faith without works is dead. Many Christians apply this to their life, but it also needs to apply to the upcoming catastrophes. Christians need to see the danger coming ahead, and take action by preparing for it.

As well as the Biblical example of reason why to prepare, the practicality of preparing for catastrophes makes it inexcusable to be unprepared. Almost everybody will agree that preparation is necessary for certain events, such as fire drills and lock downs, because people see the cost to benefit ratio as much more practical than a hassle. It is worth the time for the reward. Why do these people not apply this to preparation of emergencies on a much larger scale? To fathers and future fathers, how much is it worth to you to keep your family safe? You buy life, automotive, house, medical, and who else knows what type of insurance, but what are you going to do when an earthquake hits and the grocery store is empty. Alternatively, maybe the bank cannot give you your money because it just does not have it due to others not paying off their debts. Will you have to look into their eyes and tell them you will have to deal with being hungry for a little bit? What if that little bit has been a week, and one of them is getting sick. No good father is going to sit around and let his child die. Citywide anarchy, starvation, and a gigantic increase in crime are to be expected once more people come to the same realization. I realize this seems very far-fetched and there is little chance of this happening. That is what Sarah Luker thought, an average Betty Crocker housewife. Then Hurricane Ike destroyed their house and her family had nothing to live on. Since then, Sarah has embraced the Prepper mindset, canning food and storing resources so that she will be ready for catastrophe the next time it strikes. More and more “normal” people are seeing the benefits of preparing. Costco is now providing survival kits in handy backpacks, with food for two weeks, knives, hatchets, a tent, and other essentials to survival. This is the reasoning of ordinary people who see the danger coming, and the obvious reason to prepare for them. Nevertheless, people question how much of a priority this should take. You apply this same reasoning to insurance. You pay so that when something bad happens, you will be able to fix your care, or get a new house. Apply this mindset to preparing for catastrophe. Is it not identical to buying life insurance? People pay money just in case they die and cannot take care of their family. How about buying resources to sustain your family just in case something goes horribly awry?  Christ says to love your neighbor as yourself, but if you are unable to love and take care of your own family in times of trouble, how are you going to be an example of Christ like love for his children?

Nevertheless, how much is enough? While some will buy a two-week survival kit and call it good, others will pay thousands of dollars to have a nuclear bunker in their backyard. Where is the line drawn that says this is enough? Frankly, there is no such line. However, the principle I am advocating requires one to know what is going on around them. Therefore, when the time we live in is in direct comparison to the time of the Great Depression, one ought to prepare to be ready for an event such as this. It is your responsibility to be well informed on the current events of today that will affect whether or not you are prepared enough. Proverbs declares that the wise man seeks out council; this applies to understanding how much to be prepared! There are hundreds of books and web sites about preparation and today’s current events. There is no excuse to ignorant of the world around you.

However, many Christians are still weary of embracing this Survivalist mindset, for three overarching reasons. First, that the events that people prepare for are farfetched and blown out of proportion by the stereotypical doomsayer. Another is that the call of dependence, that to depend on God implies dependence in all things, and that we need not worry about tomorrow. Finally, many object to Survivalism because they cannot afford to spend the money, and that it is a waste of resources.

The first daunting enemy that stands in the way of justification for Survivalism is the stereotype people have given those who are labeled as Survivalist, Doomsayers, Preppers, or even Zombie hunters. Though being a Prepper or Survivalist is what I am advocating, the baggage that society associates with these groups is unjustified. Though there are antisocial groups who would love it if they had the opportunity to blow a couple zombie heads off or maybe start a fire sale, Survivalists or Preppers do not fall into this category. All that Survivalists or Preppers stand for is the mindset of being prepared for the unpredictable events of life; they are not hoping for the end of the world to come tomorrow.

These same people also claim that the coming events Preppers warn society of are “doomsayer exaggerations.” This comes only from ignorance of the current and past events. Looking at the events of the past century, it would be foolish to disregard them just because it is socially awkward to accept the solution that Preppers are providing. As I explained earlier, these events are in direct comparison to those of the Great Depression. In addition, the numbers and examples I gave came from sources unrelated to the topic of Survivalism, such as PBS, The Federal Insurance Corporation, and the World Bank. The events are not skewed or twisted to try to advocate the end of the world. They are only to show that there are events that have the potential to destroy lives in the future, and it is only wise to prepare for events such as these.

Finally, the next objection many Christians have is the call of dependence on God, which is based on the Scripture passage in Luke 12:22-29, where Christ gives the Parable of the lilies.
Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.  Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?  And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?  If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith? And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.

Most people look at this verse and automatically jump to the conclusion that we cannot justify Survivalist principles because they imply that we are worrying about tomorrow. The problem with this judgment is that these people misinterpret the principles of preparation as worry. The principles I am justifying are not those of worry, but those of preparation. Again, we come back to Proverbs 22:3, which tells us the wise man foresees danger and hides himself. He takes action. Yes, the Bible tells us to be dependent on God, but this does not absolve us from preparing for catastrophe or storing resources for hard times. Look at the example of Joseph. When God told Joseph there would be seven years of plenty and seven years of famine, did Joseph just sit back and expect God to do the work? On the contrary, he immediately went to work, preparing for this time of hardship by storing food and taking action so he and his country would be ready for these seven years of famine. This is the same action Christians need to take when preparing for foreseeable catastrophes in the nearby future.

The final objection is that many people do not have the money to prepare for these events. There is no set amount on how much money you should spend: there is no percentage or complex formula to show what is enough or not. The principle I am advocating is a mindset, not a calculated amount. Only the person preparing can know what enough is. The only way a person can be certain they can know this is by doing research, and analyzing one’s budget to match a survival plan. The amount of preparation can only come from a knowledge gained through research and understanding of the world around us. Then will we know how to prepare for the future.

Nobody wants another Great Depression. Nobody wants another Hurricane Katrina. Nobody wants worldwide pandemic, food shortage, or any other catastrophes. Nevertheless, catastrophes are inevitable, no matter how much we despise them. God has placed these trials in our lives to fulfill His ultimate plan. However, that does not imply that we sit back and watch these events destroy us. There are many Biblical examples of physical preparation that coincide with dependence on God; examples that we need to follow. I pray that you do not just leave this room and keep on living your life as if nothing bad will happen to you, but rather, as Christians, step up to the examples set for us. Therefore, based on Biblical principles and the events of the past century, it is vital that we as Christians prepare for disasters.


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Rawles, James Wesley. "" James Wesley Rawles, Web. 8 Dec. 2011.
Rawles, James Wesley. Patriots: a novel of survival in the coming collapse. 4th ed. Berkeley, CA: Ulysses Press :, 2009. Print.
Rawles, James Wesley. How to survive the end of the world as we know it: tactics, techniques, and technologies for uncertain times. New York, N.Y.: Plume/Penguin Group, 2009. Print.
Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. Balancing the Christian life. Chicago: Moody Press, 1969. Print.
"Should Christians stockpile food/supplies in preparation for a possible future disaster?" Bible Questions Answered. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2011.
Taylor, Gene. "The Role of the Man in the Home." N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2011.
"The Christian Survival Guide Blog, Video Channel, and Forum." The Christian Survival Guide Blog, Video Channel, and Forum. WordPress, n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2011.
"The Christian Survivalist: A Biblical View of Preparedness" - Mark12 ministries Weblog."  Mark12ministries’s Weblog. WordPress, 9 Oct. 2008. Web. 12 Dec. 2011.
Welter, William, and Jean Egmon. The prepared mind of a leader: eight skills leaders use to innovate, make decisions, and solve problems. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2006. Print.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

I have always been minded to prepare.  From an early age, I was a boy scout, trained to “always be prepared”.  When my wife and I were newly married and living in a large metropolitan area, I felt impressed to purchase a 72 hour emergency kit of MREs, emergency radio, first aid, and radiation poisoning pills.   In the event of a large catastrophe, a city is about the worst place to be, so I wanted to be as prepared as possible. 

I recall the Katrina-fueled (no pun intended) gas shortage during 2007 in which the gas stations in the city we lived in were all but empty.  Thousands of cars lined up to be refueled; rage enveloped many city streets; price gauging was rampant; heightened paranoia and anxiety were present.  A city utterly dependant on oil came grinding to a halt and it wasn’t a pretty sight.  Soon we felt the need to move (for a variety of reasons, one being our neighbors door being kicked in by thieves and two, we did not want to raise children in a city). 

Upon moving to the area we live in now, I again purchased a 72 hour kit that included MREs and water. I began to stock up on potable water. I purchased rain barrels and a reputable filter system (namely the Katadyn pocket filter.  Very portable, has a washable filter, and lasts forever).  We do not have access to a well or even have a nearby water source within a ½ mile on a map, which was a sobering discovery.   For the suburban prepper, rain harvesting, filtration, distillation, and conservation are an absolute must.  I filtered some rain water recently and boiled it for a minute to kill any bacteria.  The taste was rather flat, but I didn’t get sick! 

I discovered that Costco sells incredible dehydrated food in large quantities for a very low price.  I purchased non-GMO seeds: the kind that WILL reproduce seeds.  I purchased an excellent seed vault on Amazon for only $40.  Upon making this seed purchase, I realized how deficient a farmer I actually am, and how greatly I need to procure legitimate farming skills. 

I soon discovered that a rocket stove is a must-have.  It uses wood only, they are easy to light, and are protected from the wind.  The directed heat these things put out is incredible and you’re utilizing an unlimited fuel source: wood.
I immediately bought an ax, some good files or a sharpener, and a hatchet. 
Gloves, paracord, tarps, an iron skillet and bivy sacks are also items I’ve recently bought.  In the event of earthquakes or powerful storms, your home or shelter may be destroyed.  Tarps, paracord, and even a quality tent on hand will make a huge difference.  Gloves may be an often-overlooked item, but consider the implications if you injure your hands and there is no medical care to be found.  The same goes for purchasing waterproof quality boots/foot wear. I also purchased medicine (aspirin, children’s Tylenol) for my children, as it will be in short supply in a SHTF situation.

Granted, these are bare minimum purchases, but I was still operating under the assumption of great trust in my government and thereby simply being prepared for any eventuality.

But I digress.  Something happened to me that eradicated my misplaced trust. I began to make these purchases in January of 2012 out of a deep spiritual conviction that is still planted firmly in my heart.

At the end of 2011, I felt impressed to pray and fast.  Considering I am a full-time minister, this was nothing new in some respects.  But this time, it felt different.  God clearly laid on my heart to skip a meal for the first 40 days of 2012.  For whatever reason, God really wanted to get my attention. 

As I began my fast, the first two weeks had nothing to do with survival or great impending change. My prayers were centered around my community, my church, people I know, family, friends and the like.  As I continued my fast, the weight of the sin of the world became clearer and clearer, crushing my soul with the levels of selfishness and evil that are in the world.  I felt led to pray “intercessory prayers”: prayers you pray for people/situations/areas/towns when they don’t even know they need it. 

Prayer and fasting can also be a powerful mirror to the soul, and I saw myself as being no exception in needing forgiveness.  I pressed on and sought the Lord.

Soon my prayers were expanded to the world: praying for world events, nations, leaders, and decisions.  I can’t fully explain it, but after two weeks of praying and fasting, God made it clear to me: start getting ready, and with urgency. 

I felt my eyes being opened.  I saw the governments of the world dealing with what they have: a losing hand, encumbered with debt so great there will eventually be no bail out for the USA – the world’s largest economy.  Their actions are telling of a deeper problem: our leaders have no hope, and they are spending and leading in a way that is indicative of that belief.  I asked myself, “If I managed my own finances as the government manages theirs, what would that say about my priorities?”  It would say that a) I am a complete idiot when it comes to managing money or b) we’re already screwed, so let’s rack up the credit card and spend like there is no tomorrow, because I believe they know this is the case.  The government has shown a shameful appreciation for both “a” and “b” characteristics these past few years.

In that same time period, Congress and President Obama passed the National Defense Authorization Act, essentially codifying martial law.  The most alarming aspect is that there is currently no need for such an Act to be passed, unless there is a future event they are aware that will occur and we are not.

I began to watch online videos of reputable individuals stating dreams and visions they have received, telling of a future cataclysm of epic proportions, each person unknowingly corroborating the other’s accounts.  If you know me, I am not a person who normally goes along with such things unless I am very convinced, as many “prophets” are unreliable.  However, prophets are certainly present in our world today, as they have always been, and God has shown throughout history that they play an important role in foretelling coming events.  Many of them have been having dreams for years leading up to this age in history, and their dreams are increasing with great frequency. 

I thought of Joel 2:28
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
   your old men will dream dreams,
   your young men will see visions.

Many of these prophets speak of asteroids that trigger worldwide earthquakes, famine, and flood.  The apostle John speaks of an asteroid referred to as “wormwood” that will strike the earth and render 1/3 of all air and water as poison (Revelation 8:10-11).  John also accounts that on the day of the Lord (when Christ returns) the “Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty,” are hiding in rocks and caves, pleading for mercy.  Every knowledgeable prepper out there knows that the government has been on an absolute bunker construction frenzy over the past 25 years.

In the Bible, a call to fasting can either be a) in response to a grievous social/national/personal event or b) in preparation for a coming famine, problem, or situation.  Consider Joseph in the book of Genesis:  God warns Joseph of the coming famine, to stock up on seven years worth of grain so the people of Egypt would not starve.  Likewise, God warned Noah to prepare by building an ark.  Many forget that Noah built the ark for 40 years.  Imagine the ridicule he and his family underwent as they pressed on, trusting the Lord in absolute faith, and in the end, their faith was justified.  God uses prophets to warn of impending doom.  If we ignore the crazy prophets out there and listen to the real people of virtue, then more might be prepared. [Editor Notes: Some references to modern day prophecy deleted for lack of a track record.]

Likewise, if we believe that God is a God of mercy and love, then God would warn us of impending doom or problems.  While God may not always warn us of personal issues in the future, He does have a track record of warning his people en masse (see Joel 2:28 again).  When I see thousands of people waking up to the fact that something is coming, I don’t see paranoia (as in Y2K), I see a deep instinct kicking in that is there by design. 

For example, when cows begin to play, it is usually going to rain.  Animals are aware of upcoming changes. Consider the signs of dolphins beaching themselves at Cape Cod (as they did in late February), thousands of birds mysteriously dying, bees just completely disappearing.  Animals know something that we would also know if we would listen: get ready.

So what does this have to with prepping?  Everything.  I believe that not only does God want us to prepare ourselves physically: ammunition, water, food, medicine for personal use as well as corporate goodwill, but God also wants us to prepare ourselves spiritually.   If we do not know Christ, God wants us to know Him.  If we do not have peace with God, then God wants us to know that peace.  All of the physical preparation in the world will still not account for your soul being lost when this life is over.  As Jesus said, “Man does not live by bread alone, but on the Word of the Lord” and “What good does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?”

More than anything, a living relationship with God is the ultimate prepper “must have”.  God bless each of you as we prepare for the future, trusting in God for whatever may come.  I pray for peace in the world, but I must believe the words of Romans 8:22 “For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”   The changes that await the earth are ultimately for good, although that may be hard to believe when they come.  God loves the world, and I believe God is calling certain individuals to be prepared, not just to survive, but to hopefully thrive in a much different society and world.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

I remember 25 years ago saying something to a supervisor at work about maybe developing the skills to grow a garden because, “you just never know what might happen.”  That seemingly innocent, off-hand comment brought upon me his very public pronouncement of being of a “doom-and-gloomer” and the ridicule of every one of my fellow workers with whom he gleefully shared our conversation.  While his immature and idiotic rebuke was stinging I can’t say that it changed my thinking or altered my behavior, but I just never began the hard work of preparing.  Even though I knew in my heart that I should, I didn’t make time to pursue it.  Being the sole financial provider for a family of six and serving in my local church, Cub Scouts and Little League can keep guy pretty busy, I suppose.  But things are changing.   After a couple decades of ignoring the gut instinct that I should be prepared to provide for my family in the case of some kind of economic, societal, or natural calamity, I read JWR’s book How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It and became a regular visitor to SurvivalBlog and now the journey has begun.  While I don’t have the financial resources to fill a barn like the guys on the reality television shows, I’ve committed $10 per week to my efforts – less than many folks waste on fast food and soda each week.  I’m gradually filling galvanized steel trash cans with vacuum-packed bags of rice, beans and oatmeal and my wife keeps our pantry stocked with hundreds of jars of home-canned vegetables from our garden.  My storage shelves are slowly gathering an assortment of cooking oil, peanut butter, Coleman fuel and small propane cylinders.  The two-way radios we take camping are now stored in insulated steel ammo cans as is my old marine radio and a dynamo powered weather radio.  The pitcher pump for my shallow well is on a shelf in the garage, the garden is in and I have an acre’s-worth of heirloom seeds in the deep freeze.  My firewood is cut, split and stacked.  I have oil lamps and a kerosene heater along with spare wicks for all.  Emergency candles and a brick of strike-anywhere matches are next on the list as is building a Faraday Cage for my generator and chain saws.  I picked up a big stoneware crock at an Amish hard goods store and I’m having a blast canning my home-made sauerkraut.  I’ve mastered raising chickens and pigs and will be adding a calf later this spring.  My next goal, in addition to continuing to fill the shelves, is to learn the art of cold smoking meats in case the freezers go down.  I’ve come a long way and have even farther to go and I’m loving every step of the journey.  This is truly an adventure. 

But there’s a nagging issue that keeps tugging at my heart.  There’s a Question that goes beyond the mind straight to my soul.  You see, I’m a Christ-follower.  And I believe that being a Christian is far more than just religion and a free ticket to the non-smoking section in eternity.  True Christianity is an all-encompassing worldview.   True Faith captures our hearts and causes us to see the world in a way that shapes the way we live in it.  And that should impact the way we approach TEOTWAWKI, should it not?  JWR does well reminding us often to set aside extra provisions for those who are unprepared.  And the December 2011 SurvivalBlog writing contest winner,  Barter, Post-TEOTWAWKI: The Micro Store  - is a great encouragement to all of us to think about how we can help others help themselves while improving our odds of thriving at the same time.  There’s more going on in this movement than just working for self-preservation and that’s something my worldview embraces. 

I dream often of a retreat location somewhere in the American Redoubt.  Wyoming perhaps, or Montana, or maybe even the Ozarks.  Or more exciting yet – my late-maternal grandfather was a freelance photographer with a serious case of wanderlust and spent a lot of time in the Coeur d’Alene country of northern Idaho.  He fell in love with it and always wanted to return there when he was older and though he never was able, he left us with his photographs and the memories of his adventures.  Maybe I should go there in his stead - talk about adding thrill to the adventure!  But then there’s that Question that haunts me.  That unresolved issue that goes beyond whether or not I have the time and the financial resources to pursue the dream of a retreat.  A Question with its roots implanted in the very foundation of my faith.  That voice that keeps whispering to me, “Is that the right thing for you to do?”  Is fleeing to the mountains to protect myself and my family from “the golden horde” in keeping with my faith’s call to “see the world in a way that shapes the way I live in it?”  I can’t answer that question for anyone else – and I don’t believe the answer is the same for every one of us – but I must answer it for myself.  JWR’s done an excellent job of laying out a Biblical rationale for food storage, self-defense and charity in the SurvivalBlog  Prayer Page.  As with all things Biblical, there’s a wealth of wisdom there whether you believe in God or not.  I won’t repeat it all here but if you haven’t read the page, you should as you’ll be stronger and wiser for the time spent there.  And isolating those Biblical missives from the full context of the whole of Scripture, life and eternity seems to make them scream, “Run for the hills!”  In fact, those words are actually in there.  When people start to ruminate about the end of the world (the real end, not just “the world as we know it”) I like to say, “I’m not worried about it.  I’ve read the end of the book.  I know how it ends.”  I have read the end of the book and I do know how it ends so I’m really not worried about it but the fact is some of the stuff at the end of the book isn’t very user-friendly and running for the hills isn’t a bad idea.  But that’s not really what we’re talking about prepping for here.  The end of one civilization (ours!) in reality would be just another footnote in history, not an eternity-ushering cosmic cataclysm, even though it might seem like it at the time.  But escaping even that “footnote in history” doesn’t seem like such a bad idea and providing for and protecting one’s family is unquestionably a Biblical mandate and I take those very seriously.  Oh, that it were all so simple!

The Question comes to me as the result of the reading I’ve done on Christian worldview.  One of today’s most prolific writers on the subject is Chuck Colson and in the prologue of his excellent treatise on basic Christian beliefs – The Faith – he tells the story of the early Christians of the Roman Empire and how their response to the 1st century smallpox epidemic was used by God to fuel the explosive growth of God’s plan to restore humanity to himself.  Because of the squalid living conditions in the cities of that day – much like will become of our cities when the water and sewers stop flowing – they were ripe for the spread of communicable disease and plagues of various kinds that would often decimate the population.  At the onset of these unnatural disasters, the wealthy – the physicians and elites – would flee to their country estates and leave the hordes to die and rot.  But then along came this new group of people called Christians who believed that every human being is a precious life created in the image of God.  They would go around the city, picking up the moaning bodies covered with putrid, oozing pox and take them to a place where they could, “give the victims water, keep them as clean as possible, and encourage them with kindness and prayer.”  Needless to say, many of those early Christ-followers performed this ministry at the expense of their very lives.  But somehow, by giving up their own lives, they added to their number, so much so that they, “progressed from being a small sect to the dominant cultural group.”  People saw the sacrifice and said, “I don’t know what it is that they’ve got, but whatever it is, I want it.  I want to be one of them.”  And the world will never be the same.  By “surviving in place,” – or in many cases not – these folks were used by God to change the world. 

And so the Question pursues me.  I’m blessed with a four-acre place in the country surrounded by hundreds of acres of farm fields and woods but we’re within a day’s walking distance of a city of 100,000 and an hour’s walk from a major interstate.  It’s impossible for me to lay up enough to help everyone who might come to my door even if I were to give it all away.  And how long could we really hold out against a horde of desperate hungry people or against the authorities who might come looking for something to “fairly redistribute?”  Probably not very long.  By trying to survive in place, could I lose my life and endanger the lives of my wife and my four children?  It would seem so.  But might that be a chance that at least some of us who call ourselves Christ-followers could be called to take?  I suspect it might. 

And so I continue to ponder the Question.  In the mean time, am I laying up a supply of food?  Absolutely.  Have I established a sustainable source of water?  Yep.  Do I have guns?  Better believe it.  Do I have ammunition?  Yes (even though somehow the word “enough” just never seems to apply here.)  Am I prepared to defend my family against an invasion by those who would steal us blind and leave us without the ability to survive?  Lock and load!    I will do what I need to do to protect my family and at the same time look for ways to live out my faith and honor my Lord by serving “the least of these.”  And whatever else happens . . . happens.  As pastor and author Charles Stanley says, “Obey God.  Trust all the consequences to Him.”

Monday, March 5, 2012

An event happened last summer that was hardly noticed by the global media. Following a lengthy civil war and free elections, the new nation of South Sudan was born. This fledgling nation has some tough challenges ahead of it. Marauding Islamist guerillas (the Janjaweed) from the north have had an ongoing campaign of burning villages, wholesale murder, and rape. The raiders even still take some slaves. The Janjaweed has been supported by the Sudanese government in Khartoum. After terrorizing Darfur and creating millions of refugees, according to intelligence analysts they are expected to next turn their attention to South Sudan. The latest twist in regional politics is that the new government in Libya is islamist--replacing Gaddafi's largely secular government. This will likely put further pressure on Chad, the Darfur region of Sudan, and South Sudan. The people of South Sudan need both your prayers and your tangible support.

I highly recommend watching the documentary The Devil Came on Horseback, about the Sudanese genocide in Darfur. It is now available as a "Watch Instantly" streaming video on Netflix. You won't appreciate the true gravity of the situation in Darfur and South Sudan until you have watched this film.

Looking at this situation strategically, what South Sudan needs is to establish well-trained and equipped village militias, to stop the marauders. The Janjaweed has been successful in their campaign of terror simply because in most villages, there was nobody shooting back at them. Once the villagers do start shooting back--accurately--then the Islamist raiders will stop. It is just that simple. But this will takes arms and training. This is where the American missionaries can help.

What is Needed:

  1. Prayer. Lots of it.
  2. Rallies and speeches aren't enough. South Sudan needs boots on the ground. If our government doesn't have the conviction to provide this, then our citizenry will.
  3. Organization and support infrastructure. The American volunteers need to have a support team--mostly in the U.S. These can all be volunteer retirees. Of immediate need are: a trustworthy banker, a travel coordinator, a logistics coordinator (preferably with some warehouse space near a major airport), a publicity coordinator, a South Sudan embassy liaison (someone that lives inside the D.C. beltway), and a congressional lobbyist (also someone that lives inside the D.C. beltway.)
  4. Logistics and fundraising volunteers in other friendly countries (particularly South Africa, Israel, Australia, Canada and England.)
  5. Copious funds need to be raised to arm the villagers. (Weapons, ammunition, web gear, cleaning equipment, HESCO bastions, et cetera.) Some of this could come from government grants. Some of the equipment could come from the south Sudan government, by way of the US government's FMS program.
  6. Funds need to be raised for volunteer American Mobile Training Teams (MTT)s and a small support team in the nation's capitol, Juba. This will include travel expenses, vehicles, weapons, field gear, fuel, meal stipends, and training expenses.)
  7. The MTTs need to be equipped and first get some brief "train the trainer" experience in the U.S. to master "The Way of the AK." (AK armorer skills, marksmanship, and effective employment.)

Issues and Challenges

  • Unity of purpose. The volunteers will undoubtedly have a variety of faiths. The president of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, is a Catholic. The nation itself is a conglomeration of animists, Christians of various denominations and a few muslims. There are a variety of tribal factions and more than 60 indigenous languages spoken in the country. Please pray that everyone involved finds unity in the common purpose of defending South Sudan.
  • Full cooperation of the new South Sudan government is needed, to provide visas, carnets, end use certificates, et cetera.
  • Help is needed from American companies, and companies abroad. Donated gear, or gear that is made available "at cost" would be greatly appreciated.
  • War on a shoestring budget. This volunteer program will have to accomplish a lot with minimal support. Please pray for a lot of "loaves and fishes" miracle moments.
  • There is presently great difficulty in identifying friend-from-foe, in the region. I recommend that all weapons and magazines used by the villagers and the MTTs be painted in flat Multicam colors. The MTTs should all wear Multicam uniforms. (Note: The South Sudanese are mostly blacks, while the Janjaweed raiders are mostly lighter-skinned arabs. The villagers, the JEM, the SLM, and the Janjaweed all wear a civilian tribal clothing and a mish-mash of camouflage uniforms. They are armed with an odd assortment of weapons, mostly AK-47s and and AKM variants. The Janjaweed, as proxies of the Sudanese government have also been given some M14s and G3s. The south Sudanese also have a mix of small arms including AKs and G3s. There is a similar motley assortment of vehicles. The risk of having volunteers shot by mistake must be avoided.)
  • The Janjaweed's modus operandi is to shut down cell phone transmissions just before raiding a village. So reliable HF radios need to be provided as a backup to the existing cellular networks.
  • The new government is poorly funded and not yet fully organized. They are focused on securing foreign aid and quelling internal disputes among various ethnic and tribal groups.
  • The Janjaweed is mainly mounted on horseback, giving them superior mobility. (Essentially it is a war between mounted arab nomads and peasant farmers and herdsmen. It is sort of a modern-day Magnificent Seven situation. But in this case the trainers will receive no pay.)

Key Goals:

  1. Share the gospel of Christ.
  2. Make every penny count. Create an all-volunteer organization with virtually no office overhead. (I recommend that it be modeled on The Gideons, where the volunteers actually pay annual dues.)
  3. Every man in a village with reasonable acumen will be trained as a minuteman style soldier. They will be trained to the best of their ability, preferably to the level of expert marksman.
  4. Develop resilient, redundant communications.
  5. Foster respect for the sovereignty of the South Sudan government.
  6. Security, peace and prosperity for the villagers.

My Hopes For Your Personal Mission:

  1. Volunteer your time.
  2. Encourage your Christian relatives with Iraq or Afghanistan combat experience to volunteer to go to South Sudan as missionaries. They will be "Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition" type missionaries. Particularly needed are: marksmanship trainers, armorers (with AK-47, G3, and M14 experience), infantry small unit tacticians, commo specialists, and medics.
  3. If you can't spare the service of your sons and daughters, then send some money, AK-47 magazines, and .30 caliber rifle cleaning kits. Details on where and how to to do this will follow.
  4. Even if you can't spare a dime, please pray for South Sudan and Darfur. Please make it part of your daily prayers.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mr. Rawles,
After reading the article entitled "Living Through the Real Estate Crash and Bankruptcy" by Brad C., I was absolutely livid. I am not an economics major but I firmly believe that our country is in the shape that it is due in large part to people like Brad C. who leveraged everything that they could to live "the American dream" and then screwed all of his creditors by simply deciding that he was not going to pay. Even going so far as to max out his credit cards knowing he was not going to be paying the bill because after all who wouldn't want "free money". It must be nice to take vacations with the family while not paying your bills. Then he has the nerve to reference thanking Jesus when he still has a job. He then justifies his actions by saying "'s just business." Just because something is legal does not make it morally right. Like many people, I owe more on my modest home than it is worth. Yes, I could walk away and say "screw the greedy bank that was nice enough to loan me money so that my family has a roof over their heads". After all, it's just business. I signed on the line and made an agreement. I am not going to back out of it because it is no longer convenient for me. There was once a time when a man's word meant something. I pray that Brad C. has truly learned his lesson. - Jason J.

Mr. Rawles,
I read your blog every day and appreciate all the knowledge you provide my family and I with. I am 28 years old and own a small company with 10 employees, in San Diego, California. I work hard and try to live a just and Christian life honoring my family's name and values. 

I can honestly say that I have never disagreed with a single thing written on your blog until today. The article "Living Through the Real Estate Crash and Bankruptcy, by Brad C." was very informative, but ultimately disheartening. I was sad and annoyed that a person as pathetic and weak as Brad C, would have the honor of being posted on your wonderful blog. I appreciate your note at the bottom regarding theft, but I must say that it can be misinterpreted to mean that Brad C did nothing wrong. Brad C is a common thief. Nothing more. As you, Mr. Rawles, have stated and shown us on many occasions, just because the government says something is okay, it doesn't mean that it is. Bankruptcy is a perfect example of this. I actually liked the posting until Brad C got to his self justification of theft with, " Do I feel bad?  Yes, but keep in mind this is just business." Brad obviously doesn't feel bad. I mean heck...he got a Lincoln Navigator, right?

As a business owner I have dealt with people like Brad C., who feel that debt failure is "just business" as he pathetically stated. I would love for Brad C. to let me know how I am supposed to explain this "just business" attitude to my employees? When people of Brad C's character don't pay me or go BK then buy a '98 Lincoln Navigator the next week am I supposed to just pretend that's OK and not feel ripped off? Brad seems to feel like this whole "real estate" thing popped out of nowhere and he was an innocent bystander? Like he took a business risk and he failed and it isn't his fault? He has no remorse for the bank or the companies that lent him credit to which he defaulted. This is wrong. He continually notes that he rented to "low income" housing regions. Why did he think these areas yield higher rental profits? Higher profits are justified by higher risk! Brad took a higher risk to make more money and failed. 

I am so tired of people justifying that walking away from obligations is acceptable because it is not convenient for them to stand by decisions. I was raised to stand by my decisions and live with them. It is people like Brad who have wrecked the country that I fought for and made it what it is today, not because Brad went bankrupt, but because Brad justified in his head that going BK wasn't his fault, is acceptable behavior, and is "just business". I compare Brad to people who are shocked their 401K went down 30%? Do they not understand what an investment is?

Brad is the type of person who lives by the motto "if you can't beat 'em, might as well join em". Good Christians and honest Americans like myself live by the motto "If I can't beat 'em then they are going to kill me trying to beat 'em".

Also please don't make us get out the scratchy violin for your poor "older RV" and '98 Lincoln Navigator, Brad C. That would be a heck of an upgrade from some of the rest of our situations and we all pay our bills. 

Regards and God bless, - Jimbo

I read the article entitled “Living Through the Real Estate Crash and Bankruptcy”, by Brad C. As I read the article I became increasingly disgusted and angry. I have long believed that the “get rich quick at the expense of all else” mentality is what is wrong with this country. Brad's article reinforces this belief. People like Brad, who bought up huge amounts of real estate back in the early 2000s are the ones who caused the real estate bubble. They queued up in front of development offices, months before construction even began, and they bought homes and immediately flipped them to make a quick buck with no intention of ever living in the homes. Meanwhile, folks like myself who just wanted to buy a home to live in had to pay inflated prices or move into smaller, more affordable places. I did the latter, and I am currently one of the unlucky homeowners who is underwater, thanks to the actions of folks like Brad C. But unlike Brad, I continue to make payments on my house – I am a man of my word and I live up to my obligations. So many these days do not.

I have heard a lot on the news lately about predatory lenders, but folks like Brad are just as guilty, if not more so, for the housing crisis. I call them predatory borrowers, and the article that Brad wrote makes me think (just for a split second) that it might be a good idea to bring back debtors prisons. I was shocked when he said that as he’s going through bankruptcy he advocated continuing to spend on credit cards and rack up debt. When he said he had recently bought an RV, I literally shouted at my computer screen. I was heartened to hear that no credit card company had issued a new card to Brad, despite his attempts to get one. I hope he never gets one again.

I see Brad as a selfish person, and he is exactly the kind of person I expect will behave quite poorly in a TEOTWAWKI situation – the kind that will attempt to take from others what he has not earned for himself. He of course will justify it much as he did his bankruptcy situation in the article – “trying to make the best of a bad situation” or “doing what you can to provide for your family”. He seems to have no problem rationalizing away these actions, which I (and probably many others) see as abhorrent. I fear that there are many others out there like Brad, and the size and the scope of the housing crisis reinforces this fear since there were so many others doing the exact same thing.

Thanks for your blog, I continue to read and learn. - Ian

Mr. Rawles,
Brad C. seems to be a real piece of work. I have a real estate sales license and used to be an appraiser. We have a name for guys like this and it's "Slumlord". Reading this letter made my blood boil and to be honest I couldn't even finish it. If the housing authorities told his section 8 tenants they could leave without notice it's because he failed ( I'm assuming after numerous notices ) to maintain his properties at a minimal standard. Then he talks about his "clean and sober" houses ( we call them "halfway houses" ) and how he can put ten beds in a house. First of all whoever thought it was a good idea to put up to ten parolees together in a house should have his head examined. I'm sure he didn't live in the neighborhoods where these houses were and I'm sure the neighbors were none too happy about it. Secondly, these parolees are not clean and sober. I live in a nice middle-class suburb ( I'm planning my escape but it takes time ). That is except for the "clean and sober" house down the street ( by the way, these properties are usually run down and poorly maintained ). These guys are always in the yard smoking grass and drinking. Calling the police is fruitless because the response times in our area are so slow. Drug testing these guys is a joke. There are numerous products to beat drug tests and I'm sure these guys are experts on the subject.

To read this guy's letter crying about his misfortunes and quoting scripture like he's some kind of pillar of the community was really more than I could take.
Thanks, - D.W.

Dear Mr. Rawles:
I was so stunned and upset by the recent posting by Brad C. I am writing to you for the very first time. This man doesn't understand the first thing about being a Christian and the fact that he included a verse at the end of his disgusting display of greed and sloth is just the icing on the cake. 

With all due respect, your total lack of moral regard for those that were living in your rental units is startling. You regarded them as being unworthy to know what was going on even though your poor planning placed them within 20 days of homelessness.  Did you ever stop to consider how many of these individuals would find shelter if suddenly one day the Sheriff’s Department showed up to force their eviction because of your personal recklessness?  Your own words convince me that you didn’t give a flying fig about anyone but yourself and your material possessions.  The fact that after though such financial difficulties your priorities are focused around your own extravagant creature comforts (You need that RV for what, exactly???) convinces me that you have learned absolutely nothing and will end up getting yourself back into the exact same situation as soon as you possibly can. Your own statement that you are already applying for credit cards again is proof of your continued ignorance. PAY YOUR DEBTS – LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS!
When I combined this with your apparent lack of sense of responsibility to pay your credit cards I sir am amazed.  Your determination that the credit card companies whose money you spent wasn’t really lost is ridiculous. You took their money and refused to return it. That is theft.  I cannot think of many posters on this site that have displayed less ethics.  The fact that you ended your post with a Biblical verse, Luke 12:15: "Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of things which he possesseth." is laughable at best.  You obviously have no true understanding of Christian charity.  I hope your current landlord doesn’t regard you with as much disdain as you showed your tenants. Although I’m sure most that read your post would agree that you would deserve it. Perhaps then you’ll get it!

I will pray for your family that you will wise up and realize how foolish you really are before you end up homeless and hungry. Sincerely, - M.M.

JWR Replies: As I was first reading Brad C.'s lengthy article, I kept expecting to see a transition to genuine repentance and restitution. But there was none! I realized that there would be lots of righteous anger in rebuttal letters. (I chose the best five from among the nine that came in.) Despite my initial reservations, I'm glad that I decided to go ahead and run the article as a pointed example of how not to live. Hopefully his poor example will encourage SurvivalBlog readers live within their means and not fall into into the same debt trap. I also hope that you can see the peril of equivocating and convincing yourself that "it is just business" to cheat your creditors. Theft is theft. Calling it something else doesn't change it, or it's consequences. There is a Supreme Judge of the universe, and ultimately we will all answer for our unrepentant sins. Perhaps not in this life, but surely, beyond.

As my mother is fond of saying: "Time wounds all heels."

Friday, January 27, 2012

As an international war correspondent, my work takes me to more than a dozen far-flung war zones every year. In my travels, I am often reminded just how thin the veneer of civilization really is, and get to meet many families caught in crisis and see the different ways they manage to survive.
A recent trip to Africa brought one of the most powerful examples, where I met a family of missionaries who have built their lives in one of the most harsh and inhospitable corners of the planet. While for most survivalists, prepping for “TEOTWAWKI” is a “what if” scenario, for these missionaries preparedness is an everyday, life-or-death reality.
They are what you could call "extreme missionaries;" Christian families who move far beyond the end of the pavement to bring the good news of God's love to people who have no concept of things like peace, forgiveness, redemption, grace or even civilization.

When my oldest son, Mason and I landed in Nairobi, we were picked up by the T. family. They've been working in Kenya for four generations, and live in the far northern part of the country on the shores of the world's largest desert lake - Lake Turkana.

When they moved there twenty years ago, the four tribes living in the area (Rendille, Samburu, Turkana and El Molo) were all at war with each other. They would often raid each others' villages and steal each others' camels, goats and women. There was little fresh water, (the lake is barely potable, since it has no outlet) and since the tribes considered fish to be unclean, food was also scarce. The ground is volcanic rock, and almost nothing grows in the infertile soil. Temperatures often top 130 degrees in summer, and rarely get below 100. To call it a hard, inhospitable place would be the height of understatement.
The trip to their home took 23 hours of driving from Nairobi - most of it on desert two-track and much of it requiring 4-wheel drive. We made the trip heavily armed, as Somali bandits are known to ambush vehicles in that area. Not long ago another mission family was ambushed and the wife shot in the leg. We kept a sentry posted on top of the truck at all times to keep an eye out for bandits and make them think twice when they saw a man with a shotgun. Jim has worked with the Kenyan government to be able to legally carry a firearm wherever he goes. This is necessary because of the large number of wild animals – both human and otherwise. Lions were the biggest danger, but during our drive to Loiyangalani, we enjoyed seeing camels, dik-dik, topi, and many others. Mason and the T.'s daughter spent most of the trip riding on the rack above the truck's cab, spotting wildlife. It occurred to me that such a thing would probably get a guy arrested back in the states, but here in Kenya, the nanny state was nowhere to be found. A refreshing feeling, to say the least.
After a grueling two-day trip, we arrived at the mission station. When the T.'s first moved to Lake Turkana, they lived in a shipping container and camped out in front of it. They cooked on three rocks, like the locals. Eventually Jim identified a spring near the only stand of palm trees in the area (which all the locals used as a bathroom since it afforded the only privacy for miles). He talked the local elders into allowing him to fence off the area and then dig out the spring. He installed a cistern once he hit bedrock and then put in underground piping to four water points - one for each tribe. The spring today pumps out 230 gallons a minute of water so pure you could bottle it, and serves almost 10,000 people. Without the spring to fight over, the four tribes now live in relative harmony together in the village, something which previously would have been unthinkable to them.  It's a great lesson on survival - working to make allies of one's neighbors, thereby making everyone safer.

Jim and his family must be completely self-sufficient for up to four months at at time.  They have a larder which can sustain them for over a year, but gardening is impossible due to the high temperatures, desert climate and volcanic soil. Camel meat is available from time to time in the village, but other than that, they must plan, and shop for only a few trips a year to the nearest grocery store – in Nairobi. Jim's wife, Barb, has become an expert at planning, cooking from scratch and coping with unexpected visitors from time to time. Jim and his sons supplement their the family's protein by fishing Lake Turkana for giant nile perch.  He says they have enough fishing tackle to survive on fish for "at least a thousand years."  They took Mason and I fishing during our visit. We spent two hours trolling the lake in a tiny john boat, which made me a little nervous since the lake is known for its giant salt-water crocodiles. Our afternoon on the lake yielded two “small” Nile perch, which fleshed out to about forty pounds of meat. We feasted on the succulent fish that night and Barb canned or froze what we couldn't eat.

An engineer by trade, Jim has built a very comfortable and secure fortress for his family in this desolate place. A year after moving to Loiyangalani, Jim identified a seam of limestone that protruded from the lava rock in an area near the village. He then taught two local men how to quarry the limestone and make building stones of it. He then agreed to purchase all the stones they could make until his home was built. Those men are today two of the most prosperous (and hardworking!) men in the village.
From these stones, Jim constructed a two-story home that is a model of a secure survival retreat. Built in the shape of a squared-off horseshoe, the main part of the house holds the sleeping quarters (upstairs), kitchen, bathroom, living and dining areas, and a large pantry. Beneath the larder is a large “panic room” accessed through a blast-proof metal trap door. Inside are supplies for at least six months, camping gear, etc. The air vents for the panic room are disguised around the house, and built such that if some Goblin were to get the bright idea to drop a grenade down one of them, a hidden trap at crotch-level would absolutely ruin his day.
The windows are secured with built-in iron bars, and the doors made from plywood laminated over plate steel thick enough to stop small arms fire, machetes, et cetera. The stones from which the home is built would stand up to anything up to rocket-propelled grenades.

The home is situated on a knoll above the village, and Jim has made use of an old bulldozer and backhoe to ensure that there is only one way into and out of his redoubt by vehicle. The third-floor rooftop of the home is constructed with four-foot crenellated walls with flip-up metal firing ports, commanding unobstructed fields of fire in every direction. The roof also holds two 1,000-gallon potable water tanks which gravity-feed the plumbing system in the house. Two more 1,000-gallon tanks sit in the back of his old Mercedes deuce-and-a-half truck, and every month or so he drives to the spring and pumps them full, then uses them to re-fill the tanks in his home. He keeps all four tanks full at all times. His plan is to eventually dig a well on his own property to further secure his water supply.

Jim has two wind turbines (Lake Turkana is one of the most consistently windy places on the planet) and a solar array, from which he generates his power. The battery bank sits in a small locking closet in the laundry/guest bedroom.

There is a garage attached to the house, fully stocked with tools and other supplies. Between that and the laundry on the other end of the main structure, a large raised concrete patio provides shaded outdoor living space with gorgeous views of Lake Turkana in the distance. A shortwave radio enables periodic communication with other missionaries around the country. A detached petroleum, oils, and lubricants (POL) shed holds drums of fuel, oil and other petroleum products, enough for at least a year of use for vehicles and back-up generators. Most of their local transportation is accomplished on the four Honda ATVs which are always kept in top running condition, and are customized with winches, spotlights and small air compressors.

The T.'s have worked hard over the years to improve the lives of the people to whom they minister, physically as well as spiritually. Jim recognized that security was an absolute must for the local populace before he could bring them the good news of God's love. So he set out to train and equip the men of the village to protect their families. By working with the Kenyan government, a local police force was established, and the men of the village were recruited into a kind of “neighborhood watch.” He taught them how to use the same limestone block he used on his own home to build stone huts for their families. For about the price of a camel, the villagers can replace their mud-and-stick huts, which are unsanitary, fire-prone and give no security, with stone huts that are much better in every way. He taught them about sanitation and convinced them that fish from the lake were safe to eat. Jim and his family are all trained in EMT and wilderness medicine, and his sons became the village ambulance service in their early teens. They constructed an ingenious “floating” litter trailer which is pulled behind the ATV that enables them to transport an injured or sick villager the six hours to the nearest clinic, run by fellow missionaries.

They started a church by holding a family Bible study every morning in front of their home. Curious tribesmen and women would come and listen as they had their devotions, eventually asking questions and one by one being converted to the Christian faith. Today the church has nearly 100 members, who have pooled their resources to build a limestone church building, which Jim designed in such a way that it also serves as an emergency shelter for the villagers in case of attack. It is flame proof, highly secure and boasts a three-story tower with firing ports covering all angles of approach.

The first night of our visit with the family, I was jolted awake at 3am by the sound of gunfire in the village, about 300 yards from Jim's front door. I sat up in bed, but before I could react further, I heard Jim's voice booming out of the upstairs window, “Holton! Get inside quick!”

My sleeping teenage son was exhausted from our two-day trek to Loiyangalani. Tired enough that the gunfire failed to rouse him. I jumped up and dragged his limp form the fifteen yards or so to the main house. (we had been sleeping in the laundry room). By the time we got inside, he was awake, though may not have yet remembered what country we were in. He was further perplexed when Jim appeared at the bottom of the stairs dressed in level-III body armor, kevlar helmet and boxer shorts, carrying two pump shotguns. He tossed one to me and the other at Mason, and stationed each of us near windows overlooking the front and rear of the house. That cleared the cobwebs out of Mason's brain in a hurry.

Tense minutes passed as the sound of sporadic gunfire drifted up from the village below. Jim was back upstairs, calling the local police commander on his cellular telephone. I marveled that there was cell service this far from civilization. After a half hour or so, the firing had subsided and Jim was able to piece together what had happened: Somali bandits had raided the village intending to steal a herd of camels. To their credit, the men of the village had driven the bandits off with some well-controlled bursts of gunfire from their personal arsenals of aged AK-47s. Jim commented that several years ago, the men had no weapons other than spears and knives, and likely would have abandoned their camels, homes and families and run away. Jim's example of preparedness has led the villagers to be much more willing to stand up for themselves and protect their families. In so doing, he has made his own family that much more secure.

Loiyangalani is still a dangerous place to live. But Jim has done just about everything possible to safeguard not only his own family, but the entire community. In addition to that, the T. family has established a training center in North Carolina called “The Master's Mission,” where would-be missionaries spend eleven months learning skills like construction, alternative energy, animal husbandry, civil engineering, auto maintenance, personal protection and more. This enables them to survive and thrive in a third-world ministry field. But it's not just missionaries who need these skills. Anyone serious about being prepared for uncertain times could learn from the example of this intrepid missionary family.
For photos of our trip to Kenya, visit this Flickr page. I also made a news feature about our trip which aired on the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). An extended version of this video is available here.

JWR Adds: You may recognize Chuck Holton's name from some of his reports on CBN (like this one), or from his web site Homesteading Today.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Reading Paul's "Combating the Darkness Within" article, I can see that he has a scientific mind, lacking faith in God, or maybe even belief! And this is one of the first things you need in the survival mind set, a true faith in God, and guidance from the Holy Spirit, and without this guidance, no matter how prepared your are materially, your chances of making the right decisions when the time comes are questionable at best, without God's spirit guiding you. This is why you always store a little more than what you need for [charity for] your family, friends and neighbors! With the right spiritual guidance, your oil bottle and your grain bucket may never go empty!
I am willing to help those in need, if they come asking! But I'm also just as prepared to kill those that come to take by force, or try to do harm to me, my family, or my friends or neighbors! And I believe God will forgive us for this type of killing. We have an obligation to protect our own, and those around us when times get rough. My suggestion to Paul is spend a little more time in the Bible and not so much time in books like "The Lucifer Effect"! Read books that build your spirit up, not take it down. Or [those that] make you question whether or not you have a dark side, which we all do, but strong faith keeps our compass needle pointing north at all times, if you get my meaning. - J.M.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I am a new arrival to the survival community.  Until recently I was just another mindless suburbanite going about my daily routine blissfully ignorant of the world around me.  It was only by chance that a series of events happened in my life that opened my eyes to needs of survival preparation.  I won’t say that I was completely clueless about survival, but rather it simply wasn’t real to me.  Yes, I knew that tough times are just over the horizon but I simply believed that I would make it through somehow.  Ironically, it was the housing crisis that completely changed my life.  My wife and I moved to another town in 2008 so that I could start a new job and when our house didn’t sell we found ourselves in a financial struggle that has lasted to this day.  Somewhere in the midst of all this I came to the realization that what we were going through was a microcosm of the greater survival struggles that lay ahead.  Survival had suddenly become very real in my life.  When I thought about these things and how my own actions, or lack there of, had made our situation so much worse I realized that I needed to begin preparations so that future struggles aren’t so chaotic.  This is why food storage and similar topics have become so important to me.  I want to be ready for whatever life brings.

Aside from being a scientist by trade I am also an amateur writer and wannabe author.  I’ve written a number of short stories and even a full length novel but none have managed to create much of a spark in the literary world.  I find that writing has become the therapy that helps me get by and is certainly cheaper than professional counseling.  Recently, I wrote a very long piece about some observations I had made concerning survival based on my struggle for financial survival.  All in all I thought it was pretty good and considered submitting it here for publication on the SurvivalBlog.  I decided not to do so because it is a rather ponderous work and really doesn’t have anything new to say.  Some of the bullet points are to expect the worst of humanity, beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing, expect to do the hard things, always expect a situation to be as difficult as possible, and expect the experience to change you.  I expanded these concepts with specific examples I had observed in how I was handling my situation or in what I had seen in others.  Some time after writing this I realized that very little of what I had written had anything to do with physical things or tangible objects such as food or money.  One might think that while experiencing a financial crisis I would have written at length about money or financial preparation, but ultimately I only covered it briefly.  The entire work was mainly a piece on human behavior; either other’s or my own.  For me the things that were of most significance weren’t physical but rather moral and spiritual.  What I did and what others tried to do to me were what I remember most.  With this in mind I wonder sometimes whether survivalists are asking the right questions when considering future survival and TEOTWAWKI or SHTF situations.  Should we be focusing only on tangible things like the best survival weapons or how much food should I store, or should we also be asking ourselves, “What will I become?” or “How will I behave?”  Ask yourself, “What will I become as a person, a parent, or a spouse when my world comes crashing down around me and how will those around be behave as well?”  Having a firm understanding of the answer may well determine whether you succeed or fail at survival.

What Is Survival? 
            When we make survival plans are we simply trying to ensure our physical survival or are we also attempting to maintain the envelope of normalcy that surrounds our lives and makes us who we are.  As people we are the sum of our circumstances.  We think, act, and believe in ways that are dictated by our own values and the world around us.  Some of the things in our world that make us be ourselves are the rule of law, contemporary culture, established religions, our families, our upbringing, our friends, our jobs, etc.  We are also motivated by our perception of our world and of ourselves.  Can we truly expect to be the same people and act as we always have once our world is stripped away and we are thrust into a situation where the future is completely unknown?  How could we?  Shouldn’t we expect that when our world changes we will also change?  The greatest question is whether we will change for the better or for worse.

Are you an evil person?

            I’m in the process of reading a book entitled The Lucifer Effect by Phillip Zimbardo and I strongly recommend it to all survivalists.  The title of this book is also the name of a process by which ordinary people are transformed into doers of evil by the circumstances around them.  The bulk of this book is a narrative about something called the Stanford Prison Experiment.  For anyone who isn’t familiar with this experiment it was done in 1971 and consisted of a mock prison where prescreened young men played the rolls of prisoners and guards.  In the years since this experiment took place it has become a classic model of how people can be transformed by their situations.  In the case of the Stanford Prison Experiment the guards became sadistic, brutal, and even sexually abusive while the prisoners became ever more obedient and compliant to the point of suffering severe emotional distress.  Another interesting aspect of this experiment is that it spilled over into the community of individuals conducting the experiment and even changed their behavior in remarkable ways.  The remainder of the book is actually the more interesting part with an analysis of the experiment data and other real world situations where seemingly ordinary people have done evil.  As I’m reading this book I can’t help but see correlations between the Stanford Prison Experiment, the Lucifer Effect, and a TEOTWAWKI survival situation. 

Before I get too much further into this I should bring out one of the key concepts of this book and that is the difference between dispositional and situational evil.  Dispositional evil is the concept or belief that people who do bad things are bad people to begin with.  Conversely, is the belief that good people will do good things regardless of the situation.  Situational evil is the belief that good people can be turned evil by the circumstances they are in and the degree to which they become evil is directly proportional to the severity of the situation and the power they possess.  I believe the truth is somewhere in the middle and both factors play a role in human behavior.  Regardless of how much situations play a roll in our behavior it would stand to reason that we should explore such possibilities as part of our survival preparations.  Consider this quote from The Lucifer Effect:

Good people can be induced, seduced, and initiated into behaving in evil
ways. They can also be led to act in irrational, stupid, self-destructive, antisocial, and mindless ways when they are immersed in "total situations" that impact human nature in ways that challenge our sense of the stability and consistency of individual personality, of character, and of morality.

If the world as we know it does end and we are all thrust into survival mode then wouldn’t this be the ultimate “total situation” that would challenge our sense of stability and morality?  Could such a situation induce or seduce good people, i.e. us, into behaving in evil ways.  If evil is too strong a term then how about unspeakable.  Allow me to give an example in my own life. Recently, I discovered Marjory Wildcraft after hearing her interviewed on Coast to Coast AM.  The next day I visited her web site and signed up for her newsletter.  I also watched the preview for her Food Production Systems for a Backyard or Small Farm DVD and something very profound struck me.  As I watched the segment on raising rabbits it occurred to me that part of Mrs. Wildcraft’s survival scenario is the slaughter of young rabbits for food.  The sight of that adorable white rabbit on my computer screen associated with terms like “harvesting” and “roasters” really disturbed me.  Jokingly, I said to my wife, “I can’t kill little bunny rabbits,” although I wasn’t joking.  The thought of it really disturbed me.  My wife’s response was even more disturbing.  She looked at me stone faced and said, “You would if you got hungry enough.”  At that moment I realized the power of our situations to change us.  For me the act of killing a small animal is unspeakable.  After reading how to kill a rabbit on-line I find it even more unspeakable, although I fully understand that if I got hungry enough I wouldn’t be able to kill that little bunny fast enough.  Certainly, killing a rabbit for food is not evil but it is something that many would consider to be an unspeakable act yet it is something that I believe we would all do gladly if it meant surviving another day.

Respect My Authority!

Another concept that is explored at length in The Lucifer Effect is that of power.  The acquisition, maintenance, and administration of power are the key factors in the transformation of individuals from good to evil.  Consider again TEOTWAWKI.  In such a situation the powerful will be those who control survival resources such as food and water.  And, this power will be absolute power over life and death and will be happening without any rule of law.  Can anyone argue that suddenly being thrust into a situation where one controls whether others live or die wouldn’t have a profound impact on that person?  We all want to believe that we would be loving and benevolent stewards of our resources but can we really be certain of this until are actually in that situation?

Don’t Rock the Boat!

Another concept explored in The Lucifer Effect is that of obedience and the evil of inaction.  The book explores a number of different situations in which blind obedience led to or helped facilitate evil even to the point of parents murdering their own children such as in the case of the People’s Temple in Jonestown, Guyana.  Not everyone can have power so in any situation there are those with power and those who must obey that power.  In a survival situation the prospect of death will be an overwhelming factor to ensure obedience.  How vigorously would someone protest another’s abuse of power if it meant being cut off from basic resources or cast out of one’s survival community?

If It Feels Good, Do It!

Another concept that I will touch on that is explored at length in The Lucifer Effect is that of ethics, both absolute and relative.  People will find a way to justify their behavior in any situation and survival will be a tremendous justification of almost any act.

What Would You Do?

You’re a man, a father, and a husband.  You’ve made survival preparations for your family and finally the day comes when you must put your plans into action.  It’s chaos in the streets but you are safe at you bug out location.  Something has happened and the world has degenerated into bedlam.  You’re worried and the stress has pushed your marriage and family to the brink.  You have some survival resources but you don’t really know how long they will last or if things outside will ever get back to normal.  You also worry that someone will discover that you are doing alright and realize that you have the things that everyone now needs.  The thought of an armed intrusion or overwhelming odds scares the daylights out of you.  So, you wait and hope for things to get better.  Suddenly, onto your doorstep wanders a young woman holding a small child.  You can see that they are in distress and that the child will soon die without food and water.  What do you do?  Let me throw in one more thing:  She’s young and beautiful. Consider this continuum of options.

  1. Do you give the young woman what she needs, knowing that it only shortens your own survival time [in an environment where there is no source of resupply]?  You know that you can’t let her leave afterwards because she might tell others about you, what you have, and where you are so she would become a permanent addition to your community draining you of even more resources.
  2. Do you turn her away with the justification that her child is going to die any way and you can’t spare the food?
  3. Do you allow her to stay with the hopes that maybe you can develop a relationship with her behind your wife’s back?
  4. Do you kill your wife and replace her with this younger model?  After all, who is going to say anything?  There are no cops.
  5. Do you openly extort sex in exchange for food with your wife’s full knowledge?  What is she going to say?  She’ll keep her mouth shut or find herself out in the cold.
  6. Do you put a bullet in the young girl’s brain and then her child’s on the belief that it is ending their suffering and saving them from having to face this ordeal any longer?
  7. Or, do you do 5 and then 6?

We all want to believe that we would take the first option, but can any of us be certain how we would react until we face such a situation?  I believe that there are people who could justify any of those options through ethical relativism and their new-found power would only serve to corrupt their thinking. 

Let’s assume that you are the young woman.  You love your child more than life itself?  Would you turn your head and allow some lecherous old man to do unspeakable things to you knowing that it will save your child?  Would you gladly stand by or even conspire for the disposal of the current wife so that you can take her place?  What if you were the wife?  In your fear of losing your source of survival would you cover your ears and ignore the screams of a young woman being brutalized in the next room?  Would you stand by and refuse to come to her aid in complete obedience to your husband if it meant you and your child might meet the same fate if you tried to help?  These may seem like harsh questions but one day we may all face such harsh situations.

Who Are They?

The last concept that I’m going to touch on that is explored in The Lucifer Effect is that of “Others.”  What does that mean?  The concept of an “Other” is any group that can be identified, denigrated, dehumanized, and de-individualized.  Evil against other people doesn’t start immediately.  It often starts with the creation of an “Other” group and the process of transforming them from human beings into objects worthy of ridicule, scorn and extermination.  Consider Nazi Germany and the extermination of the Jews.  The Nazi propaganda machine had so successfully transformed the Jewish people into wretched objects where the extermination of which was greeted with cheers and gleeful participation.  Such has happened many times since in places like Rwanda and Cambodia and it even played a role in racial discrimination in our own country.

Why point this out?  It doesn’t take much reading on the many survival sites to realize that survivalists are a proud bunch.  I have seen countless articles and rambling forum entries about how much better “we” are than “they.”  In this case the “they” are the unprepared, the unenlightened, or those who have not converted to the survival ethos. 
Imagine if the husband in our above scenario had this same opinion about the unprepared.  How much worse would his reaction to the young woman be?  Would he think that his treatment of her is what she deserved for not being better prepared?  I’ll answer that with a firm yes.

Once the SHTF you’re going to see a great many “Others” become targets.  I’m talking about minorities, liberals, elderly, Christians, or simply that bully who was mean to someone in the fifth grade.  Unfortunately, we will all carry our baggage with us into a survival situation.  The biggest mistake that we can make is to assume that just because we are enlightened about preparedness that we are somehow more moral, more trustworthy, or somehow better human beings than the vast unwashed masses.

Yeah, So What?

Is there anything that I can offer as an application to survival?  Perhaps the greatest is to know yourself and those around you.  Don’t allow anyone to control your survival resources but you.  Make a connection with people through charity and other good works now that gives you a more compassionate heart.  And lastly, perhaps we should all make as much effort in fixing our broken society as we do in preparing to leave it in order to keep the world from ending altogether.

JWR Adds: What Paul has discussed is some serious food for thought. In the context of a post-collapse world, just the fact that you have stored up tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition, while most of your neighbors have just have a couple of hundred rounds on hand might someday give you the equivalent of a rich man's bank account. If you haven't already, I beg you to accept Christ Jesus as your savior, as a key part of your personal readiness. Charity and self-control are seen in their full as fruits of the Holy Spirit. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit indwells us, when we become Christians. I can think of no better way to be sure that we are up to facing tough decisions, in traumatic times. Get right with God!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Spokane was sparkling with light and still bustling when I looked out at it from a downtown building last night. So beautiful in the darkness. My thoughts went out to the hundreds of thousands of little children, women, grandmothers, grandfathers, boys, girls, and men those lights represented. Not just people – persons, each one unique, each with God’s calling on their lives for His purposes. Yet most of them are lost: hopelessly adrift in an empty, frantic, stupid, shallow culture of blindness and conformity and entertainment. Like the people of Jonah’s time they metaphorically don’t know their right hand from their left hand. They’re not so much like sheep anymore these days (I have sheep and know their nature), they’re more like stereotypical lemmings rushing to their mass suicide, in a million different ways.

My heart goes out to them – there, but for the grace of God, go I. There are so many of them. Thankfully, interspersed among them are those who are good, who are strong, who are aware and informed, who can be counted on to rise to the occasion in a crisis. Many of these are already prepared for the spectrum of nation-destroying crises which loom ahead in the mist of time: EMP, pandemic, a New Madrid earthquake, mini-ice age, drought, nuclear terror, persecution and tyranny. And still more – you know the list...

They – like my wife and I – have worked, studied, sacrificed, and planned so that their families will be shielded from the brunt of whatever comes that our sovereign God permits in these last days. Together we preppers are “brothers in arms” as it were, in this exceptional pre-crisis mobilization.
I’ve long pondered what my purpose in these days might be. And I’ve concluded that it’s not enough – for me, at least – to survive merely in order to survive another day. There must be a greater purpose. And so there is.

A few weeks ago our pastor shared this passage that held a vital insight for me: A person once asked Jesus, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘… you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” – Mark 12:29-31 (NLT)

Much to my surprise, no matter how preoccupied I become with the many concerns and issues and problems of our day, my heart always comes back to my Creator. I may wander, but He guides me back. I'm drawn irresistibly to him, as the Sun's gravity holds the earth to its course in space. I may not always show it – how I WISH I did – but Jesus has become the center of my existence. And in Him is great strength, and the peace I so desperately need. Most of you know of what I speak. It’s certainly not about what great followers “we” are. It’s about how great HE is and how he captivates our hearts. And in this way we begin to fulfill the “most important” purpose of our lives.

But there is a fundamental second goal – a deep purpose worth living – and dying – for: to “love our neighbors.” Unfortunately, the task of preparing for an End-of-The-World-As-We-Know-It catastrophe is well nigh overwhelming, particularly at the beginning. Prepping can easily become so intensely focused on studying/training/purchasing for self- and family-preservation, and it’s so intrinsically defensive, that we lose all perspective. And as “survival” becomes everything, so we slowly begin to forget that the path of satisfaction and joy, healing of our own hearts’ wounds and an enriching sense of purpose – those things we long for and work so hard for – is found in serving others.

And, yes, it’s just hard to think charitably about the very ones who might become in desperation the dreaded Golden Horde and prey on those we love. “It’s their own fault, they could have gotten informed, they do not deserve our help, they played while we prepared, they are fools…” – it’s all, tragically, true. But this is what the virtues of mercy and pity and compassion are all about! Tragedy and calamity and danger do not negate the simple truth of this second “most important commandment.”

This is easier to consider if our preps are well along. But even if we are in the “panic phase,” realizing we’ve begun “too late” to prep, we can still do something now. We need not wait until all of our own plans are totally complete before we consider others. It’s true, that we cannot save them all. We just can’t. But can we really just do nothing and hunker down while the world goes mad around us? We turn our backs on them today only at our own peril and loss. Yes, certainly, our families come first, then the local survival community – our team, our friends. Yes, we must avoid giving potential adversaries information about our capabilities and resources that they might take advantage of (i.e., OPSEC), and plan for a strong defense if and when that time comes, and all those other wise things.

OPSEC is an important principle, but it cannot be the most important factor. There is always risk (sometimes unforeseen risk), in everything we do and not do. I dare say there are ways to help others that would not risk OPSEC at all. It's really a continuum, from zero risk right up to sacrificing oneself for a reasonable, worthy cause. Some risks are worth taking.
Even while we work to protect our own we can be reaching out to make a difference. If we don’t, who will? You know that answer.

This calls for bold and daring action. We can prepare and teach and warn and equip in a hundred creative, savvy ways. Photocopy articles to share, “jump start” the widow’s preps with rice and beans and wheat (don’t forget the diatomaceous earth!), and make plans with other preppers how we might work together to feed and rescue our unprepared neighbors.
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” – Matthew 9:36 (NLT)

Like the four intrepid Bielski brothers in WWII Poland who saved 1,236 Jews from death at Hitler’s hand, our call, our purpose in this regard, is to “save as many as we can.” And the strategy and scope of that will be different for each of us! Never forget that God has given us each unique skills and resources and station in life for a purpose.
Pray about it, and watch for the opportunities. Find a way. Save as many as you can.

Once there was a great storm that washed thousands of starfish up onshore. As an old man walked the beach he saw a young boy picking up stranded starfish and quickly returning them to the sea.
The man approached the boy and said, “What are you doing? The sun is rising. What difference does it make? They're all going to die anyway.” As the boy rose from gently tossing back yet another starfish he said, “I made a difference to THAT one…”

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I am writing about a topic that has bothered me for some time: Why are preppers so hatefully persecuted? We know from the Bible that this is not a new phenomenon, as Noah was severely persecuted for the preparations God ordered him to make. Could you please put it out to your readers?

Thank you very much for your time, - Drew in Idaho

JWR Replies: Envy is a sin that is all too common. That is just part of living in a sinful, fallen world. Those who are unprepared often feel both envy and guilt for not providing for their own families. Instead of correcting this fault in themselves, they instead lash out at those that have prepared. This is one reason why the details of our preparations should be kept private. If you aren't circumspect, then you might become the target of an angry mob, in a disaster.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Many SurvivalBlog readers have been prepping for awhile and are comfortable with their plans.  However, the process can be overwhelming for people who have recently “woke up” or who are trying to convince loved ones who aren’t sold on the need or desirability of prepping.

This shouldn’t be minimized or downplayed.  It can be very disturbing when you first realize you aren’t   self-sufficient.  It is easy to become overwhelmed with the scope, cost, and time necessary to prepare.  The concept of TEOTWAWKI can be troubling and concerning even to completely self-sufficient preppers. 
Even the possibility of angry mobs trying to fight off starvation, heavily armed gangs running wild with little or no law enforcement, and rampant disease and poverty seems like something out of a Mad Max movie.   We have been raised in the “land of plenty”; these things happen in other places, not here.  It is troubling enough that a person’s mental processes can shut down as the normalcy bias kicks in.
People then convince themselves that things won’t get that bad.  If you raise these ideas in certain social circles, you will be met with looks that suggest you belong in a mental institution.  It is easy to feel embarrassed and unsure of what to do, or have fear, doubt, uncertainty, and anxiety cloud your judgment.
Based on my own recent experience, I have a few suggestions for people who are just starting out.

What I’ve listed below is a mental framework for how to approach your survival planning.  I found it is easier to develop a strategy if you utilize this framework.  It is also easier to explain to loved ones or friends who may not be sure that prepping is necessary or advisable.
Please keep in mind that the three categories below are not hard and fast rules but a general conceptual approach.  Many prepping activities can be classified in more than one category.  Depending on your circumstances, you may have to make adjustments in your planning for the three stages.
The first step for prepping I recommend is to prioritize your needs into three categories: immediate, mid-range, and long term survival needs and goals (I refer to them as Steps 1, 2, and 3).

Step 1 is for short term needs.  This is the easiest for both the prepper and those people he is trying to convince.  I also call it “natural disaster prep”.  Many people live in areas that may be prone to natural disasters or at least heavy snowfalls that can take out electrical power.  Many people have survived these events or have heard stories from those who have.  Therefore, Step 1 is not mentally or emotionally difficult to accept and prepare for.
This step involves thinking about no electricity or modern conveniences.  Emphasis is on stockpiling water, MREs, batteries, etc.  You should purchase a water filter, and be prepared to cook without electricity for awhile.  You should also maintain a “stash of cash”.   There are many good resources to help you plan for what may befall you following a natural disaster.  Even many “ostriches” can see the need for this.

Step 2 is for intermediate needs.  I also like to call this “economic insurance”.  It’s a bit harder to prepare for mentally, but is still not too alarming or threatening if you approach it (and communicate it) correctly.
The idea is to accept the fact that we are living in a tough economy.  It is easy for people to lose their jobs, or to have to take a pay cut.  Inflation is also a concern.  Sadly, over the past few years, most people no longer have to be “pushed” into seeing this.  Food and gasoline prices have obviously gone up; it doesn’t take much imagination to see things could get worse.
The solution?  Stock up on food and supplies!  The method I use is to point out that my family is self-employed.  If we should have to shut down, and it takes awhile for us to find new jobs, I don’t want to have to worry about the grocery bill.  I want to have plenty of food and supplies on hand.  We will need the money for other items.
Most people see the wisdom of this.  If you handle the situation correctly, you can get loved ones to “buy in” and over time become supportive.  Being self-reliant is a trait that people instinctively feel good about.  Over time, you and your loved ones can gain confidence and knowledge as you continue prepping.

Step 3 is for long term needs, and is primarily for either TEOTWAWKI, or at least some pretty ugly circumstances.  This involves building a very deep larder, and includes items such as seeds, 5 gallon drums filled with wheat, canning equipment, etc.  It also involves wrestling with the idea of “bugging out” if things get too crazy, or establishing a deeply stocked, remotely located retreat.
I believe this is a psychologically and emotionally difficult process for most people.  The idea of societal collapse is something most folks are simply not prepared to deal with.  It is very easy to become depressed or overwhelmed after taking a serious, realistic look at what the world would look like and what one would have to do to survive TEOTWAWKI.
I believe that prematurely confronting the difficulties of Step 3 is what causes many people to go into denial or become depressed and quit preparations.  This step shouldn’t be seriously considered until someone (at a minimum) has mentally and emotionally accepted Steps 1 and 2.  It is best if they have done their research and gained some practical experience with their preparations.

A few general guidelines when starting:
When prioritizing needs, I would first obtain firearms and ammunition.  This can be easily explained as part of Step 1 preparations; you are defending against potential burglars and post-disaster looters.  I place this item first because given our current political climate, it is almost certain that the current administration will do everything possible to make firearms more difficult to obtain, or more expensive through regulation. 
Obtain as much training as you can.  If you take classes in firearm training, first aid, canning, etc. you not only are gaining survival skills, but you can also find a new hobby.  Don’t think of it (or describe it) as trying to “fill up” holes in your skill set, but a chance to grow and develop as a person.
Learn what things cost, and what they are truly worth.  In order to combat inflation, I recently began to use couponing strategies.  You can save quite a bit of money, and it’s also a good way to stock up on barter items, or additional supplies for charitable giving.
Study economics.  It is difficult to make concrete plans if you have no idea of the economic forces at work around you.  Try and learn not only about basic economics and free-market principles, but what is happening in the world and the likely results. 
It is very difficult for most people to understand that fiat money is not wealth.  It is even more difficult to accept (after a lifetime of “education”) that numbers listed on an “IRA” or “mutual fund” account statement can only provide for a person under certain economic conditions.
During periods of hyperinflation or currency collapse, re-education will be terribly painful as people realize that actual, useful goods (food, tools, seeds, guns, ammunition) are the only true forms of material wealth.  If you can accumulate some gold, silver, and goods that can be easily bartered (Survival Blog has many excellent examples of these) you will be far ahead of most people.
Develop flexibility and realism in your plans.  You may not be able to afford a retreat property, or be able to live there full time with your current job.  You may not have enough money or time to purchase all the items you want or the skills that you need.  Bear in mind that there is no “perfect plan”, and that everyone faces shortcomings of some sort.

Make the best plans you can under your circumstances, and keep a constant eye on the world around you (and at large) to see if you have to make revisions.  If you combine a can-do attitude and self-sufficient mindset with even modest planning and accumulation of needed goods, you will be in far better shape than most other people.
As you go down the path of your prepping journey, at some point you must confront many things you do not want to believe or are afraid of, such as economic hardship or TEOTWAWKI.  Don’t allow this to dominate your life or make you live in fear.  (This can happen if people try to do too much too fast or don’t mentally establish some realistic guidelines of what they need to accomplish).

Continue to go to school, spend time with family activities, and enjoy life to the fullest.  Maintaining a sense of balance in your life will help you develop the mindset and traits you will need should everything come apart.

Most of all develop your spiritual life.  Put your faith in the Lord, and trust in Him.  Develop firm beliefs about how you will behave and live your life, even if things grow difficult.  If you take even a casual glance backward at history, you will see many instances of ordinary people surviving extraordinary times with faith, courage, hope, and mental and spiritual toughness.  Don’t allow despair or fear to cripple your mind or destroy your plans.

Friday, October 14, 2011

"In all ages, men who neither feared God nor regarded man have combined together and formed confederacies, to carry on the works of darkness. And herein they have shown themselves wise in their generation, for by this means they more effectually promoted the kingdom of their father the devil, than othwise they could have done." - John Wesley, Jan. 30, 1763, commenting on Psalm 94:16 ("Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? [or] who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?")

Sunday, October 9, 2011

No matter what your level of preparation, it is important for you to include a well-bound, large print, red-letter edition of the Authorized King James Version (KJV) Bible at your location.  Besides its uses as a riser or as reading material, it is the only reliable source for knowing God’s will on a subject.  The KJV is a solid translation and has all the essential information needed to verify God’s direction for your life.  The large print enables low-light reading.  The red-letter passages record God speaking.  In a TEOTWAWKI situation you may need to know how to activate this Book of books. 

To get the most from the Bible, start by reading anywhere in the Scriptures and when you come upon a promise God made, underline or highlight the promise and include it in your prayers.  For example, you can quote Deuteronomy 28:1-14:  “And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt harken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.  Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. …The Lord shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; etc.” and then ask God for the same in your life.  You cannot beat this method of activating God’s promises with your faith.

A key to understanding the Bible in its entirety is the revelation that The Lord Jesus Christ is the Word of God.  Jesus enjoyed calling Himself  “the son of man” because of this miraculous achievement of God that the Word became flesh.  The four Gospels introduce you to this Man.  The Lord Jesus Christ proved that everything He said was truth when three days after dying by public execution, He resurrected from death.   
One of the most important Scriptures is Matthew 13:12 “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.”  Jesus was speaking here of having revelation of the truth.  Faith comes from the revelation of the Word of God to your spirit.   Many passages in the Bible, when read aloud, are encouraging to children.  Always have Scriptures to quote for building-up your faith.    

The Book of Acts can be viewed as the acts of the Holy Spirit among the apostles.  The letters from the apostles can be read as if they were addressed to you.  The final book of the Bible is the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ.  It may be helpful for you to know that the seven churches called out in the Book of Revelation are seven progressive periods of the Christian church, originating with the Church in Ephesus denoting the apostle Paul’s time, continuing through the Church in Sardis depicting Martin Luther’s time, the Church in Philadelphia foreseeing John Wesley’s time and ending with the Church in Laodicea describing our time. The message here is that the Christian church today needs to repent.  The outcome of the book however, is not difficult to understand.  The Scriptures teach you to actively wait upon God and receive when you believe.

[Some deleted, for brevity and for the sake of not promoting extra-Biblical doctrine.]  

Even if you presently cannot imagine how you would benefit from the Holy Scriptures, make sure you pack a Bible.  - M.G.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

My husband and I fell in love with a section of [what is now called] the American Redoubt long before I discovered SurvivalBlog.  We dreamed of retiring in that part of the country as so many of his co-workers have done.  We even went looking for property years ago in the hopes that we would have a place to go to in our old age.  We couldn't afford any at that time, but the idea stayed in the back of our minds.  Our dream was put on hold when he suddenly passed away, but after he died I got  my first computer, and I discovered SurvivalBlog.  God put the dream back in the forefront of my mind.         

Now I debated for quite some time whether or not this dream was truly from the Lord or just my wanting a change, but the more I read this blog and the more I listened to the radio and talked with my friends about the situation in America both economically and spiritually, the more that moving made sense. I resided in a very liberal state with no hope of redemption as far as I could see and I had a family to raise.  But I had other family nearby - especially my In-laws, and I felt I could not abandon them so soon after their only son's death.   However, earlier this year, at the unusual suggestion of my Mother-In-law, God gave me the opportunity to actually visit the area in question and provided a sweet and knowledgeable realtor to help me begin seeing the possibilities.  Once again I fell in love with the American Redoubt and felt that deep desire to leave where I had been for so long.  Through some eye-opening observations I experienced after returning home, it was clear to me that God was indeed opening the doors for a move.   That was Spring and after a whirlwind summer with some surprising "God moments",  I am now living in the American Redoubt.      

To give some perspective on the lessons I learned, I must mention that I had almost convinced myself that moving out of my city and state would never happen.  In light of that I had decided that a "bug in" position was the obvious choice for me while living in the city as I was located on high ground, had some extra space, a large yard and would probably be the only one in my family who had thought of preparing for when TSHTF.  I faithfully stocked up on as many items as I thought necessary - some recommended on SurvivalBlog or by blog contributors, some ideas encouraged from other preparedness sources.  I bought shelves for my kitchen pantry that allowed FIFO [rotation] for my stock of canned food; I created a second pantry in a seldom-used room and slowly filled it;  I added shelves in closets and filled them.  If TSHTF I thought I would be partially prepared for the family members who would land on my doorstep.        

As I am still learning about preparedness, I took the easiest path to begin and gradually added.  Food and toiletries came first followed by grid-down supplies. Then I bought chicks and raised them in my backyard (well aware of the vague language in the city ordinance) and when they began laying their eggs I shared them with the neighbors so as to calm any protest.  I installed raised beds in my back yard and planted vegetables and herbs until I was out of room and then I slowly put raised beds in my front yard in order to increase my organic crop.  My neighbors wondered why I had ripped out half of my lawn but accepted the fact that I didn't want to mow so much grass.  Around the perimeter of my yard I planted as many edible trees as my property would allow.  Every inch of fence would soon be covered in vines which would also help camouflage the raised beds from the street.  One could say it was bad OPSEC to have such obvious food sources, but my neighbors knew me well and welcomed the excess bounty and the conversation-piece yard.  Some of them began their own gardens and we shared around the block. It was almost like hiding in plain sight. And given the fact that I lived in a walled neighborhood, banding together to block off the Golden Horde would be feasible. So staying in my area was not too bad of an option considering the close-knit neighborhood, its location, and the proximity to family, friends and church.  What I didn't realize is how all that preparing would look to those family and friends as they helped me pack and move.      

When I decided to put my house on the market, my oldest son and I packed up much of the "stock" items to put in storage to prepare the house for sale.  I chose to empty the second pantry first and store the Mason jars I would not be using until after the move.  Since I labeled the boxes, they were innocuous enough on moving day.  I did not label them "emergency supplies" or "Long-term storage".  The only problem was the volume of boxes.  Being prepared means large numbers of items and there were a lot of extra boxes.  I wasn't certain they would all make the trip.      

After the house sold (one of those "God moments") and we were able to return to the north to find a new home (another God moment), we packed as much as we could in the weeks between houses.  That left the last-minute items, furniture, and the storage facility.  We emptied the storage facility and placed the boxes and items in the front room so as to ease the labor on the day of packing the moving truck.  We scheduled the day and some family and a sweet group of friends showed up to help with the final items.  That is where the OPSEC became an issue.  Packing the load was a challenge with many eyes wondering at the obvious numbers.   The curiosity continued with the unpacking crew.      

Have you ever needed a reason to explain why you have enough toilet paper packages to cover a bedroom floor?  Or why you have so many extra cans of beans or bottles of bleach?  Having two pantries is one thing when you are not going anywhere, but emptying them and finding room for them in a U-Haul creates new problems.  (We did learn that toilet paper works well for the nooks and crannies.  Uncle W. packs a tight ship!)      
Moving from a warm climate to a cold climate does allow for some explanations - especially to a "snow novice".  "Just in case we get snowed in" sounds reasonable enough for some items, but not for everything. 

Explaining certain heavy containers that actually hold the nickels you don't want discovered is a bit harder. Laughing them off as a generic coin collection seemed to pacify the curiosity.  Fortunately, no one saw the shotguns and we homeschool so the numerous boxes of books and curriculum was understandable.               

Having some items in five-gallon buckets raised some eyebrows but the chicken food is in buckets so I assume they thought I had a lot of chicken food.  (The chickens made the trip in a trailer and laid eggs along the way!!)  The large collection of Mason jars was obvious as I do canning and am learning to make jam and jelly. Most of those comments were about how much fun it will be to put up new types of fruit.   I tried to camouflage as many things as possible and label generically (which is a problem when deciding where to place the boxes while unpacking) but some things can't be packed until the last day and with all those people packing it was impossible to hide everything that needed to be kept private.  I was able to quickly hide some items in the car without anyone observing and some things were wrapped in blankets and trash bags.  Thankfully, I was also able to share from my bounty with the helpers and with others and hopefully bless them in a small way..  Perhaps they'll remember me as the woman who shared her stuff.  If I ever move again, I will try to do a better job of making my supplies seem less obvious or consume them before calling for help!      

So now as I unpack and unpack and try to fit everything into a new configuration,  I am hoping that my movers will forget the unusual supply of items they saw and lugged around.  I plan to settle in before the winter and get to know my new surroundings and maybe meet some like-minded SurvivalBlog readers.  The area I moved into already has some "survivalists" nearby of which I have been "forewarned".  I am truly looking forward to living the dream I shared with my husband that the Lord has graciously let my family begin experiencing.  I will take a good look at the OPSEC in my new location and perhaps one day if things go downhill the Lord will allow me to use my better hidden supplies to help others.  Maybe some of my "movers" themselves will begin thinking of their own future and take the necessary steps to begin their own preparations.  If they inquire, I will gladly point them to SurvivalBlog. - R.G. in the Great North

Sunday, September 25, 2011

As preppers we have all heard of the Three B’s those would be beans, bullets and Band-Aids. An alliteration for food, protection/sufficiency and medical supplies. We should know their importance and for the most part practice it as part of our lifestyle. In our home we utilize a fourth B, the Bible. Let me explain why we feel the Bible is just that important.

I am a bi-vocational pastor serving in the Blue Ridge of the Appalachian Mountains. In case you don’t understand the meaning of bi-vocational I support my wife and I with a full time job while I pastor a full time church. Small rural churches utilize this type of pastorate very successfully. There is a stereo-type that is inappropriately applied to bi-vocational pastors, one that questions their qualifications. I have earned degrees in electrical/electronics technology and hold an earned Doctorate of Theology from an accredited seminary.

Why did I go through that seemingly self centered introduction? I feel it is important for you to know a little about me considering the subject I am writing about. “Faith when the world falls apart” you see it is easy for you and I to talk about our Christian beliefs when things are going well, but, when the world comes unraveled faster than a cheap sweater, our faith is subject to do the same. Just like you, I get up early, go to work every day, come home and take care of my homestead and family, plus I have the responsibility of pastor to a small group of Southern Baptists at a local church. In addition to this my wife and I are preppers.

Some see the pastor as a wimpy little man who is sickly, who preaches three times a week and is never heard from until he is called upon to do a wedding, funeral, baptism or similar activity. Unfortunately this all some people see of their pastor, but the pastorate is much more. It is about people. Likewise the Bible is about people and their faith in God along with His willingness to answer their prayers. Faith is arguably the most powerful force on the face of the earth. People put their faith in many things, each other, equipment, stores, weapons just to name a few. I want challenge you to think about these things a little differently, think of them as instruments of faith. If you are a person of faith (in God) then you know He can use anything or anyone to meet the needs of His people. For faith to be effective it must be understood and to understand it we need our Bible. Ideally a concordance and good Bible dictionary would make a wonderful trio but if you have a good study Bible handy and are willing to use it God can and will work miracles through it. As you read through my article think about the Bible as your fourth B.

We do approach prepping from a biblical world view, believing that at some time in the future the Lord will rapture the born again believers (the Church), removing us from the Great Tribulation spoken of in the book of Revelation. Furthermore we understand the Bible to teach prepping from both the old and new testaments. For example the book of Proverbs tells us in chapter 30 there are four things upon the earth that are little but extremely wise; the ant, the spider, the locust and the conies (small fury animals that live in the rocks of Sinai). Each of these are used to represent an aspect of prepping; the ants are not strong but they prepare their food in the summer when it is abundant, the conies make their homes in strong fortified places, the locusts have no leader but they work in groups to accomplish their work and survive and the spider is able to defend itself and establish itself in any area.

So how do I approach the “4, B’s”? The answer is much like you do. We store food that is bought and grown in our small garden. Our goal is to keep at least one year stored. Sometimes we fall short sometimes we exceed but we are usually in the ballpark. We have medical kits and first aid kits; my wife has extensive medical training from her military service. She has put together supplies needed for simple colds and flu to minor surgery. We have firearms for hunting and home defense along with an ever-growing supply of ammo.  We also have traps, fishing gear, tools, hand powered equipment and many other necessities for a prepared homestead. Unfortunately pastors are viewed as weak and passive and sadly enough some are, but that wasn’t God’s intention for the pastor. We were to be leaders among His people and examples before the world. Look at your history! During the Revolutionary war England exclusively blamed the war on preachers and pastors, claiming they enflamed the attitude of independence by preaching it from the pulpits. This led to an attempt by the British government to destroy all remnants of religion that did not vow loyalty to the throne of England. Here in the colonies the result became known as the “Black Robe Regiment” a band of preachers and pastors who fought along side the citizen militia while providing spiritual support and encouragement. Pastors are still targets today, targets of the biased media, targets of those who begrudge our message and in an ever increasing role target of the political machine (if we don’t adhere to their doctrine). 

This is where the fourth “B”, our Bible ,comes into play. If you have a Bible in your house then your retreat should not be without one either, neither should your G.O.O.D. bag/kit be without one. When there is only you and a small group of like minded men and women in a stressful and possibly dangerous situation you will be strengthened, encouraged and given hope by God's word. When personalities clash because of cramped living conditions time spent alone with the Bible can provide you with the spiritual insight you need to properly handle a difficult situation. If you are called upon to lead a group what will you base you decisions on, democracy is fine but how will you determine your vote? The Bible can provide insight into making every decision. The group as a whole may go a different direction but you can be at peace with your vote and how you arrived at it. When read and studied there are military strategies that can be used for retreat protection and defense as well. What about the need for group worship, someone can take a Bible with some study and prayer time and put together a very encouraging and productive study. After all when TEOTWAWKI comes, there probably will not be many churches open for normal services; many will take on roles as homeless centers, hospitals or hospices with the pastor being occupied in those capacities. Unfortunately many pastors will simply flee the responsibility they have committed themselves too, if you are in this situation someone may have to step up, without a Bible that will be hard if not impossible to do.

What about children? How will you calm them? Anyone who has visited vacation bible school or Sunday school has heard stories like Noah’s ark, Daniel and the lions den, or the Christmas story and Easter story. These and many more can be very soothing, educational and encouraging to children. The Bible can be used to guide them through activities or conduct plays as entertainment for young and old alike. Also children may not have our experience in life but they are very observant and can come up with very difficult questions, your Bible can be a source of answers and comfort for them during this time.

Most every prepper has stored firearms and sufficient ammo for protection of property and hunting game. We are prepared for the worst. Aren’t we? Have you ever shot anyone? Have you ever taken the life of another human being? How much thought have you given it? I’m sure some of our brave military have been in this situation and they understand the point I am trying to make. I’m not trying to soften anyone up. You see I too believe in protection of life and property and I will enforce it when and if necessary, I expect you will do likewise. After the adrenaline rush is over and you sit down alone and relive the event that just unfolded, how will it affect you? Having a Bible to rely on during this time can be crucial for the spiritual and emotional health of someone coping with a traumatic event such as a gunfight. Being able to show someone where God permits this action and does not hold that person accountable can be the difference between a person living a normal life or living under the question of guilt for many years.

Finally there is a topic that I believe is near and dear to each one of us, injury, sickness and death. During a social/economic collapse many things will take place, among them will be gunfights, sickness, disease and even death. If a friend or colleague of yours is shot and there is a possibility that it is fatal, can you give them hope to cling too. This may be all they need to survive, but could you provide it? In the case of influenza, dysentery, malnutrition, pneumonia or any other illness or disease could you comfort the ill or the family of an ill child? The Bible gives us a foundation and the words to provide hope to men and women in these situations and those similar to them. There are many instances where miracle recoveries have taken place because of faith that was provided from the words of the Bible. Faith is very powerful and it will be very necessary during TEOTWAWKI. Just as people will live during this type event they also will die. Conducting a funeral can be one of the most difficult things a pastor can do, what if there was no pastor available, but it must be done. What if you had to do it?  Without a Bible where would you get the words that would provide comfort to the family? The word of God is powerful and it could provide the difference between someone giving up or continuing to work for a better tomorrow.

I remember a line from the Clint Eastwood movie “Pale Rider” when the town boss gets off the train and asks his son about the gold panners the son tells his dad that they were beaten down until a preacher took up with them. Irate; the boss tells them: “That’s the worst thing that could happen, he can give them hope.” That’s what the Bible can do for you it can give you hope when life seems darkest. Make it the fourth B in your preps.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I've only been in the survival community for one to two years; I still need quite a bit of work to do before I'd dare say I'm prepared enough to survive a severe blizzard let alone some life changing and significantly prolonged event. I get a little overwhelmed by all the work I still have to do and frustrated by how precious little resources I have to work with. I'm a 21 year old unemployed college student still living at home in an apartment complex 20 minutes from a city, as you can see my options are limited. Limited not eliminated; my situation is not a hopeless one, neither is any reader out there who finds themselves in the same boat as me (be it limited resources or inexperience). There are still many things we can do to build a solid foundation  onto which the rest of our survivalist futures will rest upon. Here are just a few things I've learned to do, I hope it helps others out there just starting off in their preparedness planning.

I live in an area of the country famous for temperamental weather patterns, the only constant expected here is snow and lots of it in the winter time. My first step is to deal with the most likely threat first and work my way up from there. did a fantastic piece on this called the "Survival Pyramid" the pyramid (from top down) is formed by how much supplies equipment and resources are needed depending on the situation. For example the top tier is the most common of events, small weather events (like the blizzards I mentioned) power outages and anything run of the mill that requires the bare minimum of preparedness is in this segment.

I know when I started reading the survival web sites I flipped out realizing how many things could disrupt my life and require me to survive on my own for an indefinite period of time. I began thinking It could happen any day now. I need a kit for this and something in my car for that. I need to make more money and start storing food, NOW! Frankly it was a miserable feeling, I was always anxious and always felt defeated. I had created an idol, I wasn't sticking with the faith knowing God would provide for me if events beyond my control and beyond my capacity to prepare for happened. Also I wasn't feeling like a real survivalist, prepping should give a certain amount of confidence and peace of mind because you have a plan.

That peace of mind only came for me when my priorities were set (aka put God first) straight and when I set up a realistic goal for starting out. That realistic goal can only be achieved (adequately and efficiently) by sitting down and planning before the crisis is happening. Right now while the world is sane and your mind is calm and focused write down what you would need to make it through a survival situation. You won't have this luxury while the event is hours away or happening right this very second and you're in a crowded half empty supermarket trying to find bread and soup for the next few days. This also helps you realize the important stuff that you over looked trying to get all the essentials taken care of. The other important items? Toilet paper, feminine products, tooth paste etc. All the little stuff you know will bite you in the nose the minute you're out of it and you have no way to get it.

Finally set up a timetable so that you can eventually extend your small term plan into a long term plan in a realistic but efficient manner. For example I'm writing this in August, my starter two week winter survival plan's deadline is December 1st. The deadline is placed far enough in advance for me so that I can ensure to meet it. Realistic deadlines will give you the proper motivation needed to get the job done at a steady pace (this idea was taken from Southernprepper1, a very great survivalist and fantastic teacher on YouTube, I highly recommend everyone check him out). And once you've met that deadline you'll see that this isn't so bad, it can be done, and done right. Next you'll stretch your supplies from two weeks to a month, then a year supply with a planted garden for perpetual food supplies. Before you know it you'll be Bugging Out with the best of them.



Turns out survival skills require quite a bit of knowledge and a varied skill set.

In this day and age we're surrounded by information, it won't be too hard for you to learn more about all things preparedness.

For starters there's the machine you're sitting at right now. The internet gives everyone access to the largest storage center for information and idea sharing ever created in human history. To make this search for knowledge on the vastness of the web more fruitful and dare I say fun I recommend a Stumble Upon account. is a more entertaining and less tedious version of Google-like searching. Create the account and put in what your hobbies and interests are, (yes survivalist is an option) then hit the "stumble" button. The next thing you know web sites you've never even heard of on a standard Google search will be popping up at random ready to display valuable information to you.

But of course the old fashion book still has a place in this digital world (after all when the Schumer hits the fan we'll need something to reference to) in my college library I was able to find a survival resource book that is no longer in print. I happily spent free time in the library between classes reading it and taking notes. The library is free people, and I'm sure you pass at least one on your various travels. You can even search the selves from the internet these days making finding books that much easier.

Of course there's not just skills but equipment that you must learn about too. Product reviews on shopping web sites aren't always the most reliable source of information since they can contain one or two people who didn't know how to properly handle the product (it happens frequently with electronics, an almost 100% five star rating ruined by a select few that can't program the television or sound system the right way). More often than not though they can help give you a better idea of the quality of a product. Professional reviews of products on web sites devoted to survivalism are the best since these people know how to handle the equipment and can give you an accurate reading on how well it truly performs. However, personally, the best book I've read on gear selection (for a beginner that is) has to be Camping for Dummies by Michael Hodgson. It gives a great overview of what to look for in backpacks, boots, and sleeping bags to get the most for your money.

Of course not all things can be learned from merely reading. Once you have the money and ability I strongly recommend taking courses in first aid and basic wilderness survival. There's something about being instructed and physically doing the actions that instills a sense of confidence that is vital in chaotic and stressful situations that require a sound, focused, and prepared mind to deal with them.

Preparing YOU

One part of survivalism that is finally receiving attention is the need for us to stay in the best physical shape possible so that we can meet the possible demands of a Schumer hit the fan situation. Thankfully, if you're creative and do a bit of research on strength and conditioning, you'll find out that it's not that difficult or expensive to start your own custom workout regimen. I've been blessed with a best friend that is also an aspiring personal trainer (he also won a strong man bench-press competition last year, hey I have to brag) he has given me a great amount of advice and has developed a training system to meet military and martial artist standards of fitness. The workout schedule goes as follows (just to give an example):

Monday: Strength Training 8 reps 3 sets 1 minute rests between sets
Tuesday: Cardio a series of movements executed on the punching bag. Rest as needed
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: Endurance Training 15 reps 2 sets 2 minute rests between sets
Friday: Quick Cardio a series of simpler movements executed on the punching bag (only  more of them) rest as needed.

The workouts only take me about 30 minutes a day and afterwards I don't feel so exhausted that I can't move. I feel great actually and the results are worth it.

Another part of survivalism that has finally taken root in the community is having the proper mind set to deal with the tough decisions and events of a Schumer hit the fan situation. Again has done a brilliant piece on the emotional and mental toll of taking another person's life in the name of self-defense. Southernprepper1 does a series of videos that act as if a WROL (Without Rule of Law) situation is actually occurring.

It's best to realize now, in the foundational stages that is, that survivalism is not meant to be treated like an evening out with the guys. It's not a perpetual camping trip and it isn't an excuse to get all your cool guns together and play Rambo. It's a serious business that requires a mature and prepared mind to handle the stress and uncertainty of this new reality that you've been thrown into.

Reach Out

We can't survive alone, in your planning stages as well as your execution of the survival plans you are going to need help. I made the mistake of trying to do it all on my own at first, then I read a article on talking with your family about being prepared. I started including my mother (whom I live with) in the conversation on the matter, turns out she had some ideas I never would've thought of and she was more than willing to help contribute to the effort. I can tell you it feels good having someone around to help shoulder the burden and it looks like the plans will be moving faster because of our collaboration.

Especially when you're just starting out you're going to need help, you're going to need the experience and knowledge of others to get off on the right path. Never be afraid to ask for help from the survival community, if there's one important and fantastic thing I've learned from joining the various survival web sites it's how friendly and helpful even the most experienced veteran survivalist is. They know what's out there, what can rock worlds and change life as we know it in an instant, they preparing for it and they're more than happy to help you prepare for it too in any way they can. It kind of reminds me of the old days before there was this useless Nanny State system, when neighbors hit a financial rough spot they helped each other out. They made dinners and brought it over to the affected family, they offered help in fixing whatever was broken free of charge, and even left $500 in an unmarked envelope addressed to a needy family (something which happened to my mother at church once).

In the past month I've been blessed many times by my church family covering my six because of such tough times (I write this article on a very nice laptop that was given to me as a birthday present, among other things, to help me get through college and reach for a better future).

"Woe to the man who falls and lacks a brother to help him up" says Ecclesiastes 4:10. It is a fatal error to believe you can survive all by yourself. You can do a lot to make yourself less dependent on the government for protection, and make yourself less dependent on modern infrastructure like the power grid and supermarkets. But the bottom line is at some point and time you'll need someone to "cover your six" because you need the safety of numbers, because you don't know how to do something but a friend of yours does, or simply because you need someone around for moral support.

Don't let the prideful "I can do it myself" mentality dig in early in your preparedness plans, it will most certainly be your Achilles Heel when stuff really starts falling apart. We became a strong, stable and prosperous society by benefiting from the trades of talents and knowledge from each other. The same strength, stability, and prosperity can only be achieved in survival situations if we benefit from each other.

With much love and hope that everyone stays safe and secure in all their plans, - ChristianRebel

Friday, August 26, 2011

I am out of my comfort zone. We executed a move and I have to battle fear. I am afraid that we will fail. I am afraid that our plans have been too costly. Our “threes” have been reduced to one – and we all know that one is none. We no longer have three ways to heat, cook or travel. We don’t know the terrain well, nor do we know the roads.  We do not have all of our supplies here with us. And, to top it all off, today I opened a package of spiced almonds only to find they have gone rancid. What of the rest of our stored food that we lugged across country? We do not have our support group. We do not have quite a bit of our savings – moving costs a lot. Wow! I’m scared and discouraged. What if? Did you read the news? Are you watching the world as we know it unravel at a spectacular pace? What to do?

Praise, pray, re-evaluate and trust. That’s what we do. Thank God for where we are and what we do have. Thank God that we are finally in the American Redoubt. We are tough, we are faith filled, and we are not alone. I do not feel any of these things right now – I feel vulnerable, weak and very much alone. More than I ever have in my life, and I have been alone in some mighty places (like a very small village on the Arctic Circle to name one). So, maybe you, too, feel this way. Remember we do not live by feelings, but by faith. Here are ways to move beyond scared.  Be encouraged with me.

First look to God. Not to ask for more, but to -

  1. Praise God! I start at the beginning. Give praise when it does not easily flow. I stand on Matthew 6 – do not worry about these things. In my mind’s eye I see the unbeliever running after all that God will provide like a dog chasing his tail. I do not want to be like that, instead I see myself standing strong through God’s strength. He is the steel in my straight back, the iron in my muscles and the smile on my face.
  2. Believe…in Jesus, in your ability to do all things with the Lord’s strength and in the divine plan of God. Prioritize. First are the things of God…
  3. Have faith that no matter what happens, God is still in control. Psalm 91 promises that if we are in God’s secret place, we are protected. Move from depending on the world into God’s secret place (see Psalm 91). It is called prayer. Resolve to pray. Be determined to pray. Take a hiatus from the news and the concerns of this world and focus on God. There are times when it is prudent to withdraw from the concerns of the world for a bit. God instructed us to be still and hear His voice. Practice being still.

Second, look at the practical -

  1. Plan – dig out your written plan and list of lists and look it over. Check off the items that have been accomplished. Edit, rework and rewrite your plan. Don’t have one? Well, there is no time like the present. Get started today.
  2.  Focus on what needs to be accomplished.  For example, after our move we needed to look around first. Did you eat up as much canned goods as possible as we did? Then make a list and take the opportunity to shop around for the best prices. Except for amazing sales, nothing need be purchased at the moment. Just do the scouting. What are the prices and quantities? While you are out and about, look at the quality of fresh foods and meats. Find out if you need a card to purchase items at the sale prices. (I do not like to be tracked, so I choose to not shop at these stores unless I am willing to pay full price or the store will swipe their card for me. Usually, I just avoid these stores.) What other stores are in the area? A shoe repair shop? Where can fabric and sewing notions be purchases? Where are the gun shops and how extensive are their inventories? What are the locally owned places? Where do the locals shop? How far will you have to drive for bulk shopping, and is it a feasible drive during winter? Get your bearings.
  3. Does your overall plan look overwhelming? Then, put it away and just write a list for this day. Accomplish that list just for today.  I like to categorize my list into different areas of responsibility and commitments. For example, I am responsible for feeding, clothing and nurturing my family. I also run the household budget and pay the bills. I am the family secretary and keeper of the family calendar. I hold the office of chief logistics officer. I need to be in better physical condition. In addition, I am returning to teaching and finishing an advanced degree. We have barely recovered from a couple of disasters. This was not the ideal time to move across the country. However the rapid disintegration of our nation necessitates such a move. Therefore, my list of lists has different categories and under each category is a long-term list of what needs to be done for that particular area. When there is too much to be done, keep your master list out of sight. Work only with what needs to be done for the day or week. In this way, you will be able to concentrate and focus on what most needs to be done. Accomplishments provide motivation to keep going.
  4. Turn off the television, limit computer usage and movie watching . It is too much of an opportunity to waste time and not do what needs to be done right now. Besides, I find the shows on television so depressing.  Reading through Proverbs daily will help keep your perspective. I also like to remember that as in the days of Noah, the time is growing shorter. I do not want to be perceived as a “whacko” and draw unwanted attention to my household, but I also do not want to spend my time eating, drinking and being merry.  As it states in Sirach 4:20, Use your time well; guard yourself from evil, and bring upon yourself no shame.
  5. Turn a bit inward – toward your family. Now is not the time to be knocking on your neighbor’s doors and espousing your preparedness doctrine.  Look for like-minded individuals, but keep to yourself. Your family’s survival may depend on your discretion in the far too near future. If you, like me, left a close-knit group who provided emotional support for your ventures, remember that at some point we all need to learn to be self-sufficient. This may be just the opportunity for such practice. I know I had gotten complacent and thoroughly enjoyed the companionship of those who could see the coming darkness and were standing firmly in their faith.
  6. Improve your skills wherever you are. Now is the time to get better at something. If, like us, you have just moved and are not able to garden, then use the extra time you have wisely. Here are but a few ideas if you are having difficulty thinking of new skills you want to know or have not yet made a list of skills that your family needs to learn.
    1. Ham radio operator
    2. Wilderness first aid
    3. Sign language or lip reading
    4. Learn a foreign language
    5. Morse Code
    6. Practice bartering
    7. Lifeguard skills
    8. Any level of firearms skills above where you are now
    9. Self-defense
    10. Archery and bow hunting
    11. Fishing and preparing fish for eating
    12. Car maintenance
    13. Small engine repair
    14. Learn how to “read” others and practice the body language positions and facial expressions you desire to exhibit
    15. Sewing, knitting and mending
    16. Animal husbandry
    17. Knot tying
    18. A new musical instrument
    19. Cooking,  canning and other food preservation skills
    20. Leather working
    21. Welding
    22. Climbing and bouldering
    23. Any number of skills from JWR’s books and this blog
    24. Purpose to read and take notes on a book from your reading list that you have not had time to pursue…there are plenty of choices on JWR’s bookshelf that are available from the local library or for purchase.
  7. Re-evaluate – Take the time today to look at where your life is and where you want it to be. Many people get into a rut and have developed habits that they would rather not have. Deal with those habits (especially time wasters and ones that lead to poor physical conditioning) and actions (i.e. complaining, gossiping, and money draining actions that have little benefit). It takes effort, time and perseverance to look clearly at your own life and decide where you are.
  8. Purpose to succeed – success is not easily doing something for the first time, but having the persistence to continue at something until it is accomplished. If your re-evaluation of where you and your family are at this precise moment is not where you want to be. Do not despair, but carefully move on from here. Is your salvation secure? If so, that alone is to be celebrated!
    1. Clean something - make your living room and kitchen sparkle. Wash the windows and let in the sunshine.
    2. Mend something – almost everyone I know has some mending to do, and having broken items, gaping fences or unusable clothing can weigh heavily
    3. Make your bed – that surely is one way to feel successful
    4. Send out the forgotten card, letter or email – make someone’s day better
    5. Go the extra mile at work
    6. Update your resume and reference list – remember what you have already accomplished
    7. Work on your plan and list of lists
    8. Read a biography of a successful person that you admire
    9. Be determined to pay your bills and tithe before squandering even one penny
  9. Smile – this cannot be repeated enough! Purpose to have a merry heart. Purpose to bring sunshine to others. Purpose to be quiet rather than tell others their faults – they already know what they are. Purpose to treat yourself better by expecting that you will be diligent, seek excellence, strengthen your willpower and build endurance. A smiling person also interacts with others more positively resulting in better relationships.
  10. Surround yourself with inspiration. Spend time in a good church and with faith filled optimistic fellow believers. Remember those who have gone before you if they inspire. My relatives resettled by wagon train, survived the first depression, helped those less fortunate, overcame addictions, educated the women of our family since the turn of the last century, and built a town. Read the comics and look for good, clean fun. Play games with your children. Go to the local fair and laugh at the greased pig contestants. Smile even when you do not feel like smiling. Go outdoors and hike to the mountain top. Worship God in song, prayer and by reading the Psalms (try Psalm 103) for the bible tells us in Psalm 84, “Happy they who dwell in your house!” Learning to be inspired in our everyday life is good practice for learning to abide well in times of trouble. Besides, it does set a good example for our children.
  11. Exercise, eat right and get some sleep – it is evident by the massive research in this area that exercise and healthy eating have positive results. A regular regime and balanced meals help dispel fear. Well-toned people portray confidence, have perceived higher intelligence and elicit more positive interactions. They also deter those who only prey on the weak and infirm.
  12. Get outside and get some sun – How much fun can a family have being together in the great outdoors while soaking in the sunshine? There are plenty of opportunities for skills building in camping, hiking, boating, yard work, construction, biking and such. Just going for a walk together and pointing out edible plants will build muscle while providing lifelong knowledge. Lewis and Clark’s expedition would not have been successful had it not been for these skills. Much depends on knowing the right things at the right time. Start now, time is of the essence.
  13. Give – of your time, of your talent, of your treasure. But remember that your priorities are God and family first.  Keep your priorities straight or you will find yourself in a whirlwind situation where you are severely over-committed to others and have not time for yourself, your spouse, your job, your family, or for learning new skills and laying in supplies. Been there, done that.
  14. Control your thoughts – Chose what you will think about and what you will not. Do not allow yourself to dwell on the leeks and onions of Egypt. Instead, get busy making this day the best day you can. It is not always easy to make good thought choices, but be determined to keep at it. Do not ever give up.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I guess I am a prepper.  When I started “prepping” 15 years ago they called it being a survivalist, but I think prepper is more apropos since the word survivalist suggests Rambo and anyone who knows me knows that’s not me.  Over the past few months I became aware that prepping is gaining momentum again, like it did before Y2K when I first got involved.  Some months back I stumbled on a YouTube channel and since then I have been making the rounds of the prepper sites.  I have been really thankful to all of you preppers out there who have shared so many helpful tips about prepping, and for some time I’ve wanted to give back, but the question is what can I contribute—I have had a diverse past but my expertise is not in weapons or tactics or food storage, but in something that most people would not connect with the prepper movement, you see I am a member of the clergy with advance degrees in Sacred Theology. 

Honestly, as a Catholic priest, I have often asked myself if there is a contradiction between my faith and my long term hobby which I now call prepping.  I mean “wasting” my small stipend on putting away food and supplies when I could be donating it to charity, is that really what Jesus would have me do.  After all, didn’t the Lord warn us against being overly concerned about the things of this world in the parable of the grower who builds larger barns to hold his crops only to die on the night his preparations were complete?   In this question, that I have often asked myself I realized what I might offer to the prepping community.  So I offer this treatment of a few of the moral and spiritual dynamics of prepping and post disaster survival.

As a Catholic priest my Faith teaches me to trust in the Lord for all my needs—and so at first glance prepping might seem an act of distrust. As I said, Jesus warns us about the man who hoards his wealth into ever bigger barns.  However, while it is true that over and over again in sacred scriptures the Lord instructs us to trust in God and proves Himself trustworthy by repeatedly working so many mighty deeds despite our poverty and human weakness, one of the constant themes in the Bible is preparedness. I think is important to remember that the Lord always uses what supplies we bring to the table.  Whether it’s the widow’s measure of grain and oil that feeds Elijah during the years of drought or the loaves and fish multiplied by Jesus or the one young man with a sling through which God routes the Philistines, as the Father’s of the Church were apt to note God will not save us without us.  God wants us to cooperate with His Divine providence, and yes, while salvation is primarily about eternal life, physical life is also a gift, which helps us grow in holiness and love and which we should work with the help of God to protect and preserve. 

It’s also worth noting that preparing for disaster is fundamentally about a realization of human weakness and of the reality of sin that causes disorder in the world and society. Many of us in the prepper movement feel God’s voice in our heart telling us that human vanity is once again likely to cause societal collapse, as it did at Babel, Sodom, and elsewhere throughout human history.  Like Joseph in Egypt, we are being given an opportunity to prophetically prepare for the future, to ensure the survival of the chosen people—and thus, far from being selfish or greedy like the man who hoards grain into ever larger barns, prepping is not about profit but can be a work of charity. We prep because we love life; our own life (not a bad thing) and the lives of others, most particularly our families and friends. We want to be able to preserve life, culture, and civilization as much as possible when the false idol of modern civilization comes tumbling down.  But how do we reconcile this concern for life with so many articles that we read about weapons, tactics, the use of lethal force, OPSEC, and “foraging” (aka theft)?  The circumstances of a "without rule of law" (WROL) situation vastly change the way we as Christians apply the absolute moral principles God teaches us. Here an adequate Christian understanding of morals is useful.

Consider positive (man-made) laws for instance.  In general, a Christian is required by God to obey all just laws—“render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s.”    However, when laws become unjust or the rule of law breaks down, our duty to obey the law lessens or even disappears—and in the case of unjust laws we may even have a duty to oppose them. Two of the characteristics of just laws are their enforceability and the legitimacy of the authority issuing them.  In a WROL situation both of these may be compromised and “law” may become more of a weapon to be defended against than a moral obligation to be obeyed—think of the anti-Jewish laws in Nazi Germany or the Jim Crow Laws in the South. I think this is an essential moral principle for Christians to apply when approaching prepping and a WROL situation. 

Now just remember, a world without the rule of law doesn’t need to be lawless, if each of us keeps nature’s law in our heart. In the Christian ethical tradition beyond the positive laws that society creates Christian’s are also obliged to follow Divine laws, i.e. the Ten Commandments, which for the non-Christian correspond to self-evident natural laws.  From my experience most preppers are decent God-fearing people who want to do what’s right, not just for their families but also unto others. Understanding the moral rationale of prepping and the ethics of a post-WROL reality is therefore essential for making the hard decisions that will be necessary for survival in a Stuff Hits the Fan situation.  You see, much of morality is about habit; the problem is, in a WROL situation, the failure to make new habits that correspond to new situations will cause many to become paralyzed, unable to act when action is required.  Worse, many others will simply cast aside morality accepting the utilitarian mantra: “the ends justify the means.”  God’s moral law does not change and so the ends never justify unjust and immoral means, but what does change is the way we apply moral principles to a much different situation. This is what preppers must consider and prepare for.

The fifth commandment, for instance, often translated: “thou shalt not kill” in fact should be translated: “thou shalt not murder.”  Throughout the Jewish and Christian tradition taking human life, while always a grave matter was not always considered murder.  Self-defense has always been considered morally justified and it strikes me as particularly useful for the prepper to really understand this, and be willing to use even lethal force to defend himself or his family.  While our Lord does instruct us to “turn the other cheek” in the Gospels this is primarily about being willing to forgive those who transgress against us, being willing to risk our other cheek in order to forgive, not about allowing them to threaten our lives.  Especially in a situation where the lives of others are in your care you may have a moral duty, not just a right, to defend the weak against unjust aggressors. This may even mean the use of deadly force against those (e.g. thieves) who today we may not use deadly force against.  In a WROL situation protecting your food supply becomes a matter of life and death as thieves can become just as deadly as axe murders during famines. I think most of us notionally are ready to defend ourselves, but in a world WROL taking personal responsibility for our own life and those entrusted to our care and becoming comfortable with this reality is essential.

Speaking of thieves, another frequent moral dilemma when speaking of a post-collapse or post disaster world is the commandment thou shalt not steal. Foraging or looting will most likely become a necessity in a WROL situation. What we need to remember about theft is that God created all things for the common good of humanity as a whole, and while he does allow us to “own” things privately, private property is still meant to be used for the common good.  When we talk about stealing we are talking about taking unjustly things that rightfully belong to another. However, in a WROL situation theft must be understood with a certain nuance.  The defense of life trumps the strictly legal claim of a person or corporation to foodstuffs and supplies which they are not using. Here I am not talking about robbing people of their supplies, but foraging (aka looting) stores and properties that have been abandoned by their owners.  It truly is better and more just that people take supplies to preserve life rather than allowing them to spoil or be destroyed in the violence that will most likely follow a WROL situation. When the rule of law breaks down the legal claim absentee owners had to property vanishes and possession, as they say, becomes 9/10ths of the law, however if it makes you feel better an IOU or true intentions to repay the owner given the change would be in the best spirit of justice. [JWR Adds: I don't anticipate a situation where a lawful owner or heir cannot be found unless we have gone through a huge die-off (such as in a pandemic), where more than 90% of the current population dies. Only then could someone justify "foraging." Any property that has an owner or an heir cannot justifiably be taken.]

Taking what others are not using to preserve life isn’t necessarily stealing in a WROL situation; this moral nuance is predicated on the idea that the owners who are unable to use this property themselves have a moral duty to let you use these items.  It’s important to remember, however, that this moral principle cuts both ways, our duty to be charitable is not negated by catastrophe. While other people’s unattended warehouses might be fair game, when starving people show up on your doorstep and you have enough that you could share, you might be morally guilty of theft, or even murder, for not “giving till it hurts.”  As someone who desires to follow natural law a delicate balance between your family/groups future needs and the duty for individuals, not governments, to be charitable and protect life must be found.  The Bible might offer a minimal suggestion for charitable giving in the principle of a Tithe.  In the Book of Genesis Abraham gives a tenth of all his holdings in thanksgiving to the Lord for His providence, many Christians practice this today, and this might be a good habit for us to get into now and plan on as rule of thumb should the collapse come.  I know it is a scary prospect, giving away food, when you are not sure when you might reasonably hope to resupply, or if you will be able to grow enough food to be self-sufficient, but love, the duty of Charity, always involves a risk and it is better to take that risk and save your humanity (and soul) than to survive and live the rest of your days on earth ashamed of how you survived.  As the Scriptures note: “what profit is it if a man gains the whole world and loses his soul?”

In all things peace comes from knowing that you have done the best that you can, and then trusting in the God who has counted every hair on our head. As Job notes: “the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”  Ultimately none of us can prep for everything, and even if we did, none of us can guarantee that natural disaster or human greed will not deprive us of our preparations in the hour of our need.  Only God can keep us safe through all life’s difficulties and thus I believe that the most important preparation for TEOTWAWKI is spiritual preparation for the trials and tribulations that surely are ahead of us. As a priest I sit with many people who are going through traumatic situations: death and dying.  Those with faith always fare better, that’s why I believe faith is as important a prep as water.  It is necessary for the desperate situations that will follow a collapse.  All of us must learn to trust in the reality that we are God’s children and our life is in His almighty hands.  Do your part to prepare, realizing that in our weakness He is strong and then do your best to let go and let God.  Let not your heart be troubled, because central to the Christian faith is the trust in the goodness of God expressed in Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane:  "I pray that this cup might pass, but not my will but your will be done."

"Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam." ("I will go in to the altar of God; to God, the joy of my youth.")

Friday, August 19, 2011

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I have been following the thread on "Prepping for Missionaries and Other Long Term Foreign Workers."  My business partner and I have more than one hundred mission trips between us and have been first responders to several of the latest disasters including the Tsunami in Banda Aceh, Hurricane Dean in Jamaica, and the Earthquake in Haiti. Several of the writers and especially P.J.H. has been spot on in their information.  Problems in the mission field or for the foreign worker have a direct correlation to the lack of understanding for the culture of the country where they serve. It is acerbated by the export of U.S. culture the traveler brings and having an expectation that everywhere should act/be like the USA.  A number of great resources were identified in their post, but I see a gaping hole in what to do if the unthinkable happens. Did you know that according to the CDC: “Motor vehicle crashes—not crime or terrorism—are the number one killer of healthy US citizens traveling in foreign countries”.  Unfortunately, most US travelers and especially missionary and NGO employees travel and drive without the slightest though of their vehicle safety. They assume their host has adequately prepared their vehicle for safe travel.

In an number of countries where a driving fatality takes place, both parties can be arrested until a complete investigation takes place and we all know the speed of developing countries is slow and the investigation can take weeks.  Many of the hospitals in those same countries require payment prior to treating of the patient. In a recent situation we had a client that had injured themselves and needed treatment. The hospital in Central America refused to accept the insurance or the travel insurance supplement. They had to pay the hospital provider in cash to get service.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hi Jim,
There's a great local cowboy church called Gold Hill Church, near Deary, Idaho. It is not only prepper friendly, but even "dog friendly". Another prepper-friendly church is the Community Church in Southwick, Idaho.

Also, I noted that one of the churches you listed in Bonner's Ferry appears to be a Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) church. As I grew up in that church and greatly admire much of the values of the SDA subculture, it always concerns me when an SDA[-affiliated] church does not let people know that they are really an SDA church. The books they list for sale are official books of the SDA church and are only distributed by the SDA church. I was on SDA Conference and Union Committees and know these books very well. Some SDA doctrine is not based solely on scripture, but is based on the complications from other sources by Ellen G. White, [who is] believed by many conservative SDA members to have been a prophet.

Great cover art for "Survivors". I have put "Download the new Rawles novel" on my eCalendar for October 4th.

[Some deleted, for brevity, and OPSEC]. Regards, - L.S.


Dear Mr. Rawles,
Some churches in the American Redoubt region which fit the criteria, and are not listed on your blog site, are:

All of the foregoing listed Churches are members of the Confederation of Reformed Evangelical Churches (CREC). CREC are Reformed in doctrine, but allow individual churches to decide where they stand on issues on which Calvinists differ (such as infant baptism, infant communion, etc.). The various confessions to which CREC members hold are as follows:

  • Westminster Confession of Faith
  • American Westminster Confession of Faith
  • The Three Forms of Unity:
    • Belgic Confession
    • Heidelberg Catechism
    • Canons of Dort
  • The London Baptist Confession
  • The Savoy Declaration
  • The Reformed Evangelical Confession

May Yahweh bless you and your family. Shalom, - K.E.


Mr. Rawles,
The Tridentine Latin Mass (aka: Extraordinary Form) tends to gather Catholics with a strong emphasis on tradition and values. Expect to find homeschooling, strong family values, Bibles, free-markets, hard work, subsidiarity and a distaste of moral-relativism among these people; these values would be called "prepper" values anywhere else. See for locations and times. The Fisheaters web site discusses this topic in more depth.

Deo gratias, - A libertarian Catholic

JWR Replies: While I'll never see eye-to-eye doctrinally with some key tenets of Roman Catholicism, I have several prepper friends who are Catholics, and I have no doubts about the sincerity of their faith in Christ, nor any doubt about their salvation. And BTW, not surprisingly, most of these friends attend Latin Mass churches..

SurvivalBlog readers might also be interested to learn that in the second sequel to "Patriots" (which I've nearly finished writing and that will be released in about 14 months) focuses on the epic cross-country journey of Ken and Terry Layton. Like some of my real-life friends, these fictional characters attend a Tridentine Latin Mass Church. Also, in my upcoming novel "Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse" (the first sequel to "Patriots", that will be released in October) Ian and Blanca Doyle are two key characters that are also Catholics.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Based on some suggestions from SurvivalBlog readers, the following are several new entries to supplement the list of prepper-friendly churches in the American Redoubt that I already posted. (I've just updated the original list.)

Parenthetically, I'm often asked why I place an emphasis on Reformed churches. First and foremost, I believe this is a doctrinally-correct stance. (Your mileage may vary, but the Five Point Calvinist view matches my interpretation of the Bible.) Secondarily, those who hold to a mid-tribulation or post-tribulation eschatological view (as many people in Reformed circles do) tend to be more prone to prepping than those who hold to pre-tribulation rapture eschatology. After all, if someone hopes to be "beamed up" before any End Times wrath occurs, then why should they prepare to provide for their families?

Note: I intentionally used Wikipedia (a secular source) for links to foregoing descriptions of the various eschatological camps. This might seem an odd choice, but I did so because I don't want to show an absolutist preference for any particular denomination or view. Eschatology is a sticky subject even within various Christian denominations, and I can assure you that it leads to some lively debate!

Here are the latest additions the American Redoubt recommended church list:


New Geneva Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Idaho Falls

United Reformed Church of Nampa, Nampa

Bonners Remnant Church, Bonners Ferry (a Saturday Sabbath congregational church)


Grace Bible Church, Bozeman

Old Paths Strict Baptist Church, Choteau

Three Lakes Community Bible Church, Troy

Yaak Community Church, Yaak

Eastern Oregon

Living Water, La Pine

Berean Baptist Temple, Pendleton

Eastern Washington

Covenant Of Grace Protestant Reformed, Spokane


Providence Reformed Church, Rock Springs

Note: There are of course many other good churches, synagogues, and Messianic congregations in the Redoubt States that I haven't yet listed. You can find many of them with just a bit of time visiting denominational web sites and with search engines. Feel free to e-mail me your suggested additions to the list.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The position of the Missionary or Long-term foreign worker is a bit unique, and certainly cannot be assumed to be similar either to a non-American prepper in his native home or to short-term traveler overseas. Those who travel overseas in the short term, need only to make sure that they are back home before any kind of crash and they can implement all of their plans as normally as they would have had they been at work when things began to go wrong.

Those overseas for longer periods of time, stretching into years rather than days or weeks must plan differently. For the one thing they generally cannot simply leave because things look rough. For the missionary this is because bad times do not justify ignoring either the command of scripture or his personal mandate to the work he is doing. For other long-term workers the weight of their work may equally compel them to stay where they are whether that is a moral obligation to some form of aid work or financial dependency to a business or job. For these and other reasons, many who are overseas long term cannot simply scurry home and wait for years to see whether something bad is going to happen or not.  

A different more balanced approach is therefore necessary for those who find themselves in this situation. Let me begin by saying this calls for a great deal of careful thought and discernment. The decision to make for home or stay put when things do actually get very rough, while similar to that made my many in the United States whose retreats are some distance from their homes, must be made ahead of time. You will need to be able to act quickly regardless of what you plan to do in the event that a disaster strikes.  

Stay Put or Bug Out?   The decision to stay or go is very personal, and may involve reasons that are purely spiritual or emotional, a since of being called to stay or a desire to be with close family in hard times, nevertheless careful thought should be put into this decision. Firstly you should consider the nation you are living in as a whole. How viable would it be to stay in that country in the event of some sort of worldwide disaster, such as economic collapse or power grid failure? This is tricky as factors are involved which may not be readily apparent. The Philippines for example, was rated very poorly in terms of how it would handle the grid failure anticipated around Y2K. Having spent sometime living there I found this odd since the country, as a whole seemed to have little technological dependence. But upon further investigation, I found that the nation was dependent on imports not only economically but also for essentials like food. Some Latin-American nations on the other hand may be even better off than the United States in terms of food and water because the sources are kept much more locally even in large cities. Thus it is key to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of attempting to stay or go in the country you are located in.  

Your personal location should be considered as well. Do you live in a major city or way out in the middle of nowhere. If you live closer to the airport than to the place you might consider retreating to in country, then perhaps it would be safer to just fly home than to try getting out safely into the countryside. If on the other hand you live so far out in the sticks that you cannot easily get in and out of town (you must be flow out, you have to hike out but it takes several days, etc.) then you may be remote enough that getting out is neither practical nor necessary. While our natural instincts may gives us a strong desire to be home, we should be willing to consider that we may be in a better place overseas than we would be if we were back home. Consider how a mass exodus from the cities and the inability to get food or water except from local sources would affect the area you live in.  

Next to be considered are the people around you. Will you be able to put together a reasonably self-sufficient team of people in order to survive where you are, or will you be trying to survive on your own? Are the locals hostile to your presence even in the best of times, or do they have a strong value for live and appreciate and desire your presence in their community? Is your community already self reliant to some degree? Has your family been present long enough to know the local language and customs well enough to handle a large-scale crisis? If you will be unable to form a community that will fit in with that which is already there, or are not surrounded by anyone else interested in self sufficiency then going home may be in your best interest, especially if you have friends or family interested in prepping and helping you prep. If, however, you feel you are in a more self -sufficient and communal environment on the field, then you might think about staying put even if you might be tempted to "feel" differently.  

Once you have made up your mind on this all important decision it is time to put together a plan to act out whichever contingency you have chosen. I will address Bugging Out first, as this is likely the plan that will be most advocated by Mission and Non-government Organizations, Large Businesses, and Governments.  

Bugging Out
If you plan to bug out, there basically two things that must be arranged. The first is to ensure that you have a secure and reliable way to successfully get home to where you are going. The second is to have a retreat group and location already prepared in advance.   Setting up a safe route home is a two step process. The first step is to ensure you are able to make it back to your home country. The second is to make sure that you can reach your retreat once your flight lands. To be honest this process is good practice for any spending time overseas whether they are concerned about long-term crisis or not and is recommended by most organizations (mission or business) operating overseas. Here is a checklist of things you need to have done in order to Bug Out safely:              

* Have a signal and rally point, each member of your family needs to know where to be in the event of any kind of tumultuous event. I recommend that a signal and rally point be used for all crisis that may occur not just major ones that justify leaving the country.              
* Have passage booked and all legal documents (Passports, Birth certificates, etc.) current and easily accessible. Return fair is not difficult to maintain and can make the trip home much quicker than trying to book a flight after things are already bad.              
* Keep your bags packed. Each member of your family should have a large day pack pre packed with bear essentials gear and their most important items. Unlike preppers in the United States your window to get out will be much smaller, you will not have time to pack your bags or evaluate what needs to be taken with you after things get bad so do it now. These bags should be the largest carry on baggage acceptable. Even if the airlines are allowing checked baggage, you don't need to take the time to check yours. Your focus should be on getting on the plane and getting home.              
* Have a route to the airport (or other transportation hub) predetermined. You will want the safest and fastest route you can find. Try to find one that does not take your near areas you think may be volatile if there is social unrest and that will have less traffic in the event that everyone else is scrambling for their home as well.  

Before I continue to the second half of the journey, that which will begin upon your touching down, I feel I should make a brief note about computers. Many missionaries, foreign workers, and businessmen rely heavily on one or several computers. These often contain sensitive and priceless information that they cannot lose. In this situation I do not believe it is a good idea to waste space carrying even your laptop on the plane with you. Instead I believe that all of the computers your family (and office if applicable) uses should be packed up to a small, portable, external drive. In the event of a major crisis simply scrub or destroy all of your hard drives and slip this drive into your backpack. It is a good idea to keep a back up anyway.   The situation may change rapidly while you are flying (the most common form of travel these days) from overseas back home. Things may deteriorate rapidly, so that even just a few short hours make all the difference. This emphasizes why, as much as possible your bug out plan should include a group of close, like-minded friends. If your plan has been to come home all along then you should have been preparing with this group of people in the first place. Just like others who plan to bug out in country, a group retreat should be predetermined and you should preposition all of your gear there. This should be done easily by making trips out during your visits home, and by purchasing items online and having another member of your group carry them up for you.   

The best plan would be to work with members of your group, and have someone meet your family upon arrival. This will require constant communication as things grow worse as well as a layer of back up plans in case it should fail. First of all you need at least two radios. One should be a portable shortwave radio for you to monitor current conditions upon arrival, but before rendezvousing with your contact. Secondly you should have some form of handheld radio device with a preset channel for contacting your group. This should have as long a range as possible. In this way you will be able to locate your ride quickly, even in a crowd.  

A storage unit or even the home or apartment of a nearby friend will be helpful in all of this. Such a unit should be located within walking distance of your arrival point (the airport, etc.) as well as within the reach of your handheld radios. This will provide you a place to do several things. First of all a vehicle and supplies can be kept at such a location, ready and waiting for your arrival. With the help from your support group, this vehicle and the supplies in it can be maintained easily and will allow you to arrive safely at your retreat even should something go wrong. Secondly, this provides a good place for your contact to wait for you as the airport may be crazy. Finally, this will provide a safe place for your retreat group to leave a message for you, in the event that they should come but be forced to leave before you arrive for some reason. They will be able to fill you in on the situation and tell you how you should proceed (using vague terms about locations and people to protect OPSEC of course).   While traveling from overseas back home is never and ideal situation, especially when compared to living at your retreat, for those who are called to be overseas in a full time capacity practicing these tips should make the probability of arriving safely home much higher. Lets take a look now at Bugging In.  

Bugging In
Many of the same considerations take place when bugging in overseas as they do when selecting a retreat here in the United States. Questions like: Is my house the best place to be, or should we have plans to relocate to a friend's house that is located better? or How much food and livestock does my family require? will be the same no matter where you are located. In some areas the missionary or foreign worker is better positioned than the average American. For example the water in most countries is not safe to drink, so you may be better prepared in terms of water purification, also the architecture overseas is often better suited to the climate meaning it is less dependent on the power grid for heating and cooling. However, you may face some key challenges that should be addressed:
* Retreat location: In at least on country I lived in the ownership of property by non-citizens was illegal. The only way to purchase property was by having your mission agency incorporated in that country. I don't know about all cases, but from what I have seen this is a fairly common practices. It isn't hard to see how this could pose a problem. If you have a excellent retreat locations prepared with all of your gear propositioned only be tossed out by your landlord who now wants to be out in the safety of the countryside, you haven't really done yourself any good. For this reason whenever possible a way to purchase the property needs to be found. This may mean you have to compromise between what makes for a good retreat, and what makes for a good mission/business office (if your organizations is having to by the land).     
* Water sources: While you may have better water purification processes in place, and likely a better system for storing water than most Americans who have city or county water, having your own source of water may be somewhat more difficult. You will have to determine if digging a well is legally possible, and even if it is you may need  to be prepared to do it yourself (for those in humanitarian type enterprises this should come rather easily). If legalities do pose a problem for some reason, you may want to simply invest in a storage system (refreshed by rainwater from your roof) that will hold enough water for you to implement a prearranged system (to dig a well or tap a near by stream) after law and order have begun to collapse and legalities are less of an issue. Of course if you are out in a very remote place and everyone gets water from a nearby river or spring then this won't really be a problem anyway.  
* Self-defense: The ability to defend your self, overseas, is often much more limited. Many nations don¹t allow any ownership of firearms by civilians, and fewer still would allow a foreigner to own one. Your first step should be to spend some time doing legal research and determine what your options are. A few of the African nations do allow the ownership of hunting rifles, and such and if you are in one of these nations than this would be preferable to nothing. If, however, you are in the more common situation of not being able to obtain firearms you should consider a two-fold approach. First you should research and determine what weapons police and military units are using where you are as these are what will likely be most available post crash. If at all possible obtain a civilian version of one of these weapons to practice with while you are in the United States. Resist the urge to modify it, but instead train with it as it is likely to be if you happen to find one post crash. If the weapon in use by the local military and police isn't available here in the U.S. than consider getting an inexpensive AK clone and training with it, as the AK is the most common firearm in use today, worldwide. Learn to shoot accurately with whatever is likely to be available, to be able to easily do routine maintenance, and how to determine which variants are of highest quality for times when you have a choice.  

The second step in self-defense preparedness overseas will be to acquire and train with older more traditional weapons, many of which are not restricted. For projectile weapons I suggest either a bow or a crossbow. These should be a simple as possible, either a locally available product or a recurve imported from the States. Compound bows and cross bows are great for use in good times but are likely to me more prone to wear and tear without proper care. The recurve will give you more power relative to the size of the bow than a long bow, but without any additional maintenance being required. Slingshots, especially when using steel shot, can be very effective and are easy to slip into your pocket or backpack. They can be used for hunting small game or for self-defense. Knives and hatchets can be easily trained with, and you really ought to have them for general chores anyway, as such the only other weapon I think really needs to be mentioned is the cane. The good thing about a walking cane or stick is that is not generally perceived as a weapon, even by an attackers; but when wielded well a cane or stick can win easily even over a knife or machete.              

* Most of the other prepping topics can be easily adapted for use overseas. Books like JWR's novel "Patriots" and other blog articles have gone in to great detail on a wide variety of different topics. The key is to begin to think about how to adapt these to your specific environment. What differences might weather and local culture make? By adapting to the circumstances of the country you are in, there is a good chance you, your family, and your friends can find a safe place to be and possibly even continue the work you have been doing.   

In Closing - A Note for Friends and Family of Missionaries and Others Overseas:  
These tips have been written from my experience to help missionaries and other long-term foreign workers begin to think through the options they have, and the concepts they will need to consider. For friends and family the role of the missionary or foreign worker seems dangerous even in the best of times, and we the urge to beg your friend or family member to come home can be hard to resist. Please try to keep in mind that the cause of the Gospel, and the charity offered by many other organizations are just. Good, Godly, and charitable work ought not be stopped simply because we fear the times. However, as a prepper friend of missionaries you should provide moral support as they press on even in hard times, and in helping begin the conversation on what options they are considering in the event of a crisis. This role is vitally important as many missionaries I personally know are either: considering temporarily giving up their work until things blow over, or feel that they must press on even if it means not being prepared at all. As a prepper community, especially a prepper community that emphasizes Faith and Charity, we can help this work continue by beginning this conversation and exploring options together.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

When it comes to training, there are many good avenues. Some choose (or are drafted) to serve in the military and take advantage of the training there, ranging from basic to advanced. Others get involved in Scouts. Some piece together opportunities like firearms training, wilderness survival and emergency medical courses. Still others learn through travel. There are many types of travel, and each teaches in a different way, if we choose to learn. A cruise with touristy ports-of-call probably isn’t much of an education, except in the gustatory sense, but foreign military service clearly can be. Not all of us are wealthy enough to take cruises, of course, nor young enough to serve in the armed forces, but there are good opportunities between these extremes. One of the best, in my mind, is short-term foreign missions. Here are a few reasons:
Immerse Yourself in a Foreign Culture

This is the most obvious.

In a TEOTWAWKI scenario, there’s a good chance you’ll be dealing with new and different people outside your social circle. Placing yourself in a foreign country forces you to encounter and deal with new people, as well as a whole new set of customs, foods, climate, language, etc. You can study all you want about being adaptable, but nothing compares to being forced to do it by dropping yourself into such a situation. You may learn, as I did, that live flying termites aren’t a bad snack.

The strength of short-term foreign missions is that much of it is done in developing countries (though that is changing somewhat as Europe and other historically Christian areas have abandoned the faith). You’re not going to be sitting at a café in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, eating croissants and reading SurvivalBlog over free Wi-Fi. More often than not—if you seek out appropriate opportunities—you’ll be experiencing a way of life that we haven’t known in the West for over a century, possibly a millennium.

Practice Traveling Light

This is not required, of course. The tendency is to “be prepared” by having a bit of everything with you. By choosing to travel light, however, you learn to be prepared by making do with what you have on you and what’s available along your journey.

Bags get lost. Not always, but often enough to plan for it. Traveling with only carry-on luggage is liberating. Not only do you not have to worry about your bags being lost, but you’re also more maneuverable, faster through airports and less obviously a tourist. I’ve been to Africa twice. I was in both urban and bush areas and stayed in modest guest houses but also camped in remote and wild areas. I also took extended layovers in European cities on the return trips. Both times I fit all my personal belongings in a convertible carry-on backpack/suitcase. I use Rick Steve’s Convertible Carry-On, but there are other good options. It’s light, low-key, well-thought-out and meets both US and international carry-on guidelines. The US Customs agent was baffled when he looked at my passport when I returned. “Kenya, Uganda and the UK. With just that backpack?” Yes.

There are plenty of resources for learning how to travel light, so I won’t go into too many details, except to mention a few favorites:  synthetic liner socks (good ones are comfortable and dry overnight, unlike thicker athletic or boot socks), Campsuds (concentrated and washes yourself, your clothes and your dishes), a sleep sack or REI’s Travel Sack (one’s basically a sleeping bag made out of a single layer of whatever material you choose—silk, cotton, synthetics, blends—folded over; the other’s a lightly insulated bag with a hood—both are very compact) and polypropylene long underwear (goes nicely with the previous item when things get chilly and are great for layering in cooler places, like Europe for longer layovers and even the higher altitudes on the Equator, where you may not want the hassle of carrying bulkier cold weather clothes).

Deal with Discomfort

Most Americans live a life of comfort. All but the poorest live at a level of ease and safety well beyond much of the world. But in the event of a short-term disaster or longer change in our way of life, we’re going to face discomfort. Knowing how we cope and how to cope can go a long way in preparing us.

I recall lying in a tent in eastern Uganda with the temperature in the 90s, heavy rains revealing every leak in the tent and a tent door zipper which wouldn’t close for the last 18 inches to the floor. Water, insects and animals were free to come and go at will (thankfully only water and insects took advantage, though both can be just as deadly as animals in that part of the world). Sometime during the sweltering storm, one of my tent mates began vomiting profusely. It was one of the most uncomfortable experiences I’ve had, and it was one I simply had to endure. There was nowhere for me to go, no way of alleviating my discomfort. I just prayed and waited.

While I wouldn’t seek out misery, having experienced it on multiple occasions has helped prepare me psychologically for handling it again. I know I can do it, because I’ve done it.

Test Your Gear

You can read all the gear reviews you want, but until you actually use your gear, you won’t know how it performs. A short-term missions trip is a great way to field test. See if your Gore-Tex really “breathes” in hot, rainy weather. Find out if that collapsible water bottle is really the perfect answer you were looking for—mine wasn’t. Figure out if that tiny LED flashlight will get you safely to the bushes and back to relieve yourself when there’s no light for miles except for the stars. Try assembling your high-tech tent by the lights of a Land Rover. You get the idea.

Get Super-Vaccinated

Most of the vaccinations I received when traveling to Africa were for diseases that are either not seen in the West or ones that we’re generally not exposed to due to better sanitation, vaccinations, etc. Either because they were required or recommended, I’ve been vaccinated against hepatitis A, hepatitis B, yellow fever, meningitis, typhoid, and H1N1, and received boosters for polio, mumps, measles, rubella, diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus. Not only am I up-to-date on my boosters, but I’m also vaccinated against several diseases which we currently avoid but which we could easily see a resurgence of in the event of certain natural disasters. This can be an expensive proposition, but some insurance will cover portions of the vaccines and it certainly prepares one health-wise both for the immediate trip and for unforeseen circumstances to come.

Learn the Value of Water & the Environment

This may sound trite, but you really can’t appreciate the value of water and the environment until you travel to a developing country and can’t drink the water straight out of the tap. Or maybe you don’t even have a tap. In countries like the US, we have many buffers between us and nature. While we may be inconvenienced at times when extreme weather strains our systems, we often aren’t in touch with our environment as we drive our climate-controlled cars from our climate-controlled homes to our climate-controlled workplaces. Manicured, watered and fertilized lawns may mask a dry spell. Efficient and invisible waste management hides the consequences of being poor stewards or resources; we simply don’t see it unless we go looking for it.

In both Kenya and Uganda, water was not a guarantee. And even when it was available, it was necessary to boil it before drinking, a truly tedious task on a hot day. At home I can fill up my bathtub with potable water and soak in it for leisure. In many parts of the world, such a thing could only be accomplished by women and girls lugging multiple jerry cans to a bore hole a mile or more away, then returning them and heating the water using a wood fire.

Adjust Your Needs and Wants

For me, this was the biggest lesson learned. We take so much for granted and can’t fully grasp just how much until we say how the poorest of the poor live. When I came back from east Africa, I walked into the kitchen. “Snacks! Why do we have snacks?!” Then I walked into the bathroom and felt convicted about our bubble bath. Despite the heat, I went without A/C in my car for a time. Gradually, the convictions fade, unfortunately, but I still have a radically altered view of what are needs and what are wants.

There’s an anecdote I’ve heard a couple of times about a seasoned missionary greeting a new missionary in the field. The new missionary begins to ask about how to obtain certain necessities when the seasoned missionary replies, “You tell me everything you think you need, and I’ll tell you how to live without it.”

Necessity is the mother of invention. People in developing countries have to be resourceful. There is no Social Security, no welfare. If you want to eat, you have to get up and do something. Just being around this kind of productivity is inspiring. Are there lazy people, crooks and addicts in every kind of country, rich or poor? Absolutely. But a poor person in America looks nothing like a poor person in the slums of Nairobi. We sometimes look to history to see how people lived in simpler ways, but we don’t need to. Millions live that way right now.

The applications for preparedness are pretty clear. Having your mind transformed helps you streamline your life, live more simply and be a better steward of all that you have. This does two things: 1) It makes you better able to prepare, in terms of having resources and knowing what’s really needed. And, 2) In the event of a lifestyle-altering disaster, you won’t be nearly so impacted.

Practice Charity & Faith

Lastly, although I’ve described what you can get from short-term foreign missions, what you give is every bit as important. So much of survivalism and preparedness tends to be self-focused. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s like the in-flight instruction to don your oxygen mask first in the event of an emergency, so that you can help those around you. Figuratively speaking, we sometimes forget to go beyond donning the mask. And, let’s be honest, we often prepare for eventualities of varying likelihood while ignoring present certainties—disasters in progress for others. Short-term missions give you an opportunity to practice charity.

As anyone who’s ever planned, raised funds for and gone on a missions trip will tell you, both the preparation and the trip itself will test and grow your faith. You are willfully going against your self-preservation instincts for the benefit of someone else and relying on God to do it. Done with a humble and willing spirit, this exercise in faith will stand you in good stead if and when the hard times come for you. I challenge you to consider it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Three years ago, my husband and I had never heard the terms "prepper", "survivalist" or "bug out".  We were blissfully unaware of our country's and world's dire circumstances and didn't know how to do much of anything truly useful.  This is a chronicle of the journey that brought us to where we are today, and I have included some of the specific books, resources and equipment that are the fruit of much research and thought.  We didn't have much to spend on equipment or commercially packed stores of food, but through providence and thrift, we are much better able to weather the storms ahead.

It was during the spring of 2008, just after our graduation from college, that my husband and I tied the knot.  We were barely aware of the financial troubles that were creeping in on the country, except to say that we had both applied for any job related to our fields, but there were so few out there and neither of us got hired.  My husband took a job for which he was over qualified, but it was enough to pay the rent on our tiny apartment, a converted attic in a very old house.  We had no air conditioning, barely any heat except what rose from the apartment below, and the smallest kitchen in the free world.  Every ceiling was at an angle, which let to a lot of hunching and head-thumping and our one and only closet housed the miniature bathroom. But we were two of the happiest people alive.  We quickly learned how to live on a very tight budget, within our means, and to be content with what we had.

A year later, we had saved and been blessed with enough to put a down payment on a small and comfortable house with a mortgage payment of 5 dollars more than our pittance rent had been.  The house had a yard and I discovered flowers.  It started with a few sorry petunias and turned into an all-out smorgasbord of flowers as I tried to learn everything there was to know about growing plants.  I mowed through stacks of library books on the subject, not knowing where it would take me. At the same time, my husband was developing a keen interest in economics and soon we had competing stacks of books on our chosen topics until it became clear that several bookcases were needed. 

It was during the course of my husband's studies that he came across words like "the gold standard" and "fiat currency."  The more he learned and the more I took an interest in what he was learning, the more alarmed we became about what the government had done and was doing with our currency, legislation, and constitutional rights.  It was not a moment of sudden epiphany, but a slow, creeping uneasiness.  We were becoming aware of the fragility of things like our food supply and power grid, and came to the unpleasant realization that in 17 years of formal education, we had not learned one skill that would keep us alive.  Sure, we could find Uzbekistan on a map, figure out the square root of 64, or explain what Hobbes thought of monarchy, but we didn't have a clue how to grow and preserve food, hunt, or build a shelter using only hand tools.  Like infants, we were utterly dependent on others for the bare essentials.  And we were not the only ones.  There are millions of Americans depending on tomorrow being exactly like today or the day before.  The food trucks must continue showing up at the grocery to restock the shelves, the gas must continue coming out of the pumps at the local station, and the savings in the bank must hold value until they are ready to be spent. 
Were we the only ones seeing the problem with this? Was anybody else paying attention?  We felt very isolated in our new-found realizations, until we discovered sites like and  Suddenly there was this community of like-minded people who were concerned about the future of the citizens of the country and weren't waiting on politicians or the government to "bail them out" should there ever be trouble.  We were introduced to the concept of food storage and preservation, and realized that if we were to continue eating after grocery stores were cleaned out by the hungry hoards, my gardening skills must be put to use in a large vegetable garden. I bought books like Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners by Suzanne Ashworth and John Seymour's The New Self-Sufficient Gardener.  I learned the difference between heirloom and genetically modified seeds and why heirloom seeds will be what keep us alive.  I learned to can and stocked up plenty of canning jars (while they were on sale, reduced in cost further with coupons bought on e-bay), enough for several months worth of food.  I bought the All American 921 All-American 21-1/2-Quart Pressure Cooker/Canner because it had no gaskets that would need to be replaced, should there ever come a time when spare parts for such a thing would be in high demand and short supply.  It is built like a tank and will be reliable for years to come.  I learned about root cellaring from Mike and Nancy Bubel's book Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetablesand another excellent book by John Seymour, The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It.

We also discovered the Mormon teaching that each family should have enough food stored up to live off for a year.  We found that the Mormon church has canning facilities across the country where anybody can come and can basic staples like beans, rice, wheat, sugar, flour, oats and more at "at cost" prices.  The canning sessions are four hours long and the whole group packages everything that each person has ordered, packing it either in #10 cans or mylar pouches with the appropriate sized oxygen absorber in each for up to 30 year storage life in some foods.  Use of the otherwise costly equipment is free, the cans and oxygen absorber prices are "at cost", making them much less expensive than can be found online or in stores.  Only items purchased at the storehouse can be canned during the session, but bags of oxygen absorbers can be purchased (at 10 cents per absorber or $10 for a bag of 100), as well as mylar pouches (for 30 cents each) and #10 cans (for 90 cents per can+lid, although I would not recommend this unless you intend to "check out" the canning equipment for a few days, which is also free). We were able to, in a single session, can enough food for six months or more for hundreds or even thousands less than commercially available food storage packages.  While the cannery is a little shy on variety, it is a great start and the rest can be repackaged from items bought at bulk stores like Costco or Sam's Club.  We purchased food items to break up the monotony of eating the same things day in and day out, like chocolate and fruit drink mixes, and sealed them in the mylar bags (using a hair-straightener to seal the bags, which is much easier than using an iron and most households with a female occupant already own one.  Incidentally, we were told not to package items that contain sugar with oxygen absorbers, as it compromises the quality of the food).  As non-Mormons, it was a little daunting to go to our first canning session, but we quickly realized that most of the people there weren't even Mormons.  There was no pressure to "convert" and we were met with generally very friendly people. These canning sessions could be a wonderful place to build the foundations of friendship with like-minded locals, and share the good news of Jesus in due season.  

Just a few months ago we felt very heavy with the prospect of having to learn so much as soon as possible.  We were finding out just how much we didn't know and that was almost paralyzing.  Thanks to God's miraculous guidance, we have become friends with many people who already know life-preserving skills and are willing to teach us.  Like children, we must learn to walk before we can run, and have the humility to ask for help when we need it.  Surviving the chaos to come depends not just on our own skill set, but on the community of capable people we choose to surround ourselves with.   

Both the use of our disposable income and our mindsets have changed drastically over the past year.  What seems very clear to us is not always obvious to those we love and care about.  We have encountered many reactions to this shift in our lives, ranging from enthusiastic curiosity, to denial that anything could ever go wrong, to belligerent opposition.  We have heard from several loved ones, "I will just die and meet Jesus" or "you are worrying and aren't relying on God to provide for you."  On the surface, these seem like pious responses.  We must remind our friends that "just dying" is not an option.  Starvation is a slow and painful process, made even more painful by watching loved ones suffer and not being able to help, when with forethought help could have been given. Instead of "worrying" when times are bad, we have the things we need and won't be in a position of constant worry. To the charge of "not relying on God" we answer that He has given us a sound mind and the conviction that action must be taken before it is too late, thus providing for us in hard times to come.  Like the wise ant in Proverbs 6, we are storing up provisions in summer and gathering food at harvest.  The changes we have made are not just a way to eliminate needless danger, but a way of life.  In good times and in bad, we will grow our own food because it is satisfying.  We will live off the land because it is sustainable and there is pride in seeing the work of our hands.  Being prepared does not mean unpleasantness, but great fulfillment of life.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

After first picking up your book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" on a whim, has definitely changed a lot about how I live my life, particularly in how I choose to spend money.  As a prospective medical student, I can't buy a retreat property and set it up the way I should (however much I want to).  However, there are many things I have found I can do.  After reading The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason years ago at the encouragement of my Dad, I started to set aside 10% of what I made for investment purposes.  I had a nice little amount saved when I came across SurvivalBlog.  A lot of the things said about the dollar's decline made a lot of sense to me.  However, while I do believe a serious collapse is possible, and I want to be prepared for it, I have a limited amount of funds.  Therefore, I wanted to put the bulk of my funds into something that will help me prepare should something go wrong, be a good investment whether collapse happened or not, and be something I could enjoy no matter what.  That being the case, the two things I have spent most of my money on are guns and books.  While guns fit all the parameters of what I listed above, books are not really a great investment if you plan on getting your money back later on or plan on turning a profit.  

My library is now loaded with most of the survival fiction suggested on the SurvivalBlog bookshelf, a fair number of the other recommended books, and books I personally felt could be of some use (Falcon Guides, books on how native Americans lived, how Civil War soldiers lived, books that would just be an entertaining read, and so forth).  I frequently stop at a used bookstore on my way back from volunteering in the hospital Emergency Room.  Used bookstores are a great way to find books at low prices.  I am blessed to have a rather large used bookstore near my home.  Amazon is of course another great resource but they are usually (but not always) a little more expensive and you just don’t get to have the same browsing experience as you get at a brick and mortar store.  I must take this opportunity to thank Avalanche Lily for recommending The Sign of the Beaver  and The Crispin trilogy.  In elementary school, my school sponsored an event we were allowed to pick out a free book once a year.  Because The Sign of the Beaver had an Indian boy on the cover, and I was interested in Native American life as well as being part Native American myself, I chose it.  I remember I thought it was too long and difficult to read, so I put it on my shelf and mostly put it out of my mind until I saw Lily's recommendation.  Needless to say I changed my view on the length and difficulty of the book and even though it is a "children's book," I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The first Crispin book has proved to be entertaining and informative as well.  I find books written for children can be great resources especially in the realm of survival.  These books tend to cut survival skills down to their basics and are written...get even a child can understand it.  While knowing the exact angles at which to place your sticks to start a fire may be useful, knowing that you should make a stick tepee will probably work just as well.  I am not saying you should do away with the "real" manuals (I have many), but children's books would make a great addition.

I mentioned volunteering in the ER earlier.  I mainly started volunteering to get experience for medical school, but I have since come to enjoy my time spent up there.  You get to help people and gain valuable experience, if not in the way you think you would.  While I am allowed to observe the treatment of trauma patients, I really don’t get a good idea of how I would be able to treat them.  Give them a shot of this, run this kind of iv, order this test, and usually they are sent off pretty quickly for an xray or CT scan and I don’t get to see much after that.  However, the real experience comes in watching how the staff interacts with the patients and their families.  We have a large variety of people come to be treated.  We have truly crazy people, people who are just a little crazy, people who can’t speak English, people are in serious pain, people who are homeless, criminals, violent people, hypochondriacs, etc., etc., who are seeking treatment.  It is interesting to see how each situation is dealt with.  The hospital staff has done a great job of adapting to each situation.  From a survival standpoint, while I may not be too much closer in being able to take care of your gun shot wound, I feel I am much better prepared to deal with people in crisis situations and I would recommend a stint as a volunteer in the ER to anyone (if you can handle it).

Now on to the stuff everyone likes to talk about: guns.  Before I started reading Survivalblog, I had a Springfield Armory XD-M .40 and a Ruger 10/22.  Now, I have in addition to these: a Taurus TCP .380, a Walther P22, a Remington 700 VTR in .308, Remington 870 Marine Magnum, an AR-15 with a great set up, a Saiga 12, an Arsenal SGL21 AKM, and a DPMS LR308AP4 (also with a great set up).  I have also purchased a Gamo Whisper pellet rifle, a Crosman 760 Pumpmaster that shoots both BBs and pellets (definitely worth the $30 at Wal-Mart), and a Bear Super Kodiak recurve bow.  I figured that with the exception of the air rifles and maybe the bow, these weapons would at least hold near their value regardless of the value of the dollar.  Plus, I now have a nice battery for defense, a great hobby, and a lot better chance of getting some meat for the table whether it is with a bullet, a shotgun shell, a BB, or an arrow.  

The main reason I started to write this was about turning tangibles into tangibles.  Some of you may be thinking, man, he has to save up for medical school, how did he get all those guns?  Like I said, I had been saving up on the side for years and taking a small percentage for investment (which I have now decided is guns) each week.  Also, I am a deal hunter.  Almost all of the above weapons were purchased at gun shows or off of  If your state has one, another great place to look is a state gun forum (not run by the state...just in your state).  However, with my gun fund now depleted, I have to get creative.  So, I turned to Craigslist.  What do I possibly have that I don't need/want anymore that is worth anything and/or may not be worth anything soon?  As a 20-something, I have acquired a rather large assortment of video game systems over the years. While I may keep my xbox 360 as a luxury in a post collapse situation (as one survivor of the Argentina collapse wrote about), I feel fine about getting rid of my old and/or seldom played systems that are just taking up space.  I also have DVDs.  

While I plan on keeping a few around for my personal collection and as possible luxury items, I have many that I am sure I will never watch again.  With the advent of Blu-ray, Netflix, Comcast on demand, etc., the time to get out of DVDs seems to be yesterday.  The good news is they haven't yet become worthless.  While a used VHS sells for around 20 cents now, a used DVD can still get you $2 to $10, depending on the title).  This may not sound like much but if you have a large collection, this may be the way to get that new concealable .38 Special revolver you've had your eye on.  And if you have a complete boxed set of a popular show, even used you could be looking at the $100-$150 range.  
is the time to trade in some items that will wind up in the free box at a garage sale for something you can actually use.  Of course, video games and DVDs are not the only tangibles you can convert.  Look for opportunities to take items that you don't use or don't want anymore and turn them into something you really want.  It is easy to just let your junk sit where it is, take up space in your house, and lose value.  You might be surprised how much you can get for your junk and how good you will feel to be rid of it.  On a side note, you can also re-purpose your junk.  My mom wanted to get rid of some inexpensive porcelain figures and decorations.  After an attempt to sell them in a garage sale, these became my new bb targets.  I am looking forward to seeing what other suggestions are out there for tangible conversion. Turn your soon to be worthless tangibles into tangibles that have value now and could become invaluable in the future.

One final thought:  We have all heard of your three Bs: "Beans, Bullets, and Band-aids".  This is a great way to summarize necessities of survival and for the fear of becoming the 20 "Bs" of survival or the 30 "Bs" of survival, it should probably remain the three Bs.  However, I find the six Bs of survival being closer to my mentality:  Bible, Books, Beans, Bullets, Band-Aids, and Bullion. - T.N.

Monday, June 27, 2011

In March I was traveling on business when the earthquake/tsunami struck Japan.  My brother was in Japan at the time on business travel.  My brother finally made it home five days after the earthquake struck.  Meanwhile I was in Israel when the rockets from Gaza started up again, and a bombing occurred at the Jerusalem bus stop.  We both travel considerably throughout the world, and have often discussed preparations during travel for emergencies.  My brother is less concerned about preparations at home, but our experiences have convinced him over time on the need for backup options when away from home.  We have learned several lessons over the years that might be worth considering if work or pleasure takes you far from home base.

I like to travel light, so the amount of gear I carry is carefully evaluate and screened.  The other factor is that I often travel to foreign countries which scrutinize or control what articles I can or choose to carry.  Many times I’m in environments where theft is a major concern, so I’ve also learned to minimize the temptation, and have chosen gear that is inexpensive but reliable.  Over the years I’ve found several items and ideas that have worked well for me in surviving tsunami threats, earthquakes, and civil unrest. 

I keep several small sources of light – all of them LED-based, with spare batteries.  I prefer pen-lights with single LEDs which run on the very small coin batteries, and a larger, aluminum “fist-pack” lamp that runs on a few AAA batteries.  Smaller batteries provide long lifetime while minimizing weight.  I also buy (and confirm) that the lights I carry are waterproof.  Power outages are common around the world, even when no natural disaster has occurred.  Stumbling about in the dark in a strange room or building will slow you down and invite injury.

Security is the main concern in my travel, so self-defense options are given attention in my travel preparations.  Most countries do not allow non-residents (or even their residents, for that matter) to carry firearms, and I don’t trust prying eyes in my bags to keep my weapons secure, so traveling with a firearm is not an option.  Instead, I keep two simple knifes with me – one utilitarian for everyday carry and use, the other more defensive in purpose.  Both are small, discrete, and functional.  A small knife sharpener is also valuable and easy to include.  The utility knife is used daily and fortunately the defensive weapon has never been deployed.

I used to carry a small, two ounce canister of pepper spray for security as well but have not bothered with it in the last few years.  Some countries have restrictions on sprays such as this so spend time investigating local laws before you enter.  Instead, I often will move furniture around and position a chair at the door to help in an unwanted room entry. 

A small bottle of water purification tablets is also standard carry for me, while my brother carries a small filter “straw” device for purifying water.  These are very important and priceless when natural disaster strike, even in a well developed country like Japan where citizens are often less prepared for the unexpected.  I believe a traveler is most vulnerable to water availability and should keep this item in the forefront of their consciousness, even in modern countries.  Bottled water was the first item to disappear from stores in Japan within minutes of the March earthquake.

The only other “must have” emergency gear I carry includes: plenty of reading materials, my camera, ear plugs, packages of Tic-Tacs or gum, extra toilet paper, and a small compass.  A couple of cheap, disposable, paperback books that are interesting and easy to read are invaluable after the initial emergency when circumstances keep you in a “hurry and wait” holding pattern.  I also keep a small copy of the New Testament (and Old Testament when in Israel).  I keep at least one Louis L ‘Amour novel because they are small and easy to read, and because when I’m done they have wide appeal to someone else waiting with me, even in other countries.  The tic-tacs and gum keep my mouth occupied and refreshed after stale, purified water and also are a valuable pacifier for children in a traumatized crowd.  The tic-tacs are small and numerous, so many children can be quieted for little expense or hassle.  A small gift in my opinion always works better than scolding looks from others to quiet a youngster, and always brings a very heartfelt smile from a distraught mother or grandparent.  Orange tic-tacs are the best option as they resemble candy more than medication. 

The compass is another no-brainer for me when trying to sort out location or travel.  It is very helpful in keeping a bearing when in a strange city, and doesn’t require batteries.  GPS receivers are useful, but too needy for me in an emergency.  My brother travels with his, but in Japan he couldn’t work it reliably for him to navigate with and so it became dead weight.  He also discovered that in some countries, the GPS automatically reverted to local language options, and since he can’t read Japanese or Czech, it took some time to fiddle with to revert back to English.  If you do carry GPS, get to know it well – especially it’s most basic and most exotic features. 

I love maps, and have the curious habit of gathering them up as I travel – to help me move about and to help me remember the trip.  Most hotels have basic, complementary maps available.  If your hotel doesn’t, one of the other hotels in the area will, and they are often eager to give them out to future customers.  I’ve never found good maps in English at local bookstores in the area I’m staying.  If you want a detailed map of the area, I suggest buying one in the United States before you travel.  At the end of a trip, I’ll file my best maps away for future travel, and also make notes about favorite things or places I went, as well as a list of places to visit if/when I return to that area.

I always carry a camera with extra memory and battery for obvious travel use, and to help me improve my memory in the field.  A snapshot of a street sign, posted map, or storefront is a big help getting directions from a 50 year old Chinese man who speaks little English.  The extra memory also is important for saving business data.  Most of my international travel is for business, and in an emergency I am not willing to carry my laptop around unless it is easy to do so.  I keep important data backed up on a small flash-drive, and in a real pinch, can quickly remove the hard drive from the system if I do have to get out lightly so I don’t loose the important information.  Remember to keep the camera discretely tucked away when not in use to avoid drawing the label as tourist.  I’ve never had problems with taxi drivers when I first snap a picture of their cab’s license plate before getting in.

Finally, I keep several quart and gallon size Ziploc bags with me at all times.  The bags protect my camera and batteries, and also work well to protect my wallet, maps, and other fragile items in normal, daily outings.  Their value in an emergency should also be obvious for carrying/treating water, food, and other necessities.

I travel with a shoulder-bag that doubles as my BOB on daily excursions.  Unless I’m to be in-country for an extended period of time, I do not carry a cell phone.  In an emergency they usually don’t work reliably, and if I do need to make a call, I have easily found help from someone nearby who has always lent me their phone.  This probably doesn’t make sense to everyone, but it is my personal preference.  It has also forced me to become better adept at using local phone services, phone cards, and communications options.  I believe a little extra effort and experience are much more valuable than convenience.  Maybe I just had too much trouble figuring out the foreign cell phone operations.

Besides these emergency items, I also make it a point to carry plenty of prescription medication and pain relief medicines – at least twice as much as my trip would call for.  For years I carried a small tube of oral numbing gel, and when I finally needed it I was happy to have it.  Ear plugs are another valuable item I keep, to help sleep and just keep out noise in general (the tic-tacs don’t last forever!).  Finding a pharmacy is very difficult when afflicted in a foreign land.

I also carry plenty of cash, and keep half in US Dollars and half in local currency.  As bad as the US Dollar is getting lately in world economics, it is still the currency of choice in 99% of the world’s local markets and has more power in negotiations than most local currencies.    One last suggestion is to keep a small phrase book of the local language handy.  It is good practice to pickup conversational skills with the locals and is very rewarding.  The phrase book will make it easy and quickly expand your ability to enjoy where you are at.  Find one you can use and operate well.  Most books I’ve seen are not well designed for constant, daily use.

Other honorable mentions for gear are 10’ of paracord, a few feet of rescue tape, and a small inflatable pillow (the type that fits around your neck).  None of the showers I used at any of the 8 hotels I stayed at on my last trip to Israel worked properly.  All of the rooms had the “wand” showerheads in them which all seemed to work, so for the entire trip I used the paracord to tie the wand up to the main showerhead.  The rescue tape worked even better to hold the wand in place.  A nice shower is critical to enjoy extended travel.

While gear is important, plans, behavior, awareness, and trust in the Lord are vital. 

Once I’ve arrived in country I take several steps to prepare before beginning my work.  I secure several liters of bottled water in my room.  Most hotels are willing to provide free water, and at the end of my stay I return the extra bottles not consumed.  Many local markets will also sell bottled water, but be aware sometimes they are not bottled sanitarily or reliability.  Getting extra water on hand – at least twice what I’d normally use in a day is a big, first priority.  Another suggestion is to get a bottle or two of soda.  I prefer Sprite, which gives a little more than just hydration, and works well to sooth an upset stomach.   Also, I ask for an extra blanket from the hotel to keep in my room, wither I need it or not.  I also gather some extra calories to keep on-hand.  I have a big family, and when I travel it is now customary for Dad to bring home candy from the country I visit.  It is a simple treat for the kids.  At my first option during my trip, I go out and buy this load of candy and keep it on-hand.  I expect I could easily get buy on the candy for several days in a real pinch.

This candy/calorie loading was an important step for my brother in Japan.  On his arrival, he took this water and food step immediately and had a good cache on-hand when the earthquake hit the next day.  After the hotel stopped swaying and he finished his prayers, he headed down to the street to look around and get more food.  The convenience stores all around Tokyo were swamped, and shelves empty within an hour.  Fortunately the Japanese are known for their patience and calm personalities, so there was little panic other than the frantic search for food.  That night, his hotel was full of stranded business people sleeping on the floor in the lobby, restaurants, and hallways.  His meager room felt like a palace.

My first trip in Israel, arriving at the airport on a Saturday I’d underestimated my ability to get a meal in the less populated area I planned to stay that first night.  I had arrived at the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath which is observed throughout the country and by many of the hotels, too.   The candy bars I had on-hand was good enough for the day and the lesson learned has lasted much longer.  The trains had also stopped running, so my backup travel option was needed.

As I mentioned before, personal security during travel deserves highest consideration.  In general, keep aware of your surroundings, keep a low profile (even as a tourist), ensure your own security in your room and hotel, and mind your back.  One idea is to keep a couple of the small, adhesive alarms on your windows and door.  They are easy and disposable if you want to do more than keep chairs in the hall between you and the door.  Hotel security and location should be considered thoroughly.

Whenever staying at a hotel or when I find a good restaurant, I always collect a business card from the front desk.  I keep these cards on-hand as I travel because they are very valuable to communicate with a taxi driver.  The cards typically have the business’s name, location, and information in the local language, and so in a new taxi I simply pull out the appropriate card to indicate where I’d like to go.

My most important resource in traveling (besides contact with the Almighty) is to have several “quality” contacts locally.  Usually my travel is sponsored – with locals expecting and needing me to be there.  Upon arrival, I work hard to create and maintain a good relationship with various people, not just those I work with.  This takes some tact and discretion, because often some locals are looking for an easy mark.  I try to take co-workers and others I’m fostering contact with out to dinner – they often know the best local places to eat any way which works great for me, and the extra expense is a pittance.  When we are comfortable working together I ask about using them as an emergency contact, and keeping daily or regular contact with them during my stay.  Usually they are very flattered and agreeable with this.  I cannot stress enough how valuable even a single local person can be to keep on top of local factors, and as an immediate source of help in an emergency.  People are people everywhere, and quality people throughout the world are eager and willing to help others in a crisis.  Find some common interests, beliefs, or experiences.  Many of my foreign contacts have also traveled previously to these United States, so my efforts screening and fostering mutual trust can begin here on native soil.

Working with Chinese and other Asian cultures, guan zhou (sp?), “giving face” is very important in relationships.  This consists of giving honor, notability, and recognition even in small ways to a friend or host.  Working through friends is very important.  Look for ways to let your local contact help you, and then thank them in front of their peers and supervisors, but also let them see you mention their help in front of your peers and supervisors.  In a small village of 8 million people an hour’s distance from Shanghai, I planned to buy pearls locally for my wife and daughters on a trip.  I asked my local contact to find a source for me, which of course he had already.  Not only did I get high quality merchandise brought at my convenience, but with my poor Chinese language skills coupled with my contact being involved in the transactions (he was on my mobile phone, while I negotiated with his friend who spoke no English) I received very good “friend” prices on the goods.  The best part was that both the seller and my local contact were very pleased with their side of the transactions.  I took my co-worker out to dinner with his family and supervisor at a fantastic restaurant they knew of, and the extra cost to me came to $7 USD.  I also made sure to recommend both men to other co-workers interested in similar deals.  Win-win and they were very happy.  This is just a simple example but went a long way to my safety and the quality of my stay that trip.

Middle Eastern cultures are more subtle to understand, but everyone loves food and asking locals to take me to their favorite falafel or local cuisine has worked well to help me build working relations of trust.  Most folks I’ve worked with have friends or family that drive taxi, so as I need a car I work with those I know.  This can be very tricky, though, so make sure you have enough confidence in your local friend before ever opening that door.  Many family members drive taxi, but many are also unreliable, undirectionable, and more expensive than they are worth.  My recommendation is to stick with food as a means of establishing a relationship that you can rely on when an emergency strikes.

I do not drink alcohol but travel with colleagues which do, and I have always been grateful for the trouble and risks I’ve avoided by abstaining.  Alcohol is a high-risk factor in life, and even more so during travel.

One other thought is to pick up a sack of small candy bars at Wal-Mart before your travel, and when you find local co-workers have children (or if invited to meet their families), you have a small, simple present for the kids.  This really endures parents to you.  Make sure only to have just the right amount with you, though, because the children will not let you leave with leftovers! 

One trip in Mexico we took small bottles of bubbles and candy bars for the kids, and made the mistake of opening them up in a semi-public area.  The six children and their parents (family of the local friend we were staying with) rushed us, to get handfuls of each.  Some neighborhood women must have sensed the presents, and soon we were literally surrounded – we counted at least 25 people!  Of course soon the goods were all gone, and some kids didn’t get any.  Mothers and fathers got testy, and wanted something – the situation started to turn ugly.  Our host was very distraught by his neighbor’s behavior, but couldn’t do much.  The adults wanted paper, pens, even our dirty laundry in a bag – something for their child!  Fortunately we didn’t have our belongings or equipment with us (keeping a low profile) and finally the group left, disgusted.  Instead of being a gesture of friendship the situation backfired and while our friendship remains, I don’t rely on that contact for an emergency need.

Two notes of caution here – I never establish these contacts with females (being a man, myself), and I rarely will rely on local help for medical issues.  The female part goes without saying – I’m happily married and any questionable contacts add to personal risk.  Medical advice, even from ‘professionals’ in many countries can be very risky, too.  So many local remedies or “Aunt Bibi’s herbal poultice” can add up to real hurt in a hurry.  For example, I had an upset stomach in the Philippines - nothing extremely serious, though very uncomfortable.  My sprite at dinner had come with a lot of ice that I didn’t take notice of (it was the first night in country).  Ice is made with local water, and local water is a no-no.  Working with my local co-worker, he put me in touch with their family’s “doctor”.  This doctor informed me that my troubles were not caused by the ice/water (which she said was very safe), but was caused by my eating both oily food with sweet food.  She was horrified that I had eaten both oily food (fried chicken) with sugary sprite, and had used salt in the same meal! That made me smile.  After all, I’m an American – most of our meals are based on these key ingredients.  Thanking the doctor for her sage wisdom, I found a pharmacy with Imodium AD and any international crisis was averted.

Much more could be said about emergency needs and tips during travel; these are a few ideas that have worked (and are currently working in the field) with me.  In closing I will disclose the greatest piece of gear I carry and that is of faith.  No hardware (gear) or software (knowledge) are as valuable as the Lord.  Trusting in His arm is the surest chance of safety and peace in this life and the next.

When not traveling overseas it is easy to keep my travel bag in my daily commuter vehicle to have on-hand while in-country.  It makes for good practice in using and relying on these items, and keeps my perishable stocks up-to-date.  Hopefully these ideas and experiences have given you food for thought.  My travels have been very rewarding, enriching, and gratefully very positive.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

James Wesley;
I came into the prepper movement (without being aware there was any such movement) by degrees, through religion, a few years ago.  As an old “Latin Mass” traditionalist Catholic, there is a tendency amongst our ilk to look with suspicion upon that which is trumpeted as “progressive” or “liberal” or even “modern.”  Not that we are against real progress in some area, or resist modernity for its own sake, but because a real Catholic ought to be a spiritual man, who rejects much of what the modern world tells him is “good,” since these same things so often hinder spiritual progress, family stability, and focus on salvation and the afterlife (e.g., Television, immoderate or impure internet usage, music which appeals to the base emotions rather than lifting the mind to God, etc).

It would probably not surprise you then to learn that, with this suspicious gaze fixed at the modern world, there are many amongst us who focus that suspicion on world politics, economic issues, and social trends.  One among us, Bishop Richard Williamson (of the Society of St. Pius X), being a broadminded pastor of souls, is charitable enough to comment upon some of these “not strictly or directly religious” matters, because he understands that nevertheless, these socio-political-economic matters will have a direct bearing upon the ability of us to work out their salvation.  And so he speaks frequently upon matters such as gold/silver as wealth preservation assets; gardening and food storage; 911 as an inside job (I.e., warning of the police state, and those who control this nation’s foreign policy; etc).

So one day after Mass, this guy I knew started talking to me about buying physical gold and silver, and from there I progressed to learn about food storage, guns/ammo, and the whole “shebang.”
Not too long ago, I read "Patriots" and recommended it to several people who also read it.  I will read it again soon.  The appeal of the book for me (other than that it served as a very practical checklist of things to consider in my own preparations) was that it was set in a good versus evil context.  The men and women who were the Patriots were good, moral people.  Their enemies were those who were evil-doers.  I took from the book that the “collapse” was portrayed as a chance to start this country over again, and an opportunity to remedy many things that fly in the face of Christian morality and Constitutional government (i.e., No collapse was not desired, but if it must come, the survivors would have to rebuild this country into……something).
About that time, I broadened my list of regularly visited survivalist internet sites.  What I saw from those that contained chat forums was heartily depressing: I was shocked to learn that most preppers had a hatred, contempt, or at best a heavy distrust of religion and God.  It made me wonder: If there is a collapse, what kind of country would these survivors rebuild?  Would such men really be of the caliber depicted as Patriots in the book?  How would they be any different than the biker gang depicted if things ever got tough?  Can Godless men really be good men (that is, Godlessness was tried in communist Russia and China, and also in Nazi Germany with less than flattering results). To me, that the atheists (if there really is any such thing; mostly they are those who believe in, but hate, God) have the ascendancy in the prepper movement is worrisome: Modern secular Godless society is disgusting enough in many respects.  What do you think a post-collapse society of atheists would degenerate into?  So the primary purpose of this article, then, is to exhort--even at the risk of minor OPSEC violations--fellow Christians to spread the prepper movement amongst themselves, to ensure that if we ever have to rebuild, there will be something better than Mad-Max to look forward to. 
Here are a couple things that I do, for what its worth, toward this end:

1) Network with people at Church: Generally, these people tend to be of a higher moral caliber than those who disregard Church (Yes, there are legions who fall short of attaining to the morals they profess, but at least they are in the fight; at least Christian morality is important to them, and as Archbishop Fulton Sheen once commented: If the Church had to be as perfect as you seem to want it, you wouldn’t be welcome to join it!).  Generally, they are people you already know something about, which will make your prospecting more productive.  To a higher degree, you will know who will be worth the time to talk to, and who won’t than if you spoke, for example, to people at work or school.

2)  When talking to those you know to be irreligious preppers, do not wear your religion on your sleeve (which is not to say you hide it either).  Try to impress them with the integrity of your character.  Most people--religious or not--respect this in people.  If someone respects you as a person, they have a better chance of being receptive, and seeking out, your opinions.  As St. Francis of Assisi used to say: “Preach always, and if necessary, use words.”

3) Write!  I would view myself as a hypocrite having such concerns, but never doing anything to try and turn the tide.  There are so many internet forums, magazines, newspapers, etc which are overrun with anti-Christian preppers that one would think prepping itself was somehow at odds with Christianity.  Instead of despairing, formulate your opinions and get them out there!  Do not let the Godless hordes out-maneuver you.  They are organized in a unified hatred of even the natural law (i.e., those things all men know to be right and wrong, until their consciences are indoctrinated into confusion).  If you want to live in a better post-collapse world, you need to be prepared and organized to put a plan into place, and this means heightening awareness through the various media outlets and personal communication.  You need to write.  The globalists, Masons, atheists, etc all have plans ready to go.  What do we have?  Little bunker ghettos and isolated retreats, but no plan as to how to remake a better society.  If collapse happened today, we would be snuffed out fairly easily.

I want to end with you all dwelling on the three preceding points.  If the Christian preppers do not increase in proportion, and coordinate and communicate with each other, what is the point of surviving a collapse?  The barbarism that follows will be much worse for them than dying in the initial conflagration (Have you ever seen "The Road”?).

Monday, June 13, 2011

Hi James,
We read SurvivalBlog often and stumbled across your article about the American Redoubt and found it very interesting, especially after watching the movie "Atlas Shrugged." I wasn't sure what it meant to us or what we could do with the info you provided. We decided to randomly search for jobs. We live in Arizona and have always wanted to move out of state, summers here are brutally hot. After reading your article about relocating we decided we really didn't want to be in Arizona when it all goes down, with the lack of water and you know the rest. We have tried to move to Texas and Colorado before but never found jobs, so it fell through.

We are now moving to Idaho in two weeks. We left it it up to God to provide the job, the house, and all the details. He has completely amazed us! In just three short weeks he has provided all of the these things and more! I won't take up to much more of your time with the details but I wanted to tell you that it started with you and the article that you wrote.

Thank you so much for risking it all and putting this stuff out there. We are reading and taking action. We are encouraging our friends and family who are also Christian believers to think about relocating as well. God knows our needs and the future and I can't help but think he's gathering us together for a good reason. Anyway, thanks for planting the seed and I continue to pray for you and your family.

God Bless, - Jessica

Monday, May 9, 2011

Many readers of SurvivalBlog are Christians. For us, the search for a desirable "vote with your feet" relocation locale includes a very important criteria: finding a good church home. I am of the opinion that finding a good church home is our Christian duty, and that it honors God. It is also an important factor in finding acceptance in a new community. By joining a church congregation that shares your world view, you can very quickly become part of a community, rather than being perceived as just "that new guy". In many locales, this shortens the time required for a high level of acceptance and inclusion as a part of "the we", by years.

In my experience in the western United States, Reformed churches tend to have a very high percentage of families that are both preppers and homeschoolers.

When I put forth my American Redoubt plan, a key aspect was that it would be primarily geared toward fellow Christians, Messianic Jews, and conservative Jews.

Here is a list of my own criteria, for you to consider, perhaps as your baseline. (Note: I come from a Reformed Baptist background, so your criteria may differ):

  1. Reliance upon and belief in the literal truth of the 66 books of the Old and New Testament as the Inspired Word of God.
  2. Sound doctrine, with Christ as the cornerstone, and preferably in accord with the Five Solas and the Five Points of Calvinism. (Or at least four of them.)
  3. A strong emphasis on the Gospel of Christ.
  4. Some interest in family preparedness. (Not a necessity, but a nice plus.)
  5. A commitment to Christian Charity.
  6. An " the World but not of the World" outlook.
  7. Biblical evangelism--the pastor, elders, and congregation all take The Great Commission literally. (Avoid churches with any racism or anti-Semitism.)
  8. Expository preaching. (Systematic exposition of scripture.)
  9. An emphasis on teaching and memorizing God's word with exhortation rather than "programs".
  10. A congregation where a substantial portion of the body home schools their children. (Not a necessity, but a nice plus.)
  11. Congregants with a conservative outlook, modest dress, humble attitudes, and avoidance of worldly trappings.
  12. An edifying church that gives glory to God.


Reformed Churches in The American Redoubt States:

My initial list has 23 Reformed churches that I've either attended or that have been recommended to me.

Note: The pastors of these churches will undoubtedly soon hear about the mention of their churches. I'd appreciate them sending me an e-mail mentioning whether or not they agree with the Redoubt concept, and with their recommendations for similar churches inside the five Redoubt States. Thanks!



Eastern Oregon

Eastern Washington



Conservative Jewish Synagogues and Congregations in The American Redoubt States:

The word "conservative" (שמרני -- shamrani) has different meanings to different Jewish people! (Political conservatism is not always synonymous with religious conservatism and a traditional moral code.)

Yorrie in Pennsyvania mentioned in a recent e-mail that conservative Jewish preppers should seek out congregations that are: "...Torah knowledgeable and observant = Orthodox religiously or similar. Which usually overlaps with conservative politically. The more traditional end of the Conservative Jewish movement did not accept the liberal swing [that began in the 1950s] and is called Traditional, Conservadox (Halfway between Conservative and Orthodox), or sometimes Masorti (Hebrew for Traditional).
There are Orthodox and Traditional Jews in Flathead County, Montana, and more formal congregations of the Chabad movement (a Torah Judaism movement with roots over 300 or more appropriately over 3,000 years).

Chabad congregations in the Redoubt area are in Bozeman, Montana, Jackson, Wyoming, and elsewhere in most major cities around the world."

Messianic Jewish Congregations in The American Redoubt States:

Many of these congregations tend to be small "home churches". Make inquiries, locally.


I'm sure that the foregoing will inspire a lot of correspondence. I don't have plans to create a nationwide directory of prepper-friendly churches and congregations. (That would go beyond the scope of my project.) But I would appreciate your feedback on any of the churches and congregations listed.

I would also appreciate recommendations on specific Jewish and Messianic Jewish congregations inside of the Redoubt region.

Dear JWR:

In response to the article "One Weeks Worth": First, I believe not all possible solutions were presented. It was clearly stated that the prepared man insisted that his wife always keep a half a tank of gas in her car, implying that he probably had a car too. They should have let them take one of their cars to get to the shelter. This would have been a viable and best scenario for a win-win situation.

Being helpless and being lazy are two separate issues and I believe the unprepared man was both lazy and slothful in not preparing.  There is a difference between being unable to help yourself and being unwilling to help yourself. He was clearly unwilling in my humble opinion!

Being a God fearing man and a Christian, I believe it is our responsibility to help those that are not able to help themselves.  Most people who are unable to help themselves have come to this situation through no fault of their own.  And many people in this situation would gladly want to be able to take care of themselves. But for those who are able to help themselves, I do believe that God wants us to take the first step towards self-sufficiency.

In addition, I believe the lessons from the parable of the Talents come to mind. Matthew 25:13-30 and a similar parable Luke 19:11-27. There are many scenarios in which this type of situation could be played out on a daily basis in which people cause their own problems due to slothfulness, lack of preparation and a million other scenarios.  

1). What if it’s not a friend that shows up but rather his gruff beer guzzling atheist co-worker whom he really doesn’t like shows up with his seven ragtag rowdy undisciplined kids? Is not a human being a human being? Where do we draw the line?  

2). I save for retirement, my friend doesn’t but rather is content to rely on social security payments for he and his wife’s income for their golden years. Shortly after retirement my friends wife dies and with her death so does her social security payments stop. My friend comes to me for help. Without my help on a regular monthly basis he is now forced to live in poverty and probably lose everything he has. Yes I saved, but I am far from wealthy or have what I would call abundance and my helping him in any worthwhile manner that would do him any good would severely hurt my wife and I financially in our own retirement. Am I ethically flawed to say I’m truly sorry I wish I could help but I just can’t? This could be a life and death situation if the man got so depressed the threat of suicide was real? I refer you to the parable of the talents.  

3). My friend and his wife bought a McMansion while my wife and I bought a modest house that we could afford. My friend was laid off and came to me one day explaining tearfully that they were six months behind on their mortgage and asked to borrow $40,000 or they and their three children would lose their house next week and be homeless. I have $80,000 in savings $40,000 would be half of what I have saved for my family, my children’s college education and my daughters wedding. I haven’t even started saving for retirement yet.  Do I tell my kids sorry no college and no wedding because my buddy needed the money instead.  This could also end up being a life and death situation.

So when we say “God helps those who help themselves”, we are not talking about the helpless.  We are talking about those who can help themselves but may have chosen not to. My friend is getting the keys to one of our cars with that half tank of gas!  - Just a Jarhead

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Some of the very earliest memories I have of wanting to be a good prepper come from stories about my Scottish grandmother.  They lived in Sunderland, England, during both World Wars, had eight living children, were poor as church mice, and fed anyone who was in need because of the bombing raids.  Apparently, her theory was to add more water to the soup pot and another cup of barley.  My Dad told me that she said that the sign of a good housewife is a well-stocked pantry, ready for all emergencies.  

As a child I read First Aid manuals for fun.  During my avid reading I stumbled across Robinson Crusoe and The Swiss Family Robinson. Even in such great books and movies like Cold Mountain and Cast Away and Cold Mountain and in the recent television shows like Lost and Jericho, there was always an almost magical way of escape:  a box washed up on the shore, a stash no one had discovered, bullets, food, skills, all just appeared out of thin air.  But … I am a realist, or at least try to be.  What if our lives as we now live them suddenly end (just think tsunami or tornadoes this year), and we can never return to the way things used to be?   In real emergencies, there is no magic wand, no National Guard to rescue us off the beach, no divine drop of supplies from the skies complete with chocolate, and no game we can play with rewards for winning.  That’s just not how real life works.  

I’ve developed the habit of asking:  “If XYZ happens and I am used to using ABC, what will I use when that needs replacing.”  Many are starting to think about batteries and such.  But, there are so many other areas that require thought.   This week after much difficulty, I purchased surplus military rectal thermometers.  Why?  All my new thermometers in the medicine cabinet require batteries that are now dead.  How can I take anyone’s temperature if they are ill and there is no operational thermometer?  And, just where do I find those little batteries?  Old-fashioned thermometers work well and last forever if cared for properly.  However, be prepared for a surprise – they are getting very hard to find.  

Okay, I’ve got a gas stove, a convertible grill, a gasoline camp stove, a butane cook stove, and propane.  What happens if I can’t obtain gas, kerosene, butane, etc.?  I know how to cook over an open campfire and how to make a “stove” outside which will burn whatever I have on hand for fuel.  I’ve even made a stove out of a big tin can using paper and twigs for fuel.  Great for the summer, but what if it’s raining?   We have gasoline lanterns, butane lanterns and candles running out of the ears.  Flashlights are in every room on every corner with batteries by the bucket.  No gas, no butane?  I can make candles and learned how to make a lamp using any kind of fuel from kerosene to olive oil to bacon grease.   

I make my own clothing, but what happens if a belt breaks on the machine?  Do I have a replacement?  Do I have a proper stash of fabric?  Do I have all the thread and supplies that I will need?  What about all that yarn I’m always using?  My grandmother unraveled old wool sweaters and re-knit them.  The newer yarns tend to mat and will probably not unravel well.  Sure I can go out and purchase a stash of underwear, socks, etc., but what happens when they wear out, or are lost, stolen, or destroyed?   How about your car, truck, tractor, or whatever?  Do you have all the oil, belts, hoses, lubes and antifreeze you will need for the next XX years?  Better yet, do you have a simple vehicle, which will allow you to maintain it, … and, do you have the tools necessary to repair it.  Are you prepared to make simple parts or have a friend who can make simple parts?   What happens if there is no electricity?  Your MIG or TIG welder, as nice as it is, will make a very large paperweight.  Using a diesel welder?  Do you have a supply of fuel?  Got welding [gasses] tanks?  Good!  But when they run out, you’d better know how to do crude forge welding the old fashioned way.  

Can you make a meal without your mix master?  Think about a good manual egg beater (they are surprisingly expensive), stainless steel whisks and wooden spoons.  Forget your food processor.  Get a mandolin slicer, a shredder, and several really good knives, which take up a great deal less space.  

You’ve got your Big Berkey.  Good!  Now, how much water will you need every day to just do the ordinary things like hand washing, tooth brushing, food preparation, cooking, bathing, flushing toilets?  Don’t know?  You will be surprised.  After a week of frozen pipes one winter, we found that for a family of four we needed a minimum of 15 gallons per day – and that was without proper baths or washing clothes.  Where will you get your water?  Yes, we have two storage barrels, etc., but they would empty very quickly if drained of 15 gallons per day.  Where is the closest water supply and how will I get it home?  Water is very heavy (8.345 pounds per gallon).  How many gallons can I carry?  Do I have something in which to transport – preferably something with wheels?   We’ve got two lawnmowers:  one which is a simple, old gas-driven one and the other is a push mower.  The trick with a push mower is to keep it adjusted and sharpened.  Do you know how adjust and sharpen, and do you have the tools?  Remember, shovels, hoes, knives and other tools also need sharpening from time to time.  

My Mom always saved her mayonnaise jars for canning and never had a problem.  Don’t do it!  The new jars are very thin, and the bottoms of the jars will shear off when they hit the boiling water.  Don’t ask how I know this or how many peaches were lost.  Do save your smaller jars with standard mouths for jams and jellies or for storage of other goods such as herbs, dehydrated foodstuffs.  Save depleting your good canning lids by using paraffin on preserves.  The paraffin wax can be saved and reused year after year.  The canning lids (unless you buy the new lifetime ones) are one-time-only.  How will you replace them when you run out?   Simple hygiene may become an acute problem.  What happens when the soap, shampoo, deodorant run out?  Do you know the substitutes for toothpaste?  What about those bulky storage items:  sanitary napkins and toilet paper?  Well, perhaps it’s time to make some out of old sheets, tee shirts, diapers, flannel, etc.  They can be soaked, boiled in vinegar water and reused for years.  As for toilet paper, I do prefer Charmin, but the outhouse on the farm came equipped with a Sears catalog.  The secret is taking a sheet and scrubbing it between your hands until it’s very soft.  Works well.  When the catalog is gone, then what?   And, how can I contain and dispose of all the waste we humans generate?  Just think what happened in the stadium in New Orleans after Katrina or garbage strikes in Toronto in 2009!  Help finally came, but reality says it probably will not come if SHTF as predicted.   Most folks today are tied to some sort of computer.  There are computers in everything!  What happens if everything electronic stops?  Cell phones – gone.  Computers – gone.  MapQuest – gone.  E-books – gone.  Then, what will we do?   If you do not have a library of real books on everything imaginable, the information will not be accessible to you.  If you do not have a hoard of quality maps, you will be trying to travel by Braille.   

And, if something disastrous happens, it will happen pretty much without warning.  You may not have time to “bug out”.  Your transportation could well be Shank’s Mare or a bike.  We’ve got an old VW Beetle – no electronics, great mileage, easy to maintain – which will be good almost anywhere we end up.  Are you prepared to stay where you are?  If not, get gone now because there is a very good chance you will be stuck where you are.  My niece was told to evacuate in front of a hurricane in South Carolina; they were stuck in an enormous traffic jam for hours and saw many just stuck because they were out of gas.  Don’t plan on leaving town with everyone else.   If we become lax, Proverbs 24:33-34 will rule:  “I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw:  A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest - and poverty (disaster) will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.”  

I could go on forever, but this is just to get you thinking in other areas.  If you need something on a regular basis, how will you supply it?  How will you replace it?  Begin to think about substitutes and then substitutes for the substitutes.  Remember, there is no hidden stash.  You may be totally on your own.  Take classes, read books, watch instructional videos.  Learning how to do things is just so much fun.  Then, use those “new” skills and tools regularly so they become part of the routine of your life.  Teach them to your children and grandchildren and anyone else who will listen.  Your efforts will not be wasted.  

Food for Thought:  Proverbs 6:6-8 “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!  It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” Luke:  14:28-32 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’  Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?  If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.”

Sunday, April 24, 2011

What is the big picture?  What is the point of it all - all the hours of prepping, all the hard work, researching and sacrifices?  To get to Heaven, where “no eye has seen, no ear heard what the Lord has prepared for the who loves him.” See that?! the Lord prepares too!  but He is preparing for our coming home.  Heaven is our true home and we are but pilgrims on our journey home.  He is planning a big home-coming party for us.  He is preparing a place for us and He wants us to be with him forever.  “And when I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” John 14:3-4

Jesus wants to be with us here and now, not only in heaven.  He wants us to find him and be with him in our day to day activities, our prepping, our frustrations and laughter, our joys and sorrows.  I for one can get very wrapped up in life, whether it be family problems, prepping, work, etc.  I can also fall prey to fear and I think many of us are like that.  Fear is a great danger.  The Lord said many many times, “do not be afraid.”  “Take courage.”  “Let not your hearts be troubled.”  He knows full well the human condition, the fallout of original sin yet he still encourages us not to fear.  How are we to do that in a practical way?  In our day to day life?  How can we spiritually prepare?  Here is one way that may help, a tool in your spiritual survival box. 

Some call it lectio divino or divine reading, meditation, reflection - call it what you will.  Whatever you call it, it is a way to get to know the Lord and draw closer to him.  Basically, you take a section from the Bible and chew it up in your mind and heart.  Let me give you an example.  Take the Gospel, the story of the woman at the well, John 4:5-42.  Before you begin to read, pray to the Holy Spirit and ask Him to enlighten you and be with you in the reading, to come to know Jesus better, to experience Him just as real as you experience your spouse, your children running around the house, your family and friends and people you bump into on the street.  Go into the reading asking, “what does this say about Jesus?"  Don’t we want to know more the one who saved us, redeemed us, died for us on the wood of the cross, rose from the dead, conquering death and sin, and is now preparing a place for us, with his heavenly Father?  The one who taught us to call God Father, and made us adopted sons and daughters of the Most High. 

Read it once, then read it again slowly.  Perhaps a particular sentence or phrase struck you, jumped out of the page, stood out.  Perhaps you raised your eyebrows at a particular something.  Listen to the still, small voice.  If nothing stands out, pick a sentence.  In the story of the woman at the well the sentence that stood out for me was when Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work."  Now we are going to pick that apart, continually asking, “what does this say about Jesus?”  In an objective way try to find out what Jesus’ words reveal about himself.  I don’t mean do we think it means, but something we can say is a fact about Jesus revealed by His Words.  The way to do this is to get to the nitty gritty of the meaning of words. Simply pick apart the sentence word by word.  Sounding technical, huh?  Give it a chance.  You will be amazed at what you can learn from doing this.  Part of this is about having a hunger for Him, and knowledge of his Word.   

So, in this sentence the first word we would look at is “food.”  A very popular word, rich with a lot of meaning. Ask, “what is food?”  Food is nourishment for the body.  You can even go to Webster’s dictionary where the definition we see is, “material consisting essentially of protein, carbohydrate, and fat used in the body of an organism to sustain growth, repair, and vital processes and to furnish energy” and “something that nourishes, sustains, or supplies".   Okay, good.  Now let’s move onto the next word.  “Do"  Do means to “bring to pass, to carry out", and “Will" means desire or wish, and request, command.

For brevity I am going to stop at those three words.  Just from that we can say that the will of Him who sent Jesus is that which nourishes, sustains and supplies Jesus. Jesus is fed, nourished, sustained by doing, carrying out, the desire of Him who sent him.  That will bring further questions.  Who sent him?  The sentence may or may not answer that question but we can fall back on our previous studies and say that His Father sent him.  You can ask, what is “father" but let’s stick to just this for now.  Keep going back to the question, “What does this say about Jesus?”  That his sustenance comes from doing his fathers request.  Doing his Father’s will is Jesus’ vital process.  It gives him energy.  Now if I want to be like Jesus I can say, “doing the fathers will sustains and gives me energy.  It invigorates me!  it isn’t a drag, it is a joy.  A joy to serve, a joy to work, to sow, to reap.  That is usually not what I think when I am breaking my back!  My thoughts say that work is a bore, a drag, drains the energy out of me.  But Jesus says otherwise.  Jesus sustains me, his love fills me up. it is the food I need.  If you really want to go deep you can go to the origin of the word, often the Latin , the root of the word.

I may ask, “how am I to live this word today?  This beautiful message I received from God.  1. Be joyful throughout the day and in my toils.  Yes, I may get tired, but remember that doing gods will gives me energy, this will invigorate me through out the day.  And that is what i will try to do, through out the day I will reflect back on what I learned in my morning reading (because that is the best time to do it - first things, when i am fresh,  when my mind clear and not bogged down with the activity and thoughts of the day) of the scripture.  I even write it down on a little piece of paper and carry it with me as a tangible and physical reminder.  When I go to the bathroom or have a moment alone I pull the paper out of my pocket and see written “Jesus sustains me, Jesus gives me energy, Jesus loves me, Jesus is with me” - whatever gem it is I learned/received that morning, can carry me through the day.  It takes discipline, but it is a habit that can quickly come especially because the reward is so good.  It is nice to be invigorated when tired! 

What you learn will sometimes console you, sometimes challenge you.  For example, In Matthew 11:29 when Jesus says that he is gentle, that may sound nice, until you want to curse the guy or gal who just cut you off!  “Jesus is gentle.  Jesus is gentle” becomes the constant prayer.  Or when I am a person who has a hard time speaking up for myself and the reading revealed to me that “Jesus is assertive,” and I want to follow in his footsteps!  I speak up.  If I don’t, then no biggie.  At the end of the day I can reflect on how I was faithful to the word.  Was I faithful to this word?  Maybe the answer is  “yes, I renewed my strength in your word,” or “well, I could’ve talked less and worked more today.”  Did I hope in God’s word?  Did I love?  That is the big picture too!  Charity - did I serve today? Because, “if I speak in the tongue of men and angels ...and have not love, I gain nothing...So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:1-13.  Jesus also says: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither rust nor moth consume and where  thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is there also your heart will be.”  Matthew 6:20.

What are we storing up in heaven?  Our retreat houses are full, our BOBs are ready, but what have we stored in our heavenly, eternal home, where our Father waits for us?  Works (Charity) are good, but we also need to know the Lord - know him like we know our relatives, co-workers, best friend.  Wouldn’t that be nice to say?  I know Jesus as my best friend.  After all he is.  He is always there, always strong, always forgiving, and always freeing us.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Recognizing both the fact that "all politics are local", and the international readership of SurvivalBlog, I naturally de-emphasize politics in my blog. However, a recent article got my blood boiling: Motorists illegally detained at Florida tolls - for using large bills! So, not only are Federal Reserve Notes not redeemable "on demand" for specie, but effectively they are now no longer " tender for all debts public and private." It is often hard to pinpoint a breaking point--the proverbial "straw that broke the camel's back"--as impetus for a paradigm shift, but reading that news article was that last straw for me. Consider my paradigm fully shifted. I'm now urging that folks Get Out of Dodge for political reasons--not just for the family preparedness issues that I've previously outlined. There comes a time, after a chain of abuses when good men must take action. We've reached that point, folks!

Voting With Our Feet

I concur that Pastor Chuck Baldwin was right when he "voted with his feet" and moved his family from Florida to Montana. Like Chuck Baldwin I believe that is time for freedom-loving Christians to relocate to something analogous to "Galt's Gulch" on a grand scale.

Ol' Remus of The Woodpile Report recently quoted an essay by economist Giordano Bruno, titled The Return Of Precious Metals And Sound Money. In it, Bruno stated: "If there is anything good to come out of our present predicament, it is that Americans, from average citizens to elected officials, are beginning to understand the reality of coming collapse and are preempting it with measures designed to insulate their communities from the inevitable firestorm. Eventually, as this movement escalates, certain states will come out ahead of the pack, gaining a kind of “safe haven” status, and attracting liberty minded people from around the country to the protective shelter of their borders."

Giordano Bruno identified a trend that has been developing informally for many years: A conscious retrenchment into safe haven states. I strongly recommend this amalgamation, and that it be formalized. I suggest calling it The American Redoubt. I further recommend Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, eastern Oregon, and eastern Washington for the réduit. Some might call it a conglomeration, but I like to call it an amalgamation, since that evokes silver. And it will be a Biblically-sound and Constitutionally-sound silver local currency that will give it unity.

On April 15, 2011, the first movie in the planned Atlas Shrugged trilogy was released. I predicted that this film would both re-energize the Tea Party movement in the U.S. and also spark serious discussion of establishing a real-life Galt's Gulch. (Or Gulches, plural.) I anticipate that this nascent movement, and the gulch itself will be a lot bigger than most other pundits anticipate. It could very well be a multi-state amalgamation like The American Redoubt, that I've advocated.

Why Not Some Adjoining States?

I'm sure that I'll get e-mail from folks, suggesting expanding the Redoubt concept to include Utah, the Dakotas, and Colorado. Let me preemptively state the following: Utah is a conservative state, but its desert climate makes it unsuitable to feed its current population, much less one swelled by in-migration. North and South Dakota have some promise, but I have my doubts about how defendable they would be if ever came down to fight. Plains and steppes are tanker country. It is no coincidence that the armies of the world usually choose plains for their maneuver areas, for large scale war games. Some might argue that I shouldn't have included eastern Oregon and eastern Washington. The population densities are suitably low, and the populace is overwhelmingly conservative, but the folks there are still at mercy of the more populous regions west of the Cascades, that dictate their state politics. But who is to say that their eastern counties won't someday secede? This same factor is even more pronounced in rural Colorado. Just a few large cities call the political shots, and they have been assimilated by ex-Californians. For this reason I reluctantly took Colorado off the list.

To Clarify: Religious, Not Racial Lines

I'm sure that this brief essay will generate plenty of hate mail, and people will brand me as a religious separatist. So be it. I am a separatist, but on religious lines, not racial ones. I have made it abundantly clear throughout the course of my writings that I am an anti-racist. Christians of all races are welcome to be my neighbors. I also welcome Orthodox Jews and Messianic Jews, because we share the same moral framework. In calamitous times, with a few exceptions, it will only be the God fearing that will continue to be law abiding. Choose your locale wisely. I can also forthrightly state that I have more in common with Orthodox Jews and Messianic Jews than I do with atheist Libertarians. I'm a white guy, but I have much more in common with black Baptists or Chinese Lutherans than I do with white Buddhists or white New Age crystal channelers.

I also expect that my use of the term Redoubt will inspire someone to accuse me of some sort of neo-Nazism. Sorry, but I use the term in honor of Switzerland. When I chose the name I was thinking of the Schweizer Alpenfestung (aka Réduit Suisse), rather than any reference to the Nazi's "National Redoubt" scheme at the end of World War II. I am strongly anti-totalitarian, and that includes all of its forms, including Nazism and Communism.

I'm inviting people with the same outlook to move to the Redoubt States, to effect a demographic solidification. We're already a majority here. I'd just like to see an even stronger majority.

One important point: I do not, nor have I ever advocated asking anyone already living here to leave, nor would I deny anyone's right to move here, regardless of their faith, (or lack thereof).

Closing ranks with people of the same faith has been done for centuries. It is often called cloistering. While imperfect, cloistering got some Catholics in Ireland through the Dark Ages with their skins intact and some precious manuscripts intact. (It is noteworthy that other copies of the same manuscripts were burned, elsewhere in Europe.) Designating some States as a Redoubt is nothing more than a logical defensive reaction to an approaching threat.

Are You With Us?

Read my Precepts page. If you aren't in agreement with most of those precepts, then I don't recommend that you relocate to the Redoubt--you probably won't fit in.

Your Checklist

I suggest that you follow these guidelines, as you prepare and then move to the American Redoubt:

  • Research geography, climate, and micro-climates very carefully.
  • Develop a home-based business.
  • Lighten the load. Keep the practical items but sell your junk and impractical items at a garage sale.
  • Bring your guns.
  • Sell your television.
  • Sell your jewelry and fancy wristwatch. Buy a Stihl chainsaw instead.
  • Choose your church home wisely, seeking sound doctrine, not "programs"
  • Leave your Big City expectations behind. There probably won't be cell phone coverage, high speed Internet, or Pilates.
  • Expect a long driving distances for work and shopping.
  • Sell your bric-a-brac and collectibles. What is more important? A large collection of Hummel figurines, or having a lot of good hand tools and Mason jars?
  • Switch to a practical wardrobe and "sensible shoes".
  • After your buy your land, convert the rest of your Dollar-denominated wealth into practical tangibles.
  • Begin homeschooling your children.
  • Sell your sports car and buy a reliable crew cab pickup.
  • Expect persecution and hardship. You will be despised for being true to your faith. (Just read 2 Timothy 3:1-12. and Matthew 5:10-14, and John 15:18-19.)
  • Encourage your kids to XBox and Wii less and read more.
  • Make a clean break by selling your house and any rental properties. You aren't coming back.
  • If you buy an existing house, get one with an extra bedroom or two. Some relatives may be joining you, unexpectedly.
  • Donate any older bulky furniture to the local charity store before you move.

After you move:

  • Don't try to change things to be like the suburb that you left behind. You are escaping all that!
  • Pitch in by joining the local Volunteer Fire Department (VFD), Ski Patrol, Sheriff's Posse, or EMT team.
  • Be a good neighbor.
  • Patronize the local farmer's market and craft shows.
  • Respect the property rights and the traditions of your neighbors.
  • Be active, politically, but use a pseudonym in letters to the editor an internet posts.
  • Use VPN tunneling, RSA encryption, firewalls, and anonymous remailers.
  • Support local businesses, and companies that are headquartered inside the Redoubt, not Wal-Mart.
  • Encourage like-minded family and friends to join you.
  • Stock up heavily on storage foods for lengthy power failures, or worse.
  • Do your banking locally, preferably with a credit union and/or a farm credit union.
  • Be active in local home school co-ops and service organizations.
  • Find and visit your local second-hand stores. Watch for useful, practical items that don't need electricity.
  • Conduct as much business as possible via barter or with precious metals.
  • Gradually acquire a home library that includes self-sufficiency books and classic books--history, biographies, and novels.
  • Join the local ham radio club. (Affiliated with the ARRL.)
  • Expect to be the subject of gossip. Live a righteous life so there won't be much to gossip about.
  • Loyally support your local church with tithes and support your local food bank.
  • Get used to eating venison, elk, moose, antelope, trout, and salmon.
  • Attend some farm auctions in your region to gather a good collection of useful hand tools and a treadle sewing machine.
  • Attend gun shows in your state. (This keeps money circulating in the state and keeps you legal, for private gun purchases.)
  • Choose your fights wisely. Don't tilt at windmills, but when you feel convicted, don't back down.

I am hopeful that it is in God's providential will to extend his covenantal blessings to the American Redoubt. And even if God has withdrawn his blessings from our nation as a whole, he will continue to provide for and to protect His remnant. Pray and meditate on Psalm 91, daily!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I have always been fascinated with history and might have become a history teacher if there had been any possibility of making substantial money at it.  Growing up in the 1950s and ‘1960s in rural Texas the lessons of the U.S. “Great Depression” were still fresh in the memories of my family, so our frequent family get gatherings produced many stories from those days, some of which were “not so good old days”. 

I want to relate some of this story for the benefit of those preparing for possible future, harder times:

There was no money.  For a few years before 1920 Grandpa Robert had been a successful cotton farmer and had put away his profits in the local First National Bank.  But after boll weevils hit Texas, the soil was depleted and cotton prices plunged, he had to move on to other pursuits.  My uncles often said the only time they ever saw Grandpa cry was when the bank went bust during the run of 1929.  He had been standing in a long line of farmers and townspeople for several hours before the announcement was made that the bank was finished.  On the other hand, I believe the bank still held a partially unpaid loan on his 87-acre farm which he and Grandma had bought in 1914 for $500.  LESSON: Be flexible, and don’t count on the bank.

It was actually Grandma who made the deal for the farm, as when they looked at it only a quarter of a mile from their rented farm, Grandpa said it was too expensive, and he would not borrow the additional money to buy it.  But Grandma knew the potential the land possessed.  So after Grandpa left for a long day in the fields, Grandma walked back to the owner’s house and cut the deal.   When Grandpa came home that night, he was surprised, but pleased at the same time.  LESSON: A woman’s intuition and business savvy is a valuable asset.

I am not sure how, but the bank did not foreclose on that farm during the lean years and Grandpa at least paid the taxes religiously.  Grandpa always said, “If you pick up all the pecans each year, you can at least pay your taxes.”  And if the money was not plentiful, what the family had went to pay their obligations. The bank president reportedly told him, “Robert, just do the best you can.”  And he did.  LESSON: Be careful to preserve and conserve every resource.

The family of 9, with 5 boys and 2 girls was flexible if anything.  When the railroad started buying coal from a small mining operation in the town 4 miles away, they found that the miners needed props and caps to keep the shafts open.  The woods in their bottomland became the source of materials for a small new industry: sturdy young willow trees, cut to order, became prop timbers, and flat sections of cottonwood trees, cut like cedar shakes were the caps.  These were delivered by wagon and mules and later with their used Model T dump truck. Unfortunate in the early 1930s the railroad converted from coal to oil fired locomotives and the prop and cap business ended.  LESSON: Find out what others need and provide it.  But don’t count on it lasting forever.

Grandpa always had two teams of mules as well a few working horses.  These were critical to plowing, cultivating, and harvesting as well as other pulling chores.  When the dirt road into town got wet, and the nearby clay hill was impossible for the automobiles to climb, the boys were always ready to give a pull with a team of mules, day or night.  LESSON: Animal power multiplies human power and sometimes is better than mechanical power.

Their bottomland held another treasure: sand and gravel.  Grandpa and his brother had a conveniently located sand pit, near a road and could dig sand and gravel by shovel.   They could deliver it to most any construction site in the county.  When one of my uncles wanted to go to college, Grandpa traded sand and gravel to the local college for tuition, instead of cash.  The college used the sand and gravel to build a rock wall around the football field so they could enforce admission fees at the games.  You see, Texas football has always been a popular sport and the college knew it was losing a lot of revenue by letting the fans stand outside and watch thru the wire fence.   LESSON: Think outside the box; when possible find ways to barter for what you really need.

Corn was always a staple crop for the family, the first among several important plantings.  Down in the fertile bottomland a harvest of the dried ears of corn were said to be able to fill a whole wagon with the produce from only one row of corn.  The corn was carefully stored away in the corn crib and used as needed all year long.  One of my uncles was often designated to periodically pull out some corn, shell it in the hand-cranked sheller, and then sack it up in two equal bags.  The bags were lashed together by rope and thrown over the rear of the mule.  Then he rode the mule into town to have the corn ground into meal at the store.  The miller kept a portion for his trouble, and my uncle rode the mule back home with the corn meal.  This corn became the basis for a week or more of meals of cornbread and beans, the main fare for the whole family.  Sweet corn could also be cooked, then cut off the cob and dehydrated in the sun in a day or two.  Stored completely dry in canning jars, when reconstituted and cooked it was a delicious treat.  LESSON:  Corn can keep you alive; it must be the first among survival grains.
Grandma must have been an efficiency genius.  She always had a pot of beans on the back of the stove.   Unlike many of their city cousins, the family seemed to always have enough food to get by.  The relatives from the bigger towns would come out to the farm on weekends to visit, eat and to stock up on the abundance.  LESSON: You can survive indefinitely on cornbread and beans, and if you have food, your relatives will want to visit often!

Christian charity was always a part of our family values, and it was particularly applicable to any extended family in need.  No passing stranger was refused a meal. And in a couple of instances young men in their teens with no family stayed on for a year or two, working, eating and sleeping like one of the brothers.  LESSON:  Alliances and charity are okay, but everybody must work.

| My uncles were good hunters always seeming to know which woods contained a few squirrels, an opossum or raccoon; additionally they always seemed to know when certain landowners were away from their property.  The family joke was that a boy would be given one cartridge for the single shot .22 caliber rifle, and the family would be disappointed if he came home with anything less than two squirrels.  My dad knew how to get a squirrel out of a hollow in a tree by climbing the tree and using a length of barbed wire stuck in the hole and rotated around and around.  The hunters from town always gave him a nickel or a dime for climbing the tree to help them get their squirrel.  LESSON:  Hunting is a skill that must be developed, but there are other ways to get game besides shooting it.

Canning was an important skill practiced anytime there was excess.  The garden produced large quantities of beans, peaches, and other fruits and vegetables.  The dug storm cellar just outside the back door was always packed with jars of fruit preserves, jellies, jams, and vegetables.  When the wild plums on a nearby place became ripe, the neighbors sent word that the joint harvest could begin.  Half gallon canning jars were helpful when feeding a family of 9 or 10.  Canning a batch of 50 or more jars (quart and half gallon) of each commodity was not uncommon. Used sparingly it could last until spring. LESSON: Use all food sources available and think big if you have a lot of mouths to feed.     

Things were different back then.  When times were hard they just “made do with what you had” and or did without.  Shoes were for school and church only.  When possible barefoot was the order of the day.  After shoes were well used, they were re-heeled and re-soled.  Family members handed down clothes and shoes to younger members as a matter of course.  Without electricity kerosene lanterns had to suffice.  Fire wood had to be kept split and dry.  Kindling was critical.  A smoke house was essential for preserving pork.  Butchering hogs was almost always in November and December.   Apple butter made in the fall can last all winter in 1 gallon crock jars.   And it tastes great on bread, toast, hot cakes, buckwheat cakes, etc.  Unlike regular flour pancakes, making buckwheat cakes requires a bit of yeast. But once it is started, more buckwheat flour can be added daily and the yeast will keep multiplying.   LESSON:  Make do and work hard.

Baths were for Saturday so you would be clean for church.  Outside showers were standard as long as the weather permitted.  Well water was for drinking so a swim in the nearby stock pond or down in the creek often substituted for a real bath.  Fishing was an important skill essential for providing supplements for much needed protein and vitamins.  An outhouse was standard for the family with both white and red corn cobs being carefully conserved to use in place of toilet paper.   LESSON:  Living well does not have to mean living in convenience and luxury. 

Nobody wants to return to the challenging times of a hundred years ago, but living the survival life is a challenge that can be mastered.  To be prepared we must study, practice and preserve the knowledge used by our predecessors and be willing to innovate, working and praying constantly. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

As a self-confessed budgeting fanatic, I’ve constrained my prepping budget on a monthly basis where I spend in one month what I made the previous month.  For example, I spend money in February that I earned in January, and so on.  Given the uncertain times, I never want to be “on the hook” with paying for things with “future money”. 

So confession out of the way, sometimes it’s hard to know where to start with your preparations.  I know all about the rule of 3, etc., but when it comes down to it, there really are a lot of choices.  Furthermore, when you begin to adopt a more preparedness-focused lifestyle, it can become overwhelming how many things need to be rotated on a regular basis.  Being married to a spreadsheet (and a wonderful, Godly woman), I’ve solved this problem by myself using some complex Excel functions that scan my “lists of lists” for a “Y” or “N” in the “Rotate” column, cross reference it with the “Rotation Days” column (this column contains the number of days that an item can sit before being rotated), and then adds to this information from the “Costs” column, which contains up-to-date information on the costs of the rotated item (e.g., 50 AA batteries).  This information is then compared against the dates in the “Date of Purchase” column, which is finally compared against “Today’s Date”.  All told, this allows me to open up the spreadsheet and see a forecast of items that need to be rotated, how much they cost, and when the rotation needs to occur.
But enough of that.  The title of this entry is “Forever Preps” because I enjoy making up words and also because all of this time and effort spent on rotating supplies really makes me appreciate the preps that I have that can be stored indefinitely, without ever really thinking about them again.  Please note that I’m not saying that these preps never need to be checked for damage, integrity, etc., I’m just saying that they last forever when stored and/or cared for properly.  This saves me a lot of headaches, and will probably be of great interest to like-minded preparedness readers. 

Furthermore, I’ll make the argument that one could even start preparing for the future with only Forever Preps, just because they are often the simplest and cheapest forms of preparedness available.  They are also a lot less intimidating to new preppers.  Think about this – is it easier to have a storage plan for gasoline, which has a very short shelf life, or salt, which is the quintessential Forever Prep?  Nothing is a substitute for a comprehensive plan, but this might get some people out of their desk chairs and into prep mode.

Here’s a list of my 15 favorite Forever Preps, and I’d love to hear from the readers of SurvivalBlog about their favorites as well.  Where appropriate, I’ve tried to include as much third party validation of the shelf life, and of the uses, of these Forever Preps.  Finally, of course, the assumption is made that all of these Forever Preps will be stored in the ubiquitous “cool, dry place”. 

Forever Prep #1: Salt
It’s ultra-cheap, doesn’t take up much space, and you can’t live without it.  In fact, entire wars have been fought over this now common mineral.  While most of us have enough salty foods, table salt, canned goods (tons of salt in there!) and other ways to get salt in a short-term emergency, unless you leave near a salt mine or ocean there’s no way to easily produce it by yourself if the Schumer hits the fan.  
I buy salt in solid block form (like a deer lick) and table salt in boxes (Kosher salt) or in other containers, such as the one pound canisters.  I transferred much of the table salt I’ve accumulated into glass mason jars so that moisture can’t get in and turn the granular salt into a solid block.   Some plain white rice stored in the jars will prevent this as well (and consequently will be preserved forever, although at questionable nutritive value).

By using 6 teaspoons of sugar, ½ teaspoon of salt, and 1 liter of water you can make your own emergency rehydration drink in the event you pick up a diarrhea-inducing disease or parasite.  This small step can save your life, even in a short-term disaster.  Dying of a lack of salt is not a pleasant way to go, and is sadly a grisly part of why all of those people are dying of cholera in Haiti.  Salt can also be used to sanitize instruments for surgery and a host of other applications.

For a fascinating list of about 70 other uses for common table salt, check out the Saltworks web site.  Everything from brightening your colors to removing tattoos is covered!

Forever Prep #2: Honey & Sugar
I put these two Forever Preps together because they are similarly awesome.  Everyone knows that 2500+ year old honey has been found in the Egyptian pyramids and it still flows and tastes great today.  While honey contains certain micronutrients and other retreats that sugar does not, they both are sweet, calorically-rich, and are certainly some of my favorite Forever Preps.  It’s very important to have sturdy containers for these for long term storage, such as metal 50 cal ammo boxes or the like, so that rodents don’t get into them.

What most people don’t know is that aside from being delicious, honey and sugar both have antibacterial properties can be safely used to treat wounds in emergency and everyday situations.  Emerging research is confirming what people around the world have known for a long time – sugar and honey are effective antimicrobials and can take on even the toughest antibiotic-resistant bugs.   I personally know of a doctor that worked in Haiti after the earthquake that instructed the Haitians to create a paste out of sugar, a resource plentiful in the otherwise impoverished country, to treat wounds as opposed to waiting for traditional antibiotics.  This was especially important in Haiti, where uninformed Haitians would often split a single prescription’s worth of antibiotics among family members, doing more harm than good. 

And in case you wanted more reasons to stock up on these Forever Preps, here’s a list of alternative uses for sugar, which covers everything from trapping cockroaches to removing paint residue. 

Forever Prep #3: “Dry” Bleach
This has often been covered by various sources on SurvivalBlog, but so-called “dry” bleach (pure Calcium Hypochlorite) lasts forever.  If you go a little crazy and buy two 25 lb boxes of it from a big box store, you can make a solution that can purify about 4 million gallons of water!  And, by the way, this Forever Prep is also very cheap (about $45-$50 for 25 pounds) and takes almost no storage space. 

You must store dry bleach extremely securely if you have even a remote risk of an unauthorized person gaining access to it.  A child or pet could be fatally poisoned by only a small amount of calcium hypochlorite.  You could also get sick if you don’t use it appropriately to purify water with the correct chemistry.  I store my containers in their original packaging in a metal locker, with high visibility instructions and warnings all over the inside of the locker and secured to the buckets themselves in waterproof plastic sleeves. JWR has posted the correct mixing ratios for use. (See the SurvivalBlog archives.)

And although the list is much shorter, here’s a list of 12 things you can do with bleach from Reader’s Digest.  It’s interesting to me that so far Salt, Sugar, and Bleach can all be used to prolong the life of cut flowers.  Not exactly a TEOTWAWKI priority, but hey, if the world doesn’t end at can at least be beautiful at your retreat location!

Forever Prep #4: Most Hand Tools
Unless you live in a very humid or salty environment, basic hand tools will last practically forever.  My favorite hand tools are made with all steel (e.g., Estwing) or steel and fiberglass construction.  Although often beautiful, I don’t care much for wooden handled tools simply because they are more prone to breakage.  I’m sure at least one reader will make the argument that a tool’s handle can be easily replaced if it’s broken, but remember that I don’t want any additional things to worry about, so the less prone to breakage the better.

Basic hand tools, such as a hammer, file, saw, screwdrivers, allen wrenches, crescent wrenches, pliers, and the like, can take a real beating and be useful in a myriad of ways before, during, and after a disaster.  They can help construct defensive or offensive structures, act as force multipliers in an attack, and even used in medical situations.  I know a missionary orthopedic surgeon in Africa that frequently puts a few of his all-steel woodworking tools through an autoclave sanitizer prior to operating, because in the end, a hammer is a hammer, whether you’re hammering bone or wood, and a good Estwing costs a lot less than a comparable “surgical” hammer. 

There’s really no reason not to have these crucial Forever Preps, because in addition to a practically indefinite shelf life, they are also useful in your everyday life for fixing things around the house.  I keep a big set at home, a set in the car, and a set at my retreat location.  The tools that are stored at my retreat are put away into watertight plastic storage containers and wiped down with a coating of oil before storage.  With this Forever Prep I have triple redundancy, and indefinite shelf-life. 

Forever Prep #5: Non-Perishable Skills
Yes, yes, I know.  Many skills, such as marksmanship, are perishable.  But some aren’t.  There’s a reason for the idiom, “it’s like riding a bike” – some skills really are persistent.  I’m pretty sure that now that I’ve been camping regularly for 20 years of my life, that I’ll retain some of those skills even if I don’t camp again.  I know how to sharpen a knife.  I know how to read.  I know how to cook.  I know how to dress in cold weather.  The list goes on and on.  So whenever I’m looking to acquire a new skill, either for prepping or leisure (usually both!), I try to opt for the non-perishable skills.

Learning how to garden, or learning how to care for the preps you already have (e.g., chainsaw sharpening) are likely skills that will stick with most of us for a very long time.  Even taking a basic Spanish course at a community college will leave you with some permanent knowledge.  And if you don’t know how to ride a bike, please do so, because a bike is still the most efficient form of transportation that humans have come up with yet. 

Forever Prep #6: Books
A natural follower of skills, books are another great resource that lasts forever when stored properly.  Certain books, such as first aid manuals or detailed atlases of an area, do need to be rotated every so often, but other books contain “non-perishable” knowledge.  I look at my books on country living, backwoods survival, chemistry, physics, and food preparation, and marvel about the generations of knowledge that are consolidated for me in a few square feet of space on my bookshelf. 

There is also a strong entertainment value in books, and something can be stored for all ages that will provide invaluable relief from the stress and boredom that can occur as part of a grid-down situation. 

My favorite book of all is the Good Book, which I keep extra copies of in waterproof containers for distribution in the event of an emergency.  That’s the Bread of Life I’m talking about people, and it’s ultimately far more important “charity” for your neighbors than food or water (although those are still important).  My best case scenario is being able to offer physical help in the form of food and the like, and at the same time be able to offer spiritual help in the form of a Bible.  In the words of someone wiser than me, “people have to know that you care before they can care what you know”.

Forever Prep #7: Ammo
With ammo prices going through the roof over the past decade, ammo is looking to be an excellent long-term investment for a variety of reasons.  First, my favorite, while it should be inspected periodically if it’s stored properly it can last forever.  Second, we all know that bullets will be in short supply and certainly not easily procurable in the event of a large scale disaster.  They are valuable for security, hunting, and possibly barter. 
Finally, with the continued War on Terror, whatever your political persuasions may be, the US is going to continue to need lots and lots of bullets.  Several sources (including this one from 2005) state that the US military uses over 250,000 rounds per bad guy killed in Afghanistan.  Again as of 2005, the US was using 1.8 billion rounds a year and forced to procure some ammo from our Israeli allies because domestic production can’t keep up. 
As unrest such as that presently raging in Egypt continue (which I believe will be the case), ammo will only become more and more expensive.   Buying it in quantity and buying it now is a safe bet for this vital Forever Prep.

Forever Prep #8: Gold and Silver
There are a lot of very smart people out there that can make the economic case for investing in physical gold and silver as part of your preparedness plan and general retirement portfolio.  I’m not going to do that.  I’ll just state that, unlike paper money or any other form of currency, Gold is valuable because it doesn’t tarnish, it doesn’t decompose, and it, well, lasts forever.  Silver may develop a patina over time but is otherwise also indestructible.  I don’t necessarily agree that physical Gold and Silver are the best way to go with your entire retirement budget, because, just like I like to have an edge on inflation, I also like to have a hedge on the economy doing well for the next 30 years.  But whatever your opinion on it, Gold and Silver are excellent Forever Preps because you can buy and store them little effort and their value ultimately won’t ever go away.

Forever Prep #9: Water Filters
I store water in plastic jugs with a preservative in them, but they still have to be rotated.  The great thing about purchasing a high quality water filter is that its ceramic filters are chemically inert, and unless physically damaged should last indefinitely until used.  I only have a backpacking water filter right now, but that combined with my stored water, dry bleach, and knowledge of local water sources makes me feel pretty good.  You know what else feels good?  Knowing that if I don’t touch that water filter for another 40 years it will still be in great, usable shape. 
As a caveat, please note that water filters with moving parts (e.g., most backpacking filters with a pumping action) may need to be inspected and/or lubed at some point.  My filter is gravity fed, just like the Big Berkey systems, so no moving parts = excellent Forever Prep. 

Forever Prep #10: Propane
I’m going to be totally honest here.  Most of my camping appliances are white gas (a.k.a. “Coleman Fuel”) which stores,  unopened, for about 10 years.  I’ll likely hang on to it because of its superior performance in cold weather, but I’m also looking to expand my arsenal with a host of propane devices. 
Why?  Unlike white gas, propane lasts virtually forever, and there are many indications that the price of propane is set to skyrocket with the coming economic recovery (as will all petroleum-based fuels).  Another reason the price will go up soon is because of decreasing overall demand.  Normally when demand decreases so do the prices, but I don’t think this will be the case for propane.  Propane requires some infrastructure for delivery and storage, so if demand drops sharply it may become harder and harder to procure.  It’s also an environmentally-friendly fuel, and a large number of devices can be powered by propane, including generators, heaters, golf carts, and even leaf blowers!  How great will it be to get a large propane tank (or two!) and have them stored away as a Forever Prep. 

Forever Prep #11: Baking Soda
Here’s another overlooked common household item that is useful for a ton of different things, is very cheap, and stores forever.  Baking soda’s most obvious uses to a prepper are, in my opinion:

  • Making baking powder (baking powder has a limited shelf life once mixed)
  • Fire extinguisher for grease fires or any fire, really
  • Cleaning
  • Toothpaste (works great and stores forever, unlike toothpaste!)
  • Degreasing
  • Deodorizing (nice for obvious reasons but could also have tactical value; smelly people make poor ambushers)
  • Scouring
  • Cleaning waste water pipes (flush 4 tablespoons down with hot water to clean pipes)
  • Relieving stinging and swelling from insect bites and/or Poison Ivy
  • Management of heartburn and acid reflux (1/2 teaspoon or more in ½ a glass of water)
  • When added to water baking soda will make beans softer and more digestible
  • Add to boiling water when scalding (de-feathering) a chicken to make the process easier
  • Trade or barter

Again, many extremely valuable uses from the humble baking soda.  The trick with it is to store it in an airtight container that is NOT vapor-permeable.  Glass Mason jars with the lids dipped in wax work well for this.  All plastics are at least somewhat permeable and can result in your baking soda taking on the flavor of the container or worse, other smells around the container.  I store mine in glass mason jars with the lids dipped in wax, and then I place 12-16 jars at a time into old 20mm shell cases I buy from a local GI Store.  The inside of the case I line with foam to prevent breakage. 

Forever Prep #12: Vinegar
Wow, if you thought the other Forever Preps were versatile, vinegar should also be on your list!  Vinegar for long term storage does best in glass containers, although plastic can be used as long as the container retains is original factory seal.  It can be used for cooking, preserving food, relieving sunburn, doing laundry, cleaning and more!  To list them all here would take too long, so here is a link to a list of 131 ways to use Vinegar.  Vinegar is also cheap, readily available, and fairly easy to store.

Forever Prep #13: Paraffin Candles
Most people will say that candles have an indefinite shelf life.  Well, I can tell you that assertion is patently false.  Candles have an indefinite shelf life if stored in a cool, dry place, but if they aren’t you are taking a huge gamble with your preps.  Allow me to share two examples from my own life. 
I used to have a 36 hour, wax-based “survival” candle in the back of my car with an emergency kit.  After two or three years had gone by, I went to use the candle on a camping trip and discovered that not only had the candle melted, but its contents had actually mostly evaporated and all that was left was a waxy mess and a few stumps of a wick!  Additionally, my wife and I stored candles (emergency and decorative) in a storage facility that wasn’t climate controlled.  After a few months we moved and went to retrieve them and, guess what?  The candles had all melted on to one another and ruined the box they were in.  Not exactly Forever Prep material!

After some research, I discovered the miracle of Liquid Paraffin.  It’s wax in its liquid state, so it’s already melted and placed into airtight containers so there’s no risk of it evaporating away.  You can buy it in bulk from many places online.  However, the cheapest avenue I have found is to buy bulk boxes of liquid paraffin candles from restaurant supply stores.  It’s the same candle featured in “survival” stores, but much cheaper to buy by the case.  In fact, a case of 36, 50-hour candles (a combined 1,800 hours of burn time!) can often be had for about $70-$90. 

Just do a web search for “restaurant liquid paraffin candles” and you’ll end up with a host of wholesale suppliers.  My favorite kinds have the built-in extinguisher that will snuff out the flame if the candle tips over.  Bonus tip: place a lit candle in a one quart mason jar with sand at the bottom to have a virtually windproof source of light.  If you want to get really fancy, you can include a lid with holes punched in it and use a piece of piano wire or clothes hanger as a handle.

Forever Prep #14: Paper Products (toilet paper, Ladies' Stuff, etc.)
Easy to store (keep it dry!), cheap to buy, and completely innocuous to nosy neighbors that might find it in your basement, paper products are excellent Forever Prep material.  These are everyday items that will be impossible to find once your local store runs out of them, and there aren’t too many ready “natural” replacements for quilted toilet paper or disposable lady products.  They are also useful for a number of reasons.  For instance, Maxi-pads are usually sterile (or close enough) and can be used effectively as emergency first-aid bandages to stop heavy bleeding.  Tampons actually work really well, too, especially if you bundle several of them together.  Paper towels can be used for cleaning up messes, first aid, filtering sediment from water, fire starting, personal hygiene, makeshift coffee filters, home-made baby wipes, a skinning aid (grab slippery chicken skin with a paper towel and it’s much easier to hold on to!), a desiccant for storing herbs (wrap herbs in dry paper towels and place in the sun), etc., etc., etc.  You’ll be amazed at what you use them for in an emergency.  Paper products also make great insulators in a pinch – that’s why homeless folks are often seen with newspapers stuffed into their clothes, in order to trap more hot air around their bodies.
Here’s a list of what I store and why:

  • Toilet Paper.  Buy it on sale at a big box store.  Ever used leaves or bark?  Not fun.
  • Paper towels.  See above for more uses than you can shake a stick at.
  • Feminine hygiene products.  You have to be careful when storing the pads that have the moisture-absorbing gel in them, because moisture can seep in from the air over time, rendering them useless.  Just use the bucket method of storage, just like you would for wheat or other food stuffs.  A 5 gallon bucket with a gamma seal lid, and a thick Mylar bag inside with an oxygen absorber will make those types of pads last virtually forever.
  • Disposable baby diapers.  A big case for charity or use by my neighbors.  These also have the desiccant gel in them, so must be stored appropriately.  Remember that babies use the bathroom upwards of 10 times a day, and if you’re having an emergency that means that is a TON of washing that you won’t want to have to do.  If your prepping plans must include the care of an aging relative, buying the adult diapers en masse may also be a good idea, just in case.
  • Picnic Supplies.  Not totally paper, I know, but a good supply of paper plates, paper bowls, paper cups, and plastic utensils are essential for a short- to medium-term emergency, especially one that requires the quarantine of an infected individual.  Sure you’ll have your Forever Prep “dry” bleach to sanitize things, but wouldn’t it just be much easier to use disposables that can be incinerated or put into thick trash bags instead?  This means less contact with potential pathogens, less precious water required for cleaning and rinsing, and less time spent on cleaning, so you can attend to more important needs.

Forever Prep #15: Jesus
Talk about non-perishable!  Everlasting life?  By definition the most important Forever Prep you can get.  It’s free, lasts forever, requires no storage space, is communal, and is guaranteed to make surviving any disaster with your sanity intact a much rosier prospect.  Jesus never said that he came to make our lives easier, more comfortable, or cheaper.  He came to give us Life, and Life to the full!  What difference does it make if you survive the end of the world as we know it on earth, but haven’t prepped to meet your maker at the real and certain TEOTWAWKI – the end of your earthly existence?  Enough said.

So there you have it, my list of 15 Forever Preps.  Things you can get today that will last until you need them, no questions asked.  I hope this helps someone out there, and can spur some more ideas.   Let me know if you have some Forever Preps yourself – I’ll gladly add them to my list of lists, with a big “N” in the “Rotate” column!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Regarding the recent piece on eschatology and prepper Christian world views: We must suffer.

I'm not sure which is correct; post-trib, pre-trib, mid-trib, post-mil, whatever. But I know this: Some hold to pre-trib rapture simply because of an assumption that God won't let His children suffer. But that turns a blind eye to the unmentionable suffering of Christians in the world today.

The Bible tells us to expect suffering: "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom." (Acts 14:22) Peter said, "Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you" (1 Peter 4:12). In other words it is not strange; it is to be expected. And Paul said (in 2 Timothy 3:12), "Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted."

Two reasons to prepare anyway Two reasons it's not foolish to prepare even if you are pre-trib: 1.) You might be mistaken on your interpretation of the Bible. Do not arrogantly assume you are correct about a topic for which there is considerable debate amongst intelligent, godly scholars (applies to post-trib as well). Such hubris will only harm people. I'm hoping the rapture happens before the tribulation and living as though it won't. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. 2.) These might not be the last days. Don't assume that simply because many nations are headed for great difficulty that Christ is definitely coming. You'd have thought Jesus was coming any second during the last days of the Great Depression when the Dust Bowl consumed your food and Hitler was rising to power.

There are many reasons to think these days are indeed the last days. I'm 75% sure we're in them. It's the other 25% which bothers me: History is littered with great upheavals and all along they were sure it was the time to see Jesus. Even in Paul's day they were saying it was the last days (2 Thessalonians 2).

Yet I'm 100% sure America will suffer great poverty within my lifetime -- unless we have a mighty miracle. When we see winter coming we should prepare: "Four things on earth are small, but they are exceedingly wise: the ants are a people not strong, yet they provide their food in the summer..." (Proverbs 30:24,25 ESV)

Physically and spiritually James Rawles at is doing a great job teaching us how to physically prepare. One way to spiritually prepare is to start with many of the incredibly rich, free resources by Dr. John Piper. Start with the short videos, then listen to or read the other messages. Short video: America's Ugly Exported "Gospel" Short video: Why Did the Bridge Collapse? Where Is God? (My favorite!) The Suffering of Christ and the Sovereignty of God , Don't Waste Your Cancer,   Doing Missions When Dying Is Gain

Book that's now free thanks to generosity: Suffering and the Sovereignty of God. (Both it and its study guide are free.).

More goodies: Essential Resources

The Bible can be deeply soul-satisfying in times of suffering, and I'm thankful for Dr. Piper's work in exposing these truths.

Meditate on your Bible Much of the Bible is written for hard times, and up until now we've been living in Disney World so it hasn't made as much sense. Half of the Psalms will pop off the page once things really start rolling. The writings surrounding the Babylonian capture are particularly applicable.

I suggest you start right now by reading Matthew 6:19-34 and Habakkuk 3:17-19 out loud. It seems to have a stronger effect when you read it out loud.

Also see Luke 12, the Psalms and Lamentations.

Memorize your Bible -- with some excellent help I'm really bad at memorizing Scripture, but I've got some crutches which work wonders. David said, "I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." (Psalm 119:11) (Yes, I wrote that from memory.) One day I was worried about the bee colony collapse disorder when Habakkuk 3:17-19 immediately popped into my head. I didn't have to think, "What's that verse about food?" It just immediately came to mind. The Spirit kept me from sinning by reminding me of a memorized passage.

I've got the "Hide the Word" CD series because I'm really bad at memorization. (Free samples here.) They definitely work, and are worth their weight in gold. You can also get Seeds Family Worship, the Glory Revealed CDs, and this free scripture memorization series. Also see Amazon's and Google Shopping's offerings. Worth their weight in gold!

Trust God. Oh that more Christians would trust God in hard times! He suffered more than any of us so He understands suffering (Hebrews 4:15).

He knows what we need before we ask (Matthew 6:8). He promised that if we seek first the Kingdom that food and clothing will be provided (Luke 12). George Mueller proved this with over 50,000 specific answers to prayer for specific needs.

One day He will deliver us from all suffering: "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." (Revelation 21:4 ESV) Amen! Come quickly Lord Jesus.

In summary, it's wise to prepare for both physical and spiritual suffering, whether you are pre-trib or post-trib. Even if nothing happens you'll still have goods left over to give to the needy. - C.D.V.

Dear B.H. in  North Central Idaho,
Your letter was well thought out and delivered and I agree with some of the statements you made.  However, I struggled with your claims on the eschatology of some of the religions you mentioned such as Mormons and Seventh Day Adventists.  Having many close friends in both those churches and knowing what they believe, I'm sorry sir, but they don't meet the criteria you assigned to them.  There are far more believers outside of those churches, and considered more mainstream, that believe in the Rapture.  The last time I spoke to my Mormon and Seventh Day Adventist friends they were preparing for a long hard ride through the Tribulation or any other catastrophe that might befall us.  Many of them are doctors, medics, teachers, and community volunteers who are out there helping their fellow man just as you suggest and they are doing it now--not waiting for a TEOTWAWKI.  I know because I am in the emergency medical field and a community volunteer and that is where I met many of them.  Might I suggest that rather than focusing on our differences we might instead focus on what we do have in common so that we might work together for the good.  "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and  a house divided against a house falls. " - Luke 11:17. Respectfully,- J.H. in Washington State


Mr. Rawles,
Regarding the recent article on SurvivalBlog entitled "How Your World View and Preparedness Mindset are Influenced by Your Eschatology":

Some readers may be interested to know that all three books recommended by B.H. are available (digitally) for free on Dr. Gary North's Freebooks page.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A few weeks back a young reader asked a question about preparedness and the coming tribulation.  I was surprised that you left out a third option in your response.  I tried to write a quick note but soon realized a comprehensive response or article was warranted.  So here it is.

Since the Second Great Awakening (a time of spiritual revival and activity) in the 1830s the Christian Church has embraced the theology of Pessimism.  This time of revival saw a clear shift in end times belief or eschatology.  The traditional and historical view of the Church was of Dominion Theology which is quickly making a strong return today through the Reformed Christian Movement.  Let's explore both thoroughly so we can understand how one's position of eschatology will ultimately define their world view and preparedness mindset.

In the 1830s, the spiritual culture in America was in upheaval and change.  Concurrently we saw the rejection of Dominion Theology and the movement to Theology of Pessimism.  Likewise, we saw the emergence of the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints (LDS), Jehovah's Witnesses (JW) and Seventh Day Adventist Church (SDA).  Coincidentally, all four now rely heavily upon Biblical speculation, new or post-Biblical prophecy and focus heavily on end times topics for weekly liturgy or rely heavily on apocalyptic content for their church identity.  We also saw the introduction of humanism at  the pulpit and in worship explaining today's flowery and repetitiously-hypnotic songs of worship which lead people to see Jesus as a “Therapist in the Sky” (self-focused worship like Two Footprints in the Sand” rather than the Conquering King of everything.)  Dominion Theology uses Psalms for it's majority of worship music.  The idea being that the Psalms are songs written by a warrior about God's strong nature and Dominion of creation.  Plus, singing God's own words back to Him in worship seems to make a lot of sense.

The commonality between the modern mainstream church, LDS, JW and SDA is the prophetic interpretation.  Its highly speculative without using standard rules of hermeneutics, historical imperative or Biblical interpretation (using the Bible to interpret the Bible).  They all include some form of Theology of Pessimism.  Why do I call it the Theology of Pessimism?  Because that is exactly what happens when you embrace that eschatology.  Let me explain.  If I were a youth football coach and I walked into the locker room and yelled at the kids every day telling them...”your nothing, you stink, you will never be a winner, your going to go out and get your butt kicked every day, we may win the game at the very end but your going to lose the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th quarters.”  What kind of team do you think I would field?  Exactly.  A team with the understanding that no matter what it does it will lose, be irrelevant, be persecuted and tried and eventually need a “life raft” called the rapture to whisk them away to safety before the real bad stuff happens.  Wow!  What a message.  Come on people-come join the losing team.  Christ died for us but let's be a bunch of loser's and be Satan's doormat together! 

The Pessimism plays out in our world view and culture.  This is the exact reason the Christian Church of today is vastly impotent and useless in affecting our culture for Christ and has no cause for impacting future generations.  Why would someone be interested in a two to three generational plan of action when they continually are looking to the sky for an exit.  The modern church has a lack of generational  purpose and is waiting for the “Mother ship” to come take her away so why bother with high standards or pursuits in great education, pursuit of cultural victory by making good wholesome movies and music, art, government, a clear lack of generational mindset of positive change in our communities and culture for the long-term—all missing because of pessimism.

Furthermore, this subsequently manifests itself in our prepping.  We now focus inwardly on individual and family prepping at the expense of the world around us.  We have recently experienced this mindset first hand where the local Christian community is so inwardly focused in can soon be described as incestuous or inbred in its nature with a refusal to anchor or be a pillar of Christian action in the daily culture of our community.

Do you want to just survive or thrive?  Do you want to see hard or troubled times as the end of times or the opportunity to move the gospel forward and advance our Christian culture back to where it was in the days of old?  Are you prepping to be a self-sufficient island, hoping to outlast the looter carnage or are you planning with other preppers to be ready for commerce and trade?  To profit from the coming hard times by creating wealth and providing an avenue for a large hungry labor pool to create stability and peace or the opposite?

I pointedly say to Mr. Rawles that he has been a great leader in waking people up to the need to prepare but there seems to be a general focus upon isolation rather than a direct plan within a small town infrastructure.  My belief is to be in the small town setting, just outside or close enough for walking.  This way one can be active with the town marshal, help organize the churches, organize and improve farmer's market, create relationships and networks that will be ready to weather the storm.  Fact—we will need other people, that stinks.  Guess what?  We sin and they sin and all the other mess that goes with it is exactly where God wants us.  All the folks who are removed by distance and geography will soon regret it when fuel is too expensive or valuable to burn just so they can get to a market to get something they need.  Their well-planned retreat becomes an island of exile from community, commerce and fellowship.

Therefore, my position is that Dominion Theology is the organic world view of Christianity and the most appropriate world view for prepping.  Dominion Theology states that Christ is King, has dominion over all of creation, He is sitting on the throne and will not get up until His enemies are made His footstool (complete cultural and political dominion).  It also believes that the Book of Revelation means what it says when it was written for the early church (tribulation warning for churches of Asia minor in regards to Nero) and that prophecy was fulfilled and closed in A.D. 70 with the great harlot being destroyed and the Jewish temple de-constructed in Jerusalem (just as Jesus said).  We are now in the Church Age or millennium and that the “1,000 years” was not literal but symbolic of many generations.

Instead of trying to convince you with a lengthy dissertation, I will just recommend three books and throw out a clear challenge to do some study. The first book is to gain clear understanding of Biblical language and themes starting with Creation and ending with Revelation.  David Chilton's “Paradise Restored: A Biblical Theology of Dominion” does just that.  Next is to gain a clear understanding of Revelation and how Biblical themes, Jewish symbolism, worship themes and New Testament references lead us into a clear understanding of Revelation and not a disjointed and far-fetched speculation or fiction of end times.  I believe that David Chilton scored a scholarly victory with “The Days of Vengeance: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation.”

The final and most difficult to find book is Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry's  “He Shall Have Dominion: A Postmillennial Eschatology (Third Edition: Revised & Expanded) ”--which has yet to be scholarly answered by the theological scholars of today.  The likes of Dallas Theological Seminary and others have been convincingly silent and can't or won't respond to the clear and definitive work by Gentry.  The Christian church made a left turn in the 1830s and its time to get back on track.  So the challenge is to read these and not be convinced of the falsity of Dispensational Pre-millennialism. 

In closing, why is this important to prepping?  It determines your world view and your prepping focus.  I say it is a mistake to “hunker down” in your remote retreat for several reasons.  Being close (walking distance) to a small town allows one to be influential in town politics, community activity and supportive of local commerce.  Also, it allows Christian fellowship in mature and formal settings. Specifically, when things go to Schumer and fuel is over $10/gallon you've just removed yourself from influence and positive activity if you live a long way out.

Do you have a plan to help organize local churches to feed, clothe, commune and minister to locals who will be looking for leadership?  Have you segregated yourself from them hoping they feed upon each other, thus limiting your charity to the the scarecrows that crawl by so you only have to give “until it hurts”?  In the Book of Acts the commitment was clear and complete. Do we consider charity limited to materials goods or does it include your time and energy?  As Christians, do we deny the employment of fellowship as charity just because we risk bodily harm being away from the retreat?  "Feed the poor" Jesus says. but modern survivalism says each to their own with a little for charity if they can make it past the killing time.  I say that is the wrong approach.

Yes, beans, bullets and Band-Aids for your family.  But a plan to be ready in the small town you influence will keep the hordes away from your property, maximize efficiency of charity, allow for pooling of resources and labor and set the stage for commerce, profit and thriving.  Rothschild said,  “When there is blood in the streets—buy!”  The clear message is to be ready for opportunity and use it for generational victory and not a temporary patch until the mother ship arrives.  Christianity isn't “Calgon take me away”- (an old soap commercial) but is “Freedom!”- (Mel Gibson from Braveheart)

Gloria Deo, - B.H. in North Central Idaho

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I just wanted to write you about an experience I had recently. First of all I own a very dog eared copy of your novel "Patriots" that was given to me by someone who I look up to a lot. This individual was the first person to expose me to the "bug out" bag concept. As a result I've always been a preparedness type of girl. In high school and college I always kept provisions for myself wherever went and as a result I've been able to rise to the occasion many times when things got tough.

As a long distance commuter I try to ensure I have things in my car for whatever may happen whether it is an unexpected overnight stay or just a band-aid. My daily drive to work is 85 miles from the small town in the country I reside in to one of the nearest big cities where I work. On January 31st the first predictions were ice storm with sleet and snow accumulations. Soon after they started calling for 3/4" ice and 10-15 inches of snow by the end of the day the doomsayers were all out declaring it would be a bad one. I had to work Monday and Tuesday so Monday I finished out my shift and went over to a friends house so I wouldn't have to drive up in a storm. Tuesday I came in an hour early. At 11 am my boss told me to get done and go home as soon as possible. 15 minutes later I was out the door. I fueled up and posted to Facebook my intentions and estimated time of completion. Before I had even left the city limits I had to stop and fix my windshield wipers that weren't wiping. Common sense may dictate to me that I needed to stay put another night, but my heart was telling me I needed to be home with my loved one. The pace started out at 40 miles per hour but by the time I hit I-44 things were getting worse, my average speed was about 15-25 mph and it took me from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to make it from mile marker 69 to mile marker 11 which was the exit I needed to head south towards home. I got off at the exit and realized that all the traffic was stuck, after a chat with a truck driver I learned that two trucks ahead were immobile, side by side in a snow drift. We were about a mile and a half from the nearest truck stop. I could have sat and idled for a few hours but the forecast called for temperatures in the negative after dark. So at that point I knew I had to make a decision, to gamble on staying or to try to walk through the blizzard and get to shelter before dark.

I decided to walk. Thankfully, I had my bug out bag with me and packed plenty of warm clothes in my overnight bag. Unfortunately I didn't have anything waterproof and I didn't have any snow boots. I chose between running shoes that had ventilation which would allow moisture to get in or my oxford work shoes that were made of leather and would insulate my feet better. I chose the oxfords. The next issue was energy, I needed a facility but I also needed to keep my energy up. I didn't have enough water, in fact I was only able to refill my Starbucks tea cup partway, but it sufficed. I got rid of the stuff that needed cooking. I also had dates. I read in the past that Medjool dates are really high in energy and nutrition. Those I did grab. I was ready to go. I wore jeans with a loose pair of cotton pajama pants over the top. on my upper body I wore a turtleneck, a vest and my Carhart sweatshirt over everything. On my hands I had cheap dollar gloves with leather work gloves over the top of those. On my head was a thin microfleece mask and my hood.

I started walking. The snow was difficult to navigate and ranged from a few inches to a few feet at times. I made over I-44 on the overpass and then decided to walk through the woods and in essence make a short cut. This is where things got really dangerous. I climbed a snowy embankment and started going through the woods but the farther I went the deeper the snow and the thicker the brush. Many hikers die every year because they take what appears to be the shortcut and then run down their energy too much and die of exposure. So I started backtracking out to the interstate. Only then did I realize that I didn't navigate properly to go in a straight line and I probably would have wandered in circles before I passed out from exhaustion. I was becoming quite fatigued by then and started to wonder if I was going to run out of steam from my own stupidity. Back on the interstate I followed it towards the exit but I was pouring sweat and fatigue was setting in.

Several cars went past before a tow truck stopped and offered me a ride. It turned out that they were headed to the truck stop and then south towards the area I lived in. Would I have passed out from exhaustion or made it to the truck stop? That is a question I will never know the answer to but a lesson learned about shortcuts! Little did I know that God had an even bigger test of my faith and resolve ahead of me. I learned that we would be stopping at the truck stop to pick up a key for another tow truck that was stuck. So we made our way south to where the truck was stuck. But as we started getting off onto this single lane highway the roads went from bad to worse. These men had a job to do and they were very determined to do it. We might have even succeeded had our way not been blocked by an 18-wheeler that was stuck. Soon after that we became stuck for the first time trying to find an alternate route. Four more times after that we got stuck in drifts and ditches trying to turn around the large flat bed F650 tow truck and it took us the next three hours to get out of the mess we got ourselves into. So we put all our faith in God and started praying.

About the time I finally admitted to myself that I was scared a tractor showed up and towed us back out to the highway. The rest from there is now history as I made it home and gave the tow guys each a dry new pair of socks to replace their cold wet ones. They wouldn't accept any monetary compensation. And they truly were sent by God to save me from what could have been a very dangerous or even deadly situation.

In reflection back on my situation I learned some important lessons about survival. Things would have been a lot safer and easier with hiking boots and some Carhart coveralls. Never try to go through brush in deep snow if you down have to, its too easy to sap your energy and pass out. The left over tea bag and the water I kept putting in there helped me stay hydrated. The medjool dates were easy to eat and kept my energy up throughout those long frustrating hours of waiting and worrying.

Would I attempt the same thing again for the same reasons? Probably. Next time, however, I will be even more prepared than the last. The last thing is my faith in God. I prayed hard, and it was that faith that kept my courage up and gave me the hope. I knew in my heart that it wasn't my time to die yet, this was simply "trial and tribulation". We can never leave God out of any situation that we get into. The driver of that tow truck was right there beside me praying for all he was worth as we were trying to get unstuck and out of valley we got stuck in. It was Jesus Christ that gave me the peace in my heart not to panic. And that was my first real life serious bug out experience. Sincerely - Erin D.


I've worked for a major food store in Michigan for over 20 years and just wanted to let you know that over the last few days that with the news of the winter storm that was coming people were panic buying like I have never seen before. They were buying anything they could get their hands on not just water and canned goods. Must be very few people in my area that have any food or water stored for any type of emergency. We have been prepping for a couple of years now and thank you for all of the information that you have put out for people. Thanks, - Steve in Michigan

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mr. Rawles;
I have been reading your blog for a few months. I am a young Christian. I've been attending church four years and saved for three of those years.  I have been doing some preparations for "survival" as per your blog in all areas after observing the financial collapse and other related events in recent years.  Many at church say I am wasting my time cause we will all be raptured prior to the tribulation.  Any brief comments would be appreciated. Thanks, - Jim V.

JWR Replies: You are not wasting your time. The concept of a pre-tribulation rapture is a modernist "feel good" invention. In my estimation, bowing out of preparedness because of just one verse in the Bible (I Thessalonians 4:l7) is foolish. The word rapture doesn't occur in the Bible. That is word used in summary of "Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." (I Thessalonians 4:l7)

Scriptural interpretation of end times events is the subject of much eschatological debate. But if you are looking for a sequence of events, then see Mark 13:18-27 and Matthew 24: 2l-42. A lot of modern evangelicals point to verses 37 to 41 in Matthew 24, and say " Ah-ha! 'Two in the field, but only one one taken'" and conclude that a "pre-tribulation rapture of the church" will occur. While it is true that living believers will be taken up to heaven directly in the Last Days, my interpretation is that it will occur after the time of tribulation, that is, after the breaking of the seals and the numerous plagues described in John's Revelation. Christ made the sequence of events clear, when he was quoted in Matthew 24 :29-31: "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." (My emphasis added. Forgive me if I have somehow added anything to scripture by showing some words bold, but there is a sequence here!)

But, please, don't get too caught up with doctrinal differences. What really matters is that we should all be prepared both spiritually and physically, regardless of the exact sequence of end times events. The crucial thing is our salvation--accepting Christ as our Savior, and reconciling ourselves to God. Anything else, by comparison is just a doctrinal nit. I believe that we are in the Last Days and that it is of vital importance that as many as possible come to saving faith in Jesus the Christ.

Remember: "But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only" of Jesus' return. (Matthew 24:36). Get ready, today, by getting right with God. Even if I'm wrong and there is a pre-tribulation rapture then the food you have stored will be a blessing for friends and relatives who were unsaved and that would be a form of witness unto them. Keep several Bibles amongst your preps. And for those who are strident pacifists, I would submit that it is hard to share the gospel with others if your mortal body has assumed room temperature.

If you want to delve into these topics further, I suggest reading: The Rapture: A Question of Timing, by William Kimbal. This concise book echoes what a lot of theologians like John Wesley and Charles Haddon Spurgeon made clear, long before the modernist church attempted to reinterpret the End Times for their own convenience.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

In 2006, I left my job of 20+ years as a maintenance mechanic and construction designer, my wife left her job of 10+ years in real estate, and we cashed in a pension and a 401(k), to buy a small farm. At the time we were deemed crazy. We thought so too and to this day can’t really put a finger on the exact reasoning.

This farm was one of the last small agriculturally-zoned properties in the area. The rest is sub-division. It was only five acres, but had a large 8-stall horse barn with a large loft & a half-acre pond. We fenced extensively to utilize all the property and over the next three years we got by with giving tours to schools, groups and individuals, and selling various farm related items. Over the past four years we have had virtually every animal known to a farm. Hereford bull, Angus heifers, goats, pigs, sheep, quarter horses, a pony, rabbits, turkeys, chickens, ducks, geese, quail, doves, pigeons. Also, ferrets, chinchillas, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, gerbils, a hedgehog, a dozen dogs and even more cats.

We had to buy hay 12 months of the year, but we were able to make arrangements with three beer micro-breweries to pick up their spent grain after brewing and also with a few produce stores that would load up 32-gallon cans (which we dropped off daily) with their waste fruit, vegetables and greens. No charge for anything, but we had to supply the cans. They didn’t fill up their dumpsters and everyone saved money.

Everything was going smooth until the end-of-summer, 2008. We had that noticed things weren’t quite right in our previous lives (my wife was in real estate), and this was verified in early fall, when we had a visit from someone who had a unique (for us) idea. This person was an owner of an investment firm and had scheduled a tour with his family to “see” the farm. What really was being “seen” was us. Later, we were asked if we would like to join/form a co-op of sorts where a few people with an initial investment and monthly fees could have a supply of fresh meat and eggs and in the case of an “emergency” would have a retreat.

I got the co-op part but the retreat part? Retreat from what? Growing up, I was a big-fan of end-of-the-world movies and books. Movies like “On The Beach”, “The Day The World Ended” (watch it first, then comment) and “The Last Man On Earth” with Vincent Price. “The Last Ship ” was a favorite book later, too. Then we were told about what was going to happen in the beginning of 2009. He told us unless the Fed stepped in somehow, we would have just one of the big three automakers left, if that, banks will fail and inflation and shortages would come. This was in late September of 2008.  My vision of a TEOTWAWKI situation was more nuclear war or even monsters, before the real one, a financial “Rome’s about to be surrounded!”

We thought about this a few days and agreed. Though this co-op set-up only lasted a few months, people lost interest in it to make it not worth our while, we were now permanently “Preppers” and had a tremendous head-start. We started our own personal storage program for food and supplies, but given our location in the suburbs of a very major Midwest city, this was futile at best. Too many people! Too many had the knowledge of what we had and where we had it. My head about imploded after I read "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" by Mr. Rawles. (I’ve since read "Patriots", which if I had read it earlier, would have really gotten me freaked!)

These major eye-opener(s), coupled with Glenn Beck and the endless doom and gloom on the History Channel and others (ABC even had one) we had been watching throughout ‘09, we knew we had to Get Out Of Dodge sooner, rather than later. This process was to be expedited by others. We had our own web site for the tours we had been giving, and still had some information on what we may had going on, though nothing saying we were prepping. At the time we had some links to other useful sites, etc., but then I added Glenn Beck’s and one for a non-hybrid survival seed company we really liked. wrong move! This definitely must have sent up red flags somewhere, somehow. A few weeks later our world was suddenly invaded with anonymous threatening letters and notes saying they’re going tell our suppliers of beer-grain and produce that our animals were being treated poorly, complaints to the police, township, county (Health, Zoning, Building), and state department of agriculture. All of a sudden everything we were doing was deemed "wrong"!

Pop-in visits asking for a look around became common. Picture taking from the other sides of the gates, also. Now, we were located on a corner property on a well-traveled 2-lane road with a 30-mph limit. Joggers, walkers and bicyclists were common. Never a complaint! They would stop at one of our gates to chat. We gave tours and had an open gate policy at first and kept the place cleaner then the typical acceptable conditions of a farm in the area. Anyway, all the, “You didn’t get a permit for this,” “You can’t do that,” and, “Someone said you did this,” were new to us. We had checked on what we could and couldn’t do on the property before we purchased it. You read the list of animals we had or had at one time or another. Some of these “officials” had even been at the farm earlier in friendly times and used to say “Keep up the good work,” and, “Wish more people were like this,” and came back with their kids on the weekends!

Was it a coincidence that things changed when the web site stuff was added? We don’t think so. Our not believing in coincidences in the first place had nothing to do with reaching this conclusion. Were we paranoid? Read on. This continued and escalated. We had an excellent relationship with our local County Sheriff (we were in an unincorporated semi-affluent, McMansion area which was converted from farms over the years, with few holdouts. Ours were probably the first cows you would see driving out of the major city nearby). He told us things behind the scenes he was aware of and things we should do to protect ourselves. Trust me, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you what he said. We had been finding broken glass, bottles, shards of metal and such in our pastures and walkways. For instance, based upon what was said, on Easter Sunday, my wife and I installed 99 eight-foot solid fence panels on our roadside perimeter existing fencing. Just the start. Next were infra-red security cameras, motion-activated lighting and alarms. Firearms were a non-issue. But that is a subject for another time.

In April, 2010 we started looking for a new farm west of the Mississippi. My wife was originally from South Dakota, but we settled on SW Minnesota. I hate flies and mosquitoes, so cold and snow half the time is wonderful to me. I have issues with sustainability in a lot of South Dakota, but they'd probably say the same about me.

The day in June, moving the animals was the epitome of the Schumer we were in. Just blocking only half the street on an early Saturday morning, loading a dozen cattle and two dozen goats in a really residential neighborhood. The things that were said to us and our transporters showed how Godless the area was becoming. Idolatry and hypocrisy rule. We moved our whole operation 500 miles away. We took a major monetary hit on the “city” farm (just to get it sold and done with), but sold it in six months, paid off all major debts, and bought the new farm outright. The new farm is four times the size of our old one, and is self-sustainable for both our family of five, our ten dogs and the farm animals. We had a lot of help from a God-send of neighbors to get us going.

After all the harassment we put up with, not one civil or criminal complaint was ever filed, so motivation and individuals personally involved is unknown. We believe everything is done for a reason. Our lives are being steered in a certain direction, but let no man tell you which direction you must go. Only God knows which direction you must go. We never pray to God to ask Him for anything. We pray to God to thank Him for everything. Remember, God helps those that help themselves (and others). Not those that “help” themselves (and not others). Get it? Here’s a quote I like from the recent movie, “Legion”: “Maybe God’s just tired of all the bull**t.”

Get Your Schumer Together. Sell your junk, buy tangibles, pay off your debt, make peace with your maker. Pass it on. Do it now. Maybe it’s not too late to get it right.

Right before graduating a rough four years of high school (full of mischief, mostly harmless), sitting with my Dad at the kitchen table weighing my options: go full-time at the car dealership I was working at, do the ol’ work your way through college or the military. A World War II Vet, he said to me, “Son, it has and always will be better to know a little about a lot, rather than a lot about a little.” Within a week I joined the Marine Corps. Four years later I met my wife of 24 years. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Everything happens for a reason. Semper Fi.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I suspect many today might think that the words ‘practical’ and ‘Christianity’ don’t seem to fit in the same sentence. In many minds, practical is what one does Monday through Saturday to get ready for hard times on earth, having to do with nuts and bolts and clothes and food and fuel and power and…well…things. Christianity seems to be what one does on Sunday, in a church. That may be the version of spiritual life that has emerged in our nation’s culture over the years, but it is certainly not the version of life the founder of Christianity had in mind—it fails to acknowledge the sovereignty and rule of God over all things, and it will certainly do no one any good in the times to come. So…permit me to share some rules for practical Christianity—something so elemental to preparation for the times in which we live that I would go so far as to say that getting this right is the single most important thing you should undertake—the first thing, the most important thing, and the best thing you should do. Everything else you might do to prepare depends and builds upon these foundational principles. If you get this right, your odds of getting everything else right skyrocket; if you get this wrong, you could get everything else right and still end up in a very bad place.

These practical steps are ‘denominationally neutral’—there is no plug for one denomination or another. In the days to come, true Christians will probably drop their denominational differences (persecution tends to have that effect). If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, if you believe the Bible is His Word to us, and if you strive to obey Him daily, then we will all be agreeing on much, much more in the coming days—whether we expect to or not.

1. Get the Cross Right: Understand what the Cross means and pick it up—every day.  This term ‘Cross’ can be sort of ‘church-speak’, and while it is the essence of Christianity, it doesn’t make sense to many people—many Christians, actually. I say this because of the current state of Christianity in the world; if it did make sense to most Christians, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in at the moment. And  ‘getting the Cross right’ does not mean simply going to church; too many people equate ‘going to church’ with real Christianity. Church is important, but it isn’t a substitute for spiritual life. Actually understanding the Cross is pretty simple. You can understand it by just looking at the life of the Founder. He gave up everything He had so as to obey His Father; He sacrificed His life so others might live. He put away what He was entitled to so as to set an example for us. The Cross involves a breaking; it means we come to a point in our lives when we really, truly realize to the depth of our soul that we have failed as a human being and can in no way succeed; that we have failed in some way that reflects such horrendous discredit on ourselves that there is no hope that we can continue to live unless God gives us His nature and lives His life in us and through us. This typically results in a dark night of the soul, accompanied by a cry of agony and desperation that cries out in remorse, anguish, and despair. If you have uttered such a cry, you will know what I am talking about; if you haven’t, you won’t. If you are lucky, you will see yourself as God sees you (and be affected by that understanding for the rest of your life). How will this apply to your preparation activities? Practically speaking—stop seeking to have things your own way; stop seeking your own ‘rights’, and look to find instances where you might help secure the rights of others (I mean really, after seeing what we look like through God’s eyes, no one could be prideful again). Recognize that before you can truly live in this life, before you can truly be productive in the sense that you will produce good for others besides yourself, before you can take the right steps to prepare for the coming fight, and before you can really do anything that pleases God, you have to come to the realization that you are not in charge; that you are not even capable of being ‘in charge’—of your life, or anyone else’s life; and that our natures are, in fact, such that if left to ourselves, we would muddy the baths of angels. And why, lastly, is all this important? Why is this eminently practical? Because we are coming into a time when warriors are required. The coming fight, however, is not about freedom, or constitutional liberties, or the right to own guns. No, the ground on which we’re fighting and will fight is spiritual—the enemy of freedom and liberty is also, coincidentally, the enemy of your soul. Every one of you who reads this blog feels this, deep down. Every time you read of another encroachment on freedom, an intrusion into previously sacrosanct rights, or some new abuse or trampling of human dignity, something in you twists in anger; you cry out against it. Why? Because the fight we’re in is spiritual, because these things affront your spirit, and no amount of political or prepping efforts will avail you if you have not prepared first spiritually. Not recognizing this is a spiritual fight, and just stocking up and learning skills (all quite important, mind) without first understanding and applying the Cross is like stepping into a boxing ring against a powerful (only once-defeated) opponent—he’s got a baseball bat, and you’re wearing a blindfold…good luck.

2. Men—Cowboy Up. Men need to be the spiritual leaders in their family. A man who needs to be nagged by his wife to lead spiritually will let down his side in the bigger battles to come (because remember, the fight we’re in now is spiritual, and will only get more so). This is important because this is the way God structured our society: it doesn’t mean men are more or less important, it is just that leadership in the home is the role God has assigned to men, so as to maintain the symbology He has put in place so we could know Him. Men—you need to lead your families spiritually by reading them sections of the Bible each day. You need to speak to them about what you read (which means you need to be able to hear from God what He tells you to say). You need to be able to handle the Word of God like a master re-loader handles his re-loading equipment; like some master gardener handles their garden; like some master electrician can whip up a DIY alternate power source. And I mean every man, not just some minister or pastor. This means, practically, that every man needs to be able to answer the tough questions, and every man needs to be setting the example for their family with their own life. And this means every man needs to know the Bible better than anyone in their family…and it means then that you need to humble out, and it means that if you are doing things you ought not to be doing, knock it off, ask God’s forgiveness, stop doing those things (that’s what ‘repent’ means), and start learning the things He wants you to learn and doing the things He wants you to do. You won’t make one lick of progress toward understanding the Bible unless you are willing to line up and do what it says to do. No one said this would be easy, but any home with a man in it who isn’t leading spiritually isn’t firing on all cylinders. Any family that hopes to prepare, led by a man who thinks this ‘spiritual stuff’ is just a crutch, or something not manly enough to deal with, will get rolled over when the enemy’s big spiritual guns are rolled out (remember the baseball bat and the blindfold). And remember, gentlemen…you can’t be the spiritual leader in your homes unless you have first executed step one, above.

3. Obey the Word. This phrase, ‘the Word’, is what Christians mean when they are referring to either what they read in the Bible, or what God actually tells them to do (yes, Virginia, God still speaks to people today). Typically God speaks to people through His written word, which is why it is so important to correctly handle it. If you were zeroing your battle rifle for 100 yards and you didn’t know how to ‘correctly handle’ the settings on your sight, you really wouldn’t make any progress with the exercise now, would you? If you were building an alternative energy source and you didn’t ‘correctly handle’ the principles of electricity, you’d suffer the consequences. Well, the Word of God is a tool He’s given us to be able to (a) obey Him the right way, and (b) live our lives so that we can benefit others. But you can read the Bible and talk about it and spread it around, but if you don’t actually do what God tells you to do, you’re wasting your time. Obedience is that actual thing that helps us understand what God is telling us in the Word; this is why people who have absolutely no intention of actually obeying God read the Bible and can’t make head nor tail out of what it says. Warriors need to obey their commander, and in this upcoming spiritual fight, God is the commander, and if you want to fight in this upcoming fight, you had better learn how to obey Him. Obey in the small things first, and soon He will give you more critical tasks. Obedience is critical—and that means you need to humble out and get a right sight picture of where you stand relative to God—and that takes us back to step one, above.

4. God is God. It seems that somewhere, American Christians have gotten the idea that waving a flag is tantamount to worshipping God…and I think that is because most people who might call themselves Christians are actually worshipping America (this is because it is easier than executing step one, above). At the bottom of that slippery slope one sees that there is the tendency to simply worship any construct or political system that provides them a required lifestyle or level of convenience or freedom to engage in a preferred activity. America should not be God, the Constitution should not be God, and I would even go so far as to say that one’s efforts to prepare should not be your God (and by ‘God’ I simply mean ‘that which is most important to you’). In any fight, one needs to see clearly whom you are fighting. In a dogfight, typically the first one who sees the enemy has an immense advantage; in any sort of combat, seeing your opponent clearly is critical. Not having a clear picture of God will keep you from clearly seeing the real opponent in these days. Our opponents are not ‘the Progressives’ or the gun control fanatics, or ‘the evil left’. No…our opponent is the enemy of souls, the deceiver of nations, the hater of your heart. Adjust to that fact and stop swinging at illusions. Accurately place God in the scheme of things, and you will accurately comprehend your enemy. But if you continue to worry about the restoration of constitutional freedoms and rights and all the other things ‘guaranteed by the Founding Fathers’ without first executing step one, above, then you will be playing into the hands of the enemy, swinging at moonbeams, and sooner or later, you’ll get that baseball bat in the head when the enemy rolls out his big guns and everyone recognizes the fight as spiritual. You’ve heard it said, “Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.” Well, focusing on surface political and national issues is bringing a knife to a gunfight. Don’t be caught without the appropriate spiritual weapons.

5. Life isn’t the sine qua non of existence. If you are continuing in a relationship of obedience with God, then you should not fear death. Rather, you should fear He Who consigns souls to hell (that would be God). Death isn’t the enemy; loss of freedom isn’t the main threat. Denying God is that which we should most fear. Practically speaking, how might one deny God? Let’s put it in terms we can understand. Let’s say you have a Dad who’s the greatest Dad in the world. He’s taken care of you, raised you to be an honest, hard-working, true man or woman who knows what love and truth and beauty and obedience means. So one day someone comes along and asks you to engage in an activity that you know would upset your Dad, something which would be against all the principles for which he stands. If you go ahead and engage in that activity, such would be tantamount to denying your Father. ‘Render to Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and to God that which is God’s.’ No man can force you to deny God if you have already come to that place in your mind where you would rather die than do so.  One doesn’t get to that place easily. You can only get to that place by realizing that your life is less important than your faithfulness to your Father in heaven (presuming, of course, that you have executed step one, above). Now, I am not advocating that you run upon the nearest sword that happens to present itself so that you can become an instant martyr. No…I am telling you that the product of a solid relationship with God in which you are obeying Him on a daily basis (after you have accomplished step one, above) will be a firm, unshakable determination to die or suffer hardship rather than to disobey Him, or be forced to engage in an activity or adopt a philosophy or adhere to any policy or principal that requires you to disobey God’s rules, nature, or commandments. Another product of that close relationship will be God’s hand on your life, shepherding you through the days such that when the time comes for you to perhaps give up your life before denying Him, it will be an instance that He has arranged, and it will be for His glory, not yours. This re-adjusted mindset may result in some dramatically different approaches to your preparations. Consider—how would your preparation activities change if you were to ask yourself, “How will God be glorified by what I am doing?” (this term ‘glorified’ can be ‘church-speak’: it simply means, for example, “How will God get the credit; how will God’s excellence and wonderfulness be made evident to people; how will the people affected by this thing I’m doing realize that God is the one who made it all possible, and thank Him and not me?”). Everything you do to prepare—every gun you buy, every food item you store, every balaclava you procure—needs to be done with the objective in mind that somehow, someway, people will sooner or later, because of what you are doing, thank God (not you).

6. Dropkick the World. Once upon a time, a man had two dogs, a Red dog and White dog. He would tell everyone who came to visit that he loved that White dog and really hated the Red dog. Oh, and how those two dogs would fight each other. The man would tell his guests that he always wanted the White dog to win, and sometimes that White dog did (usually when guests were around), but most other times that mean ol’ Red dog would just get the upper hand. Now, twice a day that man fed the Red dog a huge porterhouse steak and once a day he fed that White dog just three small garbanzo beans and a Ritz cracker. Well, pretty soon, you can guess who was winning the fights—yup, that mean ol’ Red dog. So the point of the story here is that those two dogs are in each of us. The Red dog is that thing in us—our human nature—that wants to do the bad stuff; the White dog—God’s nature (presuming again you’ve executed step one)—is that which is trying to get us to do what’s right. When we put into our hearts the garbage that comes from the world—the philosophies, the entertainments, the ethics, the value systems, and the general mindset the world has (the ‘world’ being those things opposed to God), we’re feeding the Red dog and starving the White dog. Better we starve the Red dog and feed the White dog; read the Word every day; dwell on what God is doing through His body on earth; associate with others who are accomplished in performing step one, above; read solid books that accurately and in an honoring way depict the wonderful things God has done in human history; stay away from movies and books that dishonor Him (Hollywood being what it is, that narrows the field down a bit). Now, you won’t be able to come completely out of the world—I’m not advocating you join some sort of monastery (you can’t have an M1A in a monastery, I’ve heard—that would cut it for me). You will need to have some familiarity with what is happening around you to make some sense of the days in which we live—but don’t starve the White dog in doing so.

7. Love what God loves (hate what God hates). Imagine a little boy who looks up to his father and wants to be ‘just like his Dad’. Well, what do we see in little boys who have this desire? They do what their Daddies do; they love what their Dad loves, and if their Dad somehow expresses distaste for something, you can be sure that little boy will walk right up to it and give it a kick as well. What does God love? God loves truth, and justice, and righteousness (another ‘church-speak’ word that simply means doing what is right in God’s sight—which means that to do righteousness you need to know what God considers right, which means you need to understand His Word, which requires executing step one, above); He loves mercy, and a humble and contrite heart—this means a heart that knows where it stands in the great scheme of things, and owns up to and is deeply sorry for the rotten things it has done in its past. He loves compassion and He loves defending those who cannot defend themselves. He loves protecting the innocent and the weak. He stands against evil and does not give way before it. And God hates, too (oh yes He does, absolutely, positively, make no mistake—you can read it in Psalm 5 and elsewhere). He hates sin, and He hates those who sin; he hates injustice and tyranny and murder and rapine and all the evil things men do...and evil men. And He will one day come back and His robes will be dipped in blood from all the death and destruction He will deal out upon men and women who are opposed to His rule (my suggestion is to be on the right side of that coming fight). So in your daily life, begin to make a habit of doing what your Father in heaven does; uphold truth and justice and do righteousness and hate those who do iniquity. Keep yourselves from idols—that is, keep yourselves from anything that might get to be more important in your life than obeying God.

- - -

And so…

Do you want to be a warrior in this fight? Do you want to take up arms with your heavenly Father, to do what you can to fight on His side? Do you want to identify with others who have a devotion to a mission so intense that they would be willing to die for it? God is not so concerned about restoring the Constitution; He is not so concerned about restoring the principles of the Founding Fathers. He is concerned, though, about individual hearts being so tuned to Him that every person functions as if they were part of His own body here on earth. It may be that the outcome of this coming conflict results not in some rejuvenated American nation but in a completely new world, with God actually ruling and reigning on this earth (which might impact your food storage plans a bit). Prepare well—God says that those who see danger and prepare to avoid it are prudent. But remember the most important aspect of preparation. Warriors in this fight will know how to use these practical steps (for they are weapons); they will know how to take orders; they will know where and how they fit in the grand scheme of things (for such is the true definition of humility); they will know the voice of their Commanding Officer, and they will do what He says—regardless of cost.

Friday, December 24, 2010

After reading the intro to Sean F.'s article on "A Christmas Gift for the Unprepared," there is much I could say about how the World has hijacked Christmas and the unfortunate consequence of Christians becoming dazzled by the tinsel so that they also are confused about what Christmas is really all about. Christmas is actually about a God who loves us pitiful humans so much that he sent his only Son to us as a gift. That is what Christmas is all about--not just "love for friends and family," as Sean indicates.

What better time is there than Christmas to make sure your readers know that securing their well-being for the rest of their mortal lives on Earth is important... however this life is a vapor compared to the eternal life that is offered freely--freely!--by God through Jesus Christ! No books to buy, no supplies to stash, no great knowledge or skills must be obtained. Only this: the simple acceptance of the fact that we are sinners, that we need God to save us, and then accepting his free gift of salvation that comes via Jesus death on a cross for us. This is the message that the world needs to hear! And this is why Christmas is so wonderful, so awe-inspiring, and what Christmas is really all about!!! (For more on these subjects, I strongly recommend picking up a Bible and reading about God's wonderful gift. The original Christmas story is available in Luke 2, and I recommend the entire book of John for non-Christians. In addition, see John 3:16, Ephesians 2:8-9, I John 5:11-13, Romans 3:23, Romans 10:9)

Of course, I do not mean to diminish the accomplishment of your blog; it is wonderful and I am a daily reader, and I thank you for it. However the greater mission for us as Christians is the same as that of the angels to the shepherds two thousand years ago: to proclaim Christ!

Merry Christmas to you and yours! - W.P.R.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas isn’t what the television commercials would have you believe. It’s not about diamond jewelry, new cars or power tools. It’s not about trinkets and treasures and toys. It’s not about online shopping and last minute bargains.

It’s about love.

Not love of possessions or material wealth, but love for friends and family.

And because you love them, you naturally want them to be happy and safe. In easy times, this isn’t a problem. But what if the Schumer really does Hit The Fan? Will the ones you love be able to sustain themselves and survive? If your family is anything like mine, there are people in it who do not see the need to prepare. Fortunately, Christmas represents the ideal opportunity to help them learn to help themselves.

By giving a basic starter survival kit, you will put them on the path of self sufficiency and in doing so, give them the greatest gifts – confidence and the means to weather the coming storm.

When preparing the kit keep in mind the spirit of the gift. It’s not to show off how much you know. It’s to put them on the path to prepping. Give them what they need, tell them why they need it, and show them how to use it, always with the subtle caveat that they must learn more on their own. Though it has already been covered very well in this blog, I humbly offer my personal opinion of the very basics of what might go into a starter prep kit. This, in the physical sense, will be your gift. If you don’t have enough redundancy to spare, you can purchase the items in this kit for far less that you’d spend on a new “stuff”.

At every stage remember that this is not a fully grown bug out bag; it’s a seed that will hopefully grow to fruition. Accordingly, each part of the kit should have a note on a 3"x5" card telling “why” it is important and “how” they can build upon it. These notes can - and should be - very simple. Information overload is not the goal; kick-starting their thought process is. For example, with the water you might write, “What happens when the taps won’t work? Several sources of water include swimming pools, ponds and solar stills. Did you also know that a small amount of bleach will help kill the bad stuff in untreated water?” Keep it short, interesting and friendly.

If you haven’t made a survival kit before, here’s an easy way to get a grip on how to start. The next time you go shopping, look around at all the shiny packages and think for a moment what you’d do if the shelves were empty. What would you feed your family? What would you use to light the lights, cook the food, cure a cold, guard the homestead? Imagine if you couldn’t buy what you needed. This is the sudden, terrifying situation that most will face, including your loved ones. Yes, those same mothers, father, sisters and pals who didn’t heed your hints, warnings or exasperated pleadings to be the ant and not the grasshopper.

Chances are if you’re reading this, you feel comfortable in your basic preparations. Can the same be said for your child, mother-in-law or best friend? If you’ve been practicing your best OPSEC, they might not even be aware of the hard work you’ve put in. If so, how can you expect them to have followed your lead and taken the necessary preparations to take care of themselves?

How long will they survive without your help? Give it to them. Remember the famous saying, “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.”

As a Christmas gift, the starter kit perhaps will not elicit the same shrieks of joy that a “stuff” will bring, but it’s one that will keep them safe when storms (natural or man-made) come to shatter the calm. It won’t last forever, nor is it meant to. By giving it to them now in times of relative calm, along with some helpful tips and suggestions, you’re giving them a lifeline in times of trouble, and hopefully a head start into the prepping adventure.

My gift to the unprepared in my family is a starter prep kit that includes the following. Keep in mind that this is representative of what my budget allows. Everyone’s financial situation is different, and you may find that you’re able to add more or that you must cut some items. If you have an extra backpack, you can even pack all these items inside it so that they will have a self-contained kit that they can grab at a moment’s notice.

Food – Protein bars, granola bars, MREs, canned meat and vegetables (and can opener). Snares, fish hooks, small fishing net and knife. A propane camping stove with extra fuel. Saucepan, fork and spoon. Salt and pepper.

Water - Bottled water, purification tablets, Katadyn water filter, Gatorade mix for electrolytes.

Fire - Flint and steel, lighter, matches, magnesium fire starter, cotton balls saturated in Vaseline and stored in a film canister and a fire starter stick.

Shelter - Survival blanket, extra socks, warm clothes, sleeping bag, wool hat, gloves, scarf or shemagh, hand warmers, hatchet or small saw for building a lean-to or cutting branches to make a windbreak. Flashlight and candles.

Self-Defense – Depending on preferences and your local legalities, a firearm or hunting knife, Sabre pepper-spray, staff, or stout rod.

First Aid - A basic small first aid kit will do, available anywhere and everywhere. Be sure to bolster it with items that may not be included such as an anti-diarrhea medicine, anti-histamine allergy pills, antacids and whatever else their personal condition may require. In the case of prescription medicines that they take, a note inside the first aid kit advising them to stock some will be a good reminder.

Hygiene – Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, foot powder, soap, shampoo, sunscreen, small towel.

Serenity – Emotionally and spiritually reassuring items like the Bible or a book of their particular faith, playing cards, pen and notebook, hobby or heritage craft supplies to productively pass the time, small game or toy for children. Most importantly, a small photo album with pictures of their loved ones to remind them what they are fighting to survive for.

Information - Compass, street and topographical maps of the immediate and surrounding areas. An empty envelope inside a Zip-Loc bag with a note telling them to fill it with copies of their birth certificate, driver license, health insurance information, medical records, emergency contact numbers and other important documents.

Very basically, what I’m giving them in this kit falls into three categories: supplies, information and support.

Supplies – The starter kit I just detailed covers this. Some readers will disagree and find fault. Many will suggest additions or improvements. And they’ll be right. The kit is personalized to the individual. Having the basics is vital, but specializing the kit to the one who will carry it is likely the key to their survival.

Information – This comes in many forms, but your loved ones may be panicked or fleeing and have access only to what you provide in the pack. Include a selection of concise how-to books, survival guides, maps and a printed plan of how and where you will all meet in case of an emergency, or a plan detailing your bug-in procedures. A printed version will be important since the unprepared are more likely to panic and a reference guide will be paramount to their survival.

Support – Include a card that is both relevant and sensitive to their situation. Try to maintain a positive tone. Do not judge or frighten. As an example, consider using this: “Dear Mom, I am giving you this because I love you and because I want you to be able to have what you need to deal with whatever life throws at you. If there’s a bad storm, or you have to leave town on a sudden emergency, I hope that this will provide you with what you need to make it. If you have any questions or want to learn more about anything please know that you can always reach out to me.”

The goal here is not to give them every last thing they could possibly need. That’s a long term project. Instead, make it your mission to open their eyes and give them the impetus to start thinking outside their safe box and taking the simple steps necessary to protect themselves.

At the end of 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7, “In a word, there are three things that last forever: faith, hope, and love; But the greatest of them all is love.”

With this gift, you are giving all three. Faith in themselves in case of an emergency. Hope that they can carry on and provide for themselves and their family. And, of course, the greatest gift of all that you can give, and one which needs no explanation - love.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

You don't have to read many gun blogs before you are faced with discussion regarding Bad Guys ("BG's"). The BG shorthand is the current forum-speak for "Bad Guy". In these discussions you'll find that BG's are always in desperate need of having an end put to their pathetic lives, and that they are nothing really but a target waiting to be acquired. But does reality reflect forum logic? Does every BG have an angry scowl and use someone's beautiful daughter as a human shield?

Life, unlike some forum discussions, is chuck-full of gray areas, shadowy concealment, and moral dilemmas where right and wrong are difficult or impossible to distinguish in the short time to takes to apply draw, front-sight, press, front-sight. We don't like to hear that. We prefer to think that when the waste hits the whirler we'll know exactly what to do, but reality screams otherwise. Ask any combat veteran or beat cop about reality versus training, the tunnel vision and hyper-awareness of a genuine adrenaline dump can greatly effect one's perceptions of the situation at hand, and severely limit our ability to find the coherent choices we may need in those split seconds that tick by so slowly in hind-sight yet are over in a blink in real-life.

We train for just such reality. We prepare for just such circumstances. We train so that muscles do their job even if minds turn to butter, just like we prepare so that we'll have the particular supply in hand the moment the need arises. Yet there is an issue of preparedness which few people intentionally train for, and fewer still take the time to ponder in any degree comparable to how they worry about food, ammo, or shelter. That issue is morality.

Morality is completely irrelevant if the BG is always as readily identifiable as the dude on those full-color paper targets which are so popular, but bad guys are never so simple to spot. More people have lost their lives at home and abroad to unexpected encounters with a smiling stranger than with an obviously motivated mugger. Now if the bad guys are hard to spot, don't think the good guys are always easy to distinguish either. To further play into this difficulty, remember that you are a stranger to a great many people, and in TEOTWAWKI any stranger might decide you are a threat to be shot first and questioned only afterward. To these concerns we must realize that morality is the straw that braces