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Christian Perspective

EV001408Traditional thinking about OpSec (Operational Security) is that we should keep quiet about our preps. In a catastrophic event, the thinking goes, civil unrest immediately follows and those who don’t have food will steal – by force, if necessary – from people who do. Everyone who has talked to many people about their prepping activities — that they store food, water, medicine, and supplies — has been told by someone, “If anything ever happens, I’m coming to your house!” Being interpreted, that means they have no intention of spending their time and money to prep. Why bother? You’ve already done it all for them. And when times do go bad, they’ll remember that you have what they need. And they’ll tell their friends and family about you, too. And all of them will tell their friends and family. So good OpSec dictates that if you want to keep what you’ve stored, you keep your mouth shut and not reveal to anyone what you’re doing.

I agree with that…to a point. But I’ll get to that.

We have purposefully gone against traditional OpSec with this website because we think that it’s important to get the word out to others about the need to prep. And we want to inform you and encourage you to prepare your family for the time when life continues, but with some major changes from how we know it today.

About a month ago we attended PrepperFest in Columbus, OH. It was our first prepper conference and we found it to be well worthwhile. One of the workshops was by Black Dog Survival School. I found the instructor’s take on OpSec to be surprising and so much more realistic than the traditional perspective. He asked a question that went something like this:

“How long after SHTF do you think it will take for those around you to figure out that you have food, shelter, heat, fire, and water?”

His answer – about two days after they run out, which will probably be about three days after the catastrophic event. I think he’s probably right. That means that by Day Five, unless you live in a really remote location, your OpSec will be shot, too, and you will have to make some critical and difficult decisions:

Will you share what you have and, if so, with whom?

In the cozy security of life-as-we-know-it, you may be able to take a hard line and answer that question very narrowly – you’ll share only with those you’ve prepped for or with. In other words, anyone else who comes knocking at your door will be turned away, probably at gunpoint. Or maybe you’re more generous and think you’ll share with your extended family and neighbors. But how far does that extend?

Will you really be able to say “no” to your children and their spouses and children? What about your in-laws and their families, including that brother-in-law who drives you nuts? What about your children’s in-laws?

As I recall, the speaker said when they honestly looked at their family tree, they decided that they would be prepping for fourteen people. Yep, fourteen. Because to do otherwise meant that they would be saying to people they love (and/or have an obligation to), “No, I can’t give you food – you will have to go hungry.”

Phil and I don’t have children, so we don’t have to deal with the heart-wrenching decisions of giving our rapidly decreasing food to our children and their in-laws. Sadly, we also don’t live near our siblings, so we don’t face sharing with them and their families either. (I wish we did.) But the question extends to our friends. Would we really tell our closest friends, “Sorry, we can’t share our water with you”? I can tell you the answer to that is “no” because we’ve already said, “Brother /sister, if you are in need and we can help, please come to us.” Just because life has changed doesn’t negate that promise we’ve made.

Of course, the problem is exacerbated when we know that some of the dear friends we’ve said that to have grown children and grandchildren. Despite our best efforts to convince them of the need, they are not preppers. How far does our grace extend? In all honesty, we struggle with that question, because supplies will disappear rapidly in a truly catastrophic event.

And then there is the neighbor who sees that we have food and water when they have none. Will we really say “no”? And will that honor God?

The conference speaker encouraged three actions that I totally agree with:

  • Think through this discussion with your spouse honestly. Lose the bravado and macho attitude. Pray about it. What would God have you to do?
  • Prep more food and water. More than you need for your family. More than you need for your extended family. More.
  • Break OpSec with those you care about. Talk about prepping with your family, friends, and neighbors. Don’t be the crazy doomsday relative or neighbor, but plan get-togethers and get to know one anothers’ skills and assets. Encourage prepping in whatever way makes sense for each person. Challenge each person to go a bit beyond what they think they can or should do.

So what do you say the person who simply says, “If that happens, I’m coming to your house”? I’ve developed a new response to that. It’s something like, “OK. What are you bringing to the party? What are you prepared to contribute to the group?” And if there is an opening, I continue, “You see, you are welcome at my house and I will share what I can with you, but understand that if I share my year’s supply of food with you, we then only have a six months’ supply. And if you bring your husband, we now have only a four months’ supply of food. And four months isn’t long enough to grow enough food for all of us to continue to live on. So what will you contribute?”

Overwhelmed by this? Thinking, “Hey, I’m still trying to get enough food for me and my family set aside and now you want me to do more?” Then step away from this article and revisit it in a few months. We’re all at different places in our preps. Over the past few months I’ve just come to realize that more really is better. And that our goal of having enough food and water for “Phil and I and some to share” needs to be modified to “Phil and I and LOTS to share.”

dohWhen did you last have one of those “Doh!” moments? You know, one of those Homer Simpson slap-yourself-on-the-forehead, what-an-idiot-I’ve-been moments? Sometimes it’s because of something that you’ve said. More often it’s because of what you forgot to say.

Sandy and I were on national TV recently. We were featured on a show called Biblical Preppers that was broadcast on the Destination America cable channel. Many of you are probably reading this as a result of seeing us on the show. (Welcome. We hope you like what you see. Be sure to subscribe by filling in your email address in the box at the top of the column on the left. Thanks.) Those of you who have seen the show have the advantage over me. I haven’t seen it yet. I didn’t find out that it was being broadcast until the show was actually on and I missed the first half of it. That would be, of course, the half in which we were featured. I’ll catch one of their many reruns.

The production company sent a producer and video crew to our home for two days in December 2013. Two days after the crew had packed up and left, I slapped myself on the forehead and shouted, “Doh!” I had just realized that I left something out – probably the most important thing I wanted to communicate. I didn’t tell them what I believe about the things that are happening and the real reason why I became a prepper.

I believe that God’s hand of protection has been taken away from America.

America has its detractors and it’s easy to find fault with it at any time in its history, but I don’t think you can find a better place to be in the 200-plus years of its existence. That’s why people have flocked to its shores and continue to do so by the millions. Those who are critical of America ignore or discount all of the good things that this nation has done for the world. You can’t be on Facebook for fifteen minutes without seeing that someone has put up the poster that says the only ones who would freely die for you are Jesus Christ and the American soldier.

Yeah, we’ve been just that kind of place. We’ve been just that kind of people. But things are changing, and they are changing rapidly. This was once a nation that knew God and sought to follow Him. It used to be that when the word “God” was spoken in a room with 100 people, about 90 of them would have the same thoughts about God go through their heads — who He is, what He’s like, etc. That is far from the case today.

At work I am required to ask people what their religion or denomination preference is. Overwhelmingly, the most common answer is “none.” For some people that means that they see no distinction in one religion from another – any one is as good as another. For others it means that they want to be free from religion and any thoughts of God at all. They don’t want to be ultimately accountable to anyone. To them, God is dead or never existed in the first place. But increasingly, especially among people under the age of 35 or so, when I ask the question about their preference, they don’t even understand the words that I’m speaking. I repeat it, thinking that they didn’t hear me, but it’s not the volume that’s the problem. It’s the vocabulary. They don’t know what the words “religion” or “denomination” mean. Honest to God! They live in a society that is so far removed from God that they have no words for Him or His culture. And friends, while it may not be the case around you and your immediate family and associates, it’s the society in which you live today, too.

God has been systematically removed from America for the past 50 years. My company held its annual Day of Prayer yesterday during which we prayed for our employees, clients, and key contacts by name. We prayed for one woman at a client company who, if you mention a problem or difficulty, will openly tell you that’s she will pray for you, and always closes every call with a “God bless you.” We marveled that she is allowed to get away with that at a major U.S. corporation in this day and age. Such speech is increasingly becoming prohibited in America today. Someone might become offended. We shouldn’t pray for people. We should never bless them in the name of God. Not in the workplace. Someone might complain. Or they might even file a lawsuit against us. This is the kind of place that America has become in my lifetime. Keep God to yourself or suffer the consequences. You will be persecuted prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Nature abhors a vacuum. Culture does, too. If you take something out, something else will move in to take its place. America is increasingly removing God from our society. People are turning away from the God who has blessed them, led them, and protected them. So what takes His place? Lawlessness. A casting off of all restraints. Corruption of moral standards, justice, and God’s word. (For more on this, see this hard hitting article.)

How does God feel about? A close reading of Jeremiah chapter 2 will spell it all out:

The word of the Lord came to me.  “Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem: “This is what the Lord says: “‘I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the wilderness, through a land not sown. Israel was holy to the Lord, the firstfruits of his harvest; all who devoured her were held guilty, and disaster overtook them,’” declares the Lord.

 Hear the word of the Lord, you descendants of Jacob, all you clans of Israel.  This is what the Lord says: “What fault did your ancestors find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves. They did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord, who brought us up out of Egypt and led us through the barren wilderness, through a land of deserts and ravines, a land of drought and utter darkness, a land where no one travels and no one lives?’ I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable. The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord?’ Those who deal with the law did not know me; the leaders rebelled against me. The prophets prophesied by Baal, following worthless idols.”

That second paragraph tears my heart out. God is asking the people He has loved and cared for and who have turned their back on Him, “What fault did your ancestors find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols.” Some might hear that spoken as an accusation. I hear it as spoken from a grieved and broken heart. Still, God’s justice demands that He judge such behavior. Read his response to being abandoned by the people from the latter half of Jeremiah 2:

“Therefore I bring charges against you again,” declares the Lord. “And I will bring charges against your children’s children. Cross over to the coasts of Cyprus and look, send to Kedar and observe closely; see if there has ever been anything like this: Has a nation ever changed its gods? (Yet they are not gods at all.) But my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols.

Be appalled at this, you heavens, and shudder with great horror,” declares the Lord. “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. Is Israel a servant, a slave by birth? Why then has he become plunder? Lions have roared; they have growled at him. They have laid waste his land; his towns are burned and deserted. Also, the men of Memphis and Tahpanhes have cracked your skull.

Have you not brought this on yourselves by forsaking the Lord your God when he led you in the way? Now why go to Egypt to drink water from the Nile? And why go to Assyria to drink water from the Euphrates? Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the Lord your God and have no awe of me,” declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty.”

Jeremiah is the story of God calling His wayward people to repentance over and over again, and their stubborn refusal to listen to God, heed His warnings, acknowledge that they had strayed from Him, and return to Him. As a result, God disciplines them by sending the Babylonians to eat their lunch in the bag they brought it in and carry them off to captivity for 70 years.

I believe that America is guilty of everything that brought judgment and destruction on the Israelites. I believe that God is calling us to repentance, but America is stepping up its resistance to Him instead of returning to Him. And I believe that God is removing His hand of protection from America.

That’s why I prep. I believe judgment is coming. Like Noah, I’m building an ark, so to speak. I trust God, but I see trouble coming and I take action.

And that’s what I forgot to say on TV.

retro-tvOur humble little blog has attracted the attention of a television production company in New York City. While I’m not well-versed in the world of cable TV production companies, I have heard of Pawn Stars, one of the shows this organization is responsible for. They are in the process of casting a new show that will allow participants to showcase their survival skills in the wild and they invited us to audition for the show. While Sandy and I would describe ourselves as “preppers” we are a far cry from being “survivalists.” That’s a horse of a different color. Out of our league.

End of story, right? Nope.

They gave us their contact information and told us, “If you happen to know any exceptional self-reliance experts, instructors, students, or colleagues, feel free to pass it along to them as well.”

Our loss could be your gain. You could be a TV star.

Here’s more of what they sent us by email:

In the real world, survival is not a game and there is little room for failure. Survival is a matter of self-reliance that cannot be faked.

  • Are you a TRUE survivor in every sense of the word? Is self-reliance a way of life for you?
  • Do you believe that the act of survival has become trivialized in popular culture today?
  • Do you want to prove that you have the skills, determination, willpower and strength to take part in THE ULTIMATE survival experience?

No gimmicks. No film crew. No games.

From the producer’s who brought you Pawn Stars and American Restoration on The History Channel and Clash Of The Ozarks on Discovery comes the biggest survival experiment ever attempted. The series will feature a group of self-reliance experts as they battle the elements and fight to survive on their terms with nothing but what they can carry on their backs. Their mission: to survive alone in the wild and document their journey every step of the way.

Whether you’re an outdoorsman, homesteader, adventurist or survivalist, if you’re ready to take on the survival challenge of a lifetime, we want to hear from you!

If that’s got you licking your chops in anticipation, give Natalie a call at 212-564-2607, ext. 2652. Or you could send her an email at Casting@LeftfieldPictures.com.

Been There, Done That

On a similar topic, here’s something that we haven’t told very many folks about yet. We were contacted by another TV production company last fall. This one was the company that does the show Myth Busters and a bunch of other programs for National Geographic Channel, Discovery, and other cable channels. They were shooting a show on “faith-based preppers” and they asked us to be a part of it. After several phone calls and a Skype interview with various members of the production staff, we agreed to do the show.

They sent a film crew out to our house in December and spent two days with us. They came to our church and filmed the entire service on a Sunday that Sandy preached. While they never put words in our mouths or scripted us in any way whatsoever, they were visibly disappointed that Sandy wasn’t preaching about some apocalyptic topic. They had a list of end times related Bible verses and let us select several of them to read and discuss. They filmed us doing everything from taking target practice to walking our dog. The point of the show was to express how our Christian faith impacts our prepping and I know that I didn’t make my point well at all. It was one of those situations where two days after they were gone I went, “Doh! I should have said this!”

Sorry. No do-overs. In the blink of an eye they were on their way to Arizona and Georgia to film the other participants.

We don’t know when the show will air, but we know that it will be on the Destination America channel (DirecTV channel 286), one of many cable channels that Discovery owns and operates. So we’re waiting for our show to air. If they give us any advanced notice, we’ll clue you in as to when it will be on. If you miss it, I know they rerun their shows a lot on Destination America.

So you see, Sandy and I have already become TV stars. Are you up for your 15 minutes of obscure cable TV fame? If so, contact Natalie at Leftfield Entertainment, and tell her The Approaching Day Prepper sent you.

As we step into 2014, what are you thinking about prepping? How are you thinking about prepping? It seems a great time for each of us to review how we approach the world differently because of our preparedness mindset.

Awareness
Awareness means different things depending on where you are on the prepping continuum. For beginners, it means becoming aware of the need to prep. It’s that first knock on the door of your consciousness that gets your attention. When you open the door, it says “Hey, things might not always be as they are now. What do you need to do to get ready?” If you haven’t reached awareness yet, check out our Why Prep page – you’ll find a compilation of our blogs on that subject. If you’ve just reached awareness and are wondering where to begin, check out our blog Getting Started with Prepping – How Do I Begin?

For more experienced preppers, awareness goes beyond the initial insight of the general need to prepare for a game-changing event. Awareness becomes being vigilant – always alert to what’s going on around you locally, nationally, and globally. It means monitoring shifts in political, economic, social, and environmental conditions. As preppers, we learn to be observant in every situation, thinking ahead to how we might need to adapt to new realities.

Determination
Having come to an understanding that the world is in fact changing – that it will not go on the same as it is right now and may become a more challenging place to live – we’ve decided that we will take steps today that will position us to survive – even thrive – in a new and less friendly environment. We’re deciding today that we won’t be victims – people who need to be rescued by someone else. And I hope you’re like me and not planning on just being a “sole survivor,” but also being one who helps others survive as well.

Emergency ChecklistIntentionality
Preppers plan for the future. We live today as if tomorrow may be different. There are two parts to that sentence.

  • “We live today…” – Our approach to prepping isn’t so future-focused that we fail to live for today. Enjoy the day! Don’t miss it. Don’t race ahead of today. God has given it to you and put things into it for your pleasure. Don’t let them go by without appreciating them.
  • “…as if tomorrow may be different” – While enjoying the blessings of today, we are also gathering things and learning skills we might need in that different world. That means planning how we use our time and finances for future benefit. It means being proactive instead of just reactive. It means living intentionally.

Readiness
No one can be prepared for everything, but we can all do something today that will make us better prepared for tomorrow. Our goal is to take measures to ensure that not only are we are able to survive, but we can also help others in an emergency. So we live our lives differently from those who haven’t yet become aware.  We buy and store water, food and other necessities. We intentionally buy things we might never use in our everyday lives (our manually-operated grain mill comes to mind – will I ever use it to grind wheat if nothing happens? I don’t think so). We determine to learn skills we don’t absolutely require for survival today, but which might become indispensable in the days to come. (We took up raised-bed gardening, not because we were looking for an excuse to do more yard work, but because it’s part of our prepping. Canning comes next.)

So as preppers, we live aware that tomorrow may be different from today, determined to live as well as we can in that day and ready for whatever that tomorrow looks like. That sounds wise to me. That’s a lifestyle I can be happy with today and tomorrow.

I’m aware, though, that I often get distracted by bright shiny objects – whatever new and interesting thing crosses my path in a given day or week. To help keep ourselves on track, we’re preparing a 2014 Prepper’s Calendar. Watch for it early next week.

Female Holding HandgunI am an ordained minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Scripture refers to it as the Gospel of peace (Romans 10:15, Ephesians 6:15). I am called, as are all believers, to the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). God has made it clear to me that my purpose in life, through writing, preaching and teaching, is to create an environment in which people can grab hold of the grace God has for them each day. I blog regularly pursuing that purpose at www.ApprehendingGrace.com. While I am not a pastor, I preach about three times a month urging myself and others to love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love their neighbor as they love themselves.

When I began to consider using lethal force to defend myself or a loved one against someone threatening to do severe bodily harm, headlines like this ran through my mind: “Assailant Killed by Local Minister.” I wasn’t very comfortable with that headline. Of course, I don’t think I’d be comfortable with any headline that said I had killed someone. The more I thought about it, the more I realized some of my friends who would have a whole lot more trouble with it than others. While I am generalizing, I’ve found that my “suburban” friends would be less accepting than my “country” friends. In the country (which I currently live on the outskirts of), protecting oneself and one’s property is much more accepted.

But I didn’t want to base my position on what my friends and others would think. I needed to answer this question for myself: “Is it OK for a Christian to use lethal force in self defense?”

If you choose to own guns for self defense, get training. We say that in nearly every blog about guns. What doesn’t get said as often is this: If you choose to own guns for self defense, be sure you are emotionally prepared to use them. Any hesitation caused by uncertainty when facing an assailant can give him an opportunity to do you great harm. Yes, you must hesitate to be absolutely sure of your target and what is beyond it, but you must not hesitate about the ethics of your action in that last moment. That means you must wrestle with it now, before you are in the situation. Experts agree: If you can’t shoot to kill, don’t carry a gun.

Questions to Consider
I’m going to ask some questions for you to consider and I’ll tell you the answers I’ve come up with. Please know that in no way am I casting judgment on you if your answer is different from mine. I’m just providing the questions as points for you to consider. Additionally, I’m consistently using a male pronoun to refer to the assailant. I am not saying that all assailants are men. I’m simply avoiding using the clumsy construction of he/she and him/her. So, on to the points to consider:

  • Emotionally, can I shoot someone who is intent on harming me? Yes, I believe I can. If the situation is one of my life or his, I believe I have the instinct and will to live that allows and enables me to shoot an assailant. That may not be the answer all of you come up with. If your answer is “no,” let me ask a secondary question: Emotionally, can you shoot someone who is intent on harming your spouse, parents or children? Many who say they cannot save their own life say they can save other family members. If you can save your child’s life, can you voluntarily allow that child to grow up without you in their life? To choose not to save yourself can mean that your parents lose a child, your spouse becomes a widow/widower and your children lose a parent.
  • Is protecting myself from death or bodily harm, consistent with my Christian faith? There are many ways to approach this question and this is by no means a full Biblical treatment of the subject. Let me start by asking some similar questions.
    • Is it a sin for a policeman to kill someone who has a gun pointed at me? If the answer to that is “no,” – that is, a policeman can protect my life – how can it be a sin for me to protect my own life or the life of a loved one?
    • Do I have a moral obligation to protect those whom God has placed under my protection, for example, my children? Again, if the answer to that is “yes,” how can it not be a sin for me to kill someone intent on killing them but a sin to kill someone intent on killing me?

When faced with a decision about whether or not to kill someone intent on taking my life, it’s important to frame the situation properly. I didn’t set up the situation – I didn’t decide that someone should die. Rather, I decided that I would not be a victim. In the normal course of life, that is not a sin. In the normal course of life, we are not called to die simply because someone wants to kill us. There may be times in our lives when we are called upon to sacrifice our life for the good of the Gospel. That is a different situation and assumes that God has called us to such a purpose.

Dealing with Difficult Scriptures
The following passage follows a heading that reads “Teaching About Revenge” in my New Living Translation of the Bible. The heading in my King James Version reads “He Exhorts us to Suffer Wrong.”

38“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”
Matthew 5:38-42 (NIV)

One important thing to note at the onset is that Jesus isn’t dealing with the possibility of death in any of these situations.

  • In verses 38 Jesus is referring to the Old Testament law, which was often practiced without grace and forgiveness. Yes, you have the right to take someone’s eye if they gouge yours out.
  • But when being insulted (which is what verse 39 refers to – a slap on the cheek was an extreme insult in the culture), we’re to let that to roll off our backs. We’re not to retaliate against the evil person who insults us.
  • Perhaps someone wants to sue you (verse 40). Let him – in fact, settle out of court by giving him more than he wants.
  • In New Testament times, Roman soldiers had the right to force a Jew to carry their load for up to a mile. You can imagine that the Jews deeply resented this. Again, this passage falls under the topic of revenge or suffering wrong. Jesus tells them to accept the rule of law and go beyond what is required (verses 41-42).

Each of these situations deals with where our heart is – are we being appropriately loving and submissive. None of them deal with threat of bodily harm or death.

There is a lot of killing in the Bible, and much of it is at the expressed command of God. I am not implying that God is telling me or you or anyone else to kill someone. I am saying that God allows killing of the unrighteous. If someone has approached me threatening to kill or maim me, that person has chosen to be the unrighteous. I am not the one who has made a decision that someone would die today. Rather, I am deciding that I will do my best to live.

I believe that God has a call on everyone’s life. We each have a choice whether or not we will pursue God’s calling. I am pursuing it to the best of my ability and with His grace.

Am I Trusting God?
A final argument that I had to address – if I chose to carry a gun for self defense, was I truly trusting my life to God? I can absolutely say “yes.” A million different things can happen during a confrontation that can affect the outcome. (OK, maybe not a million. Perhaps only 27,000.) If God is using some assailant to end my life because my numbered days have been fulfilled, then having a gun on my belt won’t make a difference in the outcome. Similarly, my gun might jam or I might freeze and I may still make it out alive. But I believe that I have a responsibility to care for myself and my family to the best of my ability while trusting God with the outcomes. I trust God to provide for my needs yet I go to work every day to pay for food, clothing and shelter. I trust God for my life and health, yet I pay for health insurance and I visit a doctor when needed. I also wear heavy clothes in the winter and try to avoid tainted food.

Yes, I’m trusting God. And I have a gun within arm’s reach as I sit here writing. And I pray I never have to use it.