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Hope & Faith

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.

StockRisingNon-preppers don’t get it. They think we’re wasting our time and our money. They think we live in constant fear of calamity. They think nothing will ever come of it and all of our preparations will be for nothing.

I respectfully disagree, but for more reasons than might be apparent. Whether TEOTWAWKI occurs during my lifetime or not, prepping has improved my life in numerous significant ways. Here are a few that come to mind:

Peace of Mind — We recently had lunch with a non-prepping friend who knows what we’ve been doing. While discussing current events and the potential threats they present, he said, “I couldn’t live like you, always worrying about all the problems that could happen.”

He is only half right. We think about these things often. But we don’t worry about them. Why? Because we are better prepared to face them than the average citizen. We are thinking three moves ahead and staying vigilant so we don’t get taken by surprise. We have supplies set aside for such events. We have skills and plans that we didn’t used to have. And above all else, Sandy and I don’t place our hope and trust in our equipment and our skills, but in God. Our trust in God isn’t Plan B, our last resort, but our first and foremost place of refuge. All of these — faith, knowledge, supplies, plans, and watchfulness — give us tremendous peace of mind, much more so than before we started prepping.

Our non-prepping friend brought up his apprehension about the instability of North Korea. He also talked about his fears concerning the vulnerability of our nation’s electrical grid. He knows the threats (these two, at least), and yet he has willfully chosen to do nothing to improve his ability to ride them out. He says that he wants to spend his time and money on things that help him enjoy his life. My preps make me significantly better prepared to deal with these kinds of threats, if they ever occur. Who do you think has greater peace of mind, him or me? What is peace of mind worth?

Greater Security — Our introduction to firearms has been written about many times in these pages. Next to storing food, learning gun safety and acquiring firearms were among the first preps that we did. (Notice that learning came before acquiring – that’s a good order to follow.) Being able to comfortably and competently handle firearms has provided both of us a greater sense of security. Home invasions are on the rise everywhere, but now we’re better prepared to defend our home and our lives if anyone chooses to target our house.

I’m More Healthy — I spend more time outside since I’ve become a prepper. That’s a good thing. I still don’t get as much exercise as I should, but I get more than I did before I started prepping. If the lights ever go off across America, there will be a lot more physical work to do. It’s wise to be in good shape to be ready to deal with it. I’m nowhere near being up to speed in this area, but I’m closer to it than I used to be.

Prepping led me to plant a garden two years ago. I started small but added to it last year, and this year’s garden will be even bigger. I grow my vegetables organically, so my garden enables me to eat better than I used to.

One of Sandy’s new areas of prepping expertise is with essential oils. She has used essential oils to treat congestion, insomnia, sore muscles, and wounds, all of which lead to better health. We also routinely diffuse healthy essential oils in our bedroom and living room. We’re helping our body fight off all the bad stuff before it reaches critical mass.

Research shows that as we age, learning new things is important for our ongoing mental health. Consistent training has prolonged effects on the brain, improving our memory and impacting our ability to do everyday tasks. Well, I’m learning lots of new things, so my brain cells are getting their exercise regularly! And one of the great things about prepping is that there is always more to learn.

Closer Marriage Relationship — I’ve read a lot of questions on prepper forums and message boards about how to get your spouse to join in your prepping efforts. (These aren’t all men. There are a lot of prepping women whose husbands don’t agree with their activities.) I feel their pain. It must be terrible to be divided on such a critical issue. Fortunately, that isn’t the case in our household. The need to get prepared was impressing itself on me in numerous ways over the course of several months before I ever said anything to Sandy about it. I’m incredibly blessed that her reaction almost immediately was, “You’re absolutely right. What should we do about it?” She has been a full partner in all of our prepping efforts, leading the way in many of them. For example, it was Sandy’s idea to start this blog so that we could help get the word out to others who are considering prepping or are just getting started with it.

Partnering with your spouse in any significant endeavor brings you closer together. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says:

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Sandy and I have always been blessed with a good marriage, but prepping has brought us even closer. We plan and work and learn and grow together. We see the importance of what we’re doing and we do it together. I’ll allow for the possibility that Sandy may not be the best wife in the world, but she’s the best one for me.

It Makes Me a Better Citizen — There are different ways to approach prepping. Some people do it to provide for themselves and their loved ones to the exclusion of all others. I won’t fault that approach, but I don’t follow it myself. We have voluntarily violated OPSEC (operational security) by writing this blog. We publish information on the Internet about products that we’ve bought to become prepared for hard times ahead. I’m not saying that everyone should do this — in fact, I would caution against it. Practicing good OPSEC and not spilling the beans (so to speak) to the world about all of your plans and preparations is a very good thing. But I would encourage you to leave room in your heart and in your preps to help others during a time of hardship.

Sandy and I prayed about starting this blog before we ever started broadcasting it to the world. We recognize the fact that we can’t become prepared enough to go it on our own if things get really bad. We just can’t do it all. I can’t be a mechanic and a farmer and a construction worker and a doctor and an infantryman and everything else that I would need to survive a real hard crash. I need a community. As such, I’ve taken some steps in my preps to provide for some of the needs of other people. One example that is near to my heart is the spiritual needs of others. When things get bad, many people turn to God, but knowledge of God isn’t as prevalent in our society today as it was a generation or two ago. So I have included in my storage cases of inexpensive Bibles and New Testaments that I will be able to give out to friends and neighbors when they decide that they want them. Sandy writes another blog, www.ApprehendingGrace.com, that talks about integrating our faith in Christ with our everyday lives. These are a couple of the ways that we want to be able to help support those around us when calamity strikes. We want to be a part of the solution, not a part of a problem.

Prepping has led me to become a better citizen in some broader ways, as well. I’m more ecologically aware and sensitive now than I ever have been before. I might need to rely on a nearby stream for drinking water at some time down the road. I don’t want to see it polluted or the water table depleted. I want to make sustainability a priority. I want to incorporate more solar energy into my home. These are things that help make the world a cleaner and better place than we found it, and that’s good citizenship. Prepping did that for me.

Convenience — Yeah, what could possibly be more convenient than being a prepper, right? But prepping really has made my life more convenient in at least a couple of significant ways. First, following the Boy Scout motto of “be prepared,” I now carry more stuff with me than I used to. My Mom lived like a prepper. Seems like anytime we were out and needed some small item, she’d rummage around in her purse for a minute and then produce the very thing that we needed (or a reasonable facsimile). Taking a cue from Mom, now when I’m out and about, I might not have everything I need to deal with every possible situation, but I’m better equipped than before with tools, pocket knife, flashlight, etc.

Another example is with my food preps. Following the dictate of “store what you eat and eat what you store,” I tend to not run out of things anymore. I have more of whatever I need in my storage pantry. It’s like having a grocery store in my own house. You can’t beat that for convenience.

The Bottom Line — Being a prepper hasn’t been a drain on my life and resources, it’s enhanced both. It doesn’t make me more anxious, it gives me peace of mind. It helps me be a better version of myself. And that’s a good thing.

As preppers, we believe that is highly likely that life as we know it is going to be interrupted – it’s going to go crazy. We might not agree on what will cause that craziness, but we prepare so that when it happens we’re among the less crazy people.

At TheApproachingDayPrepper.com, we want to always remember that the first and best preparation is spiritual. I posted a blog today at ApprehendingGrace.com about staying grounded in God.

My life has been crazy over the past couple of months. As it begins to return to normal, I am enjoying routines that ground me – dissipate the negative energy of the world and refresh and recharge me with positive energy from God. I’m also recognizing the importance of those activities that we maintain in times of chaos that keep us grounded.

Friends, if we don’t learn to stay grounded before chaos ensues, we’ll be hard-pressed to develop patterns that keep us grounded in the midst of chaos. Check out my blog on ApprehendingGrace.com for symptoms of needing to be grounded and ways to accomplish it.

a cord of two strands is not easily brokenI was listening to the radio in the car today and caught a snippet of a message by Chuck Swindoll. The title of it was “1 + 1 = Survival.” That will get a prepper’s attention! I only caught a couple of minutes of it, but it was enought to inspire this total rip-off of Chuck’s message. Thanks, Chuck.

Chuck’s was teaching from the book of Ecclesiastes, one of the “wisdom books” in the Bible. Bible scholars attribute much of Ecclesiastes to Israel’s King Solomon, who was reportedly the wisest man who ever lived. Wise, but not perfect. He screwed up a lot, but he learned from his mistakes. I’m glad he had the humility to share his mistakes and the lessons he learned from them with posterity.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible translation)

Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. 10 For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. 11 Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm? 12 And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.

Trying to go it alone isn’t wise. It’s not easy, either, as you well know if you’ve been trying to do it all by yourself. America was built upon the concept of “rugged individualism,” but that doesn’t mean isolation from others. Your survivability will increase if you can find even one other like-minded person to band together with you.

Prepping can be a lonely pursuit. I recently saw a stat that said it’s estimated that somewhere around 3 million people in America are prepping for a coming emergency. Think of it — millions of preppers! It sounds like a lot, until you consider that there are over 300 million people in America right now. That reduces the stat to just 1 in 100. One percent. And how many of those are really pursuing it as actively as you are? Being a part of a prepper community, even if it’s just a community of two, can help you stay focused and fill in the gaps in your preps.

“If either falls, his companion can lift him up.”

Ecclesiastes points out the benefits of being in a mutually committed partnership. Falling can be a metaphor for a lot of things — failing, becoming discouraged, giving up, or literally being physically unable to do something by yourself. Having a committed partner to help you up when you’re down can be the difference between achieving your goals or joining the ranks of the 99% who aren’t prepared. The 99% not only won’t have the resources or inclination to help you in an emergency, they’ll be coming to you for help. And they’re also to likely be the ones who discourage you from prepping now. Having a committed partner is good, but it’s even better to be a committed partner for others. Living out that kind of character will get you through situations that you wouldn’t think possible until you’re tested.

“If two lie down together, they can keep warm.”

This isn’t about cuddling or sleeping together. This is about synergy. There is an efficiency that comes from partnership. A team of two can accomplish more than two individuals working separately could ever do. Is it possible to do a lot of things alone? Sure, but it’s much easier when you have a helping hand. It also tends to be more fun.

“If someone overpowers one person, two can resist him.”

There’s safety in numbers, even if the number is only two. We all need someone to watch our back. We all have blind spots that others see in us, but that we don’t know about. That’s why they’re called blind spots. Having a trusted partner to clue us in on what we’re not seeing is a real plus. It requires humility and a teachable spirit on our part, and it requires gentleness and tact on the part of the one bringing the correction. (Note: If gentleness and tact don’t move your partner in the right direction, try a swift kick in the pants. One or the other should do it. Different strokes for different folks.) And of course this passage could also be literally applied to the area of personal security. By myself, I could be an easy target for those with bad intentions. It’s nice to have a wingman. I’ve got to sleep sometime. I need someone to stand guard while I’m getting some shut-eye.

“A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”

If two is good, then finding a third like-mind, committed prepping partner is the hot-diggity bomb. One or two people still have to do it all themselves. Bring more committed folks on board and you can start to specialize. Capitalize upon one another’s strengths and expertise. Do more of the stuff that you really like to do and do it better. You’ll still have to do some nasty tasks that no one wants to do (and it will inevitably feel like you do more of them than anyone else), but being part of a unit will supercharge your preps. Shoot, you might even qualify for bulk discounts when you buy supplies.

In a subtle way, Scripture is nudging us toward inviting God to be our “third strand.” Faith can be a strong motivator. It can give you a sense of purpose that transcends the struggles of this life and reaches into eternity. It can teach you to persevere against overwhelming odds. Scripture teaches us that through faith in God, “one can put a 1,000 to flight, and two can put 10,000 to flight.”

Where are the preppers?

So how do you go about finding like-minded folks in your area? It’s not easy. I drop an occasional vague comment about something related to prepping in casual conversations (striving to maintain some degree of OPSEC and to not look like a card-carrying member of the Tinfoil Hat Society) and see if anyone takes the bait. To be quite honest, I haven’t gotten good results with that approach, but I still feel like it’s worth trying.

So how else can you hook up with like-minded folks? Here are some web sites that can help:

  • PrepperGroups.com/  Prepper groups and only prepper groups. Or people who want to find or form a prepper group. There’s a box near the top left corner that says “Preppers by location”. Right under that you can click on “Select category” to open up a drop down box of locations across the U.S. and around the world.
  • AmericanPreppersNetwork.net/  Besides having a forum that is a wealth of information, there is a map on the home page where you can select Prepper Meetup Groups and it will display what they have listed in your area. I didn’t find some of the groups that I located through PrepperGroups.com/ here, so I don’t know what their criteria is, but it’s worth a shot.
  • Meetup.com/find/   This site isn’t just for preppers, but you might be able to find prepper groups in your area on it. Just enter your zip code and the number of miles you’re willing to travel to meet-up with folks and it will do the rest for you. They list all kinds of groups, so you can specify “prepper” in the search box to narrow it down to just those. They have lots of groups for all kinds of non-prepper related special interests, if you’re into something else. My wife and I participate in a number of meet-ups, some for business and blogging, others just for fun.

Finally, stick around. We hope to form our own virtual prepper community through this blog soon. No telling who you might meet.

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19 (NIV)

It’s easy to become fearful as we begin to prepare for a day when life is no longer as it is today. We can look at all the experts say we should do to prepare and see how little we have prepared. And if we’re not careful, fear can creep into our hearts. When you are tempted to become anxious, do two things:

Remind yourself: Our hope is in God, not our preparations. Our hope is in the Lord. Yes, we prepare, just as we buy car insurance – for that time when things don’t go as planned. But our hope is in the Lord.

Remind yourself: God is faithful and He provides for our needs. He is good. A good way to do that is to remember the times He’s been good to you and read about times He’s been good to others. Here’s an update from a ministry to orphans in Mozambique. I was so blessed and instructed by this testimony. Most of us have our daily needs met many times over. In Mozambique, Bush Bunny Brenda (BBB) ministers in true life and death situations regularly. She can’t just go out and buy what she needs. Often, she is truly dependent on the Lord to provide. Let her story bless you and encourage that God will provide in your time of need.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From the 4/19/2013 Bush Beat Blog, the ministry update of Bush Bunny Brenda Lange

CALLING IN THE BEANS

A TEACHABLE MOMENT

Might sound a bit weird to some of you, but the Lord Jesus tells us in the Bible to ASK ANYTHING IN HIS NAME, and it shall be done as long as we do not ask amiss.

WE ASKED for beans for our orphans, and God is answering in a very unusual way.

THE NEED IS FOR 100 TONS of beans if we are to help the 2,800 orphans that are registered in our program.

Capena, our Project Manager visited the 6 villages that “ordinarily” are able to grow the ENTIRE 100 TONS. It was a bit disturbing when his report showed that they “might” have 10 tons to sell. Too much rain is the culprit, as most of the crops drowned.

THEN GOD STEPPED IN to surprise me with the fruit of my teachings from last year.

Yesterday, the 2 Pastors from the villages of Namara and Pequaria came to tell us that their church members, along with some of the villagers, had almost 21 tons they could sell! This is not a normal growing area for beans, so this took us all by surprise!

When I was teaching in Namara last November (planting time), I showed those members how to walk their fields PRAYING as they planted. Their prayer was to be very specific—ASKING JESUS TO BLESS THEIR FIELD WITH A 100 FOLD HARVEST as they planted their seeds. From these reports it is obvious, they did just that!

WOW, to go from a normal harvest of just enough to feed their families to a SURPLUS of over 21 tons is truly a blessing of the Lord.

My objective when teaching was to help them achieve a maximum harvest that would sustain their family and give them extra to sell.

I had no idea it would be OUR ORPHANS who would benefit from their obedience and the blessing that God placed on them.

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What a God we serve! I’m so thankful we can trust Him to provide for our needs when life is going awry. Our hope is in God!

If you would like to donate to Orphans Unlimited, you can do so on their website or by sending gifts to:

ORPHANS UNLIMITED, INC.
11152 WESTHEIMER RD., PMB 391
HOUSTON, TX 77042