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Monthly Archives: July 2013

Prepping is all in your head. Well, not all in your head, but more so than you may think. There are still issues of having clean water to drink, food to eat, and so forth. But I’ve seen these maxims repeated many times in my reading about preparedness:

  • Survival isn’t so much about what you carry in your backpack as it is what you carry in your head (not to mention that the stuff you carry in your head tends to be a bit lighter and easier to lug around)
  • Survival isn’t so much about the supplies that you’ve accumulated as it is about the skills that you’ve learned
  • Survival oftentimes comes down to a mindset and determination that you will go on, regardless of the obstacles that you are facing

Training your mind by learning and practicing new skills, and developing new attitudes or perspectives may get you through more tough times than a sack of rice and a can of beans.

Interestingly, the Bible teaches the same thing.

Sandy and I lead a weekly Bible study at a nursing home. We’re currently going through the book of 1st Peter. The author of this short epistle is the same Peter who was one of Jesus’ apostles and first disciples. He wrote this letter about 30 years after Jesus’ resurrection to address a serious concern that had arisen in the Christian community. The Roman emperor at that time was a fellow named Nero. Nero didn’t like Christians. He forced Christian men to become gladiators and fight to the death in the Coliseum. He had Christian women and children thrown to starving lions to be mauled to death and eaten, also as a public spectacle for the entertainment of the masses. When he hosted garden parties, he had Christians covered in hot tar, then lashed to stakes and set ablaze (while alive) to serve as torches to light the patio.

Nero didn’t like Christians. To Nero, “Christian” = “criminal”. Anything and everything that went wrong, from litter in the streets to the burning of Rome, was blamed on Christians. Persecution of Christian believers was harsh and it was spreading. Peter wrote his first epistle to address this issue. How should a believer respond to these attacks?

Peter’s first prescription for dealing with the coming persecution was, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action” (1 Pet. 1:13, NIV). He skips over stockpiling food, water, guns and ammo, and goes straight to mindset. Prepare your minds for action.

The translation of this passage found in the old King James Bible is more picturesque: “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind.” In biblical times, men wore long robes. That was fine for walking into town or sitting around telling stories, but when you had to spring into action, those long robes could get in the way. They needed to grab the excess fabric and tuck it into their waistband to shorten the robe and get it out of the way. This is how men prepared themselves to run or go into battle.

Peter tells us that the first step toward surviving persecution is to prepare our minds for action. So what mental preparations do we need to make?

  • “Be self-controlled” (1 Pet. 1:13, NIV). No further commentary or direction is given to this command. It’s assumed to be self-explanatory. Our thoughts and the actions that spring from them are to be deliberate and planned. We shouldn’t be operating out of knee-jerk reactions, but from pre-determined resolve.
  • “Come to a final decision to place your hope on the grace which is going to be brought to you at the revealing of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:13, Wm. Barclay’s translation). Two issues here.
    • The first is to stop straddling the fence when it comes to our faith in Jesus Christ. We can’t successfully “gird up the loins of our mind” if we’re wishy-washy on this core tenet of faith. I’ve bet it all on Jesus Christ as being my Savior. I’ve gone “all in.” I’m not counting on Jesus some of the time, or hoping for Jesus plus something else. When I meet Saint Peter (Yes! The same guy who wrote this letter!) at the pearly gates and he asks me why I should be let into Heaven, my only answer will be because of what Jesus Christ did for me.
    • The second point of this passage is that we aren’t supposed to place our hope in this world and this life, but in the one to come, when Jesus Christ returns. Persecution was coming to believers and was already well underway. People were losing their jobs because of being unwilling to renounce their Christian faith or to worship the emperor as a god by making a token sacrifice to him. Homes and property were being confiscated by the government. Families were being separated and believers were being hauled off to prison for their faith. The proper mindset in that set of circumstances is to not place our hope in this world and this life, but in the life that is promised to us when Christ returns.
  • “Be holy in all that you do” (1 Pet. 1:15, NIV). The best definition of “holy” is “different from” or “other than.” The Holy Bible is different from all other books. God is “holy” because He is not like anything thing or anyone else. We, too, as believers, are supposed to be distinct from the world around us. We’re not supposed to be just like everyone else. A key principle of prepper OPSEC (operational security) is to become “gray” – to blend into the background and not be noticed by the world. There is a degree of wisdom there, and undoubtedly at time when that is called for. But a Christian should still be distinct and different from the world around him through his beliefs, attitudes, and actions – all these things spring from mindset.
  • “Love one another deeply” (1 Pet. 1:22, NIV). Love is a verb. It’s an “action” word. Love isn’t a sentiment. It’s a commitment, a purpose, and a sacrifice. You offer and risk something of value to yourself to love another. Love doesn’t always pay off. Your act of love may be rejected, misunderstood, or taken advantage of. But don’t give up. Don’t stop loving. Love one another deeply. Profoundly. Lastingly.

Mindset is the key to survival. In 1941, during the devastating air raids of the Second World War, Winston Churchill addressed the student body of a school that he had attended and shared these words with them:

“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy…These are not dark days; these are great days—the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.”

Arm yourself with the right mindset. Prepare your mind for what may come and you’ll be miles ahead when it arrives.

Full PantryOne of the preparations we’ve made that makes me feel more comfortable is having a well-stocked pantry. I know that if we lost our income or the world went crazy, Phil and I could easily eat from our pantry for several months. We also have long-term storage food, but our pantry assures me that when an emergency occurs, I have a window of time during which life won’t be normal, but it won’t be totally chaotic either.

I call it grocery-store prepping – buying and storing multiples of the things that we like and use so that we have a well-stocked pantry that we can eat from for an extended period of time. The products I’ll identify below have relatively long shelf-lives – often several years. Obviously, that’s not “long-term” storage food, which we also recommend that you have, (you can read about different kinds of foods for long-term storage here), but investing in long-term storage food often requires a significant cash outlay. By comparison, adding to my stockpile of chunky soup can cost as little as $1.50 a can.

I’m happy to have a rotating supply of food that I’m familiar with and that is easy to prepare. AND, I can buy them a little at a time or go hog-wild when they’re on sale.

So what kinds of items are great for grocery-store prepping? The short answer is anything with a shelf life of a couple of years or more. But how about more details than that?

I break my grocery-store prepping list into five categories. Here’s a sample list:

Canned Goods

  • Soups (both for cooking and for eating) – In a pinch, you can eat them without heating them. (The non-condensed ones, at least.) They’re also great for stretching or adding flavor to other foods. Soup over rice or pasta makes a flavorful, filling meal that is economical and uses relatively little fuel to make.
  • Vegetables – We don’t eat many canned vegetables in our house, but I’ll be glad to have some when fresh is no longer available
  • Fruits – Ditto.
  • Beans – High in fiber and protein, good for you, and cheap. Can also be eaten without cooking. Stock up on a variety of different types.
  • Meats – Don’t just limit yourself to tuna. Try salmon, chicken, and if you’re brave you can go for the “little fishes” – sardines or herring. Phil loves them. But then, Phil genuinely loves Spam, too. I try to avoid them.
  • Peanut Butter – High in protein and calories with a shelf-life of two years. It’s good to have peanut butter around in an emergency.
  • Spaghetti Sauce – Goes on sale frequently. Stock up. You know you’ll use it.

Boxed Foods

  • Mac-n-Cheese – It’s comfort food in most households, and comfort food is important.
  • Rice and noodle side dishes.
  • Couscous – If you’ve never had it, give it a try. It’s a form of pasta that cooks very quickly.
  • Brownie or other dessert mixes – You’ll want some dessert foods if the lights go out. Buy mixes that require only water added.

Paper Products

  • Toilet paper
  • Facial tissues
  • Paper towels
  • Paper plates
  • Napkins

Personal Care and First Aid Items

  • Shampoo
  • Soap
  • Feminine products
  • Band-Aids
  • First aid creams and medicines
  • Allergy medicine, if you use it
  • Aspirin

You can do a lot of prepping by adding a few items to your grocery list every week. Watch for sales and save. Our neighborhood Big Lots had a 20% off sale recently. We spent $60 and bought bags and bags of food that will go on our shelves. When products we like are on sale, we often buy them by the case.

The food in our pantry is food we eat, so at any given point in time you won’t find all the categories full. But when a shelf begins to get empty, we watch for sales or simply begin buying two of an item when we need it. You’ll find that your shelves fill up pretty quickly.

Happy shopping!

Retro pressure cookerAre you stocking up on dried beans in anticipation of hard times to come? Me, too. Dried beans are nearly perfect prepper food. They store well, they’re versatile in recipes, they’re high in protein and fiber while being low in fat, and they’re crazy tasty. Nearly perfect.

Nearly. But not quite.

The downside of dried beans is that it takes a long time to cook them. Long cooking times generally means lots of energy consumption. Preppers are all about energy conservation, so the challenge becomes finding ways to cook foods that require long cooking times without burning huge amounts of energy. There are a number of good solutions to this problem, but if you took the time to read the title of this posting you’ve probably been waiting for me to stop beating around the bush and get to the topic of pressure cookers.

Your patience has been rewarded.

Pressure cookers are old school, but you may have noticed that a lot of prepping skills are old school. When it comes to prepping, we all need to “unplug” and step away from the gadgets (says the guy who’s writing this blog on his laptop while watching satellite TV on his HD big-screen). But I digress.

Pressure cookers cook slow foods really quickly. Pinto beans cook in 12 minutes. Compare that to anywhere from one to three hours of cooking in a conventional pot. Lentils are ready to eat in just 7 minutes.

Sandy asked what I was writing about and said, “What do you know about pressure cookers?” The true answer is “not much,” but I’m about to get a lot smarter because I’m about to read this awesome infographic that I downloaded from They have graciously given permission for this excellent graphic to be used on our humble site. Be prepared to be entertained while you’re being educated.


“It is impossible to rightly govern the world
without God and the Bible.”

George Washington

This quote, often attributed to George Washington may or may not have actually been said by him. Whether or not, it seems that it is an accurate composite of many statements made in a variety of speeches.

We find ourselves, from time to time, being governed by people who do not adhere to God’s ways and His expressed standards. We are led by fallible people who, even if they are best intentioned, are sinners – as are you and I.

A missionary visit our church about a year ago and she cited these statistics:

  • 250,000 Christians are martyred for their faith each year based on a military intelligence source.
  • 171,000 Christians are martyred for their faith each year based on reporting in the magazine Christianity Today.
  • Therefore during a typical church service, 30,000 people are being martyred!

Wow! If you are blessed to be a believer living in the United States, there’s a good chance that:

  1. You didn’t know these statistics; and
  2. You’ve been complaining a lot lately about how our country is sliding away from faith and embracing activities and lifestyles that are not consistent with God’s Word.

Yes, as a country, we have been in moral decline for many, many years. And yet, we still have more religious freedom and less persecution than most countries in the world. Perhaps we ought to be doing less complaining and more praying and repenting.

I read the book of Amos this week and was struck by how many of the judgments against Israel we are experiencing as a nation. Read Amos chapter 4 particularly and consider our weather patterns, the terrorist attacks against our nation, the wars in which we are losing brave young men and women, and the divisiveness that characterizes much of our national discourse.

I believe we are experiencing the beginning judgment of God and are drawing ever nearer to the serious judgment of God.

On this fourth of July, this day to celebrate the birth of our nation, take some time to:

  1. Remember and pray for those around the world who live in countries who actively persecute those who call on the name of Christ.
  2. Praise God for the blessings of this country.
  3. Pray that we would return to being a nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Remember that Christ set us free to become slaves of righteousness (Romans 6). Praise God for your freedom – both from sin and for living in a free country – and step into your role as salve of righteousness or slave of God. Pray, in humility and brokenness for the United States – that we would return to God – and live in submission to God’s ways. The continuation of our nation as a place where we are free to worship the One True God is at stake. God has made it clear that it is His people who must humble themselves, pray, seek His face and turn from their (our) wicked ways. Only then will He turn toward us, make His face to shine upon us, forgive our sins and heal our land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Celebrate the 4th of July thinking about more than barbeques and parades – and enjoy both yourself, your country and your God.

WARNING! The video in this posting is graphic and disturbing. Even though it was broadcast on TV, we feel that it is not suitable for young viewers.

I don’t know if you saw this video, but a home in New Jersey was recently invaded by an unarmed assailant in broad daylight. The invasion wasn’t some middle of the night robbery. This happened at 10:30 in the morning. A woman was home with her 3-year-old child, opened the door for a stranger, and was beaten, stomped, choked, and flung down a flight of stairs. It was all captured on a hidden nanny-cam. As I warned, the video is disturbing. The perpetrator of this brutal crime has not, as of this writing, been apprehended.

Home invasions are among the most violent of all crimes. Criminals use the privacy and security of their victims’ home to their advantage. Once the occupants have been subdued, there’s no rush on the part of the criminals to finish their business and leave. They can be leisurely in their commission of the atrocities of assault, robbery, rape, and murder.

Don’t let this happen to you or your loved ones. Don’t be an easy target. Decide in advance not to be a victim.

When anyone rings my doorbell or knocks on my door, they’ve just put me on high alert. My first thought isn’t, “Oh boy! I wonder what the UPS man brought me today!” (OK, that’s my second thought.) My first thought is that an unexpected and uninvited person (or persons) is standing at the threshold of my home with who knows what purpose in mind.

I’m going to let you in on a secret. In my house, the only time I don’t have a loaded gun on me is when I’m taking a shower. And even then, a loaded and chambered gun is just five feet away. When someone comes to my door, I’m already prepared. I’m not going to be taken by surprise. So Lesson #1 is don’t go to the door unprepared. The woman in this video had no time to react after she opened the door. Her assailant was on her instantly. There was no time to retrieve a gun from another room, load it, and be mentally prepared to use it, if need be. Those actions and attitudes have to be in place before the decision is made to answer the door.

If you call me on the phone, I may or may not answer. It’s not that I’m screening my calls. It’s just that I don’t feel an obligation to respond to every unexpected and uninvited ringing bell. The same applies to a knock on my door. If I don’t feel like it, I won’t answer it. So Lesson #2 is that you don’t have to be at anyone’s beck and call. Deal with these unexpected interruptions on your own terms. Don’t be as predictable as Pavlov’s dog. Don’t answer the door if you don’t feel like it, especially if you see someone at the door that you don’t recognize. If the woman in the New Jersey invasion hadn’t opened her door to this stranger, he might have gone on to an easier target.

Whether you open the door or not, don’t assume that the unwanted visitor has actually gone away after you’ve either ignored them or dealt with them. Your failure to answer the door might signal to them that there’s nobody home and the house is available to be broken into. Lesson #3 is to stay on alert after the visitor leaves. If you’re hinky about someone, call the police and report them as a suspicious person. The police will come and check it out for you. Your tax dollars at work.

I don’t want to make you paranoid, but the knock on the door might just be a diversion. The guy at your front door may be posing as a salesman to distract you while his partner sneaks in by another entry point. Lesson #4 is to be alert to the possibility of a diversion or distraction that can give an invader an opportunity.

When I grew up, we didn’t always lock our front door at night. Drivers would leave their keys in the ignition of their car when they went into a store. Those kinds of behaviors are wildly out of place today. Evil is on the rise. Crime is much more prevalent. Despite that, our tendency to trust strangers and to give them unwanted access to our lives hasn’t caught up with the times.

I wish times were like they used to be, but I know in my heart that they’re not. I don’t see things getting any better, either. Trust has to be earned. I don’t trust the stranger at my front door.

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