Saturday, May 28, 2016

Patriots' Prayers for 5-29-2016

"If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." --2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV)

Pray For the United States of America

Our Father in heaven, have mercy upon these United States of America, according to Your lovingkindness and tender mercies. Blot out our transgressions, cleanse us of our sins. We acknowledge our transgressions, our many sins against You: We have allowed our God-given liberties to be taken away by our politicians and leaders. We have allowed Your Word and commandments to be banned from our public squares. We have allowed prayer to be eliminated from our schools. We have allowed Your place in our nation’s history to be erased from our textbooks and our minds. We have allowed the epidemics of abortion, pornography, and sexual immorality to fester out of control. We have allowed perversion, decadence, and depravity of all sorts to become public and commonplace.

As a nation, we have replaced the authority and perfection of Your Word with the whim of our own opinions for our standards of right and wrong. We no longer keep Your commandments, or follow Your teachings.

We confess these and all our sins to You and ask forgiveness for ourselves and our nation. Bring us to a state of true repentance - a returning to You - as both individuals and as a nation. We confess Your lordship over every aspect of our lives and our nation. Help us to follow You once again. Restore your mercy and blessings to these United States of America, and re-establish a hedge of protection around us. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.

Special Prayer Request

Not all of the Americans being held by Iran have been released. Please pray for God's mercy and healing on the three Americans being held hostage in Iran. Pray for them to have the courage and strength they need to survive their ordeal. Pray that their captivity quickly come to an end, and that they return safely home very soon. Pray also for God to provide comfort and mercy to their families and friends.

  • Robert Levinson - now 68, went missing while in Iran in 2007. In 2010, his family received proof that he was still alive and being held prisoner. According to the AP, there is reason to believe that Levinson, a former FBI and DEA agent, was working undercover for the CIA at the time of his disappearance. 
  • Siamak Namazi - an Iranian-American businessman arrested in late October of 2015 while visiting relatives in Tehran. Details of his arrest are sketchy, and any charges have not been made public. However, it appears he was arrested by the intelligence division of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, and apparently is being held in Evin prison.
  • Baquer Namazi - the 80-year-old father of Siamak Namazi, was arrested in February, and is reportedly being held in the same prison as his son. Baquer Namazi is a dual US-Iranian citizen.  

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Prepping without Homesteading or Guns???

An acquaintance of mine, who knows I'm into "prepper stuff," recently asked me about how to start prepping without having to get into "homesteading or guns." Both he and his wife are definitely city folks, and quite liberal (as evidenced by their Bernie Sanders bumper sticker on the back of their Prius). They aren't interested in "getting out of Babylon." They don't like guns. But even they are beginning to see the writing on the wall, as our current unsustainable system is lurching towards eventual collapse. They are wanting to do something to prepare, without going to what they see as an unhealthy extreme.

 I know this guy well enough to realize he was never going to trade in city life for rural or even small town life. And arguing the merits of guns with him would only result in my blood pressure getting dangerously high. So, I gave him some basic ideas for prepping without homesteading or guns, and wished him lots of luck. The following are the ideas I gave him, along with a few others I thought about later.

Prepping without Homesteading or Guns

1) Basic Common Sense Preparedness - Even folks who think that the government will always be there to take care of things should make certain basic preps to help them survive until they are recused by FEMA.
  • Make sure you have a working smoke/fire detector in your home. Keep the batteries fresh.
  • Have at least one all-purpose fire extinguisher.
  • Have a fully stocked first aid kit in your home. Carry another first aid kit in your vehicles.
  • Have a couple of good LED flashlights (don't forget extra batteries).
  • Have a good emergency radio (at a minimum it should have AM/FM/NOAA bands) that can run off of several power sources (possibilities: wall outlets, solar, regular batteries, rechargeable batteries, hand crank, etc.) 
  • Keep at least two weeks worth of food, water, and other basic supplies on hand, in case you cannot buy stuff at stores for a few weeks.
  • A month's worth of food, water and other basic supplies is even better.
  • Two months' worth of food, water, and other basic supplies is (well, you get the idea...).
  • Work on your health and fitness now. You will need them in an emergency. 
  • Even if you are not the DIY type, you should have a basic set of tools (see my article Basic Starter Tool Set). And I recommend everyone carry either a Swiss Army knife or a multi-tool (or both).  
  • Make some common sense financial preparations. Get out of debt. Spend less than you earn. Set aside an emergency fund. See my article Prepping 101: Finances - Get Back To Basics for a lot of great information on this topic. 
  • Keep several hundred dollars in cash in a safe, hidden place in your home. During an emergency, cash will likely retain some value for a time, but electronic means of getting and using cash may not be working (ATMs may be down, business may not be able to process credit cards/debit cards. etc.).

2) The Power is Out! - Electricity may go off completely, or at best be intermittent, during an extended collapse.
  • In case you lose power in the winter, make sure you have plenty of warm clothes, gloves, stocking caps, and blankets to keep warm. 
  • Make sure your home is well-insulated.
  • If you have a fireplace, make sure you have an entire winter's supply of wood ready at all times. And that's an entire winter's worth of constant use, not just a few times for fun, since it may be your main/only source of heat. Consider installing a wood stove. Consider getting a natural gas, kerosene, or propane heater (and learn how to safely use it, and safely store the extra fuel).
  • Make sure you have some foods stored that don't need to be cooked (many canned foods may be eaten cold if you have to...).
  • Alternative means of cooking food may include wood stoves, gas grills, charcoal grills, and various types of camp stoves. Learn how to use them safely before SHTF.
  • A solar camp shower is a way to heat water for bathing. Fill it up, hang it outside. When it has heated up, you can bring it inside to your shower to use.
  • If you use rechargeable batteries, get a solar recharging kit.
3) The Looters are Coming!! - Personal and home security is going to be difficult without a gun, but if you insist on being ruled by fear and misinformation, here are some non-gun security tips:
  • Don't make yourself a tempting target by wearing expensive, flashy clothes & accessories, or driving an expensive car.. Adopt a gray man disguise - look average, typical, unremarkable for where you live. Don't dress like you have a lot of money - avoid wearing expensive designer clothes, pocketbooks, jewelry, watches, etc.
  • Practice situational awareness. Always pay attention to your surroundings. Be wary of people who look out-of-place, are loitering, or who act nervous.
  • Avoid bad neighborhoods, seedy areas, red light districts, etc.
  • Go out in groups whenever possible. Park in highly visible, well-light locations. Always lock your car doors.
  • At home, replace exterior doors with heavy-duty security doors. Instead deadlocks, security chains, peeps holes, and use door stop alarms. Consider installing window bars or steel shutters. Planting roses or other thorny plants under windows may also help deter break-ins.
  • Everyone in your family should take a good self-defense course. A good self-defense course won't just cover self-defense, but also give info on avoiding dangerous situations.
4) I Gotta Get Out of Here!!! - Despite your unwillingness to admit how bad things might get in an long-term, grid-down collapse, the day might come where you realize your plan, to simply ride out the emergency until Big Gov recuses you, isn't going to work out. Here's what to do when you finally realize Big Gov doesn't give a damn about you:
  • Have a Plan B. You probably have a relative who lives in the country, or at least a small town, somewhere. You know- those "country bumpkin" relatives you make fun of behind their backs because they garden, hunt, fish, attend church, and drive a pick-up truck. You now need them to survive. Perhaps you can start mending fences with them now. Maybe even preposition some clothes, food, and supplies at their place, in case you ever do have to "bug out" to their place.
  • Another Plan B possibility is to buy a cabin or small home somewhere in the country. Call it a "vacation home" if you need to save face with your big city peers.
  • Know how to get to your plan B. You probably don't visit your country bumpkin relatives very often, so make sure you have a good set of directions and maps for how to get there. In addition to knowing the fastest and most direct route to your Plan B, you also need to figure out one or two alternative ways to get there, mostly using back roads, in case the main routes are unusable for some reason. Don't count on have a working smart phone, GPS device, or even Google Maps to guide you once the SHTF.
  • Keep your vehicle in good running condition. You don't want to have to bug-out in a vehicle that has bad tires, needs a brake job, or has a transmission that is giving you problems. See my article Preppers' Auto Maintenance Schedule.
  • Keep your vehicle fueled-up. You never know when you'll need to bug-out, or if gas stations will be open when you do. I constantly top off my vehicles, rarely letting them drop below 2/3 of a tank. 
  • Have some extra-gas on hand. Buy some five-gallon gas cans. If you can safely store gas at your home (not IN your home), then do so. If not, keep the empty cans on hand and fill them up when you suspect you may need them soon. Remember, gasoline goes "flat" (loses energy) after a period of time, so rotate your stored gas every few months. 
  • Keep an emergency car kit in your vehicle. Items to include include extra cans of oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid, jumper cables, fix-a-flat, flashlights (extra batteries), and other items you may need to keep your car running in an emergency. You may also wish to have some bottled water, food bars, blankets, and other items people may need on a long drive. Make sure you have a good spare tire (not the doughnut - a real tire) and jack/tire iron in your vehicle. If you have the room, you may even want a second spare tire.
  • Something to consider: The Stanley Amp Jump Starter with Built in Air Compressor 
  • Have a "bug-out" kit packed and ready to go for each person in your family. Items to include will depend on your circumstances, but some ideas include a change of clothes, hygiene items, personal first aid kit, flashlight, knife, bottled water, food, water purification tablets or personal water filter, compact survival kit (see my article Building a Compact Emergency Survival Kit).  Children should also have bug-out bags (smaller and age-appropriate, of course, but with some toys and other distractions).
  • Keep an INCH-bag ready. INCH stands for I'm Never Coming Back. This pack should contain items you will need or want in case you are never able to return to your home. Possibilities include birth certificates, marriage certificates, immunization & medical records, passports, financial records, genealogical records, irreplaceable family photos, and personal mementos. Consider maintaining a complete back-up of all computer and lap-tops hard-dives you own.
  • Don't forget about your pets. Keep a small bug-out bag ready for your dog or cat. Include water, collapsible water bowl, food, treats, and a toy or two. It might also be a good idea to keep a copy of their rabies vaccination and license number. There are also first aid kits and handbooks especially made for pets
Final Thought: Of course, I believe that building self-reliance (homesteading is a great way to do so) and having the ability and willingness to protect yourself and your family (guns) are a good idea that everyone should adopt. But, I realize that there are those that don't want to go that way, or for whatever reason cannot. I hope these ideas will help them.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Patriot's Prayers for 5-22-2016

On July 4, 1952, Conrad Hilton, founder of the Hilton Hotel chain, took out full page ads in several major magazines, offering the following Prayer for America. As true, and as needed, as Hilton's prayer was in 1952, it is even moreso today. Please pray this prayer with me throughout this week, making it our Prayer for America today.

OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN

WE PRAY that YOU save us from ourselves

The world that YOU have made for us, to live in peace,
we have made into an armed camp.
We live in fear of war to come.

We are afraid of "the terror that flies by
night, and the arrow that flies by day,
the pestilence that walks in darkness
and the destruction that wastes at noon-day"

We have turned from YOU to go our selfish way.
We have broken YOUR commandments
and denied YOUR truth. We have left YOUR altars
to serve the false gods of money and pleasure and power.

FORGIVE US AND HELP US

Now, darkness gathers around us and we are confused
in all our counsels. Losing faith in YOU,
we lose faith in ourselves.

Inspire us with wisdom, all of us of every color, race and creed,
to use our wealth, our strength to help our brother,
instead of destroying him.

Help us to do YOUR will as it is done in heaven
and to be worthy of YOUR promise of peace on earth.

Fill us with new faith, new strength and new courage,
that we may win the Battle for Peace.

Be swift to save us, dear God,
before the darkness falls.


In the ads, Hilton's prayer was preambled with this comment: 

AMERICA ON ITS KNEES  ......not beaten there by the hammer & sickle, but FREELY, INTELLIGENTLY, RESPONSIBLY, CONFIDENTLY, POWERFULLY America now knows it can destroy communism & win the battle for peace. We need fear nothing or no one......except GOD.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Are these "Black Holes" of personal finance stopping you from prepping?

I've been around the prepper/survivalist community for well over a decade now. The main issue I hear over and over again from many people is that lack of money is the main problem they have with getting prepared. It is true that stockpiling food and other supplies costs money, as does buying guns & ammo, and other gear. Moving to a better/safer place costs even more money. And setting up a homestead from scratch can be very expensive.

If you are having problems affording your preps, here are there "black holes" of personal fiance that may be to blame.  Examine these budget areas carefully, and you'll likely find a lot of savings, if your willing to sacrifice a little.

Telecommunications Expenses

 When I was a child (the 1970s) the only telecommunications expense my family, most families, had was the telephone and that was a land line, of course. TV programs were free over-the-air, and there was no Internet. Today, many families pay for a land line, multiple cell phones, texting privileges, special ringtones, cable or satellite TV subscriptions, extra movie channels, Internet connections, gaming and movie subscriptions (Netflix, etc.), special apps for their $500 smart phones, even satellite radio subscriptions. For most families major savings can be found in this budget category.

You simply don't have to have the latest version of your favorite smart phone. Nor do you really need the "all-inclusive" TV package with over 1000 channels (there's still likely to be nothing good own). And does everyone in your family really need a cell phone with the maximum (and most expensive) data and minutes package? Yes. They have made us addicted to our smart phones and other electronic devices. Maybe its time to overcome our addictions and spend our money on getting ready for the future instead of funding those million-dollar bonuses of telecom executives. 

Spending Cash/Pocket Money

The easiest money to spend is the money that is in your pocket. And spend it we do. Mostly on little things - sodas, snacks, and impulse items of all sorts. They are little expenses - fifty-cents here, a dollar there. But all those fifty-cent and dollar purchases add up to real money over time.

A great example is a guy I used to work with who constantly complained about not having any money. Every afternoon he would head down to the break room and buy a Pepsi and a Snickers bar from the vending machine. It was only a $1.75, but he spent that money five days a week. Over the course of a year, that adds up to almost $450.

Tips for Avoiding Impulse Purchases
  • Don't to pay attention to TV, radio, or print ads. Hit the mute button. or simply don't watch or read the ads. 
  • Don't watch infomercials or home shopping channels. Leave junk mail unopened. Recycle catalogs, flyers, and leaflets unread. 
  • Don't use shopping as a form of entertainment or a means to relax. 
  • Shop only with lists, and stick to them. 
  • Don't browse Amazon, eBay, or other Internet sites. Shop them the same way you would a physical store - with a list. 
  • Shop with cash only. Spending cash feels more real than using checks or credit cards, so you are apt to spend less. 
  • If you do find an item you think you can't do without, wait at least 24 hours before buying it. Chances are the impulse will pass.
Entertainment and Eating Out

We all have busy schedules, and eating out is quicker and more convenient than making a meal at home. But it can be expensive, and it really adds up over time. Eating out is a huge piece of most people budget. A piece that can be easily reduced.

Taking a bag lunch of leftovers to work with you instead of buying lunch at the local fast food eatery will save you big bucks over the course of a year. How much? If you spend five dollars a day for lunch, that is $1,250 a year (I am assuming you take two weeks off). If you are a two-income family with both of you eating out at lunch, this doubles to $2,500 a year. And we haven't  even talked about family dinners out, yet.

Entertainment is a purely optional budget expense. Eliminate it. You can be entertained without spending much, or even any, money. Learn (or re-learn) how to have a good time for free or nearly free. Take a walk with your spouse or with a friend. Start a family game night. Play with your kids in the backyard. Invite friends over for a weekend cook-out, or a movie night (with the DVD checked out from your local library for free). Next week they can invite you over.

Read a book (checked out from the library for free, of course) instead of going to a movie. Libraries are a wonderful source of free entertainment. In addition to books and magazines, many libraries today also offer audio books, movies on DVD, music CDs, and even board games that you can check out. Many have story times for young children and lecture series for adults you can attend for free.

BONUS "Black Hole" - Cigarettes & Other Addictions

Most people don't smoke these days (that's why this is a bonus "black hole" for those who do), but a surprising number still do. If you are one of those people that still smoke, I know you don't want to hear this, but STOP. If not for your health (a great reason all by itself), then do it for your finances. The cost of cigarettes varies greatly from state to state (due to taxes), but chances are a pack-a-day habit costs at least $2,000 a year, and in some states much more. Think of how much food storage or ammo you could buy with that money!

Same goes for other addictions - chewing tobacco, alcoholism, gambling addiction, pornography, even food/binge-eating. All addictions cost money, impair health, interfere with relationships, and decrease productivity. Save money (and your health) by dealing with your addictions now.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Patriots' Prayers for 5-15-2016

What is wrong with America goes well beyond politics & economics. It is a spiritual sickness which infects the USA. No politician, no candidate, no election, no piece of legislation, will cure spiritual sickness. We must appeal to a Higher Authority for that kind of healing. Patriots' Prayers is a weekly feature appearing each Sunday. Please join me each week in praying for America.

"So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one." --Ezekiel 22:30 (NKJV) 

Prayer for these United States of America 

Our Father in Heaven, We come before You now, standing in the gap for our nation. Have mercy upon these United States of America, according to Your lovingkindness and tender mercies. Blot out our transgressions, cleanse us of our sins. We acknowledge our transgressions, our many sins against You: We have allowed our God-given liberties to be taken away by our politicians and leaders. We have allowed Your Word and commandments to be banned from our public squares. We have allowed prayer to be eliminated from our schools. We have allowed Your place in our nation’s history to be erased from our textbooks and our minds. We have allowed the epidemics of abortion, pornography, and sexual immorality to fester out of control. We have allowed perversion, decadence, and depravity of all sorts to become public and commonplace.

As a nation, we have replaced the authority and perfection of Your Word with the whim of our own opinions for our standards of right and wrong. We no longer keep Your commandments, or follow Your teachings. 

We confess these and all our sins to You and ask forgiveness for ourselves and our nation. Bring us to a state of true repentance - a returning to You - as both individuals and as a nation. We confess Your lordship over every aspect of our lives and our nation. Help us to follow You once again. Restore your mercy and blessings to these United States of America, and re-establish a hedge of protection around us. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.