Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Update on My Health - Good News

I want to share some good news. As many of you know, in 2015 I was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes, as well as diabetic retinopathy with severe macular edema. My original retina specialist told me I had a 50-50 chance of going blind within five years. Well, after almost four years that included three retina specialists, over 70 injections in my eyes, and five surgeries, it appears we have finally been able to stop the bleeding of the capillaries that run through and behind my retinas. 

Much eyesight is much improved, though still far from perfect, though it should continue to improve. I can actually do things now that I haven't been able to do like read more than ten minutes without giving myself a massive headache, use a computer for more than ten minutes, read small print (still have to use reading glasses, of course), and even drive at night safely (there were a few times I had to drive at night before, but I mainly had to rely on The Force rather than my eyesight - LOL).

My last two surgeries were in November. Since then, there has been no appreciable bleeding, and the edema (swelling) that caused my retinas to crumple and distort is slowly subsiding. My left eye, which was the most damaged, will still require a few more injections to encourage the swelling to go down, but my right eye is already back to 20-30, and should continue to improve without requiring any more injections (although it may require a "booster" shot at some point). 

Anyway, it is wonderful to be able to see again, even if imperfectly. I really feel like I've emerged from a dark tunnel I've been stuck in for four years.
 
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Sunday, April 28, 2019

Why the prepper movement almost died, and how to revive it and regain focus

Why are you a prepper?  I'm not asking what you're prepping for, but rather why you prep? It is not the same thing, and it is an important difference to recognize.

The potential threats we are preparing to face may come and go, but the real reasons we are preparing remain constant. If we focus on what we're preparing for, we are likely to lose focus or even stop preparing altogether when that threat passes or no longer seems likely. However, if we remain focused on the real reasons why we prep, the reasons that remain constant, we are much less likely to lose focus despite the ever-changing potential threats. 

How many times have  people proclaimed the immanent arrival of Planet X / Niburu, only for it to not show up? How many blood moons have passed in the last decade or so without doomsday? Remember how worried people were about the severe Ebola outbreak a few years ago? And bird flu, swine flu, and SARs before that? How many times has the demise of the US dollar and the collapse of the US economy been predicted? Remember the Y2K computer glitch that was supposed to drive us back to the stone age? 

Remember how worried - make that absolutely convinced - some people were that George Bush was going to declare martial law and refuse to step down as president after the end of his second term? Remember the worry many of us had that Obama was trying to destroy our nation and undermine our Constitution and Freedoms? That Hillary would confiscate our guns if she became president? The united sigh of relief we all felt when Hillary lost and Trump won in 2016 lead to a near collapse of the prepper movement. We all lost focused as the threat seemed to pass...

That is the problem with being focused on preparing for individual threats, rather than keeping focus on the real reasons we prepare. When the Threat-of-the-Moment that we are preparing for comes and goes repeatedly, its easy to get tired, lose focus, and even to develop normalcy bias. Nothing bad has happened yet despite all these concerns, therefore nothing bad will happen in the future. 

So, I ask again: Why are you a prepper?  Not what you're prepping for, but rather why you prep?

I cannot answer that question for you. You have to figure that out for yourself. But I can answer for me. 

Why am I a prepper?
  • So that I can protect and provide for my family - those people I care about and who depend on me - come what may.
  • So that I can worship and follow God as He commands, no matter the pressures of political correctness, liberal theology, threats & violence from progressives and Muslims, or how badly the First Amendment gets shredded.
  • Because my God, the God of the Bible, commands both spiritual and physical preparation and readiness.
  • So that I can protect our Freedoms - our God-given Rights - for myself, my family, and future generations.
Keeping those real reasons, constant reasons, in mind rather than focusing on individual potential threats, helps me stay focused on my preparedness efforts.   

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Friday, April 26, 2019

Update: Sri Lanka Corrects Death Toll Numbers - 253 Dead, over 500 Injured

The following unedited press release from International Christian Concern (ICC) contains the latest updates on the Sri Lanka terrorist bombings of Easter morning. You can visit the ICC website at https://www.persecution.org/ for more on Christian persecution around the world.

Sri Lanka Lowers Official Easter Bombings Death Toll

04/26/2019 Sri Lanka (International Christian Concern) – The official death toll following the deadly Easter bombings in Sri Lanka have been lowered by government officials. According to Sri Lankan authorities, the death toll now stands at “approximately” 253 people killed and over 500 others injured.

This correction comes a day after police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara claimed that 359 people had been killed in the attacks on churches and hotels. Despite this lowering of the official death toll, last Sunday’s suicide attacks remain among the deadliest single terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka’s independent history.

The country’s top health ministry official, Dr. Anil Jasinghe, explained the inaccuracy of earlier reports late on Thursday. According to Dr. Jasinghe, the explosions damaged some bodies beyond recognition, making a positive identification difficult.

On Easter Sunday, April 21, suicide bombers attacked three churches and three hotels across Sri Lanka as Christians began Easter worship services. Among the worst sites hit by these coordinated attacks was St. Sebastian’s Church where over 100 Christians were reportedly killed.

Days later, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks. Sri Lankan government officials have speculated the attacks were in retaliations for the New Zealand mosque shootings that took place in March.

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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Seven Lessons from the Sri Lanka Terror Attack

The horrific Muslim terror attack on Christians in Sri Lanka resulted in more than 300 people dead, and 500 injured. In this tragedy, there are important lessons to be learned. Here are seven lessons from Sri Lanka:

1) The world is highly dangerous. This one should be obvious, but for many people it isn't. The need to believe we are safe and that bad things won't really happen to us is a deeply rooted psychological need. It even has a name, cognitive dissonance. We simply don't like to believe things that make us uncomfortable.

2) Christians are in no way immune from the dangers of this world. Many Christians feel that their being Christian somehow makes them safer. This is not a biblical attitude. In fact, the opposite is true. If you are a traditional, Bible-believing Christian, you have a target painted on your back. In 2 Timothy 3:12, Paul writes "Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." Jesus himself said "Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name" in Matthew 24:9. 

3) There is a war on Christians, and people are dying. Despite what the political class and the mainstream media wants you to believe, Christians are by far the most persecuted group of peoples in the world. There are active genocides going on against Christians in Africa and the Middle East, and Christians are heavily persecuted, and even murdered, elsewhere. An Islamic silent invasion is occurring in Europe, and Western Elites are working to undermine our Christian foundations. (Read my articles Anti-Christian Persecution Sharply Increasing Across the Globe  and The Three Existential Threats To America and Western Civilization for more on the War Against Christianity.) 

4) Bad things can happen even when you least expect it. One would think that attending an Easter Service at church would be a safe thing to do. But bad things can and do happen anywhere, at any time. We must always be vigilant.
 
5) We cannot depend on government to protect us. Turns out the government of Sri Lanka had prior intelligence of a possible terror attack targeting Catholic churches being planned, but failed to act on that information. Apparently this was because the country's President and Prime Minister, political rivals, were not sharing information or cooperating with each other. Currently each is blaming the other for the lack of response to the prior intelligence. 

6) Christians must be aware of their security needs. If we cannot depend on the government to protect us, that means we must be responsible for our own security. We want our churches to be open and welcoming to the larger community, but this tragedy and other recent events have shown we do need to think about security also. It will be a balancing act, but one that we need to do.

Security cameras covering the entrances and parking lot are a good idea. Money really isn't an excuse. A multi-camera CCTV system with DVR recorder can be had for around $200 (here's one such system on Amazon). Most churches cannot afford paid security, but perhaps they have police officers or military veterans in the congregation who can act as armed security during services. Other aspects of security should also be implemented, such as having emergency exists clearly marked, having first aid supplies (and folks who know how to use them) on the the premises, and creating a well-thought out emergency response plans.

7) We must be prepared to respond to emergencies and mass causality events. Political correctness and TV shows like Doomsday Preppers have given prepping and survivalism a bad name in recent years. Yet, disaster preparedness planning is seriously conducted by big businesses and government agencies, and it needs to be conducted by Christians in both our churches and our homes. It is not pleasant to think about, but it is reality.
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You may also be interested in these earlier articles by Tim Gamble:

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Anti-Christian Persecution Sharply Increasing Across the Globe

By Tim Gamble

Anti-Christian Persecution Sharply Increasing Across the Globe
You've heard about the Sri Lanka Church Bombings on Easter, killing over 300 Christians and injuring another 500. What you might not realize is that particular event is only the tip of the iceberg of anti-Christian persecution and genocide sweeping across the globe.  Just take a look at some of the headlines over the last 30 days:
Altough the fire that destroyed Notre Dame was apparently an accident of some sort according to French authorities, there has been a rash of arson attacks, vandalism, and desecration of holy statues throughout France, with at least 47 such such incidents since February alone and over 800(!) since January 2018 (see Article 1, Article 2, and  Article 3).

In recent months, Orthodox Christians have been increasingly targeted in Turkey with vandalism and threats, with local authorities refusing to intervene. 

West Africa, including the nations of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger have seen sharp increases in Muslim violence against Christians this year.

The continuing genocide of Christians in Nigeria continues to go unreported in the Western mainstream media, with with as many as 70,000 Christians murdered by Muslims in the last 18 years, and at least  2,000,000 Christians displaced from their homes. The Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), reports that a total of 2,480 Christians were killed in 2018 alone, and records maintained by TheReligionofPeace.com (TROP) show 770 killed so far this year. 

All the above mentioned events are only a portion of the persecution and genocide against Christians occurring globally, and the persecution is sharply increasing. Even though Christians are by far the most persecuted group of peoples in the world, persecution and genocide of Christians is rarely reported in the Western mainstream media. This is largely because the two primary persecutors - Muslims and Communists - are "protected' classes within leftist ideology, while Christians are often considered problematic at best, or actually despised at worst. Thus, mainstream journalists usually turn a blind eye to the plight of Christians around the world. 
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You may also be interested in these earlier articles by me:

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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Updates on the Muslim Terror attack on Christians in Sri Lanka

Here are the latest updates on the Easter morning church terror attack in Sri Lanka:
  • Death toll rises to 321 people, and about 500 injured
  • 45 children are among the dead
  • The US State department has confirmed "at least four Americans are among the dead," but has not released their identities
  • So far, 40 suspects have been arrested or detained
  • The Islamic State (ISIS) has claimed responsibility
  • Sri Lankan prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe,has stated the attacks have Islamic State links
  • Several Sri Lankan officials have stated that the attacks were motivated by revenge for the mosque mass shooting in New Zealand  
  • U.S. intelligence sources have also said the attack has "hallmark's of ISIS"
  • Sri Lanka’s president, Maithripala Sirisena, gave the military sweeping police powers starting Tuesday 
  • Sri Lankan officials had prior intelligence of a possible terror attack targeting Catholic churches was being planned, but failed to act on that information
  • The prime minister and the president, political rivals, are blaming each other for the failure to act on the prior intelligence 
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Monday, April 22, 2019

12 Life Lessons for Preppers (and Everyone Else)

We are fast approaching high school and college graduation season. This time of year is ripe with books, articles, cards, and speeches filled with various "Rules for Life."  I thought it a fitting time to post my Life Lessons for Preppers (and Everyone Else).  Feel free to pass them on to any graduates you may know.😁

Life Lessons  for Preppers (and Everyone Else)
  1. Take responsibility for your own life. A big part of this is learning to be self-reliant, not waiting around for your parents, your teachers, your boss, your friends, or even the government to tell you what to do, or to do things for you. You are responsible for your own life. Even when bad things beyond your control happen to you, you are still in control of how you respond. Your life, your responsibility. (see reference 1)
  2. Be honest. In the short run, it may mean some pain, but
    honesty truly is the best policy in the long run. Lies have a way of making things worse, and usually get discovered eventually. Also, always keep your word. And never cheat people. Develop a reputation for honesty, integrity and good character.  (see reference 2)
  3. Life is unpredictable, so be adaptable. Life is full of surprises and unexpected events, tragedies, and opportunities. Developing your adaptability is the best way to deal with the unexpected. (see reference 3)
  4. Get married early and stay married. This runs counter to modern advice, which says to put off marriage so you can grow up, build a career, mature and know what you want out of life. But in reality the opposite in true. Married people, especially married men, mature faster, are more responsible, work harder, and are more ambitious than their single peers. Married people tend to be happier, healthier, and live longer than single people. (watch reference 4)
  5. Who you know is often more important than what you know. It can be hard for modern, highly individualistic Americans to admit, but we all need people. Life is not a solo sport. Lone wolves rarely do well in the long run. Shelve your ego. Meet people. Make friends. Network. Build community. Be a part of other people's lives, and let other people be a part of your life. This will pay many, many benefits throughout your life. (read reference 5)
  6. Don't compare yourself to other people. Instead compare your current self with your younger self, and always try to improve on that younger self. This will be both emotionally healthier and more effective than comparing yourself to others. Always be improving over your former self. (read reference 6)
  7. Take care of your health.Your health and fitness is immeasurably important to your life, success, happiness, well-being, and preparedness. Your physical health, along with your spiritual health, will determine your future more than anything else. (see reference 7)
  8. Avoid debt. Spend less than you make. Sound advice, but how many of us really follow it? Not many, apparently, since credit card debt is at an all-time high and personal bankruptcies are surging. (see reference 8)
  9. Be a builder, not a consumer. Modern civilization is set up to make you into a consumer. Corporations and the government need you to spend as much money as possible. This is good for them, bad for you. Be a builder instead. Build savings. Build a business. Build a homestead. Build a family and a life. Sure, you have to buy stuff along the way, but be smart about what you buy. Don't mindlessly consume, no matter what Uncle Sam  and his puppet masters in big business want you to do...
  10. Go for quality over quantity. The one with the most toys when they die, still dies. Life isn't about accumulating stuff. Preparedness isn't about accumulating stuff, either. Be more intentional about the way you live your life. Quality beats quantity. In preparedness, the temptation is to buy everything at once, but money is always a factor and many folks end up buying cheap gear they can't depend on this way. Buy a little at a time so you can afford better, more dependable gear.
  11. Take care of your stuff. Sure, it costs money to change your car's oil every three months, but it costs a lot more to replace a blown engine. Taking care of your stuff pays big dividends over the long run. (see reference 9)
  12. Develop your relationship with God. This should be the number one priority of your life. Not your career. Not your spouse or your children. Not your reputation or your bank account. Take care to develop this, and all else will turn out okay. Make prayer and Bible reading a daily habit. (see reference 10)
These are the lessons I've learned in my life, usually the hard way. Had someone given me this list when I graduated high school, and I actually followed it, I would have avoided many of my mistakes, and would be in a much better position in my life than I currently am. 

References:

1)  My article What Exactly is Self-Reliance?
2)  My article Your Reputation Matters to Your Survival
3)  My article Adaptability - The Key to Urban Survival 
4)  Prager University video Be a Man. Get Married.
5)  Harvard Business Review article How to Build Your Network
6)  Jordan Peterson's book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (see especially Peterson's Rule 4)
7)  My article Steps to Good Health 
8)  My article Eliminate Debt and Build Savings 
9)  My article Preppers' Auto Maintenance Schedule 
10)  My article Spiritual Preparedness / Prepping for Persecution
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Sunday, April 21, 2019

Germany: Muslim Attack on Church During Easter Service Leaves 24 Injured.

A Muslim man (nationality not yet released) was arrested after yelling "Allahu Akbar" and setting off fireworks during Easter services at St. Paul's Church in Munich, causing panic and a stampede for the exits resulting in 24 people being injured. 

Updates to this breaking story will be made as more information becomes available. 

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Sri Lanka: Christian Churches Target of Easter Sunday Terror Bombings

Over 200 Dead and Over 500 Injured

BREAKING NEWS (updated as of 4:30pm EST)
  • At least three churches rocked by at least eight explosions during Easter services
  • Current reports say 207 dead, over 500 injured
  • Nearby hotels and apartments also targeted
  • At least five Britons (two with dual US citizenship) are among the dead
  • "Several" Americans were killed, according to US State Department
  • Attacks carried out by suicide bombers and others
  • Seven Thirteen arrests have been made so far
  • One of the leaders behind these bombings has been identified as Muslim Imam Moulvi Zahran Hashim
  • Highly likely that bombers are affiliated with ISIS, which has been active in Sri Lanka in recent years. 
  • A six-foot PVC pipe bomb has now been found at the airport in Colombo and has been safely disposed of
  • Sri Lanka imposes curfew and social media ban "to prevent spread of misinformation." 
Updates will be made to this article as additional news becomes available.

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Friday, April 19, 2019

Eating Healthy, Food Storage, and the Type 2 Diabetic

As long-time readers of my website may know, I am a Type 2 diabetic. Having been diagnosed with diabetes in 2015 with a A1C level of 10.1 (extremely high), I have worked hard to get my diabetes under control through diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes. My most recent A1C was 5.7, achieved and maintained without the use of insulin or other drugs. That's right, I am not on insulin, metformin or any other prescription medication. 

However, that doesn't mean I'm cured. I'm not. If I ever return to my old ways of eating and doing things, my blood sugar will quickly spike up to dangerous levels once again. The fact is I cannot eat a lot of carbs, particularly those with a high glycemic load, or GL, (a measure of how fast and efficiently carbs are turned into sugar in the body). I simply cannot eat things like white potatoes (in all its many forms - baked, mashed, chips, fries, tots, etc.), bread, ceral, pasta, white rice, corn & other grains, even whole grains. I cannot eat anything made with sugar, wheat flour, or cornmeal.  Beans I can eat in small amounts without blowing up my blood sugar, but they cannot be the bulk of my meal. 

Now, go back and read that list of what I call my no-no foods. Notice how many of them are on the typical prepper "foods to stockpile" lists. I'm a prepper who cannot eat rice, corn, or other grains. I cannot eat dried pasta or instant potatoes. Ramean noodles are out of the question. I cannot eat breads or anything else made from wheat and other grains. I can't even eat oatmeal (I've tested oatmeal several times, and my blood sugar spikes too high even from this healthy grain often recommended to diabetics). I even cannot eat large amounts of beans, only small portions. So, what is a prepper to do?

The fact is, my diabetes forces me to eat a diet different from the typical diet, therefore my food storage as a prepper is different from that of a typical prepper. Here is how I eat (its similar to the Atkin's diet or the Keto diet, but not exactly the same): 

Fatty foods make up the biggest portion of my daily diet. This includes eggs and fatty fish (salmon, tuna, trout, herring, mackerel, and shrimp, among others), as well as avocados, avocado oil, olive oil, coconut oil, milk, cheese, butter, and most types of nuts and seeds (I love pumpkin seeds, which are also especially good for men in terms of prostate health and sexual function). 

Many preppers and homesteaaders already have chickens, so have a great source of fresh eggs. Canned fish is readily available for food storage. I dislike sardines, but have stocked up on cans of salmon, mackerel, herring, and tuna. I also have been adding cans of shrimp to my food storage, which are great to add to salads or stir-fry dishes. Canned fish should be safe to consume as long as the can remains completely sealed and there is no swelling or bulging of the can. I have eaten canned fish that was more than four years old without any ill effects. 

Side Note: I eat a lot of eggs, typically 15 - 20 a week. They are a staple of my new diet. I've been eating this way for over three years now.  Despite this, both my blood pressure and cholesterol levels are well within the normal range. Worries over the cholesterol in eggs is based on old science from the 1970s and before. Modern medical studies have shown that cholesterol levels are primarily determined by a combination of genetics, physical activity, sleep habits, weight, and overall diet, rather than by the cholesterol content of individual foods. 

Protein makes up a moderate amount of my diet. Chicken, turkey, beef, sheep, goat, pork, game, and lean fish (such as bass, catfish, cod, perch, flounder, and bluefish among others) are examples of protein. In my food storage, you will find lots of canned chicken and SPAM, as well as canned hams. 

Beans can be considered a protein, although one that also has a lot of carbs. I can eat beans in moderation, so I limit myself to one normal size serving when I have them. Glycemic load varies according to variety, so I try to stick with those with a smaller GL. Lentils are excellent, as are green peas, green beans, chick peas (hummus is excellent, too), black beans and red beans, all of which you'll find in my food storage, both canned and dried.

Carbs make up the smallest portion of calories in my diet. The best, both in terms of nutrition and glycemic load, are salad greens and leafy greens, including cabbage. as well as other cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower. I eat a lot of slaws and salads (be careful of the sugars in most salad dressings - some have as much as a candy bar). The good news for preppers and diabetics is that these can easily be grown in gardens. Spinach, mustard, turnip, and other greens can also readily be found in cans, although some brands have added sugar, so read the labels. Sauerkraut (made of cabbage) is another great canned food that I've added to my food storage. Again, read the labels as some brands add sugar.  These things are so low in calories and on the GL scale, that it would be very difficult to eat enough to cause a serious spike in my blood sugar, so I basically can eat as much as I want.

Squash, zucchini, onions, peppers, garlic, and cucumbers are also good carbs with a lower blood sugar impact. All are excellent crops for the garden, and are easily pickled or canned. When buying them canned, beware of the added sugars of some brands.

Tomatoes and carrots have more natural sugars and a higher GL than the foods I've already mentioned, but I can still eat both in moderation. Both are excellent garden vegetables. When buying them canned, I look for brands without added sugar. Beets,

Fruit is healthy, but high in sugars and have a high impact on blood sugar. Be careful to eat fruit in moderation if you are diabetic. Many brands of canned fruits also have added sugars on top of their natural sugars, making them little more than fruit flavored candies. I eat very little fruit, and when I do, its either a small serving of berries, or a small apple, pear, or citrus fruit.

Carbs I don't eat include white potatoes in any form, flour, sugar, bread, cereal, pasta, corn, rice, and other grains, so there is no need to stock up on those for myself. However, other members of my family can eat those things, so I do include some of those items in my food storage. 

Some good news: Today, many brands now have low-sugar, no-sugar, or no added-sugar varieties. I've found these options in ketchup, mayonnaise, salad dressings, and even tomato sauces. Del Monte also has a line of low-sugar canned fruits. Go to the grocery store, do some hunting through their stock, red labels, and find low-sugar and low carb products.  The effort is worth it to your health.

Diabetes, Carbs, and Sugar: Please remember that sugar is a carbohydrate, and one that acts fairly fast on your blood glucose levels. I include this reminder because I've run into a few folks who seem to mistakenly take the advice that diabetics need to watch their carbs to mean that they no longer have to be concerned about sugar. This is a false understanding. Diabetics need to be aware of all carbohydrates that they consume, including sugars.

The Bottom Line: If you are diabetic, you'll have to adjust your food storage to fit what is and isn't a healthy diet for you. The first step is to figure out for yourself what, and how much, you can eat, and what you can't eat. Then adjust your food storage accordingly. Read labels, and be aware of the added sugars and hidden carbs in many brands. It isn't easy, especially if you don't like change, but you can adjust your diet and your food storage for healthy eating.
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Have diabetes or pre-diabetes? 

http://amzn.to/20Ss5eE
Of all the books on diabetes I've read, the best and most useful is 60 Ways to Lower Your Blood Sugar by Dennis Pollock. Pollock's book is an aggressive plan to control your blood sugar by bringing together the best of both traditional and alternative medicine. I found his ideas easy to follow, and have implemented many of them in my life.





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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Egypt: Coptic Orthodox Christians Without Church for Easter Following Muslim Mob Attack


Coptic Orthodox Christians continue to be under severe persecution in Egypt. This incident is just the latest in their ongoing harassment, at times deadly, at the hands of Muslims, often with the tacit approval of the government. The following is an unedited press release from International Christian Concern. Visit their website at https://www.persecution.org/ for more on Christian persecution and genocide around the world.  -- Tim Gamble

Children Traumatized and Three Injured in Attack on Egyptian Church

04/16/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on April 12, 2019, a mob of extremists attacked the Church of Society of Anba Karassof in Khalaf Allah Jaber village, located in Egypt’s Sohag Governorate. As a result, the church was damaged, three people were injured, Christian children attending Sunday School were traumatized, and the church was closed to avoid further violence.

The mob, armed with knives and sticks, attacked the church at 4:00 p.m. on April 12 as Christian children were attending Sunday School classes. According to local reports, a large iron gate delayed the mob in their assault which allowed local police to arrive and disperse the crowd.

However, the mob was still able to inflict damage on the church and injure several Christians, including two priests, Father Basil and Father Pachomius, and one Coptic man, Asaad Bakhit Rizk Allah. Following the attack, local police closed down the church in order to avoid further violence.

Though there were limited injuries, one local Christian woman said, “The hardest emotion in that incident is the kids lived the incident in the reality. They saw the extremists attacking the church and how they injured the priests. This incident will hurt them psychologically in the future.

A day prior to the attack, the village mayor confiscated building materials from the church and attempted to close down the church. According to local reports, the mayor became frustrated with the local church because the Coptic Christians were renovating their church building in an attempt to accommodate their growing congregation of nearly 1,300 Christians.

Though the church had applied for legal status in September 2017, it has yet to receive official authorization.

Commenting on the political environment surrounding the attack, one local said, “The motivation of this incident [is] the constitution amendments. Many Christians will accept it, while other Muslim [extremists] hate the continuation of Sisi’s presidency. The Christians are always the victims of this regime.

To date, the Church of Society of Anba Karassof remains closed to avoid additional violence. This is despite the fact that the Coptic congregation is commemorating Holy Week and preparing for Easter. With no other local church in the area, the congregation is likely to be left without a formal worship space this Easter.

ICC’s Regional Manager, Claire Evans, said, “Egypt’s Christians are often singled out during the celebration of Christian holidays, such as Easter. President al-Sisi has taken symbolic steps of support for the Coptic population. Now he must take action to protect the rights of Christians to worship in their churches. More must be done to protect Christians from both discrimination and violence.”
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Friday, April 12, 2019

Tips To Get Ready for the Next Great Recession

Avoid becoming this guy.
Regardless of if you believe the next economic downturn is imminent or not, one thing is certain - at some point, sooner or later, there will be another recession. Now, during a relatively good time economically, is when we need to prepare that that next Great Recession. Here are some ideas to help you prepare:

Realize that unless you own the company, you are not indispensable to it. No matter how great you think you are at your job, no matter how much you think your boss loves you, you can lose your job to downsizing during a recession. No one is immune.

That said, you don't have to make it an easy decision for them to fire you. Make yourself as valuable as possible to your company. Keep your skills up-to-date, and constantly learn new ones, even if they are not directly related to your current job. Downsizing often means that those who remain are expected to do their work AND the work that was being done by those fired. The more you are able to do, the more likely your company will choose to keep you on the job. 

Don't give your employer a reason to fire you. Keep your nose clean. Obey the company rules, spoken and unspoken. Don't cause conflict. Don't bad-mouth your company, bosses, or fellow employees. Don't be that problem employee they'll be eager to get rid of during a downsizing. Check out the Fifteen Commandments of Keeping Your Job.

Despite your best efforts, you may lose your job anyway during a recession. Get ready to look for a new job now, don't wait until you are fired. Keep your resume constantly up-to-date. Make sure you have updated contact info for all your references. Start networking - you will be more likely to find a new job through a friend or colleague than from the classifieds or even employment services. Building a network is essential career advice, good times or bad.

Please realize you may have to find a new job in a different field from your current job. Or you may have to go into business for yourself.  Learn new skills. Take some classes at a local community college. Take a marketing and/or public relations class (surprisingly useful to most jobs/careers). Learn to sell (read the book SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham - considered a business classic). Brush up on your computer skills. Learn coding. Learn bookkeeping & accounting. Learn Spanish for the workplace. Consider learning a trade (electrician, plumber, welder, HVAC repair, etc.) as a back-up to your current career. The more you know, the more employable you will be. 

Prepare financially to the extent you can. This means getting on a budget, living within your means,  paying off debt, and building savings. Not fun, I know, but a whole lot easier to do now than it will be after the next Great Recession hits. Need some ideas? Check out my articles Taming the Family Budget and Quick Financial Tips.

My opinion: The top two financial goals for most folks should be setting aside an emergency fund, while at the same time paying off high-interest debt items such as most credit cards and car loans. Between the two, I would actually prioritize the emergency fund until you have at least $1,500 set aside. Don't stop making your minimum payments, of course, since late fees and penalty interest rates add up astoundingly fast. But put any extra money into the savings for now. Once you got an emergency fund, then tackle the debt with extra payments. 

Need help getting that emergency fund going? Have a yard sale. You can declutter your house and raise money at the same time. Or, brown bag your lunch for awhile, putting the savings into your emergency fund. At five dollars a meal (and you're probably spending more with tax & tip), that's $25 dollars a week, or $650 in just a half-a-year.  

Ready to pay off your debt?  Dave Ramsey's debt snowball plan is easy to understand and implement. You can find it on his website at https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/get-out-of-debt-with-the-debt-snowball-plan/

Food storage and other aspects of preparedness can really help you get through a crisis. I know a guy who was a prepper back before the Financial Crisis of 2008 (he was preparing for peak oil at the time). Then the Great Recession happened, and both he and his wife lost their jobs (with different companies) during the same week, leading to an extended period of unemployment for both. His wife was out of work for over five months and he was unemployed for almost nine months. He has said that the extra food storage (and other supplies), along with many of his other peak oil preps, made it possible for them to survive during that time.

My recommendation: As soon as possible, acquire at least two weeks worth of food & supplies, then work towards building a month's stockpile, then six months, and so forth until you feel comfortable. For more on stockpiling as a preparedness strategy, please read my 2016 article Survival 101: Stockpiling as a Preparedness Strategy.

If you are new to preparedness, You should read my 2015 article A quick, no frills, down & dirty guide to preparing for the End for a good general outline of preparedness.
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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Indonesia: The Growing Persecution Against Christians

Indonesia is the largest (by population) Muslim-majority country in the world. Indonesia is very diverse geographically, made up of over 17,000 islands, and ethnically, with 300 different ethnic groups and over 700 languages. About 87% of the country's 262 million inhabitants are Muslim. Many of these are only marginally so, with a large percentage mixing Islam with traditional folk religions and even Hinduism. Many others have a very secular lifestyle and view of the world, despite claiming Islam as their faith. 

Unfortunately, in recent decades, more extremist Muslim groups have grown both in numbers and in political & social power. Religious courts, practicing Sharia Law, have precedence over civil courts in matters between Muslims regrading marriage, divorce, and other family issues. In the province of Aceh. Sharia Law is now practiced officially and has jurisdiction in all civil and legal matters, including over non-Muslims.  According to journalist Mohshin Habib "Sharia law is spreading throughout all of the provinces of Indonesia; citizens are enacting their own variations of Islamic laws, and applying then to non-Muslims as well."

There is also a significant Christian minority, making up approximately 9.9% of Indonesia's population. In fact, Operation World states that Christianity is the fastest growing religion in Indonesia. These trends are creating increasing friction and conflict between Muslims and Christians in Indonesia. Mohshin Habib sums up the situation: "Indonesia, once a country of diversity, is now becoming a place for one-way Islam.

International Christian Concern, a Christian human rights organization, reports on the latest incident of Muslim intolerance for Christianity in Indonesia: "On April 6, more than 11 wooden crosses were pulled out, damaged and burnt at the Bethesda Christian cemetery in Mrican, Yogyakarta."
 
In recent months, religious intolerance in Yogyakarta, a de facto Islamic sultanate on the island of Java, has risen sharply. One example: In December 2018, more than 19 Christian tombs were vandalized and  crosses desecrated in Purbayan and Magelang.

In another example, just last week, a Catholic painter named Slamet Jumiarto was kicked out from his just-moved-in community with his family (all Catholic) for being “non-Muslim.”

These are just a few recent examples of Muslim intolerance of Christians in a country often widely praised by Western politicians and news media as a great example of a moderate Muslim democracy. 

Sources: 1) Press release from International Christian Concern, dated 4/9/2019; 2) Press release from International Christian Concern, dated 04/04/2019; 3) Article: Sharia Law Swallowing Indonesia, by Mohshin Habib, published on the Gatestone Institute website;  4) Information from the Indonesia entry of Pray for the World, a resource from Operation World; 5) Demographic information from the Indonesia entry of Wikipedia.
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Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Review: Japanese Hori Hori Gardening Knife

https://amzn.to/2WHVVlW
Before the start of last year's gardening season, I ordered a Japanese Hori Hori Gardening Knife. I had seen a few gardening videos on You Tube where these professional gardeners were using and recommending the Hori Hori knives and I was impressed by what I saw. Well, I used my Hori Hori knife all last year, and am using it again this year as I get my garden started. I really like it. So much so that I ordered a second Hori Hori, following the rule that "two is one, and one is none." 

What is a Japanese Hori Hori Gardening Knife? "Hori" is the Japanese word for "Dig," so a Hori Hori knife literally translates as a "Dig Dig knife." It basically is a hybrid between a tough fixed-blade camp knife and a garden trowel. 

The blade is curved for easy digging and scooping. One side is a serrated knife blade, the other side is a straight-edge knife blade - makes cutting through roots and other plant material easy. Inside the scoop are ruler markings up to six inches, as a quick guide to planting depth or spacing between plants.  

The Hori Hori Garden Knife is great for digging, planting, pruning, weeding, cutting sod, transferring plants, planting bulbs, splitting perennials, and so forth. The knife edges are very sharp, and easily cut through bags, twine, and cordage. 

https://amzn.to/2WHVVlWI've used my Hori Hori for over a year now, in both well-prepared garden soil and rocky red-clay soil. It also easily handled digging into the straw bales I used for my tomatoes and peppers last year.
After a year of heavy use, there have been no problems with my Hori Hori. No dents, dings, rolls, bends, or other damage at all to the Hori Hori. As I said, I was impressed enough to order a second one. 

If you are into gardening or homesteading, I highly recommend a Hori Hori to you. It is a great garden tool. Available on Amazon for under $30 (price subject to change by Amazon, of course), it comes with a sturdy leather sheath and a sharpener.
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Monday, April 1, 2019

China: Clergy Continuously Persecuted for Refusing to Join State-Sanctioned Church

The following is an unedited press release from International Christian Concern (ICC) on the ongoing persecution of Christianity by the communist regime in China.  You can visit the ICC website at https://www.persecution.org for more on Christian persecution around the world.

Underground Church Leaders Repeatedly Detained in China

04/01/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on March 28 and March 29, two underground church leaders in China’s Hebei province were taken into custody by local authorities. On March 28, vicar general Father Zhang Jianlin of Xuanhua diocese was taken into custody by provincial religious bureau officials. Coadjutor Bishop Augustine Cui Tai was seized the next day by officials from various agencies after he received a text message informing him of his pending arrest. His whereabouts are currently unknown.

This was not the first time that either of the Catholic clergymen have been detained. Father Zhang was detained in 2009 and again last January. Bishop Cui has been repeatedly kept in captivity since 2007, and only released during the Chinese holidays so he could return home to visit his elderly sister, before he was taken away again. His last detention ended on January 24.

“The government’s aim is to paralyze the diocese. If the diocese fails to manage the community, then the government will use this as an opportunity to take it over,” a priest from the underground community told UCA News. He added that the government would give control of the diocese to the state-backed Patriotic Church.

Some believe that the latest detention is linked to a former underground priest from the same diocese, Francis Zhang Li. Asia News reported earlier this month that Cui suspended Zhang for switching to a Patriotic Church and for his “charismatic” activities.

Displeased that Bishop Cui still refused to join the Patriotic Church, after the signing of a provisional deal between the Holy See and Beijing last September, and Cui’s criticism of the government, Zhang called for his arrest.

When inquired about this news, Father Francis Liu from Chinese Christian Fellowship of Righteousness told ICC, “Actually, this is the norm – during Lenten season, in order to prevent underground bishops from performing the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday, the government would take them away, forcing their parishioners to attend the Mass at another diocese or an official church [that is controlled by Beijing].” 

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “The undisclosed Sino-Vatican deal has brought little positive development, if not more suffering for the underground Catholic community in China. The Holy See must have empathy for the underground Church and pressure China into respecting their religious freedom. A rapprochement with China should not be built at the expense of underground Chinese Catholics’ rights.”    ----------------  
 
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