Not a Snooze at All

I can’t get the words some newscasters said last week out of my head.  The last debate is history; people are talking about Hurricane Sandy (which I want to talk about soon), and of course the election, but I still hear the words of several newscasters from several different stations when they were talking about the last debate.

If you recall, the last debate was on foreign policy.  The newscasters’ general response; the American public finds this subject ‘a snooze.’  That the foreign policy debate was the least viewed because nobody was really interested in the topic.  My response; Why?

This century finds the world more interconnected and interdependent than any other time in the world’s history.  We can watch news shows from the other side of the globe in real time, we can see how one economy affects another on the stock market in minutes, and we can react to tragedies and wars and other situations instantaneously.

I want to direct your attention to several events going on in the world that may directly affect you.  At the very least, you should understand what’s going on to see how the US responds to certain issues so you can be informed about how domestic policies affect foreign policies.

The most important one for me is the story behind what’s going on in Libya.  As the story continues to unfold, there are unanswered questions and more information that is still coming out today.  I beg you; do your own research on the issue.  Find out what really happened to the Navy Seals and how their families were treated.  Make your own decisions accordingly; there is information out there if you look for it.  I’ll leave you with what one of the Seal’s father said to our government; “It’s better to die a hero than live a coward.”  You may not come to the same conclusions as I do, but I feel it is important to do some research before you vote next week.

Other headlines:

Sanctions on MS-13: Not Enough but a Good First Step   Two weeks ago, the Obama administration broke new ground by extending this designation [a significant transnational criminal organization] for the first time to a gang operating in the United States, the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13).  Today, the group operates throughout Central America and in at least forty U.S. states, according to a 2008 FBI report, and is reported to be spreading to Canada. Harrowing reports—like the gang’s prostitution of girls as young as twelve and execution-style shootings in a schoolyard of three students by former friends—motivated the Obama administration to target MS-13. (Any border town will tell you that the gang violence just continues to escalate.)

Syrian regime launches nationwide airstrikes   World powers remain divided on how to stop Syria’s crisis, with the U.S. and many Arab and European nations calling for Assad to step down while Russia, China and Iran continue to back the regime. But with the sides largely stalemated on the battlefield and little international appetite for military intervention, few expect the war to end soon.  “As long as the international community remains at odds, the needs, attacks and suffering will only grow.”

Experts weigh in on rise of Ukrainian Svoboda party    The radical right-wing Svoboda (“Freedom”) party, which openly admires the World War II pro- Nazi Ukrainian Insurgent Army, has secured 41 seats in the Ukrainian parliament and is expected to legitimize public displays of anti-Semitism.(If you remember a previous posting, a very similar pro-Nazi party has already attracted followers in Greece and it appears to be spreading to countries suffering from austerity measures.)

 The real reason China-Japan are locked in a territory dispute    Years of rapid growth have sent China’s fuel consumption soaring, and the country has been quicker than Japan in plumbing the East China Sea. Japan, which has relied heavily on nuclear power, has also seen its oil usage jump since its nuclear power plants went idle after the Fukushima nuclear power plant crisis last year. (Why is this important?  Well, China holds a lot of our debt and we traditionally get along with Japan, so whose side would we choose?)

 Al Qaeda’s Zawahri calls for kidnap of Westerners   “We are seeking, by the help of Allah, to capture others and to incite Muslims to capture the citizens of the countries that are fighting Muslims in order to release our captives,” he said, praising the kidnapping of Warren Weinstein, a 71-year-old American aid worker in Pakistan last year. (Do I have to explain why this is important?)

 Saudi King calls on UN to adopt blasphemy resolution   “I demand a UN resolution that condemns any country or group that insults religions and prophets,” he reportedly said. “It is our duty and that of every Muslim to protect Islam and defend the prophets.”  (Folks, this doesn’t seem to be going away.)

I could go on and on about stories like this that are in the news every day.  I read the news, I follow the headlines, and I dig a little deeper because I feel that it’s my responsibility to do so.  With all that goes on in the world, and the speed of media coverage, it’s very easy for stories to be hidden and never see the light of free press.

Now, you may not want to explore what’s going on in the world to the extent I do, and I understand that.  That’s partly why I write this; because I want my little corner of the world to become more informed so they can pray in a more focused direction and so that they can make better decisions about life in general.

I implore you to read the news for 10 minutes a day.  Go to different news sources.  I have a particular bent, as do most people, but I make sure to inform myself from all angles so I can get a complete picture.  Find a news outlet you can trust and read their coverage, then take a few more minutes to find another source that either verifies or disputes the first story.

I believe there is a distinct benefit to the instant news we can access today.  As we watch the world continue to evolve (or perhaps devolve), we can make accurate evaluations and decisions based on what we know.

I highlighted news of a more serious nature, but look for stories that warm your heart, because we need to be uplifted each day, knowing that God remains in control despite what current situations may look like.

‘Operation Bear’ sends tens of thousands of US teddy bears to kids at Israeli hospital   These bears [130,000] made a 5,600-mile journey from the United States all the way to the Middle East not only to find a new home but also to make ill children here feel a little bit happier.

Do what you can to inform yourself and others.

It is well with the man who deals generously and lends; who conducts his affairs with justice. For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.  His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.  He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever; his horn is exalted in honor.  The wicked man sees it and is angry; he gnashes his teeth and melts away; the desire of the wicked will perish! – Psalm 112:5-10

  “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth.  But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” – Luke 21:34-36

 

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A moment on the lips…

Anyone who has spent time in conversation with me beyond pleasantries knows that I advocate and promote food storage.

I have strongly suggested stocking up on what we consider ‘staple’ items that you and your family could need in a crisis or emergency.

I feel the prompting to store food; when I go to the store I feel it even more urgently. I think about how the typical American has enough food at their homes to get through a few days at best. I think about how often shoppers will rush in to the store to buy food for their dinner.

I wonder what will happen when, and yes, I do say when, our food supply is stunted or completely depleted. We see brief glimpses of that when hurricanes or other disasters hit. We watch on our televisions when stores are emptied and people fight over the last case of bottled water. But do we realize it could happen at any time?

I’m not sure what will cause us to need food storage; financial collapse, out-of-control commodity prices, continued droughts, even war. What I am sure of is that it is the responsible thing to do to have a little extra set aside.

Your parents or your grandparents and great-grandparents had food storage. They canned, or preserved food as a ritual of sort; remembering days when there were rations, or simply because they knew it was a good practice.

Really, one only needs to look at the headlines to get an idea of what’s going on. There are news stories from all over the globe about rising commodity prices. It should be our responsibility as Americans to know what’s going on and make sure others are informed as well.

Brazil inflation up on food price spike
Food prices rose 1.56 percent after a 1.08 percent gain in the previous reading. Rice prices were among the main upward pressures, jumping 11.91 percent. Other items such as potatoes, onions, beans and poultry also gained sharply.

Nigeria: Up! Up!! Goes Price of Staple Food Items
BARELY three weeks ago when wild flood ravaged some states in Nigeria, prices of staple food items as garri, rice, beans and yam are beginning to soar high.

Hard times ahead as food prices rise
Food products that reflected an upward movement in price this year included dairy, cereals, fats and oils. The highest price increase recorded was for sugar beans.

High chicken prices force consumers to depend more on eggs and fish
A leading poultry farming factory official said it is the feed, basically which is eating up all the profits. To raise a healthy chicken it is the feed that is essential so when the basic feed cost is high the farmers were pushed into a situation to increase the prices.

World food prices rise, stay close to crisis levels: U.N.
The worst drought in more than 50 years in the United States sent corn and soybean prices to record highs over the summer, and, coupled with drought in Russia and other
Black Sea exporting countries, raised fears of a renewed crisis.

Goldmark: The food squeeze is tightening all around us
We have drifted into a serious and fascinating global problem that will affect every human being on this planet: the food squeeze. For the first time in decades, we’re on the verge of producing too little food to feed the planet.

There are plenty more of those stories from around the world. Other countries are beginning to grumble about how the US turns its corn production into fuel as well.

Price increases caused by US biofuel mandate hurts poor countries
Price increases for corn—a direct result of the U.S. biofuels mandate—added $11.6 billion in costs for countries importing the food staple between 2006 and 2011. More than half the increase fell on poorer, developing nations, adversely affecting people who can least afford it.

Drought 2012: U.N. Now Warning of Looming Food Price ‘Catastrophe’                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Droughts in the U.S. have forced the U.S. Agriculture Department to slash its forecast for the nation’s corn crops to only 10.8 billion bushels, the lowest amount since 2006.

 Now, a brief focus on the effect of rising food prices here in the US from 2002 to today:  (all percentages courtesy of the Consumer Price Index):

Eggs – 73%
Coffee – 90%
Peanut Butter – 40%
Milk – 26%
Bread – 39%
Spaghetti & Macaroni – 44%
OJ – 46%
Apples – 43%
Margarine – 143%
Tomatoes – 22%
Turkey – 56%
Bacon – 39%
Ground beef – 61%
Chocolate chips – 39%

And lest we think we can drown our sorrows in alcohol:

Wine – 60%
Beer – 25%

There are more stories out there; about how farmers can’t afford feed for their animals, how the price of fertilizer is rising because farmers need to get more from their land, and producers buying fewer animals because the cost has become too prohibitive. Those who read the news can remember stories from a few months ago about farmers feeding their animals out-of-date candy because it was cheaper than feed.

So, what should you do? There are a myriad of options for each person to take personal responsibility for their own food storage, whether you have money to stock up all at once or you have to spread it out over time.

My advice is to be practical. What do you need to survive a crisis? To me, there are common sense items; water purifiers, grains, sugar, powdered milk and canned fruits and veggies. I also believe we should have a stockpile of candles, matches and first-aid supplies.

I am supplying you with some links to get you thinking and hopefully started on a food storage journey. At best, we have left supplies for people who need it, and at worst we have food and supplies to help our families.

My favorite storage website is http://www.survivalblog.com/ James Wesley, Rawles has thought of everything. I mean everything. Don’t let his lists overwhelm you. Just gather the lists you find essential to your specific needs.

For those who can afford it, http://www.foodinsurance.com/ is a great website to order food sealed and ready to store.

Other than that, the internet is teeming with websites that give you lists, ideas and tips on how to store food and supplies for your family.

A little extra sleep, a little more slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—
then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit;
scarcity will attack you like an armed robber. – Proverbs 6:10-11

A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions.
The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences. – Proverbs 22:3

But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers. – 1 Timothy 5:8

33 “Therefore, Pharaoh should find an intelligent and wise man and put him in charge of the entire land of Egypt. 34 Then Pharaoh should appoint supervisors over the land and let them collect one-fifth of all the crops during the seven good years. 35 Have them gather all the food produced in the good years that are just ahead and bring it to Pharaoh’s storehouses. Store it away, and guard it so there will be food in the cities. 36 That way there will be enough to eat when the seven years of famine come to the land of Egypt. Otherwise this famine will destroy the land.” – Genesis 41:33-36

Polls…

I started to write last night.  I had all these headlines rummaging around in my brain and I couldn’t get them to connect.  One of the headlines wasn’t even current, but I heard it for the first time yesterday.  I received a tweet this morning that connected them for me, at least in part.  Here’s a list of the headlines that kept coming to mind:

 Lil Wayne Breaks Elvis’ Billboard Record  – I can’t write out many of the song titles, or most of the lyrics to Lil Wayne songs, but suffice to say they’re not ‘Love me Tender’ or even ‘Jailhouse Rock.’  If the only thing we had to worry about was a shaking pelvis in 2012, I would be overjoyed.

 Virginia Romney Supporters Terrorized With Sign Vandalism, Human Excrement – Really?  Human Excrement?  There is also a movement on Twitter to tweet about the joy in urinating on Romney signs.  I realize politics can get dirty, but this seems to cross a new line.

 Man Arrested in Plot to Blow Up 48 Churches in Oklahoma – It would seem, from his journal that he was thinking about taking out as many American churches as he could.

 This final one is definitely not an unrelated story:

 Churches offering Sunday services for short attention spans – There are several churches all across the country that are attempting to attract parishioners by holding 30 and 45 minute church services for people on the go. 

“We are increasingly aware of the time pressures on families, and they have been telling us that the traditional service is too long for them,” said the Rev. Chip Stokes of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Delray Beach. “We recognize that things are changing and we have to be more adaptive without losing our core.”

Here is an advertising quote from one of the 30-minute churches; “Have more on your to-do list than time to do it? Need to jump start your week with a high energy focus on God? Your time is valuable. Make the most of it with the Rock Creek 30″.

 So the two headlines that wrapped all of these stories up for me:

As Protestants decline, those with no religion gain

According to the various articles, ‘The Protestant population has declined from 53% of the U.S. population in 2007 to 48% this year, according to the survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, released Tuesday.’  The results mark the first time since Pew has been tracking the country’s religious demographics that the share of Protestant Christians in the United States has dipped significantly below 50%.

The study also found that the fastest growing group is the ‘Nones,’ the group of people not affiliated with any religion.  The new number is 20%, or one in five.  This segment of society has grown by 25% in the last five years.

 The largest growth in ‘Nones’ are in the 18-29 year-old age group.  If you break it down further, 42% from this age group indentified as atheist or agnostic, 18% identified as either Christian or Catholic.

 This study has made secular societies very happy.  They are looking to have a larger voice in the political and educational arenas.

 Americans Now Say Gov’t Should Not Favor Any Set of Values

 For the first time, Gallup find that a majority of Americans, 52%, say the government should not favor any set of values, while 44% still favor America following a traditional set of values.

 The actual question from the poll:  Some people think the government should promote traditional in our society.  Others think the government should not favor any particular values.  Which comes closer to your own view?

 They explain that the current evolving permissive attitudes on homosexual marriage, the legalization of marijuana and gun ownership is causing Americans to think in a more libertarian viewpoint.

 Ok.  So the question that stands at the forefront is ‘what and whose traditional values?’  Oh the arguments of not having the bible forced down peoples’ throats should be coming up like bile now through many.  Especially the ‘Nones.’  However, I want to throw something out here that won’t come from a source you may suspect; I found a quote from Ellen DeGeneres that I completely agree with.

“I want to be clear and here are the values that I stand for. I stand for honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you want to be treated, and helping those in need. To me those are traditional values. That’s what I stand for.”

There’s nothing in that statement that is wrong to me.  I would add “The American Way” as well, since we are in the US.  But Ellen summed it up quite well.  There doesn’t seem to be anything that should contradict with our government.  Remember, the question said promote not legislate. 

 Now, I would base those traditional values in the bible.  When I stand for honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, etc, I base my stance on scripture.  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are all fruits of the Spirit that I want my life to overflow with.

 So what has changed in the US?  I firmly believe that the right to be offended is what changed everything.  Everyone feels that their entitled to their own little bubble of what they see as acceptable.  Everything else should be mocked, vilified and shunned. 

 Would I like to see the US espousing traditional values with scripture as their reference?  Sure.  Do I think that will happen?  Well, anything could happen, but I don’t see it. I could and would like to see the government promoting traditional values.  It’s our job as Christians to spread traditional, biblical values using grace and truth.

 What if I, as the only person I can attempt to control, were to practice traditional values in my own life. By design, my family could see it and it would spread, and so on and so on.  When it comes to heated subjects, am I practicing patience, gentleness or self-control?

 It only takes a few minutes to be disgusted by the news.  What I challenge myself and others is to stay informed with what’s happening around us, and purposefully counteract evil by promoting traditional values.  But promote them using the tools God gave us for that purpose.  Then we might change a poll or two.

 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
(Mark 12:28-31 ESV)

Watchmen

Two stories today – with their connection at the end

Nazis on the rise again

Golden Dawn ‘taking on police role’ in Greece

Why are Golden Dawn members the darlings of popular Greek TV …

Greek Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party Opens Office in New York City

Greece’s Golden Dawn party embracing extremist role

Those are all chilling headlines from news sources around the globe that were posted this weekend. For those who haven’t heard, Golden Dawn is a right-wing extremist political organization in Greece. (For clarification purposes, right-wing extremists are not the same thing as Conservatives in the U.S., despite what others may claim). The party’s leader has described the party as nationalist and racist. Their slogan in the 2012 election campaign was, “So we can rid this land of filth.” They won a foothold in the Greek parliament this year.

The party has taken to patrolling markets throughout the country, looking for merchants to show their permits to sell. If the merchants do not have permits, or refuse to show theirs, members of Golden Dawn will destroy their stands.

Despite these hauntingly familiar attacks, the Golden Dawn party is growing in popularity. With continuing budget cuts and huge unemployment rates, Greece is beginning to see the illegal alien surges as a large and looming threat.

Golden Dawn also knows how to prey on the nation’s fears. They have food and clothing drives for only Greek people, and provide protection for Greek neighborhoods with larger illegal alien populations. This is causing the people to find favor with a group that would normally be shunned. As wages continue to go down and prices continue to rise, the party’s popularity seems to grow.

Perhaps most frightening, the Greek government is sending citizens victimized by crime to seek help and protection from members of Golden Dawn, as the government can no longer afford to take measures to adequately protect their country.

From one news article, “Mr. Demertzis, the University of Athens professor, said Golden Dawn was effective because it did more than just utter political platitudes. Its members ‘do their propaganda through deeds, exactly the same way that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt does, or Hezbollah in Lebanon.’”
That is a frightening statement indeed. It should be noted that Golden Dawn is in Australia and it has recently opened up a branch in Manhattan.

Part 2 – Coptic Christians in Egypt

Egypt: Christians flee town after militant threats

Egypt’s Copts abandon Sinai homes after threats, attack

Australia Coptic Christians voice concern over “displacement” in Egypt

Egypt: Copts Fear Marginalization in New Constitution

Coptic Christians in Egypt are leaving their homes in an effort to escape Islamic militants. The militants gave leaflets to the Christians with threats of death if they didn’t leave Egypt within 48 hours. The top governmental authority in that region offered to help the Christians safely leave the area, but did not offer protection if they chose to stay.

What’s making the dire situation even worse is the anti-Muslim video that has sparked all kinds of fury over Muslim nations that was made by a Coptic Christian. However, the Christians in Egypt have been marginalized and considered second-class citizens for a while now, and have been the target of attacks.

It is difficult to maintain order in some of these further regions, where the indigenous population is opposed to the Egyptian government. It is that lawlessness that fuels the attacks against the Coptic Christians.

In more recent events, Egyptian President Morsi has denied that there is persecution toward the minority group, but Egyptians say that he can claim that because there is a difference definition of persecution in Shariah law. Because the Coptics are not Muslim, they are already a second-class group, and persecution is considered justice rather than violence. They are to be subdued and not treated as Muslims are treated. Persecution of non-Muslims is in accordance with Islamic law.

This is all happening when the U.S. has just promised Egypt an emergency cash infusion of $450 million, which is part of the $1 billion that the Obama administration promised to Egypt to “help them transition into democracy.”

I highlight just these two stories because they seem to be drowning in a sea of turmoil that is overwhelming the world right now. It seems patiently obvious that evil is continuing to thrive in areas where there is government upheaval, and that innocent people are suffering because of it. The story of history is always the same; when there is enough pain and suffering, people will look to someone to help them out of it, be it the Golden Dawn party or false assurances that democracy will soon be the law of the land.

Above all else, I believe it is the duty of all Christians to seek God’s face in these and all stories of persecution and rising evil in the world and to diligently pray for His hand to be working in these situations. I also think it would be a good idea to consider fasting in regards to all situations going on right now, including our nation’s election.

When there is moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily. But with wise and knowledgeable leaders, there is stability. – Proverbs 28:2

Another reason for right living is that you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for the coming of our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So don’t live in darkness. Get rid of your evil deeds. Shed them like dirty clothes. Clothe yourselves with the armor of right living, as those who live in the light. We should be decent and true in everything we do, so that everyone can approve of our behavior. Don’t participate in wild parties and getting drunk, or in adultery and immoral living, or in fighting and jealousy. But let the Lord Jesus Christ take control of you, and don’t think of ways to indulge your evil desires. – Romans 13:11-14