Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Not having a television, I don’t watch too many sporting events, but athletic competition does interest me. There are numerous references to athletes and various sporting competitions in the Bible. God has used the image of a athlete as an example of the discipline and focus required by those who would follow Christ as His disciples.
II Timothy 2:5-7
If anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules... Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
I Corinthians 9:24-27
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
The apostle Paul was quite familiar with athletic competition. He was writing during the time of the Roman Empire when Olympic competitions were renowned far and wide. Paul taught that even as there are characteristics of athletic champions, there are also traits that are common to those who would be overcomers in Christ. There are certain rules that must be adhered unto, or a person will be disqualified.
Some of the traits the apostle mentions are self-control, bodily discipline, and focus on the goal line.
I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Yahshua. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Yahshua. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect (mature), have this attitude...
I have been following the remarkable career of Tim Tebow since he played quarterback at the University of Florida. Tim had a very successful career at Florida. Wikipedia summarizes his college years with the following words.
As a backup to starter Chris Leak and a key situational contributor, Tebow helped the Gators win the national championship during the 2006 college football season. Tebow was the Gators' starting quarterback during the 2007 season and became the first college football player to both rush and pass for 20 or more touchdowns in a single season. Consequently, he became the first college sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy. In 2008, Tebow led Florida to a 13-1 record and its second national championship in three years, and was named the offensive MVP of the national championship game. The Gators again went 13-1 and finished with a top- ranking in 2009, Tebow's senior year.
It was at Florida that Tim Tebow became renowned for his unabashed testimony of being a Christian. During every game he would paint a Scripture reference in the eye black on his face. After every game he would begin his interviews by saying, “First I would like to thank my Lord Jesus Christ.” There were more than a few detractors of his outspoken faith, but they never gained much ground for everyone loves a winner. The supporters of Tim Tebow were more numerous, and more vocal than those who criticized him.
Tim made quite an impact by these outward signs of his faith. Wikipedia states the following regarding his practice of painting Scripture references under his eyes.
In 2010, a new rule for the next NCAA football season, dubbed "The Tebow Rule" by media because it would have affected him, banned messages on eye paint. During his college football career, Tebow frequently wore references to biblical verses on his eye black. In the 2009 BCS Championship Game, he wore John 3:16 on his eye black and the verse became the highest-ranked Google search term over the next 24 hours, generating over 90 million searches. Additionally, later, when Tebow switched to another verse, there were 3.43 million searches of "Tim Tebow" and "Proverbs 3:5-6" together. Tebow stated of the searches "It just goes to show you the influence and the platform that you have as a student-athlete and as a quarterback at Florida."
For those of you wondering what Proverbs 3:5-6 says, I will provide the Scripture for you.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
Tim’s acknowledgment of Christ went beyond Scripture reference under his eyes, and opening statements at press conferences. An Internet mania arose from what came to be referred to as “Tebowing.” Tim would regularly take a knee on the field, and bow his head in prayer at the end of a game, win or lose (though he did not have many losses).
When Tim was drafted in the first round of the NFL draft in 2010, there was already a rule in place forbidding messages in eye black. However, there was no prohibition against bowing in the end zone and saying a silent prayer and this became his signature way of expressing his devotion to Jesus Christ.
Claiming to be a Christian, or even mouthing words of faith or gratitude to Christ are one thing, but many people’s lives speak quite a different testimony. I have been impressed that Tim has manifested in his character various traits that are what one would hope to see in a disciple of Christ. One characteristic that has impressed me most in one who has had such success and acclaim is his humility. In a realm where the media and fanatic legions of sports addicts make idols out of champions, Tim has remained very down to earth. Although Tim is passionate about football, he is quick to tell reporters that there are more important things. Tim has been in the news frequently regarding the sincere compassion he shows to others.
When reporters ask Tim the games he has won, or the players that are on his team, or those against him, his humility always shines through. After last night’s game in which the Broncos beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, a game Denver was expected to lose, Tim was asked about the play his wideout made to end the game. The humble Tebow described Thomas as someone "who makes me look a lot better than I really am." Though Tim is a fierce competitor, he does not demonize those whom he competes against. When asked about others, he praises their athleticism. When asked about himself, he gives praise to Christ.
Tim was born in the Philippines to parents who were Missionaries, serving there at the time. While pregnant, Tim’s mother suffered a life-threatening infection. Due to complications doctors advised her to have an abortion. She refused to abort the child she was carrying. During Superbowl XLIV Tim and his mother were featured in a pro-life commercial that was sponsored by Focus on the Family, the ministry started by James Dobson. This sparked national controversy as pro-abortion groups condemned Tebow, while pro-life groups rallied around him. The commercial did not mention the word abortion, but it upset many that it ended by inviting people to visit the Focus on the Family website to read about the full Tim Tebow story.
Since then Tim Tebow has become a very polarizing figure. Yet, his humble and enthusiastic spirit has continued to gain him admirers. A recent poll was conducted by the website Zillow asking people what celebrity they would most like to have for their neighbor. Tim Tebow came in first place on the survey.
All of these things are interesting, but it is the parable I have observed concerning Tim Tebow’s career with the Denver Broncos this year that is the reason for my writing this post. Although he was drafted by the Broncos in 2010, Tim saw limited playing time last year, and was not the starting quarterback. The Broncos had a dismal season in 2010, winning only four games while losing twelve. Under starting quarterback Kyle Orton, the Broncos had one win and four losses this year when Orton was benched and Tebow was made the starting quarterback. Orton was replaced by Tebow at halftime during a home game against the San Diego Chargers in the fifth week of the season. Tebow nearly led the Broncos back from a 16-point deficit, as he passed and ran for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. There was little expectation for success, or hope that the season might be salvaged, but the Broncos went on to win the next seven out of eight games. But it was the way in which they won that garnered such attention.
Broncos' head coach John Fox announced Tebow would start in the following game on the road against the Miami Dolphins. Tebow and the Broncos struggled in the first three-and-a-half quarters against the Dolphins, but rallied from a 15–0 deficit in the last three minutes to win the game, 18–15, in overtime. Denver became the first team in NFL history to win a game after being down by at least 15 points with three minutes to play in a game. When things occur that never have happened before, it arrests my attention. This first game in which Tebow started as quarterback became a signature feature of his games.
The Broncos rarely led in any of their games until the very end. Under Tebow’s leadership, the team was constantly falling behind early, to rally late in the game. As win after win was posted at the very last moments, and often in overtime, people began to call the phenomenon “Tebow Time.” Even when the team was behind late in the game, fans of the Broncos would say, “Don’t worry, we haven’t gotten to Tebow Time yet.”
For example, on October 23rd, Denver was facing the Miami Dolphins. Tim Tebow’s stats were disastrous through the first three quarters. Behind 15-0 to the winless Miami Dolphins, with five minutes left in the game, Tebow passed for two touchdowns and ran for a 2-point conversion, tying the game. They won in overtime on a field goal.
Although Tim was a rookie quarterback, veteran broadcasters were noting what maturity he was playing with. They were particularly effusive about his unwavering optimism. He never seemed to get disappointed, but persevered to the end, always believing the game could still be won. Seven games, and six wins later, Timothy and the Broncos were facing the Chicago Bears. The Broncos were down 10-0 in the final quarter of play. The Broncos never gave up. In the final 2 minutes and 8 seconds of play, they caught up, sending the game into overtime. Tim was to have 236 yards passing this game, and 192 of them came in the fourth quarter. With three seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Broncos kicker lined up to make a 59 yard field goal attempt. He had only made one in his entire career at this length. He sent the ball through the uprights, and the game into overtime. In overtime, Denver won the game, marking the third overtime victory in eight games for the rookie quarterback and his team.
It was Denver's sixth straight win and seventh in eight games since Tebow, dubbed the ''Mile High Messiah,'' was promoted to starter. The Broncos have trailed in the second half in six of those victories.
This latest comeback put Denver in sole possession of first place in the AFC West after Oakland's 46-16 drubbing at Green Bay.
''Never say never,'' wide receiver Eric Decker said. ''That's a great characteristic of this team. ... Again it wasn't pretty. But again in the fourth quarter, we found a way to make some plays. Matt Prater, man, the kid can boom it...''
''We're rewriting the book on 'keep fighting,''' coach John Fox said. ''Our guys never blink. They remain positive. As bad as it looked today ... we didn't play well; we had some drops. But the guy who dropped a couple of passes caught the ... touchdown. That's kind of the M.O. on this bunch.''
The message coming through this improbable string of victories is to have faith, and keep fighting. Don’t give up. Even if you have been pummeled and stymied for more than three quarters of the game, victory is till possible. To quit trying is to ensure defeat. To fight makes victory possible.
After winning seven of eight games, Denver hit a stretch of three games where they lost. Their worst loss came at the hands of the New England Patriots who beat them 41-23. Uncharacteristic turnovers and interceptions plagued the team, but they pressed on. The NFL’s website had this quote after the game.
His relentless attitude seems to still be rubbing off, a sentiment expressed to me when I asked Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey about it after the loss.
"It still felt like we had a chance at the end," Bailey said. "I think that's part of who we are. We've proven we will not quit until this thing is over."
The Broncos qualified for the wildcard playoff game, which was played yesterday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers were Superbowl champions in 2009, and made the playoffs again in 2010 with a 12-4 regular season record compared to Denvers 4-12 record. The Steelers made it all the way to the Superbowl again, where they lost against Green Bay. Most people did not hold out any hope that the Broncos and their rookie quarterback would beat a premium team such as the Steelers.
Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback for the Steelers, has a much different reputation from that of Tim Tebow. In 2010 he was charged with sexually assaulting a female college student in Milledgeville, Georgia. As Roethlisberger was bar hopping, he was photographed wearing a t-shirt with an image of the devil on it.
Although he was not convicted of the rape charge, the NFL suspended the Pittsburgh quarterback for four games during the 2010 season. The character of the two quarterbacks could hardly have been more different.
The Broncos scored early in the game, and at the end of four quarters the game was tied. Once more the Broncos were headed to overtime. It is in the late minutes, and extra periods of overtime that they have shined. They have played with great faith that victory is still in their grasp. The Broncos won the coin toss to see who have first possession of the ball. A new rule in effect states that if a touchdown is scored that the game is over. On the first play of overtime Tebow tossed the ball to Demaryious Thomas who ran all the way to the end zone, a distance of 80 yards. In one play, and a brief 11 seconds, the game was over. Denver had won.
The news has been reporting today on the strangely coincidental numbers that were put up during this game. No less of a newspaper than the Los Angeles Times reported that many were seeing the hand of God in the numbers. It was mentioned how Tim Tebow used to paint John 3:16 under his eyes. The article suggested that even now that Tebow is not permitted to display those numbers, that God seems to be doing so for him. Tim Tebow finished the game with 316 yards passing. He had ten pass completions, for a playoff record 31.6 yards per reception.
Another website added this further testimony. Due to Tebow’s huge popularity, the game brought in the highest sports viewer rating by a television network for a wildcard playoff game in 24 years. The ratings kept climbing throughout the game and during the final quarter hour of the televised broadcast. From 8:00-8:15, which included the winning score, it had a rating of 31.6. And to cap off this string of numbers, the lone interception thrown that night came from Ben Roethlisberger and it was on 3rd down with 16 yards to go. On third and sixteen the ball was given back into the hands of Tim Tebow and the Broncos.
In all of this, I see a message coming through. God is still using sports and athletics to serve as a type of those characteristics needed by the overcomers in Christ. Don’t give up. Keep persevering. He who endures to the end will be saved. Keep your life pure. Stay humble. In a very real sense, this victory for the Broncos was a moral victory. They persevered. They did not give up. They showed endurance. Their hope never failed.
After the game, the coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers was interviewed. His words seem to be filled with meaning that I am certain he did not intend.
"I'm proud of our guys and the way they fought, but obviously we're not in it for moral victories," said Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin...
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Over the weekend while fans were cheering Tebow and noticing the 316 yards that he tallied up in completed passes – some have likened this to John 3:16 – the Middle East moved closer to war. Now I ask you this, which of these two events will affect our lives more, Tebow’s “miraculous” win, or an all out war in the Middle East? For those of you who picked Tebow, please leave this BLOG immediately and google, Casey Anthony’s new hair cut. Just kidding…
I believe that there is a perfect storm that is fast approaching. We see the signs all around us – please scroll down to the In Other News Section and see for yourself – as the world continues to experience unprecedented weather ‘events.’ I believe that these are the birth pains that Yashua/Jesus warns us will preceded the Tribulation period. Note: We are seeing these signs now so this begs the question how much more will we see, before we are taken out?
About 8 months ago I posted a commentary on this BLOG about the Iranians closing the Straights of Hormuz. I also pointed out that the Iranians have sleeper cells in Yemen and that they could also attempt to close the Gate of Tears, which is another oil, “choke-point,” in the Red Sea. If they were to do this, they would halt about 60% of the world’s oil. What we see happening in the Middle East is a series of moves and counter moves. The elephant in the room is Russia as they are backing the Iranians and the Syrians. To me, this may be a warm up to the “hook in the jaw” that the prophet Ezekiel spoke of 2600 years ago. Only time will tell us what we are looking at as the future unfolds.
In closing today’ post: I received lots of emails and comments on the Sunday go to Meeting Bun, all of which thanking me for taking a stand and alerting the folks as to what is going on. If Russia throws her weight militarily behind Iran and Syria then the ante is raised. Last summer the Russians moved the S300 anti-missile system into Georgia, which acted as a deterrent, blocking the Israelis’ from attacking Iran from the North and bombing Iran’s reactors. Now with Russian ships off the coast of Syria, it seems plain that the Russians are in the game for keeps. This latest move is a wake up call for the United States, as this is not going to be another Shock and Awe lopsided war that we fought with Iraq. The stakes are clearly much higher, as the former super power is throwing her weight on the side of Iran and Syria. Waiting in the wings is Pakistan, which has nukes, as well as China, and India. I have never seen the situation so tenuous as it is now. If you don’t have food and water it would be a good time to begin to stash some of these essential items now in preparation for what may be coming. We should also be praying for the peace of Jerusalem, as the real target in all of this is Israel. We can choose to sit back and relax as we watch the Sunday game and believe that all is well, and it’s business as usual, or we can understand the signs of the times that are screaming at us and like the wise virgins have oil in our lamps. Prepare now!
An Iranian attack on Israel would be tantamount to attacking the United States, US Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) told an auditorium full of high school students in Jerusalem on Monday.
Inouye, introduced to the students by former AIPAC president Robert Asher as the best friend Israel has in Congress, said he discussed the Iranian threat in a meeting earlier in the day with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
“We in the US are deeply concerned with the activities in Iran,” said Inouye, who is America’s senior senator, having served continuously since 1963. “If the Iranians should ever develop a nuclear device or bomb, that could mean the end of the world as we know it in the Middle East. It would have an impact on all countries, not just Israel. As a result, our position is that if you attack Israel, you are attacking the United States.”
Inouye is the president pro tempore of the US Senate, making him third in line to succeed the US president, following the vice president and speaker of the house. He is also chairman of the powerful senate appropriations committee, and is here
leading a delegation from that committee that also includes Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD).
Asked to explain the close US-Israel relationship, Inouye said that “if one looks at most of this world, especially the Middle East, one country stands out as a foundation of stability and as a pillar of democracy. And at a time like this, when you have revolution in Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan, thank God we have Israel.”
Inouye, who lost an arm while fighting in Europe during World War II, and was later decorated with a Congressional Medal of Honor for his service, traced his interest in Jews and Judaism to his rehabilitation in a military hospital in New Jersey in 1945.
Inouye said that in the next bed over was another soldier recuperating from his wounds. When Inouye asked the man about his wounds, the “blonde, blue-eyed officer” said it happened after he liberated a prison camp “where there were ovens, and people cooked in the ovens, and bodies stacked up” like kindling wood.
“I asked him what kind of prison it was, was it for murderers?” Inouye retold the tale in his deep, bass voice.
“‘No,’ he said, ‘they were Jews.’ I asked what crime they committed, and his answer changed my life. He said, ‘Well you know, Dan, people don’t like Jews.’” Inouye said this left a lasting impression on him, and that a few years later, when the honor society at his law school, George Washington University, refused to accept two students because they were Jewish, he said he told the group that if the Jews were blackballed, “then kick me out, too.”
Inouye dated his concrete connection to Israel back to 1951, when he was a salesman in Hawaii for Israel bonds. He quipped that he was the first person in his state to buy an Israeli bond, and still has it framed in his office, along with a mezuzah on the door and “menorahs all over the place.”
“There was a time I considered conversion,” he said.
“But I decided not to because my mother was such a devout Christian, she might not get over it.”
Asked where he thought Israel-US relations would be a century from now, Inouye said it was difficult to predict relations 100 years down the line. As proof, he said, just look at America’s close alliance with Great Britain, once its colonial masters, and with Japan, once the US’s worst enemy.
But, he said, “In the case of Israel, because of the unusual situation in this area, the relationship will be strengthened because of our mutual interests. As long as the mutual interest remains, I’d say we will remain good friends.”
Sodom and Gomorrah forget about the economy...wait for the heat
The Government claims that their fingerprint database (IAFIS) is the "largest biometric database in the world," containing records for over a hundred million people. But that's nothing compared to the agency's plans for Next Generation Identification (NGI), a massive, billion-dollar upgrade that will hold iris scans, photos searchable with face recognition technology, palm prints, and measures of gait and voice recordings alongside records of fingerprints, scars, and tattoos.
Ambitions for the final product are candidly spelled out in an agency report: "The FBI recognizes a need to collect as much biometric data as possible within information technology systems, and to make this information accessible to all levels of law enforcement, including International agencies." (A stack of documents related to NGI was obtained by the Center for Constitutional Rights and others after a FOIA lawsuit.)
It'll be "Bigger -- Better -- Faster," the FBI brags on their Web site. Unsurprisingly, civil libertarians have concerns about the privacy ramifications of a bigger, better, faster way to track Americans using their body parts.
"NGI will expand the type and breadth of information FBI keeps on all of us," says Sunita Patel of the Center for Constitutional Rights. "There should be a balance between gathering information for law enforcement, and gathering information for its own sake."
1. Face Recognition
This month, the FBI is giving police departments in 4 states access to face recognition technology that lets them search the agency's mugshot database with only an image of a face. Police can repay the favor by feeding the FBI mugshots they collect from local arrests, bulking up the agency's database with images of more and more people.
The face recognition pilot program is supposed to expand to police departments across the country by 2014. When it's fully operational, the FBI expects its database to contain as many records of faces as there are fingerprints in the current database -- about 70 million, reports Nextgov.com. The agency's optimism seems warranted. If most local police departments are agreeable about information-sharing NGI can vacuum up images from all over the country.
2. Iris Scans
Iris-scanning technology is the centerpiece of the second-to-last stage in the roll-out of NGI (scheduled for sometime before 2014). Iris scans offer up several advantages to law enforcement, both in terms of identifying people and fattening up databases.
The pattern of an iris is so unique it can distinguish twins, and it allegedly stays the same throughout a person's life. Like facial recognition, iris scans cut out the part where someone has to be arrested or convicted of a crime for law enforcement to grab a record of their biometric data.
"This capability has the potential to benefit law enforcement by requiring less interaction with subjects and will allow quicker acquisition," reads a CJIS report to the White House Domestic Policy Council.
3. Rap-Back System
A lot of the action in the FBI's fingerprint database is in background checks for job applicants applying to industries that vet for criminal history, like taking care of the elderly or children, hospital work, and strangely, being a horse jockey in Michigan. As Cari Athens, writing for the Michigan Telecommunications and Law Review points out, if a job applicant checks out, the FBI either destroys the prints or returns them to the employer. But that's no fun if the goal is to collect vast amounts of biometric data!
Through the "Rap-Back" system, the FBI will offer employers another option: the agency is willing to keep the fingerprints in order to alert the employer if their new hire has run-ins with the law at any point in the future.
"The Rap-Back Service will provide authorized users the capability to receive notification of criminal and, in limited cases, civil activity of enrolled individuals that occurs after the initial processing and retention of criminal or civil fingerprint transactions," reads the FBI site.
4. Data Sharing Between Agencies
The roll-out of NGI advances another goal: breaking down barriers between databases operated by different agencies. One of the directives of the billion-dollar project is to grease information swapping between the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Defense. The DOJ and DHS have worked toward "interoperatibility" between their databases for years. In 2009, the Department of Defense and DOJ also signed on to an agreement to share biometric information.
5. NGI and Secure Communities (S-Comm)
One recent test run in interagency data-sharing has not gone particularly well: Secure Communities, a DHS program that lets local law enforcement officials run the fingerprints of people booked in jails against the IDENT database to check their immigration status and tip off ICE to undocumented immigrants.
Like many policies targeting America's immigrant population, Secure Communities (S-Comm) -- pitched as protection against violent criminals -- devolved into dragnets and mass deportations, with people getting dragged in for minor offenses like missing business permits and even for reporting crimes. In one incident a woman called the police about a domestic violence incident, only to be ensnared in deportation proceedings herself. As Marie Diamond points out in Think Progress, DHS's immigration databases have so many errors that the program "routinely flags citizens as undocumented immigrants."
Israel is preparing for an Iran with nuclear capabilities within the next 12 months, according to a report by the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), an Israeli think tank.
The U.K. daily Times newspaper published extracts of the report by the Tel Aviv University institute on Monday, according to an AFP report.
The INSS was asked to prepare possible scenarios in case Iran carries out nuclear weapons tests by security, intelligence and diplomatic officials, AFP reported the Times as saying.
According to INSS predictions, Iranian nuclear weapons tests would change the balance of power in the Middle East region.
If Tehran carries out nuclear weapons tests, the U.S. will offer Israel a defense pact, but would urge Israel not to respond with an attack on Iran, according to AFP.
Russia would be expected to sign a deal with the U.S. in order to prevent armament in the region, and Saudi Arabia would be likely to develop its own nuclear capabilities, according to the report.
On Monday, the UN International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that Iran had begun uranium enrichment at Fordow, near the Shi’ite holy city of Qom, and said all atomic material there was under its surveillance.
Diplomats in Vienna, home of the IAEA, said earlier on Monday that Iran had begun refining uranium to a fissile purity of 20 percent at Fordow.
How should people prepare for the difficult years that are coming? I get asked about that a lot. Once people really examine the facts, it is not too hard to convince them that an economic collapse is coming. But once they accept that reality, most of them want to know what they can do to prepare themselves and their families for the hard times that are ahead. Well, the truth is that it does not have to be complicated. Many of the things discussed throughout this article are things that most of us should be doing anyway. Now is not the time to be splurging on luxuries or expensive vacations. Now is not the time to be going into large amounts of debt. Instead, we all need to get back to the basics and we all need to do what we can to become more independent of the system. Just remember what happened back in 2008. Millions of Americans lost their jobs and millions of Americans lost their homes. Now experts all over the globe are warning that another great financial crisis that could be just as bad as 2008 (or even worse) is coming. Those that don't take the time to prepare this time are not going to have any excuse.
But there is also a lot of sensationalism out there. There are some people out there that claim that the economy is going to collapse all at once and that we are going to go from where we are now to some type of a post-apocalyptic "Mad Max" society almost overnight.
Well, that is just not going to happen. We are not going to wake up next week in a world where we are all fighting each other with sharp pointed sticks.
Just like anything else, an economic collapse takes time. I like to describe what is happening using an analogy from the beach. When you build a mighty sand castle, it is not totally destroyed by the first wave that comes along, right?
Well, it is the same thing with the U.S. economy. It was the greatest economic machine that the world has ever seen, and it is most definitely in decline. But there are stages to that decline.
The "wave" that came along in 2008 did a huge amount of damage. Our economy has not recovered from that.
Now another wave is coming. But that will not be the end. There will be other waves after that.
Eventually, this thing is coming all the way down. Someday America will be such a horror show that it will be hard to believe that it is the same place that many of us grew up in.
But in the short-term, we are going to be facing a major league recession and millions of Americans will lose their jobs. It won't be the end of the world, but for some people it may feel like it.
So when you are talking about "how to prepare", the truth is that it depends on what kind of time frame you are talking about.
In the long-term, a lot of the things that even the hardcore survivalists are doing will not be nearly enough.
In the short-term, there are things that all of us can do to weather the coming storm....
Get Out Of Debt
The global financial system is headed for a massive crisis. Just like in 2008, a lot of people are going to lose their jobs and a lot of people are going to lose their homes.
In such an environment, it makes sense to travel as "lightly" as possible.
That means getting rid of debt.
Some forms of debt are worse than others. Mortgage debt is not that bad. We all need somewhere to live, and not all of us can run out and immediately pay off our mortgages.
But there are other forms of debt that are absolutely toxic. A good example of this is credit card debt. There are very few things that are as good at bleeding your finances as credit card debt is. For example, according to the credit card repayment calculator, if you have a $6000 balance on a credit card with a 20 percent interest rate and only pay the minimum payment each time, it will take you 54 years to pay off that credit card.
During those 54 years you will pay $26,168 in interest rate charges on that credit card balance in addition to the $6000 in principal that you are required to pay back. That is before any fees or penalties are even calculated.
But a lot of Americans still have not learned to stay away from credit card debt. In fact, one out of every seven Americans has at least 10 credit cards.
The truth is that in future years there is a good chance that you may be facing a situation where you are not making as much income, so you want to try to start reducing your expenses right now. Getting out of debt will help you to do this.
A shockingly high number of American families are operating without any kind of financial cushion whatsoever....
-According to a Harris Interactive survey taken in 2010, 77 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.
-According to one recent survey, one out of every three Americans would not be able to make a mortgage or rent payment next month if they suddenly lost their current job.
This is one reason why so many Americans have lost their homes and why so many Americans have fallen below the poverty level in recent years. They simply had no cushion.
Last year, 2.6 million more Americans dropped into poverty. That was the largest increase that we have seen since the U.S. government began keeping statistics on this back in 1959.
Don't let this happen to you. At a minimum, everyone out there should have a cushion that will cover at least 6 months worth of expenses. Preferably, you should have a cushion that will last you at least a year.
Yes, I know that is a tall order. But you would be amazed at how much money the average American family wastes in a typical month. Almost all of us have areas where we can cut back.
Trust me, in the middle of a major recession you will be really glad that you are sitting on a pile of savings.
Get Independent Of The System
What would you do if you lost your job tomorrow?
Would you have any other income?
How long would it be before you lost your home?
Those are very important questions.
The truth is that the system is failing and so we all need to work hard to become more independent of the system.
So what does that mean?
Well, instead of relying on someone else to employ you indefinitely, you can start up a business in your spare time. Yes, it will cut into your television time, but if someday you lose your job you will be extremely happy that you still have some income coming in.
Another way of becoming more independent is to start a garden.
Yes, you can run down the street and buy giant piles of cheap food right now, but that will not be the case forever.
Store Food And Focus On The Essentials
I might get into a little trouble for saying this, but the truth is that there is not going to be a major famine in America in 2012.
However, that does not mean that you should not be storing food and other essentials.
In the old days, our grandparents always saved up food. It was just a natural thing for them to do. This was especially the case if they lived through the Great Depression.
When hard times come, you will be glad that you have food stored up. Plus, food is never going to be cheaper than it is today. Having food stored up is a great hedge against the rising food prices that we will see in the future.
No, we are not going to see hyperinflation by the end of the year like many of the sensationalists are warning. But someday you will be really glad that you stored up food for yourself and your family.
We live in a world that is becoming more unstable with each passing month. You never know when the next natural disaster, pandemic, war or national emergency will strike.
It only makes sense to store food and other basic essentials that you will need in the future.
In a previous article entitled "20 Things You Will Need To Survive When The Economy Collapses And The Next Great Depression Begins", I listed 20 of the things that you would need in the event of a major disaster, a national emergency or a total economic collapse. These are things that you are going to want to make sure that you have ready right now, because after the crisis begins it may be too late to prepare....
#1) Storable Food
#2) Clean Water
#4) Warm Clothing
#5) An Axe
#6) Lighters Or Matches
#7) Hiking Boots Or Comfortable Shoes
#8) A Flashlight And/Or Lantern
#9) A Radio
#10) Communication Equipment
#11) A Swiss Army Knife
#12) Personal Hygiene Items
#13) A First Aid Kit And Other Medical Supplies
#14) Extra Gasoline (But Be Very Careful How You Store It)
#15) A Sewing Kit
#16) Self-Defense Equipment
#17) A Compass
#18) A Hiking Backpack
#19) A Community
#20) A Backup Plan
In the comments to that article, the readers suggested the following additional items....
A K-Bar Fighting Knife
A Camp Stove
An LED Headlamp
Maps Of Your Area
Rifle For Hunting
Gold And Silver Coins For Bartering
Once again, a lot of these things are not going to be needed right away. The economy is going to go through a lot more ups and downs before it totally dies.
In the short-term, keep an eye on the European debt crisis, the Japanese debt crisis and the U.S. debt crisis. There are a lot of similarities between what happened back in 2008 and what is happening now.
And what happened following the crisis of 2008?
Unemployment shot through the roof.
So be prepared for that.
Make a plan for how you and your family will survive if you end up unemployed.
Also, when it comes to "how to prepare", there is one aspect that is often overlooked.
During the difficult years ahead, we are all going to have to be mentally and spiritually tough.
It won't matter how good your physical and financial preparations are if you are cowardly and paralyzed by fear.
The times that are coming are going to test all of our hearts.
Some people are going to make it and some people aren't.
Some people will become so consumed with fear that they will give up completely.
Don't let that happen to you.
Prepare your heart, soul, mind and body right now for what is coming. For those that are cowardly the years ahead will be a total nightmare, but for those that overcome the fear the years ahead have the potential to be a great adventure.
The Economic Collapse