Thursday, May 28, 2015

Don't Mess with Our Pigs: Wednesday Devotion

Luke 8: 26 - 40 NHEB

 26  They arrived at the country of the Gerasenes. which is opposite Galilee.

 27  When Jesus stepped ashore, a certain man out of the city who had demons for a long time met him. He wore no clothes, and did not live in a house, but in the tombs.

 28  When he saw Jesus, he shouted, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, “What do I have to do with you, Jesus, you Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me!”

 29  For Jesus was commanding the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For the unclean spirit had often seized the man. He was kept under guard, and bound with chains and fetters. Breaking the bands apart, he was driven by the demon into the desert.

 30  Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered into him.

 31  They begged him that he would not command them to go into the abyss. 

 32  Now there was there a herd of many pigs feeding on the mountain, and they begged him that he would allow them to enter into those. He allowed them.

 33  The demons came out from the man, and entered into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake, and were drowned.

 34  When those who fed them saw what had happened, they fled, and told it in the city and in the country.

 35  Then people went out to see what had happened. They came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, clothed and in his right mind; and they were afraid.

 36  Those who saw it told them how he who had been possessed by demons was healed.

 37  All the people of the surrounding country of the Geresenes asked him to depart from them, for they were very much afraid. He entered into the boat, and returned.

 38  But the man from whom the demons had gone out begged him that he might go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying,
 39  “Return to your house, and declare what great things God has done for you.” He went his way, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.

I love this story for a lot of reasons.

First, this was a Gentile city with a heavy Greco/Roman population and Jesus went there on purpose. This in my opinion proves that Jesus didn't limit himself to the Jewish people even during His earthly ministry.
Second, demons knew who Jesus was and knew He had power to command them. Not only that, demons can experience fear. They begged not to be cast into the abyss. The fact that demons begged shows that they fear the abyss. There are entirely articles and even books written about the abyss, so we won't go there for now. Just the realization that demons experience fear is enough.

Third, this shows the absolute power and authority Jesus had as a person on this earth. Just the knowledge that he was able to cast that many demons out is mind boggling.  But this story brings up some questions as well.

Why was the demon's name Legion?

When the demon began begging Jesus not to send them to the abyss, Jesus asked its name. The response was "my name is Legion for we are many" Mark 5:9. A Roman legion normally consisted of up to 6,000 soldiers. Why do I bring this up? Well if there were say only 5 demons in the man then logically only 5 pigs would have committed suicide. Again according to Mark 5:13 over 2000 pigs ran into the sea. There could have been multiple demons in a pig, but I think it is safe to say that around 2000 demons were in this man.

Why did Jesus allow the demons to enter the pigs?

This is a question I have thought about often. Was Jesus showing mercy on the demons? What happened to the swine herder? Why did the people ask Him to leave? Why did Jesus make the man stay and not allow him to become a disciple? We will take each one of these questions.

Was Jesus showing mercy on the demons? 

I actually thought this at first, but then I thought why would he do that? At first I thought Jesus was just that compassionate, but as I kept reading I realized that there were several times that the Bible said Jesus was moved with compassion. This was not one of those times. I think Jesus saw an opportunity to impact an entire city and not just this man and his family. I know this sounds bad, but delivering a man from his bondage would not have had as immediate an impact as the pigs did. The pigs effected the entire city. These were Gentile people and we love our bacon. Having that many pigs die at once was a big deal. That in conjunction with the man now being able to function was huge.

What happened to the swine herder? 

I wish I could give you an answer, but I really can't. I do know that everyone who was keeping the pigs witnessed what happened and told the residents of the city what had occurred. For a short period of time, I am sure they were local celebrities.

Why did the towns people ask Jesus to leave? 

The most obvious reason is fear, but why would these people be more afraid of Jesus than a demon possessed man? I think there are a couple of reasons the towns people feared Jesus more than the demon possessed man.
  1. They had gotten used to him. Yes he terrorized people and he was naked and he couldn't be confined, but "That is just crazy ol' Joe." If this were today this man might have even been a tourist attraction. I can imagine people coming from miles around just to see Ol' Joe. They would have had to bought something to eat and maybe even spend the night.
  2. This was different. When they didn't want to deal with Ol' Joe they would bind him with chains. This would keep him for a little while, but he would break the chains and run off. Now however; he was sitting at the feet of a man, fully clothed, and carrying a normal conversation. This would be enough to make anyone question the power involved.
  3. This event cost the town dearly. This herd of pigs could have been the entire supply of pork for that city. The truth is we don't know. What we do know is this freaked out the community. Don't Mess With Our Pigs!

Why did Jesus not let the man follow Him? 

I really wish we knew this guys name. This man was the first evangelist. His job was simple tell your story. That is all, no more. Apparently he told it well. He told everyone who would listen and even talked at people who didn't want to listen. Not only did the man that was freed talk, you know the swine herders talked about it a lot as well.

 40  When Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him.

Here is where the story of an entire town turning Jesus away because He messed with their bacon becomes a story of victory. We really don't know how long it was between these two trips, but we do know it was long enough for the word to spread. The second time Jesus came to town not only was He welcomed, the town was waiting for Him to return.


We don't see demon possession in modern times, or do we? I believe that demon possession is still alive and well in today's world. I do think most of the time it takes on a different look. The devil is smart, anyone who says he isn't has not been paying attention. I believe the devil adjust his strategy based on the situation. In a time when everyone was religious, fear was a great attractor of attention. In a time when people are more secular and selfish a more subtle approach is better.

I am sure this town was grateful to have the demon possessed man freed. No more worrying if he would attack a merchant on the road, no more interruptions during festivals,  there would be many reasons to be thankful that this man was freed from this bondage. But, before the full knowledge of what had truly occurred in the life of this man and in the life of the town, there was the immediate loss of their ham, bacon, and chops. No matter who we are we have things that we would like to be freed from. But just like this town there are things that we would rather not do without.

We do not have to follow strict dietary guidelines in order to become a Christian. There are a lot of things that people claim are a part of the Christian life that really aren't. There are many rules that have been made since the time of Christ. These rules may have started out with a good reason, but in time they become ritual more than worship or practice rather than praise.

I am a firm believer that when a person becomes a Christian they do not have to do anything on their own. The things that God wants them to give up, He will work on the person from the inside out and they will want to give those things up as well. Don't focus on legalism of religion. Focus on the freedom of Jesus.

I hope you enjoy these Wednesday Devotions.

Bringing Rural Back

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Friday, May 22, 2015

ReLeaf Leaf Scoops a review

<a href="">Releaf Leaf Scoops - Superior Quality Ergonomic Large Hand Held Rakes, Fast Leaf + Lawn Grass Removal, Proven Hand Held Helper, Perfect Trash Loaders. Get The Best Grabber Today!</a><img src="" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />

When I first saw this product I wondered "Why didn't I think of that?" It is a good idea, especially for small land owners, suburbanites, and folks with micro plots. It is simple and it works, for the most part. Don't worry we are going to cover it all.


The ReLeaf leaf scoops are pretty self explanatory. They are basically handles extensions. By using the scoops the volume you can handle each load is increased quite a bit. Just use them like you would your hands to gather up materials like leaves, pine straw, wheat straw, or mulch.

Light Work

On dry and even damp leaves the ReLeaf leaf scoops do a fine job. Pine straw is also a go. For light work these things are really good.


Here is where I have a problem. My right wrist is a little deformed. One of my bones stick out further than normal. The scoops are comfortable on my left hand on my right it is fine until I have a load in the scoop. I talked about the discomfort in the video but I didn't know what was causing the pain till later. The pain is caused by my wrist , not the design. 

I have wrapped the right scoops wrist strap with padding and vet wrap. That has helped a lot to reduce the discomfort.


Medium Work

As soon as you move into heavier weight materials like mulch or even some compost, you begging to get to the outer limits of the scoops design. If you watch the video you will notice that while trying to mix composted manure and mulch the scoops buckled a good bit. They were still able to do what I wanted to get done, but you could almost hear them groan from the strain.

If you would like to see my video of the  ReLeaf scoops in action you can do so below.

Final Thoughts

 This is a really good idea and for the smaller land owner the ReLeaf Leaf Scoops may be just what you need. They are not intended for heavy materials and are perfect for what they are designed for. I use them, I really do. If I hadn't gotten them for free to review, I would still buy them. They do have their limitations, but all in all they are a go.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

On Following Christ and Plowing

Puts a hand to the Plow
Original art from the Gutenberg Project

Luke 9: 57 - 62 NIV

57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”

But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”

62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

There is a massive difference between reading something and reading something with the intention of teaching or explaining. I have read this many times before, but it wasn't until I started working on this post that I realized how harsh these responses sounded. After digging a little deeper, I think I understand.

This scripture has been on my list for the Wednesday Devotion ever since I made the decision to start this series. There is a lot here to cover.

At the time of this scripture Jesus is pretty much at the height of his earthly ministry. I figure there were lots of people who were following Him around, but there was a difference in following and being a follower. Where ever Jesus was exciting things happened. People were healed, demons were cast out of people, multitudes of people were fed by a child's sack lunch. Wherever Jesus was, was the place to be. But being a part of the inner circle, that was different.

The end of Jesus's earthly ministry was drawing near and before someone was accepted as a disciple, Jesus wanted them to understand the cost.

No Home

Jesus had a traveling ministry. He and his disciples slept under the stars as often if not more often than they slept in someone's home. Even then it was someone who invited them to stay. I believe these opportunities decreased a great deal after the four friends tore the roof off of a house to be able to get their paralysed friend before Him. Warning this man that they had no home was fair and honest.

Let the Dead Bury Their Dead

This one I found a little difficult to understand for a while. According to Jewish tradition, when a family member died, someone has to stay with the body. All of the immediate family are required by tradition to be mourners. This young man really should have been with his family. If this young man was willing to avoid his traditional responsibility to his family, how would he react in the face of persecution.

Let Me First Say Goodbye

This one I understood easily.  This man wanted to follow Jesus, but he wanted to tell his folks goodbye, that seems normal enough, but I believe that there is a lot more to it. Can you imagine what the scene would have been like around Jesus on a daily basis? To be counted among His true followers probably came with a level of notoriety. The religious leaders would hate you, but the common people would say "He is a follower of Jesus" and say it with a level of respect and possible awe. People can be easily swayed by emotion. I know some who have declared faith in Christ because their friends did so or because their parents wanted them to, or even because the preacher gave an emotional message that moved them. The decision to become a Christian is not one to be made lightly. Conviction should be the motivator not emotion. These two are easily confused. Conviction can come and go, but it is an insistent knowledge of being imperfect. It can be a regular remembrance of a specific event or a general sense of missing the mark. After all that is what sin is.

Sin is an archery term.  To sin is to miss the bulls-eye, while still hitting the target. Anything short of perfection is sin and sin is a word we do not like to use.

The Plowing Analogy

I love this analogy. It is a perfect word picture of a Christians life. If you have ever plowed a field with mules, horses, oxen, or a tractor even for that matter, this statement is easy to understand. When I first started learning to plow using draft animals, I was lucky enough to find an ol' timer to help me out. His first bit of advice what "Don't look at what you are doing. Find a landmark off in the distance, focus on that, drive toward that mark." When I followed that advice I had nice straight furrows. As soon as I looked at the plow cutting through the ground, my furrow would be a little off. A couple of times I looked back to admire my work. As soon as I did, I had a major curve in my furrow. 

An old photo of Abbie and myself taking a little break.
We as Christians are a lot like my plowing job. As long as we keep our eyes on Jesus we are able to stay straight. As soon as we take our eyes of Jesus and start looking at what we are doing problems begin. If we start looking back it is real easy to get sideways. 

There are always things in our past that can take our eyes off of Jesus. Many times we as people want to revel in our victories,  brag about our scars, cry over our heartaches, and complain over the ways we have been mistreated. This is true in so many ways and it is something that I still struggle with.

Looking back not only affects our relationship with God, it can also hinder our relationship with others. My wife is the most wonderful woman in the world. Don't believe me? Just ask me and I will tell you again. We have both been through some really bad relationships in the past. From time to time however we will both revert back to the reactions we had in our previous relationships, I more often than her. It is not fair to my wife for me to look at her through the lens created by someone else. When we both focus on Jesus and each other, in that order things work so much better.

I hope you are enjoying the Wednesday Devotions.

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Global Economic Collapse: Part 2 Can It Really Happen?

If you haven't read part 1 I encourage you to do so, it will help you understand where we are now.

The US as a Global Economic Power

How has the US had it so good for so long?

The US prior to world war two had some severe ups and downs economically. Since world war two we have had it pretty good. Yes we have had some hard times and a few recessions, but nothing that could compare with the great depression.

Have we just been lucky? Have our leaders done that much better a job than other countries? Is it just because the American spirit is so strong? Nope, nope, and nope.

The Gold Standard

After world war two the world's economy was pretty much in shambles. Out of all of the countries involved in World War II the United States came out the best. The US had very little damage to infrastructure, the US had been in overdrive producing everything they could to support the war effort, so profits were high. Plus when all of the men came back there were fewer of them so the labor pool was smaller. I know that sounds cruel, but it is true. You cannot give a job to someone who died on the battlefield.

In July 1944 delegates of the United Nations and what would become the IMF (International Monetary Fund) met in New Hampshire to try and restore stability to the global economy. At the time the United States controlled 2/3 of the world's gold. An agreement made the US dollar the anchor of all of the other world currencies. This agreement insured that every country could convert US dollars to gold at a set rate $35.00 per ounce. The US would support other nations and their central banks within set regulations.

The Bretton Woods Conference thrust the Untied States into the lead role of the world economy. What did that do for the US? It guaranteed that the US and its citizens could borrow money at a lower interest rate than really anyone else in the world.  Since the US dollar was guaranteed to be convertible to gold at a rate of $35.00 per ounce the demand for the US dollar increased which strengthened the dollar. This hurt US exports, but benefited everyone else in the country. This agreement is what ushered in the prosperity that was seen during the 1950's.

This system didn't last very long.

The Nixon Shock

President Richard Nixon took the United States off of the gold standard. This action basically nullified the Bretton Woods agreement. However Nixon had another idea in mind. This is when the US went to a fiat/debt backed system. Nixon negotiated Saudi Arabia a deal where anyone who wanted to purchase oil from their country would have to do so in US dollars (petrodollar). Within just a few years all of the OPEC nations agreed to the same terms. This thrust the US dollar into reserve currency status. 

'Reserve Currency' A foreign currency held by central banks and other major financial institutions as a means to pay off international debt obligations, or to influence their domestic exchange rate.
Every time any country wanted to buy oil they would have to purchase US dollars to do so. In fact it actually went farther than that. If two countries wanted to to business with each other and they did not have a direct exchange rate, country one would have to buy US dollars to pay for the goods they wished to purchase from country two. After the transaction was completed country two would then have to sell the US dollars back to the US for their own currency. Each time a transaction like this took place the US got a small cut, a transaction fee if you wish.

Why would the OPEC nations agree to this? Well, Nixon promised that the US would protect their oil fields and that we would sell them weapons. Most wars really are about money.

So What Is the Problem Here? 

I know this all sounds great, but there is one massive problem. The US is losing its place as the reserve world currency. Iran, Venezuela, and Russia are all large oil producing nations, they do not use the US dollar as the Petrodollar. They negotiate a direct exchange rate. China is working to circumvent the US as a reserve currency, even our close ally Australia has entered an agreement with China for a direct exchange rate, leaving the US dollar out of the loop. Then we get to our debt, holy cow does the United States have debt.

Could The US Experience a Collapse?

I really wish I could tell you not to worry, this will never happen here, but I can't. The truth of the matter is that something will happen along these lines. What an economic restructuring or collapse will look like in the US is anyone's guess. If someone tells you they know exactly what it will look like they are either lying to you, themselves, selling something or a combination of all of the above.

The current official inflation rate in the US is right around 2.5%. This would have been considered really high throughout most of history with a gold back currency, but on our fiat/debt based system this is about average. Every year the dollars buying power is eroding.

The current US national debt is 18.2 trillion ($18,200,000,000,000). Current personal debt in the US is 16.8 trillion. The US current unfunded liabilities is 95.8 trillion. Our gross debt to GDP ration is 102.67%. All of these numbers are going up and the economy is supposed to be doing so much better. At our current spending and revenue levels we will eventually not be able to service our debt. You can see a running total of all of these at

If the US has an economic collapse the whole world will go down with us. Why do I say that? Because the world is so interconnected.  Over 6 trillion of our debt is help by other countries. If foreign countries  only hold 6 trillion, who do we owe the other 12 trillion to? Truth is it is a mixture nearly half of the 18.2 trillion dollar debt is owed to ourselves.

If we owe most of the debt to ourselves why not just cancel it out? Well it is not that easy. First the Social security trust fund really doesn't exist. There is no money that has been set aside with your name on it. In fact there isn't even an account somewhere with all the contributions in it. All of that money has been spent, there is nothing there but an IOU. So you see if we just forgave all of the debt held by US citizens, a lot of those citizens who have paid in the longest would starve to death. The balance is held by corporations and foreign investors. 

How can we be so in debt and still give away so much money? That one is tricky. We actually take part of the money that we borrow and give it to foreign countries. Why on earth would be do that? Well, there are a couple of reasons, one is simple and one is just sad.

(1) We give money to our friends to help them out. I have known people who have done this. They have taken out a loan to be able to help a friend. I can see how this would appear to be an honorable act, but it most cases it is not very smart. If a friend is in serious trouble taking out a loan to help them, could give them some temporary relief. If they are a good friend that will at a minimum show thanks and hopefully pay you back at some point. However if the root of the financial problems of your friend are not addressed it will not be long before they are in the same situation if not worse. The same thing is true of nations. If there was a massive natural disaster I am all for financially helping an ally. If however, the hard times are caused by the authorities using the national coffers to enrich themselves or their friends, or they are used to garner favor with their people I am opposed. Just look at Greece above. Austerity had to be put in place in order to start fixing their problems. Greece is not out of danger even today.

(2) We give money to groups and countries hoping they will become our friends. This one is just sad and most of the time it doesn't work. Maybe you will remember when we were helping the "insurgents" all throughout the Middle East. Most of these groups have turned into the bane of our existence today. The Islamic State was actually once supported by our government. Look at what they have turned into now.

Not only are we giving money away to other countries, we are spending money here like there is no tomorrow. I cannot even begin to tell you all of the stuff we spend money on that should be done by private enterprise. Bottom line is we spend too much money.

If we fail there is no one big enough to bail us out. Not to mention there are a lot of countries that are in as bad if not worse shape when it comes to their budgets.

I know it is difficult to see but trust me its not good.

Of our allies Australia's external debt is 97% of GDP (gross domestic product), England 318% but going down due to austerity measures, France 200% and rising, Germany 159% and rising, Greece 218% and falling due to austerity measures, Ireland 822% and falling due to austerity measures, well anyway you get the picture. Most of the nations of the world are either getting deeper in debt or are having to get their budgets inline with what they actually bring in. Which countries are doing best? It is not good news for the US. China, Brazil, Russia, India, and Saudi Arabia are the best performers.

Gross Domestic Product - the total value of goods produced and services provided in a country during one year.


Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa are working hard to unseat the US dollar as the world reserve currency. Not only that they are attempting to set up a bank that would rival the IMF. They feel that the IMF has too much of a western influence.

When Will a Collapse Come?

At some point one of three things will happen that will force an economic event. 1) The interest on national debt will become so great that the US will no longer be able to make the payments or 2) People will loose trust in the United States and will require higher interest rates to buy bonds, 3) The US will have an administration that believes that it can print or even tax its way out of debt.  Any of these is bad news. 

You may remember in 2011 when the US credit rating was downgraded from AAA to AA+ by one of the credit ratings companies. There were people who thought that was the end of the world, does it cost the US a little more than it did to borrow money? Not yet, the other two of the big three reporting companies still have the US at a AAA. If the US were to go through something like Greece has where their rating has been reduced to a B rating or "junk" status, the US would have a hard time.

No one can really give you a date that a collapse will occur. Why not? Well because the collapse has already started. The world will not wake up one day and the global economy be on the rocks. To some it will look like it, but it will have been a slow downward spiral. We are already seeing the US dollar lose its place as the Petrodollar. This will continue to happen and it will erode the dollars buying power because the dollar will no longer be in as big a demand. We will continue to see the buying power of the dollar decrease as a result of inflation. We will continue to see the US government spending money on things they shouldn't and spending money they don't have. It is like putting an alcoholic in charge of a brewery, they cannot help themselves.

 Can This Be Prevented?

At one time I would have said yes without a second thought, now it is a very shaky maybe.  Politicians are doing everything they can to delay a major economic adjustment, that is short of addressing the actual problem. I have heard politician talk about cutting spending, but it has all been smoke and mirrors. Allow me to explain.

In the Untied States budget there is built into almost every category an automatic spending increase. When politicians talk about cutting spending, even when they say they are trying to cut spending all they are doing in decreasing the increase. If a program receives $1000 this year and it is supposed to have an annual increase of 10% next year that budget would be $1100. A politician will tell you they are cutting spending for this program by 10% that does not mean that next year the program will receive $900, what that means it the program will receive $1090. They have cut the increase by 10%. Research it you will find that to be true.

In order to fix the United States economic problem would require true cuts in spending or austerity. Austerity is not popular. Remember the riots in Greece? If you tell people they will not be receiving what they were promised or even worse what they believe they are entitled to, they get angry, very angry.

On tax increases. There are a lot of people who think tax increases are the way to go. You can hear their mantra "Tax the Rich". A tax increase only works for a short period of time. It doesn't take long for the mega rich to figure out a way around paying those taxes, they can afford the attorneys to do so. The ones that wind up getting hurt the most are the upper middle class and middle class. They cannot afford those attorneys and most of them have worked hard the get where they are.

A graduated tax system actually discourages people from trying their best. I remember one year, I received a raise at work and my paycheck actually went down. I went to HR and asked about it. I had gone up a tax bracket. Granted it didn't go down much but the fact is still I was making more money and getting to take home less.

Tax decreases have been talked about as a way to stimulate the economy as well. More economic growth means more people get jobs, which means a larger tax base, which means more money flowing into the government coffers. This can be true. If people have more money to spend they normally will. People spending more money means more people go to work, but if the jobs created are low end jobs the growth may not cover the tax loss. This has become increasingly the case as more and more manufacturing jobs have been moved overseas. Corporations have realized that it is cheaper to have something built in an emerging country and have it shipped to the industrialized nations than it is to build the items at home. There are some exceptions, but they are getting fewer: industrial machinery and a lot of the advanced medical equipment.

We might be able to produce ourselves out of this mess. The United States has become the number one exporter of natural gas in the world. This is one reason we have seen fuel prices decline in the past year. If (if is the biggest two letter word in the world, by the way) the government would take the additional revenues generated by the boon of natural gas sales and apply that to the national debt, we might escape.

The truth is that many politicians know that the system as it is set up is unsustainable and they do not care. All they are doing is putting it off as long as they can. Why would they not care? They are getting the goodies as long as they last. The ones who will benefit from a US restructuring are the banks that have bought and paid for these politicians. Now, I want you to notice I have not mentioned either of the dominant political parties. They are both owned by these same individuals and corporations.

Heck there are even some "experts" who claim that paying off the debt would be a bad thing.

The restructuring could be a reevaluation of the currency, issuance of a completely new currency, or an all out default.

What Can the Individual Do to Prepare?


Get out of Debt

I know this one is really tough for those of us who are working our tails off trying to make a better life for ourselves and our families. There are even those that say "If there is going to be hyperinflation, wouldn't it be better to be in debt that way you could pay it off in dollars that are worth less". This statement is true to some extent, but it only works if what the world winds up facing is hyperinflation and they are able to service the debt until a collapse comes. If the world faces deflation these people are in serious trouble.

My Paw Paw (my maternal grandfather) lived through the Great Depression. He said "During the Depression every store had things for sale, but no one had any money. The next Great Depression everyone will have money but there will be nothing to buy."

Learn Hard Skills

A hard skill is something that has value in and of itself, it must be teachable, and it must be able to be measured. Trades are hard skills. Carpentry, plumbing, farming, medical professions, computer programmers, things of that nature. Yup, I said computer programmers. Even after a major economic restructuring, the internet will be here. There are situations that could knock us back to the dark ages, but we are simply talking economics. Sales people would be hard pressed in a true economic collapse.

Start Your Own Business

A micro or cottage business  give an individual or family some stability in an unstable time. Not having to rely on a major corporation that has its fingers in all of the political mess is a very good thing. Something like selling firewood, making soap, teaching canning, anything that you have a large knowledge base in that is marketable. 

 For a good primer and an idea generator check out my first book. Micro and Cottage Businesses What You Need to Know and How to Get Started.

 Build Community

Having folks around you who are like minded can really help in a hard time. The old saying "Many hands make light work" is true. I know it means more mouths to feed, but it actually works to the favor of the community. If/when a economic restructuring or collapse occurs it will not be without pain and it will not be without violence, at least in some areas. No one can stay awake all the time for very long.

Hard Assets

The first thing that comes to mind for many when talking about economic collapse is gold and silver. It is true that historically gold and silver have never been worthless to what many would call civilization and that gold has kept its value in the face of inflation. But I am still torn on this one. If no one has anything you cannot eat precious metals, but as long as trade continues precious metals will be of value. I actually like silver more than gold. Why? Well for one it is more affordable to the average person, it is more likely to be in denominations that would be used. When gold was at $1600 per troy ounce a grain was worth $3.33. A grain is quite small. I wouldn't want to try to divide any smaller. Even if gold were to take over silver would still be needed for change.

Not just gold and silver though. Assets can be lumber, nails, seeds, really anything that people need.

Learn to Barter and Haggle

During harsh economic times people are going to try to get as much for what they have for sale as possible. At the same time people are also going to try to spend as little as possible for what they want. Enter haggling. Haggling is the art of price negotiations. If you don't know much about it you can read my post The Art of Haggling: An Introduction. I believe it will help you out even if something like this does not occur.

Barter is the art of trading something you have for something you need. It has been practiced for as long as there have been people. Here is a really old post called Barter is Back. It is not up to my current visual standards, but the information is still valid.


I believe a major economic shift will occur in the next 6 to 10 years. Why do I give it so long? There are several reasons. 
  1. The politicians are going to prolong it as long as possible. We may even see some form of austerity and true cuts to spending, but I believe that like Greece it will be too little too late.
  2. The United States will continue to leverage its natural gas production to keep other countries interested in our survival.
  3. Until the BRICS nations have divested themselves of our debt to them or set themselves up in a way so they can take the financial hit they will continue to help the US.
  4. Currently confidence in the US is still fairly strong. This will erode, but it will be a gradual decent.
I do not know if the economic shift will be a full on collapse, a revaluation of the currency, or an issuance of an entirely new currency, but I can tell you it will be painful and the ones who will benefit from this shift are the mega rich and those who are prepared.
I know this has been very long, but I hope you can tell I have put a lot of research into this topic and I have tried to be brutally honest.
One way or another we are
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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

It all Started in a Garden: Wednesday Devotion

Genesis 2:8-9, 15-17 NLT

8 Then the LORD God planted a garden in Eden in the east, and there he placed the man he had made. 9 The LORD God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground—trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit. In the middle of the garden he placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

15 The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. 16 But the LORD God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden— 17 except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”

Adam the Gardener

There is so much here. First God told man to tend and keep the garden. It was man's first job to be a gardener. Oh but there is more, so much more.

God placed man in the garden before He created woman. Adam was surrounded by so much beauty but something was still missing. God brought all of the animals before Adam to see what he would name them. I am sure this took a while. Then God created woman.

I have tried to imagine what life would have been like in the Garden. Sleeping when we get tired. Waking when we were refreshed. Selecting anything we wanted to eat and then planting the seeds of what we had just eaten. The beauty would have been unspeakable.

Paradise and a Soul Mate Too

Genesis 2:21-23 NASV

21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. 23 The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

Now imagine the most beautiful place you have ever seen and multiply that by, oh I don't know, say 1000. For us today the beauty would have been breathtaking. Now think about being in a place like that with your true soul mate. 

This was the very first family. Adam and Eve only had three commands: 1) Be fruitful and multiply 2) Take care of the garden and 3) Don't eat from one tree, the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
I want to pause here for just one moment. Man and woman's first command was to be fruitful and multiply, with this in mind where did God place them? Yup, he placed them in a garden, not in the mountains, not by the sea, He didn't even create them a village to help them get a jump start. He placed them in a garden. Why do you think He did this. I think we find at least part of the reason here.

God Loves a Garden

Genesis 3:8 NASV

8 They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

God created man for friendship, not servitude. God placed man in a garden because God loves a garden. This scripture occurs after man has sinned by eating of the only forbidden plant in the entire garden.
I believe God walked through the garden in the cool of the day fairly often. I don't think man and woman were surprised that God was walking in the garden. Cool of the day has also been translated "breezy time of the evening".

I must be fair at this point and state that some commentaries say that God was not out for an evening stroll, but was coming in judgment. However many of those same commentaries point out that Adam and Eve hid not because they were afraid but because they were naked.

Again I want to point out that man and woman only had three commands and they have already broken one of those. I don't know how long they were in the garden together communing with God and each other, but I hope it was a good long time. I hope it was, but I doubt it. 

The Blame Game

Genesis 3: 8 - 13 NIV

8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Does this exchange really sound like God was coming in a storm of vengeful judgement? Not to me. This sounds more like a caring parent or a close friend showing concern. 

God started calling "Where are you?". To me this means that God and man probably had regular walks through the garden. God already knew what was done, He didn't have to be told, but I believe He was giving Adam and Eve an opportunity to come clean, who knows maybe the curse wouldn't have been so bad. We will never know.

vs 10 I hid because I was naked. I find this very interesting. They had always been naked, in fact before God we are still all naked. They hid because they were ashamed and we as a people have been hiding from God ever since.

Now, I am probably going to offend a few folks. I don't mean to, but this is the way I see this scripture. God went to Adam first. He asked "Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?". Oh, if he had only had a backbone and said yes. He did eat from the tree that God had forbidden. He knew the fruit was from that tree. Eve did not force feed him. He wasn't even deceived. Adam committed open rebellion. He made a conscience decision to disobey God. 

How did Adam respond? He blamed his wife. I know this isn't popular anymore. I also know that the reason this isn't popular is because so many men wouldn't take the job, but the man was supposed to be the spiritual leader of the household. Women had to take over because too many men were just too lazy or too unconcerned to do their job. 

I can hear it now there are some guys and gals that are screaming "Preach on Brother!" and there are some of both that probably just decided they would never read another word I write. The thing is man was supposed to be the leader, not the master. Guys, if you have your soul mate, you have the most priceless gift that could ever be experienced on this earth. Ladies, if you have a man that treats you like you are supposed to be treated you will never feel dominated. Adam should have taken responsibility for his own actions, instead he passed the buck on to his wife. 

Eve told the truth, kinda. The serpent did put the thought in her mind or at least give the thought words. 

Genesis 3: 2 - 3 NIV

2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

I have read this story over and over and I cannot find where God said not to touch the tree of knowledge. Why did she add that to her response? 

Genesis 3: 6 

6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

See, Adam was with her the whole time. Why didn't Adam step in? Why didn't he run the serpent off? Why didn't he do anything? All of the beauty, all of the perfection, all of the peace, everything was thrown away to learn that we were naked. 

Ever since the fall of man we have tried to recreate the beauty of the Garden of Eden. There have been some beautiful gardens, but nothing will ever come close. From this point on we will find that the garden can truly be a spiritual place, in fact Jesus went to a garden himself to pray. There are many lessons to be learned from the soil and from nature.

I hope you are enjoying the Wednesday Devotions.

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Saturday, May 9, 2015

Global Economic Collapse: Part 1 Can it Really Happen?

Of all of the doomsday scenarios that have been floating around I think the most feasible is a global economic collapse. Economic collapse is not a new idea, in fact there have been several collapses through out our history. We are going to cover a few of these crises and their causes as well as similarities to what we are seeing today. Some will think this post common knowledge, others may see this as a revelation, and yes I know there are some who will think all of this is nonsense, that is okay.

What is Money?

Money is really nothing more than a social contract, a means of exchange, and a store of value. Modern money gets its value from two sources: 1 we believe it has value. I am confident that if I wish to purchase something I can take the little pieces of linen with a number and some pictures and writing on it and get what I want. If everyone woke up tomorrow and decided that these little pieces of linen paper were in fact just that the financial system of the entire world would collapse instantly. Thankfully that is not going to occur because we are creatures of habit and we still believe. 2 our government says those pieces of linen hold value.

When a government wants to legitimize a currency all they have to do is make it acceptable to use it to pay taxes, but many governments go a step farther and enforce that it must be accepted for private debts as well. This forces you as the individual living in this country to accept the paper as having value. This does not mean that you have to accept that currency exclusively. If I want to I can build you a bookshelf and if we agree ahead of time you could pay me in tomatoes or really anything else that we agree upon as long as that item is not illegal. This is called a fiat currency. Fiat money has value just because the government says so, it is only based on the strength of the country that issues it. In a true fiat based system the government decides how much of the money is printed and released each year. This means that the government is in total control of inflation and deflation. This can be a very bad thing.

Germany broke the link between the mark and gold and funded their war effort almost exclusively by borrowing. After World War I Germany was required to pay retribution to several countries, these payments were to be paid in hard currencies.  With no link to gold existing these countries would not accept the mark as payment. What did Germany do? The turned up the printing presses and started printing marks like there was no tomorrow. They were taking these newly printed marks and were purchasing gold and gold backed currencies like the US dollar (no longer backed by anything), to pay the countries retribution. This caused hyperinflation. 
"Germany Hyperinflation" by Delphi234 - Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Hyperinflation is when prices are increasing at an alarming rate. As you can see from the graphic above the value of the paper mark was nothing. Those that still had jobs were having to be paid daily and run out to purchase what they could in order to survive. The next day they would go into work to find out that their wage had been doubled, that sounds great but when a loaf of bread costs 200,000,000 marks, well you get the picture.

We Are Not a True Fiat Based System

Like I said above in a true fiat based system the monetary supply is determined by the government, the value of that currency is determined by the government, the only thing outside of the government that has any bearing on that currencies value is the perception of the governments stability by the public and other world economies.

We are not a true fiat based system, we are a debt backed system. Allow me to explain monetary creation briefly. The US monetary system is what is called a fractional reserve system. What most people think is that if I suddenly find a million dollars buried in the woods. I am extremely happy and I run to put this money in the bank. The first thing that will happen is I will get a visit from either the IRS or the department of treasury to make sure how I got this money. After I have proven that I am just lucky and not some criminal mastermind that has lost track of his senses, they will allow this money to go into the system. Now you would think that if we were on a 10% fractional reserve that when I deposit this million dollars that would give the bank the ability to lend out 10% or $100,000 thus keeping $900,000 in reserves. That is simply not the case. If I were to deposit a million dollar the bank would be able to loan 10 million. The million I deposited becomes the reserve. This is also monetary creation. With one sign of a pen and a journal entry the monetary supply has increased by 10 million dollars. This money did not exist until the deposit was recorded and even then only exists electronically. Every time a loan is made the monetary system expands, this is why inflation is higher during times that seem good, people are borrowing and spending money so prices go up.

Commodity Based Currency

Believe it or not prior to 1971 the US dollar was partially based on the nations gold reserves. At one time if you had a dollar, you could go to any bank and exchange that paper dollar for a dollars worth of gold. 

A commodity based currency can be based on anything that has real tangible value. There have been currencies based on tobacco, gold, silver, and even wool. These products have real value no matter what. But there can be problems with commodity based systems as well. Here is a goofy explanation.

Lets say there is a country called Rural Econostan and its currency the farthing is based on brussel sprouts. One Rural Econostanian farthing is equal to one pound of brussel sprouts and it is a fixed ratio. This year there is a record harvest, this causes the number of farthing to go up. Everything except brussel sprouts will go up in price because people will have more money and be trying to buy the same things. Demand will be high and supply will be constant, this causes inflation.

Okay so next year there is some weird fungus that cuts the average harvest of brussel sprouts by half. That would mean that there would be half as many farthing so prices on everything except for the sprouts would go down because people wouldn't have farthings to spend and companies would continue to produce at their normal rate. This causes deflation.  This is very watered down, but you get the idea.

A gold based system is more stable than one that is agriculture based, but it can still have its ups and downs. The Spanish Price Revolution of the 16th century is a good example. The Spanish conquistadors were importing gold and silver at an unprecedented rate. This caused pretty much everyone in Spain to have more money. These people with all of this new revenue tried to buy more and higher quality things, the problem was everyone had more money so prices went up. Even though the inflation rates they saw would be a blessing today, they placed a major hardship on the average citizen. Oh the difficult inflation rates were 1 - 1 1/2 % per year. So you can see a commodity based system does have some benefits but there are also some challenges.

Challenges of a Commodity Based System

So we are back in good old Rural Econostan. The currency is based on gold, not sprouts. There is a robust internal economy and the country is rich in resources. As long as gold prices are stable there shouldn't be any problems, but in recent years gold prices have soared. In Rural Econostan all of the imported items have gotten cheaper, a lot cheaper. Everything Rural Econostan exports has gotten a lot more expensive. People in other countries have stopped buying things from Rural Econostan. This has created a massive trade deficit. Manufacturing companies are leaving Rural Econostan so their prices will be more competitive world wide and unemployment has risen. There is no sign of gold prices moderating anytime soon. The only thing Rural Econostan can do is hope the prices stabilize, they are not large enough to have a major impact on global gold prices. Tough times are on the horizon. 

What Could Cause an Economic Collapse?

Okay so now we are to the point where we are talking about the things that could cause major trouble. What are the things that trigger national or global hardships. Why does one countries problems affect more than just themselves? Are there signs to look for as warning of economic collapse?

 Stock Market Crash

I honestly don't know anyone who personally remembers October 29, 1929 or as it is commonly referred to as Black Tuesday. If you were to ask a room of 10 economic geeks what caused The Great Depression all of them would agree on a few things, after that depending on how passionate about it they are there could be a fist fight. We are going to focus on the things that most would agree on.

Mass exodus to cities.

The time immediately following World War I was a time of prosperity and optimism for most. People were leaving rural communities in the hopes of a better future in the cities. This placed a strain on the infrastructure of many of the larger cities and also reduced the number of agricultural workers available.


Speculation is simply betting on the continued increase in price or value of something. The stock market does not sell cucumbers or anything tangible for that matter. They sell little pieces of companies. If you owned a stock in "Rural Industries", you would be providing them with capital to help with development or expansion. In exchange for your money you would be sold a share in the companies future profits. The accepted price a share should bring involves a very complicated equation that one of my economics professors called  "The Equation from Hell". There are times that a share sells for more than it is worth, this is speculation that the company will do better than projections or that the company has enough goodwill capital to fetch an even higher price later. At some point speculation always causes grief. There may be people that make a great deal of money along the way, but someone will get hurt. Now imagine if all of the stocks were overvalued simply because everything was going so great. That is a big portion of what caused the Stock market crash.

Loss of Confidence

As people began to realize that the stock market might be in trouble, people began selling their stocks as a way to protect their value. The more people that sold stock the lower the price went. This scared even more people and like water goes down a drain in a spiral so did the stock market. The erosion of value continued for 3 years. Every industrial sector saw a decrease in demand so they all had to layoff people. Unemployment reached 25% in the United States.

Protective Tariffs

As the global economy was falling countries thought they would protect their citizens by stopping goods from coming from other countries and by extension increasing the likelihood that their citizens would buy things purchased in their own country. This didn't help it actually caused the flow of money to all but stop.

Natural Disaster 

A natural disaster shouldn't cause a global economic collapse, but it certainly could cause a regional one. Haiti after the earthquake in 2010 could have been a scene from an apocalyptic movie. Over 11% of the nations population was killed in a single event. Billions of dollar in damage to infrastructure and property. Production in the entire nation came to a halt.


We have already talked about Germany after World War I, so we won't discuss that one again here. There are plenty of other examples of national debt causing major problems. When a nation runs into debt there is normally not a major problem, the country is able to service the debt aka make the payments. Maybe the nation will run budget surpluses and be able to cut down or possibly even eliminate the national debt. The US has been debt free one time in its history and that was all thanks to President Andrew Jackson. It didn't last long, but it does prove that it can be done.

When an entity loans money, they really do not care if the borrower will ever be able to pay off the debt. All they care about is that you are able to service the debt. Servicing the debt simply means make the payments. In fact most lenders really do not want you to ever pay them off. They want you to make payments for a while then go back and refinance the debt and hopefully take a little money home with you after the deal is done. By allowing and even encouraging refinancing many companies are making sure that you are in debt to them for longer than you had originally intended. By doing so they are basically making you an indentured servant by your own choosing. Not only that, we have been convinced that this is normal.

The United States and most other industrialized nations have decided they do not like this whole budget thing. Living within our means is so passe. Most countries so far have done pretty well even with massive debt, but can it go on forever? Some think it can, but history has another story to tell.

Argentina was in trouble in 1983 when its national debt reached  45 billion. The interest on the debt alone was greater than all of the trade profits for the entire country. What did the government do? They scrapped the old currency and introduced a new one with a whole new set of loans. This helped for a while until commodity prices dropped dramatically. When the commodity prices fell Argentina again lost its ability to service the debt. During all of this mess the inflation rate averaged 220% per year. Yup, you read that right something that costs $10.00 today would cost $32.00 in one year. This average lasted for 13 years. Something that started out costing $10.00 in 13 years would cost  $36,893,488.15. 

As if that wasn't bad enough in July of 1989 inflation reached 200% for the month. In one month the item that cost $10.00 would be $30.00. The highest annual inflation Argentina saw during this period was 5000%  that same item would cost $510.00 in a year. Needless to say riots broke out and the president resigned.

How did they stabilize their economy? First the scrapped the new money and reestablished the old money. Second they set a fixed exchange rate with the US dollar, this gave their money value because it could be exchanged for US dollars. The International Monetary Fund also provided loans, extensions of loans, and even reduced interest rates to Argentina. Slowly ever so slowly their economy improved. Not without a lot of bumps in the road I might add. These problems really started as early as 1973 and the effects are still felt in Argentina today.

The Economic Collapse of the USSR

This one I will add to what many of the textbooks say. The Soviet Union had a strictly "planned economy". Everything didn't go as planned. The Soviet Union went through a period of what is called stagflation.

Stagflation is a period of time where the economy doesn't grow or contract. It kinda just limps along at the same level. But during the same time there is a high level of inflation and unemployment. Stagflation is equally as bad as high inflation and deflation, but does not compare to hyperinflation.

If stagflation had been the only thing the Soviet Union would have had to deal with, they could have probably made it through, but it wasn't. The United States president Ronald Reagen decided that the past nuclear defense strategy wasn't really a strategy at all. It was called MAD Mutually Assured Destruction. Doesn't just the name make you feel safer. The rational was that if either country launched an attack they wanted to make sure that everyone on both sides died.

Reagan decided that defense needed to actually be defense. He pushed for what eventually was called the Star Wars Defense Initiative. This focus was on detection of nuclear launches and destruction of nuclear missiles before they reached American soil. There is still some debate as to whether this would even work at all, but that really isn't the point right now. The Soviet Union in an effort to keep us with US military spending, spent themselves into oblivion. When the Soviet Union fell apart it wasn't because of some massive civil war, it was because the centralized government couldn't afford to take care of or even attempt to control these breakaway republics. They really did just fall apart.

Greece 2009

Everyone who halfway pays attention should remember at least part of this one. Investors started getting nervous about the Greek ability to service their national debt. The reasons for this fear are deficit spending (spending more money than they make) and debt to GDP(gross domestic product or everything the nation produces in a year) ratio. These two factors spurred a fear sovereign default. Sovereign default is when a sovereign nation refuses to pay its debt obligations in full or fully servicing the debt.

The IMF and the Eurozone took action and provided a two bailouts to the Greek government totaling more than 240 billion euro. Part of the requirements to receive the bailout was the implementation of austerity measures (tax increases, spending cuts, or both), structural reforms, and the privatization of governmental assets. Things didn't happen as planned. The government that agreed to these terms was unseated in the last election and negotiations are ongoing as to how to handle the continued crisis.

There are more examples, but you get the picture.

This has turned into a multi post series just due to length. Please see Part 2. It will be live 5/16/2015

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