Build Your Emergency Kit

Emergency kit cutaways

As we in El Paso, TX prepare for the remnants of Hurricane Odile, it raises the importance of having an Emergency Kit ready when you need it. I have said before, an emergency can occur at any moment.  This isn’t said to scare but to encourage you to prepare.

I have a couple of bags and backpacks for different reasons, all set up for particular emergencies.  One is my Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) bag that stays in my truck–this one is first aid kit heavy, with other materials for CERT response or to assist if my family is ever directly involved in a large emergency. The other is my standard hiking day pack–I keep hiking supplies in this one and preparations for emergencies out on the trail. Both bags have specific uses and I keep both fully stocked.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t use them, I do–as I encounter “little emergencies” along the way and take the time to replenish them.  I think that the best kit is the one that you use and restock. Through use, you’ll be able to find other things that you want to put in there–like “Duck Tape”–you never know when you need it, or how you can use it, but you can! So personalize you kit to your life–keep it in your truck or garage where you can get to it.

The biggest lesson to learn about an Emergency Kit is to not over-think it.  Most of what goes inside is common sense–but we simply may not be thinking of these things when we put them together.  FEMA has put together an Emergency Supply List that will get you started to building and personalizing your own Emergency Kit.

For more information on Building an Emergency Kit, go to FEMA’s Build-A-Kit Website.

(Photo: FEMA)

Personalize Your Disaster Plans

Senior couple at desk making emergency plan.

Each one of us are different.

Some of us have pets.  Some of us have special needs. Some of us travel.

How are you going to prepare for disaster?

Every situation is unique, some of these situations are unique to just you. For me, I have four kids who are home-schooled.  I have different concerns when it comes to a disaster during the day–for the most part they are all at home; but they also have a greater chance at taking a short midday trip to the store. I also like comic books.  With nearly 5000 comic books, flooding is a concern of mine. Then, I have a cat. So, I have to have a plan for our home schoolers, a plan in case of flooding to protect the comic books, and a plan to take care of cupcake in case of emergency.

These are just three of the areas that I must consider while preparing for disaster.

As I said earlier, everyone is different–so develop your plan for your situation.

If you have a business, check out FEMA’s guide to help you prepare.

If you are a senior citizen, click on this link to help you prepare.

If you have Pets, FEMA has a guide for them too.

During National Preparedness Month take time to prepare a plan for your unique situation–only you know what you may need.






(Photo credit: FEMA Media Library)


Establish a Family Rallying Point



rallying point - a point or principle on which scattered or opposing groups can come together. 

In the Army, one of the first concepts I learned was how to establish a Rallying Point on a patrol.  This is a selected place during the patrol that if something goes wrong and people get separated, this is the location in which Soldiers should return.

Do you have a Rallying Point for your Family during a disaster?

One of the scariest aspects of a natural disaster is losing contact with your loved ones, especially if they are children. While we don’t want to dwell on the threat of disaster, it is important to take ten seconds to determine where you could meet your family if you get separated, and communicate this to your family.

The first place to meet up, and easiest, could be your home.  By returning home, you will have supplies for several days and have some of your comforts (toys, books, snacks) even if your power is out.  From there you could make the decision whether or not to evacuate.

The second place to meet up should be selected as a place to meet if you can not return to your home or are forced to evacuate. It could be your work, your church, or a favorite playground. You can’t always count on being able to return to your home or that your home will be the safest place to be.  A contingency location is very important for rallying back with your family.

Throughout the plan, it is best that you have a good plan to stay in communication with your family.  This will save time as you will be able to communicate your location to the other parties.  It is important that you text during the early stages if the disaster.  It has been shown, in previous disasters, that texting is a better means to communicating during a disaster as it does not clog the lines used for voice.

Prepare now for a disaster by selecting and communicating your family’s rallying point and by reviewing how to send and receive text messages.



Mapping the World




While reading through my twitter feeds last week, I saw an interesting story about how the International Red Cross is using maps generated from satellite imagery though a volunteer program on Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team.



I reminded how we take for granted so much of what is given to us. If we want to go to a new place, we open our iphone, link it up to the GPS, and get directions. In other parts of the world, the areas do not even have paper maps to follow to get to someone’s destination. Tragically, these areas are some of these areas that are most vulnerable during disease outbreaks and disasters. The lack of maps may prevent some people from receiving aid or even rescue. Maps are also needed so missionaries can travel safely to smaller villages that need to hear the gospel of Christ.



I am amazed and excited that we can take part in helping people around the world through supporting the people doing the actual work. God has called me to be an Army Chaplain. My job and calling restricts my ability to serve on the ground in missions and many disaster relief projects. There may come a time when I am able to step out and physically do more; but through mapping, I can provide a critical tool to missionaries and disaster relief workers in some of the most critical hot spots around the world. Some of these include Gaza (War), Africa (Ebola Outbreak), and Serbia (Flooding).

Through programs such as the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap team, we all can take part in the assistance to those in near any where in the world.

Hawaiian Hurricanes

Central Pacific Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook and Infrared Satellite image for 02 UTC

(Graphic: Central Pacific Hurricane Center)

This weekend, Hawaii will be experiencing a potentially dangerous, but doubtless historic event as hurricanes Iselle and Julio are approaching the islands.  One hurricane in Hawaii is historic, particularly a direct hit, but two hurricanes approaching a location is definitely unusual in any location is a reason to take notice.

To get the latest official information, I would recommend checking out the Central Pacific Hurricane Center, the Pacific version of the National Hurricane Center which we are familiar with in Atlantic Storms and the National Weather Service in Honolulu, HI.

Local media for this storm is found at who is streaming live local coverage online and, through Livestream, can be streamed through your Roku device for viewing on your TV.

Initially, I am concerned about the winds causing damage, but I am personally concerned about the effects of flooding after having two large rain events over the islands.

One of the areas that I am interested in, seeing in the aftermath, is how Hawaii responds to the potential disaster coupled with being separated from the support of mainland U.S. I was encouraged to hear the mayor of Hilo, HI mention the activation of the Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) as an part of their recovery strategy. It will be interesting to see the response techniques used to respond to an isolated location.

Please be in prayer for these islands during these events and in the aftermath.  If you live in Hawaii please review FEMA’s Hurricane Preparedness information at

The Bear Wants More


(Photo: Free Images)

One of the favorite books in our house is a storybook titled; “Bear Wants More.”

The story is a colorful story of a bear who wakes up from hibernation and begins:

“When springtime comes,

In his warm winter den

A bear wakes up

Very hungry and thin.”

As the bear wakes up and sees his animal friends in the forest, they each have places to take him to fulfill his hunger. After he eats everything in sight…the Bear Wants more! The mouse takes him to the Strawberry Vale, the rabbit takes him to the clover patch, the badger takes him to the fishing hole, and all the while his friends are preparing a party for him. And everywhere he goes, whatever they bring—the bear wants more!

We all long to be satisfied.  Whether we are physically hungry from hibernation; whether we want more from our lives; whether we want are hungry for acceptance, or whether we are hungry for peace in our lives….we long to be satisfied.

We go to this group of friends, taking everything they can give us. And we move on—and we want more.

We go from marriage to marriage, taking everything they can give us. And we move on—and we want more.

We go from job to job, PCS to PCS, taking everything they can give us. And we move on—and we want more.

What are you hungry for today?

What are you longing for?

We are designed for something more. You are designed for something more!

Romans 8:18-25 teaches us that all creation, including ourselves, groan to adopted as sons of God—to be redeemed!

We are designed to be more than what we are—to have purpose, to have hope, to have significance.

And you can have that significance this morning if you place your trust in Christ!

This morning, we are looking at a story of Jesus from Matthew 14.

Here we find Jesus as he just heard about the death of John the Baptist.

13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. (Mt 14:13, ESV)

We all need our time away—just to simply get away.  Jesus, after hearing of the death of John the Baptist needed such a moment. But he was surrounded by people, like you and I, who needed to be satisfied. So, Jesus went to them to heal the sick.

As the day became evening, the disciples saw that they were in the middle of now where—but the people needed to eat. So, they asked him to send them away to get food.

It is funny to me that, here they were with Jesus—who was making the blind to see and the lame to walk—and they couldn’t figure out that he probably also can fill the most basic needs of food?

We like to trash talk the disciples, but we do the same thing! We grumble and complain about the problems in our life, all the while we have Jesus to bring our satisfaction. When you trust in him, you can be satisfied in him, through faith.

Verse 16:

16 But Jesus said (to the disciples), “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.”

17 They said to (Jesus), “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied.” (Mt 14:16-20a, ESV)

Jesus saw a crowd and had compassion on them and he healed their sick.  He then saw their hunger and he fed them. “And they all ate and were satisfied.” (Mt 14:20a)

We are all hungry.

We are hungry for acceptance and love. We need to have friends around us.

The Bible teaches us that soon after Man was created, God said;

“It is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen 2:18a)

While this speaks directly to the need for a mate, it has describes the need for companionship and acceptance in this world.

In our lives we also need something to believe in—to have faith.  The Bible says

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Heb 11:1, ESV)

The needs of acceptance, companionship, and faith leads us to be unsatisfied.

We long to be satisfied.

Mary Rubin wrote that

“We waste this life dreaming of another.” (

We look for satisfaction everywhere and spend our lives trying to find this fulfillment.

And there are many that look for this satisfaction through drugs.

John was a young man that “turned to cocaine, marijuana and alcohol under a false belief it would allow (him) to escape (his) problems.”

“Over twenty years of using, (he) kept saying to myself, ‘I’m going to stop permanently after using this last time. It never happened. There were even moments I had thought of giving up on life.”  (

Todd was another young man that search to find satisfaction. “The night Todd committed suicide, his family found a note that he’d left on his computer saying that he felt like he was never going to find a place in the world where he fit in, but he loved his family and that his brother was his best friend.” (

Demi Lovato “At 12 years old…was bullied in school. Girls were calling (her) fat. So (she) thought, “That’s the reason, I don’t have any friends.” So (she) stopped eating. (She) became very weight conscious, …lost 30 pounds. (She) went down to 95 pounds.” (

And while these are examples from the news, what about your issues?

C.S. Lewis said;

“What does not satisfy when we find it, was not the thing we were desiring.”(

Where are you trying to find satisfaction? Where is your hunger?

In the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand, Jesus takes what they have, five loaves and two fish and feeds five thousand people and their families (Mt 14:21).  That is roughly the size of a BCT and its very active FRG!

And Jesus can do that in your life as well. He can take what you have and your hunger can be satisfied in Christ. But, you must you place your life in his hands and allow him to be your salvation.

Many times, we get ourselves in trouble by trying to find this satisfaction on our own—on our own terms. That how we find ourselves addicted to the lies of the devil through alcohol, drugs, pornography, greed, and even suicide.  Through Christ you can find satisfaction.

We can find satisfaction in Christ because Christ has paid our debts.

Since the beginning of time we have incurred a debt.

We all know what it means to be in debt.  When we are in debt, we are never satisfied, until that debt is paid off.  It controls and restricts our lives, it forces to live in bondage until it is paid.

I was reading some comments regarding debt on Whisper, the social media site where you can “share secrets, express yourself, and meet new people.”

One whisperer said:

“I make a decent paycheck but I never have any money. I am drowning in debt.”

Another said:

“Spent my best years chasing money and building career. Left broke, in debt and alone.”

And a third person whispered:

“College was a terrible idea…$40,000 in debt with a worthless degree…should’ve just gone to the military.” (

We know how dissatisfying it is to have debt—to have a hunger to get rid of the burden of paying off this debt.

But at the deepest level of our soul, there is a debt that we must pay. And that is a debt to God.

That debt is a result of our sin.

All of us are sinners.  We have all said things, thought things, and done things that disrespect God. This is sin. And we are all sinners by our very nature and by choice.

We deserve to be punished by death and hell because of our sin.

We are separated from God because of that sin. That debt stands in the way of our approaching God and being satisfied by him.

Christ died on a cross to pay that debt of our sin—to make it possible for us to have our soul satisfied.

When we accept and believe in Jesus we are able, then, to approach him.

I want to ask you a question this morning.

Is your soul satisfied this morning?

I’m not asking whether you’ve been to church or read the Bible or lived a good life.

I’m asking you—are you satisfied?

Have you trusted Christ to become your satisfaction in your life—turned your life over to him—and followed him.

You have an opportunity this morning to find eternal satisfaction—right where you are.

If you have never trusted in him—if you have never truly committed your life to Christ—I invite you to do that this morning.

Right where you sit you can make a commitment to follow him.