Jun 21, 2021

The Great “Mega-Drought” of 2021

Many Western states are in the grips of a drought that is starting to have a major impact on the local economy. The dry period has lasted so long, it has been given the rank of “Mega-Drought.” A return to normal moisture levels would require months of heavy rainfall.

According to The Weather Channel, 89% of the Western U.S. is experiencing drought conditions. More than half — about 55% — of the West is experiencing the highest levels of “extreme” and exceptional” drought.

The state of North Dakota is in the second-worst level of drought, and ranchers are auctioning off their cattle by the thousands.

“Normally this time of the year, we’re probably looking at 400-600 head, and a lot of times would be every other week,” said former auctioneer Ron Torgerson.

Recently, more than 4,200 head of cattle were sold at Rugby Livestock and Auction during a two-day sale. Needless to say, ranchers in North Dakota don’t want to get rid of their cattle, but the drought has pushed prices for hay and corn so high that many of them simply have no choice.

Feeder Cattle prices have declined as herds are being sent to the slaughterhouse. As cattle herds shrink all over the western half of the country, beef prices will move significantly higher a few months down the road.

Record heat during the past few weeks has yielded no shortage of horror stories. Almond growers have lost whole orchards, and 17 million endangered salmon are being shipped to the sea because rivers are too hot to navigate.

Meanwhile, the drought continues to push the water level in Lake Mead into the danger zone. According to CBS News, Lake Mead has hit the “lowest level ever recorded.” Since most Western states get nearly zero amounts of rain during the summer, Lake Mead will continue to dry up for several months.

Formed in 1937 by the construction of the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the U.S. The reservoir supplies water to 25 million people in Los Angeles, San Diego, Tucson and Las Vegas, per Reuters. Lake Mead has not been full since 2000, with water levels falling 140 vertical feet since then, and it is currently at just 36 percent of capacity.

The ability to produce electrical power at Hoover Dam has become a concern. Lake Mead has dropped so much that it has cut the dam’s hydropower output by nearly 25%. At some point, the dam could stop producing electricity altogether.

For the first time ever, the federal government is expected to declare a water shortage on the lower Colorado River later this summer. That will force automatic cuts to the water supply for Nevada and Arizona starting in 2022. Homeowners have higher priority and, at first, won’t feel the pain as badly as farmers will.

Dan Thelander is a second-generation family farmer in Arizona’s Pinal County. The water to grow his corn and alfalfa fields comes from Lake Mead. “If we don’t have irrigation water, we can’t farm,” he said. “So, next year, we are going to get about 25% less water; [this] means we’re going to have to fallow or not plant 25% of our land.”

Unless something changes, Thelander and other farmers in the region could potentially have all water cut off in 2023. That is just two years away.

Farmers in California are in far worse shape. Some have already been informed that they will not be getting any water allocated to them at all here in 2021. It is being projected that farmers in the state will not grow anything on 500,000 acres this year; that is really bad news because California grows more than a third of our vegetables and two-thirds of our fruits and nuts.

California’s groundwater situation is another factor that is putting pressure on food production. For decades, groundwater was pumped with no statewide limits. As the water level dropped, farmers have been drilling deeper wells to suck out more water to plant. We are now at a point where the groundwater levels are so low, many fields cannot be planted without access to surface water.

As I look back over the past decade, there has not been a single year that did not have a major disaster. Judging from 2020 and 2021, it now appears we are going to have multi disasters for any given future year. Since the tribulation hour will likely have monthly disasters, the rapture must be very near.

“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).


The Grasping Evil

I preface this commentary by giving credit to my good friend and colleague, Bill Salus, for his recent email newsletter with the subject Top 20 Pre-Tribulation Prophecies.

As usual, I found his analysis to be on the biblical mark—even considering my disagreement with his belief that Psalm 83 is a war involving Israel that precedes the Gog-Magog attack. As I’ve stated in that regard, he could well be right and I wrong on the matter.

Bill gave some good news about the assurance Bible prophecy from the Pre-Trib perspective offers, followed by some bad news for nonbelievers.

About the good news, he offers the following:

The Church is:

  • Saved from the wrath through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:8–9).
  • Delivered from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10).
  • Not appointed to the wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:7-10).
  • Kept from the “hour of trial” of the Tribulation (Revelation 3:10–11)
  • We are to comfort one another about the blessed hope of the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

About the troubling side, he says:

The bad news is that believers have loved ones who are presently unsaved and at risk of being left behind to experience the most perilous seven years in all of post-Flood history.

Bill then speaks to the attitude that some Christians have developed. The particular attitude he mentions is what I wish to address in this commentary.

He states the following, paraphrasing the words of certain believers, then issuing precaution:

“I DON’T CARE: ‘I’ll be Raptured, so why should I worry about such things that don’t concern me?’”

I would encourage someone who has adopted this position to first realize that you may be here to endure some of the Pre-Tribulation prophecies. If you face off with one or more of these powerful predictions, you will undoubtedly be forced to care! Therefore, be cautious not to get caught up in the trap of thinking that the rest of your days will be persecution free.

Bill Salus’ words are well placed while we observe these darkening times. His admonition hearkens me back to a series of services we called “revival meetings.” I’ve mentioned this a number of times before.

I vividly remember sitting at our First Baptist Church in the mid-1970s. A short-in-stature evangelist was the speaker for those five days of meetings. Each night, he wore a different colored leisure suit—lime green, day-glow orange, bright red, etc. Some of the readers here will remember those flamboyant garments. We joked about his flashy dress, but we didn’t joke about his messages. They were straight from the heart of God, it was progressively obvious as the week proceeded.

The last night of the revival meeting, the evangelist made a prediction that sticks to the memory like rubber cement to two pieces of paper.

He said, “I believe that before Christ calls the Church in the Rapture, this government in America will be reaching with powerfully evil fingers for the throats of Christians. Just as those fingers are about to close on the necks of believers, Christ will blow the trumpet.”

He believed 100 percent in the imminence of Christ’s call to the Church, but he nonetheless issued that prediction. I’ve never forgotten it.

There was no such virulent threat during that mid-’70s time. Such a thing was unthinkable. But here we are in 2021 and developments trending dramatically in the direction he predicted are clearly in view.

Our neighbors to the north in Canada are already starting to feel that icy grip, and that chilling grasp can be sensed even in our nation.

As Bill Salus has admonished, we must not remain indifferent just because we know we will be kept from the most horrendous time to come.

We must do all we can to fight those grasping, evil governmental fingers with prayer and with civil action as provided by the means our Founding Fathers provided under God’s great guidance.

Most of all, we must carry forth with the Great Commission the Lord Jesus commanded just before lifting into the heavens.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19–20)


Jun 14, 2021

The Coming Energy Crisis

Oil is the world’s most important commodity market. Each year, 35 billion barrels of oil are produced at a value of $2.2 trillion. Right now, the price of oil is around $70 per barrel. Many option traders are placing heavy bets that the price of oil is going to reach $100 per barrel.

They have scooped up call options tied to Brent and West Texas Intermediate crude-oil prices reaching $100 by the end of next year. Oil prices haven’t topped that milestone since 2014 when a gush of U.S. crude depressed energy markets.

Global oil demand is set to rebound and remain robust for some time, BP’s chief executive Bernard Looney told Bloomberg News on the sidelines of an economic forum in Russia, reiterating views expressed by most forecasters and analysts.

“There is a lot of evidence that suggests that demand will be strong, and the shale seems to be remaining disciplined,” Looney told Bloomberg News at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. “I think that the situation we’re in at the moment could last like this for a while,” the top executive of one of the world’s largest oil companies said.

As demand rises, there are increasing problems with the supply of oil. Exxon, Mobil, and Royal Dutch Shell suffered significant defeats as environmental groups and activist investors stepped up pressure on the oil industry to address concerns about climate change.

In a first-of-its-kind ruling, a Dutch court found that Shell is partially responsible for climate change and ordered the company to sharply reduce its carbon emissions. Hours later in the U.S., an activist investor won at least two seats on Exxon’s board, a historic defeat for the oil giant that will likely require it to alter its fossil-fuel-focused strategy.

The Shell ruling, issued by the district court in The Hague, found that Shell must curb its carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 compared with 2019 levels—and that the company was responsible not only for lowering its own direct emissions from drilling and other operations, but also those of the oil, gas and fuels eventually burned by consumers.

“This case does open the door for challenges to other energy-intensive sectors,” said Liz Hypes, an analyst at risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft. Other industries that could face lawsuits include agriculture, transport and mining, all of which are already being targeted by regulators and civil society over their emissions, Ms. Hypes added.

At present, none of the world’s largest oil and gas companies have disclosed how they will achieve the target of becoming a net-zero enterprise by 2050, more than five years after the Paris Agreement was ratified by nearly 200 countries.

Courts and activist investors can set all the mandates they want, but it’s not going to change the reality that the world will continue to run on oil for many more decades. There are one billion vehicles still on the road today.

Many European countries have a deadline to have all cars converted over to battery-powered by 2030. There’s no way to reach this goal with current technology. The power grid could not handle the load of charging millions of cars. We don’t have the basic metals to make all the batteries that those cars would need.

The electrical energy market is setting up for its own future crisis. Most of the coal plants that feed the biggest U.S. power grid will soon no longer be economical to run after prices in a key auction plunged to the lowest level in 11 years.

The PJM grid stretches from Chicago to Washington and serves more than 65 million people. Power plants bid for contracts to be available when electricity demand spikes. Those payments have been keeping many coal plants afloat. But more than 8 gigawatts of coal capacity failed to clear the auction after prices tumbled to $50 a megawatt-day for the year starting in June 2022, down from $140 a megawatt-day in the last auction in 2018.

U.S. utilities are shifting away from coal, and the PJM results may accelerate the decline. There are 340 U.S. coal plants that have gone dark in recent years or announced plans to close, according to the Sierra Club, and just 190 remain in operation.

By under investing in drilling, we are ensuring that the price of oil will skyrocket in the coming years. The rush away from coal will result in blackouts that equal to the one that struck Texas this past February.

When the world rekindles its love for fossil fuel, nations will likely turn to warfare to fulfill their need for energy. I think oil will be a key motivating factor in the Gog and Kings of the East invasions of the Middle East. I was searching my library to find my copy of John Walvoord’s Armageddon, Oil, and Terror: What the Bible Says About the Future. I could not find it. He is the one who first pointed out oil’s connection to prophecy.

“After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them. Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee.

Thus saith the Lord GOD; It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought: And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land” (Ezek. 38:8-12).

“And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared” (Revelation 16:12).


Checking Our Watch

Jesus, if He wasn’t the Creator God of all that is and the Savior of the world from the dread sway of sin, might be considered a person obsessed—especially in one particular area. He constantly and consistently commanded that those who identified with Him “watch.” This seemed all-important to Him.

Because He is, in fact, Creator and Lamb that takes away the sin of the world, it behooves us to examine this obviously most important directive.

Jesus chastised the religionists—the Judaizers of that day—for their inability to discern the times—their failure to “watch” to see what was going on around them.

When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? (Matthew 16:2–3)

Those He chastised at that time could not discern the times; they couldn’t “watch” for their Messiah in the proper way because they didn’t truly believe in God’s way. That Way was right in front of them, and they wouldn’t believe in Him. So, belief is at the center of any such “watching” process in terms Christ presents.

The spiritual principle for attaining this level of discernment is laid out by the Apostle Paul.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:12–14)

In the case of believers in this Age of Grace (Church Age), the indwelling Holy Spirit provides this discernment. We who have Christ dwelling within us have the ability to “watch” in the way He wants us to observe the times and seasons.

Sad to say, the vast majority of pastors today are themselves not “watchers on the wall” for prophetic stage-setting issues and events literally exploding around them. Thus, Christians in their pews who are true believers are not being instructed to “watch.”

That fact of pastoral neglect is no excuse if you and I are believers. We’re to study to show ourselves approved, so that we will not be ashamed at our Lord’s appearing (the time of Rapture). Such “watching” and working makes us workmen who need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of Truth. And the Truth is that Jesus Christ is about to make that sudden appearing we’re to be watching for. The evidence for that any-moment appearance is in all directions we observe.

Jesus knew that neglecting to “watch” would be a major symptom of apostasy at the end of the Church Age. He knew that people will be more and more caught up in the affairs of an increasingly sinful world the nearer history moves toward the Tribulation era. (Read again Matthew 24:36–42 and Luke 17:26–30)

As a matter of fact, the Lord voiced His thoughts in that regard. He was concerned for the generation of believers who would, like Lot of Sodom, be vexed by the evil all around them. I think His words shows that He would avenge this evil, even though He knew there would be very few believers who were truly faithful enough to be looking for His sudden, catastrophic intervention.

And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:7–8)

This statement makes me hold to the contention that there is no ”Great Awakening” prophesied for the closing days of this age. Certainly, the trend in the opposite direction of such an event seems to be irreversible. That trajectory is easily observable to the spiritually-attuned watchmen on the wall of unfolding history.

Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch. (Luke 13:35–37)