Thursday, September 18, 2014

Solar Ruminations

Joseph Herrin (09-18-2014)

























A few days ago my daughter invited me over for a friendly game of Scrabble. These occasional visits are good times to catch up on what is going on in one another’s life. My daughter tends to stay on the go a lot, and has lots of social interaction through her church and various ministry activities she engages in. My life, outwardly at least, appears much less active. It is a bit like comparing the life of a globetrotting explorer to that of a university professor. Sometimes it is a challenge for me to pick a subject to talk about that will interest my daughter. She finds my interests to be rather esoteric. Admittedly, many of the subjects that occupy my thoughts are of interest to a relatively small number of other individuals.

I find that I am an anomaly in many ways, especially for the location I am at. The rural area of South Georgia that is my present home has an abundance of chicken farmers, dairymen, crop farmers, orchard workers, and other employees in the agricultural, animal husbandry, and carpentry fields. I don’t know another person in this area who is an author, or Internet minister, though I do know some locally who are involved in prison ministry.

Additionally, there is not another person around who travels to town to go to the post office and grocery store on a recumbent trike pulling a bicycle trailer behind them. The spectacle of me going down these country roads into town turns many heads. People are friendly around here. Even strangers are prone to sound their horn in greeting and wave as they drive by. Similarly, other than a few people who have their RVs parked long term at the small local RV park in Montezuma, I know of no others around who live full-time in a camper or motorhome, and certainly none who have taken an old school bus and converted it to their regular place of residence.

I recognize that my life is a curiosity to most people I encounter. It stands out as distinctly different. I don’t own a car. I don’t live in a house. I live by faith, having neither an employer, or a recognizable group of Christians (a church) who supports me. Yet my daily needs are continually provided by the Father. I do not doubt that some suspect I am receiving government assistance, or have money in the bank from an inheritance, or some other source. None of these are true. Yahweh has promised, if we will go where He sends and do what He commands, He will take care of us. Manna falls from the sky here in South Georgia, and water springs from the rocks (figuratively speaking). At the right moment Yahweh moves upon the heart of one member of the body of Christ, or another, and they graciously, joyfully, willingly, obediently, and at times sacrificially, send a financial gift enabling me to continue the ministry and calling the Lord has appointed to me.

I Corinthians 9:11
If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we should reap material things from you?

I would like to see many more Christians in this area, and everywhere, living lives of faith, following Yahweh wherever He leads, accepting whatever living accommodations He chooses for them. There is a tremendous blessing in such a life. I sometimes take it for granted that Yahweh is in my thoughts from the time I rise each morning, and that every single day I am dependent upon and conscious of His faithfulness. This has become a way of life until it is hard to comprehend the experience of Christians who live any other way.

It is my hope that other Christians would experience this type of daily dependence upon Yahweh to guide and sustain their lives. Too much independence has separated believers from a vital and intimate relationship with God. Christians become comfortable in their jobs, and in their settled lives. They anticipate having a paycheck every week, and a home to return to in the evenings. Yet the experience that has been so common to Americans in general, and Christians in this nation in particular, is drawing to an end. The signs are all around us.

A day or two ago a brother in Christ (thank you John) sent me a link to an article on the U.S. Department of Justice beginning a program to train key members of communities across the nation to recognize and report people who are suspected of being “radicals.” Hmmm... My life seems pretty radical to a lot of folks. Anyone who doesn’t fit the cookie cutter mold of American secularism can be viewed as a threat. If your love for God and commitment to honor Him with your life leads you into conflict with an increasingly immoral, unjust, and deceptive nation of people, you too could be labeled as a potential radical. The article states:












The Department of Justice is launching a new program today in partnership with the White House, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Counterterrorism Center that will train "community leaders" like teachers and social workers to monitor their communities for signs of radicalization. If the trainees think they have observed burgeoning radicalism, they are to report the potentially radicalized person(s) to law enforcement so the government can intervene before any crime has been committed.

In his announcement of the initiative, Attorney General Eric Holder described the program as a way to "be both innovative and aggressive in countering violent extremism and combating those who would sow intolerance, division, and hate" in the homeland. He labeled it an expansion of existent efforts to "to identify threats before they emerge, to disrupt homegrown terrorists, and to apprehend would-be violent extremists." Presumably this is only a stop-gap program until precogs can be developed for war on terror use. - - Bonnie Kristian
[Source: http://theweek.com/speedreads/index/268143/speedreads-the-doj-to-train-community-leaders-to-spot-radicals]

In the words of Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder, if you oppose abortion, agree with Yahweh that homosexual behavior is an abomination and a sin against nature, then you too can be categorized with “those who would sow intolerance, division, and hate” and be branded as a “threat” to homeland security. The same is true if you oppose vaccination of yourself or your children for ethical or health reasons. Despite the fact that the government and medical profession is completely in denial about the dangers of vaccinations, lives continue to be damaged, children left with permanent impairments such as autism, and many are dying. Just yesterday the RT news site reported that 15, and possibly as many as 34-50, children died within an hour of receiving their second dose of measles vaccine in a town in Syria. The vaccines were administered by a doctor, and it was all done under the auspices of the World Health Organization and the U.N..

http://rt.com/news/188580-syria-children-dead-vaccinations/

The Natural News website has been running a host of articles warning against President Obama’s plans to shut down Internet websites that speak out against the dangers of vaccinations. With the hyped Ebola epidemic, the government may soon want all citizens to submit to experimental vaccines whose negative effects are unknown to the population at large. Vaccines administered by various governments have been used to covertly sterilize women of child bearing age, and many contain known carcinogens, or other health destroying properties.

http://www.naturalnews.com/046900_executive_orders_government_censorship_alternative_news.html

When the world says that white is black and down is up, the person who stands in agreement with God will be viewed as a threat. Lies cannot exist comfortably in the presence of truth anymore than darkness can remain when a light is turned on. When I read the above post regarding the Department of Justice beginning a program to train members of communities to identify potential radicals and threats to society, I thought of the following Scripture.

Mark 13:9-13
“But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them... But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”

This brings me back to my Scrabble game with my daughter. The topic that was on my mind at the time was completing the solar auxiliary system in my bus. I had spent days researching this subject, making changes to my system’s design, and trying to find answers to questions that still eluded me. Like the other odd aspects of my life, there are not too many people around this part of the country who are relying on solar power to supply electricity to their homes, much less for their motorhomes. In fact, I don’t know anyone who is doing so. Despite this fact, I have a sense that this is something I am supposed to do. Even as the Father led me to purchase an old school bus in 2009, and the following year He moved upon a brother in Christ’s heart to offer me all the internal parts from a 3 year old wrecked Coachmen motorhome, parts worth many thousands of dollars that I used to outfit the bus and transform it into a motorhome, I believe it is the Lord that has put it in my heart to prepare for off-the-grid living where an outside electrical connection will not be available.

Let me repeat what I have said in other blog posts that have focused on the specific preparations I have made for coming days of calamity and societal disruption. I am NOT advocating that everyone run out and purchase a motorhome, travel trailer, pop-up tent, or other type of mobile living accommodation. The Lord will not lead every son and daughter to do the same thing. I know a number of brothers and sisters who have been led to acquire motorhomes and keep them in readiness, but each person needs to be led of the Spirit in all they do.

Before I had the bus, the Father provided for me a camper/van. I lived out of the van for a time, and used it to travel across the United States in three separate years. It was at the end of my last trip across the nation in 2010 that the Spirit of Christ directed me to convert the 40 year old school bus I had purchased the previous year into a motorhome. His provision, guidance, and enabling were to such a remarkable degree that it is not possible to persuade me that His hand was not guiding and providing.



















My Camper Van

The school bus, which I christened “The Dreamer,” was ready to move into on the first day of January 2011. It has been my home ever since. The Lord had me take a bus that looked like the picture below (it was a real dog)...



















and transform it into this...



















Having lived in it for four years, I have continued to make alterations as I have found things that could be improved and as my needs have changed. I am now pulling a 16 foot trailer behind the bus, equipped with a grain mill, chest freezer, roller flaker (for making rolled oats) and 42 five gallon buckets filled with grains and legumes. As Joseph was led to store up grain in Egypt, the Lord both provided and guided me to make these preparations.



















The Dreamer and Trailer

Since I began to live in the bus, none of the upgrades or alterations I have made to it have been as extensive, or had the potential to impact daily living, as the present project I am embarking upon. This is a renovation of the solar auxiliary power system. When completed, I will be able to have electrical power provided daily by the sun. I actually installed solar on my bus back in September of 2012. (See the following link)

http://parablesblog.blogspot.com/2012/09/series-additions-and-update.html

I was brand new to solar power then, and I have found far better ways to implement a solar electrical system than my first attempt. Experience is a great teacher. We often do not discover what works best, and what works poorly or not at all, until we have lived with it for a while. Fortunately, some of the most expensive parts, such as my solar panels and the one large battery I purchased in 2012, can be integrated as part of a system re-design that will perform much better. I was amazed that five out of six parts that are no longer needed due to my overhaul of this system sold within a week of my listing them on either Craigslist or Ebay. That was remarkable in itself, and an encouragement that the Father wanted me to proceed in this direction. One of the items sold within 30 minutes of listing it, and three items within the first 24 hours. I was able to take the proceeds from these sales and use them to purchase components for the redesigned solar auxiliary power system.




















My two yellow top Optima batteries which were 4 years old and only 55 amp hours capacity sold. The larger grey and black battery behind them is a brand new Concorde Sun Xtender AGM battery with 153 amp hours capacity that will be added to an identical one that I purchased two years ago. I am aware that it is not recommended by many individuals to mix batteries of a different age, manufacturer, or capacity, in a single battery bank. Upon investigating this matter at some length I found that this is absolutely true if batteries are wired together serially. I would not attempt to put mismatched, or different age batteries together in serial connection, as it could create a fire or explosion hazard. This is due to some batteries charging quicker than others. A battery charger may read the weakest battery in a bank and determine that it still needs charging, when the other batteries are fully charged. This would cause some batteries to be overcharged, which is dangerous to do.

However, when wiring batteries together in parallel, as I will be doing, the batteries in a bank tend to equalize with one another. A full battery will resist taking on further charge while a battery less than full will continue to accept a charge. In fact, even if not connected to a charger, batteries connected in parallel will tend to equalize with one another until they are all at the same charge level. The main downside to hooking identical batteries of different ages together is that the older battery may not charge as fully as the others, and may tend to reduce the overall charge capacity of the battery bank.













The image above shows two batteries of different capacities, one a 100 AH battery, and the other 200 AH capacity, wired together. The illustration says it is “NOT OK” to do this in serial, but it is okay, though not optimal, to do so in parallel. This relates to identical batteries from the same manufacturer which have different ages as well, as they could potentially charge at different rates.

http://www.homepower.com/articles/solar-electricity/design-installation/ask-experts-batteries-series-parallel

Due to the potential danger of making a wrong decision in this matter of battery configuration, I ran this scenario by the members of a solar power forum that has many knowledgeable electrical experts. A number of people on the forum work installing solar power systems on homes. They verified that it was OK to hook together two identical batteries of different age in parallel, though some professionals would choose not to do so with an install of their own due to possible degradation of the overall charge capacity of the battery bank.

Because the large AGM battery I purchased in 2012 retails today for $470, I am loathe to replace it. I could never get my money back out of it, and it is still a very good battery. I have kept it on a BatteryMinder for the past year to maintain it at optimum levels until I could begin my system redesign. AGM batteries are advertised to have a lifespan almost double that of standard flooded lead-acid batteries, so I should get many more years of service out of it.

Along with my two Optima batteries, I was also able to sell the BatteryMinder as it will no longer be needed, one of two small solar charge controllers, and the Xantrex 600 watt pure sine wave inverter I had been using. In these writings I am going to share some information that will be helpful to others who are planning their own solar auxiliary power systems. My reason for this is two-fold. If my own experiences and knowledge gained can help another person then I very much desire to provide some benefit to them. Also, explaining things in writing helps to clarify and firm up the disparate accumulation of information and considerations that have been occupying my thoughts. When I taught computer management and maintenance at a technical college for a couple years back in 2001-2002, I found the act of explaining a matter to someone is a great aid to mastering various concepts for oneself. You can only explain well what you understand yourself. (This is true of spiritual and doctrinal matters as well.)

There will be some repetition of information I shared in a post back in 2012 that is titled The Solar System - (No, not that one...)

http://parablesblog.blogspot.com/2012/06/solar-system-no-not-that-one.html

That article has proven to be quite popular. Although I am now making a complete redesign of my own system, the principles set forth in this earlier article are valid and will be profitable for many. Before launching into a detailed explanation of my solar auxiliary redesign, I want to comment on why I believe the Father has led me to live as I do.

As I have reflected on the years the Father has directed me to live by faith, and the years I have been dwelling in a converted school bus, the lessons learned and experience gained reminds me of the life of Moses. Yahweh sent Moses out into the wilderness to tend sheep for forty years BEFORE He called Moses to lead His people through the wilderness. Had Moses spent all his years as a man of the city, living in the society of Egypt with all of its creature comforts, he would likely have been overwhelmed at the task of leading the people of God through the wilderness. Yahweh in His wisdom and grace gave Moses much experience at wilderness living before he was called upon to lead the Israelites out of the land of Egypt and into the wilderness. When Moses encountered Yahweh at the burning bush when he was 80 years of age, wilderness living was very familiar to him, he perhaps even found solace there.

Similarly, I believe the Father is graciously leading some of His sons and daughters to experience living experiences outside the norm for the typical American, and outside the common experience of church life, so that they will be ready when called upon to lead others into similar experiences.

Revelation 12:6, 14
And the woman (the church) fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she might be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days... And the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, in order that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.

Whether this passage in Revelations is speaking of a literal wilderness experience, I cannot say. I am confident, however, that what the people of God will experience in coming days will be very different from the life they have known. They will feel uprooted. It will seem as if they have entered into alien territory. They will be called upon to walk in faith in a way few in their generation hav experienced. It will be a great challenge for many. Some will faint along the way, but Yahweh will have shepherds and guides to help lead His people in those days.

The influence of American culture (and that of most prosperous nations) has a very strong tendency to encourage people to live beyond their means. Rather than living humbly and modestly, many young couples and single people want to experience a high level of material comfort and affluence early on. To do this they turn to the banks. The take out a mortgage on a home. They borrow money or lease a car for which they are unable to pay cash. They use credit cards to acquire furnishings and appliances to fill up their living space, and they in many ways live beyond their means.

Such a life is antithetical to the principles of Christian discipleship, and it stands in stark contrast to the experience of Christ and His apostles. They modeled and taught contentment. They accepted whatever living experience the Father chose for them, and they encouraged others to do the same.

Matthew 8:20
And Yahshua said to him, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

Philippians 4:11-13
I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

I Timothy 6:6-8
But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.

When the Father directed me to lay down self-direction of my life back in 1999, and to commit myself to following Him WHEREVER He would lead me, some radical changes occurred. Up until that time I had lived the life of the typical materialistic American Christian. I had a home, multiple vehicles, furnishings in abundance, and significant debt to go along with it. Upon yielding myself to the Lord I found myself going along for a wild, often terrifying, ride as Yahweh delivered me from all debt, and along with it He separated me from the accumulated possessions of my 38 years on earth (I am now 53).

Without home, land, job, money in the bank, and abundant material possessions, comes a sense of vulnerability. Our possessions insulate us from the world around us. They give us comfort and a feeling of security. Yet this security is illusory. Our only true security is in Yahweh. He is a refuge and source of strength and help to all who walk with Him. The things of this earth can be snatched away in a moment of time, and I believe that time is fast approaching for multitudes.

My experience of being emptied was made all the more difficult because it was occurring in a land of plenty and abundance. This brought me into great reproach. Family, friends, and fellow Christians criticized me greatly because I was not providing for my wife and children the creature comforts that were so common to others in this nation. It was a very painful time for me as I could not convince anyone that it was the Father who was leading me down this path. Nevertheless, I could not shrink back from the afflicted path before me lest the Father should be displeased with me.

Hebrews 10:36-39
For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay. But My righteous one shall live by faith; And if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.

The path Christ will lead His obedient disciples down will often appear indefensible to all others who have not similarly yielded their will up to God. Human judgment is not the same as divine judgment. The things man values are often despised by Yahweh. His thoughts are not the same as man’s, nor are His ways man’s ways.

Is the disparity between God’s ways and man’s ways not evident when one compares the life of Christ and His disciples in the Bible to the experience of Christians today? Christianity has fallen into apostasy. Christians are pursuing a life that is pleasing to the soul of man. The American church believes it is their right, even their duty, to live the American dream which is founded upon material accumulation, ease, and pleasure. Yet Christ said:

Matthew 6:22
No one is able to be habitually serving two masters, for either he will hate the one and the other one of a different kind he will love, or one he will hold to firmly as against the other, and the other one of a different kind he will disdain. You are not able to be rendering a slave's obedience to God and to a passion for accumulating wealth.
(An Expanded Translation by Kenneth S. Wuest)

Brothers and sisters, Yahweh has to bring about a separation in these last days. Christians who have been attempting to serve God while assuring for themselves a life of material abundance, ease, and comfort will be brought to choose one over the other. Only a remnant will choose to fully yield their lives to God and to accept Christ’s invitation to “Come, take up YOUR CROSS, and follow Me.” My own path included years of trials and difficulties, frequent reproaches, false judgment and condemnation. Yet in all of it Yahweh was present. His comfort and encouragement sustained me.

Yahweh emptied me in more than material ways. My wife and son departed from me after five years of struggling along the afflicted path of a disciple. My parents thought I was deluded. My sisters and brother spurned me. It was the good pleasure of Yahshua to let me drink from His own cup of suffering.

Luke 14:26-27
“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”

There is no Scriptural basis to conclude that the cost of Christian discipleship is one iota less than it was 2,000 years ago. The reason most Christians today do not experience the cost of discipleship is that they have not yielded their lives to go WHEREVER Yahshua leads, and do WHATEVER He requires of them. There is a cross to be found for true disciples in America, in England, in France, in Germany, in Australia, in every nation of the world. The cross is found as we deny ourselves, and embrace the road to spiritual maturity that Yahweh has appointed to us.

My path eventually led me to spend more than three years at a Rescue Mission in Macon, Georgia. Living in a dormitory with more than 30 other men, and keeping all my possessions in a small wardrobe and a footlocker was no obstacle, for by this time the Father had pared my possessions down to such an extent that I actually had trouble filling up a footlocker. I had spent the previous five months living out of a car and camping in a tent in the woods. For three years, the Father chose for me to daily rub shoulders with the homeless and destitute, with drug addicts and alcoholics, with men who were in and out of jail on a regular basis. It was a new experience for me, and it brought new challenges. Yet Yahweh was sufficient for every moment and every need.

When Yahweh released me from the Rescue Mission in February of 2008, and called me back to a ministry of writing and teaching, one of the first things I did was devote myself to prayer and seeking the mind of God. I wanted to understand what He intended for this next phase of my life. I wanted to know what it was all designed to accomplish that I might approach it with understanding. I spent some time camping, first on the west border of Georgia, then on the eastern edge of the state. I was intent upon prayer, and Yahweh answered me. He gave me the understanding I asked for. It was at that time I began the Parables Blog. The first articles posted declared what Yahweh spoke to me.

Explorers and Pioneers to Serve as Guides - Part 1
http://www.parablesblog.blogspot.com/2008/04/explorers-and-pioneers-to-serve-as.html

Explorers and Pioneers to Serve as Guides - Part 2
http://www.parablesblog.blogspot.com/2008/04/explorers-and-pioneers-to-serve-as_21.html

These two writings declared that Yahweh was taking some of His sons and daughters down paths of surrender and faith and various trials in an hour when the majority were enjoying ease and comfort while living self-directed lives. These pioneering few were being subjected to experiences that a much larger group would experience in future days (days now near at hand). These ones, like Moses who spent forty years tending sheep in the wilderness, would serve as guides for their brothers and sisters who would subsequently be led into wilderness experiences.

Perhaps it is significant that Yahweh is preparing me to have light in my home in a day of darkness when many others will be left without light (both natural and spiritual). Guides act like lights, going before those who have not walked certain paths before. Did not Yahweh send a pillar of fire to guide and illumine His people in their desert places? The light that will illumine my bus comes from the Sun. It is a heavenly light, and it will also produce power. Is this not both a natural and spiritual matter?

This writing may seem an odd mixture of the natural and the spiritual, yet, in my thinking, this is not unusual. The natural events and details of our lives contain spiritual parables. Yahweh will lead us to do some very practical things (such as upgrading my bus to be powered by solar energy). Yet these natural things contain spiritual lessons. This teaching will contain both the natural and the spiritual. I invite you to come along for the journey and see what can be discovered.

To be continued...

Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws    

Parables Blog: www.parablesblog.blogspot.com    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063