Monday, September 29, 2014

Righteous Preparation

Joseph Herrin (09-29-2014)

View Inside My Trailer

I believe the majority opinion regarding people who are making preparation for societal unrest, political upheaval, financial meltdown, or any of a range of calamities (famine, plague, earthquakes, nuclear war, etc.) is that people who do such things are a bit off in the head. This view prevails even in the church where such individuals are frequently considered “fringe” and “deluded.” Unfortunately, there are a significant number of “doomsday preppers” around who give credence to their reputation of being extremists, and mentally unstable. What I would bring to the attention of readers of this blog, however, is that being prepared for a time of calamity has a solid Biblical history from both the Old and New Testaments.

Perhaps because my birth name is Joseph, and the Father told me in 1999 that He had given me this name for a significant reason, I have been more attentive than most believers to the accounts of men in the Bible named Joseph. Most Christians have heard the story of Joseph in Egypt. Joseph was the eleventh of twelve sons of Jacob. Out of jealousy, Joseph’s brothers hated him and sold him as a slave into Egypt. In Egypt Joseph knew many trials and sorrows while also experiencing the grace and favor of Yahweh. When Joseph was thirty years old he was summoned before Pharaoh because his ability to rightly interpret dreams had reached the ears of the ruler of this great empire nation.

Pharaoh had dreamed two dreams that he did not understand. His wise men could not interpret the dreams for him. Joseph was given the interpretation by God, along with the wisdom to know what to do in response to the divine message. Yahweh was revealing that there would be seven years of plenty in the land followed by seven years of severe famine. Joseph gave the following counsel to Pharaoh.

Genesis 41:33-36
“And now let Pharaoh look for a man discerning and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh take action to appoint overseers in charge of the land, and let him exact a fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven years of abundance. Then let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming, and store up the grain for food in the cities under Pharaoh's authority, and let them guard it. And let the food become as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which will occur in the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish during the famine.”

Here, in the opening book of the Bible, we find the account of one of the first preppers (Noah was a prepper too). Joseph was set in charge of storing up grain in Egypt. When the famine came just as predicted, Joseph was able to open the storehouses and save the lives of many people. Similarly, the Spirit of Christ directed me to store up grain. In my trailer I have 42 buckets that are filled with grains and legumes. Among the things I have stored are the following:

Hard Red Wheat: 150 pounds
Hard White Wheat: 150 pounds
Corn: 100 pounds
Rye: 50 pounds
Spelt: 50 pounds
Brown Rice: 100 pounds
Oat Groats: 100 pounds

Black Eyed Peas: 100 Pounds
Chick Peas (Garbanzos): 25 pounds
Kidney Beans: 25 pounds
Great Northern Beans: 50 pounds
Pinto Beans: 50 pounds
Green Split Peas: 50 pounds
Lima Beans: 50 pounds
Black Beans: 50 pounds
Red Lentils: 50 pounds

Wheat in Buckets

It is important for me to establish that it was not human reasoning that led me to store up these supplies. It was not due to alarm at the calamities I perceive to be coming upon the nations that I acted to store up grain. Neither did I seek to fulfill some perceived spiritual parallel between my life and that of Joseph in Egypt. The Spirit of Christ guided and enabled me to perform this work which has both a natural and spiritual component (I have been storing up much spiritual grain in recent years as I have now authored 19 books and hundreds of shorter writings).

Bus with New Trailer in 2012

Consider that the Lord directed me to leave my employment as a computer professional in 1999. I had no money in the bank, no church to support me, no material resources to sustain me. When I liquidated my assets fifteen years ago the Lord had me start over with a fresh ledger. All my debts were terminated, but in the process I also relinquished all my worldly possessions (house, vehicles, furnishings, etc.). I have been on a journey of faith ever since, following the Spirit of Christ wherever He leads while looking to Him to supply every need.

The Father did direct me to take employment with an inner city rescue mission for three years, but that employment ended in February of 2008. Since then I have had no employer, no paycheck, looking only to Yahweh to sustain me. It is therefore remarkable that in 2012, having been unemployed in the eyes of the world for more than four years, the Father provided the funds to purchase a new 16 foot trailer to pull behind my bus, and to fully stock it with foodstuffs and a variety of items such as a grain mill, a roller/flaker, and a 12 volt DC freezer/refrigerator. It was also at that time that I purchased my solar panels. All of this was paid for in cash, as I have not had a penny’s worth of debt since 1999.

I sense that a time of transition is at hand in my own experience. At the beginning of the summer I announced that I was led to complete the book titled FOUNDATIONS. It was on my heart to afterwards complete some other projects related to taking the many writings the Father has guided me to produce and prepare them for wider distribution. One of these projects is to expand the Parables Newsletter series that I send out to men in prison. The newsletters contain the books I have written in serial form. I have about half a dozen books yet to be put into this format. I also had it in mind to produce audio books from each of these writings.

As I have prayed for Yahweh’s direction and understanding regarding the present day and how to prepare for things to come, I was led to reflect upon the time since the Father led me to leave the employment of the rescue mission. This upcoming February will mark seven years since I left the mission to return to the full-time ministry of writing and teaching. It came to mind how Joseph’s life was also marked by sevens. He stored up grain for seven years. He then distributed grain to the people for seven years.

Since I left the rescue mission in 2008 I have been storing up both spiritual and physical grain. This has led me to consider whether February will mark a transition of some sort. I cannot say for certain, but there is much evidence to suggest that transitional events are soon to occur in the nations. It is significant that Joseph had no one coming to him asking for grain until the famine began. Only in a time of great distress and worldwide calamity did people find that which Joseph had stored up to be valuable. Similarly, I believe the greatest time of ministry lies ahead and will be found during a time when the world is experiencing great distress.

Before citing some of the signs of disruption coming to the nations, I want to mention the pattern observed in the Bible of men named Joseph being used to deliver a remnant in a time of great distress. Joseph, the son of Jacob, evidently fits this pattern. In the second year of the famine, Joseph’s brothers appeared before him in Egypt, and he spoke the following to them.

Genesis 45:4-8
“I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God...”

There are several men named Joseph in the New Testament, the most well known being the husband of Mary who was given the role of being a father to the Son of God. This Joseph too was given dreams which foreshadowed things to come. These dreams often served as warnings of upcoming events, and divine wisdom was given to him to know what to do.

Matthew 2:13
An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise and take the Child and His mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.”

Matthew 2:19-23
An angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Arise and take the Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel; for those who sought the Child's life are dead.” And he arose and took the Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he departed for the regions of Galilee, and came and resided in a city called Nazareth...

No doubt, Yahweh will warn many of His people in coming days to depart suddenly and relocate to areas where they will be out of the reach of those who seek their lives. Will you be able to drop everything and go? Will your settled manner of living and many possessions prevent you from heeding the warnings of God? Those who are the least attached to this world and its cumbersome possessions will find it the easiest to follow the Spirit’s leading.

There was cost involved in traveling to a foreign nation and dwelling there for years. How was Joseph to pay for it all? Remember the magi who brought with them gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh? Yahweh always makes a provision when He puts it into the heart of a man to perform some task, particularly a task that involves preserving a remnant alive.

The other two Josephs in the New Testament opened their storehouses after their own fashion in order to accomplish a work of God. Joseph of Arimathea donated his freshly hewn tomb for the body of Christ to be buried (Matthew 27:57-60). Joseph, who was also called Barnabas, a disciple from Cyprus, sold a tract of land and brought the money and laid it at the disciples’ feet (Acts 4:36). The money was used for the care of widows and orphans.

Does Yahweh intend to preserve a remnant alive through days of great tribulation that are coming? I believe He does.

Mark 13:19-20
“For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created, until now, and never shall. And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect whom He chose, He shortened the days.”

Revelation 12:14
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.

It is interesting that the time of tribulation at the end of the age is to be a seven year period. This finds some correspondence with the seven year famine in Egypt during the days of Joseph. If the Father shows us that such days are near at hand, and He also gives us understanding to know how to prepare for such a time, is it not both wise and righteous to prepare?

Proverbs 6:6-8
Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer, and gathers her provision in the harvest.

Proverbs 22:3
The prudent foresees evil and hides himself, but the naive go on, and are punished for it.

Understand that I am NOT advocating works of a man’s own initiative. A man or woman, foreseeing evil, should not set about to prepare for it any way their soul determines. Christians are to be led of the Spirit in all they do. What the Father directs you to do, you should do. Many Christians in their naivete and carelessness assume that the days of prosperity will never end. They think something will occur to preserve the status quo. Many believe it to be folly to prepare for TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it).

Proverbs 1:32-33
“The complacency of fools shall destroy them. But he who listens to me shall live securely, and shall be at ease from the dread of evil.”

As I have recently been seeking the Father to know the days we live in I watched a video by Jonathan Cahn, the author of The Harbinger. He was speaking of the seven year pattern of the Shemitah. I found what was shared to be thought provoking. Could it be that we are entering into the last seven year period at the end of the age? Will this Shemitah year of Sept. 24, 2014 to September 13, 2015 be a year of great collapse in America? Jonathan Cahn shares that the word Shemitah means “collapse.” In 2001 America experienced a great collapse as the World Trade Towers fell. This occurred during a week in which the stock market had been falling drastically. After the towers collapsed the Stock Market was shut down for a week in an unprecedented move to stabilize the market. This occurred in the final week of a Shemitah year. In 2008 America’s stock markets experienced another collapse. This too was a Shemitah year. We are now one week into the next Shemitah (collapse). Will this Shemitah year that is fourteen years after 9-11 reveal another collapse of historic proportions for this nation? We won’t have to wait long to find the answer to the question.

At this same time Rick Joyner has posted a message that has gone viral. In the video he shares a recent dream of great terror and distress coming to the nation of America. Rick Joyner states that he was shown a vision of a gang who came across America’s southern border and slaughtered the people on a ranch in Texas. He describes the gang of terrorists as diabolical, demon possessed, committing acts of atrocity that make the ISIS terrorists seem mild by comparison. Rick Joyner foresees martial law coming to the United States due to an overreaction by Americans who begin targeting and striking back at all Hispanic people in the U.S.A.. He is prophesying a form of civil war based upon racial and religious lines. You can view the two parts to this message below.

Although the things Rick Joyner foresees may indeed occur, I am fully convinced that he is an instrument of Satan to deceive the people of God. He may be right about what is coming, but his patriotism, his belief that America’s government can solve these security problems (they are in fact the ones who have intentionally created the security problem), his suggestion that martial law may be in the best interests of Americans, are all demonic deceptions. Rick Joyner long ago fell under the influence of deceiving spirits as his embrace of Bob Jones and Todd Bentley demonstrate.

With the global elite’s creation of ISIS (see my recent post “Have You Been Played Lately?” and the links below), and the hyping of the Ebola outbreak in Africa, it is evident that the world is being prepared to experience calamities with a back story that will lead the masses to respond according to the globalists agenda.

If these possibilities are not enough to give one pause to consider what is coming, I will mention the unsustainability of America’s financial policies, and that of other Western nations. They must soon implode under the weight of their massive debt burdens. One financial analyst has suggested that the U.S. and its NATO allies are fomenting crisis in Ukraine and in the South China Sea at this time to draw these nations into war to hide the truth of the financial bankruptcy of Western nations and their inability to meet their financial obligations to Russia and China.

Whether or not Harvey Organ’s analysis is correct, it is certain that the global financial situation is perilous. Sooner or later the entire global system will collapse so that the New World Order can arise out of the ashes of the old system. The world is standing on the precipice and a great fall (Shemitah) is assured. The global elite want to eradicate more than 90% of the world’s population and rule the remainder as serfs in a new feudal system. The transition from this present world system into the next will be very ugly. The Bible testifies of that which is to come.

I would ask Christians whether they believe God will give them warnings when things are about to collapse so that they might prepare themselves both spiritually and physically? In the book of Acts we have a record of a famine coming to the world which affected the Christians in Jerusalem. Yahweh gave the church a forewarning of this event so they could make preparation and send relief to the saints in this region.

Acts 11:28-30
And one of them named Agabus stood up and began to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world. And this took place in the reign of Claudius. And in the proportion that any of the disciples had means, each of them determined to send a contribution for the relief of the brethren living in Judea. And this they did, sending it in charge of Barnabas and Saul to the elders.

Interesting, isn’t it, that Barnabas (whose actual name was Joseph) was a chosen vessel of God to help sustain people alive in a time of famine following the same pattern as Joseph in Egypt? People of God, I would not instruct you to do the same specific things I am doing in preparation for the coming days. Yahweh may not direct you to convert a bus to a motorhome, or store up grains, or outfit a motorhome for off-grid living. He may lead some to do similar things, but He may have another provision for you. He may direct you to other specific actions that you might be prepared. A universal principle for all of God’s people to follow is to surrender your life to go WHEREVER Yahweh directs, and to do WHATEVER He commands you to do. If you are being led of the Spirit, Yahweh will have you in readiness for the coming days.

When Yahweh spoke to me in 1999 and told me to begin using my first name of Joseph, for up until then I had been called by my middle name of Bradley (Brad), I had no idea how many of the events in the life of Joseph recorded in the book of Genesis would find their counterparts in my own life. I had yet to be rejected by my brothers in Christ, who like Joseph’s brothers were employed as shepherds tending their father’s sheep; I had not yet been falsely accused by a woman who wanted something I could not give to her (in my case it was money rather than sex); I had not yet been cast into jail; I was not at the time active in serving those in prison; I had not stored up grain (spiritual or physical). Yet all of these things have since occurred in my life. I do not doubt that I will also be present during a time of great worldwide calamity, one that surely will include famine due to either the breakdown of the just-in-time supermarket food chain, droughts, pestilence, or unavailability of seed to plant.

As I look at the specific things the Father has led me to do, and to continue to do such as completing my solar auxiliary power system, I am led to consider the relationship between these actions and a time when the whole world will be shaken. Should you not be seeking the Father to know what the future days hold and what you should do to prepare as well?

What I would specifically counsel you to do is to cast off complacency, and a tendency to conform yourself to this fallen world system. If your life is following the pattern of this world with its debt fueled consumerism and you have a home with a mortgage, vehicles financed by the banks, credit cards, or other forms of debt; if you are living large (literally) with more space than you need, a heavy dependence upon power consumption to heat and cool your living space, and many wasteful inefficient appliances, you will be a prime candidate to suffer the full effects of the coming collapse.

The end is near. Will you be prepared?

Heart4God Website:    

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

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Solar Ruminations - In Defense of Austerity

extreme plainness and simplicity of style or appearance.
"the room was decorated with a restraint bordering on austerity"
conditions characterized by severity, sternness, or asceticism.
"a simple life of prayer and personal austerity"

Austerity has been much in the news in recent months. Various nations have been drowning in debt, their governments facing insolvency, resulting in severe cutbacks in social welfare programs and government services. In some of the more severe cases, such as what occurred in the nation of Cyprus, the banks even confiscated a significant portion of the people’s savings accounts.

The tendency of humanity is to expand one’s standard of living as personal income rises. I lived according to this pattern for many years. As I was receiving annual increases in my pay year over year, I increased personal spending. I bought a larger house with a bigger yard. I purchased more expensive automobiles. As a family we ate out more. Our home was filled with an increasing array of time and labor saving appliances, etc.. Consequently, no matter how much I was earning, I found that I was living paycheck to paycheck.

Living in a materialistic society that is saturated with advertisements and enticements to purchase the latest gadget, inducing us to spend money to acquire whatever thing our mind sees as desirable whether it be some new food item at a favorite restaurant, or the sports car of our dreams, it requires self-discipline to resist the forces all around us. The world is clamoring out “CONSUME! CONSUME! CONSUME!” Yet the example of Christ is that of emptying oneself and setting one’s focus on giving to others. The character of Christ is contentment, not consumerism.

Living at the end of this age, we are observing the greatest surfeit of consumer gluttony the world has ever witnessed.

People accustomed to fat living are not going to know what to do when the days of abundance are peremptorily cut short. The shock of adjusting to an austere lifestyle will be too much for many. People who were used to living in their McMansions funded by easy credit, will despair when they cannot pay the power bill to keep the lights on, much less service the massive debt they have accrued. How much better it would have been if they had chosen to live modestly. Many could have a small home that is paid for, rather than a larger one that is mortgaged. Many could drive a used car debt free rather than being in debt to pay for an automobile they could not purchase outright. Having experienced both a heavy debt load up until 1999, and being completely debt free since, I know it is possible to make the transition. Significant changes are required, however.

There is much wisdom in voluntarily reexamining your lifestyle before things collapse, and reducing your standard of living while you are able. If you have no debt, if your monthly expenses are minimal, if you can survive comfortably on a fraction of the money spent by those around you, the coming collapse of the global financial system and its concomitant effect on all facets of society will impact you far less than those who are living large when the global ship founders.

Costa Concordia Wreck

As Christians, we often are selective about the Biblical admonitions and instructions we choose to obey. We may read the words “Do not commit adultery,” and agree that this is a behavior we should avoid. What do we do, however, when the same Spirit inspired book tells us to reduce our use of this world, and to travel lightly through it?

I Corinthians 7:29-31
But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none... and those who buy, as though they did not possess; and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away.

James 5:1-5
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!... You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.

I have been as guilty of living selfishly as any man. Up until 1999 when I answered the Lord’s call to leave behind the life I had been living and to follow wherever He would lead me, I had led the life of the profligate consumer. Since that time I have had less in the way of income, but due to adopting a leaner, far less material lifestyle, I have been able to give away a larger percentage of my income. Both in percentage and total giving, I have given away far more in the past 15 years than I did the previous 38 years combined. When I have extra income, rather than looking for some new thing to buy to sate my soul, it has become my habit to ask Yahweh who He wants me to share with.

I continue to find the Father guiding me to embrace austerity. Austerity is not synonymous with misery, or poverty. It is to live frugally, and simply, having reduced needs (and wants) while manifesting a spirit of contentment. There is a great peace to be possessed when an individual exhibits a spirit of contentment. It is a peace that many who are rich in the world’s goods never know. It is reported that a century ago when John D. Rockefeller was making a million dollars a week, someone asked him how much money was enough. His reply was “Just a little more.”

Ecclesiastes 5:10
He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity.

I have found that as I labor to complete my solar auxiliary power system on my bus that the principle “less is more” continues to assert itself. This is true not only in the amount of material goods we accumulate, and the living space we occupy, but in the amount of power we consume. Living simply and freely is far easier when our electricity and other power demands are small, than when they are large. In revamping my solar design I have found that the greatest benefit is accrued by cutting back to bare necessities.

I had not anticipated making further cuts to my electric usage in order to operate entirely off of a solar power system. Two years ago when I wrote an article on solar power I mentioned that it is far more economical to reduce one’s energy consumption than to build a solar electric system large enough to power all of the wasteful appliances and devices that a nation accustomed to cheap and abundant power have become dependent upon. I had taken steps prior to 2012 to reduce the power consumption of my bus. Following is an excerpt from the article I wrote back then.
Setting up a solar power system can be an expensive proposition, so you need to give much thought to what you will do with it. The more you can pare down your power needs, the better off you will be. As I have mentioned in another post, it is far more cost effective to reduce your electrical current needs by replacing inefficient appliances and electrical devices than it is to purchase enough solar panels, batteries, and other components to run wasteful devices.

I have a thirty foot school bus converted into a motorhome.

Picture of The Dreamer with Trailer

I have been living in my bus for a year and a half as a full-time RVer (This was in June of 2012. I have now been in the bus nearly 4 years). During this time I have been making it more energy efficient. When I painted the outside of the bus I added a space age ceramic additive to the paint that I applied to the roof. This additive greatly reduces the amount of heat absorbed. You can find the product in powder form that I purchased at the following link.

You mix this into your paint prior to rolling it onto your surface to be painted.

Another thing I did was to apply mirror tint to all of the windows on the bus. This further reduces heat absorption. The mirrored tint I used can be purchased at Lowe’s or Home Depot. It acts like a one way mirror. You can see out from the inside, but from the outside it appears as if you are looking into a mirror.

Also, I kept as many windows as possible unblocked so that I could open them up and get air circulation inside the bus during moderate temperatures and if I am ever unplugged from the power grid and need some ventilation. All of these windows are screened to keep insects out. Additionally, my front door has a screen, and it too can be opened to increase air circulation. (I also installed a roof vent.)

Inside my bus all of my lighting is 12 volt DC. The fixtures originally came with standard incandescent bulbs, but I replaced them with LED bulbs. LED bulbs can be purchased to fit practically any 12 volt light fixture. They are just as bright as incandescent lighting if you purchase the appropriate bulbs. LEDs produce less heat, and most significantly, they use only about 1/10th of the power of standard incandescent lighting. Following are two types of LED lights I have purchased, and the vendors I got them from.

The light pictured above is simply amazing. It puts out a remarkable 315 lumens while using only 3 watts of power. 315 lumens is a lot of light... This light costs $19.99. I have 8 lights in my bus that use this LED. The company also sells a brighter 450 lumen LED that costs $24.99 each. I purchased 4 of these to go over my computer work area and in my kitchen where I need more light. As you can see, the cost can add up when purchasing LED lights, but the lights will last many times longer than incandescents... Over time they will pay for themselves, and even save you money. It is also more cost effective to replace incandescent bulbs with LEDs than it is to add more solar panels and batteries to a solar power system.

In other areas where I need less light I have some small round 12 volt dome lights. These use what are called festoon bulbs.

Festoon Bulb

You can purchase LED replacement lights that fit in the exact same fixture without having to do any modifications.

Festoon LEDs

Pictured above are several types of LED replacement lights. You can purchase these on Ebay or from Amazon’s website. A word of caution though, some of these bulbs are very cheap and you get what you pay for. I had some where the LEDs began failing immediately. This sent me back to do more research and I am quite happy with the LEDs I now use. They are much brighter than my previous ones, and they are not burning out. Following is an image of the type of LEDs I purchased.

These have the large single LED. I have found that they put out more light than the ones with multiple small LEDs and they seem more durable as well. This particular LED is sold 2 in a pack for $10 on E-bay...

As I mentioned, there are many appliances in my bus that I do not plan to run on solar power as they draw too much current. My toaster, microwave, Panini grill, bread machine, crock pot, and refrigerator are items I will not run on my solar power system. They are too inefficient and building up enough solar panels and batteries would be cost prohibitive. I do like to cook in a Crock Pot, and I have found a suitable alternative when I am not connected to the power grid. A solar oven acts very much like a slow cooker, and can be used for practically anything you would cook in a Crock Pot. In fact, if your Crock Pot has a removable crockery insert, you can take it out and place it in the solar oven, and so much the better if the inner liner is black as in the case of my Crock Pot. You can also bake bread in the Solar Oven, something my friends the Furmans in Arizona have been doing with theirs.

SOS Solar Oven

I purchased a portable freezer/refrigerator that is in my trailer. It uses only 1 amp of power whereas the refrigerator in my bus uses 2.7 amps. The freezer uses 37% of the power of the RV refrigerator in my bus.

In place of the microwave, toaster, crock pot, and bread machine, I can use the stove and oven in my bus that run on propane. One tank of propane lasts me nearly a year at current usage...

As far as heating my bus during the wintertime, I have a wood stove installed. Overall, I have greatly reduced my electrical energy demand for those times I will be off-grid, or when shore power will be unavailable.
[End Excerpt]

As you can tell by this excerpt from the article I posted two years ago, I had already given considerable thought to reducing my reliance upon the electric grid. I did not expect when I set out to revamp my solar power system that I would be making further reductions, but less is more (more better). I had forgotten that I had previously determined that the Dometic RV refrigerator in my bus is too inefficient to run on solar power and batteries. This one appliance alone consumes more than all of my other electric needs combined (excepting the roof air conditioner which I have no plans to run when off the power grid). The RV refrigerator would drain all of the power out of my batteries in a single day, even with the sun shining brightly on my solar panels. RV refrigerators designed to operate on either propane or electric use far more electricity than a home refrigerator that runs on AC power only. In fact, they can easily consume the same amount of power as 2 or 3 home refrigerators. Consequently, when I am not plugged into shore power (the electric power grid) I will not be using the RV refrigerator. I will unplug it and use it as additional pantry or storage space.

A couple years back I purchased an Edgestar 80 quart freezer that runs on either 110 volts AC power, or 12 volts DC power. I recently made a happy discovery that has had a major impact on the re-design of my solar power system. When I first purchased the freezer I found a plate on the back of it that provided the following information.

One thing I wanted to know is whether the freezer was more energy efficient when running on AC (alternating current) or DC (direct current) power. Being a little slow to catch on to the principles of electric power, I looked at the amp rating on the back of the freezer, and it informed me that when running on 115 volt AC power the freezer draws 1.0 Amps. When running on 12 volt DC power the freezer draws 5.5 Amps. Being electrically ignorant at the time (a condition that is curable), I saw the higher amp draw on DC and concluded that running on DC power would consume much more electricity than running on AC power.

For those who are as ignorant of electric nomenclature as I was (and who have no desire to rectify this situation at the moment) I will not bore you with a bunch of electrical jargon and theory. I will simply mention that comparing AC amperage and DC amperage on a 1:1 ratio is an erroneous approach. The far better way to calculate and compare power usage is in watts. Watts are arrived at by multiplying volts and amps. Following is what I should have done.

(AC) 115 volts x 1.0 amps = 115 watts
(DC) 12 volts x 5.5 amps = 66 watts

Now which one is more efficient? The correct answer is “DC.” This does make sense since the freezer has a DC motor that runs the compressor. If I plug the freezer into AC power, the AC power has to be converted to DC in order to run the motor. There is always power lost when converting from AC to DC, or from DC to AC.

EdgeStar 80 Quart Freezer

Consider how inefficient it would be if I were not hooked up to the power grid and I was running everything off of my solar power system and my 12 volt DC battery bank. In order to run the freezer on AC power I would have to use the Inverter in my bus to change the 12 volt DC power coming from the batteries into 115 volt AC power. In turn, the freezer would change the AC power back to DC to run the compressor motor. That is super wasteful. In contrast, if I run the freezer directly from my 12 volt battery bank no power conversion is needed.

When I came to understand this, it was very plain what I needed to do. I will install a 12 volt DC outlet at the rear of my bus so that I can run a line to the freezer and run it on 12 volt DC power. This led to an epiphany. Since I did not intend to run the refrigerator in my bus when off-grid, and since my freezer was best run on 12 volt DC, there was no reason I would need to keep the power inverter in my bus running at night.

Cotek S1500 Pure Sine Wave Inverter

It is fitting to say something about inverters at this point, though I will be brief and address this subject in more depth in a following post. An inverter takes the 12 volt DC power from the battery bank and changes it to 110/115/120 Volt AC power to run various AC appliances. Something I had not previously considered about inverters is how much power they consume even when they are idling, having no load on them. This is a MAJOR consideration, and I had no clue until recently.

I was a bit hasty in my initial redesign plans. I knew I needed a larger inverter than the 600 watt model I had previously been using. I have a grain mill that draws 900 watts that I want to be able to run on auxiliary power, a laptop computer, a printer, and various small appliances and tools. 600 watts was insufficient. I initially thought to get a 3000 watt inverter that had a large enough output to connect it directly into the 30 amp RV power distribution box, literally replacing the shore power connection with the power coming from my battery bank. For various reasons I will mention later, I found this to be impractical. However, I had already ordered a Go Power! 3000 watt inverter for this purpose.

I eventually decided to discuss the matter with some highly experienced and knowledgeable individuals on a solar power forum, and they informed me that the inverter I had purchased was not a good match for my system. One thing they pointed out is that it draws 2.5 amps of power even when it is idling. This means that 24 hours a day it would be drawing a minimum of 2.5 amps, even more when it was under load. I have not yet figured out whether this is at 110 volts AC, or 12 volts DC. I am assuming that it is at 12 volts DC since its incoming power source is DC. Even at 12 volts, 2.5 amps being consumed continuously adds up.

12 volts x 2.5 amps x 24 hours = 720 watts

If the amp rating on the inverter is at 110 volts the situation is truly dire.

110 volts x 2.5 amps x 24 hours = 6600 watts

6600 watts is greater than the entire capacity of my battery bank. Either way, that is a large power draw down for a device that serves only to convert DC power to AC. Fortunately, I had purchased the inverter through Amazon and was able to return it with no problem. Amazon even paid the return shipping cost.

The Cotek S1500 inverter I have now settled on has a power saving mode where it draws less than 1.5 watts when there is no load on the system. It also consumes a lot less power when under load. That is a remarkable difference.

1.5 watts x 24 hours = 36 watts

This is a much leaner device. Lean is good. Less power usage equates to fewer solar panels, less battery capacity needed, smaller gauge wiring and fuses, etc..

When I consider what I can truly live with (lights, fans, laptop, printer, chest freezer, 12 volt water pump, food blender, grain mill), and what are unnecessary convenience appliances (microwave, panini grill, toaster, RV fridge, crock pot, bread machine, etc.), I am able to design a very useful and adequate solar auxiliary power system that will not be a burden to maintain. Some of these non-essential appliances could be used occasionally as battery power allows. The more likely ones are those that operate for brief time periods such as a toaster, or microwave. These may have a high watt rating, but they usually run for only 2-3 minutes at a time. A crock pot and bread machine may have similar power ratings, but they run much longer which would drain the batteries considerably.


A 1100 watt toaster or microwave running for 3 minutes (1/20th of an hour) consumes a total of 55 watts. (Watt ratings are per hour.)

A 800 watt slow cooker running for three hours would consume 2400 watts of electricity. (Time to break out the solar oven.)

Working on the design of my solar power system has afforded me a good opportunity to consider how to reduce my power usage. It is proving to be a profitable exercise as we often take so many things for granted. As we lower our requirements for living - minimizing our space, our material goods, our power needs - we inevitably reduce our risk of experiencing a traumatic adjustment when those things we take for granted are suddenly interrupted. As I observe the signs of the times, and the very real chance of significant societal disruptions in coming days, this seems to be a prudent thing to do.

More to come...

Heart4God Website:    

Parables Blog:    

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

Monday, September 22, 2014

Solar Ruminations - If At First You Don’t Succeed...

Rube Goldberg Contraption

There is an expression to describe the labors of those who find that their attempts at creation do not work as well as they had hoped. It is “Back to the drawing board.” This expression accurately describes my efforts in recent days to re-design my solar auxiliary power system in my bus. My first implementation of solar power proved to be less than adequate, necessitating an overhaul.

For those unfamiliar with my old solar set-up, I have four solar panels rated at 140 watts each. This is their rating per hour of power generated. Altogether my four panels can produce up to 560 watts of electricity per hour. Here in Georgia I could get as much as ten hours of good sunlight in the summer, which would produce 5600 watts of electricity per day. In the winter I may get only half that amount. On overcast or rainy days the power generated would also be well off the peak.

These are my four solar panels. I had built adjustable angle mounts so they could be positioned to face directly into the sun. The image above is NOT where they were put when in use, as any shade will collapse a solar panel’s output tremendously. When I used them I placed them in direct sunlight where they were not shaded at all.

The following picture shows the rest of my original solar set-up inside the trailer I pull behind my bus. On the wall behind the yellow electrical reel there is the solar charge controller, a 20 amp model made by HQRP. It was adequate to handle two solar panels, which is all I had connected to it. I had a second identical charge controller that I intended to install inside my bus. It would be connected to the other two panels, but I never hooked it up.

You can see a remote display above the charge controller that reported the amount of power coming in from the panels and the state of charge on the large battery that you can see on the floor below the charge controller. On the wall to the right is the inverter that takes the 12 volt DC power from the battery and converts it to 110 volt AC power to run appliances and other electrical devices. The inverter was rated at 600 watts. It was actually underpowered for my needs. I have a grain mill on the counter above the battery that has a 900 watt motor. The 600 watt inverter would not run it.

(For those who are curious, the object mounted to the countertop with the crank handle on it is a roller/flaker. You feed whole grain oats into the top of it, and as you turn the handle it rolls the oats between two metal wheels, flattening them. The end product is rolled oats - just like Quaker Oats that come in the round box. I keep the whole oats in 5 gallon buckets in my trailer. When I run out of rolled oats in my bus, I go out to my trailer and roll some more. They are much better fresh, and store better when they are not rolled. I eat a lot of oatmeal, especially in the cooler months of the year. They are great when cooked with the frozen blueberries or strawberries that I picked and put into my freezer. You can cook oats without rolling them, but they take about 20 minutes to cook when not rolled. They will cook up in about 3 minutes in the microwave when they have been rolled.)

After two years of sporadic use, I found that my solar auxiliary system did not meet my needs very well. It was cumbersome to place the panels on the ground, and store them in my trailer whenever I moved. Also, the panels do best when facing directly into the sun. This required frequent trips outside to reposition the panels so that they tracked with the sun. A solar panel that tracks with the sun will generate approximately 40% more power in a day than one that is stationary. That is a significant difference.

When I began to consider the redesign of my solar power system, one of the first items I gave thought to was the arrangement of my solar panels. I wanted to get the maximum power from the panels I have on hand. This meant setting them up in such a way that they would track with the sun throughout the day. A 40% power increase is the equivalent of adding another 1.6 solar panels. By using automatic solar tracking I could significantly boost my power generating capacity while keeping the same solar panels and not take up any more space in deploying them.

The optimum placement of the panels would be on the roof of my bus. In my brief experience with solar panels, I found that the shadow cast by my bus is a significant problem. It is necessary to keep the electrical cables running from the solar panels to the charge controller as short as possible. Longer cables increase voltage drop in the lines significantly. Longer cables means less power is being delivered to the batteries, for the power is lost in overcoming the resistance in the wiring. However, with short cables, it is difficult to position the panels on the ground where they will not be shaded by the bus at some point during the day.

Many people (including some solar panel installers) do not know that shading even one small spot on a solar panel can result in the power output being cut entirely, or significantly reduced, from the panel. This is due to the way the individual solar cells that make up a complete solar panel are wired. Following are some illustrations of poor positioning of solar panels, and the resultant power loss incurred. They are taken from Handyman Bob’s website.

The small shadow caused by the roof vent falling on the panel pictured above reduced the power output by 2.9 amps, almost 30% of the panel’s rated output.

The shadow on the panel above reduced the output by 50%.

The little shadow on the corner of the panel above caused by the raised roof vent diminished the solar panel’s output by 2.5 amps, 30% of its rated output.

And the shading caused by the satellite dish on the corner of this panel cut the power off completely. It registered as a dead panel. (I am sure there is a spiritual lesson in all of this somewhere. A little darkness will reduce the power and effectiveness of our lives, and the darkness that enters people’s lives by watching satellite television can kill a person’s spiritual life.)

As you can imagine, placing your solar panels under trees, or where the shadow from other objects can fall upon their surface, will seriously degrade, or kill your solar panel output. Last winter I drove my bus to Jekyll Island and spent four months there. I have four small solar panels mounted on the front of my bus to keep my cranking battery charged. Because I rarely crank the bus, sometimes being parked in one location without driving anywhere for 6 months to a year, the battery would die if it was not being constantly charged.

The solar panels at the front of the bus do a good job of keeping the cranking battery charged up and in a ready state - that is, as long as they are in direct sunlight. The entire RV park on Jekyll Island is under ancient Live Oak trees, and large pines. I did not think much about this, for there is light under the trees, and I figured the panels would charge my battery a little bit. I was wrong. About two weeks before my time was up I decided to crank the bus to make sure everything was running okay. I was surprised when it would not crank. The battery was dead. Fortunately, it had not drained so low in the 3-1/2 months I was there to kill the battery. I was able to charge it back up. When it comes to solar panels, shade is bad - real bad.

The four small panels that keep my cranking battery charged
(Yes, they are in the shade - but only part of the day at that location.)

At my present location, my bus is parked in a nice open spot without any overhanging trees. I have been here for most of the past two years, other than my trip to Jekyll Island. I have good sunlight access, but if the panels are placed on the ground they must contend with the shade caused by the bus. Consequently, one of my first considerations was to come up with a design to place my solar panels on the roof of the bus, and set them up to track with the sun.

For those unfamiliar with solar tracking, there are a considerable number of devices being marketed that detect the sun’s location in the sky and send a signal to a control box to power a motor to turn the solar panels. These devices are not all that expensive (compared to other components of a solar power system). A single axis solar tracker can be purchased for about $90 with sensor, control box and wiring (motors are extra). Dual axis solar trackers can be obtained for about $150. Some also come with inputs to attach an anemometer (wind gauge) that will tell the panels to lay horizontal if the wind rises above a preset limit. This is a considerable concern as solar panels are like big sails. They catch a lot of wind.

Dual Axis Solar Tracking

A dual axis solar tracker allows movement along the horizontal and vertical axes. This is optimum to generate the most power from a panel. If you can keep the panel facing directly at the sun, the maximum power will be produced.

I read a lot of Internet websites on this subject, and watched a lot of videos of various solar tracking installations. I had to consider what I was capable of doing myself with the tools and material available to me. One thing I do not have, and am not trained for, is welding. Ideally, mounting something on the roof of my bus would be best done by welding it there. I can hire someone to do the welding, but I also wanted to consider if there was anything I could bolt up to the roof. My bus is now 42 years old (manufactured in 1972), and it has a steel roof. It is actually a double layer steel roof with a 2" space between layers, and the space is insulated. It is much more solid than most new motorhomes or travel trailers. I do not have any concern at all about damaging the roof by walking on it.

After considerable consideration, I decided to try mounting the panels using a small 2' tripod, the kind used to position satellite dishes on the ridge of a roof. My design also included using a satellite dish motor to turn the solar panel to keep it aligned with the sun. Below is a video of an implementation of a similar design.

Following is an image of one of the tripod mounts on the roof of my bus.

You can see on the back of the bus roof there is a platform covered by a tarp. The previous owners had used the bus to go to NASCAR races in Atlanta. They would park in the field in the center area of the track and climb up on the roof with their folding chairs and watch the cars go around. I use the area for storage, and cover it with a tarp. My plan was to set four tripod mounts on the roof between the cargo area and the panels at the front of the bus, and have the solar panels rotate on the mounts.

The image above shows a close-up of how the mounts would attach to the roof. I also purchased a pole mount to provide a fourth mounting point at the very center. This would add much more rigidity to the mounting system.

Before putting any holes in the roof of my bus, or welding anything to it, I decided it would be best to assemble one of the panels to the tripod and satellite dish motor and see how sturdy it would be. I was concerned that wind load on the panels might be a problem. If this set-up did not appear to be rock solid, I did not want to risk using it for my panels. One drawback to this design is that the panels could not easily be flatted (placed in a horizontal position) to minimize wind effect. Also, the panels would have to be dismounted and placed in my trailer whenever I drove the bus. Despite these drawbacks, because this design seemed “doable,” being within my capabilities and something I could accomplish with the tools I had on hand, I wanted to give it a try.

First, I removed the framing I had been using on one of the panels when I set it on the ground, and I fabricated a new frame incorporating a pole mount I purchased on Ebay. The pole mount is adjustable, made specifically for solar panels. It allows the panel to be positioned at an angle with the sun.

I then assembled the tripod base using a 1-3/8" fence pole. The pole was not as thick as I would have liked it to be. It tended to deform when I clamped it down tightly to the tripod and to the satellite motor mounts. To keep the pole from bending inward, I ran a piece of wood doweling of the same diameter down into the pole.

Tripod with Satellite Dish Motor and Solar Panel Mount Installed

I then screwed the base down to the 3/4" sheet of marine plywood you can see it resting upon. Champ apologizes for the dirt. This is inside his kennel and I have not yet been able to train him to sweep his floor when he gets it dirty. The final step was to mount the solar panel to the base.

I was very happy with the way it looked. As far as Rube Goldberg contraptions go, it was pretty exotic looking. The mount itself was very sturdy. Nevertheless, when I applied pressure to either side of the solar panel, there was significant movement from side to side. The weak point in the set-up was the satellite dish motor. The neck of the satellite dish motor is not held taut enough by the motor. This was the largest satellite dish motor I could find at a reasonable price, and it failed the strength test. It is designed to hold 3' diameter satellite dishes, but the solar panel is considerably larger.

For those wondering how this design would have been used to track with the sun, the satellite dish motor connects to a control box that is operated with a remote. By purchasing a universal remote with a timing feature, the control box could be activated at specified time intervals to move the panel to a preset position. Since it was all set to a timer, by inputting the correct times and positions, the panel would automatically track with the sun. No sun position sensor is needed with this design.

Any mounting design that utilizes only a single attachment point in the center of the panel is going to be inherently weaker than a design that uses two or more attachment points. The entire weight and wind load on the panel is borne by the single attachment point. This necessitates that all materials must be very strong and rigid. The materials I was using, particularly the satellite motor, proved to be inadequate.

Observing some of the shortcomings of this design before I had even assembled it, I thought it a good idea to reach out to a brother in Christ who has far more experience in fabrication and design of mechanical things than I do. This brother lives in Idaho, so unfortunately I could not drive my bus over to his house and ask for his assistance. We are separated by about 3,000 miles and the tallest mountain range in America, the Rocky Mountains. My bus does not have a strong enough motor to climb mountains, and it gets only 4-5 mpg which makes the cost of long cross country travel prohibitive. Yahweh evidently did not foresee any need for me to drive the bus out of state when He directed me to purchase it. It remains a Georgia vehicle, having traveled only within the state.

Jeff proved to be very eager to help me out. After some exchanges of information, he quickly came up with some ideas that are far better than my attempts. I had told Jeff that another option I had considered was to use the four tripods and pole mounts to form a large rectangle frame that would be positioned just forward of the cargo area and go above the air conditioner on the roof. Using the same fence poles I could construct a rectangular frame approximately 8'-10" x 4'-10" (the dimensions of the four solar panels laid side by side), and create some type of giant lazy susan affair that they could rotate on. Following is an image showing how the panels might be mounted in this arrangement.

Imagine this sitting on a rotating base, and you have an idea of what I had in mind. My main concern again was the strength of the frame and the sturdiness of the rotating assembly under a wind load. My plan was to use some wood in the construction, as I am better able to work with wood, and have the tools for it, but Jeff rightly stated that steel construction is much stronger.

Sometimes it takes a fresh pair of eyes to see possibilities that we overlook. Jeff asked me what the dimensions of the cargo area at the rear of the bus were. When I measured I found that it was slightly larger than the solar panels and would serve very well as a position to locate them.

When I first began living in the bus I had a small 8' x 5' trailer I was pulling behind it. It was a short trailer than you had to stoop to enter. I could not carry much in the trailer, so it was very handy having the cargo area atop the bus to put things I did not need frequent access to. Back on 2012 I purchased a much larger trailer, and the cargo area atop the bus was not needed as much. Half of the storage containers on the bus roof were empty. When I took everything down off the bus roof and discarded what was not essential, I found I could move what remained to the trailer. Since I had moved the solar panels out of the trailer, and would not be needing to put them back as they would be permanently mounted on the roof, I had plenty of space in the trailer.

The platform at the back of the bus roof is steel construction, and very solid. It is far better than anything I could have come up with for a mounting base. Jeff had his daughter Kristine draw an illustration of his solar mount design to show me what he had in mind. It uses a trailer axle stub as the central piece upon which a steel frame will be bolted to hold the panels. Following is a picture of my cargo platform on the bus roof.

It needs a good wash. The small cultivator laying there had not yet been removed. The platform is welded to the bus roof along all the edges. The corrugated steel decking is welded to the edges of the platform frame. Consequently, the decking does have a little springiness in the center. Some additional steel may need to be welded atop the corrugated deck to make it a little firmer. Following is an image of Jeff’s design. It reminds me a bit of one of those hand sketched Leonardo DaVinci designs.

Pictured is a 12" x 12" steel plate at the base. At the center of the plate is a pipe standing on end with a screw jack inside. You can see a handle for the screw jack extending out to the rear of the bus. This will be used to raise and lower the solar panels. In the lowered position the solar panels can be covered with the tarp that I have been using over the cargo area, protecting them when traveling, or in the event of inclement weather. Another pipe would fit over the first pipe, with the axle shaft welded to it. This allows for the axle to rotate. Pieces of angle iron would be bolted to the studs on the axle. Jeff suggested using a scissor jack to raise and lower the panels, inclining them to face the sun, but I may opt to use a linear actuator for this instead.

I know this isn’t the normal type of thing I write about, so some of my readers will be wondering what a linear actuator is. Following is a picture of one.

The linear actuator is the unit with the electric cord running into it. It is pictured attached to a base at the bottom. The actuator has a shaft that goes in and out. In the installation pictured above, as the shaft extends the pole it is attached to is pushed over at an angle. As the shaft is retracted the pole is pulled back into an upright position. Linear actuators are used in most professional solar panel trackers.

Eco-Worthy is one company that sells solar trackers. You can purchase the electronics separately from the linear actuators, or purchase them together in a package. A dual axis solar tracker with actuators is under $300. It will handle all the motion in a solar array. After the sun has set in the evening, the electronics of the solar tracking system directs the panels to lay flat in the horizontal position. This protects them from winds that may arise at night. In the morning when the sun rises, the light hitting the sensor initiates tracking once more and the panels will raise themselves into the correct position.

In the design Jeff came up with, one linear actuator would attach to the pipe near the base and would control the horizontal rotation of the panels. The other actuator would go where the scissor jack is pictured in the drawing.

Because I will inevitably park the bus facing different directions, multiple mounting points indexed around the base of the apparatus will need to be fitted so that the range of motion provided by the linear actuator will always be adequate to track from east to west. This is the plan at the moment. I will provide an update once it is fabricated and installed.

Coming up with a functional design that adequately meets the needs of my solar auxiliary power system has required some perseverance and patience. It has required that I research the subject, and educate myself in it. As Christians our lives are always a mixture of spiritual and natural experiences. Yet, even in those terrestrial tasks that appear to have little relationship to spirituality, there is a need to manifest the fruit of the Spirit in our lives in order to succeed.

It would be easy to murmur and complain at every obstacle, or to bemoan every failure or setback. Tragically, this was what the Israelites did when Yahweh led them through the wilderness on their journey from Egypt to the land of Canaan. Rather than bearing up patiently when difficulties arose, they gave into despair and yielded their tongues to speak words of complaint against Yahweh and His appointed leaders. As we follow the Lord through this life we will inevitably encounter difficulties, trials, and seemingly insurmountable problems. Yet, if we will crucify the unruly flesh with its impatience, unbelief, and impetuosity, we will find that God will help us. If we implore His help in a humble and respectful manner, He is pleased to help us.

Remember, this is the same God who expanded the mind of Solomon to have wisdom and understanding surpassing all other men. It is the same God who provided water from the rock and bread from the heavens when His people had a need. It seems a small thing to ask Yahweh to help us in carrying out the tasks that we encounter in this life. James sagely wrote, “You have not because you ask not.” One thing I have done in approaching this project is to routinely ask Yahweh to guide me and to give me understanding to know how to proceed.

Don’t fall into the error of separating your life into spiritual and natural compartments. All of life is spiritual, for we are spiritual beings created in the image and likeness of our heavenly Father. The fruits and gifts of the Spirit have application in all realms of life.

To be continued...

Heart4God Website:    

Parables Blog:    

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

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

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..

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.

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)

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.

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...)

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

Explorers and Pioneers to Serve as Guides - Part 2

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...

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