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Using microinverters for solar power

March 13, 2010

If you only plan to sell the electricity you produce back to the electric company and not go off the electrical utility grid, then the microinverter may be the most elegant solution. You use a single one of these inverters with every solar panel in the system. Simply connect the solar panel to the inverter and connect the inverter to your electrical box–only two sets of connections.

What are the benefits?

If you use a microinverter, expansion is easy. You can start with a single solar panel and inverter to have a complete grid tie system. Adding to it is almost like adding a set of Christmas lights to an existing set. The plugs and sockets are different because they’re made to withstand weather.

In addition, microinverters give the advantage of maximum power point tracking (MPPT) for every individual panel. This means shadows or performance issues with one panel won’t affect the others. If you opt for Enphase’s microinverter, you also have the ability to get detailed day-to-day, hour-to-hour statistics for every panel! Watch the How It Works video for a video representation.

Where can I get one?

Microinverters are still somewhat new and haven’t really made it to mainstream as far as solar power is concerned. The Affordable Solar Group and EcoDirect have some pretty good prices, (but their solar panels are a bit pricey). There are many places on the web to get microinverters.

The only microinverter that is currently available is from Enphase. Another is in development from SolarBridge.

How do I connect it?

Don’t be intimidated with wiring this device. If you can install a household socket or light switch, you can install this. If you can match colors and put up Christmas lights, you can install this. The instructions alone should make it very easy to understand.

If you watch the Enphase Micro-inverter System Installation video, they make it sound simple, because it is simple. But, it does take some time. Don’t let the phrases about electrical code and “qualified personnel” scare you. I’ll discuss this in more detail in another article. Check out this New Jersey Solar Installation video for some good details.

Choosing a Solar Panel

All you really need to focus on is buying a compatible solar panel for the microinverter, (unless you’re comfortable with splicing and soldering the wires of an incompatible panel). You should be able to find a compatibility list in the support section of the company’s website. Enphase, for instance, has a download section.

Connecting the Microinverter

First you generally need your inverter in place before you connect your solar panel. Run conduit up to your roof (or your panels’ location) to a junction box. Enphase prefers you to buy an AC branch “Install Kit” for $60, but you could easily get your own parts separately. Or, you could just run the inverter wires to a box and run conduit to an inside switch which would probably be cheaper, maybe $20. From there, just run wires into your electrical box to a circuit breaker. Check out Installing Electrical Conduit Systems for more details.

Connecting a Solar Panel

The inverter and solar panel will likely have special connectors. These connectors are designed to be fool proof. But if you’re an electronic hobbyist you may want to get less expensive solar panels that aren’t on the compatibility list. If that’s the case, make sure you have the correct voltage, (you might need two panels in series or parallel). To connect a panel, just:
  1. Cut off the connectors from the solar panel and inverter (this may void the warranty)
  2. Prepare heat shrink tubing to cover your connections by placing them over the wires (available locally at Radio Shack or online)
  3. Solder positive to positive, negative to negative
  4. Cover your connections with the heat shrink tubing and shrink it

Living on DC

March 8, 2010

Most of our everyday appliances and electronic devices operate using AC (alternating current), right? … It might surprise you that most appliances we use today are using DC (direct current) rather than AC. Internally they convert the AC to DC. If you’re an electronic hobbyist, you probably already know that. If you’re using a solar system with batteries, you could save by using DC directly.

Reaping the Benefits

The benefits of running things off DC directly is that you have no conversion loss. Inverters and power supplies alike have a conversion efficiency. Most conversion efficiencies lie somewhere between 80-95%. If you can reduce the number of conversions, you will come out ahead. However, it may require you to have ten 12V batteries wired in series to obtain between 110-130 volts DC. You could use a DC-DC converter, but that would defeat the purpose.

Distinguishing What Uses AC

First you need to know what you can and can’t operate with DC. You cannot use DC on anything that has a transformer on its power input. You can use these steps as a guideline to determine what can be operated using DC, but the only way to really know is to look inside:
  1. If the appliance has a mechanical switch, turn it on unplugged.
  2. Use a multimeter to measure ohms (Ω) across the prongs of the plug.
  3. If the meter reads about 500 ohms or less, it likely uses a transformer.
Here are some things that typically require AC to operate:
  • Air conditioning and heating systems
  • General purpose fans and ceiling fans
  • Washing machines/dryers
  • Refrigerators/freezers
  • Microwave ovens
  • Garage door openers
  • Fluorescent lights with ballast transformers
  • Cell phone chargers (which are usually small wall mount transformers)
  • Anything with an AC motor

Distinguishing What Uses DC

You can use DC on anything that has a bridge rectifier on its input. A bridge rectifier is something that converts AC to DC using four diodes. If you can measure around 1 meg ohm (MΩ) or more across the prongs of the plug using a multimeter, it most likely uses a bridge rectifier. Again, the only way to really know is to look inside. Most of the following items use a bridge rectifier or can use AC or DC:
  • Any lengthwise oriented or switching power supply (doesn’t mount on the wall)
  • Computer/Laptop power supplies
  • Incandescent, CLF, and LED light bulbs or Christmas lights
  • DVD players and newer VCRs
  • Game consoles
AC wall transformers and DC switching power supplies

Replacing Wall Transformers

One of the most pesky things to deal with are those big black and inefficient wall transformers. The output of most of these are DC because they use a bridge rectifier on the output of the transformer. If you can find a switching power supply at the same DC output voltage to take it’s place, then replace it.

Solar panel wiring

February 28, 2010

Some may think there’s a lot to know about wiring a solar system, but the truth is the basics are pretty much the same as they were 20 years ago. Wiring solar panels is like wiring Christmas lights. There are several sites out there that show you the basics. However, it’s important to know when to use the methods discussed.

What’s your input device?

Before you buy solar panels, you need to know what you’re going to use to convert the solar power. Are you using a charge controller and/or a grid tie inverter? Here’s a couple of different things you could use (click on their description tab for details):


First, it’s important to know the basics. There are two basic ways to wire solar panels, series and parallel. Series arrangements increase the voltage of an array. Parallel arrangements increase the current of an array. Let’s use an 80 Watt, 12 Vpm, 6.6 Ipm solar panel for examples. (See my article about choosing solar panels to learn what Vpm and Ipm means.) Wiring panels in series:
  • +/plus/red to –/minus/black, +/red to –/black, + to –, etc.
  • Three panels in series equals 36V at 6.6 Amps.
Wiring in parallel:
  • +/plus/red to +/red to +, –/minus/black to –/black to –, etc.
  • Three panels in parallel equals 12V at 19.8 Amps.
For more examples and pictures, check out these sites. Keep in mind that you will likely have to use both series and parallel connections within the same array:

Series vs. Parallel

These wiring arrangements, though different, generally achieve the same result in terms of power. But there are differences you should consider:
Series Parallel
Electrical focus voltage current (amps)
Wire diameter smaller larger
Physical handling easier harder
Cost per foot less more
If one panel is in the shade: the whole string produces less power the other panels are unaffected

The device you use to convert your panels’ power will determine your wiring arrangement, or vice versa.

Direct Solar-to-Grid Inverters

Most high power grid tie inverters (for solar systems) will require many series connections of solar panels. If you look at the input specifications for the first two devices listed at the top, they require 120-400 VDC.

You’d need 25 * 12 Vpm solar panels in series to make 300V. Or, 5 * 60 Vpm panels. Notice how much current these inverters can handle, about 20A. They generally don’t need a lot of current at that high of a voltage.

Charge Controllers

Most high power charge controllers will require more parallel connections of solar panels. If you look at the input specifications of the last two devices listed at the top, they’re good for 45 or 80 Amps DC.

You’d need 6 * 10 Ipm solar panels in parallel to make 60 Amps. Or, 2 * 30 Ipm panels. These charge controllers can still handle up to 150 Voc, but they’re designed to work with higher current. They generally don’t need higher voltage like solar-to-grid tie inverters. But keep in mind that the voltage should be higher than the voltage of your battery bank.

A close look at Inverloch

February 24, 2010

I understand that a writer/artist has free reign to make a story any way they choose, especially if it’s for themselves. But as an outside reader, it’s no fun to vomit up something that tasted so good.

I suppose you could say my article has plot spoilers, but I think it’s more fitting to say my article is a plot warning. I suppose you could also say my view is “skewed” by my Christianity, but this is way beyond me: “At the end of the story, there is a main plot-twist that most fans of the comic hated” (WikiFur). The ending is hardly a plot twist as it is a plot train wreck.

My First Read of a Graphic Novel

Inverloch was my first time to read a graphic novel. To my dismay, it might be the worst. I’ve seen a lot of movies and played a few games. I admit that I haven’t read many regular novels, but I don’t think anything has completely let me down as much as Inverloch.

I don’t doubt that some people liked or even loved the story. Maybe even you figured it out before the end and still enjoyed it. If so, you’re probably missing a big part of the picture concerning prejudice and racial segregation.

I like the style and layout. I like the few numbers of panels per page and the backgrounds. I love the characters (or I did). But being deceived from the very beginning and learning the truth at the end really breaks the scales. Learning the truth is a good thing, but it hurts to learn the basis of the story is built on a lie.

The Buildup

Official Description

Let’s read the description straight from the site (also see description on Kidjutsu):

“The story of Inverloch centers around a young man named Acheron, from a horned wolf-like race called the da’kor. After a chance encounter with an elf, he finds himself setting out on a seemingly innocent mission - that of trying to locate Kayn’dar, another elf who has been missing for the past twelve years.

Meeting up with new friends and companions along the way, he quickly begins to learn that the world is not quite the peaceful place he believed it to be - embroiled with prejudice, racial segregation, and hidden danger. And the truth behind Kayn’dar’s disappearance is something none of the party would ever expect…”

Everything the novel seems to build up is essentially thrown out or never existed in the first place. Notice it mentions prejudice and racial segregation. This is built on early in the story.

Indicators of Prejudice and Racial Segregation

Here are a few excerpts (try to follow the context):
  • “We have something on an undeserved reputation…” (Ch. 1, p. 9, panel 3)
  • “Oh! It’s just a cute forest animal.” later followed by “But da’kor… they’re horrid and vicious monsters.” (Ch. 1, p. 25, panel 1 (&3) and p. 26, panel 3)
  • “You’re… not what I expected a da’kor to be like. I mean no offence, but everyone says how brutish and ill-tempered they are.” (Ch. 2, p. 8, panel 1&2)
  • “Humans and elves hate us, fear us, despise us. All that does is breed the same feelings from the da’kor toward everyone else in return. …” (Ch. 2, p. 19, panel 1 (&3))
  • “Shiara… I can’t change what I am…” (Ch. 2, p. 22, panel 3)
  • “Naturally, the elves decided to blame the da’kor.” (Ch. 3, p. 8, panel 3)

What makes a person?

A far as I understand, a person’s personality makes them… them, their soul, their spirit. … You’re lead to believe Acheron is a da’kor (Ch. 1, p. 9). The reality is, the Acheron you’re introduced to is Kayn’dar, an elf in a da’kor’s body (Ch. 24, p. 11±1). The real Acheron at this time is actually a da’kor in an elf’s body, Kayn’dar’s body.

Acheron’s Mother and the Other Da’kor

Did Acheron’s mother really know all along?

It’s strange that Acheron’s mother herself seems oblivious that “Acheron” is actually Kayn’dar, leading us into complete deception (Ch. 2, p. 3). She also says “You have such a kind heart, Acheron,” (Ch. 3, p. 12, panel 5), but supposedly she knows he’s not really his son. Is she trying to continue Kayn’dar’s deception?

Acheron’s mother also says “There never was or will be any other da’kor like you,” (Ch. 3, p. 13, panel 2). Well, that’s certainly true of the body anyway, the only da’kor attribute, (and maybe some memories retained by the real Acheron). But the actual person isn’t a da’kor, it’s an elf who’s name is Kayn’dar.

Where did her hopes lie?

Consider that if Acheron’s mother did indeed praise “Acheron” knowing he was Kayn’dar, was her faith in the elves? It certainly seems like it (Ch. 24, p. 22, panel 4). I don’t think it could be said that she had any faith or hope in her own kind, the da’kor.

Did she regard her real son?

We later see her “lament” her son’s brutal death: “He was always such a foolish boy…” (Ch. 24, p. 23, panel 1). The supposed irrevocable love between a mother and her child is severed. She simply dismisses her authentic son as a fool without pity. She was even presented with options (Ch. 3, p. 15), but didn’t seem to care. Even Varden sheds a few tears, for his father (Ch. 11, p. 30 & 31).

So, the elves gain leverage through Kayn’dar who is rightfully praised as Acheron’s mother admits, “I was expecting to raise a rude and conceited child, but…” (Ch. 24, p. 23, panel 2-4). Unfortunately, this way by which the da’kor could change their minds about elves, is limited to Acheron’s mother and a select few da’kor. It’s interesting to note that these da’kor initially did this to save their own race (Ch. 24, p. 23 & 24).

Acheron’s mother seems to care about the da’kor as a whole (Ch. 24, p. 24), but it seems her son was just one of the numbers, nothing special.


Why was Acheron foolish in the first place? … I’ll let the subtitle infer what you probably thought I had in mind. However, it doesn’t seem that Acheron’s childhood was really that bad (Ch. 2, p. 13). This brings into question whether the author actually knew which direction she wanted to go.

Is there hope for the da’kor?

Maybe if the da’kor, even a few, changed themselves and stopped killing humans (Ch. 1, p. 12), they wouldn’t loose their numbers to humans (Ch. 24, p. 24). What better example could be set than one willing to risk life and limb to save one of another race, in public? Since “Acheron” traveled, his quest became known, his reputation was being built (Ch. 5, p. 24, Ch. 8, p. 19-22, Ch. 9, p. 20).

What a lesson it would be for those of other races (along with the da’kor themselves) to learn what this “da’kor” did (or could have done) to save the elves, an act of selflessness. Acheron could have corrected a misdeed of his own people. But when it’s discovered that “Acheron” is an elf, (essentially reflecting an elven personality), imagine the mindset of all the elves who are prejudice, not Kayn’dar. I can almost hear some conclude, continuing the stereotypes against themselves:
  • “Oh, Acheron was really an elf. It all makes sense now. No wonder he was so kind.”
  • “Acheron was really an elf? The world needs to know he wasn’t really a dreadful da’kor.”
  • “Does Kayn’dar really think there’s hope for the real da’kor? He never really was one of them.”

What about the author?

The one thing that really seems confounded is the real Acheron himself, living in a elven body, calling himself Silvah. He didn’t even seem to recognize his own body. This seems to be vaguely hinted (Ch. 18, p. 7-10, p. 24; Ch. 20, p. 19), but it also enables the author to take an undecided direction, even up to the end of chapter 23. But even given that, why would he trust Neirenn, who he knows to be against (or at least suspect) him, to shout “Behind you!” essentially causing him to destroy his own body (Ch. 23, p. 23 & 24)?

Sarah Ellerton supposedly wrote the script before the drawing process. She said in an interview with Janet Houck, “The script hasn’t changed too much - the plot is basically the same…” But then she goes on to say, “The only major change I made since the first draft of the script was the ending, which was almost completely rewritten just before I started drawing.” (Inverloch’s Sarah Ellerton Tells All)

As far as I understand, usually the ending determines the conclusion of the whole plot. While most of the original script may be essentially the same, it’s meaning can change dramatically. It’s hard to rewrite the end without considering the whole. But then you’re left to wonder, what was the original ending? We may never know.

It’s interesting to note that her general inspiration seems to stem from Disney animation features. She also says, “I love simple, light-hearted fantasy stories more than brooding war-centered epics,” (Inverloch’s Sarah Ellerton Tells All). I don’t know about everyone else, but when I discovered “Acheron” wasn’t Acheron at all and his own mother lacked pity for the death of her own son, my heart fell into a pit (so-to-speak).

Driving a Wedge

The resolution reached doesn’t seem to stop or even slow the continuing prejudice and racial segregation against the da’kor or the elves. Unfortunately, it seems to compound it. In essence, the conclusion of the novel gives me no good reason to necessarily dispute the prejudice associated with the da’kor initially introduced. It’s so far from being resolved, it actually gives me a basis for it (back at ground zero).

Acheron’s father’s generation didn’t seem to change (apart from Acheron’s mother and a few others). Acheron or his brother showed no change. Is there any example for the new generation? … I think I’ll steer clear of the da’kor knowing there’s none like Kayn’dar, the elf.

My Concluding Thoughts

I’d rather Acheron had been a martyr that was the catalyst to restoring “Kayn’dar’s” memory (as it seemed) than continue the reputation of his race as an untrusted people (as in Inverloch’s reality). … This would mean a change of Neirenn’s character as initially expected (Ch. 10, p. 28).

But aye, it’s a cruel world now innit? Why else would the elf and human who embarked on Kayn’dar’s journey go steady to a life of crime (Ch. 25, p. 25)? Who’s to say Acheron’s mother isn’t really a human?

I will soon read Batman: The Dark Night Returns and Kingdom Come as part of my sci-fi & fantasy literature class. I doubt my experience will be at all bad compared to Inverloch. I know that I have also disappointed readers by discontinuing my own Set Apart series, but I didn’t destroy what I planned to build up. I admit my failure to plan properly.

Choosing a charge controller

February 21, 2010

Solar panels and wind generators produce electricity, but their output varies widely based on the available sun or wind speed. Therefore there is a need to convert that output to something a little more consistent using a charge controller.

Do I need a charge controller?

Generally, you will not need a charge controller if you simply plan to sell power back to the electric utility company. You will need a charge controller if you plan to:
  • use batteries
  • use an OutBack Power System (which requires batteries)
  • use solar and wind power in the same system
  • go off-grid, independent from utility power (usually a mobile or remote home)
  • have a backup power source during outages (which requires batteries)
  • power a portable inverter or otherwise large device (requiring a significant battery source)

What kind do I need?

There are almost as many different types of charge controllers out there as there are solar panels. However they all essentially do the same thing, which is charge batteries. The most common battery type used is sealed lead acid (SLA) or gel lead acid, which is very similar to SLA. Click here to see more.

If you plan to use wind generators, the charge controller is usually built into the unit or comes with it separately. Therefore, you don’t need to worry about choosing a charge controller unless you plan to make your own wind generator.

What you need is largely based on what you plan to power and how often you plan to use it. In my article about choosing solar panels I discussed calculating power:
  • V (Volts) * A (current in Amps) = Power (Watts)
Keep in mind that the sun is not always shining and you’re probably not always using power. I will discuss how you can calculate your specific needs in a later article. There is a little math involved.

How do I connect it?

Connecting a charge controller is fairly simple. There are usually two things to connect, sometimes three. You will always have to connect the solar panel(s) and the batteries. The labeling is fairly explicit. Consider these and look at the pictures: Notice the Prostar 15 had third thing called “load.” A load is what you plan to power. Instead of connecting something directly to the battery, the charge controller should turn off the load when the battery runs low. Most inverters do this automatically.

Don’t be intimidated by the FLEXmax. It also has two simple connections, PV +/- and Bat +/-, it just requires larger wire. The FLEXmax is generally used in larger solar systems.

Wiring details should be outlined in the instruction manual for your specific charge controller. I’ll try to cover wiring in more depth at a later time.

Will incandescent lights die?

February 20, 2010

There’s been a lot of advancement in the field of lighting, particularly solid state lighting with LEDs, but that doesn’t necessarily mean incandescent bulbs will phase out. Consider that they were probably conceived as a way to replace candles, and they excel at that, (heat and light). Also, candles haven’t phased out.

Today’s Applications

Incandescent lights still have a place in the modern world, but not necessarily as a lighting source. They produce light, but most of all, they produce heat. Here are some modern day applications:

Give Me Heat!

Heat lamps, work light, and Scentsy warmer It’s been said that only 5% of the energy going into incandescent light bulbs results in light. 95% of that energy results in heat. I see no reason to refute this, they get hot! Now that’s efficient… for heat production.

Other places where people would prefer incandescent bulbs over the newer bulbs would be in cold locations or climates. If you move from Texas to a northern state, you’d probably prefer more heat. If you’re working outside on a cold winter day, those hot halogen work lights feel pretty good.

What about the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007?

Some might be concerned about the federal bill that phases out incandescent light bulbs between 40 and 150 watts. (See Subtitle B, Sec. 321 in the full text.) However, there seems to be enough exceptions that a simple relabeling could probably circumvent such restrictions. Just because “incandescent light bulbs” may not be sold doesn’t mean “heat bulbs” can’t be sold.

Then there’s the burning question of “who is the government to dictate what bulbs I can’t use?” I find it particularly disturbing that the government would do this (among many other things). But, I look forward to LEDs being used in lighting applications, because you get more light per watt of energy.

Reusing the CFL circuit base

February 18, 2010

For you hobbyists out there wanting to reuse the parts from a burnt out CLF (compact florescent light), there are some ways to reuse the circuit in the base. With a few steps I’ll show you how to wire up a small florescent light to take it’s place.

Know what Failed

CLF lamps may fail because the filament in the bulb burns out, just like regular incandescent bulbs. If this is the case, the bulb doesn’t produce any light. If the CLF filaments at the base light up, but the rest of the bulb doesn’t, the electronics failed. This means you could use the base of another broken CFL to repair it.

Open the Base

Open the Base First you need to get it open. Some are fairly loose and you can easily use a flat tip screwdriver to pop it open. You might have to use a hacksaw on others and then use a screwdriver. Be careful not to break the bulb.

Get to the Circuit Board

Get to the Circuit Board Once you have it open, just lift out the circuit board. Next, cut off the wires from the bulb at the circuit board. If you had to use a hacksaw, you may have to cut the wires from the bulb first and then pop out the plastic ring you sawed off.

Get a Bulb, Wire It Up

Wired and Lit You saw two wires coming from each end of the bulb, right? Now, just get a small florescent light (like one found in a modern camping lantern) and connect it the same way as the other bulb was connected. At this point you probably realize that a compact florescent light is simply a florescent light.

Turn It On

Once you have everything connected, turn it on and see if it works! Assuming your bulb is good, there shouldn’t be a problem and it should turn right on. Be careful not to shock yourself!

More Experimenting

More Experimenting Try some different types of florescent bulbs and see what works best. Try some in series. Just keep in mind that the filaments at the ends shouldn’t be brighter than the rest of the bulb. They also shouldn’t flicker. If you observe this, you may be using excessive power to light the filaments than the whole bulb requires! Try a smaller bulb.

Is it on, off, or idling and how to tell

February 17, 2010

I’m sure most of you have heard or read that some appliances still use electricity when they’re “off.” There is no doubt this is true, but how can you tell? Identifying what’s idling and what isn’t (without paying money for something like a Kill A Watt Monitor) is a good first step.

How much energy is really being wasted?

Measuring the ethernet router’s power supply An idling appliance is something that uses electricity when it’s “off.” When “off,” they could use anywhere from about 5 to 25 watts. Usually these appliances have internal clocks or settings. Unplug the appliance if you don’t care to keep time or settings you may have saved.

A disconnected cell phone charger, laptop power supply, or any external power supply not connected doesn’t need to be plugged in. Depending on how they work, they could use anywhere from 0 to 10 or more watts.

Here are the results (in watts) of some measurements I took:
  • Nokia cell phone charger (not connected):
  • Laptop power supply (not connected):
  • Ethernet router power supply (not connected):
  • Cassette deck, “standby” (it’s not labeled “off”):
  • VCR/DVD player, no clock, completely “off”:
  • Older PlayStation 2 turned “off” from the front button:
  • Older PlayStation 2 turned off from the back switch:
  • Computer, completely “off”:
  • Older VCR with clock, completely “off”:
  • A Sony stereo system with disc changer, cassette deck, and clock, completely “off”:

How can I tell if something is idling?

Common Indicators:

  • Lights or a display is still on and working
  • It hums or makes any noise when you put your ear right up to it
  • It can automatically turn itself on (as through a timing function) if it’s “off”
  • It is warm to the touch due to power dissipation

Typical Appliances that Idle when “Off”:

  • Desktop computers made after 1995 (or after ATX was introduced)
  • Laptops
  • Computer monitors and TVs
  • VCR/DVD/Blu-ray players
  • PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo, and other gaming systems
  • Satellite receivers
  • Cell phone chargers
  • Answering machines
  • Anything that has an external power supply
  • Anything that keeps time

Push-Button Switches

Another way to tell if an appliance is idling is by the power button or switch. If the power button is small and requires a gentle push with a subtle “click” or “tap” sound, it likely idles.

If the power button feels heavy duty, making a “click-cling” or a “click-clack” sound, it probably doesn’t idle. This is because these switches usually switch the wires straight from the power cord. It’s the equivalent to unplugging it. This is common in much older appliances, especially stereos and amplifiers.

Toggle Switches

If you have an appliance that has a toggle or flip switch like a power strip, it probably doesn’t idle. However, if the switch is small, thin, or light, it might use idle power.

Too Much Hype?

Another point I want to get across is don’t be too optimistic. Most idling appliances use very little electricity. Also, new power supply designs continue to increase in efficiency during idle time. Consider that a laptop or cell phone also uses idle electricity when it’s completely “off” (unless you have no battery).

Air conditioners and heaters make the meat of your electric bill, not idle power or lighting. Unplugging any one appliance will probably make a negligible difference. It’s when you have several that they have an impact.

Turning off a power strip to everything you’re not using is a good idea. Even the Smart Strip uses some idle power. If you’re still using any incandescent light bulbs, you’ve got a slightly bigger problem than idle power.

Choosing solar panels

February 16, 2010

There’s a lot of different solar panels out there, and with so many choices, it would be helpful to know what to look for when buying one. I’m going to explain some of that technical jargon. This way you can better understand how or what panels to use with a given system.

Understanding the Spec./Data Sheet

Let’s say you want to check out a specifications sheet for a solar panel, like this one or this one. As you start looking at the tables, you’ll see terms like:
  • Polycrystalline silicon (or Multi-crystalline silicon)
  • Monocrystalline silicon
  • Open Circuit Voltage (Voc)
  • Maximum Power Voltage (Vpm) (or Optimum Operating Voltage)
  • Short Circuit Current (Isc)
  • Maximum Power Current (Ipm) (or Optimum Operating Current)
If you’re viewing a solar panel product page and can’t find Voc, Vpm, Isc, and Ipm, you should be suspicious!

(As we discuss these terms, keep in mind that voltage and current measurements are usually taken under a consistent test light source. The results should be comparable to good sunlight.)

Vpm and Ipm

These are the most important aspects of the solar panel because they determine power. Both Vpm and Ipm are the ideal maximums at which the solar panel functions. Looking at Ohm’s Law, we know that:
  • Vpm * Ipm = Power (Watts)
If you multiply Vpm and Ipm and don’t get something close to the advertised wattage, you should be suspicious.

This may seem trivial and basic for some of you, but the point is that you need to know what is being advertized. What is a “12 volt” solar panel? Is it 12 Voc with about 9 Vpm? Or is it 12 Vpm with 18 Voc? I admit, it’s usually the latter, but you need to make sure.

MPPT - Maximum Power Point Tracking

Both Vpm and Ipm establish the maximum power point. When you see a charge controller or grid tie inverter, they may advertise a MPPT (maximum power point tracking) feature. All this means is it searches for Vpm and Ipm to get the most power from your solar panel(s).

Voc and Isc

Consider Voc and Isc as the opposite extremes of Vpm and Ipm. Generally, you don’t really need to worry about these. You won’t get any power output at these extremes.

Open circuit voltage, or Voc is the voltage measured when the panel isn’t connected, hence “open circuit.” Short Circuit Current, or Isc is the current (amps) measured when the panel is completely shorted, positive to negative.

Poly-crystalline vs. Mono-crystalline Silicon

This makes up the composition of the silicon used in the solar cells of a panel. Silicon is the same material that make up computer chips. You don’t really need to worry about the raw materials that make up a solar panel. But for your interest, here are some key differences:

Composition Cost Efficiency Appearance
Poly-crystalline less less usually rectangular or square without rounded corners
Mono-crystalline slightly more slightly more usually square with rounded corners

Buying a simple grid-tie solar system

February 12, 2010

If you’ve done any amount of home improvement, then setting up a simple solar system isn’t a challenge. However, it would be good to know a few basics and what parts you need.

Please keep in mind you may have to contact your power company to learn specific code requirements. Where I live, our house wasn’t required to be wired to code; therefore I simply discuss what will work from a technical standpoint.

Jump in Head First

If you want to jump right in and buy a simple low cost package that outlines all the details, here they are:
There are probably more out there, but this remains constant for a simple low cost package: small inverter, few (or one) solar panels. Note in particular the micro inverter, which I will discuss details in another article.

How These Systems Work

These systems are very simple. Think of it as battery charger working in reverse, except the battery is the solar panel. A solar panel is connected to the inverter, which is connected to your breaker box. The inverter is “charging” your house using the solar panel “battery.”

If you’re familiar with inverters used in cars for laptops, they are very similar. However, there is a serious difference between a grid tie inverter, and a basic inverter. A grid tie inverter synchronizes with the frequency (60Hz) and phase of the voltage from the power company. (Think of it as two people flipping a switch at the same time, in the same direction.)

Buying Parts Separately

The essential parts you need for a simple grid tie system is a solar panel and an inverter. You need to consider both items at once for a complete working system.


The inverter is what converts the input VDC (voltage, direct current) from the solar panel to the output VAC (voltage, alternating current) to your home. You need to consider voltage, both input and output. This will determine the voltage of your solar panel and how to connect it in your breaker box.

Good inverters can work with a range of voltage input, like 10-30 volts DC or 40-60 volts DC. Output voltage is usually ~120VAC, ~240VAC, or ~208VAC. You need not worry about the last one, it’s for commercial three phase power systems. Check out my article Is solar power really affordable? for additional information.

Power Source

Solar panels come in lots of flavors and output voltages vary widely. (See my article about choosing solar panels for details.) Here’s a list with some common voltages according to open circuit voltage (Voc) and optimum operating voltage (Vmp):
  • ~18Voc (12Vmp)
  • ~36Voc (28Vmp)
  • ~58Voc (47Vmp)
Alternately, you could use a wind generator. Typical voltages are:
  • 12V
  • 24V
  • 48V


As for mounting hardware, you could use angle iron or angle aluminum usually available at a local hardware store, Lowe’s, or Home Depot. Wood or angle brackets are other options, but I recommend against duct tape.

If you go with a wind generator, tower kits are usually sold separately. You may also have to buy galvanized steel pipe for a guy-wire tower kit. See some examples here.

Putting Everything Together

After you’ve got the parts, all there is left to do is wire it and mount it. With such a simple system, all you have to do is connect the solar panel to the inverter. Afterward, you connect the inverter to your breaker box or just plug it in a standard household outlet. I’ll discuss wiring details in another article.

Bible Articles?

January 13, 2010

Many people may be confused why Bible lessons exists on my site which primarily functions as a portfolio. I should be showing and demonstrating what I do and not what I believe or feel, right? Well, it certainly isn’t about how I feel (2 Kings 5:9-11, Jeremiah 17:9), and I believe it dominantly because of its credibility. However, it is important to note that it is indeed what I do. It takes priority. This is not to say that I wish to contend with anyone or force the truths which I affirm upon anyone.

I haven’t contributed very many articles because there is so much reliable information already out there that’s openly available if you know where to find it. Apologetics Press is a good place to start.

A Review of Disney’s Bolt

November 30, 2008

I went to see Disney’s Bolt yesterday (Nov. 29, 2008), and I must say, it seems to be truly enlightening. I just had to write a review for it (plus it doubled as part of a college assignment). If you haven’t seen Disney’s Bolt, I encourage you to do so. As a warning, this article will be a total movie spoiler if you haven’t already seen it, and it doesn’t function as a complete summary.

There is nothing like the opposites of the optimistic idealist and pessimistic realist coming together. Bolt the dog, the optimistic idealist, had been raised and pampered to think he is a particularly special special dog with extraordinary powers that prevail against anything (see “The Chase”), while he is really a TV star. Mittens the cat, the pessimistic realist, had been raised in perhaps an average domestic setting, declawed, and later abandoned to fend for herself, though at the expense of others.1 Both have preconceived ideas of what is and should be. Bolt believes everything will work out for the best and come to light while Mittens believes nothing can possibly be as good as it seems or sounds and things only seem to become worse.

Mittens initially seems to put more emphasis on what she doesn’t have, her claws, and clearly has a great yearning for what she has lost. This seems to establish her pessimistic view. (I fully suspect her name isn’t coincidence either.) She even goes to the degree of deceiving others as having claws when she doesn’t, just as Bolt with his powers, but she is knowledgeable whereas he is ignorant. Bolt initially seems to put more emphasis on what he thinks he has, his powers, and that no harm can come to him. This seems to establish his optimistic view, though he is under delusion. However, this is not to say that Mittens isn’t under a delusion. Though she can see and observe what really is, she is confined to believe nothing can get better as mentioned earlier.

The synthesis of these characters is what seems to manifest a true ideal. I’m inclined to say there is a great need for optimistic realists that strive toward the ideal. I would think that optimistic idealists striving toward the ideal would get stuck in the mode of thinking there is a definitive for something where there is not, where the optimistic realists would perhaps better seek out and know what is definitive and stay loose on what is not. The only difference I can see between a pessimistic idealist and pessimistic realist is one thinks there’s an ideal while the other doesn’t, but both would think such a thing is unattainable.

But when does this synthesis take place for a realist to seek for the ideal and the idealist to know what is real? Looking the optimistic idealist and the pessimistic realist in particular, it seems both have to reach rock bottom and reach a revelation. Before the “Animal Rescue” scene, Bolt seems to reach his rock bottom when he realizes the cage of an animal control truck was opened for him by Rhino the hamster, as opposed to him bursting it open as he initially supposed. Seeing his black bolt symbol rub off is another shocker to him as he receives his reality check, he really is a TV star who never knew he was a TV star. In the “Animal Rescue” scene, we see Mittens in her rock bottom state in the cage of the shelter, as she seems to be contemplating her gloom and doom without reflecting on any good that has happened to her. She reaches her revelation when Bolt comes to save her. Before this point, Mittens seemed to have a purpose of bringing Bolt’s optimistic views to a crashing halt. Likewise, Bolt tried to maintain his highly unrealistic views of the world.

It seems that a bit more people seem to be pessimistic and focus on the bad things that have happened in their lifetime. Everyone seems to have their own sob stories to tell, but what about smile stories?

Toward the end of the movie, we see the need for the one in the optimistic moment to build up the other in a pessimistic moment.2 Bolt had to be built up by Rhino before he felt able to save Mittens. Mittens likewise had to be built up by Rhino before she would follow with Bolt going back to Penny. Context is also very important. Without proper context, messages can often be distorted and could be spread in such a distorted state. As Bolt comes to Penny, his “person,” Penny is acting on a set and embraces Bolt’s replacement. He is left with the impression that what Mittens has asserted to always be true, that love is temporary, really is true. However, Mittens is there to observe the whole context, to see that after Penny’s synthetic embrace, she expresses her desire for Bolt to return. Mittens relays this observation to Bolt, and an optimistic grasp on reality is established.

I throughly enjoyed this movie. (I observed a user comment found on IMDB titled “Bolt brings back true Disney.” I am inclined to believe so, but not based on the user’s expounding of the CGI quality.) Despite my expounding and dissecting of this movie, I must say, it seemed to have revived me as a child and is filled with social redeeming value. It seems to remind me of my favorite movie as a kid, Cats Don’t Dance, as the characters are truly something to embrace. The only thing I can’t understand is why Mittens is third on the cast list as opposed to second. (Okay, maybe I do know, but that doesn’t seem a good enough reason for me.) Nevertheless, it seems there is some revival in Disney, or Disney·PIXAR anyway, in looking through their recent CGI movies such as Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille, and WALL·E. Memorable stories and characters seem to be coming back.

1 - Mittens is first introduced with a concern for lack food. This reminds me of Matthew 6:25-34/Luke 12:22-34, illustrating that the Christian need not worry over such things.
2 - As a member of Christ’s church, is is important to build up one another properly according to 1 Corinthians 3:9-17, 1 Thessalonians 5:11, et al.

About Instruments

November 30, 2008

For everything Christ’s church does in worship, it does only as authorized by God in the New Testament. Often the church is accused of not believing the Old Testament, however, “whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope,” Rom. 15:4, and “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. … … … In that He says, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away,” Heb. 8:7-13. Certainly we believe the Old Testament, because without it, how would those of the first century be able to identify Jesus as the Christ?

What is commanded?

We make music as commanded in Eph. 5:15-21 and Col. 3:16-17 (cf. Jam. 5:13, Acts 16:25). Notice that is says “one another,” indicating everyone is to participate in the singing. It is for this reason we have no choir with certain select individuals. Of course there may be those physically unable to sing, nevertheless, they can still make melody in their heart. As for instruments, since this deviates from what God has specified, this is not practiced by the church. … Now, to answer why.

Can we Justify Instruments?

Many people will turn to Psalms to justify the use of instruments, but this was a command to the Jews under the OT. People will also say the Bible “doesn’t say not to,” but O, the gray hair one could grow by reading a list of “Though shalt not,” and O the things one could justify. People often go to the OT to justify things such as tithing and instruments in the worship, but why not other OT commands such as sacrifice, burning incense, the feasts, and stoning those found working on the Sabbath? This is nothing new, however, as those who had been under the OT law of Moses, when the NT arrived, tried to apply circumcision to those in the NT (Acts 15), which would be an example of someone trying to add to God’s word. Later, Paul made a declaration to those trying to obey things in Moses’ law in Gal. 5:1-6.

Look at Old Testament Examples

Looking at Cain and Abel before Moses as an example for our learning, we read in Heb. 11:4 (cf. Gen. 4:1-5) that “… Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice ….” Both made offerings, but only Abel’s was accepted. Why? Because Abel offered it by faith, and “… faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” Rom. 10:14-17. From this we can infer there was a command by God to sacrifice. Well, one could sacrifice just about anything, including children which God had not commanded (Jer. 32:35, et al). Since Abel did so according to the faith which came through the hearing of God’s word, and his sacrifice was accepted, we can conclude that God specified “the firstborn of his flock and of their fat” as opposed to “the fruit of the ground.” So God likely didn’t say to not offer the fruit of the ground, but specified the firstborn of one’s flock and of their fat. Certainly Cain was wanting to serve God just as sincerely as Paul (Acts 26:9-11), but he deviated from God’s word. In king Saul’s situation, “…to obey is better than sacrifice…,” 1 Sam. 15:22.

Another OT example of deviating from God’s word is from Nadab and Abihu in Lev. 10:1-3. What made the fire profane, or unauthorized? The fire needed to be holy and come from the altar according to Ex. 30:22-30 and Lev. 16:12-13, though God did not say it couldn’t come elsewhere, yet we see the result.

Look at the Greek

There is no small dissension among the use of instruments being used in the worship. Nevertheless, despite the examples written for our learning in the OT, people continue to try justifying instruments by saying the Greek word for psalm, psallo, means to sing with instruments, but it also can mean simply to sing. (Greek interlinear: Eph. 5, Col. 5, Jam. 5, Acts 16) However, what most people tend to overlook is how words change over time. Initially in the ancient Greek during the first century, when the NT was written, the word was used almost exclusively for vocal singing. (In the same way, the Greek word for wine can be either alcoholic or non-alcoholic, but of course people try to justify their drinking by the latter.) An example from today–two incompatible phrases through a short time span of 50- years:

1950s: “I’m gay.”
2000s: “I’m gay.”

Besides this, the actual command found in Eph. 5:15-21 and Col. 3:16-17 is adontes, which is simply “to sing.” But from Eph. 5:15-21, without even looking at the Greek, it says “speaking” in songs. There is also no example of instruments in the early church. According to history, instruments were first introduced by men centuries later after the establishment of the church in Acts 2. If God had asked just for music, any music would likely be acceptable, but He specified singing. If God had asked the Patriarchs just for sacrifice, any sacrifice would likely be acceptable, but He obviously must’ve specified the firstborn of one’s flock.

How is it condemned?

Concerning instruments in the worship, the Bible does not directly condemn it nor does it make mention of then in the New Testament. However, there are many things the Bible does not condemn in word, but in principle. In like manner, the Bible does not directly condemn the concept of a select few people partaking of the cup of grape juice mixed with apple juice, meeting in a bar for fellowship, or even arson. What is the real problem though? Many people are not satisfied with what God has specified (concerning many things) and instead want to do what God has not commanded (Leviticus 10:1, Deuteronomy 18:15-22). Rather than deny themselves (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23) and follow the OT principles written for our learning, man would rather amend or remove (to something that is already perfect and cannot be improved) what they feel appropriate. If I think something is okay, how does this justify my thinking unless I compare it to Scripture, as it has been said “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

Who are we trying to please?

The question is, are we seeking to please God or ourselves, or are we singing to God or ourselves? If we were indeed seeking to please God, we would simply do as he has commanded without trying to manipulate around what has been specified. Truly actions speak louder than words, and if one seeks to amend what is already specified and perfect concerning any issue, are they not showing a dissatisfaction to that which is perfect? Indeed, throughout the Bible, man is often rejecting that which is perfect, even rejecting Christ, the chief cornerstone (Psalm 118:22, 1 Peter 2:4-8, et al.). … Along with this, there is a sharp contrast between the old and new testaments concerning instruments. Had the idea of instruments in the worship been of any virtue, surely those from the OT covenant (who were commanded in many numerous ways to use instruments in the OT in Psalms) could take over their instruments into the NT covenant. Are not instruments merely part of that which has passed away?

Faith consists of many things as elaborated in the NT (and OT examples), but some people say it’s “faith only” wanting to throw out the fidelity aspect and also despite being directly told it’s not faith only (James 2:24, cf. Galatians 5:6). Yet when the Bible only specifies singing, never mentioning or implying an instrument of any kind in the worship and no example, instruments are okay and it’s not “singing only.” Clearly men are looking for their own way seeking the things that work in their favor which indeed result in the confusion of many. The Bible does not say “faith only” in the same way it doesn’t say “singing only,” so why is it not faith only, but it is singing only? Faith is elaborated to include many things (dissatisfying men who don’t want all those extra things) and singing is simply left at singing (dissatisfying men who do want all those extra things).

What if it was spelled out?

Now suppose if God did specify “singing only”. Would this stop men from trying to use an instrument? Certainly not. Man throughout history choose to directly disobey God. In 1 Samuel 15:1-5 Saul was commanded to “go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them.” Certainly this is easy enough to understand, “destroy all that they have,” nevertheless God elaborated further by saying “But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” But what happened in verse 8 and 9? “But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them.” Despite an elaborated direct command from God, Saul, set up as king by God for Israel, still disobeyed God, and man likewise does it all around today. … I submit to you that if God had directly forbidden instruments in worship, man would still use them, though certainly not as many.

How far would you go?

Now suppose if we take the side that most do and say instruments are okay. Would there be any problem with using a Solid State Tesla Coil (SSTC)? Why of course not, yet why do I have a funny feeling that there would be objections from the farthest parts of the globe-“That’s going too far!,” “That’s crazy!” But if instruments are permitted since they are not forbidden, who is man to say this one shouldn’t be used to glorify God? Does not lightning remind someone of the power of God, so how much more this particular instrument? No, the problem is people go too far starting with any instrument, simply going beyond what is written (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:6). … I submit to you that if God had elaborated a specific list of instruments to be used in NT worship to Him, man would want to take some out and put others in, possibly including an SSTC.

In fact, as far as the imagination of man can go, it would not surprise me to actually see an SSTC used in the worship by some denomination somewhere within my lifetime. This would not surprise me because according to some information I found, “In a message delivered in St. Louis on April 22nd, [1969,] Methodist Bishop James Thomas of Des Moines, Iowa advocated the use of hamburgers and a soft drink for the Lord’s supper,” (Searching the Scriptures, Vol. X, July, 1969, No. 7, page 4).

The concept of an earthly headquarters could also be one of those things devised by men since it is not mentioned in the Bible, but why is it to be excluded? Because Christ has already been specified as the divine head. God did not elaborate on any headquarters run by men, but it isn’t directly condemned by the Bible and it is not mentioned at all. I have heard of the concept of someone people juggling in praise to God. Why not burn incense to God? What is the result of such manipulative reasoning and compromises? I would have to say one result is the “United Church of Christ,” who go as far as advocating homosexuality.

Consider the “law of exclusion”

If someone orders “a salad” from a restaurant menu, certainly any kind would be acceptable. Salads take very many forms. If someone orders a fish salad, then should they expect to see it along with chicken? Salad with chicken is very popular, nevertheless, why would someone have to specify fish only? The law of exclusion necessitates fish only. But what of this so-called “law of exclusion?” Someone makes the argument “the Bible does not tell me to put on clothes when I go to church. God must therefore want us to worship in the nude,” (despite Matthew 6:25-34/Luke 12:22-34). It also doesn’t mention microphones or PA systems. In the same way, the Bible doesn’t say to worship with air, but then no form of music could exist. So when does this “law of exclusion” take effect? It takes effect when something in a category has already been mentioned. Thus specifying “music” for praise would exclude juggling, dancing, etc., etc. … An interior designer specifying “lights” could include neon, florescent, incandescent, and LEDs. Specifying “lights of florescences and diodes” would exclude neon and incandescent. Specifying “lights of incandescents” would exclude other lighting types. Several methods exist for powering all these lighting types, some with more special needs than others, but if they do not change the lighting type, it doesn’t matter because a method for powering has not been mentioned.

Let’s say a conductor has told certain individuals to sing and other individuals to play specified instruments. If one of his singers, who was not told singing only, got out a cymbal and clashed at high notes, would the conductor not be confused? Are they justified in this? Likewise if someone on a bass guitar started singing, would this not confuse the conductor?

Consider Historical Context

What about the importance of historical context? Since we’ve already looked at the historical context of instruments in the worship, let’s look at the Lord’s supper. In partaking of the cup, “fruit of the vine” is specified, (Matthew 26:27-29, Mark 14:23-25, Luke 22:17-20), so why would this exclude cucumber juice or passion juice? They are under that category, but even today “fruit of the vine” is clearly understood to be grape juice. Now, white grape or purple grape? Most humans can actually reason well enough to understand and narrow down that the common purple grape would best represent Christ’s blood because of it’s red color, yet they try to broaden singing to include many more things, and not just instruments.

Why did God specify singing?

Okay, so why did God specify singing? Who am I to answer? However, I think a great part lies in the fact that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks,” (Matthew 12:33-37, cf. Matthew 15:17-20, Luke 6:43-45). “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name,” (Hebrews 13:15). It is for all the reasons above why we do not use instruments in worship to God.

What is Time?

August 27, 2007

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
1 To everything there is a season,

A time for every purpose under heaven:
2 A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
3 A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
4 A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
7 A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
8 A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace.

What is time? Time is defined in the dictionary as “A nonspatial continuum in which events occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future” (thefreedictionary.com) Time plays an important role in society today. We constantly watch it to determine what our next move will be. We will plan for the day, plan for the week, plan for the month, plan for the year, maybe even plan for the decade. But is that our limit? Shouldn’t we also plan for the century? What about the millennium? You might say, “that’s a long time,” or “I don’t have that kind of time,” which brings me to my first point: time is short.

Psalm 39:4-6
4 “LORD, make me to know my end,
And what is the measure of my days,
That I may know how frail I am.
5 Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my age is as nothing before You;
Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Selah
6 Surely every man walks about like a shadow;
Surely they busy themselves in vain;
He heaps up riches,
And does not know who will gather them.

What can we conclude from this? First of all, life is short. Whether it’s tomorrow or thirty years from now, we’re all going to die. But is that it? Is time gone? Oh no, but for now look at verse 6. “Surely they busy themselves in vain.” What exactly do we accomplish on this earth under the sun? I’ll try to give an example. How long did it take man to develop the light bulb? … For those of you who didn’t answer, you got it right. Why? Because when Edison started 129 years ago, the light bulb had been under development starting as a flame under glass, and is still under development today. The device itself is limited by time. Edison tried many things to use as a filament lasting only a few seconds. Today, light bulbs can last several thousand hours and some even years of continuous use, but is that long enough? We busy ourselves in vain because our work is limited by time, among other things. Could we develop a light bulb that lasts a thousand years? Probably so. Would it be vain? Certainly.

Ecclesiastes 1:8-11
8 All things are full of labor;
Man cannot express it.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
Nor the ear filled with hearing.
9 That which has been is what will be,
That which is done is what will be done,
And there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which it may be said,

“See, this is new”?
It has already been in ancient times before us.
11 There is no remembrance of former things,
Nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come
By those who will come after.

So, even if we can make it last longer, it’s time is still short. The wheel is another example. In today’s age there is something called a tweel in development. It cannot be deflated, but will it last forever? No, it cannot. Time is short. Humans work to find ways to live longer. What if we lived to be 700 years old again?

Genesis 5:27
So all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years; and he died.

And he died. Time will catch up.

James 4:13-17
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” 16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

If you make a life goal to do something, no only will you probably not quite achieve it in the first place, but it will be short lived. In my personal experience, I look and back and ask ‘why did I do that?,’ ‘ what purpose did it serve?’ As the preacher says, all is vanity under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:14). But, the computer is a device that can last for the most part. Many old computers can keep kicking and can do work, but why don’t they? It is because they have lost their usefulness as so many other things in the past. In museums you can find perfectly good washing boards, but as we’ve already read:

Ecclesiastes 1:11
11 Thee is no remembrance of former things,
Nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come
By those who will come after.

For the next point, not only is time short, it never ends. … You might ask ‘now wait a minute, you just said time is short.’ Let me clarify. The time that is short is the MTTF, or Mean Time To Failure, the time Ecclesiastes 3 speaks. But now I’m speaking of the very element itself, the fourth dimension as it is known. Does time stop? Sometime our watches or clocks may stop, but that’s because time caught up to them. Time is linear, it never stops. There are also some things in time that will last as long as time itself.

Psalm 9:5-7
5 You have rebuked the nations,
You have destroyed the wicked;
You have blotted out their name forever and ever.

6 O enemy, destructions are finished forever!
And you have destroyed cities;
Even their memory has perished.
7 But the LORD shall endure forever;
He has prepared His throne for judgment.

Psalm 111:2-4
2 The works of the LORD are great,
Studied by all who have pleasure in them.
3 His work is honorable and glorious,
And His righteousness endures forever.
4 He has made His wonderful works to be remembered;
The LORD is gracious and full of compassion.

Psalm 136:1+
1 Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.

Proverbs 29:14
The king who judges the poor with truth,
His throne will be established forever.

Peter concluding his second epistle wrote:

2 Peter 3:17-18
17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

So, what can we learn here. The LORD shall endure forever, along with His righteousness, His mercy, and His throne. God will nerve cease to be, He will never become unrighteous, He will always be forgiving if we repent, and He shall never be overpowered and loose His throne. Thus His glory will endure forever. What else?

Proverbs 12:19
The truthful lip shall be established forever,
But a lying tongue is but for a moment.

The truthful lip. If you always tell the truth, your credibility will endure and you can always be trusted. If you lie, things may seem to work out for a short time, but as soon as that lie is uncovered, everyone will question their trust of you, and rightfully so. The truth will last forever. Jesus’ Prayer in John 17 says this:

John 17:14-19
14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.

God’s word is truth. Let’s look into that a little more.

1 Peter 1:22-25
22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, 24 because

“All flesh is as grass,
And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
And its flower falls away,
25 But the word of the LORD endures forever.”

Hebrews 13:7-9
7 Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 9 Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.

Matthew 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33
Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

God’s word is forever and Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And Jesus is the head of the church.

Ephesians 1:22-23
22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

Ephesians 5:23
For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.

Colossians 1:18
And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

So if God’s word is truth, and Christ doesn’t change, and we must worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), then where do we get the concept of instrumental music in the worship since it isn’t found in the truth? This is bringing me to my third point, time erodes and degrades. I know many people like to go to Psalms to justify instrumental music, but as we already saw in Ecclesiastes, we see again in Hebrews:

Hebrews 8:7-13
7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. 8 Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 9 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
13 In that He says, “A new covenant, ” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

You’re an engineer and you’re told to use toggle switches for all the panels you make. The company has used toggle switches on their panels for years. You do this for years and let’s say you start thinking one day and say to yourself “This project seems more serious and needs something more. Maybe I should use a key switch to power it up. That would be much better.” So you go and speak about it with your co-workers and they agree with you, but never contact your head, your boss. Lastly, you install it. Your boss comes back to look at the project after completion. Checking it out, he asks you “What’s that key switch on the panel?” He didn’t ask for that did he. He never authorized it. It was something added years later. People do the same thing with the church. Are you going to look at your boss and say “You didn’t say I couldn’t use a key switch.” Perhaps the application requires quick access and a key switch just can’t do that. How much more so when our ultimate boss and father is God asks many “Why did you use instruments?”

Hebrews 4:12-13
12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

A discerner of the thoughts... You thought that key switch was good, but your boss discerned that key switch shouldn’t be there. Based on what? Based on what he initially instructed earlier. The word of God is a discerner. … Let’s say you have a favorite plastic cup and you drink from it when your out doing yard work. It’s full of color. After a few years later, you notice the same cup at a store, but you notice something. Going back home you notice that your cup is no longer full of color after seeing the same cup at the store. ... Time allows things to erode. It is not time itself that does the erosion, but allows everything to wonder and play and move about. If you’ve ever gotten a rock tumbler, you know you have to tumble those rocks for a long time. Then the rocks come out nice and smooth and something is added to give them a glossy look. For us this is the desired effect. We want them to look pleasing to the eye, right? We want them to be what we want instead of it’s original state. Unfortunately that’s what so many like to do with the Bible. Chip at it until it looks smooth and add something to make it pleasing.

Deuteronomy 12:32
“Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.”

Revelation 22:18-19
18 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

But the subject we’re discussing is time. Those rocks take a long time to get that way. Erosion does not happen instantly. You don’t buy a new tire and the next day it pops from wear, unless of course you abuse it that quickly. However, erosion happens faster than some might think. In todays world we hear the notion that the earth is billions of years old. The natural erosion rate for Niagara Falls before we messed with it was estimated to be 3.8 feet per year (http://www.onlineniagara.com/info/niagara-falls-erosion.htm). “The earth has a circumference of approximately 24,900 miles” (http://www.lyberty.com/encyc/articles/earth.html), that’s 131,472,000 feet. It would take 34,597,895 years to circle the earth. It’s eroded 14.4 miles (76,032 feet) (measured in Google Earth) from it’s indicated starting point. That means it can’t be any more than 20,008 years old. If it was billions of years old, it would have circled the earth several times over by now. But that can’t happen can it? Once it reaches it’s end, that’s it isn’t it. Nothing lasts forever, because time will aways be in sway. Not even the earth as we know it, because God has said:

2 Peter 3:10-13
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

But what do we need to guard from the erosion of time by the effort of the world today?

Acts 17:10-11
10 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

Matthew 5:13-16
13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

We need to make sure time does not erode our knowledge of the scriptures and our zealously for doing good. That is why we must study and renew our hope. We need to make sure that time does not burn out our spiritual light.

Titus 2:11-15
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
15 Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.

Matthew 6:22-23, Luke 11:34
22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

Time will bring us trials at some point or another. So many denominations are the result of this kind of erosion, but as we know, God’s kingdom is eternal and not bound by time. So must we also know that we will exist for eternity somewhere.

John 14:1-4
1 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

Matthew 25:31-46
31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
44 “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Don’t let the waters of the world carve a hole in your soul. Don’t let the sandy wind waste away your soul. In the passage we just read, there were some who thought they were doing good. What happened? Time and erosion. They and the world about them degraded the Bible and authority of God through time.

Matthew 16:18
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

It we stand on the rock that will never erode, the true confession that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, we cannot erode.

Ephesians 5:15-17
15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Redeeming the time. Dear friends, time is precious. So how can we can redeem the time we have lost? By “walk[ing] circumspectly, not as fools but as wise.” As wise. Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. What did he have to say?

Ecclesiastes 12:9-14
9 And moreover, because the Preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yes, he pondered and sought out and set in order many proverbs. 10 The Preacher sought to find acceptable words; and what was written was upright—words of truth. 11 The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd. 12 And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh.
13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:

Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
14 For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil.

Our bodies will certainly erode away. So... what does time not guarantee us? Death and taxes are not even certain. If the Lord came now, you would still be alive and never see death. And some people actually get away without paying taxes. What else does time not guarantee us? What about a second chance? This it my fourth and final point. Time is irreversible.

Hebrews 9:27-28
27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.

Yes, time is linear, and the judgment is certain. Remember the definition? “A nonspatial continuum in which events occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future.” Concerning mathematics, a line is defined as “a geometric figure formed by a point moving along a fixed direction and the reverse direction” (thefreedictionary.com). What does that mean for time? The reverse direction is the past, the point is the present, and the direction in which the point is moving is the future. Linear, not a circle. A circle is “A plane curve everywhere equidistant from a given fixed point, the center.” Ever heard the expression “time is money?” Well that’s not quite true. Money is circular because the same dollar you spent 20 years ago could find it’s way back to you. That gives you a second chance to spend that dollar on something else, or the same thing. But not so with time. Your age of 20 can’t come back to you to spend it in a different way.

Job 14:7-14
7 “For there is hope for a tree,
If it is cut down, that it will sprout again,
And that its tender shoots will not cease.

8 Though its root may grow old in the earth,
And its stump may die in the ground,

9 Yet at the scent of water it will bud
And bring forth branches like a plant.

10 But man dies and is laid away;
Indeed he breathes his last
And where is he?

11 As water disappears from the sea,
And a river becomes parched and dries up,

12 So man lies down and does not rise.
Till the heavens are no more,
They will not awake
Nor be roused from their sleep.

13 “Oh, that You would hide me in the grave,
That You would conceal me until Your wrath is past,
That You would appoint me a set time, and remember me!
14 If a man dies, shall he live again?
All the days of my hard service I will wait,
Till my change comes.

I encourage you to read all of Job 14 as it relates to this subject. … A line does not have a beginning or an end, just like eternity. A circle can only be so big, even if it were ten times larger than the universe, it would still only be so big. But the equation of time can be y=0, while x equals 10, 10,000, or 10 billion to the hundredth hundredth and on. … As x increases to 7, you cannot go back to 5 again and back to 7, because 7 has already been drawn. All you would be doing is confirming what has already happened, because even if you could go back to 5, you’re still going to end up at 7. And of course you can’t get to 9 without going through 8 in the same respect. … In college speech class, we learned that speech is irreversible. Speech cannot be taken away. You can not unsay something.

James 3:3-4
3 Indeed,we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 4 Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.

I encourage you also to read all of James 3 concerning the tongue. … Bits and rudders. A steering wheel would be applicable in today’s time. If you turn it at the wrong time, get into a wreck, you can’t undo it can you. You can try to fix what damage was done, but you can’t undo it. If someone dies, you can’t bring them back to life. You don’t get a second chance to steer in a different direction. … So which way is your life heading? The path you are on is shorter than you think because time is short. Your vehicle, that is you body, is deteriorating because of time. Where you’re going, time will never end because time has no end. You can’t go back and try something different in place of what you’ve already done because time is irreversible. If you’re not a member of Christ’s church, and decide not to be added to it today-not to obey the gospel, you will never again have today to decide, and time does not guarantee you tomorrow.


November 5, 2006

Is it proper to judge someone? You will encounter those that judge the concept of judging in Matthew 7:1 to mean not to judge least they be judged but is that the proper judgment?

John 7:24
Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.

1 Corinthians 1
10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you.

Judgment of what? Isn’t it immortality.

1 Corinthians 5
Immorality Must Be Judged
9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people.
10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.
11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner–not even to eat with such a person.
12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.”

Here we can see Paul asking “don’t you judge those in the church?”

Let’s take a closer look at John 7:24.
Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.

Those who might dress immodestly may look to this verse as a way out, but it simply cannot work. Do not judge what according to appearance? If we can’t judge an appearance by appearance, what can we judge? So obviously this can’t be talking about judging appearances, but one’s intangibles, spirituality, personality, thoughts, heart, etc. Besides this, what can we judge except what we can see and perceive–actions and visible deeds. God looks at the heart, but we can’t.

1 Samuel 16:7 (Choosing David for king.)
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

So, to righteously judge someone’s immodest appearance we can turn to the Bible again.

Isaiah 47:2-3
2 Take the millstones and grind meal.
Remove your veil,
Take off the skirt,
Uncover the thigh,
Pass through the rivers.
3 Your nakedness shall be uncovered,
Yes, your shame will be seen;
I will take vengeance,
And I will not arbitrate with a man.”

Matthew 5:28
But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Friends, immodesty just makes it worse. However, there are more things than just immodesty that should be judged before Great Judge makes the final judgment.

1 Corinthians 11:27-32
27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.

From this, we can conclude that people often misjudge the meaning of Matthew 7:1. Maybe you know someone who thinks that way. I encourage you to try to convince them otherwise from the Bible.


October 29, 2006

Mark 16:15-16
15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

If you don’t believe, why be baptized?

‘He who plugs it in and turns it on will be saved; but he who does not plug it in will be condemned.’

I know. You’ve probably seen this several times, but let’s illustrate this logic as a computer would.

if (believes && baptized)
spiritualStatus = saved;
spiritualStatus = condemned;

Using the AND operator (&&), both conditions must be true before the expression “ spiritualStatus = saved” is executed. If one is false, the code is not executed. Instead, the expression “ spiritualStatus = condemned” is executed. First the computer looks at the condition “believes.” If it is false, then the computer doesn’t care to look at the next condition since they must both be true. If “believes” tests true, then it will look at “baptism.” Again, both conditions must be true. The expressions in these “if statements” will never execute:

if (false && false)
spiritualStatus = saved;
if (true && false)
spiritualStatus = saved;
if (false && true)
spiritualStatus = saved;

But this will execute every time:

if (true && true)
spiritualStatus = saved;

In versus 17-18 we read of the abilities the early Christians had to prove God’s word at that time until “that which is perfect has come” (1 Corinthians 13:8-10).

1 Corinthians 13:8-10
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

What was prophesied in part? Obviously the word of God, the Bible. But now it is no longer in part but sufficient!

2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Now let’s continue on baptism.

Acts 2:37-38
37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

In verse 37 they ask “what shall we do?” To do something is to act on something, but why and for what reason were they wanting to do something? To be saved? If they had already believed in Jesus at this point, why do more if they were already saved? They had not yet repented. Peter did not say they had to believe because obviously they had already believed at this point. He said repent and be baptized. If baptism was not essential, why not say repent and believe? Well they already believed and confessed at this point, they accepted the truth that Jesus was the Son of God because they were pricked in the heart, so obviously that wasn’t enough. “Even the demons believe—and tremble!” (James 2:19).

James 2:19
You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!

Would they believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Certainly, they were terrified as we see in Matthew 8 when the swine ran off the cliff. Peter didn’t tell them to say the sinner’s prayer because no such prayer exists in Biblical truth.

Acts 2:21
“Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If this is what they had to do, why did they ask “what shall we do” later in the chapter? What about belief or repentance? We need to DO what is required of us.

Matthew 7:21-23
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

Acts 22:16
And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

Paul was baptized. How do you wash away your sins without baptism? Why wasn’t repentance mentioned? What about belief? Confession? Clearly he had already done these, but clearly also it wasn’t enough.

1 Peter 3:18-22
18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, 19 by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20 who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. 21 There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.

Is Peter trying to tells us that we’re saved by baptism? Yes! By baptism only? No!, but he does make clear that is an important step to reach salvation.

Acts 10:42-48
42 “And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. 43 To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.
Then Peter answered, 47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.

In verse 43, Peter says “whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” Is Peter contradicting what he said earlier in Acts 2? He left out repentance. He also left out confession, but he’s not contradicting himself. However, he is referring to an active and obedient belief.

I’m sure the people of Israel in Numbers 21:4-9 believed that the bronze serpent would save them, but they had to act somehow by looking at it. Let’s say you were one who had been bitten at that time. Would you believe that the bronze serpent would save you? Sure, why not, easy enough, that’s the first step. Then you would have to go to the bronze serpent no? What if you were some miles away? What if your leg was somehow disabled by the snake? What if you were bed-ridden even before the snake bit you? What if you had to cross a river? What if you got stuck in a storm? Maybe if you could see it that far away, that would be okay, but unlikely. Would you not make an effort to go to it? Certainly you would right? So you go to it, that’s the second step. Is that enough? No, now you have to look at it. What if it’s enclosed? You would have to go in and look at it right? What if you died from the poison before you got a chance to look at it? What if you were killed in an accident from some stampeding animals? What if someone moved it? So you go to look at it, this is the third and final step. You’ve been healed from the poison at this point, you will live.

So... what if? Concerning the steps of salvation, we could ‘what if’ from now till eternity, but that won’t save us. Belief is a single step. Don’t go all that way and look at the wrong serpent, or in our case, be baptized for the wrong reason.

Romans 6:1-5
1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.

If we’re baptized into Jesus’ death, but baptism is not essential, why did Jesus have to die? Certainly His blood had to be shed, but why be baptized into Hid death? So we could also be raised with Him to life eternal.

Galatians 3:26-29
26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Ephesians 5:22-24
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

Colossians 1:24
24 I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church,

Acts 20:28
Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.

If the church is the body, and Christ is the Savior His body, the church, do we not enter into that body through baptism? According to what you read in the Bible, Certainly we do, but not baptism only, it is simply the last step that so many choose to ignore. Why? Is baptism really that difficult or hard to initiate? Why not ignore repentance or confession? Belief, repentance, confession, and baptism are all required after one has heard the Gospel.

John 3:5-6
5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

In John 3:5, people will often times associate water with physical birth. If this were true, it is therefore a must to enter the kingdom of God correct? If indeed it is a must, and would be since Jesus has said thus, the unborn don’t have a chance since they have not yet been born of water. In simple conclusion, this refers to the spiritual rebirth of baptism, and thus baptism is required to enter the kingdom of God.

The Objective

October 25, 2006

By Casey Norris

As every true gamer knows, the object of a game is to stay alive by destroying all those who try to defeat you. Meanwhile you’re trying to find weapons, health packs, armor, and ammo. Keeping your character alive is the most important aspect of any game and all know the triumphant feeling you have when you take down a level 30 Boss that you’ve been working on for days. Many of you may not realize it but that game you have been playing is teaching you a life lesson. Not to kill everything that stands in your way or to go into the world expecting everyone to fight you just to prove a point but the fact that even as we sit here tonight we are using the lesson we were taught.

Eph. 6:14-17 in this chapter we learn the true point of this lesson. The Armor of God the ultimate weapon The Sword of the Spirit & the armor itself. Also let’s turn to Heb. 4:12-13 in these verses we read of the awesome power of this sword. A weapon unmatched by any modem-day man-made technology, a weapon so powerful it can cut down to your very soul so sharp it can cut to your hearts true thoughts and character. This weapon is powerful enough to cut down the mightiest of false religions to mere dust with a single swing (or verse).

How can we get this armor some may say? We who are Christians have gone halfway already by going through the steps of salvation. Hear (Rom. 10:17), Believe (Mark 16:16), Repent (Acts 2:38), Confess (Acts 8-37) be Baptized (Gal. 13:26-27), and of course live faithful (Rom 6:5-6). But this is not the end of it we must earn the armor. Going through we see that each piece of the armor stands for something as science has taught us you can’t get something from nothing and the same applies here you cannot have the belt of truth if you don’t speak truthful. Many today believe keeping a promise is the only way to be truthful but as true Christians just saying we are going to do something should be enough without making an elaborate promise.

Here we also read of the shield of faith. In our everyday lives we should know that no matter what comes up we can rely on Him to help us out. Personally I believe that faith is the hardest thing to keep in modem times with so many problems it’s very easy to give up and let the current carry you where it may but we should always try to be faithful no matter what comes up in Ph. 4:13 we se that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us no matter what the problem is and remember the more faith you have the bigger the shield and the better the defense.

In verse 15 we read of the shoes of the “preparation of the gospel of peace” think of your feet without them you wouldn’t be able to get anywhere without help they are your foundation of our body. We read in Matt 7-24-27 about the foolishness of not having a strong foundation. As we go about our daily lives we should know that our foundation is strong so that those that we study with will have a good foundation as well.

As every good policeman knows if you don’t put on a bullet proof vest you are putting your life in a very dangerous position. The same goes for us without the breastplate of righteousness our spiritual life is in grave danger. All Christians need protection when going into battle with Satan and to get that protection we need the righteousness that only god can give us (Rom. 6:17-18).

The last piece of the armor we see is the ‘helmet of salvation.’ Christ is the head of the body (Eph. 5-23) and since salvation is found only in Christ (1st Thessalonians 5:9), we know that our ‘heads’ are well protected because He is our helmet! With all bodies, the head is where the heart is. Not the blood pump, but the true heart of the body. For without the head, the body cannot survive... just as without Christ, we cannot survive eternally It says in Pr. 4:4, “He taught me also, and said unto me, let thine heart retain my words- keep my commandments, and live.” It is our minds... our hearts that retain anything that we learn and if we keep His commandments then we will ‘live’ after we have left this life.

As I stated before every gamer knows what to do to win a game. The fact though is that we right now are living a true to life boss battle with the aim being to win. Just as in games this battle will be long and hard and as our enemy begins to be defeated he will move to desperation attacks as we know no boss can be defeated without the proper weapons and armor and God in His grace and love has given us these to fight with Now all that remains is for us to use them.