Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Cage of Light - A Poem


Before and during the 2003 Northeast blackout, a massive power outage that affected 55 million people. Photo by of Todd Carlson

Cage of Light

So bright, so bright, is the city night,

Neon signs blare,

Traffic whine fills the air,

Street lamps, billboards, light light light,

So bright, this sight, never ending blight,


And dreaded Fluorescent,

Spot lights, flood lights, white, white, white,

Millions, billions, of stars in the sky

Moon shines dull,

Maybe not at all,

None here know what orbs glide by,

Millions, billions, of people walk by,

So thankless,

And oh so anxious,

None notice something’s awry,

Caged, disengaged, the night light keeps ahold,

Imprisoned in the trap

Drawn like bugs zap zap,

Who remembers the dark sky enscrolled,

Stars, mars, all cosmic luminaries old,

Their beauty only legend, 

No more eyes beckoned,

Cities constrained by hedonism’s hold,

Shake, break, shatter that house of death

Run, from light into his marvelous darkness

Look, the galaxies manifest their sharpness

Constellations forgotten steal the breath,

Awake, forsake, city light as shibboleth,

Give every town a dark sky stamp,

Exchange street lamp for head lamp,

Let darkness spread the width and breadth.

By David F. Garner

Friday, June 24, 2022

Electric Camping Stove, Is That Possible?

Have you ever wondered why there are no electric camp stoves on the market? Ok, maybe I’m alone here. But hear me out. Electric stoves are the norm in houses. How come there are no options sold for camping or backpacking? It seems to make sense on the surface. With the rising frequency of forest fires and approximately 85% of them being cause by humans, shouldn’t flame stoves be banned wherever campfires are banned? Also, wouldn’t they be cheaper to run? Electric cars are much cheaper than fossil fuel cars and camp fuel is often more expensive than gasoline. At least it is if bought in small quantities like Coleman 16 oz. propane bottles.

I decided to try an experiment. I did a search for electric camp stove and found absolutely nothing. This tells me two things. One, yep, I’m definitely the weirdo here. Two, maybe there is something preventing this coming to market. In my search I found a USB mug warmer. This seemed like a good solution to improvise a backpacking electric stove!

USB (A) Mug Warmer

My theory was that I could run the warmer off my Aukey PB-Y7 battery pack which holds 30000 mAh. I initially tried it with a standard ceramic coffee mug. I tried to heat up one cup starting at room temperature or about 70 degrees. I let it warm for 45 minutes and there was no perceptible temperature change with a finger dip test. This was my baseline test that I didn’t expect to work. You see, because they run on such low power, you need the maximum surface area of a cup possible to touch the warmer. So, a completely flat bottom cup is recommended by the instructions. A metal one will also be best as it will conduct the most heat.

On my next test I left the metal cup warming for about 1.5 hours and it only heated to 89 degrees. Why were the results so dismal if this thing is supposed to be a mug warmer? Well, it helps if you know a bit more about electronics. The surface of my mug warmer only heated to about 97 degrees. So, It will never be able to boil any amount of water, which makes it useless as a camp stove replacement.

In case you don’t know, these warmers are poorly named. They are not intended to warm your drink from room temp or at all. Rather, they are intended only to slow a hot liquid’s cooling. Most of the ones on the market plug into a standard wall outlet and so can run at up to 1800 watts, theoretically. Although I don’t think most of these mug warmers draw that much. So, you can begin to see the issue of heating water off USB(A) which only delivers 10 watts.

What if one could run off USB C? This newer generation of USB can deliver up to 100 watts of power. While this is an incredible improvement for charging a phone, how would it do at heating water? The formula for energy required to heat water looks like this.

KWH = (4.2 × L × T ) ÷ 3600.

I'll skip the math details and say that 100 watts is a big improvement over 10. USB C could theoretically heat 1 cup of water from 70 degrees F to 100 degrees F in about 3 minutes. But again, what campers want is to boil water. To boil 1 cup with 100 watts would require about 15 minutes. That still seems reasonable. I know backpackers who don’t need to boil more than 1-2 cups per meal. Obviously, most do need more. To boil 1 liter (~1 quart) would require about 1 hour.

And now you see why there are no electric backpacking stoves. One more possible solution that crossed my mind is that an electric stove could use two USB C wires. My Aukey battery bank can charge multiple devices at the same time. Therefore, it could easily provide two cords. This would mean we could heat 1 liter in about 30 minutes, theoretically. That is still unreasonable to most as even the slowest fuel stoves (think alcohol) can heat a liter in 10 minutes under ideal conditions. On top of that, my Aukey battery bank only holds 111 Wh of energy meaning it could only heat two liters max before it would be dead. At 1.3 pounds that is extremely non weight-friendly.

So, will we ever see electric camping stoves? Well, I think we have the technology available now to go all electric while car camping. You can buy portable single-eye coil stoves and single-eye induction stoves (see photos below) that work off 120-volt standard outlet. If you pair that with a Goal Zero or other camp battery bank capable of delivering 120 volts, than voila, an all-electric stove set up.

Single-eye coil stove

Single-eye induction stove

Again, these electric stoves can deliver up to 1800 watts of heating power! So, will we ever see an electric backpacking stove? I think so. With the rise of electric cars, battery technology is progressing rapidly. There are many companies now researching very promising technologies that will be capable of storing 100-500 times that of lithium-ion in the same size package. Perhaps USB E or F will be capable of delivering 1000 watts. With that much power in a heater the size of my mug warmer, you could boil 1 liter of water in 6 minutes. That would rival many of the gas stoves on the market today.

My guess is we won’t see this kind battery tech in handheld gadgets or battery banks for 10+ years. Even when these new batteries come to market, they will be very expensive. But I predict we will see the rise of electric backpacking stoves in the next couple decades. If forest fire rates continue increasing, bans on all flame stoves may force the industry to introduce such technology.  


Saturday, June 18, 2022

Why Every Church Needs A Garden


“Do you have any fresh produce?” asked the homeless young woman.

Hellen, the leader of our church’s food bank program replied, “Sorry, we are all out. We don’t get that kind of stuff in stock very often.”

“How about canned fruit?” the young woman inquired.

“No.” said Hellen, “That is usually the first thing we are out of.”

The young woman left looking a bit disappointed. I asked Hellen why we didn’t provide more fresh food at our community food bank. She told me people don’t often donate that kind of food because it is more expensive than canned or dried goods. She also explained that canned fruits and vegetables are immensely popular, so they are often the first items to run out.

The CDC has found that roughly 90 percent of Americans do not eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables for a healthy diet. That is shocking considering we live in the wealthiest country in the world! Of course, for many people that is due to unhealthy choices. But for the poor, it is more often a result of unaffordable prices and accessibility. The simple fact is that prepackaged junk food often offers the highest number of calories for the least cost. And when you are pinching pennies, calories are often the number one factor. A bag of 8 apples may cost $5 whereas a dozen donuts may cost only $3. While that seems close, one apple offers a mere 55 calories while one donut can be 300-450 calories. One donut can offer the same calories as that whole bag of apples.

Another big issue is accessibility. For those who do not own a car, getting to a grocery store or produce shop can be extremely difficult. Major grocery stores and super centers like Walmart are the norm now. These large stores are often centralized to serve several communities. It’s not a big deal to drive 5 or 10 miles if you have a car. More than 50 years ago, grocery stores tended to be smaller and within walking distance of the community they served. Large box stores have put these small stores out of business. For those without a car or driver’s license, getting groceries is a significant challenge.

Population areas where a high concentration of residents without cars live more than one mile from grocery retailers have been designated food deserts. A food desert is an area where access to healthy food is extra difficult. Fast food restaurants and convenience stores may be present. But these do not offer healthy food choices at a reasonable price. The USDA found that about 19 million Americans or 6.2 percent of the population lived in such locations in 2015.[1]The COVID-19 pandemic has only made things worse as many small grocery businesses did not survive mandated closures.

Food banks and other nonprofit community food programs help to fill this gap. But as I discovered, providing fresh or canned fruits and vegetables is challenging for them. What can be done about this? Food deserts have been a recognized problem for a few decades. One of the best solutions that has arisen are community gardens. Churches and nonprofits have helped communities hard hit by loss of local food stores to take initiative and supply their own fresh foods by growing them independently. Abandoned lots, spare space in church yards and community centers have become the grounds for a local farming revolution. People who have never grown a plant in their life are being taught to grow their own food. This movement is taking place in large and small towns across the country.

A community garden is one where the land and farming supplies are provided by a nonprofit and community members tend a small plot of the garden with voluntary labor. They get to keep a portion of the produce from their plot. Usually, their plot produces much more than they need so the extra is given to other community members. This is not a new concept. It is one that Churches promoted heavily in the 1890s and early 19th century when similar food deserts plagued sprawling urban centers in the United States.[2] They were very popular during the Great Depression.

A community garden is a ministry every church should operate. The benefits of gardening and agriculture have been understood by many church leaders. Community gardens have been growing in popularity again at churches in North America and globally over the past 15 years. Even if your church is not located in a food desert, there are poor in your community that could benefit. My own church operates a food bank and even though we are not in a food desert, there are homeless and poor people who depend on it. So, what benefits would a church community garden ministry provide?

A Big Outreach Opportunity for Little Cost

All that is needed to begin a community garden are a few dozen square feet of land. Many beginner community gardens are only 10 feet by 10 feet. A large size is 20 feet by 30 feet. Nearly every church has that amount of land sitting idle. In fact, most church yards are costing money to mow and maintain grass that the vast majority of the time sits unused. Why not make better use of that land for the gospel!

A small community garden can be started for as little as $1,500. If some hand tools and supplies can be donated by church members or acquired used this can keep startup costs low. If you seek to keep costs low, pray for God’s blessing to help your endeavor become a success.

Additionally, brothers and sisters with a talent for growing things are sitting idle in many congregations. Let their talents work for the gospel cause. Speaking, teaching and music are often viewed as necessary skills for the Lord’s work. Not so! If you have a talent for gardening, go to your church leaders and ask them to support you in starting a garden-based mission. If you are a pastor or church leader, call for those with gardening talents to lead this ministry. All the labor can be provided on a voluntary basis.

Prepare Children and Adults for the Soon Return of Jesus

In this time of fast food and ready-to-eat snacks, the skill of gardening has mostly been lost. A church garden offers the perfect teaching space for training church members in gardening techniques so they can take the skills and use them at home. It will provide seeds from which they can begin their own garden at home. The tools could even be loaned temporarily to help families till the ground for their home garden.

The Great Recession of 2008 and the COVID-19 pandemic have demonstrated that even in the 21st century we cannot depend on modern society to reliably provide all our eating needs. Local gardens are still a vital resource for God’s people in these last days.
Gardening offers so many valuable spiritual lessons. That’s why Jesus taught using metaphors from the garden so often. What better place to learn about the Creator than from His creation? The garden holds lessons for both adults and children. They are waiting to be uncovered.

Improve Your Church’s Outreach Efforts

One of our primary outreach tools is health education. One missionary gardener called gardening an “entering wedge” that should be paired with the broader health message. It will invite interest and open doors for people to not only hear more about health but also to hear the gospel message![5]

How many opportunities a church garden would provide for outreach. When you speak to members of your community are they familiar with the location of your church? If you had a community garden out front it would be a fantastic public relations opportunity. It would enable your church to meet a physical need for community members. This will lead to opportunities to share the love of Jesus with them. Not only could produce be provided for those in need, but garden classes could be offered to all community members.

Also, excess produce from your garden could provide a means of relationship evangelism. What neighbor would say “no” to garden fresh tomatoes or cucumbers? Any produce that is not used to serve the needy could be placed in attractive baskets and given to church members to take to their unchurched neighbor and co-workers. This creates an opportunity for dialogue with hardly any effort and can be the basis of forming a deeper relationship that may lead to sharing the gospel.

Build a Stronger Church Congregation and Promote Inter-generational Relationships

A church garden project is beneficial for building a stronger local church congregation. Church congregations are often fragmented by generation. Many churches have separate departments for children, youth, young adult and seniors. Church activities like vacation bible school, senior groups, singles groups, and couples groups all encourage church members to associate with their own peers primarily. People are naturally more comfortable with similar-aged peers. Churches must promote inter-generational interaction. The wisdom of older church members needs to be passed to young adults and especially the youth. Division and disconnect between generations have led some congregations to split. Churches should regularly provide activities that foster inter-generational relationships.

A community garden is the perfect activity. Younger generations often lack gardening skills. The older generations can share their knowledge in this area. Grandmas and grandpas in the church can become mentors to all the children and youth as they instruct them. The youth and young adults can carry out the heavy labor while the seniors plan and coordinate. Gardening is naturally inter-generational.

Additionally, a church garden provides for endless spiritual edification to all church members who participate. The spiritual benefits are one of the biggest advantage in gardening. In 1897, J. H. Kellogg wrote in The Indicator, “The spare hours spent in the cultivation of such a crop [for mission work] may be as truly hours of communion with God as a church service or a prayer meeting.”5

All these benefits are awaiting anyone who will work in concert with the Creator to grow food as He intended. That is why there is a revived movement within church to grow garden ministry.

To get your church garden ministry started, I recommend referring to this free 24-page e-book by the Christian conservation organization International A Rocha, "Why Every Church Should Plant a Garden and How." It contains everything you need to know on how to organize and start a church-based garden.

Notes and References:

[1] Alana Rhone, Michele Ver Ploeg, Chris Dicken, Ryan Williams, and Vince Breneman, “Low-Income and Low-Supermarket-Access Census Tracts, 2010-2015,” United States Department of Agriculture (January 2017): 12, PDF

[2] David F. Garner, “On the Back Burner: Adventists and Environmentalism,” Spectrum (November 3, 2021),

[5] J. H. Kellogg, “Missionary Acre Farming and Gardening,” The Indicator 7, no. 14 (April 7, 1897)

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Happiness Now

Hear this lesson on my new podcast: Gleams of the Morning

“The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” Job‬ ‭33:4‬ ‭(WEB‬‬) 

Humans seemingly have a pretty long life span in the animal kingdom. But when you start to look at the longest lived animals, you start to realize we don’t live so long after all. Some turtles live for over two hundred years. The bowhead whale does also. The Greenland shark holds the current record for longest lived vertebrate at 400 years.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Pruning Your Life

Listen to this lesson on my new weekend devotional podcast Gleams of the Morning

“Every branch in me that doesn’t bear fruit, he takes away. Every branch that bears fruit, he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
‭‭John‬ ‭15:2‬ ‭(WEB‬‬)

Pruning has long been a practice used to shape and direct the growth of plants. Some people mistakenly believe pruning is necessary. It’s not. Plants will grow well enough without regular pruning by humans. Pruning is beneficial when you desire specific results for example, with fruit bearing plants. Pruning fruit trees and berry plants will regulate growth, increase yields, improve fruit size and quality, and maintain plant health and vigor.

This has a direct lesson for our spiritual lives.

Friday, April 22, 2022

New Devotional Book

Check it out! I have published a new devotional book written just for campers! It contains 34 unique and lively object lessons that are great for your own personal devotion time or as material for your next group worship thought! It is small and light weight enough to take camping or backpacking. It contains instructions on how to display each object in a worship talk to make them more engaging and memorable. You can get it in paperback or eBook. Check it out now!

Get it from Amazon

Be A Sea Sponge


Listen to this lesson on my new podcast Gleams of the Morning.

Key Text

“he who says he remains in [Jesus] ought himself also to walk just like he walked.”
‭‭1 John‬ ‭2:6‬ ‭(WEB‬‬) [word added for clarity]

The sea sponge is an odd creature. It is part of a the taxonomic phylum Porifera which means ‘pore bearer’. It’s a practical name. Scientists are not known for their creativity. The sea sponge lives in a coral reef and they are often brightly colored. They attach to rock at the base and grow upwards toward the light like some alien plant. But alas, they are not plants. You’d be forgiven for thinking they are one.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Pictures and the Truth

Listen to this devotional on my podcast Gleams of the Morning

“O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭34:8‬ ‭(KJV‬‬)

Growing up I saw numerous pictures and video of the Grand Canyon. I heard stories of people who had been there. Everyone described its deepness and vastness, its overwhelming sense of largeness. And indeed, I could see for myself in pictures and videos, it looked big and pretty impressive. I also heard stories of people who saw it for the first time were stuck dumb, they could not