NARF devotionals

A series of devotional thoughts first published in the "Transmitter," a publication of the Nazarene Amateur Radio Fellowship (NARF).

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Devotions with a ham radio flavoring

Around the world on a hundred watts    |    Bedsprings for an antenna    |    Loss of power    |    Headed the wrong direction    |    Mouse-eaten communications link    |     Down with hepatitis    |     Wrong picture!    |     Rescue at sea    |     Hearing His voice    |     Always on frequency    |     My visibility    |     Global support net    |     Grounded properly    |     Lost first love    |     Let your light shine    |     Keen sight    |     Share the Good News    |     If only    |     QRM    |     Upgrading    |     CQ CQ    |     Making a difference    |     Dead microphone    |     Elmers    |     Bracing for the wind    |     Simple stuff    |     Loose connections    |     Predictable power    |     Go to a quiet place    |     Voice actuated    |     Talking to God    |     Our heavenly HT    |     Fading signals    |     Missing keypad button

My U.S. General Class call sign is N0FOL - November Zero Foxtrot Oscar Lima.

We spent four years as Nazarene missionaries in Haiti. Telephones were scarce there. So, amateur radio became an important communications tool. Within the country we used mainly 2-meters while 20 meters was used to communicate back to the U.S. In Haiti, my call sign was HH2HC.

My wife Barbara also holds a General Class amateur radio license. She is KC4CHB.

1

FULL POWER: Around the world on a hundred watts

I've learned enough radio theory to get my General license. Right now I'm working on upgrading to Advanced.

I'm still amazed to think that putting a hundred watts of power into a little wire lets me talk to several different people all over the globe at the same time. It seems incredible that I could do that with a hundred watts. That much power only lights one room in my house.

It's possible, of course, because human beings finally figured out that's how God had designed this one little part of our universe. Every time I turn on the equipment in my shack, it's enough to make me sing, "0 Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all . . . Thy hands have made ... Then sings my soul.,. . . How great Thou art."

    - Howard Culbertson, HH2HC . . . [

2

FULL POWER: Bedsprings for an antenna

I recently met a Haitian who has been in Amateur Radio a long time. He prides himself in having built all of his own equipment. He told me that when he put together his first radio, all he had available for an antenna was a set of metal bedsprings. So, he used those bedsprings and managed to have QSO's with amateurs from all over the globe. He got as good a result as I manage to get with my expensive tribander.

There's a spiritual truth here. If we are available, God can use us. It isn't our abilities that He is interested in. It's our availability that He wants.

My Haitian friend used bedsprings to talk to Libya. God wants to use us to talk to a lost and dying world.

    -- Howard Culbertson, HH2HC [ e-book on Haiti ]

3

FULL POWER: Loss of power

Help! My Kenwood 330 is no longer putting out a strong signal on my Maco tri-bander. Ray, W9NHB, and a few others have suggested some possible reasons and solutions to try. I have tried them, but I'm still only putting out about 15 watts. I wish I had an expert serviceman here to help me.

Fortunately, it's totally different when I lose power spiritually. God's Word is a clear and complete service and repair manual. In addition, I have the Creator Himself standing by to guide me in putting everything back in top shape.

When I work on my amateur radio equipment, it's basically by trial and error. I'm glad I don't have to do that spiritually.

    -- Howard Culbertson, HH2HC

4

QTH: Port-au-Prince, Haiti - Headed the wrong direction

At Easter time we drove to the Dominican Republic on the other end of our island to spend the weekend with Paul and Thelma Say (WB4WOC/HI8).

We had only sketchy directions for finding their house in Santo Domingo. So when I thought we were within range, I began calling Paul on 2-meters (simplex).

He answered immediately. However, before he finished his first sentence, I lost him. I kept driving and calling, thinking he would come in as we got closer. But I got only silence.

Finally we stopped to telephone. We discovered we had made a wrong turn. Instead of going toward Paul's house, we were going away from it. Sure, I was in Santo Domingo. But I was headed the wrong way.

As I turned around, I asked the Lord to keep me headed in the right direction spiritually as well. Just being in the Kingdom is not enough for me. I want to be always headed toward Jesus. Thus, our communications will be ever clearer and stronger.

    -- Howard Culbertson, HH2HC

5

QTH: Port-au-Prince, Haiti - Mouse-eaten communications link

I punched in the code to activate my auto-patch. Nothing. It was doubly frustrating since I was trying to demonstrate to a friend all the advantages of amateur radio.

A couple of days later I found the problem. A mouse had eaten through the telephone line. We had seen that mouse sometime before. However, for one reason or another we hadn't gotten around to setting a trap or putting out poison. The result? A severed communications link.

That can also happen spiritually. Small problems ignored or pushed aside can cut communications links with our Lord and with fellow Christians. Resolved: the next time I see a small intruder scampering around -- be it a furry mouse or a spiritual problem -- I'm going to take care of it immediately in order to keep my communications links intact.

    -- Howard Culbertson, HH2HC

6

QTH: Port-au-Prince, Haiti - Down with hepatitis

Word had gotten out that I was out of commission with hepatitis. On the next Nazarene Amateur Radio Fellowship net people were asking how I was, telling me they had been praying for me. This was partly because we were fellow amateur radio operators. But when they said they had been praying for me, they highlighted a stronger bond between us, that of our mutual citizenship in God's Kingdom. The NARF net does not create ties between us. It simply gives expression to bonds that are already there because of the Holy Spirit's work in our lives.

As I fellowship on the NARF nets I am not making new friends. I am getting better acquainted with brothers and sisters in Christ. "All the brothers here send you greetings . . . The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love to all of you in Christ Jesus" (I Corinthians 16:20, 23-24, NIV).

    -- Howard Culbertson, HH2HC

7

QTH: Port-au-Prince, Haiti - Wrong picture!

The day after I installed an auto-patch I startled a fellow missionary. I used the 2-meter rig in my jeep to call him on his telephone. When he answered, I tried to explain that I was using a radio in my car to call him. He sounded quite puzzled. Later I found out why. He was picturing me talking to him through the speaker of my AM-FM car radio.

What a communications breakdown! It happens in trying to explain amateur radio. It can also happen when we try to communicate the most important news of all: the Gospel. The images we sometimes elicit in the minds of non-Christians may not always correspond to reality. I pray that my testimony of my faith and of God's workings in my life will become clearer with each passing day.

    -- Howard Culbertson, HH2HC

8

QTH: Port-au-Prince, Haiti - Rescue at sea

I sat glued to my radio as the small boat owner called for help. His stricken boat was taking on water. And his only communications link was on the amateur bands. Propagation wasn't all that good and he was only able to operate QRP.

Alerted by other amateur operators, the U.S. Coast Guard took control of the frequency although because of poor propagation they wound up having to continually ask for help from amateur operators.

Eventually, the news came that a helicopter was hovering over the sinking craft. What a rescue operation I listened to that day!

That, of course, is what Christmas is about. It is the climatic moment in an incredible rescue operation with us at the center. As Christmas nears once again, let me wish you a joyous time as together we celebrate God's rescue mission that saved us.

    -- Howard Culbertson, HH2HC

9

Hearing His voice

Interstate 40 across eastern Oklahoma was a mess. Freezing rain turning to ice had cut travel speeds to 30 MPH. I was running over an hour late.

In its scanning mode my 2M Kenwood picked up a strong repeater. I was headed to Alma, a tiny dot on the Arkansas map. Without much hope of finding someone to relay a message of my lateness I picked up the 2M microphone.

To my surprise, KSVR, Stan Ross, answered my CQ. "You're supposed to eat supper at my house," he said.

A sense of relief flooded over me. Even as he gave me directions I broke out of the freezing conditions and into a normal wet drizzle. I relaxed and speeded up.

Our relationship to God is sometimes like that. As life's troubles buffet us, our palms can grow sweaty on the treacherous road. Then, out of the storm comes the Master's Voice: "You'll soon be at my house. I'm looking forward to sitting down and talking with you." What a relief and assurance His voice always brings.

    -- Howard Culbertson, HH2HC

10

Always on frequency

In the days before cellphones, I kepta 2M rig in the car I used in missionary deputation travels. During a tour of the Central California district, I was scheduled to be with Art Moore, KE6TU. I needed directions to his house. So I decided to try to call him as I neared Oakdale.

But, alas! The ARRL repeater directory listed several repeaters in his area. How was I to know which one Art might be monitoring?

It's different with the Lord. I don't have to hunt around for Him. I don't have to ask someone else to try to get Him up on "frequency." He's always monitoring my frequency.

    -- Howard Culbertson, HH2HC

11

My visibility

Our third home assignment as Nazarene missionaries has begun. As we began traveling in deputation across the country, I have been reminded of the visibility which amateur radio involvement usually gives to a person. I've seen those tell-tale antennas sprouting in yards all across America. Whenever I do see an amateur antenna, I immediately sense a certain comradeship with the occupants of that particular house. We share the same hobby. And I often wonder if I've talked with that "ham" or if I'll have the opportunity in the near future.

What about my commitment to Christ? Is it as visible as my amateur radio hobby? Is the Lordship of Jesus Christ clearly evident in my speech and actions? I hope that the fact of my being a Christian is even more obvious to those around me than is my interest in amateur radio!

    -- Howard Culbertson, N0FOL

12

Global support net

Some time ago deputation travel took me to California. While there, I spent a Sunday evening in Oakdale with Art More, KE6TU. Art's father was spending a few days with him. Although not a licensed operator, the elder Mr. Moore enjoys monitoring the amateur bands. He said that he had discovered globe-spanning networks of ham operators. During visits to Art's "shack" he had listened to amateurs from 90 different countries.

We believers form another network the Church of Jesus Christ. That came home to me recently. I heard that someone I haven't seen in years often prays for Barbara and me by name in a men's prayer breakfast. I believe his prayers make a difference in our lives and ministries. Like ham operators, the church forms a global support net. I'm glad I'm a part of that net!

    -- Howard Culbertson, N0FOL

13

Grounded properly

My car mobile unit was working erratically. I had "jerry-rigged" the power connection at the fuse block. I figured that was my problem. So the other day I re-routed the power wire through the firewall, properly connecting it directly to the battery.

Then I flipped the "on" switch. Nothing. I checked the in-line fuse. It was good. Oh, no. Had something gone wrong inside the radio?

After sitting and staring at it for awhile, I decided to re-check the ground. It was faulty. My trouble had not been with the power connection after all. I thought of the King James Version translation of Ephesians 3:17 where Paul urges us to be "grounded in love."

It reminded me that having good connections to all kinds of spiritual high voltage is not enough. We must be grounded as well.

    -- Howard Culbertson, N0FOL

14

Lost first love

When Barbara and I became missionaries, one of my former college professors began bugging me about getting my amateur license. Then years went by. Finally, I started the process. As I worked from Novice to General, he encouraged me, even lending me some code practice tapes.

I just learned he's no longer an active amateur. That stunned me. He had been so enthusiastic, even to the point of recruiting me. No more. Now he's caught up with computers. His radio equipment gathers dust under a stairway.

To us amateurs, he obviously "lost his first love." That can also happen spiritually. Remember Revelation 2 and the Ephesian church?

The American Thanksgiving celebration is coming up soon (the Canadians have already has theirs!). My interest in amateur radio may-- like my professor's -- die away. As Thanksgiving approaches, I'm praying that I will never, however, lose my spiritual "first love." That's infinitely more important than my fascination with radio.

    -- Howard Culbertson, N0FOL

15

Let your light shine

Recently, I was snaking some coax through my attic from a vertical antenna to a 2M base unit. I was off in the far corner of the attic. Suddenly, my rechargeable flashlight went from bright to nothing.

It was dark up there. I wished there had been someone to call for help. But I knew I was all alone in the house. Slowly, gingerly, I felt my way across ceiling joists and insulation back to the access hole. I managed to do so without tripping over ductwork or electrical conduit or falling through the ceiling.

Jesus said we were to be the "light" of the world. "Let your light shine," he said (Matt. 5:14-16) It can get very dark in some corners of life. Let's be a certain, unfailing light to those who need it.

    -- Howard Culbertson, N0FOL

16

Keen sight

Jonesboro, Arkansas. It was Sunday afternoon. I was relaxing in a hotel room, waiting for an evening missionary rally. The phone rang.

"This is KB4GI," the voice on the other end said. "Can I come over?"

Carlos and his wife had driven from Tennessee to be in the evening service. We'd never had an eyeball QSO. Still, through the NARF nets we'd become good friends. When he came over that Sunday afternoon I was glad to put a face with the voice.

I know Carlos was blind. That Sunday afternoon we talked about a lot of things, including how he lost his sight. As we talked, I sensed that while he didn't have physical sight, he had sharp spiritual eyes.

Being blind spiritually is the worst type of sight defect, isn't it? Isaiah spoke of spiritual blindness when he said: "The eyes of those who see will no longer be closed" (Isaiah 32:3)

Whatever the condition of your physical eyes, may your spiritual sight always be clear and keen.

    -- Howard Culbertson, N0FOL

17

Share the Good News

Nazarene General Assembly is an exciting event. There's always lots of activity going on. As a result, last summer in Indianapolis, I found myself occasionally wanting to be two places as once.

During most of the balloting for the two new General Superintendents, I was working in the World Mission exhibition area. NARF members inside the Hoosier Dome relayed the results of each ballot to the NARF base station. Over in the exhibition hall I listened in with my Kenwood 2600. The word spread quickly that I had communications with the dome. So every time ballot results were transmitted, I had a crowd gathered around me.

I have other news that's more important to share. Lord, lead me to and make me sensitive to those who are hungry to hear the Good News you have transmitted.

    -- Howard Culbertson, N0FOL

18

If only

We just returned from Mexico City. With 142 people, it was at that time the largest Work & Witness group ever. Organized by Southern Nazarene University, that mission trip was the first of what became an annual event known as Commission Unto Mexico.

The size of the group and the multiplicity of project sites across Mexico City made coordination difficult. Several times I found myself saying: "If only we had taken time to find a way to put a ham with 2-meter equipment with each 15-member team."

"If only." What sad words those can be.

They're very sad when used in the spiritual realm:

Let's ask the Lord to help us avoid those sad if only's.

    -- Howard Culbertson, N0FOL

19

QRM

     "I couldn't make out one word," the visitor to my ham shack said. "How did you do that?"

There was some QRM that day. The distractions crowding in on my frequency so disoriented my shack visitor that he completely missed my contact that day. Though I chewed the rag for several minutes, my shack visitor had not caught even one word from the other end. His reaction surprised me. Like most radio amateurs, I had learned to concentrate, to somehow bore a tunnel through enough interference to make successful contacts even on heavy traffic days.

It can be like that spiritually. The many voices of life crowd in on heaven's frequency. They can distract you, keep you from hearing that "still, small voice" God often uses. As a Christian, I must learn to concentrate on understanding the divine signal.

    -- Howard Culbertson, N0FOL

20

Upgrading

My XYL, Barbara, took her novice test in Haiti under the direction of a couple of Wesleyan missionaries. Now KC4CHB, she recently upgraded to Tech.

Something special happened the day she upgraded. New lines of communication opened between us. Among other things, we now can talk together on 2 meters.

That's similar in a way to Christian couples. There's something special between them not shared by those families in which only one spouse is Christian. When only the husband or the wife is a Christian some really deep things of the spirit cannot be fully shared by the other. Barbara's more upgrading to tech made me remember to pray a lot more for those couples we know where only one is a Christian.

    -- Howard Culbertson, N0FOL

21

CQ CQ

"CQ CQ CQ CQ " How often have you heard that universal call and turned away without responding? Sometimes I'm in a hurry and need to leave. So, I turn off the radio. Sometimes I have a schedule with someone else. The other ham never knew I was there. So, I sneak past the CQ to another frequency.

It doesn't bother me to ignore a radio "CQ." I hope I don't do the same for spiritual "CQ's." people do put out that kind of call in life. They reach out, asking for somebody to respond, to acknowledge. Sometimes I allow life's busyness as well as the press of close friends to push me past those little calls.

Today, my prayer is "Lord, help me to be sensitive to life's CQ's. Help me to hear with discerning ears. Don't let me ignore potential Mayday calls."

    -- Howard Culbertson, N0FOL

22

Making a difference

When natural disasters occur two organizations start popping up immediately: amateur radio operators and churches. In the aftermath of hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods the news media often feature stories of ham operators providing vital communications support. There'll also be stories of churches opening their buildings to house those hit by tragedy. There will be clothing and food drives sponsored by Christian groups. Compassion and an urge to be of help. You see those qualities in Christians. You see them in most ham radio operators. What a combination when a person is both an amateur operator and a Christian! A Christian ham operator. He can make a life-saving and life-changing difference.

    -- Howard Culbertson, N0FOL

23

Dead microphone

It was a great idea: Barbara, KC4CHB, would take our little HT to the Junior High Quiz meet across Oklahoma City. She could then alert me as to when our daughter would be quizzing. The clock ticked away and I heard nothing from her.

When she got home, she wondered why I hadn't answered her call. We discovered that the HT's tiny microphone had gone bad. She could key up the repeater, but that's all. The microphone had to be replaced.

Jesus wants to use us to communicate with a rebellious and often hurting world. Let's keep our spiritual equipment in top shape so that when He wants to use us as His mouthpiece, we'll be ready.

    -- Howard Culbertson, N0FOL

24

Elmers

Invariably, when someone gets interested in amateur radio it's because of someone who already holds a ham license. An experienced amateur ratio operator becomes an "elmer," offering everything from encouragement to technical expertise, advice on buying that first radio, even getting out and putting up and testing an antenna.

It's the same way with the Kingdom of God. Most often, people come to the Lord and mature in the Christian walk through the influence of someone else "a bridge of God," as Donald McGavran calls our friendship and kinship webs. My influence counts for a great deal, whether it is interesting people in amateur radio or influencing them to enter the Kingdom.

    -- Howard Culbertson, N0FOL

25

Bracing for the wind

Scott, N5ASD, wasn't very enthusiastic about my dream of a tall tower and a beam antenna. "You get some pretty stiff winds there in Oklahoma," he said.

In spite of Scott's cautions, I still want to put up that tri-bander. Though I see lots of beam antennas around Oklahoma, I think I see more wind damage elsewhere in the country. Maybe with all the winds we have, we Okies know we have to build to withstand a lot.

In our spiritual lives, let's not merely hope that calm weather bracing will be enough. Let's build our inner spiritual strength so that it can withstand ANY worst-case scenarios.

    -- Howard Culbertson, N0FOL

26

Simple stuff

The 2M rig in my car was dead. I opened the hood. I checked electrical connections. Everything looked okay. I stuck my head under the dash. I didn't see any problems. I opened the hood again and rechecked connections. Nothing. I'd not seen smoke nor fire. Still, I began to fear that it had blown completely.

Finally, I thought of checking the in-line fuse. That was the problem. It was something simple. But I had not started there.

Trouble in your spiritual life? Check the simple stuff first. Jesus got right to the point with Peter: "Do you love me?"

    -- Howard Culbertson, N0FOL

27

Loose connections

     A loose soldered connection. What frustrating problems it can cause. My soldering jobs usually give way when I neglect to first make a good mechanical bond.

It can be that way spiritually. If I don't hold tightly to Jesus, my connection to His strength and power weakens. It may even break. God is still there will all power. I'm still the same instrument He's used before. Yet, nothing happens.

Prayer: Jesus, remind me to hold tightly to you so that all your power can flow through the soldered connection made by your Holy Spirit.

    -- Howard Culbertson, N0FOL

28

Predictable power

When Larry Wilson was in Haiti, he used a car battery as a power source for his HF unit. Living in the mountains above Port-au-Prince, Larry's house did receive power from the electric company of the capital city. However, the power generators were very unreliable and so the power would often go out without warning. There were also all kinds of surges on the lines. So Larry (who was HH2WL back then) used a car battery that he kept at maximum power with a trickle charger.

I'm thankful the Holy Spirit is our power source. He is a predictable, not affected by the offs-and-ons, ups-and-downs and ins-and-outs of life.

    -- Howard Culbertson, N0FOL [ e-book on Haiti ]

29

Ready to meet needs

When a fellow ham puts through a phone patch for me, I'm always somewhat humbled. People who I do not know spend their time and tie up their equipment for me. What motivates them to do that? Why do they reach our to someone they do not know (actually two people they do not know)?

How much stronger, of course, should be our motivation to reach out as Christians. How much more willing we ought to be to put ourselves out, to spend time meeting people's needs.

    -- Howard Culbertson, N0FOL

30

Go to a quiet place

During a 15-meter net I heard someone check in with whom I wanted to talk. We aren't supposed to tie up net frequencies with rag-chewing. So he said: "Go to 390 and up. At a quiet place I'll call you."

Isn't that about what the Lord says to us every day?

Sometimes we're tempted to spend too much time on the busy frequencies of life where the action seems to be. Then comes the gentle voice from the Lord: "Go to a quiet place and I'll call you."

    -- Howard Culbertson, N0FOL

31

Voice actuated

Bill Porter offered the use of his ham shack in the mountains above Caracas, Venezuela. He tuned up his equipment on a net frequency, then had to leave.

When net control asked for check-ins, I pushed the mike button on the desk mike and gave my call sign. I couldn't feel the button give under my thumb, but the transceiver did transmit.

While waiting for net control to acknowledge me, I felt around on the microphone, but didn't see any other buttons. So, I pushed on everything in sight as I responded "no traffic" when net control called me.

Finally, I realized that the microphone was voice activated.

We too have a voice-actuated mike to transmit to the Lord. There are no right buttons that must be pushed when we want to talk to Him. That's good news.

    -- Howard Culbertson, N0FOL

32

Talking to God

Some people think you have to be in some special place to talk to God. Not so. God is an "extra class" license holder. He's not limited like a novice or a tech license of amateur frequencies. God can talk anywhere. He will find you where you are, no matter how remote the frequency may be. Certainly, some places and times are better. But none is impossible for Him. Isn't that good news?

33

Our heavenly HT

     I was stuck in a hotel room in another country. Feeling lonely, I wanted to call home. But there was no telephone. I thought of a missionary friend's "ham shack." But it was an hour away.

It's not like that with God. Some folks do think a church building is a just heavenly "ham shack" where you need to be if you want to talk to God. That's not so, of course. As far as God is concerned, we always have an HT with us that can reach right to the very throne of heaven. We can talk to God any time, anywhere. Isn't that good news?

    -- Howard Culbertson, N0FOL

34

Fading signals

;"He faded out," the voice on my ham shack speaker said.

It was one ham operator talking to another. They were talking about me. I could hear them. They just couldn't hear me. For some reason, my signal had faded out.

Dear God, I don't want to fade away when I talk to you. Show me how to keep my antenna always pointed your way and my signal strong and clear.

    -- Howard Culbertson, N0FOL

35

Missing keypad button

I had a Kenwood 210B two meter rig in my jeep on the field. One day the number "2" button on the microphone's Touchtone keypad fell off. In terms of quantity, it didn't seem a great a loss. After all, I still had fifteen other buttons. A full ninety-four percent of the buttons were still there and working fine.

However, the first time I turned that microphone over to use my auto phone patch, I realized how significant the loss of just that one tiny button had been. The three-digit code I needed to key up my patch included the number "2"! My patch was useless without that one little button.

It caused me to think about losses in the church. The loss of somebody may be more significant than is immediately apparent.

Lord, help me to be as concerned about missing church members as I am about my missing keypad button.

   Amateur Radio Christian Fellowship day is an annual September event to allow Amateurs to showcase the hobby to churches and to contact missionaries.
   Amateurs are encouraged to take a radio to church and demonstrate Amateur Radio to the congregation by making contacts with other churches and missions groups worldwide.
   Announce this event to Amateur Radio clubs and operators in your area as well as to the local media. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please contact KB9IBW. Let's work together to bless our churches, missions groups, and give exposure to this great hobby to those who may become future Amateur Operators.

  -- Emery McClendon / KB9IBW

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Howard Culbertson, 5901 NW 81st, Oklahoma City, OK 73132  |  Phone: 405-740-4149 - Fax: 405-491-6658

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