Lessons From God . . . and Dog

Blue Merle

 

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?” – Job 12:7-8
I promised you a photo of a cute little dog for this month’s post, and so here she is. Her name is Ganu, it is Japanese for Little Girl. She is a Blue Merle. We adopted her a year ago. There are days when I believe I should have had my head examined at the beginning of our relationship with “the dog.” Having a dog in our life has brought a lot of challenges. We have never had a dog. (I have had dogs in my past, but never since I have been married have I had a dog.) Ah, but most of the time she is fun to have around.
Daily routines now include potty breaks, walks, feeding and water bowl fillings, and the seemingly never ending need to play. Of course there is also the poop-patrol duty, the “in the house accidents” clean up duty, and the additional need to vacuum more often because of food and chew-toy debris. And I thought my days were full before!
Unexpected were the lessons about life and God that I have received because of this little girl dog. And so I am going to attempt to express some of the unexpected lessons this little dog has brought to me.
Walking has always been an activity I enjoyed. Now, I have a mandatory early morning walk and a mandatory evening walk. I often wonder if Ganu can see the glory of the heavens, the sky brimming with stars, as I can see it. The pre-dawn sky dances with stars and constellations that move me to tears as I consider how God placed them there to tell of his mighty wonders. More familiar are the constellations in the evening sky—yes they are different. Psalms 19:1 says: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” And Psalm 147:4 proclaims: “He determines the number of stars and calls them each by name.” Scientists estimate there are over a hundred billion trillion stars. My pre-dawn and after sunset walks allow me to pause and marvel at the beauty of the heavens and ponder the awesome God that created them.
Additional new routines that my life now has include, play time and feeding time. Over the course of the year the little dog has become attached to us. Honestly when she was just a tiny puppy she would cling to my pant leg when I walked. She has always loved to fetch, and return the toy to chase it again and again and again and again. She understands, anyway I think she does, the boundaries we’ve placed for her. She depends on me for food, belly rubs, and the occasional scratch behind the ears among other things. For the most part, she minds fairly well, and knows when she is in trouble. As I watch her contentedly chew on a toy or notice as she looks to me for approval as she eats, I wonder about my relationship with my heavenly Father. I wonder if I am as content in His law, written on my heart, that provides me boundaries. Obviously when I fail and sin, I am compelled to repent, but had I trusted in his boundaries, his law, I would not have sinned. Do I trust the Lord to provide my daily bread, as Ganu trusts that every day she will find food in her bowl. I am always thankful for the food we are blessed with, but do I really trust Him for our provision or do I trust that I can earn enough money to assure there is food in the fridge. I am continually pondering how my life’s routines may include more time with the Lord in prayer and reading the Bible.
I have also discovered that having a dog invites family, friends, neighbors, and strangers to tell me how to raise, discipline, and train our little girl dog. Hmm, kinda like how my pastoring a church invites members, regulars attenders, visitors and apostates to tell me what church should be like; the sermon, the music, the seating and even the landscaping. I don’t think we are doing too bad of job raising our dog. And as for how to “do church,” I differ to Jesus; he prayed how we should “be the church.” (John 17:20-26) I think it’s time to throw all our ideas out the window and be the church.
The little dog continues to bring me to a place where I consider my relationship with God my Father. The challenge of incorporating a dog into life may be seamless for you, but for me . . . well I’m a work in progress. And I promised myself that I wouldn’t become attached to the little girl dog; I confess, I blew that promise.

“The Kingdom of God is Near” . . . So Near

    In my backyard, okay actually it’s just up the road about a mile, is a Fly Ash Electric Power Plant that provides electricity to nearly all Cochise County Arizona. At night it looks like a dense city on a hill. I can usually judge the wind speed and wind direction from the towering smokestack that dominates the facility. According to their website they provide electricity to more than 51,000 services over 4,100 miles of energized line. They don’t list how much electricity they actually generate, but it’s probably quite a bit. The photo above is taken just outside my office window.

    Living in southeast Arizona and pastoring a small church here, I have become aware of the vast separation in social-economic standing of the folks around me. On one hand are the folks that live here when they want to; they own a motorhome and or another place somewhere else in the country; they drive nice cars, and basically have plenty of money to support their “modest” life style. On the other hand, there are many living here that don’t have electricity, or running water, because they can’t afford it. Some people choose to not pay for their electricity and have small generators that charge batteries which provide lights in their home. Others, just don’t have any form of electricity because they can not afford it. And yet they are in view of the power plant that provides electricity to their neighbors. This situation saddens me. Maybe while I am living here and serving this community I will develop a way to produce free electricity for some of these folks (some attend the church I am pastoring).

    Around the turn of the last century, Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison were in competition to provide electricity to the country. Tesla proposed Alternating Current that would be distributed free to everyone. Edison proposed Direct Current that would be sold to everyone. Of course the financial backers chose Edison, because the opportunity to make more money was very attractive. Edison, however conceded that Alternating Current would be more practical. So today we pay for Alternating Current provided to our homes and businesses.

    Thinking about the issue of electricity got me thinking about the issue of light and truth, and lies and darkness. Scripture is filled with admonitions to seek the light and truth, and to avoid lies and evil which are usually found in darkness. Allow me to cite what the Beloved Disciple, John wrote: “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light, in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from every sin.” 1 John 1:5-10

    When I accepted Jesus as Messiah, my Lord and Savior, I was quickly brought to the place where I wanted others to experience what I experienced. While holding forth the light of the truth, I am continually saddened why people will choose darkness. From the pulpit I seek to always lift high the light of truth, but find that some “Christians” often are thick-headed and have trouble believing in, or living in the light, just like those who are avoiding the light. I am by no means a perfect example of living in the light. However, grasping and trying to live by the Biblical standards of truth are not really difficult.

    In the New Testament book of Romans, the first chapter, Paul expresses the frustration with people being stupid. Yup, people have, so it appears, always chosen darkness over light. People would rather believe a rock or piece of wood will show them the truth, more than God’s power and divine nature displayed throughout His creation. Bottom line: people are without excuse. It’s not too much different than living without electricity and being in sight of the electric power plant. And remember how Jesus began his ministry, “The time has come. The kingdom of God is NEAR. Repent and believe the good news.” Mark 1:15

    I will continually try to find ways to present the gospel message, to invite people to be discipled so they too will find the truth and have the courage to disciple others in the way, the truth and the life of Jesus. I continually pray that people will realize just how close they are to experiencing the blessings of the kingdom of God because it is so near. I will also try to find a real way to generate free, or at least cheap, electricity for those who don’t have it in their home. Oil lamps and candles are quaint, but many of the new LED light bulbs put out nice light and use very little electricity.

We Won The Lotto!

We Won The Lotto!

And We’re Giving it Away to Our Family and Friends!

Got your attention didn’t I?

Now imagine you’re a shepherd outside of Bethlehem 2000 years ago. It’s a quiet, cool evening. Suddenly there is a mighty angel glowing with radiance like the summer sun at noon. And He says with a voice like mighty rolling thunder, “Don’t be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah the Lord.”

Comparing the news that I’m giving you a pile of money, and the announcement that the angel brought to those shepherds . . . well there isn’t enough money in all the world to match the angel’s announcement.

Okay, if you haven’t figured it out yet, we didn’t win the lotto—the lotto ticket is a photoshop. However, the angel’s message to those shepherds was real. The good news of great joy is for all people, that includes you and I. That message is about Jesus. He is more than the reason for the season, he is the reason for living.

Merry Christmas and have a blessed year ahead.

Tidbits of Wisdom

www.curtisklinger.org

My mom collected wisdom. She also collected humor. At most any gathering, if there was a lull in the conversation, she would pull-out a scrap of paper from her purse and share a humorous anecdote or joke or interesting proverb. Her list was always fresh, because she had a collection of clippings from magazines, newspapers and pieces that were given to her by those who knew she would appreciate them.

Because I have been a bit busy with moving and stepping into the role of Pastor at a church in Cochise Arizona, I decided that I would pull out some of my mom’s scraps of wisdom and share them with you.

Today is yesterday’s tomorrow you worried about, and all is well.

If God sends us on stony paths, He provides strong shoes.

Worry is an old man with bended head,

Carrying a load of feathers which he thinks are lead.

Courage is fear that has said its prayers.

The folly of being anxious about the near future is just as stupid as worrying about what will happen about a thousand years hence. We have to live in the present moments, because we can do nothing about the past, and God is doing everything about the future.

In order to realize the worth of the anchor, we need to feel the stress of the storm.

Luther said, “Work as though Jesus will not be coming for a thousand years. Be ready as if He should come today.”

Men have to go through many experiences in order to get the spiritual vision which is needed to see the divine plan. A film is always developed in a dark room.

Prayer changes our attention from the problem to the Power, from anxiety to the Almighty.

The Holy Spirit does not give a clear blueprint of the rest of your life, but only of a moment, one by one.

When the devil can’t make you bad, he makes you busy.

Elijah was so sure of God that he added difficulties by throwing water over the altar. We, in our unbelief, try to help God.

In the forest fire, there is always only place where the fire cannot reach. It is the place where the fire has already burned itself out. Calvary is the place where the fire of God’s judgment against sin burned itself out completely. It is there that we are safe.

I hope you enjoyed these snippets of wisdom. These are only a tiny portion of those my mom carried in her arsenal. Maybe sometime I will have to share some of the bits of humor she would pull-out to liven a crowd.

Changing Course

 

Living out in the middle of nowhere, the dirt roads usually don’t have traffic signs at the intersections. Let’s face it, going down a dirt road, there isn’t much traffic. Out of habit I’ll put on my turn-signal when I come to one of these intersections, even tough there isn’t anyone for a hundred miles. I have been known to put on my turn-signal and then realize that isn’t the direction I need to turn, and simply turn the opposite direction—who will know? Okay, I confess, I’ve done it in the city too.

Intersections in life often don’t have signs either. We assume a certain course is the best or correct course, only to discover it isn’t. So it has been with me. I considered a course for my life’s journey, and had my signal on getting ready to turn the corner, and suddenly realized the road was blocked, or washed-out, or simply not ready to be traveled on. It is at that intersection in life, with the signal on, that I recently came to. I believed that we should be looking at moving to Branson. Instead we are, for now, staying in southeast Arizona. Will we move to Branson sometime in the future, only the Lord knows. For now we are simply moving a few miles North.

The Agape ranch, where we have been living and working for the past fifteen months, is now the GAP ranch. We don’t feel we belong here. Living and working in Branson sounded exciting. However, a church here had their pastor resign unexpectedly leaving a vacant pulpit. I was asked to fill the pulpit and now have been asked to be interim pastor. This is a road I definitely didn’t think I would travel on, but my heart said yes, so this is where life’s course is taking us.

We will still travel down life’s path dreaming of avenues to travel on, our signal may even be blinking. However, we understand how our Lord Jesus, who is guiding our life, may have a different course for us to journey on. And one thing I have discovered, His paths are an amazing adventure.

Deception

Recently there was a campaign fund raising dinner for Billionaire HiLIARy Clinton. Charging $2,000.00 a plate, the approximately 300 guests raised nearly a half million dollars for her. Now my question is: WHY? How can there be so many people deceived by this woman. The answer, she is obviously a criminal master mind or she is one of the greatest deceivers of this century . . . and the last for that matter. Oh, and to make the dessert sour, she didn’t even have the time to attend the dinner in her honor, she was busy attending a similar dinner somewhere else.

There was a period of time in my life where I was learning slight of hand, or magic tricks. The slight or trick was to fool people into watching one hand or a distraction while getting away with the deception.

Take a closer look at the picture at the top of this blog. You may think it is a nicely mowed field of grass. Or maybe it is a field of wheat.

Computers and photography allow users to deceive the eye so easily. I can put my face on the body of Charles Atlas and you would hardly know. Unless you have recently seen me without a shirt, then you would know that I “photo shopped” the image.

By digitally enhancing my voice using computer software, I can almost sound like James Earl Jones, or Tiny Tim.

Computer video editing software, and a lot of patience, can allow me to make a video that is deceptive while being creative. Check out my promo video for Dean Ransom, the Trilogy—did I insert the deer, or how about the Quetzalcoatlus?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-KOiEpvDRc&feature=youtu.be

Deception isn’t limited to just corrupt politicians, the media and movie makers. Good, well meaning preachers and teachers are also prone to deception. Let’s face it, deception is a quick way to make a fast buck, or in other words, pick a pocket or two.

The Bible has a lot to say about deception; bottom line: don’t deceive, beware of deceivers, and don’t be deceived.

So I am not going to deceive you any longer, the photo isn’t a field of wheat or grass, it’s an ingenious closeup of a wool sweater.

On a final note. If Billionaire HiLIARy Clinton can raise nearly a half million dollars in a few hours, how about helping me raise $600.00 to rebuild the steeple on Wynne Chapel.  I tend to think that people on the whole are foolish with their money, ergo the reason billionaire HiLIARy Clinton doesn’t need to spend anything on her campaign, the media and fools are too willing to simply throw money at her. Here is the link to my donation page, scroll down to see how to donate. http://curtisklinger.org/main/donate/

Sorry, I don’t have a link to a place you can donate your hard earned money to Billionaire HiLIARy Clinton.

Life as a Bowling Pin

www.curtisklinger.org

Do you ever feel like a bowling pin, constantly set-up just to be knocked down? Or how about being handed to a juggler and hoping they won’t drop you? Well that’s about how I feel this month.

The reason this blog is late and very short is due to the news that the place where we are living and working has traded hands.

As of this writing I am applying for jobs and we are looking for a place to live. I guess my April blog, “Home on the Range,” was prophetic. Wow, a motor home right about now would sure help.

After giving a year of labor to bring Agape Youth Ranch to a place where it is neat and ready to be used, Agape Youth Ministry made a deal with GAP ministries who will now own the ranch. And, sadly, we aren’t needed to serve the ranch. How long do we have? We are hoping to have until August to move, we’ll see and you will know.

So, we feel like bowling pins. So many times I have been set-up at either a Christian ministry or working with, or for, Christians, only to be knocked down. Why is it that so much of modern Christianity is all about buildings, money, stuff, and not about people? I have talked to numerous people who are also disillusioned with the religious Christian folks who offer platitudes of concern about people, but where the rubber meets the road, they don’t. It’s a “me, me, me, I, I, I, society and the Christian Church has way too many chanting that tune.

Do I have a solution? No. However I do believe that by truly discipling, being accountable, challenging people to listen to God’s word and their heart in sincerity, and not just offering ‘feel good’ messages, people may be triggered to change. Going to church isn’t the answer it is only a step. Weekly going to a living room or coffee shop and meeting with others who are sincerely seeking to be Christian disciples will do far more than a weekly dose of “church”.

So, from a fallen bowling pin who is humbly and prayerfully seeking God’s wisdom to seek where we will live and what we will do . . . or what lane we will be standing in, keep an eye out for my blog next month.

Oh, and remember to safely celebrate Independence Day and set-off a lot of cool fireworks Independence Day evening! Let your neighbors know that you are celebrating the eviction of a tyrannical government when this country declared its independence.

FREE ACID

Yes, it’s true! ACID is free . . . at least the Kindle edition is from Friday, May 27, 2016 through Monday, May 31, 2016.

As my way of saying thank you for the HUGO Award nomination, I am offering the e-book edition of ACID, The World Has Changed, But Man Has Not, free for you to download and enjoy this Memorial Day Weekend.

So what are you waiting for? You’re looking for a new and exciting adventure to read over the long Memorial Day weekend. Look no farther.

However don’t wait too long, the promotion ends May 31.

If you already have ACID, then tell your friends, even your enemies, and let them know that ACID is free to download.

Sandstorm !

Life in the southwest includes sandstorms. The photo was taken from my front porch—the sand is being blown several thousand feet into the air by fifty to eighty mile-per-hour wind. Drive your car into that and you will probably need a paint job after only a few minutes. My folks would talk about the dust bowl of the 1930s. They would stuff wet towels around the windows and under the doors, and still the relentless dirt would invade their home. I can now understand. We vacuum and dust our house and in a matter of hours it looks like we haven’t vacuumed or dusted in weeks.

When I was a kid my dad would occasionally listen to his LPs on a Sunday afternoon. He had his favorites and one of them was a collection of Westerns called: “The Shifting Whispering Sands” recorded by Billy Vaughn and his orchestra and narration by Ken Nordine. “Shifting Whispering Sands” is a song and poem written by Vivian Clark Gilbert. The poem and song is in the top 100 Western songs of all time. When my dad had that LP on, I would always stop to listen. The poem is really good storytelling. On a side note, I am certain he would never have approved of how I listened to my Kraftverk or Pink Floyd LPs on his stereo.

If you want to listen to Ken Nordine’s narration of Shifting Whispering Sands, I found it on You Tube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=919r63iHCZM

While watching the sandstorm I remembered the Shifting Whispering Sands. Okay these sands aren’t exactly quietly shifting and whispering, they are violently relocating and roaring! Still, I watched and remembered. Also I remembered a line from the Louis L’Amour book, The Marching Drum; allow me to quote it. “Coming to a crossroad I looked down and considered a crumbling pile of stone, where once had been a town. Wind and time had left the town all but forgotten.” (Italics mine.)

Witnessing the wind relocate the soil somewhere faraway, my heart tied some thoughts together that I want to attempt to put into words.

If you know me you probably know my frustration with the Christian Church, especially the big-box or mega churches. I lament how “Christians” want to build edifices to their glowing memories, complete with the greatest sound and light systems et cetera. Now I know you may be one of those who are already warming up to fire off an email in defense of your super church, but please hear me out. I’m not saying that these titanic churches aren’t doing good. I am saying that Jesus didn’t commission his followers to go into all the world and build churches, he commanded us to go and make disciples. Yet we insist on pouring piles of money into an edifice that is bigger and nicer than the one across town; while there are people in need of the gospel, the good news, who are hungry, poorly clothed and barely making it in the neighborhood.

You won’t walk down the streets of gold on the new earth and find it lined with fully restored buildings reflecting the greatest cathedrals and churches built by mankind. I really don’t believe you will find in the new heaven and new earth any need for high-end sound and light systems. The new earth isn’t being prepared for the most inspiring architecture of Christianity. The new earth is being prepared for people, specifically those who have chosen Jesus as their Lord.

Christianity is too willing to pour money into a building. Buildings don’t last! Wind and time will wipe that expensive building from the landscape. Steel, brick and lumber are temporary! People are eternal.

While watching the sandstorm carry away acres of soil, I considered the buildings Christianity has erected. If only a portion of the money invested into a work of architecture to make a gathering of Christians happy would be invested in the lives of people. Instead of throwing money into a building, invest it to help Christians use their living room as a place to disciple others in their walk with Jesus. A building won’t change people the same way your life will. And think of how much money we will save by investing in lives instead of buildings that wind and time will erase.

A good place to find some tools and information to begin the discipling adventure can be found at www.weare3dm.com . Also look up Francis Chan, he has some great guidance in building a discipling culture.

Thanks for listening. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to dust and vacuum . . . again.

Home On The Range?

If I asked you to describe your perfect home what would it look like?

If you could have your ultimate house anywhere, where would it be?

Did you imagine a mansion in a prestigious neighborhood? Maybe you are the Robinson Crusoe or Swiss Family Robinson visionary. Whether you are the tropical island dweller, the mountain top dweller or the rolling ranch or farm dreamer, most of us have dreamed of our perfect place to live.

Growing up I learned the song, “Oh, Give Me A Home”. Allow me to share the original version—I say original version because there were two primary re-makes of the song. The original was written by Dr. Brewster Higley in 1876. Next was a popular version written by William and Mary Goodwin in 1904; personally it’s my favorite. The version I learned in elementary school, and has been sung by many popular singers was written by John A. Lomax in 1910.

Oh, give me a home where the Buffalo roam

Where the Deer and the Antelope play;

Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,

And the sky is not cloudy all day.

Chorus

A home! A home!

Where the Deer and the Antelope play,

Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,

And the sky is not cloudy all day.

Oh! give me a land where the bright diamond sand

Throws its light from the glittering streams,

Where glideth along the graceful white swan,

Like the maid in her heavenly dreams.

Chorus

Oh! give me a gale of the Solomon vale,

Where the life streams with buoyancy flow;

On the banks of the Beaver, where seldom if ever,

Any poisonous herbage doth grow.

Chorus

How often at night, when the heavens were bright,

With the light of the twinkling stars

Have I stood here amazed, and asked as I gazed,

If their glory exceed that of ours.

Chorus

I love the wild flowers in this bright land of ours,

I love the wild curlew’s shrill scream;

The bluffs and white rocks, and antelope flocks

That graze on the mountains so green.

Chorus

The air is so pure and the breezes so fine,

The zephyrs so balmy and light,

That I would not exchange my home here to range

Forever in azures so bright.

Chorus

–Dr. Brewster Higley (1876)

Here are a couple of verses from the other version I learned in grade school.

Oh, give me the hills and the ring of the drills

And the rich silver ore in the ground;

Yes, give me the gulch where the miner can sluice

And the bright, yellow gold can be found.

Chorus

Oh, give me the mine where the prospectors find

The gold in its own native land;

And the hot springs below where the sick people go

And camp on the banks of the Grande.

Chorus

Oh, give me the steed and the gun that I need

To shoot game for my own cabin home;

Then give me the camp where the fire is the lamp

And the wild Rocky Mountains to roam.

I wonder if children still learn this song?

Living out on a remote ranch in Southeast Arizona, I am able to appreciate that song now more than I ever imagined I would. Okay, there are no Buffalo here, just some free range cattle, and there are occasional days with clouds. Instead of curlew we have roadrunners and quail. There isn’t much in the way of poisonous herbage just poisonous snakes, centipedes, and scorpions. Aside from those differences we are living in the home on the range.

Recently I have come to realize something about life, I really don’t have a place that I call home. Growing up I could always go home because my parents lived in the same house for nearly 50 years. Every time I have attempted to settle down in a place and make it home, life seems to have an uprising and I am moving. I really don’t like to move, I really want the American dream and own a house—or maybe I just want a place to call home.

You may be wondering about the picture heading for this month’s blog; it is a 39-foot, Windriver Bershire motor home. That motor home is a first rate diesel pusher. That is our dream home. Instead of a home on the range, we are dreaming of a free-range home We don’t consider any city or state a place where we really want to settle down, so a motor home would allow us to roam.

On the other hand, maybe we are just feeling that this old world isn’t our home, and there is no place we want to hang our plank.

Now if we can only find someone who wants to sell us one of those motor homes for a couple of hundred dollars.

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