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ABOUT US: Welcome to Cowboys of the Cross: your resource for Christian cowboys. Cowboys of the Cross has been providing cowboy church for the rodeo and cowboy community for more than 15 years. The website is your source for stories of faith and encouragement as well as devotions and news and information affecting cowboys of faith. Cowboys of the Cross leads cowboy church at rodeos and bull ridings in both Ontario, Canada and across the north and southeastern United States.   MORE ABOUT US HERE

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Help Keep us on the road

By Scott Hilgendorff/Cowboys of the Cross

When Kris Furr made Jesus the Lord of his life last month, he had no idea God would throw a challenge and learning opportunity at him just hours later.

It made it very clear that God was working in his life.

Kris, a bull fighter from Statesville, NC, was trying to sell his camper on Craig's list when he got a call from a guy who asked if Kris would consider trading the camper for the guy's van. It would have been at a $3,000 to $4,000 loss between the difference in the value of the van versus the camper but Kris was stuck—he had just made Jesus his lord and savior hours earlier and now he was being asked to help a family.

The man had explained to Kris that he and his wife had recently become homeless and were living in that van and a tent and he wanted to trade. The camper would give them a chance to have better accommodation, especially for their two kids that they were trying to home school.

But, $3,000 is a lot of money to give up when you're trying to make your living as a bull fighter, full time, traveling the roads to work events across the country for very little pay. In order to be the best at it and be one of the few to make it to the professional level and the pay scale that goes with it, you have to sacrifice a lot.

But, $3,000. Would God really be asking Kris to give the equivalent of that much money to total strangers? Was this a test from God?

Those are the questions he had for me when we talked about the situation.

The short answer, of course, was that God could very well be asking that of Kris.

“I always knew who God was but until today, I had never given my life to Him,” said Kris as we talked about his whole experience that day, leading up to the phone call.

Now he was afraid to make the wrong decision about the camper. We talked about the difference between feeling guilty or feeling the Holy Spirit's conviction, what the Bible teaches about giving sacrificially, what it can mean to follow Christ beyond that moment of salvation, being a good steward of the resources God gives you and how to know when God is answering prayer about what to do.

We also talked about how emotions can manipulate us and can be used by others to do the same—that he had to be careful.

In prayerfully seeking wisdom from God, Kris realized that a starting point would be to at least meet with the man who called and look into the story more.

When he did, praise God, Kris determined the story was a scam but also learned straight from scripture that he was willing to be obedient to God, even when it was difficult and it meant sacrifice.

And praise God, Kris and I are working out a study plan to dig deeper into God's word since being in church often is difficult for Kris as he's on the road so much.


Center Gate Story

By Jesse Horton/Cowboys of the Cross

Let’s face it. Relationships are hard. An 8-second bull/bronc ride can’t even begin to compare with the difficulty and emotional stress we experience in trying to make a life with someone who is desperately selfish and set in their own ways…and then you have to deal with her too!

     One of the first things I think we need to get out of the way in a biblical discussion of relationships is the counterfeit version. I’m well aware that people who handle money focus more on knowing the “real McCoy” versus studying the variations of counterfeit currency, but the problem with that analogy when it comes to relationships is that, in general, we have already accepted the counterfeit as legitimate. The pop-cultural practice of relationships goes something like this:

 1. Find the right person

 2. Fall madly in love

 3. Validate your feelings with physical intimacy

 4. Get to know your love-interest on a personal/social basis

 5. Move in together

 6. Make it official (get married)

 7. Live happily as long as they continue to fulfill your needs

 8. *If at any point this approach fails, go back to step one. The problem was that you found the wrong person.

I think most of us can either relate to this personally or have seen it in others we know. The premise is that finding the right person is what makes a relationship successful and that having found the wrong person is the only reason for failure. This approach is terribly unsuccessful and very risky. What if you are intimate with someone and a pregnancy occurs? You aren’t really committed, but are bonded for life. What about STDs? What if you buy a home, a car, or furniture together, or incur credit card debt together before you get married, then it doesn’t work out? There aren’t any provisions in the law for this sort of thing and it can ruin you financially! Aside from that, statistics prove that “shacking up” before getting married doesn’t help you have a successful marriage. It’s actually quite the opposite. People who live together before getting married are nearly twice as likely to divorce. Shacking up is just a way of planning for failure rather than planning for success. All you “positive attitude” guys should see that easily. If you plan for failure, you will fail. You can’t nod for the gate while you’re looking for a safe spot to get off! So let’s begin our discussion of relationships by discarding these views as illegitimate second-rate counterfeits of the genuine article.

“Shacking up is just a way of planning for failure rather than planning for success. All you ‘positive attitude’ guys should see that easily. If you plan for failure, you will fail.”

Real, legitimate relationships must begin with God. Left to ourselves, we are self-seeking narcissists concerned only with our own happiness, fulfillment, and success. To begin this part of the discussion, I want to point you to Ephesians 5:1-2. Beginning with 4:20, the Apostle Paul begins to affirm how we should relate to one another within the church (a body of believers, not a building); this can easily be extended to romantic relationships as it is applicable to all relationships. While the pop-culture approach to relationships begins with finding the right person, God’s instruction is that we should become the right person. “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” In your relationships, you should begin by imitating God, by trying to love people like Jesus who was willing to offer His very life to God on behalf of the people He loved.

So, step one: Be like God.

The importance of a relationship with God cannot be overstated. Seattle Pacific University Professors Les and Leslie Parrot write, “If you attempt to build intimacy with another person before you’ve done the hard work of becoming a whole and healthy person, every relationship will be an attempt to complete the hole in your heart and the lack of what you don’t have, and will end in disaster.” Being the right person means you don’t need someone to “complete” you apart from the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. But if you still have that God-shaped hole in your heart, every relationship you have will be an attempt to make some imperfect, sinful person fill that hole that only God can fill.

Notice that Paul also commanded the Ephesians to “walk in love.” How do you do that?! Well, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (commonly referred to as “The Love Passage”) can give you a clue. Read that through now for yourself and pay attention to the verbs. This will give you a clue as to why I hate the term “falling in love.” Love is not a “be” thing. It’s a “do” thing. It’s a choice you make. Feelings cannot sustain a long-term relationship, but acts of patience, kindness, gentleness, and acceptance can. So, step two: Walk in love. And step 3: Place your hope for fulfillment in God, who withholds no good thing from those who do what is right (Psalm 84:11). And, if in your relationships failure occurs, go back to step one…be like God.

Feelings cannot sustain a long-term relationship, but acts of patience, kindness, gentleness, and acceptance can.

Paul continues chapter 5 of Ephesians, verses 3-13, to give us a negative command (do not ­ ­ ­ ­ ____) followed by a positive command (Do this!). Here he points out some things that can spoil our relationships, and to be perfectly honest, some of these things I’ve struggled with myself. Some of these are even stronghold opportunities for Satan, wherein he can get a foothold (Eph. 4:27) and negatively influence your decisions and, in turn, your relationships for a long period of time. We’ll talk more about that in a separate discussion. In our next part, which will be Posted Feb. 23, we will look at how  marriage should work according to God.

Legitimate relationships must begin with God

Cowboys and bull riders use this verse all the time

yet it means so much more than we ever realize

By Jim Bull/Cowboys of the Cross

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Awesome! All I have to do is sit back and let God's plan happen to me and I'll be rich, successful, happy and healthy. Who could possibly ask for anything more? Oh, wait, I have to know the context of scripture? I can't assume every verse stands alone and speaks directly to me how I see fit? Matthew 4:4 But He answered, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Here Jesus clearly tells us that we cannot pick and choose the verses we like and only apply those to our lives. We must also chew on the meat of the Word; in other words, study the meaning of all the verses.

Joshua 1:8 This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to recite it day and night, so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in what ever you do. Again, we are told that it takes knowing every word and following those words to prosper and succeed.

 Now let's look back to Jeremiah 29:11. Why is this verse commonly misquoted? When we read this verse by itself it leads us to believe that God's plan is for each and every one of us to prosper and have hope and an implied great future. Yet when we read even the title of the chapter we find that Jeremiah is writing a letter to the exiled Isrealites that they are going to be punished for 70 years for their unfaithfulness to all of the Word of God. Then, after their time in exile, He is going to bring them back and let them prosper. Not quite the same thing as what we first thought, huh?

This is also stated in Jeremiah 29:4 ”This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Isreal, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.” Personally, God never carried me into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.

Jeremiah had been telling the Isrealites for 40 years of the coming judgment and the need to repent their idolatrous behavior. However, there were false prophets telling of peace and prosperity. When we are being told of great things to come by some teacher and preachers, we tend to not listen to the possible negatives that may be coming from those that would teach God's word carefully, especially if what we are doing is what we like or want to do. It was the same then as it is now and will continue to be. The Isrealites were not believing that Babylon was where the danger would come from; after all, Assyria and Egypt were a lot bigger threats at the time. This is another reason Jeremiah wasn't believed. But it was to come that Babylon became one of the greatest powers in the world and they captured the Isrealites and took them into slavery in Babylon.

If we think on this and put ourselves in their shoes, Jerusalem and its Temple have been destroyed, those not taken into slavery are leaving everything behind and leaving. Even being separated from family. Things looked really bad for them. But God sends this letter of hope and promise through Jeremiah telling them that He will bring them back after their punishment is finished and they return to Him in their hearts. For now they need to continue on as a people and continue to grow and multiply. Pretty powerful stuff considering Jeremiah is more believable now that his earlier prophecy has come to pass.

What does this have to do with Christians today? One thing that it shows us is that God really doesn't like us to be idolatrous. He was serious about that commandment (as well as the others). Another aspect we can learn from this is about God's character. It is in Psalm 62:8 that we read “Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah.” which shows God's unending love for us; that He is where we should have our hearts at all times and where we should go in prayer when the things of this world overwhelm us. Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. I don't think it can get any clearer than that. We can confidently root our faith in Him that is everlasting and unchanging.

Ephesians 2:4-5 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you been saved.”

 I hope now you understand that the bible must be read and studied to know you are using the correct verses you need to be using to strengthen your relationship with God and not wasting your time listening to false prophets that will lead you down the path to exile.

With this I would like to challenge you to take a few moments to think about areas you know you have sinned and admit that to God. Take time to be specific and ask God to help you refrain from committing these sins again. Then ask God to forgive you of those sins and to keep them behind you so that you may move forward without them. Go forth and actively seek the knowledge God spoke into the Word of the Bible.


By Jesse Horton/Cowboys of the Cross

What does a biblical marriage look like? First, we should be (not find) the right person.

We should be full of the Holy Spirit because God is the source of love (1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us). Any love apart from God is selfish love and will not sustain a relationship. Now, on the wedding day, something miraculous should happen. Two people should leave their parents’ homes and direct influence and should cleave to one another, becoming one flesh (Gen. 2:24). This means that when they have their first fight, the Mrs. doesn’t run home to her momma to talk about what a selfish, inconsiderate oaf she married; instead, she stays home and works it out with her husband. Yes, you stay and hash it out – how we do this individually is unique, but there are some broad-stroke principles that can be applied to help us understand our roles. Let’s look at Ephesians 5:22-24 for some advice from the Apostle Paul.

Now, before anyone gets all bent out of shape over my use of the “S”-word in the following paragraphs, let’s back up half a verse to 5:21 where Paul says, “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Submit is not a bad word (what were you expecting???). Here Paul tells us we should submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. We should put our spouse’s needs ahead of our own when appropriate. That’s a great way to show them how much you love them. Again, love is a “do” thing; it requires action.

So, here’s the verse most women shy away from and many men use inappropriately to be some kind of dictator in their homes. “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” In Genesis 3:16, God told Eve that her “desire will be for [her] husband.” The Hebrew word translated here as “for” often communicates the idea of “to tend to.” Here’s why that is significant: Adam was already supposed to function in a leadership role being the more experienced of the two humans because of his existence before Eve. He was with her in the garden when Satan deceived her (Gen 3:6). Now, what kind of leader was Adam to let this serpent deceive the flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone? Not much of one! He was a passive and inferior leader.

In my opinion, that’s where sin began. Sin is described as “missing the mark,” and Adam certainly missed it in his leadership of his wife. But post-fall, the curse on Eve was that she would desire to tend Adam like she tended the garden…she would try to make him what he should be. She would try to make him into the leader God created him to be…and if he wouldn’t shape up, well, she’d do it herself. But, no, no. God told her, “he will rule over you.” You see, in every military unit, there is a leader who is ultimately responsible for all those under his command. Adam was supposed to be that leader for Eve. Men, we are meant to be that leader for our wives. But, let’s address this to whom it should be addressed as the Scriptures indicate: Women – submit yourselves to the leadership of your husbands. He is the one who will be held accountable for your family…not you. Equip him to lead. Encourage him to lead. And pray for him diligently as he does so.

“We should be concerned with the spiritual welfare of our wives”

Now it’s the men’s turn. Ephesians 5:25-30 gives us a charge that cannot be ignored and makes the job of submission much easier for our wives. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.” A man who loves his wife the way Jesus loved the Church is easy to submit to.

But what does it mean to sanctify your wife? From the time we are saved (justification) we are slowly but surely being made into the image of Christ – this process is sanctification. It’s the process through which we leave behind our sinful tendencies and put on the righteousness of Christ. We should lead our wives, not only as protector and provider, but as a priest and prophet (which just means we proclaim the word of God, not that we tell the future). We should be concerned with the spiritual welfare of our wives and with covering her sin with grace. As we do the hard work of becoming the right person, we have to realize that we are “one flesh” with our wives; we should cultivate in them the same things God is cultivating in us.

Paul sums up his instructions to husbands and wives in Ephesians 5:33. YOU SHOULD ALL COMMIT THIS VERSE TO MEMORY! “Each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.” Dr. Emerson Eggerichs wrote a book called “Love and Respect” in which he writes about a situation he calls “the crazy cycle.” This is when couples get caught up in being inconsiderate of one another and it perpetuates like this: She is disrespectful to him, so he responds unlovingly toward her…so she’s motivated to disrespect him, which motivates him to be unloving. Men and women are made differently and respond differently to the same actions.

“Men feel loved by their wives when they are respected as the protector, provider, prophet and priest of their home”

Men feel loved by their wives when they are respected as the protector, provider, prophet, and priest of their home. Undermining them in any way in these areas will most often cause them to withdraw (because it’s not noble to fight with a woman).

Women, if you see your husbands withdrawing, ask yourself, “Have I disrespected him, maybe without even knowing?” And if your husband withdraws, don’t chase after him and especially don’t escalate the argument in an attempt to get him to engage – in “Man World” that’s looking for a fight, and he does not want to fight a woman. Men don’t treat other men that way unless they want it to come to blows.

Women feel connected to their husbands when husbands find ways to say, “I love you.” REMEMBER, LOVE IS A “DO” THING! We have to DO things for our wives that say, “I care about you. I appreciate you. I want to be here with you.” There are thousands of ways you can do this, and each woman is unique and will value things differently. My suggestion is to listen to your wife. If she says, “Those drapes look awful,” put aside some time, and take her shopping for drapes. If she says, “I really hate cleaning toilets,” catch her gone and clean them before she can get to it. Buy her flowers just because…it lets her know you were thinking of her and that she’s a priority in your life.

Now, one more thing about that “Crazy Cycle” thing. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us.” And Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” When you put those two together, Christ loved us first and we’re supposed to function for our wives as a type of Christ. I’d say that gives us men a pretty good indication that, if we’re on the “Crazy Cycle,” we should take the initiative and be the first to step off by loving our wives. Don’t take the stance of, “When she respects me, I’ll show her some affection.”  

Don’t be a passive husband, like Adam was. Be a man. Lead your wife. Love her like Jesus does.

Love is a ‘do’ thing–it requires action


Part SIX of our Christ-Centered Relationship Series

Catch up on what you missed by continuing to scroll below

A Cowboy of the Cross is Bible Bootcamp Postive Thinking

Is the special woman in your life important? Tell her

By Jim Bull/Cowboys of the Cross

      I finally worked up the nerve to talk to my now wife, Laura, on September 22, 1999. Just over 3 months later was New Years Eve and we, along with her roommate,  were hosting an End of the Millennium  party. Some of the girls’ closest friends were there and I had come to know and respect them. During this party, one of their friends pulled me to the side to tell me how happy she was for Laura and me; how great we were for each other and how great I was to her.

      I remember the feeling of the grin that spread across my face. The assurance, from a woman I barely knew, was a great boost to my ego but,  more importantly, made me want to do better. A little encouragement goes a long way to building relationships, your own, as well as people you know or encounter.

     Hebrews 10:24-25 says “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing,  but encouraging one another- and all the more as you see the day approaching.”

      My wife and I have been married for 16 years. In that time we have had great moments of expressing our love for each other. We have also had times of complacency, when we knew we loved each other but failed to make the effort to show it unashamedly.

     I have had times when I felt I was a failure as a husband because I knew my wife was feeling lonely and abandoned because I was wrapped up in work and not putting forth the effort to show how much I needed her; how much I loved her. I have also felt lonely, like a hired worker or a servant. It is in these times we were lacking communication and the expression of our love, not that we were ever lacking the love itself.

      Proverbs 31:28 says “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her”

     We are to tell our wives how blessed we are to have them.  Tell them all the wonderful things we see in them. Not just their outer beauty but,  tell them of the great care they take of us. Tell her you see her hard work and that you appreciate the effort she puts in daily to take care of the family and household. Be sure to acknowledge her being a lady so she will continue to be a lady.

     After all this time together, after all the changes we have both made with our interests, habits and looks, we are still blessed to have each other and work to acknowledge each other's need for each other.  My advice to anyone in a relationship or looking for that special someone in the future is to not be afraid of stepping outside your comfort zone when telling that special someone how you feel about them. Also,  we need to not be ashamed to tell friends that we see the way they are with their spouse or girlfriend.  Be supportive in the relationships of people you are around. You never know when you will say something that they need to hear to motivate a fresh start to a stale relationship.  

     1 Peter 4:8  tells us “Above all, love each other deeply,  because love covers a multitude of sins.”


Even the Bible says to keep fights off social media

By Scott Hilgendorff/Cowboys of the Cross

Depending on which circles you run in the rodeo and bull riding communities, several of you that I know personally have noticed how 'ugly' it's been lately, particularly on social media. A lot of us have been experiencing everything from relationship meltdowns to slanderous rumors being made very public on social media. When it's bad enough for people to comment on it to me by phone, you know it's bad. But we can do something about it....While this will focus on marriage and dating relationships, it easily applies to all situations.

      You just caught your wife or girl friend cheating on you. Or at least, that's what you think has happened and it's the second time a buddy has told you she's been hanging out with that guy at the bar while you've been at a rodeo. You post it up for all your buddies to see on your Facebook page because, well, you've had enough and want her to get the message. Truth or not, you've just humiliated her and don't care because you're tired of being done that way.

      Your girlfriend is tired of you always putting rodeo first. Even though her birthday is next Tuesday, you just entered a bull riding on what she is calling her birthday weekend and have ruined the plans she has for going out to eat and see a movie, something you almost never have time to do together. She won't go with you because she feels like you guys have been gone every weekend the past two months and she's angry. When you get home at 3 a.m. Sunday morning from the six-hour drive, you find she's gone to spend the night at her parents' house because, whenever she's mad at you, her mother provides a good listening ear and will always be on her side.

      Although the first situation is more obviously going to escalate the conflict, neither of these scenarios sees the couple working together on their problems and both will only serve to make the situations worse. Yet both are common approaches we've all seen or experienced.

 1. Don't take it to Facebook or your friends

         and don't run home to momma.

      One of the worst courses of action you can take to resolving a conflict is to take it public. It fuels gossip, it leads to people giving ungodly advice and it even leads to other girls reaching out to comfort you or to try to give you what they think you're missing and, well, guess where that leads: at best to accusations you're cheating and at worst, to actually having an affair or otherwise crossing lines that hurt your real relationship.

      When there's conflict in the church, we're taught that the first step to resolving it is to address it with the person we are in conflict with, privately.

     Matthew 18:15-20 teaches about church-based conflict resolution but the very first instruction we're given in verse 15 is this: If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.  

     The remainder of the verses teach how to sort out a conflict through the church, with steps involved elders and the congregation, but for these circumstances, we can take and apply from this approach to conflict the seriousness of working it out ourselves.

     For a couple who is married, Ephesians 5:31 gets emphasized here (Part 2 and 3 of this series looks at all the Ephesians verses about husbands and wives). “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

     What you do needs to be done together from the decisions you make to the way you resolve conflict. Our parents are no longer the influencers in our lives as, in marriage, we now depend on each other.

      For those who are still dating, remember, the main point of being together, for Christians, is to find someone you intend to marry so when the conflict arises, while you have not taken the step that fulfills this verse, the same seriousness could also be applied in how much you care to resolve the conflict without involving others.

     As we understand from other parts of the verses in Ephesians, the man's role in a relationship is to lead your wife into an understanding that it's not okay to involve her parents or friends in your conflict (and you must not do the same). If you aren't sure what to do in your situation and need counsel, seek the advice of your pastor or an elder/deacon in your church, or if you don't have a home church  yet, seek the counsel of someone you know is mature in his faith and capable of both keeping your situation confidential and being impartial. Be willing to hear hard truths about your own part in the conflict and be willing to...


     Forgiveness is more than telling the person, “It's okay, I'm over it.” It means letting go and never bringing it up again. When we are forgiven of our sins through our saving faith in Jesus Christ, God no longer sees our sin. It doesn't matter what we have done in the past and, while the Bible is clear that we shouldn't see our salvation as a blank slate to continue sinning, it doesn't matter what mistakes we might make in the future, God has forgiven it all and only sees us as righteous—made perfect before Him.

     Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted,forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

     If we have been so completely forgiven and know that despite our sins and mistakes, Paul is telling us that God loves us enough to give us eternal life with Him in Heaven, how can we not forgive others for whatever they have done against us.  In the case of our wives or girlfriends, how can we not forgive them for whatever it is that made us angry.

     God extended grace without limits to us. How can we not do the same when our wife or girlfriend offends us or makes us angry? Jesus teaches us to have limitless forgiveness through a conversation with the disciple, Peter.

     Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.

     While Jesus is giving a specific number here, he is simply giving a strong illustration that we are to continue to forgive as much as is needed. That's how big God's forgiveness is of our sins that otherwise separate us from Him without a saving faith in Jesus.

 3. When you argue,

    be careful what you say and how you say it

      Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

     Guys, being tenderhearted doesn't mean being walked over, but there are right ways to approach a situation. We all know what happens when we give police attitude when being pulled over—what could be a warning ends up being a ticket or a ride in the back of a police car. In an argument with your wife or girlfriend, it gets just as ugly.

      But if we work on staying calm and focus on what Paul is saying in Ephesians about keeping unity i  the church, unity can be kept in the home or relationship as well. Whatever the disagreement is about, if we stop and think about these verses we can use that as a pause to calm ourselves, ask God for help staying calm and then approach the situation with kindness. You can be encouraging to a person while telling them something is a bad idea. You can be polite and assure the person you love or care for them and that's why you want to just talk out the circumstances you are wanting to see changed. You can walk away from the disagreement without making threats or keeping a father from his child in the malice Paul tells us to take away. You can decide not to treat each other poorly and find a way to disagree while communicating in a way that builds the other person up rather than most people's default position, to tear a person down.

     Jesus does this all the time—he turns it all upside down on how we want to respond or normally will approach a situation and gives us a better way that results in helping someone grow to be a more Christ-like person.

      You can accomplish all these approaches with time and practice and a true understanding of the popular rodeo and bull riding verse,

     Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.



     My name is Cliff McDonald and I just wanted to tell you the story of my life. I rodeoed here in the NorthWest way back in the 60s riding bareback and bull. I went to church once in a while but was not big on it. I am retired now and about 5 years ago a friend of mine passed away and there was a celebration of her life at a cowboy church. I went to that and as I walked into the building I just had funny feeling in my whole body. I went back to that church again the next Sunday just to kind of check it out and it just felt right.        I have been going ever since then and three years ago this Easter I was baptized and it felt so good. I was 73 years old and now I know what people say when they say God is with them.

      I thank you for listening to me and wish you the best.

                     Your friend. Cliff

A special letter

we received

God can change our lives any time, anywhere


 By Scott Hilgendorff/Cowboys of the Cross

We've all admitted that even Christian relationships struggle but that the bulk of the relationship examples we see in the rodeo and bull riding industry are not built around Biblical principals. As a result, there's a wide range of problems and consequences that come out of our relationships and in this particular teaching series, that's meant that we've been faced with a lot of “dos” and “don'ts”.

 If we're not careful, we can find ourselves feeling pretty beat up or like we're not measuring up.

 That's not the point of all this.

 The point of the series is to get our hearts on Jesus and pursue our relationships in a way that keeps him in the center of it through understanding the Bible's teachings.

 And a key teaching to understand is grace, a major component of our salvation.

 Our sin, any sin at all, separates us from God who judges and condemns sin. We can't enter Heaven through our sin. Jesus came to die on the cross in place of our sins so that by having a saving faith that he was the Son of God, lived here, died here and rose again to live eternally with God in Heaven, we also could be saved. Through Christ's sacrifice, we are given God's grace. Instead of being condemned to Hell for our sin, we are given eternal life in Heaven with God, our Father by simply repenting of our sin and asking for forgiveness through that belief in who Jesus was and who Jesus is.  Nothing else we do can earn it. Nothing we do can make God take it away. Jesus died so that we could freely receive God's grace through his sacrifice on the cross.

 In Romans 3:20-24, the apostle Paul shows us some of this:   Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God痴 sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.  21  But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.  22  This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile,  23  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  24  and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

 In the Old Testament, the people of Israel followed the Law of Moses; a strict set of rules they had to follow including complicated sacrifices to atone for their sin in order to be righteous, in good standing, with God. Now, with Christ having made that final sacrifice to atone for our sins, the law becomes something that helps us understand what our sin is, but obeying it can do nothing to restore us with God.  Paul also shows us that this sacrifice was no longer just to cover the people of Israel (the Jews) but everyone else (the gentiles). Every single one of us sins and that keeps us from God but thanks to God's grace, we can be saved.

 That means through true repentance and a saving faith in Jesus, we can be forgiven our sins and no mistakes we've made in the past can keep us from eternity with God. No children we've had out of wedlock, not wives we've divorced because we decided we didn't love them anymore, not sex with ten different girls from the bar, not cheating on a wife or girlfriend, not meddling in our ex-girlfriend's lives by telling lies because the breakup was so bad--just some of the mistakes we've made along the way—can separate us because of God's grace.

 Now, two things: that doesn't mean we get to continue to sin and live how we please and, because of there is no way to measure how enormous and endless God's grace is for us, how can we not give that to others such as our wives or girlfriends when they do mess up and disappoint or make us angry (and women, the same for the men in your lives).

 Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

 Paul is telling us, and further in the passage goes into much greater detail, that God's freely given gift of grace does not give us permission to just continue sinning however we want so that there can be even more grace given. It's been given to us once and forever, but if we have truly repented of our sin and been saved through Christ's sacrifice, we no longer will have a desire to live sinful lives. And remember, there is a difference between intentionally setting out to sin and making a mistake. Even though God now sees a saved believer as flawless and perfect, we actually aren't perfect but undergoing the process known as sanctification—becoming more and more like Christ. But we're still going to make mistakes and fail or commit sins that we don't even understand yet are sins as we begin to learn more and more about what the Bible teaches. In those mistakes, we're still forgiven through God's grace, we just aren't granted permission to live intentionally sinful lives.

 Whatever kind of life you are living in this moment, Jesus died on the cross for you, just the same as me. This can be the moment you walk away from your sin and turn you life over to Jesus as Lord and Savior. This can be the moment God is reaching out to you with His gift of grace.

 For those who have received it, the challenge now is to give it to others, starting with those closest to us like our wives and girlfriends.

Grace: we need to be reminded of what that is when we struggle