finding joy instead of chasing happiness

Chasing Dreams, Chasing God Part 5 Are you chasing happiness or experiencing joy?

By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross

One of the most common pressures on us in our culture is the pursuit of happiness. We’re bombarded with advertising pushing us to buy products and take trips to make us happy. We’re taught to pursue anything in our lives that will make us happy from pot and partying as we see as more states legalize recreational marijuana, as if alcohol wasn’t enough. We see opiode overdoses becoming a leading cause of death as we chase a bigger high. We feel unhappy in a marriage because it was more work than we expected so we chase an affair or dump the marriage to live a single life again because we thought that was what would make us happy.

Chasing our dreams fits right into the pursuit of happiness. When we’re chasing our dreams with our eyes set on ourselves, like those selfish motives James talked about in Part 4 in the series, and we think winning that gold buckle is what will end up making us happy. Then our sights get set on the next biggest championship and finally the PBR. But what comes after we get that buckle? What makes us happy?

The Bible doesn’t promise us happiness. In fact, it promises us trials, struggles and pain. Those are the consequences of the sin that Adam and Eve brought in the world when they chose to disobey God and eat that forbidden fruit. They traded perfect happiness for the temptation of sin and now we all live with those consequences.

Jesus himself tells us that we’re going to face struggles.

John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

But he also tells us not to worry. His death on the cross has overcome the sin that causes us to face struggles. In this world, we’re going to face suffering but in the next, we face a perfect life in Heaven if we repent of our sins and ask Jesus to forgive them. For God to be a just God, sin has to be punished, but Jesus took that punishment so that God could see us as clean and perfect, fit to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

And James brings us to what we need to pursue instead of happiness—joy!

James 1: 2-4 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

When we face a struggle, like being broke, injured and not being able to pay a doctor’s bill, never mind entry fees when our physical therapy is over, James tells us to actually take joy in that struggle. Why? Because God will use it to work out something better in us—to shape us and make us more like Christ.

Joy is basically a Biblical opposite to happiness. It’s considered a fruit of the Spirit which is a characteristic that grows in us when we’re saved through that faith and forgiveness found in Jesus.

Cowboy Poetry

Cowboys of the Cross

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

PBR Bull Rider Daniel Tinsman from Indiana praying on his own after Cowboy Church


Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures forever.  1 Chronicles 16:34

Your stories of faith are getting attention and helping spread the gospel.

Christian cowboy Steward Black is familiar with the importance of cowboy church at rodeos and bull ridings. 

Praise God, YOUR stories of faith are having impact. With The 700 Club being the latest to reach out to Cowboys of the Cross, your testimonies are getting some pretty cool attention and being used to help share the gospel and encourage other believers across the country.
Just this week both The 700 Club and Harmony Hill Baptist Church in New Matamoras, Ohio contacted us about testimonies you’ve shared with us. The church wants to use former bull rider Stewart Black’s video testimony to share with students at the end of the week at their cowboy-themed vacation Bible school. The 700 Club is interested in Trey’s story of recovery after not being expected to walk again and his salvation through Jesus during his recovery. The 700 Club is a news and interview program that has run for decades on the Christian Broadcasting Network. 
While I’d love it if more of you would engage with the devotions and teaching series we put on the site each month, it’s pretty exciting that it’s your testimonies, stories of how you came to faith, that are read the most on the site. The old version of the site had Google tracking on it to know the testimonies were the most read parts of the site and I have no reason to believe that’s changed.
When the website was under redesign and there weren’t new testimonies being posted, I even got a phone call from a cop in Louisiana wanting to know when there would be more. Once he found the website, he would read through a testimony or two on a break at work and be encouraged by them. That was encouragement outside the Cowboys for Cops initiative. 
Your stories of how you came to a saving faith in Jesus or how you have seen God working in your life can serve as an encouragement to others. The site is here to both teach and encourage the cowboy community through content that is written and prepared by people who understand your way of life and the unique challenges you face. It’s 100 per cent about the Great Commission—pointing people to the gospel of Jesus Christ and making disciples (teaching and equipping you to live out your faith and helping you to grow more like Jesus.)
Your testimonies are my favorite part of the site. As a former journalist, I could interview and write them for you but I’ve found for more, it’s a great growth opportunity to try to sit down and write it out yourselves. Plus, my feeling on it is this—it’s YOUR story, not mine, so I’d rather you put it in your words so those reading it hear your own voice. I’ll help you sort out your thoughts, but I think the stories have so much more impact when they come straight from you.
If you’ve got a story to share about how God has worked in your life or about how you came to a saving faith in Jesus Christ, I would love to hear from you and include it on the site.

New stories and devotions every other Thursday

In all your ways...

In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths — Proverbs 3:6
A Cowboy of the Cross believes God comes first and strive to follow His leading from a desire that comes from the knowledge of the cost of our salvation, paid for by Jesus Christ through is death on the cross. Through a saving and repentant faith in Jesus and the knowledge of his resurrection, we know God has forgiven our sins and will take us home to Heaven when our time here is done. Through God’s grace, we’ll get through the mistakes we make and grow more like Christ with study of Scripture, time in prayer and learning to hear God and following the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Meet our Teachers / Preachers and Site Contributors

Scott Hilgendorff

Scott heads up Cowboys of the Cross, a ministry dedicated to bringing cowboy church to rodeos and bull ridings across North America but with a focus on discipleship. The ministry evolved out of Riding for Christ Ministries, the name which Scott operated under for more...

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James and Jenn Douma

Hey everyone, my name is James Douma. I have been involved with the rodeo for the past several years. I am a full time firefighter in Ontario during the week and ride bucking horses on the weekend. I am married to an amazing woman named Jenn and together we have a...

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Michael Damien Moore

Michael Damien Moore is a bareback rider from Athens, TN and the nephew of rodeo producer Mike Moore. Originally from Alaska, Michael has started leading cowboy church, largely at rodeos in the 'south'.  The hat he is wearing in the photo was his father's. You'll see...

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Josh McCarthy

Howdy! My name’s Josh McCarthy and I compete in saddle bronc riding in the PRCA and I’m the youngest of five from northeastern Wisconsin.  I grew up in a Christian home and went to church every Sunday. I accepted Christ into my life when I was little but I didn’t...

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Jim Bull

I grew up always praying before meals and hearing that our friends that passed were in heaven. However, I never felt I knew who God was and definitely didn't have a relationship with Him. I lived my life thinking if I seemed like a good person, then I must be a good...

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Jesse Horton

I was 'raised Christian.' I can't remember a time before I was 10 years old that I wasn't a church-goer, though I remember several years of my teens where my family didn't attend church. I confessed my sin and my need for Christ when I was eight years old, but I do...

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