By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross
There was a weekly bull riding that used be held on Tuesday nights that I would get to go and lead cowboy church at. A young man there knew everyone, never entered but always talked about the other events he had been at and won.
It was explained to me pretty quickly that he had some kind of social disorder and was making it up. The details he gave and his knowledge was incredible as he would describe being right at one of the entry-level PBR events with JB Mauney and others who, at the time, were working their way up.
Most people just went along with it and would let him tell his stories and occasionally someone knew would come along. It became a problem when he was giving advice to one of the new guys on how to take a bull that he really didn’t know anything about. That guy was pretty upset that no one had warned him not to listen.
It can be easy to be fooled but even easier when we’re being told ideas we want to hear. For example, who wants to hear Bible verses that tell us to expect hardship to go along with being a Christian? We especially don’t want to hear that when we’re struggling and want encouragement.
In what was just that, an encouraging part of Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he warns that as Timothy is out there trying to teach communities about Jesus, others are out there delivering messages that sound good but cause people to miss the important truths—truths like how to come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. Worse, Paul points out people will put effort into seeking out what they want to hear.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
This warning came to Timothy almost 2,000 years ago yet in our culture today, there is all kinds of false and bad teaching to be found. It’s profitable to only give people what they want to hear and avoid teaching verses, for example, about sacrifice and denying ourselves.
We have to take time to discern what’s right or wrong and real but when something sounds so close to the truth or has elements of the truth in it, how can you tell when it’s coming from a church or ministry?
Well, we have our Bibles for that and can test anything we’re being taught against Scripture. If you’re still not sure, you can ask others that you know and trust.
And the more time we spend learning real Biblical truths, we can still find all kinds of hope and encouragement in the God’s promises to us in the Old Testament or the messages of a perfect eternity found in Jesus Christ.
By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross
If you’ve never been involved in the industries before, then you decide to ‘get into’ horses or ‘get into’ rodeo, it changes you.
You suddenly start wearing different clothes, you learn new terms and expressions that go with what you’re learning about the horse, I mean, not everyone knows what withers are or what a honda is on a rope. The people you spend time with change as you surround yourself with others who share your interest that you want to learn from or ride or rodeo with.
Friends and family will notice the changes when horses or rodeo become important to you and begin making it more a part of your every day life.
When we become Christians, it’s the same thing, only more.
It isn’t an interest we’re engaged in, it’s a complete transformation. Once we have a saving faith in Jesus, God no longer sees us for our sins that He must judge. Instead, He sees us through the sacrifice Jesus made, as perfect, extended grace for the mistakes He knows we will continue to make.
Ephesians 4:22-24 To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
There’s lots that can be unpacked in these two verses but we’re going to just focus on what Paul is saying in his letter about being the new self.
God no longer sees the old self that Paul refers to. The old self is corrupt and condemned. The new self is seen as righteous and holy. Really simplified, it means we’re now seen as perfect. This is one of the verses where we come to understand this is how God sees us once we are saved.
Again, it doesn’t mean we are perfect, it means God sees us that way despite mistakes we might continue to make. We start a process of becoming ‘sanctified’ which means being made more like Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.
We understand that it’s through the Holy Spirit that we begin to change by what’s described as ‘the sanctifying work of the Spirit.”
Our friends and family might start seeing changes in us over night or gradually. For the person who decides to take up horsemanship or team roping, they choose to pursue those interests but as a Christian, the Spirit begins to work out those changes in us. We start to study our Bibles to learn more about how to be more like Jesus and to understand everything God has for us in His word. We connect with other believers we find at work or in rodeo or the sales barn and we find ourselves learning and spending time with them.