A treasure in heaven means more than a buckle on a shelf

A treasure in heaven means more than a buckle on a shelf

Contestants at a weekly bull riding in Van Wert, Ohio (Hat Creek Ranch) decided who would get this buckle based on bull riders who demonstrated fruit of the Spirit in their life.

Chasing God and Gold Buckle Dreams Part 8

By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross

Once you’ve chased down that dream and that gold buckle is on your belt or in a case with some others, you now have a perfect, modern day example of what Jesus was telling us in Matthew.

Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

A buckle understandably becomes something we treasure. You worked hard to earn it. You had adventures along the way with stories to tell your grandchildren when they ask about that buckle on the shelf. All those are good things but we have to look at what we value more.

The Bible has much to say about idols. Many of the descriptions involve protecting the Israelites from following the false gods of the cultures all around them but an idol is anything we put before God. If we’re chasing that buckle, chasing that relationship or chasing that bigger truck, harder than we are chasing our relationship with Jesus, then we likely are dealing with idolatry.

John 5:21 Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.

In this verse, John has just finished explaining who we are in Christ and how important it is to know we’re separate from the rest of the world; that we are following something that is good and true, moving away from our sinful natures.

He then kindly warns us to stay away from idols that could take our focus away from God.

That doesn’t mean we don’t pursue our gold buckle dreams. What Jesus is telling us in Matthew is that everything we can earn here or gain here is temporary and can be taken away. Our time here is short and our eternity in Heaven, where we truly belong, is where our focus should be.

If our hearts are on God and not what we’re trying to accomplish, what we work toward can easily become something that honors Him instead of an idol or something that will only give us temporary comfort or pleasure in this life.

By focusing our attention on God and looking for ways to glorify Him in our pursuits, our hearts on Him and what is yet to come in heaven and in that way, we’re storing up treasures in heaven. When we’re seeking God, everything else falls in line behind that. Nothing can become an idol and everything we do becomes about God.

Sometimes that might mean what we pursue changes. If something is becoming an idol in our life, if we can’t find a way to turn it toward God, then it becomes something we might need to let go. However our dreams might change or our paths might be altered, when our focus is on God and our treasure in heaven, then we will be at peace, even joyful, with the changes in our lives.

Success is a way to glorify God

Success is a way to glorify God

Christian Bull Rider Clete Bontrager says a cowboy prayer after cowboy church at the SEBRA bull riding in Marshall, Michigan, produced by Lost Nations Rodeo Company and Shiloh Walden.

Christian Bull Rider Clete Bontrager says a cowboy prayer after cowboy church at the SEBRA bull riding in Marshall, Michigan, produced by Lost Nations Rodeo Company and Shiloh Walden.

By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross

When you’re chasing your gold buckle dreams, do you see God as a means to success or is glorifying Him your purpose?

The answer will tell you a lot about your relationship with Him and changing your focus could bring about success in an unexpected way. Even what the world measures as failure or loss can be success when it points others toward a saving faith in Jesus.

Whatever we do, win or lose, it’s going to bring God glory, even if we never fully see how the pieces fit together.

Ephesians 1:11-12 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

There’s so much teaching out there that overlooks the what’s in the Bible about struggles and the purpose they serve or the presence of sin that causes the struggles to exist in the first place. A few verses out of context can give us the idea that God will give us our heart’s desire. The only way for that to be true is if our heart’s are focused on Him and His desires for us.

When we seek God, and it’s His plan we’re following, he WILL give us what we ask because it is what he wants for us to begin with.

A verse that often has people thinking God will make wishes come true, suddenly means that yes, of course God will give us what we seek when it’s Him and His glory that we’re seeking.

Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

If a person with a terminal cancer diagnosis demonstrates joy and perseverance and points out to others it’s because of his or her faith in God and understanding of the Bible, they can find themselves at peace with their situation. It doesn’t mean they don’t pray for and believe that God could miraculously heal them. Sometimes that’s part of His plan. I’ve seen a bull rider go from expecting to die from lung cancer to the spreading disease completely disappearing between specialist appointments to talk about how they might extend his time here. I’ve seen a barrel man’s kidneys fail and the poison build in his body to the point they were preparing to move him to hospice to die, but suddenly find them working again and home from the hospital a few days later. And I’ve listened at church to the story of a young man in the congregation who had a disease that slowly suffocated him to death, sharing until the very end his trust and love for God.

Romans 8:18 I Consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Paul is teaching through this section about the security we have in our salvation and that no matter what we go through here or how hard it might be, God will use us to reveal Himself. When we understand our time here is short compared to eternity and when we understand that our eternal home in Heaven is perfect, no matter what we go through here, we can be encouraged by knowing it can help others find their way home too.

Our gold buckle dreams are worth pursuing in our time here when God is at the center of them and we know He’s using us to bring Him glory, but the rewards we might gain here pale in comparison to what is coming in Heaven.

TESTIMONY — Kody Rinehart, Rienzi, Mississippi — It isn’t about being worthy

TESTIMONY — Kody Rinehart, Rienzi, Mississippi — It isn’t about being worthy

I grew up in a Christian home with Godly parents; my mother and father were the youth leaders at our church at time.  Around five or six years old, my mind was wandering and I decided I wanted to get saved, I remember even standing at the top of my stairs and saying in my head “go ahead, you will get to be in water.”  I walked downstairs and talked to my daddy for about 30 minutes about being saved. After we talked and he explained several things that I did not understand, I said a prayer and went back to bed. 

A few weeks later a few of my cousins and I were baptized at Hinkle Baptist Church. I held on to that thought and prayer that I was saved and did not have to worry about a thing anymore. When I was in the 7th grade at the FCA Kick-off youth service, I “rededicated” my life, the very next year at the same event in 8th grade I did the same thing, “rededicate.”  While playing football and taking classes together, I became friends with a boy named Drew and he invited me to church at Oakland Baptist Church one Sunday.  I fell in love with it! Oakland had so many chances and openings for me to grow and learn. I was able to be involved with people my age that loved Christ, I did not have that at Hinkle because my brother, a couple of cousins, and I were the only youth and we did not do anything.  When it came to events or activities, I was signed in and ready for everything, even church camp.

Being my first church camp, I was nervous, excited, and ready for the week! On the Monday that we left, something happened to me that, in my mind I thought, would ruin my first church camp.  I was depressed and upset, but tried to stay positive the best I could and open to what God had for me; little did I know that He was using it to soften my heart. God had already started working and on Tuesday night during church group time, our youth minister, Bro. Jerry, passed around pieces of paper and told us to write down what God had been talking to us about that week. 

As soon as he had those words out of his mouth, I knew what I had to write down, “salvation.” The next day after recreation and lunch, a friend and I sat and talked about his home life. After about thirty minutes of talking, we went to find Bro. Jerry so my friend could talk to him and get some counseling. I sat, listened, and started to cry because I had taken so much for granted with my family.  After they were done talking, Bro. Jerry excused my friend so now it would just be Bro. Jerry, me, and the presence of the Holy Spirit. He told me that he saw what I had wrote and asked what I had meant, I told him I do not know but I that I do not feel like I am saved. He led me down Romans road and after a little bit of thinking, crying, and talking, on June 13, 2007, at 12:40 pm, I gave my heart to Christ.  

Fast forward to two years later, to 16 years-old and being a leader at church camp instead of a student, God began working again. 

There were several small things He started showing me, but one of the biggest things was the door He shut for me to being a Veterinarian.  I love animals and being around them all the time, thus, I wanted to be a Veterinarian. I began working at a vet clinic in January of 2009, and I hated it with a passion so that opened up to the question of, “what am I going to do now?”  While at the church camp as a leader God started talking to me but I did not know what it was. One night I even questioned my salvation because I could not figure it out, but I could go back to the time, place, and event of my salvation so I knew that was not it.  One night during worship service, the camp showed a video of a student that went to Kenya for a summer before his senior year. He loved it and felt strongly about going back. He prayed, talked it over with family and his pastor, and read scripture. God showed him the verse of Matthew 10:39, and after He read that verse I felt God calling me. 

The guy went on to give up his freshman year of college to be a missionary in Kenya for a year, he answered God’s call. I found the verse in my Bible and read it time and time again. After service, I talked to the camp minister that week and we prayed it over. Later that night after church group time, I finally was able to talk to Bro. Jerry about what God had been talking to me about.  I began having second thoughts because I felt so unworthy to do this, but Bro. Jerry said that he had a teacher from Blue Mountain College to tell him, “If we feel worthy enough to do anything, we should just load up and go home.” Once he said this, I knew there was nothing holding me back to surrender. On June 5, 2009, I got down on my knees and prayed to God that I surrender my life to ministry.  Bro. Jerry had been there from my salvation to my surrender to me graduating, he has helped me so much in my growth and counseling me with decisions that I needed to make. By having a family that loved me, let me go to all the church events, and to move to a church where God was calling me to be at, they helped me to grow and answer His call. By having a minister that loved students and helped me when I needed him, helped me in leading me to Christ and counseling me about ministry.  By having a church that is in God’s will, showed me how to be involved and be in His will also. All three of these have had a spiritual influence in my life and I am thankful for each one.  

At the present time, I am trying to answer what Christ has for me and do what His word says.  Around June of 2013 He laid something on my heart about beginning a ministry to reach my fellow rodeo friends that I am around every weekend.  The first Thursday of August, Redeemed Riders made its debut at my house in front of my barn with 8 people. Redeemed Riders is a Bible study/Worship service and a practice for rough stock riders in rodeo.  We meet at 7 pm at my house; have the service, then get on bucking machines at my home. We have had as many as 24 rough stock riders and now having service in a corn crib at on our property. I have gotten to watch cowboy after cowboy come to Redeemed Riders, grow in Christ, and be so excited about the Lord and riding.  It encourages me to see the cowboys coming back every week and having feedback from several of them. I have also just recently took on a job at a Baptist church my area being the youth minister. I get to teach student about the Bible on Wednesday and Saturday nights. God is using me to reach the cowboys and the youth at that church.  I am so thankful He has chosen me to do this.

TESTIMONY — Darryl Skeeter Spaulding, Ringold, GA — Toughest times can lead to greatest growth

TESTIMONY — Darryl Skeeter Spaulding, Ringold, GA — Toughest times can lead to greatest growth

Christian cowboy Daryl Skeeter Spaulding

Christian cowboy Daryl Skeeter Spaulding

I first heard the Gospel in the summer of 1978 between my junior and senior year of high school. My brother and I spent the summer with my brother -in-law and sister [Don and Ruth Ann) to frame houses with Don. They are believers in Jesus and we heard the Gospel from them and others that summer. Before we went home to finish school I had made a profession of faith in Christ as Savior for salvation.
Over the years since that summer there has been an ebb and flow in my walk with Jesus. Some of the most meaningful times in my walk have been on the mission field in Brazil and Israel years years ago which still bring fond memories. Some of the toughest and trying times have been some of the sweetest for growing and depending on Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
I want my testimony to the faithfulness of Jesus to be the focus of any and all parts of my life.
Jesus is who He said He is. I want even more to this day to know Him in the power of His resurrection.
John 3:14-16 explains it all. Take time and read it today.
In Christ Name, Chaplain Skeeter Spaulding with Cowboys For Christ
Chasing Gold Buckle Dreams Part 6 — Losing can be winning

Chasing Gold Buckle Dreams Part 6 — Losing can be winning

You don't always have to have an ace to win. A failure or loss can glorify God or move His plan forward and THAT becomes a real success.

You don’t always have to have an ace to win. A failure or loss can glorify God or move His plan forward and THAT becomes a real success.

By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross

If you ain’t first, you’re last. If you’re not winning, you’re losing. Second place is just the first loser. These are de-motivational comments from movies and those with a sense of humor. However, we put the same pressure on ourselves without realizing it when we use motivational speak to build ourselves up without understanding some simple Biblical truths.

We know that God only wants what’s good for us but what’s good will serve His plans. When we start chasing dreams without God, we can find ourselves off track and feeling like we’re failing when we’re simple focused on the wrong object: our gold buckle dream and not God’s plan. Sometimes it’s the same. Sometimes it isn’t.

We know that when we focus on God’s plan, it can take us away from our original dreams and set us on something even bigger because it becomes chasing something that glorifies God and not ourselves.

We know that sometimes our gold buckle dream is exactly what God wants us pursuing because His plan it to use that to glorify Him and that His glory gets shown not by whether or not we win that gold buckle but by how we handle it when we win OR lose. We know that losing is okay.

So when our circumstances don’t seem to be going the way we want them to, what do we do?

A bigger understanding of Philippians 4:13 is a good place to start.

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

Some of you have it on t-shirts, some of you have it on tattoos and many athletes know it by heart.

We use the Bible this way to motivate us to succeed and let ourselves think that Christ will help us win at whatever we put our minds to.

But by doing that, we miss what God could really do in our lives when we understand the verse.

To do that, we have to look at the rest of the verses around it and understand what’s going on.

Philippians 4:10-13 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Paul has lived some big extremes from being a wealthy person people feared to a prisoner with nothing, facing death. Paul wrote this letter while in prison. But through it all, he is saying in these verses that he understands how to be content in whatever circumstance God places him. He knows that through Christ, it isn’t that he can do whatever he sets his mind to, it’s that he can get through whatever circumstance he’s in including when it doesn’t feel like it’s going well.

Where pursuing happiness instead of experiencing joy can leave us feeling discontent and unhappy when something goes wrong, learning to be content can help us find joy whether we buck off a bull or have set an arena record in team roping. We can be on a winning streak but still feel discontentment because there’s always another goal to achieve or look to someone else that’s accomplished or succeeded at more. We can learn to be content when we put God first and understand when He’s the biggest part of the dream we’re chasing, it’s okay to lose.

When we use just Philippians 4:13 as a motivational boost to succeed, we’re using it to follow our own dreams and not God’s plan for us and we cheat ourselves out of the good a better understanding of those verses can do for us.

When we use the verse in its whole context, we can learn a skill that helps us succeed at what God has planned for us. It becomes about Him and not us and understanding how to be content helps us face the challenges of winning AND losing. Losing isn’t bad. When our dreams are focused on what He wants for us, we can see how God turns what feels like a failure into a win for His glory. As we learn the difference between chasing happiness or experiencing joy, our joy can grow when we know the part we’re playing in God’s plan and that win or failure can both feel amazing.

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