Success or failure, God will use it all

Success or failure, God will use it all

By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26

It’s ok to fail.

You have goals you want to achieve. People in the rodeo and bull riding industry have unique sets of goals within the sport on top of the goals everyone sets for their lives. There’s a finals you want to qualify for, a time you want to beat, a bull you want to win a rematch with, a buckle you want to earn or a horse you’re training with goals for him.

When we don’t meet those goals, we can sometimes get frustrated or discouraged. It leads some people to quit. But if we look at our goals through a Biblical perspective, we don’t have to ever get discouraged, especially when we put God in front of them.

But here’s the kicker–that might change your goals completely. Once you look at how your choices can glorify and honor God or can carry out the Great Commission–that assignment God gave us all to share the gospel and teach and equip other believers–our goals or the reason for achieving them can easily be changed. That doesn’t mean you suddenly don’t try to qualify for a finals, but you find yourself putting God first in that journey.

Suddenly, the pressure is gone. You might even fail to achieve to accomplish what you set out to do, but the biggest accomplishment turns out to be how God used you in the process. Instead of being discouraged, you look back on the steps taken to achieve the goal, so the way that God was glorified in your choices and actions, and you find yourself feeling good about the experience.

Our failures can be God’s biggest success through how others can see Christ in us by how we handle a failure or how God uses our struggles with sin and temptation to help us. “My flesh and my heart may fail.”

Fail or succeed in our own minds, it’s His plan that will be carried out perfectly using us, His imperfect creation. Sometimes His plan is to let us fail to teach us and help us grow and sometimes that’s going to come out of us struggling with sin. As strong as we want to think we are, it can take real strength to admit how easily we let ourselves be tempted into sin…. That we weren’t strong enough on our own. We aren’t. That’s ok. Because God will be the strength we need to overcome what feels like a failure or a struggle with sin. And God’s grace will cover us when we mess it up. His love and grace is bigger than any sin or failure we feel we’ve experienced.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good

By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.
His love endures forever.’ Psalm 136:1

God’s love endures through all things and each of all 26 verses of this Psalm end with the words, “His love endures forever.” Each verse offers a reason the Psalmist is thankful, many of the reasons relating to all the lengths God went to in rescuing the Israelites from Egypt and taking them to the Promised Land. He also thanks God for everything He created.

Much like when families and friends go around the table describing what they are thankful for at Thanksgiving dinner or what gets shared in prayer before the meal, the Psalmist gives thanks for everything God has provided.

But in the Psalm, he reminds us of just how big God’s love for us is. It’s endless and will never stop. Never.

The Thanksgiving season is here and gives us an occasion to pay special attention to what God has provided for us but just as His love for us is always present, our thanks is always present when we realize what God did for us out of His love–sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. Out of that sacrifice comes a chance to repent of our sin and confess Jesus as Lord and Savior so that we can be forgiven our sins and made right before God. Without that forgiveness, that God freely offers those who ask for it, we face God’s judgement and punishment of our sin. His love is unending, but what God won’t tolerate is sin. It has to be judged, but in what is more than fair, God loves us enough that He sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sin. Through the realization of what he did for us and the salvation we can freely receive from that act of love simply through believing, repenting and asking to be saved, we become naturally thankful to God.

1Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Paul reminds us in his letter to the Thessalonians that we need to give thanks for everything. Knowing that God’s plan is perfect, that even means finding a way to be thankful for what we don’t think is fair or good or right the way we measure it. It means being thankful for all that He has given us that we love and take joy in, but also realizing that if everything works out to the goodness God intends, our own struggles can be part of that and we can be thankful for those as well. A bad wreck coming around the third barrel, a roping horse coming up lame before the finals or a broken femur bucking off a bull can feel like huge setbacks, but what we can’t see in what God is doing through those setbacks can turn out to be some of the biggest blessings, especially when He uses them to change us and draw us closer to Him.

God’s love for us is unending. Our reasons to be thankful can be too.

An encouraging word strengthens a relationship

By Jim Bull / Cowboys of the Cross

Jim Bull is a horseman from Kentucky who writes, The Bull Pen for the Cowboys of the Cross website, devotions meant to teach and encourage through illustrations from life.

Jim Bull is a horseman from Kentucky who writes, The Bull Pen for the Cowboys of the Cross website, devotions meant to teach and encourage through illustrations from life.

I finally worked up the nerve to talk to my now wife, Laura, on September 22, 1999. Just over three 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. We should tell them all the wonderful things
we see in them; not just their outer beauty but inner beauty as well. We should 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 our 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 person 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.”

TESTIMONY – Nate Camper, Genoa, Ohio – Nate was saved at Cowtown Rodeo, the longest running weekly deal in the country

TESTIMONY – Nate Camper, Genoa, Ohio – Nate was saved at Cowtown Rodeo, the longest running weekly deal in the country

I found a link to a video of us team roping the other day at Cowtown (the oldest weekly rodeo in the United States in New Jersey) and it made me think a lot about this rodeo. I first showed up there as a 21-year-old bull rider, 21 years ago. My traveling partner, Craig, and I were getting ready, and next to us was a small tent outside of the entry office.

The lady there had some cowboy Bibles on the table with Lane Frost on the cover. Craig and her were talking on and on about Lane, who was one of Craig’s heroes, and she new Lane’s folks. Well I didn’t understand it at the time but she was telling Craig about Lane’s testimony. She then asked Craig if he was saved!? He said, “Yes, when I was 13.” I was just sitting off in the near distance listening. She then asked him, “Is your buddy over there saved?” He said I don’t know even though I had been raised in the church, went to a Christian school and my grandpa was a pastor.

Well I just sat there and thought, I don’t know!?!

Then she proceeded to bark at Craig, “What do you mean you don’t know? You guys travel all over the country riding bulls, and you don’t know If he’s saved?” Then she looked over at me and asked me if I was and I told her I didn’t know. She asked if I wanted to be, and I thought,  “Why don’t I know?” and I told her I wanted to be. She read to us some out of Romans, Chapter 9 and then I recited what’s known as the sinner’s prayer with her and asked Jesus into my heart.

I was on fire from the star and I remember being in the bar that night that used to be there right next to the rodeo, I was telling people about Jesus. I remember the whole trip home whenever I wasn’t driving I was reading that Bible she gave me. I was definitely changed.

As an Ohio cowboy, I was just thinking though why I still go to this rodeo, it’s darn sure not because it’s so close to home or the amount of money. I think I’m actually drawn to it because it’s where I met Jesus my Lord and Savior. Suzie Grahm still has that little tent out back of the entry office, and she’s still standing back there telling the truth and offering salvation through Jesus!

#BLESSED Part 6 — God’s biggest promise is  His biggest blessing

#BLESSED Part 6 — God’s biggest promise is His biggest blessing

By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross

Just like Christianity insists there is only one true God and one path to Heaven, there is only one blessing that we should be seeking and that’s the one found through a saving faith in Jesus Christ.

Just as Adam and Eve brought a curse on us that saw us separated from God, facing His judgment and wrath against our sin, God also brought a blessing to us in the form of a covenant centered around Jesus Christ.

A covenant is a promise in the biggest possible way and one that doesn’t require anything from us in return. When we compete for a season to qualify for a rodeo finals, there is an assumed promise that the payout is going to be there when we reach the finals. Yet most of us know stories or have experienced either a finals that didn’t occur or prize money that wasn’t there after we did the work to get there. This covenant from God is a promise that you never have to worry won’t be kept and that you never have to earn.

God made one in the Old Testament with Abraham, promising him that he would make a great nation from Abraham’s descendants and that those people who followed the God of Abraham, would be blessed.

 Genesis 12: 1-3 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

The Israelites, Abraham’s descendants, were lead to a promised land to fulfill that covenant (promise) but failed repeatedly to honor and follow God. As a result, the Israelites were exiled from that promised land and only a remnant of those people were given back Jerusalem, the land from which they had been exiled. Those descendants, now us, would go on to see God make a new covenant fulfilled through the New Testament and the coming of Jesus so that everyone (Gentiles), not just the Jews of Israel could be made right with God.

Galatians 3:7-9 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Jesus died on the cross as a sacrifice and to take the punishment for our sins that God must deliver to be a just and right God. Through a saving faith in Jesus and repentance of our sins that separate us from God, we’re no longer seen as sinner but the perfect people God made us to be and we are assured then a place in Heaven for eternity.

That is the blessing found in Jesus Christ that was set up thousands of years ago in the Old Testament through that promise to Abraham and what is referred to in the blessings mentioned in the verses above.

Remember, often when we say we are ‘blessed’ and use that hashtag, what we really mean is that we’re thankful. Every good experience or gift or circumstance is something we can understand has come from God and is something we can be thankful for. But the ultimate blessing is knowing we can be saved through Jesus Christ and inherit a perfect eternity with God in Heaven.

Without Jesus, the good things we see as blessings do nothing for us when it comes to eternal life in Heaven. They are temporary good moments in this evil world but we remain under the curse and condemned to hell under God’s judgment and wrath unless we find the real blessing God gave us through Jesus Christ.

God made a promise to us through a covenant in the Old and New Testament that leads to us being able to trust that our salvation is found in Jesus Christ and that a perfect life in Heaven can be found through a saving faith in Him.

We may not always trust a promise made to us by someone in rodeo, but when God made a covenant with His people, He made a promise that the prize would be there at the end.

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