TESTIMONY – Trey Williamson, Bartonville, TX –Trey only had a two per cent chance of moving again

TESTIMONY – Trey Williamson, Bartonville, TX –Trey only had a two per cent chance of moving again

May 1, 2016 was the life changing day, having a six-year-old boy, a one-year-old baby girl and a beautiful wife and a string of horses that we finally got to perfection.

I was big into ranch rodeo, riding broncs and team roping along with a wife who barrel races and kids in youth rodeos, all while having a full time job working for CoServ as a lineman. Life was good, we had some rodeos planned out for the month and we were excited and prepared.

My son and I jumped on the four wheeler after getting back form a jackpot team roping to feed, we were headed back to the house and that is all we remember. I woke up in the hospital not being able to move anything. Knowing the shape I was in made me worried what shape my son was in. He had a concussion and a small laceration on his face and was released form the hospital that night.

I broke my neck in three places my C2, C5 and C6 with a C4 spinal cord injury, I was paralyzed from the shoulders down. Dr. Aryan with Axis Brain & Back Institute did surgery that night and gave me a two per cent chance to move again. The thought of never being able to hold my kids and my wife again was devastating.

I was in ICU for a week and was taken to rehab in Dallas were a began to fight for recovery. Four months later, I believe thanks to the power of prayer, I walked out with nothing but a cane, a walking miracle. The power of prayer is amazing. Through the process, I accepted Jesus as my lord and savior as my son as well. Before I broke my neck, life was good. Now, life is great because I now have God in my life. If you have Jesus in your heart and in your life, good things will happen. I am back to riding my horse and roping some and even though my rodeo career is over, my life with my family isn’t

What we really mean is #THANKFUL and that’s a great way to be

What we really mean is #THANKFUL and that’s a great way to be

By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross

What do we really mean when we say we’re “blessed” or use the #Blessed hashtag?

For most of us, we actually mean we’re thankful for what we have.

When we use the word, “blessed” the wrong way, our intentions are absolutely good, but we run the risk of confusing people about the love God has for them.

If you just won the bull riding, barrel race or team roping, the first instinct of most cowboy and cowgirls is to acknowledge how blessed they are to say what a blessing it was. We say that about most anything that impacts us positively, not realizing that someone who is struggling and going through one of the trials God can let us experience can be left wondering what they’ve done wrong, why God doesn’t seem them as worthy of a break or wonder if they have any faith.

For someone who doesn’t already believe in God or is struggling to understand the Christian faith, it can leave them very confused about whether or not God loves or even cares about that.

We want them to come to a saving faith in Jesus, so we do have to take the confusion this can cause very seriously.

Some of us overlook the verses about finding joy in trials or the sermon on the mount that tells us we’re blessed when we struggle and most of us don’t understand that the struggles we face are opportunities to experience God’s blessing because at their root is an opportunity to seek God’s strength and wisdom and ultimately grow closer to Him. That is a true blessing.

But when we recognize it was through God that we received the gifts, the wins, the successes and every good thing we have, what we need to express is our thanks.

The Bible is filled with Scripture about finding joy in the Lord and being thankful. Here are three verses that describe a thankful heart just from Psalms:

Psalm 7:17 I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.

Psalm 9:1 “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.”

Psalm 118: 29 “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures forever.”

And in Ephesians, Paul is encouraging in this part of his letter to the church in Ephesus that they avoid sin, celebrate the Lord with joy and then encourages them to be thankful in everything.

Ephesians 5:20 Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We see Paul encourage thankfulness again in Philippians to his letter to that church as well, encouraging us not to worry but to trust God and always be prayerful and thankful in every situation.

Philippians 4: 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

That again points us to how there can be good in a struggle and how by changing the language we use when we’re thankful, we can help others to understand blessings can both be wonderful gifts from God but can come through struggles and hardship.

By working to start using the term, “thankful” we can remind ourselves to be thankful to God in all our circumstances, we can point others to the joy we have in our saving faith in Jesus when they see our thankfulness in the good and what we might see as ‘bad’ until we realize God is using that for His purpose and our ultimate good.

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 16 Rejoice always,17 pray continually,18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

#Thankful for God challenging us through His word.

Being persecuted can show us we’re blessed

Being persecuted can show us we’re blessed

By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross

How on Earth can being poor in spirit, acting meek, being persecuted or suffering personal loss mean we’re blessed?

It can be signs in our life that we belong to Jesus, have been reconciled with God and are looking toward a time, not long from now, that we will be living a perfect life in Heaven where neither the successes we achieved here or the struggles we went through, will matter anymore.

Our culture tells us the opposite. We daily throw out the hashtag “#blessed” on social media when we win, have something great happen to us or just want to say how happy we are the way a circumstance unfolded or with a gift or way we were treated kindly be a friend or family member.

Those are great things to be thankful for but Matthew gives us a list of blessings from what is known as Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and in those, we see a long list of blessings that are anything but what we normally associate a blessing with.

Matthew 5:3-12

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Verse 3 Poor in spirit means to realize we need God. To not rely on our own strength but to realize we’re dependent on him and to set aside any pride to be willing to receive his help. Pride is one of the biggest reasons a cowboy won’t turn to Jesus for the salvation He offers because it feels like having to give up who we are and not allow Christ in us to change us.

Verse 4 In our grief, we can find comfort so it is considered a blessing but while grief and comfort can come through a personal loss, it can also be grief over our sin and our desire to be right with God.

Verse 5 Being meek, we still have everything to gain (Meekness is explained in important detail in a second section below).

Verse 6 Hungering for righteousness can be a sign of our salvation or our desire to be saved. When we receive forgiveness for our sins through Jesus’ death on the cross and our repentance, and faith in his resurrection, we are immediately made righteous before God. Jesus was a sacrifice to pay the price for our sins. Without Jesus, we can’t be seen as righteous. To seek Jesus, to be saved and to want to be more like him, righteous, brings about a pretty big blessing in our lives.

Verse 7 To be merciful is to show to others what God showed to us through Jesus. We deserve death. That’s just how sin and the nature of God works. God will judge and condemn all sin but He shows us tremendous and amazing mercy by sending Jesus to die for our sins so that if we seek him with a repentant heart, asking to be forgiven and believing he was the Son of God who died for our sins to then be resurrected again, we are granted mercy from God’s judgment of sin. Instead of being condemned to Hell, we are given eternal life and eternal happiness with God and Jesus in Heaven. So how then, can we not show mercy to others who may not deserve it from us? And how can we receive mercy if we’re not willing to give it to others?

Verse 8 Being pure of heart would require all our sin to be gone from our lives. While that will never be obtained, again it is Jesus’ death on the cross that makes a way for God to see us without any of the sin that remains as we begin a process of becoming more like Christ. But to see the face of God, guys, this is huge. It’s through our salvation that we can know we will get to see Him, be awestruck by it all and know we are being received by Him for a perfect eternity. We really need to stop and think about that to understand the true blessing that that is.

Verse 9 Being a peacemakers includes the understanding that we have obtained peace with ourselves, our sin nature, and God. When we have this, we know that we are part of God’s family, reconciled to Him through Jesus

Verses 10 to 12 show us that we can expect to be persecuted for being Christians. We see this in our current culture through people losing their jobs for expressing their faith publicly and in countries around the world where people are murdered, executed or imprisoned for their faith the same as they were 2,000 years ago when these words were first written.

When we set our own wants and goals aside and pursue what God wants for us, we can find true blessings, even when it involved struggles, hardship and pain.

Much of the blessings that Jesus taught here point to outcomes from our salvation. We’re blessed not by what we can accomplish here or what we are given, even when we know it’s a material gift or success coming from God, but by what Jesus accomplished for us through dying on the cross. The changes it brings to our lives, the fruit that appears as we grow more like Christ and the joy that can come even in a struggle, to know that this is temporary and a perfect, eternal life has been given to us who have repented of our sin and sought a saving faith in Jesus.

A little extra about meekness–it isn’t want you think either 

Just like we can easily misunderstand what it means to be blessed, there is a huge misunderstanding about meekness.

As rodeo cowboys, ranch cowboys or bull riders, you understand what it means to be tough and the idea of being meek is often associated with being weak.

Instead, think about it as strength under tight control. That isn’t easy.

Jesus had the power of God on Earth. He healed the sick and diseased and worked many miracles. But they were for the benefit of others. To restore them, help them, heal them and most importantly, to show them he was who he said he was. God among us, here to die for us and through his death, save us from eternal separation from God by our sins that would see us judged and condemned to hell. Through understanding we sin and seeking forgiveness through our faith in who Jesus was and is, we could be saved.

Jesus had the power to prevent himself from going to that cross but his death there served us. He put us before his own life.

For us, meekness is not using our strength for personal gain but to help others. It’s about being humble and in that humbleness, finding blessings from God.

BLESSED Part 1 Have hope, the blessing can be in the struggle

BLESSED Part 1 Have hope, the blessing can be in the struggle

By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross

“#Blessed”

It’s arguably the most common hashtag used among Christian cowboys and bull riders but it’s also arguably the most misunderstood.

We place first, we get good results from the doctor, we celebrate an anniversary with our wife or girlfriend or we receive a gift worth sharing with everyone on social media and we immediately tell everyone with the accompanying hashtag or a comment about how blessed we are.

Let’s be clear, it’s not wrong to do that. Our friends care about us and, when we’re walking in Christ, they can celebrate with us. There aren’t too many bull riders or rodeo cowboys who don’t celebrate another guy’s win and they’re going to watch the video you post with the status: “God blessed me with a win tonight. My slump is over.”

There’s a hidden danger here that has greater impact than we realize because of how often we associate material successes and rewards with blessings.

The same beliefs we follow in Scripture are the same beliefs that are followed by Christians living in Nigeria where members of the Fulani people now outpace Isis and Boko Haram for attacks on Christians.

Where is the blessing if members of your family were murdered in their church by a group of Fulani raiders that came through your village and burned down your homes?

It’s there. It’s in hardship that we actually find a deeper understanding of what it means to be blessed.

James 1:12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial.

Throughout scripture, we see blessings associated with hardship or lower standing compared to our culture, not success.

But when we associate blessings with success, we are unintentionally creating a false idea that when we’re struggling, God is somehow not there for us. It creates questions for people. Where is God when you your cancer is healed but I’ve got three weeks to live?

It’s here that we need God the most, when the cancer comes, when the bills are due and you lost your job and haven’t won money at a rodeo in weeks or your girlfriend empties out the house and leaves while you’re on a three-day run two states away.

In our culture, we’ve taught ourselves not to feel very blessed when life isn’t going our way and other cultures, that observe ours, are taught to pursue God to receive the gains we have when our country’s poorest are still seen as rich compared to them.

The misunderstanding of what blessings are can actually take our eyes off of God but when we understand what they are, they show us how much we need and depend on Him.

When we remain steadfast, refuse to waiver or back down as we fight through a trial, we have an opportunity to rely on God for that strength. It is in that dependence on God that we are able to grow closer to Him, become more Christ-like and it is in that way that we are blessed.

A very quick look at part of the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus delivers as seen in Matthew shows us more of this dependence on God and shift away from material blessings. (We’ll get into more detail on these verses in a later part of this series.)

Matthew 5:3-12 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

For example, in verse 4, we see a blessing come when we are mourning or grieving—that in those hard times, our blessing can come in the comfort we find in relying on God.

Even more, we are told we can rejoice in being persecuted for our faith because the greatest rewards aren’t in material blessings here but in what is yet to come as we prepare for an eternity and perfect life in Heaven.

It’s on that understanding that we have to rely on when standing up for our faith costs us our job, a more common form of persecution in western culture right now, or when our African village is destroyed by another religion that hates us.

DEVOTION You can only put your bull rope on one way, even more so, Jesus never changes who He is or what He did

DEVOTION You can only put your bull rope on one way, even more so, Jesus never changes who He is or what He did

You can only put your bull rope on one way. You can only put a headstall on one way. Designs may change over the decades but the equipment functions the same way today as it did 100 years ago.

Hebrews 13:7-9 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 9 Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods,which is of no benefit to those who do so.

Verse 8 reminds us that Jesus is the same, always.

Our culture wants us to reject our faith. It wants us to choose a different pattern to run saying the way we do it now is outdated and doesn’t work. It doesn’t fit with the rest of the way the world lives its collective life.

But in his letter to the Hebrews, Paul is reminding us that no matter what other influences are out there, pressuring us to let go of what we believe, Jesus has always been the same and that’s what we are to follow from the example set by Christian leaders who have gone before us. The applications of scripture may change as our culture changes, but what those verses mean are just as consistent as Jesus is.

He cautions us not to get carried away by other teaching that’s out there. The values in our culture shift almost weekly and sometimes are changing so fast that they seem to contradict each other as we strive to not offend anyone and make everyone value the same morals and attitudes.

There are different faiths and beliefs out there beyond our culture and even within our churches, there can be false teaching, different from a pastor making a mistake with scripture, but choosing to teach popular ideas that actually contradict what the Bible teaches.

Matthew 7:15-16 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

That’s why it’s so important for us all to be at least familiar with what the Bible teaches.

If we don’t have an idea of what scripture teaches, it is harder to recognize when we are listening to false teaching. False ideas that go against scripture are pushed on us by our culture and false ideas can even be pushed on us by those who say they are representing God when really, they are teaching something as opposite to that as a bush of thorns producing grapes.

Instead of false teaching and beliefs, Paul wants us to be strengthened by God’s grace, which is what we come under through a saving faith in Jesus. The grace we receive is this: that instead of being condemned for our sins, which God will condemn equally, we can all be seen as right and perfect before God through our belief in the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus and the act of repenting and asking for forgiveness of sins. That comes through our understanding Jesus’ death on the cross was in place of our sins so that in faith, repentance and the seeking of forgiveness, we could be saved. That’s grace! Receiving forgiveness when we really deserve punishment.

In Hebrews, Paul wants us to recognize that following anything else is as useless as eating the food that is prepared in part of a different belief’s ceremonies. If Jesus never changes, following something different will do us no good.

You don’t have to be a barrel racer to know that to have a qualifying time, you don’t get to make up your own course. There is a set pattern that’s followed, even if it’s take from the left or the right, the cloverfield course is the same. As Christians, the path we follow is the one set out by Jesus and his teachings we find in the Bible.

His death on the cross and the salvation it brings us, isn’t changed by our culture. All we need to do is believe in Christ’s life, death and resurrection, confess we sin, repent and seek forgiveness. It will always be given, just as it was 2,000 years ago, as it will today and as it will tomorrow and so on.

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