By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross

Some of y’all got away without a rodeo fine and it shows.

Proverbs 10:17

Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life,

but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.

The opening line is an attention-getting play on a meme that went around awhile back.

But there’s a truth to it. Where unpaid fines can mean fewer entries, there’s often a fear to issue them if it could affect a show. When it comes to issues like not showing up at a performance, that can have a costly impact on the producer and when there aren’t fines, it can turn this issue into a pattern of bad behavior. Then others, knowing they can get away with, do the same thing.

Rules are in place for a number of reasons: to keep order, to keep people from harm, to keep people from harming others.

Hundreds of verses in the Old Testament are rules that kept God’s chosen people in right standing with Him in addition to keeping order in their culture. Much of it is referred to as “The Law.”

Jesus came to fulfill the law. He died on the cross to take the punishment meant for our sins so that with a saving faith in him, repenting of our sin and asking to be forgiven, we no longer will be punished. Instead, we gain a perfect eternity in Heaven. We no longer have to follow any rules to be in right standing with God. Instead, through our salvation through Jesus, God sees us as perfect.

Even though the Bible is filled with instructions for us, God extends grace to us when we fail to follow them. It is never to give us an excuse to sin knowing we’re already forgiven; it allows us to move forward in this life without the burden of guilt or shame for the mistakes we’ve made.

But knowing we’ve been saved from God’s wrath, knowing the freedom we’ve been given from the burden of our mistakes and knowing the gift of a perfect eternity has been given to us, if our faith and salvation is real, how can we not want to try to live out a life that shows we’re being changed by what we are learning from our Bibles and the good biblical teaching out there? How can we not want to learn enough on our own so that we can also avoid the bad teaching that is out there, because there’s plenty of that to follow as well. Some of it is done with good intentions, much of it is not, all of it will lead you away from Jesus.

Yet many of us ignore the opportunities put in front of us, like this one right here, to learn and grow closer to Jesus, who saved us. For some, the hard reality is that our salvation was never real; our hearts never changed and we still don’t really understand the fullness of who Jesus is and what he did for us or we’ve never truly repented. For others, our salvation may be real but we still take advantage of God’s grace and love for us. Our Bibles sit unopened. We watch countless minutes of videos about anything other than ones posted by others right here in our cowboy and rodeo community that could teach us more. We ignore opportunities to attend cowboy church at a rodeo or we never set foot in a traditional church to learn more deeply than what can be offered at cowboy church.

If you’re in a good place with God and get all of this, what keeps you from sharing messages like this that could help point others to the need for Jesus? What keeps you from passing on to others anything deeper than the occasional self-help-sounding Bible verse or quote that may not even be in any kind of correct context; it just sounds good?

I’m grateful lately that God is showing me more people than ever in more than 20 years of ministry, that are not just listening at cowboy church but applying what they’re learning or, better yet, attending a traditional church when their rodeo schedule allows.

We don’t claim to be the best teachers out there and we can mess up sometimes like the rest of us, but every one of us that serves together under the Cowboys of the Cross umbrella, has a burden for you and the far bigger rodeo and cowboy crowd that are never going to see this message or give time to the other teaching we put out there week after week. We don’t do anything for attention for ourselves, but out of a desire to follow the Great Commission that God gave to all of us– to share the gospel (how to be saved) and to make disciples (teach others what Jesus taught us and God gave us through the Bible.)

We love you and want this for you: a perfect eternity in Heaven and a life transformed through a closer relationship with Jesus as we learn together from God’s word.

There are countless communities and people groups out there that need to hear and learn about Jesus. The cowboy crowd, full of strong, independent thinkers, isn’t an easy one, but I’m thankful God put me in this one because it has some of the most incredible people you could ever want to meet. It can sometimes be dysfunctional like any family, but that’s exactly what you get in this crowd: a family that looks out for one another. Let’s make looking out for each other’s souls a priority in this one.

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