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ABOUT US: Welcome to Cowboys of the Cross: your resource for Christian cowboys. Cowboys of the Cross is the new home for Riding for Christ Ministries, providing cowboy church and outreach to the rodeo and cowboy community for more than 10 years. The new web site is your source for stories of faith and encouragement as well as devotions and news and information affecting cowboys of faith. Cowboys of the Cross also serves to minister to rodeo cowboys and bull riders by traveling to rodeos, bull ridings and equine events across Canada and the United States. Learn more about us here:   MORE ABOUT US HERE

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By Scott Hilgendorff/Cowboys of the Cross

1 Thesssalonians 5:6-8 “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” 
Moving into the Bible belt, I honestly thought I'd see a lot more evidence of Christianity beyond the huge number of churches there are. 

You hear so much about this place or that place being the 'buckle” of the belt which creates the expectation that you'll see more outward signs of Christianity. And for sure you can be in public places and overhear a churchy conversations. However,  the greatest evidence I hear of Christian faith comes from the physical presence of mission organizations like homeless shelters or attacks against Christians in the news and our own efforts to defend the attack. 

Absolutely, there is evidence of the faith all around that goes unseen of neighbors helping neighbors but it always stands out to me how rarely I see people pray before a meal in a crowded restaurant. 

For sure, our prayers are not to be a spectacle to call attention to ourselves, away from God, but when we develop a praying heart that comes from living out those 1 Thessalonians verses, praying becomes a natural part of what we do. 

Praying before a meal in public doesn't have to be done for show or to call attention to ourselves, it's just a natural place to pause in the day and give thanks to what God has provided. When praying becomes just a natural thing to do, there won't be a sense of calling attention to ourselves because at any moment there's time to pause, we just naturally see that as an opportunity to pray. Just like before a meal, what other ways can you think of that you could add prayer to your daily routine? At a rodeo, when you're saddling and unsaddling your horse, it can be a perfect time to pause and pray while you're getting ready. A horse trailer even provides a private place to just step away from everyone and make a few moments to pray in private. It just takes being intentional and making time. You'd be surprised how often it can be added to the routines of normal day, away from the rodeo grounds. 

A natural prayer

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I recieved a message from Scott asking me to write my testimony for Cowboys of the Cross, I was stopped in my tracks for a few minutes; the irony, I was talking on the phone at that time to a pastor friend of mine, Don Mayberry. He was asking if I would announce a bull ride for their cowboy church so I stopped him in midsentence and asked, “How do you write your testimony?”

He said to just start typing and it will come; it was that simple.

I was born and raised in a Christian farming and cattle

Read the full Testimony HERE

Storm Denison,

Wichita, KS

Rodeo Announcer

Something you'll often see in the the openings of rodeos and bull ridings and included in the opening prayer is a moment to honor or salute those who have or do serve in the armed forces.

Within the sport itself, you'll find many veterans and those currently serving at home and abroad.

We asked a few of our veterans how they feel about the events last week in Chattanooga in which four Marines and a Navy sailor were gunned down in an act of domestic terror.

A week later, emotions, without a doubt are raw and everyone is reacting in their own way though you'll see some common feelings among the comments.

Our cowboy veterans respond to the Chattanooga attack

Jessica Stith, Kentucky––Wake up y'all!  That's how I feel about the events that occurred in Chattanooga last week.  Wake. UP.  I saw more posts and heartbreak from the civilian world about Blake and Miranda getting divorced than what I saw regarding our military being killed.  

I entered the U.S. Navy in May of 2002 as an Aviation Ordnanceman.  IYAOYAS!  Most of my time was spent aboard the USS Ronald Reagan preparing the carrier for combat.  I was medically/honorably discharged in 2004 for depression and anxiety and was fortunate enough to receive tremendous support from the Navy with that diagnosis.  If it weren't for my Chiefs and my shipmates I probably wouldn't be here today.  As service members, we watch over one another and take care of one another.  I am taking on roles to support our military through behavioral health.  The attack in Tennessee has really shaken up the veteran community.   

It's hard enough to feel betrayed by your fellow country men for burning, walking on and desecrating the flag that your brothers and sisters have died for.  Then the leaders of your country don't show respect for the fallen Marines and Sailor that we lost.  Then ideas of asking them not to wear their uniform and somewhat hide the fact that they are military.  They are ripping away at the pride that we all earn and have for signing our names on a line that we knew was a blank check and could cost our lives.      There is a takeover happening in the Middle East, and it is filtering onto our soil.  Other countries have seen it.  We have seen it.  When will we all pay attention to it?  They hate everything that we stand for.  And they are trying to take it away.  And slowly, they are succeeding.  

There is an uprising in the veteran community at the moment to stand watch and keep an eye on one another.  We are watching over civilians too.  As we always have.  It's time for the rest of the country to watch each other's backs.  It's time to stand up for what you believe in as well as what is right.  It's time to support  your brothers and sisters.  Stay vigilant. —(Jessica has roots in Kentucky’s equine community and her husband, Kevin, is a retired bull rider.

Chance Martin, Arizona----As I sit here in the VA waiting to get blood drawn, I am reminded of something I was asked to write. My name is Chance Martin; I am a United Stated Army Disabled Combat Veteran. I was a former Staff Sergeant in the Artillery Branch.  I have been stationed all over the World, including Korea and Germany. During my time in service, from July 95 to April 06, I rodeoed as much as I could, or my command would allow. Have rode bulls and bareback in Korea and Germany, as well as all across the United States. After I separated in 2006, I raised Bucking Bulls for several years under Get Bucked Rodeo Co. in Temple, TX.

I as most Vets I know, am an AVID believer in the 2nd amendment. Had it not been for  former President Clinton in 1992 Members of the Armed Forces with the proper permits would still be allowed to carry while in uniform. This is a MUST in this day & age! It has been proven time and  again that we do not know where the enemy is going to come from or strike. The Dallas Art Contest, The Chattanooga Recruiting Station; what’s next? What if that station had been in a mall like some are, surrounded by children?

Then you have Federal Agents telling vets or civilians that take it upon themselves to guard other locations, from public property, that they can’t be there? And there “fix” is telling these Service Members “not to wear their uniforms to work or close their blinds”. These are domestic terrorists that we are dealing with! We have to allow our men and women, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers to be able to protect themselves at all cost!

I would be willing to bet, that the majority of all vets, especially those that are country folks, and rodeo people, would feel the same way. We have to stand up and fight. We cannot live scared in our own Country! I know I won’t!

Veterans are standing watch over each other and the rest of us

We can’t live scared in our own country, we have to stand up

JC Brown, Alabama––I served in the US Army from 2001-2005. I was Airborne Infantry. I did a tour in Afghanistan and a tour in Iraq. I believe our country has lost it's backbone and turned it's back on God. If our President was as worried about offending someone as he was at defending himself we wouldn't have this problem in our country. To keep it short and sweet, I believe if our country doesn't repent, and turn back to God we are in a lot of trouble. (JC is a retired bull rider now working in law enforcement)

The United States has to turn back to God as a country and repent

Visit the Middle East, you need to come back under tight security

Lance Hurley, Virginia––I believe what happened in Chattanooga was an ISIS terrorist attack. He returned recently from the Middle East and was trying to destroy American soldiers as muslims were called to do. I  believe  if anybody goes and visits the Middle East other than fighting as a US soldier they, should be given a strict background check when they come back and this is deserved of anyone who just goes to visit. (Lance is retired bull rider)

By Scott Hilgendorff/Cowboys of the Cross

The past four weeks have been pretty rough for American Christians from the controversies that have taken place. Issue have ranged from gay marriage and sorting out how to feel and react to sudden sanitization of the 'rebel flag', commonly seen among the rodeo crowd from stickers on trucks to tattoos and belt buckles to the heightened horror surrounding video from Planned Parenthood on selling aborted baby organs and last week's shootings of military personnel and the motives behind the attack.

 If you dwell on the all the controversies within the controversies, it's been a pretty dark four weeks with little relief in sight.

It's why we have to remember a few important things about our faith.

God is in control.

He loves us.

Jesus went on ahead to prepare a place for us.

We have to remind ourselves, as Peter did in his letters in the Bible, that this is not our home. We're just visitors here, serving and worshiping God as He made us to do while we wait for our time to be called to our eternal home with Him in Heaven.

Before Jesus died, on the cross, we see in the book of John, the disciples were struggling to understand what was happening and what Jesus' actual purpose was here if it wasn't to rule as king. As he was trying to prepare them, he promised them a 'comforter' would come after him to look after them. That was the same Holy Spirit who lives among and in us now. We can draw on the Holy Spirit for strength when times feel rough and for wisdom from God when we're seeking God's direction in how to handle the situations we're facing.

In that discussion with the disciples in John, Jesus tells them something important that we can take courage from now.

 John 16:33 You will have suffering in the world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”

Ultimately, we must remember that through saving faith in Christ, we can have the assurance of salvation and eternal life in heaven.

 Thank you to all who have served and do serve in the United States and Canada. You've fought for us to be able to live together freely with our different beliefs and opinions which also allows Christians to stand up for their beliefs in the saving faith and redemption found in Jesus Christ.

God is in control, our hope is in him, not politicians and leaders

Center Gate Story

Don’t be dumb: God’s word to us matters

Part 5 of our new series encouraging digging deeper into the Bible

The bareback rigging of Ohio cowboy, Dusty Whidden

By Scott Hilgendorff/Cowboys of the Cross

The Bible is our source for everything. Everything. And Paul tells us that through his letter to Timothy in the Bible book called 2 Timothy.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Why is it so important for us to know what's in the Bible?

Because God tells us so.

He tells us through His word.

Have you ever heard the Bible referred to God's living word to us? This is where that comes from. It's 'breathed out by God', meaning He put life into it. If it's His living word, that means it's as relevant today as it was 100 years ago and as it was 1,000 years ago.

There's different teaching out there that varies from God causing each word to be written exactly as He wanted it, more or less dictated by the Holy Spirit, to it being written with God as the inspiration but it expressing the thoughts and feelings of the individuals. A lot of teaching lands in the middle between the two.

But what most can agree on is that the text of the Bible has come to us the way God intended and it's meant, first and foremost, to point to redemption through Jesus Christ and then to be our guide to living out a life changed by the saving grace God gave us through Jesus.

Paul, in his letter to Timothy, is being used by God to tell us that the Bible is good for everything. Not only is it God's living word to us but it's meant to guide us in everything we do from teaching us to be more like Christ (“training in righteousness”) to how to carry out God's plan for our lives (“equipped for every good work”).

He is also telling us it's important for teaching us and others and for correcting us along the way.

Friends, that means it's good for everything.

So why do we so often ignore what's in it?

Not only is it a struggle to get us to read it, but it's a struggle to get us to live out what we learn when we do open it's pages.

James goes so far as to tell us how dumb that is.

James 1: 23-24 “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently  at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.”

We know how important God's word is, yet we're willing to read from it or learn from it through sermons and preachers and then act like we didn't understand the English language we heard it in.

Don't be dumb.