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ABOUT US: Welcome to Cowboys of the Cross: your resource for Christian cowboys. Cowboys of the Cross has been providing cowboy church for the rodeo and cowboy community for more than 15 years. The website 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 leads cowboy church at rodeos and bull ridings in both Ontario, Canada and across the north and southeastern United States.   MORE ABOUT US HERE

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Rodeo/bull riding give more opportunity to find and learn about Jesus

Help Keep us on the road

By Scott Hilgendorff/Cowboys of the Cross

The sports of rodeo and bull riding provide opportunities seldom found outside church communities to honor and worship God.

Even better, where Christianity has been pushed out of much of the public view, the presence of the Christian faith is visible to all from the opening prayers, cowboy church behind the chutes, crosses worn by riders, the publication of cowboy Bibles (New Testaments with cowboy imagery and testimonies), cowboys praying by the arena before their events and Christian messages worn on decals on their equipment.

The opportunity to learn about God, the Christian faith and most importantly, the gospel itself, can be found at almost every rodeo or bull riding.

The presence of Christianity can be found in almost every corner of the rodeo grounds. But it can just as easily be intentionally ignored or unintentionally overlooked by the distractions all around.

 Sin, of course, is one of those distractions. As unique to rodeo and bull riding as the strong Christian presence, is the opportunity to find sin.

From drugs and alcohol, encouragement to participate in after parties to keep sponsors happy, local girls and buckle bunnies prowling around looking to score and sponsors bringing shot-carrying Hooters girls behind the chutes, the rodeo grounds and bull riding arenas have extra temptations not found by those leading traditional lives off the road.

It can get a little discouraging to those of us who have been called to teach/preach through cowboy church when we walk past trucks in the parking lots with “Riding on Faith” stickers and emblems of cowboys kneeling before crosses but the owners won't break away from hanging out before the show to come over for church when it's announced or we walk around to let you know we're about to start and at what part of the arena.

There's never ever an expectation from us that just because someone says they are a Christian, they have to come to cowboy church. But, especially knowing cowboy church is likely the only service they are going to have the opportunity to attend that weekend, it is always our hope and prayer that everyone who professes the faith, will break away from their conversations or any other distraction to give 10 or 20 minutes of their time to learn from the Bible and pray together as a rodeo or bull riding family.

We try to give you messages that point you to Jesus while teaching you something from the Bible, not just for you to 'use' but to disciple you and teach you in the ways of Jesus. It's to help those of us who have been saved, to grow closer to him and become more like him and to help those who haven't made Jesus the Lord and Savior of the lives, learn who he is in the hopes they will surrender their lives to God's saving grace found through Jesus's death an resurrection on the cross.

And we pray that God uses us to help point you to Jesus and away from the temptation of sin that surrounds us on the grounds.

Proverbs 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

In some ways, it can be as easy as that—recognizing God's presence in our lives and letting Him guide our steps. With signs of God's presence are all around us at a rodeo, we have the extra advantage of additional reminders of Him that can make it easier for us to keep Him in our minds as we make choices and decisions that can lead us to walk toward Him and away from sin.

In the sports of rodeo and bull riding, we're blessed that we don't have to look very far to find signs of Jesus all around us. With more opportunity to connect with God at these events, rodeo and bull riding really are special places to get to spend time.

By Scott Hilgendorff/Cowboys of the Cross

When Kris Furr made Jesus the Lord of his life last month, he had no idea God would throw a challenge and learning opportunity at him just hours later.

It made it very clear that God was working in his life.

Kris, a bull fighter from Statesville, NC, was trying to sell his camper on Craig's list when he got a call from a guy who asked if Kris would consider trading the camper for the guy's van. It would have been at a $3,000 to $4,000 loss between the difference in the value of the van versus the camper but Kris was stuck—he had just made Jesus his lord and savior hours earlier and now he was being asked to help a family.

The man had explained to Kris that he and his wife had recently become homeless and were living in that van and a tent and he wanted to trade. The camper would give them a chance to have better accommodation, especially for their two kids that they were trying to home school.

But, $3,000 is a lot of money to give up when you're trying to make your living as a bull fighter, full time, traveling the roads to work events across the country for very little pay. In order to be the best at it and be one of the few to make it to the professional level and the pay scale that goes with it, you have to sacrifice a lot.

But, $3,000. Would God really be asking Kris to give the equivalent of that much money to total strangers? Was this a test from God?

Those are the questions he had for me when we talked about the situation.

The short answer, of course, was that God could very well be asking that of Kris.

“I always knew who God was but until today, I had never given my life to Him,” said Kris as we talked about his whole experience that day, leading up to the phone call.

Now he was afraid to make the wrong decision about the camper. We talked about the difference between feeling guilty or feeling the Holy Spirit's conviction, what the Bible teaches about giving sacrificially, what it can mean to follow Christ beyond that moment of salvation, being a good steward of the resources God gives you and how to know when God is answering prayer about what to do.

We also talked about how emotions can manipulate us and can be used by others to do the same—that he had to be careful.

In prayerfully seeking wisdom from God, Kris realized that a starting point would be to at least meet with the man who called and look into the story more.

When he did, praise God, Kris determined the story was a scam but also learned straight from scripture that he was willing to be obedient to God, even when it was difficult and it meant sacrifice.

And praise God, Kris and I are working out a study plan to dig deeper into God's word since being in church often is difficult for Kris as he's on the road so much.

 

Center Gate Story Postive Thinking Bible Bootcamp A Cowboy of the Cross is

By Josh McCarthy /Cowboys of the Cross     

Galatians 3:26-28 (ESV) 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of  you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

There's no denying that where you come from can say alot about a person. North or South East or West, City or Country. Most people will have assumptions of people just by hearing what state or town they're from; some good some not so good, some accurate simply based on culture and common sense, some based on arrogance and bigotry.

In this day and age it doesn't take long to notice the separation of people which seems to be getting worse and worse. In the rodeo and ranching world it's no different. You have roughies v.s. timies or cowpunchers v.s. Buckaroos.  I rode saddle broncs for three years before moving on to work on a ranch so I'm not saying there's anything wrong with having a good sense of humor and joking with friends about "who’s better" with such things. But real bigotry that makes a person think because of what they do or other distinctions that they are so much better then someone else is just wrong and is talked about numerous times in the Bible.

I know when I was rodeoing, we had assumptions about calf ropers, "city folk" or people who didn't associate with the cowboy culture. I had a sense of arrogance and tore people down because they weren't "cool" like us rodeo guys and I wanted to be known more as a rodeo cowboy than a Christian.

This passage of scripture in Galatians, Paul is writing about the Church and how God sees it. The nationality, culture or even church  denomination of a person doesn't elevate or lower their position in God's family. All need Christ regardless of such things and if someone is a believer in Christ that person is part of the universal Church which includes all Christians around the world and throughout history. Now if that's how God sees the Church and we are called to be like Christ, then that's how we should see it. We aren't all called to dress and act alike, or even speak the same language, and in Christ we can enjoy our distinct cultures like we see in Revelations 7:9-10 9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,10 and crying out with a loud voice,“Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”.

This part of scripture shows us a future picture of the Church worshiping God when He comes again to make all things new. But in this day and age we are called to be Christians first and call fellow Christians our brothers and sisters regardless of race, ethnicity,social background,social status and culture.

We’re still united by our differences

through our faith in Jesus Christ

Click HERE to learn about our #CowboysForCops initiative

I was born in Orlando, Florida on Sept. 4, 1985 to an awesome set of parents who raised my brother and I with a strong biblical background.  They always taught us to put God first no matter what we do.  I grew up hearing this constantly.  I actually got tired of listening to it and started doing things my own way.  Growing up in and being active in church I knew what was expected of me, or so I thought especially since I had Christian parents.  I mean we never missed a Sunday or a Wednesday.  So at 10  years old I walked down the church aisle and did what I thought I was supposed to do being raised in a Christian household.  

I supposedly gave my heart to the Lord.  I didn't know what it was supposed to feel like being a Christian.  I didn't feel any different so the next 19 years of my life I thought I had a personal relationship with the Lord but always having doubt and scared to go to hell.  As I said I had no clue how it felt to be a Christian.  Throughout my high school days I stayed pretty clean.  I was blessed to have a friend who loved hunting and fishing as much as I did so instead of drinking and partying we spent our time in the woods or on the river.  Also during this time I was very active in the FFA and also the Georgia High School Rodeo Association.  This also kept me out of trouble.  After high school, I decided not to go to college but decided to pursue bull riding instead.

The summer after graduation, a good friend and I decided to spend some time in Cody, Wyoming.  I spent a lot of time traveling and hitting rodeos.  I loved the lifestyle but the injuries started taking a toll.  A huge turning point in my life (for the worse) happened in August 2005.  I had a bull riding accident which broke my right femur and caused me to have to have emergency surgery and had a titanium rod and screws in my leg.  Up until  that time I had never touched a pain pill, even with my other injuries, but this one was different.  I needed them to get rest at night.  I had a lot of pain with that injury.  I found out quickly that I loved the way that opiates made me feel.  I felt I could function better with opiates which led me to start using recreationally.  For the next 10 years I battled addiction.  Once I started pills, I started experimenting with other drugs as well.  I tried alcohol for the first time which I had stayed away from during high school.  Then came marijuana, and then hard drugs.  Cocaine, ecstasy, meth, and many others.  Anything that I could get my hands on, I was willing to try.  Along with the drugs and alcohol came a lifestyle of partying which included sexual immorality and just living for my self.  I look back now and see that was an extremely selfish was to live.  

This is how I spent my 20's.  Searching for drugs, parties, and sex.  I liked to stay high.  I didn't like how normal felt.  I always wanted that feeling or that high that I couldn't get naturally.  Through all these years I could put down the drugs and alcohol (or slow down I say).  The one thing that I couldn't let go of was the opiates.  I was enslaved to them.  It caused me to do things to get them that I never would have done other wise.  It messed up relationships and it controlled me.  That was my weakness.

In 2010 I moved to San Diego, California where I met a girl who later became my wife.  We spent a total of five years together (dating and married).  Before surrendering my life to the Lord I had some anger and temper problems.  I had an extremely short fuse.  This caused a lot of problems in my marriage and in 2015 my wife decided she wanted a divorce.  

This brought me to an extremely low point in life.  The lowest I had ever been before.  My whole life I had always thought that suicide was the coward’s way out.  I used to say I would never even contemplate suicide.  I was at a point in my life where I started thinking about suicide and actually had a gun to my head ready to pull the trigger.  I don't know if I was just scared to do it or what but I thank God for having other plans for me!  

During this time as we were going through the divorce the Lord really started convicting me.  I mean, He had been for awhile but I was constantly running from him.  I knew exactly where I need to be throughout my 20s but was not ready to give up the way that I was living.  I was honestly having too much fun living the ways of the world and was not ready to give that up.  Everybody has a breaking point in life and mine was my wife deciding to leave.  At this time, I lost all arrogance that I had and was completely humbled before the Lord.  This is a place that I had never been in my life.  

I remember the exact moment that I decided to surrender my life to Christ.  Of all places, I was cleaning the inside of my truck out on a Saturday afternoon on May 2, 2015.  It hit me like a sack of bricks and I said, "Ok Lord, here I am.  Take over my life and do what you will with me.  I surrender everything to you Father."  During this time I was still struggling with addiction but knew the Lord wanted me to come just as I was and He would take care of the rest.  One by one, the Lord started taking the bad things in my life .  First, it was the opiates.  Then came tobacco after dipping for 16 years.  This is something that I thought I would never quit!  Glory to God!  Next I had some grudges that I was holding on to.  I had to forgive the people that I was holding things against.  Then came asking for forgiveness to the people that I had wronged.  All this didn't change the moment I surrendered my life to Christ.  I t was a process, one thing at a time,

Very soon after this I started feeling that the Lord was calling me into ministry.  I didn't know when or how or what He wanted me to do but the feeling kept getting stronger.  There was a chain of events that led up to me going on a mission trip to Nicaragua in July 2015.  I wasn't even supposed to be on this trip but the Lord made it extremely clear that He wanted me there.  At that time, I had no idea why He wanted on that trip but on the trip He made it crystal clear why I was there .  I knew that the Lord was calling me to serve Him in Nicaragua.  I returned here to Nicaragua in October 2015 and have been here since.  I thank God for having the patience that He had with me because I definitely don't deserve it.  None of us do, but God loves each and every one of us so very much that He sacrificed His son on the cross so that we have a chance to spend eternity with Him.



Matt Crenshaw

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