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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 Jim Bull/Cowboys of the Cross

Early on in my horseman career, technically when it was still a hobby and I knew next to nothing about horses, I came across two Tennessee Walking Horses in need of a new home. They were brother and sister a year apart. She was a nice,  sun faded, dappled black and he was a well built chestnut with just as many dapples. They were very well taken care of and were very easy to ride in the indoor arena where they were stabled. After getting then home, I discovered these well mannered horses had never been outside an arena or even outside at all during or after bad weather. So, I quickly learned they didn't like mud, water, noises or any number of objects found in the real world of riding. I put my persistence to work on introducing them to as much as possible as quickly as possible to get them up to useful speed. After a short time I noticed the black mare was learning quicker and more eager to learn. Though I still worked with them both I used her when I was not training because she was more eager. One time, while trail riding (I think trail blazing suits the story better) in the river bottoms with my wife and a couple of friends, we were riding across a road that was covered with water. She was much better with the outdoors by this time. I led as we walked without care through about two foot of water. Without warning I was sitting in water! The road had washed out and my mare stepped right off into nothing. She scrambled but didn't panick, made the other side and climbed up into the road. When assessed and discovered we were both ok the laughing commenced. From the shock and awe on my face to the soaked saddle and backside I now sat upon.

Then I laughed when I said "Who's next? " We all made it through without much trouble. We started realizing it was getting late and the normal path we'd expected to take was to deep to follow. We also realized it would be way after dark if we backtracked. Though I always knew right where the truck was, I didn't know exactly how to get to it with the backwater this high. Cottonmouths were plentiful in these bottoms and being out after dark wasn't high on our to do list. We came to a creek with a high bank on the opposite side. Deer had been crossing it and I volunteered to go first. After much hesitation from the others, including me having to get off and walk into the creek to check is depth, they decided even if I crossed and made it ok they still wouldn't follow.

So on we pressed. Our friends were starting to worry. My wife was wanting to get home but enjoying the ride and not worried or scared. Finally, after crossing through the middle of a thickly wooded area that had about a foot of dark, murky water covering the floor,  we made the other side and the road. A quarter mile back up to the truck and we loaded up and headed home. On the way back my wife mentioned how well my mare had handled everything we'd been through. I started thinking back to when I first got her and she wouldn't step a single hoof near a two inch water puddle and now, a few months later, she's swimming without freaking, walking through water through dark spooky woods and walked over a snake without the first sign of balking or spooking. She went because I asked her to and she had faith and trust in me.

Proverbs 3:5-6 5)Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6) in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your path straight. Though my mare was unsure of my commands when we first were introduced. The more she was around me and the more I showed her I wouldn't hurt her but lead her out of harms way, the more willing she was to follow my direction. She even waited and listened for my commands; as we should do with our Lord God. We can't get this kind of connection, with horse or God, without putting time and effort into our studying.

Like a horse learns

to trust us to lead,

God will lead us also

Please Consider Giving


I grew up always praying before meals and hearing that our friends that passed were in heaven. However, I never felt I knew who God was and definitely didn't have a relationship with Him. I lived my life thinking if I seemed like a good person, then I must be a good person and who was God to not let a good person into heaven.

My senior year of high school I started thinking about God more purposefully. I was questioning things in my life and why, if He had control of everything, why I'd been dealt such a crummy hand. Why had my father left when I was one? Why had he never returned? Why was I so poor and why was I so unpopular in school? Looking back I realize I wasn't poor, just didn't have money and I really didn't want to be popular in school; that's not who I am (or ever was).

I went on a hunt for who God was, only, being the smart man that I was at 18, I didn't need help. I could do this on my own. So I thought about God from time to time. I even read a bit of the bible from time to time, though not very much or often. My decision came down to me feeling sorry for myself and not liking someone else being in control of me. I wrestled back and forth on whether I believed in God or not for several years.

  Finally, it all came to a head when my mom asked me, point blank no beating around the bush, if I believed in God. Now, keep in mind, I've always loved my mother. I've always had a good relationship with her and would NEVER intentionally hurt her in any way. However, at that moment I had to be honest with her, knowing it would hurt her. “No. I don't.” I replied. Instantly I knew I was wrong. I felt my chest hurt and sadness entering me. I couldn't hardly breathe there was so much pressure on my chest. I am also an extremely hard-headed person, so while I knew I was wrong, I was not able to admit it. Not even to myself.

  A few years went by and I went back and forth with my belief in God. I knew this time I needed help but didn't want my family to know what I was doing so I asked people that didn't know my family life.

A friend suggested I read Job and described it as a bet between God and Satan. I sat up almost all night trying to read it all. I would fall asleep and wake up again a few minutes later and get right back into reading til I passed out again. I needed to know who this “God” was.

  About that time, my wife and I hired someone to work for us in our oversize load escort business. He was a very Christian man and wasn't afraid to spread the gospel. I remember telling him to take it easy because these truck drivers didn't want to be preached at all day and night. Boy, did I get it wrong. The guys we work with have been instrumental in bringing me around to believing. Who'd have thought these big, greasy, rednecks would have a faithful side? But so many of them are faithful beyond question. It was me that didn't want preached to. I just wanted the Cliff Notes and the answer key to go over on my own time.

  Discussions with my new employee, quickly becoming friend, always seemed to lead back to God. Mostly by his dedication to his faith, partly by my growing hunger for knowledge about God. We'd stay up late into the night and I'd ask questions and he'd answer or tell me, “I'll get back to you on that,” when he didn't have the correct answer on the tip of his tongue. After several invites to church (I had an aversion to church because I just never felt comfortable there. I always felt the preacher and the people attending were just saying “stuff”.) I loaded up my wife and son and went to church. Forty minutes of drive time to get here left me plenty of time to think of reasons why I should turn around  but I felt I was suppose to keep going.

  The moment I walked in the doors I knew I belonged. I can't put my finger on what it was, but I didn't feel like I had in every other church I'd visited in the past. I knew this was where I was suppose to be. After months of talking with the pastor and some of the congregation, I could feel myself starting to lose doubt. I remember after one Wednesday night bible study, I stopped the pastor to ask two simple questions thinking, “five-ten minutes, tops.” I had gone to church straight from the road so my wife had her truck and after a while she and the pastor's wife left him and I to our discussion. That five minute talk lasted til 2:30 or so in the morning. One question led to another and one answer led to another question. I could feel myself panic when he told me he could see that I was there, ready to be saved. I froze momentarily and replied with “Let me take this new info home and process it.” I did mention I was hard-headed, right?

  A couple weeks later I was still being hard-headed all through church service. At the end of service, our pastor asked the praise team to play and sing while he talked to us about salvation. Anyone could come up front and pray that wanted to or you can pray right where you are. I remember telling myself I don't want to go up in front of everyone and make a big deal about what I found myself believing, without doubt. Then I was walking. I was kneeling and then praying. I was overcome with emotions and felt all that pressure on my chest since I'd told my mom I didn't believe in God, being lifted. My pastor knelt beside me and asked if he could pray with me. We talked and I told him I did believe in God (the first time I'd ever said that out loud). I admitted that I was a sinner and I asked God to forgive me for those sins. I told him I believed Jesus was the son of God and Jesus died on the cross for my sins. I asked God to lead my life for His needs. There is no question that He heard me and answered my prayers.

  I was saved that day and know that God has put me here to lead others to Him. I have been told by many friends and family that they can see a whole new me. I thought I was always a good person, evidently there is more to being a good person than just staying out of trouble and being honest and fair to people. I liked to think that just being a good guy most of my life was good enough but I've learned that we can never be good enough to get into heaven. Ephesians 2:8-9 says : For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -  and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.

Read the full Testimony HERE

Jim Bull, Marion, KY


Center Gate Story

Careful our good intentions don’t spread a false gospel

Part 9 of our new series encouraging digging deeper into the Bible

By Scott Hilgendorff/Cowboys of the Cross

Without even realizing it, many Christian cowboys and bull riders have created their own false gospel, built around preaching success.

A false gospel is anything taught as if it were biblical but is not built around a correct interpretation of scripture. We see it all the time in bull riding and rodeo because we're trying to succeed in difficult and dangerous sports that come at great personal sacrifice to make it to the top.  We're taught about the need for a positive attitude and so we turn to scripture, looking for verses that support that and that will help make us successful.

It's easy to take scripture out of context and use it to promote a different interpretation of scripture. It's easy to make a verse sound like God want us to succeed on our terms, in our way and at our goals but that's far from the truth. We make chasing our dreams our priority, without ever taking the time to seek the knowledge and understanding of how to hear God and how to seek and live out His plan for our lives.

I can tell you personally, it wasn't my plan to make myself poor, to spend months living in my van in a parking lot and to live a life without much sense of having a home in order to try to minister to you all. My path, the one I chose for my life before I was saved, would have seen me with at least on the top side of the middle class with a decent house, motorcycle and travel plans a couple times a year. But when I learned to hear God and to seek His plan for my life, I realized it wasn't about me anymore and there were changes I had to make. I didn't give up being happy, but what makes me happy now is very different than what made me happy before.

But before we look further at this, we have to be clear about what it means to teach false. We're not talking about one or two verses that are interpreted differently that cause us to form different denominations such as the different way a pentecostal and baptist church would look at a verse about speaking in tongues. Those differences are significant enough that we have entire church organizations built around them, but the essentials of the gospel (who Jesus is, why He was sent and what His death on the cross meant) remain the same within those denominations.

We're also not talking about a pastor or preacher/teacher making a mistake in how he teaches a verse because of something he didn't understand.

 A false gospel takes our eyes off of who Jesus is, why He was sent and what His death on the cross meant.

And the Bible takes those false teaching very seriously.

Galatians 1:6-9 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.9As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

We're condemned by God for intentionally preaching or teaching falsely.

And the Bible warns to be careful of wolves in sheep's clothing and against false teachers in several places including:

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,

We're very guilty of this in North American culture right now. There are preachers offering all sorts of promises from God that don't line up with scripture but yet we line up at the doors of their churches. In rodeo and bull riding, we gravitate toward anything that sounds like it will help us be successful as we pursue our own passion of winning.

But Paul is telling Timothy that people will do just what we're doing in rodeo and bull riding, following anything that sounds positive and like it might be coming from God. Our own lack of knowledge of what's in scripture allows us to be fooled and to fool ourselves.

 What we're doing is dangerous because it takes our eyes off the gospel. What makes it doubly dangerous is that it all seems good and helpful and our intentions are not to do harm or to take advantage of others like they can be with some false preachers.  We're actually trying to help ourselves and each other.

But our thinking is literally upside down. We've allowed ourselves to be taught and think that the Bible and God are here to help make us happy. We think, quite innocently, that it's all about us when it's the other way around. It's all about God. He gave us a way through saving faith in Jesus Christ that we could be forgiven for our sins that would otherwise eternally separate us from God; He gave us a way to be with Him forever in Heaven having perfect lives there. But yet,  as we create our own false gospel built around achieving personal success, we're telling God that Jesus' death on the cross for us to have eternal life isn't good enough. We want more from Him and instead of seeking His plan for our lives, we mistakenly think He is here to  make us happy on our terms. Yet in one section from Matthew alone, we see Jesus making it clear that it's about following Him on His terms.

Matthew 8:18-22 Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”

For some of us, that can mean great success as a bull dogger with a bunch of arena records or a bull rider on the way to the PBR It can also mean ending up paralyzed but using the challenges God puts in our path to bring Him glory and point others to Christ.

Guys, there is so much in Scripture that makes it clear that God will look out for us but that everything we experience and endure, what seems good or bad to us, will be toward His purpose. He also makes it clear that we're here to glorify Him.

1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

It isn't about winning the buckle that glorifies God, it's about how we handle ourselves as we work toward that goal. Do we point others to Christ along the way or do we distort scripture and try to manipulate it, and God, into making us successful for ourselves?  Are we guilty of adding to the false gospel of positivity that we've created through our desire to succeed or do we help others to see Christ and explain to them who Jesus is and what He did for us?

Do we even understand that for ourselves? A true understanding of what Jesus did for us and submitting to Him as Lord and Savior of our lives will change us and how we approach our goals.