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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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Down the Road

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What we say to each other matters, even to those we don’t like

Help Keep us on the road

By Scott Hilgendorff/Cowboys of the Cross

Name calling (and I'm guilty of it too) isn't okay in any way, but we also have to get over being offended every time it happens or someone disagrees with us.

The current election seems to be worse than most when it comes to personal attacks from the candidates. Donald Trump makes some pretty harsh statements and he’s been accused of calling a former beauty pageant winner, Miss Piggy while Hillary herself referred to thousands of people as ‘deplorables’.  But it’s about so much more than saying ‘mean’ words.

At the rodeo or bull ridings, we all have someone we like less than others. Somone will eventually cross us or tick us off and we’ll develop bad feelings toward that person. While Jesus commands us to love one another, we don’t have to be in relationship with each other, but that doesn’t give us permission to run each other down

However, we're going to fail at this sometimes, maybe often, but this is what Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:29 and it would make a difference in everything from this current round of protests to candidates' speeches to the grocery store line: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."

That’s pretty straightforward. Say things that encourage and motivate. Especially say things that show Christ to others and point them toward saving faith in Jesus.

But for those of us on the receiving end of insults and bad attitudes, we have to think about how we respond as well. The culture has gone to extremes where even differing opinions become a reason to be offended.

Proverbs 19:11 would help us eliminate the perceived need for 'safe spaces' on college campuses and for all the anger we express toward people we disagree with these days. "Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense."

Both of these verses, put into practice together could actually bring about an end to political correctness

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


By Jim Bull/Cowboys of the Cross

Back in 2002, I was trail riding almost all the time. I had my wife and a couple of friends that I rode with on weekends and I'd ride by myself, working with young horses, throughout the week. One particular weekend, my wife, Laura, and I, along with our friends Jason and Sarah and Laura's blue heeler, Dixie went for a trail ride up in the river bottoms. I'd been fishing, hunting and camping in those bottoms since I was a teenager but only knew a few spots very well. No one else in our group had any idea where we were or how to get around in there.

It was a beautiful late spring day and we planned on riding all day but had to be back home by a couple hours after dark so Sarah could get her daughter. We traveled the hour and a half up to the spot we were going to park and got the horses out and began brushing them out. At the time I had a beautiful dappled black Tennessee Walking Horse mare that I'd had a couple of years. When I first got her she was a six-year-old that had been stall-kept and arena-ridden all of her life.  She had never been rained on or out in the arena after a rain. She had never been ridden in tall grass or woods or anything distracting. She would not, under any circumstances, walk through a water puddle. It would've been hilarious, if it hadn't been so annoying. I'd put in a lot of hours, miles and even some blood and sweat getting her to come around to feeling safe with my decisions.

Laura was always working on her horses’ behavior and fine tuning their listening skills. She had brought her 16.3 hand thoroughbred, fresh off the racetrack, gelding.  She had worked with this horse a lot in a short amount of time and he'd responded well. They had built a strong bond very quickly.  

Jason was fairly new to horses and was riding a little appaloosa mare that was pretty calm and trustworthy. And Sarah had her beautiful paint horse that was tried and true.  

When we were saddled up and ready to head out, we started north west along a section of woods and an unplanted crop field.

  Jason, Sarah and I like to cowboy it up from time to time when we're on the trail and there's no one to bother by doing it. So it was of no surprise when the three of us got into a short race just to get our horses’ blood warmed up.  We never thought about the fact that we were running within a few yards of an ex -racehorse. We also didn't realize that, at the time,  my wife was working on leg cues and had laid the reins down on her horse’s neck and his head was straight out almost down. The surprise came when, at the moment we blew by this horse giving it all we had, he never even raised his head. He kept his walking pace and never appeared to give us a thought. Laura is a very good rider and trainer.

On down the trail awhile, we started curving through the woods and fields with the intent of circling around them and back to the truck and trailer. That way we wouldn't be back tracking over familiar trail. I was riding point most of the time and usually by several yards. Jason and Sarah would be side by side or one pushing the other but always close enough to talk without raising their voices. Laura would pull up the rear because she was always off to the side working this or that on her horse and teaching them to go where she says instead of just following the other horses.  

Out of nowhere, my mare bolted out into an empty field. It felt like she was trying to buck but was wanting to run too fast to get any height. I was lucky I wasn't laying on the ground from her running right out from under me. I was trying to get a rein shortened up so I could try to gain control of her again, but mostly I was trying not to fall out of the saddle!

I finally got her turned around and facing where we started and that fit her to stop because she didn't want to go that way. We were close to 50 yards out into the field (she really didn't want to be by the woods any more.)

I patted her neck and talked to her, asking her what was wrong.  My wife and friends were asking what the heck happened but I had no answers, yet.  I started slowly coaxing her back towards the trees. She was pawing and prancing and stopping every few feet or maybe I'd get a few yards but it was obvious she didn't want to go back. I could see where she was looking and I headed her straight into it. She reluctantly continued to move forward.  When we finally returned to the woodline I could see a plywood cutout of a goose.  That's what monster lurked in the trees. Naturally we all had a good laugh, though I think they all laughed more than I did.  

The day moved on and we continued our adventure. We crossed a low area that was usually just a little dry ditch but because of the weather it had become a flowing little mud creek. I was very proud of my mare that previously wouldn't step in  a mud puddle to save her life. This time, she went right in without any hesitation.  It ended up deep enough that my saddle got wet up to the bottom of the seat. It was the deepest crossing I had ever been in myself.  Jason, being new to riding was just as excited as I was and we high-fived and bragged about our accomplishments.

A mile or two up the trail we came to a roadway that went back towards the truck so we headed down it. The water was up over the road but it was easy to see where the road had went.  Again, I was in the lead, the water was about knee high on the horses and the day was turning out better than we ever expected. The next thing I know, I'm sitting in the water and I'm still in the saddle! Totally confused I tried to gain my bearings. My mare was moving about but not like I'd ever seen. I thought she'd fallen and broken a leg. Then I realize, she's swimming! The water had come up so fast that it'd washed the road away. As I was about to dismount so she could swim easier  (I'd never done water crossings that deep but I'd seen cowboys in the movies hold the horn and get pulled instead of riding the saddle through deep water) she caught footing on the other side and came back up to knee high water.  When everyone stopped laughing, again,  I laughed, as it was now their turn. They crossed with little excitement because they knew the ditch was there.  Laura didn't even get her feet wet as her long legged horse was able to step across the ditch.  Upon reaching the other side it was discovered that the road went to an oil pump and the brush was extremely thick  around it. We had to turn around and go back. When we reached the first side again, I realized our blue heeler wasn’t with us anymore. Upon looking around I saw Dixie quietly swimming off the side of the road trying to get on top of some tall grass but it was only pulling her down. I ran my mare back into the water, jumped off and picked our faithful companion up and set her in my saddle. Then I walked them both back to dry ground. In all the commotion we'd never thought that she'd just swam over 100 yards (to the oil pump and back) without ever having ground to touch. I let her ride with me for the next 30 minutes or so. Then she started asking to get down so I let her.  She went right over to a mud puddle and sat down, then rolled.  She loved the trails and the water.

We were needing to start heading back to the truck but were having difficulty finding a path to get us there.  When asked about it, I would point in the direction of the truck and give an estimated distance. The problem was there was too much back water that I wasn’t used to and I didn't have a direct plan on how to get back. As we continued on, knowing going back would take us way past dark,  we came back to the ditch we'd crossed earlier only here was an easy slope into the water but the other side was a high steep and slick clay mud bank.  I was ready to go but there was concern from the rest of the party.  They didn't know if they could make it up the hill.  After some discussion I finally asked if I did it without problems, would they follow. They all agreed, no.  I knew being on the high ground would get us back to the truck, but they didn't want to try the slick hill for safety reasons. I understood their concerns but thought the risk was worth the reward. We'll never know now.  

From that point it took us another hour to come to a place where the water came up again but only a few inches.  This time it was through the middle of the woods instead of along their edges.  We'd seen plenty of cotton mouth snakes throughout the day and I've seen more in general in those bottoms than I have everywhere else I've ever been combined. So going into a few inches of water through the middle of woods as the sun was really starting to go down, had me on edge and really watching for everyone's safety. All I could think about was an old movie called Southern Comfort where some national guard troops are walking through the swamps of Louisiana and things don't work out for them so well. The deeper into the woods we went the darker it got, partially because the sun was going down.

But we made it through without any more excitement. The ground finally got high enough, the water disappeared and we came out onto the gravel road we drove in on.  We were even within 50 yards of the truck.  The day was saved and we were all ready to go home. There was just one problem now. Someone had come along and locked the cable across the entrance to where we were parked! I rode my horse to the far end of the field we were next to and Jason rode to the opposite end both of us looking for another way out. No luck. We met back at the truck and decided we had to break out. We grabbed the tire tool out of the truck and went to see if we could pop the lock.  When we got to it Jason, being bigger and stronger than I am stuck the tool through the lock and turned it to take the slack out before really cranking down on it.  When he twisted it,  I noticed the post it was connected to moved! I told him to hang on and I examined it better.  Sure enough, the post was just sitting in an empty hole. No dirt in the hole. We picked up the post and opened the gate. After driving out we stopped and closed it back.  As we drove home we talked about the day. How much fun we had, the times that weren't as much fun,  and the mistakes we had made throughout the day that had us losing our way.

This trip was like my life in Christ all rolled into a single day.  We started out carefree and just wanting to enjoy the day. We ran into problems but weren't about to let them get us down.  Then we realized we had lost our way (I knew where we were and where we were going, just not how to get there.) But through faith and perseverance we made it through to our destination.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Always remember, the best protection we have against feeling lost is the constant presence of the Holy Sprit.


Lost on the trail was a reminder

of that path our Christianity takes