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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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Learning to ride a horse can be like learning

to talk about God

Please Consider Giving

By Jim Bull/Cowboys of the Cross

  My wife, Laura, grew up in an unlikely place to be a horse lover. She started her work with horses at the age of 8 while living in the city of Saugus, MA, just outside of Boston. She talked her parents into getting her riding lessons at a local barn. They gave her one month of lessons and she had to work at the barn to pay for any further lessons. That may seem like a tall order for such a young kid, but she never strayed. Stalls were cleaned with a smile, horses groomed, watered, fed and walked without complaint, and all this to be able to ride a horse. To be able to sit in a hard saddle with her legs stretched around a horse as big around as a 50 gallon barrel and get bounced like a rag doll around in circles. Sound like fun? But then you feel the rhythm. You start to not bounce as much as you flow with the animal. The wind blows over your face and your freedom takes on a whole new meaning. Life takes on a whole new meaning.

  Laura's love and growth through horses is a lot like our growth as Christians. A lot of us go through life without acknowledging  God is real or without giving ourselves to Him. It would seem we are an unlikely place for God to grow a Christian, but this is where some of the most amazing testimonies come from. From Laura's first lesson she was hooked for life. That one lesson could be you taking a moment to say a few words about God to a stranger in line at the grocery store or a fast food restaurant or in a chute about to go for the ride of their life. Seeds are planted small and, with God's power and love, grow. Talking about God and scripture may be as uncomfortable as bouncing, spread-legged, around in circles on an animal you have very little control over. But with practice and persistence and prayer, it will become second nature, fluid and give yet another meaning to your freedom.

  As a Christian we are commissioned to spread the Word of God (Matthew 28:16-20). It is up to us to learn the Word of God to be comfortable spreading the Word of God. God is our everything. Without Him we have nothing. He is to be our priority in life and our life should reflect Him.

  Mark 16:15 He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation."  

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

Part 2 of 2

First we’re careful with God’s word, then we act on it

By Scott Hilgendorff/Cowboys of the Cross

What do we do with God's word after we've studied and shared it carefully?

 We act on it.

 James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

James makes it pretty clear that we need to live out God's word, not just listen to it and ignore what it says.

 Last time, we looked at the issue of being careful with God's word. We often mean well and want to encourage others but we say things like this, taken from a recent Facebook post bull riders were sharing: “Kindness and love is what changes hearts.”

 It sounds great, but the theology is dangerously wrong when it points us away from the Gospel and toward ourselves. The love of Christ is what changes hearts, not our acts of kindness.

But, God most certainly can use our actions to change the world around us.

First though, it's important to be reminded that our actions don't save us. How do we measure if we're good enough before God or if we've done enough good to enter into Heaven? We can't and we don't. All our sin, big or small, separates us from God.

Ephesians 2:8-10 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. For we are God痴 handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Works, our good actions, are a product of our faith. We do good things because it's what God wants us to do out of our salvation and has prepared for us to do. But God's grace first saves us from our sin and covers us when we fail as Christians.

God will give us a purpose when we seek Him. It can mean turning your life upside down to get to look after a ministry or it can be simpler, like always being ready to help someone at the side of the road whose car has broken down. The opportunity to serve then leads to opportunity to share the gospel with others around us.

We learn to do this through following God's word and James stresses to us how important it is to do that, taking it further to tell us how foolish it is when we don't.

James 1:23-25 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it溶ot forgetting what they have heard, but doing it they will be blessed in what they do.

Two thousand years later, it's a firm illustration we can still understand: to learn something from the Bible and then ignore it is as dumb as looking in a mirror and then not recognizing your own driver's license photo.

And it also encourages us with the understanding that it's through God's word we can discover freedom from our sins (through Jesus Christ) and that by living out what we learn in those pages, God will bless those actions, especially when we understand from Ephesians, that God has prepared us to carry out those actions.