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NEW THIS WEEK

(August 20)


NEW Center Gate Story– Part 8 of new series on positive thinking and Christianity continues–Taking every though captive.


DON’T MISS– Strengthening Your Grip -If you proclaim Christ as your savior, integrity matters

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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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Center Gate Story

Strengthening your grip

Self-discipline is essential to a successful rodeo or bull riding career. Diet and exercise take self-discipline to succeed. We have to be self-disciplined to keep up with regular drills and practice, be it with a Mighty Bucky or a roping dummy.

The same goes for our Christian faith.

It takes self-discipline to read your Bible daily, to pray regularly and to make it to church on time to worship together as believers and learn from God's word from teachers called by Him to help shape our lives.

Heck, it even takes self-discipline to ignore the distractions ahead of the start of a rodeo or bull riding to make it over to cowboy church.

During  a period of his ministry, the Apostle Paul was faced with conflict within the church. By being absent on his missionary journeys or time imprisoned, others began to question the strength and integrity of his leadership and he addressed the church at Corinth quite strongly.

In his letter to them in 2Corinthians, he told the church they need to face the arguments and attacks against Christianity and the church by presenting  back to them who we are as Christians with Christ living in us. To succeed as Christians in a world against us, we're to take every thought captive and make it obey Christ's teaching.

 2Corinthians 10:5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,”

There's so much teaching, especially among bull riders, about the power of positive thinking and laws of attraction that in many ways, mirror this. The problem is, we're taking thoughts captive with the mistaken idea that we're in control and we think we can influence outcomes in our favor as we pursue our own goals.

For Christians, it can't work both ways. We can't be developing our minds to achieving our own goals while also making them obedient to Christ. We can go our own way, ignoring the fact that God's still in control of the outcomes, or we can focus our thinking on Christ.

If we learn to be self-disciplined and start focusing our thinking on a Biblical worldview (letting our Christianity define how we approach our culture) the when a choice or idea is presented to us that goes against our faith, we're able to stand against it and it has no power to affect not let it affect our faith or distract us from following Christ.

The ideas presented in materials like Psychocybernetics in themselves are not all bad when it comes to understanding we can have influence with our thinking. It's that these books and ideas point us toward pursuing our own goals, ignoring those of God and the Bible.

But when we're following God's plan for our lives, God can have tremendous influence through us on the rodeo grounds and bull riding arenas when we learn how to think as a Christian and let that thinking influence the world around us.

In Romans, Paul reminds us that in Christ, our lives are transformed by the renewal of our mind into one that is focused on God. He urges us not to follow worldly thinking but, as we let our lives be changed by God, we will be able to recognize what His plans are for our lives verses our own.

 Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

We can be tempted by the large number of bull riders and cowboys following power of positive thinking techniques but if we are taking every thought captive, we can stand against that temptation. We're going to realize God's way is better and look for how we can honor and glorify Him in all that we do.

PRACTICE KEEPS YOU FROM BEING ONE-JUMPED OR MISLED IN YOUR FAITH

 While writing this, a bull rider posted a status message to Facebook that said, Maybe if you would practice you wouldnt get one jumped at the rodeos!

 Exactly! If we practice our faith, if we are self-disciplined and focus on taking our thinking captive and turning it toward what we're learning from the Bible and Christian teachers, we won't get one-jumped by our own plans and find the kingdom-building success that comes from following Christ and leading others to him.

Taking every thought captive means thinking like a Christian and letting that shape your world

Part 8

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What you might feel negative about:

It takes time and practice to learn to focus your thinking on Christ. We have to spend time learning what’s in the Bible and how to apply it.

The new ‘positives’ to take away:

When we focus our thinking on Christ-like thoughts, it actually improves the world around us as God works through us.

TESTIMONY

I grew up in a very legalistic type family.  Church was something that you had to do and you had better act a certain way while you were there because people were watching and we didn't want to give anybody any bad ideas about how we "lived"!  Of course that carried over into the week too - everything was done to create an image of ourselves so that people would think of us a certain way!  I hated it!!

I say that because someone knows what I'm talking about -- when "religion" is an image builder or a status inhancer to someone's life, and not only that but the image or status in which others are viewed as well.  My family was extremly judgemental and since they looked at others this way, they were always worried about how others were judging them.


I started riding broncs in high school - and had to go rounds and rounds with my folks just to have them sign off for it.  They didn't know anything about the world of rodeo so surely it had to be of the devil!  Nobody who followed God could ever do something that "dangerous" they said.  (That theory doesn't match up with the New Testament disciple's lives does it!)  However I absolutely loved rodeo and everything that came with it!  I graduated high school in 1995 and moved to Torrington, WY to rodeo for Eastern Wyoming College.  At this point, my eyes were focused on pursueing the PRCA and not much else.  I had pretty much come to the conclusion that I just wouldn't ever be good enough to please God.  I believed that He had given me whatever raw talent and ability I had but it was now entirely up to me to do whatever I could with that on my own.  First year of college didn't go great so I took the next year off so i would have more time to work and ride broncs.  From there I was offered an opportunity to go rodeo for Fort Scott, KS and since Coach Luthi was one of my biggest heroes I jumped at the chance.  I bought my permit and won money at my first pro show entered - then I won the permit buckle at Sidney, Iowa on an NFR horse of Cervi's -- I was fired up!!!


Then I tore my knee up pretty bad and had to go through some reconstructive surgery on it - the sports medicine docs doubted how well it would ever heal, but I would go through rehab to get released so I could enter up and then tear it again.  Three years in a row I had knee surgery and I was starting to feel it -physically of course but the bills were also stacking up and not being able to get healthy and what that might mean got to fighting with my thinking too.  The greatest thing that happened through this time was Lyle Sankey asked me to work bronc riding schools with him.  Since I was hurt and not traveling it was a perfect way to keep focused and keep my mind surrounded with positive people while staying in the middle of rodeo.  I had been a student in Lyle's schools for years - Rick Carpenter had worked with Lyle and was the biggest influence of how I rode.  Lyle taught me the business side of the sport during this time, how to think, how to travel, where to enter, how to promote yourself, and he exposed me to an image of God that I had never seen before.  It was in this environment that God wasnt just a judge who was always keeping you down because you weren't good enough for Him.  It would take a few more years for this to have its full effect on me but I am forever thankful to Lyle Sankey for the investment he made in a hurt kid that didn't know what he was missing.  He planted a seed that was more significant than anyone will ever know.


I had finished up my college career at the University of TN Martin and was still living inTN - mostly going to circuit rodeos managing the injuries best I could.  There was a pretty girl named Connie I had been wanting to hook up with for o, about six years! (we met in college when I was first in WY and had kept in touch).  She lived in Nebraska and so for my July 4th run in 2001 I decided to head that direction.  I worked my way up from Tennessee north - I drew real good in Mt Pleasant, Michigan on a J-J stud horse and won it with an 85 but then got run over by the pick-up horse.  It messed up my back pretty good but I kept on.  Loaded up with muscle relaxers and motrin I still could barely carry my saddle.  I rode up in Crawford, NE and then stopped by to see Connie.  I was entered in one more in Kansas City for the fourth but since I was kinda beat up she said if I wanted to take some time off I could come back and hang out in NE, so thats what I did.


I had already qualified for the circuit finals that winter and that would end up being my last season riding broncs.  We were married the following spring and she was just a greater priority to me than trying to squeeze another year or two out of my body.


So I started a ranch job and Connie and I began building a horse training business.  I put the exact same principles I had competed with into this new life.  We worked hard and when things didnt work out quite right then I just worked harder the next time.


Years rolled along and our business grew - we aquired more stuff.  I worked a variety of trades because like with rodeo, I was willing to do whatever it took.  However stress grew, and we were both getting tired of the pace we had set.  Pretty soon it seemed that Connie was disappointed with me and I would get disappointed with her because we were both making sacrifices individually but not getting filled back up again.  As much as I had previously put into rodeo, I was putting more into Connie (I thought).  She was the most important treasure in my world and I tried to provide her with everything I thought she would like, but she was becoming less and less happy with me - it had become an ultimate frustration.  I was starting to wonder if we would survive - I just couldn't understand how I could give something or in this case someone my all and it not be enough.  I had met a guy at the tack store who told me about their church and how the pastor was kinda a cowboy (he roped) ha! So as a last resort I told Connie that we should go to church.  She agreed and our worlds were in for a change!


I heard the Bible taught as the ultimate source of truth -- not relying on someone's own opinion or interpretation but relying on the Word of God to be enough.  I learned how God did not just give us talents and abilities and then sit back with His arms crossed to see what we would do with them, constantly judging our weaknesses.  Instead I became aware that He had a plan for me and He created me for this purpose and the ultimate end of that purpose is to know Him and if I was willing to let Him lead than He would take me as His own son and guide me along the way no matter what may come up.  See, my gift was not just that I was given a life to live on earth, but my gift is that the God who created this earth, wanted me to know Him!  And what better way to get to know someone than to live every step of life with them.  I am a simple thinker so I looked in the Bible where Jesus was asked what the greatest commamdment was - I thought the "Greatest Commandment" would be a significant place to start!  I read Mark 12:30 where Jusus said "you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength."  This sounded pretty complete to me -- He said ALL, not even most but ALL!  I read the Bible and read and read and realized that what I had been doing was making my wife my god.  I did everything for her, but she was designed the same as me, which meant I could never be enough for her - only the God who created her could fill that role.  And this same God who desired to call us His children, demanded that only He could have my all.  I went to my wife and told her that she could not longer be the most important thing in my life - I must give that to God.  However if I was obedient to God than I could finally be the husband that He had designed for her.  God is the master and designer of relationships - His way is the best way.  It is sad that even in our church culture so many people think it an admirable thing to put your spouse first or put your family first - I mean it sounds good!  But then God cannot be first, and only when He is our number one priority can we truly experience the blessings of other relationships.  


I know this is pretty wordy - but Scott asked me to share how I got to where I am now and without looking at what happened in my life -looking at the areas that I gave all my heart, soul, mind, and strength - without that I dont know how to explain the change that took place when I finally gave Him my all.  Now God is enough for me and He is enough for my wife, and we are able to use His strength to support and encourage each other.  I can now lead her only because I am following Him.  


I dont even know how Scott plans to use this story (another cool side note is I met Scott while coaching bronc riding with Lyle) I don't know who will be reading it - but if I could be at all encouraging to someone who knows how to lay it all on the line for the great sport of rodeo, then we may just have something in common.  I want to encourage you to go to the source - pray that God would teach you what He wants you to learn and than read His Word.


I presently pastor a Cowboy Church in Wray, CO with my main focus being on the youth and God is constantly providing for Connie and myself with whatever we may need.  I still work a job to cover living expenses and we still train and market performance horses.  


My prayer is that this will land in front of someone who may be encouraged by a piece of our story.  God bless!

I started riding broncs in high school - and had to go rounds and rounds with my folks just to have them sign off for it.  They didn't know anything about the world of rodeo so surely it had to be of the devil!  Nobody who followed God could ever do something that "dangerous" they said.  (That theory doesn't match up with the New Testament disciple's lives does it!)  However I absolutely loved rodeo and everything that came with it!  I graduated high school in 1995 and moved to Torrington, WY to rodeo for Eastern Wyoming College.  At this point, my eyes were focused on pursueing the PRCA and not much else.  I had pretty much come to the conclusion that I just wouldn't ever be good enough to please God.  I believed that He had given me whatever raw talent and ability I had but it was now entirely up to me to do whatever I could with that on my own.  First year of college didn't go great so I took the next year off so i would have more time to work and ride broncs.  From there I was offered an opportunity to go rodeo for Fort Scott, KS and since Coach Luthi was one of my biggest heroes I jumped at the chance.  I bought my permit and won money at my first pro show entered - then I won the permit buckle at Sidney, Iowa on an NFR horse of Cervi's -- I was fired up!!!

Then I tore my knee up pretty bad and had to go through some reconstructive surgery on it - the sports medicine docs doubted how well it would ever heal, but I would go through rehab to get released so I could enter up and then tear it again.  Three years in a row I had knee surgery and I was starting to feel it -physically of course but the bills were

Joel Compton

Read the full Testimony HERE

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By Jesse Horton/Cowboys of the Cross

Recently our discipleship group here at Cowboys of the Cross has been called out, as we all should be, on the issue of integrity.  Webster’s dictionary has a couple of different (but basically the same) definitions for integrity, but the two I’d like to consider for study today are “firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : incorruptibility”, and “an unimpaired condition : soundness.”

We’ve all heard this at least once in our lives: “The reason I don’t go to church is because it’s full of hypocrites.”  A hypocrite is exactly the opposite of someone who has integrity – hypocrites “don’t practice what they preach”; they are in an impaired condition.  Now, let’s take a deeper look.

The apostle Peter is one of my favorite characters in the Bible.  He was very passionate and had strong faith, in fact he was quick to be one the first to openly identify Jesus as the Messiah, and even jumped out of a boat onto the raging Sea of Galilee to walk on water.  He was eventually crucified upside down at his own request because he was “not worthy” to die in the same way Jesus did.  But Peter is also the disciple who denied even knowing Jesus as the chief priests and elders attempted to make a case against Him during an illegal trial that led to Jesus’ crucifixion even after he publicly (and almost belligerently) told Jesus “even if all fall away, I will not” and was ready to follow Jesus “even unto death.”  

So, by definition, Peter would be a hypocrite and lacking integrity, though he was one of the greatest tools in advancement of the early church to both Jews and Gentiles.  The wonderful end to this story can be read in the last chapter of John’s gospel where Jesus reminds Peter of his failure, yet accepts him right where he is and even gives him a job to do for God’s kingdom…and God used poor little imperfect Peter, the hypocrite.

So, the point is that even the most devout Christians will suffer from a lack of integrity.  In other words, we are all hypocrites at one time or another.  Surprise, surprise: NOBODY IS PERFECT!  I mean, come on…there was only one Jesus!  So let me assure you: (1) No one realistically expects you to be perfect, regardless of your religious affiliation (or theirs for that matter) or lack thereof, (2) it is okay if you fail, (3) failure does not mean you cannot serve God and win people to Christ for God’s glory.  With that said, I want to remind you how seriously God views a lack of integrity in regards to your faith.

Acts 5:1-10

Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.

3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”

5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6 Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.

7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”

“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”

9 Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”

10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

Remember, this was the beginning of the church (believers in Christ, not a building or an organization) and it was under great scrutiny.  They were growing rapidly in number due to the fact that it was evident that they loved one another unselfishly.  They would even sell their possessions and share their resources as anyone had need.  THAT, my friends, IS WHAT THE CHURCH SHOULD LOOK LIKE!  And in the beginning, integrity was very important to the longevity of God’s church.  If God had allowed people to be deceptive at this stage, the church would surely have suffered and possibly died out altogether.  God wants his church to be pure.  He wants his followers to do so with integrity.  As such, we should be diligent in pursuing and knowing God, so that we can follow him rightly…so that we can worship him in Spirit and in TRUTH.  How can you worship truth you do not know?

My plea to you is this, and it is nearly as serious as God’s view of hypocrisy in the early church: If you claim the name of Christ, then know Him; study your Bible to learn how to follow God rightly.  If you are not willing to do this, to be discipled by the Holy Spirit and the community of believers God has placed you with…then STOP CLAIMING HIS NAME.  I love you enough to tell you that if you aren’t serious about your faith in Christ, then you are hurting the image of Christ’s church, and you will be called to account for that one day.  I have my own faults, and I expect perfection from no one, but I do expect true Christians to dwell on the truths of God and submit their lives to those truths.  May God give us all the strength to walk with integrity.


To claim Christianity means walking in integrity, not hypocrisy

Integrity