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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 Jesse Horton /Cowboys of the Cross     

 1 Introduction

I have four children. They are all unique individuals with their own personalities. My love for them is equal, but different – I have to love them for who they are and in their specific situations. Because of their unique situations, they experience my love differently. An obedient child will experience my love for them more completely than a disobedient child. In John 15:10, Jesus tells His disciples, “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love.” God’s love is experienced increasingly with increasing obedience. Here’s the key point: Obedience or the lack thereof either denies or affords the devil an opportunity to claim ground in your life on which to build a stronghold.

 2 What Are Strongholds?

Strongholds are areas of a believer’s life that have been surrendered to the enemy. Unbelievers are “open season” for demonic oppression & possession.

Strongholds are not to be confused with trials that are not equated with personal sin, but are used by God to produce spiritual growth. Such was the case with Job, a righteous man who feared God and shunned evil (Job 1:6-12).

In verse 12 of Job 1, we see two key points. First, Satan needs God’s permission to attack a righteous person who shuns evil. This is why these types of afflictions are not the result of strongholds – Satan does not have permission to claim ground in your life, but only has permission to test you in a way that, if you stand, the result is increased knowledge of and a closer relationship with God. Ephesians 4:27 tells us not to give the devil a foothold or an opportunity. An opportunity is defined as a good chance for advancement or progress. If you give the devil an opportunity, there’s a good chance he will gain ground in your life, build a stronghold, and deny you the abundant life that Christ came to earth for you to have, but ultimately it is up to you to surrender that ground to Satan.

Second, we notice that God sets the limits of Satan’s authority in the life of someone who shuns evil. Again, this is not consistent with a stronghold. Remember the definition of opportunity? Satan has a good chance to make progress against your freedom from sin if you give him a foothold, but he has no chance to advance if God appoints the trial for you. In Jim Logan’s book Reclaiming Surrendered Ground, the author states, “When we live in integrity and the fear of the Lord, Satan’s fiery arrows that pass through God’s hedge of protection serve as a refining fire.” This was surely evidenced in Job’s life in the final chapters of the book.

Biblical Examples of Strongholds

Saul – the unrepentant king of Israel – offered a sacrifice that was not lawful for him to offer since he was not a priest (1 Samuel 13). The prophet, Samuel, told Saul that as a result of this disobedience the kingdom would be stripped from his family in future generations. There is no record of Saul’s response to this consequence, but based on future events we can be certain that repentance was not Saul’s response! In chapter 15 of 1 Samuel, Saul was told to “utterly destroy” the Amalekites – leaving no person or animal alive (v. 3). Verse 8 and following records that Saul captured the king alive and did not kill any of the best animals of the Amalekites because they were “unwilling to utterly destroy” them. When the prophet Samuel arrived, Saul exclaimed that he had “carried out the commandment of the Lord.” Samuel sarcastically asked him, “Then what’s this lowing of oxen and bleating of sheep I hear (paraphrased)?” Saul told Samuel that the men kept back the best of the animals to offer as a sacrifice “to the Lord your God,” (I find it odd that Saul consistently referred to the Lord as YOUR God…not MY God). Samuel told Saul that God desires obedience, not sacrifice, and then he informed Saul that God had rejected him from being king – not just that a future generation would lose the throne. That finally hit home with Saul and he admitted to Samuel that he had sinned “because [he] was afraid of the people.” Saul was afraid men, but not of God. While Saul acknowledged his sin to Samuel, he failed to recognize it before God and repent (or turn around). He asked Samuel to forgive his transgression (but not God) and to honor him in front of the elders and people of Israel. Saul was more concerned with his public image than with how God felt about him. As a result, Saul began a slow decline. He was tormented by an evil spirit, yet rather than repent he tried to alleviate the problem with a little worship music (1 Samuel 16:14-16).  Saul became increasingly anxious and jealous of his successor, David, to the point of madness. Saul and his son, Jonathon, were both killed in battle, effectively eliminating his lineage.

David – the fallen but repentant king (see 2 Samuel 11-12) – was dependent upon and obedient towards God as Saul pursued his life. But after his kingdom was established and prospering, he became complacent in his wealth and success. In this state of ‘spiritual drift’, he drifted away from God. Either we actively pursue God, or we’re drifting away! David stayed home rather than going to battle as he should have, and that gave the devil an opportunity to entice him. He woke up (in the evening!) and saw Bathsheba bathing from his roof. He inquired and was informed that she was the wife of Uriah the Hittite. This, however, did not discourage him. He sent for her and slept with her and she conceived a child. David tried to cover his sin by bringing Uriah home from battle, but Uriah would not sleep with his wife while his fellow soldiers were at war. So David sent him back with orders for the commander of the unit to set Uriah at the front line and then withdraw from him, and so Uriah died in battle at the hands of his adulterous king. The prophet Nathan told David a story of a poor man who had but one little ewe lamb that he loved like a daughter. One day a wealthy man with large flocks of sheep took that lamb from him to feed a traveler that had come to his home. David was infuriated by the story and exclaimed that the man who did this would surely die and that he would pay four lambs for the one he took. Nathan replied, “You are the man!” David was immediately sorrowful. He confessed his sin against God and asked God to purify him (Psalm 51). This is genuine repentance! Even so, David experienced consequences as the result of his sin. His house was constantly involved in struggle from within. His first baby with Bathsheba died shortly after birth. His son Amnon raped his half-sister Tamar. Tamar’s brother Absalom killed Amnon in vengeance. Absalom was killed in battle after splitting David’s kingdom in a military defection. His son Solomon had his other son Adonijah killed because he threatened Solomon’s throne. Did you notice how many sons David lost in premature death? Four. He paid four fold for the one error.

Joseph is not so much an example of a person with a stronghold as an example of how to avoid a stronghold. He was a slave of Potiphar, and Potiphar’s wife “cast longing eyes on Joseph,” (Genesis 39:6). She insisted to Joseph that he sleep with her, but he would not do such a “wicked thing and sin against God.” Finally, she caught Joseph in the house while everyone was gone, grabbed him by his robe, and said, “Lie with me!” He didn’t argue with her. He didn’t try to ignore her and continue on his way. He ran from her so fast he left his robe in her hand. Men, that’s how we must handle sexual temptation…flee (1 Corinthians 6:18)! This is another example of how Satan’s fiery arrows became a refining fire. Joseph suffered, but the result was that he came to a position of power “to save many people alive,” (Genesis 50:20).


In two weeks, we explore how to break strongholds and live in victory

What strongholds do you give

the devil power over in your life?

Part 1 of 2

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

TESTIMONY