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NEW THIS WEEK

(September 11)


NEW Center Gate Story– Part 9 of new series on positive thinking and Christianity continues–Letting go of the negativity of sin.


TESTTIMONY–Kody Rinehart, saddle bronc rider from MS, shares his story.

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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

Positive thinkers talk about getting rid of negativity in their lives whether it be people they feel hold them back or just negative or pessimistic thoughts. But what could be more negative to a Christian than sin in their lives.

James point blank tells us that sin can grow in us and lead to destruction.

James 1:15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death

Jesus tell us clearly that sin enslaves us.

John 8:34 “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.”

 Something that enslaves us, holds us back.

We looked earlier in the series at the fruit of the spirit like joy and kindness, attributes we'd look for in a positive person. These are the traits that grow in Christians who have given their life to Christ and are moving away from sin.

If sin leads to destruction and a Christian cowboy or bull rider is pursuing a positive attitude, the single most important step toward developing that is working on eliminating the negativity that sin brings to our lives.

Not every sin seems negative but we have to look back at something we've already learned about being a Christian. A Christian pursues God's plan for his life instead of his own desires. While that can include competing in rodeo or bull riding and a desire to win, whatever God puts in our lives for us to do is going to bring Him glory and work to His purpose. When we pursue our own goals without first seeing if they are following God's direction, we're just following our own selfish desires. The same applies to sin. Not every sin seems 'negative' but the 'fun' sins, like getting drunk and high are about pleasuring ourselves—putting ourselves first. We wouldn't argue that selfishness is negative and we need to let that negativity go with the rest our sins.

It's a struggle. In Christian terms, sanctification is the process of becoming more like Christ. It recognizes that even as saved, born again believers, we're still going to face sin in our lives so it's also important to remember that, through Christ, we're forgiven and we can't beat ourselves up when we make a mistake. Just like letting go of the negativity of sin, we have to let go of those times when we feel like we're failures because of our sin. God doesn't see us that way, we certainly shouldn't see ourselves that way either.

The most positive thing to remember is that God gave us a way to be redeemed for our sin and no matter what sins we struggle with, there's forgiveness and restoration found in faith in Jesus Christ.

Through Him, there's no reason to feel held back by our sins or to ever feel like we're not good enough. Through Christ, God sees us without our sin. It doesn't get more positive than that.

2 Corinthians 5:21 “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Nothing could be more negative in our lives than sin. We’ve got to work on letting it

all go

Part 9

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What you might feel negative about:

There’s this feeling that we can’t live up to the Bible’s expectations. It’s hard to remember that once we’re saved, God forgives all the mistakes we make

The new ‘positives’ to take away:

Letting go of sin increases the positivity in our lives as we become more like Christ.

TESTIMONY

I grew up in a Christian home with Godly parents; my mother and father were the youth leaders at our church at time. Around five or six years old, my mind was wandering and I  decided I wanted to get saved, I remember even standing at the top of my stairs and saying in my head “go ahead, you will get to be in water.”

I walked downstairs and talked to my daddy for about 30 minutes about being saved. After we talked and he explained several things that I did not understand, I said a prayer and went back to bed. A few weeks later a few of my cousins and I were baptized at my family’s church. I held on to that thought and prayer that I was saved and did not have to worry about a thing anymore. When I was in the 7th at the FCAKick-off youth service, I “rededicated” my life, the very next year at the same event in 8th I did the same thing, “rededicate.” While playing

football and taking classes together, I became friends with a boy named Drew and he invited me to church at Oakland Baptist Church one Sunday. I fell in love with it! Oakland had so many chances and openings for me to grow and learn. I was able to be involved with people my age that loved Christ, I did not have that at my familiy’s church because my brother, a couple of cousins, and I were the only youth and we did not do When it came to events or activities, I was signed in and ready for everything, even church camp. Being my first church camp, I was nervous, excited, and ready for the week! On the Monday that we left, something happened to me that, in my mind I thought, would ruin everything. I was depressed and upset, but tried to stay positive the best I could and open to what God had for me; little did I know that He was using it to soften my heart.

      God had already started working and on Tuesday night during church group time, our


Joel Compton,                Blue Mountain, MS

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