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(September 25)

NEW Center Gate Story– Part 10. Our series concludes.

NEW Strengthening Your Grip–Jesse teaches us about righteousness and being slaves to sin

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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

When we follow God, instead of ourselves, when we seek His will for our lives and pursue what He teaches us through the Bible, everything in our lives change. We die to self in order to live for Christ.

 Galatians 2:20  I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

For a Christian to begin developing a positive attitude from a Biblical perspective, he must first let go of the idea that God is here to make dreams come true if what we're pursuing are our own plans and not His. We have to recognize that God is in control and that sometimes, horrible events happen that we have no control over. But those events can ultimately bring God glory in how we tackle them.

 When we make our lives about God, even the worst, hardest situations become tools that strengthen us and draw us closer to God.

 James 1:12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

There's no better prize than that, but it's not easy getting there. Just like becoming a better roper or bull rider takes time and practice, it takes time to learn and apply God's word.

 It's easy to show 'fruit of the spirit', attributes that grow in us as saved Christians, when circumstances are going our way but that fruit, like joy and peacefulness, can be present in a struggle as well as we grow in our faith.

Focusing on God, learning from His word and living out what He teaches us can't help but produce a positive attitude inside us. Out of the transformation that comes from salvation, putting our hope in Christ after receiving forgiveness for our sins through him, our actions become devoted to showing Christ to others and living in a way that brings God glory.

We let go of our own plans, seek God's will for our lives but as we live that out, we find something unexpected has happened. Even a struggling rodeo or bull riding career no longer feel like struggles because in how we live out our success or what we feel like are failures, we suddenly discover a life in Christ is filled with positivity. We may not have that buckle or be on tour with the PBR, be we realize that by putting God first, everything else falls into place. As we become more defined by our relationship with Jesus Christ, life events we once viewed as negative become challenges that are easier to overcome and we see the positive purpose they serve in our lives or the lives of those around us. We handle confrontation better. We handle trials better.

When we put Christ first in our lives, everything else falls into place and life is lived out better. We don't do this because we want to win the next bull riding or rodeo or have a better life. We do this because Jesus saved us from our sin through our faith and confessions to him as Lord and we find ourselves compelled to pursue Him through Biblical knowledge. Instead of turning to resources like The Secret and Psychocybernetics or false preachers that tickle our ears with positive-sounding messages that never teach us about sin or the need of a savior, we turn to Jesus where we find the strength to succeed in whatever God puts in front of us—God's plans, not our own. And as we seek Him more, those plans become clear.

1 Timothy 6:6-11  But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. Fight the Good Fight of Faith But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.

We will face struggles. We will falter and fail. There will be times we wonder why we're never coming out on top but then we realize again, that's measuring success by this world's standards and our faith is strengthened, our resolve is more determined and day by day, our attitude toward life becomes more and more positive.

We don't pursue the Bible to become better bull riders, bronc riders, bull doggers, barrel racers and ropers. But we DO become better in our sport and everything else we do because we are pursuing  Jesus. In the eternal picture, we can't lose.

In our pursuit

of Christ,

life just becomes better without trying to make it happen

Part 10

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What you might feel negative about:

There’s no quick plan for success in mastering God’s word and letting it change our lives. It takes work and commitment–and faith.

The new ‘positives’ to take away:

In our pursuit of God and becoming more like Christ, we find that everything we do gets better. It isn’t our motivation to pursue Jesus but success in life becomes a result.


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

Kody Rinehart,                Blue Mountain, MS

Read the full Testimony HERE

To follow the whole series Click Here

By Jesse Horton/Cowboys of the Cross

All rodeo participants know there is a code of ethics, written or unwritten, when we are competing: Respect the judges and the arena directors, no foul language or “hissy fits” in the arena, cowboy attire only in the arena and back chutes…the list goes on.  All of these rules and more apply to those who participate while they are at the event or in the arena, but before the show and after you leave you are not bound by these rules.

Biblically speaking, we are supposed to view the old covenant of the law and the new covenant of grace through Christ Jesus in the same respect.  Romans 7:1 penned by the apostle Paul reads, “Do you not know, brothers…that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives?”  He gives the example of marriage.

As long as your spouse is alive you are bound to the rules and regulations of marriage, but once they are dead you are free to marry another.  Likewise, when we accept Christ’s gift of grace and give our lives over to His leadership, we are dead to the law (symbolized by baptism) and raised to newness of life in Jesus.  Either way, we are slaves to sin under the law or to righteousness under grace.

Yes, I said that under the law we are slaves to sin.  Why?  Because without the law, there are no transgressions.  The first command God gave to Adam and Eve was that they should not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or they would surely die.

Romans 7:11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.”  With no rules, there is no opportunity to break the rules and thus no transgression.

I remember as a kid coming home from school to the smell of fresh baked brownies (makes my mouth water just thinking about it).  I was raised right, so I knew you didn’t eat junk food until after supper, so I was fine to wait a little while.  But then the law came: “Don’t touch those brownies!  They’re for the new neighbors.”  That did it.  All I can think about is how badly I want a brownie…and sin was born!

And so it goes with toddlers all around the world.  The first time mom or dad tells them, “No,” and they understand and do it anyway, that child becomes a slave to sin.  

But hopefully they will hear the gospel – That Jesus, God in the flesh, came to earth, lived a sinless life, laid his life down on the cross to accept the righteous punishment due for sin (Romans 6:23 “the wages of sin is death”); but He didn’t rot there in that tomb; He arose, defeating death once and for all for those that would accept the trade He offers: He takes your death, you live His life; He took your sin, you get His righteousness.  IT’S THAT SIMPLE!  

Die to sin and the covenant of the law and live now under grace as a slave to the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Our culture across the world – especially here in America – is doing its best to tell us that there is no such thing as sin – only different ways of doing things.  And here’s the kicker: if you won’t accept that, you’re intolerant and a bigot.  I want to stress that there is a difference between tolerance and acceptance.  You can accept people right where they are, warts and all, and not condone the things they do to get those warts! (Isn’t that what God has done for us Christians?  Just like an old fisherman – catch ‘em, then clean ‘em!)  God has very clearly spelled out right and wrong in the Bible.  Wrong is sin; it’s not a difference of opinion.  

As our culture tries to eradicate the line between right & wrong and any personal accountability, I can just hear the words of that old serpent: “Did God really say…?” (Gen.3:1) and, “You will not surely die…” (Gen. 3:4).

Loved ones, we are being deceived.  Heaven and earth shall pass away, but the truth (of God’s word) will stand.  It is extremely important that we study our Bibles and know God’s heart behind the commands so that we know that serpent for exactly what he is when we see him: a liar, a thief, and a murderer who has come to steal, kill, and destroy us.  My challenge to you today is to study your Bible this week, even if only two or three times through the week and for only a chapter each time…but seek out God’s commands with this in mind:

 1. Who does the command benefit?

 2. Who is the command directed toward?

 3. Is the command applicable to me in the same context?

If you will ask and answer those questions, you’ll be able to understand the difference between old and new covenant commands and commands that lead to obedience to God versus commands that lead to self-righteousness, which is really no righteousness at all.  Isaiah 64:6 “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags…”  Live today in the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ as a slave to righteousness.

When we understand the rules and break them, we are slaves to sin;

Jesus frees us