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(July 24)


NEW Center Gate Story– Part 6 of new series on positive thinking and Christianity continues–What a Christian positive attitude looks like

NEW TESTIMONY -Joel Compton has an important lesson to teach in 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

By Scott Hilgendorff/Cowboys of the Cross

1Peter 2:11-121Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

As bull riders and cowboys, we often can feel out of place in situations like church or even family functions where our chosen way of dress and even the words we speak don’t seem to fit in.

Peter reminds us that we’re “sojourners and exiles” here, meaning this isn’t where we belong. This world is not really our home.

He later will tell us our home and our hope is in Heaven and that we have to understand that when we suffer and face hardships here, it is just preparing us for our perfect home, that comes after this, very short life.

Knowing this isn’t our home, he asks us in these verses to live in a way that would point others to God so that they also could have a chance of gaining entry into Heaven where our faith in Jesus Christ has brought us.

Just like we’re seeing today, the unbelieving world is speaking badly of Christians but we have to ask ourselves if we are giving them a glimpse of Christ through our conduct or are we living our lives among them just the same as they are.


Strengthening your grip

We’re just travelers here waiting to go to our real home in Heaven

What does a positive attitude look like for Christians?

The next leg of our study on the power of positive thinking from a Biblical perspective takes us into just what a positive attitude looks like for Christians.

Again, we have to remember we've turned everything upside down. Studying concepts like The Secret and Pyschocybernetics or following what's called 'The Prosperity Gospel” (preachers who take the Bible out of context to make it sound like God will give us wealth, health and fame if we just have enough faith) contradict who God is. It makes everything we do about us and what God will do for us instead of the other way around. God did everything for us by giving us Jesus and a path to a perfect and eternal life in Heaven. Somehow, we find ourselves wanting more from God here and now, overlooking just how selfish that is.

Yet the Bible is clear on what we're supposed to do—follow God's plan for our lives which includes sharing who Jesus is with others and looking out for one another. None of it is about ourselves.  Peter makes this clear.

1 Peter 1:12  13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

It can take a minute to understand all this but what Peter is saying is pretty direct.

Prepare our minds for action—The mental power we try to harness toward winning a bull riding is meant to be put toward following God's direction for our lives or as Peter says at the end of this section, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” Pursing self instead of God is not pursuing holiness.

 Being sober-minded—Sorry guys, but as much as some of you want to justify using pot because it makes you feel good, just like drunkenness or allowing our anger, negativity and emotions to get the best of us, we're supposed to keep our mind clear. That helps us focus on God and the indirect benefit for us is that it also keeps our head clear in all situations including rodeo and bull riding.

Putting our hope on grace and Jesus—We're not supposed to be focused on worldly achievements but on Christ and what He did for us through his death on the cross.

Don't be conformed to the passions of our former ignorance—Before we were saved, we were consumed by our sin. We knew right from wrong based on our own moral compass or the world around us, but we were led by our own selfish pursuits whether it be drugs and alcohol or sex for the temporary pleasure it gives us or whatever we were following that wasn't of God. Stop pursuing sin and start pursuing God.

We're called to be holy in all our conduct—Do what's right. The rest falls into place.

Peter gives us some clear teaching on what a positive attitude looks like when it's focused on Christ. The purpose is to keep us following God, not our own sinful desires (anything we put before God).

 When we adopt this way of thinking, a Biblical one, we are no longer doing everything our way and trying to make God fit our plans, but following His plans for our lives. The indirect benefit is that we actually end up with a positive attitude that affects everything we do and everyone around us.

The mental power we try to harness toward winning achieves even more focused

on God

Part 6

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What you might feel negative about:

It’s hard to see pursuing achievements or success as selfish when we put them before following God.

The new ‘positives’ to take away:

When we do put God first and follow Scripture, as we become more Christ-like, we develop a positive attitude that affects how we approach our lives. God first, but we still see the benefits of Biblical positivity.

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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