Your Christian Cowboy Resource

By Scott HIlgendorff/Cowboys of the Cross

Surround yourself with positive people. Stay away from negative people who will bring you down.

There is some good logic in this. It makes sense that if we surround ourselves with positive people, it will help us keep a positive attitude. A common piece of advice among rodeo cowboys and bull riders is to pick traveling partners who are good at what they do and who will encourage you, have positive attitudes and will help keep you fired up.

But remember, we're not like the rest of the world. As Christians, depending on how you look at it, it can get more complicated.

 John 15: 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

Jesus is warning us that it can be rough for Christians. They were facing persecution at that time by the cultural elite who opposed Christ's teaching. Now, in the United States, where we've enjoyed great religious freedom, we're seeing Christians coming  under regular attack now because our beliefs go against current cultural thinking about right and wrong.

But while our faith separates us from the world, Jesus also commands us to get out there in it and share the gospel with everyone, making disciples everywhere we go in what is known as the Great Commission.

 Matthew 28: 19-20 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

If we only surround ourselves with like-minded people, how can we accomplish this?

 So two things are happening: we're being told we're separate from the world but we're told to get out there in it and tell others about Christ. That's what you see on our 典estimony・pages on the website but how often are we having these conversations as we go down the road with our traveling partners?

Cowboy Christmas is almost here and the busy summer season that follows, when more cowboys and bull riders will log more miles together than pretty much any time of the year. What are our conversations going to be about? If we're traveling with like-minded athletes coaching and pushing one another to do better, are we also finding time to talk about who Jesus is and what he means to our lives?

This a a “both/and” situation.

We're supposed to separate ourselves from the worldly influences that can literally destroy our faith.

The Israelites of the Old Testament were instructed to build piles of stones when they crossed the Jordan River to serve as markers that would remind them and generations to come of the miraculous works God had done in delivering them from Egypt and loving them as His chosen people. As they inherited the lands God set aside for them, they were instructed to destroy entire nations to keep their influence away from them. They failed to do this and as a result, lost everything and were exiled to Babylon because they allowed their lives to be influenced by other cultures and thinking that took their focus off of God. That's how much God wants our focus on Him.

So, one part of the “both/and” is that, we should be keeping negative influences away. Just like choosing traveling partners for their positive attitude, we should be choosing them for their faith, surrounding ourselves with like-minded believers that will help us to grow in our faith, disciple us like the Great Commission mentions and encourage us as believers.

 Ephesians 4: 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

On this part of the book of Ephesians, Paul has been telling the Ephesian church to keep themselves away from negative influences and to live out a Christian life among others in a way that there is only “positivit: and encouragement coming from them. Not so that they can become better fishermen or more successful in their employment, but so that others can see Christ in them. Remember, it's about God first; our rodeo and bull riding careers come after that, but they will naturally benefit from a positive attitude that comes out of our relationship with Christ and our desire to see others saved.

The other part of the “both/and” is that while we're supposed to keep apart from influences that would hinder our faith, we're supposed to go where the people are to share the Gospel with them, just like Jesus did. He didn't keep away from 'negative' people. Instead, Jesus put himself in the middle of situations filled with people from every kind of background because they all need to know about how their sin separates them from God but that they can receive salvation through a relationship with him.

How many people in need of healing and freedom from their sins would encounter Christ through us if we only focused our lives on those who could bring something more to ours?

We're supposed to take the necessary steps to keep our focus on God but we're not to completely remove ourselves from the culture around us. The Great Commission directs each and every one of us to be out there in that world telling others who Jesus is, rich or poor, successful or struggling.

 How that can look for a Christian cowboy or bull riding is like this: We put other Christians in the car with us who are trying to keep God our main focus while working to succeed in their events. We get to the rodeo grounds or bull riding arena and see it as a mission field where we can reach out to others by both showing the love of Christ and speaking about God's saving grace. We spend time with our non-saved friends, allowing us to be 'in the world' as we pull their ropes, loan them gear, talk about their rides, offer advice and, where we can, allow who we are as believers to come into those conversations. Then, we choose hitting the Waffle House with our traveling partners again over the bar scene where we're going to struggle against temptations to sin, causing us to be “of the world”.

This isn't a list of rules to follow to be right with God. It’s an idea of the situations out there that allow us to be 'in', but not 'of' the world as we try to find that balance between surrounding ourselves with positive attitudes and other Christians while still not avoiding those that need our positive influence to lead them to be better athletes but, most importantly, to lead them to Christ and disciple them.

Part 4

As Cowboy Christmas arrives, who is in that car with you? Are they positive people? Are they believers?


Part 5 CLICK HERE

Having to think more about the situations we put ourselves in and recognize negative influences affect our faith, not just our career.

The new ‘positives’ to take away:

We’re actually supposed to have a positive attitude and surrounding ourselves with positive people can help us grow in our faith when those people are Christians. It can lead others to Christ

What you might feel negative about: