But I’ve only got two cheeks to turn

But I’ve only got two cheeks to turn

By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross

It could be one of the hardest instructions from Jesus for a cowboy to accept, when he tells us to turn the other cheek.

I remember being at a rodeo a long time ago as a new Christian and I was just taking in everything that was said around me, especially if it was a bible-based conversation. I don’t remember what the conflict was about but I can still hear the young cowboy’s voice expressing his frustration about having already had to turn the other cheek. “I ain’t got but two,” he said, exasperated that whatever had been done to him, it had gone too far.

Stereotypes sometimes exist for a reason and many of them for rodeo cowboys are there for a reason. It’s typically easier for a cowboy to threaten a pop in the mouth or given one out than it is is to walk away from a fight.

Matthew 5: 38-40 “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too”

In what’s known as the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus offers a vast amount of teaching and here in Matthew 5, he digs into the Old Testament.

And eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is a common expression that many people no longer even realize comes from Scripture but it was an Old Testament description for what amounts to a legal system meant to stop situations from escalating into feuds. Basically, if I did something reckless to cause you to lose some of your livestock, I would be responsible for replacing the stock that was lost. If I took someone’s life, I would expect to lose mine.

But Jesus takes it a bit further. He isn’t asking us to let everyone walk all over us but he’s urging us not to seek revenge when someone wrongs us.

Just like when we looked at what it means to go the extra mile for someone, which comes later in this set of verses, Jesus is asking us to do more for people who would least likely expect us to treat them differently, or even better, than they have treated us.

If someone keeps hitting on our girlfriend at the bar, instead of waiting to have it out with him in the parking lot after, we simply leave and go somewhere else. That’s a pretty real example of what Jesus is suggesting.

It just goes against how we typically think we should respond to a situation like that. The Bible teaches different ways of handling conflict and many of them open the door to more easily pointing others to Jesus Christ.

It’s really hard to tell someone the good news after we’ve laid them out in the parking lot in the rodeo grounds after reaching what we felt like was the last straw.

We don’t have to limit what we can achieve when God has given us the ability to do more

We don’t have to limit what we can achieve when God has given us the ability to do more

By Jesse Horton / Cowboys of the Cross

We all do it many times every day; most often, we do it unconsciously. What we conclude when we do it says a lot about who we think we are and what we think we are up against. Toddlers learning to walk do it. Elderly folks facing serious illnesses do it. Yes, we all measure our capabilities against whatever task lies before us.

We attempt to determine our ability to manage the obstacles ahead to achieve what we consider a successful outcome. We place our abilities alongside every challenge to see which is greater, and often we avoid challenges that seem to surpass our abilities. Some look at the rodeo schedule and choose to enter a deal where they know they stand a better chance of winning because of the stock that’s there.

None of this is wrong or irrational.

It makes sense to discern whether we have the skill set, the resources, the strength, and the influence to achieve success when we face a challenge. But when we look to our own experiences, resources, and talents we fail to consider something that is drastically more important – the good news that we who are in Christ are no longer bound by our limited human nature.

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.”

God is not surprised by any circumstance you have ever faced, nor will he be surprised by what awaits you in the days you have ahead. He knows every temptation you will face, every sin to which you will succumb, every sorrow and suffering that will bring you down, and every triumph and joy that will raise your spirits.

Knowing all of these things, he gave you exactly what you need so you can be who you’re supposed to be and do what you’re supposed to do even in the midst of this broken, rebellious world. What did he give you? He gave you himself! His grace isn’t insight. It isn’t a change of location or an altering of circumstances. He is the grace that he gives! That means that our potential as his children is much greater than the sum of our past experiences, our gifts and talents, our resources, and our strengths.

Our ability to overcome is infinite because the Almighty God who spoke everything into existence, who raised Christ from the dead, and who will one day make all things new and perfect again has made you his home. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). There is nothing to which God has called you that he has not also given you victory as you abide in (obey!) the love of Christ.

I choose love–but what does that mean? Not what most cowboys think

I choose love–but what does that mean? Not what most cowboys think

By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross

I choose love.

Not words you look to hear from a cowboy with a reputation of toughness to uphold. But that’s not the love I’m talking about. I choose this love.

John 13:34 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

Jesus loved me enough to die for me and take the punishment meant for my sins. All I have to do is believe, repent and ask to be forgiven and thanks to his love, I can have an eternal and perfect life in Heaven. His love was an action, not a feeling.

I choose love.

It’s a command from Jesus but in a world where we’re divided, fighting with and hating on each other, does he really need to command me?

I choose love. I choose to say, “Hey buddy, I know you barely scraped your fees together tonight to get jerked down like that. I’ve got some extra, let me buy your Taco Bell.”

I choose love. I choose to hold my tongue when the waitress just gave me attitude and instead, ask how I can pray for her when the check comes.

I choose love. I choose to spend some time coaching a gunsel instead of giving up on him or just laughing when he walks by with his spurs upside down and his chaps on an hour and a half before showtime.

I choose love. I choose to cheer for my rival who is about to win the team roping championship after my horse walked through barbwire this morning.

I choose love. I choose to stop by the hospital and check on the guy who got stomped even though he sucker-punched my traveling partner last week for talking to his girl a little too much after the rodeo.

I choose love. I choose to pray for you even though you may never know I’m doing it. I choose to tell others what is good about you or keep my mouth shut. I choose to help you without you knowing it isn’t convenient.

Do I blow it sometimes? Absolutely. Do I repent and apologize or make amends? I try to. Can I do better? Yep. Grace lets me mess it up but Jesus’s love motivates me to do better. I choose that love. I don’t have to like you to love you. You don’t have to like me for me to love you. This love is action and it’s a lot harder than hate or anger. It takes sacrifice, it takes time. It takes putting someone else first. I choose to do what’s hard. I choose to walk into the stampede of anger.

I choose love.

We prepare to rodeo, we need to prepare to serve God

We prepare to rodeo, we need to prepare to serve God

By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross

There are things we do in advance to prepare before getting on a bull or even being ready to get on our roping horse. We have to do these things or our next steps are guaranteed to fail or get us hurt.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Scripture is the same. This verse is where the idea comes from that the Bible is God’s living word, because it is God-breathed, meaning He gave life to it.

That alone should be enough to make us want to read our Bibles but then Paul tells us in his second letter to Timothy that the Bible prepares us for everything in advance. It teaches us what’s right and good, it can be used to give us correction when we’re wrong and it trains us to be more like Jesus. And, it prepares us for every good thing God has for us to do. Everything.

So basically, not just reading the Bible, but applying what we learn from it prepares us for what God has in store for us and prepares us to be used by God to help others learn from God’s living word.

Once we have a saving faith in Jesus and we’ve repented and asked for forgiveness of our sins, we’re still going to mess up and grace is there for when we do. God still loves and forgives us. We don’t have to do anything to earn His love, but just like there are things we have to do to succeed in the arena, God does have work prepared for us to do. Reading the Bible is what we need to do to prepare for what God wants us to do and to succeed in it.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Again, we can’t earn our salvation but once we’re saved, God didn’t mean for us to do nothing. We are His handiwork; He made us and through our relationship with Jesus, he wants us to do good things. He begins to help us become more like Jesus through the work of the Holy Spirit in us and he created us to do good works. Works are the actions we take that God prepared for us to do. They can be anything from sharing the gospel with a traveling partner going down the road to using the skills God gave us to help fix the car of a neighbor or a single mom struggling financially just to make it.

He’s prepared work for us in advance and we need to take steps to be ready to do that work. Reading the Bible is the first step to understanding what good works are; living out what it teaches is the next.

Asking how a bull bucks is seeking wisdom, asking for godly wisdom will take you further

Asking how a bull bucks is seeking wisdom, asking for godly wisdom will take you further

By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross

Leaves of three, come and see, so pretty, do touch me. Isn’t that how that goes?

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

Sometimes wisdom comes from personal experience. We really can learn from our mistakes. We can also learn from the experiences of others. We don’t have to touch poison ivy ourselves and experience days of itching rash, we can trust the wisdom of others. That’s where the real saying comes from: leaves of three, leave it be. Someone offered that piece of wisdom to make it easier to avoid the rash. That’s why you hear rodeo contestants asking about what to expect from the stock or bull they drew.

Sure, the unexpected can still happen but seeking advice is both using the wisdom of others and being wise ourselves in doing that.

But when we don’t know what to do, James tells us to seek wisdom from God and more often than what you might realize, His wisdom and the direction you need will be right there in the pages of the Bible. Digging in and knowing what’s in there for yourself is best but just like asking a more experienced competitor for advice on how much reign to give a bronc or what bull rope might work better for you, it’s wise to seek the wisdom of other Christians you know can help point you to the right scripture.

Through Cowboys of the Cross, we’re a small group of men with ties to the rodeo and bull riding, equestrian or ranch cowboy industries, who are here to try to help you gain stronger biblical knowledge and wisdom. We have new content on the this website every other Thursday to teach and encourage you, use social media to do the same and are literally a phone call or text away from you almost 24-7.

We don’t have all the answers but we also have more mature and knowledgeable believers who we turn to when we need wisdom or guidance. As James instructs, first pray to God to ask for His wisdom, but then turn to the pages of the Bible to seek that. If you’re stuck, seek advice from a more mature Christian who you know has wisdom you haven’t gained yet.

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