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Cowboy Meditations

Date post: 28-Mar-2016
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Cowboy Meditations
  • Cowboy Meditations

  • Swollen Rivers, Sleepless Nights

    What cowboy cannot identify with Paul's words in 2 Corinthians, Chapter 11:26-27 (NLT): "... danger from rivers... enduring many sleepless nights..."? If one reads those verses apart from the rest of Paul's letter to the Corinthians, it would be easy to think that these words were written by some old cowman back in the settling of this great

    west. Times were hard then, by they always have been; to some degree. Listen as Paul says: " ... I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm..." It is no

    wonder we admire these old-time cowboy people, for they shivered in the cold and pioneered the land!

    No matter what we're pioneering, it's not easy. Whether it be swollen rivers and sleepless nights like in Paul's day or in old-time drivers' day, trailing cattle to market - or the "swollen rivers" of our day - it's not an easy task. You just sort of have to cowboy up!

    Across my living room from where I sit at my desk penning this devotion, there are three old ranch saddles. Nothing fancy - no frills or silver... I doubt if they will ever be cinched up again. They're retired, along with me. The memories they hold for me are not necessarily fond ones. But they are real ones. Paul writes, "...I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food..." (1 Corinthians 11:27) NLT

    It seems like Paul wrote my words for me. On one occasion, my saddle buddy and I found a box of prunes in a line shack. We were hungry. The prunes were good, and they were effective! At other times, the night would be so cold I'd walk, leading my horse, to get warmed up, and some places the crust on the frozen snow would hold me up - then, at other places, I would fall through. Cattle with pneumonia; I was trying to doctor with penicillin late into the night, only to find the same cattle dead the next night. My days were from the time I got off the school bus until the work was done.

    But, this boasting will do no good. Even Christ's cross will do no good. His death, burial, resurrection, ascension, atonement, enthronement, and coming of the Holy Spirit will do no good lest the people get the Word. Good news can do nothing until it's heard about.

    Ridin' fer the Big Brand, Reppin' fer the JC

  • ShadowsPsalm 63:7

    Often time the watches in the night yield thoughts that move me to tears. Especially when a fellow says something he wishes he had not said, You've had that kind

    of experience, you know, saying something that cast a shadow over your fellow man; something that puts him or her in a bad light. That happened to me. So, pondering, my

    thinking drifted along toward some familiar sayings of Jesus.

    He always put His fellow man in the best light possible. Never did He cast a condescending shadow over him- and naturally so, for He is the Light. Then, I thought of some words James penned about his half-brother, Jesus..."He never changes or casts a shifting shadow..." Then James followed on by saying, " He chose to give birth to us by giving us His true Word." (James 1:17 - 18) NLT

    Truth, though often painful, pulls us out of the shadows and into His marvelous Light. Now, leafing through the Bible with this idea of shadow in mind, I find that most uses of the Word are associated with death. Who has not heard what the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 23:4 "... even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid; for you are close beside me..." (NLT)

    You're perhaps most familiar with the King James translation that renders, "...Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for though art with me...."

    So, when someone casts a shadow over you, intentionally or non-intentionally, you have the assurance that God is with you. So sing out, my brother. sing. "Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings...." (Psalm 63:7) NLT

    Hats off, cowboys! Sing to God your new song. Though you're only singing to the cattle, sing! Sing in the shadows of His wings!

    Ridin' fer the Big Brand, Reppin' fer the JC

  • Center

    Center. What a strange word around which to build a devotional! But it happened. Here's how: Sally Bates, out in Chino, Arizona, has a song called "He is the Way." I'm trying to learn the song because we give away Bibles entitled "The Way for Cowboys." Well, I'd gone to the court house to pay my taxes and ran into a cowboy I thought I knew. He had said, "I know you; I knew your dad. We called him Lightning - not because he was fast, but because lightning struck his bob-tail truck while hauling some cows, killing two of them."

    I said, "Jimmy, (that's who he was, Jimmy) where do you live?"

    He said, "Near the old center point school."

    The school got its name from being located in the center of Torrance County, a land mark long gone. Now, for some reason, as I listened to Sally's song I thought, "It's good to have a center point in life; that is, something that everything swirls about." Then I thought, "Do I really know what the word center means?" Well, I looked the word up in Webster's dictionary. Center originated from the old Greek word "kentron" - meaning a sharp point, or naturally a goad used to poke along lazy oxen. But, more precisely, center is the point around which everything else revolves. Bingo! There is it, my friends: the center point. It's Jesus!

    Right away I thought of Paul's Damascus road experience and of what Jesus said to Paul:

    "Paul, it's hard for you to kick against the goads, or against the pricks." For many years I've wondered why Jesus said that. Paul was not a country boy who knew the use of an ox goad. Like a flash, I knew. "Paul," Jesus was saying, "you're kicking against the center point of all creation and the focal point of all the Bible." Jesus! Paul, life ain't easy for you that way! You're out of balance! You're not operating smoothly. Paul could not have a turn-around until he realized that Jesus is God, personified; the person about which all life swirls.

    How about it, Cowboys? Have you found the center point? Next time you have tires put on your truck and you see them spin-balance those tires for smooth ridin', think of what I've said.

    Ridin' fer the Big Brand, Reppin' fer the JC

  • Getting to See

    How many times have you said, "Let me see"? Maybe you were pondering. Or, maybe you were requesting a turn, like looking at an antelope through binoculars. Maybe you were a small child trying to see the Rose Parade. You were asking your daddy to hold you up high. Or, maybe you're like the blind man in Mark 8:22-26 we are about to discuss.

    This incident happened along the northern shores of Galilee. Some people brought a blind man to Jesus and begged Him to touch the man and heal him. And Jesus did. Here's how it happened: Jesus put spittle on the man's eyes and asked, "Can you see anything now?"He said, "Yes, I see the people. They look like trees walking around."Then Jesus placed His hands on the man's eyes again, and his eyes were opened. He could see everything clearly.

    Now, this man is one among thousands that the Lord healed, but why did this story make its way into the Bible? What's the lesson in it for us? I've been seeing all my life, yet I realize that I don't see "everything clearly." Many things are a mystery to me. I'm like the disciples following Jesus who remembered this story. Jesus had said to them just prior to this incident (v 21) "Don't you understand yet?" Now a quick survey of the entire eighth chapter - Jesus had just fed 4,000 people. And, what's more, in chapter six He'd fed 5,000. After that miracle He walked on water. They thought He was a ghost. Mark says (6:52) "They still didn't understand the significance of the loaves... their hearts were too hard to take it in." Now, here's the part that really gets me. The Pharisees (8:11) "...demanded that He show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove His authority." They wanted a voice, a wonder, the sun stand still, the moon fade; they wanted some great feat! But, here's the lesson. What's the matter with a miracle that meets a human need? These Pharisees didn't get to see anything. Here are some sad words: (8:13) "Jesus... left them." Cowboys, these disciples are getting to see this thing. Here it is. A hard-hearted attitude causes spiritual blindness. Spirituality is able to see human need.

    Ridin' fer the Big Brand, Reppin' fer the JC

  • Purity

    Purity produces effect. That is the sublime simplicity of it. Purity cannot be explained apart from freedom. It's not freedom to, but rather freedom from; freedom from adulterating matter which makes something inferior. Inferiority implies something that is not genuine, less valuable; something that is impure by adding a prohibited substance. Then we begin to sense a counterfeit, something falsified... and like in evaporation, the effect is gone. We wonder why? But now, here is our thought. Purity produces effect in people. Some say that practice makes perfect. Well, that's not absolutely true. Practice greatly helps body/brain coordination. The body can better execute mandates from the mind through practice. I cut you that much slack, but, what I'm after is more than well-executed body coordination.

    What I'm after is producing effect in the lives of people round about you. You've been around people that simply impact your life. You wonder why? What does this person have? Is it professionalism? Is it practice? Is it concentration on one matter, one style, one goal? No. Is it having only one objective? No, not really. Granted, all these behaviors do help; but they never reach far enough to effect the lives of people. Real impact is not there. We're thrown back to where we started. Purity produces effect. And, I add, it is effect of which you may not be aware. Most people won't tell you that you have affected their lives. But then, that is also good news because if they did tell you, you'd try to improve yourself, and therefore lose the whole show. I'm telling you, purity is the answer.

    Well, now anything that has an answer has a source. The source is Jesus. He was God in a human body. Can anyone measure the effect he produced upon men and women while in that body? And can one measure the effect he has today in the Person of the Holy Spirit within us? The Holy Spirit is a purifying fire burning out the __?__. He will cleanse by burning out all that inhibits. He knows from what we need to be free.

    Let him work, Cowboys, and you'll become more and more effective. Effectiveness

    is purity-produced.

    Ridin' fer the Big Brand, Reppin' fer the JC

  • I Saw This Happen to Jesus

    John's gospel does not begin with the genealogy of Jesus as does Matthew and Luke. Rather, John's gospel begins with Holy Spirit's identification of Jesus as recognized by John, the baptizer. After John's prologue, he narrates the Baptizer's experience at Jordan where he was baptizing. John plainly says "...I did not recognize Him as the Messiah..." (John 1:31 NLT). Neither did all of Israel. Neither do we. John again repeats himself saying "... I didn't know He was the one.." (v. 33 NLT). God had told Big John in verse 33, "The One on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the One." Now we have it plain as day: "...I saw this happen..." In case we are yet confused, he said, "...I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that He is the chosen One of God..." (v. 34 NLT).Dear readers, there is the bed-rock basis upon which we build our Christian hope. Jesus, as identified by John's ministry, is God's sent Messiah. "I saw this happen to Jesus," John quotes Big John to say.

    Now, as you know, John was there at that identification ceremony. Thus he began his story. OKAY- lean upon genealogy. His story leans upon this solid fact: "I saw this happen to Jesus." As the story unfolds he does not place the emphasis upon the description of the events in Jesus' life as Messiah, but upon the meaning we are to draw from these things that happened. John's intent was to follow the miraculous. So, the emphasis should not lie on the miracle itself but rather, what it means.

    Now, we need to fast-forward to John's statement of purpose in writing. John is an evangelist. Like all of us Christians, he wants others to know the Messiah. His is good news indeed! As one can know from reading the four gospels, Jesus did many miracles. John calls them "signs." Among these many signs John chooses seven as the basis for his testimony. These signs are the resting places for our faith. Faith needs solid footing. Faith in faith is nothing. Faith in facts is sure footing. Now we read John's purpose "...the disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in Him you will have life by the power of His name..." (John 20:30-31 NLT). Some get a good start but do not continue because their faith is not grounded in the solid rock of John's purpose.

    Cowboys, take the time to make your dally sure.

    Ridin' fer the Big Brand Reppin' fer the JC

  • Thorn of Life

    I can't speak for every one because I don't know; but I can speak for cow people. We are afflicted - that's the long and short of it. We, out here amid the cactus and wind, are afflicted. So, my best shot is to bring us some sort a' hope. Now, in the Way for Cowboys, Paul figured it this way: he said (Romans 8:18), "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us." Then he went on to say in verse 22: "We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time." Well, right away I sort a' felt a little better. Clouds blown by the wind don't want to be empty clouds. They want to give rain, but they can't. They're wind-blown. Then I thought about the wind. It don't want to blow as hard as it does, but somewhere, there's a low pressure area pulling it. Then I thought about hail. It don't want to pelt the ground, break out windows and strip alfalfa leaves, but it does. In its free fall as rain, it passes through a freezing layer of air and turns into ice. It has no choice. Lightning don't want to kill three good saddle horses huddled together enduring a summer storm, but it does. Once we start thinking along these lines, we can see: "...the whole creation has been groaning..." (Romans 8:22) There's a thorn in all of life. Now here's the big question: why? Why does all of life have a thorn? Well, I read about the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus whose followers Paul met while in Athens. They had it figured that "peace of mind" should be man's highest quest. Epicurus thought that religion ought to be eliminated because it just stirs up a fellow's mind. He reasoned, "If God wishes to prevent evil but cannot, He is impotent; if He could but will not, He is malevolent; if He has both the power and the will, whence then is evil?"

    Poor God; He seems to always get the blame. Paul, as you recall, sought God about His thorn but God refused to remove it. God told Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you..." (II Corinthians 12:9) Paul said, "...it was to keep me from becoming conceited..." Being conceited is having an exaggerated opinion of oneself. Therefore, hold on, cowman: you may be the biggest real estate man there is, but don't let it go to your head! It will cause your thorn to fester.

    Ridin' fer the Big Brand, Reppin' fer the JC

  • Faith

    F aith is somewhat like trying to hold on to a greased pig. It slips away. We think we've got it and then it's gone. I've been greatly helped in trying to grasp what it is rather than what it does. Faith is restful reliance in God. The reliance part puts God in the driver's chair and the restful part keeps me out of a struggle. After all, it's God's show. Well, we strugglers are not the only ones. In Luke's gospel (Luke 17:5), "...the apostles said to the Lord, 'Show us how to increase our faith.'" They had it figured that they just had to get more of what they'd already got. Therein was their blunder, and admittedly ours as well. How many times have you said within yourself, "If I just had more faith...."? Now - right here, let's get real honest. We all would like some 'mountain-moving' faith. We'd like to be able to say to a mulberry tree, "may you be uprooted and thrown into the sea" and watch it obey! Wouldn't that be great? Our names would be on marquees all over the country! But now, take a glance at Luke 17:1 and see what lead into this conversation: Jesus had said, "There will always be temptations to sin..." and the desire for devil-bustin', mountain-movin', earth-shakin' faith is one of them.

    Now, Jesus always answers our queries. The trouble is that He gives more than just the answer. He leads us on to see more than we expected. Notice, Jesus uses a tiny mustard seed for comparison. Note also: they had had some faith already because their request was: "increase our faith." But Jesus knew the quantity was sufficient because back in Luke 9 "He gave them power." Then, when He did it again in Chapter 10, they were miracle-working Jessies! They said (Luke 10:17), "...even the demons obey us..." Now in Luke 17:7, He moves on to tell a strange story about doing our duty as the people of God. What does this duty story have to do with faith? Whamo! There it is. God-given faith is for doing our duty; not for doing great, wonderful, and heroic things. Watch out for the subtle temptations, Cowboys. Forget the marquee and just do your duty. You're the kings, men and women. You're chosen for the job.

    Ridin' fer the Big Brand Reppin' fer the JC

  • Glory

    God created the highest condition of achievement, splendor, and beauty. Nothing has been nor ever shall be higher. That's glory. God foreknew our every need. That's glory. From before the foundation of the world, God loved us and chose believers in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. That's glory. He decided in advance to adopt us into His own family. He did this by bringing us to Himself through Christ

    Jesus. That's glory. He makes everything work out according to His plan. That's glory. He did this so we would p[raise and glorify Him. That's worship. Paul write about this is

    a letter to the Ephesian church; and when you believed in Christ, He identified you as His own. That is how He put His seal on you. That's glory. Any thinking person has to say, "To God be the glory." The Bible is well-filled and plentifully supplied with glory to God. Even the angels say, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to

    those with whom God is pleased." (Luke 2:14) The occasion for this angelic praise was the birth of Jesus. Mary's response to the announcement of her conception was "Oh, how my soul magnifies the Lord; how my spirit rejoices in God my Savior." (Luke 1:46) Notice, her soul highly esteems God and her spirit gives Him praise! That's glorious glory!

    Man's need to glory in something is so critical that if He does not know God, he will glory in something less than God as God. Most likely it's going to be himself. Our prime example is Job. A little survey of Job Chapter 1 finds in Job no fault. He was blameless; he was a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil. Even God's own statement about Job is "He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless - a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil." Hold in mind that this is God's appraisal of Job.

    Then - whamo! Calamity struck. Job lost it all: family, belongings, and health. Job was tested. The long and short of Job's story is that he knew sin existed, but he did not, more aptly, see himself as a sinner. Now God says ..."All have sinned, we fall short of God's glorious standard." (Romans 3:23)Job's religion was causing him to make God out to be lying. So, in Job 38:3, God gave Job a test. Read it. The test concludes four chapters later with Job saying, "I have seen you with my own eyes. I abhor myself and repent..." (Job 42:5) No man has seen God, but Job saw God's glory. Take the test God gave Job, and you'll see it, too! Glory!

    Ridin' fer the Big Brand, Reppin' fer the JC

  • Anachronism

    Now, Cowboys! Take a look at that word! Ain't she a beauty? It's probably better than an automatic gate opener. Now, come to making use of it leaves me just about as disabled as a lad fishing in a Louisiana bayou! A stranger lost in that marshland asked the lad, "Say, young fellow, how do I get to Lafayette?" The boy thought seriously for a moment and then said, "Sir, there just ain't no way to get there from here."

    What use can we make of anachronism? Well, I looked the word up in Webster's. Even he didn't get too carried away with it. He ventured it's a representation of something occurring at a moment other than its proper time.

    Now, ana I can get a hold of. It means "against;" I'm used to that. The world is against us. And then chrono: that has to do with time, and even time won't last forever. Well, with the ism - there are a lot of them. Sounds to me like a good way to end such a word. We just count that as loose straw hangin' out and move on. There you got it: [ nak 'r niz ' m]. I just like the way it rolls off your tongue. Try it, Cowboy! It will get you some blank stares!

    Well, Jesus said "let there be no waste (John 6:12)." So, here's my use of the word. It seems to me that heaven leaks. I guess you'd call it a seep; not a stream nor a spring, but a seep. Heaven sort of oozes. The seepage is enough to let us know that something that is a common custom in heaven is seeping through the veil that separates us from that unseen realm.

    However, identifying the seepage itself leaves us with not a shadow of doubt. It has to do with the Holy Spirit's giving to each of us a heaven giftedness. In the very early New Testament church, that special spiritual giftedness, when properly exercised, edified the body of believers. Gifts are not for self. They are for the spiritual growth of fellow Christians in the early church it was recognized that such giftedness brought with it a right to monetary support from the church. Paul these rights (1 Corinthians 9:4-18) to such maintenance, but in the case of the Corinthians, Paul never used them. The Corinthians were too carnal. To the unspiritual, it's a stumbling block. So, Paul sought common ground with them for their sake.

    Here's my question: does this seepage give any indication of God's economic system in heaven? As you benefit a fellow believer with your unique giftedness, you'll be compensated. It's something that's going to be, but not yet!

    Ridin' fer the Big Brand Reppin' fer the JC

  • The Wonder of God

    It's the man who stands in awesome wonder beneath the night canopy of stars and the moon, who has faith in the majestic creating power of God. "Who could do such a marvelous thing as what I witness?" seem to be the psalmist's thought. As he gazed, I believe I see him looking at his own smallness and asking himself a second question. "Who am I? Who am I that You should be concerned about?" That was a serious consideration. "Who am I and who are You that God should see us more wonderfully created than what we see in the night sky?" None of the stars nor galaxies were ever created in the image of God. Yet we are! Every human being is! Not only that, but God is still creating human beings; and what's more - He plans to keep on creating us humans until there's enough of us to reflect a full composite of God. We're not there yet because heaven is still being populated with those who reflect Him. When we fulfill God's image, He will come get us. God is creating a following. But, that poses another question: where's He going? More properly stated, where's the triune God going? The Father fosters the idea, the Son executes it, and the Holy Spirit folds us into it. What awesome wonder!

    Cowboy - next time you're ridin' in late from somewhere and it's a warm summer night and the night is studded with stars, do yourself a favor. It's just you, your horse, and these night evangelists I'm talking about. Simply drape your reins around your saddle horn, give ole' Roanie his head, told your arms and stargaze. Roanie will take you home; while he's doing that, join the psalmist in Psalm 8 and deliberately wonder. "What are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? Yet, You made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor. You gave them charge of everything You made... the flocks and the herds..." (v. 7a NLT)

    Well, comrades, I realize you bowed up a bit at the NLT's work in inserting the word "God" in verse 5. You're used to seeing the word "angels" there. The Hebrew reads "Elohim." Now, think for a moment. Do angels have charge? Are angels going to have all things put under their authority? Granted, they are strong. But, they can only do what they're told to do. They act in strict obedience. They safeguard God's vested interest in you and me. They cannot participate in creation. They cannot partner up with God. We can; in fact, we are, as believers, God's junior partners. You're God's representatives here on earth among people.

    "O Lord, our Lord, Your majestic name fills the earth." (v. 9)

    Ridin' fer the Big Brand, Reppin' fer the JC

  • Science

    Most Bible scholars do not think it necessary to defend the Bible against Science. The two are not in conflict at all - science is man's good friend. It is doubtful that any one of the Bible writers had any more knowledge of science than the average third-grader has today. He wrote from inspiration. He needed no scientific input into his writings. He was not out to prove God. In fact, today no one can prove the existence of God. We have no need to do so. Creation tells us that. Its sheer vastness tells us that there is a God. The order of it all speaks of a Creator whose name is God. He told Moses in Exodus 3:14, "Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you..." This was written long before there was a scientific world. In fact, these inspired writers of that day simply wrote in the thought form of that day. It was that simple. They wrote of what modern man is permitted to discover by the employment of good scientific methods. Science is our good friend. Through science came this high-tech world we live in that has supplied us with the many useful gadgets that enrich our lives. What cowboy of yesterday could conceive walking out to his center irrigation pivot and photographing replacement heifers with his telephone? (I call them irrigated cattle.) I did that today! Science is my friend. But God is my Creator, my Savior, my True Companion as well as my Everlasting Friend. Oh, what a friend we have in Jesus! To the man who sees an irreconcilable conflict is somewhat like the fellow one write told us about. "He's trying to decide which to wear, his pants or his shirt..." My soul, he needs them both. Everybody knows that! Well, most everybody. A few among the egg-heads are yet struggling with the inability to decide.

    Science brought us out of World War II. Science ushered in space flight. Science catapulted us into the world of technology. Science has brought answers to many dilemmas. Science is bringing about surety of the mechanical regularity of the natural order of Creation's behavior. Still, science does not have a really good, "firm" seat in the saddle, so to speak. Why? Because he knows enough to know that there is much in the natural world that cannot be explained by science. But, nurse him along. He's getting there. He's a little "doggied," but that's to be expected. Someone explained to me, "A doggie's a little feller, ain't got no momma, ain't got to friends. He's big around the middle and little on both ends. That's a doggie."

    Well, cowboys, mark my word. One of these days, science will lay all its wares at the feet of Jesus and Jesus will say, "Thank you, good and faithful servant. I knew you could do it. You've earned your spurs." Why fellers, just yesterday, an ultra-sound technician showed me my heart ticking away. It's been doing that for seventy-four years non-stop. We ran in a few straits to open up some plugged-up places; they'd kinda sanded in. Thanks to science, I'm in fine shape.

    Ridin' fer the Big Brand,Reppin' fer the JC