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Scott Hilgendorff
Cowboy pastor, sometime journalist, all the time confused.
Cowboy pastor, sometime journalist, all the time confused.


Post has attachment Three Random Things: 1.) I said it last night when no one was looking. Language alert but Rudderless is one of the best movies I've seen in a long time but had never heard of. Never knew who Billy Cudrup was, but am now a fan.
2.) There's no doubt we're influenced by what we watch as Christians and that when we're not careful, it can desensitize us to sin-issues that we should be more guarded against. When you watch anything, watch it with a Christian/Biblical world-view in mind. Look for the teaching moments and look for what goes against Biblical teaching. Discern and discard.
3.) Rodeo cowboys and bull riders spend a lot of time focused on positivity and believe strongly they should surround themselves by like-minded successful contestants so their influence wears off on them. It's even more important that we have Christians of influence in our lives to help mentor and disciple us. It's what Jesus's what the disciples did.
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Post has attachment  Bull hands and rodeo cowboys, this will help you! This is a great read that translates well to your success and failure at rodeos and bull ridings. This is part of what it can look like when you hear me talking about trying to see yourselves as Christians first and glorifying God through all you do. When you fill your head with the power of positive thinking, you don't leave much room for God's influence on these situations and you miss out on something so much bigger than that 90 point ride and 3 second run or that eighth straight buck off or miss. CLICK THE LINK and READ
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Life is made up of meetings and partings, it's just the way of it....
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Post has attachment -- “Target: One of the most ‘un-Christian companies supported by thousands of Christians willing to pay more to avoid shopping with the ‘People of Walmart'”
I've seen this statement or ones like it several times and I've thought the same thing. It sounds harsh and unfair but if we appreciate fairness, then we'll also appreciate honesty and if we're being honest, we know deep down there is some truth found within statements like this.
There's lots of reasons Christians choose to be there beyond just avoiding the stereotypically 'lower class' clientele of Walmart.
But there's lots of reasons we could be choosing to shop somewhere else. I know a lot of us haven't given this much thought other than to be offended by politically correct languages and a lot of cowboys have never even been in a  Target store, doing the bulk of their shopping at smaller western stores or Tractor Supply Company.
Target doesn't often fit my budget but I've long-since chosen that particular retailer to avoid because of the stands they've taken, but a couple times I've purposefully walked through to test the Christian theory—as much as my budget takes me to Walmart or the sales flier at Kroger or Aldi's, I've run into more people I've recognized as Christian in the less-busy aisles of a Target store. It's an observation, not an attack and I think it's something we should in fact be wrestling with.
This is where I struggle on issues like this. I'm not condemning a Christian for buying whatever they buy wherever they buy it. If we boycott every business that supports organizations and causes we're morally and biblically in conflict with, we run out of places to shop or brands we can buy, never mind the confusing message it sends to non-believers who just see us as being jerks about it.
Jesus tore through the marketplace that was set up in the temple for how offensive it was to God's holiest of places. Is there an example for us in that? Target is not meant to be a holy place but what happens when we bring our finances there with profits supporting causes that aren't God-honoring while barring the Salvation Army from their doorstep and removing anything related to the real celebration of Christmas. 
While over the years, they have taken steps that make them stand out more as a business that doesn't like what Christianity represents, they aren't the only retailer caught in this issue.
Walking into Foothills Mall in Maryville, TN last week, as we approach the peak shopping season for Christmas, I was greeted with the country song, “Put another drink in my hand” blaring over the music system. Songs about Santa and winter dominate the music played in many other stores as they sanitize themselves of the Christmas message, avoiding the seemingly offensive word in their ads and store displays. “Yule love these deals.”
Yet, these retailers have no problem making their biggest profits during the Christmas shopping season with the majority of people buying gifts intended to be Christmas presents, not 'holiday' gifts.
So why can't they just call it what it is? 
And why don't we speak out more, either with our voices or choices of where we spend money? I don't know what the most Christ-like response is. It isn't turning over tables, but it isn't “holding the door open for Jesus” for someone coming out of Target either. It isn't picketing one retailer each year, but the gospel isn't spread in silence either and there are ways to communicate the Christian position in a non-aggressive manner. How do we manage to be good stewards of the money God has given us when so many retailers pour profits into a mixture of organizations that help the community or actually turn around and attack Christianity?
Christmas can be brought back. It can start with choices about where we spend our God-given resources and what we spend them on.
Walmart took the politically correct route a few years back by eliminating any Christian content in their 'holiday card' selection but when they were stuck with thousands of boxes still on the shelves even being passed over at after-Christmas prices, they brought back a selection of traditional Christmas cards, some that include Bible verses from Luke.
Imagine if the handful of Christian-based retailers were able to report record-profits while stores like Target showed drops during the month of December. Corporate offices can figure out that people shifted their spending to the stores that still recognized Christmas instead of the “holidays.” They may be motivated by political least until it starts costing them profits. 
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Post has attachment -- Three Random Things: 1.) Despite my fears of southern cops, I shook one's hand yesterday at one of those "hands up" protests in Knoxville. (more being written about those protests in a blog post).
2.) The Bible instructs us to obey the laws of the land but when those laws seem ridiculous, like stripping away a nativity scene from a town hall, I struggle with what the right response is. Anger isn't it, but it's what I end up feeling.
3.) I don't typically wear my cowboy boots everywhere but when I do, I wear them til it hurts...actually, I have a pretty high tolerance for pain and didn't realize I was slowly bleeding to death while Christmas shopping yesterday. ---
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We no longer are willing or able to hear what others have to say and it's causing a bigger and bigger rift between liberals and conservatives in both the United States and Canada. Most of it is built around ignorance and the wrong reasons.
I took a minute to speak to a couple cops standing watch over an anti-cop protest in Knoxville yesterday (Sunday, Dec. 14-photo unrelated).
I was offended to see signs that said my white silence meant approval of cops killing innocent people. So instead of being silent, in front of the protesters, I spoke with the cops and acknowledged their job is far from easy. Thankfully, others did the same.
Many of you know I've had a couple ugly experiences with police on visits to the south that would at least have been newsworthy on a local level since I lived through the experiences.
I don't think it's remotely fair to paint all police with the same brush and I do believe, just like Christians, it's the bad ones that get all the attention and cause the negative views.
But what I struggle with the ignorance of the protesters. One of the officers himself said most of them didn't know what it really was they were out there for.
The jumping on bandwagons has to stop from the left and the right, both.
CNN and FOX (MSNBC isn't even worth listing) are filled with one-sided commentary, often jumping to conclusions before any facts are available and, depending on our left or right leanings, we take everything as fact.
Those protesters yesterday were doing nothing but spewing rhetoric; garbage they heard and accepted because it appealed to their world views.
I could take them more seriously and be willing to have an open-minded discussion with them if I thought they were thinking for themselves.
I get tired of hearing comments from those who hate Christians that my faith is a result of brainwashing and ignorance. I'd like to think of myself as fairly smart and well-rounded. I can be naive about some areas of life but I did anything but blindly fall into my Christian faith. I studied it. I questioned it. I thought much of it far-fetched and hard to believe until I dug into it some more. I challenged believers that I once thought crazy and weighed what was in the Bible against logic and reason. The Bible stood up against any challenge I had for still does, because as a maturing believer, I still challenge God sometimes. I submit to God's authority, but I still think for myself.
That's why I often frustrate conservatives and liberals both--because I do my best to not get caught up in the rhetoric and think through an issue myself. Do I think American McDonald's employees should make $15 an hour? Absolutely not. But I do think that in this new economy, we have to accept that McDonald's isn't an employer of students making a little spending money anymore. It's the workplace of adults who don't want to be on assistance but support their families themselves. That's what I hear from conservative Christians; that they they want to see people make it on their own without abusing the welfare system.
Christians can be just as bad because rather than thinking openly, we jump on our own bandwagons or cliches.
"Hate the sin but love the sinner."
Great! But is that Christian rhetoric you've heard hundreds of times in church and Christian circles or do you understand how sin fits into the gospel message and are you able to share that with others?
We can't begin to understand one another until both sides of any liberal and conservative issue stop trying to force their views on the other by shouting each other down with a regurgitated message we don't truly understand ourselves. Look how many of us, liberal or conservative, are willing to believe fake news sites intended to be satire. Look how many believe there are microchips hidden in the flu vaccine or that Christianity had no influence on the founding of the United States. 
One of the most obvious examples of acting without understanding that I've ever encountered came at a rodeo where animal rights activists were protesting. The literature they were handing out was not even close to accurate in terms of what goes on in the bucking chutes. I personally invited them back to see exactly what we did during a performance.
"We know. We don't need to see it," was the response.
We had absolutely nothing to hide but instead of coming and seeing for themselves, they continued to shout their rhetoric from megaphones at the side of the road.
At another rodeo, two activists out of the crowd were willing to come back and see what goes on. They stayed for the rest of the rodeo.
Sometimes our minds aren't going to be changed but we have to be willing to stop and listen. More importantly, we have to understand what it is we believe and why and how to explain it to others. If we don't make some changes, the rift between liberals and conservatives is only going to widen but for no other reason than ignorance and plain stupidity on both sides. 
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Post has attachment Ok, I totally understand those who get 'tired' of Christmas music and prefer not to listen to it at all, especially in the cowboy community, but I imagine those of you that are tired of it are hearing the same 30 or 40 songs that your local radio stations cycle through each year, not realizing just how much great music there is out there.
Worse for those of us who still celebrate Christmas and not whatever else these 'holidays' are, radio stations now play fewer and fewer carols and Christmas songs, if any, in preference to marshmallow worlds and the latest version of some guy seducing a woman because it's cold outside. 
But you may not have realized that Christian artists (and some country ones) continue to put out new music each year with songs that explore themes around what Christmas is all about. There are lots of new versions of old carols and songs but even better, there are new, original songs. Christian radio stations (you can stream them if you can't pick one up in your car or truck) play them and they're available for download on Amazon or hard copies at Christian bookstores like LifeWay.
I'm one of those people who actually likes to hear some of the carols, old and new versions of them, and I love some of the work Christian artists are producing. A group called Selah has remade a song recorded in the early 80s by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, Once Upon a Christmas, and while it's now a few years old, Born in Bethlehem by the Christian rock band, Third Day, has really caught my ear this year and I listened to it three times in a row before writing this. The song takes the birth of Christ all the way the through to the Gospel message and while there's no video to the music, the link you'll find below features the music and lyrics. 
John 3:30 talks about how God must increase in our lives and we must decrease--meaning we become less about ourselves so we can be more about Him. 
1 Corinthians 10:31 reminds us that everything we do should be done in a way to glorify God. 
The choices of what we watch and listen to have implications on these verses. 
The world around us would cause us to listen to songs that do nothing to honor what Christmas is about in order to not offend those of different beliefs. The consequences for Christians in relation to these verses and other Biblical teaching is that we allow the culture around us and their beliefs to become a bigger influence on our lives than anything with a Biblical and Christ or God-centered view.
There are alternatives and while the number of choices the secular world is giving us grows smaller, technology today allows us to access the Christian content that's available. Every version of the Bible is just a tap away on our phones. Almost every piece of Christmas music recorded is available to download so we can turn off the radio station and still listen to something that glorifies and points to God at the time of year we celebrate the greatest gift He could ever give us. 
Try some of these songs and please, share links to others you like. --- 

Third Day from Christmas Offerings--Born in Bethlehem

The Judds, Beautiful Star of Bethlehem

Selah (with Dolly Parton), Once Upon a Christmas

Jeremy Camp, God with Us

Casting Crowns, While you were Sleeping
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Post has attachment --- A few years back on a run south to Tennessee, a cop got behind me and ran my tags for no other reason than he was curious about the Ontario plates. The dispatcher called back that my vehicle was stolen (she misread the report). A little while later, I'm sitting in a parking lot surrounded by screaming police and a barking German shepherd, officers in defensive positions behind open cruiser doors, guns drawn in the most frightening and dangerous experience of my life. Rather than pulling the ownership out of the glove box, while handcuffed in the back of a cruiser, they conduct what can be argued as an illegal search of my van with their drug dog. 
Adding insult to injury, three years later, the topic comes up in a conversation with a friend. He's never heard the story from me before but he was familiar with it because, through a connection of his in the department, he's heard it before. Apparently, they still laugh about the incident to which a commanding officer never apologized, just complimented me on handling myself well considering how bad it could have gone had I not.
A year later, another run here in Tennessee and I have the opportunity to take relief to a community in Alabama devastated by tornadoes and home to one of the bull riding producers I've worked with. Supplies, dropped off, a city administrator sees I now have an empty van and they have a shortage of volunteers—would I take some Red Cross supplies up the road to some of the relief centers on my way back out? Absolutely.
That leads to a weird confrontation with a firefighter at one of the centers who refuses to take the supplies because they are cleaning kits and he doesn't understand their value or the need for them. Pissed off with me for being pushy that they're being sent there by the city administrator, he has a cop waiting for me up the road who very intentionally misdirects me as I try to take the rest of the supplies to one last fire hall. To get them where they need to go, I will now be violating a curfew and subject to arrest. The county's emergency coordinator and a helpful local family who escorted me to the fire hall to be sure there were witnesses if the cop tried anything, made sure I had safe passage back out of the curfew zone.
I've been stopped randomly two other times on trips down here and now, my hands shake. If a cruiser happens to get behind me, I have an immediate knot in my stomach.
It's like a child who gets bit by a dog no longer trusts other dogs.
I get that there are good cops out there and that there are probably more good ones than bad. But I can't override my distrust of them after those two incidents. 
Thanks to social media, many ugly police incidents from a cop shooting a clearly unarmed man in a gas station parking lot to a man's dog being killed have gone viral and helped build anti-police sentiment. There are issues around the militarization of police that have been cropping up more and more and now, with the media spotlight on two incidents, one in Ferguson, MO and one in New York City, there is a huge wave of anti-police sentiment gaining momentum and mainstream media is fueling it.
The job of a police officer has become exponentially more difficult in a matter of days and what was already an often thankless job is now being made miserable by constant attacks in the media, mainstream and social. 
It's a lot like what it's like for Christians right now who have been unfairly labeled in the media thanks to the words and actions of a few who do a poor job representing the faith but manage to receive all the public attention.
There'll be thousands of calls to police for help today, most of them being answered by an officer who does his job well and few of them receiving any positive attention.
The acts of love and kindness by Christians to non-believers, many who don't even like them because of what they believe, will go unnoticed and we'll remain labeled haters and hypocrites.
Adding to the challenge for Christians is what we understand about ourselves but that non-Christians don't—that we ARE hypocrites. We will fail daily, hourly, to live out the instructions found in scripture. Those who don't understand us will see us fail in plain sight to live up to the expectations they have for us to somehow be the perfect example of Christianity. If my living testimony was to be the basis of someone choosing to become a Christian or not, why would they ever want to become one?
Those who feel mistreated by Christians like myself, will struggle to trust that we really do care for them. Like I would be hesitant to call on a cop in a time of need, they'll be hesitant to set foot in another church after feeling like one they attended for awhile failed them miserably. 
Just like many are choosing to believe police corruption is rampant, many will believe what they hear about Christians in the media: that we're haters and bigots. They'll see the poor examples, not understanding that as Christians, we need and receive God's grace daily. They won't understand that we're not perfect, just forgiven thanks to a loving God who is perfect. 
It's not our job to do right, we're simply made righteous, unconditionally, through our faith in Jesus Christ. But those who don't understand what it means to be a Christian are influenced against us by our mistakes just as much as God can influence them toward Him when we manage a Christ-like response to a situation.
With God's grace, we can get through each day allowing our life in Christ to change us and continue to show that love of Christ to those who may no more want to hear about Jesus than I want to see a police cruiser behind me.
Today, every good cop has to do his job to the best of his ability in a climate filled with growing hate or distrust toward him. As Christ loved us unconditionally, all we can do as Christians is show that love back in a climate filled with growing hate or disdain for us or our beliefs.
My experiences have shaped how I feel when I see a police officer and how I feel toward the profession just like experiences with Christians can shape how others view us and ultimately how they feel toward God.
As much as we can't have police give up and withdraw their service from us because of how hard it is getting, as Christians, we can't withdraw the love of Christ for the same reasons and every hope that others would come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.

John 15 provides some great teaching for us on this.
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This is one of the coolest things over on Google Plus (Google+). Read below for details on how to participate in this Secret Santa event... I've participated in this the last two years and it's been a pretty cool experience, especially seeing the post that was made from a young man whose life had fallen apart and got a gift. He did some research, discovered I was a Christian cowboy type person and it blew his mind that a Christian would reach out to him despite his publicly different views. Not saying this for attention my way, just that when you read through the wish list stories, there's a great opportunity to minister to someone. It's not about people being in need but there's definitely some in the mix who benefit from someone just reaching out. And yes, I have a list on there's about the giving but who doesn't like the receiving too if we're being honest. :) But seriously, the giving is really cool when people post up their photos and reactions.

Secret Santa
Add and browse wishlists here:

It's December. That means it's the season the spread joy, love, and tell the people who've impacted you that you appreciate them. This year for Secret Santa, we've streamlined our process (and website) to make it easier than ever before.

Here's how it works:
- Go to here:
- Sign in with Google in the top right.
- Add your wishlist with an explanation of why Secret Santa is important to you.
- Search, browse, and gift your friends or a stranger!

Create your Amazon wishlist here:

IMPORTANT Make sure you add an address! Instructions in this video:

Here's my list--
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Here's the video by Cloverton for the Christmas version of Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen. A great version of The Gospel message. Please like and share so others can hear this and be sure to check out Cloverton's other music at their Facebook page.
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