I Will Pass Over You!

Where the northern plains meet the northwoods a warm fall is hanging on for a day yet. Then its back to more normal temps in the lower sixties and fifties. I’m looking forward to that. Seems like when the fall gets warm, every kinda bug there is tries to have its last hurrah. A cool down takes care of that. Snakes are looking for some place to hole up for winter too, and there was a little one in the basement the other day that ended up under the heal of my boot. Such is life. Calves are weaned and have quieted down, getting used to the new way of living, without their mamas. They’re starting to eat more and more and now instead of running away when I come to feed, they’re waiting on the other side of the gate, waiting for me to open it so they can hit the bunks and chow down. Another three weeks or so life should settle down here, the corn will be harvested and stored in the bins. Many times that’s not a fall job here, because everything gets chopped into silage for the cows and calves, but this year it took less than half of the acreage to fill the huge pit and anything not chopped is turned to cash. Its nice when that happens.

“When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” Exodus 12:13

Last evening while reading my Bible I came across this part of a verse and really hung up on it. All day its been speaking volumes to me. God saying when He sees the blood He’ll pass over me. By passing over you gotta remember, it ain’t like He’s ignoring you, nope, it means He will pass over you and you do not face His judgment. Which is a pretty good deal as far as I’m concerned cause there ain’t one person on this earth “good enough” for God. We’re all fallen, we’re all sinners. But those who believe Jesus, believe what He done for them, are washed in the blood, and judgment will pass over the believer.

Now, the Gospel ain’t really all that complicated when you get right down to it. God made it simple and even a fella like me can understand it. He made it so simple that little kids can usually figure it out without a problem while older folks are trying to come up with some rules to make em feel like the accomplished something on their own. But no one accomplishes anything remotely good in God’s eyes. That’s why we need the blood. Which works out fine with me because I fail and fail. I remember in religion, years ago, when I was in a religion totally based on work, our own works to get us to God, how I failed and how miserable I was. A fella just knew he was headin for hell, there was no doubt, and I never heard the Good News,  just heard church doctrine. Never heard about a loving God that don’t want any to perish, just heard about a god that gave total authority to the big wigs of the church to lord over us as we tried to accomplish the impossible.

But you know how God got in this house? And it took a long time to sink in, believe me. Way back in 1991 I was paging through a cattle magazine because that’s what I read, cattle and ranching, and there was this ad about this cowboy organization that believed Jesus and they’d send anyone a free newspaper. Back in them days there was no internet, at least not out here, so a person did it the old fashioned way, wrote a note requesting the free paper, included the name and address, and mailed it off in the mailbox. Weeks later I got the first issue, still have it 20 years later, and there was a story about this rancher that was going down and down, drinking hard and all, and how he found Jesus and how his life changed from that time on. I betcha I durn near memorized that article, read it over and over, wondering about such a thing like I’d never really heard of before. A God that loved you, and a way to Him. Oh Lord, that caught my attention. Month after month, year after year, the paper came and I read it from front to back over and over, this really was something I could understand. And I knew, way back then, a person headed for hell, that there was only to things that I wanted to accomplish in this life. One was to ranch and the other was to be a cowboy preacher. Many years later I surrendered to Jesus and haven’t looked back. I was washed in the Blood, finally! God’s judgment would pass over me! I was His!

But there is work for the Lord to do. Not to get me to heaven, the blood did that, but to work because of what He did. To spread the gospel to folks like me, cause I do understand folks like me. I see em all the time and I know how they feel. It was a cowboy ministry that had a huge part in leading me to the Lord over the years, and it is in a cowboy ministry that I’ll do my part, its just plain natural to preach the gospel where your at. If God ever wants me some place else, than so be it, but for now and as long as I can see there’s gonna be a cowboy ministry in the livestock country of central Minnesota. I have never been so at peace with anything in my life, although there are plenty of unknowns in it. I just am so durn thankful to folks like Kevin Weatherby of Save the Cowboy that allow me to hook up with such a good outfit. Now there’s a job to start, and its going to be a quite a ride. Riding by faith in Jesus!

 

 

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Dead to the World

“Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death?  For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.” Romans 6:3-4

Its late here Saturday evening, almost time for bed. Was a somewhat rough day working with the cattle in muddy conditions. But this evening I listened to a sermon on the internet, a subject not talked about all to often in Christian circles and that is the two sides of the coin about pride. Most know about what we’d call puffed up pride, but I ain’t talkin about that tonight. I’ll talk about the other side of the coin, called false humility, which is a form of pride because in all reality as a Christian we are disagreeing with how God sees us. When God looks at a blood bought believer He sees righteousness, He sees the righteousness of Christ because we are washed in the blood. When we call ourselves poor sinners we are throwing out God’s view of ourselves and replacing it with our view, which is pride.

We are dead to that old sinner man in God’s eyes. God does not see it, He sees the Blood. God never stops loving us or looking at us differently from the moment we became Blood bought believers when we were born again. He sees His child! He will never leave us or forsake us. Only we can walk away. And walking away is pride, whether its puffed up pride or if its self condemning pride.

I like old Paul, he gets to the point, he says we are dead, the old man is dead. We are new, new creations in Christ. We don’t have to worry what God thinks of us as long as we remain in Him, and we don’t have to worry what man and the world thinks of us either. That fear of man that cripples so many Christians. And its a hard one to overcome unless we put our faith in the finished work of the cross and what that means in God’s eyes concerning us. And once we get that revelation on who God says we are, bit by bit that fear disappears and we become more like Jesus!

One way to say it is, imagine if I was dead, in the coffin and some folks were talking against me, calling me every name in the book, saying all sorts of things about me that weren’t all that great. I truly wouldn’t give a hoot, why, because I’d be dead. Nothing on this world can affect a dead man, he’s dead. No power, no person, not anything could affect me in the grave, cause I’m deader than a door nail. Tonight it hit me, my old self is in the coffin, he’s dead. No man can hurt me, no talk can affect me, I’m dead to this world in the eyes of God. And I’m not letting pride get in the way and try and bring the old man out of the grave, he’s dead! And I’m alive in the eternal heavenly kingdom!

This is one of the most wonderful truths of the Gospel! To know who we are in Christ. All of a sudden things look different. The fear of man and the world is fading. I always looked forward to preaching the Word before but there was always a fear there. A fear of man. That’s diminishing, and there is only that reverent fear of God. Makes it much easier to get out and preach.

 

 

There Is Nothing Free Except…….

“You must pay for everything in this world one way or another, there is nothing free except the grace of God. You cannot earn that or deserve it.” from the novel True Grit.

No, there ain’t nothing free when a person is trying to make a go of it out here with the cattle and all. Sometimes money is pretty hard to come by and when it comes it seems to sometimes go out faster than its coming in. Then there’s the sucker biller. Things that a person really gets nothing for but in this day and age many times its the law you have to pay these bills. Such as different insurances and such. Years ago, and I ain’t all that old, there were very few sucker bills and a person worked for the things he needed and was sometimes able to even save some for hard times. Times were simpler then and I do miss that.

When building a cattle outfit there’s a tremendous amount of work and long term investment put into it. More like a lifetime’s worth. Allot of sweat and back aches, allot of sleepless nights when the weather is rough. It ain’t a free ride by any means. Get a bug in the young calves with some rough weather to boot and a fella finds out what life is all about and it ain’t easy. There’s people problems too, from family to total strangers, a person never knows what a new day will bring. There ain’t nothing free in this life apart from God.

Well, a person could say there’s allot of things that are free and we can enjoy them. Yes, true, but all are provided for us by the grace of God. Its not only salvation that is provided free to us undeserving folks, but all the little things too. All those small and large joys that warm the heart are gifts from God.

Salvation is the ultimate gift though and without it everything else is done for nothing. It took me decades to realize that but thank God I do realize that now before its too late. A free gift for us, but it cost and incredible price to obtain it for us. Nothing we could ever do could take its place. Take the place of Jesus on that old rugged cross, shedding His Blood for us, to pay for our sins. Yes, its free to us, offered freely to any and all who will just surrender and accept the very fact that Jesus suffered, died and rose again to save us from ourselves.

This is the Good News, this is the message of all the ages. That we have been offered a free gift, we just have to accept it in faith!

The Rugged Cross

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.  Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. Romans 3:23-24

That old rugged cross! Without it we would be doomed! But God sent His Son to pay for our sins and to give us ever lasting life, eternal! This is my faith, this is the faith that I preach! This is the Good News, the Gospel! Simple, direct, real. Ranchers, farmers, rural people, all can have eternal life by coming to the Cross. No matter what a person ever did, no matter what the life style was, God has forgiven you and a person just has to come to the cross and surrender. No strings attached, just surrender the fight against God and against life itself. We were made to be eternal being, to have fellowship with God the Father, the Creator of everything there is.

This new year this is the message, the message that I will be preaching to any and all that will listen. From farm to farm, ranch to ranch, small town to small town, this is the message, the Good News!

Then, Now and Forever!

Glory to God! I think I have the last of the hay baled as of this evening! It was quite a ride this summer putting up all that hay with the wet weather, but I think I only have around twenty round bales that were baled up a little tough. Other than that the bales were pert near perfect! The total is 1120 round bales of hay, not counting straw. Now tomorrow get to cleaning the silage pit and start getting ready for that. Today was hot and humid, but tomorrow is supposed to be cool and windy, Praise the Lord! Perfect for that job. In fact getting ready for silage might take me all week, and the plan is to start chopping next week. The corn here is maturing very fast and I hope by the middle of September all will be done.

Yesterday, Sunday,was a good-un. The message at church hit home. But as sometimes happens, even in a message that is about one thing, questions were answered about another thing, or two. I love that when that happens. In my last post I was talkin about the Cross. Yesterday during the sermon we were in Revelations and something struck me.

“You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased men for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.”

This is from revelations chapter 5. These are the praises in heaven. Here’s more from the same chapter.

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!”

Wow! The praises in heaven at the throne are about the Cross! Now back down here on this old ball called earth I’ve heard preachers say that we got to get away from the cross and move on. But I say nothing could be farther from the truth. Because when we cross that River Jordan and head into the promised land the events of the Cross are what everyone will be singing about. Because there is nothing else that is responsible for getting folks eternal life, than Jesus on the Cross! He was born for the Cross, (thank God), and that is the only thing that gets us right with God. The Lamb Who was slain! It sure ain’t nothing that I did or you did, it was the Lamb Who was slain on the Cross that did it all.

I’ve been dwelling on this for a couple of months and now that I was directed to the Book of Revelations Sunday on another subject the pieces came together more and more! Not only is the Cross a back then event, its a now event, and an eternal event!

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

I might just be a country fella, but I do believe that this all says allot!

Outcasts

Just finished up another day out here. It was a whirlwind type of day for a while. Running around like nuts this morning getting things ready for synchronizing heifers for A-Iing next week. I didn’t know that they had tightened up the rules for some of the products that we use in this and it requires a prescription from the vets. So there was allot of running around the countryside this morning and I felt like some big time rancher driving, (fast) down the rural state highway, on the cell phone putting things in order. All’s well though, things got taken care of, the stuff got sold to me, even though I wasn’t picking it up. Just got sold on my name and because of my name. That’s one thing about life out here in fly over land allot of regular folks don’t believe or understand, how a reputation and a man’s word mean so much. I know that most of the folks that I call friends are using plastic in order to by stuff. But I guess I’m just an old hold out and prefer cash, green. It never fails to amaze me how many businesses love it when paid this way!

This is the way that I love to live though. Straight forward, no nonsense, where the word is everything. I know that’s really falling by the wayside nowadays, even in the church. Guess you could call me old school in many ways. Some say,”well now Tom, you gotta keep up with the times!”, but I don’t really care. Just look at how churches today are trying to be models of suburbia. Now let me tell you,  you start trying to shove modern suburban religion down this old cattle man’s throat and the out come ain’t all that great. I remember years ago, when I wasn’t on fire for the Lord, but still attending church here and there, I would always say that I’d trust the good ol’ boys at the salesbarn or the bar borrowing money from me than these church folk.Cause I knew that the chances of being paid back by many of the church folk were nil. In fact, and this is a fact, a few of them would spend more time in bankruptcy court than trying to pay back what “they owed”. What they borrowed. Now nobody forced them to borrow, they just had to keep up with the Jones.

Then a life changer happened to me a few years ago, about this time of the year. I attended a wake and a funeral for one of the good ol’boys in the area. Now this good ol’ boy was a rock solid Christian although I do believe he would be looked down at in many of today’s high class churches. And it was at those events where I know I received a major call on my life. Why? Because there was allot of “good ol’ boys” attending. In regular work clothes, some didn’t know that they should take their hats off during the funeral service and all. If ever I had a tug on my heart from our Lord Jesus Christ it was then. That was when I seen the call on my life, to go to the outcasts, to go the regular folk. And there are so very many!

I was dwelling on this today after running the heifers down the chute and I finally went out baling in a meadow. There I have time to think, to dwell, to talk with God. This is why I love the Gospel. This is why I’m attracted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Because it destroys the high and mighty and reaches down to the unwanted. This is why I always said that its better to be a town drunk than a modern church goer most of the time.  At least when your a drunk you are what you are. Jesus went to the unwanted, Jesus loved them. Jesus also loved the high society, religious people cause He ain’t no respecter of persons. Jesus didn’t reject those high society religious folks, they rejected Him. But the outcasts didn’t.

They call the Gospel of Luke, the Gospel of Outcasts and it truly is true. When a person reads it with that in mind, that comes shining through like a bright light! I don’t want some religion where everyone acts so “good”. Cause its just an act and that’s all it is. I don’t want to waste my time with suburban religion, nope, just keep it simple and talk about the Blood and the Cross. Stick to the truth, not tickling folks’ ears. Yep, that’s why I love the Gospels. That’s why I read them over and over because without them a fella has nothing. I don’t think I’ll ever be an epistle preacher because I am more the Gospel type person. I love to proclaim the Gospel, I love the Good News!

Praise the Lord for the Good News! That news that can set anyone free. Jesus suffered and died on the cross for the outcasts, as much as for any proper church folk. The countryside is full of people starving for the real thing, not what’s called church by in debt, middle America, but the real thing. A God that changes lives, not making folks proper to attend these modern churches where they aren’t welcome anyhow. The outcasts, saved by the Jesus on that cross. Lord, how I love this Gospel! The hope it brings to the folks that aren’t understood and are looked down upon.

Dry Bones

The summer is progressing here where the Great Plains meet the north woods. Making hay all the time and already have more made than all of last year, and there’s allot to go.  Just started the meadow hay and as I work daily I see the second cutting hay is growing up rather rapidly and there won’t be much of a break between the first and second crops. This weekend there’s a large summer carnival in a small town about 13 miles away and we’ll be heading over that way this Sunday morning for a joint church service of area churches, although several churches supposedly are involved, only two really show up and do the work. But that’s the way it usually goes in this day and age.I must say though, that those two churches are the type of churches that I feel very comfortable with. The real thing, not some old dead religion.

With all this summer work its almost my off season as far as ministry work goes. Just a bit too busy most of the time, but the way it looks, the ministry season should start earlier than the last few years this year because things slow down here, well kinda, after corn silage is chopped. I don’t pick much corn and won’t be picking any this year that I know of so if silage chopping is around Labor Day, things will slow down so at least the evenings will be much more open. I can’t wait! I was thinking about getting a different pick up truck but have decided not to, to many other things that want that money, so instead of a good used pick up to drive around the area in I figure on cleaning up the three quarter ton flat bed truck and buying a new seat cover and away we go. That thing is a gas hog but its a bear in bad weather. It’ll go through almost anything.

There’s stacks of Bibles to pass out, and there will be stacks of tracts too. A while back I was reading a book called Apostle Cowboy Style, written by the late Glenn Smith and he was writing about his earlier days in ministry and how the Bible opened up to Ezekiel and he got inspired to go on with the thankless ministry that he had been doing. And after a while it did take off because he was doing it God’s way, not his way. That evening while checking out what ol’ Glenn had read the pages landed on Ezekiel 37 and I read on. What I read amazed me and spoke to me.

1The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones,

2And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.

3And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.

4Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.

5Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:

6And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

7So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.

8And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.

9Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.

10So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.

When I read this I had a vision. Now let me tell you, I’m not one of those folks that has visions all the time. In fact I have only had two that I can ever remember and this is the second one. The first one was over four years ago. This is a day time thing not a dream. But I seen something that has shook me allot. I seen a valley, a valley in fact where the town where the carnival is happening this weekend, and I seen it all from an areal view, perfectly. I seen a valley of dry bones, I seen a people living there, the living dead, so many of them. And the Lord say, “go speak to these dry bones and I will make them alive.” There’s allot more to it all, the surrounding town, farms and ranches, but this is the nucleus of it. To preach the Cross, to preach the Blood. Its not up to me to convince anyone, its not up to me to “save” anyone. Heck I couldn’t even save myself, Jesus did that for me on the Cross! My calling is to say, “Thus saith the Lord.” To preach to any that God sends in front of me. To wait on God’s timing,not Tom’s timing.  To not worry what man thinks, to only fear the Lord, not man.

The Lord showed me what would happen with simple obedience, the dry bones would come to life. Since this vision happened a couple of months ago, I brought it to the prayer group before every service at our little rural church and we have been praying this through. We have been speaking it forth in prayer, believing, standing on the Word of God!

The Cross and the Blood

1 Corinthians 1:18

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

This has been burning into me all day long.  Busy day here, gloomy, muddy, slow melting, light rain falling from time to time. The verse above has been in a post or two in the past, can’t rightly remember how many times or where I put it but this is one of those power verses in my humble opinion. Preaching the cross, and I might add, the Blood! This is as foundational as it gets. Without the cross, without the Blood, well, there’d be nothing, absolutely nothing. And in this day and age I know its not that popular to preach about these to things, heck I even heard a bigshot preacher talking against them a while ago. Saying we should be concentrating on the benefits of our salvation. Hello! There are no benefits without the cross, without the Blood! This was on my mind and in my heart heavily today.

Think, just think what this verse says. This is just Tom’s figuring here. Nothing borrowed from Bible school, nothing borrowed from some big time preacher. Just look at the verse! Look at the Living Word! It says that preaching the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. I tell you, that says a bundle! Think what this means, think what God is saying in these verses. When we water down the Gospel, when we make it seeker friendly, when we don’t preach the cross, preach the Blood, in order that we won’t “offend” someone because it might seem foolish to them. Because it might make them uncomfortable this verse says we will perish. Not in those words but that’s the meaning. Either the preaching of the cross is the power of God, the center of the Gospel, or else we are on the perishing side. Egad!

The cross, the Blood, the very center of belief! Without it a person perishes. Without it there’s no salvation.

16For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth,  Romans 1

To believe that Jesus bore our sins, to believe that He suffered and died, taking our place, a place we deserve. A gift. Nothing done through us, nothing.

Ephesians 2

8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Jesus did it all. This is the Gospel! This is the salvation that no church can provide. This is the salvation that no preacher or priest can provide. Salvation is not a thing, salvation is a person and His name is Jesus. Our being set free was bought at an incredible price! But we must believe. We must believe that Jesus did go to the cross for us, that He shed His Blood for us. That there was nothing in this world that we could do to be right with God in our own power. Religion won’t get you there, good works won’t, only Jesus.

Foolish, I know it sounds foolish. Foolish to the world, foolish to religion, foolish! But it is the Gospel!

1 Corinthians 1

27But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.

No matter what a person believes, no matter what denomination they go to, this is bedrock. This is the only Way. This is the message that is preached in the byways and out of the way places, the places that society shuns. This is the message that gets preachers kicked out of a surprising number of churches nowadays. It makes folks uncomfortable. Its much easier to hear nice mushy messages, non convicting messages, those that don’t show what people really are. Those that don’t show people that they are perishing in their own sins. Its much more fun to go to church and hear messages that promise you that God wants you rich! That you can have all the stuff and live like the world and God loves you and just thinks every thing’s OK.  But it doesn’t work that way, in fact its much simpler than what religion and a modern luke warm church preach. Just believe.

My limited experience has shown me that the down and out only want truth, they only want an answer. They don’t want gimmicks, and neither do I. I want God and I know that I know that there is nothing ol’  Tom can do to please God using my own power, nothing. I will fail no matter what. But Jesus solved that problem. He saved me from myself . He saved me from this world that is perishing. A gift, not cheap, an incredible gift.

Sometimes I get a little down. It happens and I ain’t proud of it. I gotta get to the Cross more! I gotta kneel down at the foot of that old Blood stained Cross and worship Him. The old timers knew this, but its been getting diluted over the years until there’s powerless religion with no real hope in this life or after. Allot of times churches are yammering that they want to see God move, or someday God will move in their church. Wanna know something? Why not now? Preach the Blood, preach the Cross and I promise that God will move in the church. Folks want the Holy Spirit to come with power, but it seldom happens. Preach the Blood and the Cross and buckle up! Cause things are going to move! Why do I say this? Just read the second half of the verse on top of this post. Tom might tell a tale once in a while but God ain’t a liar!