Sunday, March 12, 2006

Inside in the Middle

Most cowboys that ride bronks or bulls will tell you it's all about keeping your mind in the middle. Even the barrel racers say having the fastest horse is nothing if you can't turn. In any rodeo event it's all about timing and being mentally prepared. The same goes for those who have been called to work in ministry, you've got to be prepared to go where it is you've been called to go. Ok now in plain english, get ready, get set, go! All the planning in the world won't make a difference if you never take a step out in faith.

Saturday March 11 we launched the Cowboy Church at Lithia-Pinecrest with our Cowboys in Concert series featuring Tommy Brandt and Travis Lewis. Both of whom have played for us in at Mill Town Cowboy Church services. These two men have an incredible call on their life to share the gospel with their unique style of cowboy country music. Our event as held at the Holmes Equestrian Center in Litha, FL. Mike Holmes and I had been planning this for about a month and it came off even better than we had planned. The event began with a cookout then music. Mike and Sherry Moore of WTBN AM 570-910 were our MC's for the evening. They host a radio program every Tuesday and Thursday at 8:00 PM called Community in Focus which features ministries from all around Florida and those local to the Tampa Bay area.

Everyone that came Saturday night said they would be back. Even with the Strawberry Festival going on we still had over 100 families attend the inaugural event. Our next event is going to be April 8, Barbaque begins at 5:00 PM, music at 7:00 PM. April will feature a Barn Dance, so be sure and come prepared to swing your partner.

We (me, the wife, and the two kids) left Lithia around 10 PM Saturday night for a 1 hour ride to Arcadia, a hot shower and a bed up off the ground, on our way to help with Cowboy Church at the Arcadia Rodeo. As fate would have it we had just passed Zolfo Springs which is about 24 miles from Arcadia and I said to Suzanne, "I think we're draging something!" Well we were, besides the 16 cargo trailer full of food and drinks and all our PA and lighting equipment, I was draging the left rear tire on the trailer.

Now I have had tires go down before but let me tell you this tire, which by the way was only 4 months old, disintegrated on the wheel. There was nothing left but a small rubber ring and some shards of steel radial. It was basicly acting like a 15 inch grinder going 60 MPH. If you've never been to Zolfo Springs imagine a little country town with one light and it blinks most of the time. The section of the road we discovered the tire wasn't even wide enough for us to pull of and change it. So, I stopped and began changing what was left of the tire. At this point I had been up since 7 AM and I was ready for bed, I just wanted to get the family to the hotel so we could relax. Well the good Lord had something else in mind. Jay Avant from our sponsor church in St Cloud had come down to help with the event in Lithia and before he left I had asked him to bring me a spare tire. If it hadn't been for him we'd have been stranded in Zolfo and "NO!" I mean No! stores are open on Sunday in Zolfo. With the help of two very understanding State Troopers we were able to get the tire replaced and back to Zolfo to put air in the spare, was flat too.!!!

Sunday morning! Travis, Everett from Reality Ranch Minsitries (Zolfo Springs), Mike Fletcher of Spur on Ministries and myself setup for Cowboy Church at the Arcadia Rodeo. By the way, Saturdays rodeo was sold out not even standing room only was available, this was a big rodeo. Everett opened up with his usual brand of humor and gospel, I really enjoy listening to him. He knows everybody there and loves to share Jesus with all of the Cowboys and Cowgirls. I spoke breifly about our cowboy ministry in Central Florida and then turned it over to Mike.

Mike introduced a man that he had invited to give a testimony. Well, he introduced Donnie Gay, 8 time world bull riding champ and Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame inductee. I had seen him sitting there in the front row but it didn't dawn on me who he was until Mike asked him to speak. It was amazing hearing him talk about his life on the rodeo circuit chasing those dreams and belt buckles. But even more impressive was hearing how Jesus came into his life and changed him. Once you've been around the rodeo crowd you will understand what that means. Old habits die hard. The rodeo way isn't an easy life even when you're on top of your game. Then ad to that God convicting you to be an example to your friends. Many of who measure a cowboy by his ability to ride a 2000 lb bull or bronk after a night of being places you shouldn't be and drinking like there is no tomorrow. There is no doubt that this man lives his life for Jesus because he is reaching men and women for Jesus Christ on a national level. One cowboy at a time.

Mike Fletcher wrapped up the service talking about living holy lives, one day at a time.

It's all about relationships.

Saddle up, see you on the trail.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Ridin' the Plains

Only a short drive just south of Kissimmee, Florida is a quiet Dude Ranch on the banks of the Kissimmee River called River Ranch Resort. It's like slipping back in time to the days when Cowhunters roamed the wilds of Florida.

We drove down Sunday morning to help put on Cowboy Church at the Florida High School Rodeo. This two day event brought young cowboys and cowgirls from all over the state to compete. Tama, one of the ladies who has been coming to our Cowboy Church in Kissimmee drove down with us. Even though you are just a little south of Osceola County it takes an hour and a half to get there. And trust me it is in the middle of no where. But it is beautiful.

Randy Johnson who is the Chaplain for the High School Rodeo Association leads the service. Suzanne and I have just offered our help any time Randy goes and holds Cowboy Church. Randy is well known throughout the rodeo community and every teen there knows him and the always come around to hug his neck or shake his hand. He also operates a small ranch in Zolfo Springs, Florida called Reality Ranch Ministries. His ranch brings at risk children to the ranch and teaches them how to care for and ride horses. Each Sunday they have a Cowboy Church and once a month feature a Cowboy Fellowship on the last Friday of the month.

Cowboy Church started with 65 rodeo contestants and their Moms and Dads. It always warms my heart to see just how many of these kids show up on a Sunday morning. Randy always presents the gospel in a practical way and relates the message to their everyday life. Randy asked me to close the service by giving an invitation for those who had never accepted Christ into their lives.

If you would like to join us as we travel to various Rodeos across the state please feel free to contact us through our web site listed above. Grab your hat and boots and lets share the Good News of Jesus Christ.