Our Spring ministry season is about to kick off and I’ll be heading to the booming metropolis of Fowler, Colorado for the Red Top Ranch Trick Riding Schools. This will be my fifth year of ministering to the staff and students of what ends up being four individual schools scattered throughout March. The students come from across the United States (and sometimes as far as Alaska, Canada, or the UK) and range in age from 5-45 (although there is not really a specific limit).
The ministry consists of church services on Sundays (alongside Paul & Linda Scholtz) and helping and visiting in the arena during the six or so hours of instruction time each day. Outside of being stuck in a truck on a trip, there is no better or easier time to visit about the Lord than while you’re working hard in a practice pen. So please pray for softened hearts of the students and their families as well unity among the staff.
I would also appreciate your prayer as the last two weekends of March kick of the spring season of Kansas High School Rodeo. In between trick riding schools I’ll be at KHSRA rodeos in Kingman, KS and Hill City, KS.
How It Works:
I have a friend who, after asking dozens of questions every time we get together, suggested that I give some background of how we do what we do. As such, from time to time I’m going to try my best to give you a behind the scenes look at what goes in to “making disciples in rodeo and rural America."
The picture that I included with this update is one of my favorites from the schools. With the sunlight, storm clouds, and kids practicing it makes for a great image. But it also highlights an important resource that is often taken for granted at any rodeo school or clinic. It takes a special kind of horse to trick ride. A trick riding horse needs the strength of a roping horse, the speed of a barrel racing horse, and the mind of a pleasure horse to make the cut for professional trick riders. The standard is already set high. But our school horses need all that PLUS they need to be reliable with various levels of rider abilities. In short, they need to be perfect (or close).
There is no perfect horse. But no matter what the discipline, a whole lot can be achieved in the reliability area by consistent training. One thing that most of our students don’t realize is that the horses used for trick riding or ponying at schools or Rodeo Bible Camps must be worked for months in preparation for the few days that they get to see them.
So, for most of the winter months, the staff (in Colorado and Missouri) have been “legging up” our ponies and getting them ready for the schools. This is a time of reminding them that they are broke horses (hopefully that doesn’t take too long) and building up their endurance. In fact, nearly every time that I have called one of the schools’ staff members over the past few weeks, they have been riding or planning to ride one of the twenty some horses that we use. There are worse jobs on the planet than riding a great horse…but it is a whole lot of work!
Books We’re Reading:
In addition to giving you some insight on “How it Works” I also wanted to share a little bit about what the Lord is teaching us. For the most part, the Lord deals with me as I dig in to His Word in personal devotions and in lesson or sermon preperation. Frequently, though, I come across a book that the Lord uses mightily as well.
I’m not sure if it is me getting old or what but I have found myself drawn to a section of my library that I’ll call “books I should have read more carefully in college.” These are books that I didn’t necessarily appreciate as I breezed through them in college but the Lord has used mightily in my life since then. The first book in that category is “Balancing the Christian Life” by Charles C. Ryrie (Moody Press, 1994).
In an age of prevailing superficial books that are intended to encourage Christian living, “Balancing the Christian Life” came to me a breath of fresh air. Ryrie is one of my favorite theologians and comes at issues from a concise and Biblical perspective and this book is no different. In fact, he is so direct and gives so many verses to back up his arguments that I had to read this book just a few paragraphs each day. I’m not a quick reader anyway so it was very enjoyable to take some time each day, alongside my devotions, and read a section of the book and then chew on it.
Again, this was a book I picked up about twenty years ago and was totally blown away by the truth, doctrine and encouragement contained therein. And to think, I let it collect dust for all those years! If you take some time to chew through it as I did, you’ll come away with some practical disciplines to live out as we grow in Christ as well as some encouragement to “continue the fight.”