Cowboy Church

The Cowboy Church movement is designed to reach a certain people group, which has its own cultural norms.

This church building was located in a barn, which is in the middle of a working ranch.  Right outside the door of the church was an Australian Cattle Dog and a horse.

Their belief system is typical for a Christian church.  The main difference is in how they package it and teach the members to apply it to their  own life.

The Attributes of God

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This book is available for free on Amazon as an ebook.  It discusses the following attributes of God:

  • God is solitary in His Excellency.  God is peerless in His perfections.
  • God is omniscient.  He knows everything; everything possible, everything actual; all events and all creatures, of the past, the present, and the future.
  • God is perpetually the same: subject to no change in His being, attributes, or determinations.  God is immutable.
  • He only is independently, infinitely, immutably holly.
  • God is faithful – faithful in all things, faithful at all times.
  • The goodness of God refers to the perfection of His nature.
  • The divine patience of God is manifested in His dealing with sinners.
  • Grace is the sole source from which flows the goodwill, love, and salvation of God unto His chosen people.
  • He is love itself.  Love is not merely one of His attributes, but His very nature.
  • The wrath of God is His eternal detestation of all unrighteousness.

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

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Screwtape is a demon and he is writing letters to his nephew, Wormwood.  The letters are meant to help Wormwood, who is fresh out of Tempter’s College, in his endeavors to prevent people from becoming Christians.  In the end Wormwood fails and is eaten by the more successful demons.

The advice given by Screwtape was potentially effective, but it was also subtle.

  • Church members can be used to keep people away from the Gospel, especially if they behave rudely or practice immorality.
  • Family discord, lack of self-examination, and critical thoughts toward others will promote a self-righteous attitude.
  • Keep people away from prayer or have them use memorized superficial prayers that can be repeated without meaning.
  • Keep people focused on themselves and their own problems to promote selfishness and prevent charitable behavior.
  • Keep people focused on personal feelings.
  • Teach people to reverence religious objects, so the object replaces God.
  • Teach people to view the past as happy and peaceful.  Teach them to view the future with dread and hopelessness, so they will believe not even God can save them from certain destruction.
  • Create anxiety to prevent people from focusing on God.
  • Promote hatred for those who are different from them and hatred for enemies.
  • Promote malice towards the people around them and keep benevolence out of their minds.
  • Increase temptation during times of struggle, so sin appears to be the best way to elevate depression and inner turmoil.
  • If people desire to attend church, help them find one that focuses solely on friendship and self-help topics.
  • Teach people to live two parallel lives.  Sunday is for church, but during the rest of the week there is no thought of God.  This will allow them to live in sin, but still feel self-righteous.
  • Lull people into the path of wickedness, “Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”
  • Don’t allow people to be rooted in a church, “if a man can’t be cured of church going, the next best thing is to send him all over the neighborhood looking for the church that ‘suits’ him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches.”
  • Promote discord in the church, so the members are arguing over petty things, then they will be unable to teach the gospel with any effectiveness.
  • Encourage false spirituality among the people.

 

Visiting a Snake Handling Church

Reposted from 9 November 2016

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Last Friday, I visited a snake handling church.  It took several months to find it, because the practice is extremely rare.  The church is located in Section, Alabama, which is a little less than 2 hours from where I live.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos to share.  I wanted to take pictures; however, it seemed disrespectful.  I also felt like I would be violating their privacy.

I was concerned about how the church members would react to me.  There is no way I could just blend in with the regulars.  I have very short hair, I am covered in tattoos, and I was wearing pants.  However, they were nice and welcomed me to the church.  Several of the ladies took time to talk with me and the preacher even invited me to have dinner at his house with him and his family.

The first part of the service involves worshipping God by singing and offering praises.  They used various instruments and it was rather loud.  People raised their hands and their bodies would shake as they were worshiping.  Others walked around the building and prayed in tongues.

During the singing portion, the preacher picked up a copperhead snake and raised it into the air.  A second man also tried to pick up the snake, but the snake attempted to bite the man.  The preacher came over and prayed for the man, so he could try again.  His next attempt was successful and he also held the snake over his head.

Several other men held a small flaming torch and they started putting their hands on top of the flames.  They also held the torch close to their chest and directly under their chins.  After a few seconds, they praised God for not allowing them to get hurt by the flames and passed the torch to another man.

I was disturbed by the small children playing in the aisle ways of the church.  A two year old girl was allowed to room free as they were worshiping.  What if someone drops the poisonous snake and the child happens to be near them?

The worship lasted an hour and was followed by an hour of preaching.  The best way to describe the preacher’s sermon, it was convoluted.  The preacher jumped from one topic to another and then back to a previous topic.

The main points of his sermon:  it’s a sin for men to have long hair, it’s a sin for women to have short hair, it’s a sin for women to use makeup, it’s a sin for women to wear pants, it’s a sin for women to be in a leadership position over a man, if you are filled with the Holy Spirit you will speak in tongues, you must be baptized in Jesus name to be saved, you must be filled with the spirit and speak in tongues to be saved, other denominations are sending everyone to hell by teaching false doctrine, you should only marry a holiness person, and failure to keep any of the commandments will result in physical illnesses as well as an eternity in hell.

At the end of his sermon, the preacher looked at me and said God will accept you as you are and if your hair is short you can still come unto God and be saved.  Even though it’s awkward when the preacher speaks directly to you and everyone in the congregation knows what he is talking about, I felt like he was trying to reach out and teach the gospel.  He did not condemn at any time, so that’s a plus.

All in all, I am glad I went to the service.  It was an interesting experience and I learned a few things about a fringe religious group that I didn’t know.

 

What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert

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I live in an area known as the Bible Belt.  The majority of the population identifies as Christian and has some exposure to basic Bible principles (regardless of church attendance or religious practices).

However, some Christian leaders fear this may work in a negative way.  People are comfortable with their limited knowledge and never truly seek to understand the gospel message.

I was talking with a friend about such issues and he recommend this book.  It’s just over a hundred pages and easy to read.  However, it is full of useful information and puts the gospel message in a whole new light.

There are four main aspects to the gospel (God, man, Christ, response).

God – God is the creator of all things, he is righteous and just, he will not tolerate sin, and will punish the guilty

Man – All of us are guilty.  Sin isn’t just something we do, it is who we are, it is are very nature.  Because of our sin nature, we will be held accountable to God.

Christ – Christ provides hope for mankind.  He was both fully God and fully man, so he is the only one capable of paying the penalty for our sins.  The author sums it up by saying, “He died for me.  They were my transgressions, but his wounds.  My iniquities, but his chastisement.  My sin, his sorrow,  And his punishment bought my peace.  His stripes won my healing.  His grief, my joy.  His death, my life.”

Response – The gospel tells us that faith (reliance) on Christ is required for salvation.  We are also called to repent (ask forgiveness and turn away) of our sins.  Perfection isn’t possible, so repentance is demonstrated by our attitude toward sin.  We can no longer live in peace with our sin.

If you desire to gain a better understanding of the Bible and the gospel message, I highly recommend this book.