Cowboy Poet, Jeff Hildebrandt’s Book
Sayin’ Ain’t Bein’
When God turns out the lights
Will you be in the dark?
By Jeff Hildebrandt
Sayin’ Ain’t Bein’
Sayin’ you’re a cowboy
don’t carry too much weight
if you never rode a fence line
or fixed a saggin’ gate.
Dressed up all in denim
with your boots and western hat,
you may look just like a cowboy
but that’s not where it’s at.
A cowboy is a cowboy
from way down deep inside.
He’s along to make a difference,
not merely for the ride.
Sayin’ you’re a Christian
is just about the same
if you’ve never trusted in the
saving power of Jesus’ name.
Dressed up in your Sunday best
for all the world to see
you may look just like a Christian,
but you’re just a “wanna be.” *
A Christian has been changed by God
from way down deep inside
and is here to make a difference
not merely for the ride.
* “Wanna-be” is how some working cowboys define non-cowboys who perform cowboy poetry. They aren’t cowboys, but they want-to-be. Another expression is “All hat and no cattle”. My favorite is “Wanna Bee”. All buzz and no honey! But, I digress.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly
“I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”
Matthew 7: 21-23
I believe the same God who created the universe also created human beings with free will so we are able to love Him in a way that’s more than mouthing a ritual of praise.
I believe everything from Abraham to Christmas were clues to His ultimate plan.
From Christmas to the Cross we see how the plan played out.
From the Cross to the end of your life is how you show your love for His gift of salvation.
I was in a Bible study discussing the Apostle Paul’s sense of mission. We were asked if we have a sense of God’s direction and purpose for our lives.
I told the group I felt led to stir things up a little.
A lot of people think that’s type-casting.
But I find I’m not the only one who sees religion getting in the way of faith. I think it’s important that we understand being “churchy” is not a ticket to the Promised Land.
After High School, there was college.
Does it seem to you that God has a harder time being heard on college campuses than just about anywhere else? I remember finding a campus ministry house but I think I only visited once in my college career.
What happened? I had been so active in church but the desire withered, like seeds sown on rocky ground.
“Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.
Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
He, who has ears, let him hear.”
Matthew 13: 1-9
Those verses came back to me years later while I was at a men’s retreat discussing the idea of being anchored in our faith.
Bob Nolan sang of tumbleweeds
just driftin’ cross the plains.
And even now, when cowboys sing
you’ll hear that same refrain.
I think about those tumbleweeds
just tumblin’ to and fro,
changing their direction
with how the wind will blow.
The tumbleweed just tumbles
because it’s broken free.
It has no roots to hold it back;
its dead as dead can be.
And in the song, the cowboy
was driftin’ that way too.
He had no firm foundation
that he could hold on to.
At times I think that I’m just like
that tumblin’ tumbleweed.
just blown in all directions
by self-centeredness and greed.
When I don’t have The Water
or feed on God’s own Word,
I become a drftin’ tumbleweed.
Of that, I am assured.
But there’s hope for all us tumbleweeds.
Don’t take this truth for granted;
God’s the gardener of your soul
and you can be replanted.
I was on a committee that met in a small church. The basement walls were plastered with “Gay Pride” flyers. I mentioned that it seemed we were endorsing homosexuality. I expected to hear something about hating the sin, but loving the sinner. What I heard was more like, “what sin are you talking about”? It was time to find another church. There was a little too much worldly reforming being done to my “Reformation” based religion.
He used to be scared, afraid of the dark
and slept with a night light on.
But he listened when peers
said there’s nothing to fear.
And his need for the light was soon gone.
He thought that God’s plan
was one woman, one man
and that was all there was to it.
But he listened when folks
justified their own strokes
now he says if it feels good, just do it.
He used to be clear,
he knew what was wrong
and could see things as black and as white.
But when so many say
it’s all shades of gray
he’s confused and accepts wrong as right.
He used to be scared,
afraid of the dark
but now loves to go in the night
cause he listened to lies
dressed as truth in disguise
and prefers the dark, to The Light.
I am like a pinball; reacting to what I bump up against. One of my most intentionally confrontational poems resulted from bumping up against abortion protesters in Cincinnati. I was a radio reporter and covered one of their sit-ins as a news story. At one point, I was asked to lend my voice to their outrage. When I declined, I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I would never get to Heaven if I didn’t speak out against abortion.
Well this was the point of the spear; the tip of the iceberg; the foam on the latte, as it were.
Excuse me, foam on the latte?
Well, in each case, there’s a lot more going on than just the point, tip or foam.
I believe faith is individual, not corporate.
I believe faith without action is not what God had in mind. (James 2: 14-17)
I believe action without faith is just what Satan had in mind.
Let me just say that social issues are not always faith issues.
I don’t know about you, but everyday stuff gets in the way of me being the person I want to be.
I’m not as quick as others are to pray for someone’s needs. I’m not as compassionate and ready to help as people who talk tenderly about the plight of hurricane refuges, unwed mothers or starving children.
We can’t let that stuff beat us up. Remember, even the pillars of our faith had to deal with doubt and despair. Being a Christian is a two step process.
First, we’re saved and then we’re changed. The changing part is the one we all have trouble with.
“I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am!
Who will rescue me from this body of death?
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord”!
Amazing Grace; how sweet the sound.
But when a wretch, like me
is faced with someone needing grace,
I’m blind and cannot see.
The evidence of God with us
is how we treat another.
And without Grace we don’t forgive
but tend to judge each other.
Grace forgives the things we do;
forgives the things we don’t.
Grace puts up with all our faults
when those around us won’t.
Grace is what we get from God.
Grace is what we give.
Grace is not a mealtime prayer;
it should be how we live.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
when it helps other’s see
God’s love and mercy exercised
in Christian charity.