Tag Archives: Religion

The Code…Ride For The Brand

The term “brand” goes back thousands of years and originally meant “to burn”. To the cowboy of the American West, the “brand” not only identified the ownership of cattle, but it also became the symbol of loyalty, pride, and commitment. Some people credit Louis L’amour for coming up with the term “Ride for the Brand,” but I can imagine some cow boss telling a slacker hired hand cowboy that if he wasn’t going to “Ride for the Brand,” he might as well hit the trail. It was his way of communicating that if he wasn’t going to work hard, take pride in his work, and be loyal to his employer, then he didn’t need to be working there. Riding for the brand was, and is a great way to sum up a how to have a good employee/employer relationship, but the phrase can be applied in a number of ways.
As an equipment dealer, we are proud of our brand. We are constantly working to build the reputation of. We brand our caps, tractors, uniforms, buildings, advertising, and just about anything we can think of that is related to Great Plains. We are also proud of the brands we represent, and “Ride for those Brands” each and every time we open our doors. Our goal is to communicate to our customers through our actions that is the “Brand to Ride With”.
As a Christian, “Riding for the Brand”    is really summed up in a scripture that I should remember every day. Colossians 3:23 says.
“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”
My goal in life is to ride for the    and even though I make many mistakes, fall off my horse, and disappoint my Heavenly Father, I hope that at the end of the day, people will see by my actions that I belong to Jesus.
In my opinion, the best example of a person “Riding for the Brand” occurred a couple of thousand years ago, long before the cowboy rode the range on the Great Plains. The apostle Paul was beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, whipped and imprisoned numerous times and said in Galatians 6:17 that “I bear on my body the scars that show that I belong to Jesus”.
Isn’t that what a “brand” is?

This story and others posted in this blog are originally published in Great Plains living.  The official magazine of Great Plains Kubota.

The Code…Be Tough But Fair

This is the fifth article in the Cowboy Code series that I have written in Great Plains living.  Of all of the Cowboy ethics we have talked about, “Be Tough, but Fair” might be one of the most lacking in our society today.  It’s really easy to find examples of people who are tough and maybe we can even name a few people who we might consider fair, but the combination of the two is where most people like myself fail.  Who is the first person that comes to mind when you think about someone who was or is “Tough but Fair”.  John Wayne?  Roy Rogers?  Gene Autry?  All of which are great examples of “Tough but Fair” cowboys in the movies, but we know they were just human and in real life, they made some mistakes.  So, as I started to put my thoughts to paper, the week before Easter, I simply couldn’t get off my mind that there really is only one perfect example of someone who was, is and always will be, “Tough but Fair”.  His name is Jesus.
No, Jesus wasn’t a cowboy during his time here on earth, but he did ride a donkey.  My belief that Jesus was fully human and that He is fully God is why I say no one, including the best of the cowboys, has ever been tougher or will ever be fairer.
Jesus as a human was tough.  During the time He spent here on earth in human form, He suffered the most painful and humiliating death known while going through more mental suffering and anguish than any human has ever endured.   His mental strain from carrying the burden of all of our sins was so much that the Bible tells us he literally sweated drops of blood the night before his crucifixion.  No human has ever been tougher.
Jesus as God is fair.  How many times have each of us said or at least thought “that’s not fair”?  I will confess that I probably weigh things on the fairness scales several times a day and catch myself saying “that’s not fair”.  When we see injustice on earth, it is at the hands of men as the Bible tells us that God is just. This means that He is fair and impartial. It also means that He hates the very things that we would call unfair, the ill-treatment and oppression of people and of nature, which He has created.  The fact that God is just means that He can and will judge between right and wrong and He will administer justice in accordance with His standards, in His time.
I have a friend in law enforcement that has a movie poster showing Doc Holliday and the Earp brothers walking down the street of Tombstone, side by side, fully armed.   The poster is titled “Justice is Coming”.   Revelations 19:11 speaks of Jesus’ return to earth.  It says, “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war.”  Justice is coming and this time He will be riding a white horse instead of a donkey.

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A Close Connection

     How do you connect with Christ?  Perhaps the better question is, how do you share your faith with others?  Personally, I feel closest to God when I’m surrounded by His creation.  Likewise, Oklahoma native, Brad Clay, finds that sharing his devotion to Jesus Christ through his passion of hunting is an effective way to reach those who want to take their faith to the next level.  
     Final Descent Outdoors, Clay’s nationally televised hunting show, offers inspiration to help those striving to reach that next level of faith.  The show’s title is based on Mark 13 which states that “no one knows the day or hour of the Lords return, not the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”  Clay feels that we must be on guard and alert because no one knows when Christ is going to make his final descent.
     Growing up in the small, western Oklahoma town of Reydon, where the closest Wal-Mart was 55 miles away, hunting and fishing was a way of life for Clay.  He lost his father to leukemia at the age of six which would later play a role in his personal ministry.  After his father’s death, his family moved to Allen, Okla. which is where his faith journey began and, where he surrendered to the ministry.  After graduating from Allen High School he served as a part time youth pastor at the Allen First Baptist Church.  He also attended ECU where he played football.  He suffered a football injury and transferred to Southeastern in Durant Okla.  While in Durant, he served as the youth pastor at Silo Baptist Church, which is where he met his wife April.  April and Brad moved to Sulphur where Brad served at the First Baptist Church until a year ago.  Little did Clay know that God’s plan for him would eventually provide a national platform for him to share both his passion for hunting and devotion to God.
     Clay never had any intentions of starting an outdoor TV show, but what started out as an outreach program for his young adult Sunday school class ended up as such.  Clay and other men from the class were looking for a way to continue their fellowship on Sunday afternoons while their wives were shopping or going out to eat.  A friend of Clay’s from the First Baptist Church in Durant suggested the group put together a 30 minute hunting show for their local cable channel.  For the next six years, Clay admittedly made some really bad television, but over time the show improved.  When asked why he decided to start a show in the first place, Clay had this to say.
     “We want to reach men that are needing the gospel.  We feel that it is our obligation to use the passion that God has given us to share the scripture with others.  We saw the chance to share our dedication with the hunting show that aired on the First Baptist Church channel.  By ending each show with a devotion, we were both entertaining and enriching our viewers.  When the show improved it was picked up by KWHB TV 47 in Tulsa.  It ran there for a year.  Through mutual friends and sponsors we decided to contact the Pursuit Channel to take it nationally, which is where the show is today.  I went full time with Final Descent a little over a year ago.  The decision to do so wasn’t easy.  I let God lead me through the whole process, and I truly feel this is what He wants me to do,” Clay stated.
     Final Descent is more than a TV show.  It’s a living ministry that Clay performs through lectures and other engaging mediums.  This month he is releasing a DVD titled “Predator”,  which is a six week bible study for outdoorsmen.  Predator is one way Clay is
reaching the male audience.  He noted there is a lack of devotional material in Christian book stores for men, and even more so for outdoorsmen.  He also hosts outdoor kids’ camps which is very important to him due to the loss of his own father at such a young age.  The kids camps continue to grow every year.  This September 78 kids met in Sulphur to do everything from shooting guns and bows, to learning about tree stand safety.  He finds these camps are a great way to reach kids who might not have the opportunities to do such things.
     “We take Final Descent day by day.  It is ever changing.  The main thing is we are obedient to God.  If that means the show continues, then so be it,” Clay said.
     When people are seen on television it’s often thought they must be wealthy, but not so with Final Descent.  The truth is of the eight pro staff and ten field staff members, Clay is the only full time member.  It is comprised of everyday guys such as school teachers and salesmen.  The other two owners Jason Charter and Mark Hudson, have additional jobs like laying floor and training horses.  Perhaps this is why they relate to their audience so well:  They are average guys doing what average guys love to do.  When we watch outdoor television it looks easy, but there is more to it than pushing the record button and shooting an animal.  Final Descent
creates a story that is both meaningful and entertaining to their good ol’ boy audience.  The long hours of field work and travel that yield only minutes of video ultimately help create the story and ending devotionals.  Just as Clay lets God lead his life he lets the footage lead the episodes’ devotional material at the end of every episode.
     Obviously Clay loves hunting.  When asked, he stated that if it’s in season, he would like to shoot it.  When asked what it means to be a Christian, Clay said this.
     For me I believe there is a difference in a believer and a disciple.  I want to be a disciple of Christ.  There are definitely times when I fail, but I learn and continue to give all my glory to God.  On the day of judgement I want to be able to stand in front of God and know I was a faithful servant.  I want to earn that title,” Clay proclaimed.
     Clay has dedicated the majority of his life to God and the outdoors.  The relationship between the two really have no beginning or end and are more than a close connection.  I’ve been in a tree stand while the moon was setting and the sun was rising, and thought to myself, only God could create such beauty.  It’s times like this, and Final Descent, which fuel a closer connection with God.
     Be sure to tune in to Final Descent on the Pursuit Channel.  See it July through December; Sundays at 5 p.m., Mondays at 8 a.m., or Thursdays at 3 p.m.

A close connection was published in the 2013 issue of Great Plains living the official magazine of Great Plains Kubota

Great Plains living the official magazine of Great Plains Kubota

Great Plains living the official magazine of Great Plains Kubota

     Great Plains Living is the official magazine of Great Plains Kubota an Oklahoma Kubota dealer.  In Great Plains Living you will find informative and entertaining information about the rural areas in which we live.  Our quarterly magazine is available at the link above and at your doorstep. 

     As an Oklahoma Kubota dealer, Great Plains Kubota offers their customers many services.  Great Plains Living is one way we connect with our customers on a personal level.

     We have dealerships located in Ada Oklahoma, Duncan Oklahoma, and Shawnee Oklahoma.  Stop by and see us at any of our locations for your next farm equipment needs.  Ask us about our Kubota Package deals.

Bridging the Gap

By Reed Boettcher – Great Plains Living

“Aging In” provides stepping stones for foster teens who are “Aging Out”

   Young adults who age out of the child welfare system are more likely to be unemployed, homeless, pregnant, convicted of crime, and under-educated.  There is plenty of public information on these statistics in which the findings show the negative outcomes for youths asking themselves, “Now What?”
    Shake the dust off the thinking cap and try to recall your own mental state at the age of 18.  Like those who are aging out of foster care there were probably a lot of us asking ourselves the same question but unlike those teens we may have had the structure and guidance needed to successfully bridge the gap between adolescence and adulthood.
    A local couple from Roff, Okla. recognizes this issue and is doing something about it.  Mike and Gail Priest have been providing dedicated foster care for six years.  What they have seen in this time is the desperate need for support of teens that are aging out of foster care. Their support is founded by faith and it starts with a question.  “Why age out when you can age in?”
    “Aging In” is more than a foster home.  The Priests provide a home for a range of foster, adopted and biological children of all ages.  Mike and Gail started “Aging In” for youths that have become at risk of aging out of foster care.  Their goal is to provide a Biblical foundation in a family setting on which youths can prepare their lives for adulthood.  Through modeling, discipleship,  personal mentorship, and character training the Priests equip these youths with the life skills needed to become faithful members of a productive society.  The focus and inspiration of their work is based upon the principles found in Matthew 6:33.  But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
    The Priests commented on their concerns on this issue and how they address them.  
    “The biggest need that I see is that most of the teens leaving the system don’t have any sort of foundation.  So, part of our program that we are setting up is to bring them into a home environment and create some stability as well as a sort of discipleship program along side them.  Providing a home and giving guidance only goes so far.  By providing them with spiritual direction we find that there is greater success in a positive future for these kids.  There needs to be an internal change to offer a long lasting impression,” said Gail.
    “By not having the guidance they need, most of these 18  year old kids don’t know where they are going or what they are going to do.  They can get into group homes or enroll in college and there are government programs and assistance but without any direction they usually go unused or misused.  One statistic I’ve read stated that 80% of these teens leaving foster care get in trouble with the law within a year’s time.  We bring them into the family and treat them like our own.  The biggest part is involving them in whatever we are doing, as you would do your own children.  Scripture says God setteth the solitary In families.  By us offering the spiritual path we feel it gets them going in the right direction so they will have a better chance of staying on track.”  said Mike.
    “Aging In” incorporates a program called, “The Next Step” which is a sponsorship program where youth take part in a nine week discipleship program located in Windsor, Colorado at the Ellerslie mission society.  Ellerslie specializes in helping students experience the substance of the Christian faith.  Here students  get a strong Scriptural understanding and Biblical framework which establishes a healthy life-long spiritual behavior pattern.  Recently eight Ellerslie students spent their three week break from the discipleship program at Ellerslie to volunteer their labor at Aging In.  Aging In is located at the Priest Ranch which consists of 152 acres of pasture land where the Priest family runs horses and cattle.  The ranch house is a 4,000 square foot log home which will provide living for up to three teenage foster children as well as their other children.
    The Priests have been married for 25 years and have seven biological children between them, five adopted children and six grandchildren.  In 2010 they were nominated for foster parents of the year following their adoption of a 29 year daughter.
    Mike and Gail’s desire to see lives transformed by the power of the Gospel has been met with some adversity.  Providing for the needs of a large home that will house multiple youths is an ongoing process.  Materials are still needed and there is never enough time in a day but with volunteers such as those from Ellerslie and others from the local community Aging In’s completion will become a reality. Taking in foster children benefits human life as well as society, but can be problematic as well.     
    “Some of the kids can bring in problems.  They have been through things that kids shouldn’t have to go through so naturally there is reactions from this.  Our take on this is to create a solid relationship with the Lord and then create a strong family relationship before even thinking about fostering.  You have to have a relationship with the Lord and be strong in your faith and your family to handle these problems,” Mike said.
    “By helping these teens now we save later.  If we can bring an end to this horrible cycle, we will generate responsible adults that will make better decisions in life,” Gail said.
   One study shows that every year 26,000 youths age out of foster care with over 300 in Oklahoma alone.  It stated that almost half won’t finish high school and 66% will either become homeless, jailed, or die within a year of leaving foster care at 18.  Another estimate revealed that more than 80% of all inmates were in foster care and that girls are 600% more likely to become pregnant before age 21.  These statistics although alarming are ones you might have predicted.  It’s almost as if there is a new generation of foster children generated from the time they leave the system.  Granted there is a natural number of non-foster teens that will not finish school, die or become homeless but how can one ignore this trend.  The very fact that the majority of our inmates were in foster care implies there is a problem that should be addressed.
    So what is the answer to this problematic cycle?  For the Priests it’s providing the spiritual stepping stones that create the framework of a structurally sound young adult.  Their work in comparison to the national problem at hand may seem in vain but to the lives they have enriched the Priest’s have given hope.  The stepping stones they provide are ones of change and like a ripple in a pool their change begins with a disturbance of the current state.  
    For more information about “Aging In” contact Mike or Gail priest at aging_in@yahoo.com or call Gail at 580-235-2150.   Visit http://www.ellerslie.com for information about Ellerslie Mission Society.