Christian Cowboy Poetry and more

Christian Cowboy Poetry and more
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Monday, January 31, 2011


Ridin for the Boss and the Brand, page 16

Fact: we can never be good enough to meet
God’s requirements for salvation.
Fact: we are all sinful, no matter how
charitable we are.
Fact: the wages of sin is death.
Fact: God only accepts the death of Jesus as payment for our sins.
Fact: if you admit and confess how you have
failed to meet God’s desires;
if you ask for His forgiveness and help to turn from your sinful ways;
if you ask Jesus to take control of your life and believe He will do it
God will be faithful to His promise and will write your name in His Book of Life.

Here’s where that stumbling block comes in.
It is difficult to give up control of our lives when everywhere we turn, we see beautiful people in beautiful settings luring us to believe we could be one of them.
Of course that takes the right car, the right deodorant, the right stock broker and so forth.


TV shows and magazines
are selling stuff with sexy scenes.
Movies where the bad guy wins
and never answers for his sins
are telling me that I could be
more happy than I am.
Come on, give in, don’t be a fool,
everybody cheats in school.
And only goody-goodies frown
at drinking beer or sleeping ’round.
It seems to me that I can be
more popular than I am.
I am confused. I feel abused
and cry out in frustration,
“Help me today live life Your way;
lead me not into temptation.”
Cheat on my expense account,
no one’s gonna find me out.
Fudge a little on my taxes;
no one cares; besides the fact is
plain to see I can be
much richer than I am.
Drugs and sex and alcohol,
why not give in and have a ball?
When everything is said and done,
material girls have all the fun.
Society is showing me
who is better than I am.
Temptation’s natural, not a sin,
unless, of course, I just give in.
I call on God’s unending power
to help me through my darkest hour
and then I see God’s will for me
can strengthen who I am.
I’ve been confused and felt abused;
I’ve wrestled with frustration.
But with the love from God above
I’ve triumphed o’er temptation.

All this visual temptation will give you “I” trouble. But you won’t be the first to suffer from that.

“How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!
You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High." But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit.
Isaiah 14: 12-15

Friday, January 28, 2011

Rancho Reality

Ridin for the Boss and the Brand, page 14

I heard this somewhere and it came back to me while I was writing this. It seems to fit. For Christians, Jesus is a stepping stone. For everyone else, He can be a stumbling block.

Rancho Reality

I expected to see the Marlboro man;
tall in the saddle, broad shouldered and tan.
I looked for Tom Selleck or someone like that
wearing chaps and spurs
and a big Stetson hat.
Instead, there’s a spindly old guy in a truck
who looks worn out and weary
and down on his luck.
I hoped for “The Duke”
ridin’ hard in his prime
not a grizzled old coot
who is long past his time.
But, this geezer explained
when you live on the land
the hard work will wear down
the heartiest man.
The shortage of water
and high price of hay
turns what hair you have left
to gunmetal grey.
I longed for the movie,
the myth and the dream
but reality’s different
and not nearly as clean.
There’s dust in my dinner plate,
sand in my shorts
and gooey stuff sprays
from my horse when it snorts.
The cattle are smelly,
my saddle is hard,
I got stuff on my boots
when I walked through the yard.
I wonder if God feels the same about me?
Disappointed I’m not everything I could be.
Do the things that I do
ever give God the blues?
Am I like the stuff
on the sole of his shoes?
What would God do in His infinite grace?
Oh, yeah, he sent Jesus to die in my place.

Christians believe there is only one way to eternal life and that is through faith in, and a personal relationship with, Jesus Christ. If there was another way, why would God have gone to all the trouble? It sounds simple, but churches are full of folks who acknowledge there is a creator and still refuse to believe, accept and submit to His plan for their eternal life. That plan centers on Jesus Christ; God’s Son who, as a man without sin, volunteered to pay the price for our sins. That price was death.

Jesus made it clear: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." Acts 4: 12

If you don’t agree, you may be a lot of things, but Christian isn’t one of them.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Blessed Insurance

Ridin for the Boss and the Brand, page 12

I remember, back in the 90s, during my confrontational Christian poetry stage, I adapted the old hymn, “Blessed Assurance” to make the point that we are not saved by what we do.

Blessed Insurance

Blessed Insurance, Heaven is mine,
I’ve got my ticket, no waiting in line.
I helped the needy, I’ve done my share.
I gave my money. That only seems fair.
This is my story, this is my song.
I’m pleased to do it, don’t get me wrong
This is my story, it’s understood
I’ll go to heaven, because I’ve been good.
Blessed Insurance, Heaven is mine
I said a blessing each time that I dined.
I prayed that others one day would see
You really want them to be more like me.
Blessed Insurance, heard in the pew
Come to our work day, there’s plenty to do.
Increase your giving, serve on a board
Keeping real busy is pleasing the Lord.
Holy confusion, what have we done?
Taken the Glory away from God’s Son.
Jesus, the Savior, died for our sin.
If we believe it, God will let us in.
This is my story, this is my song.
God take control and help me be strong.
This is my story, it’s understood
We’re saved by faith not cause we are good.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Here is another excerpt from "Ridin' for the Boss and the Brand."

What I see these days is a distorted view of Jesus’ call to witness. I won’t say churches intentionally misrepresent the Great Commission, but it does seem they interpret it as more about getting people to a church service than getting them to heaven?


Old Ben Dollar and Pete Purdue
were chewing over what to do
about the task they had in store.
They hated going door to door
or calling on the telephone.
So Pete told Ben, once they’re alone,
“Evangelize; a scary thought.
I realize I’d rather not.
The preacher said, ‘go spread the news’
but he just wants to fill the pews
on Easter and on Christmas Eve.
He seems to want us to believe
that if we get them in the door,
next Sunday, they’ll come back for more.”
“More what?” asked Pete, “More Bible-light?
He preaches so we’ll feel all right
about our lives, our hopes and dreams
with scriptures that support our schemes?
We’re told, forget the other stuff,
God’s there to help you, that’s enough.
Just ask and He will sure deliver
AND God just loves a cheerful giver.”
Ben agreed, it seemed confused
about why they should spread Good News.
He said, “We should tell those we know
that Jesus died so long ago
as part of God the Father’s plan
to bring eternal life to man.
He died to save us all from hell,
not so church membership could swell.”
See, worship is what we should do
but where should be left up to you.
Just find a church that’s Bible based;
a church where emphasis is placed
on God the Father, God the Son,
God the Spirit; Three in One.
With that in mind, we just relax
and share how Jesus Christ impacts
our daily life. Tell how we’ve changed;
how values have been rearranged.
Then Pete said, “When it’s put like that
just hold it while I get my hat
cause when God’s love is emphasized
it makes sense to evangelize.”

I like the idea of “event evangelism;” special concerts, celebrity guest speakers and dozens of other opportunities to invite someone to church. But what do they get when they show up? Is your church equipping members for the battles we are fighting against Satan’s forces or is it just a Sunday social club?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ridin' for the Boss and the Brand

More from my book of Poetry with a Purpose so you can get a sense of what is included. FYI, there is also an abridged version available on CD.

Ridin’ for the Boss and the Brand

When the boss says,
“There’s some fence to mend
and you all lend a hand.”
There’s never hesitation
cause you’re ridin’ for the brand.
If you have to move a herd of beef
much sooner than you’d planned
you saddle up and head out
cause you’re ridin’ for the brand.
There are certain obligations.
There is pride and loyalty
and you’ll always lend a hand
because you’re in the family.
I think that it’s the same for those
who heed the Master’s call
and witness to the love God showed
through Jesus Christ for all.
The Lord said there is right and wrong
and you must take a stand.
He won’t accept the middle ground
when you’re ridin’ for His brand.
The branding iron that sears your heart
was fired by sacrifice.
God sent His Son to die for you
so take some good advice.
Count yourself as lucky
if you’re cut out from the herd
by the wrangler that is Wisdom
on a horse that is the Word.
And know that what awaits you
is the glory that God planned
when he sends His Son to round up those
who’ve been riding for the brand.

God’s given us all a horse to ride, but too many of us just want to keep it in the barn. My hope is that this book will remind you to saddle up and tell everyone you meet about the thrill of Ridin’ for the Boss and the Brand. Being a Christian takes courage. And, like John Wayne is quoted as saying, “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway”.

Friday, January 21, 2011

I am a Cowboy Poet!

I need to tell you that "Ridin' for the Boss and the Brand" is more than just another book of Christian poetry and it's not a just book of Cowboy poetry. (I have one of those if you're interested) I thought I'd give you a taste of what the book is about by printing excerpts on this blog.

"My purpose is not to relate life in the saddle, but use life in the saddle as a way to relate what I consider eternal truths. I hope that explains why I wrote this book.

For the record:

Like most folks who enjoy cowboy poetry, I don’t make my living in the saddle. But I can dream of cool nights under a big sky, campfires and camaraderie. I feel “cowboy.”

I am a Cowboy Poet

I am a cowboy poet.
Well, not the “cowboy” part.
I don’t spend days on horseback
but there’s cowboy in my heart.
I am a cowboy poet.
I wear a wide brim hat
just like those for-real cowboys do.
I make dern sure of that.
I am a cowboy poet.
I use phrases like “Dern sure,”
“All-you-all” and “Adios”
to give my rhymes allure.
I am a cowboy poet
and I love the out of doors;
The glistening mountain glaciers
and verdant valley floors.
I love the smell of fresh cut pine,
the chill of mountain streams
and the sound of saddle leather.
I’m bustin’ at the seams
with joy for all things cowboy
except the cowboy way
of walking round in high heeled boots
for all the live long day.
But, as a cowboy poet
I have to play the part
cause folks expect the image
when there’s cowboy in your heart.

That’s sort of like a Christian;
There is joy, but also pain
when standing on God’s principles
while those around complain
that you’re just a soggy blanket;
A fool and not real smart.
But God applauds the sacrifice
when there’s Jesus in your heart.

God has truly blessed me when it comes to Cowboy Poetry. In 2006, I did something that had never been done before; perform in mainland China. I was part of the Great American Cowboy Concert Tour that played on The Great Wall, in Beijing and in Shanghai.

Two years before that God opened the doors to New York’s Carnegie Hall. Only one other cowboy poet had ever performed there. What an honor!"

Just so you know, I was asked to record an abridged version of the book and it is now available on CD. I'm keeping the cost low so you can order some for all your friends.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Texas Two Step

The "Texas two-step" came to be
quite simply, from necessity.
It was a line dance at the first
and never, ever was rehearsed.
Each hand, I’m told, jist let er loose
when he found the outhouse was in use.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Reformed Theology

For everything, there is a time. Now is the time for a little introspection. Before we remove the speck from someone else's eye, we need to use a little Visine on ourselves. Sometimes our slide into the shadows is so subtle, we don't notice it. That's what this is all about.

Reformed Theology

He used to be scared; afraid of the dark
and slept with a night light on.
But he listened when folks said
there’s nothing to fear
and his need for the light was soon gone.
He used to think drinking
or smoking some dope
were things that just should not be done.
But he listened when folks said
it’s really not wrong
and besides, it makes life much more fun.
It really annoyed him
when someone would curse
or would take the Lord God’s name in vain.
But he listened when folks
all around him would swear.
Now he finds himself doing the same.
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 just all shades of gray
he’s confused and accepts wrong as right.
He used to say, “Friends,
what you’re doing is sin.”
They demanded apology.
Now advice that he gives
is just live and let live.
It’s “reformed theology.”
He used to be sacred; afraid of the dark
but now he goes out in the night
cause he listened to lies
dressed as truth in disguise
and prefers the dark, to The Light.

Jeff Hildebrandt © 1999

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Funeral

I don't know where this originated but the story was passed on to me by Bill Barwick yesterday. I spent a little time fleshing out some details and turned the story into this poem.

The Funeral

They gathered in the grave yard
on a flat Nebraska plain
and the preacher just kept talking
despite the threat of rain.
Ralph stood there,looking skyward,
as tears slipped from his eye.
The grand-kids all stood silent.
Then lightening split the sky
and a massive clap of thunder
shook the very air
Ralph smiled and told the preacher,
“It sure sounds like she’s there.”

Jeff Hildebrandt copyright 1/17/11

Monday, January 17, 2011

Coffee Cup Christianity

As my Bible Study group was wrapping up Henry Blackaby's "Fresh Encounter with God" book, this thought started percolating. The study centers on the need for prayer and repentence before there can be any revival. The poem does too.

Coffee Cup Christianity

Silently, he sits and stares;
His mind rehashing daily prayers
of thanks and joy, of wants and cares.
Silently, his sits alone
without the TV or his phone
and prays that God’s desires are shown.

In this solitude
he feels the steam
rise from his cup
as he drinks in the aroma
then tastes the bitter black.

Silently, he sits and waits
and wonders why God hesitates
when we are in such desperate straits.

Coffee gone,
he notices his morning mug;
stained from days of neglect.
He more than sees, he understands
why he’s been drinking bitter brew.

Silently, he prays, “Cleanse me
till I am all that I should be
and others can see You in me.”

Unchecked lives,
Unwashed cups,
stain deeply over time.
Both need daily cleaning
to taste the full flavor of God’s Grace.

Jeff Hildebrandt © Jan. 10, 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011

Handlebar Mustache

While sitting with my wife at Denver's Historic Buckhorn Exchange, enjoying the musical stylings of William Barwick and Roz Brown, I was inspired. They were entertaining the crowd of merry-makers with a song made famous by Jimmy Buffet called "Pencil Thin Mustache." Well, being a lover of all things Western, I thought I'd just cowboy-it-up.
(It's best if you have access to Mr. Buffet's song to get the rhythm right)

Handlebar Mustache

I’ve been watchin’ movies about the old west
…seems every hero survives every test.
Now I find I’m dreamin and I just wanna be
a white hatted hero like those on TV.
I wish I had a handlebar mustache,
the Sam Elliott kind.
Quick draw pistols and big leather chaps,
I could have a sidekick, like Andy Devine.
I remember being a fan as a kid
and savin’ the homestead the way Hoppy did.
Now, if I had a handlebar mustache
I could be a hero too.
It was backyard, ridin hard, livin the dream,
bein’ Gene Autry all day.
It was cap guns, lots a fun in those early years.
Why, I remember leadin’ the three mesquiteers
Yeah, I wish I had a handlebar mustache
So I could be a hero too.

But it’s my fate, I’m too late, those times are gone
And I find I just wanna be
Not a five-and-dimer, but a real range rhymer;
a Cowboy entertainer, who does po-e-try.
Yeah, that’s why each evening, to God I do pray
make me sorta famous like Wally McCrae
so folks will come to see me and leave with a smile.
That’s the way it ought to be.
That’s why I wish I had a handlebar mustache,
the “Waddie Mitchell” kind.
A two toned Stetson I’d wear everywhere
If I could make a livin’ well, that would be fine.
Oh I’d be respected, not be just a hack
and make lots of money like ole’ Baxter Black.
That’s why I wish I had a handlebar mustache.
Then, I could be a poet too.

Jeff Hildebrandt, copyright 2002

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Fence Mender

Thinking of another poem relating to the snow so many of us are shoveling thru. This actually came from a painting I saw years ago during one of the Michael Martin Murphey WestFest events. The more I looked at it, the more of it's story seemed to become clear.


Fresh Snow…
except by the horse tracks behind him
and the sagebrush,
like polka dots on a bed sheet,
stretching to the mountains ahead.
He’s alone but far from lonely
as he rides up through the snow
along a sagging fence line
with the valley down below.
Pausing where the wire is down
this old fence mender looks around
to see if he can find a clue
of just what critter busted through.
But fresh snow…
covers any sort of sign
except those horse tracks back behind.
So he picks up the wire
nails it back in its place
under gray skies that cover
this wide open space.
Then the clouds split apart
by shafts from the sun
as if they’re God’s spotlight
on a job that’s well done.
Shadows shorten.
Boot and horse tracks
melt together as one
and tight wire is all that’s left behind.

Jeff Hildebrandt © 2004

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Blue Haired Old Lady

I have to give a nod to Willie Nelson and the Red Headed Stranger.


A blue haired old lady from North South Dakota
rode into town one day.
She heard they played pokers so she brought some money
and asked if they’d mind if she played
The yellow haired gambler looked over the table
and said to the lady there,
“If you’ve got the money just sit right down honey.
Won’t somebody get her a chair?”

I wheel ‘em and deal ‘em
It’s no-limit hold ‘em.
So put up or shut up and play.
I’ll shake her then break her
that gambler was thinkin’.
Then take all her money away.

The first card he dealt her was down and was dirty
but she didn’t seem to care.
She would raise and would call. She was havin’ a ball
and she took the hand with two pair.
This lady was cookin’. She’d raise without lookin’.
like she didn’t care how she played.
That gambler was cocky till his luck turned rocky
He didn’t hear anyone say-

Just wheel ‘em and deal ‘em
she’s here to play poker.
She’s tough and she’s bluffin’ to stay.
She’s bold and yer foldin’
and ‘fore the night’s over,
she’ll take all yer money away.

That blue haired old lady walked out of the card game
with all of the gambler’s dough.
But to stop all his guessin’, she taught him this lesson
and it’s one that we all should know.
Judge a book by its cover and you’ll soon discover
that prejudice gets in the way.
In the future I’m hopin’ you’ll keep your ears open
and listen to what people say

Don’t’ judge or begrudge em.
Treat everyone fairly
when anyone passes your way.
Be fair and be carin’.
Don’t jump to conclusions
Cause that is the cowboy way.

Jeff Hildebrandt © 2005

Monday, January 10, 2011

Snow Day

As you're drinking your cocoa after shoveling the driveway and sidewalks, take a minute to consider the wonder of it all.

Snow Day

If I knew how to paint
I think I’d know how a painter feels
in front of an empty canvass
fluffing the bristles and imagining.

My empty canvass is a field,
freshly blanketed with 11 inches of spring snow
so wet you could wring it like a wash cloth.

I know its 11 inches. I measured
I know it’s soggy. I shoveled.
I know how the artist must feel.

A sculptor uncovers what’s hidden in stone.
A painter transforms empty space into cobalt blue
and burnt-umber reflections of reality.
The kids and I will turn this blank canvass
into a snow fort, a snowman family
and a half dozen snow angels.

Then as this winter white forms puddles on the floor
we sip cocoa with marshmallows,
like tiny snowballs, melting too soon.

It’s a snow day and oh, the possibilities.

Jeff Hildebrandt © 2005

Friday, January 7, 2011


Another Cinquain....thoughts?

Circuit rider
Searching for souls
Sermon on the mount

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Another in the attempts at Cinquain poetry...

Scenic shortgrass
Bovine dining room
Feeding what feeds us

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Here's another Cinquain. You can look at yesterday's post if you need to remind yourself about the format.

Smoke scented
Dutch oven master
Waiting impatiently for compliments

It is almost time for breakfast and I've got to remember to tell the cook how much I appreciate the meal.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


"Cinquain" is a form of poetry that doesn't fall into the cowboy genre,but it is useful in keeping the mind flexible. It's sort of a stretching exercise to loosen up before the big rhyme. Here is the formula: Line 1 has one word (the title). Line 2 has two words that describe the title. Line 3 has three words that tell the action. Line 4 has four words that express the feeling, and line 5 has one word which recalls the title. Over the next few days, I'll be sharing my brand of Cinquain. Maybe you can share yours.

Leather skinned
Hard riding steward
Thankful for his freedom