Shootin’ Straight Part 3 – The church of Lonesome Dove

by Kevin on June 9, 2010

This is part 3 of a 5 part series where we take a look at Christian cowboy living without any fancy talk or sugar coating. If you missed the previous posts, please be sure and check them out.

Shootin’ Straight Part 1

Shootin’ Straight Part 2

The church of Lonesome Dove

I haven’t met a cowboy yet that didn’t identify or look up to either Captain Woodrow Call or Captain Augustus McCrae.

Woodrow Call was the strong silent warrior that spoke his mind anytime he opened his mouth, but mostly let his words speak through his actions. He was no nonsense and didn’t cotton to fanciness or fake formality.

Gus McCrae was the exact opposite. He loved to laugh and have fun. He also loved everything in sight that would stop for just a second. Gus flourished in the fake formality of fancy talk and of that, he excelled.

But both men were fearless when it came to injustices. There was never a question of “what if”. If they could help, they would. Despite the danger or hardships. They lived life on the edge and fed off of each others gifts and abilities. Each one secretly wishing they could discover how to be like the other, but resigning themselves to be who they were.

There are others that deserve mention in the church of Lonesome Dove. Great men like Pea Eye Parker, Josh Deets, and the man that is the subject today, Jake Spoon.

Together, all of these men formed a group that was strong. Each one lent his talents and abilities in the service of the group. Together, they came to decisions and actions that served the greater good. They laughed. They cried. They rode. But they did it together–as Rangers.

Jake Spoon was the one that had it all. He had the toughness of Woodrow and the bravado of Gus. He easily blended in with whatever company he kept at the time.

But Jake gets mad and decides to head out on his own. Without the company he used to keep and the group’s moral integrity, Jake falls in with a group of horse thieves. Jake never does anything wrong, but he doesn’t do anything right either. When this little band ends up killing some farmers and burning them, Jake knows that he’s in trouble and leaving them will be even more.

The Lonesome Dove church group ends up finding the slain people and decide once again to track down the killers and bring them to justice. They find the killers–and Jake Spoon.

JAKE SPOON: Oh, you don’t need to tie me up, Newt. Hell, I didn’t kill anybody. I just fell in with these boys to get through the Territory. Hell, I was gonna leave ‘em first chance I got!
GUS McCRAE: I wish you’d taken that chance a little earlier, Jake. A man who’ll go along with five killings is takin’ his leave a little slow.

After more protests….

GUS McCRAE: You know how it works, Jake. You ride with an outlaw, you die with an outlaw. I’m sorry you crossed the line.
JAKE SPOON: I didn’t see no line, Gus. I was just tryin’ to get through the Territory without getting scalped.

We all know that Jake dies that day. Some might say that it was being in the wrong place at the wrong time that got Jake killed. But I think the mistake was made long before that. What ended up being the greatest mistake was leaving the Lonesome Dove church and trying things on his own.

What is the Church?

The Church is the body of Christ and he is the head of it. It’s not a building. It’s not a Sunday meeting. It’s a group of like-minded people that help each other worship God, live righteous lives, and support each other in their pursuit of fulfilling what Jesus asked us to do.

As Christians, we must belong to the body of Christ. Apart from the body, a Christian cannot grow anymore than a fingernail can once it’s been clipped off.

That’s where Jake messed up. He left the body. No longer did he have others to support his good decisions and tell him that other decisions might be bad. Nobody told Jake what he could or could not do, but the group had a support system effect. They looked out for one another.

Are the people that make up the church perfect? No!

Woodrow, Gus, Deets, Pea, none of them were perfect. They were far from it. But when you put them together with each of their gifts, they were strong and made the right decisions most of the time.

Many people out there are pulling a “Jake Spoon”. They think they can be a Christian apart from the church body. You might be able to do it for a little while, but ultimately, you will fail.

This is a call today for you to get in the church body. Visit a hundred churches if you have to. Find one that preaches Jesus Christ and holds the Bible as the ultimate Word of God. Watching Joyce Meyer on TV or even reading this devotion doesn’t constitute a church. There is no interaction with fellow believers.

I could not care less if someone has you made you mad. I could care less if you are too busy. I could care less if you had a bad experience with a church one time. It’s not about you. It’s about our Lord.

If you don’t find a Lonesome Dove church group, one day you might hear yourself say the words: “I didn’t see no line, Gus.”

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  • I can testify to this in my life. I have surrounded myself with some good Christian friends that help me navigate the difficulties of life. If not for them I would certainly drift astray. Many times they are my compass when mine is broken.

    • Kevin

      I hate it when my compass gets broken. That usually means I have to do some back tracking. When I get back to the spot where I went astray, I can usually remember that I knew not to go that way in the first place. And I find my friends still supporting me as I finally go in the right direction.

  • I may have said it before, but I love the church!

    The biblical church is centered on Jesus Christ and Him alone. The Christ-centered church seeks to do God’s work, God’s way for God’s glory; it is a body not a business; it is a flock not a factory; it is a living organism not an organization.; it follows the unchanging Word of God, not the ever-changing whims of culture; it is led by the presence of the Spirit of God not the manipulation of human personality; it exists for the glory of God not the ego of men.

    That’s the kind of church I want to be a part of. That is who Jesus Christ made us to be when He called us and saved us. A. W. Tozer put it this way, “One hundred worshipers meeting together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become “unity-conscious” and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.”

    That’ll preach!

    • Yep. That’ll preach!

    • Kevin

      Wow!! You have the next four Sunday’s lined right up. Very eloquently put. Blunt too! I love it.

  • Ronnie Spoon

    I have seen this time and time again. People leave the church because they are offended, embarrassed, have issues at home, etc. And everytime, I have seen them end up in worse situations than when they left the church. I still haven’t found a way to break this cycle. And they find it easy to blame the church.
    You are shootin’ straight from the hip. Good post.

    • Kevin

      Ronnie, many times people go into a church wondering what the church can do for them instead of seeing how they can fit into the church. I personally don’t mind someone leaving the cowboy church as long as they find another church. That doesn’t mean that I want someone to leave mad or upset, but if that’s the case, then it’s just a sign that their focus was on them instead of Christ. I left West Park Baptist and became a preacher (later on). It wasn’t a knock against the other church, I just felt God leading me else where.

      • Ronnie Spoon

        I also have no issue with someone leaving the church when they are doing God’s will. Whether it be in another church, starting a new one, being in ministry, etc. I just have issue when people use the church as a crutch and as you said, their focus being in the wrong place. You are doing a good work. We have a few cowboy churches in our area. Went to a barn revival recently where a camel came up and “did his business” right at the altar during the sermon. They just cleaned up the mess and the preacher never missed a beat. There was a goat just roaming around the whole time looking as if we were invading his territory. Was a good service though.

    • I’ve been looking for a post like this for an age

  • The difficulty comes when the good guys start acting like the bad guys. I personally have been in a situation where I was trying to find a church for the first time and the first one I found was so insular and withdrawn from the world that they seemed to make efforts to make me leave. I don’t know if that was their intention or if they just didn’t know what to do with someone new, but there was no way I was going to hang around. The experience actually left me very turned off to church.

    • Kevin

      Do you look at that as maybe God saying that he had something or somewhere different in mind for you? I don’t think God makes people act stupid, but at the same time, he can use stupid acting Christians to speak to us about his will.

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