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cowboyThis week, we have been engaged in our congregation in a massive effort to collect and send clothing to the earthquake victims in Haiti. Our efforts reminded me of this illustration that I've used before:

A cowboy rode into town and stopped at the saloon for a drink (root beer, of course!).  Unfortunately, the locals always had a habit of picking on those of a British background, which he was.  When he finished, he found his horse had been stolen.  He came back into the bar, handily flipped his gun into the air, caught it above his head without even looking and fired a shot into the ceiling.  "WHICH ONE OF YOU SIDEWINDERS STOLE MY HOSS?" he yelled with surprising forcefulness.

No one answered.  "ALRIGHT, I'M GONNA HAVE ME ANOTHA SODA, AND IF MY HOSS AIN'T BACK OUTSIDE BY THE TIME I FINISH, I'M GONNA DO WHAT I DUN IN TEXAS! AND IIIIIIIIIIII DON'T LIKE TO HAVE TO DO WHAT I DUUUUUN IN TEXAS!"  Some of the locals shifted restlessly.

He had another root beer, walked outside, and his horse was back! He saddled up and started to ride out of town.  The bartender wandered out of the bar and asked, "Say partner, what happened in Texas?"

The cowboy turned back and said, "I had to walk home..."

Ever known anybody like that, lots of threats, but no real intention to carry out them out?   All talk but ultimately no action? More to the point, is your Christian life characterized more by what you SAY you're going to do, or by what you're actually willing to DO?

"What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?  Can faith save him?  If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,' but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?  Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."  (James 2:14-17)

What kind of faith do you have -- the kind you talk about, or the kind you show through your obedience to God and service to others? Is there someone in need that you've been praying for? It may be time to stop praying for others to do something and start helping yourself.

Alan Smith