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Out Our Way: The real deal - Acts 4:33


Last updated 6/5/2020 at 7:41am

Out our way, we have a saying: “All hat and no cattle.” It refers to folks who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. I recall in Great Falls during rodeo week how some dude bought boots and spurs and wore them into the Cowboy Bar across from the fairgrounds. Now, no real cowboy is going to walk around town in spurs if he can help it — and it was clear this guy was a wannabe cowboy, but not the real deal.

Long story short, while trying to posture and pretend he was a real cowboy, he tangled his spurs together and ended up tripping and falling flat on his face. Clearly, he was not the real deal.

Nowadays there are some folks who claim to be Christians, pastors and even prophets but who appear to be “all hat and no cattle.” You will recall Jesus warned us about them saying, “By their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:15-20). Likely you know the joke about the cops pulling over a woman on suspicion of car theft. When she furiously asked why the police had suspected her, the officer said, “I saw you flip off someone you very nearly hit while driving recklessly, saw you roll down your window and curse a pedestrian who was trying to cross the street in front of you — and then I noticed the bumper stickers on the back of the car indicating the owner was a Christian — so naturally I assumed you were not the owner.” 

By their fruits you will know them. The real deal Christian lives the faith daily and not just on Sunday. Far too often I fear I have been an “all hat and no cattle Christian” — and how many people have been turned way from Christ because though I claimed to be His disciple, I did not act like it. How often have I not lived up to being the real deal?  

As I read the texts for Pentecost I was reminded of the disciples’ failures to be “the real deal” as well. James and John asking to be honored above all the others (Mark 10:37). Simon Peter denying Jesus (Matthew 26:34). Then there was Thomas who refused to believe (John 20: 24-29). But all that changed when the Holy Spirit came upon them (Acts 2:1-4). The weak, helpless, and terrified disciples were transformed and became “The real Deal!” They came out of hiding, boldly proclaimed the living Christ and went forth to transform the world. That transformation is still continuing because the Spirit is still at work.

True, the fakes and cons and scammers, the false prophets of whom Jesus warned us, have also arisen (Matthew 24:11), but the real-deal Christians continue to show the world the truth. “All hat and no cattle” preachers and churches may spring up like weeds, for as Jesus also warned “the Enemy sowed thistles amongst the wheat” (Matthew 13: 24 -43). Though the thistles seem to rise up and prosper faster than the wheat, they are but weeds and will be treated as such. 

As a cowboy, I am a beginner, although Charlie has certainly done all he could to help me at least start to become the real deal. As a Christian and a pastor, I often realize that I am still a beginner as well. But so were all those folks on Pentecost … just beginners. But they were open to the Spirit to transform them into the Real Deal. We need to be as open and patient as they were and know the Spirit is at work even in the least of us. Even in me. 

     I will not transform the world, nor will you — but Christ will and is doing so through you and me and millions of others. We are the seed that is the real deal and as long as it takes, that seed will grow and ripen into an abundant harvest.

Be blessed and be a blessing!

Brother John


The Rev. John Bruington is the retired pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Havre. He now lives in Colorado, but continues to write “Out Our Way.” He can be reached for comment or dialogue at [email protected]


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