Culling the Herd

As much as I try to forget this when caring for our livestock, ranching is a business; and sometimes circumstances require tough business decisions. Like any business venture, good managers look at data, consider profit and loss, and decide to either continue investing or end the endeavor. Managing a cattle herd is no different. In our cow-calf operation, if you can’t make babies, have babies, or fill someone’s freezer, then you are not profitable.

After losing twins and developing mastitis, I realized I could no longer afford a non-productive cow that had lost three out of four calves in six years. Even with the cattle market in steep decline, the cost to feed and maintain a non-producing cow would only cost me more money. Whether it was poor genetics or other problem, “Ms. Lynn” had reached the end of her stay here at the Cross-Dubya. If I was lucky, the cattle auction would bring at least what I paid for her six years ago.

A big, beautiful Hereford, I had high hopes for at least eight years of calves from her. An important part of herd management is maintaining its overall health, vigor, and performance. Allowing animals to linger that don’t produce strong, consistent offspring uses up valuable resources that we can apply elsewhere. Culling her was the right decision for my small herd.

I realized our brand carries with it certain expectations. Our Cross-Dubya ranch focuses on raising high-quality beef, always acting with integrity, and putting our Lord first in everything we do. Even though my mind told me that selling her as a “breaking cow” should place her at the higher end of the market, the decision still required prayer. As she dried up, I prayed.

During that time, I pondered a lot about the concept of culling. There were two predominant thoughts that kept coming to mind. The first was the great apostasy, or falling away of the church, the Apostle Paul wrote about in II Thessalonians 2:1-12. The second was the need to look deep into my own life to see what sins needed culling.

There have been warnings to repent, for the end is near for as long as I can remember. While not inclined to wear a sandwich board and stand on the street corner with a megaphone in hand, there is a place in the kingdom for those folks. I applaud them for having enough love for others and the courage of conviction to serve God in that way. I choose to use the megaphone of my words and the way I live my life as my platform to proclaim God’s gospel message. Like many today, I too believe we are living in the end times and Christ’s return is imminent. With God’s name being erased from our national fabric and so many churches embracing worldly values rather than God’s truth, it seems the great apostasy is upon us. I wondered, is this God’s way of culling His church before the rapture?

How do we withstand the falling away of the church? We stand on the truth of God’s word. Click To Tweet

However, it was that latter thought that disturbed my soul the most. What do I need to cull in my life? I think myself a good man, a Christian man, a kind man. But when I invite the Holy Spirit to reveal what He sees in me, I’m ashamed at how stained my life is by sin. Yes, I know that when God looks upon me, He does not see me but His Son. I realize His blood washed my sins clean at my salvation in 1975, but I’ve trekked a lot of this world since then—and it shows.

How many of you have ever turned out the lights and looked at your bathroom using a black light? Can I just say it? YUCK! If we are sincere in our desire to see what sins need to be shown in our lives, the words of Psalm 139:23-24 will do the trick when honestly prayed.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.”

(Psalm 139:23-24, NKJV)

Inviting God to help you see what needs culling in your life can be both difficult and rewarding. Click To Tweet

In praying this prayer, I started an arduous journey. Asking God to show you where there’s more world than word can be disheartening, but it can also lead you to a closer relationship with God. In discovering that my righteous anger was self-righteous anger in disguise, it caused me to rethink how I view the world around me. Recognizing how my sometimes lack of patience isn’t because I’m overwhelmed with everything going on in my life, but because I’m selfish and self-important hurt.

As my pastor shared, “When convicted of sin in your life, there’s only one thing you can do. Nail it to the cross!” By doing so, we admit we can’t live a sin-free life without God’s help and God’s power. Yet, in His strength, we can do all things (Philippians 4:13). Sometimes culling the sins in our lives is a long, laborious process. But the rewards my friends, they far outweigh the loss.

I pray this week that you invite God to show you what needs culling in your life so you can become a more productive member of God’s holy herd.

God’s blessings,

Please join me each Thursday evening at 9:30 Eastern as host Coach Mark Prasek and I take a trip Around the Cross-Dubya on PJNET TV. We discuss this week’s blog post, offer insight about the lessons learned, and enjoy the fellowship of friends in the live chat room.

64 thoughts on “Culling the Herd”

  1. I have to admit. I had no idea what the term “culling” meant until this morning 🙂 Ms. Lynn served a greater purpose in all our lives as she brought the reminder to examine ourselves, and on a daily basis, before the Lord. Blessings!

    1. Indeed she did Ms. Joanne. Something I’ve come to love about living here at the Cross-Dubya is how God led us to His classroom. It seems He’s always showing me something through His natural creations. What an honor it is to be His caretaker for the many blessings in my life.

  2. I like the sense of urgency you place on repentance. It surely brings one closer to God. And I’m always quoting II Chron 7:14. It demands culling of our sins before God can and will heal our land. As a Christian community in the US, it’s becoming urgent before God’s patience runs out. I don’t want to see that day.

    1. I don’t know if His patience will ever run out my friend, but I know He (and He alone) knows the day when it does. My fervent prayer is that He gives me the strength I need to endure to the end; and the courage and faith to grow closer to Him with each day. Thank you so much my friend. As the day grows closer, I’m honored to know that I am standing in the gap with men and women of faith and conviction sir.

  3. Great blog today JD.
    I kept hearing the words of Luke 13:3, “unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish.”
    There should be some repentance (culling) going on in the believers life every day!
    Take off the old man and put on the new!
    God bless you, brother!

    1. Amen Pastor Raymond! Saved doesn’t mean we’re sinless; and we need to make sure we don’t let the sun go down on our sins without confession and repentance my friend. Love you Rev. REV; and praying you continue to heal and get better.

  4. Culling out our sins . . .
    Such a timely and urgent call to all of us to reflect and repent, J. D. This world does creep around and seep into our souls if we aren’t mindful. We so need to pray for the Lord’s guidance and forgiveness when we neglect His Word.

  5. Sorry about Miss Lynn, but it’s understandable for good business. I’m always culling around the house and yard, but rarely is it such an intimate decision. It’s easier to separate and get rid of old clothes, outdated spices, unusable items, and weeds. And repentance is a gospel message according to both cousin John and Jesus, (Matt.3:2 and 4:17) because the Kingdom is at hand. All this fits so well with where we are on the Jewish calendar for the fall festivals. They point to many layers of meaning in the spiritual life & God’s timetable. Timely words, J.D.

    1. Thank you Ms. Dottie. It certainly does fit well ma’am. Honestly, I never considered that until I read your comment. What an amazing God ma’am! 🙂 Have a blessed day, week, and life my sweet friend.

  6. I hate the culling process too, J.D., it was easier for Mike because he looked at the money we had invested and what we were getting as a result. But, me, I would have kept every animal…
    Repentance is an underused word in our culture. But, repentance is a gift. You are so right about the culling that needs to take place in all our lives. Your words spoke to me today! Thank you.

    1. I hear ya Ms. Stephanie. I view myself as God’s caretaker around here, and the crops and animals belong to Him and He’s entrusting their care to me. Like you, I’d love to hang onto everyone and let them die of old age, but then I would rob them of fulfilling the destiny God made them for. I think that’s why it’s so important to pray over each decision like that. Honestly, some are automatic decisions like “No line-breeding” or “Steers are meant to sell.” Others are more difficult to make because we want to know what we’re doing is in God’s will. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post ma’am. Thank you for your kind words.

  7. Another powerful analogy and I learned about culling! The words of Psalm 25-pleas to show, teach, lead, guide…have been prayers for me- sometimes for direction and other times conviction. Thanks for adding to my day with your blog.

  8. I even think about the culling of things that are not necessary sins but just not beneficial and actually get in the way of living well. Thanks for writing. You make some great points.

    1. I can sure understand and appreciate these thoughts Ms. Patty. My obsessive compulsiveness isn’t necessarily a sin, but it sure can trigger them when I can’t let go of something. Better to cull these things out than to let them become rooted deep in our souls. Good insights my oft-traveling friend. Thank you!

  9. Ouch! Your commentary on patience stemming from self-importance really stung me this morning, J.D. Overall, patience is my virtue, but there have been times lately in caregiving that I am constantly being annoyed by something. I am thankful for the Holy Spirit, however, who prompts me to call out to the LORD, “Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit, . . . ” Psalm 51:10 Cull away Father, my sin and in the body of Christ that we may be prepared to be your Bride on that Day. Thank you, JD always great insight.

    1. I pray it was the Holy Spirit and not me Ms. Kathy, as I would never mean to step on anyone’s toes my friend. I sure know what you mean about how caregiving can cause our patience to “wear mighty thin” sometimes. When my Dad was living with us here in Texas, I was certain he was tromping all over my last nerve at least a dozen times each day. And I’m just as certain he felt I was doing the same to him. While we both knew we loved one another, we also realized how alike we were and that “switching roles” was a most difficult transition. It wasn’t until my wife and I adopted to mantra of “It’s What Love Does… ” (the title of a devotional for caregivers of aging parents I’m working on getting published) that we found a way to just let love guide our actions. Will be praying for your peace ma’am. I know it’s hard to get, but do try and find some time to get away for yourself and just spend a little private “God time” a few times each day. He brought me back from the ledge many times. God’s blessings ma’am.

  10. As always, I can trust what you write and say to be truth. Thank you, my good friend, for reminding me of the necessity of culling even the good to replace with the best.

    1. Thank you Mr. Roger. I’m ever-grateful that God’s word is truth; and I pray daily that He guide me to skillfully discern and apply His word/His truth in my life. In a bit, I’ll be preparing for tonight’s AWANA meeting at our church. Oh, how I love pouring into these young people and seeing the joy on their faces and in their hearts when they’ve mastered a memory verse. As you probably know, AWANA is a acronym, meaning Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed (taken from 2 Timothy 2:15). So grateful that men like you have taken the time to help so many hide God’s word in our hearts through Gideon’s International sir. Thank you for your lifetime of service to God’s kingdom.

  11. After reading your blog, I am sure there are things in my life that need to be culled. Praying that God will show me those things and I will have courage and strength to let them go.

    1. I’m the one praying right beside you for the same thing Ms. Edwina. God never promises that growing in our faith was going to be easy (although I try to remind Him that He told us His yoke was light), but it is oh so worth it my friend. I remind myself that while we will all struggle with our human spirit for now, there is coming a time when our glorification will complete our journey. Oh, for that day.

    1. I think we all do Ms. Ann. Luke 12:48 assures me that the more I grow, the more God will want me to grow. Sanctification (becoming like Christ) is a never-ending journey in a Christian’s human life. I think that’s what makes it such a grand adventure. 😀 God’s blessings gentle friend.

  12. I pray everything worked out with the cow situation.

    We really do need to spend time reflecting on the sun in our lives. I know I tend to think I am not such a bad person. But, all have sinned and fall short. I need to cull something’s so that I can be a productive member of God’s holy herd (love it). Thanks for the encouragement and reminder. God bless.

    1. Amen Ms. Yvonne. While we can all look at parts of our life and think we’re doing pretty well, I think deep down inside we know we can do better. I’m so grateful the Holy Spirit is there to point out those areas I need to work on and encourages me to reach for that goal. As for Ms. Lynn. She was most certainly graded as a breaking cow (a mature cow >42mos with a BCS>7) and brought the upper end of the bidding range at $0.65 per lb. I was grateful to get just a little more than I paid for her when I bought her as a yearling heifer. So while I lost money in the end, I stopped losing money on her. It was the right decision. Although, still fuming a little over the fact that I got $0.65/lb. for a solid cow while the average cost of hamburger nationwide is $5.72/lb. Not sure if y’all say this up in OKC, but here in Cooper we exclaim loudly, “That ain’t right!” 🙂 In all fairness though, when you consider the $0.65 is live weight, by the time you look at the amount of actual beef the buyer can sell, it comes out closer to $1.70/lb. Still a big difference though. Makes me think I’m in the wrong end of the business, but then again, there’s nothing better than milling about a pasture full of cows. 🙂

  13. Sometimes culling the sin in our life is just as hard as saying goodbye to Ms. Lynn. Because although we hate to admit it, we sometimes love our sin and want to hold on to it… no matter how much damage it’s causing to the bottom line.

    1. It absolutely is Pastor Joshua. Satan makes sin so fun (in the moment) that we don’t want to let go. It’s when we realize God has something better waiting for us that we find it easier to surrender to Him. I can’t tell you that my yelling at a news report or abortion provider who smugly proclaims human rights is fun, but I do lie to myself by saying it makes me feel better. In reality, it merely feeds the beast. I think it was Winston Churchill who once said “Appeasement is feeding the crocodile in hopes he will eat you last.” (paraphrased). Every time I justify my self-righteous indignation, Satan smiles a satisfied smile, knowing he’s got us right where he wants us. All stirred up and in a lather. Great points my friend.

    1. When I think of my sweet friend “Mimi”, I can’t imagine what those things might be. But, then again, as Genesis 16:13 reminds us, He is El Roi (the God who sees). The wonderful part of this Christian life is realizing that each of us are “Works in Progress” and there are many chapters yet to be written in our lives. Thank you so much for reminding me that I’m not alone in this struggle to grow closer to God by becoming more like His Son with each day. One of my favorite songs to listen to when driving alone isn’t a popular worship song or a time-honored classical hymn; it’s a song by the son of a former rodeo star turned singer named Chris LeDoux. The song, sung by his son Ned, is entitled “Just A Little Bit Better”. Its chorus includes, “I want to be just a little bit better each and every day.” Praying God helps you reach the goals He has for your life Ms. Melissa, because I’m sure you are destined for great things in His kingdom work ma’am.

  14. As a former produce farmer, I’m definitely familiar with “culling.” I confess I’ve used the term disparagingly against others, usually in jest (but I recognize the unkindness of that). I’ve also identified myself, more than once, as a cull. I’m so thankful that God gives us a chance to turn around, repent from our sins and do better, so that we don’t get culled out of the human race. Your point is well taken, sir. While we are fortunate not to get culled, we do need to recognize that many of our actions and behaviors need to be culled. Thank you for the challenge to do so. Wishing you blessings on the ranch, my friend.

    1. Amen Ms. Katherine. For many years, others had convinced me that a “cull” was exactly what I was. And until God intervened, I was well on my way to proving them right. Isn’t it amazing what God’s love can do my friend? I realize more every day that I am a LONG WAY from being “like-Jesus”, but I’m certain I’m going to keep trying to get there. God’s blessings sweet friend.

  15. Another powerful analogy and message! Thanks for sharing the meaning of culling. Love the prayer and I’m sure there are times and parts of my life that have more world than Word in them!

  16. I know it is the reason the cattle are bred but it must be difficult to cull one of them. I’m sure God doesn’t like having to cull one of us but that is the price of sin and apostasy. You made a great comparison and that helps us see what sin can do to us. Thank you, J.D. for sharing such insightful observations.

    1. Thank you so much Ms. Barbara. What a great point you bring up in your comments ma’am. As I considered them, I reminded myself that our cattle are not pets. As much as we love and care for them, wanting them to be “happy”, well cared for, and content, they are on this earth for a specific reason. Food. Sometimes, we want to put apply human emotions and terms to them that simply don’t fit. Perhaps it’s because it makes it easier to relate to them. I think we can also make pets out of our sins. But like cattle, if you become too familiar and too comfortable with them, that’s when you get hurt. But unlike cattle, sin’s hurt is always intentional. Thank you so much for adding to our conversation ma’am.

  17. Reflective post most definitely! And as another posted, I too had no idea what the word culling meant until I looked it up. It is a daily reminder for us to not to become comfortable in our sin, and to rid ourselves of the ties that bind us.

    1. Thank you Ms. Cindy. While the word “cull” often has negative connotations, I remind folks that it brings positive results. One example I’ve used in the past is someone with cancer in their leg. While amputating a leg is not a good thing, keeping the cancer from spreading to the rest of the body is. In the same way, if we enable sins to remain in/upon our souls, then the longer it’s there the more likely it will spread also. Your words demonstrate both a great understanding and a godly desire to grow in your faith ma’am. I pray many more join you in that effort.

  18. Hi! Culling is also a library term – During school accreditation studies, we made sure to cull books past a certain age and condition from our library shelves. When we didn’t take care of this task routinely, it was an arduous task to accomplish.

    The same is true of sin! Thanks for this enlightenment. JD.

    1. It sure is Ms. Candyce. I spent one summer working a CETA job at school, helping the librarian do exactly that. I just knew you understood the purpose of a taxonomy and were friends with Mr. Dewey. 🙂 You are so right ma’am; if you don’t stay on top of things they can quickly become “out of control.” Great comments Ms. Candyce. Thank you ma’am.

  19. Although not farm or agriculture related, I thought about the times I’ve gone through clothes in the closet or things in storage areas. Things accumulate gradually – they creep up on us. When we go through them, we are surprised at how much we have that needs to go! Yet at the same time, we tend to hang on to stuff that we know should go. An empty box in storage – but it’s such a nice box! Silly isn’t it? But the relief when we cull out the old clothes and stuff in storage. It makes room to keep what’s left organized and accessible. Yep – the sin that creeps into our lives that seems so hard to cull out – it’s good when rid ourselves of it

    1. Exactly sir. Culling is a process that can apply to many things in our life. I too am so glad God gave this concept. I’m sure you know this already, but the word culling not only means to dispose of or cut off, but it can also mean the gathering of good things. For example, culling Ms. Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s vast work of poetry can yield some amazingly wonderful prose. Also, our friend Mrs. Stephanie Pavlantos recently won writing awards for the culling job she did in finding gems in her Bible study, “The Jewels of Hebrews.” 🙂 Great observations sir.

  20. To consider that even a man as kind and compassionate and unselfish and industrious and Christ-centered in his interactions with others … there’s still culling to do! Yet, even if we were darn near perfect, that black light would still bear evidence of sin. (Yes, I’ve done the foolish thing and viewed my reflection in the dark with a black light. Never again! LOL) Let’s continue to labor through the darkness of a fallen world exalting Jesus and in God’s strength until the end does, indeed, arrive, my friend.

    1. Boy! I sure hope I get to meet that guy one day Ms. Mary. And yes ma’am; let us continue forging our path to glorification. I’m ever-grateful that I’m able to travel down this path with so many wonderful, godly friends like you ma’am. God’s blessings.

    1. It’s hard for me to imagine Ms. Debbie, but then I remind myself of how often I need to undergo that same culling of sin and sinful thoughts from my life my friend. Thank you so much for having the courage to admit what all of us here recognize; God uses the words of His servants to serve His purposes. I’m so honored to be able to stand beside folks like you and others as we pray, “God we give You the gifts You have bestowed on us. Let them be used for Your glory Abba.” Thank you sweet friend; I am always blessed by your encouragement, honesty, support, and prayer.

  21. Thanks for another great lesson, brother J.D. Like many others, I just learned what culling means. As John 15:1-2 states, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in my that does not bear fruit, He takes away, and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” This goes along with culling out sin in our lives so we can be fruitful as Christians. Repentance is key for us as individuals and is the catalyst for revival, which we sorely need. The fire starts with each of us! May we burn brightly with the pure light of Christ in our lives. Thanks for the encouragement today, J.D.

    1. Yes! Thank you dear sister! That is yet another perfect example of how God culls our lives. It’s not always easy to “trim/cut away”, but the result is that we’re more fruitful. A great analogy; and I love how you support it with God’s word. Thank you for the blessing my friend. God’s blessings.

  22. Obviously, I’m way late getting to this one, J.D. , and I hate being, as my grandpa used to call me, “the cow’s tail” (i.e.–last thing through the gate). I’m once again impressed by God’s leadership in your life, and your willingness to follow it. “Culling” the sin out of our lives is the only way to keep either ourselves or the Church clean and healthy, which is mandatory for being productive and powerful at the level He created and called us to be. Dirty and weak is a recipe for disaster on all fronts. Thank you again, and please forgive me for being late–your post got thrown into my “promotions” email category (which I almost never look at) and I forgot what day it was.

    1. Thank you for your faithfulness my friend. You are “blood bought and glory bound” my friend; you NEVER have to apologize to me sir. I’m ever-grateful that you and so many others take the time to read what God is teaching me. Preshate y’all Brother! 🙂 “Cow’s tail”; ain’t heard that one in a long time.

  23. I was always saddened that one of God’s creatures might be unfit to be part of the herd but this is such a wonderful example to us, friend.

    My sinful nature shown through this week and reminded me of how much I need His grace and forgiveness. Like everyone else, I need to be “culled” in order to be made ready for return.

    Thank you for another wonderful lesson from the ranch!

    Peace and grace,

    1. Oh, how I join you in the need to prepare for the coming wedding my friend. While I know we can’t be fully prepared, we can be fully cleansed each day. I pray He culls me as He sees the need each day. God’s blessings; and thank you as always for your comments Ms. Tammy.

  24. That’s so sad about Ms Lynn, and it must have been super hard to make that decision considering the high hopes you had for her. Your spiritual insight from this about the need to discover and cull our sins was spot on! Thank you for your wisdom from God’s word and the Cross Dubya!

    1. Thank you Ms. Kathy. We always wonder what we could have done differently or better, but I’m learning that much of the time when I find myself dwelling in the past, that it was not planted by God. He always wants us looking forward; hand firmly upon the plow. God’s blessings sweet lady. Your comments always fill me with joy.

  25. My tender heart could never make it as a rancher. I had only read two paragraphs and found myself tearing up! I had to take a different perspective than the culling. My thoughts floated towards the one calf that Ms. Lynn provided. Let’s not forget that small contribution. Even the least of these matters. Culling is hard and my compassion may cloud obvious decisions. Good thing God gives us all different gifts. The Cross Dubya is a living example of God’s gifts of creation, responsibility, and blessings coming together.

    1. It is your compassion for all of God’s creation that makes you such an endearing person Ms. Karen. I can’t imagine you being any other way my friend. I don’t enjoy culling the herd, but I have come to look at is as cutting out a cancerous tumor. If I left it there, then it could spread to other parts of the body and cost my life. I’m sure you can appreciate that analogy ma’am. Of course, there’s the parable of the vine, branches, and Vinedresser also. Thank you so much for commenting while away on your “Western Swing” getaway. I have enjoyed your photo-filled posts so much these past couple of weeks; and I can’t wait to read the posts on the many lessons God showed you and Mr. Parky on your adventures.

  26. Another great post, J.D. I remember a young cow we had when we farmed with Kenn’s parents. She didn’t give birth and needed to be culled. My father-in-law had named her, LuAnn. I was thankful they kept me in the family, and I wasn’t sent off with my namesake!

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