The Rhythm of Ranching

For most of us, there’s a predictable rhythm to life. We rise each morning, brew then consume copious amounts of coffee or other beverage, and spend some time in study, prayer, and devotion. Some time after that, we prepare breakfast, spend a few moments with our loved ones, and then dash off to work. There, you toil for eight-to-ten hours and return home often exasperated and exhausted from the day. The evening meal, a few chores, a few hours of television, and then slumber.

If a rancher’s life is anything, it is unpredictable. Example? It’s 1:30 in the morning and this rancher is sitting at his desk after a night check on new calves (letting the lights tell the coyotes they’re not alone). On my desk, there’s three unused 20-gauge syringes, a bottle of Vitamin B Complex, and two tubes of Nursemate ASAP next to my Bible. Looking at my phone’s browser history, you find a visit to the Merck website, a link to Peach Teat™ nipples for nursing calves, and Tractor Supply.

Looking forward to the day ahead, it’s checking the weather app 42 times to see when the rain stops, expected totals, and planning inside work we can accomplish. Beyond that, we surrender our day to God. How our day plays out is known to Him alone, but it could include fencing, plowing, fallen limb removal, feeding, and more newborn calves. What we do know is that whatever the day brings, we need God to be a part of it. Whether calves live or die, whether the grass and clover emerge or not, and whether it’s an easy day or another long one, we rely on God seeing us through.

What I’ve learned in the past decade is that the Rhythm of Ranching is best described as dynamic. On any given day, a rancher can move from a frantic, fast-paced medical emergency to leaning on a gate and watching the sun setting over fields and pastures. As much as we plan and attempt to control events and things around us, ranchers recognize that we are most decidedly not in control of much. At best, I can control myself and how I handle the constant changes and challenges throughout my day. I don’t always do a good job of that but have learned that I must rely on God to help me through my weakness.

The Rhythm of Ranching is best handled through a close relationship with God. #CrossDubya #RhythmOfRanching #RelianceOnGod #Faith Share on X

As the ECG strips in the photo above demonstrate (and yes, they’re both from my heart), our rhythm can change in seconds. The top strip shows a normal rhythm and pace. Much like my heart, my life goes along on an even, steady pace. Some days are measured, uneventful, and easy-to-navigate. Other days can start that way and then suddenly thrust you into a frenzied state of out-of-control racing and pounding. As the lower strip shows, atrial fibrillation (Afib) consists of lots of extra heartbeats, or heart flutters, in between your normal rhythm. Fortunately, medications help control my Afib, minimizing its frequency and severity.

Thinking about this, I wondered, if my physical heartrate can go from 64 bpm to 200 bpm, racing out of control, can my spiritual heart get out of sync too? In my life, that answer is a firm YES. More often than I’d like to admit, I can let all the emergencies, external demands on my time, and unplanned events in the day overwhelm me. Is it that I’m selfish or self-absorbed and “want what I want” or is it a natural human response to the extreme conditions my life is often subjected to? Whatever it is, when it happens, it can get messy.

I’ve long known that I have a grenade personality. What’s that you say? I’ve never seen it on a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator report either, but it’s the best way to describe me. I go along pretty peaceful and inert most of the time, but let circumstances pull my pin and release my spoon and anything/anyone around me will feel the blast.

Understanding this about myself, and maybe some of you may have your own grenade moments, what’s the solution? How can we limit the explosions of emotion in our lives? There’s two verses I lean upon, but the most powerful solution I know is asking the Holy Spirit to walk with me throughout the day. I ask Him each day to help me keep His peace at the forefront of my life. Those two verses are:

  • Romans 8:6 (NJKV), “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”
  • James 1:19-20 (ESV), “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

There are many other verses I can cite, but I’ve hidden these two in my heart to remind me to do my best to be the man God expects me to be. Romans 8:6 reminds me that while I may seek to be righteous in the eyes of the Lord, I am still human and therefore still possess a carnal human spirit. This human spirit is constantly warring against the Holy Spirit that has indwelled me. I recognize that when I indulge my humanness and spew venomous words or slam things in disgust, I turn away from God and the spiritual gift of self-control He has given me.

Preferring the ESV for James 1:19-20, as it uses the word “anger”, which best describes the emotion that most overwhelms me, I’m reminded that my anger does not honor God. I’ve learned that while in this flawed human form, I can’t stop anger and frustration from happening; they are natural emotions that are part of the human condition. What I can do is better learn to control them. The most important ingredient in that is the Holy Spirit. He gives the spiritual gift of self-control and can help us yield it to produce a righteous response to our human emotions.

Self-control enables us to respond to a situation rather than reacting to it. Second Timothy 1:17 (ESV) says it all for me; “…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” As Paul was writing to his young protégé, I believe he did so from both experience and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. If anyone could have learned to control his anger and outrage at the things occurring in his life, the Apostle Paul would have to be the role model. Paul was saying, “If you allow the Holy Spirit control over your life, you can use His gift of self-control to live a more God-honoring life.”

Exercising self-control allows you to better demonstrate the other fruits of the Spirit in your life. The key is that you can’t always do it on your own. It is in allowing the Holy Spirit that control that the power needed to overcome the flesh is found.

It is allowing the Holy Spirit control over your life that you can find the power needed to overcome the flesh. #SpiritualPower #SelfControl #Peace Share on X

When I do this, the other fruits of the Spirit I’ve been blessed with can flow more freely. I’m constantly amazed to see how each spiritual gift supports the others. If like me, and you sometimes struggle with letting your human emotions get the better of you, remember to call upon and remain close to the power of God dwelling within you. Whatever rhythm of life you find yourself in, remember that Christ called Him our Helper for a reason. Call upon Him in your moment of need and ask His help with whatever situation you are facing.

God’s blessings,


Please join me this 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.

54 thoughts on “The Rhythm of Ranching”

  1. Our Lord Jesus showed a little anger when he drove the money changers out of the temple. I see this, don’t be too hard on yourself for showing a little anger you always come back to self control.

    1. He did indeed sir. My prayer is not that I don’t get angry, but that I control my emotions better and learn to enable righteous anger rather than raw, human, carnal emotions.

    1. Amen Ms. Nancy. Sometimes it seems my fuze is far too short, but I’m reminded that the best way to lengthen our fuse is to never light it! With the Holy Spirit’s help, I’m learning that lesson, albeit slowly some days. 🙂

  2. Kathy Collard Miller

    J.D., over 40 years ago my grenade strategy of anger fed intense anger which I took out on my husband and child. I had no hope of becoming the patient person God wanted me to be. God did the miraculous and gave me the tools and heart change to become a grateful wife and a patient mom. My book, “No More Anger: Hope for an Out of Control Mom” tells my story. I can still be tempted (as my besetting sin) to see anger as the solution for the things that bother me. I personally don’t like to call it my personality, but I do recognize it as a self-protective sinful strategy. Enough said…just wanted you to know I relate. And thank you for sharing about a sensitive subject.

    1. Yes ma’am. Have enjoyed. I think we are all tempted and will be as long as sin remains in this world and even a tiny sliver of our human nature is intact (I suspect it will remain there until our glorification). Isn’t it strange how some of us seem to lash out in anger more easily, and sometimes with more ferocity (not physical as much as emotional) at our family members? Have wondered if it’s because the closer relationship we hold with them is somehow correlated to the intensity of our emotionally fueled anger?

  3. Grenade you say? How did you know? It’s a perfect description of what my personality tests can’t figure out. Thank you. I do also know the power of God’s Word to change the fabric of my being. Now to consistently allow His Spirit to grant me self-control when I need it, means giving up control, and that is the clincher.

    1. Amen Ms. Sylvia. That is the challenge for every Christian, isn’t it? To allow God’s sanctification process to have its way in our lives. Well said ma’am. Thank you!

  4. Like you, J.D., there are times when anger has gotten the better of me and I’ve spurted out words that have no business being said aloud (or even thought). But thankfully for both of us, God has answered our cry to do better. He helps us control our language and actions, and even our thoughts. I continue to pray for His intervention while I remind myself–we cannot control what happens to us, but we can control our reactions. Blessings, my friend.

  5. I didn’t know you have afib. I do, too.

    I can get extremely frustrated when the unexpected comes up or things don’t go according to plan. I have to remind myself that even interruptions and changed plans are under His control. I need His Spirit and help to be yielded to Him and content in Him all through the day.

  6. Yvonne Morgan

    I like your description of grenadine response and it fits me too. And I’m working on it but I still fail. My husband is quick to point out my failings in this area too. I need to be able to offer more grace. Thanks for the great reminder

    1. As I’m learning, there are a great many of us with this personality type. My Ms. Diane doesn’t miss too many opportunities to do the same, but as is the case with your husband I suspect, they’re also the one who prays the most for God’s help in overcoming our challenges.

  7. I too often allow my base human feelings to rise to the surface, J. D., neglecting the power I know the Holy Spirit can and will give me. Thanks for reorienting us all here, to call on the Spirit first and foremost, keeping His presence right before us.
    Blessings, my friend!

    1. Amen Ms. Martha. Am coming to understand that as long as our human bodies are maintained, so then is our human spirit. It is in the discipline of self-control that I find myself growing more spiritually.

  8. “Beyond that, we surrender our day to God.” Oh how I need to get better at that. I over plan, and that often leaves me frazzled when My day doesn’t go my way. Notice I said my day. The days really aren’t mine though. If I surrendered them to God from the get-go, I would better handle those inconvenient interruptions. Which might turn out to be holy interruptions.

    Thank you for this message today. I need to hide James 1:19-20 in my heart too.

    Be well, my friend.

    1. Absolutely Ms. Candyce. I’m one of those who has to make a plan to make plans myself, so I can sure appreciate your sentiments. I wonder if sometimes God shuffles our plans to remind us that He’s in charge of our lives now and not we?

  9. I love this J.D. In my devotional/journaling time with the Lord He stressed to me that the Holy Spirit was free to light upon Jesus because He was serene and undisturbed. My goal is to be undisturbed (if I truly trust Him, I can be no matter what’s happening) so Holy Spirit will feel welcome in and on me. I want to be like a peaceful pond that reflects His grace and glory.

    1. Oh how that paints a beautiful, serene image in my mind and heart Ms. Ann; “living my life undisturbed.” I also love the thought of the Holy Spirit feeling unrestrained, un-grieved if you will, to come and sit with us, reason with us, teach and guide us at anytime, anything. God’s blessings ma’am, and thank you for that wonderful image.

  10. I’m continually amazed at how much you get done in spite of the hurdles you have to clear on a regular basis. The grenade analogy sounds way too familiar. When she reads this, my Diane is going to shout AMEN! It seems unfair that the most patient person I’ve ever known is stuck with a guy who often personifies “low frustration tolerance”. That makes your very personal exposition of a common tool the devil uses against us. The Scriptural support you shared was absolutely perfect for providing a shield of protection. We may not be able to eradicate all those things that are recurrent sources of regret, but the power of the infallible Word of God will never fail to strengthen us and lead us back to the path He has chosen for us. I also loved the insight that without self-control, we’re hamstrung when it comes to exercising the other gifts we’ve been given.
    I felt another measure of compassion for it today, by the way. I had an appointment with the eye doctor this morning about some cataract surgery and he put some drops in my eyes and I haven’t been able to see with a hoot since then. I can only imagine what it must be like to deal with the issues with your vision that you have to deal with. Today’s minor inconveniences have had me ready to pull the pin a couple of times and I’m so impressed with how you handle the vision issues you’re facing. To say the least, our prayers for healing and sustaining grace have been kicked up a notch. Thank you again, Brother. You’ve served up another inspiring visit into your life and another glimpse into the incredible genius of the living God in giving us all the resources we need to do what He calls us to do.

    1. 😀 “Low Frustration Tolerance!” Another Ron-ism I’m borrowing my friend. And yes, somehow I think we married sisters. Praying all goes well with your upcoming cataract surgery. Both of my eyes were done in 2017 and it seemed “miraculous” at how much better I saw when the bandages came off. Interesting, and it seems it wasn’t just in my case, but many people report that the visual acuity difference between the first eye and the second one are miles apart, while the actual improvement is the same. I wonder sometimes if our spiritual vision isn’t the same. The joy of salvation seems “miraculous” (because it is, of course), but when blessing come five years later, we tend to view them as “ho hum, just another blessing” and not the miracle of God each one is. Praying you can keep your thumb on that spoon my friend. Another important distinction is that God made us with opposable thumbs for perhaps that very reason. He knew that we would hold lots of live grenades throughout our lives, and knew that many pins would be pulled, but that our free will determined if we let that spoon fly off and ignite the fuze or not. Great inspiration this morning sir. Thank you!

  11. I can relate to the “want what I want” mentality. As you describe the rhythms of the ranch, I feel the ups and downs, highs and lows as you traverse the property and tend the animals in your capable care. How true that our spiritual lives get swept into rhythms that aren’t always productive, in my case, self-centered. Good word on relying on the fruit of the Spirit to keep us grounded against unforeseen opposition.

    1. I think we all suffer from some amount of that malady in each of our lives Ms. Mary. The amazing thing is that Satan knows it too, and knows just how to “push our buttons” at the height of our self-centeredness so as to elicit the carnal response he desires. He then puts on his “Chief Accuser” robe and proceeds to judge us guilty of the very thing he instigated. That’s why our Holy “defense attorney” stands ready, always kept on retainer, so He can guide and help us in mounting a defense. Great thoughts ma’am. Thank you.

    1. It is frustrating for sure Ms. Tammy, but God’s Word reminds us to hold onto hope my friend. We may not be where we want to be in our journey of sanctification and spiritual growth, but praise God, we are further along today than we were yesterday, amen?

  12. I was just meditating this morning on how we all have those grenades in us that go off over one thing or another. We will constantly deal with our human nature as long as we are in this world, but continually taking it to the Lord keeps those things from mastering us. Thanks for the encouraging post.

    1. AMEN Ms. Terri. I too have come to the conclusion that while I can never be perfected in this (human) life, I can grow in my faith more each year with God’s help and allow His control over my life to increase, which could manifest itself in my having more control over my human emotions, etc. I’m not suggesting that we Christians should become “Mr. Spock” (a head nod to the Star Trek fans out there), but we should all seek to better control the emotions that we are both blessed and cursed to have. Well said my friend. Thank you and God’s blessings.

  13. You’ve expressed what is common to most of us, at least some time or other. The chemistry of anger inside our bodies can be physically deadly, especially when prolonged. Honestly, I’ve gone as long as 3 days before letting something go and calming down. There’s been a lot of prayer and work since then. Years of teaching anger management classes helped me more than anybody else, I’m sure.

    1. Ding! Ding! Ding! You hit that nail square on the head my friend. The more we allow anger and frustration to remain in our lives, the stronger it becomes. Perhaps that’s why God’s Word tells us to never let the sun set on our anger. We must learn to put it away through prayer and repentance so that it doesn’t have time to take root, sinking its roots of evil into our souls. Amen ma’am.

  14. You’ve packed a lot of meat into this post, J.D. By transparently sharing your weakness, you give guidance and hope to others who may believe they are slaves to emotions. I like your example of intentionally memorizing Scripture to combat and harness emotions that inevitably pop up. I’ve added some notes in my journal today. Thank you and God bless!

    1. Thank you for the blessing of your kindness and encouragement Ms. Annie. As a writer yourself, I know you understand the blessing received when someone finds value in something that might one day help them in their journey of faith. I can’t wait to see “Ignorance to Bliss” release soon my friend. I am certain it’s going to bless a great many!

  15. We finished our study in Galatians today. Your blog parallels very well. I love Paul’s assurance that if we walk by the Spirit we won’t carry out the desires of the flesh. He didn’t say the desires won’t be there, but that we won’t surrender to them. So thankful the Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses because my heart rate speeds up in response to challenges too.

    1. Well said Ms. Debbie. For many Christians, they never grow to the acceptance of this fact, temptation will ALWAYS be there, but God’s Word gives you the solution (Christ’s demonstration) and the ammunition (His rhema Word) to fight the good fight of faith! Amen my friend.

  16. I love writing about the fruit of the Spirit, and I’ve always said that the first fruit, love, and the last fruit, self-control, are the bookends for the other seven. They are the strongest ones that keep the others in line. And you’re right–they all support each other. Isn’t it wonderful how God has given us such perfection to help us live our Christian lives? Great post, as usual, brother JD. Blessings!

    1. Oh, I love that Ms. Karen; “Bookend Fruits” is one I’m going to carry with me for a long, long time. I’ve often commented that God’s love is the source for the other fruits of the Spirit, but as your statement highlights, without self-control (and specifically His help wielding it), we cannot possibly exercise the others to His glory. Thank you so much ma’am; God’s blessings.

  17. I always appreciate the way God complements what He wants me to know by having it appear in different places. This morning was one of those – your post and ideas surfacing elsewhere. Walking in the Spirit to His rhythm involves recentering my scattered senses as Lectio 365 says in the introduction to every meditation. Recenter and realign to the spirit’s rhythm. Thanks for reminding.

    1. I so appreciate the idea of “Divine reading”, such as that supported by Lectio 365 Ms. Marilyn. It’s when we ask God to come reason with us and help us to understand Him more that we grow in His Word the most. Learning to walk with the Spirit is an important part of growing as a Christian, isn’t it ma’am? Learning to pause, turn, or move as He directs reduces the struggle and makes our journey more fruitful. Wonderful thoughts sweet friend.

  18. J.D., what an interesting article. The way you describe the rhythm of ranching is definitely dynamic! I definitely desire for my spiritual heart to stay in sync with the Holy Spirit. This is a great line, “Self-control enables us to respond to a situation rather than reacting to it.” Amen!

    1. Thank you Ms. Karen. I wish I could report that “I’ve mastered it”, but the reality is that I expect (and pray) that I’ll continue growing more like Him with each passing day until I receive that upward call.

  19. I love hearing about the ranch and its rhythm. I also appreciate the term grenade – it totally captures the scene. We can’t control these explosion of emotions out of pure willpower but only by allowing the Holy Spirit to regain control. Your verses are a great tool.

    1. Such kindness Ms. Cathy. Am so glad you enjoy reading about my very different life. You are so right ma’am, we can’t control every “explosion of emotion” without the Holy Spirit’s help. It is in His power, that the words of Matthew 19:26 are realized; “…with God, all things are possible.” God’s blessings gentle friend.

  20. Just last week I visited an electrophysiologist about my heart rhythm. I, too, was noted to have a racing heart and a documented episode of more severe a-fib. I was immediately placed on a blood thinner and recommended to have an ablation at some point. (You might want to consider that. Simple and easy lifetime fix for most.) It’s been on my mind quite a bit. I like the thought of expanding those thoughts to a spiritual a-fib. Yep, maybe my spiritual a-fib needs an ablation to rid the abnormality “firings” it sometimes has!
    I just have one question: when do you actually have time to write? For the life of me, I wonder if you ever sleep! I want you to take good care of yourself like you do your calves.

    1. In my best “Yosemite Sam” voice, “I hates them pesky blood thinners!” 🙂 It’s always fun around those barbed wire fences and things. Ask them to consider inserting Watchman(tm) when they do the ablation my friend. I want to keep you around a while longer (at least as long as God tarries). I bet Mr. Parky does too. LOL As for time to write, we have to make it, don’t we? God’s blessings my friend, and I do pray they get a handle on your Afib soon.

  21. I’m thankful for the Holy Spirit’s work in me, and self-control is a big one. To not give in to things I want to say or react the way my sinful nature wants to act takes His strength. A great message, J.D. Thank you!

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