What’s on the Inside?

A half-inch thick coating of ice encased each strand of fence wire. Ice covered the gates and their chains required a hammer to break them loose. The older north fence, stretched by age, drooped, and strained against the fence stays. Weighed down by the ice, I wondered what would happen first. Would the fence wire or clips break or would the ice melt? A freezing rain affects everything and everyone at the Cross-Dubya.

Looking at my herd, I saw a thick layer of ice and frost on their backs, reminding me of an important lesson. When heavy frost or ice covers everything, it’s a great time to assess your cattle’s overall health. That same principle can apply to gauging our spiritual health.

During my first winter with cattle, I learned not to worry if they have frost or ice on their backs that doesn’t seem to melt. Cattle are most comfy when the outside temperature gets around forty degrees. While we’re reaching for jackets, hats, and gloves at 40⁰F, ruminant animals are just getting comfortable. There are two reasons for their comfort in cold temperatures. The first is they have a very thick hide/carcass; covered by a thick layer of winter hair. This keeps them well-insulated, which explains why the ice or frost on their back doesn’t affect them. The cold can’t penetrate their hide.

The second reason is the heat generated by their rumination maintains their internal temperature. That’s why they’ll have ice on their back, but not their sides or stomachs. I learned this is a good way to gauge a cow’s overall health in the winter. In understanding how my cattle show me their body condition and overall health when it’s cold outside, I also discovered how this principle applies to our spiritual health.

We live in a cold, dark world; and if we're in good condition on the inside, we can withstand the cold world all around us. #PreparedForCold #InsulatedByGod Share on X

If a cow has a good body condition score (BCS), their stomach’s four chambers are working properly, and they’re in good overall health, they can comfortably withstand colder temperatures. They handle temperatures approaching the teens with little difficulty when they’re prepared for it. When we expect the temperatures to drop below freezing, there are several things we do to protect our cattle.

  • Provide shelter from the wintry winds as much as possible.
  • Give them straw or hay to lie on, insulating them from the ground.
  • Feed late in the day or early evening, so they bed down for the night with a full tummy. This keeps their internal furnace stoked, so it’s working through the night.

While this works well for mature cattle, young calves (whose rumen is not fully working yet) have much more difficulty regulating body temperature. I can’t say this about every cattle herd, but my adult cows move their calves atop hay stubble and create a circle around them in the pasture. When they move into the barn on below freezing or wet periods, they do the same. Cows position their calves on hay against the interior walls and then create a barrier, or windbreak, for them with their bodies.

Watching cows care for their young reminds me of how important it is for us more mature Christians to help protect younger/newer Christians from the ravages of this world. We must come alongside and help insulate them from the hostile environment we sometimes face.

Before we can help others, we must first make sure our spiritual health is ready to weather the coming storm. We can do this by spending time in God’s Word, through confession and prayer, and enjoying the blessing of fellowship with other believers. If we are ruminating on God’s Word, storing His Scripture within our hearts, then it can protect us from the cold.

All these aspects of Christian life are important, but the act of fellowship; wherein we support, edify, encourage, and help one another is an often-overlooked aspect of spiritual growth. Proverbs 27:17 plays an important role in Christian fellowship.

As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the
countenance of his friend.
(Proverbs 27:17 NKJV)

When we fellowship with other believers, we should try and hold each other to the standards of morality and Christian behavior that Christ exhibited here on earth. Key to this is doing so with mercy, grace, and humility, as Christ taught.

I pray each day that God helps me become the Christian man, husband, and friend that others can rely upon. With His help, I can become a strong, vibrant, Christian who can withstand this cold, dark world and help others in their trials.

How well prepared are you to withstand the coming storm? #PreparedByGod #FacingTheStorms Share on X

I’ve learned that what’s on the inside is the key to what we exhibit on our outside. If we fill ourselves with godliness and His precepts, then when the storms of life arrive, that’s what comes out. We’ll handle the storm with faith, perseverance, grace, and humility. Another lesson my livestock has taught me about being a Christian is that if I’m calm, they’re calm.

The evening news inundates us with chaos, clamor, and fear mongering. We must endeavor not to react to it as the world does. If we remain calm in the storm, those around us will do the same. If our voices increase in both decibel level and speed, we cast our fear onto those around us. To combat against that, we must rely upon what’s inside us rather than what surrounds us. We must remember Who is the anchor of our soul and Who is the author of our peace.

I pray this week that we each ask the Holy Spirit to help inventory what’s inside us, and then act upon what we find.

God’s blessings,

50 thoughts on “What’s on the Inside?”

  1. Kathy Collard Miller

    JD, I never knew these fascinating details about cattle. Fun and instructive. As always, I love how you apply in practical ways about spiritual truths. In this post, that; ‘I’ve learned that what’s on the inside is the key to what we exhibit on our outside.”

    We need to ruminate on the Bible, and lay on hay to be spiritually warmed by truth.
    Eh, maybe not the best pun but I’ll remember it when I drive past the pastures and ranches in our area.

  2. I absolutely love how attuned you always are to the lessons even cows can teach us, J. D. Those were some facts I didn’t know!
    May the Holy Spirit fill us with knowledge of God’s Word and the peace that passes all understanding, that those who see us will want the joy we have in Jesus.

  3. J.D. This is very interesting and has given me another picture to help me understand truth about God and about myself. I especially loved learning about how the cows surround and protect the young’uns. We have a responsibility to one another in this family of God. Thanks!

    1. Yes ma’am, we absolutely do. And part of that protection is showing them how to live as a Christian and how to humble ourselves before the Lord and admit when we’ve wronged.

  4. As always-informative and fascinating. My personal attention to care and order spoke to me and the importance of my internal temperature to withstand life’s storms – all under the blanket of my Father’s love .

  5. So much to ponder here, my friend. One of the things in particular that spoke to me was that it was not just providing the food that was important, but when that food was delivered. What that said to me was that I don’t always know when the devil is going to hurl a major blast of freezing rain my way in an effort to throw me into spiritual hypothermia, but my Father always knows what’s coming. That means when I sense that a plate full of nourishing truth has been put in front of me, I need to stop long enough to ingest it. I might not know just how or where it will come into play to protect me, but it will cover me like a blanket when it’s needed.

    And that wonderful natural picture of God’s creatures being willing to sacrifice their own comfort and safety to protect those who were younger and more frail was powerful. It’s way too easy for us to forget that the younger ones (spiritually, not just chronologically) are depending on us in ways they may not even be conscious of. We can’t just sit by and hope they find some good teaching on YouTube. I’m convicted to look more carefully at my life and ask whether I’m positioning myself in a way that is most protective for those who may not know how vulnerable they are.

    Thanks once again, J.D., and our prayers attend your efforts to make your Cross-Dubya dependants and all the rest of us all better prepared for the storms that are coming our way.

    1. Amen sir! We have a sacred duty to help those coming up behind us, don’t we? I’m so blessed and honored to be standing on that line beside you sir, as we endeavor to share the lessons of our journey in faith with those coming in our footsteps. I pray I blaze a trail that is always leading to God.

  6. This takes me back to the years we had beef cattle. As a child, I always worried about them until my big brother explained to me they weren’t feeling the cold. You offered much more detail and I enjoyed the lesson about the cow anatomy. This sentence of your message really stood out to me: “I’ve learned that what’s on the inside is the key to what we exhibit on our outside.” You are so wise my friend and I agree whole-heartedly with your statement. If we are kind, compassionate, and looking for the best in others, our love, tolerance, patience, and goodness (borrowing from The Fruit of the Spirit here) will shine forth from us like the Light of Jesus we carry in our hearts. If we fill our hearts and minds with God’s word, spend time with Him each day in prayer and meditation, and fellowship with believers who also seek to spread kindness and good ness as they share the Good News of Jesus Christ, then we will be His servant in this dark, cold world, sharing Fruit as we are called to do. Thank you for this uplifting message.

  7. I didn’t know these things about cows. That’s so neat that they know to protect their young ones from the cold. And what an apt analogy that what’s inside us helps us bear up to what’s outside us.

  8. I always enjoy learning about the animals on your farm. I didn’t know about how they journey through the cold temperatures. Wow! I pray that my inside thoughts are reflected through my actions. I pray I will show God’s love and compassion to all. Have a blessed week! 🙂

  9. I really enjoyed this post and learning about how the internal health protects from external element and how the mature cows protect the vulnerable. Excellent illustration and inspiration.

  10. Thanks dear friend for another interesting lesson on cattle. I’d heard the ice and snow on their backs didn’t hurt them but I didn’t know why.
    I appreciate your explanation and here’s just another reminder of our amazing Creator.
    You said, “We must remember Who is the anchor of our soul and Who is the author of our peace.” Indeed, when the news comes on, this is vital in order to have consistent joy and peace which is available to us, in Christ.
    I join you in your prayer, “this week that we each ask the Holy Spirit to help inventory what’s inside us, and then act upon what we find.”
    In Jesus’ name, amen.
    God bless you and carry you and yours safely through this winter.

  11. Fascinating info about cattle here, J.D., and I love how you connect it to our spiritual lives and our responsibilities as “mature” Christians. Enjoy the warmer temps! We welcomed them to north Georgia this week, albeit along with rain.

  12. I still have my chart with images that shows the Body Condition Score (BCS) categories. I was just thinking it would be interesting to have a SCS, Spiritual Condition Score to see how well prepared any individual is to weather the storms of life. We should flock to those with too low or too high of a SCS to help them get into spiritual shape.

    1. Yessir. Perhaps we do in a way Mr. Ben, the fruit of the Spirit. If we don’t exhibit more fruit than the previous year, then perhaps we need to ask God to do some trimming. 🙂

  13. What an amazing analogy. I did not know this about cows and now I will remember your words when I see cows out in the cold. Thank you for this encouraging message.

  14. I’m so relieved to know that ice on a cow’s back won’t affect them. I used to live north of Fort Worth where cow pastures surrounded me. I got attached to one sweet cow who was all alone in her pasture, and I enjoyed checking on her as I drove past to and from work everyday. That winter it snowed up a big storm, and my cow (I named Cowsie) was covered with white and had no shelter from the freezing winds. I worried about her and probably should’ve reported it because I never thought she was properly cared for.
    I said all that to underscore your point that if we’re spiritually fit, the storms of life won’t take us down. The Holy Spirit insulates us from the howling winds and shields us from fear. Thanks for another great lesson from the ranch. Blessings, brother JD.

    1. Amen! I too see lots of livestock that are not properly cared for and it always makes me wonder about the spiritual condition of their caregivers. If it was right, then the livestock would not be in the condition they’re in.

  15. J.D., this is such a beautiful picture you painted of calves being cared for when outside conditions threaten their well-being. It is true of us. Not only how the Lord cares for us and watches over us, but how we are to build each other up in the body of Christ. Iron really does sharpen iron. But if my own cup is empty because I’ve neglected my spiritual growth, I have nothing to give others. The overflow of the Lord and the Holy Spirit pouring into me spills over onto others I disciple, mentor, work with or come in contact with. Thank you for another great message.

    1. What truth proclaimed by your words Ms. Karen. If we’re spiritually empty, then we have nothing to offer others (friends, family, fellow Believers). Great point made ma’am. Thank you for sharing.

  16. Excellent observation of your cattle and their God-given ability to withstand the cold, contrasted with the youngins who need time to mature. We do have the responsibility to keep ourselves spiritually fit for winter seasons of life and demonstrate what dependence on the Lord looks like for the spiritually young in our “herd”. Thanks for this perspective, JD!

  17. I have to admit I thought about your cattle and chickens more than once through that spell of frigid temps. I wondered what you did for them. Interesting how the good Lord gave them intuition. I’m such a wuss, the chill of wind and cold brings a mixed emotion of anger (that it is unbearable for man or beast) and guilt (that I am angry since I know God knows what He is doing!) It hastens me to warmth after a more than brisk dog walk, a place where it is comfortable, trustworthy, and reassuring. I never think of God in relation to cold. It is always associated with warmth. I wonder why. 😉 Thanks for another great lesson from the CrossDubya applicable to our spiritual personna.

    1. Often, when I return from feeding or other morning chores, I find myself standing in front of the fireplace to “knock the chill off.” It can get right down into my bones it seems, and standing there as the warmth envelops me always makes me think of climbing onto God’s lap. There, I spiritually feel the warmth of His embrace. I lean into His chest and feel His heart beating. I am warmed by His love for His child. I pray you find warmth there also precious friend.

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