by Don Bryan, The Cowboy Preacher
Years ago, along the old Chisholm Trail, a young cowboy cut a long-horned steer out of the herd. “What’s your favorite brand?” a rider yelled to the young buckaroo through the noise of popping horns and bawling cattle. “Well, it could be the ‘Four Sevens’, but it’s not”, answered the cowboy. “And then again, it might be the ‘Campstool’, but it sure isn’t. I reckon my favorite brand is the ‘Vee Bar’.” And why shouldn’t the ‘Vee Bar’ be his favorite brand? For it was his father’s brand.
The years passed and the depression came. Then one day, among the hidden valleys in the mountains of Arizona, the dust flew and the rocks rang. Riders on the R O’s had roped a wild horse. “He’s not a wild horse, he’s branded”, someone yelled. “Looks like a ‘Diamond Tail’ brand”, said the wagon boss. Whose brand is the ‘Diamond Tail’?” asked the horse jingler. No one knew the answer so they threw the slack, and he kicked loose, to run again with the wild ones. More years passed and World War II came. Then one day, on Guadalcanal, two friends met after long separation. “What’s that design on your ring?” asked the soldier. “You remember when we roped that wild horse branded with the ‘Diamond Tail’?” the marine answered. “Well, Elmer, I had that ‘Diamond Tail’ put on this ring – in gold. You see, it’s my favorite brand.”
Many more years passed. A man sat at a table carving leather and making sport ties out of saddle strings. He was branding the ties with a small running iron. “What’s your favorite brand?” asked a visiting friend. “My favorite brand is the ‘Bar None’,” he answered. “And here’s the reason why. When I was a boy, my favorite brand was my father’s brand, because I thought he was the best roper in the whole wide world! But when I left home, I began to think about a brand for myself. I finally chose the ‘Diamond Tail’, because to me, it was associated with adventure and world success. However, the diamonds of the world began to lose some of their glitter as I grew older, because I became troubled with bad habits which bothered me. Some of these habits were hidden with the evil in my heart, but some were as plain as day.” The leather worker laid aside his branding iron, leaned slightly forward, and continued.” One night, in Alaska, my sweetheart, who had now been my wife for nearly seven years, knelt by her bed and trusted Christ as her personal Saviour. Her life suddenly changed. After several months, it finally dawned on me that it was real. I knew in my heart that I needed the same Saviour. So I turned from my sins and received Christ as my personal Saviour. He broke the strong habits which had enslaved me, and become an ever present help in the time of need. He did not cast me out and I learned that “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Acts 2:21. ‘Bar None’
The friend of the leather carver appeared slightly embarrassed as he listened to this very personal account, but he tried to cover up his concern as he answered “You must have been pretty bad, but of course not everyone is like that. I go to church and I treat my neighbors just like I would want them to treat me.” “That sounds pretty good,” said the leather worker, “But what about your heart? Do you know the Bible says, ‘whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer.’ I John 3:15. It also says, ‘whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart’, Matthew 5:28. Romans 3:23 says, ‘All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. ‘Do you still believe that you are innocent?” We read in I John 1:8, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” “Well,” replied the friend, “suppose I do sin, I’m still no worse than other people, and God is a God of love.” “But God is also a God of wrath, for Romans 1:18 says, ‘The wrath of God is revealed from heaven (or God) against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.’ John 3:36 says, ‘He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth (or remaineth) on him.’ Again we read in Colossians 3:6 that, ‘The wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience.’ Psalm 9:17 says, ‘The wicked shall be turned into hell’.” “But if all this is true,” interrupted his friend, “I don’t have a chance, and how could anyone possibly go to heaven?”
“Here is where I have ‘good news’ for you, ” replied the leather carver. “The Bible says that ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’, I Timothy 1:15. The Bible also says, ‘Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures,’ I Corinthians 15:3. In other words, Christ took our punishment for our sins, in our place, in order that we might escape and have eternal life. When He hung on the cross, He was suffering for our sins, in order that we might be saved.”
“Where I grew up in the ‘flint hills’ of Kansas, we would sometimes have great prairie fires. I remember the old timers talking about them. We feared those fires and we plowed the ground around our school house and other buildings in order to protect them. The fires would race across the prairie faster than a horse could run. Great flames reached high into the air, and all that was in the path would perish in the flames. The coyotes and the jackrabbits would not bother to hide themselves as they tried to escape, because of a great fear which possessed them. They were terrified by the approaching flames. If a rider was caught in the path of one of those prairie fires, it was certain death. And yet, there was a way of escape! He could climb off his horse, strike a match, and start another fire. He would soon burn off a place big enough to protect him and his horse. As the raging flames raced madly toward him he would sit there quietly, calming his horse, speaking words of confidence. The flames would part, passing by him, because a fire had already burned the place where he stood.” “This is a picture of Christ as our sacrifice. The judgment fire of God descended upon him, for He gave Himself as a sacrifice for sins. (Hebrews 10:12). If we trust Him as our Saviour, then we will escape the judgment fire of hell, because we are in the place of safety, where the fire has already burned. We will also have eternal life because the Bible says, ‘God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.’ I John 5:11 and 12.”
With these words, the leather carver calmly drew himself back, folded his arms, and gazed quietly at his friend. After several minutes the silence was broken. “I didn’t realize sin was so terrible. I didn’t know Christ suffered for me… I don’t want to be under the judgment fire of God. I want to trust Christ as my Saviour, too.” You may do so. ‘Whosoever will may come,’ – Bar None.
“My friend, don’t you want to trust Christ as your Saviour, too? Do it. Put your name on the line below and tell others that you have trusted Christ as your personal Saviour and that you are now a Bible believing Christian.” “I _______________________________________ am turning from my sins to Christ as my Saviour and Lord. I believe that He died on the cross for my sins, that He arose from the dead, and that He now lives to deliver me from the power of sin and to give me eternal life. By His grace and power I intend to live for Him who died for me.” DATE ____________________
Note from Harvey and Lois:This brand, a bar with the letters N O N, is registered in Wyoming under our name, Harvey and Lois Seidel. The brand was registered for years in the Jackson area, but whoever had it let it expire in the mid 1970’s. We have owned it since then. We know the truth of this little story listed above and it is our prayer that the Lord will use it to help you see your personal need to trust Christ as your Lord and saviour. If we can help you, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.