Winning the West Devotional

Winning the West is a weekly devotional that is written by Western Preachers geared toward Western Folk. The main contributor of this weekly devotional is Pastor Harvey Seidel, but will also include devotionals from other Preachers within the inter-mountain west. We trust these devotionals will be practical devotional thoughts that will encourage the reader and exalt Christ.

Action: A Key Factor In Any Ministry For the Lord

By: Pastor Harvey Seidel

Church planting is different from any other church ministry. It just is. Witnessing is different with each person and every community is different in its own way. The key to being effective in anything is to analyze each situation and then build on that. When Paul went to Philippi, he did some survey work and learned what the “lay of the land” was. He learned several things: #1 he learned that preaching and teaching the Word got the ire of those who the gospel affected.  The demon possessed girl lost her demon and the men, her owners, lost their revenue. And Paul and Silas ended up in jail. That didn’t stop them and because of their tenacity, they saw many saved, specifically the jailer. 

He also found some folks down by the river who had some interest in the Lord and Paul stepped forth and began to preach the gospel and Lydia and her household got saved and as a result the church started in her house. All of this to say, that we have to be aggressive in our outgoing to accomplish what God wants to do with us. Sitting and waiting gets no results. One old preacher told me that “… if you want a wife, go places where a potential lady awaits. If you want a house, say “amen” with a hammer and nails. If you want to be used of God….be busy doing whatever God lays out in front of you.” 

Andrew got saved and headed off to find his brother, Peter. (John 1:41) The woman at the well, immediately when she knew of the “water of life, the Lord Jesus” went into the city to tell the men about the Christ. Peter, when he was released from prison by the angel went to the church where they were praying to tell them God had answered prayer. 

Action is a key factor in any ministry for the Lord. Don’t go the wrong way as did Jonah, who later went the right way. Don’t compromise and go into Egypt as did Abram and lose your testimony. Do stand with the men and women of old who knew what God wanted, and did it. Esther said, I must do something, and she did. God went before her and made a way.

The New Testament tells us that the things that happened in the Old Testament were written for our learning or admonition. Find out what God wants from you, search the scripture to find a similar situation and follow that advice. (Romans 15:4; I Cor. 10.6)

What shall we do? Good question. Answer: Watch, pray, and plug away. Sing to yourself the chorus: 

Oh, God will make a way

Where there seems to be no way

He works in ways we cannot see

He will make a way for me

He will be my guide

Hold me closely to His side

With love and strength for each new day

He will make a way, He will make a way

Harvey Seidel recently retired as the Pastor of First Baptist Church of Thermopolis where he had pastored for 26 years. Before Thermopolis, he was the founder and director of Baptist Church Planting West where he spent 30 years in Church planting all over the West. Bible teaching and expository preaching define the pulpit ministry of Pastor Seidel. Making the Bible both real and practical is his goal in ministry

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By: Pastor Cole Howe

Joshua 24:14-25 (v.14-15)

Every one of us faces “giants” throughout our lives, and these “giants” must be dealt with. Some of them are “sin”, others are not; however, not dealing with them could potentially lead to some sin.  The fact is, God’s people down the millennia have faced giants, both spiritual and literal, and won the victory.

We’ve heard the statement, “That molehill became a mountain”. What starts as something small can soon grow into something gigantic. We must be careful.

Beginning in Genesis 6:4, the Bible introduces us to the Anakims, or the sons of Anak – the giants. These had persistently plagued God’s people, Israel, for generations.

One of the reasons for the Children of Israel’s hesitation in entering the Promised Land was the giants. Forty years later, eighty-five year-old, Caleb, emphatically requests of Joshua to give him that mountain in Hebron as his inheritance, even though it was infested with giants (Joshua 14). Teenage David battled the giant, Goliath, in 1 Samuel 17 and won.

Making decisions can be quite difficult for folks, some even to the point being emotionally paralyzed by it.

The most intimidating moments of choice usually center around the transitioning in life-stages: high school to college, college to career, single to married, working to retirement, etc.

Here’s the important “rub”: no one can make decisions for us. They can pressure, influence, lobby, pray for, threaten, harass, buy, push, steal, or bribe, but they can never make a decision for us when the decision is ours and ours alone to make.

Joshua, toward the end of his ministry as leader of Israel, gives us some tips on decision-making.


Joshua to Israel (v.15), “…choose you this day whom ye will serve…” We will serve someone or something anyway, so let it be the Lord.

Typically, we have a tendency to think of the choice as being between BAD and GOOD, between SIN and RIGHTEOUSNESS. No doubt, there are definite instances of choices like these. Yet, for the Christian, the decisions are most generally between what is better and best.

Daniel “purposed in his heart” to serve the Lord (Daniel 1). Shadrack, Meshack, and Abed-nego resolved to serve the Lord regardless of the intimidating and daunting fiery furnace (Daniel 3).

WHOM are you serving?


We live in a complex world with real issues, hot topics, troubling circumstances, and weighty problems. This presses home the need for simplicity.

To simplify the decision-making process, let’s emphasize the WORD OF GOD. When it came down to it, Joshua sided with God, “…but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

Remember, the Spirit of God will never lead us contrary to the Word of God, and the Word of God will never send us to shame the Son of God.

We live in a time when we must be emphatic about this: WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?

This is a great way of saying, “What does God say about this?” This roots our decision-making, our choices in absolute Truth.

3.   CHRIST – Joshua 24:14-15

With your decision, can you serve the Lord? It’s a simple question – it’s a can or cannot answer.

Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. once said, “Don't sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate.

Too many young people, and many adults too, have made decisions without any thought for the future, and CANNOT serve the Lord as He would have them.

In our decision-making, in our choices, may we have an eye for the future, our eyes in the Book, and our eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Pastor Cole Howe is a Wyoming native and Hot Springs County High School graduate (1989). He has served as the pastor of Moab Baptist Church in Moab, Utah, since November 1998. Prior to moving to Utah, he ministered as the Assistant and Youth Pastor at First Baptist of Thermopolis. Cole, and his wife, Cindy, are the parents of three children - Caitlyn (Bob) Oswald, Catrina (Stefan) Christensen, and Caleb (soon-to-marry Makinna) Howe. They have four granddaughters and one grandson.

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Winning the West- Going Out of Your Way

By: Pastor Harvey Seidel

We have talked about two important things in reaching the west. First, the principles of letting the Holy Spirit work and using the Bible, God’s word, as a powerful tool. Also, we spoke of becoming friends with those who you plan to reach for Christ, and how this "friendship evangelism" is vital in the western culture. 

Western people are probably the most independent people you will ever meet. Many of them have been here all their lives and their parents and grandparents, before that, founded this western culture. We often hear the phrase, “If you need some help, let me know.”  Well, after all these years I have yet to have anyone “let me know!” I think after all these years out here, I have become that way too. No, I won’t ask you, but if you want to help, do it. If you really mean it then you will put action to your words. 

Many years ago, here in Thermopolis, we bought an older house that needed a lot of remodeling. Lois and I were doing it ourselves. One day, unbeknownst to us, a crew came to help us…and what a surprise. They did everything that was needed. We pulled up old carpet, tore down some walls, cleaned floors. It was great fellowship and what a blessing. If someone is remodeling, show up to help. If someone is landscaping, help, show up. 

Often, we say to someone “…come visit us sometime…” they will never do it. As a pastor, I wanted to know when people were in the hospital. Do you think that anyone would call me? No, you usually found out they had been in the hospital, but they never told you and you had to hear it from someone else. Now don’t get me wrong…. they will help you and be there when there is a need, but they do it on their own.  What I am saying is you and I should be that way too, we know something in some way we can help, then do and don’t wait for an invite.

How do you reach people like this? I think it goes back to finding people who are interested. If God works in their heart to hear the gospel, listen to the radio, attend a service, then you can depend on them having an interest and following through. But more than that, it seems that we have to be interested enough to keep working with them. 

On one occasion I went to an auction and a man was there I had been witnessing to. He needed a refrigerator; I needed a refrigerator. I let him buy it (I didn’t bid against him, but I really wanted that refrigerator) and then offered to help him take it home.  There I met his wife and family, invited them to church and they got saved and have been faithful ever since.  We can’t reach people without expending ourselves to meet other’s needs. 

Our Lord showed his interest in others by feeding the 4000 and the 5000. He knew if they went away, they would not come back. But more than that, he gave to them what they needed. First physical food, then spiritual food. See the principle?  Help with other’s needs. Fix a tire, haul some water, mow a lawn. Learn what talent you have, then use it for the Lord. He will bring people along that you can help. 

One day at the door in going door to door in Cheyenne, I invited a lady to church. Talked to her briefly through the screen. Saying, “we need to thank the Lord for his provision.” she said, what provision. Quickly, coming from Iowa I said “rain.” Her reply was, “…. don’t need the rain, have the irrigation ditch.” Of course, the argument would be where does the water in the ditch come from, but that was not the point, the point was, “I don’t need God, we are self-sufficient.” 

Think about how you can help someone that you know needs help and in so doing, reach them with the truth of the gospel. I have no idea who you know that needs help. Here is where you do what God tells you to do and it will come out right. Know a person you can share a meal with. Don’t take them out to a restaurant, call and say: “We are bringing supper over tomorrow night, don’t fix anything, we have it all. Don’t drop it off and say enjoy! Sit with them and eat it too. (Now comes the arguments you start giving: Maybe they don’t want a meal, maybe they won’t like what we fix; maybe we would be imposing; maybe you just don’t want to go out of your way to reach them!)

To “Win the West” for Christ, we must learn to go out of our way!

Next week we will talk about how to get around to discussing what your main goal is… giving them the message of the gospel. Thanks for listening!

Harvey Seidel recently retired as the Pastor of First Baptist Church of Thermopolis where he had pastored for 26 years. Before Thermopolis, he was the founder and director of Baptist Church Planting West where he spent 30 years in Church planting all over the West. Bible teaching and expository preaching define the pulpit ministry of Pastor Seidel. Making the Bible both real and practical is his goal in ministry

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Winning the West: Friendship Evangelism

By: Pastor Harvey Seidel

Friendship evangelism... Oh, what a questionable phrase! Some people will get up in arms about that statement, but, really, if you don’t make friends with someone you probably won’t have LASTING fruit with them.

I guess the objection to “friendship evangelism” is that many just become friends and never work toward winning the friend to Christ, AND, that can be a danger. The opposite of friendship evangelism is to just witness to them and get a decision and move on. Lasting fruit comes with becoming a friend. It is important that we work toward winning others to Christ, and there is definitely a time to witness and seek to get a decision; however, in church planting, it is not getting decisions but rather making friends that builds a church ministry with those who get saved. Anyone can catch fish and leave them on the bank, and usually a varmint will get them. If we win someone to Christ and don’t seek to establish them into a local church, a varmint will get them. The cults boast that many of their “converts” are people, often won to Christ by a Baptist, but never discipled. So when the Jehovah Witnesses, the Mormons, or some other group comes along, they are right there to pick them up. A good fisherman takes the fish home, and makes good use of it. 

Friendship evangelism is simply reaching people for Christ by being a friend to them. It’s a very effective way of getting out the Good News of the Gospel. Neighbors will want to have what you have if you are a good testimony of the saving grace of Christ. No one wants what you have if you are a poor witness of the Saviour. So, in practicing friendship evangelism, it makes us live a closer walk with the Lord and others. We are a Bible for others to read. Someone said we are the only Bible some people will ever read. 

"We are writing the Gospel a chapter each day,

In the things that we do and the things that we say,

Others will read us, faithful or true

Say, what is the Gospel according to you?"

In friendship evangelism, as in so many other endeavors, your effectiveness will be determined by what you are, what you do, and what you say. We have found that those we become friends with, get to know, get them to come to church and hear the preaching, are those who "stick to it" when they get saved. 1 Corinthians 1:21 says “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” There is just something about hearing the preaching that makes a man understand the Gospel. 

Statistics say that it takes five different encounters with a Christian before an unsaved person will respond to the Gospel. So, five different people are going to have to meet that individual in some setting to reach him for Christ. If those stats are correct, you and I can get them involved in our friendship and soon they will be rubbing shoulders with other believers who have the same goal of being a friend to see them come to Christ.

Yes, we have an ulterior motive. That motive is to see them get saved! Others would say, "That is not a true friendship." It is if you are concerned for souls! Let me give you an illustration of what I am talking about. In our church in Thermopolis over the years we have seen some older, I mean “older” men, come to Christ. On one occasion a man was ill and several of our men befriended him, and helped care for him. This went on for several months. I had the joy to visit with him from time to time. On one occasion, he was in a sick bed and I visited with him, just briefly, and asked if I could pray for him. He hesitated, then said, "Yes, I would like that." On another visit, I said, “May I share the gospel with you?", again, a hesitation. "Yes," he said, "I believe I would like that." After sharing the the plan of salvation I asked the question if he would like to receive Christ as his Saviour? He said, "Yes, I would."  That would not have taken place had some of the men and women of our church not become friends with this family, sharing the truth of Christ. By the way, his wife also got saved that day. After having him pray to receive Christ, I turned to her and asked if she would like to do that too. She responded: “I did it when he did it.” There was a big grin on her face!

They accused Jesus of being "...a friend of publicans and sinners..." (Matthew 11:19). He offered friendship to all kinds of people - name a few and you will understand what I am talking about: Zachaeus, Nicodemus, the woman at the well, the woman with the issue of blood. You can name more.

Paul became friends with a lot of different people and built churches on those friendships. Study the Scriptures and see if this principle holds true.

Harvey Seidel recently retired as the Pastor of First Baptist Church of Thermopolis where he had pastored for 26 years. Before Thermopolis, he was the founder and director of Baptist Church Planting West where he spent 30 years in Church planting all over the West. Bible teaching and expository preaching define the pulpit ministry of Pastor Seidel. Making the Bible both real and practical is his goal in ministry

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