The Gospel According to Colt Ford

Colt Ford Workin' On Cover

Introduction

During this second opportunity…I should say blessing…the Lord has given me to stand in this pulpit, I am going to do something I am famous…or infamous :-)…for doing at the church in Antrim, New Hampshire I pastored.

I am going to preach a sermon based on a popular song. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m still a “Bible and Bible only” guy, but one of the advantages to being a topical preacher (versus expository) is there is more opportunity to choose “jumping off points.” Being a music addict, that means today you get to put up with the intersection of that love and the Lord’s Word.

I promise it won’t be too painful…every parishioner survived all my previous music-related sermons. 🙂

Who Is Colt Ford?

Anybody here ever heard of Colt Ford?

Well, I hadn’t until a couple months back when a tremendously talented country-musician friend of mine, David Britt, tweeted an image of a Colt Ford album he had just purchased. David’s tweets never steer me wrong music-wise…so I logged into Spotify and checked out Colt Ford’s work. I’d describe him as a country-rock-rapper. That is I would describe him as an incredibly gifted country-rock-rapper.

[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the “extras” that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. ]

And one song especially appealed to my ears…”Workin’ On.”

Has anyone here heard that tune? [Wait for answers. If anyone has, ask what they think of it.]

I think it is an awesome song…and I additionally think Colt Ford’s “Workin’ On” has quite a bit of wisdom in it…so that is why this talk is entitled, “The Gospel According to Colt Ford.”

Disclaimers

But before we dive in…some quick disclaimers…

  • First, please grab your bibles or, if you don’t have one, the red pew Bible in front of you. Although I’ll be quoting from The English Standard Version, I’ll try to share the page number of the verses we read together. That leads to…
  • Second, I am not suggesting you look to popular American music for wisdom. I wouldn’t even suggest Christian music for that. Instead there is only one thing that “…is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Truth can be located in a lot of places, but the only location it is 100% pure is in what you hold in your hands. Scripture needs to be the ultimate judge.
  • Third, although I am having fun with the title in saying, “The Gospel According to Colt Ford,” there is only one true gospel…something that Paul made extremely clear to the Galatians and we’ll about read together later.
  • Finally, you need to judge for yourself and your children whether this song, and Colt Ford in general, is appropriate for listening. Obviously I am okay with it, but “each one [of us] should be fully convinced in his own mind” (see Romans 14:5). And, by the way, if you think I am wrong in my judgment about his music and love me you’ll let me know. Unless it’s just because you don’t like country and/or rap music. 🙂

First Stanza

As Cheryl is painfully aware, my vocal range is limited. Additionally, I definitely cannot rap and I care about you folks…so I won’t sing any of the track to you. 🙂

But let’s go through at least the first stanza and chorus together and see if Colt Ford has snuck anything worthwhile in “Workin’ On.” The tune begins with:

Chasing after that dollar like it’ll slow down my hurry

Settle all my worries when I get it in my wallet

Quit dippin’ long enough to own a pair of jeans

That don’t have a ring in the back left pocket

Laughing at myself, admitting when I’m wrong

That’s what this good ol’ boy’s gonna go out workin’ on

What do you think? Did you pick out any wisdom in that? How does it stand up to God’s Word? Let’s find out together…

Money

Chasing after that dollar like it’ll slow down my hurry

Settle all my worries when I get it in my wallet

Hmmm…does Scripture talk of the dangers of money? Boy, does it! Let’s look at a few verses…starting with what may be the most famous…yet often misquoted…money Scripture:

10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs (1 Timothy 6:10 — page 841).

What kind of evils is the love of money the root of?

“All kinds.”

And it is bad enough it can shipwreck a faith.

Next let’s head over to Ecclesiastes 5:10:

10 He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity (page 474).

Now, I always caution people when reading Ecclesiastes…everything has to be taken in context…but I think this one is safe pulled out on its own.

If you love money, will you be satisfied? [No.]

How about other forms of wealth? Will they satisfy you? [No.]

But…let’s be serious…we can’t live without money. Isn’t it okay if we worry about getting it?

One more money verse will help with that.

5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’ (Hebrews 13:5 — page 853).

Paul, Solomon, and the writer of Hebrews have a constant theme, don’t they?

And that constant, Holy Spirit-inspired theme is…

Don’t love money.

So, one thumbs up to Colt Ford…and I’ll summarize this first part of his gospel as:

Don’t chase money, it won’t slow down your hurry.

Chewing Tobacco

Heading to the next line of “Workin’ On,” I will admit it confused me and I had to do some Googling to understand what it was about:

Quit dippin’ long enough to own a pair of jeans

That don’t have a ring in the back left pocket

Anybody here know what he rapping about?

That’s right…chewing tobacco. Here I thought there was some brand of jeans that had a metal “ring in the back left pocket.” 🙂

I don’t even keep my wallet in my back pocket, but I suspect if I kept a can of chewing tobacco there in all of my jeans I’d have exactly what Colt Ford raps about. I also think a hard can would be kind of uncomfortable to sit on. 🙂

So, our country rapper is suggesting it would be good to give up chewing tobacco. As we’ve said before, the Bible is our standard:

  • How many think the Bible prohibits using chewing tobacco?
  • How many think it says it is okay?
  • How many don’t think it conclusively says either way?

I’m in that last camp, although I lean toward the first option. My guess is that if you ever see a Bible study about tobacco (mainly cigarettes), you’ll likely here this verse:

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 — page 809).

I would suggest it’s a bit of an abuse to use that as an anti-tobacco “proof text”…Paul was discussing an issue some in the Corinthian church had with sexual immorality. However, it is important us to consider that we are not our own, we are the Lord’s…and we should act that way with our bodies. Chewing tobacco does cause cancer…and although, as Christians, death is nothing to be feared, we should avoid knowingly doing something that significantly increases the chance we’ll face it sooner than needed.

I’ve said I don’t think that Scripture conclusively condemns chewing tobacco, but there is a verse I think fits what Colt Ford seems to be alluding to: an addiction to chewing tobacco that is bad enough you don’t have a single pair of jeans that don’t have a circular imprint in their back left pocket. If you have your bibles still open to the last verse we read, it’s just before it:

12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything (1 Corinthians 6:12 — page 809).

Again, the context is not specifically about using tobacco, but the principle holds…

Do not be dominated by anything.

As you know, you cannot serve two masters (see Matthew 6:24). If tobacco, in any form, dominates you then it is your master.

I’m going to summarize the second part of Colt Ford’s gospel as:

Don’t be dominated by anything.

Pride and Confession

Well, we are almost at the end of the first stanza of “Workin’ On.” So far, so good? Next is…

Laughing at myself, admitting when I’m wrong

That’s what this good ol’ boy’s gonna go out workin’ on

Tom is a fellow religion graduate of Liberty University, and as such he got to study some systematic theology. One of the areas is “anthropology,” which is the study of man. I think it would be good if everyone studied that kind of anthropology, because it would help keep us humble.

To be willing to take a treatment, it’s good to understand what the disease is. An honest study of humanity would make it clear we all need a divine cure for the human disease of sin.

And I suspect it would mean we would laugh at ourselves…or react in other ways that show recognition of just how messed-up we are. Luckily, Scripture not only knows what we are, it shows God treats us as children anyway:

13  As a father shows compassion to his children,

so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.

14  For he knows our frame;

he remembers that we are dust (Psalm 103:13-14 — page 428).

God knows our frame…we should know our frame…and be, like Colt Ford, humble about it…and that humility leads into “admitting when I am wrong”:

8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us (1 John 1:8-10 — page 862).

All have sinned (see Romans 3:23)…and we should just admit it, asking for forgiveness. And not just to God…but with others:

23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift (Matthew 5:23-24, page 684).

Ultimately we need God’s forgiveness…but that doesn’t let us off the hook with others we wrong. What Jesus is pretty much saying is that before you try to sync up with God get things straight with your spouse, your sibling, your friend, your neighbor, your coworker…anyone you have wronged.

“Laughing at myself, admitting when I’m wrong.”

I’ll summarize the third part of Colt Ford’s gospel as:

Understand your humanity, be humble, and admit when you are wrong.

So, what do you think of “The Gospel According to Colt Ford” so far?

  • Don’t chase money, it won’t slow down your hurry.
  • Do not be dominated by anything.
  • Understand your humanity, be humble and admit when you are wrong.

Can you stand by those three before we head into the chorus?

Oh, I know I didn’t dissect “That’s what this good ol’ boy’s gonna go out workin’ on.” We’ll get to that a little later. 🙂

Chorus

Now, as is true with a lot of songs, the catchiest part of “Workin’ On” is the chorus:

Workin’ on coming to Jesus, kicking the bottle, wrestling with our roots,

Trying to turn off Mama’s tears, and fill our Daddy’s boots

Shuttin’ off our pride, fixing bridges we burned, learning how to live and learn

Keeping our demons down and our trucks up and running

Lovin’ them angels sitting pretty in the middle of ’em

Fightin’ with the man in the mirror ’til we gone

Yeah, that’s what all us good ol’ boys gonna go out workin’ on

Gonna go out workin’ on

I don’t know about you, I love hearing the name Jesus…particularly in a positive context. 🙂

And I’m sure “workin’ on coming to Jesus” pretty much sucked me in. But, is it biblical?

I think we can learn from the answer to a question the Philippian jailor asked:

30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:30-31 — pages 784-785).

If there is a single thing Colt Ford should be working on.

That we should be working on.

That anyone should be working on…

“Coming to Jesus” is definitely it!

Now, I don’t want to treat our rapper’s words like New Testament Greek that we dissect…

(There are times I wish we wouldn’t even dissect that Koine Greek. :-))

So I don’t want to spend time talking about whether we “come to Jesus” or are drawn to Him…and so on. I think his point is legit…and I’ll summarize the fourth part of Colt Ford’s gospel basically the way he says it:

Work on coming to Jesus

Paul clearly understood how important this Jesus focus was:

2 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:1-2 — page 807).

And…

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, page 815).

Jesus is “of first importance.” He is fundamentally what we need to know, and his death, burial, and resurrection is the foundation of the gospel. There is no other gospel:

6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed (Galatians 1:6-9 — page 823).

There is no other gospel. There is no other savior. There is only one way, one truth, one life (see John 14:6).

Work on coming to Jesus.

Kicking the Bottle and Wrestling with our Roots

The first line of the chorus also includes “kicking the bottle and wresting with our roots.” When it comes to kicking the bottle, I’ll stick with what I said about chewing tobacco (“don’t be dominated by anything”), but will throw in that Proverbs 20:1 further reminds us that “wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”

How about “wrestling with our roots.” Does that sync with the Bible? I think so:

2 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, (Ephesians 2:1-4 — page 827).

Our roots are in sin, and we need to wrestle with them. As Colossians 3:5 says, we need to put to death what is earthly in us; we need to be able to refer to them as things we “once walked” in (see Colossians 3:7) and “once lived” in.

Past tense. Not presently walking in and living in.

And it can be a WWF wrestling match or MMA fight, can’t it?:

15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate (Romans 7:15 — page 800).

As Christians we hate sin, but as Christians we still battle it until we are on the other side. However, take heart because:

12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:12-13 — page 811).

And we already read John’s words that if we confess our sins God is also faithful to forgive them.

Praise God!

Part five of Colt Ford’s gospel?

Fight sin.

Two simple words…and God is your tag team teammate in the wrestling match.

Fight sin.

The Rest of the Chorus

It was at this point in composing my sermon I realized that I was going to run way over on time if I didn’t make some editorial choices. I had composed more than 11 pages, and I could easily go another 11. Yet, I had only gotten a single line into the chorus.

And “Workin’ On” was making some great points:

  • Don’t chase money, it won’t slow down your hurry.
  • Do not be dominated by anything.
  • Understand your humanity, be humble and admit when you are wrong.
  • Fight sin.

But most importantly:

  • Work on coming to Jesus.

Hmmm…

Let’s just rush through the rest, okay? 🙂

“Trying to turn off Mama’s tears, and fill our Daddy’s boots”

First, it’s never nice to make mom cry. 🙂

But I think Exodus 20:12 implicitly covers that with “Honor your father and your mother.”

As for filling “our Daddy’s boots”…I’ll admit the first thing that comes to mind is another song, “Patches” by Clarence Carter :-)…but I see that as a call to not to sully the family name…and as Christians our family name is also that of our Father with a capital F. As such, after church spend a little time reading Romans 2:17-24…and let’s be sure that Paul will never say of us:

You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you” (Romans 2:24).

Also, the Bible refers to us crying to our Heavenly Father as “Abba” (see Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6)…which means “Daddy”…so let’s fill our Daddy’s (with a capital D) boots by not sullying his name. Or, our earthly dad’s for that matter.

Two more additions to “The Gospel According to Colt Ford”:

Honor your mother.

Don’t embarrass your daddy, capital D or little d.

Moving quickly on…

“Shuttin’ off our pride, fixing bridges we burned, learning how to live and learn”

We’ve already spoken about being humble (covers “shuttin’ off our pride”), admitting when we are wrong (covers “fixing bridges we burned”), and how we should live…and that is not the way we once lived and walked!

How about learning? Ecclesiastes 5:1 has an important admonition:

5  Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil (page 474).

Do you have a teachable heart? It is better “to draw near to listen.” I’ll summarize this part of “The Gospel According to Colt Ford” as…

Have a teachable heart.

Now onto “keeping our demons down and our trucks up and running”

Well, “keeping our demons down” is still covered by “fight sin.” As for keeping “our trucks up and running”…

I’ll admit I can’t pull out a biblical principle from that, but I do remember seeing Buster with his truck’s hood up in the church parking lot this winter. 🙂

How about “lovin’ them angels sitting pretty in the middle of ’em”?

In this case I would suggest we heed Jesus’ words about how man and wife “become one flesh” (see Matthew 19:3-6) and how Proverbs 18:22 recognizes “he who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.”

As for noting that our wives are pretty…I could prove that’s okay by reading the whole Song of Solomon right now. 🙂

Instead, let’s just summarize this part of “The Gospel According to Colt Ford” as:

Love your wife and appreciate her as the gift that she is.

We are almost done…promise!

Now onto “fightin’ with the man in the mirror ’til we gone”

Well, that is covered by “understand your humanity, be humble and admit when you are wrong” and “fight sin.”

Which quickly gets us to the end of the chorus…

Yeah, that’s what all us good ol’ boys gonna go out workin’ on

Gonna go out workin’ on

Is it actually biblical to talk about “working on” all this stuff? I think Paul says yes:

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13 — page 831).

Our salvation is guaranteed thanks to the work that Jesus did on the cross, but Paul clearly wants us to remember that we still have plenty to work on until the Lord calls us home…luckily God is working “in” us as we are workin’ “out” our salvation.

So, I think it’s good that “the good ol’ boys [are] gonna [work] on” all this things until they “go out”…and we should too. I’ll summarize this part of “The Gospel According to Colt Ford” as:

Keep it up until the day you die.

The Gospel According to Colt Ford

Well, we haven’t gotten to the end of his song…but we have gotten to the end of “The Gospel According to Colt Ford”:

  • Don’t chase money, it won’t slow down your hurry.
  • Do not be dominated by anything.
  • Understand your humanity, be humble, and admit when you are wrong.
  • Fight sin.
  • Honor your mother.
  • Don’t embarrass your daddy, capital D or little D.
  • Have a teachable heart.
  • Love your wife and appreciate her as the gift that she is.
  • Work on coming to Jesus.
  • Keep it up until the day you die.

Now, as I mentioned, there is only one true gospel…but “The Gospel According to Colt Ford” is not bad is it? Especially with so, so many songs that demonically encourage the things we once walked or lived in…I think you can see the appeal of “Workin’ On” for me.

We ended up with ten items in “The Gospel According to Colt Ford”…but if you were only going to remember on, which do you think it should be?

That’s right, “Work on coming to Jesus.”

Even more simply, don’t worry about remembering the whole item.

Just make sure you remember one word.

Jesus.

Because…

…there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

Jesus!


In case you are interested in hearing the song, here it is:

Also, the Colt Ford “Workin’ On” image thanks to Amazon.com.


Follow Traditores

Trackbacks

  1. […] next Strasburg-specific article I’d give a link to a sermon I did over Memorial Day Weekend, “The Gospel According to Colt Ford.” (We found a great church before we moved here, and still drive there weekly to […]

Your thoughts?