Explore the timeless wisdom of God's Word through this beautiful horse devotional.
Horses nuzzle their way into our hearts and have a way of teaching us a lot about ourselves, about life, and even about God. Just ask horse enthusiast Cara Whitney, wife of comedian and actor Dan Whitney (aka Larry the Cable Guy).
Through years spent working with these majestic animals—Cara Whitney has learned countless spiritual lessons that have brought her closer to God.
In 100 heartfelt devotions with stunning photography, you'll
- Learn about being flexible in your faith from a gangly legged colt.
- Discover the secret to overcoming temptation through a horse's "sneak and eat" game.
- From a pony with a sweet tooth, find out why we should be glad God doesn’t answer yes to all of our prayers.
- Be reminded that you are priceless to God from a one-eyed quarter horse named Roanie.
Unbridled Faith is the perfect daily devotional for horse lovers.
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
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About the Author
Cara Whitney grew up on a cattle farm in Northern Wisconsin. After spending a decade as a radio personality in markets that included Las Vegas, she found herself in search of that simpler life everyone talks about. She soon discovered that there is no such thing as a simple life, but instead your best lived life is one that includes a relationship with Jesus Christ. Cara lives with her husband and two kids on a horse farm in Nebraska.
Read an Excerpt
Welcome to the Barn Party
"Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep."
My funny horse is the life of the barn party. His name is Sven, but I call him Fat Benny. He can gain five pounds just by looking at grass (just like my husband with a cheeseburger). He is very vocal, so if he sees me, he will whinny. But as big as he is, his whinny is very wimpy. Fat Benny knows he's fat, so if he wants something on the other side of the fence, he lays on the fence until it collapses and just rolls over the top of it. Benny's antics give joy to everyone at the barn.
Whether it's through your animals, kids, or friends, if you're like me, you find joy in a lot of different ways. However, if you and I want to share the joy of heaven, we need to find our greatest joy in salvation. Jesus told us that there will be "more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent" (Luke 15:7).
Our upside-down culture prizes fast cars, expensive clothes, fleeting fame, and shallow relationships over eternal blessings. But as citizens of the kingdom of God, we should put our salvation — and that of those around us — at the top of our lists of things that bring us joy. Think of it: the angels rejoice when one of God's human creations comes to faith in Him. If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, the heavenly beings celebrated when you confessed Him as Lord.
There will be a party in heaven for you! Now, doesn't that make you want to kick up your heels?
Lord, thank You for the gift of salvation — and the great celebration that awaits Your followers in heaven, amen.
It's Okay to Not Be Okay
"I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends."
Horses are amazing animals. When I feel sad or depressed, my horses seem to sense my pain. They turn their ears toward me and even lean into me. In those moments, they aren't just sweet creatures to ride, train, and enjoy; instead, they are my friends.
Still, even if we're surrounded by comforting friends, at some time in our lives, we will be hit with pain so excruciating we will wonder if there is any point in going on. Whether it's a financial crisis, a health catastrophe, or a relationship implosion, our very souls will cry out, "This is too much! I can't live through this!"
Yet with God, we don't have to pretend everything is okay. He longs to be the "friend who sticks closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24). He created us, so He knows us better than we know ourselves. We can be honest and real with Him. And His power can help us endure tough seasons. We just have to be humble enough to admit we need Him. You are not big enough to handle life on your own. Run into the arms of a heavenly Father who loves you and weeps with you. Trust Him to be the most loyal, best friend you've ever had.
Lord, thank You for being not only my creator, sustainer, and savior, but also my friend, amen.
Silence and Prayer
Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.
When I brush my horse, I am really telling him my problems with my hands and my heart. In return, my horse leans into me, seeming to say, "It's going to be okay." By his mere presence, he comforts me. He doesn't have to say a word.
Scientists from England did an amazing study recently that showed that horses know the difference between humans' happy and sad facial expressions and react accordingly. If only we humans were always good at reacting well to our friends' suffering. In the Old Testament, Job was successful and blessed by wealth, friends, family, and stability. Then Satan began to test him, taking away everything — including his health. Job's wife told him to curse God and die. Then his friends came around. Their presence comforted him, and they were great encouragers — until they began to speak, suggesting that Job must have done something sinful to deserve all his suffering. The more they said, the more agitated Job became. Instead of helping him by sympathizing and listening, Job's buddies gave him advice and told him their theories.
Too many times, we are like Job's so-called friends. We are uncomfortable with silence, so we rush to fill gaps in conversation with truisms and opinions. What if we prayed for wisdom before we spoke? It just might make all the difference.
If we wish to be godly encouragers, we must not speak until we have truly listened and prayed. Our words do have a place when we are trying to help someone. But we must let silence and prayer do the talking when we are not sure what to say.
Lord, use me to encourage and minister to others — especially those who are hurting. Show me how to be Your hands, feet, and face. Above all, show me how to simply listen, amen.
Bucked Off Our High Horse
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
I assumed I knew what my horse Nelson was thinking. Even though I showered him with care, love, and all the things I would like if I were a horse, in truth Nelson couldn't have cared less about me. He bucked me off while someone was holding the lunge line. I went on a wild ride, sailing through the air and into the sand, while my friend, who was still holding the lunge line, was dragged across the arena. I was unhurt, but my ego took a beating that day.
On occasion, we all need to be bucked off our high horse. The greatness, forgiveness, and eternal nature of God should humble us. The person of Jesus — His sinlessness, compassion, and self-sacrifice on the cross — should also humble us.
Being humble, for many people, seems like a form of weakness. Pride sneaks in when we start to think we are strong enough to handle things better than God. As believers, we must walk in the footsteps of Jesus and place ourselves under His loving guidance. The Bible has some harsh words about pride: "To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech" (Proverbs 8:13).
Pride is a sin that leads to other sins. When we're filled with pride, too easily we become egotistical and arrogant. However, if we surrender to God daily, asking for forgiveness from our pride, He cleanses us and equips us to deal with life and to love the people around us selflessly. As we walk in humility, we can enjoy the day-today release from stress as God intended.
What are you waiting for? Climb off your high horse and fall on your knees before Jesus.
Lord, forgive my pride. Teach me to be humble as I surrender to You daily, amen.
The One-Trick Pony
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Horse training is about understanding the horse, not about tricks, food, or force. A good trainer coaxes the horse toward a goal by getting to know the animal first. The trainer gently works with the horse, establishing trust and building the relationship slowly. Bad trainers, however, use fear as a technique. They manipulate and mistreat their horses, believing that domination is the ultimate goal.
In much the same way, Satan uses fear to intimidate and distract us from following God. Our enemy is like a one-trick pony compared to God, but if we allow him to, he can interfere in our lives and wreak havoc on our emotions. Like an abusive trainer, Satan mistreats and manipulates, offering false, right-now rewards in contrast to God's eternal ones. The devil also will do everything he can to trick you into thinking that you're still struggling with something God has already freed you from. Don't give in. During those moments, keep your eyes fixed on the cross and hold tight to the truths found in Scripture.
Nothing can separate us from the love of God. When we confess our sins and trust Jesus as Lord and Savior, we can rest assured that we will spend eternity with Him: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8–9).
Not only did Jesus give His life so we might know the forgiveness of sin and life eternal with Him, but Jesus also gives us the ability to flee from the devil and have abundant, joyful life here on earth.
Lord, steer me clear of the devil's tricks. Thank You for Your gentle leading, amen.
When Jesus and his disciples had finished eating, he asked, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than the others do?" Simon Peter answered, "Yes, Lord, you know I do!" "Then feed my lambs," Jesus said.
John 21:15 CEV
Sometimes, I think my horse fears two things: objects that move and objects that don't. In all likelihood, if you look up the word skittish in the dictionary, his picture appears next to the text.
And on certain days, I'm skittish too. I trip myself up with doubts and insecurity, and I run away at the slightest provocation. Do you ever have days like that? Fear is a real and powerful force in our lives. It's a force that Satan likes to use to trip us up. The enemy's goal isn't always to hurt us physically, but rather to tempt us to believe that God is not trustworthy.
Peter was one of Satan's victims.
The fisherman-turned-follower-of-Jesus was so afraid after the Lord was arrested that he denied knowing Him three different times. After the resurrection, Jesus met Peter again and asked him if he loved Him. And three times Peter affirmed that he did. After our Lord had destroyed the power of death and had risen from the dead, He stood eye to eye with Peter — giving His disciple a second chance. Once Peter had confessed his love, Jesus assigned him the task of looking out for others. It would not always be an easy job, but as long as Peter released his fear and daily trusted in God, he would succeed.
While the enemy's tactics never change, neither do God's promises. Peter was frozen with fear, but later he was restored to faith. And as we learn from the book of Acts, God used Peter to bring thousands of people to faith — in one day. Satan lost the battle. Is fear pulling you down? Confess it to Jesus and put your trust in Him right now.
Lord, forgive me for the times I have doubted You and allowed the enemy to bring fear into my heart. Empower me to escape that trap and follow You, amen.
Salt of the Earth
"You are the salt of the earth."
Did you know that horses, like people, need extra salt when the weather is hot? And even when it's not hot outside, my horse loves salt.
In Christ's day, salt was a form of currency. It was expensive and hard to obtain. Because Jesus understood the value of salt, He referred to His believers as the "salt of the earth." For us Christians to lose our saltiness means that the gospel has been diluted in our lives. Instead of influencing the world, we let the world unduly influence us. Maybe we quit spending time with God daily and watch too much television instead. Or maybe we focus on all we don't have instead of the gifts God has freely given us. Whatever the specifics, the person who does not protect the biblical truth in her life from the ideas and ideologies of this world will have little flavor left to bless the lives around her.
The truth is, biblically illiterate churchgoers are spiritually immature and vulnerable to anti-Christian teachings and doctrines. Without a firm grasp on the Bible that's nurtured through daily engagement, believers quickly lose their saltiness. They can't stand strong in the faith they claim and are less confident in telling others about Christ.
Life will present you with all kinds of flavors, but it's your salty side that God loves most. Get into God's Word — and get growing and witnessing.
Lord, I don't ever want to lose my saltiness. Help me to grow in faith and wisdom, and let my light shine before others, that they may see Your good deeds, amen.
"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you."
Water crossings are not my horse Sven's favorite thing to do. He plants his feet and won't go in. Sven will tiptoe up to it and back, then step left and right. He'll do anything but put his foot in the water. I have been told horses have limited depth perception, and they can't tell how deep water is unless they go in. In that case, maybe I need to be working on our trust issues instead. Sven needs to have confidence that I won't ask him to cross where it's not safe to go.
Throughout our lifetimes, you and I will face countless situations where we're not sure it's safe. Some obstacles will be tougher than others, and some will seem downright impossible to overcome.
God will not put an obstacle or situation in front of you that He can't handle. Better yet, God promises to be with you over, around, and through all of them. As Psalm 23:4 says, "Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."
If you have trust issues, take the first step by submerging yourself in God's Word today. The real enjoyment in life and in faith comes when we are willing to get our feet wet. Then take your cries and prayers to Jesus, who with His eternal power will keep your head above the troubled waters of this world.
Lord, give me the strength to handle the obstacles in my life. As I pass through the waters, I will trust that You are with me — just as Your Word promises, amen.
One of a Kind
God has also given each of us different gifts to use. If we can prophesy, we should do it according to the amount of faith we have. If we can serve others, we should serve. If we can teach, we should teach.
Romans 12:6–7 CEV
We all have our opinions on what horse breed is best. God designed each breed differently, from Shetlands to Clydesdales. All of them are exceptional, but none have the same personalities, talents, or abilities. For instance, Fjords and Shetlands have a pony personality. Ponies are like boys — they can be naughty, for sure, but when they see you've reached your limits, they switch gears into charming mode. Even though ponies might have big personalities, by definition they are tiny. You would never ask or expect a Shetland pony to pull a heavy wagon.
Like the many differences between horse breeds, there is a huge diversity of God-given gifts in the body of Christ (the church). The Creator gives each of us a unique personality and talents in order to serve Him, and there is no reason for you to think more highly or more lowly of your gifts than you ought to. After all, you are a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, the very workmanship of God (Ephesians 2:10), knit together in your mother's womb, fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13–14).
Whether you teach, preach, encourage, or minister, you are unique. You have been fashioned and equipped by a loving God. He gave you the gift of eternal life through Jesus and the opportunities to tell the world the good news. Don't waste a moment more! Get out there and use your God-given talents today.
Lord, I praise You and thank You for giving me one-of-a-kind talents and gifts. Help me use them for You and use them well, amen.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13
During trail rides, Sven has perfected a trick I like to refer to as the "sneak and eat." When he thinks no one is looking, Sven grabs the first green thing he sees and tries to eat it. No matter the consequence, the temptation is just too much. The next thing you know, he'll have an entire branch sticking out of the sides of his mouth.
We can all relate to temptation. The first man and woman, Adam and Eve, fell into sin after they were tempted, and they lived in a picture-perfect environment. Even Jesus was tempted, although He did not sin.
Excerpted from "Unbridled Faith"
Copyright © 2018 Cara Whitney.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
If You Love Horses, This Devotional is for You We have lived around horses for twenty years. They are not only gorgeous and loving, but they can teach you a lot about life and faith, if you’re willing to learn. Obviously Cara feels the same way. There are many stories in the book that a horse lover can relate to. One of my favorites is Water Crossings. Some horses will go right into a stream, but others, as Cara describes, hesitate and dance around. They want to know it’s safe, and they have to trust their rider. As she points out, this is where many of us are in faith. We have to learn to trust God. It will make water crossings and other challenges easier. The photographs in this book are special. Some are taken at the farm others at events. I can relate to all the pictures. They bring back memories of my own horses. This book is hard cover with good sized print. It would make a wonderful gift for anyone who loves horses or lives around them. I received this book from Booklook Bloggers for this review.
Whitney writes very much in the vein of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books, each devotion a quick 2 page read with a prayer prompt at the end of each one. One of my favorite prayer prompts in this book: "Lord, help me to amplify the good in my life and control my emotions." Certainly something that spoke to me! While the photography in Unbridled Faith is undeniably GOREGOUS, and the sentiments are comforting, the devotional pieces themselves, as far as topics covered, are pretty standard fare (for the devotional genre as a whole, that is). Whitney offers her own horse-themed spin on things of course, but doesn't really touch upon any new territory. Some of the transitions felt a little clunky, such as the salt one, talking about how horses crave salt and then the next line talking about salt being currency in Christ's time. It just flowed oddly to me. But I did have a giggle (though I don't think it was intended humorously) at the line, "It's your salty side God loves most." LOL Well, I don't know about THAT, but I'll take it, I guess! Much of what was offered here, while as sweet and feel-good as one would expect, struck me as rehashings of topics you've likely read in a number of other books of this style. Furthermore, at times her thoughts struck me as a tinge judgmental of "non-believers", though she claims to feel called to evangelism. But I have to admit, I did enjoy her sense of humor at times: "The next time your horse creates manure, remind yourself your animal is keeping you humble." "Although my patient neighbors may disagree with my musical tastes, in my opinion all donkeys have perfect pitch." Note to readers: this book contains spoilers for the children's classic Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. FTC Disclaimer: BookLookBloggers.com kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions above are entirely my own.
Any horse lover or Christian will treasure this beautiful volume. Even taking a moment or two to sit and get lost in the peaceful photographs adds value to ones life. It is a comfortable size, fitting pleasantly into your hands. The print size is easy, even for older eyes, to read. Each of the one hundred entries begins with a biblical passage and ends with a prayer or entreaty. There is a brief reading between, containing observations and lessons. I would enjoy reading an entry a day or just opening at random and finding a lesson that applies. I received this book via Harper Collins BookLook program. The rating and review are my own. I will be buying additional copies as gifts.