Agriculture, the Joy and the Job

While shopping at Atwood’s Farm & Ranch Store this week to get some last minute supplies before the snow storm started. While I was there and I saw a high school student pushing a cart filled to the max with sacks of livestock feed. I overheard one customer surprised at how much the student was buying and said, “That’s an awful lot of food. Looks like you are feeding an army!”

The student said, “Yes sir. My animals aren’t going to feed themselves during this storm.”

The customer replied, “I’m just glad I don’t own any livestock or have to feed them in this weather. I feel sorry for you.”

The student said, “Don’t feel sorry for me sir. Sometimes it’s a job, other days it’s a joy. This week it will just be a job.”

As I heard this conversation, I was impressed with the attitude of the high school student, but also reminded of what our producers go through. Such commitment to their job and to their industry. No one likes the thought of feeding their livestock in these freezing temperatures, but there’s no such thing as a “Snow Day” in agriculture. Therefore, the work must go on.

Prayers to all of our Farmers and Ranchers who are facing the elements this week to take care of their livestock. They are feeding an army, because they are feeding me and you. And I have to agree with that student, the role of a farmer is not always a joy, in fact this week especially, I’m sure for all of our farmers and ranchers, feeding the world is a job. But one, that never gets a “Snow Day”. Thanks to all who keeping the Ag industry going! #okwx #snowklahoma #oklahomaweather #NoSnowDay #agriculture #okffa #OK4H #ag #farmlife #aglife #leadership #Passion #OkAg

7 Alternatives to Eating Black Eyed Peas This New Year

Saw people in Walmart loading up with cans of Black Eyed Peas. Asked one, “Why are you buying so many?” Man replied, “Well, you gotta believe in something.”

People want change so much they are turning to a vegetable for good luck! But if we really desire change in 2021; we must return to God!

1. So instead of consuming Black Eyed Peas, start consuming the Word of God.

2. Repent of your sins and return to God.

3. Pray for God to burden your heart for lost souls.

4. Immerse yourself in the Truth of God and get ahold of His identity for you.

5. Make Church attendance and involvement a non-negotiable habit.

6. Target those who don’t know Jesus with your witness and testimony.

7. Create Spiritual Goals for yourself and your family.

In times of despair, the world will go to great links to find hope. But the One who we need most went an even greater link to demonstrate His love for us by dying on a cross. His name is Jesus and He is the Change we need in 2021. Not Black Eyed Peas. After all, according to the Walmart Customer, we gotta believe in something. 😉 #NewYearsEve2021

Jump for Jesus

As April and I reflect this evening on all that God has done for us, we can say He has met every need right on time and kept us safe, even getting my wife through the virus safely. We’ve got to spend time with Bella and watch her grow up so quickly. He has blessed us with a phenomenal church family, worship team, and youth group. He has helped my keynotes and trainings, virtually and in person. He even helped navigate our family through an unconventional political campaign season. The list goes on and on. As we count our blessings, we quickly realize God has still been at work even when we feel like our world has stopped. His response to us as always been love, faithfulness, and commitment. He responds to His children this way as a loving father. But I have a question, “How do we respond to Him?”

In Luke 1:41 it mentions that when Elizabeth, who is expecting a boy named John the Baptist, greets the expecting Virgin Mary, that something significant occurred. The Bible says upon the greeting being heard, the baby JUMPED within Elizabeth. Think about it: the first response to Baby Jesus was from a fetus of another baby in a womb! His response spoke volumes of what kind of King this Jesus would be!

But how about your response? I would be a liar if I said I respond to the King of Kings with that much excitement all the time. Sure, some days I could talk about Jesus all day. He is my passion. I can’t wait to introduce Him to others and love to brag on my God. I feel the intensity of passion in my chest for Him even as I write this post. I get excited singing about Him and preaching His Word with everything within me. But I don’t always respond that way towards Him.

During this pandemic, I’ve often found myself viewing my prayer life as chore. I’ve been disappointed with services/ministry events/youth events/revivals being cancelled and in person visits are hard to come by. I’ll admit I have even searched the Bible in frustration sometimes, trying to find answers to the current problems we have faced in 2020, but He is still revealing truth. I’ve sometimes viewed my ministry as a job, rather than a divine opportunity. So tonight, I’m praying for a JUMP to take place in my life. I’m praying that God would help me to have that spiritual response that causes my heart to leap again for Jesus.

We could all use a jump in our lives for Jesus. We could use more of a jump of heart cry in our worship. A jump of unction in our pulpits. A jump of attentiveness in our quiet time. A jump of proactiveness in our prayer lives. A jump of repentance in our revival. And, a jump of excitement whenever and wherever we speak or think about the Lord. Tonight, I recognize that Brandon needs Jesus to help Him jump more for Him.

This Christmas, I so want to be like John the Baptist. By that, I don’t plan on eating wild honey or consuming locusts, but instead I hope that in every response to the Lord, I pray that my life would jump for Jesus. Because even in our spiritual setbacks, God still desires to see a bounce back towards Him from His children. This Christmas, let’s respond to the King of Kings and Jump for Jesus!

JumpForJesus #Christmas #Christmas2020 #christmaseve2020

“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby jumped in her womb. Elizabeth was then filled with the Holy Spirit.” -Luke 1:41

2020-2021 Potential Public Speaking Topics for FFA Speech Contests

2020-2021 Potential Public Speaking Topics For Ag-Ed Student Competing in FFA Speech Contests 

Thanks for checking this list out! If you need any help with your public speaking or would like Brandon to come present a public speaking workshop feel free to give him a shout at bbaumgarten18@gmail.com. Best wishes! 

1. COVID-19’s impact on the Agriculture 

2. Robotic Milking & the Dairy Industry

3. Social Media & Agricultural Awareness

 Building our Local Food Supply

The Current Debate of Ag Monopolies 

6. The Processed Food War

7. Improving Beef Advocacy

8. Eradicating Invasive Species

9. Urban Farming: Rooftop Gardening

10. Protecting Agriculture & Rural Prosperity 

11. Feral Hogs Epidemic

12. Health Challenges in Rural Oklahoma

13. Combating the Opioid Crisis

14. Organic Farming vs. Non-Organic

15. Agroterroism and the war on food

16. GMOs vs. Non-GMOs: Educating the public 

17. Lack of Agricultural Literacy in the Public today

18. Urban Sprawl & the Erosion of Farmland

19. Combating World Hunger

20. Emerging Science of Plant-Breeding Technology

21. U.S. Trade and new Import Laws

22. FarmBot and the innovation of Robot Farming

23. Vertical Farming

24. Challenges facing Agricultural Education

25. New steps to improve Farm BioSecurity

26. Animal Welfare vs. Animal Rights

27. How the legalization of Medical Marijuana could affect dAgriculture

28. The Evolution of American Agriculture Careers

29. Hunting, Fishing,& less TV, more agricultural exposure. 

30. Ethanol or No Ethanol?

31. Solar Energy, Wind Farming, & Other Energy Resources

32. Local Farmer’s Markets & the need for more food.

33. SMART Farming: Using the power of apps to do more.

34. Oklahoma Mesonet & Monitoring the Environment

35. Improving Modern Aquaculture & Fish Hatcheries 

36. Christmas Tree Farming and the Benefits or Local Ag Production

37.  How Agriculturalists Deal With Drought or Natural Disasters. 

38. Agricultural Easements: How to Legally Save Farmland

39. Future of Irrigation and Water Supply

40. Greenhouse Emissions & the Public Debate

41. Purpose & History of Agricultural Extension and Education programs 

42. Precision Agriculture

43. The Secretary of Agriculture & the vision for USDA

44. Community Gardens in Rural & Urban Areas

45. NAFTA & Global Agriculture

46. Xenotransplantation: The Industry and the Science 

47. Improving Food quality and production efficiency 

48. Recent Food Changes for Charity laws

49. Food labeling & consumer information

50. New American Pork Exports: Argentina and Beyond

51. E. Coli & Preventing Bacterial Outbreaks in Food 

52. Supporting young/BIPOC farmers

53. Protecting Food Chain Workers

54. Starting Tradition/Setting Chapter Standards

55. Being a Team Player

56. Horizontal Drilling 

57. Economic Impact of Oklahoma Agriculture

58. Land-Grant Universities: The past, present, and future role of preparing students for the Ag Industry. 

59. Food Sustainability

60. Agritourism: Economic, Industrial, and Rural Impact

61. New Technology in Seed Production

62. Reducing Foodborne Illnesses 

63. New uses of Biocontrol Fungus

64. USDA Services for Farmers & Ranchers

65. The Rising of World Wheat Consumption

66. Potential Shifting of U.S. Farm Tariffs

67. Ag Gag Laws

68.  The Battle for Beef: Food Insecurity around the globe

69. School Lunch Programs & Fighting Food Insecurity during COVID-19 

70. Protecting Agricultural Education, Research, and Literacy Beyond 2020

71. How to recruit new Ag Teachers into the profession 

72. Smart Growth Policies

73. California’s Ban On Plastic. What could it lead to?

74. Addressing today’s skill gap and what is needed in the Ag Industry 

75. Real or Unreal? The possibilities of Lab Grown Fake Meat

76. Improving Ag Literacy in Urban Areas

77. Factory Farming vs. Family Farming

78. How we can articulate the message of Agriculture

79. Exploring Nutritional Research

80. Food Identification Among Consumers 

81.  The Future of Auctioneering

82. Drought-Resistant Spinach: Gene-editing in Agriculture

83. Developing Local Sustainable Food Systems 

84. The Affordable Clean Energy(ACE) Rule’s impact on CO2 emissions

85. Decreasing the Risks of Food-Borne Illnesses

86. Defining the Millennial Farmer

87. What is Warehouse Farming?

88. Using Drones to Fight Crop Diseases

89. Chocolate Farming? Why Cocoa Production is at Risk.

90. The Negative Role of Fake News in Agriculture

91. Apps in Agriculture? The Revolution of Agriculture Technology

92. Finding Your Voice: How FFA Helps Students Overcome the Number 1 Fear

93. Intercropping: The War on Weeds and Pests

94. The Ogallala Aquifer: Making Every Drop of Water Count

95. The Importance of Ag in the Classroom and Other Ag Literacy Programs

96. The Rise of Disruptive Technology and the impact on the Beef Industry

97. How to Recruit New FFA Members into Your FFA Chapter

98. How Online Grocery Shopping Could Impact Consumers & Producers

99. No Wheaties for Me: The Growing Trend of Eating Gluten-Free

100. Meatless Meat: Could this Alternative Meat 

101. Farming in Outer Space 

102. Maintaining Ag Research Funding

103. National Farm Broadcasters Association and the future of Ag Communications

104. Food availability in 2021 and beyond

105. Building our Rural Electric Infrastructure

Don’t Forget to Thank The Judge

There was a local livestock show happening in town the other day. As both 4-H and FFA chapters showed their best livestock, I overheard one dad say to his 1st time showing son as he exited the ring, “Don’t forget to thank the judge.” The son stopped, shook the judge’s hand, left the ring, wishing he would have done better as he was sifted from the ring.

The sad exhibitor then put his animal back to his pin and asked his dad, “Why do I need to thank the judge when I didn’t agree with how he placed my animal? I should have placed better, but he didn’t see it that way.”

The dad, who looked at this as a profound teaching moment said, “Son, the point of showing livestock, isn’t so you’d win more ribbons. It’s about becoming a better person in life. No matter what life throws at you, you must always remember to thank the judge.”

The son still looked puzzled, “But I still don’t see how me thanking the judge has anything to do with life?”

The dad said, “The judge did not have to be here today. He didn’t have to volunteer His time. He didn’t have to leave his family early this morning so he could sort through your classes. He came willingly and unselfishly for you. It’s important to thank the judge.”

“That makes sense.” Said the son.

The Dad continued, “And son, you may not realize it now, but that show ring is actually preparing you for a mighty day ahead.”

“How’s that?” The son replied.

“Well son, it’s a day that will be happening very soon. On that day, everything will stop. There won’t be any more shows, concerts, games or any more activities on earth. The Lord Jesus is going to crack open the sky and make His return to His people. And Son, I hope your heart will be ready as He will sift through the hearts of men to see if we have accepted Him or not.”

The son responded, “But what does that have to do with the show ring?”

The dad answered, “Son, God is the judge. He willingly and unselfishly gave His Son to die on a cross so that we might be saved from our sin. And on that day, every knee will bow and every tongue will say that Jesus is Lord and my hope for you is you’ll be able to do what you just did in the show ring.”

“What’s that Dad?” Said the son.

The Dad responsed, “I hope on that day and every day until then, that you Don’t Forget to Thank the Judge.”

ThankTheJudge #ShowingLivestock #exhibitthefaith #Livestock

May They Find Us Faithful

Today April, Bella, and I went to a giant yard sale. I guess you could say our hours of watching American Pickers and Antique Roadshow comes in handy from time to time. At this particular yard sale, there was more than your typical clothes and Converse Shoes. There were tables filled with books, gloves, containers, mugs, and more! If you thought of it, they probably had it. There were so many cool items from the past as if a time machine filled with collectibles had exploded in the yard.

I asked the lady taking the money for the items where all these things came from. She told me a family member had just passed away and they were downsizing his estate having lived a very long life.

I walked away thinking about all the things that were laying in the yard. It told a story of a fascinating life once lived. All the collectibles and cool antiques reminded us of how cool this guy must have been. However, as attractive and eye catching as these earthly things are, not one of these items will get you into eternity with Jesus.

You’ve more than likely heard the saying, “You’ll never see a U-Haul behind a hurse.” It’s true! But I do believe you can leave foot prints on a heart by living a life that speaks of Christ.

The next generation is watching what we do and what we say. What will they find of us after we’ve gone to Glory? I hope as the singer Steve Green once sang, “They Find Us Faithful”. Faithful to our families, our church, and most of all, to our God.

And if American Pickers or Antique Roadshow ever found something like that, it would be worth more than any money the shows could offer. Let’s not be so concerned with our stuff, but instead, let’s be concentrated on our Savior! #FindUsFaithful

The Church’s New Normal

To every Pastor, Deacon, and Church Leader,

Being tasked with the decision of when the appropriate time to open your church in the post-COVID-19 world can be very difficult. Please know you are being prayed for in your decision making as to when is best for you and your church body. A comment was made to me saying, “Brandon, I just can’t wait for the church to get back to normal.”

I knew what this person meant, but I have to disagree.
Normal does not breed revival.
Normal does not win souls.
Normal does not fill the altars.
Normal does not tug at the heart of the congregate.
Normal does not implore the presence of Heaven here on Earth.
Normal does not usher in the Holy Spirit.

We need the Church to reach a New Normal across the globe.

Before COVID-19, the latest statistics from Gallup said that 6 out 10 churches were declining in attendance in 2020.

Further stats showed, only 12% of Americans claimed to read their bible once a week.

But the New Normal is coming:

During the COVID-19 season,

Facebook Live crashed in the first week due to so many churches sharing the gospel.

According to Gallup, 19% of Americans interviewed between March 28 and April 1 said their faith improved as a result of the crisis.

According to Gallup, 49% of churches in America are experiencing growth in reach, salvations, and online attendance.

I pray that the church of the Living God never goes back to normal, but arrives at a new normal.

Pastor, Deacon, and Church Leaders, let us pray that God will usher in a new era of normal into His people. That we would see a greater unction in the pulpit and more power in the pew. Let us not go back, but go forward in Christ.

Let the New Normal Begin,

Brandon, a broken and messed up Christian

It’s Ok to Put Your Hands Up

“Bella. Put your hands up.”

Whenever April and I notice our daughter fussing in her car seat, jumper, or chair, we usually say those words: “Bella, put your hands up.”

Hoping she will make the connection that by her reaching towards us she communicates she wants to exit from her current situation. Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase: “Put your hands up” in an old detective show when they catch the criminal. It’s a signal of surrender. It signifies I’m giving up. I’m not resisting anymore. I’m not running anymore. I’m all yours.

Such is a moving parallel between us and our walk with God. Something I’ve been realizing in my relationship with Christ is in my personal chaos and discomfort I want to conquer my own problems. I want to succeed at my own plans. I want to resist when God wants me to release. This is the war between carnality and the Spirit. What we surrender to we become servants to. When we give into our wants we become a servant to flesh. But when we give into God we become a servant of Him.

So tonight, instead of saying “Bella, put your hands up.” I am going to declare something different.

If you are in depression, put your hands up.
If you are in a storm, put your hands up.
If you are in anxiety, put your hands up.
If you feel lost, alone, unloved, put your hands up.
If you feel like the world is caving in on you, then put your hands up.
If you have been serving your flesh, instead of the spirit, then put your hands up.
If you have been at war with sin and are ready to surrender your life to Christ, then put your hands up.

Folks, when we put our hands up to God we are giving a signal of surrender. As you pray tonight, make the decision to say, “Lord, I’m not resisting you anymore. I’m not running from you anymore. In fact, I’m all yours.”

SignalofSurrender #BibleDevotional #PutYourHandsUp

“The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.” -2 Peter 3:9 (HCSB)

Creating Your FFA Travel Bag

As my wife and I headed to visit her folks for the evening, I quickly packed a travel bag for an over night trip. As I went to grab it, the words FFA on the top brought everything in perspective. FFA has been my literal Travel Bag, because this organization has opened many doors and I’ve carried so many FFA memories through them. It seemed weird, for many of the past years, I’ve spent this very week at the Oklahoma State FFA Convention with thousands of members, Ag Teachers, and sponsors. It felt very strange not attending the convention nor seeing my former state officer teammates at the State Officer Reunion Banquet. To some folks, FFA might sound like a foreign thought, but my experiences in this organization shaped largely who I am today as well as many others. However, although the State FFA Convention is a huge moment in an FFA member’s career, I’ve learned that the FFA is not just an event, it’s a group of people.

A group of people who:

-Advocate for Agriculture
-Serve beyond themselves
-Speak with information, persuasion, and passion
-Build friendships at the local, state, and national levels.
-Prepare for global impact
-Receive quality instruction and education from quality Agricultural Educators
-Learn how to be dependable and responsible
-Equip to be experience career success.
-Will Go the Extra Mile for Others
-Come Together for a Common Good
-Inspire the next generation of leaders
-Witness incredible life changing moments in the show ring, classroom, and of course, in the times spent in the Blue Corduroy Jacket.

These are just some of the things FFA members do. Take it from an Old FFA Has-Been, if you make this organization all about you, your experience will be all about you. But, if you make it all about others, then you’ll find it to be a travel bag of joy. Although convention is not happening, the memories and connections can still happen.
~Pick up a pen and write someone in FFA a positive note.
~Pick up the phone and send someone a positive text.
~Share this post with someone and let them know how much they mean to you.

You’ll be surprised at how big of an impact you will make with just a few small gestures of service. And one day, I hope you will look back at life with your own FFA travel bag, thankful for the memories that made you who you are and the many doors you’ve carried those memories through. I’m sure thankful for the memories, the education, and the friendships. I’m a better person because of all these people. So don’t let anything from stopping you from creating your FFA Travel bag. After all, you may retire the jacket, but as leaders, we must never retire the service. #OKFFA #Convention #TheFFATravelBag #RoadToImpact

During COVID-19 Get Quarantined With God

I have a message that has been burning on my heart that I need to share:

“A burning bush drew Moses, a burning church will draw the world.” -Leonard Ravenhill 🔥🔥

Unprecedented is a word many have been using to describe the COVID-19 virus. A crisis like we have never seen before. God brought my attention to something that was also unprecedented many years ago.

Imagine there has been a crisis going on for 400 years. Your family and relatives have all been affected by it. The crisis has killed generations of your ancestors. You want to do something about it, but feel confined by your own abilities. You make mistakes in this mindset and end up fleeing the country to escape your problems.

Until one day, God gets ahold of your life. And in this moment, an unprecedented thing happens: a burning bush is on fire in front of you, but does not lose its flame or consume anything. You’ve never seen anything like it before.

You see, the person I am referring to is Moses and the Israelites were facing a crisis, not Coronavirus, but the crisis of slavery. In Exodus 3, it says that Moses was a shepherd for his father in law and then one day, God appeared to him through a burning bush just one on one. This Bush was unprecedented for many reasons, but also because it never lost it’s flame.

It was in this moment of quarantine, this moment of isolation, that God revealed to Moses his task, his purpose, and most of all, God revealed Himself as The Great I Am! Once again, it was unprecedented!

This Sunday we saw many churches blazing for God through internet, streaming, and other creative methods. It was Unprecedented! These churches all cried out to God that no matter the circumstances, God was still going to be praised by His people!

In Exodus 3 we saw a blazing bush draw Moses, but I believe truly that if this unprecedented season of revival occurs, that the blazing church of Jesus Christ will in fact draw the world unto Him!

But how do we get there? We must:

  1. Seek the Bush: Are you seeking the presence of God in your daily life?
  2. Get Quarantined with the Gospel: Don’t let anything or anyone get in between your time spent with Jesus. Spend extra time in His Word to hear His Heart.
  3. Blaze as the Bush: Allow God to use you in any outlet possible. Whether it is through Facebook Live, Instagram, calling a friend up. Be the vocal vessel God wants to use in this season to reach more people for His kingdom.

What the Israelites faced was unprecedented. What Moses saw was unprecedented, and what God has in store for His church I believe is truly unprecedented. I have no idea what God has planned during this unprecedented season of our lives. But today, we saw a glimpse of what a blazing church looks like, my prayer however is that we will be like that blazing bush and never lose our flame. #Get