Free Stuff For Freedom

When the founders of our country envisioned America, they envisioned a land of freedom. But somewhere down the road we have turned “land of freedom” into the “land of free stuff”.
For example, last night during the Democratic Presidential Debate you heard things offered such as:

-Free Healthcare

-Free Tuition

-Free Childcare

-Free Subsidies

-The list of free stuff offered goes on and on.

But will the American people compromise their personal freedoms for personal free stuff?
If you look up the word freedom in the dictionary it says, “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.”

The truth is freedom is never free. It has always come with a cost. Or in this case, an undetermined, but financially strapping cost. The candidates know that if they promise enough free stuff it will get the American people to surrender their power. How? Well someone has to pay for all the free things, and they will tell you the government is paying for it.
However, we must firmly recognize that there is no such thing as government funded, without it first being taxpayer funded. The democracy of government is both powerless financially and structurally without the voice and the wallet of the taxpayer. By accepting the offers of these free things we are giving the government control. I doubt our founders wanted our country to be known as the land of free stuff, but with so many candidates offering so much, the questions at large are:

Will we trade our freedom for free stuff? Will we give up our power for possessions? Will we say no to the democratic socialists and say our freedoms are not for sale? Answer these questions wisely, because the future of America’s republic rests on our response. #FreeStuffForFreedom #Debate

I am Agravatted. Emphasis on AG.

Dear Mike Bloomberg,

I am aggravated. Aggravated with your recent comments. The ones dealing with the first two letters of that very word: Ag. You recently said that it would not take much gray matter to be a farmer. As I’m sure you know, your comments created an uproar of reactions from across the country and thus, a significant reason why I am addressing you.

Agriculture is the backbone of this country. Without the food and fiber industry, we could not function. Imagine going to a restaurant, but there is no food to order. Imagine going to the clothing store, only to find there are no clothes available. Imagine all the items that are considered “Ag” products and what our country would look like. You might think this a hyperbolic exercise, but it reveals a daunting truth: without the sweat of the farmer, without the industry of agriculture, without the toil of the soil, our country would in fact be hungry, naked, and afraid because of the consequences of a vanishing Ag industry. You might think that it takes less gray matter in the farming profession, but nothing could be further from the truth. Truly, the cost of innovation is the yielding of change and the effort to think more critically, which I would caution you to do before making these comments.

However, I do not hold you in total responsibility of your comments. Actually, it served as an epiphany for me. Your comments cracked into an underlying problem that we have today. And that problem is: the lack of Ag Literacy. The ugly truth is many folks don’t understand agriculture, where their food comes from, and fail to see the gigantic value of the industry as a whole. The issue is even bigger than you and your campaign sir.

If anything your comments have motivated me as they should motivate every agriculturalist in America. I’m even more aggravated at this big picture problem. We should be telling the story of agriculture more. We should be engaging others in the process of agriculture more. We should be educating the public about the high cost of forgetting this formidable industry more. And we should be communicating the reasons why being in agriculture is an intelligent profession. Because feeding the world with less land mass year after year does require innovative thinking.

Now, Mayor Bloomberg, I admit you may never read this post, but I sure hope it causes people to get Aggressive in their messaging. Emphasis on Ag. Not in violence or hatred, but aggressive in boldness of sharing the story of agriculture and why it is so important. Because one day, there will be another presidential election, and in that year I hope that we won’t have a candidate who writes off farmers, but instead applauds farmers and believes in the blooming industry of agriculture. The future is in all of our hands. May we get aggravated, agitated, and aggressive in telling the world about what Ag is all about.

Tell The Story,

Brandon, An Ag Enthusiast

#Agriculture #FightingForTheFuture #MikeBloomberg

Don’t Give Up on God’s Crop

As a speaker who both speaks and preaches you come to the realization that much of the work you do is like a farmer. You are constantly planting seeds hoping they will take root in people’s lives and produce for the Kingdom. You don’t always see people respond immediately to a message, altar call, or testimonial. We live in a world that is all about instant results, however, I’m a firm believer that God is always working on hearts even if we don’t see it in the moment. Many people might be surprised by this next statement, but the two biggest battles of depression I fight is normally right before I speak and then directly after I speak. The enemy always wants you to be discouraged at what may look like a dismal crop in the present, but last I checked faith is not just for the present crop; it’s for the future of the crop as well. No matter how many people come forward or step up to respond we must remember that FRUIT IS FRUIT and that every life matters no matter how big the invitation might be. Whether it is 100 or 1, God is at work. As believers we must never give up on the crop God is growing in the moment and throughout eternity.

I was reminded of this lesson as I preached at the Oklahoma Junior Swine Association Show in Cushing. I saw God work in an incredible way! We saw 4 people invite Jesus Christ into the heart as their personal Lord and Savior!! Praise God for His Hand at work in 2020! One of the parents even said, “Sir, I got up this morning praying that God would save at least one person today.” And Jesus answered the prayer!

After the service was over, I was heading out to my car, when I was stopped by a high school student at the barn door. She recognized me and said, “Brandon, thank you for preaching today. I’ve actually heard you before. You preached at one of my first pig shows when I was in 4-H.”

At this point my heart was racing as I couldn’t recall seeing this student before. She then said, “It was back in like 2014 and you asked us to come to the show ring if we wanted to ask Jesus into our hearts.”

Then I remembered that message and doing that particular altar call. I also remembered nobody came forward. “Oh yes, I remember that service.” I said. The Devil was already at work in my mind as he filled me with negative thoughts about what had happened.

Then she replied, “Well, I never told you this, but that day, I heard your sermon and accepted Jesus into my heart. And I’ve never been the same person since! I got baptized, go to church, and love God!”

I was caught off guard and laughed with joy and said, “God is so good. Thanks for sharing this with me.”

With tears in my eyes, I got back in my car and headed to our church home for service. I drove back praising God for the testimony. It’s so easy to give up on the crop when we don’t see it bloom according to our own timing.

God will bring everything into fruition, we just have to be obedient and keep planting the seeds. Where the Spirit is leading, the Spirit is yielding. We just have to have the faith to believe in what God is producing for the Kingdom. Never give up on God’s crop, know that the fields are white, the soil is good, and the harvest will come; even if the harvest consists of only one. Because One always matters. #DontGiveUpOnGodsCrop #Salvation #Testimony #GodIsGood

This Thanksgiving Be Like Wheeless, Oklahoma

For many, the week of Thanksgiving is one of the most dreaded weeks of the year, especially for those in the retail industry. Black Friday has become known as the craziest day for shopping affecting both customers and employees. Although it is one of if not the most intense shopping day of the year, I believe it can also hold significant opportunities for us to show others about Jesus. That’s why I believe this Black Friday we need to be like Wheeless, Oklahoma.

“Wheeless, Oklahoma. Where on earth is that?” You might ask. If you don’t know where that is, it’s actually one of the furthest western communities in the Oklahoma Panhandle. There isn’t much there at all. In fact, my wife and I drove through there this past summer on a road trip to Black Mesa. Our GPS was taking us a different way home and from a distance you could see a small white church building in the horizon and that was it.

As we arrived to town the building we could see from a distance happened to be the old Wheeless Baptist Church. It was the very first thing we saw as we came to town. It stood out amongst the town. Now, you might be sitting there thinking, “What does this small little church in the Panhandle have to do with Black Friday?”

Well, it’s quite simple actually. When people see me, I want them to see a church. A church that stands out for God. A church that can be seen from a distance as well as up close. A church that tries to honor God even though it often fails. A church that desperately desires God. I fail so often at this and am praying for God’s strength.

As followers of Christ we are the hands and feet of Christ and how we represent Him on this earth matters. WE ARE THE CHURCH. This Black Friday we will cross paths with lots of people. Who will they see when they cross paths with you? Will they see you or will they see Jesus? Will they see a greedy customer or a gracious Christ Follower? Will we live to honor God in the shopping aisle just as much as we aim to honor him in the church pew on Sunday morning?

If you haven’t ever been to the Oklahoma Panhandle I highly recommend the trip as it is a fascinating place. But even if you never make it out, know that we as followers of Christ have something in common with the small town of Wheeless, Oklahoma. And that is the need for us to know Christ and to make Him fully known.

When people see you, what is the first thing they think of? My prayer is that others will see Christ. We do that by displaying Christlike behavior, reactions, words, and actions to everyone. None of us are perfect, but this Black Friday we can point others to our perfect God. So this week, let’s be like Wheeless, Oklahoma, and most of all, let us be like Jesus to all. #Godhelpme #BlackFriday #Thanksgiving #Wheeless #Panhandle #Oklahoma

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in Christ’s triumphal procession and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of him in every place.” -2 Corinthians 2:14 (CSB)

FFA: The Change From Corduroy

I remember it like it was yesterday, it had been a long week of interviews as 43 of us National Officer Candidates were in Louisville, Kentucky at the National FFA Convention each hoping to be announced as a member of the next National FFA Officer Team. After weeks of preparing, training, and working with mentors, the time had begun and it was time to represent the best we could highlighting the many memories in the corduroy jacket. The week had been a whirlwind and it was all coming down to the final session where the new team would be announced. Everyone in the convention center was on edge as the nominating committee chair steps up to make the breaking news. “Your New National Officer Team members are…..”

Then after the most intense moments of my life, I realized that my name….. wasn’t called. I wasn’t on the team and thus, the end of my time in FFA. I remember walking back to my hotel room and unzipping my jacket for the final time. I hung it up, never to wear it again. As I began to pack everything up, I could not help but reflect on the many positive memories I had in the organization and how it made me a better leader and team player. The positive difference my Ag Teacher made in my life and the many friendships I made throughout the way could not be more apparent to me. I realized that through my involvement in FFA, that the blue corduroy doesn’t change colors, but instead it changes lives. It certainly did for this FFA Has-Been and it will change yours too, if you let it!

This week I’ve been thinking of everyone traveling to the 92nd National FFA Convention. One thing is for certain: you don’t have to be in Indianapolis to be aware of the achievements of FFA members and Ag-Ed Instructors that will take place this week. Congrats to all those who are participating in and are about to experience the National FFA Convention. Your time in the jacket is priceless. When I took off my jacket for the last time, I wrote down 3 personal goals I challenged myself to do. After convention is over, the lights are off, and everyone goes home, challenge yourself to:

Look Up: No matter the result of your contest. Win or lose. Look up and be proud of who you are, the people you’ve represented, and the organizational jacket you wear. Share your experiences with others. Sometimes the greatest wins in life are disguised as losses in the moment. Look up because so many really do look up to you. LOOK UP

Reach Out: Whether you are a current or an Alumni member, challenge yourself with a goal to persuade at least 3 people to join and be an active member of a local FFA chapter and Ag-Ed Program. By reaching out to others we are giving back in very important way. Imagine how many people can be involved if we each committed to reaching out sharing our story with just those 3 people. I’ll let you do the math. 😉 REACH OUT

Be Thankful: Everyone of us, current or has-beens have someone to thank who inspired, drove us to events, taught us Ag-Ed, cheered us on, and comforted us when things didn’t always go our way. Be thankful for the opportunities, the memories, and the people (Ag Teacher, Parent, Sponsor, etc) who got you there. BE THANKFUL.

Once again, congrats to everyone and here’s to this life changing organization that has and will continue to make a difference in the lives of so many people. I’m so grateful for the tremendous experience I had and very excited for your experience too! You may retire the jacket, but never retire the heart behind it. Let the Blue Corduroy Change your life this week. #FFAalumni #NationalConvention

Behind Brandon Baumgarten’s New Book: The Habitat For Holiness

Behind Brandon Baumgarten’s New Book: The Habitat For Holiness

Press Release

Publisher: Westbow Press

Undersigned: Thomas Nelson/Zondervan

Author: Brandon Baumgarten

SHAWNEE, Oklahoma- Westbow Press Author Brandon Baumgarten officially launched his new book at Hazel Dell Baptist Church. The Habitat for Holiness is a book about calling all people to cultivate a Christlike lifestyle. “We have a holy Bible. We serve a Holy Lord. But I also believe we need to live as a Holy Church.” Baumgarten said. The habitat is a metaphor for our spiritual space in our lives. The book launch consisted of a highlight video, a book dedication to the late Rev. William Ryan, and concluded with Baumgarten sharing the heart of the book. “I’m such an imperfect Christian, but I know we serve a perfect God who has a perfect will for each of our lives. It starts with our daily habits. Will we choose to live a lifestyle of holiness for God?” Baumgarten’s hope through this book is to see people experiencing personal revival with the Lord by living a holy lifestyle. There are 10 sections in the book that are identified to help grow your relationship with God through holy living.

Baumgarten is a youth/music minister and also authored the popular leadership book titled “Caught Up & Called Out” He is a frequent speaker at churches, schools, and conferences. The Habitat for Holiness is available online on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and where most major books are sold. The book is also available in kindle, paperback, and hard cover formats.

The Fullness of the Father’s Heart

“You are going to be a Father!”

It was normal day in March of this year. I was scheduling some more speaking events to finalize my spring calendar. Anyone who follows public speaking knows that spring can be one of the busiest seasons. The day was normal as can be until I got a phone call from my dad that changed everything. It was right after lunch when my dad said, “Son, Uncle Bill passed away earlier this morning. I just wanted you to know He made it to Heaven.”

Immediately my heart sunk for a pillar in our family as Uncle Bill or Pastor Bill Ryan as many had known him as, had lived far into his 90s and had served the Lord with all his heart. Even though I knew where he was spending eternity at it was still a difficult loss to process. A man who meant so much to us, guided us, prayed for us, and was always pushing us closer to God had departed to His Heavenly home. I remember leaving the house and began driving up and down the road to reflect, process, and cry over a life that impacted so many including my own.

Then like clockwork April called me and asked where I was at. I told her the news of Uncle Bill and she listened and encouraged me. She then asked me to come home so we could visit about it.

I remember coming home sitting on the couch still teary eyed from the news. Then April said something I’ll never forget, “I have some news. You are Going to be a Father!”

Suddenly, the tears of sadness in my eyes turned to tears of joy. I couldn’t believe the blessing that was on the way! The Lord brought everything full circle and did what He is known for doing. We give thanks to God for His timing and blessing!

As my wife and I get ready for a life changing day tomorrow, I ask for your prayers as we prepare to meet our daughter. I can’t wait to hold her and see her for the first time! My hope is that she will know the fullness of her father’s heart, not just of me, but of her Heavenly Father. I want her to know how much she is loved and adored by an Almighty God. I want her to have everything God has in store for her. I want her to discover her calling in Christ and run with endurance to the destiny He has for her. We want her to know the Fullness of the Father’s Heart. Yes we are nervous and anxious, but this soon to be dad is resting in the Father who is Peaceful and Secure. His Name is Jesus. Do you know Him? Because as much as I’m excited to see our baby daughter tomorrow, I know our Father in Heaven is even more anxious and excited to see you, His child in His loving arms. Amen to what God has already done. Amen to what He is going to do tomorrow. And Amen to what He can do in your life. Here’s to an exciting day tomorrow and beyond! May we all experience the Fullness of the Father’s Heart. #FullnessOfTheFathersHeart #NewBlog

We are clinging to this verse:

“The LORD is the one who will go before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or abandon you. Do not be afraid or discouraged.” -Deuteronomy 31:8 (CSB)