Today I was told by someone, “May the Fourth be with you?” I laughed as I knew what the reference was to—-Star Wars. I’ve never been into the movie series much, but I do honestly hope the Fourth is with you today. I’m not talking about a Star Wars reference or some Yoda expression. I’m talking about the Fourth!
There was a time when 3 men were cast into a giant fiery furnace for not bowing down to a King. They refused to bow down to anyone other than their Heavenly King. Their refusal led to removal from the King and sent into a burning fire. But even as the very people who cast them into the fire died due to the excessive heat, they went in and soon were accompanied by a FOURTH Man!
They remained in the fire unscathed. They didn’t even smell like smoke. They should have been killed in the fire, but the FOURTH was with them!
The King who sentenced them abruptly stood up and said, “Didn’t I cast 3 men into the Fire? Well now, I see 4, and one looks like the Son of God!”
The Fourth is the Son of God! He shows up in the fire. He is present in your need. He is even withstanding the flames of the enemy for you and His presence always brings about a reaction, even from those who may try to persecute you!
Remember this: God will never lead you through something that He can’t bring you out of!
So it’s May the 4th and I pray today and every day of your life this simple prayer:
“MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU!”
Glory to His Name! #maythe4thbewithyou #JesusSaves #HeIsWithYou
I had a dream last night. Some may question the dream, but I can tell you vividly this is what I saw.
My family and I received a letter in the mail that all churches in America were to start meeting together, regardless of denomination. Baptists, Assemblies of God, Nazarene, and every other denomination were coming together as one. Also stated in this letter was the fact, that we would be joined by people fleeing from other countries to America in hopes of religious freedom.
When we got to the mega church filled with all these people, we saw each American church denomination represented. The worship music had begun and I watched our American churches. Some sang in worship with very little volume. Some with very little joy, with very little victory. Some even yawned in fatigue from standing. Others were sitting down sleeping in the seats in the midst of worship. Then the worship leader cried out, “Does anyone love Jesus?”
Crickets and yawns from many of the American crowd.
But then I heard the loudest voice, “WE DO!! Oh I how we love Jesus!!” I looked to where the voice was coming from. It was from the front row, where a line of people were praising God with everything within them. They yelled, they jumped, they wept, and they cried, “Oh Jesus, we are free! Oh Jesus, we are free!”
In the dream, I saw one of the front rowers stand up and say, “In our country, worshipping Jesus is illegal. But now we are in America, we are finally free to worship Him!”
Their fire was admirable. Their desire to worship was convicting to my heart. Their passion was what we needed
Could it be that this unreal dream reveals a very real truth?
Could it be that since we live in our country where there is a church on every corner, we have become desensitized to the moving of God’s heart?
Could it be that we have basked in so many blessings, that we have heard the Gospel so many times, that instead of having an outcry for God, we instead see crickets from many congregations?
Some of you will read this and keep scrolling. Others may be convicted like myself. After all, I do believe one day, every person will stand before God, and I dream that He will be able to look at all of our lives, and see some front row Christians who have a passionate outcry for Him, instead of a congregation that’s filled with crickets from the crowd! Ask God to fill with you a burden for lost souls, a renewed freedom to worship, an outcry in your heart, and a spark for His Kingdom!
Whether you agree with this post or not, don’t mind me. I’m just dreaming.
The word “Underdog” is defined as a competitor thought to have no chance of winning a fight or contest.
Many folks including myself can relate to that word-underdog. And right now, there’s a basketball team that was seeded #15 in the NCAA Basketball Tournament and is now competing in the Sweet 16. Underdog, that’s the word they’ve been called by many of the media too.
I remember when I was a boy riding in the car with my parents in Tulsa, we would drive by that college that’s now in the Sweet 16. It’s name is Oral Roberts University. I always thought the buildings looked cool and the prayer tower was powerful as the fire was burning at the top of it. I wanted my faith to be like that flame. But what struck me the most, was seeing the giant statue of the Praying Hands at the front of the college. It was a statement. Prayer, that’s another thing underdogs can identify with. We know what it’s like to live on one.
In fact, if you’ve followed the news this week, you’ll notice that many of the media think this ORU Basketball team has been living on a prayer and also due to their upholding of Christian beliefs, many in the media have asked the team be banned from the rest of the tournament. What a platform the Oral Roberts Men’s Basketball Team now has to not only hold fast to their prayers, but to show the world why standing up for their faith in God speaks louder than a statue.
It’s no secret the world has been moving to usher in the Cancel Culture. We shun people for not fitting in a certain societal agenda. We have cancelled everything from cartoon characters, food labels, books, toy figures, sports teams, and more! And now the world is trying to cancel a basketball team for standing for biblical truth. Oh Help us Lord!
But as we’ve sparred over cancelling Dr. Seuss, Mr. Potato Head, and whatever comes next, we’ve allowed filthy shows to fill our TV screens. We’ve allowed profanity to consume our vocabulary. We’ve allowed our phones to be irreplaceable and our church attendance to be utterly dismal. We’ve allowed our Texting Plan to be Unlimited, but our Prayer Plan to be Limited. We’ve allowed ourselves to follow what makes us happy, instead following the Only One who can make us Holy!
I’ve shed a few tears as I’ve written this tonight, because I am convicted too. I’ve realized that we are all just like the ORU Men’s Basketball Team: an underdog, who has no chance of winning in the world’s eyes. But what makes the underdog successful isn’t what stats are in the books, or how many jump shots ORU can make. ORU can win the entire tournament and still lose eternity. Instead, the only way the underdog can win, is through Jesus Christ alone. Because even the world thought Jesus had no chance of winning, but then 3 days later, He won it all!!!
We should all want to be like the ORU Basketball Team! I hope that as this “Cancel Culture” steps closer to us, that the world will see our strong faith, our rising flame for God, and our praying hands, and because of what they see, they will say, “Let’s ban them.” I want my faith to be so big, that the world wants me banned. Because they can ban you on social media, they can ban you from sports, they can ban you from competing in an NCAA Tournament, but brother and sister, they cannot ban your faith! Keep your faith alive in Jesus’s Name, no matter what! Even though the Sweet 16 is sure sweet, it cannot compare to the sweetness of knowing Jesus and getting the chance to honor Him! Thank the Lord He doesn’t give up on Underdogs! Go Golden Eagles! Stand firm in your faith. Through that, you are bringing home more than a title, you are bringing glory to God’s Name! Praise the Lord! #ORU #GoldenEagles #NCAA #Underdogs #PrayingHands 🙏
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”
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
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
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!
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 email@example.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
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.”
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
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.