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)

2019-2020 Potential Public Speaking Topics

Back by popular demand: here are the 2019-2020 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 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 and congrats tackling the number one fear in America!

1. USDA Realigning the ERS program

2. Promoting the Brand of Agriculture

3. Social Media & Agricultural Awareness

4. Vitality of Agriculture Education/Advocacy

5. Agriculture’s Role in the War on Poverty

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 Agriculture

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. How Crop Surveys Benefit Farmers & Ranchers

37. How Agriculturalists Deal With Drought or Natural Disasters.

38. Agricultural Easements: How to Legally Save Farmland

39. American Farm Bureau and the WOTUS ruling

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. Trump Administration’s positions on agriculture.

53. Leaving a Legacy

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. National FFA and Microsoft Partnership

70. Protecting Agricultural Education

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. Uncovering the USDA’s WHIP Disaster relief program

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. Warehouse Farming and the Future of Agriculture

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. The Beyond Meat Movement

103. Evolution of Hemp Farming

104. Plant Based Beef and Emerging Food technology

105. Electronic Ear Tagging in the Beef Industry

106. Impact of the African Swine Fever on Imports

107. Agriculture and the 2020 Census

108. US and Japan Tariff Agreement

109. Myths of Methane in Public Perception

110. Beef Packer Litigation and the USDA

The Chainlink Church

“If your church is on fire(for God), you will not have to advertise it.” -Rev. Leonard Ravenhill

A few weeks ago while I was speaking down in Louisiana, my wife and I took a couple backroads sight seeing on our way home. We explored and looked around at part of the country we had never seen before. On one of these back roads there were thick trees covering both sides of the road. You couldn’t see much as the road had curves and constant changes in it. We drove for what seemed like an eternity until suddenly, an old white wooden structure appeared to the side of us. We couldn’t tell what it was at first.

As we drove closer we noticed that this old abandoned building used to be a church building surrounded by rusty chain links. We stopped the car on the side of the road and snapped a photo of it. I got out of the vehicle walked to the entrance and put my hand on the rusty chain links. I took a deep breath and just absorbed the view. It fascinated me that this piece of history was so beautifully hidden. Now my wife and I have seen old church buildings before on the side of the road, but this one was different. It was like we had stepped back in time. This old run down church was no more and it made me wonder why. Why did it expire? How did it lose its spark? What made it close the doors?

Suddenly, I could feel the Lord working on my heart: “Many of my people are like this church. They are weary, run down, and empty in their hearts. In need of Me.”

My spirit trembled when I heard this, because I knew that frequently includes me. I’ve been weary, I’ve been run down, and there are times I just feel utterly empty. I desire to be fired up for God, but there are days I feel like I don’t even have a flare. The devil wants to make you think there is a chain link fence around you holding you back just like that church. But Jesus. Oh But Jesus is in the RESTORATION Business! He alone can restore what you need in your life. He can break the chains surrounding your life! He can bust a chain-link Church! He can unlock the locks the devil has been using against you. And He can bring the life, the fire, and the spark that your run down soul needs. We all stand in need of Jesus.

Let me pose this question to you:

“If Jesus was to suddenly stop on the side of the road and swing by, what would your church look like?”

“In other words, what would your life look like?”

Anything. I repeat: ANYTHING you are going through, Jesus can fix.

Whether you feel like your life is in top-notch shape spiritually or perhaps more comparable to that of this old church: restricted, empty, and run down. Maybe you are uncertain and don’t know what the status of your church is. Pastor Leonard Ravenhill put it this way, “If your church is on fire(for God), you will not have to advertise it.” The truth is that unlike this abandoned church building, we are not alone. Jesus is with us and He is willing to restore your church, restore your life, and restore your fire!

As my wife and I headed back home I could not stop thinking about the old church and what it used to represent. My ultimate hope is when people see our lives, when people see our church, there will be no question “What” we represent, and most importantly, “Who” we represent. May it always be Jesus!

#TheChainLinkChurch #JesusIsLife #Restore #BlogPost

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

-1 Peter 5:10(ESV)

Bug Guts for Jesus

“Yuck! BUG GUTS!”

As my wife and I were heading home on the road we encountered something interesting….

“Boom!” A quick flash across our windshield as a lightening bug hits our glass. April and I both looked at the windshield, “Woah! Bug guts. Yuck.” Bug guts smeared a small part of the window. Then just a few milliseconds there emerged a highly visible green streak on the window and it looked cool in the dark I have to admit, but soon that green neon flare dried out. Eventually, it along with the bug guts were no longer visible and we continued on our way. The lightening bug which caught our attention in the moment soon became a distant memory.

The point of this post is not to give you an entomology lesson, but to encourage you with a lesson God gave me through it.

You know we didn’t see the flare of the lightening bug, until we after we saw the guts of the bug. Pardon the pun, but it takes Guts to follow Jesus. It takes guts to do our part in the Kingdom of God. Perhaps you have been serving God faithfully whether through your church or community. It takes guts; it takes courage to faithfully serve God. Perhaps you have been taking time to disciple someone or show up early on Sundays to teach Sunday School. Or maybe you have been serving your church or local ministry in a different way. All these things require effort and sacrifice, they require guts of courage. However, I am reminded that through the labor, sacrifices, and energy, that through the impact of the guts, there will soon emerge a flare from it just like the lightening bug. God is going to use what you are doing to draw others to Him.

People may not always see the hard work you do behind the scenes or the time you spend on your knees in prayer, but they will eventually see the flare the comes from it through your faith. God knows everything you do. He knows all the details and knows the heart behind it. God sees the inroads to your labor and is preparing your life as a testimony to Him.

One question that I often ask people is, “How do you want to be remembered?”

Because one day we are going to hit the windshield in life and this short time will be remembered by what we did. I don’t know about you, but if there is anything I want to be remembered by in this life for it would be my relationship with Jesus. I would to do everything I can to leave a big enough flair that points people to the majesty of God. Something that catches their attention, even if for a moment, I pray that the impact of our lives reveal the reason we lived and more importantly, who we lived for. This post may seem silly, but I pray it is for someone. We are all like the bug, we each have guts to do what it takes to honor God. So may this post about bug guts serve as a reminder to us all that Jesus is worthy of all we have, do, and contribute. So let’s give Him our guts, after all, as believers, He already has our hearts. #BugGuts #GutsForJesus #Blog

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” -Galatians 6:9 (NKJV)

The Battlefield for the Soul

It was just another day in B-Baum’s car driving home from a training. Growing up in Northeast Oklahoma you’d think you have seen it all until you encounter something you have never seen before…..

As I was driving by myself I noticed a small sign covered by tree limbs which said the word, “battlefield”. It was hard to read but it grabbed my attention. I pulled my car to look closer at the sign. As I got closer I indeed confirmed that it said “battlefield turn right”. So with intrigue getting the better of me, I turned right and followed the windy road of pavement, concrete, and then dirt until I saw a sign which said, Cabin Creek Civil War Preservation. Being a history nerd, I geeked out and followed the sign. I had never seen a Civil War Battlefield before and I was exciting to see what was ahead. Soon I drove onto a tree covered path where the sun became barely visible. Then I drove over a ravine in the dirt road. As I came over the top I then saw something I had never seen before…. the Civil War Battlefield of Cabin Creek.

I parked my car and quietly stepped out. As I walked around, I noticed it was one of the quietest places I had ever been to. Something about it seemed hallowed. I noticed the markings and memorials that had been put on the field to remember those who had died so many years ago. The markers were very old, but they told a story of a hard fought battle between the Confederate and Union Armies.

As I continued to walk around the battlefield and saw the markers of those soldiers who had died, an overwhelming feeling came over me. The Holy Spirit spoke to me through a thought, “I wonder how many of these soldiers knew who Jesus was.” Being in that setting and taking it all in, the Lord made me realize that we all are called to a battlefield. It may not be a physical one, but it is indeed a battle, a battle for souls. The Devil is fighting left and right against us, but when we realize the battlefield God has called us to, we then know where God wants us to be. For some, your battlefield might be your school, for others it might be your work. God is placing you there because He is using you in the battle for souls. He is using you to be a witness, to be a representative, to be a vessel of the Lord.

Don’t back down from the battlefield God is calling you to. How many people in your life need to know about Jesus and have yet to hear? They are on our battlefield and need to hear the Gospel. There are people you are meant to minister to and share Christ with. We must share, we must keep pressing on and pursuing the Victory God has in store! He is calling us all to be engaged in a battle. A battle for eternity. At times it may look dark and gloomy or feel like our witness does not work, but thankfully, we serve a God who fights and always wins our battles. Ask yourself these questions,

“Where is my battlefield?”

“Who is God calling me to minister to while I’m on my battlefield?”

“What is God teaching me while I’m on my battlefield?”

As I drove away from the battlefield, I left with a greater appreciation for the Civil War, but also with a reminder that we all play a part in the battle for eternity. And even though things get tough, I am assured to know that the God of Heaven and Earth is right there on the battlefield with us. As the singer Chris Tomlin put it, “I know who goes before me, I know who stands behind. The God of Angel Armies is always by my side.” Although the Civil War is over, the battle for the eternity of souls is still on. Let’s not be idle in the fight, but let’s run with endurance knowing that the God who is fighting our battles has already won the war! #TheBattlefield #CivilWar #FightMyBattles #History

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

-Romans 8:31 (ESV)