Friday, May 20, 2022

A Pastor's Ponderings: (May 2022) Dr. Doug Stauffer, Journalist

 A Pastor's Ponderings: A Tribute to My Mom and Moms Everywhere

By Pastor Doug Stauffer
Faith Independent Baptist Church
Journalist for Bay Life Newspaper
May 2022--Article 19 (2022-05-019)




I lost my mom last Mother's Day (2021) to complications following surgery. The loss was painful, but I don't believe that future Mother's Days should become a day of sadness and mourning. Quite the opposite! I prefer to consider Mother's Day as a special tribute, remembrance, and recognition. My mom was a beloved mother of four and a treasured grandmother, great grandmother, wife, and friend.

She was born in Erding, Germany, just outside of Munich, two years before the onset of WWII. She loved to read, and the library was her home away from home. She directly impacted me with that same passion, greatly influencing my life and career. For 20 years, she and my dad were snowbird RVers.

Two months before her death, my mom and dad celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. Thankfully, my dad will spend this Mother's Day with us here in Niceville. One of the many personalized sympathy cards expressed the commonly held sentiments about my mom.

"God saw she was getting tired, and a cure was not to be,
so he put his arms around her and whispered, 'Come with me.'
With tearful eyes, I watched her suffer and saw her fade away.
Although I loved her dearly, I could not make her stay.
A golden heart stopped beating, hard-working hands to rest,
God broke my heart to prove that He only takes the best."

Truly, heart-rending words to read again! Like so many others in our communities, my mom was a military spouse, and I would be remiss not to remind everyone of their sacrifices during deployments. In 1967, my father was stationed at Andrews Air Force Base and volunteered to go to Vietnam with the 7th Air Force—1967/1968.

My 29-year-old mom was left with three pre-teen type-A boys, a new puppy and giving birth to my sister. While my dad was there, the Vietcong attacked every major city and base during the TET Offensive. I am proud of his Bronze Star, but my mom should have received the Parental Distinguished Service Medal for conspicuous gallantry. We must NEVER forget the tremendous sacrifices of those who do not wear the stars, the bars and the stripes but keep the home fires burning.

To close on a lighter note: here are seven truths my mom taught us:

1. HOW TO PRAY: After spilling grape juice on the carpet, she instructed, "You better pray the stain will come out."

2. PLAN AHEAD: "Make sure you wear clean underwear because you could be in an accident."

3. LIFE'S PARADOXES: "Keep laughing, and I'll give you something to cry about."

4. HOW TO PERSEVERE: "You'll sit there 'til all that spinach is finished."

5. SPOTTING SEVERE WEATHER PATTERNS: "It looks like a tornado swept through your room."

6. THE CIRCLE OF LIFE: "I brought you into this world, and I can take you out."

7. EMPATHY: "There are millions of less fortunate children who don't have it as good as you do!"

Pick up the phone or visit your mom this Mother's Day. Tell her that you love her because you are not guaranteed unlimited opportunities. The Bible exhorts every generation, "Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old" (Proverbs 23:22). Happy Mother's Day. 

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Raiders Win the 2021-22 National Championship! -- Coach of the Year Named; New Coach Hired (May 2022-18) Dr. Doug Stauffer, Journalist

Raiders Win the 2021-22 National Championship! -- Coach of the Year Named; New Coach Hired

By Pastor Doug Stauffer
Faith Independent Baptist Church
Journalist for Bay Life Newspaper
May 2022--Article 18 (2022-05-18)

Youth and inexperience, frequently a recipe for sports disaster, turned into a miracle in the making. Coach Greg Heiar (affectionately called GH) and his youthful Raiders overcame every obstacle. With little experience playing at the college level, the Raiders reached the pinnacle of success—their crowning as the 2022 NJCAA Men's Division I Basketball National Champions! For the third time in school history, the Northwest Florida State College Raiders men's basketball team claimed the cherished title.

The Raiders received an at-large bid to the national tournament, which meant they had to compete head-to-head against the country's top-tiered teams. Over six days, they had to win (and did win) all five games. This turnaround team consisted primarily of freshmen who had never played college basketball. They recorded 25 more wins over the previous year's 6-15 record to finish with a magnificent 31 wins and only five losses.

This team was built from scratch and described as fearless, determined, and tough. The team represents five countries on three continents. Dr. Devin Stephenson said of the program and the college, "To be the best of the best is a standard that we strive for in everything. Unrealistic expectations become the foundation for growth." Dr. Stephenson also took the opportunity to present the AIM award (Advancing Institutional Mission) to Coach Heiar and the Director of Athletics, Ramsey Ross, for their "commitment to improving lives in our community and great efforts to champion NWFSC's mission, vision and values."  

Deshawndre Washington was named the national tournament's Most Valuable Player. Washington, Brennan Rigby and Kam Woods were all named to the All-Tournament Team. Of course, GH was named Coach of the Tournament as the best bench boss at the national tournament. He was also recognized as the conference and national coach of the year. This championship is NWFSC's first men's national title since 2015. Soon after the win, Coach Heiar accepted a position as head coach at New Mexico State. So, how does the future look for men's basketball? Glad you asked!

Guess who is returning to take over the reins? Yes, the coach of the 2015 National Championship team. Coach Steve DeMeo was the Raider's head coach from 2013 to 2019, with an astonishing 170-27 record. During those six years, NWFSC was the winningest JUCO men's program. During his tenure at NWFSC, Coach DeMeo's teams won five Panhandle Conference titles, four FCSAA state championships, three national final four appearances, and in 2015, the NJCAA National Championship. Under his leadership, the Raiders also made three Elite Eight appearances and a 2017 Final Four appearance. The future? Shining like the sun!

Dr. Stephenson commented on Coach DeMeo’s return: "We are pleased to welcome back Coach DeMeo as the men's head basketball coach."  "Northwest Florida State College strives to produce the best student-athletes in this region by providing them with the support, leadership, and resources they need to excel on and off the court. We are confident that they will continue to develop and succeed under Coach DeMeo's leadership and are excited to see what is in store for them next season."

Ramsey Ross voiced the same sentiments: "Our College feels incredibly fortunate to have Coach DeMeo lead our men's basketball program again. His previous tenure here was extraordinary, and we could not be more excited to see what awaits in the next chapter. It was important to us to sustain the tremendous momentum of our men's basketball program from this past season, and we feel bringing Coach DeMeo back to the Raider community does just that." You can become a part of Raider Nation too. 



Read the newspaper (page19)




Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Golden Anniversary 919th SOW (May 2022-17) Dr. Doug Stauffer, Journalist

Golden Anniversary: 919th Special Operations Wing

By Pastor Doug Stauffer
Faith Independent Baptist Church
Journalist for Bay Life Newspaper
May 2022--Article 17 (2022-05-17)

They say blood runs thicker than water, but I witnessed what happens when colleagues choose to create an enduring bond. With its many branches, this extended family of the 919th Special Operations Wing (SOW) showed the heights achieved through genuine solidarity. I had the distinct pleasure of interacting with one of Okaloosa County's largest families. While they are not literal siblings, they are affectionately known as "America's Citizen Air Commandos." The future is bright because we have men and women willing to serve and sacrifice without much recognition. At the outset, may I express a heartfelt thanks to the 919th SOW from each of us?

One word encapsulates this unit: Camaraderie—I sensed this truth at the informal family Wing Day and the formal anniversary banquet. Yet, these two events hardly scratch the surface of who they are and what they mean to all Americans. The close bonds extend from top to bottom—starting with the Wing Commander throughout the entire organization.

They sacrifice to support the nation's defences at home and at distant points around the globe. The Wing Commander is Colonel Jason Grandy. He stated that "We perform thirteen unique missions and serve as the only Reserve Wing with such a diverse mission. We pride ourselves as quiet professionals; we do not work for the praise, but we want to do a good job because that is what we do. The human capital in our Wing is exceptional." Like most true professionals, he leads by example.

The 919th Special Operations Wing, located at Eglin Air Force Base Field 3 (Duke Field), is the only special operations Wing in the Air Force Reserve. The Wing supports the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) and the Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC). Its taskings include operations, maintenance, security forces, civil engineering, communications, logistics, supply, transportation services and personnel functions. As Colonel Grandy mentioned, it is the most diverse Wing in the Air Force Reserve Command, performing 13 unique missions.

There are approximately 1,700 members assigned to the 919th Special Operations Wing. Over 1,400 of those are part-time reservists. The Air Reserve Technicians (ARTs) provide the full-time continuity and support to keep the units and members combat-ready. ARTs carry dual status as full-time civil service employees for the U.S. Air Force and participate as reservists. More than 300 ARTs and 47 civilians support the Wing in day-to-day operations.

As the only special operations unit in the Air Force Reserve, the unit has supported Operation Just Cause, Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Operation Uphold Democracy, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn. The 919th Security Forces Squadron was the first Air Force Reserve unit to be activated to support Operation Enduring Freedom.

Family Wing Day: The Niceville Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce partnered with Duke Field to celebrate its 50th Anniversary. The Chamber's business community donated the funds to provide free "Nice-cream" from Dippin' Dots for the attendees of Family Day. Tricia Brunson, President and CEO of the Niceville Valparaiso Chamber, expressed her appreciation for the 919th with the following comment.

"The mission of Duke Field is to serve, protect and defend our nation. Its proximity to us makes it an integral part of our local economy. They are our friends and neighbors. Their children are students in our schools; their spouses fill employment needs for our businesses, while many reservists work full-time jobs within our community. The 919th Special Operations Wing has been there for us for 50 years, standing ready to keep us safe and our nation strong. They provide us peace of mind while we provide them with a sense of home—a signature asset of Okaloosa County."

The 50th Anniversary Banquet: "50 Years of Valor" was the theme for the evening as the 919th SOW wrapped up the weekend of celebrations with a formal gala. Lt. Colonel James Wilson, the 919th Chief of Public Affairs, said, "The 919th Special Operations Wing is one of the most decorated units in the Reserve. Since the unit's activation in 1971, Reservists from Duke Field have earned 20 Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards for organizational excellence. Today's standards are closely tied to those pioneers who established the Air Force Reserve's presence at Duke Field more than 50 years ago. This weekend is our opportunity to honor and thank them for showing us what it means to be the 'Best of the Best.'"

Retirees, former commanders, current leaders and everyone in attendance enjoyed reminiscing and learning about the rich history and mission of Duke Field.  Major General Richard S. "Beef" Haddad gave an inspirational speech. Community leaders, Jerry Williams, President/CEO of Eglin Federal Credit Union (EFCU) and the Military Affairs Chair, Teresa Halverson, expressed gratitude for our local military.

The late Brig. Gen. Donald Haugen, the 919th's founding member, created the 919th Tactical Airlift Group in 1971. Judy Haugen is considered the First Lady of the 919th. She is the mother of retired Lt. Colonel Brian Haugen of the Taylor Haugen Foundation. The evening wrapped up by highlighting several annual award winners from the 919th, with Colonel Grandy bringing the closing remarks. 

I caught up with EFCU's Jerry Williams, a major supporter of the anniversary celebrations like so many other community events. "Our loyalty to the military stems from the fact that EFCU's exists because of the military. The credit union was birthed in 1954 because of the military institutions in this area. Many of our employees have worked for the credit union while serving in the Reserve at the 919th. Presently we have two employees in the 919th—they are serving our members one day and our country the next. We are honored to play a small part in such a magnificent endeavor."

Did you know that Niceville Mayor Henkel is a retired Air Commando? The next time you see him, be sure to express your sincere appreciation for his service.



Read the newspaper (page 1 and 2)









Tuesday, April 12, 2022

A Pastor's Ponderings: (April 2022) Dr. Doug Stauffer, Journalist

 A Pastor's Ponderings: Called to be Resurrection Witnesses

By Pastor Doug Stauffer
Faith Independent Baptist Church
Journalist for Bay Life Newspaper
April 2022--Article 16 (2022-04-016)

Easter or Resurrection Sunday? So, why a distinction? Some believers refer to Easter as Resurrection Sunday, and for good reason. The Christian's blessed hope resides in two stages: 1. Christ's resurrection from death, hell, and the grave almost two thousand years ago. 2. The resurrection of believers when we unite with Him.

 Interestingly, the Bible refers to Easter only once. "Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And when he had apprehended (Peter), he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people (Acts 12:1-4 KJV). This pagan king (Herod) planned on waiting until he celebrated Easter to kill another Christian.

I have never seen the resurrected Christ, but by faith, I know that one day I will meet Him face-to-face. I know this because the Bible tells me so, but far too many people have never heard. I speak this to my shame because God gives believers the power to be His witnesses. "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me" (Acts 1:8a).

Believing the gospel requires faith, and the resurrection is one aspect of the gospel consisting of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel…By which also ye are saved…how that Christ died for our sins…And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day" (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). The gospel that saves is simply someone believing (and trusting) in Christ's atoning sacrifice: trusting in His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

We are to be witnesses. Judas Iscariot betrayed the Lord for thirty pieces of silver. After his betrayal, he took his own life, and a replacement had to be chosen. I want us to consider the charge for his replacement: one must be ordained to witness or preach Christ's resurrection, "from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection (Acts 1:22b). Every believer is given this same charge—to be His witness.

Peter repeatedly testified that all the believers were witnesses of Christ's resurrection. "This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses" (Acts 2:32). "And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses" (Acts 3:15). The Bible sums it up: "And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus (Acts 4:33a).

 "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. 31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him" (Acts 5:30-32). 

Paul testifying the same truth. "But God raised him from the dead: 31 And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people" (Acts 13:30-31).

So…Happy Resurrection Day! Be a witness to a world desperately looking for hope, desperately looking for answers. Keep looking up for our redemption draweth nigh.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Commissioner's Prayer Breakfast One of a Kind (March 2022-3) Dr. Doug Stauffer, Journalist

Commissioner's Prayer Breakfast One of a Kind

By Pastor Doug Stauffer
Faith Independent Baptist Church
Journalist for Bay Life Newspaper
March 2022--Article 15 (2022-03-015)

Okaloosa County and the city of Niceville were blessed to have a rare visit from the Lieutenant Governor. It was my distinct honor to host Lt. Governor Nuñez at the Niceville Senior Center with twenty varied Okaloosa County Representatives. The gathering was intended to introduce the Lt. Governor to Niceville and Niceville to the Lt. Governor.  

The Lt. Governor gave a great speech and mentioned how she fully supported the Governor's policies and positions, including election integrity, critical race theory, cancel culture, and preserving religious liberties. She also supported his positions regarding K-12 education, vaccine mandates and passports, etc. She stood firm in not allowing the egregious government overreach forced by other governors upon their constituents.

Big government, by design, increases the citizens' dependence upon the government. This administration determined not to use the pandemic to intensify a crisis and increase government control over businesses, education, healthcare and families in the state of Florida.

The Lt. Governor also mentioned the small margin of victory in the 2018 gubernatorial election—less than 33,000 votes. She sounded the clarion call for Floridians to understand that your vote matters and every vote counts. In Florida, we learned how much elections matter and that things could have been very different (during Covid) if the election had swung in the other direction. She cautioned us not to take our basic constitutional liberties for granted, a message that did not fall on deaf ears.

Dr. Mike Mosley, Rocky Bayou Christian School superintendent, said the Lt. Governor's speech charged his batteries. Dr. Mosley mentioned her comments on job creation, maintaining low taxes, protecting our water quality and the environment, and bettering our education system. As a lifelong K-12 educator, he appreciated the administration's position on in-person school because children need more than a Zoom education. Florida will have a competitive advantage in the future over the states that have lost two years of quality schooling. History will judge this administration's decisions as some of the most critical choices made during one of history's most significant times.

From 2010-2018, Lt. Governor Nuñez served in the Florida House of Representatives, also serving as speaker pro tempore for her final two years in office. She is a businesswoman who served in several healthcare industry capacities. She also worked for FIU (Florida International University) as an adjunct professor and advisor. When the world turned upside down in March of 2020, none of us could have imagined how important her background would be.

The Lt. Governor said she appreciated the educational and spiritual investment her parents made. "Looking back, I've learned that God was putting me in the right place to have experiences and knowledge for what was to be my future. I say this because as a fully devoted follower of Christ, the beliefs and values instilled in me at a young age have shaped me, laying the groundwork for the type of faithfulness I would need in this line of work."

The Lt. Governor mentioned her favorite verse as Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."



Read the newspaper (page 8) 


Commissioner Mel Ponder

Dr. Mike Mosley

Sheriff Eric Aden

Dr. Devin Stephenson



Sunday, April 10, 2022

Lt. Governor Nunez Visits Niceville (March 2022-2) Dr. Doug Stauffer, Journalist

Lt. Governor Nunez Visits Niceville

By Pastor Doug Stauffer
Faith Independent Baptist Church
Journalist for Bay Life Newspaper
March 2022--Article 14 (2022-03-014)

Okaloosa County and the city of Niceville were blessed to have a rare visit from the Lieutenant Governor. It was my distinct honor to host Lt. Governor Nuñez at the Niceville Senior Center with twenty varied Okaloosa County Representatives. The gathering was intended to introduce the Lt. Governor to Niceville and Niceville to the Lt. Governor.  

The Lt. Governor gave a great speech and mentioned how she fully supported the Governor's policies and positions, including election integrity, critical race theory, cancel culture, and preserving religious liberties. She also supported his positions regarding K-12 education, vaccine mandates and passports, etc. She stood firm in not allowing the egregious government overreach forced by other governors upon their constituents.

Big government, by design, increases the citizens' dependence upon the government. This administration determined not to use the pandemic to intensify a crisis and increase government control over businesses, education, healthcare and families in the state of Florida.

The Lt. Governor also mentioned the small margin of victory in the 2018 gubernatorial election—less than 33,000 votes. She sounded the clarion call for Floridians to understand that your vote matters and every vote counts. In Florida, we learned how much elections matter and that things could have been very different (during Covid) if the election had swung in the other direction. She cautioned us not to take our basic constitutional liberties for granted, a message that did not fall on deaf ears.

Dr. Mike Mosley, Rocky Bayou Christian School superintendent, said the Lt. Governor's speech charged his batteries. Dr. Mosley mentioned her comments on job creation, maintaining low taxes, protecting our water quality and the environment, and bettering our education system. As a lifelong K-12 educator, he appreciated the administration's position on in-person school because children need more than a Zoom education. Florida will have a competitive advantage in the future over the states that have lost two years of quality schooling. History will judge this administration's decisions as some of the most critical choices made during one of history's most significant times.

From 2010-2018, Lt. Governor Nuñez served in the Florida House of Representatives, also serving as speaker pro tempore for her final two years in office. She is a businesswoman who served in several healthcare industry capacities. She also worked for FIU (Florida International University) as an adjunct professor and advisor. When the world turned upside down in March of 2020, none of us could have imagined how important her background would be.

The Lt. Governor said she appreciated the educational and spiritual investment her parents made. "Looking back, I've learned that God was putting me in the right place to have experiences and knowledge for what was to be my future. I say this because as a fully devoted follower of Christ, the beliefs and values instilled in me at a young age have shaped me, laying the groundwork for the type of faithfulness I would need in this line of work."

The Lt. Governor mentioned her favorite verse as Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."













Saturday, April 9, 2022

Trey Gowdy: Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (March 2022-1) Dr. Doug Stauffer, Journalist

Trey Gowdy: Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

By Pastor Doug Stauffer
Faith Independent Baptist Church
Journalist for Bay Life Newspaper
March 2022--Article 13 (2022-03-013)

Northwest Florida State College President Devin Stephenson is a visionary with purposeful determination. His caliber of speakers for the "President's Speaker Series" reflects his keen leadership and focus. I consider Dr. Stephenson to be a persuasive communicator in his own right.

Most people have heard the cliché that "You get what you pay for." Frequently, a true statement indeed, unless someone else foots the bill and invites you to come. This speaker series is FREE to the public, and Trey Gowdy packed the Mattie Kelly Arts Center with an eager, enthusiastic crowd. 

When someone mentions Trey Gowdy, people tend to have opinions of him at opposite ends of an ever-widening spectrum. They generally admire him greatly or vociferously criticize him. Unfortunately, this is the political climate of twenty-first-century America. No matter, Trey poured out his heart, humbly baring his soul to a spellbound audience.

Trey started his message with amusing quips and stories that ingratiated him to his audience, but his innate passion showed as things turned serious. The audience sat on the edge of their seats, wondering what was coming next. Trey revealed himself as someone not ready to yank America's life support from its socket. Instead, he believes that America needs to rediscover who we are, where we are going, and how to get where we need to be.

Granted, we are a politically divided country with red and blue sides more willing to shout things out than attempt to understand what drives the passions of the other side. Trey pointed out that every day carries the sense of it being like election day. So few people are forging relationships outside their sphere of fellow cheerleaders. He urged his audience to display an uncommon form of grace to bring us closer together.

Trey frequently transitioned to talk about his family and good friend and co-author, Senator Tim Scott. They developed a close bond as they spent many eating opportunities together at the Capitol Hill Club. Trey told the audience of Senator Scott's upbringing with his grandfather, who picked cotton and never learned to read. Yet, his grandfather believed in the power of knowledge and the magic of education, and he thought these things would make a difference in his grandson's future. His grandfather raised a grandson who became a United States Senator and author of a New York Times #1 Best Seller.

Trey mentioned meeting his wife through a church youth group and travelling and the importance of faith, sometimes shaken by his life experiences. His early career included prosecuting the worst criminals and how these interactions took their toll mentally, spiritually and physically. Like many politicians, Trey Gowdy left his hometown of Spartanburg, South Carolina, for our country's capital to make a difference. If you watch his famous social media sound bites, he comes across as a skilled prosecutor interrogating political adversaries. In person, he also comes across as genuine and caring.

After one hour of clearly articulating his thought-provoking speech, the last question pinpointed how this master of persuasion had moved many juries to agree with him beyond a reasonable doubt. He was asked why he was advocating compromise, although he never alluded to compromising with whom you disagree. Absent a court reporter to retrace his words; interrogator Gowdy kicked into overdrive to reiterate that he promoted dialogue—persuasion over argument. He encouraged sincere communication with empathy, not a win-at-any-costs methodology.

Trey never alluded to compromising one's beliefs. Instead, he pled for people to search for common ground. He encouraged practising the art of persuasion rather than using insults as a means of self-validation. His appeal: we all should make an effort to listen to the "other side." Insults make others determined not to give up any ground, and the mentality of crushing your opposition has eroded our society's fabric.

Trey encouraged talking responsibly and ending the bitter feuding and fussing with neither side desiring to listen and learn from the other. His point was to be fair-minded yet encourage people to think for themselves.

Upcoming Event: Dr. Stephenson has invited Charles Payne to be the next speaker in the President's Speaker Series on April 8, 2022. Come hear the Fox Business Network financial journalist and host of Fox's Making Money. Mark your calendars, and I'll see you there.