Thursday, March 31, 2022

A Pastor's Ponderings (October 2021) Dr. Doug Stauffer, Journalist

  A Pastor's Ponderings: The Military and the Ministry

By Pastor Doug Stauffer
Faith Independent Baptist Church
Journalist for Bay Life Newspaper
October 2021--Article 4 (2021-10-004)

America has proven to be the most blessed nation on earth for about the last two and a half centuries. As is generally the case, the few selflessly sacrifice for the many. Some sacrifice by enlisting with the military for love of country (or serving on the front lines in other capacities), while others sacrifice by serving in the ministry. I have been doubly blessed to serve in both.

My wife and I have extensive patriotic heritages spanning over 100 years: from WWI and WWII to Vietnam; the Cold War to Iraq. There are many high points with some low points too. At 21 years of age, Judy’s uncle was killed in WWII, but her father served on the U.S.S.  Missouri where General Douglas MacArthur accepted the Japanese surrendered in Tokyo Bay.

My father served as a platoon leader in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive as the enemy attempted to overrun bases throughout the country. His Bronze Star attests to his gallantry. One of my most memorable high points: taking control of an F-15 Tactical Fighter. However, pulling 7G’s doing a loop maneuver pushed my body beyond its G-tolerance limits. Like so many others, our families’ dedication to country stems from a willingness to defend these United States against all enemies—foreign and domestic.

Very few people realize the extent to which the Bible references warfare. For instance, following the Jews’ deliverance from Egypt, Moses said, “The LORD is a man of war...” Likewise, the New Testament includes many references to warfare.

For instance, the Bible tells us to be a “good soldier of Jesus Christ” by fighting “the good fight” while wearing the “the whole armour of God.”  It further admonishes us that “no man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” I hope and pray never to go AWOL (Absent WithOut Leave).

The Bible continues by stating that dedicated Christians “do not war after the flesh” and that “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.” It mentions only one offensive weapon—the “two edged sword,” also referred to as the “sword of the Spirit” and the “word of God.”

Even the church hymnbooks reflect these Bible truths with songs like “Hold the Fort” and “Sound the Battle Cry.” Other familiar hymns are “Onward Christian Soldiers” and “Am I a Soldier of the Cross.” The hymns expressed the truths found within the pages of God’s word.

My advice for every Christian never has and never will waver: 

·         Enlist while there is still time

·         Engage the enemy

·         Envision the fact that our heavenly Commander-in-Chief has already won the victory

When you find yourself feeling defeated or just down and discouraged, keep in mind this insight: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). So, when you find yourself in a skirmish or an all-out war, be sure to look up—our battle is spiritual, and the final chapter has already been written. Spoiler alert: we won!

Read the Newspaper (page 24)

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

A Pastor's Ponderings (September 2021) Dr. Doug Stauffer, Journalist

 A Pastor's Ponderings: Heaven-Sent Emerald Coast Transfer

By Pastor Doug Stauffer
Faith Independent Baptist Church
Journalist for Bay Life Newspaper
September 2021--Article 3 (2021-09-003)

This region has long been rightfully considered a premier military assignment—well-known for its pristine beaches, top-tier schools and friendly communities. Military families transfer in and out, but I want to tell you about a transfer authority far superior to Uncle Sam. Here is the story of our heaven-sent transfer to the Emerald Coast.

I was stationed at the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing headquarters from 1977 to 1981, first living on Eglin AFB before moving to Okaloosa Island and eventually settling in Niceville. This last move helped turn my life around 180 degrees. After work, I even began attending Okaloosa Walton Junior College (before it became Northwest Florida State College). After my separation from the Air Force, I transferred to Penn State University, never realizing how my return here might miraculously occur.

In January 2019, while starting the first leg of a six-month 30,000-mile trek, I told my wife that God was tugging at my heart concerning going full-time in the pastorate again. I dropped this bombshell on her as we were leaving a prayer breakfast in Atlanta on our way to Fort Lauderdale and then Naples, Orlando and in late February, Tallahassee with a dozen other Florida cities in between.

For the first time in almost 40 years, I would cross the Panhandle passing through Niceville on our way to Milton. I contacted the church instrumental in changing my life to see if they had an overnight hookup for my motorhome. They did, so we stopped! Come to find out, they had just gone through a very tumultuous year depleting their numbers, causing the small remnant to be looking for a new pastor. Guess what happened! Once we completed our travel commitments, we relocated to Niceville in June 2019. This Bible verse expressed the supernatural intervention that had taken place: “…it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23b).

Judy and I sometimes pinch ourselves in disbelief that we have now settled where we, Lord willing, will finish our life’s journey in our new home across from the church. In today’s ever-increasingly cynical world, many people struggle to believe that a God exists who cares and offers us direction. Yet, many people like me have a different vantage point. We call it a biblical worldview, and here are two of its essential precepts.

1.   God offers heaven-sent direction to those who trust in Him and acknowledge His intervention.

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

2.       God provides the right desires to those who focus on finding life’s pleasures by serving and worshiping Him.

“Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart” (Psalm 37:4).

This story is another segment of our ongoing saga that has provided memories beyond our wildest dreams. I know many of you, too, have untold stories that could fill volumes. For this reason, I never tire of meeting new people, and the saying applies to me: I have never met a stranger: just people I do not yet know. So, with that, I say, “Hello, neighbor and God bless.”

Read the article

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

A Pastor's Ponderings (August 2021) Dr. Doug Stauffer, Journalist

 A Pastor's Ponderings: When God Changes Your Course

By Pastor Doug Stauffer
Faith Independent Baptist Church
Journalist for Bay Life Newspaper
August 2021--Article 2 (2021-08-002)

Have you ever had something happen where you know that a different outcome could have completely altered your life forever…or maybe even ended it? This scenario has happened to me on several occasions, with the most recent involving two tractor-trailer trucks, but first a little background.

My wife and I spent nineteen years traveling the United States and around the globe (pre-Covid, of course). Our adventures (and mishaps) could fill a book. What would you think if I told you that my wife and I have been in cars that have caught fire on three occasions? Additionally, a commuter train hit my truck while I was sitting at a red light in Baltimore. Oh yes, and while riding as a passenger in a packed tour bus, it flipped over. Three good-sized men landed on me, pinning me against the window. All without bodily injury to me! No, I am not a cat with nine lives. Some might think of me as just lucky. Perspective is everything, but let me first tell you about the highway pileup that wasn’t. 

Late in the evening on June 28, 2021, my wife and I were leaving Knoxville, Tennessee, pulling a trailer with over two tons of my books. Suddenly, two tractor-trailer trucks jackknifed right in front of us. I slammed on the brakes with no hopes of avoiding an accident. I quickly veered to the left with no escape in sight. Both trucks were sliding in that direction, forcing me into the median and ever closer to the concrete highway divider.

Just as quickly as it all started, both trucks stopped abruptly, leaving me just enough space on the shoulder to squeeze between the trucks and the wall. Relieved, right? But as I was passing by the trucks, a man who has crossed in front of them now appeared directly in my path. I laid on the horn, making him skip a step leaving me just enough room to miss him. I don’t know what went through his mind, but I can testify concerning our astonishment, relief and jubilation.

Needless to say, we spent the next few hours on the road driving in bewilderment. Every pastor has to have a moral to the story, right?

Well, after we had packed the trailer, I asked the Pastor who helped us pack to pray for us and then jokingly stopped him before he started, asking if he wanted to take responsibility since our load was so heavy. He unhesitatingly delved right into fervent, heartfelt prayer. The Bible says, “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” and to “pray without ceasing.”

Do most people fully understand prayer or unwittingly doubt that an omnipotent God might really intercede on our behalf? Does our lack of faith cause us to fear attributing any given outcome to supernatural intervention? It takes faith to believe, and “without faith it is impossible to please God.” I believe God performed a miracle that night, likely two of them.

Read the article online

Link to BayLife Newspaper (page 24)

Monday, March 28, 2022

A Pastor's Ponderings (July 2021) Dr. Doug Stauffer, Journalist

A Pastor's Ponderings: The Battle of Lincoln Park
Niceville PD vs. The Lemonade Kids

By Pastor Doug Stauffer
Faith Independent Baptist Church
Journalist for Bay Life Newspaper
July 2021--Article 1 (2021-07-001)

Hello Niceville! After almost four decades, Providence has brought me full circle. I have traveled around the world several times but now have returned to the city that impacted my life more than any other place. Yet, that story is for another time! In 1981, I left Niceville and spent nearly forty years traveling to some of the most remote and memorable places on earth. These travels span from the Amazon jungles to the islands in the Caribbean, from China to Europe, etc.

I witnessed an incredible contrast: from the most lavish scenery to indescribable poverties. I recall returning to America after one eventful trip and dropping to my knees to kiss the runway tarmac. I always treasured my experiences but never took for granted each deplaning on U.S. soil. As much as I loved traveling abroad and throughout these united states, I am blessed to return to what many consider a slice of heaven on earth—Niceville!

Many residents and visitors have said that Niceville is one of the NICEst places on earth to live or visit, but there is more to this story. I want to offer my account of a local hero who saved a young child’s life one week and ingeniously engaged his department in community outreach the next. I am talking about the Battle of Lincoln Park, but let me not get ahead of myself.

On May 26, 2021, a 911 operator received a frantic cry for help concerning an unresponsive infant. Chief Dave Popwell arrived first on the scene, immediately beginning CPR. His efforts to resuscitate the infant, followed by the EMS personnel, provided the necessary life-sustaining measures. The child is alive today because of the lifesaving skills commenced by Chief Dave Popwell.

Fast forward two weeks later: someone reported a few pre-teen neighborhood children for selling lemonade without a license on the church property. Officer Bronson, instead of issuing some citations, handed them a crisp $100 bill. Social media quickly spread this act of generosity. The next day, the group doubled in number. The young entrepreneurs decided to split the proceeds with the police department. They raised over $500, but the Chief graciously declined. Instead, the police offered to accompany the young people to a venue of their choice. The youth decided against a movie or putt-putt and challenged the police department to a water balloon battle.

The day arrived when the Chief and ten of Niceville’s finest showed up at Lincoln Park to face the “lemonade kids” at high noon. The brave young warriors were well prepared. They had strategically stashed water balloons throughout the park. The police force was quickly outnumbered as other park visitors joined forces with the lemonade kids.

It seemed like children were coming from all sides: from the swings and the slides, even springing into action from the monkey bars. The Chief claimed that he witnessed junior Navy SEALS appear from the water. The battle raged until only a few officers remained, but they were short of ammunition (water). The youth refused to recognize the Chief’s white flag of surrender. Even the sweet little Unicorn girl pummeled the Chief forcing him to retreat for cover. This Battle of Lincoln Park will be remembered as Niceville’s Alamo. Moral of the story: not one Nicevillian should join the chorus to defund the police, but instead, look for ways to express our appreciation and “Back the Blue.”

Link to the video and article

Watch video on Youtube

Read the article in newspaper (page 24)