In Transition: Veteran, It’s Not All About You (me)

Maybe you’ve bled, literally.

For years, maybe longer, you’ve sacrificed.

You’ve toiled countless days under the bright heat, trudged the jagged Konar, patrolled the filthy Baghdad streets, never knowing when death might call. You’ve eaten dirt and eaten like a king, squeezed in a few minutes sleep on the floor of some foul-smelling crapatorium, all while being crushed to death by a thousand pounds of miscellaneous kit under the harsh desert sun.

You’ve sweat and wept and bled and taken a dump under the most impossible of circumstances. You’ve lost. Friends maybe. Any lingering innocence, certainly. A few poignant moments haunt your conscience—an unspoken word, an ill-fated decision, the unmistakable smell of charred flesh.

The blood-soaked sand forever testifies.

You’ve served.

You’ve given.

Now the system is telling you it’s time to receive.

You lay down your arms to a bevy of voices trumpeting the consideration you’ve earned, bestowing honor and praise…and benefit. You merit special handling.

I affirm this. I affirm your earned stripes. I’ll buy you a beer in Valhalla, if there were such a place, but the mindset troubles me. There is a prevailing attitude among many(some) veterans that betrays the attitude that shaped their service from the beginning.

It is an overwhelming desire to be served.

I’ve given, now it’s time to receive, no matter what it may cost another.

A Right Heart

Paul, writing to the church at Corinth, details true, biblical love.

Love is patient and kind. It does not envy or boast, is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way, is not irritable or resentful. (1 Corinthians 13:4-5)

In other words, love, true biblical love, involves sacrifice, putting your own needs and requirements after those of another. Paul, curiously concludes this section with this, one of my favorite passages in all of Scripture:

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. (1 Corinthians 13:11)

In other words, the business of a man is to love…to love in a biblical way, to love sacrificially, to love selflessly. The way of a child is to issue demands, to impose requirements, to place self ahead of others.

Paul exhorts the men of the church to…be men, to act like men, to love like men.

What if we exhorted one another to the same, even after leaving the profession of arms…especially after leaving the profession of arms.

Another Look

Allow me to level the bubble.

Your wife, your children, they’ve sacrificed as you have…possibly more.

My oldest daughter seemed to get it the worst. Every year, despite my best efforts, I’d be deployed on her birthday. Year in and year out, more of the same. She’d cry a bit and then get over it. She’s a good army kid.

The last time was the worst.

It must’ve been the third or fourth year in a row when I found out. Once more I’d be deployed on her birthday. I couldn’t believe it! With dread, I sought her out to break the news. Expecting the usual tears, what I got was infinitely worse, a shrug and a slight, sad smile, “That’s okay, Dad. I understand.”

Ouch!

I hated deployments, every one of them, every time. I longed to be home with my family. I resented the lost moments. I begrudged the dreadful months. I hated every single day away. Every. Single. Day.

Except I didn’t.

You know.

          “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.”

                    “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.”

The higher call gifted me a reason. My brothers delivered me a purpose. Engaging the enemies of righteousness in battle drove my ambition. I trembled at the prospect, enamored of our audacity, descending from the darkness alongside my brothers-in-arms onto the unsuspecting heads of wicked men, standing as sword and shield against the tyranny of oppression.

My wife was left behind. Period.

The Tightest Grip

“Hold the rope.”

This was William Carey’s plea to Andrew Fuller before embarking upon his mission trip to India. As the father of modern missions, Carey’s plea was for support. He would go. Would Fuller and his church support him, prayerfully and tangibly?

She’s held the rope.

While you’ve sucked down the desert sand, she’s cleaned a thousand runny noses, wiped a thousand butts. She sat up all night with sick kids and tear-streaked cheeks knowing she had to rise early the next morning. Exhausted, she put on a smile each morning, not wanting the kids to see her struggle, only to sit with her head in her hands the second they left for the bus stop.

And she wondered about you. Okay, she didn’t wonder. She agonized. 

What were you doing? Were you okay? Were you safe? Who were you with? Why hasn’t she heard from you in awhile?

Did you meet somebody?

She had to hold it together, hold the rope. She had no other option. Maybe she put her life, her hopes, her dreams on hold…for you. Maybe she did it gladly. Maybe she did it begrudgingly, but she did it.

Must she do it once more?

A New Look

Conflict beckons. Bitterness knocks. Families disintegrate.

Many warriors struggle off the battlefield and perhaps it’s because of the message.

We’ve trained them that they have a right to feel disenfranchised. We’ve communicated to them that they have a reason to misbehave, that it’s normal, it’s okay. And most of all, the system trains them to feel entitled, to desire to receive. We’ve taught them to exchange the spirit of love and service for a regard for self. We’ve taught them that they are the center of concern, the focus of affairs.

I’m convinced that many of the problems our veterans face stem from this clash of intersecting and competing attitudes.

Let us reshape the narrative.

Quit emasculating the veteran and empower him. Exhort him to continue to serve, to continue to give, as able. Let us reject the notion that he is automatically damaged and incapable, requiring special consideration.

Consider your family, your wife.

Instead of focusing on your struggle, on your affliction, on your needs, see this as an opportunity to be strong for her, an opportunity to love her unconditionally, to put yourself in the backseat and let her reach for her dreams and goals. Consider this opportunity to serve once more.

What if, upon sheathing your sword, your call was to lift her up, to empower her to become who she always wanted to be? What if, upon laying down your guns, your wife and your children became your mission?

Would you be satisfied with that?

Should we shelf our heart for service just because we’ve removed the uniform?

We must reject being shaped into a caricature of who we once were by forces concerned with political expediency and social leverage.

Noble warrior, with all urgency I plead with you to take your turn at the rope. They deserve it. Indeed, they always have.

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).

THE 413 REPORT

If you loved this article, and would like to learn more about foster and adoption care, and to stay up to date on our projects, missions, and programs, as well as the release of Bradford's third book, Brave Rifles, please sign up for our Newsletter. The 413 Project is made up of common people empowering and serving others to accomplish an uncommon good.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

This is a powerful read in a small book. The subtitle hits the mark with its description of, "A Biblical Treatise on Adoption." The author poses a challenge to the reader to stop reading the book upfront if the reader does not want to be moved to action.

   Janice S. Garey  

The call that sounds for the incredible need of emotionally and physically abandoned and orphaned children and one that when answered manifests the love of Christ.

  Anne Rightler

This book is a must read for anyone affected in any way by addictions. So many of the situations in this book seem hopeless, but as Brad so clearly points out, Christ is the solution and the only hope of man. As long as there is breath, there is hope!

  Scott Doherty

In Scourge, Brad offers us more than cold statistics or a cautionary tale. Instead, he offers us the solution - faith backed by action - to overcome this insidious problem Insightful and provocative, Scourge is a warning flag, guide post and rally to hope for all of us.

 Chad Chasteen

In Transition: I wanted a mission…

and for my sins, they gave me one. (CPT Willard, Saigon, 1969)

Clarksville…shoot, I’m still only in Clarksville.

Each time, I think I’m gonna wake up back in the desert. I hardly said a word to my wife…until she told me to take out the trash and play with the kids. When I was there, in the desert, I wanted to be here, but now all I can think about is the desert…and what’s for dinner.

I’ve been here six months now…retired…waiting for a mission, getting softer. Every minute I spend in this house I get weaker. Every minute the muj squats in the desert, he gets stronger.

Each time I look around, the walls move in a little tighter…the kids scream a little louder…my pants get a bit tighter…

First Call

I always felt called to be a soldier, even before I knew Who was calling me.

As a young boy, I played war in the woods, shot bottle rockets at my friends, and led legions of imaginary men into battle. I bayoneted bad guys, crushed my enemies, saw them driven before me, and heard the lamentations of the women…well, in my mind anyway.

Between sports, my play existed in recreating battle scenes and heroic last stands, fighting robots, Cobra, Russians, or whoever I deemed worthy of battle.

As a teenager, while my friends decorated their walls with rock n’ roll pinup girls, I had a single poster bearing an image of Eisenhower, Lee, MacArthur and Grant. I liked pinup girls, don’t get me wrong, but military service resonated with my soul.

Something about combat drew me…the camaraderie, the brotherhood, the shared sacrifice, maybe the purpose or the mission.

At some point, I graduated from sticks and fireworks to rifles and helicopters. At the age of 22, the nation entrusted me with the lives of 20 or so young men. My first platoon! I exalted in the call. Preparing for war was our mission.

All that changed on September 11th as Al Qaeda handed us a mission… “brought it up like room service,” you might say in your deepest, gravelly Martin Sheen voice. As such, I spent the next 17 years leading men in and out of battle and it was glorious. The crucible of combat, of a shared mission realized, drove my purpose, channeled my existence.

Fighting the bad guys. Defending our nation. Confronting evil. Destroying tyranny. It defined me, combat did, gave me a mission, a mission that resonated with vitality. Who was gonna do it, you? So don’t stand there in your ****ty white uniform and tell me what you think you are entitled too!…sorry, I get carried away.

And then it was gone, leaving me one very important query.

Now what?

A Worthy Call

Every man wants to matter.

I was reminded of the fleeting and fragile nature of life this week. A friend of mine from college died unexpectedly, at the age of 48. He left behind a wife and three kids and his death reinforced Paul’s words to the Ephesians, to make the best use of the time because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:16)

Why are the days evil?

The days are evil because time, if left unspent, will spend itself. If not spent deliberately, time will still pass. And tomorrow, you’re going to wake up and be 40 or 50 or 60 or older, wondering where the days have gone. My 45 years, a mere vapor, attest to this reality, our inevitable march to the grave.

Approaching the end of life, all men must reconcile their legacy. They must answer for themselves a very critical question. Did my existence make a difference to anyone? Was it worthwhile?

Did I even matter at all?

Soldiering gave me many things—direction, structure, education, motivation. Most of all, it gave my life meaning, a purpose that mattered.

A Passing Call

I never wanted to be Joe Paterno.

Joe Pa roamed the Penn State sideline for 45 years! setting the record for most wins by a Division 1 coach (409). 45 years! As long as I have been alive, Paterno held the same job, coaching the Penn State Nittany Lions and the longer he coached, the tighter he seemed to cling to the job.

He came to define Penn State football.

They were inseparable. One could simply not imagine Penn State without Paterno. Unfortunately, the opposite became glaringly true. Without Penn State football, who was Joe Pa?

On November 9th, 2011, due to fallout from the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal, Joe Paterno lost the defining aspect of his life. He was fired. He died 74 days later, ostensibly due to lung cancer. Yet, I wonder about despair. The thing that had come to define him, Penn State football, had been torn from his life and the disgrace of the scandal threatened to forever tarnish his legacy.

Without this, who was he?

Who could he possibly be?

A Fleeting Call

At some point, you gotta drink the kool aid.

About the time you are eligible for retirement, the Army dangles a sweet promotion in front of you but you gotta buy in. It is this time that you make a call, either all in or not. The upper echelons of the Army demand a “new level of service,” to quote a former commander of mine who attained the second highest rank in all of the military.

At some point, you become a company man, and buy in lock, stock, and barrel.

And they own you, all of you.

I asked a General Officer I worked for once how much control he had over his existence. “About 5%,” he joked, “and that’s an illusion.”

Not that I would’ve qualified for the upper echelons. I was doing decent enough, but did I want to buy in for another decade? And even if I did, at some point, it would still be taken from me, leaving me still to answer…

Who am I?

A New Call

Men need a purpose.

Men need to do, to conquer, to attain, to move, to engage. I joined the military and found my purpose and took great satisfaction in closing with and destroying the enemy in battle, locked at the elbows with my brothers-in-arms.

In this purpose, I found honor. I took pride.

What could I do without it?

Thankfully, in March 2005, God called me to the true fight, the battleground of souls.

In Christ, we find our ultimate mission, an enduring mission, a mission that spans continents and countries, a purpose that supersedes boundaries and borders, a call that endures across epochs and eras.

The battlefield of the soul surpasses the most contested battles in history. Stalingrad, Antietam, Verdun: mere skirmishes compared to the battle for the eternal destiny of all men. Our enemy is not the flesh and blood. (Ephesians 6:12) He is organized and motivated, showing no quarter to even those claiming neutrality.

It is in serving Christ, loving my wife, discipling my sons, pleading with the lost to be reconciled to God, taking the Gospel to the nations, that some might be saved, it is in this that I find a mission, a purpose that transcends any previous call.

This purpose can never be taken from me. This mission can never diminish or change.

The fields are so white for the harvest, as the workers are so few. Beyond my former call to arms, the newer call, the superior call, it consumes me.

Absent such a call, I’m just not sure what I could do…or who I’d even be.

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).

THE 413 REPORT

If you loved this article, and would like to learn more about foster and adoption care, and to stay up to date on our projects, missions, and programs, as well as the release of Bradford's third book, Brave Rifles, please sign up for our Newsletter. The 413 Project is made up of common people empowering and serving others to accomplish an uncommon good.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

This is a powerful read in a small book. The subtitle hits the mark with its description of, "A Biblical Treatise on Adoption." The author poses a challenge to the reader to stop reading the book upfront if the reader does not want to be moved to action.

   Janice S. Garey  

The call that sounds for the incredible need of emotionally and physically abandoned and orphaned children and one that when answered manifests the love of Christ.

  Anne Rightler

This book is a must read for anyone affected in any way by addictions. So many of the situations in this book seem hopeless, but as Brad so clearly points out, Christ is the solution and the only hope of man. As long as there is breath, there is hope!

  Scott Doherty

In Scourge, Brad offers us more than cold statistics or a cautionary tale. Instead, he offers us the solution - faith backed by action - to overcome this insidious problem Insightful and provocative, Scourge is a warning flag, guide post and rally to hope for all of us.

 Chad Chasteen

#MeToo: Please, Keep Your Hands Off My Daughter

What do I tell my daughter?

She’s young, pretty, and just started her favorite job ever…

…and she’s being sexually harassed.

What do I tell her?

He probably doesn’t mean anything by it?

He’s old and that’s just the way things used to be.

The man in question is in his 60’s, certainly a product of a different era. Admittedly, I was not in the workplace 30 to 40 years ago, but from what I understand, that’s just how things used to be, or at least that’s how it has been explained.

Women could just expect occasional unprofessional conduct in the workplace, callous jokes, maybe even a wandering hand. After all, boys will be boys. He doesn’t mean anything by it. Don’t take it too personal.

I recall my offense, 20 years ago, at what I perceived as the neutering of the military. I remember my indignation when the Post Exchange stopped carrying pornography. I recollect the institution of sexual harassment training and having to remove our pinup girls and inappropriate calendars from the crew chief hootch.

How dare the powers that be make us behave like…uh, gentlemen.

In my younger years, in my naiveté, I associated audacity, boldness, and masculinity with crudeness and vulgarity. I associated refinement and restraint with weakness. Amazing. Juvenile. Immature.

Apparently, this man feels the same.

And it’s textbook sexual harassment/hostile work environment. He holds no authority over her so it’s not Quid pro Quo. (See how my training paid off!)

Remarks about her looks. Inappropriate comments. Open ogling. And did I mention he’s in his 60’s and that she’s in her 20’s? She is creeped out and I’m just not sure what to tell her.

Tell your supervisor?

She’s new to the job and new to the vocation, fresh out of school and ready to stake her claim on life. With a twinkle in her eye, she set out on her first day of work, her initial training, only to have this douche crush her spirit over the next few weeks.

She’s resilient. She just wants to work.

She doesn’t want to make a fuss.

She doesn’t want attention.

She doesn’t want to get this dude in trouble.

She wants to work…but this dude won’t let her just work. And he put his hands on her, the classic hands on the shoulders while standing behind her while she’s seated thing, commenting about her looks.

I am literally snapping this dude’s neck in my mind right now and I still don’t know what to tell her.

I’m sorry, but this is something you’re going to have to deal with?

Men excel at the oppression of women. We’re gifted in this regard. I didn’t have to teach my 3-year-old son to be mean to my little granddaughter. He knows how to do it automatically.

It’s been this way since the Fall.

God declared the curse on Eve, for all women, in Genesis 3:16, that her desire shall be for her husband and he will rule over her. From the curse, the woman will seek to usurp the place of the man as the spiritual leader of the home and the church while the man will rule over the woman in an ungodly manner.

Men oppress women in one of two ways, generally speaking.

Many succumb and gladly yield, abdicating their responsibilities in leading the church and the family. These men become flaccid and hollowed-out caricatures, mere shadows of that which God intended for them. Other men lash out and dominate women, ruling over them in a malevolent fashion.

Almost all sexual assault is committed by men.

Almost all domestic violence is committed by men.

Almost all sexual harassment is committed by men.

Yes, I am aware that there are exceptions but I’m speaking collectively. There has never been a maternal society. Women have historically existed at the mercy of men, at the mercy of their weaker bodies and gentler natures—please don’t hear me say that women cannot be as wicked as men, it’s just different, less violent, more subtle. But only in societies based upon a Judeo-Christian ethic do women find protection and equality, stature, regard and even acclaim.

And every man possesses, in his sin nature, the capacity and at some deep level, the desire, to sin against women in some way. It’s there. Scripture affirms it and reality bears it out. Only the common grace of the Lord Jesus restraining sin or the saving grace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, changing hearts and giving men a new nature, confront this wickedness.

Trust Jesus. Trust no man unless that man likewise trusts Jesus.

This man may not know Jesus but he may soon meet Jesus and I still don’t know what to tell my daughter.

Confront him?

This guy forced my daughter to make a decision she should never have to make.

She looked inward, summoned her supervisor, and asked if her clothing were inappropriate, if she needed to change. She didn’t. Her supervisor informed her that her clothing was more than professional.

She subtly let her supervisor know that there was a problem and as if on cue, this man walked up and put his hands on her. The supervisor called an immediate ‘come to Jesus’ meeting but again, she never should’ve had to make this decision.

She never sought her own #MeToo moment…but this man gave it to her.

I’m torn some by these accounts and the #MeToo movement in general. I have a hard time with Hollywood women who brazenly leverage their sexuality for personal gain and then cry #MeToo when men respond inappropriately to their inappropriate behavior. Beyonce or some other celebrity crying #MeToo after dry-humping the air clad in little more than her imagination in front of thousands, including many impressionable young women, does not necessarily stoke empathy.

The pornification of our nation and the Sexual Revolution, instead of freeing women, has only solidly enslaved them to their sexuality. If their empowerment comes from their sexuality, then absent their sexuality, there is no empowerment. When we’ve trained an entire generation in this manner, should we be surprised that a generation of men has a lack of regard for women who lack regard for themselves?

But the unscrupulous pandering of some opportunistic women cannot allow us to discount either the nature or the extent of the problem.

Jesus was the greatest advocate for women that ever existed and only in the shadow of the Gospel do women truly find refuge from the hostility of men. Yet, as we are confined to the secular, the notion that women may require refuge meets only hostility. We are left to merely apply band-aids to the hemorrhage and hope that somehow, it’ll work itself out.

And I still don’t know what to tell my daughter.

I’ll be right there.

As I envision myself striding into the office and solidly planting the flag of my flock into this man’s chest cavity, I am saddened that my daughter had to learn of the evil that men do in this manner, that this man had to take another chip out of the idealism of her youth.

She confronted him, professionally and rightly.

I didn’t have to tell her anything, it turns out.

And the man apologized profusely, claiming not to even realize what he had done. I cannot see into a man’s heart so this may be true but I wonder if he would’ve conducted himself in such a manner in front of his wife.

You’d have to be a fool or insanely ill-informed to not realize, in today’s highly-charged work environment, that putting your hands on anyone, much less a woman, is essentially begging to be disciplined or even fired.

I’m not sure what to tell my daughter about the next time it happens as sadly, there will likely be a next time. Maybe kick him in the junk and scream “Rape!”

Outside of that, I just don’t know.

 

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).

THE 413 REPORT

If you loved this article, and would like to learn more about foster and adoption care, and to stay up to date on our projects, missions, and programs, as well as the release of Bradford's third book, Brave Rifles, please sign up for our Newsletter. The 413 Project is made up of common people empowering and serving others to accomplish an uncommon good.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

This is a powerful read in a small book. The subtitle hits the mark with its description of, "A Biblical Treatise on Adoption." The author poses a challenge to the reader to stop reading the book upfront if the reader does not want to be moved to action.

   Janice S. Garey  

The call that sounds for the incredible need of emotionally and physically abandoned and orphaned children and one that when answered manifests the love of Christ.

  Anne Rightler

This book is a must read for anyone affected in any way by addictions. So many of the situations in this book seem hopeless, but as Brad so clearly points out, Christ is the solution and the only hope of man. As long as there is breath, there is hope!

  Scott Doherty

In Scourge, Brad offers us more than cold statistics or a cautionary tale. Instead, he offers us the solution - faith backed by action - to overcome this insidious problem Insightful and provocative, Scourge is a warning flag, guide post and rally to hope for all of us.

 Chad Chasteen

Metallica, Rage, and the Holy Spirit

I love hymns. I love singing Scripture.

I love gangster (gangsta?) rap.

Garage Days, revisited

I likewise love to lift. I hate to run. That about sums it up.

After my second knee surgery, I ceded anything outside a 10 meter radius. Inside 10 meters, I desire the ability to close with and destroy as rapidly as possible. Outside that distance, we’ll save for another day.

I’ve always associated music with lifting. Always.

In my early garage days, I used to blast the Rocky IV soundtrack. The “Training Montage” that accompanied Ivan (pronounced ee-van’’ not eye’-van) Drago and Rocky’s inevitable confrontation became my theme as I clanged (sort of) sand-filled plastic weights.

I became Rocky Balboa.

In my high school years, I affiliated with some bodybuilders who loved to lift to heavy metal music. I was hooked. I made Motley Crue’s “Kickstart My Heart” my anthem. Tony Mandarich inspired me with a blend of Guns N’ Roses and obscene amounts of iron.

At some point, I discovered Metallica.

And Public Enemy.

And NWA.

I fed off the anger, the intensity. It inspired me, generated power, induced adrenaline, equipping me to move the maximum amount of weight possible.


God gave us music that we might glorify Him. (Psalm 95:1, Hebrews 2:12, Colossians 3:16, Ephesians 5:19)

          Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;

               break forth into joyous song and sing praises! (Psalm 98:4)


Seek & Destroy

Then came the Animal House.

In college, I joined the powerlifting team, a gang of jacked rebels who eschewed most matters of a military college in favor of iron…and heavy metal music. They dwelt in the Animal House, their domain.

Imagine descending into the bowels of an aged stone building. As you descend a darkened and worn staircase, the temperature steadily climbs and at some point, you hear it, heavy metal music. It steadily increases, culminating in a full-out sonic assault as you peer down a dimly-lit corridor at a worn and darkened wooden door. Enter the Animal House at your own peril.

The powerlifting team favored screamo-type heavy metal, not something I was a fan of, and Manowar, a fantasy metal-type band that sang about swords and gods and dragons. Again, not something I was a fan of, but there was the ever-present standbys: Black Sabbath, Pantera, Judas Priest, and of course, Metallica.

At some point, the Army officers who taught in the facility descended into the Animal House and painted a black line on the volume knob, seeking to restrict the reverberations. Still, the music remained ear splitting, prohibiting all but shouted conversation.

And I loved it.

Creeping Death

After coming to faith in Christ, I backed off heavy metal music and Metallica. I started listening to praise and worship music while lifting and to my surprise, found no corresponding drop-off in my lifts.

I was lifting overseas once and as “In Christ Alone” came on, I raised my hands in praise. I turned to see four curious SEALs giving me an odd look. Yet I persisted. Working out became closely associated with worship until…it happened.

I don’t know what (who) led me, but a year or so ago, I created a new Pandora station…
…Rage Against the Machine.

RATM was, in my mind, the pinnacle of lifting music. They combined angry leftist rantings laid over top heavy, driving guitar in a metal-rap blend of power and anger. I loved it.

I became Zack de la Rocha.

And as I listened, others re-emerged from the recesses…Black Sabbath, Public Enemy, and of course, Metallica.


The believer should seek to glorify God in all that he does. (1 Corinthians 10:23-24, Colossians 3:17, Colossians 3:23

          So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)


Trapped Under Ice

This time, something was different.

The Holy Spirit tugged on my ear, whispering, convicting, chiding…God hates this. You know that, right?

In my first published book, Scourge, I quoted from the movie Gran Torino, a movie that I thoroughly enjoyed when I first saw it. A brother that reviewed my book before publication, among some other comments, asked why I chose to quote this movie.

“You know God hates that movie, right?”

He was right, of course. In addition to vulgar language, Gran Torino is rife with idolatry, outright blasphemy, and even a false, works-based Gospel. Of course God hates this work but hey, it’s Clint Eastwood, and Clint hates liberals, so it must be good and godly, right? Sheesh.

What could I do? After about a year, I deleted my Pandora channel, turned off RATM forever and all the others that accompanied it.

How could I listen to things that God hates?

Disposable Heroes

Music is powerful, insanely powerful.

Music has the ability to drive the emotions of men, to mold hearts, to generate passion. Music has the ability to motivate and inspire, to galvanize and embolden.

And it is not neutral. Biblically speaking, nothing is truly neutral.

It’s doing something.

A friend of mine was saved as a young man but as a teenager, started listening to heavy metal music. Before long, he was attending concerts, rebelling against his parents, smoking weed which turned into coke which turned into whatever he could get his hands on. His life descended into decades of chaos and destruction and though the Lord eventually delivered Him, the consequences of a life spent in rebellion against God resonate and will continue to resonate.

And it started with the allure of angry music.

Leave it to Satan to twist that which God has given us to glorify Him into something wicked.

Blackened

This year I made a re-discovery.

Searching for music to accompany my lift I had an epiphany and quickly created a “Rocky” Pandora channel. The “Training Montage” greeted my ears. Instantly, I was transported to my primitive garage gym of yesteryear and my sand-filled weights and my dreams of glory and power. I added a ten pound plate to each side of the bar and as the adrenaline surged…

I became Rocky Balboa yet again.

When “Eye of the Tiger” followed the montage, my heart practically burst right out of my chest. I added more weight…

This was it! The “Rocky” channel.

But what about Metallica? No RATM, the Spirit had firmly trounced that leaning, but could I listen to Metallica? Black Sabbath, obviously evil. Public Enemy, wicked. Judas Priest, don’t ask…but Metallica.

I dare you to find a better album than And Justice For All.

Not gonna happen.

In Metallica, I find a perfect blend of intensity, skill, anger, and passion. When “Harvester of Sorrow” comes on, or “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” or “Wherever I May Roam” or “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, stand clear. One note, and I’m jacked, ready to move some steel.

I love all classic Metallica but And Justice For All surpasses them all. The Black Album is pretty good. Did they even do anything after that?

The Shortest Straw

The things we consume delineate the front lines between our new nature as believers and the sarx, the flesh, the old man, as Paul calls our sinful human nature. As believers, God gives us the desires of our hearts, that is, he implants His desires into us. Our desires become His desires.

God desires that He be glorified in all things and in progressive sanctification, a believer ought to increasingly desire the same.

As we continually examine our hearts for things not of God, as we continually allow the Lord and Scripture to examine our hearts for things not of Him, He draws us ever closer. The closer we get, the less we can tolerate of the world. To do otherwise is to violate the new nature given us.

My prayer is for holiness, personal holiness, that God would continually conform me into the image of Christ…

…and that the Holy Spirit would not convict my heart on Metallica…but I have a feeling.

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).

THE 413 REPORT

If you loved this article, and would like to learn more about foster and adoption care, and to stay up to date on our projects, missions, and programs, as well as the release of Bradford's third book, Brave Rifles, please sign up for our Newsletter. The 413 Project is made up of common people empowering and serving others to accomplish an uncommon good.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

This is a powerful read in a small book. The subtitle hits the mark with its description of, "A Biblical Treatise on Adoption." The author poses a challenge to the reader to stop reading the book upfront if the reader does not want to be moved to action.

   Janice S. Garey  

The call that sounds for the incredible need of emotionally and physically abandoned and orphaned children and one that when answered manifests the love of Christ.

  Anne Rightler

This book is a must read for anyone affected in any way by addictions. So many of the situations in this book seem hopeless, but as Brad so clearly points out, Christ is the solution and the only hope of man. As long as there is breath, there is hope!

  Scott Doherty

In Scourge, Brad offers us more than cold statistics or a cautionary tale. Instead, he offers us the solution - faith backed by action - to overcome this insidious problem Insightful and provocative, Scourge is a warning flag, guide post and rally to hope for all of us.

 Chad Chasteen

Cowardice and the Hijacking of Church Language

Perpetual surrender characterizes the moral cowardice of much of the modern, western church. Concession.

Would we even surrender our language?

The opened a new worship center right up the road from our church.

In the other direction is a ministry. There’s an outreach right around the corner. A fellowship has been operating down the street a ways. There’s a house of prayer, a house of worship. There’s an assembly, a company, a group.

Does anyone plant churches anymore?

It’s not the Name.

I am not talking about the ridiculous deluge of trendy church names chronicled here, or here.

With over 400,000 churches in America, it’s tough to be original and let’s face it, pastors, unless they plant the church, likely inherited a church that already had a name. You likely had no say in the naming of your own church and I’m quite sure there is a solid and biblical PointDoorHeartJourneyEmboldened Church out there somewhere.

A trendy and superficial name does not automatically imbue trendiness and superficiality.

I’m speaking to language and really, surrender…motives, actually.

The Church are the Called-Out Ones

Jesus, talking to Peter, declares,

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matthew 16:18)

Peter is not the rock. Jesus is the rock. Peter’s confession of Jesus as, “the Messiah, the son of the living God,” (v. 16) this is the rock. Jesus’ mission is the building of His church, the ekklēsia, literally, the called-out ones.

We ought to esteem the church.

We ought to hold the church in the highest regard.

God is about the business of calling a people to Himself, out of the darkness and into His marvelous light. The church is the bride of Christ, the unified body of believers. And the local church is the hands and feet of Christ in the local community.

The Bible calls every believer to submit to the local church, to be under headship. (Hebrews 13:17) The Bible calls us to unity, to not neglect the assembly of God’s people. (Hebrews 10:25) The Bible calls us to walk our Christian walk in terms of community and fellowship. (1 John 1:5-10)

The Bible calls us to be the church.

How could we have a low view of the church, that we shy away from the very word.
It speaks to intent, reveals a troubling motive.

Why?

The vexing trend is the desire to appeal to the unbeliever.

It’s the same desire that drives churches to install coffee shops, worship leaders to squeeze themselves into skinny jeans, and pastors to neglect solid, biblical preaching or even neglect the Gospel altogether.

God forbid we make the unbeliever feel unwelcome.

We don’t want to “push anyone away” from the church and so…we just won’t call it a church.

Here’s the rationale. The world has come to associate ‘church’ with judgmental ‘churchy’ people. These are people who judge everyone and tell us we are all a bunch of sinners and all they talk about is hell and they are all a bunch of hypocritical stuffed-shirts anyway. They do the same stuff we do, they just don’t admit it.

And a lot of people have been hurt by ‘church people’ so we just won’t use the word.

We’ll get you into church. You’ll be more likely to attend, you just won’t know you’re in church. You’ll think you’re in a fellowship, or a ministry, or an assembly. Our numbers go up. Everyone wins.

The natural end state is the even more ridiculous notion that the church (those who have been saved!) can be for lost people.

I’ve heard ‘pastors’ say…

…If you’re a church person, this isn’t the place for you.

…If you’re anxious for me to get into the Bible, this isn’t the place for you.

Yes, we must seek to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth, to all men of all nations. Yes, we must contextualize, we must become all things to all people so that some may be saved. Yes, we must urgently and passionately seek the lost and be God’s voice…in calling them into our fellowship, into the church!

But the church IS the body of believers.

This is the Church.

The surrender reveals a low view of that which God esteems, the church.

Yes, there are hypocrites in the church. I’m one of them. There are swindlers, adulterers, fornicators. There are cheats and thieves and liars. There are blasphemers and idolaters, slanderers and misogynists. It’s got you doesn’t it.

I acknowledge that the church has hurt people.

But don’t believe the hype. Don’t surrender the term.

I acknowledge all of the above while still affirming that my brothers and sisters in Christ are the kindest, friendliest, warmest, and most generous and genuine people I know.

This last Christmas, a struggling single mother contacted our church for some help. We put it before the people and they poured out love and support, for weeks. And she, apparently thinking it was conditional, promised to attend our church in our return. We made it clear that it was not conditional and that we wanted to give to her because of Christ, and Christ alone. She never attended and were she to show back up, I’m confident our people would love on her the same.

Several years ago, a young couple in our church gifted their pickup truck to our financially struggling pastor. When an elderly lady moved to be with her grandkids, a large portion of our church body showed to help her load the moving truck. It’s always the same.

A group of brothers came alongside another brother struggling with an addiction. No judgment, no condemnation. Only, we are here for you. Some of us have struggled similarly. We love you and at the same time, will never quit you, but also call you to repentance and to turn to that which you know is better.

This brother rejoices in his deliverance and restoration and the love of his brothers.

We cry together, laugh together, rejoice in the sheer presence of one another.

This is the church.

This is the fellowship into which God calls men, from the darkness.

Motives revisited

I want unbelievers to feel welcome in our church…to a point.

Yet, if an unbeliever hears the message proclaimed, a message that speaks literal death to his soul, and is not at all uncomfortable, then something is wrong. The Gospel is the most offensive thing that there is, and if the unbeliever is not a bit uncomfortable, then perhaps he is not hearing the Gospel.

Attracting them by becoming like them and denying who we are is not a useful endeavor.

At the end of the day, the world hates Jesus and by association, hates the His people, the church. The world hates the church because the church represents the death of the world. As such, why on earth would the church concede anything to the world?

I am determined to reclaim that which the world has co-opted, so much of our language.

Let us reclaim the very word, so meaningful in its inspiration, that defines our very existence and let us pray that God would call out some more, that He would build His church!

** cover photo is members of the Way praying over a deploying soldier and his family.

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).

THE 413 REPORT

If you loved this article, and would like to learn more about foster and adoption care, and to stay up to date on our projects, missions, and programs, as well as the release of Bradford's third book, Brave Rifles, please sign up for our Newsletter. The 413 Project is made up of common people empowering and serving others to accomplish an uncommon good.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

This is a powerful read in a small book. The subtitle hits the mark with its description of, "A Biblical Treatise on Adoption." The author poses a challenge to the reader to stop reading the book upfront if the reader does not want to be moved to action.

   Janice S. Garey  

The call that sounds for the incredible need of emotionally and physically abandoned and orphaned children and one that when answered manifests the love of Christ.

  Anne Rightler

This book is a must read for anyone affected in any way by addictions. So many of the situations in this book seem hopeless, but as Brad so clearly points out, Christ is the solution and the only hope of man. As long as there is breath, there is hope!

  Scott Doherty

In Scourge, Brad offers us more than cold statistics or a cautionary tale. Instead, he offers us the solution - faith backed by action - to overcome this insidious problem Insightful and provocative, Scourge is a warning flag, guide post and rally to hope for all of us.

 Chad Chasteen

In Transition: Time and the Transitioning Warrior

As I approach six months of civilian puke life, I thought some self-reflection might be in order.

I’d heard of men having trouble transitioning out of the military and I couldn’t quite fathom the issue. I would now have plenty of time to square everyone else away, get the family up to standard, maybe improve the foxhole a bit. I’d have so much time, I’d likely have to go to 2-a-day PT.

I could practically hear myself getting even more jacked!

Could I still drink Rip-It as a civilian?

Approaching Retirement

Ami and I didn’t exactly waltz across the finish line.

Our reality was a bit different from what I’ve perceived to be the norm. Usually, the man desires to continue to serve and it is at the behest of the spouse that he reluctantly resigns or retires. She just cannot take it anymore—the pace, the optempo, the uncertainty.

For us, it was the opposite. Ami implored me to stay in.

“You’ll make a horrible civilian,” she advised. 

“How hard can it be?”

Up until the end, she held out hope that I’d reconsider and remain in the service not realizing that the ship had sailed over a year prior when I announced my intentions to retire to my boss. My subsequent evaluations reflected this decision. At that point, retirement became imminent.

How I See Time

I see time in rectangles on an Outlook training calendar. I do.

It’s impossible for me to see it any other way.

As I consider the coming weeks and days, I visualize a calendar with rectangles on it annotating what tasks I’d be accomplishing during any given period of time. Where the blocks overlap, that connotes a friction point of over commitment that must be reconciled. White space, space not covered by a rectangle, designates “free time” and must be fenced with a rectangle labeled, “Block”, if I desire it to remain “free”.

Gotta protect the white space.

I served nearly 23 years in the military, really 22 and a half if you consider the sham time following my final deployment including block leave—thanks Uncle Sugar! Add in 4 years of military college and I have 26 and a half years of militarization!

My Reality

Some men retire and continue to dabble.

They join the National Guard or Reserves and play Army on the weekend. In my circle, many folks retire and become a mercenary, working for one of the numerous firms that provide para-military service overseas while affording the government the ability to tout lower troop levels. The pay is great but no thank you.

When I hung up my boots, I hung them up for good.

I don’t even have a 9 to 5.

As the pastor of a small church, I have no imposed structure to my life. I am completely free to do whatever I like. I have a few external demands here and there, but by and large, I am unregulated. I went from complete structure—most days in the Army, I would be booked from start to finish—to a complete lack of structure.

So what could I do but…impose structure?

I created an Outlook calendar for myself and began getting things together.

I generated a weekly battle rhythm for the two other elders in our church, one meeting with my worship leader to synchronize the message with the worship, another with all three to conduct an AAR of last week’s service and finalize the details for this week’s service.

I put myself on a PT schedule.

Slowly, ever so slowly, the rectangles returned…and with it, stress.

I began to miss some requirements. My calendar began to look just like it did previously. I began to have to routinely reschedule events. So let me clarify.

I was getting stressed about missing self-imposed requirements that had absolutely no bearing at all on anyone or anything external to me.

Seems reasonable enough.

Time Management

I’ll proclaim it.

I’m an expert at time management.

Years ago, I discovered the value of time and I began to pour myself into the study of time management. I consumed books on efficiency—The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People remains near the top of my list. I tried different methods and techniques. I actually resisted digital calendar synchronization initially as I am, by nature, an analog type of dude. However, once I realized the power of synchronizing my calendar with other people and organizations that have bearing on how I spend my time, I was sold.

Routine became the engine of time management.

“I’ve got a 95% efficiency on my morning routine,” I once boasted to a colleague.

For years, I honed my morning routine, balancing the termination of my rest period with an orderly, productive, and synchronized transition into the day’s activities. My morning routine included daily hygiene, in a prescribed order of course, fueling the machine for PT, getting dressed, a devotion time of Bible reading and prayer, culminating with a hands-free walk to my truck where I already had my bag and uniform pre-positioned.

I discovered that preparation the night before was absolutely critical to a successful morning routine.

I tweaked it for years, always adjusting and seeking to squeeze more out of the morning. If I shave before I shower, I can save a bit of time by rinsing in the shower. If I stack my clothes in order of putting them on, underwear on top, I can expedite getting dressed. I found intense satisfaction in being able to get dressed in absolute darkness without waking my wife—my clothes in the prescribed order on my dresser.

Walking into the kitchen to the smell of the pre-programmed coffee pot already boiling brings me absolute delight.

I at the exact same breakfast for years.

Once I find something I like and that contributes to my overall efficiency and effectiveness, I stick with it.

My wife thinks I’m a bit of a psycho.

Christ and Time

Do you know that not all people see time the same as I do…unfathomable.

Whereas I see rectangles on an Outlook calendar, Ami sees time as a glob, a nebulous pool of opportunity that she manages from an inherent priority list (IPL?—whew, that’s better). I struggle to articulate her non-process process.

She is one of the busiest people I know, but operates with very little in the way of obvious structure. And she will admit that her technique is not without its flaws. She is frequently challenged by punctuality, but what she has is flexibility and priority.

If one of our girls needs to talk, she will stop and talk as long as they need to.

If someone has a need from the clothing closet, she will forgo all other demands to meet that need.

If a foster kid shows up in the middle of whatever, she will cease work and go to receive the kid.

How did Jesus see time?

Looking to Scripture I see that most ministry took place in terms of “as they went”, with no planning, gasp! The Holy Spirit placed men and opportunity in front of believers and they saw it for what it was.

Jesus stopped and chatted over a drink of water with a “random” woman at a well. Many Samaritans from the nearby town believed as a result. (John 4) “As he passed by,” Jesus stopped and healed a blind man, changing his life forever. (John 9) Peter and John were on their way to the temple (church) when they stopped and healed and ministered to a lame man. (Acts 3)

They immediately cast aside whatever they had planned for what the Lord had planned.

“But how on earth did they ever get done what they had planned?” 

True Effectiveness

Among other things, I consider myself a life-long learner. In transition, the Lord has impressed upon me some points concerning time.

Not all things that happen must be scheduled to be considered effective. And is effectiveness and efficiency the best Measure of Effectiveness (MOE) when assessing our time management?

Is there a better way to honor God in this?

The other morning, my wife got home from work—she works at night as a nurse in an assisted living facility—and needed attention. She wanted to talk and then she wanted some affection. One of her love languages is touch. She wanted to snuggle.

It wasn’t on my calendar. Instead, I had a long morning of sermon preparation scheduled. She would’ve understood but the Holy Spirit stopped me in my tracks.

And I took a risk…and I lay down and snuggled with my wife.

I accomplished nothing. I achieved no clearly defined goals. I checked nothing off my to-do list…and it was absolutely fantastic, the best thing that I accomplished that day. Unplanned intimacy with my wife, how could I have ever planned for something better?

Maybe I’m getting the hang of this civilian thing after all!

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).

THE 413 REPORT

If you loved this article, and would like to learn more about foster and adoption care, and to stay up to date on our projects, missions, and programs, as well as the release of Bradford's third book, Brave Rifles, please sign up for our Newsletter. The 413 Project is made up of common people empowering and serving others to accomplish an uncommon good.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

This is a powerful read in a small book. The subtitle hits the mark with its description of, "A Biblical Treatise on Adoption." The author poses a challenge to the reader to stop reading the book upfront if the reader does not want to be moved to action.

   Janice S. Garey  

The call that sounds for the incredible need of emotionally and physically abandoned and orphaned children and one that when answered manifests the love of Christ.

  Anne Rightler

This book is a must read for anyone affected in any way by addictions. So many of the situations in this book seem hopeless, but as Brad so clearly points out, Christ is the solution and the only hope of man. As long as there is breath, there is hope!

  Scott Doherty

In Scourge, Brad offers us more than cold statistics or a cautionary tale. Instead, he offers us the solution - faith backed by action - to overcome this insidious problem Insightful and provocative, Scourge is a warning flag, guide post and rally to hope for all of us.

 Chad Chasteen

Trust Not in Man…Even Urban Meyer

If Urban Meyer lied, Ohio State ought fire him immediately.

Make a bold statement. The Institution, the game, it’s bigger than any one man, even one of the winningest active coaches. (73-8 record at Ohio State with a national championship, two Big Ten titles, two College Football Playoff appearances and annual dominance over archival Michigan)

He is a legendary man.

He is a man…a fallible one. Just like you. Just like me.

I’m reminded of the Psalms:

Put not your trust in princes,
          in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
                                                           Psalm 146:3

What if?

Just once, I’d like to hear something like this when a person of renown is caught up in a transgression.

“You know, I’ve transgressed. I’ve violated my ethics, my principles, the good faith of this institution, and the fans. As such, I hereby and immediately resign from my position as XXXX. I also request that any severance package or contractual obligation be nullified. Based upon the nature of my transgression, I will accept no further compensation from this institution.”

I don’t recall hearing anything like this.

Even more, I’d love to see a man self-admit before being caught. Can you imagine if Coach Meyer had come to the press the day after the Big Ten media day with a confession.

“You know, I wasn’t quite honest with you guys yesterday…please forgive me.”

Does anyone have a conscience anymore?

My Beloved Buckeyes

For a second, just a second, this was hard to write. That alone should be indicting enough.

I love the Ohio State Buckeyes.

I won’t say that I bleed Scarlet and Gray. Maybe I sweat it.

My brother attended The Ohio State University. It’s a family school, though I was not privileged enough to attend.

I love Buckeye football. I love the Sweater Vest and Beanie Wells. I love Braxton and A.J. Hawk. I love the Bosa(s) and Holy Buckeye. I love Script Ohio and the Shoe.

Several years ago I had to take a step back, do some self-analysis. At some point, the fate of tOSU football team became closely intertwined with my mood, my emotions. When they won, all was well with the world. When they lost, my mood turned sour. I actually allowed a game played by kids to determine my emotions, to affect things between me and my spouse even. Silly, right?

I was even following recruiting, allowing the decisions of 18-year-old boys to drive my emotions. Even more ridiculous, embarrassing.

I put the genie back in the box, but the temptation is always there.

Will people fall on their swords for Urban?

The Crime

Though I obviously don’t have all of the facts, it seems that Coach Meyer knew his assistant was beating his wife in 2015 and made no move, and then lied about it to the press this week. There was a history of abuse dating back to at least 2009, so it wasn’t a new thing.

The other coaches’ wives knew. Shelley Meyer knew.

This begs a few obvious questions.

If Mrs. Meyer knew, did she tell her husband? Her texts with Courtney Smith seem to indicate that she did. And if she did and he took no action, how did explain that to his wife? If my wife knew that one of my men was beating his wife and she told me and I did nothing, she would probably demand an explanation at some point.

Is this really that hard?

Zach Smith may be a good coach, but he’s far from irreplaceable. It’s not like the fate of the team hinged upon him. And it’s not like hundreds of men wouldn’t be waiting in line to apply for the job.

And he was roughing up his wife. I would’ve fired any of my officers for such conduct.

Is this really that hard?

Principle Matters

Let’s stop pretending that principles matter.

Ohio State football is a machine, a lucrative machine. Last year it generated $57 million in revenue. The budget for Ohio State’s athletic department itself is over $100 million. For reference, that’s larger than the GDP of several smaller nations, depending upon your source.

It is a machine and Urban Meyer is its cash cow.

Ohio State has perhaps the largest and most rabid fanbase in sports and they love their Buckeyes to a fault and demand wins. Just ask Isaiah Prince after his disastrous game against Penn State in 2016.

Urban Meyer wins. He generates revenue. End of discussion.

I’m reminded a bit of the Penn State fiasco. I’ll resist comparing Jerry Sandusky’s crimes with Zach Smith’s. Both are heinous in their own right. What I will compare is the response. At some point, Joe Paterno knew. He, along with a few other members of the administration, knew that Jerry Sandusky was raping young boys but hey, they had “a football season to worry about.”

They won games, and that’s what counts.

Will my beloved Buckeyes put themselves in this category?

Will rabid Ohio State fans defend Coach Meyer as rabid Penn State fans defended Joe Paterno?

Fallibility

Who cares about the National Championships?

Who cares about 85 yards through the heart of the south.

This is bigger than all of that.

A woman was beaten, roughed up by the one man she should’ve been able to trust with her very life, the man who should’ve loved her as Christ loved the church. (Ephesians 5:25) Let’s forget football and consider that this seems like a systemic issue. This poor woman suffered at the hands of her husband for years.

Urban Meyer likely knew. He had the chance to act and did not.

Urban Meyer is a man, a fallible man.

We can be disappointed when a man falls, but we mustn’t be surprised. Men fall every day, common men, everyday men. Urban’s fall just happens to be visible, his sins on display for all to see.

On the other hand, we should not revel in them or delight in his fall…even if you’re a sorry Michigan fan. Remember what has actually happened here. Would we delight that Coach Meyer’s inaction possibly contributed to further violence against this woman?

He is the face of a program, an institution. Mothers and fathers charge the care of their sons to him. He is a leader, responsible for everything that his program does, or fails to do. He failed to act.

Now, Ohio state has a chance to act.

I pray that they will gird up their loins and act like men.

If—and that’s a huge if—these allegations prove true, they must fire Urban Meyer. It will be a win for everyone involved. Can you imagine the message if tomorrow, they released the following statement:

“Effective immediately, Urban Meyer is no longer the head coach of the Ohio State University. We cherish his commitment to this institution and all that he has given, but we cherish our values more. Beat Michigan.”

O-H!

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).

THE 413 REPORT

If you loved this article, and would like to learn more about foster and adoption care, and to stay up to date on our projects, missions, and programs, as well as the release of Bradford's third book, Brave Rifles, please sign up for our Newsletter. The 413 Project is made up of common people empowering and serving others to accomplish an uncommon good.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

This is a powerful read in a small book. The subtitle hits the mark with its description of, "A Biblical Treatise on Adoption." The author poses a challenge to the reader to stop reading the book upfront if the reader does not want to be moved to action.

   Janice S. Garey  

The call that sounds for the incredible need of emotionally and physically abandoned and orphaned children and one that when answered manifests the love of Christ.

  Anne Rightler

This book is a must read for anyone affected in any way by addictions. So many of the situations in this book seem hopeless, but as Brad so clearly points out, Christ is the solution and the only hope of man. As long as there is breath, there is hope!

  Scott Doherty

In Scourge, Brad offers us more than cold statistics or a cautionary tale. Instead, he offers us the solution - faith backed by action - to overcome this insidious problem Insightful and provocative, Scourge is a warning flag, guide post and rally to hope for all of us.

 Chad Chasteen

The Frustration of My Foster Sons

I’m breaking your plate and bending your spoon…”

…one of many commonly regurgitated platitudes express by my father, this one in regards to his imminent actions on my 18th birthday. Does everyone’s father repeat the same pithy sayings ad nausem? Curiously, I’ve been accused of this very thing my own children (traitors).

In essence, he was going to force me to “man up” by rendering our home inhospitable to my continued presence by the apparently ritualistic breaking of my plate and bending of my spoon.

The feeling was at least mutual.

The idea of living at home after High School was pure anathema to me. No one did this, at least that I knew. Not to mention that my parents, though I had love and respect for them, would certainly infringe upon my freedom of maneuver at some point. A break-up was as necessary as it was inevitable.

And so we did…we had a mutual break-up, parted on good terms.

I literally left home on my 18th birthday, forever…well, not forever, but you understand the point I’m making.

The Issue Realized

My oldest son arrived from the streets of Memphis at the age of 16. As he rapidly approached adulthood, two things became very obvious to us.

  • He desired independence.
  • He was completely unprepared for independence.

Straddling legal adulthood, he began to want to go wherever he wanted, and do what he wanted, when he wanted. He desired the freedom to do as he pleased. And he desired no accompanying responsibility.

Having spent most of his life in the foster system, he was completely unprepared for life, for any level of freedom really. Simple things that most of us take for granted like how to work, fill out a job application, or drive a car had never been taught, not to mention larger issues concerning decision-making and morality as the things he began to desire did not jive with the biblical ethic of our home.

I patiently(sometimes) explained to him that as an adult, he could do whatever he like, he just couldn’t do it here.

You want to smoke marijuana? That’s your prerogative, you just can’t be a resident of my home and do that.

You want to stay out all night? That is fine, you just can’t do that here.

You want to participate in premarital relations? Also fine, just not in my home.

The tension, the frustration was generated because elsewhere was just not an option. He desired things that were contrary to the established ethics of our home, but because of ill-preparedness, through no fault of his own, he could not do the one thing that would free him to do what he liked, be independently responsible.

Frustration

The apex of the conflict is the magical age of 18.

A date passes on the wall and suddenly, your an adult! You can vote. You can buy tobacco. You can sue and be sued, get a tattoo, join the military, play the lottery. You can be arrested and tried as an adult.

This seems to work out for most kids. They seem to mature into adulthood around the time that the law decides they are an adult. In fact, you could make the argument that it should be younger, that our society allows young men in particular to languish in the fictional condition of adolescence for far too long.

But what about the system kid?

Depending upon the source, each move while in the system sets the kid back developmentally from months to years. Every single move hinders their emotional and psychological growth. Thus, my 18-year-old son who spent five years in the system with multiple moves is truly a 15-year-old in terms of development.

But he desires the things of an 18-year-old and doesn’t understand why that is impinged upon. 

Therein lies the rub.

More Frustration

A young man ought to get busy with life.

I claim to not understand how a young man could be content living at home for any length of time, an increasing phenomenon amongst today’s generation.

One of my son’s friends hit me up in the gym the other day. He was deciding between remaining at home and joining the Air Guard or going active duty Air Force, and wanted some input.

I assured him that either option was a good option but that as a young man, while he’s able, he should quit being a sissy and just join the Air Force—contradictory advice, I get it—and get out of the house and see the world. Why hang around home? There was an entire world out there waiting on him to explore. Get busy living; you only have one shot.

I’m not sure which he chose.

At some point, a young man ought to desire freedom. A young man ought to desire independence. A young man ought to desire autonomy.

We ought to foment a young man’s innate desire to set out, to conquer, to go forth.

But what to do when acting upon that desire will assuredly lead to destruction?

Failure

Though I left home on my birthday, my parents had been preparing me for this moment for most of my life.

They had poured into me and I had internalized their cherished qualities of personal responsibility, accountability, and hard work. I had adopted their notions concerning ethics and morality. This was a culminating event.

Except that it wasn’t.

I actually left the purview of one caretaker for another, the United States Military Academy where, if anything, I was more coddled than at home. Yes, it was challenging, but I was fed, clothed, and housed, even had my laundry done for me. It was only after another four painful years of preparation on top of my parents previous preparation that I truly set out on my own, around my 22nd birthday.

And still I failed!

When I graduated flight school a little over a year later, I had three credit cards maxed out with absolutely nothing to show for it. My paycheck failed to cover the minimum monthly payments. I was broke with a pregnant girlfriend.

Way to go Smith!

Even with 22 years of preparation, I fell apart. What could we expect of those with scant preparation and countless developmental setbacks.

Even More Frustration

If anyone has any ideas, I’m all ears. Seriously.

How do we honor a young man’s manhood while protecting him from himself?

Is there a spectrum between justice and mercy?

On the far end is Option 1: My rules, my house. Either follow them or get gone. Seek life elsewhere. Neat and tidy. Nice and easy. This option errs on the side of justice or maybe unreasonability.

On the other end of the spectrum is liberal Option 2: Turn the cheek. Set some minimum standards and as long as they at least attempt to comply, turn a blind eye to anything else. This option errs on the side of mercy or maybe ignorance.

Option 1 is the easiest option, requires the least amount of deliberation, and is also the most likely to end up with the kid on the street, spiraling into destruction. Option 2 is the most likely to conclude with the kid abusing the afforded grace to the point of eventually forcing you toward Option 1.

Remember, this is not your average kid we’re dealing with. This is an emotionally traumatized kid with intense amounts of psychological baggage. I’m sure there’s a middle-ground we’ve yet to find.

Thus I find myself fluctuating between Tyrant and Accomplice, between Dictator and Enabler. Frustration ensues, giving birth to resentment then anger. The clash happens like clockwork. We’ve been through it three times now with a fourth underway.

All I know is I’m tired.

I’m tired of seeing the world betray these young men. I’m tired of managing situations that seem to have no resolution. I’m tired of feeling like a failure.

My prayer is for the Lord Jesus to move in the hearts of my sons. I pray that He would allow me to see them as He does, to love them as He does, to be what they would need me to be.

He is able.

I pray that my sons would no longer be frustrated by the promises of a world that will one day betray them, just as it already has.

My frustration matches theirs.

 

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).

THE 413 REPORT

If you loved this article, and would like to learn more about foster and adoption care, and to stay up to date on our projects, missions, and programs, as well as the release of Bradford's third book, Brave Rifles, please sign up for our Newsletter. The 413 Project is made up of common people empowering and serving others to accomplish an uncommon good.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

This is a powerful read in a small book. The subtitle hits the mark with its description of, "A Biblical Treatise on Adoption." The author poses a challenge to the reader to stop reading the book upfront if the reader does not want to be moved to action.

   Janice S. Garey  

The call that sounds for the incredible need of emotionally and physically abandoned and orphaned children and one that when answered manifests the love of Christ.

  Anne Rightler

This book is a must read for anyone affected in any way by addictions. So many of the situations in this book seem hopeless, but as Brad so clearly points out, Christ is the solution and the only hope of man. As long as there is breath, there is hope!

  Scott Doherty

In Scourge, Brad offers us more than cold statistics or a cautionary tale. Instead, he offers us the solution - faith backed by action - to overcome this insidious problem Insightful and provocative, Scourge is a warning flag, guide post and rally to hope for all of us.

 Chad Chasteen

My Wife Has the Gift of Healing…Change my Mind


Advocate: one who pleads the cause of another; specifically: one who pleads the cause of another before a tribunal or judicial court


God is described by the Psalmist:

     Father of the fatherless and protector of widows

        is God in his holy habitation. (Psalm 68:5)

God is a father to the fatherless and a protector (dayan) of widows, those most desperate for protection. Dayan means judge; God renders justice to the those who have none. Dayan means advocate; God moves on behalf of the downtrodden, those who have no patron. Dayan means champion; God battles on behalf of the powerless.

God is a champion to the dispossessed, a judge, an advocate, a protector.

I know of some in need of one such as this.

Injustice

System kids have suffered a great injustice.

They’ve been wronged. They’ve been victimized. They’ve been dealt a bad hand.

A million different circumstances put a kid in the system. Neglect puts a kid in the system. Addiction puts a kid in the system. Abuse puts a kid in the system. Really, betrayal puts a kid in the system. They’ve been betrayed by those whom they should’ve been able to trust the most.

The destruction becomes more poignant in light of what should’ve been. They should’ve been raised by a loving father and/or mother. They should’ve been cared for, provided for, and protected. They should’ve been loved upon…all in the context of certainty, assurance, and they should’ve been brought up in the way of the Lord.

The injustice is not without grave consequence.

Affliction Generalized

Where to even start?

It’s only been in the last year or two that I’ve even begun to fathom the trauma suffered by my sons. I’ll never fully comprehend and it’s tough because they mostly look just like any other kid…but they’re not.

The carnage cuts a broad swath across their bodies, their minds, their hearts, and even their souls.

The stage is set for a life of affliction from before conception. Circumstances and often the prevalence of generational sin dictate their suffering from the outset. The sins of their parents weigh heavy upon them.

Affliction invades the safest of all sanctuaries, the womb, as countless many are victimized by prenatal drug and alcohol abuse. The effects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and prenatal drug abuse persist for life. From this, they are born into a vast and varying smorgasboard of suffering…often, but not always, at the hands of their parent(s). They are physically abused, beaten. They are neglected, left to fend for themselves. They witness…things.

Ultimately, they are betrayed and then ripped from the only normal they know, dysfunctional though it may be.

The effects are not something you can just wish away.

Affliction Personalized

Like many foster parents I suspect, we entered the system naive to the harsh reality.

I honestly thought that you’d just send us a kid and we’d love on them, teach them about Jesus, and things would be just fine. That isn’t quite how things worked out.

Each of my sons languishes under a different burden(s).

Our very first foster kid who became my son was born addicted to crack and meth. I still remember his first seizure, when he stopped breathing, epilepsy being his cross to bear along with a host of other conditions including Tourettes and autism. For the first four years of his life, he never slept more than two or three consecutive hours.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome scourges another two.

One witnessed violence against his mother. Two others spent their formative years in the heavy and sordid meth scene.

Developmental delays abound, and attachment disorders.

One of my sons is hearing impaired though we still don’t know the full extent.

Because of this, my sons all have intense needs, special needs. They need Christ-like love, they need Jesus, they needed a forever family. What my sons need is an advocate, someone willing to take up their case and plead it. My sons needed a champion, a dayan.

Into this fray charged my wife.

Justice Realized

My wife is a warrior.

Headlong she charged into the battle for the health and welfare of these sons of ours, with no regard for her own well-being.

Physically, there is no magic bullet, no cure-all, especially for those with multiple conditions. Referral after referral, specialist after specialist, often with competing diagnoses—anyone with a special needs kid will understand.

Did condition X cause condition Y or vice versa? How do they relate to condition Z?

Come back and see us in three months…

Mountains of red tape and bureaucracy confront those trying to navigate an often obstructionist healthcare system. Frustration abounds. Wait for three hours to see a specialist who confirms absolutely nothing…and then do it all over again.

At one point, one of my sons had four separate therapies each week. Occupational therapy. Physical therapy. Speech therapy. Tennessee Early Intervention.

My wife is a fire-breather.

She didn’t sleep an entire night for about four years. One of my sons has a sleep disorder, the epileptic. He’d sleep for two hours and then be awake and when awake, he’d rage at the night, crying out against an injustice that he’ll never comprehend.

And my wife would hold him and kiss his face, for hours, and whisper in his ear that everything was going to be okay and rock him in his rage. Another son, we later discovered, also had a sleep disorder. Ami went back to work, loving and holding and kissing and soothing, the only way she knew how.

My wife is a fierce combatant.

A son labouring with mental health issues began to drift, slowly at first and then startlingly fast, descending into the pits of depravity. My wife stood before him and demanded accountability, respect, and righteousness while at the same time offering the unconditional love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

When he camped in the woods for days on end to smoke marijuana, she stashed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in his bag so that he wouldn’t be hungry.

My wife is the champion of my sons, their advocate. My wife is a healer.

The Fruits of Justice

In her advocacy, we see healing.

One of my sons showed up in a literal catatonic state as a baby. He had no startle reflex, no reaction to sound, nothing. Diagnosis after diagnosis accompanied each visit to an expert.

My wife lavished love upon him, flooding him with affection and grace, and she fought for him, she advocated for him. I dare anyone to stand in her way as she fights for our sons and slowly, ever so slowly, but as sure as ever, a miracle occurred.

Today, after several years, my son is alive and I mean, alive! He radiates life more abundantly. He resonates with joy. He beams with liveliness. He still has a ways to go but he is being healed as much as he has been healed.

The Lord brought him out of his affliction and into life…under the strong and steady hand of my wife, my son’s greatest advocate on this earth.

She has the gift of healing, in the caress of her strong hands, the touch of her kiss, the warmth of her embrace, and the steadfast fierceness of her love.

There are others, some more dramatic, some less. My epileptic was declared mysteriously free from a blood clot in his brain. The puzzled doctors could not understand why the MRI refuted the initial X-ray. Our kids with sleep disorders, generally speaking, will sleep through the night. One of our sons is interested in West Point, another in law enforcement.

And they all share a common grace, the fierce love of a godly mother…

…which manifests itself in her advocacy for them.

The world issued them an injustice, punishing them for sins they never committed and they will never know of the extent to which my wife plead their case to a harsh and uncaring world.

And still she charges, relentless in her neverending advocacy of those who have no one to stand on their behalf, my sons.

Perhaps you are gifted as she, willing to champion the cause of those in desperation. They are out there…would you be willing to stand and plead?

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).

THE 413 REPORT

If you loved this article, and would like to learn more about foster and adoption care, and to stay up to date on our projects, missions, and programs, as well as the release of Bradford's third book, Brave Rifles, please sign up for our Newsletter. The 413 Project is made up of common people empowering and serving others to accomplish an uncommon good.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

This is a powerful read in a small book. The subtitle hits the mark with its description of, "A Biblical Treatise on Adoption." The author poses a challenge to the reader to stop reading the book upfront if the reader does not want to be moved to action.

   Janice S. Garey  

The call that sounds for the incredible need of emotionally and physically abandoned and orphaned children and one that when answered manifests the love of Christ.

  Anne Rightler

This book is a must read for anyone affected in any way by addictions. So many of the situations in this book seem hopeless, but as Brad so clearly points out, Christ is the solution and the only hope of man. As long as there is breath, there is hope!

  Scott Doherty

In Scourge, Brad offers us more than cold statistics or a cautionary tale. Instead, he offers us the solution - faith backed by action - to overcome this insidious problem Insightful and provocative, Scourge is a warning flag, guide post and rally to hope for all of us.

 Chad Chasteen

Godless Army, Thoughtless Army—the Death of Mission Command

The second and third order effects of the widespread godlessness across the ranks resonates in a surprising way.

German Trust

In 1939, the German Army, the vaunted Wehrmacht, sliced through the bulk of Poland in just over a month, making short work of the defenders. Less than a year later, they would accomplish the same in France, defeating the well-prepared defenders in less than two months.

Much has been made of the combined arms maneuver capability of the Wehrmacht, of the concept of Blitzkrieg (Lightning War), and the quality of German weaponry though France actually possessed greater quantities of artillery and armor. How then had the Germans been so successful?

It was the concept of Auftragstaktik, mission orders, that fueled the agility of the Wehrmacht, enabling them to outmaneuver their enemies and subsequently overwhelm them. The Prussians developed mission orders after defeat at the hands of Napoleon.

The revolutionary concept involves the dissemination of the mission, and more specifically the intent, to the lowest level. Inform subordinate commanders what your intent is, what effects are desired, resource them appropriately, and allow them to express initiative and figure out how to accomplish the mission.

Mission orders/command relies greatly upon trust between the lower and higher echelons as much as the competency and dependability of the subordinate leaders. The initiative demanded by the concept starkly opposes previously rigorous and hierarchical implementation of orders, whereby the senior commander dictates to the greatest extent possible the actions of his subordinate units.

Mission orders found a home in American military doctrine as Mission Command.

Trust, the Foundation of Mission Orders

Arab armies lose battles and wars because of a lack of agility as they cling to hierarchy. They have no bearing for subordinate leaders, for sergeants, and as such, they quickly find themselves overwhelmed by the superior mobility and agility of armies executing mission orders as fuel for combined arms maneuver. See the Six-Day War or even the Yom Kippur War for verification.

It is the Arabic religion, Islam, and its subsequent devaluation of life which impedes the operational agility fueled by mission orders. Mission orders relies upon trust and a fundamental understanding of the value of each human life and mind.

I may be a General, but my value to the mission is not greater than that of the squad leader. In fact, I could say that the summation of the value of the squad leaders, in any conflict, yields the decisive balance. A religion such as Islam suppresses initiative and ingenuity, essential aspects of mission orders.

Conversely, Christianity frees the mind, fomenting the necessary trust in subordinates that mission orders demands. Christianity insists upon the dignity and value of each man, their intrinsic worth as the Image of God. God is no respecter of persons and as such all stand equal before Him.

Germany developed mission orders before World War One and it was firmly entrenched in German doctrine prior to Nazification and their collective descent into madness. It persisted in their doctrine which they implemented with remarkable efficiency.

Interestingly, it is Hitler’s departure from mission orders that inevitably doomed the Reich.

By July 1941, the Wehrmacht was closing on Moscow. Inexplicably, Hitler directed them to pause and deviate south, overruling his military commanders who argued for an immediate push to the Soviet capital. This ‘summer pause’ severely hampered the offensive as the Germans became bogged down in Kiev after encircling and capturing some 400,000 Red Army soldiers. From there to Stalingrad, the tide of the war on the eastern front turned against the Germans and they would never again regain the initiative, all as the Fuhrer violated the basic tenant that had enabled the Wehrmacht to be as successful as it had been.

American Trust

The American military thrives on mission command, the Americanized version of mission orders.

The initiative and ingenuity of subordinate leaders drives the operational agility and audacity of the combined arms team. At least, that’s how it is supposed to work.

The SOF community executes mission command routinely and effectively.

Early in my SOF career, I remember informing my roommate that I was taking a handful of aircraft down to Key West for a few weeks for some internal training. A commander in the Division, he could only shake his head at both the resourcing and the latitude to train my soldiers as needed, the operational freedom afforded by the command.

This has persisted over nearly two decades of persistent conflict though I observed more than a few battalion commanders who felt the need to direct platoon leaders on the objective via the radio.

          “01 this is 11, Building 1 secure, moving to Building 2.

          “Negative, secure Building 3 and conduct TQ prior to assaulting Building 2.

          “Roger.

Subordinate leaders executing Mission Command destroyed ISIS in northern Iraq.

On my second-to-last deployment to Kurdistan, I noted that a darkened room of 4 or 5 Fire Support NCO’s slaughtered thousands of enemy fighters. Meanwhile, we dispatched a handful of SOF NCO’s to establish the SDF (Syrian Defense Force) which made a decisive and audacious push from the north, critical to the fall of ISIS.

As we hosted the Theater Commanding General, he remarked with surprise that not a single officer was on sight overseeing the effort with the SDF. As a conventional officer, this level of trust seemed unprecedented and possibly even reckless to him.

While serving in Division, I used to field phone calls from general officers like this,

          “Hey Brad, General so-and-so, I noticed on your report that Specialist Snuffy in 1st battalion missed two physical therapy appointments but he’s still on profile. What’s the deal with that?”

          “Sir, I’m not sure. I’ll have to get back to you.”

At some point, untrusted subordinates become uncomfortable with being trusted.

My CSM and I decided to take our battalion to the field for a week with no tents, trucks, etc.,—a big deal for an aviation unit—just what you could carry on your back. I vividly recall a conversation.

          “Sir, we can’t fit all of our cold weather kit and our chow in our rucksacks.”

          “You guys figure it out.”

          “Is there a packing list?”

          “Bring what you need.”

          “Where should we set up camp at?”

          “Wherever you like, just be ready to train each day.”

The sergeants wanted to be told how to execute. It was what they had grown accustomed to.

As the Army has become increasingly paranoid about readiness and answering to its civilian masters about the affliction of soldiers, leaders have increasingly abandoned the mission command that our very doctrine centers around. This abandonment has its roots in trust, or lack thereof.

Leaders, fearful of failure and reprisal, simply do not trust subordinates at some level. Now, obvious exceptions exist.

My last boss was an intense mission command leader. I would go weeks without speaking to him and then start to feel guilty and give him a call to let him know we were still doing stuff, still executing his intent.

“No problem, Brad. I’ve been keeping track.”

It has seemingly not occurred to some of the senior leaders that accepting a bit of risk on behalf of junior leaders actually bolsters the organization as it strengthens trust and increases the competence of those same junior leaders.

Mission command functions best in a climate of trust yet micromanagement permeates the Army, at least the part of the Army that I have observed. I blame the darkening of minds and the abandonment of true knowledge for secular solutions that actually provide very little in the way of value.

Godlessness foments mistrust at every level, anathema to the lifeblood of our Army, mission command.

Brave Rifles: The Theology of War

Brave Rifles: The Problem of a Godless Army

Brave Rifles: The Danger of a Godless Army

Brave Rifles: Sex in a Godless Army (part 1)

Sex in a Godless Army (part 2): The Illusion of Gender Equality

Sex in a Godless Army (part 3): Do We Really Want Equality?

Affliction in a Godless Army: The Sins of Generals

Affliction in a Godless Army: An Army of Junkies

Affliction in a Godless Army: Suicide in the Heavy Rain

Godless Army—Thoughtless Army

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).

THE 413 REPORT

If you loved this article, and would like to learn more about foster and adoption care, and to stay up to date on our projects, missions, and programs, as well as the release of Bradford's third book, Brave Rifles, please sign up for our Newsletter. The 413 Project is made up of common people empowering and serving others to accomplish an uncommon good.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

This is a powerful read in a small book. The subtitle hits the mark with its description of, "A Biblical Treatise on Adoption." The author poses a challenge to the reader to stop reading the book upfront if the reader does not want to be moved to action.

   Janice S. Garey  

The call that sounds for the incredible need of emotionally and physically abandoned and orphaned children and one that when answered manifests the love of Christ.

  Anne Rightler

This book is a must read for anyone affected in any way by addictions. So many of the situations in this book seem hopeless, but as Brad so clearly points out, Christ is the solution and the only hope of man. As long as there is breath, there is hope!

  Scott Doherty

In Scourge, Brad offers us more than cold statistics or a cautionary tale. Instead, he offers us the solution - faith backed by action - to overcome this insidious problem Insightful and provocative, Scourge is a warning flag, guide post and rally to hope for all of us.

 Chad Chasteen

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