Lauer, Cosby, Clinton—a Proper Response

Hardly a week passes that someone’s champion doesn’t fall.

Hardly a week goes by that a well-known man won’t keep his hands to himself, his zipper firmly secured in the up position.

The higher profile the better. The more firmly entrenched in a definitive camp—liberal, conservative, Christian, entertainment—the better, the more appealing as a juicy target for his adversaries.

Matt Lauer was the latest casualty, if we can call a man who commits sexual harassment a victim. Reports surfaced Wednesday of a pattern of misconduct. He presented a colleague with a sex toy including a note detailing how he’d like to use it on her. He summoned another female colleague to his office and dropped his pants exposing himself at which point, he reprimanded her for not acting. He led an office game of “f___, kill, or marry.” Surprising behavior from NBC’s crown jewel who commanded a $25 million annual salary. NBC immediately dismissed the star.

Ironically, last September, Lauer grilled disgraced and fired Fox News host, Bill O’Reilly over his sexual misconduct. “You were the guy that the ratings and the revenue was built on,” said Lauer. “Doesn’t it seem safe to assume that the people at Fox News were given some evidence that simply made it impossible for you to stay on at Fox News?”

They are not alone. More than 50 women have made accusations against Bill Cosby, that bastion of familial paternity. Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey are the most recent culprits from the entertainment industry. Politics seems a particularly fertile breeding ground for this sort of debauchery. Former President Clinton was/is a notorious philanderer. Disgraced congressman Anthony Weiner was sentenced to 21 months in prison for sexting with a minor. Several women accused even former President George H.W. Bush, at 93, of inappropriate contact.

Despite our nation’s earnest efforts to curb it, improper use or intended improper use of the penis is more a problem now than ever.

Collectively, we ought to thoroughly investigate every allegation. The culprit, if proven guilty in a court of law vice the court of public opinion, ought to receive justice. The accuser, if proven false, ought to receive a measure of justice.

These incidents lead us to draw two very necessary conclusions.

1. All Men Are Fallible

At the Command and General Staff College years ago, a classroom discussion turned to General Petraeus. At the time, he had commanded Fort Leavenworth, rewritten the Army’s counterinsurgency doctrine, and been assigned the unenviable task of righting the ship in Iraq. No mean feat, but he pulled it off. His star continued its ascent.

Several of my classmates had worked for him, and they exhorted his work ethic and his brilliance. “Where is the chink in this guy’s armor?” our instructor asked.

Enter Paula Broadwell.

Petraeus succumbed to a common temptation, an extra-marital affair. As his dalliance with his biographer became public, he resigned in disgrace. Her career was ruined. I know he was a general, but why did no one ever approach this man about spending so much time with a pretty, younger woman who was not his wife?

In all of this, we must be reminded of a fundamental truth, the fallibility of man.

All men are capable of sin, great sin, and all men, at some point, have a tendency or a propensity to sin. (Romans 3:10, 23) For many men, that tendency manifests itself in the desire to misuse the penis.

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

In Christ alone do we find salvation. In Christ alone do we find one worthy of our worship, worthy of being exalted. Instead, we elevate men, generate heroes and idols. Certainly, men exist worthy of honor and praise, worthy of being esteemed. I know many. Yet, when honor becomes worship, we’ve neglected the fallibility of man.

The unfortunate recipe combines fallibility with power, influence, and wealth. As many have a propensity to sin sexually and then are presented with numerous opportunities to satiate their lusts, why wouldn’t many fall? In military circles, the common and accurate statement is that leaders fall due to zipper, bottle, or money issues. My observations and experience have repeatedly affirmed the truth of this.

Only Christ fully mitigates this fallibility. The redeemed believer is equipped by the indwelling Holy Spirit, empowered to live a life of purity and holiness. Further, the proliferation of the common grace of the Gospel restrains even the unbelieving heart. Jesus was and is the greatest advocate for women ever and where Christ is preached, women are more cherished, protected, and honored.

Combine fallibility with power, influence, and wealth…add rampant godlessness and yet I ask again, why wouldn’t men fall in this regard?

2. I Am A Fallible Man

In the sixteenth century, John Bradford observed a group of prisoners being marched to the gallows. “There but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford.” Aside from his reference to himself in the third person, his intent is to express humility, that only God’s sovereign hand could place him where he is. Were it not for God’s sovereign hand, he could just as easily be marching to the gallows.

His statement is a loose paraphrase of Paul, “But by the grace of God I am what I am.” (1 Corinthians 15:10) It is the sovereign hand of God that shapes and molds me into what I am, not any intrinsic merit of my own. Apart from the grace of God, I am nothing but a miserable wretch.

Paul expresses the outworking of this mindset in the same letter. “Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you.”

Such were some of you.

Maybe me.

Apart from the grace of God, the unmerited grace of God, I would still dwell in my sin.

When we scoff at Matt Lauer, when we rejoice at O’Reilly, or Weinstein, or Spacey and their predicaments, we forget that such were some of us, perhaps even you or me, apart from the grace of God.

We ought to condemn the sin, mourn it certainly, but refrain from any kind of haughtiness. Well I would never do this, that, and the other. Given the right circumstances, the right opportunity, the right exaltation, I think you would be surprised with what any man might be capable. Do you think Lauer ever thought it’d come to this?

Never mind that many men wallow in a litany of disparate sins, maybe just not sexual. How many gluttonous men scoff at the sexual fall of others? How many greedy men scoff at the sexual fall of others? How many idolatrous men jeer at their plight?

When you think that you have it licked, when you believe that you have a handle on your own sin, you walk in grave danger. We may never let complacency rule our conscience. We must never let our guard down or think that our willpower is sufficient. We must pursue Christ as He conforms us to His image, for His purposes. This is the proper response.

In response to the sins of so many, I am thus reminded that all men are fallible. In their weakness, I am reminded of my own. I am as fallible as they.

May this truth guide our hearts.

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 Giver, not the Gift

It’s the Giver, not so much the gift.

From the pages of Scripture, God calls us to, “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) What is God’s will for your live? To live a life of joy, prayer, and thankfulness.

The object of our thankfulness reveals much. The author of Hebrews exhorts, “Therefore, let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken.” (Hebrews 12:28) Considering Jesus, we ought to be thankful for things eternal. We ought to be thankful for the Church, Heaven, God Himself, and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant. (Hebrews 12:22-24)

It’s the Giver, not the gift.

The Gift

We like the gift.

Last summer I inherited a cherry, ’89 Ford F-150. My wife’s grandfather bought it new and drove it around his little West Virginia town where he served as the town barber for fifty years. He drove it on fly-fishing excursions and after he passed several years ago, unbeknownst to me, my father-in-law had it restored, had a new engine installed, and drove it down to me. I was overcome with gratitude. I become a boss when I slide behind the wheel. Everywhere I go, it turns heads, catches eyes.

I should be thankful for this wonderful, uh, blessing. We thank God for our food before consuming a meal, and we should. We thank God for health, our families, our jobs, and we should.

But I hesitate to even use the word blessing, so twisted and perverted has it become.

To be clear, in sovereignty, all things come from God. I have a ’89 Ford F-150 because God decided that I should. I had my dinner tonight at the provision of God. My health, my job, my family: all come from God.

And we should be thankful for these things, these gifts, but…

The Gift is Transient, Fading

Twenty-three years ago, my father bought me an ’89 Harley Davidson Sportster 1200. It was a sweet ride, two-tone blue and grey. I quickly lowered the rear and installed a set of wicked drag pipes to ensure everyone knew I was coming and that it was appropriate to look at me.

On it, I became a rebel, a free spirit, an outlaw biker though the extent of my scoffing of the law probably involved driving a little more aggressive than I should have. I mean, I didn’t actually want to get in trouble, but my leather jacket and illegal, non-DOT-approved skull cap certainly generated an appropriate appearance. But, I loved my scooter, this gift from my father.

Today, it is no more. It exists only as a well-worn memory.

The gift always fades; it diminishes.

John assures us of the transient nature of all things. “And the world is passing away along with its desires.” (1 John 2:17) Isaiah affirms that, “The grass withers, the flowers fade.” (Isaiah 40:8) James confirms that our very lives are as a vapor, here today, gone tomorrow. (James 4:14)

In the end, all things will perish. One day in the not-too-distant future, Christ will return, bodily and in power, and He will set all things right. There will be a Resurrection and a Judgement, and all things will perish in the fire, the heavens and the earth. And there will be a new heaven and a new earth as Jesus sets all things right, for good. (Hebrews 12:25-27)

Nothing will last.

My cherry pickup will one day be a pile of rust. I may never have another meal after this one. I may rise to death tomorrow or the Lord may see fit to remove my family. Yes, we should be thankful for all these things, but we should understand a bitter truth learned by Job so long ago. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. (Job 1:21)

I Merit no Gift

Back to the blessings. I sometimes cringe when I hear people refer to the gifts given to us as blessings.

Yes, the Lord blesses us when He gives to us, but the failure occurs when we attach these blessings to merit.

Tyler Perry stood before T.D. Jakes’ congregation at The Potter’s House to inform them of his intent to donate $1 million. He was a giver, he informed the audience, and had been his whole life. “You see, when you have favor with…come on somebody,” as Perry pointed heavenward…as if man could earn or merit the favor of God.

Be not mistaken. God calls the believer to bear fruit, to live a life of holiness, purity, and obedience to Him. Yet, these works, done in the will of God, conformed to Christ, empowered of the Holy Spirit, though pleasing to God, merit no favor or special consideration.

I wonder, on what basis a man like Tyler Perry thinks his favor with God is based.

Is that why he has so much wealth, why God has chosen to bless him?

I wonder about the Christians in Africa slaughtered at the hand of Al Shabab. Where is their favor? Why didn’t they earn it? What did they do wrong? What about the martyrs, the countless number who’ve perished, often violently, at the hand of man purely because their faith? Did they merit no favor? Even the Apostles, the foundation of the Church—why did God’s favor not keep them from a martyrs’ death…well, maybe John merited favor as the sole Apostle not martyred on behalf of Christ.

God blesses, but He does so as He sees fit and not based upon any thing that we may have earned. This type of thinking inevitably leads to stratification based upon possession and inevitably a works-based salvation, both anathema to the word of God.

The True Gift

My two-year old son loves me, at least at first, because of what I give to him just like I loved my parents for what they gave to me, like a motorcycle. At some point though, a change occurs, a transition happens.

Though I am still thankful for all that my parents gave to me, I’m ever more thankful just that they are my parents. I pray that my son would feel the same at some point.

The true gift is the Giver, an unperishable, unshakeable, immoveable gift. I love the other gifts and cherish His blessings and thank Him for them daily, but with an understanding of an eternal truth.

It’s the Giver, not the gift.

My heavenly Father is the greatest reason I must be thankful this day. The Giver is the greatest gift I could ever have. My adoption as a son, my status as a sinner justified by His grace alone, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the anticipation of one day hearing, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21)

Let us be thankful this day for what matters most.

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

Fathers—The High Priests of Athletica

I witnessed a father in full performance of his priestly duties.

His son, maybe 8, was engaged on the wrestling mat in a bitter struggle coming down to the wire. He battled valiantly; his opponent refused to yield. Locked at the horns—manō y manō—the clock approached zero as the score remained tied.

“Step to the left! Hook the leg!” the father exhorted at which point the son looked toward him expectantly. The instant he turned to look, the opponent went on the offensive.

“NOT AT ME! LOOK AT HIM!”

The son recovered and successfully defended the attack. Thirty seconds.

“Shoot! Shoot!” The son looked to his High Priest once more and once more his opponent attacked.

“NOT AT ME! NOT AT ME!” This time, the son did not successfully defend and as the clock approached zero, the opponent finally turned him for a take-down. Two points! The crowd roared its approval. The priest wailed in agony as the buzzer sounded.

The boy hung his head in dejection as the referee raised his opponent’s hand in victory. The crowd cheered and as the applause abated, the High Priest’s voice reverberated across the gymnasium,

“YOU LOST BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T WANT IT BAD ENOUGH!” was his decisive proclamation.

An American Revival

In an excellent article in the Federalist, Heather Smith posits the existence of another religion which is usurping the traditional and historically central role of Christianity, the religion of Athletica.

She notes the absolute zeal and sacrifice that supplicants of Athletica place in their faith. They start discipling children from the youngest ages and she notes, “these disciples are willing to sacrifice almost limitlessly where their dedication to this faith is concerned.”

With absolute fervor, Athletica pervades in every area of its follower’s lives. Whereas most Christians reserve one hour a week for assembly, if that, members of Athletica gather nearly every singly day for several hours at a time. She observes that Christians compartmentalize activities into religious and non-religious while adherent of Athletica infuse their beliefs into every aspect of their lives.

“As Christianity fades in the West, dying from a desire to be like everything else except itself, Athletica has risen to the ascendance as the self-assured, pervasive cultural influence.”

Ouch.

The Priesthood

As insightful as the article was, Smith missed one aspect. Nothing happens by accident, especially the creation of a religion.

Every religion maintains a priesthood of some kind to steward and grow the faith, normally men who are well-practiced in the various aspects of whichever faith, men with zeal and tenacity. Normally the faith maintains a qualification or certification for the priesthood.

In Athletica, the father has assumed the role of High Priest with much effectiveness.

As Athletica has exploded across the nation, the High Priests of our nation have stewarded this revival and with intense discipleship, have ensured the continual expansion of the faith for the foreseeable future.

It was not until sons began showing up at my house that I was introduced to this priesthood. A few years ago, they started playing baseball and immediately, a member of the Order of the Diamond pulled me aside in exhortation, near rebuke.

“Your kids got a decent swing and is pretty coachable, but he needs some work,” he confided in a serious, hushed tone. “Here, take him here,” as he slipped me a business card.

It was a school for advanced skills, a “swing doctor”, whereby a priest skilled in the liturgical aspect of the bat-swing might impart his knowledge to my son, thus expanding his potential for future service in the priesthood.

“He’s ten,” I dryly offered.

“It’s not too late,” he assured me. I quietly pocketed the card and walked away, suddenly unsure.

Perhaps I was not doing my duties as the High Priest of my home…

A Founding Father

Marv Marinovich is to Athletica as Gameliel is to Judaism.

After an abbreviated NFL career, Al Davis hired him for the Oakland Raiders as one of the league’s first Strength and Conditioning coaches where he applied his knowledge of eastern bloc training methods to NFL football players.

However, it was his son that commanded his most zealous attention.

Todd Marinovich grew up under the strict discipleship of his father who was determined to raise him to the highest levels of the priesthood himself. His tutelage is the stuff of lore.

Marv forbid his pregnant wife from eating or consuming anything that was processed or manufactured, including any salt or sugar. At birth, Todd’s training began in earnest. He only consumed fresh vegetables, fruits, and raw, unprocessed milk. He teethed on frozen kidney. At one month, Marv began working on Todd’s physical conditioning. He stretched his hamstrings, learned pushups. He worked a medicine ball and a balance beam. Both activities became easier as Todd learned to walk.

As a young boy, he had never eaten a Big Mac or an Oreo. He took his own cake and ice cream to birthday parties. He ate homemade ketchup prepared with honey and was not allowed to watch cartoons, they were too violent, while being schooled in classical music and jazz, touring museums.

Marv brought in a team of priests to tutor Todd in football determined to school him in every aspect of the game. And it worked!

Todd Marinovich became a high school football legend, dominating the California record books. Sports Illustrated chronicles his exploits in “Bred to Be a Superstar,” which discussed Todd’s unique discipleship and his father’s quest to generate the “perfect quarterback”. They declared him “America’s first test-tube athlete”. Others called him “Robo QB”.

As a redshirt freshman at USC, he got his first start and was named the Collegiate Freshman of the Year. However, things had already begun to spiral. In high school, he developed a taste for marijuana and that continued into college. As the pressure mounted and his performance degraded, the wheels began to come off.

“I wouldn’t want to be Todd Marinovich.” – Todd Marinovich during his freshman year at USC.

After two years at USC, he actually made it into the pros but after three forgettable years in which he descended into the pit of partying and addiction, he was out of the league. The experiment was over. A string of legal issues followed. As recent as 2016, Todd Marinovich, the Robo QB, was arrested naked with drugs in a neighbor’s back yard.

I wonder what Marv Marinovich thought as he watched his son fall?

A Father’s Call

The father is the dominate player in a child’s life, even secular sociologists will acknowledge this. The father’s absence, the father’s presence, what he does or does not do is largely determinative and shockingly predictive of the future behavior of the child.

Fathers have abdicated, or are in the process of abdicating, their role in the church, in the home, and even in the defense of the nation. It is not shocking therefore, that we have a generation of men who don’t know how to be men. They’ve never been taught.
But what they have been taught, they cling to. Athletica.

Don’t hear me say that a father should not encourage his son on the fields of friendly strife, or coach him even. We should exhort them to excellence in whatever endeavor they pursue and you can learn invaluable lessons playing sports. I’m talking about focus and scale.

I also understand the temptation. I remember coaching a few years ago and I was beside myself as the team went winless week after week. I couldn’t understand it. I sank into a pit of depression. “They’re six,” my wife reminded me. I’ve actually had to step back from college football, my favorite sport, because I found that it tended to influence my mood in an unhealthy way. Ridiculous when you think about it.

I can’t help but wonder, what if men attacked true discipleship with the same tenacity, zeal, and enthusiasm as they do their priestly Athletica duties? What if we were concerned about our children’s spiritual health than their ERA? What if we were more concerned with their discipleship than their batting average? What if we were more concerned with their spiritual standing before the Lord that we were their win-loss record?

The most troubling aspect of this, as you peal the onion, is that many fathers are not concerned with these aspects of their son’s development because they themselves still walk in the darkness, blinded to their own sin and standing before the Lord.

This nation will go as far its men, its fathers, will take it. That is a fact, whether you agree with it or not. The great question remains, what will you do?

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

Facial Hair and the Retiring Warrior—a Critical Decision

A multitude of decisions confront me as I approach retirement. Do I want to buy into Tricare Prime? What about life insurance? Do I sign up for VA healthcare? Where will I work? What will I do with my GI Bill?

Another decision has been keeping me up at night.

What kind of facial hair will I cultivate in retirement?

As I’ve observed with increasing interest the actions of post-retirement soldiers, I’ve noted that this decision oftentimes shapes the very nature of the retirement itself. The lengths to which many go to grow the correct facial hair speak to the importance of the decision.

A Chromed Dome

Thankfully the good Lord removed one aspect of my decision-making. Years ago, He forced me into a corner as my receding follicles necessitated first a buzz cut, followed by a full-on shave.

This hurt. I mustn’t lie. For years I sported a slightly-out-of-regulations do, slicked back with copious amounts of product. I used hair gel—literally molding my hair into a brittle wave—as I cultivated my rebellious image, rebellious as long as I wouldn’t get into actual trouble. Think James Dean minus the attitude.

Annually, as more of my scalp began to appear, I came to grips with reality and transitioned, via a Lloyd Christmas bowl-cut, to my current coif. At some point, I began to covet what I previously had and attempted a re-grow. Ami quickly put the kibosh on that.

Today, my only decision in this regard is razor or clippers. I went with the clean shave for a few months but always felt I looked a little like the cyborg version of Peter Weller in RoboCop without his metallic helmet. I’ve settled on the trusty #1 all over for now.

The Lord also blessed me with a fairly normal looking melon, a curse tempered by a blessing as it were. Some poor dudes lose their hair only to reveal a lumpy or strangely shaped skull.

Which brings me to my dilemma. With expanded options comes additional stress.

The Beard

Maybe I’ll just do it, go full lumberjack, or full operator, depending upon your context. I think I qualify in either regard.

I can change a tire, the oil in my car. Last year, I learned from YouTube how to notch a tree and I subsequently felled a large oak in my backyard that had been struck by lightning. The surrounding situation required it fall in a very specific area. Nailed it. I own a red, wheeled toolbox and possess not one, but two pick-up trucks. All I need is a table saw to complete my qualifications. I’ve always felt the bearded, millennial with minimal man-skills was a slightly pretentious creature.

I’m no operator though, but for years I’ve admired their beards around the gym, TOC, or the back of my helicopter. There’s something satisfying about a fully-kitted dude sporting Viking-like facial hair getting ready to deliver some death and destruction.

Last year, I deployed with the unit for the first time in a few years, having spent some time in Division. As I sat in my first meeting with some of the ground force, reveling in their beards and tats I made a strange observation. I looked, and more than a few of them had their heads down, eyes fixed, thumbs banging on, you guessed it, smart phones. The characteristic posture, they were millennials! I chuckled and wondered if they could drive a stick. Their beards were glorious.

The beard brims with manliness.

I’ve always cultivated at least the appearance of toughness. Ever since this kid shoved me in 7th grade home room, I’ve hit the weight pile in an attempt to generate the appearance of formidability and I must say, I’ve been fairly successful. Since 7th grade, not even a shove or a push. I’m no Arnold—I thought to update the reference but do kids even lift these days?—but I have come a long way since I tipped the scales at 98 pounds in 9th grade. 

But the beard. The beard trumpets toughness. My son-in-law is a large man with a great beard and fairly long hair on top that he pulls back into a samurai-looking type thing. He looks like a big, tough dude. I’m not sure if he actually is tough; he is a millennial.

But the beard even provides some options. I could keep it trimmed up a bit, think Arn Anderson—I know, dating myself again—or I could go full ZZ Top with this thing. Could I one day put a braid in it?

Would the chicks dig it?

Aside from cultivating the appearance of toughness, this is always a consideration. Allow me to contextualize.

Would Ami dig it?

I’ve always wondered about food though, and snot. As much as I liked the way a beard makes a man look, would Ami be more apt to rub her face and hands across my smoother cheek. And what about food and snot? That must be dealt with.

Another concern, could I even grow a beard? The longest I’ve been without shaving has been a week and let’s just say the results didn’t inspire confidence.

The Not-so-Great Compromise

The goatee speaks to constrained recklessness tempered by a cultivated civility. The versatility of the goatee makes it an entirely attractive option. The goatee performs admirably under a myriad of conditions. With it, I could join a biker gang as readily as I could a barbershop quartet. I could get in a fistfight as readily as I could attend a PTA meeting.

A man sets his gaze upon me and he must move on because he just doesn’t know. “Guy’s got a goatee. He could be tough or, he could be a soccer dad. I don’t wanna find out.”

Stone Cold Steve Austin. What else must be said.

Yet, I am bound by associations. At my church, one of the other pastors is also a middle-aged bald white man…who sports a goatee. I haven’t approached him about changing up his routine to accommodate my decision, but I do believe that having two of us on staff might be untenable. Additionally, our other pastor sports a goatee with hair. I feel that three goatees on staff would be asking for trouble.

A Troubling Option

In considering the mustache, we delve deep into some risk analysis and really, risk avoidance issues.

Very few men can pull off the mustache without looking like a douche.

Let’s clarify. The Army mustache is a truly horrid affair. Bound by regulation, it can neither encroach upon the upper lip nor the surface area outside a vertical line drawn upward from the corner of the mouth. (AR 670-1, Paragraph 3-2a2(b)) What that translates into is an utter catastrophe. The only service-members I’ve seen with acceptable mustaches consistently flirted with the regulations. Think Warrant Officer.

Years ago, the DAP pilots all sported out-of-regulation mustaches. At one point, they convinced their platoon leader to grow out his own. As he wasn’t a Warrant Officer, he had to keep it within regulations and it was horrible, one of the worst things I’ve seen. A friend intervened and demanded he remove the offending follicles.

Now though, I’ll not be constrained in such a fashion.

I could go George Hackenschmidt or Dan Severn. Classy, but dangerous. I could even go Fu Manchu, that bastardization between a goatee and a mustache. Is it a goatee with a shaved chin or an out of control mustache? Paul Teutulesque.

With so many options, one thing is becoming clear. I had best make a decision soon.

Status Quo

Maybe I should just stick with what I’ve got. I don’t mind how I look clean-shaven. I’m just tired of shaving every single day for the last 26 years. It’s like Buffalo Wild Wings stress. I like the Teriyaki wings and stick with them, but the innumerable other options consistently murmur that there might be something I like better. Yet, I don’t want to waste a shot at wings on an unknown entity. So, I stick with what I know and like.

The Answer?

In my fledgling dalliance with facial hair, I consulted the source of all wisdom, Google. I googled, “cool facial hair for men,” and Google didn’t let me down as I happened upon an interesting option.

The #1 all over…hmmm.

Maybe this is it. As I’ve run the #1 over my scalp for all these years and I don’t desire to shave every, single day, what if I just applied the same procedure to my face as I do to my head. Hmmm. Simple. Easy.

The bit of scruff coupled with the no-nonsense up top speaks to a man to be reckoned with. I could go troubled-dreamer or blue-collar, David Beckham or Bruce Willis. As I’ve only another few weeks until I start terminal leave, I need to decide soon. The gravity of this decision is truly starting to weight on me.

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

Rape—What We Ought to Know

I am led to follow up my last article concerning the folly of teaching our young men to fight our young women, how this contributes to how men perceive women, their lack of regard for them, finding ultimate expression in the form of rape and sexual assault.

I received a number of responses and wanted to clarify and amplify some things.

Of a never-ending affliction

For those of us who have never been on the receiving end of a rape, it is impossible to codify or to understand the extent of the affliction. I am married to a survivor and I fail daily in taking this into account, into consideration. Rape and sexual assault afflict for life. It is always there, coloring feelings and emotions, dictating actions, under-girding thoughts.

For those of you married to a survivor, I urge you to be intentional in your consideration. Pastor Mark Gungor, in speaking on marriage, posits that the male brain is like a series of boxes whereas the female brain is like a series of circuits. For the woman, thoughts zap around the brain incessantly. They are all connected. They are all inter-related. The man has boxes. He goes to a box, opens it up, thinks on the subject, and then closes it up and moves onto whatever is next.

When I open the box of my wife’s assault (I cannot actually bring myself to say the appropriate words), I seethe with rage at the offender and am torn up with emotion and empathy for my wife. I long to hold her in my arms and cherish her and comfort her. I long for her to feel safe. Yet, inevitably I close the box and move on to the next. Without deliberate and intentional effort, I fail to factor this into my daily interaction as I must.

For those of us married to a survivor, intentional sensitivity and daily understanding must become routine thinking. Repent when you fail.

Of the culprit

Rape is the fullest expression of the curse from Genesis 3:16.

God declares to the woman, “Your desire shall be for your husband, but he shall rule over you.”

At first glance, at least the first half appears okay. Why wouldn’t we want a woman to desire her husband? Yet, language is decisive as the Hebrew portrays a usurping, a desire with intent to rule. The woman’s desire, from the curse is to usurp the man’s role and to rule over him.

In opposition, the man will rule over the woman in an ungodly manner. He will dominate her in an ungodly fashion.

It’s no coincidence that almost all sexual assault and domestic violence is committed by men against women.

The result of the Fall is that men and women exist at odds with one another. This oppositional construct has defined the interaction between the sexes ever since. The wickedness in the hearts of men as a manifestation of Original Sin yields the intent to assault, to take by force what God has reserved for marriage.

Of the victims

The victim is always the victim. Nothing justifies an assault. I fear that I may have unfairly portrayed the nature of sexual assault and its association with alcohol. No victim should ever be shamed for what she did or did not do, how she may have ‘provoked’ a man.

“It made me feel weak, empty, worthless, dirty and stupid,” said an unidentified Airman and victim of sexual assault. “Why couldn’t I stop him?”

A young lady, a friend of mine, shared her tale with me, a tale of assault from an older man. Only her refusal to succumb, her willingness to fight, allowed her to survive. Yet, stereotypes and corrupt leaders shamed and persecuted her to no end. She confided in me that these events still haunt her after 19 long years.

She did nothing to ‘deserve’ her assault. A wicked man with no regard for women did this to her. But the point is that no woman deserves an assault, no matter what she does, or how she conducts herself. 

I am led to clarify my stance on the Army SHARP program. I do believe we have made great strides in response to assault, in our support of the victim, and our prosecution of the offender. My frustration comes when that response is masqueraded as a solution. Our secular context forbids us address the true source of sexual assault, the lack of regard for women in the hearts of men.

And though alcohol and rape sometimes share a sordid coupling, we must refuse to allow that to color our support of any victim and our condemnation of the culprit, regardless of the circumstances. A thousand different situations yield similarly tragic results.

Of pragmatics

A recent internet video showed a young woman who was sick and tired of trying not to be raped. She and several other women displayed the various means they use—from whistles and pepper spray to routes and habits—whereby they minimize the risk of being raped.

Their point was, they shouldn’t have to do this. They shouldn’t have to go to these extremes to keep from being raped.

And they are correct. A woman should be able to dress how she likes, even scantily as she sees fit and is comfortable with (I’ll here resist the urge to advocate modesty). A woman should be able to go where she pleases. She should be able to drink and have a good time if she desires, without worrying about being assaulted. She should be able to become as intimate with a man as she desires and say “no” at any point and the man should stop immediately, respecting her desires.

Unfortunately, the wicked hearts of sinful men assure us of the fallacy of such a line of thinking.

We adopted my son Tevin from inner-city Memphis some time ago. After a court visit, we drove through his old neighborhood. In front of his old house, my wife wanted to get out and walk around.

“Woman, we ain’t getting out in this neighborhood.”

“Why not?”

“Baby, they don’t let white people walk around down here.”

“You’re crazy!”

At which point, Tevin leaned forward and resolutely affirmed, “They don’t let white people walk around down here.”

Now, this is America. I should be able to walk where I please. However, pragmatics and the sin of men necessitates prudence just like it necessitates prudence in the life of a woman, an unfortunate and sad reality of our fallen world. I jokingly (but not) exhort my daughters to stay away from the barracks.

On healing

Sin shattered the harmony between God and man, between man and woman, and between man and Creation. As man and women sit in opposition to one another, we require a Mediator. It is Christ who heals, Christ who reconciles. As He reconciles men to God, He likewise reconciles men to women.

Before Christ, I had only the faintest idea of what it meant to love my wife, that I should love her as Christ loved the Church. (Ephesians 5:25) Christ taught me that love is patient and kind, that it does not envy or boast, that it does not insist on its own way, that it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) Only in Christ do I find the selflessness to honor my wife as she deserves.

It is the same for all men.

Christ is the biggest advocate of women that there ever was. It is only the society founded upon the Judeo-Christian ethic that properly esteems women. Absent Christ and the common grace of the Gospel, society drifts into domineering patriarchy. As our nation drifts further into godlessness, as the Gospel is preached less, as common grace diminishes, I fear for our collective women.

Dare I say that all women desire a godly man to honor and cherish them. Rape and sexual assault shatters that dream, betraying trust, breaking hearts, and resonating for a lifetime. This wickedness wounds deeper than I know.

Only one thing remains. It is the LORD alone who heals the brokenhearted and binds up our wounds. (Psalm 147:3) There is hope in Him. As a survivor or as someone who loves a survivor, would you turn to Him today?

 

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

Just One of the Guys—the Folly of Teaching our Young Men to Fight Young Women

Last Saturday, I watched a father coach his son as he brutalized a young lady.

Put your left leg out. Use your bodyweight. Push her head down!”

Shockingly, this didn’t happen in a dark alley. The man wasn’t a member of ISIS teaching his son the finer aspects of assaulting a woman. This occurred at my son’s wrestling meet.

State rules vary but in general, if there are not enough girls to have their own division, then the school must allow them to compete with the boys. Our district has enough female high school wrestlers to have their own division. Middle school and below are co-ed.

I had never seen so many girls at a tournament. I witnessed numerous co-ed matches. Wrestling is an entirely physical sport. Power, speed, balance, and aggression yield victory. Save for one match, every girl was dominated by her male opponent.

I watched in astonishment as one young man literally slammed his female opponent to the mat and pinned her in the span of about 10 seconds. She got up crying.

Wrestling is not only physical, but intimate. Legs wrap around waists and other parts. Parts contact parts. Hands seek and find purchase where they may.

Yet for the sake of equality, we ignore a fundamental truth—co-ed combat sports effectively teach our sons to hurt women.

Military Gender Policy—Affirming Ridiculousness

Our young men suffer from a severe lack of regard for young women. It’s what we’ve taught them.

Fast-forward and the young man and woman have enlisted in the military. For years, this man was taught that this young lady was no different than he, nothing special. The military reinforces this notion.

They go to integrated basic training where they might share a barracks, certainly a tent in the field. They do Combatives where again, she is another combatant, just one of the guys.

They arrive to the unit and live in the same barracks, under the same roof. One night, they all go out drinking and under the influence of alcohol and the thumpin’ house music, he notices that she is not exactly one of the guys. She possesses a vagina which at that point, he begins to covet.

Her judgment swayed by her own imbibing, they end up in a barracks room or a buddy’s apartment where he takes what he wants from her, whether she’s willing to give it or not. Why not? She’s just one of the guys. Young men take things from one another all the time.

Equality, right?

This sickening scenario plays out time and again.

My last three positions in the military required I attend a monthly sexual assault board whereby the status of each sexual assault case was reviewed. Each unit took turns reviewing what they were doing to address the issue of sexual assault.

“We’re really gett’n after it.”—obligatory statement regarding the unit’s aggressive posture in “combating” sexual assault.

We sprinkle literature around unit areas to ostensibly teach soldier’s not to rape one another. We hold impromptu discussions during physical training in addition to the mandatory training requirements to tell our soldier’s not to rape. Some enterprising units generate programs or events. A motorcycle ride! Maybe a sexual assault awareness walk! That should do the trick.

Please forgive my sarcasm but not of these things has likely every prevented a single sexual assault. The military is pretty good at responding to sexual assault but with regard to prevention, our secular culture ties our hands. This point was brought to light during one of the last meetings I attended.

The NCO in charge of the program made the statement that they’d been doing the same thing for the four years he had overseen the program and had yet to see a change. Young male soldiers continue to assault young female soldiers, usually under the influence of alcohol.

Unable to contain myself, I raised my hand and mildly suggested that since young men have no regard for young women these days, perhaps putting them under the same roof with alcohol was a bad idea. The general stared at me blankly, laughed off my suggestion, and then went back to the discussion.

Biology and Other Ridiculousness

Let’s return to the wrestling mat.

I am led to dispel ideas that in a different time would have been considered intensely obvious. Our present insanity necessitates this digression. Please forgive me.

Boys are stronger than girls…and generally more aggressive. Gasp.

Young men excel at the application of blunt force trauma. In fact, many of them view this as a perfectly acceptable solution to a litany of problems. This is not a trait shared with the fairer sex.

Consider the lunacy of transgender girls (boys who ‘identify’ as girls) participating in girls’ sports. They dominate. Period. No matter how they ‘identify’ their biology screams ‘boy!’ The undeniable physics takes care of the rest. Boys are winning female track meets and weight-lifting. Boys are dominating girls in volleyball and softball. Fallon Fox, a biological male, destroyed his opponent Tamikka Brents in the first round, issuing a concussion and a crushed orbital bone.

You already know this though.

Theology and Other Ridiculousness

Let’s suppose there exists, for a minute, a female who can hold her own with the young men. They exist. I observed a young lady trounce a middling young man on the wrestling mat this last weekend. As the ref raised the young lady’s hand in victory, the boy hung his head in shame and slouched toward his disappointed father.

Just because we could do something, does this mean we ought to?

The Bible advocates for the elevation of women. Let’s consider, for the sake of time, two aspects.

Consider the created order. God created everything—the earth, sun, the moon, the sky. He populated the planet with every animal, the beasts of the field and the fish in the sea. He created man in His image to have dominion, to rule over the earth. He created the Garden and He placed man in the Garden, to work it. And when all of creation was ready, prepared, only then did He bring forth woman. (Genesis 1,2)

The created order trumpets the elevation of women.

Second, God calls the man to love his wife as Christ loved the church. (Ephesians 5:25) The husband is to die for his wife and really, to live for her. He is to teach her God’s ways, protect her, cherish her, treasure her.

God’s command to the husband testifies to the elevation of women.

Man’s command to his sons to fight them, under the guise of equality, demotes them.

We have a rule, “treat a girl like a flower.” Any of my sons will echo this on command. If one of them hits the other, I deal with it in a kind of, “No blood-no foul” manner. When one of them lays a hand on my granddaughter, I come down on them as the wrath of God.

I don’t want a young man for my daughters who will treat them as one of the guys. I don’t want for them a young man who will punch them, maybe try to choke them out for fun, or ridicule their weaknesses. I would like a young man to treat my daughters as she deserves, like a flower.

What’s a Man to Do?

I quietly pulled the coach aside and explained to him that my son would not wrestle a girl and if that meant he had to forfeit a match, that was okay. I didn’t want to make a big deal out it, a spectacle, and I didn’t want to make any young lady feel bad. The coach was supportive.

Another young man had, in his division, all girls. The coach offered him the opportunity to fleet up to the next division. He chose to remain in his division and compete against the girls. He dominated them all, even making one cry, until the aforementioned young gal crushed him. I don’t think it worked out the way he thought it might.

Where was this young man’s father? What was he taught by this?

The fact is, gender ‘equality’ taught and reinforced in places like the wrestling mat and the military, directly endangers legions of young women.

Fathers, how long will we punish our daughters with our sons before we say, “enough”? 

 

 

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

Wartime Reflections: No Surrender in the Heart of a Warrior

I hope to never mistake one of our soldiers for a choir boy.

I want our fighting men to be a brash, rough-and-tumble bunch. Since it all started, militaries sought to foment the fighting spirit in its warriors. Over the centuries, we’ve honed the craft in extracting the exact measure of refined aggression from our young men.

We build them into hyper-actualized images of themselves. How else would one storm an enemy foxhole under withering fire or pull a wounded comrade to safety? These traits we harness find a home on the battlefield.

Yet, as we inevitably come face-to-face with the Almighty, we quickly find ourselves at odds with many of these same traits.

We’ll start with the easiest first.

A Slave of Time

I am dominated by time and an awareness of time.

I was raised to be punctual, attended military college where punctuality was demanded, and for nearly two decades, have served in the most time centric organization in the history of the universe. Our entire existence revolves around time and timeliness.

As I am soon to be retired, I’ve little left to do but out-process and attend some appointments. My time has come back into my control. And what do I do? I’ve made a calendar and scheduled my time, all of it. I’ve even induced stress upon myself in attempting to meet the requirements that I have scheduled…for myself!

God calls us to rest, in Him.

Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10a)

God calls us to be still before the presence of God. The busyness of military life can cloud our minds and spirits whereby we lose sight of why we were doing things in the first place. We become slaves to the calendar, to the ticking hands of the nearest clock. The pace and demands of military life rarely afford a man the opportunity to merely rest in Him.

Self-reliance

In a time of distress, I rely upon myself and my teammates. The Army is in the business of shaping events, molding outcomes, bending the will of men. Amid chaos, I am taught to establish and apply order, as I deliver disorder unto the enemy.

Training and combat generate focus, unparalleled focus. From Napoleon, “I see only one thing, namely the enemy’s main body. I try to crush it, confident that secondary matters will then settle themselves.”

The issue of control dominates the military mind…and we aren’t ashamed of it. We will readily tell you that we seek to shape events, control those around us.

From the Command Master Chief in G.I. Jane (Yes I saw it and yes, I hated it, but this is a great quote) “The ebb and flow of the Atlantic tides, the drift of the continents, the very position of the sun along its ecliptic. THESE are just a FEW of the things I control in my world!”

God calls us to the opposite, to relinquish.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)

So tight a grip I maintain on my reality that the idea of allowing God to direct my life is a difficult thing, aside from the silly notion that God needs my permission to do anything. After coming to faith in Christ in 2005, God steadily expanded His purview over my life and as He steadily took control, at one point I shouted at Ami in frustration, “It can’t all be about God can it!?” It seems that God had quite a different idea about the nature of things than I did.

Shaming Weakness

During some training once, one of the ground force fell from the fast rope, about 20 feet, and hurt his back. One of the guys came in with a downcast countenance and reported it to the sergeant major.

“He’ll live, get back to training.”

“Sergeant Major, he’s hurt pretty bad.”

“I went down the rope and didn’t fall. Maybe he’ll hold on a little tighter next time!”

Perhaps Secretary of Defense Mattis epitomizes the bluster best. In speaking to a group of sailors he extoled them, “You’re not some **** sitting on the sidelines.” Previously, when speaking of anti-war protestors, he urged those who meet one to wink at his girlfriend, “because she knows she’s dating a ****.”

The military eschews weakness, despises it. We seek to root out weakness, to identify it, and then to eliminate it, suppress it, remove it. From basic indoctrination into advanced training and into the units, the military exhorts soldiers to be brave, courageous. Never show weakness. Ever.

God shows His strength in our weakness.

Concerning the thorn in his flesh, Paul writes, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) The weakness of Paul’s flesh displays the power of God.

I had a friend ask me once about the type of people God used in the Bible. He was surprised that God would lean upon a coward or an adulterer or a prostitute. That is the amazing thing about God. He takes our weakness and shows His strength.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. (2 Corinthians 4:7)

No matter how tough I may be, I’ll always come across someone tougher. My bluster, no matter how legitimate, at some point rings hollow. God is glorified, His power manifest, in my weakness.

Never Surrender

Surrender is not in our creed. I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist. We will ever accept defeat. We will fight and we will win our nations war…valiantly, proudly, audaciously.

Our language drips with this credo. Even in the face of overwhelming enemy, we never retreat. We retrograde. We delay. We retire a position.

Our heritage exalts those who’ve fought against insurmountable circumstances, those who’ve stood in the face of imminent death and fought fiercely, refusing to surrender. From Valley Forge to COP Keating, we’ve seared refusal to surrender onto the collective conscience of the force. Death before dishonor.

Paul tells us in Philippians 2 that at some point, every knee will bow before Jesus. Every knee will bow in surrender, either willingly or driven by the wrath of a righteous God.

God calls us to surrender to Him, to surrender all things to Christ.

Submit yourselves therefore to God.” (James 4:7a) The believer lives a life of submission starting with our initial surrender unto Christ. In sanctification, God calls the believer to submit in a number of ways: submit to church leadership, submit to governing institutions, submit to parents, wives submit to husbands.

Submission, closely tied to humility, governs the Christian walk. John the Baptist exclaims, “He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)

In humility, the Christian life is a life of daily surrender. We are not what is important. I exist solely unto the glory of God. My glory matters not.

In many ways, the bravest thing a man may do is surrender.

I’ve known some true heroes over the years, men who’ve looked death in the face and stood their ground, men who’ve literally laid down their lives for their friends. I’ve seen men march headlong into the fray without hesitation, but the bravest men I’ve seen are those who’ve walked a life of faith, a life of surrender, every single day.

I call some of these men my fathers.

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

Wartime Reflections: The Homecoming—a Sometimes Bitter Affair

It’s been a week and I still haven’t made my wife cry.

The military homecoming is a cherished ritual full of pageantry and joy. It is a time of reunion and renewal, a time of hope and love. Unfortunately, for many this season of joy inevitably turns sour.

The Expectation

For her, he’ll return and joyously sweep her off her feet and they’ll instantly reconnect—emotionally, spiritually, physically. Things will be amazing, instantly as the pangs of separation fade.

For him, she’ll be waiting in the well-ordered home, with the well-behaved children, ready to accommodate him physically and surrender her role leading the home just as soon as he checks the mail and chills out for a bit.

Reality quickly tempers expectation.

The Reality

For Ami and me, reality happens like this. For a day or two, we’ll live the fairytale, all smiles and cheer. Gradually, I’ll notice things not to my satisfaction. I’ll initiate with some probing passive-aggression.

“Did you move the couch into the other room?”

“You’re letting so-and-so go where these days?”

“What is the plan for this stuff over here?”

Ami will sense my not-so-subtle disapproval of things and will inquire, knowing that I’m unhappy about something. I’ll refuse to admit it for a day or two though my passive-aggression is both obvious and intentional. Eventually, I’ll cave and admit to being unhappy. In reality, I want her to know I am unhappy. I know, what a guy.

That’s when the tears start. Ami is in disbelief that I cannot ignore small matters for the sake of the joy of being with my family. If I truly loved her and the kids then what would it matter if the laundry was not caught up or the garage was a mess?

Here’s the real kicker, once I have expressed my dissatisfaction, I feel better. My tent is up. I’ve aired my grievances and am now ready to move ahead and seek resolution.

Unfortunately, the heart of a woman doesn’t quite work that way.

His Reality

As unbelievable as it may sound, in many ways combat is far less stressful than modern American life. We generally excel at warfare and stack the odds in our favor so greatly that usually, not always, but usually the mission goes well. Consider that in our nation’s longest war, we’ve lost just over 6,000 soldiers. Now that is a lot, but in perspective consider that we lost 23,000 in a single day at Antietam.

Combat simplifies life.

I close with and destroy the enemy and outside of that, I kind of hang around.

During the mission, things get complicated and hard. Personal risk and other factors induce combat stress, but then the mission ends. Most deployed soldiers never even depart the base and engage the enemy anyway. No dishonor in this, it’s just that their occupational specialty does not necessitate it.

Militarily, I seek the imposition of order, to establish process amid chaos. After 22 years, it’s just what I do.

Deployed life takes on a simplistic, Spartan kind of feel. Outside of the mission, my deployed life pretty much belongs to me. My reality consists of the few square feet next to my bunk where I neatly arrange my shoes and stack my Bible and whatever else I may be reading. Outside the mission, my time is my own. I work out, eat, read, write, whatever.

Then reality hits.

Usually a couple of days before redeployment, I’ll get an email from Ami saying something like this:

“Hey baby, can’t wait to see you. We’ve got a church function this Friday evening after you get home. Saturday morning, Miguel has a soccer game followed by DJ’s. That afternoon we have so and so’s birthday party and Saturday night, we have dinner at Scott’s house. Sunday after church, we’re all going to the lake. I love you!”

Whew! Life takes no breaks.

In a manner of 24 hours, my time and my life has gone from completely under my control to completely outside of my control. As deployed life is simple, home life is anything but. The pace and complexity of modern American life consumes many; it can easily overwhelm a returning soldier.

This is exacerbated by the sheer pace of return. I’ve literally stepped off a mission, handed my mission packet to my replacement, hopped aboard an aircraft and been walking through my front door 24 hours later where life continues unabated, as it must. The modern American soldier has little time to decompress, to process.

Couple these stressors with other issues such as PTSD or other pre-existing issues and is it any wonder that many military families struggle during redeployment?

Her Reality

Existence becomes a struggle.

My wife is a warrior, a fire-breather. Military spouses vary per their level of independence. Mine is on the far end of the independence spectrum. “Get five rowdy boys dressed and ready for church in 15 minutes? Piece of cake.”

Words cannot express the extent of what she has to deal with while I am deployed.

I’m sure that each family struggles uniquely during deployment. Our appliances break, always. I’ll leave and the air conditioner will die or the hot water heater will break or the dishwasher will go tango uniform. It’s like clockwork.

And a kid will misbehave, at least one. This time it was my 17-year-old, but previously it’s been others. I love my sons, but the thought of raising the five still in the house by myself sends me into a panic attack. Someone is always punching someone, our dog pukes on the floor regularly, the two-year-old destroys everything he touches and hits people with sticks.

“Mom. Mom. Mom.” They actually line up outside the bathroom door, waiting, while she’s in there. Madness.

I give little thought to the uncertainty that governs her existence. I cannot imagine being in a situation whereby for an extended period, I had no idea if my wife was safe or not. At any time, night or day, a knock at the door could change life forever.

We lost some men in 2006 while I was deployed. Per SOP, all communications were shut down until family notification could happen. Everyone back home knew that men had died. Across our community, hundreds of military families braced for the unimaginable.

Ami was running on a treadmill at the YMCA, crying softly, pleading with God for it not to be me, but swearing that she would still praise Him, even if it were. Thank the Lord, a friend of mine saw here there, saw her grief, and quietly let her know that I was okay. I’m so thankful to this day that the Lord sent this messenger. This uncertainty would destroy me.

And I wonder why she gets her feelings hurt when I complain about the dishes upon my return.

A New Reality

I suspect we are not alone in this struggle.

I know that we are not alone in this struggle. A deployed friend of mine called the other day to let me know that he and his wife had previously experienced issues when he returned and as he was a couple of weeks out from redeploying, wanted to talk about it.

I had no easy answers for him, only to encourage him that many others shared this struggle. 

Last summer, returning from what I thought was my last deployment, I swore that things would be different, that I wouldn’t make my wife cry. Within a day or two of returning, I’m ashamed to say that I did exactly that.

This time though, I find a new hope, a renewed joy. God has a way of doing that as He has driven me to a new humility, broken me to a place I’ve never been. When I fully embrace the notion of my position before God, that I deserve and am entitled to absolutely nothing, that only His grace has saved me from destruction, it becomes much harder to be dissatisfied with anything, much less the laundry.

The secular would tell us to find coping mechanisms, to communicate and find ways to ease the pressure of the reunion and these are all good things. I’ll not deny them, but they are mere band-aids on the bleeding ulcer of my sin. Only a repentant heart can deny self in the face of difficult circumstances such as these.

I’m still not sure what to tell my friend.

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

Wartime Reflections: Let’s Face it…Chicks Dig a Fighting Man

Feminists, progressives, multi-culturalists, limp-wristed masculine apologists—read no further, unless you’re looking for a reason to be angry. If you are, by all means continue for despite current cultural norms, I am led to declare a fundamental truth I’ve come to know.

Chicks dig the warrior.

You know it. I know it. Maybe you’re afraid to admit it.

If you’re a man, at some level, you want to be a fighting man. Perhaps years ago, you fancied closing with and destroying the enemy, but you’ve chosen another path. Blood never stains your well-manicured hands, but there’s a part of you that wishes it did. A savage part of you deep within longs to have your mettle tested on the fields of battle…and to see the women swoon.

Women, you know it too. Maybe you oppose culturally imposed gender norms. You detest gender stereotypes and think boys playing with dolls is as legitimate as females serving in the infantry. Any hint of patriarchy infuriates you but deep down, you love a fighting man. You can’t help it, it’s in your nature. Now, I’m not stipulating a bodice-ripping romance novel cover type scenario…but I’m not ruling it out either.

You want to swoon. I know you do! Go ahead.

A Warrior for a Reason.

I had meant to list the reasons a man might bear arms, but instead of speaking on behalf of all men, I’ll speak for myself. The reasons I fight:

            – Primary reason—I was in the Army when the war started. Not sexy, I know.

            – I drank the Kool-aid and bought into larger themes, originally the defense of ‘Murica, but later themes of good versus evil and the need for strong and courageous men to confront that evil.

            – I find closing with and destroying the enemy intensely satisfying.

            – For my buddies to my left and right.

            – To protect my women, my daughters and wife, from the wicked aspirations of evil men.

            – For my wife. She digs a fighting man.

There’s something overtly masculine about engaging in battle, conquering an obstacle, bending an enemy force to your will. It’s no coincidence that armed conflict provides a perfect outlet for young men, many of whom view the application of violence as a perfectly legitimate alternative in some situations. As such, it becomes a matter of harnessing said instincts and focusing them rightly.

I grew up playing football and I distinctly remember relishing in getting kitted up for ‘battle’. Marching to the field of friendly strife, surrounded by my brothers, preparing for battle with the enemy—I became a warrior and few things satisfied more than vanquishing a foe on the gridiron.

But did the cheerleaders notice? Coincidence that I married a cheerleader?

Fast forward 25 years and it’s much the same. I was privileged to be part of a small combat team responsible for rapidly responding to bad guys on the move. We’d get the word and everyone would sprint to the aircraft, gear up in an instant, and pile into the helos. As quickly as possible, we’d bring the aircraft online while the ground force locked and loaded, did final checks. Within minutes, we’d taxi as a group across the ramp, a convoy of imminent death and destruction, armed to the teeth, ready to descend from the bright desert sky onto the unsuspecting heads of whatever unfortunate bad guy had fallen into our purview. Other warriors stood and watched with respect as we taxied by. Did some kneel in reverence? My heart might just beat right out of my chest.

If only Ami could’ve seen, I’m sure she would’ve been impressed!

Maybe Conan answered it best:

            “Conan! What is best in life?”

            “To crush your enemies—see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of the women.”

If you’ve never heard of Conan, do push-ups.

Yes, chicks dig the warrior. I’ll make no concession or caveat.

Warriors All.

Okay, I’ll make a caveat.

Warfare demands courage and strength but courage and strength is not necessarily confined to the battlefield. Warriors prowl this planet in many different forms fighting on many different fronts. My friend refers to them as “fire-breathers.”

Chicks dig a fire-breather.

I read of a man with a sick son, a truly sick son. He battles a lifelong illness and in addition to the litany of medications, frequent hospital visits, and other treatments, he requires a very specialized diet. This diet is ultra-strict and inconsistent with standard American cuisine. This father has taken upon himself to be the primary food preparer. He spends countless hours each week preparing special meals for his son, freeing his wife from the task.

Warrior.

I know of still another man who walked away from his promising career while still in his prime. His wife had been diagnosed with cancer and he walked away without looking back to dedicate himself to be her full-time caregiver. For two years as she wasted away, he was there by her side, all the way to the grave. “I was able to love and honor and cherish.”

Fighter.

I know of another man who stood by his wife for years as she drifted in and out of affliction, as she betrayed him time after time. This man refused to relent and over time, his love won out. They remain happily married to this day, having conquered the demons of affliction.

Fire-breather.

Chicks dig a fire-breather. They want a man who will sacrifice for them, sure on the physical battlefield, but really on the battlefield of life. They want a man who will fight, whatever the battle, who will fight and sacrifice for those he loves.  The physical battlefield demands strength and courage but these fights often demand a far greater measure. Yes, you’ll die for your wife, but will you live for her?

And don’t think that working those ridiculous hours meets the criteria. Work hard, but that’s not what she wants. Who are you really working for anyway?

The Greatest Battle.

I remain resolutely convinced that the greatest desire in a woman’s heart is for her husband to lead, spiritually. Women desire a man engaged in the greatest battle, the battle for the souls of men.

Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of men sit on the sideline of this battle. Men have abandoned the church in droves, abdicating their role as the spiritual leader of the home, leaving it up to their wives to hold it together, to train their children in the ways of Christ. Many women make a valiant effort, all while pining away at the lack of their husband’s spiritual engagement.

Scripture is clear in assigning the role of spiritual leader of the home to the man. Scripture calls the man to lead well, to love his wife as Christ loved the church, to lead and teach her spiritually, to wash her in the water of the word of God. (Ephesians 5) Scripture calls the man to teach his children the ways of the Lord, to discipline them, and to disciple them.

I’m sorry if you didn’t want this role. God assigned it just the same. It just is. Most of the godlessness in our society is directly attributable to men shrinking from this battle. Maybe you’ve been tested in warfare. Maybe you’ve fought another battle courageously. Are your engaged in this one, the most important one? Why not? What is holding you back?

It’s not just that she desires this. She needs it. Desperately. She is desperate for your spiritual engagement and leadership. Though this should not be your prime reason, if it’s a reason, engage and see if I’m not right. I’m sure you’ll eventually come to the same conclusions as I did.

Chicks dig a warrior, a fighter, a fire-breather. Who is the woman in your life? Would you be that man for her?

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

Wartime Reflections: Loving your country is not a sin BUT…

Some days I wish Russia would invade the United States. It seems that the battlefield is the last bastion of brotherhood where men set aside pretenses, where a tight shot-group supersedes ideological and political congruence.

It’s not a sin to love your country.

And I do. I love the United States of America. I was a patriot from my youngest days.

I will unashamedly declare the United States of America as the greatest country in the world. I’ve actually considered, if I had to relocate, where I would choose to live and I cannot think of another place. If the Lord sends me, I’ll go. Until He does, I’ll remain here in my homeland.

I love the idea of America, the notion of freedom based upon the equality of all men. Concepts of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness enthrall me though I struggle with these things being inalienable rights endowed by our Creator. I find no guarantees of liberty or the pursuit of happiness in God’s word. Yet, they appeal to Christian virtue and I cherish them accordingly.

Yes, America has warts. Sin permeates all levels of our society tainting motivations and institutions. Nothing is truly pure; nothing is truly patriotic. Yet, my love for my country does not validate sinful corruption. In fact, I love the messiness of America, the conglomeration of ideas and opinions, freely spoken and freely heard, based upon a shared belief of equal validity—though I acknowledge the assault upon this foundational American aspect.

I love that strong men love her, not afraid to pick up a rifle and defend her. My wife and children sleep safely at night because of the existence of such men. Only a fool would try to deny this truth. I love this brotherhood of men who cherish the idea of America as much as I do, who have bled for her and in laying down their life for their country, were actually laying down their lives for their friends. I’ll unashamedly use the word ‘hero’ regarding such men.

It’s not a sin to love your country but…it is a sin to worship it.

Nowhere does the word of God advocate for any form of governance over another. It does however call the believer to submit to the government and to every human institution. (Romans 13, 1 Peter 2) Pay your taxes and submit. The only authority is from God and those that exist have been “instituted by God” in which case, rebellion constitutes rebellion against God. (Romans 13:1)

Nowhere does the Bible offer caveat as to the type of government or the goodness of the government. No, it says to submit. The only legitimate exception is if the government seeks to compel the believer to violate his Christian conscience. In that case, we must obey God, not men. (Acts 5:29)

Many do cross the line into America worship, draping the cross with a flag, cloaking the Gospel in red, white, and blue while earnestly believing that God has a special consideration for America, that America is some sort of favored nation. This finds root in the sacralistic sin in the hearts of men and we must take care to worship God alone.

In whom do we put our trust, God or men? Though I love this nation, I love it with the understanding that America will one day be a footnote in the salvation history of man.

I love her just the same.

On the other end of the spectrum are those who snub all things American. Know that your baseless derision of our nation and those who love her find no basis in Scripture, but are likewise rooted in the rebellious hearts of men. Pay your taxes and submit.

It’s not a sin to love your country but…it is a sin to hate those who do not.

I’m not even sure these men hate America, these kneeling football players. The protest has become so nebulous, motivations so diluted, that the original intent is obscured. Like so many, my flesh recoils at petulant millionaires disrespecting a nation that has blessed them with so many opportunities, especially a nation I love and for which my brothers have bled.

Yet, I am equally as appalled and shocked at the vitriol directed against them.

By all means, boycott. Demonstrate your freedom of expression by taking your capitalism elsewhere. Turn off the t.v. Go outside and play with your children. Express your lack of support for the movement. But for heaven’s sake, quit with the shameful rhetoric and harsh derision.

            Go back to Africa. Love it or leave it. Respect the flag or get out.

What of Christ anyway? Consider the striking contrast from the Sermon on the Mount.

           “Love your enemy.” (Matthew 5:44)

           “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matthew 5:46)

           “I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” (Matthew 5:22)

Let’s shift gears for a minute. A typical argument with my spouse will go something like this following my transgression:

            Me: I don’t see why this is such a big deal.

            Her: Well it is.

            Me: I don’t understand why you are so upset. (As I begin to get upset that she’s upset)

            Her: Why do you have to understand why? Isn’t how I feel what should be important?

            Me: (Thoughtful silence while I search for an out)

Her point is that if I love her, why does it matter if she should be upset about a thing or not? If something bothers her, that should be my concern, not whether her feelings are valid. If only someone had taught me this years ago!

There is a problem. Somewhere.

It is apparent there is an issue between the black community and law enforcement. I don’t understand it. I admit. I look to the statistics and believe that the greatest affliction of the black community is the abdication of black fathers. Yet, this is from my vantage.

What I do know is that my countrymen, my fellow Americans, and in many cases, my fellow brothers-in-Christ, have an issue. It’s not just rich football players. Millions of black Americans believe there to be a problem and that alone is enough for me to share their concern.

It’s not just that black men get gunned down in the streets, sometimes legitimately, sometimes not. Most acknowledge that these things, though tragic, will happen. It’s the lack of accountability in regard to some officers who commit these transgressions, or the appearance thereof.

What if the communication between our Commander-in-Chief and ‘them’ had went something like this…

“Men, I know there is an issue. I don’t claim to understand it from your viewpoint but as fellow Americans, I have tremendous respect for your opinion. Therefore I’d like to invite you to the White House to discuss the problem, seek resolution, and move towards addressing the issues confronting our young, black men. #allAmericans”

I want people to stand up and honor the flag during the National Anthem, but I want them to do it from the heart. This aspect of Americana bears the closest resemblance to Christendom. Coerced virtue is not really virtue. Our nation can never require it. This reeks of fascism.

And if some of my fellow countrymen do not share these same feelings, that’s okay. I’ll seek to understand that we may come to a common understanding and pursue a common objective, that our sons and daughters may inherit a better world. To that end, I’d think we could all agree.

I do not agree with these kneeling men. I do not understand their protest, but I and my brothers have fought for their right to do exactly that. This is a critical aspect of the idea of America. Though I disagree with them, Christ calls me to love them just the same.

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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