I am a Veteran, I am Complicit in our National Debt

I’m going to out myself.

I am 44 years old. I take no prescription drugs. My blood pressure and labs are all normal though my bp inches toward the upper end of the normal spectrum every year.

I train four to five days a week—I’m an avid weightlifter and hater of all things cardio. My current lifts are all within range of my max’s from younger days. I’ve lost a step or two, carry around a few more pounds of blubber but in all, I would classify my health as excellent. Anecdotally, I can ball my 17-year-old son up like tissue paper.

I am set to receive roughly 70% disability from the government.

A Great and Growing Immorality

The total outlay for President Trump’s 2018 budget submission is $4.09 trillion. Let’s write that out for perspective—$4,090,000,000,000. Estimated 2018 government revenue is $3.66 trillion leaving a budget deficit of $440 billion to add to the $20.6 trillion national debt.

The national debt is a generational issue. Though Trump’s proposal will purportedly balance the budget by 2027, every President makes similar claims. Yet, the debt continues to grow, even as we’ve raked in record tax returns year after year.

Our collective spending habits may one day doom this nation.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs expects to spend $57 billion on disability benefits next year. That’s up 25% from $46 billion this year, and nearly quadruple the $15 billion spent in 2000, before the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began.

And I’m angling to get my cut.

A Scandal

In 2007, The Washington Post published a series of articles outlining extreme cases of neglect at Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC).

Administrative errors allowed an outpatient soldier to drink himself to death and two others, who should’ve been restricted, died in a high-speed car accident. A therapist’s error led to the death of another. There were preventable suicides, avoidable drug overdoses, and even murder.

The articles described WRAMC’s building 18 as a rat- and cockroach-infested dump, with stained carpets, cheap mattresses, and black mold. Soldiers reported no heat or water in the facility.

Within a week of the articles, Defense Secretary Gates visited Walter Reed and declared that those responsible would be held accountable. Shortly thereafter, he relieved the Commander, Major General George Weightman.

As a result, the nation poured resources and money into the Veteran’s Administration (VA). They held oversight hearings, installed new leadership, and rewrote the rulebook. Veteran’s issues became even more of a flash-point.

“Support the troops,” was the battle-cry. To be categorized as not “supporting the troops” was political suicide. “Where’s your yellow ribbon?” Legislation and ultimately, appropriations, reflected this slant.

Everyone jockeyed to get on the right side of this issue. The fallout would not be felt downwind for a while, but it would generate broad and lasting ramifications.

On the Street

As a positive, our nation cares for our veterans in an unprecedented fashion. Our veterans, those who’ve served honorably and those not so much, receive great support, often for life, as many of them should.

Increased MEDEVAC proficiency and new battlefield medical treatments flood our system with a never-before-seen number of wounded. Previously, many of today’s survivors would’ve perished at the scene. The system struggles to cope with the sheer volume: amputees, double amputees, quadriplegics, burns, not to mention the burgeoning PTSD population.

We should lavish care and resources upon our battlefield wounded. They have literally stood as sword and shield on behalf of a grateful nation and I would personally donate a chunk of my pay to their care.

It’s the other’s such as myself that lend cause for concern.

A Cut for Everyone 

Anecdotally, A PTSD diagnosis yields a 70% disability rating, automatically. The soldiers know it. Barracks lawyers coach up anyone willing, as to the correct answers to the test to yield a positive diagnosis.

My last unit’s psych, a civilian, was pretty good at weeding out the imposters. Yet, a shameless major at the hospital would readily overturn his diagnoses, common knowledge in the ranks. In frustration, I phoned this major and demanded an answer. He informed me that he had been at Walter Reed during the scandal and since then, has erred on the side of the soldier.

Consequently you, the taxpayer, fund ex-soldiers with questionable PTSD diagnoses for life. Ever heard of garrison PTSD? It exists.

Going through retirement, I’ve received a personal tour of an entire system geared toward inefficiency.

My Cut

I come from a long line of mouth-breathers. My father was a great mouth-breather. My brother. One of my daughters. As a young child, I vividly recall a family trip where my father’s incredible snoring had me clinging to the edge of the hotel bedroom whimpering in misery.

For years, I’ve denied my wife’s claims that I have sleep apnea. Last year, I finally went and got a sleep study done and sure enough, sleep apnea. A rotor-rooter nose surgery coupled with a spankin’ new CPAP machine has me sleeping like a baby, very effective treatment.

I’ll also obtain a minimum of 50% disability due to this.

Six years ago, I grabbed a monster rebound in a pick-up basketball game. My ACL rebelled by ripping in two, to go along with a battered-up meniscus. Two knee surgeries later and I no longer play basketball, limit my poundage on the squat rack, and now have a joint that definitively responds to the weather. Otherwise I get around fine.

This was not a service-related incident but I’m sure to receive a few percentage points for this as well.

I’ve got a few other dents and dings in the fender. What middle-aged man who leads an active life doesn’t. I’m sure that several years on airborne status don’t help, but 70% disability? It’s the system. I was coached, as is every single other retiree.

Mr. Smith, how long have you had ringing in your ears?”

“Well I don’t really…”

You’ve been in aviation for over twenty years and you don’t have ringing in your ears?!”

“Well, uh, no, not really…”

Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) yields 10% disability rating and is impossible to verify or refute. Stiffness in your neck? Those night-vision goggles sure must’ve been heavy. Sore back? Those ruck-sacks do take a toll. “Check your pride at the door,” a retiring friend advised me as I prepared for my VA physicals. “Let them walk you through it.”

Over twenty years ago, the government signed a promissory note guaranteeing me retirement pay should I serve a minimum of 20 years. I upheld my end of the bargain, so they should uphold theirs. I’m just a little uneasy with the accompanying disability. Perhaps you could reassure me a bit.

The Spirit of the Law

The intent is righteous, take care of our veterans and soldiers and again, please don’t hear me say that our wounded veterans and those who legitimately suffer with PTSD don’t need and deserve support. They do.

The issue is that the notion that each of us should get a piece of the pie, that the government ought to be in the business of taking care of us, this notion will inevitably dilute the resources that can be applied to those who do need it.

How long can our fiscally and morally bankrupt government fund so many otherwise able-bodied men? At some point, something must give.

As Jesse Owens was deciding which college to attend in the 1930’s, his coach offered him some poignant advice. In light of scholarship offers and other deals his coach gave him this.

You ought to pay your own way through.

And this is exactly what Jesse Owens did. Oh yeah, he still ran track full time and managed to defeat the Nazi great Luz Long in the 1936 Olympics, defying the Fuhrer. Our willing readiness, as men, to be cared for in some ways epitomizes a loss of this grit.

I am guilty as charged.

Now, send me my check, please.

 

 

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

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

We simply cannot address the affliction of soldiers without addressing the penis and its proper usage, rather the implications of its improper use. We’ll address other afflictions wrought by pervasive godlessness, but sexuality rules the day. God made us as sexual beings. Sexuality permeates our very existence and as such, it must be accounted for.

Only a few dabble in a singular pervasive sin as afflictions imbricate and become indistinguishable one from another. Most of the afflicted suffer from a multitude of assaults upon their being which is to be expected.

A Godly Ethic

Like our nation, our soldiers are entirely confused about sexual ethics and what godliness in this arena looks like. Lines continue to blur and many descend truly into what would have been deemed utter insanity only 20 years ago. God clearly defines gender and sexuality leaving absolutely no room for vacillation.

The Bible records that the Pharisees confronted Jesus regarding divorce. His response addresses a number of issues.

          Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female…(Matthew 19:4)

Without hesitation, Jesus refers directly to the first decree in Genesis 1:27. God made them male and female—separate, different, not just good, but very good. (Genesis 1:31) Jesus goes on to reference Genesis once more saying,

          …Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. (Matthew 19:5)

It is a true statement that Jesus never expressly condemned homosexuality. He also never expressly condemned bestiality, or pedophilia, or incest. He did promote marriage between a man and a woman, as He condemned adultery, lust, and by inference, fornication. Jesus condemns any sexual activity outside of that between a man and a woman in the context of a biblical marriage. (Matthew 5) The rest of the Bible concurs. Only an extremely painful and distinctly dishonest exposition of Scripture will yield any conclusion other than this.

God made them male and female, separate.

They are different, distinct. This distinction is a good thing. God made them in His image, unique and with different passions and purposes. To the man, He gave the mandate to work, to have dominion over creation in the Garden, and to teach His wife what God had given directly to Him. God creates woman as man’s ‘helper’. (Genesis 2:20) Lest any think this a derogatory or diminishing term, consider that God frequently refers to Himself as man’s ‘helper’. (Ex. 18:4, Psalms 33:20, Psalms 70:5) Woman is to come alongside man and ‘help’ him in exercising dominion over creation.

God designates separate roles for the man and the woman. First, the man is to serve as the spiritual leader, to have authority over his wife and family. Immediately we begin to encroach upon contemporary thought patterns. The Bible speaks clearly on the matter. Nowhere does God direct the man to rule or dominate the woman, this is solely of the Curse. (Genesis 3:16) God does direct male leadership.

Many pull Ephesians 5:21 out of context when Paul speaks about believers “submitting to one another.” They propose a sort of mutual submission between the man and woman. However, this is a weak assertion tempered by fear of rejection and poor exegesis, clearly not the godly intent.

Paul does tell Christians to submit to one another, but then he goes on to explain what he means. “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” (v.22) “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” (v.6:1) “Bondservants, obey your earthly masters.” (v.6:5a) Paul says, everyone submit to one another and here is how:

  1. Wives submit to husbands,
  2. Children submit to parents, and
  3. Bondservants submit to masters.

Long ago, western society applied a derogatory connotation with the concept of submission. The Bible never quibbles. Nowhere does God call the husband to submit to his wife. The husband is the head of the household, indeed the head of his wife, “so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” (v.24)

Peter agrees, “wives, be subject to your own husbands.” (1 Pet. 3:1)

This straightforward biblical concept generates intense and immediate ire. Antiquated, masochistic, chauvinistic—the notion of male headship drives those who object into a veritable frenzy. They simply cannot believe that someone would advocate such a blatantly discriminatory and hateful belief. I understand how some might object without considering the full counsel of God’s word on the matter.

Consider the call given to the husband. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church.” (Ephesians 5:25) A husband is to love and honor his wife in the same way that Christ loves the church—to die for her, literally. In this context, the notion of mutual submission seems like a paltry concession for the sake of bristled sensibilities. Consider the power of husbands loving their wives as Christ loved the church and wives submitting to husbands in a godly fashion.

Again, submission does not imply subjugation or lack of equality or worth. God calls all Christians to submit in some way. God calls all believers to submit to the government (Romans 13:1, 1 Peter 2) and to the leadership of the local church (Hebrews 13:17, 1 Peter 5). It is the wife that God calls to submit to the husband “as to the Lord”, not as if he is the Lord. Her ideas, thoughts, and beliefs possess merit; she is just under his headship.

God said that this is the best way. The curse from Genesis 3 opposed this godly pattern from the beginning. Resistance or outright refusal is merely symptomatic of this curse. God made them male and female, in His image, with different roles, but of equal value. This is the essence of biblical complementarianism, a foreign concept to the unchurched and increasingly, even to the churched, as popular unbiblical thought patterns continue to invade the body of Christ.

Marriage has the mission of procreation and discipleship.

The very first command given to the couple was “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:28) God commanded Adam to know his wife Eve in the strictest biblical sense of the word and to have children and to bring them up in the ways of the Lord. This is the way that God’s people were to spread across the entire earth, subduing it. The Fall did not negate this mandate. Repeatedly, Scripture confirms the primacy of teaching our children the ways of the Lord.

God calls us to make disciples, starting with our own children.

Here we see the unique role and ability of the woman to steward life, to give birth, and her unique bend toward nurturing. Secular culture minimizes this unique capacity to mother as women desperately seek to usurp what was not given to them in the first place. What an amazing thing, to mother, care for, and nurture life from its very conception. I stand in awe of this capacity as should any godly society, holding the desire to mother as a truly sacred desire.

Please do not hear me say that a woman cannot and should not work or pursue a profession. By all means, I merely proclaim the sacred call of motherhood and the disparate ordained roles for men and women.

Marriage has the mission of proclaiming the Gospel.

Most importantly, as I love my wife as Christ loved the church and she submits to me as to the Lord, we display the Gospel to a lost and dying world. A biblical marriage is a visual depiction of the Gospel. The Bible frequently refers to the Church as the Bride of Christ and its relationship with Jesus as a marriage.

Based upon these purposes, is it any wonder that Satan and the world have continuously sought to undermine the sanctity of marriage, driving a wedge between man and woman? They often rely upon factors from point number one in distorting and perverting godly roles to exacerbate the conflagration between the two sexes.

Our nation continuously drives further from the godly standard, taking our army with it. Like the populace, our soldiers possess intense confusion over issues of masculinity, femininity, and sexuality. This resonates in their actions and vast affliction.

Ignorance of, and practice outside of, the biblical sexual ethic generates intense personal struggle and pragmatically, weakens our force. 

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

A Resolution for Men—Quit Doing Curls in the Squat Rack

If this is you, stop it. Just stop it!

You know who you are.

An old weight-lifting buddy of mine whom I had not spoken with in some time, messaged me out of the blue with an old but not unfamiliar lament. Some doofus was doing curls in the squat rack forcing him to wait as there was only one rack. He ran his options by me and though I don’t recall them exactly, at least two of them involved punching this man in the face.

I advised restraint, assuaging anger with a modicum of concealed scorn.

Man invented the squat rack to facilitate…the squat. The squat ranks as the most valuable and functional exercise. The human body is basically a giant hinge joint around the hips; no other exercise develops whole-body strength, power, and explosiveness like the squat. It’s also one of the most taxing exercises. A proper and deep squat demands commitment, courage even.

It’s bad for the knees—stop being a sissy.

I use the Smith machine—not quite the same.

I use the leg press sled instead. Watch me do 900lbs—please.

To clarify. I hate to squat, always have. I’m not a good squatter, but every Monday morning, the very first exercise I do is the squat. There is something oddly clarifying about placing a well-loaded bar across my back first thing Monday morning. After that, the rest of my week is a breeze.

And woe to you who dare to curl in the squat rack. As valuable and functional as the squat is, the curl ranks near the top of superfluous exercises, alongside donkey calf raises. “Curls for the girls!” If you feel led to curl, go right ahead, but you can curl anywhere. You could even, gasp, set your bar on the floor and pick it up to curl. Weight-lifters need the rack to squat.

Take your do-rag, weight belt, and weight-lifting gloves elsewhere, back to the 90’s if need be.

The squat rack was designed with a very specific function in mind.

A Fleeting Gift

A new year dawns, beckoning us to the future, the blessing of time. Some of you may not see another year. Some of you may not make it out of January. Each day, every hour, each breath is a gift, undeserved of our Creator.

The Psalmist reminds us of a sobering truth. “Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!” (Psalm 39:5)

As does Isaiah, “All flesh is grass…The grass withers, the flower fades.” (Isaiah 40:6,8)

I recently received a reminder of the fleeting nature of our days as I stood before my friends and family and retired after 22 years in the military. Twenty-two long years ago, I raised my right hand and swore to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. Twenty-two years, a veritable lifetime. As I contemplate the naïve and brash young man, standing with his entire life ahead of him, I long to communicate to him, to exhort him to make the most of his days, to not spend them on idle and frivolous pursuits.

Twenty-two years in the blink of an eye.

Our time is perhaps our most precious asset, never redeemable, once spent, gone for eternity. What will you do with your time, that which remains? What will you do with this year before you?

I have resolved to no longer curl in the squat rack.

A Gift with Purpose

Paul exhorts the Ephesians,

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15)

Paul calls us to walk intentionally, deliberately, wisely, likening the Christian life to a walk. Earlier he tells them to “walk worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (4:1), to “no longer walk as Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.” (4:17)

Walk in a manner that redeems the time and is worthy of that to which you’ve been called. In other words, don’t waste your life in idle and vain pursuits. Don’t waste your life seeking fulfillment in that which will never fulfill.

Our time is the most precious and valuable of assets and as such, Paul calls us to “walk in love” (5:1) and to “walk as children of light” (5:8).

Only such a walk is worthy, wise, making the best use of our time. From the Westminster Catechism,

          “What is the chief end of man?”

          “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

God gives us life for a very specific purpose. Anything less than that is a life unrealized.

An Unredeemable Gift

And yet men seem determined to fill our lives with the mundane, the trivial. We continually invent new ways to spend our time, each seemingly more pointless than the last. My sons, if I allow them, will watch videos of people playing video games—not actually playing themselves, a pointless activity as it were—but watching other people. The existence of thousands of hours of such videos on the internet speaks to a demonic sap of our most precious resource, our time.

Do you walk worthy? Wisely? 

Why are the days evil? The days are evil because time, if left unspent, will spend itself. One day you’re gonna wake up and be forty, or fifty, or sixty, or older wondering where your days went. Where did they go? Some stunning queries confront the conscience in such a manner including perhaps the most vexing of inquiries,

          Did I matter?

Did I even matter at all? Had I never of existed, would anyone have cared? Would the world have been any different?

Death summons us continually, an unwavering procession to the grave. The second we’re put under the soil, the world will begin the process of forgetting all about us. Tell me, who was the richest or most popular man in your town thirty years ago? Twenty?

No man on his death bed proclaims,

          “If only I’d spent more time watching t.v.”, or

          “I wish I’d spent more time at the office,” or

          “If only I could’ve spent more time accumulating.”

No man says these things. How many men go to the grave ashamed and regretful of a life wasted, confronted with the tragedy of unredeemed time. This is why Paul so vigorously exhorts the Ephesians to make the most of the time, advising them that the days are evil.

Perhaps you’ll not change the world. God calls some men to such a task. But this I know, you could change the world for one, maybe a few. Could you change it for your wife, your children maybe, perhaps a fatherless child?

Men, the world needs us to engage, desperately. Our wives, our children, our nation needs us to engage, to lead. They need us to get up from in front of the television, turn off football, set down the video game controller and claim that which God intended, that we would lead, that we would love our wives as Christ loved the Church, that we would bring up our children it the ways of the Lord.

Hurry! You may not have much time…the day is drawing near even now.

As for me, I resolve to no longer tarry about in life, toying with the inconsequential and trite pursuits of feckless men. I’m determined to spend whatever time I have left on that which matters.

I resolve to no longer curl in the squat rack. 

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

Brave Rifles: The Danger of a Godless Army

The Army’s in trouble, as is our nation.

As godlessness pervades, it consumes our Armed Forces with catastrophic consequences.

A Surface Morality

I’m not so naïve to think that there was ever a time whereby most soldiers confessed Christianity. Soldiers have always been a rough and rowdy crowd. My first 1SG chewed tobacco, cussed like a sailor, and drank beer every single night. However, he was a great 1SG and I remember him fondly. My first battalion commander was an absolute party animal who had an affinity for the juicy girls in the ‘Ville, yet he was a highly esteemed commander.

The barber shops in Korea used to be called the Steam and Cream for a very specific reason as they offered, overtly, a specific extra service for a small fee. This happened on base! The Officer’s Club at Fort Campbell used to have actual strippers…on base! Rampant drunkenness used to accompany just about every Army social function. Sin was rampant, overt, tolerated and even celebrated.

None of this behavior is tolerated today. The strippers are gone, the clubs shut down, and prostitutes forced underground. Unit functions are now much more likely to include family-friendly events, games and such, rather than alcohol.

Considering the moral rightness of these moves, how do we reconcile this with any claim of increasing godlessness? Would not the fact that overt sin such as this is no longer tolerated drive us toward the opposing conclusion?

Godless Nation, Godless Army

The military traditionally imitates American values, composition, and culture though it maintains a decidedly conservative slant. As society goes, so goes our military.

Spiritually speaking, America is but a shadow of its former self. Though most Americans still claim to be Christians, our behavior betrays us.

America is a post-Christian nation.

A 2014 study yielded un-shocking truths:

– The number of unchurched people in America would constitute the 8th largest country in the world (156 million).

– In the past decade, more Americans have become churchless than the total population of Canada and Australia.

– The majority of the unchurched have attended church previously and could be more accurately labeled as de-churched though the number of actual unchurched people, those who have never attended church, is on the rise.

– The majority of the churchless in America claim Christianity as their faith.

To clarify, church attendance does not make a Christian. Yet, the Bible stipulates church attendance for the believer, fellowship with other believers, and it is a good indicator of spirituality and spiritual growth. The Bible knows nothing of a Christian faith lived in isolation from other believers, from the Church, the body of Christ.

Americans claim, “I’m a Christian, I just don’t attend church,” or “I’m spiritual, I do church on my own.” Jesus would have no idea what they are talking about.

Most of America is de-churched. Maybe they were raised in church or grew up attending church. At some point, they walked away. Growing in number are the true unchurched, those who have never attended. A newer group that stands to shape America further is the second generation unchurched, those raise by unchurched parents or guardians. The number of second-generation unchurched will inevitably outpace the other groups.

Why does it matter? Let’s discuss the common grace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The grace of God blesses all men in some fashion. (Matthew 5:45b) The proliferation of the Gospel restrains sin. Wherever Christ is preached, things are just better.

Thus, as the Gospel is suppressed by the de-churching of America, things will progressively trend downward. The restraint on sin will diminish and the wickedness of men will flourish.

The de-churching of America generates another symptom, particularly as second generation unchurched people grow to adulthood. Biblical literacy declines yearly. Previously, though one may not have been of Christ, they spoke the language, having been raised in church. When you spoke of sin and repentance, they knew the language you were speaking.

Today, biblical concepts such as these are not in people’s vocabulary, not a part of the vernacular.

     “Sin? What is that?”

     “What is repentance? Repent from what?”

     “Doesn’t God love me for who I am?”

Sharing the Gospel message has changed. A different paradigm confronts the evangelizing Christian. We must account for the new context, and the younger a person the more likely he or she is illiterate in the basic aspects of Christianity.

And this is our Army. Our Army is a representative organization primarily composed of young 18 to 24-year-old men, the clear majority of whom are at a minimum de-churched, with a growing number being unchurched or even second generation unchurched. This is our Army and the darkness runs deep, just as it does in our nation.

A Snapshot

On September 1, 2015, the 39th Chief of Staff of the Army, General Mark A. Milley dispatched a message to the Army saying, “We have the most skilled, ethical, and combat hardened Army in our Nation’s history.” 

Is this entirely true, I wondered? Is our Army the most ethical in our Nation’s history?

As of the publication of General Milley’s message, I had 19 soldiers in my brigade under investigation for rape or sexual assault: rape of a friend, rape of a child, rape of their own child, even rape of their own special needs child. We were in the process of breaking up a marijuana ring in one battalion. We’d just had our second suicide in a span of a few months. Both soldiers hung themselves with their belts in their barracks room. Just a few months prior to General Milley’s announcement, I had nine domestic violence cases in one month.

Handling these issues consumed us. We formed two separate committees whose sole purpose was to handle the affliction of our soldiers, as we desperately sought to keep them from self-destructing. Soldiers spent so much time at the local mental health facility that the military health care system began cutting them off, something I’d never seen before.

This is the most ethical our Army has ever been? Now, as my scope of purview has increased, perhaps that has colored my conclusions, but I just don’t remember any of this from my younger days.

To deal with this glut of affliction, the Army leans on company commanders and 1SG’s. General Milley’s number one priority was readiness. Could we marshal our forces and deploy them to combat?

Soldier affliction due to the increased godlessness of the force and the corresponding increase in rampantly sinful behavior works directly against this objective. Commanders and 1SG’s find themselves caught in the middle, straddling priorities.

Army Regulation 350-1 defines training requirements. Many are obvious: Army Warrior Training, marksmanship, physical readiness. An army should be doing these things. Others are equally as important, but not as obvious: Anti-terrorism training, Operational Security, Law of War, Personnel Recover, Information Assurance.

Still others exist solely as a secular response to the rampant sin in the force: Alcohol Substance Abuse Prevention, Suicide Prevention, Combating Human Trafficking, Equal Opportunity, Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Prevention (SHARP), Resiliency Training (though not stipulated at DA level, resiliency training is a mandatory monthly event).

Consider that we hold classes to teach soldiers not to rape people!

Not only must commanders deal with the sin of the force in handling the immense number of personal issues generated by sinful behavior, they must also train the entire force as a response and in an attempt to prevent this same sinful behavior. Somewhere in there, they must find time to accomplish the mission essential training to prepare the unit for combat.

A 2002 War College study determined that all mandatory training would require 297 training days in a year. Regrettably, each year contains only 256 training days. Due to these factors, combat-focused training often takes a back seat to administration and dealing with soldiers affliction.

Maybe my last commander was correct in ascertaining that United States is set for a fall, capable indeed of losing its next war.

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

Brave Rifles: The Problem of a Godless Army

I love God. I love the Army. The collusion of these two drove me to write Brave Rifles.

But something is wrong…

A View from the Front

In 2013, the Army sent me to my first ever divisional assignment and to say that it opened my eyes was a mild euphemism. I cherished my three years in the unit, though I never expected to encounter the affliction that has become so unfortunately common.

But, I loved it. I loved the soldiers, earnest young men and women, many of whom truly wanted to make a difference in this world. It wasn’t lost on me that nearly all of them enlisted after September 11th knowing that a deployment to combat was likely imminent at some point. I loved the NCO’s, a magnificent group of seasoned and respected sergeants who served as the glue that held things together when they seemed likely to fall apart. I loved the officers, a group of committed young patriots—bright, energetic, and motivated. The lieutenants and captains are light-years ahead of where I was at a similar point in my career.

Yet, something was wrong. I could tell from the beginning, but could not diagnose the issue. I observed and watched. As a Battalion Commander and then the rear detachment Brigade Commander of over 3,000 soldiers, I had a front-row seat to the action. And as I observed, I deliberated. Something was amiss, but I could not quite fathom what. Lots of symptoms, but what was the source?

Walking around, you would never know something was wrong. Soldiers looked just about the same as they always looked. Our Brigade performed magnificently in combat, yet two things consistently captured my attention: the sheer breadth of affliction within the ranks and the yeoman’s efforts of commanders and 1SG’s in addressing the affliction. 

The Standard

The Army has always prided itself on being a values-based organization, insisting upon integrity at all levels. We drill the Army Values of,

– Loyalty
– Duty
– Respect
– Selfless Service
– Honor
– Integrity
– Personal Courage

into the heads of new soldiers from the first day of basic training. The Army Values are good, all necessary to build trust, an essential component in combat and to a self-professed values-based organization. Interestingly, the Army Values could have been lifted straight from the pages of Scripture. Were I to biblically expound the attributes of a soldier, they would probably look a lot like the Army Values.

Further, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) supports the ethos of the Army, reinforcing that which the Army declared important. Thus, things that may not be an issue in the civilian world will quickly have you running afoul of Army leadership. As an example, the Army maintains, for now anyway, a well-defined sexual ethic. Adultery violates the UCMJ. Now, it’s exceedingly difficult to prove adultery, as a commander literally needs a confession, a positive blood test on a child, or some other ‘proof’ of the act. Yet, it is against the UCMJ and soldiers may be punished if found guilty of committing adultery.

Again, this and other aspects of the UCMJ could have been lifted straight from the pages of the Bible. The Army Values, the Warrior Ethos, the UCMJ: these all serve as a rudder, guarding the hearts and actions of soldiers and serving as the anchor for the entire organization. Against this backdrop, I’ve labored over company commanders, 1SG’s, and the impossible tasks the Army demands of them. 

The Problem

We had a senior Army leader visit the installation, and as a Brigade-level leader I was privileged to attend a forum with him and the other commanders. He remarked that every commander and 1SG on every installation that he visited remarked that the Army required way more of them than there was time to do. An issue as long as I’ve been in the Army, the literal requirements placed upon company level leadership greatly outpaced their capacity (time) to complete these requirements.

Wong and Gerras from the War College drew upon some of this analysis as for years, the Army reported ‘all complete’ on extraneous requirements out of one side of its mouth yet with the other, complained that there was not enough time in the day to accomplish all of the necessary tasks. Well, which was it?

This particular senior leader believed the issue to be one of prioritization. The commanders should prioritize their requirements, obtain buy-in from their leadership, and then execute what they are able. Allow their senior leaders to provide top-cover on requirements deemed untenable or unnecessary based upon time and resources available.

This may brief well, but I wondered to myself if this would work. I never did such a thing as a company commander. As a battalion commander, none of my company commanders had done such a thing. As a rear detachment brigade commander, none of my battalion commanders had come forward in such a fashion. Every unit I’ve been a part of reported ‘all complete’ when it was just never feasible to have completed but a fraction of the required tasks.

In assessing this senior leader’s remarks, I determined that most company commanders probably don’t have time for that level of assessment. Company commanders exist on the front lines of leadership, literally where the rubber meets the road. To take time to make a comparable assessment is not feasible for most. Perhaps it should have been the higher headquarters that made this type of assessment. Besides, most things seemed like a priority. How would you prioritize when your headquarters deemed numerous competing demands as priorities?

I had a company commander sleeping at the CQ desk for several nights in a row keeping watch over an imminently suicidal soldier. I had a company commander spend several sequential days dealing with a love triangle in the motor pool. I had a company commander make so many trips to the local mental health facility where we sent struggling soldiers that he became known by name.

These are all good things in that commanders get paid to take care of soldiers and concern themselves with their well-being. On the other hand, we also pay commanders to accomplish the mission, to close with and destroy the enemy, to fight and win our nation’s wars, and every hour, every day, every week spent dealing with the litany of soldier issues is time NOT spent preparing their units for the rigors of combat. Here is the issue.

The Army standard is clearly a godly standard, whether intentional or not, though I believe it to be intentional. The Army, as it reflects the composition of our society writ large, is clearly and increasingly a godless organization. The primary challenge facing leaders in the modern Army of the United States is this,

motivating godly behavior from the godless, apart from God.

Herein lies the crux of the leadership challenge with which the Army wrestles. Allow me to explain. The challenge is, motivating godly behavior (compliance with UCMJ and internalization of the Army Values and Warrior Ethos) from the godless (majority of soldiers), apart from God (in an environment hostile to the intentional proliferation of the Gospel).

My previous commander, one of the greatest combat leaders I’ve ever had the privilege of serving under, remains convinced that the United States is poised for a fall and that we will lose our next war. I am not sure if I concur. However, virtually every issue the leaders of our Army grapple with stems from the impossibility of the above paradigm. One can only coax a certain measure of godliness from the godless. Failure is inevitable in this regard.

Frankly, the issue is sin running in opposition to values and codes which generates all manner of personal affliction in the lives of soldiers.

Sin necessitates mandatory training in an attempt to handle the issue from a secular standing.

The resonate sin in our force, not under the conviction of the Holy Spirit or increasingly not even under the common grace of the proliferation of the Gospel, consumes our force and its leaders, diverting them from the most important of tasks—preparing our forces to confront the evil of this world.

We must come to terms with this while we can. We don’t have much time.

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

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

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