Godless Army, Thoughtless Army—the Death of Mission Command

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

German Trust

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trust, the Foundation of Mission Orders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

American Trust

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

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

The SOF community executes mission command routinely and effectively.

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

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

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

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

          “Roger.

Subordinate leaders executing Mission Command destroyed ISIS in northern Iraq.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          “You guys figure it out.”

          “Is there a packing list?”

          “Bring what you need.”

          “Where should we set up camp at?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brave Rifles: The Theology of War

Brave Rifles: The Problem of a Godless Army

Brave Rifles: The Danger of a Godless Army

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

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

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

Affliction in a Godless Army: The Sins of Generals

Affliction in a Godless Army: An Army of Junkies

Affliction in a Godless Army: Suicide in the Heavy Rain

Godless Army—Thoughtless Army

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

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

THE 413 REPORT

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

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

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

   Janice S. Garey  

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

  Anne Rightler

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

  Scott Doherty

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

 Chad Chasteen

An Open Letter to Non-Adoptive Parents

You are in the majority.

The vast majority.

Though Christian families are more than twice as likely to adopt as the average American family, only 5% of them actually adopt. Studies reveal that 38% of them seriously consider it while 26% of non-believers give it any thought.

Growing up, I scarcely remember hearing of adoption or foster care. I never knew an adoptive family or a foster kid. It simply was not on my radar. This condition persisted into my 30’s and years into my Christian walk.

The Holy Spirit introduced us to the idea. Ami and I had attended a prayer event and one of the things we prayed about was the end of abortion. As we were detailing the event to some folks, a friend asked us a question,

“If you’re against abortion, are you willing to take in the unwanted children that the end of abortion would generate.”

Our foster care/adoption journey began in that instant and has dominated our lives to date, at some point just becoming who we were.

I’ve hesitated in addressing this issue because I do feel so strongly about it. My fear is always that my personal beliefs would trump what God says and so my consistent prayer is that my own thoughts and opinions would blow away as chaff in the wind.

All I can do is present the facts as I know them and allow the Spirit to work in your heart much as He did mine. Would you hear Him out?

The Bible assumes care for the orphan.

The Old Testament law stipulates much in the way of social justice, including care for the orphan.

There’s really not a Hebrew word for orphan. Yet the Torah establishes provision for the yathowm (יָתוֹם), the fatherless. The fatherless were among the most powerless in society, the most helpless, and in His mercy and compassion, God requires His people to care for them along with the widow and the sojourner. (Deuteronomy 14:29, 24:17, 24:20-21)

The law even describes God as one who, “executes justice for the fatherless and the widow,” a facet of His character that is communicated just as clearly in the New Testament.

James describes religion as this, “to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:27) Here is religion, true religion, religion that is “pure and undefiled before God”. Forget a religion that costs you nothing, that makes no demands of you. Faith without works is a dead faith, not really faith at all.

Visiting” an orphan, gazing upon them with the intent to benefit them or care for them (from the Greek), taking “the least of these” into your home, is akin to caring for Christ Himself. (Matthew 25:40)

It is a Gospel issue, not a social issue.

From Genesis forward, the Bible demands that parents disciple their children.

And the most effective evangelist of all is a loving and engaged father. It’s not even close. The Bible declares it, reality bears it out. Children tend to inherit the faith, or lack thereof, of their fathers.

What of those who have no father?

It was several years into our adoption journey before I realized that adoption is a great Gospel issue. Our oldest son who we adopted from inner-city Memphis at age 16, began to struggle. We did some research and learned that kids who graduate the foster system without being adopted will almost certainly fail in life in some way. Addiction, homelessness, incarceration, children out of wedlock: affliction runs rampant among never-adopted former foster kids. Almost none of them will attend college.

This is a great social issue and for that reason alone, we ought to seek them out. Yet, the social aspects pale in significance to the eternal ones. Children with no father, growing up absent the most effective evangelist, demand a troubling question.

With no father, who will teach them about Christ?

Verifying Scripture’s urgent call to parents to bring up their children in the way of the Lord, reality demonstrates that there are very few adult converts. Most who grow up and leave home without Christ will one day die apart from Christ.

And every year we “graduate” upward of 30,000 foster kids into adulthood who have not been adopted. Most will struggle in life and continually perpetuate the struggle to a new generation but even more troubling…most of them will not know Christ!

Yes the process is painful.

Lord is it painful.

The Lord called us to be a DCS foster family so we’ve shunned private organizations for only that reason. Like with any profession, there are great DCS workers intermixed with a few slackers. Many are extremely overworked, with most handling an enormous caseload.

The system is rife with red-tape and bureaucracy and often moves at a snail’s pace. The system frustratingly errs on the side of the biological family, as it must. Yet, this further exacerbates and complicates the process.

I’ve raged against the system, in frustration and anger. It took nearly four years of pain to adopt two of our sons.

Four…years…of pain…

…but I have sons! I’d gladly labor another four if that’s what it took.

How much red tape would you slay to own the home of your dreams or finance your retirement?

They’re kids, at the end of the day.

My family is weird; we like teenagers.

We’ve had a number of young kids over the years, but at some point, the Lord began sending us teenagers. The system is full of teenagers and since many are afraid of teenagers and we were willing to take them, the system obliged.

They are like any other teenager would be without certainty, structure, maybe discipline, love and affection. They smoke weed, have premarital sex. We’ve been lied to, stolen from, cussed at.

And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I recall with particular affinity a number of poignant situations.

There was the time my wife wouldn’t let my oldest son back into the house so in broad daylight, he walked across the street, secured my neighbor’s 30 foot aluminum ladder, and proceeded to prop it against the front of my house and enter his bedroom window to obtain what he wanted…while my wife stood on the front porch and watched.

There was the time we were hosting the youth from our church for a weekend retreat when right in the middle of Bible study, my front door opened and a cop walked in. “Can I help you, Sir!” The girlfriend of one of our young men had called the police over an argument. It turned out to be nothing, but the youth from our church left with a good story.

But they’re kids, kids who’ve been abandoned and betrayed by the very ones who were supposed to love them the most. How could this trauma not impact them emotionally and spiritually?

Shouldn’t the ones most afflicted by society be the ones we lavish the most love upon?

It will challenge you.

There is no way you can open your home to anyone, much less a traumatized youth, and it not impact your life.

Including multiple combat tours to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Africa, fostering and adopting has been the hardest thing I’ve done.

Fostering and adopting will stretch you out spiritually and demand that you give of yourself more than you ever thought you could give. It will test your spirit, your fortitude, your faith, your relationship with your spouse and your children.

Fostering and adopting jams you into the mold of Christ, whether you are ready or not. The edges may just get ripped off in the process.

Is anything worth doing ever easy?

It’s worth it.

I was daunted, maybe as you are.

I hesitated, resisted, wrestled with the Holy Spirit.

But the Lord never relented and praise God, I have my sons.

My youngest son showed up at two months of age and as I held him, I begged God to remove him from my life. At 42 years of age, I was just too old to start over as a father. I just couldn’t do it. It was just too hard. I didn’t want it.

He wore me down, both God and the little guy. As I gazed into his dark brown eyes, I was overwhelmed by the voice of the Spirit whispering into my ear, “It’s not his fault. It’s not his fault.”

Over three years later, I cannot imagine my life without him, without any of my sons. God, in His sovereignty, brought them to me and I will forever praise Him for this.

We have the capacity.

Though I hesitate in throwing around the idea of shame, we, the church, have more than enough capacity to provide a family for every single orphan in America.

As this is a Gospel issue, it’s certainly a church issue and I challenge you to find a greater blind-spot in the eyes of the church. Believers ought to be elbowing one another out of the way to care for orphaned children. But a mere 5% actually take the plunge…

We have more than enough capacity. What are we worried about, our quality of life?

Consider that over the previous decades, the average American home has nearly doubled in size while the size of the average American family has decreased by nearly a person. Let that sink in. As we’ve become wealthier with bigger homes and smaller families, more and more children languish without a home.

These are just the facts, painful though they may be.

Now you know.

Your biological children will be fine, better than fine. You can afford it. You have enough room. Birth order, it turns out, is irrelevant. It possibly won’t turn out well, as you can’t just wish away years of trauma. There are as many answers as there are questions but the one that bears asking is…what then will you do?

I’ll concede, maybe God is not calling you to open your home to the orphan.

There are other ways to support foster care and adoption. Consult God’s word on the issue. Find a foster or adoptive family and support them. Challenge your pastor to preach about it. Pray about it, seek God, and He will lead you.

All that I believe God requires is that we examine ourselves to this end.

Would you open your heart to the Holy Spirit concerning the orphan?

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 Dignity of Men—You or the Other Guy

There exists a general coarsening of our culture, a prevailing vulgarity, a distinct lack of civility.

This is symptomatic of a widespread denigration, a denial of the universal dignity of all men. Degradation eases the burden of my declaration of superiority, gives weight to the rightness of my position, and renders my efforts at subjugation for personal gain more palatable.

God sees things a bit differently.

In the Eyes of God

David reminds us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” that God, “formed my inward parts,” that He, “knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13-14) God knows me, everything about me. He knows my very words before they are on my lips. He knows all of my ways.

He ordained my days before they were written.

I cannot run from God, I cannot hide from Him. Even in the dark, in the depths of my despair, God is with me, guiding me, leading me. (Psalm 139:11-12)

When we consider the value of men, that the omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God of the Universe put His very fingerprints upon my soul as He knit me together, we must respond. David responds with joy, with wonder, with amazement.

How unsearchable are the ways of God! (Romans 11:33)

The pages of Scripture affirm my dignity, my worth, my value at the same time that they produce a deep repentance and broken spirit over my sin. As I am the handiwork of God, the corruption wrought by my sin is that much more grievous. The affirmation of our value, our worth, our dignity begs a more pointed question.

Can we acknowledge the same for other men?

What about those you hate?

What about those who hate you?

Women in the Eyes of God

Can we affirm the dignity of women?

The #metoo movement, though born of a righteous cause, has deteriorated into an amorphous jumble of confusing and competing messages as it’s been subsequently hijacked by those with a clear agenda.

And everyone must get on board or risk the ire of public shaming. Thus a Beth Moore rebukes a generation of Baptist men for the specific sins of a handful and the prevailing attitude, prompting an Al Mohler to declare that the judgment of God has come against the Southern Baptist Convention. Intrigued, I consulted a spiritual mentor of mine who informed me of the sexual sin of a few other Baptist leaders.

So let me get this straight…a group of prominent men step out of line sexually and we speak judgement against an entire denomination.

Okay, the necessary caveat. Sexual assault of any kind is horrific and the perpetrator should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

But it seems a bit like pandering to me.

And it detracts from the much more insidious and systematic denigration of women.

The first step. We (men) convinced women that their worth is in their sexuality, how they look, and what they will do for us. Thus, high school girls are forced to display their worth by giving oral sex in the high school bathroom in the hopes that the boy will continue to talk to them. They must take seductive selfies or dress in an (in)appropriate manner all while risking a social media outing that would shame them for doing the very thing we demand they do to garner our affections.

The second step: We (men) seek sexual fulfillment elsewhere, outside a loving and committed relationship that nourishes the soul of a woman. We forsake them (women) for pornography or drive-by sexual encounters. The culmination of abandonment is men forsaking women entirely and finding gratification in other men.

A third step: We (men) actually render our women obsolete. Was it just me or did the man formerly known as Bruce Jenner receive Glamour magazine’s Woman of the Year award. The man Fallon Fox breaks the eye socket of his female MMA opponent. A boy in Connecticut wins the state girls 100m and 200m sprint. Men are just simply better at being girls than girls themselves.

All of these speak to the denigration of women, in exact opposition to Scripture, the call of God.

We ought to vigorously affirm the intrinsic value of women, that they are fearfully and wonderfully made. That God knit them together in their mother’s womb. Their value is completely divorced from what they can do for me.

We ought to daily affirm this for our wives.

We ought to instill this in the hearts of our daughters.

We ought to impress this upon the hearts of our sons.

Men in the Eyes of God

Because I do a lot of business over social media, I see perhaps the worst in men.

How easy is it to degrade a fellow man, to deny his humanity, when you don’t even know him? He is a stranger, just a random and faceless name?

Today, the primary sin men commit against men is to disagree with them.

Todd Friel, host of Wretched TV and Radio, does an interesting spot called Encounter on Campus. In a University ‘free speech zone’, whatever that is, he sets up a microphone and proclaims the Gospel to lost college students. It’s interactive. They have a microphone whereby they engage him and challenge his conclusions.

One of his most consistent endeavors, in interacting with the college students, is to convince them that they both cannot be right. Either he is right and they are wrong or they are right and he is wrong or they are both wrong. It has to be one of these options and that’s okay. They can disagree and yet, don’t have to resort to vitriol or name-calling or hatred.

It’s amazing how difficult this is for the students to accept.

They find in his disagreement a personal affront, which shouldn’t surprise I guess, since the Gospel is truly the most offensive thing that has ever been.

Yet, this exhibits a widespread hatred for those on ‘the opposite side of the aisle’. My liberal cousin actually hates Republicans. He doesn’t disagree with them. He doesn’t think they are confused or just wrong. He truly hates them. He sees them as wicked and evil and it reflects in how he communicates with them.

My friends on the right are no different. Liberal snowflakes. Libtards. The hatred permeates across party lines, across racial lines, across cultural lines.

Men simply refuse to see their fellow men with the same dignity with which God sees them.

Can I acknowledge that a man I hate is fearfully and wonderfully made, just as I am?

This drives a deeper revelation. Why must I hate?

The Lost in the Eyes of God

I see, in some of my brothers, a general contempt for the lost.

When confronted with unrighteousness, with those who hate God, we respond like David. Slay the wicked God! Don’t I hate those who you also hate. I loathe them. I hate them with complete hatred. (Psalm 139:19-22)

Is this how we ought to respond?

A few reminders are in order.

But by the grace of God, there go I. It is only the grace of God that pulled me from the mire of my sin, that saved me and were it not for the grace of God, I would still be a hater of God, on the other side of David’s aspersion. As we gaze upon the sin of the world, we must never forget that such were some of you. (1 Corinthians 6:11)

These are brothers, some of them. I’ll never hate a man into the Kingdom of God. As I slander, as I condemn, as I return hate with hate, I may actually be afflicting a future brother, one yet reconciled.

My hatred has no kinship with the heart of Christ.

God, in the complexity of his character never rejoices at the death of the wicked. (Ezekiel 18:23, 33:11)

Can we return the hatred of the world with love? They will hate. They hated Christ, so they will hate His disciples. Can we still affirm the dignity of men in the face of such opposition?

Brothers in the Eyes of God

I moderated a debate recently between Dr. Michael Brown and Dr. Theodore Zachariades concerning the continuation of the charismatic spiritual gifts of tongues, healing, and prophecy.

The debate was cordial, academic, and insightful.

The response of my brothers was not always the same.

Those on one side in particular refused to acknowledge the salvation of those on the other, called them wolves, false teachers, apostate. You name it. The hatred shocked my senses, the sheer lack of civility amongst those who profess to worship the same God over a secondary matter, not even a matter of salvation.

Now, we must stand for truth and we must not compromise, but can we affirm the dignity of those with whom we disagree?

God does.

Men in the Eyes of God

Lest I be mired in self-contempt, it is a valuable exercise to remind myself of how God feels about me. I find my worth in Christ, and who God has made me to be. I have value, intrinsic worth…I matter.

There’s the rub.

Do I matter?

God responds with a resounding, “Yes!”

Can you affirm the same of your fellow man, of all your fellow man?

Here is the heart of Christ. I pray we’d all repent for falling short in this regard.

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 Evisceration of Casual Christianity

The world is winning its war upon the American church.

What Happened?

American Christendom wanes daily as the church falls from prominence, fading into the landscape of obscurity, receding from relevance.

Very few consider the church a factor in their lives. For most, church is a place to go on occasion, something to do periodically to satiate our innate legalism. We ought to be doing something, so we’ll attend a random church service.

Or, church has become a place to go and feel better about yourself. Church is but one of a vast litany of self-help programs to enable you to rise above your circumstances, to achieve and obtain, or just restore your self-esteem your sense of identity, whatever that means.

And Jesus is a great teacher, gentle and kind, certainly non-threatening. He would never make demands upon anyone as he just loves everybody. We can literally choose our own Jesus this day. I guarantee I can find a church that preaches whatever version of Jesus with which I am most comfortable.

And stemming from this incomplete and varied knowledge of the risen Lord Jesus stems an obvious byproduct—a casual and timid church.

Casual or Reverent

I loathe the modern casual approach to Jesus, to church.

The casual attitude permeates every aspect of church from worship to evangelism to the various ministries of the church. My son just returned from the Southern Baptist MFuge camp and I guarantee there were kids there sporting ‘Jesus is my Homeboy’ shirts. Before worship service, the students actually formed a conga line.

“Jesus is my friend,” is a popular refrain.

America is beset by a casual view of Jesus.

Irreverence pervades.

Why wouldn’t we be when we can pick and choose the aspects of Jesus we wish to acknowledge or consider legitimate? As we focus on kind Jesus, on loving Jesus, on friendly Jesus holding a lamb, surrounded by children, with a perpetually gentle smile gracing his countenance, we miss the very thing that would drive our reverence, our awe, our fear!

Scripture paints a slightly different vision of Jesus.

According to the Psalmist, God will speak to the nations in his wrath, he will terrify them in his fury saying, “As for me, I have set my King [Jesus] on Zion.” (Psalm 2:5) The Father will declare to the Son that the nations are His heritage, the ends of the earth His possession, and He “shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” (v. 9)

The New Testament quotes Psalm 110 more than any other Old Testament verse as God the Father says to Jesus, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.” (v.1) Of Jesus, the Psalmist declares that “he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath. He will execute judgement among the nations, filling them with corpses.” (v.5-6)

Paul tells us that the name of Jesus has been highly exalted and is the name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-10) Every knee, even the knee of those who do not acknowledge Him, will bow at the mention of His name, either in submission or under the rod of His wrath, in judgement.

Does this sound like the Jesus you learned about in Vacation Bible School?

A complete understanding of the person of Christ will drive one thing, reverence.

John, standing before the glorified Christ, fell to his face as if dead. (Revelation 1) We ought to respond similarly. Confronted by the fullness of Christ, his mercy and love coupled with his wrath and justice, we are driven to our knees in awe and fear. 

Jesus demands reverence.

One may not trifle with He to whom everything has already been given.

Bold or Timid

A church worshipping this faux Jesus reeks of timidity.

Concession testifies to this.

The timid church makes concession after concession to the world, often in the form of denying sin, in an attempt to satiate the demands of the world. The desire of the timid church is friendship with that which by definition is antithetical to the Gospel. The world hates Jesus, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the most offensive thing that there is. How could the world ever befriend that which speaks death to it?

The options are truth or concession.

This is why we see large groups within the church, even entire denominations, conceding to the world things up to and even including the essentials of the faith, things that if you do not believe them you may not rightfully call yourself a Christian. This is where we get female ‘reverends’ issuing public blessings upon abortion clinics. This is where churches ordain openly homosexual ‘clergy’. This is where we get churches that ‘welcome’ and ‘affirm’ and refuse to preach the Gospel in all of its power and authority, with all of its teeth.

This is where we get the pitiable Jesus, the pleading Jesus.

This generates weak evangelism.

Jesus is a gentlemen, standing at the door to your heart, gently knocking. He’d never force himself on you. You have to open the door and invite him into your heart. He’s just pleading for you, yearning for you.

Excrement.

Jesus is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah who will one day return in power and authority and He will set all things right. Jesus is the owner of all things, not some things, but all things, including my heart.

I am here to testify that I never once sought Jesus. I never once searched for Him. I never once invited Him into my heart. He kicked in the door to my heart with all the fierce authority of the Lord on high and He said, “You are mine!”

“Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish,” the very words of Jesus. (Luke 13:5) Repent, surrender, submit to me, or you will die, I will kill you, ultimately. Again, is this the Jesus you learned about in Sunday school?

Our evangelism ought to sound similar. Repent or perish. Repent and believe. This world is under the judgement of God. There’s not much time! Turn to Jesus in faith, submit, surrender. Jesus is your only hope.

Urging people to invite Jesus into their hearts just isn’t working.

Closing

The world is winning its war against the American church…
…and I’m okay with that.

In a strange way, I welcome it. The decline of American Christendom has only served to reveal that which was hidden beneath our cultural Christianity, the uncomfortable fact that many people in the church were never actually of Christ in the first place.

Now, the façade is over, the pretenses demolished.

With no culturally beneficial reason to claim Christianity, the chaff is blowing itself away revealing a purified church, a church that may be reverent and bold…just as God intended it to be.

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

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

THE 413 REPORT

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

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

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

   Janice S. Garey  

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

  Anne Rightler

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

  Scott Doherty

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

 Chad Chasteen

Millennial Fathers…Please Forgive Us

Anyone else sick of snowflakes?

I’m tired of these panty-waisted girly-men, having to worry about their feelings, protect their safe spaces. I’m tired of having to worry about how they feel or if they’re offended?

It’s getting a little old.

I wish they’d get up off the couch, put down the video game controller—you know they’re gamers—get out of their mama’s basement—you know they’re living there rent free—and get out and get a job and become a productive member of society. Quit thinking that the world owes you something, that you deserve anything. I’m sick of it!

Interesting that was so easy to write.

These are the things men of my generation say and think frequently about men of the younger generation. You’ve heard it. You’ve thought it. Maybe you’ve said them yourself.

Are these the things we should be saying?

Perhaps a different message might resonate.

The Call of a Godly Father

The Psalmist declares my call as a father loud and clear…

He ordains that we fathers should teach our children all that the LORD has accomplished, His glorious deeds so that our children will declare them to their children, not yet born. (Psalm 78:1-8)

He gives three reasons, 1) that they might put their hope in God, 2) that they will not forget Him and will follow His commandments, and 3) that they will NOT [emphasis mine] be like their fathers, a wicked and rebellious generation.

Ouch.

The Psalmists says,

Fathers, teach your children about God so that they will teach their children about God so that they will grow up and follow God and NOT be like us, their fathers…who did not follow God.

Israel fell away, every few generations it seems. They drifted, and the fathers allowed it to happen. Either one of two things happened. The fathers taught their children and their children turned from God anyway or, more likely, the fathers were not obedient in teaching their children the ways of the Lord…and the children walked away.

The single most influential person in the life of a child is the father. The Bible declares it. Reality well affirms it. The future of the child, his well-being, and most of all, his faith, hinges largely upon what the father does or does not do.

It is a serious call.

The Presence of a Godly Father

As the Psalmist reminds us, “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” (Psalm 127:1)

This is us, me, my generation and older. We labored to build the house. We rose up early and went to bed late, eating “the bread of anxious toil”. (v. 2) We worked hard, rolled up our sleeves and got our hands dirty and most of all, taught those same things to our children.

Our nation is on the tail end of a colossal shift, a dechurching that has rocked the foundation of our society and the church. The Millennial generation supplanted the Baby Boomers as the largest generation though they will be passed by Generation Z at some point. The Millennials are the most unchurched generation in the history of our nation.

But they didn’t become unchurched on their own…they had help/unhelp from us.

It is my generation and older who are the caretakers of this unchurching of America, both catalysts and stewards of the process. We walked from God. We walked from the church, not our children. They never knew Him.

We embraced the values that flow naturally from Christianity, values such as hard work, personal responsibility, commitment, being a responsible citizen and a productive member of society. At the same time, we attempted to instill these within our children…absent the foundation, God.

We abandoned the foundation of the godly values we so cherish, attempted to instill them in our children absent God, and then ridiculed them when they rejected those values and embraced their own thoughts, beliefs, and opinions that are in some ways, antecedent to the things that we hold so dear.

There are few things more vital in the life of a child than the presence of his father.
Many fathers of my generation and older were present, yet absent.

My father instilled in me a great work ethic. He taught me to be a man of my word. He taught me the value of education. He taught me to achieve, to obtain, to set goals…all good things. He never taught me about Jesus, not once.

In hindsight, I don’t think he knew the Lord himself in those days. He did the best he could and taught me what he felt was necessary to become what he thought I should be, the image of him. And I did, that’s what I became…a responsible, law-abiding, hard-working, morally-upright man…who would’ve split the gates of hell wide open had I died in my sins.

And I would’ve taught my children in the exact same manner apart from the saving grace of the Lord Jesus.

I would’ve taught them to eat the bread of anxious toil just like I did, to get up early, go to bed late, to labor in vain.

Praise God it is now the LORD that builds my house.

Prayers for a Godly Father

We don’t need better religion.

We don’t need better music or more talented worship leaders. We do not need more charismatic (in the non-theological sense of the word) pastors or better facilities. We have no need for a better coffee shop in the foyer, with an even quirkier name (HEbrews I bet), or a broader selection of mocha-choca-chinos.

We don’t need more programs.

Forget more Sunday School. We don’t need more Vacation Bible School or more engaging youth groups. We don’t need a to schedule more summer youth camps or to take our people on weeklong mission-vacations to hand out water bottles with Bible verses to absolute strangers.

We do not need any more of the trappings of religion.

What we need is for fathers to set their hearts to become what God would have them be…leaders of the Church, their families, and the nation.

We need fathers to teach their children all that the LORD has accomplished and the church to exhort them to that end.

Appeal to a Godly Father

Here is my message and I pray that it is one of reconciliation.

Young fathers—Millennials fathers—I pray that you would forgive us, the fathers of my generation and older.

Forgive us for sacrificing you on the altar of professional achievement, work, position, and authority, for partaking so diligently of the bread of anxious toil. Forgive us for being absentee fathers, even in our presence. Forgive us for insisting you conform to our way of thought and then ridiculing for becoming your own.

Most of all, forgive us for not teaching you about the Lord Jesus.

The last verse of the Old Testament concludes with a surprising hope. Speaking of the Day of the Lord, when Jesus will return one day in power and authority and consummate that which He has already established, Malachi assures us that before then, “He will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers.” (Malachi 4:6)

This is the last prophecy from before Christ, that God would reconcile fathers with their children and children with their fathers before the Day of the Lord. What an amazing thought!

Fathers from my generation and older, know that it’s never too late to reconcile with your sons, your children, to ask that you forgive them for not teaching them about the Lord and to rise up and claim that which God has lain before you.

Young fathers, your call is clear.

Teach your children of all that God has accomplished so that they may hope in Him, so that they may not forget Him and will keep His commandments and most of all…that they will not be like their fathers…us.

Truth sometimes comes with a touch of pain.

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

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

THE 413 REPORT

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

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

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

   Janice S. Garey  

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

  Anne Rightler

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

  Scott Doherty

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

 Chad Chasteen

Godless Army—Thoughtless Army

America will lose its next war.

This was the conviction of a former boss of mine. The force, though well-equipped and well-funded, lacks heart. Commanders have no time to prepare their soldiers for battle as they tarry with administration and deal with the affliction of soldiers. Present skirmishes aside, the force dallies with much minutiae and political correctness as our soldiers self destruct and our enemies gather. We may continue in the low intensity conflicts of yesterday but someday, someone’s gonna rise up and punch us in the mouth. How will we respond?

The godlessness that has spread across the force has introduced another plague, thoughtlessness.

Thoughtlessness pervades.

And because thoughtlessness pervades, we scarcely scratch the surface of whichever issue and soldiers continue to die in their affliction.

An Indication

I sat in stunned silence, crestfallen. “That was it…?”

Our commanding general had assembled all the company grade commanders and higher for some professional development which I definitely looked forward to. I have always loved to learn. I have always loved to read and I love academically rigorous discussion. I arrived at the assembly with no small measure of anticipation.

The subject was…driver’s training.

Our division had experienced a rash of vehicle accidents and the division leadership attributed it to an improper understanding of what a driver’s training program should look like. Several hundred of us sat for a couple of hours while the Division Master Driver explained the standard to us.

“Okay, that was helpful, I guess.”

A particular colonel stood to speak.

At some point, a first among equals emerges. In my circle of battalion commanders, there was one officer who everyone already knew would be a Brigade Commander and eventually a general. It wasn’t me! Well, the same was true of the Brigade Commanders and he had my attention.

This was it. I was literally poised, pen at the ready, prepared for deep wisdom, enlightenment.

     “I like to think of it as the five ‘T’s’,” he started with.

          Okay.

     “You have to have the troops available to do the work.”

          Yes.

     “You have to have time to do the work.”

          That’s right.

     “You need the training for the soldiers to do the work.”

          Uh huh.

     “You definitely need the tools.”

          Say it.

     “And most of all…”

          This was it!

“You need the task. You have to have the task. These are what has worked for me, the five ‘T’s of vehicle maintenance.”

Again, I was crestfallen. Here was this man’s chance to impart wisdom and what he had for us was…’the five T’s’? 

I sat stunned, amazed at the surface-level, shallow nature of this thought. Now, this officer was unquestionably highly intelligent and extremely well-educated and I’m sure he participated in frequent instances of deep, higher-order thought. But this instance highlighted, in my mind, a rampant issue throughout much of the Army leadership that I observed: the absence of deep thought or higher order cognition or at least the open display thereof.

Of Transformed Minds

Christianity is a thinking man’s religion. The Bible calls the believer to be transformed by the renewing of his mind. (Romans 12:2) God calls us to question, to consider. If you truly believe what you say you believe, the blinders have finally been removed, the veil lifted. Your mind is no longer darkened and enslaved to sin, free to think clearly.

The believer is a thinking man.

If you ever find yourself doubting this aspect of Christianity, secure a copy of John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ—I’ve never actually met anyone who finished it—or spend some time in Romans chapters 9 through 11.

Thinking itself, reason and intellect, are a function of being created in the Image of God. God has given us the capacity for cognition, the capacity to reason, and the Christian is to implement it, to think.

Of Darkened Minds

After our second suicide, one of the senior division leaders called my boss who was deployed at the time, “Jim, we need to stop these suicides!”

My boss was speechless. How do you respond to something like this?

“Well we have, Sir. It’s been two days since the last. They are definitely stopped.”

As we confine ourselves to the secular, as we examine the affliction of the force, we are left with nothing to do but treat symptoms, or attempt to treat symptoms. We may have no real discussion of issues and solutions. 

Our division maintained a council that I was a member of as a brigade-level leader. The council sought to promote the health of the force and the community, and it consisted of several working groups. There was the suicide prevention working group, the crime prevention working group, the health and welfare working group, and the sexual assault working group among others. At each meeting, the group lead would present the status of their program, give updates, entertain questions, and perhaps discuss the way ahead.

The sexual assault working group always infuriated me.

Most recently, they discussed a motorcycle ride to bring awareness to sexual assault. This spawned much discussion despite the fact that this will likely not prevent a single sexual assault. Did they actually think that the drunken soldier alone in his barracks room with his passed out drunken female friend would ignore his erection and think to himself, “Oh yeah, the motorcycle ride…I shouldn’t do this.”

Please forgive my sarcasm, but this type of activity does nothing to truly address the affliction of soldiers as born out by the facts. Sexual assault, if anything, becomes a greater issue each year despite the commands frantic efforts to display otherwise. Things like the motorcycle ride allow the command to say, “We are really getting after sexual assault,” which never fails to frustrate me.

At the monthly Sexual Assault Review Board (SARB), the Division Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) expressed a similar frustration, that they had been implementing the Army SHARP program for over three years and the trends continued upward. Young male soldiers continued to assault young female soldiers while under the influence of alcohol.

Unable to contain myself, I raised my hand and mildly suggested that as long as young men and young women were essentially living together with access to alcohol then there would be an issue. Why not segregate the young men and young women’s living quarters? The silence was deafening. I looked around the room to a few nodding heads but mostly blank looks. The Commanding General dismissed the thought with a wave of his hand and continued with the meeting.

Segregating the sexes would, in essence, acknowledge that there is a difference in the sexes…a thought that runs contrary to prevailing secular notions.

As we remain confined to the secular, we may only turn the red bubbles green.

The Thoughtless Charts

Charts! I can make some charts now.

The Army loves to codify things into charts, and over the last several years, stoplight charts became de rigueur. Each issue is denoted by a bubble and if it’s red, that means the issue is not being handled. It’s still a problem. If it’s amber, then it’s being worked. Green is good. The issue is addressed, no more problem. With a quick glance, the senior commander can pass instant judgement on a unit based upon the predominance of color.

The more a commander can brief green on his charts, the better for all involved.

At some point, the green bubble becomes the goal…aside from addressing the actual issue.

It is not as if leaders do not care or understand. Almost any military leader will acknowledge frustration with the approach and the limitations of programs. It’s just that they are confined to the secular and as such, have no other option than to focus on the bubbles, particularly because their boss wants green bubbles…as does his boss.

The Army standard for readiness is 10% or less, meaning that less than 10% of the assigned soldiers can be non-deployable. Our division solved this problem be declaring our standard to be 8%.

Genius!

By meeting our own internal standard, we effectively always met the Army standard though it changed nothing in reality other than the integrity of commanders forced to bend facts and manipulate data to obtain the requisite 8%. It reminded me of the band in This is Spinal Tap, talking about their speakers going to 11.

          “Well it’s one louder, isn’t it.

          “Why don’t you just make 10 louder and make that the top number?”

          “…these go to 11.

Again, the facts on the ground never once changed, just the color of the bubbles.

As we fought the war of the bubbles, the fact that soldiers actually languish in their affliction became secondary. If the bubble was the right color, all was right with the world. Never mind that soldiers continue to self-destruct independent of the color of the bubble, a side effect of pervasive thoughtlessness generated by an even more pervasive godlessness. 

For them, the bubble is always red.

The Brave Rifles Series 

Brave Rifles: The Problem of a Godless Army

Brave Rifles: The Danger of a Godless Army

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

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

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

Affliction in a Godless Army: The Sins of Generals

Affliction in a Godless Army: An Army of Junkies

Affliction in a Godless Army: Suicide in the Heavy Rain

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

Your Move, NFL Players…Your Move, Christians

The Civil War was about slavery.

The Confederate Flag symbolizes a rebellious entity that went to war on behalf of the right to enslave other men. It ought to be banned.

“Heritage not hate,” is a lie.

Robert E. Lee owned slaves, fought and killed on behalf of this collective right. Why would we memorialize him with a statue or any other means?

Systematic racism is a plague in our nation.

Cops brutalize black people, kill black men.

Black lives matter.

Are you angry yet?

Solidarity

You’ve never heard of Peter Norman.

An Australian Sprinter, Norman won the silver at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics and stood on the platform as American Sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their black-gloved fists in silent protest during the National Anthem. In the 1960’s, the Black Panther movement was as popular with white people as #blacklivesmatter is today.

Peter Norman was an afterthought, merely the “white guy”, standing by as Smith and Carlos protested. He was a bystander. What went largely unnoticed was the small lapel pin he wore, “Olympic Project for Human Rights,” an organization started to combat global racial injustice. Norman was more than a bystander.

“I’ll stand with you,” he told them.

“I expected to see fear in Norman’s eyes, but instead we saw love,” Carlos remembers.

It’s Not Showfriends

It’s a business decision, and that’s okay.

The protests incited the ire of a vast swath of Americana, mainly from the conservative base. And they have exercised their own rights in turning the channel, costing the NFL millions of dollars, though it’s difficult to quantify.

In our public sector, within the bounds of morality and ethics, the dollar rules. Capitalism insists upon it. At the end of the day, the NFL is a business and if they fail to generate revenue, they will not remain in business…and kneeling football players are bad for business.

The NFL finally responded.

“We want people to be respectful of the national anthem,” commissioner Roger Goodell said. “We want people to stand…and make sure they treat this moment in a respectful fashion.”

So the owners unanimously adopted a new policy requiring players to stand during the anthem. The policy gives them the option to remain in the locker room. Punitively, the policy fines teams if a player does not show the appropriate respect for the anthem. This includes any attempt to sit or kneel, as dozens of players have done during the past two seasons to protest racial inequality and police brutality. The teams have the option to fine players who violate the policy.

The NFL felt like they had to do something, and that’s okay.

No one is being forced to stand against their will. The players are free to seek employment elsewhere, the Canadian Football League or Europe or maybe even in something other than sports.

I saw a post which read, “Forced patriotism is really fascism.”

If it were truly forced, then yes. If the American Gestapo were roaming the streets arresting non-patriotic citizens, then yes. This would constitute fascism.

That’s not happening. You may burn a flag, and I want you to be able to burn the flag. I grieve that you feel led to burn the flag, but I respect your right to freely do so. The last I checked you may sit during the national anthem at any sporting event. You may leave your hat on, refuse to put your hand over your heart, whatever. Now, you are betraying a social norm and for that you may get some pushback, but that is normal too. But you won’t get arrested.

So the ball is firmly back in the players court.

They of course may continue to protest, only now, it just may cost them something.

Time will tell if they truly believe in the righteousness of their cause. The true measure of commitment is the price one is willing to pay.

A View

A way to look at these men, a way that a large swath of America views them, is as spoiled millionaires crying about something that’s not even truly an issue.

You’ve heard the counterpoints.

Black people kill way more black people than any white people do, cops included. If men, black or otherwise, would just follow the law, then they wouldn’t have anything to worry about. Young black men commit an overwhelming majority of violent crime, so why should we be surprised if cops handle certain situations with more force? The destruction of the black family is the real cause of black affliction, not the mythical “man” or any other kind of external opposition.

These points contain some elements of truth, but many cling to these point to delegitimize everything these men stand(kneel) for.

Yet I ask, Is legitimacy the most important thing, perceived or otherwise?

Christ’s View

Jesus, as always, confronts.

A Pharisee approaches Him and asks, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” (Matthew 22:36)

Jesus responds with,

          “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” (v. 38) and,

          “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (v. 39)

Jesus tells them to love God and to love their neighbors. “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (v. 40) The Law of God can be summarized in these two laws:

          Love God.

          Love your neighbor.

Who then is my neighbor? My family, my friends, my co-workers, my actual neighbors?
What about my fellow citizens?

Another View

There is disenfranchisement.

As a middle-class, middle-aged white dude, I can never truly comprehend what young black men face, whether wealthy football players or average young men on the street. I can never understand exactly how they feel or what they feel. Yet, I can comprehend that they feel, that what they think matters.

Whether I consider their views legitimate or not becomes irrelevant in the light of Christ. They are upset and no matter the legitimacy of their protest, I must love them and my concern is for them. Christ demands it.

The kingdom, of which I am a member, supersedes this worldly kingdom and all its worldly concerns. Christianity renders social justice ancillary to the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:18) Yet, what if social justice were a mechanism to that end, the reconciliation of men with God? What if social justice became a means to plead with men, “be reconciled to God”? (v. 20) What if my stand with them might portray my love for them and ultimately, the love of Christ?

Christ demands my consideration.

Christ requires my compassion.

Christ insists upon my love for them.

They have an issue, a problem and though I do not understand it completely, I acknowledge it. Further, I reject condemnation.

If I could speak with them, I’d like to stand with them, even if I don’t entirely agree with them. If only our fellow citizens would feel the same.

Norman’s View

Peter Norman paid a price for his stand.

He was rejected from the 1972 Australian Olympic team though he ran qualifying times for the 200 meters thirteen times and five qualifying times for the 100 meters. His career was effectively over, though he remains one of the fastest Australians of all time. Largely ostracized, he found work difficult to find, his nation squarely against him.

Australia offered him chances to repent. Publicly condemn Smith and Carlos and he would be embraced. He would receive a pardon for his actions and perhaps even be a part of the 2000 Sydney Olympic games.

Norman refused and continued his stand.

He died from a heart attack in 2006.

Six years later, the Australian Parliament issued an official state apology to Norman recognizing his “extraordinary athletic achievements” and acknowledging his bravery in standing in solidarity with Smith and Carlos. They apologized for failing to send him to the 1972 Munich Olympics and recognized “the powerful role that Peter Norman played in furthering racial equality.”

Norman saw two men moved deeply by the wounds of racial injustice. He saw these men as brothers. Peter Norman, a devout Christian, said to them in his stand,

“I’ll stand with you.”

“I love you,” and ultimately,

“Jesus loves you.”

As touching of a gesture as the government apology was, an even more poignant display occurred at his funeral.

Carlos and Smith served as pallbearers.

As Norman stood with them in life, they bore his body to the grave, standing with him in death.

Carlos later spoke of his friend, recognizing his character and strength and most of all, “his willingness to be a sacrificial lamb for justice.” In standing by his fellow men sacrificially, Peter Norman fully embraced them as brothers and displayed the heart of our Lord Jesus.

I can scarcely imagine if our nation were to do the same, embrace our kneeling brothers and resolutely declare with them that, “yes, black lives do matter.”

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 Love of My Brothers—a Memorial Day Reflection

Everything is tainted these days.

Everything is corrupt.

A potpourri of dissonance floods our collective conscience. Some idolize veterans, making heroes of all who serve. Some equate the flag and the pledge with righteousness. Others find it necessary to desecrate that which others hold sacred. Still others denounce it all, scorning all displays of social, political, and even civic activity.

I ask you to set those things aside, however briefly…gaze upon the heart of Christ.

Ramadi

Michael Monsoor was confronted with a decision…him or his friends.

Ramadi, Iraq in 2006 was a nasty place. Al Qaeda, local insurgents, and straight up criminals controlled much of the city as the troop surge implemented by President Bush was still a year away, along with the Sunni Awakening of local tribes who would weary of bloodshed.

With temperatures approaching 100 degrees on a sweltering Friday, September 29th, SEAL Monsoor, three fellow SEAL snipers, and three Iraqi Army soldiers occupied a rooftop during a gunfight in downtown Ramadi. A local mosque broadcast a continuous call to arms as insurgents flooded the area.

The SEALs found themselves in a fight for their lives.

Monsoor, positioned near a stairwell, engaged the enemy. The others were spread out across the rooftop when it happened.

Grenade!

An insurgent below lobbed a grenade onto the roof, striking Monsoor in the chest. It fell to the ground at his feet. Monsoor, crouching next to the stairwell offering immediate cover, instead dove onto the grenade absorbing the blast with his body.

His friends, though wounded, lived. Monsoor, though evacuated immediately, died within an hour.

Michael Monsoor saw the imminence of death and in a split second, a fraction of time, made a decision that had to have been made in his mind, in his heart, and really in his soul some time before. There was simply not time to decide.

At some point, he had already decided.

He loved his friends more than himself.

Jerusalem

The scribes confront Jesus, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” (Mark 12:28)

Jesus, quoting Deuteronomy, responds,

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (verse 30)

And,

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (verse 31)

Jesus tells us that the entirety of the Law can be summarized by these two commandments. Love God. Love your neighbor…with all you have. Who then is your neighbor? It is whoever God places before you…your friends, your family, your co-workers, your enemies even and in the case of Michael Monsoor…his teammates, his brothers-in-arms.

I have no idea of Michael Monsoor’s spiritual status, but on that dusty rooftop in Ramadi, Iraq on September 29th, 2006, he displayed the heart of Christ in loving his brother more than himself.

Laghman

Dennis Weichel knew who his neighbor was…and he loved him more than himself.

In March 2012, in eastern Afghanistan, the 29-year-old Army specialist was part of a convoy of MRAP’s (Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles), 16-ton heavily armored vehicles designed to shield soldiers from IED’s, the weapon of choice of most insurgents.

Kids were in the road.

The soldiers dismounted the vehicles to shoe the children from the road. As they boarded up and began to move, one little boy ran back into the path of the hulking MRAPs to retrieve spent shell casings that he might later sell.

Weichel reacted, racing to pull the young boy from the path of the MRAPs. Just in time, he shoved the boy unharmed from the path but was himself run over, mortally wounded.

He died a short time later.

Weichel was survived by his own son, two daughters, and a fiance’.

“He would have done it for anybody,” said a friend, “That was the way he was. He would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it.”

Providence, Rhode Island

The Warrior Spirit, the true Warrior Spirit, not the one of fiction and pop culture, comes from Christ.

The fruit of the Warrior Spirit is a willing self-sacrifice, not to take life, but to give.

What would possess a man to sacrifice as such, a father. Perhaps it was exactly that, thoughts of his own young son, seared into his soul, that would compel him, without hesitation, to protect another young boy.

His own son, Nicholas, wrote a letter to him in his death.

“I really, really miss you,” read a portion of that letter. “I promise I will protect my sisters, Hope and Madison, like you told me to. You are my hero. I know you are in heaven watching over me. You are the brightest star.”

Yusufiyah

Wake up the night crews.

This command set in motion the chain of events that led to the death of two noble warriors, Major Matthew Worrell and CW5 Jamie Weeks.

There exists a sacred trust between gunship pilots and the ground forces they protect. Nowhere was this more evident than in the special operations community. The gunship pilots, as both angels of death and ministers of life, unflinchingly place themselves in harm’s way to rain steel upon the heads of those who would seek to harm their brothers on the ground.

“God will judge our enemies, we’ll arrange the meeting,”—an ominous motto of one such organization.

On May 14th, 2006—Mother’s Day—Major Worrell and CW5 Weeks were awakened from a deep slumber to the bright desert heat and their comrades in danger. A wicked gunfight had been stirred up in Yusufiyah, Iraq, the heart of the Triangle of Death. Several of their brothers had already been shot down. Out of ammunition, they limped their battle-damaged aircraft to the nearest base.

Matt and Jamie, the other crew, and the liaison officer did a quick huddle planeside and within minutes, they were kitted up, bringing the aircraft on-line. Confusion greeted their ears as the sounds of battle emanated across multiple nets.

At some point, they turned their aircraft west…toward the sound of the guns.

They ran to the sound of the guns.

Into the shadow of death they stormed, into the hornet’s nest. Their brothers were in the fight, with no gunships overhead. Without hesitation, in the full fury and righteous anger of a brother defending his brother from harm. With full assurance, fueled by the love of their brothers, they blazed into battle.

Within one pass of arriving over the objective, an insurgent round found its home and blew these valiant warriors from the sky.

Clarksville

The Bearded One once exhorted us at SERE School, “You gotta love your brothers!”

With eyes blazing like hellfire and brimstone, this bearded giant, the most intimidating man I’d ever met, implored us…to love. Not to fight, but to love. And for that love, for the love of my brothers, I would fight. For the love of my brothers, I would give of my own life.

Matt Worrell left behind a young wife and two young sons. Jamie left a wife and four daughters. For love.

They loved their brothers more than themselves. This is the Warrior Spirit, this is the Spirit of Christ. They loved their brothers all the way up to and including their own death and if we could ask them, any of them, I’m sure they’d do it again, with no hesitation. Perhaps they’d want to go back and love on their wife and sons, their daughters, a bit more when they had the chance, but I’m sure they’d not relent.

They died that a brother may live, and for this, I honor them this day, all of them.

A Memorial

Set aside your politics.

Set aside your nationalism. Set aside your obstinate resistance to anything righteous. Refuse patriotism in this moment and see.

See love, Christ-like love.

Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

There is no greater love than a man who would lay down his life for his friends. Our lives are the most precious thing we have been given, our very breath a gift of the Almighty, an undeserved grace. The hero willingly gives of his life, not to take life, but that others may live.

When I meditate on the sacrifice of men like Monsoor and Weeks, Worrell and Weichel, I stand in awe. Again, I have no idea if these men were of Christ or not and I’ll make the necessary caveat that apart from a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus, all men stand condemned.

Scripture affirms to us that we, Christians, can be known by the fruit of our lives. Did we bear fruit? We will be known, most of all, by our love, our love for our brothers.

Just as these men gave their lives, so too did our Lord Jesus, saying this is how much I love you, as He stretched out His arms and died…for the love of His brothers, the love of His friends, and amazingly, while we were yet sinners. (Romans 5:8)

In contemplating the life of these men, the love of these men, let us consider the source of such love, the risen Lord Jesus and let us ultimately turn to Him.

Let that be our tribute this Memorial Day. More than fitting don’t you think?

The Brave Rifles Series 

Brave Rifles: The Problem of a Godless Army

Brave Rifles: The Danger of a Godless Army

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

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

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

Affliction in a Godless Army: The Sins of Generals

Affliction in a Godless Army: An Army of Junkies

Affliction in a Godless Army: Suicide in the Heavy Rain

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

Affliction in a Godless Army: Suicide in the Heavy Rain

Few things consume a unit like a suicide.

My brigade had two in a span of months. One particular weekend, a young soldier full of heartache and alcohol hung himself in his barracks room. He and his girlfriend were having some significant relationship issues. Two months later, another young soldier hung himself with his belt. Hours before his death, he posted a picture on social media of him in his barracks room, alone…with a bottle of liquor.

Shockwaves roiled across the Brigade. Neither young man had previously displayed overt suicidal ideations.

Thankfully, they came from separate battalions, but in the immediate aftermath and for days and weeks following, the units were consumed. The chain-of-command was focused entirely, as it should’ve been, as it had to be, upon the care of the family and the unit. We sent teams to funerals, executed memorial ceremonies, and supported the families in any way we could.

More than that, we tore ourselves apart, seeking answers that never presented themselves. How could we have prevented this?

We were asking the wrong questions.

The Plague

As suicide proliferates the active ranks, it likewise afflicts our nation’s veterans. A popular narrative claims that 22 veterans commit suicide every day which translates to roughly one every 65 minutes. 22 suicides a day—politicians regurgitate it, veterans groups made it a banner, and sympathetic citizens demand answers.

Even one suicide is too many. Yet I wondered, if this is accurate, then this is an astonishing number!

Peeling the onion reveals some problems.

The statistic, 22 a day, is based upon the Veterans Administration 2012 Suicide Data Report which surveyed statistics from 1999 to 2011 across 21 states and then extrapolated for the general population. The researchers themselves cede the lack of veracity of the conclusions. Further, the average age of the victim was 60 years old, effectively undermining the popular narrative concerning the afflicted Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans. A more recent and comprehensive survey yields that roughly one veteran commits suicide each day, still too many but a far cry from 22.

As a young officer, I scarcely recall a suicide, not a single one. What has given rise to this phenomenon among active and veteran ranks? Do the current wars truly afflict our soldiers to the point of desperation whereby they view suicide as their only source of relief? Perhaps. Paradoxically, today most active duty suicide victims have not yet deployed. How do we reconcile this?

Value and Hope

We can trace the origins of suicide to a singular condition, trauma coupled with a distinct spiritual bankruptcy.

Numerous factors contribute—the nature of the trauma, demographics, upbringing, resiliency etc. Yet it is the absence of Christ that underscores it all. The proliferation of the unchurched in the ranks effectively sets the condition for numerous abominable practices, including suicide.

As the Gospel is suppressed, men lose value. Secular, agnostic, or even atheistic thought systems deny the inherent value of men as the Imago Dei. Regressing to evolutionary constructs, men become merely the latest and most adapted of all purposeless creatures. Men possess no intrinsic value. Life has no intrinsic worth other than to satisfy base lusts. Absent that satisfaction, life loses all value.

Only a proper understanding of the Image of God produces in a man’s heart a respect and value for all human life. All men’s lives hold sacred value, including his own and as such, it cannot be taken lightly.

Along with an understanding of the sacred value of life, with the Gospel comes hope. No matter the desperation, the believer lives with a hope not found in himself, rather a hope found in the risen Lord Jesus. I have the hope of things not yet seen, the glory of a future spent in eternity with the Lord our God.

A Tough Word

It is a hard thing to say and to those who have been affected by suicide, I apologize profusely for the following statement, but I feel it must be said.

Suicide is an intensely selfish act.

The victim becomes absorbed by the affliction of their existence, completely hopeless and ill-equipped to deal with the trauma, whatever it may be. The Christian life calls the believer to the opposite, to be consumed first by God and then with the life and welfare of others. It is hard to imagine a believer focusing on himself enough to commit suicide.

But it happens. I knew a chaplain once, a man of God, a man who loved the Lord and his family. He took his own life. He had been caught up in sin and the devil talked him into it. He left behind a beautiful family. The tragedy of suicide emanates from its irreversibility.

What do I know?

During a time of heavy rain, the darkest in my own life, I no longer desired to live. I truly desired that the Lord call me home and end the misery and pain of my present condition. Bleakness and despair ruled and I tried to flirt with it, briefly…very briefly. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t even entertain the notion.

Thoughts of my God and my family immediately flooded my mind and my heart.

I serve a God who heals, a God who reconciles, a God who renews and revives and restores. It’s what He does. Knowing this, how could I not rest in His grace, His mercy, and His sovereignty? Further, how could I put those I love through such an ordeal?

To the Christian, certain thoughts become foreign, anathema to the regenerate mind. Taking one’s own life ought to bristle the believer’s conscience.

I acknowledge the generality of these themes, the moral and spiritual bankruptcy apart from Christ that generate the conditions whereby soldiers consider suicide as a reasonable course of action. I acknowledge the vast and infinite mitigating circumstances.

Yet, a direct correlation exists between the proliferation of the unchurched with the ensuing darkness and the increase in suicide and suicidal ideations both in our nation and the nation’s Army.

Frustration

I sat and listened in increasing frustration, scarcely able to contain my anger. My soul broiled in a near rage.

I seethed.

It was the quarterly Community Health Promotion Council or CHPC (pronounced Chipik for the layman). Here we sat and listened to all of the functional area reps speak to their programs and how we are “getting after” the various afflictions of soldiers, from obesity to misconduct and everything in between.

The suicide prevention team lead informed us of the existence of the imminence of the Suicide Prevention Walk. Here we would walk to bring awareness to suicide. There would be booths with handouts and reps to discuss suicide. We would A.C.E….Ask, Care, and Escort our buddy if we thought he had an issue that needed to be addressed.

“We’re really gettin’ after it, Sir,” the rep confirmed.

“That was it!” I thought sarcastically to myself. If only SPC XXX, who walked out of my headquarters, direct to his vehicle, drove to a parking lot and shot himself in the chest with a .22 caliber rifle, killing himself…if only he had participated in the Suicide Awareness walk!

My anger stems from the obvious treatment of symptoms. Intrinsically, nothing wrong with a Suicide Awareness walk until it’s treated as an actual solution. My frustration stems from the moral cowardice of a willfully blinded Army, unwilling to understand the issue and seek real solutions. Our secular overlords forbid it.

And so we are left to treat symptoms as men die by the dozens. Tragic.

And pragmatically, the Army still calls upon commanders to account for and deal with this plague at the expense of preparations for war.

I had another soldier, on the brink of being separated from the Army, who informed us that he fully intended to kill himself the first chance he got. Nothing personal, nothing against us. He just did not want to live any longer and no amount of counseling could convince him otherwise. We put him on a cot at the CQ desk for nearly a week until we get him enrolled in the Warrior Transition Unit. His company commander slept on a cot right next to him, refusing to leave his side.

This is what a commander ought to do but how could he train his unit for warfare with such an obligation? Were this an isolated situation, it’d be no factor but across the Army, commanders and 1SG’s are overwhelmed dealing with administration and the sins of soldiers leaving scant time to actually prepare for battle.

I long for the soldiers of this great nation to know Christ, to know the hope found in Him, that there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. This hope is unshakeable, immoveable, unchanging, and never fading.

I pray that the Spirit would move within these darkened ranks and call these men out of the darkness and into His marvelous light…what a blessed hope that would be.

The Brave Rifles Series 

Brave Rifles: The Problem of a Godless Army

Brave Rifles: The Danger of a Godless Army

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

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

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

Affliction in a Godless Army: The Sins of Generals

Affliction in a Godless Army: An Army of Junkies

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 Gaiety of Men Loving Men


I love a particular man…we’ll call him John.

It was love at first sight.

When I saw him, my soul was immediately knit to his and I love him as my own soul.

I delight in him.

I choose him over others…to the shame of my mother’s nakedness.

And he loves me in an extraordinary way.

His love for me surpasses the love of women.

Men in Love

Based upon the above exchange, you’re probably thinking I’m gay. Right?

You can say it. It’s okay.

At the very least, these expression of affection toward another man made you uncomfortable.

What if I told you these things after slaying the biggest, baddest dude on the battlefield, cutting his head off with his own sword, and brandishing it for all to see, driving an entire enemy army to flee in terror? Would you still think I was gay?

See the tension?

I can think of few things more masculine than closing with and destroying the enemy in battle. David, a man after God’s own heart, was a warrior through-and-through. Born of the crucible of conflict, his triumph over Goliath introduced him to the nation, to the king, and to his best friend, Jonathan.

Their friendship—their love—ran deep and strong. I appropriated the above quotes concerning the man I love. These are all from David concerning Jonathan. Throughout David’s rise to power and amidst his conflict with Saul, Jonathan’s father, their love persisted. Following Jonathan’s death on the battlefield, David mourned and wept and fasted until evening. (1 Samuel 1:11)

David lived with passion.

He exuded intensity: intensity in his pursuit of God, intensity in battle, and intensity in his love for his friend. And in that love between men, his love for his friend, he found refuge, strength, solace, and comfort.

O’ that we might find the same.

Stoic Manlove

The pendulum of error in men loving men generally swings from one extreme to another.

On one hand, at some point we began to equate masculinity with stoicism, the absence of affection and emotion. Maybe we should thank Josey Wales or John Wayne for propagating the strong, silent image of the American man.

I was raised, like many men my age I suspect, in a somewhat emotionally distant home. I recall my mother expressing affection toward me. She called me Pumpkin and loved on me when I was sick to the point where I became kind of a mama’s boy.

My relationship with my father was different.

I don’t recall my father ever telling me he loved me. I don’t recall him ever expressing physical affection toward me or my brother. My brother and I have certainly never shared the sentiment with one another and I never recall embracing my brother. That would be just weird

I don’t recall ever telling my father that I love him.

My father loves me. Of this much I am sure.

He worked very hard and always provided for our family. He was my biggest fan and my biggest cheerleader. He celebrated my successes with me and I loved making him proud. In his mind, I’m sure that this was the best way for him to express affection and love, by his actions.

But I grew up absent male affection, not even understanding it. It left a gaping hole in my heart that I never knew was missing.

For me, raised in this manner, overt displays of affection between men was, well…gay.

Perverted Manlove

Satan loves to high-jack godly things and wield them for evil.

He has done exactly this with love between men, on the opposite end of the spectrum from the stoic, man’s man of yesteryear.

Some misguided Christians claim that God will one day judge American because of homosexuality. Romans 1:18-32 tells us that He has already judged America.

At some point, we traded the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the created thing rather than the Creator even though, because of Creation, every person knows in their heart that there is a Creator and are therefore without excuse. Because of this, God has placed our nation under judgment and given us over to our sinful passions.

As such, men exchanged natural relations with women and were consumed with lust and passion for one another, committing shameless acts with other men. Though we know God’s righteous decree concerning such sin, we not only do them, but celebrate those who practice them.

As such, we receive the due penalty for this error.

The penalty is paid in the form of the debasement of society wrought by the homosexual lifestyle, a lifestyle characterized by debauchery, licentiousness, addiction, and violence.

Just as he perverted love between men, Satan likewise misappropriated the symbol of gay pride, the rainbow. God originally gave this as a symbol to the world of His righteousness, that He would never again judge the world with water. A symbol of God’s judgement and righteousness has become a symbol for unrepentant sin. Let that sink in.

For nearly 800 years, the word “gay” meant happy or lively or joyful. Only in the last century was it attributed to homosexuals to the point whereby the latter application usurped the former. I’ve never heard anyone use the word “gay” to mean anything other than homosexual unless it was used in a derogatory manner to disparage something or someone.

In every conceivable way—how it’s considered, our language, our culture, our symbols—the world has corrupted the notion of men loving men.

The Power of Men Loving Men

Men need to love men.

Most grown men I know have very few friends. Once a man gets a job, gets married, and has children, he has very little time for friends. Friendships tend to coalesce around shared mutual interests. We have golf buddies or workout partners or friends at work.

What we have are acquaintances, casual friends whose company we enjoy. What we lack are men we love, who love us, men with whom we share our deepest and maybe darkest feelings, fears, and failures, men with whom we can share our struggles and triumphs, men with whom we have knit our soul.

Absent men truly loving men, most lead a lonely existence. 

Brotherhoods develop, certainly. I spent 22 years in the military, 14 of those in special operations and I’ve lived the bonds of brotherhood, alongside men who did lay their lives down for their fellow men. This is the exception though and there is no reason love ought to be driven by shared occupational hazard.

We ought to deliberately love other men.

We ought to love them unashamed, unabashed, unperverted, and unconstrained.

We ought to hug and kiss our sons, teaching them how men love men.

My truculent 17-year-old son was sitting at our dining room table the other day. I walked up and wrapped my arms as tightly around his head as I could and squeezed, for all I was worth, while rocking him back and forth. I then kissed him on the top of his head and told him, “I love you, son.”

He brushed off my awkward display of affection but smiled wryly in doing so.

Consider the power of men loving men, of men knit together at the soul. It’s only been in the last year I’ve come to understand this. I have brothers who love me, who pray for me, who hold me accountable, with whom I can share anything knowing that they will never forsake me. I am blessed with men that I love, that love me. I’ve only discovered this recently and it has truly changed my life for the better.

And so I proclaim…

I love a man named Joe…two actually, two men named Joe that is.

I also love a man named Scott. And Chris.

I love another man named Ken.

There are others.

Would you love another man as I do? You’ll be surprised by the power in such gaiety.

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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