You are special and worthy of so much more…and other useless drivel that is clearly #nottheGospel

We’re drowning in a cesspool of dissonant voices.

Every single person has a voice. Each person has an agenda. If you have an internet connection, you have a platform.

Satan’s misinformation campaign runs around-the-clock and he employs, as his heralds, a legion of oftentimes well-meaning people, even believers, who mindlessly and faithfully regurgitate and proliferate messages of personal empowerment that sound nice.

However, upon examination, they are definitely #nottheGospel.

Rid your life of negative people.

This one is so prevalent but so clearly #nottheGospel.

“You cannot hang out with negative people and expect a positive life,” quoth (gulp) Joel Osteen. Negative people bring people down. They have a problem for every solution. Their negativity is contagious and will certainly detract from you being the best you that you can be and achieving all that you dream.

The only solution is expulsion.

Get them out of your life. Now, not later. Expunge them from the books. Move on. You do not need these people in your life.

On the contrary, surround yourself with positivity. Positive people. They will lift you up. They will empower you. They will help you take your to the next level. Success is the goal. Positivity fuels our motivation to get there. Think positive thoughts.

Makes sense. Right?

Rubbish.

God calls the believer to be the salt and light of the earth. (Matthew 5:13-16)

God calls the believer to make disciples of all the nations. (Matthew 28:18-20)

Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. (Luke 19:10)

Nowhere is a man’s attitude a factor.

Yes, being around negative people can be tiresome. Yes, being around negative people can sap your strength. Yes, I like to be around positive people as much as you do, but there is really no such thing as an inherently negative person. One is either redeemed or not, saved or not, of Christ or not. One may feel, speak, act, or even think negatively, but why?

If that person is a brother or sister in Christ, would we reject them? Maybe they are struggling with sin of some kind. Maybe they are lonely. Maybe they are wrestling with God about a hidden issue. Either way, Paul tells us that when one member of the body of Christ suffers, we all suffer. (1 Corinthians 12:26) We ought to suffer alongside a fellow believer suffering in negativity.

If the negative person is not a believer, should we really cast them from our life. They are unredeemed. Negativity is the least of our worries. They don’t know Christ! They need the words of life that you have. Perhaps they are negative because they don’t know the hope found in the Gospel of the risen Lord Jesus. 

In sovereignty, God has placed these people in your life. Would you be the one to tell them the good news?

Are we to decide who is worthy of our fellowship and love?

You are special and worthy of good things.

So much is wrapped up in our self-worth and our self-esteem.

From our youngest days, we impress upon our children their entitlement. It’s a joke, a cliché, but every kid truly does get a trophy, no matter how they do or do not contribute. We do everything in our power to build up their self-esteem, their sense of self-worth, how they feel about themselves.

We’ve built an entire cottage industry with the sole purpose of making us feel better about ourselves. In many ways, we’ve shaped our entire system, our entire culture, around making us each feel that we are not only unique, but unique and deserving.

We deserve better.

We were made for more.

This life you’re living now, it’s not good enough. Your relationships. Your job. Your home. Your financial standing. Your social status. They could all be better. You know it and I know it.

You are worth it and don’t let anyone ever tell you differently.

Excrement.

On my own merits, I deserve hell and nothing less.

Gulp. There it is.

God speaks clear to the intrinsic worth of a man. I had worth. Created in the image of God, I reflect the summation of the possibility of His character. (Geneses 1:27) Man is the pinnacle of creation, the crown jewel in the created order. (Psalm 8) As such, every man or woman to ever walk the planet is deserving of dignity and respect.

Yet I slandered it.

It’s all been corrupted.

We took the beautiful created order and in our sin, rendered it wretched. There is no one who is righteous, not a single one. No one seeks after God. No one loves God. No one does good, not one. (Romans 3) Our hearts are deceitful and desperately sick. (Jeremiah 17:9) There’s nothing I can do about it. I was born into it. (Psalm 51:5)

At the same time, creation testifies loud and clear to the existence of a God whom we all reject. (Romans 1) Therefore we are without excuse.

Each of us, at some point in our lives, maybe even presently, looks at all that God is and rejects Him. We choose to worship and serve the created thing instead of the Creator and for that, we all deserve one single thing. 

Justice.

Justice for sin against an eternally holy and righteous God equals eternal torment in a place called hell. How’s your self-esteem?

The idea that I deserve anything other than justice is clearly #nottheGospel.

It’s all about doing good, being kind.

Think of the best person you know. Perhaps it’s even you!

Either way, consider them for a minute. What makes them special or good? Have they done good deeds? Have they helped you? Do they display selflessness? Consider their goodness. Consider their righteousness.

Now, consider that the very best you or I or anyone else has to offer, of our own volition, is a filthy rag in the eyes of the Lord, literally a used menstrual garment. (Isaiah 64:6)

We may do good deeds, certainly, but the corruption of sin has tainted even our best deeds. The idea that we can do enough good things, that our good deeds will save us is clearly #nottheGospel.

We will never earn favor with God. We will never attain standing before Him, of our own accord.

When you really want something, you will find a way.

Tony Robbins spearheads a bevy of self-help motivational speakers that convince us that “We Can!”

You cannot…and even if you could, does it actually matter?

Definitely #nottheGospel.

If you’re unhappy, that’s on you.

Assuredly #nottheGospel.

God is infinitely more concerned with our holiness rather than our happiness.

Be the hero of your own story.

Self-worship that is clearly #nottheGospel.

There exists a billion deviations, perversions really, of the singular message of hope and that is this:

God saves sinners!

This is the crux of the Gospel, the only message with timeless merit.

Okay, I’ll concede. These other ideas may possess temporal merit. If pop psychology and self-help gurus can motivate or equip someone to attain a measure of peace and/or happiness, then that is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s not like God begrudges us our livelihood.

Substitution is the issue, substitution that generates confusion.

When Christians parrot this drivel either as the Gospel or on par with the Gospel or even as a part of the Gospel, we fuel misunderstanding, perhaps even our own. Consider that Satan would love nothing more than for each of us to trumpet our own ability, while standing in line to see Oprah, convinced of the possibility of so much more.

Jesus Christ died on the cross for wretched sinners like me or like you, that we might be forgiven our sins. Our only hope lay in this truth, that if we repent and believe in the risen Lord Jesus, we will be saved, unto eternity.

Only He is worthy. My value exists only in Him. His work becomes my work, empowered by the Holy Spirit. Let us cut through the confusion.

Let us propagate this message worth hearing.

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

FOLLOW THE 413!

Pro-Choice Folks, I Understand…I Truly Do

Let us dispense with the pretenses.

Let us disavow the same tired rhetoric.

I know.

It’s a zygote, a clump of cells. It’s not a person. It’s your body. It’s your choice. You have reproductive rights. There is a war on women. If I’m against abortion, I won’t have one.

But can we please cut to the chase?

You hate men.

Rather, you hate manhood, the institution, masculinity.

Really, it’s the perceived patriarchy that generates your wrath, the system itself.

As long as men yield, as long as they acquiesce, as long as they join in self-emasculation and self-loathing then you tolerate them, begrudgingly. You reserve your ire for those who dare advocate for anything as outdated and outrageous as masculine virtue, be they male or yes, other females.

You fulfill Scripture.

Did you know that?

Long ago, God cursed the woman in her sin saying, “Your desire shall be for your husband…” (Genesis 3:16)

At first glance, this doesn’t sound bad. Why would you not want to desire your husband. The language is telling. In the very next chapter, using the exact same language, God says to Cain, speaking of sin, “Its desire is for you.” (Genesis 4:7) Sin seeks to dominate Cain, to control him, to usurp his motivations, compelling him to act accordingly, bending him to its will.

The alternate rendering of the curse speaks volumes. “Your desire will be against your husband.” God imbued the man with spiritual headship, with a role as the leader of the family, and you hate it. You rage against it. The idea of male headship bristles your spirit.

You seek to usurp this role, to dominate him, to control him, compelling him to act accordingly, bending him to your will. You’ll be no subordinate, no slave to a man.

And you’ve seen the abuse of the system, ungodly men who embrace the second half of the curse…“and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16) Men who impregnate and abandon, men who abuse and torment, men who sexualize and oppress—you’ve seen it, maybe lived it or your mother did.

I cannot fathom your frustration.

In other areas of life in a civilized society, you will your way to a plethora of Pyrrhic victories. You’ve shattered glass ceilings at virtually every level. You outpace your male brothers in higher education. You’ve passed Ranger school and joined the infantry. Every profession is yours for the taking though if the #metoo folks are right, we’ve got a lot of work to do.

There’s just one small problem.

You have a uterus…to go with your vagina.

You deserve the exact same sexual freedom as godless men. You are entitled to it, but unfortunately your biology works dreadfully against you. Pregnancy is the ultimate expression of feminine bondage, a burden, a yoke which no one else may bear for you.

And you’ll not have it.

You know it’s a life. I know it’s a life. But that’s not what’s important. What matters is your life and your freedom and really, your sexual freedom. We’ll call it a zygote if it’ll make you feel better. We’ll even chant your slogans. 

It comes down to a simple decision between your rights, your sexual rights, and the right to life of this clump of cells.

I know. I truly do.

A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

Emasculated Men.

You hate men as well.

Confronted with feminine ire, you concede. You caved long ago and yielded your masculinity to become a neutered caricature of what God intended you to be, and you’re okay with that because you are accepted.

Their acceptance of you depends entirely upon your continuing harmlessness to the cause, and that’s okay. Know that at the first hint of obstinance, you’ll be soundly crushed.

Perhaps it was your father that taught you to hate men and you do. You hate them. You recoil at what society has declared manly. The brutish tobacco-chewing redneck or the Bible-thumping woman-hater stand in opposition to the genderless utopia you desire.

Who are you to have any kind of privilege just because you’re a man?

Who are you to be given authority on account of something so unearned as your penis?

So you quietly tuck your testicles between your legs, pick up your “Stop the War on Women” sign, and join the march. You likewise know it’s a life as well as I do, but that is not what’s important.

Her reproductive rights are what matters here, not some nameless, faceless and ultimately inconvenient cluster of biological goo. You don’t even have a uterus. How could you possibly have an opinion on the matter? Right?

Mind your lane and get back in line.

You hate women.

You go the other direction.

You fall in line with the curse and rule over the woman in an ungodly fashion.

It’s easy for you. You don’t even really have to try. It comes very naturally. You see women for what they are, ultimately repositories for your pleasurable insemination.

Abortion is a convenient means to that end.

You really don’t have time or desire for the responsibility or sexual ethics and abortion is the next best thing. Hey, you’re certainly not going to father some child that you don’t even want. This isn’t the sixties where you have to marry the girl. 

Really. I understand.

We don’t want child support hanging over our heads. We don’t want some artificial commitment to someone or something that we didn’t want in the first place, but hey, we’re human too. We don’t want some kid growing up without a dad, maybe even in poverty. We know the deal.

It’s for the best. Truly.

Once we can “take care of it”, it’s on to the next one. No one gets hurt. We all have a good time and hey, did you see that waitress at the club. I think she was making eyes at me. I’ve got a feeling…

You hate God.

Again, I understand completely.

I once hated God as you do and I once hated life as you do.

You know God exists. Creation testifies to that fact loud and clear. Nothing has ever created itself. You know this. Yet, you desire to be the captain of your own destiny. You desire to call the shots. You worship at the altar of you and woe be anyone who seeks to impede your ritual sacrifice.

It’s you. Your sexual ethics. Your decisions. Your body. Your choice. Your everything.

You hate God and the fact that He imposes standards. You hate God because of the fact that He imposes standards and really, because you know there will be accountability. He stands in direct opposition to the cult of you. And you hate it. You hate Him.

I know it. You know it…He knows it.

The life inside, created in His image, stands as an imminent reminder of His ways and you hate His ways. You want it to be your way. Abortion allows for this. 

You really have no…choice. Ironic, isn’t it. Or maybe you do…

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

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

THE 413 REPORT

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

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

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

   Janice S. Garey  

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

  Anne Rightler

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

  Scott Doherty

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

 Chad Chasteen

FOLLOW THE 413!

LORD, Break the Teeth of Andrew Cuomo

Okay, after a few days of processing…

…this week, New York’s legislature passed the Reproductive Health Act, signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo, to rousing applause and cheers. This bill expands access to abortion including into the dreaded third trimester, where a baby really begins to uh, look like a baby, if the woman’s health was somehow at risk.

The broad language ensures that the abortion rate in a state where 25% of pregnancies already end in abortion will almost assuredly rise.

Needless to say, this has received a ton of attention from the conservative segments of society and Pro-life advocates but from the left, virtual silence. It’s just a matter of course.

What is the believer to do?

We must not be surprised.

Matt Walsh still can’t believe this is real.

I can.

This is what evil does.

Solomon reminds us of wicked men, “They cannot sleep unless they have done wrong.” (Proverbs 4:16) Isaiah tells us that “the wicked are like the tossing sea; for it cannot be quiet.” (Isaiah 57:20)

As all men are either sons of God or sons of Satan, evil men have no choice but to follow their father as “the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) The unborn are perhaps the easiest to devour, absolutely defenseless.

The slope is real, slippery indeed.

Many have asked, “How could this happen? How could they do such a thing?”

This is the wrong question to ask. The New York Congress has been pushing this legislation for years, but it had always been blocked by Republicans until the recent elections handed the Democratic party a majority. So this reminds us of an uncomfortable truth.

Evil always progresses. It is never content with the status quo. It has no choice but to expand the scope of evil until all bow before the prince of this world.

Expect this.

Expect other states to push similar legislation.

Expect laws allowing euthanasia—post-birth abortion if you will—of defective people, those with Down’s Syndrome or some other disability perhaps. Don’t be surprised when abortion of the defective becomes mandatory. It’s for their own good, after all.

Expect further legislation embracing the death cult. Expect the expansion of euthanasia. Canada, about a decade ahead of us in progressiveness, passed legislation removing restrictions on children for physician assisted suicide. Similar laws will follow here. Expect it. The elderly, the infirm…it’s for their own good, after all.

Anticipate the continued destruction of gender norms, the normalization and legalization of pedophilia. Expect a continued expansion of hate crime legislation, making it illegal to speak against or oppose any of this.

The godless know God’s decree against these things but nevertheless do them…and give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:32) Tolerance is not enough. Compliance is not enough. Wickedness will not rest until you are a proponent, an advocate.

We should expect nothing less than a continuous pursuit to this end by every means available including legislation.

We must understand judgement.

America has already been judged.

I’ve seen numerous people bemoaning imminent judgement or even calling for it. Does God judge the nations? Yes, He always has. He is a personal God, imminent and present, working in the lives of individual people. But He likewise moves on a national level, a global level.

Describing ungodliness, Paul writes that all men know that there is a God, Creation testifies clearly to this fact. Yet, men did not see fit to honor God, but became futile in their thinking as their hearts were darkened.

Claiming to be wise, they became fools,” and “exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.” (Romans 1:22,25).

Therefore, God gave them up to the lusts of their heart. He gave them what they wanted.

America abandoned God. It’s progressive, but it happened and is happening. Every generation is more unchurched than the previous. Men failed to disciple their sons—perhaps they were not themselves disciples—and the nation walked from God, worshiping and serving the created thing instead of the Creator.

Homosexuality and the accompanying licentiousness is judgement. A perversion of the biblical sexual ethic is the judgement. The associated destruction of the nuclear family is the judgement. (Romans 1:26-27)

God says, “If you want this more than me, then have it.” He gives us what we truly want. The resultant and obvious wake of death is God’s judgement upon this nation.

Abortion is the byproduct of the abandonment of the godly sexual ethic. Of course there exists a million different circumstances but in its broadest context, abortion exists to clean up the mess, so to speak, from the desertion of God’s ways.

In the end, abortion is what we as a nation, collectively wanted.

We must understand the issue.

Let’s put a biblical spin on this.

Andrew Cuomo is not the enemy. Sorry. He’s not. Neither is a single member of the New York congress that voted for this horrid affair. Our enemy fights a different battle, playing chess while we tarry about with checkers. (Ephesians 6:12)

I am Andrew Cuomo.

Before knowing Christ, my mind darkened by sin, I was as pro-choice as any of these folks. I wanted the freedom to conduct myself sexually as I pleased, and if that required an issue “be taken care of” then so be it.

Apart from Christ, I had no true love for my fellow men. I had no appreciation for life, for the image-bearers of God. The godly sexual ethic had no appeal. It was foreign to me. I couldn’t comprehend anyone clinging to such an antiquated notion.

And such were some of you. (1 Corinthians 6:11)

Apart from Christ, you are the New York legislature, we are them. Apart from Christ, whom none of us sought on our own accord, we would have voted unanimously to destroy God in any possible way, including the destruction of unborn life.

Yes, these men and women will one day be called to account.

Yes, abortion is a tragic evil that we must oppose with all of our strength.

However, consider that in the tragedy of abortion, God works all things for the good of those who love Him, those whom He called according to His purposes. (Romans 8:28) Not that all things are good, but that all things accomplish good.

Consider that an aborted baby, at the expense of a few moments of pain, will never have to spend a single second in a sinful and fallen world where it is legal to kill babies. They are instantly pulled into the loving arms of Jesus to spend eternity.

Oppose. Resist. Most importantly, understand.

We must respond rightly.

If we believe what we say we believe, nothing has changed.

A baby is a baby, one second after conception as much as one minute before childbirth. This bill merely serves to clarify the positions.

We must act, but we must act rightly.

We must pray.

Pray fervently, continuously. Pray imprecatory prayers if you feel led. Call for the wrath of God upon the godless men behind this great evil. Pray for the end of abortion, by all means. However, understanding that abortion will never end apart from revival or Christ’s return, let us be on our knees for the souls of men.

Let us pray for Andrew Cuomo, that he might come to know the risen Lord Jesus.

Let abortion reinforce the necessity that we make disciples of our sons. Let us see in our sons, future mighty men of God who will someday rise up and claim all that God has given to them, that they will forsake the ways of their fathers, us, and put an end to wickedness such as abortion.

By all means, oppose with legislation. Vote. Elect godly leaders who will end this scourge. March. Demonstrate. Speak out.

Become angry and act. What if across the street from every Planned Parenthood clinic was a Christian pregnancy center and we could proclaim to women in a crisis pregnancy, “Here is another way.” Stay angry and adopt. Further the narrative that there is another way, that you will take this unwanted child and love it and raise it as your own.

Most of all, proclaim. Proclaim Christ and Him crucified, with every platform entrusted to you. He is the only hope to end all evil, much less the evil of abortion.

Can you imagine the unfathomable joy of a former abortionist, being welcomed into Heaven…by the babies he once murdered? I cannot fathom such a thing as this.

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

FOLLOW THE 413!

Biblical Masculinity is Toxic Masculinity

Has there been a culture as confused as ours?

Clarity

It’s a shame, but I’ve got to stipulate.

As much as I cling to truth and the language of truth, our culture demands clarification.

I simply cannot speak of marriage lest you be confused. I must stipulate…biblical marriage between a man and a woman. Even the word “biblical” does not delineate decisively. Now, you and I know that the word “marriage” carries a biblical connotation—God ordained marriage after all—and excludes all but those between a man and a woman. Unfortunately, society no longer honors God’s definition.

The concept of masculinity demands a similar stipulation.

We must delineate between masculinity and biblical masculinity though again, you and I know that apart from Christ, masculinity is meaningless. It rings hollow. It doesn’t actually exist. Christless masculinity is as meaningful as godless love or waterless oceans.

So, for the sake of clarity, we must agree…

…biblical masculinity is toxic masculinity.

Godless Masculinity

Allow me to establish a term. Let us address godless masculinity.

In Christ, we find the ultimate exhibition of masculinity. Masculinity—biblical masculinity—demands Christ. He must exist for masculinity to even be a thing.

God in flesh, Jesus is a man.

Let’s start there. Again, common degeneration requires we affirm so simple an idea. In the common vernacular, He is a cisgender, biological male, one who gender identifies with the sex assigned at birth. He would be totally comfortable with He pronouns.

And in His humanity, His masculinity resonates. It affirms the goodness of masculinity, the rightness of masculinity, the necessity of masculinity.

The masculinity of Jesus resonates with tension, with contrast.

He is BOTH the glorified Christ of Revelation 1, the mere sight of whom drove John to fall to his face as if dead, AND the gentle rabbi to whom children were given. He is BOTH the awe-inducing Christ of Revelation 19, the King of kings and Lord or Lords who will judge and make war as He treads the winepress of the wrath of a holy God upon His return, AND the compassionate healer who has mercy upon the masses, who weeps at their lostness.

He is gentle.

He will rule the nations with a rod of iron.

He is kind.

He will strike down His enemies.

He is love. He is mercy.

He demands obedience.

And He calls His sons to account, to be strong, to be courageous. He requires His sons to emulate Him, to love their wives as Christ loves the Church, to make disciples of their children, to demand justice and pursue purity. He moves them to humility and mercy, to serve and to love.

He calls them to act like men, to embrace their God-given masculinity.

Godless masculinity knows nothing of this.

It knows neither strength nor weakness. Godless masculinity is BOTH the cat-calling chauvinist AND the limp-wristed coward who concedes his role as the spiritual leader of the home and the church.

Godless masculinity is Matt Lauer and Bradley Manning, a caricature of the humble servant, Jesus. Godless masculinity can never reconcile the overt and sinful bravado of faux masculinity with the effectively-neutered males of this present day. In response, it necessarily and deliberately confuses biblical displays with gross perversions, labeling them both toxic in rejection of the perceived patriarchy.

Godless masculinity recoils at the real thing.

A godly man leading his wife and family in the way of the Lord is anathema, toxic rather, to that which is perishing.

Toxic to Godlessness

Men lead the general rebellion against God.

The most influential person in the life of a child is the father. A child’s future and his faith, or lack thereof, is largely attributable to what the father does or does not do, his presence or absence.

In our nation, fathers long ago walked from the church and failed to raise their sons in the way of the Lord. Predictably, when we became older, we departed from those ways. Each subsequent generation is more unchurched, more godless, drifting further from truth.

Ours is a rebellion of apathy, of passivity. It is a rebellion of abdication. We long ago ceded our god-given role as spiritual leaders of the home and the church. The resultant feminization of both, the home and the church, spelled doom for both institutions.

Masculinity spells death for godlessness.

By God’s design, legions of committed men, disciples themselves, make disciples of the nations, starting in their own home.

Godly men love their wives as Christ loves the church, consuming them with the fire of their selfless and unconditional love. (Ephesians 5:25) Godly men wash their wives in the water of the Word, coming alongside them in pursuit of the Lord. (Ephesians 5:26) The resultant union testifies loud and clear to the Gospel of the risen Lord Jesus.

Godly men pour into their children, rearing them as disciples from their youngest days. Godly men discipline their sons and teach them to cherish women, to esteem them as the fairer sex. Godly men instill into their daughters a sense of worth independent of their looks or what they could offer a man. Godly men model what their daughters ought to look for in a future husband and how their sons ought to think, act, and speak.

Godly men lead their families.

Godly men lead the church.

Godly men stand firm against the flaming darts of the enemy, holding steadfast to the truth of Scripture, demanding righteousness from themselves and other men.

Godly men subordinate themselves to all of these pursuits and there is no greater threat to the world and its associated godlessness than masculinity…which is why Satan has labored so diligently in confusing the world as to what masculinity actually is.

This leads to an unnecessarily comfortable truth. Our nation and the western church will only go as far as masculinity will carry them.

Toxic to Evil

The proliferation of evil speaks to a general emasculation.

Godly men do not stand idle as men harass women, as bullies do their thing, as people treat one another with hatred and disrespect. Replace the word “godly” with “good” and almost everyone would agree with this sentiment, even recent progressive movements that reject traditional notions of masculinity.

God forces us to expand the provision to a basis that would merit subsequent rejection by those same secular forces.

Godly men would never have required the overt sexualization forced upon our young women in the first place. We would’ve never convinced legions of women to find value from their looks, pressure them into premarital sex, and abandon them once they become pregnant. The widespread proliferation of single mothers and all of the affiliated affliction testifies to emasculation.

Abortion is a by-product of this emasculation, as is the destruction of gender norms in our society. Even #metoo exists as a reaction against a godless masculinity that cannot be acknowledged, a secular response to a spiritual bankruptcy.

Only good men, who by definition must be of Christ, can readily stand against the proliferation of such wickedness.

Symptoms no More

Apart from Christ, society may only treat symptoms, the proverbial band-aid on a sucking chest wound.

Meanwhile, women will continue to be abused and debased, babies will be murdered in the womb, more of our sons will walk from the faith, and our nation will continue its descent into the abyss.

My prayer is simple, for revival among the men of this nation. I pray that the LORD would raise up a generation of men who would claim all that He has set aside for them, that they would waive aside the clouds of confusion in repentance and boldly stand in allegiance with true righteousness, the righteousness found in Christ. This is the only way.

And it can only start with you.

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

FOLLOW THE 413!

Burn Your New Year’s Resolutions

Just stop.

You won’t keep them anyway. You’re wasting your time.

You know it. I know it. So just stop, all right.

Newness

I love newness. I cherish rebirth.

This time of year speaks of newness, of rebirth.

Like a Monday on steroids, the imminent new year beckons. I can scarcely imagine all that the Lord will accomplish.

He will change a life. He will save a soul. He will heal. He will make something ugly beautiful. He will use someone unworthy. He will turn something wicked into good. He will change a heart, mend a relationship, free someone from addiction.

How do I know these things. Because this is what He does.

The Bible states it; reality affirms it. I’ve seen it…in my own life and the lives of others. His sovereign hand moves in every facet of existence, constantly working all things according to the counsel of His good will.

My Resolutions

I’ve kept exactly two resolutions in my entire life.

In January 2005, I resolved to quit chewing tobacco.

As a can-a-day Copenhagen dipper for over 14 years, I became aware at some point that it was going to kill me. I began to have crusty white spots on my gums which I learned were likely leukoplakia, a precancerous condition.

I also began to have stomach issues.

I’d have a big ‘ol fatty in and then suddenly, I’d have to spit it out or I’d puke. Some kind of reaction with my stomach. Envision driving down the road, spitting into a coke bottle, and then having to get it out as quick as possibly, into the coke bottle with the narrow opening, without spilling it, without getting it on you, trying not to puke, and also, not to hit the car in front of you.

I’d throw in another immediately, as soon as my stomach settled.

As my quit date approached, I became depressed at the thought of life without Copenhagen. How could I live?

But I set it down, for good. January 7th, 2005. My wife quit smoking after 14 years the week prior. We both went cold turkey and we both stuck with it. It was hell, but we made it. And 13 years later, I’m still alive. It hasn’t killed me…yet, anyway.

That same year, my wife and I resolved to go to church.

I hadn’t been to church in my entire adult life, having fled the institution almost immediately after leaving home. Our oldest daughter had begun to drift a bit and we wanted the church to ‘fix’ her. Some good old fashioned church morality was just what she needed.

God had a much different plan.

We are still in church.

Some Guidance

You have anxiety, yes?

Maybe it’s not clinical yet, but you worry. You fret.

How are you going to pay your bills? Where will the money come from? Will your wife or your husband walk away? Will your children have it better than you? Will your car get you to work tomorrow without breaking down?

Will you ever have peace?

Right in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, the most famous sermon ever preached, in a section on anxiety, Jesus utters these words, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) Three times, He exhorts, “Do not be anxious.” Do not be anxious. Do not be anxious. Don’t worry about your life. Don’t worry about food or drink. Do not worry about what you will wear.

Tomorrow will have enough worry of its own and God already knows what you need…

…but seek first the kingdom of God.

Jesus well informs our priorities.

Our Priorities

Priorities drive resource allocation.

All of us have an internal set of priorities from which we apply our time, our money, our thoughts, our work, our emotional and intellectual energy. In fact, our resource allocation will often betray our publicly stated priorities.

Claim what you will, but where you spend your time and your money speaks volumes about your priorities.

New Year’s resolutions are an attempt on our behalf to realign our priorities in a manner that we deem to be more suitable. I’ve made the same ones as you.

I am going to get ripped, I mean really hit the gym hard this year.

I’m not going to eat any junk food or fast food.

I’m going to go home and throw away everything with sugar in it.

The whole 30!

I’m going to get out of debt.

I’m going to spend more time with my kids.

I’m going to read more.

I’m going to be happy.

I’m going to focus on me.

Maybe these are good things but you know what happens. Three weeks later, you’re sitting in front of YouTube one evening, watching stupid cat videos, scarfing an entire can of Pringles as quietly as possible so your kids won’t hit you up, while the t.v. puts them to sleep in the next room.

Wait, crap. That’s me.

Back to You

Let’s get back to you.

Get ripped, but does it matter? Maybe you’ll see an ab or two. Maybe you’ll hit a PR on a lift. Maybe you’ll finally look how you feel you ought to look in your favorite pair of jeans but does it matter? Does it have eternal significance?

Eat better. By all means, take better care of your body. Feed your children better food. Pursue health but understand the reality.

No matter how hard we try, our bodies will one day fail. Steadily we march to the grave, to our predetermined date with the Maker. We may arrive in better condition, but arrive we will.

Don’t be misled. We ought to be good stewards of our bodies as the temple of the Spirit. Our bodies carry our mouths that we might proclaim, our hands that we might work, but to what end?

Our money, our time, our resources: it all belongs to Him. We can accumulate. We can redistribute. We can save and save or spend and spend. Either way, though we may temporarily possess some things, they will all rust and decay and become as if they never existed.

Again I ask, to what end?

The harshest reality is this…no matter what you do, the second you die, the instant you are in the ground, the world will begin the process of forgetting all about you. Don’t believe me? Who was the richest man in your town forty years ago? Thirty years? The most popular? The most successful?

They are long since forgotten, erased from memory, a specter from the past.

A Worthy Resolution

But the kingdom of God, that is forever. That is eternity.

The King, King Jesus, He is forever. As is His grace, His mercy, His love.

As He ascended into Heaven and took His seat at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, He inaugurated His kingdom, assuming the throne over all things. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to Him, but all things are in subjection to Him.

His kingdom, the invisible kingdom of His majesty, advances across the world. It cannot be stopped. It will not be hindered. God’s purposes will be accomplished.

And one day, He will return in power and glory, visibly and it will be the most recognizable event in the history of the world. No man will doubt what has occurred. It will unmistakable, undeniable, both terrifying and awesome.

At that point, He will consummate His kingdom as He sets all things right and His people will rule with Him into eternity.

Won’t you seek after this, the kingdom.

Allow me to invite you.

Burn your New Year’s resolutions. Yes. Burn them. Write them down and then rip them to shreds and set them on fire.

This year, let us resolve boldly. Let us resolve to seek first the kingdom of God and really, to seek first the King, King Jesus.

Let us seek Him, pursue Him, strive after Him. Let us meditate on Him, dwell upon Him, think about Him. Let us preach and teach about Him. Let us study about Him, prayerfully, through the word of God that reveals to us the Word of God. Let us magnify Him. Let us worship Him. Let us praise Him. Let us know Him and let us follow Him.

Let us be resolute 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

FOLLOW THE 413!

I Hate Autism…but I Love It

It’s personal.

I just don’t recall an autistic kid growing up.

We had this one kid in high school who, in recollection, must’ve been autistic based upon how he acted. He was just strange, peculiar in an autistic sort of way and of course the kids, me included to my eternal shame, were just awful to him.

I don’t remember another.

We had mentally retarded kids. Lots of them. Is that even appropriate terminology anymore? These kids had obvious mental and oftentimes physical limitations. They had their own class in school and even their own bus. Do they still have that?

But autism wasn’t a thing like it is now.

About Autism

It’s personal for me.

It’s easy to speak in a sterile fashion concerning a particular affliction.

Autism rates have skyrocketed over the previous decades, doubling in the last 20 years. Today, roughly 1 in 100 children will be diagnosed with autism, depending on the source. The CDC has estimated as low as 1 in 68.

Scholars differ over the cause. Is it due to increased awareness and diagnoses or is there actually an increasing prevalence. Most assume both.

Anecdotally, I’ll affirm the latter as children today are afflicted from conception.

Though it’s not entirely established, there is a clear link between between autism and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome as well as prenatal drug exposure. If a child is lucky enough not to be murdered in the womb, many are subjected to a full scale chemical assault that changes the very nature of their future existence. I’ll abstain from the vaccination debate for now.

The foster system has afforded us a front row seat to the struggle. Prenatal chemical and alcohol abuse afflicts all of my sons, some more than others. The only thing more shocking than its effects is its prevalence.

So for me, it’s personal. My son has autism.

And I hate it.

Why I Hate It

He showed up on our doorstep at two months of age and we immediately suspected something was amiss. His hands and feet rotated in a continual, rhythmic fashion, never at rest. He had other behaviors I’d just characterize as odd.

He flapped. I don’t know how else to describe it.

He also piked when excited, stiff as a board.

Diagnosis after diagnosis followed as the wholesale prenatal assault of illegal drugs had left their indelible mark. Epilepsy. Developmental Delays. Tourette’s just to name a few. And of course, autism.

We learned. Autism is a spectrum, a processing issue manifesting itself in behavioral, relational, and sensory issues.

My son thinks differently. His brain works in a different way.

And he acts weird, often strange.

He has ticks.

And meltdowns.

At a pool party, my son’s popsicle fell to the ground and he lost it. I mean, he lost it. For those who have never dealt with an autistic meltdown, know that no amount of consoling, cajoling, comforting, even threatening can preclude the meltdown. In front of everyone, my son melted into rage at the fallen popsicle…and everyone stared at him, family, friends, other parents. And he knew they were staring at him, and he raged that much harder.

Never mind that another popsicle stood at the ready.

We finally found a sport he enjoyed, soccer. Well, he really didn’t care about the game, but he liked to run and he liked to talk, so he would frequently run alongside his teammates while playing, chatting up a storm, moderately oblivious to the game itself to the ire of his coaches and teammates.

Autism is not something a kid ‘grows out of’ either. The older my son becomes, the more obvious it is that he is not a normal little boy.

Every parent worries about their child, desires a better future for them. For my son, I wonder.

  What will his future hold?

          Will he hold a job?

          Will he have a wife?

          Will he be loved?

I feel an intense need to protect him from a cold and uncaring world.

Because he is different, because he often acts strange, others notice. Kids instantly realize he is different. Interestingly, most girls treat him with intense kindness. With young boys, some do and some, well, you know the deal. You don’t have to teach kids to be mean.

Adults either.

My son has autism. I hate it.

And I love it.

Why I Love It

My son is peculiar and wonderful in a peculiar way.

He is truly God’s gift to us.

I asked him the other day teasing, “Who do you love more, Moe or Titus?” speaking of our dogs. He just looked at me, puzzled. “What about Dexter or Gideon?” speaking of our other two dogs. Again, a puzzled look.

“I love them all the same,” was his most serious response. He simply could not fathom the concept of loving one more than the other. He loves them all.

I frequently walk into the bathroom to find two cats lounging around a stopped-up sink full of water, evidence of his care for them. He is the only one who routinely wakes as early as I do. Some mornings, I’ll sit and listen to him carry on a conversation with two of the cats in the next room. Maybe the most precious thing I’ve heard.

He plays with hilarity and exhilaration with friends who accept him as he is.

His ever rotating catalog of ticks, Tourette’s-related, always bring a smile to my face. One week he stretches his mouth as wide as he can. Other weeks he stops frequently to touch his toes. The one where he rolls his eyes in an exaggerated way while being spoken to is probably my favorite.

He is a comforter, an encourager.

One of our tutors at school had suffered an intense personal issue that grieved her soul. As she sat softly weeping in a dark room, my son walked by and saw her grief. Without hesitation, he went in and gave her a gentle hug, the sheer sweetness of the act a boon to her spirit.

God made him perfect, my son.

And it’s just like God to do such a thing.

God is not the author of sin. The relationship between God and evil is a mystery and anyone who professes to understand it completely is either a liar or deluded. Yet, of this I am certain. God works all things to the council of His good will. All things serve Him and accomplish good in His people.

Not that all things are good in and of themselves.

You see, God made my son exactly who He meant him to be.

And he has changed me, my son has. God has changed me through him. Autism is hard. Autism is painful. I hate autism. But, my son has autism, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. He is perfect just as he is.

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

FOLLOW THE 413!

Do NOT Become a Foster Parent

Don’t do it.

Don’t adopt either.

You will thank me. This I promise.

The System is painful.

Okay, that’s a lie. The System is excruciating, frustrating.

Light yourself on fire and extinguish it with a ball peen hammer. Punch yourself repetitively in the genitalia until it stops hurting. Fling yourself down a flight of concrete steps into a kiddie pool filled with thumbtacks.

Okay, I’m being dramatic, sort of.

We pursued our son, Tevin, for years. He was 13, a resident of a group home, and had been in foster care for most of his life. We wanted him. He wanted to be adopted. It took nearly three years to make it a reality, three long years of absolutely critical developmental time, missed.

Two of my sons, brothers, had also been in foster care for most of their lives. They were our foster sons for four years before we could adopt them, four years of uncertainty, trepidation, and angst…for them and for us.

Overworked and underpaid, DCS workers manage intense caseloads and as with any system, there are good ones and not so good ones. Their bottom line is placement, not profit. At the end of the day, they have to get the kid placed, somehow.

          He’s healthy, sure!

          He’s well-behaved, no red flags at all.

          He is just the nicest young man.

I’ve spent enough time in court, we actually recognize repeat offenders. No joke. And each time, it’s the same. We expect the judge to issue the decisive ruling we’ve been waiting for aaannndddd, “Let’s hold off and set another court date in three months.” Hear me sighing.

Mountains of red tape, frequent and inconvenient supervised visits, ungrateful and sometimes even hateful birth families: expect this and more. Did I mention the hours and hours of mandatory classroom training?

Don’t do it.

Spare yourself. Trust me.

Not to mention that the kids are bad.

They are. You just won’t believe it.

They lie without hesitation. They take whatever they need with no qualms. They have unsafe premarital sex. They smoke anything they can get their hands on.

We’ve been cussed at and cussed out. We’ve been threatened. We’ve been stolen from, repeatedly. I own nothing of value and haven’t for many years and don’t intend to for this very reason.

Get the fairy tale out of your head. I know what you’re thinking. You’ll just love them so much that they’ll fall in love with you and everyone will just live happily ever after. Puppies and rainbows.

It’s a ruse.

What will happen is you will love them, pour into them, give of yourself with no guarantee of reciprocation. In all likelihood, they may hate you. Doesn’t make sense does it? None of it does.

Here is what will actually happen.

They will leave.

And it will hurt you.

Badly.

A friend of ours was gifted with a beautiful foster baby. For nearly three years, they loved that baby like no tomorrow and it looked like she would be theirs. At the 9th hour, a biological parent surfaced and the courts sent her home.

Our friends were beyond devastated. They were crushed.

They System errs on the side of the biological family as it must, to the point of insanity. Reunion is almost always the primary goal and biological parents are afforded every single opportunity to get their children back.

This is right. This is good, but it’s at your expense. Oftentimes, you must send the children home to a situation you know is not good, that you know is lesser.

We had two young girls for a couple of weeks before we had to send them home to their birth parents, a couple of local meth-heads. Well, at least they had their pit bulls to keep them safe.

Listen. You have a nice life. Go ahead and turn that spare room into a man cave. It’s what you really want to do anyway. Imagine a sweet 88” HD hanging on that wall, maybe a kegerator.

You don’t need this hassle.

Do NOT become a foster parent.

Do NOT adopt either…

…unless you want to obey God.

God doesn’t mince words.

Care for the orphan. Make disciples of them.

Take them into your home, love them as your own, and bring them up in the ways of the Lord that when they are older, they will not depart from it.

God is a God of justice, a Father to the fatherless and He commands justice for the fatherless. He commands it! What else could he mean by justice for the fatherless…than a father? The fatherless did not choose their plight, it was given of them by the sins of another. God speaks clearly, from Genesis to James, care for the orphan.

A true disciple of Jesus follows His commands, obeys Him, up to and including the willingness to deny self, to even suffer on behalf of the name.

The fatherless suffer at the hands of a cruel and unrelenting world. They grow into afflicted adults with little hope for advancement and most of all, they will likely never know Christ.

The biblical mandate is clear, much more clear than you’d like to acknowledge.

Otherwise don’t do it…

…unless you want to practice Christ-like love.

The love of Christ is this.

In eternity past, He set His affections upon His people. He decided to love a people who did not love Him and He died on the cross for their sins, that they might be reconciled to Him. He gave them new hearts that they might believe Him and love Him, but still they betray Him, every single day.

Still He loves them.

What could be more Christ-like than setting your affections on one not yours by birth, deciding to love them, even if they are unlovable, just as you were when Christ died for you?

Could you love one who offers you nothing in return? Could you love one who returns your love with hate?

Foster care and adoption fully demonstrates the heart of Jesus to the fatherless. Imagine being betrayed by those who were supposed to love you the most. What a bitter pill it must be, so imagine the surprise, the fear even.

You have nothing, no one, and then all of a sudden, you do.

What an amazing witness to the orphan.

What an amazing witness to your biological children.

As I seek to make disciples of my own children, perhaps nothing has better demonstrated for them the heart of Christ than our family’s ministry to the fatherless. I fail daily. I make mistakes, damage my witness with them, but the fact of adoption perseveres.

My greatest testimony resides in my daughters’ love for the orphan as all are active in caring for the fatherless.

What an amazing witness to the world, a world that has cast aside the powerless and left them at the hands of those who would exploit them.

So definitely do not foster…

…unless you want to change a life.

Drive-by ministry makes me want to vomit. Truly.

I despise ministry which costs men nothing. We must be willing to pay a cost, to sacrifice, to give of ourselves. Caring for the fatherless demands sacrifice. It cannot be done on the cheap.

But if you truly want to change a life, foster. Adopt.

Decide to love a child and then pour the grace, mercy, and love of God into them, as you ought your own children. It will change their lives. Irrevocably. Irreversibly. It has to.

At a minimum, they will be safe from the hands of those who would exploit the helpless and powerless. Maybe they’ve never had that, never had a home or a family. Maybe they’ve never actually been loved.

They may even reject your love, but nothing can change the fact that they will have been loved, they will have seen Christ in your love. No amount of rejection, hate, or affliction can diminish that.

Adoption and foster care will definitely change their lives, but most all, it will change yours.

You will never be the same…and that is a good thing!

Or you could just carry on as you have. It’s probably best that you do. Besides, I’m sure someone else will do it.

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

FOLLOW THE 413!

Foster Parents—When Your Best Isn’t Good Enough

Most days, I love my son greatly. I’ve become increasingly patient, responding to hostility with gentleness. I listen. I try to understand his perspective, taking into account his past affliction while holding him accountable as he needs.

Other days, I want to punch him in the face.

I’m not the perfect foster/adoptive father. Are you?

Parenting is hard work, no doubt. It always has been. Yet, our age presents unique challenges. Culture, media, the internet, the descent of our entire nation into godlessness— all conspire to mold your children into disciples of Satan.

Now, add a healthy dose of trauma.

System kids need perfection. Their trauma demands it.

And I’ve screwed it up, a thousand times.

I’ve been lenient when I should’ve stuck to my guns. I’ve been harsh when I should’ve shown mercy. I’ve lost my temper, been too dogmatic, focused on the less than important, not followed through, demanded more than necessary, expected too little. You name it. I’ve messed it up…and I’m tired.

Perfection is exhausting.

They Look So Normal

My sons look like any other kids.

In fact, they are handsome boys. I know I’m biased. Several of them look like the typical All-American kid— sandy blonde hair, blue eyes, the whole bit. The others sport year-round tans with mops of dark, curly hair—cute or handsome, depending on their age.

The trauma remains hidden…until it’s not.

It has no choice but to manifest itself in their actions.

I will never understand their trauma. I am only now coming to terms with its existence.
Consider, as a child, having your entire life ripped to shreds, repeatedly. A stranger shows up in the middle of the night and takes you…to a stranger’s house. The trauma of forced separation alone is stunning to consider.

They lack certainty and assurance. Who will love them? Who will take care of them? Will they ever see their parents again? Each move sets them back months in development. What happens after the fourth move, the fifth?

Physical or emotional abuse, neglect, or the fallout from drug abuse—all prevalent in system kids—darkens the reality further.

Episodically, all of my sons have been betrayed by those supposed to love them the most. Several suffer from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or prenatal drug exposure. They witnessed violence, against their mothers. They were exposed to rampant drug abuse. They suffer physical, psychological, and emotional conditions.

And I expect them to act just like any other kid?!?

What About You?

It’s not fair.

It’s not fair to the kids. They didn’t ask for this hand. They were dealt it by the sin of another, through no fault of their own.

And now you have to deal with it. It’s not fair to you either.

They need a perfect parent. They need one who is compassionate, patient, loving, kind, understanding, steadfast, and firm. They need a parent who resonates with grace, one who emanates mercy.

They need a parent unlike you, or me for that matter.

In case you haven’t figured this out, you’re not perfect. Nor am I.

My son and I had a confrontation that went poorly. I prayed before speaking with him, but the issue became heated and before I knew it, he stormed out the door to the streets. In that moment, I failed him. He needed more than I had to offer. He needed something I did not give. This wasn’t the first time either.

After he walked, I retreated to the upstairs bathroom and wept bitterly. “Here we go again,” I thought to myself. My failures, my shortcomings, my imperfections as a father, overwhelmed me in that moment.

I needed to be reminded of a few truths.

Academically, I know these truths, but in my desire to be what my sons need, I need to be reminded myself. Perhaps you do as well.

1. They don’t need perfection. They need advocacy.

My wife embodies the advocate.

There is no limit to which she will not go on behalf of our sons. She will move mountains, storm the very gates of hell, on their behalf. She battles red tape, the system, lawyers, and doctors on their behalf.

She took a catatonic, FAS baby and loved and advocated that child to health and vitality, to life. Woe be the person, system, or process that stands in her way.

When they lost their families, my sons lost their advocate. They needed another to champion their cause. They will never know the extent of her advocacy.

Yours won’t either.

They will never see the sleepless nights, the tears, the hours spent on the phone with uncooperative government agencies. They will never know the turmoil in your own life wrought by the turmoil of theirs, the uncertainty you deal with.

They just will never know.

And that’s okay. It has to be.

2. They don’t need perfection. They need love.

Can you love someone who doesn’t love you in return?

Can you love someone who cannot love you in return, who lacks the sheer ability?

They desperately need unconditional love, just like everyone does. Yet, their affliction will oftentimes render them unlovable. They lash out, they rage against the invisible constraints of that which they cannot understand. They misplace hate and anger, maybe direct it towards you, the very one trying to help them.

They run and rebel. They resist overtures and maintain baffling loyalties to those they ought to hate.

It doesn’t make sense. It’s hard. It’s frustrating.

Love them. You’ll respond inappropriately. I promise. You’ll get frustrated yourself. You’ll return anger for anger. You’ll make decisions in response to their aggression and then you’ll second guess yourself, maybe doubt.

“What am I doing? I’m not cut out for this.”

But love them. You must.

3. They don’t need perfection, they need Christ.

How could I father without Him?

As often as I’ve failed, as often as I’ve dropped the ball, I have Christ to rest upon.

Who embodies advocacy but Jesus?

He presently sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty interceding for us, advocating for us. (Romans 8:34, 1 John 2:1) He is our voice, our righteousness. In the great transaction, He imputes His righteousness to us and we our sin to Him and forever, He is our champion.

Who embodies love but Jesus?

Really. Let’s talk about it. Imagine marrying a woman or man knowing that every single day for the rest of your life, they would cheat on you with another. When I was in my most unlovable condition, while I was yet a sinner, a hater of God, Christ died for me. (Romans 5:8) He decided to love me, he decided to set his affections on me.

Your foster children need this, they need Jesus, desperately.

Like anyone, He is their only hope. Yet, their affliction denies them the one who was supposed to bring them to the cross, their parents. Their suffering builds a great callous upon their hearts. The hardness is astounding.

Let your advocacy, let your love, fully demonstrate the love and advocacy of the risen Lord Jesus.

And let Him be your strength. Let Him be your rest. Let Him be your comfort, your strong tower, your rock, your help, your happiness. Let Him empower you.

Let Him free your foster children with the burden of your happiness or satisfaction.

My son needs perfection. I don’t have it, but I do. He needs perfection, so I give Him Christ, as much as I can, as often as I can, imperfectly, but perfect in my imperfections. When I tire, when I fail, I go to Christ. When I sin against my son, I repent. I ask Him to forgive me and then I ask him to forgive me. I lift him in prayer, do my best, and trust in the Savior.

Take heart. This is all you can do.

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

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

THE 413 REPORT

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

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

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

   Janice S. Garey  

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

  Anne Rightler

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

  Scott Doherty

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

 Chad Chasteen

FOLLOW THE 413!

Men, Let Us Quit Holding Back

Modern drive-by ministry makes we want to vomit.

Okay, there. I said it.

The church ought to be challenging people. We ought to be calling ourselves to higher levels of service to accompany a deeper knowledge of the Lord. That’s not what seems to be happening.

Many churches behave as if they exist to afford you, the church attender, with the possibility of contribution with no sacrifice. Pay a bit of money, money that you can afford if we’re honest, and I’ll fly you halfway around the world to hand out water bottles with Bible verses on them to complete strangers that you’ll never see again.

Don’t forget the mandatory pic with some brown people for your social media account to confirm that you’ve been ‘on mission’.

I find no prescription for this in the Bible.

I find a prescription for community, for sending money, for church planting…

…and for adoption…all things that demand of you.

Guarded Affections

Let us dispense with the platitudes.

You keep some of yourself for yourself, as do I.

Whether it be time or resources including money—we reserve some of it for ourselves.

If I give all of my time to another, to anyone or anything, then I won’t have as much time left for myself as I’d like. We all wake each day with a predetermined idea about how we would like to spend our time. Some of you (us) jealously guard our time. We demand “me” time.

And if I gave all my money, I likewise wouldn’t have any left for myself. If I put my money toward anything other than me, then I’d have less to spend on, well, me. I may not be able to afford that new bass boat or Harley-Davidson. I may have to make do with my 2015 F250 and not be able to upgrade to that cherry 2019 Dodge Ram with a supercharged hemi.

If I give of myself too much, I may have nothing left for…me.

I can be generous. I have been generous. I’ll give to another. If a friend of mine has a need, I’ll be there, as long as that need corresponds with a convenient time for me. If a family member needs something, hey, I’ll be there, within reason.

Within reason…this is the universal caveat to much in the way of our generosity.

Don’t actually ask me to sacrifice.

The Kingdom

Isaiah likens the church to a tent.

As he prophesies about the growth of the church, he commands God’s people to stretch out the tent, to lengthen the ropes, to strengthen the stakes, driving them deep. As the tent is stretched, nearly tearing, those in desperate need of shelter can be pulled into the sanctuary of the tent where they find rest and protection. (Isaiah 54:2-3)

This is the kingdom of God.

This is the Church.

This is what happened to me. I was an orphan, Fatherless. Yet unknown to me at the time, the Father had set His affections on me in eternity past and one day nearly 14 years ago, He affirmed those affections and saved me, adopting me as a son of the Lord God on high, pulling me into the tent of His shelter.

I am His. For good. A son.

Now, imagine setting your affections on one in a similar manner, deciding to love them as your own, deciding to adopt, pulling them into the tent of your shelter. Sounds good until you start to notice how crowded it’s getting in that tent. Sure would like to have a bit more space for myself.

In the middle of the tent metaphor, Isaiah inserts this curious phrase, “Do not hold back.” (verse 2) “Spare not,” is another rendering.

Interesting that in the context of pulling orphans from their affliction, Isaiah feels led to exhort men to stop holding back.

He must know something we do not.

Truth

Fact: Adoption is a Gospel issue, not a social issue.

Okay, it is a social issue. Orphans never adopted suffer in life. Period. Homelessness, incarceration, addiction, pregnancy out of wedlock—pick an affliction and they almost all suffer it. Hardly any go to college and these are all real issues.

But the greatest issue is that they don’t know Jesus!

Scripture states it, reality bears it out. The most effective evangelist, by far, is a loving and engaged father. Children tend to inherit the faith of their fathers, or lack thereof. What of those who have no father?

Who will be the one to teach them about the Lord, to bring them up in the way so that when they are older, they will not depart from it? Will you be the one?

Scripture is intensely clear on the mandate for parents to make disciples of their children. What of the children with no parents to make them into disciples? The world and Satan will gladly make disciples of them, thereby relinquishing you of your obligation.

As we, men, worry about being inconvenienced, every year tens of thousands of children nationwide turn 18 and ‘graduate’ the system to a life of hopelessness. As we idly dither about with various trifling pursuits, thousands come of age and assuredly will never know the Lord.

But that Hemi sure is sweet.

More Truth

I cannot adequately describe the need. It is that vast.

I cannot adequately describe the cost. It is that vast.

Nothing will stretch you out more spiritually than bringing a child not your own, particularly an afflicted child from the system, into your home and loving them as your own. I have done nothing harder than foster and adopt my sons.

I have done nothing more valuable.

Preaching, teaching, evangelizing, ministering to my congregation: all take a back seat to the ministry of adoption. And I have my sons! I cannot imagine my life without them. Would I have left them to languish for the sake of my comfort or my standard of living? At one time, the answer would’ve been a resounding, ‘yes!’

Several years ago, I held two-month-old Max in my arms, begging God to take him from me.

I’m too old God. (I was 42)

I can’t do this God.

I don’t want this God!

But he wore me down, God and Max. As I pondered his solemn brown eyes, the still soft voice of the Holy Spirit whispered continually into my ear, “It’s not his fault. It’s not his fault.”

I crumbled like tissue paper.

Three years later, I am privileged to call this little guy my son.

Brothers, let us stop holding back. Your hemi will one day be no more. Your home will one day be a pile of rubbish. All that you lust after will all come to naught. The heart and soul of an orphan though, here is eternity.

Men, let us stop holding back…let us adopt.

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

FOLLOW THE 413!

Men, Let Us Quit Dabbling in Minutiae

Sorry, not sorry, for the gender-specific, non-inclusive language of this work but…
…the future of our nation depends upon our men, our sons.

That is a fact.

As such, we (men) ought to quit dabbling in minutiae.

Not as they seem…

A couple of euro-beatniks illustrated this point.

My friends Ron, Luke, and I were working in Lima, Peru at Heart of Christ Ministries, an amazing ministry that teaches the Gospel to impoverished children in the slums of Caja de Agua. Each evening we’d retreat to a local hostel for some rest.

South America is rife with travelers and backpackers. The Andes Mountains make Peru a favorite and I’ve seen legions of them, Europeans in particular. One evening, we were hanging out in the common room of the hostel when two young travelers entered, a young man and a young woman. They could’ve been typecast for their role, complete with dreadlocks, shabby clothes, and a distinct laid-back vibe.

The man began to strum a guitar as we struck up a conversation. A German, he had toured in a band before deciding to take a year or two and travel. He wanted to ‘find himself’ and have time to discover life, or something to that effect.

I found this fascinating. I could scarcely imagine such freedom. My friend Ron was not as impressed.

“What a waste of time,” he uttered in disgust later.

“This young man needs to get serious about life and quit hiding from reality and responsibility.”

“Pitiful.”

Well, then.

A clear call…

From first to last, God’s voice resonates from Scripture concerning His will for your life.

God desires that you pastor your family.

He desires that you make disciples of your sons. Period.

God’s original command to the couple were to that end. God commanded the man to know his wife in the most biblical sense of the word and to raise up their children as disciples. This was the original revealed plan for God’s people to spread across the earth. (Genesis 1:28)

The Fall soon corrupted every relationship and once the relationship between God and man was severed, men immediately set about their own way. Thus, children are born out of wedlock. Fathers neglect their children or walk away entirely. Instead of abrogating the original plan, the Fall strengthened the urgent need for fathers to engage.

As our sons are born into sin, they desperately need the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the most effective evangelist is a loving and engaged father. Reality bears this out.

Children tend to inherit the faith of their fathers, or lack thereof.

This is a fact.

Scripture speaks to this with the urgency and frequency with which God commands men to make disciples of their sons.

God gives us the great Shema, the great declaration of faith. “Hear O’ Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.” (Deuteronomy 6:4) And then…teach these things diligently to your children. Talk about them all time, while you’re walking and standing or sitting or lying down. Write them on the walls of your home. Whatever it takes, but teach them.

The wisdom literature, the Psalms and the Proverbs, resonate with God’s call for fathers to disciple their sons, to raise them up in the way of the Lord that when they are older, they won’t depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

Paul exhorts us, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesian 6:4) We are commanded, exhorted, encouraged, and equipped to accomplish the primary commission God has given us, to make disciples of our sons. They are desperate for this.

The slow death of our nation is a distinct reflection of our collective failure to make disciples of our sons.

So for God’s sake men, let us teach them!

The minute you die, the world will begin the process of forgetting all about you. Don’t believe me? Who was the most popular or richest man in your town 30 years ago? Twenty? That man is dead and buried. Gone. Forgotten.

The only true legacy we have is our sons.

Our children are not a hindrance or a nuisance. They are not an obstacle to overcome. The Psalmist tells us that our children are like arrows in the hands of warrior. They are our inheritance, our reward. (Psalm 127:3-4)

Embrace it. Embrace them.

A hard truth…

Let’s put first things first.

One must first be a disciple before one can make a disciple.

So as men, let us put the proverbial cookies on the bottom shelf. We’re men, correct? So we can speak candidly and frankly without worrying necessarily about feelings and such.

Are you a disciple of Christ?

Are you a follower of the risen Lord Jesus?

Have you confessed with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believed in your heart that God raised Him from the dead?

Have you been saved?

You were born into sin, a rebel against a holy and righteous God. And He is angry at the sin of men. His wrath abounds and it had to be satisfied. As such, Jesus drank the full cup of the fury of God’s wrath at Calvary, serving as a substitutionary atoning sacrifice for all who would believe.

Do you believe?

Be real. I didn’t ask if you went to church, if you were raised as a Christian, if you did good things or were a good dude. Do you believe? Are you a disciple, seeking to live your life as a Christ-follower?

If not, you have infinitely more pressing matters to concern yourself with.

If so, amen!

Let’s talk about making disciples of your sons.

Our various pursuits…

While our sons die in the streets, we fathers tarry in the trivial.

Ron was talking about experience.

How many men spend their lives pursuing experience? Legions of aimless young men pour themselves into this pursuit, fleeing God’s call as a man. They travel, hike, backpack, seek out adventures, bungee jump naked from a hot air balloon, strapped to a motocross bike and a gnarly set of snow skis.

Experience is their god, adrenaline their drug.

Garbage.

While we waste time with such vain pursuits, the enemy remains busy destroying a new generation.

As we work 80-hour weeks, the enemy is just as busy making his own disciples of our sons. Pop culture, friends, media: we’ve entrusted the disciple-making of our sons to these and others and they are more than willing.

And don’t think the church is going to make disciples of them. Or your wife. That’s your job. Ever wonder why most kids brought up in this manner walk at the first opportunity? It’s because we have failed.

We put our stock in our vocation. Position is our drug.

Accomplishment is our god.

Excrement.

The acquisition of stuff governs us, motivates us. If only I had a bigger home, a better truck, a boat, a jet ski, a whatever. If only I could save up enough money to retire. Ahh, the holy grail of men, fiscal security.

“I work hard so they’ll have a better life.”

Really?

Leisure. College football. The internet. An endless array of dalliances distracts the most vital person in a son’s life, his father.

Two easy benchmarks readily indicate reality, the clock and the Bible. We ought to spend time with both, our sons and the Bible.

It’s the only way. All others lead to only death.

Parting shots…

Don’t hear me say that work is bad, or taking care of your family.

God calls men to work hard, to provide for their families. Don’t hear me say that any of that other stuff is bad, in and of itself. I love the Ohio State Buckeyes as much as the next guy, but what about our sons?

Do they sit famished for discipleship while we neglect them for other pursuits that ultimately have no lasting merit, no eternal significance.

This is the issue.

Confronted with such truth, what then will you do?

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

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

THE 413 REPORT

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

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

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

   Janice S. Garey  

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

  Anne Rightler

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

  Scott Doherty

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

 Chad Chasteen

FOLLOW THE 413!

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