Metallica, Rage, and the Holy Spirit

I love hymns. I love singing Scripture.

I love gangster (gangsta?) rap.

Garage Days, revisited

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

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

I’ve always associated music with lifting. Always.

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

I became Rocky Balboa.

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

At some point, I discovered Metallica.

And Public Enemy.

And NWA.

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


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

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

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


Seek & Destroy

Then came the Animal House.

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

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

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

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

And I loved it.

Creeping Death

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

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

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

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

I became Zack de la Rocha.

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


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

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


Trapped Under Ice

This time, something was different.

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

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

“You know God hates that movie, right?”

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

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

How could I listen to things that God hates?

Disposable Heroes

Music is powerful, insanely powerful.

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

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

It’s doing something.

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

And it started with the allure of angry music.

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

Blackened

This year I made a re-discovery.

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

I became Rocky Balboa yet again.

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

This was it! The “Rocky” channel.

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

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

Not gonna happen.

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

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

The Shortest Straw

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

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

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

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

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

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

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

THE 413 REPORT

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

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

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

   Janice S. Garey  

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

  Anne Rightler

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

  Scott Doherty

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

 Chad Chasteen

Cowardice and the Hijacking of Church Language

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

Would we even surrender our language?

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

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

Does anyone plant churches anymore?

It’s not the Name.

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

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

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

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

The Church are the Called-Out Ones

Jesus, talking to Peter, declares,

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

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

We ought to esteem the church.

We ought to hold the church in the highest regard.

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

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

The Bible calls us to be the church.

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

Why?

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

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

God forbid we make the unbeliever feel unwelcome.

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

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

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

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

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

I’ve heard ‘pastors’ say…

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

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

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

But the church IS the body of believers.

This is the Church.

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

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

I acknowledge that the church has hurt people.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is the church.

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

Motives revisited

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

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

THE 413 REPORT

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

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

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

   Janice S. Garey  

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

  Anne Rightler

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

  Scott Doherty

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

 Chad Chasteen

In Transition: Time and the Transitioning Warrior

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

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

I could practically hear myself getting even more jacked!

Could I still drink Rip-It as a civilian?

Approaching Retirement

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

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

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

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

“How hard can it be?”

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

How I See Time

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

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

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

Gotta protect the white space.

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

My Reality

Some men retire and continue to dabble.

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

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

I don’t even have a 9 to 5.

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

So what could I do but…impose structure?

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

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

I put myself on a PT schedule.

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

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

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

Seems reasonable enough.

Time Management

I’ll proclaim it.

I’m an expert at time management.

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

Routine became the engine of time management.

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

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

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

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

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

I at the exact same breakfast for years.

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

My wife thinks I’m a bit of a psycho.

Christ and Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

How did Jesus see time?

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

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

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

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

True Effectiveness

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

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

Is there a better way to honor God in this?

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

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

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

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

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

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

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

THE 413 REPORT

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

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

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

   Janice S. Garey  

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

  Anne Rightler

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

  Scott Doherty

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

 Chad Chasteen

Trust Not in Man…Even Urban Meyer

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

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

He is a legendary man.

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

I’m reminded of the Psalms:

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

What if?

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

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

I don’t recall hearing anything like this.

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

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

Does anyone have a conscience anymore?

My Beloved Buckeyes

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

I love the Ohio State Buckeyes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will people fall on their swords for Urban?

The Crime

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

The other coaches’ wives knew. Shelley Meyer knew.

This begs a few obvious questions.

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

Is this really that hard?

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

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

Is this really that hard?

Principle Matters

Let’s stop pretending that principles matter.

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

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

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

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

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

They won games, and that’s what counts.

Will my beloved Buckeyes put themselves in this category?

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

Fallibility

Who cares about the National Championships?

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

This is bigger than all of that.

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

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

Urban Meyer is a man, a fallible man.

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

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

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

Now, Ohio state has a chance to act.

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

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

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

O-H!

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

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

THE 413 REPORT

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

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

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

   Janice S. Garey  

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

  Anne Rightler

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

  Scott Doherty

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

 Chad Chasteen

The Frustration of My Foster Sons

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

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

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

The feeling was at least mutual.

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

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

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

The Issue Realized

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Frustration

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

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

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

But what about the system kid?

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

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

Therein lies the rub.

More Frustration

A young man ought to get busy with life.

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

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

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

I’m not sure which he chose.

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

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

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

Failure

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

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

Except that it wasn’t.

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

And still I failed!

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

Way to go Smith!

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

Even More Frustration

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

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

Is there a spectrum between justice and mercy?

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

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

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

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

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

All I know is I’m tired.

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

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

He is able.

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

My frustration matches theirs.

 

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

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

THE 413 REPORT

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

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

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

   Janice S. Garey  

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

  Anne Rightler

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

  Scott Doherty

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

 Chad Chasteen

My Wife Has the Gift of Healing…Change my Mind


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


God is described by the Psalmist:

     Father of the fatherless and protector of widows

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

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

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

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

Injustice

System kids have suffered a great injustice.

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

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

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

The injustice is not without grave consequence.

Affliction Generalized

Where to even start?

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

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

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

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

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

The effects are not something you can just wish away.

Affliction Personalized

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

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

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

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

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome scourges another two.

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

Developmental delays abound, and attachment disorders.

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

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

Into this fray charged my wife.

Justice Realized

My wife is a warrior.

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

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

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

Come back and see us in three months…

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

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

My wife is a fire-breather.

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

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

My wife is a fierce combatant.

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

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

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

The Fruits of Justice

In her advocacy, we see healing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…which manifests itself in her advocacy for them.

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

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

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

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

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

THE 413 REPORT

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

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

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

   Janice S. Garey  

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

  Anne Rightler

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

  Scott Doherty

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

 Chad Chasteen

Godless Army, Thoughtless Army—the Death of Mission Command

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

German Trust

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trust, the Foundation of Mission Orders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

American Trust

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

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

The SOF community executes mission command routinely and effectively.

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

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

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

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

          “Roger.

Subordinate leaders executing Mission Command destroyed ISIS in northern Iraq.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          “You guys figure it out.”

          “Is there a packing list?”

          “Bring what you need.”

          “Where should we set up camp at?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brave Rifles: The Theology of War

Brave Rifles: The Problem of a Godless Army

Brave Rifles: The Danger of a Godless Army

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

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

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

Affliction in a Godless Army: The Sins of Generals

Affliction in a Godless Army: An Army of Junkies

Affliction in a Godless Army: Suicide in the Heavy Rain

Godless Army—Thoughtless Army

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

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

THE 413 REPORT

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

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

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

   Janice S. Garey  

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

  Anne Rightler

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

  Scott Doherty

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

 Chad Chasteen

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

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