We Need More Shame, not Less

“Sports Illustrate Swimsuit Features Obese Model” trumpeted the headline.

As obese model Hunter McGrady explains, “Exposure to diversity is the catalyst that will ignite tolerance, acceptance and understanding.” She goes on to speak of inclusivity while denouncing her haters, those who would shame her for her weight.

She’s not going to take it. Maybe you won’t either.

Can we just quit with the shaming already?

About Shame

Our nation wages a full-out assault on shame.

Merriam-Webster defines shame as, “a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety.” The verb form is “to make (someone) feel ashamed.”

A quick internet search reveals numerous types of shaming. I never knew there were so many. Two that I’d heard of:

Fat-shaming—making people feel poorly about themselves for being overweight.

Slut-shaming—making women (I guess it’s reserved for women, but in this day, what is a woman anyway?) feel bad for how they dress, too revealing, or how they act, too promiscuous.

There’s more. There is LGBT-shaming, casting derision at those merely living out who they were made to be. Mom-shaming—making mothers feel inadequate at how they raise their children or casting aspersions at working mothers or stay-at-home mothers. Other forms of body shaming. Breast-feeding shaming. There is mental-illness shaming. The list goes on.

And everywhere you turn, someone is combatting shame, taking a stand against shame, standing up to those who shame.

          “We won’t be ashamed!” is the unified cry of the victims of shaming.

Resolutely our nation rallies around them. We hold them up as examples of virtue. We laud their courage. We stand by them. We put them on the cover of magazines and proudly declare our shamelessness. We give them awards, think Bruce Jenner.

The problem is…

     …we need more shame, not less.

In our collective lack of a proper biblical worldview, we frame the problem completely wrong. It’s like asking, “what’s two plus two?” and answering, “stereotypes” or “papas fritas”.

When it comes to shame, the world speaks a much different language than God.

Hating Shame

Men hate shame, and why wouldn’t they?

They hate God.

Men love their sin, they revel in it and though they know that God exists—creation testifies loud and clear to His existence and therefore they are without excuse —they reject Him, trading the truth about God for a lie. They worship and serve the created thing (us) rather than the Creator. (Romans 1:18-23)

We want to sin…without consequence, without judgement, without guilt, and ultimately, without shame.

The idea that my actions that I love or the things that bring me pleasure might be shameful bristles my sinful heart, my rebellious spirit. The definition proves useful. I am conscious, I know that what am doing is wrong, and I don’t like it.

Paul, in the same passage, speaks to “men committing shameless acts with men” as a God-given judgment upon the rejection of Him. Shamelessness, a lack of shame for things that we know are wrong, wickedly reflects the elevation of self above God.

Shame undermines our idolatry, and we don’t like it.

Our only possible recourse is to go on the offensive, to declare that which is wrong right and to resolutely and publicly defend it. I hate sinning in the shadows, so I’ll drag it into the light and declare it virtuous.

Needing Shame

Shame is good, necessary. Godly shame that is.

All this chatter merely distracts us from this critical truth—there are certain things of which we ought to be ashamed. Where the action violates a biblical command, reveals a sinful heart, or otherwise goes against the word of God, we ought to be ashamed.

We need shame.

Paul tells us about “godly grief” that “produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret.” (2 Corinthians 7:10) Shame, understanding that my sin grieves God, yields godly grief that drives me to repentance.

Consider David’s view of his sin. “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.” (Psalm 51:4) He sees his sin for exactly what it is, an affront against a holy and righteous God.

The very word “confession” is telling. Confession is not telling God about my sin. He already knows. Confession is agreeing with God about my sin. I see it the same as He does, and I am ashamed, and it grieves me as it grieves Him…and it drive me to repentance…

…and to restoration!

David pleads of God, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation.” (Psalm 51:13) Paul writes about “the things of which you are now ashamed”. (Romans 6:21) Once, they were not ashamed, they sinned without shame, but the Spirit convicted them of their sin, their shame drove them to grief and ultimately, repentance.

Here is joy.

Once forgiven, as God promises to those who confess, I no longer bear the burden of shame and guilt. I can set them aside and run with endurance the race set before me and like Christ, despise the shame as He did, free to love and to serve, in purity. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Absent shame, I’ll never get there.

Be Ashamed

Back to Hunter McGrady.

Let us unpack this contemporary example and see it as God sees it. Should Hunter McGrady be ashamed? The answer is simple. Yes…but not for the reason you may think.

She ought to repent and put on some clothes and reserve the sight of her near-naked body and sultry poses for her future husband. She’s not alone. The Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue itself is a display of unadulterated pseudo-porn and always has been.

But should she be fat-shamed?

She proudly flaunts her obesity, but I don’t know the origin. Does she have a medical condition? Is she genetically predisposed to be heavy-set or does her obesity stem from gluttony and a lack of self-control when it comes to food? If so, then her obesity is but a visible and obvious manifestation of the sin in her heart and yes, she ought to be ashamed for this.

And she ought to repent and resolve to treat her body as God would have her treat it.

Should we slut-shame someone? Again, it depends upon what you mean.

Should women (or men) who flaunt their sexuality through their appearance and how they dress be ashamed? Yes. Modesty is a cherished biblical virtue and when we willingly discard it as so many are wont to do, we ought to feel shame…and we ought to repent and cover ourselves up, reserving the site of our naked or near-naked bodies for our spouses.

What about promiscuity with regards to slut-shaming? Just like with the other issues, the action is a clear violation of God’s commandments, forbidding sexual liaison outside of a marriage—sigh—a marriage between a man and a woman.

So yes, sluts ought to be ashamed…and players too, and porn-consumers, and men ogling Hunter McGrady and her curves in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

Let shame drive us where we need to go.

Be Restored

Perhaps my favorite verse in Scripture, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

Examine your actions. Examine your heart. Allow God through Scripture to do the same and reveal to you the ungodliness in your life. As you feel the weight of conviction of the Holy Spirit, feel shame for that which is shameful…and repent, and be restored!

It’s what God does.

He is in the business of calling people out of the darkness and into His marvelous light.

Yield to that today. Let shame be a vehicle to bring you there.

Now here is something worth celebrating.

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.

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

   Janice S. Garey  

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

  Anne Rightler

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

  Scott Doherty

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

 Chad Chasteen

FOLLOW THE 413!

Stop Kidding Yourself…Nothing is Neutral

The woman simulating masturbation should’ve given it away.

The racist penis rap pushed me over the edge.

“Get up, we’re out,” I hissed at the students.

I had forgotten one important truth— nothing is neutral— and led my motley crew straight into an L-shaped ambush. I prayed that what we had seen and heard over the last half hour had fallen upon deaf ears.

“Nothing they haven’t seen before,” one parent consoled me. It didn’t work.

We desire neutrality.

It’s easier, neutrality.

It’s nicer.

I like what I like and who I like. I really don’t want to change and if we’re completely honest, I don’t intend to change. I bristle at the notion, in fact. The idea of division scares me a bit. The thought of the basic goodness of people comforts me and frees me to engage with whatever I desire and whomever I like in whatever fashion I see fit.

Besides, if there were division, I’d have to choose a side and I really don’t want to choose a side. I like being right in the middle, free to drift to either side at whim.

Neutral.

How’d that work out for Belgium? Or the Netherlands?

No one is neutral.

The Bible knows nothing of fence-sitting.

Like a sword, the word of God penetrates and divides. (Hebrews 4:12) Jesus—that cultural icon of inclusiveness and toleration—shocks us with divisive language.

Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” (Luke 12:51) You’re either for me or against me. (Matthew 12:30)

John and Paul agree, reminding us that we are either of Christ or we are not, and if we are not of Christ, we are of the world and our father is the Devil. We are either slaves of Christ or slaves of sin (Satan). (1 John 5:19, 2 Corinthians 4:4, Ephesians 2:1-3, John 3:19, Romans 6:16)

Consider the implications.

Jesus demands that we choose. You are either a disciple of Christ, or you are not. And if you are not a disciple of Christ, you are an enemy of Christ. Application generates further discomfort.

My daughter’s boyfriend was not a believer, but a nice-enough fellow. He didn’t impede her practice of the faith and even seemed to encourage it. “So that’s good,” she explained to me.

On the surface, yes. Yet, at his core, this young man was not just not a follower of Jesus. He was a follower of Satan, a hater of God, an enemy of God, a child of wrath. Though he portrayed benevolence to the faith, his heart belonged to another.

She and he had different fathers and could never have true fellowship, real intimacy. Now, God may one day call him out of the darkness and into the marvelous light, but until then, they serve different masters.

We talked about it some. She agreed it was an issue. Inevitably, like Judas, his outward actions betrayed his heart and they broke up.

The neutrality of men is a fantasy, a myth.

As such…

Nothing is neutral.

Nothing generated by men is neutral.

Okay, my coffee table is neutral. My truck is neutral. You get the picture.

Nothing that reflects ideas, nothing that reveals the human spirit, nothing that communicates the heart, is neutral. How could they be? Just as no men are neutral, the things they produce that reveal who they are, could likewise never be neutral.

Music is not neutral. Television shows are definitely not neutral. Books, no way. Movies, forget about it. What else do we consume that men produce?

This is the dilemma for the believer.

Things glorify God or they do not glorify God.

My friend Joe, saved as a young man, began his spiral into drug addiction at the behest of Slayer, Metallica, Megadeath. He loved heavy metal music and began attending heavy metal concerts where they do heavy metal things. The fury of the music generated anger in his heart. Someone handed him a joint…and then another…inevitably a bazooka. He plunged into addiction and nearly death, spawned by his love for ungodly music.

In a draft of my second book, No Higher Call: A Biblical Treatise on Adoption, I quoted Clint Eastwood from the movie, “Gran Torino”. It’s Clint Eastwood, so it must be good. One of my editors asked me about it, “You know God hates that movie, right?” Of course he was right, but it’s Clint Eastwood! I prayed about it, and then removed the quote.

No one is neutral and nothing is neutral.

But Shakespeare?

There I was.

“Perfectly fine for high school kids,” the lady assured us before we ordered tickets.

I tutor 9th grade homeschoolers and was planning an end-of-year event, dinner and a show. Our local theater happened to be showing “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare [Unabridged]”. Perfect.

“All 37 plays in 97 minutes!”, the website promised. An “irreverent, fast-paced romp”, it boasted. To be fair, the receptionist did say there was some “innuendo” and it was rated PG-13. Our youngest student was 15, but it was Shakespeare! C’mon.

It was smut. Garbage. Filth…pornography.

At first, I was amused. The actors were indeed talented and funny. Their witty improv captivated. At the first off-color joke, I squirmed a bit. Okay. Another off-color joke, this time a bit more provocative. Hmmm. I looked at the kids. Everyone was still laughing so…

The female jumped on stage and began twerking. If you ask, “what is twerking?”, you’re dating yourself, but I’ll humor you. She put her rear-end to the audience and bounced it up and down in a highly sexual and provocative fashion. I squirmed visibly and thought, “we need to leave,” but how? We were in a small theater with only one way out, the other side. We’d have to walk in front of everyone.

The woman simulated ejaculation. They made wordplay about sodomy. They began rapping about Othello, as a black man, and the size of his penis. Again, all very talented, all very funny…and all highly vulgar.

We stood up and paraded out, twenty high school kids and handful of adults, a sizeable chunk of the audience.

“I thought it was good enough to stay,” one actor chided us as we walked.

On the sidewalk, I apologized profusely to the students and the parents. They all understood and we laughed and discussed it for awhile and then went and got some ice cream and talked about it some more.

I felt betrayed, numb. I’d walked into a Satanic ambush with my guard down and been hammered.

I’d neglected something I know to be true.

Nothing is neutral.

Be vigilant.

In hindsight, it’s so obvious.

A friend informed me that the local theater was run by people who were no friends of God who, in fact, were openly antagonistic. Theater itself is awash in hypersexuality, homosexuality, and rampant worldliness. Theater companies pursue edginess and push boundaries.

Prudence has no primacy.

There is much going on here.

From the second we set our feet upon the floor each morning, we are embroiled in a vicious, cutthroat spiritual battle, a battle for the hearts and souls of men. The battle rages whether you fight it or not. You may not be Belgium.

And we have an enemy, Satan, who prowls like a roaring lion, seeking anyone he may devour. He is crafty and wicked and shows no quarter to the sons of God. And He is a liar.

          “It’s no big deal.”

          “Jesus hung out with sinners.”  

      “It doesn’t really matter.”

Conversely, God calls us to fill our minds and hearts with that which is true, honorable, just, and pure, that which is lovely and commendable. (Philippians 4:8) Dwell upon these things. Meditate upon these things and discern.

You cannot partake of the cup of the demonic and the cup of the Lord at the same time. This is the promise of our Lord.

Nothing is neutral.

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

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

THE 413 REPORT

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

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

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

   Janice S. Garey  

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

  Anne Rightler

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

  Scott Doherty

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

 Chad Chasteen

FOLLOW THE 413!

My Christian Friends, I Know I’m a Good Dude…Please, Open Your Mouth

I am a “good” dude.

You know me.

We’ve known each other for years.

We went to college together. We roomed together. We served in the military together. I introduced you to your wife, was the best man in your wedding. We were stick buddies in flight school. We were ranger buddies in ranger school. We rode motorcycles together.

Remember those days in Panama City? Well, some of them anyway.

We went to war together. I fondly recall marching lockstep into battle with you on my right and you on my left. We bled together. Remember our lost brothers. Remember the bright desert heat, the blazing desert sun, the brotherhood, the camaraderie. I’d have taken a bullet for you, no question.

I am your father. I am your brother. I am your next door neighbor. I am your commanding officer. I am your first sergeant, your supervisor. I am your best friend from high school. I am your old boyfriend who told you whatever I needed to get from you whatever I wanted.

I am a “good” dude.

You know me.

I’m dying.

It shouldn’t be this way.

I’m a good dude, right?

You and others would describe me as a good “f’in” dude. “Smith is good people.” My resume speaks for itself.

I come from a wonderful and loving family. No dysfunction here, at least obvious dysfunction. No divorce. No abuse. No addiction. Only affirmation and affection.

I am a high-performer, a self-starter, a mover and a shaker. I graduated near the top of my class from college and have steadily risen to the top of my field. I got promoted below-the-zone and have excelled in leading men in combat. I am unflappable in battle. Nothing seems to bother me. When everything goes to heck in a handbasket, when others around me seem to crumble and fall, I always keep my cool.

I am physically fit, an avid cross-fitter, cyclist, marathoner, triathlete. I ride a chopped up Harley-Davidson. I drive an awesome car. I have an awesome house.

I am a family man. I have a beautiful wife and family. I love them. They love me. I work hard to provide for them. I sacrifice so that they can have a better life. I sometimes work 70, 80 hours a week so they may have what I never did. I take my family to Disney World each year.

I exude confidence, competence, and charisma. I am engaging. Chicks dig me. Men want to be like me. There seems to be nothing I cannot do or accomplish. I am generous and caring and I love you, my friend, my brother, my son, my sister, my daughter.

I think the same as you, look the same as you. I am what you aspire to be. I’ve got my stuff together. Man, do I have it together.

I have everything.

I have everything and more.

Yet, I have nothing.

I’m dying.

It really shouldn’t be this way. I have so much, but sometimes it all feels like it’s slipping away. I cannot explain it.

I own a jet ski, but I have no peace.

My son has a college scholarship, but he hates me.

I am an upstanding member of my community and haven’t been intimate with my wife in months.

Something is wrong and I just cannot grasp it. No matter how hard I try, how much I pursue, how well I do, how much I gain, how high I rise, I ultimately lack joy. Even after I’ve arrived. I’ve obtained what I sought after and found it to be lacking, forcing me to reinvent myself. Maybe a new car…or a new spouse will satisfy my longings.

My emptiness consumes me.

I cannot see.

You look just like me.

We both pay our taxes. We both love our families. You’ve never murdered anyone nor have I. We are both morally upstanding citizens, so why do I feel like I do?

I know you go to church and sometimes I sense you want to talk to me about it and you’ll probably tell me that religion is good and that I should become religious and that going to church will make me happy.

Yes, I know you’ve invited me a couple of times, but I just don’t see it. I cannot see how going to church will change anything.

And I like to sleep in on Sundays and watch football in the afternoon. It’s the only day I get off, sometimes, and I don’t want that taken from me too. And I like to play golf and Sunday’s are the only days I get to do that.

Besides, you “Christians” are just so hypocritical. The last thing I need is some wimpy dude in a robe telling me how to act and all the things I’m doing wrong, all while he’s asking for my money. Okay, I get it…God needs my money. Really? And I’m probably better than him anyway. Who is he to tell me what I should do?

And what about God anyway? If God is so good, then why is there so much suffering in the world? If God is so good, then why did my mother die from cancer? Why was my father killed in a car accident? What about bone cancer in children?

Kind of seems like a crutch to me, this whole religion thing…

…which is why it’s kind of surprising that you’re into all of that. I mean, I know you, or at least thought I did. You’re my brother, my best friend.

Do you know something I don’t?

I’m tired of sports and weather.

If you have something to say, just say it. Please.

I’m dying.

I get it.

I love football. You know I do. I love the Buckeyes. Even without Urban Meyer or Dwayne Haskins, we could win the Natty. Maybe I’ll get up for a game this year, but is there more?

Yes, our camping trip got rained out this weekend, but Saturday looks nice. I haven’t cut the grass yet this year, but need to. I’ll get the lawnmower out of the shed and get it started, but is there more?

No, I didn’t get the promotion at work and my boss is still a complete jerk. I’m not sure I want to work here that much longer and I don’t think I’ll be able to retire early like I had wanted, but is there more?

Do you love me?

Do you love me enough?

You went on some sort of a mission trip, to an entirely different country, to talk to strangers. What about me?

I am your father, your sister, your brother, your friend. Do you love me enough to risk mild discomfort? Do you love me enough to, as you say, step out in faith? I’m waiting to hear from you. I need to hear from you. Do you know something I don’t?

Do you know about hope?

and peace?

and joy?

Can we have a conversation that matters? I’m getting desperate…maybe I don’t have that much time.

 

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

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

THE 413 REPORT

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

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

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

   Janice S. Garey  

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

  Anne Rightler

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

  Scott Doherty

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

 Chad Chasteen

FOLLOW THE 413!

Die Like This

I’d like to die a good death.

You?

I’ve thought some about death over the years, how I would go.

At some point, the self-centered immortality of youth gives way to the shocking realization of the imminence of death.

As we live, friends die, parents die, brothers and sisters, classmates, maybe even, God forbid, our own children, each reminding us of the inevitability of our own death. Each life, each death, drives home certain truths regarding life and death.

Visualize your funeral, not as some kind of morbid exercise, but as a testimony to life intended. A man’s funeral is a good indicator of a man’s life, how he lived.

The manner in which a man dies is just as instructive.

I had a chance to watch a man die a good death.

A Man and a Promise

Harold Witmer knew the promise.

The Psalmist tells us, “This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.” (Psalm 119:50).

God’s promise, the promise of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, written before the hands of time, etched onto the foundations of reality, the promise is a simple promise, eternally profound in its implications.

The Bible tells the promise in the well known verse, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

And, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9) As God grants me repentance and belief, I am saved. Period.

This is the promise.

The promise is eternal. It cannot be changed, shaken, or moved. It will never perish, diminish, or die. God will keep His promise, of this we have such a blessed assurance.
Harold Witmer knew this promise. He lived it.

For decades, after the Army brought him to Clarksville, Harold Witmer labored on behalf of the promise. He helped found The Community Church which he pastored for decades. He started The Christian Servicemen’s Center and The Youth Challenge for Boys and Girls.

He poured himself into Clarksville, his family, and the service of the Kingdom.

He did this because of the promise and nowhere did his knowledge of the promise become more apparent…than on his walk to the grave.

Absent the Promise

Consider death, that condition which men fear most.

Consider the lengths to which men go to prolong vitality and put off death. There exists a series of cottage industries centered around this very thing.

The health and wellness industry. If I eat right (Paleolithic, Ketogenic, Macros, Whole Thirty), if I exercise well (crossfit, running, lifting, yoga, etc.), I may just preserve my youth. The beauty industry sells oils and lotions and creams that I can slather on my face to maintain the illusion of youth.

The plastic surgery industry. With a nip and a tuck, a stretch and a pull, I can further prolong my appearance of youth. No one ever said, “You know doc, I’d like to look a little older and wiser. Can you help me with that? Maybe some crow’s feet?”

Our nation worships youth and collectively detests aging.

It’s a losing battle.

Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.” (Psalm 144:4)

Each day, we draw one step closer to the grave. It doesn’t matter how hard we try, how well we take care of our bodies—and we ought to take care of our bodies—they will one day fail, maybe sooner than you think.

And perhaps most troubling, the second we are under the dirt, the world will begin the process of forgetting all about us. Don’t believe me? Who was the most popular man in town thirty years ago? You don’t know. That man is dead and buried, long since forgotten…as you also shall be.

But death, physical death, is a lesser concern. Paul writes that, “the sting of death is sin.” (1 Corinthians 15:56) Upon my death, I’ll stand before the Lord and He’ll see one of two things. If I know the promise, having been forgiven of my sin, He’ll gaze upon me and see the righteousness of Christ, as He welcomes me to eternity.

If I don’t know the promise, I will stand under judgement and be found woefully lacking. The second death, eternity in hell apart from God, will be my deserving fate.

And as men, absent the promise, draw close to the grave, draw ever closer to standing before a God they do not know, they tremble in fear, quiver in anger, even rage in self-righteousness. We see a physical manifestation of Hebrews 10:31,

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Proclaiming the Promise

As much as Harold Witmer spent his life proclaiming the promise, his death perhaps, proclaimed it louder.

I had the privilege of spending a few minutes with Harold’s beloved wife Faye and his sons the evening of his death. They relayed to me that as Harold approached death, he never faltered in his call, he never wavered in his mission. Nurses, doctors, and other caregivers heard the promise.

Finally, the Lord spoke to him saying, “You’ve done enough. It’s time.” After discussion with Faye, he entered hospice and returned home to die.

Here he died a good death.

Faye made his favorite meal for him. Family and friends flocked. They laughed and talked, cried. He summoned his family members, laid hands on them, blessed them. He slept more. Death drew near until on he gently closed his eyes, drew his final breath…and then opened them in eternity, to the reality of the promise.

Well done good and faithful servant.

It didn’t stop.

From the grave, Harold Witmer proclaimed the promise, his funeral an extended Gospel presentation. Hundreds of mourners joined together to celebrate his life, his death, and the promise. We sang Great is Thy Faithfulness. The Gospel was preached. We sang and cried, sang some more, laughed, rejoiced, and revelled in the knowledge of life lived well, a good death.

If you could say a funeral was awesome, it was an awesome funeral.

They closed with an invitation.

Comfort from the Promise

Many die poorly.

My wife works in the death industry. She’s a nurse in a nursing home where her patients die regularly, often lonely, sad, and painful deaths, tragic. Many of them die not knowing the promise.

One little old man—“her man”, they were all her men—declined steadily. He was a hateful, bitter, and angry man, abusive toward everyone…except my wife. She lavished love upon him in the face of his hatred and won him over. He hated God. Whenever the local pastor showed up for a service, he’d rail against all that “garbage”.

As he declined, he became more bitter, more hateful. He was physically aggressive, biting and spitting, scratching and clawing. The imminence of standing before a God that he knew existed, but that he didn’t know, was becoming a reality, and he raged against it.

Eventually, he became unresponsive, except to Ami. On his last night, she checked on him repeatedly and repeatedly assured him of her presence and her love for him.

“Sonny, you know I’m here and that I love you?”

“Yes,” he could barely whisper.

Finally, as she sat with him, she kissed him on the forehead, put her mouth to his ear and told him of the promise. “You know I love you, Sonny,”

“Yes.”

“Do you know that Jesus loves you, and that He died on the cross for your sins?”

“Yes,” barely audible, his final word.

The last words he heard, before Ami kissed him on the forehead and told him it was okay to go, were the beautiful and sweetest words in the world, the words of the promise. His final word was an affirmation of this. This side of eternity we’ll never know, but can you imagine my wife’s joy one day, when she opens her eyes in heaven to see…“her” little man waiting on her.

Glory in the Promise

On that night that Harold Witmer died, I sat in his kitchen and listened to Faye talk on the phone. She was describing his physical decline to someone when she made a statement that is forever seared onto my soul.

“We’re just praying that God is glorified in all of this.”

“We’re” praying. She and Harold, the man soon to die, were praying together that his death would glorify God. You see, she knew the promise.

She knew that death had no victory. Death had no sting, for Harold or for her, for that matter. Though she mourned the imminent separation, she celebrated the risen Savior.

I’d like to die like this.

I’d like to live like this.

You?

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

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

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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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