The Evisceration of Casual Christianity

The world is winning its war upon the American church.

What Happened?

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

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

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

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

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

Casual or Reverent

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

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

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

America is beset by a casual view of Jesus.

Irreverence pervades.

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

Scripture paints a slightly different vision of Jesus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus demands reverence.

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

Bold or Timid

A church worshipping this faux Jesus reeks of timidity.

Concession testifies to this.

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

The options are truth or concession.

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

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

This generates weak evangelism.

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

Excrement.

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

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

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

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

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

Closing

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

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

Now, the façade is over, the pretenses demolished.

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

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

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

THE 413 REPORT

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

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

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

   Janice S. Garey  

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

  Anne Rightler

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

  Scott Doherty

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

 Chad Chasteen

Millennial Fathers…Please Forgive Us

Anyone else sick of snowflakes?

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

It’s getting a little old.

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

Interesting that was so easy to write.

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

Are these the things we should be saying?

Perhaps a different message might resonate.

The Call of a Godly Father

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

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

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

Ouch.

The Psalmists says,

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

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

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

It is a serious call.

The Presence of a Godly Father

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayers for a Godly Father

We don’t need better religion.

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

We don’t need more programs.

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

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

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

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

Appeal to a Godly Father

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Young fathers, your call is clear.

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

Truth sometimes comes with a touch of pain.

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

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

THE 413 REPORT

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

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

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

   Janice S. Garey  

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

  Anne Rightler

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

  Scott Doherty

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

 Chad Chasteen

Your Move, NFL Players…Your Move, Christians

The Civil War was about slavery.

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

“Heritage not hate,” is a lie.

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

Systematic racism is a plague in our nation.

Cops brutalize black people, kill black men.

Black lives matter.

Are you angry yet?

Solidarity

You’ve never heard of Peter Norman.

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

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

“I’ll stand with you,” he told them.

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

It’s Not Showfriends

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

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

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

The NFL finally responded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So the ball is firmly back in the players court.

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

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

A View

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

You’ve heard the counterpoints.

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

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

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

Christ’s View

Jesus, as always, confronts.

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

Jesus responds with,

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

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

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

          Love God.

          Love your neighbor.

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

Another View

There is disenfranchisement.

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

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

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

Christ demands my consideration.

Christ requires my compassion.

Christ insists upon my love for them.

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

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

Norman’s View

Peter Norman paid a price for his stand.

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

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

Norman refused and continued his stand.

He died from a heart attack in 2006.

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

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

“I’ll stand with you.”

“I love you,” and ultimately,

“Jesus loves you.”

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

Carlos and Smith served as pallbearers.

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

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

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

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

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

THE 413 REPORT

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

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

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

   Janice S. Garey  

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

  Anne Rightler

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

  Scott Doherty

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

 Chad Chasteen

The Love of My Brothers—a Memorial Day Reflection

Everything is tainted these days.

Everything is corrupt.

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

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

Ramadi

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

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

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

The SEALs found themselves in a fight for their lives.

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

Grenade!

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

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

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

At some point, he had already decided.

He loved his friends more than himself.

Jerusalem

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

Jesus, quoting Deuteronomy, responds,

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

And,

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

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

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

Laghman

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

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

Kids were in the road.

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

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

He died a short time later.

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

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

Providence, Rhode Island

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

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

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

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

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

Yusufiyah

Wake up the night crews.

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

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

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

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

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

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

They ran to the sound of the guns.

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

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

Clarksville

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

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

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

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

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

A Memorial

Set aside your politics.

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

See love, Christ-like love.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Brave Rifles Series 

Brave Rifles: The Problem of a Godless Army

Brave Rifles: The Danger of a Godless Army

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

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

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

Affliction in a Godless Army: The Sins of Generals

Affliction in a Godless Army: An Army of Junkies

Affliction in a Godless Army: Suicide in the Heavy Rain

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

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

THE 413 REPORT

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

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

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

   Janice S. Garey  

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

  Anne Rightler

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

  Scott Doherty

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

 Chad Chasteen

%d bloggers like this: