In Transition: Veteran, It’s Not All About You (me)

Maybe you’ve bled, literally.

For years, maybe longer, you’ve sacrificed.

You’ve toiled countless days under the bright heat, trudged the jagged Konar, patrolled the filthy Baghdad streets, never knowing when death might call. You’ve eaten dirt and eaten like a king, squeezed in a few minutes sleep on the floor of some foul-smelling crapatorium, all while being crushed to death by a thousand pounds of miscellaneous kit under the harsh desert sun.

You’ve sweat and wept and bled and taken a dump under the most impossible of circumstances. You’ve lost. Friends maybe. Any lingering innocence, certainly. A few poignant moments haunt your conscience—an unspoken word, an ill-fated decision, the unmistakable smell of charred flesh.

The blood-soaked sand forever testifies.

You’ve served.

You’ve given.

Now the system is telling you it’s time to receive.

You lay down your arms to a bevy of voices trumpeting the consideration you’ve earned, bestowing honor and praise…and benefit. You merit special handling.

I affirm this. I affirm your earned stripes. I’ll buy you a beer in Valhalla, if there were such a place, but the mindset troubles me. There is a prevailing attitude among many(some) veterans that betrays the attitude that shaped their service from the beginning.

It is an overwhelming desire to be served.

I’ve given, now it’s time to receive, no matter what it may cost another.

A Right Heart

Paul, writing to the church at Corinth, details true, biblical love.

Love is patient and kind. It does not envy or boast, is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way, is not irritable or resentful. (1 Corinthians 13:4-5)

In other words, love, true biblical love, involves sacrifice, putting your own needs and requirements after those of another. Paul, curiously concludes this section with this, one of my favorite passages in all of Scripture:

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. (1 Corinthians 13:11)

In other words, the business of a man is to love…to love in a biblical way, to love sacrificially, to love selflessly. The way of a child is to issue demands, to impose requirements, to place self ahead of others.

Paul exhorts the men of the church to…be men, to act like men, to love like men.

What if we exhorted one another to the same, even after leaving the profession of arms…especially after leaving the profession of arms.

Another Look

Allow me to level the bubble.

Your wife, your children, they’ve sacrificed as you have…possibly more.

My oldest daughter seemed to get it the worst. Every year, despite my best efforts, I’d be deployed on her birthday. Year in and year out, more of the same. She’d cry a bit and then get over it. She’s a good army kid.

The last time was the worst.

It must’ve been the third or fourth year in a row when I found out. Once more I’d be deployed on her birthday. I couldn’t believe it! With dread, I sought her out to break the news. Expecting the usual tears, what I got was infinitely worse, a shrug and a slight, sad smile, “That’s okay, Dad. I understand.”

Ouch!

I hated deployments, every one of them, every time. I longed to be home with my family. I resented the lost moments. I begrudged the dreadful months. I hated every single day away. Every. Single. Day.

Except I didn’t.

You know.

          “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.”

                    “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.”

The higher call gifted me a reason. My brothers delivered me a purpose. Engaging the enemies of righteousness in battle drove my ambition. I trembled at the prospect, enamored of our audacity, descending from the darkness alongside my brothers-in-arms onto the unsuspecting heads of wicked men, standing as sword and shield against the tyranny of oppression.

My wife was left behind. Period.

The Tightest Grip

“Hold the rope.”

This was William Carey’s plea to Andrew Fuller before embarking upon his mission trip to India. As the father of modern missions, Carey’s plea was for support. He would go. Would Fuller and his church support him, prayerfully and tangibly?

She’s held the rope.

While you’ve sucked down the desert sand, she’s cleaned a thousand runny noses, wiped a thousand butts. She sat up all night with sick kids and tear-streaked cheeks knowing she had to rise early the next morning. Exhausted, she put on a smile each morning, not wanting the kids to see her struggle, only to sit with her head in her hands the second they left for the bus stop.

And she wondered about you. Okay, she didn’t wonder. She agonized. 

What were you doing? Were you okay? Were you safe? Who were you with? Why hasn’t she heard from you in awhile?

Did you meet somebody?

She had to hold it together, hold the rope. She had no other option. Maybe she put her life, her hopes, her dreams on hold…for you. Maybe she did it gladly. Maybe she did it begrudgingly, but she did it.

Must she do it once more?

A New Look

Conflict beckons. Bitterness knocks. Families disintegrate.

Many warriors struggle off the battlefield and perhaps it’s because of the message.

We’ve trained them that they have a right to feel disenfranchised. We’ve communicated to them that they have a reason to misbehave, that it’s normal, it’s okay. And most of all, the system trains them to feel entitled, to desire to receive. We’ve taught them to exchange the spirit of love and service for a regard for self. We’ve taught them that they are the center of concern, the focus of affairs.

I’m convinced that many of the problems our veterans face stem from this clash of intersecting and competing attitudes.

Let us reshape the narrative.

Quit emasculating the veteran and empower him. Exhort him to continue to serve, to continue to give, as able. Let us reject the notion that he is automatically damaged and incapable, requiring special consideration.

Consider your family, your wife.

Instead of focusing on your struggle, on your affliction, on your needs, see this as an opportunity to be strong for her, an opportunity to love her unconditionally, to put yourself in the backseat and let her reach for her dreams and goals. Consider this opportunity to serve once more.

What if, upon sheathing your sword, your call was to lift her up, to empower her to become who she always wanted to be? What if, upon laying down your guns, your wife and your children became your mission?

Would you be satisfied with that?

Should we shelf our heart for service just because we’ve removed the uniform?

We must reject being shaped into a caricature of who we once were by forces concerned with political expediency and social leverage.

Noble warrior, with all urgency I plead with you to take your turn at the rope. They deserve it. Indeed, they always have.

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: I wanted a mission…

and for my sins, they gave me one. (CPT Willard, Saigon, 1969)

Clarksville…shoot, I’m still only in Clarksville.

Each time, I think I’m gonna wake up back in the desert. I hardly said a word to my wife…until she told me to take out the trash and play with the kids. When I was there, in the desert, I wanted to be here, but now all I can think about is the desert…and what’s for dinner.

I’ve been here six months now…retired…waiting for a mission, getting softer. Every minute I spend in this house I get weaker. Every minute the muj squats in the desert, he gets stronger.

Each time I look around, the walls move in a little tighter…the kids scream a little louder…my pants get a bit tighter…

First Call

I always felt called to be a soldier, even before I knew Who was calling me.

As a young boy, I played war in the woods, shot bottle rockets at my friends, and led legions of imaginary men into battle. I bayoneted bad guys, crushed my enemies, saw them driven before me, and heard the lamentations of the women…well, in my mind anyway.

Between sports, my play existed in recreating battle scenes and heroic last stands, fighting robots, Cobra, Russians, or whoever I deemed worthy of battle.

As a teenager, while my friends decorated their walls with rock n’ roll pinup girls, I had a single poster bearing an image of Eisenhower, Lee, MacArthur and Grant. I liked pinup girls, don’t get me wrong, but military service resonated with my soul.

Something about combat drew me…the camaraderie, the brotherhood, the shared sacrifice, maybe the purpose or the mission.

At some point, I graduated from sticks and fireworks to rifles and helicopters. At the age of 22, the nation entrusted me with the lives of 20 or so young men. My first platoon! I exalted in the call. Preparing for war was our mission.

All that changed on September 11th as Al Qaeda handed us a mission… “brought it up like room service,” you might say in your deepest, gravelly Martin Sheen voice. As such, I spent the next 17 years leading men in and out of battle and it was glorious. The crucible of combat, of a shared mission realized, drove my purpose, channeled my existence.

Fighting the bad guys. Defending our nation. Confronting evil. Destroying tyranny. It defined me, combat did, gave me a mission, a mission that resonated with vitality. Who was gonna do it, you? So don’t stand there in your ****ty white uniform and tell me what you think you are entitled too!…sorry, I get carried away.

And then it was gone, leaving me one very important query.

Now what?

A Worthy Call

Every man wants to matter.

I was reminded of the fleeting and fragile nature of life this week. A friend of mine from college died unexpectedly, at the age of 48. He left behind a wife and three kids and his death reinforced Paul’s words to the Ephesians, to make the best use of the time because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:16)

Why are the days evil?

The days are evil because time, if left unspent, will spend itself. If not spent deliberately, time will still pass. And tomorrow, you’re going to wake up and be 40 or 50 or 60 or older, wondering where the days have gone. My 45 years, a mere vapor, attest to this reality, our inevitable march to the grave.

Approaching the end of life, all men must reconcile their legacy. They must answer for themselves a very critical question. Did my existence make a difference to anyone? Was it worthwhile?

Did I even matter at all?

Soldiering gave me many things—direction, structure, education, motivation. Most of all, it gave my life meaning, a purpose that mattered.

A Passing Call

I never wanted to be Joe Paterno.

Joe Pa roamed the Penn State sideline for 45 years! setting the record for most wins by a Division 1 coach (409). 45 years! As long as I have been alive, Paterno held the same job, coaching the Penn State Nittany Lions and the longer he coached, the tighter he seemed to cling to the job.

He came to define Penn State football.

They were inseparable. One could simply not imagine Penn State without Paterno. Unfortunately, the opposite became glaringly true. Without Penn State football, who was Joe Pa?

On November 9th, 2011, due to fallout from the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal, Joe Paterno lost the defining aspect of his life. He was fired. He died 74 days later, ostensibly due to lung cancer. Yet, I wonder about despair. The thing that had come to define him, Penn State football, had been torn from his life and the disgrace of the scandal threatened to forever tarnish his legacy.

Without this, who was he?

Who could he possibly be?

A Fleeting Call

At some point, you gotta drink the kool aid.

About the time you are eligible for retirement, the Army dangles a sweet promotion in front of you but you gotta buy in. It is this time that you make a call, either all in or not. The upper echelons of the Army demand a “new level of service,” to quote a former commander of mine who attained the second highest rank in all of the military.

At some point, you become a company man, and buy in lock, stock, and barrel.

And they own you, all of you.

I asked a General Officer I worked for once how much control he had over his existence. “About 5%,” he joked, “and that’s an illusion.”

Not that I would’ve qualified for the upper echelons. I was doing decent enough, but did I want to buy in for another decade? And even if I did, at some point, it would still be taken from me, leaving me still to answer…

Who am I?

A New Call

Men need a purpose.

Men need to do, to conquer, to attain, to move, to engage. I joined the military and found my purpose and took great satisfaction in closing with and destroying the enemy in battle, locked at the elbows with my brothers-in-arms.

In this purpose, I found honor. I took pride.

What could I do without it?

Thankfully, in March 2005, God called me to the true fight, the battleground of souls.

In Christ, we find our ultimate mission, an enduring mission, a mission that spans continents and countries, a purpose that supersedes boundaries and borders, a call that endures across epochs and eras.

The battlefield of the soul surpasses the most contested battles in history. Stalingrad, Antietam, Verdun: mere skirmishes compared to the battle for the eternal destiny of all men. Our enemy is not the flesh and blood. (Ephesians 6:12) He is organized and motivated, showing no quarter to even those claiming neutrality.

It is in serving Christ, loving my wife, discipling my sons, pleading with the lost to be reconciled to God, taking the Gospel to the nations, that some might be saved, it is in this that I find a mission, a purpose that transcends any previous call.

This purpose can never be taken from me. This mission can never diminish or change.

The fields are so white for the harvest, as the workers are so few. Beyond my former call to arms, the newer call, the superior call, it consumes me.

Absent such a call, I’m just not sure what I could do…or who I’d even 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

#MeToo: Please, Keep Your Hands Off My Daughter

What do I tell my daughter?

She’s young, pretty, and just started her favorite job ever…

…and she’s being sexually harassed.

What do I tell her?

He probably doesn’t mean anything by it?

He’s old and that’s just the way things used to be.

The man in question is in his 60’s, certainly a product of a different era. Admittedly, I was not in the workplace 30 to 40 years ago, but from what I understand, that’s just how things used to be, or at least that’s how it has been explained.

Women could just expect occasional unprofessional conduct in the workplace, callous jokes, maybe even a wandering hand. After all, boys will be boys. He doesn’t mean anything by it. Don’t take it too personal.

I recall my offense, 20 years ago, at what I perceived as the neutering of the military. I remember my indignation when the Post Exchange stopped carrying pornography. I recollect the institution of sexual harassment training and having to remove our pinup girls and inappropriate calendars from the crew chief hootch.

How dare the powers that be make us behave like…uh, gentlemen.

In my younger years, in my naiveté, I associated audacity, boldness, and masculinity with crudeness and vulgarity. I associated refinement and restraint with weakness. Amazing. Juvenile. Immature.

Apparently, this man feels the same.

And it’s textbook sexual harassment/hostile work environment. He holds no authority over her so it’s not Quid pro Quo. (See how my training paid off!)

Remarks about her looks. Inappropriate comments. Open ogling. And did I mention he’s in his 60’s and that she’s in her 20’s? She is creeped out and I’m just not sure what to tell her.

Tell your supervisor?

She’s new to the job and new to the vocation, fresh out of school and ready to stake her claim on life. With a twinkle in her eye, she set out on her first day of work, her initial training, only to have this douche crush her spirit over the next few weeks.

She’s resilient. She just wants to work.

She doesn’t want to make a fuss.

She doesn’t want attention.

She doesn’t want to get this dude in trouble.

She wants to work…but this dude won’t let her just work. And he put his hands on her, the classic hands on the shoulders while standing behind her while she’s seated thing, commenting about her looks.

I am literally snapping this dude’s neck in my mind right now and I still don’t know what to tell her.

I’m sorry, but this is something you’re going to have to deal with?

Men excel at the oppression of women. We’re gifted in this regard. I didn’t have to teach my 3-year-old son to be mean to my little granddaughter. He knows how to do it automatically.

It’s been this way since the Fall.

God declared the curse on Eve, for all women, in Genesis 3:16, that her desire shall be for her husband and he will rule over her. From the curse, the woman will seek to usurp the place of the man as the spiritual leader of the home and the church while the man will rule over the woman in an ungodly manner.

Men oppress women in one of two ways, generally speaking.

Many succumb and gladly yield, abdicating their responsibilities in leading the church and the family. These men become flaccid and hollowed-out caricatures, mere shadows of that which God intended for them. Other men lash out and dominate women, ruling over them in a malevolent fashion.

Almost all sexual assault is committed by men.

Almost all domestic violence is committed by men.

Almost all sexual harassment is committed by men.

Yes, I am aware that there are exceptions but I’m speaking collectively. There has never been a maternal society. Women have historically existed at the mercy of men, at the mercy of their weaker bodies and gentler natures—please don’t hear me say that women cannot be as wicked as men, it’s just different, less violent, more subtle. But only in societies based upon a Judeo-Christian ethic do women find protection and equality, stature, regard and even acclaim.

And every man possesses, in his sin nature, the capacity and at some deep level, the desire, to sin against women in some way. It’s there. Scripture affirms it and reality bears it out. Only the common grace of the Lord Jesus restraining sin or the saving grace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, changing hearts and giving men a new nature, confront this wickedness.

Trust Jesus. Trust no man unless that man likewise trusts Jesus.

This man may not know Jesus but he may soon meet Jesus and I still don’t know what to tell my daughter.

Confront him?

This guy forced my daughter to make a decision she should never have to make.

She looked inward, summoned her supervisor, and asked if her clothing were inappropriate, if she needed to change. She didn’t. Her supervisor informed her that her clothing was more than professional.

She subtly let her supervisor know that there was a problem and as if on cue, this man walked up and put his hands on her. The supervisor called an immediate ‘come to Jesus’ meeting but again, she never should’ve had to make this decision.

She never sought her own #MeToo moment…but this man gave it to her.

I’m torn some by these accounts and the #MeToo movement in general. I have a hard time with Hollywood women who brazenly leverage their sexuality for personal gain and then cry #MeToo when men respond inappropriately to their inappropriate behavior. Beyonce or some other celebrity crying #MeToo after dry-humping the air clad in little more than her imagination in front of thousands, including many impressionable young women, does not necessarily stoke empathy.

The pornification of our nation and the Sexual Revolution, instead of freeing women, has only solidly enslaved them to their sexuality. If their empowerment comes from their sexuality, then absent their sexuality, there is no empowerment. When we’ve trained an entire generation in this manner, should we be surprised that a generation of men has a lack of regard for women who lack regard for themselves?

But the unscrupulous pandering of some opportunistic women cannot allow us to discount either the nature or the extent of the problem.

Jesus was the greatest advocate for women that ever existed and only in the shadow of the Gospel do women truly find refuge from the hostility of men. Yet, as we are confined to the secular, the notion that women may require refuge meets only hostility. We are left to merely apply band-aids to the hemorrhage and hope that somehow, it’ll work itself out.

And I still don’t know what to tell my daughter.

I’ll be right there.

As I envision myself striding into the office and solidly planting the flag of my flock into this man’s chest cavity, I am saddened that my daughter had to learn of the evil that men do in this manner, that this man had to take another chip out of the idealism of her youth.

She confronted him, professionally and rightly.

I didn’t have to tell her anything, it turns out.

And the man apologized profusely, claiming not to even realize what he had done. I cannot see into a man’s heart so this may be true but I wonder if he would’ve conducted himself in such a manner in front of his wife.

You’d have to be a fool or insanely ill-informed to not realize, in today’s highly-charged work environment, that putting your hands on anyone, much less a woman, is essentially begging to be disciplined or even fired.

I’m not sure what to tell my daughter about the next time it happens as sadly, there will likely be a next time. Maybe kick him in the junk and scream “Rape!”

Outside of that, I just don’t know.

 

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

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

%d bloggers like this: