Dear Brothers-in-Christ, Please Stop Yelling at the Gay People

Maybe we ought to quit yelling at the gay people.

Pride on Parade

I saw a video of a man at a gay pride rally in Texas. The man wielded a bullhorn, aggressively reprimanding the crowd.

      “This is sin…turn from it!”

      “You are under the judgement of God!”

     “You will burn in hell!”

     “This is perversion, turn from this perversion…turn to Jesus.”

Only one young woman chose to engage, questioning the reliability of the Bible to which the man responded even more aggressively, citing the logical fallacies of her counterclaims but not affording her an opportunity to respond. Every time she began to compose a statement, he cut her off and the fact that he was amplified made it no contest. She fled in frustration, his chastisement following her down the street.

Two observations. The majority of the people this man yelled at were young women and nearly all of them ducked their heads and moved as far away from him as quickly as possible to get back to their parade. Second, this video was edited, overdubbed with dramatic music, and widely distributed on social media.

Now, I’m quite sure this man saw himself as the defender of the faith, valiantly confronting the horde of evil homosexuals.

I thought he acted kind of like a douche.

I wondered if he would have taken any of these people to lunch.

LGBTQ Clarification

Okay, allow me to clarify. Homosexuality is a sin. Only a severely dishonest exegesis of Scripture will yield any other conclusion. It is a sexual sin, viewed identically by God as say…pornography use. Ouch.

Jesus’ words to the crowd determined to stone the young woman caught in adultery resonate. “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7)

I wonder if this man would invade the homes of the majority of Christian men who indulge in pornography and yell at them from his bullhorn. Imagine the otherwise moral Christian man sitting down in the dark at his computer for a dabble with lust when…

     “This is sin…turn from it!”

     “This is perversion! You are under the judgment of God!”

I suspect not. Statistically speaking, though I do not know this man and it’s quite possible he is in the vast minority of men who do not view pornography, it’s likely he would have to direct his bullhorn back at himself. Why doesn’t this man feel led to go to the local Gold’s gym and castigate the men for subtly ogling the scantily clad women, lusting in their hearts, the exact same thing as adultery according to our Lord?

Sexual sin is sexual sin, no?

What is the thought process that motivates a man to single out a particular group of revelers for condemnation while neglecting other much larger groups?

The Tone of Jesus

Much defense is made of methods in citing Jesus.

Jesus flipped over the tables in the Temple and whipped people with a cord—I wish I could’ve been there! Jesus called people names, confronting them as fools, blind guides, hypocrites, vipers, whitewashed tombs, sons of the devil.

Trudat.

Yet, consider for whom He reserved His public rebuke…the religious, the Pharisee, the self-righteous religious authorities. Jesus spoke with the woman at the well as a person. (John 4) Jesus defended the woman caught in adultery. (John 8) He invited Himself to dinner with Zacchaeus the tax collector. (Luke 19)

Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:11)

Jesus saw the people as they were, as sheep without a shepherd. He had compassion on them. (Matthew 9:36)

He wept because of their sin and rebellion. (John 11:35)

Instead of publicly berating these homosexuals for their sin, a more appropriate stance would be to mourn their betrayal and imminent judgement, to reach out to them, to love them, to tell them of another way…out of love.

Would this man have invited these people to his home for a meal?

A Common Thing

I’ve seen this before.

Years ago, B.C. (before Christ okay!) I spent a fair amount of time on Bourbon Street in New Orlean engaged in all manner of debauchery. I distinctly recall the wackos on the street corner with their signs, warning me of impending doom and judgement I suspect. Yet, as my brain was clouded by different things at the time, I truly didn’t hear a word they said.

Several years ago, a group of Christians led by ‘pastor’ Terry Jones appeared at a series of Muslim festivals in Dearborn, Michigan, a city with a sizeable Muslim population. This is the same Terry Jones who attained global notoriety by putting a Koran on trial and then burning it.

Muslims predictably rioted. People died.

To what end?

Needless to say, the protesters at the Muslim festivals were not greeted well…and why would they be? The Muslims, angered by their presence and their provocation, responded unkindly, pelting them with profanity, spit, and eventually stones and garbage.

From the aspect of civics, this is a horrid encounter, that men cannot even walk down the street in a city in America with religious signs, and not be harassed.

Yet, civics takes a back seat to the Gospel.

How should we expect Muslims to act? Or gay people? Or the lost in general?

Consider that many/most Muslims are raised into the religion, that it dominates every aspect of their existence. They are given no option to NOT be Muslim, it becomes their identity. Islam is a system that enslaves billions across the world, a perfect system of bondage that leverages the sin nature of men and declares it pious. It is powerful in the strength of its binding.

Can we not have compassion on those thus imprisoned?

Look How Righteous

At some point, it’s about attention.

Jesus berates the hypocrites who pray on the street corners, that they may be seen by others. (Matthew 6:5)

He tells the parable of the Pharisee who prays, telling God about all of the righteous things he does saying, “thank you that I am not like other men.” (Luke 18:11) Meanwhile, the lowly tax collector’s prays, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (v. 13)

The video produced of the man at the gay pride rally was obviously intended to produce an effect, to paint a certain picture, to portray him in a certain light. Why the need to distribute it so widely?

Stratification of Sin

The natural tendency amongst men is to compare sin, levels of wickedness.

The fact that this man chose to single out these young women at the homosexual rally is significant.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Why is he not at the local Golden Corral lambasting the gluttonous? Can you imagine him confronting the overweight man at the buffet?

     “Sinner! Glutton!”

     “Do you really need two pieces of fried chicken?”

     “Didn’t you just have meatloaf?”

     “You are under the judgement of God!”

Why is he not at the local sports arena admonitioning the people for their idolatry?

     “Sinner!”

     “Take off that jersey!”

     “Tom Brady is just a man; worship only God!”

     “You are under the judgement of God!”

Not only that, but he made a monster presumption, that none of these young ladies were actually Christians. Is that valid?

What if there was a Christian in the crowd and perhaps she was under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, but had not yet responded? God sanctifies each of us in a different way, at different times. What if they were newly saved, and had not yet felt the weight of conviction for their homosexual sin?

Often, following salvation, the newly-minted believer is quick to shed surface-level sin. The deeper the sin is ingrained in the flesh, buried under layers of scar tissue and time, the longer it seems to take for it to come to the surface and be dealt with.

I am 12 years into my Christian walk and am just now, in the last year, addressing sin that goes back to my youth.

What if it is as this, with some of these young women?

Should we still shout condemnation at them?

A Final Admonition

Those who publicly berate those reveling in sin frequently turn to the words of Paul for ammunition. “Neither the sexually immoral, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10) Three points on this:

     1. They leave out a whole slew of other sins listed by Paul to include idolaters, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, and swindlers. Again, why are these men not seeking out these sinners to publicly “call out”.

2. This letter is for the church. Paul is writing this letter to the church at Corinth admonitioning them for tolerating sexual sin…in the church! These are not words to confront the unregenerate.

3. They conveniently leave off the very next line, “And such were some of you.” (v. 11)

Such were some of them. Such were some of you. Such was I, but I was washed, sanctified, justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ by the Spirit of God.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the most offensive thing there has ever been. It certainly doesn’t need me wielding it in an offensive manner.

Maybe we should stop yelling at the gay people.

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

Don’t Put Me in Coach—the Plea of the American Christian

I hated the nursery. For real.

My agreeing to work the nursery reflected sheer mechanical, religious duty. I had kids in the nursery so I felt it was my duty, and as the nursery coordinator assured me, “it should be less than once a month.” Okay.

Three weeks later, arriving at church, I received the expected, but dreaded news. My turn. Nursery duty. I got through it, but it was painful. I don’t even really like kids but…less than once a month. I clung to this assurance.

Next week though, arriving at the church, I received a shock.

“We need you in the nursery again.”

“Seriously?!”

I couldn’t believe it. I was irate, angry even. One hundred feet away, nearly 500 people prepared for the worship service. I nearly scooped up an armload of kids and stormed to the stage to make a scene.

“Hey! All you people with kids!”

I entertained this fantasy for less than a moment—I am that audacious only in my mind—then tucked my tail and sulked to the nursery. The kids wanted to play Speed Racer. Thank God for goldfish crackers.

This encounter, though humorous, reflects a typical, not-surprising lack of engagement of the American church attender, a plight shared by every fellowship I’ve known.

A Team Affair

Envision a football player that attends an occasional practice…yet still wants to wear the jersey, get invited to the team dinners, be listed in the program, maybe tell chicks he’s on the team. The American Christian presents an equally ludicrous display of membership.

A player, a real team member, attends every practice, plays in the games, thinks about the team and the game. He does off-season conditioning. Maybe he watches film or gets with his teammates for some extra work. He attends a camp or multiple camps to refine his skills. He cares about the game because he loves the game.

He knows the stakes.

He wants to play.

He wants to win.

When they win, he exalts.

When they lose, he cries. He cries because he gave it his all and still came up short.

He celebrates his team and his teammates.

The American Christian couldn’t care less. The American Christian remains content with his spiritual mediocrity, happy to wear the jersey, be listed in the program, be on the team…and let other people play. Whether they win or not is of no concern to him.

Stir Us, Lord

I wish that people would get stirred up a bit.

God stirred the heart of the pagan king Cyrus to send the Jews back to Israel. God stirred the hearts of the people to respond and to follow. (Ezra 1:1,5) God decreed and the people responded.

Sitting in church at least weekly for the last 12 years, I’ve listened to literally hundreds of sermons even as I started delivering them myself. It’s the glaze. The man in the next pew begins to nod, looks at his watch, nods again, jerks awake. Some are more blatant than others, scarcely attempting to conceal their utter boredom at hearing the proclamation of the word of God. My own father has given lessons to my children on how to sleep in church without being noticed. Now, he’s speaking tongue-in-cheek, sort of.

But I want to stand and confront.

          Did you hear what that man just said!?

          There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!

          If you but repent and believe, you can be saved!

         Christ loved you so much in that while you were yet a sinner, He died for you!

          Did you hear what was just said!?

These amazing words of God seem to barely register and even more, illicit no response, compel no action. This requires to some necessary but troubling conclusions.

A Given Grace

The grace of God manifests itself in numerous ways. His common grace toward all men display His mercy, as He makes the sun rise on the evil and the good, the rain fall on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:45) His saving grace presents the pinnacle of His love, that He redeems men for eternity apart from any merit of their own.

A neglected grace is that He gifts men for service. (Romans 12:6)

As He has gifted us, we ought to serve.

Paul likens the Church to a body, the body of Christ. (1 Corinthians 12) And like a body, it has different parts with different functions. And like a body, no part is more important than another part. The hand is as important as the eye, the ear as important as the feet.

General McChrystal unwittingly captured the sentiment well. He used to say, “Never judge your importance to the mission by your proximity to the target.”

So it is with the body of Christ. And like a body, it does not function well, or at all, when one part does not function. Let me strengthen that up a bit.

God calls every single believer to serve. God equips every single believer with spiritual gifts to serve. The Church requires every single believer to serve.

Every. Single. Believer…is gifted to serve,

                                …ought to serve,

                                …needs to serve.

The Reality

A majority of Americans, upward of 80% depending upon the source, profess Christ, claim to be Christians. Yet, on any given Sunday, less than 20% of them attend a church. Very few Christians accomplish even the most basic aspect of Christianity, church attendance. Even fewer serve in any meaningful way.

This sheds some concerning light upon Rainer’s statement, “An inactive church member is an oxymoron.” Biblically speaking, there is no such thing as a church member who does not desire to serve.

Think about it. 

If God has saved you, if He has shed His own Son’s blood on the cross for your sins in a miraculous display of mercy and grace, if He has indwelled your very body with the Holy Spirit of God and gifted you for service, if all this is true, you will serve. You will desire to serve.

There is no way you could not serve.

The fact that so few men do serve demands two possible conclusions.

One, it is possible that the leaders of the church are not diligent in helping the people discover and activate their own gifts. The leaders are consumed by other work, not realizing the necessity, the urgency, of this endeavor.

Or, most of the church is not truly the Church. Our church pews are populated by church attenders, not necessarily redeemed children of God. Perhaps this is why so few will serve, so few will say, “what can I do?”

I have trouble not envisioning the power of the Holy Spirit activated in the lives of engaged believers firmly committed to the work of the Lord. If you are a believer, God has gifted you for a unique work that He ordained before the foundations of the world, further evidence of the majestic grace of our Lord.

He doesn’t need us, yet He redeems and He validates. Let us respond.

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

Quit Telling Me About Your Macros and Pass the Bacon

I love bacon.

I mean, I love it. Pepperoni pizza. Chips and salsa. Biscuits and gravy. French fries. The only way to stop me from consuming is to remove. Sometimes, I will eat so much or so many, that I’ll actually get angry with myself.

Ridiculous. Pitiful. No one should eat that much of anything.

I desire to eat well, whatever that means. I desire that for my family.

Is there a struggle more pronounced than what we eat? Is there a family that does not wrestle this issue? Is there a family unaffected by the things that they eat, that is happy with how they eat?

To tell you the truth, I get sick of hearing about it.

The Struggle

The standard American fare is an abomination.

I grew up in a meat and potatoes family which went right along with our white picket fence and 2.0 children. Most meals included a meat, a potato/starch, and some sort of vegetable, normally corn or green beans or succotash, bread on the side. Plain old white bread, often with butter, margarine actually.

I came through it okay, I guess. My father just turned 85, decent health considering.

Yet, 160 million Americans are classified as obese—nearly 35-40% depending on the source. Five percent of American adults are morbidly obese—a 400 percent increase since 1986. It’s going to get worse. Nearly 30% of boys and girls under age 20 are either obese or overweight, up from 19% in 1980.

It’s killing us.

Heart disease slaughters Americans by the bushel, far and away the leading cause of death for both men and women. It causes 1 in 4 American deaths, a whopping 610,000 a year! For comparison’s sake, heart disease kills each year about the same number that AIDS has killed since 1981.

A major cause of heart disease is lifestyle, primarily a poor diet and inactivity.

More than 100 million Americans wrestle with diabetes, roughly 10 percent of the population. A major cause of type 2 diabetes is lifestyle…primarily a poor diet and inactivity.

Yet I wonder, is the issue really about what we eat?

Which Way

I used to carb up. I know you did to.

In college, I kept a hot plate in my barracks room and would consume mass quantities of pasta. The night before an athletic event, gotta get my carbs in. That’s how it went. Now, it seems that carbohydrates are anathema, or are they?

I had a commander introduce me to the Atkins diet some years ago. We went to get lunch at the chow hall and I watched aghast as he consumed four hamburger patties with a handful of boiled eggs. “All the protein and fat you can eat,” he exclaimed between mouthfuls. I threw up in my mouth a bit.

At some point, Paleo came along. Never mind the fact that there’s really no such thing as cavemen, but we must eat like one I’m told. If it doesn’t grow, don’t eat it. Eat tons of plants and some meat. Sounds simple. Paleo became de rigueur in the Crossfit community, an incestuous relationship that persists to this day.

At some point, someone declared Paleo antiquated. To the best of my knowledge, people do their “Macros” these days. I’m not sure exactly what that means, only that it sounds wack.

I am reminded of a conversation in Iraq some time ago. One of my crew chiefs was lamenting about how he couldn’t seem to lose any weight.

“Maybe don’t eat so much, exercise a bit more,” was my Platoon Sergeant’s sage advice.

The Struggle Typified

My family eats okay, I guess. Again, I don’t really know what that means.

Our diet waivers consistently from Paleo to standard American (meat and potatoes) to outright gluttonous blasphemy. We’ll start with meatless Monday culminating with a nice salad giving my children another reason to rue the day. Tuesday’s became Taco Tuesday. By week’s end we normally devolve to pizza night and whatever we can muster to get the kids off our backs.

Haste and busyness lead to poor food decisions. As the stewards of a large family, my wife and I often find ourselves required to be in several places simultaneously.

“Kids, time for bed.”

“What about dinner?!”

Crap! At that point, I’ll run to the dollar general and grab a handful of $1 frozen sandwiches—ribs, cheeseburgers, chicken patties—or fall back to Ramen noodles. My children laud me as a god when I come bearing such gifts. Let me arrive with a gallon of milk and a cheap bag of cereal and they practically faint with gratitude.

“Father, could we perhaps partake of the cereal tonight…”

We seldom buy much junk food, not out of any altruistic reasons, but purely because my sons make short work of it. A bag of chips will last an hour or two, ice cream, maybe overnight, cookies, forget about it.

And we have night eaters. We are as yet uncertain as to who the nighteater(s) are, whether its an organized effort or the spontaneous work of a lonewolf, but the 17-year-old looms large in our aperture of suspicion.

My wife will attempt to sequester the goods. I’ll frequently happen across a two liter of soda or bags of junk food stashed in the most unlikely of places…seldom-used closets, a desk drawer, the garage behind my tool box.

Still, we’re all pretty healthy considering. The boys play sports. We run around and wrestle and struggle to get them off the couch and away from video games. But, I think we do okay.

The Issue

Is there a sin more ignored than gluttony?

Is there a sin more damaging than gluttony?

Is there a sin less preached about than gluttony?

My wife did home nursing for a while. One of her patients was a morbidly obese woman who could literally walk from her bed to her chair in the living room and not much further. She was a literal prisoner of the flesh. Had she been a believer, which I have no idea if she was, she’d have been unable to obey that most basic of commands, to go. Had she been an unbeliever, she’d have been sequestered from the world, from the church, only having hope that someone would come to her to bring the life-changing message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I heard that she died recently.

The believer’s body is the temple, the resident of the indwelling Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20) We ought to treat it accordingly, as the vehicle which carries us to take the Gospel to the nations. We ought to eat and drink to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Scripture condemns gluttony. (Proverbs 23:21) “it is not good to each much honey.” (Proverbs 25:27) All things are lawful, but all things are not helpful. (1 Corinthians 6:12) At the same time, as all foods are allowable, we should not condemn or pass judgment on those who eat differently from us. (Romans 14) It is what comes from within a man that defiles him. (Mark 7)

As such, what if we just ate with restraint?

Eat a sandwich, a cheeseburger even. Just don’t eat five or one every day for a month. Eat a salad one day. Have some pizza the next. If you feel like eating Paleo or doing your Macro’s, then do it, but quit making food an idol.

Enjoy food. See it for what it is, fuel for the machine and fuel for fellowship.

Now, I think I’ll go make my boys some pancakes with gluten in them…breakfast for dinner rocks!

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 Message…not the Messenger

Preach the Gospel. Die forgotten.

I don’t think Zinzendorf could’ve said it any better. 

It’s the Message…not the messenger.

The Biblical Messenger

A non-believing friend of mine was reading through the Bible, go figure. He came to me astounded at the nature of character of the people that God used, particularly in the Old Testament. He found it preposterous that God would use a philanderer, a polygamist, an adulterer, or a prostitute to accomplish His will.

In my friend’s mind, as a moral man who paid his taxes and didn’t beat his kids, God should use “good” men. What he really meant was that he himself was a “good” man, virtue by comparison.

God’s messengers are but men, fallible men.

Paul’s murder of Christians prior to his conversion is well documented. Even after conversion, we see glimpses of his sin, his flesh. He himself speaks of his own weakness and fear. (1 Corinthians 2) We see his abrasiveness, his arrogance. He not only confronted Peter “to his face” but felt the need to tell the Galatians about it. This would be the equivalent of calling out your pastor “to his face” and then bragging about it on social media.

Peter was fickle, indecisive, falsely humble, then shamed by his denial. God raised him up and empowered him to proclaim boldly, fearlessly, though we still see evidence of his weakness.

Thomas doubted.

Yet God raised each of them up, in their weakness, to deliver His message to an unbelieving world.

It’s the Message, not the messenger.

The Frailty of Men

In the Message delivered of the messenger, we see the contrast between the power of God and the weakness of men.

We see the power of God contrast with the fear of men, with the limited minds of men. Luke writes that the Pharisees were astounded when they saw all that Peter and John did. They knew that they were common and uneducated and because of this, they knew that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13) Peter and John were not religious leaders, not Pharisees, not Sadducees. They were fishermen with no training, no advanced degree…but they had been with Jesus.

It’s the Message, not the messenger.

Other religious leaders measure up the same.

Martin Luther opposed the Catholic church at his own peril and spear-headed the Reformation. He even translated the Bible into German, one of the first versions in a popular vernacular. Yet, Luther maintained distinctly controversial views. His very last sermon, preached days before his death, resonated with anti-Semitism. He also struggled with mental illness: depression and anxiety and was known for being cantankerous and confrontational.

Charles Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers, preached the Gospel to thousands upon thousands over the years. Yet, he himself suffered with depression, anxiety, and obsessive guilt and shame. As he reminds us, “Brother, if any man thinks ill of you, do not be angry with him; for you are worse than he thinks you to be.”

There are no mighty men of God.

There are no great men of God.

There is but a great God, who raises up men to accomplish mighty deeds in His name.

Any supposed mighty man of God would agree with this sentiment wholeheartedly.

It’s the Message, not the messenger.

Validation

We want to validate a message by the messenger.

This validation is legitimate in some instances. I would never take the orthopedic advice of my friend in ministry but if my other friend, an orthopedic surgeon, recommend me for an MRI, I’d listen. His credentials as an orthopedic surgeon validate his message to me.

A lawyer in court seeks to discredit a witness and thus discredit their testimony.

Yet, we seek to apply this validation in other ways, particularly with social issues.

I cannot comment on abortion because I am a man. I’ve never been pregnant nor had an abortion. I cannot comment on racial issues because I am not a minority. My opinions on many topics hold no sway because I possess no advanced degree in the associated field.

This is a subset of the ad hominem logical fallacy.

The problem becomes when we try to validate God’s message by the messenger.

In 2005, I attended my first church in many years as a New Year’s resolution. They were between Pastors, so someone called an elder, whatever that was, gave the message. They had no pastor, no minister, no reverend…no professional. I subsequently discounted everything this man said. I validated the Message by the messenger or in this case, invalidated the Message by the same.

This is the same phenomenon that gives rise to the celebrity pastor.

I attended a friend’s church a few years ago, a mega-church satellite campus. As we sat their listening to the piped in message from the pastor at the main campus, I couldn’t help but wonder that from the several hundred folks sitting there, they couldn’t find a single man to preach the Gospel. They seemed focused on the messenger, not the Message.

It’s the same mindset that leads churches to refuse to hire a preacher without a PhD behind his name. This man could preach the wallpaper off the walls, love God and people, be an effective communicator, an organizer, an inspirer. Yet, without the validation of a doctoral degree, they discount any Message delivered by him. 

But it’s the Message, not the messenger…and thank God for that.

Validation with Purpose

The Message, the word of God, is enduring. It is imperishable. It is unchanging. It is never fading, unstoppable, good, ultimately life-changing. (Psalm 119:89, Matthew 24:35, Hebrews 13:8, Isaiah 40:8, Job 42:2, Acts 12:24)

It requires no validation.

The Resurrected Christ, the Risen King validates the Message for all time. It requires no further authentication.

And because of this, I can rest in my own frailty, my own weakness.

Every single time I stand to deliver the word of God, the Enemy whispers in my ear. “You’re not worthy. You’re not worthy. If these people only knew what you had done, they’d never listen to you. You are covetous, an idolater,” to which I respond…

I was never worthy.

It’s the Message…not the messenger.

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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