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

I’m no Rambo, but I have never met a woman I couldn’t kill with my bare hands.

People will hear what they want to hear, see what they desire to see. Many will read this and hear sexism, patriarchy. They will denounce the conclusions before understanding. 

That is not a statement of either, but a statement of fact that bears relevance to certain discussions.

One of the primary manifestations of wickedness in the hearts of men is the oppression of women. The military in many ways foments this by bending to our civilian masters in refusing to acknowledge the fact that gender equality is an illusion, a charade, and harmful one at that.

A Permissive and Necessary System

Gender equality only exists as allowed by a system. Absent a permissive society, in the presence of anarchy, women are decidedly vulnerable due to their weaker bodies and kinder natures. Do exceptions exists? Undoubtedly, and women are as capable of brutality as any man.

Yet men possess a corner on the market for the application of brute force and brutality. Almost all violent crime is committed by young men. Almost all domestic violence is committed by men. Men, unrestrained, excel in the oppression of women and the application of violence. This is a fact borne out by history and declared by God in the Garden. (Genesis 3:16)

The key notion is restraint, and it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that restrains the brutality of men and provides the conditions for equality. Jesus was the greatest proponent and protector of women. In the patriarchal 1st century Jewish culture, women were subservient, second-class citizens living completely at the mercy of their male overlords.

This is also the case in every other society since, other than those based upon a Judeo-Christian heritage. Can you name a single matriarchal society? I can’t. They don’t exist; they never have. Atheistic, Buddhist, or Hindu Eastern societies are all decidedly patriarchal. Never mind that every single Muslim society openly oppresses women, many in an extremely brutal fashion. No, it is the common grace of God through the Gospel of Jesus Christ that protects women from the sin of men.

As the Gospel ebbs from our collective conscience, I fear the consequences, specifically for women.

A Dangerous Fantasy

I have an aunt who maintains a decidedly liberal outlook on all matters. At the height of the national debate concerning bathroom use and allowing men who identify as women to use female bathrooms and changing facilities, she made the comment to me that she didn’t need my protection in a bathroom. She could take care of herself.

During the 2016 Miss USA pageant, the eventual winner, Miss District of Columbia who also happens to be a reserve Army officer, was asked about the Pentagon’s decision to open ground combat positions to women. Without hesitation, she declared her enthusiastic support, “We are just as tough as men!”

Both of these women live in fantasy world.

My Aunt is a little old lady and any grown man who followed her into the bathroom could literally do whatever he wanted, were it not for the intervention of…another man. The veracity of Miss USA’s statement depends on what you mean by tough. My wife is one of the toughest people I know. She is a fearless mother, tireless and strong. In fairness, I would not want her next to me in a gunfight. Miss USA’s statement rings true while she’s wearing a glittery dress, replete with tiara and a bouquet of roses. Put her under a rucksack confronted with a bevy of grown men trying to kill her and her comrades, and the charade loses its luster.

Refusing to acknowledge the inherent godly differences and that a system is necessary endangers both women and the mission. Removing the veil of Christ’s protection and provision for women places them at risk, yet we cannot acknowledge that lest we offend the sensibilities of the secular masters of this nation.

The Rhino and the Butterfly

Peter writes,

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel(1 Peter 3:7)

As much as concepts of submission offend so readily, so too does the idea of weakness. Many seethe over the connotation.

Consider another angle. Consider weakness in terms of fragility, as in the fragility of a ceramic vase—weak, fragile, beautiful really, delicate, and valuable. Consider a ceramic vase versus a steel pot, the man, or perhaps a butterfly versus a rhinoceros. Some situations require the attributes of a rhino. Would you really send a butterfly to do the work of such a beast?

A recent deployment aboard an Air Force C-17 provide a nice example. The assistant loadmaster was a young lady, though it took me a minute to realize it. She sported a short, boyish haircut and walked and acted like a man, sort of. It took me a minute to realize that this was, in fact, a female. Once I did, it was extremely obvious that this was a female acting like a male. Now, whether she was ‘trans’ or not, whatever that actually means, I don’t know. Maybe she was just a boyish female. Either way, her femininity was obvious despite her best attempts to portray masculinity.

It became even more obvious when she had to do things. The loadmaster on a C-17 is responsible for all the cargo, to ensure it is loaded correctly and safely. At one point, the head loadmaster directed the young woman to secure a pile of plastic boxes with a cargo strap. I stood out of the way and watched this young lady fumble with the industrial strength cargo straps for several minutes with no success before needing the assistance of the loadmaster, a man. She simply did not possess the strength and leverage to make the straps work.

Shortly before takeoff, the loadmaster directed the young lady to close the door to the aircraft and yet again, she could not complete the task, lacking the strength and leverage. After several failed attempts, she once more required the assistance of the loadmaster, a man. He walked over, casually threw his weight into it, and slammed it shut.

This young lady literally could not generate the torque and leverage that the man could though he was no bastion of masculinity. She actually appeared to be in better shape. He was a middle-aged, slightly overweight, E-7 with a beer belly. Yet, he could generate the brute force that this young lady could not, and no matter how much she wanted to look like a man the instant brute force became necessary, her femininity became intensely obvious.

This is not to impugn this young lady. I maintain great respect for her service and the fact that she needed assistance is no issue. Certainly there are men who might require assistance with these mundane tasks. What I seek to highlight is that to ignore the distinction between men and women is a most foolish thing to do.

She was a butterfly and that fact was never more obvious than when she was required to do that which is expected of the rhino.

In this case, the inability to generate brute force did not prove decisive. However, I can think of numerous situations where this ability might just be the difference between life and death. Situations exist where the restraint of the Gospel ebbs, where the smoothing effects of civilization and society wane, where the ability to generate and respond to brute force and brutality might just be the difference between victory and defeat. I’m thinking specifically of combat, definitively ground combat.

The Obama administration opened all positions in the military to women despite the obvious folly of such an endeavor. A Marine Corps test of infantrymen versus integrated infantry proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that infantrywomen do not perform well as infantrymen. Go figure. We don’t need tests to demonstrate this. Anyone who has served, including most women, will attest that this is an endeavor fraught with peril that will ultimately cost lives.

Perhaps there might be a way we could honor our God-given sexuality and still have women serving alongside men. 

But first we’d have to acknowledge the foolishness of supposed gender-neutrality. That would ultimately require us to acknowledge the author of our sexuality, God. And therein lies the issue.

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

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

THE 413 REPORT

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

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

   Janice S. Garey  

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

  Anne Rightler

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

  Scott Doherty

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

 Chad Chasteen

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

We simply cannot address the affliction of soldiers without addressing the penis and its proper usage, rather the implications of its improper use. We’ll address other afflictions wrought by pervasive godlessness, but sexuality rules the day. God made us as sexual beings. Sexuality permeates our very existence and as such, it must be accounted for.

Only a few dabble in a singular pervasive sin as afflictions imbricate and become indistinguishable one from another. Most of the afflicted suffer from a multitude of assaults upon their being which is to be expected.

A Godly Ethic

Like our nation, our soldiers are entirely confused about sexual ethics and what godliness in this arena looks like. Lines continue to blur and many descend truly into what would have been deemed utter insanity only 20 years ago. God clearly defines gender and sexuality leaving absolutely no room for vacillation.

The Bible records that the Pharisees confronted Jesus regarding divorce. His response addresses a number of issues.

          Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female…(Matthew 19:4)

Without hesitation, Jesus refers directly to the first decree in Genesis 1:27. God made them male and female—separate, different, not just good, but very good. (Genesis 1:31) Jesus goes on to reference Genesis once more saying,

          …Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. (Matthew 19:5)

It is a true statement that Jesus never expressly condemned homosexuality. He also never expressly condemned bestiality, or pedophilia, or incest. He did promote marriage between a man and a woman, as He condemned adultery, lust, and by inference, fornication. Jesus condemns any sexual activity outside of that between a man and a woman in the context of a biblical marriage. (Matthew 5) The rest of the Bible concurs. Only an extremely painful and distinctly dishonest exposition of Scripture will yield any conclusion other than this.

God made them male and female, separate.

They are different, distinct. This distinction is a good thing. God made them in His image, unique and with different passions and purposes. To the man, He gave the mandate to work, to have dominion over creation in the Garden, and to teach His wife what God had given directly to Him. God creates woman as man’s ‘helper’. (Genesis 2:20) Lest any think this a derogatory or diminishing term, consider that God frequently refers to Himself as man’s ‘helper’. (Ex. 18:4, Psalms 33:20, Psalms 70:5) Woman is to come alongside man and ‘help’ him in exercising dominion over creation.

God designates separate roles for the man and the woman. First, the man is to serve as the spiritual leader, to have authority over his wife and family. Immediately we begin to encroach upon contemporary thought patterns. The Bible speaks clearly on the matter. Nowhere does God direct the man to rule or dominate the woman, this is solely of the Curse. (Genesis 3:16) God does direct male leadership.

Many pull Ephesians 5:21 out of context when Paul speaks about believers “submitting to one another.” They propose a sort of mutual submission between the man and woman. However, this is a weak assertion tempered by fear of rejection and poor exegesis, clearly not the godly intent.

Paul does tell Christians to submit to one another, but then he goes on to explain what he means. “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” (v.22) “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” (v.6:1) “Bondservants, obey your earthly masters.” (v.6:5a) Paul says, everyone submit to one another and here is how:

  1. Wives submit to husbands,
  2. Children submit to parents, and
  3. Bondservants submit to masters.

Long ago, western society applied a derogatory connotation with the concept of submission. The Bible never quibbles. Nowhere does God call the husband to submit to his wife. The husband is the head of the household, indeed the head of his wife, “so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” (v.24)

Peter agrees, “wives, be subject to your own husbands.” (1 Pet. 3:1)

This straightforward biblical concept generates intense and immediate ire. Antiquated, masochistic, chauvinistic—the notion of male headship drives those who object into a veritable frenzy. They simply cannot believe that someone would advocate such a blatantly discriminatory and hateful belief. I understand how some might object without considering the full counsel of God’s word on the matter.

Consider the call given to the husband. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church.” (Ephesians 5:25) A husband is to love and honor his wife in the same way that Christ loves the church—to die for her, literally. In this context, the notion of mutual submission seems like a paltry concession for the sake of bristled sensibilities. Consider the power of husbands loving their wives as Christ loved the church and wives submitting to husbands in a godly fashion.

Again, submission does not imply subjugation or lack of equality or worth. God calls all Christians to submit in some way. God calls all believers to submit to the government (Romans 13:1, 1 Peter 2) and to the leadership of the local church (Hebrews 13:17, 1 Peter 5). It is the wife that God calls to submit to the husband “as to the Lord”, not as if he is the Lord. Her ideas, thoughts, and beliefs possess merit; she is just under his headship.

God said that this is the best way. The curse from Genesis 3 opposed this godly pattern from the beginning. Resistance or outright refusal is merely symptomatic of this curse. God made them male and female, in His image, with different roles, but of equal value. This is the essence of biblical complementarianism, a foreign concept to the unchurched and increasingly, even to the churched, as popular unbiblical thought patterns continue to invade the body of Christ.

Marriage has the mission of procreation and discipleship.

The very first command given to the couple was “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:28) God commanded Adam to know his wife Eve in the strictest biblical sense of the word and to have children and to bring them up in the ways of the Lord. This is the way that God’s people were to spread across the entire earth, subduing it. The Fall did not negate this mandate. Repeatedly, Scripture confirms the primacy of teaching our children the ways of the Lord.

God calls us to make disciples, starting with our own children.

Here we see the unique role and ability of the woman to steward life, to give birth, and her unique bend toward nurturing. Secular culture minimizes this unique capacity to mother as women desperately seek to usurp what was not given to them in the first place. What an amazing thing, to mother, care for, and nurture life from its very conception. I stand in awe of this capacity as should any godly society, holding the desire to mother as a truly sacred desire.

Please do not hear me say that a woman cannot and should not work or pursue a profession. By all means, I merely proclaim the sacred call of motherhood and the disparate ordained roles for men and women.

Marriage has the mission of proclaiming the Gospel.

Most importantly, as I love my wife as Christ loved the church and she submits to me as to the Lord, we display the Gospel to a lost and dying world. A biblical marriage is a visual depiction of the Gospel. The Bible frequently refers to the Church as the Bride of Christ and its relationship with Jesus as a marriage.

Based upon these purposes, is it any wonder that Satan and the world have continuously sought to undermine the sanctity of marriage, driving a wedge between man and woman? They often rely upon factors from point number one in distorting and perverting godly roles to exacerbate the conflagration between the two sexes.

Our nation continuously drives further from the godly standard, taking our army with it. Like the populace, our soldiers possess intense confusion over issues of masculinity, femininity, and sexuality. This resonates in their actions and vast affliction.

Ignorance of, and practice outside of, the biblical sexual ethic generates intense personal struggle and pragmatically, weakens our force. 

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

A Resolution for Men—Quit Doing Curls in the Squat Rack

If this is you, stop it. Just stop it!

You know who you are.

An old weight-lifting buddy of mine whom I had not spoken with in some time, messaged me out of the blue with an old but not unfamiliar lament. Some doofus was doing curls in the squat rack forcing him to wait as there was only one rack. He ran his options by me and though I don’t recall them exactly, at least two of them involved punching this man in the face.

I advised restraint, assuaging anger with a modicum of concealed scorn.

Man invented the squat rack to facilitate…the squat. The squat ranks as the most valuable and functional exercise. The human body is basically a giant hinge joint around the hips; no other exercise develops whole-body strength, power, and explosiveness like the squat. It’s also one of the most taxing exercises. A proper and deep squat demands commitment, courage even.

It’s bad for the knees—stop being a sissy.

I use the Smith machine—not quite the same.

I use the leg press sled instead. Watch me do 900lbs—please.

To clarify. I hate to squat, always have. I’m not a good squatter, but every Monday morning, the very first exercise I do is the squat. There is something oddly clarifying about placing a well-loaded bar across my back first thing Monday morning. After that, the rest of my week is a breeze.

And woe to you who dare to curl in the squat rack. As valuable and functional as the squat is, the curl ranks near the top of superfluous exercises, alongside donkey calf raises. “Curls for the girls!” If you feel led to curl, go right ahead, but you can curl anywhere. You could even, gasp, set your bar on the floor and pick it up to curl. Weight-lifters need the rack to squat.

Take your do-rag, weight belt, and weight-lifting gloves elsewhere, back to the 90’s if need be.

The squat rack was designed with a very specific function in mind.

A Fleeting Gift

A new year dawns, beckoning us to the future, the blessing of time. Some of you may not see another year. Some of you may not make it out of January. Each day, every hour, each breath is a gift, undeserved of our Creator.

The Psalmist reminds us of a sobering truth. “Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!” (Psalm 39:5)

As does Isaiah, “All flesh is grass…The grass withers, the flower fades.” (Isaiah 40:6,8)

I recently received a reminder of the fleeting nature of our days as I stood before my friends and family and retired after 22 years in the military. Twenty-two long years ago, I raised my right hand and swore to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. Twenty-two years, a veritable lifetime. As I contemplate the naïve and brash young man, standing with his entire life ahead of him, I long to communicate to him, to exhort him to make the most of his days, to not spend them on idle and frivolous pursuits.

Twenty-two years in the blink of an eye.

Our time is perhaps our most precious asset, never redeemable, once spent, gone for eternity. What will you do with your time, that which remains? What will you do with this year before you?

I have resolved to no longer curl in the squat rack.

A Gift with Purpose

Paul exhorts the Ephesians,

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15)

Paul calls us to walk intentionally, deliberately, wisely, likening the Christian life to a walk. Earlier he tells them to “walk worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (4:1), to “no longer walk as Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.” (4:17)

Walk in a manner that redeems the time and is worthy of that to which you’ve been called. In other words, don’t waste your life in idle and vain pursuits. Don’t waste your life seeking fulfillment in that which will never fulfill.

Our time is the most precious and valuable of assets and as such, Paul calls us to “walk in love” (5:1) and to “walk as children of light” (5:8).

Only such a walk is worthy, wise, making the best use of our time. From the Westminster Catechism,

          “What is the chief end of man?”

          “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

God gives us life for a very specific purpose. Anything less than that is a life unrealized.

An Unredeemable Gift

And yet men seem determined to fill our lives with the mundane, the trivial. We continually invent new ways to spend our time, each seemingly more pointless than the last. My sons, if I allow them, will watch videos of people playing video games—not actually playing themselves, a pointless activity as it were—but watching other people. The existence of thousands of hours of such videos on the internet speaks to a demonic sap of our most precious resource, our time.

Do you walk worthy? Wisely? 

Why are the days evil? The days are evil because time, if left unspent, will spend itself. One day you’re gonna wake up and be forty, or fifty, or sixty, or older wondering where your days went. Where did they go? Some stunning queries confront the conscience in such a manner including perhaps the most vexing of inquiries,

          Did I matter?

Did I even matter at all? Had I never of existed, would anyone have cared? Would the world have been any different?

Death summons us continually, an unwavering procession to the grave. The second we’re put under the soil, the world will begin the process of forgetting all about us. Tell me, who was the richest or most popular man in your town thirty years ago? Twenty?

No man on his death bed proclaims,

          “If only I’d spent more time watching t.v.”, or

          “I wish I’d spent more time at the office,” or

          “If only I could’ve spent more time accumulating.”

No man says these things. How many men go to the grave ashamed and regretful of a life wasted, confronted with the tragedy of unredeemed time. This is why Paul so vigorously exhorts the Ephesians to make the most of the time, advising them that the days are evil.

Perhaps you’ll not change the world. God calls some men to such a task. But this I know, you could change the world for one, maybe a few. Could you change it for your wife, your children maybe, perhaps a fatherless child?

Men, the world needs us to engage, desperately. Our wives, our children, our nation needs us to engage, to lead. They need us to get up from in front of the television, turn off football, set down the video game controller and claim that which God intended, that we would lead, that we would love our wives as Christ loved the Church, that we would bring up our children it the ways of the Lord.

Hurry! You may not have much time…the day is drawing near even now.

As for me, I resolve to no longer tarry about in life, toying with the inconsequential and trite pursuits of feckless men. I’m determined to spend whatever time I have left on that which matters.

I resolve to no longer curl in the squat rack. 

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 Giver, not the Gift

It’s the Giver, not so much the gift.

From the pages of Scripture, God calls us to, “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) What is God’s will for your live? To live a life of joy, prayer, and thankfulness.

The object of our thankfulness reveals much. The author of Hebrews exhorts, “Therefore, let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken.” (Hebrews 12:28) Considering Jesus, we ought to be thankful for things eternal. We ought to be thankful for the Church, Heaven, God Himself, and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant. (Hebrews 12:22-24)

It’s the Giver, not the gift.

The Gift

We like the gift.

Last summer I inherited a cherry, ’89 Ford F-150. My wife’s grandfather bought it new and drove it around his little West Virginia town where he served as the town barber for fifty years. He drove it on fly-fishing excursions and after he passed several years ago, unbeknownst to me, my father-in-law had it restored, had a new engine installed, and drove it down to me. I was overcome with gratitude. I become a boss when I slide behind the wheel. Everywhere I go, it turns heads, catches eyes.

I should be thankful for this wonderful, uh, blessing. We thank God for our food before consuming a meal, and we should. We thank God for health, our families, our jobs, and we should.

But I hesitate to even use the word blessing, so twisted and perverted has it become.

To be clear, in sovereignty, all things come from God. I have a ’89 Ford F-150 because God decided that I should. I had my dinner tonight at the provision of God. My health, my job, my family: all come from God.

And we should be thankful for these things, these gifts, but…

The Gift is Transient, Fading

Twenty-three years ago, my father bought me an ’89 Harley Davidson Sportster 1200. It was a sweet ride, two-tone blue and grey. I quickly lowered the rear and installed a set of wicked drag pipes to ensure everyone knew I was coming and that it was appropriate to look at me.

On it, I became a rebel, a free spirit, an outlaw biker though the extent of my scoffing of the law probably involved driving a little more aggressive than I should have. I mean, I didn’t actually want to get in trouble, but my leather jacket and illegal, non-DOT-approved skull cap certainly generated an appropriate appearance. But, I loved my scooter, this gift from my father.

Today, it is no more. It exists only as a well-worn memory.

The gift always fades; it diminishes.

John assures us of the transient nature of all things. “And the world is passing away along with its desires.” (1 John 2:17) Isaiah affirms that, “The grass withers, the flowers fade.” (Isaiah 40:8) James confirms that our very lives are as a vapor, here today, gone tomorrow. (James 4:14)

In the end, all things will perish. One day in the not-too-distant future, Christ will return, bodily and in power, and He will set all things right. There will be a Resurrection and a Judgement, and all things will perish in the fire, the heavens and the earth. And there will be a new heaven and a new earth as Jesus sets all things right, for good. (Hebrews 12:25-27)

Nothing will last.

My cherry pickup will one day be a pile of rust. I may never have another meal after this one. I may rise to death tomorrow or the Lord may see fit to remove my family. Yes, we should be thankful for all these things, but we should understand a bitter truth learned by Job so long ago. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. (Job 1:21)

I Merit no Gift

Back to the blessings. I sometimes cringe when I hear people refer to the gifts given to us as blessings.

Yes, the Lord blesses us when He gives to us, but the failure occurs when we attach these blessings to merit.

Tyler Perry stood before T.D. Jakes’ congregation at The Potter’s House to inform them of his intent to donate $1 million. He was a giver, he informed the audience, and had been his whole life. “You see, when you have favor with…come on somebody,” as Perry pointed heavenward…as if man could earn or merit the favor of God.

Be not mistaken. God calls the believer to bear fruit, to live a life of holiness, purity, and obedience to Him. Yet, these works, done in the will of God, conformed to Christ, empowered of the Holy Spirit, though pleasing to God, merit no favor or special consideration.

I wonder, on what basis a man like Tyler Perry thinks his favor with God is based.

Is that why he has so much wealth, why God has chosen to bless him?

I wonder about the Christians in Africa slaughtered at the hand of Al Shabab. Where is their favor? Why didn’t they earn it? What did they do wrong? What about the martyrs, the countless number who’ve perished, often violently, at the hand of man purely because their faith? Did they merit no favor? Even the Apostles, the foundation of the Church—why did God’s favor not keep them from a martyrs’ death…well, maybe John merited favor as the sole Apostle not martyred on behalf of Christ.

God blesses, but He does so as He sees fit and not based upon any thing that we may have earned. This type of thinking inevitably leads to stratification based upon possession and inevitably a works-based salvation, both anathema to the word of God.

The True Gift

My two-year old son loves me, at least at first, because of what I give to him just like I loved my parents for what they gave to me, like a motorcycle. At some point though, a change occurs, a transition happens.

Though I am still thankful for all that my parents gave to me, I’m ever more thankful just that they are my parents. I pray that my son would feel the same at some point.

The true gift is the Giver, an unperishable, unshakeable, immoveable gift. I love the other gifts and cherish His blessings and thank Him for them daily, but with an understanding of an eternal truth.

It’s the Giver, not the gift.

My heavenly Father is the greatest reason I must be thankful this day. The Giver is the greatest gift I could ever have. My adoption as a son, my status as a sinner justified by His grace alone, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the anticipation of one day hearing, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21)

Let us be thankful this day for what matters most.

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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