Burn Notre Dame the Rest of the Way Down

Forgive the hyperbole.

I’m sorry…but not.

Initially, the news of Notre Dame’s burning generated little more than mild ambivalence for me. I love history and I love old buildings, not to mention the sheer loss of property, the damage in dollars, well francs anyway.

People’s responses pushed me over the ledge.

     “Praying for Paris.”

          “Praying for Notre Dame.”

And, “We will rebuild!” amid Macron’s defiant pledge to rebuild the historic cathedral within 5 years, though most experts predict it will take at least a decade. Many cathedrals took more than a century to complete.

One thing the effort won’t lack is resources. Before the ashes even cooled, they raised more than $1 billion dollars in donations…for a building. Let that sink in. Less than a week.

I have a much simpler and more cost effective solution.

Burn it the rest of the way down.

Institutionalization of the Body

It’s not so much the dollars (francs), it’s the principle.

Notre Dame epitomizes the institutionalization of the church.

Jesus tells the parable of a mustard seed that grows into a tree, larger than all the garden plants, where birds come and make their nests. (Matthew 13:32-32) The problem is that a mustard seed is only meant to grow into a bush, 9 feet at its highest. A tree is an unnatural growth of the seed…and the birds come and eat the sown seed that is the Gospel of the Lord Jesus.

The church was never meant to be Notre Dame.

I’ll resist a libertarian urge to denounce the actual construction of the building. Although the exact amount is unknown—one study predicted $280,000,000 in adjusted cost—it took nearly 200 years to complete, starting in 1160.

During this same period, the average European could barely survive. Famine, disease, rampant illiteracy, and dire economic prospects were the norm. Amid this squalor, the church constructed no less than 1400 Gothic cathedrals in the Paris Basin alone, an estimated 21% of the GDP…on cathedrals.

Ignore this though, the poor stewardship of God’s resources.

In Notre Dame, we see the culmination of process, the rendering of the faith into a procedure. This is what men do, slander the grace of the Lord Jesus in such a manner.

Notre Dame represents the unattainability of the faith for the commoner, the purported denial of grace but by the hand of the church as administered by the hierarchy.

Deny common men the word of God. Speak only Latin as the average man could never understand Scripture anyway. Restrict them to grace via the sacraments, administered exclusively by the church of course. Confuse them with rites and rituals, deemed necessary by a superior authority. Leverage grief for deceased loved ones in generating revenue. Leverage guilt for base lusts and sell indulgences, generating further revenue.

Build more cathedrals. Simple.

Effective.

Lucrative.

I find it highly appropriate that 700 years later, Napoleon Bonaparte chose Notre Dame as the sight for his coronation, validating the sacralistic blend of church and government.

Today, European cathedrals sit as white-washed tombs, beautiful and ornate on the outside, dead and decaying on the inside. The European church wilts under secularism, postmodernism, progressivism and several other -isms I’ve forgotten to mention. The cathedral is the tombstone for a dying European church.

Also highly appropriate—nearly 20 million pilgrims (tourists) visit Notre Dame each year. With not so subtle irony, tourism supplanted church business in generating revenue, a reality for countless other European churches and cathedrals. Hundreds of others are rubbled each year due to lack of interest.

Lest you think the west or even Protestantism is immune to such institutionalization, have you taken a look at the western church lately and the gaping fissure.

Many of the traditional denominations cling to Romanesque rites and rituals, immersing the attender in processes and confirmations and other extra-biblical proceedings. For others, the Walmart effect is in full force. Build it bigger and better with a great coffee shop, awesome children and youth programs, and entertaining worship services.

The evidence that it’s not working…is that it’s not working. Each subsequent American generation is more unchurched than the previous. Generation Z will supplant the Millennials as the most unchurched American generation in history.

Veneration of the Worthless

“What about the crown of thorns!?” someone pleaded.

     Huh?

Institutionalization generates wealth; idolatry is a by-product.

The church pushes the worship of numerous competing things to include, but not limited to, Mary, men (saints, sigh), relics, tradition, and celebrity pastors (ouch).

Notre Dame housed the famed crown of thorns. Gifted to Louis IX, King of France, in 1238, it found its home in Notre Dame following the French Revolution in 1801. A twisted circlet of Juncus balticus rushes, the crown is protected and contained by a special glass tube.

On the first Friday of each month, they wheel it out for a special veneration mass, as well as each Friday during Lent. There you can wait in line to kneel and kiss the thorns in reverence, well, the glass tube around the thorns anyway, after an attending official has dutifully wiped the glass with a sanitizing napkin. Piety is no excuse for bacterial recklessness.

In case you weren’t paying attention, this is the actual crown of thorns that Roman soldiers fashioned and smashed unceremoniously onto the head of Christ, mocking Him as the King of the Jews. Hmmm.

Erasmus once quipped that there were enough pieces of the crown around, all demanding veneration, that they could fill a merchant ship. That’s quite a crown.

Thank God a French chaplain saved it from the fire.

We ought to use it as kindling to restart the fire.

Veneration is characterized by reverence. The Bible is quite clear in that we worship or venerate one thing and one thing only, the LORD our God. Angels refuse worship. The Apostles refused worship.

Let us suppose for a second, a brief one, that this actually is the crown of thorns from the head of Christ…so what? It’s a plant, an inanimate object. The Bible gives no basis for the worship or reverence of anything other than God Himself.

As a Christian, indwelt of the Holy Spirit, I have Christ. Period.

I have no need nor mandate to worship another.

“This is holy ground,” argued a priest in speaking of Notre Dame. Really? Says who? What makes it holy?

Is it more holy than the basement house church in China? Is it more holy than the rural assembly in southern Illinois or Liberia? Is it more holy than the living room where a man sits and quietly teaches his sons about Jesus?

One woman even claimed to see Jesus in the flames. Good grief.

Will our desire for veneration outside of Christ ever end?

Response of the Believer

We ought to grieve.

In Notre Dame, we ought to grieve for the institutionalization of the Church. We ought to grieve at the veneration of that which is worthless, the idolatry.

In our grief, we ought to repent. We ought to examine ourselves and see if we ourselves venerate another, if we harbor an idol, if we slander the grace of the risen Lord Jesus with process and ritual.

Let us burn this affront to a holy and righteous God to the ground…

…salt the ground while we’re at it.

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

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

THE 413 REPORT

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

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

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

   Janice S. Garey  

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

  Anne Rightler

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

  Scott Doherty

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

 Chad Chasteen

FOLLOW THE 413!

Do Good, Go to Hell…the Message of the Modern Western Church

I had a conversation with a man the other day.

This man faithfully attends church every Sunday and has for decades. He participates. He plays in the worship band. He attends Sunday school.

This man could not articulate the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“I try to do good,” he offered, “and the longer I’ve attended, the better I’ve been, the better it’s been for me.”

This man works, hard. He helped build a new sanctuary. He delivers meals to shut-in members. He stocks the food pantry. Whenever a helping hand is needed, he is there. He gives, generously. He went on a mission trip to Haiti.

“Do you know the Lord Jesus,” I asked.

“You know, I don’t think that I do,” he admitted.

Another man confessed to me, “I just want to do what’s right and teach my kids to do what’s right.” The idea that all sin condemns equally was foreign to him, total depravity a strange concept. Interestingly, his pastor agreed, telling him, “no one is as good as they think or as bad as they think.”

I sometimes wonder if some pastors ever actually read the Bible.

These statements, these thought patterns, epitomize the theology of much of the western church, a theology firmly rooted in the pride of men.

New Pride/Old Pride

We’ve institutionalized works and concealed it beneath a veneer of ritual, draping it with religiosity and Jesus-language. It’s nothing new.

When Constantine co-opted the church and blended it with the government, he doomed the institution to millennia of impotence. The theology of works, the religion of the Pharisees, proliferated giving rise to such perversions as infused righteousness, the elevation of church tradition, and the cursed doctrine of papal infallibility.

The Reformers rightly fought against this false gospel. Ironically, many of the faith traditions spawned by the Reformation did not fall too far from the Roman tree.

I grew up in one of these traditions. I attended church regularly. I was a moral and upstanding citizen. As a teenager, I attended a series of classes and through the process of Confirmation, was declared a member in good standing of the church.

I did.

Ticket punched.

I’d have split the gates of hell wide open. I had no idea who the Lord Jesus was and more urgently, He didn’t know me.

I lived enslaved to my sin for another two decades.

Hollow Message

“Do Good” is a meaningless message.

What’s the point of religion?

To make you a good person, one who does good things. The average American would unfortunately agree with this sentiment.

“Do good”, is a hollow message, worthless and empty. It does not resonate or inspire. A thousand secular organizations echo this same sentiment. A thousand secular institutions urge their people to do exactly this. Atheists picked up on it asserting that you can, “Be good without God.” And indeed, you can, depending upon what you mean.

Doing “good” does not require God.

“Do good,” is a message that does not save.

“Do good,” is a message of damnation.

It’s not the Gospel, not even close. It’s the antithesis of the Gospel. It’s a false gospel that Jesus came to destroy. He reserved his harshest condemnation for those who do exactly this, seek to earn the favor of God by their religious works and good deeds.

And it’s the message of the modern, western church.

Hollow Church

How could a man sit under the preaching of a series of ministers, sit under the ministry of the same church for years on end, and not know the Gospel message? I could understand if he had not yet been saved, but had he never even heard it?

We lament the fall of the church from prominence in the west. The church long-ago ceded its place of authority. It’s been neutered, rendered obsolete and irrelevant to the life of the vast majority of Americans.

The American church is a caricature.

The American church is not surprising.

How could a church that institutionalized and proliferates numerous false gospels—prosperity gospel, liberation theology, the white empowerment gospel, and here, the gospel of works—how could such a church accomplish all that God intends for her? It cannot. It never will.

It’s filled with people who are not saved, people bound for eternal conscious torment in hell, people who believe in a false Jesus, who put their trust in a false gospel.

I was there. I don’t recall ever hearing the Gospel of the risen Lord Jesus. I’ll acknowledge that in the blindness of my sin, the hardness of my heart, it is possible that they preached the message and that I had no ears to ear. It’s possible.

But you’d think that over the course of say 10 years, something would’ve stuck.

I’ll caveat that it’s not always cut-and-dried. I’m sure in many of these churches, Christ is preached. It’s just buried beneath layers of tradition and ritual, rites and processes. And men cling to process because process frees me from the discomfort that the Gospel inevitably yields.

The Gospel offends, it’s the most offensive message ever, and if I can avoid it by yielding to rights-of-passage and rituals masquerading as the real thing, then so be it.

I’m sure I can find a church that’ll allow me this.

An Angry Message

I was angry. I called this man’s pastor in frustration.

I wanted to know if he was preaching the Gospel. I wanted to know if his church preached Christ and Him crucified. I wanted to know if the false gospel of works was taught in his church. I didn’t ask any of these things.

Instead, I expressed my concern for this man, that he was a nominal believer. The pastor agreed to check on him specifically and ask him some questions concerning eternity. As his church numbered over 2,000—don’t get me started—he obviously had no way of knowing the eternal status of all of his congregants.

Sadness replaced anger.

How many of the 2,000 were in a similar condition? As the vast majority of Americans profess Christianity and the vast majority of Americans likewise do not exhibit even the most basic fruit of salvation like say…sporadic church attendance, the problem is evident.

We’ve filled our church pews with false converts and I can think of few things more tragic. Imagine the horror of many on that day…

“I did things. I helped at church. I attended pretty regularly. I donated some money…I went to class. I was confirmed into the church. I’m a good person. They said I was good to go!”

“Depart from me, I never knew you,” the tragic words of our Lord and Savior.

The Message…no, not that one

The Gospel confronted me. It shocked me.

January of 2005, I walked into a friends church and heard the Gospel for the very first time.

The things that this preacher said stunned me, astonished truly. This man preached the Gospel in all of its power, with all of its authority, with all of its teeth. He held nothing back. I’d never heard anything like it.

For the very first time, I was confronted with my sin and the worthlessness of my own self-righteousness. For the very first time, I understood that I deserved nothing of my own merit other than condemnation in a place called Hell. For the very first time, I heard that my works, my baptism, my morality, would all fall woefully short in justifying me before a holy and righteous God.

And then, I heard about Jesus, the Savior and His atoning sacrifice on the cross.

I heard the message that told me, I didn’t need a priest, I didn’t need a ritual or even a church. All that was required of me was repentance, to confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and to believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead.

After several weeks of resisting the grace offered, I crumbled.

I went forward, found a little old man, and fell to my knees with him and prayed, “Lord, I am a sinner, save me.”

If you’ve never been saved, never surrendered your life to Christ in willing submission and acknowledgement of your own helplessness, would you do that today? Forsake your works, forsake your righteousness. They won’t save you…but I know one who will.

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

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

THE 413 REPORT

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

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

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

   Janice S. Garey  

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

  Anne Rightler

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

  Scott Doherty

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

 Chad Chasteen

FOLLOW THE 413!

The Fetus is the new N-word

Say it.

You can’t, can you?

Maybe you’re a racist and have no problem saying it.

I cannot hardly type it. I definitely cannot say it. I stood alone before my desk and made myself try to say it. Is there an uglier word than the N-word?

Perhaps the C-word, but even that word, though intensely vulgar and uncouth, lacks the connotation of the N-word. What is it about a word, a mere assembly of letters, four consonants, two vowels, two syllables?

Language means something. The N-word means something.

Derived from the innocuous Latin word niger meaning, literally, black, it evolved into negro, the Spanish and Portuguese word for black. It first appeared in Merriam-Webster in 1864 as a synonym for negro with a note indicating “derision or depreciation”. Forever more it possessed a negative connotation.

Whoever penned ‘Sticks and Stones’ must have never heard the N-word.

The N-word stands symbolic of a shameful and hopefully dead or dying chapter in our nation’s history. Today there is a new N-word on the block, another group that is the new black, as well as the old black, ironically enough.

Let us talk about the most oppressed group in America—the unborn—and the language that makes this possible.

Language facilitates dehumanization.

Growing up in the south, I heard the N-word a lot, always in a certain context, and always with certain associated trappings. You know what I’m talking about.

To this day, I remember the redneck chick from high school, sporting the American by birth, Southern by the Grace of God t-shirt emblazoned with rebel flags, and her definitive statement, “I don’t have a problem with N-words, I think everybody should own one.”

Clearly, she was taught this, along with the enabling verbiage.

Would she have the same attitude absent the appropriate dehumanizing language?

The laundry list of dehumanizing terms for the black race was the grease on the skids, not the catalyst but the collaborator of oppression. We didn’t buy and sell men. We didn’t whip and chain women. We didn’t lynch people. We bought and sold and lynched Spooks, Darkies, and of course, N-words.

It is this connotation, this collective memory, that taints the N-word, rendering it unspeakable, except for in a few specific cultural contexts.

Language is powerful.

This is not a new concept.

As nations and armies came to grips with man’s inherent reluctance to killing his fellow man, they were forced to overcome this psychological(spiritual) resistance. Dehumanization is but one means to this end.

Though I’ve never killed a father or a son, a husband or a brother.

Maybe I’ve killed a Raghead.

During World War Two, we fought Krauts and Japs or Nips. In Korea, we killed Zipperheads. In Vietnam, we fought Gooks or Slopes. Today we fight Terrorists or Haji. Language facilitates conditioning.

If I can demean your enemy, make you think him less than human, then I can make it more likely you’ll engage to kill. Lest you think this trickery is confined to us imperialists in the west, our current enemies battle Zionists or Crusaders or even Kufr (Infidels).

Has anything changed the world more than the spoken word, with the ability to communicate ideas, motivate men, or inspire movements? In the same way, a continuous linguistic barrage degrading the essence of a group’s humanity has no choice but to register an effect.

Black oppression and language share a sordid cohabitation. A new cohabitation emerged from recent decades.

Language facilitates abortion.

The abortion industry rests on a mountain of untruth.

I could never kill a baby. Of course not.

Years ago, I paid my then-girlfriend to get an abortion (thankfully she didn’t go through with it).

We had a problem and I needed her to take care of the problem. I was perfectly willing to view the problem in vague terms, terms that made me comfortable in taking care of the problem, because to not take care of the problem presented me with even more of a problem, primarily the loss of my livelihood as I saw it.

The untruth that many have convinced themselves of, that we’ve impressed into the minds of millions of victimized women, is the absence of humanity in the womb.

Language is the vehicle. Let’s couch this living, sentient human being in the coldest, most sterile and medical-sounding terminology possible.

It’s a zygote.

A fetus.

A clump of cells.

Maybe not too different from a polyp or a cyst.

The language denies the humanity rendering it acceptable to remove.

“I had a procedure to remove a zygote,” sounds infinitely better than, “I paid a man to rip my unborn baby to shreds with a pair of scissors.” For many, denying the humanity is the only acceptable means of alleviating the guilt of the procedure but deep down…

They know. Of course they know, or perhaps they come to realize at a certain point.

Millions of women bear the burden of having facilitated the murder of their defenseless child while convincing themselves or allowing themselves to be convinced of the lie of medical appropriateness. I cannot imagine the horror as they come to terms with this reality.

The most intellectually honest pro-abortion advocates agree with science and acknowledge the humanity of the unborn. They just make the dreadful but decidedly logical leap that the mother’s humanity and rights supersede that of the unborn.

But for a multitude, it’s a denial of humanity that facilitates the slaughter under the oft-repeated slogan, “My body, My choice.” As a clump of cells, a zygote, a fetus, but not a person, the slogan makes perfect sense.

It’s no coincidence that when a mother, possessing all of the untaught love for her child that cannot be explained away, views an ultrasound of her unborn child, of the fetus, she will almost certainly NOT go through with an abortion. The ultrasound defies the language.

It’s a clump of cells. Hear the heartbeat.

It’s a zygote. See the fingers and toes.

It’s a fetus. It’s sucking its thumb!

No sane and undeceived woman would willingly slaughter her baby. As such, let us call things as they are, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel.

Language reminds us.

The fetus is just the new N-word on the block.

But really, it’s not. It’s all the same thing. As much as the unborn supplanted the black race at the pinnacle of American oppression, they actually didn’t. 

Is there still a race issue in America? Look no further than the fetus to answer that question. No issue epitomizes black oppression more than the oppression of the unborn as abortion IS a racial issue.

Fetus, zygote, clump of cellsspook, darkie, N-word.

Sadly, they’re the same more often than not.

Episodically, more black babies are aborted in New York City than born alive. Black women make up a hugely disproportionate number of women who have abortions. Planned Parenthood targets black neighborhoods which is not surprising. Its founder, Margaret Sanger, was a eugenist, one who advocated for the culling of the black race through controlled breeding (abortion) to the betterment of collective society.

We see, in abortion, the tragic marrying of language and murder, the perfect blend of verbiage and deception. The unborn is the not-so-new black. The fetus is the not-so-new N-word.

I pray for a day when we forsake the F-word in much the same way we eschew the N-word today.

I pray for a day when our language would align with justice. Until then…

Repent—the only adequate language I can find in response.

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

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

THE 413 REPORT

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

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

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

   Janice S. Garey  

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

  Anne Rightler

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

  Scott Doherty

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

 Chad Chasteen

FOLLOW THE 413!

Nursing Homes and Daycare—Icons of Collective Neglect

I’ve got a lot to do.

I have much to accomplish, many places to go, lots of business to conduct.

I really don’t have much time for distractions.

Kids? We have daycare.

Old people? Well, you know.

Our nation worships youth.

Our nation worships beauty, well, youthful beauty.

Consider the extreme lengths to which we go, to prolong life, to defer aging. We diet. We exercise, good things, mind you. We developed a cottage industry revolving around retaining a youthful appearance. Gimmicks and fads, creams and lotions, wraps and other accoutrements, all to tighten and tone, lift and smooth…in other words, make you look younger.

Some folks butcher themselves with plastic surgery in a futile attempt to retain a semblance of youth.

“Why you haven’t aged since college!” the pinnacle of complements.

Old is bad, something to be avoided and resisted.

Our nation neglects our parents.

My wife is unique in more than few ways.

She is a great nurse and loves old people, and they love her. She has almost always worked in a nursing home where she treats the residents with dignity and respect, as if they have value. And they respond. Even the most crotchety old buzzard inevitably comes to lighten up when she brings his meds.

She often comes home in tears.

“My little man is dying,” she confessed the other morning. Death is a part of life and certainly a part of any medical profession, but the nursing home thrusts death to the forefront. No one gets better and leaves a nursing home.

I’ll make the concession here. Obviously medical situations exist that require professional care just like life situations exist that demand daycare (I see you single mothers). But in general:

A nursing home is where we put our old people to die unobtrusively.

They all die. Most of them die alone.

Many are on hospice but even for the ones who are not, death lurks in the corner. It’s like a waiting room for eternity, eternal glory or eternal suffering and the norm seems to be loneliness…and fear. Maybe a family member will show up toward the end, but most make the sad, lonely march to death in utter solitude and often with much trembling.

Ami’s little man died a few days later (she wasn’t on duty), alone in his room, gasping for breath, calling out for help. He was a father, and a husband, and he walked to his grave for years completely alone…

…not hindering anyone. 

Our nation worships ourselves.

Old people get in the way. Kids too.

They are inconvenient, so we invented daycares and nursing homes to safely squirrel them away so that I may live unimpeded.

This is the sad reality, sad and harsh. 

I could never accomplish all of my professional objectives if I had to care for my aging father. I could never do all of the things I want to do if I’m stuck tending to my elderly parents. I just would not be happy if I had to alter my life in any way to account for them.

And it’s not like they won’t be taken care of.

The nursing homes are nice enough. They have a professional staff. It’s a five-star facility, each star ratcheting down my guilt a notch until it’s tolerable. As a matter of fact, they’ll get better care than I could ever give them!

It’s for the best. It’s what they would want.

As an aside, did you know that Adolf Hitler cared for his dying mother at home in her battle against breast cancer. Her Jewish doctor remarked, “I have never seen anyone so prostrate with grief as Adolf Hitler,” over her death.

I guess it should not surprise us that a nation so quick to allow strangers to raise our children would just as quickly allow strangers to accompany our parents to their death.

Our nation rejects the Commandment.

Interestingly, the Fifth commandment stands unique amongst the Ten.

Honor your father and your mother

…Okay, we’ve heard this before, but the rest…

that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving to you. (Exodus 20:12)

This commandment is the only one of the Ten Commandments to offer an outcome. I could infer a righteous outcome from obedience to the others but God plainly says, honor your parents so that you may prosper. It’s conditional.

What does it mean to honor your mother and father?

I’ll leave the specifics of that to the individual conviction of the Holy Spirit upon the hearts of His people. We value them. We esteem them. We consider them. We recognize that, at a minimum, they gave us life.

Notice God gives no caveat for worth. He does not say, honor them if they are good parents. He does not say, honor them if they honor you. He doesn’t even say, honor them if they are godly. Only, honor them.

Notice He gives no caveat for time. Honor them, not, honor them until you grow up and figure everything out on your own. Honor them until you no longer need them. Honor them until they become old and irrelevant or until you are too busy to honor them.

Honor them.

God commands it. They deserve it. They are entitled to it.

And the endstate…prosperity. You will live long in the land.

My family’s neglect.

I wish I would’ve known my grandmother. I mean, really known her. I knew her as a young boy. She even beat me with a flyswatter once when I gave her the finger, not really knowing what it meant, but I never really knew her.

She was a good, godly woman who literally gave away everything she had, consistently. So generous was her heart, you couldn’t give her anything without her giving it to another. She loved the Lord Jesus and her family.

Yet, in the transience of American life, my family moved away from her, to another state for my father’s job. We prospered in the new state. My father made better money. Our family did well and quite frankly, we moved on without her. 

We just had no place for her in our new life. She was too old to move, to entrenched where she was. Ashamedly, we even mocked her a bit for being a packrat, for living in poverty unnecessarily. We prospered. She wilted.

She died just a few years after we moved.

I feel as if we missed out on something important.

Why did she give everything away? Why was she content with so little? I would’ve loved to have learned from her. As I came to faith in Christ, we could have shared our faith. We could have laughed about the time I gave her the finger.

I wonder if our family’s reluctance to honor her contributed to our falling away from the church, and the godlessness that pervaded the early years of my life.

Clearly, I was not dwelling long in the land.

A different way.

Nursing homes represent pervasive self-centeredness. This is the bottom line.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Let us look to the legions of old people dying alone and repent. Let us see them with dignity and respect, with value and worth. Let us see them as our fathers, as our mothers and let us go to them.

Let us seek them out and listen to them. Let us glean from them the decades of wisdom, the lifetime of experience. For those no longer cognizant, let us lavish love upon them all the way to the grave.

As my parents age, I know that one day I’ll be confronted with a decision. I’ve already made a vow. My wife, lover of old people, wouldn’t have it any other way.

That our nation would make a similar vow.

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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