C’mon Church, Quit Playing Checkers While the Enemy Plays Chess

In October 2005, Coalition forces in Iraq captured a letter from Al Qaeda’s #2 man, Ayman al-Zawahiri to their Iraqi affiliate leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (AMZ) detailing their plan for defeating America in Iraq.

The letter revealed AQ’s strategic view of the conflict. That they refer to their enemy as Crusaders and Zionists should have been a cue. For them, this is a generational conflict necessitating a long-term strategy. While American commanders were busy trying to minimize casualties and just make it through their year-long deployment, AQ leaders were looking to the future, globally.

They were playing chess…for an evil and doomed ideology, but chess nonetheless.

We were playing checkers, much like the Church today.

Checkers

As the newest pastor in the local association, I was privileged to attend a luncheon with the other pastors. These pious men of God truly love Him and desire to see His will accomplished. At the luncheon, they invited a high-level leader of our denomination to address us and he spoke about…tracts.

His church had developed a new tract around a great Bible verse and you could get them by the truckload and give them to your congregants and exhort them to get out there and hand them out and tell people about Jesus.

Last year, our state grew by 60,000 people but there were only 20,000 baptisms. We are losing ground and have been for years. Only 5% of believers actively share their faith. What if we could exhort 10% to share, maybe we’d get 40,000 baptisms! Yet, every year the church loses ground and every year we invent a new campaign to “get people out there”.

Insanity has been defined as doing the exact same thing and expecting different results.

This is checkers.

The Enemy plays chess.

More Checkers

Southern Baptists—I cannot speak for other denominations—have mastered the art of demanding as little as possible of our congregants while still giving them a sense of having done their duty, perhaps out of fear that they may leave and attend somewhere else, where less will be expected of them.

Handing out tracts, engaging strangers is good, as a part of a broader construct. I have a friend who is gifted and excited about street evangelism and personally, when I participate with him, my faith and wits are sharpened. Christ is proclaimed; seeds are planted. The Kingdom moves forward.

Yet, we should ask more of God’s people.

Seeking out a stranger to tell about Jesus is one of the safest things a believer can do. There is literally no risk. You will never see this person again. Whatever happens in the encounter, it is likely that they will NOT plug into a local church and become a disciple.

Yet, we exhort the believer to “get out there”. We establish pre-planned corporate opportunities. I don’t even have to do anything, just show up to the booth and that’s it. We even add trinkets and props to make the process as easy and painless as possible.

At the cost of time and a bit of discomfort, the Christian can be well affirmed that he has done his part. If he has enough zeal, we’ll tell others that he’s “on fire for Jesus” or perhaps label him a “soul-winner” and after a few hours, he can return home satisfied. By itself, this costs us very little.

This is easy!

This is checkers.

We ought to always be prepared to offer a reason for the hope that is in us, to anyone, be it a friend or a stranger. (1 Peter 3:15) I find scant biblical precedent for seeking strangers in the manner of the contemporary American church as a central strategy.

The greatest indicator is that it’s not working! The American church continues to slide into mediocrity. The teenagers from the mission trip go right back to smoking weed with their hands down one another’s pants and the man you gave the tract to has forgotten all about you as he returns to the harsh existence of his reality.

Chess

While we tarry, the Enemy busily destroys the American family, effectively segregating children from the most effective evangelist, a loving and engaged father.

Way more shocking than the lack of baptisms is the lack of male engagement and presence in the home. For those homes with a father present, he is almost assuredly not the spiritual leader of the home and is likely too busy and/or uninterested in becoming one. The widespread feminization of the church is symptomatic of disengaged men.

Men currently abdicate their responsibility in almost every area of life: the leadership of the home, the leadership of the church, the defense of the nation.

The epidemic of fatherless homes epitomizes this abdication and apart from the engagement of a loving and godly father, everything tells us that the children will likely not become of the faith. Satan does everything he can to leverage this outcome, employing the weight of the world, the deception of the Church, and the lust of the flesh against the man and the family unit.

The enemy is playing chess.

More Chess

I see very little of American Christianity in the Bible. The biblical precedent is:

– Send missionaries/plant churches (The NAMB has a great campaign for this)
– Send money
– Disciple children

As Paul took the Gospel to the Gentiles, he planted churches and installed elders and then went back and checked on them. Yes, he did public preaching and evangelized strangers, but always under the auspices of accomplishing the above and it was always “as he went”. I can’t find where Paul intentionally sought complete strangers to spend a few minutes telling them about Jesus with no deeper intentions.

Oh yeah, they took up a collection and sent money to struggling brothers.

God’s very first command to the couple, “be fruitful and multiply”, reveals God’s primary method for evangelizing the earth—making disciples of our children. We exhort believers to get out their and win strangers to Christ when we ought to spend the bulk of our time exhorting them to make disciples of children, theirs and others.

Consider the efficacy of our current strategy. Pastors do cheetah flips to get a few men to hand out tracts to a neighbor or come to an evangelism event. Yet, we cannot get men to consistently engage their families as the spiritual leaders of their homes, to make disciples of their children.

And as you make disciples of your children, consider the thousands upon thousands of fatherless children, who will likely never know about or know Christ apart from the intervention of a man to say, “I’ll be your father. I’ll teach you about Christ.”

Our state has literally thousands of children available for immediate adoption and each year our nations graduates tens of thousands of children from the system who have never been adopted. These young men and women all struggle greatly with addiction, incarceration, homelessness, pregnancy out of wedlock, and most of them don’t know and will never know Christ!

Chess not Checkers

We ought to send missionaries to plant churches. We ought to send them money. We ought to disciple our children and exhort men to seek the fatherless to make disciples of them as well.

The difference between these things and what we do now is that these things come with a cost, be it time, money, and really, standard of living.

Yet, imagine the power. The Gospel exploded across the Roman empire in a few short years, not with a cheap faith that costs nothing. Imagine the power of a Church mobilized, done playing at faith, willing to actually pay a cost to further Kingdom, maybe by something as simple as opening up a home for a fatherless child.

Imagine the power of a Church done playing checkers.

The Enemy quivers at such a thought.

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

Maybe It’s Time to Abolish the 2nd Amendment

Another week, another shooting.

Did you even notice? How long will the thoughts and prayers last? How long till the cries for gun control legislation and the equally strident reaction against gun control legislation subside?

What sickens me the most is the dullness, the collective weariness, the paralysis due to fear and partisanship. Can we really take no steps?

I love guns. I own a gun. I want to be able to own a gun.

I likewise mistrust the government. Governments, though necessary, must be kept in check as they inherently seek to accumulate power. A government unchecked inevitably yields a people oppressed.

Yet, can we really do nothing? Why don’t we quit squabbling and act?

Maybe it’s time to abolish the 2nd Amendment.

Before you burn me in effigy or brand me a liberal (sheesh), hear me out.

The Founding Fathers composed the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in a different time, a different epoch, and really, in a different nation.

Our nation has changed, fundamentally perhaps irreversibly.

The Fathers wrote the Constitution with a certain paradigm, through the prism of faith and the proliferation of the common grace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. All the Fathers were not Christians and all men of their day were certainly not of Christ, but the Gospel was taught and proliferated. The common grace of the Gospel is that its proliferation restricts sin. Where the Gospel is preached, things are just better.

We live today in a post-Christian nation. The Gospel is anathema to much of our country. The fastest growing religion is secular humanism and much of our nation is un-churched or de-churched, having walked from Christ years ago. A large and fast-growing segment of our nation is 2nd generation unchurched meaning that their parents were un-churched. They were not raised in the church or taught simple biblical concepts like sin, repentance, and salvation.

The Prince of the Power of the Air rules our nation today.

The Fathers could not have foreseen this when they composed the Bill of Rights.

Did they assume a nation that would drift this far from Christ? Did they assume we’d exchange the glory of God for a lie and worship and serve the created thing rather than the Creator?

Would they ever have anticipated widespread godlessness, that we would forsake the Lord and celebrate our sin? Could they have known that we’d slaughter our children in the womb by the tens of millions for the sake of convenience or that we’d embrace deviancy and fierce rebellion at every turn? Could they have foreseen the global and national epidemic of chemical addiction, addiction that enslaves a vast multitude?

Would they have written the 2nd Amendment as it is if they’d have known?

For reference, seven weeks into 2018 and there have been 8 school shootings resulting in injury or death. There have been 30 mass shootings overall this year, defined as a shooting whereby four or people have been shot.

Every year, it becomes ever more commonplace. Columbine. Virginia Tech. Orlando. Texas First Baptist Church. Las Vegas. San Bernardino. Sandy Hook. Aurora. Red Lake. The list goes on.

At some point this becomes sickeningly routine. At what point do we start counting this as the cost of a well-armed but largely godless population? What else would we expect?

I understand that this is a complicated issue. I understand that regulations already exist, that most gun-owners are law-abiding citizens. I understand the difference between a semi-automatic weapon and a fully automatic weapon and that criminals will always find ways to get a gun if they desire.

I truly understand these things but drastic times call for drastic measures. Perhaps its time to abolish the 2nd Amendment. Perhaps we no longer deserve the right to keep and bear arms.

Perhaps we surrendered that right the moment defense of that right receives more vigor and zeal than our call to make disciples of all the nations, starting with our children.

My heart weeps for our nation.

 

 

 

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

Podcast – Devotional With Dad – Episode 1

Devotional with Dad – Episode 01

Welcome to our first podcast.  This is a project I am starting with my ten year old son, Jaymes.  We will be doing a devotional everyday for 30 days from THE ACTION BIBLE.  If you haven’t seen it, this kids Bible is really cool, its illustrated like a graphic novel and goes through the bible chronologically.  My son truly enjoys bible study time now. Since I have been dabbling in building webpages and starting podcasts, I figured this was a great way to spend time together.

Our goal is to spend quality family time together as father and son in God’s Word.  I hope that you all enjoy this adventure too. Each episode will be a short intro, and then Jaymes reading his devotional, and then we will discuss after.  I hope that if you have kids Jayme’s age you will enjoy reading along or listening.  It is really amazing how God reveals truth to kids, Jaymes comes up with some fantastic wisdom as I’m sure your children will also.  So i encourage you to use this as an opportunity to spend quiet time together.

Now on to the episode!

 

Tricking the Trickster

Genesis 29

SHOW NOTES

In this episode we are reading Genesis 29. It is the story of Jacob and Laban, and how Jacob was tricked into marrying Leah, instead of Rachel.  On the surface it looks like Jacob was just out conned by a Laban, his Uncle.  But remember, Jacob himself was a master con-man.  He along with his mom, tricked his father Isaac into passing the Birthright, God’s blessing on to him, instead of his older brother Esau.  There is definitely a bit of “what comes around goes around.”

Really, when we look deeper in the story, all of this still had to happen to fulfill God’s promise to Abraham.  Its sometimes hard to see how God is at work even in the bad things to bring about good for His glory.  This is one of those seemingly small bible stories that quickly becomes very significant in the lineage of Christ.

Jaymes offers his insight to God’s plan at starting at 8:20.  It is fun to see how Jaymes figures out the moral of this story, and how “Don’t repay evil for evil” is a key take away to him.

What sticks out to you in this story? In what ways can we learn from Jacob and his situation?  Have you ever felt like you were conned or swindled out of something that you worked hard for and deserved?

Write your insights and comments below, we would love to hear from you!

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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.

  • 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

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