Fight for your Country—Die for your Brother

No man dies for his country.

Forget about it.

It doesn’t happen.

Despite what the powers that be, the forces that shape attitudes and opinions in our country, would have you believe, patriotism only gets you so far. At some point, the glaring red rockets fade, the bombs no longer burst, and Old Glory falls limp in the dwindling breeze.

Patriotic fervor may drive a man to sacrifice…to a point.

Yet, no man dies for his country.

He may fight for it.

Why Fight (part I)

I’ve fought for our country, certainly.

It’s a train wreck. A dumpster fire. A disaster. Still I’ve fought.

Daily our country marches deeper into godlessness, abandoning the very foundation of the fabric of our society. Some cling desperately, but in vain, to a fading ethic. Others cling to the outworking of the Source, while denying the Source itself. “Righteousness” apart from He who is righteous, is no less godless than the outright rebellion of those who openly reject God.

America is a post-Christian nation, and has been for some time.

Still I fight.

America systematically slaughters the unborn to the tune of more than 60 million to date. Convenience and the abandonment of the biblical sexual ethic drives the slaughter. Can you imagine the deception of mothers fighting for the right to murder their babies? Still I’ll fight.

America defies the Creator and His created order at every turn. We reject the basic tenets of reality. Who could’ve foreseen pervasive gender confusion, this Orwellian idea that I can “identify” as whatever I like? God speaks early and clear, “Male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27) How could we have anticipated the normalization of sin and the desecration of even marriage. I must actually stipulate when talking about it…a union between one man and one woman. Sheesh.

Still I’ll fight.

We don’t normalize sin, we celebrate it…and you must too. Tolerance is not an acceptable middle-ground. We won’t accept a you-do-you-and-I’ll-do-me compromise. Nope. Not gonna work. We demand acclaim, not acquiescence. Laud them. Shower them with praise. Give them awards. Revere their courage. This is the only acceptable end-state.

Our nation sits under the judgement of God in our collective resolve to worship and serve the created thing rather than the Creator.

Our nation sits divided by an impossible ideological chasm, several of them actually. Yet, many remain convinced of God’s favor, a lingering manifest destiny that ignores the reality that America will one day be but a footnote in the salvation history of men.

And I’d fight again. It’s my country after all.

But die…C’mon.

Why Fight (Part II)

Where else you gonna go?

Seriously?

Granted, my world travels have taken me to quite a few garden spots around the globe, but I remain convinced of America’s greatness and why? My family lives here, for starters.

I don’t know much about the rest of the world, but I do love this nation. I just don’t like what she’s becoming. It’s not a sin, you know, to love your country. I love biscuits and gravy and country music. I love that we actually have tractor pulling contests. I love our great cities and vast countryside. I love that English spoken in rural Louisiana might not sound anything like English spoken in Boston.

I love the idea of America, the great hope she embodies. I love the American dream, that if I work hard I can become whatever I set out to be. I cherish rugged American individualism.

For all her flaws, all her warts, all her imperfections, I remain convinced of America’s greatness. Perhaps I’m biased.

But I’d fight for her again.

No matter your thoughts upon America’s greatness, wicked men conspire for her destruction. Evil men plot continuously to visit their destructive beliefs upon our families, our neighborhoods, our society and we have a choice, either stand opposed or yield. They’ll not relent.

I have fought, willingly, and would do so again.

Many others also may fight for their country.

No man dies for it. It’s much deeper than that.

Why Die (Part I)

I’ve never felt more alive than when marching lock-step into combat with my brothers.

The gruff, guttural chorus of engines coming on line. The whirring rotors. The driving sand. The airframes trembling in anticipation as the throttles are advanced to fly. The boys loading up, casually climbing aboard as if they were not about to descend from the dark sky onto the unsuspecting heads of our enemies, visiting death and judgement. Radio checks complete and the uneasy silence as the cocked fist of martial supremacy prepares to unleash hell and hellfire.

But it’s the men.

It’s the quiet confidence of the man on my left, the man on my right. It’s the company of heroes, the community of steel, the legion of warriors, those past, present, and future, warriors that embody an ideal, a code, a distinctive.

It’s the brotherhood.

It’s cliché, but it’s the brotherhood.

I recall, vividly, the details of a handful of combat missions. The rest blend into a nebulous morass of fuzzy memories punctuated by a few surprising details.

I recall the best stick of chewing gum I ever chewed, given to me by one of the boys while blasting across the Afghan desert, heading home after a long and hot day marauding.

Ice cold Rip-its taking the dust off an uber-sticky night. When hitching a ride in the back of a Chinook, the Ground Force Sergeant Major grabbing my cluelessly wandering self, sitting me down exactly where he wanted me, and plopping unceremoniously right into my lap. The wonderful taste of a ham-and-cheese omelet at the end of a long night.

Sleeping like the dead on an Army cot in an ice-cold sleep tent in the middle of the bright, desert day.

But, it’s really my brothers.

Why Die (Part II)

How could I ever capture the bond between fighting men?

How could I ever do justice to the sanctity of shared hardship, the mutual shedding of blood, the sacred fetters that these men have always known?

The kids name was Justin, a former infantryman, and now, for this mission, my crew chief. Put the boys in. Simple. Panjwai district, broad daylight, on top of 6-foot-tall hedgerows. No-so-simple.

Less than an hour later, we descended from the bright, desert sky onto the hedges, only one wheel down, maybe. Maybe we hovered. The boys jumped and disappeared into the foliage below. Less than a rotor disc away was one of those weird mud structures, easy to shoot from.

“Steady, steady,” Justin soothed over the ICS. “Hold, hold.” I could see nothing. My entire world shrunk to the few inches surrounding the flight controls. My eyes fixed on the building, a single plant blowing in the rotor wash. Time froze.

At that moment, at that time, Justin became my eyes. His bounced from the descending boys to the surrounding terrain, mini-gun ready to unleash fury. He was my eyes, my ears, my conscience, the rock of my existence.

My life rested in his hands…and his in mine. Completely, unambiguously, without hesitation.

I waited for the tell-tale crack, the spiral of an RPG. An eternity.

Those few eternal seconds embodied the sacred trust between men, the lifeblood of the brotherhood. I never doubted for an instant. I never waivered, what if Justin faltered? No. Our shared fellowship transcended concern for personal welfare.

In that moment, our country was the furthest thing from my mind. My only thought, in that instant, was to do my part for my brother, who was doing his part for me.

You see, no men die for their country. That’s for sentimentality and ceremonies.

But he may just die for his friend…or maybe his brother.

The Brave Rifles Series
Brave Rifles: The Problem of a Godless Army

Brave Rifles: The Danger of a Godless Army

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

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

Sex in a Godless Army (part 3): Do We Really Want Equality?

Affliction in a Godless Army: The Sins of Generals

Affliction in a Godless Army: An Army of Junkies

Affliction in a Godless Army: Suicide in the Heavy Rain

 

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 Good Dude—the Worst Kind of Dude

God’s ways are not our ways.

Nowhere is this revealed more than with the good dude.

Awesomeness Everywhere

For nearly 27 years, the Army surrounded me with good dudes.

The Army foments a stark dichotomy. The poorest performers I encountered often left me shaking my head and wondering, “Just where does a guy like this come from?”

The best guys were just that, the best. Amazing men. Patriots. Heroes, truly.

With much affection, I recall the various good dudes I served with. My first Platoon Sergeant set the bar high. My first First Sergeant raised it higher. Various warrant officers set the standard for professional excellence and competence. I worked for some of the most motivated and intelligent officers that you can imagine. Peers of mine will no doubt be general officers soon, deservedly so.

My tenure in specops further elevated the standard.

My first commander in the regiment advised me that, if I didn’t do anything, took no action at all, the men would just go ahead and accomplish the mission, even without me. They knew what to do, far more than me. They were self-motivated, self-starters, driven to perfection. How to lead such men?

Where else could I give a young officer purview over a handful of men and tens of millions of dollars of equipment and dispatch him around the globe to accomplish any number of missions with minimal oversight or guidance? These were all good dudes, committed to the most serious and challenging missions.

I sought to emulate them. Reputation means everything in the community.

          “You know such and such?”

          “Yep, good dude.”

A pipe-hitter. A trusted agent. A fire-and-forget kind of guy.

I put my life in their hands. They put their lives in mine as we accomplished the nation’s business. These were some of the finest men I’ve had the privilege to know.

Awesomeness Personified

I recall with much fondness, the greatest soldier I served alongside.

He was a man of integrity, a man of commitment, a man of honor. He was a good dude. If I still cussed, he’d be a good ****’n dude.

He loved his wife and she loved him. He loved their daughters and they loved him. Apart from the Army, he was the quintessential family man, loving and committed to his family and their well-being. They adored him.

At work, he was the picture of composure, unflappable in any circumstance. This man could make anything happen, accomplish anything, motivate men to accomplish anything. He loved the soldiers and they knew it and they loved him for it.

In the years I knew him, he never once raised his voice in anger, didn’t have to. The men just knew to respond. He always, and I do mean always, did the right thing, no matter how great or how small. Walk past a piece of garbage on the ground? No way. Walk past a soldier not doing the right thing? No way.

He was absolutely committed to the defense of the nation and the care of soldiers. He sacrificed, never asking them to do that which he did not expect of himself. I’d follow this man through the very gates of hell.

He was a good dude.

And to my eternal and undying shame, I never once told this man about the risen Lord Jesus…

     …why would I? He’s a good dude, right?

Not Awesome

It’s easy with dirtbags. They obviously need Jesus.

The blatantly wicked make it just as easy.

The woman celebrating her umpteenth abortion, exalting in the death of her own children at her own hand— this is obvious wickedness that must be condemned. She obviously needs Jesus.

The man publicly celebrating his sexual perversion, demanding affirmation from everyone else and denouncing any form of disagreement—this is overt evil that must be condemned and confronted. This man definitely needs Jesus.

People living openly sinful lives, unabashedly and unashamedly, rejecting all things good and godly and mocking the things of God—they are clearly children of wrath who need, above all else, the Gospel of the risen Lord Jesus.

Liberal snowflakes who hate guns and America and want to take away your freedom of speech while aborting every baby, transferring all of your money to illegal immigrants, and forcing you to use a public restroom alongside drag queens while safely squirreled away in their college safe space—they need Jesus!

But what about the ‘good’ dude?

The good dude, the good man, the trusted agent—he makes things just a bit tougher.

Awesome God

It’s really very easy.

There are no good dudes.

Both John and Paul remind us that we are either of Christ or we are not, and if we are not of Christ, we are of the world and our father is the Devil. (1 John 5:19, 2 Corinthians 4:4, Ephesians 2:1-3, John 3:19)

Isaiah tells us that our righteousness, our very best, is as a filthy rag in the eyes of the Lord, used menstrual garments at its most literal. (Isaiah 64:6)

Paul teaches us that all men have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. There is no one righteous, not a single one. No one seeks after God, no one. (Romans 3)

In short, there are no good dudes.

I don’t know if my friend knew the Lord or not. He never once mentioned God. He never attended church that I knew of. His life bore no fruit of salvation in any way. He could’ve been a ‘closet Christian’ I reckon, as if there were such a thing, but from every outward appearance, he did not know the Lord Jesus.

And I never took it upon myself to introduce him…

…he was just such a good, freak’n dude.

Nothing is Awesome

I resolutely denounce works-based righteousness.

I’ll stand and declare the Gospel with all of its authority, with all of its teeth, that God saves men in spite of themselves and their wickedness. In eternity past, God set His affections on a people, and He is in the business of calling them to Him, and all that the Father has given to the Son, will be saved.

He does this in spite of their sin, in spite of their utter inability to save themselves, that no man may boast. He does this to His own glory.

My friend is a sinner…in need of a savior.

Underneath his righteousness, rather, all of his righteous acts, resides a deeply flawed and sinful heart. He is dead in his sin, bound for eternal destruction. His goodness won’t save him. His deeds won’t save him. The acclaim of men, that he is a good dude, will definitely not save him.

Only the grace of the Lord through the shed blood of Christ on the cross can save him. But how will he believe unless someone is to go and tell him these things?

My failure to witness to my friend reveals a sense of unbelief on my behalf. I know these things to be true. I know what the Bible says about works and righteousness yet…he’s just such a good dude!

God would never stand in judgement over a dude as good as this. Unfortunately I know, in my heart of hearts, this not to be the case. Scripture well affirms that,

Hell is full of good dudes.

Are you yourself a good dude?

Let us vow to never let man’s idea of righteousness trump the universal need of all men, the need for salvation, no matter how ‘good’ they may be. I wonder if I still have my friends phone number…

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!

In Transition: I’m a Veteran…Quick, Tell Me How Great I Am

Affirmation is a powerful opiate.

Facebook knows this.

So does LinkedIn and Instagram and Twitter et. al. I mean, they’re all the same people, but Zuckerberg and company long ago deciphered the secret.

Napoleon knew it too. “A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon,” he remarked while being taken into exile on St. Helena.

The U.S. Army knows it. What men won’t do for a bit of colored ribbon.

How might we act when the ribbons run out?

Military Affirmation

At some point, most Army officers begin to look like Mexican generals.

I was a freshly-minted lieutenant on my first assignment, when our unit had it’s battalion formal. Like a good LT, I assembled my uniform and brought it to work for inspection. 1SG McCool was your typical salty, old-school First Sergeant. He examined my uniform, nodded his head, pointed to my whopping total of 2 ribbons, and coolly remarked, “You’re some kind of f***’n hero, huh, Sir?” before strolling off, leaving me in a pool of my shattered manhood.

But the ribbons came…in bunches over the years.

I recall my excitement upon receiving an Army Commendation Medal 12 months later as a PCS award for doing my job. Many had to settle for an Army Achievement Medal which is, you know, like one less. A second PCS generated another ARCOM and even a Humanitarian Service Medal for, you guessed it, doing my job.

The war opened the floodgates. Ribbons flowed like wine and the medals flocked like the salmon of Capistrano. Air medals. Meritorious Service Medals. And the brass ring of hubris, the Bronze Star: all awarded for…doing our jobs.

And men jockeyed for them. Buddies submitted buddies for ribbons. Soldiers in unusual occupational specialties sought to “get outside the wire” for a bit of excitement and perhaps a medal. Ground guys hitched a ride in an aircraft, “performed duties”, and received Air Medals.

The Pentagon even invented a badge, the Combat Action Badge, the epitome of every-soldier-gets-a-trophy, the requirement being that the enemy “engaged” you. That’s it. Define “engage.”

          “So let me get this straight, the enemy mortared the base and you want a Combat Action Badge.”

          “Yes Sir. I deserve it.”

          “I guess we’ll have to submit one for the other 5,000 soldiers stationed here.”

Entitlement replaced expectation, so powerful is the need for affirmation.

The military ribbon is a symbol of affirmation, never mind if accomplishments are real or imagined. If they’re on the rack, it must’ve happened. Throw in some skill badges, maybe Air Assault or Airborne, and bam! Looking good. Instant hero. Let the praises flow.

After nearly 23 years, my ribbon rack looked pretty decent despite the fact that I really only felt as if I’d earned one, my Army Commendation Medal for being a rear detachment commander. No matter.

Pride is a powerful motivator, with the need for affirmation as a willing accomplice. It wasn’t the ribbons themselves, it was what they symbolized, the acclaim of men. And it’s effective.

Never mind what I’m asking you to do—deploy repeatedly and be absent from your family for years on end—here’s a ribbon. Now get on the plane.

Seeking Affirmation

Social media is a powerful influence in our society.

Affirmation is it’s fuel.

Consider the idea of ‘likes’, until a few years ago, a completely foreign concept. Harness man’s innate desire for the approval of other men, give them a platform for obtaining that approval via a tangible ‘like’ or even better, a ‘share’, and watch usage skyrocket.

Brilliant.

They’ve marketed affirmation as a commodity and like any commodity, some attempt to acquire it illegitimately.

You can buy ‘likes’. Did you know that?

I’ve always felt sorry for the stolen valor dudes.

You’ve seen these guys. They dress up in military uniforms, despite never having served or having served in a ‘lesser’ capacity, and then parade themselves seeking, you guessed it, affirmation.

An entire cottage industry exists in ‘outing’ these guys. Some veterans are so offended by the idea of ‘stolen’ valor—as if true valor could be stolen—that they confront the offenders and publicly shame them on the internet.

But men desire acclaim. It is natural to seek the praises of other men.

Men need affirmation, particularly in their vocation, from where so many find their worth in the first place.

A New Reality

In some ways, the civilian sector is harsher than the military.

The bottom line rules. The ability to generate revenue drives everything in our capitalistic system.

There are no service awards, no awards formations. You’ll not receive the acclaim of men by what you wear on your ‘uniform’. No one cares what you did yesterday, but what have you done for me lately.

For years, you’ve been told how special you are. You’ve been lauded for your sacrifice, honored for your service, praised for your commitment. You have the ribbons to prove it.

For years, you’ve received a healthy and regular dose of affirmation.

What will you do when that is no more?

True Affirmation

Let’s talk about acclaim.

As I have died to sin and self and been raised to a newness of life in Christ, I no longer serve myself. I do everything unto the Lord. (Colossians 3:23) Ultimately, I labor on behalf of the Lord. I love on behalf of the Lord. I father on behalf of the Lord.

As Paul writes, “we make it our aim to please him.” (2 Corinthians 5:9) We reject the empty and hollow praises of men, knowing that the fickle hearts of men often reject that which they have previously praised. We reject the need for worldly affirmation and rest in the promise of one day hearing the gentle words of our Father, “well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23)

Knowing this, what more could I need?

I recall feeling similarly about football helmet stickers.

I was a decent high school player and our team awarded little white skull stickers to paste on our maroon helmets for good plays. At the conclusion of Thursday practice, the coach would assemble us and hand out the stickers in front of the entire team. Then, you could wear the stickers on your helmet for everyone to know what a standout you were.

I was decent, but not as good as Woods. He battled through a knee injury and missed the first few games of his senior season. His first game back, he killed it, terrorizing our opponents, worthy of more than a few stickers. I sure bet he was excited to start filling up his otherwise plain maroon helmet.

And sure enough, he received several stickers and as the coach dismissed us, I looked over at Woods who had casually dropped his stickers to the ground and was grinding them into the mud with his cleats in disgust. I was shocked.

Woods had no need for the acclaim of men. As my coach used to say, he let his pads to the talking.

May we all let our pads do the talking.

Now, if you’ll just share this post please and maybe even comment about how excellent it was, I’d be very appreciative.

In Transition: Series

Time and the Transitioning Warrior

I wanted a mission…

Veteran, It’s Not All About You (me)

Round is a Shape

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!

In Transition: Round is a Shape

Transition yields transformation.

For years, the warrior conformed himself to a certain standard, been pounded into the mold. Now, with fewer constraints, he is free to make himself into that which he desires. Many plan for years prior to retirement, creating a vision of themselves and then reshaping themselves into that image.

Often it’s vocationally driven. Some commit to a particular profession and conform to a new standard. I have a couple of friends on Wall Street, suits and all. Some enter law enforcement and adopt their quasi-military standards. Small business. Industry. Coaching. Teaching. Private sector. 

Whatever the field of endeavor, interestingly their first order of business is often to grow out their facial hair or all of their hair, fostering a distinct homeless vibe. Testing the possible, I reckon.

For 26, nearly 27 years, I conformed to the image that the Army demanded of me, begrudgingly. Upon retirement, I entered full-time ministry, as I had prayed about for years.

And what did I become?

Fat.

I became fat.

This was my transformation.

Is that appropriate for a pastor? Easy!

Fat Origins

Ever since this kid pushed me in homeroom in 7th grade, I wanted to be big.

A naturally wiry kid, I wrestled the 98 pound weight class in 9th grade and didn’t have to cut weight. So I stopped wrestling, started lifting, and ate everything I could get my hands on. Everything. Shakes were my thing, peanut butter shakes, with ice cream, and five raw eggs, and a scoop of protein powder, two scoops.

I recall a 22 taco binge once.

Amino Acids. Weight gainer. Creatine.

I didn’t try juice because of cowardice, not any moral convictions. I was afraid I might get caught, but my efforts worked. In three years, I doubled my body weight, in a good way, and earned a starting position on the football team as a reward for my labors.

And I never got pushed in home room anymore.

New Fat

I believe I’ve handled the transition pretty well thus far…or am handling it, rather. You’ll have to ask my wife to be sure.

From the army to the pastorate of a small church, I went from structure and rigidity to having absolute flexibility in my life. I possess near complete autonomy with few external demands. I help homeschool my sons, minister to my congregation, write a bit, get a lift in when able.

I’ve definitely felt a little lost at times as I’ve written about previously, but seem to be coming out of that as I’ve reshaped my priorities. Rather, the Lord has been doing a work in me, conforming my desires to His.

We even successfully negotiated housebreaking a new puppy with no meltdown from me. A few close calls, but no meltdown.

But food.

I’ve always had a pretty big appetite, tempered by a modicum of necessary self discipline, but since retirement, I’ve noticed an unusual condition.

I eat every single thing I get my hands on. Everything!

An entire large pizza. No problem. Chips and salsa until I’m on the cusp of yacking. Sure, I’ll eat a salad, but I’ll chase it later with an entire can of Pringles. An extra sandwich at Chik Fil-a. French fries and did I mention pizza. I actually eat, inhale really, a double Bacon King from BK and then go home and eat dinner. Two chocolate chip cookies from Starbucks. Not one. Two.

Cheat day after cheat day.

My generous daughter left two candy bars on my desk the other day. Without hesitation, I destroyed them both in less than a minute.

I can’t explain it. I’m not sure why, but my gluttony seems to know no bounds.

Army Fat

I’ve never been a runner.

In fact, I hate running, distance that is. Doesn’t contribute to my objective. Detracts even.

The only thing I hated more than running were scranny Army officers who made me run. While serving in the division, our commanding general was one of these runners (I say as I spit onto the floor and wipe my mouth unceremoniously!). He weighed about a buck thirty soaking wet and could run till the cows come home and took great pride in taking his officers out for a leisurely jog at a nightmarish pace.

Run for your job, literally.

Nearly vomiting, white foam forming at the corners of my mouth, stumbling, gaggling—I always managed to keep up, barely. I used to fantasize about locking this man in a sweet rear-naked choke or lining him up on the deadlift bar, seeing how much gumption he possessed when confronted with his own weakness.

But standards are standards. Requirements are requirements.

And so I ran, some, and I maintained a bit of discipline in my food consumption, as I must. Had to make body fat standards—I never even sniffed the height-weight standards—and had to score reasonably well on the APFT.

Much as the common grace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ restrains sin, so the Army actively restrained my gluttony, though I wasn’t even aware of it. I should’ve seen it coming, especially since…

Future Fat

God gave me a precursor.

After my second knee surgery, I finally relented to a permanent profile. Run at your own distance and pace which, for me, meant never.

“Train me like an aging defensive tackle,” I directed my strength coach. If it was within a 10 meter radius, I wanted to be able to close with and destroy it as rapidly as possible. Outside 10 meters, I’d concede for another day. My body began to respond accordingly and I began to look…like an aging defensive tackle.

If I thought the Bod Pod was devilish, the trainers’ new electrical impedance device was an absolute nightmare.

Whereas the Bod Pod utilized air displacement to let you know just how much blubber you were carrying around, this new device actually ran a current through you and could tell exactly where your blubber was located on your body.

There’s nothing like being confronted with cold, hard data.

Here’s your percentage.

Do the math.

Realize you are carrying around the equivalent of a 4 year old child’s worth of lard…and the majority of it resides in your gut.

“It takes mass to move mass,” Mike, the head strength coach, tried to console me. After a bit more cajoling, he talked me off the ledge and I headed back to the weight pile. Still gotta get a lift in.

The Dream: Fat no More

6 months.

25 pounds…not good pounds.

The collusion of gluttony and idolatry—my worship of physical strength—inflamed by the absence of restraint yielded the expected result. All of this masked the prideful heart deep beneath my newest layer of blubber.

I confided about my struggle to some brothers, ex-military themselves. Seems this isn’t unique to me. Change wrought this unexpected development. My vigilance, focused elsewhere, failed to anticipate something so simple, but so unsurprising.

Though if this is the extent of the struggle, I’ll count myself blessed. My wife likes me big. My kids don’t really care. A hefty Baptist pastor seems appropriate. As long as I can maintain physical domination of my sons, or the appearance thereof, then we’ll call it success. I have a few years to that regard.

Yet, Monday will be six months exactly. Perhaps it’s time to get tighten up the shot group…but not till Monday. My daughter made cheesecake tonight.

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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