About bradleywbull

I married Connie Cruze in 1988. Our daughter, Delyn was born in 1996; son John-Clarke Leland in 2001. I was raised in Jefferson City, TN by my parents, Dr. Bernard and Barbara Bull. My sisters Benita and Bethany are 9 and 18 years younger than me. We had about 13 foster children over the years I was growing up. I hold a BA in psychology and concentration in creative writing from Carson-Newman College; a Master of Divinity majoring in pastoral counseling (1992) from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; a Ph.D. in Human Ecology majoring in child and family studies with a cognate in counseling from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. I also am an ordained Baptist minister and licensed marriage and family therapist. I have particular interests in family and media. I have a strange hobby of taking photographs of tombstones. (I actually use these pictures to teach students deductive and inductive skills to enhance counseling technique.) My favorite movies are The Sound of Music, A Few Good Men, Princess Bride, A Christmas Story, and It's a Wonderful Life. My favorite authors are Patrick McManus, Pat Conroy, David McCullough, and Tony Campolo.

The Courage to be Forgotten

Those of you who said my last such post (on Facebook) was helpful and wanted me to keep it up via a blog… well, you talked me into it.  Here is a new set of reflections:

(It will help follow this if you remember that Uriah was Bathsheba’s husband. Uriah refused to break military code and sleep with his wife while on active duty—which David had…encouraged…him to do to cover up David’s adultery. David then ordered Joab to kill Uriah by abandoning him in battle.)

I had to take Delyn to a 6:30 a.m. forensics trip bus in Morristown. Driving back I had these thoughts:

Last night I saw a PBS documentary on Steve Jobs. One of Jobs’ colleagues said, “Steve Jobs related to people in one of three ways. He was either seducing you, using you, or scourging you.”

Steve Jobs sounds a lot like another seducer, user, scourger: King David. One gave us I-Pods and one the 23rd Psalm. I love both of these, but… I’m wondering why abusive leaders get all the cool-sounding names and press.

I mean, poor Uriah. There’s a name that (sounding like a cross between urine and pariah) doesn’t translate well into English. But Uriah had more integrity in his pinky nail than David and Joab in all their glory. (And do we really want to be people like David and Joab who end up plotting against each other?)

Names. David means “beloved.” Joab means “God is father/[creator].” Uriah means “God is light.” Hmm. Uriah, I pick you. Yeah, I’m writing this on an Apple Mac, and I love to quote the 23rd Psalm. Hopefully that means God can take the jerkness in me and make good out of it. But, Uriah, I may QUOTE David, but I want to BE like you: true to my commitments regardless of the costs. You are largely forgotten, but YOU are the model to follow. Yes, you died young, but you died with integrity. Quality of life is so much better than quantity. Though both quality AND quantity of life are nice when possible… “better is one day in the [ways of the Lord] than a thousand elsewhere.”

Eureka. I suppose we all want to have a legacy, and we will go to great lengths to preserve at least the illusion of our idealized images of ourselves. But maybe Uriah left a better legacy—if not a more highly recorded legacy than King David, Joab, and Steve Jobs who created much heartache trying to protect their legacies. Yes, I will still love my Apple gadgets and quoting the 23rd Psalm. But given the choice between the legacy of David or the legacy of Uriah?

“God is light.” Without God’s light we cannot see love (David) or creation (Joab).

Uriah, on this playground, I pick you. Our team may lose, but we’ll have more fun at the 20-year reunion…while David is dealing with Absalom. “My father is peace.” Oh the irony of cover-ups to protect one’s legacy. Yeah, Uriah, you died young. But there are so many fates worse than death. And there are so many virtues more truly lasting than name-recognition. I didn’t feel compelled to explain the names of King David or Steve Jobs. But I felt compelled to remind people who you were, Uriah. Thank you for having one of the greatest courages of all: the courage to live and die in obscurity.

Morning Jog Revelations (As I Grieve the Loss of a Job I Loved)

I have a Facebook friend who said he was going to post a weekly picture of his weight to keep himself accountable. Inspired by him, I originally posted this on Facebook to do the same with my own “heaviness” challenge. Who knows, maybe this little blog will help one of you as you have helped me.

In church last week we watched the movie “58”—a film about extreme poverty. I was miserable. I told our associate pastor: “People keep telling me ‘God has a plan for you.’ But why would God have a plan for me that is better than the plan for them? I don’t DESERVE more than they have.”

Revelation #1: One of the featured women was living with five children in a hut smaller than my carport. But, swatting flies from her face, she was able to express the joy she had in Christ.

Revelation #2: Poverty is not God’s plan, it is an abomination that we must fight.

Revelation #3: I do not deserve more than a person in extreme poverty. But I OWE more. Many persons—such as my mother who delayed her retirement for three years to help make our house payment while I finished my PhD—have made many sacrifices to equip me. I owe it to them to and to that woman in that hut to be a good steward of my time, resources and talents. Getting a good job that fits my passions, training, and skill is not in my power; but looking for one is, and I DO NOT need to feel guilty about making the most of what I’ve been given.

Revelation #4: Sadness is OK. Grief is OK. Moping and self-defeating attitudes are not OK.

Revelation #5: “God, forgive me for resenting you for loving people I hate. Hurting people hurt people. Bless them in their hurt. Help me be faithful and loving.”

Revelation #6: Mean it like you want your kids to mean it: “We Bullls wobble but we don’t stay down.”

Thank you, high school history teacher John Toomey, for your “10 Commandments” that my sister found in her scrapbook the other day. I miss you, dear teacher. Yes, “the world can go on with out me” and “hard work never hurt anyone.” Thank you for writing in my high school annual: “For many people high school marks a setting of the sun; for you it is just beginning to rise.” Revelation #7: If I live to be 100, it’s not even noon yet.

Sure, there are going to be more challenges. But thanks Friends, Family, and Believers for your patient listening and encouragement during the low ebbs. Oh…thanks also to the producers of Nanny McPhee Returns; “lesson five, to have faith”…well, not “complete” but in progress.