Christian Politics – Addressing the Elephant in the Room

Let me start by saying that I am both a stereotype and an anomaly. I’m a 40-something, Caucasian, male pastor from a middle-class, suburban neighborhood. I have advanced college degrees and have attended church regularly for the past 42 years. I’ve been faithfully married to the same beautiful woman for 20 years, with whom I have two kids, two dogs and sometimes a fish. I’m part of the biker community. My family loves to eat food from Chick-Fil-A.
 
All factors put me in the stereotypical profile of a conservative Republican. But I’m not. I’m far from it — and it hasn’t made life easy. I used to be a Republican — back when Republicanism aligned more with scripture. Daily life would certainly be easier for me if I’d just succumb to the societal norm of being a supporter of Donald Trump and the new brand of Republicanism.
 
I’m shocked at how many people still believe that Christianity and today’s Republicanism are mutually exclusive. I still wrestle with the fact that I love Jesus and try to obey God’s Word, yet don’t fit nicely into the political tribe that some want, even demand, that I be in. I tried to rehabilitate myself by praying. I read and studied the Bible. I earned a seminary degree in the hopes that an in-depth Biblical interpretation would align my faith and knowledge of God with my earthly political ideologies. I spent an entire month watching nothing but Fox News exclusively. I truly wanted to change. My life would be so much easier if I could comfortably fit myself into the Republican profile that society wants, and in which 81 percent of evangelical Christians believe I should be.
  • I wouldn’t have been called a heretic — by a Christian.
  • I wouldn’t have been called a baby killer, self-righteous and a “libtard” — all by Christians.
  • I wouldn’t have to pretend to be a Trump supporter at biker rallies for my own physical safety.
  • I wouldn’t have lost relationships with Christian friends and relatives that I genuinely love and care for.

I think we can all agree this political season has been the most polarizing, offensive, petty, ridiculous display of politics in recent history. We have leaders of the most powerful country in the world displaying behavior that most of us would immediately correct in a small child. We have sacrificed the virtues of humility, honesty, understanding, and self-reflection to fight for the last word. So, I hope we can all start from a place of agreement on at least that front.

I will say with no apologies that our president is a vulgar narcissist, confessed sexual assault perpetrator, serial adulterer, unrepentant liar, misogynist, and demonstrates an evident lack of impulse control. I say this not to judge him personally, but to add a dose of reality to our situation and to question whether Christians should be hitching their wagon to this type of behavior. The reality is that non-believers are watching — and instead of seeing the endless love of Jesus Christ, they see Christians falling on their swords to promote a human-made ideology that is represented by a person and flock that look nothing like Jesus and his disciples.
 
Before your political reflexes engage with a retort of “All presidents do it — look at Clinton, and don’t get me started on JFK.”  Satan has provided us with this dangerous “whataboutism” as an escape hatch from challenging our own critical thinking and ensuring that our values, including political, are aligned with God. Our political ideologies should ALWAYS be tested — by others and most importantly, ourselves. Political platforms of each party change wherever the political wind blows, what was once a Democratic stance sometimes morphs into a Republican platform and vice versa — yet God’s Word never changes.
 
Satan has duped us into morphing our political ideologies into our identities — we have lost the ability to talk about issues without it being a personal affront to our character. So, we react with stereotyping, labeling, and insulting each other. We replace intelligent debates by deflecting to “whataboutism.” We take the convenient accountability opt-out of telling others that “we don’t like Trump’s style but we like his platforms,” failing to realize that his platforms are often completely contrary to Biblical teachings.
 
This has led to one of Satan’s most significant victories of modern times — making most Christians and non-believers alike believe that conservative Republicanism is synonymous with Christianity. It’s never been more evident than when conservative Christians bend over backward to defend the vitriol of Donald Trump because there is an “R” after his name. While the “R” stands for Republican, Christians assume it also stands for “redeemed,” while in some circles, the “D” stands for “demonic.” Intelligent, reasonable Christians provide instant, unquestioned grace to anyone who shares their political ideology, yet deny the same or less grace to those without the redeeming “R” attached to their name.
 
Why is this? Why have very intelligent and spiritual people, who confess to loving Jesus, distorted what He stands for? They’ll just tell you straight up, “We’re willing to put up with the debauchery, public vitriol, cussing and the chaos of the White House and the bombast and some of the idiocy if he just appoints the right people to the Court and does a couple of other things.”
 
Jesus was crazy radical in his life on earth — he elevated and championed women, blasted through racial barriers, cared for immigrants, and was the most socially frustrating religious leader in history because he regularly hung out with people who were outside the church’s norm. He was the most radical champion of equality in history, for these reasons, but more so because he came to save the entire world. Not just the Jews or the well-behaving, “Godly” people. Every. Single. Person. We are called to do the same. If a political party never bound Jesus, why should we allow one to bind us, his followers?
 
If we’re Christian, we must be pro-human. And in my opinion that means we should be pro-equality, pro-women, pro-immigrant, and pro-minorities and pro-environment. We cannot choose our wealth over the care and protection of the poor and vulnerable. Being pro-life does not begin and end with abortion. 
 
Satan has used politics to divide the nation, but more importantly, to damage and divide the church. We’ve latched onto a political party as if it were a denomination, refusing to question its ideology or its highest representatives. We’ve shamed people away from exploring topics and conversations like homosexuality, racial inequality, feminism and gender roles, wealth, and the proper role government should have in legislating morality and faith.
 
This is an uncomfortable subject. It’s uncomfortable knowing that a percentage of those who read this will vehemently disagree with me, leading to additional uncomfortable dialogue and insults towards me – which are hurtful – every single time. However, we all need to reside in environments where we may disagree, where we aren’t frightened to ask hard questions of ourselves because we may find our political ideology doesn’t align precisely with what we’ve been told it should. We should try together to create space where we can explore political issues from a biblical standpoint, even if it means correcting and rebuking our church or political party in the process.
 
We’re all part of God’s Kingdom and brothers and sisters in Christ. We’re all Americans. I am not attempting to convince every Christian to immediately vote Democrat — in fact, I couldn’t care less about who you vote for. However, I do care about our mandate of fulfilling the Great Commission. I care about how Christians are perceived, as it is vital to leading others to salvation. We’re often the only “Bible” that some unbelievers will ever read. Are they reading the true love of Jesus through you or is there an elephant or donkey blocking their view of the magnificence of God?
 
 
Brandon Moser is the President & CEO of the Holy Discontent Motorcycle Ministry (HolyDiscontent.org) and a pastor at his local church. He is currently completing his doctoral studies in Christian counseling and divinity.

All thoughts in this article are Brandon’s and do not represent any applicable ministries.
For additional articles by Brandon, click here.

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Do Your Spiritual Efforts Bear Fruit?

Let me tell you about Devin. He worked in a department that I led and was one of the most intelligent people I’d ever met. He was a natural academic with a critical-thinking ability that is rarely seen. Devin studied history and   literature as a hobby and applied that same detailed-effort in his work. He proactively read and comprehended manuals and policies that most people should know but don’t. Yes, I’m confident that Devin read every “Terms and Conditions” agreement that he’s ever come across.

Some of us strive to be like Devin in our faith. We’ll go to church every time the door is open. We’ll be a part of as many Bible studies as we can. We’ll memorize scripture and read our daily devotion. We may not even stop there – we may go as far as to read different biblical versions to understand the nuances of scripture. We’ll watch some Andy Stanley online and then have a Joyce Meyer nightcap as we drift off to sleep.
 
Holy smokes! That’s a great follower of Jesus, right? It’s a great foundation, but as Romans 2:13 says, “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.”
 
I haven’t told you everything about Devin. I had to fire him. Although Devin was a wealth of information, he was evaluated by his output, not his input. He didn’t produce much. He was doing a lot of learning but not a lot of earning. There was no return on investment in his position.

“For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” – James 1:23-25
 

Jesus wants us to be fed. But he also wants us to display the fruit of the Holy Spirit. He wants us to help fulfill theGreat Commission. Often, we fall into a trap where we get so consumed with holy endeavors that we don’t realize that we’ve unknowingly entered a bubble where we’re just feeding ourselves. We’re like a mother bird who goes to gather food for her children but consumes it all herself. It’s rarely intentional – but it is that “frog in the pot” situation that sneaks up on us.   It’s always important to be immersed in God’s Word. But just like Devin, does your output validate the energy expended on your input? That’s a challenging question for most of us, myself included. If you’re ready to get an external return on your internal investment, here are some ideas:

  • Serve at your church. Recent studies show that only 40% of active churchgoing members serve in their church. Are you an owner in your church, or just a consumer?
  • Apply what you’ve learned. Are we applying God’s Word to our everyday life or just consuming God’s Word? That’s a terrifying question to answer honestly. We’re sinners. We’re imperfect. We’re going to fall short. As reading a book about NASA doesn’t make one an astronaut, reading the Bible is not one’s ticket to eternal life. “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” – James 1:22
  • Respectfully challenge false teachings. While the intent is usually good, God’s Word is being distorted and twisted to fit worldly, political or personally convenient ideologies. I could write a blog just on this subject, but I’m not going to kick that beehive – yet. If you have invested in genuinely understanding scripture, you are equipped to lovingly and respectfully provide your in-depth understanding of what the scripture means and does not mean. Iron sharpens iron. We all can interpret scripture out of context – so do everything to avoid appearing self-righteous.
  • Give grace, don’t just consume it. We can fall into the trap of consuming grace without the critical output of giving it to others. Romans 2:11 reminds us that God does not show favoritism with his grace. We are often more discerning with who we choose to give grace to, which is often driven by our own set of values and our social or political affiliations. While grace might be distributed in abundance for someone on our team, it may not be administered in the same fashion (or at all) to others who don’t roll in the same circles we do.
We are all trying to understand God’s Word. But are we making His truth count? It’s not enough to only read the Bible. We must also study it, memorize Scripture, reflect on it and, finally, apply it. Only then will we produce fruit that will last.
 
 
Brandon Moser is the President & CEO of the Holy Discontent Motorcycle Ministry (HolyDiscontent.org) and a pastor at his local church. He is currently completing his doctoral studies in Christian counseling and divinity.
 
For additional articles by Brandon, click here.

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Christian Trolls Don’t Save Souls

I recently spent an entire weekday reading posts and articles on social media. While that may commonplace for 14% of the nation’s workforce, it’s a rarity in my life. My day of surfing the social media waves was focused on seeing how Christianity is represented in the vitriolic cesspool that is now called social media. I finished my day on social media disappointed and saddened on how many portray Jesus, and Christianity online.

I often saw the precious name of Jesus and Christianity used not to love, but to troll, judge, correct, condemn and insult. Oftentimes, Bible verses were selectively (and inaccurately) being used as ammunition for meaningless attempts to validate whatever viewpoint fits one’s own personal or political narrative. While in the attempt to persuade others and achieve online victory, Christians are oftentimes becoming stumbling blocks to leading others to Christ. It’s not intentional. It can happen to anyone. I’ve fallen into social media traps. But, we need to admit we fall prey to it and correct it.

If you’ve spent much time online, you’ve probably encountered the quintessential comment-section dumpster fire: profanity, non-sequiturs, personal attacks, condescending Wonka memes. You’ve wondered, while gazing at the apocalyptic meltdown of the public forum, “How did it ever come to this?”  But truth be told, the road from responsible cyber citizen to raging troll is short and well-traveled, and many of the latter are unaware they’ve vacated the former. Therefore, before we assume which of these two camps we occupy, let’s take heed lest we fall (1 Cor. 10:12). Someday we truly will “give account for every careless word” (Matt. 12:36–37). Followers of Jesus can’t afford to tweet haphazardly.


Here are three ways to ensure that your online conversation is “gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col. 4:6).

 

1. Consume and Digest Slowly

Many social media threads spin out of control because people neglect to read the article before commenting. I’ve seen users attack articles that support their opinions, and commenters I know to be biblically sound defend heretical content- all because they only read the title, or watched the first 30 seconds of the video and assumed (wrongly) they knew what the rest would say.
As Proverbs tells us, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion” (Prov. 18:2). “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame” (Prov. 18:13).

2. Use Your Words. Not Your Emotions.

As any counselor will assure you, there is a world of difference between saying “You made me feel X,” and “When you said Y, I felt X.” When someone’s words affect us emotionally, we often forget the words and only remember the emotions. When we respond to our own emotions instead of the actual words said (or typed, or tweeted), we misrepresent the speaker’s character and opinions.

Before you comment or tweet a reply, craft it based on what has been said, not just how you felt in response. You may find that a response isn’t even necessary. Fortunately, social media is well-suited for this kind of measured and exact conversation, since words are usually available to re-read or re-hear as many times as needed.

 
3. Cultivate Empathy

The public forum’s transition from the real world to cyberspace has come at great cost, and that cost is measured in human empathy. Social media has turbo-charged our ugly narcissistic qualities where we seek to be understood before we seek to understand. Sometimes based on one comment, people are stereotyped personally, politically & spiritually into a profile of a person we think they are. More often than not, they do not fit into the box they’ve put in. But, that doesn’t stop people from attacking that persona and ignoring the human being.

In the digital world, we no longer see others as human beings – but as an avatar that represents a human being. This creates a “social media courage” that we wouldn’t have in real, face-to-face conversations. In the digital world, we must decide to be empathetic. We must choose to believe there is a being endowed with the image of God on the other side of the screen. We must weigh our words as if they truly do hold the power of life and death (Prov. 18:21), and as if Almighty God really did entrust that power to us for the purpose of building others up (Eph. 4:29). 


Social media has become an intimate part of our lives, but is in no way private. Everything we share in the digital space is available to anyone with an internet connection. The Hispanic family down the street can hear us dismissing their hardships in trying to give their children a better life. The struggling mom seeking to find hope in this world after losing a child to gun violence. Someone in your social network who is suffering and looking for meaning in life. Knowing that you are a Christian, would these people see the love, empathy and acceptance of Jesus Christ through you – or would they see something else? 

 

The world is listening, church. What will they hear?
 

 

 

Brandon Moser is a pastor, the President & CEO of the Holy Discontent Motorcycle Ministry (HolyDiscontent.org). He is currently completing his doctoral studies in Christian counseling and divinity.

 

 
 
 

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An Epic Fail That Leads to Sin: Fear

Fear-based stress is a primary trigger for potential sinful behavior. I’ve struggled with fear-based stress since I was a teenager. My primary pastime was worrying. I’d worry about everything. When I couldn’t find anything to worry about, I’d stress myself out by worrying about what I “should” be worrying about. In hindsight, it’s tragic how much joy that I denied myself by choosing to retreat into my own head fearing the future. Only after decades of fear-based worry, I realized that my constant outlook on the future wasn’t one of hope and joy, but of impending doom. Even when life was going great, I’d still live in my private internal prison of fear. Whether it was finances, career, or relationships, I allowed Satan to keep me scared.

Fear can be equated to a lack of faith in God. That was a hard pill for me to swallow as I have had a relationship with Jesus for most of my life. In Matthew 14, Peter has faith in Jesus too. Yet, a faithful Peter feared leaving the boat and walking on the water with Jesus. It was only in hindsight did Peter truly have faith that Jesus would take care of him outside the boat. The Holy Spirit tells me what Jesus told Peter, Oh ye of little faith, why did you doubt?

During my times of fear, my temptation to sin was exponentially higher. I’m not alone – most people’s temptation to sin is much greater when Satan is tugging at our emotions and picking at our vulnerabilities. When fear or stress is our trigger to sin, sin often becomes our comforter. When we aren’t looking to Jesus first, we often run to sin for temporary relief from the fear – knowing that the relief is only short-term. The sin could be binge-eating, substance abuse, pornography, gambling, overspending or other harmful behaviors. Those temporary, sinful comforts take on an addictive quality. The stress from which we are temporarily relieving ourselves from is multiplied by the shame our sinful “remedy” creates.

My chosen remedy had always been to overeat. I developed a serious food insecurity fear in my pre-teen years. Although there was never an instance as a child where we went to bed hungry, I was always terrified of it. This fear grew into an overall financial insecurity that I struggled with most of my adult life. To this day,  my most terrifying fear in life is that one of my children ever goes to bed hungry. To relieve myself from the insecurity, my sinful respite was to overeat. An overly hearty meal was a temporary safe haven to escape the demons of fear that Satan used to control me. Satan knows our emotional weaknesses and will unmercifully exploit them.

However, my primary weakness wasn’t overeating. My weakness was that I didn’t have enough faith that God would provide for me or my family. Sure, I said I had faith. But remember Peter? When it was time to step out of his boat, his faith wasn’t as strong as he thought it was either. Faith can’t be faked.

God doesn’t hesitate to teach His followers “the hard way” when necessary. When I began preparing for ministry three years ago, our family income dropped by more than 80%. At that time, I still carried a strong fear of financial doom into my path of ministry. As I progressed through divinity school, we’ve lived paycheck to paycheck – when we’ve been lucky. During the last three years, there were days where I’ve felt overwhelming gratefulness when I could leave a grocery store with a full cart of groceries, or the rare soothing comfort of filling a gas tank all the way to the “F”. God put me in a position to heal my insecurity weaknesses by putting me in a constant state of financial uneasiness. God not only taught me that He was always the provider, but that He would never let us go hungry. Even in times where we had close to nothing, God would come through with an unexpected blessing, every time, and take care of us. In times of unrelenting financial uncertainty, my faith that God will provide has ushered in a new peace that I never could have obtained without these hard times. This direct, yet harsh, lesson from God has been more valuable than anything that I learned in seminary. 
 


There is good news. Everyone doesn’t need to learn faith the hard way – unless you’re a stubborn, thick-headed control freak like me. To increase your faith, you may just need to address irrational fears. Here are some ways you can do that:

• Pray. This one seems obvious, but have you truly cried out to Jesus when facing a fear?      
     “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” – Proverbs 18:10         
     “I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.” – Psalm 34:4

 
• Cling to God’s Word. In those dark moments of fear and irrational thoughts, God’s Word is a light, speaking peace and unfolding the truth.
     “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” – Psalm 119:105
 
• Surrender to God. Remember who God is, and who you are – His child. He is worthy to be trusted. God is beyond faithful. He has never broken a promise. He never will.
     “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

 

When fear subsides, you’ll find that the temptation to comfort ourselves with sin isn’t as strong. Think about the sin that you continually surrender to. Are you running from fear and stress? Keep running, but run to Jesus instead.
 

 

 

Brandon Moser is the President & CEO of the Holy Discontent Motorcycle Ministry (HolyDiscontent.org). He is currently completing his doctoral studies in Christian counseling and divinity.


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Thoughts and Prayers

A few years ago, I never thought the phrase “thoughts and prayers” would have the stigma it has today. As a commissioned pastor and a lifelong follower of Jesus, I see why the secular world is frustrated with it. I’m frustrated with those words. Our political environment has hijacked certain words like “evangelicals” and phrases like “thoughts and prayers,” and thus, has attached the imperfect, selfish desires of man to words and phrases that once represented Jesus, not an elephant or a donkey.


Today I’m seeing youth from all over the country march to make their voices heard. Whether you agree with their stance or not, it’s difficult to not admire them for their action. This article is not about their stance, or even the specific issue they are addressing. This is about the dangerous imbalance we have between thoughts and prayers and actual deeds – whether it’s real or perceived.

Thoughts are good. Prayers are good. Action is just as important. These kids have decided that it takes more than sitting comfortably in their home trying to win social media debates. They’re acting. They’re trying to change perspectives. I respect that. Our ministry respects that. Our motorcycle ministry is built on action – getting butts out of church pews and displaying God’s love through action. While the kids marching today have the action, they may not all have faith, and in the book of James followers of Jesus need both faith and works.


James 2:14-24 (NIV)

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder. You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.


I’m going to take an educated but relatively safe guess. I’ll go out on a limb and say that a good amount of those who throw out the “thoughts and prayers” phrase neither think, nor pray for those in need. This phrase has become a polite way of saying, “I feel bad for your situation, but I’m not responsible for doing anything about it.”  This is not much different than when James refers to those in verse 16 above, who acknowledge a need but take no action.

James 2 shows the Biblical principle that thoughts and prayers are essential. But action is also essential. Thoughts and prayers, not accompanied by action, aren’t reflecting the true Word of God. That is one of the reasons that this once meaningful phrase of “thoughts and prayers” has been turned into a meme rather than the true reflection of Christians’ empathy and prayer toward Christ to bring healing and resolution to those we have been called to care for. Both the secular society, and even parts of the Christian community, see a lack of action as the crucial, absent part of this equation. The lack of action could be motivated by over prioritizing political ideologies over God’s directives. It could be motivated by pure laziness. The motivation is irrelevant. Now is not the time for excuses. It is the time to think, pray and act. Either way, as the disciple James communicates in no uncertain words, faith without action is dead.

Pray about those who are suffering. Think about how to help them. And then do something about it.

Because the Bible tells us to do so.

 

 

Brandon Moser is the President & CEO of the Holy Discontent Motorcycle Ministry (HolyDiscontent.org). He is currently completing his doctoral studies in Christian counseling and divinity.

 

 
 
 

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Struggling Vs. Surrendering

Some phrases just get under my skin. One of the most common phrases I hear in Christian circles is, “I’m struggling with…”… then they fill in the blank related to a persistent sin.

“I’m struggling with jealousy.”
“I’m struggling with pornography.”
“I struggle with gambling.”


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Now Entering the Content Zone

My daughter and I have a ritual lately. We spend some of our father-daughter time watching, interpreting and discussing episodes of the original “Twilight Zone” series. I loved watching them when I was a kid, and my daughter is finding the same joy in watching them. We both bask in the pride of being Twilight Zone nerds and will debate whether “Eye of the Beholder” or “The Hitchhiker” should be voted as the best episode ever.

Even the most casual Twilight Zone fans are familiar with the episode called, “To Serve Man.” The title is a play on the verb serve, which has a dual meaning of “to assist” and “to provide as a meal.” The episode is one of the few instances in the series where an actor breaks a fourth wall (nerd talk, I know) and addresses the viewing audience at the episode’s end. The episode, along with the line, “It’s a cookbook!” have become elements in pop culture.

After watching this episode again with my daughter, I began to think of the duality of the word “serve,” as it relates to our engagement with Christ. It’s also the foundational catalyst for the formation of the Holy Discontent Motorcycle Ministry – pursuing the art of getting off of our butts. God wants us to assist others in service to Him. He doesn’t want us just being fed. God is not here to serve man. We’re here to serve God. Too many of us are only being served – and the facts prove it.

Research shows that approximately 1 in 5 active churchgoers have served within their church during the past year (Thuma & Bird.) When I refer to active churchgoers, this means the congregation that regularly shows up for services. I’m not including the additional, and significant population of those who are the “Christmas and Easter” Christians.

Only 20% of Christians serve in their church in some capacity. We could, and should, be doing better. Before the emails come in, I do realize that some participate in ministries outside their own church. However, does that account for the entire dormant 80%? I’ll be uncomfortably generous and say that additional 20% regularly serve in ministries outside the church. Even by grading on the ridiculously generous curve, we have a ton of work to do. That’s not coming from me – it’s coming from God’s Word:

“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
– James 2: 14-17

Are you only being served? Or are you serving, too?

Here’s another disturbing fact. The reputable “State of Plate,” which is funded by Christianity Today and the Evangelical Christian Credit union, have released studies that show only 7.4% of active churchgoers are tithing regularly.

It’s worth repeating – 7.4% of active Christian churchgoers are tithing, and obeying God’s directives regularly.

Although Jesus demands it, it’s unrealistic that 100% of Christians will both tithe and serve. However, imagine what the impact on the world would be if we had 50% of active Christian churchgoers both regularly serving and tithing.

Before forwarding that Facebook post about how America is suffering because we’re slowly becoming a secular nation, ask yourself what you personally are doing to change that. Ask yourself if you’re serving, or if you’re just being served.

 

 
Brandon Moser is the President & CEO of the Holy Discontent Motorcycle Ministry (HolyDiscontent.org). He is currently completing his 
doctoral studies in Christian counseling and divinity.

 

 
For additional articles by Brandon, click here.

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Share Your Faith by Walking Like An Egyptian

In February, I was blessed to spend a week in Cairo, Egypt. During my time in the Middle East, I had wonderful conversations with Christian men and women who spread the word of Jesus throughout an environment that isn’t conducive to doing so. Christians in Egypt are facing unprecedented levels of persecution. Don’t take that word lightly — the meaning of the word “persecution” has been severely diluted in the United States with inaccurate and exaggerated politically driven narratives. Per the Open Doors 2018 World Watch List, Egypt ranks two spots behind Syria on the list of the most dangerous countries in the world to follow Jesus. The U.S. doesn’t even make the top 50. There is simply no comparison between the perceived, and often dramatic, Christian claims of persecution in the United States versus the reality of the Middle East. In 2017, 128 Christians were killed in Egypt for their faith and more than 200 were driven out of their homes in 2017. The rise in persecution is attributed to the overspill of Islamic terrorists driven out of Iraq and Syria. “There is only a small amount of violent extremists, but the culture in Egypt clings to the perception that Christians are infidels,” one Egyptian Christian said to me during my visit to Cairo. However, the response of the Christian community has been one of endurance, prayer and forgiveness. Christians in Egypt face a barrage of discrimination and intimidation, yet they refuse to give up their faith. I found that that the Middle Eastern Christians are more eager to share their faith, even under the constant danger of persecution, or at least, discrimination. They have developed an art of sharing the word of Jesus by not being too overbearing but letting others see Christ in them first.

On the 24-hour plane ride back to the U.S., I was overcome with a sense of personal guilt. In America, we have the freedom to share our faith with anyone without risking our lives or our families’ lives. Do we use that freedom to spread God’s Word as often as we should? Do we do it as much as Egyptian Christians, who are endangering themselves by doing so? By comparison to my new friends in the Middle East, my answer would be a resounding “no.”

How to Share Your Faith Like an Egyptian

  • Listen More. One of the most important, and most neglected, aspects of communicating with others is effective listening. The apostle Paul encouraged Christians to “carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). To share each other’s burdens, we need to know what those burdens are. Often, those who are suffering are most receptive to seeking a closer relationship with God. But they need to feel comfortable discussing their problems with you, otherwise, they won’t. When people are expressing their feelings, they appreciate being heard. If you are a good listener, they will talk to you. That gives you an opportunity to respond.
  • Respond with Christ-Centric Answers. You don’t have to knock on doors and articulate the message of salvation with the fiery passion and prose of a cheesy televangelist. That approach is rarely effective, and it certainly doesn’t work in the Middle East. As you listen to others, respond to them with answers that show that Jesus is a part of you. Whether it’s talking about how excited you are about going to your church this weekend, how God has blessed you, or sharing about your flaws and how you’ve found forgiveness and redemption through Christ. It’s usually not difficult to sprinkle in your love of Jesus when the conversation is natural and comfortable.
  • Love Instead of Judge. This is a tough one — especially with the current climate in the United States. The apostle Paul said not to offend each other. “Let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way” (Romans 14:13). One of the quickest ways to turn people off is to be judgmental, whether it’s in person or on social media. Who wants to talk to someone who, when you express some belief you have, self-righteously condemns you for your weakness in the faith, plus a general lack of good sense? Instead, may we resist the powerful urge to determine who is good and who is evil, who is in and who is out, and who is worthy of our self-sacrificial love and who is not, based on a perception or label. Instead, may we strive to see them – as difficult as it may be at times – the way God sees them.
 
 
 
Brandon Moser is the President & CEO of the Holy Discontent Motorcycle Ministry (HolyDiscontent.org). He is currently completing his doctoral studies in Christian counseling and divinity.
 
For additional articles by Brandon, click here.

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The Unfriendly Assault of Unfriending

I’ll admit it. I can’t stand Facebook and Twitter. I’d probably despise Instagram and Snapchat if I ever bothered fully embracing them. However, as I prove by posting this, social media has become necessary in both our careers and personal life.

There are a lot of positive aspects that social media brings to our relationships. But there’s another side to all of this. Just as much as Facebook can amplify the positive of our offline relationships, it has also brought a way to completely end relationships once and for all in a very clear and public way through unfriending. With the simple click of a button we can signal that we no longer want someone in our lives.


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Love Without Casting Stones

As Christians, one of our main goals in life should be to love the people we have contact with. This is a foundational pillar of the Holy Discontent Motorcycle Ministry. Most the time, our members are not spending the majority of their time in safe, traditional Christian circles. We spend time with prison inmates, spousal & child abusers, and substance abusers. We befriend members and leaders of motorcycle clubs and “one-percenters.” What we often find is amazing, beautiful, kind and generous people who are sinners just like us. Yet they’ve been labeled and discarded by society, and oftentimes, the Christian community. Our ministry wouldn’t be successful if our approach was judgement-driven rather than fueled by an unconditional love for others.
 
There is a reason why the members of our ministry wear the brown “Dirty Cut” rather than 
traditional black biker vests.  It’s a daily reminder to us that we all came from the same dirt, as it says in Genesis 2:7. Whether we’re rich or poor, a pastor or a prisoner, a Republican or Democrat – we’re all sinners in God’s eyes. The more we remind ourselves of how God loves us despite our own major flaws, we’ll be better equipped to approach others with love instead of condemnation.
 

Love should be the hallmark of our relationships with others. Yet, that’s oftentimes not the first impression others get. Like it or not, we live in a culture that uses labels to help us identify things. Sometimes this can be very helpful to navigate us through everyday life. However, when it comes to labels of Christians, there’s a real danger that we should all be aware of: judging. The sinful desire to judge others is at the heart and soul of a fallen human condition because none of us can justly and correctly judge someone else. However, like any habit, we have a difficult time breaking ourselves from it.

And so, we judge. We determine who is in and who is out. Who is good, and who is evil.  Who is worthy of our self-sacrificial love, and who is not.

On any given day I may be on the giving end of this type of judging, or on the receiving end — as are you. Such is the overwhelming power of the desire to judge others. The biblical prohibition on judging exists because that is singularly God’s job, and he will do it not by judging by external matters, but by judging what is unseen – the heart (1 Sam 16:7). The content of an individual’s heart is something we are not able to see and is off limits except to God himself.

I’ve had Christians tell me before that I was going to hell. When I’ve asked why, they’ve replied it is because I didn’t vote for the political platform they’ve deemed as Christian. I was no longer in the ministry in their eyes – I was labeled a “Liberal.” They’ve told me that I’ve not been hard enough on judging those who have abortions, or the LGBTQ community. I’ve been told, because of my tattoos, that I don’t physically represent what a minister should look like. They’ve told me that <sigh>, I shouldn’t keep company with sinners. Some have put significant time in judging why I am not worthy of God’s grace and eternal life. They use broad labels and generalizations so that can be used to reduce me, judge me, and condemn me to hell.

This judgement flows in reverse as well. The sinful desire to judge others isn’t something that only conservatives do. The non-believer’s perceptions of the words “Christian” and “evangelical” have suffered over the last decade – some fair, and some not. These words have been partially hi-jacked and used for political currency, along with us failing to resist the temptation of labeling and judging others. The arrow of judgement and labeling soars both ways.  

And so, my prayer for us, including myself who constantly falls prey to sin — is that when we see a person and begin to feel the string to our bow pulling back to let judgement’s arrow fly, we’ll remember how functionally worthless a Christian label is when it used it to judge what only God can judge – the human heart.

Instead, may we resist the powerful urge to determine who is good and who is evil, who is in and who is out, and who is worthy of our self-sacrificial love and who is not, based on a label. Instead, may we strive to see them – as difficult as it may be at times – the way God sees them.

  • As someone who was created in his image and likeness.
  • As someone who is loved beyond our comprehension.
  • As someone Christ gave his life for.
  • As someone Jesus explicitly told us to love without judgement.
 
 
 
 
Brandon Moser is the President & CEO of the Holy Discontent Motorcycle Ministry (HolyDiscontent.org). He is currently completing hisdoctoral studies in Christian counseling and divinity.
 
For additional articles by Brandon, click here.

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Stop Reading The Labels

We label before we understand. We disregard before we listen. Some have lost the ability to see others as individuals rather than quickly placing them in a stereotype box and treating them as that stereotype instead of a human being. This problem has not only has divided the country, but fractured the church.


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Protecting Your Family from Family

I’ll admit it. If someone hurts my wife or children, even if the assaulter is extended family, my initial response usually isn’t how Jesus would want me to respond. By those initial emotionally-charged responses, you’d never suspect that I’m in the ministry and an emerging Christian counselor. There have been times where I’ve unleashed a fury of vengeful words, knowing I’d need to ask for God’s grace and forgiveness later. While I’m not proud of that, ignoring my shortcomings in this area would be disingenuous.

Most men, including myself, feel it is their duty to protect their immediate families from physical and emotional harm. Our instincts are to launch a “shock and awe” campaign to protect those we love. Often, the assaulters are not strangers on the street, but extended family members. If clear and healthy boundaries have not been established and agreed to, once-beloved family members can oftentimes become adversarial and damage the dynamics of your immediate family – including your marriage. The dilemma for Christians arises in trying to determine the balance between protecting our immediate family, honoring our extended family, and responding in a way that honors God.
 

Remember Paul’s admonition in Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone”. Per Barney’s Notes on the Bible (Andrew Barney is well-known American theologian), this verse means:

  • We are to do our utmost endeavors to preserve peace, and to appease the anger and malice of others.
  • We are not to “begin” or to “originate” a quarrel.

     

We are to seek peace. But then it does not always depend on us. Seeking peace often means backing away from some family members that are toxic and damaging your family and/or marriage. As we try to seek peace, others may oppose us; they may slander, disparage, and emotionally injure us; or they may try to manipulate and control us. While we are to seek peace, 

it doesn’t mean we have to submit to continual harm to our family members, spouse and ourselves. Peace often has to be defined as the increased peace we find in our own homes by backing away from toxic family members. Our duty is to forgive and to resist the temptation of repaying evil for evil:

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil…” – Romans 12:16-17.

These are all easier said than done! I have sometimes failed in this area, especially with those who insult my wife or our children, or those who spread vicious lies about us. Within the last year, we’ve had extended family insult my daughter with a vicious comment about her physical attributes, publicly lie about the dynamics of our marriage, question our faith in God, meddle in our financial affairs and spread hateful lies about us. It hurts my wife and I deeply and has left scars that may be difficult to heal. It’s challenging to resist unleashing a furious response. Nevertheless, these verses are clear: God wants us to relate to people with a lot of humility, as well as with the same grace and mercy that He Himself demonstrated toward us.

Second, remember the “leave and cleave” principle: “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife” (Genesis 2:24). When we get married, our spouse comes before any other family members. You both must do everything you can to protect your marriage. Your spouse must do everything they can to love you, build you up, and take care of you and your children.
 
Unless there is a risk of exposing yourself and your children to a continued pattern of physical or emotional abuse, it’s important to keep the doors to those relationships unlocked. In considering whether you must attend family events or stay in contact with them, you should be sensitive to what is in the best interest of your spouse and kids. If the chances are high that you and/or your family is going to be the recipient of continued verbal abuse, even if it’s wrapped in sarcasm or a joke, its best to consider whether it’s fair to subject yourselves to those subtle assaults. You should be resolute in not allowing their underlying issues that are driving their poor behavior to become your problem. Being empathetic to their personal demons does not have to come at the emotional and spiritual expense of you or your immediate family. You can close the door on the relationship, but don’t lock it. God has an amazing way of softening hearts, changing behaviors transforming relationships. If you lock that door permanently, you will not be able to give them the opportunity to hear and see Christ’s love in you, while also depriving your children of knowing their extended families.
 
 
 
Brandon Moser is the President & CEO of the Holy Discontent Motorcycle Ministry (HolyDiscontent.org). He is currently completing his doctoral studies in Christian counseling and divinity.
 
For additional articles by Brandon, click here.

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Listen Up! The Easiest Way to Improve Most Aspects of Your Life

Most think they are good listeners. Some of them think they are such good listeners that they can’t shut up about it. Dale Carnegie, in the inspiring How To Win Friends and Influence People embraced listening skills, coupled with deep and genuine questions, as the means to get along in life.


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Creating Positive Peer Pressure for our Kids

 I spent most my childhood in the church. If there was a church activity, I was there. Whether it was the myriad of Bible studies, Sunday services (both morning and evening), Monday outreach, Wednesday night youth services or Friday night fellowship, I was there. I sang in the choir, I was a perennial shepherd boy in the Christmas and Easter plays, played on the church sports teams, attended every church camp my family could afford and I eventually became a Youth Deacon.


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Do You Have a Budget For Your Words?

“Speak in such a way that others love to listen to you. Listen in such a way that others love to speak to you.” – Anonymous

We sometimes don’t have to go further than our own Thanksgiving table to see how we’ve become a society who lacks the ability to listen to others.


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The Subtle Art of Doing Nothing

Do you want to find some of that all-to-elusive peace of mind? How about improvements in your relationships, career and overall happiness? There’s something that can help. The solution is to do nothing. Yes, nothing. Slacking off may be the best thing we can do for our mental health, our families and our relationship with God. Without quieting our mind and taking time to recharge our mental and physical engines, we become a diluted version of ourselves to everyone around us. Yet most see inactivity as a weakness, not a strength. 

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