Keep Your Armor On

Sometime around 65 A.D., the apostle Peter wrote: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” 1 Peter 5:8,9.

Nothing has changed. The devil is still trying to devour Christians, and we still need to resist him. So many of my Christian friends are under attack. Dear friends, the devil attacks those people who are a clear threat to his cause – people who are trying their best to walk in the light.

Thankfully, God has given us everything we need in order to win the battle. “Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Wherefore take up the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; withal taking up the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: with all prayer and supplication praying at all seasons in the Spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” Ephesians 6:10-18.

If we are trying to do what’s right, we can count on the fact that persecution will come. “Yea, and all that would live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” 2 Timothy 3:12. It’s not a matter of IF, but WHEN. It can come from any direction. Is there an area of your life where you think you are strong? Do you think “I’ve got this!”? Be careful, because that very place is where you may be the most vulnerable. The devil would like nothing better than to use your strong points for your downfall. If it’s not possible for a Christian to fall out of grace with the Lord, then why is Satan such a threat to the Christian? Yes, it is possible for a Christian to fall, but the good news is that Satan cannot MAKE us fall. We can give in if we choose, but if we do, it’s our choice.

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not also with him freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth? It is Christ Jesus that died, yea rather, that was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Even as it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; We were accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:31-39.

Be strong, my dear Christian friends. Keep your armor on and it will be okay. <3

What’s a Guy To Do?

Over the past few months there have been a lot of articles, blog posts and status updates on facebook, all urging and encouraging modesty, mostly towards the feminine sector of society and more specifically, women in the church. Sometimes it is well received, and other times it is not. There is no doubt that modesty is an issue that needs addressed repeatedly.

While my purpose here is not to discuss what constitutes modest attire, modesty is a topic that ought not be reserved for females only.  Guys need to be taught about appropriate dress, as well. Though it is true that men, generally speaking, are more easily tempted to look and lust, women are hardly exempt from such temptation.  Both sexes need to dress with careful regard for one another. That being said, it is my opinion that women, young and old alike, are more frequent offenders when it comes to immodest dress.  It pains me deeply when I see a woman, particularly a sister in Christ, baring to the public what ought to be reserved for private viewing by her husband only.  Many times I’ve thought to myself: “If only she knew.” If only she knew that godly men, who battle daily to keep their minds pure, are actually disgusted by her over-exposure.

So, what’s a guy to do?

How can you, as a Christian man, hold your sisters in Christ accountable for their immodesty?  It’s a rather awkward and delicate predicament that you find yourselves in.  After all, if you say something, you might be accused of having a dirty mind.  But guys, it’s time to stop being silent. It’s time to be more concerned with your convictions than with your comfort zone.  Yes, older women are instructed to teach younger women, but some women “just won’t get it” until you are willing to take a more proactive stand and voice your concerns.

As a guy, how can you be a man of conviction rather than compromise in the area of modesty? There are many different scenarios that come to mind, but allow me to throw a few ideas out there for your consideration:

Concerning Social Functions

Let’s say, for instance, your congregation is hosting a banquet for young people. You and one of the young women from your congregation plan to attend the function together.  If  you go to her house and the young woman presents herself wearing a strapless dress and/or baring her cleavage to you and anyone else who will glance her way, what should you do?  It’s kind of embarrassing, but there’s not much you can do, right?  So, you go ahead and take your date. She’s showing way too much skin, but she sure looks nice. Picture time rolls around and now you are supposed to put your arm around her, touching skin in places that ought not be touched, and smile for the camera.  Guess where those pictures will end up?  You guessed it – facebook – for all of the world to see.  STOP.  What happened to courage?  Guys, take a stand!  If your date shows up with revealing attire, either ask her to change, or REFUSE TO GO WITH HER! Sure, it’s embarrassing.  Yeah, it might make her mad.  But as kindly as you possibly can, remain firm in your convictions. By doing so, you are not only helping yourself resist temptation to sin, but you are also helping that young woman to be more aware of her need to dress modestly.  Additionally, you are protecting your reputation. You could avoid such an awkward moment by discussing clothing and your concern for modesty ahead of time . Sometimes occasions such as these, uncomfortable as they might be,  are necessary in order to help our sisters understand the seriousness of modest dress. Instead, all too often, nothing is said, and in reality, a stamp of approval has been given. (The above scenario was chosen because it is a common occurrence. It’s a whole different subject as to whether the dating game is best for young men and women. Read more on that subject here).

Similarly, weddings are often occasions where Christians get themselves into awkward situations that could have been avoided.  Have you ever been invited to participate in a wedding? Have you thought to ask what dresses the bridal party will wear? Have you entertained the idea that you might ought to refuse to be in a wedding because of the clothing that was chosen for the wedding party? This applies to men and women.  What kind of impact could be made if every Christian took such a stand? I am not suggesting that we be unkind, uncaring, or tactless, but we must be willing to turn against the tide.

Concerning Relationships:

Do not compromise your convictions for the sake of a girl!  I am aware of numerous instances  in which guys have made statements of conviction about modesty, and then turn right around and enter into a relationship with a girl who has posted  numerous pictures of herself online, in which she is very immodestly clad.  I don’t get it! Guys, when you do that, you lose your credibility!  Giving the young woman the benefit of the doubt, maybe she doesn’t know any better.  Maybe she has not been taught.  So teach her!  She may be a wonderful young woman who is willing to mature. But this is just one of many areas that ought to be discussed and resolved BEFORE you agree to enter into a relationship.

There are many other situations that provide opportunity for you to let your voice be heard.  Let’s hear them. Christian brothers, as a Christian woman I am asking you to do your part in holding your sisters in Christ accountable for the way they dress, and that includes me.  Standing against the tide is never comfortable, but nevertheless, it must be done. It is a sensitive subject; one that must be discussed tastefully, but it cannot be ignored.

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.    I Corinthians 16:13

 

“I Kissed (the Term) Dating Goodbye”

I’ve had a number of ideas swirling around in my head for some blog posts, but haven’t had time to write anything. I’ve been in the States for the past month and am heading back to Tanzania tomorrow.  Hopefully I will get back to regular blogging soon.  In the mean time, I wanted to share a great article, if I do say so myself, written by my husband. This article appeared in the September issue (if I recall correctly) of THINK magazine.

On November 10th 1483 Martin Luther was born.  He entered an Augustinian cloister in mid 1505.  “A loyal son of the Catholic Church, he was later to shatter the structure of medieval Catholicism.  A devoted servant of the pope, he was later to identify the popes with Antichrist.”[1]  His religious journey proved to be one of migrating away from the staunchly held Catholic dogma and toward biblical truths.  Admirably, he was willing to challenge the well entrenched beliefs of his piers.  Regrettably, his journey ended having never fully abandoned all vestiges of his monastic past.  How hard it can be to free ourselves from long and widely held notions!

Fast forward about five centuries and we turn our attention to a different topic.  We find a well established practice, particularly in American culture, whereby many approach mate selection only after protracted “dating.”  Teens, and even pre-teens, are seeking “trial” and “recreational” relationships, often with the coaxing of gloating parents.  Parents who seem eager to have their teen and his/her date be the hot topic of tabloid-type discussions.

Amidst this backdrop of the “dating game,” voices began to be heard which challenged the status quo.  Among these was Joshua Harris in his book titled: “I Kissed Dating Goodbye.”[2]  Serious concerns began to be discussed about the whole dating scenario.  Some, with a Martin Luther-like courage, seemed willing to question a long standing practice.  However, equally reminiscent of Luther, some seemed reluctant to totally abandon the paradigm.  They seemed to realize the need for change, but were unwilling to make radically deep alterations.

Some parents find themselves in a thorny dilemma.  Their children are already well practiced at “starting relationships” and “breaking them off.”  It seems well nigh impossible to call for a complete abandonment “in the middle of the stream.”  Many see the need for more emphasis upon purity, but are reluctant to give up all the trappings related to dating.  For example, some Christian parents know their teens want to attend “the prom.”  Their improvised solution is to “sanitize” or “Christianize” the prom experience.  These well meaning parents offer a special boy-girl banquet, often held in the church building’s fellowship hall, where their not-yet-ready-for-marriage child can bring their date.  Each participant arrives in formal attire and enjoys a prom-like atmosphere, minus dancing and alcoholic beverages.  The entire evening however, is still stirring the “feelings” for the opposite sex, when no fulfillment is intended, nor should it be.  These youths are set up to “play the part” of a couple out for the evening.  The emphasis is upon the guy/girl, romantic evening together, and attention to outward beauty.  The attendees are in no way anticipating an eminent wedding ceremony.  He may not even have a job, and she may have agreed to attend even though he was not her first choice.

However, such small changes in thinking are not really addressing the underlying issue of recreational/trial relationships before one is ready for a mate.  Even though some are verbalizing they are no longer in favor of “dating,” in reality, their offspring are still following the same basic dating approach.  Hence, notice the title of this article.  In actuality, some have merely kissed the term dating goodbye!

Dating versus courtship ought to be fundamentally distinguished.  Not merely semantically, but in application.  Courtship ought to be a period of “final investigation” on the part of a single man and a single woman, who are in a position and disposition to marry.  Prior to the beginning of the courtship there should be thoughtful and prayerful consideration; primarily of the spiritual qualification of the prospect.  Dating in contrast, might be characterized by having a boyfriend/girlfriend before one is really ready for marriage and/or without the serious intent of finding out whether the person would be a suitable mate.  One is purposeful, with a specific goal in mind.  The other is more casual with no stated or implied expectations.

May I respectfully suggest that many parents in the church are really not yet ready to broach this issue, since their training approach first needs work on a more fundamental level.  Parents must begin with a deep resolve to present a personal example and teaching which flows from a spiritual-first paradigm.  Romans 12:1, 2 might have become shallowly overworked in cliché style, but it contains the key.  From their youth (cf. 2 Tim. 3:15) the souls entrusted to us must see that purity and spirituality are our foremost concern.  There must be no doubt in the minds of our children that we want them to know the Bible, even more than we want them to excel academically or socially.  There should be no doubt that “as for me and my house” we will serve the church above all sporting events, music and art performances, etc.  Parents must speak often and passionately about being different from the world.

As mentioned above, many Christians are reluctant to completely abandon the practice of dating.  Therefore, parents must also be willing to speak with knowledge and passion about being different from some brethren.  They must show their children, based upon Scriptural principles, why certain “norms” are unchaste and harmful.  When we hear brethren debating whether a young person should date a non-Christian or not – it indicates a lack of resolve to have Christ fully enthroned as Master.  The question “to date or not to date” is still too advanced for such a questioner.  Children who have not been given the sure foundation, from their youth, of spiritual priority, devotion and purity, and being different from the world, will be hard to steer into a path of “waiting – not dating.”  See Proverbs 22:6.

We plead with our readers to open their minds to the possibility of complete abandonment of the modern methods.  Realize that to do so also opens the possibility of abandoning the sad consequences that have been so closely connected with dating, i.e. teen pregnancy, later failed marriages, apostasy from the church, etc.  Let’s not mimic the world while we call it something different, let’s be different than the world!

George Jensen, 2011


[1] Roland H. Bainton, Here I Stand – A Life of Martin Luther (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1950), 15.

[2]Joshua Harris, I Kissed Dating Goodbye (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 1997).

A Door of Opportunity

How many times have you prayed or have heard someone pray for God to “open a door of opportunity”?  In a religious context, the phrase is usually used in reference to God working in our lives through providential means.  Though the exact phrase is not found in Scripture,  the concept is certainly there.

Concerning Paul and Barnabas,  Luke wrote  “And when they arrived and gathered the church together,  they declared all that God had done with them,  and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles” Acts 14:27.

Paul wrote:

“for a wide door for effective work has opened to me,  and there are many adversaries”  1 Corinthians 16:9.

“At the same time,  pray also for us,  that God may open to us a door for the word,  declare the mystery of Christ,  on account of to which I am in prison—”  Colossians 4:3.

It is not difficult to see God’s open doors within the Scriptures,  especially when we have the privilege of reading the “rest of the story”  as recorded by the Holy Spirit.  But what about today?  Does God open “doors of opportunity”?  We can be confident that He does because the Scriptures indicate such.  I’m sure that many of us have looked back at various events in our lives and find it remarkable how everything seemed to fall into place and we happily  assert that “God opened the door.”  While it is always right to recognize God’s power,  we cannot  with absolutely certainty  point to certain specific events in our lives and declare that it was the work of God.  It would be more appropriate to say,  as Paul did,  that perhaps such and such happened as a result of God’s providence (Philemon 15,16).

It is also important to realize that God is not going to “open a door of opportunity” for us that leads us to do something that is contrary to His will.  There are many circumstances in life in which opportunities seem to present themselves , yet we dare not attribute it to God.  For example,  let’s say there is a Christian who has been jobless for several months and he prays to God,  asking for God to “open a door of opportunity”  for him to find a job.  If suddenly there comes available an employment opportunity to be a bartender,  may the assumption be made that God worked that out?  Hardly not.  Should a woman assert that “God opened that door”  when in fact,  it was a door that led her to do something that is clearly outside of God’s prescribed role for her?  No. If anything,  it might be Satan opening a door as a way of temptation.

Sometimes we are guilty of wanting something so badly,  be it a possession,  a position,  or whatever,  that we push and kick,  and finally when the door opens,  we say that God opened it.   Have we considered the fact that we are the ones who forced the door open,  rather than allowing God to work out what is best?

God does,  indeed,  open doors of opportunity.  He will not open a door  that leads us to sin. (James 1:13).  When and how He chooses to work providentially in our lives, we cannot state with certainty,   but we can be certain that He does.  If you are interested in further study on the topic of God’s providence, you can go here.