When I first read the internet, I came for information. The idea of discussion over a print medium with people I had never met seemed strange, but after several years I started to comment. After a few years of commenting, I began writing at group blogs at which I did posts about politics, pro-life news and various Christian topics. I decided, however, that I should begin writing on the Christian life to encourage other women. I also wanted to discuss many of the issues and affliction that can embroil us as women.
Issues and affliction are two words that may seem odd to use together, but I see many women, including myself, in the midst of an intense spiritual battle, and my concern has grown for the health of the church. At times the battle is joined over an issue, other times we struggle in the midst of affliction, but the two can also come together in an intense crucible of suffering. We need consolation, and we need strength to stand. (By the way, did you know that the root of the word comfort means to strengthen? Notice the word fort within it!). Encouragement not only occurs between individuals, but also within groups, and I will be also be writing about women’s ministries and sharing some of my thoughts and experiences.
If you’re not a Christian, you are more than welcome to stay and read or ask questions and interact if you like. I became a Christian in the summer of 1970 after my freshman year in college. Those were the days of questioning existence and meaning as war protests and radicals overran campuses. As many searched for the why and the solution of what was wrong with the world and with them, they found the answer in the person of Jesus Christ and became Christians by the thousands. The revival that swept the nation became known as the Jesus Movement.
As a new Christian on a university campus, I was immediately plunged into explaining and defending my faith. Those were tough days, but they were also marked by tremendous joy and love. Among other new Christians who were my friends, there was such delight and astonishment in knowing God—we were forgiven and we stood clean before Him in the Lord Jesus. We had been forgiven much, and we loved much. Our gratitude and love for God spilled over into a yearning to please Him and honor Him. Our love for God also spilled over into our love for one another.
The difficult, even wretched, backgrounds of many of us impelled us to come to a serious understanding of the importance of God’s Word to remake our lives—we echoed Peter’s words to Jesus when he said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.” We were hungry for truth. The recent memories of the futile ways that had led to pain and despair, and the deep realization that sin was a killer underlined the necessity of being doers of the Word and not merely hearers. We rejoiced in God’s grace, and we earnestly sought to live our lives in a way that was worthy of Him. Those were truly the days of first love.
The battle today is no less intense; indeed, it has grown. Yet it seems truth has stumbled in the street, and many people and churches who claim the name of Christian have left their first love. Paul warned Timothy of these difficult days before he gave him his final charge:
“You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
Of course, I don’t have the same ministry as Timothy, but with the gifts God has given me and within the setting He places me, by His grace I want to fulfill the ministry God has given me. In the summer of 1971, I led my first women’s Bible study, and over the years my ministry has been defined by teaching, writing and working individually with women to encourage and help them in their walk with the Lord Jesus. I want to continue in that work. And I want to do what I can to strengthen the things that remain, which are about to die.
I began here with a few introductory posts and then told the story of how I became a Christian. I’ve put the posts telling the story of the summer I came to believe in Christ in the banner at the top at the link titled, My Witness. I did this for two reasons: first, I wanted readers to know my testimony, and second, because the first post in the series is the oldest, it’s easier to read all of them in consecutive order, rather than begin at the first post in the archives and then scroll up to read the rest in publication order.
My next series was an introduction to my Apologetics, and again, those posts are in consecutive reading order in the banner at the top. There are now several ongoing series in the top banner. Not all of my posts or series will be there, but only ones that provide some introduction to foundational Christian topics.
Please note that I used the words some and introduction. I am not trying to replace the role of a pastor or church, but give some words to encourage and help point the way to further growth for Christian women or give help for those who would like to understand who Jesus Christ is, and what it means to be a Christian. If you do not have a church home, I would urge you to pray and ask God to give you guidance and wisdom in finding one. Grace to You has a very helpful article on finding a church.
In addition to a church’s teaching, don’t forget to ask God for help in discerning if the actions and attitudes of a church match their claims. Jesus said there will be wolves in sheeps’ clothing, and we will recognize them by their fruits—we don’t gather grapes from thorn bushes! No church is perfect, but as one author succinctly writes, “Deeds must be the test of words and the true indication of character.”1
I pray that God will use my words to strengthen, encourage and help you. May He bless you richly.
The top photo was taken during my high school senior year.
Cross at Sunset: FreeFoto.com
1R. E. Nixon, “Matthew,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised, third ed., D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, eds., A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds. (Inter-Varsity Press, London 1970) 826.
Original content: Copyright ©2010–2012 Iwana Carpenter