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Archive for January, 2019

For the last few months, we have been looking at the stories of women in the Bible from both the Old and New Testaments. We were working in chronological order – Eve (Genesis) to Junias (Romans). In the first century, Paul’s female companions helped to spread the gospel in response to Christ’s command in the Great Commission to carry the good news to the ends of the earth. They did this in spite of the persecution that had already begun against Christians during the first century and continued for several more centuries.

 

Let’s continue now with women in history as we turn to the second century. Let’s face it. History is really boring. All those names and dates and places we can’t find on a map. And what do all those ancient people have to do with me anyway?

 

For starters, pretty much all of the historical women who are featured on this blog, mylordkatie.wordpress.com, are in Heaven enjoying the presence of the Lord. We will get to speak to them and find out more about their lives when we get there. The stories of their lives give us a better view of the world and history and we are able to see how and why God called these women into His kingdom. At the time these women were living they probably never thought that someday people would be studying about them in history books. They just worshipped and served God with their lives as faithfully as they could.

 

Probably some of the least remembered women in history come from the Patristic Age of the Church (2nd through 5th centuries). This is partly because so many records have been lost. But there is a wealth of information available now and more being discovered every year. These documents not only include the biographies of the women themselves, but many previously unpublished manuscripts that these women authored are coming to light.

 

Unfortunately, the women’s stories have sometimes been overlooked deliberately by Church historians because they do not think that the women’s stories are important. Thankfully, that problem is being remedied. At the end of this introductory post, I will list several books that you can read to find out more about the many hundreds of women who served Christ during the Patristic era. You will see evidence that God has always called and gifted women to serve Him in remarkable ways.

 

The Patristic Age covers roughly from the second through fifth centuries. Over the next few weeks stories of women like Thecla, Blandina, Perpetua, Pulcheria, Paula, Melania and Melania the Younger (both grandmother and granddaughter!), Monica, Egeria, Amma Sarah and many, many more will be told.

 

Some of these women were born poor, others renounced great wealth to follow in the steps of Christ. Martyrs, Mothers, Theologians, Writers, Queens, Empresses, Pilgrims, and Monastery founders are among them. The world would not be the same without the influence of these women. They showed great piety, fortitude, and courage.

 

It’s time to recount the inspiring stories of these women.

 

Further Reading:

 

– The following four books contain the stories of women throughout the centuries. Dr. Curtis’s book is organized by category – Leaders, Homemakers, Martyrs, Intellectuals, Queens, Handicapped, “Firsts”, and Mothers. The other 3 books tell the stories in chronological order.

 

Curtis, A. Kenneth and Graves, Daniel, editors. Great Women in Christian History: 37 Women Who Changed Their World (Camp Hill, PA: Wing Spread Publishers, 2004).

 

Deen, Edith. Great Women of the Christian Faith: Inspiring Biographies of Outstanding Women through Nineteen Centuries of Christianity(Chappaqua, NY: 1959).

 

Kavanagh, Julia.Women of Christianity, Exemplary for Acts of Piety and Charity(New York, NY: D. Appleton and Company, 1869). (My copy is a facsimile.)

 

Tucker, Ruth A. and Liefeld, Walter. Daughters of the Church: Women and Ministry from New Testament Times to the Present(Grand Rapids, MI: 1987).

 

–  The next three books contain much information about the history of the Patristic era. What was it like to live in the 2nd through 5th centuries? For example, life for Christians changed a great deal after Constantine declared Christianity a legal religion in the early 4th century. Persecution ended and many Christians were able to travel, participate in government, and receive education. This included women who had many freedoms that they did not have before.

 

Cohick, Lynn H. and Hughes, Amy Brown. Christian Women in the Patristic World: Their Influence, Authority, and Legacy in the Second through Fifth Centuries (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2017).

 

Cooper, Kate. Band of Angels: The Forgotten World of Early Christian Women(New York, NY: The Overlook Press, 2013).

 

Oden, Amy, editor. Women’s Writings in the History of Christian Thought(Nashville, TN: Abington Press, 1994).

 

 

 

 

 

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Happy New Year to everyone!

Have you made some New Year’s resolutions? How did you do on last year’s resolutions?

It’s a lot of fun talking with our friends about all of our good intentions for the coming new year. We laugh about the resolutions that did not last long in 2018. I am wondering if some of my resolutions were either too specific or too general. No wonder we get discouraged.

As my husband and I sat at the breakfast table last Tuesday morning, January 1, we talked about making resolutions for the new year. It’s really good to take time out to evaluate our lives. Even if our good intentions only last a month or two, at least we tried.

Maybe we ought to switch to “New Quarter” resolutions, or even “New Monthly” resolutions. If we didn’t accomplish our goals, we can just make adjustments and keep on going. The point is to not give up at the end of January when we throw in the towel and put off thinking about our decisions and goals until the next new year.

So, I told my husband that I would like to lose 15 pounds, but I will not beat myself up if I don’t. I had the same goal last year. I lost the 15 pounds, but I gained them back over Christmas!! I will try again. He would like to spend more time reading books. We agreed that we will review at the beginning of each month and see how we are doing.

But what about our more serious resolutions for this year? What should those be?

 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. (1 John 5:20)

When we celebrated Christmas we celebrated the birth of Jesus. Jesus came not only to die for our sins but to give us new life. Our lives can now be spent for God’s glory. We can now serve Christ with joyful hearts. We can follow in Jesus’ footsteps leading lives that look like His. I would like to do a better job of that this year but how did I do last year?

Our goal is to become more like Christ. Can I honestly say that during 2018 I became more like Christ?

How did I do in my spiritual life?

– Did I take time to study the Word of God in order to be able to “present (my)self approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15)?

Thanks to Christ’s incarnation, death, and resurrection we are able to grow spiritually.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10)

All Christians are given the gifts of the Spirit “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:12)

– Did I grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”? (2 Peter 3:18) How much time did I spend getting to know God better?

– Did I take the apostle Peter’s advice on how to be more spiritually mature? Peter encourages the saints to INCREASE in the following progression of character traits of the spiritually mature.

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in our knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in in your perseverance godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8)

– Was I grateful, gracious, and thankful? “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

What did I do when I failed or was discouraged?

– Did I remember that we “have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you and example for you to follow in His steps”? (1 Peter 2:21)

– Did I get up and try again when I came up short of my goal? Paul encourages believers to keep on persevering. “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. … I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, (Philippians 3:12, 14) knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” (Colossians 3:24).

Don’t’ be discouraged. Make resolutions. Seek God’s help to fulfill your plans.

I hope that by the end of 2018 I had become more like Christ than at the end of 2017. And my prayer is that when the end of 2019 gets here I can look back and say that my New Year’s resolution – my resolution to be more like Christ – will have been accomplished.

The apostle Paul tells us that we should be, “a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”  (2 Corinthians 2:15) Will I be a fragrance to others this year?

To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen!

 

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