Phillipine De Luns: Of Whom The World Was Not Worthy

Like all true Reformers, the women of the Protestant Reformation were passionate about the Word of God. Although they lived at a time when owning your own Bible could be punishable by death, history records they handled the Word of God as skillfully as their male counterparts. As one author explains, “They were steeped in Scripture and even the comparatively uneducated, who appear in the martyrologies and the heresy trials, gave their judges a terrific run at any point involving the Word of God.” [1]

Nowhere in Protestant history is this fact so clearly evidenced than in the life of a French Huguenot woman, named Phillipine De Luns. We know very little about her life story, but the few facts we do have are enough to humble and challenge us.

On September 4, 1557, the church where she worshipped was surrounded by an angry mob. Many escaped, but not everyone. Phillipine was arrested and thrown into prison where, for over a year, she resisted efforts to coerce her into renouncing her faith. Finally, she stood before her judges.

Judge: “Do you believe in the mass?”

Phillipine: “About this sacrament I will believe only what is found in the Old and New Testaments. I have not yet found there that the mass is from God.”

Judge: “Will you receive the wafer?”

Judge: “No; I will receive only what Christ has sealed.”

Judge: “How long is it since you confessed to the priest?”

Phillipine: “I do not remember, but I do know that I have daily made confession to my Lord. Other confession is not commanded by Christ, for He alone has the power to forgive sin.”

Judge: “What do you believe about prayer to the Virgin and to the saints?”

Phillipine: “I know no other prayer than that which our Lord taught to His disciples. To Him we must go, and to no other. The saints in paradise are happy, that I know, but pray to them I will not.”

Judge: “Do you observe fasting on Friday and Sunday?”

Phillipine: “No; because it is not commanded in the Bible … I do not believe in any other commandment than that Christ gave. And nowhere in the New Testament do I find that power is given to the pope to rule the Church.”

Judge: “… the spiritual and worldly powers are ordained of God, and should be obeyed.”

Phillipine: “The Church has no other authority in it than that of Christ.”

Judge: “Who taught you this?”

Phillipine: “The Old and New Testaments.” [2]

On September 27,1558, she was led like a lamb to the slaughter. When asked to give her tongue to have cut off, she responded, “I care not if my body suffer, why should I care for my tongue.” [3] After burning her face and feet with torches, she was strangled and her body burned.

Phillipine prevailed through faith in the word of God. Matthew 4:4 says, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  What about us?  Are we sustained by faith in the living word of God?  Do we know how to wield “the sword of the spirit which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17)?  Could we defend the doctrines of the faith as ably as Phillipine?

They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. – Hebrews 11:36-40

May the same grace of faith that caused Phillipine to sooner die than deny her faith be mightily at work in us too.

Related Post:  The Women of the Tower of Constance

[1] Roland H. Bainton, Women of the Reformation: In Germany and Italy (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007), 14.

[2] James I Good, Famous Women of the Reformed Church (Birmingham: Solid Ground Christian Books, 2007), 97-98.

[3] Ibid, 100.

Harriet Newell: A Broken Life by J.R. Miller

harriet_newell

“The story of Harriet Newell is an illustration of a broken life. Listening to the cries of the perishing and to the call of duty—she sailed away as a missionary. She had in her heart a great purpose, and a great hope. She planned to devote her rich and beautiful life, with all its powers of love, sympathy and helpfulness, to the cause of Christ in heathen lands; she hoped to be a blessing to thousands as she lived a sweet life amid the darkness and heathenism, and told the story of Christ’s cross, to perishing ones. With these desires and hopes in her soul, she sailed away to India—but she was never permitted to do any work for Christ among those she so yearned to save. Driven from inhospitable shores and drifting long at sea, first her baby died, and then she herself soon sank into death’s silence. In one short year she was—bride, missionary, mother and saint.

Truly, her life seemed a broken one—defeated, a failure. Not one of the glorious hopes of her own consecration, was realized. She told no heathen sister of the love of Christ; she taught no little child the way of salvation; she had no opportunity to live a sweet life in the midst of the black heathenism she so wanted to bless; yet that little grain of wheat let fall into the ground and dying there—has yielded a wonderful harvest. The story of her life has kindled the missionary spirit in thousands of other women’s souls. Harriet Newell, dying with all her heart’s holy hopes unrealized, has done far more for missions by the inspiration of her heroic example, and by the story of her life’s sacrifice—than she could ever have done in the longest life of the best service in the field. The broken life became more to the world than it could have become by the carrying out of its own plans.

God seems to be able to do little with earth’s unbroken things, and therefore almost always he chooses broken things with which to do his work in this world …”

“… It is by broken lives—broken by pain, trouble and sorrow—that God chiefly blesses the world. It is by the shattering of our little human plans—that God’s great perfect plan goes on in us and through us. It is by crushing our lives until their beauty seems entirely destroyed—that God makes us blessings in this world. Not many men nor many women without suffering in some form, become largely helpful to others. It seems as if we could not be fit instruments for God to use, to speak his words, and breathe the songs of his love, and carry to others the blessings of his grace—until his chastening hand has done its sharp, keen work upon our lives!

It is, then, a lesson of faith that we should learn. We ought never to be afraid of God’s providences, when they seem to break up our lives and crush our hopes—even to turn us away as Christ’s true disciples from our chosen paths of usefulness and service. God knows what he wants to do with us—how he can best use us—and where and in what lines of ministry, he would have us serve, or whether he would have us only “stand and wait.” When he shuts one door—it is because he has another standing open for us. When he thwarts our plans—it is that his own plan may go on in us and through us. When he breaks our lives to pieces—it is because they will do more for his glory and the world’s good, broken and shattered, than whole.”

J.R. Miller 1888

HT: GraceGems

A Tribute to My Dad on Veterans Day

Daddy
Robert D. Paier March 26, 1943 – January 10, 1991

Today is Veterans Day, and I couldn’t let it go by without honoring my Dad. Here is a picture that he sent home while serving in Vietnam. It’s very faded so you can’t see well, but he wrote, “Pray for peace or I’ll kill ya!”

Daddy enlisted in the Army after graduating from Columbia University in New York. His degree was in Psychology but he also had a knack for languages. Immediately after boot camp he was sent to Army Linguistics School where he learned to speak Vietnamese. He then went on to serve two tours in Vietnam in military intelligence as an interrogator in the 1st Calvary Division.

Today I thank God for the men and women of the armed forces whose sacrifices, among other things, permit me to enjoy my religious freedom. We, in this country, reap with joy what others have sown in blood and tears. I am especially thankful for a father who took his responsibility to his daughter seriously. I love you Daddy!

Mulberry Street, New York City

This is one of my favorite historic images of New York City. It’s a picture of foreign-born immigrants and their children on Mulberry Street in Little Italy.  If your travels ever take you to NYC (or if you are from here and haven’t visited yet) try to make time for a guided tour at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum at 97 Orchard Street. Between 1863 and 1935, the building was home to 7,000 tenants from over 20 nations!  If you get the right guide, history can come to life with up-close and personal glimpses into the lives of immigrant families. In the meantime, click on the image for a closer look at Mulberry Street in 1900.

mulberry street 1900

“This photolithograph from the Detroit Publishing Company documents the busy street life of New York City’s Lower East Side at the start of the 20th century. Between 1870 and 1915, New York’s population more than tripled, from 1.5 million to 5 million. In 1900, when this photo was taken, foreign-born immigrants and their children constituted a staggering 76 percent of the city’s population. Often described as the Main Street of Little Italy, Mulberry Street was dominated from the 1890s by immigrants from Italy. These immigrants jostled for space and economic opportunity with other recent arrivals to the city, including Jewish, Russian, and Austro-Hungarian immigrants, as well as native-born and older immigrant groups such as the Dutch, English, Irish, and Germans.” (World Digital Library)