There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn: We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner—no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat—the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.
From The Weight of Glory
Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis
The Weight of Glory: And Other Addresses. Copyright © 1949, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1976, revised 1980 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. A Year With C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works. Copyright © 2003 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
This Sunday @ 11:00
The Dark Season
Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.
1 Corinthians 3:5-6
When a seed is planted, there is a season where nothing is visible from the surface. Although the seed’s roots are beginning to sprout and dig into the soil, there is no life above the ground. In Matthew 13, Jesus explains that there are multiple responses to God’s Word. The sower sows generously, but only some of the seeds take root and flourish.
Recommended Reading: Matthew 13:1-9
Root work takes time and is aided by continued watering and nurturing. When we share God’s Word with others, it is easy to become discouraged when we see little or no fruit. We may struggle with wondering whether our efforts are effective. While we want to develop and increase our skill at sharing God’s salvation, we must remember that all new life and growth comes from God. Each type of seed has a unique gestational period. When we surrender our efforts to God, we can battle the discouragement that comes from listeners who do not appear to accept the Word of God offered to them.
If you have knowledge, let others light their candles at it.
Read through the Bible: 2 Kings 24 – 25
You Were Made for God
By John Piper
“For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.” (1 Samuel 12:22)
The name of God often refers to his reputation, his fame, his renown. This is the way we use the word “name” when we say someone is making a name for himself. Or we sometimes say, that’s a “name” brand. We mean a brand with a big reputation. This is what I think Samuel means in 1 Samuel 12:22 when he says that God made Israel a people “for himself” and that he would not cast Israel off “for his great name’ssake.”
This way of thinking about God’s zeal for his name is confirmed in many other passages.
For example, in Jeremiah 13:11 God describes Israel as a waistcloth, or belt, with which God chose to highlight his glory, even though there were times when Israel was temporarily unfit. “For as the loincloth clings to the waist of a man, so I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, declares the Lord, that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory, but they would not listen.” Why was Israel chosen and made the garment of God? That it might be a “name, a praise, and a glory.”
The words “praise” and “glory” in this context tell us that “name” means “fame” or “renown” or “reputation.” God chose Israel so that the people would make a reputation for him. God says in Isaiah 43:21 that Israel is “the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.”
And when the church came to see itself in the New Testament as the true Israel, Peter described God’s purpose for us like this: “You are a chosen race . . . that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
In other words, Israel and the church are chosen by God to make a name for him in the world. This is why we pray first and foremost, “Hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6:9). This is why we pray, “Lead us in paths of righteousness for your name’s sake” (see Psalm 23:3).
When we speak of being a God-centered people, remember, this is because we are joining God in his God-centeredness. And on this side of the cross, that means being a Christ-dependent, Christ-exalting people. “I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake” (1 John 2:12). “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).
Quote: "Let me look at the foulness and ugliness of my body. Let me see myself as an ulcerous sore running with every horrible and disgusting poison." (Ignatius Loyola)
A small boy when Columbus first set sail, Ignatius Loyola (1491 - 1556) grew up in a world filled with possibility and exploding with geographical and mechanical discoveries. As the founder of the Society of Jesus—known simply as the Jesuits—he formed a militaristic missionary organization demanding strict discipline and loyalty. He set the pace for Catholic outreach worldwide, and before he died there were Jesuits scattered across Europe and serving in outposts as remote as India, Japan, and Brazil.
Born into nobility in the Basque country of Spain, Loyola is schooled in the Spanish court and steeped in military training and the art of chivalry. But the excitement of training soon turns into the horrors of a war in which his shin is shattered by a cannonball. He endures excruciating primitive surgery with no anesthetic, leaving him with constant pain and a lifelong limp.
In his early thirties, while recuperating, he reads biographies, including Stories of the Saintsand Life of Christ. He is particularly impressed by the lives of two monastic leaders, Francis and Dominic, who founded religious orders. He vows to become a soldier of Christ, living a life of holy chivalry devoted to the Virgin Mary. To confirm his calling, he takes a pilgrimage to religious shrines that end in a remote village. There he lives in seclusion—tempted, as he later relates, to take his own life. Yet he continues to seek God, retiring to a cave where he prays for hours and experiences visions that reassure him in his faith.
His fame spreads through his writing, particularly his still-influential Spiritual Exercises. Here he lays out a path to piety, reflecting on his own spiritual life and the necessity of absolute obedience to Christ. Spiritual Exercises does not offer a warm and fuzzy spirituality; its purpose is to lay the groundwork for devout and disciplined discipleship. The subject matter is designed to fit a four-week retreat, focusing first on sin, followed by Christ's earthly kingship, his passion, and his reign as risen Lord. The exercises are designed not only for those who would become Jesuits but also for lay people.
In the following years he travels and studies theology at various universities. Collecting a band of followers, he stirs suspicions and is questioned by the Inquisition. In fact, he is twice briefly imprisoned. In 1534 he and six companions unite together and take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience to the pope.
In 1539 they travel to Rome and receive the blessing of the Pope Paul III, who officially sanctions the Society of Jesus. Their absolute obedience to the pope comes in a "special vow" that Jesuits, unlike other orders, are required to obey—vowing to "take upon ourselves, beyond the bond common to all the faithful, a special vow . . . meant so to bind that whatsoever the present Roman Pontiff and his successors may command us concerning the advancement of souls and the spreading of the faith, we shall be obliged to obey instantly."
Distinct from most other religious orders, the Jesuits do not require a monk's cowl or any other religious uniform, nor are daily liturgies or fasting or penance part of the religious routine. They follow the Spiritual Exercises, with its focus on an intense period of prayer and meditation. Though Loyola does not establish an order for women, he does donate money for the establishment of the House of St. Martha, which helps prostitutes leave their profession and reunite with their families or join in the ministry.
Missionary outreach becomes the hallmark of the Jesuits as they spread out across the globe from India and Japan to South America, Africa, and French Canada. Loyola serves as Superior General, heading up the vast administrative duties from his office in Rome. Before he dies, he drafts the Constitutions, a lengthy and detailed rulebook that clearly differentiates Jesuits from the other monastic orders that require a strict ascetic life style. Mobility is the key to Jesuit effectiveness. As the church militant, cloistered monasticism simply is not their way of serving Jesus. By the time of his death in 1556, there are more than a thousand Jesuits, and within decades the membership exceeds ten thousand.
The Lost Love Letter
I long for Your precepts; revive me in Your righteousness.
While Allen Cook and his daughter Melissa were renovating a house in New Jersey last year, they found a yellowed unopened envelope that had literally fallen between the cracks. It was a love letter dated May 4, 1945, by a woman named Virginia to her husband, Rolf Christoffersen, serving in the Royal Norwegian Navy. The envelope was marked “return to sender.” The letter said, in part, “I love you Rolf, as I love the warm sun.” Allen and Melissa tracked down Rolf, now 96 and a widower, and his son read the letter to him. Virginia’s long-lost love letter reached him at last.
Recommended Reading: Psalm 119:33-40
Charles Stanley wrote, “The Bible is God’s love letter to mankind. You may never have thought of it that way; many people tend to think of the Bible as a rule book or a story book. In reality the Bible is a magnificent love letter in which God tells His children how He longs to care for them and bless them, forgive them and shower them with His mercy.”1
Don’t let God’s love letter to you fall between the cracks.
The Bible is God’s “love letter” to us, telling us not only that He loves us, but showing us what He has done to demonstrate His love.
Read through the Bible: 2 Kings 14 – 16
1 Charles Stanley, Exploring the Depths of God’s Love (Thomas Nelson: Nashville, 2009), Introduction.
Seek Your City’s Good
By John Piper
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. . . . But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Jeremiah 29:4–5, 7)
If that was true for God’s exiles in Babylon, it would seem to be even more true for Christian exiles in this very “Babylon-like” world. What, then, shall we do?
We should do the ordinary things that need to be done: build houses; live in them; plant gardens. This does not contaminate you if you do it all for the real King and not just for eye service as men-pleasers.
Seek the welfare of the place where God has sent you. Think of yourself as sentthere by God for his glory. Because you are.
Pray to the Lord on behalf of your city. Ask for great and good things to happen for the city. Ask that they happen by God’s power and for his glory. Never lose sight of the ultimate good that the city needs a thousand times more than it needs material prosperity. Christians care about all suffering — especially eternal suffering. That’s the greatest danger every city faces.
But neither God nor his people are indifferent to the health and safety and prosperity and freedom of the city. We all want these things, and Jesus said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). In fact, the Lord says in Jeremiah that loving your city is a way of loving yourself: “In its welfare you will find your welfare.”
This does not mean we give up our exile orientation. Peter says that Christians are “sojourners and exiles” (1 Peter 2:11) and Paul says “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). In fact, we will do most good for this world by keeping a steadfast freedom from its beguiling attractions. We will serve our city best by getting our values from “the city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:14). We will do our city most good by calling as many of its citizens as we can to be citizens of “the Jerusalem above” (Galatians 4:26).
So, let’s live — let’s do so much good (1 Peter 2:12) — that the natives will want to meet our King.