Archive by Author

Happy Wife. Happy Life.

The beeps. The buzzes. The vibrations. The earbuds. The squinting eyes. The bluish glow. They all indicate that the world has invaded our homes in new ways through online portals, and it clamors for our attention. Relationships at home suffer when we are so distracted that we abandon the ones we love…or ought to love. That leads to sadness and loneliness. The unmitigated invasion of the online world into our homes ruins marriages. As husbands know, a happy wife means a happy life. Conversely, when mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!

Part of the problem, especially for men, is that these online portals call us to legitimate responsibilities in the world beyond the home in addition to the illegitimate ways they clamor for our attention. The good news is that there is nothing new. Even in Moses’ day, God addressed the challenge of a man’s responsibility in the world and his calling to make his wife happy.

“When a man is newly married, he shall not go out with the army or be liable for any other public duty. He shall be free at home one year to be happy with his wife whom he has taken” (Deuteronomy 24:5).

Notice the key: dedicated […]

At Seventeen – Harry Wilkey (1942-2016)

Harry Wilkey passed into glory last week at age 73. He lived most of his life as a quadriplegic after being injured at age 17. My grandfather was his pastor at the time. Sterling, Kansas was his lifelong home. He was a member of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. Harry was a friend of our family and an encourager to me. With his family’s encouragement, I’m posting his testimony here. Jesus was faithful to Harry, and, by God’s grace, Harry was faithful to Jesus. Now, his soul is with the Lord. His body, which is still united to Christ, will be held by the grave…but only until the resurrection.

At Seventeen

A personal testimony to God’s increasing grace

By Harry Wilkey

At age seventeen, a Nickerson High graduate, I packed up my stuff and made my first move away from home to Sterling College.  I had no clue that God would cut short my stay.  Many choices faced me there.  It surprised me that a Christian college offered most options of worldliness right there on campus.  Some fellow dorm mates involved themselves in pornography, gambling, and homosexuality.  We watched, smiled, and some cheered as one fellow daily dressed up […]

Preparing for Thanksgiving

Are you giving thought to words you might speak at your Thanksgiving Day table or worship service? Whether you are the host of the meal for the extended family, a head of the household, or a ministry leader, you’ll have the opportunity to take a few moments to lead the family in some reflection of gratitude.

Over the years here at Gentle Reformation, we’ve written a few article on the topic of thanksgiving. Around this time of year, we hear from people looking to our archives to help prepare thoughts. We’ll surely keep writing more, but here are links to posts of Thanksgivings past. They might give you ideas of themes to emphasize as you lead those under your charge.

Biblical Themes:

Growing in Jesus on Thanksgiving Day explores how Psalms of thanks stimulate growth in our souls, and Eight Themes in Thanksgiving pulls more themes of praise from the Psalter.

Seven Themes in Thanksgiving in the New Testament explores exactly that.

Historical Themes:

A seventeenth Century prayer of thanks following deliverance or prayers of thanksgiving from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer will lead your hearts to the throne of God like they did for saints of old.

A Thanksgiving Day Proclamation from 1777 or a Thanksgiving Day […]

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

What will it take to make progress in peaceful relationships between people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds? Political commentators are paying close attention to attitudes and the racial breakdown of voters in this week’s United States presidential election. Clearly, some voted for Donald Trump out of fear and frustration that white uneducated Americans are being mocked and marginalized. In response, some immigrants and minorities fear what the future holds for them. We stand at a moment of opportunity. What is the way forward?

There are a lot of answers I don’t have, but I’ll never forget a breakfast I attended over a decade ago. Dr. Herb Lusk, pastor of Greater Exodus Baptist Church in Philadelphia spoke on Shamgar, Israel’s judge who followed Ehud and receives scant attention in the biblical record:

“After him was Shamgar the son of Anath, who killed 600 of the Philistines with an oxgoad, and he also saved Israel” (Judges 3:31).

Judges 5:6 merely recounts that Shamgar lived at a time when “the highways were abandoned, and travelers kept to the byways.”

Lusk may not have drawn out all of the covenantal implications of this judge’s ministry, but he memorably summarized how Shamgar served the Lord by faith and […]

Kill the Midweek Prayer Meeting?

“The church started to grow when we killed the midweek prayer meeting.” Those words might seem anathema to some, but this was the sentiment of the pastor of my youth. The late Dave Long looked back on three decades of ministry in one congregation with those words. His assessment was true because more people participated in the small group Bible studies that replaced the Wednesday prayer meeting. The small groups always included prayer, and the net result was a more prayerful congregation that prayed more specifically and personally for one another and others to whom we were ministering. For that to happen, a long-established tradition had to go.

Church leadership often laments a lack of participation in midweek prayer meetings because we know the power God gives through prayer. Perhaps we can overemphasize one good-but-not-required way of doing things. The one divinely ordained corporate prayer meeting is public worship on the Lord’s Day. On that appointed day, the congregation calls on the name of the Lord (Genesis 4:26, Psalm 65:2-4, 1 Corinthians 1:2), and God’s people gather at the house of the Lord which is a house of prayer for all nations (Isaiah 56:7, Mark 11:17). Paul and Silas supposed that […]

Visual Missiology in the Bible

The following guest post is penned by Brian Wright. Brian is a senior at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary from Arlington, Massachusetts. He and his wife Lisa spent three years in Manhattan, Kansas before moving to Pittsburgh for seminary. He is a student under care of the Midwest Presbytery of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America.

If Israel was God’s chosen people in the Old Testament era, what about the rest of the world? Did God care about the other nations? Jesus told his disciples to make disciples of all nations, and the missionary efforts of the New Testament era are hard to miss. What does the Old Testament have to say about the nations of the world?

The chart seen to the right (click image to enlarge) is a preliminary attempt at a Biblical theological timeline of God’s concern for the nations. This August, I took part in a week-long Theology and Methods of Missions class at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Three weeks before the class began, the students were split into four groups of four and tasked with constructing a visual representation of God’s interaction with the nations. We were assigned sections of the Bible by group, and […]

Safe spaces, Emotions, and Justice: The Cities of Refuge

God made us to be emotional and to love justice. Our emotions motivate us to pursue justice. God also knows that our emotions can cloud our thinking such that vengeance is not based on justice. So, in the Old Testament, the Lord established cities of refuge. There, people who were guilty might find asylum until the truth could be fully known. Only then would retribution be inflicted on those found guilty (Exodus 21:12-14, Numbers 35:10-15, Deuteronomy 19:1-13, Joshua 20).

The undergirding principle of the cities of refuge is that our emotions must be harnessed by the truth as we seek justice. Facts must bridle our feelings. Only then will we love life the way we should.

The Old Testament laws of the cities of refuge deal specifically with manslaughter and murder – the greatest injustice that could be done because it involves taking a person’s life. The principle is to govern the way we deal with all lesser injustices, hurts, and losses. We may endure loss of life in our family, what we perceive to be a harsh word from a friend, or the disappearance of the candy bar we had stashed away to enjoy later. Whatever the case, God’s law is aiming for […]

A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest

Looking for great new read-aloud books for the family? My brother and sister-in-law who serve as missionaries in East Africa recently gave us a glimpse into their world and beyond with a short children’s novel titled A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest (Greensboro, N.C.; New Growth Press, 2015). This little 150 page story echoes part Pilgrim’s Progress and part The Lord of the Rings.

The ten year old boy, Mu, awakens in a mud hut on his uncle’s compound as a mistreated orphan. As he fetches water at dawn, he is met, to his great surprise, by a talking chameleon named Tita. Tita latches onto Mu’s collar and directs him on the adventure of a lifetime across the African landscape. Readers are vividly led with Mu on his quest down pothole covered roads, through mission compounds, up mountain trails, and over rivers and streams. Where is he going? And whom can he trust amid the family members, missionaries, and others he encounters, including the strange realm of talking animals?

The African adventure amid many perils opens new vistas for Mu, but most of all, the quest probes Mu’s inner self. Who is he, really? What is life all about? What are […]

Breakfast Leftovers

Luke Harrington’s recent article at Christianity Today, How Methodists Invented Your Kid’s Grape Juice Sugar High, has made people thirsty for church history. So, I thought I’d heat up some breakfast leftovers to go along with it. A few years ago, I wrote the following article while trying to whet my junior high students’ appetite for church history.

My students seemed to find history more palatable when they see that they are already familiar with it. So, let’s check out your breakfast menu:

If you reach for Quaker Oats in your pantry, you’ll find a Quaker man staring back at you from the package label. The corporate creators of the logo who trademarked it in 1877 did not specify the character in Quaker garb as a particular individual. But, he was designed to project the values of honesty, integrity, purity, and strength associated with the Quaker faith. I can’t help but think his image is familiar to that of George Fox (1624-1691), the founder of the Quaker movement. The Quakers, or The Religious Society of Friends developed out of the Church of England in the 1650s. They quickly grew and spread to the new world. William Penn, for whom Pennsylvania is named, remains the most […]

The Long View: Developing Faithfulness

Kessler Boulevard carves a scenic route through Indianapolis and through the neighborhood where I serve as a pastor. Almost five years ago, I rounded a corner on Kessler and beheld a ghastly scene: workers had cut down at least five dozen gorgeous trees that lined the street. I almost cried. The sturdy maple, ginkgo, and other species were victims of a project to finally install sewer service to our part of the city.

The trees were at least twenty years old. Many were over fifty years old, and some probably much older. I felt a profound sense of loss as I passed stump after stump, knowing that it would take twenty years and more to restore Kessler’s canopy. In that moment, my grandfather’s words came to mind: “It takes about twenty years to see faithfulness built into a person’s life.” He was quoting someone, but in his years of pastoral experience, he had seen the truth of the statement. Mature, steady, faithful people are a precious commodity. “Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find?” asks Proverbs 20:6. I wrote this article reflecting on how, like the trees, it takes time, even twenty years, […]