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What Netflix’s ‘The Crown’ Reveals About Christ and Culture

The following is a guest post by J.K. Wall who is a writer in Indianapolis. His modernized abridgment of William Symington’s work, Messiah the Prince Revisited, was published in 2014 by Crown & Covenant Publications. You can e-mail him at jk.wall@gmail.com.

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I have been enjoying the new Netflix Original series “The Crown,” which vividly dramatizes the change experienced by Elizabeth II immediately after she became queen of England.

Before she received the news of her father the king’s death—at a lodge in Kenya—Elizabeth was treated as a distinguished but otherwise normal guest. After hearing the news over the radio, all the hotel staff members and other guests knelt in her presence.

And yet, it would take another 16 months before Elizabeth was formally crowned. During those 16 months, Elizabeth took up the heavy work of queen and was referred to by everyone as “The Queen.” Not the queen-elect, or the queen-in-waiting, or the queen-to-be, or any such already-not yet title. She was, during that entire 16 months, as fully queen as she was after the formal coronation ceremony.

Photo courtesy of Netflix

This is a helpful picture for how we should understand the kingship of Jesus Christ. It’s important because our […]

Browse Worthy: Online Bullying

One of the peculiarities of the Digital Age is how quickly mass hysteria can arise against someone. Perhaps the most famous case of this phenomenon is chronicled in The New York Times Magazine article “How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life.” Sacco, with a small number of Twitter followers, tweeted a foolish line that was – rightly or wrongly – interpreted as a racial slur before she boarded an international flight. By the time she reached her destination, her tweet was the top trending one and a virtual mob was calling for her head. She lost her job, her life was threatened, and she has become famous for all the wrong reasons.

Yet it is not only unthinking tweets that can bring someone undue attention. People can purposely target someone with whom they disagree, and try to bring a high degree of public shaming on that person. A case in point is that of BuzzFeed‘s article that came out this week entitled “Chip And Joanna Gaines’ Church Is Firmly Against Same-Sex Marriage.” BuzzFeed is a digital media company that delivers news and entertainment over social media. This post on the Gaines, who host the popular HGTV show “Fixer Upper“, seems nothing more than an […]

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 […]

I believe in the (cryogenic) resurrection of the dead

I just heard on the news this morning that in a landmark ruling a judge in England granted the dying wish of a 14 year old girl with cancer to have her body cryogenically frozen until the day when medical knowledge is sufficiently advanced to revive and cure her. In a letter to the judge she wrote,

‘I am only 14 years old and I don’t want to die but I know I am going to die. I think being cryopreserved gives me a chance to be cured and woken up – even in hundreds of years’ time. I want to live and live longer and I think that in the future they may find a cure for my cancer and wake me up. I want to have this chance.’

Isn’t it tragic that the very thing this girl was longing for was exactly what is being held out in the gospel? Isn’t it tragic that she put her trust in a quasi-scientific fairy tale for her hope of resuscitation life rather than the resurrection life the Lord Jesus Christ achieved when he rose from the dead on the third day? Isn’t it just so unspeakably sad that someone would put their […]

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 […]

Calamity Brings Clarity

The following is an adapted version of a message I preached during the chapel service at Geneva College, just hours after our nation elected our new President.  In God’s kindness, the message seemed to strengthen some stricken hearts. Whatever your emotional state after an exhausting election season, I hope it’s a blessing to you, too.   It was written to be spoken, but hopefully comes across clearly enough in this format.   Or, click here for an audio link if you like.   

A loss can be very hard to take; but sometimes, so can a win.

We have a new President of the United States.  He won in dramatic fashion, in the early morning hours, and like the campaign season itself, the angst-ridden process left the American public emotionally and physically exhausted, and for so many of us, feeling profoundly sick.  One of the saddest parts of this sick feeling is that had the election gone the opposite way, it likely would have left us feeling much the same, though for different reasons.  Either way this race would have concluded, there was no way for a victory at the top of the ticket which was not also a reason to weep.  We’ve seen so much […]

Casting (Bal)lots

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD. –Proverbs 16:33

Many have commented how incredible it is that we have come to the point of having these two major presidential candidates before us as a nation. I have heard it expressed that it is like trying to choose whether you would prefer a boisterous, drunken uncle or a conniving, wicked stepmother. As people agonize over how to vote tomorrow, perhaps it is helpful to remember the verse above.

Much like we use dice or choose straws, lots were pebbles or sticks with markings representing different parties. They were cast and one chosen, most likely, by landing in a designated spot. This practice was common in biblical times. Aaron casts lots to see which goat would be the offering and the other the scapegoat on the Day of Atonement. Joshua cast lots to divide the land of Israel among the families of the tribes. In the days of David lots were cast to see which men would serve in the various priestly functions. So common was the practice that lots were cast to figure out that it was Jonah on the ship that had brought about […]

Baby Loss Week—a tragic disconnect

October 9th-16th was Baby Loss Awareness Week in Ireland, with Saturday 15th being a International Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day. I had been wondering why the profusion of news items: UK MPs sharing their stories of loss in the House of Commons; an item about a Garden of Stones in County Armagh featured several times on my Facebook feed; and I turned on the radio on Saturday to hear a series of heartfelt stories. Interviewers and newsreaders alike were empathetic and sensitive, gentle and gracious.

And I was confused. Not simply because I didn’t know it was Baby Loss Awareness week. Not because I don’t know something of that intense pain of losing children to miscarriage and watching someone you love deal with a level of sorrow that, as a man, I can’t fully enter into, nor fathom its terrible depths. I know that pain—and it deserves all the tenderness and empathy and sensitivity we can muster.

I was confused, or more accurately, baffled. Baffled by the ability of the media to portray so sensitively, deal so tenderly, and acknowledge one week that what resides in the womb is a baby, while the previous week, and this succeeding week they will argue […]

The Trumpet Blasts that Were Never Heard

We live in times where the church is needing to think through her relationship with the state and the rulers over us. This is not the first time in the history of Christianity where we have had to meditate on our doctrine of the magistrate or our relationship to those in authority. This is not the first time that we have had to choose between losing our right hand and losing our left. Where would you turn to read about the relationship between the church and an oppressive government?

Looking for a book on the relationship between the church and a tyrannical government may be useful for the church in the next few decades. Consider the following statements:

* It is not by birth that one can rule over a people; those under him must approve of that rule.
* Those who practice idolatry or are living publicly scandalous lives are not to be placed in public office.
* If a ruler proves to be a tyrant or is willfully disobedient to God’s Word, then not even an oath can keep him in office.
* If people too quickly or without due consideration put someone in office and it is later found that he is […]