When To Step Out Boldly

Scripture Focus: Mark 5.35-43
35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” 

36 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” 

37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him. 

After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat. 

Reflection: When To Step Out Boldly
By John Tillman

There is often great faith involved in being a “secret” disciple but there always comes a moment to step out of the shadows.

When Jairus came to Jesus, the religious leaders had already decided to kill Jesus. Even if Jairus was not at the synagogue where the decision was made, he must have known about it. Coming to Jesus was risky. He was associating with a man marked for death.

Jesus seemed to understand this and took pains to give Jairus plausible deniability. He publicly stated the child was asleep, not dead. He sent away witnesses. He took only an inner circle of disciples and warned those present not to speak of what had happened.

Some would have us focus on moments where scripture seems to criticize secret Jesus followers who did not want to be “canceled” by the religious leaders. (John 12.42) However, scripture also testifies that these secret believers were never totally silent and were an important part of the Jesus movement. 

They defended Jesus within the council (John 7.50-52; Luke 23.50-55) and stepped forward when none of the other disciples could to prepare Jesus’ body for burial. Mark describes Joseph of Arimathea’s action as bold, Luke adds that he dissented from the council’s decision, and John tells us that Nicodemus joined. (Mark 15.43; Luke 23.50-55; John 19.38-40)

All around the world, there are places where openly living as a Christian invites violence. Sometimes it is state-sponsored violence or violent gangs or mass shooters. Walking with Jesus is often risky.

Even if we do not face death for our beliefs, many face cultural forces that make being a Christian increasingly uncomfortable. Some of us, like Jairus, may not feel as free as others, depending on our situation. Jesus spoke to and loved Nicodemus. He went with and raised Jairus’s daughter. He will speak to you, too. And he is with you even when you can’t be outspoken.

All of us must find our moments to defend Jesus within the power structures we work in. We must find when it is necessary for us to step boldly from the shadows and lay claim to Jesus, associating ourselves with his cross and his death. We need not fear the death of our careers, our place in the community, or even our bodies. For we serve him who brings life to those who have died.

From John: The overwhelming majority of our readers live in spaces where it is no more dangerous to be a Christian than any other faith. However, if you DO live in a space that is unsafe, we are praying, today and every day, for your safety and for the spread of the gospel where you are.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
For God alone my soul in silence waits; truly, my hope is in him. — Psalm 62.6

Today’s Readings
Genesis 27 (Listen 6:25
Mark 5 (Listen 5:21)

Read more about Bold Obedience
If we are willing to take bold steps forward in obedience, we will receive what he has promised.

Read The Bible With Us
Now is a great time to invite someone on a joyful journey through scripture. Invite a friend to start reading with us today.

From Slavery to Service—Worldwide Prayer

Scripture Focus: Mark 5.18-20
As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

Reflection: From Slavery to Service—Worldwide Prayer
By John Tillman

Just as Jesus left the Gerasene man, trusting him to spread the gospel to the Decapolis, he would soon leave the disciples, trusting them to spread the gospel to the world. And now, in our own turn, each generation is entrusted to follow in their footsteps.

May we be as miraculously transformed as the Gerasene man, leaving behind our demons, leaving behind our addictions, leaving behind our places of imprisonment. May we leave behind our slavery and enter his service becoming thankful workers for peace.

We, like the demoniac, are enslaved to our sin and have no strength to escape its pull. Yet, Jesus comes to us to set us free. May we be as radically thankful as the demoniac was, running to our cities and communities with loving action and the life-changing gospel.

Thankful Workers for Peace
A prayer of thanksgiving from Thailand

Dear heavenly Father,
We praise you for your love and mercy to all humankind.
We praise you for your Son, our Savior.
We praise you for this wonderful universe,
for the son, the moon and the stars.
You have placed everything in perfect order so that
we may live in peace and harmony with all that
you have created. You have provided sustenance
for your children.
People everywhere face many difficulties,
they suffer,
they cry,
they are starving,
homeless, and helpless.
Help us to attempt to solve the difficulties they face,
to be active in serving the needy.
And may we be workers for peace.
We pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

*Prayer from Hallowed be Your Name: A collection of prayers from around the world, Dr. Tony Cupit, Editor.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness. — Psalm 31.1

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Jeremiah 19 (Listen – 2:58) 
Mark 5 (Listen – 5:21)

Read more about Freedom for Prisoners
The demoniac of the Gerasenes could not be captured or detained. He could break any chains that were put on him, yet remained captive to the evil inside of him.

#ReadersChoice is time for you to share favorite Park Forum posts from the year.
What post helped you explain the gospel?https://forms.gle/DsYWbj45y9fCDLzi7

Faith After the Storm

Mark 4.39-40
Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

Reflection: Faith After the Storm
By John Tillman

How tired Christ must have been to be asleep during the storm. 

Mark gives us the beautiful eyewitness detail that Christ’s head was on a pillow. Jesus had healed and preached all day long. Then he had preached it all again to his disciples who had heard the stories but, just like the crowd, had a hard time understanding.

Jesus was beaten down by the demands of his work so much so that the wildly rocking boat, the crashing waves, and even the boat filling up with water didn’t wake him. In the midst of this terrible storm, Jesus slept on until his shaken disciples shook him awake.

The disciples don’t seem to wake Jesus because he can save them from the storm. They merely wake him to complain about his treatment of them. “Don’t you care that we are going to drown?” The drowning seems a foregone conclusion. There is no direct request, merely bitterness and accusation. 

How many times do we go to Jesus in prayer, without faith but with bucket-fulls of complaints and accusations.

Don’t you care, Jesus?
Why don’t you answer?
What’s wrong with you?

When Jesus calms the storm, the disciples’ fears should be as calm as the sea, but instead they are heightened. The disciples are more terrified than before. 

Jesus asleep on the pillow is a punching bag for our emotions. Asleep, he cannot hear or dispute our complaints, our fears, our version of events. But Jesus standing and rebuking the storm rebukes us as well. “Quiet. Be still.”

Jesus standing and commanding the storm is intimidating and disturbing. He is no longer someone we can shake awake and push around. He is no longer the servile employee behind the desk of God’s complaint department. Instead he holds power that cannot be debated with. He is someone who demands our service, commands our compliance. We may be as terrified by a Jesus who calms storms as we are by the storms themselves.

As we examine our hearts this weekend, spend some time contemplating the fearful question of the disciples, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

Though we still have no faith after the storm, he is willing to do great things through our lives. If the winds and waves listen to his rebukes…we can too.

Be stilled and calmed by Christ this weekend.

Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. — 2 Corinthians 4.6

– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Prayers from The Divine Hours available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Genesis 33 (Listen – 2:59) 
Mark 4 (Listen – 5:01)

This Weekend’s Readings
Genesis 34 (Listen – 4:18), Mark 5 (Listen – 5:21)
Genesis 35-36 (Listen – 9:33), Mark 6 (Listen – 7:23)

Join Our New Facebook Group:
This weekend, in our new Facebook group for email subscribers, we will continue a series of short live videos discussing some simple, practical tools of spiritual practice using modern technology. Join the group to discuss them with us.

Follow this link to find the group. When you request to join, you will be prompted to answer questions about the email that you have used to subscribe to The Park Forum. Once we check that you are a subscriber, we will approve you to join the group.

Read more about Thanksgiving Stirs God’s Heart
When Simon (not yet called Peter) saw what Christ had done for him and his partners, he skipped right over being thankful to being fearful. “Go away from me! I’m not worthy. I don’t understand! You don’t know how sinful I am!”

Read more about Prayer from the Belly of the Beast
We may not be in the beast’s belly because of wrongdoing, but because our world is filled with beasts. But regardless of how we came to be there, our prayer may be sharpened, amplified, and have greater effect on our hearts.