Make No Peace With Death—Readers’ Choice

Selected by reader, Rhoda Reynolds
I really like the guided prayers and shared this with others. The thoughtfulness of this one touched my heart.

Originally published, April 22, 2020, based on readings from Ecclesiastes 9 & Titus 1.

Scripture Focus: Ecclesiastes 9.3-4
3 This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead. 4 Anyone who is among the living has hope—even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!

Titus 1.1-3
1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness— 2 in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, 3 and which now at his appointed season he has brought to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior

Reflection: Make No Peace With Death—Readers’ Choice
By John Tillman

With all his wisdom, Solomon, the teacher, recognized that God had set eternity in the human heart (Ecclesiastes 3.11) but in some writings seemed to barely hold a glimpse of what God had in mind for humanity in eternity.

Solomon’s conclusion about death is not that dissimilar at times from billionaire tech giants of today (our culture’s definition of “wise men”) who see death as an evil that should be eradicated.

In 2018, Jacob Banas wrote about the cultish obsession of tech giants with longevity and defeating death:

“Traditional religion in the Bay Area is being replaced with…a belief in the power of technology and science to save humanity,” …Combine this…with leaders who are too young to find peace in the concept of death and who haven’t experienced the kinds of traumas that might inoculate them against some of that fear? You get a perfect storm of longevity obsession.”

When we look closer at the supposedly altruistic goals of “life extension” or “defeating death” we barely scrape the surface before uncovering the primary motivator—greed and the continued accumulation of wealth. 

The billionaire class is on a very real quest to create a new breed of altered humans who will live longer with greater ability to accumulate even more wealth and consolidate even more power. Sean Parker warned at a fundraiser for cancer research that wealth disparity will eventually create a “Class of Immortal Overlords.” He quipped, “Give us billionaires an extra hundred years and you’ll know what … wealth disparity looks like.”

The only correct thought about death that these tech giants have is that death is an enemy. The Christian does not make peace with death. Death is the final enemy to be defeated. 

The difference for believers is that we, unlike Solomon, are certain that death is defeated. (Titus 1.1-3) Death’s sting has no venom for the believer and his victory is as hollow as Jesus’ tomb. (1 Corinthians 15:54-56; Hosea 13:14; Isaiah 25:8) Death which Solomon called “evil” is to us but a door leading the presence of God. 

Death is not kind nor a friend. He is not to be smiled at or joked with. He intends to make us suffer. But like the thief on the cross, if we have the simplest and smallest faith in Christ, on the other side of death we will be embraced by our truest friend, Jesus.

Further Reading:
The Men Who Want to Live Forever — By Dara Horn
Sean Parker Says Wealth Disparity Will Create a ‘Class of Immortal Overlords’ — By Billy Perrigo
Seeking eternal life, Silicon Valley is solving for death — By W. Harry Fortuna

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Jesus taught us, saying: “Sell your possessions and give to those in need. Get yourselves purses that do not wear out, treasure that will not fail you, in heaven where no thief can reach it and no moth destroy it. For where your treasure is, there is where your heart will be too.” — Luke 12.33-34

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

Today’s Readings
Jeremiah 40 (Listen – 3:50)
Psalms 15-16 (Listen – 2:03)

#ReadersChoice is time for you to share favorite Park Forum posts from the year.

What post helped you forgive?

https://forms.gle/DsYWbj45y9fCDLzi7

Read more about Too Much to Hold
Death’s jaws, snake-like, that swallow worlds
Cannot contain their maker
Christ is too sweet to see decay
The monster gets no supper

This Present Age—Readers’ Choice

Selected by readers, cjs, and Michele Bartlett
cjs: “There are specific words that I have used in my private prayer life, and I’ve shared with others:
Live for Him today!
May we be unfailingly kind…
May we be models of integrity…
Make us ready, Lord, for the challenges we will face…
Come, Lord Jesus
—These are true today, tomorrow, and every day!”

Michele Bartlett: Even more so now than April when this was published, it seems like there is so much evil and havoc. But I am not called to put my focus there, but instead, to decide what to do with the time I have left, at 66. But I also love the context of the paragraph in with the LOTR quote is embedded…  

Frodo goes on to say that he wishes the Ring had never come to him. How often do we wish certain things had never come to us? Gandolf says, “Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, in which case you [Frodo] were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.”  As we are deciding what to do with the time that is given us, may we remember that nothing that is happening to us is outside the ultimate will of our good God. And that is an encouraging thought.

Originally published, April 23, 2020, based on readings from Ecclesiastes 10 & Titus 2.

Scripture Focus: Titus 2.11-14
11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Reflection: This Present Age—Readers’ Choice
By John Tillman

Frodo: I wish none of this had happened.
Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times; but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil.

We often wish we were some “when” and perhaps some “where” else, but God calls us instead, to live for him today, “In this present age.” (Titus 2.13) 

There was never an age of this earth in which evil did not wreak havoc, governments did not mishandle justice, and in which the church, in one capacity or another did not fail to fully live out the gospel. Our faith must not be in those things. We join in a prayer today based on what Paul declared the Holy Spirit would teach. 

Teach Us, Holy Spirit
Teach us, Holy Spirit, that in this age and in this space, you have placed us and called us.
May we be made eager to do good for the sake of the gospel.
May we all, men and women, live as examples: temperate, worthy of respect, and self-controlled.
May we be sound in our faith and in our love for others, and carry out the work of the gospel.
May we live reverently and truthfully, quenching any spark of slander and never sharing or spreading anything that is not factual.
May we be unfailingly kind and submissive to one another.
May no one be able to malign the word of God because of us.
Teach us by your Holy Spirit to show integrity and seriousness, taking care that no one can mistake or condemn what we say.
May even those who oppose us have nothing bad to say about us.
May we be models of integrity to our employers and fellow-laborers, trustworthy, and immune to corruption.
Teach us to say “no” to desires that are of this world, even ones that seem “good” to human wisdom. Teach us to say “yes” to desires that lead us closer to you, even when they seem “foolish” to human wisdom.
It is no more difficult to live in this age you have placed us in, Lord, than any other age of the church, and probably it is easier. You have placed us here and called us now, to live for you in this place, in this culture, in this time.
Make us ready, Lord, for the challenges that we will face as we await the blessed hope of Jesus Christ, who will redeem us from all wickedness and set right all that is wrong.
Come, Lord Jesus, come!

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Let the name of the Lord be blessed, from this time forth forevermore.
From the rising of the sun to its going down let the Name of the Lord be praised. — Psalm 113.2-3

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

Today’s Readings
Jeremiah 30-31 (Listen – 11:21)
Mark 16 (Listen – 2:34)

Read more about The Necessity of The Spirit
Jesus promised the Holy Spirit and told the disciples that it is to our benefit that he leave and the Spirit come.

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

Doing Unassailable Good

Scripture Focus: Titus 3.1-2
Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.

Acts 4.16, 21
“What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it…They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened.

Reflection: Doing Unassailable Good
By John Tillman

In Titus chapter 2 Paul said to “show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” And today, in Titus 3.2, he implores us to, “slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.”

In today’s climate of tweetstorms, rants, fake news, and the never-ending escalation of meaningless arguments, it may seem impossible to take Paul’s words to heart. Is it really possible to live in such a way that our critics would have nothing to say? That they would be ashamed to have accused us? 

Can we really be expected not to counter-attack those who attack us with falsehoods? Rather than turning the other cheek, we prefer that if they slander us in the left-wing news, we must slander them in the right-wing news. And vice-versa.

Living in our current culture of social media outrage (and the monetization of that outrage by social media companies) we tend to answer Paul by saying, “Sorry, Paul. That’s not possible or practical.” And it may not be possible. Not without a miracle, anyway.

In Acts chapter 4, we read of Peter and John before the Sanhedrin after performing a miraculous healing. Despite the fact that Peter and John proclaimed a resurrection that the Sanhedrin was paying bribes to cover up, they could not ignore the goodness of what Peter and John had done.

We cannot, without compromising the gospel, please everyone. This is demonstrated by the suffering and death that Peter and John eventually experience. But when the church acts in incontrovertibly beneficial ways on behalf of the community, those who oppose us will confess the goodness of our works, even if they deny the goodness of our gospel.

Christians need to repent from seeking to speak stridently enough to destroy our enemies. Instead, we need to seek to act miraculously, benefiting our communities, living out Christ’s model of servanthood, and enacting his resurrection before the world.

Peter and John were drawn to their miracle on their way to afternoon prayer. Perhaps one reason we do so few miracles in our world is that we are so seldom “on our way” to prayer as Peter and John were. 

In your prayer life today, what miraculous, unassailable good will the Holy Spirit draw you to enact?

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
O God, you know my foolishness, and my faults are not hidden from you. — Psalm 69.6

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.Today’s Readings
Ecclesiastes 11 (Listen – 2:33) 
Titus 3 (Listen -2:04)

This Weekend’s Readings
Ecclesiastes 12 (Listen – 2:38) Philemon (Listen -2:52)
Song of Songs 1 (Listen – 2:33) Hebrews 1 (Listen -2:15)

Read more about Choosing Gentleness Over Violence
We cannot continue posting and liking things that are resentful, quarrelsome, and the opposite of gentle, yet expect to represent Christ and the Gospel in the world.

Read more about Paul’s Stance on Gentleness
Ad-hominem attacks, meanness, violent language, and unkindness are not rhetorical tools that should be in the arsenal of Christians in the public square.


This Present Age—Guided Prayer

Scripture Focus: Titus 2.11-14

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Frodo: I wish none of this had happened.

Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times; but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil.

Reflection: This Present Age—Guided Prayer

By John Tillman

We often wish we were some “when” and perhaps some “where” else, but God calls us instead, to live for him today, “In this present age.” (Titus 2.13) 

There was never an age of this earth in which evil did not wreak havoc, governments did not mishandle justice, and in which the church, in one capacity or another did not fail to fully live out the gospel. Our faith must not be in those things. We join in a prayer today based on what Paul declared the Holy Spirit would teach. 

Teach Us, Holy Spirit

Teach us, Holy Spirit, that in this age and in this space, you have placed us and called us.

May we be made eager to do good for the sake of the gospel.

May we all, men and women, live as examples: temperate, worthy of respect, and self-controlled.

May we be sound in our faith and in our love for others, and carry out the work of the gospel.

May we live reverently and truthfully, quenching any spark of slander and never sharing or spreading anything that is not factual.

May we be unfailingly kind and submissive to other another.

May no one be able to malign the word of God because of us.

Teach us by your Holy Spirit to show integrity and seriousness, taking care that no one can mistake or condemn what we say.

May even those who oppose us have nothing bad to say about us.

May we be models of integrity to our employers and fellow-laborers, trustworthy, and immune to corruption.

Teach us to say “no” to desires that are of this world, even ones that seem “good” to human wisdom. Teach us to say “yes” to desires that lead us closer to you, even when they seem “foolish” to human wisdom.

It is no more difficult to live in this age you have placed us in, Lord, than any other age of the church, and probably it is easier. You have placed us here and called us now, to live for you in this place, in this culture, in this time.

Make us ready, Lord, for the challenges that we will face as we await the blessed hope of Jesus Christ, who will redeem us from all wickedness and set right all that is wrong.

Come, Lord Jesus, come!

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

Read more about Doing All Things Well
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things wel

Read more about Kingdom Manifestation :: A Guided Prayer
Ask God to make you the answer to this prayer. You are called to make manifest the kingdom of God.


Make No Peace With Death

Scripture Focus: Ecclesiastes 9.3-4
3 This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead. 4 Anyone who is among the living has hope—even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!

Titus 1.1-3
1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness— 2 in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, 3 and which now at his appointed season he has brought to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior

Reflection: Make No Peace With Death
By John Tillman

With all his wisdom, Solomon, the teacher, recognized that God had set eternity in the human heart (Ecclesiastes 3.11) but in some writings seemed to barely hold a glimpse of what God had in mind for humanity in eternity.

Solomon’s conclusion about death is not that dissimilar at times from billionaire tech giants of today (our culture’s definition of “wise men”) who see death as an evil that should be eradicated.

In 2018, Jacob Banas wrote about the cultish obsession of tech giants with longevity and defeating death:

“Traditional religion in the Bay Area is being replaced with…a belief in the power of technology and science to save humanity,” …Combine this…with leaders who are too young to find peace in the concept of death and who haven’t experienced the kinds of traumas that might inoculate them against some of that fear? You get a perfect storm of longevity obsession.”

When we look closer at the supposedly altruistic goals of “life extension” or “defeating death” we barely scrape the surface before uncovering the primary motivator—greed and the continued accumulation of wealth. 

The billionaire class is on a very real quest to create a new breed of altered humans who will live longer with greater ability to accumulate even more wealth and consolidate even more power. Sean Parker warned at a fundraiser for cancer research that wealth disparity will eventually create a “Class of Immortal Overlords.” He quipped, “Give us billionaires an extra hundred years and you’ll know what … wealth disparity looks like.”

The only correct thought about death that these tech giants have is that death is an enemy. The Christian does not make peace with death. Death is the final enemy to be defeated. 

The difference for believers is that we, unlike Solomon, are certain that death is defeated. (Titus 1.1-3) Death’s sting has no venom for the believer and his victory is as hollow as Jesus’ tomb. (1 Corinthians 15:54-56; Hosea 13:14; Isaiah 25:8) Death which Solomon called “evil” is to us but a door leading the presence of God. 

Death is not kind nor a friend. He is not to be smiled at or joked with. He intends to make us suffer. But like the thief on the cross, if we have the simplest and smallest faith in Christ, on the other side of death we will be embraced by our truest friend, Jesus.

Further Reading:
The Men Who Want to Live Forever — By Dara Horn
Sean Parker Says Wealth Disparity Will Create a ‘Class of Immortal Overlords’ — By Billy Perrigo
Seeking eternal life, Silicon Valley is solving for death — By W. Harry Fortuna

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Jesus said to the disciples: “In truth I tell you, when everything is made new again and the Son of man is seated on his throne of glory, you yourselves will sit on twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children, or land for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times as much, and also inherit eternal life. Many who are first will be last, and the last, first.” — Matthew 19.28-30

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

Today’s Readings
Ecclesiastes 9 (Listen – 3:13) 
Titus 1 (Listen -2:24)

Read more about Immortality and Resurrection
The point of the resurrection…is that the present bodily life is not valueless just because it will die. — N.T. Wright

Read more about Too Much to Hold
In Christ, we’re made to be like him
Too much for Death to hold
Grasped by him for a moment
But he cannot hold our souls


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