Waiting with Martin Luther (daily faith practice, 4/29/20)

Written by Rev. Craig Moock, pastor, Rural Chapel United Methodist Church in Galena, OH

As we look to practice our faith daily, I was brought to the life of a man who lived in the 1500’s named Martin Luther (after whom the Lutheran Church was named) who was forced to wait.  In my sermon on Sunday, I spoke about how waiting is hard whether it is waiting for something good, bad or uncertain and I asked the question, “What would this time of waiting for the end of the coronavirus look like if God filled our waiting with meaning?” 

Martin Luther’s season of waiting was when he stood up to the corrupt religious authorities of his time and they threatened to kill him.  In order to keep Luther safe, Frederick the Wise of Germany sent Luther to live in a castle away from everyone.  This was a lonely and trying time for Luther.

So, what did Luther do with his time of waiting?  He decided to translate the Bible into German in order to give the people a Bible in their own language.  This translation of the Bible and Luther’s Reformation put God’s Word into the hands of regular people and transformed many lives for Jesus.

What is God asking you to do during this season of waiting?  When you can answer that, you will know God’s call on your life. 

Blessings and Wash Your Hands,

Pastor Craig  

P.S. I have pictures of the castle where Luther was exiled and will show them in great detail to anyone who is interested!!!

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

Bite-sized daily devotionals (daily faith practice, 4/28/20)

Written by Kay Coughlin, community member of Rural Chapel United Methodist Church in Galena, OH. You can watch a short video about this topic here.

My definition of a devotional is a study about God’s Word that somebody else has written to help us interpret and go deeper into a scripture or story from the Bible. It’s an outstanding tool to grow in my faith. Yet I will admit that often, I feel tired out by the idea of doing a long, intense devotional study. And the reality is, that prevents me from starting a devotional, much less making it a regular part of my day and rhythm in my growing relationship with Christ.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend recommended I look at the YouVersion Bible study app (you can use it in a web browser or you can download an app through your phone’s app store). Of course I am sure this suggestion was part of God’s work in me! Because I have found a lot of shorter, more “bite-sized” devotionals that seem less of a challenge to fit into my day. I haven’t explored the service fully, but it looks like I could go a lot deeper into a topic whenever I am ready. And I am really using this app to help me fit God into my day whenever I have a little bit of time!

If you, like me, don’t always have the energy to try to do a big devotional study, please give yourself the grace and mercy to let God meet you wherever you are. Just do a little and let your faith grow, knowing that you aren’t disappointing God by admitting to your human weaknesses!

Yours in Christ,

Kay Coughlin

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’

Matthew 4:4

Prayer Page: Week of April 26, 2020 – He Gives Us Peace!

Rural Chapel United Methodist Church, located in Galena, OH, believes in the power of prayer.

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray. (Ephesians 6:18-19)

Prayer requests for needs and joys can be submitted by leaving a comment below. You may submit prayer requests anonymously, if you wish – God will know your identity. He will embrace you in His loving arms. Comments may be moderated in order to assure the safety and peace of those for whom we pray. A new prayer post will be added each week.

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God is our CEO (daily faith practice, 4/24/20)

Written by Rev. Craig Moock, pastor, Rural Chapel United Methodist Church in Galena, OH

As we contemplate practicing our faith today, I would like for us to ponder what our lives would look like if we made God our CEO?

As I understand it, it is the responsibility of the CEO to set the direction of a company and to make the big decisions which will lead that company the direction that they have set.  I think of giants like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos.  They are people who looked out into the future and oriented their companies to address needs… some of them did this before the world even knew that those needs existed. 

Well… who can see better into the future than God?  Who is better equipped to set the direction of our lives than God? And who is better at making big decisions for our lives than God?

However, we often treat God more like a disaster response team in our lives than we do like the CEO, only going to Him when things have gone wrong. 

It is like deciding to go on a whitewater rafting trip, getting flipped over because the water was too high and, only then, reaching out to God for help.  Wouldn’t it have been better to ask God to be your CEO who would tell you to go mountain biking that day instead of whitewater rafting because He could see that the water was too high?

The way that we can practically do this is to spend time in prayer and God’s Word daily seeking His will before we make decisions.  This gives space for us to listen to where God is leading us and allows God to be the CEO of our lives.

What would your life look like if you allowed God to be the CEO of your life?

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.

Proverbs 16:3

How to Read God’s Word (daily faith practice, 4/23/20)

Written by Rev. Craig Moock, pastor, Rural Chapel United Methodist Church in Galena, OH

I come our daily faith development time today with a great tool for reading the Bible.  As we know, reading the Bible for ourselves is the best way to grow in faith regardless of where we are in our spiritual development.  However, understanding what we are reading can often be a challenge.  The simple tool below can help us navigate God’s word with better clarity for how we can apply it to our lives.

O – Observation – What does the passage say?

I – Interpretation – What does the passage mean?

A – Application – How does that passage apply to my life?

If we look at Romans 8:28 through this lens, it can look like this.  Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the Good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (NIV)

Observation – I observe that there is a man named Paul who wrote this to the church in Rome as an encouragement because they are undergoing persecution.  This encouragement says that, in regard to people who love God and who are called according to His purpose, God works everything for good.  This includes the suffering that the Roman church is enduring.  Paul does not list any exceptions to this statement.  Believing this takes a deep faith in God regardless of the circumstances that a person is going through.

Interpretation – I interpret that this passage applies to those in Rome that Paul was writing to and it applies to those who follow Jesus in the present day.  I interpret that Paul means exactly what he says and is not saying this as an exaggeration, hyperbole or metaphor.  I interpret through the lens of the book of Philippians that Paul lived out this truth while trusting God to bring good even out of his imprisonment.  I also interpret that this passage does not say that God causes bad things that happen to us, but that God brings good out of all that happens to God’s people in this broken world that we live in. 

Application – As I look to apply this to my life during this season of the coronavirus, I see this as an opportunity to grow in my faith.  My goal is to trust that God will bring good out of this crisis and to be actively looking for what that good is.  My goal is to go to God in prayer when I get discouraged and cannot see how God is bringing good out of a situation.  This allows God to show me how He is a work and God usually calms my soul through prayer.  I also want to encourage others with this passage when they cannot see God at work in their lives just as Paul encouraged me.

Church, I hope that you find this tool helpful and that you are taking time every day to engage God’s Word!!!

And we know that in all things God works for the Good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:28

Choose Joy (daily faith practice, 4/22/20)

Written by Rev. Craig Moock, pastor, Rural Chapel United Methodist Church in Galena, OH

As we practice our faith today, my encouragement for us all is that we are to choose Joy!!  It says in Psalm 30:11 “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with Joy!” (NIV). 

For David, he had joy because God changed his situation.  However, for many of us, God gives us Joy, not because He changed our situation, but because he changed our view of our situation. When you experience the love of the God who created the universe, it is possible to have Joy regardless of your circumstances. 

With that, if we are to choose Joy in the midst of this present challenge, we need to be more focused on God and God’s love than we are on the challenges which face us.  So today, I encourage us all to turn to God.  Trust that God can and will bring you Joy regardless of your situation and He will turn your wailing into dancing and clothe you with Joy.  You are missed!!!

You turned my wailing into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.

Psalm 30:11

Practice rest (daily faith practice, 4/21/20)

Written by Rev. Craig Moock, pastor, Rural Chapel United Methodist Church in Galena, OH

As we look at practicing our faith today, I want to encourage us all to practice rest.  You read that right, I am asking us to practice rest. 

From the very beginning, rest is one of the things that God has told us to do… and not only that, He modeled it for us even when He did not have to.  God created in six days and on the seventh, God rested.  God infused all of creation with the need to stop on a regular basis and disconnect from work in order to restore our minds, our hearts, our souls and our bodies.

The need for rest is real for our land in regard to farming, it is real for many trees every winter when they shed their leaves for the season and rest is a very real need for us. 

In the time of this present crisis, rest can be hard to come by for various reasons, but it is essential.  While we need to rest, many of us do not feel like we have the time or capacity.  So… here is something that you can practically do in ten or so minutes to rest.  I believe that you will feel rested when you do this.

1.       Light a candle – Remind yourself that the world can live without you for 10 minutes. While the candle is lit, there is nothing that is required of you.  God’s got it!!!

2.       Intentionally, set aside all of your responsibilities for the moment – They will come back to your mind.  That is ok.  Give them to God.  God’s got it!!!

3.       Check in with yourself – How do you feel?  How does your body feel?  Let the emotions flow and ask God for what you need.  God’s got it!!!

4.       Ask God for rest – In the book of Hebrews, the author speaks about God’s rest as a place that we can go.  Ask God to take you there and give you His rest.  God’s got it!!

5.       Thank God – Thank God for the gifts he gave you while you were at rest.  Blow out the candle and trust that He is at work in all of your work when you return to it.  God’s got it!!

..for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.

Hebrews 4:10

Just keep going (daily faith practice, 4/18/20)

Written by Rev. Craig Moock, pastor, Rural Chapel United Methodist Church in Galena, OH

One of the most powerful bits of spiritual wisdom that I have received over the years was from a mentor of mine when I was stuck.  That wisdom was that some sometimes in life you just need to keep going. 

Sometimes, we are not sure of the next steps.  Sometimes, we do not know what God has planned for us.  Sometimes, it feels like what we are doing is futile.  All of that is ok and part of life.  We all feel that way at times. 

Yet, there is power in trusting that God is at work and just continuing in the same direction that God last showed us where to go.  If you are going the right way, you can trust that God will use your faithfulness to bear fruit.  If you are going the wrong way, you can trust that God will change your direction if you let Him. 

However, if you just stop, then you will no longer be in motion, and it is easier to redirect a moving object than to get an object at rest moving again.  I am certain the God’s people who wandered around the wilderness for 40 years felt that way at times and yet God was actively involved in leading them the whole time just as God is actively leading us at this time.

Remember that God loves you and will never leave you.   

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9

Telling God’s stories (daily faith practice, 4/17/20)

Written by Rev. Craig Moock, pastor, Rural Chapel United Methodist Church in Galena, OH

As we look at practicing faith today, I reminded that one of the oldest methods that people have used to grow their faith has been to tell the stories of God. 

Regardless of what we face, when we hear stories of God and God’s faithfulness, it builds our faith and reminds us of how God has worked in the past.  These stories have carried God’s people through hard times in the past and they will carry us through in the midst of this present crisis. 

One of the main stories which gets shared of God’s faithfulness from the Old Testament is in the book of Exodus about God freeing His people from slavery in Egypt.  What is interesting, more contemporarily, is that those who were slaves in America heard the stories of God’s faithfulness in the time of Exodus and that gave them faith that God, too, would deliver them from their slavery. 

Today, in a much lesser way, many of us might feel enslaved by how the coronavirus has upended our world.  What might the story of the Exodus do to bolster your faith during this time?  What stories of God’s Faithfulness might you share with others to bolster faith that God will indeed deliver us from this present crisis?

God is with us.  Tell someone about it. 

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:11

Encourage one another (daily faith practice, 4/16/20)

Written by Rev. Craig Moock, pastor, Rural Chapel United Methodist Church in Galena, OH

As I look at practicing faith today, I was drawn to I Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”(NIV) 

As people who have hope in a Risen Savior we are to be an encouragement to one another and to the world.  Right now, people need encouragement more than ever. 

In my interactions with people these days, what I am seeing is that people are doing their best, but that the pressures of their present situations have them running thin.  Some people are at home bored out of their minds, others are overly busy as essential workers while also trying to educate their children at home, high school seniors are grieving the loss of most or all of the events that are supposed to accompany their senior year and money has become a real pressure for others. 

Within those challenges and many others, what can we do as God’s people to encourage someone today? 

For me, I want to remind you that God loves you, God is in this with you, God has a plan for your life and that plan is awesome.  I hope that you were encouraged today!!!

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:11