Marionville church leader compiles book of devotional studies
Bryan Cook's writings offer comfort, guidance
A Marionville church pastor has compiled a collection of devotions he was inspired to write for a community newspaper and turned them into a book of thoughtful insights offering hope, guidance and a path to spiritual maturity.
Pastor Bryan Cook, who has offered spiritual guidance to the parishioners of Union Grove Church in Marionville since 2003, originally wrote the articles for the church devotional page of The Aurora Advertiser.
I wrote one a week for three and a half years, Cook said. I would go into my office and pray for guidance before writing my message. Having been a pastor for more than 20 years, I have always waited for God to speak to me concerning the message he wanted me to share.
Compiled into book form, Just Be: A Book of Devotions, the messages are meant to reach those who do not normally attend church, or the elderly and shut-ins unable to attend services on a regular basis.
A lot of the older generation do not understand computers, Cook said. They still enjoy reading the newspaper. The devotionals were limited to 300 words for the purpose of the newspaper, and it isn't always easy to get the message in that small of a space. My goal was to get people thinking and look up the scriptures listed in the article on their own.
The short missives are based on Cook's actual experiences on his journey to Christ.
I teach about what I have experienced, he said. I can't teach what someone else has experienced. What I can do is set the goal for others to attain.
Cook likened the people of the world to seeds that have fallen to the ground.
These seeds are implanted in our minds as children, he said. Then the seeds grow up. There is nothing wrong with the seeds, but they grow according to the type of ground on which they have fallen. Good ground will yield good fruit. Bad ground? Well, a prison inmate once told me he prayed for crop failure.
Cook said the title of the book came from an experience he had several years ago.
I was driving down the road, pondering the things I had been allowed to do in my life, like teaching and missionary work in Mexico, he said. It was a time of praise and thanking the Father. I asked, 'Now, what, Lord?' and the Spirit said, 'Just be.' I didn't know how to do that. To simply relax and be who I am with Christ in me. I'm still learning.
In this age of electronic devices draining every ounce of attention from their owners, Cook speaks to the sense of isolation one experiences throughout various times in their lives.
I talk about co-dependence, independence and inter-dependence, he said. We all influence each other, and we're all taken for granted. Then, it's eye-opening to realize how much others care for us in a time of crisis, when people come together to support their friends and neighbors.
Cook says he pursues a Christ-centered ministry.
My whole ministry is based on Christ within, he said. God loves us. God loves people. He does whatever it takes to give his children peace.
Cook believes the encouraging messages in his book, Just Be, will help bring hope and healing to many.
If just one person receives a message that they need to hear, it will be worth the effort, he said.
Just Be: A Book of Devotions, by Bryan Cook, is available on Amazon.com in both hard copy and e-book formats. Books may also be purchased by sending a $15 money order to Bryan Cook, PO Box 104, Marionville, Mo. 65705.