When Praying Isn’t Spiritual

praying Oct 2015

As a young pastor, I was asked by another pastor outside my denomination to preach on a certain topic in his church. My reply was to let me pray about it and I would get back to the man. That’s what a spiritual person did, I’d been taught.

I called a mentor, Pastor Bill Hulet, and asked what I should do.

Has God called you to preach the gospel? Pastor Hulet asked.


Has He called you to preach the gospel to every creature? Even a Methodist?

I guess so, I replied.

Then why do you need to pray about it? Praying about what you already know to do isn’t a sign of spirituality or faith, it’s prideful disobedience. It’s not your place to decide whether or not to obey His call. Always accept every opportunity to preach, then have faith that God is leading you and will speak through you. 

We often pray about things God has already spoken concerning. Instead of praying for guidance when we know His will, we are to simply trust and obey.

As long as there are no restrictions on what I preach, I’ve since accepted every invitation.

Having then gifts different according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness (Romans 12:6-8).

Fishing and Catching – Gospel of Mark

Fishers of Men Oct 2015

You’ve heard the joke: there’s a reason it’s called ‘fishing’ rather than ‘catching’.

As a young boy I remember my father taking me camping at an isolated lake he’d found in the Oregon coastal range mountains. With a small rowboat, we went out on the lake as the sun rose over the mountains to fish for our dinner.

It seemed that we had been out in that boat forever. No movement was allowed. Not a sound could be uttered. Yes, the cold water was home to trout, but the wait to catch these fish was more than this hungry, antsy, little boy could take.

Swimming in the water were scads of small brown and orange water newts. The fish didn’t want to be caught that morning, but the newts were ready. They were easy to catch. I merely dropped the wormed hook onto the surface of the water and the newts fought to be captured! I was so eager to “catch” that I’d take anything on my hook. I fished to catch every trout, but not every trout was caught … and that day none were caught.

Jesus called to two brothers fishing on the Sea of Galilee: Come after Me, and I will make you become fishers of men (Mark 1:17).

My observance has always been that fish don’t want to be caught. Despite our best efforts, the latest technology, or number of hours stood on the shoreline, only a very few fish will nibble and even fewer will take the hook. Even those which take the hook will fight against the fisherman. Never does a fisherman stand on the shore with rod and reel in hand and fish jump out of the water eager to be put in a knapsack and slapped into a hot frying pan.

We may be fishers of men, but only the Spirit of God can forcefully overcome the natural sinful instincts of a man for the glorious gospel of grace. Still we cast our line into the water and wait.

Jesus said, No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him (John 6:44).

The Rainbow

Double Rainbow

It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh (Genesis 10:14-15).

After the world-wide flood in the days of Noah, God set the rainbow in the sky as a reminder or sign to Himself of His promise not to destroy the earth again by water.

Some political groups have chosen the rainbow to describe their movements. The homosexual movement uses such colors. Originally designed with 8 stripes based on hippie ideology, the colors represent:

  • pink – sexuality
  • red – life
  • orange – healing
  • yellow – sunlight
  • green – nature
  • turquoise – magic/art
  • blue – serenity/harmony
  • violet – spirit

Colors can be used to represent anything a person desires, but the rainbow symbolizes God’s oath. Some misunderstand His promise to mean that He will never again judge humanity. However, the Bible does tell of a future judgment when the heavens will be dissolved being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat. Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:12-13).


Why You Love Me

Why You Love Me 10.8.15

My wife occasionally says to me, “I don’t know why you love me.

I can think of a thousand-and-one different reasons to love her. The real wonder is why God would love me.

And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief (1 Timothy 1:14-15).


Alex and Richard (2015)

Alex and Richard (2015)

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world (James 1:27).

The knock at the door was Alex, a young boy living a few doors down. My wife and I had been in Kangundo, Kenya only a few days, and Alex remembered me from my previous visit. He stood with the biggest smile his face could muster.

Hello. What would you like today? Did you come for a sweet? I asked. Even the simplest things, like a piece of candy, are the extremely rare treat in Kenya. While most Kenyan children understand basic English, far fewer speak English. Alex just grinned.

I knew what Alex wanted. On the ground behind him was his soccer ball made of old plastic grocery bags bound together by random pieces of string.

I came all the way from America to see you and all you want is a sweet? I teased.

He kept smiling.

I’ll be back in just a minute, and went to my room. I’d stuffed a suitcase with candies for the children and pulled out a handful. I put on my shoes and played “football” with Alex and the other children.

Alex is an orphan.

Kenya has the 3rd highest number of children orphaned by AIDS in the world. The UN estimates than 1 in 4 children under the age of 15 in Kenya is an orphan. Nearly half the nation’s population is under the age of 15. Imagine!

My wife and I were brought to tears recently with news that an orphanage we are familiar with is sending its children back to the villages where they were born. There isn’t enough money to provide the most basic of services. Many of these children will die alone on the streets or be sold into prostitution to European and Chinese businessmen.

Half of all Kenyan households live under the international poverty rate of $1.25 per day. Someone asked, “Are all Americans rich?” My answer is “yes.” If you have shelter and food for just today, you are rich.

If God determined that you to live in the United States or another Western nation, He is testing you. You’ve been born into abundance. You may not have everything your neighbor has, but you have more than most people in the world. His test is whether or not you use the abundance He’s given on yourself or on those who have so much less.

If you’d like to know how you can help an orphan in Kenya, please email me at Rice.Richard@hotmail.com.

The Strength of One Hair

human hair 10 2015

A single human hair can stretch up to 25% of it’s length without breaking. And to top that off: the hair on the average human head could lift 12 tons of weight if the scalp was strong enough. Something as simple as the human hair can be very strong.

The Bible says:

Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12).

We are often called upon to stand alone, but having a good friend (or two) may be the difference between being overpowered and withstanding an enemy.

He Didn’t Die for Lions – Gospel of Matthew

Cecil the Lion 10 2015

In early July 2015, news spread quickly around the world about a little known American man and a little known Zimbabwean lion. Walter James Palmer the dentist killed Cecil the lion. Americans rioted in the streets and threatened to butcher the dentist and his family.

It’s very easy to misplace value. Jesus didn’t die on the cross to save lions; He came to save sinful people.

He shall save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).

While we place the greater value in man-made objects like cars and houses, animals like the spotted owls and old lions, the “freedom to choose” over unborn babies, God has placed the greater value in humanity. Talking about God’s care of flowers and animals, Jesus then added, Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:26).

God cares about lions, but He only ever said that He loves people.

Before entering Jerusalem to be horribly beaten, tried and condemned in a kangaroo court, and then mercilessly murdered upon a cross, the disciples of Jesus argued over which of them would be greatest. Jesus told them that the heathen place value in power over others, but the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28).

Lions are beautiful (unless you’re a gazelle), but God places the greatest value in humanity which He created in His own image (Genesis 1:26). He proved that value by sacrificing His own Son to redeem sinners: not lions.

Hearing God’s Voice

God Speaks Oct 2015

Prayer is a man’s word to God; the Bible is God’s Word to man.

When we pray, we open and pour out the contents of our hearts and minds to the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. He speaks in turn to us – not with revelations or impressions which are so easily contrived by our own selves or others – but through His written Word, the Bible. If you want to hear His voice, you must listen to His Word.

As we pray, in time, we may observe His answers through the works of His providence. His replies of “yes”, “no”, and “wait” come as visible reminders of what He has already spoken in Scripture.

If you want to know God’s way, His will, His direction to you … read and study His Word.

Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Your word is a lamp to my feet and light to my path (Psalm 119:11, 105).

Scare the Hell out of Them

Scare the Hell 10 2015

Marcus went to bed earlier than usual. The morning would bring a special day for the 13-year old. He was trying out for his junior high school basketball team and needed to be rested and ready to make the squad.

From out of the hallway he heard the clock chime its familiar tune. It was 2 am. “So much for going to bed early if I don’t fall asleep early,” he thought to himself.

A short time later Marcus awoke to a screeching sound and the smell of smoke. In the same hallway where the clock chimed every hour hung the smoke alarm. He heard his parents yelling and his two baby sisters crying. He was scared. Just then his bedroom door smashed open. Marcus jumped hastily from his bed and followed his father through the smokey hallway to the front door. He could feel the searing heat of the flames as he rushed past the kitchen.

Safe outside, the family huddled in the street as the police arrived and then a fire truck. Now every part of the house lit up the night sky. Marcus felt dazed by what he was seeing. Everything he had … everything he knew … it was gone. He was sure he was going to puke.

The young teen turned in the street toward the sidewalk just in time to walk into the path of a passing car, the driver looking at the fire rather than the road. Marcus was dead.

Just because you scare the Hell out of someone with tales of everlasting fire, the mark of the beast, or a world war, doesn’t mean he is safe in the arms of Jesus. Threats and fears don’t convert men; only grace through faith in Jesus saves.

 Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved (Acts 16:31).

Fall and Autumn


In America, we call the season from September to December Fall. It’s the time of year when daylight hours wane and the temperatures drop before it gets bitingly frigid. The season is noticeable because the leaves on the trees turn from green to orange, yellow and red before dropping to the ground.

In pre-industrial Europe this time was called harvest, which comes from the Norwegian word haust, “to gather or pluck.” As the agrarian society gave way to industrialization, and more people moved from the farms to the cities, the word harvest was replaced by Fall to recognize the fall of the leaves. 

Those who speak American-English prefer the word fall while British-English speakers use the word autumn almost without exception.

Fall is a reminder of death. It is the end of the food-growing season for six months, warm summer play and flowers and greenery. Death, however, eventually gives way to springtime when animals give birth, temperatures warm, and plants come to life with bloom.

Some worry that human activity will destroy the seasons; that global warming, climate change, and pollution will destroy the earth. God promises otherwise:

While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease (Genesis 8:22). 

The Fall of Man into sin brought death to all mankind; but through Jesus, new life is possible through His death and resurrection spring from the grave.

For it by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17).