The Answer to Hate and Racism

Looting. Murder. Rioting. Stealing. Theft. Destruction. Anger. Burning. Violence. Fear-mongering. Hatred. Racism. Disregard for the rule of law. Race-war. Rage. Tearing down statues. Injustice. Inflammatory name-calling. Lawlessness.

These are all summed up in one foul word: S I N.

Whatever else you may want to call it – these are all acts and attitudes of evil men whose hearts are filled with the darkness of sin. Sin perpetuating more sin and then used as an excuse for even greater sin.

Don’t be mistaken. Don’t be detoured from what the Bible says. The answer is not found in tearing down monuments to the past, making laws restricting free speech or free assembly, violent attacks, or in shaming certain beliefs and political movements. Don’t look to laws or protests or penalties for answers to hate and racism. These same tools can be used to silence your beliefs … even your Christian beliefs.

As Christians, we are convinced that the answer to the evil in the heart is in the transformation of the human heart through the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Light has coming into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the Light and does not come to the Light, lest His deeds should be exposed (John 3:19-20).

Are You Hungry?

where living begins

I sat down for lunch today with a can of tuna. Before I’d even plunged my fork into the can, the cat emerged from her hiding place and sat next to me. I hadn’t seen her since breakfast.

No sooner had I finished the last bite and she disappeared for her afternoon nap. Her only interest in me was what she thought she might get from me.

Do you ever act this way toward God?

I know people who run to Him only when they’re hungry for something; the rest of the time they give Him no mind.

Jesus said, You seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled (John 6:26).

A Father of the Fatherless

Richard and Moses at Family of God Celebration Center, Mutalia, Kenya

Sunday was no different than usual. Moses is always one of the first to run to me when I arrive in the church in Mutalia.

I always make a careful effort to preach in a way so that everyone present – including the children – can understand the gospel message. When I finished my sermon, I was immediately rushed by the children, many of whom I’ve watched grow up these past four years. These children love me and I dearly love them. Half of this congregation consists of young children.

After a few minutes of hugs and fist-bumps, Moses, pulled me down and whispered in my ear, May I speak to you in private? His eyes were serious.

We walked to a secluded spot outside and I knelt in the dirt so this 9-year old boy and I could talk eye-to-eye. Will you take me back to America to live with you? I’ve asked my Mother and she says it is okay. What message shall I return to her?

A few hours later I met Moses’ humble and quiet mother. She and her two children live in the only place they can afford, a small room not bigger than the typical American’s bathroom. There they cook, eat, wash, play, sleep, do school work, and carry on the lives of a family.

I know my wife wouldn’t have minded had I arrived at the airport in Portland with Moses and another thousand children like him, but it was impossible. I’m thankful however, that God has given Moses and his little sister a godly mother who loves them, and that He watches over them when I cannot.

A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation (Psalm 68:5).

Sin Isn’t the Leading Cause of Death

As Christians, we sometimes wonder why God doesn’t bring an end to the pain and suffering in this world caused by sin. We ask, “Where is God’s justice?” But God has done something: He sent Jesus to die for sinners.

Our real difficulty is accepting God’s patience. We want Him to do something now, something we can see today and know that justice is being served.

God’s justice, however, is bittersweet when we remember that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Sin isn’t the leading cause of death – it’s the only cause of death. God told Adam and Eve that in the day they disobeyed Him, you shall surely die (Genesis 2:17); and so it’s been ever since.

His justice means that the sin of every person must be punished. Every sinner must suffer the consequences of offending God. Crying out for God’s justice means that some of our own family members and friends will be forced to cash that check which brings eternal damnation.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).

Kenya in Your Blood

Click here to watch a 1-minute highlight video of our recent time in Kenya.

Thanks to my true son in Christ, who did such a wonderful job catching the highlights of our 30 days in Kenya and putting this video together.

Soli Deo Gloria!

The Lord of the Flies

lord of the fliesWilliam Golding’s book, The Lord of the Flies, is the story of a group of well-monied, well-bred, and well-socialized boys who become stranded on an island during a war. Left to themselves, they very quickly descend into evil and their sin natures take full control over every aspect of life. The boys inflict every evil imaginable upon each other. Without an outside, redeeming influence, they become wicked savages.

The Bible reminds us who have trusted in Christ alone for salvation: Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day of Christ’s return approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25).

No one can live the life of faith alone. Christians need other Christians, just as the finger needs the hand if it is to function and live (First Corinthians 12:14-27). God has attached each one of His people to another for support and strength; but when we are separated from the body into which He joins us, we become weak, discouraged, and even lifeless. It’s not that we lose our salvation and revert to spiritual savagery, but we lose the encouragement, growth, and life which Jesus provides to us through His body (Ephesians 4:15-16).

As the Christian husband nourishes and cherishes his believing wife in her faith and life (Ephesians 5:29), so Christians do to one another through our Head, Jesus.

** Please keep us in prayer while we minister in Kenya. Thanks!

My 5-Year Plan

Pastor, Richard L Rice, where living begins

A newly installed first-time pastor asked me, “What’s your 5-year plan?” The first thought in my mind was: “He sounds like a communist”, but then I realized this greenhorn wasn’t even alive when there was a Soviet Empire, so I tempered my response. “I plan to be serving the Lord wherever He has me.” He wasn’t amused.

There is nothing wrong with planning. It can be wise, but it can also be folly. We plan, create unrealistic expectations, and then fall into despair or crazed anger when those expectations don’t materialize as we imagined. Our plans can be so narrow and strict that we leave no room for the spontaneous or the unexpected. This is true in government planning, ministry, or daily life.

I have a general idea of what I need to accomplish today. Other than that, I’m open to whatever God does or brings. A 2-hour drive for an ice cream cone on Saturday? A long text conversation with my sister? Staying home and caring for my sick wife? All are acceptable. Life in God’s kingdom is about the journey. It’s along the journey that He builds our strength, stretches our faith, tests our integrity, and expands our horizons. None of these happen in the destination.

God does His most awesome work in us outside of our plans.

There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the Lord’s counsel – that will stand (Proverbs 19:21).

Kenyatta, Odinga, and the Will of God

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God (Romans 13:1).

Kenya is a young nation, having gained its independence from the British on December 12, 1963. The nation has struggled to set aside tribal animosity and bind itself together as one people. Politics has been the flash point. A decade ago, over 1,000 people were murdered in election violence.

Voting for a candidate, or against a candidate, based on his tribal ethnicity instead of his beliefs – will destroy Kenya and any other nation. Tribalism divides rather than heals.

In a few days, on August 8th, Kenyans will go to the polls to elect their president. The great question every Kenyan should be asking is not which candidate will win the election, Kenyatta or Odinga, but how the hearts of sinful men will respond to the will of God.

Therefore, whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves (Romans 13:2).

** Please keep us in prayer while we minister in Kenya. Thanks!

The Day I Wet My Pants

blushing boy

I was a shy boy and it was my third school that year. Mrs Rogers was a kindly old lady with orange-red hair and glasses who taught the second grade.

Each day, when we finished eating our lunches, we had to pass through Mrs Rogers’ inspection. Before dismissing us for recess, she’d shake our paper milk cartons to make sure we hadn’t tried to hide our peas or some other icky vegetable.

That fateful day I finished lunch and stood in the line at Mrs Roger’s desk. I got to her desk, she looked over my tray, shook my milk carton and then asked me, “Richard, do you need to use the restroom?” This shy 7-year old kid nodded his head but it was too late. Standing there holding my lunch tray, with a line of kids behind me, I wet my pants.

My only buddy, Leroy, was standing behind me and asked Mrs Rogers what the liquid all over the floor was. This discreet and wonderful teacher said simply, “Richard spilled something,” and walked me to the school office so I could call home for a clean pair of pants.

Mrs Rogers could have scolded the new kid in front of my classmates. She could have said something to Leroy so I wouldn’t have wanted to return the next day. She might have done something to belittle me. Instead, she kindly protected me and my dignity.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver (Proverbs 25:11).

Letters to God

Lord, teach us to pray … (Luke 11:1).

For all our complaints, the United States Postal Service is a marvel. Each day, a postal worker picks up mail at your door and delivers it directly to any other door in the United States of America. More than 660 million pieces of mail are delivered each day in the US.

I can write a letter, make an invitation, or box a package, and the postal worker picks it up at my home and it can be delivered the very same day on the other end of the country. For my African readers, it would be the same as writing a note at your home in Kangundo, Kenya and having it delivered directly to the home of your friend in South Africa the very same day.

Post Offices even receive daily letters to God. Each letter is read and some are answered. Some letters received recently in Tampa Bay, Florida are thank you notes like this one in Florida, “God, thank you for coming into my life — and giving me Zayna.” Others are requests, “Lord, I know you are preparing a husband for me one day.” Even Jesus gets love letters: “I understand I’m your chosen land. I love you completely.” Some packages to God even contain small gifts of candy or money.

For only 49 cents, the US Postal Service makes this all possible, but messages to God can be sent without payment.

One day as Jesus finished praying to His Father, the disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray. He had a way of intimately praying that was foreign to His 12 disciples. They knew fancy words and patterns, but nothing of sincerity from the heart to a personal God who loved and desired relationship.

Jesus taught them to pray by example and instruction. Have you been taught to pray? If so, do you make the most of it?