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!

The Moving Carpet

And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil (John 3:19).

Many years ago, one of my co-workers and her husband adopted a baby boy from the country of Costa Rica. When Ryan turned 13, Tamara and Bob decided it was important their son see the nation of his birth and meet the family he still had living there.

The family flew to the tiny Central American nation and with a guide, began making their way toward the small, remote village of their son’s birth.

The first night in Costa Rica, they found a village with a hotel. When they turned on the light in the room, Tamara said it was like the whole floor moved. The family was tired and passed the blur off to their sleepiness.

In the night, Tamara was awakened by a strange clicking noise. She turned on the tiny light next to the bed to find the walls, ceiling, and the entire floor of the room covered with cockroaches, which are creatures of the dark and generally associated with uncleanness and food waste.

Tamara screamed while Bob ran for the ceiling light. When he turned on the light, he said it was like entire floor shifted beneath his feet.

Tamara hid in the car while Bob and Ryan packed up the luggage.

Jesus described Himself as the Light of the world (John 9:5). Later He added that His works caused Him to be hated. Why? Because His works and His words revealed the sin in people’s lives (John 15:22-25).

Like the cockroaches scattering in the tiny Costa Rican hotel room when the light was turned on, sinners scatter when the Light of Jesus is shined upon their sins because their deeds are evil.

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

Praying in the Spirit

“How about a blog?”

I hesitated. “What in the world is a blog and will it hurt?” Next I wondered what I’d write about. Seven years and almost 2,000 blog posts later, I’m still wondering what to write about.

Sometimes prayer leaves us just as confused. We have a lot of needs and issues of our own, then there are friends and family, but how should we pray for these things? What do we say?

Years ago a woman asked an elder in my church for prayer. She had an unbearable pain in her shoulder and asked the man to pray that God would remove the pain.

The man carefully listened, despite being hard of hearing, bowed his head and began to pray something like this … “Father, help this woman find a new job. You know her need. Open doors for her with a good-paying job that she enjoys.”

When the man was done praying, the dumbfounded woman left disappointed that she’d been ignored.

The next week she shared with the congregation that out of nowhere she was offered a better paying job and her shoulder stopped hurting.

I’m so thankful that even when I don’t know how to pray, the Holy Spirit knows the will of God. He always prays exactly for the will of the Father, no matter what comes out of me; it’s only the will of God that is answered by God.

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but he Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God (Romans 8:26-27).

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).

Righteous Lot

righteous-lotYou recall the story from Genesis 19 of a man named Lot. He’d moved to the city of Sodom on the southern shore of the Dead Sea. There were five great cities there, forming a metropolitan area of both considerable wealth and prominence. In Sodom, Lot increased his wealth and political power.

God was aware of the gross sexual perversions of the 5 cities. God said that the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great … their sin is very grievous (Genesis 18:20). Their sin were so awful that their sins cried out to Him for judgment. From then until recent times, the sin of homosexuality has been known by the word sodomy. 

The Lord sent two angels to remove Lot and his family before His wrath fell on the cities. When the angels arrived in Sodom, they were attacked by a gang demanding to rape them.

The next morning, Lot hesitated to leave everything behind. His daughters and their families were there. All of his investments and property were there. It was his life and livelihood. Lot, his wife, and two unmarried daughters had to be dragged from the city by the angels. Once outside Sodom, Mrs Lot disobeyed God and looked back at all she’d left behind. As she looked, God turned her into a pillar of salt.

Peter wrote that God Delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed with the filthy conduct of the wicked, for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds (2 Peter 2:7-8).

Ask yourself these 3 questions:

First, Lot’s soul was vexed by the horrible sin of his city. Is your soul tormented by the sin around you or have you grown to accept it as just an alternative lifestyle?

Second, despite being tormented by the sin around him, Lot remained in Sodom. Would you have stayed there?

Third, if you knew that God’s wrath was about to fall on your city because of the sin, would you have fled in advance? waited to be dragged out like Lot? or even looked back like Mrs Lot?

He is Good

The Lord is good … (Nahum 1:7).

God is good and only does good, but our concept of good is seldom the same as God’s. The same rain we pray for to grow our food floods another man’s house; the sun that warms our home also burns our flesh. What God says is good can be met with skepticism, but we are unable to see the long-term goal of God in His works.

Second Samuel 12 records that when King David’s newborn son became ill, he pleaded, fasted, and humbled himself before the Lord. Seven days later the baby died. Jewish babies were always circumcised on the 8th day after birth (Leviticus 12:3), which means David’s son went both unnamed and uncircumcised, separated from God’s earthly covenant people (Genesis 17:13-14).

When David realized the baby was dead he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped (2 Samuel 12:20). He wasn’t callous; he knew that God in His wisdom and grace caused the baby to die and there was no more he could do or pray. He was surrendered to the will of God and David knew that it was his own sin that worked death in both him and his family. God’s will is always good and best. If we question God’s goodness, it’s not God who has done wrong, but us, because our sin blinds us to truth.

The circumstances of David’s life didn’t change who God was; He was good. David was confident of God’s continued fellowship and grace. He did what every person of faith does in distress: David worshiped the merciful, gracious, ever-worthy sovereign God, whose every act is one of goodness, justice, holiness, perfection, and love.

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

If I had a Million Dollars

winning-a-million-dollarsWhen he was 13, Daniel asked what I’d do if I won the lottery. It wasn’t a difficult question to answer because I’ve never bought a lottery ticket – and never will, but I know what he was asking. He wondered how our lives would change with more money.

The answer was simple: my life wouldn’t change. There would be no new house; I’d stay in my old manufactured home which keeps me dry and warm. No new car; my little Yaris gets me from point A to point B just fine. There might have been a few new toys for Daniel, but the rest would be given away to those whose needs are much greater than my own.

Evangelist John Wesley said, Money never stays with me long; I give it away as fast as I get it lest it burn a hole through my pocket and into my heart. 

For me, giving to God’s work and investing in others is more important than having more for myself. Dr CI Scofield used to remind his students that God won’t judge us based on what percentage we give to Him, but on how much we keep for ourselves.  Americans are a very, very generous people, but we still spend far more on ourselves for lives that are quickly fading into eternity.

A little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous  (Psalm 37:16-17).

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!

God is My Strength

humilityGod is my strength and power, and He makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of deer, and sets me on my high places. He teaches my hands to make war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze (2 Samuel 22:33-35).

God was David’s strength and power. He accounted every victory in his life to the Lord who even taught his hands to make war. Yes, David used weapons and strategies and soldiers against the enemies of his people, but these were not the source of a single victory. A nation can have every weapon known to man and still lose a war! That was the experience of the United States in Vietnam and the Soviets in Afghanistan. David’s victories were only because God brought defeat to Israel’s enemies.

All too often we fail to give God the credit for what He does in and through us. We are living wells of ever-bubbling pride, but it’s toward the humble that God condescends and gives strength in the midst of every trial.

David never forgot from where his every blessing flowed. He was aware of the One who stooped to fit and enable him for every service.