Category Archives: Personal

Giving a child a "capuche."

I just returned from a week-long (June 7-12) mission trip in Ensenada, Mexico with a group of families from Christ United Methodist Church in Memphis, Tennessee.   My good friend Ken Elben is the student ministries pastor there and he invited me to come, which I was happy to do.  I’ve always enjoyed these trips which include building houses for poor families and providing a daily “VBS” (Vacation Bible School) program for neighborhood children.  I’ve put together a few carnival-type games which we take down there and use to attract the kids, then we do puppets, drama, crafts and a Bible story.  This year most of the children came from migrant farm-worker camps, the poorest of the poor in Mexico.  Despite the dirty faces and ragged clothes, they are beautiful children who enjoy laughter, candy, play, love and attention just like all children do.

Many groups have cancelled mission trips to Mexico this year because of violence along the border and the threat of swine flu.  In Ensenada, neither seem to be an issue and the staff at YUGO Ministries did a great job of easing everyone’s fears, both before and during the week of ministry there.  Mexico seemed pretty normal to me except for fewer tourists in downtown Ensenada.  The cruise ships have stopped going there also, at least for now.

Meanwhile, know that there are some dedicated Christians who live and work in Mexico day in and day out, serving the poor and faithfully proclaiming the Good News.  If you ever get a chance to work with them for a week or two during the year, don’t pass up the chance.  It can be a life-changing experience for you, as it has been for me.

guitar-girlIn our VBS programs each year, I like to take a small guitar with me and let the children strum while I play the chords with my left hand.  The children are always amazed that they are making music while everyone else sings along.  The photo (right) and the  short video clip below was taken Monday when we visited a small church in one of the poor neighborhoods. The children come to eat a meal provided by the church. We spent a few minutes with them singing songs, including “Christo Me Ama” (Jesus Loves me).


Category: Ministry, Personal

Here’s a fun sing-a-long that my old band Brush Arbor did with Johnny Cash and his family (Mother Maybelle Carter, June Carter Cash, Anita Carter and his daughters Rosie and Rosanne)  on an NBC-TV special in December, 1973.  We’re on the back row wearing our “Nudie Suits.”  The clip opens with a quick shot of Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass, who was also on the show.

There are more clips posted on YouTube from the TV show including “Daddy Sang Bass” which features the entire cast of the show and close-ups of Brush Arbor (Ken Munds, Dave Rose, Dale Cooper, Jim Rice, Joe Rice and me.)  Larry Gatlin is also standing with us (in the middle) and there are some fun shots of Carl Perkins and Johnny’s brother Tommy Cash.

There are also two musical performances by Brush Arbor from this TV show:  “Brush Arbor Meeting” (introduced by Johnny Cash) and “Let’s All Go Down to the River” featuring instrumental solos by each of us and  Dave Rose’s  famous “balancing on the bass” routine.


Category: Bluegrass, Personal
John F. Rice (1920-1968)

John F. Rice (1921-1968)

I write this on Memorial Day 2009 as we pay tribute to all the men and women who have served our country over the years, especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and way of life.

I want to remember especially my father John Forest Rice, who was a Navy Seabee during World War II and the best man I ever knew.  He taught me so much … how to love God,  how to love my wife and kids, how to love music, how to love hard work.  He died a young man, at age 48 in an auto accident but his influence and legacy lives on.

Thanks Dad for serving your family, your country and your Lord so well during your brief time with us.  Outside of the Lord himself, you’re the first person I’ll be looking for when I get to heaven.  See you soon!

Me and Dad a Long Long Time Ago

Me and Dad a Long Long Time Ago


Category: Family, Personal

dsc01876We had a great time on Easter Sunday celebrating the Resurrection with a back yard full of family and friends.  The weather was perfect, the food was delicious and joyful bluegrass music was heard all over our neighborhood.  I’ve posted a few pictures on Flickr.

I hope we can continue hosting this event every year.  I love Easter and I know everyone enjoys being with us in our back yard which is always green and colorful with the flowers in bloom.  I’m a little worried about how the economy will affect us in the future–and whether we’ll be able to keep our yard in “party shape” for another year.  Water rates are being increased significantly where we live so we’ll have to cut back and let some things go.  And we no longer have a gardener to help us out.  So we’ll do our best to keep things growing and hopefully next year the celebrating will continue.  He is risen indeed!


Category: Personal

Years ago I heard my old friend Ben Patterson quote a theologian (can’t remember his name) who said, “Hope is hearing the music of the future; faith is dancing to it.”  I’m not much of a dancer, so I can’t really relate to the dancing part of that equation.  But I’m amazed by how many people don’t even hear the music.  As I write this, it’s Easter (holy) week, which seems to go largely ignored these days.   For most people, there’s more hope in the beginning of baseball season and the recent rise in the stock market  than the Easter story.

Reminds me of the video below of Joshua Bell,  one of the greatest concert violinists in the world, who played violin in a subway station just to see if anyone would notice.   As I remember the story, this amazing artist who normally gets paid $10,000 and up to play concerts picked up $32 in tips that day.  I love the one woman who hears and recognizes the music for what it is.

By the way, this video was posted exactly two years ago today.


Category: Personal

I love Easter and and the season leading up to it. From Ash Wednesday, the entire 43-day season of lent, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Day, it’s a special time of the year to reflect on the price that was paid for our salvation on the Cross of Christ and to celebrate the hope that we have because He lives!

Every year we celebrate in our back yard with food, fun and some good bluegrass music.  If you’d like to come this year, let me know and we’ll put you on our guest list.  To see some pictures from last year, click here.

"He is risen indeed!"

"He is risen indeed!"

“Praise be to the God and Father of our our Lord Jesus Christ who in his great mercy has given us a new birth into a living hope through the Resurrection of Christ from the dead!” (1 Peter 1:3)

Happy Easter!


Category: Personal
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In today’s economy, I don’t think there’s a better way to invest $32 a month:

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Category: Ministry, Personal

Marci and I never forget how many years we’ve been married because our January 27 anniversary date is forever linked to the number of Super Bowls that have taken place (43 this year) … plus it always falls on the about the same weekend. We always try to celebrate our anniversary as big as we can (depending on what we can afford to do at the time). This year, we were blessed to be able to make a return trip to New Orleans, our first visit there since Katrina. We’ve always loved New Orleans: the culture, the music, the food, the art and architecture. We enjoyed it all last week after spending the weekend in Memphis Tennessee where I did a parent seminar at Christ United Methodist Church Friday night, a men’s breakfast on Saturday morning and preached three services on Sunday. From there we took the train to New Orleans and really had a good time. Besides a really nice meal at Emeril’s, we heard some great jazz at a little club called the Spotted Cat. It only holds about 30 people inside, plus the bar and stage. We sat close to the musicians and just marveled at how blessed we were to be there. Here’s a sample which I shot on our digital camera:


Category: Family, Personal