On Knowing God — Colossians 2 [a practical, biblical study of scripture]

Excerpt: Practical Spirituality | Devotional Sessions

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ (passage from Colossians 2, prompted from Devotional Sessions – Phil Rice)

We are influenced by our culture, our childhood normals, our theological upbringing. These influences often go unchallenged, since they are simply the ways things have always been.

Take some time in prayer today and ask God to uncover beliefs that are rooted in the basic principles of the world. Write down any that come to mind. Invite Holy Spirit to come and to replace these beliefs with the ways of Christ. Write down anything that comes to mind as you ask Holy Spirit to show you the ways of Christ. Whether or not something comes immediately to mind, consider building a regular practice of bringing these questions regularly before God.

Lord, continue to lead me in your ways, according to Christ and not according to the practices and beliefs of the world.


My personal engagement with this session:

Man… It’s so easy to simply be swept up in a given culture, believing something because you’ve never thought to question it. This passage and coming back again and again to the Holy Spirit with this question is so helpful for me. My filter is human. I am ordinary. But Holy Spirit what truths I need. He knows how my vision is lacking. Yes Lord, so come lead me according to Christ.


An added note from Phil Rice

I hope you’ve benefited from this excerpt from Practical Spirituality | Devotional Sessions. Share this session with anyone you think would be impacted and don’t hesitate to leave questions or comments for our mutual benefit of continued conversation.

Thanks for journeying alongside,
Phil Rice


find me social — Instagram — Twitter — Facebook — Soundcloud

find me here too — philrice.blog — Ember

Individual Financial Investment

When people ask me how the financial structure of Ember works, I tell them that I raise money for the organization and then each staff member, myself included, is responsible to raise their own salary. A typical response is something like, “Wow, that sounds really hard.” And my typical response… “Yeah, it is definitely challenging at times… BUT I LOVE IT.”

And it’s true! Though it is a challenge, I love that personal financial investment is a large portion of our financial engine, both for Ember, and for our staff. In 2012 God invited Becky and me to begin a journey of leaning into him in an uncomfortable way — classic. As I left my job in business and walked into the wild world of ministry and the prayer room, I saw that I needed him and that I needed people. It’s not that we didn’t lean into him before and it’s not that we didn’t need people before, but this felt like fresh perspective.

I think what actually happened when we decided —or let’s be real, when God decided— that our financial way forward would come through the financial investment of individuals, we came face-to-face with our lack of control. In business, I can generate revenue by working harder to sell a product or by creating new products or services. If I desire to teach in academia, I have a clear track to run on; I get an education, I receive credentials, and I find a job working in an institution that fits those credentials. If I am a doctor, I’ve gone to school for quite some time and followed a clear path for how to be successful and how to gain my needed financial engine and launch into my career. Amidst the system and structures that have been created, it can become easy to think that we make or break our success by how hard we work and how committed we are to the process.

But really, in any vocational path, we are never in control and finances are never absolute, no matter how hedged in we might feel by external circumstances. And as I walked into vocational ministry, I found myself grasping for a guardrail. And I didn’t find one. And this was God’s intention.

Grasping for the guardrail

Oh yeah… This sense of security I have felt in other jobs, is actually fantasy. I think the same realization could as easily happen for someone who is suddenly laid off from their job or when the market is down or when state/federal funding ebbs and flows. We are not in control. There is no guardrail. There is no security in wealth. True security is found in God, the one who says, I will never leave you or forsake you. It is a fantastic filter for, where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6).

Connectedness and multiplication

The other aspect of individual financial investment that I really love is that of connectedness and multiplication. If in 2012, I was presented a salary from Norman Community Church that I would receive every month to build a culture of worship and prayer, no one outside of the community would have ever heard from me again. I would have quietly and purposefully given myself to the small context in which I had been given. But raising funding through sharing my vision with others automatically blasted me outside of my small little world and necessitated that I share my story on a greater scale. Both in an initial way and in an ongoing way.

God designed us to need oneanother. Our creator set up the system so that there would be one body but many parts(paraphrase 1 Corinthians 12). When thanking him for contributing to our ministry, a good friend of mine, on several occasions has bluntly stated, “Well, I can’t even comprehend how you can pick up a guitar and actually make music with it. It’s incredible. Of course I want to invest in what you do, because it allows me to participate with you.” Something that comes as second nature to me seems like such a far reach for another. And likewise, something in which I could never dream of excelling, is the most natural and life-giving vocational response to another.

Just a small piece of his creation

Every human being was created to give God glory in a very specific and unique way. How incredible it is to be part of this orchestra that stretches the expanse of heaven and earth. The earth, trees, mountains, planets, stars all give glory to God. The heavenly beings and angels also give him glory continually. What an honor it is to be part of his body, a specific expression of himself, designed with the primary purpose of giving him glory.

As we reach out to bless another’s role in this process, we move from handing God our own unique gift and we delve deeper into our personal kingdom investment through another individual, extending their reach, overlapping and multiplying the enabled continual glory of God. How beautiful.

Phil Rice — philrice.blog
Executive Director of Ember

Artist & Worshipper

What kind of a person will sign on with Ember?

As we continue to build Ember I am still surprised as God brings clarity of vision and hones our purpose and direction. As things are dialing in, I’m beginning to see the kind of person who would be attracted to Ember vocationally. There are two types of people that I can see as of now. The first is the person who is sold out to the prayer room — they don’t need to be talked into sitting in a room hours on end worshipping Jesus and joining him in intercession for a geographic region. It is their disposition and make up that keeps them in that place. I think this would be the obvious fit for Ember. But there is another person who is has found their home here.

Enter the creative entrepreneur

Ember isn’t a fit for every creative. The prayer room is a massive filter that draws a particular kind of person. And this is totally fine! Anyone who joins our creative team — music, video, podcasting, blogging — isn’t exempt from the prayer room. The prayer room is what fuels all of what we do and who we are, but there is a different way to approach the prayer room for the individual who has value and love for the prayer room but is not joining the team to spend all of their time there.

Ember is a fit for the individual who desires vocational space to work out their creative endeavor in the context of a creative company committed to bringing glory to Jesus.

It is a lot of work, but it is incredibly rewarding work.

Ember gives a platform, a track, and language to this individual. Where at one time, this person may not have had a vocational outlet for their craft, they now have the opportunity to invite the body of Christ around them to support them in their vocational endeavor as an artist worshipper — bringing glory to Jesus, not only in regular sessions of worship and prayer, but also in the multiplication of the glory of Jesus through their art form.

Example 1 — Stephen Ibach, Media Director for Ember
Stephen’s morning begins in the prayer room. He participates and leads worship for several prayer sets throughout the week. On a particular afternoon, his day may transition to recording and editing our most recent Ember Perspective Podcast — consistently taking the substance of hope cultivated in the place of prayer and multiply it through his area of expertise.

Example 2 — Jordan Solis, Manager of Ember Music
Jordan’s morning begins in the prayer room, both as a participant and as a worship leader. She is a musician with a heart for intercession and worship. Jordan came on board with Ember because of a combined desire to adore Jesus continually in the prayer room setting as well as a desire to cultivate her art as a songwriter and recording artist. She spends her afternoons coaching musicians and songwriters in the writing, recording, production, and distribution of their songs.

The creative arts, multiplying the glory of God

See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah … And I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship … to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and in bronze, and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in the carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship (Exodus 31).

I appreciate Rick Joyner’s perspective on Exodus 31 in his article, The Holy Spirit and the Arts

Isn’t it interesting that the first person in the Bible about whom it was said that they were “filled with the Spirit” was an artisan, and not a priest, a king, or a prophet? This should give us a definite sense of the importance that the Lord gave to art in His dwelling place, the tabernacle, which was the prophetic model for His church, “the tabernacle not made with hands” (see Hebrews 9:11).

I’m thrilled by the opportunity Ember creates to bring the Lord glory through the arts in a perpetual way. I’m equally expectant to see who the Lord draws into these roles within Ember in the coming months and years. What an adventure!


Phil Rice — philrice.blog
Executive Director of Ember

Ember — it’s prayer and it’s a creative company

it begins in the prayer room

I have a high value for the quiet, personal place of worship, prayer, and communion with God. In my experience, knowing God deeply and intimately begins with private understanding. This idea is even mirrored in a gathering of like minded people also desiring to commune with God together — in Ember’s case, the prayer room. But this still feels like the quiet, intimate place. It feels safe, because there is no immediate cultural environment challenging the reality or understanding of God or our experience of Him. I don’t mean to say that we aren’t challenged in our understanding of God through his truth, but simply that there are no blatantly opposing social forces directly moving against the culture we are creating within the prayer room.

But when we begin to navigate outside of the prayer room, or any like minded spiritual community or gathering, in order to bring hope and impact to others of a different cultural or spiritual perspective, the metaphysical joins the practical. It’s from this place that we have the opportunity to share a taste of our normal experience and connection with the Spirit of God. As we share our reality with others, we have the opportunity to give people a new perspective of how God sees and wants to relate to them.

as a creative company

In this spirit, Ember takes the substance of hope—the testimony of Jesus—cultivated in quiet and intimate experience with God in the prayer room and works to multiply it beyond the walls of any one spiritual community — through music, video, blogging, and podcasting. He is Emmanuel, God with us. And his desire is for all to know him in a close and intimate way. Our desire is that through our perpetual content, individuals will taste little glimpses of experiencing God, prompting them to seek him out in deeper and more personal ways in their everyday experience.

Phil Rice — philrice.blog
Executive Director of Ember