Devotion in Motion: “Of Rice and Men”

“But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.” ~ 2 Timothy 2:16

By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad”

Last Saturday afternoon I performed a June wedding, and we had a wonderful day. I’ve noticed that there have been some changes in wedding customs since I was a little boy. When I was a kid, people always threw rice at the bride and groom as they ran out of the church. Sometimes now we blow bubbles as the newlyweds run by. But the most common custom today is to throw birdseed. We threw a lot of birdseed last Saturday. The groom’s older brother poured about fifty pounds of it down his little brother’s pants.

I always comment at weddings that nobody throws rice after a wedding any more. And the bystanders always make the same sort of comments: “It’s so we don’t kill the birds. Birds eat the uncooked rice, and they can’t digest it. It swells in their stomachs and then they explode.”

The first time I heard that several years ago, I took the statements at face value. It sort of even made stuttgartricebirds.jpgsense—we really shouldn’t throw rice because it kills the birds.  It sounded scientific. But then one day it dawned on me that it probably wasn’t true at all. After all, I grew up in Stuttgart, Arkansas, “The Rice and Duck Capital of the World.” Two things that we always had plenty of were (number one) RICE and (number two) BIRDS. (The high school mascot is the “Stuttgart Ricebird.”)

I grew up watching birds eat raw rice all the time. And there were never piles of dead birds everywhere. When I was a kid I always walked to school, and I just walked right down the street. I never had to be careful not to step in the entrails of all the rice-eating-birds that had exploded.

So, I would venture a guess that the whole thing is an urban legend—a modern day myth. We probably need to write a letter to “Mythbusters” and have them look into it all. (Click here to read about this urban legend on

In retrospect, I think the wedding customs have changed to save people aggravation. Some brides give everyone little jars of bubbles because they prefer running through bubbles versus being ambushed with pellets of cereal grain. And people switched to birdseed because you don’t have to sweep it up. The birds do the cleanup for you.

Did you know that myths, urban legends, and “old wives’ tales” are nothing new? The Apostle Paul indicates that they existed back in Bible times. Although they are kind of fun when they only touch on everyday matters, Paul teaches us that they can be poisonous when they touch on religious matters that affect our eternal destiny. In today’s Scripture text (at the top) he tells us that we should stay away from “profane and idle babblings” and stick to what we know is true. Jesus made it easy for us to know how to find the truth. He prayed to his Heavenly Father, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.”  (John 17:17) That’s very clear, isn’t it? Jesus said the Bible is Truth.

Dear mama, search for God’s truth in His Word this week. And have a happy week! Don’t worry if you see birds eating rice off the sidewalk. (But run out to stop them if you see them eating Mentos and drinking Diet Coke!)

Click here to read more devotionals by Brother John.

Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad” (Sing that to the title to the tune of “Secret Agent Man”) He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and is about to celebrate his 25th  year of being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi.  He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 19) and Seth (age 16) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the birds STILL haven’t eaten all of the birdseed from last week.) He would love to hear from you in an email sent to