Thursday, January 13, 2011

Roots & Parasites

Lately God has really been dealing with me about the disconnect there is between the talk about relationship with Him.  So many talk about God in this country.  Somebody wins a football game or makes a new gangster rap album and they glibly give glory to God but relationship with Him isn’t just about saying Yea Lord every time you get what you want then when you don’t act like God’s failed and you’re desperately angry with Him.  I’ve heard it said that spirituality in America is a thousand miles wide and an inch deep.  Some would call this secularization but I think you could just as easily call it religion.  Religion to me is defined as a form of godliness without the power thereof.  Simply put it’s talking about God without actually knowing Him at all.  I hate that in my own life and strive to know the heart of God when I look in the Bible or pray.  I don’t want to quote scripture that isn’t alive to me personally or just say what someone else says or just put up the scripture of the day without doing my own reading.  Faith comes by hearing the Word of God according to the Bible…I’m convinced hearing doesn’t mean in one ear and out the other hearing.  We are moving out in a big way this year.  Doing far more than in years past.  The Philippines is a huge piece of what we’re doing.  The dangers there are very severe and my family and I will leave a month before everyone else to prepare a way for them…find housing for a large international team with members from Ghana and Canada and the US, open bank accounts…establish a firm relationship with the new contact we have there…it’s immense and can’t be done without faith.  Faith will only come with relationship with God and actually listening not only to what He says but trusting Him…that can only come from real relationship.  Remember us in prayer please!  Next month we will be heading to Chicago for some meetings in a Ghanaian church.  The pastor there was touched by the ministry when we went to Ghana many years ago and this could be a very good connection.  Our plan is to go to Ireland again this April for three weeks and by God’s grace go to the Philippines September through the end of October then return to Ghana in January of 2012…this will require great faith to say the least.  We are a small ministry in numbers but God delights in using that which is foolish in the eyes of the world (and to us at times) and making great things happen.  Again:  please remember us in prayer!  Christ and our faith in him is the root of our strength…doubt and religion are the parasites that seek to destroy all.


Looking back on our trip to Ghana I still hear the echo of God’s plan.  It does help bolster my faith.  While there we saw such amazing trees…some looked to have a gnome in the bark…can you see it?  I thought that the vines were a natural part of the tree but like when we lived in Tulsa, OK when my parents attended Bible school we were looking at trees that had parasitic vines attached to them.  These vines restrict growth and suck the life out of the trees.  Often al that would be left is a lifeless husk of the tree while the parasite vines were all that was left alive.  Note the holes in the trunk of that tree?  This was made more evident when we came to one of the largest trees we’d seen up to that point in our stay in Ghana.  It was so large you could go inside and look out through the hard wood husk that the parasites had killed.  It was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen.  Standing inside this dead tree looking outbut then I looked up and beheld a far more amazing view!  How was this tree still standing at all?  From the outside it wasn’t so easy to tell that it was actually deadin fact you might think that woodpeckers had visited but surely this huge tree couldn’t be dead!  Now though you could still see the roots that looked strongit was completely dead, we were the most lively thing about this tree now!  Abby and Bridgette joined the funbut I was listening to the still small voice in all of this.  Here stood a perfect example of what I was speaking about in the paragraph above.  God’s good tree, relationship with us has been eaten alive by the parasite of religion to the point where often all that’s left is a shadow of that which is meant to be but unlike this tree that has no hope to live again we always have hope to revive that which is often lost in a world of inch deep spirituality.  I almost felt dizzy with these thoughts rushing into me striking my heart.  We walked on seeing something that always reminds me that I’m in Africa…nobody can balance loads on their head like Africans…how she kept her load from melting all over here I have no idea!  I love the jungle and it’s exotic wondersyet even here in this land so different from what I know here in America the familiar voice of God was speaking to me.  Leading me down familiar paths with new revelation that continued to prove the case that our God is alive!  He’s not some dead husk of religionbut is a person who loves us so much that He gave His only begotten son that we may have relationship with Him…this is the path I choose


I want to finish this with the remaining pictures of the jungle area we walked…I hope it warms you up!  I wondered what this structure used to be.  Looking down I saw this…you’ve got to be kidding me!  LOL!  Obama Biscuits?!?  I don’t know what these are actually called but I thought they could easily be called jelly fish orchids!  These were so strange and wonderful!  Oh, how beautiful!  Hans and his wife Barbara was with us…Hans will be going with us to the Philippines but the grace of God.  The sounds of the jungle…all was perfect…but where’s Tarzan?  I’ve walked to villages in the Philippines and Thailand on paths much like this one.  Wanna climb a vine?  Then the torrential rain came but it didn’t dampen the spirits of any of us…if this doesn’t bring a bit of a smile to your face and a bit of warmth to your heart I don’t know what else to do!  God bless you all!


  1. Joe, my first time here. Amazing is Africa and your descriptions are so natural, brings so much interest. Bless you and your people for the work you do. God lives within your Heart always, keep the Faith. God loves you!

  2. Joe, my first time here. Amazing is Africa and your descriptions are so natural, brings so much interest. Bless you and your people for the work you do. God lives within your Heart always, keep the Faith. God loves you!

  3. A wonderful post Joe. The photos did cheer me up and bring some extra sunshine into the room with me.
    Prayers for you and your family and for your missions to come.

  4. I could sit and chat with you about this post. Some people do what is expected, and what once may have been faith has lost it's meaning in the journey of life. We call God's name in praise for the good things but in bad times where is that faith? I really liked the tree which is still standing, a shadow of itself. Meaning is very deep for me. I get it as some would say.Your post mentioned quite a number of plans for your ministry. Amazing Joe, and I am happy for you that these doors are opening and you will walk through them.You are always in my prayers Joe.

  5. Wonderful series, as always, Joe and a lesson to be learned, as well. Keep up the good work!

  6. Joe, that was THE best sermon ever. And I see it as that, a sermon. perfectly illustrated too-- as even I was planning to make a parallel with the dead tree in my comments but you took it to a perfect juxtaposition. Awesome and true words and what I really try hard to live by.

  7. Hi Joe,
    As I read then a little notice in the piece paper thats true just can't remember all of your written:-)

    First of the dead tree has a bit like a man's face thats my imagination and maybe for you to the God's face? it depend on how you look at them?
    Africans people are very good balance with in their head to carry things thats cool and
    Korean people can do it too.
    Obama biscuits Is that yummy enough???

    The Orchids: I love the Orchids though it most populariy in Asian countries?
    I never seeing the orchids flowers in the our blogland friends space yet?

    Would be a good exercise to climb up to the top?
    The trential rains are more common in the tropical countris that I loved very much it is so freshly feeling after that.

    You have a big job ahead for you and yours are in my prayers.

    PS: Your photos and explanation are beautiful!
    you made me a bright started today even we having a dreatful weather..NO complain.Thank you.

  8. Ahh, Joe, you already know how much your posts touch me and this one wrapped around my heart, too. Yes, I immediately saw the gnome in the tree the moment my eyes touched the photo. True art in the purest of forms. Actually ALL of nature is His purest art.
    I, too, am not happy with most organized religions. They have become a place of money making instead of teaching the real meaning of The Golden Rule and living by it. Sad. But even so, that has never stopped me in my staunch and unwavering faith. How could anyone ever question such organized life and organized nature? It is no coincidence that life was made the way it was.
    Thank you for being the ever-seeing, faith-believing, and teacher of good that you are, Joe.
    Love and blessings aways ~~

  9. As always the pictures are wonderful and tell their own story so beautifully.
    Truly you have put into words what so many feel and so many miss in their lives. God is not a sometimes thing.

  10. Well Joe seems u have a lot of work to do.
    organising 3 trips.??? wow..and i have problems with one.
    abt God Joe .ppl often wonder when a loved one dies..they ask themselves Why God? is that not believing? i dont know Joe sometimes when things get bad some ppl go to God and some go away and turn their back to him.
    it is and it will be a difficult topic to talk abt.
    i admire ur work Joe and tx for the fotoos and the stories.why those trees stay there??? well see the green top right pointing to heaven
    Gods wish no??
    tc my friend and have a wonderful weekend with ur family I think Joe that u have an inmens family with friends in Ghana and Philipines.

  11. Joe, I absolutely agree with everything you said. God is a word that is used very loosely by so many. But what God are they talking about? Many have their own generic god's, but do not know the One and Only True, Almighty God of the Bible, who is a God of Love, and Justice. The Only God that loved us so much that He sent His Son to this world to save us.
    You mention Jesus, and many are offended, but anyone can talk about God in a general sense and no one is offended. It's about having a personal relationship with Jesus, and turning from our own ways, and truly repenting, and and giving our lives to Jesus, and trusting Him with our lives no matter what the circumstances are. I could go on but I wont Joe. You have said it so well. :)
    Wow! This is going to be a busy, and exciting year of Ministry on the Mission Field for you and all involved. You will be in my thoughts, and prayers.

    I enjoyed each one of your photos, and your commentary. Sorry, it takes me so long to get here, but I always enjoy my visits. I am so glad we met a few years back on WLS. Keep up the good work Joe. You are truly a Blessing. God Bless you, and take care.
    Dianne :)

  12. The an old trees had more interest in look at them although how survive in dry weather place?
    Place like Australia that we should have the type of trees are good in here?

    The gum trees are well grown at the desert place.

  13. God did a really good Job for u Joe
    u have sweet adorable well raised kids.
    Thumbs up