Life Lessons from a Cedar Tree

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The life of the cedar tree has so much to teach us.  There is such beauty, wonderful fragrance, and uses that this majestic tree provides. In fact, it is the most mentioned tree in the Bible…and for very good reason.

First, a few facts about the cedar tree

  • It is evergreen-it does not lose its foliage in the fall
  • They can reach over 100 feet tall and have a very large diameter
  • Lebanon Cedar was used for the construction of ships for Alexander the Great and for construction of King Solomon’s Temple
  • The fragrant oil extracted from the heartwood of the cedar was used during the mummification process in Ancient Egypt as well as a mosquito repellant by Native Americans
  • Because the oil does not develop in younger trees, the heartwood is subject to rotting, which in turn results in mature trees with hollow trunks, making natural homes for wildlife
  • The Lebanon Cedar is a symbol of tolerance and immortality
  • Cedars prefer moist soil which in turn also makes them live long as they are safer from fire

If you didn’t get anything from the few facts I shared, allow me to share my revelation.

The cedar tree is evergreen. That means it’s instant in season and out of season because it is always in season. It’s steadfast no matter what life throws at it. Its beauty is everlasting.

It is fragrant. The woman with the alabaster box poured fragrant oil on the head of Jesus. When the disciples rebuked her for wasting such expensive oil, Jesus responded that she did it for His burial. Now, I’m not sure exactly what the oil was, however, the Ancient Egyptians used the oil from the cedar in the burial process, so we can closely assume that this may have been the oil that this woman used to anoint the head of Jesus .

Cedar was used in building Solomon’s Temple. It was used as an insulator. It was also very expensive, as you can imagine. Nothing in Solomon’s Temple was cheap. Only the best was used.

Let’s get to the heart of this subject to get an even deeper revelation.

Ezekiel 31:3-7

Indeed, Assyria was a cedar in Lebanon, with fine branches that shaded the forest, and of high stature; and its top was among the thick boughs

The waters made it grow; underground waters gave it height, with their rivers running around the place where it was planted, and sent out rivulets to all the trees of the field. Therefore, it’s height was exalted above all the trees of the field; its boughs were multiplied, and its branches became long because of the abundance of water as it sent them out.

All the birds of the heavens made their nests in its boughs; under its branches all the beasts of the field brought forth their young, and in its shadow, all great nations made their home.

Thus, it was beautiful in greatness and in the length of its branches because its roots reached to abundant water.

The seeds take 2-3 years to mature. When you are planting seeds in someone’s life, don’t expect overnight success. That loved one you have been praying for may not come around for a long time.

Once  the seed is mature enough to plant, don’t be discouraged by the slow growth. Cedar trees are very slow growing, but there is a good reason. All you may see is a twig, but underneath the surface, something major is taking place. You can’t see it, but roots are growing. They’re not just growing a few inches, they are growing deep. They are growing so deep that they can sometimes reach underground water…abundant water.

A tree that is deeply rooted can withstand any storm. Think about the trees in the mountains. The winds are constantly blowing. The cedar is flexible and can bow with the wind, but they do not break. Their roots are holding them to solid ground.

Who cares how ugly that cedar starts off as. Its beauty is more than skin-deep. Strength is needed to live long and prosper, and as the roots are growing deeper, it is growing in strength. The point is that we need to be rooted and grounded in Christ

A cedar also grows up. Once the roots are established, the cedar starts growing tall. We need to grow up, we need to mature, we need to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord.  There is a time for the cedar to stay scrawny, but there also comes a time for the cedar to grow up.

As the cedar grows up, it also grows out and this is where it all comes together. Because of the density of its leaves and the year around shade, the cedar makes a very good refuge for all sorts of animals. Birds and squirrels make their nests in its branches. As mentioned above, all kinds of wildlife make their home in the hollowed out trunks of the trees. Animals and even people seek refuge under the shade, as it is a great place of protection from the weather elements.  Do people come to you and sit in your presence? Maybe you are a person who exudes an atmosphere of great peace. People don’t know why they like to be around you, but they do. Maybe people come to you to talk. You have something to offer people, you listen and you give good sound advice. Maybe you are able to give a person a place to stay. These are all examples of cedar tree qualities.

If you don’t get deeply rooted, and grow up and extend outward you will never be of any use to anybody.

The cedar tree has an uncanny ability to protect itself and others. Pests and insects are repulsed by the unpalatable resin and oils. Even the leaves are covered in a thick coat of wax that prevents the loss of water.

Boxes and trunks are made to keep items of great value in, all because of the protective quality of the wood.

I don’t know about you, but after looking at the life of a cedar tree, I want those qualities in my own life. Even if it takes time, I want to get rooted and grounded in the water of God’s word. I want to grow strong and be able to withstand the storms of life. I want to mature as a Christian  and become a fragrant offering to God. I want to repel the enemy that tries to attack, and most of all, I want my boughs to extend out to help others in need. Then, I want to be used to build the Temple of God. What a full circle life!

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Life Lessons From A Waterfall

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Every year I used to go camping at Turner Falls in Oklahoma. We would camp on the top of the mountain and walk down to the river. The river was ice cold and it took awhile to get brave enough to plunge into it. It was so cold that just putting your foot in would take your breath away.

Although it was cold, it was very refreshing, especially in the heat of the summer. The water was the purest water I had ever seen. Of course, with Turner Falls being such a high tourist area, I was always to scared to drink the water for obvious reasons. We would take our time hiking down the river. There were many small waterfalls as we hiked.  The river cut through the mountain and the walls of rock and caves climbed  high above us. There was a small tree here and there. The river bed alternated between being as slippery as ice to areas of thick silt. We hiked all the way down to where the water fell over the cliff into the pool below.

After hiking our way back up the river, we would get in the truck and head down to the pool below the fall. There were a couple of huge boulders that the water fell on and a shallow cave formation behind the veil of water. The pool was deepest just below the fall.

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As I reflect on those memorable summers spent in the Arbuckle Mountains of Oklahoma, I think of the science that forms the falls. The steam often begins as a natural spring and is narrow. As the water courses down the river over resistant bedrock, erosion slowly takes place. As the velocity of the water is increased, turbulence occurs. The water carries  sediment which is microscopic silt, or pebbles and erodes the soft rock so that the streams channel cuts so deep that only hard rock is exposed.

Just above the fall, the stream becomes wider and shallower. Then there is that magic moment where the water ceases flowing horizontally and falls vertically. The water then crashes against the boulders below, which causes a back splash. The backsplash creates a shallow cave-like formation known as a rock shelter. The pool below the fall is deep due to the kinetic energy of the water hitting the bottom and causing erosion below.

Just thinking about this amazing phenomenon gives me chills. I don’t know if you got anything out of all that, but let me tell you what I got out of it.

The first thing that completely and totally amazes me is how that much water can continuously flow at such a high rate of speed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for thousands upon thousands of years. To me, this shows that there is a never ending abundance that can come only from God. Think about the waterfalls you have seen or know about. Consider Niagra Falls, for example. Then think about the thousands of waterfalls all over the world. You would think they would dry up at some point.

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Psalm 78:15-16 He split the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink in abundance. He also brought streams out of the rock and caused waters to run down like rivers.

And here’s something to think about.  The power that it takes to cut through the rocks and the mountains, the power of the water falling over the edge of the cliff. That power is so great that nothing can live in its path. Everything is uprooted. The water is pure and clean and it cleanses. It takes all the areas of the river and breaks it down and washes it away until there is  nothing but hard rock left. It cuts deep.

We all have dirt in our lives. We have things in our past that may be deeply rooted. We have mountains in our lives that we feel we can never overcome. The good news is that the Word  washes us as clean and pure as the river that flows through the mountain, until the point that our horizontal relationship with man falls over the edge and our relationship becomes vertical with Christ. It’s not always a fun time. The Word will cause turbulence in your life, but know that’s not always a bad thing. In fact, it ultimately turns into something beautiful.

There is a place behind the veil of the fall that you can hide. A sanctuary of sorts. A hiding place. The same water that gives life can also be a deadly force if used wrong. Of course, that is a different story for a different day, but think of all the times scripture has been misused and taken out of context.

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Nature has a lot to teach us if we pay attention. The Word is alive and well and is relevant to your situation. My prayer is that you glean revelation from the Waterfall.

I want to leave you with this as you think about the power of the waterfall, think about these things:

Job 8:6-7 If you were pure and upright, surely now He would awake for you and prosper your rightful dwelling place. Though your beginning was small, yet your latter end would increase abundantly.

Ephesians 3:20-Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.

John 7:38-He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water

Ephesians 5:25-26-Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the Word.

Life Lessons from an Eagle

There are many things we can learn from an eagle about life. The eagle is the most majestic bird ever created.

First, let’s observe a few facts about eagles:

  •  The eagle is a bird of prey
  • The eagle has a very large hooked beak for ripping flesh
  • The eagle has strong muscular legs and powerful talons
  • The eagle’s eyes are 3.6 times the acuity of the humans. A human can see three basic colors where an eagle can see 5 basic colors
  • The eagle makes its nest in high trees or at the tops of cliffs and near water
  • The eagle mates for life

We’ll be making reference to these facts throughout this article, so stick with me while I lay some groundwork, then we’ll get to the meat!

The eagle symbolizes power, freedom and transcendence.

Power: the possession of control or command over others; authority; ascendancy

Freedom:

1. The state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint

2. Exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.

3. The power to determine action without restraint.

4. Exempt from external authority, interference, restriction, etc., as a person or one’s will thought, choice, action, etc.; independent; unrestricted

5. Able to do something at will; at liberty

6. Clear of obstructions or obstacles

7. Personal liberty as opposed to bondage or slavery

Transcendence: Going beyond ordinary limits; surpassing; exceeding

There are some important characteristics of an eagle that we should know about. First of all, an eagle is towards the top of the food chain. Things in the past that should be dead and buried, we should never dig up and revisit.

Secondly, eagles only flock with other eagles when they do socialize. Where do you find other eagles? Very high up, even up to heights of 10,000 feet. You won’t find other birds at that elevation.

You won’t find eagles socializing with chickens, who do nothing but scratch at the dirt all day, complaining and flapping around stirring up dust. You won’t find eagles socializing with pigeons who deliver the latest gossip and poop all over everything. You won’t find an eagle socializing with an ostrich who sticks his head in the sand and refuses to confront the world around him. And, you won’t find an eagle talking with the parrots who mimic others, so they look and sound good, but there is no substance to them.

An Eagle Defeats the Enemy

The eagle will sit in high places observing every little detail in life. He can spot the enemy from very long distances, even up to two miles away. His keen eyes give him this impressive talent. Once he spots the enemy or prey, he will swoop in with confidence, never looking over his shoulder and snatch his prey by his powerful talons from the ground or water without ever landing, then he will take his prey up to the high places and use his beak to tear away it’s flesh and have him for dinner.

She Knows What She Wants

The male will put on spectacular aerial displays to attract a good woman. He is showing her his skills and beauty. The female eagle will then test the male to find out if he is right for her and will find out if she can trust him. She takes him high up in the air and she drops a twig. The male will then chase the twig and catch it and bring it back to her. She will then go higher and repeat the process. Each time the male catches the twig she has dropped and brings it back to her. Once the trust and love and affection are proven, the pair will mate for life.

They’ve got Mad Parenting Skills

The male will build a nest, usually on the top of a very high cliff or tree where the eaglets will be out of reach of the enemy. The outer layer of the nest consists of thorns that have been laid on the cliff as an outer shell and serves as protection. The middle layer of consists of soft grass and the inner layer consists of feathers for comfort.

Once the eggs are hatched and the eaglets mature, the mother will teach them to fly. She gathers them on her back and spreads her wings and flies high into the sky. Suddenly she swoops out from underneath her eaglet and allows it to fall and learn the function of its wings. She then catches the eaglet and repeats the process until he is able to fly on his own.

If the eaglet is slow to learn, she will take him back to the nest and begin to tear the nest apart, feather by feather, stick by stick, until all that is left is the thorns. As you can imagine, this makes the eaglet very uncomfortable. She continues to tear the nest apart until there is nothing left for the eaglet to cling too. She then nudges him off the cliff. This may seem mean, but it is really the only way to teach the young bird to survive on its own.

As human parents, we do everything we can to teach our babies while they are young. When they reach the teenage years, we give them more independence and teach them the important things in life and basic survival skills. When they reach a certain age, after graduating from high-school or college, we push them out of the nest. The eagle in it’s natural habitat, can really teach us a thing or two about parenting.

 Rise Above the Storms of Life

When a storm is raging on the horizon, the eagle will use the updrafts to rise above the storm. The eagle is very conservative of its energy. It takes very little flapping of its wings and he glides effortlessly through the air. When there is a storm, the updrafts take him high into the sky until he is above the clouds, where there is only peace. He does  not use his own energy.

Many times when the storms of life hit us, we become fearful and our natural fight or flight instinct kicks in so that we either fight the storm or run and hide from it. We can take a lesson from the eagle. The storms of life are going to come. It’s not a matter of if, but when. When the storm comes, accept it and have peace in the knowledge that you are going to get over it. Just don’t fight. Don’t try to fix it. Let nature take its course and rise above the storm.

Rest, Reflect, Renewal

As the eagle ages, around the age of 40, it’s body deteriorates. His feathers wear out and become old, thick and heavy, making it difficult to fly. It’s long and flexible talons can no longer grab prey. Its beak becomes bent. The eagle is left with two choices: either give up and die or make go through a process of change. He chooses to live, so he flies to the mountaintop and finds shelter in the rocks and then goes through a metamorphosis stage.

First, he beats his beak against the rock until he knocks it off. He then waits for it to grow back. Next, he plucks out his own talons and wait for them to grow back. Finally, he plucks out his old worn out feathers and waits for his new feathers to come back in. He never leaves the safety of the rocks the entire time. The process takes about five months. With his renewed body, the eagle can then live another 30-40 years.

There are times when we become worn out from life. We need a time of rest, reflection and renew. This process begins by noticing that life has taken it’s toll on you, and then making the choice to change. It’s not an easy decision. In fact, it’s often the most difficult decision you will ever make. But you know that you cannot go on anymore without taking the time to rest in the Lord. Beat your beak against the rock, pluck your talons and feathers. Take time to reflect on areas in your life that need to change so that you can not only live but soar. Wait. Once you are renewed, you will emerge from the mountain like a brand new person. You will be ready to take flight once again. Soar through the air with little effort and rise above the storm.

Psalm 103:5

Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget not all His benefits: who forgive all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Isaiah 40:31

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.