hidden life of trees…

Forests are an intricate ecosystem.  Older trees form the crown, the canopy and they get all the sunlight and they’re the huge ones.


Younger trees barely get any sunlight.  Photosynthesis is how they grow and under the canopy they barely get any light for their growth.  As a result, they grow a little bit each year, but they can’t grow up because they’re bigger trees over them and branches, etc. that block their growth.

With the very little energy they get, the young trees tend to direct that into strengthening their trunk.  They can’t up and they can’t go out.  They have very little sunlight and very little energy for growth.  So, they send the little energy they have into the little opportunity they have which is the strengthening their trunk.  The layers in their trunk, as a result, are tighter with less air in between which makes them stronger and more immune to disease and infestation.  It makes them more bendable and stronger and harder to take down.

Wouldn’t you like to be man that was more immune, bendable, stronger and harder to take down?

Eventually, the older trees age out and die.  An opening appears in canopy, sunlight streams in and these younger guys shoot up.  But when an older tree in the canopy falls prematurely and the younger tree hasn’t had decades to grow its trunk thick and tight, the tree shoots right up but it never lasts because it doesn’t have the core strength that is needed to sustain long-term growth.

In us, God is trying to strengthen the trunk – to create a fiber, a depth, a maturity, an integration so that we can steward whatever call God has in our life.

If we take on too much, too soon, we’ll run the risk of crashing.  For many of us, that is the problem, we’ve taken on so much and are running too fast, that we’re crashing.  There is a rhythm and a way things are supposed to work in God’s kingdom.

All these things we’ve been talking about – Sabbath, play, benevolent detachment, disconnecting from technology, getting off social media, etc. are driving us to a better connection of the branch to the Vine.  We need to be sustained and fed.  We’re growing up under the canopy of mighty trees and God has a role for us in the Kingdom.  When that tree above me falls and the sunlight streams down, I want my core, my trunk to be strong and tight and ready for the growth God will put upon me.

Vine to branch.  Life.  Sabbath.  Rest.  Feeding.  Connecting with God.  Disconnecting from the utter madness of this world.  Cultivating a habitat for your soul. 

It truly is the ancient path and it leads to life.


Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets.

 John Mark Comer in his book The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry said – “If the results you are getting from your way of doing life are lousy – anxiety at a simmer, mild depression, high levels of stress, chronic emotional burnout, little to no sense of the presence of God, in inability to focus your mind on the things that make for life, etc. – then the odds are very good that something about the system that is your life is off kilter.  It isn’t working.  The way you’ve organized your morning or evening routine, your schedule, your budget, your relationship to your phone; how you manage your resources of time, money, and attention, etc. – something is out of whack.”

Maybe in what we’re talking about at Manschool or at a Wild at Heart boot camp or after a good message on Sunday you’ll get glimpse of this other life, a glimpse of the Way of Jesus, His Way of life.  And you think, “I want that.”  And we head home thinking it’s really going to change, and we go right back to living our life exactly as we had been.  And … nothing changes.  It’s the same cycle on repeat because we’ve kept the exact same lifestyle, we’ve kept the exact same practices and we haven’t altered our way of doing life one bit.  Saying goes – “Junk in, junk out”.

You must alter the input if you want a different outcome. 

We must create a habitat where our souls can thrive.  My soul cannot thrive in a world drowning in hurry.  If I want to experience the Way of Jesus, I need to change some of the inputs in my life.  Thus, we introduce the practice of Sabbath…

“On the seventh day, God had finished the work He had been doing; so, on the seventh day He rested from all His work.  Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done.”  Genesis 2:2-3 

One particular Sabbath Jesus got in trouble with the Pharisees for how He and His disciples were observing the day.  In a loving rebuke, Jesus simply said,

“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”  Mark 2:27

Sabbath is a gift.  It was created and designed by God Himself.  It is “for” us.  A gift to enjoy from the Creator to His creation.  God made the animals and He blessed them.  God made man and He blessed him.  God made the Sabbath and … He blessed it.

Sabbath is one of the best ways we can get our balance back.  Too many of us feel like this, “I am always up, always on.  I never get a break.  Never truly relax.”  Therefore, we need to learn the practice of Sabbath.  Like the outdoors, the one-minute pause, benevolent detachment – Sabbath is the ancient path, the ancient road.  We are recovering the habitat of the soul.  We were meant for rhythm and we were meant for a reset. 

Sabbath is a commandment, but it is also a real good idea.  It is built into the fabric of our world.  God built a rhythm into the DNA of creation.  A tempo.  A beat.  A way things are supposed to work.  God worked for six and rested for one.  God blessed the 7th day and made it holy.  Scientists are now learning that we literally need to catch up on sleep after 7 days.  By the 7th day, your natural rhythm needs rest and renewal.

Sabbath is a spirit of restfulness.  It compares and contrasts to the world’s spirit of restlessness – anxiety, discontentment, greed, anger and workaholism.

Sabbath is relaxing into God’s goodness.  Shabbat is a 24-hour day by which we cultivate (there is that word again – cultivate) a spirit of restfulness.  As we said early, we have to cultivate a habitat for our souls to flourish.  Creating a habitat where your soul can thrive.

Sabbath is stopping.  Shabbat literally means “Stop”.  It is Resting.  Delighting.  Worshiping.

Stopping = no work, no worry, to stop wanting and instead enjoying what you have.

Resting = rest for your body and your mind and your spirit.  It is lots of sleep, lots of quiet.  It is time with friends and family.  It is time in nature.

Delighting = celebrating the goodness of God.  Pampering your soul with joy and feeding it with beauty.

Worshiping = a day to center yourself and your heart through worship of Him.

Sabbath, says John Mark Comer, is a holiday we observe just like Christmas except we get to do it 52 times a year.

Dan Allender said – “The Sabbath is an invitation to enter delight.  The Sabbath, when experienced as God intended, is the best day of our lives.  It is the day we anticipate on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and the day we remember on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.   The Sabbath is a holy time where we feast, play, dance, love, sing, pray, laugh, tell stories, read, paint, walk and watch creation in its fullness.”

There is a discipline to the Sabbath that is really hard for a lot of us.  It takes a lot of intentionality: it won’t just happen to you.  It takes planning and preparation.  It takes self-control, the capacity to say no to a list of good things to you can say yes to the best things.  People who keep Sabbath live all seven days differently.  It will alter your life.

Sabbath is the only spiritual discipline that makes it into the Ten Commandments.  Not church or Bible reading, not even prayer.  Sabbath is the anchor discipline of the people of God.  So crucial that God lovingly commands us to remember to rest.

Legalism and the religious spirit would tell you that Sabbath is a day of complete “nothing”.  No work.  No consumption.  No entertainment.  One could argue – no joy.  That’s not what we’re talking about here.  We are saying Sabbath is a discipline of being intentional to unplug from the world – to disengage.  To untangle.  Technology turned off.  Silence.  Good food.  Family.  Calm.  Quiet.  Rest.  So, while it is not a puritan like “no” to everything, it is also not gluttonous.  It is an intentional slow down to reorient your entire family to each other and to God.  It is slowing the mad pace of life, so you make sure your branch is attached to the Vine.

Comer says this – “My family and I do this every week.  Just before sunset on Friday, we finish up all our to-do lists and homework and grocery shopping and responsibilities.  We power down all our devices – we literally put them all in a box and stow it in a closet.  We gather around the table as a family.  We open a bottle of wine, light some candles, read a Psalm, pray.  Then we feast, and we basically don’t stop feasting for the next 24 hours.  We sleep in on Saturday morning.  Drink coffee.  Read our Bibles.  Pray more.  Spend time together.  Talk.  Laugh.  In the summer, walk to the park.  In the winter, build a fire.  Get lost in a good novel on the couch.  Nap.  Love.  Rest.”

You have a choice to make – continue on the mad path this world is rushing down — or — disengage in the madness, unplug the technology and Shabbat.  Rest.  Enjoy the goodness of God.  He made you for it.  He made the day for you.

the ancient path…

here are the slides from this morning > clear eyes 12 – sabbath pt 2

23rd Psalm – The Message

God, my shepherd!   I don’t need a thing.

You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from.

True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side.

Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies.

You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing.

Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.

I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.

We must learn a way to find and sustain whole-heartedness in a world gone mad.

To navigate this hour requires a soul that is saturated with God.  His love.  His wisdom.  His life.  His beauty.

Busyness is taking most of us out.  There just isn’t enough time.  John Ortberg said – “I cannot live in the Kingdom of God with a hurried soul.”  It can’t be done.  To be saturated with God, to be filled with His goodness, to not get fried by the mad pace of this world, you have a choice to make.  No one is going to do this for you – if you want this, you’re going to have to fight for it and it starts with …


Your soul is a vessel designed to be filled with God and to overflow with Him.  A reservoir filled up and it spills over and from which will flow rivers of life.  Saturated with God.  Clear eyes on this, don’t kid yourself — this world is designed to dry out your soul.

The goal, this quest we’re after, this treasure hunt we’re on –  is finding a way to live freely and lightly as an operating reality.  The goal is whole-hearted and flourishing souls.  Do you want that?  It is possible.

Our goal as a Tribe is finding a way to live freely and lightly as an operating reality with whole-hearted and flourishing souls.  We are on a treasure hunt, looking for the path to this reality.

“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”  Jeremiah 6:16

This verse is absolutely crystal clear.  The ancient path is there.  It is possible to live freely and lightly.  We have to ask where it is.  We must be intentional – it’s not just going to come to us.  We must hunt it down and find it.  It is there!  Once we find it … we must, with intention, choose to walk the path.  If we do it, we will find rest for our souls.

If we want to experience the life of Jesus, we have to adopt the lifestyle of Jesus, the way of Jesus.  We have to find that ancient path and take it.  Ancient, not trendy.  Ancient, not the facebook way.  Ancient, not what is culturally understood or popular.

In the past few weeks, we have discussed technology and the time it consumes of our lives.  Get this – the average iPhone user touches his iPhone 2,617 times a day.  If you’re awake 18 hours of the day (that’s too much!), you’re touching your phone 145 times an hour or 2.5x a minute.  all day.  every day.  Millennials touch their phone almost 5,500 times a day.  Too much.  WAY too much.

Over the past few weeks, we have discussed…

  1.   Radically cutting our consumption of technology.
  2.   Getting off completely and finally all social media.
  3.   Utilizing the One-Minute Pause app.
  4.   Practicing the art of benevolent detachment.
  5.   Getting outside, connecting with the real and the tangible and feeling God’s  creation on a regular basis.
  6.   Next week, we’ll talk about Sabbath

If you want to live freely and lightly, saturated with God, these are just a few of the practices you need to adopt as your new way of doing life.  Prayer.  Fasting.  Immersive reading of the Word.  There is so much more.

“Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets”.  If your system, your process is producing anger, mild depression, high levels of stress, chronic emotional burnout, little or no sense of the presence of God, an inability to focus your mind on the things that make for life … then the odds are very good that something about your system of doing life is way off kilter.

If you want to radically reboot your operating system for life – the 6-7 things above are a great starting point and this truth is the bottom line…

arrange your days

It is up to you.