Birch Trees

I love trees and I used to think that birch trees were one of my favourite species. For me, birch trees, more so than maple, conjure up the idea of Canada. As a school girl, I learned the traditional Canadian folksong, “Land of the Silver Birch”:

Land of the silver birch
Home of the beaver
Where still the mighty moose
Wanders at will

I love how the white bark gleams in the sunlight and how the leaves turn to golden coins in the Fall.

I always thought that I would love to have birch trees in my yard – until I moved to a house with birch trees in the neighbour’s yard! Birch trees produce both male and female catkins. After the male catkins have done their thing, the tree sheds them and they create a thick carpet resembling millions of dead and desiccated caterpillars. The catkins clog our eavestrough, get tangled up in our windshield wipers and plaster our car, looking like caterpillars that have committed suicide.

After that first onslaught, the female catkins then proceed to gaily dispense BILLIONS of seeds and seed bracts, which may look picturesque as they flutter down – like a golden shower – but which cover EVERYTHING with a thick layer resembling chunky sawdust. Said seeds and bracts stick to shoes, feet, clothing, and hair and end up leaving a solid trail, like Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs, all through the house. Diligent sweeping of patio, lawn-chairs, steps etc. proves to be an exercise in futility because as soon as your back is turned, a fresh batch of seeds is gently cascading down over everything once again. (I think I can hear the birch trees laughing at me behind my back!)

The only good (?) thing that I can say about those birch trees is that they regularly shed an ample supply of twigs and branches on our driveway, which, if we don’t mind constantly raking them up, provides us with an ongoing supply of kindling for our campfire.

I don’t know how something that looks so appealing can be such a detriment to society at the same time!

I think that we can get caught up in this type of conundrum in our Christian lives as well. We are drawn to things which, on the surface, may appeal to us but which may actually be causing us harm. We follow the teachings of someone because we like the way they look or sound. We may follow someone because we are impressed by all those “official” bits of paper they hold with all those fancy initials behind their name. We can follow someone because we think that they come from an apparently popular church with a large congregation. Or maybe that person has a successful TV ministry. “Dynamic”, “Charismatic”, and “Sincere” are effective drawing cards and history is filled with such people; people who have led others to ruin, destruction and death.

But if we are to be informed, knowledgeable and wise Christians, we need to scratch the surface of that lovely veneer. We need to look deeper to find if there is any truth, God’s truth, in what is being said and taught.

Pharisees stood on street corners proclaiming their righteousness, but Jesus described them as being tombs filled with dead bones.

Mat 23:27 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which indeed appear beautiful outside, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

They looked good on the outside, but they were rotten, spiritually, on the inside.

Mat 23:28 Even so you also appear righteous to men outwardly, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

Someone may look and sound good on the outside, but their heart can be rotten and evil.

Mat 12:34 Offspring of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

Mat 7:15 Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

So, how can we tell if someone is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” or if a teaching is false? We do it by diligently reading and studying the Word of God and by asking God to give us His holy spirit to give us Godly wisdom, knowledge and counsel. When you are knowledgeable about God’s Word, which is His revealed will, and you are filled with His holy spirit, “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” Joh. 8:32

1Co 2:12 But we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit from God, so that we might know the things that are freely given to us by God.
1Co 2:13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

Don’t be fooled by appearances – apply the following:

Study:

2Ti 2:15 Study earnestly to present yourself approved to God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.

Search and rightly divide (interpret):

Act 17:11 And these were more noble than those of Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind and searched the Scriptures daily to see if those things were so.

Compare:

1Co 2:13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

Meditate:

Jos 1:8 This book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it by day and by night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall act wisely.

Ask God:

Mat 7:7 Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you.

If, instead of just judging by a pleasing appearance, you are diligent in doing the above things, you will be able to discern evil from good and you will never fall into the unsaved, sinful state again.

Heb 5:14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, even those who because of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

2Pe 1:10 Therefore, brothers, rather be diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you do these things, you shall never fall.

Blessings

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