We have just celebrated our country’s birth: Independence Day – The Fourth of July. This day 245 years ago set us free from the tyranny and control of England. As our new nation was created citizens were empowered by this new freedom. They could buy, sell, trade, own land and more without having to pay taxes to a government thousands of miles and an ocean away. While we gained the freedom to worship and live as we chose through the American Revolution, we also gained a less desirable freedom, we had the freedom to choose to sin and do evil.

As with humans everywhere this baby country did not live peacefully in joyful freedom, but instead people, as sinful humankind will do, used their freedom as license to take what was not theirs, strike out in anger or retribution, enslave their brothers, and overall allow their freedom to lead to bondage. When men are free they have the right to choose, but they must be careful to choose wisely. Will they choose freedom from sin or freedom to sin?

We have that question before us every day of our life. Will we, will I, in my freedom chose to do evil, to sin? Or will I choose freedom from sin which requires me to self-govern and deny myself and choose to not do everything my heart desires, to reject the freedom to do evil?

Our society today is suffering. We are suffering from sin. People daily choose to do as they please regardless of the consequences. Regardless of whether it negatively affects others. Even regardless of the law. We as a nation are increasingly becoming a people who do what we want, when we want no matter the cost. How can we change our culture? How can we come back to a freedom that embraces honor and respect for others?

First, we must each individually choose freedom FROM sin. We must make it our goal to live self-less, not self-ish lives. We must wholeheartedly obey Jesus, seeking to live out the truths of scripture each day. We must put others first and self last as we are instructed in Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” We must become individuals of integrity and character who are lighthouses to those passing by in this dark world.

Second, we must proclaim Jesus to everyone we meet. The only hope for a fallen, sinful society is Jesus. The book of John tells us, “Jesus said…, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free…. Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. … if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.'” (John 6:31-32, 34, 36) Real freedom comes through knowing the truth. Jesus is the truth. It is through knowing Jesus, the truth, and abiding in Him, making daily choices to live like Him, that we are set free from sin. And that is the only true freedom we will ever have.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John14:6

Seek the Truth

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8

 “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ear they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” 2 Timothy 4:4

 Most Saturday mornings I try to steal away for a few hours and go on a long walk by myself. Sometimes I’ll just talk to the King, and sometimes I’ll enjoy a virtual companion or two, usually some of my favorite Bible teachers. On one particular long-walk morning last fall, I found myself wrestling with some tough questions. I’d immersed myself in the Word, studied it prayerfully, and the Spirit began to resolve some of my issues. But I found myself needing some extra help sorting through the weeds to get to the good fruit. I knew it was time to seek out some solid counsel.  

pexels-photo-1708936.jpegI have learned over the years to be exponentially cautious when it comes to reliable sources on the Bible. I’ve dubbed my “go to” pastors/teachers the Fab Five. They are people I have put to the “truth test” and have found, though, and probably most importantly, because they aren’t perfect and don’t claim to be, they truly do ask hard questions and see the Word as the infallible, inerrant TRUTH. I started pondering what made these particular men and women stand above the rest, and I discovered they all have these characteristics in common: 

1) They are humble. They recognize they don’t have all the answers and they still have much to learn. They even go so far as to course correct teaching they believe they were mistaken on in the past. This is typically on a nonessential (not pertinent to the truth that Christ is the only WAY to salvation), possibly something that has shifted in them as they have grown in their understanding of the Word, or they’ve simply matured as a follower of Christ. But it’s their desire to live in integrity, in the way they teach, and in the way they rightly handle the Word of truth, that I believe is a vital quality for a Bible teacher.

2) They consider the Bible as the most valuable commentary on the Bible. Every point, every idea, is supported with scripture, and seeking the whole counsel of God’s Word is preeminent in their ministry.

3) They focus on the preeminence of Jesus Christ. Not on a church or on a ministry or a denomination, but on the absolute beauty and power and grace and profoundness of Jesus Christ crucified, died, and risen again for our salvation and sanctification. 

4) They encourage their listeners to examine the truth for themselves. They never teach that their way is the only way to interpret the scriptures, they encourage their listeners to keep them accountable and reassure them that if they have the Holy Spirit as their guide, they have all they need to examine the scriptures. 

5) They don’t try to make the scriptures fit what seems “right in their own eyes” but let the scriptures speak—in context and in power and sometimes in mystery (Deuteronomy 29:29). 

If you are seeking to walk in the truth, be discerning and prayerful about who you go to when you are wrestling with the Word. Go to teachers you know you can trust to equip you and point you directly back to the inspired, inerrant Word of God. Seek out men and women who will pass the litmus test of 2 Timothy 2:15 “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” And remember the truth that follows directly after it in 2 Timothy 2:16 “But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene.” (Gross!). Don’t be afraid to stand firm on truth and put Biblical teachers to the test. Because you too, want to be counted among those who are not ashamed, but are seeking to rightly handle the Word and think on what is true.


Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32




Phony Pitcher Plants

You will know the truth and the truth will set you free! John 8:32

A while back in the middle of the night I found myself watching a documentary on the Pitcher Plant. Perhaps it was my groggy state, or my laziness I watched it in its entirety. I can assure you it was not an overwhelming desire to know more about the carnivorous plant that kept the television channel on the program.

A little while later my husband and I were talking to a friend. He’d asked did we know what a pitcher plant was? My husband and I spoke simultaneously each with a different answer. I was the affirmative, he was the negative. As our friend spoke of a pitcher plant bog in southern Alabama I listened with interest; I did make a note but was not adding it hard and fast to the vacation agenda.

When our vacation arrived we spent one day, as we have done traditionally for many years – Martin Adventuring Day – with no real agenda except to make our way to a favorite small town.

As we traversed Highway 98, the scenic and not-so-scenic we encountered locals and beautiful older than Alabama trees with hanging Spanish moss. We saw old homes that I mused must have been made of good stuff because despite their obvious age and numerous destructive weather phenomena they would have witnessed, those old bungalows were still upright. Just before we crossed some big bridge over a bay we stumbled upon the Pitcher Plant Bog.

I am not sure exactly what type of fanfare I expected for a mass of meat-eating plants. Perhaps I thought we would find a guide or two, dressed like the documentary folks, or that character from low-budget jungle movies that have some long-lost field worker found wearing a hat with mosquito netting, khaki shorts that meet tall brown calf covering socks, a shirt with lots of pockets, and a slightly diminished British accent.

pitcher-plantAs we took the self-guided tour in the blazing heat of the Alabama Sun we spied several of the carnivorous plants. After an hour or more We had taken a few photos, all agreed that – they weren’t nearly as large as we thought they’d be, – there sure could be a lot of snakes hiding out, – we were hungry, – it was “hotter than the Devil’s armpit” out, and – we had seen enough.

As our day moved on and we adventured our way to the various places, I put the Pitcher Plants in the back of my mind.

Several weeks later we were at a clubhouse of sorts. Over the course of time there all of us had gone to the restroom. As I walked in I noticed the imitation flower arrangement sitting on the commode tank, a decorative piece, clearly placed there for its exotic look and appealing colors. I knew immediately what it was – an arrangement of fake Pitcher Plants. As I sat cautiously, I giggled and wondered if anyone else had given much thought to the decor of the bathroom. As the carnivores looked over my shoulder I became a bit uncomfortable and found myself speeding things up a bit.

I didn’t mention the arrangement to anyone, it was out of my mind in no time and I moved on with the tasks I had at hand.

As our time at the clubhouse came to a close I was approached by Shelton, his hair dripping from hours of swimming. He pulled me and insisted I “see something important!”

I gave in to his imploring and followed the point of his finger to the bathroom,

“How do you like that? Do you think anybody knows when they are using it those could eat them if they were real?”

He burst into laughter, I laughed too at his recognition of the those and how a similar thought had crossed my mind.

We parted ways, he to the do his job of outside pickup, and I to the kitchen to put away leftovers.

As I packed away the leftovers My youngest petitioned me loudly from down the hallway.

“Mama! Maaa-ma! Come quick!”

I bolted down the hallway to see my youngest pointing at the commode. A slight panic overtook me. “We’ve ruined the clubhouse toilet- where had I seen that plunger?!”

“Look Mama! It’s the plants!”

She had recognized them too.

Relief washed over me as I praised her for her recognition and excitement. I tucked the experience in my mind and moved on with my clean up duties.

Prior to the Annual Martin Adventure, we had no idea what those weird-looking plastic plants were. There was no recognition of their power or uniqueness. We had no point of reference really. After the hour at the bog, the Martins knew and even found the humor in such an oddly placed plant.

pexels-photo-208278The King’s Word can be like that. When we do not know it, know the Truth it encompasses, understand the solidarity that accompanies it when studied together, and the comfort it freely gives, we are not able to recognize it when we are confronted with a counterfeit. When we are fed a fake we do not know it, we do not fully recognize it, because we have not experienced the genuine.

Shelton and Maggie recognized the likeness of the Pitcher Plant but because they knew the real one. They also recognized there was no threat of the fake ones sitting on the back of the potty.

We must know the Word, must long to explore and understand its Truth so that when we are confronted with a fake we are able to recognize it as such.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.

2 Timothy 3:16 ESV