Free From the Law–Oh, Happy Condition

Today is Thursday, the seventeenth of June, 2021

The peace of God be with you!

Day 23,107

Three days until Father’s Day

We made it through our first night without C. She landed in Vegas at around 10:15 PM, last night. The flight was delayed just over an hour. Of course, that is only 8:15 in Vegas, I believe. I’m not sure what time her first bowling squad is, today. She will have three games with her team, then three games in pairs and three games in singles. At least I think that’s how it goes. I know there will be at least six games, spread across today and tomorrow. Then she will get back to DFW at around 9:30 PM CDT, tomorrow night, barring flight delays.

S and I are not sure what we will have for dinner tonight. There is a good chance that it may wind up being Applebee’s, as they are kind of on the way home, and it’s an easy stop, with their curbside pickup.


“Think of all the emotions that consume our thoughts: worry, fear, anxiety, anger, pride, and hurt. What good do these bring us? What do we do with them? Do we hold on to them, let them fester? Or do we look at them and ask what is triggering them? Do I need to let go of that?

O Lord, please help me let go.

Let go of bitterness,
let in forgiveness.

Let go of worry,
let in peace.

Let go of fear,
let in hope.

Let go of pride,
let in selflessness.

Let go of hurt, 
let in love.

Let go of hurriedness,
let in this moment.

Let go of indifference,
Let in compassion.

Let go of property,
let in generosity.

Let go of this false self,
let in my true self.

Let it go,
let you grow.
("Let It Go", by Daryl Madden, in On a Bench of Wood: Reflections of God's Grace)

I think my favorite couplet in there is “Let go of hurriedness, let in this moment.”

For I hear many whispering, “Terror on every side!”
They conspire against me and plot to take my life.
But I trust in you, LORD; I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me.
Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.
(Psalms 31:13-16 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that "my times are in your hands."
2. for C's safe arrival in Las Vegas, last night.
3. that, though You are high and exalted, You look kindly on us who are lowly.
4. that Your love endures forever, and You do not abandon the work of Your hands (Psalm 138).
5. that we are free from the law, oh happy condition!

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year



“Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders.”
(Deuteronomy 33:12 NIV)

At this moment, I pause, considering all of the negative emotions that flood my soul, each day. By Your grace, O Lord, I will not allow those to fester, but will let them go, and let in the opposite grace from You.


Of David.

I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise.
I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your unfailing love and your faithfulness, for you have so exalted your solemn decree that it surpasses your fame.
When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me.
(Psalms 138:1-3 NIV)

Though the LORD is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly; though lofty, he sees them from afar.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life.
You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me.
The LORD will vindicate me; your love, LORD, endures forever— do not abandon the works of your hands.
(Psalms 138:6-8 NIV)


It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
(Galatians 5:1-6 NIV)


I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord, high and lifted up. I read these passages in His presence, asking the Holy Spirit to direct my thoughts, meditations, and prayers; direct me to truth for my day.

I am drawn to the second part of Psalm 138, that part that speaks of God being high, exalted, yet He lowers Himself to care for us. Though He is great, He cares for the humble. Though He is mighty, He cares for the weak. That’s us, y’all. The trouble is, we believe ourselves to be exalted, mighty, and strong.

Nevertheless, the Lord condescends to care for us, to love us, to show compassion on us. And His love endures forever.

The Galatians passage for today begins with a bang. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”


That’s a word that has been thrown around and abused a lot in the past year. There are many people in the world, especially in Western culture (I pick on Western culture a lot, I realize, but that’s where I am, so that’s what I see), who believe that “freedom” means you can do whatever you want. Sadly, a lot of those people are “conservative evangelical Christians.” I find this puzzling.

I find it puzzling because, as Christians, we give up our “rights.” We surrender them, not to a government, not to other people, but to our God, in Jesus Christ. Instead, we seem to think that this relationship with the Creator gives us more rights. I am utterly baffled as to where we come up with this.

The “freedom” of which Paul speaks is regarding the law. Pretty much the entire letter to the Galatian church is concerning the appearance that they are sliding back into legalism, beginning to follow the law, after having been set free from the same.

Today’s passage uses that word “circumcision” a few times. But it’s not really about circumcision, is it? It’s about trying to follow the law. And circumcision was a big point of contention in the early church, because the Jewish Christians thought that that was a thing that must be insisted on.

But Paul disagrees. He even goes so far as to tell them that if they do get circumcised, then they have to follow the entire law to be saved.

Let’s move forward a few thousand years. Let’s talk about dancing, drinking, playing cards, viewing “R-rated” movies.

I once served as music minister at a church where I heard the preacher boldly proclaim from the pulpit, “I condemn any Christian who watches an R-rated movie!”

I didn’t stay at that church very long, but that’s not why I left. There were other reasons that I won’t go into here.

He condemns. In the face of Romans 8:1, this pastor condemns those whom Christ does not. In case you need a reminder . . .

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.
(Romans 8:1 NLT)

So in our day, drinking alcoholic beverages, watching R-rated movies, whatever . . . these are the modern day equivalent of circumcision. These are things that the most conservative of evangelicals would say that you can’t do and be a Christian.

Now . . . let’s go back to my statement about freedom not meaning you can do whatever you want. Because it doesn’t. Paul has a lengthy discussion in Romans about this, concerning things that might make my brother stumble. So what does that mean? It means that if, by consuming an alcoholic beverage, I cause a rift with my brother, then I will not consume that alcoholic beverage. At least not where he can see it or know about it.

“Freedom” means that we are not bound by the legalistic requirements of the law. And if we start insisting that Christians must abstain from things like alcohol, R-rated movies, dancing, playing cards, smoking (hah!), or whatever, the we must also insist that the entire law be kept in order to be saved.

And we all know (or at least we should know, if we read our Bibles) that this is


Paul makes a very bold statement in verse 4.

You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.
(Galatians 5:4 NIV)

I could keep writing about this all morning. But then I would be late for work. This reminds me of an old hymn, which, oddly enough, I don’t remember singing very much, if at all, at Calvary Baptist Church in Mineral Wells. I honestly couldn’t hum the tune, at least not past the first line. But the words are beautiful. This is one written by that master of hymnody, Philip Paul Bliss.

Free from the law—oh, happy condition!
Jesus hath bled, and there is remission;
Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall,
Christ hath redeemed us once for all.

 	Once for all—oh, sinner, receive it;
Once for all—oh, doubter, believe it;
Cling to the cross, the burden will fall,
  Christ hath redeemed us once for all.
There on the cross your burden upbearing,
Thorns on His brow your Savior is wearing;
Never again your sin need appall,
You have been pardoned once for all.
Now we are free—there’s no condemnation;
Jesus provides a perfect salvation:
“Come unto Me,” oh, hear His sweet call,
Come, and He saves us once for all.
Children of God—oh, glorious calling,
Surely His grace will keep us from falling;
Passing from death to life at His call,
Blessed salvation once for all.

Father, I praise You that I am free from the law. Yet my freedom has boundaries, because it does not mean that I can do whatever I please with no consequences. What it does mean, though, is that there is, therefore, now, no condemnation for me, as I am in Christ Jesus. Now, as I walk in this freedom, help me to consider the brothers and sisters around me. Help me also to consider the non-believers around me. In fact, may I consider all around me as more significant than myself, releasing any so-called “rights” to You, that I might totally live in humility and grace before You, in Christ, by the Holy Spirit.

Mighty God,
remind me today that faith is a verb,
an active trust in Jesus.
I don't want a coffee-table faith that's mostly display,
a Sunday-only faith that's limited piety,
or a bookish faith that only lives in my head.
Give me a faith that lives and breathes and walks out the door into everyday life,
carrying with it joy,
and love for all,
always trusting in what Jesus has done for me.
In his name,
(Westminster Confession 11.2)


[May you be] filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
(Philippians 1:11 NIV)

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
(1 Peter 4:8 ESV)

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”
(John 15:9-10 ESV)

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
(Ephesians 4:32 ESV)

Father, these Scriptures continue to impress upon me that which You have already given me. Help me to be a loving person, abiding in Your love, keeping Your commandments (those two big ones), and being kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving to others, as You have forgiven me. All glory to You, through Christ and by the Spirit.

Lord, may I grow in holiness today. May You uncover any idols that I might be hiding in my heart. May I know, fully, Your forgiveness, and be willing to extend that, fully, to others in my life.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Come; Listen; Seek

Today is Friday, the twelfth of March, 2021, in the third week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,010

23 days until Resurrection Sunday

Yesterday was a wonderful day! After I finished blogging, C and I got bowling gear together and headed up to the local Bowlero house. I know. It’s a stupid name, and I hate it. But they pretty much rule bowling, now, having even purchased the PBA. I had a fourteen-pound ball that needed drilling, so we started at the pro shop. We had to wait a little bit, as there were people already in there, and a sign on the door said only two customers at a time. Masks were “suggested” at the front door of the bowling alley, but required in the pro shop.

We finally got inside the pro shop, and the young man inside took measurements and told me to give him around a half hour. We both figured he was being a bit liberal with that estimate, and it turns out, we were right. It took closer to an hour, but that’s okay. We went ahead and started our two hours of bowling with another ball I had brought along.

Ironically, I bowled a 235 in the first game, starting out with four straight strikes. With no warming up. It was crazy. And the thumb hole on my older ball was too big, because, you know, I’m down a hundred-plus pounds. We finished two games before the new ball was done. The second game, I bowled 166, which is more realistic. Then I got the new ball. It’s an Ebonite Nitro, and it’s pretty porous, even more-so than the Hammer I was using. But it fit perfectly! I bowled a 186 with that ball. It felt great.

However, by the end of that game, I had a muscle in my forearm that felt strained or pulled or something, so I only made it through about four frames of the last game, which C finished out. I think the pain was starting before I got the new ball, because I noticed some pain between my ring finger and pinky finger on my right hand, due to the way I was having to try to grip the ball, because the thumb hole was too big.

It was a great time, though, and I have a great new ball to use. And, bonus, my left knee never hurt at all. Oh. That reminds me. I remember mentioning the possibility of drilling the new ball for left handed. I decided not to try that.

After bowling, we ordered Applebee’s for whatever meal you want to call that (it was somewhere around 3:00 PM), and picked up Sonic. We ate our food, and then I settled in for some Playstation time.

Today, we plan to check out the Electric Starship Arcade, during the early afternoon. I have also done prep on a new recipe we are going to try for dinner tonight. From the Emily Bites website, it’s called “Crispy Onion Dip Chicken.” The “onion dip” is made from fat free Greek yogurt, onion powder, and chives. The chicken needs to marinate in the dip for a few hours (up to eight), so I’ve already prepped it and have it in the refrigerator. I will update tomorrow on how it turns out.


God, my Father,
You have promised to remain forever with those
who do what is just and right.
Help me to live in Your presence.
The loving plan of Your Wisdom was made known when
Jesus, your Son, became man like us.
I want to obey His commandment of love
and bring Your peace and joy to others.
Keep before me the wisdom and love
You have made known in Your Son.
Help me to be like Him in word and deed.

(Prayer to Live in God’s Presence)

for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
(Psalms 63:7-8 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  • For the wonderful day we had yesterday; thank you, C, for what is going to be a wonderful birthday weekend!
  • For my beautiful and marvelous wife, and the wonderful marriage we have
  • For bowling; that was great fun!
  • That You extended the invitation to come to You
  • That You gave me ears to listen to You
  • That You caused me to seek You and call upon Your name while You can still be found
  • That You have had mercy and have freely pardoned me
  • For Your wonderful words of life!

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year



And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
(Isaiah 6:3 NIV)

Spend a moment in silence, resting in the shadow of His wings, enjoying His presence.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:11 ESV)


Of David.

To you, LORD, I call; you are my Rock, do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who go down to the pit. Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place.
(Psalms 28:1-2 NIV)

Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.
(Psalms 28:6-7 NIV)


“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.”
(Isaiah 55:1-3 NIV)

Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
(Isaiah 55:6-7 NIV)


As I sit in His presence, I see some beautiful words, this morning. The entire passage in Isaiah 55 is an invitation. It is threefold, at least. For the moment, I’m focusing on three words. You might be able to guess what they are.

First, is “come.” To all who are thirsty, and to all who are hungry, the Lord says “come.” Come to the waters; and if you have no money, it doesn’t matter. The word “come” appears four times in verse 1. The door is open, the invitation is given. God does not make Himself hard to find. It is human pride that makes God hard to find.

The second word is “listen.” Between verses 2 and 3, “listen” occurs three times, and a once, it is repeated immediately. “Listen, listen.” The fact that it is directly repeated like that adds emphasis. If you include “give ear” in verse 3, then that invitation is also given four times. The reason is found in verse 3. “Listen, that you may live.”

There’s another old hymn that I remember. I grew up Southern Baptist in a small town in north central Texas, minutes away from DFW. All we sang were hymns. Worship “choruses” and contemporary worship music didn’t come on the scene until at least eighties, at least as far as adult “church” was concerned. We had our youth songs, like “Pass It On,” and “I Wish We’d All Been Ready.” But in “church,” we only sang hymns.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Here you go. By the great hymn-writer, Philip P. Bliss.

1. Sing them over again to me,
wonderful words of life;
let me more of their beauty see,
wonderful words of life;
words of life and beauty
teach me faith and duty.

Beautiful words, wonderful words,
wonderful words of life.
Beautiful words, wonderful words,
wonderful words of life.

2. Christ, the blessed one, gives to all
wonderful words of life;
sinner, list to the loving call,
wonderful words of life;
all so freely given,
wooing us to heaven.

3. Sweetly echo the gospel call,
wonderful words of life;
offer pardon and peace to all,
wonderful words of life;
Jesus, only Savior,
sanctify forever.

I know some of you are singing this, right now.

I love that line, “wooing us to heaven.” God’s Word is life. The words that He speaks are words of life! And He bids us come and listen to Him, that we may live! To refuse to do so is simply and utterly foolishness!

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
(Psalm 14:1 NIV)

The third word is “seek.” Only used once in verse 6, we are encouraged/admonished to “seek the Lord while He may be found.” This, of course, implies that there will come a time when He will not be found. When will that be? After the final judgment, when everything is said and done. Then, and only then, will there be a time when humanity will not be able to seek and find the Lord. Until that day, there will always be a chance. As Led Zeppelin famously sang, “There’s still time to change the road you’re on.” I suppose I should clarify that it is also too late, once one has passed on from this life, at least as far as I understand things.

The final result of all of this coming, listening, and seeking is found in verse 7.

Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
(Isaiah 55:7 NIV)

He will have mercy, and He will freely pardon.

FREELY!! Liberally! At no cost to us, because the high, high cost of salvation has already been paid!

Father, I praise You, this morning, for the truth of these words, these “wonderful words of life.” I thank You that You bid me come, so many years ago. I thank You that You gave me ears to listen to you (although they still fail to do so, at times). And I thank You that You led me to seek you and call on Your name, before it was too late. Thank You for Your great mercy, and Your free pardon! Thank You for Your Wonderful Words of Life!

True God,
who can save?
So many pretenders
serve up hollow promises,
but it's all foolishness.
No one else can release me
from my punishment;
no program can set me right with you.
Turn me again to Jesus,
the only true deliverer,
and clear me from my sin.
(Heidelberg Catechism 14)


Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.
(Psalms 32:1-2 NIV)

The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
(Psalms 145:18 NIV)

You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows.
(Job 22:27 NIV)

I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
(Psalms 17:6 NIV)

“To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives. Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.”
(Revelation 2:12-17 NIV)

The chapter of This Hallelujah Banquet that treats this letter to the church in Pergamum is called “The Test of Our Truth.”

We live in an age where “word making” is a huge enterprise. It’s one of the biggest businesses going. The computer age hastened this along a great deal, and, now that they are everywhere and small enough to hold in the palm of your hand, making words is even easier.

“Words are big business.”

Says, Peterson, “With this great emphasis on words, you might think they are studied and valued and understood more than ever before.” (Keep in mind that these words were part of sermons preached in the 1980s!) Unfortunately, that is not the case, and it is even more true than ever, today, in 2021. Social media has exacerbated this problem, along with the ignorance of the masses.

Words are used “badly, sloppily, carelessly.”

In fact, the actual words seem less important than the effects they can cause. “Words are used in order to influence, to sell a car or a candidate, to seduce, to persuade, to win for propaganda, or for advertisement. The skill of our times is not using words as words but using them as weapons, as tools.” (Emphasis mine)

“One of the large and persistent tasks of living the Christian life is learning to tell the truth.” Unfortunately, we continue to lie quite a bit, even when we don’t realize it. “Lies are not usually blatant falsehoods. In order to be successful, they have to be mostly truth.” And, the root cause of most lies is laziness. “Most people tell lies with the best of intentions. They think they are helping the cause of their country or company or their own fortunes and that this is the best way.” Lying is easier than doing the work to make sure we are telling the truth.

(From This Hallelujah Banquet, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, I pray earnestly for us, Your people, today. Help us discern truth. As we deal with people on social media, may we be more diligent to do the work to make sure that we are always telling the truth. Help us to stop spreading lies because of our affinity to a political party or candidate, or because of our support for some “cause” that is not You. We have fallen far, Lord, in the cause of truth. Jesus is The Truth! Help us to always remember this, and to make sure that we are not telling lies, even unintentionally.

Lord, I pray that, today, You might cause me to think seriously on the Cross of Jesus Christ, and its benefits to my life. I pray for all who are currently living in poverty and suffering injustice. May Your people rise up and help, Father, and may we send more than “thoughts and prayers.” I pray for all who face temptations today (that should be everyone, right?), that You would give us all the strength to withstand the temptation and find the escape route that You promise.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Those who have been ransomed by the LORD will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.
(Isaiah 51:11 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.