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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What's Love Got to Do With It? Part 1

"So this is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters." (1 John 3:16)

Ok, first, please stop singing that song in your head. :) Second, let me clarify the question a little. What does a Christian's love of God have to do with his/her life? The reason I ask this question is that "love" is a fruit of the Spirit, and therefore, it is important for a Christian to have a biblical understanding of what love is and how love is to be lived out.

I want to suggest that a Christian's love for God should drive everything that we do. For example, Jesus Christ commands all those who have repented of their sin and have faith in Christ to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:37-39). These commands of Christ are the reason why a Christian's life must be radically different from the world because we are to evaluate all of our actions, thoughts, and motivations in light of this passage in order to determine if they are driven by a love for God and others or for by a love for ourselves.

With regard to love, one fundamental difference in a non-Christian and a Christian is that a non-Christian's primary love is a love of self with the goal of bringing glory to himself/herself. On the other hand, a Christian's primary love is a love of God that seeks to bring glory to Him. Every sin committed is the result of when a person's love for himself/herself trumps his/her love for God. Think about it. All sin can be traced back to a love of self because our sin is an example of us doing what we desire to do out of a love for self, instead of doing what God desires us to do out of an obedient and submissive love of Him. We must never forget that sin whether it is a love of self or any other sin is no small matter because it is rebellion against God.

As a Christian, love might be costly at times when we are wronged, persecuted, or taken advantage of, but we must remember that Christ's love for us was costly as well. "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. (1 John 3:16)

In this first devotional on love, let's briefly look at some practical ways that we can live out a love for God. First, a Christian's life is to be a life of sacrifice. What I mean by that is that Christians are called to die to self and live for Christ. The first way we need to pursue accomplishing this goal is to be faithful our practice of pursuing God through our exercise of the personal spiritual disciplines of reading the Bible, praying, memorizating Scripture, and fasting. We must make time for these things as they are essential in the process of loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind.

The Bible teaches us about our sin, about who God is, and about how we are to live a life that is in submission to Him. It would be foolish for a person who professes to be a Christian to try to live a life that is reflective of the love of God by just doing what feels best to him/her at the moment. In the same way, it would be foolish for an untrained "soldier" to go to battle with an unloaded gun or for an attorney to argue a case in court with no knowledge of the laws that apply to the case.

Our hearts are prone to evil and unbelief, and we must combat that tendency by letting God's Word shape the way we live and love. When our conscience convicts us of our sin, Christians should be reminded that our salvation is not a result of our imperfect work and obedience, but rather, a Christian's salvation is a result of God's work that he accomplished for all those who would repent of their sin and put their faith in the one Triune God of the Bible. The gospel of Jesus Christ is an exclusive gospel (John 14:6). It is simply not loving and untrue to tell anyone otherwise.

As we conclude, let's look at 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 which says: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."


~ With thanks to the author of this devotional, Brady Tarr, Attorney Ministries Coordinator, Christian Legal Society.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Patience: Busy People and a Patient God

"And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all."

(1 Thessalonians 5:14)

I don't know about you, but when I hear the word patience and am reminded that it is supposed to be evident in my life as a Christian, I get a little nervous because I don't have to spend much time evaluating my life to realize that I am often not a patient person. I think that if we are honest with ourselves and each other we will all have to admit that we are tempted to be impatient in a society where things never get done as quickly as we would like for them to.

What are some examples of things that we often blame our impatience on? Here are a few examples:

  1. Getting the results back from the LSAT
  2. Hearing whether or not we were accepted into the law school you wanted to go to
  3. Waiting to get grades back after tests
  4. Waiting to get a job
  5. Waiting to meet your spouse and get married
  6. Waiting to argue your case in court
  7. Waiting on a judge or jury to give a verdict
  8. When a veteran attorney has to train a new attorney
  9. Waiting on your spouse to get home after work
  10. Waiting on your children to do what you ask
  11. The wait to pay off student loans, a car, or a house
  12. The wait for warm weather to come
  13. Treating others with impatience who sin against me...remember how Christ treats us

How would you define patience?

For a Christian, patience can be defined as the capacity to endure hardship, difficulty, or inconvenience without complaint because of the Christian's faith in and reliance on God. I think that we can all agree that patience is hard, but just because patience is hard and is sometimes misperceived as weakness does not mean that Christians should not pursue patience through our prayers, thoughts, and actions.

What is the importance of Patience?

  1. We are commanded to be patient (1 Thess. 5:14)
  2. Patience is a Fruit of the Spirit which should be evident in the lives of Christians (Gal. 5:22-23)
  3. Impatience is sin against God (Ps. 51:3-4)

What causes impatience? Would it be correct to say that other people, our circumstances, our pride, our envy, or even ourselves are the cause of our impatience at different time. No, impatience is most fundamentally rooted in a lack of faith in Jesus Christ. All the other things mentioned are secondary factors that we often give as excuses for our impatience/lack of faith in God.

The Example of Patience (James 5:10-11; Rom. 15:5-6)

In light of the fact that impatience is a sin that all Christians are guilty of and/or tempted by, I think a helpful thing for each of us to do is think about how Christ exemplified patience and how we can apply the things we learn from his example. The first thing we must remember is that Christ's desire was not for his will to be done, but His Father's. Jesus was patient in submitting to whatever would bring God the most glory.

Is our impatience a result of our desire to glorify God or to in some way glorify ourselves? We need to pray on a daily basis for God to help us see our work, actions, speech, thoughts, and circumstances in light of God's glory and not our own.

Second, many of you are attorneys who I trust want justice to be done in accordance to the law (Micah 6:8). We all know that sometimes no matter how hard we work, justice is not done in our eyes. However troubling injustice is to all of us, God is at work in all things to bring himself glory whether we fully comprehend how a certain situation glorifies him or not. Jesus left us an example of remaining faithful even though he suffered under injustice after injustice, and God was glorified through his death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus' patient endurance and faith in God accomplished the salvation of all those who would repent of their sin and put their faith in Jesus Christ.

When we understand that God is at work in all things to bring himself glory, we can understand one of the statements that Sam Ericcson was known for saying after losing a case that he had initially thought would be better to win... He would say "party when you win and party when you lose" because God's glory/purpose is being accomplished either way. Sam was a great man and left a legacy of a life of faithfulness that we can emulate.

When injustice is done in a case of yours or on a test of yours is your goal to respond to that injustice with a patient faith that glorifies God in light of the fact that he is in control of all things?

Third, we all need to look at the example of Jesus' response to the supreme injustice he endured. He responded with a forgiving (Luke 23:34) and patient faithfulness to God because his hope was not in the law, in people, or his own strength; his patient faith was in God the Father.

When our spouse, friends, or foes sin against us, we need to be mindful of the amazing patience and mercy that God has toward us each day when we sin against him. With forgiveness in mind, we must seek to treat others as Christ is treating us.

The Obedience of Patience (Lam. 3:24-26)

We must seek to follow Christ's example and put our faith in God and be patient for him to accomplish his will. When we give in to the temptation that we all face to be impatient, we allow ourselves to become nearsighted and consumed with things that are but a vapor in light of eternity instead of being farsighted and consumed with God's eternal glory and the hope that we, as Christians, have to come. A patient Christian is farsighted which means that no matter what joys or trials we encounter or tests of our patience we encounter, we must look for, long for, and pray for that glorious day when Christ returns and sin will be no more! Hallelujah what a Savior... Come Lord Jesus Come!


Father, please cause our minds and thoughts to be consumed with a reverent awe of you and the work of salvation that you accomplished through Jesus Christ. May you help us where we are weak in our faith against sin and unbelief. Thank you for your grace and patience with us. Help us to forgive in such a way that models how we have been/are forgiven by you as undeserving sinners. Amen.

~ With thanks to the author of this devotional, Brady Tarr, Attorney Ministries Coordinator, Christian Legal Society.

Friday, May 21, 2010

I Could Sure Use A Drink!

Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink the water that I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
(John 4:13-14)

Who Could Use A Drink?
Have any of you felt like the Samaritan woman at the well? Maybe you don't have five ex-spouses and are currently living in sin, but maybe you have found yourself in circumstances that were not, shall we say, "ideal." Maybe you are in a tough situation at work, having trouble with your marriage or your children, or simply feeling distant from God. Have you ever felt that way? Just feeling empty. We all feel that way at times, don't we? Maybe you are feeling that way right now.

The Samaritan woman was someone who really needed a drink of living water. She jumped right on the offer Jesus made her. It may have sounded unbelievable, but she was at a low place in her life where she was ready to believe. She wanted to believe. The offer of eternal life in this passage, however, is not reserved for the down and out. For those who have hit rock bottom. Sometimes people who are running on empty and most in need of living water are those who from the outside, seem to be full. Do you know people like that? From the outside, they look like they have it all. A six-figure income, great job, attractive spouse, good health, and a beautiful home. If you pay close attention, however, people who seem to "have it all" are not always happy people. In fact, despite the ostentatious exterior, many well-to-do people are as desperate as the Samaritan woman at the well. If they knew Jesus, they would implore him, "Give me this water so that I won't get thirsty again!" with the same fervor as the Samaritan woman.

Everyone who seeks satisfaction from things of the world will be thirsty again. Whether they seek satisfaction through relationships, alcohol, risk-taking behavior, achievements, or by becoming workaholics, they will never be satisfied. Why go through all of that trouble when Jesus reminds us that "Those who drink the water I give them will never thirst" - how simple is that! Drinking the water Jesus gives you "will become . . . a spring of water welling up to eternal life." Don't wait until you fall upon desperate circumstances to ask Jesus for living water. Ask Him today! He is waiting to hear from you, and can do immeasurably more for you than you could ever ask or imagine! (Eph. 3:20)

Lord, please give me your living water so I will not thirst. Please remind me to keep my eyes on you and not seek satisfaction from the world or from worldly desires. Please remind me that through my faith in you I can receive satisfaction far above and beyond anything I ever imagined in this world. Only you can make me truly full so that I will not thirst. In your name I pray.

~ With thanks to Brent McBurney, Director of Attorney Ministries, Christian Legal Society. This devotional was written by CLS Member, Wendy L. Patrick, J.D., M.Div.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mr. Holland’s Opus

Read: Luke 12:16-21

One of my favorite movies is Mr. Holland’s Opus, starring Richard Dreyfuss. It tells the story of a talented young musician who dreams of creating a masterpiece, his magnum opus, his legacy of genius for history.

Unfortunately, his family needs food and a place to live while the masterwork is in progress, so Mr. Holland takes a job as a public school band director. He is good at the job, but often frustrated as he finds that its demands, and the needs of the young people in his classes, take so much time and energy that he has little left over for composing.

The movie follows Mr. Holland throughout the ups and downs of his adult life, until, at the end [spoiler alert], his dreams of composing fame never realized, he comes to understand that these people were his real opus. The students and family into whom he poured himself over the years were the lasting treasure, the mark of a successful life.

The story rings true for lawyers and, I’m sorry to say, law professors. Many of us dream of making partner, winning the record-breaking verdict, arguing the landmark case in the Supreme Court, being elected to high political office, or appointed as an appellate judge. We tend to assume that our legacy, our mark on history, is found in our achievements within the legal profession.

There’s nothing wrong with those things, but in terms of priority, Luke 12 tells a different story. Not only money, but all the achievements of this world are temporary. They will soon be forgotten by everyone. There is only one thing of permanent, eternal value into which we can invest ourselves: relationships, with God and with other people. Long after our office achievements have been forgotten, the people whom we impacted will be impacting others, who will impact others, and so on.

So the next time you are tempted to think that the “important work” of your day is being interrupted by the annoying client who calls for no real reason, or the secretary who requires way too much hand-holding, or the spouse whose needs are never met, or the children who just can’t understand that you’re too busy, or the waitress at your favorite diner who won’t shut up – take a moment to realize that those people are your important work for the day. God is much more interested in how you impact their lives than He is in one more rewrite of the brief or contract.

~ Prof. Brad Jacob, Regent University School of Law

Friday, April 30, 2010

Who Is Worthy To Drink Living Water?

Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink the water that I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
(John 4:13-14)

Who is worthy to drink living water? This is a critical question nowadays in a society where we are constantly reminded that we could be doing better. Have you ever noticed how massive the self-help section of a bookstore is compared to some other sections? There are books on how to improve every single aspect of your life. Many of us are taught to believe we are just not good enough as we are. We live in an age where standards have become so high that we joke that we would never be accepted into the colleges we managed to attend years ago, and we are filling out resumes and personal statements for our toddlers to attend preschool. And sometimes they don't get in. Not good enough!

Those without faith are hit particularly hard with these unrealistic standards, and even more prone in many cases to consider themselves unworthy. Which is why this is such a great verse; because what kind of a person is it in this passage that is offered living water? A righteous person? Someone living according to high standards? The valedictorian of the local High School? No. A woman who was living in sin with a sordid past, probably shunned by her neighbors. Jesus chose her, to offer her living water and eternal life. He chooses every one of us also individually, and He meets us exactly where we are, ex-spouses and all!

If you are thinking today that you are not good enough, please remember these verses. Jesus specifically chose the Samaritan woman as the one to whom He revealed Himself as the Messiah. If anyone could have used a drink of living water, she could. His invitation to come and drink living water is extended to you. You don't need to go through life empty, you too can be filled. So don't be afraid to approach Jesus. You don't need to come ashamed, or defensive. Just come thirsty, and drink.

Lord please bless us this day and remind us that your offer of living water is open to all of us right now. Please meet us right where we are in order that we may take part in your gift of living water that you extend to each of us. In your name we pray.

~ With thanks to Brent McBurney, Director of Attorney Ministries, Christian Legal Society

Friday, April 23, 2010

Multiplying a Godly Heritage

For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should teach them to their children, that the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born...that they should put their confidence in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments. Psalm 78:5-7

One of the best ways to mirror God's image is through a line of godly descendants-our children-who will carry a reflection of His character to the next generation. God's original plan called for the home to be a sort of greenhouse-a nurture center where children grow up to learn character, values, and integrity. Psalm 78 instructs parents to teach their children to carry the message of who God is to the next generation. Through these lines of godly descendants, Satan's kingdom would be defeated.

Today, however, we can observe a problem with many Christian couples regarding child bearing and child rearing: They conform more to the world's standards than to God's. First, many families comply with the popular slogan "Two and no more." And many other couples opt for no children at all, even though they are perfectly capable of conceiving. All families need not be large. Nor is it wrong for a family to be small. But I do believe some Christians are becoming unduly worried about "overpopulating the world." The world needs Christians who are willing and ready to produce godly offspring. If Christians don't replicate a godly heritage to carry biblical values and Scriptural truths to the next generation, then other philosophies and religions will fill the vacuum.

Consider the kind of impact you want to have on the world through your children. Petition your heavenly Father to help you raise children who will grow up to love Jesus Christ with all their hearts and turn their world upside down for Christ!

~ Prof. Lynne Marie Kohm, Regent University School of Law

Friday, April 16, 2010

Running on Empty

Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink the water that I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
(John 4:13-14)

Whether we are talking about your stomach or the gas tank of your car, it is an uncomfortable feeling to be running on empty. The same is true with our spiritual comfort level. Are we living in the fullness of Christ's love, or are we running without fuel? Interestingly, the answer to this question can have little to do with your circumstances in life, your house, or your family, and everything to do with your relationship with Jesus Christ. We may be able to become "full" temporarily, but how long will we stay fulfilled?

That question is answered in a passage that has become a favorite for many Christians, the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. This woman meets Jesus Christ at the well when she is drawing water, and He makes her an offer that changes her life. And this passage provides a great illustration of the difference between satisfying ourselves with material things, like the well water in this story, or accepting Jesus' offer of eternal satisfaction, represented here by the offer of living water.

Many people today are just like the Samaritan woman; seeking temporary fullness, temporary satisfaction. Whether it's through entertainment, relationships, alcohol, your job, or through the pride of your accomplishments. Jesus offers us something much better. He promises us that we don't have to keep searching for satisfaction in the world. Our satisfaction results from keeping an eye on Him and His promises.

Lord, please inspire us to keep our eyes on you, and not become tempted by the things of the world. Let us remember that only you can make us full, and satisfied in this world. We ask that you show us that reality this day. In your name we pray.

~ With thanks to Brent McBurney, Director of Attorney Ministries, Christian Legal Society