Sunday, October 4, 2009

Practicing Law According to What God Preaches

"[A]lways pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Test all things; hold fast to what is good." 1 Thessalonians 5:15b-18, 21

As Christians these are the words we read and in they seem like fantastic things to aspire to. "Pray without ceasing," "Pursue what is good," "in everything give thanks." However, as law students we may wonder how we are to apply these admonishments to our everyday lives.

First, we are told to love others and always seek their good. You might ask, as I did, "who is my neighbor and whom should I love?" Some are easy to identify as neighbors and just as easy to love, family, close friends, even actual neighbors. However, the path of a law student leads to more "neighbors," what about the "gunner" in your classes? The professor who calls on you and humiliates you in front of the entire class? Or even the guy who cut you off on your way into class in the morning? Each of these people may not seem very lovable. However, each is our neighbor and we are told by Jesus to love them as ourselves.

Second, we should rejoice always. Rejoice always means we should nurture a childlike wonder of all the God has done. It took just a flick of His hand and the entire universe came into being. He has created billions of unique individuals each of which was created in His own image. And in all of whom we may glimpse of the Creator should we look closely enough. This is a particularly difficult aspiration to live up to. Law school is, at the best of times, difficult and exhausting. At the worst frustrating, infuriating, and all-around miserable. However, we should never be so busy or self-absorbed that we forget to stop and wonder at the greatness that is our God.

Third, we are to pray without ceasing and give thanks in everything. There is nothing we have that hasn't come from the hand of God and we should never forget to stop and thank him for the blessings we have. So, while law school is hard and sometimes seems impossible we should always remember it is by God's grace we have the privilege of attending law school and obtaining a higher education. Many in the world are not so lucky.

Fourth, we should remember His faithfulness in fulfilling His plan. God has cast the entire production that is history and each role he gives is important and indispensable. Often we forget that we matter in God's grand plan. It is easy to fell lost in the crowed of students, all of whom seem smarter and infinitely more well qualified to be lawyers than you. However, how much more does God care for us if He feds the sparrows and clothes the flowers? As law student, just beginning our legal journey, we should remember "[i]n all you ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." (Prov. 3:6)

As law students this is the time in our lives we should decide if we are going to practice law according to what God preaches or go our own way. The Law, like law school is difficult and it is only through God's direction and help that we are able to live up to his commands to us. "I know whom I have believed and I am persuaded that He is able." (II Time. 1:12)

Additional Readings: Matthew 6 & Philippians 4
Source: What Does the Lord Require of You? Advocates Int'l 1997. Ed. Lynn R Buzzard. "Practicing (Law According To) What God Preaches" Alan Button

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Christian Legal Society and the Resume

Reading: 2 Timothy 1:8

Perhaps you've never thought about it but would you put your membership in Christian Legal Society (or any other "christian" organization) on your resume? However, as you being your job search the thought may come up.

Certainly, it would be easy to leave it off. You might even have a "good" reason to do so, maybe someone told you it would be better if you left it off. Maybe, you weren't very active so you don't think it doesn't matter if CLS is there or not. Or perhaps, you are worried about the reaction you will get from employers if you leave it on.

However, there are also benefits to having CLS on your resume. More conservative employers might be inclined to look at your resume. To many, membership in an organization like CLS means that you have values, morals, and principles. And after all, it is illegal to discriminate against someone because of their religion.

Is leaving CLS off your resume a denial of Christ? 2 Timothy 1:8 admonishes us "do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord." By specifically not putting a Christian organization on your resume because you do not want to be turned down for a job or because you do not want to field the questions that may be asked you are telling God he is not worth the effort. Everything you put on your resume tells something about you from your choice of undergraduate institutions to the other organizations in which you are involved. Why is the then the thing you are thinking of leaving off your resume should be the most important thing in your life, God?

In the end, whether or not you put membership a Christian organization on a resume is a personal choice and one only you can make. After all, in most cases, no one is going to know if you don't mention your membership. However, before you decide to leave it off consider what it says to God when you are more concerned about getting a job than you are about having a "testimony for our Lord."

Additional Reading: Mark 8:38, 2 Timothy 2:12, Matthew 10:33

Monday, September 7, 2009

Unanswered Prayers

Reading: II Cor. 12:9

Do you ever feel like you pray and pray for something, maybe it's a loved one who is sick or a problems you are having, and God never seems to answer that prayer? Perhaps, you then begin to ask "Why, God?" Why does God allow things to happen the way they do? Why do some people, perhaps those labeled as "bad," seem to prosper? Why do others, those who are "good," know only poverty and pain?

It is in the nature of lawyers to look for answers and as law students we begin nurturing that nature from the moment we walk into the classroom. From the moment we read our first case in preparation for that first class we are looking for the answers. We ask ourselves "What questions are professor likely to ask?" then we look for the answers to those imagined questions. As exams draw close we study for hours on end in an attempt to prepare ourselves to find the answer to the exam questions.

God, however, is not always looking to give us the answer. There are somethings he requires us to take on faith. As Christians we live by faith and not by sight. It is that faith that God is looking to instill in us. It's the same faith that God has asked thousands of great Christians before us and will ask of thousands after us. That we only trust Him and that we trust only Him. It is that same faith that God asked of Paul when he said "My grace is sufficient for you."

So, when our prayer for a loved one or ourselves go "unanswered" and we ask ourselves why God is refusing to help perhaps it is better to remind ourselves that "my grace is sufficient for you." It is at this point that God may be seeking to teach us that there is not always an answer and now is the time for us to learn to have faith in Him.

Additional Readings: Job 1-2, Isaiah 55:6-13, I Corinthians 1:18-31
Source: What Does the Lord Require of You? Advocates Int'l 1997. Ed. Lynn R Buzzard. "Cases Not Yet Closed" Alan Button

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sorting out your Priorities

Readings: Haggai 1:9,12

As law students there are constant demands on our time. First, there is the reading and preparing for classes, which can amount to more than 100 pages a week. Then there is the actual class time itself, followed by the time spent outlining, reviewing, and working on practice problems. Not to mention the clubs, church, family, work, and social activities which consume every other spare minute of our days. After all of the activities is it any wonder that in our busy lives our priorities may become a little confused over our time in law school? We are working and working hard but are we working for what really matters?

In the Old Testament, as Joshua and the people were rebuilding the city of Jerusalem they developed a work ethic that would challenge even the strongest "Protestant work ethic" today. They were rebuilding their homes, businesses, well, and everything else in the city. However, they were not pleasing God in their efforts, they were not working on his first priority. God wanted his people working on his house before they worked on their own homes. But how does this apply to us today? It is not as if there is an actual temple that God wants rebuilt is there?

The answer to that is no. Of course, there is no actual temple that God wants us to physically rebuild. However, God still wants us to be building his temple, in the bodies and lives of Christians. In order to build God's temple and do his will we must first have a personal relationship with him. If we ever hope to build God's temple we have to do more then simply go to church on Sunday, give offerings, or be baptized. We have to have a personal, heartfelt relationship with God.

As law students we are often more consumed with law school and all the demands on our time from every location to stop and consider our relationship with God. He is our focus for a couple hours on Sunday morning, if that, and than He is placed on the back burner for the rest of the week. In doing so we, like the people in the Old Testament, are building our own houses before we build God's. However, the time has come for us to stop and think; which house is going to last for eternity?

Additional Readings: Matthew 6, 1 Corinthians 3

Source: Buzzard, Lynn, ed. What does the Lord require of you? Devotional readings for lawyers. Advocates Int'l 1999.