Pray for Harvard Law
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How about the word, extraordinary? Would you use that word to describe the reality that we are in right now? We find ourselves isolated and quarantined while we see life as we once knew it morphing in front of our very eyes. Our world is changing or, at least, it’s different in this season—introverts are flourishing in isolation, while extroverts are struggling; people are reconnecting with long lost friends virtually, while we are separated from our … friends. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve stopped watching the nightly news program because I don’t want to hear these words again — “Another record-breaking number of deaths in the last 24 hours…” But that’s the reality that we are living in currently.
‘Keep it simple, stupid’ was something I had never heard before I took a preaching class at seminary. I’m not sure if it qualifies to be one of the true “great” preaching mantras, or leadership mantras, but it gets its point across. Dr. Haddon Robinson, my preaching professor, used to say to us homiletical plebes, things like, “If it’s foggy in the pulpit, it’s cloudy in the pews!”, or “If you can’t say it in 25 minutes, you won’t know how to say it in 45.”
I love to cook. I love cooking, not simply because I love food (as all inspiring chefs!), but I really like the process of creating something with ingredients that I have at my disposal. Once in a while, my wife, Melissa, will watch me prepare a meal, and notice that I’ve stopped following the recipe at one point in my preparation. “You’re not following the recipe anymore, are you?” she’ll ask. And my answer is, “Nope.” I’ll tell her that while I love my cookbooks and all its recipes, I get to a point that I know what the key ingredients I’ll need for a sauce, or a meal, or a recipe are.
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Thatʼs important to know. Iʼll tell you in a minute the reason why.
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
Itʼs probably the most well-known revival verse in the Scriptures. This summer, itʼs been on our lips weekly, and itʼs on my mind constantly. “LORD, will you really?” I sat down with this passage for a couple hours this week, as I prepared to release the welcome campaign for the incoming class at Harvard Law School. As I was dwelling in the prescriptive and conditional promises of this particular verse, I found myself pausing and asking myself, “LORD, is that all it takes to bring revival?”
“And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city...” Jonah 4:11.
We’ve been studying the great little book of Jonah this summer in Cambridge. You know Jonah, right? It’s the little, little book between Obadiah and Micah that chronicles a season in the life of a very reluctant prophet by the same name. When you think about the story, it doesn’t reflect well upon its supposed author. But those four short chapters hold great insight into so many great themes: the character of God, justice and mercy, missions, calling, and so on.
The month of May represents the hope of warmer weather, the smell of budding flowers, and a season of newness for many people. If you’re a 3L HLS student, you’re thinking it’s the end of a 3 year-long chapter, and the beginning of the rest of your life. So much has gone into the last three years of law school — so much sacrifice, all the labor and investment into preparing for the life that is now staring back at you squarely. In just a few days, over 500 students will graduate with their degrees from Harvard Law School. Hundreds of young men and women will strive to make their mark and leave a legacy on and in the world in which they will strive to lead. There among them are those who hold a unique understanding of their law degrees as secondary to something of greater value — their call to honor God with their lives.
We’ve been referencing the topic of revival frequently in our study of Nehemiah at HLS lately. Or, should I say, perhaps, I feel like the topic has been speaking to me lately. And it’s appropriate, too, because one of Christian Unions’ missions is to be part of ushering revival into our country through fervent Spirit-led prayer and the study of God’s Word. Then the question came up during one of my mentoring sessions with one of my students, “How does revival happen?”
Maybe, you’ve read some of the great leadership books by Jim Collins (Good to Great, Great by Choice) or books by Simon Sinek (Start with Why) or Joseph Grenny (Crucial Conversations)? I highly recommend another book about leadership, written way before any others - Nehemiah.