Monday Motivator – October 15

I attended Ohio University in the 1970’s to play varsity baseball. I did not have a personal relationship with Jesus when I went to college, and barely knew much about the One True God. I met several Christians on the baseball team, a few athletic trainers, and their friends, who began to engage me with the person and claims of Jesus. Through their prayer and efforts, I became a convert, then a growing Christian, a disciple, a disciple-maker, and finally a reproducer.

Read Matthew 28:18-20 and 2 Timothy 2:2.

I learned back then that Jesus’ emphasis was not just helping someone become a follower of His, but actually a disciple who makes disciples who makes disciples. If we understand what is called the Great Commission of Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20, He demands we disciple the nations. He also gives us the power to follow through in Acts 1:8.

Let’s consider the scope of this demand: first, the purpose Jesus calls us to is to make disciples of all nations; second, His program involves teaching these new followers (or teammates) to obey everything He has commanded; third, His provision entails receiving power when the Holy Spirit empowers each of us for godly and Kingdom service; and fourth, His promise reveals He will be with us always, to the very end of the age.

Please note that discipling is a task that requires much more than simple programs or techniques. Discipleship at all times requires the power and presence of Jesus Christ through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus entrusted the Kingdom of God into the men and women He discipled. He didn’t write a holy book, left no manual, or tablets of commandments. He only trained and empowered men and women to continue His mission to save the world. Christ demonstrated that discipleship must be encased in a personal, relational model and not in a static, educational mode. This means the discipler must be personally involved in the lives of those he or she is discipling (i.e., “a more mature believer helping to nurture younger members of the community”).

The purpose of discipleship in a university setting involves: A) Providing students involved with a Chi Alpha chapter a pastoral discipler for Christian growth and nurture; B) Providing every student a few students in which to share the love of God with each other; C) Providing a relational learning experience in the practics of the Christian faith; D) Providing an atmosphere for leadership development among students for God’s work; and E) Providing for the continual development of a trans-generational ministry to the campus, as stated in 2 Timothy 2:2.

The making of disciples is not something that just happens. It is a very deliberate and specific process that requires strategy, time, and prayer. It basically is that process by which growing Christians impart their knowledge and experience in the Lord Jesus to newer Christians, in the context of personal relationships. By this process each member is thus given the basic knowledge and skills necessary to grow toward maturity in Christ and is equipped for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-16).

 Serve globally. We desire to follow the instructions of Paul to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2. In this way we perpetuate a continuous development of maturing leaders for the work of Christ on campus, heading into the marketplace, and throughout the world. Will you join us in Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship’s mission to live out the words of Jesus and Paul?

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – October 8

How does it make you feel to know you were “hand-crafted” by a God who loves you?

Imagine you had the privilege of being recognized for your character and achievements. The community in which you born and raised decided to honor you as a native son or daughter by setting up a museum exhibit that reflected your life.

You were in your later years when you received the news of this recognition and you plan to travel home for the occasion. There would be several “You’s” that will be part of the exhibit. The real-life “you” would be present to shake hands, pose for pictures, and greet the well-wishers who show up for the opening of the exhibit.

Researchers are busy creating a series of life-size paintings, pictures, and replicas of you during parts of your life: elementary-middle-high school, your university years, and then the next few decades of your life. The challenge is to find images and descriptions that will help specialists form and fashion what you looked like then and now. They are especially targeting three ages; 19, college sophomore when you decided to live by the values and teachings of Jesus; 40, when you survived a health scare and stressful job situation that tested your ethics; and 67, when you retired and were recognized for living a full, humble, and generous others-centered life.

Museum designers armed with lasers, 3D-computers, and other modern tools hope to create authentic looking versions of you, down to the minute detail of the scar under your nose where your brother hit you with a rake in a fight when you were ages 10 and 9. Your head will be the most difficult of all the tasks. It will initially be made of clay, then wax added, and the final painting will perfect the project. Of course, the replicas will be judged in comparison to your recollection of your likenesses, since you are still alive, before the museum is open to the public.

It is a painstaking process to attempt to put together several versions of a former citizen of your town. It requires significant research, analysis, and artistic and technological skill. Even when the experts are done, what they will have created is only a facsimile of who you really are.

Read Isaiah 64:3-8.

Verse eight says, “Yet, O Lord, You are our Father. We are the clay. You are the potter; we are all the work of Your hand.” The prophet declared that God made each of us out of clay (the dirt, or stuff of the earth) with the care only a loving Father could possess.

We often struggle with feeling less than God’s handiwork, or best work, and more like an after-thought. We often yield to comparing ourselves to others, which is always dangerous. We tend to be insecure about our looks, background, and personality. We are susceptible to envy, which leads us to do what everybody else is doing…because it is fueled by comparison.

The awesome God (verse 3) who is over all of creation made us! He calls us, “the work of My hands for the display of My splendor “ (Isaiah 60:21). How can you display His splendor?

Walk wisely. Do not play the comparison game. Do not let your insecurities define you. Do not succumb to envy. You are dirt with divinity. You are a masterpiece of a loving Father.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – October 1

Anger in relationships is inevitable. It’s impact can vary from emotional coldness to outright expressions of frustration. Often anger results from unmet expectations and frustrations that develop but are not dealt with appropriately and in a timely manner. Learning to overcome anger, a major impediment and destroyer of relationships is critical to healthy friendships.

Short term anger is common to many of us when we let hurt feelings drag into long-term frustration. Not dealing with anger can be damaging, as anger has the power to break down relationships. It can also lead us into darkness and tie us up emotionally. One skill is to learn to “keep your spirit open” to the other person. All that means is working to stay open and communicative with the person and not shut them out. Those who fail to deal with frustrations and hurt feelings are pushing that part of their friendship into a corner.

The net result of unresolved anger is a power struggle. Neither one wants to own up to their contribution that led to the relational conflict. Neither one wants to appear “weak” or give up the strength of their position. It is a battle for who is in control, and it often takes time and wasted energy for power issues to come to the surface in a relationship.

Instead of giving up their rights to “be mad” or “right” or even “heard,” the friends begin using emotional “rights and lefts” to make a point, further alienating the person, and holding onto their seemingly high ground in the conflict. They may even attempt to use the conflict to demand changes in the person and/or the relationship.

I have found three stages develop when two people get locked in a relational power struggle: The first is when issues are raised but never resolved; the second is when the issue is ignored, the participants drop the issue, but then tend to pick on one another; the third is when one or the other person lash out and attack the other.

Read Colossians 3:12-14.

The apostle Paul instructed the believers in first century Colosse to regularly “throw off the old ways of doing life” (i.e., practicing unforgiveness, being angry, etc.), and regularly “put on the new self.” That meant Jesus people were expected and empowered by the Holy Spirit to live like Jesus did. In verse five, Paul said to put to death whatever belonged to the sinful (i.e., old) nature; in verse 8, he said to rid yourself of old attitudinal and behavioral patterns like lying to one another (verse 9); in verse 12 he said as God’s chosen people “to clothe yourselves” with new life patterns such as kindness, humility, and gentleness. He added in verse 13 to bear with one another and forgive whatever grievance you may have against one another.

How do you practice verses 12 and 13 in daily life? Here are five keys: first, recognize your need to obey King Jesus and act like one of His people: second, be gentle and tenderhearted toward the person with whom you are having a conflict; third, acknowledge that your friend is hurting and admit when you have been offensive; fourth, listen carefully to what they say is the cause of the conflict between the two of you; last, ask for forgiveness, and/or give it.

Live communally. Jesus expects us to not let the sun go down on our anger. You and I have to face it and resolve it. He commands us to forgive as He, our Lord, forgave us. Use the keys!

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – September 24

What are the best times each week to hear, read, study, memorize, and meditate on God’s Word – the Bible? Hopefully you hear (and read) the Scriptures taught each week in your Chi Alpha large group meeting, as well as in your small group. I trust you have a regular Bible reading program as part of your quiet time that you follow on a daily and weekly basis. The YouVersion app has a tremendous amount of varied reading plans which can also help you study, memorize, and meditate on the Scriptures. But hearing and reading is not enough to grow deep in God.

I remember a key lesson my dad taught me when I was learning to drive in high school. Besides looking in the rearview mirror and the left side mirror to see if any vehicles were coming from behind me from that side of the car, he said to turn and look over my left shoulder as an extra step of preparation before pulling out to the left and/or changing lanes. The reason why was that there might be another car in my blind spot.

I still to this day, remember his advice when I think about changing lanes. I have avoided being sloppy by just relying on the left side mirror. On a few occasions my additional effort to turn and look over my left shoulder has revealed a car in my blind spot and an accident was averted.

Read Deuteronomy 6:1-9.

Moses commanded the Hebrew people to make a consistent effort to take in the words of God each day. They were to talk about them as well as practice following them in their lives. The commandments of God were to be internalized at home, at work, and in every situation (v 6-7). They were not just to be heard, but talked about and practiced.

I have used the Hand Illustration as a teaching tool when our children were young as well as with college students. The Navigators created the Hand concept to help people know how and why to hear, read, study, memorize, and meditate on God’s Word. All five practices are critical.

Training can help us pursue what is good and avoid what is bad. The Bible is God’s instruction manual for human flourishing in relationships, finances, service, and life. But just owning a copy of it is not enough. It must be heard, read, studied, memorized, meditated on, and obeyed!

Here are a few suggestions for building a Christian reference library to help you implement the Hand idea. First, purchase a New International Version Study Bible, which will complement your digital version (such as available via YouVersion). Second, purchase a one volume New Bible Dictionary and one volume Bible Commentary, both available from InterVarsity Press. Third, add a copy of “How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth” by Fee & Stuart, as well as their companion, “How to Read the Bible Book by Book.” The first one will help you know the ground rules to read, interpret, and study the various genres (i.e., kinds of literature) in Scripture, while the second gives you a brief overview of each of the sixty-six books of the Bible.

Listening to my dad’s driving advice enabled me to steer clear of trouble on the road. Learning and implementing the five fingers of the Hand illustration helps us avoid destruction while pursuing the kind of life God created us to enjoy. By practicing the Hand, you can stay on the right path and look over your shoulder(s) to see your blind spots earlier. Think theologically. You need more than just hearing the Word of God to grow. Use the Hand illustration to strengthen your intake of God’s Word and deepen your roots. Get a better grip on Scripture.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – September 17

What kind of clothes buyer are you? I tend to be an in-and-out shopper at places that I have bought clothes I have enjoyed. For example, I go the Kohl’s for their men’s cargo shorts and get my shopping down quickly. I know what I need. It’s quality for me over style, at least in this case. Now and then my wife suggests I buy a little better quality of shorts, and I recently did.

What clothes do you wear when you really want to look your best?

Read Colossians 3:1-17.

The writer of this letter is the apostle Paul, from prison I might add, and he gives the Colossians quite a recipe for life, character, and action. First, take a look back at chapter 2:16-23 and see how that description contrasts with the beginning of chapter three. First century false teachers had tried to turn Christians from their trust in Jesus to a system of religious philosophy and do’s and don’ts that was worthless when compared to what Christ provided. It was a system of ideas that were man-made rather than of divine origin.

Paul starts out chapter three by describing how we are supposed to grow in our spiritual life. What two things does Paul say should happen since followers of Jesus have been “raised with Christ” in verses 1-4? How is “setting your heart and mind on Christ” connected to what Jesus has already done for us as described by Paul in verse 1?

Verses 1-10 outline the state and standing of the Christian before God. Once a person puts their faith, hope, and trust in King Jesus, His resources are made available to them. Paul states that the believer is dead (v 3), has been raised with Christ (v 1), is “with” Christ, i.e., hidden with Christ, (v 3), has taken off the old self (v 9), and has put on the new self (v 10).

As a result of setting his/her mind and heart on Christ (v 1-2), they are to put to death old practices that belong to their earthly nature (v 5), rid themselves of any behaviors that reflected or characterized their unregenerate self (v 7-9), and become in daily experience what they are now positionally in Christ (v 10-14).

Just as one takes off dirty clothes and puts on new ones on a regular basis, the Christian is called and empowered to turn away from their old ways and now live in accordance with the demands of the Kingdom of Jesus (v 12-14).

Paul is keen to affirm that while the Christian has received the gift of salvation from God by divine grace, the follower of Jesus must put forth every effort to walk with and in the Spirit in order to live a godly, Christ-honoring life.

I know how attached, or comfortable I get, with my day to day clothes. Which aspect of your old nature needs to be replaced with a piece of Christ’s wardrobe? Paul says it’s an ongoing “put off the old self” and “put on the new self” that are daily keys to walking with Christ.

Grow devotionally. Let the Word of God (verse 16) dwell in you richly as fuel for your journey. Whatever you do, do it in the name of Jesus. Be a grateful person. Allow your small group to help with your clothing selections. Those are good and wise clothing decisions!

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

 

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Monday Motivator – September 10

Did Jesus really walk on the water or did he use nearby sandbars where people “thought they saw something mystical” take place? Did Jesus actually multiply bread and fish to feed 5,000 men, women, and children, or did he merely hypnotize them into thinking He did?

I’ve heard those questions from skeptical and cynical college students and professors for decades. They start from the premise that miracles are not possible, therefore it had to be magic or mass hallucination that enabled Jesus to do what has been attributed to Him. When I asked the same students and professors why they argued that the supernatural was possible in some areas “like UFO’s or horror movies,” they meekly responded that it just was.

From many conversations I have had, it seems a lot of people cannot set aside their personal beliefs to examine the Biblical record of miracles done by Jesus with an open mind. If so, they can come to a conclusion that Jesus could not have tricked people into believing they had witnessed a miracle.

One of my favorite stories of such a turn-around came from lawyer Frank Morison. He is best known for writing the book, “Who Moved the Stone?” It was first published in 1930 in England and has been translated into several languages. The book analyses his review of biblical texts about the events related to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

The strangeness of the Resurrection story had captured Morison’s attention, and, influenced by skeptic thinkers at the turn of the century, he set out to prove that the story of Christ’s Resurrection was only a myth. His research and reading of the resurrection accounts of Jesus led him to discover the validity of the biblical record in a moving, personal way. It is a well-researched book that is as fascinating in its appeal to reason as it is accurate to the truthfulness of the Resurrection.

Read John 10:22-42.

Many who actually saw Jesus’ miracles in real time refused to believe that He was the Anointed One – God on two human legs. They were ready to execute Him for claiming to be God (John 10:30-31). Jesus responded by saying, “If I do not do the works of my Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the miracles, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him” (v 37-38).

The miracles of Jesus authenticated Him as the Son of God, the Savior who had come to give His life for the sins of men and women. His works and resurrection were not tricks or illusions, but miracles of grace, truth, and love.

In the 1987 version of “Who Moved the Stone?” author Lee Strobel wrote, “I owe Morison a great debt of gratitude. His book was an important early link in a long chain of evidence that God used to bring me into his kingdom. Morison’s stirring intellectual exploration of the historical record proved to be an excellent starting point for my spiritual investigation.”

Serve globally. Believe in God and you can believe in miracles. Believe in His Son and you’ll experience one. Like Strobel and Morison, you can pass on your story as further evidence.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – September 3

The apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:15-16, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.”

What does it mean to walk wisely? How do you walk carefully, so your conduct is an outgrowth of your identification with Christ and His church? Paul says the Christian’s lifestyle is to be one that is given careful consideration. It ought to be the outgrowth of thought, purpose, deliberate, and disciplined action. Living a life that’s committed to Christ calls for following His wisdom.

Read 2 Timothy.

A recent study of this letter from Paul to Timothy uncovered 22 ideas of what it means to walk wisely. How would you rank your “wise walking” from 1 (low) to 5 (high) on each statement? How could you raise your wise-walking 1% in the next 30-60-90 days?

  1. Fan into flame the gift of God which is in you (chapter 1:6).
  2. Do not be ashamed of testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me, his prisoner (1:8).
  3. Join with me in suffering for the gospel…. (1:8).
  4. What you have heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus (1:13).
  5. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you (1:14).
  6. Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus (chapter 2:1).
  7. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust (what you have learned) to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others (2:2).
  8. Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus (2:3).
  9. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this (2:7).
  10. Remember Jesus, raised from the dead…is the reason we endure sufferings (2:8-10).
  11. Keep reminding each other of these things (2:14).
  12. Warn others about the danger of quarreling over words (2:14).
  13. Do your best to present yourself before God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth (2:15).
  14. Avoid godless chatter – those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly (2:16).
  15. Flee the evil desires of youth (2:22).
  16. Pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord with a pure heart (2:22).
  17. Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels (2:23).
  18. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful (2:24).
  19. Have nothing to do with godless people… (chapter 3:2-5).
  20. Continue in what you have learned and become convinced of… (3:14-15).
  21. Preach the Word [be ready in any situation to speak what is needed], with great patience and careful instruction (chapter 4:1-2).
  22. Keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry (4:5).

Walk wisely. Walking in wisdom requires that we continually practice a few basics: Know God, trust Him, listen to Him, and obey Him. Is this your pattern for living? Remember, a lifetime of careful and wise walking develops daily, one choice at a time.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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