Monday Motivator – November 18

I have marveled at the insertion of 1st Chronicles in the Old Testament. It is a fascinating journey into how God worked in the lives of His people. Topics such as patriarchs, captivity, Jerusalem, Saul, anointing, reign, ark, victory, covenant, and worship are covered through stories.

I noticed several themes that the author presents for our consideration. The first is the genealogy of David, which later points to Jesus (1:1-9:44 and Matthew 1:1); The second is that God gives us chances to influence others for their good (11:2); The third is that good intentions do not justify disobeying God’s laws (13:1-14); The fourth is we will face conflicts, and in spite of them, we need to make opportunities to worship and praise God (29:10-13); and the fifth is God has a plan and destiny for everyone (29:1-30).

Old Testament scholars ascribe the authorship of this book to Ezra, and 1st and 2nd Chronicles were originally one book. The title basically means, “the words of the day.” What is interesting about Chronicles is that it gives us an overview of Old Testament history from the creation of Adam to the Israelites heading into the Babylonian captivity. A brief outline looks like this:

  1. The storyline (or genealogy) from Adam to David (1:1-9:44).
  2. David is anointed the second King of Israel (10:1-12:40).
  3. David’s reign as King over Israel (13:1-29:22).
  4. David’s son, Solomon, replaces him as King (29:22-30).

Read 1st Chronicles 1:1-4, 28, 34, 2:1-2, and 9:1-2.

The list of names in the first nine chapters of the book can be a bit rigorous to read through. It is a long list of hard to pronounce names. Yet the names serve two vital and practical purposes.

First, genealogical lists were crucial to providing a framework through which the Hebrews could establish their family roots, legal inheritance, and through which religious purity could be practiced and guarded against outside sources seeking to weaken and impugn their identity.

The second purpose of the list of names was to categorize and reflect the providence of God’s design. The Israelites could remember that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph served as reminders of God’s dealings with them in the past and the hope He provided for their future, which included the Messiah.

While we often struggle in reading the names in the genealogical lists, the Hebrews read and remembered stories of God’s grace, love, mercy, care, discipline, and patience that were attached to those names. The stories gave evidence of God’s presence, power, and provision, and were markers of “Immanuel – God with us” and His faithfulness to His promises and His people.

As you consider your own family heritage, think of how it can be a positive foundation for generations to come. Identify markers in your family life that will illustrate God’s providence and purposes. How can knowing your family history give you a sense of identity, heritage, destiny, and hope? How do you want to be remembered?

Grow devotionally. Godly character is the heritage you hope to leave behind.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2019 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – November 11

I have served in college ministry since 1982. I believe reaching college students with the Person and message of Jesus is a critical endeavor worthy of the Church’s best efforts. Why? Jesus said to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). What better place to fulfill His Great Commission than the modern college and university campus? Here are three stories that will inform and inspire you to recognize the need and value of reaching tomorrow’s leaders today.

One. Charles Parham gave his students at Bethel Bible School in Topeka, Kansas, an assignment just after Christmas in 1900. They were to search the Scriptures and determine if there was any way a person could know whether or not they had been baptized in the Holy Spirit. Just after midnight on January 1st, 1901, a college student named Agnes Ozman asked Parham to lay hands on her and pray that she would be filled with the Holy Spirit, and that she would speak in tongues as a result. He did and she did. That event launched the great Pentecostal revival of the early part of the 20thcentury that has swept the world in the last 100+ years. Today, a majority of people coming to faith in Christ are doing so in the context of a Spirit-filled Church.

Two. In 1951, businessman Bill Bright began  ministering to college students at UCLA. That began a movement known as Campus Crusade for Christ that has expanded far beyond the campus and been a powerful global mission effort. For example: They created and have shown a movie representation of the Gospel of Luke (i.e., called The JESUS Movie), to over 5 billion people in over 200 nations. Many believe it has been shown in every nation because of their global vision, teamwork, strategic planning, effective fund-raising, and the blessing of God.

Three. Our nation was founded in 1776. In the 1790’s, a poll conducted at Harvard, a college founded to train ministers, revealed not one believer in its student body. A similar poll at Princeton showed only two Christians. When the dean of the college opened the Chapel Bible one day, a pack of playing cards fell out, because students had cut out a hiding place for the cards. It was said that Christians were so few on the average campus that they met in secret because they were so intimidated. They even kept their minutes in code so no one could decipher their language and find out about their clandestine fellowship.

Around the same time, five non-Christian students began to meet for prayer at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia. They were so disgusted with the level of immorality around them that they held a secret prayer meeting to ask for God’s help. Other students found out about it and tried to break down the door! The college president heard the noise and came to see what the problem was. The students told him and these were his words, “You don’t mind cheating, stealing from one another’s room, lying, and the profanity you express on campus. But you object to a prayer meeting. Well, I do not!”

He then knocked on the door and said authoritatively, “This is the president of the college. Will you please come out?” The students unlocked the door and came out not knowing what to expect. President Smith said, “Gentlemen, come to my study and we will pray there together.”

That action sparked a revival on campus that resulted in half of the student body converting to follow Jesus and more importantly, was the beginning of the Second Great Awakening.

Serve globally. What can happen on a campus and beyond when Jesus gets a hold of a student, a college president, or a business leader? Local transformation leads to global impact.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2019 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – November 4

If you could have been born in another time and place, where might it be?

I appreciate history (Moses and the Hebrews leaving Egypt, David and Goliath), the story of St. Patrick, How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill, the birth of America, John Wesley, the Student Volunteer Movement, Lewis and Clark, the building of the transcontinental railroad in America, the Great Depressions stories of boxer Jim Braddock and the racehorse, Seabiscuit, the Wright Brothers, World War 2 stories about men like Louis Zamperini (who survived being a prisoner of war) and Norman Jack “Dusty” Kleiss, a decorated Navy dive-bomber. What about the era of civil rights in America in the 1950’s and 1960’s?

Have you ever found yourself thinking, “Wouldn’t it be great to have lived in the time of Jesus and the launch of the first century church?” Could you imagine being around and hearing about the salvation of Saul of Tarsus, who changed to his Roman name of Paul, after being transformed by meeting, accepting, and surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus? Paul was a persecutor of the church of Jesus, then became a preacher and missionary of the church of Jesus. All because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, and the sending and receiving of the Holy Spirit. Saul met Jesus and Saul had a personal transformation.

Can you imagine being there to see that story unfold? Could you handle the excitement of it?

Read 1 Timothy 1:8-9.

It would be exciting but sad and demoralizing, too. It started with the disciples deserting Jesus, him being arrested, tortured, and crucified. If you or I were there, we would have probably left Jesus too, knowing how feeble and fickle we are. As Jesus healed a sick person, would we have reacted like a Pharisee and say that was wrong, or would we rejoice in grateful appreciation for God’s power being released among the poor and hurting?

As Jesus lugged his wooden cross on bruised and bloody shoulders down a dusty road to the hill called Golgotha, awaiting his own death, what would we be doing? Shouting curses at him or weeping as a broken and confused disciple?

As Jesus’ cross is being raised amidst two deserving thieves, would we cast lots for his clothing, or fall down in grief due to a terrible injustice? After Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, would we be among the 120 gathered in an upper room, believing Him to be who He said He was? Or would we find ourselves among the many who followed Him for a while, but ultimately found the cost of the discipleship He presented too tough for us?

As we met Jesus after His resurrection, would we have been like Saul – antagonistic at first, arrogant in our thinking, aggressive in our worldview, comfortable in our own skin, low living, and self-preoccupied lifestyle? Or would we have been like Paul, saved by a dramatic encounter with Jesus? Paul later wrote to the Ephesian Christians (1:4) that by God’s grace, He chose him to be His child. Paul wrote in all of his New Testament letters that his salvation (and ours) is not about what we’ve done. It is just an undeniable and understandable response to gracious love.

Walk wisely. Salvation is all gift and grace.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2019 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – October 28

How do you deal with the constant temptation of pornography? Pornography is a very present danger today for men and women. No longer a hidden type of activity available in brown-covered covered magazines and darkened venues, it is more mainstream due to the advances of technology and a coarsening culture. The sexual ethic of feeding unrestrained desires is all around us due to billboards, music, radio, and social media. TV shows and movies portray elicit relationships and sexual liaisons as normal behavior.

Modern culture appears remarkably close to ancient and first century settings. Greeks and Romans considered sexual immorality as normal behavior, even among adults and children. Adultery was common and chastity was seen as unnecessary. Early first century followers of Jesus found themselves immersed in a very lewd and lascivious setting.

The temptations then were real and alluring. But the immoral attractions of a sexually expressive lifestyle outside of marriage were addressed by the apostle Paul. He held up the clear standard of Christ-like holiness as the standard for disciples of King Jesus. Virginity was to be applauded, faithfulness in marriage between a man and woman was to be honored, and adherence to the God-given boundaries of walking in the Spirit and not yielding to the desires of the flesh lived out, all with the spiritual empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8.

Paul did not give any flexibility to believers in the area of sexual desire. Sexual purity is a discipline for men and women to be learned (see verse 4). Sexual sins like adultery, sex outside of marriage, and personal sexual satisfaction harmed individuals, spouses, friends, and family, and brought not only bad consequences, but punishment as well (see v 6). The writer of Proverbs adds that rejecting God’s standards is unwise, shows the person is a fool, and worse, means the person is saying no to God’s authority, and is a slap to His face. Paul wrote in verse 7 that followers of Jesus are called to be holy, something the Holy Spirit helps us with (see Romans 8).

What does 1 Thessalonians 4:3 tells us about God’s will for our sexuality? Does He know what He is talking about? As our Creator, does He know something about us that we might miss? We are not alone in facing temptation, regardless of its type, but especially sexual temptation. The Holy Spirit, who lives within a Christian, calls and equips us to turn away from, turn the page on, and change the channel from the enticements that can captivate our eyes and minds and lead us toward harmful behavior. Remember the adage, “garbage in, and garbage out.”

Paul wrote in verse 4 that we can learn to control our own bodies in a way that is holy and honorable, not like those around us who are giving into sexual lust, or in the way we may have lived before we met Jesus. God has provided the resources for us to live a clean and Spirit empowered life that honors Him. One resource is Himself, (see verses 7-8), the second is Scripture, third are examples like Joseph in Genesis 39, and last, are brothers and sisters in Christ we know who can aid us in living well.

How can you read and follow God’s instruction in passages such as 1 Thessalonians 4, intentionally listen to the Holy Spirit, and live like God intended you to? Do not forget other passages such as 1 Corinthians 10:13, that reminds us of God’s power and His promise to His people.

The rewards of purity are healthy and whole men and women, great and strong marriages, mutually supportive relationships, the discipline of delayed gratification, and the pleasure of enjoying God’s favor and blessing. The secret to combatting temptation is to listen and look for the promptings of the Holy Spirit, realize there is a way out, remember the rewards, and know that God is pleased when His children do well by living in His Light.

Live communally. Live God’s way, use His resources, lean on your friends for help, and realize that purity is an offering of worship to God. Walking in purity is possible in God’s Kingdom.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2019 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – October 21

I believe God has given each of us whatever we need to grow up into maturity in order to flourish. Often the challenge is to discern and determine what tends to get in the way.

I heard a quote once, but cannot remember where. The statement was, “Every once in a while you do something good. In that moment you catch a glimpse of the person you were made to be.”

How would you describe the kind of person you want to be five, ten, twenty years from now? What kind of life would you like to live? Can you share an experience from childhood when you felt inspired and encouraged as you discovered who you were?

I remember being asked to speak as a senior high school student athlete to a middle school awards banquet. While I was nervous at not having spoken in public much before (besides in classes), I prepared and delivered a short talk aimed at challenging the young men and women in the audience to be and do their best. It was received well and I was affirmed by parents, teachers, coaches, and a few athletes. It was an illuminating moment when I discovered I enjoyed adding value to others.

As you look back on your life, what moments or activities have you participated in where you felt “alive?” What was it about the experience(s) that caused you to feel you were at your best? Try answering this statement: I am really alive when…

By contrast, think about those moments or activities where you do not feel you are in your sweet spot. What was it that pulled you away from being your “best” in the moment? Try answering this statement: I am less alive when…

Read Galatians 5:16-26.

Paul, the first century witness of Jesus’ resurrection and apostle (messenger) to the followers of the One True God, wrote this letter to the church in Galatia.

He contrasts behaviors, actions, and activities that contribute to and cause people to feel “more” or “less” alive. On your journey to becoming the best version of you, there are choices you will to make. Paul says there are two lists to acknowledge. The first list describes the sinful nature. The second list describes the fruit of the Spirit of God. Print out the passage and circle the words from the first list that you tend to struggle with. Then circle the words in the second list that comes more naturally to you, or is more prevalent right now.

When or where have you experienced one of these “more alive” or “less alive” characteristics in your life?

Galatians 5:22-23 describes qualities and characteristics that should define us as growing followers of King Jesus. Did your parents every mention the GIGO principle? Garbage in, garbage out. Another statement I made to my kids was, “What you feed, grows.

Spend some time over the next few days reflecting on the words you circled. Pray and ask God to help you in your commitment to grow and be a better version of yourself.

Think theologically. God has given you what it takes to grow. Find out what gets in the way and stop it from being an obstacle to you. Live by the Spirit of God and be fruitful.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2019 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – October 14

One of the highlights of the fall semester for Chi Alpha chapters is the annual Fall Retreat. Each state offers a statewide retreat either in the fall or the spring for all of the other Chi Alpha chapters for a weekend. Typically, these events take place at a campground suited for wonderful fun activities, community-building, good food, Bible teaching, and worship.

Every year I hear reports of students who decide to put their faith, hope and trust in King Jesus on a Chi Alpha retreat. It is always so encouraging to know that the Lord is working in the lives of college students. They leave campus for a weekend and put themselves into a posture to be able to hear Him and respond. Those who attend and do not yet know the Lord, have divine encounters that transform their lives. We believe the Lord not only wants to make disciples in and through our Chi Alpha groups, but He wants followers of His to catch the vision of disciples who make disciples who make disciples!

Read 2 Corinthians 5:16-21.

I was talking to a student named Jon who recently converted from no faith to faith in Jesus. He told me he was not what you would call outgoing or extroverted. He said he really was a quiet, introverted guy who was now on a spiritual journey, or an adventure that he was thrilled about.

As part of getting anchored in his new faith in God, he was doing a “new believer’s study” given to him by a fellow student on a recent Chi Alpha retreat. One day he was reading through 2 Corinthians and came across chapter 5, verses 15-20. Verse 17 grabbed his attention, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.”

For the first time Jon realized what that verse meant. Then he said he was impressed (or inspired), or challenged by God to demonstrate that verse about his new-born life to friends on campus. He answered God’s whisper and tried to become what a new creation should be – in his relationship with his dorm mate, how it affected his classwork, even his part-time job at the campus library. He paid attention to what his roommate was interested in, began smiling more in and around the dorm and in classes, and strove to honor the Lord with a better work effort on homework and at work study in the library. Jon was beginning to understand how to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in presenting the fact that he was a new creation.

All of us are wired uniquely and have different personalities. Whether or not you are a follower of Jesus, who you are is who you are.

But when we accept His Lordship and He becomes our Savior, everything begins to change. We used to hate God and love sin. Now we love God and hate sin. Our personality and actions should begin reflecting Jesus. We should become more loving, caring, and interested in others, and less pre-occupied with ourselves. Becoming more like Jesus happens at a different rate for each person. But you can be sure God will keep working on you as His new creation (see Philippians 1:6), with Chi Alpha friends helping, and along for the journey.

How does God want you to change as His new creation? Do not allow the sins you may still struggle with (even though Jesus is still Lord of your life), to discourage you. How can you depend on God (and Chi Alpha pals) for help to walk out and feed your new-found faith?

Grow devotionally. Becoming a new creation comes with salvation. Growing to maturity is the next part of the process. God wants you and I to pass on His message of reconciliation.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2019 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – October 7

I believe reaching college students with the Person and message of Jesus is a critical endeavor worthy of the Church’s best efforts. Why? Jesus said to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). What better place to fulfill His Great Commission than the modern college and university campus? Here is another story that will inform and inspire you to recognize the need and value of reaching tomorrow’s leaders today.

Robert Wilder was pursuing graduate theological work in seminary.  He continued traveling and speaking in churches and nearby colleges and was successful in helping another 600 students decide to become foreign missionaries.  In July, 1888, fifty volunteers met again at Mt. Hermon in Northfield, MA. They recognized that more organization was needed if they were not to lose the benefits of the student movement that had begun. They noticed the tendency to lose their unity, and a decline in passion and focus.

The result was the formation of an executive committee of students from several cooperating movements. John. R. Mott, was chosen to represent the YMCA, Miss Nettie Moon the YWCA, and Robert Wilder the Inter-Seminary Missionary Alliance. Mott was asked to serve as the chairman. Their slogan, “the evangelization of the world in this generation,” became the watchword of the Student Volunteer Movement (SVM).

Read Matthew 28:18-20 and 2 Corinthians 5:18-20.

John R. Mott said later, “I can truthfully say that next to the decision to take Christ as the Leader and Lord of my life, the watchword has had more influence than all other ideals and objectives combined to widen my horizon and enlarge my conception of the Kingdom of God.”

The growth of the SVM in the next three decades was extraordinary. The majority of students to whom it was meaningful understood the responsibility of each generation to make the gospel known to all mankind in their generation. No one else can carry the eternal gospel message to a particular generation. Its own members alone can do it. The watchword then, became a call to obligation. The result was over 20,000 students leaving for foreign fields.

The SVM was a model of missions, but ceased to exist in 1969. The greatest student missionary movement in the history of the church was quietly laid to rest eighty-three years after the Spirit of God had moved so powerfully upon students at Mt. Hermon in 1886.

No human movement is perfect, and can be expected to endure forever. But the great heritage of the Student Volunteer Movement can still speak to students today. The foundational principles to keep in mind are: (1) emphasis on personal commitment to Jesus on a lifelong basis; (2) acceptance of the authority of the Word of God and emphasis on personal Bible study; (3) sense of responsibility to give the gospel of Jesus to the entire world in our generation; (4) reliance on the Holy Spirit; and (5) emphasis on student initiative and leadership to carry out these objectives.

Serve globally. Mott, Moon, and Wilder were college students at one time. What can happen on a campus and beyond when Jesus gets a hold of a student? Local transformation leads to global impact. All modern American mission work can be traced back to five college students, led by a student named Samuel J. Mills, who took shelter in a haystack and believed, “we can do it if we will” in 1806. Will you join us in praying for, mobilizing, and contributing to another student volunteer movement today?

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2019 by Mike Olejarz

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