Monday Motivator – January 13

My pastor is a skilled communicator. One area that he addresses regularly is the connection between faith and money. He says he does so because Jesus spoke about money so much (as do the Old and New Testament writers).

My pastor says money can be a pain some times because it reveals so much about our heart. Money can contribute to us being angry, stingy, sad, uncomfortable, nervous, worried, too comfortable, and even happy.

Men and women are all over the place when it comes to finances, money, stewardship, and cash. But it is apparent that it is often a heart issue. I know I get agitated when I read of an athlete or entertainer who had millions and squandered it on impulse-driven activities, poor management, or even selfish pursuits. Wasteful, even.

Yet how many of rejoice when a birthday card comes and a relative stuck a $20 bill inside? Or a friend surprises us by taking us out for a meal? Or someone covers a debt of ours?

A college student stopped by to see my neighbor recently in the fanciest car I had ever seen. This fellow is a junior at the University of Virginia and had been hosted by my neighbor as a foreign exchange student for a few years while in high school. I thought that selling that car could cover my missionary budget for the next 4 years.

Does it make you sad, or even angry when a friend has enough money to purchase stuff, or do things that you would like to, but you cannot afford to?

Money does have the ability at times to appear to be in control (too much at times), of our lives. Are we guilty of hoarding our financial resources? Are we practicing basic financial stewardship of tithing on our income, making a faith promise to missions, saving for the future, giving offerings as requested, and living within our means?

Do you allow money to dictate your emotional steadiness? Do you put more effort into acquiring money than building mutually-beneficial relationships? Do you believe it is better to give than receive? Are you more concerned about what you don’t have, as opposed to how your standard of living is guiding you, and how others-centered your stewardship actually is?

Read Acts 20:32-35.

Why do you believe it is better to give than receive?

The New Testament writers present the idea that we need a proper appreciation of money in order to handle it wisely and generously. They teach that using money for others will benefit them more than merely using it on ourselves. It shifts our focus to help those who don’t have enough instead of coveting what others have. It reminds us to loosen the grip money can have on us when we give it away. It can prompt us to remember that merely accumulating wealth cannot, and is not, the key to happiness. Jesus says being blessed results from giving it away.

What are some ways you can change your money habits so you can provide more for others? What have you done recently that suggests you believe it is better to give than receive?

Walk wisely. If you are looking for monetary freedom, use your financial resources wisely and be a generous giver. Giving away money is the route to stewardship and happiness.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2020 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – January 6

Who has shown you unexpected compassion? How did that make you feel?

I enjoy hearing people’s stories when they describe how the kindness of others makes such a difference.

I read a story about a family whose mother was battling cancer. The family’s doctor had tried several treatments, hoping to make the woman’s life more bearable. But she rarely responded to treatment in the expected ways, and sadly, she passed away.

Another family traveled in and out of state to find solutions to a life-threatening illness for John, the dad. They were out of state, waiting in a hospital room when their neighbors, Jim and Susie showed up. They had driven all night to be with them the next day.

Later that day, Jerry and Brad, two men John had met at a men’s prayer breakfast, showed up. The two men were Christians and drove out of state to support John and his family. They hoped to pray for John’s healing as he awaited another possible surgery. John had attended two men’s prayer breakfast’s in the previous few months and was shocked to see Jerry and Brad walk into his room. John was not much of a spiritual person yet and while he enjoyed the breakfast conversations, he had yet to accept the divinity of Jesus. He had an interest in believing in God, and was grateful for his new-found friends being there.

As they waited, John’s daughter Terri confronted Jerry and Brad about their faith. She said, “I have a problem with your Christianity, because I am not convinced you are sincere. The people I know who claim to know God have not convinced me they walk what they talk.”

Before Jerry or Brad could respond, John interrupted his daughter saying, “Listen honey, you need to reconsider your values. I only met these guys a few weeks ago. The fact that they drove 12 hours out of state just to be with us is Christianity in action.”

It was a couple of simple acts of kindness. Two neighbors and two men were willing to drive long hours and that spoke volumes to John and his wife. It was a real encouragement to a man who had recently been investigating faith in God and what that might mean to him at a troubling time of his life.

Reads Mark 1:40-45.

As followers of Jesus, we have been shown compassion by Jesus, and we have responsibility to show compassion to others, again, just like Jesus did. It is an example that Jesus gave us as “he went around doing good” (Acts 10:38). When the man with leprosy approached Jesus, He was filled with compassion and healed him (Mark 1:41). Additionally, Jesus restored sight to the blind, fed the hungry, healed the sick, and extended forgiveness to many. He did not merely feel sorry for people – he acted.

For some of us, compassion must be more than a feeling of pity. It must be more than saying, “I’ll pray for you,” then never really do it. It must be more than appearances of piety, but demonstrations of service, care, and giving. It is the combination of words and deeds.

Live communally. Real and true compassion is bound together with love and it should move us to action. Love needs to be an action verb, if it is Jesus-style love. To whom can you show the love and compassion of God this week?

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2020 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – December 30

What are you passionate about?

I have found that the Bible has informed and fueled my passion for others. Over the years I have read, memorized, and worked to live according to the instructions and modeling of Jesus and His apostles. Consider the following verses from the New International Version (NIV).

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 

“We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.” Colossians 1:28-29

“As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.” 1 Thessalonians 2:6b-8.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 

All four verse segments were written by the apostle Paul. Part of the backdrop to his words in 2 Corinthians chapter 5 come from his passion for the eternal welfare of the Corinthian followers of Jesus. In chapter five, Paul gave three ideas that motivated him to be concerned for them.

Read 2 Corinthians 5:9-21.

First, Paul said in verses 9-10 that he felt responsible to Jesus for his service. Paul knew he would have to give an account at the Judgment Seat of Christ for how he actually lived. Second, Paul described in verses 11-14 why he was motivated by the love of God to help others experience that same Love. Third, Paul said in verses 14-21 that he was convinced that everyone in a lost and dying world needed a Savior, and Paul knew that Savior. Hence, Paul was eager and determined to not keep his faith to himself. He said “the love of Christ compels him,” (verse 14).

The words in verse 20 form the basis for the origin of Chi Alpha Campus Ministries. Our name means, “Christ’s ambassadors.” We are supposed to come, see, go, and tell.

What are you passionate about? The apostle Paul was passionate for people – those inside and outside of the Church. Paul’s love was fueled by the love of Christ, and, we should follow their example. May you talk to others about Jesus as a reliable witness of what you have experienced.

Think theologically. Do not keep your faith. Share the love of Christ with someone today.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2019 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – December 23

How accustomed are you to modern conveniences?

I saw a TV show about a large water park that had a bubbling mud pool for relaxation and fun. As part of a group being led through the facility, they encountered a space that had no bubbles. One of the children asked why there was no activity at the time. He wondered if the reason why there were no bubbles were due to a lack of electricity? I thought later that natural phenomena may be a foreign concept to this child because of his access to and dependence on battery power. Do we not make the same mistake as adults at times?

We often believe we can figure everything out and solve life’s riddles, challenges, and difficulties on our own power. We have to, since no one can tell us what we can and can’t do, right? After all, what right does anyone else have to tell us what we might not know? Let’s face it, we are living in a time of great health, financial strength, opportunity, access to incredible information, and never-before-seen prosperity. Who are we to need anything?

Yet despite all the care, provision, and affluence that we are born into and experience, human beings still struggle daily with acceptance, a lack of significance, clear direction, hope for the present and future, and power to live lives that reflect meaning and purpose.

The high moral and ethical standards of a holy God add stress to our lives because they are impossible to live up to. Which is why many of us struggle with the lower standards our schools, communities, and culture say are okay. We seem to miss out both ways: we feel guilty before God for not making more of ourselves than we know we should, and we feel crummy for acquiescing to lower expectations. The result is joylessness. We live as Christians, hopelessly burdened, defeated, and hopeless.

Read Ephesians 1:15-23.

Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian Christians in the first century (and for us today) was that, “the eyes of your understanding be enlightened in order that you know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe” (verses 18-19).

Paul wanted them to see that the power available to help them live God-honoring lives is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at the right hand of God in heaven (verse 20).

Paul was grateful for the Ephesian believers whose lives were blessed by the Lord (verses 1-14). They were saints and faithful ones (verse 1). But Paul’s list of spiritual blessings in the following thirteen verses caused him to pray more fervently for his friends to see who they were in Christ.

The power to live according to God’s standards comes only when we plug into Him and His resources – which is His inexhaustible power. How do we do that? By seeking Him daily, asking Him to fill us with His Spirit, and trusting that He will provide the strength to live like Him.

Grow devotionally. The Light of the World knows no power failure. Stay plugged in.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2019 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – December 16

Each of us has a mother. Am I right that each of us yearns to make her proud?

Mother’s Day is one of the biggest days of flower buying, card mailing, and phone calling each year. It is a day we all can relate to since we all have a mother. Regardless of whether our relationship with our mom is good or bad at the moment, whether we live close or far apart, whether she is alive or passed on, thoughts of our mom brings up many emotions.

Have you ever considered how Jesus thought of His mom? Have you wondered what sort of relationship He had with her? I am sure He was a considerate and loving Son. Yet Scripture indicates on at least one occasion His mother was sort of annoyed with Him.

Read John 2:1-10.

In John 2, Mary and Jesus are guests at a wedding. The host runs out of wine at one point in the celebration and Mary alerts Jesus to the problem. He responds, “Dear woman, why do you involve me? My time has not yet come” (verse 4). Despite his hesitancy to act, Mary advises the servants to do whatever He tells them to do.

Mary knew her Son better than anyone else. She remembered the angelic visit announcing his birth to come. She thought back to leaving with Joseph in response to a dream he had and how they found safety outside of Bethlehem. She was privately amazed at Jesus’ birth that was attended by shepherds, livestock, wise men, and angels. She knew something about Jesus.

She had watched him grow from a baby into a sought-after speaker, truth-teller, and care-giver. She was sure He could do something to save the wedding and keep the guests happy. John does not inform us that Mary knew Jesus could or would do a miracle. Verse eleven says that Jesus’ ultimately acted to turn water into wine, which was “the first of His miraculous signs.”

Mary had confidence that Jesus knew what to do. She had witnessed Jesus grow up into a man that others could count on. Jesus would continue to prove His mother right time after time, all the way to His last breath on a cross. His dying breath provided the salvation for all of mankind.

What thoughts come mind when you think of your mother? How are you honoring her while you are a college student? How are you handling your calling as a follower of Jesus? How are you representing your family name? How are you handling your academic responsibilities? How are you handling your time and finances? How are you being sexually pure? How are you treating others? How are you growing in being trustworthy? How are you honoring your mother today?

As we head toward Christmas, let’s think about the kind of “child” you’ve been. What sort of man or woman are you today? Can your mother, father, family, and friends count on you? Do you come through for them they ask for your help? God is not asking you to save the world, but to be responsible and trustworthy. He wants you to take care of those you love and to be a Good Samaritan when you have opportunity.

Serve globally. Mothers are a great gift to each of us. They represent a miracle of God’s love. How you live is your gift to your mom, and Jesus, who died to give you a chance at real life.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2019 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – December 9

When someone asks me how I am doing, I often reply, “I am grateful.” If you imitated my example and someone followed up by asking what you are grateful for, how would you respond?

I saw a PBS special on Handel’s Messiah that was very inspirational.

I learned that composer George Frideric Handel was bankrupt in 1741 when some local charities proposed a commission if he would create and compose a musical work. The general proceeds from their envisioned community benefit event would go towards freeing men from prison. Handel agreed to their terms and started to work on it.

In a remarkable and tireless effort, Handel composed the well-known masterpiece “Messiah,” with the famous “Hallelujah Chorus,” in just 24 days.

During those three and half weeks, Handel never left his home and often went without eating. At one point, his servant found him weeping over the musical score. Describing his experience, Handel said, “Whether I was in my body or not, God knows.” He later added, “I did think I did see all heaven before me and the great God Himself.” Handel was grateful for who God is.

Read Isaiah 9:1-7.

Consider some of the key words and phrases of the passage – great light, a light has dawned, for to us a child is born, a son is given, he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, He will reign forever.

Jesus and His great salvation would be a light for the Gentiles (9:2, 42:6, 49:6); the son would be a royal son from the line of David (9:7). Each of the four throne names of the Messiah have glorious implications: Wonderful Counselor points to the Messiah as King; Mighty God reflects His power as a warrior; Everlasting Father means He is an enduring, compassionate provider and protector; Prince of Peace means His rule will bring wholeness and well-being to those under His rule and care. King Jesus will rule in righteousness forever and will not leave His people.

The Hallelujah Chorus stirs my mind, body, and soul each and every time I hear it. I hope that it does more than merely give us goosebumps, and that the magnificent music leads us to a clearer vision and reality of the great God Himself.

Will you open your mind and heart to recognize who Jesus Christ really is? Will you confess He is the Messiah that Isaiah prophesied about? Will you humble yourself and admit He promised He would come and He did fulfill His Word, as Isaiah described in 9:1-7? Will you bow your life and live for His glory, honor, praise, and adoration?

He has come to us in the Person of Jesus Christ to be our Savior, Redeemer, Provider, and Lord.

“For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulders; of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end” (v 6-7). Hallelujah!

Walk wisely. God’s highest gift should awaken our greatest awe and deepest gratitude.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2019 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – December 2

Dr. Charles Malik was a Lebanese academic, diplomat, philosopher, theologian, and follower of Jesus Christ. He served as the President of the United Nations General Assembly in 1958. I have listed three of his quotes that inspired me to serve in the academy as a campus missionary.

“The greatest thing about any civilization is the human person, and the greatest thing about this person is the possibility of his encounter with the person of Jesus Christ.”

“The university is a clear-cut fulcrum with which to move the world. The problem here is for the church to realize that no greater service can it render itself and the cause of the gospel, with which it is entrusted, than to try and recapture the universities for Christ. More potently than by any other means, change the university and you change the world.”

“Once a Christian discovers that Jesus Christ will find Himself less at home on the campuses of the great universities, in Europe and in America, than almost anywhere else, he will be profoundly disturbed, and he will inquire what can be done.”

Read Luke 11:1-4.

Jesus said to pray for His Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven. Here are ten reasons to pray for a movement of college students to be motivated and activated to pray and work for a spiritual awakening on campuses everywhere.

One. Much of the joy and fun in the Christian life is found in banding together to pray and work for a common cause…making the name of Jesus more famous in the world.

Two. Regular concerted prayer is the non-negotiable part of laying the foundation for a massive  moving of God’s Spirit which could bring thousands (millions?) to faith in Christ on campus.

Three. Prayer concentrates your thoughts about God and His ability to meet your needs.

Four. Helping launch such a movement teaches leadership skills for other activities.

Five. Such a movement of prayer can touch the whole world from your campus.

Six. In the process of building such a movement, many Christian students will “get off the fence” for Christ and many students outside of faith will encounter Jesus and find new life in Him.

Seven. Such a movement is a unified force which God can use to fulfill His purposes.

Eight. Prayer movements are a way to fulfill Colossians 4:2, “Devote yourselves to prayer.”

Nine. Movements of prayer will help send many more laborers into Christ’s harvest field.

Ten. Similar movements have been used by God throughout history to turn nations to God.

Live communally. Team up with others and the Holy Spirit to pray for God’s Kingdom to come.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2019 by Mike Olejarz

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