Monthly Archives: April 2010

Monday Motivator – April 26

Two students named Andy and Pete stumbled upon a last minute opportunity to work on a fishing boat in the South. They had graduated and were interviewing for jobs in Miami when they met a guy in a restaurant who said he needed to downsize his business to pay for his daughter’s health treatment. Pete and Andy felt an “adventure” was in the making, so took the man up on his offer, and were soon in the charter fishing business.

They combined their resources to upgrade the boat, pay all the license fees, and started advertising their new business. They had been at it a few months and were just starting to make some big money to pay off their initial investment when a man walked up one day at the dock. As they were washing the boat, the man looked the rig up and down, and then complimented them on their work ethic. He introduced himself and invited them to join him on a new and better fishing venture. He said they would become richer than they ever imagine. The man did not pressure them, hand out a business card, direct them to a web site, or leave a phone number. He started walking away, saying he was looking for a few good men and women to broad his growing family business around the world.

Pete looked at Andy to see what he was thinking. Andy shrugged his shoulders as he looked back at Pete. “Okay,” said Pete, “We will join you.” Not wanting to waste any time (or even leave a “For Sale” sign), they turned their backs on their past and accepted the man’s challenge. There was just something about this guy that piqued their interest.

By now, you may recognize the call of Peter and Andrew placed in a more contemporary context. Imagine a modern day account of the Lord Jesus calling a few young people to become his followers. We know from history how dramatically their lives were changed, and that story has happened time and again to men and women down through the centuries. It is an event and process similar to how each of us responded to Jesus.

The first step we took was to respond to Jesus. John 1:12 says to all who believe and receive him, He gave the right to become children of God. We say yes to his offer of forgiveness and redemption through faith in Him. It is a decision rooted in the crucifixion of resurrection of Jesus, cemented by an empty tomb. He died to save mankind and He rose from the dead as a demonstration that His sacrifice has been accepted by the Father.

The second step on the journey is to start the process of becoming more like Jesus. He sat down his followers (read Matthew 5-7) and described what people of His kingdom looked like and acted. He modeled the character of God, lived a life of love, walked in the power of the Spirit, and called his disciples to imitate Him. Train = become.

The third step is to start experiencing our faith. When you test your faith, it will grow. It may be in choosing to assert your faith in Jesus and defend it. It happens by identifying with those who suffer, are poor, widows, orphans, or hurting. It develops as you practice Jesus’ teachings and walk humbly, live frugally, give generously, and model purity.

Walk wisely. I hope you have taken the first step. How are you doing with step two – the training? How are you experiencing your faith day by day? Keep following Jesus because His promise in Matthew 4:19 still stands.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – April 19

Do you consider yourself a giving person? Would your friends? Your family? God?

I met some kids selling lemonade while riding my bicycle and asked them why they were out there. They replied they were raising money for a friend who was injured playing soccer and his family needed some assistance. I had the chance to help an older lady across a busy intersection near our public library recently. You ever notice how you walk a bit taller after helping someone – not out of pride or self-promotion, but the sheer blessedness of doing the right thing when it is needed? I read about a TV talk show host who offered to pay $16,000 in legal bills for a family who won a court case, but the appeal court overturned the verdict and ordered the family to pay court costs for the opposition. Isn’t it gratifying to hear such stories of generosity? They happen more than we realize and it is still a mark of a great America. It has happened before too.

There is the famous old story of a woman who let her wallet do the talking once – and Jesus happened to be watching that day. Read Mark 12:41-44. There were a lot of rich people around, who seemed to throwing large amounts of money into the temple treasury, much of it to keep or maintain their standing in the community. But in the midst of typically busy day, Jesus observed a poor widow dropping two small coins into the collection basket that weren’t even worth a penny. A skeptic or cynic might ask what difference her two coins could make. Financially not much. But why did Jesus say in 12:43 that, “This poor widow put more into the treasury than all the others?”

The rich folks who made big donations did not really sacrifice much, in light of their overall standard of living. Sure, they made time in their busy schedules to get to the temple and deposit their gift. I bet they didn’t have to think too hard about what they were putting in. They seem to be thinking more about what they could get out of the action – attention, recognition, reputation, and even thanks from the religious leaders.

But the widow gave money that might have affected her ability to eat that day. She was poor and alone, but did not feel sorry for herself. She chose to give. Jesus noted that her giving and caring attitude and spirit counted a lot more than the amount that was dropped into the offering plate. Her example resonated in heaven.

The widow was not looking for attention, community recognition, improved stock portfolios, a pat on the back, or her fifteen minutes of fame. The irony is that no one but Jesus even noticed what she did. But isn’t that what really matters?

Most college students will graduate and get a well paying job, in contrast to most of the people on the planet who exist on less than a few dollars a day. Refuse to listen to the propaganda of our modern culture that says you have a right to enjoy material success. Buy things for their usefulness, not their status. Do not buy clothes to impress people, but impress people with your life. Learn to enjoy things without owning them. Live simple.

In what ways other than financial can you display an attitude and act of giving? What can you give to someone today that would be a sacrifice? Live communally. You are not living if you are not giving. Cultivate a generous spirit because it registers with God.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – April 12

A friend of mine told me of a trip he took to Jerusalem. As part of his sightseeing package, he observed an orthodox Jewish group taking part in an animal sacrifice. Those in the ceremony arrived at the home of the Jewish high priest, where he was sharpening a large knife, with a lamb tied up nearby, ready to be THE SACRIFICE.

The grisly event was however, just a rehearsal, for the day when sacrifices will once again be part of Israel’s national worship (read chapters 39-48 of Ezekiel). The tour guide tried to explain this bloody “practice” ritual to those who believed that the sacrifice of animals represented religion at one of its worst moments.

The Levitical sacrifices for sin that took place first in the Tabernacle and second in the Jewish Temple were always done in the daylight, not in the dark. They were performed only at the Temple altar, not in the shadows of a dark, meeting place. The goal was to express responsibility and repentance in light of personal and corporate wrongdoing (read Leviticus 6:1-7). Every part of the sacrificial system was designed with purpose.

Ultimately, the system was a picture of God’s redemptive love. Generations of Jewish sacrifices led a first century messenger to say and write, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. “ (John 1:29)

Jesus’ death was the ultimate and once-for-all atonement for sin. He did what no animal sacrifice could ever do. With his crucifixion, Jesus paid the penalty for the sinful words, thoughts, actions, and attitudes of every man and woman. He made forgiveness and freedom from sin available and accessible to all who believe in Him (John 3:16). Up to that time in history, every animal sacrifice was a pre-emptive type of ceremony that anticipated Christ’s death. His death then, was a once-for-all substitution for sin.

Ezekiel’s prediction that God will someday sanction the use of animal sacrifices may indeed be baffling then. Did or didn’t Jesus die for sins once for all? Yes.

For centuries, followers of Jesus use the symbols of His broken body and blood to remember and proclaim, “his death until He comes.” It is a regular opportunity for believers to reflect on (and honor) the Lord who died for them. But Ezekiel prophesied that God will also use the temple sacrificial system in the last days to help the Jews realize and remember how and when their Messiah suffered on their behalf.

I am sure not everyone can handle seeing animals put down. My friend said the “lamb rehearsal” in Jerusalem even made some people feel nauseas and a few even physically sick. That was part of the role of the sin offerings described in Leviticus. Christ’s suffering on our behalf was immeasurable and incomprehensible. He stood in our place. There is no way to know the depth of the agony he felt and experienced when he cried, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).

Are you troubled by your casual attitude at times toward sin? Are you a bit numb to the suffering Jesus endured on your behalf? Think theologically. Jesus’ death was THE ATONEMENT for sin…once for all – to bring you and me to God (1 Peter 3:18).

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – April 5

I could not figure out why the light in my office would not work. The light was on earlier that day, and the light bulbs worked in another lamp when I tried. Then I discovered the fixture was unplugged from the wall socket. I had taken it out to clean behind my desk and forgot to plug it back in. Oh well, even a college graduate makes simple mistakes.

The idea of being plugged in made sense to me a long time ago when I first learned about being filled with the Holy Spirit. My pastor taught a series on the Second Person of the Trinity and described how the apostle Paul commanded believers in Ephesus (modern day Turkey) – and every follower of Jesus – “to be filled with the Spirit” (see Ephesians 5:18). Paul’s words emphasized on ongoing process of walking in cooperation with the Holy Spirit so as to become more and more like God. Being plugged in meant access to power to live by. My pastor taught that God does His part by filling us. God wants us to be “filled” constantly so our thoughts and actions are influenced by Him. My pastor added that being filled by the Spirit involves four actions on our part:

1. Be in Scripture – Every follower of Jesus who wants to Spirit filled needs to be spending time in the Bible. Jesus modeled a life well lived that was based on Scripture. The Bible should have importance in your life as you read it, study it, memorize it, meditate and reflect on it, and live according to it. Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that the Scriptures were given to make each of us a complete, well-equipped Christian.

2. Be Christ-centered – Another requirement for being Spirit filled is to center on Jesus. He is to be the focal point of our thoughts, aspirations, and actions. Paul told the Romans that the will of God is to be conformed to the image of His Son (8:29). The writer to the Hebrews said “to run your race with perseverance…fixing your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2). The Holy Spirit wants you to be like Jesus.

3. Be Submissive – Paul indicated the third essential for a Spirit filled life is to be submissive to God and His Word. Paul modeled this kind of life and instructed others to follow his example by the words he used in 5:18. Translated literally, the latter part of the verse actually reads, “Keep on being filled with the Spirit,” or “Keep letting the Holy Spirit fill you.” We must not stop the work of the Spirit by living a half-hearted, or disingenuous type of Christianity. We must continuously allow the Spirit to fill us and we do that by cooperating with Him as we live according to Scripture, not our old way of thinking. What is the point of reading Scripture and ignoring the commands of God? You waste your time and God’s by your double-minded ways. Submit and live right.

4. Be Confident – When you base your life on Scripture, center your focus on Jesus, and submit to the Lord’s leading/direction (from Scripture and the Spirit’s promptings), you can be confident you are doing your part. God is committed to and able to do His part. That combination leads to an assurance that can aid you day-by-day that you are being filled with the Spirit. God set it up so that we could actually experience victorious living.

Grow devotionally. Stay plugged into God and take advantage of His Spirit and His resources. For additional training, go to http://www.yougottheholyspirit.com, a Chi Alpha sponsored site. You can learn about more Holy Spirit apps like tongues, gifts, and fruit.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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