Monthly Archives: June 2010

Monday Motivator – June 28

Studies have shown that human beings are wired to respond more positively to good-looking people. Research affirms we even trust and value them more. Some argue that beautiful people get ahead, find better jobs, are better paid, and have an easier time in life.

Beauty is a very lucrative business and industry. I saw a study that suggested more money is spent on the pursuit of beauty than education. TV shows like NipTuck reveal an unhealthy interest in achieving physical perfection based on shifting personal and societal standards. The show starts with two doctors asking a potential patient what they do not like about themselves. Episodes deal with the desire for self-improvement, overcoming tragedy, and an obsession with having the right “looks, figure, or image.”

Earlier this year People Magazine put reality star Heidi Montag on its cover and wondered about her recent round of cosmetic surgery. The twenty three year old boasted of ten procedures in one day and was quoted, “I am obsessed. My breasts were enlarged, my chin reduced, my nose redone, and I want more.” Has she gone too far?

The article in People reported two reasons for her aggressive transformation; First, Heidi was teased about her looks as a kid. She added that she recently had trouble filling out a bra for a PR shoot for Playboy. She argued that up-and-coming stars need to look a certain way in order to succeed in today’s pop culture, which is her ultimate aim.

I remember several friends I grew up who had trouble shaking the ugly duckling label and were bullied and demeaned, even as they grew and matured into lovely people. A plastic surgeon I spoke with said invasive cosmetic procedures have doubled among those eighteen and younger in the past decade. She wondered where it would stop.

Western culture places an unhealthy significance on appearance, body type, and physicality. How many of us can match up, catch up, or get tucked up to look like a magazine cover model, beach body, actress/actor, or professional athlete? I have heard from a number of young ladies (and men) who struggle with their looks and desperately want to be liked and accepted for who they are…but fear it may not be enough.

Read Genesis 1 and 2, which states we are made in God’s image. Our identity should be based of “whose” we are, not the opinions of peers or pop culture. Your parents have extended to you (hopefully) their unconditional love and acceptance, no matter if you wear the “right clothes”, have the “best” physical features, or get the kind of grades they assume you should attain. But can you live with your looks? Can you accept yourself as fearfully and wonderfully made? Can you avoid the comparison trap and slick advertising campaigns that suggest you need to look like the models in their ads to be secure and confident in who you are? Are you going to be okay if you never develop six-pack abs?

As followers of Christ, we need to extend the support and encouragement of God to one another that Ephesians 4:29 declares. We need the help of others to overcome society’s insistence that a certain body type is preferred over another. Live communally. Listen to those whose opinion should matter most – God, your parents, and friends in Christ.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – June 21

I have had a lot of conversations over the years with students and faculty who mocked Christianity, and ultimately me. They accused me of being naïve because I actually believed in the resurrection of Jesus. They felt sorry for me because I put so much so much trust in the Scriptures, a book of myths and fables they argued, and one they never read for themselves. They scoffed at the idea of miracles, and the idea of an empty tomb.

They posited that the early Christians were religious zealots who could not accept the fact that their hero died. So they made up the resurrection story and came to believe their own fabrication. One graduate student even dared to call me a “loser” for believing this stuff.

But I know that I am not a loser. Why? Because what I believe is based on historical evidence, and in the end, we win. How do I know? Read 1 Corinthians 15:20-28.

Jesus did rise from the dead on the third day according to the Scriptures. And one day we will fully experience the “power of His resurrection” (Philippians 3:10) when we are raised to be united with Him. We will see Him defeat all of his foes (even death) as He puts “everything under His feet.” That will include those very people who claim that He is still in the grave, and those who pity us for our simple mindedness.

If and when opponents of Christianity attempt to discredit your faith, remember that our victory is as certain as if it already happened. It is like looking at reruns of the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey gold medal victory over Russia in 1980. It is the thrill of watching the Berlin Wall tumbling down in 1989. For those of us in New England, it is remembering the Boston Red Sox winning their first World Series in 89 years in 2004, then doing it again in 2007. For many others, the ROCKY movies stir up memories of overcoming tremendous odds to gain victory.

As we think about key moments in history such as these, or watch one of our favorite movies, we experience again the excitement about the outcome. But you never doubt the outcome because you already know the winners.

Our victory in Christ is just as certain: A public execution authenticated his death. A government official secured the gravesite. In spite of guards, the grave was found empty. Hundreds of people claimed to see Jesus alive after his grisly death. His followers were dramatically changed from cowards to witnesses. Jewish believers changed their day of worship. The resurrection was unexpected, but predicted. It was a great climax to a life well lived. It resonates with the experience of those who trust Him.

Think theologically. How strong is your belief in the resurrection? Is the fact that the Bible asserts it enough for you? Who mocks your belief in the resurrection? Have you prayed for them and witnessed to them? We do not need to gloat about the resurrection of our Lord. We do need to daily assume our responsibility to tell the good news of what we have seen and heard to everyone – even those who ridicule us, and Christ’s worst doubters, skeptics, cynics, and scoffers. Be humble and obedient to Jesus. Because in the end, the fact remains, we win! Christ’s resurrection is the guarantee of our final victory.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

P.S. Tim Keller has a great chapter (#13) called “The Reality of the Resurrection” in his book, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. There is a study guide available for you (and your skeptical friends) to use as you consider reading Keller’s book.

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Monday Motivator – June 14

I recently talked with an older couple at a rest stop about driving with a GPS. Both agreed it was a real asset when traveling and it overcame some of their worries. The wife said she had trouble knowing which direction they were heading. The husband said he once forgot how to get to the doctor – the same one he had gone to for more than 20 years.

The wife said her directional deficiency started back in high school when she took driver’s education. Her instructor told her to head back to school after a training drive, but she froze up and was not sure which way to go. Luckily, she made it after a few awkward turns. She later decided to carry a compass and city map with her at all times. She passed the driver’s test and was never labeled “directionally challenged.”

Some of you may read this with laughter or concern, wondering if this couple should be on the road at all. They did, however, have a valid driver’s license from their state, and have seemed to manage all these years…they beamed when they informed me that both had spotless driving records. I also learned this couple now gets around with the benefit of a GPS device their son bought them a few years ago.

I am secure with my general sense of direction when it comes to driving. I do rely on maps, Google maps and/or Mapquest help, and recently purchased my own GPS device. All of those aid me in getting where I want to go with minimal problem or delays. Yet I do know people who feel a bit “directionless” at times when it comes to the road of life.

All of us at times wonder about what tomorrow will bring. We beg, plead, and ask God to show us what is ahead. We may even consult non-biblical (and dangerous) sources for information about our career, love life, and family. Yet we often remain – clueless.

Read Genesis 24. This is the story of the servant of Abraham setting out to find a wife for his son Isaac. Not just any girl would do. When the servant arrived in Abraham’s homeland, he asked God to send a young woman who would kindly draw water for him and his camels from the city well. When a lovely young lady named Rebekah greeted him and fulfilled his request, the servant praised God for leading him on this special journey.

When do you become impatient because you do not see God’s guidance? Do you need help to step out and allow the Lord to guide you? How will you do that? What is the best “compass and map?” Abraham’s servant found Isaac’s wife by putting one foot in front of the other. He stepped out in faith and God gave him more direction as he needed it – the servant always had just enough information at just the right time. Faith = risk.

God generally does not give us a detailed map of our lives for the next three days, months, or years. He does expect us to study His Scripture and pray for wisdom and strength to live according to it. We must have faith that God wants what is best for us, and that He will give us more specific direction at just the right time.

Grow devotionally. Will you live according to Proverbs 3:5-6? Each of us has the responsibility to make decisions as a free moral being, hopefully in accordance with Scripture. God promises guidance, but sometimes gives direction one step at a time.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – June 7

He was raised in a mainline church and grew up in an “Ozzie and Harriett” type family. His saw no difference between his family and his neighbors who did not attend church. They modeled high moral standards without claiming any sort of faith or church connection. That was confusing and the young man could not figure out why someone who lived 2,000 years ago had anything to do with life in the fast paced 20th century.

He was an electrical engineering student who saw no need for a spiritual life. Two months before graduation he attended a concert on campus and served as the sound coordinator. One of the benefits was the chance to meet the lead performer. He was setting up when the artist arrived, shook his hand, and asked him about his life. The student later remarked that no famous person had ever had time for him, a lowly student.

During the concert, the musician started by saying, “I don’t know what you came to do, but I came to praise the Lord.” He sang and talked and reflected on a Christ-transformed life and the young man at the sound table was transfixed. Suddenly, Jesus revealed himself to the student and he was drawn to his glowing face. Jesus simply pointed at him and said, “Dick, follow me.” In an instant, the futility and frustration of a search for truth vanished and he was showered in the blood of Jesus, who scrubbed away his despair and hopelessness. He emerged from the concert with a new life purpose: to know and serve Jesus. After the concert, the artist came over and hugged Dick and he felt the Father’s love imparted to him, another new experience.

The student? Dick Schroeder. The artist? Barry McGuire. The year? 1973. The site? Montana State University (MSU). The summary? Dick met Jesus at a rock concert.

Dick was also baptized with the Holy Spirit, and he got involved with the Chi Alpha chapter at Montana State University (MSU). Dick’s career path was altered by God and he later became the director of MSU Chi Alpha, serving there for more than 30 years. In the past few years, he stepped off campus to assume a national Chi Alpha leadership role with his wife Joy in mentoring campus leaders across the country.

Together, they have reached students who were not close to God, rooted many in knowing God, equipped them to serve Christ while on campus, and sent them out into the marketplace to make a difference for Christ’s kingdom, here in the United States and around the world. Read Colossians 1:28-29…Dick and Joy have done it well.

Dick and Joy have taught students and staff to follow Jesus and walk in the gifts of the Spirit. They model intimacy with God and what the active expression of spiritual gifts looks like. They offer an on-line coaching experience called Joy created superb mentoring materials called Tools for Mentoring. Their desire is to equip the Body of Christ to know the love of the Father, function in the gifts of the Spirit, and validate our witness for Jesus.

I urge you to follow Dick and Joy Schroeder as they follow Christ. They have modeled a life well lived. From their campus and home in Montana, they have reached students, and touched the future. In touching the future, they have reached the world. If you want to serve globally, imitate them. Follow Jesus, get baptized in the Spirit, and use your gifts.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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