Monthly Archives: February 2011

Monday Motivator – February 28

A guy I play hockey with recently told me about the “blood sisters” he sees regularly. Jim described them as two of the nicest people he has ever met, even though they work with blood. He first encountered these ladies after his cancer diagnosis a few years ago. He endured chemotherapy, had been declared cancer-free, and is in an observation pattern every few months. Through the whole ordeal, he said these nurses had become his friends, even though they stuck needles in him and drew blood from his veins for review and testing.

He told me the two nurses who tended to be on duty when he went through cancer treatments were named Susan and Penny. They greeted him with a smile, tender care, laughter, and an encouraging tone. For people like Jim who have received devastating medical news and/or are reeling from the effects of harsh chemo treatments, these nurses provide a sunny, cheerful, and comforting presence to those they serve…not to mention their professional, medical expertise.

But put yourself in their shoes for a moment. Day after day they encounter patients who can be angry, impatient, unhappy, stunned, sad, sullen, or even downright miserable. People facing difficult, life-threatening illnesses are not always quick to look at their situation in positive terms. It would be so easy for nurses to take on the characteristics of the people they poke with needles, wouldn’t it? Instead, they lift the spirits of their patients day after day, offering hope, treatment and comfort, even as they show that they indeed do care for them.

I have visited students in campus medical facilities being treated for all sorts of illnesses. I am also aware of the pressures many young people face today. Students are looking for smiling faces. They are looking for encouragement. They are trying to fit in. They ache to feel accepted for who they are. We have a choice – either we can imitate the care of God (and the nurses that Jim came to appreciate) or copy the uncaring tendencies of mankind.

Read Isaiah 40:26-31.

God communicated His devotion and love to His people in creation, in spite of the Fall, through nature, through the nation of Israel and its prophets, and ultimately through the incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of His Son Jesus. One of His prophets named Isaiah wrote to ancient Israel and told them to look at the stars in the sky. He said it was by God’s great power that they were placed and sustained (40:26), not the idea that inanimate, impersonal gods (i.e., idols) had something to do with them (see 40:18-20).

Isaiah further declared to Israel that God is real, powerful, loving, caring, and encouraging to them. Even though the Hebrews were often led astray by false gods, Isaiah reminded these weary and distracted people that they could look to God Himself to find comfort and hope (v 28-31).

What sort of care do you offer others on campus? What does your face and smile tell hurting people around you? How does God’s compassion make you more sensitive and caring to those you know that are often overwhelmed, overstressed, over-connected, and broken?

Live communally. Allow your smile, kind words, generosity, concern, and good deeds to lift others up this week. By doing so, you are reflecting the loving character and activity of God Himself. Scripture teaches us to care for others because God cares for us.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – February 21

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, knew the value of good books. He was a writer and author, as well as a man who loved to read. He often gathered together writings from the Christian classics to use in the training of Methodist preachers. A book by Philip Dodderidge touched the soul and mind of William Wilberforce, who led the fight against the slave trade in England. C.S. Lewis felt that the reading of G.K. Chesterton’s Everlasting Man assisted him in his spiritual journey. Lewis’s own book Mere Christianity has played a major role of many searching after Truth. Books have long been powerful tools in stirring the hearts and minds of many great thinkers and leaders. I have recommended the following books to students:

Why am I afraid to tell you who I am? by John Powell. An essay by a Roman Catholic brother/monk on how authentic relationship is the pathway to personal growth

Hinds’ Feet on High Places, by Hannah Hurnard; An allegory of the Christian journey

How to Read a Book, by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren; A secular book that changed the way that I study; How to Think About the Great Ideas, by Mortimer J. Adler; An insightful exploration of the ideas that shape university culture

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey; One of the best on organizing your personal life and becoming an effective leader as a result

The Pearl, by John Steinbeck; A tale of the destructive forces of materialism

The Great Divorce, by C. S. Lewis; This book is an allegory about a bus ride from hell to heaven.  Much of the material comes from Lewis’ personal experience

Smith Wigglesworth: Apostle of Faith, by Stanley Howard Frodsham; about the healing evangelist who God used to raise the dead; or The Wigglesworth Standard, by P.J. Madden.

Beyond Popcorn, by Robert Glatzer; Movies dominate public discourse. They influence and reflect the cultural dialogue. This is a quick, practical guide to becoming a better filmgoer

The Celtic Way of Evangelism, by George G. Hunter III; An effective approach to outreach in a postmodern culture based on Scripture and the ministry of Saint Patrick

How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth, by Gordon D. Fee & Douglas Stuart; One of the best guides to move from casual Bible reading to true Bible study and Scriptural understanding

The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, by Mark A. Noll; Our views of politics, science, and the arts reflect a flaw in our willingness to embrace Scripture’s command to “love the Lord with all your mind.” This flaw could prove fatal and Noll shows us a way to overcome it

Micheal Flaherty, President of Walden Media, wrote a column in the December 21, 2010 edition of the Wall Street Journal that describes C.S. Lewis’ view that “what you read tells a lot about you.” Click on the following link  (or copy and paste it into your browser) to see it.

Think theologically. Read Scripture and good books. Let’s make readers out of future leaders.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – February 14

I remember these students because of their friendship. They came from different parts of the country and ended up as roommates. They hit it off quickly and became inseparable. They were as different as night and day, one from a big city, one from a small town. One was six feet two, while the other was five foot nine. One was white and the other black. One came from a family of 8 siblings who enjoyed a rural upbringing with parents who only graduated high school, while the other was an only child of parents educated at Ivy League schools. Although they were dramatically different, they both struggled with the same doubts about their faith in Jesus Christ.

These two young men saw life as a competition, a test, which it is in many ways. They believed every test has an answer. They thought every troubling question life throws at you must have a specific answer from Scripture, and be reasonable as well. I remember many conversations with these students in their dorm room, at the cafeteria, and around campus. I reminded them on many occasions that the Bible is remarkable for what it does NOT tell us. How many of the “why” questions it never attempts to answer. These young men had a hard time accepting that and fired questions at me. Why couldn’t God make everything absolutely clear to them? What was so hard about that? Why did they struggle with temptation and sin? Why is Jesus is so exclusivist? Why was my grandfather stricken with cancer? Why did I struggle with acne, shyness, and talking with girls? When would we become spiritual giants like Origen, Booker T. Washington, or C.S. Lewis and have all the answers? Why were we perpetually in the school of doubt?

I replied that building faith is like building muscle. If we never exercise our faith, it will shrink into uselessness. The greater the strain or test, the stronger our faith can become. Even when we think we’ve failed, we can bounce back, learn to fail forward, and benefit from trials. God often puts us in situations where our faith can be tried. We read His Scriptures about being Christ-like and pray for strength to be like Him. He then arranges opportunities where our character can be tested. He gives us challenges we know we cannot handle on our own. We find ourselves in circumstances where we have to depend on Him. He poses questions well beyond our ability to answer. In many and varied ways, He puts us where Job was once.

Read Job 38:1-42:6. Through no fault of his own, Job lost virtually everything (chapter 1-2). He wanted answers from God, but got more questions – four chapters worth of them. One example is in Job 38:4 where God asked Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” Job’s response was stark and poignant. “I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” (42:6). God eventually blessed Job beyond his previous riches, needs, and expectations.

My two students survived many soul crises over their college years and went on to endure greater tests of faith. I will never forget something one of them said right before graduation: “If I didn’t have any faith to doubt, I would not doubt my faith. I have learned to keep and deepen my faith, even as doubt comes knocking on my door. I will not ditch my faith because of doubt.”

You will struggle with finding answers to tough questions. What will do when you realize God never answers many of our “why” questions? How will you react to unfair, unjust things that happen to you or others? How did Jesus deal with the greatest injustice of all? (Luke 23:32-34) Grow devotionally. First, download the YouVersion app for your phone and start one of the Bible reading programs this week to get to know God accurately. Second, pick up a copy of The Faith & Culture Devotional. You will always have faith and doubt – but what you feed grows.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – February 7

Do you speak Famine? Try and decipher the following phrase!


Clue: go without food, raise funds and help solve a large problem in the world today

Answer: [feed hungry children]

World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine is a worldwide movement of students who are serious about serving God and fighting hunger – all on an empty stomach.

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. Motivated by our faith in Jesus Christ, World Vision serves alongside the poor and oppressed as a demonstration of God’s unconditional love for all people. World Vision helps transform the lives of the world’s poorest children and families in nearly 100 countries, including the United States. World Vision’s non-profit work extends assistance to all people, regardless of their religious beliefs, gender, race, or ethnic background.

It is not too late to get your Chi Alpha chapter signed up for a 30 Hour Famine experience (February 25-26 or April 29-30) – an experience they will never forget and help change lives around the world. When you and your group do the Famine, you are taking a bold step on behalf of hungry children and families. World Vision provides a Famine Kit that includes everything you need to host a kick off event on campus.

30HourFamine is about saving lives. It is also about helping to understand hunger and poverty on a deeper level. This year’s Famine is loaded with unique ideas like TRIBE, a game that will give your students a fresh perspective on the post-quake situation in Haiti. Why not ask students and organizations on campus to join your Chi Alpha chapter in this justice and service opportunity?

To get a free Famine Kit – complete with activities, videos, and everything you need for an unforgettable Famine – sign up today at 1.800.7.FAMINE, or

Go ahead. Unite your group. Mobilize your campus. Discover the difference 30 hours can make. Help orphans and widows find sustainable food sources and clean water. Serve globally.

Do you speak Famine?


Answer: [do the Famine].

Go without food, raise money, and help build a better world for kids.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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