Monthly Archives: May 2011

Monday Motivator – May 30

Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship is about reaching students, training leaders, and influencing nations. We take seriously the words of Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20 to “Go and make disciples,” not go and find them. We have been actively working for over 50 years to help students become committed followers of Jesus and his teaching, as well as those who will pass it on to others.

I have had the privilege of introducing many students to Jesus. My greatest joy has been winning and training men and women whom God has chosen and called to be His representatives in the world. That is what Jesus emphasized in the Great Commission and what the apostle Paul instructed Timothy, his son in the faith, in 2 Timothy 2:2, “The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will be qualified to teach others.”

Helping Christians grow in their faith and mature in their obedience to God’s Word doesn’t just happen through random acts of ministry like going to meetings, Bible studies, or justice events. Each Chi Alpha chapter needs a pattern to build faithful Christians, one that provides a clear vision, character growth, and transferable skills from the beginning.  What does a disciple look like? If we don’t know what a disciple looks like on two legs, how will we be able to make one?

So what does a good pattern look like? There is no specific right way to make disciples, but certain principles apply. First, the pattern needs to be attainable and challenging; this way no one can stop growing because they feel like they have arrived. Second, we must be careful not to develop a legalistic pattern, since Jesus warned the Pharisees about such a damaging approach to godly living. And finally, the best patterns are those that follow the model set out by Jesus and his disciples in the Bible. Many of us read the words of Jesus (often marked in red), but we miss the method by which he lived his life and what he actually did with the disciples. A great book to understand and implement Jesus’ method is The Master Plan of Evangelism, by Robert Coleman.

Willow Creek Community Church, under Bill Hybels, created a pattern of “Five G’s” for developing people. This simple guide consists of Grace (salvation), Growth (personal), Group (participation in), Gifts (and their use in service), and Good Stewardship (of resources).

Another pattern includes the following word pictures that describe a growing disciple: Saint (saved – in a growing, loving, intimate relationship with God and fellow believers); Student (teachable – hungry to learn and apply God’s Word to daily living); Servant (obedient – committed to putting Christ first, and joyfully serving Him and others); Steward (faithful – responsible for managing their God given resources of time, talent, and money); and Soldier (possessing an eternal perspective – actively praying and seeking to reach and disciple others).

Remember that no matter what pattern you use, the key is to know what you are building.

A student disciple is a person of FAITH (F = Faithful: carries through on commitments and is reliable to handle their resources; A = Available: carries a burden for God and His work and makes time to work at it; I = Influential: models a concern for the work of God, has vision for growth, and is willing to take risks to accomplish the vision; T = Teachable: humble and willing to learn; and H = Hopeful: believes God has the power to do what He promised…an encourager.

Serve globally. Jesus invested in a few for the sake of the many. What are you building?

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – May 23

How do you deal with disappointment, struggle, failure, poor health, or all of the above? When you got to a place where you felt you were at the end of your rope, what did you do?

When you take a look at the life of composer George Frederick Handel, you find a successful person who often found himself in a rut that he desperately needed to get out of.

Handel was a musical prodigy. Even though his father wanted him to study law, he gravitated toward music as a child. By age seventeen, he held the post of church organist at his hometown cathedral in Halle, Germany. A year later he became a violinist and harpsichordist at the Kaiser’s Opera House in Hamburg. By twenty-one, he was a keyboard virtuoso. When he turned to composing, he soon excelled, received accolades, and was appointed Kapellmeister conductor to the elector of Hanover (later King George 1 of England). When he moved to England, his fame increased. By the time he was forty, he was famous around the world.

Yet despite his fame and talent, he faced considerable adversity. The competition with rival composers in England was fierce and unrelenting. Audiences grew fickle and sometimes did not show up for his performances. He was frequently the victim of the changing political atmosphere. He often found himself almost out of money and facing bankruptcy. The pain of rejection and failure was difficult to face and bear, especially in light of his remarkable success.

Handel’s problems were compounded by failing health. He suffered a stroke or seizure, which left his right arm limp and ultimately caused him to lose the use of four fingers on his right hand. He later recovered, but still battled discouragement. In 1741, Handel determined that it was time to retire, even though he was only 56. He was discouraged, despondent, miserable, and deep in debt. He worried that he would find himself in jail for his financial troubles. On April 8, he gave what he believed was his farewell concert. Disappointed and full of self-pity, he gave up.

But in August of 1741, something incredible happened. A wealthy friend named Charles Jennings visited Handel and gave him a libretto (i.e., the text of a work for the theater) based on the life of Jesus Christ. The concept intrigued Handel and stirred him to action. He began writing. And writing. And writing. Immediately the floodgates of inspiration were opened to Handel. His cycle of despair and inactivity was shattered. For twenty-one straight days, George Frederick Handel wrote almost non-stop. Then he spent another two days creating the orchestrations. In twenty-three days, Handel has single handedly completed a two hundred sixty page manuscript. He called it MESSIAH.

Today, Handel’s Messiah is considered a masterpiece and the crowning achievement of the composer’s work. In fact, Sir Newman Flower, one of Handel’s biographers, later said that, “Considering the immensity of the writing of The Messiah, and the short time involved, it will remain, perhaps, the greatest feat in the whole history of music composition.”

The apostle Paul said God gives encouragement and endurance in Romans 15:5. Jennings helped Handel gain a new outlook on life. Walk wisely. You never know how your words and actions may spur someone to pick themselves up and face the challenges of their life. When it comes to getting over the emotional hurts of failure, it doesn’t matter how good or bad your personal history is. The only thing that matters is that you face your fear and get moving.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – May 16

Who do you turn to for good advice? When was the last time you rejected good advice? Why?

It is amazing how often people still refer to the need for Solomon’s type of advice when they find themselves in a difficult situation. I even heard a reference to it on Law and Order on TNT recently. It seems that the wisdom of King Solomon is still required, even in the 21st century. What better advice can we get for gaining knowledge that his statement from Proverbs 1:7: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”

Solomon said in 4:6 that wisdom protects us. Remember that Solomon said it is helpful to “listen to advice and accept instruction” (Proverbs 19:20), especially since it means that, “in the end you will be wise.” One of my favorite reminders of Solomon’s wisdom is found in Proverbs 15:22, where he wrote, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed.”

If you recall Old Testament history, you will note that Solomon’s son Rehoboam made the mistake of not following his dad’s great wisdom. Of course, 1 Kings 1-11 records that even though Solomon started off well as King, but he himself made plenty of mistakes on his own, so even the wisest man of all time had feet of clay, and a stubborn heart that got cold toward God.

Solomon’s son Rehoboam took over the throne of Israel after his father’s death in 1 Kings 12. He had a great opportunity to move Israel in the right direction after becoming King, yet he listened to bad advice, acted on it, and it lead to a national revolt. Read 1 Kings 12:1-24.

Shortly after Rehoboam became King of Israel, citizens approached him about his father’s leadership. They argued that Solomon had imposed a burden of hard and heavy labor on the people. Rehoboam acted responsibly at first by seeking counsel on how to handle the matter. He asked the advice of the elders who had served with his father. From these tested and proven leaders, he received wise counsel. They told him his father generally ruled well, but he could be harsh at times. They instructed Rehoboam to be kind to the people and lighten their workload.

So after receiving this helpful advice from trusted counselors, what did Rehoboam do? He rejected it outright. It was not exactly what he wanted to hear, so he approached some friends that he had grown up with, hoping to get the counsel he wanted. He ended up listening to his unwise younger friends who told him what he wanted to hear – make the burden tougher on the people and show them who is in charge. Rehoboam did it, and soon was running for his life.

Rehoboam’s decision to listen to the advice of his friends led to a national revolt and the breaking of Israel into northern and southern tribes, something that had been prophesied. The writer of 1 Kings does not condone the foolish act of Rehoboam or the revolutionary actions of the tribes of Israel. Scripture reminds the reader that it occurred to bring about divine judgment on the house of David for Solomon’s idolatry and broken covenant with God (11:9-13).

What about you? Are you seeking to live your life in accordance with God’s truth and will, or are you trying to find someone – anyone – who will tell you what you want to hear? What three people are great advisors for you? Are they tuned into God and His Word? What concern do you need to get counsel for? Are you a good listener? Proverbs 12:1 says you are stupid if you do not listen to wise instruction. Live communally. You are only as smart as your wisest counselors.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – May 9

Have you ever thought, “I am going to do what I want to do regardless of the consequences, and later ask for forgiveness?” How did your parents react when you acted that way? What does God think about those kinds of intentions?

Many college students get trapped when they accept a pre-approved credit card that gives them the illusion that it costs them nothing. One young lady did so and thought she could now have the fun that had previously eluded her because she lived on a budget her parents helped her to devise. While she formerly had to say “no” to certain things that she could not afford, she now started picking up the tab for pizza for her and her friends. She felt she had freedom to treat her friends now and then, mistakenly believing that it would not cost her anything. After all, she had a new credit card. The pre-paid calling card or phone that parents give their kids also makes it feel like the service is free when they call home long distance. But someone had to pay for it.

In some places in America, you can actually pay ahead to cover your speeding tickets. You put money on deposit and then can go out and drive faster than the speed limit. When you get pulled over, it is not a big deal because your ticket has already been paid. Of course, some towns and cities many not value a person pre-paying their speeding tickets knowing it could mean more accidents due to speeding violations. I know local economies could benefit from a new revenue stream, but pre-paying speeding tickets seems too dangerous of an idea to consider.

Advertising suggests that pre-pay costs nothing. This illusion can infect our spiritual life as well. Scripture teaches that through God’s grace, we can receive the gift of salvation and the assurance of going to heaven when we die. We often assume that since Jesus did it all for us, we can coast to the finish line without much effort. We forget that our parents taught us, “Garbage in, garbage out.” Or that you can grow in faith or in doubt – whatever you feed grows. We often live by the principle that we can sin a little now and then and later ask for forgiveness. Another way to say it is we can plan to sin, or be lethargic to the demands of Jesus, and fix it up with Him later.

Read Titus 2:11-12. See much wiggle room in those words?

This was a problem for the first generation Christians too. The apostle Paul wrote to Titus to emphasize that God wanted the first century followers lifestyle to match up with His teaching. It is the old saying, “Their walk should match their talk.” He also addressed this concern when he wrote to the Christians in Rome (6:1-2), when he wrote, “What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that the grace of God may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” Profession of faith in Christ should be accompanied by godly living. God pre-paid the cost of sin by sending His Son to die for us. His actions on our behalf (and the help of His Spirit) are designed to produce good works in and through us – assuming we cooperate.

If we are children of God, we are no longer slaves to sin, but slaves to righteousness (i.e. right living). The Bible says, “You were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13). Too many of us use our spiritual freedom as an excuse. But the grace of God never gives us freedom to sin (Romans 6:1-14). Grace is freely given because Jesus made the payment for our sin. Imagine the heavy price He paid! If we understand what our sin cost God, it should help us serve Him gratefully and obey Him. Think theologically. Sin’s price is pre-paid, but that is not a license to sin any longer.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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