Monthly Archives: August 2011

Monday Motivator – August 22

I have always thought and believed that a big portion of leadership is leading your self well.

It is rather easy to start well in school or on a job, get noticed, learn the culture and acceptable language, and then coast. It becomes easy to get distracted and lazy instead of applying yourself in your environment. You find yourself going on cruise control, and it is easier to play the game of fake and fade. You appear to be something you are not.

It is critical to remember that wherever you want to go in life, it will call for discipline. Disciplined thinking and disciplined actions mean the difference between faking it or making it in life. Anyone who is successful will tell you that daily habits and disciplines are the key to getting out of a rut and staying out it.

One habit that can help is journaling, a spiritual discipline that many have found to be beneficial. It offers a chance to track your life through longer arcs, while probing your thoughts and feelings. It allows you to process the seasons of your life in a meaningful manner. It provides a chance to reflect on ups and downs, answers to prayer, obstacles you are facing, giants you have defeated, and lessons from adversity. It opens a chance for God for speak to you through the issues of your heart, soul, and mind. It can help align your life, family, and career path.

Consider the following suggestions as a place to journal as little or as much as you would like. You could journal in any one of these suggested areas, or create what you want to write about:

1. God’s character: write a letter to yourself from God, using Scripture to underscore who you are in relation to Him.

2. Scripture: As you read the Bible, what does God seem to be saying to you? What questions, reactions, and feelings do you have?

3. Hymns and Songs: These can be great sources of inspiration for thoughtful reflection.

4. Other Disciplines: Explore holy habits you may not be familiar with, such as meditation, prayer, fasting, study, simplicity, solitude, submission, service, confession, worship, guidance, celebration, and so on. Pick one for a few weeks to see how it gets worked into your routine.

5. Books you are reading: How is it challenging you? What is God saying to you through it? What questions do you have? What ideas do you want to probe deeper?

6. Growth: Where do you need to grow in the next year? How will you plan for that growth to take place? Are you on a plateau and need a breakthrough? How can God and others help you?

Luke 2:52 says, “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, in favor with God and men.” I have used this passage for years as an outline of four areas of effort that need my attention. I use these as an annual check-up list: mental (reflection), emotional (passion and choices), physical (take care of yourself), and spiritual (moral center). How have I done and where do I need to grow?

Walk wisely. Plan your growth. Journaling may provide a boost to your self-leadership.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – August 15

I sat next to a person recently on the train who asked me what I was going to do with the “wear and tear “ on my face. He said that Botox could help erase the impact of acne from my teen years. Get it taken care of, he argued rather boldly. Botox it!

It is amazing that so many people have been getting injections with this deadly poison so they can appear to be a bit younger. I am not sure if the women of Real Housewives of Atlanta-New Jersey-Los Angeles are recipients of this treatment, but I thought of a reality TV show that could be a revenue stream for Chi Alpha – Real Campus Missionaries of America – Stay Young for More Effective Campus Ministry. I’ll volunteer for a hair transplant, botox for acne, fat reduction, and extreme white smile package. I wonder how that could help us recruit and maintain more staff. Oh, the lure of the fountain of youth.

A botox treatment involves a doctor emptying a syringe into a person’s face, and the beauty toxin (oops, poison) temporarily freezes the muscles in the face that cause wrinkles. You go wrinkle free for a month of two and return to the doc for another treatment, um, fix. It is expensive and an illusion. Is a smooth face really worth ingesting deadly chemicals into your body? I like remembering that the scar on my nose came from my younger brother hitting me on the nose with a rake when we were kids. It’s not that I am masochistic, but just that it evokes a memory I want to keep – how we fought, forgave, and moved on from a tough fight in the backyard. That’s a marker in my life.

The tabloids in the checkout line at the supermarket indicate that vanity drives people to strange decisions. Many are willing to experience the pain of needles, to endure the bad for something they believe is worth it. Yet does Botox go any deeper than the first layer of your skin? Is there any solution to the wrinkles and wear and tear of our hearts?

My reading through Proverbs has once again revealed a gem. Take a peek at Proverbs 27:1-10. Verse six says “the wounds of a friend” are worthwhile.

I am sure at first thought you find it hard to believe any good can come from wounds – of any kind – caused by friend or foe. But real friends will bring to the light the character flaws, rough edges, and sins of our lives that they see in us. Those are the sorts of things that affect who we are, as well as our relationships with God, parents, friends, colleagues, employers, and so on. Who better to tell us what we really need to hear than a friend? Consider what tends to influence our self-image, identity, and witness for Christ. It is so easy to give into the pop culture notions of what is normal, acceptable, and admirable. As I observe culture, I see people talking and jockeying for status, power, and popularity.

Yet Scripture says we have access to a Friend who sticks closer than a brother. Jesus showed us how he cheered on his close buddies to become the best “them,” they could be. He pulled them back from potential evil, held them accountable for their decisions, was long suffering when they were thick-headed, and told them they mattered to him.

Live communally. How can you be a good buddy? What “good” wounds do you need to share lovingly with a friend? Help your friends run from the deadliest poison of all, sin. Be willing to receive the input of your pals. Real friends help friends face the truth.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz


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Monday Motivator – August 8

If you believe that Jesus is THE TRUTH, the source of all truth, are you racist?

I have heard it for years on college campuses from students and faculty alike: “I am totally against any one faith system that claims to be superior to another.” Others argued with me that saying something like that sounded like the person was saying that they are closer to God than others, and that leads to arguments, fighting, even violence.

Read John 14:6 and Acts 3:11-20.

These passages are often cited by some as texts that reflect arrogant, narrow-minded thinking, even bigotry. This century is supposed to be one of religious pluralism and tolerance, so any claims of exclusivity are deemed dangerous and politically incorrect. One chaplain I served with called any truth claims “arrogant religious chauvinism.” Another one of my colleagues said that sort of thinking is dangerous because it fosters a cocky and superior attitude that can lead to hatred and violence at people who believe differently.

For centuries, followers of Jesus have affirmed the historicity of the New Testament. Included is the belief that the words of Jesus are accurately translated from 1st century documents into the translations of the Bible available. Here are three reasons that have been passed down from antiquity.

First, Jesus is unique in His qualifications. Luke, a physician who wrote the Gospel of Luke and Acts, recorded Peter’s words that Jesus is the “Holy and Righteous one (Acts 3:14), the “Author of Life” (3:15), the “One the prophets foretold” (3:18), and the “Christ” (3:20). He is the One the early Church worshipped and followed as God.

Second, Jesus is unique is His work. Jesus is the only one who brings salvation. Other religious leaders throughout history are considered teachers, wise sages, even a prophet. But Jesus is called the “Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.” Jesus alone saves us from our guilt, frees us from the addictive power of sin, substitutes Himself in our place so we avoid the judgment we all deserve, and empowers us to live life the way he intended us to. Remember Peter’s words in Acts 4:12?

Third, Jesus is unique in His resurrection. Peter described Jesus as the one “whom God raised from the dead,” (Acts 4:10). The resurrection of Jesus is the basis for the Christian faith. Jesus is alive today. Truth is knowable, and it is a Person.

All truth is by definition, exclusive. If truth does not exclude, no assertion of truth can be made. When Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” the implication of his statement is that anything said in opposition would be false.

Believing in something should not make you smug or condescending. If you believe Jesus is the source of all truth, then you have an obligation to learn and follow His teachings. That will involve showing His love to others as you proclaim His words.

Think theologically. Who will hear from you about Jesus this week? Live truth.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – August 1

How can you be more expressive in your worship of God? Have you developed a routine of reflecting and pondering the character and deeds of your Almighty Father?

I have been known to make a joyful noise to the Lord with my Fred Flintstone like voice and even break out in song in the car and at home. When David made a joyful noise to the Lord, he was declaring that God is worth his worship. Audibly voicing your love for another is a normal human emotion. Your mouth is simply expressing what is in your heart. Many of us have been conditioned (i.e., trained) to be conservative, reserved, even subdued, when it comes to honoring the Lord for who He is and what he has done.

In times past, the people of God expressed their worship to God in various forms of audio and physical expression. The foundation of worship should be grounded in the teaching and models of Scripture, not culture, tradition, or even your feelings. Listed below are a few guidelines that Scripture describes our first priority – ministry to God.

The writer of Psalm 32:11 says worshipping God with an upright (or right) heart is critical because it is a heart matter, not just an external act or duty. It seems natural to worship God when your motivation is right.

The writer of the Psalms urges us to worship God with words: 46:10 says silence and stillness is a good posture; 71:8 says to use words; 98:1 says to sing your words; 98:6 adds to SHOUT YOUR WORDS; 126:1-3 says laughing with joy is okay, too.

Psalm 95:1-7 records that because Israel had witnessed God’s awesome deeds, they responded with passionate (i.e. joyful) singing. Their singing was alive because God himself was alive, present, and real to them.

The writer of the Psalms urges us to worship God with action: 47:1 says clapping your hands is a way of expressing honor and recognition of His nature; 63:3-4 says raising your hands is a way to indicate surrender as well as adoration; 95:6 says bowing and kneeling model humility and reverence in His presence; 134 says standing shows honor; 149:3 says dancing before the Lord is appropriate.

The writer of Psalm 100 (pause and read it now) reminds us that we must worship God with our wholeness – all of our mind, emotions, body, strength, and will.  Psalm 150 says all manner of instruments are useful and necessary to worship God. I keep a stick in my car to bang on the steering wheel when I worship God and want to respond with word and action as I observe nature, sing along with my iPod, and express my love.

We are called to be expressive in our worship of the One True God. This inward experience needs to lead to an outward expression of our love for Him. It is not mere emotionalism, yet our emotions need to be engaged – we can taste and see who God is. As we do, we are transformed by His magnificent presence. As a result, worship should be a natural outflow of what we want to express to our Father, King, and Lover.

Grow devotionally. We worship God because He deserves it (Revelation 5:9-14).

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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