Monthly Archives: January 2012

Monday Motivator – January 30

One of my favorite fast food places is Wendy’s.  I love to visit occasionally and hear the cashier ask the familiar question: “Would you like to Biggie-size it?” Generally no, I reply, but every so often, I will ask for a Biggie size drink and fries. I know that in essence I am getting more of what I ordered.

When I visited Wendy’s recently, I had just read 2 Peter and a few concepts sprang to life as I enjoyed my junior bacon cheeseburger. I thought of how God works when we come to Him. He essentially asks us, “How much of Me do you want?”

Read Isaiah 6:1-10.

The first concept I considered was that God wants to “Biggie-size our understanding of His holiness.” The prophet Isaiah was going through a tough season of life, and had an encounter with God where he saw Him high and lifted up. God enlarged Isaiah’s perspective of His moral excellence that flows from His character through His actions with precision. The conclusion Isaiah came to was that there was no like his holy God.

The second concept I thought about was the clarity of understanding about our sinfulness. In contrast to God’s holiness, Isaiah quickly admitted to being less than worthy to be in God’s presence. Isaiah realized he was sinful and guilty (v 5) as he looked God in the face. Like Isaiah, when we see God as He is – perfect, righteous, majestic, and holy – we should see ourselves as we really are: unfit, undeserving, unclean, unholy, sinful, and in trouble.

The third concept was that God wants our understanding of His forgiveness to be fresh and whole. Isaiah cried out in v 6-7 that God completely forgave him and wiped out his guilt and sin.  John wrote in 1 John 1:9 that, “If we admit to our sins, He won’t let is down. He is just and faithful to forgive our sin, and cleanse us from all wrongdoing, because He is true to His nature.”

The writer of Psalm 103 said that God’s forgiveness is so complete that He even removes our sin from us “as far as the east is from the west” (v 12).

Last, God wants to increase our understanding of our opportunity to participate in His rescue operation. Isaiah was reminded in v 8-9 that God was calling him with a personal mandate to communicate who God is to His people. God loves all people and wants them to know Him. Isaiah’s personal encounter stirred him to make a declaration to follow through on God’s invitation by committing himself to be available. Isaiah was to reach out to others and work to see them experience God much like he did.

Think theologically. What does God want to Biggie-size in your journey with Him? Peter said, “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). What would that look like in your life? How intentional are you willing to be? Grab a copy of Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster or The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard. Practice the spiritual formation exercises they suggest.

What keeps you from deepening your commitment to Jesus? We all have a choice of whether we want to Biggie-size our understanding of God. I hope you will choose to draw closer to God and go deeper than you ever have before. God encounters help enlarge our understanding of Him.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – January 23

What are you reading?  Textbooks for class? A friend’s blog? On line news, sports, or entertainment updates? Do you read for pleasure, comprehension, enrichment, or advancement?

What is your pattern for reading the Bible? A few verses a day? A chapter or more a day? Do you follow a Bible reading plan? Do you read through the Bible quarterly? Annually? You do not regularly read the Scriptures? You rarely open the Bible, even on Sunday?

If you compare what you read to how much of the Bible you take in, what would you find? I love to read because my parents modeled it on our home, but I have learned to make discriminating choices in how and what I read. Why? I am convinced the Bible is the most important book that I need to know and master while I am on earth. God wrote two books for the health and betterment of mankind: The 66 books of the Old and New Testaments and the book of Nature. Psalm 19 says the created order describes the character and work of God.

The Bible claims to be a “living and active” Book that give us the guidance we need to live lives that are pleasing to God (Hebrews 4:12). One reason we should read through the entire 66 books of the Bible is to become familiar with the treasure within its pages. Consider the following examples of the guidance and wisdom available in its pages for your growth and maturity.

  • If you want to learn about God and His power: Genesis 1, Exodus 1-15, Isaiah 40
  • If you want to know where the Ten Commandments are: Exodus 20
  • If you are afraid: Psalm 27 and 139
  • If you are facing tough circumstances: Psalm 23
  • If you are feeling guilty: Psalm 51
  • If you are happy: Psalm 99-101
  • If you need help making decisions: Proverbs 3 and James 1
  • If you are running from obedience from God: The Book of Jonah
  • If you want to be sure of eternal life: John 3 and 1 John 5
  • If you want to know what real love looks like: 1 Corinthians 13
  • If you are thinking about death: 1 Corinthians 15
  • If you need help fixing a broken relationship: The Book of Philemon
  • If you wonder about holding steady amidst trials: James 1 and 1 Peter 4

Our spiritual life needs regular nourishment just as our physical bodies need rest, water, and food. When Jesus spent 40 days in the desert without food, the devil came to him and suggested, “If you are the Son of God, tell theses stones to become bread.” Jesus replied, ““Man does not live (or survive) on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4). Like Jesus, we also need God’s “food” not just to survive, but to grow and thrive.

As you examine your reading pattern, what needs to change? What will you do to make reading the Bible a priority? How about a read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year version? Download the YouVersion app for a variety of reading plans and challenges? Use an audible version to hear the Scriptures read to you? Ask a friend to be a reading partner for mutual encouragement? Read Psalm 119: 129-136 each day for the next week and reflect on it for a few minutes a day.

Grow devotionally. Be intentional about your Scripture intake. What you read matters to God.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – January 16

Buyiswa, Melissa, Brenna, Roy, Jake, Patrick, Lester, Carmelina, Huzie, Chris, and John. They are some of the best people I have ever met and worked with when they were college students. They represent the epitome of character and excellence.

It is too bad colleges get headlines often for the foibles, goofiness, and destructive things students do at times. Some do mess up their scholarships with poor discipline and/or moral choices. Some get drunk, stoned, pregnant, STD’s (or  ?) and cause damage to themselves, others, and campus property. Some waste their academic opportunity. Some drop out due to internal conflicts, poor money management, or external circumstances beyond their control.

Buyiswa went to Wellesley; Melissa and Brenna attended The New England Conservatory of Music; Roy went to the Massachusetts College of Art; Patrick, Lester, and Jake attended M.I.T.; Carmelina went to Boston University; Huzie and Chris attended Boston College; and John went to Northeastern. All graduated, most with academic honors. All were involved with Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship on their campus and served in student leadership. I watched all of them grow and mature as young adults, complete graduation requirements on time, and handle the stresses of college life. I am proud of them for who they are. Today, they all are doing well in the marketplace as witnesses of Jesus, based on their excellent work and godly character.

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders.

I believe these eleven Chi Alpha alumni exemplify the characteristics that any employer is looking for as they search for new talent – they also reflect guidelines that work in anyone’s life.

1. Be authentic. Patrick and Lester were consistent – exactly what they said they were – men following the Master, in class or jiu jitsu. Any child can detect when someone is phony. Carmelina and John lived lives in their dorm and the lab that matched their words. James 1:22: “Do not merely listen to the Word…Do what it says.” Roy was an artist who happened to be Christian, but was real and approachable…and really good at his craft.

2. Be accountable. I remember a time Jake messed up on a work study assignment, went to his supervisor and owned up to his error. Melissa opened her life to Brenna as a book and they became pals; Brenna came to imitate Melissa’s example of walking in the Light (and with others).

3. Be a person of integrity. Chris was a man who would keep his word. Huzie dealt with people well. They both walked in truth and excellence. Buyiswa was intent on listening to those outside the faith because she was intent on influencing them for Christ. She did what was right even when it was not popular. All eleven of these alumni are people others can count on because they were like “little Christ’s on two legs.”

It is difficult to present Christ directly to some people today. They are suspicious of everything, not just the political world. It will be a whole lot easier to get a hearing for the message of Jesus if your life is marked by authenticity, accountability, and integrity.

Serve globally. My eleven former students are worth emulating. People outside the Christian faith have watched them closely and not found many holes between their words and their deeds. I am proud to acknowledge their example. Good character makes for a godly witness.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – January 9

I like the prayer Jesus taught his followers to pray in Luke 11 and Matthew 6:5-15. The Lord’s Prayer is chock full of more than simple requests to bless me at meal times. Consider the content:

For God’s Kingdom to come; For His will to be done; For God to meet our needs; For God to forgive our sin(s); For God to keep us from temptation; For God to receive all honor.

This prayer is filled with a Kingdom perspective on life as it should be…kind of a “now, but not yet” way of seeing things. It starts with where we are and attempts to move us to where He wants us to be. For example, when you pray, “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…” we are asking to understand and participate in a series of 5 divine realities.

First, we need to recognize a majority of what goes on in the world is not what God desires. When God created human beings in His image, He made them with a will to make choices. He empowered us to have the ability to accept or refuse His involvement in our lives. We all know the sad result after Adam and Eve decided to ignore God and go their own way – a way that resulted in pain, separation, and death. All of us need to own up to that fact that most of the evil in the world has been caused by the consequences of the choices each of us has made.

Second, we need to realize that we are living in a dysfunctional world of broken, damaged people. We should not be surprised by the negative circumstances we face on the personal, family, community, state, national, and global levels. We continue to reap what we have sown.

Third, a refuge (and fresh start) is available if we are intent on aligning ourselves with the will and rule of God. God made us to enjoy life to the fullest only if we are in proper relationship with Him and those around us. A first century Christian named Paul wrote that God desires nothing more than that we live according to His purposes (Philippians 2:13). God wants it that way because He made us, loves us, and knows that we will be fulfilled only when we are in right relationship with Him, and doing what we were made for.

Fourth, we are made to live in God’s Kingdom and under His rule. The Garden of Eden describes God’s original intent for the human race. God made the universe, the earth, and the human race and said it was all “good.” The scene in Eden was the last time anything was just, right, and fair. All of us have experienced the anxiety, broken relationships, envy, jealousy, suffering, and death that are the results of human choices, post-Eden. The ways of this world should be alien to us. We were made for another world, and if we continue trying to make ourselves comfortable here on this fallen planet (and ignoring the way out), we will see how foolish those choices were when His Kingdom is finally revealed in its entirety.

Fifth, God’s Kingdom has and will come. Jesus announced when He walked on earth in His bare feet that the Kingdom of God is here. His rescue operation has been in full advance since His death and resurrection, and He said He would return a second time for the final cleanup. This is the promise that gives us hope in the midst of a world gone awry. Jesus came first as a baby and will return as a conquering King. The system God originally planned for us will be restored (Revelation 21:1-7). The paradise that was lost will be regained and we will get to live there.

Walk wisely. Pray and live the Lord’s Prayer. Choose Christ, not comfort, and wait expectantly.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – January 2

It is not easy to tell someone they are going to hell. It is not easy to stir up the courage to talk to a family member or friend about their need to consider the person and claims of Jesus. It is not easy to interrupt a person’s life to ask them about their spiritual journey and get them to think about S-I-N in T-H-E-M-S-E-L-V-E-S. Yet Smitty did all three for me.

It is a tough job to be a representative of Jesus. He sets the tone, gives the message and the mandate (and the power to fulfill it), and expects results. Yet if we think witnessing for Him is difficult, we need to pause and remember that Jesus is carrying the heaviest part of the effort. He did not ask us to do the hardest part of the redemptive act when he was crucified and buried back in the first century. Jesus died for the sins of all men and women, and rose again on the third day.

Jesus did the hard part. He stood silent before a jeering crowd and allowed his perfect name to be slandered. He winced as His accusers slammed a crown of thorns on His head. His body ached as He lugged a heavy crossbeam up the hill of Golgotha. He felt the excruciating pain as nails were driven into his feet and hands, securing him to a Roman cross. His body convulsed as the cross He was nailed to was hoisted up and dropped, being stabilized in the ground. To top it off, Jesus experienced cosmic separation and rejection from God, the Father, when He turned away from Him as He bore the incredible weight of punishment for all of our sins.

As he neared death, Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). His cry echoed through the valley, off the rocks in the Place of the Skull, and died off in the shadows of that dark day. Shortly, new words escaped from the parched lips of Jesus. In utter triumph, he said, “It is finished” (Mark 15:37 and John 19:30), and bowed his head. Jesus did what He said He came to do: He was the Lamb of God sent to take away the sins of the world.

Read John 19:1-30.

Jesus was willing to suffer the death that every human being was destined to face. Because of His selfless act, those of us who accept his gift of salvation are set free from sin, separation from God, and a Christ-less eternity. Matthew wrote in his Gospel that an angel said to the women who came to the tomb looking for Jesus that He had risen from the dead (28:5). He then told the women to “come and see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples.” (28:6-7). Today, that instruction leaves us with one thing we must do. Tell others about Jesus.

I am a follower of Jesus today in primarily due to the witness and friendship of Doug Smith at Ohio University in the late 1970’s. Smitty was convinced that Jesus was who He said He was. Smitty was committed to living out the teaching of Jesus on campus regardless of the cost. Smitty was an engaging, fun, personable student athlete. His allegiance was to the Kingdom of God. He believed it was his responsibility to tell as many as possible about King Jesus.

Smitty knew I might go through life and miss being re-connected to Jesus. As a result, he took a risk in talking to me, and I later decided to become a follower of Jesus. I have also followed Smitty’s example of starting conversations, listening to others, and finding ways to introduce Jesus to others. It is hard at times, but I remind myself that Jesus has already done the hard part.

Live communally. The news of Jesus is too good to keep to our selves. Come, see, go and tell.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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