Monthly Archives: March 2012

Monday Motivator – March 26

My friend Brady Bobbink has been preaching the Gospel of Jesus to students at Western Washington University since the 1970’s. My friend Eric Treuil has been doing the same at the University of Lafayette-Louisiana since the 1980’s. My friend Mike Godzwa has been 2nd Timothy 2:2-ing it to students at American University since the 1990’s. Sarah Krage has been developing leaders for Christ at Eastern Michigan University since the 2000’s. All of them serve as directors of Chi Alpha chapters.

They are examples of the 700 campus ministers and volunteers currently serving over 300 Chi Alpha chapters across the United States. Each week they are spending time reaching students for Christ that are outside the framework and influence of the Church; rooting students in the teaching and practices of Jesus; training students to model and replicate a Christ-honoring life among their peers; and sending them out as examples of Christ to the campuses where they attend and later to the marketplace they were trained for. This year close to 30,000 college students are involved in Chi Alpha chapters. That suggests a lot work, effort, prayer, one-on-ones, and fruit, doesn’t it? Why does our Chi Alpha staff give of themselves so much, day after day, month after month, year after year? They do so because of the Gospel of Jesus.

Read Romans 15:14-20. Take note of verse 20 where the writer of Romans, a man named Paul, said, “It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel of Jesus.”

The name “Chi Alpha means “Christ’s ambassadors” or “His sent ones.” We actually believe that we are called to represent Jesus to the most significant institution in the world today – the college and university campus. We are convinced that if we change the university, we can change the world. We know God has empowered us with His Spirit in order to carry out and fulfill His Great Commission of “making disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:18-20).

We have come to understand that we can influence people to trust Jesus and live for Him. We have watched God accomplish His purposes in and through us (as one part of His Body on earth) for more than 50 years. We can describe alumni whose lives have been transformed by Jesus and are living witnesses of His grace and mercy. They can be found in every state in America and almost every country in the world. God has shown that He knows how to accomplish His work!

The apostle Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, penned these words: “Now brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you have received and on which you have taken your stand” (1 Corinthians 15:1). All of us in Chi Alpha Campus Ministries have a passion to help people (especially students) know the gospel (i.e., good news) of Jesus and take a stand on it for life. Or better stated, “take a stand on Jesus, because He is trustworthy.”

I came to faith in Jesus as a junior at Ohio University because some students in the Chi Alpha chapter at Ohio University reached out to me with the message of Jesus in ways that I could relate to. I later became convinced of who Jesus was and decided to follow Him and His ways. I picked up the same passion they had to present the greatest story ever to as many others as I could find…and I am still living that kind of life thirty years later.

Serve globally. Join the global mission of Chi Alpha by making it your passion to share the message of Jesus in your words and actions. Please God by loving Him and others with passion.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – March 19

I met her in Boston on a divine encounter at Harvard.

Her dad called her “funny nose” and it was a term of endearment for getting the family nose. Her mom died when she was young, but she remembered the time they went to the ballet together. It was awe-inspiring for a six-year old to see the grace, beauty, elegance, and artistry of the dancers on stage. The lines and rhythm, along with the poise and discipline, were mesmerizing to Alana. She saw in her minds eye a picture of herself as a ballerina someday. A year later her mother died unexpectedly and her world shrank into darkness.

She and her dad struggled in Eastern Europe to make life work. Her dad was a tradesman, but it was tough finding steady work as a shoemaker on the road. He played the violin and Alana would dance to amuse their nomadic companions. They traveled with a band of Gypsies for awhile, but the constant moving from town to town was exhausting. In one location they encountered a group of Catholic nuns who offered them room and board in exchange for chores. They quickly agreed. It was the first semblance of home life in years, along with a chance for her dad to start a shoe making business. The nuns offered Alana the chance to go to school. She and her dad would go to street corners and into cafes and bars on weekends where her dad played the violin and Alana danced to the amazement of the crowds. Money was collected in her dad’s violin case on the ground. She and her dad were close and their vagabond lifestyle was working.

She excelled in science, math, and literature and earned a scholarship to Harvard. I happened to run into her one early morning when I was prayerwalking around Harvard Yard, the place where all first year students are housed. I noticed someone walking with shoulders slumped, and when I got close I saw it was a female student. I said, “Good morning, what brings you out so early?” She replied, “I have a great burden on my mind and I need some time and space to think about it.” “I would be glad to listen to your concern, if you wish,” I said.

She shrugged her shoulders, indicating that was okay. She told me her story of coming from Europe to Boston to earn a degree from America’s most famous college, yet something was missing. She loved her first year at Harvard yet wondered if simply graduating from college would fill the void in her heart. “What do you think you are wired to do?” I asked.

She told me the story of going to the ballet with her mom and how that affected her. She also said her dad spoke of her graduating, coming home to eventually take over the family shoe-making business and get back to dancing on weekends, accompanied by her dad on the violin. Then she started to cry. “I don’t want to disappoint my dad,” she said through tear-stained eyes.

“Can I share something that helps me in tough times?” I asked. She shook her head, indicating to go ahead. “It’s a verse from the Bible…from a book of wisdom,” and I recited Proverbs 3:5-6. Her tears increased as she pulled the sleeve of her sweatshirt back to reveal a bracelet, and she said, “Those are the words on the bracelet the nuns gave me as I left home to come to America.”

I said, “It may be that God wired you to be a ballerina,” when she suddenly stood up and ran away. She contacted me years later saying she dropped out of school (with her dad’s ok) and was traveling with a ballet company in Europe. She thanked me for inspiring her to follow her dream. Walk wisely. You never know how God will use you to help someone succeed.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – March 12

I enjoy reading American history. One of my favorite authors, Stephen Ambrose, wrote extensively about World War II, and his work is thought provoking. One difficult aspect of WW2 history is how a part of our fighting forces were treated. When WWII started, many Americans volunteered to fight for their country. But laws of discrimination (called Jim Crow laws) prevented some of our black citizens from doing their part. Segregation was still practiced and black soldiers were treated poorly – some were put in more dangerous jobs than white soldiers, many were denied entry into army specialist schools, and those that excelled were not allowed to command white officers. Sadly, they were even served lower quality food and forced to ride separate military transportation in some towns.

All that started to change on December 26, 1944, during the worst fighting of the Battle of the Bulge. The U.S. Army issued an order that African American volunteers be integrated into white combat units, and that was the beginning of the end of the “Jim Crow” army in America.

It is unfortunate how human nature has contributed to the ills of men and women since the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God and walked away from relationship with Him, they incurred the consequences of a loss of God-given dignity for every person, an inequality between the sexes, and a growing mistrust and mistreatment of others. The loss of harmony between God and Adam and Eve has affected humanity for centuries on many levels.

More than 2,000 years ago, the human race faced the darkest day in its history. Thankfully, the Lord Jesus Christ allowed himself to be crucified for the sins of every human being. In the moments before His eventual death, He issued a victorious cry, “It is finished!” The work that He finished was His perfect life and atoning death on the cross for sinners like you and me.

Jesus’ blood bought and brought redemption and forgiveness to all who would believe in Him, in essence, creating a multi-generational and multi-international army of Christ-followers. The death and resurrection of Jesus demands that blood-bought sinners of all backgrounds and cultures serve together as an interconnected and integrated Body of Jesus – recognizing His Lordship and determining to worship and serve Him – in His battle against Satan.

Read Revelation 7:9-17. The author of Revelation, John, saw a group of people whose lives had been purchased by the blood of Jesus. These people were from every tribe, language, people, and nation, and they sang one song in unity, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne…” (v 10). What Jesus did was expected to impact how each of us lived our lives.

Today is a day to remember that followers of Jesus from different cultures must live out the reality of being purchased by His blood, for His purposes, and for His glory. We must live, work, worship, serve, pray, and honor Jesus side-by-side and arm-in-arm. There is no time or reason to allow the devil to weaken the Church of Jesus through divisive tactics of discrimination, envy, or prejudice. It is time to continue building and strengthening the Unity of the Spirit among brothers and sisters from different cultures. What can you do this week to create an atmosphere of impenetrable unity and genuine love among Christians on campus?

Live communally. Jesus calls us to connect our hearts and lives in united service to make His name the most famous one on campus, in the marketplace, and throughout the world.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – March 5

My parents did not always do nice things for my two brothers and sister and me. No games, TV, or talking with friends UNTIL our homework was done. We were expected to behave in a certain way, do our chores without being asked or reminded, and speak to our parents with respect, or there were consequences. We learned the most loving thing is not always the nicest thing to do.

Jesus did not always do the nicest thing either, back when he walked on the earth. In today’s world of tolerance (where every view and action seems to be equal in value), the words and actions of Jesus would appear to be as troubling as they were in the first century.

I spoke with a student once who was reading the New Testament in a college literature class. She was upset that Matthew wrote in his Gospel about Jesus casting demons out of a man (8:28-34). She argued that God was hateful toward animals because Jesus sent the demons into a herd of pigs and they went over a cliff and drowned in water. “Why would God kill innocent swine?” she asked. “They have just as much a right to life as any human does!” she pleaded.

I said God does not always do “nice” things, but “loving” things. Jesus loved the possessed man so much but knew the demons were destroying him. He freed the man from the demons by commanding them to enter the pigs, and allowed them to perish. The pigs were created by God just like the man was, but He chose to sacrifice them by His sovereign hand. Nice and loving are not necessarily synonymous. By the way, God can exercise love, judgment and wisdom without asking anyone’s permission. When you are sovereign, you can do those sorts of things.

Read Luke 14:25-35. Love is the point here, too.

Jesus said in Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to Me and does not HATE his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he (or she) cannot be my disciple.” That does not sound nice does it? It actually sounds harsh, exclusive, even a bit demanding. What does that have to do with love? Hint: See the first 4 Commandments.

Jesus used the word “hate” to state that our love for Him must be greater than our love for others, and even ourselves. Certainly not a nice thing to say, but consider the implications of His words. Jesus knew that those who followed Him would be forced to choose between their families and the cross (His way of salvation). He knew marriage and family loyalties would be tested and threatened. He knew there would be division…difficulty…decision…and it would not be easy.

Love was the point. Jesus demanded a love that reveals itself in complete surrender and commitment to Him and life in His Kingdom. Jesus said, “Anyone who does not carry his or her cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:27). This is hard stuff.

Think theologically. The cross Jesus died on was not “nice.” Jesus chose to place His body on it for you and me. He willingly allowed spikes to be driven through His bloody hands and feet for you and me. He died in agony for you and me. Not to be nice. Jesus had a far greater purpose – to win us back through extravagant love.

Jesus knows loving others and being nice do not always mean the same thing. Following Jesus means we will be often misunderstood. How do you need to be less “nice” and more loving?

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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