Monthly Archives: June 2012

Monday Motivator – June 25

Is there someone you are trying to reach for Christ? What qualities should they see in you that would motivate them to want to find out about your Savior?

I friend of mine told me the story of a young American family who left home to move into a South American jungle, establishing a home and working to build bridges in order to share the gospel with the nearby tribes. A year passed but the missionaries had made little progress. The local peoples seemed cautious and even afraid of their white-skinned neighbors.

One day the couple’s little girl went down to the river to play. Suddenly a huge snake attacked, injecting deadly venom into her right arm. The frightened parents prayed and then radioed for help, and a plane was dispatched from the capitol with an antidote. An hour later they heard the engine overhead, but the heavy cloud cover prevented the plane from landing. The pilot sent a message, “I am so sorry, but I am running out of fuel and have to head back.” While their daughter lay dying, they listened, as the growl of the plane’s engine grew faint.

By the end of the day, the little girl was dead. With heavy hearts, her dad and brothers prepared a coffin. The saddened family held a burial service near the garden outside their home. They prayed, sang, held hands, cried, and placed flowers on the gravesite. As they held their vigil, the people they had been trying to reach watched from a distance, hidden and undetected in the trees.

Not much later, some women of the tribe visited the grieving mother and told her that they too, had lost children – but they had never seen the calmness she displayed. They wanted to know how she could sing and pray at such a sad time. They asked how her God could enable her to be so peaceful.

Eighteen months after they moved into the jungle, the door was finally open, and many of the tribal leaders and their families came to hear about, believe, and trust in Jesus. All because of what had happened to a sorrow-filled Christian family and how they had handled it.

Read 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10.

The gospel lived and preached by Paul, Silas, and Timothy to the Thessalonians was from God the Father (where it originated), and from the Lord Jesus (due to his atoning death, burial, and resurrection). The power of God (v 5) had delivered the Thessalonians from death to life, and they became imitators of Paul (and by extension, Christ). Paul imitated Christ, the Thessalonians now imitated Paul, and the jungle people in South America now imitated their Caucasian neighbors. And like in the first century, news spread about the Baby who died and rose again.

How do you respond to a story like this? Does it seem unfair that a young girl should die so that others can hear the gospel of Jesus? What does it tell you about the grand scheme of life?

Live communally. Someone may be watching you. In good times and bad, our actions tell people about us – and about our God. What are we showing them? If you are concerned about what happens to those who have never heard the gospel, how then will you live?

Jesus said in Matthew 5:16 to “Let your light shine.” Our actions show the God we know.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – June 18

I grew up in Michigan and was used to winters with cold temperatures, tons of snow, and challenging driving conditions. I have lots of fond memories of snowball fights, ice hockey outdoors on fireman built ponds, ten foot high drifts, and lots of snow shoveling.

Barbara and me (along with Sarah and Josh) moved to Boston in 1996 and lived there for fifteen years. One of my favorite times of year was winter, especially when a “Nor-easter” would hit the coast of New England. Basically, hurricane type conditions would pound the area and combined with artic arc coming down from Canada would dump lots of snow on metro Boston. Our first winter we enjoyed (at least speaking for myself) close to twelve feet of accumulated snow.

Residents would generally have plenty of warning. Weather forecasters often began to predict snowstorms 36 hours before they were scheduled to hit Southern New England. On cold winter days (sunny even), people swarmed into grocery and hardware stores to buy food, extra de-icer mix for their driveway and sidewalk, even an extra shovel. We knew how to prepare for the frequent storms. Tire stores worked overtime to meet the demand for winter treads. The city put all of the salt trucks and plows on overtime notice, pending the severity of the actual storm.

Everyone was talking about the impending storm. Even before the snow started, schools and businesses announced they would be closed for the day. When the storm hit with blowing snow, sleet, and freezing temperatures, most people were safe at home, not trying to get to work, school, or an entertainment function. We were warned, and most of us paid attention.

When we believe a warning, it affects our behavior. It is true in every area of life, including our walk of faith. But many do not pay attention to warnings and end up suffering the consequences.

Read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11.

Paul wrote to the Christians in Thessalonica, reminding them that the day of the Lord would come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night (v 2). His call to action urged them to avoid spiritual lethargy while remaining vigilant, alert, and self-controlled (v 6)…”Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.”

Paul’s challenge is similar to the one Jesus gave when He urged His followers to be watchful and ready, “For the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect” (Matthew 5:24).

If we believe our Lord’s words about His coming, how will it affect our thoughts and actions today? How will they affect our moral decisions, in light of today’s narcissistic culture? How will it affect our short and long term relationships,? How will it affect our tendency to avoid resolving conflict, taking responsibility, and keeping short accounts? How will it affect how we handle our financial resources? How will it affect our character development v.s. simply using our skills to achieve and accomplish personal and professional success?

If Jesus came back tomorrow and asked you for an account of your life, how are you prepared to answer Him? He is coming back, you know, so you better watch out and live in a readiness!

Think theologically. Every Christian should be an expectant UP-looker, not a sleepy onlooker.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – June 11

What are your three greatest fears? How does your belief in God help you face your fears? Or does it? How can you comfort another person who is walking through the valley of fear?

I remember a lecture I heard at M.I.T. years ago when the speaker was describing the advancement of society. He said his own assessment of every century could be remembered by one word. He suggested the word for the 17th century was mathematics; the 18th was natural sciences; the 19th was biology, and the 20th was fear.

The emotion of fear is understood by everyone. But where does it originate? Does it come from an awareness of vulnerability? Does it come from the perceived power of someone who can do us harm? Does it come from our early years of being afraid of the dark, with monsters lurking under the bed or in the closet? Does it come from a legitimate weakness in ourselves? Or were we born with an extra “fear” gene that means we are susceptible to creaking doors and shadows?

Some of our fears are rational and are based on real time danger. Yet some of our fears are irrational, and lack hard evidence (or facts). Rational or not, our fear(s) can cripple us in our service of God and throttle our enjoyment of life.

A quick review of some familiar Scripture passages reveal how our responses to fear are so universal and less than godly: We hide like Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:8); We lie like Abraham (20:2); We compromise our convictions like Aaron (Exodus 32:1-6); We commit sexual sin and murder like David (2 Samuel 11); We run like Jonah (1:3); We deny knowing Jesus like Peter (John 18:15-18) We lie and cheat like Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-10).

How should we respond to fear? I believe the appropriate response to fear is FAITH.

Read Psalm 23.

F = Fix your thoughts and attention on Jesus, not your fears. Allow the character of God, not your emotions or senses, to define reality for you (Hebrews 12:2).

A = Ask God for help and strength. Psalm 46:1-3 is a triumphant confession of trust in God, despite difficult circumstances (see the first part of verse 10 for a bonus takeaway). God answers our cry by giving strength to our souls (Psalm 138:3).

I = Invite others to help you handle your fears. The relationships with and fellowship of other Christ-followers helps us not to have to walk alone (Acts 2:42-47).

T = Trust God even when it does not seem that He is near. Remember Psalm 56:3-4, “When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God, I trust.”

H = Help others to face their fears. 2 Corinthians 1:4 reminds us that God comforts us in our troubles (partly), so that we can comfort those with the same help we received.

Let’s face it, fear is a normal emotion. Faith though, should be just as normal a response to all of our fear(s). The next time your fears attempt to put you on the defensive, pressure you to cheat, lie, or break God’s commandments, make sure you run straight to God. There is a reason that God is the Hero of Psalm 23 (I counted at least seven). The real question is will you trust Him?

Grow devotionally. Give your fears to God and use His Word to walk in Faith.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – June 4

You read about the urgency everyday. A famous football player commits suicide and everyone wonders “why?” What signs did family, friends, and former teammates miss? An airplane crash in Nigeria and everyone on board is dead. Was it pilot error, equipment malfunction, or weather related? What could have prevented it?

A wife is in tears outside her home. Her husband died tragically in a jailhouse fire that started by accident. The tragedy is harder to accept because it should have been avoided, but she failed to raise the bail money on time. If she had, her husband would be alive.

Rick had been in jail on breaking and entering charges. Denise spent three months trying to raise his bond, but it was taking longer than she expected. The irony of the story was that she had been in court earlier that week asking for help. But unexpectedly, a fire in the county jail killed her husband and three other inmates before anyone could get the fire contained.

Do we feel the same urgency for the welfare of our friends as Denise did for Rick’s freedom? How concerned are we for our family, friends, colleagues, and associates in light of eternity? They too, are facing a charge for wrongdoing before the real King and Judge. They may not be aware of it, but we know they are running out of time to deal with the situation. For them though, the solution is a different kind of freedom. Far from a parole, Christianity offers a new birth, a new life, a new power, and a new future.

Read 2 Corinthians 5:11-21.

This section of the New Testament is where the name Chi Alpha comes from. We take our name, mission, and calling from the apostle Paul’s words to be “ministers of reconciliation, as though God were making His appeal, through us.” When Paul wrote this second letter to the Corinthians, he shifted into overdrive in chapter 5, and you can sense the urgency he felt for the people of Corinth. With passion he urged his readers to “be reconciled to God” (verse 20), or get right in a legal and relational sense.

Just as Denise recognized that her husband had been arrested for a crime, all of us are justly accused of the sins we have committed. But how senseless for us to suffer the penalty when it is so avoidable. God has made redemption possible through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection on the cross. Everyone has a chance for an eternal pardon now and when you die. God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, in order that we could be cleared of our wrongdoing against our Creator. Like the prodigal son in Luke 15, each of us can now return, forgiven and welcomed, by our heavenly Father.

Denise had to work very hard to raise the bail money for Rick. Each of us has to put our faith, hope, and trust in the person and work of Christ to be set free. And the offer of pardon is free.

Who knows how much time anyone has? It is true that everyone is responsible for their own decision to follow or ignore Jesus – but we who are followers of Him still have work to do. We do not know when our time will be up. So let’s keep telling others about Jesus before it is too late. What can you do this week to reach out to someone who does not yet know Christ? Serve globally. Do not waste today – show people the way to God by your words and actions.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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