Monthly Archives: December 2012

Monday Motivator – December 31

The World Missions Summit 3 (TWMS3) concluded on December 30 after three days of inspiration and mobilization. TWMS is Chi Alpha’s Expedition to the peoples of the world. The 2012 theme was “Because I Care,” inspired from 1 John 4:19, “We love because He first loved us.”  TWMS (www.twms3.org) is a partnership between Chi Alpha Campus Ministries and Assemblies of God U.S. and World Missions.

The atmosphere in Fort Worth, TX over the last few days of December has been electric as well over 4,000 college students, Chi Alpha missionary staff, and missionaries from around the U.S. and the world gathered to hear about how God is building His church from continent to continent. Early reports said approximately 1,200 students dedicated themselves to a “give a year of mission service (after graduation) and consider a lifetime.” What a sight that was to watch young men and women streaming to the front of the convention center to volunteer themselves to live out the message of Jesus and take it to the ends of the earth. Revelation 7:9 is happening!

Our daughter Sarah was at the first World Missions Summit and was part of a group of students that numbered close to a thousand and led the way in launching a student volunteer movement. She graduated and spent a year working with Latin American Child Care in Lima, Peru.

Scott Martin and his wife Crystal co-lead TWMS, and he wrote a welcome in TWMS booklet that Jesus did what He did because He cared. He fed people, healed people, raised the dead and most importantly died for the worst of us…all because He cared. Scott said he wants to care like Jesus cares. But that begs the question as to what, practically, that looks like in our lives today? I believe our caring is reflected in the way we spend, give, love, serve, pray, and treat others. It is fleshed out in the way we live, because we need all of those expressions of our caring to be influenced by God’s perspective and power.

It was amazing being at TWMS3 and seeing, experiencing, and observing a large crowd “gut check,” as to how much we really care about God and His work. What motivates our attitudes and actions? Are the things we care about the things that move the heart of God? Are the things we hold dear the things that Jesus died for? How far are we willing to go to align what we care about with what Jesus cares about? If we are honest, we should admit that it takes effort to shed our narcissistic tendencies and line up our priorities with the things God cares about.

A missionary friend said the ongoing challenge for all of us is the alignment and maintenance of our life and choices with God’s will and redemptive plan. The joy of the past few days was watching and hearing of so many who are praying and deciding to live lives that honor the Lord by their intentional choices.  What do you care about that your life actually substantiates?

Consider taking the 30 Day LIVE DEAD journey that many of us took before TWMS. Go to http://www.live-dead.org and get a copy of the live / dead journal for 30 days of prayer for unreached peoples and your role in God’s great rescue operation. But be warned: “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone” (John 12:24). I am leaving TWMS3 with a renewed commitment that I want to care about the right things

Serve globally. Join the movement of Chi Alpha in being willing to give our lives because we care about what Jesus cares about. It is ultimately about extending His Kingdom, right?

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Monday Motivator – December 24

I grew up playing sports under the tutelage of some good coaches, including my dad, all of whom taught me how to play and perform. I played on some teams that excelled and achieved great victories for personal and team accomplishments. I was expected to work hard, be a team player, listen to constructive criticism from my coach, be a good sport, and never show up an opponent. I was expected to always do my best, and generally did.

God demands a lot from us as well. The Scriptures say He demands absolute perfection, with no hint of compromise. He will not look at a list of good deeds, encouraging words, athletic achievements, tearful prayers, religious acts, even moments of self-sacrifice with any special care. You and I could argue, even plead that, “We are doing the best we can, or know how,” but that won’t sway Him either. The Bible is clear that if you are not perfect, there is no heaven for you. That is the human race’s really bad news about God.

When it comes to being accepted by God and becoming His child, Scripture says He does not look at us or our good deeds based on our current status. The prophet Isaiah thundered to the Israelites that what they thought were good deeds were actually “filthy rags” in comparison to God’s holiness (Isaiah 64:6). Because of original sin, everything we do or say is stained badly, no matter how good we think we are.

Yet all of this applies to the time in our lives before we acknowledged Jesus, the Son of God, as our reconciler and representative before God the Father. The Older and Newer Testaments present Jesus as the only human being who lived a perfect, and sinless life. Scripture argues that since Jesus took all of our sin (even our sin-stained “good works” on Himself on the cross, shed His “true” blood, and then died in our place, God the Father now sees His perfect Son when He looks at those who have trusted in Him. The Father, who demand perfection in us, sees only perfection in us – because we’re seen by Him in a new light, through the lens of the perfection Jesus made available for us. That is the human race’s really good news about God.

It all started long, long ago in a manger. That’s why Linus stated it the way he did when he described the real meaning of Christmas to Charlie Brown: “It is good news of great joy, that today a Savior has been born…” Matthew’s recording of Jesus’ words in 5:48 that, “Be perfect therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” is now possible.

Read Ephesians 2:1-10.

Once you are secure under the blood of Christ, how does that affect your behavior? Since each of us still struggles with our old sin nature, we will not be perfect, right? Yet Scripture says that by grace through faith, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph 2:10).

Have you accepted the sacrificial death of Jesus with its promise of eternal life as the covering for your sin? If not, what is holding you back? Are you seeking to learn how God wants you to use your life and gifts (with His power) to build His Kingdom, not yours? Walk wisely. When you become a follower of Jesus by trusting in what He has done for you, you become perfect in the Father’s eyes. Merry Christmas.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Monday Motivator – December 17

I was spending time in a cemetery recently as part of my quarterly routine of silence and solitude. My goal is to be quiet and walk with the Lord, reflecting on a passage of Scripture and allowing the Holy Spirit to talk to me. I structure my day into segments of reading, meditation, and listening, with no effort to ask or petition for anything but His presence. I walk, sit, relax, and even spent some time reading the headstones of those who have died. You’d be surprised at what is written (or not): many just have their last name, some have full name, date of birth and death, and some have a phrase (loving wife), or a description…one I saw said, “ Friend of Immigrants.”

It got me thinking of how my immigrant relatives were received when they first arrived in America from Poland. I am grateful for the reception they received at Ellis Island.

America has been a great international gathering place and I believe this is no accident, but an intentional and important part of God’s strategic plan for world evangelization – especially when you realize countries are closed or closing to missionary efforts.

The American Church, and those of us on campus, and/or interested in university ministry, have an unprecedented opportunity to play a key role in fulfilling Christ’s Commission described in Matthew 28:18-20. By demonstrating Christ’s love-in-action to foreign students studying here, praying for and winning them to Christ, and discipling them in their new found faith, we can literally influence nations for God’s Kingdom.

The best part about reaching out to an international student is that it is so easy. You do not need any special abilities, background, or cross-cultural qualifications. You do not need to learn a foreign language, travel and adjust to a new culture, or raise a lot of money. All you have to do is be a loving friend. And Chi Alpha can help you get started.

Here are reasons supporting the idea that we can reach the world without leaving campus.

International Ministry is a Biblical Principle. The idea of sharing Christ with men and women temporarily away from home is not new. The Book of Acts cites the accounts of the Ethiopian eunuch, Cornelius the centurion, and Lydia the merchant.

International Students Here Today Include Tomorrow’s World Leaders. Other countries send the “best of their best” (see below).

This is An Answer to Prayer Regarding Closed Countries. I once discipled a Chinese student who returned home and ascended to a top-level government position.

Christian Internationals Return to Their Country as Missionaries. Imagine how effective a student could be…who faces no language or cultural barriers, does not need to spend time raising a mission budget, has credibility and contacts, and is a Christ-follower.

Do you have room in your life for one international student? Live communally. You will find that investing in the life of a student is a rewarding and fun adventure. Get involved in what God is up to on campus. Make sure you are a “friend of the visitor” among us.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Monday Motivator – December 10

Those of us in Chi Alpha enjoy the privilege of working with students from various geographic, cultural, and spiritual backgrounds. We are always excited to welcome new students looking to grow in their character, faith, and values by asking questions, meeting new folks with a common interest, and learning about Christianity for the first time.

As I look at a campus, I realize there are significant areas of the student population that are focal points of prospective “leadership” that need to be tapped. While every student is a potential “Christ-centered laborer,” I believe athletics, student government, campus organizations, and the Greek system tend to draw people with inherent leadership capacity. Therefore, I would spend time getting to know varsity captains, dormitory leaders, campus government leaders, presidents of international student associations, campus newspaper editors, and Greek presidents. Read 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.

One of the areas of campus work that I enjoy is ministry to students in fraternities and sororities. Greek life is an integral part of many campuses and universities because:

1. You can experience brotherhood and sisterhood. This is a great opportunity to meet and develop lifelong friends through a common bond in a values-based organization.

2. You can experience leadership. The Greek system is an excellent place to develop the character and competencies that leadership requires. It is startling to recognize that 76% of those serving in the U.S. Congress and 85% of Fortune 500 executives were involved in Greek life while in college.

3. You can experience academic success. Greeks aspire to the highest academic standards. Brothers and sisters often host study sessions, mentor younger members of their chapter, keep notes and share material from classes with others in their house.

4. You can experience healthy social life. Fraternities and sororities host parties, mixers, trips, and formals that provide Greek members with a break from the rigors and stress of campus life, as well as a chance to interact with students from other houses on campus. Often the Greek system is a center of college social life, so it can be a great intersection of students from across the campus.

5. You can experience service and justice. Every Greek house has a commitment to serving others. Projects are undertaken to care for others, raise money and people power to alleviate suffering, and make the community a better place to live.

6. You can experience who God is and why that matters. Weekly small groups, prayer, and chapter specific discussions are a few of the ways we can challenge students to wrestle with the claims of Christ and the implications for their lives.

Think theologically. Jesus invested in a few for the sake of the many. One of the best ways to influence a campus is to influence the “natural leaders” of a campus. Many of those leaders are in the Greek system. Pray for the Greeks on campus. Connect with Greek presidents. May the Gospel impact the men and women involved in Greek life.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Monday Motivator – December 3

I grew up enjoying TV shows like Gunsmoke and Bonanza. John Wayne and Clint Eastwood westerns were always a treat, especially since they played good guys who would wreak havoc on the bad guys.

While the bad guys were outlaws, their names are etched in the fabric of American history alongside our heroes. Names like Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, Jesse James, and Billy the Kid are immortalized in our folklore. Just not for the best reasons.

Billy the Kid was 14 when his life was interrupted and intersected by the gun barrel of Sheriff Pat Garrett. Jesses James took a bullet in the back from an ornery gang member in his mid 30’s. Butch Cassidy survived all the way to age 42, until he ran into a band of Bolivians that did not appreciate his penchant for bank robbery. These are not the kind of fellows any parent hopes their daughter would ever bring home to impress them.

The lives and deaths of these “famous” western outlaws find countless parallels in the 21st century and demonstrate once again the truths of Scripture. Jesus once said to Peter that, “Those who live by the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). The apostle Paul told the Galatians, “God will not be mocked…you will reap what you sow” (6:7).

But do those ideas hold up as we examine history past and present? Evil people still die of old age. Nazis escaped prosecution after World War 2 and lived in luxury for decades after killing millions, just like mass murderers Stalin, Pol-Pot and Mao Tse-Tung.

Read Proverbs 1:8-19. How do we assess the veracity of the Proverbs?

First, we need to recognize the genre (or literary style) of wisdom literature. Proverbs are not promises, but general truths. It does not stand to reason that everyone who lives violently will die in that same manner. While everyone will eventually die, it does not mean every good person will make it to their 70’s or beyond, either.

Second, the Bible balances everyday reality with brutally honest (and hard) questions like Jeremiah asked in 12:1, “Why do the wicked prosper?” When the God-lover Job lost his children and his wealth in one day, he yelled to the heavens in 13:1, “Why did I not perish at birth?” These good men learned the hard way that on planet Earth, the idea of justice is often worst case, an illusion, or a cruel lie. Best case, God will handle it.

Third, all the Proverbs in the Bible are trustworthy. God will judge everyone. God cannot be mocked. A man or woman will reap what they sow. What you are in secret will eventually come into the light. If we could see our lives from the perspective of God’s viewpoint, we would understand that no one gets away with murder.

Would Billy the Kid have benefited from reading the Proverbs? For all we know, his parents told him what I told my kids, “Read and practice a Proverb a day for the rest of your lives, and you’ll stay out of trouble.” Grow devotionally. The Proverbs are God’s eternal truths in bite-sized pieces you can easily digest. Proverbs aren’t promises. They are practical life truths that when applied, will keep your picture out of the Post Office.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized