Monthly Archives: January 2013

Monday Motivator – January 28

It wasn’t my fault. I was born that way. Call it whatever you want – lame, crippled, disabled, handicapped – my entire life has been affected and defined by all of the things I could not do.

I was real young when I realized that I would never be able to jump off the porch like the other kids, play catch with my dad, ride a bicycle, throw and skip rocks off the water in the local pond, or be dared to walk along the top of a narrow wall. I could never chase the ice cream truck for an orange popsicle. Never. Ever. I was stuck inside watching the other kids play.

At some point I figured the paralysis in my legs infected my mind and I began to feel sorry for myself. I began to believe the taunts and wisecracks of some of the neighbor kids. The daily grind seemed to involve going with the status quo because there was no other way out of the darkness. Even my parents and siblings seemed resigned to the apparent reality – I was in need of regular care, and in some people’s minds – I was a broken person and was even disposable.

They would carry me to school but the teacher wasn’t ready for someone of my status. My parents were asked to not make the other students get behind, and therefore I was asked to leave.  I started to work at an earlier age than normal, where my family would carry and leave me in a high traffic area and come later and carry me home. They asked how many coins were dropped in my cup at the corner. I was told to speak to those passing by because silent beggars are ignored. I was reminded over and over, “You have to be aggressive…get in their face.” But it is hard to do when you cannot stand on your own two feet. Make them look at you and realize how much better they have it. The guiltier they feel, the more they might give. But they never asked me how it felt to have a career of begging and being pathetic in the eyes of so many.

Read Acts 3:1-16.

It seemed like any other day when I asked two men passing by for money. They stopped and looked at me. Man to man, eye to eye. They stared at me and the taller man said words that started a sequence of events that I will never forget, “Hey pal, I don’t have any money.” “Yeah, right,” I thought to myself, “another working man who looks down on me as a lower class bum.” Then he said something else about Jesus Christ, grabbed my hand and pulled me up. For the first time in my life I COULD WALK ON MY OWN.

I started walking, then jumping, dancing, and running…and praising the name of the God I just heard about. The people who had been dropping coins in my jar for as long as I remember could not believe what they saw me doing on the sidewalk and in the street. Neither could I.

I tell you that we are all born with something we did not ask for. My spirit was as dead as my legs, but no longer. Both had been re-generated as Jesus Christ set me free – body and soul. I often find myself jumping in the air and swatting at a leaf on a low-lying branch for no reason. But every time I do, I praise the God of heaven and earth. Wouldn’t you?

Walk wisely. What aspect of your life have you often excused by saying, “I can’t help it, I was born that way.” What are you willing to let God do in your life to make you whole? Do you believe that God can help you overcome any physical, mental, relational, or spiritual barrier? Jesus stands ready to forgive and heal your “paralysis” and watch you jump for joy.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2013 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – January 21

How do you respond when you hear about a friend’s sin? Are you more of a one-to-one helpful reconciler, or are you hesitant about offering forgiveness? Does what the transgression is affect how you react to your friend’s dilemma? Which friend do you need to talk to about such a situation today? How will you handle it? To whom are you in debt for having the courage to talk to you about something bad you were doing?

A good friend of mine came to me to discuss some choices he had made recently.  We had been meeting in a small group of men and have walked through life together. Over the years, we have cultivated honesty and transparency and sought to live the admonition of James 5:16 to “confess your faults to one another and pray you may be healed.” Unknown to me, he had violated Scripture and felt he needed someone to help him extricate himself from the consequences of his actions. I was one of several he contacted for assistance because he said trusted me to handle the Scriptures and his situation with dignity and respect.

What a tremendous experience we have had.  My friend acknowledged what he had done and admitted his discomfort, saying, “it is never easy to step into the light, especially when you know you have done wrong.” He added that he wanted to live his life according to Jesus’ teaching and it was time to right the wrong way he had been living. He said he had been with some friends from work who were not Christians, and made a decision he did not feel great about.

One thing he said was encouraging, but sad, “Thanks for listening to me and being willing to help me get out of the hole I am in. My other friends are talking about it, but not with me or to me. Their attitude is ‘look what we got him to do…’” I guess it is too convenient to talk behind someone’s back rather than deal with the messy stuff of life in a constructive manner.

Read Galatians 6:1-3.

I know it is never easy to confess, repent, and get back on track. It seems way too easy to confess your sins to a Holy God, and very difficult to do with your less-than-holy (when compared to God) Christian friends. I was impressed with the courage my friend showed in coming forward to ask for help.  He risked a lot to approach a few of us to help him in a time of need, trusting we would not reject him from a sense of spiritual superiority or holier-than-thou judgment.

All of us have been on both ends of this challenging process. Either we were the one who needed to come forward in humility and confession, or we were the ones who should have confronted a friend who we know needed to get help for an action or attitude that was not worthy of a Christ-follower. It is apparent that allowing someone to dangle in the experience is not the most loving thing to do. It also slays your pride to have to admit you have sinned by talking about it to a flesh-and-blood person that you have to face. But that is why it is called “tough honesty.”

Step number one in Jesus’ instruction for dealing with your own or someone else’s sin is always to tackle it one to one (Matthew 18:15). The Bible does talk about confronting sin publicly – but only after repeated confrontations (v 16-17).  The goal is to be restored to healthy relationships.

Live communally.  Every Christian is responsible for his or her sin. We make matters worse when our treatment is worse than the disease. A true friend tells you what you need to hear.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2013 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – January 14

Martin Luther, the German church leader whose efforts led to the Protestant Reformation in the 1500’s, was to have said, “Any Christian worth his or her salt should memorize the Book of Romans and be able to quote it on request.” I’d settle for chapter eight as a huge start and win. But Luther knew the depth and significance of Paul’s letter to the Romans and what it meant.

One of the keys to Bible study is learning to ask the right questions of the text so we can understand what the text meant to the original hearers. This is true of Romans 8, where the apostle Paul was answering a series of perplexing questions posed in chapter 7. What is fascinating is the questions being asked in the first century are some of the same ones we ask.

Read Romans 8 (and chapter 7 to be ready).

First question: If I keep breaking God’s laws, will He continue to forgive me? Answer: Yes, if you are right with God. Read 8:1-4. Paul argues that if we have trusted in Jesus Christ, we are free from condemnation in God’s sight (v 1). Jesus came to earth, took on our humanity, lived a sinless life to establish His credentials as a perfect substitute, and vanquished sin and Satan head-on. He became the sin offering for every human being. Because of that act, He set us free from the old routine we try of let’s-try-and-please-God-by-our good-works.

Second question: Am I doomed to live in perpetual defeat until I die? Answer: No. God provided His Spirit so we can learn and be empowered to live a holy life. We can win (i.e., live a God-honoring life) by relying on the Holy Spirit. Read 8:5-9. To walk in the Spirit is to be filled with the Spirit. It means to follow His example and lead (even prompting) and remain under His control. We are to regularly and consciously give Him control of every area of our lives. Do you need strength to pray about not robbing a bank to pay your tuition bill? How do you avoid the old tendency you had to use your words to ridicule someone? You ask the Spirit for His help.

In the world we live, we will never reach the place where we are satisfied with ourselves and no longer susceptible to our old way of life and the things that tempted us to live lives that dishonored God. God knows that. But we can continually improve on the choices we make, while strengthening and determining our actions in order to live in victory. The day is coming when we will be given new bodies that are completely under the Spirit’s control (v 10-11). But until then, we have been given the Spirit’s help to utilize. When we cooperate with God, it is possible to walk in the Spirit and not sin. Want more evidence? Read 2 Peter 1:3-11.

Third question: How can I be sure that God will keep on loving me? Answer: We can trust God because He has shown that He lives what He says. Read 8:35-39. Paul was pretty ecstatic when he reflected on all God has done for us. God’s supreme demonstration of His love for each of us in the past is actual evidence of what He will do for us in the future. If Jesus is at God’s right hand praying for us (i.e., standing in the gap…and He is), will God pay any less attention to the charges brought against us by the devil? Absolutely not!

Now do you see why Luther felt every follower of Christ should have Romans memorized? Paul closed the much-loved eighth chapter of Romans by listing the kinds of things, living or dead, that cannot separate us from God’s love (read 35-39 one more time). Think theologically. Nothing natural or supernatural can defeat us, because of whose we are. We are safe in Christ.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2013 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – January 7

When was the last time you practiced the discipline of meditation? What sort of books do you read, TV shows and movies do you watch, and radio or Sirius stations do you listen to? How appropriate are they in reinforcing Biblical standards of meditation?

The Bible certainly encourages people to practice the art, or discipline of meditation. God told Joshua in 1:8 that he was to be faithful to God’s Word by talking about it (Deut 6:7), meditating on it, and obeying it. The Psalms in particular, highlights meditation (Psalm 1:2, 77:12, 145:5). Yet many questions remain.

Is there a proper posture, position, or location for meditation? Are there appropriate words or phrases or ideas that we should concentrate on? Is there a formal, informal, or complicated process to follow to ensure maximum results?

We can read the history of the Church and learn that men and women who desired to draw near to God often left home and family to spend their lives in the desert meditating. Does that mean we all have to follow that example?

Fortunately the Bible does give us some sound guidance on the topic of meditation – especially by telling us what we should meditate on. A reading of Psalm 119 underscores the value and necessity of focusing on the character and acts of God: His love, laws, works, standards, thoughts, ways, provisions, and miracles.

Read Psalm 119:9-32.

The Psalmist said in 77:11 that, “he will remember the deeds of the Lord.” He said in 119:97, “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it day and night.” Psalm 143:5 says we should always remember the days of long ago when God worked among peoples and nations…and what His hands have done.

The New Testament reinforces this theme when the apostle Paul told his young minister-in-training Timothy to meditate on sound doctrine, i.e., the teachings he had received from Paul (1 Timothy 4:11-16). He also sent words of encouragement to the followers of Christ in the city of Philippi, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8)

God has given us two books to enjoy and drink deeply of: Scripture and nature. It seems that when we give attention to lush landscapes, vibrant music, beautiful paintings, acts of kindness, family photographs, working in a garden, reading books that honor God and His creation, or think of and inspire good works in others, we are involved in contemplation that may lead to true meditation of the One True God.

Time spent reflecting on the good, right, just and beautiful things God has created and given us is a part of this important spiritual discipline. Grow devotionally. You and I must focus on and apply the words of the Bible to the process of meditation. What can you do today to dwell on Christ-honoring things, as well as Christ Himself?

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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