Monthly Archives: March 2013

Monday Motivator – March 25

A friend of mine bought a new computer that is faster than his old one and has more space, memory, and features – all designed to make his work easier. He brought it home, unpacked it in his downstairs office, set it up, and then decided to wait to play with it until the next day. He merely turned it on and went upstairs.

But by mid morning the next day he was agitated and called me. He had trouble figuring out how the slick new programs worked (I suggested the on-line tutorials). He said he had some time sensitive assignments due and could not wait to get them finished.

Finally in complete frustration, he went in search of his old computer. It was still tucked away on a corner desk in the washroom. He lugged it back, unhooked the new machine, and plugged in the old one, right next to it.

It was old, but he hated change. It took up a lot more desk space, but at the same time, he knew the software and what all the buttons did. He eventually completed the work that needed to get done. Yet he could see the newer (and better) machine to his right.

Read Galatians 1:1-10 and 3:26-28.

The first century Christians in Galatia were a lot like my friend in their walk with Jesus.  They had learned about salvation by grace through faith (plus nothing) from the apostle Paul. Some of them were slipping back into old ways though. They were feeling a bit nostalgic and were backtracking to their old cumbersome, legalistic ways. They wanted to keep some of the same laws they had before. They were even insisting that a person had to avoid certain foods and/or follow certain traditions to be saved, or right with God.

So Paul attempted to set them straight by writing the Book of Galatians. In no uncertain terms, he said, “You foolish Galatians. You are falling back into your old ways. You are trying to please God by your good works. Stop it. It will not be enough. Nothing you do can earn God’s favor.”

There is a message here for us. Are we guilty of the same approach? Do we fall back into our old patterns of trying to please God by being good? Anyone who accepts the work of Christ on the cross can have their sin condition forgiven. But knowing you are secure in Christ, do you still try to earn God’s favor? Do you still secretly think your good works, high morals, somewhat consistent stewardship, and random acts of kindness are contributing to your salvation? Remember what Paul said to the Galatians in 4:9?

Do you think God has to accept you into heaven because of who you are or what you do? Of which of your good works or spiritual practices are you most proud? Why? Should you be? Have you slipped back into old ways of thinking you can earn God’s salvation?

Salvation is by grace alone. It comes solely through faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). Doing good works, obeying the Law of God (even with the Holy Spirit’s help), or living sacrificially never saved anyone. Do not slip back into the old, legalistic thinking that it does. Think theologically. Obey God and live out His ways because you love Him.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2013 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – March 18

When was the last time you turned your back on God? When you turned back to Him, He was still there, right? Why?

I am a long time sports fan. I grew up in a family that played and watched sports. I was blessed to play and excel in big time college athletics. I even played on championship level teams. So I know all about fickle fans. I have enjoyed the warmth of a cheering crowd and the thrill of a standing ovation, where people do all sorts of things to show their love. Win a big game at the end, beat a tough opponent, set a record, and you’d think we found the cure for cancer. Not a discouraging word could be heard.

Fast forward to the next game, big match, or tournament. Many of the same fans, too. Our team didn’t change, but the results did, and the crowd turned on us like an angry dog after a stray cat. Boos rolled down onto the field from the people seated all over the stadium. Angry fans shouted stuff (abusive even) as we walked back to the home locker room. We already felt bad about losing, and some people did not know how to walk away from a dejected team without letting us have it one more time.

Sports fans (and most human beings) can be extremely fickle. We can be madly in love with something one moment and treat it with disdain the next. With one bad lecture, a professor can go from being a pretty darn good teacher to the most boring. Miss paying your tuition bill, and you find yourself yelling at your parents for their late check, even though they are putting you through school. We often turn on friends, making enemies faster than they can say, “What happened?” Yet if anyone knows about the kind of fickle people we can be, it’s Jesus.

Read Matthew 21:1-17 and 27:19-23.

One day Jesus was being adored, worshiped, honored, and ushered into the Holy City of Jerusalem (21:1-17). Before the week was over, the people of the same city were calling for Him to be killed in the most cruel and painful way imaginable – by crucifixion. They were so eager to have him killed that they were willing to let a convicted murderer go free in his place (27:19-23).

It is easy to criticize those folks in the first century for flip-flopping from being Jesus followers to Jesus haters, but we need to understand that most or all of us would have done the same thing. It’s hard wired into our nature. We all suffer from short memory syndrome and a “what have you for me lately” tendency.

That is why God’s love for us is awesome. The Creator loves His people unconditionally. In spite of our inclination to be wishy-washy in our love for Him, He told us He would never leave us or forsake us (Matthew 28:19-20). We may indeed be fickle fans, or fickle faith filled followers, but we can always count on this: We have a faithful God.

What do you have to do to remind yourself not to be fickle in your relationship with God? Who do you know is a rock-steady believer? What can you learn from them? Grow devotionally. Try to be as loyal to God as He is to you.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2013 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – March 11

All of us are happy and even more, fulfilled, when we are expressing the character and gifts that reflect who we really are. Often we get a revealing glimpse of these gifts early in life. I recall in sixth grade becoming aware of my athletic abilities as well as a propensity for encouraging others. My grandparents used to say there are moments in childhood when the door opens and the future is let in a bit.

I believe the Creator calls and enables us to achieve our God-given destiny along the line of our giftedness, but the purpose is for our stewardship and service, not selfishness. Gifts alone do not help us discern our calling. They line up in accordance with other factors such as our family heritage, experiences, our response to God’s Lordship and acceptance of His guidance, and our unrelenting readiness to do what He says and shows us.

A sense of calling should precede a choice of mate, job, and/or career, and the primary way to discover calling is along the line of what we are created and gifted to be. My parents were fond of saying, “Do what you are,” not, “You are what you do.”  I grew up in a family and an environment that inspired me to be the best Mike Olejarz I could be.

In the Scriptures, gifts are not ours for our own prosperity or adulation. The Bible teaches that we have nothing that was not given to us. Our gifts are ultimately God’s, and we are called to be “stewards,” responsible for the prudent management and use of our time, talent, and treasure for the glory of God. This is why our gifts are always “for the sake of others,” whether in the community of Christ, or the broader society in which we reside.

I reflected on this reality after a Chi Alpha staff conference where I observed many of my colleagues: Dennis Gaylor, our national director, who continues to encourage people to use their gifts in various portfolios; Curtis Cole, who administrates national Chi Alpha and keeps us focused; Bob Marks, Personnel Director, who always has time to listen to the cares for our staff; Scott and Crystal Martin, who lead our movement to fulfill Christ’s global mandate; Dr. Harvey Herman, who leads our National Training Team, which is helping model and strengthen a learning and leadership culture.

Area Directors [Stefanie Chappell, Mario Solari, Eric Treuil, Steve Lehmann, Mike Amiot, Paul Austin, and Winston Bui] have worked to implement organizational best practices. Gregg Glutting trains and coaches many staff to get their budget raised. Dick and Joy Schroeder mentor and encourage many staff from their wealth of ministry.

Chi Alpha Campus Ministries, the ministry I have served in since 1982, is full of men and women who have listened to God’s call, and are using their gifts for God’s purposes.

Read 1 Timothy 1:6-14. Verse 6 says, “Fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you.”

Are you in the place where you are likely to hear God’s call? Do not make the mistake of trying to plan your career, and ignore developing the self-awareness about who you are and how God has wired you. God has created you and your gifts for a place of His choosing, and you will only be fully “you” when you are in alignment with God’s purpose. Serve globally. Do what you are. Use your gifts to build His Kingdom.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2013 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – March 4

Most of us won’t have to wait until we die to be punished for our various misdeeds, especially when it comes to handling our finances. Even those fortunate to receive Christ’s forgiveness face “pocketbook” choices daily that have consequences. The choices we make can lead to disciplined and charitable fiscal living. Or we can succumb to temptations and fatal traps.

My hope is you will bring a little prudence into your financial stewardship while avoiding a few deadly debt sins.

1. Remember that pride still goes before a fall. People tend to feel overly optimistic about their ability to pay back debt, stay healthy, and hope their technology maintains its performance. But cars do need repairs, cavities need to be filled, and insurance may not cover a surgery. Many students do not prepare for worst-case scenarios. You should have an emergency fund. It’s not if it happens, but when.

2. Remember that envy colors our perceptions. One of my alumni works in advertising and told me, “What we decide is reasonable to consume is what we view being consumed around us.” People get caught up trying to keep up with what they see on TV, believing they should own the same things others own, even when it is beyond their ability to afford. It’s easy to feel left out and far behind, but do you always need the newest stuff?

3. Remember not to be slothful with your finances. Finances can be complicated and require paying attention to some of the most dreaded of all things: numbers. Failure to pay attention to school loan terms and due dates can have severe consequences. Many students have no idea what type of loan(s) they have – relying on their parents to handle them. Some students never take the time to get the big picture of their finances. Avoiding stuff is easy. Paying attention is hard, especially when confronted with the unpleasant reality of a hefty credit card bill or struggling to learn investing basics just to enroll in a company-sponsored retirement plan at their first job. Too often, students don’t study their finances as intensely as they should to even understand the benefits of compound interest.

4. Remember not to get greedy when borrowing. One of my alumni made this mistake once – she thought, “Why buy an economy car when you can get a loan for twice as much and ride around in style?” She added, “I’m already borrowing $10,000, so what’s another $5,000?” Over-buying, or greed, is a trap into which students can easily stumble. A dollar is not always a dollar in our minds, my grandmother once said. Some days a dollar will be more valuable to you than others. So will loose change.

My wife and I taught our kids to learn not to buy on impulse and plan every purchase carefully. If you don’t have the money now — save until you do.

All of us need to develop a strategy for our finances…this is a personal responsibility. Do a financial audit. Sit and talk with your parents about their strategy. Many Chi Alpha chapters teach a class on financial stewardship. Read the wisdom of the Scriptures. Take the Financial Peace University seminar offered by Dave Ramsey. Walk wisely. Pride, envy, sloth, and greed (4 of 7 deadly sins) do not need to wreck your finances or future.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2013 by Mike Olejarz

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