Monthly Archives: May 2013

Monday Motivator – May 27

What is your first reaction to difficulty, or even a crisis?

They are tough, disciplined, bold, and even a bit boisterous. They are Marines after all. Sadly we hear now and then about someone walking on patrol and accidentally stepping on a hidden land mine. The explosion takes their legs and nearly their life.

I have heard and seen many stories about such incidents. Several stuck with me, even though I can’t remember all of the details. Many former soldiers travel and speak at schools, churches, and patriotic gatherings. One young man named Lee talked about how God got his attention through the horrible loss of legs he suffered.

He described the events of that day so vividly that I found myself shivering in fear, wondering if I would have the courage to walk a patrol in similar circumstances. You would think that soldiers like Lee, who won a duel with death would fear nothing. But he told a story about the governor of his state wanting to meet him to discuss a political matter about wounded warriors, something Lee was actively lobbying for. Full of confidence leading up to the meeting, Lee said he began trembling shortly before the meeting was to begin. When the governor and his advisors arrived, Lee did the only thing he could – he prayed.

Even though he had been praying about the meeting for days, he did not hesitate to do a little last second prepping – panic prayer – when crunch time came. We all know what that feels like, right? Lee said strength from God helped him face the conversation and do his best.

Read Nehemiah 2:1-9.

Nehemiah saw the king of Persia every day. As a captive from Judah, he was made cupbearer to the king, a highly trusted (yet dangerous) position. Someone had to taste the wine now and then in case someone tried to poison the king. Yet when the king noticed that his cupbearer was troubled one day, Nehemiah was “very much afraid” (Nehemiah 2:2). And why should he not be? He was about to ask his captor for a huge favor – the right to leave and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, with resources given by the king! Can you imagine asking for so much?

Prayer was not a last resort for Nehemiah. Half of chapter one records his anguished cry to the Lord. But in the moment before the big ask, Nehemiah’s instinctive reaction was to pray (v 4).

What is causing you to panic today? What personal, family, or professional situation(s) obscures the sun in your life? Is there something from your old way of life that seems to be getting the best of you? What difficulty, obstacle, challenge or giant are you facing today?

The apostle Paul said, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Do you have a daily prayer habit? If not, how can you establish one? If so, how can you watch your requests turn into praises? It is never too soon, or late, to pray. Grow devotionally. Be bold in approaching God for your daily bread. Prayer turns panic into peace.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2013 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – May 20

The world’s future leaders are now college students on American campuses.

Chi Alpha staff and students reach out to international students coming to the university. In partnership with local churches, we aim to serve international students, share Christ’s love in the context of friendship, promote mutual understanding and respect, and help equip these students for effective service in the world. Many Christian internationals come from their churches and join hands with Chi Alpha while preparing themselves for future ministry in their countries.

International Student Ministry (ISM) is a division within Chi Alpha, which focuses on reaching out to internationals through friendship, language partnership, coffee conversation, Bible studies, and numerous other activities. American Christians in turn are enriched by the internationals’ culture, shared friendship, spiritual vitality, and desire and dedication to improving their world.

Read Leviticus 19:33-34.

One Nigerian man shared the loneliness he experienced in the dormitory over Christmas break when everyone else had gone home. Coming to a potluck and conversation event sponsored by Chi Alpha, he met an American family who invited him to their home. He said it was the first time he really felt cared for since his arrival in the United States.

A Japanese student began to have emotional and spiritual problems in her last semester of graduate school. A fellow graduate student she met helped her complete the final stage of her studies, when she had difficulty practicing for her master’s recital.

As their friendship developed, this Christian student shared from the words of Jesus, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35). Weeping, the woman received Jesus. She ran back to her apartment, burned all of her pagan charms and dedicated herself to serving Jesus. Now able to focus and finish her classes, she graduated and returned to her country, a vibrant witness for the Lord.

The strategic nature of this ministry to global missions is significant. Countries that don’t allow traditional missionaries still send their brightest people to other countries to study. The United States has the largest number of international students, but that might not always be the case.

Internationals come eager to learn about American culture, their chosen field of study, and Christianity as well. A Buddhist monk enjoyed the chance to look at what the Bible said, knowing that opportunity was not allowed in his country. He eagerly studies the person and claims of Jesus with other visiting students. These students can be introduced to Jesus in ways unheard of in their homeland, in an atmosphere of warm, personal concern and service.

Foreign students have special needs. Besides possible language adjustments, there are many social and cultural hurdles to overcome. American students and community volunteers help by befriending students, offering hospitality, listening and learning, and spending time with them.

ISM is a beautiful expression of the Biblical command to love the stranger in our midst. Walk wisely. The world has come to our door. Do you have room in your life for one more friend?

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2013 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – May 13

You are unpopular. It is not because of your friendships, physical abilities, test scores, or social schedule. It is due to your values. You stay true to Christ and your convictions. As a believer in Christ, you will face hardship, ridicule, and even a little persecution if you stay true to your convictions – especially if you determine to live them out in your daily life in public.

Imagine you are interviewing for a job. You are an intelligent person with much to offer a company. You graduated with honors from your school, had top reviews, great endorsements and references, did much community service, and served a student leader in your Chi Alpha chapter. In so many ways, you are a great choice for any company. Except for the values thing.

In preliminary conversation with a recruiter before the interview, you stated you had always been clear about your Christian beliefs and the values they reflect. You’ve been compassionate about emphasizing that in your opinion, everyone is broken and needs God’s help, forgiveness, and power to become all that God intended them to be. The recruiter then asks what you think about LGBT people, and does not mention she is part of that community. You respond that people are free to live how they want in America, but you feel any sexual expression outside of marriage is not the best situation for anyone. The recruiter asks, “But do you think homosexuality is wrong?” You respond by saying that you believe premarital sex between any one is not something you would advocate. You add that you believe God forgives those who turn from sinful choices.

But that didn’t help you get a job with the company.

You went through an initial round of interviews and were then sent home. The interviewer later said, “It was apparent that your religious views, among other things, were incompatible with our company’s liberal social policy and active support of the LGBT community.” You never found out what the “other things” were, and left disappointed and puzzled.

Read Daniel 3:8-30.

Maybe now you can identify with biblical examples, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They literally stood up for what they believed in was true and right. They would not bow down and worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s image of gold.

“If we were thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king,” the three young college graduates stated. “But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up (Daniel 3:17-18).

You did not face a firestorm of criticism from the company for staying true to your values because they chose not to hire you in the first place. Shadrach and his pals did not allow their values to wilt before a blazing furnace and severe social pressure. How about you?

Will you stand up for your values? For Christ? You may not be popular on campus or the marketplace for your values. But in God’s eyes you can be a beautiful reflection of His truth.

Walk wisely. Bible values may not be in vogue in this world, but they are right!

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2013 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – May 6

Who in your life do you rely on to be brutally honest with you?  How do they help you?

She slipped into your weekly campus Bible study, and you are ready to do your best to impress her. The hospitality time (with warm brownies and cold milk) seemed to click with everyone, the worship segment got everyone involved, and your lesson was well prepared. Your resource group leader (i.e., those who oversee small group leaders) saw you on your A-game.

She walks up to you after the students wandered out after the study, pulls you aside, and you know what’s coming. “How do you think it went?” you ask.

“I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good,” she replies.

That feedback might be a tad deflating, huh? That is exactly how the Corinthian church must have felt after reading the part of Paul’s letter to them that we know as 1 Corinthians 11:17-22. Those were the words Paul used in evaluating their regular communion experience.

Read 1 Corinthians 11:17-22.

Now before you turn in your resignation as a Christian leader and/or follower, please realize that the first century meetings of Christ-followers like those in Corinth were not like the Bible studies or large group meetings we typically have in Chi Alpha chapters across the country. The early church was accepting, yet even proud of its cliques. Rich members got put at the front of the line, while poorer members often went hungry.

So like a good neighbor, Paul addressed the people involved directly and honestly. Criticism can be tough, but praise is sometimes not much better. Think about your own experiences – we ask one another how you are doing, how your class presentation went, even how a Bible study went, and the answer is a quick, insincere, “Okay,” or “Just fine,” or “Oh, not bad.” Often a little honesty would be nice, wouldn’t it?

The apostle Paul loved the Corinthian church. He was not a critic in search of punitive action. He was not hard on them to look for a victim or fall guy. He wanted Christians to grow and mature into everything God designed them to be and to do. Tough love does the trick better than pretty lies. The writer of Proverbs 27:5 says, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love.”

Am I suggesting that we declare open season on one another’s feelings and actions? No, not at all. But if we surround ourselves with a bunch of “yes-friends,” the only thing that will grow is our ego.

Find someone who is willing and able to be a Paul to you – loving in rebuke but always in love and honesty. Do not be afraid to show that kind of honesty to others either, as long as you remember your responsibility to help make things better.

Which do you need to work on more – being honest or being loving? Ask God to help you speak the truth in love. Ask for the courage to be honest and the energy to work hard to help those friends you correct. Live communally. An ounce of criticism is worth a pound of praise.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2013 by Mike Olejarz

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