Monthly Archives: August 2013

Monday Motivator – August 26

How do you handle your personal hygiene? How about your diet, proper rest, and exercise?

I think I do a pretty good job of taking care of my physical appearance. I shower every day and use deodorant. I floss and brush my teeth and gargle with a mouthwash. I wear clean clothes regularly and get a haircut monthly. My parents taught me to do a good job with my personal hygiene because it is important to take care of myself, as well as present a good image to others that I am self-disciplined.

Luke 2:52 indicates Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, in favor with God and men. That seems to indicate a framework of health: Mental/emotional, physical, spiritual, and social. Let’s tackle the first component. How is your mental hygiene? With what do you feed your mind each day?

Read Colossians 3:1-17.

In Colossians 3:2, the apostle Paul used the verb “set” in connection with the mind. He told his fellow Christians to be sure to keep allowing thoughts about Jesus and His ways to rule their minds. He argued that setting out minds on Jesus should not be casual and lazy, but intentional and deliberate. We should focus our thinking on who Jesus is, what He taught, and always renew a desire and willingness to practice the kind of life he modeled in Scripture.

Paul wrote that our aim should be to seek spiritual things (v 1-4), resist the urges of sin (v 5-11), and to pursue and put on the character of Christ (v 12-17). Since our life is WITH Christ in heaven (v 3), and our position is IN Christ (the book of Ephesians), all that Christ has and offers is available to us, i.e., grace, power, blessing.

This does not mean we do not think about earthly stuff – doing homework with excellence, showing up for work with a good attitude and work ethic, being a good steward of your time, talent, and treasure, honoring your parents, etc. However, these things should never be our ultimate goal, and/or master. They are the output from a godly life and perspective.

As followers of Christ, we are called to keep moving toward Christ-likeness even as we get our marching orders from heaven via Scripture. We must be heavenly minded and well as earthly excellent, as we work to make the planet more like God created it (and intended it) to be.

One key the apostle stressed is to allow the Word of God to dwell in you richly (or thoroughly). The Word of Jesus (i.e., Scripture) must be continually read, heard, studied, discussed, meditated on, prayed about, memorized, and practiced, so that it dwells in us. As these practices become part of our holy habits, our thoughts, motivations, words, and deeds will be better influenced by God (see Psalm 119:11 and John 15:7-8). It will also benefit us and those around us.

The goal of our spiritual journey is to be conformed to the image and likeness of our Lord (Romans 8:29). So the key is to fill our minds with things that reflect and honor Him. Colossians 3:16 says psalms, hymns and spiritual songs should be used to teach the Word and encourage believers to live lives of obedience.  Scripture is required for a mental hygiene checkup.

Walk wisely. Be intentional and thoughtful about what you think about and dwell on.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2013 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – August 19

Are you helping someone cover up life-threatening habits or bad behavior? What is the best (and most loving) way to serve them? Enable them? Or confront them, as hard as that seems?

Imagine a scene like this: The bi-annual weekend church cleanup starts with a conversation about what color to paint the older sanctuary, along with the distribution of assignments for the gathered volunteers. During the discussion, a mother calls to ask if anyone has seen her college age son who did not come home the previous two nights. He had a part time job as a janitor at the church while on summer break and was supposed to leave for college shortly.

The pastor, church deacons and a few parents paused discussing paint pigments, and others halted their jobs to look for Tommy. Everyone spread out to search the premises, knowing the youth room was a great place for sleepovers and there were nooks and crannies especially good for hide and seek. They found Tommy’s jacket in the janitor’s closet and old syringes and drug packets fell out when they lifted it off the floor. Minutes later someone started yelling, “Call the police.” We found him in one of the rear bathrooms of the large facility.

Once the police and ambulance crew arrived, the tone and atmosphere became more serious. The police confirmed the suspicions of some of the college students who were talking together. Tommy had been dead for several hours due to an overdose of heroin.

A few of the students talked to one of the detectives and said they saw Tommy talking to someone in the church parking lot last week after mid-week service in a fancy, dark colored car.  Had they witnessed a drug deal they wondered? What was up with Tommy? Since returning from his first year of college, he seemed aloof, distracted, short-tempered, and not interested in hanging out with old friends from the high school youth group.

One of the guys said what I am sure a few were thinking: If we hadn’t been concerned about prying too much, sticking our nose into a friend’s business, or even being labeled a tattle-tale, could we have saved his life? Could his apparent poor choice of taking drugs been averted? If we had been more concerned about his health and spiritual condition instead of just enjoying summer break, would he still be alive? But none of us pressed Tommy with our questions.

Read Luke 22:24-30.

In the Gospel of Luke, we read about an encounter that poses similar concerns. After eating the Passover meal, the disciples of Jesus start arguing about which of them was the greatest. Jesus stopped the arguing by explaining that greatness in His Kingdom is measured differently than what they were accustomed to.  Jesus stated He measures greatness not by whether we get what we want from others, but by how well we serve others.

Are you self-absorbed about your own welfare and needs? What petty problems, silly arguments, or trivial pursuits consume your time and energy and keep you from being effective in serving others and being others-centered? Read Paul’s description of Timothy in Philippians 2:19-22. Isn’t that the kind of reference you would like to have on your resume?

Live communally. Serving others as a representative of Jesus is costly, but it is never trivial.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2013 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – August 12

Is being a Christian popular at your job or on your campus?

My nephew Aaron serves in the military, and I am proud of him for serving our country in this manner. It is not always the “coolest thing to do,” and that is concerning. I have read many stories of young men and women volunteering to serve in the armed forces, only to be scorned and ridiculed by their friends and family members. Some people say things like, “You are not serious, are you?” Fortunately, amid terrorist attacks like the Boston Marathon in April, a renewed sense of patriotism grows and people like Aaron become a source of pride for others.

I have noticed that the attitude of others toward faith in Jesus changes as well. In a crisis like the death of a loved one, many people gravitate toward faith, prayer, and God, wondering where they are. Yet they often ignore the fact that they have done little to cultivate a faith that is real and matters. It’s no wonder they have little to lean on and the presence of a minister, or even Christian friends, seems awkward and a bit clumsy.

Whether we receive congratulations or criticism when we committed ourselves to follow Jesus and His teachings, our promise to love, learn from Him, as well as follow Him, will be tested as the opinions of those closest to us, and the popular culture, change like the daily weather. Isn’t it interesting to watch the ebbs and flows of people’s ideas, attitudes, and behavior about faith, especially when trouble comes their way? They often ridicule us, with very little tolerance.

Read 2 Timothy 3:10-4:5.

Timothy, a young college graduate and marketplace minister, was a man committed to knowing Christ and making Him known in his sphere of influence. Once day he received a letter of instruction and encouragement from his spiritual mentor Paul, who reminded him to remember what he had become convinced of and to live that way because that was the way of wisdom, based on the authority and power of the Bible. Paul also urged him to, “Preach the Scriptures with intensity; be prepared in season and out; stay on guard and challenge, warn, and urge your people to not quit following Jesus…with careful instruction and great patience” (2 Timothy 4:2).

The phrase “be prepared in season and out” is one I can relate to as a former athlete who competed year round. It made transitioning from sport to sport easier due to the condition I kept myself in. The phrase basically means “when it is convenient and when it is not, regardless of feelings” (or whether it is cool or uncool).

How you live your life for Christ should not be determined by the popularity of Christianity in the media, the attitude of campus officials, or your close friends. We’ll have times of celebration, enjoy mutually supportive relationships, along with amazing times to share the Gospel freely. But there will be times when we must take a lonely stand for our Lord. As the pendulum of popularity swings, I urge you to stay true to King Jesus in your heart, mind, and your actions.

Whether being a Christian is cool or uncool where you are, “be prepared in season and out of season” and God will provide the strength you need. How can knowing that it’s right to keep following Christ help you through difficult times? Think theologically. It’s better to be prepared and know what you believe and stand for, than to be cool.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2013 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – August 5

A Chinese friend of mine (I’ll call him James) and I were watching the SyFy channel one weekend and during commercials we were coming up with plots for new shows.  James said let’s call the show proposal Mooncakes, after an Eastern legend. Tell me more, I replied.

James said his grandmother told him a story of long, long ago when ten suns suddenly appeared in the sky. The intense heat began to cause significant biological, climate, and geographical problems, so the leaders of the empire were mobilized to deal with the situation. The most accurate archer in the land was recruited to shoot down nine of the suns, and wise men hoped the conditions would begin to normalize soon after.

The good news is the archer was successful and the effort succeeded. Due to his actions, he was made emperor. But the bad news is he was lacking in character. His wish to rule forever was an incessant pursuit of narcissistic proportions. Nothing was beneath his lustful appetites. He heard of an ancient tale of a pill that was said to provide immortality and sent agents to find it.

His wife Chang-E stole the pill shortly after it was discovered and returned to the palace. Her risky attempt had succeeded because she was fearful of her husband’s increasing pursuit of power and she hoped to save her people from his never-ending tyranny. She swallowed the pill and in an ingenious escape plan, floated to the moon, along with her pet rabbit.

Many Chinese remember Chang-E and her rabbit when they celebrate an annual event called the Mid-Autumn (or Mooncake) Festival…a time when they eat mooncakes and carry lanterns. We know that man has walked on the moon and never run into Chang-E or her rabbit. Yet James said the Mooncake Festival is still celebrated in places where there are Chinese people. The idea that has lasted for generations and remembered fondly is the courage and altruism of Chang-E. Many who celebrate the idea apparently do not care whether she ever actually existed.

Read Leviticus 22:31-33 and 23:4-8.

The book of Leviticus reveals Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, both of which commemorate actual historical events that the Jewish people experienced. They were not created to honor human virtue and were not mythic based happenings that grew into legend.

These two festivals are days for Jewish people to remember a significant time when the One True God stepped into human history and intervened to rescue the Hebrews from danger, slavery, and ethnic cleansing. The Israelites did not deserve it and many did not even appreciate the actions the Lord took to make it possible. But God acted as their grace-giving Redeemer.

Moses challenged the Hebrews to observe these feasts and festivals for another reason. The people were to remember that God is holy, separate and set apart from, and above all of creation. There is no one like Him in heaven or on earth. They were also to remember that it is this holy God who makes them holy. He sets them apart from everybody and everything (including their own sin) for His own good purpose (see Ephesians 2:8-10). What a privilege and responsibility!

Grow devotionally. What are some areas of your life that are unholy? What does Scripture say about those issues? Feed and develop holy habits. Holy living is living wholly for God.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2013 by Mike Olejarz

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