Monthly Archives: September 2013

Monday Motivator – September 30

It was a critical time of the football game and we couldn’t afford any mistakes.  Tie game, late in the fourth quarter and we were driving for the winning score. On a third down and seven, we tried our best play to the right side and our running back was tackled out of bounds close to the first down marker. Some extra pushing and shoving ensued, some punches were thrown by a few of our guys and a fight broke out. Once the officials calmed everybody down, penalties were assessed to us, and the worst news erupted. In the brief melee, our quarterback had run over and took a swing at the guy who tackled our back out of bounds. His swing connected with the player’s helmet, he fractured his right hand and he was unable to continue.

Our second string quarterback (who hadn’t played much that season) was rushed into the game and on the first snap, fumbled the football. The other team recovered and with new momentum, marched down the field for the winning score. What a devastating loss!

Afterwards some parents were heard in the parking lot badmouthing our coach that “ he couldn’t control his players” (which ironically were some of their kids). One of the parents defended the coach, saying, “Do you think any coach can control 11 players once the ball is snapped? I don’t think so, so give the guy a break.”

Between the coaches, players, and parents, who was really in control?

I realize that because of our inherited sin nature, we have no desire to obey or submit to anyone or anything. We are all guilty of having the selfish desire to completely control our own lives – from the music we listen to, manners we elect to use or ignore, clothes we choose to wear – to the biggest decisions we’ll ever face – our character, who we might marry, and even to accept or reject Jesus as Lord and Savior. Yet many of us think, “Why let anyone else dictate or determine our destiny? Society says we control our own destiny.”

But I want to argue that a life lived purely for our own desires is short-sighted, ignorant, and deceived. Left to our own devices and desires, we will self-destruct. Consider the story of slave trader John Newton as an example of living without Christ at the center. If you decide to become a follower of Jesus you give up your right to be lord of your own life. It is an oxymoron to say, “No, Lord.” It should be our desire and intention as Christ-followers to know, love, trust, serve, and obey Him. We accomplish that by spending time learning, meditating, and living according to His Word, which has the power to transform us from me-centered to He-centered.

Read 2 Peter 1:3-12.

The Bible is a similar to a road map, but maps are irrelevant if you do not consult them. The Holy Spirit will use the Scriptures to bring things to life inside us as well as give us insight into the day before us. Each of us needs to read His Word, communicate with Him through prayer, and cultivate a lifestyle of trusting and obeying God. God wants to empower us through Scripture, prayer, circumstances, and our choices to become more like Him.

Walk wisely. We mess up life time and again because we ignore the Author of life. Let’s reduce the moments we ignore His teaching and ask Him for help to pay attention to His instructions. Let’s rely on His Spirit to help us act like we are really under His supervision. Model the Master.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2013 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – September 23

Chi Alpha Campus Ministries is an idea birthed from the heart of God. Since our origin in the 1950’s, we have sought to respond to God’s love, grace, truth, and majesty by establishing and advancing communities of college students who experience New Testament life at colleges and universities in the United States and on every continent that has college students.

Our dream is to turn students and faculty into Christ-centered laborers who know, follow, and serve Jesus as Savior and Lord. We equip them to grow in love for God, His Word, His People, and His Mission, recognizing that American and International students of every ethnicity and culture need to encounter the greatest Teacher so they can fulfill God’s purposes in the world.

In college, we believe followers of Jesus are called to be a redeeming influence among its people, ideas, and institutions. Consider how we use the following for FORMATION:

Scripture: We model and teach that we encounter God through Scripture and are transformed by the Holy Spirit as we hear, read, study, memorize, meditate, teach, and obey His Word.

Worship & Prayer: We express our love, faith, and dependence on God through humble lives of submission, prayer, and adoration.

Community: We follow the New Testament example of living, modeling, and promoting authentic and redemptive relationships marked by grace, truth, and trust.

Spiritual Formation: We cultivate intimacy with God and growth of Christ-like character through personal and corporate spiritual disciplines, enabled and empowered by the Holy Spirit. We take seriously Jesus’ admonition to engage in learning and thoughtful Biblical reflection and action that affects each area of our lives.

Servant Leadership Development: We prepare men and women to serve as Mark 10:45 leaders, honoring God’s gifts and calling in each of them.

Now consider how we use the following EXPRESSIONS:

Evangelism: We model, proclaim, and live out the gospel with love, clarity, relevance and boldness, calling students and faculty to repentance, forgiveness, and new life in Christ

Stewardship: We teach, model, and proclaim Jesus as Lord over all of creation and culture, living and striving to integrate calling, faith, life, values, and vocation in serving His cause.

Church: We prepare staff, students, ands faculty to be lifelong members and active participants in local congregations. We mobilize and equip churches to serve a college in their community.

Mission: We serve God and partner with His people to extend His Kingdom cross-culturally on campus and around the world.

Live communally. Pass on what you know about being formed in Christ. Express your faith to someone else. Make your life count by joining us in the greatest rescue operation of all.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2013 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – September 16

Many Christians use apologetics for in-house conversation, almost a stump-the-chump type of activity. While there is nothing wrong with iron-sharpening-iron discussion among fellow believers, defending and explaining what we believe and why is not for mere Christian intellectual entertainment.

The first and primary meaning of the word apologia in Scripture has to do with our defense of the faith before unbelievers, or those outside of the faith we profess.

Read 1 Peter 3:15. The challenge is that we should be prepared to make a defense of our faith before those who ask us about it. Some of us though, are waiting (maybe because we read Scripture a bit too literally) for someone to ask before we start preparing.

The command of the apostle Peter is to be prepared, not wait. He wrote, “But in your heart set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15). One approach I take to be prepared is to use the technique used by Jesus and other great listeners – be ready to ask some leading questions and have some ideas of how I would respond.

First, I like to challenge folks to be true, healthy skeptics by reading the Gospels for themselves. I often ask, “How can you be a real skeptic if you have never personally examined the evidence for yourself? How can going by what other people say about Jesus be good enough for you?” Jesus did say, “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (John 18:37). I try and get folks to discuss who they think Jesus is, rather than suggesting we tackle the whole Bible at first.

Second, I try to lead people to think about the Gospel facts. I ask, “What are your impressions of the birth, life, teaching, example, death, and resurrection of Jesus? How much of the primary source material have you read for yourself?” I suggest Isaiah 53 and John 19-20 as a quick start.

I ask, “If the Creator of the universe wanted to communicate with ancient and modern people alike about who He is and what He is like, how could He show us more clearly than by becoming one of us? If He wanted to communicate the seriousness of breaking His holy and moral law, how could He do so more clearly than by demanding the most valuable thing in the universe as a penalty and payment? If He wanted to express how much He cares and loves us, how could He demonstrate more clearly than by dying for us?

Third, I want to be ready to lead people to consider the personal relationship with God that only Jesus offers. Assuming God exists, I ask them what sort of relationship they would hope the Creator would extend to them? What kind of relational experience would they like to have with God? Would it be similar to the one they have with a distant parent, a professor, or the bank officer who handles their school loan? If we intuitively find ourselves looking for a higher kind of relationship, who made us that way? Human relationships can involve three primary foundations: manipulation, right and duties, or close, mutually shared friendship. Does it make sense that the Creator and Designer of all, and the highest and greatest Being would want to have the highest kind of mutually satisfying relationship with us? Isn’t that what Jesus modeled as the norm?

Think theologically. Think and prepare well and be ready to ask some leading questions.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2013 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – September 9

Are you one of those who love experiences that make your stomach churn? I have only had motion sickness issues when I ride roller coasters. Unfortunately, the only way to stop the onslaught of nausea was to get off the ride, but by then it is often too late. I have not had trouble on recreational boat rides that were hours from shore searching for whales, or on bumpy airline flights flying through choppy air. A recent flight I was on had to land in a thunderstorm and I certainly was gripping the seat armrest for an extra sense of security.

Motion sickness happens when your senses get overloaded and send mixed signals to your brain. The fluid in your ears feels the movement, your eyes do not necessarily see it, but often your stomach does have quite a reaction. Our eyes and ears are doing the best they can with the information they are taking in and processing, but they both may not be right.

As I observe people and culture, I continue to see mixed signals about God. The opinions of people from various backgrounds and the teaching of Scripture both can’t be right. Consider:

1. The Supreme Court of the United States has a statue of Moses and the Ten Commandments on its building (and our money has a declaration of faith on it), but schools cannot post the commandments on its premises and children cannot recite the Pledge of Allegiance in public school because of the words, “In God we trust.”

2. Americans believe in the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but babies are aborted every day (40 million plus since the 1970’s). Yet Scripture tells us that God knows us in our mother’s womb, created us in His image, and He is the Creator and Designer of Life.

3. Politicians regularly end a speech with, “and may God bless America.” Yet many do not live lives that honor God and characters in pop culture, sports, movies, and every day life repeatedly take God’s name in vain. Scripture says God is holy and His name should not be misused.

4. People ignore the main Hero of the Bible (God Himself), as well as the wisdom of the most popular Book of all time (the Bible), yet cry out to Him in a crisis as if He were their best friend.

What do these mixed signals tell you about God? Read Psalm 86. What do you learn about God? By the way, are you aware of the YouVersion app for your mobile device(s), which could assist you in your reading, reflection and study of Scripture?

The world (and many of your family members, peers on campus, and friends in the marketplace) see the God of the Bible as irrelevant, unethical, inconsistent, a power-mad tyrant, and even non-existent. In reality, God is sovereign, perfect, loving, all wise and all powerful. To Him alone we owe our very existence. We need to pursue Him to know Him better.

If you are a follower of Jesus, your brain should recognize these mixed signals and know which ones are right and trustworthy. If you are wavering amidst the signals our culture and your campus espouses, and may not be so sure anymore, ask God to stop the motion. Ask Him to guide you to the Truth about Him in His Word. He will help you regain your balance.

Grow devotionally. Mixed signals can make you sick. Scripture intake will help stabilize you.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2013 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – September 2

I remember hearing about the birth of a new movement of God’s Spirit when I was a student.

In 1980, four college students at Penn State University were motivated by a vision to see others come to know Christ and that followers of Jesus would actually win the world for their Master, so they decided to prove a point.

If they could minister for a year in Libya, at the time the most militant Muslim country, they would demonstrate that no country or place on earth was closed to the Gospel of Jesus. They intended to return with a call for others to join them in seeing “the evangelization of the world in their generation,” beginning in the most difficult and uninviting places and situations.

Read Matthew 28:18-20.

Twenty-four other college students committed to support the four pioneers with prayer and encouragement. Everyone involved signed a pledge to give their lives over to making disciples of all nations, “whenever and however God leads, giving priority to the peoples currently beyond the reach of the Gospel.” This pledge later became known as the Caleb Declaration.

The least evangelized peoples of the world have lived in an area between the 10th and 40th latitudes, stretching between North Africa east through Asia. This region is often called the 10/40 window. It represents the vast majority of the world’s unreached people groups, with billions who practice Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and a variety of animistic religions. This region also represents an area with fewer Christian cross-cultural workers.

After a year in Libya, the four Penn State college students returned alive and well to challenge their peers to worldwide involvement. They said their model was Caleb of the Old Testament, who returned from the promised land reconnaissance (with Joshua) to challenge his fellow Israelites to “by all means go up and take possession of the land…the Lord is with us” (Numbers 13:30, 14:9). Sadly, Caleb and Joshua were the only ones of the 12 spies sent by Moses to return with such a report. The others brought back a negative response to the challenge they saw.

For a long time, the Caleb Project has inspired a shared vision to challenge a “new generation to enter a new land.” From that initial project, scores of innovative ministries have been developed to challenge Christians to by all means make the gospel available to all peoples everywhere.

I appeal to the students and staff of Chi Alpha Campus Ministries. Are the promises of God still as trustworthy today as back in the days of Caleb…and the students at Penn State in 1980? Are we as confidant of the Lord’s presence and victory for the ones He loves on our campuses? How strategic are we working to share the Gospel with undergraduates, graduates, faculty and foreign students (the four main people groups on campus)? Knowing students from 10/40 window countries are studying here in America, how diligent are we working to connect with, befriend them, and find ways to communicate who Jesus is to them? How effective are we in getting local churches and other Christians to join the movement with us? How are our alumni being enabled to use their employment opportunities to serve and extend God’s Kingdom globally?

Serve globally. Let’s mobilize Christians to complete the Great Commission in our generation.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2013 by Mike Olejarz

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