Monthly Archives: October 2013

Monday Motivator – October 28

I remember Mark, a student leader in another campus ministry telling me of his friendship with Jewish students on the campus we then served. One spring break their ministry sent a team of staff and students to Jerusalem for a university sponsored tour of Israel. They came back raving about the beauty and sites they saw, the people they met, the food they sampled, and the rich heritage and history they heard about that added so much to their experience. One reason for such a response was the tour guide, Ben.

Imagine the surprise of my friend when the Jewish rabbi announced a group of students from Israel was coming to our campus on a reciprocal visit later that fall, and the bonus was that Ben would be traveling with this group.

Mark informed me of this development as we shared lunch one day. He then blurted out, “What can I show them in Boston that compares to what we saw in Israel?”

I replied, “Are you kidding? You could take them on The Freedom Trail and tell the story of the American Revolution.” Mark replied, “Yea, but they showed us part of the Exodus route that Moses led the Hebrews out of Egypt.”

“You could take them to the top of the Prudential building and see the metro Boston area for miles in every direction.” Mark replied, “But Ben took us up to the top of Mount Carmel where Elijah stood his ground, and we saw the Valley of Armageddon.”

“You could head over to the Boston Symphony Orchestra and gain an appreciation for the rich musical heritage of the city.” Mark said, “Sure, but we heard Jews singing songs of God’s provision and deliverance as they recalled the Red Sea crossing.”

“You could stop by the cemetery next to Park Street Church on the Boston Common, read the tombstones, and think about the price that was paid for the victory over the British Empire.” Mark replied, “But Ben told us the story of a people and a nation that has been fighting for their survival for centuries.”

Then it came to Mark as he sipped his coffee. “Hey, wait a minute, Mike. It’s not where I live, but who lives in me that matters most, right? Sure, Ben showed us places where the Spirit of God came upon prophets and kings in the Old Testament. He even showed us the seaport city of Caesarea where the Holy Spirit first came to the early Gentile Christians in Acts 10. But Ben does not know where the Spirit resides now, right? And that’s what we can really show Ben if the opportunity presents itself.”

Mark left excited about reflecting the reality of the Spirit of God, and living in the power of Christ’s resurrection. He was reminded that people like Ben needed to see people who experienced the peace and joy the Spirit provides as it overflows to others in acts of love.

But Ben isn’t the only one who needs to see and hear the evidence of God’s work in your life: Friends, family, professors, roommates, co-workers and bosses are all desperate to see people whose lives reveal the dwelling presence of God. Live communally. People need to see Jesus in you. What can you do this week to become that kind of person?

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2013 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – October 21

I enjoy reading Sports Illustrated magazine because of the people highlighted on its pages – young and old – trying to accomplish something. Did you ever try to swim across a river? Enter a Triathlon event as a fundraiser for cancer awareness? Run a mile in 3 minutes? Stay up all night over several days in order to practice staying awake for a long cross-country airplane race? Or win a professional sporting event or championship?

I am inspired when I read about people who attempt the impossible…and then actually do it. They don’t take no for an answer when it comes to doing the impossible. Like Diana Nyad, who recently became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage…a swim she failed four times over thirty five years before successfully completing her fifth try in September. She tried and tried and tried and tried something that had never been done before…and finally accomplished an arduous task that took 53 hours in water.

In comparison, many of us have tried the impossible spiritually. C’mon, be honest with yourself. I know that I have tried to live the Christian life in my own power, and I am sure you have as well.  We have tried to witness to someone about Jesus without asking the Holy Spirit to help. We attempt to overcome temptation(s) in our own strength. We’ve tried to “get closer” to God on our own efforts and “goose-bump” feelings and not through Scripture and seeking the Spirit to guide us. We read the Bible like we’re in the grocery store checkout line because we’re frantic and in trouble (which is not a bad time to do it, by the way), as opposed to hiding God’s Word in our heart as the God-breathed love letter that it is. We even ignore God’s instructions to live the way we were created.

Read Acts 1:1-11.

Jesus warned the first believers of His in Jerusalem about attempting the impossible. Leaving His followers on their own for the first time was a scary proposition as Jesus prepared to ascend to heaven. He told them not to go anywhere in His name until He sent them some help. They were to wait for the Holy Spirit to descend and empower them, and THAT would be the signal of their readiness to start proclaiming the good news of His death, burial, and resurrection. Imagine the mess they would have made if they had ignored the instructions of the Master and tried to follow His words on their own.

Consider what the Spirit was sent to fulfill among the followers of Jesus. If you see even a glimpse of what He really does for Christians, you’ll recognize how significant it was for the disciples to wait for the promise of the Father that Jesus spoke of.

First, He gives life (John 6:63); Second, He guides us into all truth (John 16:23); Third, He gives power to be a witness of the risen Lord (Acts 1:8); Fourth, He bears fruit in us (Galatians 5:22-23); Fifth, He helps us in our weakness (Romans 8:26). And much more.

We should not be surprised that Jesus told His followers at Jerusalem not to move until the Spirit came. Anything else would have been attempting the impossible. What Jesus was launching and sustaining was more challenging than what we read in sports magazines. Think theologically. Ask the Spirit every day to empower you for His purposes. To do God’s work, we need God’s Word, God’s power, and God’s help.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2013 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – October 14

What a weekend in Boston sports! Papa John’s pizza commercials, dramatic-ending victories for the New England Patriots over the New Orleans Saints and the Red Sox over my Tigers in the 9th inning, and God references all mixed together. All three were described as “awesome,” but let’s be honest. As my friend Brady Bobbink says, “AWESOME is a word that only should be used to describe the Creator and Author of life.”

I would define the word awesome as, “to show the proper respect and wonder that is inspired and demanded by an encounter with the impressive character and activity of God.” Moses had such a transforming encounter with God on Mount Sinai.

Read Exodus 3:1-6.

God got Moses’ attention one day with the sign of a bush engulfed in flames but that did not burn up or out. Not only was that an incredulous sight, but God stunned Moses further by calling out his name from the bush (v 4).

Scripture and history attest to the reality that God often does something unique in order to communicate who He is and get our attention (i.e., see nature and the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus). God would not permit Moses to treat Him as common or ordinary. He instructed him to maintain his distance and to remove his shoes because he was standing on holy ground (v 5). Then the Lord introduced Himself and Moses responded by kneeling, showing the awe and respect demanded by interaction with such a Being (v 6). God’s awesome presence calls for a response of quiet reverence that should be reserved exclusively for Almighty God. Abraham, Noah, Samson’s parents, Mary, and Paul experienced the same thing. Visions of God lead to reverence before God, right?

Consider a test that you could take yourself and your friends through this week: Take time to listen to and record how and when the word “awesome” is used over the next seven days. How often do you use it normal conversation? When is it used at the gym, in a sitcom, a song on the radio, by a sportscaster, or even by folks at church?

I know that the name of Jesus Christ is often used as a swear word, and/or in a heated and negative context. Wouldn’t it be great to say the word awesome and have people around you realize that you are referring solely and exclusively to God? Then follow your lead?

I enjoy pizza very much, but even having Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning promote Papa John’s pies does not inspire reverence in my mind. Sporting events are fun and exhilarating, but they hardly equal or demand the wonder and respect due to God.

When was the last time you trembled at the awesomeness of God? How will you cultivate your knowledge of God in a way that transforms your life this week? It may start with recognizing how you have made the “sacred” common and the “holy” familiar.

Grow devotionally. The One True God made the entire world from nothing, created all of us from the dust of the ground, and provided salvation freely for undeserving sinners like us through His Son, and our Savior, Jesus. Now that’s awesome.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2013 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – October 7

Bill used to talk of his passion for Jesus. From the time he rose in the morning until the time he went to bed, Jesus was the One whom he sought to communicate with. Since seeking and saving the lost was Jesus’ passion, that soon became Bill’s as well.

Bill processed everything he did in light of the Great Commission of Jesus to “go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19-20). He invested in a few for the sake of others and was always raising up leaders who could reproduce other leaders who could reproduce other leaders through the use of vision, character, skills and transferable concepts.

My cousin is a nurse in an emergency room and she told me that nurses have a saying: “Watch one, do one, teach one.” It refers to a process to learn a technique quickly, do it with a patient, and then turn around and pass it on to another nurse.

Bill took a similar approach when he started his non-profit organization years ago. He took promising leaders under his wing, shared with them how to wins students to faith in Christ and develop them as Christ-centered laborers, empowered them with ownership and responsibility, taught them how to multiply their influence on campus in the natural networks of leaders already there (i.e., athletes, Greek system, student government, etc), and released them to go out and raise up other leaders for further Gospel multiplication.

Bill knew that every time you reach, root, equip, and send a person to know Christ and make Him known, you plant seeds for greater success. My faith adventure was launched due to the influence of one of his leaders.

Bill modeled a lifestyle of prayer that was focused on his first love – Jesus.  He said that was the joy and burden of his heart – that he would love Jesus, know Him better, and serve Him more faithfully and fruitfully. He stated often that you can’t maintain your love and service for God apart from the help of the Holy Spirit, and by daily and obeying reading Scripture, including memorizing and meditating on God’s Word.

Bill said that he and his wife were very materialistic and self-centered when they were newly married. Running a successful business in Hollywood demanded a lot of hours and the rewards were significant. They soon fell in love with Jesus, however, and came to a place where they realized knowing, loving, and serving Jesus was all that really mattered.

So they signed a contract to be slaves of Jesus. They used the example of Jesus as described in Philippians 2:7, where the writer says the great Creator came to the planet disguised as a slave. Bill and Vonette actually wrote out a contract and signed it, relinquishing themselves and all they owned to Jesus to serve Him wherever He called. They thought they would stay in business, but God spoke to Bill and gave him the vision for what we know today is Campus Crusade for Christ.  Bill said often that it all started when he and Vonette made the choice to be available slaves of Jesus and do as He led.

Serve globally. Bill Bright passed away in 2003, but his life influenced mine greatly. Bill believed you honor God when you think big, pray big, and plan big. But it all starts when you consecrate yourself to be available to Jesus and His Kingdom. Will you join me?

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2013 by Mike Olejarz

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