Monthly Archives: January 2014

Monday Motivator – January 27

What are some rules or guidelines that seem silly or strange to you? How about a warning label on a toaster that says, “do not operate near water?”

I generally did not have trouble with rules growing up. I respected my parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, coaches, teachers and employers, and trusted the guidelines and parameters they set out for me. I never had reason to mistrust the direction given to me, and never felt threatened, micro-managed, pushed around, or coerced to do something morally or ethically wrong.

When I felt it was necessary to question something, I did, and most of the adults were open to me challenging the process, as long as I did it with a respectful tone and attitude. I have to admit that when I saw a rule or standard, it did not initially upset me or make me want to disobey. I guess that can be traced back to growing up in a safe family atmosphere where my parents modeled authenticity, kindness, and uprightness. I never had reason to question their integrity.

Rules can sometimes be silly, depending on your point of view. I remember the University of Michigan “Fab Four” – four freshmen basketball players who ended up starting their first year on campus. They wore long, baggy shorts with black socks, and played with an infectious enthusiasm, yet their uniform choices drew the ire of many. I also remember a time in the NBA when basketball players were fined for wearing their shorts too long. What possible problem could wearing long shorts cause?

Since I’ve grown up, I have realized there are silly rules and vital standards. For each of us to grow to maturity, we need to know the difference between the two. Here are three examples:

First, the call of Scripture to, “Turn your eyes away from worthless things.” (Psalm 119:37). That admonition would seem to help one get and stay on the right path.

Second, the personal rule to, “Flee sexual temptation.” (1 Corinthians 6:18). That guideline would keep you from numerous difficulties and far reaching consequences.

Third, is the standard that says, “Do not get drunk on wine…instead, be filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18). Again, wise counsel to save you a lifetime of troubles.

One way to make sure a standard is worth following is to consider its source. The three ideas above are good examples of wisdom that all come from the Bible. They are critically important rules meant to be followed, without exception, for ultimate human flourishing.

Read Colossians 3:1-7.

Certainly silly rules can be frustrating and probably don’t make much of a difference in your life. But what if you could tap into the greatest wisdom about living life to its fullest, reaching for your potential, and avoiding cultural traps meant to tear you down and limit your effectiveness?

God’s standards are different. They steer you away from a moment or a lifetime of trouble. His Spirit can empower you to choose life, not death. Grow devotionally. Read and obey Scripture. Trust God. He knows what is best for you. His rules are for His glory, and our benefit.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2014 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – January 20

Listen to the late Robert C. Goizeuta, Chairman of the Board of Coca-Cola as he addressed stockholders in early 1994: “All of us in the Coca-Cola family wake up each morning knowing that every single one of the world’s 5.6 billion people will get thirsty that day…and we are the ones with the best opportunity to refresh them. Our task is simple: make Coca-Cola and our other products available, affordable, and acceptable to them, quenching their thirst and providing them a perfect moment of relaxation. If we do this…if we make it impossible for these 5.6 billion people to escape Coca-Cola…then we assure our future success for many years to come. Doing anything else is not an option!”

Why does Coca-Cola work? They recognize a thirst; they have a great product and have confidence in it; they intend to help every person on the planet drink a Coke; and doing anything else is not an option!

Read Matthew 28:18-20 and Romans 1:16.

Did Jesus really believe what He said and mean it? Did He put a global mandate on the shoulders of the first disciples and expect them to follow through, no ifs, ands, or buts? Does He expect the rest of us to follow their example and do what they did in our time and web of influence?

A lot of people try and complicate Christianity. But the teachings of Jesus, in their essence – what C.S. Lewis called “mere” Christianity, is not difficult to understand. It is so simple that children can understand it:

The Romans Road lays out the plan of salvation through a series of Bible verses from the New Testament book of Romans. When arranged in order, these verses form an easy, systematic way of understanding and explaining the message of salvation.

1. Everyone needs salvation because we have all sinned (Romans 3:10-12, and 23).

2. The price (or consequence) of sin is death (Romans 6:23).

3. Jesus Christ died for our sins. He paid the price for our death (Romans 5:8).

4. We receive eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 10:9-10, and 13).

5. Salvation through Jesus brings us into a relationship of peace with God (Romans 5:1, 8:1, and 8:38-39)

Sadly, millions of people still cling to the vague hope that their good deeds will impress God. After all, they reason, they’re not that bad. The idea that all of us do not deserve eternal separation from God is not found in the Bible. It’s a lie from the father of lies, and it is sending people to hell each and every day. But Christians are called to know and make God known.

Do not complicate the biggest and most substantial question you or anyone else will ever have to answer: What will you do with Jesus?

Once you put your trust in Him (and what He did on the cross for you), then start passing on the message. With all due respect, what Jesus has to offer the world is more tasty than some sugared (and low calorie) water. Serve globally. Be an object of God’s grace and pass on that grace to as many as you can – it’s the only option and their future (heaven or hell) really does depend on it.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2014 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – January 13

When it comes to planning your day, how organized are you? Do you go with the flow, micro-manage stuff, or fluctuate back and forth between those tendencies?

We recently rang in the new year. People checked their watches and clocks repeatedly so as to be able to recognize when the new year would be launched. Around various time zones, people crammed into homes, parties, and downtown areas to celebrate another year ending and another one starting. Thousands jammed Times Square in New York City on an annual trek and millions watched on TV as the famous ball dropped.

Outside in the streets and inside, people shouted, hugged, blew horns, lifted hands, and danced to welcome in the new year. Many prayed and worshiped God, thanking Him for another day of grace and goodness. Others offered toasts, prayers, well wishes, and celebratory expressions as everyone said, “Happy New Year” to someone.

This is my 55th year on the planet and I have seen similar actions ever since I was old enough to understand what happened on the last evening of the last day of the year. Assuming I’m around next year to witness some of it, the same sort of stuff will happen again. Time, nevertheless, moves on relentlessly, bringing good times and bad, joys, sorrows, disappointments, successes, highs and lows, setbacks and victories…all in twelve months.

I saw one news report that highlighted many different sorts of instruments that would monitor the annual rite of time’s passing: various mobile devices, computers, desk and alarm clocks. I thought of the tall chiming clock in grandmother’s living room, and even the old, silver Timex watch I have used for twenty years. My Honda CRV has a digital clock in the dashboard, and I have an old middle school time clock in my garage. All of these clocks record our time closely.

Many people use their smartphone or PDA to help them plan their time, remember appointments and stay on track. Many are upset, uneasy, or off stride until their schedule is set for the day or week, and they react with some grumpiness when it is interrupted or gets thrown off.

God’s clock is different from ours. His timing is impeccable and often disrupts our own schedule – in spite of our best efforts to stay in control. One challenge we have is accepting His timetable, and despite how hard it can be, it is a healthy barometer of our spiritual maturity. Delays, interruptions, changes, accidents, losses, layoffs, and course corrections are part of life and God is never surprised by any of them, even though we can be overwhelmed by one or many of them.

Read Romans 1:11-17.

The apostle Paul tried to get to Rome on several occasions but kept being delayed (Romans 1:13). You may have great and wonderful plans for the upcoming semester or year, including spring break trips, special events, job searches, and even graduation. They may happen just as you envision them now, or they may end up being changed, adapted, or even cancelled.

Walk wisely. God holds time in His hands. How can you get better at seeing beyond your perspective of time to see God’s? In what ways can you recognize God’s hand at work in and through the circumstances you face, and even trust Him for what He is up to behind the scenes?

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2014 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – January 6

I remember one of the Ohio University Education faculty telling our junior class about one of her teaching experiences as a rookie teacher fresh out of college. We were preparing for student teacher opportunities and she wanted to “toughen us up, I guess” for what we might face.

She told us that before she taught her first class in an inner city school, a seasoned teacher gave her this advice: “Make students think you’re as mean as a bear for the first month. That way they will appreciate it more when you finally smile.”

She decided to ignore the older teacher’s suggestion and told her tenth grade English students that she wanted to make the class enjoyable for all. She wanted them to love language, writing, and the classics as much as she did. To accomplish that she thought she had to make class fun.

But as it turned out, fun for her students turned into work for her.

They mistook kindness for weakness, mercy for leniency, and patience for get-away-with-all-sorts-of-stuff. They became disrespectful, disobedient, and delinquent, and not to mention downright “mean as a bear” in a few cases. She became angry, frustrated, and short-tempered.

One day after another failed attempt to get them to be quiet, she blurted out, “Oh, you make me so mad! You make me feel just like God.” Her statements stunned the class into silence. “You make me feel like God,” she said, “because everything I intended for your good you use against me. I don’t want to be angry or harsh with you. But if that’s what it takes for you to learn, that’s what will have to be.”

In telling our college class the story, she explained that her students were not the first to exploit goodness for selfish purposes. She said the Bible included many stories, songs, and prayers about God’s experiences with His people, the Israelites, as examples of teachable moments.

Read Nehemiah 9.

Verse 30 captures the scene so clearly when Nehemiah wrote, “For many years you were patient with them…yet they paid you no attention.” Nehemiah’s prayer of confession starts with the goodness of God, extols His care and provision, and ends repeatedly being interrupted by human failure and unfaithfulness. Be careful, though, not to judge the Hebrews too harshly.

We know by our own experience (and by reading human history) that the human condition did not improve even after Jesus personally demonstrated how to live life best. The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Rome, “Do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, tolerance, and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?” (2:4)

It is easy to conclude that God’s goodness to us is a sign of our own goodness. But that is a wrong and dangerous assumption. His goodness should lead us to repentance, not to pride. Examine your life carefully. Does the goodness of God lead you to humility or arrogance? Obedience or disobedience? Generosity or selfishness? Patience or impatience?

Live communally. Goodness begins and ends with God. One proof of a Christ-like faith is how you treat others (1 John 3:16-18). May you reflect His goodness to others because you choose to.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2014 by Mike Olejarz

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