Monthly Archives: March 2014

Monday Motivator – March 31

How satisfied are you with who you are today? Do you believe it’s possible to change? Why is it easier to remain in the gravitational pull of the status quo and stay the same?

It’s never easy stepping into the unknown. Leaving school for a summer internship. Leaving college for the marketplace. Having to deal with prolonged illness, even the death of a family member. Finding out your wife is pregnant with your first (second, even third…) child. Getting older and thinking your place in the organization is not necessarily needed much longer.

I have told graduating college students to “embrace change.” I also added that change is never an easy endeavor. Often it is a challenging journey and process. The comfort of surroundings and environment can often be more difficult to leave than undertaking a new challenge.

Are you eager to take on a new challenge, or are you comfortable with your life the way it is? How do you feel about tackling a new set of classes, or another job interview? I often suggested to students that how they faced smaller opportunities like keeping their dorm or apartment clean, managing their checkbook, calling their parents every week like they promised, or going through with that blind date were indicators of their character and ability to handle responsibility.

The way you handle (or don’t handle) smaller stuff is a great window into the way you might handle other new and bigger things – the stuff of life like filling out an application for a job and showing up for the interview on time. Taking extra initiative on a project not just to get extra credit, but simply applying yourself to a higher standard of excellence.

How about the “unfamiliar paths” God wants to lead you? Like the path toward becoming more and more like Him? That is the path Paul talks about in Romans 8 when he speaks of the will of God for each of us is being conformed to the image of His Son, Jesus. That is the roughest path of all – to become Christ-like. It brings change to the kind of person you are deep inside. The prophet Isaiah spoke in 42:16 of his Old Testament book that God promised to “make the rough places smooth.” But how do you start on that path?

Read 2 Peter 1:3-11.

The apostle Peter gave us a glimpse of the purposes of God when he listed the character qualities to not just aspire to, but to work on and see built into our lives. In 2 Peter 1:5-7, he wrote, “For this reason, add…faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, kindness, and love…eight words that declare our need for growth. These qualities do not come naturally to humans (look at your roommate for evidence, or better yet, yourself).

How satisfied are you with the amount of kindness you show? Do you know God well enough? Have you taken the first step of trusting (i.e., faith) in Jesus alone to save and protect your soul?

Peter said God has given us everything we need for life and godliness for a reason (v 3-4). So take a step. Walk with God along unfamiliar paths. Read “Hinds Feet for High Places” by Hannah Hurnard during Lent to better understand the journey you must take before you can live in the high places. Isaiah said God will take hold of your hand (42:6) and walk with you into the unknown. Serve globally. Know Him and make Him known. The unknown is known by God.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2014 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – March 24

When you learn about the time when Darwin’s theory of evolution was introduced in the 1800’s, you will find that many scientists were eager to accept it. There was a philosophic argument going on that said religious ideas and principles were made up by weak minded people who needed to believe in a set of myths that were organized. Modernism’s influence was growing and that worldview said it did not need any sort of faith system to make sense of the world.

People a century or two in the past did not know as much as we know today. Our understanding and grasp of space has increased significantly through space exploration, probes, and the Hubble telescope. Our knowledge of the world around us has increased as well due to powerful microscopes. Each new discovery has exponentially increased additional evidence for an intelligent designer, which followers of God would argue is the Creator and Designer of all.

One piece of evidence I am amazed at is the human cell. In Darwin’s day the cell was simply a drop, splatch, spot, dash, or blob of protoplasm. They just did not have the technology to know that much about the cell, but today we know better.

One science journal I perused revealed that the entire human cell should be viewed as a factory that contains an elaborate network of interlocking assembly lines, each of which is made up of large protein machines. One of my college professors described our cells as complex mechanisms. The surface of the cell actually has sensors, gates, pumps, and markers for identification and purpose. The inside of a cell has tiny power plants, work areas, and units for recycling. Microscopic rails carry materials from one area to another in the cell with rigorous consistency. Tiny bacteria such as E-coli have small, outboard motors (or flagellum) that have an engine, drive shaft, U-joint and propeller that move at high rates of speed.

A term has arisen among those who study these incredible cells and it is intelligent design. The general premise is it would require an intelligent creator to devise and create the intricate, microscopic ingredients necessary for a cell to be created and put in motion. The odds of the components necessary to make a cell coming into creation (and maturity) at the same time in order to function effectively is infinitesimally small. In other words, they could never be assembled by chance. All of the parts have to be assembled simultaneously in order to function.

Read Psalm 139:13

The writers of Scripture argue that there is One God and Creator. He wrote two Books (Scripture and nature) for humans to study and follow its clues in order to find Him. The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 139 that God is creatively and actively involved in making and developing human life (v 13). He cares for a baby who is made at conception and has an eternal destiny for his or her life.

I believe the inner workings of a human cell are clues to the existence and character of God. I also believe intricate designs all around us on earth, under the earth and the seas, and in space are additional clues to a Designer. Ultimately, Jesus is the clearest evidence of the God who is.

I agree with the apostle John that God created everything by His powerful Word (John 1:1-3). More and more people, including those in the physical sciences, are beginning to acknowledge His incredible design. Walk wisely. The cell leaves clues and speaks well of God. Will you?

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2014 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – March 17

What is an example of something you notice but don’t take action on? How can you change that?

Jesus never had an office, a home to invite people to, or a third space (i.e., Starbucks or Panera Bread) on a corner lot in Capernaum. He did not use any media to announce his speaking, or wait around for people to come to Him for healing, guidance, or help with an issue, pain, or disease.

Jesus didn’t simply hang out with friends in Jerusalem and send a messenger on camelback to the Temple with a large Post-it note to the merchants to stop desecrating His Father’s house with their greedy sales efforts. Instead, He walked the dusty road, entered the Temple, observed what was happening and ultimately flipped over the money changers tables. Used a whip, too!

Read John 2:12-16.

Jesus was a man of action. He confronted challenges head-on, went where the people were, and engaged folks in every day life. Dr. Luke said that Jesus taught at the synagogue, was rejected in his own hometown, drove out evil spirits, and healed many – all in a short period that Luke records in the fourth chapter of his gospel.

Consider how Jesus dealt with evil. He was willing to meet Satan face to face during his temptation (Matthew 4:1-11). He traveled across the Sea of Galilee for an opportunity to meet and heal the demon-possessed man of the Gerasenes (Mark 5:1-11). Jesus listened to and rebuked the leading religious leaders of Judaism, the Pharisees, and called them some unflattering things in Matthew 23, and not from the safety of the synagogue.

It is amazing to hear perceptions of people about Jesus. Do an experiment this week – ask some family, friends, co-workers, even random folks you walk by on campus what they think about Jesus? What is their general impression of Him? Just ask and listen and thank them for sharing their thoughts. If it seems natural as a follow-up, ask them why they think what they think.

One misconception people have about Jesus is that He is a really only a nice guy. Since He is closely associated with love (thanks to the sign people at sporting events who hold up John 3:16), it is hard for most people to attribute anything but love to Jesus. They also add the descriptions of sweetness, flowers, children in his lap, lambs on his shoulders, and softness.

I bet you would not hear folks mention to you that Jesus loved the people in the Temple enough to correct them. He loved the women caught in adultery enough to say, “Go and sin no more.” He loved that demon-possessed man enough to meet him personally and free him of satanic forces. He loved the Pharisees enough to show them their error in handling and interpreting Scripture. He loved Peter enough to give him another chance after he denied knowing Jesus.

Jesus lived an aggressive life. He was free from evil and wrong, but not afraid to confront it. When you see sin, pain, or injustice, you should address it by speaking out against it, fighting for those who need help, and working to right a wrong…not passively, but aggressively. What would Jesus do? Jesus would never just sit there, walk by, ignore it, or complain about it. He took action. Shouldn’t we follow His example? Live communally. How can you be aggressive without turning people off or getting in trouble? A passive Christian is a weak one.

Love is a verb

Mike Olejarz

©2014 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – March 10

My neighbor and his dad attended the Syracuse University-University of Virginia (UVA) men’s basketball game recently. It was a contest between two highly ranked and successful basketball teams in Charlottesville, Virginia. I watched the game on television and the announcers said time and again how loud it was in John Paul Jones arena. When UVA started to pull away in the second half, the crowd erupted in louder chants, cries, screams, and banner waving. Cheerleaders bounced up and down, thousands of fans waved orange and blue pom-poms, and the electronic scoreboard called for responses with large neon words, “LOUDER!” UVA! UVA!

There is something energetic about a loud room or space or stadium. People are excited about what is going on, and once people on either side of you start yelling, you are more likely to join in. When time expired and UVA won the game, fans rushed the floor and you could not hear the announcers for a few minutes. My neighbor said it was so loud inside the arena that he could not hear his dad talking to him in the next seat.

Contrast that scene with the following: Imagine you are at a concert and your favorite band finishes one of their number 1 hits. But for some reason, no one makes a sound. Would you be willing to jump to your feet and start screaming all alone? Even if you knew the song was great but everyone around you (including the friends who came with you) were clueless not to join you in going crazy? Is that possible?

Read Psalm 96 (out loud, with emotion).

The writer of this Psalm believed God was someone to get loud about. Psalm 96 starts with the idea of singing. Talking. Just open your mouth and talk about God. Let it flow and let it go. Those who have received the salvation God provides and experienced His wonderful provision must be eager to tell others that He can deliver and save them, too. Just do it. Loudly. Sing. Tell. Declare. Ascribe. Worship. Say. Something.

Some might push the idea away. Some might shy away from being too verbal, or spiritualize their intentions to excess. But consider how fake, phony or counterfeit it appears to banish praise for God from your everyday conversation. Every day you can see the handiwork of God’s creative abilities, revel in His excellent provisions, and see His marvelous deeds, both general and specific. Every day you can trust and rest in His steadfast character.

I am not suggesting you stand up in chemistry class and start shouting praise to God. But you should not keep quiet either. Consider a few applications from Psalm 96:

Be consistent in praising God for who He is and what he has done in Scripture and history. Be quick to give God credit for His work in your life. When someone says, “How are you doing?” say, “Walking in God’s grace,” instead of merely, “Ok.” When friends note how you handled a challenge, let them know how God guided and strengthened you. When someone talks about what God has done for them, affirm them for voicing what they have experienced.

Think theologically. If you can get loud at a concert, or an athletic event, or a wedding, or in getting that summer internship, how can you be “loud” about your faith? You don’t always have to be loud purely on decibels, but at least be audible! Live out loud for God’s sake.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2014 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – March 3

Agree or disagree with the following statement: “No one in the English speaking world can be considered literate without a basic knowledge of the Bible?”

Do you know how many teaspoons of sugar are in the average 12 ounce can of soda? Can you change a flat tire? Can you identify the ten largest cities in the world? The Real-World Aptitude Test (R.A.T.) answers these questions and more. The R.A.T. is divided into two parts, the first containing questions in thirty different subject areas, and the second providing answers and explanations to these life-defining questions. Subject areas include cooking, managing money, etiquette, geography, sports, and many more. Test your knowledge and find answers!

Lawyer and parent Homer Moyer Jr., created the Real World Aptitude Test as a fun, going away present for his daughter as she completed high school. In researching the questions before publication in 2001, Moyer discovered students are weak in the arts, strong in computers, and terribly ignorant of the Bible. He even coined the phrase at the beginning of this post.

It is encouraging that Moyer included the quote because the Bible is often referred to as “God’s textbook for living.” It is the best selling book of all time for many reasons. One of its purposes is to provide real life knowledge, guidance, and transferable skills for anyone who wants to walk in God’s way. One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 2:6-7, which states, “The Lord gives wisdom, and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless.” Peek at verse 8 for a bonus.

But let’s face it…it takes more than a basic knowledge of Scripture to do well. You could argue the devil knows Scripture (as well as some college literature professors who purport to teach it), but look how much it impacts their lives. Proverbs chapter 2 opens with eight steps that lead to the sort of results most parents hope their children will adhere to, and campus missionaries hope Christian college students practice as spring break approaches.

Consider the list of eight steps in verses 1-4 beginning with, “If you accept my words” and ending with “if you search for understanding as for hidden treasure.” The results start in verse 5: “Then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” “Then you will understand what is right and just and fair – every good path” (verse 9). Verse 12 adds that, “Wisdom will save you from the ways of the wicked men.”

Read Proverbs 2:1-22.

How can you make the reading and study of Scripture more than merely an academic exercise? What do you think it means to “find the knowledge of God” in Proverbs 2:5? Only by storing up God’s Word in your mind can we learn to live wisely and rightly in our relationship with God. Psalm 119:9 and 11 says we can become victorious over sin with God’s commands in our hearts. Jesus agreed in John 15:7. Pastor James agreed in 1:21-22 of his book.

Grow devotionally. Buy the Real World Aptitude Test for fun and use it as a Trivial Pursuit type game with friends (and give a copy to kids going to college). But look to God’s Word for the questions and answers that really count. Check out the reading plans for Lent on the YouVersion app for your mobile device. The Bible will help you ace the tests of life.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2014 by Mike Olejarz

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