Monthly Archives: July 2014

Monday Motivator – July 28

What is your passion in life? Why does your faith journey in Christ sometimes feel like a burden more than a passion?

The word “passion” has some interesting meaning attached to it. It is unusual in that it is comprised of opposite meanings. One definition involves being moved by inner excitement and enthusiasm. Another is suffering that comes from being acted on by external forces.

We have all heard stories of an athlete, entertainer, teacher, entrepreneur, even a friend or parent describe the early years of their lives as a bit disjointed, even directionless. An unsettled home life, being out of sync at school, or their first job was not what they envisioned and they struggled to feel connected, on track, in their sweet spot. They had not yet found what they were really made for, but once they did, the pieces started to fall in place.

Life was nothing until they found something that captured their heart, mind, and strength. A turn around happened when they discovered a passion in or for life. Suddenly, their motivation was boundless, the air they breathed was fresher, their vision clearer, and they had something worth living for. That changed everything. Stories of achievement, overcoming obstacles like family history, poor choices, even pain and illness reverberate as turning points.

Read Mark 15:21-39.

Ever wonder* why the writers of the New Testament Gospels called the last week of Jesus’ life the Passion Week? During the days between the Jewish Passover and Easter, it is common for followers of Christ to think about and reflect on the sufferings of our Lord and Savior: His steadfast determination to obey the will of His Father; His tears for Jerusalem; His prayer of agony in the Garden of Gethsemane; the arrest, insults, abuse, degradation, and humiliation He was subjected to prior to His crucifixion; the actual (and unimaginable) physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual pain He experienced as He bore the sins of the world on the cross.

But Passion Week* in the Christian calendar also reveals the inner fire that motivated Jesus to fulfill his destiny by walking directly towards Calvary, the eventual place of His death (and resurrection). He knew exactly what lay ahead as he and his motley crew of disciples headed toward Jerusalem in all four Gospel accounts. Even if Dr. Luke had never written down the words Jesus uttered one day, “The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10), people would have recognized that focus and purpose by what He actually did.

They saw His battered and beaten body nailed to a cross. Mockers told Him to come down from the cross and save Himself – if he was truly God. But they missed the reason He was up there in the first place. They did not pay attention to Old Testament prophecies about “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” Ignoring their taunts, Jesus saved everyone by staying on the cross…everyone but Himself.

Passion Week* reveals the heart and soul of King Jesus. It should shine a spotlight into our heart as well. How would our lives change if we were motivated and energized by the life of Christ within us? Hint: Read 2 Corinthians 5:11-21. Serve globally. We work to reconcile students to Christ to transform the university, marketplace, and world. So be passionate about Jesus!

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2014 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – July 21

What do you find mysterious about death?

There are many TV shows and movies being made that deal with illnesses, diseases, and events that lead to zombie-like conditions, sicknesses and plagues that threaten the entire human species, and dire predictions about our future. Current world events contribute to worries about safety, shaky solutions to vexing issues like terrorism, and ultimately, peace of mind. Magazines and stations like PBS produce articles and commentary about “Dying on Your Own Terms.”

It seems more and more people are thinking and talking about how they are going to die. For all the advantages of modern science, including the many medical discoveries that bring huge benefits (the greatest being extending life), they have also made it harder to die.

As a result, the truth is that many citizens of the United States (and other western nations) will die in some health-related institution, connected to machines. Most people, I believe, would prefer to come to the end of their lives in the presence of family and friends, but end-of-life decisions are often out of the patient’s control due to poor planning.

As more and more Baby Boomers approach the final exit sign, they are seeking ways to remove the uncertainty. End of life directives, wills and trusts, and discussing end of life situations with loved ones are steps all of us should pursue. Yet the reality is many do not prepare for the end.

Many of us have experienced the death of a family member, and some the premature end of a friend’s life. Yet while attending the funeral of someone brings the issue of our own mortality to light, many tend to push away the feelings and thoughts of death to another day.

The discussion even feels a bit futile. We know we are all going to die, but no one comes up with an ideal scenario that seems to fit, a pathway that works, or a timeline that is acceptable. Even folks who had an out-of-body experience describe how they knew they were never completely gone. Such a wide amount of personal stories doesn’t seem to encourage us to plan ahead. So I suggest we plan for our life’s end as mentioned above to be good stewards, but to talk about life instead. To be more precise, what does a life well lived look like?

Read Psalm 39.

The author, David, King of Israel, recognized how you live really dictates how you die. That is why he knew where to look in the Old Testament book of Psalms for answers on life and death issues. He wrote in 39:7, “My hope is in the Lord.” After all, without God, it’s impossible to find meaning and purpose for our rather brief time on planet Earth. The Israelites lived with God at the center of their existence and His presence was cultivated in every aspect of their lives.

If we live our life on our own terms and ignore God (and the clues He left for us to follow), we will make some serious mistakes about life that will affect our death. Do not be naïve. Commit your life and ways to the One who sovereignly set the terms for His creation.

Re-read Psalm 39:7. What caused David to make such a claim? How can his words help lessen your fear of death? Walk wisely. When you take death seriously, you’ll take life seriously.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2014 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – July 14

How can you help a student who feels trapped by the brokenness they have experienced? How often do they use their family history as an excuse for behavior that dishonors God?

Joe came from a bit of a broken family. His father had twelve children by four different women – two of whom he was married to and two others who were hired by the wives as live-in nanny’s. Not to mention that Joe’s dad had a long-standing conflict with his brother…Joe’s uncle…a man he swindled way back…so family gatherings could be tense and uncomfortable.

The saga continues: Joe’s only sister was assaulted by a bully, who had the nerve to later ask if he could marry her (sounds noble under the circumstances, doesn’t it?). Some of her brothers were so ticked off that they killed the offending guy and all of his friends and relatives. Ouch.

For Joe, who could be accused of being a bit aloof, off in his dreams, and who mostly avoided the family mess, the real trouble started when his dad favored him above his eleven older brothers. His dad missed the parenting seminar on how not to cause sibling rivalry that is a present and ongoing reality in the lives of many children.

Since killing people was in the brother’s history, they schemed and plotted to do away with Joe. They ended up selling little Joe into slavery to travelers from another country – which was a step or two below flat out murder. Then they went home and lied about it to their parents.

In our modern culture, Joe’s story sounds just like the sort of script that would appeal to a reality show writer. With such a range of experiences, you can imagine how Joe sounded as he introduced himself to other freshman students in the lounge in his dorm. Can you see how some might extend Joe the “victim” card and excuse him from any “normal” expectations for an adult? After all, imagine the mess he turned out to be? But it wasn’t his fault, right?

So did he: (a) Become a bitter, angry, mass murderer? (b) Refuse to trust anyone in authority? (c) Leave home with a bad attitude toward his parents, threatening never to return? (d) Marry and divorce several times because of his dad’s poor example? (e) Get into drugs and alcohol as an escape to dull the pain of his dysfunctional family story? (f) Ultimately work through years of suffering and ridicule, false accusations that led to time in prison, and rise to become second-in-command in the country that imprisoned him, before he rescued that same country from famine?

Read Genesis 39:1-21.

Joe was not one who complained about his circumstances, or got into trouble on purpose. Yes, trouble found him often, but Joe continued to trust and obey God and overcame his flawed history. What an example! He could have said, “My dad was too easy on me and caused my brothers to hate me.” Or “My mom did not take good care of me.” Joe took responsibility, did what he knew to be right, ran from an inappropriate sexual encounter, was wrongly sent to prison, depended on God’s strength, and was later vindicated…with a job promotion.

Who would want to be Joe? No one would choose his back-story. But we should all want to be the kind of God-honoring person he became despite the troubles he faced. Live communally. Like Joe, we need to do what is right – no matter what. With God, tests can become triumphs.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2014 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – July 7

Who is the most recent convert to faith in Jesus Christ that you know? What part did you play in his or her beginning a relationship with Jesus?

Read Romans 10:14.

Chi Alpha Campus Ministries exists because we believe the God of the Bible is indeed alive, present, and active in today’s world. Our staff and students believe He has entrusted to us the ministry of sharing His message of salvation and forgiveness (see 2 Corinthians 5:18-20).

I heard recently from Chi Alpha missionaries Joe and Rachel Gavin (The University of Vermont), Glen Davis (Stanford University), Eric Treuil (The University of Louisiana), and Mark Randall (Murray State University – KY), how they are equipping students to be aware of those around them who need to hear the good news of Jesus, and how to connect with them.

Not that Chi Alpha is the sole recipient of God’s message or that we have cornered the market in evangelism. We are one of many campus ministries working to engage students and faculty on college campuses with the person and message of Jesus. Thousands of churches encourage their members to share their faith – providing excellent training opportunities and evangelistic events.

Regardless of where you are right now in your church attendance or Bible study practice, be sure to be involved in personal, group, and community evangelism. Nothing energizes a group of Christians like some new faces. It is refreshing to see the excitement new believers have about truth that us long-timers can take for granted.

Don’t live under the illusion that your non-Christian friends are not interested in the teaching of Jesus. They might seem cocky, irreverent towards things of faith, too involved in stuff they may not want to give up, or just plain bored with what they have seen of the people of Jesus (not to mention maybe being stiff-necked, hard-hearted, and running from God). That’s why the apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:11 that, “we regard no one from a worldly point of view.”

Paul recognized people who ooze confidence may be shielding insecurities, doubts, and fears deep inside. Those who practice sin are covering up their fragility and pain in the wrong way(s). Remember the woman at the well in John 4 that Jesus spoke with? She attempted to hide her pain through relational fragmentation, but Jesus patiently listened and found the way to her heart. She became a vibrant witness of who Jesus was to her friends, family, and whole community.

We have a wonderful message to share with everyone. When someone responds to Jesus (and they will), everyone gets blessed. New believers experience God’s presence and the messenger revels in being part of the process. Being a witness involves telling what you’ve seen and heard.

Chi Alpha Campus Ministries engages students and faculty in discussions about life’s hardest questions and the relevance of Jesus to all of life. Join us as we seek to inspire the shapers of tomorrow’s culture to connect their life, passion, and journey to the story and person of Jesus Christ. What changes does God need to make in you through His Holy Spirit to make you more useful as an evangelist? Are you ready and willing? Think theologically. Witnessing about Jesus is every believer’s responsibility, including yours.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2014 by Mike Olejarz

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