Monthly Archives: September 2014

Monday Motivator – September 29

I was big and strong for my age in Little League baseball. Once I hit a line shot right at the pitcher and it hit him directly in the chest, knocking him down hard. He had trouble breathing and they took him out of the game. Later he said he never saw the ball coming because it was hit so hard and fast. His parents were understandably upset at his injury and expressed kindness to me that, “It wasn’t my fault, it was an accident.”

Another game had me trying to score a run from second base and as I slide into home plate, I collided with the catcher (who was half my size), and the result of the impact was a broken left leg for the catcher. As he was carted off the field, several parents yelled I was too big to play with their sons and one actually said I was menace.

These are two incidents I remember that made me cringe when I was a kid. I could not help it that I was big for my age, but allowed to play with other kids in organized sports leagues. I was more highly skilled than most of my fellow players and that enabled me to excel at many sports and games. I learned that I often threatened other participants with my size and abilities.

After the broken leg incident, the father of the boy approached my dad and me in the parking lot and said he and his wife did not hold any bad feelings toward me. I replied that it was not my intention of breaking his son’s leg, but the size difference somehow contributed to the awkward collision. The dad added that their son felt the same way and there was nothing to be ashamed about. He said, “Don’t let the anger of some loudmouth parents suggest you should stop playing and quit. There is nothing wrong with what you did in the moment of competition and you should keep playing hard as you have done.” My father and I were grateful for his kind words. In many ways, I felt “forgiven” by the catcher’s dad by his words and actions towards me.

Read Micah 7:17-19.

The prophet Micah revealed a forgiving God when he spoke out against the sin(s) of ancient Israel. He described Yahweh as One, “who pardons sin and forgives the transgressions of the remnant of His inheritance” (Micah 7:18).

Micah looked to the future in some ways with hope and proclaimed that the Lord, “does not stay angry forever, but delights to show mercy” (verse 18). Micah realized that God would not hold past sins against His people if they responded with repentance for their actions.

The God that Micah knew has and will forgive you and me as we confess our sin(s) to Him. But many of us also have to forgive ourselves. If you hang onto the sins, failures, and mistakes of the past (and even the present), you will not be able to serve Jesus with your whole heart today.

I was not happy to see players carted off the field due to my actions, and it certainly was not intentional on my part. Even though a parent said I was a menace, I never took it personally, thought about quitting, or believed I needed to be forgiven for my actions. The parents who took time to console me gave me the encouragement, freedom, and confidence to keep playing.

Walk wisely. Remember the forgiveness of God. Receive it. Let go of the past. Forgive yourself and press on to know and serve Jesus.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2014 by Mike Olejarz

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Monday Motivator – September 22

The Holy Spirit was sent by Jesus to “come alongside” us as a Comforter, Helper, and Advocate. He protects us, guides us into all truth, ministers to us, and gives gift(s) to each of us. He is also “with us” to empower us to make decisions to live like Jesus did (or would). The Greek word for “spirit” and “wind” is similar in the New Testament. Our responsibility is to respond to the Spirit’s activity within us, to “catch the wind” of His leading and guidance or “follow the wind.”

One example is the development of healthy, committed relationships. The New Testament is full of “one another” statements that describe the new quality of relationship Jesus modeled and calls us to imitate: Love one another, care for one another, serve one another, etc.

Consider the following six ingredients of building healthy, interdependent relationships as a framework to build into your life and faith practice.

Acceptance of one another, based on 1 Timothy 1:15-16: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.” Jesus forgave us, so we should extend love, acceptance, and forgiveness to others.

Being devoted to one another, based on Romans 12:10: “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

Pray for one another, based on Matthew 18:19: “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.”

Encouragement and affirmation, based on Hebrews 3:13: “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

Confess your sins to one another, based on James 5:16: “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” We confess to God for forgiveness, and to one another for healing.

Mutual submission and accountability, based on Ephesians 5:21: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” and Philippians 2:3: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”

These six ingredients are the kind of attitudes and actions expected of Christ-followers. The Holy Spirit guides and empowers us to become people who live up to those characteristics. He sets up circumstances for us to reflect the character of Christ by choosing to cooperate with Him. We need to yield to the Spirit (and Scripture) and practice these ingredients in our lives.

When Lazarus was brought back to life in John 11. Jesus said to his friends to “take off the grave clothes” and Lazarus was able to enjoy his “new life.” Live communally. Each of us is critical to one another as we seek to become more like our Master. We need one another to help us learn the Word of God, love the Word, and live the Word. Catch the Spirit’s wind, and follow it.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2014 by Mike Olejarz

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Monday Motivator – September 15

How do you feel about inspections? Do you appreciate their positive value?

I have come to realize they are a part of life. In every city in America you have to get your car inspected each year to make sure your vehicle will meet safety and emission standards – the place I go to advertises 45 components they examine before they’ll give me a new sticker that says my car is authorized to be on the road.

My dad told me about the consistent inspections in the U.S. military. Can you make your bed every day and take care of your uniform, grooming, appearance, and your foot locker with all of your belongings? Weapons and barracks are also on the list. Then comes the dreaded day when all the troops are inspected in full dress uniforms. They stand at attention while the base commander or some visiting General looks for loose threads, smudges, wrinkles, even a slightly sloppy stance – and an excuse to assert his authority and bust the soldier and maybe even his or her whole platoon.

Some colleges and universities have dorm inspections. When new students check in during fall orientation they go inch by inch through their room with a resident assistant to look for stuff that may not work (cold water in the sink), be worn or broken (a cracked drawer in the dresser), or missing (i.e., a shower curtain). They’ll do a similar review at the end of the year. One women’s college in Massachusetts used to have white glove inspections – I heard they gave up on them at a nearby men’s college. The gals worried for weeks, claimed it was unfair, and argued the penalties were too harsh. What else would you expect from normal college students? But their mothers were generally thrilled their daughters were being held to such lofty standards.

Read 1 Corinthians 4:1-5.

While inspections may be aggravating at times, and sometimes a nuisance, we have to admit that they serve a noble purpose. Most of the time an inspection is for our good. The Bible certainly affirms that is the case regarding the inspection of our lives by Jesus. In the New Testament book of 1st Corinthians, for example, the apostle Paul expressed his gratitude in chapter 4:1-5 that his “inspector” is the Lord, not other people. They don’t see any or all of who we are, what happens to us, and the heart motives we embody. They make mistakes. But Jesus’ review and oversight is spot-on, his analysis is perfect, and his guardianship of our soul is always redemptive-minded.

Jesus knows every strength and weakness we have. He recognizes our Achilles’ heel and general susceptibility to temptation. He sees every sin blemish we have. He is aware of every wrinkle that is out of sync with His will for our lives. His purpose though, is not merely to point out our iniquity, find fault with us, and tell us to “pick it up…improve your performance.” He desires to come alongside each of us, forgive us, strengthen us, and give us courage to keep moving forward as He draws us to Himself. His will and efforts are aimed at our overall flourishing.

In what ways does Jesus’ careful oversight of your soul benefit you? Consider the reality of 1 Peter 2:25. We should be glad Jesus is watching over our well being. Scripture teaches He purchased our salvation at great personal cost and offers it to us as a gift. The Holy Spirit fills and empowers us to become like Jesus as we practice our faith journey in order to run and finish our race and go to be with Him forever. Think theologically. Jesus is our life-inspector.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2014 by Mike Olejarz

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Monday Motivator – September 8

You have probably sung the doxology if you have been in church for any length of time. The words of this short hymn of praise in most traditions are: Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him, all creatures here below. Praise Him above the heavenly host. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. A—men.

Have you thought about the necessity and vitality of worshiping all three persons of the Trinity? God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are not to be excluded.

I assume that many Christ-followers are fairly adept at worshiping God the Father due to the “father images and metaphors” used in day-to-day church language and practice (“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name”). Others would recognize the centrality of what Jesus did on the cross and accomplished via an empty tomb to signify how critical Jesus is to anyone becoming right with God. He purchased salvation for anyone who would receive and believe Him (John 1:12). But what about the Holy Spirit?

Is it possible we may be neglecting one of the three co-equal members of the Godhead, and our worship may be a bit thin when we consider the Holy Spirit? He too, is deserving of our adoration, right?

We often refer to the Holy Spirit as the third Person of the Trinity, but that does not assume or communicate that He is any less important than the Father or the Son. Consider a short list of who He is and what He has done: He is eternal, wise, powerful, loving and just. Jesus said He, the Spirit, would come after Him to continue the vital work of conversion and empowerment in our lives. It was only because of the Spirit’s work in our lives that any of us became a believer in Jesus. It was the Spirit who convicted us of sin and helped us to realize salvation is found in no one else other than Jesus. It was the Spirit who drew us to say no to sin and yes to forgiveness, salvation, and new life in Christ the Savior. The moment you said yes to Jesus, the Holy Spirit regenerated your mortal body (John 3:6), made you part of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13), and sealed you in the Father’s family (Ephesians 1:13).

What an amazing effort He makes on the behalf of men and women who desire to be right with God. Now that you are a follower of the Most High (and true) God, do not forget that God the Father sent his only Son, Jesus, (who was obedient to death), to substitute Himself for you on the cross. The Holy Spirit then led you to salvation and will walk with you for the rest of your life. The promise of Scripture is that the Spirit will guide you, empower you to live according to God’s Word, gives you spiritual gifts with which to serve God, and He also prays for you.

Read Romans 8:9.

The apostle Paul argued in chapter 7 of the book of Romans that life without the grace and mercy of Jesus is misery, defeat, bondage to sin, and ultimately, death. Now in chapter 8, Paul states that new life with God, freedom from sin and condemnation, victory over sin, and power to live right is available through partnership with and submission to the Holy Spirit.

Next time you praise God, be sure to spend some time praising the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Grow devotionally. The doxology is an accurate way to praise God in His fullness.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2014 by Mike Olejarz

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Monday Motivator – September 1

Have you ever lost something? I remember leaving class my freshmen year at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI, and one of my classmates discovered his car had been stolen. If that doesn’t make you angry and want to kick or hit something, you are either numb, dense, really self-controlled, or your car was a real piece of junk. But still!

I remember my dad going over and over the tips he had for me to take care of the used ’68 Buick Le Sabre (nicknamed the Grey Ghost) he got me. To prevent this ride from being swiped or worse (me injured), I was given a lot of advice to take care of this great set of wheels.

Use common sense.

That is what my dad said is the starting point of general safety and security, if I wanted to maintain possession of the car. He outlined the basics as following: Obey the laws of the road, drive defensively at all times, take precautions, make your car a tough target (see the previous three items), don’t let your friends drive the car, don’t give a spare set of keys to your pals, lock your car doors, use a parking brake in a hilly area, avoid dangerous situations, and park in well-lit areas. I had to admit then and now that it was all pretty basic, common sense stuff.

Most parents do not want the pictures of their children to show up on the wall of the Post Office, or drop out of school for adrenaline-filled adventures as pirates, thieves, and bank robbers. Moms and dads teach, model, and work to inculcate their family values, habits, and traditions into the life and DNA of their kids in order for them to carry the family name forward with honor and dignity.

Read 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22.

Common sense is also a basic part of living the Christian life. Think about it – if you and I were to live according to the Ten Commandments (or just the ten verses above), a whole lot of issues and problems would never arise. That is not to say we would be perfect, but only that that using “kingdom sense” would aid us in living the kind of healthy and whole life God intends for His children. God has spelled out a lot of how-to-live principles in Scripture that make sense. For example: The Bible says to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness (1 Timothy 6:11). It also says to avoid every kind of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Both of those statements make sense, because we know that the only things that result from associating with evil are bad. Therefore, many parents urge their kids to choose their friends wisely, and remind them that nothing good happens after midnight. You hang around bad people and bad stuff happens. Evil will work to destroy any good or godly thing you try to do.

The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy and told him to pursue 1) righteousness, 2) godliness, 3) faith, 4) love, 5) endurance, and 6) gentleness. That seems like a common-sense list of healthy attitudes and actions to cultivate…if you want to stay off of any most wanted lists and make a positive difference in the world, on campus, or just in your area of influence.

Are you convinced that living God’s way is the best way? Ask God to help you pursue and develop the six characteristics every day for a week. You’ll discover that they just make sense. Serve globally. The Christian life is a common-sense life with Holy Spirit power.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2014 by Mike Olejarz

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized