Monthly Archives: December 2014

Monday Motivator – December 29

What is the major consideration that guides most of your daily decisions? Being Christ-centered? Sharing Jesus with others? Serving others? Being relevant? Honoring God through excellence? How something impacts your pocketbook? Environmental or ecological concerns? Carrying your family name with respect? Gaining power, popularity, possessions, or privilege?

I’ve read articles about people dealing with life-altering circumstances who came to the conclusion that recovering from a near-fatal accident, battling a crippling disease, or dealing with a major injury suffered while serving in the military required serious attention and effort. That coupled with the love and support of their family meant anything else was merely a trivial matter in comparison.

Every decision we make is always framed in the context of another larger consideration. Often circumstances will determine our direction. A roommate of mine in college once left school for a while to care for an ailing family member. Another friend was affected by the plight of homeless people and started offering them a place to stay in his home. That gesture grew into a full time service organization called Good Works. Often priorities are determined primarily by our choices. Yet our deepest convictions about what is important should and will guide our steps through life. Therefore I pursue excellence in order to honor God and inspire others. The values you have on the wall of your home or office should be lived out in the halls you walk.

Read John 6:25-40.

Jesus appears to regularly explain that everything He did was determined by a single purpose – to accomplish His Father’s will. When His disciples, who often worried about their next meal, could not figure why Jesus was not hungry, He replied, “I have food to eat that you do not know about…my food is to do the will of Him who sent me” (John 4:32,34).

After the crowds ate a meal that Jesus miraculously provided, they wanted to make Him their King. He responded by saying, “I have come down from heaven not to do My will but to do the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38).

Dr. Luke recorded an event in the Gospel he wrote regarding the agony Jesus faced in bearing the sin of the world on the cross. After being beaten, mocked, and ridiculed, and nailed to the executioner’s cross, Jesus prayed, “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me, but not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

We live in a world where so many are comfortable and content to “go with the flow” and respond with “whatever” when you ask them “why” they are doing “what” they are doing. Jesus indicates that there in no substitute for bedrock convictions that differentiate the trivial from the important. There is a difference between being self-centered and Christ-centered. There is a difference between loving sin and hating God or loving God and hating sin. There is a difference between graciously serving others or being like the old Scrooge in the Dicken’s Christmas carol.

A determination to learn and do the will of the Father in heaven is the gateway to freedom and joy. Think theologically. Your decision to know and serve Christ affects all of your other decisions. In light of those priorities, anything else will seem more like a trivial pursuit.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2014 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – December 22

Andy Puleo was a campus ministry colleague of mine at Ohio University (OU) in the 1980’s. He was the director of The Navigators and befriended me as a campus minister when I showed up in September of 1982. He was a few years older than me but I remember him taking me under his wing and encouraging me in many areas of student work.

One was the area of personal growth. I did not have much perspective, theology, or practice yet on how to intentionally grow myself.

Andy shared a few practices that Nav staff used to model, teach, and inculcate in their students, one of which he called the Hand illustration. He drew an image of the five fingers of a hand gripping the spine of a book. Andy said that the Word of God was essential to the growth and maturity of any follower of Christ. If we were going to “make disciples” of students on campus like Jesus demanded in Matthew 28:18-20, we need to “take in” in the Word as a holy habit and be able to pass it on to students as a transferable concept – one they can readily understand, practice, and pass on to others. He said 2nd Timothy 2:2 started with us as staff.

The Hand illustrates five ways that we can get a grasp of the Word of God. Each one of them is important and vital to our growth in Christ.

Hearing – Romans 10:17

God has called leaders to preach and teach the Bible to us. Each of us needs the instruction and encouragement of hearing the Word taught on a regular basis.

Reading – Revelation 1:3

In order to gain an understanding of God’s work and plan from beginning to end we must read the Bible. The whole Bible can be read in as little as 80 hours by the average reader. Reading the Bible gives us breadth.

Studying – Acts 17:11

Studying the Word gives us insight into the meaning of God’s message to us. Studying the Word gives us depth.

Memorizing – Psalm 119:9,11

Choosing select passages and memorizing the Word is valuable both for our own personal growth but also for ministry to others. We can share the gospel message with those who don’t know Christ and share the Word with fellow believers.

Meditation – Psalm 1:2-3

Meditation on God’s Word is the thumb of the Hand. The thumb is able to touch each of the fingers. Likewise we can meditate on the Word as we hear it taught, read through it, study it and memorize it. Meditation is considering the implications of God’s Word for our own lives. It is reflection on the Word for the purpose of personal application.

Of course, the practice of healthy and consistent habits leads to an obedient Christ-honoring lifestyle. Grow devotionally. How is your Bible intake? What is your strategy to grow yourself and then assist others in developing a healthy and balanced input and usage of Scripture?

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2014 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – December 15

It is never easy to lose leaders in an organization because you never have enough capable people. The news that Gabe Moya has resigned his missionary status with Chi Alpha Campus Ministries has made me sad. I want to recognize and honor my friend’s calling, character, and fruitfulness. I have had the privilege of working with Gabe on the Chi Alpha National Training Team in Charlottesville, VA, the past three years. I have seen the quality and depth of his character, along with the leadership and skill he has brought to the initiatives and projects we worked on.

Born and raised in Hawaii, he holds degrees in Biblical Studies and Philosophy and a Master of Divinity, and has completed training in Clinical Pastoral Education. He and wife Trish have been married since 1991, have two children, and have served with Chi Alpha since the late 90’s.

Gabe served as a Campus Missionary in Training (CMIT – our language for prospective new staff) in 1998-99 with Joe Zickafoose at Southwest Missouri State. Gabe re-pioneered and led the Chi Alpha chapter at the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) from 1999 to 2009. During much of that time, Gabe also served as the state director of Chi Alpha in CO, as well as on the Rocky Mountain regional team. He served on the National Training Team from 2009 to 2014. Gabe was the primary facilitator of menternship.com, Chi Alpha’s first on-line training for marketplace ministry. His imprint on Chi Alpha has been from local to global.

Dr. Harvey Herman, National Director of Training said: “On the Training Team we worked together to expose Chi Alpha Nation to servant leadership. Of the competencies of a servant leader, you will find many of these reflected in the robustness of Gabe and Trish – characteristics like critical thinking, community building, self-awareness, healing of souls, and persuasive foresight. They live as missional people with a clear and certain calling from God to serve. They’re the real deal, easy to like, and even easier to love.”

Nate Banke was a student under Gabe at UNC.  He told me: “When God gave me a word to transfer to UNC from an Idaho school I didn’t know why. Gabe was the one who God used to answer that question as he connected me into Chi Alpha at UNC, and was the one who infused the vision and passion for Chi Alpha’s future that has continued to direct my life to this day as the Chi Alpha director at Colorado State and state rep in CO. Gabe’s deep wisdom and insight into life and faith, partnered with his deep concern for those of us who were his students, gave him the impact that lead to so many lives changed and forever marked by his influence.”

Lisa Eggert, another former student said, “Fourteen years ago, Gabe Moya called my dorm telephone at UNC and invited me to Chi Alpha.  Little did he know, I had just accepted Jesus the day before and prayed for someone to teach me about what it means to follow Christ. Well, I’m confident that God answered my prayers by that phone call. I have seen Gabe commit his life to having intentional relationships with American and International students.  He is loyal, faithful, compassionate and wise.  He has always challenged me to listen to and obey Jesus.  When you spend time with Gabe, you can’t help but feel like the time together was a gift from God.”

Wherever he served, Gabe has done just what Jesus demanded in Matthew 28:18-20: making disciples. While Gabe joins the staff of City Church in Charlottesville, he told me he wants to stay connected to Chi Alpha and aid in developing healthy leaders. Serve globally. Join me in imitating Gabe’s example of intentional discipleship, authenticity, and servant leadership.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2014 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – December 8

In reality, we all get hooked on something sometime. It may be a sports event like college or professional playoffs, a cultural and political conversation about an invigorating or maddening topic, a TV series like Downton Abbey or Blue Bloods, or one of the made-for-TV reality shows like American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, or an old timer like Survivor.

We know we are being enticed into the current buzz and ratings effort of advertisers and content producers. But why is it captivating to find out what happens to a bunch of strangers willing to step out of their comfort zone and try and win a lot of money? Why do we wonder if an athlete or a recognizable personality can really cut it on the dance floor in front of a large crowd?

It is amazing that people would put their lives on hold, travel to a deserted location, eat strange food, battle weather, risk injury, illness, and insult, and plot and scheme to eliminate their competitors and win the prize, for a slim chance at a pile of money and/or 15 minutes of fame.

But along with bugs, snakes, sickness, twisted ankles, sore throats, hurt feelings after a judge’s evaluation, and outright rejection, participants also have to deal with cameras, microphones, and arm chair commentators who capture, digest, and critique their every move, word, missed opportunity, dropped pass, and flagrant transgression. The pressure of any of those could be traumatic, right? That’s why one of my English professors said it is so hard for someone to write a book, because you know someone may read it and give feedback that you’re not ready to hear.

Sadly, many of us don’t realize that our lives are being watched all the time – even if we never apply to be on “safer places” like Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, or Family Feud. There is One who watches all our decisions, conversations, and actions. He never misses our poor motives, deadly words, scheming tricks, or self-aggrandizing efforts to get position, power, or pleasure. He never misses the unsaid, but actual intentions of our hearts and minds. Yet remarkably, He is not standing ready or willing to kick us out of His diverse, growing global family of adoptees.

Read Hebrews 4:13-16.

God has His eyes on each of us not to condemn us, but to guide and empower us to get to the prize the apostle Paul described in Philippians 3:14. He knows about the people we struggle to get along with, the habits and brokenness that often entangle us, and the stuff we don’t want to discuss or share with others. But the writer of Hebrews said in the first few verses of chapter 12 that we are to run our race – to fail forward when necessary – and to not be ashamed to invite others into God’s tribe, even if we have not been the healthiest Christ-follower lately.

TV shows don’t hold participants accountable for what they said or did in their pursuit of fast money, fame, or popularity. In the eyes of many, the cash prizes alone justify whatever it takes to win. But God sees and will judge our motives, intentions, and actions. If you remember that He sees through your façade, masks, and makeup, and all the way into your heart, you’ll find you will make (with the Holy Spirit’s aid) fewer choices you wish you could keep hidden.

What have you thought, said, or done this week that you wished God had not seen or heard? Walk wisely. Knowing God sees everything we do can be frightening, but try and turn it into a positive. Start by reading Psalm 139. We can hide from everyone but God. He’s safe to be with.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2014 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – December 1

Over the decades I have asked students to use the example of Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9 and write out the beginning of their journey with the Lord. Dr. Luke, the author of the Book of Acts in the New Testament recounted the sequence of events that led Saul (later renamed Paul) to become a follower of Jesus. Luke used a beforehowafter framework to recall how the Jewish rabbi met Jesus on a Damascus road. Aren’t you glad Luke took time to write down this story?

Read Acts 9 and look for the three segments of Paul’s testimony. What was Saul of Tarsus like “before” he met Jesus? “How” did it happen? Since meeting and following Jesus, how is Paul different “after” making such a decision? Bonus info: Luke re-told the story in Acts 26.

Have you ever written out your before-how-after conversion experience? How could that be helpful to you or others? I have relied on my story to anchor my faith in a historical context. I remember meeting Jesus at Ohio University in a real and significant way in the 1970’s. Sharing my story with others has boosted their interest in and faith consideration of Jesus, whether they were a believer at the time, or checking out what faith in Christ meant.

The experiences you are having as a believer in Jesus are fresh, personal, valuable, and enriching. You are learning new things about God all the time, overcoming obstacles and old tendencies, and finding strength from the Holy Spirit to live a Christ-honoring life. God is providing for your needs such as trustworthy friends, a job, stable emotional and physical health, funds for a college education, and a mind to learn and apply what you’re studying.

Therefore, it is good to remember our experiences with God. When we see His provision, we should express appreciation and thanks. When we get discouraged, He provides strength and endurance. When we suffer, He walks with us. When we struggle with uncertainty, He offers perspective and asks us to trust Him in the dark. When we’re feeling pessimistic, the reminder of God’s goodness can make the sun shine in our soul again. When we’re unsure of our present and/or future, His past direction and provision inspires and assures us to hold on.

Read Titus 2:1-8.

Another benefit of remembering who the Lord is (and what he has done) is that it can assist others. One of the blessings of growing in faith is mentoring new followers of Christ like Paul invested in people like Timothy and Titus. As they encountered challenges, Paul was able to tell them how God helped him to face and overcome various struggles, resistance, and troubles. As they struggled with fear, temptation, and sin, Paul was able to share the wisdom and ways God helped him to deal with the issues and find victory (1 Corinthians 10:13 and 1 Timothy 1:6-7). You can encourage others by recounting how you deal with the habit of daily prayer, overcoming new challenges in sharing your faith with others, and walking in the fruit and gifts of the Spirit.

The memories you’re building right now are key and important. The Scriptures speak of “making an altar,” and remembering what the Lord has done in your life. You may want to journal, i.e., write stuff down in a notebook, or on your mobile device, in order to track your spiritual journey. It would then be available to you to “teach what is good” (Titus 2:1,3) when younger Christians need encouragement from you. Who is someone that you need to care for and invest in? Live communally. Experience(s) become more blessed when they are shared.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2014 by Mike Olejarz

 

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