Monthly Archives: January 2015

Monday Motivator – January 26

On one average day in Capernaum, Jesus was traveling and teaching about the kingdom of God. A group of religious leaders from all over the region had come to check him out because He had a reputation that aroused their attention. They wanted to hear what he was teaching and doing, because rumors were circulating that he was often in conflict with the religious authorities.

Read Luke 5:17.

The “Pharisees” (meaning “separated ones”), numbered about 6,000 and were spread out over Palestine. They taught in synagogues, were supposed to be religious examples to the people, and acted as self appointed guardians of the Jewish Law and its proper observance. They taught the interpretations handed down by tradition had the same authority as the Law itself and ought to be applied in daily life. Many Pharisees, however, became rigid, imbalanced, and hypocritical.

The “teachers of the law” were not a religious party, even though a lot of them were Pharisees. They were respected as having expert knowledge of the details of the Jewish legal tradition and would be expected to form an opinion about the correctness of Jesus’ teaching and actions.

Dr. Luke reported on this one day that the POWER of the Lord was present to heal the sick (v 17). Why that day? Mark (2:1) and Matthew record that this scene took place in Jesus’ hometown. Matthew writes (Mt 13:58) about a day when Jesus didn’t get much respect or honor as a prophet in his hometown and couldn’t do many miracles because of a lack of faith? Same town, but two different situations. What was present on this occasion?

Jesus said (Matthew 28:18), “that all authority in heaven and earth had been given to me.” One 1st century historian (Luke 8:25) said that Jesus had power “over all of nature because he commanded the winds and the water and they obey him.” That same writer recorded in his sequel book (Acts 10:38) “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.” Another 1st century writer (Paul in Romans 1:4) said “Jesus was declared to be the Son of God with power by his resurrection from the dead.”

A former Mafia gang member was asked about the influence he had before going to jail, and he replied, “In my position, you can’t describe the feeling of being able to do just about whatever you want.” An old writer said in Psalm 115:3, “Our God is in heaven. HE does whatever pleases him.” Did you hear the difference? FYI, Jesus has power to accomplish His purposes.

Luke 4:35-36 says that Jesus healed a man of being possessed by a demon; That same day he went to a friend named Peter’s house and they found his mother-in-law sick in bed. Jesus healed her immediately in 4:38-39; After dinner that same day, 4:40 says a lot of people brought their sick friends and family members to Jesus and Jesus healed them all. Some even had demons thrown out of them. On another day a man with leprosy (Luke 5:12-13) all over his body came to Jesus, asked to be healed, and was. Four different situations. God’s POWER was in action.

God has power over nature, demons, sickness, disease, even death itself. Think theologically. But even as you deepen your relationship with God, are you a vessel He can use to bless others? He wants you to walk in the fruit of the Spirit and be ready to be used in His power gifts, too.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2015 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – January 19

I remember visiting my aunt Zos and uncle Jack at their summer cottage when I was growing up in Michigan. They had all sorts of critters roaming about and we enjoyed fishing and playing outdoors. One challenge was catching the rabbits and getting them back in their pens at night so the bigger “critters” in the woods would not be able to get a late night snack. I learned a lesson one summer that if you chase two rabbits, both will escape.

The takeaway was to focus my attention. Many people do not and are ineffective. I also learned that concentration is the key to getting the results I hoped for. Avoid the tendency to do a little bit of everything.

If you want to grow, you need to focus. If you are going to focus, you need to identify what your goals and priorities are and follow them. That will mean a “thing(s) to do list” as well as a “things NOT to do list.” It is easy to spend time doing things that have little return. I have learned the value of determining how to be selective about where I invest my time and energy.

Read Psalm 90:12.

I want to use my time on planet earth well and attain wisdom, so I regularly examine my effort in developing myself. Many in ministry have a tendency to give much to others, while their life resembles a starving baker. At the end of each year, I consider how I might raise my spirituality, character, and leadership lid 5% by the end of the next year.

One spiritual growth project I did over thirty years ago was reading “Celebration of Discipline” by Richard Foster. The author presents the “classic” inward (meditation, prayer, fasting, study), outward (simplicity, solitude, submission, service) and corporate (confession, worship, guidance, celebration) disciplines as critical and necessary for us to become “deep people.”

The disciplines are God’s means of grace for us to practice in order to pursue Christ-likeness. They are exercises we can utilize to put ourselves in God’s presence. But it all starts with a longing for God. The “classic” disciplines are called such because Foster says they are central to experiential Christianity. Men and women across the centuries have affirmed the necessity of the disciplines in one form or another. Foster writes that the spiritual disciplines can only get us to the place where something can be done…by God, and “in” us.

The project I undertook was to learn and practice one of the twelve disciplines Foster writes about each month for a year. I would read a chapter on the first day of the month, then follow the guidelines mentioned as I “tried it out” in a few different ways. Then I would take the second one and repeat the process. I continue to benefit from the varied practices (or holy habits) I have come to enjoy. They have helped get into regular places in order to meet with God, walk with God, and most definitely, to experience God. One example is the quarterly day of silence and solitude I have practiced since 1982. What a joy it is to unplug and have a day with Jesus.

So consider reading “Celebration of Discipline” and imitating my spiritual growth project.

Grow devotionally. Foster closes the introduction in the book by saying, “Let us be among those who believe that the inner transformation of our lives is a goal worthy of our effort.”

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2015 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – January 12

I have been inspired by the apostle Paul for a long time. His transformation as told in Acts 9 and 26, and his humility, boldness, writing, and perseverance have stirred my imagination about the impact of Jesus on his life as well as all of humanity and history. The Savior of all actually walked on the planet in his bare feet. He was arrested, beaten, crucified, died, buried, and then was resurrected to authenticate his claims to be the One True God. Saul of Tarsus (later changing his name to Paul) was yet another example of the life-altering power of the Son of Man.

But Paul also intrigued me because he came across in Scripture as authentic, approachable, and intentional, and an imitatable example. He said to Timothy, one of his many young disciples (or Christians-in-training), “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).

Paul invested (like Jesus did) in a few for the sake of others. He led people to faith, hope, and trust in Christ, trained them to how to know Jesus and make Him known, and sent men and women onward to reflect Christ in their families as well as the Greco-Roman world. That’s why Paul’s words to the Colossians inspire and equip me to follow his example: “He (Jesus) is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me” (Colossians 1:28-29). Those verses have focused my efforts for years.

Paul used the Old Testament, stories about Jesus, popular culture references, and many of his own experiences as teaching tools and transferable concepts. I’ve used his Romans Road (i.e., verses in the New Testament Book of Romans) to share the message of the gospel many times.

Others have imitated Paul’s example and created transferable concepts useful for evangelism and discipleship. One of my favorites is Tools for Mentoring (TFM) by my friend Joy Schroeder. After 2.5 years of work, the newly revised and expanded TFM is available in digital form at amazon.com. It’s easy to access for Kindle users and anyone with a mobile device.

TFM contains 19 modules of Bible studies covering the most critical topics I believe you and I, and those we disciple, need to know, practice, and master in order to run (as Joy says) “life’s race unencumbered.” The modules are evangelism, water baptism, baptism with the Holy Spirit, overcoming sin, the Bible, prayer, repentance and making a moral inventory, forgiveness, the yielded life, sex and dating, time management, financial management, guidance, talking Christianly, work ethic, worship, suffering, authority, and missions.

Joy has updated a tool many Chi Alpha missionaries and our students (and alumni) have used for decades on campus and in the global marketplace. TFM gives flexible direction for one-to-one discipleship, small groups, accountability friendships, and self-study. There is a clear “how-to” section and video tutorials are on the drawing board and coming soon.

Re-Read Colossians 1:28-29 above. We in Chi Alpha Campus Ministries feel an urgency in these “last days” to keep making disciples as Jesus commanded. Joy Schroeder has provided a proven tool for people to equip themselves and others with the Scriptures so they can stay true to Jesus to the end. Serve globally. Will you follow Paul’s example and look for one or two faithful, teachable people you can come alongside and invest in? TFM is ready for you to use.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2015 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – January 5

Do you know a soldier? You’ve certainly seen one portrayed by Tom Hanks playing Capt. Jon Miller in “Saving Private Ryan.” Were you an athlete? If not, who do you know in your family who was? Are you a farmer? Were any of your ancestors raised in a farming community? Odds are most of us never had anyone in our family tree serve as a shepherd. But many of us have heard of one of the most famous shepherds of all time – the young man who wrote Psalm 23.

Read 2 Timothy 2:1-7.

The apostle Paul wrote two letters in the New Testament where he referenced soldiers, athletes, farmers, and shepherds (the text above and 1 Corinthians 9:7). He used them as illustrations to get a point across in both…and the apostle Peter did as well in 1 Peter 5:1-3. Look at the four categories and think about the Christ-followers you know. Can you see qualities of the soldier, athlete, farmer, and shepherd in someone close to you? How can you affirm them?

Soldiers are trained warriors, ready to defend with honor, loyal to others in their unit and their commander. Athletes are dedicated and disciplined, they work to get the maximum out of their abilities, and push themselves and their teammates to excel and reach their goals. Farmers work in fields unnoticed, toiling steadily and patiently until harvest time. Shepherds care for others, even laying down their lives for those in need, to the neglect of themselves at times.

My Chi Alpha colleague, Daniel Miller, directs Chi Alpha at Idaho State University. He came up under the leadership of Paul Austin, who served close to two decades with Chi Alpha and recently transitioned to local church ministry. Daniel told me that Paul modeled the qualities Peter mentioned in 1 Peter 5 – he was a shepherd to Daniel when he was a college student and the last ten years as a Chi Alpha missionary. Daniel said Paul served his staff and students “not because he had to, but because he wanted to. He was authentic and approachable. Paul always engaged people through relationship and not through a position of authority. He said it was a privilege to know and serve people in order to build them up, because it was a divine trust.”

Paul Austin made his mark as a shepherd and leader of students and Chi Alpha leaders in Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. He created the training process for campus ministry pioneers and best practices for leading staff (with Mike Amiot) through trial and error (i.e., farming), research, and persistence. Amiot told me, “Paul represents someone who strives to see the best in others realized. His work on pioneering, for example, reveals his strategic eye mixed with his desire to see people succeed.” Paul Austin gave up a prospective career in computers to answer another call of God. He models servant leadership and hard work for the rest of us.

Every Chi Alpha group (or church) needs a healthy mixture of all four types of people. Scripture presents the idea that God uses all sorts of gifted people in the Body of Christ. Paul stressed in the New Testament that Christians in any of the four categories should be rewarded because they were working…and no matter the job or role, they should be working at it. The task of reaching an entire world with the gospel of Christ requires a lot of workers doing a lot of work together (plus a lot of prayer). Which are you most like? A soldier, an athlete, a farmer, or a shepherd?

Thank God that he created you with purpose and to team up with others to extend His Kingdom. How can you “work” harder for God? Live communally. Serving Christ is never “grunt work.”

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2015 by Mike Olejarz

 

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