Monthly Archives: February 2015

Monday Motivator – February 23

My wife and I recently completed an updating of our last will and testament. We created a will early in our marriage because were concerned for our future. But now it was time to remember what mattered to us in the stewardship of who we are and why we live this way. Part of our will includes instructions for the handling of our estate. It also communicates what our two children will inherit on news of our death.

Read Acts 20:32.

In the Old Testament, inheritance benefits were pretty rich for the first born, but the conditions were often really restrictive. When God created the New Testament, He exchanged a system of laws that were virtually impossible to keep for one based on grace. This opportunity would be given out as favor you cannot earn, deserve, or have to work for. As you put your faith, hope, and trust in Jesus, you receive in return standing, status, or salvation, that is freely given.

When I started following Jesus as a college student in the 1970’s, I learned the value of the Scriptures in my growth and pursuit of God. Doug Smith (or Smitty), one of my baseball teammates helped me realize that I was personally named in the New Testament. Smitty showed me where it’s said in John 3:16 that “whosoever believes in Jesus shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Wow, I discovered I am a whosoever! That information made the Bible become a real source of joy and identity. I found I could learn a lot about who I was from Scripture.

I recognized my salvation, as tremendous and glorious as it was, was only a starting point of my journey. Who am I? Where am I going? What was God’s will for me? What sort of inheritance do I have in Christ? These and many other questions had answers I could find. Smitty helped me see and learn that the disciplines of searching the Scriptures, standing on the Scriptures (i.e., the promises of God – a great hymn sung often at New Life Assembly of God in Athens, Ohio), and speaking the Scriptures in my daily life were steps to a deeper faith and experience of God.

I learned that praying the Scriptures was like going to a bank for a withdrawal of certainty. One of my Sunday school teachers said, “It’s like saying the check is made out to me, but it is issued and endorsed by the work of Christ on the cross. You can cash it because God’s Word is faithful and you can depend on the more than 5,000 promises of God in the Bible.”

Smitty used the analogy that too many Christians live life and die without every accessing their heavenly account. He had me memorize 1 Peter 1:3-5 and 2 Peter 1:3-12 so I would understand my inheritance in Christ and not be ignorant of the resources God makes available to me.

He taught me to pray: “Father, it seems that the last will and testament of Jesus names me personally. It says that I belong to Him, all my needs will be met, my steps will be directed, my sicknesses will be healed, and that you have gifted me to play a part in building Your Church by making disciples of Yours…all by your Holy Spirit’s empowerment.”

Smitty also helped me learn early on that is why Satan does not want me to read and know my Bible. Grow devotionally. You are named in God’s Will. Part of our holy habit of reading Scripture is to know and understand our inheritance in Christ. Memorize the passages in 1 and 2 Peter I mentioned. Paul said in Acts 20:32: “The word…which can…give you an inheritance.”

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2015 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – February 16

Jon and Jenny Rice just transitioned from leading the Chi Alpha chapter at Georgetown University (GU) for the last 5.5 years. He leaves to serve in a staff role in GU’s University Chaplaincy. I talked with Jon recently to convey my appreciation for the years he and Jenny served with Chi Alpha (a previous 5 at Virginia Tech and a year of staff training at Florida State). As he took me down memory lane, I was thrilled to hear him describe how God was able to use them in the lives of so many as they extended God’s Kingdom at Georgetown.

From my perspective (and hearing from many of their colleagues on the Washington DC Chi Alpha staff team), Jon and Jenny served well as missionaries. First, Jon and Jenny established a community of worship, fellowship, discipleship, witness, and prayer among students on an elite campus, originally pioneered by previous Chi Alpha directors Shawn & Deb Galyen.

Second, they modeled a pioneer spirit. In campus ministry new ground must continually be tilled among undergrads, graduate students, faculty and foreign students. They adapted to new conditions and tried new methods until effective (and fruitful) structures were discovered.

Third, Jon and Jenny reflected courage and initiative, which is absolutely essential if our missionaries want to establish inroads on a campus. One of their former students, Bonnie Duncan, told me: “I met Jon and Jenny on my 2nd day of college in August 2009. Jon offered me a snow cone outside of my freshman dorm and I met Jenny and 3 month old Sophia at my first Chi Alpha service that night (not knowing at the time that it was their first service as directors too). You never know when these things happen what defining moments they will become. It’s been almost 6 years since that day, and words cannot describe the impact Jon and Jenny have made on my life. Because of their faithfulness to God’s call so many souls have been won for Christ and so many lives touched. But I can say that none have been touched more than mine.”

Fourth, Jon and Jenny exuded an easy confidence with others. They drew students into conversation and put them at ease. They listened to students’ needs and interests, saw their potential and equipped them for ministry on campus and after graduation. Another former student, James Kim, told me: “Jon is inspiring and full of peace. He inspires the people in his ministry by laying out a clear, solid vision. A sense of calm and steadiness accompanies Jon wherever he is. Whether he is consoling a student in need of emotional support, leading a group in prayer and evangelism activities, or running a 5K for charity, Jon always carries a sense of peace that is hard to find. Moreover, these characteristics add up to defining who Jon is as a husband and a father. He is a trustworthy and dependable man that leads his family (and others like us) through the ups and downs of life.”

Last, a key to the Rices’ influence at Georgetown came from a dynamic spiritual life. As an overseer of growing young Christians in an often adverse, busy, and complex collegiate environment, unswerving commitment to a dynamic personal relationship with God is essential.

Serve globally. It is inspiring to note that both Bonnie Duncan and James Kim graduated from GU and decided to serve in campus ministry with the Rices. When I read 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8, I think of Jon and Jenny. They served God well the past eleven years as campus missionaries. They reached a lot of students, trained leaders, and influenced nations. Now they’ll continue to influence the academy as “official insiders” on the payroll of Georgetown. What a privilege!

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2015 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – February 9

4 undergraduates fight through a crowd, climb the roof of a dorm and tear through it in order to get their paralyzed friend to Jesus. They were convinced Jesus could do something about their friend’s condition. How does your zeal-meter compare to theirs?

Read Luke 5:20-26.

Dr. Luke’s record says (v 20) that Jesus sees the faith of the 4 students and says to the paralyzed student, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” Does this picture seem right to you? Is Jesus ok?

Can you imagine what this paralyzed student’s eyes are doing? Like what? Why is forgiveness all of a sudden the topic? What happened to a simple healing? It was hard enough to convince me to let the fellas carry me across campus to the Chi Alpha meeting. How do you think the 4 guys were reacting to Jesus’ words?

Jesus’ declaration of the paralytic’s forgiveness does not imply that sin was the immediate cause of his disease. This WAS commonly assumed, even by Jesus’ disciples (John 9:2). Bible theology sees sickness and death as part of the deterioration mankind has suffered because of universal sin. The Bible does say some sickness may be connected with a particular sin (1 Corinthians 11:29-30), but no such connection appears in this context.

How are the Pharisees and teachers of the law reacting? “Who does this guy think he is? This is serious…only God can forgive sins!” Blasphemy by the way, was a capitol crime punishable by stoning. In addition, how could Jesus know what they were thinking unless He WAS…?

Question: If you stole your sister’s money, could I forgive you for that? (No). Why? She has to forgive you. Why? Only the offended has the right to forgive. Why does the Bible then say God forgives ALL sins? Because He is the one offended in all sins. And that implies Jesus is God, because only God would be offended in such a manner.

Back to the earlier question: Why did Jesus say he forgave sin when the 4 guys brought their friend to be healed? Jesus got right to the real issue in this person’s life. Sometimes he healed someone, or fed someone, or taught someone, and then dealt with their need for forgiveness.

But here, he is getting right to the problem of helping this man get his relationship with God straightened out. The healing validates the declaration of forgiveness. The command to the paralyzed man is impossible of fulfillment – except for the power of God.

The man stood up immediately (an act of obedience based on faith), picked up his mat and went home praising God, or honoring God. Be sure to remember Jesus forgave the young man AND healed him. Note that the praise comes from one who has been the object of God’s power and a witness of that power. The crowd was amazed in verse 26, and also gave praise to God.

Do you and I understand the real problem of sin? Are we convinced people need the forgiveness of God? It is hard to be missional if we are fuzzy on our need for forgiveness. Today’s harvest on campus (and in your neighborhood) is urgent. We are responsible to make Christ known to our generation. Walk wisely. His mission is for all of us, so bring your friends to Christ.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2015 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – February 2

Panic hit. The mother had gone to the back door to tell her 3 year old girl it was time for dinner and she realized little Susan had been gone far too long. “Susan…Susan…Suuu-saaan.” No answer. She looked behind the house, in the garage, but saw nothing.

Next to the house was a wheat field. The mother instinctively knew where Susan had wandered. It was late afternoon. The mother ran back to the house and started yelling for her husband and son to come outside. They joined the search. It was tough. The wheat was about the same height as the little girl and her blonde hair would blend in with the color of the ripe wheat.

Fear now seized the search party. Night was falling and still no Susan. Word spread and neighbors began to show up to help, but darkness forced them to abandon their search. No one slept that night and everyone tried to comfort Susan’s parents.

It was about dawn when the sky started turning gray and the search began again. Just as they were starting into the wheat field, one of the neighbors said, “Hold it, let’s organize this and do it right. Hold hands and we’ll form a line. We’ll sweep across the field, then turn around and come back in another sweep until we’ve systematically covered every inch out here.” Everyone agreed it was a good idea. The day before it had been a random effort.

They hadn’t gone very far, perhaps 300 yards when someone yelled, “I’ve found her.” The mom and dad ran to the location, and the mom got there first. She stooped down to pick up the cold, lifeless body of her precious 3 year old. BUT IT WAS TOO LATE.

The silence was broken by sobs of sorrow. After a long time, the family and neighbors started moving toward the house. Then the husband spoke up, “I just want to thank you for your help….but I have only one regret…why didn’t we organize ourselves and do this last night?

Read Luke 5:18-19.

What qualities do you notice in the young college students who brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus? What’s being modeled? Zeal? Cooperation? Responsibility? Perseverance?

Matthew (9:2) and Mark (2:3) both have this same story in their books and said there were 4 guys carrying the stretcher. Have you ever thought about how important teamwork is in the Kingdom of God? 4 guys brought a paralyzed guy on a stretcher to Jesus. These 4 guys were zealous, they worked together, and they worked hard to get their buddy to Jesus, convinced that Jesus could do something to help him.

What kind of people are Christians supposed to bring to Jesus? Sick people (Matthew 4:24);

Insane people (Matthew 9:32); Helpless people (Luke 5:18-19); Blind people (Luke 18:40);

Seeking people (John 1:41-42); Doubting people (John 1:45-46); Sinful people (John 8:3);

Sorrowful people (John 11:28). How about any human being we can (John 3:16-17)?

Live communally. How hard are we working to bring people to Jesus? How hard are you and I willing to work? Everyone must be mobilized, trained, and producing. We just can’t do our own thing. WE MUST DO HIS THING. Together. Will you work together to bring people to Jesus?

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2015 by Mike Olejarz

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