Monthly Archives: May 2015

Monday Motivator – May 25

When I think of some of my favorite movies, (like the first Jurassic Park, The Shawshank Redemption, and The Wizard of Oz), I remember how the characters responded when they faced an intimidating person or situation. There were heroes, whiners, skeptics, losers, innocent bystanders, and the naive. Some try to run away from danger. Some respond by taking the challenge head-on. Some give in to emotion to cover up their fear. Others attempt to ignore the issue, hoping the threat will simply disappear. Faced with pressure, you’ll see a range of strong words and body language to reflect their initial response, either hopeful perspective or angry pessimism. What do you think is the best way to respond when threatened? Run, fight, or react?

One of the characters I enjoy encountering in the New Testament is a young man named Timothy. Part of the reason is that he faced significant pressure (or intimidation) as he stepped into leadership in the first century under the apostle Paul’s tutelage. As he tried to serve as a pastor of a church, many resisted his leadership, and he struggled to understand how to respond.

Read 2 Timothy 1:1-7.

In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he gave several reasons why and how Timothy could face and overcome his critics, as well as the personal insecurity he appeared to wrestle with. Essentially, Paul told Timothy how to recognize and use the “spirit of power, love, and self-discipline” that God provides His followers (verse 7). But would he run, fight, or react?

First, Timothy did not have to run, because God had given him a “spirit of power.” He had made heavenly resources available to all of his people, young or old, male or female. Paul reminded his young disciple Timothy that he was able to handle any situation he encountered and would indeed, persevere. No matter the problems, the cynics or skeptics, or the challenge of building the church, Timothy would overcome and succeed.

Second, Timothy did not have to fight, because God had given him a “spirit of love.” Those who have been hurt often hurt others. Those who have been beaten up, often resort to revenge to get back at those who bullied them. Having watched how Paul dealt with pain, and how he described the transforming power of the risen Christ, I believe Timothy realized to live like his Savior would be difficult, but not impossible to practice. He would not use physical force, but model servant leadership and win over others by humbly imitating Jesus.

Third, Timothy did not have to react improperly, because God had given him a “spirit of self-discipline.” A sound mind and life of disciplined choices can aid one in avoiding needless outbursts of wasted emotion. Christ-honoring people need to exhibit good and prudent judgment, especially in the light of trials and persecution.

How do you handle threats, pressure, and intimidation? Do you tend to run, fight, or react? How can Paul’s words to young Timothy assist you in better aligning your words and actions when tested? Ask God to help you learn to be courageous, loving, and wise when you face intimidating people or situations.

Walk wisely. It should not matter who or what you face, because God has given you everything you need to face your “giant” and utilize God’s resources to handle it.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2015 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – May 18

One of my family’s favorite TV shows from the early 1990’s was “Home Improvement,” starring Tim Allen as “Tim, the Tool Man Taylor.” Some of the genius of the show was the chemistry and dialogue between Tim and his assistant, Al. Tim started his career selling tools for Binford Tools and Mr. Binford, the owner, later gave Tim his own show called “Tool Time.”

Every episode involved Tim and Al on their cable TV show where they would tackle some home improvement project. Tim appeared to know a lot about the tool they were using and was always looking to boost the power output of the hammer gun, saw, etc. Al, a master carpenter (and low-key) partner, shone smartly opposite Tim in his dry-wit and handyman competence.

You could ask Tim about an ailing furnace, plugged up toilet, or how to clear out a stuck garbage disposal. His initial attempts were fraught with hilarious bungling…like the time he was showing how to use quick-drying glue in putting down new wood floors, and ended up gluing his head to a six-foot board. Al would then come to Tim’s defense and handle the project properly.

The experience and intuition of Al and other handymen (and women) saved Tim further pain and humiliation on many occasions. They also diagnosed problems and described solutions before Tim did too much damage. If I run across an episode of the show, I’ll often tune in for laughs.

Those of us who are not gifted or skilled with a mechanical aptitude are often mystified by the astute technical problem-solving skills of others of us. They have a skill that we just don’t have. Yet we can learn from them, can’t we? When Al showed how to actually tackle a home improvement project, many in the audience and those watching at home could take notes and learn how to properly handle it. The reality was Tim and Al did equip many to do home repair on their own, albeit with a lot of humor, and trips to the emergency room afterwards for Tim.

Read Ephesians 4:11-16.

Jesus designed the church to have spiritual and practical-minded leaders whose job it is to help equip all of us for service. In the words of the apostle Paul to the church at Ephesus in the first century, he wrote about the equipping process (verses 11-12). The word used for “equip” is the same word the Gospel writers used to describe the first disciples “mending their nets” (see Mark 1:16-20). In their vocation as fishermen, the disciples knew that holes in their nets would not improve their ability to catch fish. It actually meant lost fish. For the next few years after agreeing to follow Jesus, they would experience Jesus mending holes in their thinking, calling, character, and ministry. Ultimately, Jesus said the disciples would become effective “fishers of men and women” by following Him (Matthew 4:19).

Jesus has created everyone with a gift or skill that can be used to serve people regardless of their age, ethnic status, gender, level of experience, etc. You’ll be amazed at their ability to work with infants, single mothers, professors, and even senior citizens. Watch how they pray, handle the Scriptures, listen to those they are caring for, and the natural way they work with others.

We need each of us to take our place in the Body of Christ and do our part. Where do you need to be trained for service? Who can provide this training? Live communally. All of us, like Al, need to be competent for what God wants each of us to do. Get equipped to serve.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2015 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – May 11

I was taught to pray using New Testament prayers such as Ephesians 1:15-23 as a young Christian in the Chi Alpha chapter at Ohio University.

15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

“For this reason” points back to Ephesians 1:3-14, which sets the foundation for divine purpose. The theology of 1:3-14 motivates everything else in the letter and should be read with these verses. Verses 15-23 contains the author’s (Paul) prayer for the continuing work of God in his readers, which grows out of his thanks for what God has already accomplished in them. Similar to 1:3-14, v 15-23 is one long sentence in Greek. The thought process can be outlined as:

A) Paul received a report of their faith and love (v 15); B) Based on their actions, he gives thanks and prays for them (v 16); C) Paul prays for the gift of revelation to know God better (v 17-23).

The way God has worked to accomplish salvation motivates Paul’s praise (3-14) and prayer. The goal of the prayer is that people will recognize in their own lives the benefits mentioned in 3-14. The apostle Paul offers a prayer that Christians may realize God’s purpose and power.

Q         What did Paul ask God, the glorious Father, to do for the Ephesians? (v 17)?

A         God would give the Spirit of wisdom and revelation to deepen their knowledge of God.

Q         What three things did Paul want the Ephesians to know about God? (v 18-19)

A         The hope of their calling, the riches of their inheritance in the saints, and the incomparable greatness of His power for them.

Q         Describe the influence of God’s power. (v 21)

A         The five categories of powers mentioned emphasize Christ’s victory over all of them.

Q         What (or whom) did God appoint Jesus to be? (v 22)

A         The “head” over everything for the church. Jesus is Lord and Ruler over all.

Think theologically. Paul’s prayer reveals a conviction about the necessity of regular prayer for others; prayer is based on God’s character and actions; prayer should lead to wisdom, understanding, and Christ-like behavior; prayer leads to hope; and prayer is founded on the resurrection and exaltation of King Jesus. Use Ephesians 1:15-23 as a guide in your praying.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2015 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – May 4

Who are you? I remember a psychology class in college where the instructor said that each of us is at least 4 different people: 1) The person we think we are; 2) The person others think we are; 3) The person we think others think we are; and 4) The person we really are. But who are you? Really?

Will your family and/or back story tell us who you are? Will your successes or failures tell us who you are? How about your beliefs or behavior? Will your gender, race, or religion tell us who you are? What about your possessions? What about your potential? How about your academic achievement(s)? Your political affiliation, exercise regimen, or diet choices?

I suggest that the best way of answering the question, “who are you?” is by looking at the best selling book of all time. The Bible says that we are who the Creator says we are. He defines life, health, relationships, wholeness, success, failure, and potential for us.

But you respond, ok, but what does that really mean for me? Everyone says God loves me, but I struggle inside with a lot of mixed feelings. Does He hate me for things I think and feel or often do? Does He smile when things are going right in my life, but frown, get disappointed, or upset, when things go sour? What does really God think of me?

Before anyone comes to a right relationship with God, Scripture says He saw all of as: Condemned (John 3:18), Lost (Matthew 18:11; 2 Corinthians 4:3), Guilty (Romans 3:19), Spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1-5), Alienated from Him (Ephesians 4:18), His enemies (Romans 5:10; Col 1:21), and as Children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3).

God saw us as condemned because we didn’t respond to the light He had give us; lost because we wandered down our own sinful paths; Guilty because we kept breaking His laws; spiritually dead because we had separated ourselves from Him; alienated, his enemies, and children of wrath because we kept choosing evil over goodness.

So God saw us as needing help; He saw we needed to be found; He saw we needed a substitute to take away our guilt; He saw us needing a second birth to make possible a restored relationship with Him; and He saw we needed reconciliation – the hostility between us and God removed. The book of Ephesians uses the phrase IN CHRIST, or a similar expression, 35 times. Consider how that phrase describes how God sees us when we put our faith, hope, and trust in Him.

Read Ephesians 1:3-14.

In the first fourteen verses of the first chapter of the New Testament book of Ephesians, the author of the book lists thirteen descriptions of our new relational status. I will highlight four here. Chosen (v 4); Adopted (v 5); Forgiven (v 7); and Honored (v 7-14)

Ephesians 1:3-14 asks nothing explicitly from us as hearers. But the implicit message suggests the application of imitation – we should do what the author Paul did – worship and praise God. As we cultivate the discipline of worship, we realize that God is not remote, but intimately involved with our daily lives. Grow devotionally. Take some time to consider what God has done for you…in Christ…and revel in your status as chosen-adopted-forgiven-and-honored.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2015 by Mike Olejarz

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