Monthly Archives: July 2015

Monday Motivator – July 27

What convictions will identify you with the Kingdom of God at school? How might you be labeled in your dormitory, apartment, lab, extra-curricular activity, part time work effort at school, or actual employment after?

Read Daniel 3:16-18.

The King of Babylon made a ninety-foot statue of himself and demanded everyone in his empire (including Jews in captivity) to bow down and pay homage to him directly. The account details that everyone responded to the music and the command and knelt down to literally worship King Nebuchadnezzar. Yet three Jewish young men named Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stood upright and refused to bow down to the golden image.

How do you explain the boldness of these 3 government employees?

Did courage develop because they saw it in their buddy Daniel when they first went to college together at the University of Babylon? The U of B was a very difficult place far from home with no support structure. They were on their own. Exposed to a new culture and language, new food, new surroundings, and different people.

The Bible says that faith inspires courage. The leper in Matthew 8:2 had faith Jesus could heal him. So did the blind man in Matthew 9:28. And the sick and diseased in Matthew 14:26. They all approached Him and ALL were healed. Then they went and told their friends.

Faith inspires courage because it inspires confidence in God. Remember what David said when he faced the giant Goliath? 1 Samuel 17:27 “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

These three guys showed absolute confidence in God, stating that their God was greater than King Nebuchadnezzar, and their God was able to deliver them from his judgment in a display of His superior power. The king had declared himself above all gods in v 15, and even asked, “what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” He was challenging any god to test his authority.

Note the words of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in v 17, “the God we serve.” They knew God’s authority was greater than the authority claimed by the king. Their God demanded obedience and forbid them from worshiping any other gods. And they were now standing for Him. They were courageous in a pressure-packed situation because they had determined their convictions before hand.

Regardless if their parents (and local rabbi) taught them what to believe and why, these young men decided sometime before or after they were taken into captivity that their God was the One True God. The commandment to love and honor Him alone had been accepted by each of these men because He was Truth. Giving allegiance to anyone else would be wrong.

Live communally. Make up your mind about what is true before you are tested. Find, develop, and nurture mutually supportive relationships with like-minded believers. Then trust God for His strength and presence to stand together in the fiery trial(s) you encounter.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2015 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – July 20

Daniel was living in the last days of the southern kingdom of Judah. He was taken to Babylon during the 1st deportation in 605 B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar had deported a number of the royal family, nobles and wise men to Babylon (2 Kings 24:1-5). Daniel and his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, were among those brought to Babylon and given new names: Daniel = Belteshazzar, Hananiah = Shadrach, Mishael = Meshach, and Azariah = Abednego.

These men were trained for three years in Babylonian literature/language in preparation for the king’s service. While there, God gave them special insight and wisdom, and Daniel was given the ability to understand/interpret dreams and visions. The book of Daniel begins in 605 B.C. and continues until the rise of the Persian king Cyrus in 539 B.C. (Daniel 1:21)

Read Daniel 3:1-30.

In chapter 3, Nebuchadnezzar erected a large image of gold of himself – a statue 90 feet high and 9 feet wide, and demanded that everyone bow down and worship him. The statue was built close to the city of Babylon and eight classes of officials were summoned: the court of the king, military commanders, civil administrators, government authorities, judges, and law officers. The king demanded they all fall (bow) down and worship the image (swear allegiance to him). Failure to comply with the command was penalized by immediate death – by being thrown into a blazing furnace. Overwhelmed by the king’s command, the awesomeness of the image, and the sound of the music, the assembled officials, peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold. All that is, except three guys.

Several astrologers (court advisors) denounced the three “recent college graduates” named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, apparently because they were very jealous that the king had set Daniel’s friends over the affairs of the province of Babylon and didn’t let them simply be slaves, as were the rest of the Jewish captives. But Daniel’s friends had been noticed by the king in 1:20 as having unusual ability and were promoted in the government after graduation.

When the king heard the accusation c/o the three Hebrews, he was furious, which shows how important and significant this event was to him. He gave them another opportunity to bow down before the image and that’s where our story picks up. Read about their courageous response to cultural and governmental pressure in chapter 3:16-18.

What do you admire the most about these 3 young Jews in the Babylonian marketplace? Their courage to defy authority? Their witness for God? Their faith in God for a miracle? Their trust in God no matter what would happen? Which of those qualities do you need right now?

The Bible commands us to be strong and courageous. But we read the story in Judges 7:3 when God told Gideon to announce to his 32,000 troops, “Anyone who trembles with fear can turn back…and 22,000 men left.”; When the Israelites saw a giant named Goliath stand up and challenge them, 1 Samuel 17:24 says, “they all ran from him in great fear.” And don’t forget the night Jesus was arrested, Matthew 26:56 records that all his disciples deserted him and fled.”

That’s not courage, but cowardice. One woman said, “We fear men so much, because we fear God so little.” Think theologically. The size of your God determines the size of your faith.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2015 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – July 13

Imagine you are sitting outside your dormitory on a sunshine-filled day enjoying lunch with friends on a slight hill near the student center. Picture Jesus walking up and He delivers what comes to be known as the Sermon on the Mount.

Read Matthew 5:1-12.

What would be your first impression after hearing Jesus’ words? Would you respond by saying something like, “What is this guy talking about?” Would you suggest Jesus change His message before it gets discussed/trampled/mis-communicated in social media? Would you think, “Wow, I’ve been looking for this all my life?” Or Jesus is not living in the real world?

Consider a scouting report on the eight elements of the Beatitudes…attitudes and actions that are to “be in us.” How would you rate yourself as you silently read through the list?

POOR IN SPIRIT: I recognize my spiritual bankruptcy and my need for God. My relationship with God depends on His grace, so I know I’m incapable of earning God’s love on my own.

MOURN: I feel the pain that sin, including my own, causes. I can let others know when I am hurting without embarrassment. I can weep like Jesus did.

MEEKNESS: I don’t have to be the strong one who is always in control. I can be tender and gentle. I’ve given control of my life to God and I don’t always have to win.

SPIRITUAL HUNGER: I want to know God and His will for my life more than anything – including my own pleasure, status, or success. My heart truly longs for God.

MERCIFUL: I can share the feelings of people who are hurting, lonely, or distressed, and walk alongside them in their pain. God has given me a sensitivity for the suffering of others.

PURE IN HEART: I am completely honest with God and others. I don’t have to put on a false front or pretend to be something I’m not. My life is marked with openness and integrity.

PEACEMAKER: I work hard to keep channels of communication open with others. Rather than allowing anger and conflict to fester, I deal with them constructively. I help those around me work out their differences without hurting one another.

PERSECUTION: I know for whom and for what I am living. And for this I am willing to suffer and (if need be) stand alone for what is right. I can take criticism without reacting defensively or feeling self-pity.

Jesus gave His first disciples (as well as first century listeners…and anyone else who pays attention) a revelation of God’s principles of behavior, by which all people are to live through faith in Christ, and Holy Spirit enablement.

Grow devotionally. The Beatitudes are important because Jesus taught them, are marks of spiritual maturity, and if followed, will enable us to flourish as human beings.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2015 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – July 6

I have benefited from being part of the annual Global Leadership Summit (GLS) the past five years, sponsored by the Willow Creek Association. I have gained vision, inspiration, and practical skills that I have been able to apply immediately in my work and ministry context.

Many who attend a GLS agree that leveraging the Summit as a resource to sharpen your skills and unleash the full potential of your team is worth the effort of attending the Summit.

Independent research conducted by Excellence in Giving found: 83% of those who attend feel improved teamwork, increased job satisfaction, and productivity; 61% say their organization is more effective because of clearer vision; 87% feel a greater sense of significance and satisfaction; and 81% cited concrete ways their supervisor has become a better leader.

I participated in a GLS follow-up seminar with Mark Miller of Chick-Fil-A. Mark started by saying when you ask what you mean by a good leader, you often get lots of responses. He said there are actually 6,000 definitions of leadership. He used the image of an iceberg to denote that the 10-15% of the ice visible above the surface reflects the skill(s) of a person. The 85% of the ice below the surface represents the character of a person. Both are needed for healthy leaders.

Mark then used the acrostic (SERVE) to describe what “great leaders” do. They:

  1. See the Future. They are able to articulate a preferred future, a pre-cursor to change. Since things tend to the status quo, there is need to be grounded in purpose in order to see a better future and move people from here (present) to there (a better place).
  1. Engage and Develop Others. Since most of your success is determined by those closest to you, it is critical whom you recruit and develop to be on your team.
  1. Reinvent Continually. Three areas to constantly review and improve on are: A) Personal growth (how are you learning and growing?); B) Systems and work processes (hope is not a strategy…systems create behavior); and C) Structure as needed (make sure people, product, process is aligned, understood, and repeated). In other words, get the job done!
  1. Value Relationships and Results. All of us have a natural bias towards either relationships or results. Own your bias and get better at handling both. The best leaders value both by learning to compensate. Jim Collins says, “It’s the genius of the ‘and’ when it involves options and biases.”
  1. Embody the Values of the Organization. People always watch the leader and do not follow those they do not trust. Are the vision, values, and mission statements merely statements on the wall or actually lived out in the hall?

Great leaders SERVE. They See the future, Engage and develop others, Reinvent continually, Value relationships and results, and Embody the values.

Chi Alpha Campus Ministries believes that our staff, student leaders, and students need to make the choice to be a servant leader everyday. Read Mark 10:45. Jesus came to serve others. Serve globally. We need to emulate his example on campus and in the marketplace in word and deed.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2015 by Mike Olejarz

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