Monthly Archives: September 2015

Monday Motivator – September 28

I remember talking with one of my alumni after hearing she had gotten married a few years after college. This couple had been married for almost a dozen years and had an infant son. I asked, “So tell me about your husband. How does he treat you as the love of his life?” An awkward silence was followed by, “So far, he does.”

Ouch. That underwhelming response was followed by a description of their struggling marriage and a few questions about their options to strengthen what sounded to be an up-and-down relationship. They apparently had gotten married without any pre-marriage counseling and preparation for life together. They saw each other with rose-colored glasses and thought a wedding ceremony would cover for extreme differences in how they saw life, the role of faith, child-rearing, financial stewardship, and even common values.

I recall an interview by Josh McDowell where he characterized young people coming to Christ as “those who saw Jesus as the best thing that has come along so far. As soon as something comes along to grabs their attention and appears to be better, they are latched on and gone.”

I am sure all of us have a friend like this. Christianity is a “flavor of the month,” for example. A month later, they may be into Scientology; last semester they were into saving the environment; last year it was fantasy football. They always say they hope to find the truth, but they add that they believe truth is a relative thing, and after all, what really matters is how you feel…right?

Scripture says that Truth is a Person. Jesus stated that He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). Further, the writers of Scripture declare that when we find the truth and mature in the faith (or practices of Jesus’ Kingdom) “we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14).

Read 1 John 3:1-10.

As followers of Christ, we can have the solid assurance that what God says in Scripture is authentic and trustworthy. We know that God loves us because he made the ultimate sacrifice for our sins on the cross (1 John 4:9-10). We know that due to the work of Christ on our behalf, we will spend eternity with God (John 3:16). We also know the Holy Spirit is given to us as a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance in Christ, that He lives in us, and empowers us for Christ-honoring living (Ephesians 1:14, Romans 5:5, 8:11).

I remember many students who said they wanted to sample the “buffet of religious options” on campus and rarely did. They were trying to find answers to deep questions they intuitively knew they wrestled with, but were often not sure where to go to find them.

The apostle Paul taught that, “the Holy Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:16). As we obey the Spirit each day, seek His will and empowerment, walk uprightly, and enjoy our blood-purchased relationship with our Father in heaven, we will find that God is not just the best thing so far, but the best thing today, always, and forever.

Think theologically. Truth is a Person and you can’t beat knowing the One True God.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2015 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – September 21

Have you ever considered a love affair?

A student named James old me he gained weight during his first year on campus due to the availability of so much food. At home, he was used to his mom’s cooking and once dinner was over, for example, she said the kitchen was closed for the night. It was different on campus with the cafeteria being open longer hours of the day, free food around the dorms, and late night food runs during study breaks. He told me before he knew it he had put on the freshman 15 (pounds, that is), that he never heard about before. He wasn’t playing sports, had a busy academic load of classes, and wasn’t used to have to exercise by building it into his schedule.

One night while watching TV, James became intrigued by a stationary bike being advertised for three low payments. The next day he went online and made the purchase, not even realizing the campus gym probably had a similar model. He was quite happy when it arrived in his dorm a week later. He assembled it and started riding each day for the first few weeks. As the weeks turned into a month or two, he went from cycling four times a week to three to two…then once. After six weeks, the stationary bike he had so passionately pursued became merely a place to throw laundry onto in the corner. It had become a dusty, unused machine. The “intrigue” was over. He had lost some weight, learned better eating habits, but squandered his money.

Does James’ experience sound familiar? We develop an interest in something or someone, but our initial enthusiasm wanes after a while. I’m sure we can recall a situation where our impulse and infatuation was short lived and less than satisfying. Can the same be said about our romance with Jesus?

Read Revelation 2:2-7.

This account of followers of Christ at the second half of the first century can be very instructive. The believers in Ephesus were strongly urged to repent and to return to God, their first love (v 4). They endured a lot of hardship and even disapproved of the wrong practices of the Nicolaitans (v 4-5). But God wanted more of them. He wanted their heart more than their godly objections to less-than-God-honoring behavior. This shows how passionately God feels about our personal relationship with Him.

When each of us first met and received Jesus as Lord, our excitement was palpable. We shared with family and friends who the Lord was to us and what he had done in our lives. We could not help talking about what we had seen and heard. We eagerly sought to spend time in order to get to know God through prayer, worship, and Scripture. Once our zeal is interrupted, zapped, stopped, and/or weakened, life seem to return to normal and our love for God turns lukewarm. We tend to do our spiritual pursuits or holy habits out of duty rather than love.

Have other things or even people replaced your love for Him? We live in a busy, distracting world, don’t we? That means we have to face the reality of spiritual checkups now and then, even as we balance our checkbook, get our teeth cleaned every six months, and so on.

Grow devotionally. If you have replaced your first love with something or someone else, how can you renew your romance with God? It’s time to rekindle your intimacy with Jesus.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2015 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – September 14

Psalm 145 is a hymn of praise to the Lord, the great King, for His mighty acts and benevolent virtues, which are reflections and examples of his kingly rule. Between the two-line introduction (v 1-2) and the one-line conclusion (v 21), four poetic paragraphs develop themes of praise, each introduced with a thematic line (v 3, 8, 13b, 17). Consider verse 21 – the one line conclusion.

Read Psalm 145:21.

The praise of God must continue, and every creature must take it up – forever. This Psalm instructs us about worship that focuses on the one, true, and living God – by remembering His essential goodness and love, and his wondrous deeds on our behalf. The writer, David, opens Psalm 145 with ceaseless personal praise and by v 21 it is clear that nothing less than the praise of every creature will suffice for such a God.

What are you going to communicate to your classmates, colleagues, professors, advisors, mentors, children and grandchildren concerning the Lord and His ways? Psalm 145 encourages older generations to pass down a legacy of praise to the Lord. But will your children know that?

Faith is never more than one generation away from extinction. That’s why it is crucial for parents to help their children to understand who God is and to take their first steps in walking with Him. There are many ways to do that, including telling stories about the mighty things God has done (145:4). What stories can you tell from your own life? Here are a few suggestions:

First, cultivate your own faith. That means you have to gain firsthand experience with God. Moses wanted his people to be known as a wise and discerning people. Remember the things God has said or done in the past. Get to know God through the Scriptures. Establish habits for recalling and rehearsing the story of God’s dealings in your own life and in the lives of your ancestors. Parents cannot give their children a faith that they themselves do not possess. Get a copy of Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas to aid in your spiritual journey.

Second, teach by example. Moses urged the Israelites to practice the Law so their children could see it in action, not just hear it recited. We should maintain a commitment to integrity by fearing God, refusing bribes, ensuring justice for orphans and widows, and showing loving care to strangers. Kids have not had much experience with God yet…so they need to see it in their parent’s lives. College students need to see and hear about God in other student’s lives, too.

Third, be a creative worshiper. Moses wrote a song to declare God’s ways to Israel. It was a good lesson in the use of the arts to celebrate the Lord and encourage children to learn about the faith. Develop music that would bring honor to the Lord and tell of his mighty acts. Use nature to enhance your worship. Sing the Scriptures. Use the arts to tell His story. Live lives of gratitude.

Go back through the entirety of Psalm 145 and jot down the reasons given for praising God. What can be the only response to the character and acts of God? How can you model and call others to join you in knowing the God of Psalm 145?

Serve globally. Like the author says in verses 4-6, be the generation that commends, tells, speaks, and meditates on the character and actions of the One True God and King.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2015 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – September 7

What sort of ruler is God to you? A benevolent King? A harsh, unbending dictator? A distant monarch? What (or who) has influenced your image and experience of God?

Psalm 145 is a hymn of praise to the Lord, the great King, for his mighty acts and benevolent virtues, which are reflections and examples of his kingly rule. Between the two-line introduction (v 1-2) and the one-line conclusion (v 21), four poetic paragraphs develop themes of praise, each introduced with a thematic line (v 3, 8, 13b, 17). Consider the third and fourth paragraphs.

Read Psalm 145:13b-16 and 17-20.

First, verses 13b-16 are a section of praise about God’s faithfulness. How does the Lord reward the loyalty given to him by his subjects in the first thirteen verses? The saints are exalted and cared for. God provides and satisfies. He feeds. He provides. What does 13b say? “The Lord is faithful to all his promises.” What does 17 say? “The Lord is loving toward all that he has made.”

The Hebrew for the phrase “loving” denotes befriending. Appeal to God’s (unfailing) “love, kindness, mercy” is frequent in the Older Testament since it summarizes all that the Lord covenanted to show to Israel as well as David and his dynasty.

God is faithful to his word (13) and loving (13). His display of care and support (14), supply at the right time (15), and the way he satisfies the desires of every living thing (16) has made his name and promises more precious. How would you testify about God’s faithfulness?

Second, verses 17-20 are a section of praise of God’s righteousness. Verse 17 declares that the LORD is righteous in all his ways. V 7 said, “We joyfully sing of your righteousness.” Very often the ”righteousness” of God in the Psalms (and elsewhere in the Old Testament) refers to the rightness with which he acts. This righteousness is in full accordance with his commitment (both expressed and implied) to his people and with his status as the divine King – to whom the powerless may look for protection, the oppressed for redress, and the needy for help. In the Lord, justice lives alongside kindness. There is a basic goodness in all He does – His moral qualifications leads to His ongoing enrichment of others.

Verse 18 adds that the Lord is near to all who call on him in truth (meaning, with sincerity and integrity). Righteous though he is, He is also near to His praying people. He also looks for their sincerity (18), their reverence (19), and their love (20). His righteousness is indeed a righteousness of grace: loving, fulfilling desires, saving, watching over, but it is also the righteousness of holiness. So He judges wickedness rightly, wisely, or justly. Everything God does is RIGHT!

Consider this summary: v 17 says He’s loving toward all He has made; v 18 says He’s near to all who call on him (in truth…or w/ integrity); v 19 says He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him, and He hears their cry and saves them; v 20 wraps by saying He watches over all who love Him. And He will destroy the wicked.

Walk wisely. Why would spending time with the King 1-to-1 be the greatest reward for a citizen? How can you pass on to others your experience of God’s faithfulness and rightness?

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

© 2015 by Mike Olejarz

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