Monthly Archives: March 2016

Monday Motivator – March 28

No one would blame her for bailing out on her paranoid schizophrenic husband, right?

Alicia was a bright, talented, attractive young lady with her whole life ahead of her. John saw people who were not there and got easily caught up in conspiracies that were false. Shock therapy and drugs were the only treatment options at the time, but they drained his energy.

John’s entire life to that point was his search for an original theory. His social skills were poor and his efforts to connect with women were clumsy and often resulted in a slap in the face and outright rejection. But then he met Alicia. She was attracted to his genius, his ability to “see images and numbers” and his raw honesty. Her heart was inexplicably drawn to his.

I re-watched the story of Nobel prize-winning mathematician John Nash in Ron Howard’s award winning movie, “A Beautiful Mind,” starring Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly. I thought that the movie could also have been called “A Beautiful Love.”

Alicia did not sign up to care for a mentally ill man. But when John decided to stop taking his medication, they walked through it together. The imaginary people and the incredible and world-affecting scenarios John created in his mind did not magically disappear. But as the screenplay reveals, neither did Alicia’s love for her husband.

Her steadfast faith in him and love for him was the shining light that cut through all the chaos he had dealt with on his own for years. Her lovingkindness redeemed him and ultimately led him to a productive, rewarding life. As a result, Alicia’s love saved John.

Read John 13:1-17.

What a scene that the apostle John captures on the last night of Jesus’ life on earth. The Master knew the time had come for him to leave this world. He assembled a meal with his disciples, knowing that Judas still planned to betray him. In that emotion-laden context, Jesus knelt and began a dramatic foot-washing of his followers’ feet. Imagine the messaging going on among the disciples: first, Jesus demonstrated how much He loved them; second, his act foreshadowed his soon approaching self-sacrifice on the cross; third, he was calling his closest friends to emulate his example and serve one another in humilty.

That is the way it is with God. Scripture records that God demonstrates His love for us (John 3:16, Romans 5:8). God did not wait for us to respond, but took the inititative to love us (1 John 4:9-10). He loves us regardless of the circumstances of our lives and the distractions that we get involved with (Romans 8:38-39). He is committed to our flourishing and will never give up on us (Matthew 28:20). He stays close to us when we start seeing and chasing things that are not real and necessary and won’t last or bring us fulfillment (parable of the lost son). He is even with us when our behavior betrays Him (ouch, how many times is that?).

The love of God is the one shining light that stays steady when everything is trying to knock us off course. Even when we sabotage ourselves, God can be counted on to be real and unchanging.

Live communally. Specifically, how can you put Jesus’ teaching into practice for someone in your web of influence? Remember that it’s His beautiful love that saves and sustains us.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2016 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – March 21

I don’t know about you, but I get a lot of junk mail. Not as much snail mail, but I am amazed at the stuff that shows up in my email (or better yet, my spam box). Information about legal and questionable activities, offers of millions of dollars from an overseas widow wanting to bless me, and a myriad of adventures of all kinds. Some are interesting to peek at, but I have to be resolute to “unsubscribe,” knowing I never signed up for any of them in the first place.

I learned this a long time ago when I mistakenly responded to an offer of a free iPad, and found myself filling out my personal information for the “deal.” Then I noticed an activity bar in the upper part of the browser, indicating the steps left to fulfill before I could claim my new device. With the prompt saying I “was almost done” after answering several layers of questions about my buying interests, age, etc., I grew tired and thought I cancelled out of the deal by closing my browser and quitting the process. I should have known that casually passing on my personal information would have consequences. Sadly, I dealt with a flurry of vouchers, coupon books, and adventure brochures for a few months before I was able to stop the onslaught.

My mom and dad were right. There are consequences for everything we do – not finishing up the lab assignment, being late consistently for my part time job at the campus library, filling out an Internet survey, and making poor moral choices that affect my character and reputation, even my mental capacity…when I feeling crummy about being irresponsible.

Read 2 Kings 20:12-18.

Judah’s King Hezekiah was a good man by most people’s account. But he did something foolish one day and the entire nation of Israel paid for it. Some visiting messengers from Babylon (the soon-to-be world empire) showed up in Jerusalem with a gift for the king after he got over an illness. Hezekiah apparently felt a bit prideful about his recovery and ended up showing the Babylonian delegation around his palace and the nation’s armory of protective weapons. It was too much disclosure to a neighbor, let alone a budding world power.

The prophet Isaiah heard what Hezekiah had done and prophesied that all the riches of Jerusalem would be plundered and carried off to Babylon. Which is exactly what happened! Years later, the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, acted on the report of those messengers (i.e, spies), and ordered his army to attack and ransack Jerusalem. They burned the temple and the palace to the ground, and brought back everything of value (including the people, such as Daniel and many promising young people) as trophies of yet another successful campaign (2 Kings 25:8-21). The people of God would be held captive for a long time – all as a result of a boastful and talkative king. It did not help that Hezekiah’s son, Mannaseh, was a bad king, as well as his son, Amon.

What have you done that you are paying for now? How would have knowing the consequences have prevented (or at least slowed down) what you were getting to ready to do?

I have learned that it is not only bad or foolish choices that have consequences. As I sow to the Spirit by reading and feeding on Scripture and humbly dedicating myself to the Lord’s will each day, I can bear fruit that remains. As I cultivate a grateful attitude and trust the Lord to lead me, I find divine resources that enable me to walk in the Spirit. Think theologically. Weigh your words and actions. Then you’ll find yourself making fewer choices that have painful results.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2016 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – March 14

Imagine you grew up in a small town with a large oak tree in the center of town. Many New England towns and villages had a similar landscape due to the early history of their settling and the effort made to grow a town around the natural beauty of God’s pre-existing creative work.

But progress being what it is, many of those same towns and villages abandoned their past and good people decided to cut down and eliminate wonderful trees for human advancement. Others resisted the bringing down of the trees, often outraged that City Council’s would actually vote to chop these wooden giants down. In some cases, as local citizens and elected officials argued their differing points of view, local leadership decided to save the tree in question.

Throughout the last few centuries, people have argued about who’s view of nature prevails. There are those who believe trees for example, are living beings that have the same rights as do human beings. Some men and women have actually written letters to trees (Dear Tree…) and attached them to the bark as an effort towards temporary preservation.

Read Genesis 1.

The first book of the Older Testament provides a view that God expected and empowered Adam and Eve (and their descendants) to care for the creation as part of their God-given responsibilities. Biblical scholarship has yielded clear guidelines for caring for God’s creation.

Calvin B. DeWitt is a professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin (Madison, WI), and has written Three Biblical Principles of Environmental Stewardship. They are first, an Earthkeeping Principle: As the Lord keeps and sustains us, so we must keep and sustain our Lord’s creation. Second, Dr. Dewitt presents a Sabbath Principle: We must provide for creation’s sabbath rests. Third, he offers a Fruitfulness Principle: We should enjoy, but must not destroy creation’s fruitfulness.

I like trees. I grew up climbing and enjoying trees in the field behind our home. But I never wrote a letter to one. I generally saw them as beautiful creations of God that show His amazing design and flair. The giant redwoods in California are spectacular in their size and scope. Movies and documentaries have revealed ancient oaks with remarkable branches and thick trunks that dominate the area beneath and around them.

But trees, even the wonderful Ents of The Lord of the Rings, along with other plants and creative efforts of our Lord, are not worthy of our worship. Only God Himself deserves our worship and praise. When Adam and Eve were given the responsibility in Genesis 1:26 to “rule over the all the earth,” it was a clear command from God for them and their offspring to be caretakers of His creation. This includes using natural resources wisely, not destroying animals or plants in wasteful or haphazard ways, and protecting the environment from abuse by others.

Some people struggle with the balance of caring for God’s creation and allowing creation to become their god. That is why Scripture is clear: God alone is sovereign and majestic, and deserves “worth-ship” from the rest of the created order, i.e., human beings and all the rest. We need to be good stewards and caretakers of His creation. But our Lord is alone worthy of our worship. Grow devotionally. Worship and serve the Creator, not His creation.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2016 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – March 7

Several generations ago, during one of the most turbulent desert wars in the Middle East, a spy was captured. The general of the Persian army, a man of intelligence and compassion, had adopted an unusual custom in such cases. He permitted the prisoner to make a choice of either facing a firing squad or passing through the black door. As the moment of the execution drew near, the general ordered the spy to be brought before him for a final interview.

“What shall it be, the firing squad or the black door?” the general asked. The prisoner hesitated. Finally, he chose the firing squad. Not long after, a volley of shots on the courtyard announced that the grim sentence had been fulfilled.

The general stared at his boots. Then he turned to his aide and said, “You see how it is with men? They will always prefer the known to the unknown, even it if means facing certain death. It is characteristic of people to be afraid of the undefined.”

“What lies beyond the black door?” asked the aide. “Freedom,” replied the general, “and I’ve only known a few men brave enough to take it.”

We face the unknown in everyday life. Our choices won’t always be a matter of life and death, but taking risks with the unknown may increase our freedom and success.

Read Matthew 9:35-38.

Consider the impact of Jesus’ words and actions in verse 35: Going = sense of mission; Synagogues = strategic places to reach Israel; Teach, preach, heal = Kingdom evidences; Good news = God’s rule breaking in. Verse 36: Jesus saw the crowds…”harassed” = bullied, oppressed, “helpless” = in the face of such oppression as well as unable to rescue themselves. Jesus saw people as “sheep without a shepherd.” He was moved with compassion.

Verse 37: He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great (ripe), but the workers are few…” Imagine their potential…what could God do with a life? Verse 38: So Jesus said, “Ask the Lord of the Harvest to send out laborers (workers) into his harvest field.”

Chi Alpha Campus Ministries is the missions outreach of the Assemblies of God, designed to go onto the secular campus and reach college students right where they live and go to school. Our mission is to reconcile students to Christ…transforming the university, the marketplace, & the world. Most college students today are unchurched and far from Christ, their only Savior.

The harvest is great on college campuses, and the workers are you and me. Join those of us in Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship chapters across the globe as we engage the university with the person and claims of Jesus; join us as we provide a home for Christian students; join us as we train students to be Christ-centered laborers on campus now and in the marketplace after; and join us as we offer hospitality and friendship to international students visiting our campuses.

Serve globally. King Jesus is leading the greatest rescue operation of all time. We call every student to pray, every student to give, and every student to go on His behalf. Walk through the black door and join us in taking a risk in changing the world through college students.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2016 by Mike Olejarz

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