Monthly Archives: April 2016

Monday Motivator – April 25

Have you ever heard of Frank Buck? Very few of us would venture into the jungle to shoot wild animals, but this man went into the wilds of Africa to capture animals alive: to bring back elephants, tigers, and gorillas for our zoos and circuses. Could you imagine the thrill, the excitement, the danger of such a life?

I heard of a lady in Seattle…a tiny woman…who lives in the University district. As part of her Christian service, she walks the unsafe streets in the night hours and frequently has her purse stolen. In it, the thief finds a note saying, “You must be in great trouble if you needed to steal this purse. I am sorry for you and I love you. I believe God loves you and wants to help you. So do I. Here is my address and phone number. Please come and see me.”

A modern day Frank Buck…out there at night in a dangerous area after the biggest game of all.

Read Luke 5:1-11.

In these verses, we find Jesus proposing this kind of big game hunting, or to be more accurate, fishing…see verse 1. Imagine the sights and sounds: The SEA of Galilee, about twenty miles north of Jerusalem. CROWDS around eager to hear the good news…Jesus taught them. Their RESPONSE causes Jesus to get in a boat to better communicate with them. Note the FOCUS: Who’s boat did he get in? Peter’s (one individual).

WHY? It was practical for 1) teaching (sitting down…the custom); 2) back-and-forth dialogue, w/ questions; 3) pauses, a parable now and then…did you notice that shepherd and his flock of sheep? 4) Personal impact (who’s boat? But why him?) 5) It was showing God on two legs…fishing in the same clothes as he preaches in to Peter; 6) To test his faith (see 6:47 too); 7) did you notice Peter’s reaction to Jesus when he wanted to use his boat for fishing, and not just for preaching? Did you note Peter’s hard work (diligence)? And his obedience…see John 2:7.

Does Jesus know about stuff that isn’t spiritual, like fishing? or computers? or relationships?

Now the PROVISION. So MANY fish. V 12 says He healed the leper; v 17 says he healed the paralytic. They needed help to handle the miracle. They signaled others to come and help. You’ve heard many requests from missionaries. Have you ever responded to go and help?

Peter’s response to Jesus? Confessed sin. Humility. Unworthiness. Astonishment. Jesus’ words to Peter – He caught Peter’s attention through something important in his life and Peter was now convinced. Note Jesus’ response to Peter: First, is his encouragement of companionship (I will be with you: Isa 43:1) and strength (I will help your weakness: Isa 41:10). Second, come follow me and I will make you a fisher of men (trained by Jesus in a new calling).

What did Peter and his friends then do? Verse 11 says they left everything to follow Jesus.

Think theologically. Jesus was promising those early disciples that they would be taking people alive for the Kingdom, and that’s exciting business. What could be more exciting than working with Jesus to connect with those who don’t know Him? To help them discover who He is in order to escape boredom, immorality, addiction, and eternal damnation? Keep on fishing.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2016 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – April 18

There is a great scene in the first Jurassic Park movie when dinosaur expert Dr. Alan Grant and two young siblings (Lex and Tim) survive the initial attack by the Tyrannosaurus Rex. They narrowly escape by scrambling down the side of the T-Rex paddock and rescue Tim from the fallen vehicle. The kids are visibly shaken and Lex is almost hyperventilating with fear. She says her parents left her as a result of a divorce and is terrified, when Dr. Grant tried to calm her down by saying, “But, I won’t leave you.”

True to his word, he gets the kids back safely through the park to their grandfather, Dr. John Hammond, and they get off the island by helicopter. Dr. Hammond earlier had remarked, “Who better than a dinosaur expert to get my grandkids out of danger.” He thought it was a sure thing.

Many of us make decisions according to the odds or a gut feeling. If we believed there was a greater chance we would get injured (or even die) by participating in certain behaviors, I assume most of us would avoid it. Yet there are thrill seekers among us who seek to stare even death in the face and seek to manipulate the odds for the adrenaline rush. I read about a guy who jumped off a boat to swim to shore in shark-infested waters with little more than his swim suit. Yikes!

My question is does knowing the odds or using common sense make much difference? A friend of mine who bets on sports told me you can wager on anything. He said some guys in Las Vegas once told him that people have a better chance of dying from a bee sting (one in six million) than winning the lottery (one in eighty million). Yet folks still buck the odds, right?

Read Hebrews 13:1-6.

While I was stirred by Dr. Grant’s heroics in Jurassic Park, the Scriptures have given me an anchor in real life that God’s word about never leaving us is trustworthy. The writer to the Hebrews wrote in 13:5 that God promised, “Never will I leave you or forsake you.” That’s exactly what Jesus said in Matthew 28:20, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

So when God says, “Never will I leave you or forsake you,” what does that mean? First, I suggest that only God can make that sort of declaration and keep it, based on His character and track record. Second, He will not abandon you and leave you to figure out life alone (unless you want Him to). Third, when bad things happen, avoid the tendency to assume God left you.

Since God’s presence provides security and identity for us, the writer of Hebrews 13 adds several other behavior shaping practices that God suggests you practice, in order to flourish:

Verse one says to love one another as brothers; Verse two says to show hospitality to strangers; Verse three says to remember people in prison and those treated poorly as if you shared their suffering; Verse four says to practice sexual purity whether single or married; Verse five says to practice a lifestyle of contentment instead of greed and ingratitude.

Knowing that God is our always present “helper” (verse six), Scripture calls us to live a fear-less life that is others-centered. We do not have to succumb to the trials and tribulations of life by getting paralyzed with anxiety. Grow devotionally. You can read and trust in the Word of God. It is a sure thing God will never leave us. May His promise give you courage to face today.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2016 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – April 11

Chi Alpha Campus Ministries is a mission movement that engages students and faculty on hundreds of campuses in the United States with life’s hardest questions and the relevance of Jesus Christ to all of life. We hope to create an open environment where those outside the church can bring their questions and explore the life of Jesus and where Christian students can find growth and encouragement. Our efforts to reconcile students to Christ and transform the university, the marketplace, and the world have three key aims:

Reach Students: Our focus is to reach college students from a broad spectrum of backgrounds, especially the unchurched, root them in Christ, equip them to be life-long disciples of Christ, and send them out for effective Christian service while in school and after graduation

Train Leaders: Our goal is to develop students into Christ-centered representatives and laborers while they are in school as well as when they pursue employment in the marketplace. We also work to recruit, develop, and release men and women for missionary service on campus.

Influence Nations: Reaching international students while they study in America is one way to impact nations. Another is to mobilize International and American students for vocational service overseas. We also send campus missionaries to key university centers.

As students participate in Chi Alpha while in college, we model and seek to train them in a series of mission statements we hope we affect their behavior: we want every student to pray, give, go, and welcome…as it relates to the global mission mandate Jesus gave to His church.

Read Revelation 7:9.

The apostle John gave us quite an image of the “gathered” church at the second return of Jesus. I do not know how much time remains before the imminent return of our Lord and King. But Jesus commanded us to watch, pray, and work until He comes. Here are ten things I like my students (and everyone who follows Jesus as Lord) to be doing for His global mission.

First, read through the Bible with a mission perspective. Uncover God’s redemptive arc.

Second, develop friendships with missionaries beyond your Chi Alpha staff.

Third, take time to learn about the global mission adventure. Attend a “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement” course. Read a missionary biography. Attend TWMS4.org.

Fourth, pray daily or weekly for world evangelization. Get a copy of Operation World to pray for nations and people groups. Pray for the international students on your campus.

Fifth, get involved with your Chi Alpha chapter’s mission strategy. Reach your campus to influence the United States and other nation’s. 2nd Timothy 2:2 it in your area of influence.

Sixth, start giving to mission’s each month as a student. Tithe on your income, make a monthly faith promise to missions, and give offerings regularly to advance the work of God.

Seventh, use your spring break and/or part of your summer for mission work (see #5).

Eighth, befriend an international student on your campus. Make room for one more friend.

Ninth, learn about tough places that need a witness for Jesus. Recruit your friends and go.

Tenth, consider missions as a long term career. Many should pray and give. Many should go.

Serve globally. God’s Word inspires God’s Work in His World. Let’s do our part.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2016 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – April 4

I often said to my kids when they were little, “read and practice a chapter of Proverbs a day for the rest of your lives.” We live in a world inundated with a rapidly increasing amount of knowledge that none of us can keep up with. More than ever, we need wisdom in order to realize why and how to live well.

With that in mind, I’d like to suggest a resource that you and your friends can benefit from. With more than ten million copies sold in a variety of languages, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: and it’s all small stuff” by Richard Carlson is a popular self help book. The book jacket says: Each of the 100 stress-reducing strategies have helped readers live calmer, happier lives and enjoy deeper, more satisfying relationships. Isn’t that what God designed us for? To flourish?

Each idea is explained in a short chapter of one to three pages. The concepts may appear simplistic, but they are based on proven, psychological principles, such as the effect of thoughts on feelings. The more aware we are of what we are thinking, the more we can control irrational thoughts and the emotions we produce. Here are several examples of some of the 100 ideas:

Make peace with imperfection;

Develop your compassion;

Do something nice for someone else – and don’t tell anyone about it;

Choose being kind over being right;

Don’t interrupt others or finish their sentences;

Once a week, write a heartfelt letter;

Become aware of your moods and don’t allow yourself to be fooled by the low ones;

Set aside quiet time, every day;

Stop blaming others; and…

Live this day as if it might be your last. It might be!

The reality is that all truth is ultimately God’s truth, wherever we come across it. The ideas mentioned in “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” can help people gain new perspective to have richer, more meaningful lives. I recognize this book is a helpful pre-evangelism tool.

I know some of my friends outside of Jesus are not ready to start looking to Scripture for truth and answers to the issues, questions, and challenges they wrestle with. What a joy it is to have a resource to offer them to start thinking about “how to live life well.”

The book jacket adds, “most of us tend to act or react to stuff that comes at us as an emergency, not an opportunity to relax and enjoy ourselves. The result is stress and not happiness.” Certainly one can make an argument that the ideas in the book are aimed at self-help, and not God-help. But my counter argument is, “if people are not yet ready for Scripture intake, why not present them with ideas that are in many cases, mirrored in Scripture?”

So when I shared chapter 67 with someone, entitled, “Practice ignoring your negative thoughts,” I added that my basis and application of that idea was found in Philippians 4:6-8 in the New Testament, which I quoted. “Really?” they said. “I never knew the Bible could be so helpful.”

Walk wisely. Proverbs are actually simple ways to keep little things from taking over your life.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2016 by Mike Olejarz

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