Monthly Archives: May 2016

Monday Motivator – May 30

What is the most beautiful place you have seen? What music is the loveliest you have heard? When you are awed by beauty, do you think of God and enjoy it with Him? Are you moved to share it, and Him, with others?

As an athlete, beauty is teammates working in unison to achieve a goal, like winning a title.

For a writer, it is a well written story with a moving metaphor and/or illusttration.

For the mechanic, it is a well tuned car able to perform to its maximum design.

For the engineer, it’s a carefully built structure that maintains its soundness.

For the artist, it’s capturing the image in paint, fabric, or pencil.

For the accountant, it’s a budget that balances.

For the musician, it’s playing the notes in sequence, with feel and precision.

It is amazing to consider the varied kinds of beauty in the world around us. While we do not need to argue and attempt to agree on a single definition of beauty, we can appreciate it when we come across it. For followers of the One True God, we understand that beauty ultimately arises from its source – the character of God. His holiness and goodness are integral to who He is.

I appreciate the reality that God reveals Himself in so many beautiful ways. The universe, the planet, the various eco-systems, the animal and insect worlds, even the human body reflects the creative genius of our designer and creative God. I have stood before a mountain peak, been in a boat in raging ocean, felt the calm in a quiet and secluded forest of solitude, and enjoyed the thundererous ovation at a pro sporting event. In all of those environments, I believe I was able to perceive and acknowledge God.

Read Psalm 29.

The writer of this psalm, David, urges his readers to recognize the Lord in heaven as our true (and only) object of worship. He writes that not only in the soft and quiet moments, but even in the loudness and ferocity of a storm, is God to be recognized and revered. Ultimately, He is the Lord of heaven and earth, the eternal King in judgment.

I believe beauty is given to us to appreciate the handiwork of the Father and it should lead us to worship and adore Him. The purity of watching a red robin sit in a tree near my home and sing out shatters the noise of a broken world that distorts God’s beauty.

I find that beauty forces me to look outside of myself and revel in the incredible variety around me, much of which I miss without consistent effort. Beauty awakens me to people and images and sounds and smells and sights I have a tendencty to ignore. Noticing that red robin the other day re-oriented me to “see anew” and is something I need again and again. I hear it in music, see it in a well-worded blog post, a clever, funny commercial, or a colorful billboard. It is so easy to miss out on the symmetry, clarity, and balance God has wired into the world around us.

One old writer wrote that some may feel nearer to God in a sun-swept garden, but Scripture affirms that even in the valley of the shadow of death (or even in a hurricane), He is near. Think theologically. How can you use beauty as evidence for the reality, presence, love, and justice of God? Nature reflects God’s beauty and glory. Notice it today and add your voice to the chorus.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2016 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – May 23

I have learned how to pray by being around others who pray. That started by listening to my parents pray over meals and at bedtime. I have learned by hearing pastors pray prepared and spontaneous prayers out loud in church. I paid attention to leaders of small groups I attended in college as they taught me how to pray the A.C.T.S. acrostic (adoration-confession-supplication-thanksgiving). The leader would model one of the ACTS letters in a short, conversational tone of a sentence or two and the ask each of us in the group to imitate their prayer in a similar manner. Later, as I read Scripture for myself, I came across various prayers in the Old and New Testaments and added them to my practices.

I still enjoy reading the stories and examples of men and women recorded in Scripture. Take a moment and read the first letter of Paul to the Thessalonians in one sitting.

Now review the following list of qualities I picked out of the book that reflect the heart and character of the the apostle Paul towards the saints in Thessalonica.

1 Thessalonians 1:2 – A life of thankfulness and prayer

1 Thessalonians 1:3 – A hopeful, pastoral mindset towards others

1 Thessalonians 1:4 – A vision for what God wanted to do in others

1 Thessalonians 1:5 – A clear, anointed messenger for the gospel

1 Thessalonians 1:6 – A transparent and imitatable example

1 Thessalonians 2:2 – A courageous ability to endure opposition

1 Thessalonians 2:3 – A life of discipline, pure motives and integrity

1 Thessalonians 2:4-6 – A tested life that pleases and honors God

1 Thessalonians 2:7 – A gentleness/tenderness in dealing with others

1 Thessalonians 2:8 – An authenticity that leads to truly loving people (and show affection)

1 Thessalonians 2:9 – A willingness to set yourself aside for others

1 Thessalonians 2:10 – A trustworthy and blameless example

1 Thessalonians 2:11-13 – An encouraging, fatherly, disposition that calls others forward

1 Thessalonians 2:17-19 – An intense longing to see people mature

1 Thessalonians 3:2-5 – A concern for other’s stability, even from a distance

1 Thessalonians 3:7-9 – A sincere gratefulness for the success of others

1 Thessalonians 3:10 – An earnest effort and prayer to disciple others

1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 – A teaching capacity that exhorts people how to live to please God

1 Thessalonians 4:18 – An ability to comfort and instruct with sound doctrine

1 Thessalonians 5:6 – A watchfulness for those under your care

1 Thessalonians 5:14-22 – A checklist for pastoral leaders

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 – A firm reliance on the author of our salvation – the Faithful One.

I have gained great depth and breadth to my prayers (and my life) as I ask the Holy Spirit to build the qualities and actions of the apostle Paul that I saw in this letter into my own life. Grow devotionally. Read the book of 1 Thessalonians daily for a week or two. Use my list of verses and the general thought above as a daily framework of prayer for yourself. Then watch the Lord transform you into a more mature Christ-honoring person of influence.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2016 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – May 16

Where do you feel God wants you to take a stand because of your faith?

The prophet Daniel was living in the last days of the southern kingdom. He was taken to Babylon during the 1st deportation in 605 B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar had deported a number of the royal Hebrew 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 = Adednego.

Read Daniel 3:1-30.

In chapter 3, Nebuchadnezzar erected a large image of gold – a statue 90 feet high and 9 feet wide, for whom he was named, and demanded that everyone under his rule bow down and worship him. His desire was to unify his kingdom and consolidate his authority.

The king demanded they all 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 except three guys named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Their courage in resisting Nebuchadnezzar’s order led to their being thrown into a blazing furnace, heated seven times greater than normal. Their faith was being put to the test. But as the king looked into the furnace, he was astonished. His soldiers had died as soon as the flames touched them. But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were walking around and someone else seemed to be walking around WITH them. He said the 4th looked like a son of the gods. Who was it? An illusion? An Angel? A Son of the gods? THE Son of God?

Nebuchadnezzar ran to the furnace and yelled, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, come here!” Their clothes were not scorched. Their bodies were not harmed. The hair on their heads was not even singed. No smell of smoke.

You should recognize Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, because you’re just like them. Men and women of talent and ability, various ages, the brightest and the best, serving or being trained for public service and civic virtue, who hope to make their dreams come true. These Hebrew guys teach us that there are some things worth getting burned for:

First, like refusing to conform to the demands and expectations of our culture when it violates God’s Word; second, like living a life of faith and sharing your story in a very secular place; third, knowing that if you identify with the one true God, it often will get you into trouble and may cause you to suffer; fourth, realizing that your convictions will label you as servant of God; fifth, knowing we need the help of others to stand in a culture of ruthless competition for our allegiance; sixth, knowing that if you seek to do right, you may not win, and in fact may get punished, but you will never be alone. God will be with you; and seventh, knowing that God can be trusted. He will carry you through.

Serve globally. Trust God for whatever resource you need for taking a stand. Then stand firm.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2016 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – May 9

When was the last time you lost your cool and acted foolishly? Is it okay to be mad as long as you do not hit someone? Have you ever gottent into the express lane in a supermarket, then realized you had more than 15 items? It happened recently to me. When it was my turn, I admitted I had sixteen items and the young lady at checkout said to keep the line moving and rang me through with no judgment. No one else said a word.

Yet a week later I was behind a few folks and could not help notice the lady three spots ahead had a full cart with stuff on the bottom rack of the cart. There was no question she was way over the limit. I was weighing whether I should say anything when a lady ahead of me raised her voice and sarcastically said, “Well, I wonder who has trouble counting to fifteen?”

The lady with the full cart turned and responded with a lot of attitude, “Look, mind your own business.” The other lady replied, “Normally I could, but the sign says the limit for this line is fifteen, not fifty.” Some pushing and shoving ensued, and the security guard had to step in and break up what could have been an ugly altercation. Phew! Talk about averting an anger problem.

Read Proverbs 29:11, 20, 22.

Would you lose your temper over a math conflict in a grocery store checkout line? Or is it more difficult for you when you get stuck behind a driver on the highway in the left passing line who is doing 55 miles per hour and won’t move over when you creep up on his bumper? Or how about the challenge you feel to not “hurt someone” who is talking to a friend in a movie theater as the previews are showing before the main feature? Or do you struggle more with a call that a referee makes that you disagree with? Those are the things to really get made about, right?

Pastor James says we all have a problen with taming our tongue. We all have a tipping point, don’t we? Can you remember losing it one time over a really stupid and inane matter? I’m not suggesting you have an anger problem, and you probably did not grab someone and physically manhandle them. You may have felt like it. Over something frivolous, too, like getting jumped in the crowded food line at the stadium when they said, “Next,” and someone cut in front of you to order. You don’t have to get mad at me, just nod your head in agreement.

To be honest, all of us have to admit we have a tendency to get upset, even angry. Can we at least start by admitting we have a problem? The apostle Paul argued (no pun intended) that unresolved anger can give the enemy of our soul a “foothold” in our lives (Ephesians 4:26-27). If we allow anger to rule us, we can fall into a trap of Satan, ignoring the Spirit’s help and doing what our adversary wants – succumb to fleshly desires and petty pouting.

You know that when you’re impatient, rude, sarcastic, short-tempered, even grouchy…leaning towards meanness, that you are following in the steps of the wrong master. If and when you give “full expression to your anger” (Proverbs 29:11), and you respond inappropriately to someone with words and/or actions, you reveal yourself to be a fool.

So the next time you find your temperature rising, ask yourself if it really matters. Pray and ask the Spirit for power to act Christlike. If you pause to do that, you’ve taken a step toward a Spirit empowered tongue taming. Walk wisely. Lose your cool and you’ll be a fool.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2016 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – May 2

What is your definition of a good friend? What characteristics contribute to friendship?

I like to use the following six Biblical ingredients to describe healthy practices and a framework for a committed relationship to develop and flourish. Let’s take a look.

First is acceptance, based on 1 Timothy 1:15-16. Since God accepts us as we are, we should take the other person exactly as he or she is. Accept each other for who we are, not based on our performance, accomplishments, strengths or weaknesses.

Second is devotion to serve one another based on Romans 12:10. Devotion = consistency, hard work and focus. Developing the relationships God has given us means serving one another.

Third is prayer based on Matthew 18:19 and Ecclesiastes 4:9-10. Prayer “nurtures” friendships in two areas: a) 2 people can experience all the gifts of God; and b) it’s hard to keep a grudge when you’re praying for someone.

Fourth is confession based on James 5:16. We confess to God for forgiveness, but the purpose of confession to one another is healing. Cultivating transparency in our friendships is emotionally healthy and provides a kind of barrier against sin. But confession requires a trust and follow-through which committed relationships provides best.

Fifth is submission and accountability based on Ephesians 5:21. Accountability to others is a sign of our dependency on one another. It is the opposite of rebellion and independence. We need accountable relationships to help us live disciplined and godly lives. If a person resists being accountable, this reflects pride and a secretiveness that is the breeding ground for sin. Submission is a mark of humility.

Sixth is encouragement and affirmation based on Hebrews 3:13. Encouragement is essential to any relationship. It’s something everyone needs to stay rooted in God’s truth about who we are and what God wants to do in our lives. Affirmation simply is telling others how and why they are important to God and us.

Genesis 2:18 declares man was not created to be “alone,” but is a social being. Scripture further indicates our relationships break down into 3 areas: first, to God; second to authority (parents, teachers, pastors, employers, etc.); and third to peers (friendships, romance).

If we are out of order in any of these areas, it will introduce defeat and hindrance into our life. Jesus wants to be Lord of all of our relationships as He works to get them right in our lives. One common area that needs help is in regard to one’s own parents. Honoring parents carries with it the promise of blessing (Deuteronomy 5:16). Mark 11:25 says if we don’t forgive others, God won’t forgive us. 1 Peter 3:7 states that if a man mistreats his wife, his prayers will be hindered.

John 13:34-35 says our love for one another is the evidence that we are followers of Jesus. Acts 2:42-47 describes that in the context of committed relationships we can give and receive God’s love. If Christians stay isolated, they block off a primary channel of God’s ministry to them. Live communally. How can you practice one of the six ingredients in your friendships?

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2016 by Mike Olejarz

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