Monthly Archives: July 2016

Monday Motivator – July 18

Do you believe in Jesus as the Savior and Lord of your life? Are you walking under His authority day by day, or do you tend to keep Jesus at the periphery of your life?

A friend of mine named Dave was updating me on his professional life and said that due to new management, he was quietly pushed from the center of the action. The new supervisor was apparently insecure because he was chosen over two more qualified applicants, one of whom was Dave.

He told me he felt marginalized, which generally has a negative meaning. As one of several senior leaders in the department (i.e., with more than ten years of service), it was not easy for Dave to be bumped or shoved away from the middle of the work and left to fend for himself in the margin. How hard it is to be basically ignored after so many years of dependable service to the company by being relegated to the fringes.

But I have heard of it and seen it happen in many industries. I remember one of my first work-study projects on campus as an undergraduate student. A few of us hit it off and enjoyed spending time together after work and between classes. But Joe was accused of cheating on a chemistry exam. Then one of the girls got pregnant and dropped out of school. Joe was soon nowhere to be found. Then he comes back and we were not sure how to react to him. Joe was aloof when asked about the exam consequences and claimed he and Sharon were not sleeping together. I am sad to say I showed Joe a cold shoulder for awhile, thinking he was avoiding his responsibilities as a man. The others in the group treated Joe similarly, so he stopped coming around.

Did something like this ever happen to you? It hurts, doesn’t it?

Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-25.

I have noticed that our culture feigns interest in Jesus, but in reality, tends to marginalize Him. Pop culture influencers often use Jesus as an ornament, saying they respect and admire Him, but secretly wish He would stay out on the margins of their lives, where they are more comfortable with Him. Think about this: when is the last time someone “in the news” took to social media to ask people not to use Jesus’ name as a swear word?

Sadly, some churches, denominations, even Christians have sidelined Jesus, too. They do not want to accept Him for who He says He is. They want to undermine His authority by substituting their own view of Scripture and biblical behavior. They want to view Him simply as a good, or great man, but not the Savior of all. That would be intolerant to suggest one view (or His view) is THE way to truth. If they can force Jesus to the margin, they can be free of His influence. Then they can stay at the center of how they want to run their own lives.

Serve globally. Where is Jesus in your life right now? Have you pushed him to the edges where you don’t have to listen to Him anymore? Or is He the One you worship, give allegiance to (i.e., obey) and will follow – even to death? Do not accept the cultural tendency to marginalize our Lord. Jesus belongs in the middle, not the margin.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2016 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – July 11

A common site in college towns is a tip jar. You’ll see them near cash registers in bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and many places that has college students working. Over time I’ve asked college students I know to share their wisdom (i.e., tips) with fellow students at various times. It might happen as seniors spoke at Chi Alpha their last semester and included a practical idea in their mini-sermon of how to not just survive, but actually thrive in college.

Here are a bunch of tips that came up again and again (and they are listed in no particular order):

Most students will feel homesick at times, and not just during their first semester or two away from home. Remember that the Lord is with you. But also call home regularly (once a week?) because your parents like to hear your voice and know you are still alive.

Make sure you allow plenty of time for your academic work. You (and/or your parents) are paying a lot of money for this educational opportunity, so steward your time appropriately. Do not make the mistake of misaligning your priorities and doing homework after your recreational efforts. It’s not a matter of just scheduling your priorities, but prioritizing your schedule.

Watch how you spend your money. Draw up a budget for the month and if need be, put cash in different envelopes for how you plan to tithe, spend, and save your money. Have a safe to lock up your valuables and your envelopes of cash. Avoid the temptation to put a late night pizza on your credit card when you know you won’t have the money to pay for it at the end of the month.

Remember what your parents taught you and hopefully modeled. Proverbs 6:20 says to “keep your father’s commands and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” Try not to end up on the front page of the school or town newspaper unless you are receiving an award or being highlighted for your character. Carry your family name with dignity. Proverbs 27:11 says to, “Be wise, my son (or daughter) and bring joy to your parent’s hearts” (slight Olejarz paraphrase).

Stay away from and steer clear of sexual immorality. It can be a quick trip down a road of regret with short and long term consequences that are painful and life threatening.

If the people you hang around with try to entice you to give up your values, dump them quickly and find new friends. There are plenty of people who are making good choices and want the same for you. Proverbs 1:10 says, “My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them.”

Stay close to God and His people. Set a daily time in the morning and evening to read Scripture and pray. What you feed grows. Join a Christian group like Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship. Be with others who love to know God and serve others. Learn how to express your faith to others. Know what you believe and why. Pray for divine appointments to share the gospel with others.

Make your bed each morning. Cultivate a good attitude and work ethic. Use your manners. Listen to your mom (or dad) about doing your laundry. Your jeans and T-shirts do not magically appear in your dresser drawer or closet washed, dried, folded or hung on a hanger.

Walk wisely. Last tip: read and practice a chapter of the book of Proverbs every day for the rest of your lives. Do not worry about pleasing people. Please God. He is the only One that matters.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2016 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – July 4

I remember an occasion when I was training prospective student leaders in an aspect of follow-up. Students had come to one of our events and filled out an “interest card,” indicating some further conversation. So for a few nights, I took 2-3 students with me and we went to visit the interested students where they lived. In as many cases as possible, I called or emailed ahead and tried to set up an appointment, so as to increase our chances of meeting with someone.

One night we had several great conversations with students, each of whom shared some of their spiritual journey and said they wanted to increase their knowledge and experience of Jesus and His people. Yet we had two “divine appointments” over a few nights, situations where God seemingly arranged circumstances for us to walk into.

One was when we walked into a dorm, took the stairs to the 3rd floor and as we exited into the hallway, we were trying to determine which way to go. A female student sitting a few feet away asked, “Can I help you?” I answered, “If you became a Christian tonight, that would really help you and me.” She replied, “That’s a curious response. I was thinking of taking my life, but said out loud last night that if there was a god, he/she/it better send someone my way tonight!” Needless to say, we sat down and talked for 2 hours about her questions and pain, and who Jesus was. She started attending a Bible study and weeks later decided to start following Jesus as Lord.

The second occurred when a few guys and I were exiting a dorm two days later. We heard crying from the rear of stairwell and asked who was there and if they needed assistance. A large man appeared and I recognized him as a varsity football player. Ted recognized me and as I reached out my hand to shake his, he grabbed me and start holding me as his sobs increased. Moments later he started unpacking a story of a close friend who recently took his life. In his shock, he prayed, “God, please come from heaven and put your arms around me and help me.” Hours later, he was crying in the stairwell when I asked who was there and if they needed help.

He wanted God, but got me. I put my arms around him and said, “Everything was going to be all right.” God knew Ted needed a man with real arms of love and a real voice giving true, wise, and encouraging words. It took months of care, prayer, and support from family, friends, and a Christian counselor to help Ted get through this crisis. And with God’s help (and ours), he did.

Read Romans 12:4-21.

All of us who surrounded Ted became the arms, legs, hands, and voice of God. It was a lesson in real time about the truth of Paul’s words to the Roman Christians to “be the body of Christ” (see 1 Corinthians 12:27).

Think hard. Many students and professors plead for God to come help, comfort, and be with them. While Jesus is the risen Lord, He has chosen to work in and through us, His followers, empowered by the Holy Spirit to “be Jesus” to anyone our lives come into contact with. Our words and actions are to be the words and actions of our Lord. Remember WWJD?

Live communally. People want proof that God is real, accessible, and willing to hear and respond to their needs and pain. As a member of God’s body, how have you responded to their needs? What gift(s) will you share? You and I may be the only Jesus they will ever see.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2016 by Mike Olejarz

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