Monthly Archives: August 2016

Monday Motivator – August 29

Some of Jesus’ most quoted words are, “to love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31).

Those of us in Chi Alpha Campus Ministries are cognizant of the reality of the wide variety of neighbors we encounter in the colleges and universities of the United States.

Being kind to our neighbors is an important part of Jesus’ teaching. We endeavor to show hospitality to American and foreign students throughout the school year. We sponsor fun activities, weekend retreats, service and justice projects, and assist young people in their holistic development (i.e., spiritual, intellectual, physical, social, and financial). We teach Scripture with a high regard for its practical and transferable applications (see 1 John 2:6). Our focus is to help students become life-long followers and disciples of King Jesus.

But Jesus also took it a step further when he said, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (which is also found in Matthew 22:39). That is certainly a tall order and calls for a deeper commitment and investment of ourselves, doesn’t it? So how do we do it?

Well, we start by acknowledging that our service to the academy involves the four main people groups: undergraduates, graduates, faculty, and foreign students. Then we further break it down into groups or sub-groups of the four main ones. While most Chi Alpha chapters start with a focused effort toward freshman and work up the “relational chain” to sophomores, juniors, and seniors, our groups encounter and deal with others all the time.

It means the guy or girl who lives across the hall in the dorm or the people living in the rented house next door. It means the students who traveled the farthest to come to school that semester (hint: they came from another country). It cannot forget those in graduate school with even less time on their hands than undergrads, and it cannot ignore the faculty, administrators, and service personnel who live and work nearby campus.

Our neighbor is anyone in need we happen to come in contact with, as Jesus taught in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). Jesus linked loving our neighbor to His greatest commandment in Mark 12:30. If we love God with our whole being, we’ll naturally treat people right, right? We’ll take time, even make time, for others, right?

Read Mark 12:28-34.

The Bible does not leave us hanging when it comes to who are neighbors are, whether they live in your dorm or sorority, are on your club sports team, or you bump into them in an elevator on the way to class. Loving others like ourselves (Jesus style) means to: rejoice when good things happen to others (Luke 15:6, 9; do nothing to hurt another (Romans 13:8-10); are honest with one another (Ephesians 4:25); encourage one another daily (Hebrews 3:13); and don’t favor one person over another (James 2:8-9).

Serve globally. Join us in your part of the world by living like Jesus. There is no guarantee we’ll get the same treatment in return, but loving others is something Jesus expects from us. Loving God means loving your neighbor, even if she is a professor who gives you a grade you earned and don’t agree with. Loving others is a command.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2016 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – August 22

What have you done lately (or in the recent past) that was foolish?

Working with college students elicits a number of stories about young people and other adults that I was privy to. For example:

  1. A student tried to rob a credit union to help pay for his tuition bill.
  2. A student took a roommates’ laptop and some cash in his dresser drawer because of an argument they had and tried to pin the blame on another guy down the hall in the dorm. He was discovered to be the culprit and faced disciplinary action.
  3. A couple of girls got their hands on the answers to an upcoming quiz and passed them around. Their plot to ace the quiz got nixed when they and six other students wrote down the exact same answers and their teaching assistant thought that was too convenient.
  4. A male faculty member tried to hit on a female graduate student, and to make matters worse, tried to take credit for her research. He was investigated and found guilty.
  5. An administrator did not like Christians and tried to get a Chi Alpha chapter thrown off campus. His actions contributed to a legal response, which he lost, and he was forced to apologize to the group. I can’t remember if he lost his job over such bullying actions.

I can say I never did anything close to the situations mentioned above (all true, by the way) but I have played the fool at times. I know it can be easy to make poor decisions if your mind and heart are focused on the wrong things.

Proverbs 14:7 says, “Stay away from a foolish man, for you will not find knowledge on his lips.” A fool is someone who has mixed up morals, manners, and actions. The Book of Proverbs is full of warnings to avoid the foolish person because he or she will lead us to poor decisions, bad consequences, empty promises of fun, and run-ins with the law.

When you or I act foolishly, we are people that others should avoid. At that time, we are not worthy of respect, trust, or even friendship. To act foolishly is to diminish your witness for Jesus, compromise your integrity, and affect the lives of others negatively.

Read Deuteronomy 32:1-8.

Moses was inspired by God to address the people of Israel as he was preparing to turn over leadership of the Hebrews to Joshua. The people had a history of forgetting the Lord, becoming corrupt, crooked, and acting like fools towards the One True God.

Moses asked them in verse 6: “Is this the way you repay the Lord, O foolish and unwise people? Is He not your Father, your Creator, who made and formed you?” Moses was asking them, how in essence, could they live this way after having known the Lord, the One who rescued them from Egypt, made them a people, and sustained them for so long?

We learn from Israel the consequences of such foolish deeds. If you and I are being foolish, the same question Moses asked Israel in verse six should cause us consternation. Playing the fool is an empty, harmful pursuit. Walk wisely. Foolish ways lead down the wrong path. Read Proverbs for safeguards for not getting caught in foolish behavior.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2016 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – August 15

I went to the doctor’s office this morning to pay a late bill for a recent appointment. The receptionist opened the window to greet me and I started off by saying, “I want to apologize for being late in paying this bill that is a few days over due.” She replied, “Thanks, but there is no need to apologize. But I appreciate your saying you are sorry.”

When was the last time you honestly said, “I’m sorry” to God, a family member or friend? What is holding you back?

I am the oldest of four siblings. I remember our parents modeling and expecting each of us to own up to our responsibilities, take care of our own chores, keep short accounts with each other, and apologize when we messed up. I recall an incident where my mom and dad were discussing something and he raised his voice towards her. He quickly apologized to her, then came in the other room and apologized to us kids for his action. He said he was sorry he raised his voice at mom, and would be careful not to do it again. That example has stuck with me for over 50 years.

I am sure each of us has something we have done that we are not proud of. We are all guilty of the same human frailties and tendencies to avoid being seen for who we really are. We tend to be reluctant to acknowledge and repent of our misdeeds because it means taking ownership for our actions. It means a humble admission of being imperfect, even though we allowed selfishness to influence our actions. We abhor such confessions, probably because it makes us feel ashamed, and we prefer to avoid those sorts of feelings.

Read 2 Corinthians 7:5-11.

The apostle Paul wrote to fellow Christ-followers in 1st century Corinth to call them to own up to where they had “missed the mark.” They strayed from the teachings of Jesus and Paul called them to accountability, that they would be “truly sorry” for how they veered off. Paul’s aim was that the Corinthians would be sorrowful for their actions, and that sorrow would lead them to repentance (i.e., a change in heart, v 10).

Paul was glad to learn from Titus of the repentance of many in the church who previously rebelled against his apostolic authority. This account reveals the way others can contribute to our growth and maturity when they admonish us for the behavior they observe in us. It is never easy to be the person who questions something we said or did. Yet God uses others to help us develop godly character…if we are wise to listen.

I remember my parents saying to me, “You should be ashamed of yourself,” when I did something wrong. When I really did feel ashamed and truly repented of my bad behavior, I did remember how liberating it felt to be able to climb into mom or dad’s lap for a hug. Being ashamed means being genuinely sorry for the wrong you have done, and through the shame being made clean as a result of confession and repentance.

Are you too proud or insensitive to feel ashamed when you do something wrong? What will you do about it? Live communally. Jesus calls us to speak the truth in love to one another. Be willing to own up to your failings. Seek forgiveness, and be sorry as you do.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2016 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – August 8

My dad kidded me when we left home in Detroit, Michigan for college at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Once we got all my stuff in the station wagon, he wondered if we had room for me. Somehow I squeezed into the front passenger seat and we made it. Then we had the arduous task of many parents and their kids going to college for the first time: carrying all of the stuff up stairs and down hallways to the dorm room or apartment in humid end-of-the-summer weather.

From what I hear, packing for college is still a pressure packed event on the home front. New students tend to pack everything they think they need. Having participated in helping college students and their parents move in during fall orientation, I’ve seen the boxes of shoes women bring, and felt the weight of what guys bring too. By their second semester or year, most students have pared down what they actually need – a lot less.

I value, appreciate, and salute Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship groups across the country that prepare every August and September to assist students and their parents during move in. The hot, humid weather does not make it any easier on the Chi Alpha staff and students as they carry, lug, and tote box after box up flights of stairs.

Welcome move in efforts on campus is an exciting, yet, rewarding activity, for new students and Chi Alpha. First, it is a great service to families moving their son or daughter to campus. Second, it’s a wonderful opportunity to connect with freshmen early in their orientation. Third, it’s a chance to extend friendship and service with a smile. Last, we do not underestimate the help Chi Alpha chapters offer parents and their children, because we recognize how stressful the packing process actually is: not just in terms of the contents, but the emotions connected to dropping off and leaving their kid(s).

Read 2 Timothy 1:3-18.

When the apostle Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy, his young leader-in-training, the older man was in prison facing eventual death for his faith. He challenged his young disciple to hold onto the faith he had learned from his mother and grandmother. And he reminded Timothy to “fan into flame the gift of God” and practice it (2 Timothy 1:5-6).

Think about it, your faith is like a legacy from your parents, a family member, and/or a significant church leader. All of us have someone who modeled, spoke about, taught, and encouraged us to know what we believe about Jesus and why we believe it.

Paul had several former disciples who abandoned their faith (Phygelus and Hermogenes, in 1:15), and many who were a blessing due to their character, perseverance, and service, like Timothy (Philippians 2:20-22), and Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 2:16).

Think theologically. When you prepare for college as a first semester freshman or soon-to-graduate-senior, I hope you do not forgot to bring your faith with you. Please do not leave it at home. Pack your copy of God’s Word, all the influence you have, and do not keep it to yourself. Share your faith with others. Do not leave home without it. Imitate who ever led you to Jesus. Feed your faith and live it out. You will be glad you did.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2016 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – August 1

Our pastor recently finished up a series on following Jesus. His last sermon came from Colossians 1:12-23, written by the apostle Paul in the first century. He used a passage in chapter one that covered part of Paul’s prayer of thanksgiving as well as his assertion of the sole supremacy of Christ as “the” God in a world of pretend gods. He highlighted words or phrases mentioned like kingdom of light, dominion of darkness, kingdom of His Son, forgiveness of sins, and supremacy.

Jesus was shown by Paul to be the one true King that alone can offer the forgiveness and wholeness each of us needs. He alone has the authority to offer us eternal life. He alone rose from the dead on the third day, authenticating His Lordship and claim to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Jesus fulfilled the Messianic prophecy that Isaiah described in chapter 52 and 53 of his writing. Jesus promised in Matthew 11:28-30 to be the One who anyone could come to if they were weary, beaten down, and needed rest.

Why would you not want to know and follow such a King?

Paul wrote to the Colossians to emphasize proper doctrine in chapters one and two, and appropriate application of said teachings in chapters three and four. Paul described Jesus’s character and glory by presenting Him as the image of the invisible God (chapter 1:15). Then he added Jesus is the fullness of deity in bodily form (2:9), the Creator of all things (1:16-17), the head of the church (1:18), and the source of our salvation (1:14, 20-22). Paul argued for men and women to be grounded in the complete sufficiency of Jesus as the only way to experience the wholeness and flourishing God intends for each of us.

As I heard my pastor declare the truths about Jesus from Paul’s writing in Colossians, I started jotting down some prayers and declarations from the passage. Some examples:

  1. Help me, Father, to be thankful to you for qualifying me to be in your Kingdom (v 12).
  2. Thank you for rescuing me from the dominion of darkness and bringing me into the Kingdom of the Son you love (v 13).
  3. I am grateful that I have been redeemed in Christ, and been forgiven of my sins, by putting my faith, hope, and trust in King Jesus (v 14).
  4. I pray that you will have preeminence in my life as the supreme One (v 18).
  5. Thanks for reconciling me to yourself, Father; May you make my faith strong, stable, and centered on the truth and hope of the gospel (v 22-23).

If you read this and are currently in the dominion of darkness, I have good news. Jesus knows and is the way out. Put your faith, hope, and trust in the One who purchased your forgiveness by His death on a cross.

If you read this and are in the kingdom of light, be grateful for your life and identity “in Christ.” Give thanks to God, walk in a way that honors Him as your King, and lean on His strength to bear fruit each and every day. Grow devotionally. Use the 5 prayers I wrote down in church as a start to write down more prayers and action steps from your study of Colossians. Why would you not want to know and follow such a King?

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2016 by Mike Olejarz

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