Monthly Archives: October 2016

Monday Motivator – October 31

We have all seen commercials or heard or read stories of someone who set a goal for themselves that they didn’t think they could reach, until a sibling, parent, or friend stepped up and volunteered to go along for the marathon run to fight cancer, shave your head for another cause, or go without something to benefit the less fortunate.

Picture someone trying to lose weight and they decide to reduce the amount of sugar they take in. Joe says he will not drink any soft drinks for the whole semester. No caffeine, no carbonation, no Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, etc.

Then the guys in Joe’s Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship sponsored small group decide to rally around Joe in his endeavor. They want to support and help Joe reach his goal, knowing how hard it can be to lose weight. So the seven guys determine that avoiding all the sugar in soft drinks and some not-as-necessary carbohydrates in pizza, chips, and so on would be good for them as well. So eight guys were now on a reduce-my-sugar (and carbs) intake.

But even though some other students reacted and said, “Whoever heard of pizza and…water, not even lemonade?” Or no pizza, but more chicken, fish, fresh fruit, and vegetables? Mothers everywhere were cheering, but ironically, other students heard about the small group of eight’s pledge of partnership and decided to join the cause.

Family members of Joe and the seven guys heard of the effort and decided to join the “no sugar” journey, even from hundreds of miles from campus. A little over two dozen men and women supported Joe, so he could reach his goal and drop a few pounds.

Read Romans 15:1-7.

What a great example of the kind of supportive, unselfish love we need to show each other – in our families, the body of Christ, and those around us outside of faith. How much easier it is to live a Christ-honoring life if we have another friend or two willing to make the same sort of effort we do. That’s why two or three are often better than one.

How could a buddy system help you right now? What are you struggling with that would be easier if another friend would offer to “tackle it” together? Or who needs your help this week? Who could benefit from your support and/or accountability? What are some scenarios where someone could make progress if you supported them in their decision making? Or conflict resolution? Or dream following?

Imagine if someone said to Joe, “C’mon, Joe, losing a few lbs is not that tough! A Pepsi now and then can’t hurt. It seems stupid to me to swear off soft drinks for the whole semester. You’re making too much out of this sugar-reduction thing.” Or what if someone said to a Christian, “C’mon, get real. Who cares if the movie is rated R. What can a little gratuitous language and violence matter? Or, what are you, a nun? Who says you have to stay sexually pure?”

Don’t do that to your friends. Come alongside them in support. Tell them you will help them keep their standards high, by joining them in their quest to live life well. Together, you will find it easier to live a Christ-pleasing life. Walk wisely. True friendship can help you stay on course.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2016 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – October 24

One of my favorite black and white movies is The Birds by Alfred Hitchcock. It is a 1963 American horror film that focuses on a series of sudden and unexplained violent bird attacks on the people of Bodega Bay, California over a few days.

Aggressive and eerily coordinated varieties of birds harass, intimidate, even kill people in this seaside town that distracts, debilitates, and destroy men, women, and property.

The birds have literally taken over the town. Birds are everywhere. Droppings would naturally dot the landscape, buildings, and cars. Flapping wings and screeching startle the townsfolk, and hundreds (even thousands) of birds congregating on wires, poles, clotheslines caused quite a scene. You could feel the chilling effect of raw fear as differing numbers of birds literally provoked and attacked people. It got to the point where men and women were afraid to go outside. With all the chirping and chattering, the activity of the town ground to a halt.

Hitchcock’s movie was a nail-biter the first time I saw it. But consider the reality of such an occurrence. We all have to deal with distractions, even fear at times. Like swooping sparrows, things in life can cause us to take our eyes off of the Lord Jesus and attempt to hinder and block our spiritual journey and health.

What are some possible distractions? How are they affecting your relationship with God?

Activities: If you are involved with too much stuff, you may get loaded down. One student told me he had to “fast” from Facebook and other social media each week, because it caused him too much frustration and sideways energy.

People: Besides classes and homework, too much engagement with people via email, text, phone, and “screen-time” may reduce the silence and solitude you need to re-charge.

Unfinished business: If you don’t keep up with homework and live out your daily/weekly priorities, it will come back to bite you in the backside (or flap in your face as an irritant).

Entertainment: I’ve seen students get mesmerized by their X-boxes, fantasy football leagues, binge-watching of a Netflix show, concert attendance, and TV shows, and they lost control of their lives and even health. They got addicted and it was hard to break it off to mere occasional enjoyment and a break from their normal stresses. They were trapped and some even in bondage.

Read Luke 10:38-42.

Jesus encountered two sisters one day, one of whom, Martha, was distracted by all of her hostess duties. Jesus looked at her and said to learn from her sister, Mary, who had chosen to take a few moments to sit and learn from Him. He said Martha was concerned about many things, but simply needed to learn from her sister Mary that only one thing was needed, to fix her eyes on Him (v 41-42). Likewise, all of us need to give time and attention to listen to Jesus.

Live communally. If you are distracted by flapping noise, ask another Christ follower to help you draw close to King Jesus. Don’t allow distractions to deter you from growing in Christ.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2016 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – October 17

How have you wrongly viewed God and His attributes?

I always struggled with using the word, “awesome” in day to day activities. It seemed to be a word that should be restricted to something bigger than a well-pitched baseball game, a concert performance, a feel-good movie, a new piece of clothing, or a tech gadget.

I have recognized that a lot of my actions are foolish at times, frivolous even, and often reckless. My intent is taking care of my needs, wants, and desires, and that is the epitome of being self-centered.

Days of my life flow by and I get lost in my own head, forgetting what, or more importantly, who my anchor really is. I try to regroup from leaning on my own understanding, and remember to put my hope in the One who is able to lead and guide me.

As I wrestle with day by day choices that war against my soul, I remain vigilant and violently committed to sowing to the Spirit as the writer of Romans 8 intends for followers of Jesus. I remember that I was bought with a price, even when I was dead in sin, and I decided to no longer refuse God’s hand of salvation, and daily promise of Spirit empowerment.

I was taught by my parents to “never get too big for my britches,” or think more highly of myself, and become big in my own eyes. Sadly, I have witnessed others who thought themselves great and they ultimately stumbled beneath the weight of excessive pride.

I try to live and choose to do what is meaningful, not meaningless. Since meeting Jesus, my desires have changed from doing what I want to listening to what He says is best, then doing it with His assistance. I learned from early faith struggles that without God’s will in view, I will falter and be off of His flourishing design for me.

Read 1 Timothy 1:12-17.

Verse 17 is one of my favorite passages of Scripture that I committed to memory and song. “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever, Amen.”

I have tried to reserve the word, “awesome” for God alone. Because:

I am not eternal, only God is.

I am not immortal, only God is.

I am not sovereign, only God is.

I am not omniscient, only God is.

I am not omnipotent, only God is.

I am not immutable, only God is.

I am not worthy of praise, only God is.

I am not the center of the universe, only God is.

Think theologically. Only God is God. What is one characteristic of God you will reflect on?

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2016 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – October 10

Jesus called us to be his disciples (or informed learners). This is an action word that speaks of the practice of learning from Jesus’ teachings and example and then applying them to our life. As Lord of our lives, Jesus expects us to take his guidance seriously. In order to do that, we must read, study, and understand what He taught that was later captured in the Bible.

I learned a helpful tool (called the Hand) for approaching scripture from the Navigator’s, a national campus ministry with a similar mission and vision like Chi Alpha Campus Ministries.

The Hand illustrates five ways that we can get a grasp of the Word of God. Each one of them is important and vital to our growth in Christ. How is your Bible intake? What is your strategy to develop a healthy and balanced input and usage of Scripture? How can we assist students to create and strengthen holy habits for handling Scripture in a responsible manner?

Here are five ways using the five fingers of a hand, moving from the pinky finger to the thumb.

Hearing (Romans 10:17). God has called leaders to preach and teach the Bible to us. Each of us needs the instruction and encouragement of hearing the Word of God taught on a regular basis.

Reading (Revelation 1:3). In order to gain an understanding of God’s work and plan from beginning to end we must read the Bible. The whole Bible can be read in as little as 80 hours by the average reader. Reading the Bible gives us breadth.

Studying (Acts 17:11). Studying the Word gives us insight into the meaning of God’s message to us. Studying the Word gives us depth.

Memorizing (Psalm 119:9,11). Choosing select passages and memorizing the Word is valuable both for our own personal growth but also for ministry to others. We can share the gospel message with those who don’t know Christ and share the Word with fellow believers.

Meditation (Psalm 1:2-3). Meditation on God’s Word is the thumb of the Hand. The thumb is able to touch each of the fingers. Likewise we can meditate on the Word as we hear it taught, read through it, study it and memorize it. Meditation is considering the implications of God’s Word for our own lives. It is reflection on the Word for the purpose of personal application.

Application – Healthy and consistent habits lead to an obedient lifestyle. This step corresponds to the wrist in the Hand illustration.

I have found the hand illustration a helpful tool for visualizing some basic approaches to spiritual practices necessary for growth. Each of the five components of the hand illustration are practices you grow into through practice and guidance.

After explaining the hand illustration, I expect that students will put these principles into practice in their daily life. A central concept of discipleship is being able to pass off what you have learned to someone else as a transferable concept. The hand illustration is a valuable tool to handle Scripture and help you to learn how to teach someone else how to do the same. Grow devotionally. As you utilize the five fingers, you will get a better grasp of Scripture.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2016 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – October 3

When have you had a chance to stand up for Jesus? What did you do?

I have watched college students for decades determine that they would live according to the teachings of Jesus. Despite the incessant messages of popular culture that you should do “whatever feels good” or “what makes you happy,” many decide that the ways of Jesus are safer, wiser, and ultimately healthier. Even though friends shrink back when told you won’t violate your values anymore, and they roll their eyebrows when you tell them it’s because Jesus has a better way for you, you stand your ground.

Want some examples of college students in Chi Alpha standing up for Jesus?

  1. Students put their faith, hope, and trust in Jesus for life’s greatest adventure.
  2. Students wait until marriage to have sex. Many told me they did not regret waiting.
  3. Students live out their faith on campus by doing their best in their academic area of study. They even take their professors out for coffee to learn of their spiritual journey.
  4. Students see living in the dorms (or a Greek house) as a chance to be a witness for Christ. They are intentional in living close to those far from God.
  5. Students address their sexual brokenness and find new hope, life, and strength in Jesus to move toward wholeness.
  6. Students reach out to their friends with news about the greatest book, story, and person of all time. They do not cower in fear of what others think of them.
  7. Students challenge the loose ethics and practices they witness at college and challenge the process by speaking up.
  8. Students live out Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship’s values of “every student prays, gives, goes, and welcomes.”
  9. Students volunteer to “give a year” of charitable and/or missional service after graduation for the extension of God’s Kingdom.
  10. Students practice biblical stewardship by tithing 10% of their gross earnings each month, saving 10%, and giving away 10%, all the while trusting the Lord for their provision and cultivating gratefulness for the daily blessings of our heavenly Father.

Read Titus 3:1-11.

We all recognize how hard it can be at times to “be ready to do whatever is good” (Titus 3:1). We see someone doing something that is dishonoring to the Lord, even harmful to them. We think, “I should say something to him or her,” but we rationalize away the opportunity, chicken out, and back away. We worry too much about what the person (or his or her friends) may think, and not so much about what the Lord thinks.

Students in Chi Alpha are not perfect, but they are trying to live out the teachings of Jesus. Even when they blow it, they remember God still loves them and offers forgiveness (1 John 1:9). They recognize God is patient and works to help them become more Christ-like even as they encourage other students to follow Jesus too.

Serve globally. When it is time to stand up for Jesus, Chi Alpha students don’t just sit there, but they are Spirit empowered to make a difference in their area of influence.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2016 by Mike Olejarz

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