Monthly Archives: January 2017

Monday Motivator – January 30

Our reason for being is tied to holy Scripture. Our name, Chi Alpha Campus Ministries, was derived from the second letter of the apostle Paul to the Corinthians, chapter five, verse 20. In it, Paul stated that followers of Jesus were Christ’s sent ones, or His ambassadors. “Chi Alpha” has its origin in those ideas. We are, as the original Greek language of the New Testament attests, His ambassadors, or sent ones…as though God were making His appeal through us.

Read 2 Corinthians 5:11-6:2.

Therefore, our mission statement declares that we exist to, “reconcile students to Jesus Christ, transforming the university, the marketplace, and the world.” Chi Alpha staff work to help students become Christ-honoring followers and pass on the life and teachings of Jesus to others. Our efforts are focused not only while they are on campus, but aimed at preparing them for post-college life and service in the marketplace as well as in their relationships.

One of my tasks as a campus missionary has been to highlight Scriptural and historical figures to illustrate and demonstrate being “sent ones” in real time. I have used the stories of Biblical people like Joseph, Esther, Daniel, Mary, Barnabus, and the little boy who allowed Jesus to use his lunch to feed thousands, as well as figures like George Washington Carver, William Borden, Amy Carmichael, and Martin Luther King, Jr., to show lives lived well. My hope is every student has someone to follow that is worth following in their quest to become more like Jesus. I purposefully chose Christians from different eras worthy of our examination and consideration of why and how they loved and served Jesus and sought to extend His kingdom.

New York Times best-selling author, Eric Metaxas, has written two books I like to recommend. He wrote “7 Men and The Secret of Their Greatness” in 2013, and “7 Women and The Secret of Their Greatness” in 2015. Both books answer the question, “what makes a man or woman great?” Both explore the question by telling the captivating stories of seven men and seven women who changed the course of history.

The 7 men are: George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, Pope John Paul II, and Charles Colson. The 7 women are: Joan of Arc, Susanna Wesley, Saint Maria of Paris, Hannah More, Corrie ten Boom, Rosa Parks, and Mother Teresa.

As the book jackets explain, writing in his trademark conversational and engaging style, Eric Metaxas reveals how these extraordinary men and women profiled here achieved their greatness, captivated his imagination that led to these books, and inspire readers to lives guided by a call beyond themselves.

I grew up with heroes and role models and believe they are extremely valuable for society. I also recognize the last few decades have dampened, even deadened the idea of the heroic, with very troubling results. Eric Metaxas says it’s time to reverse the trend.

Serve globally. We need to read Scripture and emulate the kinds of men and women we encounter there in our journey to become like King Jesus. But we also need to realize certain lives are also worth our consideration because they too are Christ’s ambassadors, His sent ones. Get to know these seven men and women, and your life will be immeasurably richer.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2017 by Mike Olejarz

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Monday Motivator – January 23

One of my favorite books is Failing Forward by John Maxwell, one of my mentors. John is a New York Times bestselling author who, as the book cover attests, addresses everyone’s greatest need in this volume. The book’s subtitle is “turning mistakes into stepping stones for success.”

Over and over again, John makes the case that the difference between average people and achieving people is their perspective of and response to failure. The sixteen chapters are grouped in four segments covering topics concerning 1) redefining success and failure, 2) do you mind changing your mind? 3) embracing failure as a friend, and 4) increasing your odds for success.

The reality is that we all make mistakes. I learned that the mistakes I make are not really what counts. The key is what we learn from them. Here are five mistakes that I have benefitted from.

First is believing good looks and popularity equates with happiness. Joni Eareckson had everything seemingly in perfect order: she was attractive, made good grades, had a good job, and a boyfriend. She was then hurt in a swimming accident that resulted in a broken neck and being confined to a wheelchair. She grew bitter against God for allowing it to happen. Many of her friends abandoned her when she needed them most. Yet in time she was able to find joy and contentment in knowing and serving God through painting and drawing. The truth of Proverbs 3:5-6 emerged as the bitterness withered and the love of God flowed in as she dealt with the tragedy with the help of God and others.

Second is thinking your future is light years away. James 4:14 says our lives are like a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow. I’ve talked to a lot of college students who told me they would get right with God after they graduated, got older, settled down, and they have job and financial security. We often talk about the future while the present slips away.

Third is falling into the sex trap. Many say God is number one in their lives, that they go to church, pray, read their Bible, give of their resources, and even have s stand on sex. Yet it is so easy to compromise our stand for a little self-indulgence now and then. How ironic it is to assume we can fool God while we satisfy our own fleshly desires. We say it is “our” body, we know what is best, and we can do whatever we want with it. Learn from Joseph in Genesis 39 how to flee from temptation and from Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 how to honor God with your body. God’s forgiveness is always accessible and addresses our guilt and shame, but it doesn’t always erase the consequences of our choices (see King David in 2nd Samuel 11 and 12).

Fourth is letting peer pressure control you. I remember a college friend who wanted to be a “regular guy.” He succumbed to smoking, drinking, and partying. His grades floundered, he got bounced out of school, and he died at an early age due to his lifestyle choices. Sadly, he never came to his senses, listened to his parents cries to get “cleaned up” and ignored the truth of Romans 12:2. When I think of peer pressure and its’ effects, this story angers me.

Fifth is neglecting God. I believe that his resurrection from the dead gives Jesus the most authority and credibility to speak into and shape my life. Colossians 2:6-7 takes on meaning for me as I seek to know God, honor Him in my life and marriage, and make Him known.

Walk wisely. What you feed grows. Learn to lead yourself well and profit from your mistakes.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2017 by Mike Olejarz

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Monday Motivator – January 16

I have benefitted from loving parents who created a safe and affirming family for me to grow up in. I never felt pressure to perform to gain their love and favor. I always felt accepted, affirmed, and appreciated by my parents. I have also enjoyed positive mentoring from sports coaches who helped me set and attain goals (in a team environment), and gave me helpful feedback for my encouragement and enrichment, not to mention, personal and team accomplishment.

How are you doing in accepting, affirming, and appreciating others?

In the musical story of The Man From LaMancha, we encounter an aging man named Don Quixote (pronounced “key-ho-tay”). Those around him think him to be quite odd. He has decided to go on a grand expedition. He views himself as a royal knight out to do right and justice in the world. Despite the fact that the age of knights has long since passed.

He comes upon a stubby and chubby man named Sancho. He asks Sancho to travel with him and become his royal attendant, his squire. Sancho, realizing himself to be just a common servant, is intrigued by Quixote and figures he has nothing to lose, so he joins him on his travels.

They come to a rustic inn. The innkeeper goes out to meet this comical looking pair and Quixote asks permission to come and lodge with him in his “great manor.” The innkeeper is willing to take payment from anyone, even from odd people like these two.

In the Inn is a servant girl. But she does more than just serve the meals…she also provides late night entertainment for many of the male guests. In the musical, Don Quixote sings a song to her changing her name from “Aldonza”, the kitchen wench, to “Dulcinea,” the pure chaste woman of any good man’s dreams. She calls him crazy, for surely he doesn’t know who she is, and what she does. Google the songs from The Man from Lamancha entitled, Aldonza, and Dulcinea.

At the end of the story, Don Quixote has been hit on the head and is on his death bed. He is also coming back to his senses. Probably one of the most moving moments occurs around his bed. Sancho, the innkeeper, and Aldonza come to mourn his worsening condition, and as they do they beg him not to change.

For Don Quixote had touched their lives with the power of affirmation, and in doing so had released them from their meager lives and called them higher to what they wished they could become. Somehow this odd old man had touched the deepest aspirations of everyone he met, and they loved him for it.

Scripture has a lot to day about how God sees each of us. For example, Psalm 145:8 says He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. Verse 13b says He is faithful to all of His promises and loving toward all he has made. Scripture also gives direction for each of us as to how we are supposed to treat one another. For example: Hebrews 3:13 says we should encourage one another daily, so the deceitfulness of sin does not harden our hearts.

When we see a person as Jesus sees them, and we accept, affirm, and appreciate them, truthfully, a new being can begin to emerge by the transforming power of Jesus. Live communally. Everyone does better when you give them the triple “A” treatment. Be a Don Quixote.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2017 by Mike Olejarz

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Monday Motivator – January 9

We all make mistakes. They are a part of everyone’s life. Even the best of us fail more than we would like to admit, and we cringe at making the same mistakes over and over. Yet the mistakes are not really what counts, but what we learn from them. Here are some common ones I have had to face and deal with, and a suggested step forward.

First is being content with surface relationships. A pool playing friend once showed me how many friendships are like billiard balls. We never really connect in any substantive manner, but continue to bounce off of one another. “How is it going?” (Bump). “Fine.” (Bump). “What’s new?” (Bump). “Not much.” (Bump). Romans 12:9 says, “Do not pretend to love others. Really do it.” Go beyond surface conversation and practice being authentic and transparent with someone.

Second is believing one failure means you are a total failure. I was a top baseball hitter in college, averaging .344 over four seasons. But in reality, I still failed to get a hit 7 out of 10 times. Learning anything takes time, so do not get discouraged if you do not do something well the first or second time around. If you do fail, it may mean you do not have the talent needed in the specific area, or you just need more repetition. Keep in mind that if you had not tried and risked failure, you would not have known your limitations or capabilities. Romans 12:3-6 says to “Be honest in your estimate of yourselves…for we each have different work to do…God has given each of us the ability to do something or certain things well.”

Third is letting loneliness overwhelm you. I remember a few times in college when I thought I had the disease of loneliness. I was not ugly, but convinced myself no one wanted to spend time with me. No one seemed to invite me to hang out on Friday night after classes, and that made me feel more lonely. I eventually got tired of staying in my dorm room, and strayed down to one of the activity rooms in the lobby. I took interest in students playing ping-pong and my initiative was rewarded. I got so busy being interested in someone else and serving them that I forgot about being lonely. Strange, huh? Luke 6:31, 38 says to “Treat others as you want them to treat you. For if you give, you will get.”

Fourth is loving for the wrong reasons. It was easy to fall in love with Diane. She was attractive, fun to be around, made me laugh, and took an interest in me. But our friendship got too physical too fast, and I was uncomfortable with the attention and feelings of guilt.

When Scripture speaks of committed love, it is hard and conditional. Expressions of physical love are to be expressed solely in a marriage commitment. Was I going to live to please God? 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 gave me perspective and courage to put a stop to an improper practice.

Fifth is blaming others for our mistakes. It is hard to accept responsibility for ourselves, whether it be our unhappiness, mistakes, sins, or general failures. Grow up and be an adult. Part of that process is refusing to blame stuff on others and own up to the situation, address it, and move on. Proverbs 28:13 says a “man (or woman) who refuses to admit their mistakes can never be successful. But if he (she) confesses and forsakes them, they get another chance.”

Think theologically. We are all fallible human beings. Let’s profit from our mistakes (common or not), and learn to fail forward. Get some godly perspective and continue to grow to maturity.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2017 by Mike Olejarz

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Monday Motivator – January 2

I have always been challenged by Jesus’ words to his disciples that if they did not recognize who He was (is), and respond accordingly with worship, the rocks would cry out in adoration of the Creator of all.

Read Luke 19:40.

Therefore, in order to not allow the rocks to get in our way, here are some different ways to participate in worship that Scripture reveals. With one might you choose to grow in?

  1. Speaking God’s praise aloud – Psalm 71:8
  2. Singing – Psalm 69:30-31, Psalm 98:1, Acts 16:25, Ephesians 5:19
  3. Shouting – Psalm 47:1, Psalm 98:4
  4. Laughter – Psalm 126:1-3
  5. Prayers – 1 Timothy 2:1-2
  6. Silence – Psalm 46:10, Habakkuk 2:20
  7. Lifting of Hands – Psalm 28:2, Psalm 63:4, Psalm 134:1-2, Luke 24:50-51, 1 Timothy 2:8
  8. Standing – 1 Chronicles 23:30
  9. Bowing or kneeling – Psalm 95:6, Daniel 6:10
  10. Falling prostrate – Deuteronomy 9:18, Revelation 4:9-10, and 5:8
  11. Reading of Scripture – 1 Timothy 4:13-14
  12. Clapping – Psalm 47:1
  13. Dancing or leaping – 2 Samuel 6:16, Psalm 30:11, Acts 3:7-8
  14. Making an affirmation of faith – 1 Corinthians 15:3-5
  15. Baptism – Matthew 28:19
  16. Communion – Luke 22:14-21
  17. Giving of offerings – Philippians 4:14-19
  18. Using instruments – Psalm 149:3, Psalm 150
  19. Spiritual gifts, signs and wonders – Acts 2:43, 1 Corinthians 12 and 14
  20. Tears – Luke 7:38,44
  21. The amen – making a commitment to have this established in my life – Nehemiah 8:6, Revelation 7:12.

Many of us attend gatherings of Christ-followers from Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox backgrounds where we are used to a particular style of worship. It is important to affirm and support all church traditions which are consistent with Scripture. We also receive reason and intellectual ability as God’s gifts, and which are critical to the development of a Biblical worldview. Ultimately, the purpose of a Biblical faith is to experience God.

Therefore, a vibrant Christianity starts with “prima Scriptura,” or Scripture first. That means we approach the Bible on its own terms. We regard and affirm the 66 books of the Bible as the inspired and sufficient written word of God for our study and practice.

Our foundation for why, how, and when we worship has to originate in Scripture. Let’s allow Scripture to inform, inspire, shape, and deepen our discipline of worship of Jesus, our King.

Grow devotionally. Let Scripture, not tradition, reason, or experience, broaden your worship.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2017 by Mike Olejarz

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized