Monthly Archives: February 2017

Monday Motivator – February 27

Our daughter Sarah was in college and told me of a young lady she met in the dorm that was shy and reclusive. Sarah took an interest in her and discovered she had a very low self-concept. Sarah learned she had been told by her father on more than one occasion that she would never be like her older brother. Her dad is not a Christian, but he had effectively “discipled” his daughter to not believe in herself.

All of us have doubts about ourselves at times. We struggle with our past record of failure and achievement. We tend to be affected by the comments of family members, friends, employers, etc. For some, the negative record in our minds is still very loud.

Read Proverbs 23:7.

Jesus says we need to build our lives (i.e., actions and thoughts) on the strength, clarity, and power of the Word of God. Part of the healthy habits all followers of Jesus need to cultivate is to learn to win the battle of the mind. Romans 12:2 says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Philippians 4:8 says, “Whatever things are true, honest, just, pure, and lovely, think on such things.”

How can we deal with and overcome destructive thoughts?

  1. Step into a battle you expect to win. Read Psalm 121:3, James 4:7. The key to remember is fiery darts will always come, but in and through Jesus, we are victorious.
  1. Use your greatest weapon – the Word of God. Read Ephesians 6:10-18, and recognize the authority you have (v 17) as a child of God. Follow Jesus’ example when facing temptation, doubt, uncertainty, and quote and depend on the Word of God.
  1. Remove all provision for defeat. Read Romans 13:14, 1 Corinthians 15:33, and 1 Peter 2:11. If you make provision for the flesh, you give temptation an opportunity, you stir up unnecessary emotions, and they will eventually conquer your will.
  1. Learn to walk in the fear of God. Read Proverbs 5:21, 15:3, and 16:6. The respect and reverence of the Lord is a moment-by-moment awareness that God is watching and weighing your thoughts, attitudes, and actions.
  1. Make a covenant with your eyes. Read Job 31:1, then memorize Psalm 119:37.
  1. Resist the curiosity of sin. Read Romans 6:19-20. We do not learn the details of evil by participating in them, but by the discernment of the Spirit (1 John 4:1). We honor (and obey) Jesus by walking in the Spirit and not satisfying the lust of the flesh.
  1. Stay close to Calvary. Read Matthew 6:13, 26:41, 1 Corinthians 10:13. We often fail to obey Jesus by praying our way out of temptation and staying close to Him.

Walk wisely. Jesus showed us how to win the battle of our thought life by using the Word of God. Let us work daily to be a pure and holy people for the glory of God.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2017 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – February 20

I used to hate God and love sin. Due to a college student and fellow Ohio University baseball player named Smitty, the trajectory of my life was intercepted by the gospel of Jesus. I learned from Smitty, KZ, Denny, X, and others how to love God and hate sin.

Imagine you and some friends are out sailing or rafting one weekend in the late fall. The day started out sunny and clear, but stormy weather arrived later on. Without regard for the changing environment, you ignore pleas from some in the group to head back to land. Yet the wind picked up quickly, waves rise and crash, everyone is screaming, and suddenly all of you are thrown out of the boat into the water. It has gotten darker, and the sound of your voices was being drowned out by the wind and waves.

Fear creeps in as you (as the group leader) consider the difficult situation you and your friends find yourselves in. You notice your friends are slowly moving away from one another by the pull of the water. No one had put life jackets on even though the boat rental coordinator said it was company policy and the boat was similarly marked. You are trying to stay afloat but as time goes by, you are losing confidence in your rescue. Your energy is draining, the water temperature is dropping, and bodies are slowly freezing.

Hope for survival seems bleak, yet suddenly the bright lights of a boat appear. Hands reach down and begin to haul you and your friends up into their boat from the cold water. Others have blankets and hot coffee and cocoa for your group. Imagine the thoughts you and your friends have now: safe, sound, warm, alive, and still friends.

Read Ephesians 2:1-10.

Imagine the similarity between being saved from a possible death in water and being saved from a final and eternal death? In a movie spoof, people could be shown refusing being saved from drowning by saying, “No thanks, I would prefer to drop to the bottom of the lake to my eventual demise.” Their refusal to be pulled from the water would be outrageous.

But think about it. Some followers of Jesus who are saved from the reality, pain, and consequences of sin often jump right back into their old patterns. Incredibly, they revert back to their old, God-dishonoring ways. Would anyone intentionally leave their friends to drown while in dangerous water, if they could save them with their effort? Sadly, some Christians who are rescued from sin do leave their friends to die without Jesus.

The early Christians believed the message Jesus taught and brought was good news. They articulated that men and women were saved from their separation from God caused by sin by putting their faith, hope, and trust in Jesus. They are saved from the power of sin now and the presence of sin later by Christ’s promises that the Holy Spirit will empower us to live Christ-honoring lives on earth and we will receive a rich welcome in heaven.

Live communally. Which friends of yours are drowning in sin and need to be rescued? How will you mount an effort to help them? Imagine the gratitude you might receive if you extend yourself to help your friends be safe, sound, and right with God?

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2017 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – February 13

Learning to pray and actually doing it is a lifelong discipline. Dick Eastman has mentored me and many followers of Jesus in prayer. One of his helpful resources is called “How to Spend an Hour in Prayer.” One hour can be divided up into twelve five-minute points of focus. Some will only take one minute while some may take more than five minutes.

1. Praise. All prayer should begin with recognition of God’s nature. Praise is that aspect of prayer, which vocally esteems God for his virtues and accomplishments. Psalm 63:3; Matthew 6:9-13

2. Waiting. Time should be given to being quiet in God’s presence. This is not meditation or just a time for listening; it is simply taking time to let God love you. Psalm 37:7; Isaiah 40:31; Lamentations 3:25-26

3. Confession. Sin can be one of the biggest roadblocks to answered prayer. Early in prayer we need to make time for confession. This clears the way for powerful praying. Psalm 139:23-24; Psalm 51;

4. The Word. When we bring God’s word into our prayer we are opening our eyes to new possibilities in God. At this point in prayer, read God’s Word. 2 Timothy 3:16; Psalm 19:7-8

5. Intercession. Our prayers now center on intercession for a lost and dying world. This concerns praying for others who have desperate needs. 1 Timothy 2:1-2; Psalm 2:8; Matthew 9:37-38

6. Petition. This aspect of prayer concerns our personal needs. To petition God is to open our need to God through prayer. Matthew 7:7-8; Matthew 6:11; James 4:2

7. The Word. Earlier we suggested you read God’s word. Now, pray God’s word. Here we bring actual scripture into our prayers. We can never pray out of God’s will when we pray God’s word. Jeremiah 23:29; 2 Samuel 22:31; Numbers 23:19

8. Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving differs from praise in that praise recognizes God for who he is and thanksgiving recognizes God for what he has done. Philippians 4:26; Psalm 100:4

9. Singing. Melody in its truest sense is a gift from God for the purpose of singing praises to him. Let your songs come straight from the heart with the Holy Spirit creating the melody. To sing unto God is to worship him in melody. Psalm 100:2; Ephesians 5:19; Psalm 114:9

10. Meditation. In meditation, the mind is very active. It is to ponder spiritual themes in reference to God. Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:1-2; Psalm 77:12

11. Listening. Whether through his written word or the ‘still small voice’ of the spirit God speaks to praying Christians. But we must take the time to listen. Ecclesiastes 5:2; I Kings 19:11-12

12. Praise. We begin our prayer by recognizing God’s nature and we end in a similar fashion. “For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.” Matthew 6:13; Psalm 100:4; Psalm 150

I have often re-framed Dick Eastman’s outline, “How to spend 12 minutes in prayer” by helping new believers in Christ start with a smaller time frame of one minute for each of the twelve components.  All of us need help in developing our spiritual muscles.

Think theologically. As Dick Eastman has taught for decades, developing a consistent prayer habit will lead us into a ministry that changes each of us and the world around us.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2017 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – February 6

Fasting from food is one of the classical disciplines followers of Jesus have practiced for centuries. It is an act of devotion to the Lord. Be careful how you talk about your fast, how long you have fasted, or even the “feel” or “experience” you may have enjoyed or wrestled with during the fast. Jesus said fasting is best done “in secret” where the Father can connect with us.

Read Matthew 6:16-18.

The “why” of fasting can be summed up by Jesus: “When you fast…” Jesus seems to imply it is an expectation of those in His Kingdom.

The purpose of fasting in Scripture is encouraging: For personal holiness (Psalm 69:10); To be heard on high (Ezra 8:23); To change God’s mind (Jonah 3:5, 10); To free the captives (Isaiah 58:6); For revelation (Daniel 9:2, 3, 21, 22), and to buffet the body (1 Corinthians 9:27).

There are several types of fasting for you to consider: The normal fast is done by drinking water only; The absolute fast is done without food or water, and is done for no more than three days; The partial fast has many variations – liquids only, certain types of foods, or certain meals; another type of fast concerns the length of it. Scripture reveals some who fasted 40 days.

When you fast, it is important to start off slow, maybe with a partial fast by skipping a meal and using the time for reading and reflecting on Scripture, worship, and prayer. Next time you might skip two meals in a day, then three on another day, drinking only water. A variation could be to fast breakfast and lunch, drinking water and or juice, and then a light dinner. When you are able to do this without feeling faint or famished (because you will feel hungry), you will be ready to ask the Lord about moving towards a longer fast of three, five, or even seven days.

To prepare for a longer fast, be sure not to indulge yourself with heavy meals like you are storing up food for a period of hibernation. You can slowly taper off your food intake the week prior to beginning your fast, even transitioning to fresh fruit the last day or so before the fast begins. It is also wise to recognize the need to slow down and cease your coffee intake a few days before your fast begins to help your body acclimate to the caffeine withdrawal (and possible headache).

During your normal fast, plan to drink a lot of water (4-8 glasses per day, but not ice cold water). Shower or bathe daily. Practice deep breathing, exhaling as fully as possible. Avoid strenuous exercise, but walking is fine. Of course, monitor your body as it adjusts to the lower food intake, so you are aware of but not caught off guard by the potential for bodily weakness.

A few ideas for breaking the fast: Watch your quantity of food intake and slowly resume your regular eating habits. Avoid sweets like candy and cakes the first week. Eat slowly. Stop at the sign of fullness. Slowly resume your workout routine. Do not try and do too much too soon. If there is any concern about your reaction to fasting, please consult your doctor beforehand.

Grow devotionally. Read Scripture for fasting examples, i.e., Nehemiah 1:4, 8, Esther 4:16, Isaiah 58: 6-9, Matthew 4:2 and 9:15, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. Ask someone who has fasted to walk you through the first steps of preparing to fast, executing the fast, and breaking the fast. “When you fast,” remember you are learning to love God through this ancient spiritual discipline.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2017 by Mike Olejarz

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