Monthly Archives: April 2017

Monday Motivator – April 24

I enjoy the season of Lent leading up to Easter, because stories of Jesus encountering men and women in the New Testament Gospels call me to a deeper faith and conversion.

John’s accounts of three people meeting Jesus have again grabbed my attention: the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, the man born blind in John 9, and the raising of Lazarus in John 11. I have found that these stories enrich my understanding and experience of conversion as a follower of Jesus. Let’s take a look at them in the order John compiled them.

Read John 4:1-26.

As the Lord encounters the Samaritan woman at the well, she tries to deceive him, saying she has no husband. Not surprisingly, Jesus sees through her attempt to trick him, letting her know that in fact that she has had five husbands and the man she is now living with is her sixth. How would you feel after being exposed?

All of us, at some time or another, try to hide our sinfulness from God. Yet He alone can see through our self-deception, even as He did with the Samaritan woman. I still find myself pondering this question decades after I started to follow Jesus: What do I need to let the Lord see about my own sinfulness so that healing, comfort, and His living water can once again quench and satisfy my deepest thirsts?

Read John 9:1-41.

When Jesus healed the man who had been born blind, the Pharisees refuse to believe the man’s story about the healing. They confront and badger him and his parents, seemingly ignoring the reality of the healing. Eventually, the conversation leads to the man asking the Pharisees if they too want to be Jesus’ disciples. Sadly, they do not see the light (or irony) of the man’s question.

Stubbornly the religious leaders throw the man out of the synagogue. I am glad he could see to grab onto something as he fell to break his fall. The man then gets up and wanders about and again encounters Jesus, whom he has not seen since being healed. Once he discovers it is Jesus, the blind man bows down in worship. A second question I ponder often: In what ways do I need to be able to see more clearly the ways I am blind to the goodness of God?

Read John 11:1-44.

The last account I am reflecting on involves the time Jesus raised Lazarus – who had been in a tomb for four days – from the dead. The climax of the story happens when Jesus tells those standing by the tomb to unbind and unwrap Lazarus from the 70+ pounds of burial cloths and let him go free. The faith shown by Lazarus’s sisters, Martha and Mary, is a testimony to their trust in Jesus. While they grieved over their brother’s death, they still put their faith in the fact they would see him at the resurrection on the last days. What a surprise that Jesus gave them their brother back ahead of schedule. A final few questions for our consideration: In what ways does my faith need to be strengthened, especially in the face of difficulties in my life? How can I rely on others to help me shed any “burial cloths” that I need to be set free from, in order to be healed and do the things God wants me to do in my family, in school, and at work?

Think theologically. Jesus is the risen Lord even today. Allow these three stories of faith and conversion to bring us closer to the One who gives us living water, light, and new life.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2017 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – April 17

One of my current responses to people who ask me how I am doing is, “I am grateful.” I try to avoid saying, “fine” or “okay.”

How do you practice being grateful?

A friend of mine sent me a quote from Thomas Merton, one of his favorite authors. “To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.”

One of my practices is to try and recognize the goodness of the Lord when I see it in my daily experience. I sat in a chair on my front porch last week and noticed a red robin that flew into the tree in my front yard. I watched the kindness and creativity of an elementary school crossing guard from my vehicle as she helped children get to their school. My wife and I caught a glimpse of a beautiful rainbow after a recent thunderstorm.

The writers of the Old Testament were constantly encouraging the people of God to keep track of God’s activities in their lives. Words or phrases like “write it down” or “remember” were used often. Throughout the Old Testament we have passages of Scripture that describe what God had done for the Israelites because many did write it down.

Several friends of mine have been practitioners of the discipline of journaling on a consistent manner. One has said they have kept a journal since middle school when their parents gave them a blank book on their birthday. They suggested that he use the book to record events, feelings, achievements, failures, joys and disappointments. When my friend’s faith journey got more on track in high school, he started recording the work of the Lord in his life.

While I have forgotten many things, my friends who journal have a mechanism to remember.

Read 1 Chronicles 16:8-36.

Use this passage as a practice opportunity to journal about the wonderful acts, wonders, marvelous deeds, and reflections of God’s character that come to mind. Spend time thanking God for what you learned about Him, and/or what the passage brought to your mind. Then consider writing your own psalm of thanks to God based on your experiences of Him. Read it out loud as praise to God as a new practice of gratefulness.

Grow devotionally. Cultivate the attitude of being grateful on a regular basis. Like the apostle Paul told the Christians in Colosse in the first century, “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:16-17.

Keeping a journal helps us remember God’s activity in our lives. Why not try it for thirty days?

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2017 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – April 10

How do you pray for a college campus you are a student at? Or if you live near a university, how can you pray for God’s Kingdom to come into fruition there? We learn from Jesus that prayer is intimacy with the Father, and that His Kingdom is like a mustard seed which starts out small but grows in its influence.

Use these twenty verses for a campus you are concerned about, as well as inform your family, friends, and ministry partners how to join you in prayer using God’s Word. You can use these verses in your own prayer time, in a small group gathering, in a church meeting, or even on a campus prayer walk:

  1. God would be glorified on campuses! Psalm 67:1-2 
  2. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done. Luke 11:2 
  3. Open doors for the message, and clear preaching. Colossians 4:3-4
  4. Pray for everyone on campus to put their faith, hope, and trust in Jesus, and for those in authority. 1 Timothy 2:1-2
  5. For great conviction of sin and then a need for God. John 16:8
  1. Ask for part & full-time workers, and lots of student leaders. Matthew 9:38
  2. Ask for part & full-time workers, and lots of student leader. Acts 8:26-39
  3. For the evil one’s power to be bound & restricted on campus. 2 Corinthians 4:4
  4. For the power of the Holy Spirit to come upon us as witnesses. Acts 1:8
  5. For signs & wonders to follow the preaching of God’s Word. Mark 16:15-18
  1. For student-led prayer movements to be birthed throughout the world. Isaiah 62:6-7
  2. For unity among the believers of Jesus on campus. John 17:20-21
  3. For the financial & material resources necessary for staff, community building, outreach, and justice/mission ministry. Ecclesiastes 2:26
  4. That the Great Commission of Jesus would be the top priority among Christian students on campus, and as they make personal & career choices. Matthew 28:18-20
  5. That thousands (millions?) of students would become followers and disciplemakers of Jesus. 2 Peter 3:9                 
  1. That believers would reflect the godly character of Jesus on campus. Colossians 1:9-13
  2. That Chi Alpha staff would teach students how to handle the Word of God. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
  3. For college students to be willing to be a disciple and make disciples. 2 Timothy 2:2
  4. For the strengthening of our campus ministry staff. Ephesians 1:15-23
  5. That the kingdoms of the university (i.e., classes, dorms, athletics, fraternity & sorority, international students, grad students, faculty, etc.) would become the kingdom of our Lord Jesus! Revelation 11:15       

Scripture gives us plenty of examples of how the followers of God believed His Word, and sought to pray it and practice it in their daily loves. We are called to be co-laborers with Christ in the greatest rescue operation of all time. Allow Scripture to shape your prayers and service. Use the Scriptures listed to deepen your understanding of how God wants to work on your campus.

Serve globally. Let’s pray and work to see His name become more famous in the academy.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2017 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – April 3

Have you ever audited a class before? I have and found it an interesting learning forum. I have always valued differing environments to learn about a topic I was interested in, without having to handle the extra responsibilities that comes with taking a class for credit.

My parents modeled an interest in learning, whether by taking a book out from the local library, reading a magazine or newspaper article, or even purchasing a set of encyclopedia’s for our home when my siblings and I were in school. We benefitted from growing up with a taste and joy for learning, and the resources to do it.

The down side you have to address when auditing a class was the financial component. Even thought I was not taking the class for college credit, the payment was the same as if I were taking it for credit. That always frustrated me.

I realized spending ”real” money for a class and not seeing it show up on my transcript was not the best use of my funds. Yet on a few occasions it was the best use of my time, even as I did some of the assigned work and gained information I had not had access to before. It was a trade-off I was willing to make once or twice. The larger reality was that I wanted to get credit for the work I did, along with pre-work, in class work, and extra-credit work, so I could strengthen my resume, and add value to my tool belt of skills. As I think back on my experience with auditing, it reminds me of something I read in the New Testament Book of James.

James 1:22-27.

Pastor James says we should “not merely listen to the Word of God and so deceive ourselves. Do what it says” (verse 22). When you audit a class, you can just listen to the instructor and not have to tackle any of the work. There is no accountability for the content you are being exposed to, or any measure of your ability to synthesize and apply it to your life. You do not have to take the test to prove what you know or are capable of. You literally do not have to do anything.

Sadly, I have met college students who came to the academy and seemed to be auditing the Christian life. They went to church and even participated in Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship, but they appeared as if they were in a buffet line at a restaurant, picking and choosing what they wanted that day. They were resistant to being called to practice what they believed, or more importantly, what the Bible called them to be and do. If they read Scripture, they treated it like a tweet or Facebook post. If they paid much attention to the preached weekly message at church or Chi Alpha, it carried no weight with them. They never bothered to act on it.

I had to remind them that if they had entered God’s Kingdom through putting their faith, hope, and trust in King Jesus, they were now obligated to learn what it meant to live under His rule. That required getting to know the ideas and commandments (not suggestions) in His guidebook. It also meant leaning on the Holy Spirit to help each of us put them into practice.

Scripture is not like a college catalog or opinion blog post. There is no provision for auditing the Lordship of Jesus. Every day is a test to see if and how we are putting God’s demands on us into practice in real life. His ways are meant to help us flourish. Walk wisely. The Bible has clear instructions for right living. Read the Book of James and find five of them. Then live them.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2017 by Mike Olejarz

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