Monthly Archives: June 2017

Monday Motivator – June 26

I benefitted from a grade school art teacher who helped my classmates and I gain a better appreciation for the arts. I was used to goofing around with Play-Doh, a little coloring now and then, and some paint by the numbers pictures.

I did enjoy the paper where a pre-determined color would be placed in a lot of different spots, all varied in size. My fond recollection was of sitting in a chair for hours, working meticulously with my crayons or paint box-strip of colors and a glass of water.

I was fascinated with the idea of how the image would develop over time as the many boxes or shapes were filled in. I was under no illusion that doing a paint-by-the-numbers piece made me a “real” artist. I simply enjoyed the chance to color or paint a scene of animals in a yard, an astronaut, or a superhero like Batman.

It required a lot of patience to work on each piece. My brothers and I worked alongside each other at the kitchen table while our mom made cookies that filled the room with their special aroma. Finally, we sat back and were amazed at the hundreds of slivers of color added up to become an image that we considered well worth our effort.

One day our teacher brought in a friend who painted without any numbers on a large canvas. It was a continuous effort of arms moving, paint being applied in what I considered a non-organized manner, until images and context began to appear. It was the outside playground, with kids all over the place, laughing, playing, and being just kids. It was impressive, colorful, instructive, and inspiring all at once.

Read 2 Corinthians 5:12-21.

As I think about that artist’s efforts that morning and the patience and precision it took to create that painting, I am still moved to look to my heavenly Father.

The Scriptures declare that the Savior and Shepherd of our souls looks upon all of us and sees the imperfections in our lives. Yet He lovingly and patiently does His work of reaching out to start and continue our renewed journey of friendship with Him. His goal now and then is to make a masterpiece of us – a shaping and molding that conforms us to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29).

2 Corinthians 5:17 says through the command of God those who accept by faith what Jesus did on the cross as payment for the rebellion and put their faith, hope, and trust in Him are made a new creation. That person becomes a new believer, belonging to God’s family, in a world which the Spirit rules, renewed after God’s image, with a renewed understanding and knowledge, and able to live a life of holiness that pleases the Father.

What a joy it is to have access to such a God, who makes us new and never tires of investing His energy and effort into our lives so we might flourish as His works of art.

Grow devotionally. Only God can transform a sin-stained soul like mine into a masterpiece of grace. Only the clay can pause to recognize and honor the One True Artist.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2017 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – June 19

There are four main people groups on campus: undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and foreign students. We break down those groups into segments for service and outreach, one example being students who live in dorms. Another are ethnic students. Where do we start? We need to decode the campus, which is simply taking the time to learn the campus you serve in terms of its ethnic student demographics.

Read Nehemiah 1:3-4 and Numbers 13:1, 17-20.

Here are ten ideas to consider starting ministry to ethnic students:

  1. Prayer walk the campus. Ask the Holy Spirit to allow you to see the campus in a new way, for His vision for the people there, and a burden to reach outside of your comfort zone to others He is interested in.
  2. What is the general breakdown of the ethnic student population?
  3. Look for ethnic churches around campus, including Christian organizations, like a gospel choir. Who are the ethnic communities’ gatekeepers and key leaders?
  4. Visit the multi-cultural center/office. Ask for a list of ethnic student groups and their leaders (it might be available on the campus web site). Then go meet them and say hello.
  5. Find out where ethnic students hang out on or near campus.
  6. Do some campus surveying by asking ethnic students about the organizations best serving them? Are they involved in any of these groups? Why or why not? What organizations or churches are seeking to meet the spiritual needs of students?
  7. Go out and ask the Holy Spirit to lead you into a divine appointment where you can share your faith with someone of a different ethnicity.
  8. Pray for and look for key connectors into people groups (Luke calls them “people of peace” in Luke 10:1-12). Remember when the apostle Paul bumped into Lydia in Acts 16? She was an example of a person receptive to Paul and his message, and who was used by God to reach into her community. The idea is it needs to be someone who has influence in their campus community and desires to lead a contextualized movement for Jesus.
  9. Create and distribute ethnic specific freshmen survival kits at your student activities fair (or others times through the year, at ethnic events on campus, etc.). Hand them out where ethnic students hang out. This may be another way to surface a “person of peace.”
  10. Visit www.drivingdiversity.org and connect with other Chi Alpha folks.

Serve globally. We in Chi Alpha Campus Ministries believe every student deserves a chance to study at the feet of the world’s greatest teacher. More importantly, they deserve a chance to be reconciled to Jesus. Join us to serve ethnic students on campus.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2017 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – June 12

How will you become a healthier influencer? One way I respond is to attend the Global Leadership Summit (GLS), annually sponsored by the Willow Creek Association. One of the sessions offered in 2016 was entitled “Leadership Illusions,” co-led by Bill Hybels, Dr. Henry Cloud, and Shauna Niequist (Bill’s daughter). I’ll comment later on Shauna’s presentation, but examine some of what Bill and Henry had to say.

Bill Hybels ­said the first illusion is you can carry ever increasing amounts of speed in your life and simultaneously keep your soul care line heading in the same direction without drop-off.

At some place along this increasing line of speed, we start losing touch with our soul. The connection with God becomes me asking God to keep my speed up. “God, keep up with me today” is our default prayer. Coupled with that is a tendency in leaders to wait to stop this cycle of activity with self-reflection. We know it’s time to get before God and ask “How am I doing? What’s happening to my heart? What’s happening to my relationships?” But we are afraid.

We recognize that if we don’t punctuate our activity with time for self-­reflection, we will ultimately pay a price, and, everyone else around me will pay too. My experience is that when leaders start the process of slowing down, it’s awkward. If you don’t get into some system of rest and recreating, you’ll wind up in the looney bin.

Spend two minutes reflecting on this. What do you need to do or not do? It must include flattening out the speed for a while, with new practices and boundaries. Speed kills for a reason.

Dr. Henry Cloud, recently wrote “The Power of the Other.” He says that part of what it takes to be healthy is the power of the other. He reminded us that we’ve all heard great stuff about vision, strategy, and execution. The second illusion is that we go and do that, but we tend to ignore the need for mutually supportive relationships. i.e., who are you connected to?

Grab a 3×5 index card or a napkin. Henry said there are only four possibilities on the map of connectedness. The upper left corner (#1) is no connection. God put a chip in every human being searching for connection. When you connect, it increases your capacity. Leadership and life can force you into isolation. In corner 1, I’m alone. The upper right corner (#2) is bad connection. The worst place is to be in relationship with someone but not connected. In this corner, it leaves us feel like I’m bad, inferior, and a loser.  The lower right corner (#3) is fake good connection. It’s pseudo connection. It relieves the pain. It might be a substance. It might be an addiction. It might be an illicit relationship. It might be driving your team to greater and greater numbers. But it’s like eating sugar. You eat sugar but you need more. I heard a Christian speaker saying she was having an affair with two men: Ben and Jerry. The left lower corner (#4) is real connection. You have someone in a mutually supportive relationship, i.e., who can meet my needs in real way. You have to come home to corner 4. God says to come home to corner 4. We just need to admit our need. By the way, that’s where God lives.

Spend two minutes reflecting on which corner do you find yourself in most often? Why? What inhibits or prohibits you from going to corner 4 where you would be connected to Christ, and by being better connected to family, friends, and co-­workers? Walk wisely. Be healthy by caring for yourself first, so you will run your race (life) better able to serve others along the way.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2017 by Mike Olejarz

 

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Monday Motivator – June 5

I wrote last week about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a young German Lutheran pastor who chose to ally himself with others and work for the defeat of Adolf Hitler before and during World War 2. One of the books he wrote during that time is entitled, “The Cost of Discipleship.”

My reaction to The Cost of Discipleship is three-fold. One, this is a tough, but necessary book to read and wrestle with. It is a summation of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus in real life. Bonhoeffer describes the challenge and reality of what Jesus called His followers to be – learners by attachment – and the cost necessary for such an adventure. He asserts that without commitment and submission to God, and daily obedience, discipleship is not possible. I found myself saying “yes” to the ideas about being an obedient disciple of Jesus, and asking for the help of the Holy Spirit (and other like-minded followers) to follow harder, on His terms.

Two, Bonhoeffer delineates the process by which Christ works to build his character in his followers. It is eye-opening to hear the teachings of Jesus as recorded by Matthew put into a context whereby it is possible to see how a disciple is made. It is helpful to hear the “why” as well as the “how” of following Jesus. I confess I haven’t see much of this talked about and practiced in the churches I have been a part of. It makes me wonder what kinds of disciples the church is actually producing? Are we producing ones that know cheap grace, or costly grace? Jesus seeks to build men and women of extraordinary Kingdom character, who more clearly reflect his – but it will require obedience. Bonhoeffer said, “Jesus has spoken. His is the Word, ours the obedience.”

Third, my vision to make disciples has been renewed as I am reminded about the vision, cost, and call I must live and pass on to others. Jesus is calling his followers to partner with Him in the greatest rescue operation of all time. But there are demands on the messengers of his message. We are to “go and make disciples, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” This call and commission is not possible without the help of God, and he willingly offers himself to help us. What is so powerful is how Bonhoeffer weaves the themes of grace and cost together. Jesus calls his followers first to himself, and second to a task they can’t accomplish on their own. He also explains how God’s grace enables disciples to do just that, love God and love one another, because Christ didn’t die on a cross for people to be ignorant of who he is and what he has provided.

Read Luke 14:25-35.

Bonhoeffer saw a lot of compromise in the German Church to the ideas of Jesus. He knew that the Church was doomed to failure and a weak witness if they succumbed to the calling of the Nazi culture ascending to power. What Bonhoeffer wrote still has relevance for believers and Church leaders today, if they are at all interested in what it means to know and follow Christ.

If the Church could be bought, seduced, lured away, or compromised during a time of war, how much more we need to be diligent to understand what Jesus purchased for all people, and what it truly means to be the people of God. Jesus expects every man and woman who desires to follow Him (despite the lure of compromising their beliefs under difficult and varied circumstances), to give up everything to do so. The return God promises far outweighs the cost of following Jesus – forgiveness and life abundant. Live communally. Are you ready to live like this with others?

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2017 by Mike Olejarz

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