Monthly Archives: August 2017

Monday Motivator – August 28

How do you respond to a warning?

During the recent riot in Charlottesville, angry protesters pushed into police officers and were asked to step by back five feet, lower their voice (and tone), and cool down. The officer gave the same response twice more, but the front row agitator ignored the request and yelled, “Who do you think you are, to tell me what to do!” Needless to say, the next few minutes did not go well.

When Hurricane Harvey was bearing down on Texas over the past weekend, residents had plenty of warnings. Weather forecasters began predicting the storm days ahead of when it was supposed to arrive on land.

On the days beforehand, while it was warm and sunny, people swarmed into grocery stores to buy supplies. Hardware stores were also heavily in demand as people worked to get their homes and businesses ready for days of terrible weather. Everyone who was paying attention was talking about the coming storm. Even before the hurricane arrived, schools and businesses announced they would be closed. Evacuation plans were already being followed. When the storm hit with wind and rain, most people were out of harm’s way and many were safe at home or with others. No one was supposed to be out and about during the storm, except for first responders and emergency personal equipped and ready to offer aid and support.

Read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11.

When we believe a warning, it affects our behavior. It is true in every area of life, including our walk of faith. The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Thessalonica in the first century, reminding them that the day of the Lord would come as a thief in the night. In other words, it would come unexpectedly (verse 2). Paul’s call to action urged them to avoid spiritual lethargy while remaining alert and self-controlled (verse 6). He added that believers should comfort one another as they share this warning (verse 11), and heed the words of the apostle.

Paul was echoing the words of Jesus who earlier had said to his followers to be watchful and ready, “for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect” (Matthew 24:44). Paul had written in 1 Thessalonians 5:6, “Therefore, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled.” This added to his writing in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 about not being ignorant of the second coming of he Lord Jesus. Paul’s point was if we wish to escape the wrath of the Lord, we need to remain spiritually awake and morally alert, and continue in faith, love, and the hope of salvation (verses 8-9 of chapter five).

What effect did Paul believe this teaching about the Lord’s return would have on his listeners? In 1 Thessalonians 4:18, he said, “Therefore, let us encourage one another with these words.”

If we believe Jesus’ words about His soon return, how will it affect our thoughts and actions? First, Paul argued in 1 Thessalonians 5:4-8 why and how there is a contrast between believers and unbelievers in their words and deeds. Second, verses 9-10 supply the reason Paul wrote that followers of Jesus are assured of their salvation. Third, like Paul, let’s be witnesses of hope.

Walk wisely. Every Christian should be an expectant uplooker as an ambassador of Christ.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2017 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – August 21

John Maxwell has mentored me for decades through his writings. Listed below are 13 questions he presented that have helped me as I met with people in mentoring relationships at different seasons of my life. I have asked these questions of various mentors of mine, and you might use them as well. Keep in mind that often your mentor is only as good as the questions you ask.

  1. How do you define success? Yoda once stated, “Do or do not. There is no try.”
  2. What values guide your decisions? Glinda the Good Witch said to Dorothy, “You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power to go back home to Kansas.”
  3. What is the most effective daily habit you possess? Gandalf said to Frodo, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
  4. What accomplishment are you most proud of? Mr. Miyagi said to Daniel, “Man who can catch fly with chopstick can accomplish anything.”
  5. What is the greatest piece of advice you have ever gotten? Mary Poppins said to the children, “Never judge things by their appearance…even carpetbaggers.”
  6. What do you wish you knew at my stage of life or career? Doc Browne asked Marty, “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”
  7. What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned from failure? Alfred the butler asked Bruce Wayne, “Why do we fail, sir? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”
  8. What are you learning right now? Albus Doubledare said, “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
  9. What positive thing do you see in me that I need to focus on developing? Master Splinter said to the Turtles, “The path that leads to what we truly desire is long and difficult, but only by following that path do we achieve our goal.”
  10. What obstacle that I don’t see is preventing me from moving forward? M said, “James (Bond), arrogance and self-awareness seldom go hand in hand.”
  11. What must I do to overcome that obstacle and keep growing? Morpheus said, “But I can only show you the door, Neo. You’re the one who has to walk through it.”
  12. What do you hope to teach me during our mentoring relationship? Mickey Goldmill said, “Rocky, you’re gonna eat lightning and you’re gonna crap thunder.”
  13. What can I do to make this process worthwhile for you? Uncle Ben Parker said to Peter Parker, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Live communally. The value of mentoring is seen in the examples above and in Titus 2:1-8. Each of us can benefit from meeting with a mentor for counsel, guidance, and encouragement.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2017 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – August 14

Our home in Arlington, MA was close to the Minuteman Bikeway, a walking, running, and biking trail. The Minuteman Bikeway is a 10-mile paved multi-use rail trail, located in the Greater Boston area of Massachusetts. It runs from Bedford to Alewife station, passing through Lexington and Arlington along the way.

It is one of the most used trails in Greater Boston and Barbara and I (and our kids) were some of its many users. Every day you could see, watch, and pass senior adults out walking, parents running while pushing a stroller of kids, other parents walking while pushing a stroller of kids (and even having their dog along for the time outside). You would see scores of runners and cyclists of all types, sizes, and numbers. Everyone had a distinctive set of colorful clothes, a unique gait, stride, or pace, as well as a walking, running, or pedaling cadence.

Read Ephesians 5:1-14.

The apostle Paul reminds us that we are to, “Walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” (Ephesians 5:2). He wrote in Colossians 4:5 that we are to be “wise in the way we act toward outsiders.”

The question that arises from these two texts is: How much does the practice of my faith in Jesus reflect his love and wisdom?

As we read and consider the rest of the text from Ephesians 5, other questions come to mind:

+How devoted are you to following God’s example (v 1)?

+How is your daily practice of being sexually pure? How are you avoiding any kind of impurity? What about greed? Those three are improper for God’s people (v 3).

+How are you avoiding obscenity, foolish talk, or coarse joking in your conversation (v 4)? All are supposed to be out of place for followers of Jesus.

+How do you cultivate and practice thanksgiving (v 5)?

+Are you aware that God’s wrath comes to the disobedient (v 6)?

Paul writes that those of us who follow Jesus used to be in darkness, but since our transformation, we now are walking and practicing His teachings, which are like light (v 8). Light refers to good, right, and true paths (v 9). Disciples of Jesus are focused on what pleases Him (v 10). They also recognize, ignore, and avoid the fruitless deeds of darkness of their old ways (v 11), and expose them through their witness and spiritual empowerment. Paul adds that it is shameful to even mention what the disobedient do in secret (v 12).

If you took an inventory of how you are doing lately and used the fourteen verses of Ephesians 5, how would your life measure up to these verses? If you sat down with a friend and he or she asked you to use the 14 verses as a mirror, what would your response be? And if they asked you, “Have you lied to the previous questions?” how would you do? Are you really walking in love and wisdom? What evidence is there to support your assertion that you’re on the right path?

Think theologically. To walk in a Christ-like manner, you must keep in step with Jesus. As you do, your language, practices, and habits should align and serve to characterize you as one of His.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2017 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – August 7

I love stories.

I grew up on Walt Disney shows and movies, and have come to enjoy Pixar movies like Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc., Cars, Up, etc., because they are fun, clever, terrific movies. More than just amazing CGI animation, witty humor, and incredible imagination are the actual stories being portrayed. These movies are good and virtuous.

I love stories from the Bible.

The 66 books of Scripture are full of stories about the One True God, His creation of everything, including human beings in His image, and His ultimate redemptive story of rescue. It’s a daring adventure more riveting than Davy Crockett, Mickey Mouse, The Incredibles, or Ratatouille.

Did you ever wonder why Rahab, a prostitute who lived in the city of Jericho, opened her home to Israelite spies? What gave her the courage to identify with and name the God of Israel as her own? And how she got included in the hall of the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11?

Read Joshua 2:1-14.

How did someone in a pagan land hear the account of the reality and power of the God of the Israelites? And a woman at that? And a woman who engaged in prostitution? Although she was steeped in paganism and immorality, her heart was touched and drawn to this God. Joshua 2:10 records her words to the spies sent by Joshua, the leader of Israel, to investigate the land they were approaching. Rahab told the spies, “We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the kings of the Amorites.”

Think about the prospects Israel faced as they drew near to Jericho. Under normal circumstances, this highly fortified city was impenetrable and unconquerable. Yet history records that because of the power of God, it became vulnerable and accessible. Joshua 2:11 indicates that long before God’s people arrived and walked around the city, the pride and arrogance of the people of Jericho had been assaulted by the stories of the deliverance of Israel from the hostile hands of the Egyptians. Jericho and its citizens seemed to dissolve in fear when they faced those who belonged to God. They heard, then found themselves repeating among themselves and to the Jews, “The Lord your God, He is God above and on earth beneath.” Someone was talking.

Within the walls of Jericho, one pagan heart of a woman scorned by family, friends, and her culture, turned to receive the God of Israel. That step of faith resulted in her playing a strategic role in Israel’s stunning victory. God did not need Rahab to challenge the false gods of Egypt in the manner in which God used Moses. He just needed someone to hide two men on a roof.

In Robert Velarde’s “The Wisdom of Pixar: An Animated Look at Virtue,” he unpacks how Pixar movies display classic Christian virtues like hope, courage, friendship, and love. These films resonate with us because of their moral character. Rahab’s story should motivate us to boldly tell the story of God’s greatness. We never know when and how a person’s heart is ready to respond to the story of Immanuel, God with us. Grow devotionally. Don’t be shy. Learn, and be ready and willing to tell stories of God’s greatness from Scripture and your own experience.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2017 by Mike Olejarz

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