Monthly Archives: October 2017

Monday Motivator – October 30

October 31, 2017 is the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation unwittingly initiated by a Catholic monk named Martin Luther. My friend and colleague, Dr. Charles Spong and his wife Peg will attend the Wittenberg 2017 Congress in Germany October 30 to November 1.

To watch the Congress live from the States, you can register on www.luther.tv. The cost is only $9.95. You also will receive 3 powerful books free with your registration. To view a brief summary of the life of Luther and the Congress speakers, go to www.luther2017.tv. This is a once in a lifetime Congress. Don’t miss viewing this incredible event.

Chuck has supplied me with critical information about the Reformation for months. He helped me understand how the 16th Century Reformation and the 20th Century Pentecostal Movement compared (how alike) and contrasted (how different). For example:

How Alike:

  1. Both returned to the New Testament in doctrine and practice and were Christocentric.
  2. Both movements suffered persecution, but the 16th century endured more upheaval.
  3. Both resulted to division but impacted the whole church world.
  4. Both created new theologies that generated much discussion and debate.
  5. Both started new educational institutions: 16th century primary schools and colleges; 20th century Bible schools (mainly).
  6. Both were dissatisfied with conditions in the church and helped create renewal efforts.

How Different:

  1. 16th Century: No emphasis on the Spirit. 20th Century: Emphasis on the Spirit.
  2. 16th: Baptism, gifts, healing none. 20th: Emphasis on baptism in Holy Spirit, gifts, healing.
  3. 16th: Stress on water baptisms. 20th: Greater stress on salvation.
  4. 16th: Stress on sacraments. 20th: Less emphasis.
  5. 16th: No emphasis on missions. 20th: Emphasis on missions.
  6. 16th: Begun by leaders. 20th: Begun by college students.

Build fide (faith) by reading about movements and leaders that have moved the Church forward the past 500 years. Here are some; without the first three, we would not be reading about the rest: Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Knox, Reformed, Anabaptists, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Tyndale, George Fox, Puritans, Jansenism, Quietism, Pietism, Zinzendorf, John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, Charles Finney, the Moravians, William Wilberforce, Menno Simons, Mennonites, Henry Ward Beecher, Albert Switzer, Francis Asbury, The Great Awakening, Jonathan Edwards, D.L. Moody, William Carey, Student Volunteer Movement, Billy Sunday, Pentecostals, Aimee Semple McPherson, A.B. Simpson, Oral Roberts, and Billy Graham.

Read the Luther biography, “Here I Stand” by Roland Bainton (1950). Another is “Martin Luther” by Eric Metaxas (2017). Check out Chuck Norris’ 10/30/17 article on Luther at wnd.com.

Walk wisely. The Reformation of the Church begun in 1517 is more than about one person or an era (1517-1648). It is really about a continuing movement to progress the Church forward to what God wants it to be worldwide (Ephesians 4:11-16), a challenge yet to be fully met. 500 years (1517-2017) of church and contemporary life are reminders of the work still to be done.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2017 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – October 23

What cultural gods are demanding your attention right now?

The world ends for a lot of people each and every day due to the absolute truth of death. Life will never be the same for the deceased and those that loved or even worshiped them. Particularly for those in the public eye whose 15 minutes of fame (or longer) captured someone’s interest, it appears that many often get caught up in a version of celebrity or hero worship.

You have probably observed people lighting candles, playing their music (or tweets) nonstop, dressing like them, leaving flowers or some memento near the site of their passing, even lamenting their loss on social media (when in most cases they never met the cultural icon).

But I wonder if our celebrity culture breeds a sort of weirdness. The legend of a famous (or infamous) person may seem captivating, and for some it can become a phenomenon that is real, or at least symbolic, but may be nothing to laugh at. I’ve read where therapists have counseled people to get in touch with their inner (fill in the blank). The celebrity’s picture may have been on a video game, a postage stamp, or a weekly magazine that is collected or revered. I heard of a football coach that still left a ticket for musician Elvis Presley on game days.

Celebrity worship can be a religion. Consider the annual trek to the dead person’s home, binge weekends, video gaming marathons, the conducting of elaborate rituals, the creation of new memorials, and even talking to their dead celebrity. It seems that people who don’t have the One True God in their lives often make a god out of all sorts of stuff and desire to stay connected.

Read 2 Kings 17:29-41.

In ancient times in the Middle East, exiles from several nations were shipped off to live among Jews in Samaria. Israelite priests taught them how to worship God, but it didn’t quite work out the way they thought. “They worshiped the Lord but also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought” (2 Kings 17:33).

Think about the customs of your school, community, and nation and what you are being taught to worship. Who are the cultural gods you are feeling pressured to identify with and acknowledge, even publicly honor? It may start with wearing their basketball shoe. Or supporting (with words and actions) the prevailing campus protest theme. What is trending on social media?

How is your loyalty being tested? Is your worship of God being threatened by campus intolerance and/or political correctness and pushed to the back burner of your worldview? How can you keep “pretenders to your allegiance” from overpowering your love and service of God?

The One True God transcends all cultures, customs, time, and geography. He alone deserves to be called “amazing” or “awesome.” He ought to be the object and subject of your worship and devotion, no matter who seems to be in the cultural spotlight on late night TV. Regardless of what popular culture is telling you, God demands your heart, soul, mind, and strength, because only when you are in alignment with Him, can you flourish as a person.

Think theologically. Beware. The transient gods of culture are and always will be idols of sand.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2017 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – October 16

I have had the benefit of a background in competitive athletics where I was taught why and how to prepare for a long season as well as the need for consistent performance. There are reasons why some teams outperform others, one of which is their preparation before the actual game.

When I encountered the person and teachings of Jesus and decided to put my faith, hope, and trust in Him, I learned there were spiritual practices that would help me live a life of faith. Due to a number of coaches who helped me understand the realities and necessities of proper practice leading to consistent performance, my approach to spiritual growth took a similar trajectory.

I have not struggled to think God wanted me to grow just because I was lacking something, or that He was disappointed in me. I did not wrestle with the idea that I was never good enough for a holy God, or that He needed me to be better so He could squeeze more out of me in ministry.

I have come to understand why spiritual disciplines and growth are important. One of the reasons is that I can experience a deeper understanding of God’s love by putting myself in His presence through the use of ancient traditional spiritual practices. I invest my time and energy in my spiritual growth so I can be with God, plain and simple. In sports, the better we practice and are prepared for our opponent, the more relaxed and confident we will perform in the game.

Read Ephesians 3:16-19.

The apostle Paul wrote a great overview of what God has done for all of us in this first century letter to the Christians at Ephesus. He sought to raise the understanding of God’s goodness and grace to men and women. Paul wrote to describe the “what” as well as the “how” of God’s redemptive actions. The first half of the book addresses the doctrinal foundation of what He did and why, and the second half addresses what that could and should look like in the lives of Christ-followers.

I look back at a championship season and remember the mental, physical and emotional exertion it took to practice and perform at a high level. If I desire to experience the goodness of God, I need certain practices to be in play just to be with Him. Here are a few of mine:

First, practice slowing down with Scripture. My parents helped me learn not to stuff myself with food and run from the table to my homework. Eating slowly is healthy for my body and for conversation around the table. Therefore, I like to read large chunks of Scripture and let it saturate my mind. Learn to linger in the Word, meditating on its riches, listening to the Spirit.

Second, practice praying without ceasing. While we should set aside regular time for focused prayer, invite Jesus to walk with you throughout the day as you navigate the realities of life.

Third, practice solitude on a regular basis. How can you build in pockets of time each week or month where you have no agenda? How can you block out time in your calendar to be unavailable to anyone else but God? How can you silence your phone usage each week?

Grow devotionally. Your spiritual growth is worth the investment in yourself. If you are on God’s team, you do not have to earn God’s love but can merely enjoy it. So practice well.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2017 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – October 9

We live in a time of growing dividedness at many levels of society and our own personal interactions with others. It seems that conversations on or off of social media and subsequent actions are contributing to an alarming divisiveness and disrespect.

I attended the Global Leadership Summit in August of this year. Bill Hybels, the founder of the GLS, gave the keynote address and called for all of us to take the initiative to model civility in our families, neighborhoods, organizations, and communities.

Read 1 Peter 2:17.

Bill Hybels, like the apostle Peter in the first century, echoed the call to “respect everyone always.” He suggested that, “Who I am as a senior leader is the place I need to start. If I’m going to be on the solution side, I need to make sure I’m acting in the appropriate way.” He then outlined ten rules we should consider applying in our relational contexts to practice respect to those in and outside of our sphere of influence.

1: Leaders must set the example on how to differ with others without demonizing them.

2: Leaders must set the example of how to have spirited conversations without drawing blood.

3: Leaders must not interrupt others who are talking and must not dominate the conversation.

4: Leaders must set the example of limiting their volume levels and refusing to use incendiary or belittling words that guarantee to derail a discussion.

5: Leaders must set the example of being courteous in word and deed to everyone at every level.

6: Leaders must never stereotype.

7: Leaders must apologize when they are wrong, instead of denying or doubling down.

8: Leaders must form opinions carefully and stay open minded if better information comes along.

9: Leaders must set the example of showing up when they say they are going to show up and doing what they say they are going to do.

10: Leaders must set “Rules of Respect” for everyone in the organization and enforce them relentlessly.

Bill mentioned another leader who developed a civility code for their company: 1) We will greet and acknowledge each other, even with a smile. 2) We will say please and thank you. 3) We will treat each other equally and with respect. 4) We will be direct, sensitive and honest. 5) We will address incivility whenever it occurs.

AT&T President Randall Stephenson wrote to his company: “I am not asking you to merely tolerate each other. Tolerance is for cowards. Being tolerant requires nothing of you. But to be quiet and not make waves, holding tightly to your views and judgments without being challenged. Do not merely tolerate each other. Work hard! Move into uncomfortable territory and seek to understand each other.”

How can staff and students in Chi Alpha chapters show some “grit” in their peacemaking efforts? It can start with civility. Don’t settle for anything less than treating others with respect, since everyone is made in the image of God. May Jesus help us to be practitioners of civility.

Serve globally. The university, the marketplace, and the world needs people of civility.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2017 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – October 2

How open are you with family and friends about your faith journey? Or do you tend to be a “secret believer?” Why is that (for both questions)?

I enjoy reading the book of Jonah in the Older Testament. He is considered a minor prophet (due to the shorter amount of material in comparison to “major” prophets like Isaiah). Jonah was a prophet God had to call twice to go to Ninevah, because he ran away the first time.

To help you consider the context of Jonah’s experience, have you ever been in a situation where God had to tell you more than once to follow His directions? One of my students told me that sharing their faith with a roommate was always difficult because of a fear of rejection. Another said a hindrance was a fear of ridicule. Or of being unprepared. Or of making a mistake. Or of offending someone. Or of not knowing the Scriptures enough. Or a lack of conviction.

But we reviewed and discussed that Jesus taught his message (i.e., the gospel) was good news. Therefore, being involved in evangelism meant being the bearer of good news. To be a witness was simply to “relate what you had seen and heard.” Our commission was found in Matthew 28:18-20. Jesus even provided spiritual empowerment for the task he described in Acts 1:8.

So men and women involved with my Chi Alpha chapter repented and reminded themselves of who they were serving, and relying on the power of the Holy Spirit, they obeyed the Lord and went about their daily business on campus, ready to engage others with the message of their Lord and Savior. They would often ask friends and classmates in appropriate moments, “So, I was wondering if you would tell me what you think about Jesus and his teachings?”

On many occasions, they were pleased to hear people respond and share some of their thoughts about Jesus. In some cases, people said they were not interested in responding and went on their way. But in both cases, seeds were planted. My students had obeyed the Lord and He will bring about fruit from their obedience in His time and way.

Read Jonah 1:1-17.

When Jonah finally obeyed the Lord’s command, the result was astounding. He marched through Ninevah proclaiming this eight-word message: “40 more days and Ninevah will be overturned” (Jonah 3:4). The whole city, from the king down to the youngest citizen, repented in sackcloth and ashes, and God spared the city from destruction (3:6-10).

God may be moving in your own heart and mind, prompting you to speak to someone about Jesus on campus, in a class, your dorm, or back home. Often, the closer the person is to you, the harder it may be. Go ahead and obey the voice of the Lord. Overcome your shyness, and your fear(s) by the power of the Holy Spirit, and share the good news about Jesus.

People matter to God. Our good news is that God reached down to man in Jesus to die on the cross for our sins, rescue us from His wrath by offering us eternal life, and put each of us in right relationship with God so we can flourish. Don’t push God to use drastic measures on you.

Walk wisely. Inside a fish is not a fun place to find yourself. To obey is always the best way.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2017 by Mike Olejarz

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