Monthly Archives: April 2018

Monday Motivator – April 30

How can you improve your attitude about unpleasant situations in your life?

I learned an early lesson in life from my parents as it pertained to my chores. As I grew older as a child (and as the oldest of four kids) I was given various tasks around the house that taught me the value of hard work. Regardless of the effort required, I was expected to do the best job I could, on time, and to the approval of my stay-at-home mom, all for my weekly allowance, or in some cases, just for the satisfaction of a job well done.

Later in life, I had other jobs where I was expected to be on time, work hard, have a good attitude, and in most cases I received minimum wages. Looking back, these were not jobs I would naturally rush out the door for, but they served a purpose in my overall development, and taught me the value of a hard day’s work for a hard earned wage.

Credit goes to my parents for instilling and reinforcing not only a good work ethic, but an attitude ethic. I learned to cut the grass the way my dad expected it; to wash and dry dishes the way my mom expected it to be done; to taking care of the trash each week without being reminded. There no wiggle room for half-hearted efforts with under-my-breath comments such as, “I can’t wait for this to be over, because I really despise this…”

Read Colossians 3:23.

When I started to read the New Testament for myself, it was uncanny how the Gospels and Epistles (i.e., letters) reflected so many things my parent practiced and taught my siblings and me. One example was the importance of attitude in honoring my parents and ultimately God. My parents expected that whatever I did, I should do my best, and that would satisfy them. They said I was made for doing things well, so why not strive to do it well from the start?

God expects that we honor Him in all we do (Colossians 3:23). The apostle Paul wrote that statement to early Christians in a town called Colosse as a way to highlight a perspective on how to live and work in the first century Roman world. Paul wrote to the Thessalonian Christians to, “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

So how is your attitude? Does your day at school and/or work drag on because it is filled with work that you detest? Do you grumble and groan when a professor or employer assigns a project to work on over the weekend? A thankful attitude can lighten the load.

Try thanking the Lord for what He has done for you lately. What about the project you finished and handed in? Or the project approval your team received? Was your first thought, “Gee, thanks God, for the chance to do well and use my gift(s)?”

Serve globally. Focus on God’s blessings with an attitude of thankfulness to Him. Hard work + a good attitude is a better alternative than slothfulness and grouchiness. From the campus to the marketplace, our work and chores can be a whole lot more bearable. It’s because of an old time adage that gratitude turns drudgery into delight.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – April 23

What are the spiritual beliefs of your friends? Do they help or hinder you? Is it okay for a follower of Jesus to have non-Christian friends?

I remember how difficult my teenage years were. Struggles with identity, confidence, acne, dating…the list goes on. Some of them continued into college. After college, God called me to work in Chi Alpha Campus Ministries, which provided helpful staff training to along with my enthusiasm and hope. Not to mention a willingness to listen and learn, as well as a good work ethic.

I have enjoyed being around college students, listening, caring, serving, mentoring, and pastoring them through various situations. Students would open up about all sorts of stuff now and then. I enjoyed hearing them ask questions about God, faith, and Scripture.

One time a student asked me to join him for a dorm Bible study late at night. I figured that with all the destructive temptations students faced on campus, a Bible study led by other students could not be too bad, right? My first impressions were of friendliness and hospitality. A warm welcome, inspiring worship led by a student on his guitar, and a lot of good snacks. So far, so good.

They believed, as I did, that Scripture was 100 percent true. But a short while into their presentation to those assembled, I learned their real reason for meeting. They wanted to suggest-argue-and-convince students of other things they thought were essential and needed to be added to Jesus’ death on the cross for salvation. Using a few verses out of context (it’s called proof-texting), they said there was conclusive evidence that they, and a new church in town, were the only ones who “had” this new truth.

Some good things came out of this encounter and their effort to “convert” me to their line of thinking. First, I had a chance to push back on their poor handling of Scripture in the meeting; second, it opened up an initial conversation that night and a subsequent series of follow-up discussions with the student leaders and some of attendees; third, the student leaders asked me to meet with their church pastor, whom refused to do so; last, I realized the training Chi Alpha Campus Ministries provided had showed me how to study and interpret the Bible and the different genres (i.e., kinds of literature) within its 66 books. I had been taught me how to recognize and respond to groups that twist the Scriptures.

Read 1 John 3:23-4:3.

The apostle John did not want Christians to accept everything they heard from teachers who purported to “preach the truth.” John said to, “test the spirits, to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1). Dr. Luke taught Christians not to assume anyone was excused from scrutiny. He commended the church at Berea for searching the Scriptures to verify what Paul and Silas had been teaching (Acts 17:11).

Walk wisely. There is nothing wrong with having friends or even Christians who do not believe exactly as you do. Yet not every Christian has Christ’s interests in mind. Ask God for discernment to choose between “wolves” and true Christian friends.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – April 16

How do you approach work and/or ministry? As an enthusiastic participant or a skeptical “what-do-I-get-out-of-it” observer? Why?

I was the new “hire” at a tire company one summer during high school. I started out with my normal enthusiasm because my parents modeled and taught me that whatever I did deserved my best effort. So I was on time, worked hard, and was polite to co-workers and customers. Soon an older worker pulled me aside and said, “Watta ya doing?” He added that I was working too hard. A seventy-give percent effort was plenty and that “team players” protected the laziness (excuse me, labor effort) of co-workers.

It was my first exposure to what I considered shameful behavior in the marketplace. I ignored the criticism and stern looks I got and worked hard the rest of the summer. My supervisor wrote me a supportive reference when I left to go back to school. I couldn’t get over the “atmosphere of mediocrity” I encountered, that was so opposite to the “winning” varsity athletic cultures I was a part of.

I have noticed that this attitude has trickled down into 21stcentury Christianity. New followers of Jesus start out fired up, wanted to obey Jesus as they learn about Him and His ways from Scripture. They want to trust and obey fervently, but they sometimes bump into older Christians who appear to be living a mediocre faith. When the older one sees an excited new Christian, they figure that time will dampen or quell such youthful zeal. Sadly, they may even do their part to throw some “water on the fire.” As a result, some churches are saddled with bad examples of Christians seeking to discourage the growing good examples from living out their faith the way God intended.

Read Matthew 9:35-38.

Jesus needs hard workers for His harvest, which is plentiful. While mediocrity may suffice in some human contexts, it is not tolerated in the Kingdom of God. For one reason, it squanders the precious time God has allotted to us. How long have you been on the job for God? Regardless of whether you have been a follower and servant of King Jesus for a few days or a decade or longer, you are a designed to be a critical contributor.

Has your work and service become drudgery? Has your enthusiasm waned? Do you assume God will accept a half-hearted effort as sufficient for His global reaching rescue operation? Do you think He will accommodate a “me-first” work ethic that seems to work for everyone you know? Think again. God’s harvest awaits. He says it is plentiful. Jesus said, “Open your eyes and look at the fields. They are ripe for harvest!” (John 4:35)

If the work seems too much for you, it is! That is why God sent us His Holy Spirit to provide the supernatural empowerment we need. Then we can approach work and service as we should, not half-heartedly in our own strength, but filled with the Spirit. We can apply our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength to loving God and serving others.

Live communally. We will never see a harvest if we don’t go into the field. Ask God each day to be filled with the Spirit in order to “go and tell” as ambassadors of Jesus.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – April 9

What (or whom) are you obsessed with right now?

I remember having a meal one day on campus with a student named Steve when I was a graduate student. He was someone I had beaten in racquetball many times and he was upset. He just could not admit that I was a better racquetball player.

He was talking loudly (and excitedly) about how he was going to beat me next time. His big plans would be ultimate victory over me on the court, then he would graduate “with honors” (i.e., bragging rights), and go onto to a great business career as a Christian leader. He was talking incessantly, while I was drawing on a napkin.

I waited until he took a bite out of his sandwich, and posed a question. “Hey Steve, what do you see?” as I revealed my doodling. “Uh, it looks like two Pepsi bottles,” he replied. And he added, “There is something in one of the bottles that I can’t decipher what it actually is.” I replied, “That is an image of a thick pencil.” “What is the point?” he asked. I added, “Well, this bottle is you, Steve.” I pointed to the shaded in pencil-looking bottle and said, “You’ve got a few things going for you, Steve, but you are full of yourself. You won’t go far without an attitude adjustment.”

He sat there speechless for a moment, partly due to the ham and cheese bite he was in the process of swallowing. But then he reacted, “Who you think you are, talking to me that way?” It was an awkward moment, but I responded, “I am a friend who cares for you.”

No one like being confronted, but Steve eventually got my point. It can be the most natural thing to miss a blind spot and make plans as if nothing (even God) could interfere. Yet a blind spot such as pride and/or arrogance could curtail any plans you have.

Read John 4:7-14, 27-38.

In John 4, we read about an instance when Jesus put the needs of another person ahead of Himself. He was hot, dry, and thirsty after a dusty walking road trip from Judea to Samaria. Yet he turned his own thirst into an opportunity to share the good news of the gospel (v 7-14), with a woman, and a Samaritan woman at that.

The disciples of Jesus, on the other hand, had gone into town to buy food (v 8). Ok. Nothing wrong with that. How else were they going to eat? But when they returned to meet up with Jesus, he showed them how he had bridged social, racial, and cultural barriers (v 9) to extend the influence of the Kingdom of God.

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of God who sent me” (v 34). Jesus gave them a challenge to open their eyes and look at their fields (v 35). He saw a harvest of people who were dying without God. Do we get Jesus’ point? Or are we too pre-occupied with our own plans and needs?

Think theologically. Steve changed his me-only perspective and learned to be others-centered. You won’t get ahead if you are too full of yourself and not full enough of Jesus.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – April 2

I was blessed with loving parents who were not timid when it came to discipline. Years later I am grateful they understood and practiced that when a child breaks certain rules, there must be no debate. There must be swift, appropriate, and unavoidable consequences. I was the oldest of their four children, and of course, participated in their learning curve as young parents administering discipline.

If and when I broke a rule (and depending on the severity of the circumstances), I received a just punishment for my actions. Stealing candy from a neighborhood store merited being grounded for a week – no discussion. My mom was angry that I did something so reckless and wrong, and she could not brush off lightly what I had done.

Read 1 Chronicles 13:8-12.

The disobedience of Uzzah had consequences, too. As the Israelites were bringing back the ark of the covenant one day, the cart carrying it appeared to be unsteady. Uzzah put his hand out to steady it. When he touched the ark of God though, he died immediately.

It is hard for us to imagine why God would be so angry with Uzzah, a man who apparently was just trying to help. But we learn that it was pride that caused Uzzah to reach out for the ark. He thought he could get around God’s restriction (Exodus 25:12-15) and that God “needed” him to steady the ark. Wrong on both accounts.

Our pride is the same source of our disobedience to God at times, isn’t it? And it always carries with it some serious and inescapable costs. Broken relationships, loss of a job, loss of reputation, loss of trust, loss of integrity, illness, charges of academic dishonesty, and even death are just a few of the results we may have to suffer if we try to make life work without relying on God and His ways. The significance of living in pride versus humility, and rank disobedience to God is worth considering.

It is also important to contemplate and fully realize what Uzzah did.

He disobeyed the One True God, the King of Israel. He ignored the character of the Most Holy One, who is kind, compassionate, merciful, and loving. He is also holy and perfect. He is God. He is the Sovereign Ruler over all. He is in control – we are not. He makes the rules – we do not. Saying “No, Lord,” is an oxymoron. And it makes us a moron.

When have you disobeyed God? What were the consequences? What attitudes, behaviors, ideas, or thoughts do you have that reveal pride in your heart?

Watch the series on the Ten Commandments by Dennis Prager at http://www.prageru.com to better understand the basis for human beings and societies to walk in God’s blessings.

It is hopefully as clear to us today as it was back in Uzzah’s day. We are to follow God’s instructions (i.e., commandments and ways) in obedience if we are to flourish. Let’s live humbly and simply and obediently before our Creator God. Grow devotionally. Pride always comes before a fall. Since God knows best, let’s live under His rule.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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