Monthly Archives: July 2018

Monday Motivator – July 30

What difficult experience seems hard to understand? How could it become a springboard to a deeper trust in God?

During the July 2018 Major League Baseball All Star Game in Washington D.C., a key event was repeated. After the final out of the fifth inning of the All-Star Game at Nationals Park, players emerged from both dugouts and stood shoulder to shoulder on the field. Fans in the stands were asked to rise. Instead of going to a commercial break, Fox’s cameras panned around the ballpark and showed players, fans, umpires, executives and media members holding customized placards that read “I Stand Up For” above the name of a loved one who is battling or has battled cancer. By now, it’s a familiar sight.

This year marks the 10-year anniversary of Major League Baseball’s partnership with Stand Up To Cancer, a charitable organization that funds cancer research and treatments. Since MLB’s $10 million founding grant in 2008, the league and its 30 teams have donated more than $43 million to SU2C.

Many of us have dealt with a loved one battling cancer. We learned about being a caregiver, making meals, and administering medicine to ease their pain. It is not an easy path for either of us, but it can lead to a renewed perspective about life.

My mom handled her battle with cancer with toughness and a smile. She helped me remember that as difficult as her situation was, she still saw life as a “great gift from God.” Her perspective altered the way I was feeling before she passed and helped me afterward with a new appreciation of the role of suffering in our lives.

Having officiated at funeral services, I have heard from people who realized that while remembering a loved one who just passed, they now had the opportunity to deal with a “before and after” moment. They had to choose whether to live in the past of their emotional ups and downs, or choose to accept the light of the present. Like Andy told Red in Shawshank Redemption, “I guess it comes down to a simple choice really. Get busy living or get busy dying. I guess it comes down to a simple choice really…”

Read 2 Corinthians 1:1-11.

The apostle Paul described the results of hardships he and his colleagues experienced in Asia by writing: “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life…This happened so that we might not rely on ourselves but God…He delivered us from this deadly peril…on Him we have set our hope” (verses 8-10).

Today you may be under great stress or in a difficult season. You wonder how you got there or why your plans fell through. You ask yourself why your job is not working out, or how such promise turned into disappointment. These questions may not have answers.

But God (see verse 3) is with you as the “Father of compassion and God of all comfort.” Walk wisely. Don’t just try and figure your situation out. Rely on Him. Your “before and after” is in His arms. Do not give up. Knowing God is an anchor for your life.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – July 23

Do you feel inadequate in sharing the message of Jesus’ gospel with someone? How can you prepare yourself? Have you ever said, “The reason I don’t say anything about Jesus is because I won’t know what to say about Him. And if I tried, I’ll sure I’ll mess it up.”

Imagine protests breaking out on your college campus over students in your Chi Alpha chapter doing 2×2 evangelism. Student leaders would pair up with younger students and take them out to talk with other students. Their approach would be to walk up to someone and introduce themselves by saying, “Hello. My name is Mike and this is my friend Jeff. We are with a student organization on campus called Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship. We are interested to hear what students think about Jesus and His teachings. Would you be willing to tell us what you think about Jesus and His teachings?” If the student says yes, Mike and Jeff listen and determine if this will turn into a healthy conversation. If the student says no, they thank them and move on to another person.

It turns out someone was “offended” that Christian students were out “promoting Christianity” and reported the matter to the Dean of Students. Sadly, Mike and Jeff were called to the Dean’s office and berated for their actions. Ignoring the facts of the actual conversations Mike and Jeff had, the reality of free speech on a public college, not asking Mike and Jeff’s side of the story, and that the “offended” person did not engage in but merely heard about it from a friend (who by the way said they enjoyed the interchange of ideas), Mike and Jeff were put on probation for violating campus speech codes. A “trial” before the student organizations council would be held in a few weeks.

Mike and Jeff asked Christians on campus to pray. They suggested God was working in this chaotic situation in at least three ways.

  1. A student blogged in the campus newspaper that the name of Jesus was the sweetest name she had ever heard. Growing up in China never afforded her the chance to encounter Jesus until she came to America.
  2. After a recent Veritas Forum on campus, many students had been showing “The Jesus Film” in dorms and Greek houses to large numbers of students with vibrant dialogue.
  3. While going to class one day, Mike and Jeff asked a professor who came to work with a high fever if they could pray for him in the name of Jesus. This prof had participated in the Veritas Forum as a skeptic of Christianity and scoffed at the idea that Bible was in any way reliable for anything but brainwashing “nitwits” (his language was more harsh). The Lord healed the professor on the spot, in front of his class.

Read 1 Peter 3:15-17.

None of us who have done 2×2 would call Mike and Jeff “wimpy.” They replied, “We enjoy hearing what people think about Jesus and we just share what we have seen and heard.” Jeff added, “I feel inadequate every time I talk about my faith. I’ve learned that God just needs warm bodies who love Him and are willing to go.” Live communally. Together, ordinary people can tell the extraordinary story of Jesus.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – July 16

I was called to jury duty and ended up serving on a one-day trial. I was on call for about five weeks and didn’t think I was going to get to get asked to serve with so many “not needed today” messages on the local court message system.

As one of about 80 potential jurors assembled that day for early instructions about the jury process in Virginia, the judge gave clear and compelling words about the privilege of serving as a potential juror, and his role to guide us. After an hour or so of all us of being asked questions by the prosecutor and defense attorneys, I was selected to serve.

It is a sobering to realize America is one of a few countries that has a “trial by a jury of your peers” system. It is inspiring that judges are in place to ensure that the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia is upheld and followed in judicial proceedings.

I can envision that a judge is in a tough spot at times, creating friends and enemies alike due to how he/she leads the court. They are positioned to facilitate the often slow-moving wheels of justice, according to critics on both sides of the process.

My experience that day was riveting, sobering, encouraging, and exhausting. It was riveting as the judge gave instructions on how the trial system was going to occur and our responsibilities as jurors to ultimately decide the fate of the person on trial. It was sobering because we had to listen to the evidence presented, weigh it, and decide if we as the jury could come to a consensus on innocent or guilty. After much deliberation we found the person guilty of the crime they were arrested for. We then were given instructions on how to select an appropriate punishment. It was encouraging as a citizen to be a part of the legal process in my community. I was amazed at how exhausted I was at the end of the day. I was grateful for the judge’s leadership in the whole endeavor.

Our legal system has its shortcomings at times, but my recent experience reminded me of the value of living in a country governed by law, and a Kingdom governed by the Judge.

Read Romans 2:1-11.

Paul reminded the Roman Christians that God will “give to each person according to what they have done” (verse 6). Do not make the mistake of examining the challenges our American legal system encounters at times and allow those moments to color your thinking about God’s final justice. He is the perfect, righteous, and holy Judge. God will not be distracted by the craftiness of lawyers. He will not move slowly when it comes to give us what we deserve. In fact, His justice will ultimately prevail.

It is not easy to see rich and powerful people get away with crimes they commit, while the poor and/or less elite among us are often denied justice. Paul argued that God will not be mocked – you will reap what you (Galatians 6:7). His justice will be satisfied.

God is not mean or impatient. He is perfect and impartial in His judgments (Romans 2:11). Think theologically. Lead a Spirit-empowered and blameless life so you will not be ashamed to face God one day. Be comforted: His judgments are always fair and right.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – July 9

What is something that causes you to be fearful? How do you address your tendency to be afraid?

Flying in stormy conditions is a dangerous situation that makes many nervous. After a bumpy landing and a rough flight, I asked the pilot how he got us to the ground safely. He told me that the instrument panel is set to magnetic north and can be trusted every time. He said letting your instruments guide you helps ensure safety in a storm. If however, you rely on your feelings and instincts, you can quickly become disoriented, thinking the plane is going steady when it actually may be going down.

We all face storms in life that threaten to confuse and disorient us. It may be a tough class in your academic major, a broken relationship, a shattered dream, or someone you want to see come back to Jesus who is very antagonistic and resistant to matters of faith.

I have learned that these are times to be careful and not allow my emotions to run wild. When I am blinded by or caught up in the disappointments, I try not to simply rely on my knowledge and mortal resources. Merely reacting to circumstances in panic can be your initial impulse. But if you resist that temptation, you can find an anchor to hold onto.

Read Psalm 32.

The author, King David, writes a grateful testimony of appreciation for those who recognize their need for God’s forgiveness. He writes how “blessed” are those who have been pardoned. He adds that those who experience a renewed relationship with their Creator are also receptive to God’s rule in their lives.

David says that God freely forgives those who trust Him. Why would someone not further consult and rely on God for guidance after He alone restored their broken relationship with Him?

David urges his listeners in verses 8-10 to not return to their old ways of distrusting the Lord. But to trust add obedience! Followers of God must be wiser and more open to God’s will and direction than horses or mules.

God wants each of us to rely on His guidance. His Word is packed with wisdom from front to back that can assist us with living life well. All 66 books have something to help us be “anchored in Christ,” just like the airline pilot uses his instruments to rely on.

God’s Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105). Think about it – where God leads is always right! That’s why David ends Psalm 32 with a final word to let the praise of God emanate (or resound) from your lips and life. He added in verse 10 that the unfailing love of God surrounds the man or woman who trusts in Him.

Grow devotionally. Go to your Bible and trust God to guide you. He promised in verse eight, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go.” My pastor told me long ago that, “the closer we walk with God, the clearer we will see His guidance.”

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – July 2

Gary Haugen leads International Justice Mission (IJM), a worldwide agency rescuing victims of violence, exploitation, slavery and oppression. He spoke at the Global Leadership Summit last summer and his talk helped me the past year.

Gary said Jesus had foresight on his last night with his disciples. For three years, he had been pouring into the lives of these 12 friends who would carry out his mission—and he knows there is one thing that stands between all that they have learned and what it is that they will actually do. Fear. All the finest leadership training in the world can be rendered completely useless by
fear. Jesus gave the one command that he offered them more than any other: Do not be afraid. Gary gave four keys to addressing and overcoming fear.

1) Fear is the silent destroyer of dreams. All great leadership flows first from great dreams and our most powerful dreams flow from love. But fear can replace love with a preoccupation with self. Consequently, many dreams are destroyed simply by a leader’s everyday anxieties and insecurities.

2) Why is courage difficult for us? We may not know what actually scares us most deeply. Gary said when he started IJM 20 years ago, he was really not afraid of the violence. When he got quiet in his own soul, he discovered he was afraid of looking like a failure to others. He asked himself: Was I going to let this fear kill the dream? And he said no—and the dream won. But being brave is going to be hard.

3) What must we do for a dream to survive? First, relentlessly inventory your own fears. In silence, worries and insecurities will bubble to the surface. But if you are practiced at it, God brings insight, self-awareness and a steadiness of soul. Second, switch from playing defense to playing offense. No great dream has ever been built on fear of what may go wrong. Great dreams are built on the hope of what might go right.

4) Courage, like fear is contagious. This truth can allow you to lead without fear as you pursue the dream in your heart. What glorious good might God do through your influence?

Read Joshua 1:1-9.

“Have I not commanded you?”The Lord poses a rhetorical question to Joshua in verse 9 that emphasizes the authority of the speaker. Then He adds: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord is with you wherever you go.”

Which command in verse 5-9 would be toughest for you to obey? Which of the Lord’s promises would be most helpful to you? Why? What challenge are you facing right now? What do you fear will hinder you? How will you rely on the Lord and His resources? Like Joshua earlier had Moses to lean on for support, who can rally to help you?

Serve globally. Take up the dream of loving God and others. Bill Hybels has said, “We have the unspeakable privilege of helping change the storyline of people’s lives.” Like Gary Haugen and the IJM staff, lead without fear to the glory of God and the transformation of this world.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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