Monthly Archives: August 2018

Monday Motivator – August 27

What is something “small” that seems insignificant to you now? What lesson(s) have you learned from those small things that are guardrails for how you live?

In 1942 a thirteen-year old girl received a diary for her birthday. There is nothing special about that small gift, right? A lot of girls and boys have received a diary from their parents. But this young girl wrote about her experiences in such a way that it captured the minds, hearts, and imaginations of many generations. Her diary has been translated into close to thirty languages.

The Diary of Anne Frank reveals her thoughts, feelings, and fears about hiding out from the Nazis for years during World War Two. Her writing is a riveting account of her world at the time, and her hope in the midst of hatred, brutality, and death. I saw a copy of Anne’s diary in Barnes and Noble recently and I was again glad we still have access to it. Imagine the difference it has made – all due to her faithfulness to regularly record what happened in her teenage years.

It makes me realize how significant small stuff can actually be. Many parents model and teach their children the benefit and practice of manners and chores to be done daily. Many of us learned rightly how to make our beds each morning, speak well to our siblings and parents (especially your mom), and do your assigned task(s) with a cheerful attitude, without groaning or complaining. Many of us were taught to honor our elders, respect authority, and be punctual. We were taught the value of handling money by receiving an allowance based on completed chores…executed with a proper attitude, I might add.

Many of us were also taught to honor God as our Creator. We were taught the two greatest commandments: to love God and love others as ourselves. One application of the second was to maintain close friendships by working out your conflicts sooner than later. It is easier to carry a grudge rather than admitting you contributed to the disharmony and ask for forgiveness.

Read Matthew 25:14-21.

Small stuff can make a difference. Jesus told his followers a story about a rich man who gave a few of his servant’s responsibility for some of his money while he was out of town. The one of the three who put his money to the best use was rewarded with ten times the authority and responsibility. Upon returning, the boss told him, “You have been faithful with a few things. Now I will put you in charge of many” (v 21). Small stuff does make a difference.

Life is full of a lot of stuff that appears so insignificant and does not seem to matter: Keeping your checkbook balanced, running errands, listening to a roommate with a dilemma, getting your homework in on time, cleaning your car and/or bathroom (again), treating others with charity. Yet through them we learn responsibility by taking care of the things entrusted to us.

God wants to see if we can handle what He has given us today. He wants to see us be able to handle bigger responsibilities down the road. If you can’t mend a broken relationship with a roommate now, how will you find the courage to resolve conflict when you are married?

Live communally. How can you be faithful with your responsibilities? One way to love God is to love others. If we prove faithful, we will hear what the servant did in the parable, “Well done.”

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – August 20

True or false: If you do not grow, your ministry, organization, non-profit, etc., will not grow.

There are a few principles about growth that have been shown to be valuable and necessary. Three areas about growth that need to understood and followed.

The first is, you must grow yourself. You cannot take people where you have not been. The second is, you have to grow your people. You must put them in a place that energizes them (i.e., purpose, cause, or mission). It requires an atmosphere that enables growth. Third, you must grow your organization.

These three principles work in concert and cannot be ignored or reversed. If so, growth will not occur. Let’s consider why the first principle is such a crucial starting place.

Imagine a scenario where one of the senior student leaders of your Chi Alpha chapter becomes lethargic in his or her devotion to Jesus and their corresponding responsibilities. They appear disinterested in the cause, show up late to regular team meetings, and are lax in following through on agreed upon steps of action. What happens?

Morale could erode. The passion and focus on fall blitz follow-up efforts begins to drift. Younger student leaders wonder if they are allowed to act in such a manner. As go student leaders, so goes the Chi Alpha chapter. Knowing junior and senior student leaders set the tone and pace for what happens means you need the kind of people who will be “thermostats,” not merely thermometers.

Read Mark 4.

Jesus referred to four kinds of people who grow.

First, there are those who grow for the moment. They have no depth because circumstances tend to kill their growth. They appear to be ready to grow but still have “hard soil” in their hearts that needs to be tended.

Second, there are those who grow to the level of their emotions. They have no discipline yet. They appear to have such shallow soil of character that when emotion wears off and difficulties arise, there is not enough to build on.

Third, there are those who grow to the level of their circumstances. They have some commitment, but just enough to get out of their problem(s). There are too many “things” competing for their allegiance and they are not ready to clear away the clutter for the “better.”

Fourth, there are those who grow in their understanding and application of the words of Jesus. They have diligence. They hear the Word, embrace it, practice it, and reflect healthy growth.

All four kinds of people showed some growth, but most of the first three’s growth was unsustainable. Think theologically. Jesus said in John 15:5 that being a fruitful follower of His hinges on a growing nature. Abiding in Jesus leads to positive and demonstrative results.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – August 13

Here is your homework: Sit down and read the book of Ephesians in one sitting. Then jot down what you think are the primary concerns the apostle Paul wrote this letter.

According to Doctor Luke, author of the Book of Acts in the New Testament, Paul’s first visit to the city of Ephesus was brief – sort of checking it out. He later returned during his third missionary journey and spent over two years there. His ministry was effective and controversial.

Read Acts 18:18-22.

After 3 months in the synagogue, he was forced out and took up living in the lecture hall of Tyrannus (Acts 19:8-9). Paul probably worked as a tentmaker in the mornings and as a lecturer in the afternoons. News of his message spread throughout Asia Minor (Acts 19:10).

Extraordinary things happened: handkerchiefs touched by Paul were used to heal others (19:11-12); Demons were cast out in the name of Jesus – even by Jewish exorcists (19:13-17); Pagan converts burned their books of magic (19:18-20); Then a riot broke out in Ephesus over Paul. Demetrius, a silversmith, organized a city-wide protest, charging that Paul’s success posed a threat to the economic well-being of other craftsmen who made their living from the worshipers of Artemis (19:23-41). As a result, Paul moved on to Macedonia, and the church was firmly established in Ephesus. Paul never again visited Ephesus, but he stopped at the nearby port of Miletus on a return trip to Jerusalem. He called the elders of the Ephesian church to meet with him and he gave an emotional farewell (20:13-38). He later sent them a letter from prison.

In between the introductory greeting (1:1-2), and the concluding greetings (6:21-24) – both typical of a first century letter, Paul’s words fall into two distinct sections: Section 1(Chapters 1 to 3) focus on doctrine. Section 2(Chapters 4 to 6) focus on behavior. The ideas of section 1 can be summarized as the new life and community God created through Jesus. The ideas of section 2 can be summarized as the new standards of the new relationships expected of believers in Christ.

The tone of section 1 is that these are the facts of our new situation “in Christ.” This is what we must believeabout this Christian faith in light of this new reality. The tone of section 2 is what we must dowith the facts of our new situation “in Christ.” This is how we must live this Christian life in light of this new reality.

The emphasis throughout the book is on unity. In ch 1-3, Paul describes the great reconciling work of Christ, who through the cross overcame demonic powers (ch 1) and then broke down the wall between God and people (ch 2), and the wall between Jew and Gentile (2:11-22). In ch 3, Paul talks about God creating the church, a new social order of love and unity that transcends the racial, ethnic, and social distinctions between people. Then in ch 4-6, Paul exhorts us to unity via a series of imperatives – we are to live out this unity in our daily lives.

Grow devotionally. Meditate on Ephesians 1:3-14 for five minutes a day for the next three days. Work on memorizing those verses. Starting in v 4, what are seven things God has done for us? When did you come to appreciate all that God has done for you in Jesus? How does being adopted change your view of yourself and God? What does unity in diversity mean to you based on this letter? Rejoice that the cross of Christ leads to God’s new society of redeemed people.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – August 6

What is frightening about mission trips? What is exciting? Where does the courage come from to go on such adventures?

One mission trip I went on was to Haiti in the mid 1980’s. A dozen Ohio University students and I, along with a pastor friend from Athens, OH, went to help build a church and school. It was the first time out of the United States for many of the students and we faced reverse culture shock together.

It was uncomfortable not being able to communicate without a translator, feeling very inadequate in our attempts at speaking the native language, trying different foods, and staying in places without things we were used to (i.e., like electricity, and running water that was drinkable from the faucet). The large spiders though, took some getting used to. My size 12 boots took care of one spider on the wall one morning!

Seeing severe poverty across Haiti on our spring break trip was unsettling and sad. It affected all of us and caused many questions over meals. The local pastor and mission leaders told us that government corruption was a main contributing factor to their plight. Many countries like the U.S. had sent aid again and again only for the resources to be diverted into the pockets of unsavory government, gang, and underworld characters. The people of Haiti suffered as well from lousy educational systems, family breakdowns, poor moral choices, and a demonic atmosphere enhanced by witch doctors.

We had the privilege of speaking in churches, along with sharing testimonies of what the Lord had done in our lives. The Lord opened the door for us to minister to many men, women, and children, and even pastors, some of whom spoke some English.

Our female students ministered to female Haitians, while our male students did the same with the boys. In addition to playing lots of soccer with Haitian kids at the work sites, our students talked about Jesus, gave out Bibles, read stories, and tried to share the wonderful message of salvation. I was approached and challenged by a local witch doctor to stop our work effort, but I did my best with a translator to rebut his opposition because of the “blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony” (Revelation 12:11). Our church and school building projects continued, and the Haitian Christians were strengthened, all because the Lord answered our prayers.

Read Acts 13:1-12.

Many Haitians put their faith, hope, and trust in Jesus while we were there. They asked God to clean them, heal them, help them, and they accepted His eternal gift of grace and forgiveness. Pastors were encouraged to “stand firm” and continue in the work of the Lord because their labor in the Lord is not in vain.

God’s mysteries are great, but His hand of sovereign provision is remarkable. God took care of us while we went to Haiti to serve others. Have you considered giving up some of your creature comforts to work in another country over spring or summer break? Serve globally. God’s calls and expects us to serve others “hope” – in their darkness.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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