Monthly Archives: July 2019

Monday Motivator – July 29

How important do you think college ministry is?

I have served in college ministry since 1982. I believe reaching college students with the Person and message of Jesus is a critical endeavor worthy of the Church’s best efforts. Why? Jesus said to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). What better place to fulfill His Great Commission that the modern college and university campus? Here are three stories that will inform and inspire you to recognize the need and value of reaching tomorrow’s leaders today.

One. At the beginning of the 18thcentury, Nick was a college student at the University of Halle in Germany. He was a passionate follower of Jesus and he came to wield great influence with students. Nick went on to found a church called the Moravian Church, which sent out more missionaries in twenty years than all of the Protestant churches of Europe had in the previous two hundred. They initiated an around-the-clock prayer meeting for world missions that lasted for one hundred years without interruption. Nick’s slogan was: “I have one passion, and it is He, only He.” Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf was used by God to accomplish His purposes, and the origins of the Moravian movement are traced back to Nick’s days as a college student.

Two. In 1726, John was a college student at Oxford University in England. He was an apprentice of Jesus and John formed a group called the “Holy club” to study the Bible each week and reach out to the poor. They made a covenant to live their lives according to a strict set of rules (i.e., Bible study and memorization, prayer, holiness, personal evangelism, transparency, accountability, and care of the poor), carefully ordering their lives to give them maximum opportunities to serve and honor God. They were so disciplined that other students mocked their methodical lifestyles by calling them “Methodists.” Later, John and his brother Charles, along with fellow Holy club member George Whitfield, were instrumental in spreading the gospel to America, contributing to the First Great Awakening in American history. John Wesley was used by God to accomplish His purposes, and the origins of the Methodist revival and discipleship movement are traced back to John’s days as a college student. John was one of the first who made disciples who made disciples who made disciples in the modern era of missions. To put it in a Chi Alpha Discipleship by Design context, George Whitfield was gifted by God as a super-evangelist, while John Wesley was the faithful discipler.

Three. On a hot and humid Saturday afternoon in August 1806, Samuel (a freshman at Williams College in northwest Williamstown, MA) and four other students gathered in a maple grove of Sloan’s Meadow along the Hoosack River for a twice-a-week prayer meeting. A heavy rain suddenly drove the students into a nearby haystack, where Samuel shared his growing passion that the message of Jesus be taken all around the world. While they prayed, God showed up. Their prayer meeting and deliberate follow-up efforts resulted in the emergence of the first missionary movement outside of America. Every subsequent mission movement in North America (including the birth of Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship) can trace its roots to the Haystack Prayer meeting of 1806. Their motto became: “We can do it if we will.” Samuel J. Mills was used by God to accomplish His purposes, and the origins of the early 19thcentury global mission movement are traced back to Samuel’s days as a college student.

Serve globally. Nick, John, and Samuel were college students at one time. What can happen on a campus when Jesus gets a hold of a student? Local transformation leads to global impact.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2019 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – July 22

Who looks, dresses, acts, and talks different from you? What should your first strategy be for telling that person about Jesus?

Two college-age tough looking guys approached our info table on campus. One of my students remarked that he thought they had trouble on their minds. Really, I asked? Is that a word of knowledge, a gut instinct, and/or a premonition? I added, “Don’t worry, it’ll be all right.”

We were out on campus offering free cold bottles of water and homemade cookies to students passing by in order to engage them in conversation about Jesus. These two young men wore leather jackets and bandanas covered with skulls and crossbones as they made their way towards us. It seemed they wanted to show these Christians (me and two guys) that there was something to fear as they reached our table: Them!

But we did not respond as the two unshaven and burly young men thought we might. I stepped out in front of them as they approached our table, extended my hand and said, “Hi, my name is Mike, who are you?” To my student’s surprise, they answered. We offered them a bottle of water and choice of cookie from a large platter (Thanks Costco!), and I asked a second question, “Where are you from?” and a third, “What did you do for fun growing up there?”

The guys relaxed, started answering my questions, and soon these visitors were enjoying our warm, friendly welcome (and snacks) as we engaged them in meaningful conversation. They said they were challenged by a friend in their dorm to come by our table and seek to intimidate us. They said they were surprised by my reception, not to mention that when I stood up and met them in front of the table, that I was bigger than both of them. They added that my questions disarmed them, the cookies were great, so they hung around long enough for me to ask them about their spiritual journey. That led to a follow-up conversation the next day, a chance to share the gospel with them, and one them deciding to trust Jesus as his Savior. It also led to the launch of a three-week investigative Bible study they agreed to host in their dorm room, which they invited their friends to. The other guy received salvation at the end of the three weeks.

Think about it. My students and I and the two tough-appearing students were different from each other. While my two students were foreign born, the two tough guys were Americans. Except for me, the four guys were all college students, and we had a few critical differences. My students were Christians, while the other two had no spiritual practices or heritage. Before our interaction, they were walking in darkness and death, while my students and I were walking in the light and shining the light of Jesus out toward others. But the cultural divide was crossed with a smile, some friendly initiative, cookies, cold water, patience, and nonjudgmental love.

Read Mark 2:13-17.

Look around at the people you have contact with, some or many of whom are far from Jesus. How can you show them unconditional, unquestioning love? What are some out-of-your-comfort-zone opportunities you can take to reach others with the message and person of Jesus?

Walk wisely. Cross the divide. Take Jesus into the campus culture where you are – even if it is different from what you are used to. The cross of Jesus knows no cultural barriers.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2019 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – July 15

Have recent events changed your attitudes toward and behavior about being an American?

The United States of America was born on July 4, 1776. Some say that the country was re-born when Lewis and Clark attempted to find a passageway to the Pacific Ocean. Or when the Civil War led to the dissolution of slavery. Or when women were allowed to vote. Or when we contributed to the winning of World War I and II. Or when we put a man on the moon. Or when we were attacked on September 11, 2001.

Do you own a U.S. Flag and put it out on national holidays? Do you know all of the words to “God Bless America?” What are some things about your country that you are thankful for?

We all experience times and seasons when our love of country is tested. I remember where I was on 9/11 and the tension, fear, anger, loss and pain many Americans felt was we dealt with the horrific images and consequences of 9/11. Many wondered if America would rebound from such a tragedy. Some asked if children would be able to grow to adults with honor and pride in their country?

Yet young people by the thousands volunteered for charitable activities and military service. Some just had the “thing” that you are supposed to have inside you. Others stumbled into it in the process of wanting to “do something, anything…” that would address the ache they carried.

The dictionary definition of “patriotism” is “love for or devotion to one’s country.” Of course, if you are a lover of God, you are on the right track and actually ahead of the pack.

One thing that is great about America is the freedom to openly worship God, or not. While not widely reported in the modern media, Christians in many countries around the world are routinely arrested, beaten, imprisoned, and killed merely for being followers of Jesus. It is hard to imagine worse responses towards Christians when they are actively talking about Jesus and trying to persuade others to consider the person and claims of Jesus.

The founders of America linked their patriotism to their belief in the Creator. They declared “all men were created equal” and that the Creator had endowed all men and women with “certain, unalienable rights such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Each time we pledge allegiance to the flag, we affirm and recognize that the United States is “one nation, under God.”

Read Psalm 33.

In verse 12, the author writes, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” How can you emulate the lifestyle outlined in Psalm 33, where followers of the King are described?

What does patriotism look like in your life? I hope you will learn more about how America was founded and formed. Why did God place you here at this time? How can you and your generation make this a place where God is honored? It is okay to love God and country.

Live communally. How can we pray for America? How can we model gratefulness? What can we do to make God more famous here? God blesses America as we bless and honor Him.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2019 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – July 8

White space, or margin, is tough for some of us.

For good or bad, we live in a “doer” culture, that is characterized by slogans such as, “Live life to the fullest,” “Just do it,” and “If you want something done, ask a busy person…the other people do not have time.”

It is interesting that some of us measure the value of our lives based on our accomplishments. If we are working hard and hitting our daily-weekly-monthly marks, we are doing well. Yet if we fill our days with nonstop tasks and constant activity, we may be susceptible to believing this gives our lives more meaning.

In a fast-paced world, we may feel alone and in danger of becoming irrelevant if we are not doing something active or Carpe Diem, “seizing the day.” Could we be missing out on life? Should this sort of perspective characterize or define our lives as followers of Jesus?

Read Psalm 46:10.

What determines a good day for you? In Psalm 46:10, God says to, “Be still and know that I am God.” Making time to be alone with God, and in silence, is one of the best opportunities we have to seek God and meditate on His Word. It is the epitome of quiet time.

Whenever we are alone, we give ourselves the chance, or the opportunity, to avoid becoming anxious about life. Since we put value on our relationship with God, having time to meet with God centers us as we slow down to connect with our heavenly Father. We find comfort as we huddle with God and His presence has a way of reminding us we are in good hands. Nothing can get to us while we are with Him. Whatever may be on our mind can be released because we are in and under His protective care.

Like the author of Philippians 4:5b-7 asserts, “The Lord is near.” Do not be anxious about anything, but whatever is on our to-do-list should be given over to God and His peace will once again help us slow down and find peace, and a respite from the demands of life. That peace will “guard” our hearts and minds in Christ. What an image!

We all battle being trapped in a never-ending struggle to deal with the events of day-to-day life. How do we deal with the trials, tribulations, and difficulties of life? Jesus models that it is okay to work hard and pray hard, but then take a break and step back from activity. As children of grace, we know that God gave us life so we can have a meaningful relationship with Him. He also gave us His Word to aid in dealing with all of the challenges we would face.

There is nothing wrong with working hard, being active, and being diligent with our various responsibilities. The challenge is to find rhythm in work, play, study, and rest. It is one reason God gave us the commandment of sabbath.

What does being still and knowing God mean to you? How and when do you become still before God? The next time you choose to be alone with God, remind yourself it will be time well spent. Think theologically. Embrace silence and solitude. Enjoy the moment by being still.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2019 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – July 1

Devotion is defined in Webster’s Dictionary: a feeling of strong love or loyalty; the quality of being devoted; the use of time, money, energy, etc., for a particular purpose; prayer, worship, or other religious activities that are done in private rather than in a religious service.

Webster’s adds the use of devotion can be seen as “his or her courage and devotion to duty never wavered.” Synonyms include: faithfulness, fidelity, affection, constancy, and closeness.

Another way to consider devotion is in relation to our religious observance. “The aim of Chi Alpha missionaries is to live a life of devotion.” That kind of life should be practiced with piety, sanctity, and devotedness.

I had a seminary professor who talked to our class one day about the concept of slow-grow. He presented the idea that God calls us out of darkness into the Light of His Kingdom. Growth into Christ-likeness requires light, good soil, water, a host of nutrients, and regular care-taking. The idea of real devotion is it is our responsibility to cooperate with God in our own growth so we can attain the maturity He designed us for. Growth is slow and steady. It is our journey’s end.

The apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians (chapter 4:14-16) and said, “No prolonged infancies among us, please. We’ll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.”

Read Mark 1:35.

Jesus shows us from His own life how he cultivated a life of devotion. Amidst a busy season of ministry, He regularly pulled away from various tasks awaiting him to be alone with the Father. He shows us the necessity of silence and solitude in order to recharge and replenish Himself. Jesus enjoyed the closeness of being with His Father. We should too.

The apostle Paul faced some pretty nasty conditions. Shipwrecks, flogging, no sleep, little food (see more in 2 Corinthians 11:22-28). He did not have an easy life. Yet Paul thrived. He learned a lot through the difficulties that he encountered. His life and words became enriched in the understanding of God and His ways. Paul’s faith deepened and trust abounded because he stayed devoted to Jesus even in tough times. Paul realized that there was much to learn from the suffering, silence, and solitude that came from hardship.

We will grow up in Christ not only through our consistent and dedicated efforts to get alone with God, but also as we submit to His processes. As we, like Paul, face the harsh winds and bitter events of life, we can emerge more like Jesus. He learned obedience through suffering. As we persevere through tough times by trusting in God, our faith and character will deepen and mature and our life will be enriched.

Grow devotionally. Purpose to grow steadily in the midst of life’s often harsh conditions by constantly putting yourself in place and space to be with God. Slow-grow is for the devoted.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2019 by Mike Olejarz

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