Monthly Archives: September 2019

Monday Motivator – September 30

Being on a college campus can be an illuminating experience. Walk into the student center on any given day and you can be overwhelmed with information tables representing various student organizations, volunteer opportunities, even job recruiting options.

Buy clothing from a minority business started by students and you can upgrade your fashion look. Make a donation to a rescue operation for animals and help a local shelter find homes for these dogs and cats. Are you interested in raising funds for a student organization partnering with the Red Cross to help victims of a recent disaster? How about signing up to be a Big Brother or Big Sister and tutoring kids in after school programs near campus?

There are a lot of worthwhile charities that you come across on campus that student groups start and/or partner with. The idea of giving back is a good investment of your time and resources, and it may even contribute to the development of your resume.

Yet our culture is inundated with lots of calls for our time and investment. Last week, I started getting calls on my cell phone from a Chinese (I think) company in New York City, which I could not understand, since I do not speak that language. Who knows what they were asking?

Then a call came from a local charity asking for a generous contribution to their annual fund drive. A computer voice offered me a two-day, two-night vacation at a time share (in a location of my choice) for a gift of more than $300.00.

I decided to call the toll-free number to get my number added to a national no-call list. I have gotten less calls of late, which leads me to greater silence and peace, especially after dinner.

It is okay to work on margin in your life and reduce the number of phone calls you get each week from telemarketers. It is also okay to not have to respond to every invitation you see on campus when you pass through the student center.

We do, however, need to be careful about not blocking calls from God. In our concern to block out unwanted interruptions, we need to avoid the mistake of missing a call from God. If we have not heard from God lately, it may be because we have let Him know we are not as interested in hearing from Him. Have you put yourself on a no-call list?

Read Jeremiah 4:3-10.

Jeremiah lived in Judah’s most troubled times. Yet he made himself stay connected to God and kept the line of communication open. For years, he faithfully relayed the messages the Lord had given him for the Israelites. When the “word of the Lord” came to Jeremiah (1:4-10), he passed on the message in obedience.

Have you heard from the Lord (via your Bible reading and/or study, or a sermon), and He is urging you to do some act of kindness, be a witness to a classmate, or give extra in the offering? What might be some indication that you need to sharpen your antenna to better hear God?

Walk wisely. Hearing from God is our lifeline to flourishing. Keep your ears open and listen.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2019 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – September 23

Who are you helping to get established in their faith journey?

I learned the value of helping someone get grounded in their relationship with Jesus after meeting with Andy Puleo, the director of the Navigators at Ohio University when I first started in campus ministry. Andy showed me “The Wheel illustration,” which served as an image of what we are striving for in helping students become obedient Christians. The hub of the wheel is Christ, which refers to the aim of our discipleship, to see men and women become Christ-like.

The four spokes are the Word, prayer, fellowship, and witness. We need to help young converts learn to hear, read, study, memorize, and meditate on God’s Word regularly. Then we respond to God in prayer. We need to model and instruct young believers how to cultivate healthy, mutually supportive relationships, and be a witness to their friends of who Jesus is.

I have read that when employees were asked what makes a good apprentice, they answered they wanted, “someone who wants to learn.” Other answers included, “qualities like patience, working hard, taking initiative, dedication, perseverance, and having diverse skills.”

Read Joshua 1:1-7.

When I think of good apprentices that are mentioned in Scripture, I think of Joshua, who trained and served under Moses. Joshua’s march around Jericho is a famous story many remember because of the circumstances before and after. But Joshua also had some significant responsibilities as a warrior (Exodus 17:10), and as an advance scout (Numbers 13:16).

Joshua served for 40 years under the leadership and tutelage of Moses. He was a trusted aide, assistant, and apprentice (Exodus 24:13). Did you catch what I just said? 40 years!

God often takes a lot of time to prepare men and women for transformational leadership in His Kingdom. Sometimes a period of waiting is as valuable as learning disciplines, strategies, and reaching goals to lead others towards. My guess is Joshua became a better leader because he had the chance to shadow Moses and learn from his example, mistakes, failures, and triumphs.

He saw Moses lose his temper (Numbers 20:7-12). Joshua observed Moses growing faith and dependence on God, when for example, Moses learned about humility (Numbers 12:3). Joshua was watching when Moses learned how to take instructions from another in authority (Exodus 17:10). Joshua took notes about how to be a true servant of God (Joshua 1:1, 24:29), and benefitted from so much access to Moses’ life and friendship. He observed, absorbed, and learned how to know and serve God. What a mutually beneficial relationship they shared.

Ultimately, Joshua’s own time of service and leadership was coming. When that time came, he showed that he had been paying attention all along. Joshua learned from Moses that he could trust God’s promise to him. “As I was with Moses, so will I be with you” (Joshua 1:5).

Live communally. Are you in the role of an apprentice right now? What lesson can you learn from Joshua? Are you investing in another person? What can you learn from Moses? Today’s lessons prepare you for service tomorrow. Pay attention and do your best to be ready.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2019 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – September 16

I have benefitted from the investment of many in my life as an apprentice of Jesus.

Rich Clay, Doug Smith, John Palmer, David Fisher, Tom Riffe, and many friends at New Life Assembly of God in Athens, OH contributed to me getting off to a good start as a growing disciple of Jesus. David Olshine, Keith Wasserman, and many friends at Central Avenue United Methodist Church in Athens also helped me grow up in Christ and become a faithful follower and disciple-maker. Andy Puleo, director of the Navigators helped me learn and practice valuable transferable concepts like The Wheel, the Hand, and scripture memory.

Paul Little, a campus evangelist with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship introduced me to learning and answering basic questions many outside Christian faith were asking. Two of his books, “How to Give Away Your Faith,” and “Know Why You Believe,” were instrumental in helping me answer key questions like: Is There a God? Is Christianity Rational? Is Christ God? Is He the only Way to God? Did Christ Rise from the Dead? Are the Bible Documents Reliable? How can Miracles be Possible? And Why Does God Allow Evil and Suffering?

Read 1 Peter 3:15.

Being able to answer those fundamental questions is still a necessity for Christians. It also contributes to their ability to help those considering putting their faith, hope and trust in King Jesus to be able to find suitable answers.

But I have learned from the example of Jesus and Paul in Scripture that people and culture change. We need to know what people are asking in order to point them to the way, the truth, and the life that Jesus provides. Rick Richardson, another InterVarsity colleague has helped me be aware of questions people are asking that are tougher because they require a longer process of establishing trust with someone outside looking at faith.

Questions like: Why are Christians imposing their beliefs on others? (a question about power and motive); Doesn’t the Church legitimate certain hierarchical structures in culture and society (i.e., gender, racial, educational, etc.)? Why do I hurt? Why is there so much pain and violence in our community? Why should I trust you? How can I trust anyone associated with a Church that has done so many terrible things in the name of Christ? Why is there so much hypocrisy in the Church? Does your belief transform lives? Does it make any difference?

I continue to learn that connecting with people around me demands I ask more questions about them, their situation, what questions they are asking, how they arrived at the conclusions they currently have, and/or the objections to faith they are wrestling with.

I need to be a better listener and avoid the stereotypes a person away from Christ may have already formed about me. It requires me to have “thick skin” and a “soft heart” so I am not easily offended by a person’s initial response to my inquiry about their faith journey.

Think theologically. Know what you believe and why. Cultivate a love of people and of their hard questions. The gospel is exclusive, but my intent is to build bridges to people in order for them to find answers to their questions as we journey together forward in life. Pay it forward.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2019 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – September 9

What help do you need from God?

I saw a few minutes of James Cameron’s epic movie, “Titanic,” recently. The music by Celine Dion is one thing that captures my interest, along with the historic tale of 1912. I always find myself watching a few minutes of Titanic when I come across it on TV, especially the end of the movie when so much is at stake.

The captain orders the communication specialist to send out a “Mayday,” a desperate call for help. This radio signal word is the international message of distress, of grave and imminent danger. Anyone hearing the mayday call knows that someone is in serious trouble and may not survive without some immediate intervention. Sadly, no one was able to respond as quickly as those on the Titanic needed. An estimated 1,517 people (832 passengers and 685 crew) perished in the disaster.

Read Psalm 40.

The author David, pens a song, a prayer for help when troubles emerge and seek to overwhelm him. He does not specify the causes of distress, but David suggests they are a result of his sin (verse 12). They seem to be intensified by the gloating of his enemies. Yet David begins the prayer by praising God for His past mercies (verses 1-5), and includes a testimony of his own faithfulness to God (verses 6-10.

Then we come to his cry for help in verses 11-17. David appears to be sinking below the waves of trouble. On the one hand he is suffering from his own disobedience to God (verse 12: My sins have overtaken me and I cannot see). One another he is afraid for his safety (verse 14: May all who seek my life be put to shame and confusion). In both cases he pleads with God for immediate rescue (verse 13 and 17: O Lord, come quickly to help me…O my God, do not delay).

If we are honest, some of the desperate situations we find ourselves in are a result of our own choice and action. But some are not. Even if our mistakes and utter disobedience put us in dire straits, we can still turn to the Lord for help.

It is difficult to imagine a person resisting rescue after calling for help. Yet I can think of a few times when I refused to accept God’s terms of having to yield to Him in order to be lifted out of the mess I was in. How about you?

The key to being rescued when danger is threatening and our need is evident, is if we will pursue God’s plan to walk in His ways. Like the psalmist David in verse 11, we need to pray, “O Lord, do not withhold Your mercy from me. May Your love and Your truth always protect me.”

Keep in mind that we often look to God for immediate rescue, and God is capable of that. But He also wants us to depend on Him to be our help and deliverer as we seek after Him every day.

The word “Mayday” essentially means, “help me.” Grow devotionally. Psalm 40:11-17 is a spiritual Mayday. When we cry out to God for His help each day, expect Him to respond as we yield to His way. Trusting God for help and obedience to Him are equal parts of being rescued.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2019 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – September 2

How important is college ministry to the fulfillment of Jesus’ Great Commission?

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 than 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. A college student named Royal G. Wilder had been influenced by the Haystack Prayer Meeting of 1806, and sailed to India in 1846 to serve in missions for 30 years. Royal returned to New Jersey in 1877 due to poor health. His son, Robert P. Wilder, born in India while his parents served as missionaries, enrolled at Princeton College (New Jersey) is 1881. In the fall of 1883, Royal and two of his friends heard Dr. A.J. Gordon speak in Hartford, CT about the work of God. Royal wrote, “The three of us returned to Princeton inspired to first, pray and work for revival in our college, and second, stir up missionary interest.” They met daily at noon for prayer. As a result, the Princeton Foreign Missionary Society was formed on campus. This group met on Sunday afternoons in the Wilder home to pray for missions. During the school year of 1885-1886, Royal and his sister, Grace, prayed together for “a widespread missionary movement in the colleges and universities of America.” God used Royal and Grace and their college friends to accomplish His purposes at Princeton and beyond.

Two. In the summer of 1885, Luther Wishard, National Director of the YMCA, persuaded the evangelist, Dwight L. Moody to plan a summer Bible Study conference for college students. In 1886, Dwight L. Moody hosted a month-long retreat for students at his school in Mt. Hermon, MA. 251 college students attended and a strong world missions awareness grew among the participants to take the gospel of Jesus around the world. By the end of the conference, 100 of the 251 students signed a declaration stating, “We, the undersigned, declare ourselves willing and desirous, God permitting, to go to the unevangelized portions of the world.” Their pledge became a watchword for them: “The evangelization of the world in this generation.” This was the beginning of the Student Volunteer Movement. While not students, Luther Wishard and D.L. Moody were used by God to accomplish His purposes, and the origins of the Student Volunteer Movement (SVM) are traced back to the 1886 Mt. Hermon conference.

Three. Two Princeton students, Robert Wilder and John Forman, were mobilized at the end of the 1886 Mt. Hermon conference to go on a nationwide speaking tour of American college campuses, recruiting for missions. Wilder and Forman traveled to over 160 colleges in 1886-1887. They passed on the Student Volunteer Movement (SVM) watchword, “The evangelization of the world in this generation,” adding that, “all should go, and go to all.” A businessman underwrote the cost of the nationwide tour. One result of the SVM’s influence was that by the time of World War I, 12,000 student volunteers had left America and went overseas. God used Royal and John, the Student Volunteer Movement, and business leaders to accomplish His purposes.

Serve globally. Royal, Robert, and Grace Wilder, and John Forman were college students at one time. Wishard, Moody, and business leaders resourced them. What can happen on a campus and beyond 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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