Monthly Archives: November 2019

Monday Motivator – November 25

When did you not understand the circumstances you were facing? What did you learn about yourself during, and after, the situation was resolved? What lesson(s) did you learn? What did you discover about God?

After living in Charlottesville, Virginia since the fall of 2011, I have been amazed at the wildlife I have encountered in central Virginia, and particularly, my neighborhood. Woodpeckers, bluebirds, cardinals, owls, deer, foxes, turtles, black snakes, a variety of spiders, and much more.

The city of Charlottesville and county of Albermarle have instituted appropriate habitats for the birds, animals, and plants that enrich the natural environment around here. The chirping of birds in the trees is a welcome sound each day, and their shifting patterns in the sky evoke awe and beauty. I have marveled at the nests birds have made in trees and even under my front deck.

I often sit on my front porch and listen to the sounds of nature, pausing to revel in God’s creation and care. I am reminded of Jesus’s words that our Father in heaven feeds the birds of the air and clothes the lilies of the field (Matthew 6:26-30). Jesus said that because of the Father’s great love towards His creation, why should we worry?

Jesus taught that there is Someone greater watching over us and providing for our well-being. If He provides for the birds, why would He not also provide for us, since we are so much more important to Him that they are? No matter where we are in the seasons of life, we can trust that God’s plan for us are being carried out. He will take care of us because He cares for us.

Read Romans 11:33-36.

The apostle Paul delivered an argument in chapters 9-11 of his letter to the Romans about how God’s righteousness towards Israel is vindicated. Paul wrote that God acted with justice towards Israel (9:1-29), he presented the cause of the rejection (9:30-10:21), he said the rejection is not total (11:1-10), or final (11:11-24), and that God’s ultimate purpose is mercy (11:25-36).

The last few verses of Romans 11 reflect Paul’s exaltation of God, where he acknowledges God’s wisdom and knowledge that enabled both Jews and Gentiles to experience His mercy, grace, and salvation. What a doxology (or short hymn of praise to God), concluding a theological presentation! Only God could prepare and execute a universal plan of salvation for all peoples.

So the next time you find yourself in a situation that seems to box you in without much hope and defy all logic for a solution, turn to God. He alone is the One whom you can look to for strength, guidance, and deliverance. Rather than worrying, look to the One that the birds look to. It may not make sense, but God’s wisdom and ways will prevail.

Paul wrote to remind the Christians in Rome, facing danger and persecution for their faithful ways, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God” (Romans 11:33). Rather than succumbing to worry, searching for answers in the wrong places, complaining that God is nowhere to be found, or doubting who He is, look for the nests of safety that He provides.

Think theologically. Our wisdom is not on par with God’s. The birds trust Him. You can too.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2019 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – November 18

I have marveled at the insertion of 1st Chronicles in the Old Testament. It is a fascinating journey into how God worked in the lives of His people. Topics such as patriarchs, captivity, Jerusalem, Saul, anointing, reign, ark, victory, covenant, and worship are covered through stories.

I noticed several themes that the author presents for our consideration. The first is the genealogy of David, which later points to Jesus (1:1-9:44 and Matthew 1:1); The second is that God gives us chances to influence others for their good (11:2); The third is that good intentions do not justify disobeying God’s laws (13:1-14); The fourth is we will face conflicts, and in spite of them, we need to make opportunities to worship and praise God (29:10-13); and the fifth is God has a plan and destiny for everyone (29:1-30).

Old Testament scholars ascribe the authorship of this book to Ezra, and 1st and 2nd Chronicles were originally one book. The title basically means, “the words of the day.” What is interesting about Chronicles is that it gives us an overview of Old Testament history from the creation of Adam to the Israelites heading into the Babylonian captivity. A brief outline looks like this:

  1. The storyline (or genealogy) from Adam to David (1:1-9:44).
  2. David is anointed the second King of Israel (10:1-12:40).
  3. David’s reign as King over Israel (13:1-29:22).
  4. David’s son, Solomon, replaces him as King (29:22-30).

Read 1st Chronicles 1:1-4, 28, 34, 2:1-2, and 9:1-2.

The list of names in the first nine chapters of the book can be a bit rigorous to read through. It is a long list of hard to pronounce names. Yet the names serve two vital and practical purposes.

First, genealogical lists were crucial to providing a framework through which the Hebrews could establish their family roots, legal inheritance, and through which religious purity could be practiced and guarded against outside sources seeking to weaken and impugn their identity.

The second purpose of the list of names was to categorize and reflect the providence of God’s design. The Israelites could remember that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph served as reminders of God’s dealings with them in the past and the hope He provided for their future, which included the Messiah.

While we often struggle in reading the names in the genealogical lists, the Hebrews read and remembered stories of God’s grace, love, mercy, care, discipline, and patience that were attached to those names. The stories gave evidence of God’s presence, power, and provision, and were markers of “Immanuel – God with us” and His faithfulness to His promises and His people.

As you consider your own family heritage, think of how it can be a positive foundation for generations to come. Identify markers in your family life that will illustrate God’s providence and purposes. How can knowing your family history give you a sense of identity, heritage, destiny, and hope? How do you want to be remembered?

Grow devotionally. Godly character is the heritage you hope to leave behind.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2019 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – November 11

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. Charles Parham gave his students at Bethel Bible School in Topeka, Kansas, an assignment just after Christmas in 1900. They were to search the Scriptures and determine if there was any way a person could know whether or not they had been baptized in the Holy Spirit. Just after midnight on January 1st, 1901, a college student named Agnes Ozman asked Parham to lay hands on her and pray that she would be filled with the Holy Spirit, and that she would speak in tongues as a result. He did and she did. That event launched the great Pentecostal revival of the early part of the 20thcentury that has swept the world in the last 100+ years. Today, a majority of people coming to faith in Christ are doing so in the context of a Spirit-filled Church.

Two. In 1951, businessman Bill Bright began  ministering to college students at UCLA. That began a movement known as Campus Crusade for Christ that has expanded far beyond the campus and been a powerful global mission effort. For example: They created and have shown a movie representation of the Gospel of Luke (i.e., called The JESUS Movie), to over 5 billion people in over 200 nations. Many believe it has been shown in every nation because of their global vision, teamwork, strategic planning, effective fund-raising, and the blessing of God.

Three. Our nation was founded in 1776. In the 1790’s, a poll conducted at Harvard, a college founded to train ministers, revealed not one believer in its student body. A similar poll at Princeton showed only two Christians. When the dean of the college opened the Chapel Bible one day, a pack of playing cards fell out, because students had cut out a hiding place for the cards. It was said that Christians were so few on the average campus that they met in secret because they were so intimidated. They even kept their minutes in code so no one could decipher their language and find out about their clandestine fellowship.

Around the same time, five non-Christian students began to meet for prayer at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia. They were so disgusted with the level of immorality around them that they held a secret prayer meeting to ask for God’s help. Other students found out about it and tried to break down the door! The college president heard the noise and came to see what the problem was. The students told him and these were his words, “You don’t mind cheating, stealing from one another’s room, lying, and the profanity you express on campus. But you object to a prayer meeting. Well, I do not!”

He then knocked on the door and said authoritatively, “This is the president of the college. Will you please come out?” The students unlocked the door and came out not knowing what to expect. President Smith said, “Gentlemen, come to my study and we will pray there together.”

That action sparked a revival on campus that resulted in half of the student body converting to follow Jesus and more importantly, was the beginning of the Second Great Awakening.

Serve globally. What can happen on a campus and beyond when Jesus gets a hold of a student, a college president, or a business leader? Local transformation leads to global impact.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2019 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – November 4

If you could have been born in another time and place, where might it be?

I appreciate history (Moses and the Hebrews leaving Egypt, David and Goliath), the story of St. Patrick, How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill, the birth of America, John Wesley, the Student Volunteer Movement, Lewis and Clark, the building of the transcontinental railroad in America, the Great Depressions stories of boxer Jim Braddock and the racehorse, Seabiscuit, the Wright Brothers, World War 2 stories about men like Louis Zamperini (who survived being a prisoner of war) and Norman Jack “Dusty” Kleiss, a decorated Navy dive-bomber. What about the era of civil rights in America in the 1950’s and 1960’s?

Have you ever found yourself thinking, “Wouldn’t it be great to have lived in the time of Jesus and the launch of the first century church?” Could you imagine being around and hearing about the salvation of Saul of Tarsus, who changed to his Roman name of Paul, after being transformed by meeting, accepting, and surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus? Paul was a persecutor of the church of Jesus, then became a preacher and missionary of the church of Jesus. All because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, and the sending and receiving of the Holy Spirit. Saul met Jesus and Saul had a personal transformation.

Can you imagine being there to see that story unfold? Could you handle the excitement of it?

Read 1 Timothy 1:8-9.

It would be exciting but sad and demoralizing, too. It started with the disciples deserting Jesus, him being arrested, tortured, and crucified. If you or I were there, we would have probably left Jesus too, knowing how feeble and fickle we are. As Jesus healed a sick person, would we have reacted like a Pharisee and say that was wrong, or would we rejoice in grateful appreciation for God’s power being released among the poor and hurting?

As Jesus lugged his wooden cross on bruised and bloody shoulders down a dusty road to the hill called Golgotha, awaiting his own death, what would we be doing? Shouting curses at him or weeping as a broken and confused disciple?

As Jesus’ cross is being raised amidst two deserving thieves, would we cast lots for his clothing, or fall down in grief due to a terrible injustice? After Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, would we be among the 120 gathered in an upper room, believing Him to be who He said He was? Or would we find ourselves among the many who followed Him for a while, but ultimately found the cost of the discipleship He presented too tough for us?

As we met Jesus after His resurrection, would we have been like Saul – antagonistic at first, arrogant in our thinking, aggressive in our worldview, comfortable in our own skin, low living, and self-preoccupied lifestyle? Or would we have been like Paul, saved by a dramatic encounter with Jesus? Paul later wrote to the Ephesian Christians (1:4) that by God’s grace, He chose him to be His child. Paul wrote in all of his New Testament letters that his salvation (and ours) is not about what we’ve done. It is just an undeniable and understandable response to gracious love.

Walk wisely. Salvation is all gift and grace.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2019 by Mike Olejarz

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