Monthly Archives: January 2020

Monday Motivator – January 27

Do you agree with the statement that “words are powerful?”

I learned growing up that my parents’ words meant something. As the oldest of four, I discovered that I needed to pay attention to the “rules of the house.” My parents were serious about things like, “We respect one another,” “Never raise your voice to mom (or dad),” “Do your chores,” and, “love one another.” Words meant something in our home. Words had meaning. Words had power. Words had consequences.

Barbara and I are enjoying a book by James Bryan Smith, entitled, “Hidden in Christ: Living as God’s Beloved.” It is a 2013 Formatio book from InterVarsity Press that follows the rich tradition of the church in the journey of spiritual formation. These kinds of books have contributed to my personal transformation by Jesus and helped conform me to His image.

Read Colossians 3:1-17.

Barbara and I have been enriched by reading, studying, and memorizing the third chapter of Colossians. We have gained a deeper sense of the meaning of each word. Each of the thirty short chapters in Smith’s book brings out the main truth of one word or phrase in this rich passage. This book continues to be a rich resource for understanding what it means to have our lives hidden in Christ. We have experienced a deeper gratitude to God and a more solid confidence in who we are in Christ.

Here is a sampling of the thirty words covered in the chapters:

Raised, With, Seated, Set, Hidden, Life, Revealed, You, Mortify, Bodies, Desires, Wrath, Walk, Once, Mouth, Clothes, Knowledge, All, Chosen, Beloved, Bear, Forgive, Love, Peace, Thankful, Word, Teach, Sing, Whatever, and Name.

A few questions to ponder:

Where did Paul tell the Colossians to turn their attention and focus to (v 1-2)?

What seemed to be the security base for the Colossians (v 3)?

Why should followers of Jesus look forward to His return (v 4)?

What must die (v 5)?

Why is God’s wrath coming (v 5-6)?

What had the Colossians taken off (v 7-9)?

What had they put on (v 10)?

What distinctions are removed because of Jesus (v 11)?

What are followers of Jesus called to clothe themselves with (v 12-17)? Why?

I believe words do matter. I have come to love the words in Colossians 3 because they have begun to yield in me a deeper understanding of what it means to be an apprentice of Jesus.

If you spend some time in chapter three of Colossians, you will be reminded of God’s expectations of holy living. Which of God’s rules (or holy habits) do you need to apply to your life this week? What earthly clothing do you need to get rid of? How should God’s people be clothed? Why should how you are dressed affect the way you live your daily life as a believer in Christ?

Grow devotionally. Use Colossians 3:1-17 as a companion to live as God’s Beloved.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2020 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – January 20

I went to the hospital for my weekly rounds. My pastor had invited me to learn a new kind of pastoral care to deepen my experience as a young campus minister. The hospital staff was always on the lookout for clergy who would be available to offer prayer, care, and a listening ear for patients who may want to speak with someone for spiritual support, even though they may not have any denominational affiliation.

As a credentialed minister, I was welcomed into a brief training regimen, then released to serve a few shifts a week. Being on call meant I would show up for 3 hours at a time and simply be available. Clergy like me would report to the main nurses’ station upon our arrival so they knew who was around during that time period. If they had a patient who would like to see a minister, I would be directed to their room. If not, I could sit in the main chapel and read, pray, and wait to be called. Often, I would walk to and from several floors of the hospital, greeting the nurses at various stations, making small talk, and inquiring whether any one needed some pastoral encouragement. I also asked them how I might serve and assist them in their own processing of dealing with sick and troubled people under their care.

I was on call once and asked to sit with a man who had been admitted after being accidentally struck by a car after stumbling into the street. John had been drunk, living on the streets after leaving his wife after an argument, too proud to go home, apologize for his contribution to the fight, and he was stubborn. His broken leg was healing but not enough to release him yet.

On another occasion, I was asked by a nurse to visit with Bruce, a college drop-out who had AIDS. None of his family had come to see him since he was hospitalized over six months ago. He was watching TV when I stopped by and knocked on his door. Bruce was surprised to have a visitor. I mentioned a nurse asked me to stop by and wondered if wanted to talk. He said yes, saying it had been so long since he had talked with anyone besides hospital personnel. I asked him where he was from, what it was like growing up there, and what he did for fun as a kid. Bruce answered and I thought we were off to a good start.

I asked about his spiritual background and he said had not gone to church for a long time. He added that no one from any church had stopped by before I did that day. He wondered if it was because he had AIDS. He was glad though, that I was there that day and asked if I would come back. I asked about his family and he replied his parents were disappointed in him from dropping out of college and getting sick. He said his two brothers were still angry with him about getting a sexually transmitted disease and they would not come by for fear of getting AIDS themselves. Bruce said the toughest thing was dealing with the loneliness he felt. No one seemed to care. No one came by just to be with him. After an hour I had to go. Bruce asked me to come back and I said I would next week. I asked if I could pray for him and he said yes. I asked if we could hold hands and he said yes. Bruce died two months later.

Read Proverbs 19:7 and 21:13.

I was reading through Proverbs in my daily routines at the time and came across these verses that caught my attention. First, it said how a poor man is shunned by his relatives, and second, if a man shuts his ears to the poor, he too will cry out and not be heard.

Why are some aspects of following God easier than others? As I reflected on my visits with Bruce, I wondered why some of us avoid helping people in need? Is it just fear?

Serve globally. We must not ignore a poor person’s cry for help. Faith is spelled R-I-S-K.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2020 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – January 13

My pastor is a skilled communicator. One area that he addresses regularly is the connection between faith and money. He says he does so because Jesus spoke about money so much (as do the Old and New Testament writers).

My pastor says money can be a pain some times because it reveals so much about our heart. Money can contribute to us being angry, stingy, sad, uncomfortable, nervous, worried, too comfortable, and even happy.

Men and women are all over the place when it comes to finances, money, stewardship, and cash. But it is apparent that it is often a heart issue. I know I get agitated when I read of an athlete or entertainer who had millions and squandered it on impulse-driven activities, poor management, or even selfish pursuits. Wasteful, even.

Yet how many of rejoice when a birthday card comes and a relative stuck a $20 bill inside? Or a friend surprises us by taking us out for a meal? Or someone covers a debt of ours?

A college student stopped by to see my neighbor recently in the fanciest car I had ever seen. This fellow is a junior at the University of Virginia and had been hosted by my neighbor as a foreign exchange student for a few years while in high school. I thought that selling that car could cover my missionary budget for the next 4 years.

Does it make you sad, or even angry when a friend has enough money to purchase stuff, or do things that you would like to, but you cannot afford to?

Money does have the ability at times to appear to be in control (too much at times), of our lives. Are we guilty of hoarding our financial resources? Are we practicing basic financial stewardship of tithing on our income, making a faith promise to missions, saving for the future, giving offerings as requested, and living within our means?

Do you allow money to dictate your emotional steadiness? Do you put more effort into acquiring money than building mutually-beneficial relationships? Do you believe it is better to give than receive? Are you more concerned about what you don’t have, as opposed to how your standard of living is guiding you, and how others-centered your stewardship actually is?

Read Acts 20:32-35.

Why do you believe it is better to give than receive?

The New Testament writers present the idea that we need a proper appreciation of money in order to handle it wisely and generously. They teach that using money for others will benefit them more than merely using it on ourselves. It shifts our focus to help those who don’t have enough instead of coveting what others have. It reminds us to loosen the grip money can have on us when we give it away. It can prompt us to remember that merely accumulating wealth cannot, and is not, the key to happiness. Jesus says being blessed results from giving it away.

What are some ways you can change your money habits so you can provide more for others? What have you done recently that suggests you believe it is better to give than receive?

Walk wisely. If you are looking for monetary freedom, use your financial resources wisely and be a generous giver. Giving away money is the route to stewardship and happiness.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2020 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – January 6

Who has shown you unexpected compassion? How did that make you feel?

I enjoy hearing people’s stories when they describe how the kindness of others makes such a difference.

I read a story about a family whose mother was battling cancer. The family’s doctor had tried several treatments, hoping to make the woman’s life more bearable. But she rarely responded to treatment in the expected ways, and sadly, she passed away.

Another family traveled in and out of state to find solutions to a life-threatening illness for John, the dad. They were out of state, waiting in a hospital room when their neighbors, Jim and Susie showed up. They had driven all night to be with them the next day.

Later that day, Jerry and Brad, two men John had met at a men’s prayer breakfast, showed up. The two men were Christians and drove out of state to support John and his family. They hoped to pray for John’s healing as he awaited another possible surgery. John had attended two men’s prayer breakfast’s in the previous few months and was shocked to see Jerry and Brad walk into his room. John was not much of a spiritual person yet and while he enjoyed the breakfast conversations, he had yet to accept the divinity of Jesus. He had an interest in believing in God, and was grateful for his new-found friends being there.

As they waited, John’s daughter Terri confronted Jerry and Brad about their faith. She said, “I have a problem with your Christianity, because I am not convinced you are sincere. The people I know who claim to know God have not convinced me they walk what they talk.”

Before Jerry or Brad could respond, John interrupted his daughter saying, “Listen honey, you need to reconsider your values. I only met these guys a few weeks ago. The fact that they drove 12 hours out of state just to be with us is Christianity in action.”

It was a couple of simple acts of kindness. Two neighbors and two men were willing to drive long hours and that spoke volumes to John and his wife. It was a real encouragement to a man who had recently been investigating faith in God and what that might mean to him at a troubling time of his life.

Reads Mark 1:40-45.

As followers of Jesus, we have been shown compassion by Jesus, and we have responsibility to show compassion to others, again, just like Jesus did. It is an example that Jesus gave us as “he went around doing good” (Acts 10:38). When the man with leprosy approached Jesus, He was filled with compassion and healed him (Mark 1:41). Additionally, Jesus restored sight to the blind, fed the hungry, healed the sick, and extended forgiveness to many. He did not merely feel sorry for people – he acted.

For some of us, compassion must be more than a feeling of pity. It must be more than saying, “I’ll pray for you,” then never really do it. It must be more than appearances of piety, but demonstrations of service, care, and giving. It is the combination of words and deeds.

Live communally. Real and true compassion is bound together with love and it should move us to action. Love needs to be an action verb, if it is Jesus-style love. To whom can you show the love and compassion of God this week?

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2020 by Mike Olejarz

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