Monthly Archives: June 2020

Monday Motivator – June 29

What is a servant’s heart? How do you know if you have one?

I grew up playing hockey in Detroit, Michigan. Ponds and rinks were fabulous places to skate, pass the puck, enjoy the speed, back and forth, and pressure of a good game between teams on a swift sheet of ice.

Even after college and all most to my 60’s, I played in men hockey leagues and enjoyed it every week. Years ago in Boston I blocked a slap shot one night from an opponent with my foot (my goalie was grateful), and I could not skate anymore. X-rays showed a break and I was on crutches before and after surgery. This affected me in a big way, since we lived in a four-story walk-up in a building with no elevator. I was essentially helpless.

I could not walk, get around our home, barely take a shower, and was out of work for a while. But my wife took care of me. Our kids pitched in too, but full credit to Barbara who literally did everything for me.

Her attitude and actions in waiting on me every day were sterling. I never detected an ounce of anger or resentment toward me for having to sit around so much for so long. She still worked full time, but she put a lot of her life on hold to take care of me with meals, helping me rest, and attending to whatever I needed. Reflecting on Barbara’s care that season caused me to realize what being a servant of Jesus really looked like. I was astounded by her day-to-day love and support as she nursed me back to health before and after the surgery.

Read Philippians 2:1-7.

The apostle Paul has taught me that when we choose to serve and follow King Jesus, we need to remain open to whatever He calls to do on His behalf. He wants us to be His hands and feet and step into the opportunities He may present to us. It may be a roommate who needs help with a project, or a colleague who needs some attention, appreciation, or affirmation.

My folks always said one way to honor them was to keep my room clean and my checkbook balanced. Those practices would honor the Lord, too. God may at times ask us to do something that we would rather not do. Yet it is in those moments when He can work most effectively through us.

I realized through my hockey injury that if Jesus were here with me, He would have done just what Barbara did. He would have waited on me hand-and-foot every day with a joy-filled heart. Consider a quick review of what Paul said in the first few verses of chapter 2 of Philippians: “do nothing out of selfish ambition…consider others better than yourselves…look to the interests of others…your attitude should be the same as Jesus’…taking the very nature of a servant.”

What opportunities has God given you to serve Him by attending to others? How do you respond? With a willingness to serve from a joyful heart or a Grinch-like bad attitude? The reality is how we live is actually an audition for the next life. Will God be able to say to you and me one day the words in Matthew 25:21, “Well done, good and faithful servant?”

Next time you see an opportunity to serve someone, regardless of what it might cost you, imitate Barbara and Jesus, by praying and serving them from a servant’s heart. Live communally. To serve others is to serve Christ.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2020 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – June 22

Many students describe their transition to college, saying, “When I got to college, I started partying. After my first semester, my GPA was terrible. I had been a A-student in high school. I was so embarrassed to have to tell my parents the results of the fall semester.”

Some students arrive on campus with a different launch point. Some show up believing the idea of investing in the lives of other people makes them scared because they did not feel equipped. Yet over time God addressed each of their insecurities and they became bold and forthright in their desire to find-feed-and fight for other students. They initiated life-on-life evangelism and discipleship efforts with fellow students. The first aim was to help a student develop a foundation as a new Christian and learn to share their newfound faith with others. The second was to develop a vision for spiritual generations.

The most critical characteristic of Chi Alpha Campus Ministries is our focus on intentional, transgenerational disciple-making. Our motto is “we disciple students who disciple students who disciple students…from the campus to the marketplace and throughout the world.” The reason for our missional behavior is rooted in Scripture.

Read Genesis 22:17-18. The Promise of God to Abraham.

Discipleship rests on God’s promise, which includes a vision for generations, for all peoples, and for all nations. It is interesting to consider the Great Commission (not suggestion) of Jesus, can be traced all the way back to God calling Abram (his name later changed to Abraham) in Genesis 12 and following.

Read Matthew 28:18-20. The Great Commission Mandate of Jesus.

Generations of Christ-followers have stepped into the footprints of Jesus and imitated His example. We not only read the words Jesus spoke (identified in red ink in most New Testaments), but we practice what He did (captured and written down in black ink). Jesus invested in a few for the sake of the many.

Read 2 Timothy 2:2. Generations of Grace.

The apostle Paul wrote two letters to a young pastor under his tutelage. In the second, he described a picture of four generations (Paul – Timothy – faithful people – others also). Don’t forget that Jesus influenced Paul, so it’s actually a five-generation lineage, that took years, even decades to initially start, gain momentum, and get built into the DNA of the church.

Chi Alpha staff mourn the desperate need among college students and faculty who are far from God. We focus our time and energy on discovering faithful-available-teachable (FAT) students who we equip to 2 Timothy 2:2 it to their campus. The process we use teaches students how to “find” (locate students God is drawing to Himself), “feed” (via friendship and life-on-life equipping to become Christ-honoring apprentices), and “fight” (pray for and stand with them as God raises them up from spiritual babies to warriors for King Jesus).

We live in a chaotic world. But so did Jesus. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you to the end of the age.”

Think theologically. Our response results from God’s grace, extending from generations of disciple-makers to their families, friends, and neighbors who need to know Christ, our Lord.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2020 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – June 15

I was on a recent daily walk of a few miles and was listening to some Hillsong worship music. I was enjoying the words and melody and found myself singing along out-loud on a busy street and moving my feet to the beat. It was a joyful experience where I was just being a worshiper of God and was not concerned about what people driving by might think.

It reminded me of a message I have taught for decades on worship. What is worship, and what kind of worshipers is the Father looking for us to be?

Read John 4:23-24.

The story told by the apostle John was of Jesus meeting a woman and her becoming enamored of who He was. He was like no man she ever met. She got extremely interested in knowing Jesus better because He appeared ready to give her living water, by which she would never thirst again.

The word “worship” comes from an old English word that means “worth-ship.” It contains the ideas of worth and honor. When we worship God just for who He is (not to mention what He has done), we are honoring Him. We are ascribing great “worth” to Him because we recognize His awesome character, His infinite wisdom and justice, His supreme love, and His inexhaustible supply of mercy and forgiveness.

Jesus stated that God desires our worship, not for His self-interest but our growth. As we purpose to practice giving “worth” to God, we should use all means possible to help us in that effort. On my seventy-five minute walk, I used the following five practices:

One. I listened to music and made music in my heart to the Lord. The author of Psalm 150 urges us to use musical instruments of all kinds. I sang words and hymns on my walk too.

Two. I meditated on the character and acts of God. I took time to quiet myself and think about God and His goodness. I saw it in the bird that perched on a tree as I walked by and in the green grass and blue skies. The author of Philippians 4:8 says to think about excellent things that prepare us to worship our God and Father.

Three. I confessed my need for God as I reflected on God and saw myself as a creature before His Creator, and a man who needs help facing the troubling issues of our day. The prophet Isaiah said in his book (chapter 6:6-7) that we who see the Lord will be overwhelmed by His sheer presence. We will be moved to confession and repentance.

Four. I listened to God on my walk and was moved to pray to Him in response. I needed cleansing, hope, strength, and help. Talking with God helps us to focus our minds on the richness of God’s Person and His vast resources. The author of Hebrews 4:16 reminds me we can approach His throne of grace with confidence to receive what we need when we need it.

Five. I was encouraged by the whisper of the Spirit to send financial gifts to a few friends. We express our gratitude to God in tangible ways like giving. We recognize God’s Lordship and ownership of all we possess when we steward it well and trust Him to provide for our needs. That is why Paul said to be cheerfully generous in 2 Corinthians 9:6-15.

Grow devotionally. The kind of worship God is looking for is that which recognizes God for who He is, and ascribes worth to Him as its only true object. He deserves our best worship.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2020 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – June 8

What does it mean to be intentional? It means working with purpose to make every action count. It is about focusing on doing the right things every moment, day by day, week by week, and following through with what you said you would do.

The mission statement of Chi Alpha Campus Ministries states that we exist to “Reconcile College Students to Jesus Christ: Transforming the University, the Marketplace, and the World.” Each day of every week of a school year, Chi Alpha staff go on campus seeking to introduce students to Jesus and help them start and grow in their relationship with Him.

Read Matthew 4:19.

Here is a story that reflects several conversations I have had this year with college students:

I can see where the Lord was always there and guiding me even when I wasn’t able to see it. I was raised in a Christian family that was involved in serving others. I believe this allowed me to see an expression of Christianity that was good and helpful. Even though I grew up in church, I can see where I didn’t fully know the Lord in a close and relational way. I considered myself a Christian, but was not active in my faith beyond church attendance and holiday services. Growing up I was a happy child. My parents set a beautiful standard of what a Christian home is, and I benefitted from that.

In high school, I started to wander from the culture I was raised in, seeing different aspects of life but also searching for things that were not fulfilling. One example is I chose to place my identity in the relationships I had instead of being grounded in my relationship with the Lord. Because of this false sense of fulfillment, it was easy to become insecure due to the unsteady foundation that I had set under my feet. I lacked confidence, because I was not able to see the value and identity that I had in Christ. I was always told of how the Lord saw me and never truly believed it myself. Needless to say, I continued to search for my value through people.

I entered college with the faulty motivation to gain acceptance because I felt it was expected of me. Yet upon joining the Chi Alpha chapter, I began to see other people who truly seemed to have something that I was lacking. I saw in these Christians a deep and satisfying relationship with God, that seemed to have a true devotion connected to it. I began to understand the relational aspect of a faith-filled life more fully as an individual that I had never really grasped before. Hearing and seeing the elements of real devotion to Christ, real devotion to community (one another), and real responsibility (putting feet to my faith each day) hit me with a new understanding. It became the doorway to a deeper relationship with God and his people. This community of diverse people allowed me to feel what a truly active Christian was, and learn how act out of grace and love and not for the acceptance for others.

While I have known about God my whole life, it was not until college that I entered into a relationship with Jesus. I know now that this relationship is a daily effort that I have to participate in with God. I now have a firm foundation that is never failing. I have a sense of identity that is found in the One who made me and knows everything about me, good and bad. I know that looking to people for approval is faulty, and the only approval that I need is from God. Because of these things, I feel the importance of this is to make known what Jesus has done for me and what He can do for everyone. God reached me through others.

Serve globally. Chi Alpha staff seek out and engage students like the ones who shared their stories with me. Like the students said, be intentional today. Make known what Jesus does.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2020 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – June 1

What kind of sacrifices do you give to God? What really costs you something to follow and obey the Lord? Are you stealing from God by giving Him your second best?

I remember reading through the Old Testament for the first time. It took me months to read from Genesis to Malachi and absorb the story of God and His people that I encountered in the pages of Scripture. Each book required me to figure out what the author was communicating to his audience so I could begin to understand how God figured into each of the 39 books.

When I got to the last book of the Older Testament – entitled Malachi – I felt a sense of relief. I’d gotten through 38 books with one left. I wondered what a small, never-heard-of-him before prophet (like every one of the previous Old Testament writers) had to say to me. Fortunately, I was interested to read and meet Malachi. So I did. 4 chapters. Fifty-five verses.

Read Malachi 1:6-14.

I later read a Bible dictionary and learned Malachi was written roughly about 420 BC as a warning to the nation of Israel. The Old Testament prophets, were seen as “covenant-enforcers,” calling the people to live up to the agreement they and their ancestors entered into when they made the Mosaic Covenant during the time Moses led Israel. Essentially, the nation of Israel said they would love and obey God for who He is and what He had done on their behalf. Often, the Israelites forgot God, and He sent prophets like Malachi to speak to them on God’s behalf and urge them to repent and turn back to God. But it often got ugly.

By the time of Malachi, God accused the priests of offering “defiled” sacrifices to God (v 7). He knew that the Israelites disobedience of not giving Him their best was not a good sign (v 8). Withholding the tithes God had commanded them to give for God’s work (v 8-14) was literally the final straw.

When I first read Malachi I asked what the defiant actions of the Hebrews had to do with me. Followers of God are not supposed to bring animal sacrifices to church these days. I had become convinced that the death and resurrection of Jesus was the one-time ultimate sacrifice for our sins. I wondered why and how Malachi applied to me?

Then my pastor did a sermon series on the Minor Prophets. Once we got through the study of Malachi, I realized that Christians can be guilty of offering poor sacrifices to God. Upon reflection, I went to an altar and confessed I indeed had done so on a few occasions. That led to repentance and an awareness of where I brought “blemished sacrifices” to God.

One area was money. I was not as consistent in handling my finances as a young believer. God expects us to give to Him first, not after we cover our own expenses and have left over funds for sports, eating out, and other forms of entertainment. God does not need my money as much as He wants my heart to be aligned with His purposes.

Jesus went to a cross once for all to die for the sins of all of us. Due to His ultimate sacrifice, we do not have to bring animal sacrifices today as payment. But the lesson from Malachi is God must come first in every aspect of the lives of His followers – money, time, career, friendships, etc. So what sacrifices do we need to make today to live for Him?

Walk wisely. What choices can you make today that will honor God and not cheat Him? God deserves more than our second best. Give God your heart, and the rest will follow.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2020 by Mike Olejarz

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