Category Archives: Uncategorized

Monday Motivator – February 18

Do you like going to the doctor? Many people do not, because something happened to affect their perception of, or the actual reality of their experience.

My mom passed away from throat cancer a few years ago and the experience was difficult for all of us, but particularly my dad. So many treatments, blood tests, examinations, day-to-day diagnosis, and you get numb to the endless array of hopes and prayers as you face the consequences of a fatal disease. Who can blame anyone for feeling tired and dejected?

I just returned from a hospital visit to get a thyroid biopsy. Overall it was a pleasurable experience. I arrived early and got my paperwork handled efficiently at the check-in desk with a polite and friendly woman. I was sent to a second station where a nurse welcomed me, chatted me up, and guided me to changing room to get ready for the biopsy. She checked my blood pressure and heart rate, asked questions about any medications I was on, and got me ready for the processing nurse.

Twenty minutes later, Cat (short for Catherine) came and escorted me to the room where the procedure would take place. She got me situated, asked what sort of music I would enjoy in the background (instrumental jazz and some Frank Sinatra), and waited for the doctor and assistant to come to handle the biopsy. Moments later, the doctor arrived to introduce himself, get to know me a bit, describe what the biopsy would entail, and answer any of my questions. I felt cared for, warm under a blanket, and assured that competent people were going to take care of me. I was calm and confident and waited for the procedure to start.

I trusted the doctor and his team to handle my biopsy and they did. Just as I trusted my surgeon six years ago to handle an arthroscopic procedure on my left knee and he did. I have been the beneficiary of many health-related surgeries and treatments in my life from medical professionals. My family doctor has shared some of his health concerns at times and I have appreciated his transparency and vulnerability. It helps me to see him and others who have cared for me, as fellow human sufferers and overcomers.

Read Romans 1:1-7.

I just finished reading the first part of Romans 1 and I was reminded of how little I consider the humanity of Jesus. Yes, I know he came first as a baby, but I tend to view my Savior as a conquering King, mighty God, and Almighty Lord. I forget he faced life as a real human male. He must have hit his thumb with a hammer, or felt pain when his friend Lazarus died.

It is the same gap I feel between us and Jesus, the Great Physician, but on a much larger scale. Jesus Himself took on our humanity and clearly identified with us. He walked to work, laughed and cried, had to learn to overcome various obstacles that confront us, and dealt with recurring temptations. Because of His track record, I have learned to trust Him.

I have learned that we can be confident that we are not facing stuff that is tougher or worse than Jesus encountered. Whatever the circumstances, He can help me handle it. My dependence on Him is not misplaced.

Think theologically. What things are you concerned about? How can you face them realistically with God’s help? My doctor quieted my concerns about a routine procedure. Jesus understands our fears and He can help us face them. He has been there. With His help, we can address and overcome whatever we face. No wonder He is the Savior we trust.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2019 by Mike Olejarz

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Monday Motivator – February 11

What dirty stuff do you need to take to God’s laundry?

Growing up as the oldest of four kids, I do not remember doing my own laundry when I was a boy. Our mom was tireless about keeping the house clean and she had my two younger brothers and sister and me handling our chores daily and weekly. In time though, we each started doing our own laundry, which corresponded to when we could see over the top of the washer to put the detergent in along with our clothes.

I remember the first time cleaning out my wrestling gym bag after practice and the stench was awful. I recoiled from the smell and warily put the smelly clothes in the washer, wondering if there was any hope for them.

Periodically, our mom would take it upon herself to tackle our laundry. Coming home from college, I would drop off my dirty laundry bag in the basement and head out to see friends. I would return home to find my laundry washed, dryed, and folded, ready for use. “Mom,” I would ask, “I was going to do my laundry. Why did you go ahead and do it?”

She often replied, “I knew you wanted to see your friends. I don’t mind you bringing your dirty laundry home. After raising four kids, I don’t mind doing your laundry now and then, even the smelly stuff. There are no dirty clothes I cannot handle.”

Read Psalm 51.

I have learned to value the word, repentance. It means sorrow, remorse, shame, and penitence. David, the writer of Psalm 51, learned a lesson in shame and sorrow after some evil acts of his hurt people and God. David had a close friend call him out on some recent behavior that needed to be addressed. Coming to God in repentance is like bringing those dirty clothes home to wash.

All of us can remember a time or two where it was easy for us to get lazy about confessing the sin in our lives until it piled up high and reeked of self-centeredness and outright rebellion. Hopefully, we did not wait much longer to notice the smell and take it to God.

I remember a consistent refrain of mine: “Lord, here I am. I know it’s been a while since I came home and came clean before you. There is a lot of stuff in my life that is dirty and that needs cleansing. Some of it is in desperate shape and needs a deep washing that only you can handle. Some of it has a bad stain. Do you think you can handle it?” And God smiled and thought, “It’s about time. My kid is home again.”

Why do we always drag our feet after we run from God, knowing we need to return to Him for forgiveness and healing? When was the last time you thanked God for His forgiveness? How can regular confession and repentance strengthen your relationship with God?

It is normal for you and I to come to God with sin stains now and then. That’s why John wrote, “He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). God is the master of laundering our lives after we mess up. Grow devotionally. Re-read David’s experience of forgiveness in Psalm 51. Be quick to own up to and confess your sin. Be willing to repent from that behavior (i.e., turn away from it). Then you can stand again spotless before the Father, washed clean and whiter than snow.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2019 by Mike Olejarz

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Monday Motivator – February 4

The mission statement of Chi Alpha Campus Ministries declares our purpose, “Reconciling Students to Christ: Transforming the University, the Marketplace, and the World.”

We recognize four areas of mission that we must engage: first, we seek to persuade those outside the rule of Jesus to put their faith, hope, and trust in Him; second, we want to help young people raised in the Church to not merely survive their university years, but thrive as growing Christ-followers; third, we want to offer hospitality and friendship to international students; fourth, we want to develop Christ-honoring leaders of the men and women we connect with and serve when they are students.

Scripture presents key ideas regarding the necessity of leaders. The Book of Proverbs announces that it takes a leader of real understanding, with a plan, to straighten out chaotic circumstances (Proverbs 28:2). When good people are promoted, good things result, even as you should watch out when bad people are in charge (28:12).

When you have leaders who hate corruption, the future is bright (28:16). We all know times when good leaders run things because the people are glad. Yet when poor leaders run the show, everyone groans (29:2). A leader of good judgment gives stability whereas a bad leader leaves a trail of waster (29:4).

We know that healthy leaders always trust and empower others to use their gifts and let them enjoy the credit for the results. The leader who reflects the character of Jesus is one who serves others. Servant leaders do not avoid risk, promote themselves, or just listen. They are servant-doers. Leadership is an opportunity to serve. So we invest in leadership development.

Jesus modeled the principle early in the Gospels that one of the first tests of leadership is the ability to draw others to you. The next significant test is your ability to develop the people around you. We in Chi Alpha agree with Dr. John Maxwell that the true measure of leadership is influence. People listen to and follow good leaders.

People naturally look for, respect, and follow leaders who are stronger than they are. Influence means people are attracted to who a leader is as well as their vision casting and skill level. Good leaders connect because they know how to touch a heart before they ask for a person’s hand. Good leaders walk among their people to know their problems and walk with God to find solutions. Ultimately, people buy into the leader first, then their vision.

Read 1 Timothy 4:12.

We know that college ministry rises and falls on student leaders. Campus ministry is built on courageous students willing to die to themselves and follow Jesus. We know we are bearing fruit when student leaders accept and embrace change and are willing to make great commitments. Praise God for students willing to take up their cross daily and walk in His power.

Our staff model and teach student leaders that leadership is more what you do than what you say. The ultimate test all young student leaders need to learn and grow in is in the consistency of their words and actions. John the apostle wrote, “Whoever clams to live in Jesus must walk (not just talk) as Jesus did (1 John 2:6).

Serve globally. Pray for Chi Alpha staff and student leaders to live, love, and lead like Jesus.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2019 by Mike Olejarz

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Monday Motivator – January 28

I was visiting a friend years ago in Florida and we were enjoying juicy mangoes from his parent’s orchard. It was a hot, sunny day, and we were discussing how some of the mangoes tasted sweeter than others.

I asked why a mango may look delicious on the outside but some of them tasted sour. I mean, what did I know being from Michigan?

Just then his mom walked by and she told me, “If we cut the mango before its ripe, it will taste sour. If it’s been on the ground for some time, it’s rotten and cannot be eaten. But we love to eat mangoes that just fell off of the tree because they are the best and tastiest!”

My friend added, “So it is a matter of timing, like you are able to hit a baseball thrown by a pitcher. You’ve learned how to read a baseball and hit it at different speeds.”

Many things are like that. The right timing is essential. I asked the right question at the wrong time once and learned from that experience that it led to a wrong thing. I drove half way through a stop light at an intersection once due to being distracted by friends in the car. Fortunately, no one was hurt and I did not cause an accident. Plenty of folks were honking their horns at me, though. It took me while to learn the fundamentals of playing chess as opposed to checkers.

We live in a time of instant gratification, drive-through options, and one click on-line purchases where waiting is difficult. Some of us find ourselves praying to God, “Lord, I need patience and I need/want/expect it now!”

Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

Solomon, the son of King David in the Older Testament of the Bible, authored a book of Wisdom called Ecclesiastes. In it, he stated that, “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the sun” (3:1).

Our timing often differs from the timing of God. We regularly face confusion, pain, anger, disappointment, and even discouragement when our expectations are not met according to our schedule. We have a set way of doing things and assume God is at our beck and call. I struggled why a girl was not interested in me yet I had not even approached her for a date. Why can’t she read my mind and be friendly toward me, God? How immature, naïve, and unrealistic I was.

Stories from the lives of Abraham, Esther, Daniel, and Jonah reveal that God is neither early or late. He is always on time. Like Solomon wrote in 3:11, “God has made everything beautiful in its time.”

How can you apply Ecclesiastes 3:1 to your life and context this week? How can you develop patience and learn to trust God for His perfect timing? How can you use waiting to your benefit?

You may be praying for something and the Lord seems silent. You may need perspective that relational things take different amounts of time than homework. Walk wisely. Remember, His timing is always perfect. By trusting God, you will develop patience as you wait for His time.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2019 by Mike Olejarz

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Monday Motivator – January 21

Would Martin survive the university in Boston?

His parents raised him to know and serve Jesus Christ since he was a little boy. He attended Sunday school and church on a regular basis. He knew the stories about Abraham, Moses, David and Goliath, Samson, Daniel and the lion’s den, Jonah and the whale, the prophets, Mary and Joseph, John the Baptist, the struggling apostle Peter and the fiery apostle Paul.

Martin’s parents regularly talked about the integration of faith, prayer, witness, justice and missions in their home. Their lone son was prepared to stand on his own, link faith in God with daily life, and be a responsible follower of King Jesus.

Martin’s parents knew the University would be stressful. They knew that living far away from home and missing the safety and security of his parents, friends, and home church was a concern for their son. Making friends who were a good influence on him was another concern. Would he have time to hang out with friends while he kept up with homework and a part-time job? How would he stand up to a professor who ridiculed and slammed his Biblically based beliefs? Would he attend church on his own without being reminded by his mom and dad to get up and go? How would he handle his meager financial resources?

By nature, parents worry about their kid(s). The transition from high school to college can be, but does not have to be that stressful. Yet from choosing a major to navigating dorm life, determining your values (and living them), finding a career path, staying out of debt, and even meeting a possible spouse, life in college is demanding.

Like a lot of students, Martin soon realized that the decisions he made in those few short years would impact the rest of his life. Here are ten of the decisions he made that helped him not just survive, but ultimately thrive as a college student:

First, he worked on good, healthy habits like sleep, good nutrition, and staying in shape.

Second, he was developing a God-centered dream for his future that would serve other people.

Third, he developed a working schedule that balanced work and play and stuck to it.

Fourth, he went to church on his own to stay connected to the faith of his parents, and more importantly, develop a faith in Jesus on his own, and connect with the wider community of faith.

Fifth, he got the facts and planned an academic schedule that helped him graduate.

Sixth, he thought and acted missionally. He knew King Jesus wasn’t safe, but He was good.

Seventh, he lived a simple life in college.

Eight, he worked hard learning to learn.

Nine, he asked the big questions of life. God. Purpose and meaning. Right and wrong. Love and forgiveness.

Ten: he left college after nurturing his faith journey and integrated faith in Jesus and his larger purpose.

Read Acts 13:36.

Live communally. Martin Luther King’s parents prayed for, modeled, and instructed their son about being prepared for life after high school. Martin listened to his parents and lived a life of faith and good works. We celebrate his example today (and each year) as a life well lived.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2019 by Mike Olejarz

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Monday Motivator – January 14

How would you expect to change if someone prayed Ephesians 1:15-23 for you?

Read Ephesians 1:15-23.

Faith in Jesus ultimately leads to love for other people who have been transformed by the grace of God. The apostle Paul heard of the Ephesians faith (v 15) and love (v 15) and prays they may know hope (v 18). That Paul does not stop praying for them (v 16) means he cares for them.

Q: What did Paul ask God to do for the Ephesians? (v 17).

A: Give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation.That the Holy Spirit would continually reveal to the Ephesians more knowledge about God.

Q: Why did Paul ask for wisdom and revelation? (v 17).

A: So they would know who they are and what they have in Christ.

Q: How does Paul describe God?

A: The Glorious Father…the Father of Glory who shows his glory…the Father who reveals himself. God is viewed as a giver, who makes himself, as well as his character and plan, known.

Q: Why did he pray that the hearts of the Ephesians be enlightened? (v 18).

A: Paul prayed that the Holy Spirit would continually give his reader’s wisdom and understanding for life. That “lights” would go on inside people so they would know God and understand the benefit of the gospel.

Q: What three things did Paul want the Ephesians to know about God? (v 18-19)

A: The hope of their calling, the riches of their inheritance in the saints, and the incomparable greatness of His power for them.

Q: Describe the influence of God’s power (v 21).

A: The five categories of powers mentioned in v 21 are to emphasize Christ’s victory over them.

The way God has worked to accomplish salvation motivates Paul’s praise (1:3-14) and prayer (1:15-23). The goal of his prayer is that people will recognize the blessings mentioned in v 3-14.

Based on Ephesians 1:15-23, what kind of Christian community should we be today? First, a caring community that develops a depth of relationship with other believers who also belong to God. Second, a praying community that develops a practice of prayer because we all belong to God and must participate in a common God-given mission. Third, a thinking community that develops in wisdom and our understanding of life, God, and the importance of faith. Thinking is the basis for action. Use your mind to understand the implications of the gospel. The goal is to know God and understand His purposes for His people. Last, a powerful community that utilizes the power that comes from God, defined by the resurrection of Jesus and his exaltation as Lord over all. What we need is in Christ – relational power – that comes from being related to the One in whom power resides.

Think theologically. Paul says God blesses us to be a blessing to others. Pray it and live it.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2019 by Mike Olejarz

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Monday Motivator – January 7

What do you pray for others? What informs and motivates your prayers?

Read Ephesians 1:15-23.

The apostle Paul founded the church in Ephesus in the first century. After being imprisoned, he wrote the letter of Ephesians to them. “For this reason” points back to v 3-14, which motivates everything else in the letter and should be read with these verses. V 15-23 contains the author’s (Paul) prayer for the continuing work of God in his readers, which grows out of his thanks for what God has already accomplished in them. Summary: A) Paul has received a report of their faith and love (v 15). B) Because of their actions, he gives thanks and prays for them (v 16). C) Paul prays for the gift of revelation to know God better (v 17-23).

Five Implications for Us

First, Paul’s prayer in 1:15-23 reveals a conviction of prayer and a commitment to other believers. It reveals a depth of relationship he felt with people who were important to him and his faith – his example encouraged the Ephesians to pray continually for all of God’s people (6:18).

Second, Paul’s understanding of God’s actions formed the basis of his prayer and was reflected in his prayer. It means he knows the kind of God to whom he was praying.

Third, Paul’s request that God give the Spirit of wisdom and understanding means Christian living requires a continual openness to the Holy Spirit so we can better know God. One of the tasks of the Spirit is to help Christians know what God has given us (1 Cor 2:12).

Fourth, Paul’s prayer offers a basis for hope. We know meaninglessness, and not hope. We have a sense that we cannot solve our problems – individually or as a culture. Hope is as rare today as it was in the first century. The truth is that all humans live oppressed by meaninglessness and evil. We are taught to insulate ourselves from despair with social media and other forms of entertainment. We believe that “all will live happily ever after.” While life and God’s creation are good and to be enjoyed, we must always remember the truth that there are no happy endings – at least not in this life. We must all deal with meaninglessness, evil, sickness, and death.

God’s work in Christ addresses our meaninglessness, the problem of evil, and even death. Christianity really helps those who are desperate because death is not the end. Paul’s prayer points to God’s power to bring life from death – a power available both now so we can deal with the death in which we live and for the future when the dead are raised. This hope is grounded in the resurrection of Jesus and in Pentecost. Christians need to live “from the future” God has established – a change from meaninglessness to an awareness that God’s new age has begun and hope is given to us.

Fifth, Paul’s prayer reveals a need to emphasize the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus to the highest place. He is Lord and all is and must be submitted to him.

Grow devotionally. Would you be willing to pray Ephesians 1:15-23 for your friends each day for a week? Using Paul’s prayer, what could your answered prayers look like? Imitate Paul’s example and pray a prayer that Christians may realize God’s purpose and power.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2019 by Mike Olejarz

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized