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Monday Motivator – March 30

Chi Alpha Campus Ministries is engaged in training world changers every day on campuses nationwide across America. The growth in our missionary staff is due to God-called individuals, deliberate mentoring, and excellent training, which prepares our leaders for campus ministry.

We are consistently implementing everything we do with the highest levels of excellence we can muster. We are committed to grow the part of God’s Kingdom that we are entrusted with: making the name and Person of Jesus more famous in and on the secular university campus.

Our mission is focused on reconciling college students to Jesus Christ, equipping them through Spirit-filled communities of worship, fellowship, discipleship, mission, and prayer. Our focus is to transform the university, the marketplace, and the world through the transformed lives of students.

The tens of thousands of students represented in Chi Alpha chapters in the United States represents a formidable global missionary force. To further assist in the multiplication of these Christ-honoring young men and women, we updated our student mission’s motto to, “Every student prays, Every student goes, Every student gives, and Every student welcomes.” Our hope and strategy is that this statement becomes embedded in the hearts and minds and behavior of every Chi Alphan for a lifetime.

Every student prays. We model and teach every student to pray for God’s will to be done, deliberately and consistently for the nations. Our daily 10.2 campaign (10:02 am) is a call to join a growing group of intercessors who have a heart to see an increase in disciple-makers who pray, go, give, and welcome.

Every student goes. We model and teach every student to give themselves deliberately and sacrificially to extend the Kingdom of God to others on campus and around the globe. They are challenged to go on a cross-cultural mission trip at least once during college. They are asked to give a year after college to missions and consider a lifetime of service.

Every student gives. We model and teach every student to give themselves deliberately and generously to extend the Kingdom of God to others on campus and around the globe. They are challenged to give to Assemblies of God U.S. and World Missions projects and missionaries. They are also urged to invest $10 a month in FeedONE, the compassion arm of Chi Alpha and Convey of Hope, which feeds children in need around the world.

Every student welcomes. We model and teach every student to extend friendship deliberately and practically to the more than one million international students studying in America. We want these students to have worldwide impact when they return home eager to share the message of King Jesus.

Read 1 John 2:6.

We are eager for every American and International student to have the chance to study at the feet of the world’s greatest teacher.

Serve globally. God is changing student’s lives and we are partnering in His global Kingdom. We disciple every college student to pray, go, give, and welcome because it is the mandate of Jesus. That means this mandate is the mission of Chi Alpha Campus Ministries.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2020 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – March 23

What are you motivated to accomplish? In school? Your activities? Your work? Why?

I have asked college students those questions for decades and received a wide spectrum of answers. “I do not know. I’ve never really thought about it,” is one response. “I am working to get my degree to honor the sacrifice my parents have made for me.” “I was given a financial gift by my grandparents and want to make them proud.” “I hope to live a life of purity and not succumb to the temptations around me on campus. I want to honor the Lord with my body and my mind.”

We all have a variety of motives for what we do and why we do it. It could derive from our youth and a desire to overcome difficult circumstances. They might come from a moment of failure and an urgent need to be better. Regardless if it is embodied on a poster in your dorm room, a favorite song, a screen saver on your laptop or mobile device, or tucked away in your mind, it’s real and it matters to you.

Hopefully, your motives mean something to you and you know what motivates you to live life well. Hopefully, you want to walk in wisdom and avoid being a fool.

Read 1 Thessalonians 2:1-6.

I enjoy reading the words of the apostle Paul to the Christians he wrote to in the first century. When Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica, he wanted them to know that his actions, and the reasons for his behavior, was pure and for their benefit. He cared for them and he shared the message of Jesus with them, because Paul knew that God was the One he really served.

Paul wrote, “We are not trying to please men but God who tests our hearts,” (1 Thessalonians 2:4). Paul did not want fame or rewards for his service. He knew his reward would ultimately come later, when he finished his work on earth and God called him home to heaven for eternity. Paul certainly received recognition, honor, respect, and appreciation along the way. But those things were not the driving forces behind why he lived the way he chose to.

The apostle Paul was a living example of what Jesus taught in Matthew’s Gospel. “Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven…Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:14.

So the choice seems to be: glory now, or glory later. You can choose to receive your reward today – fame, applause, recognition – which will come as you graduate from college, live a life that honors your family name, and pursue a life of virtue. These are not bad things to be affirmed for, and may even result in letters of recommendation from a professor that helps you get a job interview.

But I hope you will also diligently choose to serve God with the right heart – one that is trying to please Him alone. Live for an audience of One. The reward you’ll receive from your Father will be better than any reward you could get from anyone else.

Why did you do that? Have you stopped to examine your motives for doing what you do? Why or why not? Why would God be concerned about your motives?

Walk wisely. One day the applause will fade. Heaven’s rewards last forever.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2020 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – March 16

Where has God placed you in order to give the message of His gospel?

It was the summer of 1983 and we were in the streets of downtown Cincinnati. We were taking part in a joint mission effort with Steve Fry, and his organization, Messenger International. It was a trial effort leading up to teams from Ohio going with Steve to the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

We had completed several training lessons Steve had provided on topics such as God’s character, the Word of God, spiritual disciplines, spiritual warfare, and evangelism. Now we were in the “practical” application stage of street evangelism, putting our training into play, or putting feet to our faith.

There were close to 100 of us on this particular trip. I had the opportunity to lead high school and college age students and share the stories of our faith. Steve Fry and his worship team were doing music on the downtown plaza in an effort to lift up the name of Jesus in the Cincinnati marketplace. The downtown area was made up of a mixed age range of people, men and women outside on their lunch hour, while hundreds of others were simply moving about the plaza. It was a hot, humid, busy summer environment.

Our assignment was to engage the people by introducing ourselves and asking them what they thought of the music? Or would they share with us what they thought about Jesus? My job that afternoon was to circulate and watch over several pairs of middle-to-high-school kids who were paired up and asking those two basic questions. One pairing of John and Dave were talking with some older adults and enjoying the conversation.

Our groups were simultaneously approaching strangers in 2×2 conversation, colorful drama teams were attempting to catch the attention of people passing by, and several music teams were trying to capture the imagination of listeners with ear-pleasing tones. We were very deliberate in building bridges to the world of those in the downtown plaza. Hopefully, they would warm up to the Lord and His message that we were trying to model and declare.

There were multiple dozens of us “preachers” all throughout the area, engaging men and women of all ages and stations of life. I noticed several of my middle schoolers going up to a group of grizzled, tattoed, bikers and asking them what they thought of King Jesus. I was so inspired by the courage of these young brothers and sisters.

Read 1 Thessalonians 1:4-10.

Later that night, as we gathered and debriefed on the afternoon’s activities, we heard many stories of people putting their faith, hope, and trust in Jesus. Several filled out contact cards signifying their desire to have more conversation with a Christian about knowing God. We met so many men and women who said they had been told God was a fairy-tale for the weak. Yet they now heard fragments of Jesus’ message in downtown Cincinnati, and it was enough. Somehow, deep in their hearts, they knew it was true.

Live communally. During those days, many we encountered said to them, He (God) didn’t exist. Carefully-crafted arguments didn’t convince them of God. The gospel – the power of God – simply and powerfully implanted by the Holy Spirit – worked in and through us to win their hearts. They simply needed to hear God’s truth delivered by nervous and relatively inexperienced gospel ambassadors. Live the gospel. Then stand aside as God works.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2020 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – March 9

How balanced are you? The use of the noun, balance, means, an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady. Such as “she lost her balance before falling.” Or, a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions. Like “try to keep a balance between work and relaxation.”

Here are three ways I have tried to strive for balance.

First, I have had to recognize there will be times when I am pulled in many directions at once. They may be work related, family, marriage, or a combination of. It does not mean they are wrong directions, just competing for my attention at that particular time. It could be perceived as the tyranny of the urgent. Yet having many things to address does not mean that they are bad in themselves, but it does not make it any easier to discern which path to take.

I have had to learn which way to go and not necessarily try to balance them all out at the same time. The need is to recognize what may be a seasonal direction and what may be a binge-style direction. As a young father, my times to hang out every weekend with old friends were lessened due to raising small kids, but I did get a night out with the guys to watch March Madness basketball.

Second, you will be surrounded by all sorts of extremes. I noticed in work that the higher you ascend in leadership, the greater the demands can become. The higher you go up in leadership, the more people will tend to pull you to an extreme. I have had to face spiritual extremes such as theological tensions between the methodical and the mystical, opinion extremes where everyone’s opinion carries the same weight, organizational extremes like the tension between sacred and secular, and personal extremes that derive from a wide variety of temperaments among men and women. Dealing with extremes is a delicate endeavor.

I am responsible for my own personal and professional growth and my behavior in the work place. I am asked to wear different hats at times (i.e., parent, friend, Christian, worker, etc.) that will require me to think and act differently and appropriately in the context I find myself.

Third, to stay balanced has required that I learn from mentors and models to help me stay focused, nimble, agile, and flexible. Mentors help me think through what I am facing and ask thoughtful questions to aid me in discerning a proper response and path. Models are examples that I can learn from in order to gain wisdom and learn from past mistakes.

A clear vision is critical to know where I am going in order to avoid getting sidetracked. The enemy of my soul may whisper to my ear that success in one area is momentary, and I should worry about failing in others. The devil may also suggest I major in the minors and forget about a major win up ahead. I have learned not to listen to voices (even my own at times) that seek to thwart the God-given direction I am pursuing.

Read Proverbs 11:1.

Think theologically. God dislikes a false balance. Everyone struggles with balance, and we will never master it. I have had to learn that there are problems I will have to solve and tensions that I have to manage. Part of that is discerning how to balance public and private life, spiritual and practical, sacred and secular, and giving and receiving. My general approach has been to listen before I speak and work for unity in the essentials and charity in the non-essentials.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2020 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – March 2

When I travel to visit Chi Alpha chapters, I often pretend I am an unbeliever who has a son/daughter involved in that “Christian stuff,” and I decided to stop by and check it out for myself.

At a recent campus visit, the greeters outside the meeting space warmly welcomed me and offered me a program of that evening’s activities. I briefly looked it over and then asked them to describe what “Chi Alpha” stood for and what it meant.

The guy (and gal who stood before me in their Chi Alpha T-shirts) responded by saying, “We are college students who love Jesus and work to practice his teachings as apprentices.” Then the young lady asked, “Do you love Jesus?” I had planned to play a poker face and ask some tough questions, but I started smiling as the clarity of his answer and her soft question hit me. I responded with a big smile and said, “Yes I do.”

Now we all smiled. Then they said, “We hope you enjoy our large group Chi Alpha meeting tonight. By the way, what is your student’s name?”

I replied that it wasn’t important right now. I complimented them that they had made a connection with me with their kindness and boldness. I went inside, found a seat, and enjoyed a ninety-minute meeting of worship, a student testimony, and a solid message from the Scriptures.

As I reflected on that earlier conversation later that night, I wondered how much courage it took for that young man to answer my question. Then I considered how much courage it took for the young lady to ask me, “Did I love Jesus?” She could have asked a softer and safer question. “Do you go to church?” Or “Do you believe in God?” But she got right to the point. “Do you love Jesus?” I was struck by the simplicity and power of her sincere question.

Read John 18:12-27.

The apostle John described a first century event when Jesus was arrested and was being poorly treated. When approached, his friend and follower Peter claimed he did not know Jesus. Ouch. Not just once, but Peter denied knowing Jesus three times!

How often have believers in Jesus thought when reading John’s account, “Well, I would never do that!” Yet those of us who do not live in societies where Christians are persecuted have never had to deal with confrontations that cause us potential harm. A college student may shrink back from identifying as a disciple of Jesus in class when a professor ridicules people of faith. But unless a student speaks up, there is no direct implication or tie to Jesus. But even if a student spoke up in class, there is little to be feared by stating that we love and follow Jesus, right?

Yet does courage lie more in our willingness to identify as a follower of Jesus and ask others what they think of Jesus? Too often, we may hold back in apprehension in both cases, afraid of what? Offending some one? Embarrassing ourselves? Or not wanting to really talk about our Savior?

Grow devotionally. Those students who talked with me had evidently been with Jesus, because they spoke about Him naturally. Their faith response and question to me flowed from their hearts. The love and grace of Jesus came right out. They simply loved Jesus. Do you?

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©202o by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – February 24

Scripture reveals the heart of God concerning passing on the truths of the Kingdom of God.

We see this first in God’s promise to Abraham. Discipleship, resting on the character and promise of God to Abraham, includes a vision for all generations and nations.

“I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” Genesis 22:17-18.

We see this second in Jesus’ Great Commission. Discipleship, which means following in the footsteps of Jesus, involves understanding His answer for a chaotic world – his disciples and theirs living out a transformed life and passing it on to others.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on 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 am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20.

We see this third, in the generations of grace shown in the New Testament writing of the apostle Paul to his young apprentice, Timothy. Second Timothy 2:2 is a beautiful picture of trans-generational discipleship – four generations of Christ-followers (Paul to Timothy, Timothy to faithful or reliable ones, and reliable ones to others also). It actually covers five generations if you count Jesus, where it all started.

But do not forget that verse two of 2nd Timothy is built on verse one – “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” Then Paul adds in verse two, “And the things you heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” 2nd Timothy 2:1-2.

One of the distinctive marks of Chi Alpha Campus Ministries is our commitment to intentional, trans-generational discipleship. Our approach for organizing and launching a Chi Alpha chapter is to plant an accessible, growing community of committed believers in Jesus right where students study, live, and congregate. It is in this context that students come to faith and maturity in Christ as they are exposed to a group of people fervently committed to the God of the Bible, one another, and to the task of evangelizing the campus, i.e., making known the Person and teachings of Jesus.

Chi Alpha exists to reach the strategic mission field of colleges and universities. We are committed to the fulfilling of Christ’s Great Commission on campus. We are a national organization of students in higher education, with sister fellowships in many countries, who unite to express the claims of Jesus Christ to campus communities and call students into relationship with Him. We believe the mandate from heaven is still evident today. It began in Genesis 12 and is reflected throughout the Old and New Testaments. God’s concern is for all of the peoples of the world. God responds by raising up a man or woman to call his Church to action – and in many cases – that man or woman has been a college student.

Serve globally. We know people are far from God. The answer is generations of disciple-makers living and discipling neighbors, friends, co-workers, and family yet to know Christ.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2020 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – February 17

I had a few scary experiences as a kid. One day as we walked to the school bus, we discovered one of our neighbors has added the biggest dog we had ever seen to their backyard. The dog heard us coming and started for the fence and we did not think the fence would hold once he leaned on it with his enormous paws and girth.

We ran to get away, thinking it was over if the giant brute caught us. To our amazement, he never got out and over the fence, partly due to being chained to a large stake in the ground next to the house. Upon closer inspection, the dog dwarfed the backyard and actually had little room to run around in. It appeared the owner had too much dog for his small backyard.

He was a friendly and gregarious animal, always running to the fence when neighbor kids walked, strolled, or biked by. Upon further inspection, the dog only had a space, 10’x10,’ to exist in. It was very confining.

Months went by and we always feared what might happen if the dog got out of the yard and over the fence. Then one day it happened.

My friends and I were going to meet the school bus, and as was our custom by now, we engaged the dog in playful banter as we passed by its house. The dog raced to the fence, lifting up on its hind legs and leaned on the fence. A loud “crash,” ensued and we yelled, “run for it…he’s loose.” The fence had finally given out under the weight of the dog and we knew he would charge after us. Then who knows what would happen!

But after running for what seemed like minutes, we did not hear a dog barking and chasing us. We turned and were stunned to see the dog standing outside the fence. It would pace a few steps to the right, then a few steps back to its original position. Over and over. Though the fence was gone, the dog apparently felt the restriction of the fence line and the chain that only allowed him limited free range in a small area. We were stunned. And glad to be alive.

I remember how hard it was for me to let go of certain sins even after I had confessed them to God. I had a tendency to beat myself up over habitual sin patterns that kept me imprisoned in unnecessary guilt and shame. It took me a while to learn to allow myself to experience God’s freedom and grace.

Read 1 John 1:5-10.

According to the apostle John, whenever we sin and honestly confess our sin(s) to God, He remembers them no more. The writer of Psalm 103:12 wrote that the Lord promises to remove our sin(s) as far as the east is from the west.

No sin is too great is too great for God’s forgiveness, because no sin is too immense for what Christ did on the cross. He was the perfect, spotless, unblemished sacrifice, to die for all of mankind’s sins. It was eternal and covers all generations.

Like the big dog that was constrained in small quarters, what kinds of sin(s) do you hold onto even after you bring them to God? How trained are you to hold on them? How does that affect your relationship with God? If God is able to let go of our sin(s) when we confess them to Him, why can’t we?

Walk wisely. Get out of your cage. Learn to repent and let go.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2020 by Mike Olejarz

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