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Monday Motivator – February 19

Many of us have heard stories of heroism resulting from the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. It was gut-wrenching to watch the events unfold that day and later learn of how so many died. Yet many were also rescued.

One famous account that bears repeating is how iron-worker Frank Silechhia factored into the tragedy at ground zero. As he was helping in the rescue efforts, he noticed two steel beams in the shape of a cross standing upright in the rubble.

In the days, weeks, and months afterward, Frank often took heart-broken visitors to the site, serving as a sort of tour guide. That cross was and is a striking symbol of God’s love, and has comforted many by its silent testimony of the divine Presence in a place of great suffering. Day after day, Frank led famous people as well as ordinary citizens to the cross, as they paid their respects to the loved one(s) they had lost in the devastation and ruin.

Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-25.

As hard as it seems, the answer to the world’s terrible pain and evil is not a philosophical argument, a politician’s ramblings, or a theological debate on good v.s. evil. The only and all sufficient answer is Calvary’s cross, where in unfathomable grace, Jesus the God who became man, took upon Himself the burden of our sins and shame. The apostle Peter wrote long ago that, “He (Jesus) bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).

If you have not been to Calvary’s cross, let me take you there. Jesus died for you and me, and then rose from the dead, victorious. Believe in Him and you shall be saved from the penalty and pain of sin (1 Corinthians 1:21 and Galatians 6:14). Through God’s action, sin is atoned for.

Chi Alpha Campus Ministries takes its name from Paul’s second letter to the first-century Corinthians. In chapter 5, verses 19-20, Paul wrote that, “God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us (His followers) the message of reconciliation. We are therefore, Christ’s ambassadors, as though God was making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God.”

What a privilege for the men and women who follow Jesus as Lord and Savior. God takes the initiative in redemption, which is the restoration and fulfillment of His purposes in creation (v 17), and this takes place in Christ, through which all things were made (John 1:3, Colossians 1:16). We who are the recipients of divine reconciliation now have the privilege and obligation to be heralds to share His message of reconciliation with the rest of the world (v 19-20).

The angel told the women at the empty tomb to “come and see and go and tell” (Matthew 28:6-7). If you put your faith, hope, and trust in the resurrected Jesus, you are His ambassador. What difference should it make in your life to know that God chooses the weak and lowly people of the world to do His work?

Serve globally. God used iron-worker Frank to lead many to the cross. He wants to use you to lead many others to the cross as well. The pathway to heaven begins at the foot of the cross.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz


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Monday Motivator – February 12

In your life, where would you like to experience more self-control? Would finances make it onto your list?

Read Hebrews 11:32-40.

The Book of Judges describes the life of Israel in the promised land from the death of Joshua to the rise of the monarchy (Saul, etc.). Twelve judges led Israel during this period. Isn’t it ironic that two of the men mentioned in Hebrews 11 are also mentioned in the Book of Judges?

“I do not have time to tell of…Samson…and…Samuel” (Hebrews 11:32).

Yet while Samson and Samuel are mentioned in the same passage in Hebrews, there are big differences between them. Let’s examine one of them and determine which man we will learn from and possibly imitate. The difference I want to examine is the area of finances.

Samson was greedy and manipulating whereas Samuel practiced integrity. One day Samson bet thirty Philistines that they couldn’t solve his riddle, saying, “If you cannot explain it to me, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothing” (Judges 14:13). Quite a wardrobe, huh?

Samson’s emphasis seemed to be, “you shall give to me.” He is an example of Christians in business that discredit the cause of Christ by unethical practices, and those in ministry who twist the Scriptures and use emotional manipulation to raise money.

Samuel was totally different. After forty years of exemplary leadership, the people of Israel said this about him: “You have not cheated or oppressed us” (1 Samuel 12:4).

When others can say the same about you, you know you did it right!

Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). The condition of your heart is revealed in how you handle your finances.

Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship has a motto for college students involved with our campus chapters: We call them to “pray, give, go, and welcome” (i.e., offer hospitality, particularly to international students). Our view of giving, or stewarding what God has given us involves: 1) trusting God for his provision, 2) living within our means, 3) tithing on the first 10% of our income, 4) making a monthly faith promise to missions, 5) giving offerings as requested (and as you are able), 6) saving for the future, and 7) paying off debt as soon as possible.

Make it a point to nurture the regular action of giving generously, not for the reward, but to honor God. Good exercise for the heart and soul is to bend down and help another person up. As a steward, how can you use your financial resources in a responsible manner to build the Lord’s Kingdom and serve others? Cultivate financial practices that put your treasure in right places.

Walk wisely. What can you do this week to be a cheerful giver? How can you practice the seven components of biblical stewardship that we promote in Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship?

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – February 5

Are any of your friends endangering your spiritual health and purity before the Lord?

Read Judges 14:3.

Samson’s father and mother said to him, “Isn’t there an acceptable woman among your relatives or all of our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?” And Samson said to his father, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.”

When it came to relationships, Samson was guided by his lower impulses instead of the principles of God’s Word. And he paid dearly for it. Three times we read in Judges 14 that…”Samson went down…” (ex., Judges 14:1, 5, 7). First, he went down to Timnath and married the wrong woman. Second, he went down to Gaza and spent the night with a harlet. Third, he went down to Sorek and ended up in the lap of Delilah, where he lost his strength, his freedom, his reputation, his anointing, his eyes, and ultimately, his life.

There is a lesson here for every redeemed child of God. The apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 6:14 that, “Followers of Jesus should not be yoked together with unbelievers.” In God’s eyes, people are divided into two categories: those who are in Christ and those who are not. Therefore believers must not be in intimate associations or relationships with unbelievers, because such relationships can corrupt their relationship with Christ.

Is God being biased or unloving? No, He is being protective. When you are “yoked together” in a relationship with someone who does not share your faith, your values, your goals, and your priorities, you end up in a tug of war with each pulling in a different direction. When problems arise, which they surely will, what you need is someone by your side who turns to the same source you do for the solution – God.

Jesus and Paul also warned that, “It is God’s will that you avoid sexual immorality. That each of you learn to control his or her own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5).

Why did God say this? Because when there is physical intimacy without true commitment, somebody’s going to get hurt. You need to pay attention to what God says on this issue. And you need to do it before you get into situations where you are tempted to compromise your character and calling to be set apart to God, because by then it is too late.

We all struggle with our sexuality in a culture on campus (and larger society) where “sex sells.” Our sexuality is such a beautiful and integral part of who we are, and guilt about it has a way of making us feel ashamed and separated from God like nothing else can. In order to determine your values and establish some ground rules, you need to think and pray if you are going to allow your impulses to dictate to you your behavior, or sin to separate you from God (and others).

Will you choose to keep and rely on God’s design for your sexuality and expression, and rely on His Spirit each day to give you strength? And if you do sin, will you seek forgiveness, get back up, and move closer to God? That’s a prayer God will answer! Live communally. What would be the best way to tactfully end a relationship with someone who is dragging you down?

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – January 29

Do you ever pause to consider how “blessed” you are? How much of our lives have been out of our control? We did not choose to be born. We did not choose who our parents would be. We did not choose the time, date, location, and circumstances of our birth. The first few years of our existence were lived under the care of someone else.

Later on, when we became aware of our need for food and water for survival, others were providing it. Mom and dad did so much for us during our first eighteen years, and continue to offer support and love beyond the time we left home and high school for the next season of our lives.

I enjoy hearing various men and women, when they realize how blessed and gifted they are, and in moments of success, attribute their success to the foundational idea that the Creator made them that way. The lesson they seem to be communicating is God’s gift to them is their opportunity and giftedness, while their gift to God is how they use it.

John Calvin, a French theologian, pastor, and reformer during the Protestant Reformation once wrote to Francis, King of France: “The characteristic of a true sovereign is, to acknowledge that, in the administration of his kingdom, he is a minister of God. He who does not make his reign subservient to the divine glory, acts not the part of a king, but a robber. He moreover, deceives himself who anticipates long prosperity to any kingdom that is not ruled by the scepter of God, that is, by His Divine Word.”

It had to challenging for a citizen of a country ruled by a human king to challenge his authority by admitting, “Yes, you are my king. But if you don’t recognize and submit your life and leadership to the rule of the One True Sovereign King, and His Word, your influence and your country’s present and future destiny is in danger.”

It has been easy for humans though out history to shake their fist at God, and refuse to submit to Him. It started with Lucifer (a created angelic being), spread to Adam and Eve, and further inflicted men, women, kings, queens, emperors, thugs, dictators, movie stars, politicians, scientists, authors, college professors, and even student leaders. Sadly for some of them, it took until their deathbed to admit that without God at the forefront of their life, position, and seemingly prominent influence, they are doomed to failure.

Read Colossians 1:15-23.

The apostle Paul wrote that God is above all things and by His sovereign dictate created and put us in a position of life, health, and a chance to make a difference. Verse 16 says that, “For by Him are all things created; things in heaven and earth, visible and invisible, thrones, powers, rulers, and authorities. All things were created by him and for him.”

Whether you are a student leader, successful entrepreneur, trending public person, or college president, your authority comes from God Himself. Remember that in order to stay humble. Remember that and stay on your knees for divine guidance. Read, study, and obey His Book. History records that without God as our focus, life and leadership ends with calamity. Think theologically. Ultimately, God rules over all of us.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – January 22

When the Babylonians under King Nebuchadnezzar defeated Jerusalem, Daniel was taken captive to Babylon (Daniel 1:1-6). There he served in the royal court (2:49). Daniel was soon promoted to a very high position (6:3), second only to the King.

Even though he was a captive of another empire, Daniel continued to be faithful to the Lord. His consistent and courageous testimony about His God towards various kings indicates his commitment and fidelity to the One True King. As he studied and reflected on Scripture (9:2), he realized his daily need to humble himself and seek God’s face in prayer and fasting. He continued to plead with God for the deliverance of his people and their country (9:3).

Let’s pray this week that the Lord will raise up men and women like Daniel in Muslim lands, and among Muslim international students here in America. Pray for the call, conviction, and courage to be a witness of the risen Christ to their people.

Lord of all the universe, Master of history, God of the impossible, we dare to come into your throne room, because Jesus died and opened up the way for us.

O God of measureless grace, grant leaders like Daniel to your Church among Muslims. Teach them knowledge and good judgment as they learn your commands. Guide their steps by your Word so they will not be intimidated by the enemy. Give them discernment and courage to challenge kings and rulers and bring honor to your name.

Fulfill your purposes and promises to them. Reveal your gracious plans to them.

Father, I stand in your holy presence and ask by faith, because Jesus my Lord sacrificed his life and blood for me, Amen.

Some of this content comes from the January 19 entry of “Praying for Muslims 2018: A Guide for Effective Intercession,” a resource I have been using for years. It has informed and inspired me about Muslims and helped me to pray for them. It is organized around a Friday prayer focus, since Friday is the Islamic weekend.

Each Friday includes a short reading that includes a specific prayer focus, information about the focus, brief points of prayer, and a promise from Scripture. Many Christians around the world fast a meal or more every Friday to pray for Muslims. You too can join us in this weekly fasting and prayer effort.

Read 2 Corinthians 4:4-6.

Go to each Friday to read the entry and pray. You can access a Kindle copy at Share this prayer guide with your friends. Hard copies can be purchased on the site above.

Grow devotionally. Who should use this Praying for Muslims Prayer Guide? You should. Your friends in your Chi Alpha chapter should. Your church should. And…?

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – January 15

One thing about my background and participation in sports is that I was exposed to fellow athletes, coaches, and competitors who “aimed high.” I was a self-motivated individual who had lofty goals (in my mind, at least). I learned early on the value and tension of inspiration and preparation, and in many cases I out-worked some of my competitors on the way to achievement and victory.

I am also one of those people who see the world through the “glass is half empty” perspective, realizing we have water in the glass. That tendency to think and lean in the positive comes from my parents, who instilled in me a “can do” attitude and work ethic. It’s one thing to think you can achieve something, and another altogether to actually put the work in to do it. It often helps to observe someone modeling that sort of lifestyle.

I have a list of “mentors,” men and women who have modeled what it means to “aim high” and live life well. One of those is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I have a picture of Dr. King on my basement wall of “heroes of the faith.” The quote on the image of Dr. King says, “If a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”

Dr. King was affected and influenced by the person and teachings of King Jesus, the Author and Finisher of The Story. Martin patterned his life and service after that of Jesus, believing God made him for a purpose. Martin was a preacher of the Gospel (i.e., the message) of Jesus. He was also the son of a preacher and the grandson of a preacher, all having served as pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.

Martin attended and prepared for ministry at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Crozer Seminary in Chester, PA, and received his PhD in systematic theology from Boston University in 1955.

Read John 15:13.

Prior to 1955, African Americans were denied equal rights in much of the southern United States. The initial opportunity to challenge the injustice emerged in December 1955 when Rosa Parks (another one of my heroes), refused to move to the back of the bus when ordered to do so.

Martin was asked by residents of the Montgomery Improvement Association to launch a bus boycott. A year later (after much struggle, arrests, and persecution), Montgomery buses were desegregated. Knowing the righteousness of God as well as Jesus’ call for justice, Martin stepped out and up into the national spotlight. He believed his concern for civil rights grew right out of his faith as a citizen of Jesus’ kingdom. His famous August 28, 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech captured and catalyzed America. His final words were brimming with hope when he said, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” That ignited a struggle for civil rights for all that lasted twelve years until Martin was martyred on April 4, 1968, at the young age of 39.

Serve globally. Dr. King said, “The time is always right to do what is right.” May we follow his example and aim high as Gospel-inspired peacemakers on campus and beyond.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – January 8

My decades in campus ministry have allowed to meet a lot of male and female college students who are motivated, talented, ambitious, and “going somewhere.” I have also met students who struggled to get going, even though they made it to college. Some of them struggled with low self-esteem, failing confidence due to various circumstances, few mentors, and worst of the worst, a non-supportive parental and/or family system.

Here is a sample conversation I had with a student who represents some young people I have had a chance to work with:

“How is your class work going?” I asked. “Fine, except I am behind again because I work slow,” replied Jason (not his real name). “Why do you believe you are slow?” I replied. “Some of my projects just take more time than others and I have a hard time planning out my homework to keep everything on track. I guess I was just born slow and I’m stuck.”

“How have you kept up with your school work since being here?” I inquired. “This is your second year on campus so I assume you’ve learned how to manage your homework better since last year?”

“Well,” Jason responded, “I’ve been slow since high school and I guess I just learned to accept it. I mean, my parents never pushed me much when it came to homework.” I replied, “There is nothing wrong with being thorough if it takes you longer to do your work.” Jason said, “I’m not sure about accuracy, but I didn’t choose to be slow.”

I added, “I didn’t say you chose it, but it apparently has become a habit that you learned and become comfortable with.” Jason raised his voice, “Well, yesterday I spent two hours looking for the perfect illustration for an introduction to a paper, only to change my mind at one o’clock in the morning that it didn’t need to be perfect!” “Good for you,” I responded. “It sounds like that is a good step for you.”

“I hope so,” said, Jason. “I need to spend less time thinking about how some homework starts, and more about how to finish it up with the best I can do. I need to change.”

Read 2 Corinthians 13.

Jason and I agreed neither of us is perfect and won’t be until we reach heaven. Yet that doesn’t mean we should be content in our imperfection. In the 2 Corinthians text, the apostle Paul said to “aim for perfection” (verse 11). He said in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 to remember that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God. He added that all of us were wicked in God’s eyes, but due to our acceptance of the work of Christ on the cross, some of us were washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of Jesus and by the Spirit.

Let’s face it. It’s easy to make excuses rather than to face the reality of our lives and change. What sins and bad habits do you excuse rather than confess and forego? In what ways do you limit God’s intervention and power in your life by telling Him what you can’t or won’t do? Walk wisely. When it comes to living for Jesus, aim high. You can change because God is for you. Rely on His resources as opposed to only your own.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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