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Monday Motivator – July 13

I read a report of a plant that was brought to America illegally that was fast-growing and now was attacking other native-born species. Volunteers were joining the battle to remove those invasive plants but were discouraged to learn they were also being sold in local garden stores. The local government finally got involved and was able to stave off more trouble after citizens complained about plant loss and economic decline in their town.

The old movies about attacking plants, creatures, insects, animals, even visitors from outer space are entertaining, and even scary at times. Yet we often hear of real-life cases of a new critter that is threatening another species and the warning is sent out to keep watch.

Thinking about these invaders can help us to understand a key principle when it comes to life. Trees, grasslands, animals of all sorts, and a myriad of various sized insects and birds are crucial to life on the planet. It is right to care for the environment around us, and we need to continue to be great stewards of planet Earth. But human life is the most important because of how we are created. We are all made in God’s image.

Read Luke 14:26.

Jesus warned us that anything that competes with Him for our hearts can literally choke out our spiritual lives. Our love for family, even parents, as natural as it is, could be dangerous and keep us from following Him (read verses 16-26). Jesus, our Lord, demands our ultimate and undivided attention, love and loyalty.

Listen to Aliyah tell me her story. “The turning point was when I joined Chi Alpha my senior year. I got into a small group of Christians and found the friendships that I needed to shift my focus to God. My heart was still hardened towards making God my number one priority. But I started praying for God to change me in a big way. I went to the Chi Alpha SALT Conference over winter break with an open mind. Throughout the weekend God slowly but surely was softening my heart. While we were worshipping God together on the last day, something clicked in me. I realized that Jesus should be the first priority in my life. In order to be free from my sin, I needed to trust Him as my Savior and commit to making Him Lord in all areas of my life. I decided to dedicate my life to God and give Him control.

After this revelation, there was new meaning to everything. I was now free from sin and shame. I realized that God had a plan for my life that is greater than anything I could imagine. All the knowledge I had from years of going to church camp changed from head to heart knowledge. I was now ready to walk with Jesus and allow Him to lead me. I then began to gain the tools to grow closer with Him and become the person He wanted me to be. I started participating in Chi Alpha every week. I was going to small group, weekly large group, and church with my friends on Sunday. My life has completely transformed and I am excited to see where God takes me.”

Once we value Christ above everything else, we will learn to love our family and friends with a deeper and healthier love. But it starts when we determine where our ultimate loyalty goes. Home grown affections are good, but not best. Like a plant species that is invading a garden, or an out-of-control forest fire, it needs to be taken care of.

Serve globally. The ancient saints believed that to follow Christ meant that we must let go of all that we hold dear. Once we have denied ourselves, our gains in Christ will become more clear. The more we love Jesus Christ, the more we will be empowered to love others.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2020 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – July 6

Why is comparison a deadly game?

Two first year students meet as they arrive for their orientation before school starts. It turns out that they were randomly chosen to be roommates. It appears to be the start of a mutually beneficial friendship for two young men away from home for the first time.

Yet a few months later a rift has emerged. One young man is jealous of his friend’s skill, knowledge base, and achievement, even though they are very similar in aptitude, interests, and accomplishment. While the second young man is not touting his resume, the first is becoming consumed by comparison. Sadly, he cannot let his feeling of inferiority go. He nurtures it. Dwells on it. Then fatefully acts on it. Unimaginable hurt and pain result. The second friend is injured when his friend attacks him by lying about his behavior in a campus lab. The first man’s poor judgment gets his roommate suspended while the case is being reviewed. As you might expect, they stopped being roommates and their friendship ended.

Read 2 Corinthians 10.

The apostle Paul knew about the comparison game. Unfortunately, he had to deal with people out to get him at times. A group of super-apostles (as Paul called them in chapter 11, verse 5) attempted to denigrate Paul and elevate themselves in the minds of some Christians Paul knew in Corinth. Their character assassination efforts persuaded some of the believers to buy their stories about Paul. That line of thinking enabled them to attack Paul’s credibility and authority as a true representative of Jesus.

Paul had to defend himself and his work among the Corinthian Christians. He had a lot he could have said, but primarily chose to talk about what the Lord has done in and through him. The grace and power of God in Paul’s life led to life transformation in many in Corinth. Paul reminded them of the spiritual fruit that was evident in their lives. Paul kept urging them to remember what the Lord had done in them.

Paul was patient, even as he sought to return to Corinth to set matters straight in person. He was not willing to allow what God had done in the lives of these men and women be averted or overturned because of some “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

Why do people compare themselves to others? Is it a matter of pride? We think we are superior to someone in some manner. We find someone who appears easy to cut down in contrast to our self-inflated opinion of ourselves. We are not comfortable in our own skin and need to validate ourselves by stepping over someone else by suggesting something is wrong with them. Or we bully them by our words and actions to make us feel better.

Which side of the comparison game are you on? I hope neither side. If you are an offender, knock it off. Stop talking down to someone and building yourself up. If you are being threatened, remember whose opinion should matter most to you – your parents and God. If you struggle by comparing yourself to other Christians, stop it. You will only reinforce the wrong, self-centered perspective that is poison to your soul. Instead, ask the Holy Spirit to show you how measure up to Jesus, then ask Him for help to grow and mature.

The secret to avoiding the comparison game is recognizing what Jesus did on the cross for all of us. You and I have immense worth to God just for whose we are. We belong to our Father in heaven. Walk wisely. If you must compare, compare yourself to Jesus.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2020 by Mike Olejarz

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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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Monday Motivator – May 25

Are you aware of what your spiritual gift is? If so, what are you doing to get better at using it? If not, how can you find out? Who can assist you?

I had the pleasure of attending New Life Assembly of God as a graduate student and as a young married man. Our pastor, John M. Palmer was dedicated to equipping and releasing the saints (i.e., followers of Jesus) for the work of the ministry, or the church. I saw firsthand how pastor John and the church leaders recruited men and women for service, taught them about service, helped them identify their spiritual gift(s), gave them opportunity to learn how to exercise their gift(s), and provided situations to practice using their gift(s), and gave feedback to each person as they gained confidence in using their gift(s).

Pastor John was secure in his identity and leadership and would often defer to people such as altar workers who had been prepared to pray for people who came forward at the end of a sermon for prayer. While pastor John was trained and qualified to pray for anyone, he allowed others of us to step forward to pray. We learned that we could be used by the Lord to minister to one another and accomplish His purposes as members of the Body of Christ.

You cannot imagine the excitement of men and women who were trained and encouraged to use their gift(s) and lead in their particular area of ministry (i.e., nursery, Sunday school, home Bible studies, worship teams, visitation ministry, and so on). We not only grew in our confidence that God could use us, but we grew in our skill and competence.

Having played on some championship athletic teams, I saw a similar dynamic happening in church. We had mostly “players” and very few “spectators” at New Life. All of us were engaged in “being the church” and doing our best to handle our responsibilities with joy.

Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-31.

The apostle Paul described God’s ideal environment for His church. While some might expect the pastor (and any other paid staff) to do everything, Paul wrote the role of pastoral leaders is to equip the people to do the work. Often people expect the people up on the platform (or stage), the one(s) who are always out in front, the more prominent ones, to do the majority of the labor. After all, isn’t that why they are paid? The pastor went to Bible school, and/or seminary. He or she knows so much, and they are trained, aren’t they? Or our Sunday school teacher has taught that class for years. There is no way I could do that job.

The apostle Paul wrote deliberately and extensively about the way the church is supposed to function. Besides the passage above, take a look at Romans chapter 12 and Ephesians chapter 4. When a person puts their faith, hope, and trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord, they automatically become a member of God’s family (i.e., the Body of Christ). They are given spiritual gifts for works of service so that the Body may be built up as each person does their part (see 1 Corinthians 12:27 and Ephesians 4:12). Leaders are there to equip them for work.

We all possess different gifts that complement one another. Like Paul wrote to the church Corinth, all of us are needed and none is more important than another.

If Pastor John was insecure and threatened by other’s participation at New Life, he would have stunted the growth God intended. He could have sabotaged God’s purposes. But he didn’t. He followed Paul’s instructions and showed us that church is everybody’s job.

Live communally. Do your part to grow the Body of Christ. Use your spiritual gift(s).

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2020 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – May 18

How much profanity can you tolerate? In what situations are you likely to use profanity?

I have grown less tolerant of popular culture activities being laced with poor and vulgar language in music, movies, TV shows, and even political discourse. It is sad how accepting people and society has become of ugly four-letter words being okay. I have found myself asking people in public spaces to use someone other than Jesus’ name when they swear, reminding them that God does not have a swear word for a last name, and urging them to use less foul language in public. It is not okay.

One college student told me that he “cusses because that is what he does.” He said he swears because it expresses anger and pent-up emotions and confessed it does at times lead to more aggressive behavior. I asked him if his swearing led to physical violence in a pick-up basketball game on campus, or road rage when he drives his car around town. He said not really, because he saw swearing as a way to blow off steam and not cause serious damage.

I told him that I offered a “cuss-control” class on campus that I created to help students (and faculty) learn how to curb their tongues and restore some courtesy, manners, and dignity to campus life. He was not interested at the time. I added that he should start by not using Jesus as a swear word because there would be a reckoning if he didn’t.

Read Matthew 12:33-37.

Jesus had a lot to say about the power and value of every word we speak. “I tell you that men (and women) will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken” (Matthew 12:36).

Read His words again and listen to what He is saying. According to Jesus, the need to change is far deeper than using mouthwash and/or reducing the use of a few poorly chosen words. He said to “make a tree good and its fruit will be good…for a tree is recognized by its fruit…for out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (v 33-34).

My mom taught me the GIGO principle: garbage in and garbage out. Clean speech comes from being clean inside. She reminded me that it is not enough to scrub my mouth with soap (which was one of her effective methods to reinforce the lesson to me), but I needed help to purify the water in the well of my heart. That was where God intersected my life and showed me the ability He had to work in me.

I had a friend in school whose daily speech was so bad we called him, “Potty-mouth.” He said he even swore in his sleep. His parents used to throw water on him at night to shock him to stopping this profane habit. But their efforts were a failure due to the external nature of their tactic. Their son needed an inside and deep cleaning.

Fortunately, the Living and True God works in the realm of the impossible and necessary. When my friend became a Christian, he began memorizing Scripture, a few verses at a time every week. He came upon Psalm 119:9 and 11 and was inspired by the truth and power of God’s Word. It was not an overnight transformation, but his night time commentary was changing. No longer swearing, he began quoting the Bible in his sleep.

Think theologically. The most effective cuss-control happens when we allow God change our hearts. Clean words come from a clean heart. Scripture memory is necessary, too.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2020 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – May 11

I needed a new and updated devotional routine.

Not that my quiet time had become routine. But every so often I find myself getting a bit stale and like my physical workouts, I had to find some cross-training exercises to freshen up what I had been doing. I also learned that regardless of my approach to spending time with God, it is good once in a while to take time to review my approach. I wanted to ask if it was time to vary how I connected with the Lord.

For example, for a long time my daily approach consisted to reading through the Bible in a year. Genesis to Revelation, straight through. I would start in prayer and worship, read Scripture, ponder it, wait on the Lord for insight, and pray again to live it out that day.

There is nothing wrong with my approach as far as I can tell. Yet I heard a friend describing a new challenge to his Bible reading plan that sounded intriguing. He said it would stretch me and yet not take a long time…maybe a month to see results.

He called it a Proverb a day approach. The Old Testament Book of Proverbs is nicely structured in 31 chapters, which coincide with months on the calendar that have 31 days in them. That meant I could read a chapter a day for 31 days and do a deep dive in one book of the Bible for a month – something I had never done before. And the chapters of Proverbs were not that long, so it was a fine sounding idea. I was going to do it. And I loved it.

I discovered the longest chapter (#8) has thirty-six verses (verses 34-35 became favorites), and even that chapter fit nicely into my daily Bible reading practice. The other discovery was it was easy to know what chapter to read. The tenth of July meant it was time for chapter ten.

I put into practice other things I had learned. Read one chapter slowly. Mull it over, or meditate on the verses. What was it saying? What was the Holy Spirit drawing my attention to? How could I put the idea(s) of the chapter into practice that day?

Read Proverbs 1:1-7.

Pay special attention to verses one and two from chapter one. Listen to them as you read them out loud. Meditate on them. Work to memorize them. Study them. Live them out.

Imagine if you took the Proverb a day approach for a year. January, March, May, July, August, October, and December all have thirty-one days. Imagine if for seven out of twelve months, you read the Book of Proverbs every other month from January through July, did it again in August, took September and November off from it, while reading it in October and December. If you saturated yourself in Scripture by reading and focusing on one book of the Bible like Proverbs for seven months, you would become very familiar with it.

Why spend so much time in the Book of Proverbs?

Pastor James said in his New Testament book that if you need wisdom, you should ask God (1:5). Assuming you and I need all the wisdom we can get to live lives that honor the Lord, why not dig into the Book of Proverbs, one of the greatest sources of wisdom available to us?

Grow devotionally. Try “attaining wisdom and discipline (1:1-2)” through Proverbs and see if God will not change your heart and mind. A proverb a day diet is a great workout.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2020 by Mike Olejarz

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