Category: Sin

Follow Jesus’ Example

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By Paula Marolewski, September 22, 2010 10:29 am

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. And the tempter came …” Matthew 4:1-3

The reason Jesus can be our merciful and faithful high priest (Hebrews 4:14-15) is  because he suffered as we suffer, and he was tempted as we are tempted.

Consider: Jesus wasn’t tempted by Satan right after coming up out of the water of baptism, right after being announced as the Lamb of God, right after hearing the voice from heaven and seeing the Spirit descend as a dove. Temptation then would have been easy to overcome: Jesus would have been feeling great.

No. Instead, Satan waited. Waited until the Son of Man had become exhausted in the wilderness. Waited until forty days and nights of fasting had taken their toll. Waited until the pain, the sunburn, the blisters, the dirt, and the fatigue had accomplished their dreadful work on the body of the incarnate Word. 

Then, Satan struck.

“Why don’t you take the easy way out?”

“Why don’t you give in to pride?”

“Why don’t you forget about God?”

Satan whispers such dreadful temptations to us when we are exhausted, too. But we have an example we can follow: our Savior, Jesus Christ. The same Word that he turned to is available for us, every day.

  • What temptations do you most commonly face when you are exhausted?
  • What Scriptures can you turn to to resist these temptations?
  • Who can you turn to to help you resist these temptations?


© 2010 Paula Marolewski,

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Quit Fooling Yourself

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By Paula Marolewski, September 22, 2010 10:26 am

We delight in deceiving ourselves when it comes to personal sin:

“I’m not doing anything really wrong.”

“It feels so good – how could there be anything bad about it?”

“This isn’t a sin.”

But if we looked at ourselves in the cold light of day, we would realize we were lying. We know when we’re doing wrong. We just want to keep on doing it, so we excuse it, justify it, or ignore it.

Then, we blame God when we start to reap the consequences of that sin. We blame God when our life takes a nosedive. We blame God when our prayers go unanswered. We blame God when we fall into doubt, depression, and despair.

Forget it. The truth is, if we harbor sin in our life – that is, if we knowingly and willfully continue acting in a manner displeasing to the Lord – then we are responsible for what follows. Not God. We are responsible. Me. You.  

There’s only one remedy. We must get on our knees and get our heart clean, then stand on our feet and get our life clean.

It’s time we quit fooling ourselves.


© 2010 Paula Marolewski,

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How Do I Sin Against Thee?

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By Paula Marolewski, September 22, 2010 10:24 am

Remember the old declaration? “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways!” Well, I thought of a new twist on it yesterday: “How do I sin against Thee? Let me count the ways!”

You see, I’d been ticked off at something. That’s not necessarily a sin. But then I opened my mouth and spouted off about it. That’s where the trouble began.

When I went to confess the sin of what I had said, I realized that wasn’t all I’d done:

  • I had been inappropriately angry. (I actually had no true justification to be angry at all.)
  • I had focused on one problem in life, and shown a complete lack of gratitude for my many blessings.
  • I had wallowed in resentment and bitterness.
  • I had been … shall we say … less than edifying to the person I spouted off to.
  • I had been judgmental and prejudiced in my attitude.

What an ugly list. But that is often what happens when we sin … a single sin always invites its friends to the party.

So be sure to ask yourself, next time you kneel in confession: “How do I sin against Thee?”

But be sure to finish the declaration with, “Let me repent of the ways!”


© 2010 Paula Marolewski,

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The Top 10 Confession Killers

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By Paula Marolewski, August 27, 2010 6:17 pm

What inhibits us from the effective practice of confession, either privately or corporately? Here are the top 10 confession killers:

  1. Shame. Often, it seems as if everyone else has their act together … surely they don’t have any problems or struggles with sin! This (very fallacious!) view leads us to shame, and an unwillingness to confess our own faults.
  2. Pride. Then there is the case for pride. The same pride that changed Lucifer, the angel of light, into Satan, the prince of darkness, threatens us today and everyday. When we are unwilling to admit, even to ourselves, that we are sinners, we have allowed pride to cut us off from the forgiveness of our heavenly Father.
  3. Ignorance. On the other hand, sometimes we actually do not know what is and is not sin. For new Christians, this is understandable. But for the rest of us, it is not only not understandable – it is inexcusable. We are called to know God’s Word well so that we will not sin against God (Psalm 119:11).
  4. Sloth. Sloth was one of the original seven deadly sins, but we tend to ignore it today. We’re simply too lazy to truly examine ourselves and see where we went wrong.
  5. Self-abasement. Humility is good. A worm-of-the-earth mentality is not. Humility drives us to God to confess. Self-abasement makes us think that we’re so bad that God couldn’t forgive us anyway, so why bother confessing?
  6. Culture. Our entire culture today focuses on being positive and happy. This has even crept into the Church, where we often focus so much on God’s love and goodness that we forget his righteous judgment of sin.
  7. Ambiguity. Being vague is a great way to avoid reality. We pray, “Lord, please forgive all my sins,” but we don’t actually go about naming them. Then, we don’t feel quite so guilty for continuing to commit them.
  8. Euphemisms. In our politically correct world, we are surrounded by people who call “evil” “good” by giving it another name, i.e., “alternative lifestyles.” When we find better sounding labels for our own sins, it makes us feel justified – instead of judged.
  9. Assumptions. We make assumptions about God – we may think he’s so good and loving that he’ll “let it slide” so we don’t bother confessing, or we think he’s up there with a baseball bat to bash us, and so we’re scared to confess.
  10. Belittlement. We tend to view some sins as “smaller” than others and therefore negligible – forgetting that all sin, great or small, cuts us off from God.

Never forget John’s words of warning and hope in I John 1:8-9: “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Don’t let these confession killers destroy you!


© 2009 Paula Marolewski

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An Open Letter to a Christian Considering Adultery

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By Paula Marolewski, August 13, 2010 5:49 pm

Dear Friend,

I don’t know who you are – man or woman, old or young. But here is where you stand today: you are considering committing adultery with another person. I know no details whatsoever of what has brought this to pass – I don’t know whether things happened between you and your spouse that hurt you deeply, whether there is another person involved who influenced your decision, whether you are experiencing what is commonly called a “mid-life crisis,” or whether you have suffered from deep depression or despair.

Regardless of the cause and source, I would encourage you most strongly: do not doubt God, and do not doubt his Word.

Consider God’s Word in Malachi 2:13-16:

“You flood the LORD’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, ‘Why?’ It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.

“Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.

“‘I hate divorce,’ says the LORD God of Israel, ‘and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,’ says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.”

The Lord hates divorce, yet that appears to be the path you are deliberately pursuing. Hear the warning: God will not accept your offerings if you continue on this path. He will not hear you. He warns here of judgment, and encourages you twice to guard yourself in your spirit, and not to act treacherously toward your spouse.

“Guard yourself in your spirit.” Where is your spirit now? What are you feeding on? Are you feeding on the Word? Are you seeking the Lord? Or have you allowed other influences, thoughts, and emotions to slip under your guard and infect your spirit? “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith!” (I Peter 5:8-9).

Resist the devil! Resist temptation and sin! “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:6).

“Sin is crouching at your door. It desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Consider your sin, I urge you. Take a bald look at it, and awaken your soul again to its horror:

  • Your sin against your spouse.  Matthew 19:6 states clearly that “what God has joined together, let no one separate.” And again in I Corinthians 7:10-11: “To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.”
  • Your sin against your children. Heed the warning in Matthew 18:6. “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were drowned in the depths of the sea.”
  • Your sin against unbelievers. Matthew 5:14-16 exhorts us that “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” People are watching you. What will they think of God and Christ if they see you choose a course of sin?
  • Your sin against the church. There are people who look up to you as a model and an example of a Christian spouse and parent. People who have been hurt through broken or damaging relationships and who are striving to overcome a natural bitterness. People who desperately need to see healthy Christian models so that they can learn to live in God’s grace and see with God’s eyes. If you fall into sin, Satan will take the opportunity to whisper in their ears, “See? People are untrustworthy. Nobody knows the meaning of the word ‘commitment.’ Everyone is self-centered and unfaithful.”

I warn you that God judges sin. Hebrews 4:12-13 reminds us, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

You will have to give an account to God of your actions today.

Remember that, as a Christian, you do not have the right to do as you want. You gave up that right at the Cross. You belong to Jesus now, and are called to obedience to him: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (I Corinthians 6:19-20).

But God is a God of hope:

  • Psalm 43:5 … “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.”
  • Romans 5:3-5 … “We also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
  • Romans 15:13 … “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Whatever has happened, God is a God of hope. If you have sinned, forgiveness is open to you (I John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”). If your spouse has sinned against you, grace is available to you to forgive him or her and be reconciled (Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”) If you are weighed down with anxiety and despair, God can lift you up (Psalm 139:23-24 – “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.”)

I urge you to turn back from the path you are on. Return to grace. Return to forgiveness. Return to obedience. Return to the Word of the Lord and to the presence of God.

“So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

“And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’

“And they began to celebrate.” (Luke 15:20-24)


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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Christ Died for My “Respectable” Sins

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By Paula Marolewski, July 11, 2010 4:32 pm

Jesus was despised because of my envy.

Forsaken of men because of my greed.

He became the man of sorrows due to my grudges,

and was acquainted with grief because I lack self-control.

Men hid their faces from him due to my laziness

and he was spit on because I laugh at crude jokes.


Surely my selfishness he himself bore

and my lusts he carried.

He was stricken because of my irritable words –

smitten of God as payment for my pride,

afflicted as the penalty for my lack of compassion.


He was pierced through for my gossip;

He was crushed for my impatience.

The chastening to forgive my lack of gratitude fell upon Him,

and by His scourging I am healed from my judgmental attitudes.


In my rudeness, I have gone astray,

and I have turned to my own prejudices:

but the LORD has laid on Him the total of all my ungodliness.



© 2010 Paula Marolewski

The Time to Deal with Death

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By Paula Marolewski, July 11, 2010 4:29 pm

Today’s entry is an excerpt from the novella Wasteland:

In the social structure and order that I hope you enjoy, it is easy to feel contempt and embarrassment when the mention of sin is made. Sin is a gross term. An ugly one. We prefer to label it, “Freedom of choice.” “Alternative lifestyles.” “Situational ethics.” “Tolerance.” It’s fine to label a murderer as a murderer—unless, of course, that murderer holds political office, or is an upstanding citizen, or a savvy lawyer. Then it is a matter of “extenuating circumstances,” and at best, “manslaughter,” or preferably “temporary insanity.”

But to define wrong as sin, and to use images such as leprosy in order to convey it—that is a social faux pas of the first order. But that, too, is the first symptom of sin: for just as leprosy destroys nerve-endings so that the victim is not aware of decaying and wounded and rotting flesh, so also sin deadens our senses so that we are unaware of our decaying and wounded and rotting souls.

We throw a thousand excuses at sin. We claim that our dysfunctional families and society made us what we are. We agree that if it feels good, and doesn’t hurt anyone, it can’t be wrong. We affirm that if the end is good, any means is justified in attaining it.

But this is all hypocrisy and self-justification. Just as we claim that there are little sins and big ones. For if murder is the destruction of the body, isn’t gossip the destruction of trust? Slander the destruction of relationships? Adultery the destruction of fidelity? Isn’t anger as sharp a blow as physical abuse, and isn’t gluttony as much an orgy as alcoholism? And for the passive sins—isn’t sloth the killer of ingenuity? Pride the hammer-blow to equality? Envy the destroyer of peace?

If we can ever get on our knees enough to acknowledge sin, we will find damnation coming hard on its heels. This is another subject to be ignored by polite society. We all know that we sin, but we refuse to call it by its rightful name. We all know that we will die, but we dance desperately in the sun in a vain effort to stay the coming of the night. But once you realize the truth of your own immortality—once you hear the voice of your judge reverberating through the night-time of your soul—once you recognize sin for the rupture in the universe that it is—then you will know the fear of damnation. For to give up an infinite good—to spit in the face of Someone of infinite good—is an infinite evil demanding infinite retribution.

But that is not a topic of conversation for morning coffee breaks. We save it for the bedsides of the sick and dying, and wonder why the hopelessness remains.

The time to deal with death is when you are still alive. Afterwards, it is too late. Face your fears and doubts and questions while you have the strength to seek out the answers. The strength to hammer on the door of eternity until Truth lifts the latch.

For he who asks, receives. He who seeks, finds. And to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.


© 2009 Paula Marolewski


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Restoring Our Sensitivity to Sin

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By Paula Marolewski, July 11, 2010 4:23 pm

“Why don’t I feel guilty?”

Have you ever asked that question of yourself? You knew you had done wrong. You knew it when you made the decision to commit the sin. You didn’t act out of ignorance. You hadn’t made a “mistake.” But even after your sin “found you out” and you were faced with the consequences, you still felt no guilt.

Some people would say, “You shouldn’t feel guilty! You were victimized by others and acted out of your own significant hurt.”

And perhaps that is true. Perhaps you were victimized. Perhaps you are in pain. That doesn’t mean you are excused from moral responsibility – and from moral guilt.

But what if, based upon your Christian faith, you acknowledge your moral responsibility but still feel nothing but emptiness inside? No true feeling of guilt? What is going on?

If you experience this, it is a definite warning sign – a warning that you have become de-sensitized to sin. All of us can fall into this trap. While there are several reasons we can become de-sensitized to sin, the biggest is probably this: we become de-sensitized because of repeated acts of sin. I read an illustration once (I cannot recall where now), that said the path of sin is similar to sticking a piece of duct tape to your arm and tearing it off. It hurts like crazy the first time – that’s guilt and conscience. But put that same piece of tape on again and tear it away, and it hurts less … there’s less stickiness to it, and less for it to stick onto. Repeat and repeat, and finally the tape won’t stick at all. Similarly, when we repeat sin again and again in our lives, eventually it doesn’t appear to us to be sin at all.

So what do we do when we realize that we have sinned … and that we feel no guilt about it?

Confess and repent of your sin. You see, both confession and repentance are acts of the will. They have nothing to do with our emotions. Certainly, it’s easier to repent if we also feel sorrowful and have an appropriate sense of guilt (since that drives us to our knees faster), but it’s not necessary. Acknowledge your sin, admit your offense against God and man, and make the decision to change your ways. God will forgive you.

Now, however, having taken the most important step of restoring your relationship with God, you need to re-sensitize yourself to sin, so that you recognize it for what it is and resurrect your conscience to help you avoid it. Here are some steps that may prove helpful:

First, I would suggest praying a very, very difficult prayer. It is taken from Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises. The prayer is this:

“I beg for intense and increasing sorrow and tears for my sins.”

Ouch. Such a prayer hurts. It will take guts to pray it, but I believe it is an important and necessary step. I encourage you to make it personal, for instance:

“I beg for intense and increasing sorrow and tears for my sins, and a renewed and holy sense of guilt for what I have done. I pray that You would restore to me a horror and hatred of sin that will drive me to You.”

I believe that God will answer that prayer, because it is a prayer to be Christ-like. In the short run, it will hurt like anything, but in the long run, it will be for your good and his glory.

Next, I would spend time thinking about the effect your sin had on the life of the person(s) you sinned against. Imagine how their beliefs about themselves and life and other people have been twisted. Imagine their sense of pain, loss, betrayal, and fear. Imagine how their relationship with God or other people may be scarred for life because of what you did. Imagine how you might have helped set them on a path of sin and death, de-sensitizing their conscience and deceiving their minds.

This will hurt. Let it hurt. Pray that God will give you the grace to embrace the hurt, then give the hurt over to him.

Finally, I encourage you to pray for the person(s) you sinned against. Pray for their:

  • Spirit, that God would draw them to himself if they do not know him, or that they would be restored in their faith.
  • Emotions, that God would bring healing for the pain, fear, self-loathing, etc. Imagine the emotions they might be feeling, and pray specifically about those things.
  • Mind, that God would remove lies, deceptions, and self-justifications and help them to understand and embrace the Truth.
  • Body, that God would bring healing if there are physical wounds from your sin.
  • Relationships, that God would give them people to support, love, care, and encourage them.

Bear in mind that re-sensitizing your spirit will take time, just as de-sensitizing it did. Do not be surprised if, as you continue to grow in the Lord, you find yourself “awakening” more and more to the horror and guilt of your sin. That is healthy, if it is treated appropriately: accept the sensitivity with thanksgiving and rejoice, for you are forgiven! Satan plays with guilt two ways: removing our sense of it so that we can’t recognize sin, and heightening our sense of it so that we can’t recognize forgiveness. Remember: God intended guilt to let us know we had done wrong, so that he could make it right.  


© 2009 Paula Marolewski


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What Makes God Spit

Provoking the Lord

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By Paula Marolewski, July 11, 2010 4:16 pm

I was reading in Judges, and was struck by these verses (2:11-13):

“Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals, and they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they provoked the LORD to anger. So they forsook the LORD and served Baal and the Ashtaroth.”

It can be horrifying to really consider God’s wrath as it was frequently revealed in the Old Testament (and, incidentally, as it will be revealed again at the end of time). But let’s not lose sight of why God poured out his wrath and judgment: he was provoked.

Consider some of the many synonyms for “provoke”: aggravate, anger, chafe, enrage, exasperate, incite, inflame, infuriate, madden, offend, rile, vex.

My point is this: Israel wasn’t generally well-meaning but committing an occasional “oops.” God didn’t have a short fuse that they managed in all innocence to set off. They were deliberately, consistently, flagrantly engaging in sins that were evil to the “nth” degree. They were provoking the Lord to anger. Over and over and over and over and over and over again. Until finally, they got what was coming to them.

Here’s the takeaway: God is still God, and people are still people.

Are you provoking the Lord to anger with deliberate, consistent, flagrant sin?

If you are, then don’t be surprised when he responds accordingly.


© 2010 Paula Marolewski,

Right Words, Wrong Hearts

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By Paula Marolewski, April 16, 2010 10:06 am

You’re probably familiar with the ringing declaration Joshua made at the end of his life: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!” (Joshua 24:15). But do you remember the rest of that conversation? 

Joshua was soon going to die. He called all the elders, judges, and officers of Israel to him. He gave them a short recap of their history, right up through their present conquest of Canaan. Then he delivered his challenge: “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve!” (Joshua 24:15). And Israel responded as one, “We also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.” (Joshua 24:18). 

At this point, I would have thought that Joshua would have leaned back with a glad sigh and died in peace. But no: instead, he challenges the people with these words:

“You will not be able to serve the LORD, for He is a holy God He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgression or your sins. If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you after He has done good to you” (Joshua 24:19-20).

Ouch! Again, the people proclaim their loyalty to God. Is Joshua satisfied now? Evidently not, because he replies, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen for yourselves the LORD, to serve Him” (Joshua 24:22).

Now, at this point, I’m wondering, “Joshua, are you trying to encourage these people, or actually trying to turn them toward other gods? This isn’t exactly a half-time pep talk! What’s going on here?”

Then the reason for Joshua’s harsh words becomes clear. For after Israel affirms for the third time that they will serve God, Joshua confronts them with the following:

“Now therefore, put away the foreign gods which are in your midst, and incline your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel” (Joshua 24:23).

Do you see it? Here are all the people of Israel, including the elders, judges, and officers, all declaring their undying, unswerving allegiance to the Lord. But they were already falling into idolatry! They had foreign gods in their midst!  

Joshua wasn’t concerned because someday they might turn aside to idols … he was concerned because they were already waltzing merrily down that path!

They were saying the right words. But they were demonstrating the wrong heart.

We know the end of that story.

What about us? Think of the words of commitment we sing on Sunday morning. The prayers we pray as we stand in church. Our good intentions as we respond to the sermon. 

What would Joshua say? Would he nod in approval, lift his hand in benediction, and smile?

Or would he fix his eye on us and start enumerating the sins, the gods, the idols that we thought to hide in our midst?

Remember, it isn’t enough to have the right words but the wrong heart.




© 2010 Paula Marolewski,

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