Category: Growth

Grim, Iron Determination

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By Paula Marolewski, February 12, 2012 2:58 pm

When we think about God’s call on our life, we tend to think of it in terms of inspiration, joy, fulfillment, and purpose. And it is all those things. But we should not forget one other important thing: 

God’s call and our ministry will require grim, iron determination.

This is a word both of warning and of encouragement. If you follow God’s call and immerse yourself in ministry (as all of us must – this is not just for pastors and missionaries!), you will experience suffering. Obstacles. Persecution. Disappointment. Conflict. 

There will be times when your soul seems barren and your ministry pointless. When the world is loud and God is silent. When hope seems a phantom and the future appears bleak.

Consider Paul’s words in II Corinthians 4:7-12:

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.

There is the encouragement. We have this treasure – the treasure of the gospel, of ministry, of calling – and no matter what Satan throws our way, we will not be crushed, have no cause for despair, will never be forsaken, cannot be destroyed.

It will take everything you have, given sometimes with grim, iron determination. But the result will be the life of Jesus – manifested in and through you to a dying world.


© 2012 Paula Marolewski,

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Thy Will Be Done

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By Paula Marolewski, September 17, 2010 1:55 pm

Jesus did not teach us to pray, “Thy will happen.” He taught us to pray, “Thy will be done.”

Go do it!


© 2010 Paula Marolewski,

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A Creed for Daily Life

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By Paula Marolewski, August 21, 2010 7:34 pm

I believe that God is my Father
and I am His child.

I believe that I have right standing with God
because of what Jesus has done,
not because of anything I do.

I believe that Christ is with me,
whether or not I “feel” Him.

I believe that my worth is intrinsic
because I am created in the image of God,
and Jesus died and rose for me.

I believe that God is doing a good work
in and through me,
and that this day is part of it.

I believe that when I confess and repent,
I am completely forgiven.

I believe that the Holy Spirit will lead me through this day,
and will give me grace, strength, and wisdom
as I need it.

I believe that God will provide
for every need I have.

I believe that God holds me securely,
and that nothing can separate me from Him.


© 2001 Paula Marolewski

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I’m Remembering …

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By Paula Marolewski, July 11, 2010 4:31 pm

Some of you reading this may be struggling with your ministry, your purpose, your calling. You are plagued by doubt, exhausted by fatigue, depressed by an incredible lack of results. Take courage today!


  • I’m remembering people like Noah, who faithfully built the ark over the course of 70 to 100 years … in the midst of mockery and among a people of wickedness. Surely, he preached repentance during that time, but when the rains came, only his family was saved.


  • I’m remembering people like Joseph, who knew that God had great things for him, but who first endured betrayal, slavery, slander, and prison. Instead of growing bitter or rejecting God, he remained faithful to his calling to save not only his own family and people, but the entire Egyptian nation.


  • I’m remembering people like David, who knew he was called to be king, and yet endured 10 years of hiding in the wilderness, being hunted down like a wild animal.


  • I’m remembering people like Jeremiah, who was so overwhelmed by the scorn of his people, who endured such reproach and derision, that he finally cried out, “I will not remember God or speak his name anymore!” But then he admitted that “In my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary of holding it in and I cannot endure it” (Jer. 20:9). And so he continued to preach and proclaim the word of God, even though no one would listen.


  • I’m remembering people like Paul, who stated that he had been subject to “labors … [and] imprisonments, beaten times without number often in danger of death. Five times I received form the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure upon me of concern for all the churches” (II Corinthians 11:23-28).


  • And yes, I’m remembering Jesus, whose own family thought him crazy, whose people rejected him, whose disciples deserted him at his greatest hour of need, who was slandered, insulted, mocked, and killed.


What’s the thread that binds all these people together? They didn’t fear failure, because they knew their purpose. They didn’t shy away from pain, because they had their eyes on the prize. They didn’t hesitate at sacrifice, because they were pressing on to their eternal reward.


Stand firm – God is with you!



© 2009 Paula Marolewski,


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Dare to be Decisive

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By Paula Marolewski, July 11, 2010 4:27 pm

Consider I Kings 17:1:

“Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, ‘As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.’”

We see something about Elijah in this verse that is very important: Elijah was decisive … and that decisiveness was key to all that he accomplished.

Too often as Christians we mistake waffling and indecision for submission. We preface or finish everything we say with “if the Lord wills.” Originally, such a phrase was meant to indicate our recognition of God’s sovereignty over our plans – and that is good and appropriate. But the phrase has now degenerated so that the real effect is a general uncertainty about how to proceed. How can you walk confidently if at every step you are wondering if the Lord is going to change your direction?

Elijah demonstrates true submission: the submission that results in decisive action. He served the Lord every day (“As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve”), indicating that he was in constant prayer, worship, and communion with God. This regular service put him in the place where he could hear God, and God told him to declare judgment on sin through a drought on the land.

Elijah’s submission to the Lord gave him the courage to be decisive when it came time to act. He marched up to King Ahab and delivered the message of judgment. No hesitation. No minced words. No “if the Lord wills” … the Lord had already willed it. Elijah was confidently carrying out his orders.


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,


Why am I in Pain?

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By Paula Marolewski, July 11, 2010 4:21 pm

It’s easy to get tied in mental knots when we are in pain. Sometimes we assume that God causes all our pain, or that all pain is the direct result of our sin. If you are in pain today, consider the following – I hope it will help restore your theological balance, and therefore your ability to move forward through your pain:

  • Some pain is simply the result of the world being fallen. Things like sickness or natural disasters, over which we have no control. When catastrophe strikes, the good and the evil (and everyone in between) all suffer together.
  • Some pain is the result of our past decisions. There are consequences to our actions. Some consequences take years to work through and work out. But don’t ever think that God is up there gloating that you are in pain, or saying, “Well, he/she really deserves this!” No. Nix. Never. He was – and is – so concerned about helping you (no matter what the problem is that you are facing) that he sent Jesus to die for you and rise from the dead, so that you can have the power of the resurrection itself working on your behalf. 
  • Some pain is the result of other people’s sin, like when one spouse abuses another the other. God doesn’t cause that: he doesn’t want it; he doesn’t desire it. He permits it because that was the cost of giving us free will. To step in and prevent us from hurting each other would, in fact, be negating the freedom of action that was his greatest gift to us when he made us in his image. But his heart breaks every time we hurt each other, and he stands ready and waiting to help us when we call on him. 
  • And occasionally – just occasionally – God may actually send pain our way by his direct action. If he does, we can be sure that it is always for our own good, and that he never sends pain without also sending the grace to see us through it.


God is with you in your pain. He loves you. He will see you through.


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

Grace in Pain

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By Paula Marolewski, March 19, 2010 9:51 am

Today’s entry is an excerpt from the novel Meditations of a Slave. We often cling to the myth that the Christian life will be easy: no bumps, no fusses, no pain. But that – as the narrator below suddenly realizes – is not what Jesus promises: 

The pain grew more and more intense, and then, suddenly, something soothing and cool washed over me; and I froze again, but for a different reason. I, unlike your old master, never ask you to suffer needlessly. My grace always resurrects the suffering to create life. Do you trust me?

The words were a balm, and I paused in some timeless moment away from the pain of my leg to consider them. I only knew the punishment and driving presence of my old master. I wanted to believe that I would live happily now—despite what Paulos had told me.

But what my new Master promised was grace in pain, not painlessness. Grace meant that the suffering would always better me, and usually someone else as well. Grace meant that I’d be able to bear it. Grace meant that he’d be with me through it.


Questions to consider:

  • Do you wrestle with the concepts of pain and grace? Where do you struggle most?
  • What does it mean to you that God can redeem and resurrect your suffering – whatever the source of that suffering – to create life?


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

Like this? Read more at:  Meditations of a Slave

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Seedling: A True Evaluation of Your Worth

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By Paula Marolewski, March 6, 2010 5:49 pm

“But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. And it was for this he called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brethren, stand firm …” – II Thessalonians 2:13-15a

Do you struggle with a feeling of unworthiness? Then listen carefully: God doesn’t roll his eyes when he thinks of you. Your salvation is no afterthought. God isn’t grudgingly cracking the doors of heaven to let you slip in.

His word here reminds us that we – each and every one of us! – are:

  • beloved by the Lord,
  • chosen for salvation,
  • sanctified by the Spirit, and
  • destined for glory! 

Worthless? No way! God has given us a true evaluation of our worth – signed in blood and sealed with love!

  • Take time right now to meditate on these four amazing truths: that you are beloved by the Lord, chosen for salvation, sanctified by the Spirit, and destined for glory. 
  • Ask God to help you stand firm with a true understanding of your worth!


Copyright © 2010, Paula J. Marolewski. All rights reserved.

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Seedling: A Time for Everything

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By Paula Marolewski, February 27, 2010 11:48 am

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1

“There is an appointed time for everything.” These words are followed by the familiar litany of opposites: “A time to give birth, and a time to die … to plant and to uproot … to kill and to heal … to tear down and to build up … to weep and to laugh …” and the list goes on (cf. Ecclesiastes 3:2-8).

We can take one of two approaches as we consider all the events that make up life. On the one hand, we can look at life and say, “Life is always going to have ups and downs. Therefore, since I know that something bad will always follow something good, I’d better not get too comfortable or really throw myself into enjoying the moment, because at some point things are going to get ugly again. I just need to resign myself to that.”

This edges toward a Buddhist attitude: desire nothing, remove emotional attachments, accept life as it comes.

Alternatively, we can look at life and say, “Life is always going to have ups and downs. Therefore, I will enjoy all the good moments that God brings my way thoroughly and completely, with praise and thanksgiving. And when the bad times come, I will accept them, too, as part of life. But I will do so with the knowledge and confidence that God will see me through them with his grace and strength and presence. And at some point, I know things will get better again, so I will praise God even in the dark times.”

That is the Christian attitude: experience the fullness of life, the fullness of humanity, and the fullness of God.

  • Which approach and attitude do you have toward life? Why?
  • Do you secretly hold to the belief that as a Christian, life should always be good and only get better? Why?
  • How have you tended to react when bad things happen in life?
  • Are you able to fully enjoy the good times in life? Why or why not?


Copyright © 2010, Paula J. Marolewski. All rights reserved.

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Seedling: Right in the Eyes

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By Paula Marolewski, February 8, 2010 12:10 pm

“If the devil tells you something is too fearful to look at, look at it. If he says something is too terrible to hear, hear it. If you think some truth unbearable, bear it.” – G.K. Chesterton

The devil has many schemes to hold us back. One of his key methods is fear. Consider:

  • We are afraid of failing. So we never try.
  • We are afraid of what might be lurking deep inside us. So we never root out the sin in our lives.
  • We are afraid of facing the consequences of our actions. So we run away.

The list goes on. Fearful to speak, lest we upset the person spoken to. Fearful to confront, lest we destroy a relationship. Fearful to admit, lest people scorn us. Fearful to commit, lest we not be able to live up to expectations.

And on, and on.

When we are afraid, we do what a child does during the scary part of a movie: we hunch up, screw up our eyes tightly, and clap our hands over our ears.

If I can’t see it, if I can’t hear it, if I deny it exists … it can’t get me.

But the truth is, shutting our eyes and ears will never succeed in protecting us from the scary things in life. Think what would happen if a soldier was afraid and closed his eyes and started singing nonsense songs loudly so he couldn’t hear the noise of battle around him? He would be dead in a moment.

No, the only way to conquer both fear and the enemies you are frightened of is to open your eyes. Open your ears. Acknowledge the truth. Look reality right in the eyes.

When you do, you will see the situation is vivid color. And it may be even scarier than you thought. But by opening your eyes, you’ll be able to see something else as well: the God who is right beside you, leading you, guiding you, directing you.

And suddenly, you’ll find there’s nothing to fear.

  •  How have you historically dealt with issues that frightened you? Why?
  • Are you frightened of anything right now? Why?
  • If you are fearful of something today, take a deep breath, and bring the whole matter before the Lord in prayer. Be detailed and specific – about the situation, about why you are frightened, and about what you have done about it to date. Then ask the Lord to give you the courage, wisdom, and grace to face the situation.


Copyright © 2010, Paula J. Marolewski. All rights reserved.

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