Category: Ministry

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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Infinite Value

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By Paula Marolewski, September 22, 2010 10:35 am

We live in a world where success is determined by numbers. The more people, the more results, the more sales, the more fans … more is better. More is successful. The corollary? Less means failure.

Unfortunately, we bring that yardstick right into our Christian ministry. We evaluate our “success” on the basis of how many lives we touch, how many people we preach to, how many books we sell, how many listeners we have for our radio show until we achieve … success.

More is better. Less is failure.

But let’s face it. Only a small percentage of Christians alive today preach to crowds or write books or talk on radio shows. Only a handful will reach hundreds or thousands or millions of people. Most of us live, serve, and minister quietly within a small circle of work, church, family, and friends. Does that mean that the vast majority of Christians cannot experience “success” in Christian ministry?

Well, if “more is better” and numbers define success, then I guess the kingdom of God is doomed to failure. Fortunately, that is not the case! Here’s why, in six short words:

Every soul is of infinite value.

That’s right. Every soul. Every person you meet. Every woman you speak to. Every man you work with. Every child you know. Every soul is of infinite value.

That means that if you touch just one life with God’s truth, God’s love, and God’s Spirit, your “success” rate jumps from zero to infinity. Just like that. Think of it like this: everything you do has infinite worth, because it impacts people of infinite value.

Suddenly, the playing field is level. All of us who serve the Lord are working toward one end: furthering the kingdom of God. We all have gifts, and the gifts all differ. What is required is that we use our gifts as he gives us opportunity. There is no such thing as one person having “more success” than another just because they have a ministry that reaches a greater number of people. What matters is that we are reaching the people God has given us the responsibility to reach. That is why Jesus taught us so clearly:

“And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward” (Matthew 10:42).

Remember: Every soul is of infinite value. Therefore, everything you do has infinite worth.


© 2010 Paula Marolewski,

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Comfort Others

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By Paula Marolewski, September 22, 2010 10:28 am

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” II Corinthians 1:3-4

“So that.” Those two little words in the above verses pack a powerful punch. When we have been the recipients of God’s comfort, we have a responsibility: a responsibility to pass on what we have received.

That means we cannot sweep our struggles under the rug and hope no one goes poking around and discovers them. Be honest: it’s often what we want to do. We want to pretend like nothing is wrong; pretend like nothing has ever been wrong. But that is actually one of the many faces of pride. We are, in essence, being too proud to admit that we have had a problem; that we have been in need of God’s grace.

On the other hand, when we obey God’s command to pass on his comfort, it takes humility. We have to admit our humanity. Our weakness. Our struggle. Our doubts. Our fears.

But by the amazing grace of God, our very humility and humanity become the source of comfort, wisdom, strength, faith, and courage for others.

So reach out. You have been given great gifts by God during the course of your struggles. Don’t hold those gifts to yourself. Pass them on.

  • How has God comforted you in your struggles?
  • How has God provided for you in the midst of your struggles?
  • What wisdom have you gained from your struggles?
  • How can you pass on what you have received to help others?


© 2010 Paula Marolewski,

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Following the Call

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

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. – Matthew 4:18-20

Did you ever pause to consider that Peter and Andrew really didn’t know what they were getting themselves into? They knew what they were leaving – a known, solid profession – but they had no idea what Jesus was calling them to exchange it for. “I will make you fishers of men”? What did that mean?

But they left their nets and followed him. No questions. No hesitation. No caveats.

Over the next three years, what was involved in Jesus’ call became clearer and clearer. They began to understand the gospel, got used to preaching, and saw lives changed.

Then came Calvary, the empty tomb, the ascension, and Pentecost. That’s when the call finally came into true focus.

I believe God often calls us into ministry (whether professional or lay ministry) the same way today. His voice is unmistakable, his command to follow doesn’t allow for misunderstanding, but he usually leaves the details vague at first. Why? Because he wants us to follow him … not chase after some personal ambition or dream or desire. And because he wants us to follow him … not run ahead of his plan and his timing.

But we frequently resist:

“What, exactly, are you calling me to, God?”

“Can you give me some details here?”

“I need to weigh the pros and cons.”

“I can go, but I have some qualifiers to attach to the contract.”

We want to know how things will work out. What we will be required to do. What the cost will involve. How the future will unfold. Will we be successful? Will we be happy? Will we be fulfilled?

Did you ever stop to think that by asking questions like that, you are placing yourself above God? You’re treating him like a vacuum-cleaner salesman on your front doorstep: “Show me what you’re selling and I’ll tell you if I’m buying.”

We forget that he delivers a call – not a request. He didn’t ask Peter and Andrew if they would consider coming with him. He called them: “Come, follow me.”

Put aside your questions. Your hesitations. Your caveats.

Forget asking God for guarantees or security.

Follow the call. He’ll make everything clear to you in his time.


© 2010 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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Why Do We Think It Should Be Easy?

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By Paula Marolewski, July 11, 2010 4:34 pm

I want life to be easy. I want following God to be easy. At my core, I think that if I’m obeying God and working for his kingdom, then obstacles should fall away in front of me.

However, that’s not what the Bible and what history teaches. This morning, I was reminded of that fact when I read these words from Jeremiah 1:17-19:

“‘Now, gird up your loins and arise, and speak to them all which I command you. Do not be dismayed before them, or I will dismay you before them. Now behold, I have made you today as a fortified city and as a pillar of iron and as walls of bronze against the whole land, to the kings of Judah, to its princes, to its priests and to the people of the land. They will fight against you, but they will not overcome you, for I am with you to deliver you,’ declares the LORD.”

Jeremiah was called as a prophet to speak the words of God to a rebellious nation. And God promised him right up front that it wasn’t going to be easy. That everyone – the king, the princes, the priests, and the people – would fight against him.

I then thought of the apostles: all martyred except for John, who was tortured and exiled to the island of Patmos.

And then the memory came to me of standing in one of the porticoes of Chartres cathedral, where bas-relief carvings on the pillars depict in gruesome detail the sufferings of the saints who had gone before.

Will many obstacles fall away in front of us when we follow God’s will? Absolutely. God will clear the path for his Word to go forth in power. But it is also true that all the armies of hell will rise against us when we seek to humbly obey the voice of our Lord.

He never promised it would be easy. He promised we would be victorious.


© 2009 Paula Marolewski


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Commanded to Suffer

Afflicted But Not Crushed

A Sacrifice for God

Intelligent Risk

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By Paula Marolewski, March 3, 2010 10:50 am

Much of the Christian life is about maintaining a healthy balance. One area where this applies is when the question arises as to whether to move forward with a new venture in the church or in our life.

Here are the two extreme ends of the see-saw:

  • “Safety at all costs.” We don’t want to move forward unless and until God has spelled out complete success for us. And so we wait, and wait, and wait … and nothing ever gets done
  • “Foolhardy risk.” We go forward full of faith, but without thinking things through carefully. And so we fall on our face and our adventure ends in ignominy.  

Where is the balance point, then? I believe it is in “intelligent risk.”

Faith does indeed call us to take risks. Just ask David, Gideon, Nehemiah, Paul, and others through the ages.

But faith also calls us to be intelligent. None of these people leaped before they looked – they knew what they were getting into, they had counted the costs, and they had taken appropriate precautions.

Don’t idolize either safety or risk. Live a life of real faith – a faith that embraces “intelligent risk.”


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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Heroes are Real People, Too

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By Paula Marolewski, February 17, 2010 11:46 am

It is easy – and understandable – to feel overwhelmed when confronted with evil on a huge scale. We tend to think, “What difference can I make? I can’t change the tide of what’s happening. This is too big for me. Maybe if I was ((name your favorite Christian leader, past or present)), then I could do something about this. But I’m not. I’m just me.”

Now consider Elijah, the prophet of God. He faced down King Ahab, stopped the rain for three and a half years, took on 950 prophets of Baal and Asherah, raised a boy from the dead, and called Israel back to Yahweh, the one true God. And yet James 5:17-18 states clearly and simply:

“Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.”

Did you hear that? “Elijah was a man just like us.” He may have been a hero, but he was – at the core – just a regular man, with all that that entailed:

  • He struggled with sin.
  • He fought against depression.
  • He battled with fear.

He wasn’t perfect, he wasn’t omniscient, he wasn’t always fearless. He was a man – just like us.


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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Seedling: Kindle Afresh

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By Paula Marolewski, January 23, 2010 12:08 pm

“For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you…” – II Timothy 1:6

We have all been given spiritual gifts by God (cf. I Corinthians 12:7). It would be great to think of these gifts as working almost independently of us … always pouring out strong and clean and powerful, like Niagara Falls. Unstoppable.

But the truth of the matter is, spiritual gifts are more like a fire – a fire that waxes and wanes depending on what we’re putting into it. Their effectiveness depends not only upon God, the Giver of the gifts, but also upon us, the recipients of the gifts. What are we doing with what we have been given?

To keep a fire burning steadily requires constant vigilance and effort. You have to gather the right kind of wood, place it properly, and feed the flame regularly. Failure to do so will allow the fire to burn down to its embers, and to eventually go out entirely.

That is why Paul, in his second epistle to Timothy, reminded the young man to “kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you.” He knew that the world could easily smother Timothy’s fire. He then showed Timothy exactly how to ensure that the fire of his spiritual gifts would burn hot and strong: Timothy would need to be disciplined (II Timothy 1:7). To ground himself in Scripture (II Timothy 1:13). To devote himself completely to God (II Timothy 2:4). To pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace (II Timothy 2:22). To use his gifts in every time and place (II Timothy 4:2,5).

What was true for him is also true for us. Let us “kindle afresh” the gifts that God has given to us. When we do, we will set the world on fire.

  • What are your spiritual gifts?
  • Is the fire of your spiritual gifts burning hot and strong, or are the darkness and the cold closing in around you?
  • If the fire of your spiritual gifts is waning, what do you need to do to “kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you”?


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

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A Plan and a Purpose

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By Paula Marolewski, December 14, 2009 4:42 pm

The Bible teaches that God has a plan and purpose for us – here are some of its highpoints:

  • God calls us to become like Christ. We see that in verses like Romans 8:29: “For whom [God] foreknew, he also predestined to become conformed to the image of his Son.”
  • God calls us to spread the Gospel. The Great Commission states it clearly in Matthew 28:19-20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.”
  • God calls us to love the world. I Corinthians 13 describes that love, declaring in verses 7-8, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”
  • God calls us to serve the church. In Ephesians 4:12 we are told that we have received spiritual gifts “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.”
  • God calls us to stand firm against the devil. Ephesians 6:10-12 exhorts us to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

Consider it: Our goal is to become like Christ. Our commission is to spread the Gospel. Our command is to love the world. Our privilege is to serve the church. Our battle is to fight the devil.

This is a great calling. This describes a life filled with purpose!


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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