Category: Ministry

The Case of the Open and Shut Mouth

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By Paula Marolewski, November 18, 2009 6:48 pm

Okay, I admit it – I really enjoy the Perry Mason novels by Erle Stanley Gardner. Hence the title of this post. (Some of Gardner’s Mason novels were The Case of the Lucky Loser, The Case of the Terrified Typist, The Case of the Waylaid Wolf … you get the point!)

I always thought it sounded so leveling when Mason would object in court that his opponent was presenting evidence that was “Incompetent, irrelevant, and immaterial!” And then I wondered – does God ever deliver that divine objection to us? For instance …

… when Abraham protested that he was 100 years old?

… when Moses complained that he couldn’t speak eloquently?

… when Isaiah confessed his sinfulness?

… when Jeremiah claimed that he was too young to be a prophet?

… when Mary pointed out her virginity?

… when Peter denied Jesus?

… when Paul persecuted the church?

In every case, we as humans would say, “Yes, that is a good argument as to why you can’t succeed/God can’t work/it can’t happen!”

But God stands up in the court of human affairs and thunders, “Incompetent, irrelevant, immaterial!”

He is the God of the Universe: 

  • No excuse is acceptable to him,
  • No problem is insurmountable to him,
  • No sin is unforgivable by him, and
  • No person is unusable by him!

So if you find yourself opening your mouth to say, “But, God …!” shut it immediately. All “buts” are “incompetent, irrelevant, and immaterial” when God is at work!


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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Training the Next Generation

By Paula Marolewski, October 1, 2009 8:12 am

Sometimes I wonder if we are failing to give the next generation – particularly our teens and young adults – all they need in order to accomplish God’s calling in their life. Here are some of the lessons I fear that we aren’t passing down:

  • How to recognize God’s purpose and calling.
  • How to hold even God-given dreams and aspirations and goals with an open hand, allowing those dreams and aspirations and goals to mature and change over time. 
  • How to distinguish between their identity (who they are) and their gift or purpose or calling (what they do).
  • How to trust God entirely, even if he calls them to “give up their Isaac.”
  • How to persevere when God seems silent and everything in life comes crashing down around them.
  • How to endure rejection, scorn, and persecution.
  • How to sacrifice for a greater good.
  • How to get up one more time than you fall down.

If we want to raise a generation of men and women who will stand firm in their faith and accomplish great things for the kingdom of God, these lessons aren’t optional – they’re essential.


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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What If You Knew You Were Going To Fail?

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By Paula Marolewski, September 24, 2009 8:59 am

A popular question today in goal-setting seminars is “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” And while that is an incredibly useful question, I have a harder one … and one that may be even more telling:

What would you do if you knew you were going to fail?

Or, put another way, what is so important to you that failure is no obstacle? What is the one thing you will seek to accomplish no matter how many times you fall down? What would still be worth the attempt, even if you knew beforehand you would never see the results you want?

Do you think those questions farfetched? Unreasonable? Consider for a moment …

… the prophets of God, who became laughingstocks, outcasts, and even prisoners because they dared to speak the Word of the Lord.

… the missionaries spending their lives on the field and never seeing the conversions they earnestly pray for, little knowing that they are sowing the seed and the next generation of missionaries will reap the harvest.

… the parents who pray nightly for their prodigal child, year after year after year.

I’m not saying that your dearest desires and deepest calling will end in failure. Far from it. In fact, if it is God’s calling, you actually cannot fail, regardless of the outcome here on earth. God brings an eternal perspective to the word “success.”

But the fact is, sometimes things don’t turn out the way we want on this side of heaven. Therefore, it’s important to ask yourself the question: Would I do this, even if it never turns out? Even if I never see any “success”? Would it still be worth it? If the answer is “Yes,” then that, more than anything else, is your purpose, your calling, your mission, your vision.


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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Temptation: A Necessary Preparation for Ministry?

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By Paula Marolewski, August 18, 2009 2:03 pm

This morning, I read of Jesus’ temptation, as recorded in Luke 4. Consider these verses (1-2, 13-14):

“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil …. When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time.  And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit …”

Sometimes, I think we forget that Jesus wasn’t tempted with just the specific temptations recorded in the gospels. Those three trials were the culmination of over a month of hellish whispers. He was tempted continuously for forty days – Satan tried everything, the above passage notes. And in Hebrews 4:15, it affirms that Jesus was “tempted in all things.”

But the Holy Spirit brackets the temptation – Jesus was led by the Spirit into this time of testing, and he was filled with the Spirit upon his successful completion of it. And I paused to consider: does God often, or perhaps even always, allow this period of extreme temptation prior to launching a new ministry?

It does make sense. Temptation is a test – not of the mind, but of the heart. It reveals our answers to questions such as:

  • Do I trust God even when life seems to be falling apart?
  • Will I obey God even when nobody is watching?
  • Am I engaging in this ministry for fame and fortune, or for grace and goodness?
  • Do I have the determination to persevere through difficulties?
  • What or who am I relying on to see me through life?

If you are trying to launch a new ministry, don’t be surprised if you experience delay, doubt, temptation, trial, despair … in fact, a spiritual desert. I know what the wasteland looks like. I know it seems endless, and that you’re hungry for God, thirsty for his Spirit, longing for the touch of Jesus.

The Spirit of God may have led you to this very place, and done so for a very distinct purpose. Trust him. Persevere. Purge your life of sin. Pray without ceasing. Rely entirely upon God and his Word. When you are led out into the place of ministry, it will be “in the power of the Spirit.”


© 2009 Paula Marolewski

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