How Strong Are Your Convictions?

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By Paula Marolewski, October 29, 2009 2:38 pm

Just a question for you today: How strong are your Christian convictions?

In the face of …

  • Passion. When the heat of the moment is lighting every fire inside you but you aren’t married to the person you’re with … what will you do?
  • Pressure. When the people around you – perhaps people whom you respect, perhaps people whom you fear, perhaps people whom you love – are encouraging you down a path Scripture forbids … what will you do?
  • Persecution. When threatened with ridicule, loss, slander, pain, isolation – even death – because of what you believe … what will you do?

Be honest. And if you don’t like your answer, then answer this:

What will you do about it?


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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Moving Toward Forgiveness

By Paula Marolewski, October 27, 2009 9:58 am

I’ve been considering forgiveness lately. Not forgiveness of the little slights and sins that come every day from rubbing shoulders with the rest of humanity. But forgiveness of the really egregious sins … forgiveness when real pain has been inflicted and real harm has been done, perhaps with malice aforethought.

The pain, the hurt, the grief that is caused by such acts as flagrant adultery, peddling drugs, physical abuse, etc. The list is a long one, highly individualized, and added to every day.

As I considered sin and our call to grant forgiveness, I was struck anew at how hard it is to forgive. And I believe that is, actually, appropriate.

After all, in order to offer true forgiveness, we have to come to grips with true evil. If we just flippantly say, “Yes, I forgive you!” but we have not truly understood either the corruption of the human heart or the pain such evil has caused another, our words are devoid of meaning. It is only after we have felt the horror of evil that our offer of forgiveness can be real.

Too often, however, we stop there. We are paralyzed by the evil, and so we cannot offer the balm of forgiveness.

It is vital to take the second step: to grasp the infinite love, grace, and forgiveness of God. Love that is greater than the horror of true evil. Grace that reaches to the unbelievable depths of corruption in the human heart. Forgiveness that calls the foulest sinner into perfect and intimate relationship with a holy God.

Only then – having truly comprehended both the nature of evil and the triumph of the Cross – can we then begin to extend fully the forgiveness of God to a needy world.


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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Rejecting Fatalism

By Paula Marolewski, October 22, 2009 8:34 am

It is easy to fall into a sense of fatalism … “Whatever will be, will be.” As a believer, that philosophy has no place in our faith. If you have felt the subtle lure of fatalism, ponder the following: 

  • Fatalism says, “You are trapped in a maze without a center.” God proclaims, “You are on a journey with a glorious conclusion.”
  • Fatalism says, “Whatever you do, it is irrelevant.” God affirms, “Everything you do is relevant. Everything you do matters. Everything you do affects the outcome of your life. That is the meaning of free will.”
  • Fatalism says, “Why pray? If there is a God, he’ll just do what he wants anyway.” God states, “Prayer moves my heart. Many times, I choose to act only if you choose to pray. I change the outcomes in life because of prayer.”
  • Fatalism says, “Who do you think you are? Do you think anyone cares?” God declares, “I know who you are! I love you – I have proven it, and I will prove it again.”


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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A Moratorium on Multitasking

By Paula Marolewski, October 19, 2009 1:52 pm

We live in an age where multitasking is expected, praised, and often demanded. How many things can you do at once? Talk on the phone, check email, pet the cat, flip through the mail, check a website, work on a project, watch the news, drive the car … we frequently combine two or three tasks at once.

Well, for myself, I’ve declared a moratorium on multitasking.

I found that multitasking, because of my issue with severe anxiety, is a definitive problem. When I multitask, my stress level goes up. When my stress level goes up, my anxiety goes up. When my anxiety goes up, I try harder to get things done faster, so I multitask even more. So my stress level goes even higher. So my anxiety gets even worse. And so on, and so on.

It was, and is, a tough decision to live out. No multitasking. None.

And this is what I found:

  • I get more done now than when I tried multitasking, because I can focus and concentrate better on each individual project or task.
  • I enjoy what I am doing more, because I can really dig down into it and experience it to the full, instead of having half my mind somewhere else.
  • I can relax more easily, because my mind isn’t always working at mach 10.

Don’t let society dictate how you work and how you live. Decide for yourself what is best for you.

© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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Dark Alleys and Christian Discipline

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By Paula Marolewski, October 15, 2009 7:54 am

Long ago and far away (longer ago than I care to admit!), I trained in karate. I learned many lessons there that translated to the Christian life. The value of Christian discipline is one of the biggest:

Imagine for a moment that you are walking at night down a New York alley. There are no streetlamps lighting your way, and you get jumped by a dude who not only wants your wallet, but fully intends to beat you to a pulp.

Now, if you are habitually a couch potato, I can pretty much guarantee the result: you will get beaten to a pulp.

But if you regularly trained five or ten hours a week in one of the martial arts, you’d have a really good chance of getting away with all your body parts and fluids intact.

The same is true of the Christian life. Satan jumps us when we are at our most vulnerable. If we haven’t been spending time in prayer and in the Word, if we haven’t made a habit of confessing our sin and seeking sanctification, if we aren’t in fellowship with other believers and engaging in worship … in fact, all the Christian disciplines … then we are going to fall, and we’re going to fall hard. We’re going to get beaten up badly.

But if we have been on our knees every day, if we study and meditate on the Word of God, if we consistently seek spiritual growth, if we find our deepest friendships within the Body of Christ, etc., then we are going to 1) recognize Satan’s attack when it comes – whether that is in the form of persecution, deception, or temptation; and 2) know how to respond effectively. We’re going to “Stand firm” as Paul urges in Ephesians 6.

Don’t expect to develop strength and skill when trouble arises. By then, it’s too late. Spend the time and make the effort now … then you’ll always be ready to stand firm, come what may.


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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Nothing Had Changed – Or Had It?

By Paula Marolewski, October 13, 2009 4:34 pm

In I Kings 19, we read the story of Elijah running for his life from Queen Jezebel. Seeking refuge on Horeb. The wind, the earthquake, the fire. Then the still, small voice of God.

And when Elijah went forth from Horeb, he did so in strength.

Yet think on it – nothing had actually changed: Jezebel was still after him. The Israelites had declared their allegiance to Yahweh on Mount Carmel, but you don’t see much evidence of actual repentance. Ahab was still a louse.

But something had changed: Elijah’s perspective. His faith. His confidence.

What had happened? Elijah had listened to the still, small voice of God. He had re-established his relationship with his King. He had communed with the great I AM. Therefore, even though nothing had changed, everything had changed: Elijah knew that God would walk with him through the problems, and would resolve them in his own way and in his own time.

How often do I complain to God about all that’s going wrong in my life, and fuss and fume because “God isn’t answering”? The fact is, I want God to fix my problems the way I tell him, and I want him to do it now. But God calls me with his still, small voice. And this is what he says:

“I am with you. I am sovereign over all creation. I love you. I am acting on your behalf. Will you trust me?”

If I refuse his answer, I go forth from my own Horeb a broken, embittered soul; devastated because nothing has changed.

If I respond to his promise, I go forth renewed and restored, and – in his own time and in his own way, starting with me – everything changes.


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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A Meditation on Grief and Loss

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By Paula Marolewski, October 8, 2009 8:24 am

The following is the first of seven meditations on grief and loss. I have purposefully left out any reference to what I experienced that brought on this grieving period—simply because it is grief that is the focus.

This is not a dissertation on grief or a psychological examination of it. It is the lived experience; the image of the soul; the weeping of the spirit. In it, I hope you will find a voice for your own suffering, and hope in our faithful God.

To read the other six meditations in this series, please download the free ebook Kaleidoscope from Sink Your Roots.


Healing takes place slowly. Like the measured tread of weary feet, the soul struggles to find the equilibrium of normalcy again. Tries to recall what it is to think without pain, to remember without the stab of memory. Faith seems too much a distant dream, and the thought of hope brings only  the swirling chill of November air, bleak and grey in the twilight.

And so I walk. Step by step, and step by step. I walk along fields of corn, whose dry husks and stalks rustle and clack softly in the wind. I walk beside trees and see the autumn reds and oranges grow luminescent in the golden hues of the setting sun. I walk on the edge of streams and listen to the chuckle of the water as it skips over stones, and bubbles in festive solitude.

I walk. It is a simple act that reaffirms life. My mind trudges in an endless rut of pain, remembering and hurting, remembering and hurting. Questioning in anguished silence.  Ceaselessly re-living the moment of separation: joy lost; dreams destroyed.

But I walk. My eyes, though drawn, can still see color. My soul is lost in the grey land, where stark images of black and fearful white shimmer momentarily before being swallowed up in the never-ending grey. But my eyes can still see the October blue of the sky; can still behold the rich russet of the leaves; can still pause to commit to memory the laughing golds of black-eyed  susans seen peeking out between a thousand beige-toned and fluffy-headed grasses.

It is there, imperceptibly, that color begins to return within.

I walk. There is a voice I will never hear again; words held sacred whose syllables will nevermore fall on my ears. Perhaps more than all else, it is that silence which is unbearable. It  is with words that we make ourselves known; with words that we understand that  incomprehensible reality which is another human soul; with words that we move heaven and earth by swearing an unbreakable commitment before the throne of Jehovah-God.

Is it a wonder, then, that loneliness is spoken of as silence?

But I walk; and crickets chirrup a continuous foundation for my soul to build upon. Deep among the cornstalks, squirrels rustle as they busily forage the hardened kernels. And listening still, high above, killdeer cry with the voice of empty meadows, answered once and rarely by the shrill creel of the wheeling peregrines.

It is the only voice I can hear; the only whisper that can truly comfort.

And so I walk. Each step is a happening; a drop of reality. The curve of the world is solid against the soles of my feet, and its roughness and smoothness anchors the soul of my self. Leaving  the path, the dry, cropped grasses crunch under my steps. A pause; a kneel on cold-hardened  ground; fingers extend to touch the silken whisper of milkweed wishes, or to pet the barred back  of a reluctant woolly bear.

It fills my body. It comforts my hands that will not be held again. It embraces my soul that will not be touched again.

I walk. Step by step, and step by step. And the smell of autumn—the rich humus of leaves returning to the soil with the promise to live again after winter’s frost—fills each deep inhale with the promise that all life shall be re-born. Not without trials, but with the surety of every step.


© 2008 Paula Marolewski,

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Wisdom and Courage

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By Paula Marolewski, October 6, 2009 9:20 am

As I was praying for a friend, the chorus to an old hymn came to mind:

“Grant us wisdom, grant us courage for the facing of these days…”

It summed up what I was praying, but it made me think: how often do we pray just the opposite? How often are our prayers really composed of the plea:

“Answer my questions and get me out of this problem!”

Praying for wisdom is not the same as praying for answers. When we pray for wisdom, we are asking God to grant us the discernment to make wise choices. When we pray for answers, we are asking God to simply “tell us what to do.” Children need to be told what to do. Adults understand the necessity and accept the responsibility of making wise choices.

Again, praying for courage is not the same as praying for God to take the problem away. It is certainly appropriate to pray for deliverance (the psalms are full of such prayers), but we have to recognize with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that:

“Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18).

These three men knew that God could deliver, but they also drew on courage, knowing that God might not choose to deliver them. And in fact, they needed that courage, because while God did finally deliver them, they were first bound and thrown into the fire!

Let us learn to pray for ourselves and others that God will truly:

“Grant us wisdom, grant us courage for the facing of these days…”


© 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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