Posts tagged: Growth

I’m Remembering …

comments Comments Off
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,


Like this? Read more at: 

Dare to be Decisive

comments Comments Off
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?

comments Comments Off
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

comments Comments Off
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

Make life easy! Click here to have new blog postings sent directly to your email inbox!

God is Moving

comments Comments Off
By Paula Marolewski, March 10, 2010 8:10 am

We often say “God is really moving!” when things are happening openly, when excitement is running rampant, when results are pouring in.

But we forget that “still waters run deep.” It is vital to remember that God is often powerfully moving when nothing visible is happening …

… as he works on our character

… as he waits until the timing is perfect

… as he sets all the parts in motion

… as he prepares people’s hearts

His work then is silent, deep, slow … but oh, so strong!

Think of God’s power like a river. When we “see things happening,” it is like the river rapids: we see the white water, feel the spray, are overwhelmed by the raw power.

But upstream, the same river runs quiet and still. The same power is present – it is just not so readily apparent.

So is our God: he is always moving.


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

Make life easy! Click here to have new blog postings sent directly to your email inbox!

Heroes are Real People, Too

comments Comments Off
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,

Like this? Read more at: 

Make life easy! Click here to have new blog postings sent directly to your email inbox!

The Big Uglies

By Paula Marolewski, February 3, 2010 9:47 am

Have you ever prayed – with despair wrenching your gut, doubt tearing at your mind, discouragement dragging you down, desperation clutching at your chest?

I have, too.

Then, after some indeterminate time on your knees, you drag yourself to your feet … with the same despair, the same doubt, the same discouragement, the same desperation?

I have, too.

You may wonder if you have lost your faith. If you ever knew God at all. If you can go on another step. If this whole Christianity thing is worth it.

I have, too.

You’ve read through the promises in Scripture – promises of hope, of purpose, of comfort, of God’s presence, his love, his Spirit. And it all seems empty.

I have, too.

The hard truth is, being a Christian doesn’t exempt us from the big uglies of despair, doubt, discouragement, desperation … or any of the other nasties out there. You can believe in God with all your heart, love him with all your soul, and follow him with all your strength – and still get jumped, and jumped badly, by the big uglies.

Are the promises of God true? Is his presence always with us?

Yes, and yes.

Perhaps part of our quandary is that we forget that we have to “wait on the Lord” before he will indeed renew our strength.

Sometimes, it can be a very, very long wait.

I know.

I’ve been there, too.


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

Like this? Read more at: 

Make life easy! Click here to have new blog postings sent directly to your email inbox!

Flagrant Sin

comments Comments Off
By Paula Marolewski, January 27, 2010 7:15 am

I recently encountered the question: How should we respond to people who come to the church with flagrant sins in their background (i.e., sodomy, sexual crimes, murder, etc.)?

Here are three recommendations:

  • First, don’t sugarcoat sin. Don’t pass off what people did lightly and say “Oh, it’s okay!” Don’t make excuses for it. Call it for what it is and look at it in the revealing light of the Word of God.
  • Second, emphasize, encourage, and expect transformation of character through the grace of God. It’s not enough to preach it – the church needs to put accountability and discipleship relationships in place to help people grow and change.
  • Third, let the past be the past. Don’t deny the past (that is why accountability relationships are important), but don’t focus on it either. The past is a done deal, and the old man is in the grave. Focus on who people are now – not what they were – and who they can become through God’s grace. Give people a fresh start.

Oh … and one more thing, just as a reminder: we all come to the church with flagrant sins in our background. They might be the sins of envy, greed, or gossip rather than abuse, adultery, or theft, but they are still sins that separate us from God, fester as a cancer in our soul, and destroy the vitality of our life.

So the fact is, all of us need to put into practice the above recommendations. When we realize that – and practice that – the humility of our hearts and the grace of our God will so shine in our lives that the world will be drawn to the saving Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

Like this? Read more at: 

Make life easy! Click here to have new blog postings sent directly to your email inbox!

A Theology of Everything

comments Comments Off
By Paula Marolewski, January 20, 2010 8:04 pm

Does your theology take everything into account?

Now, let me be clear here: the Bible’s theology takes everything into account … but what we believe and what the Bible says don’t always completely tally. We, quite frankly, often believe what we want to believe, regardless of what God has revealed in his Word.

For instance, many people believe that everything in life should be good because they are Christians. After all, aren’t Christians supposed to live blessed lives? Then a spouse dies, a child develops cancer, or their finances collapse … and suddenly their faith goes out the window. Why? Because life no longer correlates to what they believe.

But God’s Word says that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, italics mine). Those few words “to work together for good” make quite a difference in meaning. The promise isn’t that everything that happens is going to be good, even if we are living completely within the will of God. The promise is that God will redeem the good, the bad, and the ugly and use it for our good and his glory.

Or take this one: I have heard many people say that they believe everyone should have a job that matches the deepest passion of your heart. That if you aren’t wildly excited about what you do, if it doesn’t make your spirit throb with energy, then you haven’t found the right job yet – keep looking.

Nice thought. Let’s look at the extreme position for a moment: there are millions if not billions of people scratching out a living in subsistence farming or horrific factory conditions – both in the U.S. and abroad. I really don’t think they feel particularly fulfilled or satisfied, but there may literally be no other alternative for them. They may never be able to receive the education, the opportunity, or the financing to pursue their deepest goals, dreams, and desires. All they can hope for is to make enough money to survive.

Has God abandoned them? Has he said, “Oops! I forgot about you all … I guess you’re outside of my scope”? Not at all. The fact is, the Bible nowhere promises that we will have fulfilling jobs if we follow God. The closest it comes is in Ecclesiastes 5:18, where it is written “Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one’s labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward.”

Do you notice something about the verse? First, it’s not a promise of God – it’s an observation of a very wise man. It says that it’s great if you can enjoy and be contented in what you do … not that what you do will always be perfectly fulfilling in and of itself. There’s a big difference there. Also note the words: “labor” and “toil.” That should give us a hint that work is … well … work. After all, as my father often said, “If it was fun, they’d call it ‘play’!”

Here’s the vital takeaway: If (and when!) you come to the place where life isn’t meeting up to your expectations, don’t take it out on God and make him out to be a liar. Take a good look at yourself instead, and figure out if you’ve been believing a lie of your own making.


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

Like this? Read more at: 

Make life easy! Click here to have new blog postings sent directly to your email inbox!

Do We Insult God?

comments Comments Off
By Paula Marolewski, January 13, 2010 9:51 am

“Oh, I’m nothing.”

“I have no spiritual gifts.”

“God could never use me to do that.”

You know, humility is good and right in its place. But Paul calls us to “sober judgment” about ourselves (Romans 12:3). He then goes on to talk about the spiritual gifts God has given to each of us in the church – gifts, as he says in Ephesians 4:12-13, that are to be used “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” Hardly an inconsequential task!

So I have a simple question today:

Do we insult God by calling ourselves “nothing” and thinking we are worthless when he has redeemed us by his blood, sealed us by his Spirit, called us to his purpose, granted us his gifts, and destined us for his kingdom?



© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

Like this? Read more at: 

Make life easy! Click here to have new blog postings sent directly to your email inbox!

Panorama Theme by Themocracy