Posts tagged: 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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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

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,


God is Moving

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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,

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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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SWOT Analysis in the Church

By Paula Marolewski, February 10, 2010 6:00 pm

SWOT: it stands for Strengths, Opportunities, Weaknesses, Threats. It’s a great way to engage in strategic planning to ensure that you’ve examined the big picture before deciding whether or how to move forward on a project.

But in the church, I’m afraid I’m afraid we don’t always follow this sound strategy. You see, people who bring out the Ss and Os – the Strengths and Opportunities – are looked at as faith-filled, visionary leaders.

And those of us who bring out the Ws and Ts – those annoying Weaknesses and Threats? Well, all too often, we’re looked at as faith-lacking nay-sayers standing in the way of the progress of the Kingdom of God.

Now, do we serve a God who is sovereign over all creation? Does Jesus still work miracles? Is not God also named Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides?

Yes, absolutely to all three. But we also live in a fallen world, we are in a serious battle against the enemy, and God gave us the gift of reason … and he expects us to use it.

Therefore, I think it is not just important but essential to perform SWOT analyses whenever we are exploring new ventures within the church. We need to be aware not only of the potential we have to do good, but the possibilities that may bring our efforts tumbling down around our ears.

Don’t look down on us WTs. We don’t lack faith, and we’re not trying to be negative. God has simply given us a very practical view of life that allows us to pinpoint trouble before it arises. We help the church take a hard look at things like:

  • Where will the money come from for this project?
  • Do we have the personnel to make it happen, or will we be putting one more job on already over-burdened people? Or, worse, get half-hearted involvement?
  • Will we get the prayer support we need on a consistent and long-term basis?
  • Do we have parties in the church that will stand in the way? Do they have valid concerns?
  • Is there any area of sin that we are not addressing that could hinder our progress?

Then comes the decision itself: actually weighing whether or not to move forward, and, if the decision is made to move forward – how to do so effectively.

Because here’s the truth, folk: not every idea should become a reality, even if the end goal is good. Why? Because the goal will never be reached if the idea on how to get there isn’t sound. Some ideas aren’t well thought out. Some ideas don’t have the support they need at the present time. Some ideas need a little or a lot of modification before they can be actualized. A prayer-filled SWOT analysis can help determine which path God is calling you on.

Remember, we’re supposed to act as a body within the church. Typically, SO-type people provide the “go juice” – the momentum. WT-type people put the brakes on so that the “go” is controlled.

Working together, we can really make things work!


© 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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