John Markum

Book Review: “It”

No, not the one by Stephen King! This It is by pastor and church leader, Craig Groeschel about the quality that some churches (and organizations) have that makes them succeed, grow, expand, thrive and have obvious momentum. It’s as if God blesses everything some churches do and they can’t ever mess it up. We don’t know what it is. But we know it when we see it, and we want it too. We also know when we don’t see it. We say things like, “This place just doesn’t have it.”

It’s God’s hand of favor and blessing that, aside from the Holy Spirit, we don’t know how to quantify it. But we want to understand it, because we want it! It talks about “it“, literally. I was most pleased with how much time in the book Groeschel takes to stand upon Biblical principles. He does not take the time to try explaining something that we’re all familiar with, yet cannot articulate. Rather, he talks about where God seems to give it the most, and how we can stand upon solid principle and find ourselves in a position to receive it, use it for the Kingdom, and keep receiving it.

I wanted to pick a favorite page or chapter, but the truth is, this book is full of it! That was a compliment, I swear… Anyone in ministry, or considering going into ministry, should get It, read It, and practice It. I loved It



“Love Wins” Controversy

“I can’t believe in a God that would send someone to a place like Hell.”

“What kind of loving God would send people to Hell?”

“Who gets to decide who gets into Heaven and who has to go to Hell?”

Rob Bell addresses these common questions in his upcoming book, Love Wins, which has already stirred massive controversy by his implications that no one will go to Hell. Below is the video trailer that he himself has released, which is largely responsible for the widespread controversy. I’ll attempt to address the questions he raises as concisely as possible…

  1. “Gandhi’s in Hell? He is?!? And someone knows this for sure?” My Answer: I don’t know. And no human could possibly know for sure.
  2. “Will only a few select people make it to Heaven?” My Answer: As far as the Bible is concerned, yes. Matthew 7:13,14
  3. “And will billions, and billions of people burn forever in Hell?” My Answer: I have no idea how many it will be, but yes, many, many people will go to a real place called Hell. Romans 6:23, Revelation 20:15
  4. “And if that is the case, how do you become one of the few?” My Answer: Turn away from your man-made attempts at pleasing God and pleasing yourself, and give your life to God by placing your faith in Jesus, who lived a sinless life, died as a substitution for humanity, and rose again on the third day proving to be God. John 3:16-19, Romans 3:23-28, Romans 10:9-13
  5. “And then there is the question behind the question. Like: What is God like?” My Answer: This a great question. A loaded question, but a great one. I’ll answer this in a separate blog post this week.
  6. “So what gets subtly caught and taught is that Jesus rescues you from God.” My Answer: Jesus is God. Jesus dying for humanity is God taking upon Himself His own righteous judgment for man’s rebellion. His holiness demands that wickedness be eliminated. His love demands that mankind be pardoned. The cross is the greatest evidence of God’s holiness and love.
  7. “How can that God ever be good?” My Answer: Bell is defining “good” based on getting what we want (Heaven) without the consequences (Hell). The real question would be, “How could a pure, perfect and holy God allow wicked humanity into His heaven?” But to answer the question, God is good in every sense by virtue of His willingness to die for sinful man, allowing us the opportunity to experience both His love and holiness. Romans 5:6-11, 1 John 4:7-12

I sense that we are no where near done talking about this, and that I a likely to hear from many of you in emails and through the comments. I welcome your interaction, but let’s keep it civil, please. More posts WILL follow about these issues…



Pastors: Book list

I was told in college, “Leaders are readers.” How true I’ve learned that statement to be! I do a substantial amount of reading because I’ve discovered I don’t know it all. Shocking, I know. Whether you are in ministry full time, part time, thinking about pursuing ministry as a career, or simply a devoted lay leader, here is a list of books by people way smarter than me that I suggest you get your hands on. These books each changed my life.

  1. Sun Stand Still by Steven Furtick – When I found out this guy was writing a book, I totally geeked out. As I finished reading the last page, I had goose bumps. Very powerful message. EVERY person in ministry should read it 3 times, seriously!
  2. Courageous Leadership by Bill Hybels – This is a pastor who has withstood the test of time. And this book opened my eyes and challenged me in big ways to the power God has invested in His church. Purely life-giving!
  3. Next Generation Leader by Andy Stanley – Andy Stanley is nothing short of a voice to my entire generation when it comes to leadership. This isn’t 21 things you need to know about leadership (nothing wrong with that either), it’s 5 simple applications that work.
  4. 7 Practices of Effective Ministry by Andy Stanley, Reggie Joiner, and Lane Jones – Every church leader/aspiring-church-leader should read this book, and have it easily accessible to reference and re-reference. This book cuts through all of the responsibilities of a pastor and forces us to focus (something we’re bad about doing) on the heartbeat of our calling in the ministry.
  5. Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley and Lane Jones- Last Stanley book, I swear! I love this one because this simplifies all of the mystery surrounding how to prepare and deliver a message. This book changed the way I preach after doing for over 12 years.
  6. The Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren – Long before he was making number one best sellers, Rick Warren was simply a pastor leading one of the most dynamic moves of God. His church has lead the way on how to do ministry for countless thousands of pastors. This was probably the first real book on starting a church from someone who did it extremely successfully in the last 40 years.
  7. The Heart of a Great Pastor by H.B. London and Neil Wiseman – These 2 are veteran pastors with a powerful legacy of training ministers to do the same. I think I like this book so much because it made me fall in love with my calling all over again. And it compares our “shepherding” as pastors to the “Good Shepherd,” Jesus. It’s so powerful and encouraging, that I reach for it every time I feel like my burden is getting too great. Every pastor should have it on hand. Don’t know how I got through my first 4 years of ministry without this…
  8. Planting Missional Churches by Ed Stetzer – This book totally changed my approach to ministry here in the states. As a pastor who started a new service, this book is a must-read for anyone beginning a new service/church.
  9. It by Craig Groeschel – Pastor Groeschel is mega-leader! It’s refreshing to see a man with such an expansive ministry that remains pure to the Gospel, and carries himself with humble confidence. You know that feeling you get when you walk into a church whether big or small, new or established, and immediately sense “Oh, yeah this place has it!”? This book is about it and why some churches have it, while other similar ministries do not. Very powerful. If you don’t have it, you can get it. If you do have it, you can lose it. So get It, and read It!
  10. The Minister’s Instruction Manual by Mel Brown – Last, but by no means least! Pastor Brown is my pastor here at Edgewood, and has served our congregation for over 42 years. He has 6 degree including an earned Doctorate of Ministry, and a Doctorate of Counseling Psychology. He has trained over a dozen missionaries and church planters. Over the years, pastors time again kept asking him to make his materials available to train other church leaders. This book is the compilation of all of that. I love it so much because it is all the pragmatic things that no one teaches you how to do in Bible college.

The phrase no pain, no gain has been a mantra for athletes and fitness junkies for years. And what they understand about physical pain needs to be broadened to a much more general use in all of our lives. Pain hurts. That's the whole problem. No one enjoys it, and if someone does, we rightfully

The Premium of Pain