John Markum

How to Know You’ve Forgiven Someone

I’ve often spoke and written on forgiveness, and it occurs to me that there is a lot of different understandings on what it is. Some say “forgive and forget” – a near psychological impossibility – while some have attempted to leverage the pain others caused them to prove the haters wrong; using their unforgiveness as a sort of fuel to drive them forward.

But I find that we all know instinctively that forgiveness is important and necessary for our own well being. I’ve often taught that withholding forgiveness is like drinking poison, but expecting it to hurt the other person. Others have said that forgiving is like setting a prisoner free, only to realize the prisoner was actually you.

We know we should forgive. Often, we want to forgive. But how do we forgive someone who has wronged us, and how do we know we’ve truly granted forgiveness to the other person?

  • Forgiveness is a choice. That means it starts with your will, and the good news about that, is you have direct control over it. The feeling of forgiveness follows the decision to forgive.
  • Forgiveness is a process. It’s not as simple as snapping your fingers, deciding you’ve forgiven someone, and it’s over. This is why it’s harder to forgive some things more than others. The greater the hurt, the harder the process. So once you’ve decided you should forgive someone, you’ll often have to “re-forgive” their offense, as the feelings of hurt, anger, and bitterness try to creep back in.
  • Forgiveness is self-care. It’s not simple a matter of whether the person who hurt you deserves to be forgiven. Truth is NO ONE deserves to be forgiven! But love requires forgiveness. Love for the other person, but also love for yourself. Forgiving someone doesn’t just mean that they get to move on, it means you get to move on.
  • Forgiveness is not forgetfulness. As mentioned earlier, you can’t! We lie to ourselves when we say “forgive and forget”. Sometimes, forgiveness means I’m not going to trust you again. Sometimes it means, I’m not putting myself in a position where I have to forgive you again.
  • Forgiveness has a calling card. You know you’ve truly forgiven when you get to the point where you want what’s best for them, not what they “deserve.” If they get hurt back, and you think “Ha! Karma! Finally!” You definitely have not forgiven them. If instead you hurt for them, that’s a sign you’ve truly let something go, and given them what you would want – what you need – when the role is reversed.

Pastor John

Do you really care?

We live in a time where it’s super easy to feel informed, and simultaneously remain completely sedentary with such information. As a result, we’ve come to the false conclusion that by sharing our opinions, we care about a particular issue.

We have confused expressing our opinion, for being active.

For example, if you say you care about homeless veterans, but the closest you’ve come to doing anything about it is sharing a meme about how “we” don’t take care of homeless veterans, you in fact, do not care for homeless veterans – You just have an opinion, about how other people, the government, churches, etc. should be caring for homeless veterans.

You don’t actually care just by saying that you care. In reality, it makes little to no difference to you, unless you’re willing to get involved. Any issue only really matters to you to the extent that you’re willing to do something about it. And just saying, sharing, posting something, or criticizing others’ actions is not the same as caring or doing something about it.

James 2 tells us that if we see someone hungry, cold, or just otherwise in need and, “…say to them, ‘Go in peace! Be warmed and filled’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use it that?” [emphasis mine]

As my father taught me growing up, A “God bless you!” never fed anyone.

The same goes for sharing our faith as Christ-followers. It isn’t enough for us to post a verse, or a cute pic of something inspirational. We have to go out and tell it. We have to live it – embody the gospel – to the world around us.

The world doesn’t need another Facebook warrior, it needs people willing to actually intervene, spend their time, money, well-being, even their very lives if necessary, to do what is right.

So, care. Do something. Get involved. Go to the needy. Serve the broken. Pour your guts out to make this world a better place. No one cares what you and I think. But they can’t ignore how we serve.

Pastor John

Did Jesus Go to Hell?

A friend, and member of my church recently asked this question, as he and his  wife were both in some degree of uncertainty on the subject. Both of them are faithful godly people who have been in church, read the Bible, and heard the Scriptures most of their life. So this was no novice question. They’re not alone. I’ve heard many people ask this question, and theologians are even somewhat confused on the subject.

Here is my best, short-ish explanation to this curiosity question.

The only biblical basis for this question at all is found in Acts 2:27, where an Old Testament prophecy is quoted in some translations as, “Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” (KJV). However, “hell” here – at least, as we generally understand it – is misinterpreted. This misinterpretation is regrettably repeated in other translations, and then again in the Apostle’s Creed, which directly says that Christ, “descendit ad infernos“. Yes,  infernos, in Latin always understood as the eternal burning hell. Thanks, for the confusion, fourth century church leaders…

But this verse in Acts is a direct quote from Psalm 16:10, “For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol [emphasis, mine]; nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.” (NASB). This Psalm prophesied the death and resurrection of Jesus nearly a millennium in advance. And the original word in the original quote being understood as “hell” in Acts 2:27 was actually the Hebrew word, Sheol – “the place of the dead.” It was a general reference to the grave, the spiritual dimension, the afterlife in general, or, yes, hell – as in THE Hell… infernos, as the fourth century writer’s of the Apostle’s Creed put it. 

We must utilize biblical context to understand which meaning is accurate for the original writing. This quote was written in Psalm, a Hebrew song and poetry book that consistently rhymed thoughts rather than sounds like we do in music and poetry today. So it frequently repeats a thought by rewording it. This gives the reader or  listener deeper understanding by hearing the same exact thought expressed a different way. So in our verse from Acts 2/Psalm 16, we read:

“Because You will not abandon my soul to Hades [In Hebrew, Sheol],
Nor allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.”

The second part of that thought-rhyme is clearly telling us that God would not allow Christ’ body to remain in the grave long enough to receive significant corpse decay. Since this was written in the format of Hebrew poetry, returning to the first part of this quote about Christ’ soul not being abandoned to “Sheol”, it’s safe to understand that as His soul being left “in the place of the dead” or “separated from His body.” Thus, being reunited with his glorified body, before decay, and not leaving His spirit in “the place of the dead.”

But what if we got it wrong… what if it meant this, but also meant THE Hell? Three thoughts…

  1. 1 Peter 3:19 makes reference to Jesus “proclaiming to the spirits who are imprisoned”. Some think this meant in Hell. But if you read in it’s context, you’ll see that this is likely referring to demonic spirits – not human ones – whom it appears that Jesus was judging after He rose again.  Still, there is a vague possibility that this occurred IN Hell, but many think that’s a bit of a stretch.
  2. In Revelation 1:18, Jesus Himself says that He possess the “keys to Hell and death.” So what? Didn’t say where or how He got them. Maybe He’s always had them. I mean, who else would have them?
  3. If… and I do emphasize IF, Jesus went to THE Hell at all, He did not go as a prisoner. He went as the warden. On the cross, Jesus cried out “It is finished” meaning that the debt of our sin had been paid. So IF Jesus went to Hell, it was not to suffer or pay for our sins – it was to exert His rightful authority and position to stand in judgment because of who He is, and what He had just done.

There. I hope that cleared some things up or at least gave you some decent content to process as you form your own opinion. Regardless, we know He’s at the right hand of God the Father now (Hebrew 12:1-3).

Pastor John


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