John Markum

Why Our Marriage Works

marriageOur church is starting a new series this weekend (in a new place!) before Valentine’s Day called Mr. & Mrs. Betterhalf in which we are focusing on building lasting marriages. I was out with my wife this week walking downtown San Jose on a date – call it research. We’re celebrating our 10th anniversary this June and I got to thinking about why we’re beating the statistics; according to divorce rates, we should have ended it at least 5 years ago. Yet, we’re better and stronger than ever. Here’s why I believe our marriage works…

  1. My wife is my best friend. This sounds cliche, but I genuinely mean this. I would rather spend time with my wife than any other person. While we do have our separate interests, we enjoy most things together; ministry, sports, family time, mutual friendships, etc. She knows me. And I know her. Like best friends should.
  2. We solve problems. Every couple fights. Or at least they should. Too often, to avoid conflict, many couples just bottle up their frustrations until it eventually explodes, resulting in an even uglier conflict. While Tiffany and I don’t like to fight, we would rather the air be clear between us than fake our way through a single day.
  3. Nothing is more important to us. My marriage takes second place to nothing. Really. Nothing. “What about your kids?” The best gift I can give my children is a good example of a strong marriage. Where do you think kids get their strongest impressions of what a family should/shouldn’t be like? That’s right, the one they come out of. “What about your relationship with God?” This may come as a shock, but God is not the first priority of my life. He’s bigger than that to me. He’s the center of every priority in my life. So it isn’t “God and then my marriage,” it’s “God in my marriage.” According to the Bible, my marriage is a reflection of my relationship with God. That only makes my commitment to Tiffany that much stronger.
  4. Two words: Date. Night. Tiff and I have some form of a date every week. With four kids, we don’t have the time or money to get out as often as we like, so “date night” means a tub of ice cream and Netflix some weeks. But about every other week, we do get out, and go do something together. After 10 years, I’m still dating my wife and pursuing her heart. I plan on continuing to date her for the rest of my life.
  5. Our marriage has a vision. We talk about growing old together. About watching our grand kids grow up, and seeing their marriages last. We are trying to have the kind of marriage now that we want them to have one day. We hope to be the beginnings of a godly legacy of men and women who beat the cultural trends and make it work.

It’s important for me to point out that my marriage doesn’t work because I’m better than anyone else. What I do know, is that if others had the same self-sacrificing love that I have for Tiffany, and she has for me, than more marriages would last. We want everyone to have as good (or better!) of a marriage as us. And that is what this new series is about. Strengthening marriages God’s way. Whether you’re married, single, or single-again, we believe God wants to work powerfully through your relationships. So if you’re in the area, we hope to see you!

Pastor John

The Problem with Promise Rings

Ring   If you’re one of the many single adults who have been under my ministry at some point, you already know where this is going. But allow me to get to the point:

Promise rings are a complete waste of time.

    If you have ever given/received a promise ring, I’m sorry if you just got offended by that statement. If you’ll accept that I do not intend that as a personal attack on you, but rather against a practice that is raising concern for relationships, I hope you’ll hear me out.
If you’re a guy considering giving a girl a promise ring, you need to read this. And if you’re a girl on the verge of getting a promise ring, for the love of all things good and pure in this life PLEASE, READ ON!

Allow me to explain…

    In case you don’t know, a promise ring is a gift that a guy gets a girl which is intended to express his intentions to ask her to marry him “some day.” It is not an engagement ring. Engagement rings ask “Will you marry me?” Promise rings ask, “I’m not ready to ask you if you’ll marry me, but one day I do hope to ask you. Will you wear this ring I got you celebrating this lukewarm occasion?”
Now please consider my credentials – I’ve been in ministry for a decade. I’ve done countless hours of counseling with people who were single, dating, engaged, and married. I’ve performed several weddings. As a former Single Adults Pastor, I saw and heard of these promise rings a lot. And yet I only know of one couple that actually got engaged, and none of the couples I’ve known who have given/received promise rings have ever gotten married (let that sink in real good before you get upset with me, ladies…).

    At best, it’s an engagement to an engagement. At worst, it’s a guy asking for more commitment from a girl than he’s willing to put on the line himself. He’s attempting to get her to say yes to him before he even proposes. He’s also marking his territory for other guys to stay back, while not actually promising the girl anything whatsoever.

If you’re a girl getting offered a promise ring, tell your guy that you like shiny things that actually mean something, and to come back when he means business. If he gets offended, consider leaving your guy to find a real man for yourself.

If you’re a guy dating a woman, instead of wasting your money on a meaningless token, do your man card a favor: Wait. Seriously. Wait until you know you’re ready to make a move and commit yourself to someone for life. No half-way, puppy-love nonsense! Be a man and go all out. Do it right, get the “real deal” ring, take her somewhere special to the two of you. Hit a knee, hold her hand, look her in the eye, tell her you want to spend your whole life loving only her forever, and tell her that you love her. Then drop the four big words she’s been waiting for since she was 4 years old – “Will you marry me?” Make it something worth watching all her friends freakout in excitement as she shows off the rock you got her! Watch her tell them all how you popped the question – for in that moment, you can tell that you did it right… her giddy joy will be unmistakeable.

    Still not convinced? Try explaining “promise ring” to your grandparents. If they look at you kind of stupid, it’s entirely likely that they are not the ones that are out of touch!

    Wow, that’s needed to be said for a long time. If that just made you mad at me, I hope you’ll at least consider this an opinion well worth your consideration. Clearly this is my opinion, and is based solely on an increasingly non-committal American culture, observable everywhere. I hope we’re still friends. 🙂

Pastor John

I’m certain to get responses criticizing this post! I can accept that. But don’t bother unless you’re actually married… Otherwise, you’re just reinforcing my point.

“The VIRGIN Bachelor”


That’s what the magazine read on my way through the checkout line at WalMart (yes, WalMart, don’t judge me). Not that I’m racing home to catch Sean Lowe picking through two dozen plus women on national television for The Bachelor, but it’s hard to miss all of the buzz as the season is apparently winding down. The cliff notes of the buzz stirring lately seem to be that Sean, “a devote Christian” has been saving himself for marriage, sexually speaking – something difficult to maintain as a contestant of the show, from what I understand.

To be clear, I am not suggesting that The Bachelor is a suitable show, nor am I advocating getting emotionally (or physically) entangled with multiple people for the sake of millions of viewers’ entertainment. I also am not verifying that this season’s Bachelor is a role-model Christian. I don’t know the guy! However, if he has indeed committed to saving his sexuality for marriage, I certainly support such a commitment.

The rub for me, is that many of the news articles I’ve seen are treating Sean as if he has some disability for being an attractive man in his 20’s that is not sleeping with any number of the potentially willing women on his show. Apparently, now engaged to one of the “contestants,” he still insists on waiting until their wedding to have sex.

I’m tired of the way the media, internet, and movies try to brainwash our culture about our own sexuality. To the point that a man who appears physically healthy is criticized for valuing himself enough to save his sexuality for a commitment (a.k.a. marriage) where it can be freely expressed with a trusted person (a.k.a. his wife). If he isn’t “doing it” there must be a reason, right? Because “normal” people don’t wait until marriage for sex… right?!

Listen up men…

  • Having sex does not make you a “real man”.
  • Choosing to delay your own gratification makes you wise, not weird.
  • Having sex with virtually every willing female does not make you a man – dogs do that.
  • Real men commit to keeping their God-given sexuality for their wife alone.
  • Sex before marriage ruins good relationships and prolongs bad ones. I haven’t seen an exception yet.
  • If you’ve made some mistakes in the past, you can be different from this point forward – your past does not have to define you.

Assuming this season’s Bachelor and his fiance do maintain their sexual boundaries, I am very confident that it will all work out on their wedding night. For all the talk of the need for “sexual compatibility,” our culture forgets that their talking about people, not used cars. I know far more people who slept around that regret it, than those who saved themselves and wished they had not.

Be unique. Save your sex… And find something better than The Bachelor to watch, too! Gees, people…

Pastor John

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

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