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

Praise through the Pain

You ever feel like you do the right thing, and yet bad things happen anyway?! It’s like “Karma” got drunk and punished the wrong person. No good deed goes unpunished – that was a phrase I heard growing up from other adults expressing this exact frustration.

The Apostle Paul had to know that feeling too. In Acts 16 we see this remarkable event where he and Silas were preaching the message of hope in Jesus, even performing an exorcism on a slave girl – in a city called Thyatira in modern day Turkey. For this, they were arrested, physically beaten, and thrown in jail. Well this sucks, would probably be my impulsive response to such circumstances. But what happened next was even more incredible:

25 But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; 26 and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. 27 When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” 29 And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

They worshipped God – after being beat up, and thrown in jail… hardly feels like the occasion to celebrate. And while it doesn’t give us a ton of detail, it tells us that they sang hymns – those are songs of worship addressing God directly. There wasn’t anything sarcastic or halfhearted about it.

It was after this, that God literally shook the prison open, freeing them from their cell – but they didn’t leave! I mean why bother? If God could open their prison and decide they could go, there’s hardly any need to rush. The prison guard (who woke up from the earthquake) saw all the doors open and assumed the prisoners fled, was about to take his life – knowing that a far greater punishment awaited him once his centurion supervisor discovered his failure. But upon finding Paul and Silas still there, he hits his knees and asks about their hope in Jesus. Now that is a miracle…

We don’t tend to celebrate or worship God in the middle of difficulty. It’s easier and far more convenient to wallow in self-pity, anger, guilt, and resentment. But when we find within ourselves the capacity to praise God through the pain, God literally opens doors and sets us free. And often times, the outcome is not only our own deliverance, but also that of someone who’s been silently watching us, just like the prison guard. Or your children. Or coworkers.

Praise God through the pain. Find the good to acknowledge. Trust in His sovereignty, that this will somehow work together for your good and His ultimate glory. You didn’t want a comfortable, boring life anyway. You wanted a life that mattered. And nothing worthwhile is ever easy.

Pastor John

Water Baptism

Baptism“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added to them about three thousand souls.” – Acts 2:41

Baptism is one of the greatest, simplest, and most meaningful expressions of our faith in Christ. I’ve had the privilege of being a part of many people’s story of coming to faith in Jesus over the years. It seems as if many people who make the initial step of deciding to follow Jesus, tend to immediately put on the brakes when it comes to the first easy demonstration of that decision: getting baptized.

The reasons I’ve heard for why people do not get baptized have ranged from:

  • I got baptized as a baby.
  • I’m embarrassed of being in front of people.
  • I need to get some things straightened up in my life first.
  • I’ll do it later.
  • I don’t see why I have to.

The hard part, in my opinion, is deciding that you will give your life, whatever condition it may be in, to Jesus and receiving the life and salvation that He alone offers. The one thing that the Bible asks us to do upon making that internal decision, is to demonstrate it outwardly via getting baptized. Yet this is where many balk.
The irony to me, is that getting baptized is literally as easy as falling in water. If you’ve ever jumped into a pool, you can get baptized – minus the splash.

So allow me a minute to explain what water baptism is, and why you should get baptized.

  • First of all, baptism is easy. It takes approximately 20 seconds to be baptized. At LifeCity, we don’t make you give an awkward speech. We simply ask you “Have you put your faith and confidence in Jesus Christ?” To which you only need to say yes, if you have. If you haven’t, or don’t understand what that even means,  let’s talk about that first. The word in the Bible for “baptize” is the Greek word “baptizo” which literally means “to dip” or “immerse.” This is why at LifeCity we do not spray people for baptism or pour water over them. There is a Greek word for that, but it has nothing to do with Biblical water baptism. It’s important that we baptize this way, because…
  • Secondly, baptism is a symbol. It does not “save” a person, wash away their sins, or send them to Heaven one day. It is a picture of a relationship that you already have. When a person stands in the water, gets dipped under the water, and then brought back up it is a symbol of Jesus living, dying and being buried (under the ground…), and then rising again from the grave. But it’s also a symbol of ourselves. Baptism says, “I once lived a life outside of Christ. That life is dead and has now been buried. And now I have a new life – a life in Christ!”
  • Baptism is also a choice. Like the decision to ask Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, no one can “make” you get Biblically baptized. At LifeCity, we do not baptize children under the age of 6, and many times not even then if the child doesn’t understand, is scared, or just not ready. If you were baptized as a young child or infant, and placed your faith in Jesus later, we encourage you to get baptized again on your choice. While we celebrate the fact that your family cared enough about your spirituality to baptize you early in life, it’s time that this expression of faith was taken on your terms, not simply your parent’s. We look at getting re-baptized as a fulfillment of what your parents wanted for you in the first place, not as a disrespect toward them. Besides… if you’ve genuinely made the decision to follow Jesus, this is a simple and easy thing that God is asking of you. Why put it off? We find that most people in this situation who are afraid of what their parents will think, are usually surprised to find that their family is mostly supportive of their decision.
  • And finally, baptism is a celebration! This isn’t a somber, boring, religious exercise! It’s a symbol that we’ve been made right with God through Jesus!!! It’s a picture of a new life – an abundant life in Christ. We shout, clap, cheer, hoot, whistle, and generally celebrate what baptism means. People take pictures, video, give hugs, and invite friends and family to come out for the occasion.

We are having our first baptism service at LifeCity Church on Sunday, July 27th, at our 10:30am service! If you have questions about baptism, or want to get baptized on that day, please email us at [email protected]. If you want a picture of what people getting baptized looks like, here’s a video that might bring it all together for you.

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

The Premium of Pain