John Markum

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.

What you CAN’T See

2 Kings 6 tells this fascinating story of Elisha being surrounded by the Aramean army. He had been relaying the details of their battle strategy to the king of Israel, and when the enemy found out they didn’t want to take chance by only sending a dozen troops. So they sent the likes of an entire battalion… for one man.

You ever felt the same way? Like you were being surrounded by seemingly impossible circumstances and the future was unclear, and there was no clear way of survival? Maybe for you it was a relational thing. Or college. Or your finances. Chances are, you can fill in the blank with your own example of an army surrounding you.

The best part of the story is when Elisha’s servant looks out the door to see the army surrounding them: No way of escape, no weapons, and outnumbered 1,000 to 2. Elisha prays for God to “open his eyes that he may see.” As God does so, the servant sees them being protected by an even greater army – an unseen army – made up of the hosts of Heaven.

Elisha does not pray for the army to be killed, he simply asks God to blind them. Then he leads the blinded battalion to the king of Israel, asks God to restore their sight, and then allows them to go back to their land unharmed. The Arameans leave Israel alone after that.

Funny, how something that looked so impossible was resolved, and without even a battle taking place. That’s how big our God is! Our God will take our overwhelming odds, and thwart their efforts to harm us.

Real faith is believing that there is something greater at work than what we can see with our eyes.

He never promised us bad stuff would never happen to us, He only promised that we’d never be alone, and that through Him we are more than conquerors. We will overcome by the power of our God. He is greater! He is with us! What can possibly stand in our way? Do not fear your circumstances. Look to our God, and expect great things from what you do not see.



Proactive Prayer

In the Christian sub-culture, there is one phrase that seems to have become a stagnant cliche : “I’m praying about it.” What’s discouraging is that it is often a false statement also. “Ok, I didn’t really pray about it, I just thought about it, but God knows what I meant.” Yeah, God understands it: we’re lazy.

But what if there were something different about our prayers? What if we really believed that God was going to show up and respond to our situations because we asked Him to? What if we started living and acting with such certainty in God’s ability to come through for us that our choices after praying reflected an expectation for God to show up? What if we made bold – even risky – decisions for the kingdom of God because we genuinely believed God would be in it? Well that would be proactive prayer, which is not content to just pray about it, but to make plans to see God do it.

There was once a small country church in a rural, farm community where most of the folks’ livelihood came from their crops. The area was going through a drought, and crops were being lost as a result. The situation was looking pretty serious, so the pastor of the country church called for the whole church to pray and fast and ask God to send the rain and sustain them, calling on His promises to be a Provider to His people. They were to fast and pray until the following Sunday, when they would pray together as a church for the rain. But as people were showing up, the pastor was scolding them for their lack of faith in God to provide. They argued back, “But preacher! We do believe God will bring the rain. We’ve fasted and prayed all week expecting God to send the rain. Honest!” But the pastor snapped back, “Then where is your umbrella!?!”

Where do you get that kind of confidence that not only asks God to provide, but then takes action in expectation of Him to answer? How can you be that sure? You pray according to God’s will. How do you know God’s will? Simple: His word. God’s will is in God’s Word. Claim the promises of God’s Word in your life and walk in confidence that God is going to do what He promised He would. The difference between faith and hope is that hope says, “God I’m asking for this, and I want You to do it.” Faith says, “God, I’m asking for this, and You said You would do it.”

What are some things from the Word of God that You can claim as promises? I’ll share some of those thoughts later. In the meantime, look in His Word for yourself and discover what God has promised for His people.



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