John Markum

Discerning the Will of God: Part 1

I constantly know of people who are struggling to grasp the will of God. This is such a needed and important subject to talk about that I felt it necessary to split into 2 parts regarding individual choices and your life’s direction. To be sure, I believe the two are intertwined. Yet I’m going to deal with them separately as one feeds into the other.


For example:

  • Which college should I go to?
  • Should I ask out that girl?
  • Do I buy that new car?
  • Should I take this job?
  • Should I look for a new church home?
  • Should I vote for this person or that person?

So here are a few things to consider as you discern God’s will for single choices you make:

  1. What does Scripture say? Too many times we are looking for God to speak to us through some kind of sign, when we haven’t even looked to see what He says in His Word. It has been said that 95% of God’s will regarding choices we make are spelled out in His word. If not directly stated, what principles does the Bible talk about regarding, debt, relationships, influence, putting God first, work ethic, etc…
  2. What are the long-term rewards/consequences? every choice bears intended and unintended consequences. For instance, you may be aware that buying that new car will give you a $350/month car payment, but you didn’t realize until after you bought it, that your insurance would go up another$50/month! Think through the obstacles you’ll have to face, whether intentionally or not.
  3. What are the pro’s and con’s? Not just a list. Weigh each one. Any time I make a list of pro’s and con’s, I weigh the pro’s on a scale of 1 to 10, and the con’s on a scale of -1 to -10. This helps me see more than a long list and short list, but how much do those things actually weigh in my decision making.
  4. Have you prayed about it? Now I saved this one for last because of something that often frustrates me regarding people’s prayer life… There are some things that you just don’t need to pray about. Such as, “Do I wear the brown or black belt?” Who cares? Wear the one that matches! Or, “should I sleep with my girlfriend?” God already spoke in His word concerning that, you don’t need to pray about it. But when you have a major decision, yes, you should spend some time praying about it. How much time? That depends on the decision. You may need to spend several days praying about it… and fasting. More on fasting later, though.
  5. What do the people I trust think? Outside of my wife (which should be obvious), I have a handful of people that I go to when making a big choice. Not so that they can tell me what to do, but so that I gain their perspective. We have a saying on our staff when it comes to collaborative thought: “None of us is as smart as all of us.” The people I go to often help me see things that I had not thought about… or that I was trying to ignore. But I’m still responsible for my decision.

I’ll come back later with a slightly different take on the subject of finding God’s will for your life. Til then…




Life-Defining Decisions

The older I get, the longer I’m married, the more I know Christ, and the greater experience I have in life and ministry, the more my life has been impacted by a few decisions I have made along the way. These are not all necessarily from the Bible, but the principles are all there. I’m taking for granted a few things that should be obvious: give my life to Christ, etc… These are more specific. And the benefits – and burdens – of these decisions continue to guide my life. These are not general guidelines. These are personal declarations that I intend to follow through at the cost of everything else if necessary. These are decisions that have radically altered and determined the direction of my life:

  • I choose to love 1 woman, my whole life, with all of my heart, soul, and mind – and earn her honor and love in return.
  • I will raise my kids not to simply survive their world, but to change their world.
  • I choose to enjoy every season of my life. I will embrace my youth while I have it, my seniority when I’ve earned it, and every day in between.
  • I will retire in Heaven. When it is time for me to step off the scene of “full-time ministry” I will invest the rest of my days into the next generation to take the mantle of leadership.
  • Aside from my wife and children – I will not sacrifice the vision that God has given me for the demands of anyone.
  • I will commit my life and ministry to reaching those who are not yet reached.
  • I will trust God enough to boldly attempt to do the impossible. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy.
  • No matter the cost, no matter my comfort zone, no matter others’ opinion, I will 1) listen to God, and 2) do what He says.
  • I would rather be known by what I am for, rather than what I am against. I will speak life and call people into their potential.

What principles do you live by? What are the things that define the direction you are going? I suggest that you think through some things that you will stand by as well. This was NOT an over-night list, and depending on which aspect of my life we’re talking about, the list gets longer and more specific. The point is, I intend to get somewhere on purpose. Of course I am open to how God wants to lead me, but I find these things to be consistent with God’s Word and His character. So it’s safe to bank my life on them. What are you banking your life on?



Minute to Lose it

I watched a very exciting episode of the new game show, Minute to Win It, with my wife the other day. It’s a very creative idea for a TV show and seems to be very family oriented: a breath of fresh air in such a value-deficient media. And who said only bad news sales?!

But as I got thinking about the concept, I began thinking of things that take a considerably longer time to earn, yet could be ruined in a brief moment of poor judgement. Doubtlessly, you can think of others to add to this list:

  • A good marriage. Takes half a lifetime to get right. Easily ruined in a variety of ways, and in less time than it takes to say “I did.”
  • Respect. You can work your whole life to develop the respect of your peers, children, spouse, and co-workers. One whoops can ruin a thousand at-a-boy‘s.
  • Health. Probably the first on the list that can be lost innocently. You can workout, lift weights, do routine cardio-aerobics, etc… One bad hit during a pick-up game and your limping for weeks (or longer).
  • Sobriety. From any substance. As Mark Twain once said, “Breaking the smoking habit is easy… I’ve done it hundreds of times.” You haven’t touched a drop of alcohol in years, and one tough day can push you to urges you haven’t given in to for a long time.
  • Purity. Once you cross those lines, you can’t uncross them. Losing something so precious and valuable to someone who has no intentions of committing to you is why God insists that sexuality be reserved for the safety of marriage. Plus, it saves you from a very uncomfortable conversation with the person you will marry.
  • Friendships. Some develop faster than others, but the best ones are always those that are forged by time. Good friendships are all too often torn apart by one act of betrayal, gossip, or selfishness.

Did you notice? None of these things are worth any amount of money. You would likely be very willing to empty every bank account you possess in order to keep the things on this list or in order to get them back. Don’t trade your most valuable possessions for something that is temporary and worth far less!



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