John Markum

“Over-The-Top” Love


“But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overtake you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior…”
Isaiah 43:1-3

So my youngest daughter learned quite awhile ago that a “million” was the biggest number she could think of. So anything she perceived as much more than she could count was simply labeled as “a whole million!” So we get to use this on her in fun ways that make since to her rough means of estimation. Even now, my favorite way to tell her how much she means to me is to say, “Kali, Daddy loves you a whole million!”

God consistently speaks to His people with the same kind of over-the-top language. Clearly, God understands our insecurities and doubts! And yet, more often than not, He doesn’t seem as frustrated with us as He does reassuring. You see, God understands our fears and longs to replace them with confidence in Himself – we refer to that confidence in God simply as faith.
Because of that, God tends to use these over-the-top descriptions such as this one in Isaiah 43 to make one thing clear: God doesn’t break His promises.

I know that as you read this, many of you may feel like you have been drowning, figuratively speaking, or like you have been burned by some circumstance you had to go through. Heck, you might be going through such events in your life right now. “Where was God then?!” I know the feeling, and quite frankly, I’ve been there too, trust me. As a pastor, I often am required to carry burdens that I must bear in silence. Things that were not right for me to share, or that I would be unable to receive outside help for anyway. I’m certain that many of you know just what that’s like.
But God did not promise that we’d never go through a storm, fire, or flood. His promise was not that life would be easy, but that He would see us through the circumstances of life’s difficulties. Always.
In some ways, the trials and struggles we endure are the best part of our stories – they give us milestones to mark God’s presence in our lives. I’d rather experience God delivering me through unbelievable odds, than to have a care-free life. Because we all know there will be trials, this promise motivates us to lean hard into God’s grace, the only thing we possess that consistently sees us through each mess life throws at us.
And God makes it clear that in the face of impossible obstacles, “we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us and gave Himself for us.”

By the way, that comes from another place where we see God’s over-the-top promises. Romans 8:38, 39 tells us that,

nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The Kali Markum translation? “God loves us A WHOLE MILLION!”

Rest in God’s promise to love you no matter what! If you’ve never opened yourself up to God’s love, consider beginning a relationship with Jesus today. You can trust Him. He’ll never leave you. Put your full faith and confidence in His over-the-top love.

Pastor John

Before you know God’s will…

Gods willTherefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:1, 2

Without a doubt, the greatest thing I get asked about as a pastor is something along the lines of, “How do I know God’s will for my life?” It’s a fair question. And it’s one that I’ve wrestled with most of my life, also. People have often asked me stuff like the following:

  • How did you know which college to go to?
  • How did you know Tiffany was “the one”?
  • How did you know God was calling you into ministry?
  • How did you know God was leading you to start a church?
  • How did you know God was sending you to California?
  • How did you know you were suppose to wear that shirt? (ok, this one, less often.)

Well according to Heb. 11:1, “knowing” any of these things is a stretch at best. You cannot “know” for sure anything God calls you to accept on faith. But the bigger reality check is that, despite all of the mystery and wonder we put to knowing the specifics of God’s will, what God really wants for each of us, is very clearly spoken to us in His Word.

No, God didn’t answer any of the above questions for my life in the Bible. He gave me answers to more important issues than the details of His specific will for the “what” to do with my life. He gave me the divine ways for the “how” I should live my life.

In Romans 12, Paul tells us quite clearly -even begging us- to submit ourselves as a “living sacrifice” to God, and that doing so is both “holy” and “pleasing” to God. When we do this, we live in such complete submission to the ways of God, that we understand this is our “true and proper worship.”

He goes on to contrast this way of living a life of worship by telling us not to be conformed to the “pattern,” or ways, of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. This “transforming” comes from our regular submission in our hearts to God’s ways.

But we want DETAILS! How do I find the answers to all these important life questions?!? Paul tells us that as we submit ourselves as living sacrifices to the ways of God, then He will lead us into the perfect will of God. In other words, as I obey God in what He has revealed, He will guide me in what He has concealed.

God’s will is a subject too broad for me to understand in my own life, let alone explain it in yours. But what I do know is this: As I walk in God’s ways, I will always be in His will. That’s why Paul can tell us later in 1 Cor. 10:31, “whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God.” If you want something for reasons that give God glory, go for it!

It still might not work out the way you think it will. But Romans 8:28 reassures us that, “All things work together for good, to those who love God, and are called according to His purpose.”

When we were first telling our kids that we were moving to San Jose to start a church, my little girl, Kali, asked, “I thought we were going to California?!” I had to explain to her, “When you’re in San Jose, you’re in California.” The same is true of God’s will – when you walk in God’s ways, you’ll always be in His will.

So what should you do with your life?! Whatever you want to,… as long as you are doing so out of a love for God and a desire to bring Him glory. He’s got the details of getting you to His will under control.

Pastor John

What I’m Currently Learning


The current season of my life is one of flux and transition. I’m preparing for the biggest step of faith in my life: starting a church and relocating my family to a new area thousands of miles away. I’ve been busy traveling, honing and sharing our vision, preparing my family for the move, raising funds, building our Launch Team, and working hard to finish strong with my sending church. Getting stretched in such definitive ways has been an incredible education! Here are a few of the things that God has been teaching me lately:

  • You can never out-give God. Ever. God has never once asked for more from me than He planned on giving back. We measure our generosity to God in hand-fulls – God measures His generosity to us in ocean-fulls.He’s proven that to me repeatedly over the last year.
  • Trials are opportunities to see God show up. There has never been a trial I’ve experienced that God has not come through for me faithfully as always. But I also get to know Him in more intimate ways than before as I endure hardship and lean into His grace.
  • My wife is the epitome of grace under pressure. Her confidence in me and God’s calling on my life is both inspiring, and gut-check. She honestly has more faith than me sometimes, and I genuinely look up to her more often than she can know. I’m so blessed!
  • I have the best friends in the world. Anything that creates high tension in a persons’ life reveals who their truest friends are. This is true of a death in the family, job loss, or other major life change. And I’ve come to realize that I have been greatly blessed with friends who are willing to stand with us. I’m grateful beyond words for each of you. You know who you are.
  • When you trust God, He blesses in secondary ways. The benefits to submitting to God are seen in the obedience itself. However, God also seems to consistently bless my life in peripheral areas to my obedience to Him.
  • Be confident. The most repeated command in all of Scripture is “fear not.” I constantly remind myself of the promises I alone have heard from God.
  • Stay teachable. I’ve discovered a tension between presenting myself as “I’m confident and thorough,” and “I’m arrogant and full of myself – you couldn’t possibly teach me anything.” But the truth is, I am acutely aware of my deficiencies and want to learn everything I can from those whom I can learn from. I’ve read more in the last six months than the previous two years. I’ve joined a coaching network. I’ve been to multiple conferences. And I regularly connect with other leaders who know me and have access to speak over my life and ministry.

That’s a little of what God is teaching me very directly right now. There’s nothing like learning on the job!

Pastor John

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