John Markum

Getting OUT of a Spiritual Funk

You ever feel like you stopped growing? Or your prayers weren’t getting very far? I know I’ve been in some places in my life like that. Here are a few things to consider doing when you feel like you’re in a spiritual funk:

  1. Identify the Source – I recently had a funk I was going through. I was frustrated, irritable, reluctant to pray… I didn’t feel like myself. When I realized all these things had a common source it put everything into perspective for me. This is usually the case when we’re in a spiritual funk. Is it a sin issue, a fear, a work-related tension, a relational struggle, etc.?
  2. Pray – Often when we’re in a spiritual funk, we resist praying. Go to God with your funk. And be honest about how you’re feeling. “If My people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face… then I will hear from Heaven…” 2 Chronicles 7:14
  3. Confess – Not every funk is because we are doing something wrong. But it often is because of sin. Sin gets in the way of our walk with God. Confess means to “say the same thing.” When I confess something to God, I am acknowledging that it is what God says it is. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from every unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
  4. Praise – It feels unnatural when we’re down, but it’s a sure place to find God. And usually a good cure for our pain. I often use music that speaks to what I’ve been going through and acknowledges God’s faithfulness and power over it. This alone is one of the most powerful things to help me get out of a funk. God “inhabits the praises” of His people. Psalms 22:3
  5. Do Something – Lethargy is a good way to stay in a funk. Go exercise, get back in church, talk to a trusted friend, take care of some errands, clean your house… anything that makes you feel better, more productive, or obedient to what you know God is telling you to do. It might be wise to deal with the source of your funk, to get it out of the way first.

You’ll get through this. And you’ll be closer to God and able to trust Him more for having gone through a tough time. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. And you are worth it.



Of Heaven and Hell

It seems as if there are times in everyone’s life that are marked with concentrated periods of stress, trouble, and tough times. It always seems to come in waves:

  • First you fight with your spouse over finances and the lack of time you’ve spent together.
  • You get to work and find out that your hours are getting cut in half.
  • Because you’ve been moved from full-time to part-time you realize you now lose your company-paid benefits as well.
  • On the way home the car starts overheating.
  • You check the mail on your way in to see the familiar stack of bills, that seem to be constantly rising.
  • You share all of this info with your spouse who starts to cry.
  • She then tells you all of the problems in her day: house, kids, depleted savings account, etc…
  • A family member called her because her mother (5 states away) is in critical care at the hospital.
  • To top it off, she suspects that she’s also pregnant.

Sound familiar? This story is not entirely hypothetical. More than likely, you have your own lyrics to the same song. There’s an entire message I could preach here about God’s grace through life’s difficulties, and His faithfulness to see us through. Or I could talk about the fact that God is not putting us through the fires of life to burn us, but to forge our faith and promote us to another level of His blessings. All of that would be true.

Instead I want to share a story and a simple thought that I got once from an amazing man, pastor, father, and mentor in my life from years back when I was in high school. His name is Norwood Tadlock. I went to school with all three of his kids. I knew him as my Bible teacher at my Christian high school. His wife passed away while I was still a teenager. Making similar observations as I have above, he once pointed out to me:

For those of us who know Christ, this is as close as we will ever get to Hell.

That’s a relief. The Bible even tells us that compared to Heaven, our present sufferings are but “a light affliction that is working for us a far greater weight in glory!” God is not minimizing our pain. He is simply encouraging us that one day, all of this will seem very small in comparison to Heaven. But “brother Tadlock” didn’t stop there. He quickly made the opposite observation:

For those who do not know Christ, this is as close as they will ever get to Heaven.

Frightening. And not what God wants for them, either. These thoughts coming on the back of a week full of natural disasters, false prophets, hurting people within my church, hurting people outside of church, and trying to pastor others through this messy thing called life, make me think 2 things:

1)   Heaven must be unimaginably amazing. I want everyone to go there.

2)   Hell must be unimaginably terrible. I don’t want anyone to go there – not even my worst enemy.

Let’s stop trying to guess at the day that Jesus is coming for us since He said that “no one knows the day, nor the hour of the coming of the Son of man,” and let’s get passionate about seeing people far from God awakened with life in Christ. We have a world to change. Let’s “endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” and make a difference.



The Worthwhile Marriage

Beth and Randy Ritter are the epitome of a worthwhile marriage to Tiffany and me. They were in their 70’s when Tiff and I knew them, and had been married for over 50 years. Every Sunday they would walk from the church parking lot into the building holding hands, smiling, making eyes at each other, and giggling like a couple of 18 year-old’s on their first date. They had raised kids together, moved around the country, and were the embodiment of self-sacrificial love. I learned more about a  worthwhile marriage from watching the two of them for 3 years than in an entire marriage seminar. I doubt they even realized they had an impact on my marriage, but they did.

If nothing worthwhile is ever easy, marriage is definitely an example worth noting: It is both worthwhile and difficult. And I’m not saying that because my marriage is struggling. I’m saying that because my marriage takes work, like every marriage that counts.

This is the reason why no pastor at Edgewood would ever perform a wedding for someone that had not first gone through a series of pre-marriage counseling sessions. Each of us do a few things different but the overall message is the same with all of us: a wothwhile marriage takes work. Too many couples spend way more time and money on one day, the wedding, but then expect the rest of their marriage to be simple, effortless bliss. The average cost of a wedding is just over $24,000! That’s more money than I made per year in my first job out of college. But for all the fuss, and preparation,  and money, and stress, very few actually expect to have to work at their marriage.

It kills me when I hear other couples say things like “I wish we had a marriage like Mr./Mrs. So-n-so!” Well then do the things that Mr. and Mrs. So-n-so are doing! Mr. and Mrs. So-n-so would tell you that they make time for each other, they work through their disagreements, they put the desires and needs of the other above their own, and they still have dates. And if you have kids, then you have to double your efforts. Because having kids raises the stress level in your marriage and decreases you motivation to want to do anything for anyone else.

And older couples are in just as much need to do something difficult in their marriage. The divorce statistics of couples who have been married for 15+ years is alarming. I’ve lost track of the couples I’ve heard of that had a great marriage at one point, and a few years after the kids leave home, they split too.

If you want a good marriage, you’ve got to do the things that create a good marriage. As a man who married way out of his league, I can tell you from firsthand experience that it pays off to put hard work into your marriage. We celebrate 7 years this June, and it seems unreal that we’ll be having our fourth (and final!) child this August. Some days it feel like we’re running an asylum trying to keep up with the needs of a home, 3 kids, a growing ministry, and each other. But Tiffany is my best friend and partner in all of these areas of my life and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Whether you and your better-half are newly weds, veterans, engaged, or you’re as single as a $1 bill, your marriage (or future marriage) will depend on your willingness to do what is worthwhile versus what is convenient.

Have a long, healthy, worthwhile marriage!



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