John Markum

Earth: Expiration 12/21/12 (?)

TheEndI’m not going to waste my time trying to convince you that the world is not going to end this Friday for one reason:

I don’t know.

Sooner or later, life on earth as we know it will cease to exist. That’s true for all of us individually and collectively. So it could happen Friday. I doubt it, but you never know.

The Bible tells us not to boast of tomorrow – you never know what a day may bring about. Good wisdom. And whether we’re talking about the return of Christ, nuclear fall out, World War III, or simply our own individual demise, the fact is our days are numbered.

We can choose to live in fear of that reality, or we can choose to live each day to the fullest, seeking to discover all that God created us to be as individuals, communities, a generation, a nation, etc.

That full potential is only found when we stop trying to be our own Savior and turn to Christ instead.

The “end of the world” could even happen here and now as I type up this post. But whenever that day finally does come for us, I pray that you will be rea

Safe Is NOT Safe

“Better safe than sorry!” That was a line I heard alot growing up. And it certainly is true in many of the circumstances we face.

  • “Was that paper due tomorrow or next Thursday?” Better safe than sorry…
  • “Do I have enough money in my account to buy that?” Better safe than sorry…
  • “Would my spouse be ok with me doing this?” DEFINITELY better safe than sorry!

There are times when it is wisdom that tells you to play it safe. But the wisdom of God is different from the wisdom of this world. And God consistently leads His people to make choices that are anything but playing it safe:

  • Get in the face of the most powerful human on earth and demand my people’s freedom.
  • Leave the safety and security of your hometown and go somewhere you’ve never been.
  • Go attack a 9′ 6″ tall warrior with a rock.
  • Break the law by preach in my name.

Jesus said throughout the gospels, “If anyone will save their life, they shall lose it. But if you lose your life for my sake, you shall find it.” Matthew 10:39

When God calls us to do something risky -share our faith, trust Him with our finances, relocate yourself and family, change jobs, end a relationship, follow Him into the unfamiliar- we cannot afford to play it safe. In an attempt to stay comfortable, many would-be Christ followers have tried to be safe rather than sorry, and only ended up “safe” and sorry.

I know that all conventional wisdom is telling you not to leave your safe place. That if you do, it could all go bad. And it could. That’s the adventure! We are trusting in the Unseen to lead us over circumstances that are bigger than ourselves. And the payoff of experiencing God’s provision and protection is nothing short of a game-changer.

I know people in my life and ministry who are going through some tough circumstances. Some of them feel like they are cornered in a place where all they have left is trusting God. In some ways, I wish everyone in my church could experience that… to have the anxiety of realizing you can’t do it on your own, only to be outmatched by the exhilaration of watching God work mightily on your behalf.

One missionary once told me, “It’s safer to be 4,000 miles from home and in the will of God, than at home but out of the will of God.” He was right. I would rather be “not safe” from the world’s perspective and “not sorry” from mine, than to be “safe” in the world’s perspective and “sorry” in my own.

Step out on faith. Trust God. Be dangerous. You’ll never go back to playing it safe again! And you won’t be sorry that you trusted Him either.



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 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