John Markum

Four Seasons of Parenting

It’s hard to look at my kids now compared to where they were when we first relocated to Silicon Valley 10 years ago. My 8-year-old, second-grade Emilee is turning 18 in less than a month and will graduate high school in May. My once 6-year-old Kali has already started taking college courses and is learning to drive. My pre-K Josiah is now a 14-year-old athlete, who can already bench his weight. And then there’s my “Meatball” Elijah, who wasn’t even 2 years old when we landed in San Jose. At least he’s still a kid (kinda). But even as I type this, he’s at the kitchen stove cooking fried rice from scratch… and yes, I asked him to bring me some.

I sat with a dear pastoral friend, Scott Ridout, who once served as the President of Converge Worldwide about raising a family in ministry. The insight he gave me was great for more than just pastoral families, and I wanted to pass on what he shared with me. He described parenting as being in four seasons…

The Caregiver Season

When your child is first born, you parent as their caregiver for the first few years. You do everything for them: feed them, burp them, bathe them. It’s not ‘easy” necessarily, but is generally quite simple. They need our snuggles and compassion, our playtime and interaction. Their eyes follow our every move and it’s adorable… for maybe 2 years.

The Cop Season

You spent the first 2 years teaching them to walk and talk… now they don’t seem to want to be still or quiet! For the next several years, your kids want to test the boundaries of everything. It seems like all you do some days is tell them, “Don’t do that!” It can be exhausting. While the Caregiver stage is defined by compassion, the Cop stage is defined by consistency. Yes, this means discipline, and there are many theories and firm convictions on how to discipline. But the one thing they all have in common is that they require consistency.

The Coach Season

As our children approach 10-12 years old, they require less discipline and more guidance. Like a sports coach, your kids are the “players” and they are the ones now entering this game called “life”. The hardest part of this for many parents is the transition from doing things for them and teaching them to do things for themselves. In this season more than any other, our kids need room to rise and permission to fail. Rather than “punishing” our kids directly, they begin to suffer the consequences of their choices more directly. The Coach stage requires our cooperation for their training and success in life. But like a coach of a team, you still have some leverage. Coaches can bench players, make them stay longer for practice, etc. Likewise, parenting in the Coach stage still exercises a degree of authority over our children.

The Counselor Season

Eventually, if all things go well, we eventually surrender whatever leverage or control we have over our kids as they enter adulthood and the independence that comes with it. If we’ve done the previous three seasons well, we should be able to enjoy our “kids” as peers now… and hopefully, friends. Some disaster withholding, our Counseling years represent the longest season of parenthood. At this point, our kids do not owe us obedience, but will hopefully express honor to us for raising them, and the experience and wisdom we still have to offer them.

My wife, Tiffany has always excelled and thrived as a Caregiver and Cop. The Cop years were exhausting to me! But I’ve found myself loving the season of Coaching our kids. If you’re a parent, what is/was your favorite season of parenting, and why? Share in the comments!

Pastor John

Monday Recap: UNseries week 3

Yesterday was one of the most emotionally charged messages I’ve ever shared as a pastor, as I walked through Romans 10:11-17, and called us to collective commitment to completing the Great Commission by the 2,000th anniversary of the church around April 2033. You can watch the entire service on our YouTube channel.

The main points to my sermon were:

  1. God saves whoever believes. The Greek word “whoever” and “all” appears some 1,248 times in our New Testament. And it means exactly what it sounds like – everyone. Absolutely everyone can be redeemed in Jesus name, and everyone who calls upon Him will be saved (Rom. 10:11-13). Jesus is contrasted with Adam, the first man, in Romans 5, and the point is made there, that the total, universal implications of Adam’s sin across the human race is “much more” overcome by the “Second Adam” Jesus Christ. If Adam’s sin effects all humanity, then Jesus’ righteousness can absolutely save all of humanity, if we will just turn to Him in faith.
  2. God speaks to whoever listens. God promises to pour His Word upon all the earth, and that it will not return unto Him empty (Isaiah 55:1-11). All creation declares God’s glory (Psalm 19:1-4; Romans 1:18-23), and if we truly listen and seek after God, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:12-13).
  3. God sends whoever will go. The passage in Romans 10 crescendos at the call to send preachers to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. Here, Paul quotes Isaiah 52:7, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!”

There are an estimated 500 ethnic people groups around the world, and many Christian organizations are tracking our progress in bringing the Gospel to each. To date, it is estimated that there 144 of these people groups who have yet to receive the good news of Jesus Christ. That means that if only 144 people or couples decided they would each commit their lives to taking the life-changing message to one each, we could see the Great Commission fulfilled in our lifetime. We’re that close…

“How then are they to call on Him in whom they have not believed? How are they to believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? 15 But how are they to preach unless they are sent?” Romans 10:14-15a

Pastor John

Year of the Bible

This past Sunday at Life Valley Community Church, I shared a vision of what 2024 will look like for our church – preaching, small groups, and more. I’m calling this our “Year of the Bible”, and here’s how it’s a going to look for us…

Our preaching calendar across the year will walk through the entire story of Scripture, in 52 Sundays, from Genesis to Revelation. Now it’s not realistic to do justice to every single book, chapter, and verse of Scripture in just 52 weekly sermons, even if I covered an entire book every week. So the preaching calendar I have planned out isn’t attempting to do that. Instead, we’ll focus on the overarching “meta-narrative” of Scripture, with the goal of helping our people deeply grasp the overall layout, themes, and purpose of the Bible as one cohesive story. Of course, I will take special dedication in specific points to appreciate the deeper nuances of specific books and segments of the Bible. For example, we’re starting the year with a full 5 week series in Genesis, but we’ll also cover all of the Old Testament History of Israel in a 5 week series as well.

To fill in many of the gaps I couldn’t possibly preach over in a single year, we’ll also be leading our church through a One Year Bible Reading Plan, beginning January 1, 2024. If you want to join us and follow along, follow our church on the YouVersion Bible app. I love this plan because of how it systematically walks through Scripture, while breaking up Psalms and the Gospels across the year.

But we don’t want to just read the Word, we want it to take root in our hearts. So we’re also preparing a Scripture memory list, and challenging one another to learn dozens of verses to memory over the new year.

Additionally, we’re going to lead our small groups to dig deeper into the Word, especially in studies that we’ll touch on in the preaching, but not have the time to dig into more of the details for. It’s my hope to continue creating more Bible studies to engage our church – and other ministries – deeper into the Scripture.

The heart behind this is to sincerely know the “Word of Truth”. I have committed my life to learning, studying, and teaching the Bible. And it continues to open up to me in new, powerful ways. And this is what has compelled me to lead our church in this direction. Of course, we always teach and preach the Bible, but I want the Word of God to mean more to us than a long menu of seemingly disjointed stories and instructions. It is truly much more than that. And the magnificence and beauty of the Bible continues to blow my mind, even after 20 years of pastoral ministry.

I can’t wait to unpack the entire story of the Bible in a meaningful way this next year! You can catch our services and sermons here on Youtube.

Pastor John

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

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