family 2It is not enough to be a Christian home, especially in our culture. The only thing that is enough is to be a Christ-centered family.


Now, you may be saying, “What’s the difference? I don’t see any difference.” Well, there really shouldn’t be a difference but unfortunately, in our culture today, the word Christian doesn’t mean what it used to mean. Some 80 percent or more of our culture says, “Oh, I’m a Christian, I mean, I’m not something else so I must be a Christian.” But you’d have to agree that 80-some-odd percent of our homes would not be called “Christ-centered” in the way we do life.

What is a Christ centered home? Jesus isn’t just a part of our life, HE IS OUR LIFE. We are fully devoted, following and serving and knowing, and bringing glory to him. In a cultural Christian home, in a home that’s Christian in name only, when there is a hard time, we just write somebody off. “Well, just screw them.” “Forgot them.” “We are not going to mess with them.” “Forgive them? I mean, after what they did, I would never forgive them. They’d have to come back to me, crawling on their hands and knees and then I’ll just make them pay for a little while.” And that’s normal. In a Christ-centered home though, we say, “What does Jesus teach us about how to do relationships?” And he said, “Blessed are the peace makers.”


Paul said something very complimentary in Romans 12:17-18 and verse 21. He said, “Do not repay evil for evil,” which is what everybody had been taught to do. Heth said “Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.” Now, here’s the power statement. He said, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you,” what are you to do? He taught, you live a life at peace with everyone.

If you are thinking at this point that you know a lot of people who sure need to hear this, you have missed the point altogether. He says, you let God speak to YOU. As far as it depends on you, you do everything possible to live at peace. Then in verse 21, he said, “Do not be overcome by evil but instead,” we’re going to overcome evil with good. Blessed are the peace makers for they will be called children of God.


So, do you want to be a Christian home or a Christ-centered family? Make the distinction one choice at a time.


Childhood Conditions That Made Me What I Am Today


thornton family chester 001Childhood is such a crucial part of life. Experts say that most of what you become in life is shaped during your first five years. That, of course, is debatable; however, what happens in your early years definitely determines much of what you are throughout life. Once the mold is set it becomes increasingly difficult to change it. Therefore, it is vitally important to do it right in the early years.

My concern is that many parents today are not getting it right. Many parents are following a parenting model, philosophy or book that, I fear, will lead to highly unpleasant results in future years.

So allow me to share with you some of the conditions and factors that were part of my childhood years that have shaped who I am throughout life. I know, those childhood years were so long ago that some of you can’t even think back that far. However, I believe these are conditions that children need in every generation in order to have healthy as well as balanced development.

I will be the first to admit that my parents were not perfect in permitting or executing these elements of my upbringing. They were, however, more than adequate when it came to making them a permanent part of my character and lifestyle. 

1.     Freedom to explore: I was given the freedom to have adventure in my life. This adventure was not always in the form of planned, structured, activities. Many times it was just the ability to creatively enjoy my environment. We lived in a different world, but spending time outside playing, building things, including tree huts, and developing my creativity were every day practices. I fear the electronic world is stealing this practice and value from our kids to their detriment.

2.     Responsibility: I learned early in life that responsibility was an expected part of life. Those responsibilities included doing my part around the house and outside of the house. Even though there were five kids in my family we all had expected responsibilities. And when I was old enough, I got a job. I know that is a difficult concept for some parents to even consider expecting, however, if you really love your child, you will teach them responsibility early in life. As a result, I have never, never, never had a problem being a responsible, productive adult.

3.     Accountability: With responsibility came accountability. So if there were expectations, there were also consequences when expectations were unmet. And if responsibilities were carried out as expected sometimes, but not all that often, there was praise and reward. But whether or not the recognition came we still met our responsibilities. My fear and concern for the current generation is that accountability has been replaced with an elaborate system of bribery. Instead of kids being taught responsibility and held accountable for their actions they are bribed and rewarded into action. Oh what a dangerous road we travel when it comes to what the future holds. Oh how difficult it is going to be when they get out into the real world and find out that everybody else doesn’t treat them the same way.

4.     Parental model: My parents didn’t get it all right. My parents had issues in their relationship and in their parenting. They did, however, give us kids, all five of us, a model to follow. They provided a unity of purpose and direction for our family. And when they did not agree on that direction, they dealt with it behind closed doors. They brought to our family not only the provision of physical needs but also a healthy balance of emotional and spiritual direction.

5.     Church involvement: We lived 12 miles away from our church in a day of no super-highways. There were five of us kids and no van or SUV to transport us in. But we never missed church. It was never an item of discussion. We did not discuss, on Saturday night, whether or not we were going to church on Sunday morning. It was an understood part of our existence. As a result, all five children, as well as their families are involved in church, spiritual direction and seeking the Lord, to this day. And I would add, not only did we attend church, we were involved in church worshiping AND serving.

6.     Germs: That’s right, I said germs. Germs were part of our existence. I grew up on a chicken farm. We had 36,000 chickens to deal with all the time. There are always germs when it comes to chickens. Though we were clean we were not fanatical in our cleanliness. In fact, I can even remember one occasion when I ate a dirt burger served to me by one of my older brothers. Can I tell you that today I never get sick? I never go to the doctor for sickness. Sure, God has blessed me with good genes. God has blessed me with good health; however, I believe that much of the strength of my immunity system is due to the fact that I was allowed to build an immunity system in my childhood. I am all for cleanliness, but I think parents today are so obsessed with raising their kids in a completely sterile environment and as a result are inviting, rather than preventing, untold sickness in the future. Call it my weird germ philosophy, but I think the future will tell.

So, please feel free to take issue with some or much of what I have just written. That is your prerogative. I do, however, encourage you to look and think long and hard about what you are building into the childhood of your children. It is far more than their current existence that you must be concerned about. It is what these practices will lead to in years to come. What do you want your child to be like in their 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond? Well, you, to a large extent, are determining that right now.

My goal for my sons





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goalsAs a parent, I have often thought, what is my goal in life for my kids? Of course, my kids are no longer at home and have grown to the point where they are parents themselves. The question still remains, what is my goal in life for my kids?

Let me state it in a single phrase: my goal for my sons is to pass me as a man. That’s right, pass me as a man.

I have hindered and contributed to the downgrading of society if my sons are less than I. I have left society as it was, with no improvement at all, if my sons are only as good as I. So, my desire, my goal, my passion for my sons is to pass me as a man.

Pass me when it comes to INTEGRITY. That involves being authentic and real to the core. It calls for honesty and trustworthiness at all times, whether or not anybodybody is looking. That means doing the right thing even if nobody knows that you’re doing the right thing.

Pass me when it comes to LOVING GOD. Live every day with a close, personal, growing relationship with the God of heaven. Live every day with the unending desire to please him in all things. Live every day with that relationship and desire even when those around you choose to do otherwise.

Pass me when it comes to VALUE TO THE KINGDOM. That means have a kingdom minded outlook on life. See everything from the perspective of God and his kingdom since everything begins and ends with God. Be committed to being a lifelong participant in advancing the kingdom of God both near and far.

Pass me in SERVICE TO OTHERS. Live daily with an other focused perspective. See others and their needs from a heart of compassion and care. Follow that focus with a life of unselfishness. Ask not or think not of what others can do for you but what you can do for others. Serve others as agoals 2 follower and servant of Jesus because Jesus was all about serving others.

Pass me as a HUSBAND. Love your wife with all your heart and let her know that every day in countless ways. Give her the security of a relationship that is built on unselfish love. With that love, lead her. Led her with service. Lead her with focus and direction for your marriage. Lead her to love God and others with all her heart.

And pass me as a FATHER. Be the father that models what you want in your children. Be the father that is the kind of person you want your child to be. Be the father that your children will be proud to follow. And give them direction. Direct them through your model and teaching to a life of love, meaning, purpose, significance, and eternal reward.

goals 4My desire for my sons is to pass me as a man. It would be good if they did that by the time they are 40. However, take a few additional years if necessary. I will not be threatened by my sons passing me as a man. I will be overwhelmingly proud of the achievement.

Those born from 1930 to 1979 and everyone since

I have no idea where this originated but every part of it is true of me except the part about the street lights. I lived outside a town of 900 people and we had no street lights.

1930’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s!

First, we survived being born to mothers
Who smoked and/or drank while they were

They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing,
Tuna from a can and didn’t get tested for diabetes.

Then after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-base paints.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles,
Locks on doors or cabinets and when we rode
Our bikes, we had baseball caps not helmets on our heads.

As infants & children,
We would ride in cars with no car seats,
No booster seats, no seat belts, no air bags, bald tires and sometimes no brakes.

Riding in the back of a pick-up truck on a warm day
Was always a special treat.

We drank water
From the garden hose and not from a bottle.

We shared one soft drink with four friends,
From one bottle and no one actually died from this.

We ate cupcakes, white bread, real butter and bacon..
We drank Kool-Aid made with real white sugar.
And, we weren’t overweight.

Because we were
Always outside playing…that’s why!

We would leave home in the morning and play all day,
As long as we were back when the
Streetlights came on.

No one was able
To reach us all day. And, we were O.K.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps
And then ride them down the hill, only to find out
We forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes
a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We did not have Playstations, Nintendo’s and X-boxes.
There were no video games, no 150 channels on cable,
No video movies or DVD’s, no surround-sound or CD’s,
No cell phones, No personal computers, no Internet and no chat rooms. WE HAD FRIENDS
And we went outside and found them!

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth
And there were no lawsuits from these accidents.

We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt,
And the worms did not live in us

We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays,
Made up games with sticks and tennis balls and,
Although we were told it would happen,
We did not put out very many eyes.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and
Knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just
Walked in and talked to them.

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team.
Those who didn’t had to learn to deal
With disappointment.
Imagine that!!

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law
Was unheard of.
They actually sided with the law!

These generations have produced some of the best
Risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever.

The past 50 years
Have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.
We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility,
and we learned how to deal with it all.

If YOU are one of them?
You might want to share this with others
who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the
lawyers and the government regulated so much of our lives
for our own good .

While you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know
how brave and lucky their parents were.

Kind of makes you want to run through the house
with scissors, doesn’t it ?


The real reason for disintegrating families

While jogging one morning I overheard a conversation, or I should say, disagreement between a mother and daughter in the driveway of their home.

The teenage daughter was getting into her car parked in the driveway, apparently leaving for school. Mom was standing at the garage door saying something to her daughter. I was not able to catch what mom was saying but I did get the daughter’s response, loud and clear. “Mom, shut up!”

Why it is that there is so much disrespect for parents and authority in our kids today. Could it be parents who are too busy to give careful attention to their kid’s development and are pretty much willing to settle for anything? Could it be kids reflecting what they see modeled in their parents? Could it be the product of too much TV and video games?

I don’t know. But I do know what I observe. Just this morning I observed that same mother dropping her son off at the child care provider down the street from her house so that she could get to her security job, I’m serious, she was wearing a security uniform, and drive off in her new GMC Acadia Denali with a price tag in the $40,000 range. I was reminded again what I believe to be the primary reason for two income families and the disintegration of the family unit. Here’s how it usually plays out.

The first phase is your yearnings start to exceed your earnings.  You start to see things you want and you can’t afford them and you say, “I’m going to go out and get those things anyhow.”

Then immediately comes the second phase.  You get over extended financially.  You have more than you can pay for.  Which immediately results in the third phase.

You have to constantly hustle.  You have to get extra jobs – both husbands and wife are working.  You have to work at night.  You have to constantly hustle to make ends meet.

Then because of that the fourth phase.  Your home life starts to deteriorate because you’re tired.  Everybody’s exhausted.  Everybody’s irritable.

It leads to an epidemic of absentee parents.  A lot of it is because of this very syndrome.  Our kids don’t need more things.  They don’t need new vehicles. They need their parents. More than anything else they need our attention.  But we are so busy making a living we don’t have time to make a life.  We don’t have time to give them our attention.  We are so busy paying for our lifestyle that we don’t have time to pay enough attention to our kids. We want to.  We know it’s the right thing to do but we feel trapped by this syndrome.  We feel like there’s no way out.

The truth is you made the decisions that got you into this and you can make the decisions that will get you out.  Yes, it’s going to be painful.  But it’s not going to be painful like you never have the time to love your kids.  It’s certainly not as painful as I’m not living the life I know God wants me to live.

And we keep doing this because we rationalize.  We have this phrase we say to ourselves, “It’s only temporary.”  We’ll do it just for six more months.  We’ll do it for another year.”  You’re kidding yourself.  A temporary situation has become an habitual lifestyle

The Bible says in Hebrews 13:5 “Be content with what you have.”  That means enjoy what you already have instead of always wanting more.

For the sake of restoring health, happiness and a hopeful future to your family, “Be content with what you have.”  The last thing you want to do is look back with regret.


Why moms are so special

Here are some of the comments from a few of our New Venture family about what you appreciate so much in your mom. Moms are special and here are some of the reasons why.

“I mostly appreciate my mom’s unwavering faith in me, even when I don’t believe in myself.”

“She was always there when I came home.”

“Being there when I was young.”

“My mom is very supportive about my education and career goals.”

“She is ALWAYS there for me, loves me no matter what, giving caring.”


“No matter what I can always depend on my mom to be there to support me.”

“Her weirdness…uh, I mean uniqueness.”

“Mom always wanted the best for me.”

“I am thankful for her strong will.”

“I love how patient she is and how she never lets me second guess her love.”

“She made me feel safe–always.”

These are some of the reasons why you say your mom is special to you. I hope you take some time on Mother’s Day to express your gratitude to her if you are still able to do so. Even beyond that, how about letting her know how much you appreciate her and are grateful to her on a regular basis. Go ahead!