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.


What If…Campaign Begins at NVCC This Sunday, May 1

Dear New Venture Family and Friends,whatif

For over eight years now New Venture has been devoted to helping people discover a growing adventure with God. At the same time we have reached out in numerous directions with a commitment to being the authentic presence of Christ in our community. Many lives have been changed and many who were living far from God have come back to him through Jesus. All of this has been accomplished through the use of rented facilities in the community.

Now God has opened the door to New Venture to be able to acquire her own property and ministry campus. God, in his timing, knew exactly what we needed.

So, with all our energy, we pursue God’s opportunity. We pursue it for three reasons:

·        to establish permanents in the community

·         to expand ministry to the community and world

·        to exponentially share Christ with the community and the world.

 The What If…Campaignis an unprecedented opportunity for New Venture to declare to the world that God is doing a mighty work in our lives. Over the next 24 months, please join us in prayer and participation in theWhat If… Campaign.  We believe this is where God is leading us as a church, and we believe God wants you to be a vital part of reaching more people through New Venture Christian Church.  Please consider:  What if God wants to use you in an awesome way?

Steve Thornton

Lead Pastor

Two easy ways to promote NVCC

PrintOne of the keys to growth is getting the word out. The technical term is marketing. And everyone knows that the most effective marketing approach is a satisfied customer. Assuming that you are a satisfied customer of New Venture Christian Church (realizing that we are never totally satisfied), I want to ask you to use your influence and contacts to get the word out about NVCC. Here are two links. The first one is to a vision video about New Venture’s mission in the community and world. The second link is to a promo video for stage two of “Witnesses” that fires up this Sunday, February, 10.

If you are the user of social media, I would like to invite you to post these two links on your home page. If you do not use social media would you send them out to those on your contact list? You might just give a brief statement about each one like, “This is an intro to my church that I think is the greatest.” Or for the promo video something like, “Got a great teaching series starting this Sunday at my church that I think is the greatest.” Just use your own creativity and together let’s get the word out and the invitations offered.

So excited about reaching out to more and more in our community and beyond. Together we can.

The new normal for Christians

There is an awful lot of talk these days about the “new normal” especially since NBC introduced “The New Normal” sitcom to its fall program schedule. I will not even begin to comment on the content and character of said program due to the adult and socially driven agenda of the series.

The media and news programs are also flooded with talk about what looks like the new normal in America. Here are a few examples of what we are being prepared for as more of the “normal” than the exception in the new America.

8% + unemployment

50% of Americans on public assistance programs

Continually falling wages and buying power

Retirement at later and later years, if at all

Muslim leaders entertained in the White House while our long time ally, Israel is snubbed

25% the new standard for tipping

The new normal in America is generating enormous amounts of concern and elevated levels of disgust. How have we fallen so far, so fast? Where will it all end? Is there any hope for a return to some of the healthier normal of the past?

All I can say is, there’s an election coming in a few weeks and if you are unhappy with some of the new normal talk and direction that we are confronted with and are experiencing daily, then get out and vote for the best candidate that is likely to change it. Otherwise, be quiet and just live with it.

The really sad news, though, is that the new normal is not just a disappointing direction of the country, it has infected the church as well. At a recent meeting of some fellow pastors our conversation centered on what seems to be the new normal for Christians. Here are a couple eye openers.

  • The average American Christian gives 2.6% of his income to the Lord or an average of $17 a week.

Here’s a piece from Crown Financial Ministries that features a sermon by author Randy Alcorn. A summary: Randy says we’re living in the most affluent society the world has ever known. American Christians control 70% of the world’s Christian wealth. The average American Christian gives 2.6% of his income.

The average amount of giving by an adult in a Protestant church is $17 a week, which is $70 a month, or $840 a year. A full 96% of American Christians don’t tithe or give 10% of their income.

Crown includes this in the piece as well: The average Christian gives 30% less than the average churchgoer in 1933 during the Great Depression.

  • Less than 20% of Americans regularly attend church. That figures out to a once every five weeks church attendance for the average Christian. That might be a little lower than your attendance patterns but it reveals an alarming condition. And the trend is trending downward all the time. Is this the new normal for church attendance? Is the church no longer a priority in the life of a Christian? Is the church relegated to a bottom five classification when it was once #1?

These and other statistics reveal that Christians are just going the way of our culture instead of shaping and leading it. It seems that lowered standards, commitment and values, that our society has embraced, have made their way into the church and Christian’s hearts as well.

Isn’t it time for the church to be the church and Christian to be just that, Christians who are serious followers of Christ rather than drifters. Isn’t it time for real Christ followers to be trend setters rather than trend followers? Isn’t it time to return to the normals of the past that were far better and more productive, both personally and for the kingdom of God? How about beginning with these two?

  •  “A tenth of all you produce is the Lord’s and it is holy.”  Leviticus 27:30
  • “Let us not neglect our church meetings, as some people do.” Hebrews 10:25

Join with me in rejecting the new normal and sticking with the time tested standards of old.

Enough said. Let’s do it!



Celebrations in Baptism, 6/24/2012

Sunday, June 24, was a tremendous day of celebration for Chris and Nereida Glascock and Brent Wolfe as they followed Jesus in baptism for the forgiveness of their sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Each took the step to bury the old self-driven life in baptism and to come forth a new person and life in Christ Jesus. Pictures say it better than words.

The Kind of Church God Blesses

May 29, 2012 By

London has some of the most beautiful, historic churches in the entire world. Yet they are also some of the most empty. I was struck by this recently when I was in the city to do a Bible study. Churches are dying off so fast that they’re being sold off to bars and restaurants. London churches are desperate for the blessing of God.

I don’t want to lead a dying church. I don’t believe you do either. So what does it take for a church to remain vibrant, exciting—and alive? It takes the blessing of God. Whenever God blesses a church, it grows, lives are changed and miracles happen. Churches that God blesses bless people, bless families and bless communities.

That’s what the early church had. God’s blessing was all over that church. If we want to have the blessing of God on our churches, we need to do what the early church did in Acts 1-2.

1.    Pray for God’s power. (Acts 1:3-4, 14) It’s God’s power that makes the Church different from any other organization or group. We have the Holy Spirit. Microsoft, General Motors, and Apple do not have the Holy Spirit. We do. He has also given the church an enormous assignment—to get as many people into Heaven as possible. Like the early Church, we need God’s power to do this.

2.    Use everyone’s language. (Acts 2:5-8) One of the great miracles of the Day of Pentecost was that, as the disciples preached, everyone heard them in their own language.  It was a complete reversal of what God did at the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11. But we don’t need this miracle today. Today’s Church speaks every language in the world. The Church speaks more languages than the United Nations.

But I believe the people in your church speak more languages than you realize. We all speak dozens of languages. If someone in your church is involved in IT or a baseball fan or a doctor or a salesperson, they understand a language others don’t know. If you want to be a church that God blesses, you need to realize that God has placed people in your congregation for a reason. They have a language that God wants them to use to share the Good News in the community.

3.    Employ every member’s talents. (Acts 2:1-18, 21) The early Church used all of its people in ministry. No one sat on the sideline! Everyone is involved in the ministry of the church. To be the kind of church that God blesses, your church needs to be the kind of church that won’t let people just sit. If that’s what people want in a church, let them go somewhere else. The kind of church God blesses uses the talents of those in the body.

4.    Be devoted to God’s Word. (Acts 2:14-40, 42) We should hear it, read it, meditate on it, and memorize it. But most of all, if you want your church to be one that God blesses, you need to do it—whatever the Bible says. Pop psychology won’t give you God’s blessing. Devoting yourself to God’s Word will. When Peter preached the gospel message during Pentecost Sunday, he continually went back to God’s Word in sharing the gospel. No other message—other than the gospel—has the power to change lives.

5.    Love each other deeply. (Acts 2:42). The early church practiced koinonia (which we call fellowship). It means they were as committed to one another as they were to Jesus Christ. The truth is, loving churches grow. Cold churches don’t. The early church was a loving church. The Roman government hated Christians and persecuted them, but even the Romans acknowledged that early Christians loved each other. They protected one another, cared for one another, and helped one another like no one else.

6.    Worship with joy. (Acts 2:46-47) God blesses a church that celebrates Him. People want to be where there is joy! There’s enough bad news in the world.  I think the church should be a place where good news is preached—the gospel. We could stand in our pulpits each week and preach about the sin of the week. But what good does that do? Honestly, I think it should be fun to go to church. God wired us to express emotion. But too many people have been taught not to express it in church. When we let go and worship joyfully though, people are drawn to our churches.

7.    Be willing to sacrifice. (Acts 2:44-45) The first church was famous for its generosity. Acts 2 says that the early church shared everything with one another. The early church didn’t just share money. Their generosity was much more radical than that. They shared everything! I wonder how many people the 21st century church would reach if we sacrificed like the early church did.

8.    Reach our communities for Christ! (Acts 2:40-41) The first church reached people for Christ from its very first day. In fact, with 3,000 people coming to Christ, the first church was megachurch from day one! In Acts 1:8 Jesus commands us to be His witness throughout the world. Evangelism is not an option. As long as there is one person within driving range of Saddleback who doesn’t have a relationship with God, we’re going to keep trying to grow. I hope your church will do the same.