CHRISTIAN OR CHRIST-CENTERED?

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.

THE DIFFERENCE

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.”

IT DEPENDS ON YOU

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.

THE DECISION

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

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How has New Venture Christian Church changed your life?

whatifAn exciting part of our capital campaign has been a series of small groups in which the details of the campaign are explained and everyone is given a chance to ask any questions they might have. Even more exciting is hearing people tell about how New Venture has changed their lives. Here are just a few of the stories.

  • I have never been as connected with any other church as NVCC. I want to get involved and there are so many opportunities.
  • NV has not judged us for the things we have done in the past. They just accept us for who we are.
  • I don’t have to be dragged to church. It has changed our whole life, how we feel, think and deal with life.
  • I was baptized at NV and I am progressing on my journey.
  • Coming to NV has helped me become a better husband and father. It is nothing I have done. God is doing it.Print
  • NV has definitely changed my life. I have learned more about the Bible than I have even learned in my life.
  • New Venture has put us in a family
  • New Venture has helped me regain trust in people in the church. They’re not old and crotchety and I can enjoy his freedom at NV
  • NV has changed my life. Our lives were in a wreck and NV was just what we needed.
  • I know if I need anything I can call on anyone at NV and I know I will have help. It is my home. This is my family.
  • New Venture turned me around. NV taught me you didn’t have to be perfect. I never learned that in church growing up.

What is your story?

Where are the real men?

real men 4We live in a culture and in a society where real men are difficult to find. Where are the men who believe in truth? Where are the men who lead their families? Where are the men who have convictions and principles and stand upon them no matter what? Where are the men who love their woman with all their being and will defend her against any opposition? Where are the men who model for their children what it means to love and to serve and to be courageous? Where are men of common sense, understanding and wisdom? Where are the men who are spiritual leaders of their home? Where are the real men?

Rather than spending our time pointing fingers or attempting to find reasons for the condition of men in our culture, let’s rather talk about some solutions and new direction. Let’s talk about what a real man looks like. And then, let’s just spend a moment talking about some key pursuits that will develop real man in today’s culture.

First of all real men lead their families. They are out in front. They know what is right and what is true and what is good and they pursue it with all of their hearts. They have convictions and principles and stand upon those convictions and principles even when others in their neighborhood or workplace refused to do so. It is still true that children will not do what you say; they will do what you are. In other words, instead of following your words they will follow your model. And that is not true just of children; it is true of the entire family. We need families that are led by man who are models. They are models of values and principles and spiritual convictions and purpose that others are proud to follow.

This is not an easy task in our culture. Men have been assaulted from endless sources. Some of the assault is nothing more than an attempt to reduce and diminish the value and place of man in our culture. Other attacks are justified. Men have just failed to step up to the plate, to be what they are called to be, and to lead as they are called to lead. As a result, men face a huge challenge today. But it is a challenge that men must meet and men must conquer and men must overcome. Men must become leaders in their families.

The second thing real man are is healthy, strong, and mission driven. They know that being a real leader requires health, physical health and spiritual health. They are not content to exist or to take up space in the family. They want to be healthy leaders that are giving attention to their physical, spiritual as well as emotional well-being.

This takes time. This takes desire. This takes determination. But a real man is so committed to being healthy and strong and mission focused that they are, and this is the third identifying characteristic of a real man, they are willing to pay the price, whatever that price might be. They will sacrifice, extend, serve, exercise self control or whatever it takes to become the healthy, strong, mission driven leader that the family needs and the family is longing for.

So my question to you is this, do you want to be a real man? Do you want to be a man who leads his family, leading out of health, strength and purpose because you’re willing to pay the price whatever it is? If this is the kind of man you want to be I have a few suggestions.

I would first of all say, make the time to get alone with God regularly. The challenge is too big, the call is too high, the task is to demanding for you to do it alone. You cannot be the man that God wants you to be and calls you to be in your own strength and in your own power. There is a short verse in the Bible that says, in the book of Philippians chapter 4 verse 13, “I can do everything,” that means you can do everything you need to do to be the leader in your home that you need to be. It is within the power and realm of possibility, but it continues, “through HIM who gives me strength.” Who is the him? Who is the one who gives me strength? Who is the one who provides the power? It is Jesus. We are talking about the super natural strength that Jesus gives to those who seek, depend on, and cry out to him for such strength.

So I would say to you, if you want to be the leader in your home that you know you need to be and God wants you to be, you need to spend regular time with the one who real men 3gives you the power, strength, wisdom, and anything else it takes to be the leader that you need to be.

The second thing I would encourage you to do is to get connected with a group of men, or a men’s ministry through which you can pursue the same goals and direction together. Connect up with other men who also want to be real man. Spend time regularly with men who want to be leaders in their family. Learn from men and learn together with man who want to get healthy and strong as they pursue God’s mission and purpose for their families. You cannot do it alone. Not only do you need the power of God you also need the presence of other men who are pursuing this purpose together.

So let me wrap it all up by first of all repeating something I have already said. This is not going to be easy. The tide of culture is against you. The forces of the evil one stand in opposition. He does not want you to win this battle. The evil one does not want you to be the leader in your home that God want you to be. Therefore, he will do everything he can to dissuade you and defeat you. Be aware of that.

To that I would say, do not let him win. Look to God, depend on his strength, pursue his purpose, and you will become the leader he wants you to be in your family. It will not be instantaneous. It will take time upon time upon time. But with each step of progress and each mark of victory you will become more and more the real man God has called you to be. I believe that is exactly want you want.

Natalie, welcome to this world

I am delighted to introduce to you Natalie Danielle Thornton, born Thursday, March 8 to our middle son and wife, Timothy and Daphane Thornton. Natalie weighed six pounds and one ounce and was eighteen inches long. Daphane and Natalie are home now getting used to life in the Thornton household. She joins her two big sisters, Audrey and Eloise.

Natalie is our sixth grandchild with our seventh due in August to our youngest son, Matthew and his wife, Jess

 

 

 

 

The Good About the Good Ole Days

This picture is of me, my parents and all my brothers and sister. It was taken when I was about four on the steps of my grandparent’s house in Chester PA. We lived about three hours away down on the Delmarva Pennsula in a little town called Frankford DE. Frankford had a population of about 900. There my family lived for all my childhood years and beyond. In fact, they lived in the same house all my “at home” life except for the first year. That year we lived in the house next door. Then we made the big move across the ditch to the new place. We actually moved off the farm into a house my dad built because he decided farming just wasn’t for him. Our family lived there for decades. It wasn’t until some forty years later that my parents sold the home place and moved to Florida.

In some ways you could say those were the good ole days. In other ways they were anything but good. For example, my mother had five kids in a span of six years. By the time she was twenty- five she was the mother of five children, all under the age of six. You think you have it bad. Can you imagine the chaos that reigned? We stacked them up in the bed rooms. We always had bunk beds and at one time all four of us boys bunked in one room, that’s two sets of bunk beds in one room. That bordered on child abuse. Then my dad and my grandfather set to work and added a couple rooms on the east end of the home place and we only had one set of bunk beds in each room.

And what about the car? We had one car, and that was dad’s company car. Those were pre-minivan days. Station wagons were coming onto the scene but we could never get his company to provide one of those. So whenever we went anywhere as a family it was four kids on the back seat and two adults and one kid on the front. Can you imagine the fighting that went on to get the front seat first?

And there was bath time. You are really going to think this was child abuse but we shared bath water. By that I mean, we filled the tub up once and we all took a bath in the same water, not all at the same time. We took turns. Sometimes the boys got in together. So whoever got ready first and in line first got the cleanest water. That was one way to get us moving toward the scrub zone. Showers, they came along in later years.

Sure, those were the good ole days, right. In a lot of ways they were so much more difficult than life today. We didn’t have all the modern conveniences of today. There was no fast food, drive thrus, cell phones, yard services, super stores, or even Saturday mail service. Al Gore hadn’t even invented the internet yet. Computers, in their beginning stages, were the size of houses. No way to put one on your desk top or lap. Highway departments didn’t rush to clear roads when hit by surprise winter storms. We just drove on the white stuff, packed it solid and slipped and slid on hard pack roads most of the winter. In a lot of ways those were the tough ole days.

But there were some things about those days that were good. In fact they were so good things would be much better today if we returned to some of them. For example, LIFE WAS SIMPLER. We didn’t have lives so full that there was no time to enjoy life, family or friends. Part of that was because there were not as many options to fill our lives with. The other part was that we knew more about what was important and we devoted more time to the important than the urgent.

I would argue that one of the best things we could do with our life today is make a determined effort to simplify. And I’m not saying this sarcastically, but many of us can’t because we’ve been sucked into the cultural vortex of busyness.  And we’re so busy, busy, busy, busy.  Some of you because you’re working so much to maintain your habit of buying things that you don’t need with money that you don’t have  to impress people you don’t even like, but that’s a whole another deal.  Or some of you, you’ve bought into the whole deal that, your kids should be pro athletes at the age of two, and you put them in…I don’t mean to meddle, but I already have, so I might as well keep going.  You put your two-year-old in a league and go all over for tournaments.  You know, you keep all the kids in so many activities and there’s no reason.  It’s obvious there’s no margin. 

So what do you do? You learn how to say “No.” Let me say it again, learn how to say “No.” We live marginless lives. And we will never discover life’s best until we decide that we cannot live without some margin in our life. Until then we will run ourselves ragged chasing all the things that we think make life worth living while all the time missing the best life has to offer.

Another thing that made the good ole days so good was that CONTENTMENT WAS ENJOYED MORE. There was not this obsession for more. There was not this unquenchable thirst to have the latest and best and coolest stuff out there. You had what you had and you enjoyed it and you used it until it could be used no more and you were content with it.

Today we pursue more stuff and stuff and stuff and stuff, and we do it in the name of loving our family.  “I want to provide this for my wife.  I want to provide this for my kids, and I want to give my kids more than I had as a kid,” and so many of us are providing all of this stuff, and our kids don’t even know us.  They don’t even know you, and you think, “If I had more, we’d have a happier marriage,” and you’re about to lose your marriage.

Here’s what you do.  You don’t get sucked in to what everybody else thinks you need, because you don’t need what everybody else says you need to really be fulfilled.  You don’t need it.  I mean, in the world we live in, if you don’t have this size house and this kind of SUV and this kind of TV, you can’t be happy.  What’s funny is that many of the things you think you need to be happy and many things that are consuming our lives are the very things that not only didn’t exist in the good ole days, they didn’t even exist five years ago. Seriously, the things you think you need, many of them did not even exist five years ago.  And yet, you can’t be happy without them. We need to learn the lesson of contentment.

One more thing about the good ole days was that CHURCH WAS MORE URGENT. In our house there was never a discussion on Saturday night as to whether or not we were going to church on Sunday morning. It was understood. End of discussion. And we loaded into that two-seater car, all seven of us, and drove twelve miles to church and were the first ones there.

There was never a discussion as to whether or not we were going to go to “youth meetings” on Sunday night. It was standard operating procedure. If we wanted to do something else on Sunday night it was after “youth meeting” was over.

Church was the center of the family life and God was far more than a swear word that was flippantly tossed around. Today our schedules are out of control. Schedules have pushed church and God to a position of leftovers. You think, “Well, I’d love to do more, but you know, I am so overwhelmed.  I’ve got so much going on.”  I mean, truthfully, some of you can only make it to church like once a month, because your life is so crazy and you’re working and the kids are everywhere and you think, “I’d like to do more, but I just don’t have any time.  I want to, but I don’t know how.  How can I do this?” Again, how about learning how to say “No” a little more and rearranging your life around the spiritual instead of the temporal. That means establishing church and God standards for your life and family and then forcing everything else to stand in line behind them. If you don’t you will become just another victim who has been sucked into the cultural vortex of business while yours and your family’s soul dries up and your desire for God gradually diminishes away.

The good ole days were tough in a lot of ways but they also contained some approaches to life that I believe we would be better off if we just decide to return to, which is not really possible. So meanwhile, why don’t we at least decide to intentionally incorporate a few of these values into our modern family? Then thirty years or so from now your family will be able to look back on this time in life and call it “the good ole days.”