Stupidity does not equal humilty

Today is the Monday after Thanksgiving break… not too happy to be back at school.  In two weeks I’ll be home for Christmas break — praise the Lord.  This is going to be the busiest two weeks of the semester — got a couple huge tests and a couple of important papers to write.  Thanksgiving break was a great time of hanging out with friends and family, I am very thankful for my five-ish days of rest.

Christmas music began playing on Chris Martin’s iPod on Friday.  I love the month-or-so amount of time I give myself yearly to listen to the festive tones of Bing Crosby, The Vince Guaraldi Trio, and the amazing Polar Express soundtrack.  A couple additions art being made to my Christmas Music playlist this year.  One addition is Peppermint Winter by Owl City.  A few people with whom I have shared this song claim that it’s ok, but it just sounds like the rest of his stuff.  I suppose I can agree, but I think the song is pretty well done for a self-made Christmas song.  Writing new Christmas songs has to be incredibly difficult.

Another song that will be added to my Christmas Music playlist come December first is Coldplay’s Christmas Lights.  Again, not a classic Christmas song, though I do have a Chris Martin version of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas which is phenomenal, but from the little preview Chris gave on 60 minutes a couple of years ago, I have high hopes for what is to come in the next couple of days, and I’m not sure I could be disappointed.

I had an interesting thought this morning.  I was sitting outside my Art gen. ed. classroom before it started today, and as someone was coming out of the classroom from the previous class, I heard her say, “I think I’ll have to write it on my forehead or something, I’m so terrible at remembering things, I always forget.”  And the girl with her promptly replied, “Yeah me too!”

This got me thinking about something that I have often grappled with:  Why do people like to talk about how they’re dumb or ignorant?  I have never heard someone say that they are good at remembering things or say they are smart, or ever say much good about themselves.  Is it wrong to know and acknowledge what you’re good at?  I’m not saying flaunting our talents is good, but do we always have to be dumb?  I have always wondered why it’s so cool to be dumb or forgetful or the like.  It has never made sense to me.  But, I think I may have found one of the reasons today as I thought about it.

There is a warped view of thought that says, “If I look dumb, that makes me humble.  And the Bible says humility is good.  So, naturally, I’ll make myself look dumb, and therefore humble, and I’ll look like a good Christian.”  Which, in all actuality, is doing the opposite of making you humble, it is actually further inflating your pride because you are looking humble for those around you and not to give glory to God.  Humility is to be practiced to become more like Christ, not to be seen as a good-natured, humble person.  If you are “humble,” or just really like degrading yourself, and you are not doing so for the glory of God, you’re simply attracting attention to yourself and ultimately fulfilling your own, self-seeking, self-glorifying needs.

Am I saying that everyone who says that they aren’t good at something or the like is a shallow, “un-humble” attention hog?  No, I’m not (but they probably are without really realizing it).  I think there’s something to be said for not degrading ourselves all the time.  God made us in his image, we have redeeming qualities, that we did not earn, but no less have, and I don’t see a problem with encouraging others through the use of such qualities.

A challenge I have for you is to encourage someone this week with how God has gifted you, and talk to someone about how God has blessed you with a certain quality or talent.

It’s ok to acknowledge that you have worth.  Humility does not equal self-degradation.  Humility = knowing who I am in light of who God is.  Please, this week, share with someone how God has gifted you, don’t talk about how much you suck.  Just make sure to give the credit for your talents or qualities to God.

Be well. Glorify God.

-Chris

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The Jesus Juke and its close relatives

Recently, I have discovered a gem of a blogger.  His name is Jon Acuff.  Acuff writes a blog called Stuff Christians Like (based off of the site Stuff White People Like).  Acuff is one of the funniest Christian “comedians” I have yet to hear… or read, rather.  You may notice I put the word “comedians” in quotes–I did that because I hesitate to call him a comedian.  When I hear the word comedian I think of something like this.  Acuff isn’t some goofy one-line-spewing overweight goofball that has a couple of cute imitations.  Acuff writes pure gold on his blog, which he updates daily (much more often than I or anyone else does on here).  He also has written one book, titled the same as his blog Stuff Christians Like, and is releasing another book in a week called, Gazelles, Baby Steps and 37 Other Things Dave Ramsey Taught Me About Debt (he does a lot of work with the Christian financial guru Dave Ramsey).

One day a, he does what’s called “Serious Wednesday.”  Serious Wednesday is always a worthwhile read.  Normally, Acuff’s entries are 90% funny with 10% seriousness and things to be learned.  But on Wednesdays, his posts are 90% serious and wisdom-bearing, while 10% of his entry has comedic value (those percentages are purely random).

While I have never been disappointed when I read his blog every morning, one of his newest posts is my favorite so far.

The Jesus Juke– An entry posted not even a week ago has to be my favorite musing yet by Acuff.  He wrote on the phenomena that exists within Christian circles that he dubbed “the Jesus Juke.”  The Jesus Juke occurs when a well-meaning, lighthearted Christian conversation is going on, and is quickly redirected by a deep, holy statement.  The example Acuff uses is this:  he posted a funny tweet about a crazy-huge bodybuilder guy doing pushups in the middle of an airport terminal, and how devoted this guy must be to his muscular voracity.  Someone tweeted back saying something to the effect of how well-off we would be if we were that devoted to our finances or quiet times.  That whole conversation (or… tweet-a-sation..?) got JESUS JUKED!

This got me thinking of other, maybe, long-lost cousins of the Jesus Juke maneuver.

1.  The Prayer Pounce- You’re opening up to a friend about a life crisis or some other struggle you may be enduring, and all they really need to do is listen, and they’re doing it well.  But then, as you continue to explain your crisis, the listening friend suddenly breaks out in prayer.  Boom!  Shot-down!  Sure, buddy, I love that you’re praying for me, but really, wait until I’m done talking.

2.  The Scripture Smackdown- You’ve just wronged a friend.  After five days of enduring a good ‘ol Holy Spirit Haunting, you have finally decided to go apologize for the wrong you by which you have so wrongdoingly wronged them.  You arrive at their house, sit down in a surprisingly warm house, and wipe sweat off of your brow.  You begin to apologize for your mistake and after they so gracious let you finish, as opposed to the prayer pouncer, they begin their supposed forgiving monologue with “Well, even though 2 Peter 1:7 says that you need to supplement your godliness with brotherly affection, I can forgive you as Jesus says to do in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:14.”  Okay man, look, I know I have wronged God, as well as you, but I am coming to you because I have already repented for the sin I’ve committed against God all right?  I know I wronged him, I’ve repented, we need not review that, but can you just talk to me yourself so we can work this out?

3.  The Theology Thump- You’re in small group, and you’re sharing what God has been doing in your life lately and what you have been learning in your quiet times.  You tell the group how much God has been revealing to you through his word and you decide to share some of the passages you have been studying and how they have impacted your walk with Christ recently.  Then, outta nowhere comes a Calvin nerd to thump the thoughts you were sharing about your doubts on the sovereignty of God.  Another guy in your small group chucks Luther’s 95 theses at you as you’re trying to finish your though about your recent conversion from the Catholic church.  I’m all for theology, but sometimes, people need to be loved before they need to be taught.

Those are just a few of the close-relatives I can come up with to the Jesus Juke.  Can you think of any others?

-Chris

Children's Curriculum

So for those of you who don’t know me too well, I have begun writing a six-year comprehensive children’s curriculum (K-5th).  It’s called, for now, Kids4Christ.  I am working on the curriculum, it’s going to take a while to write six years of elementary school curriculum…

But, I have my author’s note/overarching mission statement for the ministry written, and I thought I would share it with you.  In addition to the following note, I am currently in the middle of writing mission statements for each grade.  I’m sure I will be sharing more with you as I continue writing.  Let me know what you think!

Also, follow @k4c_ministries on Twitter to get updates on what’s going on at Kids4Christ!

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Kids4Christ Author’s Statement

Dear Reader,

My name is Chris Martin.  I grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and I currently attend Taylor University in Upland, Indiana.  In the summer of 2010, my youth pastor suggested to me that I consider children’s ministry as a possible vocation down the road.  I took this somewhat casual suggestion and ran away with it (I tend to throw myself into whatever it is that I’m pursuing).  In the fall of 2010, I began writing curriculum for a children’s ministry at a local church on a week-by-week basis.  Around Thanksgiving of 2010, I decided to start writing my own children’s curriculum.  Being in college, I kind of designed the program like a college curriculum, with certain classes for each age group.

Kids4Christ is my attempt at Gospel-centered, Biblically-based children’s curriculum.  Too often in children’s ministries today, kids are being taught a form of “moralistic deism.”  All through elementary school, they are taught to do what God says so he’ll love them.  What often results from such teaching is a belief that if we do what God says he will bless us—a works-based faith.  If we are taught to behave so God will love us, we take our walk with Christ into our own hands, and all faith disappears when life doesn’t work how we think it should.

The point of the Gospel is very different from that.  The point of the Gospel is that we can’t do it on our own.  My goal is to teach children that in order to be followers of Christ, they need to have faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ and know that they can’t do anything of worth in the eyes of God without the power of the Holy Spirit.

My program is set up for how I, in my very little knowledge, think children may most easily and completely learn the Gospel and redemptive story of Jesus Christ (meta-narrative) throughout the Bible.  A child can jump in the program at any time; for example, the second grade course is not a prerequisite for the third grade course.  However, if a child was to go through all six years of the program, I think the way I have arranged the courses is the most efficient in teaching them the basics of the Gospel and the nature of the God we serve.  I try to start with some more narrative books (Genesis, Matthew) and work up to more philosophical and doctrinal books (Romans, Job).

I believe the fifth grade school-year course is the most important course of the entire program.  “Discovering the Gospel” is a comprehensive course that is focused on taking everything the children have learned and showing them how it all relates to the Gospel.  This process will be done in each individual class, however I saw it necessary to have a sort of “capstone” class (again with the college theme), encompassing all the students have learned and showing them how it all ties together in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Various books of the Bible will be studied and referenced.  I realize that nowhere in my program is there a study of a prophet—“Discovering the Gospel” will use various books of prophecy to show that God had a plan the whole time.

I hope that this note has helped you understand the mission of Kids4Christ and what we’re all about.  I hope that children are touched by how you use this material, and my prayer is that no curriculum will ever replace Scripture in the Sunday School classroom—no matter how Biblically-based it may be.

Be well, give God the glory, and educate children about who God is and what it means for them.

-Chris Martin

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Hope you enjoyed it!

-Chris