Three Things that are true about YOU because of Easter!

5856756683_yes_its_true_tshirt_p235468792175613195b77an_400_answer_2_xlargeThree things that are true about YOU this Easter

I was looking at a post-it note this morning attempting to get a “Reminder” of what I need to do today. After the busy weekend, my mind seems to be on auto pilot…oops, that may not necessarily be true. Actually, my mind is on a leave of absence that I didn’t authorize. Truthfully, we need reminders. We simply cannot process and remember everything that bombards our minds day in a day out. In fact, I say THANK YOU JESUS for reminders.

I need reminders of the power of Easter. Why? Because we live more in a “Good Friday” world than an Easter world. We see suffering; we know confusion and fear; we find ourselves not understanding the world that is our reality in these trying days. Jesus on the cross only made sense in hindsight. Few, if any, understood exactly what that event would come to mean as they were experiencing it. It was only through the lens of the empty tomb that the cross made sense. Again, Easter makes your life and my life make sense. So here are a few reminders of the power of Jesus as He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Colossians 2:6-12
6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits[a] of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

Number One. You are already complete in Christ. If you’ve surrendered to Christ, you’re united with Christ, that means his fullness is your fullness. Period. It doesn’t matter that you don’t feel “full” in your experience. You don’t have to wait until you die to start living. Jesus’ resurrection is God’s final word and clear action of bring you completeness/fullness in Jesus! Now is the time to manifest your completeness in Christ. Now is the time to start being fully alive.

Number Two. Your sinful nature is already dead. If you’ve surrendered to Jesus, you’re united with Christ. When he died, you died. Period. It doesn’t matter that you don’t feel like your sinful nature is dead. It doesn’t matter that you’re still struggling with sin. Maybe right now you’re in a lot of bondage. If you’re surrendered to Christ, the truest thing about you is that your old nature is dead. And If you’re surrendered to Jesus, HIS righteousness is NOW yours! You are righteous. You are holy. That’s what salvation is all about. So you can go down the list. Whatever you are struggling with, tell yourself THAT IS DEAD! Because of Easter that your lust issue is dead. Because of Easter, that anger is dead. Because of Easter, that gossip problem? It’s dead. Because of Easter, Gluttony is dead! Because of Easter your cheating is dead. Your lying is dead. Your stealing is dead. Your racism is dead.

Number Three. All of this, is yours NOW! You’ve already got it. The only thing you lack is your awareness that you don’t lack anything. We all do the same thing – we search for stuff that we’ve already got. You’ve been caught in a bad dream that tells you that it’s not true, but I’m telling you it is true. So now is the time to start living out that truth. You’re united with Jesus. When he rose, you rose. Period. It’s that simple. It doesn’t matter that you don’t feel very resurrected. It doesn’t matter. Maybe you feel totally flat. Maybe you are in depression, in despair. Maybe you feel lifeless. I’m not writing this to ignore your feelings and experiences. They’re there and you have to address them and be honest with them. But at the same time, you’ve got to know, if you’re surrendered to Christ that’s not the truest thing about you. No, the truest thing about you is that you share in the resurrected life of Jesus Christ. Eternal life starts now. The life that you’ll be living throughout eternity, you already have it. Now is the time to start manifesting it. Now is the time to start celebrating it and living it. You have been raised with Christ and NEW LIFE starts now. He is Risen? He is risen indeed!

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New Normal for Jesus Followers – A Disciple knows and is able to share the Gospel

New Normal – Disciple knows and is able to share the Gospel

Do you know what an ELEVATOR PITCH is? It is a big sales strategy or tool.  Do you understand it and use it?

Elevator Pitch – An elevator pitch, elevator speech or elevator statement is a short summary used to quickly and simply define a process, product, service, organization, or event and its value proposition.

Well, if a Jesus follower, a disciple is a person who by VERY DEFINITION has been, “tranformationally impacted by the Gospel,” then the question is DO YOU AS A DISCIPLE KNOW THE GOSPEL? And if you know it, could you share it and/or give it as an elevator pitch?

There is a New Normal that I’ve been attempting to define in my own life and in my faith community’s journey.  One of the factors in this New Normal is this – Disciples know and are able to share the Gospel.

So, what I want to do in this article is two things:

1 – On the theological/biblical side of the coin, let me describe for you what the gospel is

2 – Then let me get more practical – GET YOU TO THE POINT WHERE YOU KNOW WHAT THE GOSPEL IS AND HOW TO SHARE IT.

The Gospel – originates from word, “euaggleon” – translated, “best” GOOD NEWS. What is the GOOD NEWS?”

1 – The biblical understanding of the Gospel has been lost:

  • Gospel is NOT doctrine, in other words, the Gospel is not just about our SIN and brokenness
  • It is not about a social or political system
  • It is not primarily about being spared from some sort of eternal hell
  • And it is most definitely not a guarantee about health or prosperity

It is surprising to me how many people I’ve asked about the gospel come back at me with either confusion, questions or simply crickets (silence).  So, it is imperative that we talk about this stuff…get it down because if the Gospel really is GOOD NEWS and it is supposed to revolutionize and transform a life, then we have to know what it is.

2 – To begin with, Jesus used a strange but insightful metaphor when describing the gospel. He talked about it like wine and wineskins (Matthew 9 and Mark 2).  Jesus compared the gospel to NEW wine that bursts old skins, in other words, the gospel, in many respects, is almost beyond explanation.  You can understand it but it is always MORE.  The OLD Wineskin had to do with the fact that the Jews expected and anticipated a Messiah who would reveal more of God’s kingdom and reign in people’s lives but they got, over time, a bit mixed up. The Old Testament story shows us how easy it is to confused the good news with stuff you have to do to get God’s attention and approval.  The Old Testament is also a story on how easy it is to confuse the good news with things like institutional compliance that focuses around things like priests and temples and religious rituals. That’s the old wineskin that Jesus points to when he says that the REAL good news will burst FROM once applied to the old. The NEW wine, what the gospel is, is not a thing, or an action, or – like I said, some sort of doctrine – what the gospel is, is a PERSON.  That person is Jesus.  The gospel is NOT a what but a who.  

The story of Jesus is a story of a life…teaching…miracles…relationships…a cross…an empty tomb.  That is a story NOT just about eternity.  The story of Jesus is about the MOVEMENT of God into human history, our history…your history and my history.  It wasn’t about just getting to heaven but rather how to have the power and presence of God give us an opportunity to live here ON earth with the joy and sense of purpose and fulfillment that God originally intended.

Let me put it this way…maybe it will make it clearer for you.   Imagine a picture of the universe.  No one would debate that the universe is HUGE.  For example, recently NASA had a satellite that made it to the planet Pluto.  Pluto is 3 billion miles from earth.  It took the satellite over 9 years to get there traveling 36,000 MPH.  And that’s just ONE planet in our solar system.  The Universe is HUGE.  Now, follow this logic – if Jesus claimed to be God, and we believe Jesus is God, this is a God we follow that put that universe together. That alone is amazing. So to think, or assume, that we can humanly try to sum up the action and love and presence of this God (who made the universe) into some simple phrase or book or doctrinal statement is a joke.  You see, just when we think we have Jesus figured out, we discover He’s more.  Friends, that’s the gospel.  Just when we think we have salvation all figured out, we realize that salvation isn’t what happens on OUR terms.  Our ideas of salvation are usually pretty narrow.  Salvation isn’t about performance…in other words, you and me justifiably and naturally look to do something to earn something – that’s the way the world works. But salvation, according to Jesus (the WHO of the good news) is bigger than that, salvation is a gift.  Salvation is something that has happened, is happening, and will happen.  Salvation has a past, present and future reality to it.

Jesus has taken care of our past.  Jesus calls us to follow him in the present and it is Jesus who will lead us to a faithful relationship with Him through eternity when he restores this whole mess of a world in and through His love.   One aspect of the Gospel is that Jesus WILL restore creation back to his original plan and vision.  Remember, any one part of all that I’ve mentioned is good news…but see, the REAL good news is more.

3 – Here are some of the things that are associated with Jesus – the reason HE is the gospel, the good news

  • A doctrine doesn’t heal our sin disease – Jesus does.
  • A doctrine can’t restore relationships – Jesus does.
  • A doctrine can’t produce a new humanity and restore within you and me God’s very image – Jesus does.
  • A doctrine can’t bring us into relationship with each other in to this miraculous entity called the Body of Christ – but Jesus can.
  • A doctrine can’t protect us from a world power of evil – but Jesus can and does as He reigns and the Kingdom of God reigns in our lives.

Again the gospel is always ON THE MOVE.  It is not in a book, theological treatise or system.  The Gospel is a WHO, a person and that is Jesus.  And in terms of being saved, we have been saved, we are being saved and we will be saved, not a single decision, it is an act of God.  Jesus always takes the first step to bring us new life, a new way of life, and a new normal.  For we don’t just know the gospel but we LIVE the Gospel!

Take a gander at this:

  1. The good news is that Jesus is the Christ (Acts 5:42).
  2. The good news is about Jesus (Acts 8:35).
  3. The good news is one of peace through Jesus, who is Lord of all (Acts 10:36).
  4. The good news about the Lord Jesus (Acts 11:20).
  5. The good news is that God has fulfilled His promise by raising Jesus from the dead (Acts 13:32).
  6. The good news is about Jesus and the resurrection (Acts 17:18).
  7. The good news concerns God’s Son, who also was man, raised from the dead (Romans 1:1-4; 2 Tim. 2:8) – that’s Jesus.
  8. The good news is that of Christ (Romans 15:19; 1 Corinthians 9:14).
  9. The good news is that which has to do with the cross of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:17).
  10. The good news is of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4).
  11. The good news is of your salvation, the word of truth (Ephesians 1:13).
  12. The good news is of the unsearchable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8).
  13. The good news is about the hope that is reserved for you in heaven (Colossians 1:5).

Most good understandings of the gospel require the following elements to be present:

1. The creation story: humans as made in the image of God – Jesus did that!

2. The fall story: humans as cracked or broken – word we use is fallen – but Jesus does something about that in his life, death and resurrection and continual presence.

3. The story of God with his people: Israel’s history and the Church’s history – which of course, Jesus instituted

4. The Cross: where the story of God’s work finds its focus – Jesus did that!

5. The Resurrection: where the story of God’s work is unleashed with power – who was involved in the resurrection…you got it, Jesus!

6. Pentecost: where the story of God’s work is spiritually empowered – who makes that happen, Jesus does…he promised it and made it happen…it is HIS spirit that brings life to the soon to be called, Jesus movement In other words, again…the gospel is what God does in Jesus Christ.

And the gospel, Jesus DOES things in you and me. accomplishes the following: the gospel work of God absorbs suffering, pain and death; it wipes away sinfulness by forgiving, restoring, enabling, and empowering; and it provides an alternative community where systemic evil comes to an end. The Gospel is mot just about creation…not just about the fall and sin…not just about Good Friday…not even just about Easter…The gospel is Jesus – always will be!

4. One more thing – In many churches, the good news has subtly changed into good advice: here’s how to live. In other words, while some Christian teachers have exchanged good news for good advice, others have preserved the gospel as news, but they are telling a different story from what the New Testament authors meant by good news. Here’s the backstory:

Starting with Octavian, the Roman emperors regularly used the words “good news” to describe both what they had already achieved and what life they promised as a consequence. When the early Christians used this language, they used it in a similar way. Something had happened because of which everything was now different. Something would happen that would complete this initial victory (like Octavian returning to Rome and setting up his court). As a result, the present moment was new and different. This good news transformed people’s lives. It was bound to. So despite all the NEW Testament talk about God, those early followers of Jesus were not telling people about a new religious system. They were not urging people to adopt a new type of morality. They weren’t offering a new philosophy.  They were not giving people a theory about the world, how it worked, how we could know things, how we should behave.

Christianity is not a religion, a moral system, a philosophy or advice. Christianity is, simply, good news about Jesus! It is the news that something has happened as a result Jesus and because of that the world is a different place THE good news, this royal announcement is about Jesus.

NOW to the practical side – in other words, what is the NEW NORMAL for us as disciples, Jesus followers? Here’s what I’ve learned about what it means to live a new normal. The OLD normal, in terms of the gospel, is to memorize a presentation (whether it was a Law/Gospel presentation, four spiritual laws, bunch of bible passages). That’s why many people don’t share Jesus…they feel inadequate because they don’t remember enough, forget bible verses, or feel that they can’t answer questions if the conversation turns to theological discussion.  Here’s my experience now – people care about what you care about.  If you care about them…if there is a relational connection…a relationship…people are willing to listen NOT as you preach at them but as you introduce a person to them and that person is Jesus. There is a GREAT book, Speaking of Jesus by Carl Medearis– in fact, if I had the $$ I would buy everyone of you readers a copy! It is that good!

Here’s Carl’s thesis in a nutshell: When we are talking about the Gospel – we get all screwed up.  Too often we try to win allies to a point of view rather than pointing SIMPLY to Jesus.  We get prepared for arguments because we all know that people have different perspectives then we do.  We exercise our tongues and our brains a lot to get ready for those situations. We fervently and (hopefully) brush up on our proofs for God, or bible verses (kung fu, what we used to call, “sword drills” back in the day) because we want to intelligently refute arguments. We get ready to show our mettle and to prove ourselves The problem with that – is that the ONE THING WE prove when we do is that it is more important to me to win an argument than to be like Jesus.   Jesus—compassionate and loving. Jesus was Kind and patient. Now, years of trying to share THE “GOOD NEWS” broke the spine of the things I thought were important. In other words, You can only bang your head against a concrete wall for so long before it occurs to you, “It would hurt a lot less if I’d quit doing this.”  I am not sad to say that I did learn some things to share like any good “missionary.” And I am grateful for the lessons I learned in times of ignorance. But like many others, I discovered…Carl discovered what a lot of us intuitively know…we have learned loads about stuff about Jesus but we haven’t learned how to share the simple truth of what we really know…we really know Jesus…he’s the good news!  You cannot force-feed another person your perspective and expect it to stay down. Carl writes this…as somebody once told me, “You have to realize every person is an I.” Each individual has his/her own makeup. There is no way to download your beliefs into somebody else hoping they will take. No person, anywhere in the world, has a brain-port open to receive a personality change. There are only people like you and me. People with full brains and empty hearts. People who need Jesus, not a massive array of doctrine, polemics, and theology lessons. People who need a relationship. People who need to belong before they can believe. We can only do one of two things:

  • A – Give them Jesus or
  • B – Give them wasted sewage.

We can either point the way to the Way or confuse them with a load of things that will never feed their need for God. There is a place for doctrines and dogma and science and history and apologetics, but these things are not Jesus—they are humanly manufactured attempts to make people think having the right ideas is the same thing as loving and following Jesus.

Very Helpful Video on Understanding Leukemia!

I ran into the video this weekend and thought I would share it across our network of family and friends.  People often look at me with a bit of confusion about the nature of cancer as it manifests itself in Leukemia.  This TEDEd video explains Leukemia simply and profoundly.  In fact, if you and your family are joining us in praying for Abby, this video is VERY helpful and NOT scary for kids to watch.  You as a parent can explain to your children that THIS is what Abby is fighting.  VERY VERY VERY helpful to put information on something for which we are praying!  I found this VERY HELPFUL video on information of what Leukemia is and how the Bone Marrow Transplant works!  The absolute miracle, mentioned at the end of the video, is how vital it is that Lily and Anna are a “match” to Abby! One of the sisters will be Abby’s transplant donor!  Good information!

New Day and “Prayer time” for our family!

We have so many things going on in the broader Dugall clan. Starting with the youngest, Aaron and Rachel are awaiting the birth of their first child (a girl!) in July.  Chaya and Kelly are so blessed with little Hadley and our Special K!  Mya continues to grow…and then there is our daughter, Tiffany and her family.  Our eldest granddaughter is battling Leukemia again.  She was pronounced “healed” when she was six years old after a three year battle. But after a series of events (which I will not attempt to summarize), Abby’s Leukemia has reemerged.  She has finished four rounds of chemotherapy and is moving quickly towards Bone Marrow Transplant protocol in April.  For us, as you can imagine, there are demands and desires…we want so much to walk in life with all our children and six (soon to be seven) precious grandgirls.  Our lives in terms of free time is spent on the road, in airplanes heading to either Phoenix, Boise or Ft. Collins.  That encompasses our desires…but now with Abby’s illness, our time and energy and spirit is “demanded”…we feel the urge, leading and loving necessity to be fully present in Abby’s life and our daughter’s family’s life as they navigate these troubled waters.  We do so in GREAT faith and confidence in God’s loving, gracious and healing presence.  Even so, these days are not lived without “demand”…our time, energy and sacrifice.  Vicky heads to Boise today to visit Hadley, Kae, Chaya, Kelly and Mya…then she flies to Colorado beginning next week for a period of time that may not end until June.  As a married couple, we feel strong and confident in our relationship and our ability to partner with our families through life’s challenges even if that means we have to be separated by miles for a time.  I’ll be joining Vicky in the middle of April for the Bone Marrow Transplant journey.  In that time, Vicky might be flying for a day to Phoenix for a baby shower for the Dugalls in Phoenix and I’ll be flying back and forth from Seattle to lead worship, speak and teach at our faith community in Monroe, Washington.  When I arrive in the middle of April in Ft. Collins, I’ll be able to continue my online teaching while I spend time with the Schreibers in whatever way they choose to use my time best…whether that is at the hospital with Abby or at home with Anna and Lily doing homework, school, and living as normal of life as possible.

I humbly ask for your prayers.  We have set up a GoFundme page for Abby if you feel led by the Spirit of God to join our journey in a financial way…even so, it is your faith, love, and friendship and partnership across the miles that we covet the most!  What makes our lives so blessed is that we know that we see Jesus in all of you…we hear from Jesus in your emails, calls and texts.  We sense Jesus’ presence when you give us a hug.  We feel enveloped by Jesus by the spirit of our friendship despite the miles that separate us.  So, again thank you for joining our journey in prayer and heart!

As promised, a POST “Young Messiah” post

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I mentioned this film last week and I said, explicitly, DON’T be afraid to see this movie!  Of course, you would imagine that I would take my own advice.  I was excited to see this movie not only because I enjoyed Anne Rice’s novels but I believe an “exploration” into the self-awareness of Jesus is a worthy topic.  Truthfully, I was not disappointed.  The film was reverent, solemn, and respectful.  Yes, Jesus was a white kid…in fact, Jesus’ whole family and most of the characters were NOT middle eastern.  Truthfully, I wish the filmmakers would have done something about that…it would have made the film that much better.  Besides that glaring reality, the film was excellent.  It stayed true to the novel and did NOT succumb to “cheap film effects” to bring about the early miracles of Jesus.  There were no dramatic winds, or bright lights, or other film effects that usually bring a fair amount of “cheesiness” to this genre.  Jesus’ young life is explored in the context of a strong and loving family unit.  That cultural issues of family, hierarchy, religious training and adherence, travel, Roman presence, kingly madness, etc. were all accurately portrayed.  As a result, the film has a real “first century” feel to it.  Jesus was likable.  He was kind, gentle, sensitive, obviously God-honoring and a lover of his family.  He was also portrayed as a child…sometimes mischievous and ever curious.  Again, something I think is true to the text of the New Testament in terms of the reality of the human experience of Messiah.  I loved Jesus-Mary relationship as well as the family dynamics as presented in the film.  Yes friends, you will not find these stories in the bible.  That’s why it is important to know that this movie IS a “fiction story.”  We do have ancient texts that tell these stories but they were not included in the canon.  For me there is an easy explanation (besides the fact that many of these texts were deemed to be based in Gnostic teachings), Jesus was a normal child in a normal family.  There wasn’t anything SO extraordinary about him that people would purposely want to recall his childhood experiences.  Luke 2:52 says it well, “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, in favor with God and people.”  Simple and to the point.  The temple scene in the movie has a bit of a “12 year old Jesus in the temple” vibe to it (which, I think, was a fair scene to include) and there are a few “flashbacks” to the stories that are told in the gospels, but all in all, the movie stands on its own as it attempts to share a perspective on young Jesus’ life.  All in all, as I said, I liked the movie and encourage you to see it!  Really…it will get you thinking.

Living in a Post-Denominational World – thanks again Karl!

Oh!yeah!I didn't write this article but I'm glad I read it and can pass it on.  I couldn't agree more with essential premise, that we live in a post-denominational world.  There isn't a week that goes by where I don't have some conversation with someone about the significance or insignificance of denominational Christianity.  As a "denominational" Christian I can agree with Karl (below) that we have very valuable contributions to our understanding of faith due to denominational emphases.  So, to trash denominations would be to deny the reality that God has used the to be "care-takers" of aspects of the faith journey that the entire Body of Christ needs to embrace.  For every Lutheran Christian who has a deep understanding of grace and sacramental theology, our more "experiential" brothers and sisters reveal the transformational nature of the Spirit's inhabitation in our hearts.  My Roman Catholic friends have opened my eyes to a rich tradition of prayer and contemplation and my Wesleyan pals (at Azusa Pacific University where I am honored to be a part of the faculty) have expanded my understanding of spiritual authority by introducing me to the Wesleyan Quadrilateral (yep, look it up!).  So, don't misunderstand me (or the author for that matter).  Yet…or even so, I believe that the Spirit of God is up to a number of things in the 21st century and one of the MOST powerful is the traditional boundaries that have not only separated Christians and robbed them from experiencing a "fuller faith," but also knocking down the "white noise" of denominationalism in a culture and world that "doesn't care" about differentiations and has actually led to mockery, confusion and ridicule of the "unity" of the Church.  As Karl says below, DISCIPLESHIP is the key to ministry in the 21st century.  Pointing to Jesus? Doesn't that seem like a NO-Brainer?

Jesus Called Us to Make Disciples, Not Baptists (or Catholics, or Lutherans, or…by Karl Vaters March 2, 2016

The world doesn’t need more Episcopalians.

No one wakes up with a hunger to be a Methodist.

No child says "I want to be Assemblies of God when I grow up."

We live in a post-denominational world. The day of being Presbyterian because we grew up Presbyterian is ending. Actually, it’s already ended. Some of us just haven’t caught up with it yet.

People who don't go to church aren't longing to wear any of the labels church people wear so proudly and fight about so angrily. And they shouldn’t.

People who don't go to church aren't longing to wear any of the labels church people wear so proudly.

Our neighbors and co-workers have no desire to be Calvinist or Arminian, Pentecostal or Cessationist, Evangelical or Orthodox. They probably don’t know what most of those words even mean.

And they certainly don’t want to be pew-warmers, giving units, or a target demographic. In fact, when they discover that church leaders sometimes refer to them that way, they’re appalled. And rightly so.

But they all have an ache to draw closer to Jesus. Even if they don't realize it. Yet.

Keep Pointing to Jesus

When believers emphasize our differences and our labels, we add another level of distance between Jesus and the people he loves.

It’s not that denominations and theological identifiers are wrong. I wear several myself. But I only use them with other Christians, and only as a conversational shortcut. Never with unbelievers, and never to create distance between myself and other believers.

What to Do With Denominations

I don't want to blow up our denominations. And I don’t think we need to water down our distinctives. In fact, I work with a lot of denominations and I love the variety they bring to the kingdom of God.

To the degree that denominations draw people to Jesus, they deserve to exist – and they will thrive. To the degree they fail to do that, they don't deserve to exist – and they will die.

The moment our desire to convince people to join our denomination (or non-denominational church) becomes more important than making disciples, we have failed.

As long as our goal is making disciples, God can still use the resources, relationships and history of our denominations, movements and independent churches to do his will.

So join a denomination if that works for you. And support it enthusiastically. Or not.

Just keep Jesus first.

(For more on this topic, check out Are We More Invested In Bringing People to Church? Or to Jesus?)

Don’t be afraid of The Young Messiah movie…

1messiah_1sht_3k_rgbYes, the Young Messiah film opens this week and YES, it includes material that is NOT in the gospels of the bible.  As many of you know, we actually have very little material in the four gospels regarding Jesus' growing up years.  We see him in Matthew and Luke…we see the birth, Magi visitation, shepherds surrounding the scene as well as Jesus in the temple at age 12.  THEN, we have this ONE VERSE in Luke that simply says, "Jesus grew up" (Luke 2:52).  The Young Messiah film is based upon Anne Rice's WONDERFULLY written and lovingly treated story of Jesus' childhood years entitled, Christ the Lord.  Truthfully, I loved that book.  In addition, Anne takes the reader through HER process of attaining the information on which she based her NOVEL.  Remember that…this is a NOVEL.  It does NOT claim to the scripture…it is a story that has been taken from traditions that have been passed down to us primarily through the gospels that did NOT get included in the New Testament canon.  You an read about what many call, "The Gnostic gospels" or the New Testament Apocrypha here.   You can also read what one biblical scholar says about those gospels HERE (article published in response to the Da Vinci code book/movie by Ben Witherington).  

My goal in this short post is NOT to give you a summary of the source material for this movie.  Rather, it is a simple request (for those of you who are Jesus followers) to NOT be afraid to see this movie and enjoy it.  I haven't seen it yet but, like I said above, it is based on a book that I very much enjoyed.  The stories of Jesus' early life are diverse…based upon oral traditions, post 1st century writings, as well as speculation or imaginative readings of the texts we do possess.  The point is this – no one really knows how Jesus became "self aware"…in other words, when did he really know (and begin acting) on his divinity?  When did he know that he was different than other children and begin the "wrestling" or emotional/psychological processing of his "dual nature?"  Do you know that it took centuries for Christians to come to some agreement on the dual nature of Jesus.  THAT story is a story that would be fun to explore in and of itself.  Phillip Jenkins wrote a fascinating book on that…check that out here!   No one had ever tried to not only understand and comprehend but also communicate what Jesus' essential nature was all about…orthodox Jesus followers believe Jesus was 100% human and 100% divine.  How Christians embraced that conclusion is a "wild and wooly" chapter in history that would be worth your while to research.

In the meantime, DO NOT be afraid of The Young Messiah.  I have heard it captures first century living accurately.  I have heard that it handles the subject of Jesus as a child sensitively and reverently.  I have heard that even those who might be seen to be on the more "conservative" spectrum of biblical analysis enjoyed it.  So, enter the film with an open mind.  Remember, this is a story that explores what a chapter of Jesus' life in which we have little information.  It poses questions that will, most likely, get your thinking.  One more thing I've heard…is that people who have seen the movie emerged from the experience with more joy and peace than they brought into the theater.  As one person who recently viewed the RISEN movie twice, if that is the case, then see this movie!  There is nothing better than walking out of a theater with praise and thanksgiving in your heart and a surge of curiosity that will take you back to the Bible for further reading of the one you follow and love!