Why I Believe in Magic.

What if everyone in the world is born with invisible scales covering their eyes? What if these scales cause us to live in a shadow of the real world without ever seeing what’s truly there? What if the real world is far more magical, fantastical and dangerous than we’ve ever imagined? And what if, in the real world, a battle rages between light and darkness and we are meant to play a pivotal role in ending this battle? This is the premise of the new Jack Staples trilogy – written by New York Times Bestseller, Mark Batterson and myself.

Jack Staples and the Ring of Time (Cover by Duncan Stewart)

This young adult fantasy series (ages 8 and up) takes the reader on an adventure filled journey that’s fraught with danger and riddled with mystery.

Writing this series with Mark was such an incredibly fun experience. We talked often of the idea that life is far more fantastical than most people imagine. As a Christian I find it impossible not to love fantasy. The bible reads like a brilliant work of fantasy. In fact, the inception of the Jack Staples trilogy was taken from the bible. In the book of Acts, chapter nine, verse eighteen it reads, “Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized.” As a kid this verse captured my imagination. This guy, Saul of Tarsus was going about killing Christians. Then these invisible scales fall from his eyes and suddenly he decides to become a Christian. His new eyes saw the world as it truly is.

Jack staples and the City of Shadows (Cover by Duncan Stewart)

The world is a magical place. It’s filled to the brim with magic. There’s not a single aspect or moment of life that isn’t wrapped in magic. If it makes you feel more comfortable to replace the word magic with supernatural, then go for it. But for me, magic is a far better word. Theologians have tried to boil down the supernatural into something we can understand. But the best magic can’t be explained. I like magicians – scratch that, I love magicians because they stretch my imagination and add to the wonder of my day. But when I say magic, I’m not talking about a really great trick, but the truly unexplainable.

Jack Staples and the Poet's Storm (Cover by Duncan Stewart)

The galaxy exists through magic. God’s hand and breath formed it, but if that’s not magic, then I don’t know what is. The stars shine in the heavens through magic. The world was formed and the oceans separated from the land through magic. There’s a great account of it happening in Genesis, but that’s just an explanation of the events. How the events occurred is nothing but the most fantastical magic.

If you are a Christian and don’t read fantasy or at least spend time reading brilliant works of fiction, I believe you are missing an important part of what it means to be a Christian. If you are not a Christian and you don’t read fantasy or fiction, I believe you are missing a key part of what it means to be human. If you walk through your days and don’t wonder at the magic of the world, then your imagination needs to be expanded. If you are overly cynical, bored or discontent, you should probably do something to awaken your imagination. Go out and experience the unbelievable wonder of our world. Go and create something of great beauty. Commit an act of sacrificial love. And then go and read a brilliant fantasy series. Let your mind be blown. Because all of these things will stretch your imagination, and without a vivid imagination we will never truly find God. Without a wild imagination we’ll only find religion.

The Adventures of Princess Juno: Episode 7 “the sidekick”

With the last episode of Breaking Bad airing only weeks ago and Downton Abbey season 4 falling flat, where are the fans to turn?

The Walking Dead?           Please.


What about The Adventures of Princess Juno? This series has more twists than Inception and even Walter White would have to step carefully in this story. With the release of Episode 7: the sidekick, The Adventures of Princess Juno takes a turn that will blow your mind.

In a recent interview with Empire Magazine, Juno Jehan said,“I was astounded when I read the script. It was dark and brooding and then it turned into something totally unexpected, something beautiful.”

“The director (Clark) is taking a big leap of faith with this one, but I think it’ll pay off. Our fans aren’t as fickle as the fans of Heroes or Prison Break. This isn’t a two season splash in the pan. We’re playing the long game here and Clark is pulling out all the stops.”

SPOILER ALERT: In episode 7 the fans of the series will get to reconnect with one of their favorite characters. It is “Dogfather” who sends the young princess on her mission. Episode 7 also foreshadows the coming of a new integral character being introduced into the series.

 

Milk and Meat

A little while back I received a call from my good friend and pastor, Mark Batterson. Our church, National Community Church was in gearing up for a series titled “Voices” and Mark wanted to know if I would be interested in finishing off the series.

What a silly question. Of course I was interested! What an amazing opportunity to tell stories at my home church. I immediately said “yes” and asked God what he wanted me to share. It was an easy question really. I’ve had one message over the past few years that has defined me. “More”. It’s the idea that there is so much more to life than we are living now. There is so much more available in our relationship with God and with each other. There is so much more adventure and beauty and romance and love.

More.

We have access to the creator of all things and so often we are happy with crumbs.

More.

There is intimacy and beauty and life altering experiences awaiting us. There are miracles and relationships and daring feats waiting to be accomplished.

More.

I don’t focus on “My relationship with God” when I talk of these things. I think it’s silly to do so. It is all my relationship with God. When I chose to follow him everything became an opportunity to get to know him more. There is no sacred and secular in my life, there is only sacred. When I jump off a crane or make a documentary or write a book or go to McDonalds I am living to the fullness of my potential so long as I am inviting God into the midst of it.

More. Every moment is bursting with opportunity for the miraculous.

You can check out the stories I told at NCC at the link below.

 

Historic Moments with Juno Jehan

Juno’s fans have waited long enough. We are excited to present episode 6 of The Adventures of Princess Juno. You may view the rest of the episodes HERE!

Ever wonder about who invented the Amish or how World War 2 really ended? If so, you  need to watch this.

 

ALLUME

On October 25 and 26 I will be speaking at Allume, a brilliant conference for women. I have been thinking a little around what I might say and I came up with the title,

“Everything is Spiritual: quit trying so hard to be miserable.”

Below is a small glimpse into the backdrop of my session. Don’t worry; I don’t plan to preach at the conference, I am a terrible preacher. I am a storyteller and my mom thinks I’m funny so I also try to use a little humor when I talk… you know, for mom. However, to set the stage, I do preach a little below.

For generations Christianity has been painted with the brush of bible verses like, “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23), or “O LORD, see how my enemies persecute me! Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death,” (Psalm 9:13), or “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. (Matthew 24:9) . . . and many more.

These verses paint a picture that”s pretty miserable. And what’s strange about them is that the Christian world seems to have taken them both as a badge of pride and as the A, B, C’s of Christianity. I am not saying there is anything wrong with the verses, I am simply saying they aren’t the standard we”re meant to strive for.

Growing up, I saw Christianity like this (Think US ARMY commercial)

We are the hard-core few who have chosen a life of death to self every day, so that we can “attain the prize”. We are those who understand what it means to give up everything for the sake of the call. We will sacrifice and be persecuted and we will turn the other cheek and we will work hard our whole lives, giving of ourselves so that the love and beauty of Jesus can be seen through us.

WHAT?

There is a reason the Army writes commercials like this, because everyone wants to be a part of the elite few. Deep down we all want to be more hard-core and willing to stand up for what we believe… even unto death.

But the verses I mentioned are not the brush with which we are meant to paint our lives. The bible is full of stories of men, women and children who lived lives of adventure, filled with miracles, joy and incredible beauty. Most of the stories in the bible are

stories of wonder where God breaks through and the broken are healed and the lonely are placed in families and the unloved experience transformational love and the homeless find a home and the tormented find peace…

And those doing the loving and the transforming and the breaking through are in no way miserable, they are living lives up absolute wonder and fulfillment. And most of those doing the loving are not pastors or missionaries, but shepherds, tax collectors, prostitutes, fishermen…etc.

I think two of the most over used and wrongly used words in the Christian world are “persecution” and “sacrifice”. I’ve often heard Christians brag about being “persecuted” for their beliefs when really all that has happened is that they have experienced some form of personal rejection. And it makes sense. We hold up being persecuted as the apex of what it means to live for Christ. But Jesus didn’t want the cross; he endured it. And the disciples didn’t want to be martyred.

I fully believe that if the disciples had lived like many of us do today, they never would have died for what they believed. I think they stepped up in the moment because of the life they had lived and the experiences they’d had. Each of the disciples had risked and loved and laughed and experienced a life that was desperately full.

Without a full heart, without a full life, without a life of miracles and intense beauty and wonder and daily interactions with God, the martyrs of our faith never would have been able to step up when the moment arose.

I often hear people talk about the “sacrifice” needed in our relationship with God. We need to sacrifice our time and read and pray and do more and we need to sacrifice our finances and give more…etc. But these aren’t sacrifices. It’s not a sacrifice to spend time with my wife and daughter or to spend money on them. Sure I have to prioritize, but that’s different. In the context of relationship it’s simply called love. Though, in the context of a religion of works, I suppose its fair to call it a sacrifice.

If we don’t choose beauty and adventure and wonder and if we don’t relate to God daily and experience miracles regularly then we will never be able to stand when actual persecution comes. And we will never be able to sacrifice when the need arises. Beauty is a choice. Wonder is a choice. To experience a miracle we have to choose to have an adventure.

So, let me take a left turn here. As I said above, this is not what I am talking about at Allume. But this is the base from which I will be jumping off. Think about this in the context of your blog, of your art, of your book, of your platform. If life is about doing what we love and through that making the largest impact with Christ, how does that translate? If life is about collecting God stories- and we can”t do that if we just hang out in church and write blogs, then what does that look like? The impact of our life happens when we are out living and loving to the absolute fullest.

And this should be where our art comes from.

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