Rick Lyon Personal Testimonial


Sincerity, Sincerity, More Sincerity; Service, Service, and More Service
A Personal Testimonial by Rick Lyon

Recently Susan and I became part of a group working on Urantia projects that have the greatest potential of accomplishing many of the things we have dreamed about for this revelation and is generating the most excitement within the worldwide community of students of The Urantia Book that I have ever seen. I have been blessed to be part of many worthwhile and successful projects. This new opportunity is The Center for Unity and its four projects: the Jesus Metaverse, Cinematic Jesus, the Jesus Experience, and the Jesus Museum.

Susan and I already had enough on our plate to keep us busy for longer than we contemplate being on Urantia. However, sometimes something comes along that is just too important to not be part of it.

For as long as I have been involved in serving this revelation, after spending the first fifteen years thinking I had the only copy of the book on the planet, one of the great laments has always been: “How do we reach the young people?” We were asking this in 1993 when I first discovered other “readers” and we continue asking this same question today.

When I was Vice President of UAUS, Pio Park challenged me to create a plan for reaching the youth and for energizing our associations. My answer was to “reinvent” the organization. As Vice President of Orvonton Society, I have shared that idea with the team there too. I thought we had to create an online presence because that is where the young people are. We had to become more visual because that is what attracts young people to learning. We need to use modern technology to be seen as a modern day religious or spiritual philosophy. “We are not your grandfather’s religion” is a vital part of our message I thought. We had to build an online community where we can work and socialize with each other as if sitting in the same room but many time zones apart–family and teamwork. When I was a child, I could walk to my friend’s house. Young people today have friends on other continents. We had to find a way to do something rather than be something. I had lots of ideas about what to do but few about how to do it.

All successful businesses recreate themselves every few years in order to stay new, fresh, and current. Why do companies change their names, remodel their store, revise their menu? Because people get tired of the same old thing. We live in a fast-paced constantly changing world of technology that leaves behind those who are stagnant or satisfied with the status quo. If you are not growing and evolving then you are dying. I believe that for the Fifth Epochal Revelation and the Urantia community, it is time for a change, an upgrade if you will. Let me be clear, I do not think the revelation is dying or failing. We know it will not fail. I do think that in order to reach the young people, we need to revise and modernize our delivery of the revelation. We need to adapt to the new ways of doing things and the new technologies available today that can for the first time in all history actually bring the teachings of Jesus into all the world–in all languages and to every nation.

I remember the days when the Urantia community motto was “go slow” and the wisdom of building the bedrock foundation of this revelation one person and one study group at a time. This is still the most effective means of sharing this revelation individually. In the early 90’s when I arrived on the scene as a Urantia Book student, if you said the word “Urantia”, people ran from you. Today, when people see your Urantia hat, shirt, or necklace they often ask, “What is that?” or say “I’ve heard of that.” In the early 90’s a microwave was the most advanced technology in the home. Today, nearly everyone has the entire knowledge of the human race in their pocket on a cell phone. The futuristic video phone of the Jetsons is now in our hand and we can instantly and easily talk to a friend literally on the other side of the planet for free. The word “impossible” has almost vanished from our vocabulary. Teenagers are the technology experts of the family. We are not going to reach them with a five pound 2097 page printed book. Just imagine a teenager in your family discovering a story, video, or film about the adolescent Jesus; a Jesus they can relate to. When they are then led to read the book, more than likely it will be an e-book or website.

If you want to search for something in the book, you don’t spend time flipping pages and trying to recall where you saw it or asking people like Benet Rutenberg or Andre Radatus where to find it. You fire up the computer and in a few clicks you accomplish more in one minute than previously could be done in an hour. A person doing research for a secondary work can do in a few minutes what people like Ruth Renn spent months doing in 1975 with the Part IV Study Aid. We must take the delivery of this revelation to the next level using technology that people of today use and are comfortable with. We are not going to change the revelation, just the way it is delivered.

How do we get through to the people of other faiths, especially Christians, with the truth, beauty and goodness of The Urantia Book and the life and teachings of Jesus? I believe we need to share it in ways in which they can investigate it on their own in the ways that they choose; ways that allow them to compare what The Urantia Book says versus what their religious text of choice tells them. When they see the compatibility and enhancement of the new revelation of Jesus with the old one, they will become less fearful of it. Give them a small bite, a taste, and then let the Spirt of Truth and their Indwelling Spirit lead them to the whole book when nobody is looking. Kind of like the Pharisees who believed in Jesus privately but for political reasons kept their beliefs hidden from others. Give them the ability to convince themselves that what they have discovered is true before gaining the confidence and courage to profess it to the world. This is only one of the many things that I believe the Jesus Metaverse will do.

I also see the potential for the Jesus Metaverse to be a significant tool for the in-depth study of The Urantia Book and the fostering of study groups. Most study groups nowadays are online. Just look at the statistics for this on the Urantia Study Group Directory. Just imagine an online group using an online tool to research the topic they are studying together. By connecting all the topics, people, events, times, and dates together with information about the places of history and their culture in the modern world, the depth of study will be almost unlimited but more importantly it will be custom designed to fit the student because the student decides what they want to see and how they want to see it. Imagine that! Education designed by the student for the student. All of us have different ways that we learn and we all have different things we want to learn about. I truly believe that the Jesus Metaverse and the underlying network of nodes and information will be a great advance in the way we study not just The Urantia Book, but perhaps many other subjects as well. It starts with Part IV but eventually all of the book will be part of the Jesus Metaverse.

Virtual reality and “gamifying” creating rewards for studying certain topics will be later developments and evolutionary improvements. Did you complete the study of all twelve apostles? Then you get 10,000 points. If we want to reach the young people, we must go to where they are and attract them to the light. The Jesus Metaverse will be a platform upon which we can build and expand this revelation into the future even as new technology comes online, keeping us fresh and current.

As the fundraising leader for Center for Unity, I get asked about the timing of this great step forward. I have a favorite saying that the best time to do anything is now. Some of us “old guard” as we have been called came from the time when a great debate over how to advance the revelation was a significant part of the issues that split the Urantia community in the early 1990’s. Go fast or go slow? The Urantia Book itself with the story of Adam and Eve cautions about impatience, going too fast. It wasn’t going fast that caused their problem, it was going against God’s plan. The Urantia Book also cautions us about going too slow:

Jesus continued to teach the twenty-four, saying: “The heathen are not without excuse when they rage at us. Because their outlook is small and narrow, they are able to concentrate their energies enthusiastically. Their goal is near and more or less visible; wherefore do they strive with valiant and effective execution. You who have professed entrance into the kingdom of heaven are altogether too vacillating and indefinite in your teaching conduct. The heathen strike directly for their objectives; you are guilty of too much chronic yearning. If you desire to enter the kingdom, why do you not take it by spiritual assault even as the heathen take a city they lay siege to? You are hardly worthy of the kingdom when your service consists so largely in an attitude of regretting the past, whining over the present, and vainly hoping for the future. Why do the heathen rage? Because they know not the truth. Why do you languish in futile yearning? Because you obey not the truth. Cease your useless yearning and go forth bravely doing that which concerns the establishment of the kingdom. (1725.4) 155:1.3

The Revelators wisely gave us some instructions on this issue. These instructions are in the Publication Mandate. If you question the source and validity of the Publication Mandate, check out the interview of Carolyn Kendall by Gaétan Charland on YouTube. Carolyn knows whereof she speaks. She was there. The Publication Mandate says:

The Book belongs to the era immediately to follow the conclusion of the present ideological struggle. That will be the day when men will be willing to seek truth and righteousness. When the chaos of the present confusion has passed, it will be more readily possible to formulate the cosmos of a new and improved era of human relationships. And it is for this better order of affairs on earth that the Book has been made ready.

So, The Urantia Book is intended for a future time when people seek truth and righteousness. Are we not today seeking truth and righteousness? Yes, but probably not to the scale that is referred to here. Oh, but how many more truthseekers are part of our community today than there were 30 years ago or 70 years ago or 90 years ago? My current fun saying is that: “The sun never sets on Urantia.” meaning that this revelation is truly worldwide and international. The Publication Mandate continues:

But the publication of the Book has not been postponed to that (possibly) somewhat remote date. An early publication of the Book has been provided so that it may be in hand for the training of leaders and teachers. Its presence is also required to engage the attention of persons of means who may be thus led to provide funds for translations into other languages.

May I add: “Funds for other means of sharing the teachings?” All of us have said: “It isn’t about the book but about the teachings.” The book is the method of delivering the teachings. Now, we have the internet. It too is only a method of delivering the teachings; one that cannot be killed or crucified. While the book may not be intended for this current day and age, we are not to hide it under a bushel. How can people find truth if we don’t share it with them? As Gaétan Charland is always telling us, we need to occupy the field with this revelation. Who is occupying the field today? If not us, who? If not now, when? If you have a pearl of great value, would you hide it in the closet? Yeah, maybe so that nobody steals it. But the pearl of great wisdom is only valuable when you give it away. So, how are we to share this revelation in a world that fears new spiritual knowledge?

The future is not open to your mortal comprehension, but you will do well to diligently study the order, plan, and methods of progression as they were enacted in the earth life of Michael when the Word was made flesh. You are becoming actors in an ensuing episode when the Word is made Book. Great is the difference in these dispensations of religion, but many are the lessons which can be learned from a study of the former age.

You must again study the times of Jesus on earth. You must carefully take note of how the kingdom of heaven was inaugurated in the world. Did it evolve slowly and unfold naturally? or did it come with sudden show of force and with spectacular exhibition of power? Was it evolutionary or revolutionary?

Let’s look at the order, plans, and methods of Jesus in bringing the gospel to the world. Let’s examine how his methods of teaching evolved. Allow me to compare the Fifth Epochal Revelation and the fourth. We have all exclaimed: “Oh how great it would have been to be alive in the times of Jesus.” Well, the equivalent of that for us is to be alive today when the fifth epochal revelation of God to mankind is in our hands but not limited by how far a man can walk or a ship can sail but truly the gospel is available to all mankind thanks to the internet and satellite technology.

The Publication Mandate continues with this:

You must learn to possess your souls in patience. You are in association with a revelation of truth which is a part of the natural evolution of religion on this world. Overrapid growth would be suicidal. The book is being given to those who are ready for it long before the day of its world-wide mission. Thousands of study groups must be brought into existence and the book must be translated into many tongues. Thus will the book be in readiness when the battle for man’s liberty is finally won and the world is once more made safe for the religion of Jesus and the freedom of mankind.

The Center for Unity is only a weapon in the battle for man’s liberty. I suggest that ALL Urantia projects are pursuing victory in this war to make the world safe again for the religion of Jesus. We must stay current with the times and technologies of today.

Johann Gutenberg’s new printing process sparked a revolution in society and the church. There was both turmoil and excitement when the printing press brought the Bible to the masses of common people for the first time. I am sure lots of people thought that was a mistake. But oh! how that changed the world and pulled us out of the dark ages of religion. I don’t know if the Jesus Metaverse, Cinematic Jesus, Jesus Experience, and the Jesus Museum will change the world that drastically, but perhaps these projects, if supported by the Urantia community, will be the next level of advancement in the evolution from the organized religions about Jesus to the personal religion of Jesus, a move away from the stagnant truths of the past into the new revelation of God and Jesus.

From The Urantia Book we read:

This period of waiting and teaching was especially hard on Simon Peter. He repeatedly sought to persuade Jesus to launch forth with the preaching of the kingdom in Galilee while John continued to preach in Judea. But Jesus’ reply to Peter ever was: “Be patient, Simon. Make progress. We shall be none too ready when the Father calls. 137:7.3 (1534.2)

Even back then the debate to go slow or go fast was an issue for those entrusted with a new revelation. The truth is that any endeavor will only proceed as fast or as successfully as God allows. I believe that we have seen by the “coincidences” of our progress that God is onboard with the Center of Unity and so are the angels and midwayer members of our team. I believe this so much so that, while we do these projects to celebrate and honor Jesus and because of our love for all of you, I personally dedicate my efforts to the angels and midwayers of this world who have loyally and steadfastly endured so much. For the Midwayers, who I understand to be permanent members of this planet, what greater gift can we give them than the one thing that only they can have in all this universe? A Jesus Museum. How can it be that on the “World of the Cross” there is no Jesus memorial or Jesus Museum? I pledge to do all I can to fix this.

One final note: those of us who have been involved in this revelation for more than thirty years know the unfortunate disharmony that was, in part, caused by the debate over go fast or go slow in the late 1980’s. I have been involved with several unity efforts which all agree on spiritual unity but not organizational unity. I have come to believe that organizational unity is not to our benefit as it once was. Today, we need organizations that fill the needs of people with diverse opinions of how things should be done; no one-size fits all or cookie cutter ways of spreading the gospel and this new revelation. The trick is for each of us to do our own thing without criticizing or competing with each other. Our goals and purposes are identical (unity) but our methods are different (not uniformity). From the start, Center for Unity has attracted leaders from the larger Urantia organizations. Members of all three serve on the team together in loving service that well represents the teamwork and unity that should exemplify the entire Urantia community. The Center for Unity will never replace the important mission of the organizations, but I do believe it is the one place, the one organization where we can all work together in peace and harmony, with love and friendship, that will shine our light for all to see.

The religion of Jesus is the most powerful unifying influence the world has ever known. 194:3.17 (2065.5)

One of my problems with writing articles about anything Urantia is that it would be much shorter and simpler if I just said: “Read The Urantia Book. The End.” and let it go at that. LOL!

Let me go back to the paragraph from the Publication Mandate that says:

You must again study the times of Jesus on earth. You must carefully take note of how the kingdom of heaven was inaugurated in the world. Did it evolve slowly and unfold naturally? or did it come with sudden show of force and with spectacular exhibition of power? Was it evolutionary or revolutionary?

Did it evolve slowly and unfold naturally? Yes. Jesus began with his own one-man personal ministry. All of us can do that too. He took the teachings with him wherever he went and shared them through the course of normal and natural conversations with others.

Did the fourth revelation come with a sudden show of force and with spectacular exhibition of power? I suggest that raising Lazarus from the dead was pretty spectacular and a demonstration of great power. In Paper 143:4.3, Jesus warned us “against the dangers of the dullness of overconservative mediocrity”. In our time with our revelation, we have seen spectacular events. I recall the chapel experience at the 2011 Urantia Leadership conference in Chicago. I think all of us have had some spectacular spiritual experience in our lives. Is what we doing with the Center for Unity spectacular? I believe it will be. I pray that it will be. I surely hope it will be.

This is the reinvention of our way of doing things that I spoke of previously; not the only way to do it, but a way that has me truly excited for the near future of our world. This is the adoption of modern methods that will set us apart from our grandfather’s religions. This is what we have been looking for in this community. This will be an injection of excitement and energy that will fuel this revelation for the next one hundred years. This upgrade in technology is what will make The Urantia Book a worldwide revelation of God to mankind.

The Jesus Metaverse will be a new tool for study and learning the teachings. Cinematic Jesus will bring Jesus to life for many people and show them a human Jesus to whom they can relate. People will “SEE” that Jesus really does know what troubles they have because he has shared many of them. They can find hope and strength in that. The Jesus Museum will bring the true teachings of Jesus and the historical Jesus back to the land of Jesus. I see this museum as the one place in all Israel that everyone will want to see because it will be the place to start their tour of the holy lands and a perhaps be considered a homebase for all Jesusonians.

The Publication Mandate ends with:

You who have dedicated your lives to the service of the Book and the Brotherhood can little realize the import of your doings. You will doubtless live and die without fully realizing that you are participating in the birth of a new age of religion on this world.

This is the only thing I disagree with in the Publication Mandate. I think all of us who are actively involved in this revelation today do understand that we are participating in the birth of a new age of religion. And, that makes what we do all the more important.

We began with the question of: “Why am I (Rick) participating in the Center for Unity and these projects?” It is our mission to educate, enlighten, inspire, and transform the individual in order to transform the nations even the world. Through the use of modern technology that appeals to the younger generations, in all the various ways that people learn, and through inspiring films and interactive immersive museum displays, we will bring the religion of Jesus, straight out of The Urantia Book, to all the world and in so doing, we CAN change the world. For us to ignore modern technology and the best available methods and tools for the accomplishment of our God-given mission would not be wise or in keeping with Jesus’ admonition to go into all the world preaching the gospel. Serving with The Center for Unity is my way, as an individual, to go into all the world via the internet with the visual and audio tools available to us. Now is the time and I believe that we are the people to make that happen.

I feel that The Center for Unity is the most important project to come along in many years. It will promote personal spiritual growth of the individual, contribute to the fostering and success of study groups, modernize and broaden our methods of dissemination, enable us to reach the young people and meet them where they are, create tools for UAI, UUF and UBF to use in their missions, show ourselves harmless to Christianity and other faiths, honor Jesus, provide a gift to our angels and midwayer cousins and, I believe, that this is what we have been waiting for as the Urantia community.

We are only just beginning. And finally, because:

What an awakening the world would experience if it could only see Jesus as he really lived on earth and know, firsthand, his life-giving teachings! Descriptive words of things beautiful cannot thrill like the sight thereof, 195:9.8 (2083.4)

I am truly blessed to be part of all of you, all of this, and this team of teachers and leaders of The Center for Unity. Go slow or go fast is your own choice but go. For me personally, as in the end of the movie “Schindler’s List,” I don’t want to die saying: “I could have gotten one more.”

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