Sunday, April 21, 2013

Prototype Book Review

Prototype  What Happens When You Discover You're More Like Jesus Than You Think? by Johnathan Martin
I have never read anything like Prototype before.  I really enjoyed it.  It's a page turner.  I am so glad that Tyndale Blog Network sent me a copy to review.  I Jonathan Martin is not what you would expect from a preacher.  Or at least not what I would expect.  He doesn't think like most preachers do.  He is more unorthodox.  You can read the first chapter here  
If you are on your faith journey you should read this book.  Everyone needs to read this and realize that we are made in God's image.  God loves us and knows that we are full of flaws.  He loves us anyway.  He loves us flaws and all.  I am happy that I was able to experience this book and learn from it.  I highly recommend it to all believers.
Remembering God’s love every single moment, left Jesus free to be human in a way nobody else had been before.  Is it possible that in this one thing, Jesus could be showing us everything about being human in the way God intended?  In Prototype, Jonathan Martin creates a vivid understanding of what it means to be beloved by God.  To completely trust, as Jesus did, that God loves you. To live life without fear, confident in your identity and purpose.  To handle life’s wounds as Jesus did, and to wake every day with a deep awareness of God’s presence.
Author Q & A
About the Author - Jonathan Martin is a third generation preacher who leads the liars, dreamers, and misfits of Renovatus, a Church for People Under Renovation, in Charlotte, NC, where he lives with his wife, Amanda.  A self described product of sweaty revivals, hip hop, and the “Christ haunted landscape” of the American South, he holds degrees from Gardner Webb University, the Pentecostal Theological Seminary, and Duke University Divinity School.  He is dedicated to exploring the
beauty of God, the wonder of being called God’s beloved, and what it means to
become fully human.
1.  What is your hope for this book, Prototype?
My hope is that in the middle of the noise and clutter of our lives, Prototype will be a book that calls
people in out of the rain and brings them smack dab into the knowledge that they are beloved sons and daughters. I want Prototype to speak deeply into our identity. Most of all, I want folks to know how
desperately loved they really are. Because I really believe the knowledge that we are loved
outrageously in all of our silliness, mundane-ness, and wrong-headedness, and even our beauty is the ground floor of existence.  If we really believe we are loved in the core of our being, we can learn to make every decision out of that knowledge. That’s how Jesus lived His life living each moment
with the confidence He was beloved by God.  And if it was possible for Him, it’s possible for us.  Jesus is our prototype for living a life fully awake to our identity, and thus to others and to the world. I hope Prototype will help folks come awake!
2.  You say that Jesus is the prototype who came to show us that it is possible to become human
in all of the ways He was. What do you mean by this?
Jesus was fully convinced that He was loved and fully at home in His own skin.  Out of the overflow of
His intimacy with His Father, He made others feel seen, known, and loved.   There is nothing more human than to be known and loved, and that is not an experience unique to Jesus.  He’s the first off the assembly line of a whole new species of humanity, “the firstborn of the dead.”  He’s the leader of a new humanity, of people who are known and loved by God and he’s calling others into that same way of being known.   We can touch like Him, love like Him, experience beauty, wonder, and compassion like He did.  We can live without fear as He did. It’s quite a way to be human, and it’s available to each of us.
3.  Tell me about the personal experience(s) which prompted you to write such a book.
This little book has been 34 years in the making. It’s everything that I learned as an awkward kid full of
self-doubt and terrorized by notions of a vengeful, violent God, as I somehow stumbled into the
awareness that God delights in me.  The experience of discovering my own identity as a beloved son of God, a long process that involves a lot of wonderful people, has changed my life inalterably, and I feel compelled to share that journey with others.
4.  You talk about “the boy on the bike” in your book.  What exactly do you mean by this?
I think everybody has had a time or a place early in life when they knew what it was like, even if only for small moments, to live without fear. To have a suspicion at least that they are known and loved by
something or someone out there. It may not have been an explicitly religious experience, but I can
assure you that whenever fear has been absent from your life, God was more present than you knew.
For me, that place was on my blue-and-silver Schwinn bike, my time machine to other worlds. Riding it, I was a child of wonder and not of fear. I had a powerful experience a few years ago when a friend who knew nothing of that part of my life felt like God told him to tell me He wanted to make me the boy on the bike again—the boy who knew what it was to create, to imagine, to be loved. A few months later, I had an unexplainably odd experience actually riding a bike for the first time in 25 years that brought this full circle. It restored my true identity, not as a pastor or a writer or whatever it else it is I once thought I was, but as the boy on the bike. That’s who I really am; that’s how God knows me, and that’s who I will always be.
5.  What advice might you give someone in recalling their “boy on the bike”/“girl on the
trampoline” experience in life? What’s the significance of this “place”?
A lot of people say at first they didn’t have such a place or moment. I would challenge you to think
longer, deeper, more slowly, even prayerfully. There is a place in your past that holds the key to your
present and your future.  Sometimes we have to go backward before we can go forward.  It needs to be remembered; it needs to be revealed. That place is not just significant, it’s of ultimate significance
—it’s the place where you meet God!
6.  When did you realize that you had to share this story?  What message do you hope will resonate with your readers?
I realized I had to share it the very night I rediscovered my identity.  For all the other messages I have
preached and will preach, I realized that is ultimately the story of my life and perhaps in some ways the only story I have worth telling.   I am not interested, though, in people knowing my story per se.  I want them to know their story and tell their story.  I tell mine simply because I want to open readers up to their own stories all over again, and rediscover the wonder of it.  This is not a book telling you about how I hear from God.  It’s a book that tells you that you hear from God, and hopefully gives you the resources to hear Him by, or in Frederick Buechner’s phrase, to “listen to your life.”
7.  How did you recognize God’s call and direction for your life?
When I stopped looking too hard for it and agonizing about it, and began to learn how to be in the
presence of God instead of always feeling the need to “do” something. That’s where it all started for
me, and I’m still learning to recognize God’s call and direction for my life. That’s not something you
learn and then get down and move on; that’s a lifetime of discovery, and I’m still very much learning
who I am and where I’m going.
8.  What encouragement would you provide to those who feel alienated from God?
I would want you to know that even if you feel alienated from God, He does not feel alienated from you.  He’s closer than you think. He’s not angry. He wants to make Himself known right in the middle of your ambiguity, doubts, questions, and fears. There is no way you are outside of His love.
9.  You have changed countless lives through your work at Renovatus. How has this work
changed you?
I’ve learned more from the people of Renovatus than I could ever teach them. They are beautiful,
authentic people who teach me by example how God can be known in the messiness of real life. Over and over again, I see people come to know the love of God through the unconditional love and
acceptance they experience through the community here. Their stories are so diverse, and yet in a
sense it’s the same story over and over again. When people come to know they are loved by real people in their brokenness, they can begin to believe they are loved by God. That is their story, and that is my story from knowing them in all the ways that I do.
10.  What is the best advice or encouragement that you have received?
The best encouragement I’ve ever received is that God wants to know me in my “waste places.” He
wants to be invited into the places where I’m broken.  He’s not squeamish with my brokenness; He is at home in it.  My friend Jim has helped teach me that the task is not to eliminate my brokenness in a way that no longer makes me human, but instead to keep my brokenness and humanity before the One who loves me.