The successful, if harrowing, flight of SpaceShipOne is exciting! In just a short time, I hope, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the US Congress will promulgate the necessary regulations to make commercial space travel possible. (It'll be awhile before I can afford to buy a ticket, though. Estimates are that a seat on a craft from Sir Richard Branson's soon-to-begin Virgin Galactic line will be somewhere in the neighborhood of $190,000.00.) I'm sure that within the next twenty years, businesspeople and tourists will regularly fly from New York to Tokyo in a matter of minutes, making this ever-shrinking planet even smaller...and only increasing our need to learn how to better get along with each other.
I admire people who take risks and embark on new ventures...like my friend, Ric Barnes, who seven years after starting an exciting new congregation in the Mason, Ohio-area keeps, in Saint Paul's words, "fighting the good fight." If you're reading this and live in the King's Island area and are looking for a congregation in which you can experience the love and power of God in your life, check out Celebration Lutheran Church and its adventurous, authentic pastor, Ric Barnes. Ric and I had a good talk today! Every time we converse, I'm inspired and encouraged to keep on following Jesus!
Another adventurous friend is Nancy Beck, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club in Clermont County. Nancy and friend Jim Ball, both regular attenders at Friendship Lutheran Church, the congregation I serve as pastor, are planning a trip to hike the heights of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa! Nancy is asking for sponsors who will contribute money to the Club based on how great an ascent she makes. She is journaling her preparations here. I hope that you will become a sponsor for this worthy cause and amazing adventure!
After reading the 9/11 Commission's report, I needed to mentally shift gears, reading something a bit lighter or more inspiring. Two books are proving to fill that need:
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. Believe it or not, I had never read this book. The narrative is vivid. The characters are memorable. The plot is truly classic. Like so many so-called children's books, even a fifty year old like me can enjoy it.
Living Faith by Jimmy Carter. Undoubtedly, this book is going to inspire some columns. In essence, it's Carter's spiritual autobiography, outlining the development of his faith in Jesus Christ through his experiences and relationships over the years. This book is incredibly honest. Carter shares how his doubts drove him to deeper faith in Christ, how he reconciles his training as a nuclear scientist with belief in the God of the Bible, how his upbringing as a sexist Southern man had to give way to the Biblical call to respectful treatment of his wife, how the racist Southern past fell before Jesus' call to love our neighbors, and so on. We see how Carter's Naval career and the life of his father and mother impacted him. This is an incredibly inspiring book, no matter what your party.
Okay...one last thing. The CD I've been playing a lot in my van these days is Momentum by Toby Mac. Brilliant!