Photo by Mike Murphy, from Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Mike Murphy, from Wikimedia Commons

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or without benefit of news media, you’re aware by now that rock climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgenson successfully completed their attempt to become the first to free-climb the sheer Dawn Face of Yosemite’s El Capitan. The ascent rose 3,000 vertical feet up what is sometimes called America’s biggest rock.

Their climb wasn’t entirely “free,” as the climbers were attached to ropes and safety harnesses to keep them from danger in case of a fall, and fall they did, numerous times — but all of the climbing was done under their own power.

But their power would have run out long before reaching the summit if not for a large cadre of friends and fellow climbers who kept them stocked with provisions and assisted with ropes and equipment during the epic 19-day climb.

The climb certainly belongs in the “lifetime achievement” category.

Most of us aren’t up to climbing El Capitan, which other climbers referred to as an “insane” feat. That doesn’t mean, however, that we don’t have goals or adventures we hope to accomplish during our lives — often in the company of friends or other supporters.

Many people, especially Christians, have a deep desire to visit the Holy Land, to walk some of the same paths Jesus might have walked, to sail on the Sea of Galilee, to float in the Dead Sea, to travel the Jericho road, to climb the very steps that led to the temple mount, or to visit the no-longer-little-but-still-special town of Bethlehem.

BTJan2015_coverForty-eight intrepid travelers ranging from twenty-somethings to ninety-somethings made that pilgrimage in November through Baptist Today‘s Nurturing Faith experiences, a journey that is featured in the current issue of the journal. You can read about two new experiences coming up 2015 (both in America) in the February issue, or peruse my blogs from the trip, beginning here.

If you missed the Nurturing Faith experience, but still have a trip to the Holy Land on your bucket list, I hope you’ll consider making the journey this May 9-20 with a group I’ll be taking in association with Campbell University Divinity School. First priority goes to students, of course, but we still have room for another 20 or so participants, and the January 31 deadline is drawing near.

brochuresIf you’d like to learn more, you can find an online brochure and registration form at this link. Or, email me at, and I’ll have hard copies sent to you. We keep costs to a minimum and stretch experiences to the maximum — since it’s a once-in-a-lifetime trip for most people, we pack in far more than typical tours.

While I’m looking forward to leading that trip, Susan and I are also planning to fulfill another life-long goal later in the summer: three weeks on a professional archaeological dig in Lachish, the second most important city (behind Jerusalem) in ancient Judah. No doubt you’ll be hearing more about that.

We only have so much time on earth: if a lifetime ambition is within reach, I figure, why not go for it? None of us are getting any younger.

If seeing the land of the Bible is on your bucket list, I hope you’ll seriously consider joining us this May. As comic character Snuffy Smif is wont to say, “Time’s a wastin’!”

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