Obi-Wan Kenobi once told Luke Skywalker that he was “taking his first step int a larger world” when he successfully reached out to the force in lightsaber training aboard the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars.  For this blogging effort, that step happens today as I take this to the next level by re-launching this blog as it’s own website.  Going forward, I’ll be blogging there instead.  Additionally the site includes links to my Twitter, Facebook, and Linked In profiles as well as some of the media opportunities I’ve had over the last few years.   So, come along with me and join the adventure in some new surroundings.  As you do, recall the the words of Bilbo Baggins:  “It’s a dangerous thing to go out your front door, for if you don’t keep your feet there’s no telling where the road might take you”.

Where might your own adventure take you?

In 1986 I was four years old.  That same year Nintendo released a little game for it’s Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) called Metroid.  Something different than what had been done before, it was a side-scrolling game like Super Mario Bros. but the player also collected various items to enhance Samus Aran:  an inter-galactic bounty hunter that roamed this non-linear world (akin to the Legend of Zelda).  Due to the game’s vastness, it also included a password feature like the Mega Man games.  I was finally introduced to it a few years after it’s release and spent hours working to saves Planet Zebes from the Mother Brain and her dreaded Metroids; something similar to a “face-hugger” from Alien.  The greatest shocker to the original came during the game’s end credits, when you realized that Samus was a woman.  Samus Aran was the first real video game heroine.   Since that time, Metroid has gone on to become an impressive franchise of it’s own, spawning numerous sequels over various Nintendo gaming systems; all of which I own or had played heavily, as Metroid is my favorite video game franchise behind The Legend of Zelda. Metroid almost became a major motion picture that would have been directed by John Woo.

Sometimes I get nostalgic for first generation versions of games like Metroid, Mega Man, and The Legend of Zelda; ok, more than sometimes.  Recently, I found a few videos on YouTube of “speed runs” though the original Metroid and Metroid II:  The Return of Samus:  incredible play-through of these games in record times.  As I watched both of these – and yes I watched both in their entirety – not only did the memories return from when I was nine years old, but a I marveled at the perfection of the game-play.  The amount of time someone would have to play the game to know it so well, where very item is hidden and the optimum method and order to collect them.  The daredevil risks taken in the game for the sake of that record time: taking certain hits on purpose and rushing in to certain areas – seemingly unprepared – long before one should but emerging victorious precisely because you know the material, obstacles, and terrain so well.  That’s preparation.

My mentor, teacher, and dear friend Ken Rudolph often preaches a sermon about David’s Mighty Men each summer at Lake Ann Camp.  In the sermon he talks of how these men where men of practice, men of preparation; they knew their craft and knew it well, for this small band could have conquered entire nations by themselves; they were King David’s “Special Forces”.  These guys took huge risks, like breaking into enemy territory just to get King David water from the well of Bethlehem, his home town, but they were prepared.  These guys were like the Bible’s version of The Expendables.

I think that faith in Christ works this way too:  the more you know of Him, the more you see Him do, the more miracles – great and small – that you experience, the more your faith is built up.  The more your faith is built up and strengthened, the more you trust Him with the life He’s given you (yes, it is a weird paradox).  The more your faith is built and you embrace the greater Freedom of trusting Him, the more you can help others by loaning that faith out to others to build them up; Revelation 12:11 in real-life.    The more your faith in Him is built and the more you can trust Him, the greater risks you can take and step out all the more into the destiny He has for you; Ephesians 2:10 in real-life.  It sounds a lot like the journey of Samus Aran in Metroid and Link in The Legend of Zelda.

Right now, my risk is spending $500+ to go to Nashville, TN on September 21, 2012 for The Quitter Conference lead by Jon Acuff – not knowing a thing about what my future will look like after early November.  The board is set and the pieces are moving towards that day.

Are you prepared to step out?  What do you need to risk?

When GI-JOE:  Real American Hero premiered in the early 80′s as a television companion to already published comic-books, viewers were introduced to an eclectic cast of characters comprising the ranks of both “The Joes:  America’s Highly Trained Special Mission Force” and “Cobra:  an evil terrorist organization determined to rule the world.”  One of the craftier villainous characters was Destro, a partner to Cobra Commander in his nefarious plots at world domination and destruction who wore a metal mask.  Born James McCullen Destro, of Scottish clan McCullen, Destro was the founder and CEO of Military Armament Research Systems (MARS) Industries, a weapons manufacturer whose technology and profits often fueled Cobra’s evil missions of terror and world-domination, as clan McCullen had long been the suppliers of weapons in various conflicts throughout history (imagine an evil Tony Stark/Iron Man).  As such, Destro uses his wealth, position, and influence for evil and does so willingly.  Nevertheless, he would, and sometimes did, work against Cobra if it is in his interest as ultimately Destro served himself.

Recently, in a sermon at National Community Church, Mark Batterson told the story of a Scottish man named Thomas McClellen who was born in 1837.  In 1857, at age 20, young Thomas made a covenant with God in which he pledged all that he had, all that he was, and all that he might become to the service of the Heavenly Father and the cause of His kingdom.   Thirty years later, at 50, McClellen recommitted himself to this covenant and did so a third time at age 70.  At present, five generations of the McClellen family have followed in the footsteps of their ancestor and philanthropically distributed millions of dollars through grants to many people and organizations fueled by the Gospel to make the world a better place.  Thomas McClellen was the “anti-Destro” and left a legacy that needs no mask, metal or otherwise.

As you walk through the world, what sort of legacy remains in your wake?

In the Star Wars three-quel, Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader famously tells Luke Skywalker:  “You don’t know the power of the Dark Side” as a statement of finality and admission to the grim hold Emperor Palpatine had upon Vader’s life.  Fortunately, we know that all changed shortly thereafter.    Think for a moment on the power of those two lives within that fictional universe.  Darth Vader: innocent; chosen; hopeful; hoped in to bring balance to the Force and Justice to the Galaxy as one of the greatest Jedi Knights; powerful; eager; reckless; a Hero of humble beginnings; too self-aware; arrogant; prideful; discontent; susceptible; a deceiver and deceived; fallen; enslaved; instrument of tyranny; destroyer of millions; redeemed.   Luke Skywalker:   innocent; chosen; hopeful; hoped in to bring balance to the Force and Justice to the Galaxy; powerful; eager; reckless; a Hero of humble beginnings; humbled; learned; self-sacrificing; truthful; caring of friends and family; champion over evil; agent of redemption.  Two hyperspace lanes diverged in a star system…and Luke Skywalker took the one less navigated through.  Two lives, with such an effect on an entire galaxy and a far reaching legacy that bled over into (at least) the next generation.

Phil Coulson, Agent of the Strategic Homeland Intelligence Enforcement and Logistics Division (SHIELD), and supporting character in the Iron Man films and, more importantly, Joss Whedon’s The Avengers.    One man. No special abilities. A greater hero than the Avengers combined…because he combined them.  He believed in The Avengers, the heroes, when they didn’t believe in themselves.  His death served as “The Push” that was needed to coalesce the Avengers into the Family of Heroes the world needed them to be in order to defeat Loki and the Chitauri invasion.   Coulson knew a push was going to be needed and was at peace with and willing to have his death be that catalyst.  His sacrifice saved New York City – and the world – more than Iron Man’s willingness to fly the alien bomb into space.

This is all thought-provoking and inspirational pondering;  the type of fictional stories that inspire and spur on humanity; giving us hope the world will continue to spin on.  Such inspirational stories in real life are rarely like this and they involve homeless men, a wake, and telephone poles even less.  Nevertheless, one such story does involve a homeless man, another a wake, and yet another, a telephone pole of sorts.

Peter Bis lived on a bench near Union Station in Washington, DC.  Peter Bis was an institution on Capitol Hill. Peter Bis always referred to himself in the third-person.  Known by many on Capitol Hill as a friendly homeless guy who talked to everyone and actually remembered you, he recently passed away.  There’s actually a memorial spot under the tree near the bench he used to sleep on where people have been leaving flowers and messages (which I recently visited).  From interns to congressional power-players everyone knew him and often chatted with him.  I used to see him all the time when I was an intern with the Heritage Foundation seven years ago, as his “Sheldonian Spot” – long before there was a Sheldon Cooper – was less than a hundred feet from the front door of my intern housing that Heritage provided.  While saddened at his passing and the loss of this quirky institution of a man, I didn’t really grasp the extent that was Peter Bis until I realized that articles were written about him, in memorium, by National Review, The Washington Post, National Journal, and The Huffington Post (linking to a article in Roll Call).  The area that many consider to the the most powerful square footage in the world – as far as power, politics, and influence goes – has mourned the loss of a homeless man; a single life who spent most of his days on a park bench.  That’s inspiration.

A dear friend of mine will sometimes tell the tale of something that happened at his father’s wake years ago.  A young man arrived at the wake, one my friend had never seen before.  He slowly approached the casket and just stood there for what seemed an eternity.  Standing there, this younger man broke; the dam burst and the emotional flood water swept forth with great intensity.  My friend watched this both intrigued and mystified.  As the young man turned around and walked back down the aisle my friend asked him: “how did you know my father that it would produce such a reaction?”  The younger man explained:  “I didn’t have a Dad growing up and your father was the only man I ever knew who took time for me, who talked to me like a man, like a son, who invested in me; I’ve never forgotten that”   Therein was a life to emulate.

Telephone polls aren’t considered to be inspirational either but I happen to know one that is, it’s at Lake Ann Camp and I climbed it…and then jumped off.  Even though I’ve already told the story, it’s told from my point of view.  It isn’t told from the viewpoints of any of the thirty-plus people who watched it happen.  Recently one of the Reborne Rangers from Alpha Week 2012, Maggie Syme, posted a  picture to Facebook of what the scene looked like before my climb of that dastardly telephone pole.  The caption she included with the photo said “The most inspirational moment of my life; Thank you, Aaron Welty”  I saw  that photo – with that caption – and I was speechless.  Yes, I conquered The Leap.  Yes, it was hard – seeming near impossible at moments – but I’d been through tougher things; things I’d even talked about earlier that week.  In being taken so aback my this, I thought, and even said, “it’s not like I saved NYC from an alien invasion like The Avengers did.”  Later, Maggie told me that she cried long and hard after seeing me make that climb and leap because it had impacted her that much.  I’ll never forget, Katie Decker, another Ranger, leaning over my exhausted body as I lay face down on the ground, telling me “you just changed my life”.  At the end of the week, Josiah Wyse, whose incredible story I’ve also already  relayed, told me that there were two moments that week where I left him without words: one was bequeathing the lightsaber, the other was this climb.

This was a huge “lollipop moment” for some; a moment that was much more significant for them then it was for the one doing it, and it wasn’t a walk in the park for me at all.

Mind your surroundings, be aware of the power and impact of your life; be an inspiration to others and invest in them.

Reborn Rangers praying before I began my climb.

Schwarzenegger. Stallone. Willis. Lungren. Staham. Jet Li.  These men are the paragons of Hollywood action films spanning the last thirty-plus years.  Terminator. Predator. The Rocky Saga. Die Hard movies. Demolition Man. Judge Dredd. The Fifith Element.  Punisher.  The One. Transporter. Crank. Death Race.  And yes, even Masters of the Universe.    These are the movies that made them stars and household names.  The idea of ever getting these names all together for a single film was about as crazy as Marvel Studio’s plan to build-up to and then execute a “team-up” film called The Avengers.   Crazy as it sounded it happened in 2010 when Lionsgate released The Expendables and it did surprisingly well, earning $274 million and some change.  Low on character development and complex plot, it was the ultimate throwback to the action movies that made these men who they are today…and it was a fun ride that showed there are men out there – though rough and tumble – willing to take on the evil and corruption that others will not.

What happens when there’s a sequel with the same cast – and more Arnold and Willis – but with the addition of names like Norris and Van Dame?  It’s a better movie.  Chuck Norris plays “Booker” a lone-wolf gun for hire that pops in and out of the movie and honestly has the best scene in the film involving one of the actual “Chuck Norris Jokes” and it fits perfectly.  And Van Dame?  He plays the villainous dude – who wants access to, literally, tons of previously mined and stored uranium for black market money – that Sly’s team has to take down.  Nevertheless, it’s not that simple: Van Dame murders one of Sly’s team members in front of all of them as only he can:  a Guile-kick strait out of Street Fighter or something from Bloodsport, involving a metal knife.  This murdered member wanted out of the business after this last job so he could take the money and start a new life with his girlfriend, a French combat nurse he met in Afghanistan.  From there the rest of the film involves tracking down Van Dame and defeating him while the various action stars play somewhat caricatures of themselves and make comical references to one-anothers’ previous movie roles.  It’s worth seeing once just for that.

The message though, comes at the cliff-side memorial amongst the team for their fallen member, when Sly asks the question: Why is it that the youngest of us, the one most eager to live, dies and the older ones, worthy of death keep on living; what’s the message in that?  It’s a powerful scene and a poignant question, one the movie seems to answer by taking down the bad guy and saving the world from an unknown threat.  In part, to honor their teammate and ensure his death was not in vain but also to reiterate that as long as evil lurks, there is need for those wiling to fight against the manifested selfish darkness of human nature – even those who themselves are scarred by it.

I actually got more than I bargained for with this movie and I was pleasantly surprised.  For those wanting to see it, keep your eyes peeled for a dual nod to  Star Wars and Rocky IV; it’s impressive.

Two-thirds of the way through the year 2012, the future still has between twenty-eight and thirty-five months for Mattel to get their act together and give us this before a class action lawsuit happens as a result of false advertising, although I’ve heard rumors that it might happen as soon a Christmas 2012.  Let’s not even get started on the issue of why we don’t have jet-packs yet, but an article by Bill Winningham pretty much sums it up:  we’re too afraid, although the Breitling “Jet-Man” is showing the world that some have it in them to overcome that great fear.  Much of this has to do with the conflict between what is deemed possible and what is deemed otherwise.

If some crazy Albert Einstein haired scientist showed up in the parking lot across from my apartment building with a working Flux Capacitor installed in his car – be it running on plutonium stolen from the Iranians, since Libya is more of a state in flux with the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi, or a Mr. Fusion Bio-Reactor – I’d probably try it even if I wasn’t trying to escape the guys the scientist swindled.  Chances are I’d have it take me back in time time 30 years so I could witness my birth, my genesis (just as an observer of course; there is that whole fabric of space time, wibbly wobbly, timey wimey, prime directive thing to worry about).  To actually witness that moment in real-time and not just get to see where it happened, even if the location is somewhat unchanged by the passage of time, would be something.

Or I might go back to the night I cried myself to sleep in the hospital as a young teenager thinking I might die but having a comforting voice tell me I would be ok.  If I did that, what if that voice was my future self?  It wasn’t, but that would definitely be meta.  Imagine a future me telling the teenage me everything I know now, all the adventures, the general craziness of the journey.  I’d be pulling a Rhino and telling my doubting self that I’m the human version of Bolt; that “the impossible can become possible…” and I wouldn’t be too far off the mark because the impossible has become something greater than possible in many cases, it’s become my past.  It’s not because of me though, it’s because of Him, the Heavenly Father, for with whom all things are possible because He can do more than we can ask or think.

What’s your “impossible” that needs to become your past?

As it’s legions of fan know well, Doctor Who is a long standing science fiction television series from “across the pond”, thanks to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).  In it, “The Doctor” travels through time in a 1960′s era blue “police box” (phone box) called the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space).  The show began in the 1960′s and still continues today, with the premiere of the seventh season of the reboot – which began in 2005 – just a few weeks off.

In one of the more well-known episodes of the reboot, an episode called Blink, The Doctor is trapped in the year 1969 and unable to extradite himself because he doesn’t have access to the TARDIS.  Meanwhile, in 2007, a young woman named Sally Sparrow encounters a message from The Doctor scrawled out on the inner walls of an old house foretelling future events involving her.  It is in this house that Sally and her friend Kathy encounter “The Weeping Angels” – an alien race of beings that look like crying stone angels – who, if you look at them, won’t kill you but send you back into some point in the past.  This happens to Kathy and she is transported back to 1923, where to marries, lives out her life, dies, and has her grandson promise to deliver a letter to Sally at that house on the day she would be there.  This leads her to a video store run by Kathy’s brother, who is obsessed with a series of, what appear to be, one sided conversations that the doctor recorded back in 1969.  These messages try and explain the nature of time as the Doctor sees it and warns of the Weeping Angels, their desire to posses the TARDIS,  and how they also move closer to you when you turn your back on them; they are the Boo Ghosts – from Super Mario – of the Doctor Who universe.  In the video message he utters the immortal words, “The Angels Have The Phone Box…don’t turn your back, don’t look away, and whatever you do, Don’t Blink”

A few days ago I got a strange knock at my door, and standing before me was a man I had never seen before.  He looked at me and kindly asked if I could move my blue scooter away from the telecommunications closet I generally park it in front of, which is located next to my apartment, a closest he affectionately called “The Phone Box”.  Certainly willing to comply, I moved the scooter a bit further down the hall.  As I walked back inside my apartment a knowing smile crept over my face and I began to chuckle as I realized “The Scooter has blocked The Phone Box”.

Who knew?  Maybe the Doctor did… *cue credits*