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Category Archives: Adventures

Prayers in the Land of “If Not”

In Amazed and Confused, I talk about the importance of having “if not” faith. The kind of faith that navigates us through the moments when God’s actions collide with our expectations. The faith that sustains us when God doesn’t respond … Continue reading

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#LentChallenge: 450 Miles of Faith

How long does your faith last? For Paul and Silas, it was 450 miles. Today, we read about Paul’s second missionary journey, and I want us to slow down our reading a little bit in order to dig out some … Continue reading

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Pentecost- Amazed and Confused

On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit blew across the church and pilgrims from around the empire heard the Gospel in their own languages. Acts 2:12 tells us that bystanders were “amazed and confused.” They asked “what can this … Continue reading

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Paul- Amazed and Confused

In Acts 23-25, we find Paul under house arrest in Caesarea. For two years, he waited for his journey to start again. It’s interesting to note that the Biblical and historical records don’t reveal any activity from Paul during this … Continue reading

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David- Amazed and Confused

In 1 Samuel 16, David was anointed the next king of Israel, but he didn’t take the throne immediately. Instead, he went back to the pastures to tend the sheep. In 1 Samuel 17, David defeated Goliath at the Elah … Continue reading

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Another Journey

When you study the Bible in the land where it happened, your surroundings add a new dimensionality to your understanding. The geography itself tells a story. The history and culture give us new frames. And when you go on that … Continue reading

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The Christmas List

This is a re-post. Every year, I share my top list of things you must do at least once– if not every– Christmas. See Handel’s Messiah live. Participate in a live nativity. Get your picture taken with Santa Claus as … Continue reading

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God’s Classroom

It has been said that a tourist passes through the land, while a pilgrim lets the land pass through himself. There’s a big difference between merely exploring these lands and allowing this physical space to transform one’s heart and mind. … Continue reading

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The Fifth Gospel

“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.” Acts 20:22 Seven years ago, I came to Jerusalem with seven other pastors. To describe our story sounded like the beginning … Continue reading

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Throw Better Parties

This is another installment of the Theology of Fun series. We opened the door and walked right over the welcome mat just as we had done hundreds of times before, but on this particular day Ryan noticed it. Our pathetic … Continue reading

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The Discipline of Fun

This is another installment of the Theology of Fun. Fun is both a spiritual gift and a spiritual discipline. I’m convinced that the blessings of God require discipline and the spiritual disciplines double as spiritual blessings. For instance, confession is … Continue reading

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Take God Seriously…Not Yourself

This is another installment of the Theology of Fun series. I have a tendency to take myself far too seriously. If someone corrects me, I am quick to make excuses (if only they knew the challenges I had faced). If … Continue reading

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Why Fun?

“Whence comes this idea that if what we are doing is fun, it can’t be God’s will? The God who made giraffes, a baby’s fingernails, a puppy’s tail, a crooknecked squash, the bobwhite’s call, and a young girl’s giggle, has … Continue reading

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Theology of a Teenager, Part 2

Yesterday, I talked about the beginning of my theology adventure with Michelle. Here’s the rest of the story. Michelle read Theology and Galatians, learned more about Jacob Arminius than she ever thought she wanted to know (and heard me talk … Continue reading

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Beauty in the Tension

Tension is important. Without it, the physical laws of the universe would not work. Tension keeps planets in orbit, my tennis racquet strung properly, and tightrope walkers secure as they hover above the audience below. Tension brings a beauty to … Continue reading

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Favorite Blogs of 2011

My blogging productivity diminished greatly in 2011. I will blame the book-writing process for that. This is a list of my favorites from 2011. Not necessarily the most popular, insightful, or important. Just the ones I like the best. Never … Continue reading

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The Christmas List- Updated

A few years ago, I started posting a Christmas list. Things to do at least once in your life. Some of them should happen every year. This year, I’ve added a few updates. See Handel’s Messiah live. Participate in a … Continue reading

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Guns and Legos

Yesterday, my schedule included, “Leadership Covenant training, lego construction, gun range.” Yep, I’m a discipleship pastor. Here’s the deal. Our 3-hour Leadership 101, the initial online training that all NCC small group leaders are required to complete, is being updated. … Continue reading

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Go In Twos

We are discipled by people, not by programs.  Discipleship happens when we invite people into our lives as we are living it. Sometimes that happens in my home. Sometimes it happens around food. More often, it’s happening on the road. … Continue reading

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One Crazy Idea: CHIPOTLE!

It’s One Crazy Idea Week. I’m surrounded by crazy people doing crazy things, and all of them were fueled long ago, once upon a time, by one crazy idea. In this series, I want to introduce you to some of … Continue reading

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Delays and Detours

Life is an adventure. And if you have ever experienced a road trip with me, you know this to be true. It seems every time I travel, a delay or detour is always in my path. Take today, for instance. … Continue reading

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The Milkshake is the Muse

“O Muses, O high genius, aid me now!” (Dante, The Inferno) “I need to write. I need to write. I need to write. I need to write. I need to write. Oh…there is leftover pizza in the fridge!” (Heather Zempel, … Continue reading

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Reflections from Greece

I’ve been to Greece twice this year. Crazy. Who gets to do that? I am so thankful for my job. In February-March, I traveled to Greece and Italy for an academic study tour with Ryan. And again the past couple … Continue reading

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Four Hours in Rome

Background: I am leading a team of 14 NCCers on a mission trip to Greece to support the A21 Campaign as they combat modern day slavery and sex trafficking. The Twist: Our flight from Boston to Rome was delayed for … Continue reading

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Serious About Sabbath

A couple of years ago, I started practicing the Sabbath. And I honestly don’t think I’m exaggerating at all when I say I think it saved my ministry. And my sanity. Sabbath looks different every week. Sometimes, it needs to … Continue reading

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It’s Always an Adventure, Part 2

This is a continuation of the epic tale of my trip to Knoxville and Atlanta. Read Part 1 here. So…we left Sevier Heights Baptist at 11:30, arriving at Emily’s neighborhood sometime around midnight. We were greeted by standing water. My … Continue reading

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It’s Always an Adventure, Part 1

I’ve experienced my fair share of crazy road adventures. Like the time Jenilee LeFors and I were already late for the airport and somehow drove 25 miles in the wrong direction (and miraculously still made the flight). Or the time … Continue reading

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I Fall

So. I have a habit. I fall. All the time. I grew up playing sports… and lots of them. Softball, volleyball, tennis, track. So you would think I would be a bit more graceful. Nope. Once, I fell through a … Continue reading

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The Big Booty Party…or…Why I Wear a Pirate Hat Today

So…I am wearing a pirate hat today. Why? Because I want to raise awareness. My good buddy Jenilee Joy LeFors is embarking on a new adventure. She is on an expedition in search of her next treasure dig. Wells. Water … Continue reading

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Staunton

Ryan and I are in Staunton, Virginia this weekend trying to be productive and knock out some projects. More on that later. In the meantime, here are some of the views from today. The Dixie. And the Stonewall Jackson.

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Pilgrim’s Process: In Pictures

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Pilgrim’s Process: Gratitude

“Thanks.” That’s what I said as I stood in front of St. Peter’s tomb in the excavations underneath the Vatican. We Protestants don’t have heroes. Or at least we don’t have many. I guess Jim Elliot, Lottie Moon, and Martin … Continue reading

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Pilgrim’s Process: The Bible is Real

Pilgrimage gives me a new perspective on Scripture. I know the Bible is real. I believe that and teach that. In fact, one of the things that compels me to do my job is an insatiable desire to see people … Continue reading

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Pilgrim’s Process: God’s Love is Bigger Than Mine

I played around with a lot of different titles for this one: “God loves idiots.” “God loves people I can’t stand.” “God loves people that drive me bonkers.” I decided it’s really just an issue of God’s love being bigger … Continue reading

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Pilgrim’s Process: In Cathedrals in Conflict

You might have clued into it at some point along the way, but I’ve just returned from a 2-week adventure in Greece and Italy, following largely in the footsteps of Paul with a few sides trips to cool places like … Continue reading

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Legacy

My sister is intensely excavating our family’s history, and every now and then she digs up some really cool stuff. Just the other day, she sent me this email: “I guess this explains why you lean Wesleyan in your thinking?? … Continue reading

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Final Thoughts From St. Peter’s Basilica

Well, we just returned to the hotel from our final night in Rome. Here is a wrap-up of our trip.

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Martyrs and Witnesses

Just a couple of quick thoughts from Rome. One spot is called Tre Fontane, and it is the location of Paul’s imprisonment and execution. The other is from St. Paul’s Basilica, which traditionally is believed to hold the remains of … Continue reading

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Loving God in Athens

Spent the day in Athens. Toured the Acropolis, including the Parthenon, the Odeion, and the Erechtheion. Temple of Hephaisteion, Stoa of Attalos and Temple of Zeus. Ate some great gyros. And scrambled all over Mars Hill, where Paul proclaimed the … Continue reading

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Going Crazy in Corinth

Alright, there was a lot to show in Corinth, so…let’s get started. Video #1: Port of Cenchrae (Acts 18:18, Romans 16:1) Video #2: At the Bema in Corinth (Acts 18:12-16) Video #3: Between To Temples (1 Corinthians 1:18-31, 1 Corinthians … Continue reading

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Ryan and Heather in Nicopolis

Here are Ryan’s reflections on Nicopolis. And here are Heather’s reflections on Nicopolis. And she meant when Paul was writing to Titus…not Timothy. Details, details.

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Thoughts From Berea, Vergina, and Preveza

Here’s another video update.

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Thoughts From Philippi

I recorded this for Theology 101 the other day and thought I would share it here, as well.

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Thoughts From Thessaloniki

Alright, Campers. It’s too late to blog, so I’m bringing you a little video instead!

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Tripped Up in Troas

Acts 15:40- Paul begins his second missionary journey The Holy Spirit doesn’t allow him to preach in Phrygia or Galatia. So he goes to Bithynia, but the Holy Spirit won’t let him preach there, either. “So, passing by Mysia, they … Continue reading

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Greece/Italy Itinerary

For those who are interested, here’s what I’ll be up to for the next couple of weeks: Feb 27, Sun Depart Home Airport for Thessaloniki, Greece (SKG). Feb 28, Mon Plan arrival by 1:45 PM at the Thessaloniki airport for … Continue reading

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A New Pilgrimage

In 2005, I embarked on my first trip that might be described as a pilgrimage. I joined 6 other clergy from various theological streams (Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, Episcopalian, etc…it sounded like the beginning of a bad joke). We traveled to … Continue reading

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Never Travel Alone

This weekend proved to be another adventure. In general, I try to never travel alone. The main reason is that joint experiences seem to create the best environments for discipleship. And let’s just face it; I just have a lot … Continue reading

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Christmas in Mobile

Well, the ritual begins in 12 hours. Ryan and I will board a jet plane and head to the balmy South for Christmas. It’s the year to be in Sawyer territory, and I’m looking forward to a week filled with … Continue reading

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The Christmas List

I post this every year, but it’s one of the few that I think is worth a re-post. In no particular order, thirty-one Christmas experiences that I believe every person should have at least once. See Handel’s Messiah live. Participate … Continue reading

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