Life experiences, outdoors

Faces Around The Fire

Faces Around The Fire

An Adventure Practice In Forgiveness.

Steve Lummer

It was 11:15 PM! My camp was pitched just outside the Grand Canyon National Park on BLM land (Burerau Of Land Management). The National Park has some great camping spots and this time of year they are so overpopulated.  For this trip I’m allergic to crowds;  yipping Chihuahuas diesel pickups and teenage “music”. This trip will require solitude, silence and a really good campfire.

In the past I have had many campfire chats in my forty plus years of pastoral ministry. The fellowship was always warm.  Many times the fire soon cooled and the friendships burned out for one reason or another.  We heard in our campfire conversations over the years the phrase, “I remember once”.  We talked about the only things ever discussed around campfires – old times and stories told by faces reflected in the fires. Yes! Nature’s T.V. held us captive throughout the evening chats.

My adventure practice this past week was about reflecting on those campers in the fire that are no longer with me.  Some, for reasons that cause relationships to cool and others that left my life in very heated disagreements.  I had three campfires on this adventure and I called each of them “Fires Of Forgiveness”.

My first campfire of forgiveness: 

“Our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:29 (NIV) 

Fire consumes, wipes out and cleanses. I needed to be cleansed of the battle wounds I had received over the years of ministry.  I needed this adventure to not only free me from some past hurt, but to get free me deep in my soul. What I discovered is that I invested a lifetime in building a great ministry but didn’t take the time to build a great soul. What? Yes, there I said it. I was more interested in how Richard Rohr so artistically writes.  “There are two major tasks in the human spiritual journey.  The task of the first half of life is to create a proper container for one’s life and answer some central questions. “Who am I?” “What makes me significant?”  “How can I support myself?” “Who will go with me?”   The task of the second half of life is, quite simply, to find the actual contents that this container was meant to hold and deliver.  In other words, the container is for the sake of the contents.”

An authentic God experience always “burns” you, yet does not destroy you.  It burns away the layers of my false self and get to the true identity of who my creator designed me to be.

The burning bush example revealed to Moses who he was and what God designed him to be (Exodus 3:2-3). I was not prepared in Bible College or in ministry for such burning, nor was I even told to expect it. By definition, authentic God experience is always “too much”! It consoles our true self only after it has devastated our false self. I need this first fire to be a fire of forgiving myself of focusing on my container too much and not the contents.

Belden C. Lane in his book, Backpacking With The Saints writes of the Desert Fathers and how they spoke with insight of how their inner wounds and their old injuries from the past will have a way of expressing themselves. Abba Poeman observed that old wounds have a way of expressing themselves in four stages of unconscious activity. They first appear in the heart, as festering wounds that crop up in our dreams and fantasies. They subsequently show up in the face, in passing glances of anger, jealousy, or envy. Abraham Lincoln said that everyone over forty years of age is responsible for his own face. It mirrors what we carry inside. Thirdly said Abba Poemen, inner wounds reveal themselves in words, in our sniping at others, our passive-aggressive language. And finally, the wounds appear in deeds. We reface them in our actions, doing to others what had been done to us. What isn’t transformed, in other words will be transmitted.

At this campfire of forgiveness I learned to understand and put into the practice dying to my disturbed, over anxious self important  self. The God who is a consuming fire did His work that night.

My second campfire of forgiveness:

The second evening in solitude I built another campfire.  They never told me in Bible college that just because I had vision and wanted to help people find Jesus not everyone would support that vision or get behind it. The naivety of youth produced the misleading notion that people would just follow me. I know, what a silly notion!  Silly as that is, over the long haul, when people leave you for one reason or another it does affect you.  The chronic disappointment of watching your “friends” get up and leave your fire is troubling and I’m not just talking about the Covid convenience of people just quitting on you, I’m speaking to a deeper pandemic of disloyalty and abandonment.


Over the years, my wife and I have had many great lasting relationships. The wealth of these relationships outweighs the ones that hurt.  There is still a sadness that hovers when we feel the loss of people we poured our lives into .  A scripture that has always kept me focused and is John 2:19  “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.”-  (NKJV)

Exit wounds or God’s protection?

When in the perils of brethren, it is good to remember quotes like this one.

“God sometimes removes a person from your life for your protection. Don’t run after them.”―Rick Warren 

A good friend explained it to me like this, “Steve, when you plant a church you will have people that will help you start the work and then they are gone.  Think of it like rocket boosters on a space shuttle. They get you to a certain point and then they fall off for a reason. God sent them to you to accomplish His work for a certain season.

“The Lord gives and He takes away.” Job 1:21

When I paused and looked at the glowing embers that night, I realized  that none of the people in “my church” were my people in the first place. They were God’s people and it is His church.

It was a relief to forgive the old me of thinking everyone needed to stay with me.

I concluded that not everyone you lose is a loss.  What a privilege it was for me to serve with them in the warmth of the fire while we had it.

My Third Campfire Is a Restoring Campfire:

The third evening I sat next to the best campfire I have ever enjoyed. I’ll name it the campfire of restored identity.  I mused on the two times in scripture where Peter was close to a campfire and the smell of that wood smoke saturated the air. The two references are where Peter denied Jesus in a courtyard and the second is where Jesus restored Peter next to a fire on the beach.

When they landed, they saw a charcoal fire there with fish on it, and some bread. – John 21:9

The first time is in John 18:15-19. Peter stood and warmed himself while denying that he even knew Jesus.

 “Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, 16 but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the servant girl on duty there and brought Peter in.

17 “You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” she asked Peter. He replied, “I am not.”

18 It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a charcoal fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.”

When they landed, they saw a charcoal fire there with fish on it, and some bread. – John 21:9

Sitting next to a charcoal fire, Jesus restored Peter and his God-designed identity, as well as, his role as Jesus’ disciple and a leader of Jesus’ church. There the smell of campfire smoke brought memories of sin and guilt, and Jesus gave Peter grace and mercy. As fire is used to refine gold and silver, fire here is used to refine and restore Peter.

Coals and Conclusion:

Our “God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:29 (NIV)

As we allow him to burn up the clutter of unforgiveness we experience freedom in our lives.  The adventure of forgiveness lightens our load and removes the unneeded baggage that weighs our souls down.  Start a fire in you life and let God burn up what you no longer need. 

Outdoor Nations Network, outdoors

Adventure Pastor Steve Lummer Loves To Meet People In The Great Outdoors (+podcast)

(Prescott, Arizona)  Pastor Steve Lummer almost missed his calling. After growing up in family who loved Jesus, he walked away from his faith.

Thankfully, the Lord quickly brought him back around and now he shares his love of Jesus in the place he feels most comfortable–out in the great outdoors as an Adventure Pastor.

Rather hear the story? Click here.

After planting a church in the Midwest, Pastor Steve and his wife Brenda started leading canoe and kayak trips out into the Ozarks wilderness. Eventually, they moved to Prescott to pastor Discovery Church

It was there that Pastor Steve really developed a love for the wilderness.

Two men at Arizona Trail head
Photo Credit: Steve LummerPastor Steve and friend 

Prescott, Arizona is a hub for hikers and mountain bikers–the perfect place to reach out and share the love of Jesus in a conversational way. 

“Many of them have gone through a divorce; many of them have lost their job–they’re going through a lot of issues.” Pastor Steve says the outdoor community tends to be very open to conversation.

He’s also quick to point out that ministering outdoors isn’t new.

“The number one thing that’s spoken about in the Bible, other than God and people, is trees. We don’t worship nature but we sure do appreciate it.”

Husband and wife kiss while rock climbing
Photo Credit: Steve LummerPastor Steve and Brenda

“Our approach has been a little bit John Muir, a little bit John Wesley,” says Lummer, referring to the Christian wilderness advocate (Muir) and the British theologian/evangelist (Wesley).

Pastor Steve’s church–Discovery–has pivoted from serving traditional churchgoers to bringing people outdoors, hosting fun events like rock climbing, canoeing, kayaking and bike trips. 

“I find if I build a campfire, everyone becomes a storyteller.” Pastor Steve says it works differently than having people “stare at the back of each other’s heads” in a traditional church setting.

Pastor Steve has even baptized people in rivers and parks. He says he loves to “get people outside that God can work on their inside.”   

Two men helping a man be baptized under a waterfall
Photo Credit: Steve LummerPastor Steve baptizing someone

His next goal? To get a taco truck to park at trail heads, give away free food to hikers and bikers and talk about Jesus–no strings attached.

Adventure Pastor, Outdoor Nations Network, outdoors, Prescott, RIM2RIM, Yosemite, Zion



Steven P. Lummer has pastored Discovery Church in Prescott, Arizona, for 18 years, but the congregation today looks a lot different than when he started.

Eight years ago, the renamed Discovery pivoted, shifting its mission. Rather than continue as First Assembly of God catering to traditional churchgoers, Lummer and his wife, Brenda, decided to concentrate on the growing local demographic that loved the outdoors.

Prescott is a magnet for recreation-minded residents, at the crossroads between major hiking and mountain bike trails. So, Lummer resolved to seek those who resonate spending time in places such as Yosemite National Park, the Grand Canyon, or Zion National Park. For his 60th birthday, Lummer hiked the Grand Canyon rim to rim for three days and 23.8 miles with his daughter, Natascha Kling. She and her husband, Adam Kling, are lead pastors at Urban Hope Church in Flagstaff.

“Our approach was to be a little bit John Muir, a little bit John Wesley,” says Lummer, who just turned 63. “Some people peeled off when we shifted and the tradeoff was painful, but we feel like it was what God wanted us to do.”

In addition to pastoring, Lummer became a U.S. Missions Outdoors Nations Network chaplain. Subsequently, Discovery Church has become outdoor-driven — hosting rock climbing, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and biking events. Lummer has baptized people in rivers and parks. Lummer currently is raising funds to purchase a food truck that would be stationed at trailheads through the Outdoor Nations Network.

Like other recreational chaplains, Lummer has found that getting to know people over time is a necessary prerequisite to discussions about Jesus.

“Going to the trailheads and building relationships is a unique niche ministry,” Lummer says. “They are more open to talking when not boxed into a service.”

S. Brad Sasser says Lummer has mentored him in his recent endeavor to become a U.S. Missions outdoor chaplain. Sasser is in a similar hot spot for recreational enthusiasts, based in Damascus, Virginia, considered Trail Town USA. He builds relationships with Appalachian Trail hikers, cooking for them at hostels along the way. He also sets up at road crossings or gaps, providing fresh fruit, socks, and adhesive bandage strips to hikers.

Under his ministry Trail Servants, Sasser offers devotional content on an app that can be downloaded.

“It’s a lot of seed planting and watering,” says Sasser, who recently baptized three people he befriended. Sasser says he’s gleaned a wealth of wisdom from Lummer.

“To work with people in outdoor space really requires building relationships. It’s not, Hey, let me tell you about Jesus the first time you meet them,” says Sasser, 40. “As a church planter, Steve had to have tenacity and a tough skin to connect with people.”

Sasser, who has earned the trail nickname “Shep,” as in shepherd, says Lummer impressed upon him the need for compassion and empathy as an outdoor chaplain.

“A lot of time must be spent layering relationships with people,” Sasser says. “When people see that I care about them and what they do, they begin to ask questions about what I do.”

The Lummers, approaching their 40th wedding anniversary in August, met at Westside Assembly in Davenport, Iowa, when Tommy Barnett pastored the church. Steve accepted Christ under Barnett’s ministry.

After serving as a youth pastor in Iowa, California, and Ohio, Lummer planted Lakecrest Assembly of God (now Redemption AG) in Wentzville, Missouri, where he stayed for 13 years before moving to Arizona. Today, Brenda is a preschool teacher and Steve supplements his income as a real estate agent and adventure photographer.

Discovery Church, outdoors

LISTEN – Outdoor Nature Lovers Experience God Everywhere


PRESCOTT, Ariz. (K-LOVE News – Abby Aronoff) – Outdoor Nation’s the name lovingly given to millions of Americans who can’t get enough of the great outdoors. Many of these nature enthusiasts use the whole weekend to explore the world around them. But now one pastor is capitalizing on the passion of those who feel God in nature.

[Rather LISTEN to this story? Scroll down to the podcast]

In Arizona, there is a lot to discover. With over 450 miles of trails and 1.25 million acres surrounding Prescott National Forrest, locals and visitors have trouble staying indoors. Pastor Steve Lummer of Discovery Church tells PE News, “You can whitewater raft, hike, mountain climb, bike, the options are endless.” And with moderate weather year-round you can explore from dawn to dusk.

After attending his own “pastors adventure” in Zion National Park exploring canyons and discussing the things of God with other like-minded church leaders, Steve caught a new vision: Church outside.

Steve explains, “We encourage people to get outside and let God speak to their inside.”

Pastor Steve started Discovery Church, but just about everyone in leadership is an outdoor enthusiast. And whether it’s trips to Yosemite, the Redwood National Park, or rafting at the Grand Canyon, members focus on faith as the congregation continues to grow.

Creation provides a powerful backdrop to connect and talk about God. And Steve points out, “Over half of Jesus’ teachings occurred in the outdoors.” In fact, Jesus took his disciples to mountains, in gardens and on boats to show them his purposes and teach them deep lessons about themselves.

At almost every adventure at Discovery Church a campfire is roaring and people are talking about the Creator.

For Pastor Steve it is simple, “We worship in outdoor classrooms to acknowledge that there is a center of the universe, and we are not it.”

Listen to the article on sound cloud here.

Ministry, outdoors

FORGE 2017



I know that you are pleased with me,  for my enemy does not triumph over me.
12 Because of my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever.

– Psalm 41:11-12 NIV

           What a great time with the men of Journey Church.


America’s First National River

Established in 1972, Buffalo National River flows freely for 135 miles and is one of the few remaining undammed rivers in the lower 48 states. Once you arrive, prepare to journey from running rapids to quiet pools while surrounded by massive bluffs as you cruise through the Ozark Mountains down to the White River.















Thanks for getting us there Jesse Quiroz.




Discovery Church, outdoors

Nate and Sarah Moore

This couple are U.S. appointed missionaries to the rock climbing community. They also work in Hollywood for the TV show American Ninja Warrior.

The symbiotic relationship these two fields have, has created so much opportunity for Nate and Sarah to reach people who would never otherwise enter the doors of a church. Nate and Sarah have been married for 8 years and have lived off and on out of a vehicle for the last 6 years. For the first time in their marriage they have a home base in Golden, Colorado.
Join us Friday night through Sunday with this fun amazing couple.
Discovery Church, Environmental Stewardship, outdoors, Prescott, Prescott National Forest

Discovery’s Adopt A Trail Work Day with the Prescott National Forest


What a great day with Discovery and the Prescott National Forest.

In partnership with the PNF we have adopted 2 miles of the Prescott Circle Trail.

Saturday, December 3rd was our first day out doing some trail work.

Enjoy the video and some pics.

Thanks to all who came out to work for a great cause.













All the best!

Pastor Steve




Books I'm Reading, outdoors



Diving into this tonight at the suggestion of a friend.

The only problem with me reading this book is now I know I will need to do this.

Here is the review on the Jacket cover.

“Carrying only basic camping equipment and a collection of the world’s great spiritual writings, Belden C. Lane embarks on solitary spiritual treks through the Ozarks and across the American Southwest. For companions, he has only such teachers as Rumi, John of the Cross, Hildegard of Bingen, Dag Hammarskjöld, and Thomas Merton, and as he walks, he engages their writings with the natural wonders he encounters–Bell Mountain Wilderness with Søren Kierkegaard, Moonshine Hollow with Thich Nhat Hanh–demonstrating how being alone in the wild opens a rare view onto one’s interior landscape, and how the saints’ writings reveal the divine in nature.

The discipline of backpacking, Lane shows, is a metaphor for a spiritual journey. Just as the wilderness offered revelations to the early Desert Christians, backpacking hones crucial spiritual skills: paying attention, traveling light, practicing silence, and exercising wonder. Lane engages the practice not only with a wide range of spiritual writings–Celtic, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Hindu, and Sufi Muslim–but with the fascination of other lovers of the backcountry, from John Muir and Ed Abbey to Bill Plotkin and Cheryl Strayed. In this intimate and down-to-earth narrative, backpacking is shown to be a spiritual practice that allows the discovery of God amidst the beauty and unexpected terrors of nature. Adoration, Lane suggests, is the most appropriate human response to what we cannot explain, but have nonetheless learned to love.

An enchanting narrative for Christians of all denominations, Backpacking with the Saints is an inspiring exploration of how solitude, simplicity, and mindfulness are illuminated and encouraged by the discipline of backcountry wandering, and of how the wilderness itself becomes a way of knowing-an ecology of the soul.”

Now to make plans of my own.

My saints will be:

Frank Boreham, John Muir, Ed Abby, Henry David Thoreau, a little Leonard Sweet  and some good maps.

Thanks Eric N for the tip on this one.

“there are those who can live without wild things, and some who cannot.” – Aldo Leopold- A Sand County Almanac