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  • Pre-Order Centering Jesus!

    Centering Jesus is currently set to release August 22, 2023!

    You can pre-order now at, Amazon, Books-A-Million, IndieBound, Barnes & Noble,

    Centering Jesus is an impassioned call for us to fix our eyes on Jesus as the Lamb of God and to keep the Lamb at the center of our Christian experience. Here is what my publisher has to say about the book:

    With all the hostility boiling just under the surface of our world, we need a renewed vision of Jesus as the Lamb of God who can lead us in the peaceable ways of the Kingdom. When we fail to keep Jesus at the center of our lives, we lean into the desires of our hearts more than the desires God has for us. As a result, our entire spirituality becomes driven by the self and for the self. We need renewed practices of centering Jesus in our hearts and minds.

    In Centering Jesus, Derek Vreeland invites you to imagine what it looks like to keep Jesus as the Lamb of God at the center of three key areas of our lives—our spiritual formation, our moral lives, and our common life together. With the deep divide in American culture and the polarization that continues to grow, we need a renewed focus on the Lamb so that we might blaze a path forward into civility and kindness.

    Learn how to:
    + identify the problems that occur when Jesus is obscured from our view;
    + walk through some of the key biblical descriptions of the Lamb;
    + describe a Lamb-shaped and Jesus-centered approach to the Christian virtues of faith, hope, and love, the foundation of our moral lives; and
    + experience the Lamb at the center of common life together, specifically worship life, participation in acts of justice, and political life.

    Pre-order now!

  • Book Update

    Yesterday I wrapped up a round of edits on the new book, which has a new title: Centering Jesus: How the Lamb of God Transforms our Communities, Ethics, and Spiritual Lives. I finished the first draft on Good Friday this year. It went through a round of content editing which I worked through and I finished up the second draft yesterday. I have enjoyed working with the team at NavPress! We are still looking at a Summer 2023 release date.


    The book’s primary concept remains the same—centering Jesus as the Lamb of God in our Christian experience.

    The seed for this book came in the form of a phrase in Revelation 7:17: “…for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd….” I’m convinced that a renewed vision of Jesus as the Lamb is what we need in these unsettled days. We need the Lamb at the center of our faith and spirituality.

    With all the hostility boiling just under the surface of our world we need a renewed vision of Jesus as the Lamb of God who can shepherd us in the peaceable ways of the kingdom. We need renewed practices of centering Jesus in our hearts and minds. With the deep divide in American culture and the polarization that continues to grow, we need a renewed focus on the Lamb that we might blaze a path forward into civility and kindness.


    Centering Jesus imagines keeping Jesus as the Lamb of God at the center of three key areas of our lives—our spiritual formation, our moral lives, and our common life together.

    Spiritual formation is the work the Holy Spirit to form us into the image of Jesus. We participate with the Spirit by walking down certain spiritual pathways, particularly for Evangelical Christians those pathways have been Scripture reading and prayer. Centering Jesus in our reading of Scripture and in our life of prayer have become indispensable to healthy Christian spirituality and growth.

    Our moral lives form the foundation from which we make ethical decisions. We choose what we do and what we say (both in conversation and on social media) based on who we are. If we are to be Christlike people then we need a moral center endowed by the virtues of faith, hope, and love. While much of modern evangelicalism structures moral authority around divine command theory and consequentialism, I offer virtue ethics as a healthy alternative.

    Our common life together underscores God’s design for us to live in community—both Christian community and in civic society. We need Jesus at the center of our life of congregational worship together if church is to be an alternative society distinct from the division we see in the world. Finally, if we are to advocate for justice and participate in the topsy-turvy world of political discourse when need a perspective grounded and centered on King Jesus.

    Chapter 1 describes the problems we experience when the Lamb is obscured from our view.

    Chapter 2 walks us through some of the key biblical descriptions of the Lamb. From there we walk through the Lamb at the center of those three key areas.

    Chapters 3-5 walk us through imagining the Lamb at the center of our life of spiritual formation whereby we discover the Lamb at the center of our prayer life, our lives devoted to Scripture, and our lived spirituality.

    Chapters 6-8 describe a Lamb-shaped and Jesus-centered approach to the Christian virtues of faith, hope, and love, the foundation of our moral lives.

    Chapters 9-11 lead us through an exploration of the Lamb at the center of our common life together, specifically our worship life, our participation in acts of justice, and our political life.

    Chapter 12 returns to where we started by envisioning the reigning Lamb in John’s revelation.

    Next steps include copy editing, cover design, and then hopefully, by the beginning of 2023, the preordering process! I will be forming a launch team next year ahead of the books release. Follow me on social media. I will announce the launch of the launch team Spring 2023!

    In the meantime, check out this new book from NavPress: Kingdom and Country: Following Jesus in the Land that You Love. This book is a collaborative project discussing topics like patriotism, nationalism, and Christian identity. I wrote Chapter 4, “Under the Authority of Another.”

    Two other contributors and I are chatting on a live webinar next week on themes from the book. This free event will be Thursday, August 25, 2022 @ 3:30PM ET. Details are registration information is

  • New Book Coming Soon!

    BIG NEWS: I’m happy to announce that I’m signing a book contract with NavPress for my next book tentatively titled Peace and Purpose: Living the Christian Life with the Lamb at the Center. It has a tentative release date of June 2023. Thanks to David Zimmerman and the team at NavPress for believing in this project!

    Authors write books because it’s a calling, an arduous, time-consuming, and often lonely calling. At least that has been my experience. I write because I cannot not write. It has been a calling that I have wrestled with for most of my life as a pastor. My primary spiritual gift, as I have come to understand it, is one of a teacher. Writing has become an extension of my life’s work as a pastor-teacher.

    Securing a publisher is an equally difficult process! I have developed thick skin over the years, because looking for a publisher requires the fortitude to keep at the task of writing and seeking publication in the face of closed doors. Pitching your book idea and being told “no” time and time again can challenge one’s self-confidence. But after a handful of “nos” from other publishers, NavPress said, “Yes.”

    I’m contributing a chapter to a NavPress book that comes out July 2022, Kingdom and Country: Following Jesus in the Land that You Love. Through that project I got to know David Zimmerman, the new publisher at NavPress, and felt a sense of synergy in the direction Dave is wanting to take NavPress. I pitched him the book I have been working on for nearly a year now and after a couple of months of emails, zoom calls, and waiting, he made a contract offer for this new book.

    Peace and Purpose is a fresh look at Christian discipleship with Jesus, as the Lamb of God, at the center of our spiritual formation, our moral life, and our common life together. When I was 17 years-old I completed my first 2:7 small group, a discipleship course published by NavPress. Now 30 years later, I’m signing a contract to write a new discipleship book with them.

    I’m both humbled and honored for this opportunity. Pray for me because I still have a lot of work to do to get this manuscript ready!

    #PeaceandPurpose #book #newbook

  • Jesus is King: The Gospel We Preach

    Those who know me well know that I am a bridge-builder and peacemaker. I love the entire body of Christ which includes our Reformed brothers and sisters, but I find myself needing to give voice to this current debate between Greg Gilbert and Matthew Bates/Scot McKnight on the issue of the nature of the gospel.

    Here are all the articles if you want context for what I have to say below.

    Read the transcript of Gilbert’s lecture here.

    Read Bates’ article here. McKnight’s article here.

    Gilbert’s response here. And Bates rebuttle here.

    These articles document the back-and-forth between these three with Gilbert reflecting a neo-reformed view that justificaiton by faith is at the center of the gospel.

    Bates and McKnight represent those post-evangelicals who are more in line with the gospel vision of Tom Wright and others who view the gospel from the perspective of the kingdom of God, noting that at the heart of the Gospel is the announcement that Jesus came as the embodiment of Israel God to reign as king.

    I strongly side with Bates and McKnight on their interpretation of the gospel. To claim that the gospel is justification by faith or to claim that justification is somehow at the center of the gospel is an exegetical and historical mistake, assuming the effect of the gospel is the same thing as the message of the gospel itself.

    Jesus is King is what the gospel writers reveal in their gospel accounts. As King Jesus is protecting, provided for, rescuing, and justifying God’s people. In this way justificaiton by faith has a place in gospel proclaimation but it is not at the center of the gospel.

    In my discipleship book, By the Way: Getting Serious About Jesus, I write:

    The gospel is the big news that Jesus is Lord. Bruxy Cavey calls this short statement “the gospel in three words,” a simple but life-changing phrase. We do not confess “Jesus is Lord” in order to acquire something from Jesus and then move on with our lives. According to Bruxy, “Jesus is not just a means to an end, a ticket to get into heaven, or a way to ‘get saved;’ rather, Jesus is our Leader, our Lover, our Lord here and now. And that is life changing while we live, not just life prolonging when we die.”

    The gospel message that Jesus is Lord is the big news that something has happened, something will happen, and now everything is new and different. To confess Jesus is Lord implies that the one confessing has submitted to Jesus’ leadership.

    Unfortunately much of the talk about Jesus as Lord reduces Jesus to a religious category, where we assume Jesus is Lord of our “beliefs,” or our religious lives, but certainly not our real lives. Everything becomes new and different when we declare Jesus is Lord, because in doing so we are giving up the rights we have to our lives. We are saying that our lives no longer belong to us; now they belong to Jesus, our landlord. Another word for lord is king, still an archaic word, but one that captures our imagination.

    Lord Jesus is King Jesus. This is the gospel.

    God’s kingdom has come through King Jesus. “Christ” is not Jesus’ last name, but a title meaning “king,” specifically the Jewish king. The Hebrew word for king is anointed one or messiah, because Jewish people did not coronate their kings—they anointed them with oil. Jesus came in fulfillment of all of Israel’s prophets to be Israel’s king. The God of Israel had always desired to be king of his people. God accommodated himself to the wishes of his people by giving Israel a king even though up to that point he had been their king (1 Samuel 12:12-13).

    The psalmists declared with all boldness that God was not only king over Israel, but over all nations. Imagine that daring claim. Israel was just one small, seemingly insignificant people group. Countless other tribes, ethnic groups, and nations surrounded them, each worshiping the deity over their geographic region of the earth, and yet the children of Abraham had the audacity to proclaim that their God was the king of all other gods and earthly kings. In King Jesus, the God of Israel came to rule and reign not just over one strip of land adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea.

    King Jesus rules over all nations as Israel’s Messiah and the world’s true Lord.

    This is big news.

    This is the gospel.

  • A Satanic Doctrine? A Quick Response to Jared Wilson

    Today I read Jared C. Wilson’s article The Satanic Doctrine of a Wrathless Cross and I let out an audible sigh about halfway through. While I am unable to offer a thorough review, I would like to offer a quick response, much like Derek Rishway did for me in response to my Missio Alliance article on penal substitutionary atonement (PSA) back in 2017. I found Derek’s comments to be helpful and clarrifying and I particularly enjoyed our interaction on atonement.

    The tone I took in my 2017 piece “Is Penal Substituionary Atonement Necessary?” was intended to cut through caricature and rhetorical appeals and enter into the theological discussion of atonement without resuming the theological war that has gone on for far too long in the Church regarding the meaning of the death of Jesus.

    Wilson sadly drums up a caricature of his own while critiquing Paul Young’s critique of PSA in his book Lies We Believe About God, which Wilson ironicly describes as a caricture.

    That really does sound like a lot of critiques and carictures, doesn’t it? Let me get to the point.

    Wilson draws upon the devil and the demonic to critique those of us who hold to a view of the atonement that is without propitiation and satisfaction. This kind of rhetorical appeal is what makes me sigh, because it is unhelpful, untrue, and lacks the kind of irenic diologue that can bridge the gaps between our churches and theological traditions.

    Wilson writes, “The Devil loves this development [of a “wrathless” atonement]…. “The Devil loves a bloodless cross”… “Satan is afraid of blood.” And he concludes with “Satan would love for you to keep your gospel nice and respectable.” And perhaps I am reading Wilson wrong here, but he seems to associate those of us who do not hold to PSA to be somehow pleasing to the devil. (?) Perhaps I’m jumping to conclusions, so correct me if I am wrong, but I finished the article asking myself, “So am I teaching a satanic docrine?”

    My conscience is clear. I’m confident in the gospel I preach and the doctrines I teach, but I’m far from certainty or certitude. I’m open to theological diaglogue that is respectful which means we have to throw the devil out our conversations about the atonement. I’m open to discussion about atonement but not when the devil is evoked.

    I do not hold to PSA as taught in most reformed circles, but I’m not pursuing a view of the atonement that is less bloody or offensive. I preach the cross as “a stumbling block to the Jews” and most modern Americans. It is not the violent nature of the death of Jesus that is offensive, but rather the view that the death of Jesus was necessary to turn, in Wilson’s words, “God’s disposition towards those who believe in him would be not condemnation but everlasting life.”

    I find this view theological offensive, but I would never say that my Reformed brothers were preaching a demonic doctrine. I reject satisfication theories of the atonement in part because I believe God is pure love and God sent Jesus not to turn God’s disposition towards us, because God’s disposition has always been towards us! In fact God’s holy disposition towards us is why the Father sent the Son.

    I disagree with Wilson’s view of the atonement but agree with him that Jesus did die a bloody death on a Roman cross and that we do not need to make Jesus’ death somehow respectable for a modern audience. Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures and that it is a necessary part of our salvation.

    What is not necessary for our salvation is that we believe in PSA. Wilson cites Romans 3:23 and 1 John 4:10 parenthetically following the line, “the blood of Christ pays the wrath owed sinners.” Again I sigh here, because neither Romans 3 or 1 John 4 say “the blood of Christ pays the wrath owed sinners.” Rather this is Wilson’s interpretation of the text and particularly the interpretation of one Greek word: hilasterion.

    Wilson has a Reformed theological perspective that provides ample backing for translating hilasterion as “propitiation,” but there are other Christians of other theological traditions who hold fast to the ancient, historic, orthodox, scriptural faith who translate this one Greek word differently. And I am one, as I have written in other places.

    I’d prefer that we all be honest with the text and be respectful of brothers and sisters who choose a different exegetical path. I disagree with Wilson’s view not because I am trying to tidy up the cross or please the devil. I disagree with Wilson’s view, because I am trying to be faithful to the text and the faith “once entrusted to the saints.”

    I extend to my Reformed brothers and sisters the respect that allows them to interpret the atonement one way and I would ask for that kind of respect in return. We live in a polarized culture and those outside the Christian faith are watching us. We need to model theological dialogue that is much more understanding of one another’s differences.

  • By the Way Small Groups

    Photo by Tara Beth Leach

    When I wrote my discipleship book By the Way: Getting Serious About Following Jesus, I envisioned people reading and discussing it in small groups. I do hope people read the book, but more so, I hope people read this book together, hammering out the details in community. Jesus and the early church leaders designed disciple-making and disciple-practicing to be done in community.

    We were created in the image of God who is a holy community of persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We bear God’s image when we intentionally follow Jesus in community with other Jesus-followers. Through our mutual sharing and learning, we can encourage one another and learn from one another.

    While it would be best to read the book as a part of this small group discussion, it isn’t necessary. You can download a free study guide that has all the discussion questions for each chapter. These questions are also at the end of each chapter in the book. You don’t need to have read the book to participate in the discussion.

    Download the free By the Way Study Guide with discussion questions for each chapter

    Small Group Details

    By the Way Small Groups work best in a 10 to 12-week format. There are 10 chapters in the book, so at a minimum it would be good for the group to meet at least 10 weeks. If your group meets for 12 weeks you could begin with an introductory session where there group gets to know one another and gets oriented with the book. Then take a week per chapter, concluding with a group meal on the last week.

    Small group discussions can be powerfully transformative if the group can agree upon some basic ground rules.

    To get the most out of this study guide and small group experience, adhere to the following five ground rules:

    1. Speak only from your own experiences and feelings.
    2. Create space for everyone to share by keeping your comments brief.
    3. Preserve confidentiality: what is said in the group stays in the group.
    4. Find ways to encourage one another and avoid trying to fix one another.
    5. Press into moments of silence with personal reflection.

    At the beginning of each session, groups or leaders can:

    1. Select a leader to facilitate the discussion for the next session.
    2. If the people in the group do not know each other well, invite everyone to share their name and something interesting about themselves.
    3. Ask one person to offer an opening prayer.
    4. Ask one person to read the five ground rules.
    5. Ask one person to summarize the chapter.

    The questions associated with each chapter appear both in the book itself and in this free study guide. They serve as a guide to get your group talking and reflecting on the material in each chapter.

    Feel free to follow the conversation wherever it may lead. Some people may want to discuss parts of the book that are not represented in the questions. That’s okay.

    Follow the relational flow of the conversation. The best small groups prioritize “people study” over Bible study.

    Each chapter’s set of questions begin with icebreaker questions that get everyone talking. Then the bulk of the questions invite participants to reflect on key concepts in the book. The last question for each chapter invites people to consider how to put into practice what they are learning.

    My Prayers

    When I pray in the morning, I pray that God would take my book and multiple it that churches may be equipped to make disciples of the Jesus way.

    I pray your By the Way Small Group experiences the grace of God and that together we all grow in the ways of Jesus. I pray that you meet some new people and that existing friendship grow, because we all need friends in our journey of following Jesus.

    Download a free copy of the By the Way Study Guide with discussion questions for each chapter.

  • Come Learn with Me

    Hey friends! I have two unique opportunities coming up this year for those who want to continue to grow as followers of Jesus. Both of these opportunities are connected to my discipleship book, By the Way.

    Come learn with me!

    Creating Pathways for Discipleship
    (Webinar: August 15)

    Missio Alliance is hosting a webinar that Sean Palmer and I are leading. This is free one-time event. Sean and I will be discussing the shape of discipleship in the church today.

    In particular, I want to describe the three shifts that need to be made in the church in North America to increase our capacity to make disciples of the Jesus way.

    1. Shifting from thinking of discipleship as a ministry of the church to thinking of discipleship as the task of the church

    2. Shifting from treating evangelism and discipleship as separate activities to integrating evangelism and discipleship into a single action

    3. Shifting from viewing salvation and discipleship as separate categories to combining our experience of God’s salvation and our intentionality to follow Jesus

    The webinar is free. Register here:

    M3 Ministries School of Formation: The Jesus Cohort (Beginning September 2019)

    I’m excited to partner with veteran pastor and Bible college professor Doug Main in launching a new school of formation. Doug and I will be leading a cohort of 12-15 people through four courses during the first year focused on a Jesus-centered life and understanding of the story of God. I’m looking forward to teaching the course, “Jesus and the Christian Life.”

    Each of our courses will be shaped by:
    + Conversational Theology
    + Contemplative Spirituality
    + Communal Learning
    + Cultural Engagement

    This cohort is for leaders and learners who want to grow and expand their vision of the kingdom of God on earth through the church.

    For more information go to

  • Forward by Derwin Gray

    My discipleship book, By the Way: Getting Serious About Following Jesus releases in two weeks! I was honored to have my friend Derwin Gray write the forward.

    Derwin is the pastor of Transformation Church in the Charlotte, NC area. He was raised by a grandmother in San Antonio, Texas and was a compulsive stutterer. He played football at BYU and 6 years in the NFL. He travels and speaks all over the US, teaching often about multi-cultural church life. He has written a couple of books including The High Definition Leader: Building Multiethnic Churches in a Multiethnic World.

    He recently completed his Doctor of Ministry degree from Northern Seminary where he studied under Scot McKnight. He has a real kingdom vision and we have both been deeply influenced by some of the same theologians like N.T. Wright. I have been listening to his sermon podcast for about two years. He is a good dude and a great preacher!

    Here is what he wrote in his forward:

    “Jesus saves us so that through us he can save the world.” My friend Derek wrote these beautiful words in Chapter one. These words are beautiful because they are true. My heart was gripped when I first laid eyes on them, just as I know that this book will grip your heart too. You are going to fall deeper in love with Jesus, his Church, his mission for his church, and for people who have yet to taste and see that the Lord is so good.

    How amazing is it that Jesus shares his eternal-kind-of-life, ministry, and mission with his disciples? It’s mind blowing to contemplate that Jesus right now is seated at the right hand of his Father, in a realm that the New Testament calls heaven, yet Jesus expresses himself on earth through his disciples, called the Body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27). Jesus loves, forgives, and transforms, and brings glimpses of heaven to earth through his people. Through the pages of this book, Derek is going to help you reimagine what it means to follow Jesus.  

    Like a  skilled guide, he will reveal to you how consumerism and western individualism has negatively shaped your faith. Consumerism tells a story that Jesus and his church is a product that exist to meet your needs.  It’s like Jesus is a wonderfully trained Chick-fil-A employee whose pleasure it is to make sure your order is to your liking.  

    Western individualism, instead of placing Jesus and his church as the focus of your faith, you the individual becomes the focus.  Often, the Church in North America has transformed the gospel from a corporate, communal understanding to an individualistic, private faith. The gospel becomes a story of how Jesus came to save me from the wrath of God and to help me reach heaven when I die, instead of a story of God in Christ rescuing, reconciling, and redeeming a people who exist for the glory and mission of God, displaying a foretaste of God’s kingdom on earth as conduits of love (1 Peter 2:9).

    Marinate on this for a moment: The New Testament authors use the word disciple 269 times and the word Christian only 3 times to describe Jesus’ followers. Unfortunately, the term Christian has lost its meaning. The term Christian describes how Jews and Gentiles became a new, multi-ethnic family. In the early church, Jews began to worshiped Jesus of Nazareth as YHWH (or Yahweh) and Gentiles stopped worship idols and starting worshiping Jesus. It’s as though they became a new ethnicity on earth comprised of all ethnicities united in and by the blood of Jesus in fulfillment with God’s covenant with Abraham (Gen 12:1-3; Eph 2:8-16). The scripture says, “The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch (Ac 11:26 CSB). Unfortunately, the term Christian has lost its meaning.

    A disciple is an apprentice of Jesus, in the community (church) of Jesus, who relies on the life of Jesus through the Holy Spirit’s presence and power, to reproduce Jesus’ life, ministry, and mission.  God is calling you to so much more. He’s calling you to a new way to be human, to be enlightened by his gospel-truth, and to live by the power of Jesus’ very life. 

    —Dr. Derwin L. Gray
    Lead Pastor Transformation Church

  • AT GA Section Hike Videos: Day 4-8

    Day 4

    Day 5

    Day 6

    Day 7

    Day 7 Bonus Video

    Day 8

  • Appalachian Trail Georgia Section Hike: Day 7

    Saturday, June 14, 2014
    16.2 miles to Hawk Mountain Shelter

    Fell asleep by about 10:45 PM last night and slept good until 1:30 AM. Laid awake listening to music till about 2:30 or so and then shut off the music and fell back to sleep listening to the sound of the creek behind me.

    Jeff woke us up at 6:45. It didn’t rain last night but my tarp was wet with due. We ate breakfast and hit the trail by 8:15 AM. We have found our rhythm hiking. We quickly climbed over 1000 feet in elevation in 2 miles to the top of Big Cedar Mountain which was an open rick face with great views. I laid my tarp out so it would dry and I talked to some weekend hikers who climbed up to photograph the full moon the night before.

    I posted a picture of the view and uploaded my blog from yesterday. We hiked on down to Woody Gap. There is a parking lot, trash cans, and great cell service at the gap. I called Jenni and talked to her a bit. It was tough not talking to her last night. It has been a great trip, but I miss her.

    We had a nice ridge walk with some nice views as we continued hiking south to Gooch Gap. We ran into a thru hiker on his way to Maine.he was staring late and was carrying an external frame pack. I am not sure he will make it or not but it was good to bear a hiker say “Maine,”when asked “Where are you going?”

    At Gooch Gap, I called Gabe and Dad, making plans for on the end if the trip. Gabe is going to hike up the Approach Trail and hike down with us on Monday. We are going to stay the night with my uncle and then Gabe and I are going to Americus for day. It will be good to see my friends there.

    While talking in the phone I let Jeff and John hike on ahead of me. I hiked a little over a mile by myself for a while which was a pleasant change. On the way I ran into Adam and Nikki, a couple fe Indiana whom I met on the AT Section Hiker’s group on Facebook. They are hiking the Georgia section Northbound getting off in Franklin, NC. They have been following my blog and we had corresponded on Facebook. We chatted for a bit and then took a group picture and they headed off.

    I made it to the Gooch Mountain Shelter by 12:10 and we filtered water and ate lunch. I jotted down some notes for the blog and laid my hiking shirt and gear in the sun to dry. We knocked out 8 miles by lunch. I still had plenty of energy, but my right hip flexor was burning. It had been sore all morning. I took some ibuprofen and headed out of our last eight miles.

    We hiked on to tackle Justus and Sassafras Mountains, with just a little break in between. These mountains where back to back and had steep climbs. We passed Justus Creek and continued up to the top of Justus mountain. I shot my Day 7 video hiking up Justus to give people a real taste of what hiking the AT is like.

    We tackled Sasafrass mountain And stopped at the top. It did rain today but I was drenched with sweat. We talked to a retired guy from Florida as we rested on a log. He was missing most of his bottom teeth, which I could see as he smiled a lot when talking about the AT. He was section hiking to Hot Springs, NC.

    We hiked down to Horse Gap and tried to shake off the fatigue. The final 2.5 miles were rough, lots of ups and down. On my way to Highetower Gap, I kicked a rock by a tree and set off what sounded like an alarm. I jumped a bit and realized that was the sound of a rattle snake! I turned to look and four feet off the trail was a pretty good size rattlesnake curled up with his four-inch rattle in the air just a buzzin’. Jeff was behind me maybe 20 yards. He could hear the rattle but did not see the snake. I told him to go the left off the trail and he would be fine. Jeff stayed there to warn John about the snake.

    I made a final push to the Hawk Mointain Shelter and arrived at 5:15, sweaty, and thirsty. I filtered water and talked to Hank, the first guy at the shelter. John and Jeff made it to the shelter and our 16-mile day was complete.

    We were all soaked with swear and tired. We filled up with water and I took a bandana bath in the creek behind the shelter. I rinsed out my shirt and washed the grim off my legs and arms. I had my camp soap with me so I washed my face and head with the cold creek water. I put on my camp shirt and rain jacket because I was freezing from the cold water.

    13 people at the shelter tonight. Including A couple on a three night trip. We talked about the AT and how to hike lightweight. I enjoyed talking to people at the shelter but I was tired. I got in my hammock about 9:30 and feel asleep trying to finish my blog. I woke up at 10:40 and stowed my phone and went back to sleep.