Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Proper Response to Burden

It is not hard to look at the world around us today and see that much of it is broken.  As conversations grow about these issues and individuals or groups begin to respond. I often wonder if their response is a biblical one. I also wonder if the things that I am trying to fix is for me, or for the good of the world around me. This discussion has brought me to a new perspective on response which i would like to open up to you. 

Nehemiah 1 : 1-4

Nehemiah 1 is one of the most beautiful responses to a burden that I know of. Nehemiah is a government worker who, as far as we can tell, is having a simple conversation with an old friend. What comes out of that conversation is a reality that strikes Nehemiah to the core. For days following that conversation Nehemiah spends time praying and fasting. As I consider his first response, I am hit with this thought, "What if I spent half the time praying about burdens I have, that I currently spend talking about them?" In our world, communication is key. Clear communication is always a good thing, but what if it is supposed to be the secondary thing?  In the case of a burden, I believe that Nehemiah's response teaches us so much about what we are called to do. We are to be the type of people who know how to pray and fast. Then, after communicating with God, we need to communicate that burden to those around us.

Nehemiah 1 : 5-7

As we read on into Nehemiah's prayers, I am struck by another incredible thought. Nehemiah did not live in Judah at this point; yet, as we read the text, he immediately begins to take ownership for what has happened with the walls and gates. Instead of casting blame for sin, or pointing fingers at everyone else, Nehemiah owns it and repents. What a beautiful thought for a leader! I may not be the cause of this burden; however, I will take responsibility for it with the Father.

Nehemiah 1: 8-11

Finally, as Nehemiah finishes, he begins to speak the promises of God over this issue.  Like us, Nehemiah knows God does not need to be reminded of what He said. No doubt God is fully aware of what He promised His people. I believe Nehemiah is reminding his soul (the same one with the burden) of what God promised.

So I ask you, do you have a burden? I mean, one of those unshakeable God-given burdens. Where have you landed in your response to that burden? What if you took time to learn from Nehemiah and view your burden through his perspective? Only one way to find out, try the ways of Nehemiah, there are great God-given responses ahead.

Please take a moment to share in the comments section of this blog your burden. Our family, our team, and this community will agree with you as you respond to the Father. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Calling & Character

I am geting ready to speak this weekend at a crazy worship experience call "awakening my city" in south Nashville, TN.

As i have been seeking the Lord about what to share, I have been spending time with the leadership of this movement which consists of mostly passionate Jesus disciples in their 20's. I have the good fortune of spending other time with this group, so they know me, and I know them fairly well which creates plenty of trust in our discussions.

The topic that has arisen out of these discussions is the tension for a young believer between Calling & Character.  As I dive into this thought, let me pre-load your brain with two viewpoints to remember as you enter in.

First, we all have a background, faith driven or not, spirit led or not, poor, wealthy, old, young, all of these items will effect they way you consider the tension we are talking about. So be honest about where you come from it will help the discussion.

Second, I have yet to find anyone who has arrived in this discussion. In fact, as you are going to see in a moment, even as I prepare to speak about this biblically on Saturday night, I desire to have enough strength to be honest with those I share with that I too am still tangling with this tension.  Quoting one of my modern day hero's Andy Stanley, "I believe the tension is good." (Catalyst Leadership 2010)

For time's sake, let me make the case that I think for the follower of Christ, 'Calling should be assumed.' To bring clarity to that statement. If we are truly born again believers filled with the spirit of Jesus inside of us, then our Calling is the same as Jesus. To bring life and life to the fullest to the world around us. (John 10)

Let's assume that every time we tell people that God is in control and knows what He is doing that we believe it. Then we consider all the broken-ness around us, how could that be? I believe this falls under Calling. We are called to speak life, bring life, act as Jesus would act towards all mankind especially in it's mess.

With that said, I know of a thousand times that my experience did not match my Calling.  This failure or lack of living out Calling is found in my Character.  Character is a place where I do what I say I am going to do, and act as I say I believe.  The problem for me is that Character depends so much on me. Right? Or does it?

I want to suggest to us that Character is found in the same place that Calling is; "in surrender of our lives to the Spirit of Jesus.'  No doubt I will daily battle my desire to find Character in who "I" am. Paul speaks often about his personal battles against the flesh (Romans 7).  However despite that letter, Paul admits with the same pen "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me." (Galatians 2)

For the follower of Christ then, both Calling & Character are found in daily life in Christ. Calling is no longer in question, it is my reality. Character is no longer a list of to do's it is the gracious gift of overflow and how I live my life. I am called to be a worshipper of Jesus, it is a gift to make time each day to worship him.  I am called to speak life over others, it is a blessing to speak the words of Jesus over them in conversation. Both are found in Christ!

So where is the tension? In fact if we are submitting both to Christ daily then there is no tension between the two.  Since I have yet to arrive in my complete submission to Christ daily and would guess most of you are the same, the tension will exist.

Calling & Character, in Christ you have the right to both! Now go live Full!

By the way, want to join us Saturday night?  Here are the Awakening Details:

Awakening My City

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Little White Room

I came to Christ pretty radically when I was 15. A friend who had listened to my miserable, lost state, decided to share the gospel with me. He was only a freshman in high school; however, his relationship with Jesus, and my desire to have that too, caused my response. Over the next few years, the local church in Cedar Rapids IA, raised me, discipled me, and loved me deeply as I worked through what it meant to be a Christ follower. 

After my first year of college, I returned to Cedar Rapids, and took a break from university. I knew that I was not supposed to be at that school; yet, I did not know what was next. So, I took on a few jobs, worked and waited on the Lord.

There came a point that the Lord began to do something new in my life. My days went like this: I would wake up (no alarm) around 4-5am, and begin to read scripture, pray, worship. Around 7am, I would make my way towards my first job.  I would work throughout the day, one job to the next, and then get home around 10pm, in bed by 11. This was new because I was, and still am, a 7.5-8 hours of sleep sort of guy. To have this daily routine and still be able to function was worth taking note.  

About a month in to this time of pressing in, I had an incredible vision. I was worshiping and found myself inside a little white room. The first time I found myself there, I was kneeling at a pair of feet. My spirit knew instantly who this was, I was at the feet of Jesus. It was a defining moment. Grace poured out, holiness poured out, and I sat, worshiped and soaked it all in.

Over the next 4 1/2 months, I found myself often at the feet of Jesus. Other times I would lay on His lap, like a young child. He would speak life over me in profound ways.  

During this time, I began to understand what the Lord was doing in this period of closeness. In the little white room, I could confess all that weighed on me. Jesus would pour out His spirit on my wounds from childhood. His Holy Spirit was like a salve that removed the arrows, healed the wounds, and made the cracks in my soul, whole.

Often during my times of worship, I would hear Him remind me of the promises that I had studied in His word. Also, I heard Him speaking His plan for my life. Serve, love, give, are just examples of things I remember Him sharing with me. I knew them to be true, because they were all reflections of who he is. As a disciple, I just wanted to be like him.

Birthed out of these intimate moments, I began to feel drawn to Nashville, TN. While I had few acquaintances, there were no real friends; yet, when the time came to obey and go, I went. That obedience step is now coming up on 20 years.  

Over the past 20 years the little white room has come up multiple times in my life. Sometimes I go there in my worship, other times, I am just there in the midst of prayer. Each time, I know that the Lord brings me to this place because he needs to solidify some things in my life. Through intimacy with Him, He prepares me for the next step I am to take on this journey.

As I speak about this place, I want to ask you the question. Do you have an intimate place where you can go and lay in the arms of Jesus? If the concept of a little white room will serve you, then by all means, take this and make it yours. For many of you it is less about a location and more about a position. Sometimes it is the posture or position of one’s heart that causes lack of intimacy with Jesus.   
So let me ask the question another way. Do you trust Jesus enough, not just for salvation, but to give him your whole self, starting with your heart? I can assure you, when you make this choice, your life will be radically altered and transformed by the Spirit of the living God.

My prayer for all of you is that you find a place, where you can be intimate with your King, a place like The Little White Room. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


I have been in my share of youth pastor gatherings and trainings where the question was asked, "Why do you do what you do?", not necessarily just to me, but to the group as a whole.

As I consider one possible answer to that question, I am brought to this thought; we exist to produce echoes.

As you all know, an echo is a fairly simple concept. Someone speaks and then pauses to hear its reverberation in the room, cavern or canyon. The truest joy in the echo, is the number of times in row we hear it repeated. 

Now consider the lives of an American student: rich, poor, black, white, middle or high school. Our teenage students are bombarded by noise throughout the day. In the midst of the thousands of messages that are resounding in the mind and hearts of teens, we find our responsibility to produce something that echoes for the sake of the Gospel.

The scientific research and evidence is overwhelmingly clear that humans do not often intake information as transforming or changing unless they receive it multiple times. Consider the forming of a habit, or the memorization of facts; both of these require repetition to be effective. The same is true in a student’s life on his/her journey toward the gospel. I believe our call is to produce echoes in the hearts and minds of teenagers.

There are other layers of consideration when it comes to echoes.  Early in my time as a YP, I realized I was spending 3-5 hours weekly conveying the gospel message to my students. They would return to a home where real discipleship “should” be happening over multiple hours of interaction. It was evident when parents would echo the messages. My heart broke for those who went to a home where there were no echoes, just silence. Echoes are crucial to the development of true discipleship in a student’s life.

Hopefully, if you are reading this, you are not a "one man" or "one woman" show in the youth ministry you serve. In fact, returning to my original question asked in this article, "Why do you do what you do?". Often the right answer is that our job is to be an equipper of the saints. And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, (Ephesians 4:11, 12 ESV). 

Our job it seems often boils down less to direct contact with students, and more often to the enablement and equipping of adult and student leaders. In this case, as we pour out a consistent message and cast vision of re-stating that message, we once again produce echoes. When it comes to equipping, the reverberation of the vision is crucial. For what we are doing is creating, echoes of echoes.   

For now, I would ask you to take a few minutes, pause ('Selah' if you will) and consider how are you using echoes to the benefit of the Kingdom in your ministry.  Bottom line, like anything, echo is a choice. So make a plan, share it often, and watch the power of echoes work. "The truest joy in the echo is the number of times we hear it repeated."

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

BIG or little...

As Americans, we like to think BIG. BIG ideas, BIG visions, BIG dreams, make for a BIG splash. As I consider this thought, let me state clearly, I do not believe that any of these are wrong; however, BIG in itself has become another religion in our western world. The BIG play, the BIG hit song, or the next BIG thing, BIG is in.

Even in church we celebrate BIG!! More often than not the general population likes to hear from teachers and communicators who lead the largest groups of people.

I would, however, like to throw some caution up in the air and see where it lands. Reality is most of the overnight BIG splashes that I know of do not last very long. One hit wonders, 15 minutes of fame, and other cliché sayings come to mind. So what does the Kingdom say about BIG?

In the Kingdom, the least are the greatest, the first is the last (Mark 10:44). In many of Jesus’ teachings; the general sentiment is the Kingdom is at hand now. Then, followed in the same breath, blessed is the outcast, the last, the least of these. The little, or seemingly insignificant seen to be most important.

If all that is true, then why do some many of us "Christians" celebrate BIG? Or better yet, does celebrating BIG fall in line with our true discipleship in Jesus?

Jesus fed 5000 men one day, probably 13,000 or so people including women and children. With what? A little boy's lunch of 5 loaves and 2 fish. This story has been celebrated thousands upon thousands of times around the BIG things Jesus can, does and will do. Considering what we know about this boy, think about all the little things that had to happen in his life that day. The Mom had to give permission for him to go. She had to make a decision to not let him run to this gathering without food. She had to know something about Jesus or the little boy wouldn’t have been allowed to leave. Without the little, this BIG may not have been recorded.

As Christ followers, I believe we are called to focus on the little things. In fact, I would suggest we are called far more to the little things then the BIG. I can believe BIG, and dream BIG (ask my family, I do). When it comes to how our family chooses to live in our home, it’s the little things that matter most. For in our faithfulness to the little things, starting with focusing on Jesus first each day, BIG, long-lasting, enduring things are built.

Our faith is built on a daily desire to seek Jesus in spirit and truth. Our children are discipled based on daily worship, family scripture-reading, and Sunday church attendance. None of which will probably ever make the news as BIG, but be assured, our family's faith in the living God is huge.

For with God ALL things are possible (Matthew 19). So as you move into this next season of life, what little things need to be aligned or re-aligned in your world? For I am convinced, stay focused on the little things, and the truly BIG things will take care of themselves.

Monday, January 7, 2013

EPIC Resource Group

EPIC is a coaching ministry for local churches and communities across the US. Our resource group believes the hope of America is the local Church and it's heart to reach this generation.

EPIC's goal is to be a catalyst for churches and communities with a passion to serve the secondary schools in their communities with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In America, there are approximately 25 million public secondary school students. According to EPIC's research* there is a gap of 12 million unreached students with the gospel of Christ. We believe this group of students is an 'Army of Hope' waiting to be reached and released to influence the world for Christ.

The local churches or communities that surround these 12 million unreached students are filled with a burden to reach their communities. Many are under-resourced (urban + rural) which has often stalled or hand cuffed the efforts of the message of Christ. The average local church in America is 75-150 people. Most churches this size do not believe they have the resources to provide life changing resource for the students in their community. EPIC's coaching helps churches regain perspective and provide them with hope, strategy, and curriculum to do so for years to come.

EPIC accomplishes this through intensely coaching and resourcing 3 local churches or communities per quarter (12 for the year). Follow up with each local group occurs quarterly for the 9 months following.  All resources will be provided through partnerships with EPIC and the costs associated with their coaching are covered by the EPIC Resource Group.

The outcome is local churches finding new perspective to surround their public secondary schools with the gospel of Jesus, students coming to Christ, and local churches serving their communities in greater ways due to the influx of teenagers being touched by their local ministry.

If you are in a community or part of a local church that EPIC Resource Group could serve, please contact us at

* Through a conglomerative discussion between multiple national youth programs, it is believed that approximately 13 million of the secondary school students in America have a Christian movement reaching out to them with the Hope of Christ each school year. This leaves a 12 million student gap with no plan in place to reach them. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Steve Cherrico - Nashville TN

Steve Cherrico was born in the inner city of Denver, CO and raised in the greater Washington D.C. area. He came to a realization of his need for a Savior after a new friend shared the gospel with him age 15. Within a few short years he was heavily involved in a local youth group, and during his senior year due to unforeseen circumstances, was put in a position of leadership with 3 other high school seniors running the youth ministry they were involved with. 

In 1993, after one year at Iowa State University, he was given the opportunity to move to Nashville, TN. While in Nashville he was heavily involved with Salama ministries, taking 40+ inner city children to camp each summer in the Appalachian mountains, overseeing the camp and leadership team. 

Steve and his wife Jessi, met in the beginning of 1997, and were married about a year later in 1998. While continuing to pursue other endeavors locally in the music and fitness industries, he began to run camps for Christ Church, and came on staff with them in April of 1998. He was added to full-time staff in 1999. 

During his tenor with Christ Church, he was often used as a rebuilder, or reorganizer of student ministries and also had the fortune of leading a church plant for two years in one of the most diverse areas surrounding Nashville, called Antioch. Steve’s wife Jessi was also the Director of Children’s Ministries at Christ Church, from 2000-2003. He has been blessed to oversee just about every facet of ministry from 4th grade to college ministries, keying on raising up leaders to replace him in each area. He is passionate about seeing the next generation walk in the purpose and calling they have been given and coaching them through that process. 

Steve also has a heart for Africa and Haiti, engaging some of the world's toughest 3rd world countries. He is heavily tied to multiple ministries in Africa & Haiti serving orphans, street children, former prostitutes, and students. In 2007, he had the great fortune of leading a group of 27 adult and student leaders on a trip to Kampala, Uganda in partnership with On The Go Ministries and Gaba Community Church in Uganda. He has also taken groups to Ghana through Adopt One Village. In 2012 he lead a group of adults to the brand new My Life Speaks campus in Neply, Haiti. All of these experiences have shaped his heart to reach this next generation for Christ.

Steve completed his (3.5 year) self-study ordination program through the Christ Church / Oral Roberts University partnership in May of 2004. 

In March of 2008, Steve and Jessi, felt the Lord releasing them from Christ Church, and moved to a national staff position with First Priority of America. He serves as a trainer for the local community movements across the country, coaching them through their work locally.

Since coming on staff with First Priority of America Steve has been able to serve the local church across the US through coaching. Locally he has been able to help multiple local churches re-launch their leadership perspective. This includes pastoral and lay leadership training & coaching. As well as student ministry training & coaching. 

This coaching model has allowed him to create a network called the EPIC Resource Group. EPIC strives to serve local communities that believe they are under resourced however as the local church have a desire to impact the secondary schools in their community. Most of these groups are found in very rural or very urban settings across the US. 

Steve and Jessi have 3 multi-racial children, Justus (8), Nate (5) and Corina 15 months, all three are local adoptions from the greater Nashville TN area. As a family they love to play games indoor and out, read together, and enjoy all kinds of music. Steve is also an avid reader, loves to play most sports (especially; basketball, football, tennis, disc golf), and spend time investing into current and future leaders for the Gospel's sake.