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PHOTOSHOP IS REALITY
These days, I believe it is becoming more and more difficult for people to distinguish between what is real and what isn’t. Every now and then, my two oldest kids and I like to look at crazy and hilarious pictures on the internet. The first thing they’ll always ask is, “Are those Photoshopped?”. Outrageous special effects are today’s standard, and as you can imagine, it leaves my kids to snicker and poke at some of the movies and video games I used to enjoy at their age. According to what I observe with my 9 year old son, it doesn’t really matter if something is real or not, as long as it looks cool.
With the gospel being packaged in such a powerful format, it’s authenticity is hardly questioned. I might even be bold enough to say, we might not even care if the message we are hearing is true or not, as long it entertains us. Lets take a deeper look into why we’ve let man build such a flawless veneer to our faith, instead of thrusting ourselves upon the jagged cornerstone of truth.
Our fear of making a judgement call on a pastor’s body of work, especially before committing to his doctrine is daunting. Let’s remove the “thou shall not judge” card from the deck, so we can all ante up and move forward. We don’t have the right to condemn the world but we do have the right to judge a man by his fruits (Matthew 7:20 ESV), especially the ones who we allow to speak into the lives of our family. Then if you really want to split hairs, it states, “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, FIRST take the log out of your own eye, and THEN you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.” (Luke 6:42 ESV) This is beautiful because instead of condemning others with our pride, we approach them with much grace and impart our new heart of repentance.
Christ provides a resolution on how to check the authenticity of a man claiming to be who he says he is. When Jesus ascended down from heaven after his crucifixion, he knew his appearance was different and provided evidence to show the marks of his walk and sacrifice. “When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. (John 20:20 ESV) His hands displayed that he was the Christ they knew, and what an incredible way to display what his purpose was here on earth.
When searching for the pastor that will lead you through discipleship from week to week, one way to check the authenticity of his gospel is to look at his hands. Are they marked with a great burden? Do you see proof that he is not just leading from behind a desk? Is there evidence that he is doing more than “masterminding” a project and overlooking “his” people while “they” serve the community. Look at the life of Christ. He had the lowest position on earth, but we still seem to believe success in the ministry is graduating from youth pastor to senior pastor or from seminary to the ministry of Meetings & Coffee. The church of today doesn’t need another president of an organization, it needs field generals who are willing to die. The world doesn’t need more men that can communicate the gospel with just words and intellect, the world needs more men who can personally demonstrate the gospel by adopting the burdens of the needy. (Matthew 25:31-46 ESV)
As you search your city for the right pastor and church, try to look pass the building or children’s program and find someone who’s hands are dirty with the scent of his community. Protect yourselves from being deceived by a vision which speaks of “what we should do”, and start looking for a visual of what a pastor is already doing on a personal level. Make sure your church is birthed from a mission, not an obligation to a group of missions that were voted on after the church was built. I know pastors will either love or hate this message because it exposes who they really are, but the church body has to be informed about the false gospels of America before we can be purified as His bride. (Galatians 1:6-10 ESV)
In Christ & In Triumph,
It’s been awhile since I last wrote to you. God has been working His will in us as a family. When He called me to bring the homeless youth of America into our home, the two things He instructed of me were to tell my story, and not ask for money. As I’m walking through this, the stories of what God is doing are amazing. Yes, you can live in America and still experience miracles! With the lethal virus of the prosperity gospel running reckless throughout our American churches, I thought God instructed me not to initiate financial support so that people would know I had no ulterior motive, or perhaps I thought it was His way to keep me focused on Him as my provider, not man. While that may have been the case then, God’s purpose always runs deeper than we know. I want to share with you what I’ve learned this far. I hope it encourages you to pick up your cross and chase Jesus.
We run out of food at times and are always close to getting evicted out of the place we live. I’ve been on the phone with many of you as meals where becoming thin and, as the earthly needs of my own children were not being met, but never said a word. And during these times, my family and our teens that God has brought into our lives, remain so grateful for what we do have. During my prayer time in the past, I would always focus on myself and my own family. I’m not saying this is wrong, but let me persuade you to make a shift in the way you might be accustom to seeking God. The deepest part of God’s heart is suffering and aching for his people. The kids here have been through suicide attempts to prostitution and the pain is enormous. It is no wonder God is calling us to know His heart and to know what grieves Him. Many times we think we are also “suffering with Christ” because we are dealing with repercussions and consequences of choices, or the anxiety we feel as we run short on funds at the end of the month. But this is not what it means to suffer with Christ. I am talking about taking on the suffering of someone else’s life and carrying the burden of another person’s pain. God wants us to take on burdens that are bigger than our selfish concerns and sacrificially give of ourselves to them. This is the only way we will ever touch the depths of our Father’s heart. He weeps for the pain of the lost and His heart aches for the less fortunate. God didn’t want me to ask for money to prevent me from becoming the next gospel whore, he did it it so that I would find the depths of His heart.
We have so many needs since we walked away from our income to chase the unwanted of the world. But it’s through our sacrifice and through the suffering of the lives of these kids that we have touched the tears of God. I use to think how blessed I was to live here in America, but now I resent the things that fed my comfortable life, because they have robbed me from knowing the true heart of God. I am praying for God to bring us a great harvest of souls. I have counted the cost and I’m prepared to sacrifice even more, to suffer even more. Challenge me in this, I want you to make yourself uncomfortable this month for someone else. Take on the aguish of another person. Give of yourself sacrificially and ask God to show you His heart. Not a one time effort but endure the burden of someone for 30 days. You tell me if you can’t feel and see a part of God that you’ve never embraced before. Your Father will remain faithful and open up the deepest parts of His heart to you. The more you sacrifice for someone, the deeper that you will touch Him. You will also find that in your suffering, the real prosperity in the gospel is the gift of feeling what God feels.
In Christ & In Triumph,
I believe in having a good work ethic, but a few years back I ran out of steam. For the first time in my life I was lost. I believe all of us reach this point at some time, it just depends on how long our resources last. My self-discipline, self-confidence and the self-serving purpose of my life fed everything but my spirit; the real me inside was dying. As I was at the bottom of my life and couldn’t collect any answers for myself, I remember finally thinking, this is not the end. There was nothing there for me and I didn’t want to go out like that, I wanted to do something, besides die a slow death. My faith deepened as time went on while the soldier inside of me still desired a good fight to feel alive. I started making calls to people I knew and apologizing for my self-serving motives in the past, most never recognized it in me but I recognized it in myself. I would ask, “What I can I do for you? What’s your dream? What do you want to accomplish this year and why?” Not having value left in what I had done, I was forced to see my own value apart from my accomplishments or lack there of. That mind shift immediately began to help me peel away the layers to see the true identity of the people around me. My world started to transform, suddenly I was talking with someone’s son on the phone, having lunch with someone’s husband, having a meeting with some kids father, who was just trying to put food on his family’s table. I grew a heart for them because I knew how it felt to be alone on my journey and I didn’t want anybody else to experience what I had felt. I started digging into their lives and helping them break through the thick glass wall they once built through failure and disappointment. I fell in love with humanity and started to serve it. As they would reveal their need, I became committed to their dreams and their ideas. I put everything I had into to helping them make it happen. I pushed their ideas to the next level as well as provided the tools to be effective. I really wanted people to win. I started asking questions that would help define what they did and how they did it. I was not only branding them, I was branding my fire within them. The power of giving is a force that has no mercy, it’s an aggressive current that absorbs peoples skepticism, doubts and fears.
Something happened to me, I was alive, and without any strength of my own. If I ever think about me, I still feel lost, but it’s just a reminder of what my life is like without the love for other people. What’s funny is that in my time of despair, I would always say. “Something’s gotta give” not knowing that the something was me.
– Pete Orta
“For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more.” – Paul the Apostle