MENU

Evangelism

Have we been asking the wrong question?
Many of us have been asking the question, “What is evangelism?” 

For some of us we immediately think of Billy Graham crusades and massive movements that have truly shaped the faith paradigm of our faith in positive ways. 

For others, it’s talking to the lady on the plane and sharing Jesus with her. 

I think most of us have a frame work in our minds for what we believe evangelism should look like in culture today. 

What if I told you that the fundamental question we have been asking may not be the best question to ask? 

What if we moved away from what evangelism is and towards who does the true work of evangelist. The bible so clearly points to the work of The Holy Spirit which is God’s very presence. 

Jesus is the ultimate evangelist and He has chosen to house His Spirit in all of us.

This fundamental truth is what makes following Jesus so amazing! We don’t have to be spiritual or churchy. We don’t have to be preachy.

We don't have to build ministries to have Kingdom validation.

If you don’t believe me then look no further then John baptizing Jesus in the Jordan River. You know the story. The Holy Spirt comes over Jesus and a voice from heaven says, “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.” 

This may seem like a simple statement from God but it’s actually one of the most powerful moments in scripture. Here is why... 

This is prior to Jesus going into the wilderness and defeating all of Satan’s cheap schemes. This is before He restores sight to a blind man. This is before he raises anyone from the dead. This is before He is the superstar Jesus that we all know and love!

God gave his son FULL approval and FULL power prior to His son doing anything. Evangelism behind when we become aware of Gods presence that lives in us. Our awareness of His is what ignites and informs our service on His behalf.

What if you knew that this same power and approval was resting on you right now in this very moment? Wether you are a speaker with a massive captive audience or you are just trying to share Jesus with your neighbor, this positional realization will change everything. 

Allow God to breathe His approval on your heart today. Let Him evangelize your heart in a new way today. I believe the world needs less religion and rhetoric. They need people who’s hearts have been swept away by the persistent love of Jesus. This is not a one time event or conference. This is a daily commitment to a spiritual baptism. One that gives us clarity to love and serve people like Jesus did! 

I pray that you exhale any sense of duty and inhale what has already been done on your behalf. You will find hope in that place. Rest well. 

Published on by Cassie Littel.

No Comments

Know What You Know

"The man who comes to a right belief about God is relieved of 10,000 temporal problems." -A.W. Tozer

In a world that is driven by emotions and knee jerk reactions, it's important that we, as believers, have a strong hold on what we believe. I have sat with people from every walk of life you can imagine and had deep conversations about God and the current state of the church. I rarely can recall the majority of these conversations, mainly because the majority of them are rooted in temporary emotions and not eternal truths. 

A wise man once told me, "What you believe will dictate what you do."

For so long, I ran from “hot topics” or controversial ideas that I honestly just wasn't sure about. I have recently found such a peace in my heart, my home, and my work by taking some time to flesh out some of my deepest convictions about God. My motive is not to win arguments or chase a degree. My heart longs for deep joy and satisfaction in Christ and in Christ alone. 

How we see God directly affects how we love mankind. I think it's equally important for us to understand how God sees us.

What we believe about God's word will either deepen our trust in Him or cause us more confusion. Allow me to explain!

In 2 Timothy 2:8-9 we see Paul writing to his spiritual son, Timothy. He gives him a couple profound things to stand on concerning his relationship with Jesus.

“...Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead...for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal..." Pause there. Paul's very next words point directly to his deepest beliefs about God. He says, "But the word of God is not bound!"

The Word of God is not bound! Think about that for a second! 

The Word of God is not bound to man's opinion. 

The Word of God is not bound to your sin or sickness. 

It's not bound to your dreams or your circumstances. 

It's not bound to your deepest confusion or your fleeting beliefs. 

Paul's words for Timothy are just as true for us today. Although we willingly "suffer" as criminals for the sake of the gospel and find ourselves at times bound by worldly ideas or philosophies...the Word of God is not bound! 

We need to remember the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. All of our beliefs stem from the fact that Jesus acted on our behalf and took the cross while we were still sinners. If all of our actions are not rooted in this truth, then we will be gravely misled. We will try to build His Kingdom on our desires and that has never gone well for us. 

I want every part of my life to be fueled by the cross. If I allow any other ideas or systems to take priority in my heart, I am confident that I will not be confident in the gospel. 

Our beliefs dictate our actions. In other words, our beliefs have the power to produce deep satisfaction or a lifelong chase of our own sinful desires. 

Published on by Pedro LaTorre.

No Comments

Spiritual Fidgetiness

Recently, I have been on tour serving as the drummer for the amazing band, “Group 1 Crew.” We were right in the middle of a 40 plus city, nationwide tour and I was feeling pretty tired. By this time in the tour, I was still having a rough time getting rest on the bus (tour bus sleeping is an art that I still haven’t fully mastered). I woke up one particular morning to some pretty awesome neck cramps and body aches (insert sarcasm). The whole day was just uncomfortable for me. Every drum I picked up seemed heavier than the day before. Every conversation seemed more difficult than ever. It was like being stuck in a spiritual mud. No food I ate tasted good and it seemed like nothing could satisfy me. We took the stage that night and halfway through the set my good friend and leader of G1C (Manwell Reyes) says boldly on the microphone, “I don’t know about you guys, but I am just grateful to be alive right now.”

In that moment, I could feel my heart pulsing in my neck for what felt like the first time that day (although it had to have been doing that all day, right?). All of my senses became captivated by one simple truth...”I am ALIVE!” 

I feel like so many of us are frustrated and unsatisfied with our current place in life. Whatever happened to the attitude of the old saints that sang, “It is well with my soul?” 
 
I’m curious to know where that type of satisfaction in Christ has gone for my generation and me. Better yet, I am curious to know where that type of peace comes from.
 
Why do I/we find ourselves spiritually fidgety? 
 
For me, the answer to that question has become crystal clear. I am not thankful. Period. I am just not thankful. I believe there may be a direct correlation between our gratitude and our attitude. Between our thankfulness and our ability to enjoy our lives.
 
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed (this is an active choice) on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3) 
 
God wants us as His children to experience peace in every area and circumstance in our lives. So many times we start marching to the wrong tempo. It’s in this place that everything becomes heavy and frustrating. The peace of God guards us if we choose to allow it to! 
 
My father has recently been enduring some challenges with his health. It seems that no matter how bad the prognosis, he has deep gratitude in Christ. He has gotten a piece of true peace. 
 
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard (safety comes from time spent with Jesus) your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7) 
 
Colossians 3:15 says, “And let (it’s an active choice/allow) the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. (having gratitude about our position with God through Jesus Christ)”
 
Gratitude can be seen as a positional or experiential experience. An attitude of gratitude is directly connected to whether or not the peace of God is THE ruling motive of our hearts. 
 
Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving (with gratefulness) let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Peace of God is different from Peace with God.

The peace ‘with God’ is positional. (Jesus accomplished this one)

The peace ‘of God’ is experiential. (We actively get to pursue & experience this one)

Some of us get that we have peace ‘with God’ but haven’t experienced the ‘peace of God’ that only comes from time spent with the Word and very presence of our Savior. 

I challenge you (and myself) to take some time to observe our lives. 

Take a second to (Selah or pause) and be grateful. 

It’s when we start thanking God that we realize our own inability to be satisfied by anything else but His Word and His very presence. We have peace with God because of Jesus, but the peace of God comes from our daily time spent in communion with our Father. 

The piece we are missing is peace! True peace is directly connected to our gratitude and will dictate our attitudes. 

It’s hard to have a bad attitude about anything when you are thankful for everything.
 
May you experience true Shalom. 

Peace. 

Fullness. 

The absence of spiritual agitation and fidgetiness. 

Lacking nothing. 

Peace. 

Published on by Pedro LaTorre.

No Comments

The Setup In Our Serving

If there is one thing I have learned it’s that everyone wants the fruit, but few want to labor.

I was young and serving as an unconventional youth pastor in Fort Myers, Fla. It was unconventional because we met in a roller skating rink and bussed kids in from the inner city. I loved getting to hang with students and share Jesus with them week in and week out. However, I had many passions in my life such as music and traveling that seemed so distant and yet important all at the same time. I remember meeting with several friends and expressing this tension. Some of my friends would tell me to quit the youth pastor gig and chase those passions. Some of my friends told me be faithful with where God had me and trust that whatever desires are from Him will survive. Both options had their own set of frustrations.

If I can just be really honest for a second, I would tell you that both options seemed like dead ends. I hated the idea of waiting. I think we all have seasons of waiting and not understanding why God’s promises seem so stale and powerless over our current situations. Here is a refreshing sip of God’s truth for your heart. Are you ready?

A piece of fruit is the result of harsh weather conditions, hot sun, overflowing amounts of water, deep roots and constant pruning.

God wants our lives to bear fruit. So he sends us through seasons of dependence and loving service to the people around us.

That roller skating season was setting me up for a new season. Sometimes the setup is for a new job, or a new relationship that will be formed, or for you to mature in your faith. Sometimes the setup is about deepening our dependence on Christ. I don’t always understand these seasons, but I have a deep conviction that they are for our good and for His glory. 

One day a Christian hip-hop artist needed a cool location to film a music video called, “Stuck in the 80’s.” He reached out to the rink owner and she allowed him to film his video on location. Can you guess who was asked to serve him pizza? That would be me! He asked me to join him for overly cheesy pizza and we began a really cool relationship that day. A short time later, I auditioned to be his drummer and ventured into the world of music. I spent five years learning from “KJ52” and touring the country as his drummer.

It’s easy to hear that story and think that I was somehow deeply spiritual in knowing where God was leading me, but the truth is...I was lost! I just was crazy enough to keep working hard and committing every effort and ounce of strength I had to the Lord. I learned that serving God is less about service and is more about belief. When you believe in God, you serve Him and you obey Him even when others tell you to go a different direction. Oftentimes it's believing even when your own heart wants you to go a different direction. If you are serving God because you just want the blessing, you have already missed the blessing of serving God. Look at the end of this verse in Colossians. 

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

Who we serve is what makes this life so beautiful. It’s all for Jesus! 

I was in an internship shortly after high school that afforded me some amazing opportunities. One of those opportunities was to serve bands when they came to preform at our church in Southwest Florida. It was another situation in which God gave me an opportunity to serve and do it with excellence. On one occasion, a brand new band called “Group 1 Crew” was performing and I was in charge of setting up and tending to their green room backstage. It would be a long time before I would see why God let me cross paths with “Group 1 Crew,” but I now I see it clearly. I currently serve as the drummer for “Group 1 Crew” and we are privileged to be on a tour right now with “Big Daddy Weave” and Tim Timmons. I am not telling you this so you can be impressed by something I have done. I want you to be encouraged in your current circumstances. Rather than praying for bigger opportunities, I challenge you to pray for the strength to treat every moment with excellence.

Our strength and security is in the who. Now before you get hasty in trying to correct my grammar, that wasn't a mishap. Who we serve is everything. We can trust in the promises of His word because the One who is making the promises is good for it. There is no doubt that the promisor will be faithful in honoring His word. He is for you and He goes before you. 

Published on by Pedro LaTorre.

No Comments

Like It or Not

Like it or not, it’s coming your way. I can’t tell you how to deal with it. I can’t even tell you how long it will take you to discover it. Truthfully, it will probably discover you.

Criticism. 

I can assure you that at some point in your life you will deal with a certain level of criticism from another human being. Maybe it’ll be a perfect stranger or maybe a close friend. 

I do believe that God allows things into our lives to sharpen, shape, and steer us. But I am also convinced that we have to be a little more aware of the sources, effects and outcomes of all criticism.  

I recently realized that criticism could become an invisible but powerfully restricting prison. It’s important that we are in a position to receive, filter and grow from ALL types of criticism. 

A lot of times in ministry or even just everyday life we are confronted with crucial moments of choice in regards to negative criticism. If you’re like me, your knee jerk reaction is to combat criticism with defensive statements or broken questions of confusion. 

Why are we so easily affected by comments, critiques, and suggestive conversations? 

Maybe we don’t trust the person who is doing the talking.

Maybe we deeply value the opinions of others.

Maybe it’s that we want everyone to like us. 

Maybe we feel like the criticism is all true. 

Maybe we know it’s all false.

Maybe it’s pride. 

Maybe it’s fear. 

Whatever the case, I have discovered some attributes of criticism that seem to be universal. 

Negative criticism attacks our character not our content.

Years ago, I was asked to speak at a youth event and I was excited. Within minutes of climbing off of the stage, I received some pretty intense criticism from a gentleman. I remember feeling like I had done my very best in terms of preparation and delivery. However, in this case, my best was not even close to someone’s expectations.

At that point in my journey, I really didn’t have any sort of road map that could even guide me through the emotions and frustration. But now in hindsight, I have learned some things about criticism. I hope they help you in your moments of weakness and confusion. 

Negative criticism zooms in and overwhelms our perspective with negativity.

I believe that criticism has a unique power that, when handled with care, can be very helpful to our lives. Criticism has the power to strip us from a comfortable place and move us into a very honest space. 

Criticism wants marriage when it only deserves a phone call. In other words, we sometimes allow it to attach to who we are forever instead of being just a brief moment of interaction.

Criticism stinks. It just does. It hurts. It never feels good to have someone give you negative critiques. However, the most crucial moments in my life were often because of comments, critiques, and conversations. We can’t allow our minds to dwell on the negativity that may be coming in from various sources. 

Here is my filter:

1. Lord, who do you say I am? (before I address the opinions of a stranger I consult with the one who saved me)

2. Lord, show me the truth. (we are not above correction, but we are above allowing correction to capture us and not catapult us) 

3. Lord, I just want to be like you. (making sure that my heart at the end of the day is postured in the direction of Christ is crucial) 

We can’t grow if we don’t learn to listen to the critiques. Notice I didn’t say “believe” or “trust” the critiques. Listening is the true origin of all learning. If we just got real for a second, I think we would all agree on this one idea.

We are often our worst critic. Comparison sneaks in. Competition challenges us to be better or more successful than others at whatever the cost. That is why I think it’s important for us to establish a personal filter that is both spiritual and practical in nature.

Do you want to know what happens to us when we don’t learn to appropriately filter negativity? 

We become critics. Experts at everything, and desperate to tell and show the world how much we know (or at least how much we think we know).

Maybe you have met some of these people?

You can’t bring up how good a concert was or how much you enjoyed a certain book without this person giving you a dissertation that typically ends with you feeling like a lost sinner. 

Many critiques become factories of negativity, jealousy, and deceit. The worst thing is, they don’t even see it happening. In fact, they feel justified. 

When you become the critic, you have a hard time learning. You build fortified walls in the name of emotional safety and arrogant stability. When we do this we keep everyone and every experience at arms length away.

Learning becomes a thing of the past. 

So what’s the answer?

In a time long ago, kings would sit upon their thrones and have full days dedicated to words of encouragement. They would literally have people from their kingdom speak only positive things to and about them all day long. Some of us wish that we had people like this in our lives. Some of us may even unknowingly be surrounding ourselves with people who only say positive things about us. 

We have to have both sides of the coin. The kings of long ago had discovered this truth. They knew that positivity alone is just as deadly as negativity alone. They would also hire a man to speak humbling words to them all day to equalize their perspective. This hired helper would stand beside the king and whisper in his ear, “You are just a man.” The kings knew that balance was important.

I believe we all need balance. We need people who will be honest and straight up even when it hurts. We also need people who will build us up with positivity and encouragement. 

The reality is that we will never be in control of what others do or say. That’s why your filter is key.

Have you encountered criticism that has left you frozen and unsure of what to believe?

Do you have a way of sifting through the hate mail?

I challenge you to create a filter that is not built around fear.

Don’t let anything steal your joy. At the end of the day your heavenly Father is growing you and believe it or not, He is growing your worst critic as well! Take heart.

Published on by Pedro LaTorre.

No Comments

Transition is Forward Progress

Transition is forward progress. 

True or False?

I have to cling to this truth, especially in this season. 

Transition is forward progress. 

I said those words to a friend recently, I’m not sure if they’re the words he needed to hear, but it was certainly the words I needed!

In basketball, it's a pivot. In football, it's a spin move off your defender. In a car, it's a U-turn. 

In real life, it can be one of the most difficult things to endure: transition.

Transition comes in all shapes and sizes.

Losing a family member. Going to a new school. Getting paid less or more.

Transition can be very scary. 

My wife and I just moved our entire lives to California.

My wife and I just moved our entire lives to California. 

(This picture pretty much sums up some of our feelings) 

No matter how many conversations we had while in Florida, we still had our doubts and moments of "what the freak are we doing."

I sat with a friend recently and said these words to him, "transition is still forward progress." I am not sure if that helped him at all but it was good for my heart.

Scripture reminds us of this many times.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Transition is God's way of deepening our dependence.  

Some of us struggle with transitions or choices that are within our control. I would venture to say the majority of us struggle with those things that are outside of our control. Maybe some of us put too much weight on transition and not enough weight on our hearts through the transition. 

I have seen myself go through storms and difficult times (transitions) while keeping my heart closed off to learning and growth. 

I believe it's extremely important for us to be submitted to the word of God, so that we can continue to learn from the voice of God.

Some of you may be struggling to make a big life decision that could potentially transition you into the unknown. My advice to you is very simple.

God isn't looking for you to make a "right" choice as much as He is looking for your heart to be in the right place.

That probably sounds like work to most of you but it's really just the opposite. God's word shines direct light onto the dark parts of our hearts. Allow Him to grow your heart in times of transition. Allow Him to deepen your dependence and faith. Lean on this truth. It's less about what you do and more about who you are.

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)

My prayer is that transition becomes an invitation to apply our knowledge of God’s Word. 

Be blessed and be a blessing. 

Published on by Pedro LaTorre.

No Comments

Insta Point and Shoot


 Recently, I was going back through all of my Instagram pictures and couldn't help but smile. 

I so easily forget how good God is to me. The places I have gone. The people I have met. The relationships that have been formed. The late night conversations in random hotels. The early morning inside jokes that are for some reason no longer half as funny as the night before. The men who have challenged me to lead my wife the way Christ is leading the church. Moments that I tend to forget so easily.

I find myself asking God to do things every day. To show up and be my personal "on call super hero." To kick down barriers and provide money. To reassure my faith and grow my dependence. But if I am being honest, my heart hates being dependent. I hate feeling like I am in need of something for life. I pray for God to show up, but work as though it’s up to me. I struggle to believe God can handle my smallest problems, let alone my big ones. I guess you can just call me “a human.” This is our struggle.

Instagram does something powerful to us if we let it. It provides a reminder of the grace, provision, and goodness of our Father. I know some of you super Christians probably just got offended, so I will now drive this home. If Instagram can provide us with such a powerful reminder, how much more can God’s Word be a reminder for us? One thing I have noticed about Instagram is that I can only see moments in the past. I can't refresh the feed for the future, and if I could…I would!

God's word provides hindsight, insight, and foresight. It provides a reminder of the past, a solution for the present, and provision for the future. God’s word is for now and later.

Let’s take this to a whole new level.

What if our faith and dependence on Christ were as evident and consistent as our Instagram feeds?

What if we ran around longing to capture the beauty of God’s hand gently combing it's way through our hearts?

What kind of moments would you capture?

What kind of moments do you and I miss?

What kind of moments would others double tap on to assure how beautiful of a moment that was?

Never has a generation been able to record so much and forget so much all at the same time. 

In the book of Joshua, God assures and reminds Joshua that He now posses the same anointing that Moses had. God used the Instagram of Moses (his past moments of provision) to remind a future leader of the goodness of God. All that Moses had been through despite his weaknesses now serves as encouragement for Joshua. 

I pray that you capture moments of God’s goodness. More importantly, I pray that you don't take credit for those moments, but that you use them to point to the God of Joshua, Moses and Instagram. 

Point and shoot towards the grace of God and you will never need a filter.  

Published on by Pedro LaTorre.

No Comments

Creativity vs. Content

We tend to marvel at creativity and overlook a lack of content. This is not limited to speakers or artists alone by any means. We all do this in hundreds of different ways, nearly everyday. We do it with food, revealed in statements like, “But it tastes so good” or “I know its bad for me but...” We do it with music, coming out in statements like, “I know this song is bad, but it’s so catchy” or “I don’t really listen to the words, I just really dig the beat.” 

I was recently in a restaurant with some family and found myself entertaining the youngsters at the table with really lame magic tricks. I was making salt and pepper shakers disappear under napkins and they reacted like I was Houdini! They were so mesmerized by my tricks that when I wanted to teach them how to do them they didn’t want to learn. This blew me away. How could you not want to learn how to stump all your friends at school? I am convinced that sometimes we would just rather act dumbfounded. We do this so much that it has become a normal part of our character as though its okay. Other times I think we act this way because we are enthralled by something sinful and maybe even entertained by it. Before you start thinking I am writing some stiff, preachy, self-righteousness post, allow me to be vulnerable for a moment. 

I recently came across an artist whose sound not only caught my ear, but also won the attention of my heart. This artist talks about some really hot topics in his music and his very weathered intellect has had me captivated for the last month or so. I kept saying to people that I really loved his “authenticity” or “introspection." I was so moved by his creativity that I began to be okay with his very skewed content. I remember saying things like, “Man, I wish Christian artists were this transparent and well spoken.” 

As I write this, I am sitting on the 22nd floor of a hotel in Chicago and the sun is creeping its way towards my window. I find myself reminded of something I read recently in the book, “Why We Love The Church” by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck.

 “The Bible is all for honesty, truth, and sincerity, but authenticity is something a little different. If authentic is simply the opposite of fake, contrived, and hypocritical, then I’m all for it. But godliness demands a lot more than just being real. In fact, godliness demands that we stop acting like we want to and start acting like Christ. I sometimes find, especially among my peers, that authenticity is not a self-abasing means of growing in holiness but a convenient cover for endless introspection, doubt, uncertainty, anger, and worldliness. So that if other Christians seem pure, assured, and happy we despise them for being inauthentic. Granted, the church shouldn’t be happy-clappy naive about life’s struggles. Plenty of psalms show us godly ways to be real with our negative emotions. But the church should not apologize for preaching a confident Christ exhorting us to trust Him in all things. Church is not meant to foster an existential crisis of faith every week, nor are we justified in leaving church because there seem to be too many answers offered to our questions. Belief is not the enemy of authenticity.”

The world will hand you many lies, but God handed us Himself...authentic and perfect. Truth in the flesh. 

Published on by Pedro LaTorre.

No Comments

Silent Stepdads

Take a moment to read Matthew 1:16-25.

(v. 16) Did you know this is the only entry in the entire genealogy where the word begot is not used, including those where whole generations were skipped.

(v. 18) Mary becomes pregnant by the Holy Spirit.

Can you imagine how Joseph must have felt? Broken with a side of broken is how he felt.

Being broken often allows us to see beauty.

Joseph is left with 3 choices:

1. Stone her (but he was “a just man” which means he was a true believer in God)

When looking for a mentor, use this as criteria. Pray that God would lead you to “just men, men who are true believers.

2. Divorce her (even though they were engaged it was Jewish custom to dissolve the engagement)

When looking for a mentor, use this as criteria. Pray that God would lead you to someone who is not concerned with tradition but rather with truth. 

3. Stay married (this would cause people to assume that they had sex prior to marriage)

When looking for a mentor, use this as criteria. Pray that God would lead you to people who are more concerned with obedience then appearance. 

Joseph has no lines in this story. He simply listens and obeys. I long to live like Joseph, the silent stepdad who was completely focused on Jesus. I long for more mentors in my life who can remind me of the goodness of obedience. I long to be a reminder to someone else that they don't have to have all the right things to say. 

The marks of a great mentor:

Joseph is compassionate (v. 19) 

Joseph is patient (v. 20)

Joseph is obedient (v. 24) 

Joseph is unashamed (v. 24)

In Joseph’s interaction with Jesus, he obtained the necessary tools that he needed to reach people with the gospel. It is no different for us today. As we seek to live in line with the gospel, we obtain compassion, patience, obedience and we become free to live unashamed.

Pray that silent stepdads would enter your life. For men and women who can challenge you in the gospel of obedience. People who long to see you surrender!

Published on by Pedro LaTorre.

No Comments

Radioactive

I looked up what “radioactive” means, but I still have no idea what it means!

I just saw the words, “spontaneously unstable.” I could relate to these words because my whole life has been unstable.

Unstable doesn’t mean crazy, although I have had my fair share of crazy! Unstable means that I need something to lean on...someone perhaps. I need something strong enough to handle a spontaneously unstable heart. 

I know this isn’t the typical blog filled with wit and catchy repost-able material.

Here’s the deal...

I don’t want to look or act perfect. I don’t want to have the perfectly composed tweet everyday. I hate that culture pushes me to perfection in myself.  

I want to be radioactive. Our Creator is far too big for us to be living so small. Our Father is way too in control, for us to be acting like we somehow are.

You want to know how perfect I am? I am so perfect that the almighty, all-powerful God had to send His perfect Son Jesus to a cross to die a brutal death. 

Sometimes I think about Jesus on the cross. I picture myself with my knees pressed down into the cold sand. I picture my snot and tears pouring from my face and clumping on the ground. I try to think of what I would say to Jesus, the one dying for my sin, the one paying the price for my blatant disobedience. 

I still have yet to figure out what I would say and for some reason, I am okay with that...I am ok with realizing I am insufficient. I am coming to the realization that my words can’t change a thing and that my heart is just spontaneously unstable. 

I embrace grace in my instability as my new radioactive/contagious identity points to Christ.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

The grace of God came and infected my life with a cure. Not a counterfeit. Not a trial run. Not a taunting taste on the tip of a dry tongue. A cure.

I want to live radioactive. I want to spontaneously emit the cure to everyone I converse with and everyone I serve. 

Published on by Pedro LaTorre.

No Comments

New York State of Fear

"Take a step back sir."

Those were the words that I heard when I stepped foot into my first art gallery.

As I geared up for my recent trip to New York for a week of school assemblies, I was nervous. Everyone knows that New Yorkers can be brash, abrasive, and strong willed. I was afraid that my jokes weren't going to be funny enough or that my story wasn't extreme enough. I really couldn't see the whole picture. I couldn't see the reality that for whatever reason God had brought me to New York. 

I have sat with leaders and artists from all over the country who have told me that I should never go to New York unless I really wanted to be discouraged. 

My first day in the city, I met with leaders and asked them to give me their impressions of the culture. They confirmed for me what so many others had warned me of, "These kids are going to be rough, bro."

As I drove down the busy streets of New York, every piece of graffiti on a bridge made me nervous. Every time I looked at a tall building or saw people hustling on the streets, I pictured myself choking under pressure.

Sometimes being a little bit intimidated helps you become better. 

I ended up speaking at four schools in New York. I met some incredible young people. We had a massive concert event where we invited students from all over Queens, New York to come here the gospel...and they did. 

Sometimes you have to take a step back and realize who is painting the picture. If you were the brush chosen for a particular painting, don't live in fear thinking you are not good enough. You are the brush for this portion of the story.

The story of eternity is so much larger than what happened in New York. Students gave their lives to Jesus for the first time. They are getting plugged into a healthy thriving church community. 

God was glorified in New York. Period. 

If you are afraid of something God is calling you to, I encourage you to take a step back and realize that the story is massive! Let that be a reminder of who is writing it and let God use you. If you were the brush chosen for a particular part of the story, take confidence in the one painting the picture. 

Published on by Pedro LaTorre.

No Comments

Keep Reading

 

What if we lived as though we truly believed people who didn't know Jesus were going to hell?

Romans 13:8 hit me right between the eyes recently. It says, "Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law."

My friends over at the Los Angeles Dream Center have a phrase for this, "Love people until they ask, why?"

I believe that Christ-like love is boldly evident and completely sacrificial.

We love people best, when we are exploring the overwhelming depths of Christ’s love for us, both personally and consistently. 

I love that this verse contradicts itself right from the jump, "Do not owe anyone anything, EXCEPT..."

Often times, we stop before we get to those key mandate words, (but, except, however...)

It said, "Your salvation [Pedro] does not exclude you from being a sinner, it includes you in God's redemptive story of grace."

The moment we forget that Christ died for us is the moment we remove ourselves from the story of grace. I am not trying to imply pre-destination or any sort of theological meaning to this...I am merely touching on the fact that we are sinners who have fallen short.

We have been mandated to love one another; therefore we can't remove ourselves from needing and relying on Christ's love for us. 

Sometimes, I try to love people my own way. It always ends ugly. I try to love my wife in my own way; it ends up being poison to our marriage. But when I daily recount God's love for me and remind myself that grace forces me into God's redemptive story, then and only then can I love well. 

My pastor recently said, "You bring nothing to your relationship with Christ except the sin that makes it necessary." 

This statement shouldn't discourage us. If anything it should help us lean on the fact that the gospel is the power of God, for the salvation of everyone who believes. (Romans 1:16)

This causes me to point people to Christ and love people in light of my own personal reliance on Him. 

The law was given to convict us of sin and remind us that we will never measure up. It's from this place we see God's love and can't help but love others in the same way. 

Are we allowing the implications of our sin to keep our hearts fixed on Christ in such a way that we can't help but give the world what we owe them: Christ-like love?

Published on by Pedro LaTorre.

No Comments

The Stage Drug

The stage is a dangerous place for humans. Everyone I know that stands on a stage, without exception has and most of the time is, enduring some serious tension. 

I am not talking about a muscle cramp or some superficial body aches. I am talking about gut wrenching, painful tension.  

The definition of tension is “the act or action of stretching or the condition or degree of being stretched to stiffness.”

Being stretched to stiffness...yeah, that doesn’t sound good at all!

When I began speaking at a young age, I thought that the stage would be a place of safety. I couldn’t have been more wrong. 

The most potentially dangerous place for both the believer and the non-believer is under the spotlight. 

I once heard a close friend say that, "The stage is addictive." So we have two elements at play here: addiction to the stage and tension surrounding the stage. 

The definition of addiction is “the continued use of a mood altering substance or behavior despite adverse dependency consequences.”

Tension + Addiction = being stretched to stiffness and feeling trapped. 

Not exactly the kind of math problem that adds up to success. 

If someone would have just tapped me on the shoulder right before the first time I stepped on stage and said, “Look bro, this is going to hurt and eventually you may find yourself addicted,” I may have ran like those crazy guys that get chased by bulls!

A trophy allows you to experience a fleeting past emotion. A certificate usually finds its way behind a filing cabinet. A text eventually gets erased, no matter whom it’s from. 

The stage “promises” a momentary satisfaction and somehow excuses you from thinking about its many traps.

How do we handle this predicament? I believe the beginning of Psalm 1 holds a lot of weight for stage goers and we can use it to check our lives and hearts.

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked nor stands in the way of sinners nor sits in the seat of scoffers, but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:1-2)

1. Don’t surround yourself with wickedness or people chasing sin.

This may blur your perception of the purpose of the platform you are called to steward. This doesn’t mean we should run away from sinners unless, of course, you plan on outrunning yourself! We should just keep a close eye on who we keep close.  

2. Delighting in Gods law by meditating on it day and night.

This also means choosing to follow Christ when our emotions or tendencies are pulling us down a different road. 

The stage can become an addictive place of tension if it is separated from God’s grace and guidance. However, tension is something God has always used to refine the believer and non-believer. 

Whatever your “stage” may be and however massive your influence becomes, don’t ever believe that it’s better, bigger or sweeter then Jesus.

What is your stage or place of influence? 

What areas of your influence could become addictive? 

Are you willing to live in the tension?

Published on by Pedro LaTorre.

No Comments

Don't Jump, Join

Are you sick of feeling confused about the gifts God has given you?

Do you feel frustrated and pulled into different directions?

If you said, “yes” to either or both of the above questions, then you and I have something in common. So many of us wish that Jesus would spread the clouds open and hand us a blueprint to our futures. 

Well at least I do!

Maybe you’re like me and on the edge of making some huge decisions that could alter your life forever. I am urging you: "Don't jump." Take a step back and take a deep breath. God is at work in and around you.  

The pressure to perform for Jesus was taken off our shoulders at the cross. Our new task is to join what God is already doing in the world.

Look around you right now...are you missing opportunities to display Christ in your community? 

Sometimes we become so distracted by good things that we miss Godly opportunities. Some of us get so distracted by our own failures that we miss Godly opportunities. 

A quiet lie that I have been wrestling with is the idea that it's my task to save the world.

The truth is I can't save the world. Heck, I can't even save money half the time.

The deeper truth is the only thing you and I bring to our relationship with Christ is the sin that makes it necessary.

Don't jump into the hustle of decision-making and get yourself into a race you will never win.  

Join the movement of grace.

What does that mean?

It means God is enough and His desire for your life has nothing to do with “your dreams.”

It's about Him using you to accomplish His dreams. 

Let that sink in; I will be doing the same. (Mark 16:15 is His dream...let's get to work)

In what ways can you join what God is already doing around you?

Published on by Pedro LaTorre.

No Comments

Dumped By Delta

Recently, I was flying from Florida to Tennessee to play a large concert at The University of Tennessee.

Like most, I hate paying to check a bag. I feel like airlines are robbers in really nice outfits who steal my money and leave me some stale peanuts. With that being said, I packed my book bag and carry-on bag like my life depended on it. I watched a couple of reruns of MacGyver just to make sure every square inch was utilized.

As I walked through security, I quickly observed that I was getting a bag check.

I'm fine with a bag check, but this dude took my suitcase and turned it upside down. It looked like a 7-year-old’s birthday party when the kid smashes the candy out of the piñata.

He said, "Do you have anything sharp inside this bag that could harm me?" I responded with a dab of frustration, "It's not looking like it."

Sometimes we act this way with our hearts. We pack every square inch like we are playing "family vacation Tetris" in the back of the mini-van. If you're like me, you hate having your luggage overturned and rummaged through.

It's an invasion of privacy and it’s inconvenient.

I am writing this in the airport as I wait for my flight.

I am thinking about the gospel and more specifically, Jesus dying on a cross for sinners like you and me. I am thinking about all of the sharp objects that sit dormant in the confines of my heart. Jesus knows what it's like to be violated and disrespected.

Honestly, to even draw a parallel between my suitcase and Jesus on the cross feels a little weird, but it paints a clear picture about the rhythm of the Kingdom.

In the Kingdom of Heaven, it is standard protocol to have our hearts searched. It may seem frustrating and inconvenient, but it's for the best for everyone.

God searches the hearts for the safety and growth of all who are willing and wanting to be on his plane.

Trust Him. He's got a pretty good record, unlike Delta!

When was the last time you asked God to search your heart?

Published on by Pedro LaTorre.

No Comments

Opportunity Kills People

Have you ever heard the statement, “When it rains, it pours?”

Thought so.

I think this phrase is often used when someone stubs their toe and then almost simultaneously gets a call that their child has the flu.

I have had my fair share of rainy days and I am sure you have as well.

Opportunity often seems to come in waves and sometimes tsunamis.

I will spend months thinking, praying, and planning, yet feeling like there are no opportunities in any direction.

Sometimes it feels like I should buy a house in a neighborhood full of dead end cul-de-sacs just to reinforce this feeling!

The ironic thing about opportunity is that when you have none, you just want one. And when you have a ton, you’re just stressed out.

Options are great if you’re at a buffet, but in the real world they more times than not will leave you frustrated and confused.

Why?

Options cause us to ask questions. Sadly, they don’t have a mouth and they will not talk back.

Options make us feel needed. This sounds great until your ego inflates like a hot pocket.

Options cause us to “rubber neck.” Every second you’re not looking forward is a chance for you to miss what’s in front of you, both the good and the bad.

Options cause us to believe that a choice has to be made, NOW.

Options give us dreamy eyes, like a 17-year-old girl who is watching, “The Vow” and “The Notebook”…at the same time. Dangerous!

Options are not evil, but they should be handled with care.

Recently, I have been in the ring, wrestling with opportunity. Actually if I am being honest, I have been wrestling with a question: “How far is too far?”

Before you get all worried, you should know that I am married, just to clear up any speculations.

What I mean is: “How far should I allow these opportunities to pull me before I kill myself with thinking and over analyzing?”

I have developed a simple filter through which all of my opportunities now pass.

1. Is this credible and concrete? (or just fluff)

2. Does this line up with my gifts, my passions, my goals, my beliefs?

3. What does my wife think? (listen to what she is and isn’t saying)

4. How much space will it take up? (my time, my attention)

5. Why me, why now? (I pray and listen)

Find a filter that works for you so you can keep your eyes on what’s ahead and not allow opportunity to kill you. Good things can weigh us down.

What opportunities are choking the life out of you right now?

focus, latorre, opportunity, pedro, questions

Published on by Pedro LaTorre.

No Comments

Stepping On Toes...OUCH

What if I told you that some of our biggest moments of growth will be marked by discomfort?

I lost my Dad when I was 7. (To an ugly divorce)

I lost my arm when I was 17. (Both are still there…well…kind of)

I lost my dreams many times. (Still trying to salvage some and let go of others)

I lost my job. (Solved this by working for myself)

I lost my mind…if were being honest, today.

My biggest moments of growth have always; yes always, involved discomfort on some level.

All of the things I listed above can be summed up by saying, “Ouch, you’re stepping on my toes.”

If I were writing my story, my Dad and Mom wouldn’t have gotten a divorce.

If I were writing my story, my torn rotator and labrum would not have interrupted my baseball career.

If I were writing my story, I would never lose a job, a dream or my mind.

We often perceive moments of interruption as a detour, when in fact; it may be God bringing us back from a detour.

I don’t know what you are chasing.

I don’t know what you are thinking will satisfy you.

But I do want to encourage you by saying, maybe the job that fell through or the dream that died a brutal death is all a part of a bigger story.

A story that involves you being in the right place at the right time.

A story that may be marked by moments of discomfort and a story that will be lathered in a life well lived.

If we were put on this planet to love God and love people…

If our chief goal in life is to bring Him glory…

Then let God and people step on your toes. The growth will come soon after the pain!

pedro

Published on by Pedro LaTorre.

No Comments

"I'm Quirky & I Know It"

Not everyone can be the quarterback screaming at the offensive line.

As a matter of fact when I was in high school I possessed all of the physical traits for being a great quarterback. But according to my coaches I lacked one important trait...

I wasn't VOCAL enough.

I wasn't vocal enough?

For many years growing up many people thought I was not interested in the game or the event because I didn't have enough chest hair...

I just wanted to see if you were listening!

Truth is...I was very interested.

Not everyone is an extravert and just because you are an introvert doesn't mean you can't be an effective leader. As a matter of fact, introverts are highly gifted thinkers, dreamers and doers; not in spite of their temperaments but because of them.

Steve Jobs is probably one of the most pioneering introverts of the 21st century. His ability to dream, create, and analyze data is what made him a successful human being.

The most intriguing element of being an introvert is one's ability to listen.

Most introverts are pretty sound listeners and because of that, they process large amounts of information and can make sound decisions when under pressure.

Ghandi was noted as a silent leader. His movement proves a very simple but often overlooked concept...

People can't read words as clear as they can your actions.

You can say all you want, but your actions are like the HD TV flat screen in the back of Best Buy, BIG...Clear...Riveting.

Francis of Assisi said it best, "Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words."

Your words are merely the angle at which you want people to see things, your actions take people's hand and allow them to feel the angle for themselves.

My father in law said it best while we were in Orlando recently on vacation.

"If the food don't smell good, then what's the point of eating eating it?"

The fruit of our lives should be a sweet aroma to not only God but to the world. People don't buy into principals but they do long to be apart of a movement.

Movements don't require certain personality types.

Movements don't require certain personality traits.

Despite the thousands of conferences that will push you towards a cookie cutter leadership style that often excludes the quiet introverted personalities, God uses the following:


The loud/The fake/The real/The lazy

The quite hipster chillin in the back of your local Urban Outfitters or Zumiez.

This is for the introvert that feels called to evangelism.

The world needs more people that are able to listen as much as others speak.

This is for the extrovert that feels called to discipleship.

The world needs people that can passionately and honestly convey the gospel over a cup of coffee.

The world needs you.

Right now.

Stop reading...

GO.

GO.

 

latorre, leaders, pedro, personalities, speakers

Published on by Pedro LaTorre.

No Comments

Modern Day Collision - Where Do Faith and Twitter Intersect?

What could Twitter and your faith possibly have in common? 

The moment you stumble on someone else's Twitter page you will run across 3 main categories. 

These categories speak volumes to potential followers. The 3 categories are as follows:

1.) Tweets- (This let's people know that you may talk too much)

2.) Following- (This tells everyone that you may be desperate for relationships, like E Harmony desperate)

3.) Followers- (This shows the world how valuable your thoughts really are)

I know it's a little humorous when you break down twitter into those elements, but just follow me for a moment (pun not intended). 

I have viewed literally thousands of twitter profile pages and one thing always jumps out at me. 

Perhaps you have thought it as well?

"We really should be more mindful of who we are following."

Please understand I am not trying to say that twitter is a flawless simulation of life, so therefore it's impossible to draw too many comparisons. However, there may be a spiking trend we can glean some wisdom from. 

When I first joined twitter, I wanted to follow everyone! For crying out loud, I think I even followed Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber. Actually, I may still be following them, they are interesting youngsters! 

After about a year of following everything that came into my 'twittersphere' I started to get really frustrated. I realized the people I was following were actually tweeting. I know, go figure right? Yeah, I actually had to hear about there every meal and the smelly person sitting next to them on there flight to Denver. It got old fast!  

Soon enough the people I really did want to keep up with and learn from were drown out to the sound of people that have diarehhia of the mouth! Now to make sure I stay connected with the people I care to do so with, I occasionally will go through the people I am following and hit the forbidden, "Unfollow" button. I am not going to lie sometimes I feel like the guys sitting in expensive suits on Shark Tank denying people left and right, except the expensive suit part. To have meaningful relationships, we must make relationships meaningful. This involves intentionally killing off the excess voices, so we can focus on those relationships we are trying to grow. 

There is just something to be said for shrinking your circles. I know it's not a popular idea but it's a very biblical one. It's so key, especially as communicators of the gospel that we drown out the sound of non-sense. Non-sense is simply fatty talk. We have to learn to trim out the fatty talk in two regards. 

1. So our followers can become increasingly more aware of what we are all about. (Our faith, priorities, core beliefs)

2. So those we are following will not be drown out to "Sir Tweets Alot." (you know that guy whom you suspect gets paid per character). 

 I am not saying you should embrace some new mantra of, "Follow Few"...oh wait...yes I am! That's all for now. #moretocome

- @pedrolatorre

 

following, tweet, twitter, twitter follow, unfollow, who do you follow

Published on by Luke Frederick.

No Comments