Category Archives: christian life

Next Steps

As some of you may know, I have been out of the church ministry world for the last year and a half. Through that, Nicole and I have learned some really hard lessons about pride, contentment and identity. We’ve found that our identity is not in ministry or what we do, but who we are in Christ which never changes.

But, now we’re excited and ready for our next step.This month I’ve been offered a new youth ministry position in Mount Vernon, Washington at the First United Methodist Church. This position is a whole new world for us because it is a part time position which brings in new challenges and unexpected blessings. I will have to work full time in HVAC in order to make this possible.

I recently traveled up to Mount Vernon to meet with the church and see if I could find any local work. The night before I left, Nicole and I prayed for some very specific things if we were to be able to do this: 

1. That I would have no less than two HVAC job offers that weekend,

2. That I would find a home for our family to rent with 3 bedrooms, low rent, and the ability to keep our Sadie Rae (our beloved canine),

3. That we could rent from a person, not an agency. Someone whom we could work with and get along with.

In the process of a four day trip to Washington, I received two job offers in HVAC for better pay, and the church’s pastor told me about a rental from his landlord that was a possibility. Once I checked it out, I found that his landlord was a Christian person who really valued his neighbors and community. This man also is buying a house just for us to rent. Not only that, but we will be living on a property which borders a creek, is less than a block from the biggest lake in town, and a block from the best elementary school in town (it’s also down the road from a christmas tree farm, and a dairy farm). Not only did God answer each prayer, but he made each thing better than we hoped. The house we will be living in is nothing much, a 1948 home with small bedrooms and baths, but is just enough. We will be forced to downsize a lot of our possessions which is a true blessing in disguise. When God gives us a blessing, it is for our true good so it may not come with all of our desires, but all of our true needs.

I met with the church over the weekend, spent my evenings with a 90 year old retired missionary couple, and met with some families, council members, and the pastor. It seems to be just the right place for us right now, with just the right timing.

Right now we are planning to be moving a day or two after Christmas. We are very excited for what’s next but will dearly miss all of our friends and family in the Prescott area. Our church family in Lumen Deo has been one of the greatest blessings to us in this past year. We’ve made friends and been part of a community that has been encouraging and loving.

We are truly blessed. 

 

What’s happening with the Latulippe’s

So, for the last few months, Nicole and I have been soul searching and discerning what God may have for us in the near future. As you might know, last July I made a departure from our full time ministry position. A position that made us a decent living with benefits and a pension. We stepped out in faith and it’s been much harder than we expected and now I am currently working three days a week at a local Verizon store (no I can’t give you a free iPhone) for a fraction of what I used to make.

The truth is, we fully expected to be in a new ministry by now, and have come close several times but nothing has come through. This can be really daunting at times, and quite honestly discouraging, but this is teaching me a few things:
1. God’s ways are not as our ways. I’ve said this many times before and counseled people with this thought but the reality of it is that we cannot always see the plan or even make sense of what God does or calls us to do.
2. God’s timing is not our timing. Again, this one is pretty obvious but when we start complaining about God not doing a work in our lives within a few months or a few weeks we are truly missing that point all together.
3. When God says ‘humble yourself’ he means it. In the last year I have gone from counseling youth about their life’s struggles to helping them upgrade to a new iPhone and I have gone from leading in a church’s programming and leadership to changing the filters in that church’s basement on my knees (while the young janitor who is now making more than me snickers). This was not just humbling but humiliating and I think that is what God needed to do in my heart.

So for right now, Nicole and I are still interviewing with multiple churches across the country but we are praying about what God would have us do today, not tomorrow. Sometimes even when we know what we need to do in life it isn’t easy but we trust and know in the Spirit that our lives will bring God glory and we will be used in spite of our weakness. I will post more on this site to let you know what things we will be doing locally. We have hosted a concert recently and plan on doing more of that as well as possibly hosting our own prayer retreat.

Lent

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This year I almost missed Lent. Having worked at a church that follows the liturgical calendar for the last four years and now not being connected there I almost forgot about it completely. In years past I have been a smarty pants and have said things like, “I’m giving up Lent for Lent” but the last two years I practiced the tradition of giving something up for forty days and have received much spiritual reward for it. The thing that I personally struggle with the most is that I’m not a very religious person and I tend to dismiss religious holidays altogether as fun or interesting but of no spiritual value.

Here’s what I’ve learned:  It’s all about motives. When we approach a religious ritual out of habit or just because it is what we have always done we lose any opportunity to really connect with God. However, when our motives are right we can really take advantage of an opportunity to deepen our Christ-connection. That is the beauty of Lent; a true opportunity to deny oneself in order to better focus our deeper and more real need for Christ.

I have found that some of my very best times of prayer have come through fasting or times of sacrifice and I do not feel that it is simply because God wanted that sacrifice, but because He wanted the right motives in my heart.

Here is my warning to those of you who are practicing any kind of Lenten fast. If you are giving up chocolate, fatty foods, or the like, make sure your real motive isn’t to lose weight or get in shape. Our sacrifice to God should never have hidden motives to benefit ourselves. That is exactly the wrong motive and you’d be better off to not practice Lent at all.

Also, here is a thought for those of you who don’t practice Lent. Could you be missing an opportunity to deepen your life in Christ? The Lenten season is at a perfect time to prepare yourself for the celebration and reminder of Jesus’ victory over death!

Embracing the Mystery

Well meaning Christian Theologians have argued for centuries.

Bible studies have split apart over one verse.

Churches have split and denominations formed over simple ideas about God or simple practices that point us to God.

For so long, many (myself included) have spent precious time and energy trying to figure out what the “real truth” is. Do we baptize infants or only adults? Does God predestine only some of us or do we have a choice? Do we commune with wafers and real wine or unleavened bread and Welch’s? I think we’re missing the point altogether!

What I’m trying to say is simply this…For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8  We spend too much time arguing over issues we cannot ever fully understand. God’s ways and purpose are so far above ours that we cannot and should not claim to understand it fully. Especially when it draws a chasm between us and other believers. Our God is a mysterious and powerful God. When people ask me about predestination versus free-will I have to answer that both can be true! My God is big enough to both choose us and allow us to chose. And I see evidence of both in scripture so why would I have to choose just part of scripture as being right! Yes, it’s true that in my mind I tend to want to fully understand and have mastery over theological ideas, but the truth is that when I try to fully understand that which is infinite with my finite mind, I am putting God into a box.

My God simply will not be boxed, limited, or made predictable. God is bigger than you think!

Please don’t take me wrong and think that I believe everything to be true and all paths leading to God. I cling to scripture and to Christ. His Word always ring true. I honestly think we don’t take scripture seriously enough! But some things we aren’t meant to understand, just to embrace.

The Gates of Hell

…and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18

When Christ said that the gates of hell would not prevail against His church I’m pretty sure he meant it! Why then, do we spend our lives in fear of the devil and in fear of Hell? Most Christians I know are so afraid of the devil and Hell that they don’t even talk about them. If we take Christ at His word, then we are already conquerors and have nothing to fear, but everything to gain. Notice in the scripture listed above how He is talking about the gates of hell? Gates are to protect the inhabitants of a city but mostly this text is interpretted as “the devil won’t defeat the Church”. I think what Jesus was saying is that we as the Church are the attackers and Hell will lose.

Christians ought to be bold. If we are conquerors with Christ we should start acting like it. If the gates of Hell will crumble at our attack shouldn’t we be rescuing it’s prisoners? Although people we might know might not be in literal hell right now, are they in a hell on earth? What are you doing to use your position as a conqueror of Hell to rescue them from the grip of demonic forces?

The Christian Metal band, For Today, wrote some lyrics that ought to be our motto…

“Hell, fear me! I am the one that will bring you down.

And as you fall, fear me, you’ll see my face on the battleground.

Pain is a purifier.

Over the last few days I have been dealing with some pretty bad tooth pain. It wasn’t so bad at first, but yesterday it got so bad that I got nauseous and almost threw up! Tooth pain can come and go and I’m hoping today to get it fixed but it got me thinking…

St. Ignatius once said that physical pain was the quickest way to God (my paraphrase) and I’ve always thought that to be a ridiculous statement because I figured he was speaking of penance through mortification which some Ascetics took too far and whipped themselves etc. (I want to be clear that I think this is wrong). Not to say Asceticism itself is wrong, but those who take it to the point of hurting themselves are misguided to say the least. However, going through some overwhelming pain in these last days has reminded me that pain can bring us to our knees and that is exactly where God wants us. Through pain we forget the extraneous parts of life. We don’t care what so and so said about us,  we just want to get rid of the pain!

In this way pain can be good. Whether we are going through physical or emotional pain, remember that all things work together for the good (see Rom. 8:28) and that even though pain wasn’t in God’s original plan for us, it can bring us closer to Him.

Thank you God for pain. Now please make it go away!

My children are the X-Men

I am out on the back porch this morning listening to my kids play X-Men in the backyard. They follow each other around making up stories about how they have super powers, calling each other by their superhero names and destroying evil.
Awesome.
It’s great to be able to take the time and watch my kids as they are growing up. These years don’t last long and I’m so blessed to be able to be here and have the time to listen to them playing and being imaginative.
Right now I’m unemployed and I think a lot of times people view that as only a negative thing, but right now it is a blessing. I’ve never been able to spend so much time with my wife and kids. I think many times in life we waste so much of our time and energy worrying about money and success that we forget how beautiful life truly is and how precious one moment can be.

A follow up on the worship night in the park…

Last Saturday night we had an accoustic worship set in the park and invited a few friends and family to come out and worship. What a blessing. There weren’t many of us this first time around (maybe 12) but it was great to just sit under the veranda, sing songs about our greatest Love and spend moments in prayer and reflection. The most beautiful thing was there was no stress, and there were no expectations. People came out early or late, spent some time singing and talking with one another and that was it. No one was taking attendance, no one worried that we had wasted our time because we didn’t have a grand turnout, but best of all Jesus was lifted up from the hearts of people who really wanted to praise Him. I wonder what church ministries would look like if they had this kind of freedom? What kinds of things might we be able to accomplish if we weren’t so focused on budgets, attendance, and popularity?

There will definitely be more nights of worship coming up so stay tuned…

 

Worship Night…July 30th, 6pm Granite Creek Park

Have you ever had an idea that just won’t go away? One of those thoughts that just seems like it isn’t yours but it’s still there? Sometimes in life it seems like we get a great vision but we just don’t pursue it and it keeps coming up in conversation and is confirmed in so many different ways through people and circumstances. Those are the things we should pay attention to…

For me, I’ve had the vision of a time of worship where we have no agendas or church brand names. No budgets, attendance sheets, or planning meetings for. Just a night where people who really want to worship Jesus can meet together and make Him the focus. Since I am completely unemployed right now, I really feel like it’s the time to make this happen and it doesn’t matter how many people show up, how perfect the music is, or if things go smoothly. It will just be a time to worship and bring honor to the name of Jesus Christ.

In so many churches across our country I feel like there are so many of us going through the motions and singing along to lyrics that we really don’t mean and I just don’t see how Christ is honored in that and it honestly bugs the hell out of me. So many of us (and I have to include myself on this) on Sunday mornings are analyzing the singers voice or the song selection for the week, the types of prayer said or how eloquent the pray-er was. It just doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that Jesus was talking about when he said in John 4 that the Father seeks those who worship in Spirit and Truth.

I’m hoping this will be different.

July 30th at 6pm we will be meeting in Granite Creek Park in Prescott, AZ to worship. Let’s see how the Spirit will bless a time of worship without expectations or agendas. You’re invited.

Some thoughts on leaving our church…

It’s been a few weeks since I turned in my resignation here at AELC. This was probably the toughest decision I’ve had to make in a career yet in my life and it remains difficult even though the decision has been made. I don’t really need to get into all the details of why and how we were led to this decision, but the fact or should I say truth that I would like to communicate is that we simply felt led. I know a lot of times in life we come to cross roads and aren’t sure where to go, but if we can cling to our faith and relationship with Christ, seeking His direction instead of merely informing Him of ours, we can have faith that he will show us the right step. (Mind you, that’s not a guarantee you can’t take the wrong step, just that He will show you the right one. Your job is to seek and listen.).

Nicole and I spent hours in prayer and fasting while coming to this conclusion and before we took the step we had a peace about it, and that was really our greatest confirmation. Not just that we felt ok with whatever happens, but that we knew that God is in control of our lives if we surrender to Him. That is peace, knowing you are in God’s hands and not your own. The fact remains that we will be completely unemployed as of July 1st, and by some of the opinions of folks around us we are completely nuts. (Namely for the following reasons: we have a baby on the way, we voluntarily gave up pay and security, and it may not look great on a resume to have a period of unemployment, oh and I won’t have insurance for a while.) But we feel peace, and for that I would not trade anything in the world. We are sure that God will use us, we are definite that He has called us to a life of ministry, and we are certain that all our bills will be paid and all little tummies full. These things we have faith in and peace about, the rest God will just have to show us one step at a time.

I think what frustrates me the most is that as Christians, we are quite frankly stuck in materialism. Questions like, “how will you make money?’ and, “Why wouldn’t you wait until you had a better job lined up?’ are coming to us from Christians. Where is your faith? Do you honestly believe that when Jesus says He will take care of your every need, that you will starve somewhere on a street corner because you took a leap of faith? Modern day American Christians have so little faith that it’s embarrassing. To start out on a new chapter you have to get all your funding in advance, and take as much risk out of every step of life as possible. Where does Christ preach that? All I’ve heard Christ say about that in the Bible, is when he told people to NOT store up wealth, to give up ALL their possessions, to LOVE people who wanted to kill them, and to LIVE without any worries. To hold up our little step to the teachings of Jesus makes it look like a walk in the park, and yet so many people are wondering why on earth we wouldn’t have done things ‘smarter’. [I’d like to apologize for this little rant, but it is indeed a confession of what’s on my heart.]

As for us, we will be fine. What step is God asking you to make, and why are you so scared to take it?