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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.

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1/2/11 Message at AELC

Below is the sermon I gave this last weekend at American Evangelical Lutheran Church’s contemporary service.

Sermon on Being Vs. Doing

We are so obsessed with doing that we have no time and no imagination left for being. As a result, men are valued not for what they are but for what they do or what they have-for their usefulness. -Thomas Merton

What we are facing

So my wife and I decided that we were going to pack up our home and move into an apartment that my parents own about a month ago. Nicole and I don’t make rash decisions as a team, we tend to pray, discuss, sleep-on, and contemplate ideas like this fully. The truth is that Nicole and I both fully felt that God was leading us to pack up and move to get out of the house. The idea has been to sell our inexpensive (less than 100K) home and get back into renting so that we are more flexible and aren’t faced with a 45 minute commute two times a day with multiple vehicles.

Needless to say, we’ve already moved out and are plugged into my parents’ apartment. We have known this whole time that the market for real estate is extremely poor and folks everywhere are upside down on their mortgages, but we figured we couldn’t be, because we purchased the home for so little 6 years ago.  This week came with some harsh realities. After speaking with some friends from church who have been in local realty for quite a while, we found that our home would most likely appraise for MAYBE 55K less that we owe on it. Wow. Didn’t really expect that one coming. We knew it would be a miracle but we thought that the only properties that were losing value were the ones that were inflated to begin with.

So, we have a few choices:

1) We can put the house on the market for way more than it’s worth. If by some miracle it did get  a buyer, they would have to get an appraisal and they would face the same harsh reality we have and the sale would be lost.

2) Short Sale. This really would be almost impossible for us. we’ve worked hard at keeping current on our mortgage, which in a short sale is a minus…the bank wants to see that you really cannot afford squat.

3) Deed in lieu of foreclosure. This one is tough because I feel we need to make good on our debt. This would entail just giving the bank our home back. We would get a major hit to our credit (credit=crap anyways, plus we don’t use credit to buy anymore, thanks Ramsey) and not be able to buy a home for at least 18 months.

4) Move back into the house and stay there for however long it takes to get the economy back up and real estate climbing. This is the least risky, and yet the most bothersome to me. Somehow we felt like God was getting us ready for something and I feel that moving back in would just be a lack of faith. I rarely if ever see God using people who play it safe and are afraid to take risks. Jesus told people to sell or leave their possessions. I cannot think of a time in scripture where He said to play it safe, can you?

That’s it. That’s what we are facing. Your thoughts, comments, prayers…

It’s all about…

These past few weeks I have been pondering curriculum, events, attendance, and programs, along with high and low attendance, parental priorities, wild rumors, and how to make it all work. So how can I take all these things, manage, create, and run the perfect ministry? How can I get kids to want to show up, give their lives to Jesus, and become fully committed, radical disciples of Christ? I believe that I have a skill set to offer, ideas and plans that are pretty good but they’re never good enough. My very best seems inefficient, unproductive, and incompetent.

It took a dead youth pastor to remind me this morning that all that is irrelevant. As I woke and read a chapter or two out of “Getting Fired for the Glory of God” by Mike Yaconelli (founder of Youth Specialties) it was a painful reminder that my ministry programs, communications techniques, and any skills I may have (or have not) aren’t what it’s all about. So what is it all about? You guessed it…Jesus. Jesus is it. No big programs or ministry planning is going to bring kids to Christ. No parents will be ministered to or even be made happy by what I’m doing. Only Jesus. Only His will. Only His plan.
Every time I get caught up in my incompetency and become overwhelmed by my own sense of inadequacy I hear the words from 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Christ asks us to do what leadership seminars, books, and professional efficiency experts tell us to never do: Work out of your weakness. “When I am weak, then I am strong” starts to make sense when we realize that it’s not about us, it’s about Him.
So what does that look like? I don’t know, but I’m starting to realize that as soon as I start envisioning and planning what it looks like to work out of His strength and not mine, I am reminded that it doesn’t have to look like Francis Chan or Craig Groeschel. It may just look like an unknown guy who spent his life loving the left out kids and teaching them to love God first, and everything else second. Somehow that’s encouraging and disturbing but all I know is the rest is up to God.

Being a person of truth

Lately God has really been working on me to be a man of truth. The first thing that comes to my mind is, “I don’t lie to people!” but what God has been showing me is that people of truth go much deeper than that. How many times have you seen mis-truths, wrong perceptions, or exaggerations and have let them pass by? People of truth are the ones who say, “Wait, that’s not what I heard”, or “Let’s ask them if that’s true or not.” God calls us to be light in the darkness. That goes a lot further than not lying.

A week or two ago I heard about a person who was perpetuating a lie about me. The solution was simple. I needed to confront the person gently, and ask them to help me clear the matter up. The problem was, that was going to be an uncomfortable situation, or an awkward moment (God frequently uses awkward moments, by the way). Instead of clearing the matter up with a moment or two of awkwardness as I called them out on their misconception I just got angry and complained to several of my friends. I perpetuated the problem by continuing negative talk behind people’s backs, which was the very thing I was upset about!
Being a person of truth means not only holding yourself accountable to complete truth, but expecting and insisting on the complete truth with those in your sphere of influence. Where are you perpetuating misconceptions, half-truths, and flat out lies? Where could you be bringing light into darkness even if it is awkward and makes you and others uncomfortable?