I bleed too.

When I created this blog, I promised myself that I would be real no matter what the circumstances were. You, as the reader, deserve to see a person who doesn’t just blog when things are good. But also when things are not so good. When all hits the fan and you wonder what to do. Well this past week a lot hit the fan, my heart took a beating, and now you will see me bleed.

Last week on Friday, My Papa passed away. He had battled Alzheimer’s for over 10 years and it was his time to go home. He got the call to the Big League in the Sky at around 8:45 last week. This was a man who had taught me so much. He taught me how to work many power tools and always put others first. This was a man who had been raised with absolutely nothing. He grew into a wonderful man. Born in 1925 in Muskogee, OK, my Papa, started life right before the depression hit. He didn’t know what was coming within the next five years of his life. But he grew into a man of splendid character and one who I will admire until the day I die.

He served his country in WWII as a torpedo man on a destroyer ship in the ocean. He always instilled in us a great sense of patriotism because he was a true patriot for this country. When he came home from war he met my grandmother and started dating the girl he would eventually marry. They were married for 67 years. Let’s think about that for a second. In this day and age some people’s marriages don’t last 10 years much less over sixty years. Even when his mind had been consumed by Alzheimer’s in his later years he still knew who my Mimi was and he always let everyone know that she was his world.

In his life he was strongly devoted to community service and to his church. he gave back as much as he could to everyone in the community. He was extremely gifted with fixing things and always lent a hand when he could or when he just saw the need to. He could fix everything. Us grandkids coined the term for Papa “Mr. Fix-It”. He could honestly fix anything and always did it with a smile on his face and love in his heart. The church called him before they called the maintenance man because they knew that he would be able to get the job done quickly and the right way, the first time. He was so good at what he did and I for 22 years got to watch him do what he did.

I am so proud to be the grandson of James Andrew DeCamp. He was a man that people could spend a lifetime trying to be like and they would not get remotely close. Now I have lost both of my Grandfathers. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that they both impacted me heavily and I am grateful for their time on this earth that  I got to spend with them. But the bleeding does not stop there.

Today as I was driving home to Memphis from Oklahoma where I had attended the funeral of my grandfather, I had my dog, Clark, in the car. We were almost to Russellville, AR and my tire blewout. Luckily I saved it and pulled off to the shoulder. I opened the door to check and see what had happened as I had just heard a loud noise from the car, Clark found a way to escape the car. He was then hit by an oncoming car that had nowhere to go. My pup that I had only had for three weeks was killed almost immediately. My best friend was no longer and as I carried him to the side of the road, blood running down my shirt and shorts, I told him that I loved him and that he could go meet Papa now.

I cried and cried. I’ve shed a lot of tears this week and shed even more today. But raising Clark taught me a lot and not just about life. but about the Gospel. I rescued Clark from the Memphis Animal Shelter which is a kill shelter and the one that the city of Memphis uses. God adopted me into his family by his son’s blood, that I would no longer walk in darkness and be an outsider. But that I would be an heir to the throne. I adopted Clark who was in the shelter for 2 weeks and was almost euthanized before I feel in love with him and rescued him. Clark had tons of energy and always was getting into mischief somehow once he warmed up to life at the apartment. I was always telling him “you can’t bite me” or “No, you can’t eat that frog” And in a few days I realized that Clark is me. I am a sinner who gets into trouble and needed someone to rescue me and needs someone to guide me, to hold me, to praise me, and to love me unconditionally.

Clark taught me more about the Gospel than I could have ever learned on my own. He taught me that I should long to sit at the Master’s feet and listen to him or even just be there. Clark loved laying by the couch where I lay if I am just watching Netflix, a ball game, or napping. I should long to sit at the feet of Jesus and just sit not try and be good enough or be holy enough but that I should sit there and love being there for the only reason of just being there.

We can learn a lot from our dogs if we just pay attention to the little things that they do. Heck they can bring us to a place where they are the teachers and we are the students if we allow ourselves time to watch them. I got to see this sunrise the other morning because Clark had woke me up because he wanted to play.

If you have a grandpa you haven’t seen in awhile, Call them and tell them that you love them. If you have an animal give them a hug from me and love them all the while. but also watch them and see what they are trying to teach you. Because you just never know what you will learn from your dog, cat, horse, lizard, fish, or any other animal you may have.

With a heavy heart,

Thad Ernst

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Clark

And Run..

Running was something in high school that I hated. I could not stand it. it did not seem fun to me. Probably because we had to run when we messed up at soccer. When I went to college I gained my freshman 15 and wanted to lose weight. So I took up working out and running. I ran 6 days a week and in 7 months I lost 36 pounds. Since then I have enjoyed running a lot. I run a few times a week and when I first moved to Memphis, one of my students convinced me to run the St. Jude half marathon in December. While I took up the challenge and some days it is way easier than others to go for runs and push myself. But other days it is tough to run or even be active.

But just like in everything, God has been teaching me through this whole running endeavor that I have set out on. It all started with this video in December. I watched this over Christmas break casually in a starbucks as I was waiting on a friend to catch up with. It was very good but I didn’t really start re-thinking about it until I started to train for this half marathon. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. It was so applicable to me but also to anyone else. I finally got it. I am constantly running this race called Life. This race will end when I take my last breath on this earth. I will cross the finish line of this life and I pray that I hear

“Well done, good and faithful servant.”-Matthew 25:21.

But the part that got me about Hebrews 12:1 and the video which I have rewatched over and over again now, was not the running part. It was the part that said “lay aside every weight and sin.” It didn’t say just lay aside sin. but it said lay aside every weight that does not help you run.

Now if I am going on a run, I will usually take as little as possible. I will have the clothes that I am wearing, my shoes, my phone (for music) and headphones, and my key to either my apartment or car depending on which I started running from. If it does not help me to run then I don’t take it. I don’t take a box of twinkies, my cowboy boots, or a heavy coat. Because all those things would weigh me down and in turn slow me down. So why when we are on this run with Jesus do we try to bring other things into it that weigh us down. Throw them off and RUN. If it is an addiction, talk to someone and have them hold you accountable. If it is a bad habit, put it down. If it is friends that drag you down and don’t push you toward the cross and toward Jesus, maybe it is time to reevaluate your friendship and not spend so much time with that person. Its not just sins that we are called to throw off but EVERYTHING that entangles us and leads us away from Jesus.

You might look at that list and say I am going to lose so much, I can’t do it. Look at Hebrews 12:2.  looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” 

Jesus knew in the final days of his that he would be turned over to the authorities. He knew that he would be betrayed by everyone. He would be standing alone. He knew that he would be beaten and humiliated. He knew on the Mount of Olives as described in Luke 22:39-46 “his sweat became like great drops of blood.” This man knew that in the world’s eyes he was going to lose everything. He was going to have to die. But Jesus did it for us. He lost everything so that we could have everything. JESUS LOST EVERYTHING FOR US! So that we could be called sons, daughters, friends, and not enemies of the King. Because we were born into sin. We are full of sin. We sin every day. And without Jesus in our lives we are condemned. We are guilty of a holy wrath from a holy God. We deserve death in the most brutal way possible. Because we have sinned against a holy God. So if you think that throwing aside every weight that does not help you run toward Jesus will be a lot of loss, think again.

The loss of the things of this world will be worth eternity with a holy God that we get to call Abba Father. The Christian life is gain like John Piper said. It is gain, to know Jesus and experience his presence. So I’ll pose the question, Is laying aside every weight and sin worth it to you?

Thad Ernst

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Wait. It will be worth it.

There has been a song that has been on my heart for the past few weeks. It is a song that is called “Even So Come” by Kristian Stanfill. This song came up on the Discover Weekly on my spotify a few weeks back and since then I have just been singing it constantly. If you have not heard the song here is a link to it so that you can give it a listen, Even So Come.

This song speaks of a time of waiting. It speaks of being expectant of God and the miracles that come with him. Now I have never been wonderful about having patience. I was born in the United States and I live in an age of if I want something I can just about get it whenever I want. I live in an era of McDonald’s being open 24-7 and the good Lord knows that I love a 20 piece nugget at 1 AM somedays. But God has been teaching me to be patient and wait over the past few years.

If you don’t know my story which most of you may not. Here is the short version. My brother left my life when I was in the 8th grade. It was hard and I dealt with a lot of growing up and challenges in the coming years. he was not a part of my life again until January 2015. I went through high school with no big brother. I went through almost 90% of college without a brother. Until one day in January I found him on Google+. I added him and a few days later he messaged me.

Then things started to fall into place and in February I was able to go up to Denver and get to hang out with my brother again. In March he told me that he would be at my college graduation. As I hung up the phone with him I began to cry. Not tears of sadness but tears of a prayer answered. For four years of college, there was one prayer that I prayed consistently. “God, please let Matt come home and attend my graduation.” That was my constant and never changing prayer during my time in undergrad.

In all of that God taught and molded me into the person that I am today. God used that time to teach me to not quit and to wait even when all hope seems lost. And I was in a spot that all almost seemed lost. I was about to quit and give up but God lead me to a verse while I was reading Romans.

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”-Romans 12:12

It was crazy that I read this just weeks before Matt came back into contact with me. But in all of this Jesus taught me waiting is the best and only way. This song says “Like a Bride waiting for her groom, We’ll be a church ready for you.” I wasn’t ready for him. I was ready to just stop praying that prayer. But God waited on me till I was ready to give up hope so that he would get the most glory.

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. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

What a way to be reminded that God will get his glory one way or another. We need to just be ready and be expectant and saying “Even So Come, Lord Jesus, Come.”

So whatever you are going through, whether it is easy or difficult. My prayer is that you would have expectancy in your heart and don’t lose heart but even in the darkest of times that you would know that the night is darkest before the dawn. Keep praying, keep pressing into Jesus and He will show up.

Thad Ernst

Arriba!

Arriba, the spanish word for up.

The kid pictured is someone that taught me more about faith and the love of Jesus than most will ever do. This is Luis. He is a vivacious 5-year old from Esteli, Nicaragua that has mild autism. He drools a lot, can’t speak very many words, he is OBSESSED with Mickey Mouse in fact the only English words he knew were Mickey Mouse but he said “Mickey Mou”, but he has the sweetest heart and I miss him more than anyone that I got to meet in Nicaragua. He taught me so much just by his actions. And he may have thought they were small but they impacted me in a way that it has taken weeks to process and fully understand.

I met Luis on the first day that we arrived in Esteli. There tons of kids in the church and we walked in to a rockstar welcome. But I am not a rockstar by any means. I am just humbled that I was able to be there and love on kids. But I digress, Most of the kids were sitting around the church in chairs. And Luis was running around. i immediately started chasing him and making funny faces while he just squealed and laughed. His joy was evident around the whole room and within the team. (He is the little guy that in on the stage in the picture below while I am acting like a Gorilla.)

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But Luis didn’t just love to squeal and laugh. But for most of the morning we played and had fun. He gave me hugs and I loved every second I got with him. Well we went to lunch and all the kids went home to eat lunch as well. When we went back to the church in the afternoon, our bus pulled up and parked. Kids started flowing out of the church like a stream and there was immediate play with them. But I was looking for a certain tiny human. There he was,Luis, coming out of the church with his arms out like an airplane. He ran straight up to me and said Arriba! I picked him up and my heart was melted immediately in that moment.

Later that night we had a movie night for the church with snacks and drinks. We watched the Incredibles and there was chaos but amidst the chaos I sat in a chair in the middle of the kids and was watching the movie. When Luis shuffles his way over to me and without breaking eye contact with the movie just crawled into my lap and snuggled in. I was so humbled that a little five year old who I barely knew would just come up to me and sit in my lap. I was a puddle of happiness at that point.

But as I was reflecting on that time, and yes its taken me a few weeks to do all of that. God spoke to me and said “I want you to be like Luis.” I didn’t understand what that meant. I can’t become a five year old, Nicaraguan boy with mild autism. But God continued to press into my heart and say “Be like Luis.” And then it all clicked together. God not only wants us to love him but he wants us to excitedly run to him and say Arriba! (Up). He wants to to throw our arms toward him and want to be held. Our God is not a God that won’t hold his kids. But rather he loves to hold us close and love on us. He wants us to come to him and snuggle up to him.

This is what he means when Jesus, in Matthew 18:3-4, says “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” I have heard the phrase have childlike faith but I never fully understood it until a sweet little guy, in a country that means so much to my heart, showed me. 

So thank you Luis for showing me what it means to have a childlike faith. For loving the tall goofy white kid with glasses from the United States. For showing me what God wants from me every day, an excited longing for his word. I will see you soon hermanito, little brother. I love you Mickey Mou.

hand in the air don't care holding MM Luis enriqueunnamed (1) unnamed (2)

Thad Ernst