A Response to “Make America Great Again”

*Let me start by saying that this isn’t a political post, so please keep reading.

Make America Great Again. A phrase that has been one of the most polarizing phrase maybe to ever be spoken in the United States. It is a phrase that has divided people while bringing others together. It is a phrase that got a man elected to the office of the Presidency. It is a phrase that some people I know are disgusted by and want nothing to do with because of the connotations it has in their walk of life.

But this is a phrase that I have wrestled hard with. It is a phrase that I have turned over and over in my mind before I decided that I needed to put my thoughts on paper (or well a screen, that is my laptop). It is a phrase that got reignited in my head last night after listening to Jimmy Kimmel host the Oscars.

So my thoughts are as follows:

Making America Great Again won’t start with a President, Congress, the Supreme Court, or any famous people in Hollywood. (I know what you are thinking, wait what did he just say?) Hear me out please, I don’t think that is how America will be made great again. I believe that America will be made great again when we as a society begin to start loving people. And I don’t mean fake loving people. I mean real love, sticking with people even when they fail, embracing their faults, and loving them all the more.  What if we begin to start showing people that they matter to us no matter what profession they are in? What if we sit down with people and have real conversations with people that we disagree with rather than just bash them on social media with? America would start to change. The world would start to change because they would see us loving with all that we have.

What if we chose everyday that we were going to treat people better than we wanted to be treated? I promise you if everyone began to treat people with more love, respect, and care than we wanted that this world would begin to change. What if people felt supported in all aspects of life? Most importantly what if people felt like they were heard and their feelings were respected?

If we all began to treat others better than we wanted, prayed for those who are hurting, did life with people while respecting their views, and loved them unconditionally, I believe that the world would begin to change. I believe that America would be great again. Making America great again starts with loving all people even the ones you disagree with. Martin Luther King Jr. once said “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” I agree with MLK, I’m sticking with Love because hate is too much for this heart to bear. I encourage you to do the same.

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If you want to Make America Great Again start loving people. Start caring for people. Start treating people with jobs that you believe are lower than yours like equals or better. Start going the extra mile for other people. Give out hugs and encouraging words like candy. We can Make America Great Again but it starts with us. A President cannot by themselves make this country great again. Its gotta be the love that does that and that is on us.

You can start today. Being a good person who loves people does not cost you a penny, it is free. Love someone that is hard to love. Care for someone that needs an ear to hear them out. Treat the trash person like they are royalty. Hug your administrative assistant and thank them for all that they do to make your job easier. Take the people who work under you out for lunch just because you appreciate them. Be kind to those who have fallen on hard times. Because we can make a change in this country and in the world but that change starts with you and me.

Now is the time, wherever you are is the place. Go and Change the world

Thad Ernst

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Step back from the ledge and enjoy the view.

Every year I ask God to give me a word for the year. Some years the word lasts a few weeks, others it may last a month or so. But this year it’s seem to be constantly before my eyes in this season of my life. It’s a word that challenges me daily but also encourages me.

On January 1st as I drove to my first day of my new job in Tulsa, OK, I began to ask the Lord to give me a word that he wanted me to use as my word of the year so that I could improve in my life. And as I hit about the midway point of my 25 minute drive towards First Methodist in downtown Tulsa, it became clear that God had pressed onto my heart the word perspective. I was sort of confused at first. But as I sat in church that morning and my friend Aaron Tiger led the service, God began to just move in my heart and say “Thad you need perspective in so much of your life. You live so passionately that sometimes it just blinds you from what else is going on around you.” And you know at that point you go, Okay I’m not gonna argue with the Creator of the World. So I just said “Okay God, 2017 is about perspective, let’s do this.”

As I began to examine my life I realized that not only was this a good word for me, it was a PERFECT word for me. There were so many areas of my life that I truly just needed perspective in. My walk with Jesus, my way of dealing with things that come up, my students, and many more. I needed to step back from my view so I could see a little more of the picture. My kids needed me to give them perspective when they made their problems bigger than anything else that was going on.

My problems and failures used to consume me and stress me out. I used to make them bigger than what I made God out to be. But this word that God has so perfectly placed on my heart for this year, has helped me to realize that we serve a big God. Big enough to create the universe. Majestic enough to make incredible sunsets, mountain ranges, a solar system that is remarkable. God created the big picture. But he also created us and worked our last details down to even the creases in our skin that no one sees. This perspective that God is working on me with is something that is a daily challenge and some days I don’t get it. But at the end of the day everyday as I drive home from downtown Tulsa, I turn left onto Boston Ave at 11th St and I look up. I look up into one of my absolute most favorite views of my city and God reminds me of the word, perspective. He reminds me that he’s got me. He reminds me that he is bigger than what is going on in the world and in my life. But He also reminds me in that drive from 11th to 8th on Boston Ave that even He the creator of the world, the giver of life, cares to know me. He cares to know my heart and walk with me through things in my life that can cause some stress

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My view as I drive down Boston Ave headed northbound. Taken 2-16-17 with my iPhone.

I used to get really worked up about things. Things would stress me out that in the grand scheme of things were not that great. They were minor things that really didn’t necessarily need me to get worked up over them. I pulled my problems that were the size of a penny so close to my face that they were all that I looked at. I couldn’t see anything but that penny. I couldn’t see the beauty and splendor that is all around us daily because I made the penny all I focused on. But this year God has worked on me to ask the question with more frequency of “Will this impact eternity?” That has almost become my mantra for this year. It’s helped me to give more priority to the Kingdom and to people rather than the minor things that used to make me stressed out. It helped me see the wonderful view that is driving northbound on Boston Ave from 11th St.

So when things become stressful in your world, the tension gets high, and you seem to be on the edge. Ask yourself “Is this going to impact eternity?” Is this stress I’m under going to shape my future that God has already claimed? Or am I just anxious because I’m trying to constantly be in control of my life? Are you scared to give up control to the Lord because you don’t know what’s gonna happen? Do you make your problems bigger than God sometimes? Let me tell you pretty clearly, God is bigger than anything that could stress you out. So take the penny back from your eye and hold it out in front of you and just rest in the fact that God, the Creator, has you right where he wants you to live the life he has called you to. All it takes sometime is to step back and have a little perspective. So start today stepping back from the ledge and enjoying the view.

Thad Ernst

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Be who you are.

There are so many imitators out there. People imitate all sorts of other things and other people. I have always wondered why people begin to imitate others. Its how trends and fads begin and decline. Its a sense of everyone else is doing it so it must be trendy. I started to wonder recently if people weren’t comfortable in their own skin. If you are trying to be like someone else are you really comfortable in your body or are you trying to cover up something that you think that society will judge you for?

So what if someone judges you for being the person that you are. What if you are unrefined as a public speaker? What if you are not as good of an athlete? What if you were in an accident that changed your life? What if. What if. What if. You cannot change the circumstances that you are handed but I can tell you that you can use your circumstances to glorify Jesus.

A few people over the past month or so have asked me, Thad, how are you so comfortable in your own skin? I honestly cannot answer them with a full answer most of the time or at least a good answer that people can understand. But I guess that is why I have a blog that I can fully flesh out my thoughts in. I can tell you that it has been a journey to be the person that I am. It hasn’t always been this easy I guess. I’ve been through a lot in my 24 years on this planet and I am pretty grateful now that I look back on it.

When I was in the midst of trials I always thought of “What if…” What if This wasn’t happening to me? What if something else had occurred and it had made my life better. But now that I look back on it all I realize that I couldn’t have done anything different in those times of waiting and times of trial. I don’t know what you are going through and what the hand that life has dealt you looks like.

But I had a thought today as I peered out from a coffee shop in downtown Tulsa, what if everything in my life has led up to this point in my life? God slowly just whispered to my heart “it has”. And I was struck by it, everything in my life has led me to be the person that I am today in the location that I am today. Every good thing, and every trial has led me to be who I am.

All my life has lead up to being who I am today. And without it I wouldn’t be the person that I am. So as I look back over my life I am grateful that through it all God still called me to be me. Because I would probably make a terrible someone else.

So don’t try to be someone else. God made you to be you not a copy of someone else. If you think that means you should dye your hair blue, like my friend Lauren from Cincinnati, you should DO IT! If that means you stop playing basketball because you want to be an artist, DO IT!  BE who you are daily. Be unashamed to be yourself and don’t try to be a replica of someone else because you will never be as good trying to be someone else that you will be when you are completely yourself.

Life isn’t about the destination, its about the journey. So go confidently into the life that God has created for you. For you not someone else. You are enough. You are worth it.

Psalm 134:14

Thad Ernst

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