Playing the Race Card

What if I told you I was about one race of people? Would you judge me? Would you immediately discredit me? The events of the last few days have ripped at the core of who I am. The hate of people of color kills me inside. I just don’t understand how you can hate people with such a passion that you don’t want them around anymore. Are people of color any different than white people? If we cut them open and white people open are there going to be differences? No. At the core of people there are no differences. Every person is going to have a heart, lungs, and blood coursing through their veins. And the blood will be red. You take off the skin and all guys look alike and all ladies look alike. So why is there so much hate?

I was talking with one of our interns last week and he asked me a question. (He has another job that he works on weekends when he isn’t at the church) He asked me, Thad I have two friends at my other job who are gay and I treat them like normal people and accept them as humans but I don’t agree with their stance on being gay, they don’t know that I am a Christian, what do I do? I answered with Well you might not agree with their take on that but you can still treat them well and love them unconditionally. I told him if you stripped away the skin on your mom and these two girls would they look exactly the same bodily makeup wise? He said yes, of course they would because they would all be females. And I said well dude then let’s treat them like they are all equal and that they have worth because they have a heartbeat.

So you might be saying there’s a lot of questions there, are you going to answer them? I might not. But stick around please. I’ll start with this though, let’s begin to treat people with equal worth. Regardless of their skin color, sexual orientation, political choosing, or anything else that divides this country. Treat every person you see like they matter and that their story is important. I believe if every person begins to do this that our country, which has endured so much this weekend, will begin to change. We cannot just continue to talk the talk if we don’t walk walk. To quote Ghandi, we have to be the change we want to see in this world.

Be-the-change-you-wish-to-see-in-in-the-world
To be the change it starts with each of us. What does that truly mean in a world that is so broken? That starts with us beginning to show love to people of all types no matter what their background is. Its not hard, start with listening to their stories. See where they are came from and what makes them tick. At the end of the day they are still human and they still matter.

Secondly, racism we have to start naming it. The events in Charlottesville this past weekend weren’t just racism they were White Supremacists, were crushing to my soul. My soul that has incredible black friends and soon to be an absolutely amazing black sister in law. My mind immediately went to my friend who I consider a brother, Jason Smith. Jason is a radio show host in Memphis, TN of the Jason and John show. I met Jason last year and we quickly bonded over our love for the Cubs and the Bears. He is someone I talk to often for an outside view point or just a buddy to talk sports on. He is not less than because of his skin color or his political views. But I consider him equal if not more important. He is an incredible dude who loves Jesus and is a great friend. My second thought was to my brother and his soon to be (in less than a month) wife, Eula. I began to think my family pretty soon will become directly affected by this. And why should my brother and his wife when they begin to have children have to raise them differently because of the color of their skin. Why? It makes no sense to my mind that my nieces and nephews will have to be raised any different than any other person on this planet. Both of these people, Jason and Eula, are absolutely incredible BLACK human beings. And just because they are black does not effect how I think of them. For all I care I could have rainbow friends and still think they were awesome.

Friends that are a different color of skin than I have, I will fight for you. I will continue to love you no matter what. I will sit on the curb with you and try to understand where you are coming from. I don’t know what you are going through because I haven’t gone through it, but I will strive diligently to understand where you are coming from daily.

For the world to start changing we have to start looking and treating people as equal. It can’t be a conditional thing either. It cannot be something like, Oh if they are straight then I will treat them as an equal. Or if they are a certain color I will treat them equal. Or if they are the gender that they are born into I have to treat them as equal. No treat them equal because they have a pulse. Because if you cut them open they would look just like anyone else without skin.

So yes at the end of the day, I do care about only one race of people. But that race of people is the human race. Let’s choose love over hate, peace over anger, and empathy over indifference.

The time is now, the world is the place to make a difference. But it starts with us.

Thad Ernst

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Sitting on the Curb

A lot of people that are in this world love to talk about how millennials are this or how millennials are that. Honestly we may be all those things. We may be the generation that is so different than any before because of technology, not liking what older generations liked, or any other thing that people say about us. I say us because I myself am a millennial. But maybe just maybe millennials just long to be understood.

I know that for myself, my whole life I have longed to be understood. Now as I am a 24 year old, I desperately want to be understood and feel like I matter. This is amplified in the lives of twenty somethings because there is so much pressure on twenty somethings to be something great and do things with their lives. There is so many different stages of life that a twenty something can go through. Whether it is graduating college, getting a job, moving to an unknown place, getting married, getting another job, or even moving home after college; this time of a person’s life is something that can quite possibly go through 3-6 life stages in the span of 10 years. If you are unaware of how crazy that can make a life, think of this going through all 4 seasons of the year followed by a tornado, hurricane, and an earthquake in the span of a week. (I get that it sounds a little extreme) But its not that far off to imagine. Life spans are a crazy thing to go through especially when they are constantly changing. Let’s just take me for example, In the past two years I have graduated college, moved to an unknown place, taken a job in that unknown place, resigned from that job, got a new job in my hometown, moved back, and have lived at 4 different places in that time.

With all of that happening, a lot of people that are my age feel like they are incredibly vulnerable but also feel like no one listens to them. They don’t feel like anyone cares about them because their life is a huge variable and they are constantly on the move. People ask them how they are doing but that is it. They don’t invest in them and that leaves us millennials feeling even more vulnerable. We wonder if we matter and if anyone cares about us. We just want someone to have empathy on us.

Empathy – noun : the ability to understand and share the feelings of another

To some the word empathy has negative connotations, but what if  we thought of the empathy as sitting on the curb with someone? I think that starts with us positioning ourselves in a way to listen to someone. It starts with three of the most important words in the English language. No, they aren’t I love you. The three most important words you can say to someone my age is TELL ME MORE. Tell me more puts you in a position to genuinely listen. So when you ask a millennial how are you doing and they respond with “good” please please say Tell Me More. It honestly will mean so much to them. It will mean you have time for them and they matter. And to a millennial that means everything in the whole world to them.

*Names have been changed in this next story

For me, the curb has become a couple places. The first is one of my coworkers offices, Martha* always listens, cares about what I have to say, and responds in a way that tells me that I matter. Her couch has become a curb in my life. That couch is somewhere that I do not have to perform but can be completely myself. And sometimes all of me is messy, it has faults, and shortcomings, but she accepts them all and loves me through it all. She asked me the other day to tell me more about what the curb and her office mean to me. I said “Martha, your office is such a safe place for me because I don’t have to be anything that I am not. I don’t have to live up to expectations in here and I can be myself completely.” I told her “The millennials including you and I we want someone, anyone to understand us. Because for me, to be fully understood is to be fully loved.” Secondly another curb in my life has become through another person who has come back into my life after going separate ways to college and some of post grad and then reconnecting in our hometown. Caroline* has just sat with me whether it be over coffee, dinner, or anything else we could thing to do when we hang out. She has sat and listened and not once tried to fix me. She knows that I am messy and yet does not ever try to fix me but has always tried to understand me. She knows my heart and yet still sits on the curb and does life with me. And all she asks for in return is that I do the same. That I sit on the curb with her and walk through life understanding her. Yes, we are all millennials and you may be asking “Well, how do I do this with people that are younger than me?” and I will answer that question with position yourself in a way that makes you listen.

“To be fully understood is to be fully loved”

You can start with these words when someone answers a question, TELL ME MORE, or some form of that, whatever feels natural. Put your heart and your posture in a position to listen. I promise you will learn more about millennials and probably any other age demographic on earth as well. People have stories and they are longing to be heard. Whether they are 5, 25, or 95 their story needs to be heard. People feel like they matter when they are listened to. Because people aren’t really much different than you are, and don’t you want to feel like you are understood? The time is now and there are people out there that need you to start listening and understanding where they are. When we start understanding people for who they are and not who you want them to be, the world might start to changing because you will begin to fight for them because you understand them.

So when someone answers the question, How are you? with a simple “good”, place your heart in a position to listen and say tell me more. Because we have stories and we want to share them but we don’t know if you care about listening until we see that you put yourself in a position to understand us. So lets be a culture that has empathy, listens, and sits on the curb with people.

Thad Ernst

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Embrace Your Place

Some people have great ambitions and dreams. Some know have a plan and how it will all work out for them. While others just know that their dream is just a dream that they use to escape reality for a little bit. I have met some really ambitious people in my life. Some that have accomplished so much by 25 it’s unreal. I have friends in the past 5 years that told me that their dream was to be on Broadway and they’ve accomplished that already. 

But what if you don’t know what steps to take to accomplish your dreams and you are just working a dead end job just to make it by? You have a dream but you also have bills. So you work to provide for yourself and your family while keeping your dream alive on the side. What if you hate your job because you want that dream so badly that it’s all you think about? It’s draining because you feel like if you could just accomplish some steps towards your dream you would feel better about doing that dead end job. 

I once heard from a wise man in my life that once he embraced his place he realized that he could make an impact with the cards that life had dealt him. That struck me really hard. Embrace your place. But I thought on it for awhile, 3 months to be exact, and realized there is such a power in that.

Embracing your place doesn’t just mean that you get stuck in a certain place forever. But instead it means that be the best whatever you are currently doing and when other opportunities come to you that move you closer to the ultimate goal you should take them. So let’s set up a scenario to illustrate it. You want to be a chef of a 5 star restaurant. But currently at the moment you are a waiter and you don’t enjoy your job because it’s not where you want to ultimately be. Embracing your place means that you just say to God everyday “if this is what you made me for, then I’m gonna try and be the best (whatever job or position you are in) that I can be.” It’s that moment when you surrender yourself and begin to live into your circumstances. 

“Once I embraced my place, I realized that I could impact the world around me”-Loyd Ingham

To embrace your place really just means that you grow exactly where you are planted until the Master Gardener uproots you to another place he has called you to be. Be who you are and work hard. One day you will get noticed and, going back to our scenario, get moved to another position in the restaurant. And eventually you will get to that dream that you want to get to. It might take you a long time but eventually you will get there.

For that wise man that is in my life, he didn’t get to his dream job until he was almost 60. But he embraced every place on the way to his dream job. He grew where he was planted and thrived despite not being exactly where he wanted to be. So just because you are not where you want to be in life does not mean you cannot thrive where God has called you to be for this time. So I encourage you embrace your place and grow where the Gardener has placed you. You never know what might happen if you do. 

I bet you that you will enjoy your job more if you surrender the desires of your heart and say if this is what I’m meant to do I will do it well. Your heart with loosen and you will do your job with more joy. Embrace your place and live the adventure that God has called you on.

Thad Ernst

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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.

mlk-love

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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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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What are the words you are speaking?: A response to the violence in the world

Today, I went to a movie alone. I went to a movie that may have quite honestly changed my life. I went alone because I didn’t want any distractions because I had heard this movie was quite powerful and incredible. The movie you may ask was “Free State of Jones”. Matthew McConaughey does a masterful job portraying Newton Knight. You can read more about the Newt Knight story here. But there was something that stood out to me in the movie over the violence that happened during the era of the civil war. It was not the fact that he stood up for his character and what he believed in even though that was really cool. Its the fact that Newt Knight made people feel important by his words.

About halfway through this movie, a kid came up to McConaughey’s character and said “Sir you made my brother a private (in your army)” and Knight responded “Is he younger or older than you?” The boy said “he’s younger”. Knight responded “Well if he’s a private, you can be a colonel”. The boy’s face lit up. It seemed like for once in his life that he was told that he was worth something. He was told that he mattered. He mattered to someone that was important to him.

It got me to thinking about a student in my youth ministry. When I met this kid last May they told me that they were just visiting. I didn’t make much of it but hey it was a visitor and that is cool. But they visited” again a couple weeks later. I began to ask around who is this kid? I was informed that the family was actually a big part of the church and then I wondered well why did he tell me that he was just visiting? So I sat down with my volunteers and just challenged them to make him feel loved and accepted. And come to find out there was a story of how the kid bit his brother at the beach one summer when they were really young and got the whole beach closed down because the lifeguards thought it was a shark. So we began to call the him the landshark. Every time that he walked in on Sundays we would put our fins up and welcome him and make him feel like he was the man. Raucous greetings like “Landshark in the building y’all!!!” And honestly who doesn’t love to be celebrated? But we made him feel apart of our group. He still goes to another youth group sometimes, that is coincidentally lead by one of my friends in the Memphis area. But this past weekend the kid went to Panama City Beach with us for a camp called Big Stuf.

I was so excited for him to go on this trip with us I could hardly sleep the night before. It was finally a time where I could connect one on one with him. And when we connected he BLEW me away. The dude is honestly incredible. He marches to the beat of his own drum, he is hilarious, and he is amazing. I didn’t want the trip to ever end because I got to see a different side of him (and I was at the beach). But all good trips have to end sometime, you know? But I think I was able to connect to him because we spoke life into him.

We made him feel important in a world that so often puts people down to lift others up. But we did not push anyone down to do this, we just made him feel recognized and important. How often do we make others feel important? Now you may not be able to make a kid a “colonel” in your army, but you can make people feel important by recognizing them and reaching out to them. You can make them feel valuable by giving them a compliment. Ephesians 4:29 speaks of this  “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” So let’s build people up and not tear them down. The rest of the world tears people down enough. The rest of the world stereotypes people and buries them in that stereotype. Why don’t we be people that roll away the stone that has been rolled in front of their “grave” and let them be free? Why don’t we make people feel important even if they don’t have a glamorous job? What if we treated garbage men and women like we treat NBA players? What if we treat the people that work at fast food restaurants like celebrities? The world may change. People may want to go to their jobs and work in the “low end” jobs because they feel appreciated. Every life matters. Black, yellow, red, blue, green, and white lives matter. Treat people like people and not anything less. If they are a human, they should be treated like a human. Make people feel important by celebrating them. Celebrate that they are living. Everyone deserves to be celebrated not just the people that society says to celebrate.

So stop treating people like they are less than you. Are they a human? If the answer is yes, treat them like a human. Love them, care for them, respect them, serve them, and appreciate them just because they are a human.

Be good and Rep your Hood

Thad Ernst

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What is a person worth?

Immediately some of you may have an answer to this question. But I will go ahead and ask my second question since some of you have already answered the first question. Are you being honest with yourself? Too often we give answers without actually considering if we would actually follow through with what we have just said. So again I will ask my first question, What is a person worth? So often we see in the United States that “Black Lives Matter” “White Lives Matter” “All Lives Matter”. But do we actually think that all lives matter?

I don’t think people in the United States actually believe that all lives matter. You want to know why, eh? Because this is such a selfish, instant gratification driven society. Sometimes we are so focused on the things that are going on in our own lives such as our job, sports teams, and anything else you do to realize that there are other people going through some hellacious situations. Sometimes we just get so zeroed in on us that we forget there are others around us. We get so focused on our own comfort zone that we forget that their are others around us that are hurting. We can say until we are blue in the face that we would help another person if we only knew what was going on. But why do we have to know to love them before things get too bad. I had a friend from high school who I had grown up playing soccer with who committed suicide this past year. People posted on social media, “We just didn’t know” “This took us all by surprise”. But Why? Why didn’t we know? Did we not take the time to ask him how he was doing? If we did ask him how he was did we let him get away with “Oh, I’m all good” and not ask why?

But let me get to the real point of writing this. You are valuable. Yes you, the one who is reading this is valuable. You know why you are valuable, because you have a heart beat, yes you are valuable because you are living. In a world that will bring you to your knees quickly if you left it, you need to know that you are valuable. No matter what color of skin you have, religious belief, sexual orientation, choice of teams you root for, or anything else that people devalue others on. You are worth it.

You are worth so much that Jesus would have still gone to the cross if you were the only person on earth. THAT IS UNREAL! God would have sent Jesus to die one of the most painful deaths a man could ever walk through because he wanted to show you how much you meant to the Lord. So when you are feeling down because this world has knocked you to your knees remember that you are worth it. The God of the universe loves you so much and He knows your name. The world says you must be famous to be worth anything but I’ll tell you that you are worth so much just because you have a pulse.

So I challenge you to make people feel like they are worth everything to you. Put your phone down and be intentional with the short amount of time that you get with people. Be with people and love them with all you have. Because people are worth it. They are worth so much more than we could ever imagine.

You are worth it.

Thad Ernst

Don’t go to church, They will judge you

I have talked to a few people who have left the church and I was able to ask them why? Why did they leave the church? The answers are answers that have been around for a long time. About half the people said because people in church are hypocrites. That people do not practice what they preach. Most of the other half said it was because that they felt judged when they went into church because they were different and did not fit into the mold that was “the church folk”.

I had never experienced anything of this sort until this past Sunday. Some of you may know that about a month ago, I got a tattoo that is visible when I wear short sleeve shirts. It is a purple elephant because I lost my Papa in August to Alzheimer’s. Purple is the color for Alzheimer’s and Elephants supposedly never forget. It is a tribute tattoo to my Papa and the brave fight that he had against this nasty disease. It is also a reminder that we can’t give up against Alzheimer’s. But this past Sunday it was warm enough to wear a short sleeve polo shirt to worship. Not only that, but I got a haircut this past Friday. It was a drastic change but it is pretty easy to take care of. Plus it was a free haircut done by people who were learning to cut hair in Memphis. Free is always great.

(Both pictured below)

Well I got to church, where I work, I was not greeted with “Hey Thad” or “Good to see you, man”. I was greeted with “where is your hair? Who did this to you?” Not the greeting I am used to. When I told one person that it was a free haircut, they replied with a “you get for what you pay for.” I feel like more was made out of my hair on Sunday then was made of the sermon that was preached. Even one of our contemporary worship leaders made a comment over the microphone.

And because it was warm and my tattoo was showing I got comments that were not positive on that as well. People saying “Oh, I didn’t know you had that.” and looking very negatively on it. Others pointing it out and just having faces of disgust that a church worker would have a tattoo showing on their body.

And I found this clip to even further illustrate my point of people being judged at church. It lead me to one question, Why? Why do we judge people so much without getting to know their hearts.But it also lead me to see why most churches cannot keep people around that are new.

I now see why people who are judged leave the church. People don’t even try to get to know people before they put a label on them. It really is not a fun thing to walk through when you can feel the eyes on you just staring you down and you are getting comments that aren’t positive. So that is why people decide to leave the church that they may be visiting. People come to church to be filled and worship God in a way that suits them. People, not just at church, don’t want people to be looking at them and speaking negatively about them.

But this is not what the church is about. People leave because they feel judged but what if every week we made people feel LOVED. If we loved, we could change the world. If we loved we could change the perception of what people think of the church. If we were devoted to love people as much as we were committed to making Facebook statuses or tweets. We could change the world. So lets think before we judge someone at church. Is this really what Jesus would want us to be doing?

Thad Ernst

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What the Cubs have taught me about Faithfulness

As some of you may know I’m a huge outspoken Cubs fan. I love the Cubs and have been a fan since I could remember. There has been a lot of years of downs and a few years of ups. But being a Cubs fan has taught me so much about the Lord and his character.

If you know anything about baseball, you might know that the Cubs have not won a World Series since 1908. We have not won a world championship since Joe Tinker and Johnny Evers were turning double plays and Three Finger Brown was hurling for the boys from Chicago. There has been so many years that the Cubs have looked full of promise and then fallen on their face. 1969  it was the stinkin New York Mets. 1984 it was Steve freakin Garvey and the San Diego Padres. 2003 Steve Bartman and then the Florida Marlins. 2007 and 2008 we ran away with the division and then got trounced in the first round of the playoffs.

This year started with so much promise. We had just signed Jon Lester and Joe Maddon and I was so pumped. But the talk was that we were a year away. That it would be 2016 when all the pieces would fall into place. We had the #1 prospect in baseball in the minors, Kris Bryant, and we had 3 other kids that were in the minors that would most likely see action for the big league club. Well we won 97 games and exceeded expectations. We won the wildcard game and then beat the hated St. Louis Cardinals out of the division round. We ran into a buzzsaw of the New York Mets (again) and we got beat out of the postseason. I was crushed. Not because we had gotten beaten out and would not win the World Series but I was so sad that this season which had been so fun was over. This was the year that I had seen our guys have so much fun playing for a manager who allowed them to be themselves. A manager who told them to wear pajamas on the flight home from a late August west coast trip, which just so happened to end with a Sunday Night game against the Dodgers where Jake Arrieta threw a no hitter. Subsequently Jake gave his no hitter press conference in a moustache onesie.

But as I have been thinking about this for a couple weeks, I have realized something. I realized something that it has now taken 23 years to learn. The love that I have for the Cubs, is a fraction of the love that the Lord has for us. I have seen a 100+ loss year, two 90+ loss season, and an 89 loss season since I graduated from high school alone. Eight 90+ losses since I was born 23 years ago. But yet I still keep coming back and rooting for my beloved Cubs.

And I realized as I sat in my apartment last week re-watching games from last season. I realized that despite all of my sin that God, who created the Universe, has been faithful to me. To me, the scrub that falls into sin often. I realized that I am the Cubs. I am the team that loses often and has not won the title since 1908. That is me and God is the fan that despite the many losses still comes back the next day and cheers me on. The one that still believes in me even though I have so many losses. I commit so many errors and yet God still loves me and truly wants to come the next day and watch me.

The Cubs may just be a sports team to some people, but to me they have taught me so much about my walk with the Lord. So much to learn from fanship. But what is the coolest I believe is that no matter who your team is, you can learn something about how God works. He is faithful to us even when we fall, fail, lose, and commit errors.

So let’s find way that we can be more faithful to the Lord. So for 2016, my goal is to try and be more faithful to the Lord. I will probably have days where I fall and stumble in my pursuit of that. But I believe that God will continue to be faithful and pursue me every day. So I will try my hardest to do the same.

So what are you going to learn this year?

Thad Ernst

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8 things I have found out by the time I turn 23

Tomorrow is my 23rd birthday. As I reflect on 23 years of life, I have realized a few things. Like how to iron a shirt, pay bills, and graduate from college. But those aren’t the most important things that I have learned in my life. As I hit the iconic birthday, I know what you are thinking “23 iconic?” But for me 23 is a huge birthday because it is a number that has been worn by two of my sports heroes and are retired in the beloved city of Chicago. Those two heroes, Michael Jordan and Ryne Sandberg wore 23. So these are a list of the things that I have learned in my 23 years of life.

1. LOVE PEOPLE

Love people. Yes that sounds hard. But it really is not that tough. We as people, in a world that is full of hurt and pain, have to be people that love big. We have to love people in the most ways possible. You may be asking Thad what does that look like? I will tell you. That means be kind. Give people compliments often. Don’t hold back on giving people compliments. Its not like there is a winner or loser for compliments. People win when you give them compliments. Give people more hugs. Let people know how much you value them. Give them a gift. Write them a letter. Make them feel appreciated and like they are worth an infinite amount of money. Show them they mean something to you by showing up to their events and being present *I’ll hit on this later. There are whole books on this. Bob Goff has a great on called Love Does. (Best book I have ever read). But in all seriousness love people and don’t just do it half way. Love people with everything that you have.

2. Be Intentional

In a world that is so full of being connected via social media and with your phone. We have lost the ability to be able to connect to people face to face. Going along with loving people, you cannot love people if you do not connect with the people that are in front of your face. It is hard to love people from afar and not be involved in their life. So let’s hang up the phone/put it away when you are with people. and HANG OUT with the people that are with you. Ask the tough questions that will strengthen your relationship with that person. If you ask shallow questions you will have a shallow relationship. So be intentional with your friends. Go to things that they are in. I.E. shows, sporting events, concerts, and anything else that you can show up to without looking strange. When you are with them, be with them. The people on the phone/social media can wait. There are real life people in front of you so be intentional and use your time to love them well.

3. Be Passionate

I think this is one of the most important thing you can be. If you are not passionate about what you are doing then why are you doing it? Do things that you wake up in the morning and want to do. If you have passion for what you are doing then you will most likely do it better. But be careful when you have passion that you are sensitive to other people. They are not all as passionate as you are about whatever it is that you are passionate about. That is okay they are allowed to think differently than you because they are a different human being than you. But be passionate about things. Don’t just go through life living without any fire for what you are doing.

4. Live in Community

Have some friends! Seriously do not be a hermit. You cannot live and be a lone wolf, lone ranger, or anything else that you could imagine being the lone one of. I tried to do it and was extremely unsuccessful. For 5 months in Memphis I really did not have too many friends and my morale suffered. But in the past month I have found friends and it has been the most rewarding thing. But have friends. Invite them over to hang out. Go to dinner. Do life with other people. If it worked in the Bible than it can work today. Reminder, you are not a lone wolf. You are a person that needs people in your life to encourage, challenge, love, and laugh with you.

5. Travel

This is one that you all that know me would go “Why isn’t this one higher up on the list?” Yes I travel a lot. But go see your friends where they live. You usually will have a free place to stay if you stay with a friend. But go and see things before you settle down. Go places. See things that you have never seen. Road trip with friends. Sleep on a couch. Travelling for a weekend is so fun. So while you have the time and resources, travel! It will be worth it. You can see wonderful things if you drive. My rule is if it is in 10 hours I can drive there. So set an hour limit for driving and go! You can experience some wonderful things. I promise.

6. Stay grounded

Don’t get too high on yourself. No one likes a person who has their nose too high in the air. People don’t always want to talk about you and what you are doing. Stay rooted and don’t let yourself get filled with pride when you accomplish something. Be proud of yourself but don’t be conceited in thinking that because you accomplished something that you are too good for anyone. Stay humble. People are attracted to people who accomplish great things but are also humble enough to be viewed as a normal human being. Garth Brooks is a great example of this. Now if you do not know, I grew up with Garth’s daughters. Garth was a normal guy and you would have never known that he had sold out arenas all over the world by how he acted. He was so humble in his actions and I am grateful that he did not portray himself as better than anyone around him.

7. Most Things are not Eternal

You might be at this point of the post going Thad has said nothing spiritual at all. Well here we go. I was told my freshman year of college that grades, when my grades were not doing too hot, were not eternal. That has had a profound effect on me. While in Colossians 3:17 it says “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” So I am not saying that you should not work hard at school because while you are in school that is one way to glorify God. But grades and most things on this earth are not eternal. They are going to pass away. Jobs, clothes, cars, houses, and any other material thing will fade away. Let’s not stress about things of this world that will not matter at the end of your life. So let’s build people up and encourage them. People are not eternal either but they are what is going to there at the end of your life rather than all of your stuff. How you are with people will determine how your legacy is left. So invest in things that are eternal. Like leading others to Christ, loving people well, and serving the world with all that you have.

8. BE/LOVE YOURSELF

This is something that I want to stress more than anything. Be who you are. Be the person that you were made to be. Yes, that means have your own style. Yes, that means listen to whatever music you want. Be you. I say that because there are too many people trying to be someone who they aren’t. So I ask you, why are you trying to be someone who you are not? Love yourself. Love who you were made to be. From loving yourself there comes a confidence that cannot be shaken. I challenge you to be yourself. Sure people will talk and try to discourage you from being you. But don’t let that talk deter you from being the person who you are.

Thad Ernst