IN ALL ERNESTNESS


Maybe I shouldnt share this but oh well…
March 30, 2010, 9:57 pm
Filed under: family, friends, justice, life, love, ministry, missions, people, prayer, religion, whatever

Allow me to be vulnerable for a moment. I probably shouldn’t, but then again, maybe I should…Either way here it goes.  I have a passion and a desire to change the world for Christ, to make a difference and be a part of something bigger than myself. No surprise huh? I recently shared that with you all. The truth is that as much as that is true I have allowed road blocks such as fear and doubt and excuses to keep from doing just that. About 3 years ago I experienced something in ministry that more than I would ever like to admit shook me spiritually…it shook my confidence, it shook my thoughts, and more…I will not go into details as they are not as important as to the result. This time should have been the moment that I rose up and took advantage of the situation and ran after all of my dreams and my desires…It should have been my greatest moment spiritually…instead, it was quite the contrary. Sure I went after some things and pursued some of the things I wanted to do ministry wise and for God but with a broken confidence and a fear that I just didnt measure up to what I needed to be. There were others already doing some of the things who were better than me…why would I be used instead of them. ..so on…the typical things…the things I would so many times counsel others about…

I would look at others who were doing some really cool things and ask myself, “Why can they do it and you not?” The true answer to that is there is no reason. God can use me and wants to use me just as much as the next person but I would run excuses like, “Its the school the went to and the contacts they were able to make due to that” or it was this reason or that reason…there was always an excuse. The saddest part of all? I was allowing myself to believe those excuses. Only recently have I allowed myself to wake up to the fact that the things I am saying to you are true. My wife has even questioned me about it in the past and I would deny it, offer her some excuses and would get upset and defensive that she would even suggest such a thing…the truth is she was right. I am sorry that it took me this long to allow myself to see it for what it is. How she puts up with me or has had the patience she has had with me I do not know.

I dont know why i am even telling you this now. Once again, I probably shouldn’t except for there may be some of you in the same position battling the same thing. I also would ask for accountability in these areas…fell free, in fact I ask you to question me on what I am doing to achieve my dreams and to follow after what I feel God wants me to do.  Ask me if I have been allowing fear, doubt, and or excuses get in my way…and if I offer you a lame excuse, find me and kick me really hard.

With all of this in mind I want to to share something with you today…a peak at my heart. I recently asked on Twitter and Facebook , “if money were not an concern, what would you want to do with your life?” In asking that I had to ask myself the same question….

I recently had a friend ask how they could pray for us. I think the answer I gave them is also the answer to my question…here is my response…

Instead of out right answering that let me just share my heart with you once again. My desire/dream is to mobilize todays youth and young people to make a difference in their world, at home and abroad. There are so many injustices such as unclean water, orphans, human trafficking, starvation, extreme poverty, etc that are occurring all across the globe. Not to mention the spiritual state the majority of this world is in. I truly believe that God mandates us as Christians to fight these injustices (Isaiah 1:17) as well as share the love of Christ to others. The problem I see is that the church as a whole ends up playing church more than being the church. We show up on Sundays and occasionally on Wednesdays and we pay our tithes and sometimes missions and think we are doing pretty good. We plan all kinds of fun activities and events, we have all kinds of programs to get involved in but our Christian lives must be more than that, they must go beyond that. We spend a lot of time and effort trying to be “better Christians” when we need to be learning how to love like Christ and what that looks like. I believe that when we truly love God and love people then we will be better Christians and all the other stuff falls into place.

Anyway, most young people I have met want to change the world. They want to make a difference. They just dont know how or they, like many of us, allow fear or doubt to dash our dreams. They are passionate, they are resourceful, they are not all hung up on traditions and rituals, and they are more real than most of us “older folk” will ever be. I truly believe that if we can get them in on this; if we can mobilize them and give them chances to make a difference and create change that not only will they forever be changed but will change others which can ultimately change the future.

Scripture talks of a spiritual revival; a great awakening…well, it has to start somewhere and my money is on the youth of this world.

All that said, I have allowed fear, doubt, and a multitude of excuses to keep me from pursuing my dream to reach this generation of young people in this way. I am tired of my life being ran by fear, doubt, and excuses, so if you want to know how you can most pray for us, I would say this is it.

Thank you for being a friend and an advocate. You are much loved.

Blessings,

Ernest

For too long I have allowed walls to block me from pursuing the things in life that truly make me tick…the things that I am truly passionate about and care about. Some of those walls (if not most) were built by me…Well, I am tired of the walls, I am tired of the fear, I am tired of the excuses that have far too long kept me from doing the things I really want to do…

Today is the day I take the sledgehammer to those walls…today is the day I strap back on those running shoes and chase after the things I am passionate about…Today is the day I allow the real Ernest, the Ernest that God intended for me to be, to be free to pursue the desires that God has placed in my heart…

I dont know about you but I really do want to make a difference. I really do want to create change. I really do want to be a part of something bigger than myself. I want to do more than make a living…I want to live the life God intended for me to live. The dangerous, passionate, adventure filed life of a true Christ follower that follows his Rabbi so closely that he gets covered in the dust from his feet…

We all can make a difference, we all can create change, we all can be a part of something bigger than ourselves…Most of us won’t…but some will. I want to be the some that will.

I ask that you hold me accountable…because today is the day, but tomorrow has to be the day too…and the day after that…and the day after that…



Please Help….
February 21, 2010, 6:00 pm
Filed under: adoption, family, friends, Haiti, justice, life, love, people, politics, prayer, Uncategorized, whatever
Please read the email below. It sounds way too familiar. It seems that not too much has changed when it comes to parents getting their adoptive kids out of Haiti. The US Embassy seems to still be a mess and not much of a help. You guys came to our rescue and helped in a major way when we were working to get Ronel home. Will you do the same for her. As we have said before, our story is only one of many…Thanks. BTW, since sending this email she has went public so we need to get her story out to anyone and everyone we can. Thanks again.
Hello,
I’ve been following your story while waiting for my son to come home. He is two and from Children of the Promise in Cap Haitien, Haiti. My blog is www.thethackerpack.blogspot.com I just don’t want you to think that I am a crazy stalker!
Will you please pray for our situation right now?
On Friday morning, I flew into PAP on an Agape flight. I was met at the airport by two escorts from the orphanage and six children. I was coming to help escort my son, Reese, age two, and five other children home to the United States. We waitied all day at the US Embassy for the last military flight out of there. (It was so wonderful to be with Reese) All of the children were cleared to leave, signed off by the Prime Minister, etc. The flight was cancelled. Big surprise. We were told we could make our own private arrangements b/c there would be no more military flights out. We arranged to have Agape flights fly us out on noon on Saturday. We stayed with the children in a guest house on Friday night.
On Saturday morning, we packed up the kids in a taxi and headed to the airport. Minutes after the taxi dropped us off, we were attacked by an angry mob of men saying that we were trying to steal the children. They tried to take the kids from us. The Haitian police came and detained all of us. It was horrible until the US Embassy got there. They were pretty worthless though. We sat on the street with the children outside of the airport for six hours while the Haitian police, border patrol, immigration, and the US embassy had a huge pissing match. It was unbeliveable. Then they took us down to a police station for three hours while they continued to sort things out.  Thye let us go, but they took the children from us and they are sitting in a Unicef tent camp. I’m writing this out and I can’t even believe that this has happened. I am staying at an international doctor’s house. The US Embassy is “working” on it. Actually, I’m pretty sure that Hillary Clinton has gotten involved. It escalated quickly. I know for sure that my senator from MN is heavily involved. My husband is in Florida right now waiting for us to get out of Haiti. He was going to meet the plane on Saturday afternoon!
I am a strong believer and Jesus’ supernatural peace is comforting me right now, but my mind seems so muddled that I can barely from coherent words to pray. Will you please pray on behalf of Reese and the other children? I’m not posting this on my own blog yet, because I don’t want my parents to worry and be so upset.
Even though I have never met you, I feel a bond with your family as we have fought to get our children out of Haiti.
Sincerely,
Sarah Thacker


Do you know someone?
February 16, 2010, 12:03 am
Filed under: justice, life, love, ministry, missions, people, prayer, religion, Uncategorized, whatever | Tags: , , , , , ,

Have you ever thought there is more to life than what you were living? Have you ever thought there is more to following God than what you were experiencing? These are the thoughts that have led us to where we are.

A few years ago I was on staff at a church and we were doing all the “church” things. On the outside all looked well, but on the inside there were spots of emptiness. There had to be more to God than what we were living and teaching, if there wasn’t then church and God really were boring. Eventually this caused us to leave our church position. To what, we really didn’t know. In the time that followed we developed a deeper meaning of what it means to love God, love people. We have a deeper compassion for others. We have been moved to live more simply, want less, and give more (not only monetarily but with our lives as well). We have been introduced to the homeless in the Houston Montrose area. We have been introduced to Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere and our hearts burn for them. We have made contacts and friends there and have been privileged to make several trips. We have been introduced to others whom God is moving; kindred hearts and kindred spirits. We are not the same and we are thankful.

Complacency is no longer an option. We want to be more and do more for the cause of Christ. We don’t want to just play church, we want to be the church. We don’t want to play Christian, we want to be true followers of Christ. We want to make a difference.

In the past few years God has allowed us to do some really cool things and be a part of some pretty amazing stories as He used this time to change us and grow us. However, lately I have not been able to rest and my mind has been constantly going over all the needs and the injustices in this world. I have been thinking about what it really looks like to love as God loves and to truly follow Him with our lives. I’ve been thinking of my own life and where I am. I have been meditating, praying, seeking…and I feel God leading…leading me away from my cubicle and back to full-time service with my life. Not to just join a church staff or play church but to really serve Him and live for Him. To be a part of a ministry, organization, or group of people who are passionate about the same things I am and have the same hunger and desire to see things done, to make a difference and create change. Do you know someone/somewhere who fits that description? Do you fit that description? If so, I would love to talk with you. Below are a few things about myself…

What I am not: I am not perfect. In fact, I am far from it. I make mistakes and have made mistakes, some really big ones to be exact. But ,as much as I hate them, those mistakes have helped make me to who I am today. God truly can bring beauty from ashes. He truly does not waste a hurt if we turn it over to Him.

What I am: I am passionate, dedicated, determined, and hungry.

Passionate: I am passionate about a God that loves me so much He sent His son, Jesus, the Liberating King, to die for me. I am passionate about a Gospel that is relevant to today and about introducing people to that Gospel. I am passionate about being Christ to those around me; about loving God, loving people. I am passionate about the needs and the injustices of this world. I am passionate about family.

Dedicated: I am dedicated to the various obligations, tasks, and goals set before me. I am dedicated to sharing the message and the love of the Liberating King with others. I am dedicated to loving God, loving people and living that love out loud. I am dedicated to confronting the injustices and meeting the needs of this world in any way possible. I am dedicated to my family; to be someone who they can trust, depend on, and to be a leader they can follow.

Determined: I am determined to do more than just exist. I am determined to do more than just make a living. I am determined to make a difference. I am determined to create change in this world for the name of Christ. I am determined to see the church be the church God intended it to be and to see Christians living lives of faith that are real and go beyond our typical Sunday and mid-week routines and rituals.

Hungry: I am hungry for something different, for change. Change in this world. Change in myself. Change in the church. Hungry to do something adventurous, amazing, and crazy for God and hungry to lead others to do the same. I am hungry to be a part of something bigger than myself.

Hungry to live out Isaiah 1:17 which says, “Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Rebuke the oppressor. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.”

Plea: If you know of someone or a ministry/organization (or if you are that someone) who could use someone like me please let me know. I know this may seem crazy but I am serious. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you!



God…boring…really?
February 12, 2010, 4:57 pm
Filed under: adoption, family, friends, fun, justice, life, love, ministry, missions, people, religion, Uncategorized, whatever | Tags: , , , ,

Why don’t people like going to church? Although there are many different answers to this, one of the ones that I have heard the most is that church is boring…

Now, I was thinking about this on the way to work this morning and I really don’t think God intended for church to be boring. God is not a boring god. When we look to Scripture we don’t see Jesus, the disciples, or any of the other followers of Him leading boring lives…so why do we?

We are the ones that make church boring. We are the ones that make God boring. If anything has been reiterated in my life during the recent events, its that following God is not boring…God does not write boring stories…we make them boring with our mundane, safe lives of complacency and comfort.

Church isn’t boring due to the lack of programs and activities, or the style of music that’s played, the version of Scripture that’s used, etc…it’s boring due to the lack of passion and unabandoned love for God and our neighbor.

When we throw aside selfish ambition, when we throw aside the pursuit of comfort and complacency, when we realize following God is more than showing up to church on Sundays and Wed. (or whatever days you go), when we realize that following God is more than throwing a check into a plate as its passed by, when we realize that following God is more than putting a fish emblem on our car or listening to Christian radio, when we throw aside our own agenda and fully sell out to God’s it is then the true adventure begins…

May we all climb out of our cocoon of safety and complacency and join the wild adventurous life of truly following God and living lives of true love!!!



God’s Grin
February 10, 2010, 12:14 am
Filed under: adoption, family, friends, fun, Haiti, justice, life, love, ministry, people, Uncategorized, whatever | Tags: , , , , ,

It had been a long night. I hadn’t slept in over 34 hrs and even then only for a short spell. My mind is tired and my body exhausted. 9 days I’d been away from home and 8 days I’d camped inside the U.S. Embassy. Cold, hard tile doesn’t make the best of beds. Just 24 hrs earlier all hell had broke loose inside the Embassy (or should I say Consul General Donald Moore’s house) and we were being threatened to be removed by military force. We had all been told our paperwork was finalized and approved and we were ready to go. There were some beaurocratic issues with the military flights but if we could get a private flight we were good to go. We got the planes; they kept us there…they had lied. In fact, our papers hadn’t even been sent to Haitian PM. With limited sleep and high emotions our frustration poured out. The voices had been heard though because after things settled down we began to see progress and within 24 hrs we were being loaded onto a C-17 and headed for Miami. Now after 5-1/2 hrs in customs and immigration we were bussed to His House Childrens Home. Here the kids were all taken to be bathed, cleaned, an allowed to play while we, the adoptive parents, had to fill out paperwork to finalize the guardianship process for the humanitarian parole. I finished the paperwork after only a few hours and got to go play with R while they processed it all.
It’s almost over an we can’t wait to get home but minutes turn to hours as we await the call telling us we are released and free to go. We watch as family after family is released. There were 2 flights headed to Houston that night…we already missed the first and the 2nd is leaving at 6p. Time is slipping away and people are telling me there is no way we are going to make the flight. It’s now 5p and I look over to find R with his face buried into his hands. I have flashbacks of us in the Embassy when his eyes filled with discouragent as he told me we were all lying and we really weren’t going to get to leave. Please God, make this happen.
A car pulls up and a lady steps out to pick up another family who just got clearance…”Mam, I’ve really got to catch a 6pm flight, will you please see what the hold up is?” She calls the front office, talks for a little while then hangs up. “Mr. Parker, you’re finished now. You just need to get your paperwork and sign out, but you’ll never make a 6p flight. We are about 45 min from the airport.” “Thank you, I just want to try. Will you call me a cab?”
We drive to the front office and there is a man about to leave. He happens to be going to the airport an says we can hitch a ride. I ran inside, grabbed my paperwork, signed out, and jump into his van.” I felt like I was in an episode of the Amazing Race. My heart was beating so fast, sweat was dripping down my face, and prayers were going up. I get a message with my flight details. We are going first class, are you kidding me? It’s rush hour and we run into traffic…I gaze at my watch, it’s 5:35p. My heart is in my throat…please God, get us there.
We finally arrive at MIA and it’s 5:45p and we still have to get our tickets and go through security. We are definitely cutting it close.
We run to the ticket counter to find they have given our seats up…are you kidding me? “we are sorry, Mr. Parker, but we can get you in coach.” “Just get me home!” i tell her. She calls a guy over and tells him we are first class passengers and need to get on that plane. He takes us over and helps get us through security quicker than Ive ever made it before.
The race is on. We are running like crazy and poor R doesn’t understand what all is going on. “Papa!” “Papa!” “What?” I ask. “Papa, gotta pee pee!” Really? I see the desperation in his eyes so we find the nearest rest room and “go”.
As we finally reach our gate i realize the door to the Tarmac is closed…my heart falls. “Mam, can you get us on? We’ve got to make this flight!” she calls the captain, turns, smiles, and opens the door…we’ve made it!
At that very moment I knew we were going to be home that night. We would see Mama and Carly and Colton and Jude and many others. No more Embassy floor, no more fighting governemnt officials and beaurocracy, no more racing against time…we were going home! I felt like a kid on Christmas Eve.
As I sat and thought of all the prayers going up for us to make the flight, of the Amazing Race to the airport, the worries, the anxiety involved in making that flight to get home…all of the excitement…I thought of God. I imagined Him like a father who eagerly awaits for his kids to open thier gifts on Christmas morning…
He knew I was going to make the flight. He didn’t have to wait until the absolute last second to release us from the Childrens home…but He did. It added to the excitement…added to the story…and made making the flight that much sweeter!
I imagine Him as I was growing anxious an stressing an questioning…that He was sitting back with a grin in his face waiting for my gift to be opened…and what a great gift it was!



Haiti…in the shadow of the quake.

As I sit here at my computer in the safe comforts of my home I find the words hard to come by. What do you say when a country you love so much, when a people who have stolen your heart, when a son you long to hold and bring home have been through so much…are going through so much? We have watched CNN and other news sources basically non-stop, Anderson Cooper has become a fixture in our home, our twitter and facebook accounts have been on overdrive and our computers are being tested as we scour blogs from friends and acquaintances looking for information.

The mixtures of emotions take their toll as fear ravishes us as we wait without word to find out that our son in Haiti is okay, elation follows when we finally find out that he along with others we greatly care about are okay, then heartbreak as we think about those under the rubble and of those crying out in agony because words can’t express the depth of their loss.

I have been fortunate enough to walk the streets of Port Au Prince and other areas in Haiti. I have looked into the faces of those who live there, I have climbed the mountains and swam in the waters. It is a country with little when it comes to possession but much when it comes to pride and resilience. Their smiles light up the place despite their lacking and you heart is warmed as each person you pass greets you with a pleasant “Bonjour!” I love that country, I love those people, and now my heart breaks for them. A friend of mine once shared a Haitian proverb with me that I found to be true. It says, “When you go to Haiti it will break your heart and you never leave with all the pieces.”

As I think about the quake two questions came to mind…

Why? Why did this have to happen? I can’t fully answer that but I do know that my God is good and He is in control and He can make beauty from the ashes…I see this as I witness the needs of the Haitians being brought to the forefront…not just the needs from the quake but the needs they face everyday. The fact that 80% of Haitians don’t have access to clean water, the unemployment rate is estimated to be around 60 percent, the literacy rate is approximately 45 percent, 80% of the population lives in abject poverty and the unemployment rate is estimated to be nearly 90 percent as half the population of Haiti earns $60 or less per year. The fact that there were 1.2 million orphans in Haiti (who know what that number will be now). The fact that we live in such comfort as there are those such as Haiti who live so much without.

What? What can we do? How can we help? It is not feasible for you and I to jump on a plane and run over there. In fact, their resources are so limited that if we were to how would they feed us and provide shelter for us when they can’t provide the same things for themselves. So what do we do? We pray! Then we pray some more! Pray for the Livesays and McHouls in Port Au Prince. Pray for Lori and Licia and the others at the Rescue Center in Cazale. Pray for Pastor Henry and Mrs. Gladys and the others at Canaan. Pray for all who are in Haiti. God is able to do exceedingly above all we can ever ask or think. Then we give! Give of your time getting the word out. Give of your finances. As Americans we whine about the recession we are experiencing but we are still a blessed people. Give to organizations like Compassion who are providing for the needs of the Haitians. A $35 donation to Compassion can provide food and water to a Haitian family for a week. Buy a Help Haiti shirt in which 100% of the proceeds go directly to those in Haiti. Don’t forget. As the days began to pass don’t allow the everyday hub of life cause you to forget the people in Haiti that need your help and prayers. And then, if you can, adopt. As previously stated there are over 1.2 million orphans in Haiti. They need a home…could that be your home? They need a family…could that be your family? They need love…could that love come from you?

God, we pray that your love and mercy will flood the country of Haiti. We pray that your greatness and your glory will be shown. We pray for the loss and teh devastation the people of Haiti are experiencing and pray that you would fill them with the peace that passes all understanding. We pray for us, as we live in the comforts of one of the richest nations in the world and watch these events take place in one of the poorest, that we will moved to action. – Amen



This is what Jesus looks like…

My wife directed me to this video today. It directly fits into the many conversations we have been having lately regarding our own family and our own lives. This is what Jesus looks like. Too many times we go to church and we play church but what if we actually were the church? What if we truly became the church to the world around us? What would that look like? What impact would that have? What if? What if I, what if you choose to be Christ and to be the church to those around us?