Articles Tagged Christ
We can't wait to see all of you this summer. Many of you have been asking about our songlist so I decided to post it here. We will not be able to play all of these during any given week but this is the list we will pull from. Enjoy!
1.This Is Amazing Grace (Wickham)
2.Nothing But the Blood of Jesus (Bledsoe)
3.Break every Chain (Bethel)
4.Open Up Our Eyes (Elevation)
6.He Is Faithful (Torwalts/Bethel)
8.Forever (Short form & Long Form)
10. One Thing Remains (Passion)
11. Glory of it All (NTS only)
12. Christ Is Enough (Hillsong)
13. Set A Fire (Will Reagan/Bethel)
14. No Longer Slaves (Helser/Bethel)
15. Jesus We Love You (Bethel)
16. All of Me - I Surrender All (Soul City Worship)
17. Holy Spirit (Torwalts/Bethel)
Posted on June 9th, 2015 by Erik Bledsoe
Hey everyone, I know I’ve been away for a few weeks but there are good reasons for that. I have been off line entirely, not just my blog. I have needed some clarity on some decisions that are still in process and felt it necessary to remove the mental clutter that often takes up a lot of the free space on my mental hard drive. More on that later. Today I thought I would share a thought I’ve been chewing on lately. I recently heard someone say that they felt that perhaps they were in the midst of a “season of preparation”. In particular they were sharing this in light of the way they felt like their life was on hold, as if they had been put on pause. While the scripture makes clear in various places, Ecclesiastes 3 being the most popular, that there are times and seasons, I think it is important to keep our perspective clear. There is never a season of preparation or waiting that was not previously prepared for in a past season. (Pause, read that again. Ready? Ok). Simply said, every today is yesterday’s tomorrow. You have only now in this moment to live. While we diligently prepare for tomorrow we can’t be sure it will ever come and it is arrogant of us to assume that the Lord will gift us with it. James 4:13-17 says this very thing, our life is a vapor and we should not assume we will do this or that, but rather say “if the Lord wills it we will live...” I think that’s why James concludes this thought with verse 17, “To the one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to them it is sin.” James is saying that now is the only moment we’ve got. If we keep waiting in anticipation for a better or future time we will never do the right thing. If we know what’s right and don’t do it right now, that’s sin, because now is the only future we’ve got. The Apostle Peter addresses this same thing in his second letter. He talks about how the character and qualities of Christ and how they should be increasing gradually in each of us as believers. Then he says this in verse 8, “If these qualities are yours and increasing they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” As we are becoming more and more like Christ, no matter what season we find ourselves in spiritually, whether spring, summer, fall or the coldest of winters, we are always useful and full of purpose. Where are you? Are you struggling with your sense of purpose, like all of us do from time to time? Do you feel like maybe your life is in a holding pattern? Take heart and know that your Heavenly Father doesn’t waist anything! Even though you may be struggling now, know that the Lord has prepared you for this moment as much as He is using it to prepare you for the next. There is LIFE in this moment, right now. Embrace it, drink deeply of it, even if it stings and know that even in the toughest of times we can still bear fruit, we still have a destiny in Christ. Even as we have been prepared for this moment so this moment has been prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10). We have a work to do right here, right now! We have not been forgotten about, we have not been left on the shelf! Let us resolve again to pursue our Heavenly Father, to wade into the deeper waters of His love. As His character is revealed in us we may find that this is the moment we’ve been waiting for all along.
Posted on August 6th, 2010 by Erik Bledsoe
I’ll never forget the dumb-founded, stunned feeling Betsy and I shared when we found out we were pregnant. We had only been trying for a month so we were totally shocked at how “effective” our efforts had been. We sat down on the couch next to each other, shoulder-to-shoulder, and just stared off into the unknown future in total silence for what seemed like hours. After the dizziness wore off it was replaced by terror.... “How am I going to pay for this?” In the months leading up to Henry’s birth I have been amazed at the mantle of responsibility and determination that have increased in my own heart. I still remember where I was when I felt this overwhelming sense of peace and ownership, my heart and mind were changed in a moment. I was no longer afraid of the truth; I was energized by it! I didn’t HAVE to provide....I GOT to provide. From that moment on preparing for his arrival was wonderful. Whether it was putting together the crib, fixing up the house or buying those first diapers, it was a so much fun! If our son was going to need it than we stopped at nothing to provide the best for him that we could. Throughout the scripture one of the names of the Lord is Jehovah-Jireh. It is often simply translated to mean, “The Lord will provide.” More correctly said it means that the Lord sees our need before it arises and supplies provision for it. In the same way that I, as a father-to-be, began to prepare for my son’s needs before he was even born, so our Heavenly Father prepares for us. The Bible makes it clear that in addition to blessing and gifting us with new life in Christ, as Christians the Lord has also provided good works for us to walk into (Ephesians 2:8-10), and will continue to supply all of our needs. There were many times in preparing for Henry that the proverbial barrel was empty, we had no idea how we were going to get what we needed and be able to make the bills too. It was a very scary feeling, “what have we gotten ourselves into?!” And then, seemingly out of nowhere, some long-lost relative would send us a check in the mail, or friends would call and say, “Hey, I was gonna throw this away and then I thought of you.” By the time everything was provided and accounted for the only things we actually had to buy were the crib and car seat (safety warnings say these should be purchased new) and a used rocker, everything else was gifted to us. Are heads are still spinning at the incredible generosity of the Lord through the relationships He has given us. God’s hand in providing everything we need has been so evident. Why did I ever doubt? Maybe I thought it was too much trouble for the Lord? Maybe He would forget about me? Now that I’m a Father I have a different understanding; the Lord doesn’t just provide for us out of a sense of responsibility or because He said He would, it’s his joy to do it! He loves us so much that there is nothing He wouldn’t do, He will spare no expense, not even the life of His only Son, to provide for us everything we need. We can trust Him, He’s our Father, He loves us and He sees our needs before we have them and then reveals his provision in His perfect timing.
Posted on June 17th, 2010 by Erik Bledsoe
That's me on the left, June 18, 1977 and Henry is in the exact same outfit on the right, May 7, 2010. They were almost my parent’s first words the first time they laid eyes on my son, “He looks just like you!” Without a minutes pause both grandparents started comparing noses and chins, eyes and hair. “Oh he’s got Daddy’s ‘this’, oh and ‘that’ looks just like his Mommy.” It was almost like watching a skit on Saturday Night Live, absolutely hysterical! I’m sure the whole experience was of course magnified by the fact that I had just met my son for the first time and was thinking many of the same thoughts. The truth is, Henry looked so much like me when he was born it was a little creepy. It was literally like looking at myself. Since Henry’s birth we have been blessed to have 50+ visitors come by the house to celebrate his arrival. It has become one of my most anticipated moments, when during each visit I know they will inevitably say, “He looks just like you!” There is just something about those words. They absolutely light me up inside. Can you imagine it any other way? What if my son didn’t look like my wife or me at all? What if he came out looking more like and alien with green skin and beady eyes, like something from a low budget sci-fi movie? We would still be completely in love with him but there would be a lot of questions. Like, was Betsy abducted by a group of extra-terrestrials?! Are we his parents at all? I don’t mean to take a weird turn with this but my point is, except in a few medically specific situations, children generally resemble their parents in some way. Whether it’s in their physical appearance or the sound their laugh, if you hang around children long enough you begin to notice more and more the little ways that they are just like their Mom and Dad. It’s the same way in our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Once we have been “born again” in Christ we are His children. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” As our old self dies it is replaced by the life and character of Christ. Our lives are to be lived in such a way that we become “mini-me’s” of Jesus. In fact, the early church was so successful at emulating the life of Jesus that unbelievers began calling them Christians, which literally means “little Christ”. So my question is this, are we living our lives in such a way that when people see us they say, “You look just like your Father!”? Do we look just like Jesus? Can people see His love in our eyes? Are our hands serving like His? Does our mouth bring healing when we speak? If we don’t live in a way that reflects and resembles the character of Jesus and yet we claim him as our Father, it is no different then my wife and I giving birth to an alien child; people will wonder if He’s really our Father at all. But, when we do demonstrate the love of Christ, when we do reveal He’s our Father by the way we live it pleases Him more than anything else. He loves us unconditionally, there’s nothing we could ever do to make Him love us more or less, but our Heavenly Father longs to hear those words spoken of us “He looks just like Jesus.”
Posted on June 15th, 2010 by Erik Bledsoe
Change. Some of us like it, most of us try to grin and bear it and yet others despise it. However you feel about change it’s woven into the fabric of God’s design for His creation. Things are always changing. As God would have it there is some major remodeling going on for Betsy and I right now. Obviously with our first child due in May that necessitates change on the home front but there are also some changes ahead for our ministry. Some of them we only sense are coming, others we will be making announcements about in the next few days. I would love to tell you my initial reaction to these changes has always been unwavering faith but lately my first reaction has been fear. Fears of inadequacy, fears of failure (read inadequacy), fear of letting those around me down (read inadequacy) and the list goes on. When I boil it all down I find my greatest fear is my own inadequacy. My lack of faith is not in God strength to accomplish His purpose but rather in His choice to use me to do it. I believe God, I just have a hard time believing in myself. Do you ever feel that way? I think we all feel that way a lot more often than we’d like to admit. It’s important to realize that we’re not alone in the way we feel and that it’s normal to feel that way. In fact it’s not only normal to feel that way, it’s critical that we reach that point. It is only in truly understanding our deepest inadequacy that we can fully rest in Christ’s all-sufficiency. The apostle Paul said it like this in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am made strong.” It’s a hard pill to swallow, but if we want to see the power of Christ most prominently displayed in our lives it means moving closer to openly embracing our weaknesses in spite of the fear and shame that want us to hide them so badly. It means the end of fearing I might be inadequate and actually realizing that I am inadequate apart from Christ for the task He’s called me to. It is then we will learn that His strength really is perfect in our weakness. What are some of the weaknesses you wrestle with? What are the areas of life where you are most needing God to show Himself strong on your behalf? Are there some practical steps you can take towards trusting God with your struggle?
Posted on January 25th, 2010 by Erik Bledsoe
As many of you know Betsy and I are expecting our first child in May. I am sooooo excited about being a father! I love it when people share with me how “this is gonna change your life” or “you’ll never be the same” or “you will wonder how you could ever love someone so much.” I know they’re right and I can’t wait. One of the first question people ask us after they find out we’re pregnant is “do you know if it’s a boy or a girl yet?” When we tell them we’ve decided not find out we always get mixed reactions. Some are so grateful we don’t want to know but others are disappointed or confused at why we wouldn’t. Others are down right angry; it’s kind of alarming. With that in mind I thought I would try and explain our decision because I think it has much bigger implications for our lives as a whole. Let me say first I don’t think there is anything wrong with finding out the sex of your child before it’ s born. That is for each couple to decide. For us we felt it was important not to find out the gender because we don’t want to buy into the illusion of control. Let me explain, one of the primary reasons people want to know the sex of their child is so they can buy gender specific clothes, toys, etc. They want to know if the nursery bedding should be pink or blue, should it be bunny rabbits or trains. All of this is done in the name of being “properly prepared.” If there is anything I know it’s that you can never be properly prepared for children. There will always be something else: more diapers, formula, snacks, patience, mercy and kindness, etc. While we are called to do our best to prepare as stewards of this new life it is sin for us to use the busyness of preparation to medicate our fears of inadequacy. Finding out the sex of the child only allows us to feed our fears by removing some of the variables thereby giving us the illusion of control, removing the need for faith. We will never be in control. It’s important that we swallow that pill early on in our relationship with this child. The responsibility of control is reserved for Christ alone. Only He can truly prepare our hearts and homes for this new child and only He can calm our deepest fears. For Betsy and I it’s more important to forego knowing if it’s a boy or a girl in exchange for an increased dependency in Christ.
Posted on January 23rd, 2010 by Erik Bledsoe
I mentioned last week that Betsy and I are housing our close friends in the wake of their own house burning down until other arrangements can be made. They have had a crazy and blessed week continuing to meet with insurance companies, contractors, investigators and the like. The Lord has been so gracious in providing for them, it has been a thrill to watch. Something else strange happened this week I didn’t expect: people started complimenting Betsy and I for being so generous and for letting them stay with us, etc. I’ve heard, at least 5 times this week, that we are such good examples of Christian love and hospitality. I’m so grateful for the support and I know what they mean, but every time I hear it a red light goes off in my head and a voice says “warning, warning”. Let me explain, I think Jesus words in the book of Matthew, chapter 5 might help us understand what I mean. It reads like this, Jesus says....
43"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.Did you catch that last part? If we love those that love us what reward will we get? If we greet only our brothers, what are we doing more than others? I think I get that red light warning in my head in response to the comment that “Betsy and I are such great examples of Christian love” because actually in this particular situation, we’re not. We are just doing what anyone else would do for their friends, even those who don’t believe in Jesus. This begs the question, what kind of hospitality or generosity is “Christian”? I think Jesus point is that, it is in the loving of our enemies and the kindness we show to those who persecute us, that we demonstrate His love through us. When we love those with whom we have nothing to gain or leverage, we demonstrate Christ’s love toward us (Romans 5:8), and thereby open another door for the Gospel into someone’s life. Through our loving those who don’t know Christ we can actually see them come to know Christ through our love. We provide housing to the homeless and they find a home in Jesus; water for the thirsty and they find the Living Water of Christ; adoption for the orphan and they find their true Father; defend the weak and they learn our God is a Mighty Fortress. Wow, now that’s a love worthy of the Name of Christ.
Posted on August 13th, 2009 by Erik Bledsoe
I spent this passed weekend with my friends, who are now family, at the Louisa United Methodist Church participating in their Jesus Jam 2009 summer celebration. In addition to a concert and leading worship all weekend I was also blessed to be able to bring a message each night. The theme they chose for our time together was “I love you...ask me why.” My messages centered around the matchless love of God and how when we maintain a proper perspective on Christ’s sacrifice, encouraging each other to “evangelize” won’t be necessary. In fact, it will be hard to keep us from telling others about so great a salvation. To summarize C.S. Lewis, it is not that we over amplify the world and it’s pleasures, it is that we so drastically under glorify the matchless love of Christ and the eternal pleasures that are to be found in Him. Our theme song for Jesus Jam was the contemporary worship song “Indescribable.” However, the more I sang the new song the more I was reminded of one of my favorite hymns and works of poetry, “The Love of God.” It is a brilliant reminder of just how indescribable the love of God really is.
The Love of God Frederick M. Lehman ~ 1917 The Love of God is greater far Than tongue or pen can ever tell, It goes beyond the highest star And reaches to the lowest hell. The guilty pair, bowed down with care, God gave his Son to win, His erring Child He reconciled, And pardoned from his sin. O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong! It shall forevermore endure, The saints and angels song. When years of time shall pass away, And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall, When men, who here refuse to pray, On rocks and hills and mountains call, God’s love so sure, shall still endure, All measureless and strong; Redeeming grace to Adam’s race- The saints and angels song. O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong! It shall forevermore endure, The saints and angels song. Could we with ink the ocean fill, And were the skies of parchment made, Were every stalk on earth a quill, And every man a scribe by trade, To write the love of God above, Would drain the ocean dry. Nor could the scroll contain the whole, Though stretched from sky to sky. O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong! It shall forevermore endure, The saints and angels song.
Posted on July 28th, 2009 by Erik Bledsoe
For the last 13 days I have been all over the Great Plains. I love “the Heartland”. The band and I have developed some dear friendship there. This last weekend we got to spend four days with a group of our friends, leading worship, at the Salvation Army Youth Councils. Last years event was held in a hotel in Kansas City. While the hotel was incredibly comfortable, this years event was held at a campground conference center in Salina, KS and provided a lot more opportunities for community and interaction. One of my favorite events was the Low-Ropes Course. If you ever have the chance to participate in one you have to give it a try! It was so much fun! It’s essentially a collection of obstacles or puzzles that have to be solved in some physical way by the group as a whole. For instance, in one puzzle, my group of 10-12 was asked to step up on a big log lying on the ground. The log was about 20-30 feet long. After we were all standing on the log the instructor then told us that our challenge was to order ourselves from tallest to shortest in sequential order without stepping off the log. If even one person fell off the log we all had to start over. I don’t know if you can imagine what that would look like or not. It was absolutely hysterical!! We were leap-frogging, crawling, jumping, and spinning all trying to get it worked out. We had girls that were 5 feet tall and guys that were 6’6”. I haven’t laughed so hard in a while. When it was all done we talked things through and discussed what we had learned in the experience. Some of the observations were really great. I couldn’t help but thinking how desperately we, as the bride of Christ, are in need of some of these simple object lessons. Here are just a few of the things we learned.
1. Somebody has to be the leader. When everyone is directing traffic it’s anarchy. 2. Everyone approaches the situation with a different perspective. What seems natural to one person can make someone else very uncomfortable. 3. We must all play a part. If even one person refuses to contribute it doesn’t work. 4. We have to be willing to try new things, there is not one “right way” to do things. What worked for two smaller people to pass each other proved to be a train wreck when it came to the bigger guys. 5. We’re gonna have to get personal to make this happen. HA! 6. Once you were in place and the action moved away from you it almost became easier to fall off the beam because you weren’t as focused. Keep your head in the game. 7. Communication is key. Not only speaking properly but also making sure that everyone heard what you meant to say. 8. Trust one another. If we have all of the above in place and still lack trust, we will fail.
Posted on May 4th, 2009 by Erik Bledsoe