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The NewLife Blog

March 24, 2020 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

The God who adopts

Flash back with me to November of 2008. Our youngest son, Nate, was three months old. Ryan and Will, our two oldest boys, were three and two years old. I was two years into pastoring NewLife, and my wife Michele was working as she was able to help make ends meet. Naturally, Michele told me that she thought that the time was right for us to go through training to become licensed foster and adoptive parents through the state of Connecticut. Over eleven years later, we have had the privilege of providing a temporary home for hundreds of children in the foster care system. ...Keep Reading

Tags: Jesus, Gospel, Adoption, foster care

March 17, 2020 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Don't stop "gathering" together

Let us not give up meeting together, the writer of Hebrews tells us. Unless, of course, a massive virus breaks out and the government limits public gatherings to the size of two basketball teams. We are in unprecedented times. Earlier today I was listening to a pastor talking about how the last time his church closed its doors on a Sunday was during the Spanish flu of 1918, when the local government asked every church to shutter its doors in order to help prevent the contagion from spreading and the death toll from rising. I suppose as long as this sort of thing only happens once every century, we can manage....Keep Reading

Tags: Church, fellowship, Coronavirus

March 10, 2020 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Distracting ourselves to death

One of the greatest book titles ever was the 1985 Neil Postman book Amusing Ourselves to Death. Postman’s groundbreaking book was an insightful look at the corrosive effect that television was having on our politics, journalism, education, and even religion. I’ve been thinking about that book title lately, as it feels like it’s time to write a similar book for 2020. I call it Distracting Ourselves to Death....Keep Reading

Tags: Discipleship, Technology

March 3, 2020 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

You are enough

I have a love/hate relationship with a lot of church advice and church growth gurus out there. One particular strategy that I am torn on is the idea of giving people “next steps” at the end of a sermon. This often takes the form of a bulletin insert with a sermon outline that ends with a few “next steps,” such as “I will memorize Romans 8:38,” “I will pray for my next door neighbors,” or “I will tithe next month.” What I love about this approach is the practical call to discipleship and transformation, in that it challenges us to not just be hearers of the word but doers of the word. But what bothers me about this approach is how easily it can turn the faith into a religion of law: “do more and you will be accepted and feel like a better Christian,” instead of “truly realize how you have been accepted in Christ despite what you have NOT done, despite your failures as a Christian, and you will find yourself doing more in response to His love and grace.” ...Keep Reading

Tags: Church, Gospel, Seculosity

February 25, 2020 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Our great political hope

The theory undergirding David Zahl’s book Seculosity is that as our culture looks less and less to God’s saving grace as our source of self-worth and justification (or “enoughness,” as Zahl calls it), we inevitably look to the good things of this world for that which only God can give us. Some turn to a romantic partner, others to a career, still others to parenting or technology. And some, as chapter 8 outlines, put their hope in politics....Keep Reading

Tags: Jesus, Politics, Seculosity

February 18, 2020 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Searching for that elusive rest

As a parent to four children, I have noticed that one thing that has clearly changed over the generations has been play and leisure time. With every generation, it feels as if play has become less free and more structured. Instead of sending your children out to do whatever with their neighborhood friends and expecting them home by supper, now almost every activity is scheduled, with any downtime becoming increasing tethered to an electronic device. When children are finally faced with real downtime without electronics, you can almost guarantee that the first words out of their mouth will be, “I’m bored.” But children are not the only ones who have experienced a change in play and leisure time. ...Keep Reading

Tags: Culture, Seculosity, Play

February 11, 2020 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Work hard and rest easy

I think that one of the most humorous things in the Bible is that the all-powerful, holy and mighty God of the universe, after creating the world, rested on day seven. Was He really worn out from shaping all those llamas and aardvarks and mountains and stars and oceans? Or was there another reason behind that act?...Keep Reading

Tags: Culture, Work, Sabbath, Discipleship

February 4, 2020 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Your smartphone can not save you

What a difference my smartphone has made for good in my life. It has helped me remember appointments and tasks, stay on track with my personal habits and disciplines, connect quickly with my family and friends, and redeem my down time by giving me quick access to edifying Kindle books, audiobooks and podcasts. What a difference my smartphone has made for bad in my life. It continually seeks to enslave me to its notifications and interruptions. It has made it so much harder to sustain attention on anything important, from praying to reading to even driving. And it pulls me away from giving my family and friends my undivided love and attention when I am with them....Keep Reading

Tags: Smartphones, Seculosity, Technology

January 28, 2020 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

The quest to become the perfect parent

I love being a pastor. And I love to read. But few things give me anxiety like the book table at a pastor’s conference. In every catchy title and accomplished author, I find yet another thing that I need to learn or don’t do well enough ...Keep Reading

Tags: Culture, Parenting, Seculosity

January 21, 2020 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

The search for your soulmate

You can take away religion, and you can take away God, but you can’t take away the human need to know that our lives matter and that we are loved. As our culture becomes less and less Christian, it seems clear that more and more people are looking to romantic love to convince themselves that their lives matter and that they are loved....Keep Reading

Tags: Culture, Seculosity, Romantic love