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The NewLife Blog

April 13, 2021 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Is God really on your side?

Most people who grew up attending Sunday School are familiar with the story of Joshua and the battle of Jericho (“and the walls came tumblin’ down”). By following the Lord’s peculiar commands, Joshua leads the army of Israel to a miraculous victory, with a heavy reliance on marching and trumpets. Before the battle, however, there is a powerful encounter between Joshua and an angel who calls himself “the commander of the army of the Lord.” When Joshua sees this angel in the appearance of a man, he asks the angel whether he is on their side or against them. I’m sure most of us would have expected the angel to answer “I am on the side of Israel.” But surprisingly, he answers “neither.” The implication is clear: it’s not about whose side I am on, Joshua, but whose side YOU are on....Keep Reading

Tags: Joshua, Discipleship

March 27, 2021 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Somebody scratch my itching ears

“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage-- with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:2-4) In Paul’s second letter to his protégé Timothy, he warns him that the time will come when people will seek out teachers who “say what their itching ears want to hear.” I imagine there have always been teachers like this throughout the history of the church, but this warning is undoubtedly prophetic today. But rather than point the fingers at others, we would be prudent to consider where it is that we are most tempted as Americans to have our itching ears scratched. 1) I want a God who affirms my lifestyle and does not expect me to change. Don’t preach to me about holiness and sanctification. Don’t remind me that my sinful nature is deceitful and hostile to God. Don’t tell me that being a new creation means that I should walk according to the Spirit. And please don’t teach me the Bible and challenge me to obey God. Just tell me that God loves me just as I am and that I’m already going to heaven, so I can live however I please. 2) I want a God who wants me to gain all I can in this world. Don’t tell me about the cross, about denying myself and following Jesus. Don’t teach me that a servant isn’t above his master, that if Jesus suffered than I will too. Don’t refocus my heart on eternity. Just tell me that if I truly believe in God, that I will be rich, that I will get that promotion, and that I will have everything my heart desires. 3) I want a God who would never let bad things happen to me. Don’t tell me about suffering as the path to glory. Don’t teach me about the suffering of Jesus or the suffering of the apostles. Just tell me that if I have enough faith, that I will never get sick, that God will overcome every obstacle in my life, and that this life will be amazing. 4) I want a God who exists to serve me. Don’t remind me that I am not the center of the universe. Don’t tell me that are billions of people out there in need of Jesus. And don’t tell me that the Bible ...Keep Reading

Tags: Preaching, Discipleship

March 16, 2021 0 comments

Do not entrust your heart to people

As I was reading the news today, I came across this line regarding embattled New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: Mr. Cuomo, our politics reporter writes, “finds himself sliding from hero-level worship to pariah-like status with the kind of astonishing speed that only the friendless suffer.” Politics and morality aside, that quote made me think of Jesus. ...Keep Reading

Tags: Discipleship, Trust, Opinions

March 9, 2021 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

You have not yet resisted...

Hebrews 11 is one of the most fascinating chapters in the Bible. The writer of Hebrews recounts numerous displays of faith by the men and women of the Old Testament, some which resulted in God doing miraculous things, and others that ended up in suffering or death this side of eternity but glory thereafter. The writer follows up in the beginning of chapter 12 by encouraging us that, since we are surrounded by these great examples, we should cast aside every hindrance and sin and “run with perseverance the race marked out for us,” fixing our eyes on Jesus, who endured all the way to the cross out of His love for us (Hebrews 12:1-2)....Keep Reading

Tags: Discipleship, Hebrews 12

March 2, 2021 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

How do you evaluate yourself?

Every year, I write up a self-evaluation for the elders on how I am doing as a pastor, looking at my leadership in the church across various categories like discipleship, evangelism, worship, and my own personal relationship with God. And every year I write out the highs and lows, the successes and failures of the past year, trying to give myself as fair a review as possible. Soon after I wrote up this year’s evaluation, however, a question began to nag at me: by what standard am I evaluating myself? Or to whom am I comparing myself?...Keep Reading

Tags: Jesus, Discipleship, Evaluation

February 23, 2021 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

In memoriam: Gino Marozzi

I met Gino Marozzi in the fall of 1998. I was the 22-year-old youth pastor of NewLife Christian Fellowship, and his twin daughters, Nikki & Tori, had just started attending my youth group. Soon, they began attending NewLife on Sundays, and Tori expressed an interest in singing on the worship team. Gino joined her, eager to support his daughter as the loving father he was....Keep Reading

Tags: fellowship, Love, Gino Marozzi

February 16, 2021 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

How to get the most out of Lent

This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, the season of the church calendar comprised of the 40 days (minus Sundays) leading up to Easter. Most people, if they are aware of Lent at all, know that traditionally some people give up something like ice cream or Facebook for Lent as a reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. But I believe that most people have a deficient understanding of the heart of fasting. So, before you decide to stop eating chocolate for Lent, consider this perspective: I do not believe that giving up chocolate for Lent is Biblical fasting. That is called dieting....Keep Reading

Tags: Lent, Fasting

February 9, 2021 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

God was SO REAL... 10 years ago

When I was in seminary, I attended a church that had, about 25 years prior to my arrival, been named “outreach church of the year” by some Christian publication for its impact on its community. This was an impressive testimony to God’s activity in this church’s life. It was also 25 years in the past....Keep Reading

Tags: God, Discipleship, Faith

February 2, 2021 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

The genuine God and counterfeit pretenders

I’ve often heard the analogy that for those whose job it is to spot counterfeit money, the best training is to study the real thing, to become so familiar with genuine money that spotting the fraud becomes second nature. When this analogy is applied to God and to His Word, it truly becomes some of the best advice a Christian can receive. The better acquainted you become with who God is and what the Bible says, the easier it is to spot the charlatans. Along those lines, part of my testimony of coming to faith in Jesus includes attending a youth group the summer after I graduated from high school, before I matriculated at UConn. I distinctly remember going around to parties the first couple of days at UConn, and feeling like they were so fake after what I had experienced that summer. God, and the life found in Him, was the genuine article; all the parties had to offer was a poor imitation of the good life. ...Keep Reading

Tags: God, Prayer, Discipleship, Revival

January 26, 2021 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Whose glory am I living for?

As a church, we have been reading through the Bible in 2021, and the first book we finished was Job. One of the fundamental questions raised by Job for me was this: “What if God were to tell you, ‘I am going to make your life an inspiration to millions of people for generations to come. But in order to do that, I am going to have to take away almost everything that matters to you, including your children, your health, and your possessions.’” How would I answer Him? Would I be willing to give up that which I love for the sake of His glory and the salvation of others?...Keep Reading

Tags: Discipleship, Glory, Job