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Love Category

July 26, 2016 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

So many people, so little time

One of the challenges of pastoral ministry is that there are very few aspects of the job that can be checked off as complete. There is a sermon to preach every Sunday, and a newsletter to put out every Tuesday, but most of the work is ongoing: discipling people, training leaders, caring for struggling people, and so on. When there are 150-200 people who call NewLife their home, and only 7 days in a week, clearly decisions need to be made and priorities need to be set, because you can not give everyone all the time you would like to give. One of the statements I heard early in my ministry, which has helped me tremendously, was by Mike Yaconelli, a pioneer in youth ministry....Keep Reading

Posted in: Love Tags: Love, Friendship

July 12, 2016 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Love your neighbors

The first time I heard Jesus’ great commandment, which is found in Matthew 22:34-40, my seven year-old brain assumed that “love your neighbor” meant to love the Heaths and the Blooms, the two families who lived next door to us. Eventually, of course, I came to understand that Jesus’ exhortation was not meant to be taken literally, but that my neighbor was any other human being (even our enemies, as Jesus illustrates in the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:29-37). But what if Jesus really did mean to truly focus on loving our actual neighbors, the ones that live around us? ...Keep Reading

Posted in: Love Tags: Outreach, Love

May 24, 2016 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

The gift of your presence

There may be no more poignant reminder that Jesus was not only fully God but fully man than this passage from the last days of Jesus’ life. Facing an impending betrayal and certain death, Jesus walks into the Garden of Gethsemane to be with his Father, and says to Peter, James, and John, “stay with me.” In this moment of incredible agony, where he will be confronted by the temptation to give up his march to the cross, Jesus does not want to be alone, but asks his friends to remain with him. Many of us have found ourselves watching a loved one facing a time of intense suffering, wishing that there was something we could do to make it all better. ...Keep Reading

Posted in: Love Tags: Suffering, Love

April 19, 2016 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Marketing the Church

When I was a youth pastor, I went to a training once that was led by a high profile youth ministry organization. With great enthusiasm, they challenged us to do a “Great Commission Competition” in our youth group. Basically, this competition would include dividing the youth group into 3-4 groups, and then giving them a challenge: whichever group could invite the most friends to youth group over the next three months would get a free trip to Six Flags (sponsored by the adults in the church, naturally). The person pitching this event to us raved about how our youth group could grow significantly through this challenge, and bring many people to Christ....Keep Reading

Posted in: Love Tags: Love, Marketing

February 16, 2016 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

True love is more than flowers and candy

In light of the recently passed Hallmark holiday celebrating romantic love, let me share one of my favorite passages from one of my favorite authors, Brennan Manning, from his book The Signature of Jesus, on what real love looks like: “On the night of December 13, during what began as a long and lonely hour or prayer, I heard in faith Jesus Christ say, ‘For love of you I left my Father’s side. I came to you who ran from me, fled me, who did not want to hear my name. For love of you I was covered with spit, punched, beaten, and affixed to the wood of the cross.’...Keep Reading

Posted in: Love Tags: Jesus, Love

June 30, 2015 by Eric Stillman 1 comments

Same-sex marriage and the church

This past Friday, the Supreme Court ruled that “same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry.” On Sunday, I was reading the editorial page of the Hartford Courant and couldn’t help but notice the juxtaposition of two starkly different articles. The first, written by Susan Campbell, a longtime Courant religion writer, celebrated the Supreme Court ruling. The second, by Russell Moore, a prominent Southern Baptist leader, was against the ruling and gave advice on how the church should respond. But as I read through both articles, I found myself shaking my head and embarrassed. Let me explain....Keep Reading

Posted in: Love Tags: Love, Same-sex marriage

June 9, 2015 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Are you loving or enabling?

At first glance, Paul seems to say two contradictory things in Galatians 6:2-5. On the one hand, Paul exhorts us in verse 2 to carry each other’s burdens, so as to fulfill the law of Christ (the law of loving our neighbor as ourselves). But three short verses later, he declares that each person should carry his own load, implying the need for individuals to get by on their own without help from others. Many of you truly desire to love people in your life who have real needs. I believe it can be critical to understand what Paul is trying to say here. Here is my take:...Keep Reading

Posted in: Love Tags: Love. Enabling

July 8, 2014 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

The cost of being the Good Samaritan... or of walking on by

Ken was a high school classmate of mine, although we were not in the same circle of friends. He was what we would have referred to as a nerd ‘" smart, but socially awkward and not very popular. Since graduation, he had probably never crossed my mind until he called me out of the blue three years ago. He had found me on Facebook, saw that I was a pastor, and wanted to talk, as he was in the process of going through a painful divorce, amidst other life challenges. We talked on a semi-regular basis, had lunch a couple of times, and I encouraged him over that time to come to Fight Club, our men‘s group at NewLife. Eventually he came twice to Fight Club, but despite my invitations and the invitations of other men in the group, he never returned. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus gives an example about how loving our neighbor often involves risking our safety, as well as sacrificing our time, energy, and possessions, in order to care for a person in need....Keep Reading

Posted in: Love Tags: Suffering, Good Samaritan

February 18, 2014 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

The gift of your presence (2014)

There may be no more poignant reminder that Jesus was not only fully God but fully man than this passage from the last days of Jesus‘ life. Facing an impending betrayal and certain death, Jesus walks into the Garden of Gethsemane to be with his Father, and says to Peter, James, and John, ‘œstay with me.‘ In this moment of incredible agony, where he will be confronted by the temptation to give up his march to the cross, Jesus does not want to be alone, but asks his friends to remain with him....Keep Reading

Posted in: Love Tags: Service, Love