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Posts tagged with Jesus

August 3, 2023 by Joe Barone 0 comments

Guest blogger: Joe Barone - A gate and a promise

On day 3 of a 10 day group tour of Israel, we entered Tel Dan Nature Reserve in Northern Israel, near the Lebanon border. This spectacular area is the site of the ancient city of Dan, nearly 5000 years old. According to the Bible (1 Samuel 3:20), Dan is the northernmost point of ancient Israel. It sits at the southern base of Mount Hermon in the Israel-occupied Golan Heights. Snow melt and rain waters from Mount Hermon, whose summit sits on the borders of Syria, Lebanon, and Israel, feed the Dan Stream, one of the 3 sources of the Jordon River. Along the multiple hiking trails are fresh water springs, streams, waterfalls, well preserved remnants of settlement pits, ritual compounds, a flour mill, and gate complexes....Keep Reading

Posted in: Jesus Tags: Jesus, Gates, Israel

May 30, 2023 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

In your struggle against sin...

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). Soon after that encouragement comes this incredible verse:...Keep Reading

Posted in: Discipleship Tags: Jesus, Discipleship, Sin

April 4, 2023 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Where is God when I am suffering?

One of the biggest reasons that people stop believing in God or calling themselves Christians is experiencing a tragedy and feeling like God was silent and did not answer prayers. The death of a child, the dissolution of a marriage, being the victim of a terrible crime – these and many other events can cause even the most fervent believer to ask “why, God?” So, what are we to believe when we find ourselves in that place, or what do we say when listening to someone who is going through this kind of crisis?...Keep Reading

Posted in: Suffering Tags: Jesus, Gospel, Suffering, Trust, Cross

December 27, 2022 by Anonymous 0 comments

The joy of Christmas

The following Christmas story is a bit long, but well worth it. It took place in the Central African Republic, in one of the languages where I trained national translators from 2008-2011. Last Christmas, Mrs. Logne was worrying about what to do at the Bible college wives’ Christmas celebration. Everyone had to do something in their own language, but here she was, almost at the last minute, and she had nothing to share in her native language, Nzakara. ...Keep Reading

Posted in: Missions Tags: Jesus, Christmas, Central African Republic

December 13, 2022 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Christian privilege

Our culture has become obsessed over the past few years with the concept of privilege: white privilege, male privilege, Christian privilege, and so on. The idea makes some sense: in any culture, there are benefits and advantages that come with belonging to a specific (usually the majority) social group. But the concept is also used to argue that those on the other side are the oppressed, and that everyone should work to try to make the system more equitable. I’ve been reflecting lately on the concept of privilege in light of the Bible, and how Christianity turns the concept of privilege on its head....Keep Reading

Posted in: Culture Tags: Jesus, Christian privilege

November 29, 2022 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Where is God when tragedy strikes

Yesterday I had the privilege of leading the memorial service for Elizabeth Wong, mother of Alan Wong, mother-in-law of Evelyn, and grandmother of Tyler, Christian and Kaylee, who are all a part of our church. In moments like this, the two passages I am most often drawn to are Ecclesiastes 7:2, which reads “It is better to go to a house of mourning that to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart,” and the story of Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus in John 11. The Ecclesiastes verse reminds us that as painful as it is to be at a funeral, it can have a profound perspective-altering effect if we will pay attention....Keep Reading

Posted in: Death Tags: Jesus, Death, Resurrection

April 26, 2022 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

We will do greater things than Jesus?

As you read through the Bible, every once in awhile you find a promise like the one Jesus gives to His disciples in John 14:11-14 that demands explanation. In the midst of giving a departing discourse to His disciples before His arrest and crucifixion, Jesus promises that those who have faith in Him will do even greater things than what He has been doing. He also promises that He will do whatever they ask in His name, because He will have ascended to the Father’s presence, with authority over everything....Keep Reading

Posted in: Prayer Tags: Jesus, Discipleship

April 12, 2022 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Don't cry for Jesus this Easter

Eighteen years ago, Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of the Christ hit movie theaters. Many movies have been made about the life and death of Jesus, but Passion undoubtedly contained the most intense and visceral depiction of Jesus’ suffering and death. Many moviegoers – perhaps even you – were moved to tears as they watched the violent and unjust suffering of the innocent Son of God. But imagine for a moment if Jesus, up on the screen, turned to face the audience in the theater and said, “Do not weep for me. Weep for yourselves.”...Keep Reading

Posted in: Jesus Tags: Jesus, Cross

March 22, 2022 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

We are hard-pressed, but not crushed

During the last days of Jesus’ life, two of his disciples were guilty of terrible offenses against him. As Jesus was being brought before the high priest for questioning, Peter denied knowing him three times, despite boasting to Jesus hours earlier that even if he had to die with him, he would never deny him. And Judas was even worse. He betrayed Jesus, selling him out to the Jewish religious leaders for thirty pieces of silver. Both men were utterly devastated when they came to terms with what they had done. Peter went back to fishing, the one thing he was still confident in. Judas, sadly, could not get over his guilt and hung himself....Keep Reading

Posted in: Suffering Tags: Jesus, Suffering, Suicide

November 9, 2021 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Tribalism and propaganda are tearing us apart

One of the more concerning realities of our American culture is the increasing polarity between groups of people. This phenomenon is most obvious in politics, where Republicans and Democrats are convinced that the other is either seriously deluded or the spawn of Satan. But many of today’s social justice movements are also doubling down on human differences such as gender, skin color, sexual preference, and religion, labeling one group the oppressors or privileged group and the other the oppressed or targeted groups. The result, as I’ve reiterated throughout my current sermon series, is not increased justice and unity in our world, but increased division, mistrust, and hatred....Keep Reading

Posted in: Culture Tags: Jesus, Social justice, tribalism

June 29, 2021 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

What kind of church will we be?

In John 8, Jesus is put to the test by a group of Jewish religious leaders. A number of teachers of the law and Pharisees drag before Jesus a woman caught in adultery and ask Jesus whether or not she should be stoned, as the law of Moses commands. This is most certainly a trap set for Jesus, as you will notice the adulterous man is nowhere to be found. The trap is this: if Jesus upholds the law, all of the outcasts who have been drawn to him will desert him, but if he lets her go, then he will be guilty of breaking God’s law and discredit himself as a man of God....Keep Reading

Tags: Jesus, Church, John 8

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

December 1, 2020 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Whac-a-Mole discipleship (2020)

This past Sunday, I preached on the first chapter of Malachi, a confrontational passage that raises the important question of whether we prioritize God with our time, talent, and treasure, or whether we give Him our leftovers. I have found the passage to be potentially life-changing as I experienced God’s conviction and responded in repentance and obedience. I hope it was the same for you, and if you have not listened to the sermon, I encourage you to listen to it on our website or watch it on our YouTube page. I believe that if you prioritize God, you will experience the power and presence of God in your life, because God will bless those who honor Him....Keep Reading

Tags: Jesus, Discipleship

November 3, 2020 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Jesus for President

By the time you read this, you have probably already cast your ballot, and the United States may have already chosen a new President. In the spirit of this political season, allow me to take a moment to remind you about how Jesus and the early church subverted the politics of their era, and the lessons we can learn from that today. Consider the language used by the politicians of Jesus’ day, and how Jesus and His followers confronted that worldview, co-opted that language and gave it a completely different meaning (taken from Shane Claiborne’s Jesus for President):...Keep Reading

Tags: Jesus, Politics, Kingdom of God

July 28, 2020 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Counting the cost of following Jesus

This past Sunday, I looked at the parable of the treasure hidden in the field and the parable of the pearl of great price in Matthew 13:44-46. These short parables illustrate how knowing and following God is worth giving up all that we have, that the rewards of discipleship far outweigh the cost. I spent some time in my sermon trying to clearly outline why it is that knowing God is such a treasure, including such benefits as eternal life, complete forgiveness, meaning in suffering, and a joy and peace that is not contingent upon our circumstances....Keep Reading

Tags: Jesus, Suffering, Discipleship

May 12, 2020 by Amy Swanson 1 comments

Guest blogger: Amy Swanson

Pastor Eric recently made a request for testimonies of learning to trust God through suffering and loss. A hard ask, but one I hope we can rise to because the faithfulness of God appears in so many forms and fashions. And I believe it is through the telling of these stories, even the ones longed to be forgotten, that others can find comfort, assurance, and maybe even a step towards healing. That is my prayer, anyways, and what leads me to share my story. ...Keep Reading

Tags: Jesus, Suffering, hope

March 31, 2020 by Gordon Lawrence 0 comments

Jesus in prison

Today’s guest writer is Gordon Lawrence. Jesus encouraged his followers to visit those in prison. Jesus said in Matt 5:36 when talking about the coming of the Son of Man and the separation of the sheep and the goats, ‘I was in prison and you came to visit me’; and in Hebrews 13:3 it says ‘remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison.’ Visiting those in prison is therefore something that the church should be involved in....Keep Reading

Tags: Jesus, Prison ministry

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

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

December 24, 2019 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

The Savior has come

In lieu of my own words this Christmas Eve, let us instead listen to Luke’s account of the entrance of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, into our world....Keep Reading

Tags: Jesus, Christmas

August 28, 2018 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

How do you see yourself?

One of the mysteries of the gospel of John is that one of the disciples is referred to as “the disciple Jesus loved.” According to church history, this disciple is none other than John himself, the author of the book. Consider what you would be like if you saw that as your primary identity, the way you viewed yourself....Keep Reading

Tags: Jesus, Identity

October 10, 2017 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Jesus and our trauma (2017)

In my spare time, I have been taking a class at a time towards a degree in counseling. My current class is called Crisis Counseling, and so much of my reading lately has been on the subject of trauma. As a Christian who knows apologetics, I am well-versed in how to answer the question “How can a good God let bad things happen?” But having the intellectual answers doesn’t change the fact that those “bad things” that happen to people so often take my breath away and bring me to tears at the depth of the horror some people are forced to endure. In Luke 22, we read about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, turning to his heavenly Father in prayer before he is arrested and crucified...Keep Reading

Tags: Jesus, Suffering

December 6, 2016 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

What is Christmas spirit, really?

My favorite Christmas movie is probably Elf, the 2003 movie starring Will Ferrell. One of the obstacles in the movie that has to be overcome in order for there to be a happy ending is the decline of Christmas spirit in the world. Christmas spirit, if you watch closely, seems to be defined as having a childlike faith and wonder, especially as it comes to believing in Santa Claus. Now, (spoiler alert!) anyone who can read this article knows that Santa isn’t real. But the idea of Christmas spirit still perseveres in our culture. What is Christmas spirit? Consider, if you will, these challenging words from J.I. Packer’s book Knowing God about this thing we call “Christmas spirit”:...Keep Reading

Posted in: Christmas Tags: Jesus, Christmas

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

March 3, 2015 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Who is the hero of your story?

As we enter the third month of 2015, one thing has been clear this year for me: it has been the year of the funeral. In January, I performed the celebration of life service for Phil Vaglica, the first member (although not the first person) of our church to pass away while I’ve been the pastor. A few weeks later I was attending Wes Feshler’s funeral, remembering another man who had been a part of our church and a wonderful brother in Christ over the past few years. Last week, I found myself performing a funeral for another woman, the mother of a good friend who had recently visited our church. And I know that other church members have lost close family members and friends already in 2015 as well. One of the most meaningful moments for me of Phil’s celebration of life service was ...Keep Reading

Posted in: Jesus Tags: Jesus, Death

May 13, 2014 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

What's your reputation?

I used the New King James Version translation of the passage above because of the way it translates verse 6: when Jesus was on this earth, He made Himself ‘œof no reputation.‘ I find that to be a fascinating translation, more descriptive than the New International Version‘™s ‘œHe made Himself nothing.‘ For many of us, our reputation is something we closely guard, even if we are not aware that we are doing it. We want to be seen as intelligent, or hard-working, or moral, or cool, or successful, or attractive, and so we carefully screen out that which we want the world to see and that which we wish to hide from others....Keep Reading

Posted in: Discipleship Tags: Jesus, Reputation

November 19, 2013 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

The Ragman

As I prepared for this past Sunday‘s sermon on the parable of the Good Samaritan, and especially how Jesus showed us mercy when we were in need, I was reminded of a short story/drama called The Ragman by Walter Wangerin. I‘ve reprinted it below: I saw a strange sight. I stumbled upon a story most strange, like nothing my life, my street sense, my sly tongue had ever prepared me for. Hush, child. Hush, now, and I will tell it to you....Keep Reading

Posted in: Jesus Tags: Jesus, The Ragman

April 30, 2013 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

By what standard do you measure yourself?

As I‘ve been preaching through the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) on Sundays at NewLife, one of the repeating themes has been how the Pharisees interpreted the law in such a way that they found themselves on the ‘œrighteous‘ side of the bar. ‘œDo not murder‘ meant don‘t kill anyone, ‘œDo not commit adultery‘ meant don‘t have sex with someone who is not your spouse, and their laws on divorce came to mean ‘œAs long as you give your wife a certificate of divorce, it‘s okay to divorce her.‘ In each case, the Pharisees looked at the law and felt righteous. But one of the things Jesus does in the Sermon on the Mount is to explain the spirit and truth behind each of those laws, and in the process raises the bar to such a height that no one - not even the Pharisees - can end up on the righteous side of the bar on their own merits....Keep Reading

Posted in: Discipleship Tags: Grace, Sin, Jesus

January 8, 2013 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

The Bible is not about you (2013)

“You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:39-40)...Keep Reading

Tags: Jesus, Bible

October 30, 2012 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

President Jesus

After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:14-15)...Keep Reading

Tags: Jesus, Politics

September 11, 2012 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

So What?

Sixteen years ago, in June of 1996, I began my first assignment in ministry, as the summer Youth Programs Coordinator at South United Methodist of Manchester. I had absolutely no clue what I was doing, and I’m quite sure that none of those kids remember much of what I had to say. But as I fumbled around in my attempts to get through to a bunch of distracted teens with glazed-over eyes, I found that there was one question that was absolutely essential to answer:...Keep Reading

Tags: Jesus

April 10, 2012 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

I am the one Jesus loves

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.” (John 20:1-8)...Keep Reading

Tags: Jesus, Discipleship

April 3, 2012 by Allie LaCroix 0 comments

Guest Blogger: Allie Dunn (April 3, 2012)

This week’s post is a Palm Sunday reflection written by Allie Dunn, one of the singers on our worship team....Keep Reading

Tags: Jesus, Guest Blogger

June 1, 2010 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Returning to Jesus

Whenever I am reading through the Bible, I always experience a sense of welcome familiarity upon returning to the Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John - that feels like returning home after a long trip. As rich as many of the Old Testament books can be, they often require an understanding of the history and key people of Israel, as well as familiarity with the general scope of the Bible. But the Gospels are familiar ground, the stories of Jesus’ life both beautiful and easier to relate to....Keep Reading

Tags: Jesus, NewLife

March 23, 2010 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Why did Jesus die? pt. 2

They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, ‘œSit here while I pray.‘ He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. ‘œMy soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,‘ he said to them. ‘œStay here and keep watch.‘ Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. ‘œAbba, Father,‘ he said, ‘œeverything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.‘ Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘œSimon,‘ he said to Peter, ‘œare you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.‘ Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him. Returning the third time, he said to them, ‘œAre you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!‘ (Mark 14:32-42)...Keep Reading

Tags: Jesus, Salvation

March 17, 2010 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Why did Jesus die?

Isaiah 53:5-6 - He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all....Keep Reading

Tags: Jesus, Salvation

December 15, 2009 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Tolerance, high standards, and amazing grace

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, ‘œTeacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?‘ They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘œIf any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.‘ Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘œWoman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?‘ ‘œNo one, sir,‘ she said. ‘œThen neither do I condemn you,‘ Jesus declared. ‘œGo now and leave your life of sin.‘ (John 8:1-11)...Keep Reading

Tags: Jesus, Discipleship