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The NewLife Blog

May 25, 2021 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Lounging through the battle

2 Samuel 11 marks a turning point in David’s life. Up until this point, God has brought him from the anonymity of a shepherd boy, to the courts of King Saul, and eventually to the throne of Israel. David is a courageous warrior, an inspirational poet, a leader of a nation, and, most importantly, a man after God’s heart (Acts 13:22). But by the end of 2 Samuel 11, David will have become guilty of adultery with Bathsheba, and of causing the murder of her husband Uriah. ...Keep Reading

Tags: Prayer, Spiritual Warfare, David

May 18, 2021 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Don't live a powerless life

This Sunday is Pentecost, the day which commemorates the events recorded in Acts 2, when God poured out His Holy Spirit into the hearts of His people, empowering them to launch the new Christ-centered community that would become known as the church. Before Jesus had ascended to heaven, he had promised to his disciples this gift: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). And as the disciples waited in prayer, this world-changing event happened: “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:2-4). ...Keep Reading

Tags: Discipleship, Holy Spirit, Pentecost

May 11, 2021 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

To whom do you compare yourself?

One of the podcasts I have listened to on occasion over the past few years is called The Happiness Lab. In this podcast, a Yale professor named Dr. Laurie Santos looks at the science of happiness, often exposing how our minds are lying to us about what will really make us happy. One of the memorable episodes, called “A Silver Lining,” examined why it is that Olympians who come in third place tend to happier about their finish than those who come in second place. The reason, according to Dr. Santos, is that our perspective on life is largely affected by what we are comparing our situation to. Those who win silver medals look at how close they came to winning gold, and come away disappointed. Those who win bronze medals, by and large, are just happy to have won a medal, as they compare themselves to everyone behind them who missed out....Keep Reading

Tags: Grace, Discipleship, perspective

May 4, 2021 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Developing a faith that is both childlike and mature

In the Christian faith, there are many seemingly contradictory things that must be held in tension. God is three yet one. Jesus is fully man yet fully God. The Bible is God’s Word yet written by humans. When it comes to our walk with God, there is another important tension we must hold: our God is so approachable and accessible that even a four-year-old can have a genuine saving relationship with Him, yet He is so far beyond our human comprehension that even the wisest theologian or holiest person of God can never come close to plumbing the depths of who He is. As Paul put it in Romans 11:33-34, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?”...Keep Reading

Tags: Prayer, Faith

April 29, 2021 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

How do you prepare for worship?

Think about the last time you entered a church building to worship on a Sunday. What was the state of your heart and mind when you entered? Were you focused on God and ready to worship? Were you distracted by the concerns of the day, or annoyed by the kids in the back seat? Were you coming in late, rushed and just glad you made it?...Keep Reading

Tags: Church, Worship, Songs of Ascent

April 20, 2021 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Are you humble? Or just insecure?

It was not an impressive beginning for Saul. Despite being chosen by God and anointed by the prophet Samuel to be the first king of Israel, when it came time for the big reveal, Saul was nowhere to be found. The spotlight fell on the place where he should have been, but Saul was cowering behind the luggage....Keep Reading

Tags: humility, Insecurity, Saul, David

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 2 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