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The NewLife Blog

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

November 22, 2022 by Eric Stillman 1 comments

Thank you

In some ways, the story recounted above is the simplest of all lessons: a lesson about the importance of saying thank you. Ten lepers received healing from Jesus, but only one came back to say thank you, and as a result, only that leper received the deeper healing (seeing as how Jesus had just healed him and his friends of leprosy, I’m assuming “your faith has made you well” refers to the forgiveness of sins, like the paralytic in Matthew 9:2). But even simple lessons can be much-needed reminders....Keep Reading

Posted in: Thanksgiving Tags: Thanksgiving, gratitude

November 15, 2022 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

How did I get here?

In September of 1997, I found myself in the Homer Babbidge Library at UConn, reading an article in Christianity Today on trends they were seeing in youth and young adult ministry. I was a senior at UConn, thinking about where I would end up when I graduated. It had been quite a journey at UConn. On the second day of college, I had committed my life to Jesus. Since then, I had gotten involved in a Christian fellowship group called InterVarsity, joined the staff of a parachurch ministry called Musicon, and served two summers as the Youth Program Director at South United Methodist Church in Manchester, making many wonderful friends along the way. As I entered my senior year, I knew that I wanted to keep following Jesus wherever He might lead....Keep Reading

Posted in: Church life Tags: NewLife, Church life, God's leading

November 8, 2022 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Be a church that balances grace and truth

This past Sunday, I referenced the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery from John 8. In the story, the Pharisees try to set a trap for Jesus by bringing before him a woman caught in adultery. They tell Jesus that the Law of Moses commands them to stone her, and they want to know what he will do about that. As they see it, Jesus has two options: he can either uphold the law, stone the woman, and lose the favor of the crowd of outcasts and misfits that has been following him, or he can show compassion to the woman and disregard the law, and show himself to be no true prophet. As far as the Pharisees can tell, Jesus has no way out....Keep Reading

Posted in: Church life Tags: Church, Grace, Truth, John 8

November 1, 2022 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Dig until you uncover the truth

In this past Sunday’s sermon on the gospel and personal growth, I made the case that underneath every sin is idolatry: we are looking to something other than God to give us satisfaction, comfort, peace, glory, etc. And, if you are willing to dig even deeper, underneath every idol is something we don’t believe about God....Keep Reading

Posted in: Discipleship Tags: God, Sin, Truth, idolatry

October 25, 2022 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

The refiner's fire

As much as I enjoy the musical quality of so many modern worship songs, it has begun to feel like many of them are variations on the same theme: Hold on to your faith, for God is about to bring you a breakthrough! Certainly, we could all use some encouragement and inspiration as we navigate the challenges of life. But God’s ways are not our ways, and the process He uses to answer our prayers does not typically follow the neat pattern of (1) pray hard, (2) believe in faith, and (3) receive your breakthrough! One classic hymn that would NEVER be written today...Keep Reading

Posted in: Discipleship Tags: Suffering, Discipleship, God's love, Sanctification

October 18, 2022 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

The God who redeems the gap

I have been trying to pay closer attention to my emotions lately. When I find myself feeling anxious, or sad, or angry, my tendency can be to try to push those emotions away. But a book I have been reading through lately, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero, has challenged me to listen closer to what my emotions are communicating to me. During this past Sunday’s sermon, I found myself getting choked up as I read from J.R.R. Tolkienn’s short story Leaf by Niggle....Keep Reading

Posted in: Discipleship Tags: Discipleship, emotions, Leaf by Niggle, Tolkienn

October 11, 2022 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

The wounds of a friend

A common refrain I have been hearing from older generations of workers is that younger employees require what feels like an unhealthy amount of affirmation and praise simply for doing their job. Whether this stems from helicopter parenting, the “everyone gets a trophy” mindset or from being used to getting “likes” and “follows” for everything you do online, it does feel like, more than ever, any criticism is seen as doing violence to another person. And that is a dangerous mindset to have....Keep Reading

Posted in: Relatonships Tags: Love, Friendship, Criticism

October 4, 2022 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Whose approval are you seeking?

The story goes that the great 19th century British preacher Charles Spurgeon and his wife would sell, but refused to give away, the eggs their chickens laid. Even close relatives were told, “You may have them if you pay for them.” As a result, some people labeled the Spurgeons greedy and grasping. They accepted the criticisms without defending themselves, and only after Mrs. Spurgeon died was the full story revealed....Keep Reading

Posted in: Discipleship Tags: Insecurity, Approval

September 27, 2022 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Be still and know - hey, is anyone listening to me???

I’m worried about my soul. And I am worried about the souls of generations younger than me who are growing up continually distracted, with a smartphone glued to their hand and earbuds secured in their ears. In Psalm 46:10, God invites us to “be still, and know that I am God.” With such a profound invitation, why have we given into the temptation to fill every waking moment with noise?...Keep Reading

Posted in: Discipleship Tags: Psalm 46:10, Information overload, Be still