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The NewLife Blog

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

October 27, 2020 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Run the race - and watch out for the snipers

The longer I am in pastoral ministry, the more I feel like I am running a marathon with snipers hidden along the path. I have been pastoring NewLife for 14 years, and during that time I have painfully watched many of my pastoral colleagues leave the ministry ...Keep Reading

Tags: Spiritual Warfare, Encouragement, Pastoral ministry

October 20, 2020 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Your spouse is not the enemy

I have the privilege of doing marriage counseling on occasion with couples going through difficult times. One of the resources that has really helped me is Sue Johnson’s book “Hold Me Tight” (she has a more explicitly Christian version called “Created for Connection”). Johnson talks about a pattern of communication that couples often get into called “Find the Bad Guy” (otherwise known as “It’s not me, it’s you”), where the husband and wife go back and forth blaming each other for whatever the problem is. I’m sure many of you are painfully familiar with this dance: “I hate when you do this…”; “Well I do this because you do that!” “Well, I only do that because you are like THAT!” And round and round they go, blaming each other for everything that is wrong....Keep Reading

Tags: Spiritual Warfare, Marriage

October 13, 2020 by Eric Stillman 2 comments

Avoiding moral failure

This past Sunday I preached a sermon on Joshua 7, a passage that belongs in the Terrible Bible Story Hall of Fame. In the story, Achan’s decision to steal some items from the plunder of Jericho leads to the death of 36 Israelites and eventually to the death of both him and his family. This passage is a sobering reminder of the impact our sinful actions can have not only on us, but our families, community, and the people of God as well. As I prepared this sermon, I thought of the many spiritual leaders through the years who have brought disrepute on themselves and the church through their own sinful actions....Keep Reading

Tags: accountability, Grace, Sin

October 6, 2020 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Why I preach the way that I do

A few Sundays ago, I began my sermon by sharing a little about what you might call my philosophy of preaching: how I preach, and why. Allow me to expand upon that a bit in this space: 1) Preach primarily the Bible, not my thoughts...Keep Reading

Tags: Preaching, Bible

September 29, 2020 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Here I raise my Ebenzer?

When I say “Ebenezer,” you say… Scrooge? This past Sunday, we were reading through a passage in Joshua 4 where God instructs Joshua to have twelve men - one from each of the twelve tribes of Israel ...Keep Reading

Tags: Ebenezer, Theology

September 22, 2020 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

You don't know my story

This morning, I was watching a video in which a couple of counselors were teaching a unique way of doing premarital counseling. Their approach was focused on helping a couple understand each other’s stories, so that they might treat each other with more understanding and compassion. As I observed the couple who was being counseled, I immediately noticed that the woman was wearing a lot of makeup and seemed to have given a lot of attention to her looks. As I followed along with the session, the counselor asked each individual to share a scene from their story that stood out to them as particularly influential in their lives. ...Keep Reading

Tags: Grace, Story, listening

September 15, 2020 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

What influences are you allowing to shape your heart?

In Proverbs 4:20-23, the heart is depicted as both the receptacle of external influences, as well as the place from which action originates. In order that his son might experience life and health, the writer of Proverbs implores him to guard his heart, and particularly to keep his father’s words within his heart. The writer of Proverbs is communicating a fundamental principle to life: the influences we allow into our lives have a huge impact on what comes out of our lives. Consider for a moment what influences you have allowed into your life already this week....Keep Reading

Tags: Discipleship, Influences

September 8, 2020 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

If God is so forgiving, then why not sin?

This past Sunday, I preached on the greatest of all Jesus’ stories in my opinion, the parable of the prodigal son. This story, of a rebellious younger son, an offended older son, and a father who displays extravagant grace, reveals our God to be more loving and forgiving than we could have ever imagined. The danger of displaying such lavish grace, of course, is that people may come to the conclusion that “I can live however I want and confess later, because God always forgives.” This is what Dietrich Bonhoeffer labeled “cheap grace” ...Keep Reading

Tags: Grace, Sin, Repentance

September 1, 2020 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Our country is divided. Where will unity be found?

2020 has been a tough years in many ways, but one of the most recent causes for dismay has been the civil unrest we see all around us. Between politics, race relations, the relationship of citizens to the police and government, and many other arenas, there just seems to be division and strife everywhere we look. What should the church’s response be?...Keep Reading

Tags: Church, Unity, division