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The NewLife Blog

January 24, 2017 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

The great big family of God

One of the many descriptions of the church in the New Testament is the family of God. In Matthew 12:46-50, Jesus responds to someone’s words that his family is outside waiting to speak to him by replying that “whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:50). Coming from the man who upheld the commandment to honor your father and mother, this is a shocking statement. To Jesus, and consequently to the New Testament church, all who believe in Jesus have been adopted into God’s family. With this in mind, I want to challenge you to consider the children and teenagers in our church as your relatives...Keep Reading

Posted in: Church life Tags: Church life, Family

January 17, 2017 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

The wrath of God

This past Sunday, I preached on Romans 1:18-32, which begins with this decidedly un-seeker-friendly slap in the face: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.” Paul, out of his desire to showcase the salvation found in Jesus Christ in all of its glory, begins by painting a bleak picture of the depravity and spiritual lostness of all men ...Keep Reading

Posted in: God's character Tags: God's wrath, evil

January 10, 2017 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism

In Christian Smith’s 2006 book “Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Eyes of American Teenagers,” the author coined the phrase Moralistic Therapeutic Deism to summarize the religious beliefs of the majority of teenagers in America. As Smith puts it, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism consists of five core beliefs: 1. A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth 2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions. 3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about one’s self. 4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem. 5. Good people go to heaven when they die. I can’t help but read that list and wonder why this spot-on description of religion in America must only describe teenagers...Keep Reading

Posted in: Culture Tags: American Culture, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism

January 3, 2017 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

The resolution underneath all resolutions

Happy New Year! With a new year upon us, many of us are thinking about ways to improve ourselves, how to put behind us the mistakes of the past and step into the man or woman we wish to become. Whether your goal is to eat healthier, spend more time with God, be more patient, or something else, I wish you well and pray that God would empower you to be more holy and self-disciplined. As I’ve reflected on New Year’s resolutions, I’ve been thinking about how one resolution could really help, no matter what my goal might be....Keep Reading

Posted in: Discipleship Tags: New Year's, Repentance

December 20, 2016 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

THIS IS THE BEST POST EVER!!!

I read a number of blogs by pastors and theologians, and one pastor I used to read regularly always promoted his upcoming Sunday service as “the best one ever!!!” or one “you have to bring all your friends to!!!” or one that “God is going to do AMAZING things at so you have to be there!!!!!!!” I never got the sense that the pastor was just trying to artificially sell his church; it truly seemed that he loved his church and believed that God was going to do great things every Sunday. But still, after a while the message began to lose its ability to inspire anticipation. I’ve been thinking about that pastor recently, and reflecting upon how opposite my approach, as well as our church’s approach, can be....Keep Reading

Posted in: Discipleship Tags: Passion, Discipleship

December 13, 2016 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Rest in peace, Nancy Butler

This past Saturday, I attended the funeral service for Nancy Butler, a pastoral colleague who pastored Riverfront Family Church, a church which was recently located in Glastonbury but now meets in Hartford. I first met Nancy in 1999, when I was the youth pastor at NewLife and she was looking for a youth group for her daughter, Liza. Our paths crossed again in 2005, when she hosted a regional Emergent conversation (for those who remember the Emergent movement). Soon after that meeting, she started Riverfront Family Church, and on occasion we would meet for coffee and to catch up. While we had our theological differences, I appreciated Nancy’s love for Jesus and enthusiasm for building a church community that would be welcoming to everyone....Keep Reading

Posted in: Death Tags: Discipleship, Death, Nancy Butler

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

November 29, 2016 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

A home for the homeless

For the past eight years, my wife Michele and I have been licensed foster parents. We began this journey by taking in one teenage girl at a time for as long as DCF would keep them with us, and as the needs of our children increased, we eventually transitioned into becoming an emergency placement home, providing a home for a night, a weekend, or sometimes as long as a week to a child of any age who had been removed from their home for abuse, neglect, or during a time of transition. Like any ministry or service, it is not always easy, often disruptive and stressful, but also very rewarding and transformative, not just for us but for our children as well. Given that background, I was intrigued when an online article came across my screen this morning entitled “Why you should let complete strangers stay in your home.”...Keep Reading

Posted in: Discipleship Tags: Discipleship, Hospitality

November 15, 2016 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Stop listening to yourself and start talking to yourself!

Most of the Psalms are directed towards the community of believers, encouraging them towards praise and communion with God. Other Psalms are directed towards God, expressions of worship or lament. But some Psalms, like Psalm 42, are directed inwardly. They are much needed reminders that often our biggest enemy in our life and faith is ourselves, and the messages we are telling ourselves. Listen to how the great Welsh preacher Martyn Lloyd-Jones put it: Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? ...Keep Reading

Posted in: Discipleship Tags: Gospel, Discipleship

November 8, 2016 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

President Jesus

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

Posted in: Politics Tags: Politics, Kingdom of God