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The NewLife Blog

March 20, 2018 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Your labor is not in vain

Today’s post is a favorite story of mine, taken out of Jim Cymbala’s Fresh Power. Cymbala is the pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church, and has written many inspiring books about the power of God to transform lives. This story is a testimony to the verse listed above, and is especially encouraging for all who give their life in service of the gospel. Back in 1921, a missionary couple named David and Svea Flood went with their two year-old son from Sweden to the heart of Africa ...Keep Reading

Tags: Suffering, hope

March 13, 2018 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

The fortune cookie Bible

A common approach to reading the Bible is what you might call the fortune cookie approach: search for inspirational sayings or insightful aphorisms that will help you face the challenges of your day. That isn’t always a bad thing; often we genuinely want to know what the Bible has to say to help us in our fears or anxieties, or to find hope for our future in a dark time. And the Bible has plenty to say to encourage us in those seasons. But that can’t be the only approach....Keep Reading

Tags: Bible, Discipleship

March 6, 2018 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Empty rituals

The past two Sundays, one of the main points of emphasis has been about the contrast between the Pharisees’ focus on external obedience to the rules of God (and sometimes their own manmade rules), and Jesus’ focus on internal faith and the need for God’s grace. While I admit that it’s easy to sit and point fingers from 2,000 years away at the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, the reality is that any of us can slide into a place where our faith becomes going through the motions, and the rhythms of our devotion become empty rituals. One of the best things we can do for our faith is to approach those rhythms of devotion from a new angle....Keep Reading

Tags: Discipleship, Lord's Prayer

February 27, 2018 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Rest in peace, Billy Graham

Last week, Billy Graham passed away at the age of 99. Plenty of articles have been written in memoriam about his life all over the internet, and I have read a number of them. I wanted to take this opportunity to focus on two words that showed up most regularly when these writers remember Billy Graham, and consider why these character traits are so worthy of honor and emulation....Keep Reading

Tags: Discipleship, Billy Graham

February 20, 2018 by Eric Stillman 1 comments

Is the world getting better... or worse?

The eighth – and final – chapter of “This is our time” is entitled As the World Wobbles. In this chapter, Wax contrasts what he calls the “decline narrative” and “progress narrative” with the Biblical narrative. The decline narrative is the belief held by some that the world is getting worse and worse, while the progress narrative declares that things are inevitably getting better. Those with the former outlook wish we could return to an earlier time, like the 1950’s, or the time of the Reformation, or even the early church. Those with the latter outlook believe that the world is moving forward towards greater human knowledge and moral behavior, and that the old days were less enlightened than where we are today....Keep Reading

Tags: Culture, Progress

February 13, 2018 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Sex in America

The seventh chapter of “This is our time” is entitled Sex Rebels. In this chapter, Wax examines the myths surrounding sex in America. He discusses how there are two opposite extremes preached in today’s culture. One on end is the “sex is nothing” myth, where sex is simply a pleasurable activity to be enjoyed between consenting adults, with no deeper meaning or significance. Casual sex becomes the norm, nothing more than another biological itch to be scratched. On the other end is the “sex is everything” myth, where sex is essential to human happiness, something to be elevated above religious or cultural rules and restrictions, including even marriage itself. For the one who rejects the notion of God, sex may therefore become the closest one can get to experiencing transcendence....Keep Reading

Tags: Culture, Sex

February 6, 2018 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

American marriage myths

The sixth chapter of “This is our time” is entitled Marriage Matters. In this chapter, Wax examines the myths surrounding romantic love and marriage in America. He talks about the two extremes he sees in the world: on one end (in cultures with arranged marriages), there is marriage as a contract, where romantic love plays no part. On the other end of the spectrum is what often passes for marriage in America (myth #1), where it is just an expression of intense, romantic love, with no expectation that it will be forever if the feelings fade. Marriage as designed by God is somewhere in the middle, as best illustrated by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who wrote “It is not your love that upholds marriage, but from now on it is marriage that upholds your love.” In other words, romantic love matters in marriage, but the foundation is the commitment made to each other by a husband and wife. ...Keep Reading

Tags: Culture, Marriage

January 30, 2018 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

The American Christian

The fifth chapter of “This is our time” is entitled Never “at Home” in the City of Man.” In this chapter, Wax examines the relationship the American Christian should have with his or her country. He presents the case that from the beginning, the European settlers who colonized America believed that God had a special relationship with their new country, that America would be a shining “city on a hill.” Over time, this belief only got stronger, as American preachers taught that America would help usher in the Kingdom of God, and others viewed America as the Messiah the world needed, uniquely blessed by God to bring peace and freedom to the rest of the world....Keep Reading

Tags: Culture, America

January 23, 2018 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Your money will not make you happy

The fourth chapter of “This is our time” is entitled Shopping for Happiness. In this chapter, Wax sets his sights on the American Dream and the goal that many of us have in our society to accumulate more money and stuff until we have everything we need and have reached a place of comfort and security. He argues that the longing for stability and comfort, where we can rest and enjoy the fruit of our labor, is a good longing. But the lie our culture is feeding us is that the goal of life is to accumulate more money and possessions, and that financial aspiration is a good primary driving force for our actions and choices. ...Keep Reading

Posted in: Culture Tags: Discipleship, Money

January 16, 2018 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

The pursuit of happiness

The third chapter of “This is our time” is entitled The North Pole and the Pursuit of Happiness. Wax begins the chapter by telling the story of the first expedition to the North Pole, which ended tragically because the common belief of cartographers (map-makers) at the time was that there was an open polar sea that would make it easy for a ship to reach the North Pole. Wax uses this story to illustrate how having the wrong map can lead to a tragic ending, no matter how sincerely you believe in that map. In the same way, the map of “the good life” given to us by our American culture is leading us tragically astray, whether or not we realize it. As the writer of Proverbs puts it, “There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 14:12)....Keep Reading

Tags: Culture, Pursuit of happiness