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The NewLife Blog

January 9, 2018 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

What are the longings - and the lies - in the stories you are listening to?

The second chapter of “This is our time” is entitled Hollywood is after your heart. In this chapter, Wax examines a few of the common themes that show up in the stories, movies, and songs we see and hear in America. He contends that “we love a good story because we want it to be true. And the longings in many of our most beloved tales are true, good, and right.” As Christians, many of us are rightly asking questions of the content of what we consume: is there anything objectionable that is contrary to God’s will? But there are deeper questions to ask as well: what are the good longings in the stories we are consuming? What are the lies that need to be exposed? And how does the gospel provide the answer to the longings? ...Keep Reading

Tags: Hollywood, Stories

January 2, 2018 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

What lies is your phone telling you?

For the first two months of 2018, I will be using this space to interact with “This is our time” by Trevin Wax, a book that appeared on many “Best of” Christian book lists of 2017. In this book, Wax looks at the myths our culture teaches us, affirms the good longings underneath those myths, and then challenges those myths with the gospel. I believe this will be a good exercise for us in how to be discerning as we live in our world, so that we might be as Paul exhorted the Ephesian church: “Be very careful, then, how you live-- not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17) The first chapter of “This is our time” is entitled Your phone is a myth-teller. In this chapter, Wax looks at the place smartphones increasingly hold in our lives and what they are telling us. If you own a smartphone, it is probably almost always within reach; you may even be reading this on your smartphone right now! The temptation to constantly check your phone, scroll through Facebook or Twitter, play mindless games, or click on your favorite app, is seemingly ever-present. And even if you don’t own a smartphone, hopefully this chapter will help you to understand how it is impacting the people in your world who do....Keep Reading

Tags: Discipleship, Smartphones

December 19, 2017 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Rest in peace, R.C. Sproul

R.C. Sproul, one of the spiritual and theological giants of our day, passed away last week at the age of 78. He was a pastor, a prolific author and speaker, founder of Ligonier Ministries, teacher on the radio program Renewing your Mind, and so much more. His best known work was his 1985 book The Holiness of God, which was a powerful treatise on God’s perfection and our standing as sinners in need of His mercy. In honor of Rev. Sproul, I wanted to share some of his best quotes in the hopes that they might help you to know and love God more:...Keep Reading

Tags: Discipleship, R.C. Sproul

December 5, 2017 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

If you were struggling in life, would you go to church?

I have been taking a class on substance abuse counseling this fall, and one of the assignments was to visit a couple of AA, NA, and Al-Anon meetings. I had always heard that these groups often succeed in creating the kind of atmosphere and community that the church is meant to display. My experience proved this to be correct, especially in one important way that I think is worthy of consideration. One of the ways the church goes wrong, especially with young people, is by preaching the “gospel of sin management” ...Keep Reading

Tags: Church, fellowship

November 28, 2017 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Is your church healthy?

One of the first questions that pastors tend to ask each other when they get together is, “How big is your church?” As pastors, it can be hard not to evaluate the job we are doing by the numbers ...Keep Reading

Tags: Church, Discipleship

November 21, 2017 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Helping without hurting

Over the next few weeks, our church will join with other area churches in collecting new, unwrapped toys for the Hartford City Mission Noah Christmas Store. The Noah Christmas Store is a store for parents of children in Hartford City Mission programs, where they can buy toys at a minimal “suggested donation” cost for their children for Christmas. In the Hartford City Mission flyer promoting this event to churches, they use the word “dignity” in describing what this opportunity affords low-income parents. It is worth reflecting on what that means....Keep Reading

Tags: Christmas, Service

November 14, 2017 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

How to raise a hypocrite

A couple of weeks ago, I was listening to a well-meaning pastor teaching on parenting. He was explaining how he and his wife teach their four pre-teen children to obey right away, all the way, and with enthusiasm. He then went on to declare, “Obedience is so important. After all, the gospel is all about obedience.” Objection, your honor! The gospel is NOT all about obedience....Keep Reading

Tags: Grace, Parenting

October 31, 2017 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Learning from the past

Today is the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. One of the benefits of anniversaries such as these is the reminder that there is so much wisdom to be gained from people who have been dead and gone a long time. Christian booksellers are concerned with making money, and so they are always pushing the latest and greatest books on us. But a reasoned reflection ...Keep Reading

Tags: Prayer, History

October 24, 2017 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Don't waste your life

Taken out of context, the passage above is a stirring charge from Paul to the believer to spend your time living and working for the Lord. Paul’s words are an inspiring challenge, a reminder that while there are many ways we can waste our time in this world, when we serve the Lord, it all matters. But when you put the verse back in its context, the meaning becomes even more profound...Keep Reading

Tags: Discipleship, eternity

October 10, 2017 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Jesus and our trauma

In my spare time, I have been taking a class at a time towards a degree in counseling. My current class is called Crisis Counseling, and so much of my reading lately has been on the subject of trauma. As a Christian who knows apologetics, I am well-versed in how to answer the question “How can a good God let bad things happen?” But having the intellectual answers doesn’t change the fact that those “bad things” that happen to people so often take my breath away and bring me to tears at the depth of the horror some people are forced to endure. In Luke 22, we read about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, turning to his heavenly Father in prayer before he is arrested and crucified...Keep Reading

Tags: Jesus, Suffering