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The NewLife Blog

March 7, 2017 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Does putting God first cause you to love others better or worse?

When I was a youth pastor, I remember engaging in a conversation with a friend of one of my youth group kids who was questioning whether or not God was real. At one point, as I was sharing with her how God was the most important person in my life, she asked the question, “Isn’t that offensive to your wife?” It’s an understandable question. After all, I know that there are non-Christian spouses who are bitter about their significant other’s devotion to Christ, because they feel that their marriage takes second place. My answer,...Keep Reading

Posted in: Discipleship Tags: God, Discipleship

February 28, 2017 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

You're not as free as you think you are

This past Sunday, I preached from Romans 6-7 about the question of motivation: If I am saved by faith in Jesus, not by my good works, then what is my motivation to “be good” or follow God? Why not just live however I please if God has already saved me? One of the reasons given in Romans 6 is that “freedom” as our culture teaches it is a fallacy. In the end, you are either a slave to God or a slave to sin (Romans 6:16). The choice is not between following God and living free to do as you please. The choice is between serving God, which leads to eternal life, or serving sin, which leads to death....Keep Reading

Posted in: Discipleship Tags: Discipleship, Freedom

February 21, 2017 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

This life feels like one long race

I love sports, but I hate running. During my high school career, I played soccer, basketball, and baseball for four years, but I could not stand running just for the sake of running. When I tried to run in my first 5K, in college, I discovered quickly that I completely lacked the mental toughness necessary to overcome the physical pain and mental monotony that for me accompanied running long distances. Unfortunately, I have found that much of life is similar to running a long race. ...Keep Reading

Posted in: Discipleship Tags: Discipleship, Running

February 14, 2017 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

You don't have to change the world

One of the best Christian speakers I ever heard was a missionary named David Pierce, who travels around the world with his band, No Longer Music, bringing the message of Jesus to Satanist clubs, anarchy festivals, and anywhere you wouldn’t normally expect to find Christians. Pierce wrote an incredibly unique book called Dancing with Skinheads and other Bible Study Topics, and one thing he wrote in there that I’ve never forgotten is this: “Do something small for God.” He said that so many people want to do something big for God, to do something that really changes the world. But often it’s the small, overlooked, seemingly insignificant things that are the biggest steps of obedience to God....Keep Reading

Posted in: Discipleship Tags: Discipleship, Service

February 7, 2017 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Think twice before you buy that Christian book

One of my favorite things about seminary was the library. I love to read, so you can imagine my delight at finding a place that housed what seemed like every Christian book ever written. There was even a shelf made up entirely of Max Lucado books! As much as I loved my seminary library, and as passionate as I am about reading good books, I am more cautious when it comes to the average Christian book store, or Christian book distributor. I think the average Christian assumes that there is a correlation between “best-selling,” “theologically precise,” and “spiritually edifying.” Unfortunately, that is not always the case....Keep Reading

Posted in: Discernment Tags: Discernment, Christian publishing

January 31, 2017 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Who do you blame for your suffering?

Soon after the Holocaust, an East German pastor by the name of Guenter Rutenborn wrote a play called The Sign of Jonah, in his attempt to make sense of all the horror had transpired in his country. In his play, a group of German people attempt to come to terms with the atrocities that had been committed on their soil, asking who was to blame for the Holocaust. Some blamed Hitler. Others blamed the munitions manufacturers. Still more blamed the German people in their apathy. Finally, the people realized that above all the others, that God was to blame. After all, God had created this world. God had placed all of this power in such unworthy hands. And God had for some unknown reason allowed all of these tragedies to happen. As the group of people come to this conclusion, God’s punishment is considered, and this sentence is pronounced:...Keep Reading

Posted in: Gospel Tags: Gospel, Suffering

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