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The NewLife Blog

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

November 1, 2016 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

How do you develop a LOVE for God?

It is worth noting that Jesus, when asked what the greatest commandment was, did not say “BELIEVE in God.” He said “LOVE God.” I know many people who have a hard enough time believing in God, and others who would point to their belief that God is real as evidence of their faith. But Jesus has the audacity to say that we are not just to believe in God, but to love God. In fact, James goes as far as to say that belief in God puts us on par with the demons of hell, for even they believe in God (and probably with greater certainty than we do!) (James 2:19)....Keep Reading

Posted in: Discipleship Tags: Discipleship, Love

October 25, 2016 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

The church is not a building

Ask the average New Englander what a church is, and they will likely answer “a building where Christians go on Sundays.” This, Biblically speaking, is the wrong answer. The church, or ekklesia in Greek, is not a place, but a community of people. More specifically, the church is three things:...Keep Reading

Posted in: Church life Tags: Church, community

October 18, 2016 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Is your Bible more like a fortune cookie or a sword?

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

Posted in: Bible Tags: Bible, Discipleship

October 11, 2016 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

What makes you happy?

It seems so obvious, doesn’t it? If I could only spend my time doing the things that I really enjoy, then I would be truly happy. If I could just eat doughnuts for breakfast and have a big bowl of ice cream (or two bowls) every night, I would be happy. If I could just spend my days watching the shows I like and playing the games I like and avoiding those things that I don’t like, then my life would be great. But Jesus dares to disagree....Keep Reading

Posted in: Discipleship Tags: Discipleship, Happiness

October 4, 2016 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Playing Whac-a-Mole with your struggles

I became a follower of Jesus as a college freshman at age 18. After a couple of years of learning what it meant to follow Jesus, and developing some close friendships with my Christian friends, I started to understand the importance of accountability, of having someone that I trusted enough to confess my sins too, someone who would ask me the tough questions about my walk with the Lord. For the past 20 years, I have always had at least someone that I talk with regularly so that I stay sharp in my discipleship. As Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” But here’s the thing about accountability and the sincere desire to avoid sin....Keep Reading

Posted in: Discipleship Tags: accountability, Discipleship