Personal Update – 2018 into 2019

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Dear friends,

Lily and I want to wish you and yours a very merry Christmas and happy New Year!

Special thanks this week to Maria! and the now 19 monthly supporters who make this writing all possible.

I want to give you a personal update this week into Lily’s and my life and our work in 2018 with an eye towards 2019. I hope you enjoy the update you can see HERE. We added pictures again to make it less dense 🙂

I love hearing from you. Please don’t hesitate to drop a quick note or ask a question.

Yours,
Andrew.. Read More

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Do you enjoy Stop & Think? Become a Sustaining Patron with a monthly donation and invest in my work around the world. Gifts are tax-deductible through the Institute for Faith and Flourishing. Yours with gratitude, Andrew

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My deepest passion is encouraging others in love. As you stop and think with me, I hope you feel more at home in your humanity, less lonely in what you believe, and fresh courage to love others beyond boundaries. Thanks for reading!

Neighbor-Love: The Course

How do we truly flourish? Take a deep dive with me into the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of loving our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus promised, “Do this and you will live” (Luke 10:28). This course shows you how.

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The New Us: How Christmas Saved Nationalism

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Each Christmas, I reread the stories of Jesus’s birth in the Gospels seeking fresh insight. What are these ancient stories trying to teach us today?

This year, I was struck by the brilliant intersection of Christmas, nationalism, and Jesus’s kingdom in Matthew’s Gospel. In short, Jesus is “God with us,” but Jesus totally  reimagines the meaning of “us.”

Let me explain.

First, the not-yet-born Jesus is introduced as “the Messiah” who will “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:1, 21).

Matthew’s Jewish audience would have read this as nationalistic language. When the “people’s” sins were finally overcome, God’s favor would return, and thus Israel would defeat her enemies. Israel’s idea of salvation always had this double-meaning: salvation from sins (the cause of God’s judgment) leads to salvation from enemies (the agents of God’s judgment). The Messiah King was expected to be a military leader who would “save” the nation in both senses.

Second, Matthew quotes Isaiah 7:14 and calls Jesus “Immanuel” or “God with us.”

.. Read More
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Do you enjoy Stop & Think? Become a Sustaining Patron with a monthly donation and invest in my work around the world. Gifts are tax-deductible through the Institute for Faith and Flourishing. Yours with gratitude, Andrew

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My deepest passion is encouraging others in love. As you stop and think with me, I hope you feel more at home in your humanity, less lonely in what you believe, and fresh courage to love others beyond boundaries. Thanks for reading!

Neighbor-Love: The Course

How do we truly flourish? Take a deep dive with me into the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of loving our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus promised, “Do this and you will live” (Luke 10:28). This course shows you how.

View Course

The Ethics of Christmas

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The birth of Jesus reveals God’s love for all people across every barrier. God wants to be with and for humanity. So God comes personally and gently – in a powerless baby born to a poor family in an occupied country – to be Immanuel, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). Luke calls this “good news that will cause great joy for all people” (Luke 2:10-12).

Why would God do this?

Jesus explains God’s character like this:

“The Most High is kind to the ungrateful and wicked… your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:35-36

This is who God is: totally undeserved kindness and mercy. And so God never stops giving good gifts, even to “the ungrateful and wicked.” Christmas, then, is the most personal revelation of God’s self-giving generosity. God loves across every boundary and comes in person to share his life with sinners, enemies, the damned – with “all people.”

What is the appropriate response to God’s generosity?

Jesus answers like this:

“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

.. Read More
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Donation = Appreciation

Do you enjoy Stop & Think? Become a Sustaining Patron with a monthly donation and invest in my work around the world. Gifts are tax-deductible through the Institute for Faith and Flourishing. Yours with gratitude, Andrew

Sign Up for the Newsletter


My deepest passion is encouraging others in love. As you stop and think with me, I hope you feel more at home in your humanity, less lonely in what you believe, and fresh courage to love others beyond boundaries. Thanks for reading!

Neighbor-Love: The Course

How do we truly flourish? Take a deep dive with me into the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of loving our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus promised, “Do this and you will live” (Luke 10:28). This course shows you how.

View Course

Advent: Does God Care About Social Justice? Part 3

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Israel’s Hope

How do we get ready for God’s coming?

This question pulsed at the heart of Jewish hope. After Israel had been defeated and exiled from her homeland (first by Assyria in 722 BC, then by Babylonia in 586 BC), it seemed like God had disappeared. Ezekiel wrote the dark words, “Then the glory of the Lord departed” (Ezekiel 10:18).

But the prophets promised that God would finally “return” and make everything right. Isaiah foresaw valleys being filled in and mountains being leveled to “prepare the way for the Lord.” At last, “the glory of the Lord” would be “revealed” and the good news would be shouted, “Here is your God!” (Isaiah 40:1-9).

So if God is coming, how do we get ready? This question was burning in many Jews’ hearts in the first century. They were groaning under Roman occupation, and many people believed that “the Day of the Lord” was finally dawning.

Jesus’s Coming

Of course, this is also the question of Christian “Advent.”.. Read More

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Donation = Appreciation

Do you enjoy Stop & Think? Become a Sustaining Patron with a monthly donation and invest in my work around the world. Gifts are tax-deductible through the Institute for Faith and Flourishing. Yours with gratitude, Andrew

Sign Up for the Newsletter


My deepest passion is encouraging others in love. As you stop and think with me, I hope you feel more at home in your humanity, less lonely in what you believe, and fresh courage to love others beyond boundaries. Thanks for reading!

Neighbor-Love: The Course

How do we truly flourish? Take a deep dive with me into the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of loving our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus promised, “Do this and you will live” (Luke 10:28). This course shows you how.

View Course

Does God Care About Social Justice? Part 2

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Last week, I asked, “Does God care about social justice?”

The Prophet Isaiah answers with a thunderous Yes. God not only cares about social justice. God cares about it infinitely more than our traditional religious practices like celebrating holidays, going to church, giving offerings, praying, and fasting (Isaiah 1:12-17; 58:1-12). In fact, when our faith is disconnected from justice for outsiders and the oppressed, God says, “I hate [it] with all my being” (Isaiah 1:14).

But perhaps Isaiah’s passion for social justice was a bit “extreme.” How does his teaching compare with what God says through the other prophets?

This week, I want to show you three more examples of God’s passion for social justice in the Bible.

In the Prophet Hosea, God promises to “stop all of [Israel’s] celebrations” and “holidays” (2:11). He declares, “I also reject you as my priests” (4:6). Why such harsh judgment?

“For I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” Hosea 6:6

What God really wants is compassionate care for others, especially the unwelcome and unworthy... Read More

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Donation = Appreciation

Do you enjoy Stop & Think? Become a Sustaining Patron with a monthly donation and invest in my work around the world. Gifts are tax-deductible through the Institute for Faith and Flourishing. Yours with gratitude, Andrew

Sign Up for the Newsletter


My deepest passion is encouraging others in love. As you stop and think with me, I hope you feel more at home in your humanity, less lonely in what you believe, and fresh courage to love others beyond boundaries. Thanks for reading!

Neighbor-Love: The Course

How do we truly flourish? Take a deep dive with me into the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of loving our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus promised, “Do this and you will live” (Luke 10:28). This course shows you how.

View Course

Does God Care About Social Justice?

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In my research and teaching, I’m always amazed by this trend: religious activity often correlates with forgetting what God really wants. We can fill our lives with church, singing, and prayer but miss the point.

Reading the biblical prophets reminds me of watching Wile E. Coyote chase Road Runner as a kid. The prophets try everything they can to break through to the people, sometimes going to ridiculous lengths. But their message rarely catches up as the people race through their routines.

The irony is that the people won’t listen because they’re already certain that they know what God wants, and they’re busy doing it. So they see these prophets as distractions or rebels, and diligently defend their orthodoxy.

Isaiah summarizes the problem like this:

“No one stops to think.” Isaiah 44:19

This is a wild and arresting biblical claim: we can be convinced that we’re running towards God but actually be running away from God. Devotion can be dangerous, if we’re not willing to stop and think about it... Read More

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Donation = Appreciation

Do you enjoy Stop & Think? Become a Sustaining Patron with a monthly donation and invest in my work around the world. Gifts are tax-deductible through the Institute for Faith and Flourishing. Yours with gratitude, Andrew

Sign Up for the Newsletter


My deepest passion is encouraging others in love. As you stop and think with me, I hope you feel more at home in your humanity, less lonely in what you believe, and fresh courage to love others beyond boundaries. Thanks for reading!

Neighbor-Love: The Course

How do we truly flourish? Take a deep dive with me into the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of loving our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus promised, “Do this and you will live” (Luke 10:28). This course shows you how.

View Course

Dakar’s New Humanity

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Last week, I spent five, full days with twenty-four African pastors and community leaders in Dakar, Senegal. Dakar is the westernmost tip of Africa, and I was invited to cross the continent to give these women and men an intensive course in Christian Ethics.

Many things from this intense week impressed and inspired me, including these leaders’ deep thoughtfulness and passion for their communities. But what moved me the most was
the thick sense of love and affection that grew between us as we studied, discussed (and debated!), broke bread, and went out into the community together.

Ten nations were represented in the classroom. We came from different languages, cultures, economic backgrounds, and theological opinions. For my part, I had never been to West Africa before, and my students were total strangers to me when I arrived. And yet by Friday afternoon, we embraced one another with the warmest sense of love and cherishing. In those five days, we had become a new family, and we already started missing one another before we even said goodbye... Read More

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Donation = Appreciation

Do you enjoy Stop & Think? Become a Sustaining Patron with a monthly donation and invest in my work around the world. Gifts are tax-deductible through the Institute for Faith and Flourishing. Yours with gratitude, Andrew

Sign Up for the Newsletter


My deepest passion is encouraging others in love. As you stop and think with me, I hope you feel more at home in your humanity, less lonely in what you believe, and fresh courage to love others beyond boundaries. Thanks for reading!

Neighbor-Love: The Course

How do we truly flourish? Take a deep dive with me into the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of loving our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus promised, “Do this and you will live” (Luke 10:28). This course shows you how.

View Course

Midterm Elections Prayer

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Dear friends,

We have just had our midterm election in the United States. This moment reminds me of Paul’s challenge to Christians living in the world’s superpower: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). J.B. Phillips’ old translation is striking: “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mold your minds from within.”

Isn’t this the temptation facing Christians around the world? If we don’t rebelliously “renew our minds,” we easily get “squeezed” into the mold of some camp that promises us security and power. But in the process, we make a mockery of Christ’s cruciform lordship and his command to love our neighbors – especially our poor and oppressed neighbors – as ourselves. Before long, our minds conform, and our Christianity and culture become virtually indistinguishable. Values completely foreign to the New Testament – racial superiority, personal privilege, political power – claim our passionate allegiance... Read More

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Donation = Appreciation

Do you enjoy Stop & Think? Become a Sustaining Patron with a monthly donation and invest in my work around the world. Gifts are tax-deductible through the Institute for Faith and Flourishing. Yours with gratitude, Andrew

Sign Up for the Newsletter


My deepest passion is encouraging others in love. As you stop and think with me, I hope you feel more at home in your humanity, less lonely in what you believe, and fresh courage to love others beyond boundaries. Thanks for reading!

Neighbor-Love: The Course

How do we truly flourish? Take a deep dive with me into the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of loving our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus promised, “Do this and you will live” (Luke 10:28). This course shows you how.

View Course

Why Christians Should Celebrate the Rise of Women Leaders

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Ethiopian Women Rising

Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, has been making inspiring reforms since he took office in early April. Most recently, Abiy’s reforms have included appointing women to senior positions of government leadership. These appointments have made history in Ethiopia and news around the world.

On October 16, Abiy appointed ten men and ten women to his 20-member cabinet with women now heading important federal ministries like defense, peace, trade, transport and labor, revenue, science, and culture. Abiy said in parliament, “Our women ministers will disprove the adage that women can’t lead.”

On October 24, Abiy appointed Sahle-Work Zewde, an experienced diplomat, to serve as Ethiopia’s first female president. Abiy’s spokesperson Fitsum Arega tweeted, “In a patriarchal society such as ours, the appointment of a female head of state not only sets the standard for the future but also normalizes women as decision-makers in public life.” That night my friend Eden told me, “The glass ceiling has been broken.”.. Read More

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Donation = Appreciation

Do you enjoy Stop & Think? Become a Sustaining Patron with a monthly donation and invest in my work around the world. Gifts are tax-deductible through the Institute for Faith and Flourishing. Yours with gratitude, Andrew

Sign Up for the Newsletter


My deepest passion is encouraging others in love. As you stop and think with me, I hope you feel more at home in your humanity, less lonely in what you believe, and fresh courage to love others beyond boundaries. Thanks for reading!

Neighbor-Love: The Course

How do we truly flourish? Take a deep dive with me into the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of loving our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus promised, “Do this and you will live” (Luke 10:28). This course shows you how.

View Course

U.S. Embassy Talk: Enemy Love

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Dear friends,

Last week, I gave you a window into the youth workshops that Dr. Tekalign Nega and I have started leading in Ethiopia with the U.S. Embassy. This week, I’m excited to share some of that content with you. You can read my brief message on the common good and enemy-love below or, if you have Facebook, watch the video (starting at minute 21) here.

Have a great week,

Andrew

The New Ethiopia

Prime Minister Abiy has called for a “new Ethiopia.” What is the new Ethiopia, and what does it require to become possible?

I believe two things are essential for the flourishing of a new Ethiopia and renewal in any society: the common good and enemy-love. In this essay, let me briefly unpack these two ideas.

The Common Good

Humans are creatures driven by what we love. When we talk about “the good,” we’re using another name for what we consider worthy of our love. And what we love is what we give ourselves to... Read More

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Donation = Appreciation

Do you enjoy Stop & Think? Become a Sustaining Patron with a monthly donation and invest in my work around the world. Gifts are tax-deductible through the Institute for Faith and Flourishing. Yours with gratitude, Andrew

Sign Up for the Newsletter


My deepest passion is encouraging others in love. As you stop and think with me, I hope you feel more at home in your humanity, less lonely in what you believe, and fresh courage to love others beyond boundaries. Thanks for reading!

Neighbor-Love: The Course

How do we truly flourish? Take a deep dive with me into the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of loving our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus promised, “Do this and you will live” (Luke 10:28). This course shows you how.

View Course