Christmas Against Nationalism

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Dear friends,

The story of Jesus’s birth has never been more inspiring and challenging than it is today. Thanks for stopping and thinking with me about this world-changing event and its implications as we approach 2020.

Merry Christmas!

***

America first! Ethiopia first! Israel first!

We live in a time of nationalism, and we often justify the ultimate importance of our nation by appealing to God. We tell a story about how God has chosen us and promises our group special favor, and thus we are right to put ourselves first, even if it harms others. Our nation’s success is a God-given blessing and duty.

There was every reason to expect the Christmas story to be a religious nationalism story. And this is how the Christmas holiday is often celebrated today. God is with us, we tell ourselves.

But when we read the Gospels’ Christmas stories, they are strikingly anti-nationalistic stories. God isn’t on the side of any nation. God doesn’t get behind the collective identity of any group... Read More

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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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Almost Christmas

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Dear friends,

I’m taking a break from Stop & Think this week as Lily and I prepare to return to Chicago for Christmas. In lieu of my regular essay, I want to recommend my friend Laura Merzig Fabrycky’s fantastic essay “Dietrich Bonhoeffer: The Good Neighbor.” Laura was kind enough to discuss some of my research and work in her essay, and I love how she has centralized Bonhoeffer’s passion for neighbor-love.

Chicago friends, Lily and I would love to see you during this brief visit home away from home!

Merry Christmas,
Andrew.. Read More

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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 Gift of the Individual

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Dear friends,

This week I’m reflecting on individualism and the precious treasure of our individuality. Thanks as always for stopping and thinking with me!

Yours with gratitude,
Andrew

###

Few concepts have been so attacked as individualism in recent times.

“The Enlightenment” and “modernity” are routinely blamed for producing individualism. “The West” is condemned for exporting individualism to the rest of the world. The easiest way to cast suspicion on a choice or philosophy is to show that it comes from or leads to individualism.

When I was teaching at Wheaton College, I noticed among my students that “individualism” was often the taken-for-granted villain in what’s wrong with the contemporary world. I have seen the same pattern in my work in Ethiopia.

But I believe this is a serious mistake.

Of course, humans are fundamentally relational creatures. We are born from parents before our wanting or choosing into a particular place and time. We are buried by others after we die... Read More

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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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Dear friends,

This week I’m reflecting on the moral implications of heaven for wealth and poverty on earth. I find the Bible’s vision of heaven extremely thought-provoking, challenging, and inspiring, especially as we look toward Christmas.

Yours with gratitude,
Andrew

###

Do class differences exist in heaven? More broadly, what are the moral implications of the Bible’s vision of heavenly society for how we structure earthly society now?

Many people may think of heaven as irrelevant pie-in-the-sky that distracts from earthly life or as the reinforcement of the class structures that oppress poor people on earth. But when we read the Bible and especially the teachings of Jesus, we find a radically different picture. Instead, the Bible’s vision of heaven is a subversive manifesto for status reversal, economic justice, and ultimate hope for the poor.

There are various Hebrew and Greek terms that get translated as “heaven” in the English-language Bible. In the New International Translation (NIV), for example, the word “heaven(s)” appears 622 times... Read More

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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

Dear friends,

This week I’m reflecting on habits of talking about people vs. talking to them. Join me in renewing your commitment to dialogue with others.

Much love,
Andrew

###

I believe one of the great problems in contemporary religion, culture, and society is that we spend so much time talking about people and so little time talking to people. There is a massive – and morally profound – difference in these two little words: about vs. to.

When we talk about people, no courage or character is required. We don’t need to check whether what we are saying is accurate or honoring. Our word is reality – almost divine. Moreover, we don’t need to risk the other person actually having something to say back to us, whether a word of harsh critique, unexpected kindness, or an honest question. No listening is required. We can stay safe in our globe of gossip, the invincible trench of anonymous attack. Our monologue – spiced with others joining us – is unilateral... 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

Strange Fruit

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Dear friends,

What would your life be like if God were on your side? This week I’m reflecting on the signs of authentic spirituality in a time of increasing polarization and conflict.

The Neighbor-Love Movement had a very encouraging soft launch at blueMoon last week. Dr. Eleni Gabre-Madhin wrote, “[The NLM] was without doubt the most incredibly moving event we have ever had… You are my neighbor. I care for you. Period.” Please take a look at our Covenant and consider signing it today. There’s good work ahead.

Yours with gratitude,
Andrew

###

What would your life be like if God were on your side? Who would you be? What would you do?

We live in an increasingly religious world. The old prophecies that “God” was disappearing have proven false. The news is full of stories of religion, from Kanye’s conversion to exploding churches in China. With glitz and glamor, the prosperity gospel preachers promise us health, wealth, and miraculous success if only we give our allegiance and money... 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

Depolarizing the Person

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Dear friends,

This week I’m stopping and thinking about contemporary polarization and the ways we see others.

If you’re in Addis, you’re warmly invited to blueMoon at 5:30pm (opposite Sapphire Hotel). I’ll be speaking about the Neighbor-Love Movement and how we might see others as neighbors. Big thanks to Dr. Eleni Zaude Gabre-Madhin for her hospitality.

Yours with gratitude,
Andrew

###

How do you see others?

Seeing others as angels is unfair. It gives them too much credit and sets them up to fail.

Seeing others as demons is also unfair. It gives them too little credit and sets them up to fail.

These seemingly opposite ways of seeing others are actually the same. They both refuse to behold – to see and embrace – the human being. They both need idols – super-human objects – to worship or smash, to adore or destroy.

The Bible’s basic vision of humanity is more complex and subtle. We are neither angels nor demons... 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

Yours: A Word of Freedom and Peace

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Dear friends,

This week I’m stopping and thinking about a single word at the end of Jesus’s famous prayer. It contains incredible power for personal and cultural transformation. Thanks for joining me in seeking a more authentic, thoughtful life.

Yours with gratitude,
Andrew

###

Kingdom. Power. Glory. KPG.

These three words capture some of deepest drives and desires in the human heart.

How many lives have been destroyed in conflicts over kingdom and power and glory? How many injustices justified? How many families shattered? How many wars fought? How much anxiety and addiction enflamed?

Kingdom is systematic control over others. Power is the active exercise of that control. And glory is the status that arises from that kingdom and power.

When Jesus teaches his followers to pray, Jesus teaches us to renounce these three things. Let them go. Give them up. Make prayer a premeditated act of surrendering KPG.

Whoever we may be and whatever we may be doing, kingdom, power, and glory shouldn’t be part of our agenda... 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

A Prayer for Peace, Justice, and Healing

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Dear friends,

Over the last few days, violence in Ethiopia has killed 67 people and wounded many others. (Read more at Reuters and the New York Times.) In light of this situation, I want to invite you to stop and pray with me for peace and justice in Ethiopia. If you’re not a person who prays, I hope these simple words can serve as a reflection for cultivating empathy and care for others in the midst of suffering. If you do pray, consider writing your own prayer for Ethiopia and others who are suffering violence, loss, and grief.

Yours with love and sorrow from Addis,

Andrew

###

Our Father in heaven,

Please have mercy on our many sisters and brothers who have been killed and taken from us.

Please embrace and comfort those who are grieving and heartbroken with unbearable loss.

Please sustain and restore the injured and traumatized and those who are caring for them.

Please protect and sooth those who are filled with fear and still in danger for their lives... 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 Art of Listening: How Men Can Support Women

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Dear friends,

The Association for Women in Business here in Addis recently invited me to give a talk on why men should support women and how men can do this well. I loved this conversation, and I want to share my perspective with you.

As always, thanks to the subscribers who make Stop & Think possible and for your thoughtful feedback. I love hearing from you.

Yours with gratitude,
Andrew

###

  1. Who Needs Support?

Every human, regardless of age or gender, needs the support of others.

From womb to tomb, we need others’ support simply to exist. But more profoundly, we need one another’s support to flourish, to come fully alive and to discover the meaning of why we exist.

Our need for others is not an unfortunate flaw but a beautiful feature of how God made us. We are not self-sufficient gods. We are interdependent creatures who are made for communication and cooperation with others.

Support comes from two Latin words: sub, which means “from below,” and portare, which means “to carry.”.. 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

Let God’s Voice Echo in Your Eyes

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Dear friends,

This week’s essay continues my reflection on God’s declaration, “You are my beloved child; I’m happy with you.” If you try the experiment I suggest, please let me know how it goes.

Congratulations to Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, for winning this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. May peace, justice, and reconciliation spread in Ethiopia.

Yours with gratitude,
Andrew

###

In “The Divine Declaration,” I invited you to consider that God’s most basic message to you is the same as his only message to Jesus: “You are my beloved child. I’m happy with you.”

Inhaling and internalizing this divine declaration fills our being with dignity, peace, and joy. Before we have done anything or made something of ourselves, God declares his love for us and his delight in us – simply because we exist.

This divine declaration has powerful implications for our relationships with others and the moral quality of our society.

Imagine if we saw and treated others as people for whom God declares, “You are my beloved child... 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 Divine Declaration

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Dear friends,

This week I’m writing about divine declaration. Hope you all are having a great Fall and hello from Ethiopia!

Rich blessings,
Andrew

###

Imagine living your life by embracing that you are lovely and loved by God simply because you exist. Fully accepted at your core. Causing delight. Celebrated as you are created.

Imagine breathing that in and allowing it to oxygenate and illuminate your entire being, even the deepest and darkest parts of your self.

This was the essence of God’s first and only message to Jesus throughout his entire ministry.

God’s words to Jesus are utterly profound and beautiful:

“You are my son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22)

In other words: “Child, I love you. I’m happy with you.”

The phrase “whom I love” translates agapetos – my beloved, the cherished one. The Greek word for “well pleased” (eudokeo) communicates goodness, delight, pleasure: “You are good, delightful, pleasurable.”.. 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

Loss, Presence, and Hope

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Dear friends,

This week I’m writing about a recent road trip I took with my parents. The essay reflects on loss, anxiety, and a deep experience of hope I had with my mother. I hope you are encouraged.

Please pray with me as I return for a new semester of service in Ethiopia tonight. I’m excited for the good work ahead.

Rich blessings,
Andrew

###

Do you ever fear that you are losing your past or that the best is behind you?

Six years ago, my mother had a serious stroke. It was a Thursday – October 17, 2013. After that night of anguish, her life – and ours – has never been the same.

Mom’s physical abilities, appearance, and personality all dramatically changed. The person who loved spending time with others, who engaged in deep conversation and prayer, who worked out, rode horses, and practiced massage largely transitioned into memory burdened with a deep sense of loss.

Mom is still with us and full of love... 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

Being Known Undamns Us

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Dear friends,

This week I’m stopping to think about an unusual question: what damns us? I find Jesus’s perspective extremely thought-provoking and liberating. I’d love your feedback and insights from your own experience.

I’m on a crazy road trip with my parents to Maine. I hope you’re off to a good week.

Love,
Andrew

###

What disconnects us from God and damns our life? In less spiritual language, what is ultimate loss?

Jesus gives a thought-provoking answer to this question at the end of his first major teaching. As I look back on thousands of sermons in church, I can’t recall a preacher discussing Jesus’s strange statement.

Jesus says that not being known by God is damning and leads to ultimate loss. “I never knew you; away from me,” Jesus replies to those seeking his favor at the last judgment (Matthew 7:23).

Jesus’s words here are counter-intuitive. Jesus doesn’t say, “You didn’t know me.” Many religious people assume that us not knowing God is the obvious path to damnation... 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

Sister Death

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Dear friends,

This week I’m looking at death and lessons it can teach us about living well. Thank you for journeying with me, and special thanks to the subscribers who make Stop & Think possible.

With love,
Andrew

###

Every human being will experience death. In fact, part of what makes us uniquely human is that we live with the awareness that we are dying.

Still, death is difficult for us to face. It disturbs and frightens us, and thus we often avoid or deny it, until death visits us.

Christian faith invites us to face death with honesty and hope. It calls us to reflect on death’s meaning and to live in light of what it reveals. Ecclesiastes says, “Death is the destiny of every human; the living should take this to heart” (7:2). Paul wrote, “I face death every day” (1 Corinthians 15:31).

The reflections below are a brief attempt to take death to heart, to spend time facing death and learning from it rather than pushing it away... 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 Listener Is a Liberator

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Dear friends,

This week I’m reflecting on the liberating power of listening. Special thanks to Roger and Rebecca Sandberg for their incredible hospitality and beautiful practice of listening.

Yours with gratitude,
Andrew

###

Last Wednesday, I sat on a beautiful beach and experienced a vital truth: The listener is a liberator.

The Pacific Ocean was a deep aqua green. The sun was drenching everything in its golden light. The waves were crashing into foamy fireworks of white and blue. Surfers were riding the waves, and small children were blissfully playing in the sand. The salty smell of the ocean air filled my lunges, and the refreshing wind blew across my face. The surging, crackling roar of the tide filled my ears with its awe-inspiring music. Not far off the coast, a 235-foot volcanic rock towered above the pounding ocean, magnificently unmoved in the restless water.

It was paradise. Everything was beautiful. It was exactly what I hoped for when my friends invited me to come out for a time of fellowship and renewal in nature... 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

Suicide and Healing

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Dear friends,

One of my goals in Stop & Think is to explore topics that are often ignored or stigmatized in church. This week I’m looking at suicide and healing. I hope this honest essay opens room for you to reveal and listen. Your feedback is always warmly welcome.

Love,
Andrew

Suicide and Healing

I listened to a dear friend this week talk about their struggle with suicide. The darkness had come back, and they found themself thinking about ending it. The loneliness, emptiness, and pain had become unbearable. And yet they also had a nagging sense that their life wasn’t over. So they reached out to a few friends.

I was deeply moved by their courage to reveal themself with me. They talked about a devastating death from their past and enduring pain in their family. They shared about work and friendship and the sense of purposelessness in it all.

My friend then started to ask me a question but quickly interrupted themself... 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

Sapiens: A Review

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Dear friends,

Yuval Harari has become a famous and influential thinker. His book Sapiens was praised by Barak Obama, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg, among others. Many continue to read it. This week, I take a look at this brilliant and dangerous history of humanity.

Special thanks to the subscribers who make this work possible!

Yours with gratitude,
Andrew

#####

Yuval Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (2014) is written as a wakeup call to human thoughtlessness in the form of an entrancing description of 70,000 years of human history. Harari is convinced that the “history of humankind” is packed with interesting and important stories that will shape – and also potentially lead to the annihilation of– our species’ mind-bending future. Harari’s book, then, serves as an example of the kind of rigorous thinking that he believes is urgently necessary: thinking that makes sense of the past, asks challenging questions of the present, and faces the future with clarity, creativity, and courage... 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

Disappointment with God

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Dear friends,

This week I’m exploring disappointment with God. Thanks for the vulnerable and encouraging feedback on my recent essays exploring burnout and grief. I’m grateful to journey with you.

With love,
Andrew

#####

My sister Abby sat with me this week and listened to me talk about the inner ocean of tears I described in “Grief.” Her loving presence and patient listening freed me to open my heart.

I found myself telling Abby about the suffering of children I have befriended – poverty, injury, abuse, abandonment, humiliation, disease, death. My tears welled up, and my voice was choked with sorrow.

I then confessed something that felt foreign and frightening and yet familiar in my life: “I think I’m wrestling with disappointment with God.”

Why would a loving Father allow his vulnerable children to suffer such terrible pain and evil? I told Abby that I sometimes want to say, “God, you’re such a screwup!”

Those tearful words came out of my mouth like a shard of glass that had cut into my soul... Read More

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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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Marriage: God’s Counter-Cultural Love Story

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Dear friends,

I had the very special gift of co-officiating David and Janie Robinson’s wedding this weekend. With their permission, I’m sharing my wedding homily, which reflects on the radical theological meaning of Christian marriage. Whether you’re married, engaged, or single, I pray this sermon strengthens your love for God and people. Congratulations, Janie and David!!!

Yours with celebration,
Andrew

#####

Introduction

Friends, this wedding covenant takes us back to the beginning of our universe, into the very heart of God, and forward to our ultimate hope. Let me briefly explain what I mean.

The Origin of Love  

Level the mountains. Drain dry the deep oceans. Wipe away the earth and billions of planets. Snuff out the stars and suns. Rewind every life that has ever lived.

Return to formless and void. Back to God and only God – to God and nothing else.

Why are we here? Where do we come from? What is the origin of our existence?

The Christian answer is love... Read More

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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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Grief: 25 Roads to My Heart

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Dear friends,

This week I’m looking at grief and my discovery of an ocean of tears in my self. I hope this honest essay is encouraging. Thanks as always to the subscribers who make this work possible.

Yours with love,
Andrew

#####

I want to remove my armor and share something with you that feels frightening and shameful but, I believe, has power to liberate and heal. As Jesus said, “The truth shall set you free,” and confession simply means telling the truth with others. Receive this essay, then, as a confession.

In my essay “Burnout,” I wrote about looking beneath the gums of my soul into the holes growing inside me, often in places where I’ve denied my limits as a human being and injured my self. As I’ve done this soul work, I’ve noticed that there are tears just beneath the surface of my eyes, ready to flow out from deep in my heart. If I talk about the death of a loved one or children suffering in the streets of Addis or people losing their homes in violent conflict or a friend’s experience of abuse in her marriage, my tears begin to flow... Read More

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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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Burnout: The Holes in My Teeth and Soul

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Dear friends,

This week I’m sharing a story about facing our limits and listening to the pain in our lives. I hope you’re encouraged and thank you as always for stopping and thinking with me.

With love,
Andrew

#####

Eleven years ago, I fell flat on my face. With that crash, I began learning an important truth that I need now more than ever.

It was my third time living in Addis Ababa, and I was a 24-year-old pastor serving at a young, growing, revival-declaring church named Beza. My love for Ethiopia intensified that year, and I desired to enter into deeper community with my friends’ everyday realities. I lived in a government apartment, took public transportation, ate whatever I was served, and did what I could to live like the people around me.

But I wanted a more radical solidarity with the people I loved, so I decided to start drinking what they drank: tap water. After all, I wasn’t new to Addis, I was living by faith, and bottled water felt like a wasteful privilege that I should give up... Read More

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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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Sapiens: A Review

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Dear friends,

Yuval Harari has become a famous and influential thinker. His book Sapiens was praised by Barak Obama, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg, among others. Many continue to read it. This week, I take a look at this brilliant and dangerous history of humanity.

Special thanks to the subscribers who make this work possible!

Yours with gratitude,
Andrew

#####

Yuval Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (2014) is written as a wakeup call to human thoughtlessness in the form of an entrancing description of 70,000 years of human history. Harari is convinced that the “history of humankind” is packed with interesting and important stories that will shape – and also potentially lead to the annihilation of– our species’ mind-bending future. Harari’s book, then, serves as an example of the kind of rigorous thinking that he believes is urgently necessary: thinking that makes sense of the past, asks challenging questions of the present, and faces the future with clarity, creativity, and courage... Read More

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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 Bible’s Emotional Honesty

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Dear friends,

This week I look at the Bible’s raw emotional honesty. Perhaps like me, you have felt your own weakness or had experiences of anxiety, loss, and grief in recent days. When we look at the Bible, we find that none of this is foreign to real faith.

I hope this essay encourages you. I send it with prayers for grace and peace in your life.

Yours with gratitude,

Andrew

 

###

I am encouraged by the Bible’s raw emotional honesty.

The Bible doesn’t deny or suppress our experiences of convulsive emotion, when we feel dis-ease or torn apart. It doesn’t pretend that our life with God is simple, easy, or always stable.

Instead, the Bible expresses the full range of our internal upheaval. From the beginning, its characters wrestle with fear, anxiety, loneliness, sadness, grief, and depression.

Reading the Bible reminds us that we aren’t condemned or alone when we experience convulsive emotion. It invites us into a deeper honesty, vulnerability, and more radical trust in God, precisely in the depths of our emotional pain... Read More

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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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A Letter of Love to Ethiopian Ministers

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Dear friends,

In light of the assassinations and the attempted coup that happened in Ethiopia this weekend, I want to share an open letter I’ve been writing to Ethiopian pastors. Whether you’re in Ethiopia or another part of the world, I pray this letter encourages you to be a defender of human life and respect for all people. The image is of Ethiopian elders who got on their knees last year to plead for peace after terrible violence struck their community. Please join me in praying for peace, justice, and comfort in Ethiopia.

With love,
Andrew

###

Dear brothers and sisters,

Greetings in the love of Jesus Christ, our Prince of Peace.

Our beloved Ethiopia is facing a time of severe ethnic conflict. Around three million people have been driven from their homes. We have seen people killed in public by lynching, stoning, and burning. Rape, maiming, destruction of homes, and other atrocities are reported. This Saturday, Gen. Seare Mekonnen, chief of the military, and Dr... Read More

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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 Subtle Art of Giving Three F’s

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Dear friends,

I believe the first chapters of the Bible give us keys for overcoming some of the most destructive trends in contemporary culture. Thanks for stopping and thinking with me about what it means to human and seek a more flourishing life with others.

And special thanks to Andrew, the newest patron of Stop & Think. I’m deeply grateful for the 31 subscribers who make my writing possible.

Much love,

Andrew

###

For the last few weeks, I’ve been looking at the Bible’s earliest portraits of humanity. Who are we according to God’s original intent and our existential depths?

Genesis 1 introduces humans as the image-bearers of God. Genesis 2 describes humans as complex creatures with five interacting dimensions: the physical, spiritual, moral, vocational, and relational. And Genesis 3 depicts humans as now divided and disordered in these core dimensions of who we are.

If we embrace this biblical anthropology or way of understanding ourselves, what difference does it make in our relationships with others?.. Read More

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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

You Need to Know This

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Dear friends,

One of the greatest mysteries of our humanity is that we’re able to question ourselves: Who are we? Where do we come from? How can we flourish? Knowingly or not, we live out answers to these questions every day, for better or worse.

This week, I look at Genesis 3-4 and its responses to these vital questions. Rather than outdated mythology, the Bible’s earliest chapters offer us an inspiring and honest vision of human identity. I believe it’s key to our flourishing today.

Please receive this newsletter with my gratitude and prayers for God’s grace in your life,

Andrew

###

What does it mean to be human? Who are we in our depths?

Genesis 1-2: God’s Image and Complex Flourishing  

Genesis 1 answers that we’re made in God’s image (1:26-27). Religious objects in temples don’t embody God’s holy presence in the world. People do. And not just elite people like rules and priests with power over others. Each and every person, male and female, is made as a personal representative of God with all the dignity and responsibility of this sacred status... Read More

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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

Human Identity: The Complex Creature

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What does it mean to be human? Who are we when we’re truly alive?

The foundational chapter of the Bible dares to make a heretical statement: humans are the image of God. When we see one another correctly, we recognize that people are the embodiments of God’s presence in the world with a calling to creatively serve the world’s flourishing. Against a worldview that saw idols, kings, and priests as God’s image, Genesis 1 insists that each and every person – including women – carries this divine dignity and responsibility. No one is lesser or lower.

Imagine if we learned to see others through this ancient lens. Indifference, discrimination, and hatred would be replaced with attention, reverence, and love.

If Genesis 1 is the Bible’s big-picture vision of humanity as God’s image, Genesis 2 is the Bible’s in-depth vision of the core elements of our humanity. Genesis 2 is subtly saying, “Humans, this is who you are in the depths of your being... Read More

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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

Vision, Others, and Our Shared Future

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Source: I took this picture at the 2017 exhibit “Some Were Neighbors” at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

In my thirty-fifth year, my mind has been preoccupied with this simple but powerful idea: How we see others produces the society we see.

When we see others as cheap, foreign, and/or enemies, we produce a society of indifference, suspicion, and hatred. Patterns of poverty, conflict, and violence become inevitable. Bodies get dragged through the streets.

But when we see others as valuable, related, and neighbors, we produce a society where care, trust, and love are possible. Patterns of growth, cooperation, and peace become tangible.

How we see others is the fundamental issue for our future.

This applies from the individual to the national to the global levels. Our seeing shapes our attitudes, opinions, speech, and behavior. And these condense into what we call culture, economy, politics, and history.

If we see others as neighbors, we will treat them with kindness, respect, and care... Read More

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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

Human Identity: The Image of God

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What does it mean to be human? What is our core identity?

The way we see ourselves and others creates the world we see. Our basic vision of people shapes our attitudes and behaviors, and these end up structuring our relationships and societies.

From this perspective, the question of human identity is not a speculative fancy. It is immediately practical and deeply consequential for our lives, communities, and world.

The Bible introduced a rebellious vision of human identity that disrupted the assumptions of its cultural context.

Ancient mythology constructed culture-making, society-structuring answers to the question of human identity. For example, see the cover picture above, the influential Mesopotamian myth Enuma Elish (“When on High”) explained that humans were made from the blood of a murdered god. The hero god Marduk (pictured as a warrior) slaughtered his rival goddess Tiamat (pictured as a dragon), and this is where we begin. According to this civilization-shaping narrative, human life is rooted in violence. (It’s also worth noting the gendered nature of this violence.).. Read More

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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

Remembering Jean Vanier: The Tender Rebel We Need Today

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Dear friends,

On May 7, Jean Vanier passed away at the age of ninety. Many people have never heard of Vanier, but I believe he should be respected and celebrated like Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, and other iconic moral leaders who inspire and challenge us. Vanier shows us a fundamentally new way of being human that is so beautiful and healing.

I explore Jean Vanier’s life and thought in my video course Neighbor-Love, and I want to invite you to spend a few minutes learning about this beautiful man with me. “The Life and Love of Jean Vanier” (4 minutes) explores Vanier’s story and work. “Vanier’s Wisdom of Tenderness” (8 minutes) explores five of the core ideas that energized his vocation and defined his philosophy. Both videos are free.

Stop & Think this week is a lightly edited version of “Vanier’s Wisdom of Tenderness.” Look for the recommended reading list at the end. Thank God for Jean Vanier!

Yours with gratitude,

Andrew

 

What were the core ideas that inspired Jean Vanier’s work with l’Arche for the last half-century?.. Read More

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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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My Enemy Became My Healer

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Last week, I felt spiritually sick. Perhaps you know the feeling.

It was like my soul was nauseous, bent over, and invisibly heaving inside. My chest felt like it was caving in under the pressure of a sorrow, discouragement, and confusion whose source I couldn’t pinpoint. I told Lily that I felt like I was dying inside.

Then on Tuesday afternoon, I was scheduled to meet with someone that I thought hated me for the last two years.

This person had publicly attacked my character and tried to ruin my ministry, because I asked difficult questions and called for deeper Christian thought. This episode was extremely painful and consumed a lot of my time and energy. I felt like someone I didn’t even know was trying to assassinate God’s calling on my life after Lily and I had sold our things and risked our livelihood to serve in Ethiopia.

So, as 3:30pm approached on Tuesday, I thought about rescheduling the meeting... Read More

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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

Resurrection: What We Believe and Why It Matters

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Dear friends,

Melkam Fasika – Happy Easter! Yesterday we celebrated Christ’s resurrection in Ethiopia following the Orthodox tradition. This week I take a look at what Christians actually believe about the resurrection and why it matters for us today. I pray your week is full of fresh hope, peace, and joy.

Yours,
Andrew

Easter is the special holiday when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus after he was executed outside Jerusalem. What do Christians believe about the resurrection and why does it matter for us today?

What We Believe

Peter explained the meaning of Jesus’s resurrection to a crowd in Jerusalem soon after this extraordinary event: “You, with the help of wicked men, put Jesus to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him” (Acts 2:23-24).

The Christian belief in resurrection is threefold.

First, God miraculously raised Jesus from the dead – never to die again.

.. Read More
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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 End of Revenge: Easter’s Silent Miracle

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There is a silent miracle hidden in the story of Jesus’s death and resurrection. But I’ve never seen a preacher or commentator point it out.

As we know, Jesus was unjustly arrested, brutally tortured, and horrifically executed by the religious and political leaders of his society. The Roman invention of crucifixion was meant to maximize agony and anguish. Perhaps more painful than his physical suffering, Jesus died in betrayal, abandonment, and mockery.

That’s what Jesus got after “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16). That was Jesus’s reward for proclaiming good news to the poor, declaring freedom for prisoners, opening the eyes of the blind, and speaking God’s blessing (Luke 4:18-19).

It’s hard to imagine greater justification for righteous anger and brutal revenge. After all, Jesus was known as the “son of David.”

If we look at the end of King David’s story, bitter anger and brutal revenge is exactly what we find... Read More

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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

Jesus and Resistance to Injustice

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Dear friends,

It’s been moving to receive messages from abuse survivors in response to my essays on Jesus’s condemnation of abuse and Aquinas’s love-based defense of opposing injustice. Thank you for writing.

This week, my essay will be a bit longer as I dive deeper into this topic of loving our neighbors – enemies and the abused – as ourselves. I look at the ethics of resistance in Jesus’s teaching and practice.

Thanks as always for stopping and thinking with me on these important, very practical topics!

Yours,
Andrew

Thanks to our newest monthly supporter, Lindsay, and the 30 supporters who make this writing possible.

Introduction

Last week, I concluded my essay by asking if Jesus supported principled resistance to injustice.

This question arose from Thomas Aquinas’s argument that forcefully opposing an abuser can actually be an act of love. For Aquinas, when we stop injustice, (1) we love our victimized neighbors by protecting them; (2) we love our abusive neighbor by giving them the chance to repent and be restored; and (3) we love our abusive neighbor by preventing them from further damning themselves, even if they don’t repent... 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

Enemy-Love, Abuse, and Thomas Aquinas

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Two of my recent essays have pointed to a deep tension in Christian ethics rooted in Jesus’s own teaching.

The first essay – “How Should We Treat Our Enemies?” – unpacked Jesus’s groundbreaking command to love our enemies. Jesus taught this command so emphatically that he seems to require obeying it as a condition for salvation: “Love your enemies…that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45; Luke 6:35). As we know, Jesus himself died asking God to forgive his killers (Luke 23:34).

The second essay – “Jesus’s Condemnation of Abuse” – unpacked Jesus’s fierce teaching against abuse. Jesus was so severe that he said it would be better to die a terrifying death than to harm a vulnerable person (Matthew 18:6-9; Mark 9:42-50; Luke 17:1-5). Jesus had zero tolerance for abusive behavior.

If you only read my first essay, you might think that Jesus wants us to “love” our abusers and “sacrificially” accept their violence like he did on the cross... Read More

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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

Jesus’s Condemnation of Abuse

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Dear friends,

Two weeks ago, I asked the question, “How should we treat our enemies?” and unpacked Jesus’s unprecedented answer to this question. Jesus taught that we should love our enemies – not to intensify divine payback in the afterlife, not to prove our moral superiority over them, not even to convert them to our religion. Jesus taught that we should love our enemies and will their flourishing simply because this is God’s character and command for us. God is an enemy-lover, so we should be too.

But a reader replied and told me that she thought my essay was one-sided and potentially harmful in light of her experience of abuse. She wrote, “Sometimes I may love the enemy too much and lose my own health and ability to function… It would not be right to act maliciously against them. But I may have to say no to helping them further.”

I agree with her, and I think Jesus did too... Read More

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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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Do You Want to Go to Heaven When You Die?

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Do you want to go to heaven when you die?

That’s the urgent question many preachers ask us in church. In fact, it’s the climax of the show and how many churches measure their success. The assumption is that everyone wants to go to heaven when they die.

But what if that’s not true?

In fact, what if many Bible-reading, church-going, God-blessing Christians don’t want to go to heaven when they die? What if heaven will be hellish for a lot of us?

Stop and think: What is heaven?

According to the Bible, heaven will be the ultimate mashup party of the world’s diversity. Heaven will make the United Nations look homogenous by comparison.

Again and again, the Book of Revelation affirms that every kind of person will be there, united as one family in the self-sacrificing love of Jesus:

“persons from every tribe and language and people and nation” (5:9),

“[people] from every nation, tribe, people and language” (7:9),

“every nation, tribe, language and people” (14:6),

“all nations” (15:4)... 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

How Should We Treat Our Enemies?

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How Should We Treat Our Enemies? 

In recent weeks, our news feeds have filled afresh with hatred, conflict, and deadly violence. The horrific terror attacks in Christchurch, which killed 50 Muslims, captured global attention. But sadly this wasn’t the only heartbreaking headline.

In southern Ethiopia, a humanitarian disaster exploded in the wake of conflict between Christians from rival tribes. A senior Christian leader from the region told me in an email that many churches were burned to the ground and a million people driven from their homes. Much of this violence has been fueled by Christians who probably go to church on Sundays and declare, “Jesus is Lord.” The Guardian warns that a “shadow” is falling over Ethiopia.

These stories confront us with an urgent question: What should we do when others hate us and/or we hate them? How should we treat our enemies?

Jesus taught an unprecedented, counter-cultural answer to this life-and-death question. But his teaching is even more powerful when we see it in its larger historical context... 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

Eyob: My Saint of Darkness

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I discovered neighbor-love in all of its agony, urgency, and hope through a suffering boy on the streets of Addis. His name was Eyob (Amharic for Job), and it was Saturday – May 1, 2010.

The Agony of Neighbor-Love

Eyob met me at the best and worst of times in my life.

In the months before, I was gripped by the agonizing grief of suffering and evil. The church I loved and hoped to serve for the rest of my life had excluded me. Lily attended another congregation and wasn’t ready to “submit” to my church’s leadership, so my pastor told me, “Get another job!” and shunned me. It felt like an excruciating spiritual divorce.

During this time, I was unexpectedly asked to preach one Sunday at the International Lutheran Church. Little did I know, that sermon was my first interview. Their pastor had found Addis too hard and left abruptly. I preached on the armor of God (“All is not right in the world!”),.. 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

You Are Precious: The Girl Who Taught Me Neighbor-Love

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A disabled girl on the streets of Addis taught me the revolutionary power of neighbor-love.

When I was a pastor at Beza International Church in 2005, I started a simple practice that changed my life. Rather than taking a taxi to work, I committed to walking on foot. My purpose was to save my taxi money and buy bread-and-banana meals for the street children on Africa Avenue, the road through Addis’s downtown. I wanted to get to know these kids and not pass them by.

As I walked day after day, I met a little girl named Wudenesh, whose name means “You Are Precious.” Wude was always with her even smaller brother Yonas. She walked slowly with the assistance of a clanky cane and sold sticks of gum, tissues, and cigarettes from a cardboard tray. Wude’s legs were badly disabled and her back was deformed.

Seeing this vulnerable little girl working on the streets after dark broke my heart. She was younger and smaller than my beloved niece Kayla back home... 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

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

Announcing My Online Course: Neighbor-Love!

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Dear readers,

I’m excited to announce the launch of my first e-course called Neighbor-Love: A Revolutionary Idea That Could Save Our World. Click the link in the top right to learn more about the course! I am also including more background on why I believe this idea is so important below.

Special thanks to our newest monthly patron, Abigail!, and the 29 monthly subscribers who make my writing possible. We are almost at 30!

Yours,

Andrew

#####

Imagine putting on glasses that give you access to a totally new dimension of reality that changes the way you see everything else.

This is what neighbor-love was like in the ancient world. It was a revolutionary vision that transformed how people saw each other and unveiled a new, previously unimaginable world of dignity, generosity, justice, and hope for all people.

Even the most famous ancient philosophers believed that whole groups of people were less than human. Plato argued that disabled people, weak elders, and foreigners should either be excluded or eliminated... 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

Tributes to My Parents

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Dear friends,

Lily and I had the gift of celebrating my mom’s 73rd birthday (January 7) and my dad’s 75th birthday (February 9) in person this year. With each passing year, I cherish them more and more, and see the beauty of God in their character.

This week, I pause to honor them and share tributes that I wrote for their birthdays. I hope they encourage you to stop and give thanks for gifts in your own life. Happy birthday, Mom and Dad! Thanks for loving and leading me so well.

Lastly, on February 1, my friend Etsegenet Berhanu launched the Parenting Forum in Addis Ababa, a monthly event to help parents become more intentional in how they raise their children and thus shape the future. I’m excited for her groundbreaking work and offer these tributes as a grateful testimony to the power of parents who build homes founded on love in their own limited, lovely ways. Congratulations, Etsegenet!.. 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

Forgiveness: Jesus’s Radical Discovery

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The Discoverer of Forgiveness

Forgiveness sounds the depths of our humanity.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn famously wrote that the line between good and evil runs through each human heart. With similar insight, G.K. Chesterton stated that the only self-evident teaching of Christianity is that humans are morally flawed and in need of redemption. Amid the horrific evil of apartheid in South Africa, Desmond Tutu declared, “There is no future without forgiveness.”

Forgiveness is the radical act of releasing the other after they have done wrong. It’s undeserved moral generosity grounded in hope for the other’s freedom and flourishing.

Thus, to forgive is to declare that the other person is more important than their failure. We choose to hold onto them rather than the right to repay them for what they did.

As such, forgiveness is the power of new beginning. It unlocks the prison of the past and opens a fresh future. It miraculously interrupts the law of cause (wrongdoing) and effect (retribution) and introduces something completely new in history: grace... 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

Daily Bread: The Radical Dependence that Starves Anxiety

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How did Jesus – the founder of the largest movement in history – respond to our greatest questions?

Who is God?

How should we approach God?

What is our purpose for being alive in the world?

I love that Jesus doesn’t give us abstract answers. He gives us a spiritual practice to weave into the fabric of our consciousness in every context of life. He teaches us to lift our minds above our selves and talk with God.

Jesus starts his prayer by inviting us to address God as our loving and liberating Father. That’s who God is. He then challenges us to humbly name “Gxd’s” otherness and difference – God’s holiness. That’s how we should approach God. And he calls us to fix our hope on God’s upside-down kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven. That’s God’s endgame for humanity and history, what truly matters.

The fourth moment in Jesus’s prayer is comforting and practical. But it’s also challenging and counter-cultural... 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

Gillette and the Masculinity of Jesus

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Debate has been raging about the new Gillette ad and its revised – some say “effeminate” – vision of manhood. This week, I’m pausing my series on Jesus’s prayer to look at his masculinity.

Christians believe that Jesus is literally “the best a man can get.” The early church and orthodox Christians ever since have affirmed that Jesus was the “perfect Man.” Of course, Jesus came for everyone, including women. But Jesus was a man in a highly patriarchal society whose ministry unfolded in the prime of his manhood.

So what kind of man was Jesus, and what example does Jesus set for Christian masculinity today?

First, Jesus certainly wasn’t weak.

He spent a portion of his childhood as a political refugee in Egypt (Matthew 2:12-23) and was raised by a carpenter in a rural village in northern Palestine (Matthew 13:55).

He had incredible endurance and fasted forty days in the desert while being tempted by satan (Matthew 4:1-11).

He defiantly launched his ministry with the same words that got his cousin John arrested soon before and, not long after, beheaded (Matthew 3:1-2; 4:12-17)... 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

Kingdom: What Does God Want?

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Praying with Jesus  

Imagine if every time you pray, you actively remember that God loves you as his precious child. “Our Father” is the source of human worth and security.

Imagine if every time you pray, you actively remember that you don’t pray alone but with suffering sisters and brothers that God also loves and wants to liberate. “Our Father” is the source of divine empathy and solidarity.

Imagine if every time you pray, you actively stop and remember that God is more and other than you think, that God doesn’t fit into your box or rubberstamp your agenda. “Hallowed be your name” is the source of radical humility and openness.

I believe this is what Jesus is teaching us and forming into our character when we pray. It’s so simple but so powerful, especially if we begin each day by praying with Jesus. Jesus’s prayer touches on ultimate questions like “Who is God?” “Who are we?” and “How should we approach God?”.. 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

Hallowed: How Jesus Interrupts Our Religion

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Who is God? Last week, we saw that Jesus teaches us to begin praying by calling God “our Father in heaven.”

God is the compassionate Lover of all people and the just Liberator of the oppressed. Our Father says, “Let’s have a feast and celebrate!” when his rebellious son returns home and “Let my people go!” when Pharaoh enslaves his powerless children. This is the One who listens and responds when we pray. This is who God is: our Father.

But Jesus teaches us with our next breath to pray, “Hallowed” – holy – “be your name.”

I believe Jesus is saying something profound:

Call God “our Father.” That’s the beginning and bedrock. But don’t assume anything else about God. Stop right here and start over every time. God is different, and don’t forget it. Interrupt your prayer and acknowledge the radical otherness of God before you say another word.

I started college at Waubonsee Community College. My English instructor was a short, Jewish woman who loved to laugh and kept a bright green lizard perched on her shoulder as she lectured (no joke)... 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

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

The Ultimate Question: Who Is God?

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As we begin 2019, I have a fresh hunger to follow Jesus and to live a life radically open and obedient to the God Jesus reveals. I’ve found that praying with Jesus helps us to reimagine who God really is and what it means to be faithfully and fully human.

How did Jesus pray? How should we talk and listen to God today?

These are ultimate questions that interrogate who God is and how we should see and relate to God in our daily lives.

As we start a new year, I invite you to pray with me as I pray with Jesus, and let’s see how his prayer changes us and prepares us for the year ahead.

How Jesus Prayed

Jesus teaches his followers a surprisingly short and simple prayer. It’s only fifty-seven words in Greek, and you can say it in less than thirty seconds. Here it is:

Our Father in heaven,

Hallowed be your name.

Your Kingdom come, you will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

.. 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

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