Lily: This Is a Love Story

Essays

Dear friends,

Tomorrow is Lily’s birthday, and I want to celebrate her infinitely precious life by sharing part of our love story with you. Thanks for sharing my joy; I hope our love story reenergizes yours.

In 2007, I made an unusual choice that changed my life: I dropped out of my M.A. program at the University of Chicago. I missed Ethiopia deeply, and I felt called to move back there for the third time. So I consulted with my mentors, met with Dean Owens, and did it.

On the way, I attended a thrilling philosophy seminar at the University of Paris taught by Professor Jean-Luc Marion. The seminar was thrilling to me for three reasons. First, Professor Marion was one of the most respected philosophers in the world and someone I deeply admired. Second, I was the only MA student accepted into this exclusive PhD seminar. And, third, it was Paris – with a course focused on selfhood and the meaning of 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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Many Many Colors: The Ethical Vision of James Baldwin

Essays

Dear friends,

Thank you very much for voting on the cover options for my new book Flourishing on the Edge of Faith. 66% of you had a clear preference 🙂 I’m excited for the final cover to be revealed and the pre-order link to go public in the coming weeks.

Stop & Think this week is significantly longer and heftier than usual, but I’m thrilled to share this essay with you, and I hope you wade through it.

Last week marked a special milestone in my life and ongoing education: I finally finished studying all 850 pages of James Baldwin’s Collected Essays (New York: Library of America, 1998).

 

 

I highly recommend this volume. But if you don’t have time to read through it yourself,  I hope my essay helpfully distills Baldwin’s powerful ethical vision and highlights some of his most luminous lines. You don’t want to miss him.

If you don’t have time to read the full essay, explore a few of the highlighted quotes below... 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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Help Me Pick My New Book’s Cover!

Essays

Dear friends,

Your opinion matters to me. Flourishing on the Edge of Faith is coming out in November, and I’d be thrilled if you’d help me choose its cover 🙂

Obi Okolo, BitterSweet’s brilliant designer, has given us some beautiful options. Click here and let me know your favorite! The poll takes less than thirty seconds and closes after the first 100 submissions, so hurry and let your voice be heard!

I can’t wait to share this book with you. Thanks for weighing in!

Yours with gratitude and anticipation,

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.

View Course
BitterSweet Books

A Prayer to Heal War

Essays

Dear friends,

Last week, I chatted with one of the most prominent politicians in Ethiopia. I asked him, “If you could use only three words to describe where Ethiopia is heading, what would they be?”

His answer was extremely sobering. He replied, “Syria on steroids.”

The day after Ethiopia’s civil war erupted in November 2020, the U.S. Institute of Peace published this statement: “The fragmentation of Ethiopia would be the largest state collapse in modern history… would lead to mass interethnic and interreligious conflict… would overshadow any existing conflict in the region, including Yemen.”

At the time, defenders of the war ridiculed this statement as nonsense designed to defame Ethiopia. They insisted that the war wasn’t even a “war” and that this surgical “law enforcement operation” would end quickly and secure Ethiopia’s “prosperity.”

But almost two years later, the bitter truth has become undeniable: this war is mass-producing human suffering and super-charging hate. It has only led to catastrophic displacement, death, destruction, and famine... 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
BitterSweet Books

A New Beginning: BitterSweet Books

Essays

Dear Friends,

On Friday morning, I opened an email that sent a river of grateful joy flowing through me.

The email was titled “Something New from BitterSweet,” and its message announced the launch of BitterSweet Books, with yours truly as its first author.

Kate Schmidgall founded BitterSweet in 2009 with the mission of telling stories from around the world that Reject Cynicism, Defy Apathy, and Celebrate Good. In the face of a news cycle that glues us to spectacle, violence, and despair, Kate wanted to help us cultivate an alternative imagination for our lives and world.

For over a decade now, Kate and her BitterSweet team have been pursuing this intrepid, prophetic mission with exceptional excellence, elegance, and kindness. From the beginning, I’ve thought of BitterSweet’s work as a healing vision therapy. Their stories shift who we pay attention to, how we see people, and what we believe is possible for our world. Kate has now published over a hundred stories featuring the work of nonprofits that celebrate good in seemingly every 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

Interview with Stan Grant

Essays

Dear friends,

I hope you’re having a refreshing summer.

Stop & Think has taken a pause as I’ve been on a wonderful 40-day journey throughout Europe. After a nasty bout of Covid and a breathtaking hike in the Alps, two joyous weddings, three book recording sessions, five countries, seven reunions, and countless conversations, I’m home. Thank you to so many dear friends for your generous hospitality.

This week I’m sharing my recent interview with Stan Grant on his Religion and Ethics Report for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Grant is one of Australia’s leading journalists and has interviewed many inspiring moral leaders and philosophers, including Nelson Mandela and Charles Taylor.

I was humbled that Grant asked to interview me about my article in Foreign Policy on Christian nationalism in Ethiopia. Our interview is titled “How Religion and Violence Are Shaping Ethiopia Today,” and you can listen to it here.

I hope this brief conversation enriches your awareness of what’s happening in Ethiopia and how we can practice the ethic of neighbor-love in this challenging time... 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

My Article in Foreign Policy: “Christian Nationalism Is Tearing Ethiopia Apart”

Essays

Dear friends,

On June 18th, Foreign Policy published my article “Christian Nationalism Is Tearing Ethiopia Apart.” Publishing this article brought a collision of gratitude and grief in my life.

 

On the one hand, I was deeply grateful, because I believe this article compellingly addresses an urgently important but untouchable problem in Ethiopian society: Christian nationalism. I have been inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King’s words, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” And so I chose to break the silence.

Foreign Policy is one of the largest and most respected platforms in the world. Publishing with FP gave my article the best possible chance of being read widely and taken seriously. FP generously published it on the top of their front page, and a week later, my article was still trending on FP’s top seven list. The article has been shared thousands of times on social media and is generating lots of conversation... 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

Peniel: The Gift of Lily

Essays

Dear friends,

Warm greetings from southern Maine.

Lily is my Peniel, the Face of God in human form, and I want to tell you a story about why I see her this way.

Last year on October 6, I took a walk down the street I love most in the world. Hills Beach Road is a quiet lane on a tiny peninsula in southern Maine. It juts out into the Atlantic Ocean with stunning view on either side. The air is fragrant with pine trees, beach roses, lilac bushes, seaweed, and ocean salt. The sounds you hear are gentle waves, lovely birdsong, and the friendly greeting of neighbors. Every inch for me is suffused with sacred memories from my childhood. (The picture below is from a walk with my mom on Hills Beach Road in 2019.)

On my walk last October, I made my way to some rocks overlooking the bay and a beautiful island. The waves lapping at my feet set a peaceful rhythm, and I hit “call.”.. 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

Podcast: How Do We Love Our Enemies?

Essays

Dear friends,

Warm greetings from beautiful Maine! Lily and I are here to celebrate my 39th birthday (May 28) and our 12th wedding anniversary (July 8). I’m so grateful for Lily’s relentless love since the first day we met. She’s my teacher, healer, and gift from heaven.

This week I’m sharing a live conversation about loving our enemies that I recently recorded with Telos Group. Telos is a peacemaking organization that has profoundly impacted my life. I deeply respect their work and am so honored that they invited me to join this conversation. I heartily encourage you to learn more about Telos and participate in their work.

Telos said they were “blown away” by this conversation, and I hope you enjoy it. To listen, please click here.

Happy (early) anniversary, Lily!

Andrew

 

.. 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

Recording My First Audio Book and Befriending My Body

Essays

Dear friends,

I was in D.C. last week recording the audiobook of Why Pray? Seven Practices for Flourishing on the Edge of Faith (updated title). This is an intense and time-consuming process, and I want to thank my producer Robert Winship and the entire BitterSweet team for their energizing excellence.

I believe our bodies are good and that we should befriend them. Paul wrote the beautiful question, “Don’t you know your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?” (1 Corinthians 6:17). Ancient spirituality often taught people to ignore or idolize their bodies. Paul calls us to embrace our bodies as sacred homes to be cherished and cared for. I’m with Paul.  

But recording Why Pray? has given me a new window into how my body is still catching up with my belief. As I read my own book into the microphone, I discovered how little I know about my tongue, teeth, and lips. I talk every day and have recorded many hours of content... 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

Pregnancy: The Creative Process / On Writing

Essays

Dear friends,

I’m delighted to share that my new book Practice Flourishing: The Spirituality of Jesus is nearly finished being revised. I’ve just presented it to my board at the Institute for Faith and Flourishing, and my submission deadline for the final manuscript is May 15. My publisher BitterSweet Foundation hopes the book will be released in paperback, audiobook, and digital by mid-October. If you’d like to sign up for updates on the book’s release, please click here.

To mark this moment, I’ve written an essay about my experience writing this book. I’m excited to share it with you and want to thank you for your prayer, encouragement, and investment in my work.

 

Pregnancy: The Creative Process / On Writing

As a man, I would never claim to know what pregnancy is really like. But my sisters and many of my dearest friends have shared their experiences of pregnancy with me. I have watched their pregnancies unfold and witnessed the new life soon after delivery... 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

Groaning: Love in Pain

Essays

Dear friends,

I love firsts, and this one is extra special: Lily and I are collaborating on Stop & Think with a brief essay from me and a brilliant painting from her.

Our shared theme is “groaning,” an experience that becomes increasingly familiar to us amidst pandemic, war, and other forms of conflict and loss. Lily’s painting is entitled Loss and Hope (March 2022). It’s a profound reflection on Ethiopian motherhood with many subtle meanings layered within it. Special thanks to Lily for sharing her sacred gift with me and the world.

Our work was published in this month’s edition of Cultivare, an exceptionally rich online magazine edited by my spiritual director Dr. Duane Grobman. I warmly encourage you to subscribe to Cultivare (it’s free) and read the entire edition. I hope you find it as illuminating and encouraging as I have. Special thanks to Duane for inviting our work!

Yours with groaning and gratitude,

Andrew and Lily

 

Loss and Hope by Lily DeCort

 

Groaning: Love in Pain​

My world shook, and I began to groan... 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

The Ethics of Harry Potter

Essays

Dear friends,

I recently finished reading the Harry Potter series, which was published between 1997 and 2007. My late PhD adviser Jean Elshtain always spoke so highly of these seven books, and now I know why.

In this essay, I want to share with you some of what I’ve discovered in the Potter universe. Perhaps these reflections will stir up treasured memories for you, or spur you on to read the series for the first time, or simply enrich your own moral imagination. Spoiler alert: I discuss a lot of plot details and endings below. If you want to jump around, I bold the key topics and characters.

For starters, these books deserve to be the best-selling story in history, which they are with over 500 million copies in print. They’re fundamentally about ethics — about good and evil, love and power, loss and resurrection. They speak to the human longing for goodness, joy, and togetherness despite evil, hate, and murder... 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

Celebrate Right and Good

Essays

Dear friends,

A few weeks ago, I met an extremely kind woman at the airport. She looked at my hat and read it out loud: “Celebrate right and good.” She then said with feeling, “That’s exactly what we need today!” I told her that’s the motto of BitterSweet, the publisher of my new book, and she generously asked me to tell her about it.

I told her it’s called Practice Flourishing, and she immediately said that she loved the title and wanted to buy it. When I told her the subtitle — The Spirituality of Jesus — she responded, “You lost me there. I’m a good Jewish girl. But I’ll buy it for my Christian friend.”

I replied, “I hear you: Christians have done terrible things to Jews for centuries. But Jesus was a good Jewish boy, and the book is for everyone.” But I could tell she had made up her mind and wasn’t interested.

She continued by saying that humans have never managed to “celebrate right and good” throughout history... 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

Fresh Powder

Essays

Dear friends,

Why has Stop & Think taken a break?

For the last month, I’ve been focusing exclusively on writing my new book Practice Flourishing: The Spirituality of JesusIt’s almost done, and I’m so excited to share it with you straight from my heart.

I’m also overjoyed to announce that Practice Flourishing now has an exceptional publisher in Kate Schmidgall and her innovative BitterSweet Media House based in Washington, D.C. Kate combines world-class professionalism with incredible kindness and prophetic values. Paul writes from prison that God is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” I feel this intensely with Kate and BitterSweet as we prepare to publish Practice Flourishing. Look for updates in the coming months!

Kate, thank you!!! Our conversation blew me away.

This week, I’m excited to share my short article “Protest: Love’s Primal Vocation,” which was just published on Offensis, an online magazine in Germany focused on Christian faith and political praxis... 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

My New Year’s Resolution

Essays

Dear friends,

As we enter a new year, I want to share a simple but healing practice with you for our relationships. It comes from Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize Laureate in Literature. Wiesel said,

“Never allow anyone to be humiliated in your presence.”

We all know what humiliation feels like. It literally means to be reduced to dirt (humus). Whether through a look, a word, an action, or a structure, humiliation makes us feel smaller, belittled, ground down and degraded. When we humiliate, we treat people as if they’re worth less, if not altogether worthless. And that means that we treat them like they’re no longer made and loved by God — no longer our neighbors in creation.

I offer three simple observations on humiliation:

First, few things are more painful and destructive than humiliation. We instinctively recognize and recoil against it, because each of us has a God-given need to be seen as valuable.

.. 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