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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Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

How Should We Treat Our Enemies?

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How Should We Treat Our Enemies?

In recent weeks, our newsfeeds 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 is growing in the wake of conflict between Christians from rival tribes. A senior Christian leader from the region told me in an email that 135 churches have been 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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Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

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!”), and the church’s leadership asked me to become their interim pastor... Read More

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Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

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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Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

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

  • Share post

Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

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

  • Share post

Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

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

  • Share post

Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

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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Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

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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Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

Sign Up for the Newsletter


I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

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?” and Jesus gives profound, practical answers... Read More

  • Share post

Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

Sign Up for the Newsletter


I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.