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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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.

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

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

Sapiens: A Review

Uncategorized

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

  • 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.

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

  • 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.