Podcast: Compassion in Conflict

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Dear friends,

What is the role of compassion in conflict?

I’m excited to share my podcast interview on this topic with my courageous friend Emnet Gilbert.

Today many people condemn voices calling for compassion. For example, the popular Ethiopian singer Dishta Gina recently cried out for peace at a concert in Addis Ababa. His courageous message was immediately ridiculed, and he was pressured into giving a tearful apology on television. His sin was simply calling for reconciliation in a time of war.

This week I received yet another death threat for my advocacy for compassion and reconciliation. The man who threatened to “dismember” me has the following banner on his Facebook page: “I’m REDEEMED to be a VICTOR not a VICTIM in any circumstance. Praise the Lord, Jesus Christ!” This is a saddening example of how “Christian” faith can be weaponized to defend violence and death.

In this hyper-polarized time, I deeply admire Emnet’s courage to explore these three challenging questions with me:

  1. What does compassion with practical consequences look like in the midst of war?
.. 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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Prayer: Premeditating Peace

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Dear friends,

November 4th marked the first anniversary of Ethiopia’s devastating civil war. It also brought the answer to a prayer I’ve been praying for the last fourteen years.

This collision of intense grief and long-awaited joy reminded me of the great importance of sustained prayer. This practice has changed my life, and I hope you’ll consider making it part of yours.

It’s a bit like taking a wild leap of faith, twirling through the air, and learning to land on your feet.

How do you pray about people you don’t like? And how are you preparing for conflict or peace in your society?

I believe these two questions are intimately connected and have profoundly practical implications for our lives. Let me try to show you why.

Psalms against the Enemy

If you read straight through the Book of Psalms, it is striking to track how frequently the psalmist talks to God about his enemies.

Out of 150 psalms, “enemies” are mentioned 93 times, “foes” 40 times, and “the wicked” 104 times... 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

Two Prostitutes and the Heart of True Justice

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Dear friends,

One of the Bible’s ugliest stories is also one of its most insightful.

The famous King Solomon had recently been installed as the ruler of Israel. Soon after, God spoke to him at night in a dream and invited Solomon, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you” (1 King 3:5).

What an astonishing blank-check offer: “whatever you want.” How would this new ruler respond, and what would it reveal about his deepest desires?

Solomon’s heart was humble, and he admitted to God that he was out of his depth. Rather than asking God for wealth or power or the death of his enemies, Solomon asked God for wisdom. He prayed, “I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties… So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong” (1 Kings 3:7-9).

Solomon’s honest prayer is surprising for an ancient ruler and perhaps counter-cultural for all of us still today: he admits to being small, not knowing what he’s doing, and needing God’s help in the very basics of human community... 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
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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

BitterSweet: I Feel Like a Dancer

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Dear friends,

I’m a massive fan of BitterSweetMonthly. This storytelling platform (and more) was founded by my relentless, brilliant friend Kate Schmidgall to “reject cynicism, defy apathy, and celebrate good.” Those three movements are such a challenging, beautiful way of being human. And it’s how Kate lives and what BitterSweet nurtures through its moving stories and beautiful images.

I was deeply honored when Kate asked me to write for BitterSweet, and my first story was recently published. It’s entitled “I Feel Like a Dancer,” and it’s about a truly extraordinary organization called StandProud in the Congo. StandProud is helping disabled youth walk, often for the first time in their lives.

I hope you enjoy the story, subscribe to BitterSweet, and consider supporting StandProud. Writing this story rocked and recentered me. Next time you put your shoes on and stand up, give thanks for this precious gift and remember our beloved neighbors in Congo and around the world who are working to restore the dignity, joy, and power of our disabled neighbors... 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

9/11, Jihad, and Hope

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Dear friends,

As we remember the 20th anniversary of 9/11, I want to share a story about Jihad. This is not a story about global terrorism, religious extremism, and death. It’s a story about a devout Muslim, neighbor-love, and hope.

A few years after 9/11, I was living in a neighborhood in Addis Ababa known as Little Mogadishu. The neighborhood got its name from the numerous Somali refugees who had fled there from the violence ravaging Somalia. My neighbors carried stories of terror and trauma similar to survivors of 9/11.

At the heart of Little Mogadishu is a bustling open-air market. Throughout this labyrinth, you can find vegetables, electronics, fashion clothes, international money transfers, khat, and pretty much everything in between. So one day I ducked inside a tiny shop to buy a pair of shoes.

As so often, I was carrying my laptop with me. My entire professional life was inside that computer, and I foolishly took it with me everywhere I went... 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

What’s Your Story?

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Dear friends,

What’s your story?

Many ancient cultures told stories about our world that begin with violence. The gods were envious and angry. So they fought each other, killed each other, and we were made from the bloody aftermath as their servants.

The world that emerged was a mirror of this original conflict: kings, soldiers, and slaves competing and cowering in a struggle for status and survival. Priests enshrined the winner gods in temples and images throughout the land to remind people of where they came from and how the world works.

These stories were the bestsellers in their time. Strikingly, archaeologists have discovered versions of them in places as far afield as ancient Mesopotamia, Greece, and South America.

Why were these stories so popular?

Perhaps their popularity makes sense in light of the headline news stories we tell today. In these stories, the great events, the events that supposedly change our world and grip our attention, are often driven by competition and conflict, violence and victory... 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

God’s Love Makes Us Family

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Dear friends,

For the last month, Lily and I have enjoyed the special gift of hosting Lily’s sister Eleni and her beloved children Naomi (12), Nolawi (11), and Naodi (4) from Ethiopia in Illinois. We have shared a wonderful adventure of playing, learning, and serving together in a time of much-needed renewal.

This week, five of our families gathered at my parents’ house for a farewell celebration. After all of the yummy desserts were eaten, conversations were finished, and games were played, I opened my phone and looked at the picture I had taken. There was nothing surprising in the image — not even the mischievous bunny ears and mirthful faces 🙂

But what I saw deeply moved me. It struck me as a living icon of what is possible in our world through God’s love: a family bound together across so many of the differences that contemporary culture says should divide us:

We were born and raised as citizens in different nations — Ethiopia, Mexico, and the United States... 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

Human: Neither Gods Nor Demons

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Dear friends,

The Christian imagination invites us to recover a more complex vision of who we are as humans. This moral vision energizes us to better understand ourselves and to cultivate healthier relationships and public life. Its “complexity” means that it braids together seemingly opposite truths that reflect the actual state of our reality and cultivate wisdom for living together. My late PhD adviser Professor Jean Elshtain called this a “moral anthropology.”

On the one hand, human life is infinitely precious and worthy of cherishing. We know this when we hold a baby in our arms and look deeply into the faces of our loved ones.

Christians, Jews, Muslims, and many others agree that we are created and loved by God. Genesis 1 teaches that we were designed in God’s image and invested with divine value. This means that God created each person as an embodiment of God’s own dignity with a calling to care for God’s world.

This vision of humanity stands in marked contrast to ancient myths like Enuma Elish and contemporary ideologies that devalue human life... 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

Paul’s Riot Gear

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Dear Friends,

Paul writes from his prison cell in Rome to the Jesus community in Ephesus that we are at war. Paul’s intense language makes sense in light of the violent conflict he survived in Ephesus and our similar experiences of conflict today.

Paul was one of the pioneers who took the message of Jesus to Ephesus, perhaps the most famous city in the Roman Empire besides Rome itself. After just three months, Paul was painfully rejected at the local synagogue. So Paul started hosting conversations and healing the sick in public spaces around the city (Acts 19:8-12). For Paul, the message of Jesus wasn’t confined to religious gatherings; it belonged just as much in the street among strangers and the suffering.

The core of Paul’s message was metanoia: a call to a change of mind and practice in response to Jesus (Acts 20:21). Local sorcerers were so inspired by Paul’s ministry that they voluntarily burned the magical tools of their trade, which were worth massive amounts of money (Acts 19:17-20)... 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 on the War in Ethiopia

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Dear friends,

This week I’m sharing a one-hour interview that I recently recorded about the war in northern Ethiopia. If you’d like to better understand what’s happening, the larger context to the conflict, and how you might respond, I hope this conversation is helpful. Special thanks to Zach Elliott for inviting me back to LAB: The Podcast for this important conversation.

Please join me in praying and advocating for a sustained ceasefire, unhindered humanitarian aid for the suffering, and a dialogue-based resolution to this devastating conflict.

Yours,

Andrew

 

.. Read More

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

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

Neighbor-Love: The Course

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

View Course

Being Loved and Known

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Dear friends,

A friend recently put words to something that struck me as both obvious and like an important revelation: being loved and being known are two different things and two different needs in our lives. We may have one without the other.

We need to be loved because we need to experience that our lives have value. Human beings are not content with merely existing, just like plants can’t survive in the soil without water and sunlight. Love enlivens and illuminates our worth.

But we also need to be known, because our lives have inner depth and we feel lonely and less than ourselves when this depth is unexplored or treated like it doesn’t exist. Being known is like cultivating the soil of the self. It enriches the depth and density of who we are, and creates a sense of rootedness in relationship.

People in our lives may genuinely love us. They may smile and embrace us, say kind words to us, spend time with us, give gifts to us, go out of their way for us and generously help us when we’re in need... 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

Lily’s Love: The Mystical Heart of Marriage

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Dear friends,

In this essay, I’m sharing an intimate page of my heart with you. My focus is the love of my wife Lily and the mystical heart of marriage rooted in the revelation, “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in them” (1 John 4:18).

Hannah Arendt wrote that thanking is the most authentic form of thinking, and I want to pause to express my deep thanks for Lily’s sacred ministry in my life. I hope you’ll receive this reflection as a prayer of blessing over your treasured relationships and an invitation to deepen your love and thanksgiving with the ones you cherish.

 

Lily’s Love: The Mystical Heart of Marriage

Lily made my 38th birthday perfect in the beautiful way she does. She made me feel loved, seen, heard, like I belong.

After Lily’s delicious brunch with family, my heart was still secretly heavy. Lily invited me to sit on the couch and read her card... 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

A Lament for a Land Beloved

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Dear friends,

Not long ago, I sat in a memory-saturated room in Addis and heard the most remarkable questions from some of the people I love most in this world. We had just celebrated the wedding of a beloved friend, but these were the considerations on people’s minds:

“What if the violence escalates and we don’t have a country anymore?” “What if we can’t escape to safety?” “What if we can escape but our families can’t? If violent mobs come to our neighborhoods again, will we pick up sticks, stones, and metal pipes to defend our neighbors? If this is what we need to do to survive, is life still worth living?”

As I listened and my heart bled, I wondered if these were the questions people were asking in Rwanda before the genocide exploded in 1994. What a horrific thought. It was the kind of conversation I never want anyone to hear but consider sacred because it was the honesty of my friends in a land I love... 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

A Prayer for Enemies

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Dear Friends,

I’ve just finished teaching a 4-week Zoom course called “Love Your Enemy.” In the face of rising conflict here in Ethiopia, I decided to devote a month to studying what some of our greatest leaders have taught about loving people who hate us and want to harm us. We looked at Jesus, Howard Thurman, Martin Luther King Jr, and Arthur Brooks.

Wonderful participants joined the course from four continents and eight countries: Ethiopia, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, South Africa, the United States, Sweden, Finland, and the Philippines. As we studied together, we found that praying for our enemies is one of the most consistent and powerful practices of love that these leaders taught. Prayer interrupts and can uproot the enmity we feel toward others as we talk to God for their wellbeing.

Still, students asked what a prayer for enemies might actually say and sound like. In response, I’ve written a prayer for enemies that I want to share with you... Read More

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Donation = Appreciation

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

Sign Up for the Newsletter


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

Neighbor-Love: The Course

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

View Course

On Death Threats

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Dear Friends,

Melkam Fasika — Happy Ethiopian Easter! This season has taken on a new significance for me, and I want to share a very personal reflection with you as we meditate on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

On Good Friday 2020, I started receiving dozens of death threats. People sent me graphic images of death, demons, and heavy weapons. They said they would butcher my body, run me over with a car, or throw me off a bridge. I can feel my heart beating faster and my body becoming tense as I recall these violent words and images. It was a life-changing season.

Why did this happen? Powerful people were outraged that I was trying to build bridges between extremely polarized leaders, and they unleashed a campaign of fake news against me, including a lie-filled YouTube “documentary” that got 55,000 views. Soon enough, people who mostly identified as Christians started promising they would kill me.

I never thought I’d say this... 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 Neighbor-Love Week for National Reconciliation

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Dear friends,

This week I’m sharing an article that I recently published with my partner Dr. Tekalign Nega on the website Ethiopia Insight. Our article invites Ethiopia’s religious leaders and communities to devote a week to praying and preaching about loving our neighbors in a time when almost every day seems to bring news of another massacre. Please join us in praying for and promoting this reconciling initiative. If you or your community would like to get involved, please email me.

Yours with gratitude,

Andrew

 

The Neighbor-Love Week for National Reconciliation

Ethiopia is an overwhelmingly religious country. The Pew Research Center found that ninety-eight percent of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Christians say that their religion is “very important” to them. This makes them among the most religious people in the world.

There is little reason to assume that Ethiopian Muslims, Evangelicals, Catholics, and followers of other faiths see their religion as less important to them. Taken together, over ninety-seven percent of Ethiopia’s population holds its religious texts, traditions, and teachers with very high authority... 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

10 Reflections on Evangelical Support for the War in Tigray

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Dear friends,

This essay reflects on some Ethiopian Evangelical responses to the war that broke out in Ethiopia on November 4, 2020. My reflections will be uncontroversial to some, controversial to others, and unfamiliar to others. For more context, here is a 15-minute interview that I did with my friend Roger Sandberg for Christianity Today.

As usual, I want to thank you for stopping and thinking with me. My goal is to pause and seek greater honesty, compassion, and human wellbeing across boundaries, while acknowledging the complexity of the situation and limits of my perspective. I welcome your feedback.

Yours with prayers for peace for all,

Andrew

Some Ethiopian Evangelical scholars have published articles on the war in Tigray. Implicitly or explicitly, these articles defend the war. I’d like to offer some brief reflections in response.

1. One article expresses sorrow for the suffering the war has caused. I deeply appreciate this compassionate starting point. (Another skips this expression of sorrow.).. 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

For Matt (1982-2001): Love, Grief, and Hope after 20 Years

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Dear friends,

Today marks 20 years since my best friend Matt Powers was killed in a car accident. Matt was only eighteen; I was seventeen.

I love and miss Matt. He was a person of infectious joy. His smile was so genuine and his mirthful laughter — I can still hear it dancing through the air today. Matt was a fierce competitor, and he was working hard to become a personal trainer. But Matt was extremely kind and made others feel included. He loved God and loved his neighbor and loved me. We did everything together — sleepovers, birthdays, sports, road trips, music, church, life.

Today, if you’re grieving, I want to say you’re not alone. Maybe your grief started recently. Or maybe it started decades ago. You do not need to deny or suppress your grief.

In 2019, I was at a therapist’s office at the University of Chicago talking about Matt and weeping. Through my tears, I asked Dr... 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

My Identity Crisis, My Liberation

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Dear friends,

 

Two thousand and nine to 2019 was a decade of losing my self. It was the beginning of an unexpected and priceless spiritual liberation. I am still on this journey today.

 

Deep inside my life, I have found a need to be better than others. I’d like to see this as innocent, as me simply wanting to work hard, be my best, and do valuable things. But I think there are deeper and darker roots to my perfectionism. It comes down to me feeling better about myself if I feel better than others — trying harder, doing more, perhaps being more “faithful.”

 

As I look back on the last decade of my life, I’m seeing that God sent me on an extended identity crisis that is slowly deconstructing this need to be better than others. And this is enabling me to be with and for others as equals with new empathy and intimacy. Unexpectedly, my identity crisis is leading to my liberation... 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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How Do We Not Hate? 12 Lessons From a Man of Courage

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Dear friends,

 

How do you not hate, even after three of your precious daughters have been murdered?

 

This is the burning question at the heart of Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish’s powerful book I Shall Not Hate. Dr. Izzeldin is a Palestinian doctor who was born and raised in Gaza’s Jabalia refugee camp after his family fled from Israel in 1948. He tirelessly served between the Gaza Strip and Israel as the first Palestinian doctor to work in an Israeli hospital, overcoming extraordinary challenges and humiliations.

 

Then in December 2008, Israel unleashed a devastating 23-day military campaign on the Gaza Strip. Dr. Izzeldin writes, “I felt a colossal, choking fear for my children, a level of terror I had never experienced before” (169). And then it happened: his daughters Bessan (20), Mayar (15), and Aya (14) were killed when an Israeli tank fired into their bedroom in the Jabalia refugee camp.

 

How was Dr. Izzeldin not consumed with hate and a desire for revenge?.. 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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Jesus’ Emotional Intelligence

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Dear friends,

The emotional intelligence of Jesus inspires me to live differently.

At the beginning of his movement, Jesus overhears a guy named Nathaniel talking about him. Someone told Nathaniel that Jesus was the Messiah, but Nathaniel doesn’t buy it. In fact, Nathaniel takes a stab at Jesus: “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46).

Nathaniel was basically saying that Jesus was either a loser or a troublemaker if he was from Nazareth. Nobody expected good things from that rural town. We’re all too familiar with these kinds of generalizing, belittling attitudes today based on something about our identity. They’re often at the root of the isolation and conflict between us.

How does Jesus respond to Nathaniel’s insult?

Two responses were predictable. First, Jesus could have  been offended and insulted Nathaniel back: “Where are you from? You’re the real loser!” Or, second, Jesus could have defended himself and started a debate with Nathaniel: “You’re wrong: Nazareth is actually a great town!”.. 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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Celebrity Christians Leaders Need to Be Retired: Reflections on Ravi Zacharias

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Dear Friends,

 

Ravi Zacharias was a world-famous Christian speaker and writer. He wrote many books and had a huge global ministry. When he died last year, my social media was flooded with his pictures, quotes, and testimonies about how he changed people’s lives for Christ. It was like a Protestant saint had been canonized.

 

Since then, it has been revealed that Zacharias sexually abused many women in the United States and other countries. He had hundreds of female massage therapists’ numbers in his phone, which he used for extramarital sex. He had hundreds of images of women, including pornographic images, in his phone, which he actively requested from women. At least one woman has claimed that Zacharias raped her. He embezzled tens of thousands of dollars from his ministry to sustain and silence these relationships.

 

It turns out that Ravi Zacharias was a deeply broken, corrupted, harmful man, even as he was a beloved celebrity Christian leader.

 

These six observations come to mind... 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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Becoming Un-Insult-Able

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Dear friends,

 

I’ve become fascinated by the psychology of insults. Over the years, if I kept a list of the insults I’ve been called, it would be long and sometimes entertaining. I’ve been called most of the ethnic insults in Ethiopia, KKK, a pimp, a dangerous liberal, etc. Whenever I write about something even remotely controversial, I can expect to be insulted by someone — often someone with a sweet slogan on their platform like “Shine a candle in the darkness.”

 

Why do people use insults?

 

Insults are colorful, undigested ways of saying, “I’m angry” or “I hate you” or “I’m superior to you” or “I’m afraid of you.” They’re attempts to express negative emotion and intimidate and belittle the other person into believing they’re less — less than “us,” less than human, less than whatever is supposed to be the standard.

 

So why not just say, “I hate you” instead of “You’re a piece of sh*t” or “F*ck your mother”?.. 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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10 Pillars of Christian Nationalism

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Dear friends,

 

In my last Stop & Think, I made seven observations about how Christian nationalism has become such a powerful force in Evangelical Christianity around the world. This week, I’d like to look very briefly at ten pillars of Christian nationalism itself.

 

As always, this essay is an invitation to stop and think — not necessarily to think like me. But I’ll suggest that each of these ten pillars should be carefully analyzed and fiercely opposed by followers of Jesus. The reason is because each pillar harbors a deep dishonesty that creates (1) blindness toward ourselves, (2) broken relationships with others, and (3) a blasphemous pride toward God.

 

Rejecting Christian nationalism is one of the most exciting and challenging opportunities for Christian conversion and witness around the world today. When we abandon these pillars, an idolatrous temple can fall and a new freedom for God’s presence opens up between us. Humility is strength not weakness.

 

Yours with gratitude,

Andrew

 

10 Pillars of Christian Nationalism

 

  1. Innocence: 

 

“We are good people, and our history is glorious... 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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Christian Nationalism: 7 Observations on How We Got Here

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Dear friends,

How did we get here? How has Christian nationalism become such a powerful
force, fusing Christian symbols, nationalistic identity, and a cult of personality
around a political leader?

Here are seven brief observations based on my Evangelical upbringing.

1. None of the Evangelical churches I attended in my formative years ever
spoke about political injustice and violence except abortion. Sin was personal
and private (for example, smoking, drinking, cursing) and rarely, if ever, public
and systemic (for example, greed, poverty, hate, racial prejudice, unjust
warfare). Christians on Sunday mornings were left unpracticed in the analysis
of contemporary public life, despite the common slogan of “understanding the
times” (1 Chronicles 12:32).

2. Political holidays always drew the loudest applause and most emotional
response from the congregation, and this was never addressed. The cross
and American flag sat side by side on the stage, fueling the fusion of these
symbols. Saying “God bless America” and playing the national anthem in
church were never questioned... 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 Time for Vigilance and Resistance

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Dear friends,

 

Stop & Think this week offers a response to the historic siege of the United States Capitol Building on January 6 by pro-Trump rioters. I look at disturbing parallels between Nazi Germany and contemporary Trumpist America based on my PhD research on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Some of my readers may disagree with my analysis, but I ask you to read with openness of heart and honesty of mind.

 

Thank you for stopping and thinking with me,

Andrew

 

 

A Time for Vigilance and Resistance: Disturbing Trends in Nazi Germany and Trumpist America 

 

I’ve studied every surviving word of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) — all of his journals, letters, sermons, lectures, and books. What I’m seeing in America today increasingly reminds me of the rise of Nazism in Bonhoeffer’s Germany. Like Bonhoeffer, followers of Jesus should pay vigilant attention and fiercely oppose these dangerous trends.

  1. We see increasingly apocalyptic political rhetoric like “Save America!” 

The rally where Trump spoke and incited violence minutes before the Capitol siege on January 6 was titled “Save America!”.. 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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Humble Defiance, Radical Hope: Gratitude in 2020

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Dear friends,

As we begin a new year, I’m practicing gratitude as an act of humble defiance and radical hope in the face of the many evils and sorrows that 2020 brought. Dietrich Bonhoeffer called gratitude “a profoundly transforming power,” “the Yes from which all [life] springs.”

Here’s a list of 20 reasons why I’m giving thanks for 2020 amid the grief we carry. I invite you to start 2021 with your own act of humble defiance and radical hope.

Yours with love,

Andrew

 

 

  1. Mom’s Health: My mom had a stroke scare hours before we returned to Addis on January 14. It was an ominous start to 2020, but mom fully recovered and has been healthy since.

  1. The IFF Board: The board of the Institute for Faith and Flourishing (formerly ICCG) provides invaluable leadership, friendship, accountability, and generosity as we serve Ethiopia. Thank you, James, Liz, Joe, Steve, and Lily!

  1. West African Pastors: Lily and I taught a Christian Ethics course for 50 West African pastors in Abidjan, Ivory Coast in January.
.. 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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Christmas in 2020

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Dear friends,

2020 has been an extremely difficult year.

The coronavirus pandemic has taken around 1.67 million lives. Some of my dearest friends have lost their parents to the disease. Perhaps you or people you know have lost loved ones. We have all felt the ache of ambient stress, lost rhythms, loneliness, vulnerability, and uncertainty. The whole world has labored under the heaviness of loss and grief, and we carry this in our bodies.

The United States has seen high-profile police killings of Black Americans (George Floyd among others), nationwide protests, and a rancorous presidential election. The integrity of our democratic values and institutions is being severely questioned. Ethiopia has had high-profile assassinations, horrifying massacres, and a heart-wrenching war. Some 50,000 people have become refugees and 2.3 million children face hunger among other crises.

Polarization has become a feature of our daily lives across the world. It seems that more and more people not only disagree with each other but see each other as enemies locked in existential conflict... 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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Podcast: Bonhoeffer, Nationalism, and New Beginnings

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Dear friends,

On Saturday, a rally called the “Election Jericho March” was held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. This nearly 5-hour event shamelessly fused Christian identity, American nationalism, and a cult of personality around Donald Trump. (It’s one thing to support some of Trump’s policies. It’s another to give unquestioning allegiance to Trump as a leader.)

The “Jericho March” was MC’ed by Eric Metaxas, the author of the famous biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Early in, Metaxas told the crowd that if they saw a helicopter that wasn’t Trump’s Marine One, “get your bazooka out and shoot it down.” The “joke” would have seemed more fitting at a Taliban rally, but the crowd erupted with cheers. Later on, another speaker said that Trump should invoke the Insurrection Act to stay in office; if he didn’t, they would start “a bloody war.” Again, the crowd went wild, and Metaxas kept saying, “Praise the Lord!” Another speaker urged the crowd to threaten local leaders that they will “burn it down!”.. 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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And Yet: An Untold Christmas Story

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Dear friends,

 

Welcome to Advent.

 

Advent is the season when people around the world focus their attention on

the astonishing mystery of God being born as a powerless baby. After 2000

years, we might think that every inch of the Christmas story has been

explored. But there’s an extraordinary twist in Matthew’s version that is

repeatedly overlooked. Perhaps its radical mercy is too counter-cultural for us.

 

Take a fresh look with me this Advent.

 

“Faithful to the Law”

Joseph was engaged to be married to a young woman named Mary. He was
a devout Jew from the royal line of King David. In fact, Matthew explicitly tells
us that Joseph was “faithful to the Law” (Matthew 1:19). With this important
detail, Matthew wants us to know that Joseph was actively obedient to the
Hebrew Scriptures or Old Testament.

But a devastating problem reveals itself.

Joseph’s fiancée Mary was “found to be pregnant,” and Joseph knew that he
and Mary had not had sex (1:18).

.. 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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Abide in My Love

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Dear friends,

 
This week I’m sharing an article that’s forthcoming in the journal Ecumenical Trends 49.6. I’m grateful for the editor’s kindness to allow me to share this article with you. I hope it encourages you in this time of increasing polarization, conflict, and violence. 
 
As the military conflict increases in Ethiopia, kindly read, sign, and share the Neighbor-Love Movement’s Joint Declaration for Human Value and Nonviolence in Ethiopia. 
 
Yours,
Andrew 

 

 

Abide in My Love: How Jesus Teaches Us to Respond to Polarization, Conflict, and Violence

When the editors of Ecumenical Trends invited me to write this essay, I was receiving dozens of death threats. My initiative in Ethiopia called the Neighbor-Love Movement works to promote seeing others as precious neighbors across polarized identities, and some people were not happy about the bridges we were attempting to build. Sadly, many of the most hateful threats came from neighbors who claimed a Christian identity.

As I prayed, I asked Jesus if he had a word he wanted to speak to my wife and me as we journeyed through that disturbing season.

.. 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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Joint Declaration for Human Value and Nonviolence in Ethiopia

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Dear friends,

Beloved Ethiopia stands on the brink of civil war. The United States Institute of Peace writes that war in Ethiopia “would be the largest state collapse in modern history” and “would overshadow the existing conflicts in South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen.”

In response to the escalating conflict in Ethiopia, the Neighbor-Love Movement has published a Joint Declaration for Human Value and Nonviolence in Ethiopia. Our Declaration is available in English, Amharic, Afaan Oromoo, and Tigrigna. It calls upon Christians, Muslims, and all people of good will to defend human dignity and condemn violence in Ethiopia.

As you read the English version below, would you please pray for peace in Ethiopia and add your voice by signing our Joint Declaration? It has already been signed by over one hundred Ethiopian leaders, many holding senior positions in Ethiopia’s religious and civic life. We would be grateful for your solidarity and support in this critical moment.

May peace prevail and human life flourish in Ethiopia!.. 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 Election of Everyday Life

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America’s 2020 presidential election is dominating attention at home and around the world. Millions of Americans have already cast their votes, and many more will vote before Tuesday is over.

Some commentators have called this the most significant American election since the Civil War. The candidates have spent a record-smashing $6.6 billion on their campaigns in hopes of victory.

“Election” comes from the Latin word eligere, which simply means to “pick out” or “choose.” A democratic election is the process of citizens selecting people to represent them in government for a limited term. More broadly, an election is the process of citizens deciding what matters most to them as a society.

In this election season, I have felt politically homeless, and I’ve heard the same from many others. As a Christian and ethicist, no party or candidate adequately represents my beliefs and values. Voting one way or another felt like honoring some of my convictions while betraying others. As I stood in line to cast my ballot, I couldn’t help reflecting on the fact that this election is structured by access to massive money, exclusive connections, and tribalistic loyalty in the pursuit of power... 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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Trump, Ethiopia, and Intercultural Leadership

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Dear friends,

In Stop & Think today, I’m discussing President Donald Trump’s remarks about Ethiopia’s hydroelectric dam during a recent phone call with the Prime Ministers of Israel and Sudan. You can watch the call here and read a BBC article with helpful context here.

You may be unfamiliar with this situation, but I believe President Trump’s handling of it has both local and global importance. Ethiopia has called it an “incitement of war.”

Trump’s conversation about Ethiopia was only three minutes long. But it was a microcosm of much of his communication. As always, his words have reverberated across the world, and, as often, they carry serious implications for hundreds of millions of people. The tone, posture, and content of his statement touch on fundamental issues of intercultural leadership and how to work — or not work — toward peaceful societies where people can not only survive but thrive.

To provide some context about why I care so much about this particular conversation, let me begin with a word about my journey in Ethiopia... 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 Not Conform

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Dear Friends,

As an ethics professor, I’ve had the privilege of teaching many excellent students in America, Ethiopia, Germany, and West Africa. Through the years, some of these students have become dear friends. And I’ve observed that these exemplary people often share several overlapping qualities.

They read rigorously. They think deeply. They ask hard questions. They discuss thoughtfully. They pray earnestly. They travel widely. They cherish friendship. They serve others sincerely.

At root, these are all practices of self-transcendence, of looking beyond oneself and exposing oneself to new ideas, places, people, and God.

And yet, over the years, I’ve watched these exemplary people come to  different conclusions on faith, morality, and politics. Sometimes they come to radically different conclusions — whether they be more “conservative” or more “liberal,” more similar to how they were raised or more dissimilar. Some of these divergences happen in the same family or between close friends.

Observing my students grow has taught me a priceless lesson in radical humility, radical patience, radical nonviolence, radical 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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How Do Political Injury and Healing Begin?

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Dear friends,

 

This week I’m delighted to share my interview on ideological and political healing with the Ask a Spiritual Director Podcast. We explore questions of how ideological and political injuries begin, how these wounds can heal, and what we can do to be part of this healing.

 

This topic is so timely in Ethiopia, America, and many other contexts, and I’m grateful to the hosts of this exciting podcast for inviting me to discuss it with them.

 

As always, thanks for stopping and thinking with me.

 

Yours,

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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“Cuties”: What Are Our Bodies Worth?

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Dear friends,

This week I’m writing about the controversial movie Cuties.

Some its content is graphic, disturbing, and sickening. But like a war movie that studies the realities of human violence to cry out for peace, this film is asking essential, inescapable questions about our increasingly sexualized, Internet-driven, interconnected world, especially as it affects children. Wrestling with these heavy questions can help us cultivate healthier children, families, and cultures.

It seems to me that some of the controversy surrounding this film is driven by the misleading way Netflix advertised it, which appears to celebrate the sexualization of little girls, when this is the evil this film is investigating and lamenting. My interest is in the actual movie and its subtle message.

Perhaps another outraging aspect about this movie is not only its depiction of how our cultures sexually abuse children but its refusal to satisfy our culture’s hunger for simplistic answers, whether they be “religious” or “secular,” “traditional” or “progressive,” “conservative” or “liberal.”.. 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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Prayer: Premeditating Peace

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Dear friends,

 

Stop and think with me about two questions that may initially appear unrelated but have huge practical importance.

 

First, how do you pray about your enemies?

 

Second, how are you preparing for conflict or peace in your society?

 

Psalms against the Enemy

 

I recently reread the Book of Psalms, and I was struck by how frequently the psalmist talks to God about his enemies.

 

Out of 150 psalms, “enemies” are mentioned 93 times, “foes” 40 times, and “the wicked” 104 times. Interestingly, the enemy is one of the central topics — or targets — of this book of prayers. David meditates on his enemies seemingly all the time when he talks to God.

 

But what really struck me is the content of these prayers. David never prays for his enemies to be changed or healed. That’s not on his mind or in his desires. He also never prays for them to be forgiven or experience mercy, even as David famously confesses his own failures and begs God for mercy (see Psalm 51)... 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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Why Marriage is Radical

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Dear friends,

This weekend, I had the incredible privilege of marrying two very dear friends: Jenna Herskind and Tyler Heath. My sermon articulates why I believe marriage matters for our world today, and I wanted to share it with you.

Deep love and congratulations to Jenna and Tyler!
Andrew

Why Marriage Is Radical

Two thousand years ago, history changed forever. A revolution of self-giving love began in the heart of the human condition that opened the way to everlasting life. And I believe this ancient revolution shows us God’s design for holy marriage still today.

In occupied Bethlehem, under the shadow of a violent empire, Jesus was born to poor parents, Joseph and Mary. Before Jesus was born, his passionate mother sang a prophetic song about how her son would turn things upside down, bringing good news to the poor, hungry, and powerless.

And Mary was right. When he was just a little older than Tyler and Jenna, Jesus began preaching and embodying God’s love and justice for the poor, oppressed, and powerless... 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

Patient Waiting, Hopeful Missing

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Life is training me in patient waiting and hopeful missing.

Due to the pandemic, my mom and I haven’t done any of our treasured walks this summer. But after three months, we both felt comfortable doing this with masks, and we explored the prairie path together on Saturday.

image1.jpeg

As we walked, mom talked about things she misses after seven years of being a stroke survivor: cooking, gardening, aerobics, riding horses, going for walks without a wheelchair or cane. Our conversations often return to this place of missing and longing for restoration.

I think there’s something spiritually profound about our missing. We don’t simply move on and forget the blessings of life. We miss them, carry them in our memory, and yearn for them to be restored, even after many years and no sign of their restoration.

I see the ache of missing as a rebellious clue of hope. What we miss will be restored, but not often quickly and not always in this life... 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

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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

Stories That Mean the World to Me: Podcast Episode

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Dear friends,

Last week I had the privilege of doing a podcast interview with Zach Elliot about the Neighbor-Love Movement. Our conversation covers what the Neighbor-Love Movement is, why we started it, and how you can be part of it. I tell some of the stories that mean the world to me, and I’m excited for you to hear them straight from my heart.

You can listen either at www.zachjelliott.com/podcast or LAB: The Podcast on Apple Podcasts.

Yours with gratitude,

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

Radical Generosity

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Last Sunday was an extremely special milestone in my journey. It was my brother Joe’s 50th birthday and a reminder of the life-changing power of generosity.

In high school, I became very passionate for God. This passion translated into a passion for study. I started reading the Bible intensely and teaching myself Greek and Hebrew. I discovered books by Bonhoeffer and other authors who profoundly influenced my sense of calling. This came as a surprise to me, because I wasn’t a reader as a child.

A new dream was born in my heart: to attend Wheaton College. Wheaton was the best Christian university in America and the school where some of my heroes had graduated.

There was only one problem, or really three: I didn’t have any money, my parents hadn’t saved for my college education, and Wheaton was very expensive. I knew that God had called me to a life of service for others, and thus taking out heavy student loans didn’t make any sense... 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

Humbling Belief

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Dear friends,

Christian belief is a gym for radical humility. At its best, faith stretches our capacity for complexity, charity, and careful listening in a time of polarization and culture war.

Consider some pillar beliefs of the Christian faith.

God is Trinity or three-in-one. But Christians have had endless debates about what this means and how the divine persons relate, remaining distinct “persons” but not three different “gods.” Some Christians have condemned other Christians over differences of Trinitarian opinion and vocabulary. But who could claim to dissect the inner nature of God?

Jesus is the Incarnation of God, the God-human. But Christians have had endless debates over what this means and how the two (“natures”? “persons”? “hypostases”?) relate without destroying each other. Whole Christian churches and cultures have divided over this question, all certain they are right and the other wrong.

The bread and cup are the ultimate meal Jesus gave to every Christian. But do they “become” Jesus? “Represent” Jesus?.. 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 Face of God

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A friend recently asked me why I feel alive making peace and building bridges
between people.

His question caught me off guard and made me stop and think.

I believe every person is a precious diamond made and loved by God. The Bible
teaches that every person is an embodied reflection of their Creator (Genesis 1:26). To
see a person aright is to catch a glimpse of God.

But if there’s a wall between us, we can’t see that precious value.

When the walls come down and a bridge is built, we have the chance to move closer
and see one another’s profound beauty and complexity. Perhaps we even experience
the joyous shock of loving someone we were tempted to hate or of learning from
someone we thought was totally wrong.

My most poignant experiences of God have happened on these bridges, in these shaky
in-between places of peacemaking with others.

These moments always remind me of Jacob’s astonishing words after he saw a vision
of a bridge connecting heaven and earth: “God is in this place, and I didn’t know it”
(Genesis 28:10)... 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

Complexity: Our Opportunity and Challenge

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Dear friends,

Complexity is one of humanity’s greatest challenges and opportunities today.

Complexity comes from two Latin roots: com– meaning “with” and plectere meaning “to weave” or “braid.” Something complex is woven or braided together with multiple parts. Complexity isn’t simplistic or monolithic, which literally means “one rock.” Complexity involves multiplicity, which requires being able to recognize distinctions, interconnections, and ambiguities (having two or more interpretations).

Trees are complex: they have many different parts (roots, trunk, branches, leafs, fruit), many different textures (rock-hard, rough, soft, smooth), many different colors (brown, green, yellow, red), many different functions (oxygenation, habitat, shade, fruit, wood, art), and none of it can be seen, experienced, or understood all at once.

Lily and I experienced America’s complexity a few weeks ago.

One of our favorite traditions when we come home away from home — home is complex! — is having breakfast at Big Rock Cafe. The food is delicious and abundant. The restaurant is nestled in a picturesque neighborhood in the beautiful countryside of Illinois.

.. 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

Ten Years of Marriage: The Gift of Difference

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Dear friends,

Lily and I got married ten years ago on July 8. It was the happiest day of my life, and that day has grown in happiness ever since — a ten-year-long day.

I love Lily far more today than I did, or even knew I could, ten years ago. How profoundly love deepens, expands, and changes us. Lily is the love of my life, my heart, my gift from heaven.

In our marriage, we have discovered how love binds us together in the beauty of our differences and makes us richer than we could ever be alone.

Lily and I were born citizens of different countries, Ethiopia and America.

We were born with different skin colors in different bodies, brown and white.

We grew up speaking different mother tongues, Amharic and English.

We were raised in different religious traditions and cultures, Orthodox and Evangelical.

We have different professional interests, the arts and ethics.

Lily and I are wildly different in so many ways... 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

Interview with Hachalu Hundessa: “Injustice Cannot Create Justice”

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Dear friends,

This is an especially joyful and heartbreaking week for Lily and me.

On Wednesday, we will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary and God’s faithfulness to deepen our love across this last decade. Lily is God’s most precious gift in my life, and I cherish these ten years of marriage with her. Thank you for your friendship and support!

Meanwhile, last Monday night, the famous Oromo singer and activist Hachalu Hundessa was murdered in Addis Ababa. In the protests after his death, at least 166 Ethiopians have been killed, including Hachalu’s uncle, and prominent public figures have been jailed. There is a growing sense of fear, anger, and potential for further violence in the community. Rumors of civil war and ethnic cleansing have returned to Ethiopia.

For my response to the current crisis, please listen to my interview published today with Emnet Tegafaw on her podcast Under the Olive Tree. The English interview begins at minute 5:00.

I had the privilege of interviewing Hachalu on April 19, 2019 in Addis Ababa, and I believe his words carry enormous moral clarity and power for this heartbreaking moment in Ethiopia and around the world... 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 Common Good: An Identity of Hope

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When you are more, am I less?

When you are stronger, am I weaker?

When you flourish, do I become poorer?

Around the world today, we see that our identities have become competitive and conflictual. We construct our identities by defining (1) who we’re against, (2) how we’re superior, and (3) the struggle for dominance. This is identity by negation and a recipe for war.

The irony is that these apparently “strong” identities are actually weak. They are rooted in fear, poverty, and envy.

What I cherish about neighbor-love and the common good is that they energize positive, mutually enriching identities of hope.

When you are more, I am more.

When you are stronger, I am stronger.

When you flourish, I am enriched.

Loving my neighbor as my self means wishing for them what I wish for my self – love, justice, and flourishing. Here our good becomes common, something shared and mutually strengthening.

True identity is not a zero-sum game or a struggle for domination... 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

“I Can’t Breathe”: The Spirituality and Politics of Breath

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In the Bible, breathing is sacred. Respiration is an act of experiencing God. God exhales and we come alive as divine oxygen fills our bodies. The Book of Numbers calls God “the God who gives breath” (Numbers 16:22; 27:16).

This sacred vision of breath is found throughout the Bible.

Genesis pictures our creation as a flow of breath from God into our bodies: “Then the Lord God formed a human from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the human became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).

The suffering Job affirms this respiratory spirituality: “Life within me [is] the breath of God in my nostrils… The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 27:3; 33:4).

The prophet Isaiah imbeds our breath within its cosmic context: “The Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it…gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it” (Isaiah 42:5).

.. 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