Archive for year 2013
By Todd Shaffer, Creative Director of Glorious Films and The Promise: Birth of the Messiah, the Animated Musical
Olive Tree has long been my digital Bible of choice. It’s simple to use, beautiful to look at, and provides a depth of research that rivals any other digital resource available. Being a writer and director I’m always on the go, squeezing in research wherever I can, using many different devices and platforms: PC, Android, iOS and Kindle. Olive Tree has all my devices covered, and on each device all of my resources are available, including notes and highlights which sync across all devices.
While writing the lyrics to the songs of my next film, ‘The Prodigal’, I’m delving heavily into the Old Testament to find metaphors, images and spiritual concepts that follow the spiritual journey of the younger son as he illustrates the crisis and redemption themes of the Jewish nation. Olive Tree allows me to search certain expressions and words, and from there the cross references and footnotes broaden the scope of my search to passages that were not on my radar. I’ve not found any need to jump to another Bible study tool. It’s all here in Olive Tree.
One thing I love the most about Olive Tree is that it is beautiful. The fonts, type-spacing and color schemes invite you to dwell on the text, and this is one of the most overlooked tests of any Bible Reader. I study slowly, and I spend a lot of time reading and rereading the same passage, reflecting on the text and it’s context. Most readers are utilitarian in style and design, but Olive Tree has put a premium on aesthetics, and as an artist and lover of God’s Word, this is something I value. In the battle of the digital Bible study tools, Olive Tree delivers a 5 star performance.
Watch the trailer of The Promise HERE!
Find out more about Glorious Films.
As the year 2013 comes to a close I find myself running from holiday party to Christmas shopping, to more holiday parties, with barely a moment to spare. Besides the busyness of the season, one of the reasons I don’t have much extra time could have something to do with the upcoming adoption of my son which has definitely turned my world upside down – in a good way. In a season that is usually very focused on ourselves, my wife and I have found our perspective radically changed. To put it mildly, my focus has shifted. It has shifted from me to my new son. To a life focused on self to a life…well, a little less-focused on self (I still have a long way to go before I’m entirely selfless).
As a Christian one phrase I’ve often heard said during this time of the year is “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Christmas is a time to remember and celebrate his birth, a birth that would ultimately lead to the most important and selfless act, as Jesus later willingly gives his life. The challenge we face in our consumer driven society today is to actually keep the real meaning of Christmas at the center of our celebration. This is always difficult for me as I can get so focused on buying stuff and giving my family ideas of what to buy for me that I lose sight of what this the season is supposed to be reminding me of.
It’s no coincidence that two areas that are the biggest focus this time of year- gifts and relationships- are also the same ones that can cause people to dread the Christmas season the most. While gift giving will always be a main focus of the season, there are many people in our community that barely have enough money to buy food, let alone presents, for their kids. For them Christmas can be a time where the overwhelming commercialism serves as a constant reminder of their shortcomings.
Many amazing people and organizations in our community reach out during this time of the year to make Christmas special and help meet the needs of those in our community – selflessly giving and taking the time to serve those who have fallen on hard times. Because of their effort we also have an opportunity to partner with them. Whether it’s donating a gift or just dropping spare change in a bucket, your selfless act of giving has the potential to bring light and hope to someone’s life this year.
The second area that can be a struggle this time of year is in our relationships. For many of us this is a time of reuniting with family and friends and enjoying the blessing of the relationships that we have. Unfortunately this time of year also brings to the surface the pain of relationships that have been lost. Whether because of death, estrangement, or other circumstances – intense loneliness and even mourning is often a byproduct of the Christmas season. Our ability to fill the relational void in people’s lives requires more intentional individual action than simply donating a gift or money. Giving of ourselves and our time can be a far more sacrificial act. It may mean inviting someone to a family gathering that isn’t family, sharing a meal, or just listening to and acknowledging the challenges and hurts of life. I often find the hardest part of my life to be selfless with is my time. But giving time can be a gift far more valuable than a wrapped present.
As the hands and feet of Jesus, let’s take the time this season to let the universal message of Christ’s love speak through the commercialism and self-centeredness of our society. Imagine what this season could like if we did?
What do you really know about Christmas?
We’re influenced by our culture more than we realize. While the Christmas story is one we’ve heard for years, there’s a good chance that our knowledge of those events that happened 2,000 years ago are more influenced by our culture than the Bible.
How well do you know the Christmas story? Take this short video quiz and find out.
Thanks to all who had fun with us and submitted a picture! We didn’t want to keep them to ourselves so we now present to you the Bearded Theologians of Olive Tree.
As a thanks to all who participated we’ve put The C.H. Spurgeon Collection on sale for this week.
Go here to find out more!