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Writer for Olive Tree

Posts by Elizabeth

I Believe, Help My Unbelief!

Last week we heard about author Andrea Palpant Dilley’s struggles with faith and doubt that eventually led her to leave the church in her twenties. Through God’s grace and the faithfulness of friends and family, Andrea returned to the church and recognized that doubt has a place even and perhaps especially inside the walls of the church.

Today, Andrea gives insight into how individuals and churches can help those who doubt and explains how doubt has enriched her life. Catch the first part of the interview here.

I believe, Help my unbelief. Throughout the process of your leaving and returning to the church, what role did your family and close friends play? How can those with a close friend or family member struggling with doubt be helpful?

During my own faith crisis, people gave me space to pray that “prayer of unbelief.” My dad sat on the couch and talked with me about my doubts. College professors took me out to coffee. Friends listened to my questions without giving cheap, easy answers. They modeled the church at its best – a place of stark honesty and shared pilgrimage.

For those of you who have a close friend or family member struggling with doubt, here are a few thoughts:


  1. Spend time listening. Take their questions seriously. Pilgrim with them. Feel free to share your opposing views, but do so in a gracious, peaceful (rather than antagonistic) spirit. (more…)

Doubt and Faith: An Interview with Author Andrea Palpant Dilley

The great part about living in the town where I completed my undergraduate studies is that I get e-mails from the university about cultural and academic events. When I heard about the chance to sit again in the auditorium where I once learned about Aristotle and Descartes to listen to an author read from her new book Faith and Other Flat Tires: Searching for God on the Rough Road of Doubt, I jumped at the opportunity.

Author Andrea Palpant Dilley read several passages from her book that evening and answered audience questions in the same engaging, personable style that marks her book. Andrea’s book chronicles her struggles with doubt that led her to both leave and return to the church. I had a chance to ask Andrea questions about her journey of faith and how her experience can help churches and individuals lovingly guide fellow Christians who are also struggling with doubt.

NOTE: Check back on Tuesday, October 16 for Andrea’s advice to churches and Christian individuals about dealing with doubt.

Elizabeth: For those who haven’t read your book, give a little background to the narrative. What were the main questions you were asking of God and the other Christians around you?

Andrea: In the book, I tell a story about walking into an Episcopal cathedral in San Francisco one Sunday morning while I was in the middle of my faith crisis. I didn’t know a soul. I sat at the back of the church. When communion started, I went forward, knelt at the altar, took the sacrament, and then watched the priest stretch out his hand to bless me on my head. In that moment, I felt a strong sense of longing for God at the very same time that I felt frustrated with church and ambivalent about faith. I was struggling with a number of questions:


Crying Out to God

Image Credit: Funzu

At church, my pastor is preaching through a series of Bible passages that all have to do with roads, drawing an analogy to the life of Christian discipleship. So far we’ve learned about the journey of the Magi in Matthew 2 and the narrow gateway to God’s Kingdom in Matthew 7. Yesterday, my pastor preached about the blind beggar in Mark 10:46-52. Here’s the passage:

46“Then they reached Jericho, and as Jesus and his disciples left town, a large crowd followed him. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road. 47When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me!”

48“Be quiet!” many of the people yelled at him. (more…)

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Romans 8:1-2 (NKJV)

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

An Olive Tree Technophobe?

I am something of a technophobe.

I know what you’re thinking. Yes, I work at a Bible software company.

In the bubble of college two years ago, I was vaguely aware that technology existed, that some of my classmates were getting smartphones and that people actually used computers for something other than writing papers. But my mind was tied up with others things, i.e. what I was going to do after college with a Theology major and English minor.

A year and a half after graduating and 11 months after starting at Olive Tree, I purchased my first device: a brand-new Kindle Fire HD. The package arrived after work on a Monday afternoon. I saw the package on my dining room table and immediately regarded it with suspicion. What was I actually supposed to do with this thing? I sat on the couch and it sat next to me. I stared at it and it stared back.

I took the Fire to work the next day and called over my developer coworker, Ian. He couldn’t believe I hadn’t opened it yet and helped me set it up with a few quick swipes and taps. On my own, I downloaded Olive Tree’s app, found the icon in my carousel, and confidently tapped on it. I saw the green splash screen, and immediately got this message:

BibleReader has stopped working.


Renouncing Independence

A group of Olive Tree employees met this morning to pray for Olive Tree, our users, our industry partners, and the personal concerns of our employees. We started our time together by reading from Day 3 of Olive Tree’s 30-Day Devotional, which included a Scripture passage from John 15:7 and an excerpt from R.A. Torrey’s book How to Pray. Torrey writes:

“Now for us to abide in Christ is for us to bear the same relation to Him that the first sort of branches bear to the vine. To abide in Christ is to renounce any independent life of our own…and constantly to look to Him for the inflow of His life into us, and the outworking of His life through us. When we do this, and in so far as we do this, our prayers will obtain that which we seek from God.”

The renouncing of an independent life is true for Olive Tree as a business, but it’s also true for each individual who has devoted his or her life to Christ.

What might it look like for you to renounce your independence in favor of a Christ-governed life?

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