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Writer for Olive Tree

Posts by Elizabeth

End-of-Summer Barbeque with Our Neighbors

Is it okay to say “end of summer” already? It’s always hard to tell.

Our next-door neighbors, a mission organization called Partners International, always host a barbeque at the end of August for the three companies in our building. This year Olive Tree was assigned to bring sides and salads and you might say that we “dressed” to impress. We brought pasta salad, potato salad, coleslaw, Caesar salad, green salad, fruit salad, and deviled eggs. What more could you ask for at a barbeque?

Here are some pictures from today’s festivities:

Olive Tree’s CEO, Stephen Johnson, looks on while a Partners employee flips burgers and hot dogs.

Olive Tree and Partners employees stand in a big circle getting ready to pray before the meal.

I told you there was LOTS of food, right? The table didn’t look quite so neat after we all came through.

Tell us about your favorite summer BBQs in the comments section. What’s a barbeque food you can’t live without?




The Importance of History

“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree. ”

-Michael Crichton

History was likely a subject you studied in school and either loved or hated. In high school, I had an awesome U.S. History teacher who had the class make up what kind of cars America’s Founding Fathers would have driven based on personality. Though history might be an obligatory study in school, there’s no doubt that history is important, even working its way into popular culture. When I asked my co-workers to think of movies based on history, I got a list a mile long, everything from Titanic to Braveheart. Even Hollywood recognizes the power and importance of history.

The question is: Do Christians recognize the value of our own history? John Piper, a longtime pastor, speaker, and author, gave 15 short lectures at multiple Desiring God pastors’ conferences about Christians whose lives exemplified the two Great Commandments.

I would encourage you to download this free resource, called the John Piper Biographies Collection, to read the fascinating histories of fifteen Christian men, from St. Augustine to John Newton, who served Jesus Christ in the midst of persecution, prosperity, widespread heresy, and shifting world powers.

My favorite character in John Piper’s collection is Charles Simeon, the pastor of a Cambridge, England church for 54 years in the late 1700 and early 1800s. Simeon was a vibrant evangelical pastor when Cambridge had little evangelical Christian influence and even some persecution.

Students and professors at Cambridge were hostile to Simeon for his vibrant Christian faith. They continuously disrupted church services and spread rumors about him. A professor at Cambridge even scheduled a Greek class on Sunday night specifically to prevent students from attending Simeon’s Sunday evening worship services. Even Simeon’s congregation was hostile to him at various intervals in his long ministry.

But this is where the true benefit of history comes to play. Simeon’s writings give us clues to how he endured a life of persecution and hostility and how we might follow his example. Simeon writes:

“Repentance is in every view so desirable, so necessary, so suited to honor God, that I seek that above all…Here I cannot err. . . . I am sure that whatever God may despise . . . He will not despise the broken and contrite heart.”

Simeon’s story is only the tip of the iceberg in Piper’s Biographies Collection and in the 2,000 years of Christian history in which countless men and women have followed Jesus boldly and loved people fearlessly. Don’t miss out on the wisdom and encouragement that history provides.


National Pride and the Gospel of Christ

Happy Independence Day to our American users!


For many American Christians, the Independence Day/Fourth of July holiday begs a question: “What is the relationship between patriotism and following Christ?”

This isn’t a question only American Christians ponder. There’s no doubt that God gives each individual a heritage and an ethnicity. Rooted in human nature is a rich sense of belonging to a particular place. Jesus himself took on flesh in a particular place, first in Bethlehem and then in Nazareth of Galilee. Luke writes “When [Joseph, Mary, and Jesus] finished everything required by God in the Law, they returned to Galilee and their own town, Nazareth” (Luke 2:39, Message).

Supporting one’s country with a healthy sense of national pride is in no way antithetical to the Gospel, unless patriotism becomes idolatrous. But our national pride takes its proper place when we, as Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote, let “Christ…take from us all inclination or power to boast of our national prestige. To me, it is prestige enough to be a Christian–to bear the cross Christ gives me to carry and to follow in the footsteps of the great Crossbearer.”

Even for those countries that enjoy extensive personal freedom—Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness in Thomas Jefferson’s 1776 Declaration of Independence language—there are always societal norms that are contrary to the Gospel. The greater freedom for Christians will always found in the knowledge and love of Christ.

As the Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3:17-18, “When God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation [Jewish law] is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God…and so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.”

Because, fellow Christians, where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.

Project Flying Eagle

There are always new things being discussed and planned at Olive Tree. Our newest and biggest project is what we’re calling by the code name the “Flying Eagle.” We’re not able to divulge any more details at present, but be assured that the talented and passionate Olive Tree staff is working hard to help you study God’s Word.

Here are some pictures from our company lunch today in which we discussed the details of Project Flying Eagle. As always, our lunch was delicious: sandwiches from a local sandwich shop, chips and salsa, fresh grapes, and soda (including the ever-present Mountain Dew that fuels many engineers!).

In line for food and drinks.

Candid photo!

Mark A. is excited to eat his sandwich!

Stephen J. giving a presentation to the team.

Olive Tree’s President, Drew, and his wife, Sarah.

Windows 8 Bible+ App!

With the release of Olive Tree’s newest Bible app with Microsoft’s Windows 8, we decided to interview our lead Windows 8 developer, Adam H, about the app’s new features.

Elizabeth B: What is exciting about this version of Bible+?

Adam H: With Windows 8, Microsoft is looking for a very fast and fluid experience. Our goal with this version of Bible+ is to leverage that design and have the whole experience of the app be fast, smooth, and engaging.

EB: What are your thoughts on the Windows 8 experience?

AH: I love it. Microsoft has done an incredible job of providing a cohesive experience through Windows 8, Windows Phone, and Xbox. On top of that, they’ve added features that make things work well and are fun to use.

EB: Can you give us an example?

AH: Sure! The Share Charm, which debuts with Windows 8, enables apps to connect not only to the Windows operating system but also to each other. For example, when I’m reading a Bible passage in Bible+, I can bring up the Share Charm and am presented with a list of other apps that interact with that verse, such as Facebook and Twitter. This Share Charm feature is entirely dependent on the apps that the individual user has installed on Windows 8, giving users a lot of flexibility in customizing their experience.

EB: What would you say are the top highlights of the app, Adam?

AH: A major highlight to me is the fast experience of the app. Reading, searching, the verse chooser…they’re all incredible. Searching is still unbelievably cool to me. It’s accessible from anywhere through the Search Charm, and provides an amazing scope of search results, from a broad view of your whole library to a detailed look at individual books. Within a Bible, results are grouped by each book, and can easily be filtered by section, like the Gospels or Prophets. On top of that, searching is fast.

EB: What distinguishes the Windows 8 Bible+ from Windows 7 BibleReader?

AH: The experience around our Windows 8 app is about beauty and simplicity with a focus on the reading experience and speed. We’re excited for the future features and development that we will add to the Bible+ Windows 8 app.

EB: What was the most enjoyable part for you of creating this new app for Windows 8?

AH: I think the most enjoyable part was seeing how Microsoft made it easy for developers to do what they wanted in order to provide the experience our users want. I’m really looking forward to seeing how all apps can leverage Windows 8 features to create an awesome user experience.

EB: Anything else you want to add, Adam?

AH:  I’m sure I have a tendency toward a starry-eyed view of this app, and not just because of my part in creating it. I genuinely feel that it’s a joy to use. My prayer is that it can help someone connect with God’s Word in a way they never have before.

Download the Windows 8 Release Preview here to check out the Windows 8 Bible app for yourself!

Bible Handbook: A Companion for Reading Plan

We’re a week into the Olive Tree Summer Bible Reading Plan, and we’ve been reading the stories of Adam and Eve, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and the striking account of the power of God in the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.

Baker Illustrated Bible HandbookThese stories remind us that our individual stories fit into God’s overarching plan of redemption. Our intention with the Reading Plan is to throw you headlong into the full biblical narrative. The authors of the Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook also want to bring your story in line with God’s story.

An excellent companion to the Olive Tree Bible Reading Plan, the Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook is split into three sections:

  1. The first section explores the Bible’s organization, explains the basics of each book of the Bible, and gives a cultural and historical framework for the Old and New Testaments.
  2. The second section deals with the inspiration of Scripture and the steps taken to bring Scripture into the form we know it today. Topics explored in this section include the New Testament canon, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Bible translation, and more.
  3. The third section of the Handbook addresses how we use and understand the Bible, including information about literary features in the Bible, archeology in the Bible, and issues of authorship.
Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook

Screenshot from Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook in BibleReader

There is something new for every student of Scripture. This invaluable resource will give you a broader and deeper understanding of the historical and cultural roots of God’s Word. At the same time, the Word of God transcends time and space in its message. Yesterday, today and forever, the Good News is that God in Christ “proclaim(s) good news to the poor…, liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).


Download the Olive Tree Summer Bible Reading Plan today for free here by logging into your Olive Tree account. After today, the Reading Plan will be sold for 99 cents.

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