Lent is the time of year when we clean out the cobwebs of our spiritual lives, a spiritual “spring cleaning,” if you will. And just as we likely don’t enjoy this season of self-denial and discipline (as I certainly don’t enjoy spring cleaning), it’s a necessary task in the Christian life. It’s similar with Good Friday. If we mean good in the sense of pleasant or cheerful, Good Friday is anything but good. Rather, Good Friday is a day of grief, of sorrow, of darkness. Before joy comes sorrow. Before light comes darkness. Before new life comes death. Before resurrection comes crucifixion.
Coupled with the Good News of the Gospel is bad news about the human condition. As Paul writes in Romans, “There is no one righteous, not even one…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Humanity has gone astray and the only way to redeem this incredible wrong is for God himself, in human flesh, to take on humanity’s brokenness in suffering and death.
To sit in the Good Friday service or to read through the Passion accounts in the Gospels is not particularly enjoyable either. We are left to sit in darkness when Christ dies on the cross, pondering our part in Jesus’ death by our own sinfulness. It is with this realization that the cleaning of our spiritual lives begins, with an acknowledgement that the cleaning is necessary. It is Christ who cleans; Christ sweeps away our pride and washes away our sin. “’Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’” Though the full spring cleaning, top to bottom, will come with Easter when Christ settles sin and death for good, we begin with the crucifixion.
And in doing so, we get our first glimpse of Easter.
“[Jesus said,] ‘Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples– when they see the love you have for each other.’”
Mandatum. The Latin word for “command” is at the root of Maundy Thursday, the night in which Jesus issues the command to his disciples to love one another. In 1 Corinthians 11:24-26, Paul quotes Jesus’ Maundy Thursday words: “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me. This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do, this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
Just as the joy of Easter is undermined if we ignore the sorrow and grief of Good Friday, ignoring Maundy Thursday also diminishes Easter’s joy. Maundy Thursday gives us a beautiful picture of Christ’s love-filled sacrifice in the Bread and Cup of Communion. It’s crucial that we remember that Jesus’ body was sacrificed for us. His blood establishes a new covenant with God that calls us to new life in Christ. Maundy Thursday thus forces us into the world around us to obey the command that Christ not only gave, but modeled.
This Maundy Thursday, may the love of Christ overflow from you into the lives of the people surrounding you!
Do you have a mentor or an elder that has shaped your life in an unforgettable way? Have you watched a loved one age with such grace and dignity that you desire to model your life after theirs? While we may look up to our elders, many of us still tend to shy away from the difficult issues that the older generation face. But we can only ignore the truth for so long. We are all getting older and for some of us, that reality is beginning to rear its ugly head. If you’re like me, getting out of bed in the morning produces a symphony of groans, pops and creaks that aren’t coming from the bedsprings.
For believers, more than failing physical bodies, growing older brings its share of challenging questions: What is God’s purpose for this time in my life? How do I serve God with my growing limitations? How do I remain hopeful when I’m surrounded by pain and loss?
These concerns are addressed honestly in Billy Graham’s Nearing Home: Life, Faith and Finishing Well. Written for more than just the elderly, Graham teaches readers of all ages how to prepare for the challenges of growing old. At ninety-three Billy Graham is no stranger to the difficulties of advanced age, but he doesn’t let it keep him from faithfully ministering to people around the world. His new book shows that old age is “not a time to be despised or a burden to be endured with gritted teeth.” Instead, Graham uses examples form Scripture to show how God continues to work through His people, no matter their age.
No one knows God’s plans for the future, but we can know for sure that whether or not we live to be ninety-three, someday all of us will be called home. It is Graham’s desire and ours here at Olive Tree that we would learn to grow older with grace and, like our mentors before us, find the guidance needed to finish well.
We had a fantastic time connecting with people at the Desiring God National Conference in Minneapolis last week. Around 3500 people attended. Ian Fallon and Daniel Scott were Olive Tree’s representatives. “We talked to so many people that first day we could feel a soreness in our throats even before the day was done,” commented Daniel. “It is exciting to share about Olive Tree with a crowd that loves to study the Bible.” This year’s theme was “Finish the Mission” and plenary speakers came from a wide variety of mission backgrounds.
Below is a picture of Ian and Daniel in action with an Olive Tree enthusiast.
Our Content Formatting department has been working furiously the last few weeks and we are excited to announce that Olive Tree now has over 1000 products available on our website!
NEW! The Boice Expositional Commentary Series
Combining careful scholarship and clear communication, the Boice Expositional Commentary Series is a verse-by-verse and section by section reading of various biblical texts. Combining thoughtful interpretation with contemporary insight for daily living, James Montgomery Boice explains the meaning of the text and relates the text’s concerns to the church, Christianity, and the world in which we live. Whether used for devotions, preaching, or teaching, this authoritative and thought-provoking series will appeal to a wide range of readers, from serious Bible students to the interested everyday Christian.
Over two and a half decades worth of scholarship, research and work went into this commentary series to present a 27-volume collection (or individual volumes) of excellent insight for the modern-day Christian lifestyle through over 26 books and letters of the Bible.
Contained within this complete bundle, you’ll find:
- The three-volume set of Genesis;
- The commentary on the military leadership of Joshua;
- The leadership volume of Nehemiah;
- The three-volume bundle of the Psalms;
- The commentary on Daniel for the contemporary Christian-in-exile;
- The two-volume set of the twelve minor prophets of the Old Testament (Hosea-Malachi);
- The two-volume series on the Gospel of Matthew;
- A separate, unique commentary on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7);
- A five-volume collection of his commentaries on the Gospel of John;
- The commentary on the early church in Acts;
- A four-volume series on Romans;
- The volume of Ephesians;
- The commentary on Philippians;
- And finally, his commentary on the three Epistles of John.
The Boice Expositional Commentary Series is available now for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, BlackBerry, and Android.
NEW! NIV Application Commentary Prophets Set
“This series promises to become an indispensable tool for every pastor and teacher who seeks to make the Bible’s timeless message speak to this generation.”-Billy Graham
“It takes more than interpretation of God’s Word to change lives, it takes application. Application is the bottom line in preaching and teaching. Without it, we’ve missed the point of the Bible. The NIV Application Commentary is an outstanding resource for pastors and anyone else who is serious about developing ‘doers of the Word.’”-Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Valley Community Church
Many Bible commentaries offer us an exciting tour through the ancient world of Biblical times. They give us a cultural backdrop and add new, wonderful layers of meaning to familiar stories and passages. But when the time comes to return to normal, everyday life, we are left disconnected from the memories of our trip-without the knowledge of practical, real-life application. This is where the NIV Application Commentary series picks up the task. It merges the original, ancient context with right now, showing us both how ancient readers would have read the Bible and how we can connect to this living word of God from a modern context. Most importantly, however, it helps us begin the life-changing process of true application, showing how God’s word can continue to have a powerful voice in our lives today.
The NIV Application Commentary uses a highly accessible, three-tiered method of bringing readers to a fuller understanding of each Biblical book. Original Meaning will explore a book’s meaning in light of its historical and cultural context. Bridging Contexts, as its name implies, will help the reader link the text’s original meaning to its Contemporary Significance-the final tier that helps you apply the Bible to everyday life.
Also available as individual volumes:
- Jeremiah, Lamentations
- Hosea, Amos, Micah
- Joel, Obadiah, Malachi
- Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah
- Haggai, Zechariah
The NIV Application Commentary Prophets Set is available now for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, BlackBerry, and Android.
Updated! New American Commentary New Testament and Old Testament Sets
Collecting the best in contemporary evangelical scholarship in a series that examines the entire Bible in depth, the New American Commentary Sets currently offers 15 volumes of commentary on the New Testament and 23 volumes of the Old Testament. The volumes of these two sets are now also available individually – see below for links to the two sets.
The New American Commentary consistently supports the inerrancy of Scripture and contributing scholars all hold explicit commitments to Scripture’s infallibility. Its distinctive perspective is a focus on the theological ideas springing from Scripture. Along with the textual grounding of an expository commentary, the New American Commentary also focuses on the broader strokes of theology developed by each book, and interprets each book as a theological unity. Rooted in conservative theology, the New American Commentary also directly engages a wide range of theological and exegetical issues raised by contemporary biblical scholarship.
Based on the NIV Bible text, the New American Commentary offers a verse-by-verse analysis of the Scriptures. A mid-level commentary, its scholarship reflects comprehensive biblical research in original languages, but avoids overly-technical prose to maintain accessibility to readers without a seminary background.
Please note: The New Testament collection is now available at the special introductory price of $229.99, currently contains 15 of 19 volumes. The Old Testament collection is available at the special introductory price of $349.99 and currently contains 23 of 26 volumes. Not all volumes have been published. As volumes become available, they will be added to these products, and users who have already purchased either one of these products will be able to download the update with additional volumes for free.
NEW! The Gospel Commmission
Written with fifty years experience helping people in Africa know God through Bible study and acts of mercy, The Gospel Commission, by Michael Horton is a comprehensive, helpful, and encouraging exploration of Jesus’ final command to us.
During a time when many churches are focused on writing vision statements and strategic plans, Horton asks us if our efforts result in building a kingdom based on our own design or God’s. In this frank and hopeful resource, he challenges congregations to renew their understanding of and commitment to the Great Commission.
The Gospel Commission is available now for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, BlackBerry, and Android.
- The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, by Jeremiah Burroughs FREE!
- Weighed and Wanting, by Dwight L. Moody FREE!
- Gospel-Powered Parenting, by William P. Farley
- Legacy of John Calvin, by David W. Hall
- Through the Bible Day by Day Devotional Commentary, by F.B. Meyer
- Hebrews – Reformed Expository Commentary, by Richard D. Phillips
- James – Reformed Expository Commentary, by Daniel M. Doriani
- Jonah and Micah – Reformed Expository Commentary, by Richard D. Phillips
- Zechariah – Reformed Expository Commentary, by Richard D. Phillips
- Luke, 2 Volume Set – Reformed Expository Commentary, by Philip Graham Ryken
- Matthew 2 Volume Set – Reformed Expository Commentary, by Daniel M. Doriani
The following are available for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch only. Android coming soon!