Posts tagged Christian Books

Bonhoeffer

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When I started working at Olive Tree over a year ago (I can’t believe it’s been that long!), I worked on the content craftsmen team. For my first project, I was given an eBook, more specifically, Eric Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, and asked to format it for the Olive Tree apps.

I was lucky to get an eBook because the formatting is simple, but this eBook presented me with the special challenge to stay on task. I often found myself stalled on a particular section, not because it had complicated formatting, but because the writing had pulled me in and distracted me from my work. I have since moved to the marketing department (which might be for the best considering how long it took me to format this book) and decided I should read the whole of Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer. Here are my thoughts on the book:

It is Well Written

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is well known for his writings like The Cost of Discipleship and Life Together and many have even heard of his anti-Naziism. Metaxas goes beyond the Bonhoeffer that we’ve heard of, covering a lot of ground while still taking time on the little details that leave you feeling like you know Bonhoeffer personally. The passion and excitement Metaxas brings to this biography is evident. His writing is engaging and moves quickly. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the biography and found myself getting lost in Metaxas’ captivating prose.

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Renouncing Independence

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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?

The Importance of History

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“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.

 

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.

Olive Tree Summer Bible Reading Plan!

When I was a sophomore in college, I took an Old Testament Survey class in which we read the entire Old Testament in one semester. I remember reading the syllabus during our first class and balking at some of our homework assignments. Read Psalms 76-150 for Wednesday’s homework. Read Isaiah for Friday. Yes, that’s right. Read all of Isaiah.

Without a doubt, the volume of reading that semester was a challenge. But in hindsight, I am thankful for the lightning-speed pace with which we moved through the Old Testament because it revealed an overarching narrative to the Bible that I’d never noticed. There is a profound continuity between the Old and New Testament. God really is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8) and his desire is for the salvation of all people, first for the Jew and also for the Gentile (Romans 1:16).

When we were discussing overarching themes for the summer here at Olive Tree, we got hooked on this idea of reading through parts of the whole Bible in one summer. Rather like New Year’s, summer carries its own set of resolutions and to-dos. We invite you to make Olive Tree’s Summer Bible Reading Plan your goal for the summer.

Here’s the lowdown on reading plan:

  1. The reading plan organizes the Bible’s 66 books into eight literary genres: Law, History, Poetry, Major Prophets, Minor Prophets, Gospels and Acts, Paul’s Letters, and the General Letters/Revelation.
  2. Each genre and book of the Bible includes a succinct introduction written by Olive Tree staff members that will help both mature and new Christians understand the basic historical context and themes.
  3. The plan’s dates are from June 1 to September 11. In most cases, you’ll be reading several chapters a day.
  4. The plan will be available as a free download until Friday, June 8. After that, it will be available at OliveTree.com for 99 cents.

Olive Tree is excited to help you dive into the Word of God. Our end goal for the Summer Reading Plan is that you become so steeped in God’s story that it begins both to define and transform your life.

“Let your roots grow down into [Christ Jesus], and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:7, NLT)

Just Give Me Jesus

To know the stories behind the authors of devotionals like Anne Graham Lotz’ Just Give Me Jesus gives new depth of meaning to the written work. Today, we take a peek into the life of one of the daughters of the world’s most famous evangelist, Billy Graham.

Anne Graham Lotz, Billy Graham’s second daughter, is a powerful force for God’s Kingdom in her own right and was even called “the best preacher in the family” by her father. But Anne’s road to ministry was an uphill battle. She married early and had her first child at age 20. Several years later, Anne was struggling with depression as she cared for three small children and wrestled with her role as a stay-at-home mother. She wanted an opportunity to serve the Lord outside the home.

In 1975, God revealed an opportunity for Anne to lead a Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) group at her church in Raleigh, North Carolina. Though some disapproved of her choice, it quickly became clear, when the audience numbered 300 and counting, that Anne had found her niche.

After 12 years of ministry with BSF, Anne began to receive speaking requests both nationally and internationally and was shaped by other women in ministry, including Audrey Wetherell Johnson, the founder of BSF. Since then, Anne has started a non-profit called AnGeL Ministries, formed from her initials AGL, whose mission is to “give out messages of biblical exposition so that God’s Word is personal and relevant to ordinary people.” Anne’s ministry includes numerous speaking engagements and writing devotional books. Olive Tree has four of Anne’s books, including The Vision of His Glory, Just Give Me Jesus, Heaven: My Father’s House, and God’s Story, which will be on sale at OliveTree.com later this week in honor of Mother’s Day.

In Just Give Me Jesus, Anne longs for her readers to know God and reflects on her own life-long journey to know Christ:

“I am growing in my knowledge of God, and I say without hesitation or qualification that knowing God is my joy and reason for living. He is…

 

the Wind beneath my wings,

the Treasure that I seek,

the Foundation on which I build,

the Song in my heart,

the Object of my desire,

the Breath of my life—

He is my All in all!”

 

Encouraged by Anne’s example, may Jesus also be our all in all!

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