Feed Update

3/09/2008

Hey Everyone,

If you're having problems with your feed (such as not updating) make sure you're subscribed to the correct feed.

Subscribe to the feed by clicking here.

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 8:18 AM 46 comments  

The Blazing Center Has Moved

3/07/2008

The Blazing Center is now officially located at:

www.TheBlazingCenter.com

Thanks!

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 7:35 PM 0 comments  

Site Maintenance

Hey Friends,

We're going to be performing some site updates this weekend so the site could be down for a bit.

There is one crucial thing you must know:

You won't be able to get to the blog anymore from http://blazingcenter.blogspot.com

The only address that will work is www.theblazingcenter.com

Thanks for your patience!

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 11:03 AM 0 comments  

In case of rapture, car will be driverless

I’m not a big fan of Christian bumper stickers. I do have a sticker on my car that says PrayforIan.com, and I’d encourage you to check out that website. But often I think Christian bumper stickers may do more harm than good.

For example, what is the law-abiding unbeliever to think when you pass him at 90 miles an hour in a school zone and he reads on the back of your car, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven”? Or what would he think if you had this – honest, I’m not kidding, real bumper sticker – “Get behind me Satan”. Wow, I didn’t know I was the devil!

Maybe this would encourage a non-Christian to get saved: “What section of the afterlife will you be in: smoking or nonsmoking?” (Again, actual bumper sticker). That reminds me of a sticker I saw on the car of a man happily puffing his cigarette: “At least I can still smoke in my car.”

And if the driver behind you doesn’t get saved from reading the following, what hope does she have?

“Go to Church. Don’t wait for the hearse to take you”
“Without the Bread of Life you’re toast”


I don’t know about you, but just reading them makes me want to get saved all over again.

Then there are Rapture stickers. These genius slogans are designed to strike terror into the heart of the unbeliever, especially when the rapture occurs and millions of Christians on earth mysteriously disappear, leaving cars without drivers, electric razors dangling and running, and whole sets of clothes mysteriously lying all over the earth.

“In case of rapture, car will be driverless.” “After the rapture, give this car to my mother-in-law” (I guess your mother-in-law's a pagan, since she’ll be left behind to take your car).

Whole generations of skateboarders will probably saved by this one: “Dude, Make the Change” - What change? Do I need a new kind of board? Have Vans come out with a new shoe?

And let’s not forget the whole bumper sticker evolution debate. It began with the “fish” symbol, with the word “Jesus” inside it. Then some irate evolutionist puts all the Christians down with the clever fish with feet with the word “Darwin” inside it. Then the even-more-clever creationists smack down the pesky evolutionists with an even bigger fish with the word “Truth” inside it eating the Darwin fish. If that’s not irrefutable proof of Christianity, I don’t know what is. A more subtle creationist bumper sticker reads: "King Kong is not my grandpa”. You might have to think about that one for a while. Try not to veer off the road as you’re musing on it.

Years ago, I saw a car in a church parking lot with both these stickers on the same bumper:

Abortion Kills
Rush is Right


Just what I thought, says the unbeliever - Christians are all a bunch of right-wing conservatives.

A few years ago, someone asked me to put a campaign sign in my front yard for a conservative political candidate. A friend of mine wisely said that though it’s not wrong to put a sign in one’s yard, he didn’t want his neighbors to identify him as a conservative or a liberal but as a Christian. I declined the sign. I want my neighbors to know I’m a believer in Jesus Christ, not a Republican or Democrat.

The problem with so many bumper stickers and political signs is that they can distract us from “The Main Thing” as CJ Mahaney says. The Main Thing is not the rapture or evolution or politics, but the good news of Jesus Christ, who sacrificed himself as a substitute for sinners to bring them to God. Let’s focus on the gospel. And in case of the rapture, please unplug my razor.

Posted by Mark Altrogge at 8:00 AM 9 comments  

John Lennon, Julian Altrogge

3/06/2008

But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. - Mark 10:44-45

Yesterday my dad told you about two men, Heath Ledger and Jim Elliot. Today I'm going to tell you about two more men.

John Lennon was born on October 9, 1940. As one of the founding members of The Beatles, Lennon wrote songs that became anthems for an entire generation. Any event featuring The Beatles was a guaranteed to be a smash hit, and crowds filled stadiums to overflowing just to hear The Beatles in concert. He was adored by the masses, respected by millions, and considered to be an edgy, peace-loving activist. Shortly after Lennon was killed, approximately 100,000 people gathered in Central Park to mourn the death of their beloved singer. In 2002 he was voted number 8 on the "100 Greatest Britons" list, and Rolling Stone Magazine ranked him at number 38 on its list of "The Fifty Greatest Artists of All Time". The Beatles were ranked number one on that list. John Lennon was great in the eyes of the world.

Julian Altrogge was born on November 11, 1918. He never wrote a hit song, never appeared on national television, and never gave any famous speeches. His claim to fame is that he wrote a small pamphlet on the subject of baseball that was given to several thousand Little Leaguers in the state of Oklahoma. Approximately ten years ago, my grandma, Jonalee, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's is a wicked disease that slowly destroys both the brain and the body, sucking the life and personality from its victim. Over the next five years my grandpa faithfully cared for my grandma as she descended into dementia. He took her on walks at the mall when she got antzy from her medication. He patiently had the same conversations with her over and over. When things got really bad he fed her, clothed her, and helped her stay clean. Finally, after five years of agonizing decline, my grandma went to be with Jesus.

But that didn't stop my grandpa from serving. For many years he visited a blind man every week, spending time with him and helping him take care of things around the house. Every year he paints hundreds (literally) of birthday cards by hand for members of our church. Many folks in our church have the cards mounted throughout their houses. He leads Bible studies at nursing homes and comes to church every single Sunday.

Everybody knows John Lennon, very few people know Julian Altrogge. Which one of these men is great in God's eyes?

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 8:00 AM 5 comments  

Heath Ledger, Jim Elliot

3/05/2008

Heath Andrew Ledger (April 4, 1979 – January 22, 2008) was an Academy Award-nominated Australian film actor. …He appeared in nearly twenty films, including 10 Things I Hate About You, The Patriot, Monster's Ball, A Knight's Tale, and Brokeback Mountain. For his portrayal of Ennis Del Mar in Brokeback Mountain, Ledger was nominated for a 2005 Oscar for "Best Actor in a Leading Role" and won awards from the British Academy and the Australian Film Institute, as well as two MTV Movie Awards. He had completed filming on the role of the Joker in the forthcoming movie The Dark Knight shortly before dying from an accidental prescription drug overdose at age 28 (Wikipedia).

Philip James Elliot (October 8, 1927 – January 8, 1956) professed faith in Jesus Christ at age 6. His acting ability led some of his high school teachers to suggest that he pursue acting as a career. But instead of acting, he pursued missionary work. He and four other missionaries, Ed McCully, Roger Youderian, Pete Fleming and their pilot, Nate Saint, went to Ecuador to evangelize the Huaorani Indians. Initially they made contact from an airplane using a loudspeaker and dropping gifts down to the Indians with a basket. After a few months they established a base a short distance from the Indians’ village. They were approached by a small group of the Indians who were initially friendly. But on January 8, 1956 a group of 10 men killed Jim and his four friends, piercing them with spears and mutilating them with machetes. Like Heath Ledger, Jim Elliot was 28 years old when he died.

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?" (Mk 8:34-36)


Both Heath Ledger and Jim Elliot were 28 when they died. It would seem that Heath Ledger had gained the world. I know nothing about his spiritual life. If he did not know Jesus Christ, I hope he cried out to him for salvation in his final moments.

From a worldly viewpoint, Jim Elliot’s life would be a tragic loss. He certainly didn’t gain the world. And he lost his life trying to reach an obscure tribe of violent Indians.

Jim Elliot’s journal entry for October 28, 1949, contains his now famous quotation, expressing his belief that serving Jesus was more important than his life:

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”


What would Heath Ledger say to us today? Would he say that all his accolades, success and wealth were worth it?

What would Jim Elliot say? I think I know. He’d say, “Follow Jesus Christ with all your heart. Give yourself to serving him, even if it costs you everything you have, even your life. Believe me, it’s worth it.”

Maybe your calling is to serve your family as a wife and mother of small children. You’re not pierced by spears, but your sleep is pierced by the cries of your baby at 3 a.m. You’re not hacked by machetes, but you’ve never been so physically and mentally drained as you are now in seeking to glorify Jesus as a mom. Maybe you’re a high school student. You’re not murdered by Indians, just looked down on by others for sitting with the odd student no one else will sit with.

Wherever Jesus Christ has placed you, lose your life in serving him with all your heart. Jim Elliot would say you are no fool.

Posted by Mark Altrogge at 8:00 AM 10 comments  

The Cubicle of Death

3/04/2008


There's a well known saying that, "The grass is always greener when you dump lots of manure on it." So true indeed. There's another, lesser known saying that goes something like, "The grass is always greener on the other side." Also very true. In fact, I'm living proof.

When I was in high school, I couldn't wait until college. Then I got to college and realized that spending your weekends writing ten page papers wasn't ranked real high in the fun category, somewhere close to cleaning public restrooms or scraping roadkill off from the highway. So I couldn't wait to get out of college and into the real world, the working world. But then I got a real job working in a real cubicle for a real eight hours a day, wearing a real shirt and tie, and coming home really tired every night. So that wasn't so cool either. But at least I still had the weekends! The corporate vampire could suck the life out of me five days a week, but it couldn't steal the glorious weekend. Saturday and Sunday were mine, all mine!

But weekends never really panned out either. One minute it would Friday night, and approximately thirty seconds later it would be Monday morning, and there I would be, stepping back into my sensory deprivation chamber (a.k.a. cubicle - credit Dilbert for that one). It all seemed so mundane, so "turn your mind into tapioca pudding" boring! I never was content. During the week I wanted the weekends. During the weekends I dreaded the week.

A man named Jim Elliot spoke to people like me. He said, "Wherever you are — be there 100%" Well, that stings a bit. More importantly, scripture spoke to people like me. In Colossians 3:23-24 Paul said, "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ."

God calls us to serve him wholeheartedly in whatever situation he has placed us. That was my big problem. I was at work, but I usually wasn't there with all my heart. I was in high school, but I wanted to be in college. I always was looking for bigger, and better things, rather than simply serving the Lord 100% where he currently had me. I went to class, but I wasn't there 100%.

I want to emulate Jim Elliot, and obey the scriptures, by working heartily for the Lord in whatever circumstances he places me. I want to serve as a husband, and a dad, and pastoral intern, with all my heart. Why? Because ultimately I'm working for the Lord, and I'll receive my reward from the Lord.

What "mundane" circumstances has God placed you in? Mom's, does it seem like all you do all day every day is change diapers and clean up baby vomit? Do it with all your heart, for the Lord! You'll be richly rewarded if you do. College students, does the thought of one more term paper tempt you to hurl your laptop out the window? It shouldn't, if you realize that you are working for the Lord. Throw yourself into your studies. Husbands, are you sick of your job? Remember who you're working for. Ultimately, Jesus Christ is your boss. Your work for him, and he's the one who will reward you.

Lord, teach us to cherish each season of life as a gift from you. Help us to work heartily for you, rather than men. Teach us to glorify you in the mundane!

photo by Kyle and Kelly Adams

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 8:00 AM 2 comments  

What to Do With a Crust of Bread

3/03/2008

It doesn't take much to expose my wicked heart. God doesn't need to toss me into prison or break my fibula to reveal the discontentment that lurks in my inner recesses. Sometimes all it takes is my wife Kristi telling me what's for dinner when I get home from work. "I thought we'd have leftovers tonight," she says on rare occasions. I sigh, and offer up a barely audible "great,” mustering as much excitement as if she'd told me we were having roadkill.

Why am I so ungrateful at times? Discontentment reveals that I am taking delight in something other than Jesus Christ. It shows that I'm looking to my circumstances for my joy, not to the God of my salvation.

This is just the opposite of a woman Charles Spurgeon spoke of:


"I have heard of some good old woman in a cottage, who had nothing but a piece of bread and a little water. Lifting up her hands, she said as a blessing, "What! All this, and Christ too?"

This woman realized that Jesus Christ was her all in all. He was her bread of life, her spring of living water. Jesus was her treasure and all her joy was in him. That's why she could rejoice in a crust of bread and a little water. Her joy came from Jesus, not her circumstances.

When we look to the things of this world to provide our joy we will always be disappointed, for we have been designed to find our satisfaction in God alone:

“Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,

and your labor for that which does not satisfy?

Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food" (Isaiah 55:1-2).


God tells us not to spend our money for that which is not bread – in other words, don’t live for the things of this world. They are like plastic fruit, which might look tasty, but won’t satisfy. But pursue him who truly satisfies, Jesus Christ, the bread of life. If we have Jesus then we don't need anything else. If we have Jesus, then all other blessings are just extras - icing on the cake.

If the poor woman Spurgeon mentioned could rejoice over a crust of bread, how much more should we be thankful who have Christ plus a thousand other blessings in our lives. How about you? Can you say this about your life today - “What! All this, and Christ too?”

I resolve by God's grace, that the next time Kristi informs me that we are having leftovers, I will lift up my hands and joyfully declare, "What! All this, and Christ too?"

Posted by Mark Altrogge at 8:00 AM 4 comments  

More Announcements By Mark Altrogge

3/01/2008

Here are some more announcements by my dad from the WorshipGod 06 conference. He will be back this year! Click here to go to the Worship God conference website.

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 12:06 PM 244 comments