Do You Live In The Glorious Freedom Of "It Is Finished"?

11/15/2018


I have a problem. Actually, I have many problems, including an addiction to these crackers called "Grooves" that taste like heaven.
But this is a much bigger problem.
In my head, I know that when Jesus said, "It is finished," he really meant it. I know that I should be living in the glorious freedom of those words.
Unfortunately, most of the time I DON'T live like it's finished. I live like there's more to be done. More to be added to the finished work of Christ. More hustle needed on my part.
Instead of experiencing the almost delirious joy that comes with knowing it's finished, I live under a heavy weight of guilt and condemnation.
I, for one, can assure you that this is not a pleasant experience.
So what's the solution? It seems like I really need to dig down into what Jesus meant when he said, "It is finished."
Man...once you start digging, it's hard to stop. It's that good.


Do You Live In The Glorious Freedom Of "It Is Finished"?

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 12:41 PM 0 comments  

4 Life Changing Ways To Wait On The Lord (and 3 Huge Blessings)

11/05/2018

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 10:00 AM 0 comments  

I'm Living Proof That The Lord Is Close To The Brokenhearted

10/31/2018

God is close to the brokenhearted, and my story is proof. Here's what happened.



I'm Living Proof That The Lord Is Close To The Brokenhearted

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 1:15 PM 0 comments  

What Does It Really Mean To Be A Stumbling Block?

10/26/2018

Have you ever wondered what it means to be a stumbling block to someone? It can be confusing, right? Does it mean you shouldn't do something if it will offend other people? Not exactly. Here's what it means.



What Does It Really Mean To Be A Stumbling Block?

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 9:35 AM 0 comments  

104 Profound, Encouraging Charles Spurgeon Quotes

The heart of Christ became like a reservoir in the midst of the mountains. All the tributary streams of iniquity, and every drop of the sins of his people, ran down and gathered into one vast lake, deep as hell and shoreless as eternity. All these met, as it were, in Christ’s heart, and he endured them all.



104 Profound, Encouraging Charles Spurgeon Quotes

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 8:15 AM 0 comments  

35 MIGHTY Bible Verses About Hope To Encourage You

If you need hope. If you need encouragement. If you need to have your soul strengthened. Read these 35 Bible verses about hope.



35 MIGHTY Bible Verses About Hope To Encourage You

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 8:13 AM 0 comments  

The Perilous Practice Of Platform Building

10/19/2018

The Perilous Practice Of Platform Building

In the past years, I've seen numerous prominent Christians come tumbling down, their platforms crumbling like a poorly constructed Tower of Babel. Mark Driscoll. Tullian Tchividjian. Bill Hybels. Perry Noble.

I've seen friends who were supposed to have great promise as pastors - important assets for the kingdom of God - self-destruct.

The list goes on and on.

Whether though infidelity or sexual abuse or spiritual abuse, many pastors have seen their platforms crumble under the crushing load of their sins.

Spiritual/pastoral "platforms" (or whatever you want to call them) are not really a new thing. Charles Spurgeon had an enormous platform that allowed him to speak to millions of people through his sermons and writings. Whitfield and Wesley gathered massive crowds. Billy Graham steam rolled across America with his revival meetings.

But in recent years, there's been an increased emphasis on Christian influencers intentionally crafting big platforms. Gathering thousands of social media followers. Building epic megachurches with multiple services. Blogging and YouTubing and Instagramming their way to fame. Of course, all this is framed as a way of bringing more glory to God, but it's pretty easy to see the man behind the curtain.

A number of years ago, I started a Twitter account called @celebritypastor to make fun of this trend. And while I still get enjoyment out of poking fun at the smoke machines and overly coiffed hair and playing "Come As You Are" (the Nirvana version) at the altar call, I'm increasingly sobered at the thought of creating any sort of platform.

See, there was a time when I thought it would be cool to have a big platform. To have all the social media followers and speak at the conferences and have people think that I was important. The prospect was really attractive.

And I did have a limited amount of success in the early stages of constructing my platform. I was a pastor and had a couple books published when I was way too young. The books were endorsed by people you probably have heard of. In my extremely tiny Christian circle, a lot of people knew me. Granted, this was like being popular at a Christian school of 15 students, but still, it felt pretty good. I was a medium-sized fish in a really small pond filled with really small fish.

Then, in God's mercy, everything I built fell apart. Thankfully, it wasn't because of infidelity or spiritual abuse or embezzlement or anything like that. I simply ended up in a really unhealthy church situation that I absolutely had to leave.

And when I left...

...I had nothing left.

It was the absolute worst and best thing that could have happened to me. Everything I was and thought I knew was stripped away from me. I was suddenly a "nobody", in that I didn't have any sort of position of influence.

For a while, I felt completely undone and disoriented, like I didn't know who I was. I was like Jason Bourne in Bourne Identity, minus being brainwashed by a blackops CIA program and the ability to kill people with a single punch and run a mile without breathing hard.

Basically me

But as time has passed, clarity has come. I realize that I care about most things a lot less and a few things a lot more.

I don't want to build a platform, and I'm not impressed by flashy churches or pastors. Very few people have the character necessary to support a big platform, and I'm pretty sure I don't. I can't help be reminded of what the people said as they planned to build the Tower of Babel:

Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”

Trying to make a name for yourself is dangerous business, and there's a really good chance you'll end up with God opposing you.

Now, I no longer want to do "big things" for God (in the way they're often discussed). I want to do faithful things for God (yeah, I realize that sounds like a Jesus juke).

I want to...

  • Be a faithful husband and dad.
  • Faithfully pursue the spiritual disciplines.
  • Serve in a normal, non-flashy church.
  • Use my limited gifts in whatever ways God makes available, whether that's through full-time ministry or as a regular church member.

I want to be an "ordinary" guy serving in an "ordinary" place. As Zach Eswine says in his amazing book The Imperfect Pastor:

If I am bored with ordinary people in ordinary places, then am I not bored with what God delights in? If I think that local limits of body and place are too small a thing for a person as gifted as I am, then don’t I want to escape what God himself gladly and daily inhabits? If I stare at a face, a flower, a child, or a congregation and say, “But God, not this. I want to do something great for you!” Am I not profoundly misunderstanding what God says a great thing is?

If I had one thing to say to young men and women who are burning with ambition for God, it would be this: be content to let God build your platform.

Most of us will never have a "platform" (not the right word here, but you get the point) that extends beyond our families, church, and jobs. We'll faithfully teach our kids about Jesus, maybe lead a Bible study or serve on the worship team, and diligently do our jobs. And that is a glorious, beautiful thing.

If God does happen to give you a bigger audience, tread prayerfully and cautiously. Don't always be striving to build a tower that reaches the heavens. Be rooted and held accountable within a local church. And don't believe your own press.

And trust me when I say that you'll be much happier without all the striving and hustling and grinding.

I certainly am.

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 9:37 AM 0 comments  

104 Profound, Encouraging Charles Spurgeon Quotes

10/17/2018

I love Charles Spurgeon. Here are 104 of my favorite Charles Spurgeon quotes.



104 Profound, Encouraging Charles Spurgeon Quotes

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 12:14 PM 0 comments  

The ONLY Possible Way To Be Anxious For Nothing

9/10/2018

The ONLY Possible Way To Be Anxious For Nothing

be anxious for nothing

There are certain commands in scripture which, to my shame, I treat more as suggestions than commands. Sort of like Good Housekeeping-esque tips for better living, which fit right in next to articles like, "45 Tips To Lose That Stubborn Belly Fat," and, "How To Keep Those Pesky Avocados Fresh."

(Side note: Is it just me or do avocados have a shelf life of approximately six seconds?)

One of those commands is Paul's exhortation to, "Be anxious for nothing."

The surrounding verses, which are both staggeringly comforting and incredibly challenging, say:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

On the surface, this seems like one of those, "Surely, you can't be serious," kind of commands. I mean, anxious for nothing? For NOTHING? In many ways, life is a giant, mottled gray tapestry of worries, anxieties, struggles, and fears.

Will I have enough to pay the bills?

Will my child recover from this sickness?

Will I have enough time to get all my work done and still spend time with the family?

Will I need to take care of my parents?

You get the point.

To say that there are lot of opportunities to be anxious is like saying Michael Bay likes the occasional explosion or people on the Keto diet like telling you that they're on the diet.

And yet, Paul (and the Lord) is very serious when he says, "Be anxious for nothing."

Of course, this leads to the obvious question: given how many anxieties we face, how can we possibly be anxious for nothing?

Be Anxious For Nothing Through Prayer and Supplication

Paul doesn't call us to some sort of stoic, what will be will be, approach to anxiety. It's not about keeping calm and carrying on, all the while munching on biscuits slathered in marmite (or whatever it is Brits like to eat).

Instead, Paul presents two solutions that enable us to be anxious for nothing: prayer and supplication.

I have to admit that, at least on the surface, this solution seems a tad...I don't know...simple.

I mean, we all know that prayer is important and that we're supposed to constantly present our requests to God.

But, come on.

Be anxious for nothing? Isn't something more needed than simple prayer and supplication? To quote the brilliant theologian Taylor Swift, "Bandaids won't fix bullet holes."

Surely, the bullet holes of anxiety require a bit more than simple prayer.

Nope.

Again and again through scripture, the cure for worry and anxiety is going to God in prayer. Peter says, "...[cast] all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you." How do we cast our crushing cares and fears and anxieties upon the Lord?

Through prayer.

Jesus puts it this way:

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:31-33).

Jesus commands us not to be anxious, and instead tells us to direct our attention and action to seeking God's kingdom. One of the primary ways that we seek God's kingdom is through prayer and supplication.

Prayer isn't a last ditch resort for when the pressure cooker (or Instapot) is cranked up to 11.

Prayer is a divine invitation from the omnipotent God - the one who sustains all things, the one who keeps the planets from careening into each other, the one who keeps our hearts from blundering into cardiac arrest - to unburden ourselves.

To bring all our cares and anxieties and fears to the King of Kings and lay them at his feet.

Prayer is saying to God, "Lord, I am to weak and fragile and scared and unsophisticated to figure everything out. I simply can't handle all this. I can't sustain myself, bear my burdens, or be the problem solver. I. Need. You."

In his outstanding book A Praying Life, Paul Miller puts it this way:

anxious for nothing

I love that little phrase, "...the eternal God scrubs floors."

There is no request or anxiety or need to small (or large) to present to the Lord. He is a good, gracious Father who delights to take care of his children.

My daughter, Ella, is in the somewhat-obnoxious habit of constantly asking for things, even if we just gave her something. If she had cake for dessert, she wants cookies for second dessert. If we just bought her new shoes, she asks for new boots too. And I'm not always patient or gracious with her. Sometimes I just get plain annoyed.

But I would NEVER want her to stop asking me for things. I'm her dad, and few things make me happier than blessing her. Few things give me more pleasure than meeting her little, 8-year old needs. And if that's my sinful, grumpy, knock-it-off attitude, imagine what God's attitude is.

How do we be anxious for nothing? We bring every need and worry and anxiety to our Father and lay it at his feet.

But there's one more thing.

Be Anxious For Nothing Through Faith

There is one more thing required in order to be anxious for nothing. One more ingredient to throw in the "peace that passes understanding" recipe.

That ingredient is faith.

It's not enough to simply pray to God. If we're truly going to be anxious for nothing, our prayers must be intertwined with faith.

Faith in God's promises to always provide.

Faith in God's good, generous character.

Faith in God's steadfast love, which will never leave or forsake us.

Faith in God's ability to answer every prayer.

Prayer without faith is like a car without gasoline. It won't get you anywhere. Frankly, praying without faith is insulting to God.

It's like when my kids preface a request with, "You're probably going to say no." It makes me sad when they say that (unless they're asking for something truly outlandish, like being able to draw on my car with permanent marker). I love blessing my kids, and when they're assumption is that I'll say, "No," it hurts.

In James 5:15, when describing the elders of a church praying for a sick person, he says, "And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up."

It's the prayer of faith that prompts God to heal a person. It's the prayer of faith that moves God to meet every need. It's the prayer of faith that...

...restores a wayward child.

...opens the door for a new job.

...enables you to serve in ways that you don't like.

When prayer and faith are knit together, God moves and we are able to be anxious for nothing.

Yes, the command to not be anxious or fearful seems overwhelming. Impossible. Unrealistic.

But if God commands it, he also empowers us to obey.

Life is to complicated and frustrating and confusing to navigate on our own. The burdens are too heavy for us to bear.

The command to be anxious for nothing is really a sweet invitation wrapped in a command. It's God saying, "Don't be silly and try to handle all this on your own. Let me take care of the details. I've got this."

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 9:26 AM 0 comments