Picture Of The Man Who Wouldn't Salute

9/30/2007

Here's a picture of Wolfgang's dad, "The Man Who Wouldn't Salute".


Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 7:40 PM 1 comments  

A New Worship Song

9/29/2007

Ever wonder what a new worship song sounds like before it gets on an album? I'll tell you: pretty rough. Here's a song I wrote recently for possible inclusion on Sovereign Grace Ministries upcoming album. I'm not sure if it will make the album, but you can hear it anyway. It's just my voice and acoustic guitar, so it's pretty rough, but you get the idea. Click on the play button to listen.


Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 11:43 AM 8 comments  

Mark Altrogge To Be A Permanent Fixture

My dad has been a guest blogger this week and has been putting up some great stuff. So we decided that from now on my dad and I will write on alternating weeks, which means that you're going to be seeing a whole lot more of Mark in the future!

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 11:18 AM 0 comments  

The Man Who Wouldn't Salute

9/28/2007


underground in Hamburg



A few months ago I had the privilege of accompanying my friend Dave Harvey to Hamburg, Germany to participate in a conference sponsored by Wolfgang Wegert, a pastor who has great influence in Europe. Wolfgang has held huge crusades over 30 years of ministry, and now has many churches and leaders who look to him as a spiritual father. He produces one of only 3 government sanctioned Christian television programs that is broadcast throughout Germany.

In his office hangs a copy of a newspaper photo, entitled "The Man Who Wouldn't Salute."

Wolfgang's father was a believer and worked in the shipyards in Hamburg during World War II. Every month Hitler would come to the shipyards to inspect the fleet. All the workers were required to assemble for Hitler's visit. When the Feurher would pass by the thousands of workers would all extend their arms and give him the "sig heil" salute together.

The photo captured hundreds of ship workers in the act of saluting. But near the middle, and slightly off to the right, one man could be seen not saluting. This "Man Who Would Not Salute" was Wolfgang's father, standing there with his arms crossed in defiance of Hitler.

As the War progressed, Hitler started making his inspections on Sundays, so that workers could assemble without having to take time away from shipbuilding. Wolfgang's father refused to join assemblies, so that he could attend his church, despite people's warnings that he would suffer the consequences of not showing up to salute Hitler. Nothing ever happened to him.

What a heritage Wolfgang has. In the providence of God, out of thousands who saluted Hitler, his father was an uncompromising Christian. If your parents are believers, praise God for his providence in causing you to be born to them. What a blessing to have been taught the gospel from a young age. What a blessing to have the gospel lived out before you from your childhood.

If you are a believer with children still at home, praise God for his providence in saving you so that you can influence your children for Jesus Christ. Wolfgang's father could never have imagined that in God's providence his son would have such widespread ministry for Christ. We can't possibly imagine what effect our words and example will have on our children and future generations of believers.

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Posted by Mark Altrogge at 8:00 AM 4 comments  

If You Can Read This...

9/27/2007

“And yet, though our present views and reflections upon Providence are so short and imperfect in comparison to that in heaven, yet…it has so much excellence and sweetness in it that I may call it a little heaven…It is certainly a highway of walking with God in this world, and a soul may enjoy as sweet communion with Him in His providences as in any of His ordinances.” --John Flavel, The Mystery of Providence, 22

God's providence is his sustaining and directing all things for his glory and our good. There are no accidents. Meditating on God's providence in our lives is a sweet exercise that produces joy and thanksgiving.

If you can read this, in God's Providence, you were either born in an English-speaking nation or have been able to learn English. Because we speak English, we have access to the Bible and the gospel. Many have never heard the gospel or God's word because no translation exists in their tongue. How blessed we are to have God's word in the English language.

English was the language of many of the Puritans and great Christian teachers. I have been blessed so much from reading works like The Precious Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs, The Mystery of Providence by John Flavel, Sin and Temptation by John Owen, The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes. Not to mention works and messages by Charles Spurgeon, Thomas Watson, John Bunyan, Jonathan Edwards and others who wrote in English.

And think of all the contemporary preachers and teachers who write and speak in English who have benefitted our lives. I've been so blessed by men like C.J. Mahaney, John Piper, Jerry Bridges, R.C. Sproul, and many others. If God had seen fit in his providence to have me speak another language, I might not have had access to the works of these men.

And how many wonderful worship songs and hymns have been written or translated into English? I'm sure there are multitudes of incredible spiritual books and songs written in other languages, but I've been blessed simply by virtue of being born in the good ol' English speaking USA. If you can read this, praise God for his providence that you were born in an English-speaking nation.

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Posted by Mark Altrogge at 8:00 AM 0 comments  

Born In The USA Part 2

9/26/2007

Ever thank God that you were born in a nation where we can preach and practice the gospel?

My friend Scott recently traveled to China, where his company is building a plant. The town he visited has no religion of any kind - none. What if you'd been born there? Or what if you'd been born into a Hindu family in India?

But all that I have said is very inconsiderable in comparison with the spiritual mercies and advantages you here enjoy for your souls…Suppose it had been your lot to have fallen in any of those vast continents possessed by pagans and heathens at this day, who bow down to the stock of a tree, and worship the host of heaven…Or suppose your lot had fallen among [Muslims]…Nay, you might have fallen into the same land in which your habitation now is, and yet have had no advantage by it as to salvation, if He that chose the bounds of your habitation had not also graciously ‘determined the times’ for you (Acts 17.26). --John Flavel, The Mystery of Providence, 48-50

What "spiritual mercies and advantages" we enjoy here in this nation! We can meet together without fear for preaching and teaching, worship and fellowship. We can own church buildings and Bibles and spiritual books. We can preach the gospel on television, radio and podcasts. We can hold conferences and retreats. We can openly proclaim Jesus Christ without fear of being arrested and tortured.

In North Korea, believers are imprisoned in packing crates for their faith. I once heard about one group of persecuted Christians that met for years in the woods on Sunday morning, with only one chapter from Proverbs to nourish them. I have numerous Bibles in my home and office, and even more numerous books, commentaries, and teachings on CD. I have a Bible program in my computer that contains many Bibles and hundreds of other resources. We have access to the works of the greatest Christians who ever lived.

Let us praise our Lord Jesus for the spiritual mercies and advantages his providence has provided for us in this nation!

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Posted by Mark Altrogge at 8:00 AM 0 comments  

Born in the USA

9/25/2007

In 1984, Bruce Springsteen penned his anthem, "Born in the USA". The same year Lee Greenwood recorded "God Bless the USA" singing,

If tomorrow all the things were gone I’d worked for all my life,
And I had to start again with just my children and my wife.
I’d thank my lucky stars to be living here today,
‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom and they can’t take that away.

Sorry, Lee, it's not lucky stars we should thank but you're right about the gratitude part.

John Flavel reminds us of God's providence in selecting the land of our birth:

“Ah friends! Can you think it an indifferent thing into what part of the world the womb of nature has cast you out?...This performance of Providence for you very much concerns your present comfort in this world…How poor, miserable, and unprovided with earthly comfort and accommodations are many millions of the inhabitants of this world! What mercies do you enjoy in respect of the amenity, fertility, temperature, and civility of the place of your habitation?...You are here provided with necessary and comfortable accommodations for your bodies, that a great part of the world are unacquainted with.” -- John Flavel, The Mystery of Providence, 47

I have had the privilege of traveling to a couple very poor nations, and every time I go, I thank God for his mercies to me that I was born in the United States. Do you ever take time to think about the blessings God has heaped upon you simply by virtue of the country you were born in? What an abundance of food God has blessed us with in this country. The chip aisle in the supermarket has so many varieties, I get anxious trying to select a bag.

How about our medical facilities and technology? In some countries, many don't even have access to Tylenol. After my wife Kristi visited Uganda, she told me of a young man who'd had a minor cut that became severely infected because he had no bandaids or antibiotic ointment. He lost his leg. In Uganda, Kristi saw people wait for days to see a doctor; I sigh if I have to wait 30 minutes.

Next time you have to slow down because of highway repairs, thank God for the incredible infrastructure he's blessed us with. The streets in my neighborhood would be considered superhighways in some nations.

Let us thank God for electricity. For hot showers in the morning. That we can wash our clothes in machines and not in the local river. For automobiles. In some countries, you'd be the richest man in the village if you owned a bicycle. We have so many comforts and pleasures. We live in beautiful homes in safe neighborhoods. What mercies we enjoy! Lord Jesus, thank you for your providence that we were born in this nation.

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Posted by Mark Altrogge at 8:00 AM 2 comments  

Trace the Threads

9/24/2007

“…it has been the pious and constant practice of the saints in all generations to preserve the memory of the more famous and remarkable providences that have befallen them in their times as a precious treasure. ‘If thou be a Christian indeed, I know thou hast, if not in thy book, yet certainly in thy heart, a great many precious favours upon record; the very remembrance and rehearsal of them is sweet; how much more sweet was the actual enjoyment?’ (Baxter’s Saints’ Everlasting Rest).” –John Flavel, The Mystery of Providence, 20

I love the topic of God's Providence. God sustains and directs all things for our good and his glory. John Flavel tells us that recording and remembering God' providences is a sweet and pleasurable activity.

Trace back the threads that God wove together to bring you to himself. I was raised a Catholic in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Although I left the Catholic church when I became a Christian, I learned much that was true about Jesus Christ as a child - that Jesus is God who became man, born of a virgin. That he never sinned, then died on a cross and rose from the dead. So I had some foundation laid for my later conversion.

In God's providence, when I was 14, my father just "happened" to be transferred to Indiana, PA, where I would later go to college. There I "happened" to meet a young lady who one year later, on a plane from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, would "happen" to meet an evangelist, who "happened" to be wearing a Jesus t-shirt that day, which got her attention. A couple months later, my girlfriend, leafing through the paper "happened" to see the evangelist's picture in the paper. He just "happened" to be speaking in a small rural retreat center near my home. She took me to the meeting, after which he led me in a prayer to receive Christ. He didn't explain repentance to me, so I continued in a sinful lifestyle for a year until another friend just "happened" to invite me to a bible study. The speaker, who just "happened" to be a substitute for the regular speaker, spoke on, you guessed it, repentance, and I turned wholeheartedly to Christ that night.

Recall the events God orchestrated to bring you to Christ. Savor the sweetness and give thanks.

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Posted by Mark Altrogge at 8:00 AM 2 comments  

World's Strongest Dad

9/23/2007

This video is incredible. Here's a father who takes his severely disabled son with him on every triathalon he runs. God let me be a dad like this!

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 9:44 AM 0 comments  

Things Not To Say To Your Wife When...

9/22/2007

She's pregnant:

  • "I just didn't realize that you would get so big!"
  • "I don't understand why you're so tired. You haven't done anything today."
  • "Well, you definitely look pregnant."

She's in labor:
  • "Come on, it's not that bad."
  • "You don't hear me complaining."
  • "I had a headache once that probably felt similar to this."
  • "Just breathe."

When she's leaving the hospital:
  • "Wow, you still look sort of pregnant."
  • "You know that tonight is Monday Night Football, right?"

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 8:48 AM 4 comments  

God's Grace and Baby Poop

9/21/2007

I've made an astonishing discovery in recent weeks: babies require a lot of time and work. To begin with, they produce large amounts of liquid from both ends of their bodies. Or in other words, they poop and puke like fountains. And they never seem to do it at the right times. In an ideal world, a baby would poop when its diaper was securely fastened about its bottom. But not my baby. She likes to go right in the middle of changing time, when her diaper is off and the world is hers to explode upon. A person in another room listening to me change Charis would hear, "Yes you're such a good girl, let's get this diaper off...whoa! Hey, not yet! Jen, get me something, quick!" And so we do lots of laundry, and change lots of sheets, and go through eight hundred diapers a day. A good portion of my time is spent helping my wife take care of Charis, which has led to me another not so astonishing discovery: I'm very selfish.

The truth is, I don't always like doing the hard work of caring for my little girl. Why? Because it takes away from my precious "me time". In my selfishness, I want some time to do the things I like to do. I want to relax, to take it easy, to have some down time. And frankly, when I think about maintaining this routine day after day, it gets to be a bit overwhelming. I don't have the strength to joyfully serve my wife and daughter for the next week, let alone the next month. I don't have the strength to die to myself and graciously care for my wife and daughter day after day. So I've discovered that I need the sustaining, powerful grace of God each day, each hour, each moment, to live a life that pleases Him.

I'm weak, and I desperately need grace, which makes the words of 2 Corinthians 12:9 very precious to me. Paul wrote:
But he [God] said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
How good it is to know that when I'm weak, Christ's power is strong. When I don't have the strength to continue serving, Christ's power is strong within me. When selfishness is raging within my heart, Christ's power is strong within me. And so I won't look beyond today. God will give me enough grace in each moment to live a life that pleases Him. Right now God hasn't given me the grace for tomorrow, but when tomorrow comes I know it will be there.

Are you aware of your need for God's sustaining, empowering, life-changing grace? Husbands, God is eager to give you the grace to serve your wife and family when you come home from a hard day at the office. Ask Him for that grace. Mom's, God is ready to dispense abundant grace each day to enable you to care for and raise your children for the glory of God. Students, there's grace for you too. When it seems that your life is overwhelmed by term papers and tests, there is sustaining grace available. But we must go to God every moment for this grace. We must fly to Him with our weaknesses, and He will sustain us by grace.

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Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 8:00 AM 2 comments  

Guest Blogger Coming Next Week

9/20/2007

I'm excited to announce that next week my dad, Mark Altrogge, is going to be guest blogging. After 25 years of faithful pastoral ministry, my dad is a deep well of godly wisdom and insight. I can't wait to read his posts.

Stay tuned!

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 2:17 PM 1 comments  

Surrender? Never!

I don't do well with losing. Actually, I hate it. There's something about it that just galls me. But what I hate even worse, is surrender. I hate just giving up. I hate the thought of being so overwhelmed and so overpowered by someone, that you just stop trying. That's why I love it when an underdog football team keeps fighting and comes back to beat a powerhouse football team. They never surrender, never give up, just keep fighting for the chance to win. When little known Appalachian State recently beat perennial powerhouse Michigan by blocking a last second field goal, that was glorious. Click here to see the video.

This hatred of surrender can cause some problems for me though. I don't always like surrendering to God. I don't want to give things up, don't want to let Him take full control. I want to do things my way, in my time, and according to my plan. And I think the prophet Isaiah may have felt the same way. That is, until he saw the blazing, overwhelming, glorious majesty of God. Listen to what he wrote in Isaiah 6:1-8
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!" And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!" Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for." Isaiah's Commission from the LORD And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."
Isaiah saw the glory of God and was utterly overwhelmed by his guilt. He knew, without any doubt, that he was completely and totally guilty, a wicked man standing before a holy God. Isaiah had no excuses for himself, no justification for his sin, and in light of this, he knew that he was doomed. But then God did the incredible. Instead of destroying Isaiah, as He should have, He purified him and atoned for his sin. Instead a crushing Isaiah, God forgave Isaiah and took away His guilt. And then God asked a question. He said, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Isaiah's response was immediate and passionate. "Here am I! Send me." Isaiah had seen God's blazing holiness and His tender love, and the only appropriate response was total surrender.

We too have seen God's blazing holiness and tender love. We were wicked, God-hating, hell bound sinners. We reveled in our sin, delighted in it, wallowed in it. We should have been annihilated by God. And yet He tenderly came to us, spoke gently to us, washed us clean with the blood of His son, and called us His children. Has there ever been such love?

The only appropriate response to such blazing holiness and tender love is wholehearted surrender. I must give my life unreservedly to this King of Love and Glory. Every area of my life - marriage, children, work, friends, hobbies, my future, my past - they all belong to Him. Is there any area of life that you have not surrendered to the King? Are you seeking to live in such a way that everything you do brings glory to God? Do your hobbies glorify God? Does your marriage glorify God? Does your work ethic glorify God? In light of all that God has done for us, let us resolve to completely surrender to Him.

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Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 8:38 AM 0 comments  

The Kiss Of Fire

9/19/2007

My first kiss was a special one. When I kissed my wife on my wedding day, it was the first time I had ever kissed her. I didn't really know much about kissing a girl, seeing as how I had never done it before, and it was the smoothest looking kiss, but it was worth the wait. We have a picture on our mantle of our first kiss, and I treasure that picture.

The prophet Isaiah received a kiss as well, but of a far different nature. He was kissed on the lips by a white-hot coal. The kiss he received was not a romantic kiss, it was a purifying, cleansing kiss. But it was a still a kiss of love, an evidence of the overwhelming love of God. Listen to Isaiah 6:1-8:
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!" And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!" Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for."
The moment Isaiah saw God, he was overwhelmed by his depravity. Just a glimpse of God's radiant glory made Isaiah deeply aware of his wickedness. Isaiah had no doubts that he was a guilty sinner, particularly in the area of speech. He was a man of unclean lips, a man with a filthy mouth. Isaiah was keenly aware of the wicked and vile words that had come from his mouth, and which were ultimately an overflow of his heart. Guilt, sorrow, and fear overwhelmed him.

But in His astonishing mercy, God does not allow Isaiah to wallow in His guilt. Rather than obliterating Isaiah as He should have, he forgives and purifies Isaiah. He sends a seraphim, armed with a burning ember, to touch Isaiah on the lips. God purifies Isaiah instead of killing him, purifies him with a kiss of fire.

Friends, we have also received this kiss of fire. We are wicked people with unclean lips. Take one minute and think back on the past week. How many foul things have come out of your mouth? Or how many foul things have you wanted to say that you kept in your heart? We are a wicked people who deserve the fiery wrath of God. And yet we have received mercy upon mercy and grace upon grace. God has repaid our curses with kindness, our wickedness with mercy. He nailed His son to the cross that atonement might be made for our sins, and in doing so, He made a way for us to be purified. He has given us the kiss of fire.

Lord, how can we not love such a merciful God? No one has been kinder than you, no one has given us more mercy. Fill our hearts with love for you today. Give us deep affection for you, the One who has atoned for our sin.

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Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 8:24 AM 3 comments  

J Mac - A Hoop Dream

9/18/2007

If you haven't seen this yet, you need to watch it. It chokes me up every time I see it. God exalts the humble!

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 3:10 PM 2 comments  

A Freaked Out Prophet

I've invented a game, and it's called "Blame Your Sin". Here's how the game works. Whenever you sin, think of someone else to blame your sin on. The goal of the game is to keep your "guilt meter" low, and the only way to do this is by blaming your sin on other people. I've become very good at this game in recent years. I was recently in a pastoral meeting, discussing an element of the Sunday meeting with the other pastors, Joe and my dad. I had one opinion, they had another. In my wicked pride, I was convinced that my way was the right way and that they were just being old fashioned. Turns out I was just being proud.

In His kindness God began to convict me of my sinful pride. And it was then that I began to play "Blame Your Sin". In my mind I began to justify my sin, blaming it on both Joe and my dad. I needed a sharp slap in the face to snap me out of it. I needed to see God as Isaiah saw God. Hear the words of Isaiah 6:1-5:
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!"And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!"
Isaiah caught one glimpse of the holiness of God and all blaming stopped. The moment he saw God, he became aware of his overwhelming, soul-defiling, filthy guilt. He made no attempt to blame his sin on someone else, no attempt to justify his sin, no attempt to make himself look less guilty. Isaiah knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that he was guilty, guilty, guilty, and he was certain that he was doomed. Isaiah's sense of guilt was so overpowering that he uttered a prophetic curse over himself, a curse normally used to declare the coming wrath of God on guilty sinners. Isaiah doesn't blame others, he curses himself.

When was the last time you saw your sin in light of God's blazing holiness? Are you tempted to justify your sin or to blame it on others? A true glimpse of the glory of God will silence our blaming tongues and cause us to curse our wretched souls. We will say with Paul, " Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" (Rom 7:24) And a true understanding of the gospel will cause us to fly to our Savior, the only one who can deliver us from the curse we deserve. We will rejoice with Paul, who said, "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

Let us fly to the Savior today, placing all our hope in the One who took our blame.

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 8:00 AM 2 comments  

Close Encounters Of The Divine Kind

9/17/2007

When was the last time you were violently afraid of something? When was the last time you were stricken with such panic that you literally trembled with fear? Or let me ask another question. Have you ever quivered with fear as you sat down to read your Bible? What about when you pray? Have you ever gotten queasy in the stomach before praying? If you're like me, this probably doesn't happen too often. In fact, I often come to God with a cavalier, almost flippant attitude. I allow myself to be easily distracted from scripture and I pray weak, insipid prayers. It's safe to say that there's not a lot of reverence going on.

That's why Isaiah 6:1-7 is so gripping to me. Isaiah describes an experience that is totally foreign to most Christians, including myself. Listen to his words:
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!" And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!"
Use your sanctified imagination to picture what is happening in this passage. Isaiah sees the Lord sitting on a throne, and the train of His robe fills the temple. What was it like to see the living, blazing, consuming, God sitting on a throne? Isaiah's heart must have melted with fear at the first glance. He was looking upon the King of Kings, the World Maker, the Sustainer of all things. Then Isaiah sees the seraphim flying about the throne, passionately declaring the holiness of God. What a glorious and frightening sound that must have been. The seraphim sang God's praises so loudly that the temple itself shook, and Isaiah probably felt compelled to join their proclamation and shut his mouth at the same time.

Isaiah's reaction was one of utter terror. He knew that he was looking upon the King of the universe, and he knew that those who saw God were sure to die. He was overwhelmed by the glory of God, overcome by God's sheer majesty. He was overwhelmed by his encounter with the divine. And this my friends, is the God that we serve. This is the God to whom we pray each morning, and the God to whom we sing on Sundays, and the God whose word we read so flippantly. We serve a God who is not tame by any means. He's a great, glorious, terrifying God. And yet because of the cross, He's also our Father. There is a way for wicked sinners like us to know the King of Glory. Let us draw near to Him today with a holy mixture of reverence and love. Through the blood of Jesus, let us worship our holy God with fear and trembling.

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Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 8:00 AM 2 comments  

Babies eating lemons

9/16/2007

I think I posted this before but in light of the birth of my baby it seems appropriate...

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 1:45 PM 1 comments  

Remedies For The Discontented Heart

9/15/2007

  • Go to God, your exceeding joy. Psalm 43:4 says, "Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy..." God is the source of all joy, deep joy, exceeding joy. When you're tempted to be discontented, run to God, the source of your joy. The temptation in discontentment is to do everything possible to change the circumstances. The single person thinks that being married will satisfy the problem. The person strapped budget thinks that a few extra dollars will fix things. The mom who is weary of caring for her children thinks that a little time off will solve things. But this will never solve the problem. In every circumstance our hearts will find something to be discontent about. The remedy for discontentment is to go to God and find our exceeding joy in Him. Go to God through prayer and plead for the grace of contentment. Go to God through His word and savor the promises of divine joy.
  • Confess your discontentment to God. As John Piper says, God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. When we are discontent, we're not satisfied in God, and thus God is not glorified. God is eager to glorify Himself, which means that He is eager to help you be content in Him. When you feel discontentment rising in your heart, immediately confess it to God as sin and ask Him to freshly satisfy your soul. Pray the prayer of Psalm 119:36, which says, "Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!" Apart from God you will never be satisfied, but by His grace you can experience deep, God-honoring joy.
  • Fly to the Savior. Friends, discontentment is a serious matter. When I'm discontent, I'm, saying that God is not enough for me. I'm saying that He can't satisfy me, and that the circumstances He has ordained are not good. This is sin of the most wicked kind. But praise be to God, we have a Savior. There is one man who was fully and completely content in God, and that man was Jesus Christ. He was punished in my place, crushed for my discontentment. Christ received the punishment that had my name written on it. How grateful I am for Jesus Christ, the one who secured my pardon and purchased my forgiveness. When you become aware of discontentment, confess it as sin and then fly to Jesus for forgiveness. His blood is powerful enough to make the foulest sinner clean.
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Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 11:16 AM 1 comments  

4 Symptoms Of A Discontented Heart

9/14/2007

Here are some signs that your heart may be sinfully discontent. I've come up with these simply by taking a look at my own life.

  • You're convinced that something other than God will make you truly happy. I've become discontent when I thought that if I only had a certain thing, I would truly be satisfied. Are you longing to be married, or to get promoted, or to have a bigger house, or to graduate from college, to the point where you are discontent with your current circumstances? The content person says, "I say to the LORD, "You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you." (Psalm 16:2)
  • You regularly find yourself grumbling and complaining. When I'm discontent, I grumble and complain. I feel that I deserve better, and that I'm being unfairly treated. In reality, I'm shaking my fist in God's face and saying, "This shouldn't be happening to me." The content person on the other hand, says, "Wherever God leads me is good, blessed be His name."
  • You lack thankfulness. When I'm discontent, I'm more aware of what I don't have than what I do have. If I truly understand the gospel, I should be content wherever God leads me. My sins deserve wrath and punishment, yet God has given me mercy. He has poured out blessing after blessing upon me, and calls me His child. Charles Spurgeon said, "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?" Let this attitude be ours as well.
  • You don't trust God. Oh how easy it is to forget God in the midst of trying circumstances. How easy it is to forget that we serve a sovereign God who ordains all things that come our way. How quickly we forget, "...that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (Rom 8:28) The content man or woman contentedly rests in the sovereignty of God, knowing that He is in control of every time the budget is tight, and every time work gets difficult, and every time it seems like marriage will never come. I need to rest in the the sovereignty of God. Do you?
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Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 8:55 AM 0 comments  

Quotes From The Master Of Contentment

9/13/2007

The best book ever written on the subject of contentment is "The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment" by Jeremiah Burroughs. Here are a few samples for your enjoyment:

The way of contentment to a carnal heart is only the removing of the affliction. O that it may be gone! 'No', says a gracious heart, 'God has taught me a way to be content though the affliction itself still continues.' There is a power of grace to turn this affliction into good; it takes away the sting and poison of it.
Of his fullness do we receive grace for grace; there is strength in Christ not only to sanctify and save us, but strength to support us under all our burdens and afflictions, and Christ expects that when we are under any burden, we should act our faith upon him to draw virtue and strength from him.
There is no condition that a godly man or woman can be in, but there is some promise or other in the scripture to help him in that condition. And that is the way of his contentment, to go to the promises, and get from the promise, that which may supply.
A heart that is full of grace and goodness within will bear a great many strokes, and it will never make any noise, but if an empty heart is struck it will make a noise.
Let us run to God today for grace to be content in every circumstance.

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 8:58 AM 2 comments  

My Heart Is A Liar, And Yours Is Too

9/12/2007

I was recently on the verge of insanity. During my recent hospital stay, I was confined to one room for three consecutive days and nights, and by the end I was on the edge of losing my mind. There's just something about being in the hospital that makes you go slightly crazy. The funny smells, the sterile walls, the dressing gowns that were obviously invented as a joke, and the endless hours of television. One can only take so much. So by the time Friday rolled around I was ready to go home, quite convinced that once I got home I would be happy and content. But now it's Wednesday, and I've come to realize that my heart lied to me. My heart can be just as discontent at home as it can at the hospital. I have to work much harder at home to take care of my family. I don't have nice, motherly nurses waiting on me hand and foot. I can't watch Sportscenter on ESPN because I don't have cable. I'm freshly seeing that contentment is not about circumstances, but about the heart.

The truth is, my heart lied to me about what would make me happy. It told me that a change in circumstances or a change in location would make me happy. But scripture is quite clear that only one thing can satisfy the soul, and that is God Himself. Psalm 16:11 says:
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Talk about explosive, counter-cultural, life-changing words. In God's presence there is fullness of joy, and at His right hand are pleasures. Throughout my life, my heart has told me that a change in my life would make me happy. Once I get married then I'll be happy. When I'm done with college I'll be happy. When I get a new job I'll be happy. When I retire, I'll finally be happy. It's one wicked lie after another. The truth is, contentment and joy are found in knowing God and being in His presence. Nothing else will ever satisfy my soul.

Are you believing the lies that your heart is telling you? Do you think that once you get married, or have kids, or send your kids to college, or pay off your mortgage, or get a new job, or have a better relationship with your spouse, that you'll finally be happy? It's a lie. Christ is the King of Joy, the only One that will ever satisfy your soul. If you want joy, spend time with Christ. Read and meditate on His words. Pray and ask Him to satisfy your soul. Repent of your discontentment and come once again to the fountain of joy. Join with me today in fighting the lies of discontentment.

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Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 12:23 PM 0 comments  

Happy When Head Is Pounding

9/11/2007

It's amazing what you learn when you have a baby. I've learned that three consecutive hours of sleep is a beautiful thing. I've learned that babies have an extraordinary poop to body-size ratio. I've learned that getting a shower by lunchtime is considered a good day. I've learned that the concept of 'free time' is tossed out the window. I've learned that I desperately need God's power to serve my wife and baby when I have a pounding headache and I'm running on fumes. Above all, I'm learning (not learned) the secret of contentment.

In Philippians 4:11-12 Paul says:
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
Notice that Paul said he learned how to be content. He wasn't born with a temperament given to contentment, and he wasn't just an easy guy to please. No, the apostle Paul had to learn the secret of contentment. And how did he learn this secret? By walking through the blistering heat of trials.

Paul learned how to be content when he was brought low. The phrase 'brought low' is a colossal understatement. Paul was beaten to a pulp, stoned and left for dead, whipped until his back was a bloody mess, thrown into filthy prisons, went without eating until his stomach pulsed with pain, and was persecuted wherever he preached the gospel. If anybody knew pain and suffering, it was Paul. And it was in these trials, that Paul learned to be content.

The truth is, we can't learn the glorious secret of divine contentment apart from trials. Trials are the crucible in which contentment is formed. They press us into God and make us desperate for His grace. They strip away our self-sufficiency and cause us to draw near to God for strength. Trials are designed by God to form contentment within us.

What trial are you currently enduring? What area of your life are you tempted to be discontent? Are you in the midst of a difficult job situation? Are you constantly caring for a sick person? Are you barely making it financially? It's through these situations that God wants to teach you the glories of divine contentment.

Oh how sweet it would be to be content in every circumstance! Let's draw near to God today and ask Him to teach us contentment. Let's ask Him to teach us what it means to be peacefully content in every situation of our lives.

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Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 1:16 PM 3 comments  

The Secret That Will Change Your Life

9/10/2007

Two thousand years ago a man discovered a secret of immeasurable value. He discovered a secret that changed his life forever, and that would radically change the lives of many who followed him. He discovered a secret that, to this day, is hidden from millions of people. Who was this man and what did he discover? His name was Paul, and he discovered the secret of contentment.

In Philippians 4:11-13 Paul writes:
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Friends, do you hear the radical, life-changing implications of these verses? In these words is the secret of contentment in all situations. Paul learned to be content in plenty and in hunger, in abundance and in need. In every situation and circumstance, Paul had learned the secret of contentment.

Where do you struggle to be content? Are you discontent with your current job situation? Are you unhappy at the fact that you're still not married? Is your budget stretched to the limit? Are you discontent due to a difficult trial you're currently enduring? If you're like me, you desperately need contentment.

So what is the secret of contentment? Contentment is not found in a change of circumstances. If you're not content in your current job, you won't be content in a new job. If you're not content as a single person, you won't be content when you're married. According to Paul, the strength to be content is found only in Christ. If you desire contentment, you must be close to Christ. The only way to be content in all circumstances, is to be strengthened by Christ Himself.

How do we receive the strength of contentment? By spending time with Christ through the word of God and through prayer. We simply won't be content if we're not spending regular time in the word of God and regular time in prayer. You won't be content in your job or with your current budget if you're not receiving daily strength from Christ.

So let's begin the pursuit of contentment today. Let's spend time with Christ today, confessing our discontentment and asking for strength to be content in every situation. Let's appeal to Christ, our glorious Savior, for strength to be content. He's eager to strengthen so that we might be content at all times and in all places.

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Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 11:32 AM 0 comments  

Dad's Changing Diapers

9/09/2007

Fortunately I don't struggle with this problem...

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 3:02 PM 1 comments  

Liveblogging A Baby: Pictures From The Week

9/08/2007

She melts your heart

Grandpa Mark meets baby Charis


One of the happiest moments of my life

Dad and Charis, face to face




We're finally home, safe and sound. Jen still has a headache but it's not as bad as it was yesterday. Thanks for praying for us.

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 12:01 PM 2 comments  

Liveblogging A Baby: Burnout Time

9/07/2007

I've come to the point where my brain has stopped working. After three (or is it four?) consecutive nights of little sleep, my mind no longer is functioning properly. It takes me longer to process simple thoughts, and with every decision, my mind feels like it's wading through molasses. I just want to go home and sleep for a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be getting much more sleep in the days to come.

We were planning on going home this morning until we realized that the pounding headache that has plagued Jen for the past three days was not due to a lack of caffeine, but the spinal she had before the c-section. So right now they're treating her for the headache by pumping lots of fluids into her and giving her a heavy-duty dose of caffeine, equivalent to ten cups of coffee. Even Starbucks can't match that. Hopefully we'll be home by this evening.

This morning I read in Philippians 4:11-13 where Paul says:
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Oh how I long to be like Paul, content in every situation. Content when I sleep, content when I don't sleep. Content to serve Jen as she recovers from the c-section, content to take care of my baby during the late watches of the night, content to stay in the hospital as long as necessary. Content when Charis is healthy, content when she's sick. Content at all times. But I need the strength of Christ to help me be content.

Join me today in asking Christ to help you be content in all situations. God wants you to be able to be content in all circumstances, but apart from Christ, that's impossible. So let's seek out Christ in every moment, asking for the grace to be content in every situation.

I'm off to the hospital again, wish me contentment!

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 2:23 PM 0 comments  

Liveblogging A Baby: Will My Baby Keep Breathing?

9/06/2007

Having a baby has caused me to realize how utterly helpless I am. As I lay in bed at night, dark fears slither into my mind, stealing both my peace and my sleep. Will she keep breathing? Will she eat enough? Will we know how to take care of her when we get home from the hospital? Will I hear her crying in the middle of the night? These and a thousand other black thoughts assault my mind on a regular basis.

As I've wrestled with these thoughts, I've come to realize that I'm completely helpless. I can't sustain Charis' life. I can't keep her heart beating, or her lungs breathing. I am unable to sustain her life, just as I'm unable to sustain my own life. Little Charis is fragile, and I'm unable to sufficiently protect her.

But there is one thing I can do: I can trust the only One who can sustain her. I have two options. I can trust in myself and be a fearful, miserable, sleepless wreck. Or I can trust in God, the maker of all things, to sustain little Charis. This morning I read Psalm 121:3-4 which says, "He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep." What comforting words! When I lay down to sleep, Charis is being kept by the One who never sleeps. God is keeping, and caring for, and watching over my sweet little girl. I must trust Him, or I'll never sleep.

Praise God that He is the One who keeps us! Friends, apart from the sustaining grace of God, we would be destroyed in an instant. But we serve a kind God who gives us the very breath we breathe. Let us lift out hearts in humble gratitude to Him today.

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 1:52 PM 0 comments  

Liveblogging A Baby: I've Never Felt Such Love

9/05/2007

Certain truths take on an entirely new dimension when a baby enters your life. 1 John 3:2 says, " Beloved, we are God's children now..." Before yesterday I knew what this scripture meant, at least in my head. Now I feel the intensity of this truth like I never have before.

Every time I hold my new baby, and intense, protective, fatherly affection rises in my heart. I treasure my new little girl, delight in her, can't wait to see her. Being woken up at 3 a.m. to help my wife feed her isn't drudgery, it's pure delight. I would do anything for this little girl. More than anything, I love this little girl with an intensity that is impossible to explain. She's never done a single thing for me, and yet I love her so very deeply. I love feeling her little fingers, and looking at her little eyes, and kissing her tiny head. Why? Because she is my child.

Friends, this is how our Father in heaven feels about us. He purchased us with the precious blood of Christ, and now He loves us with a fierce, passionate love. He delights in us, rejoices in us, even sings over us. He wants us to enter His presence. But there's one big difference between my love for Charis and God's love for us. Charis never hated me. She never rejected me, she never went her own way. We on the other hand, hated God. We despised Him, and wanted absolutely nothing to do with Him. Yet He saved us, and now He calls us His children. Such love is simply amazing! How can we fathom such affection?

Let your heart rejoice in the love of God your Father, for today He is rejoicing over you.

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 5:05 PM 4 comments  

Liveblogging A Baby: She's Here!

9/04/2007

Praise God! At 8 a.m. this morning my baby was pulled from the womb and entered the world. Never has the sound of crying been so sweet to me. She is doing beautifully.

Jen is doing well, although she is in a significant amount of pain. Please continue to pray for us as we navigate through the next couple of days.

As always, God is so good.

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 5:51 PM 4 comments  

Liveblogging A Baby: T Minus 12

9/03/2007

Charis is scheduled to be born at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow morning, which means that we must be at the hospital at the obscene hour of 5:00 a.m. But I know it's going to be worth it.

I'm not sure how much sleep I'll get tonight. I've got some pregame jitters, if you know what I mean, and I think that could make things rough. But there's nothing a good cup of Starbucks can't fix.

Lord willing, I'll be a dad in approximately 12 hours.

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 7:10 PM 4 comments  

On Tuesday A Miracle Will Happen

On Tuesday, September 4th, a miracle will happen: a new baby girl will enter the world. This miracle will be named 'Charis', which is the Greek word for 'Grace', and this miracle will bring much joy to her father and mother. And the sweetest news of all, is that this little miracle will be my daughter!

How do I know that Charis will be born on September 4th? Because in His kindness, God has given men the wisdom to invent a device that allows doctors to perform a sonogram and actually look at a baby before it's born. Our most recent sonogram showed that little Charis was comfortably settled on her side, making it impossible for her to be born naturally. Oh how grateful to God I am for sonograms! Had Charis been born 100 years ago, it's likely that both she and my wife Jen would have died during labor. But in His kindness, the Lord permitted the invention of the sonogram, and so I will be enjoy a birthday rather than a double funeral.

Because Charis is sideways, she will be removed from the womb via Cesarean Section. Oh the wisdom God has given to men! In the space of a few brief minutes, an incision will be made and Charis will be lifted from the womb, thoroughly cleaned, and then placed into my arms. I'm so grateful that God gave Mr. Cesarean (if that was his name) the wisdom to invent this baby-delivery procedure. If the C-Section had not been invented I would likely be experiencing grief instead of joy on Tuesday.

Jen and I are both nervous. We're entering new and uncharted territory. But we serve the God who invented sonograms and C-Sections, and I'm confident that He will care for us each step of the way. I'm not sure how much I'll be blogging this week. Maybe if I have some down time I'll put up a post. Please pray for Jen and me. Thanks!

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 8:28 AM 5 comments  

I Am Nothing

9/02/2007


O Thou Most High
It becomes me to be low in thy presence.
I am nothing compared with thee;
I possess not the rank and power of angels,
but thou hast made me what I am,
and placed me where I am;
help me to acquiesce in thy sovereign pleasure.

In my lostness thou has laid help on the Mighty One
and he comes between to put his hands on us both,
my Umpire, Daysman, Mediator,
whose blood is my peace,
whose righteousness is my strength,
whose condemnation is my freedom,
whose Spirit is my power,
whose heaven is my heritage.

Taken from Contrition, in The Valley of Vision



Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 7:42 AM 0 comments  

Humility Tips From C.J. Mahaney

9/01/2007

Taken from his excellent book "Humility", here are several practical suggestions as to how we might daily grow in humility.

  • Reflect On The Wonder Of The Cross - C.J. quotes Martyn Lloyd Jones who says:
There is only one thing I know that crushes me to the ground and humiliates me to the dust, and that is to look at the Son of God, and especially to contemplate the cross.
  • Begin Your Day Acknowledging Your Need For God - C.J. says:
Purpose by grace that your first thought of the day will be an expression of your dependence on God, your need for God, and your confidence in God.
  • Begin Your Day Expressing Gratitude To God - C.J. says:
Let each of us recognize every day that whatever grace we receive from God is so much more than we're worthy of, and indescribably better than the hell we all deserve.
  • Practice Spiritual Disciplines - He says:
I've found that it's possible for me to charge into my day motivated by self-sufficiency. But I've also learned that the very act of opening my Bible to read and turning my heart and mind to prayer makes a statement that I need God.
  • Seize Your Commute - C.J. encourages us:
For many of us, our commute is wasted every day. You can either get into mental ruts during this time, or seize your commute time as a means of grace to allow Scripture to transform your thinking.
  • Casting Your Cares Upon Him - He says:
Where there's worry, where there's anxiety, pride is at the root of it. When I am experiencing anxiety, the root issue is that I'm trying to be self-sufficient. I'm acting independent of God.

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 10:50 AM 1 comments