Stephen Dancing With His Daughter

11/30/2007

Here's a little glimpse into my home life. This is me dancing with my two and a half month old daughter. You can't teach moves like this...

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 10:08 PM 3 comments  

Joy In The Morning


How does your morning routine start? Mine proceeds according to the following steps:

- Alarm sounds at approximately 6:30 am, jerking me out of my peaceful slumber.

- Lay in bed for 3 to 5 minutes, wondering if I was hit by a large vehicle at some point during the night.

- Crawl out of bed and stumble my way into the shower.

- Begin internal monologue as I review the previous day and ponder the upcoming day. Anxiety, fear, or frustration set in as I remember all the troubles of yesterday and all the problems of the upcoming day.

- Make large cup of industrial strength coffee.

Do you notice the problem with this picture? Let me point it out for you: I begin my day by listening to myself instead of talking to myself. From the moment I fall out of bed in the morning my mind is churning. I think about unfinished projects at work, people I need to call, ways I sinned the previous day, ways I failed to care for my wife, upcoming events that I need to organize, strategies for improving my fantasy football team, and 10,000 other anxiety-inducing subjects. By the time I step out of the shower I'm already burdened by worry. I'm starting my day by listening to myself.

I should begin my day by reminding myself of God's truth, and responding to those truths in praise to God. I want my day to start with gratefulness to God. Here's what I want my morning to look like:

Lord thank you for sustaining me through the night. Thank you for the precious blood of Jesus, which makes me your child this morning. Thank you that I wake this morning, not under your wrath, but under your mercy. Thank you that you have new mercies for me this morning!

I praise your for your sovereignty. I praise you that today you are working all things for my good. I praise you that nothing can separate me from your deep, intense, abiding love. You have ordained all that happens today, and I will rejoice in whatever you bring my way.

Lord thank you for this hot shower, and for hot coffee, and for my wonderful house, and my job. These are all undeserved blessings. Fill me with gratefulness today. Let all I do today be for your glory.

How does your day start? Do you begin your day by listening to yourself or by reminding yourself of God's truth? Does your day start with anxiety or thanksgiving? Do you speak truth to your soul, or do you let your thoughts run free? Joy is found in meditating on and rejoicing in God's truth. Let's start our day with a good dose of truth. And a good dose of coffee.

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 8:00 AM 1 comments  

Napoleon Dynamite and the Faithfulness of God

11/29/2007

There are certain things that I can't change about myself. I need a solid 7 hours of sleep each night if I'm going to function at a semi-conscious level during the day. I believe the Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, and New York Yankees are a result of the fall. I like drinking coffee that's strong enough to double as paint stripper. I thoroughly enjoy the movie "Napoleon Dynamite". I always fold my pizza in half, length-wise, before I eat it. I'm slightly obsessive compulsive when it comes to brushing my teeth. I will never wear a Josh Groban t-shirt, or purchase a Josh Groban album. I'm sorry, that's just the way I am, and I don't plan on changing any time soon.

But there are many things about myself that I want to change. I'm arrogant and proud. I share the gospel infrequently at best. I crave the approval of others. I'm selfish, lazy, and self-centered. I'm a sinner who needs to change.

The problem is, it often feels like I'm never going to change. My sin seems like a vast, unconquerable mountain, or a virus that simply can't be killed. When I find myself sinning in pride for the 327th time this week, I can be tempted to despair. "I'm never going to change," says my heart. "I'm doomed to struggle with this sin for the rest of my life. I'll never make progress."

It's at these moments that I need to passionately proclaim the truth to myself. In Philippians 1:6 we read, "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." What a sweet promise from God. I can be assured that I will be changed into the image of Jesus Christ, not because of anything I'm doing, but because God will finish the work He began in me. God isn't like us. He doesn't let His projects go unfinished. He is a master architect who always finishes what He starts. God will finish the good work He began in me. By His grace I will overcome my pride, and selfishness, and laziness.

We must take this promise and use it as a hammer to smash despair. When it seems like change is impossible, we must preach Philippians 1:6 to our souls. We cannot allow despair and discouragement to rule us. We must fight to believe this verse until we really, truly believe it. God is at work, changing us, shaping us, and conforming us to Christ.

What's one area of your life where it seems like you will never change? Take Philippians 1:6 and apply it to that area. God will change you! He will help you overcome your sin. Why? Because God always finishes His projects.

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 8:00 AM 2 comments  

My Frightening Future

11/28/2007

I don't watch the news. I don't watch local news because it is mind-numbingly boring. I really don't care about the local woman who owns a cat named "Mr. Snuffy Wuffy", or about the elderly gentleman who won 2.3 trillion dollars in the Pennsylvania Lottery and decided to spend it all on beef jerky and Coca-Cola. I don't watch the national news because it's depressing, and sometimes quite scary. I don't enjoy hearing that North Korea has built up enough nuclear firepower to wipe out the Western hemisphere, or that Iran has decided to attack the United States and will be firing missiles at the White House sometime in the next few days. There's always a prophet of doom on the news, saying that our economic future is bleak, and that within a few short years all of us will be forced to wear nothing but burlap sacks. The news makes the future sound frightening.

I don't watch the news because I struggle with enough fear about the future. Will I have enough money to pay the bills? Will my little girl be healthy? Will I do well at my job? Each season of our lives is filled with opportunities to worry. We worry about getting into the right college, and getting good grades in college, and marrying the right person, and getting a decent job, and being good parents, and having healthy kids, and paying bills, and retiring, and finally dying. Worry is a temptation each of us face on a regular basis.

It's when we're worried that we must forcefully remind ourselves of God's truth. Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."

What a sweet promise for the Christian! Our future is bright and full of hope, and we can rest secure in God's plans for us. We must fight to believe this when we're tempted to worry about the future. When the finances aren't there,we must remind ourselves that God promises a future and a hope. When illness is our constant companion, we must thank God for our hope-filled future. When it seems like we're never going to get married and we're sinking into despair, we must shout this promise at our soul until it's power warms our heart. Don't let worry rule you. Fight the good fight of faith by clinging to these precious truths.

What's one area of life that you're currently worried about? As you go about your day, meditate on how Jeremiah 29:11 applies to that one area of your life. Be transformed by the power of God's word as you speak the truth to your soul.

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 8:00 AM 5 comments  

Dental Condemnation

11/27/2007

I hate dental visits. In fact, dentists frighten me (no offense to any dentists), and are ranked number three on my frightening people list, just behind car salesman and mimes (don't ask). A trip to the dentist's office is a trip into the land of pain. First they jab your teeth with their little pick axe. Then they go in with their high-powered roto-tiller toothbrush, determined to turn your grimy yellows into pearly whites. Finally they whip out the dental floss, invading every nook and cranny of your mouth with that ghastly piece of string, causing small trickles of blood to flow between your teeth. And of course your mouth is hanging open during this whole process, yet you can't swallow, resulting in large pools of spit collecting in the back of your throat.

But the worst part is the interrogation that takes place after the cleaning. They always ask if you floss regularly (I believe the ADA recommends flossing between 16 and 18 times a day), which we don't. I floss approximately three times per year, and it's always after I eat corn on the cob. At no other point will you see floss enter my mouth. And so we walk away from the dental office feeling like a complete dental failure. We've failed to meet the standard set by our dentist.

Unfortunately there are many times when I bring my dentist mentality into my relationship with God. As a Christian, I must live by God's standards. I seek to read my Bible and pray on a regular basis. I fight to kill the sinful desires that are within my heart. I make every effort to love and serve my wife. I try to be humble and teachable.

But the painful truth is, I fail to keep God's standards. In fact, I'm not even close. Instead of rising early to read my Bible, I decide to sleep and extra 30 minutes. Instead of serving my wife, I serve myself. Instead of pursuing humility, I give in to pride and arrogance. I don't just miss the mark, I completely miss the target.

When I fail to meet God's standard, I feel condemned. I feel like God is just barely tolerating me, like He's cold towards me, like He doesn't particularly like me anymore. This condemnation weighs me down, stealing my joy and robbing me of my peace.

It's in these moments that I need to speak the truth of the gospel to myself. I need to grab my soul by the ears and remind it of 1 Timothy 1:15, which says, "The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost." I can't allow myself to wallow in condemnation and discouragement. I must fight for faith in the truth that Christ Jesus died for all my sins, and that God delights in me because of the cross. I must speak this truth to myself, and thank God for this truth, and rejoice in this truth until my heart believes every word of it. The gospel is the antidote to condemnation.

Do you experience condemnation when you fail to meet God's standards? If so, you need to preach the gospel to yourself. Preach it until you believe it with both your head and your heart. Don't allow condemnation to rule you. Fight the good fight of faith by believing the gospel.

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 8:00 AM 3 comments  

Interrogating Your Soul

11/26/2007

I see a man around town from time to time who is always talking to himself. Unfortunately, I believe this man suffers from mental illness, and it's a strange, sad sight to see him pacing back and forth on the street corner, with an intense look on his face, muttering words under his breath. I'm not sure if he's talking to himself, or to some imaginary companion, and I don't know if he hears the other side of the conversation. Either way, it's an odd sight. But I've come to a realization: I want to be more like the street corner man.

The Psalmist was a little bit like street corner man too. In Psalm 42:5 we read, "Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation."

Do you notice what's going on in this verse? The Psalmist is discouraged and feels turmoil within his soul. The difficulties of life are weighing him down, like a great weight upon his chest, depressing his soul and sucking the joy from him. He was down in the dumps. I can relate to this, and I think you can too.

But the Psalmist isn't content to wallow in his discouragement. He won't allow his feelings, and fears, and doubts to steal his joy. And so he begins to interrogate his soul. Can you hear him talking out loud to himself? Can you hear him performing his soul interrogation? "Hey Soul, why are you so down? What's the deal? What are you so discouraged about?"

Notice though that the Psalmist doesn't spend a lot of time trying to figure out why he feels discouraged. Instead he starts talking to himself, addressing his soul. He begins to speak the truth of God to himself. He says, "Hey Soul, hope in God. Enough of this discouragement. I'm not going to listen to you anymore. We are now going to hope in God, because we will praise Him." The Psalmist refuses to listen to his discouraging thoughts, and instead speaks truth to himself.

I want to be like the Psalmist. My tendency is to listen to myself far more than I talk to myself. I listen to my discouraging thoughts, and fears, and doubts. What I should be doing is reminding myself of God's truth. A good dose of truth is the antidote to discouragement.

What's one area of your life where you feel discouraged? What is one truth about God that you can speak to yourself when you feel discouraged? As you go about your day, ponder these questions, and ask God to help you be like the man on the corner.

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 8:00 AM 1 comments  

8 Signs That You've Eaten Too Much At Thanksgiving

11/24/2007

Men, wondering if you've indulged a little too much during your Thanksgiving dinner? Here are some top signs that you have:

  • At any point during dinner you use the phrase, "I really shouldn't but..."
  • After dinner you change into sweatpants
  • Your sweatpants don't fit
  • You're sweating...Cool Whip
  • You would use any of the words to describe the way you feel: bloated, ballooned, or blimpy
  • Your mother feels compelled to tell everyone that you're big boned
  • You find yourself licking out any form of food container
  • You eat leftovers...on Thanksgiving

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 9:23 AM 4 comments  

Hard Thoughts of God

11/23/2007

One night a few months ago I expressed to my wife Kristi that I was feeling overwhelmed. At that time she asked me an incisive question: "What are you believing about God right now?" This is a brilliant question to ask any time you are feeling disquieted in spirit, or anytime you're feeling depressed or discouraged.

I answered Kristi, "Well, if I am feeling overwhelmed, I guess I'm believing that God is giving me too much to bear. I guess I'm believing that God won't be faithful to help me. Which in essence means I guess I'm believing that God has lied to me and is not good."


Kristi's question revealed that I was thinking hard thoughts of God.

Many Christians think hard thoughts of God by believing their heavenly Father is continually disappointed with them. This reveals a deficient grasp of the Gospel, which tells us that in Christ God sees believers as justified -- "just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned," and "just-as-if-I'd-always-perfectly-obeyed". In other words, because of the blood of Christ God declares us not guilty, and because of the obedience of Christ God declares us to be positively righteous. Our heavenly Father looks upon his children with overflowing love, gentleness and compassion, not disappointment, anger and frustration. If we think that God is continually disappointed in us that is thinking hard thoughts of God.

John Owen says, "Consider that it is the greatest desire of God the Father that you should have loving fellowship with him. His greatest desire is that you should receive him into your soul as one full of love, tenderness and kindness to you. Flesh and blood is apt to think hard thoughts of God, to think that he is always angry and incapable of being pleased with his sinful creatures, that it is not for them to draw near to him...'I knew that you were a hard man', said the evil servant in the Gospel."
(Communion with God, 31)

When we suffer and go through trials we can be tempted to think hard thoughts of God. We can think God is not good, God is not faithful, God does not hear my prayers, God does not have loving intentions toward me.


But the Bible is filled with promises like Lamentations 3:21-23:

"But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."


What are you believing about God right now? Do you have hard thoughts of God? Or do you believe your heavenly Father is filled with love and tender feelings for you? Do you believe he delights in you and rejoices over you with singing (Zeph. 3:17)? Do you believe he is good and working all things together for your good? Do you believe his steadfast love to you never ceases? Meditate today on God's tender love for you in Christ and give him praise.

photo by Beth Altrogge

Posted by Mark Altrogge at 8:00 AM 6 comments  

Thanksgiving: A Cup of Coffee Would Save my Life

11/22/2007

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits - Psalm 103:2

Thanksgiving is a day to remember all God’s benefits and blessings. In Christ believers receive innumerable spiritual blessings and benefits. Who can calculate all God’s kindnesses and mercies to us in Jesus? Forgiveness, justification, fellowship with God, joy inexpressible and full of glory, the hope of seeing Christ’s face are but a few of his incredible blessings.

Thanksgiving is also a day we can thank God for his “common grace”. Common grace is the kindness God shows to all men, saved and unsaved. “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good" (Mt. 5:45).
I recently read a story of God’s mercy in the Mexican war in 1846. It is recounted in the book Blood and Thunder by Hampton Sides.

General Stephen Watts Kearny led a force of 100 dragoons to fight against a few hundred Mexican caballeros led by Capt. Andres Pico in the Battle of San Pasqual. The dragoons were confident their guns would decimate the Mexicans who were armed primarily with lances, but discovered in the heat of battle that their ammunition had gotten damp during the night, and their guns wouldn’t fire. The Mexican lances shredded the Americans. The Americans who escaped camped on a hill called Mule Hill surrounded by the enemy, awaiting reinforcements.


Sides says that many were wounded and “had developed gangrene or horrible infections in the deep punctures left by the lances.” Then he tells this story which displays God’s mercy to a dying soldier.


One member of the party, a French trapper named Robideaux who had lost a great amount of blood was hovering near death. The men had more or less written off the poor fellow, who in his death agonies kept hallucinating that he smelled coffee—a luxury no one traveling with Kearny had seen or tasted in months. “Don’t you smell it?” Robideaux beseeched them. “A cup of coffee would save my life!”


Everyone knew that the mountain men were all inveterate coffee addicts—especially the French—so Lieutenant Emory believed that the doomed man was simply exercising a final Gallic nostalgia before passing on to his reward. “I supposed a dream had carried him back to the cafes of St. Louis and New Orleans,” Emory said.


But he was soon shocked to find that Robideaux was right—somewhere in the camp a cook was indeed heating up a cup of coffee over a sagebrush fire. Emory went over and persuaded him to give it up to the dying Frenchman. Says Emory: “One of the most agreeable little offices performed in my life, and I believe in the cook’s , was to pour this precious draught into the waning body of our friend Robideaux. His warmth returned, and with it hopes of life.” Robideaux soon recovered and swore for the rest of his days that he owed his life to coffee.” (p. 164)


I love this story. In his mercy, God gave a dying French trapper a cup of coffee and many more days of life. As you’re enjoying your Thanksgiving feast today thank God for his kindness in saving you through the blood of Jesus, and thank him for his common grace and goodness in giving us blessings like food and drink. I know that after I finish my turkey, I’ll cry out to my wife Kristi, “A cup of coffee would save my life!”

photo: Beth Altrogge

Posted by Mark Altrogge at 8:00 AM 1 comments  

Our Singing God

11/21/2007

Mr. Kazbark never liked me much from the moment he hired me to be the summer maintenance lackey at his Ocean City, New Jersey hotel. True, I was pretty much a lazy, hippie college student essentially squandering my summer in Ocean City, only working to get enough money to sustain life and have fun. True, I really didn't know how to do anything even remotely related to maintenance and I moved slightly slower than a three-toed sloth. So there was not a lot for Mr. Kazbark to like about me other than my sparkling personality. But I always found ways to provide more fodder for his disgust.

One afternoon he called me into his office and told me to go up to a room on the second floor, remove an air-conditioner the size of King Kong, then using a dolly, bring it down the outside cement steps and place it in one of the first floor units.

"I can't do that," I protested, "it's too heavy." I know he thought I was just being lazy. "Just do what I say," Mr. Kazbark barked.


Straining every fiber in my being, I managed to muscle the massive air-conditioner out of its hole in the wall and onto the dolly. The thing weighed slightly less than a grand piano. Somehow I managed to maneuver it to the top of the cement stairs. How was I ever going to get it down? I shuffled around the side and with one hand under the air-conditioner and one hand gripping the dolly, began perilously rocking it from side to side, sliding it down the first step of about 20. Suddenly the air-conditioner launched itself into the air, bouncing down the steps in slow motion -- nuts, bolts, coils and other unidentifiable parts flying off in all directions. I'll never forget the sight. It was beautiful, in a twisted sort of way.

Like I said, Mr. Kazbark never liked me much. But after that, every time he looked at me I couldn't help but think he regarded me as a life form somewhere between a cockroach and a garden slug.

How does Christ look upon his children whom he purchased with his blood? With delight or disgust? With pleasure or annoyance? Is he like the character from Jane Austen, "Mr. Darcy, who never looks at any woman but to see a blemish”? Does Jesus never look upon us but to see our failures, shortcomings and sins?

Zepheniah 3.17 says:

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save;

he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;

he will exult over you with loud singing.

What an amazing Scripture. Christ looks upon his children with utter delight. He actually rejoices over us with gladness. He’s happy with us. He’s glad he saved us. He’s so delighted in us he sings loud songs over us. Wow. What does that sound like? I can’t wait to hear Jesus singing.


God’s delight in us originated in his own heart in eternity past. He loved us with an everlasting love. Not because we were lovable or worthy or desirable, but simply because he chose to love us for his own reasons. The Father's love moved him to send Jesus to live and die for sinners, that he might bring us to himself, wash away our sins and clothe us with the beautiful garment of Jesus’ righteousness.

God rejoices over us, exults over us, jubilates, is elated over us. He doesn’t just tolerate us - he sings loud songs over us. Meditate on this wonderful truth this week and give thanks to our loving King.

O Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, thank you for your love for me today. Thank you that you sing over me in love.

Posted by Mark Altrogge at 8:00 AM 2 comments  

My Mickey Mouse Hammer

11/20/2007

I once did a brief stint working construction. My boss was a bear of a man who slept with his tool belt and hard hat on. He had a perpetual chew in his mouth and spoke to me only when absolutely necessary, usually in grunts.

On my first day a truck delivered huge prefabricated walls for the second story of an apartment building. We had to set them on the deck and nail them to the floor, then together at the corners. I noticed that I was pounding each spike approximately 35 times to sink it, whereas the other guys did it in two strokes. My boss, standing down on the ground, noticed too.


“Toss me that hammer,” he ordered, bristling with all the warmth of Jabba the Hutt. I tossed it down to him. He examined it with utter disdain. “Where’d you get this Mickey Mouse hammer?” he sneered. All the crew’s eyes were on me. Trying to inject a little humor into the situation I replied, “Disney World.” Somehow my boss failed to see the humor in my comment, despite it being the funniest comeback in the world. The rest of the crew stood there mutely, like pall bearers at a graveside service. My boss gave me a withering glare and spat, “This is a finishing hammer. Take this little girl's hammer home and get yourself a 20-ounce framing hammer.” Suddenly the crew erupted, guffawing and yammering as if my boss had told the funniest joke in the 20th century. Yeah, even the aborigines in the remotest parts of Australia know the difference between a finishing hammer and a framing hammer. Week-old babies know the difference. Garden slugs know the difference. That’s so hilarious.


Throughout the rest of my short construction career, my boss always looked at me with as much delight as he would while examining a plantar wart on his foot.


Is this how God looks at his children? Is this how Christ looks on his bride? Or does he look up from his desk full of papers, peering over the top of his glasses, stifling his annoyance and disappointment, growling in a gruff tone, “What do you want now?”


Paul gives us some insight when he exhorts husbands, “He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.” (Eph 5.28-30).


Did you catch the word “cherishes”? Christ cherishes his bride. To cherish means to take joy in, delight in, treat as dear, care for tenderly. If you have a cherished family heirloom, you take pleasure in it, treasure it, prize it.


I’ve known people who have inherited their grandmother’s china. They put it in a special cabinet. They don’t use it for everyday meals. They don’t put hot dogs on it and stick it in the microwave. It’s different from all their other china. They handle it carefully. They cherish it. A friend of mine was given a document signed by Charles Spurgeon, the famous 19th century preacher. He had it framed and displays it in a prominent place in his home. He doesn’t leave it out on the table, to set his coffee cup on. He prizes it, cherishes it.


Jesus cherishes his bride. If you’re a believer, you’re part of his bride. This means Jesus cherishes you, because of his free love that moved him to shed his blood to purchase you. He takes pleasure in you and delights in you. Joy rises in his heart when you come to him. His eyes light up with love. We should always think of Jesus as being full of love to us. Meditate this week on Jesus’ steadfast, tender, affection for you, and respond to his love with gratefulness and praise.


O Jesus, thank you for your cherishing love for me. I love you, worship and adore you.

Posted by Mark Altrogge at 8:00 AM 4 comments  

Disappointed or Delighted?

11/19/2007

How does God look at you?

Let’s take a simple test. How would you answer the following question: When Jesus Christ looks at me, he:

1.Feels slightly disappointed.
2.Feels angry at me and wants to punish me.
3.Feels annoyed. Thinks, why can’t you get it right? How long do I have to put up with you?
4.Feels genuine pleasure in me.
5.Feels tender affection and love for me.
6.Delights in me.

Over the years many fellow believers have told me they believe in their head that God loves them, but have nagging doubts that he really finds them pleasing in his sight. Many of us are like the servant who buried his talent in the ground, who said, “Master, I knew you to be a hard man.” We think of God as a “hard man” who scrutinizes us for every flaw. We think of him as shaking his head in disappointment and saying, “Is this the best you can do for me?” We’re so aware of our shortcomings and sins we can’t believe that Jesus could possibly take pleasure in us.

But Christ’s love for those he redeemed is the tender, cherishing, delighting love of a husband for his bride. Paul exhorts husbands to “love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:25). Christ loved his bride so much he eagerly left heaven to endure poverty, hunger, weariness and thirst to redeem her. He was glad to be rejected, mocked, tortured, crucified, and drink God's foaming cup of wrath to purchase us, his bride, with his own blood (Acts 20:28).

Genesis tells us that Jacob so delighted in Rachel, he was glad to work for seven years to obtain her as his wife: “So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her” (29:20). Jesus’ ardor for his bride is infinitely greater than Jacob’s. Jesus didn’t grouse and grumble about coming for her – he rejoiced, even though it meant he’d endure infinite pain.

Every believer is a part of Christ’s bride. As Jesus delights in his bride, he delights in every believer individually. If you have trusted in him as your Savior and God, he regards you with fondness, affection and pleasure. This love originated in the Father's heart and his own heart in eternity past and has nothing to do with anything desirable in you. He simply loved you with an everlasting love. Then he redeemed you with his blood, and clothed you in the bridal gown of his righteousness. And now as his bride, he yearns for you and rejoices over you.

Do you believe Jesus sees you this way? He does. He cherishes you. He’s glad he redeemed you. He can’t wait for you to see his glory and be with him face to face. He eagerly looks forward to the marriage feast of the Lamb, when your fellowship with him will be complete and unhindered.

Meditate this week on Jesus’ cherishing love for you. Doing so will produce gladness in your heart, love for Jesus, and anticipation of heaven.

O Jesus, thank you for your tender, affectionate, cherishing love for me. I love you and delight in you, and want to love you even more.

Posted by Mark Altrogge at 8:00 AM 0 comments  

A Picture So Cute You Must Say "Aaaah"

11/17/2007

My dad and my daughter. Melts your heart, don't it?

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 11:32 AM 5 comments  

Do You Ever Wonder Why?

11/16/2007

When was the last time you asked why? There are some serious mysteries in the universe that we take for granted. For example:

Why does ibuprofen work? Have you ever looked at two of those brown little pills and wondered, "How do you guys work? How do you know where my pain is?" Ibuprofen is a deep mystery.

Why is Kenny G so popular? This is a profound mystery that I don't believe will ever be explained. Perhaps a Kenny G fan would care to comment.

Why are baby clothes so expensive? This one baffles me. I was recently at the shoe store and saw a pair of baby shoes that were approximately two inches long. Yet somehow they managed to cost as much as the shoes I was buying.

Why are the Rolling Stones still doing concerts? The combined age of Mick Jaegger and Keith Richards is 432. You do the math. Why are they still on tour?

These are stupid questions. There is one question however, that is a true and profound mystery. Why did Christ show mercy to me? Why am I the recipient of God's mercy? Why would God choose to show mercy to me, and not my next door neighbor? Why would Christ come looking for me, and not one of my close friends? This is a mystery of divine proportions.

Titus 3:3-5 says, "For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit..."

We were foolish, disobedient, slaves to sin. We hated God, and we despised one another. We weren't looking for God, we were running from Him. We didn't deserve mercy, we deserved wrath.

But then the goodness and kindness of God appeared. Do you remember the sweet day when God showed his mercy to you? Do you remember when Christ came looking for you? Do you remember when God began drawing you to Himself, winning your heart with His mercy? Why would God do this? Why would He show you mercy? This is a glorious, beautiful, wonderful mystery.

We are surrounded by those who have not yet received mercy. Many of our close friends have not experienced the mercy of God. Why have we received it? Today, let your heart be filled with gratitude for the mercy of God. Let your heart overflow with deep affection for God, the One who poured out His mercy upon you. Today, take some time to ask, "Why?"

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 8:00 AM 3 comments  

Tips For Ladies Watching Sports

11/15/2007

Okay ladies, we're right in the middle of football season, so here are some tips on things not to do when you're watching sports with your husband, boyfriend, or any person of the male gender for that matter.

- Do not say that you are rooting for a certain team because you like the color of their uniforms.

- Do not say the phrase, "Get the ball!" at any point...ever.

- It's not a good idea to attempt any conversation that goes deeper than, "Do you want more nachos?"

- When your husband's favorite team loses, it's not very helpful to say, "Well at least they tried hard."

- When you see a fan holding up a "D" and a picket fence, don't ask, "What's D-gate mean?"

- When one player tackles another player particularly hard, don't say, "That was mean!"

- When the opposing team loses, avoid expressing the fact that you "feel bad for them".

- When watching football, don't ask if anyone hit a home run.

If you follow these simple guidelines, you will serve the men in your life. Thank you.

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 9:07 PM 11 comments  

When the Light Stopped

Blackness has been your constant companion. For years you have sat by the road, wallowing in your poverty, wallowing in your blackness. You haven't seen the sun, or a cloud, or a tree, or another human face in years. The blindness has robbed you of your dignity, forcing you into a life of roadside begging and humiliating poverty. Everyday you stumble down to the road and ask for the charity of others, begging for coins from those passing by. A few stop and press a coin into your hand, others curse you as they pass by, nobody likes you. And why should they? You have nothing to offer them. You can't offer friendship, or money, or even a pleasant smile. You're a filthy, dirty, helpless, hopeless beggar. All your days blend together into one, endless, miserable night.

That is until the day The Light comes looking for you. You're sitting by the roadside, pleading for alms, when you hear many voices. A crowd is passing by. Who is it? A king, a dignitary? You call out, "What's happening? Please someone tell me what's happening!"

"It's Jesus of Nazareth," says a voice. "He's coming this way." Jesus of Nazareth! You've heard of this man. He casts out demons, and raises dead people, and even heals the blind. But will he stop for one so lowly as you? Will he take notice of a dirty, blind beggar who has nothing to offer? You can't offer him money, nor can you offer him service. You must throw yourself on his mercy.

"Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me," you scream at the top of your lungs. Over and over you cry out, pleading for the mercy of Jesus. Those in the crowd tell you to shut your mouth, that Jesus isn't interested in beggars, that Jesus has more important things on his mind. Maybe they're right, but your desperation forces you to continue your earsplitting plea for mercy.

Then the crowd is silenced, and you sense a change in the light, as if someone is standing in front of you. Sweet mercy, Jesus has stopped! You hear him say, "What do you want me to do for you?"

With a passion born from years of darkness, you cry out, "Lord, let me recover my sight." Jesus speaks, light floods into your eyes, and you find yourself gazing into the face of mercy itself. Oh what joy fills your heart! After years of darkness, you can see! The King stopped for you, and poured out his mercy on you. Gratefulness, love, and thanksgiving overflow out of your heart. You must follow Jesus, no matter where he goes. He stopped for you, and so you will follow Him. [Taken from Luke 18:35-43]

***

Do you remember when the Savior stopped for you? Do you remember when Jesus first opened your blind eyes to the glories of the gospel? O what sweet mercy we have received from Jesus. Let us be like this blind beggar, and joyfully follow the one who gave us our sight. Let us rejoice today that The Light came looking for us.

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 8:00 AM 0 comments  

Things I've Learned About Babies

11/14/2007


Here are some things I've learned about babies since becoming a dad two months ago. I'm writing these as I look at my baby girl.

  • Babies can and will eject large volumes of material from either end of their bodies at will. And there's always more where that came from.
  • Babies pass gas loudly and passionately at inopportune times, such as the middle of one of grandpa's sermons.
  • The more you want to relax the harder your baby will cry. That's just the way it works. Deal with it.
  • Babies make grown men do irrational things, such as talk in falsetto voices and say things like, "Awww, is my wittle girl sweepy?"
  • There is a one in three chance that your baby will urinate as you are trying to give it a bath, forcing you to restart the bathing process from the beginning.
  • Nothing is cuter than a baby sneezing.
  • Except a baby smiling.
  • Everybody wants to hold a baby. If a man were to charge one dollar for every time someone wanted to hold his baby, he would be a millionaire in a little less than three hours.
  • Being a dad is the greatest thing in the world.
I love my family!

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 6:38 PM 1 comments  

A Demon Infested Tomb Wanderer

You can break chains but you're not free. You're a slave. A miserable, demon infested, self-mutilating slave of Satan. How long has it been since you tasted joy? How long has it been since you laughed? You spend your days wandering among the dead, screaming out in agony, and slashing your body with stones. Occasionally a glimmer of sanity returns and you realize what a monster you've become, but the sanity is soon swallowed up by the demons. It's in these brief moments of sanity that you realize how desperate you are. Oh what you would give to be free! To see your family again, to laugh with friends again, to live a normal life. But you're a hopeless slave, unable to conquer the vast legion of blackness within you.

But on one particular day something extraordinary happens: someone comes looking for you. No one has ever come looking for you. You are a terror to those around you, a horror to be avoided at all costs. People don't look for you, they run from you. But this man is different. He has come across the sea, looking for you.

As he steps from the boat, your insides begin to rip apart. The legion of demons within you is making every effort to flee, yet you feel yourself irresistibly drawn to the stranger from across the sea. A power greater than Satan himself is drawing you down to the shoreline.

You stumble down to the shoreline and fall at the feet of the stranger. The stranger speaks to you, or rather to the demons within you, saying, "Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!" The words carry absolute, world-making, spirit-commanding authority. The demons within you are in an absolute panic. They have no choice but to obey this man.

Like whimpering children, the demons plead with this man, this Jesus, not to torment them, but to send them into a herd of pigs. Jesus agrees, and in a mighty rush you feel the blackness leave your body. Your mind clears, your eyes focus, and you find yourself kneeling at the feet of Jesus, the mighty demon conqueror. Your tormentors have been vanquished and you have been set free. You're no longer a slave to the powers of darkness. When you were helpless, Jesus came looking for you. The mercy of Jesus overwhelms you.

You're willing to do anything for this man who delivered you from darkness, and you beg Jesus to let you follow him. But Jesus has other plans for you. He says, "Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you." And so for the rest of your days you passionately tell the story of Jesus the savior, your savior. You tell them of the mercy that Jesus showed to you, a demon infested tomb wanderer. [Taken from Mark 5:1-20]

***

Do you remember when Jesus came looking for you? Do you remember the mercy that He showed you when you were a helpless slave of Satan? Let us thank our Savior today for the mercy that we've received.

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 8:00 AM 0 comments  

Stoning A Woman To Death

11/13/2007

You feel shame. Burning, hot shame. The shame of cheating on your husband, and the shame of being caught. The shame of being dragged by the Pharisees into the temple and having your wickedness exposed for all to see. The Pharisees encircle you, like ravenous wolves surrounding a wounded animal. They stab their fingers at you and level accusation after shameful accusation. They don't want your repentance, they want your blood. They have brought you before a teacher named Jesus, and they are requesting your execution.

You will die, you feel quite certain of that. You have broken the sacred laws of God, and the penalty for such a transgression is death by stoning. Your death will not be a noble one. It will be a shameful, brutal, excruciating death, as the life is slowly beaten out of your body one stone at a time. Your case is hopeless. You're an adulterer, and adulterers die by the rock. You're getting what you deserve.

But then the unexpected happens. Instead of demanding your immediate death, as he should have, Jesus bends down and begins to write in the dirt. You're perplexed, the Pharisees are perplexed, no one knows what is happening.

The Pharisees raise their voices once again, asking Jesus to order your execution. Jesus stands up, and the Pharisees get a glimpse of the writing on the ground. Their eyes widen, their jaws drop. Then Jesus speaks: "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." Jesus resumes writing on the ground. The Pharisees begin to look at the ground and shuffle their feet nervously. All accusations have stopped and silence reigns supreme.

Then, to your astonishment, the crowd begins to disperse. The older Pharisees leave first, each with a look of guilt on his face. The rest of the Pharisees follow suit, and soon you are left alone with the man called Jesus. Yet you are still afraid. This man is not like the rest. He is without sin, he has the right to pick up the first stone. But then he looks at you, and in his glance you see not fierce anger, but tender mercy.

He asks you a question: "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

"No one Lord," you reply.

"Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more." Your heart bursts with joy! You are not condemned. You have been given mercy, you have been spared from the terrible punishment that you deserve. How merciful is this man Jesus! At that moment you resolve to follow this man for the rest of your days. You've received much mercy from God, and so you will love God deeply. And you'll always give thanks to God for the day you met Jesus, the King of Mercy. [Taken from John 8:1-8]

***

You and I are no different from the adulterous woman. We deserve to be condemned for our sins, yet we've received the extravagant mercy of Jesus. We must lift our voices in praise to this merciful savior! Today let your heart be filled with gratefulness to God for the mercy you've received.

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 8:00 AM 3 comments  

The Man No One Would Touch

11/12/2007

Imagine yourself in a world where contact with other humans is forbidden. In this world you are not allowed to embrace your father in a hug or gently kiss your mother on the cheek. You can't hold the hand of your wife or kiss the forehead of your daughter. There are no hearty back slaps, no firm hand shakes, not even the slightest touch from person. In fact, you are completely and totally isolated. You haven't seen your family in years, haven't been able to tell your wife how much you love her, haven't been able to laugh with your children. You are alone and you are so lonely that it hurts. You are a leper.

The leprosy is slowly destroying your body. It's a death by inches, as your flesh slowly, and painfully rots away. You have no hope of recovery. Death is certain. No one will come near you, both out of fear and revulsion. You understand the feeling, because when you see your own reflection you feel the same revulsion.

But then you hear of man who does the incredible: he heals lepers. You feel that you must meet this man, the one they call Jesus, and for the first time in years you feel the slightest glimmer of hope. And so with all the desperation of a dying man, you set out to find this Jesus, the leper healer.

Finding Jesus isn't difficult, you simply follow the massive crowd. Yet you are afraid to approach him. How will he respond when he sees a filthy, wretched leper in front of him? Will he cast you away, as all others have done? You have no choice but to approach him.

You run towards Jesus and fall at his feet, crying out, "If you will, you can make me clean!" You hear cries of alarm from those surrounding Jesus and you see the crowd begin to move away from you in fear. But Jesus doesn't move away from you, he moves closer. You look into his eyes, and you don't see fear, or revulsion, or hatred, but deep compassion. And then Jesus does something that utterly shocks you. He stretches out his hand and places it on your leprosy infested shoulder. In that touch there is overwhelming love and supernatural power. Your rotting flesh begins to heal, open sores close over, and your once diseased skin begins to take on the pink hue of health. With tears in your eyes, you look up at Jesus and manage to utter, "Thank you."

For the remainder of your life, you make every effort to tell people of the mercy you received. You tell them of the man Jesus, and how he showed mercy to you, a dying leper. [Taken from Mark 1:40-45]

We were spiritual lepers, without hope and without God in this world. But Christ, the Holy One, reached out and touched us, healing our souls and reconciling us to God. What sweet mercy. Let's rejoice in the mercy of Christ today.

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 8:00 AM 0 comments  

The New Altrogge Family Blog

11/10/2007

For those of you interested in the more personal aspects of the "young" Altrogge family, you can visit the brand new Altrogge Family Blog at http://altroggefam.blogspot.com

You won't be able to resist "oooing" and "aaahhhing" over the pictures of my little girl.

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 10:21 AM 0 comments  

A Brilliant Prank

I would love to have been a part of this...

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 10:20 AM 1 comments  

The Jimmy Cone Debacle

11/09/2007

Years ago my wife and kids and I were all in the van of my friend Joe (the name has been changed to protect the guilty, but you know who you are) along with his family. During the course of the evening Joe described the wonders of an ice cream stand called Jimmy Cone. “It has the best ice cream in the world. It’s so soft and smooth and creamy, and you can add all kinds of sprinkles and syrups and other toppings.” He described Jimmy Cone as the Mecca of all ice cream stands. “You really haven’t had ice cream until you’ve had a Jimmy Cone.“ And then he promised to take us there. All evening he kept singing, “Jimmy Cone, Jimmy Cone, gotta have a Jimmy Cone.” He worked us into a lather for Jimmy Cone. We fantasized about Jimmy Cone and encouraged one another not to lose hope in Jimmy Cone. We sang along with Joe, “Jimmy Cone, Jimmy Cone, gotta have a Jimmy Cone.”

Joe kept driving around but never going to Jimmy Cone. “When are we going to Jimmy Cone?” we wailed. “Oh we’ll get there soon," he said, "Don’t worry. Hey let's sing - Jimmy Cone, Jimmy Cone, gotta have a Jimmy Cone.” We didn’t understand, but we kept holding on to our hope of Jimmy Cone, singing along with Joe. But we never went to Jimmy Cone. I think Joe was playing a strange joke on us that we didn't get. Maybe we entered the Twilight Zone. Is there really a Jimmy Cone? Will I wake up someday to find out I just had a bad dream and we're at Jimmy Cone, waiting in line for the sprinkles?

I’m glad God doesn’t play games with us. Hebrews 6:12 tells us "through faith and patience" we "inherit the promises". Our faith in Christ and our patient endurance won't disappoint us - we'll gain God's promised blessings.


By his blood, Christ purchased hundreds of benefits that are promised to the redeemed. Many of these promises are for this life, but God's best promises are for the next life. Here are a few: Believers will see Jesus’ glory and be with him forever. He’ll wipe away every tear from our eyes, and fill us with fullness of joy in his presence. He'll reward us for the good works he gave us to walk in, and crown us with crowns of righteousness. We’ll know as we are known and feast at his table in the wedding feast of the Lamb. He’ll give us new and glorious immortal bodies. God will free us from sin and temptation, and from age to age will lavish upon us the riches of his grace in Christ. These are just a few of heaven‘s promised blessings.

We inherit these promises through faith and patience. By holding fast to Christ, patiently trusting him through the years. We must
“hold fast our confession” (Heb 4:14), and “hold fast to the hope set before us” (6:18), “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering” (10:23).

The movie “Master and Commander” is about the captain and crew of a British warship in the 1800s. In one scene, the ship is about to enter into a bloody battle with another ship. A young midshipman, a boy in his teens, standing on the bulwark, looks down into the leathered face of one of the crew, a salty old sea dog who’d been through many battles. Staring fiercely at the boy, the sailor places his two fists side by side. Tattooed onto each finger is a letter, so together his fists spell out “H-O-L-D F-A-S-T”.

Hold fast when the winds howl, and the waves wash over you. Hold fast when the cannon balls crash all around you. Hold fast when the sun beats down upon you and when the night closes in around you. Hold fast to Jesus and his word. Through faith and patience we inherit the promises. And these promises won’t disappoint us. Take a few minutes and praise God that he is true and faithful and ask him to help you hold fast to his promises.

Posted by Mark Altrogge at 8:00 AM 8 comments  

How to Survive an Elephant Stampede

11/08/2007

I recently purchased The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Extreme Edition. This handy little reference book tells you how to escape a charging rhino or giant octopus. It has chapters on how to survive if you're stranded on an iceberg and how to land a helicopter if the engine fails. You can bet I’ll be carrying this book around with me from now on - just in case. One of my favorite chapters is how to survive an elephant stampede. It recommends, “Do not try to outrun them. Elephants can run at a speed in excess of 25 mph.” Also, “Climb a tree” - “If you cannot climb the tree, stand behind it. Elephants will avoid large obstacles when running.” I’d rather hide behind the nearest mall, but I’d take a tree in a pinch. The book then says, “If you cannot find cover, lie down. Elephants typically avoid stepping on a prone human being, even while charging.” My question is: has anyone actually ever tried this? Has anyone ever proven this to be true?

The Bible says God‘s word proves true. It's been tested and tried and proven true by thousands.

This God--his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?” (2 Samuel 22:31-32).

David sang these words to the Lord “on the day when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul” (2 Samuel 22:1). After fleeing for his life for months, living in the wilderness, hiding in caves, often narrowly escaping the sword, the word of the Lord proved true and God delivered David from his pursuers.

The Bible is full of examples of God’s word proving true after a long time. God spoke to Joseph when he was 17, but he was enslaved and imprisoned in Egypt until God’s word finally came to pass when he was 30. Abraham was 75 when God promised to make him a great nation but he didn’t see the beginnings of this nation until Isaac was born when Abraham was 100. Isaiah’s prophecies of a coming Messiah were finally fulfilled after 700 years. David was anointed to be king when he was a boy but he didn't begin to reign until he was 30. The Spirit revealed to Simeon he wouldn’t die before seeing Christ, and though he waited for many years, a day finally came when he saw Joseph and Mary bring the baby Jesus into the temple. The word of the Lord proved true.

The word of the Lord proved true for Israel: “Thus the Lord gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there. And the Lord gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the Lord had given all their enemies into their hands. Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.” (Joshua 21:43-45)

Sometimes God’s word proves true immediately. Sometimes we must trust God for years. Which promises of God are you believing and waiting for? Keep trusting him, keep asking him to fulfill his word, keep thanking him. In time God will prove his word true. Not a single one of his promises will fail.

Posted by Mark Altrogge at 8:00 AM 9 comments  

That Settles It

11/07/2007

Years ago, as a young Christian, I heard someone say, “If God said it, I believe it, that settles it.”

Actually, God’s Word is true whether we believe it or not. But this saying underscores an important truth. In order to enjoy all God’s promises that Christ has purchased for his children, we must believe them. And we must believe them even if everything around us screams the opposite.

Hebrews 4:2 says of the Israelites, “…the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened."

God gave the Israelites many promises, but instead of trusting God’s word, they looked at their circumstances and doubted, so they failed to receive the blessings. For example, God had told the Israelites to take the promised land. But when some of Moses’ spies reported the giant size of the locals, the Israelites despaired in unbelief. It is not enough to have God’s promises. We must unite them with faith.

Someone recently gave my friend Tom a shiny blue like-new SUV. Imagine if Tom and his generous friend had this conversation:

Friend: Tom, I’d like to give you my SUV, absolutely free, as a gift. It’s in great shape, gets great mileage. It’s in my garage at home, right now. All you have to do is come over and get it.

Tom:
That sure would be nice if it were true. But I’m not sure if I can believe you.

Friend:
What do you mean, “IF” you can believe me? Have I ever lied to you?

Tom:
No, but you see, the car might not really be in your garage.

Friend:
But I’m telling you it is. Trust me. Just come over and get it.

Tom:
Well, I can’t see it, so I don’t know if it really exists.

Friend: Good grief. I’ll give it to someone else.

We must mix God’s promises with faith, or they won’t benefit us. An unopened Bible on a coffee table doesn’t do anybody any good. An unopened medicine bottle won‘t help you when you‘re sick. You have to open it up and take it. The latest model vacuum sweeper won’t pick up a particle until you plug it into the wall.

“If God said it, I believe it, that settles it.” If God says there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, then I believe it, whether I feel condemned or not. I’m not going to keep doubting. If God says he is a very present help in trouble, then I believe he’s here. If God says he’ll meet my all my needs according to his glorious riches in Christ then I believe it. If God promises that all my children will be taught by the Lord, then I believe it, even if they’re not yet following him.

Let us dig into God‘s word for his blood-bought promises. Le‘ts believe them because God‘s word is good. Let‘s pray, humbly asking God to do what he‘s promised. Not because we deserve them, but because he has graciously provided them in his Son. And let’s thank him in advance for doing what he’s said he’ll do.

Posted by Mark Altrogge at 8:00 AM 1 comments  

The Money's in the Bank

11/06/2007

My son David is launching a video production company. My father graciously offered to loan him some money to buy a professional camera. The other day Dad called and said, “I’m having the money transferred from an investment into my bank account. The money will be in the bank in two days. Tell David he can order his camera.”

In two days, David will make his order. Why? Because the money’s in the bank. How does he know? He may not feel like it's there. He can’t see it. He won’t drive to the bank and demand to check the vault. How can David really be sure the money’s there? Because my father gave him his word. David will order his camera based on the trustworthy word of my dad.

That’s how faith works. God gives his children many
“precious and very great promises” in Christ (2 Peter 1:4). Jesus purchased all the promises of the covenant for us on the cross. Because God is trustworthy and doesn’t lie, we know these promises will come to pass. God is good for his word. We may not feel it or see it, but the money’s in the bank. God said it would be.

Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?”


What a great verse. God is not a human who might lie. He is Truth itself. He cannot lie, has never lied. He’s not fickle like men can be. He never changes his mind, never makes rash vows he might not keep. He never makes a pledge then takes it back.


Before becoming a Christian I called in a pledge to a Jerry Lewis telethon, then never sent in a single dollar. But even as a Christian I’ve made promises at times and not fulfilled them. A couple weeks ago, I made an appointment for breakfast with a friend, then forgot to go.


The problem with my promises is that I’m a man. Though I try to be a man of my word, not only am I forgetful, but I’m not perfectly wise. And I don’t know the future - I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to do what I say. God, however, is infinitely wise and powerful. He never makes a pledge he can’t fulfill. When God says he’ll do something he's good for his word - utterly, infinitely, perfectly good for his word. The money’s in the bank.


For over 30 years, I have found the Lord to be trustworthy.
I’ve seen him fulfill hundreds of his promises in my life. I’m still praying, waiting and trusting for many others. But this I know - if God said it, the money’s in the bank. Why not give thanks to your heavenly Father right now for his gracious promises and his faithfulness in your life. And give glory to Jesus, who purchased all God's promises for us by shedding his holy blood on the cross.

Posted by Mark Altrogge at 8:00 AM 0 comments  

Spartacus of the Monkey Bars

11/05/2007

As a kid I watched Spartacus, Ben Hur and other movies about heroic warriors. Every recess in 6th grade, my friends and I imagined ourselves to be mighty heroes facing our foes in bloody battle. They sat leering and jeering atop the monkey bars, taunting us who were about to mount our attack. With a shout like the Confederate army, we’d rush the monkey bars and try to get from one end to the other, swinging and grasping for handholds while those atop the monkey bars ripped and tore at our fingers trying to make us fall.

Sometimes we’d swing like Tarzan from the center rungs or hang like an orangutan with one hand gripping the side. We’d grab frantically for the next handhold, with our enemies prying us loose from our current one. We’d battle our way across, desperately fighting to hold on with calloused, blistered hands. Most of the time we’d get only partway before the defenders ripped our fingers off the bars and we’d plummet into the abyss. But when we did manage to succeed in getting across, what triumph, what victory, what glory!

Christians daily fight a life and death battle called “the good fight of faith.” We battle to reach the goal of knowing and becoming like Christ, but we have evil foes feverishly and furiously trying to prevent us. We too must grasp and fight to hold onto the handholds God has given us - his wonderful promises.

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature…” 2 Peter 1:3-4

God has granted his children hundreds of wonderful promises which Jesus purchased for us by his shed blood - "For all the promises of God find their Yes in him" (2 Co 1:20). God's word is a treasure trove of promises in Christ to comfort, strengthen, guide, and protect us. Promises to draw near to us, forgive us, cleanse us, fill us with joy, keep us, transform and produce fruit in us.

But we must dig these nuggets out of Scripture, and ask God to fulfill them. Then we must fight to trust God and believe them despite our circumstances. We must cling by faith to the handholds of God’s promises, despite the enemy’s efforts to pry our fingers loose by his lies. When Satan says God has abandoned us, counter with “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb 13:5). When the devil says we’ve sinned too greatly to be forgiven say, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn 1:9). When all looks hopeless declare “Light dawns in the darkness for the upright” (Ps 112:4).

God‘s Word is chock full of promises to bless you. Ferret them out and hold them fast. Memorize them. Ask God to fulfill them. Quote them. Thank God for them.

Posted by Mark Altrogge at 7:45 AM 2 comments  

Brawny Man Saving a Raccoon's Life

11/04/2007

Even brawny men care for animals

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 2:16 PM 0 comments  

Brawny Man Running with a Rock

May all of us men be brawny men

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 2:15 PM 2 comments  

Prince Caspian Preview

11/03/2007

For you Chronicles of Narnia fans, here's a preview of the upcoming Prince Caspian movie. Click here to watch the preview.

(HT: Justin Taylor)

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 11:25 AM 0 comments  

The Science of Christ Crucified

"I have often said that, before I knew the gospel, I had gathered up a heterogeneous mass of all kinds of knowledge from here, there, and everywhere - a bit of chemistry, a bit of botany, a bit of astronomy, and a bit of this, that, and the other. I put them all together in one great confused chaos, but when I learned the gospel, I got a shelf in my head to put everything upon just where it should be. It seemed to me as if, when I had discovered Christ and Him crucified, I had found the centre of the system, so that I could see every other science revolving in due order...

Begin with any other science you like, and the truth will seem to be all awry. Begin with the science of Christ crucified, and you will begin with the sun, you will see every other science moving round it in complete harmony." - Charles Spurgeon, Autobiography

Isn't it true that the gospel changes our perception of everything? Apart from God, the world is a senseless, confused place, and before conversion, our world revolves around us. But the gospel is the linchpin that holds all other knowledge together. The gospel transforms our minds so that we see God as the center of all things, and all other knowledge in relation to God. How grateful I am for the gospel!

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 9:54 AM 0 comments  

Coldplay and the Worship of Heaven

11/02/2007

Several years ago I attended a Coldplay concert in Pittsburgh (note: I don't endorse all of Coldplay's lyrics). It was an incredible concert. It was so loud I got my heartbeat and the drums confused, the lights dazzled me, and everywhere I looked people were singing their hearts out. People were excited to be there, and when the band came to their signature song, "Clocks", the audience erupted into a deafening cheer. To say it was emotional would be an understatement. It was one giant, joyful celebration...of Coldplay.

At the Coldplay concert I got the slightest taste of what worship in heaven is going to be like. Listen to the words of Revelation 5:9-13

And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth." Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!" And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!"

The worship of heaven is breathtaking. Millions upon millions of angels and saints lifting their voices in one passionate, pulsing, song of worship to Jesus. The worship of heaven is going to be glorious and deafening at the same time. Our voice will join with that great throng that surrounds the throne and we will sing, "Worthy is the lamb who was slain!" When we see the One who died in our place, the One who became our shame, the One who paid for every sin, we will not be able to keep silent. Our hearts will burst with songs of praise and songs will leap from our lips. We will be filled with joy that cannot be contained, but must overflow into joyful song. And we will be celebrating one person: Jesus Christ.

But we don't have to wait until heaven to get a taste of that glorious worship. We can turn our hearts to God today in gratefulness for the cross. Today we can rejoice in and celebrate all that Christ has done to redeem wicked sinners like us. As you drive to work, lift your voice in joyful praise to Jesus your redeemer. As you take your 10:00 am coffee break, turn your thoughts to the Savior who bore your every transgression. Before your head hits the pillow, thank the One who became your shame upon the cross. Let us lift our hearts in worship today to Jesus, our sacrifice.

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 8:00 AM 3 comments  

I Can Predict The Future

11/01/2007

I've made an astonishing and disturbing discovery about myself: I can predict the future. I don't know how I acquired this super power - perhaps though overexposure to coffee - but the fact is, I can accurately predict the future. Here are some predictions:

Throughout the remainder of the year, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will continue to throw touchdown passes at a rate of one every 3.42 minutes.

Next summer 18 sequel movies will be released, including Indiana Jones IV, "Indy and the Secret of Beating Arthritis", and Star Wars Episode VII, "The Untimely Death of Jar Jar Binks".

Within two years a cup of coffee at Starbuck's will cost $17.50...and your first born child.

Google will become an actual country, located somewhere in the western United States.

For the rest of my life I will continue to sin regularly

Although most of this list is silly, the last item is sadly true. Even though I have been born again by the Spirit of God, I will continue to sin for the rest of my life. Yes, I will grow to be more like Christ, but sin will remain with me until the day I die.

Assume for a moment that I'll live to be 75 years old. That means for the next 5o years I'll break God's perfect and holy law on a daily basis. What a sobering thought! Because of remaining indwelling sin, I'll think impure thoughts, say unkind words, and commit selfish acts for the next 50 years. Fifty years of wickedness lies ahead of me. Why doesn't God simply cast me away right now? If you knew that a friend was going to do something every day to hurt you for the next fifty years would you continue to be their friend? I don't think so. Knowing that a future of sin lies ahead of me, why doesn't God simply condemn to hell this instant? Because of the glorious, magnificent, infinitely powerful sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

O how great is the sacrifice of Christ! When He hung upon the cross, He took all my sins upon Himself. The death of Christ is so great, so powerful, so effective, that every one of my sins has been paid for. Every sin in the past - gone. Every sin in the future - paid for. The death of Christ stretches over all of my life, canceling the record of all my transgressions, past, present, and future. It is like a great, cleansing wave, sweeping over my entire life, carrying with it my many sins.

There is no sin that can separate me from the love of Christ Jesus. Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain - over my past and my future - but He washed it white as snow. So I will rejoice in God! I will praise God for the glorious sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which is so powerful that it cleanses me not only from the past, but from the future as well.

Rejoice with me today. Lift your heart in praise to Christ, who died to cleanse your past and to secure your future.

Posted by Stephen Altrogge at 8:00 AM 2 comments