Bought by the Blood

May 9, 2011

A Review of The Greener Grass Conspiracy by Stephen Altrogge

As I was reading “The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment On Your Side Of The Fence,” by Stephen Altrogge my first thought was that this is a book that the devil does not want you to read.  Satan is the father of lies and he has created a conspiracy based on the lie that God is not good and that someone else has a better life then you.  Stephen Altrogge’s aim in this book is to equip the reader with gospel truths to be on guard against Satan’s lies.  Altrogge does not write as someone who has it all together or as someone who has vanquished the sin of discontentment in his life.  The attitude of Altrogge is that of a seasoned soldier who has been to war with discontentment and has the battle scars to prove it, as well as strategies from battle that have kept him alive.

The truths that Altrogge presents the reader with to help them fight for contentment are not psychological, self-help, therapeutic answers to tickle your ears.  The key to contentment is found in worship and understanding how the great the God is that we are called to worship and how little we are. “Content is created in the shadow of the majesty of God. I become content when I see and treasure and embrace the glory of God. I find contentment when I grasp the fact that life is not primarily about me and my comfort and my happiness. My soul is satisfied when I stop trying to elbow my way to the center of the universe and instead rejoice in and worship the God who really is at the center of all things (P.23)”

Altrogge goes on in the book to flesh out what contentment is and what contentment is not.  Using the example of King Solomon, the man who had every reason to be content Altrogge presents a character study of how all in this life is vanity and can provide no true satisfaction.  Later on Altrogge presents another character study using the apostle Paul and how he learned contentment.  Learning contentment isn’t easy, but it is a requirement for all who have Heaven as their home and desire to be transformed to be like Christ.

For those unfamiliar with Altrogge, definitely pause from reading this to get familiar with him through his blog, twitter and facebook.  Blog: www.theblazingcenter.com/ twitter: twitter.com/stephenaltrogge facebook: www.facebook.com/StephenMAltrogge One of the first things you notice as you become familiar with him is his amazing use of wit and humor.  Sometimes he may appear over the top, but if you like Brian Regan and Jon Acuff then you will definitely appreciate his musings.

This book is written in an accessible fashion for anyone to be able to grasp and benefit from.  Each chapter ends with application questions that make it great for a group study or to read in your own personal devotional times.  A chapter that is worth its weight in gold is the one on the sin of complaining.  Complaining is a fruit of discontentment and does not get enough discussion in most Christian circles.  That chapter is worth the price of the book alone.

Here are a couple more prize quotes from this book to whet your appetite:

“True contentment is found in a Person. It’s not found in getting what we want or in having difficulty removed from our lives. Contentment isn’t the result of the absence of pain or the presence of material blessing.  It’s found in Jesus Christ. Period. Without Christ we can never be truly content, regardless of the blessing that surround us. And with Christ we can be content in the midst of every circumstance. (P. 87) “

“Every event that occurs in our lives has been ordained by God for our good. God is moving all things – singleness, sickness, riches, poverty, children, and infertility – toward one destination: our good and his glory. God is using your constant headaches for good. He’s weaving together your recent job promotion, sick daughter, and inability to fix your flooding basement into something glorious and good. There is nothing us to us that God won’t use for our good. In fact, the very things that tempt us to be discontent are being used by God for our good (P. 92).”

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September 25, 2009

What Are You Being Filled With

Filed under: contentment,covetousness,worldliness — cubsfan1980 @ 11:05 pm
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“We may compass ourselves with sparks of security, and afterwards be secured in eternal misery.  This world is a floating island, and so sure as we cast anchor upon it, we shall be carried away by it. God, and all that he has made, is not more than God without anything that he has made.  He can never want treasure who has such a golden mine.  He is enough without the creature, but the creature is not anything without Him.  It is, therefore, better to enjoy him without anything else, than to enjoy everything else without him.  It is better to be a wooden vessel filled with wine, than a golden one filled with water.” William Secker’s Nonsuch Professor, 1660

September 3, 2009

Give Uganda Water

Three great truths about money…

With one special bonus application: $23 provides clean water for one person for the rest of their life. http://www.giveugandawater.org/

Their silver and gold are not able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord. They cannot satisfy their hunger or fill their stomachs with it. For it was the stumbling block of their iniquity. – Ezekial 7:19

  1. Money has no eternal value.  It does nothing to endorse my standing with God.  My hope for eternity is based on God’s mercy to me through the cross and no earthly achievements.
  2. Money is not a basic necessity for this life.  “for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. (1 Timothy 6:7-8).” I do not need money to be content.
  3. I must always be on guard against the stumbling block of money.  Francis Chan once said, *”We in America are at a spiritual disadvantage because we are so rich.”  I shouldn’t ask how am I using my money, but if there are any areas where my money is using me.  William Wilberforce once stated, “Prosperity hardens the heart.”

*”If one hundred people represented the world’s population, fifty-three of those would live on less than $2 a day.  Do you realize that if you make $4,000 a month, you automatically make one hundred times more than the average person on this plant.  Simply by purchasing this book, you spent what a majority of people in the world will make in a week’s time.” Francis Chan in “Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a relentless God.”

August 20, 2009

Physical Boundaries Discussion Outlines

Conviction:  Safeguards and precautions that we have put in place by faith, to aid us in seeking God’s grace and guard us from sinning.
Legalism:  Adding anything to Scripture that isn’t there for the purpose of gaining favor with God for fear of losing our salvation and applying/enforcing that standard on all people everywhere.

Why is it better to form principles off of conviction instead of legalism?

  • Conviction leads to strength
  • Conviction leads to humility
  • Conviction leads to repentance
  • Conviction is based on the heart
  • Legalism leads to doubts
  • Legalism leads to pride
  • Legalism leads to condemnation
  • Legalism is based on action

How do we come to convictions?

  • God’s Word
  • Examples of Others
  • Fearing God
  • Input from others
  • Prayer
  • Impressions/Ministry of Holy Spirit
  • Walking through repentance of sin

Four principles that should guard physical boundaries in relationships
1)Satisfying our hearts in God
Job 31:1
“I have made a covenant with my eyes;
how then could I gaze at a virgin?

Q:NIV uses “lust” instead of “gaze.”  where does lust come from?
A: Lust comes from the heart.  The first place we need to be concerned with as we set up physical boundaries is our hearts. (Matthew 5:27-30)
Q:How should we be active with guarding our hearts?
A:We need to seek to find complete satisfaction in God alone because lust will never satisfy us. (Jeremiah 2:11-13 and Psalm 37:4)

2)Righteousness
Romans 6:12-14
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Q:How are we called to act?
A:As instruments of righteousness
Q:How do we define righteousness?
A: Doing right comes from God’s holy standard.  Therefore, we should interact physically with our significant with a mindset of God being present and aware of what is going on in our hearts (Proverbs 5:21)
Q:What motivates this?
A:Grace and Christ sacrifice on the cross.  We are empowered through Christ death and resurrection to live pure.  We have been called to holiness and purity and God will not call us to anything that He won’t enable us to do.

3)Contentment with purity
Philippians 4:11
for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.
Proverbs 27:20
Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied,
and never satisfied are the eyes of man.

Q: Why is contentment important with physical boundaries?
A: We will never be satisfied with our level of intimacy.  We are wired to want more.  Just like the eyes are never satisfied, nor are the hands or lips.
Q:Why do we do if there is a problem with our boundaries not being fun?
A: There is never a problem with our boundaries.  The problem is always with our hearts.  We need to remember what Psalm 16 says about the boundary lines falling for us in pleasant places.  There is no place more pleasant to be than on the path to holiness.  Relationships aren’t about getting what we want and our pleasure, but giving God glory.

“We understood the progressive nature of sexual involvement.  Once you start kissing, you want to move on.  We didn’t want to start what we couldn’t finish.  When a man and woman’s lips meet, and their tongues penetrate each other’s mouths, their process of becoming one has begun.”Josh Harris

4)Defining proper context for physical intimacy.
Song of Solomon 2:7
I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
by the gazelles or the does of the field,
that you not stir up or awaken love
until it pleases.

Song of Solomon 3:5
I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
by the gazelles or the does of the field,
that you not stir up or awaken love
until it pleases.

Song of Solomon 8:4
I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
that you not stir up or awaken love
until it pleases.

Q:What does it mean to not stir or awaken love until it pleases?
A:Hold off on doing anything physically intimate that can strengthen or arouse the desire for making love
Q:What is the purpose of physical intimacy in marriage?
A:In marriage physical intimacy is worship.  Outside of marriage, physical intimacy is about pleasure and becomes about objectifying the other person.
Q:what is the best way to gauge if the physical boundaries in place are stirring and awakening love before the proper time?
A:The question to ask ourselves is how can certain physical acts (kissing, cuddling, front hugs) bring us closer to God.  It is helpful to remember no one ever says after marriage that they wish they had been more physically intimate before marriage.

“They often ask where to draw the line for sexual activity outside of marriage.  What they are asking is how close they can to sin while still being without sin.  But there is already sin in their heart because they are seeking to get closer to sin and not closer to God.  The Bible says, “But among you there must not even be a hint of sexual immorality (Ephesians 5:3).”  Thus, the issue is now where the line is, but when the time is. That is why the repeated refrain in the Song Solomon is a warning not “Stir or awaken love until it pleases.” ” Mark Driscoll

August 10, 2009

The Lord is My Shepherd; I shall not want

The Lord is my shepherd;I shall not want- Psalm 23:1

As I proclaim with David that the LORD is my Shepherd, I am also proclaiming that I am a sheep.  To be called a sheep is not a compliment, but instead is humbling and self abasing, all sheep cry out with the John Baptist that I must become less and he must become greater (John 3:30.  This is because I am nothing and He is my everything.  I am making a statement about my weakness and need for a protector.  I am telling of my foolishness and that on my own I am prone to wander and easily get lost.  As a sheep, I am looking to my shepherd to be the one who provides for me, protects me and directs me.

In Christ, we have the Good Shepherd, the one who gladly protects and leads us back home to the Father.  He has laid down His life for you and I, taking our sin and curse, so that we may live through Him and have His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).  Through His atoning death for us, we have died to this world and our flesh so that we may live to God and have the hope of life forever in Heaven (Romans 6).  He has intimate knowledge of His sheep and will not leave one behind, but has died so that we may have no fear of death.  The Son is in perfect relationship with the Father and because we are in union with the Son and call Him our shepherd, the Father sees nothing hindering our relationship with Him, so that we can be adopted sons and daughters (John 10:14-15).

If we are adopted children of God, that then begs the question of how should we live?  We are to live as sojourners, we are to be people not of this world since we are just passing through (Hebrews 11:8-10).  There should be nothing in this world that captures our wants and desires because our greatest want is more of God.  If our hope is above then there is nothing in this life that can fulfill and satisfy us.  Any wants I have, I lay before the cross knowing that if it is of God then He will provide it for me (Hebrews 11:26).  It is not an issue of not wanting, but conforming my wants to God’s wants for me because I know if my desires are aligned with His then He will gladly give them to me (Psalm 34:4).

June 4, 2009

All is meaningless without Christ blood

There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? – Ecclesiastes 2:24-25

We all need a proper theology for every day life. The work we do, what we find pleasure in, what we eat and drink cannot be separated from God. If we don’t have a grasp of how God relates to every iota of our living then our lives will be meaningless, a chase after the wind. To find enjoyment in life we need to see all things coming from the good and wise hand of God. With that view in mind we realize that we are only stewards and see our work, food, drink and everything as gifts from God to steward for His glory(1 Corinthians 10:31). No Father ever gives bad gifts, so we can rejoice in all He has given us.

If I see my work as coming from God, then I can be content in my work know that has his purpose to sanctify me and conform me to Christ image. It does not matter if I make little or an overabundance. What matters it that I know who God is and grow in godliness. In godliness there is great gain and that is the source of my contentment. My contentment is not found in material possessions because those are only temporal and passing. I brought nothing into this life and all that I have are given to me by God (1 Timothy 6:6-7). Like Solomon I only ask, “give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God. (Proverbs 30: 8-9)”

This kind of attitude cannot be cultivated apart from the cross. At the cross of Christ we see that Jesus is reconciling all things to Himself. All things, that includes my work, my leisure, my sleep, everything that compasses my life, there is nothing that is not reconciled and given a redemptive purpose through His finished work on the cross. Everything is created through Christ and for Him, in Christ the whole universe is held together. His blood shed for me opens my eyes to this higher reality and allows me to live for His glory. By living for His glory I am content with what may come because I know it’s not about me, but all about Him. Having peace through His blood gives my life meaning (Colossians 1:15-20).

July 13, 2008

Contentment

Filed under: contentment,John Piper,philippians — cubsfan1980 @ 1:15 am
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  • Define Contentment
  • Philippians 4:11-12 “11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 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.”
    • What are the practical implication of Philippians 4:11-12
      • Content is something that we learn
      • Our contentment is not based on our circumstances
      • In Psalm 16 we learn how to be content as we get a portrait of the content heart
        • V.2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
          I have no good apart from you.”
          • Our only good is in God
            • How do you think of good days vs. bad days?
            • Any day lived in light of the Gospel is a good day
        • V. 5 The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
          you hold my lot.
          • What is  our inheritance?
            • Our relationship w/God which provides purpose to our live and the only lasting joy.  We have the hope of Heaven
          • He holds all of the blessings we have
          • Is the cup half empty or half full?
            • The cups is actually overflowing (Psalm 23:5)
        • V.6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
          indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
          • What are the boundary lines?
            • Our circumstances have been allotted to us by God.  He has drawn lines around our lives like properly lines and He will keep us safe.  Because the lines are from God, they must be good because God only gives good gifts.
        • V. 11 You make known to me the path of life;
          in your presence there is fullness of joy;
          at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
          • Where do we find joy?
            • In knowing God and communing w/ Him.  Through the Gospel we have pleasure for all eternity.  There is no greater pleasure than growing in our knowledge of God. 
              • The critical question for our generation-and for every generation-is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ were not there” John Piper from God is the Gospel
                • We look forward to Heaven because we look forward to spending eternity w/Christ and not having our sin hinder our relationship w/Him
      • What is our motivation for contentment?
        • Philippians 3:8 “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ”
          • Paul’s only desire is for more of Christ.  He considers everything else in this life, rubbish compared to life.  All of the good things this world has to offer pales in comparison to Christ.
      • Is there a good kind of discontentment?
        • We should never be content to stay where we are spiritually, but always seek to know more of God’s glory, character and in our own personal holiness.

May 26, 2008

Contentment

Filed under: Character of God,contentment,Psalms — cubsfan1980 @ 3:11 am
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I was meditating on contentment and I wrote this poem that borrows heavily from Psalm 16

Gracious Heavenly Father from Above,
I come to you aware of the treachery of my heart.
I am prone to lies of the enemy about your character.
I say to the Lord “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”

I run to you because you are my refuge.
Your truth will guide me and be my shield.
Fullness of joy is found nowhere other than your courts
And pleasures forever more are guaranteed when I come near to you.

When I look back to the cross
I see all you have done for me
And am reminded of my unworthiness,
With you I have a beautiful iheritance.

In you I have all I need.
There is need to question my lot.
You are wise and have given me what is best.
Since you are the Sovereign One, who is my portion and fills my cup,
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.

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