Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Greener Grass Conspiracy - A Review

Contentment for Christians is difficult. Often we look at the world around us and wonder if God really cares. We desire to look ahead to what is coming next, that next great thing that will finally satisfy us. We want something else in this world to make us happy. We complain when we don't get what we want. We live our lives as if it is all about us. Underneath all of these issue lies an idolatry of the heart that doesn't value who God is and what He has already done in Christ.

Stephen Altrogge deals with these ideas in his latest book The Greener Grass Conspiracy. Stephen speaks from experience about the struggles that he has dealt with in so many ways throughout his life. However, he does it with his typical humor and honesty that captivates the mind and the heart. It is with his humor that he opens one's heart and mind to what He and the Bible have to say to our contentment issues.

The beauty of the gospel shines forth throughout Altrogge's work. It's no accident that so much of the book is about the unpacking of the gospel. The gospel has great implications in the area of contentment. Throughout the book the main idea seems to be that when we see the riches we have in the gospel, our lives have the possibility to be content both now and naturally into eternity. The only way that kind of contentment can come is when we see the great beauty of what Christ has done.

It seems as if this book will quickly become the contemporary go-to book regarding contentment from a Christian perspective. Nothing that this world has to give us will provide the deep lasting contentment that the gospel of Jesus Christ can. Nothing else to which we can turn can mean nearly us much to us as Christ. Altrogge shows us even more how true this is.

If there is any weakness in this book, it is in the chapter on suffering. Contentment in suffering is an issue that well needs addressing. However, by discounting any suffering Altrogge has had in the past, some readers could potentially check out during this section. Nonetheless, his look at suffering is honest and excellent for those who have yet to encounter seasons of suffering.

All in all, any book that calls the reader to go deeper into the truth of the gospel and see the beauty of Christ's work is a good book. This book simultaneously does that and allows the reader to be able to look through that prism of Christ's work into their own heart and find contentment in Jesus.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011


It's going to be a Getty-kind of weekend in celebration of the Easter holiday. An appropriate beginning-

The Easter Story Matters

Eric Metaxas (author of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's biography) has a short article over at Fox News well worth reading about the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer against the reign of Adolf Hitler.

He writes:
How is it that one man slunk to his death defeated and is today despised by the whole world, while another man went to his death with God's peace, and is today everywhere hailed as a hero, as one of the few Germans with the courage to see what was happening and to speak against it and act against it, even at the cost of his own life?
There's much to say by way of an answer, but since the Easter season is upon us, let's start there.
Bonhoeffer believed the Easter story. He actually believed the unbelievable story of God's coming to earth and dying and then rising from the dead to defeat death forever. He believed that because this was true, he need never fear death. All he needed to worry about was doing the right thing and trusting God with the results. And that he did.

Read the whole thing here.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Some Church Planting Pre-Conference Notes

On Tuesday we arrived in Chicago early so we could register and take advantage of a church planting pre-conference that was being held that morning. What follows are some notes from that session.

Dave Harvey (Sovereign Grace Ministries, author Rescuing Ambition) talked at length about the calling to plant. Here are some of his thoughts:

-Go vertical. Talk to the one who calls.

-Proclaiming the word of God is essential to planting.

-Planters must have a faith in God that goes beyond trial and difficulty.

-When there is dissension on whether one is called to plant or not, it's important to examine those who agree and disagree with the call.

-The planting process is vigorous in and of itself and weeds out individuals.

-Care for one's wife is the window into a man's ministry.

Mike McKinley (9marks, pastor Guliford Baptist Church, author Church Planting is for Wimps) then spoke at length about the importance of the word of God. His book is well worth reading for a good look at planting (really replanting) and evaluating what is really important.

-The preaching (really the proclamation of the gospel) bears fruit. (See Colossians 1:5-6)

-Communicating the Word bears much.

-The pulpit is key. People need as much contact with God's word as possible.

-A misplaced pragmatism can drive out the Word (see Acts 6 for the counter to this).

-The people in his church who were there before the replant now have a renewed sense of God's power and recognition that they truly matter to Christ.

Tullian Tchividjian (pastor Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, author Surprised by Grace) spoke about his story at Coral Ridge. If you get a chance to read his blog or check out anything about his story, you will understand how he has come to marvel at the gospel during the most difficult period of his life. Here are some of his thoughts.

-Gospel preaching is more than just an evangelistic add-on.

-The gospel is justifying grace and sanctifying grace. There's no pressure to perform.

-The gospel frees you to rejoice and revel in your expendability.

-Because Jesus was someone, you're free to be no one. Having the gospel means having all the approval we'll ever need.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Greener Grass Conspiracy

"Greener Grass Conspiracy" Trailer - Stephen Altrogge from Crossway on Vimeo.

I just received this in the mail this past week. I'm about to start into it for the next few days. There will be a review forthcoming.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Early Reflections on TGC 11

Over the next few days I'm sure that I will be posting some thoughts regarding my recent trip to Chicago to attend the 2011 Gospel Coalition National Conference. Great times, great worship, great speakers. I may even have a few books to give away on the blog, thanks to the thoughts of a good friend.

One of the reasons that I had the desire to head to Chicago this year were the workshops that were being offered. A wonderful variety of leaders were sharing on a diverse array of topics. The one that stuck out to me from day one, though, was a workshop entitled Justification vs. Self-Justification by Ray Ortlund. In my life, I have a tendency to justify myself by other things other than Christ. However, that is not the way we are justified - it is Christ alone who justifies us.

With that said, here is Ray's paper that he presented at the conference. One thing that you miss until audio becomes available was the way his actions and answers to questions following his presentation showed the work our glorious God has done in him - you can tell this man loves Christ and has been captured by the gospel. You can find Ray's blog here with his normally concise and beautiful posts.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Jess has some wallpaper featured over at Challies today. Download here.