Mark Altrogge

  • 6 Questions to Ask Ourselves in Conflict

    In this fallen world, conflict is inevitable. Husbands and wives, parents and children/teens/adult kids, roommates, co-workers, brothers and sisters in Christ, believers and non-believers—we all sin against each other at times—at times intentionally but many times unintentionally. We have misunderstandings, fail to keep promises, do things that annoy or even hurt others. Sometimes we can overlook others’ sins. At other times we must address them. Sometimes we are the ones who are confronted.

    Here are 6 questions I have found helpful to ask myself when I find myself in conflict:

    1.  Am I trying to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to become angry? (James 1:19)

    Am I really trying to hear what the other person has to say? Really trying to see their viewpoint? Or am I defending myself or thinking of my next answer before they are finished speaking? Am I feeling angry? Is there anything that I really need to see here, even if we’re talking about something the other person did?

    2.  Have I considered that I may have a log in my eye? (MT 7:3)

    We all have blind spots—things about ourselves we can’t see. Could I be perceiving things wrongly? Am I being humble? None of us has God’s perfect wisdom and insight into every situation.

    3.  Am I doing this for the glory of God? (1 CO 10:31)

    Do I want this person to change so they will bring God glory? Or because I’m bugged, or to prove I’m right, or get my way?

    4.  Am I trying to speak the truth in love? (EPH 4:15)

    Do I genuinely love this person and care about their well-being? Do I want the best for them? Do I hope God blesses them?

    5.  Am I trusting God to convince this person?

    And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth 2 Ti 2:24–25

    Only God can change someone’s heart. We can’t—no matter how convincing or forceful we try to be. Have I asked God to help them see what he would have them see?

    6.  Is there any middle ground or alternative solution we haven’t considered?

    We can get locked into thinking that our way is the only way. In the heat of conflict it’s hard to consider other possible options. Sometimes if we take a step back or give it a little time, God can show us a solution we haven’t yet considered.

    Remember: it’s not about winning or being right; it’s about God’s glory. Hope these are helpful.


    Mark Altrogge has been senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, Pennsylvania, since 1982. He has written hundreds of songs for worship, including “I Stand in Awe” and “I’m Forever Grateful.” Mark and his wife, Kristi, have four sons and one daughter. Find out more on his blog, The Blazing Center.

  • 2 Mistakes to Avoid When Facing Temptation

    There are two mistakes we can make when facing temptation. Sometimes we can fall off the horse on one side; at other times we can fall off the other side. God’s word keeps us in the saddle when dealing with temptation and its wiles. Paul tells us in 1 CO 10:12–13:

    Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

    Mistake #1: Underestimate the power of temptation.

    Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. (12)

    Another way of putting this is overestimating your own strength to resist. In 1 CO 10 Paul catalogs a number of sins that Israel fell into, like desiring evil, idolatry, sexual immorality, testing God, grumbling. He says God recorded Israel’s sins for our instruction. Then he gives the above warning—if you think you stand, be on your guard or you’ll fall. We can read about Israel’s sins and think, “I’d never do that. I’d never fall into idolatry. I would never sin sexually.” Paul says you’re about to fall off the horse. We can hear others’ sins and judge them thinking, “How could he do that? How could he start embezzling from the church? How could she commit adultery? How could he make such a mistake with his kids?” It’s easy to look at others sins and struggles and think we could never be tempted that way. Take heed lest you fall.

    I once heard someone say we are all capable of any sin. Don’t ever think I would never do THAT. In Galatians 6:1 Paul tells us:

    Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

    We should deal gently with brothers and sisters ensnared in ANY sin, knowing that someday it could be us who are ensnared. We may think we could never fall into the sin our brother or sister is trapped in, but Paul tells us that we too can be tempted.

    Sometimes we think we’re smarter than God. That we can walk into a tempting situation and not be affected. That we can watch that impure movie and it won’t bother us. Or hang out regularly with unbelievers and they won’t influence us, even though the Bible says “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’ ” (1 CO 15:33).

    Don’t underestimate temptation. Don’t overestimate your ability to resist it.

    Mistake #2: Overestimate the power of temptation.

    No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (13)

    A friend of mine once heard a pastor say there will always be one or more areas of sin that a Christian can never conquer. That we just have to accept the fact that despite overcoming some sins, there will always be some we can’t. That there will always be certain temptations that are just too strong for us.

    Wrong. First of all, your temptation is not unique. There is NO temptation that is not common to man, no temptation that multitudes haven’t conquered by God’s grace.

    Secondly, though your temptation feels strong, God is stronger. He knows exactly what you can take and he controls even the strength of the temptation. He won’t let you be tempted beyond your ability. For with whatever temptation he allows he also provides “the way of escape”—the grace to keep from sinning. He doesn’t always remove the temptation, but gives us the grace to “endure it” without falling.

    Believers do NOT have to sin because of our union with Christ. Romans 6:6 says because our old self was crucified with Christ, we’re no longer enslaved to sin. Verse 12 says we must not let sin reign in our bodies. It’s not easy, but we are not doomed to a life of slavery to sin. We must fight, pray, flee temptation, cry out to God for help, put sin to death. But we CAN overcome it by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    Don’t underestimate temptation. But don’t overestimate it either. Stay on the horse. Someday Jesus will free us from our temptations and sins when he gives us glorified bodies in the new heaven and earth where righteousness dwells.


    Mark Altrogge has been senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, Pennsylvania, since 1982. He has written hundreds of songs for worship, including “I Stand in Awe” and “I’m Forever Grateful.” Mark and his wife, Kristi, have four sons and one daughter. Find out more on his blog, The Blazing Center.

  • 4 of the Best Pieces of Marital Advice I’ve Ever Heard

    I’ve been doing a good bit of premarital counseling lately, and I’ve married quite a few folks over the years. There’s lots of great advice in the Bible and other books, but here are 4 pieces of advice that have really helped me throughout my marriage. I’m still trying to apply them, and I’d encourage you to as well, whether you’re getting married in 2 weeks or celebrating your 20th anniversary.

    1). Try to be the biggest servant in the house.

    “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. JN 15:12

    And how did Jesus love us? By giving himself up for us (Eph 5:25). He came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many (Mk 10:45). Jesus didn’t ask “What am I getting out of this?” but concerned himself with our welfare. Genuine love is not primarily a feeling, but a costly decision to sacrifice yourself for the good of another person. Have this mentality—I want to be the biggest servant in the house. Don’t evaluate how your spouse is serving you, but ask yourself how can I better serve my spouse?

    2) Make God your source of satisfaction, not your spouse.

    Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. PS 90:14

    Remember—only God can satisfy our thirst. In Jeremiah 2:13 God said, “My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” It is evil to look to anything (or anyone) other than God to satisfy us. Anything other than God is a “broken cistern” that can’t hold water—can’t satisfy. Remember, no human being can satisfy another human being. Your spouse can’t fulfill you, make you happy, or meet all your needs. Put God first in your marriage by regularly taking in his word, praying, and fellowshipping with other believers. He will satisfy you with his love, which you will then be able to pour out to your spouse.

    3) Keep short accounts

    Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Eph 4:26–27

    When you have a conflict, or an offense with your spouse, try to work it out the same day. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger. Keep short accounts. Take care of it that day. Because when we let conflicts go unresolved it gives opportunity to the devil to tempt us to further anger, unforgiveness, and other sins. It’s tempting to want to hold on to anger, to “punish” your spouse by holding on to our anger, or giving him or her the cold shoulder. But we don’t have that luxury. In Matthew 5:23–24, Jesus said, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Obviously, there are some sins that may require ongoing counseling or dialogue and healing, and trust can take time. But the idea is to deal with offenses as quickly as you can.

    Kristi and I vowed on our wedding day that by God’s grace we would not let the sun go down on our anger, and in our first couple years, we had plenty of times we stayed up really late trying to work through things together. I can remember one night I said, “Kristi it’s one o’clock and I have to work tomorrow, but I’m committed to you and I might be wrong here; so I want you to know I love you and we’ll work on this more tomorrow.” And by God’s grace we did.

    4) Above all, seek the glory of God.

    So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 CO 10:31)

    Your marriage is not primarily for yourself, but for the glory of God. Marriage is to display the oneness and love of Christ and his church for each other. Our marriages are to be “snapshots” of how Jesus loves his bride and how the church loves Jesus. And as Jesus did all for his Father’s glory, so we should seek to glorify God through our marriages. So, if you have a conflict, don’t make your goal to win the argument, but ask yourself what will bring God the most glory. Will it glorify God most for me to be angry at my spouse or to seek to work through our conflict, ask forgiveness and forgive? Will it most glorify God for me to seek to fulfill my own desires or if I lay down my life to serve my spouse?

    There you have it:

    1) Try to be the biggest servant in the house.
    2) Make God your source of satisfaction, not your spouse.
    3) Keep short accounts.
    4) Above all seek the glory of God.

    Of course, God’s word has tons more great advice for marriage, but if you do these things, they’ll go a long way to help you glorify God together.


    Mark Altrogge has been senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, Pennsylvania, since 1982. He has written hundreds of songs for worship, including “I Stand in Awe” and “I’m Forever Grateful.” Mark and his wife, Kristi, have four sons and one daughter. Find out more on his blog, The Blazing Center.

  • Blessed to Not be Blessed

    Winning the lottery is like throwing Miracle-Gro on your character defects
    –Quote from a TV show on the lottery.

    Sometimes we’re blessed to not be blessed.

    What I mean by “not to be blessed” is not blessed in the way we think we should be. Or the way we want to be. God is so wise that sometimes he withholds blessings from us because he knows we couldn’t handle them. That we’d forget him. That we’d fall too much in love with this world. That we’d ruin ourselves. That it would throw Miracle-Gro on our character defects.

    Psalm 84:11 says God doesn’t withhold blessing from his children:

    No good thing does he withhold
    from those who walk uprightly.

    God withholds NO good thing from those he loves. So if God does withhold something from us, we can know that it must not be a good thing for us. We might think it would be a good thing, but we need to trust God’s wisdom. He knows what we’re made of and what would tempt or ruin us. He knows that winning American Idol wouldn’t be good for most of us. Lots of money wouldn’t be a good thing for most of us. Too much honor and adulation wouldn’t do most of us good either. Agur, author of part of Proverbs says:

    Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
    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)

    I’ve got to admit it’s hard to pray this prayer. I can easily pray, “Don’t give me poverty,” but I don’t add the second part, “or riches.” Because I think riches would be good. I want more than just needful food. I want to feast on steak and cake and cookies. Agur says it’s just as dangerous to be rich as it is to be poor. He says if we’re poor we can be tempted to steal, which profanes God’s name. But when we’re rich we can be tempted to deny God and say, “Who is the Lord?” If have everything, you can think you don’t need God.

    Sometimes God uses sickness or poverty to “hem us in”—to keep us back from harmful things we’d pursue if we were healthy enough or rich enough.

    If God isn’t pouring out on you the “good” you think you should have—whether it be wealth, a wife, a husband, a child, a job, a break, health, a home, whatever—it might be that if you had it, it might not be for your good. God is out for your best, which is to know him and be conformed to his likeness. So seek to be content to have Christ alone. If we have him we have the infinite riches of God. We have all the good God can give us. If God hasn’t given us something we’ve asked for, we can seek him for it, but then let us trust his wise providence. He’ll give it to us if it’s really good for us. He’ll withhold it if it’s not.

    God will prune us. He’ll cut off branches that don’t bear fruit. But he won’t throw Miracle-Gro on the weeds in our hearts.

    And that’s something to praise him for.


    Mark Altrogge has been senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, Pennsylvania, since 1982. He has written hundreds of songs for worship, including “I Stand in Awe” and “I’m Forever Grateful.” Mark and his wife, Kristi, have four sons and one daughter. Find out more on his blog, The Blazing Center.

  • About Mark Altrogge

    Mark Altrogge has been senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, Pennsylvania, since 1982. He has written hundreds of songs for worship, including “I Stand in Awe” and “I’m Forever Grateful.” Mark and his wife, Kristi, have four sons and one daughter.

    Find out more on his blog, The Blazing Center.