Mark Altrogge

  • God Prepares Our Works, Motivates Us, Then Rewards Us. What’s Up with That?

    Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Php 2:12–13

    For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Eph 2:10

    God is the ultimate “worker,” the great worker of “good works.” He deals bountifully with us (Ps 119:17); he is good and does good (68). In fact, he rejoices to do good to his people (Je 32:41), and he purposes to bring good to his own (Zech 8:15).

    God did the ultimate good work when he sent his son Jesus to redeem us. And Peter preached to Cornelius’ household that Jesus “went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil.” (Ac 10:38).

    By contrast, we are not good in and of ourselves—“no one does good, not even one” (Ro 3:12). But when he saves us, God makes us new creations. The great worker of good makes us his workmanship, and creates us in Christ Jesus, the one who went about doing good. God creates us for good works.

    Not only that, but he prepared our good works beforehand, in eternity past, long before he created the universe. All we need to do is walk in them.

    God not only creates us in Christ for good works, prepares the very works we will walk in, but gives us the desire to do those works. He works in us both to will and work for his good pleasure. We who once lived only for ourselves, who worked only evil, and loathed the light, now long to please our heavenly Father, to act like him and his Son. God not only gives us the will but he supplies the strength and energy to do good.

    But wait, there’s more. The great Giver gives us gifts to use in the service of others. Mercy, administration, helps, giving, faith, prophecy, teaching, sewing, cooking, artistic gifts and skills in every craft (see Exodus 35), musical and medical skills—every kind of gift. God not only gives us the works to walk in, but the talents to execute them.

    But God doesn’t stop there. He rewards us for using the gifts and doing the works he gave us.

    What kind of God is this? A wonderful God. A good God. A lavish, generous, amazing, creative, surprising, loving God. It would be enough if he only saved us. But he transforms us, then rewards us. Unbelievable.

    And God won’t forget to reward us. He sees every work, no matter how “insignificant” in our eyes, and records it for the last day. Not a single cup of water given to a disciple will go unrewarded. Not a single visit to a sick person, a piece of bread given a hungry one; not a tiny act of kindness done to a child—none will be missed or forgotten.

    For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do (Heb 6:10).

    Last night I joined some members of our church who conduct a monthly service in a personal care facility. Patients were wheeled in and handed large print hymn books. The folks from our church went around cheerfully greeting the patients, shaking their hands, making small talk. Then they led the service, playing and singing some good old hymns, “Amazing Grace” and “How Great Thou Art.” Then one of my friends gave a short talk about the love of God from Romans 8. A couple more hymns, then our folks helped wheel patients back to their rooms. These members of our church have been serving the residents of the home every month for years. Last night I thought what a reward they are going to in heaven. Month after month, singing “The Old Rugged Cross” and “What A Friend We Have In Jesus.” Loving these people who can’t give much back. Year after year of doing good to the weak. I thought, I want to be there applauding them when Jesus says, “Well done, good and faithful servants.”

    Your labor in the Lord is not in vain. Let’s thank God for his incredible goodness in giving us works to walk in, the will, strength and gifts to do them, and then rewarding us. What an incredible God we serve!


    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.

  • What Do You Want People to Say at Your Funeral?

    Lately I’ve been asking myself a question.

    I’ve recently done two funerals. At both funerals family members and friends shared memories of their loved ones who had died. They shared a few funny stories about each one. But what they talked about most was the acts of kindness or love they did. About their thoughtfulness and how they served others. About what a wonderful wife, mother, and grandmother the woman was. About what a great husband, dad, and grandpa the man was. About how each of them loved the Lord and loved people.

    There was no extolling their great accomplishments or how much money they made. Nothing about awards or recognition. No list of buildings they’d built or inventions they’d patented or great discoveries they’d made.

    It’s had me thinking about a question someone said we should ask ourselves: What do you want people to say about you at your funeral?

    What will your children say? What will your wife say? Will people say things like, “She was a great Mom.” “He was a wonderful husband—he really took good care of his wife in her last years.” “She was the most humble woman I know.” “He was the best brother in the world. He always put others first.” “My mom always had time to listen to us.” “Dad did so much with us when we were kids.” “She was my best friend.” “He was always serving someone.” “She never thought of herself.”

    Or will your loved ones say things like this: “I never really knew my Dad because he was always at work.” “Mom didn’t seem to have much time for us as kids.” “Dad always seemed disappointed in me.” “Mom and I didn’t talk that much.” “Dad seemed like he was angry with us all the time.”

    If you look at all these statements, both good and bad, they all have to do with relationships and character. Relationships: she was a loving mother. Dad always had time for us. My mom was my best friend. And character: she was the most humble woman I know. Every week he’d read to a blind man. He was always joyful.

    Relationships and character. That’s what’s going to matter in the end. I once heard this statement: Success in any other area of life cannot make up for failure at home. This is not to condemn anyone—I’ve failed many times as a husband and dad. But like the question I’m asking today this statement helps me focus. What if I’m the most “successful” man in the world? What if I make all kinds of money or create the next YouTube, yet neglect my wife and kids? Will I really be successful? What do I want people to say at my funeral?

    An even more important question: what will God say when you die? Will he say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master”? To hear those words would mean more than almost any others.

    What do you want people to say about you at your funeral? This question helps us focus on what’s really important. It reminds us of what really matters in the end.

    We can gain the world and lose our soul. We can go after riches and miss out on relationships. We can pursue success at the expense of character. So I’m grateful for the question funerals make me ask.


    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.

  • Why We Should Keep Waiting For God

    Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you,
    and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
    For the LORD is a God of justice;
    blessed are all those who wait for him.
    (Isaiah 30:18)

    The ESV Study Bible comments on this passage:

    “Note the amazing logic of grace: God’s people forsake him for a false salvation (vv. 1–17); therefore, he is gracious to them (v. 18). But he waits, for the Lord is a God of justice, i.e., he knows the perfect way to achieve his purpose, the perfect time to go into action, and the perfect disciplinary process that will awaken Judah.”

    Judah had taken refuge from her enemies by turning to Egypt for protection – “a false salvation”, rather than turning to God. But God wasn’t finished yet. He was waiting for the perfect time to be gracious to them, the perfect time to “awaken” them, the perfect time to pour out his mercy. And when he did be gracious to them, he would “exalt himself—he would display his glory.

    Are you waiting on God for something? Praying and praying yet the answer seems to not be coming? God has a perfect timing. He is waiting until the perfect time to be gracious to you. The time that will be best for you and bring the most glory to him. He is a God of justice—he won’t fail to answer prayer. He won’t fail to treat you justly. He won’t fail to be true to his promises. He would be unjust if he told us to trust him and wait for him, then fail to be gracious. But blessed are all those who wait for him.

    Why should we keep waiting for God? Because he is waiting for the perfect time to bless us. He has bags and bags of grace stored up for us. He’s just waiting for the absolute best time to heap them upon us. So keep watching for the One who plans to be gracious to you. Keep asking, seeking, and knocking. Keep trusting him. Keep your mind stayed on him. Don’t go running to Egypt for salvation. Don’t go running to the world for relief.  “Blessed are all those who wait for him.” When God does pour out his grace you’ll appreciate it more than ever. Who knows? Today might be the day he answers your prayers.


    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.

  • The Joy of Fear

    We tend to think of fear as bad thing.

    As something to be avoided. We don’t want to live in fear. And when it comes to the fear of the Lord, we tend to think of it in negative terms as well. We tend to think of the fear of the Lord as fear that he will punish us for sin. A dread that if we get out of line he’ll backhand us or hurl a lightning bolt at us. But the fear of the Lord is a wonderful, amazing, positive, desirable blessing that God gives us to produce joy and gladness in our lives.

    The fear of the Lord is to delight in God’s awesomeness. To marvel at his majestic power and glory. To contemplate his infinite might and breathtaking holiness. To fear God is to love him and take great pleasure in obeying and serving him. When we contemplate the beauty of the Lord and taste and see his goodness, we will hate sin and filth and impurity and anything else that robs us of our delight and joy in God.

    Here are a few verses to contemplate:

    Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! Ps 33:8

    To fear the Lord is to stand in awe of him. To marvel and be amazed at his glory and power.

    Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments! Ps 112:1

    The Psalmist tells us that fearing the Lord isn’t so much a fear of punishment for breaking God’s commands; rather it is positively delighting in God’s commandments.

    The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death. Pr 14.27

    Fearing God brings life, joy, satisfaction, contentment. It is a fountain of life–a constant source of refreshing and fulfillment. Because we delight in and stand in awe of God, we turn away from sin, which brings misery and death.

    “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul” Dt 10:12

    God tells us that to fear him is in reality to love him and serve him wholeheartedly.

    The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. Ps 19.9

    The fear of the Lord is always positive. It is clean. It endures forever. It has to do with loving God’s true and righteous laws.

    There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18

    The fear of the Lord has infinitely more to do with loving God than fearing his punishment. We are not to fear punishment from God, because he punished Christ in our place. Rather, because of all God did for us through his Son, we should love God and delight in him with all our hearts.

    So fear God today. Love him. Delight in his awesome, infinite power. Contemplate his sovereign rule over all the angels, over every demon, over every nation. Marvel at God’s providence and wisdom in directing all things from galaxies to lightning bolts. Praise him for his steadfast love and his mercies that never cease. As you drink from the Fountain of Delights, you’ll hate the putrid waters of sin. You’ll hate the snares of death that rob you of joy and satisfaction in the infinite beauty of the Beautiful One.


    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.