Mark Altrogge

7 Ways to Fight the Good Fight for Joy

"Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses." 1 Timothy 6:12

As Christian, we should be marked by faith and joy. Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit. If knowing Jesus doesn’t bring us a deeper joy than those who don’t know him, what’s the point? This doesn’t mean Christians don’t suffer and experience depression, discouragement, sadness, and grief. Paul said in 2 Co 6:10 that he was “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” So somehow, even in the throes of sorrow, Paul had joy.

Jesus promised us joy. “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). Ultimately our fullness of joy will be in heaven. But Jesus wants us to know his joy now. Believers begin to produce the fruit of the Spirit in this life, and one of those fruits is joy.

Ps 16:11 says “in your presence there is fullness of joy.” Though fullness of joy awaits us in heaven, we begin to taste that joy in this life.

So how do we experience Christ’s joy now? As John Piper says, it’s a fight, part of the good fight of faith. Here are 7 ways you can begin today to fight the good fight of faith today and a prayer for each step. Prayer is one of the most powerful ways to grow your trust and hope as you seek a stronger faith.

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What It Means and Does Not Mean to Honor Our President

The Bible tells us we are to honor our leaders - even when we disagree with them and even when they are ungodly. But how exactly are we to honor them?

The Key to Enduring to the Finish Line

The author of Hebrews compares our Christian life to a race that requires endurance. You see, a race is all-out effort from start to finish. But how do we do this? By looking to our example.

7 Things I’ve Learned In 30+ Years of Pastoral Ministry

In the last 30+ years I’ve learned a lot, made plenty of mistakes, and feel like I still have a long way to go. I don’t consider myself an expert, but thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned over the years (not in any particular order) to encourage you.

Really? ALL THINGS Without Grumbling? Really?

Why does God give us this command? Isn’t it enough to be morally pure? Isn’t it enough not to curse and punch holes in the wall when required to do something unpleasant? What’s so bad about complaining or grumbling a little bit? Everybody does it.

The Wonderful, Amazing Blessings of the Fear of the Lord

This wonderful gift from God has brought joy and gladness into my life and has spared me from unimaginable pain and suffering. Yet I have never heard a message preached on it. I don’t hear Christians talking about it. It doesn’t seem to be in the forefront of many people’s minds. It may be, but I don’t hear much about it. What is this wonderful gift from God, this incredible blessing? It is the fear of the Lord.

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How to Have More Faith This Year

I don’t know about you, but I want to grow more and more in my faith this year.

I’m so grateful that over the years God has helped me grow in faith, but I believe it’s his will for all his children to grow more and more.

Here are some suggestions to strengthen your faith this year.

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Why I'm Excited to Lead My First Ash Wednesday Service in 40 Years

I’m going to lead an Ash Wednesday service tomorrow.

I was raised by devoted Roman Catholic parents who sent me to a Catholic elementary school, where every Ash Wednesday, during mass we would kneel at the communion rail and the priest would dip his thumb into a plate of ashes, dab them onto our foreheads in the shape of a cross and say,

“Remember man that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

The only thing I understood about Ash Wednesday then was that it was the beginning of Lent. And possibly that the ashes meant that someday I was going to die.

I guess that’s not a bad reminder in itself; if more people considered that this life isn’t going to last forever, they might live differently, although as a kid I didn’t think much about it. It was just kind of fun having ashes on your forehead for the rest of the day.

In fact, no one ever explained the real significance of the phrase the priest said. And if they had, I don’t know if I would have found it very encouraging.

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Things I've Failed to Do When People Left Our Church

I have been a pastor in the same church for over 30 years. Over the years many have joined our church. But over the years a number have left, for all kinds of reasons.

Some left when they graduated college or to take a new job or move closer to their children or other “good” reasons. Others left for reasons I felt were maybe not so good – for doctrinal reasons, or they felt a need for a change. And some left because they had an “offense” toward me – they felt I had handled something poorly or wrongly.

One time many years ago, in my arrogance as a young pastor, I thought that our church was the best in town. That our church was the closest to a “New Testament Church.” So why would anyone want to go to an “inferior” church? Even if it was a good church, why leave the best church?

One unemployed carpenter told me he was going to move his family to Houston where there were a lot of construction opportunities. I told him that since he didn’t know if there were any New Testament churches in Houston, it would be better to stay in our church and take a job at McDonalds. At least he would still be in a NT church. How stupid was that? He moved to Texas. Probably one of the best things he ever did.

Fortunately God convicted me a year or so later, that I should ask his forgiveness. He had either moved back or was visiting so I called him, we got together, I asked his forgiveness for my arrogance and for how I made it so hard for him to leave and he graciously forgave me. There were several others at the time I had sinned against in similar ways, and they also agreed to meet and they too forgave me.

Well, you’d think I would have learned my lessons. But in recent years and months and weeks I’ve been freshly convicted of some things and reached out to some folks who left our church, and they have graciously met with me, shared with me and taught me some valuable lessons. I’d like to share them with you. So what should you do….<

7 Powerful Steps to Overcoming Regret

Though we all have done things we can regret, God doesn’t want regret to rob us of our joy in him or cripple us in our glorious pursuit of him. Here are seven keys to overcoming regret.

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