Free Book: My Friend, My Hero, My Dad

My Friend, My Hero, My Dad

Some of you may know that I wrote a book entitled Game Day for the Glory of God, which is set to be published by Crossway Books in September, 2008. What you may not know is that I recently wrote a second book entitled My Friend, My Hero, My Dad: The Extraordinary Influence of an Ordinary Man. As you might guess, this book is about my dad.

No one has had a greater spiritual influence on my life than my dad, and there’s no one I want to be more like. Like the title says, he’s my friend and my hero. This book details the specific ways my dad influenced me to follow Christ, and is intended to be an encouragement for mom’s, dad’s, husbands, and wives. My hope is that this book encourages you as you seek to faithfully raise your children in the fear of the Lord.

I should point out that my dad didn’t really want me to write this book. That’s because he’s humble. But I believe that I have an extraordinary dad, and that his example is compelling. My goal in writing this book was to give people a snapshot of that compelling example.

I would like to make this book available to as many people as possible. To do that I’m going to:

  • Give the book away in e-book format for free. Please feel free to pass the e-book along to as many people as you would like.
  • For those of you who hate reading e-books, a paperback version can be purchased on for $10.
  • For those of you who go to my church, we’ll be making it available very shortly.

To download a free electronic copy of the book, CLICK HERE.

To purchase a paperback copy of the book, CLICK HERE.

God Who Thwarts Thieves


I haven’t had anything stolen in a long time.

For the past four days I’ve been at the New Attitude conference, enjoying lights-out preaching, joyful singing, and time with friends. But by the end of the third night I was ready to go home. Truth be told, I’m pretty much useless without Jen.

The trip home started smoothly, with a stop for lunch at Sonic and the obligatory tall coffee from Starby’s. But outside of Cincinnati things started to get a bit hairy. Rush hour traffic slowed us to a crawl. It was then that I detected the first murmur of discontentment in my heart. I wanted to be at home, on my couch, sipping a cool drink, not stuck in traffic.

Things got worse. The sky went black just as the traffic cleared, and rain began descending in biblical proportions. Not wanting to endanger the lives of the other nine people in the van, I slowed down to a meager 50 mph. The voices in my heart were not happy. There was no rejoicing from my lips.

We pulled in to our church parking lot at 12:15 A.M., almost two hours later than I had anticipated, and we still had to clean out the vans, refuel them, and return them to the rental place. I walked through my front door at 1:10 A.M., totally exhausted.

Five minutes later my phone rang. Who is calling me at 1:15 in the morning, I thought.

“Is this Stephen Altrogge?” asked an official sounding voice. I answered that it was.

“Do you own a Yamaha [scooter]?” said the voice. Affirmative.

“This is officer So-and-so of the Indiana police. Your scooter was stolen and we caught the person who did it. Can you come up and make an ID on the scooter?” The police were less than three blocks away.

Long story short: I got my scooter back, no scuffs or scratches. It was stolen by a drunk girl who needs Jesus. I was praying for her as they put her in cuffs.

As I went to sleep I marveled at God’s sovereign kindness to me. If I hadn’t been so late I would have been sleeping when my phone rang, and I’m not sure where my scooter would have ended up. I wouldn’t have been able to pray for the thief. I wouldn’t have been able to repent of my complaining. God ordained every detail of my day to both bless me and change me. Isn’t he good?

+photo by Ben Scicluna

He’s MY Shepherd

sheep in grass

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want (PS 23.1)

Oprah may have a personal trainer but she doesn’t have anything on me. I have a personal shepherd. And I need one. Why? Because I’m “singularly unintelligent, prone to wandering and unable to find [my] way to a sheepfold even when it is within sight.”* Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor? He calls his people sheep. I lived on a sheep farm for about a year after college. Sheep are timid, fearful, dumb and you should smell their manure. A sheep definitely needs a shepherd.

Charles Spurgeon says of this verse, “The sweetest word on the whole is my. He does not say, ‘The Lord is the shepherd of the world at large, and leads forth the multitude as his flock.’ If he is a shepherd to no one else, he is a shepherd to me.”

What a wonderful truth! Every Christian can say, “Jesus Christ, the Sovereign Lord, has taken upon himself the task of being MY shepherd. He’s dedicated himself to providing ME with green pastures and still waters. He’s resolved to restore MY soul when I’ve fallen in sin or when I’m weary. He’s committed to guide ME in paths of righteousness for his glory. He’ll never leave MY side, no matter how deep the valley or how dark the shadow of death I must pass through.”

Who needs a personal trainer when the Lord is their personal Shepherd?

Jesus knows each of his sheep personally. He knows us by name. He’s intimately acquainted with our hearts, our hopes, our sins and struggles, and will carry us through to the end. No one can snatch us out of his hand.

What a great and glorious Savior we serve. He doesn’t care for us because we’re good enough, smart enough, and doggone it people like us. We’re singularly unlovable, but Jesus shepherds us because he’s so great and good.

The Lord is MY shepherd. Now, where was that sheepfold? I saw it just a few minutes ago…

*see my last post It’s Not What You Know but Who You Know

photo by Max xx

The Most Influential Voice In Your Life

Who is the most influential voice in your life? Listen to the following bit from a message by C.J. Mahaney, given at New Attitude 2008, and see if you can relate. (If you’re using a reader and can’t see the audio player, click here)

I’m tracking with C.J. From the moment I wake until the moment I sleep a conversation is taking place in my head. And usually this conversation is not informed by God’s word. I evaluate my current circumstances, trials, and struggles based on my feelings rather than God’s word. The result? I experience, at a minimum, consistent low-grade discouragement.

But the good news is, this doesn’t have to be the case. By God’s grace, I can experience joy throughout the day. How? C.J. suggests two ways, both taken from Psalm 42.

Talk To Yourself

I need to stop listening to myself and start talking to myself. I need to do the hard work of reminding myself of God’s truth. Listening to myself is effortless. It takes no work to let my thoughts run their course. But speaking God’s truth to my soul is crucial. I need to regularly (we’re talking multiple times a day here) remember that God has saved me, is for me, is working all things for my good, delights in me, and is shaping me into his image. I need to remember that nothing can separate me from the love of Christ. Joy will come as I speak truth to my soul.

Talk To God

Not only do I need to talk to myself, I need to talk to God as well. I must humbly, yet boldly pray the promises of God. What does it look like to pray God’s promises? It looks something like this:

Lord, right now I’m feeling physically sick, and am being tempted to complain. I don’t know how I’m going to make it through this trial. But you said that your grace is sufficient for me and that your power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor 12:9), so would you please give me grace right now? I thank you that you are going to give me grace because you promised to give me grace.

I desperately want to grow in speaking the truth to myself instead of listening to myself. Why? Because I want to experience the daily joy that God intends for me to experience.

What about you? Do you listen to yourself, or do you talk to yourself?

+you can download the entire sermon on the New Attitude website.

It’s Not What You Know but Who You Know


Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want (PS 23.1).

A great spiritual principle is that it?s now what you know but WHO you know.

When my daughter Beth moved to Philadelphia last January for an internship, a friend of mine, Mark, and his wife Jill graciously offered that she could live with them. I couldn?t foresee all Beth would encounter there, but I know Mark and Jill. I know their wise, kind and generous character. Since Beth’s been there, they’ve done everything from helping her with her car to getting her a mattress, and running her to the emergency room. I don’t need to know all the “whats” – only the “who” – Mark and Jill.

Similarly, we don’t need to know all the “whats” we’ll face in life – only one “Who” – Jesus, our Shepherd.

God compares his people to sheep. In ancient Palestine sheep “were totally dependent on shepherds for protection, grazing, watering, shelter and tending to injuries. In fact, sheep would not survive long without a shepherd. Sheep are not only dependent creatures; they are also singularly unintelligent, prone to wandering and unable to find their way to a sheepfold even when it is within sight”(Dictionary of Biblical Imagery). How we need a shepherd!

“In the word shepherd, David uses the most…intimate metaphor yet encountered in the Psalms,” more intimate than “?king? or ?deliverer?…?rock?” or “?shield’…the shepherd lives with his flock and is everything to it: guide, physician and protector.” — Derek Kidner

See the intimate care Jesus exercises over his flock:

He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young. (Isaiah 40.11)

What a picture of God?s intimate care for us! Tending us, gathering us up in his arms and carrying us close to himself, gently leading us.

Isn’t it incredible that the Sovereign God of the universe would take upon himself the role of being the Shepherd of us singularly unintelligent, prone to wander, weak and helpless sheep?

Don’t worry about the “whats” of your life. It’s not what you know but who you know. Rejoice if you know Jesus, the good shepherd, who tenderly cares for you.

Photo by

Conference Tip #3

While I?m at the New Attitude conference I thought I would pass along some conference tricks and tips that I?ve learned over the years.? Here’s one of the more practical ones:

Conference Rule #3: Bring Your Own Coffee

What happens when 150 people, all of whom are ordering a double-frap, half-caf, triple-shot, partial-soy, medium-well latte, decide to go to Starbuck’s at the same time? You get a line that stretches three full blocks. So do yourself a favor and bring your own coffee.

Imagine what would happen if everyone brought their own coffee. Could we change the world? Maybe. Could we singlehandedly bring down the Starbuck’s empire? Probably not (nor would I want to).

So here’s to changing the world, one cup of home-brewed coffee at a time.

Conference Rule #2

While I’m at the New Attitude conference I thought I would pass along some conference tricks and tips that I’ve learned over the years.? Today’s tip:

Conference Rule #2: Don’t be the only guy applauding

At different points throughout the conference, the audience will spontaneously break into applause. This is usually in response to a particularly profound point in a sermon, and it’s the appropriate way to respond. However, nothing is worse than starting to clap and realizing that no one else is joining in. You look like a gigantic moron who has the social skills of a golden retriever.

When you start to clap, make sure others will follow suit.

The Ultimate Conference Guide

While I’m here at the New Attitude conference I thought I would pass along a few conference tips and tricks that I’ve learned over the years. Hopefully these help you when you attend a conference.

Conference Rule #1: Don’t bluff when you can’t remember somebody’s name.

At conferences you run into a lot of people that you sort of know, but can’t remember their name. Don’t try and poker bluff your way out of it with a bunch of generic phrases like:

“Heeeeyyy [long pause] buddy.”

“How is your [pause] your family?”

Everybody knows what you’re trying to pull, so don’t bother. Also, it’s not a good idea to throw out random name guesses (“Is it Barb, or is it Bambie?”). You just look dumb. So just admit that you can’t remember their name and move on.

Headed South

Just got into Louisville for the New Attitude conference. This is four days of sweet Bible overload. Piper, Mahaney, Mohler…does it get any better? I submit to you that it does not.

If you want updates on the conference check out the New Attitude site.

Thinking About Tragedy


The news has been horrendous lately. Over 130,000 dead in Myanmar. Bodies floating in the water, disease running rampant, families struggling to survive. The news from China isn’t any better. Over 50,000 dead, millions more left homeless. Little kids trying to find their moms. It hurts just to see it.

I have to confess, I’ve struggled at times as I’ve watched the news. Where is God in all this? Why would he let so many people endure such horrific suffering? What good can possibly come out of this? Questions like these echo in my mind and cause unrest in my heart. I struggle to understand, to comprehend.

But in the midst of my struggle God has met me. I was recently talking to my mom (who is one seriously wise woman) about these struggles and she reminded me of Genesis 18:25, where Abraham says:

Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?

I find my heart set at rest when I ponder these words. The truth is, I don’t know why God allows such massive suffering, but I do know that God always does what’s right and good. In the midst of Myanmar, God is doing what’s right. He’s doing what is good and what will bring him the most glory. I get into trouble when I start imposing my view of goodness upon God.

I also find my heart set to rest when I remember the love of God. As I was contemplating these catastrophes, I felt as if God asked me, Stephen, do you believe that I love these people? Do you believe that I love each person that died in these disasters?

Yes, God does deeply care about each person that died. He’s not a cruel, sadistic dictator who takes pleasure in the suffering of others. He killed his son so that we might be saved, and he cares about the souls of those in China.

So I’ll fight to rest my heart in the righteousness of God and the love of God. That’s the only place where I can find peace.

Want to know how to pray for Myanmar and China? Read John Piper’s 6 Ways to React to the Cyclone.

+photo by Dade [rebirth]