Friday Five: Stephen Altrogge
Stephen Altrogge is a popular author and blogger at The Blazing Center. He’s a pastor at Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, PA where he leads worship and works in the college ministry. He is also the author of a number of popular worship songs.
Stephen is the author of the book Game Day For the Glory of God: A Guide For Athletes, Fans, and Wannabes, The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence.
Stephen humored me by stopping by for today’s Friday Five:
You’re known for your humorous tweets and blog posts and yet you also write some seriously spiritual stuff as well. Do think Christians laugh enough?
That’s a tough question. The Christian faith is a very serious faith. Following Jesus is serious business. Heaven and hell are serious realities. But, that being said, there is also so much to laugh about in life, starting with us! My motto is that I take Jesus very seriously and myself very unseriously (that’s not really a word, but as one who was homeschooled, I’m allowed to make up words). I think that laughter is a gift from God that can provide spots of joy in the midst of a very dark and often depressing world. Sometimes I think we take ourselves way too seriously. I’m certain that God laughs at us, and I think we should join in the laughter.
You’re first book is Game Day for the Glory of God. How can sports be redeemed for the glory of God?
Of course there is always the possibility of turning sports into an idol that we worship instead of God. But sports can also be enjoyed as a wonderful gift from a generous God. Think about all the good that comes from sports! We get exercise, we have fun, we get to enjoy competition, we get to be with friends. All these things are wonderful gifts to be enjoyed. So yes, we can certainly obsess over sports, but I don’t think that means we need to throw them out all together. I think we need to simply ask, “How can I enjoy these sports in a way that glorifies God?”
You’re current book, The Greener Grass Conspiracy tackles contentment. Is this a particularly acute problem for American Christians?
Yes, I think it is. We are surrounded by a culture that tells us that we NEED certain things to be happy. We need to find self-actualization. We need an awesome job. We need to be in a relationship. We need, we need, we need. And as Christians, we are prone to buy into these lies. The truth is, God really does want us to be happy, but he wants us to find our joy and satisfaction in him first. We can be content in Christ in all circumstances. Once we are content in Christ, then we can enjoy the things of this world in a way that pleases God.
Seems the Christian pendulum swings between a sell-all-your-stuff-and-move-to-Guam mentality or a full-throated embrace of materialism. Is there a middle ground?
Yes there is a middle ground. Obviously, we are to worship God above all other things. We cannot love the world and what it offers more than Jesus. But, we also need to remember that God made the world! He made sunshine, and steak, and swimming, and beaches, and coffee, and every other good gift. So I think we should enjoy the world that God made without worshiping the world. We should enjoy the Giver most of all, but then also enjoy the wonderful gifts that he gives.
You’re write music and you write books. How does your creative process differ from one to the other?
Writing books is a much longer, more involved process. I have to think things through much more thoroughly when I write a book. When I write a song, I usually start with a small idea and build upon it. When I write a book I need to have the idea much more developed before I actually start the writing process. Otherwise I’ll just get lost in the middle of it.