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Crossway Books & Bibles The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence

With humor and honesty, Stephen Altrogge helps us do battle with discontentment by steering us back to the central truths of the gospel. He addresses issues such as complaining and idolatry, reminding us of all that we have, and will have, in Christ.
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Customer Reviews for The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence
Review 1 for The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

The Greener Grass Conspiracy by Stephen Altrogge

Date:July 8, 2011
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Ryan
Location:Santa Rosa, CA
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5 out of 5
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I'm very glad that I had the pleasure of reading Stephen Altrogge's new book The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence. The content of this book is absolutely fantastic and I believe very relevant to our time. I also found it very relevant to my life. Altrogge begins the book with this statement, "I've never believed in conspiracies." He then goes on to say, "Then I discovered that I was part of a conspiracy...it's a conspiracy between the world, my heart, and Satan to steal my happiness. These three are plotting and scheming together to make me perpetually discontent." There is so much vying for our attention that we continually play the "if only" game. He says at the very beginning that he's not writing it as someone that is content but as someone that is still battling in this area. He wants us to fight with him, and I for one want to join in that fight. As I continued to read page after page, I saw so much of me and what I struggle with. This book has made me stop and think about where I need to go to find the contentment that I long for. Altrogge continues to point us to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is where we need to go. He writes this,
"The Gospel of Christ is the fountainhead of contentment. In the gospel we have access to infinite blessings. But if we don't drink often we will always be thirsty."
If we lose sight of the fact that contentment comes only from God we're always going to be searching for it in something or someone else, and that will never quench that thirst. Until Jesus Christ comes again and takes us home to heaven, we're always going to struggle with this. We can continue to find contentment in Christ, but there is always going to be a struggle and a pull for us to be discontent and search for contentment in all the wrong places. Altrogge leaves us with hope though. We have hope in the Gospel of Christ now, but we also have the hope of heaven for when Christ comes back or we go to heaven to be with Him forever. He concludes his book by pointing us to heaven, "When we're in heaven, the battle will be over. Contentment will not be a struggle. Peace, pleasure, and joy will take the day. This is my hope. I haven't yet learned to be content in all circumstances, but I'm fighting. I'm fighting because I know this isn't my home. I was made for Jesus, and I was made for heaven. And so were you. But until that day we need to fight."
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Review 2 for The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

The Book That Satan Does Not Want You To Read

Date:June 4, 2011
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Lewjeffrey
Location:Washington DC
Age:25-34
Gender:male
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5 out of 5
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As I was reading “The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment On Your Side Of The Fence,” by Stephen Altrogge my first thought was that this is a book that the devil does not want you to read. Satan is the father of lies and he has created a conspiracy based on the lie that God is not good and that someone else has a better life then you. Stephen Altrogge’s aim in this book is to equip the reader with gospel truths to be on guard against Satan’s lies. Altrogge does not write as someone who has it all together or as someone who has vanquished the sin of discontentment in his life. The attitude of Altrogge is that of a seasoned soldier who has been to war with discontentment and has the battle scars to prove it, as well as strategies from battle that have kept him alive.
The truths that Altrogge presents the reader with to help them fight for contentment are not psychological, self-help, therapeutic answers to tickle your ears. The key to contentment is found in worship and understanding how the great the God is that we are called to worship and how little we are. “Content is created in the shadow of the majesty of God. I become content when I see and treasure and embrace the glory of God. I find contentment when I grasp the fact that life is not primarily about me and my comfort and my happiness. My soul is satisfied when I stop trying to elbow my way to the center of the universe and instead rejoice in and worship the God who really is at the center of all things (P.23)”
Altrogge goes on in the book to flesh out what contentment is and what contentment is not. Using the example of King Solomon, the man who had every reason to be content Altrogge presents a character study of how all in this life is vanity and can provide no true satisfaction. Later on Altrogge presents another character study using the apostle Paul and how he learned contentment. Learning contentment isn’t easy, but it is a requirement for all who have Heaven as their home and desire to be transformed to be like Christ.
For those unfamiliar with Altrogge, definitely pause from reading this to get familiar with him through his blog, twitter and facebook. Blog: www.theblazingcenter.com/ twitter: twitter.com/stephenaltrogge facebook: www.facebook.com/StephenMAltrogge One of the first things you notice as you become familiar with him is his amazing use of wit and humor. Sometimes he may appear over the top, but if you like Brian Regan and Jon Acuff then you will definitely appreciate his musings.
This book is written in an accessible fashion for anyone to be able to grasp and benefit from. Each chapter ends with application questions that make it great for a group study or to read in your own personal devotional times. A chapter that is worth its weight in gold is the one on the sin of complaining. Complaining is a fruit of discontentment and does not get enough discussion in most Christian circles. That chapter is worth the price of the book alone.
Here are a couple more prize quotes from this book to whet your appetite:
“True contentment is found in a Person. It’s not found in getting what we want or in having difficulty removed from our lives. Contentment isn’t the result of the absence of pain or the presence of material blessing. It’s found in Jesus Christ. Period. Without Christ we can never be truly content, regardless of the blessing that surround us. And with Christ we can be content in the midst of every circumstance. (P. 87) “
“Every event that occurs in our lives has been ordained by God for our good. God is moving all things - singleness, sickness, riches, poverty, children, and infertility - toward one destination: our good and his glory. God is using your constant headaches for good. He’s weaving together your recent job promotion, sick daughter, and inability to fix your flooding basement into something glorious and good. There is nothing us to us that God won’t use for our good. In fact, the very things that tempt us to be discontent are being used by God for our good (P. 92).”
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Review 3 for The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Great Book on really where Christians find Purpose

Date:May 30, 2011
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FBGYHBSTF
Location:Raleigh, NC
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The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence by Stephen Altrogge was a very enjoyable, convicting, thought-provoking read that led me to seriously re-evaluate my walk with the Lord and see where my satisfaction rests. What is it going to take to satisfy my heart? Where am I going to find contentment in this world? My heart tells me one thing, but it also lies to me; the bible tells me another way. The author explains in a very practical way that nothing outside of God will satisfy our hunger. Maybe this is way Jesus says in John 4 that if we drink of the water he supplies we will never be thirsty again. Altrogge takes the reader through various bible characters like Solomon who did not find contentment in the world’s pleasures and at the end of his life declared in Ecclesiastes that all is vanity and chasing after the wind. A point that I found very poignant was how Altrogge showed how the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:11 had to learn how to be content. Prior to learning how to be content in whatever circumstance God put him in; he was more than like a complainer, a grumbler, an ungrateful sinner…like someone I know very well; namely myself. God had to put him through all manner of trials so in the end Paul would find his joy and contentment in his relationship with Jesus Christ. God has used this book to help show me where I should be finding my contentment in. In the book Altrogge puts a more contemporary tone on Habakkuk 3:17-18: "Though I lose my job, and my retirement package is shattered and my house destroyed and my health ruined, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation." To which I add an enthusiastic Amen!
I received an advanced copy of this book for my review, from Crossway.
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Review 4 for The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Contentment verses "I want more things!"

Date:May 9, 2011
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Pastor Dan
Location:Wichita, KS
Age:55-65
Gender:male
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Stephen Altrodgge has given us a great short book on the subject of “Contentment” or should I say our American Culture’s lack of “Contentment.” Even worse, our Western Evangelical Church (Christian) lack of “Contentment.” This book reminded me a lot about Richard Foster’s work on “Simplicity” and also the “Celebration of Discipline” when he addressed the issue of “materialism.”
Altrodgge gives us lots to think about in regards to our attitude towards God and our attitude towards “things.” His opening chapter deals with how we all play the “If Only” game. It goes like this, “If only I had the latest smart phone (or insert any other product you desire) I would be happy.” How many times have we all played this game? If only I was married, if only I had more money, if only I had a higher IQ. Why is it that we can’t be happy with what we have? Because we don’t “Trust” God.
He points out to us that scripture defines us well, Mark 7:21-23 states, “for from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Further he quotes John Calvin and says that he nailed us, “Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.” So what idol (or thing) are you worshipping or craving today?
Chapter three deals with our heart issue. On page 28 Altrodgge states, “Contentment is a disposition of the heart that freely and joyfully submits to God’s will, whatever that may be.” In summary, we are not content because we are outside of God’s will.
Chapter four deals with the fact that we are idolaters. He quotes Tim Keller, “If anything becomes more fundamental than God to your happiness, meaning in life, and identity, then it is an idol.” This chapter relates this problem to our societies push through commercials that we will only be happy if we drink the right beer, take the right medication, go to the right movies and read our e-books on the right e-book reader (ok, so I own a Kindle, is that so bad? Well it is if I end up worshipping it more than God).
Chapter five deals with the issue of Solomon’s riches and his finding that all of it was “vanity.” We strive after everything under the sun only to discover it is worthless. So, why do we do this? Because we believe that we deserve the best of all things. But is that true? Do we sinful humans really deserve blessings? The answer is NO, we don’t deserve that but God finds joy in giving us blessings.
Chapter eight is “In search of the secret.” Well, the answer is easy, the secret is found in Hebrews 13:5-6, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
That is a great summation of the entire book. There is more I could write and tell you, but why should I when Stephen Altrogge has done such a good job in this book.
I know you will enjoy it, but you will also be challenged by how you live your life and may walk away a bit angry at Stephen for pointing out to you how fruitless your life journey is in searching for more ‘things.’
Enjoy!
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Review 5 for The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Idol exposing book

Date:May 2, 2011
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Ricky Kirk
Location:South Point, OH
Age:35-44
Gender:male
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5 out of 5
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I was thankful to have the opportunity to review this book from Crossway. While it is a quick read, I found myself re-reading sentences, paragraphs and even chapters. It is written well, scripture focused, and gospel saturated. As I read this book, I found myself examining my life and through that process discovering idols in my life that needed to be shattered. It confronts the mindset that too many of us live with, if only (I could get that perfect wife, job, car, body, etc) then I would be (happy, content, satisfied, have purpose, have identity). It is time we break out of the bondage we are under, being bound to a life of discontentment, a life looking at what appears to be the greener grass on the other side of the fence.
Altrogge does a great job of pointing one back to the gospel message and our identity in Christ. There is something liberating when a believer comes to not just know but experience fully their identity in Christ rather than their identity in 'things.' As we pursue 'things' we find after some time that the 'things' look greener, better, more satisfying on the other side.
There is nothing better than knowing my identity is not in what I do, what I have, or how much I have; rather my identity is in Christ! You can take away what i do, what i have and how much i have but you can't take away my identity in Christ!
It is time to expose the conspiracy, repent, and pursue Christ. One will never be content with things. God used Stephen Altrogge and The Greener Grass Conspiracy to bring me back to that stream of living water refreshing my soul. Be prepared not only to have your idols exposed, but to tear them down!
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Review 6 for The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Excellent, Biblical, and Gospel-centered

Date:April 29, 2011
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Elizabeth
Location:Eastern USA
Age:25-34
Gender:female
Quality: 
5 out of 5
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I don't know about you, but I am one of those people who loves a good conspiracy theory. Judging from the movie industry, I'd say I'm not alone. Perhaps that is why Stephen Altrogee and Crossway chose to title this new release The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence. What sets this book apart from those movies is that this book moves beyond theory, into reality.
"What is this conspiracy?" you may ask. "It's a conspiracy between the world, my heart, and Satan to steal my happiness" (pg. 12). It's serious stuff, my friends, with implications in this life and the next, but don't think that it makes for a boring book. God has blessed Stephen Altrogee with a great sense of humor and it shines through on almost every page of this book without detracting from the important message within. (You even have to make sure you read all of the footnotes because the humor is stashed there as well. ;)
Whether you know it or not, you and I are at war.
"When we don't get what we so desperately want, we throw the adult version of a temper tantrum. Our passions rage within us. We become angry at God and discontent with life. We grumble and complain, and happiness appears to be out of reach. We become a casualty of war" (pg. 19).
Do you want to avoid becoming "a casualty of war"? Do you want to know the secret of happiness and contentment? The answer may not be what you think. Learning the truth can be a lot like major surgery, but in the long run, embracing the truth will save your life.
The Greener Grass Conspiracy is deep, yet the message is articulated clearly. Altrogee has spent time learning from the Puritans (largely Jeremiah Burroughs and Thomas Watson) and has taken the best of their ideas and made them accessible to a new generation. Most importantly, this book is Biblical and Altrogee keeps his focus on the Good News of Jesus Christ and all that he has done for us.
Satan leads us to believe that God is holding out on us.
"The truth is, God will never withhold from us. The greatest, irrefutable proof of God's generosity is Calvary. Look at the beloved Son, ridiculed by the masses, beaten beyond recognition, hanging upon a cross, slowly suffocating, dying for sinners like you and me. God gave up what was most precious to him so that he could save sinners who hated him. If God was willing to do that, won't he also give us every good thing that we need? In Romans 8:32 Paul puts it this way: 'He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?' (pg. 52)
The best way to fight sin in your life is to learn and meditate on the truth of God's Word. Altrogee writes:
"Satan invites me to find satisfaction in something other than God. It doesn't matter if it's pornography or community service, as long as it's not God" (pg. 13).
Do you believe that God is all-satisfying? Do you believe that He has control over all that happens and uses it for the good of those who love Him? What you believe to be true about God radically shapes how you live your life. Don't be deceived! Know the truth! Uncover the "conspiracy" with Altrogee in this excellent book; it can change your life.
(P.S. If you've ever whined or complained or been unhappy about anything, this book is for you. Basically, this is a book for us all. ;)
*Many thanks to Crossway for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion!
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Review 7 for The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

The conspiracy is real...

Date:April 27, 2011
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Grex77
Location:Visalia, CA
Age:25-34
Gender:male
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Years ago, I went on my first short-term mission trip. I was shocked. But not by the poverty we encountered and not by the hospitality we received from people who had so little. The most shocking thing to me was the joy we found in the lives of the people we met. I say this was shocking because, on the surface, it was backwards. My team was from America. Every one of us would be considered filthy rich by world standards. We never went to bed hungry, always had clothes and comfortable shoes to wear, and each of us lived under a very nice roof with room to spare. And we complained a lot. These poor people we met on our trip? They smiled a lot.
The difference was not circumstances or possessions. It was not physical or financial security. It was not entertainment or fun activities. It was Christ. He alone is the only thing that will ever satisfy human hearts. He alone brings true joy. That's the focus of Stephen Altrogge's book The Greener Grass Conspiracy. Altrogge argues that there is a conspiracy to steal our joy. The world, our own flesh, and the devil have conspired to confuse us, distract us, and get us chasing after things that simply don't matter. After unmasking this "conspiracy," Altrogge tells unpacks the biblical secret of contentment: keeping our focus on Christ.
The Greener Grass Conspiracy was very readable. Altrogge has a good sense of humor and is just as comfortable quoting the Puritans as he is referencing Back to the Future. At the same time, he pulls no punches: "God owes us nothing except justice. The fires of hell would be the right destination for ungrateful, arrogant rebels like us. We've been disobedient, rebellious, hard-hearted people. We don't deserve relaxation or a nice house or hot showers or a monthly paycheck. What we deserve is hell" (71).
When it comes to the subject of contentment, there's a fine line to be navigated. On the one hand, we should be content and joyful in this life because of what Christ has done on our behalf at Calvary. On the other hand, we have not yet arrived. We still struggle with sin and we live day-to-day in a fallen, painful world. Therefore, something would be terribly wrong if we didn't have a longing for heaven. Altrogge makes this clear by pointing to the hope of life with God after this one is over. He writes, "When we're discontent, we're forgetting that heaven awaits us. Your futile house projects are a reminder that you're not home yet... You're frustration with your job is a reminder that soon you'll be able to enjoy work as you were always meant to do. The strife that now rips at your family is a reminder that the King of Peace will soon destroy all sin" (137).
The Greener Grass Conspiracy is one of those books that will challenge many people. It goes against the grain of much of our experience. Contentment is a subject that is rarely discussed in these terms, even in church. Our tendency is to empathize with people when they're discontent, but like the people we're trying to help, all too often we focus on circumstances too. This will be a book I'd happily recommend to someone struggling to recover their joy.
"I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:12-13, ESV).
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Review 8 for The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Date:April 25, 2011
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If there is one characteristic of the Christian faith that most are missing it is joy - deep, everlasting, Godly joy. Not joy based on circumstance but grounded in Christ. Stephen Altrogge in his book The Greener Grass Conspiracy uses humor and wit to equip believers in the struggle to find joy in all things. He begins with the premise that Christians are to be the most joyful people yet sadly we aren’t. We believe like the world that if our wildest dreams come true we would find joy when in reality we will still be unsatisfied.
I found the chapter titled “Count Your Blessings - Literally” to be the most convicting. He shows us how, even in our toughest trials, there is much joy to be experienced. In one example he shows that when we hit our thumb with a hammer we should be thankful that we have a thumb to be hit because there are many who don’t. He also hits hard at the fact that those living in America have blessings that most of the world doesn’t have but we have less joy than they do.
This is a book that people, no matter how much joy you have, will benefit from. It will change your perspective on many areas in your life, particularly those that seem joyless.
Disclaimer - I received this book free from Crossway in exchange for a review, positive or negative, on my site.
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