When the first four pages of a book nudge my curiosity, convict my heart, and arouse my laughter, I’m left with just one thing– expectation. And Altrogge delivers with some of the most impactful 139 pages I’ve read in a long time, outside of the Bible itself of course.
Altrogge writes vulnerably with wisdom, revelation, authority, and even humor, sharing a “now” word for our generation. It’s a powerful word, it’s a convicting word, and coming from Altrogge, it’s also a fun word. In the Greener Grass Conspiracy, I caught myself laughing out loud, or throwing out a verbal, “that’s good,” or an agreeing “hmmm.” (I believe my husband was intrigued, maybe even a little concerned.)
Seriously, the man could be a stand up comedian with pages filled with anecdotes like, “Let me tell you what I really need to be happy…I need…a neighborhood that is drug-free, bully-free, and speed-walker free…I need career success, which for me means having a church that is packed to the rafters every Sunday with people who use the following words/phrases to describe me: revival, Charles Spurgeon on steroids, manna from heaven, the greatest pastor in the history of Christendom who wasn’t also an apostle” (p.75). He’s a funny guy.
But the most impressive part of this book is the simplicity of truth. He brings the reader consistently back to the center, the core, the foundation– the Gospel. His pages are filled with Scripture. And not just references! Have you ever read a book that has a lot of references to Scripture in parentheses? Did you look them up? I doubt it. At least not most of them. I usually don’t; I just take the author’s word for it. Not here. Altrogge prints the Word so you have to read it. You have to come face to face with God’s Word– the Word that is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joins and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). It will change you. It changed me.
I read a lot of books in this genre and my biggest disappointment has been with authors who spend an entire book trying to encourage lasting change in my life, but fail to fill my heart with what will actually change me. God’s Word. His Promises. His Truth. For this alone I give Altrogge two thumbs up!
It gets better. While bringing you back to The Gospel…The Gospel…The Gospel…(often with extremely well-written, and painfully powerful narratives), he also emphasizes the abundant blessings beyond the Gospel (as if we needed more).
The Greener Grass Conspiracy doesn’t just tell us that it’s important to live a life of contentment and why, but it tells us how. Not with a formula, but by identifying the weapons God himself has given us:
The Holy Spirit– the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit (p.43)
His Presence– the time, much time, lingering in the presence of God…regularly drink[ing] from the fountain of joy (p.65)
Grace– something better than relief: grace…power that [is] perfected in weakness (p.81)
The Bible– an endless supply of contentment-giving promises (p.91)
Prayer– asking for spiritual eyes (p.95)
The Church– protection from the deceitfulness of sin in the company of other believer
Thankfulness– marveling at all that God has given us (p.112)
Longing for Heaven– I was made for Jesus, and I was made for Heaven. And so were you (p.139)
I had to restrain myself from sharing more of Altrogge’s powerful words on the importance of these weapons and the power God gives us when we position our hearts to respond to discontentment by using them.
There were a few times that the images, similes, and metaphors felt jumpy and forced, a handful of cheesy examples (especially the tale of sitting with Sol at Starbucks whose license plate reads KNG SLMN), and a time or two that repetitive points made me stop and think, “wait, did I read that already?”, but these minor criticisms were just that. Minor. Like the last few stubborn pieces of lint left on my stunning, little black, wear-on-any-occasion-and-look-great, dress. Pretty much unnoticed.
So read it. I will go on record and say that for you to be disappointed in this book is as likely as never losing a sock in the laundry. Enjoy.