My goal in writing this book is to challenge the evangelical Christian community to take seriously the importance of living vertical, God-conscious lives. So much of what we are doing today as believers has a horizontal, humanistic orientation. The result of this is catastrophic to the church’s ability to effectively be salt and light to a spiritually lost culture.
It’s no wonder the persecuted church has historically has had the most vibrant and life-transforming testimony and influence for our Lord Jesus Christ. It has known both the necessity and power of going vertical when experiencing oppression. Indeed, Christianity, in the face of persecution, no longer becomes one of so many convenient faith options. For many, it becomes an ultimate choice that must be faced: either deny Christ and be permitted to live, or remain loyal to Christ and be condemned to die. Such realities incite a natural, vertical response, a calling out to God for His presence, grace, mercy, and sustaining power to be poured into one’s life in extra measure.
It’s amazing how simple Christianity becomes when life is most difficult. Going vertical means calling upon God, connecting with God, relying upon God, and working for God. This is what we must return to, especially within the context of North American evangelicalism. We’ve strayed from the centrality of Scripture. We’ve become enamored with humanistic, horizontal methodologies and philosophies. We’ve bought into the lie that Christian victory begins here on earth (for example, the power of positive thinking, or seeking after emotional, ecstatic supernatural experiences).
And we’ve bought into another king of deception as to how the church can grow and flourish in our post-modern culture. Rather than simply going vertical first and humbly seeking God’s wisdom and power, we instead tend to place our reliance on marketing strategies, vision casting, leadership techniques, and business principles to guarantee church growth and effectiveness. These things have their place, but they must never supplant beginning with God. Ministry must always start with heavenly realities, never earthly ones. This is a simple truth that is being simply missed far too much within North American evangelicalism today.
It is time the evangelical church returned to the fundamental foundation and expression of Christianity - living vertically. As we have seen, this is the way the saints of God lived their lives throughout biblical history. There was nothing complicated or complex about it. They started with heaven, not with earth, when faced with any life circumstance. And without question, a God-oriented humbleness and reverential fear were at the center of their every life response. This is the missing jewel of Christianity today - humility that has its source in the fear of God. It’s unquestionably the key to going vertical.
We seem to be writing and talking about everything today except humility and the fear of God. There is nothing more important and more essential to the expression of authentic Christianity. The apostle Peter substantiates this. He says to us as he did to Christians long ago, “Conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear” (1 Peter 1:17).
Yes, it is time we, as those claiming to be God’s people, sincerely and reverentially humble ourselves before God. Yes, it is time we live our lives vertically through the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit of God. This is what will revitalize the church. This is what will enable God to work through our lives to significantly impact our culture for Christ. The choice is up to us. Will we go vertical?
It’s also my prayer that this book will get you into the Book, God’s Word, with a renewed passion and fresh insight like you have never experienced before. Once you begin to view the Bible through a vertical grid, the Scriptures will literally burst open with new meaning and significance. Furthermore, you will also be able to take any life circumstance and apply biblical, vertical perspective to it. Whatever it is you’re facing, the Bible always has a “vertical” solution for your situation. Always.
The only way to live fruitfully and victoriously is to filter everything in your life through a vertical perspective. Continually start with heaven and evaluate what you are thinking, saying, or doing from that point of reference. Yes, there is an immediate or ultimate “vertical” answer to every life circumstance. This way of approaching and applying Scripture had been spiritually revolutionary in my own life, and I know it will be in yours too.
With every tick of the clock, we’re advancing toward eternity. God’s eternal plan will unfold. Therefore, now is the time to go vertical. Not in the next hour. Not tomorrow. Now! Your life will be blessed, and you will be a blessing. Most important, God will receive the glory and the praise that belong only to Him. So, there is only one thing left to say: Go vertical!
Summary List of BLT’s (Bottom-Line Truths)
1. Genesis 3 is the key to understand all of your spiritual struggles on
2. It is always better to be an Abel than a Cain-always!
3. The easiest way to live your life is to be consumed with earthly,
4. Live your life believing God is the only reason you exist.
5. Remember to respond vertically, not horizontally, when temptation
6. Nothing earth-side, apart from God, can satisfy our souls-nothing,
7. Never forget, eternity matters!
8. Live your life as one who is convinced eternity exists.
9. Eternal life starts with heaven and ends with heaven.
10. Don’t depend on any earth-side reality to secure your salvation.
I have included two new appendixes in this book. The first one revolves around an effective and practical methodology that will help you share the gospel with those who are not yet Christians. My hope is what I have written there will provide a way for you to have more frequent and natural opportunities to communicate the good news.
The second appendix is a compilation of quotes I have written over the years of my own Christian experience. Each of these quotes is followed by an implication box. In these boxes you can record specific thoughts regarding how the quote has an application to your present personal life.