Monday, August 29, 2011

Looking up!

Wow! James MacDonald had a good one this week in his Walk in the Word series. He reminds us that when the church began it was about praise. It was about recognizing the greatness of God and the fame of God's Son. He makes a good point that we spend so much time in our churches trying to understand and cater to its followers that we forget why we have come.

Here is the full article. Check out for more.

Look Up

The Weekly Walk...17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. —Ephesians 3:17-21

The other day I had on my desk 30 recent books written about the church of Jesus Christ. One word describes them all: Horizontal. Pretty covers, catchy titles—one theme. They are filled with practical counsel: How to understand your audience, how to impact the people around you, how to influence them, how to win them, how to assimilate them; what they need, what they want, what we think, what they think. And yet, most of them are based on a fatal flaw: They have reduced the Church of Jesus Christ to a man-centered, human-needs-driven, manipulate-able organization—a horizontal thing.

Here's a word you need to have at the forefront of your thinking: vertical. Somehow we've lost this in the church. We’ve replaced the Biblical idea of the church with the idea that the church is supposed to be about the horizontal—about us.

Before the purpose of the Church was ever soteriological (about salvation), it was doxological (about praise). Ephesians 3:20 says: "To Him be glory in the Church through Jesus Christ now and forever more." Everything we do has to resound with the fame of the name of God's Son. When that happens, everything else falls into place. Evangelism, discipleship, community impact, ministries of compassion, these things are by-products of a church that is passionately consumed with the glory of God. Vertical is a powerful concept that you need to have at the forefront of your thinking about the work of the Church of Jesus Christ.

The best reasons to be fully engaged in your church won’t be found by looking around, but by looking up! We begin obeying Christ by applying the great commandment to love God—the summary of the vertical relationship (see Mark 12:28-31). When we’ve got that clear, we can tackle the loving neighbor, horizontal thing. Let’s keep the two commands clear and in proper sequence! That’s vertical church. Look up!

Monday, August 1, 2011

So far behind...

Well, I've done a terrible job adding thought to this blog this summer. I have a bag of excuses but that doesn't change the fact that I've been neglectful! This really isn't a post from me, but I wanted to share something sent to me by someone else. I usually don't copy/paste from other sites because I want to send you to their site so they can get credit, but I couldn't find this post online anymore. It was sent to me in an email. But if you want to visit their site for future goodies, go to

Here is the good lesson for the day (or probably month at the rate I'm going):


By Jo Ann Brown

It is amazing to me how God communicates certain lessons. Apparently, I must not listen in a traditional way because He always seems to use nature, my children, or my dogs to teach me things about myself.

As I was walking my dog, Chelsea, today, I noticed she was worse than usual about pulling. She was practically choking herself. She has a 25-foot leash that allows her 25 feet in just about any direction to enjoy without feeling uncomfortable. However, Chelsea seemed to always want to pull the leash as tightly as possible to get to the next "spot" in the road. Keep in mind that we are walking that direction and will be at that "spot" in just a matter of minutes.

Chelsea was so busy looking at the next place, the next moment that she failed to enjoy the place where she was. With 25 feet in any direction, she could only concentrate on the one foot that she could not reach in front of her. All the while we were moving forward, she wanted to be someplace different, further ahead. Her eyes were always one step further than where we were.

When I thought about how ridiculous she was, I realized how ridiculous I am as well. God has been trying to teach me to enjoy the moment while continuing to move forward. Why do I practically choke myself to get to the next place that I fail to enjoy the beauty of the place where I am. As long as I am moving forward, why can't I enjoy the trip?

I made a decision to enjoy things I usually would take for granted. That day, I found myself enjoying even the small things in my life more. I did not just take a shower that day thinking about what I needed to do during my day. I enjoyed my shower, thought about the warm water and how grateful I was that in our country I could take a shower anytime I want. That was probably the best shower I have had in a long time.

I can honestly tell you that I experienced more pleasure from everyday chores than I can ever remember. What a wonderful lesson I learned from my sweet Chelsea. I pray that I can continue to enjoy the place where I am, while continuing to move forward to the place I want to be.

So much joy can lie in the journey if I can be content with where I am and not continually pull to be where I am not quite ready to be. I wish I could say that Chelsea learned her lesson but that would be a lie. She still kills herself to get to that next place in the pavement when everything she needs is right under her nose.


Jo Ann Brown is an MDI subscriber and the mother of two wonderful teens, Brian and Danny and two dogs, Lucky and Chelsea. She can be reached at