Tag: The Mission House
Consumed by the Horizontal or the Vertical?
by: Justin Usiak
The last few months of my life has been very … let’s just say confusing. If you took a sheet of paper and wrote out all the amazing things happening in my life you would run out of lines. From the outside looking in, I have been truly blessed. I mean that God has answered so many prayers in such obvious ways that there is no denying Who is in control. Now that I’m thinking about all that God has done recently—I’m literally getting overwhelmed.
What has been confusing is that the last few months have been some of the hardest months I’ve ever faced as a Christian. I’ve felt like I’ve been in a slump. In the morning it feels like I have to climb a mountain to get out of bed. I haven’t had the motivation to go to the gym before work and have struggled with getting there. I’ve found my studies have been blah. Every day I study God’s Word, counsel and disciple men, run a general contracting company, spend time with my wife and daughter, and go to the gym. These are daily things that I’ve always found so much joy in, but they have recently become empty monotonous tasks.
I’ve found that I’ve constantly had to battle offense and disunity with the closest people in my life. Even though God has been moving in so many obvious ways and confirming the place that He has me, I’ve found myself glorifying the thought of finding another job. Finding another community, just wanting something else. What in the world is going on here? My life is amazing and I am so discontent. I have never faced this in my walk with Christ. It seems as if “depression” has started to invade my life.
Last week I had enough. I prayed and prayed and pleaded with God to expose anything in my heart that offends Him. It’s been a weird spiritual and emotional rollercoaster, but God is faithful. I found a common theme in my studies and prayers this past week, in the sermon my pastor preached, in the leadership summit I attended—all within a five-day period I probably read and heard this verse ten times. Hebrews 12:1-17.
In verse one we read lay aside every weight and sin that clings so closely and run with endurance the race that is set before us. The question is how? Which is answered in verse two, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, for the Joy that was set before him endured the Cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. I’ve read this verse many times, but this past week the Lord has used it to answer my prayer. He has shown me that I’ve become consumed by the horizontal.
In the middle of verse two it says for the Joy set before Him, He endured the Cross. The joy set before Him was His ascension. His exaltation—seated at the right hand of the throne of God. This reminded me of Luke 9:51 that says with His eyes fixed on His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem. Jesus knew what He was going to have to endure. He knew the pain that He was going to face. He knew the betrayal and the deceit He would receive from the closest of people. He knew the temptation He would face. Most of all Jesus knew He would be dying on the cross and taking on the sin of mankind, for that moment being separated from the Father. So why did Jesus continue going to Jerusalem knowing what He was going to face? You see Jesus did not focus on everything that He was going to face (the horizontal). Jesus focused on His ascension. He focused on the joy that was set before Him. The Joy of fulfilling His fathers will. The joy of spending eternity seated at the right hand of the father. Jesus was focused on his Father’s will. He was focused on eternity (the vertical).
Sometimes in life we find ourselves getting easily distracted by the things of this world. We become consumed by relationships, ministry, work, business, family, and everything else around us. Especially in the culture we live in. It’s really easy to get distracted. It’s really easy to start doing things for the glory of man rather than the glory of God.
God has shown me through this season that when my eyes are not fixed on Jesus. but rather consumed with the world, things get confusing.
Here is the progression: I find myself discontent, questioning God rather than trusting God. I get burned out on people. I lose passion and a motivation to serve the people around me. To put it simply, nothing is enough! I’m reminded of how my life was before I knew Christ. It’s at this point that confusion sets in.
The fact of the matter is that we do not serve a God of confusion. When our eyes are fixed on Him, we endure, we fight, we strive for peace, and for holiness. We take joy in trials, we are thankful for the very breath that God has given us. We don’t question God, we trust God. We do not grow weary, but we stand firm. We run with endurance, rather than fall with exhaustion.
God is so faithful and has reminded me to examine myself every day to see with what I’m consumed. You cannot be consumed with the things of this world (horizontal) and end up with a healthy relationship with God (vertical) but instead when we are consumed by God (vertical), we understand what He has called us to do in this world.
My name is Justin Usiak. I am a husband to Amanda Grace, a father to Everly Grace and a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. This was not always the case. I lived a very extreme, rebellious and sinful lifestyle in my teenage and young adult years that led me to a place of drug addiction, homeless, and depravity. The Lord drew me out of that darkness and changed my Heart. I came to a men’s discipleship program called the Mission house in Port Orchard Washington where God showed me who I was and why I was created. Today I have the privilege of serving as the Associate Director at the Mission House. By God’s grace my beautiful family and I get to reflect the Glory of the Almighty God and point people to the only hope that I have…my Savior, Christ Jesus. Praise Him!!!
Contact Info: themissionhouse.info or Justinusiak.firstname.lastname@example.org
“Peacocks are male peafowl, a type of pheasant that also includes the female peahen. No matter the species of peacock, these colorful creatures boast impressively sized and patterned plumage that they fan out for display purposes. It isn’t an act of vanity, though–peacocks fan out their feathers as part of a courtship ritual to attract a mate.”
Recently as I was reading about Job’s life in the scriptures I was faced with an unavoidable wall of conviction and revelation.
The Peacock is an amazing sight to observe. Although it is simply a bird at its simplified definition it poses itself in such a way to appear as something much more. At every opportunity, this illustrious fowl deliberately struts about in an attempt to gain attention.
Not unlike the peacock, we as humans have an extreme desire to be noticed and/or exalted. We live in an age of self-promotion and are submerged in a culture that prescribes the boosting of self-esteem. As I evaluated my own life it was not hard to see my natural bent toward self-absorption. Self-absorption has saturated the physical, relational, and spiritual areas of my life. This is a humbling revelation considering that these areas make up everything that I am.
As you read this you might start to think, and then say to me, “Wow! This guy is really hard on himself! You can’t be that bad. Don’t have such a critical spirit. You’re involved in ministry and love your wife and children. Just keep being the best version of yourself.” Let me clarify what I am saying. I am not saying that I don’t do anything good. I am simply declaring that there is a constant undercurrent of the desire for approval, pleasure, personal success, consumerism, and a first-response priority of self-consideration.
Throughout the scriptures we can see clear examples of men who are entangled with “self.” In the first chapter of Job, we see the God of the universe sovereignly allowing Satan to challenge Job’s faithfulness. Job’s responses initially were amazing. He made the well-known statements “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I shall return. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away” (Job 1:20 NASB), and again he says “shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10)
Then we see a transition in Job’s perspective and attitude for the next thirty-six chapters. He begins to hone in on his personal circumstances and deprivations (justified in my mind). With the help of his social surroundings (friends) and his natural inclination, he deviates from the truth of God’s sovereignty.
Unlike how our natural response would be to a man in circumstances such as this, God begins to admonish Job in his self-centeredness. The Lord proceeds to make question statements like “where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth’, ‘you know, for you were born then” (Job 38:4,21). Job recants and the correct position is reinstated. “Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You? I lay my hand on my mouth” (Job 40:4). The Lord then accepts Job because of his repentance and restores him two-fold.
What Job did not realize is that his circumstances were not about him. He already belonged to the Lord. Job didn’t realize that thousands of years later a man and a people would be struggling with perspective and through the reading of his trials and tribulations that we would be pressed into the loving arms of a great God.
Our natural perspective along with cultural encouragement is the promotion of man. This view is anti-God and deviates from the message of the gospel. As the forerunner, John said “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Paul writes to the church in Corinth “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). Immediately before Paul wrote this he was imploring the Lord to remove some sort of hindrance (the thorn). The Lord responds to his distress in a way that only a sovereign God would—NO! (my words)—by saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
It’s natural to tell ourselves that we need to be esteemed, but this is actually what went wrong in the garden many years ago. The more we have a biblical fear of the Lord, the more reverent and submissive we become through the power of Christ. The more submissive that we become the more we can reflect the authentic love of Christ through obedience to His Word.
This is what transforms nations: the power of the Almighty God through the obedience and repentance of His people.
Lord, You are so good and worthy of all praise. Your “significance” is overwhelming. I become undone when I think of how You use the insignificant things in the world to shame the things that are, the wise, the strong. While we were helpless is when You came for us. Humble our spirits so that we may be effective for Your kingdom.
*All Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, New American Standard Bible®, copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.
This blog first appeared on www.throughthelensofscripture.com on August 28, 2018.
About Today’s Blogger
Oliver Underwood, and his precious wife Lisa, are ministering on the front lines of the BIBLICAL battle against all types of addictions. Lisa and Oliver are blessed to parent three children: Christian, a nine-year old boy; Evan, a six-year old boy; and Kiley, a four-year old little girl (going on 19!).
Oliver struggled for 12 years with meth, heroin, and alcohol addition, which was really on the tip of the iceberg of what was really going on in his heart. By God’s grace, Oliver’s life was transformed, and now God is allowing him to comfort others with the same comfort Oliver was given. Now, Oliver and his family are richly blessed to be a part of a ministry. Oliver serves as the Executive Director of “The Mission House,” a biblically-based men’s program helping men enslaved by sin (addictions). The work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the men at the “The Mission House” helps them learn God’s instructions for living and strengthen them to choose a life of freedom in Christ.
For more information about “The Mission House” go