When I began in ministry my parents gave me wise advice to regularly invest in relationships outside our church. They said, “in times of trouble as a pastor, you’re church may not be able to help you the way they want to.” Ever since then I have intentionally reached out to other pastors and their families with Romans’ 1:11-12 in mind, “For I am longing to see you so that I may share some spiritual gift to strengthen you -or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each others faith.
After 6 years of hosting pastor’s and their families once a month in our home, my wife and I began to feel “besides everything else, we face daily the pressure of concern for all the churches. -2 Corinthians 11:28.
We were living our dreams in ministry when I crashed into physical burnout and doctor’s told me I had to resign my position. Suddenly my life was in devastation. For two years I was in a very dark place wondering where was God, what was I going to do, and where was the way out? During that darkness I felt God was searching “for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breech before Him.” And He called me to Encourage All The Churches and pastors In The Breech.” But what is a breech? The Bible suggests a breech as a mishap (Ps 144:15), a broken wall (Is.30:13), an outburst of anger (2 Sa 6:8), brokenness (Is 58:12), destruction (Ps 106:23), or disobedience to God’s Word in order to be comfortable (Ez 13:3-6). But the Bible also suggests a breech can be the breakthrough to God’s blessing (Ge 38:28-29). God promises to wall up and fix our breaches (Amos 9:11) and calls us to participate as repairers of the breach (Is 58:12) for others.
Because our Redeemer God uses the mishaps and devastating outbursts of this fallen world to bring the breakthroughs of His blessing, we can be confident in Him to stand in the gap for others. Do you need someone to stand in a breech with you? Are you willing to stand in the breech with someone else?
I’ve always thought an annual pass to the car wash would be a great birthday present. Then every week I could get my truck washed! Recently however I pulled the truck in the garage and washed the interior windows, wiped down the dash, and removed the floor mats and vacuumed the carpet. Wow! That makes a huge difference! Which do you prefer, washing your cars exterior or detailing the interior?
I was told police officers can serve with great integrity for many years, and then all of a sudden do something totally out of character that affects their professional future. They think the high levels of grief officers carry can eventually lead to bad choices. Many local police departments offer grief training for their officers to process and manage the grief that comes with their profession.
We see the same thing with pastors. Someone can serve faithfully for 20 years and then find themselves facing the consequences of choices entirely out of character for them. Did the hidden griefs lead to changes in their choices?
Matthew 23:27 says, ““Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.” I think dead people’s bones can refer to grief, mortality, our sinful nature, etc. Believers and non believers alike struggle with these internal enemies.
Is it possible that going to church or even serving the church is like going to a car wash? We put on our best clothes and a smile and go through religious “brushes” without ever washing the windows of our souls? Mortality will fill each of us with grief and our sinful nature will war against our minds everyday.. Unfortunately Moses never dealt with his grief and instead blamed it on the Israelites and that cost him greatly. Let’s stop carrying all this grief around and blaming it on others and just clean it out! So let’s pull out our hearts floor mats and vacuum those babies clean!
You may be asking like me, how do we clean out the grief? Well I’m still committed to learning this so here’s Biblical suggustions. Job dealt with grief through silence (Job 2:13). David preferred music (Psalms). Jesus went to solitary places to pray (Lk 5:16). James considered grief pure joy (James 1:2). Paul (Phil4:4-13) and Peter (1 Pe 4:12-13) both tell us to rejoice in all things, even suffering. Rejoicing is thinking, “I’m thriving” and “all is well.” “I’m as good as I can be in the Lord!” I obviously have some work to do when it comes to rejoicing! 😉
So next time you go to a car wash, don’t forget to vacuum under the mats. And the next time you’re in church, don’t forget to clean out under the mats of your hearts and wash the windows of your soul!
As we celebrate with my sister’s family on the sale of their home, it’s worth noting how much effort went into receiving that blessing. Not only did they and the kids work hard, but a few amazing out of state friends drove all the way to help too! I think over 500 hours went into fixing a leaking chimney, rebuilding one bathroom and remodeling the other, replacing all the flooring, painting all the walls and most ceilings, replacing a door, and washing everything, amongst other projects and countless trips to the store.. Needless to say they were uncomfortably exhausted.
While we would use words like “remodel”, or “flip a house” the Bible would call that edification. “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual EDIFICATION (the building up of one another” Romans 14:19. Edification is the greek word oikodomo, which means to build, administrate, or steward a house. To be the keeper of the home.
Since the fall in Genesis, our physical houses and our relational homes are both experiencing ongoing disintegration. And just as the my sister’s family edified their physical house, we all need to edify our relational homes. Like the my sister’s family, it probably won’t be easy, nor will it feel comfortable, in fact it may be downright exhausting, but our relationships need ongoing encouragement. In Ephesians 4:29, Paul challenges us, “Let no unwholesome (unintelligent) words proceed from your mouth but only such a word as is good for EDIFICATION according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.