“The Lord’s Work” requires a good work ethic – It’s no place for lazy people!

Hard Work - Sweating LaborerAmong his sons, the work ethic of Ewalt W. Bartel, was his identifying feature… It was one of his most noteworthy characteristics. He worked HARD – and enjoyed it – he found it incredibly satisfying. He would arise before 5 a.m., grab an oatmeal cookie and a glass of milk my mother had put out for him the night before, milk the cows (we had a grade A dairy farm), then jump in the school bus and run his route, arrive back home and clean up the barn, grab a bite of breakfast mom had prepared, then go out and take care of farm work, grab lunch, more farm work, jump in the bus and run his school bus route, come home and milk the cows, clean up the barn, take care of some more farm work, and then end the after what we called “supper” and have his devotions before signing off for the day and going to bed.

All of us boys have watched the sweat pour off of his body as he would tackle a task, hear him grunt with effort, and then go on to another task, and another, and another. He would periodically pause, breathe a deep sigh, smile slightly and say with deep satisfaction… “Well that’s done!” Ewalt W. Bartel found hard work incredibly satisfying… It was part of his persona… His DNA. And I must say, his sons picked up on it and embraced it.

All of this as a prelude for a post promoting “the Lord’s work!” Apostle Paul was not lazy – He and my dad were “soul brothers” when it comes to finding “work” (hard work) satisfying. I must admit, I find some individuals who claim to be in “the Lord’s work” an affront to the Apostle Paul’s example! I’m afraid some use “the ministry” as a front for a life of leisure and recreation. Apostle Paul would be indignant! I’m with Paul… As a professor of ministry courses at a Bible university over the years, I have challenged students, “If you’re not willing to spend long hours, work hard, weep with the hurting, and help the struggling, and study diligently to serve healthy spiritual meals from God’s word, don’t bother to enter “the ministry!”

Want to hear it from the mouth of Apostle Paul himself (with a couple of parenthetical comments from “your’s truly” based upon the Greek language of the original text)… Here it is:

“Him [the Lord Jesus Christ] we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature [complete] in Christ. For this I toil [the Greek word means “to work hard”], struggling [this is a Greek word that literally means “to wrestle” and implies physical, emotional, and spiritual exertion] with all HIS ENERGY [not my strength or energy] that He powerfully works within me.” [In other words, when Apostle Paul was “bone tired” through his efforts in “the Lord’s work” he discovered a supernatural, satisfying, inner strength that would come to him, empower him, buoying him up, and enabling him to press on and complete the tasks the Lord had given him!] (From Colossians 1:28–29 ESV – my comments in brackets)

Gotta tell you… I want to live that way! Ewalt W. Bartel was my human example of a healthy work ethic… Apostle Paul sets the standard for me in “the Lord’s work!” At the end of my life, I want to be able to pause like my Dad, smile and sigh and say, “Well, that’s done!” (i.e. my work for the Lord – my calling as His servant).

Wow! Who Jesus Christ is blows my mind (and transforms my life)!

The Supremacy of Christ

Wow… What a Savior!!! The Lord Jesus Christ!!! I read Colossians 1:16-23 again this morning during my time of “coffee with the Lord” and it left me in awe of who Jesus really is…

He reveals God… accurately, fully and completely!

He was creator… involved in creating everything that exists!

He is eternal… He existed before time, was revealed in time, and now exists beyond time!

He is sustainer of everything in the universe!

He is the supreme of “his body” – His redeemed people – the Church!

He is preeminent over everything!

He is the cosmic reconciler over everything that has experienced the impact of sin … the cosmos, creation itself, and fallen humanity!

Here it is in the inspired words of Scripture… a passage that every Christian should memorize…

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent. For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel.” (Colossians 1:15–23 ESV)

“Scrupulous Stewardship” – Is that an appropriate way for Christians to handle money and possessions?

Counting money.jpgI’m married to a wonderful, beautiful, intelligent, Christian lady… and a scrupulous manager of money! Her husband? Not so much. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m careful… I’m conservative… I don’t throw money around indiscriminately… And I’ve never, as a leader of any organization or entity that I’ve been responsible for, “busted” (or violated) a budget. But Sharon, my wife? There’s only a couple of words to describe her… scrupulous and conservative! It’s because of her carefulness and wisdom with finances that, despite very modest incomes, we’re in a relatively solid financial position as we have entered retirement.

Is it appropriate for a Christian to be “scrupulous” with finances? (Notice that I didn’t say “stingy” – (Christians should NOT be stingy – they should be generous – but they SHOULD be “scrupulous” and wise with possessions and finances.) We are called to be “stewards” (i.e. we are to be wise managers of what belongs to Another – to God!) Authentic believers – Christians, if you please – do not see themselves as “owners” – they “possess” what God has entrusted to them, and are called upon to “steward” it wisely. Here is what the Bible declares… “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.” (Psalm 24:1 New Living Translation)

So is “Scrupulous stewardship” an appropriate way to think about how Christians should manage their finances and possessions? This is what I read in the Bible this morning during my time of “coffee with the Lord”… (See what you think).

“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Luke 16:10–13 ESV)

So today, I honor Sharon, my wife, and her approach to money… And I want to be more like her! “Scrupulous stewardship?” I believe it’s the way to go – I’m not the owner of anything, God is – of everything! I’m to be a careful steward of all He has entrusted to me! I’m to manage what has been entrusted to me in a way that honors Him… God honoring, generous, but scrupulous.

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