January 2014: “If you don’t work, you don’t eat!”

“If you don’t work, you don’t eat!”

Ever hear that phrase? I was raised on it. No, I wasn’t a slave or victim of forced child labor. I was just parented by a man who was the youngest of nine children and whose father died when he was only two. Julia Wolfe couldn’t possibly support five boys and four girls without a little help around the house and farm in Neeses, SC, so she taught my Dad and his siblings the value of a hard day’s work.

As so many of us do, Dad recreated a part of his childhood and fathered six children. My brother and I were outnumbered two to four so the lion share of the work outside the home was apportioned to us. (That’s not to say my sisters didn’t work; even manually! Cindy and I once roofed a house on our own.) It was an unwritten rule (and, frankly, a godly example) that my father expected a strong work ethic if we were gonna eat and sleep under his roof.

Although I may have complained and compared my plight to my friends who got to play on the weekends, to this day I am grateful for his leadership. My dad modeled 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12: “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.” I’m certain Dad was encouraged and supported by mentoring adults along the way, but my recollection is that he felt it was “more blessed to give than to receive.” Grandma Julia modeled that ethic, too, often giving away half of what she received. Dad is still more a giver than a taker.

As you may have noticed from the last INYOU WINDOW, I‘ve been thinking a lot about this working vs. raising support tension. It appears to me that the Apostle Paul may have had a grandma like mine. He never wanted to labeled “lazy” or a “mooch”: “For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:9). Paul would have fit in well with our family.

“For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example. For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread” (2 Thessalonians 3:7-12).

So, you see, the “If you don’t work, you don’t eat!” idea IS Biblical! It’s certainly easy for me to read into Scripture my own perspective and bias, but the art of interpretation (Hermeneutics) requires us to consider the context. Some believers in Thessalonica were simply slackers (maybe expecting Jesus to return and bail ‘em out)—undisciplined, unwilling to work, yet faking like they were all that! My aunt Nett would say, “They’re just runnin’ their mouth!” Paul’s point was that it’s not wrong to be paid for ministering, but that in this situation he desired to be an example and not be associated with those who talked a big talk but didn’t pull their own weight.

Dad was head of the Physical Plant at a Bible college for over 40 years and often mentioned how students in chapel were praying for miraculous provision—“mailbox experiences”—from God, yet seldom came to the Work Order bulletin board at “the shop” to select one of 105 jobs on campus they could do and be paid! Can you begin to catch my drift?

It is without question that a Gospel minister has an obligation to serve and a privilege of receiving his support from his service. Jesus Himself said to His disciples: “Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, or a bag for your journey, or even two coats, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support” (Matthew 10:9-10). This is the stance I have taken with INYOU in regard to discipleship-counsel session fees: “There is no charge; give as the Lord leads.” As you can see, there is an element of faith required from those who are called to disciple others and “walk with an empty bag.” Just as Jesus fills an empty soul, He will fulfill every financial need of the one who offers the gospel of grace without cost.

The peace of God rules in my heart when I see myself in the pages of Scripture and I find that His Word is also written in me! Paul is my example in 1 Corinthians 9:1-18. (Read that.) In Acts 18:3, we learn that Paul made tents with Aquila and Priscilla. (So Paul made the tents and I’ve been painting them for 13 years!) In 2 Corinthians 11:7-9, Paul says, “Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you without charge? I robbed other churches by taking wages from them to serve you; and when I was present with you and was in need, I was not a burden to anyone; for when the brethren came from Macedonia they fully supplied my need, and in everything I kept myself from being a burden to you, and will continue to do so.”

So why all this exhausted exposition of Scripture? Well, I’ve been thinking about my life and my future lately. I don’t want to be a burden, and I don’t want to be a “mooch.” (I was raised better! LOL!) But sometimes I wonder which one is in a worse wilderness: the minister lacking support or the hard worker lacking time for ministry? Jesus “nips it in the bud”: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). It appears that a man called of God is to be about his Father’s business.

Last month I talked about my “wilderness experience” and felt compelled to “enter into the promised land.” If God supplies in the wilderness of the past, He can supply in the unforeseen future. My job is to walk in faith and obedience. I’m simply inviting you to walk with me.

Ministry Update:
• 5th annual “INYOU Indoor Trichotomous Triathlons” Jan. 25, 2014 and Feb., 15, 2014.
• PRAY for 181 more INYOU INVESTORS who give $20 per month for 10 months of the year. (Take two months off for birthday and Christmas and spend the $20 on yourself!) We need 300 INYOU INVESTORS. You can sign up for regular online giving via a credit or debit card now through www.inyou.org. Or you can send a check to INYOU MINISTRIES using the envelope provided.
• in 2013, 73 people and a grant contributed nearly $24,000.
• Scott just started an 18-week semester of SPICE (Self-Paced-In-Class-Education) at Tyger River Correctional Institution on Monday mornings.
• Scott is currently re-design “The FIRM Foundation: Jesus Christ” to use more effectively in prison.
• 1-on-1 discipleship-counsel sessions.
• Every Sunday, 7:30-10 am, Scott helps and teaches @ Refuge—a ministry of FBS to the homeless.
• Every Friday, 6:30 am, INYOU men’s discipleship meets @ Scott’s house. Come join us.
• Every 2nd Thursday, 7 am, Scott speaking @ Grace Management
• Feb. 7-9: Scott travels to Houston (Conroe), TX to visit men and INYOU INVESTORS!
• Mar. 6: Scott speaking @ DHS FCA, 7 am
• May 23-25. Marriage Retreat, Greensboro, NC,

Family Update:
Kelli was an amazing cook and hostess all Christmas break! The family sang for a ladies’ banquet and a rehearsal dinner, and she sang New Year’s Eve at church.
Chase (and Carson) just returned from Passion 2014 in Atlanta. He will be choreographing a play for interim @ Wofford College, then begins rehearsals for “9 to 5” with Cooper @ SLT and starts his final semester of college!
Carson is classified a junior in his 2nd year @ USC.
Cooper is in college, too! (A dual enrollment class @ DHS.) He’s taking piano lessons, helping in FCA.