My purpose for writing these posts is to share how God has changed our lives and the things He has taught us. Hopefully you will allow the Holy Spirit to lead you to a place where you give everything back to God and make Him your priority in absolutely everything. I write this to you for YOUR benefit, for YOUR growth, for YOUR blessing.
“Even in Thessalonica you sent gifts for my need several times. Not that I seek the gift but I seek the profit that is increasing to your account.” - Philippians 4:16-17
I want to share the following information with you because I want to see you improve in your spiritual maturity, and for you to truly grow closer to the God who desires not only your heart, mind and spirit, but who longs to be first place in the important things of your life.
“GET A JOB.”
I cannot tell you how many times since starting Brave Sky that people have told me I need to “get a job,” as if this magical phrase will somehow make everything work perfectly and solve every financial problem we have.
Here’s what the people saying this are missing: getting a job will not necessarily help our situation; pushing to get a job when God continually closes doors is going against His direction; getting a job would be artificially replacing God’s role in this ministry when He has promised to provide outside support for us; and making a commitment to employment God did not ordain would have waylaid us from the appointments in time He had provided for us to help others.
Who should we listen to the most - the God who created us and placed us in this situation, or the opinions and logic of people who may or may not be listening to the God who created us? Our God wanted us in this mess. He placed us in this mess. He will provide to get us out of this mess. It’s His mess!
I want to state that as individuals, my wife and I have chosen to make listening to God and following his instruction our first priority. As a married couple, Anne and I have chosen as a team to listen to and follow God’s instructions. In ministry and in serving others, we have again chosen to listen to and follow God’s instruction above all others. There is no point at which we choose to take any human’s opinion or instruction instead of God’s. This is of the utmost importance to us and nothing trumps it.
Getting a job will not necessarily help our situation. Yes, if employed we would struggle a little less and wonder less often how God will provide for our needs. But at the same time, would we be going against His direction by artificially funding something He has promised to provide in other ways? Would securing a paycheck have set things going in a direction that circumnavigates God’s timing and plan? Would committing to employment have distracted us from showing up for a divine appointment? Would we be at the right place at the right time when He needed us to act or speak to a specific individual?
Employment is a serious contractual agreement, not only of an employee’s time but also of their effort and commitment to doing work with excellence - when we work, as representatives of God, we commit to doing our job as well as we possibly can, because we are doing the work for Him, regardless of the payer of the check. Having a job isn’t a bad thing - God created humans to work - it is our primary purpose and when we aren’t working we are dishonoring the God who created us. God calls us to work, in whatever ways He deems, and we must work that job to the best of our ability and do it with excellence and joyfulness.
If I had listened to those who had directed me to get a job, I would have been following humans, not God. Humans say “go out and do it on your own,” and God says “follow my instruction and I will provide for you.” And that’s exactly what He has done. He led us to serve those within and outside the community, as well as across the country and the world - and while serving, He consistently provided for every need. He told us multiple times not to pursue employment, but to follow his direction and He would provide. We have concrete proof that He has kept that promise: for 20 consecutive months we have followed Him and obeying His instruction, working where He places us without compensation or asking for anything in return, yet God is still providing for every need, even today.
I didn’t quit my full time job to mooch or to live off the hard work of others - I have never refused to work nor declined putting all my effort into serving to the best of my ability. Anyone who has offered us help has assisted us in continuing to serve our gracious God. He has extended His blessings to those who have stepped up and helped us. We continue to follow Him no matter the cost or reason. Even without employment, God has blessed others around us. Don’t misunderstand me - these blessings were rarely financial. God blessed these supporters in so many other and better ways… His blessings fell in whatever ways were needed at the time. Whether it was a physical assistance with a project, a kind word, a shared experience of faith, hope in overcoming depression, or delighting in how God has provided and inspiring others to follow God. None of these blessings were monetary, but they were the very blessings that God knew each one needed at each specific time.
God has closed the doors to employment and has kept us in a life of service to others, relying on Him and Him alone. In response to those who insist that I get a job: after many applications for positions of various kinds and in various industries, even positions that would literally take anyone, I have been turned down every time.
I even reapplied with my previous employer (of more than a decade) for the same position I held at the time I resigned, in a location that had been open for months. At the time I resigned, I left in good standing with seniority as one of the hardest workers within the company with a very high work ethic - my employee file had numerous letters of commendation from management during my time with them. I originally resigned my position because God told me to leave.
In response to my application, the company took about a month to reply and wrote, “Although we were impressed with your level of qualifications, we regret to inform you that after a very competitive process we have selected another candidate.” In my tenure of experience with the company, it was an act of God that this position was filled by someone other than me after sitting open for months - I applied for it, and someone else was more qualified. I exceeded all the qualifications as a former employee in good standing, and was a shoe-in for the position. And yet - God had told both Anne and I that I would not get the position (or ANY of their 45 open positions), but for the sake of those who insisted that I apply, I conceded. And things happened the way He said they would. I know I can trust Him. (MIKE DROP)
Pushing to get a job when God continually closes doors is going against His direction. He is patient with us even though He has made it clear what His plan is for my employment (or lack thereof). Aviation was my career for 16 years and I was very good at it - and then God directed me to walk away in order to serve others and trust Him completely.
I have learned enough about my God that when He speaks, I listen. When he directs, I follow. When He implores me to wait, I wait. In fact, this is true to such a degree, that when we hear our 4 kids singing the following song, we thank Him immensely for the example He has made of us so that our children are watching us live it out:
Where You go, I'll go
Where You stay, I'll stay
When You move, I'll move
I will follow You
Who You love, I'll love
How You serve I'll serve
If this life I lose, I will follow You
When it comes to ministry, we have encountered much opposition - people are against us, though when they hear about the work we do, they are supportive and they praise the goodness of the services that we provide, wishing us the best and walking away with nothing more to say.
When Brave Sky needs support of various kinds, we have encountered those calling themselves “Christians” who respond to our stated needs by either telling us to get a job “because Paul was a tentmaker,” or dismissing our ministry altogether because I do not have seminary credentials, or refusing to talk to us at all (and never hearing our story)!
Are “Christians” so far gone that they refuse to help support a ministry (a legitimate 501(c)3 nonoprofit) run by people who have been in ministry since high school, who never graduated from seminary but have vast experience serving God and others, who are following God’s call in their lives to give up everything to serve Him?!
To speak to the “Paul was a tentmaker” reasoning, Anne has done extensive research on the subject, and has found that almost all the information out there about it stems from only one occurrence of the word “tentmaker” in the New Testament.
“After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth, where he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul came to them, and since they were of the same occupation, tentmakers by trade, he stayed with them and worked. He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and tried to persuade both Jews and Greeks.” -- Acts 18:1-4 (CSB)
When you get right down to it, the original language doesn’t say Paul made tents. It says that he was “of the same trade,” or “of the same occupation.” In Greek (the original language it was written in) the word is homoteknos, meaning “same” and creativity”/“skill.” This word is only used one time in the entire Bible - in this verse.
The Greek word used in this verse says they worked, with respect to Aquila and Priscilla, but it never says that Paul worked unless you want to assume that “they” included him. It literally says in the Greek: “and because he was of the same skill, he stayed with them and they were working, for by trade they were tentmakers.” So at the very least, Paul stayed with them because they had something in common. At the most, he hung with them as they made their tents and pitched in to help his hosts.
Historical records mention that Simon the shoemaker, also a philosopher, debated and discussed with others as he worked making shoes. During the era of philosophy, discussion and debate were a common pastime in shops and workplaces within Greece. Why do we not consider that as Priscilla and Aquila were working, Paul stayed with them and discussed and debated with them, their coworkers and customers?
There is no corroboration from any other legitimate source to say that Paul made tents and sold them, nor that he ever collected financial compensation of any kind. I’m not saying that this is the lifestyle for just anyone - if He calls you, He will provide. If you call yourself to this life because your heart is moved, that is a precarious position. You must be sure that God Himself is calling you to a life that abandons all to follow Him, and put all your trust in His provision.
Anne and I didn’t just step into this life on a whim - God took years and years to mold us and transform us into the people that could begin to trust Him in this way. He led us down a path that grew our trust in Him day by day. When He finally told us to step out, we stepped out, like the “Leap of Faith” in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. And He caught us every time.
We have both applied for work since we started Brave Sky, and God has not once allowed us to find employment, though He has certainly provided opportunities to work by serving others. For nine months we served the needs of a local ranch - we were of the same trade, and we worked gladly and tirelessly because we were serving God first and foremost. We received no compensation for our work. There were no benefits or kickbacks. God called us to serve and we followed without expecting anything in return, working completely free of charge. Because we followed, God provided everything we needed to live and survive and to continue to serve Him (and others) wholeheartedly. Every time He has asked us to serve, we have. Just because we work does not guarantee that a paycheck will materialize.
So it was with Paul - his directive was to build the body of believers, not collect a paycheck. Paul’s career went from destruction of those who followed Jesus and suddenly transformed into a career of construction of those who followed Jesus. THIS was Paul’s career - building “tents” (the same word applied to “bodies” of people) - Paul is most known for “building” groups of people who worshiped Jesus as the Messiah. Paul was a church builder - AKA a tent maker.
Paul lived out the instructions Jesus laid out when He sent out his twelve disciples:
“Freely you received, freely give. Don’t acquire gold, silver, or copper for your money-belts. Don’t take a traveling bag for the road, or an extra shirt, sandals, or a staff, for the worker is worthy of his food. When you enter any town or village, find out who is worthy, and stay there until you leave. Greet a household when you enter it, and if the household is worthy, let your peace be on it; but if it is unworthy, let your peace return to you. If anyone does not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that house or town. - Matthew 10:8-14 (CSB)
And much later, in a followup discussion,
Jesus also said to them,“When I sent you out without money-bag, traveling bag, or sandals, did you lack anything?” “Not a thing,” they said. - Luke 22:35 (CSB)
Just as Jesus mentioned that “the worker is worthy of his food,” an Old Testament law to reward those who obey God’s command to work (Deuteronomy 24:14-15 & 25:4) so today those completely following God should be provided with basic necessities needed as they do good work in His name.
So what’s the difference between we who are called to minister through Brave Sky, and a pastor or priest or a minister of any other sort who is financially funded without additional employment? Is it seminary accreditation? What kind of legitimacy is expected for a ministry such as ours?
Brave Sky is 501(c)3 recognized, which means that we have been approved by the IRS as a tax-exempt charitable organization. There are testimonies of those we’ve served and helped. We have no congregation or constant funding - what more do people expect from us to prove that we are “on a mission from God”?
Hearing our story is the first step.
Acts 18:3 is the #1 excuse used by “Christians” who refuse to financially support fellow believers whom God has called to minister and serve as His full-time representatives, loving and serving people. These ministers will be able to prove by testimony that God has called them, and will be recognizable due to their actions matching their words.
Jesus said “You will recognize my followers by their actions.” - Matthew 7:20
The true, unashamed lifestyles of the followers of Jesus were known for their radical generosity, servant leadership, peacemaking, forgiveness, pursuit of truth and rejection of religious hypocrisy. All these characteristics are the exact opposite of those who claim to follow Jesus on a large scale today…
As a whole, today’s “Christians” are known for dictatorship, abusive leadership, antagonization, hatred, unforgiveness, intolerance, pursuit of personal happiness and pleasure, traditional hypocrisy and fraud, and most of all: extreme lack of generosity. Don’t believe me? Google it. And we certainly aren’t known for following this command:
“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.” - Galatians 6:10 (CSB)
THIS SHOULD NOT BE!
Why would anyone want to become a follower of Jesus when his representatives live the complete opposite of everything He did and stood for?!
EVEN THOSE WHO DO NOT CLAIM TO LOVE AND FOLLOW GOD DO NOT DO THESE THINGS!
Christians are supposed to be a name representing the character and life and love of Christ. In the Hebrew language, one is only called a singer if she is actively singing. One is not a father unless he is actively fathering. A Christian, by definition, is one living in the echo of Christ.
If you call yourself a Christian, are you living in the echoes of Jesus Christ? Are you known for your servant leadership, peacemaking, forgiveness, pursuit of truth and rejection of religious hypocrisy? Are you known for your radical generosity?
Check yourself before you wreck yourself. Just sayin’….