2022 Autumn > “Open Wide” Letter
When I established Blazing Trees as a new ministry back in 2016, my focus was not sustainability. I was in a dark place spiritually, and I needed a major change in my career. I was exhausted emotionally, and I even considered leaving Gospel ministry altogether. I remember crying out to God every day for help, direction, and answers. I knew he called me to make disciples, but I lost my confidence in what I was doing. I needed a miracle. At this vulnerable crossroads moment, the Holy Spirit gave me a vision for our ministry and asked me to believe in him and take my first steps to begin something brand new.
I desperately needed to learn sustainability in this hard time. I tried various ministry roles in over a dozen organizations, and nothing seemed to fit right; nothing lasted for more than a few years. Looking back, I realized all of those experiences were really important, because God gave me a treasure chest of personal lessons about how a Christian family can become sustainable in the unpredictable adventures of Jesus’ Great Commission.
I know that God is our Sustainer. He says so in Isaiah 41:10, “So, do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (NIV) God is our Helper & Sustainer in Psalm 54:4, “God is my Helper; the LORD is the Sustainer of my life.” (CSB) Yet, in my experience, these verses do not mean that I sit around and do nothing while waiting for angels to provide my food and drink and build me a house to live in. Following Jesus still requires our participation, and as we listen to the Holy Spirit every day, he helps us to discern God’s will. The Spirit guides our thoughts to know each step he wants us to take.
Fast forward to today. For the first time in our organization’s history, I feel sustainable. Over seven years of hard work through prayer, cultivating strong friendships, and fundraising, Blazing Trees has what she needs to keep going. And just like many things in life, I was not aware during this seven-year adventure that God was using the experiences of what I didn’t know or understand yet to prepare me for nurturing health and sustainability in the lives and ministries of others.
I’ve observed hundreds of missionaries facing the same uphill battle to cultivate long-term sustainability in their ministries. And of course, we can’t predict the future. So, even as we nurture sustainability, storms will come, suffering will happen, and we can’t ever depend on what we have here on earth. At the same time, if we will seek God first every day, he will establish us. He has established Blazing Trees, and I know this firm foundation will mean our team can focus and flourish. Furthermore, I’m so blessed to have weekly Kingdom conversations with leaders all over the world focused on the sustainability of our faith, families, finances, and fruitfulness. I now know that one reason God created Blazing Trees is to cultivate spiritual sustainability in our companions’ lives.
Open Wide = Surrender & Trust
The word now for Autumn is Open Wide. In this season, we will focus on surrendering fully to whatever the Holy Spirit reveals, practicing total dependence upon him, and making sure there are no hidden areas of our hearts where we may be holding something back from our Father, Savior, Friend, and Shepherd. God must be more than enough for us.
I’ve been meditating on the word Firstfruits since last Autumn when the Holy Spirit gave me this prophetic word for 2022. I’ve spent a lot of time paying attention to the Kingdom culture of Firstfruits, and here are two of my takeaways:
“The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing stream.” (Isaiah 58:11 NLT) Our culture tells us to be strong on our own. We must rise up in our own knowledge, work hard, and do our best to prove or achieve something. The Kingdom of heaven is not like that. The LORD is our strength, and he sustains us as we remain in relationship with him. If we want to be faithful and fruitful, we don’t need more time to work and produce; instead, we need more time alone with Jesus to rest and be filled with his Holy Spirit.
“Then the angel showed me a river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the city’s street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding fresh fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” (Revelation 22:1-2 TLV) Do you see it? Healing flows from the presence of the Father and the Lamb. What is the Great Commission but the healing of the nations? And in the context of the Great Commission, we see Firstfruits, “bearing twelve kinds of fruit; yielding fresh fruit each month.”
The main Truth I discovered this year is that Firstfruits in heaven is nothing like firstfruits here on earth. Here, we experience firstfruits sometime in late summer or early autumn, but most of the year, we don’t have firstfruits. In heaven, Firstfruits is a culture of the heart, a way of life, a Life Renewal River that flows through our souls to produce fruit that heals all nations. What’s the key? It’s not hard work, intelligent strategies, or great sacrifices. The key to Firstfruits is abiding in Jesus and letting the Spirit flow through us.
Let us open wide our hearts to the fullness of all God wants to pour into us through his Word & Spirit, and let’s remain in this space of trust and surrender for the rest of our days.
+> Article by James Harvey, Blazing Trees CEO/Founder.
James Harvey is passionate about freedom in the Holy Spirit and creates resources focused on helping every day disciples cultivate their passions and flourish in their spiritual gifts.
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