Recently we were asked through a social media platform why we celebrate Christmas the way we do, specifically how we as Christians are ok with using old pagan rituals during the holidays. As you may or may not be aware, most of the ways modern holidays are celebrated is by using old pagan rituals surrounding an astronim event such as a solstice, equinox, or moon cycle. New believers coming out of neo-paganism may especially have questions as to how these rituals can be used in a Christian context. I took some time to put together a response, and thought it would be worthwhile to post it here on the Staff Blog as well. Enjoy!
There are several reasons why we, along with other Christians celebrate Christmas the way we do. The first that comes to mind is that Jesus is the great Redeemer; it’s who He is and it’s what He does. He makes all things new (2 Corinthians 5, Revelation 21); He redeems our lives from the pit (Psalm 103), and by faith in Him, we can be a part of that redemption. Paul says in I Timothy 4:5 that even our food is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. The context of that Timothy scripture is especially relevant to the Christmas issue because Paul was writing to Timothy, a pastor of a church in a pagan land that still practiced the old pagan rituals.
In Ephesus, where Timothy was located, everyone was taught from childhood to worship and pray to the Greek and Roman pantheons of gods. They would bring offerings to the temple of Minerva (Roman version of the Greek Athena) to pray to “her” for wisdom in warfare and for help in their craft businesses. They would bring food to the temples of Zeus and Aphrodite in hopes that they would be able to bear children and so that their cattle would reproduce in the Spring. It was a highly religious culture full of pagan rituals, so you can imagine that a new follower of Jesus may not yet realize that there is actually only one true God. Many of them evidently believed that Jesus was indeed their savior, but they also still thought that Apollo would grant one wisdom if one brought food to his temple and worshiped him. Paul therefore encouraged Timothy to be aware that these new believers might not yet be able to differentiate between the worship of false gods and the worship of the one true, living God. Paul makes the point several times in his first letter to the Corinthian church that these gods are not gods at all: they are powerless idols, and therefore it’s perfectly safe to eat food that’s been offered to those idols. Since the idols are powerless and false, the food that was offered to them is also powerless, and is just normal food. See I Corinthians 8 and again in I Corinthians 10. However, he gives the caveat that since many new believers don’t yet know that those old gods were false, they could stumble in their faith if they were to see Timothy eating food from Apollo’s temple or Athena’s temple or any of the other “gods”.
Imagine this scenario: a farmer has grown up with the deep belief that in order to get good crops in their farm, they had to take fresh bread and meat to the temple of Demeter (or Roman Ceres), lay that food on the altar, and pray to Demeter several times a year. One day this farmer is in the temple square, having just brought a sacrifice of food to Demeter and is on their way to Apollo’s temple with more food, so that they can pray to Apollo for wisdom. On the way, they hear someone proclaiming a new religion in the public plaza. They stop and listen, and hear a message that causes them to suddenly become aware of their own sin. They begin to see that their motives are corrupt, and they feel dirty. Then they realize that the person proclaiming this new religion is saying that there is one true God, who is the God above all other gods, and that He alone is worthy of worship, but that we are too sinful to approach Him. Thankfully, He has given us a savior, a redeemer, who was betrayed by His people and executed by the Romans, yet He rose from the dead 3 days after His death. The preacher explains that this savior took our sin upon Himself and even BECAME sin for us! (2 Corinthians 5) This means that through God’s only Son, Jesus, we can be clean, forgiven, and made right with the God above all gods. In fact, in light of who God is, all the other gods are shown to be what they really are: useless works of wood and stone fashioned by human beings in our own likeness. So our example farmer falls on his knees and repents of his sinfulness, accepting Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for his sins, and begins to live for Jesus.
There’s a problem, though: they didn’t quite catch the fact that all the other gods are worthless. They are a brand-new Christian, and have much to learn. They feel in their heart, though, that they should no longer bring food sacrifices to Demeter; they have a feeling inside (because of the Holy Spirit), that they should have faith in Father God that He will provide for them, and that God will bless his farm crops because of Jesus, and not because the farmer brings sacrifices to Demeter's temple. But then one day they see their pastor Timothy and some of the church elders in Demeter’s temple! You can almost hear the young believer's thoughts: “GASP! What is this?? Why is my pastor Timothy in Demeter’s temple? And look: he is getting the food and taking it home to eat!” For this new believer, seeing this could shake their faith and make them think that they SHOULD still be worshiping the old gods. They might think that Jesus is actually just another of the many gods, and that they should still be worshiping Demeter, Zeus, and the other gods along with Jesus.
That is the situation which Paul was addressing when he taught that it is just fine to eat that meat, BUT if doing so will cause another believer to stumble in their faith, it would be better not to eat that meat. It would be more loving to forego the discounted food until the new believers have been taught more thoroughly. In that situation, Timothy should not eat the meat, even though he knows it would be perfectly fine to do so, because it would be unloving to the young believer, as they don't yet know that Jesus alone is God.
I think this historical instance is relevant to your question because as Christians, we know that decorating a pine tree in celebration of Jesus’ birth can be a worshipful experience. We gather our families together and give each other gifts in honor of God giving the ultimate Gift to us (His son Jesus). We light the tree because Jesus is the great Light who came into our dark world. We string up green holly on our doorways because Jesus brings life into even the coldest of hearts, and causes us to be spiritually evergreen, even in a cold dark world, we can be alive because Jesus is inside of us! Students of history know that Jesus was most likely born in Spring or Summer, but the early Church redeemed the Winter Solstice celebration and took it over for Jesus. They used the fact that everyone was already celebrating the solstice as a way to turn the tide of culture in God’s favor, much like they did with the Spring Solstice celebration, wherein they turned it around to become a celebration of Jesus rising from the dead (Easter).
Another point here: it was originally God’s idea to celebrate seasonal changes and moon cycles. If you look in the Old Testament law, God commands His people to celebrate new moons and to mark the changing of seasons with celebrations, feasts, fasts, etc. God wants us to be aware of how faithful He is throughout our lives, and one way to do that is to be aware of seasonal changes, and to remember how God has been good to us during the previous season. The pagans distorted the original celebrations by turning them into the worship of nature, drawing down the moon, and other methods which they believed would give them power, but in the beginning, God had holy intentions for helping us to mark the changing of time.
This also happened when the early Church fathers decided to make Sunday the start of the week, and for it to be the day they met together. Traditionally, the Hebrews met on Saturdays because that was the Sabbath, but after Jesus rose from the dead (on a Sunday), the Church decided to make Sunday the new Sabbath, and for that to be the day they would meet.
So you can see a long history of redemption in this: God’s people redeem days and celebrations, using them to celebration Jesus and the goodness of God.
Another point that comes to mind is from Titus 1:15: “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.” As God has purified our hearts by Jesus, we can use powerless objects like an evergreen tree and boughs as tools to worship the only true God and the amazing gift of His Son.
As seasons change in the natural we often see that spiritual changes come in seasons as well. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). For every matter that concerns us is one in which the Lord has already seen. He is the One who knows the seasons and has set them in place. Our lives are often in seasons as well.
When we examine how chapter 3 lists out every sort of season a life could possibly experience; the good, the bad and the ugly, we also see that seasons are inevitable. They come along in cycles and times just as they were created. Each one bringing its own value in order to make life grow, rest, reproduce, and pass away.
As the natural seasons change so our spiritual lives can change as well. In order for our natural seasons to change there is an aligning and positioning of the earth, sun, and moon. All of these must get into position before we feel and see the manifestation of a new season. Within our spiritual lives, we also must get into position and get ourselves aligned properly for the changes ahead.
So often we are looking for changes and hoping to see God shift our situations, but we forget that we must take part in the positioning and aligning of ourselves for a coming season. Sometimes we need to align ourselves with education in an area God is taking us into; learn a new skill. Sometimes we need to be strong, healthy and ready for a new season by resting and taking care of our health. Sometimes we need to walk away from something comfortable and align ourselves with a new surrounding. All of this positioning, while praying and seeking God, gets us ready for the seasonal changes in our lives.
God moves when we align ourselves with what He is doing, and then we see the fruit of each season as old ways pass away and new beginnings start. Each season carries wisdom and experiences from the past so that the future is more fruitful.
As the seasons change, summer to fall, prepare yourself for what is ahead. Just as you plan for the change in the natural, plan for a change in the spiritual. Start looking ahead to all the Lord desires in your life, get ready for it. Align yourself for this change.
Jesus, rather upset, says in Luke 12:56, “Hypocrites you know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?”. He is talking about our ability to see when the natural seasons are changing and yet not seeing the spiritual changes. It is essential that we look beyond the natural situations and see the good plan our God has-pray for this Good plan in your own life and the lives of those around you.
In 1 Chronicles 12, we read about the sons of Issachar who “…understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” They were a generation, sons, from the tribe of Issachar who recognized what was happening in their times, and therefore knew what to do. Whatever season you are in personally, think about the natural as well. Consider these parallels in your life:
Sow seeds—build new relationships
Growth—develop new opportunities or ideas
Planting—settle into new goals or plans
Longer days—give more time to people or plans
Growth and fruit—harvest the good in opportunities and relationships
Heat—let the intensity and your passion for God be known
Harvest—gather people for fellowship or training
Cooling off—slow down and enjoy your blessings
Dying—let old ways go
Store up—gain knowledge and more understanding
Rest—take time to regain strength
Snow—forgive people and cover them in blessing
We are best at being spiritually fruitful in all seasons when we can recognize what to do. Whatever season you feel you may be in, start moving and praying according to the needs of that season and you will break through into the next season so much more prepared.
We need to be a people who, like the sons of Issachar, understand the times and provide solutions. If we embrace the seasons of our lives and meet the needs of each one, we will all begin to move forward together. Perhaps nations will begin to transform because we understand what to do.
Let’s realize that each of us may feel like we are in different seasons, but this is not a bad thing…it is actually good: while one rests and studies, others gather and plant. The whole Body is still working together; advancing the Kingdom. Ultimately whatever you’re going through is a now season and all of us are hoping to see God move now so that the Kingdom is truly catapulted forward.
What a wonderful year ahead! Each and every year comes with HOPE! The rest is up to us and what we do with it. May all of us take hold of the HOPE of this world and run with joy to complete all that He has given us to accomplish. It is my hope that all of us will complete the goals and expectations that this year presents and we will see tangibly the advancements we have made!
Colossians 3:23–24 says, " Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." This truth is amazing because it's about our perspective on life. "Whatever you do" is a statement full of hope; full of life. In this year, in your life, whatever you do, do it for Jesus. It doesn't matter how big or how small the tasks of each day may be because all of it is holy unto the Lord. He alone is the One watching while you pick up after others, do the dishes, complete all the daily tasks your boss gives you, or tackle that new adventure that has been waiting for you to embrace. He alone sees what you do and how well you do it. You may never get a thank you or a moment of appreciation, but be joyful in accomplishing what is given to you. The Lord is the One who will give you an inheritance; a reward. Let this year be the one that we remind ourselves it is all for Him.
I remember a time when my children, all four of them, were small and I was working full time as a first-grade teacher. From sun-up to sun-down I was surrounded by little children. And as many of us know, children have many needs. My chores and job responsibilities were constant and by 9 pm I just wanted to go to bed. I would fall into bed only to wake a few times at night to take care of a baby and to wake in the morning tired but having to do it all over again. There were times when I thought the growing laundry pile might actually swallow me and would anyone even notice. Life can become quite mundane and the mundane can be exhausting. All I knew to do was ask the Lord for help and to keep going. It was in the mundane of life, the routine, the ordinary that I learned how everything from changing diapers to grading papers was holy. Whether this year is exciting or mundane, it all counts. Jesus is there even in the mundane.
We are all part of one BIG plan. Each one of us has different jobs and responsibilities, but our God sees us and He hears us. All that lay ahead, ordinary or not, is exciting to Him. He calls it holy! Our lives impact and our attitudes influence. The people of the world will think us strange when we reflect the attitude and work habits of our God. They will wonder why we show up each day ready to succeed...and may it make them wonder. They will wonder why we are joyful in a world so full of hurt...and may it make them wonder. Whatever we do, may we do it for you, Jesus, …and may they wonder enough to know Him too!
Here is what I feel over this year: This is a year of breakthroughs and rising up. It's a year of turning around for those headed in the wrong direction. It's the start of new beginnings for the whole nation but there is an opposition coming that has a real hatred for the goodness of God, however, it will find itself frustrated. People will begin to speak a different kind of talk and see things more clearly. The nation will become tenser but the church will expand undercover and underground.
While attending the Art Institute for Web Design and Development, I worked various jobs to afford the gas to commute to class, and lots of vegetarian food. Most of these jobs were in retail (vitamin stores and a local health food store...what can I say, I dig nutrition). However, my most recent job was at a 1920's themed cafe in the city, where I was able to pursue a hobby I always thought would be fun to learn: coffee making.
After taking some classes at a local coffee roaster (Espresso 101, Espresso 201, Milk 301), I was starting to feel like a highly educated "coffee snob". Who knew so much math and science went into a simple cup of joe? Then, once I finally had my first shift on my own at the cafe, I felt like a Barista.
Early on into my "barista career" I was invited to a "throw down" in Lancaster, PA. What is a throw down, you may ask? Well, it's all about the latte art, my friend. Two baristas go head-to-head at pouring their best (prettiest) cappuccino, and a group of blind judges pick which one they think is best, until the ultimate winner is chosen. The baristas at the coffee shop that hosted the throw down were so encouraging and ultimately got me to participate. I didn't get past the first round (that's what happens when you go against one of the best right away), but everyone was just genuinely stoked that a newbie like me tried at all! Months go by, and I am constantly working to improve the consistency, quality, and "prettiness" of the drinks I am making. A peak on my Instagram account can show the progress I made, which was really cool to see. Some of the regulars at the cafe even took the time to mention my improvement.
Before long, another throw down was coming up. Summer was coming to a close and the "Back 2 School Throw Down" was happening. The two weeks before the throw down, my coworkers and I were practicing every moment we could (many cappuccinos were drunk) and I was feeling prepared.
I ended up going against my best friend in the first round, with me progressing to the next level. Before I knew it, the organizer called to say that we were taking a break before the Final 4 go head-to- head in the finally. I was in the FINAL FOUR! I couldn't believe it. I was ecstatic. The three other contestants were all people in the local coffee community that I highly respected and knew well (including my boss) so the only way I was going to progress any further in the competition was by pure luck. I ended up holding my ground as 4th place, but I didn't mind at all. I was so proud of myself. My coworkers and I were especially proud of my "Barista Boss", Sarah, for taking 1st place! Secretly we all knew she would roast everyone at the throw down (pun intended).
Practice makes (almost) perfect...
Not long after that throw down, I had my first day at Global Awakening. My first job relating to my major, my first "career job", my first office job, my first full-time job, and my first salaried job. I was so excited and feeling like an adult, but also feeling a little bummed to no longer be a Barista and a part of the "coffee community". You see, both Web Design and Coffee were big passions and hobbies of mine, so having to let one go was a bit difficult. Nonetheless, I tried my best to embrace this change. This 9-5 office work flow was certainly a change of pace from my days at the cafe. Closing every night, having late morning coffee dates, and working all weekend to Monday through Friday 9am to 5pm, weekends off? It was sort of a rough adjustment. Weekends off are SO NICE though. And let me tell ya, my stress levels? Are at practically zero after leaving the hectic restaurant environment and replacing it with a cozy swivel chair and computer work. The biggest thing I worry about on the daily is making sure I get to bed in time to get all 8 hours of sleep. #adulting
Speaking of "adulting", did I tell you that I started eating salads? Yeah, salads. Every day. AND I've been getting 8+ glasses of water a day. Where do I get my grown-up award?
I think now I can say I am both the resident Jr Web Developer AND the resident coffee snob wizard at the Global Awakening office, and I am more than happy to provide advice on both subjects.
Five years ago I packed up all I owned, slung it into the hatch of my Toyota Tacoma and began my journey from Murfreesboro, TN to Mechanicsburg, PA.
I had never heard of Global Awakening, Randy Clark, or the Charismatic Movement. I actually was moving to Mechanicsburg because of a faith based dance studio, Dance Revelation. My dream was to own my own dance studio.
My first year living in Mechanicsburg involved lots of healing and learning. I had just come out of an unhealthy relationship, I was away from my family, and had many broken friendships. Honestly, I was angry with God. I felt like He didn’t see me, or care about all the pain I was going through. I thought I didn’t need him, so I tried to figure it all out by myself.
In January of that year I had a, “come to Jesus moment” as I was driving down the interstate crying, angry, and thinking depressing thoughts. I heard the Lord say, “I see you. I want you. Trust in me.” Just hearing those words confirmed an identity within me that I had been searching for.
Part of the healing process He led me through was being a teachable Servant. I’ve worked behind the scenes in almost every department for Global Awakening: cafe, dance, bookstore, and web over the past five years. The Lord is continuing to show me how to be a faithful behind the scenes servant, and that being faithful in the small things reaps big reward. It’s all part of the trusting process.
My husband, Jeremiah (Randy Clark’s youngest son) and I got married in August of 2013, and have both worked for Global Awakening throughout our marriage. I think it’s important to note that Jeremiah embodies the DNA of Global: loving, passionate, fearless, humble servant, and motivated. Without realizing it, God was continuing to heal my heart with exactly what He knew I needed. He really does know the desires of our hearts before we even do!
As Jeremiah and I are prepare to move out of the state, I find myself looking back at 19 year old Lizzie and realizing how God has been so faithful to me. I’m moving now with a healthy marriage, new family, and absolutely amazing friends. I never asked God for any of those things. He’s just a good father!
The most important lesson I’ve learned from all these multiple moves, life changes, and spur of the moment decisions — besides the fact that I’m a total free spirit unicorn — is that if you trust Him in the unseen, the process becomes opportunity to build faith for yourself and others around you. God really does have the best things in store for you, and there is nothing you can do to make Him love you less. Finding joy in the process of hardship has been one of the most rewarding lessons.
I hope to always embody the heartbeat of Global Awakening, which is to serve well, love others fearlessly, lead with a humble heart, and dream big!
Editor’s Note: Lizzie has been a great help for many of us here in the Global offices, and I had the pleasure of working with her as part of the Web team. She has been instrumental in getting our email newsletters completed on time, and has ministered to many over our live webcasts. As we say goodbye to her as a staff member, it is my distinct honor to certify her as officially awesome. — Joseph Cotten
“Mary nodded…the ox and lamb kept time…I played my drum for Him…I played my best for Him! Then He smiled at me!”
These words from the popular Christmas song hit my heart like an arrow one morning. God began speaking to me about the role of a mother. Now, I am a new mom so this could have easily stayed within the realm of child raising, but God is calling all of us further. He is taking us beyond the comfortable, and into authority.
Mary nodded. The nod of approval from a mother released a poor boy to give his best and worship our King. Her nod set creation into keeping rhythm.
I know, I know, this isn’t scripture. But I feel that God was pointing out the essential role of Mothers and Fathers in the faith. Pointing out the need for them to rise up and give approval. To release people to give their best, to feel His smile on their life.
A father or mother says to them, “What you have and who you are is enough. Its welcome, beautiful, and valued.”
It may be loud, disruptive, and send a shock into the “silent night.” But Jesus smiles.
A mothers’ nod started it all, her life laid down was seen by God. When people show you what they have do you judge it? It may be a horrible mess, it may be broken or weak, but can you see the joyous rhythm to come? Can you see the child of God beneath it all?
This is what God is asking me.
We are Sons and Daughters of the Most High, become mothers and fathers as soon as we can see that each life has something to offer Jesus. We are here to lead that life to freedom in worship.
Two loaves and five fish fed over 5,000. Look what happens when something is given to Jesus. He is awesome.
Maybe you are entering this season and all around you is the tunnel of chaos. Give him one second of trust, and he will show you the light at the end.
Maybe you are like me, a long time Christian and your heart is crying to reveal the depths of significance in this season. Look for those who need to be released, who need to feel some acceptance from the God that loves unconditionally. See the gold, see the beautiful tune to be drummed out, and come along side of them! Let them know it is good.
They are good.
They are His. Messy, broken, and weak, we are His. And over us, Jesus is smiling.
His coming as a fragile baby was a declaration to the messed up world “Come as you are, I make all things new.”
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To grant those who mourn in Zion,
Giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.
So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
You are anointed to declare the favor of Jesus. You are anointed to bring the good news, anointed to reveal Jesus. So those who were once captive would be called “oaks of righteousness.”
My prayer for all of us this holiday season is that we would boldly give all we have. That we would love deeply, setting aside our pride, and be vulnerable. Pray for the sick, Jesus who came as a baby, is the healer still today.
Jesus has poured out his approval over us. Will I realize that? Will I stand in joy and love, and serve Him without fear?? Will my life reveal Jesus this Christmas? We can change the world this season if we all answer YES.
For this year’s humanitarian aid project, Global Awakening wanted to meet a need for our good friends over at Iris Ministries in Mozambique. Early this month I traveled with Will Hart and a team to Pemba to begin the construction of a church and the drilling of a well. The project took place in a village about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the Iris base.
Through Iris outreach, this village that was once completely muslim has had almost all of its residents converted to Christianity within the last year. The transition has happened so quickly that they constructed a temporary church building out of mud and bamboo so they could have a place to meet.
Working with Iris' construction team, we started construction on the church the day after we arrived. The first thing we did was start work on the foundation of the 30′ × 100′ building. Dump truck after dump truck arrived in this remote village to drop off red sand, boulders, cement mix, and cement blocks.
For the next 6 days we built up the church. It was amazing to see the community’s reaction to not only the church building, but the well that had been drilled prior to our arrival. The gratitude poured out of every person that came up to greet us as they told us that the project was impacting their lives in a profound way: women who had been walking up to 20 miles a day to get clean water for their families now had clean water in their own village. From morning until evening, the hand-pumped well did not stop. People came from not only the village to get water, but from miles away.
One morning on our way to the building site, we stopped to get bread to feed every person in the village (about 400 people). When I asked how much it would cost to get enough bread to feed everyone, I was shocked to hear that it would only take $20 USD. Twenty dollars to feed every person in that village.
While we walked from hut to hut with the pastor handing out bread, we asked who was in need of prayer. Almost every person had an ailment of some kind. Many were healed as we layed our hands on them and prayed. One of the most notable healings was that of a woman who was suffering from vision loss in her right eye. After praying for a short time, her vision was restored!
As we finished up our work on the church building, I found it hard to leave the people of the village. We had in just a few days developed such a friendship despite the language barrier. It’s hard not to be changed when you see how grateful people are for the things we take for granted every day. They were so thankful for having a place worship Jesus, and having clean water and food.
Many people have come up to me and told me how they wished they could have an opportunity to do things like this. My response is always the same: you can. James 1:27 says “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress…” There are people who are hungry, homeless, orphaned, and widowed right in your home town.
This project would not have been possible without the continued support of Global Awakening Partners. Although you may not be able to see the impact on the ground, you share in the reward! It’s only because of people like you that we’re able to continue to tend to the widows and orphans around the globe.
We shot a video while we were there of Will and Heidi Baker talking about the project. Click below to watch.
If you are interested in more information or how to donate to Global Awakening’s Humanitarian Aid Projects, you can email me at email@example.com.
Jeff Myers, Events Director interviews John Rolf…
Jeff: Give us an overview of your life story.
John: I’m from Lufkin, TX. It’s a little town in the Piney Woods of Deep East Texas. I was born, raised and lived most of my life in that area. I grew up in church, got baptized as a kid on Easter; but it was just religious routine. I didn’t really meet Jesus until I was 16 when I had a youth leader who took me under his wing and saw the call of God on my life for ministry. I began leading worship at that point and getting really involved in ministry. I knew at 17 that I was called to give my life to full time ministry.
After high school, I studied radio, television and film. During college I took my first official ministry job as a youth pastor at a small church in Palestine, TX. I had a youth group of about ten and found out pretty quickly that youth ministry wasn’t my calling!
In my early days of ministry I served in local churches as a worship pastor and also travelled as a worship leader with a Baptist evangelist. It was during that time that I met my wife, Jessica. We actually first met when we were four because we were in the same preschool class. She still has the class photo with both of us in it! We’ve been married for almost 15 years and have two young sons.
So since 1997 I’ve served in vocational ministry, and before coming to Global, I was the Senior Worship Arts Pastor at a large church in the DFW area for 8 ½ years.
Jeff: When was your first connection to Global Awakening?
John: In Dallas, my wife had been hanging out with some spirit-filled ladies. My background and theology was far from charismatic and I was really skeptical. I thought they were all nuts but I knew my wife wasn’t! Over a 2-year period of watching my wife and hearing some of her experiences, I opened up a bit. She arranged for the lady who led the group to prophesy and minister to me. They never mentioned “prophecy”, they just said “Hey, can we pray for you after the church service.” I was clueless that I was being set up.
We use terms like impartation, activation, baptism in the Spirit – all those different things. Whatever you want to call it, I got it ALL when she laid hands on me. I resisted it at first and was freaked out, but f
inally just said yes to God. I said, “Okay God, this has to be you. Whatever you want to do, I’m yours.” God took over and I started to vibrate and tremble and had the most significant encounter of my life. I got full on whacked! The effects and manifestations of that encounter lingered for over 2 weeks. I was like, what in the world is happening to me? I cried, I shook, I laughed, I got a prayer language. God started speaking to me in dreams in an overwhelming way. I got a boldness to start praying for people and started seeing healings and miracles. It all happened so quickly and I was legitimately clueless, so I started looking for training and ways to grow. That’s when I ran across Randy and Global Awaken
ing. A couple years later, I attended the Awakened to Destiny conference in Dallas. That was when I had my first physical touch with Global and it was a defining moment in our lives.
Jeff: What is your role at Global Awakening?
John: My title is Director of Media; which covers Graphics, Web, IT and Media. My department handles all the video production, live streaming of events and the media that you purchase in the bookstore. We handle all of the graphics and print material and also manage the entire web presence for the ministry. Our team stays busy!
Jeff: What is the greatest miracle or testimony that you’ve ever filmed or edited?
John: Probably the first one that jumps out at me was a lady in Brazil on an IMT trip. I wa
s filming during an evening church service and on the other side of the room I hear this scream. It was blood curdling and everyone in the room turned to try and see what was going on. I went running over there with my camera. A crowd had formed and people were saying, “This lady’s eyeball is growing back!” I pressed through the crowd and it was true. Her eye was reforming in the socket. It was crazy!
Jeff: Is it true you were named after the husband of Pocahontas?
John: No, but I probably am related! He had an “e” at the end of Rolfe and my family actually used to have an “e” at the end. My great-grandfather stowed away on a ship from Southampton, England to the States. When he arrived at the port, for some reason they made him drop the “e”.
Jeff: Which came first, building motorcycles or learning your first video editing software?
John: Editing software… but restoring vintage motorcycles is my favorite hobby right now. I have a weird obsession with taking old crusty worn out stuff and bringing it back to life. So the only resurrections I’ve seen so far are a couple of old bikes!
Jeff: Over the next five to ten years, what do you hope to see from your department in media? Where are you going to take it?
John: I’d like to see our resources tailored to a broader audience than just the Global stream. I’d like to change things around to where this movement is more accessible outside of the normal crowd. I don’t know exactly what that looks like yet, but video and web is where everything is happening right now. The world is more connected today than anytime in history and we have a massive opportunity to use media to see even more people step into what we’ve experienced.
Treasures Hidden in the Darkness
A few weeks ago, a prophet chased me down in the middle of downtown. He was shouting prophetic words at people. It was annoying. I ignored him. But then he said something to me there was no way he could've known. And then he said my name. We had never met. I turned to listen. "Three years ago," he said to me, "you thought you were done for. But you have a secret weapon. It's the darkness, it's hiddenness."
This was all in a dream, of course. But I listen to my dreams.
God spoke to Abraham about a grand future. And then it took forever and a day for it to happen. I wonder what was formed in Abraham during that in between time? It was an opportunity - for depth, trust, and companionship with Yahweh. I think Abraham took the opportunity. He was, in the end, called "a friend of God." Now there's a secret weapon.
God spoke to Joseph about an unfathomable destiny. And then Joseph was promptly betrayed, enslaved, nearly murdered, falsely accused, and imprisoned. So, I wonder what he gained during those dark seasons? They were an opportunity. For depth, trust, and companionship with Yahweh - things he would need desperately during his next season. Those years of darkness and hiddenness ended up becoming his secret weapon.
Mehdi Dibaj was an Iranian pastor who was arrested for apostasy and spent nine years in prison. One month before he was released, he stood before the Islamic court and gave the most beautiful, courageous defense of his faith. You can read it here. When he was finally released from prison (January 1994), he said this:
“God gave me the unique privilege to spend nine years in prison for his Name sake. They turned out to be the best years of my life, because what I had believed while free, is what I experienced while in prison; ‘Lo, I am with you always’...Close to Jesus changes the worst prison into a paradise.”
In the darkness and in the seasons of hiddenness lie opportunity. Secret weapons are forged. Depth, faith, authenticity, companionship with Jesus, authority. What the enemy tries to kill us with, God wields into weapons that haunt the devil in ways he never foresaw. Silly ‘ol devil. Redemption wins.
May all that is opposed to God’s perfection in our lives be diminished. May all that is torn up and broken and chaotic be stitched together and healed and made right. And also, at the same time, may we all be convinced of Yahweh's heart, when He says to us what He said to King Cyrus... "I will give you the treasures hidden in the darkness - the secret riches."
Powerful Praying Parents Unite!
You don’t have to do everything right as a parent, but there is one thing you cannot afford to get wrong…prayer. You’ll never be a perfect parent, but you can be a praying parent. Prayer is your highest privilege as a parent. Prayer turns ordinary parents into prophets who shape the destinies of their children, grandchildren and every generation that follows.
My husband, Joshua, and I have three amazing children: Simeon (6), Selah (4), and Malakai (2). As you might imagine, life is incredibly full and rewarding, if not also, at times, challenging and exhausting. About a year ago my sister mailed me a little book titled, “Praying Circles Around Your Children.” My husband and I had always prayed for our children---short prayers on the way to school, before naps, bed times, ect.—, but everything changed when I read this little book.
My eyes were opened; my heart stirred. I shared the amazing insights from the book with my husband and we changed our prayers from, “Lord let them follow you all the days of their lives” to “Lord, let them want to know you more each and every day of their lives.” we didn’t want them to just be followers; we wanted them to be lovers of Him. I finished this small book soaking in each and every word, hungry to start this new prayer journey with my family.
So we sat down and tailored a prayer list for each child. We listed their strengths and struggles, as well as what the Lord had spoken to us about them. Then we found Bible verses to go with each topic area (e.g., fear, love, grace, anger, etc.). We incorporated these verses into our family prayer time, which was becoming more intentional and powerful. We prayed over our children with a greater passion, a greater purpose. We understood we were shaping their destinies and pushing back the powers of darkness, which would have all people be fearful—afraid of not being liked, accepted or loved. We were laying the foundation of God’s perfect love, which drives out all fear.
Honestly, I don’t know what I am doing as a parent most of the time and often fail miserably. I sometimes get overly mad about trivial things: cluttered rooms, spilled cereal, and soiled carpet—and that’s just from this morning alone! I forget to extend the grace that has been so beautifully given to me. I know there are so many that feel this same way. I encourage you to stop, plant your feet and pray for your children. Prayer helps focus your priorities on the eternally significant, and in doing provides peace (both to your child and you).
“[I]f you are willing to interrupt your sleep cycle, if you are willing to get on your knees and intercede for your family, God will answer your prayers long after you are long gone. Don’t lose heart. Don’t lose hope. Don’t lose faith.”
Living each day with a FRESH perspective and being confident in YOU was our focus this past dance season. We learned that “this” is your moment! I have witnessed many students this year take on this type of mindset, overcome their obstacles and learn
from each other through demonstrating love and grace to one another.
We kept in mind that when you try to be someone other than yourself, you will not end up being the best version of you. When you are true to who you are and who God made you to be, you will more naturally be able to fulfill your purpose and be the best version of yourself that you are destined to be. When you free your mind from the competition of the world, focusing rather on your purpose in this life rather than comparing yourself to others, you will open yourself up to letting go and keeping your mind on the greater.
Building your foundation helps you become a more faithful and hopeful you, seeking after your goals and fulfilling your dreams. Live for today for you know not what will bring. You, yourself, can change a life, even in a moment. Your actions, your words, carry power.
Live each day as a fresh start day, a fresh way to make a difference, a fresh chance to be the person you were made to be. When you wake up in the morning, think of how today is your very best day. Look at things with fresh eyes, and focus on the bigger picture. Keep childlike hope, love, and faith, for each day is your first and only time to experience that day.
Be thankful for who is in your life. See the best in everything around you. Realize that you can and should live in the moment. Appreciate the here and now. Open your heart, soul, and mind to learn from yesterday and apply it to today. Faithfully believe for the greater . In everything you do, be the best YOU.
Johannah Leach, daughter of Randy Clark, founded Dance Revelation in 2007. Dance Revelation is part of Global Awakening and serves the local community. The staff has grown to 9 employees with over 250 students coming through our doors in any given dance year.
Dance Revelation trains and equips the body of Christ starting at a very young age. Doors are open to students as young as age two all the way through adulthood, exposing students to mentors and an atmosphere of love, faith, and acceptance.
Dance Revelation impacts families and the community by imparting the gift of dance, expression, and creativity. Some of our students have formed a worship team, traveling and worshiping the Lord through dance. Their worship and devotion to God impacts the body by moving them to spend time with God in new ways.
As of today, Dance Revelation is less than two weeks away from their Annual Performance (June 12 and 13), a two-night event that showcases what students have learned since September. We invite you to watch via our webcast. You can sign up by clicking on the link provided below. We hope you enjoy seeing a bit of what our students are accomplishing.
We look forward to be frequent contributors to this blog and keeping you updated on the excitement of our Annual Performance and upcoming events.
I have had the privilege over the last two plus years to see God move in wonderful healing power to those who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) through a Healing Prayer Model that was developed through the leading of the Holy Spirit and with assistance from professionals who have worked with those with PTSD. One of the primary symptoms of PTSD is the inability to sleep for long periods of time, and also to have sleep patterns disrupted by nightmares, night terrors, tremors, “night sweats”, and anxiety attacks brought on by flashbacks of traumatic experiences. As I pray for someone who has these symptoms, I declare to them the promise of the Father from Proverbs 3:24–26 which states:
It is exciting the next day after receiving prayer that these folks come to me to testify that they slept the entire night with no disturbance but in complete peace. This is a primary indication that they have received healing for their PTSD. You don’t have to suffer with PTSD to deal with sleepless nights and interruption of sleep cycles by nightmare and attacks from the evil one who seeks to take you out of the place of peace. This promise from Proverbs declares to every one of the Father’s children that part of our inheritance from Him is that we can experience sweet sleep, not just restful sleep. My prayer for you as you read this today is that you will receive this promise for your life, and receive the blessing of sweet sleep!
I would like to share a little bit of truth that I’ve been standing on this past year: the message of hope.
Hope is the confident expectation in God’s goodness. It says in Zechariah 9:12, “Return to your fortress you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore double to you.” We are told in this scripture to be prisoners of hope.
Hope is a mighty fortress for us. A place of safety and a strong tower we can run to during the challenging times. It’s a choice to walk in hope and trust that God’s goodness will always prevail in our lives. God promises to restore double to us as we stand on this word.
This simple word “Hope” has had a great impact on my life. My prayer is that you will be strengthened by it also.