Can you believe it? Forty-five years of ministry. What began with a handful of women has spanned the globe. What started in one nation has reached out even beyond 170 nations. We’re currently in 167 but there have been other nations that have been a part of us and for one reason or another have had to pull back for a season.
When you think of the reach of Aglow, isn’t it staggering? You think of major cities from Los Angeles to London to Mumbai to Buenos Aires. Think of nations like Zimbabwe, China, Pakistan, and Mongolia. We are thriving in Mongolia and in all of these places. We just had a report from our leader related to our groups in China.
It is staggering to think what God has done in the far reaching places of the world, major cities, rural areas; God has touched millions of lives, families. He’s restored, He’s redeemed, He’s healed, He’s delivered, and He reached through our feeding programs in Aglow Manila at the city dump. Refugee camps, public school educational programs, Bible schools, disaster relief, orphanages – it is amazing what Aglow women and now men do around the world.
At the closing of last year’s conference, we heard these words; this is the time of your arising! Do you realize we began hearing that same phrase at the end of 2003 and the beginning of 2004? It’s the time of our arising!
Last year, Johnny Enlow spoke about three segments of times and he felt that 2008 through 2012 was a time of awakening; an expanded vision of Christ and His Kingdom. I can certainly say that’s been true of this ministry through the incredible ministry of Graham Cooke and others.
There is a quickening spirit, a fresh anointing. There is something that is taking place in us personally and in us corporately as we have been awakened to the depths of the Kingdom - to the depths of the gospel of the Kingdom and the enormity, the limitless possibilities of the life that has been deposited in us, the life of Christ.
2012-2015 was a time of arising. So, last year’s theme had to do with arising and this year, our theme is, “Arising to a New Identity.” Do you feel yourself arising?
Aglow’s identity has shifted and changed over the years. We’re not the same ministry that we were in 1967. But at the core, something was established in Aglow from the beginning about who we were, but also present were the seeds of our future, of who we were to become. We weren’t thoroughly awakened to it yet but the seeds were there. And over the years, God has spoken to us prophetically again and again. And really since 2003 there has been a series, a cluster of words that has come to us all pointing in the same direction and all speaking of our arising.
He has been beckoning us from our future, speaking into our present, calling us into the identity that He has seen for us from the beginning. Today we can look back and marvel at where we were, marvel at where we are and, surely, we marvel at what we are becoming. Do we not?
Allison Bown is director of Graham’s Warrior Class. She recently wrote this in an email to us, I continually find your passion (Aglow’s passion) for going to the next level to be amazing. It’s humbling. Most organizations would take a 45th anniversary and spend the year looking back. While your gratitude for what God has done is always present, and it is, you so reflect His passion to move onward and upward.
How true and how particularly true it is in these last eight years that we have been receiving fresh anointing, fresh unction of the Holy Spirit, fresh revelation, fresh insight, fresh upgrades.
I want to take a moment tonight and look back at what I believe is a significant piece that began to unfold in our understanding. Really from 1980 on it was a progressive revelation. It unfolded before us over the years but I believe it is a pivotal point and a foundational piece to:
- what Aglow is,
- who we are as women and ultimately, then,
- who we are as men and women, together.
Initially Aglow was a unique gathering place for women from all denominations. It was a place to share, to be encouraged, and to listen to inspirational speakers. It was a place where the activity of the Holy Spirit was welcomed. The Presence of the Lord was desired and welcomed and it remains so to this day. We never want to rush on in a meeting. I treasure times like this, like our worship tonight.
Then in the 1980s as I said, I believe we began to come into an understanding of who God created us to be as women and I am going to speak directly to women for a few moments. We began to understand the power of Genesis 3:15 and as we came into greater understanding of that scripture, it awakened something in our identity. It prepared us for the hour in which we live and, I believe, it prepares us for the days that are ahead.
Genesis 3:15 is a pivotal point for women and I believe for us as a ministry. Because even as Aglow began as a unique gathering place for women to be inspired, to be encouraged, to be blessed, once you come into an understanding of your purpose and part of the call on your life as a woman, it speaks something into who you are.
You know the scenario, the fall of man had occurred. Jesus came in the cool of the evening and when He asked about the occurrence of that day, it was the woman who first exposed the enemy for who he really is. She nailed him. She called him the deceiver. He deceived me and I ate. And God spoke into that and said, now forever and ever, she will be used to expose you again and again and again and again. She will call you who you really are. The scripture actually says, I am putting enmity between you, Satan and the woman. Between your seed and her seed and there will come a seed from the woman that will be to your utter destruction. Of course, that was the birth of Jesus. But the ongoing principle and the purpose that God was speaking into the woman as the one opposing the enemy - and of course men are too - but this is a specific word to the woman - that He was placing enmity between Satan and the woman.
It’s called - or Graham has referred to it as - the ancient curse spoken to Satan following woman’s exposure of him. You have heard me say this but we often, at least in the past, we often would speak of Satan as being our enemy when in fact, the exact opposite is the truth. We are his enemy! He has known it from the beginning.
He works to intimidate, to deceive, to hinder, to render you powerless and useless and silent because he knows that once you come into the awareness and to the revelation of that purpose of God on your life as a woman, his days are limited.
I believe that word, of course, began in the garden and God intended that it be fulfilled down through the ages. It is being fulfilled in the present hour. Honestly, I do not know another group of powerful prayer warriors (well, actually Graham has one) but think of the anointing, the authority that sits in this room – that is present with you webcasters - that is present across the globe in a 160 nations as women have caught hold of their identity and their purpose as it relates to Genesis 3:15.
Condoleezza Rice recently said, I grew up in the Jim Crow atmosphere of Birmingham, Alabama, where you couldn’t take your daughter to see an afternoon movie or eat a hamburger at the counter in Woolworths. But somehow, my parents instilled in me the belief and the hope that I could one day be President of the United States and I became Secretary of State. Everything about her surrounding circumstances would have said otherwise. Her location, the culture of her day, her color and her gender but she became Secretary of State carrying out the foreign policies of the President of the United States.
Thinking back to 1967, it would not have seemed like a great time for the launching of what would become an international Christian women’s ministry. Forty-five years ago women in general lived with restrictions. They weren’t necessarily racially based or they were not only racially based, but they were gender based. Many grew up in a religious cultural atmosphere that defined women mostly by what they could not do. There was an atmosphere of limitation that was stifling and an attitude that if anything meaningful was going to happen in the church it would happen through men in leadership.
It was a time when the feminist movement began to emerge, yet it was also a time when the June Cleavers’ of the world knew their place. There was a certain mentality within women in that era and in that cultural atmosphere. Both were extremes, and both were unhealthy, and both ran counter to the plan of God as it was set forth beginning in Genesis 1:26-28 when He said to the male and the female, You will walk in dominion in the earth. And then the Genesis 3 scripture that spoke specifically to the woman about the enmity between Satan and the woman.
You’ve perhaps heard me share this before but in the system of Islam the women wear burkas. Time Magazine a few years ago described the burka as a body bag for the living. And in that cultural atmosphere that I’ve just referred to, the church, the religious system put a religious burka over women that hid them, that kept them silent, that rendered them powerless and useless. It ran counter to the very plan God had set in place for men and women from the beginning.
When men and women with prophetic insights began to speak into this ministry - I am thinking from the ‘80s on but specifically I think of words that were spoken over us from 2003 on - it has been incredible if you keep track of the words and pull the threads of them together to see what God has been saying.
We saw it on the screen tonight. Dutch Sheets with the key. He said 22 is your number. Isaiah 22:22 I’m putting an anointing of government upon you. Do you take that seriously? That is an incredible word; a governmental mantel on this ministry. I’m putting the mantel on you now for victory. Come on; get a war cry! He went on to say, Begin to cry out and begin to turn the tide, women, you prayer warriors of Aglow.
It is incredible the things you have spoken into, prayed into, believed for, stood for. I was recently talking with a friend that Tony and I have had for several years and our conversation was about this generation. She said that it is incredible what our generation has done. She wasn’t referring to herself personally or to me personally but was just generalizing. She said that when you think what has come forth in this generation. There was Full Gospel Businessmen, there was Aglow, ORU began in the ‘60s, End Time Handmaidens, Lydia Fellowship, Promise Keepers, 700 Club, and Regent University. You can think of ministries that were both founded and funded by this generation. It is staggering. Does that give you food for thought? That is amazing and it is amazing as we sit here tonight celebrating 45 years of ministry.
Only God in His intentionality could preserve and do something such as this because He has a divine purpose.
Now let’s go to Chuck Pierce. He said, It’s a time to become a force and to take dominion because Aglow is a force in God’s Kingdom. That is just one of many words he has spoken over us.
Asher Intrater spoke to us about being a company of Mary’s. He spoke to us about the end time battle and being willing to help bring Jesus back to earth as a company of Mary’s.
Graham Cooke – We began hearing about favor, identity, inheritance, fullness, majesty, awe, an open heaven, permission being granted, green lights being given. And the burka went flying. The lid blew off and it was the dawning of a new day!
When something new comes alive in you, something of your identity and your purpose, there is no turning back. You have turned a corner. You have come into a new place. You have seen your identity from a higher perspective. You have risen to a new life. You begin to see the greater purpose of God in awakening this part of the Body of Christ. Never in all of history has there been this kind of a worldwide awakening amongst women; God is up to something!
When He spoke to Eve in the garden, that was a single woman. Then you realize what He has done in this worldwide awakening. He has awakened and caused to come into the fullness of identity and understanding, a corporate woman that will fulfill Genesis 3:15. That is no small thing.
Do you realize that before 1988 Aglow didn’t even have a mission statement? But in 1988 we made our statement and let me share it with you. We were Women’s Aglow Fellowship then.
Women’s Aglow Fellowship provides support, education, training and ministry opportunities to help women worldwide discover their true identity in Jesus Christ. We weren’t messing around!
We believe that all women and men are created equal in the image of God each with dignity and value. That God has a unique purpose for each of us and equips us for that purpose.
We can reach our full potential only after finding our identity and restoration in Jesus Christ.
That was our first mission statement!
Identity is the key to where we are going. As we have heard Graham say, identity, knowing who we are, knowing our purpose, identity is the key to transformation.
Last year Graham spoke to us about establishing a new culture in this day of the people of God, the Beloved of God, rising up in the fullness, in the limitlessness of who God created us to be and who He is in us. I heard Graham speak on identity, but recently listened to one of his CDs. I’ve listened to it several times. He spoke about Jesus speaking to Peter. First it was the disciples and then it was Peter saying, Who do you say that I am? Because who he believed Jesus was, was critical to who he would become. Because if we don’t know who He is and who He is in us, we can never rise to who He’s purposed us to be. The response of Peter was, You are the Christ, son of the living God!
The response from Jesus was, Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you. Revelation comes from the Holy Spirit. My Father in Heaven has revealed this to you. Then the scripture goes on to say, On this rock, on this foundational truth is the key to you becoming who I intended you to be, My authority in the earth, My life, My goodness, everything that I am, on this rock, on the truth, I will build My church, I will build My people and hell will never prevail against it.
Peter, let this truth shape who you are, how you think, how you speak, how you behave. That was code for ‘reframe everything’. Reframe your thinking, reframe your speaking and then Jesus went on to say (this is my paraphrased version) there are keys attached to the words I’m speaking to you and they are keys of authority and it is governmental authority. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom and whatever you bind on earth, will be bound in Heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven. That’s Isaiah 22 - Kingdom authority.
It says in Luke, I give you authority to trample on serpents, scorpions and over all the power of the enemy and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
So, I say to you tonight, Who do you say that He is? Because He’s saying to us, It’s the time of your arising! It’s the time you activate all that is within you; which is Me. It is time that you begin to loose that in the earth; loose the authority, loose the identity, loose the purpose. I was thinking about the language of Heaven and it is about identity. From Genesis to Revelation, He tells us who He is and therefore who we are. He spoke to Abraham in Genesis 12 saying this is who you are and I will see to it that you become this. The father of nations, you know the scripture. He was speaking identity.
I’ve heard Graham speak about, we come through encounter and then process or we come through process to an encounter. Abraham had an encounter. He had to walk out the process but he had an encounter with the living God and I believe this Genesis 3:15 scripture, as I’ve said already, is a pivotal point for you as a woman that we have been learning to walk out and I believe its kicking into another gear.
Think of Moses and the burning bush encounter. I’ve seen the oppression of My people and I’m sending you to Pharaoh. You will be as My mouthpiece to Pharaoh. I will make you as God to Pharaoh.
Think of Joshua when he was told to “arise and go over and every place that the sole of your foot treads I’ve already given you”. That’s an encounter. He was going to walk out the process. God said that no man would be able to stand against you. That’s authority. I won’t leave you, I won’t forsake you, be strong, be of good courage. Joshua 3:10 says, By this you shall know that the living God is amongst you, that He will, without fail, drive out every enemy before you. He’s the deliverer, He’s the healer, He’s the restorer, and He’s the mighty God.
He was speaking identity into Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David and Esther. Think of Esther - you’re not an orphan, you’re a queen and I’ve called you for such a time as this. And you ultimately will not only save My people but you will issue a decree that will go across the land that will reverse the curse of the word that the enemy spoke. Maybe that was the first Aglow meeting!
Think of Deborah. She wasn’t just or only a wife. She wasn’t only a prophetess. But God said to her, I am going to use your influence and your authority to sting Israel’s enemies. Pretty powerful words.
How is God using you, your influence, your authority to sting the enemy in your city, your community, this nation at this critical time?
Think of Lydia. Paul heard the Macedonian call. The first thing he did was go to the riverside and he met with a group of women who met there regularly. First Aglow prayer meeting! But their meeting was a powerful connection. Because of his meeting with Lydia and the purposes of God over Paul’s life and her openness to receive what he brought her, she opened her heart, she opened her ears to hear and receive what Paul was saying and the gospel took another huge step forward in Europe.
Think about the fact that all the teachings of Jesus were about our identity. Who we are and how we are to live. That was pre-cross. Then post-cross it was all about being in Christ. Think of the messages of Paul and Timothy. It was all about being in Christ and Christ in us. It was about habitation. It was about the mystery that had been revealed. It had been hid through the ages and now it’s been revealed and the mystery is, Christ in you the hope of glory!
I heard Graham say recently, God has been hammering this truth about identity because it is so critical. It is the key to the transformation God is bringing in us as His people, as His men and women, as His men and women in this ministry and in the body of Christ. This word is key.
I remember Graham saying in 2008, God is going to give you a revelation of Himself that will wreck your world. My world has been wrecked in a wonderful, delightful, powerful, intimate, awesome way. And it is still being wrecked. He said, God, in essence, is saying to you, I’m trading what you’ve known for what I know.
Forty-five years of ministry. The number 45 stands for preservation. You know in Joshua 14 the story of Caleb as he is recalling the word that Moses spoke to him when they were sent out as spies into the land. They had just made an exodus out of a point of slavery and they were going to have to leave all that slavery caused in their lives. Renewed minds, renewed vision, and renewed everything.
Joshua 14:7-12 Joshua said, I was 40 years old when Moses sent me to spy out the land and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart. My brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt but I wholly followed the Lord my God. So, Moses swore on that day saying surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever because you have wholly followed the Lord your God. And now, behold the Lord has kept me alive, He has preserved me these 45 years. Ever since the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness and now here I am this day, 85 years old and yet I am as strong this day as on the day when Moses sent me. And just as my strength was then so now is my strength for war both for going out and for coming in! So, give me the mountain that has been spoken of that is my inheritance is part of my identity.
I claim the mountain that God has spoken over my life. I claim the mountain that He’s spoken over this ministry. We’ve heard messages of the seven mountains, the seven spheres of influence. Let’s take the mountains! Governmentally, let’s take the mountains that have been spoken over our ministry!
The enemy doesn’t want to fight us because he knows he has already lost. That’s why he has worked to silence, to render powerless, to intimidate, to keep us hidden and yet when you think of the emergence of Aglow in the midst of a time when the discipleship teaching, the culture in the church - everything seemed to war against women coming forth in the fullness of who God had called them to be and when you think of all the leader development that has happened in this ministry. You think of the outreach, you think of the women in far reaching places of the world that have risen up to become who God called them to be. Their vision has been lifted higher; they’ve become a voice in the nations of the world.
The enemy has known from the beginning that there is a call, an anointing, an identity related to the woman that has been ordained from Heaven and pronounced over him, the ancient curse. But God is restoring His original intention for women. I believe, in this hour and really since 2003 and on through in this last eight years, there is something of His original plan spoken in Genesis 1:26-28 for male and female. When He told us what dominion would look like in the earth and He said it is man and woman walking together. I believe that that’s the hour that we are in. We need to expect it, we need to look for it, we need to step into it, we need to walk in it, and we need to see the fullness of the Kingdom come forth as God spoke it in the beginning.Acts 3:27 says the heavens will hold Him back until all things have been restored. He’s not going to overlook what He spoke in the beginning. That word will be and is being fulfilled in this hour.
When we go out as a ministry, male and female, we need to go out in the fullness of understanding of who God is, but who He is not only for us but who He is in us. The power of the life that lives within us. Christ the hope of glory! Christ the power! Christ the authority! Christ the dominion taker! Christ the redeemer! Christ the restorer, the healer, the deliverer. He lives with us!
Quoting Graham, he has said the ultimate purpose of warfare is to reveal the supremacy, the majesty and the sovereignty of Jesus. Someone asked a leader in Aglow recently, tell me in a nutshell what is Aglow? Have you ever tried to define it?We’re a company of women and men who has aligned with Heaven for the ultimate purpose of Heaven. The ultimate purpose of warfare and the ultimate purpose of our being is to reveal the supremacy, the majesty, the sovereignty of the Lord Jesus Christ. He lives in you. Let Him out!