The Unseen Story


Catching Fire

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Hi, my name is John Wallace and I live in the Dallas Texas area. I’ll tell you a little bit about my story because it’s a great adventure. I feel like my life has been a series of promotions. I’m going to start at the point in which I gave my life to Jesus Christ. I did that during the Jesus People movement when I was a senior in college, and stayed an extra year. For about a year and a half I just saw a lot of young people turn to Jesus, because of what God was doing all across our country during the late 60s and early 70s. 

I went to dental school, because after I gave my life to Jesus, I didn’t, didn’t know how to follow God other than just do what I had intended to do. I went to dental school and for the next 16 years, I was tutored in a whole stream of Christianity called cessationism. In which, during the time of writing the Bible, there were signs and wonders and miracles, primarily done by the apostles. But when the canon of Scripture was closed, then those signs and wonders ceased. That’s where they get the term cessationism. So for the first 16 years of my Christian life, I was taught by those that believed in cessationism and I just accepted it, because I figured those people knew more than I did. 

Towards the end of that 16 years, a couple of things were going on. One was, as my wife and I studied the scriptures for ourselves, we started to come to the conclusion that we didn’t believe that there was a biblical basis for cessationism. We believed that God still wanted to work in supernatural ways. Although we personally did not experience any of that. So that was going on and at the same time, I was a full time dentist. I was miserable and becoming more miserable as the days went on. Not because of dentistry, but because I knew deep inside of me, I was not doing what God wanted me to be doing. But I didn’t know what that doing was. 

So one particular Sunday morning, at our church, everyone was standing up and singing, except for me. I was doubled over in my chair, crying out to God, for God to do something and lead me. At that point I heard the audible voice of God. There was a voice, not in my brain, but backward to the left of me; a voice outside of my mind, saying to me, “I want you in full time Christian service.” I jerked up and looked around to see who was talking to me, and there wasn’t anybody there. So that opened me up to the whole idea that God does speak in other ways outside of the scriptures. 

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I did end up going to seminary. It was a seminary that taught cessationism and so I went to seminary first and foremost, because I believed that that was fulfilling the word God gave me about full time ministry and the particular seminary that I went to was close by. But one of my minor goals in seminary was to find out where, theologically, they got their belief in cessationism. At the end of about three years of seminary education, I saw where they believed they got their philosophy of cessationism and I didn’t buy it. However, my wife and I, we had not experienced anything that I would call necessarily supernatural. During that time, one of the elders of our church had a brother in law who had a church in Canada. He had come into contact with a man by the name of John Wimber, who led a church in Anaheim, California called The Vineyard and he encouraged the elders of our church to go to a meeting, a conference, that John was holding in California. So they went and came back with stories, not only of a theological stance and biblical stance that my wife and I were holding, but at the same time, they were actually seeing things take place in this conference that was typical of the gospels in the book of Acts. My curiosity was pricked, as well as my wife’s. 

In May of 1985, we flew to this man George Malone’s church in Vancouver for a John Wimber conference, The Vineyard Conference. We went just to observe. I literally sat in the back row of the conference – there were about 2,000-2,500 people in this large church – and began to witness God doing things like healings. It’s another story, but at the end of the first session of that conference my wife went forward because someone had given her a word of knowledge about a physical condition that she had and my wife went forward for prayer. I went alongside her to accompany her. By the end of that prayer session, my wife and I, not seeking it at all, and very non-emotionally, we were both speaking in tongues. That opened up the whole vista, as John Wimber was using the term the kingdom of God. At the time I told my wife, “You know, I almost have a master’s degree in theology, but I’m pre-kindergarten in all of these Kingdom things.” That put us on a fast track of learning and experiencing the supernatural. 

Let me just say a few words about the 16 years of what I would call, evangelical conservatism, if you want to speak of it, theologically. The Lord really spoke to me through the Scriptures, He just put 2 Timothy 3:16 into practice. “All Scripture is inspired by God. It’s profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and training and righteousness.” And I saw all of those take place in my life during those 16 years. I felt like what was exercised was my mind and my will. It was an intellectual exercise, and it was good. Like I say, it was wonderful. But I believe that, once I began to experience the Lord in a richer way, after what happened to us at the Vancouver conference, that now I studied the Scriptures with my heart, and with my whole soul, and sometimes even with my body. 

At the end of seminary, I started a Vineyard Church and we were seeing more supernatural things. We were seeing healings, we’re seeing deliverances, we were seeing the transformation of lives. We were seeing prophetic words given, words of knowledge given that were accurate in people’s lives that really helped them to embrace God and transform. I would like to say that from that point on my spiritual experience has been a skyrocket in terms of a graph. And although I did take a large leap up, it has been a steady incline, but ups and downs. One of those down times was at the end of 1993. 

I was feeling spiritually dry. About that time, we got a phone call, beginning of 1994, from a friend of ours who was a worship leader of a church here in Dallas. He said, “Have you heard what’s going on at The Vineyard Church in Toronto, Canada?” And I’ll use a pun here, through the vineyard grapevine, we called some Vineyard churches and found out that a man by the name of Randy Clark had gone to the Toronto Vineyard Church and that, in their terms, revival had broken out. We had had a prayer meeting at our church in Dallas, after we heard of the word in Toronto and during that prayer meeting, I and another man were both given visions of fire. So whatever that looked like for us, we were going to Toronto to get some fire. So I and six other men got into a van here in Dallas, Texas, and drove 22 hours, up to Toronto. 

It was in February of 1994 and wonderful things were happening. Weird things were happening. Strange things were happening. People were falling under the power of the Lord. People were laughing. People were dancing. People were instantaneously being healed, and delivered. All kinds of things like that, some of which we had already seen during our few years walking in things of the Spirit, and some of them we hadn’t seen before. So after about five days of witnessing all this, during one of the meetings, I began to hear a roaring in my ears. I had my eyes closed and I thought I’ve heard that sound before. After I thought a moment I said, oh my wife and I, a few weeks ago, we saw a movie about a forest fire and that was the sound of the forest fire. I lifted my hands up as if I had a little small clay firepot – During ancient times if people had no fire, they would go to their neighbor, or family member, and they would take their little pot and put embers of fire in there to take back to their home. I envisioned that, I lifted that up above my head and in the vision, I saw a hand come from heaven, take the little bowl out of my hand, and give me the Olympic dish with the fire in it. At that point in the vision, I began to physically tremble. I believe under the power of God. 

At that point, Randy Clark, the man who had been in Toronto for several weeks leading this move of God, said over the microphone, “If you sense the presence of God right now, on you or in you, I want you to come forward.” So I went forward. I stood in line and Randy and others started to pray for people. Randy was probably still a good 10 to 15 feet away from me and I was hit by the power of God. It was like a hurricane force wind hit me in the chest, knocked me onto the floor, and I began to tremble and bounce on the floor for a number of minutes. During that time, all I heard in my mind was I heard the Lord saying to me, “Loosen up, loosen up, loosen up.” You can imagine as someone who went through both dental school and seminary, I was a pretty uptight guy and I was being affected by perfectionism, which was long standing in my life. They say, it seemed like just a few minutes to me, but they say that I bounced on the floor for 30 minutes. I was coming off of the floor. And as a good Texan I had on cowboy boots and I bounced those cowboy boots off. Which if you’ve ever worn cowboy boots, that’s not easy to do. In fact, Randy Clark, who has now gone all over the world doing conferences and speaking and writing books and so forth, has told me that everywhere he goes, he talks about the Texan whose boots were bounced off by the Holy Spirit. 

After another day or so in Toronto, the man and I drove home and we believed that we had received some fire to bring back home to our home and to our home church. The next evening, we went to our church. It was a Wednesday evening and our worship team was up on the stage rehearsing. I walked into the back door with one of these men that went with me to Toronto, and we’re standing probably a good 40 or 50 yards away from the stage, and over the microphone that worship leader said, “How was Toronto?” I lifted my hand and I said, “Come Lord.” and all seven of them fell over on the floor, on the stage. I thought to myself, Yes! We did bring it back from Toronto. Well, that started a whole series of meetings that we held at our church. 

I could tell you story, after story, after story of just amazing things that God did during those meetings and the Lord continued to bring people in, bring them out of darkness into His marvelous light through salvation, delivered people. We had people delivered from demons, we had people delivered from homosexual lifestyle, we had people healed, all kinds of different things taking place. The power of God coming upon people. So I want to stop right now and just say, because I was a theological student, I have a number of books on my shelf that are systematic theologies, and there are books about the attributes and character, characteristics of God. That God is faithful, God is true, He’s righteous, He’s holy. He’s just, He’s, um, omnipresent. He’s omnipotent. He’s God only wise, on and on and on about those attributes. But none of my theology books had what we were experiencing, and that is – God is weird. God is weird. And the definition of weird is an experience that you’ve never had. And God was giving us those experiences during those days following our trip to Toronto. People’s lives are still changed. They’re still changed because of what took place in the mid to late 90s, in and through what God was doing there. 

Psalm 16:11 says. “In Your presence is the fullness of joy.” and that is so true. To be in God’s presence is the fullness of joy. To be in God’s presence is what we were made for. Out of times in God’s presence we are shaped and we’re transformed, and we’re corrected, and we’re set upon our way, we’re equipped, we’re reminded of our identity and who we are as sons and daughters of a loving Father and a Sovereign King. So I want to facilitate people to be in the presence of God and with that, one of my other goals is, I want to help people hear God. I do not see how we can progress as believers and be conformed to the image of Jesus unless we, like Jesus, have daily conversations with God. 

I have recently written a book that I believe is stemming from that and years of ministry and experience, called You Already Hear God. If you’re a believer in Jesus, you already do hear God and perhaps even if you haven’t given your life to Jesus, you already hear God. There are examples in the Bible of men who did not know God and yet God spoke to them in a number of different ways. So this is just an encouragement of the various ways in which God speaks. I go back and I give examples from the Old Testament, examples from the New Testament, and then I have a lot of God stories about how God has spoken to me and to others in the present day, in those ways. And with that, for the first time, with my books that I’ve written, I’ve actually included an application and training manual to go with it, to help people in groups to go through this. It’s very interactive. So this, this is where I am in life right now.

So that has been my journey from, if you want to give it a kind of a categorization, from conservative Evangelical, to as I like to term myself, I’m an “Evangematic,” to drawing from both the evangelical world and the charismatic world, the best of God, and expecting His spirit to move in and through me. I awaken every morning expectant to interact with a supernatural God, to see a supernatural God at work. Regardless of what I’m doing that day, you know, if I’m going to the grocery store, or if I’m going to lead a meeting, God’s gonna be there, and He’s gonna want to do something. My wife says that I have a waiter and waitress ministry because when we go out to eat, often, not all of the time, but often the Lord will give me words of knowledge for waiters and waitresses. 

One particular time I was with a friend of mine and we had a young lady waiting on us. Part of the way through the meal, I felt like the Lord gave me some information about her and, and so at the end of the meal, I said, “Excuse me,” I said, “I know this sounds really weird to you, but I talk to God, that’s called prayer, and sometimes God talks to me, and sometimes He gives me words for people, and I think I have a word for you. May I share it with you?” She said, “Well, yeah.” I said, “I, I felt like the Lord told me that years ago, that you were walking with the Lord, and you really had a calling upon your life. But for a number of reasons you turned away from that and the Lord wanted to remind you of that today.” And this young lady burst into tears. She said, “Wait right here,” she said, “I’ve got to go and finish serving this other table, but I want to come back.” And so after she served the other table, she came back next to it, she fell on her knees next to our table, and she said, “Years ago, I was walking with the Lord and the Lord called me into youth ministry.” And she said, “I just walked away from the Lord, I’ve gone away all these years and she said, “Last night, I got down on my knees, next to my bed, and I said, “Lord, if You want me to go back to that, you’ve got to encourage me somehow.” And the very next day, the Lord gives me that in encouragement for her. 

That’s the kind of God we have. He loves people. He loves people. He loves waiters and waitresses, and people shopping in the supermarket, and people getting gas at the grocery store, and people out jogging in the neighborhood, or walking their dog. He loves the people in your family that may be the ones you have a hard time loving. God is crazy in love with people. 

First and foremost, what we carry within us, according to 2 Corinthians chapter four, “We carry within us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” We have that in earthen vessels, and we carry that of a loving God. A God who is so in love with everyone that we can go out and love them in the ways that God wants us to love them and hear God and do just exactly what He wants us to do.

Psalm 16:11 says. “In Your presence is the fullness of joy.” and that is so true. To be in God's presence is the fullness of joy. To be in God's presence is what we were made for. Out of times in God's presence we are shaped and we're transformed, and we're reminded of who we are as sons and daughters of a loving Father and a Sovereign King.

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