My First and Second Great Awakenings

My First and Second Great Awakenings by Craig Green

Are you a control freak?

Everything was in place for me to end up a “none of the above,”—part of the ever-growing segment of the American population that identifies and even prides itself in having no faith at all.  “None’s” now account for at least 20% of the American population, and are the fastest growing segment of our “religious” population.

Raised as a United Methodist, I had a deep love for… our building and traditions, and a shallow, “warm and fuzzy” understanding God.  I was religious, but had no relationship; I was comfortable but had no peace.  Yes, I was well on my way to being just another lost soul who feels “enlightened” by claiming there is no Light.  I existed in a darkness of self-absorbed drinking, drugging, and flesh-feasting.  At 24, however, that all changed.  The Light broke through!  I met Jesus—or rather, He introduced Himself to me—dramatically and experientially!  Thus began the first great awakening work of God in my life—leading me, eight years later—to enter full-time ministry.  But I am getting ahead of myself…

The First Awakening

At a Catholic Healing Mass I was attending as a way to honor a critically sick friend of mine, I suddenly and very unexpectedly had a revelation moment with the Lord, very much akin to what Peter must have experienced when he suddenly knew that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (see Matthew 16).  In my case, I suddenly knew that Jesus is God, Jesus is alive, and Jesus loves me…   While that may not seem profound to you, it was as if the lights (the Light!) came on for me.  In the twinkling of an eye, I suddenly knew—really knew—that Jesus isn’t just almost God or sort of God or a son of God; I knew and know that He is fully and completely and eternally God, the Son!  Rather than a stained-glass historical figure, I suddenly knew Jesus in a living, breathing way.  Suddenly knowing that He loved me…  Well that was the hardest of all to conceive, because I had been hell-bent for eight years by that point on doing everything illegal, immoral, and irreverent I could find.

As the Mass concluded, a healing line formed—and I jumped in it.  Asking God to heal my friend, I felt something like an electrical shock stagger my body.  (Staggering I understood well!)  I stumbled to a pew, knelt on a kneeler, and God washed me of my iniquity and cleansed me of my sin—even as He baptized me with His Holy Spirit.

The next two years felt like a roller coaster as my rebellious flesh tried to return to the vomitfilled life it had become accustomed to while my Spirit-bathed spirit basked in a newfound friendship and glory.  My soul, of course, went back and forth—siding one moment with my flesh, the next with my spirit.  I flew from the highest highs—as I experienced Jesus in new ways—to the lowest lows—as I gave in to my old man.  Talk about being chained to a “body of death!”  I loved my life in Jesus and I hated myself in self-indulgence. Thankfully, the ride ended (at least in its most extreme forms) as I grew in faith and discovered the power of the Word and the necessity of obedience.

Asking God to heal my friend, I felt something like an electric
shock stagger my body.

I also discovered the power of a Godly wife.  Tina became more and more a “Priscilla” as she grew in the Lord—even as He fashioned me to become something of an “Aquila.” Ministering together, we enjoyed success in the business world.  In the early 1990’s, we began to feel a major shift coming.  While we were happy owning a business and doing ministry as part of it, we began to feel that God was calling us to full-time church ministry.  With great confirmations from others in the Body, we embarked on a new adventure—I started to attend seminary, and a year later, we sold our business.  Meanwhile, I was appointed to serve three little United Methodist Churches.  (God has a sense of humor.  While we were dissatisfied with our Methodist upbringings and had both been saved and Spirit-baptized elsewhere, the Lord called us back to the United Methodist Church—to be instruments of renewal within her.)  Tina did much of the pastoring and counseling through prophetic gifting, while I preached and studied away in seminary.  Together, we saw the Lord accomplish great things in those three precious congregations.

The Second Awakening

By 2000, one of the congregations had grown so much that I had been assigned to serve it alone.  We were in the midst of a building renovation program when the Lord began the second great awakening in my life.

This second great work of God started off in a very inauspicious way—with a lie told by me to my church treasurer.  He approached me after a worship service to say that we had to have a meeting to choose and order carpet for the Sanctuary—in no uncertain terms.  I told him that was certainly a great idea—all the while knowing the carpet had already been chosen, ordered,and was on its way.  Though he was a close friend of mine, he intimidated me and all I wanted to do was avoid a confrontation.  So the pastor lied…

I left that day for a pastor’s conference (I think the theme was: “Thou shall not lie…!”) feeling sick to my stomach for what I had done.  I really thought I was off the spiritual “roller coaster” by that point in life.  I was a very successful (by United Methodist standards, anyhow) Spirit-filled, tongue-talking, church-growing young pastor married to a prophetess/gifted counselor and God had long-before tamed my drugging, drinking ways.  I was a great guy…and a manipulative liar who would say whatever people wanted to hear and shape conversations as much as needed so that people would like me—and not argue with me or get confrontational.  I just didn’t want to fight.  What could be wrong with that? Didn’t God bless the peacemakers?  Well, perhaps not the lying ones…!

My second great awakening began as the Lord downloaded that I was a manipulator, my treasurer an intimidator, and another key leader, a dominator.  In fact, all humans, by fallen nature, operate as one of these three.  In the “download” I understood that control often looks like a game—like Rock/Paper/Scissors—as people try to get their way at another’s expense.  Everyone plays, yet no one wins; God not honored, for God does not control—He Reigns!

The false, controlling trinity of domination/manipulation/intimidation pictured satan’s character, and I was a willing participant in his sick game of control.  Repentance filled my heart, tears filled my eyes, and God’s grace filled my car with that sweet sense of forgiveness—combined with the call and directive of the Lord to submit to transformation, healing, restoration, and finally, a willingness to share with the Church the great need for this second awakening—healing from being a controlite!

Here is the problem.  Millions of church members—and pastors—continue to operate in the realm of control.  Dominating pastors build great churches, while their members simultaneously exalt them—and feel crushed by them.  Intimidating pastors frighten members into compliance, calling it obedience.  Manipulating pastors are loved and adored, but can never be completely trusted.  All the while, church members play the same game.  Someone ought to write a book…!

How can a person tell if they are a control freak?  How can one know if they operate as a dominator… or as a manipulator… or as an intimidator?  Simply check for a pulse…!  By fallen nature, all humans are controllers.  Repentance begins with recognition.  By God’s grace, however, we can be awakened to a new reality, a transformed character and nature!

I am simply testifying to the fact that God began that day in 2000 a work of grace so profound that my very character and nature changed.  While I am still (obviously!) a work in progress, I can honestly share—and those who know me well will verify—that I am a new creation in Christ Jesus.  I neither resort to manipulating as I once did, nor do I shudder at the thought of conflict—although I certainly don’t go looking for it!  I am not drawn into the “game” of controlling when other’s play, nor do I feel a need start there anymore.  This freedom is profound and it is deep!

As God continues to transform me from “glory to glory” (see 2 Corinthians 3) I occasionally glimpse His character at work inside me more clearly than I see my old fallen nature…  At those moments, I can almost see His face in the mirror…!  Of course, I also see the face of a man who badly needs a third great awakening!  As an old-time Methodist, I simply say, “yes, Lord!”  I really do want to go on to perfection—to a level of maturity where others see only Jesus in me!


You can get Craig Green’s book, Conquering the Game of Control at bookstores everywhere!

Amazon • • Barnes and Noble Lifeway

Parable Stores • iTunes


Craig Green About Craig Green

Craig Green is a husband, father, and pastor who loves to see Christians grow by the Spirit into truly mature disciples. He has spoken to national audiences at major Christian conferences, yet continues to serve two vibrant congregations in rural Tennessee. Craig earned his MDiv from Nashville's Vanderbilt University, and his Doctor of Ministry degree from the King's University, founded by Dr. Jack Hayford. Seeing people transformed from nominal to phenomenal faith is one of the great joys of Craig's life. Visit Craig's website at

  • Steve Angus

    Thank you for your openness and honesty.
    Steve Angus