Who is to blame for the problems in your life? While it may seem inside of our minds that someone else is to blame for our misfortunes or heartaches, playing the blame game truly doesn't work. It may feel like maybe your poor self-esteem or poor self-image have come from living with abusive parents, family or even an abusive partner. This is a perfectly rational thought, right?
Think about this deeply for a moment. Is blaming others working for you in your life right now? Does it help you to fix the pain of your poor self-esteem or negative thoughts? Truly, your outside world is a reflection of the world inside of you. If you allow others to be responsible for your negative thoughts or painful feelings, you are giving them your power. You essentially are squashing your own personal power and growth, and ultimately keeping yourself completely stuck in negative feelings or thought patterns.
Do you want to live an easy life or a difficult one? I know, it's a worthless question because who wants to live a life filled with pain and suffering? Yet, this is what many people choose every day, whether they are conscious of it or not. I don't intend to disparage them, however in coaching hundreds of people over the years, many of them unknowingly choose a difficult life because they make easy choices instead of important ones. Considering this, think about the choices you're making right now and their respective actions.
Are they moving you towards growth and freedom or pain and suffering? Easy choices means staying within our comfort zone without exploring our limitations where real growth occurs. Sure, it's difficult to venture outside our comfort zone because of the psychological and emotional strain. However, if we do what is easy, life will be difficult because our comfort zone does not equate to personal growth to achieve our bigger goals. How does this appeal to you? Is this something you're willing to explore personally and professionally? I assure you, challenges allow us to delve into the greater depths of our resiliency instead of staying safe.
Toluwanimee initiated the process of the journey towards the album when she released the single “The Reason,”while also explaining the brief hiatus that separated the period between the first announcement of the album and the recent, thereby sharing the testimony behind the released single.
Does it seem like it takes a lot of motivation to just take that first step of starting a new project, article or business venture? Are you unsure or confused as to what God's will or purpose is in your life?
There is so much more to life than living out each day and not having a purpose for that day. How many miraculous blessings have I missed throughout my life just squandering the days away and expecting to be blessed when I don't focus on God's will or purpose?
I love to write but sometimes my lack of motivation keeps me from my writing. When I am motivated, it gives me the will to create, be productive and achieve a sense of satisfaction. I actually get things accomplished, which in turn takes my inaction to action and I feel growth, and a feeling of significance and more power because of mastering my purpose in this life.
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? (Psalm 13:1–2)
Does David strike a chord with you as he cries out in desperation? Is God permitting an agonizing wait for answers to your most urgent and heartfelt prayers?
Perhaps it’s physical healing you or a loved one most needs, or a child or family member who has unrepentantly turned from God. Maybe you have been waiting and longing for years for a spouse, or for the gift of children, or for a transformation of your marriage, or maybe simply for a job to support your family. Perhaps you have been in a spiritual desert such a long time you have begun to doubt God exists at all.
Not all waiting involves such agony, of course. A college applicant longs for a letter of acceptance. Children can’t wait for summer break. In Minnesota, during the seemingly unending winter months, we seriously long for spring. These longings are different, though, because we know an answer will come. When David prayed, he could not be sure if or when or in what way God would answer, and most of us face life issues equally serious and uncertain.
When God Seems Silent
Most of the years of my life have been pockmarked with struggles and heartaches that were simply beyond my power to change.
Close relatives who have faced life-threatening illnesses or some serious, persistent mental-health issues. Loved ones passing from this life inexplicably resistant to the promise of hope in the gospel. Agonizing, in some cases unending, challenges in the lives of my children for which I am helpless to provide solutions and must simply remain on my knees, crying out with David, “How long, O Lord?”
It may be tempting to believe God is cruel, or simply does not hear us when we pray. After all, why would God, who we have been told loves us, fail to address our pain and suffering? But everything in God’s word, the pinnacle of which is the suffering and death of his own Son for us, flies in the face of that accusation. God is not cruel. God’s love is everlasting and uniquely personal to each one of his children, and he does not permit one bit of suffering for which there is not a greater purpose.
Jesus says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29–31).
God’s silence never indicates that he does not care about us or is not listening. He simply knows, in ways that we cannot, that his waiting, or failing to respond in the way that we desire, is better than doing what we ask at that moment. He knows things that we do not know. Because he is perfect and holy, his ways are not our ways. They are far higher (Isaiah 55:8–9).
In Slavery and in Prison
We have a lot of biblical examples to help us understand the purposes God might have in waiting or even saying no.
I wonder how many times Joseph cried out to God to help him as his brothers sold him into slavery, as he was unfairly accused by Potiphar’s wife, and as he unjustly languished for years in prison. Yet God was using all of these experiences and others to prepare Joseph for leadership, and to deepen his faith and trust in the Lord. Joseph’s faithful willingness to suffer and wait upon the Lord helped him ultimately save his family, as well as the Hebrew and Egyptian nations, during years of famine.
At the end of his life, Joseph understood that what his brothers (and others) meant for evil in his life, God permitted and meant for good (Genesis 50:20). Joseph couldn’t see where it was all leading when it was happening any more than we can in our suffering, but he trusted, and God was faithful beyond his wildest dreams — as he will be for us.
His Thorn Strengthened Him
The apostle Paul prayed and prayed for the thorn in his side to be removed, but God said no. It is hard for us to understand, but pain and helplessness strengthened Paul’s ministry. The pain he suffered daily was a reminder that he was weak and dependent on God for everything. Jesus told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Our weakness is often a reminder and opportunity from God to stop trying to control our situation and “fix” everything by our own power and resources. It is God’s strength that we need. Look what God did through a weak and suffering servant like Paul. It’s impossible to imagine all that God might do through our willingness to persevere in faith, trusting in God’s strength and wisdom, and not our own.
Even Jesus prayed that the cup of the cross might pass from him, yet “not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). Make no mistake: Jesus did not want to suffer any more than we do, but he was willing to suffer if it would rescue us from sin and glorify the Father. Are we willing to suffer, believing God will use our suffering for a higher purpose?
What Might God Do?
You are probably thinking, What higher purpose could God have in mind for my suffering? Clearly, he is not using you or me to provide a means of salvation, as he did through Jesus. He is not using our suffering to inspire Scripture, as he did through Paul. He’s likely not using our suffering to pave the way for famine relief for nations, or any similar global-relief effort, as he did through Joseph.
He might, however, be using our faithful suffering as an example to inspire someone else to ask for the reason for our hope and come to believe (1 Peter 3:15). He might be using our waiting to give us a testimony that will encourage countless others who are experiencing discouragement (2 Corinthians 1:4). He might cause us to miss one opportunity because he has something better in store. He might simply want us to know him better and learn to be content with God as our companion, come what may.
We cannot possibly know all of the things God might be doing in and through our waiting and suffering, but as we cry out, “How long?” with David, there are some things God would have us know for sure.
What We Do Know
God loves you.
I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. (Jeremiah 31:3 NIV)
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4–5)
God hears you.
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. (1 John 5:13–14)
God is with you.
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. (Isaiah 43:2–3)
God will help you.
For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” (Isaiah 41:13)
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea. (Psalm 46:1–2)
The Spirit and Christ are interceding for you.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26–27)
He [Jesus] is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)
Your pain is an opportunity to draw closer to God.
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8)
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
You have all you really need.
My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
Jesus is the incomparable answer to every prayer.
According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith — more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire — may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:3–7)
God Has Dealt Bountifully
If you are crying out as David did in Psalm 13, desperate for the Lord to hear and answer your prayers, you are joining generations of saints who have persevered in faith through trials and persecutions every bit as serious as the ones you are facing.
Draw upon the gift of faith God has given you, remain in the word of God daily, continue to cry out to God in prayer, invite other trusted believers to cry out with you, and perhaps most importantly, remember God loves you, he is with you, the Spirit and Christ are interceding for you, and “this light momentary affliction” affliction will pass (2 Corinthians 4:17).
In Psalm 13, David does remember God’s goodness. He closes by rejoicing that God is sufficient for all of his needs:
But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me. (Psalm 13:5–6)
Take heart. If you are in Christ, the Lord is dealing bountifully with you too.
A common misconception is that music is solely for entertainment. it's but, not merely for this purpose alone. Gospel music, beyond entertainment, for one, emerged not solely to entertain however additionally help the slaves express their hardships whereas living beneath the control of their homeowners.
Michael Pounds, a UK based gospel music minister, unveils a brand new gospel track titled “Baba”.
Baba, the yoruba titled track which translates as “Father” in English language, is characterised by a message of mercy over Nigeria.
The Nigerian born gospel artiste says that, “The inspiration came after seeing the happenings in Nigeria on one of my visits. I realised that if God doesn’t intervene there would be serious war. I heard in my spirit that we had to pray for Nigeria.
All I could do was sing a song of supplication in my heart to God and that was how Baba was birthed.”
Michael, who had previously released “Yahweh” makes a bold statement and prays over the peace and prosperity of Nigeria in this new single.
The ministry of A. A. Allen was clearly one of the fathers of faith, a revivalists to emerge in the early days of the healing revival and was one who ploughed on with grass-roots healing revivalism for over twenty years until his death in 1970.
Early days Born in Sulphur Rock, Arkansas, in 1911, he grew up with an alcoholic father and an unfaithful mother who lived with a series of men. “By the time I was twenty-one,” recalled Allen, “I was a nervous wreck. I couldn’t get a cigarette to my lip with one hand. . . . I was a confirmed drunkard.” (Lexie Allen, God’s Man of Faith and Power, p57, 1954). Two years later he served a jail sentence for stealing corn in the midst of the depression and thought of himself as “an ex-jailbird drifting aimlessly through life.” It was at this point that Allen was converted in a “tongues speaking” Methodist church in 1934He met his wife, Lexie in Colorado and she became a powerful influence in shaping him for his future ministry.
Licensed by the Assemblies of God as a minister in 1936 began an effective evangelistic ministry at a small church in Colorado. After a two year pastorate he spent four-and-a-half years during World War II, as a full-time revivalist. He was the worship leader, musician and preacher but low finances and mediocre results took their toll on this father of four children. He left the itinerant ministry in 1947 when he was offered the security of a pastorate in a stable Assemblies of God church in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Healing ministry begins Soon after moving to Texas he heard news of the revival and read a copy of ‘The Voice of Healing’ magazine which he found incredulous and labelled the revivalists “fanatics.” However, in 1949, he attended an Oral Roberts campaign in Dallas where he was enthralled by Roberts’ power over the audience and left convinced that the revival was from God
Back in Texas, when his church board refused to sponsor a radio program, he resigned and began conducting revivals again with the hope that he too might develop a major healing ministry. In, He sent his first report to The Voice of Healing in May 1950, from Oakland, California, “Many say this is the greatest Revival in the history of Oakland” in what was to become typical AAA style.
He said, “Although I do not claim to possess the gift of healing, hundreds are being miraculously healed in this meeting of every known disease. I do not claim to possess a single gift of the Spirit nor to have the power to impart any gift to others, yet in this meeting, as well as in other recent meetings, all the gifts of the Spirit are being received and exercised night after night. (The Voice of Healing May 1950)
Observing the burgeoning ministry of others he noticed that the evangelists who were drawing the largest crowds were doing so under canvas. In the summer of 1951 joined the ranks of the tent ministries giving a down payment and commitment to pay off the remaining amount as the ministry grew – and it did. He established his headquarters in Dallas and in 1953 launched the Allen Revival Hour on radio. He conducted overseas campaigns in Cuba and Mexico regularly, and by1955 was broadcasting on seventeen Latin American radio stations as well as eighteen American ones.
His inimitable style Allen’s sanguine personality expressed itself in his enthusiastic reports, unparalleled showmanship and startling miraculous claims. He was a persuasive preacher, with a compelling presence and unusual empathy and rapport with the common people. He preached an old-time Pentecostal message with consummate skill. His message of holiness resonated in the hearts of those reared in austere Pentecostalism.
His stage presence and theatrical approach endeared him to the economically deprived working class and also to black communities. Ever the showman he made religion enjoyable and church-going fun.
But, above all, it was the power of God which attracted the huge audiences over the years. Thousands were converted in the midst of dramatic public healings and deliverances from evil spirits. Nothing was ‘done in a corner’ but all was employed to support the message that Jesus was alive and interested in the needs of ordinary people.
Troubles along the way A. A. Allen considered himself the most persecuted preacher in the world. The Assemblies of God were not happy with his apparently questionable, or at least exaggerated, claims. His readiness to publically counter-attack his accusers brought a continual stream of criticism and alienation from mainline Pentecostals.
But the accusation that he drank abusively was the straw that broke the camel’s back. In the fall 1955, he was arrested for drunken driving while conducting a revival in Knoxville, Tennessee. The local press took the opportunity to attack and expose Allen and the beleaguered minister forfeited his bail rather than stand trial on the charge.
Whatever the truth was Allen called the incident an “unprecedented persecution” aimed at ruining his ministry. As always he employed even the worst accusations to reinforce his claims that his commitment to God’s work in God’s way was truly from heaven, despite the fact that the Devil continually tried to destroy his ministry. His Miracle Magazine published his defence:
Allen declares that all this is but a trick of the devil to try to kill his ministry and his influence among his friends at a time when God has granted him greater miracles in his ministry than ever before. . . . If ministers pay the price of real MIRACLES today, they will meet with greater persecution than ever before. The only way to escape such persecution is to fold up and quit! But we are going on! Will you go on with us? (Miracle Magazine October, 1955)
Gordon Lindsay felt that the Voice of Healing had to take “a strong stand on ethics.” Allen resigned from the group, pre-empting their imminent dismissal. He immediately began publishing his own magazine, and, although he affected a cordial relationship with his former colleagues in the Voice of Healing, feelings remained strained.
In some ways independence suited Allen. His daughter recalled:
The Knoxville event also led to Allen’s separation from the Assemblies of God. It was suggested that he “withdraw from the public ministry until the matter at Knoxville be settled.” Allen’s response was to surrender his credentials as “a withdrawal from public ministry at this time would ruin my ministry, for it would have the appearance of an admission of guilt.”
The independent road By the mid-1950’s many of the more moderate ministers tried to continue to work with the Pentecostal denominations – or at least to remain friendly – but Allen repeatedly attacked organized religion and urged Pentecostal ministers to establish independent churches which would be free to support the revival. He charged that the Sunday school had replaced the altar in the Pentecostal churches and that few church members were filled with the Holy Ghost:
“Revivals are almost a thing of the past. Many pastors, and even evangelists, declare they will never try another one. They say it doesn’t work. They are holding “Sunday School Conventions,” “Teacher Training Courses,” and social gatherings. With few exceptions the churches today are leaning more and more toward dependence upon organizational strength, and natural ability, and denominational “methods.” They no longer expect to get their increase through the old fashioned revival altar bench, or through the miracle working power of God, but rather through the Sunday School.”
The Miracle Revival Fellowship In fall 1956, Allen announced the formation of the Miracle Revival Fellowship, an alternative fellowship intended to license independent ministers and to support missions. Theologically, the fellowship welcomed all who accepted “the concept that Christ is the only essential doctrine.” Allen urged laymen as well as ministers to join his fellowship, through his “Every Member an Exhorter plan.” Although Allen announced that “MRF is not interested in dividing churches,” he also disclosed that “the purpose of this corporation shall be to encourage the establishing and the maintenance of independent local, sovereign, indigenous, autonomous churches.” The fellowship listed more than 500 ministers in its “first ordination
Advance through the storm Interestingly, as other ministries were struggling and the revival was waning, Allen’s charisma and ministry skills coupled with well-staged revivals and an amazingly gifted team, enabled him to re-establish his ministry and rebuild a substantial and effective work.
Miracle Magazine was resounding success. At the end of a year’s publication in 1956, it had a paid subscription of about 200,000,and, according to Mrs. Allen, was “the fastest growing subscription magazine in the world today.” In 1957, Allen began conducting the International Miracle Revival Training Camp, an embryonic ministerial training centre. In 1958, he was given land in Arizona where he began building a permanent headquarters and training centre. At the height of the 1958 crisis in the revival, Allen announced a five-pronged program for his ministry: tent revivals, the Allen Revival Hour radio broadcast, an overseas mission program, the Miracle Valley Training Centre, and a “great number of dynamic books and faith inspiring tracts” published by the ministry. In 1958, Allen purchased Jack Coe’s old tent and proudly announced that he was moving into the “largest tent in the world.” His old-time revivalism, up-beat gospel music and anointed entertainers continued to attract the masses.
Allan died at the Jack Tar Hotel in San Francisco, California on June 11, 1970 at the age of 59. Some claim that Allen died an alcoholic because the coroner’s report concluded Allen died from liver failure brought on by acute alcoholism. Others know that he had battled with excruciating pain from severe arthritis in his knees, for over a year. It is true that Allen had undergone surgery on one of his knees and in June of 1970, was considering surgery on the other knee. They believe that the Coroner’s Report of “fatty infiltration of the liver” was a result of the few times he used alcohol in his last days to alleviate the excruciating pain of his arthritis.
Whatever is true of his death the life of A. A. Allen was one of extraordinary commitment to Jesus Christ which brought victory over the enemy of mankind. A. A. Allen was a true survivor. Even though the revival was declining in the late 1950’s and 1960’s his commitment to old-time faith-healing campaigns ensured the continuing testimony of signs and wonders to the next generation. He may have had his personal ‘quirks and foibles’ but the testimony of thousands of the blessing they received, the enduring love for God that resulted and the demonstration of the power of the Gospel are good reasons to give God thanks for such an amazing life!
Tony Cauchi November 2011
Bibliography: D. Harrell, Jr., All Things Are Possible (1975); Art: S. Shemeth, International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements (2002).