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Growing with God

Do you remember planting seeds for science class in elementary school? The classroom window was lined with hopeful little pots, waiting for green life to spring forth. There was always that smug girl whose plant shot up first and remained the biggest plant in the window. Then there was me, the girl with knee socks slumped around the ankles, pulling her little green stalk out of the dirt to see exactly what was going on under that soil!

Growth is almost always a subtle, hidden process. A tree’s growth is registered in its rings. The actual growing or adding of woody fiber happens quickly over a few months. The rest of the year is a slow solidification process of the green timber. Our spiritual life can feel the same way. God will bring bursts of revelation and insight or conviction and tenderness of heart.  Big decisions leap forward and new directions and habits forge ahead. God is so close we can almost feel His smile on us. But He also brings seasons where we must press in.  Weeks or months feel quiet and uneventful. We are solidifying our relationship with Him. To enjoy God’s presence is one thing; to be established in Him and manifesting His goodness daily, is another. Fruit ripens slowly with subtlety. It takes time to grow into His representation here on earth

“I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Phil.1:6) I’m glad the Apostle Paul was so sure. I have to fight the compulsion to pull it all up from the roots, impatient to see what’s going on in the soil of my heart. Am I becoming more like Christ? Why does it seem so hard to change? These are the questions rumbling around in my head, but I remind myself a squash only requires months to grow while an oak tree needs years. Which do I want to be? I can take the fast and easy route which has an appearance of spiritual growth, or I can settle into the steady and certain process with Christ directing my steps.

What does spiritual growth look like for you in this season? Are you being called into greater levels of obedience and listening? My friend, be encouraged: God will finish what He has started in you. The Bible says it this way: “the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:10) He’s got you! Partner with Him in every way that you know to do and then trust that He’s got you.

Many times, we strive and worry. We get into our flesh and work at religion. God will perfect what He started in you. He will confirm His work in you, strengthen it and establish you as His representation here on earth. Keep soaking up those nutrients in scripture, prayer, and God-encounters. Follow and obey Him. Let your roots go deep into Christ as His love blooms into new life. 

*This blog was originally published in August 2020. After spending the last few days with a beautiful group of college kids at Kaleo PCB, I felt it was relevant to share again.

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Does your spiritual life need nurturing? Get my book, Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion anywhere books are sold. Sign up for the blog at www.MargaretAllen.org at the bottom of Mondays with Margaret. 

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Celebrating Black History Month

I get excited about supporting non-profits. Maybe its because I’ve had the blessing to be on both ends of giving and receiving– I raised support for 12 years as a campus minister at Stanford University. And now I’m a supporter of ministry at Stanford, as well as many other campuses. I know how hard it is to ask people for money and to be dependent on their generosity.

One of my passions is encouraging diversity in Christian leadership. Nothing annoys me more than to see a diverse congregation or campus ministry whose leadership is exclusively white. But recruiting people of color to raise support as campus ministers has some challenges. Many of the Black campus ministers I’ve talked to struggled to gather funding from their communities. The sentiment expressed there was something to the effect of “You got a college degree and now you’re asking us for money?!” But God will not call us to a work that He doesn’t also enable us to perform.

Campus ministry is cutting edge work that is well worth our investment. I am especially committed to coming along side of the Black campus ministers who serve with Chi Alpha (the campus ministry that I love and support)  In honor and celebration of Black History Month, would you join me in giving to these campus missionaries who are raising support so that they can minister to college students? Chi Alpha has a Minority Mobilization Fund that benefits all staff who are people of color. Last year, Andy and I gave a cash gift to every African American minister serving with Chi Alpha. (I say this to let you know we are personally invested– I’m embarrassed it took us so long to get here though)  To give to the Minority Mobilization Fund, go to www.chialpha.com and search “Our Three Priorities” for a description and a link to the Minority Mobilization Fund. You can give any amount there.

Let me mention in particular HBCUs. (That stands for Historically Black Colleges & Universities) HBCUs make about 3 percent of our nation’s colleges, but they graduate about 20 percent of all Black undergrads. Over half of HBCU students are first-generation college students and yet HBCUs have better retention stats than most colleges. Chi Alpha is committed to planting ministries at every HBCU. I just met Mary Lyons (www.lifeofapioneer.com) who is pioneering a Chi Alpha ministry at Spelman, Morehouse, and Clark Atlanta. This young woman is FIRE! Or check out www.reachingPV.org to meet the awesome staff at Prairie View A&M. There are too many fantastic Chi Alpha campus ministries to list here! If you want to know more about what God is doing at a specific college or university, please message me and I’ll connect you as best I can.

Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21) Jesus was saying be intentional about where you build your treasure—invest in the things that truly matter. I feel great about investing in the diversity of our campus ministries in this very practical way. I hope you will consider giving toward the Minority Mobilization Fund or adopting a specific campus for your gifting.

I talk about developing a plan for generosity in my book, Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion. You can find Gracious Living anywhere books are sold. Please sign up to get this blog in your Monday morning emails as it is sometimes difficult to find on social media. Just go to www.MargaretAllen.organd scroll to the bottom of Monday’s with Margaret.

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Students in 2020

As he was slogging through college applications and SAT exams last year, I told my son: “Work hard NOW, so that you can have a blast Senior semester. You can skip school every Friday and go skiing with your buddies.  There’s prom and Senior retreat and all kinds of cool stuff to look forward to.”  None of this proved true. Rona took it all down and he finished high school online, sitting alone at our kitchen table.

This week he’s moving into his dorm at Baylor University as a college freshman. Maybe you know kids who graduated from high school or college this year that are grappling with the unknown. Will there be in-person classes? How will anyone meetup? What job opportunities still exist in this economy?  These are legit questions for sure. But here’s one to ask your student: how are you positioned to make this the greatest moment of your life? 

The World War II generation still saves their jars, foil, bags, and rubber bands- the impact from rationing during the war. Students in 2020 have every right to carry anxiety and fear forever, but I believe God is doing a different thing. God is bringing radical change to this generation. Will students from 2020 be cynical or hopeless? Will they waver in fear and health concerns? Will they be non-committal and tentative in their ways? I believe not!

Students of 2020: God is for you. He is calling you out of worldly support systems into radical relationship with HIM. You will hear the voice of the Holy Spirit telling you where to go, who to talk to, how to minister. You are blessed going into this school year and you will be blessed coming out of it! You will see revival on your campuses unlike any that we have seen in our lifetime. Your peers are tired of the treadmill of fear, suspicion, hatred, and self-indulgence. They long for a pure life, a true existence, a cause greater than their own comfort or politics. They are hungry for the love and power of God! Kids, you will be marked by ridiculous generosity and favor. You won’t hold back your love for Jesus. You will walk in power and humility, bringing the kingdom of God in fresh ways.

You inspire us to run hard after God, pursuing the One who has long pursued us.  We sing Kari Jobe’s and Cody Carnes’ “The Blessing” over you: 

“The Lord bless you, and keep you: The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations” (Ephesians 3:20-21) College kids, you may think that this year will hold less, but God is about to release MORE on your campus. Let’s GO!

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Thanks for following my blog! Please share this with any college kids you know. College groups all over California are going through my book for their fall study.  Get your copy or gift a copy of Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love and compassion at http://www.MargaretAllen.org