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Straight Ahead

“What does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

I was reminded of a funny experience I had years ago on a golf course in Stillwater, Oklahoma. I was a beginner golfer. In the classic art of college instruction, we had worked on drills all semester but had never actually played a golf course. The final in the class was to go shoot 9 holes. I went with three other gals who also had never been on a golf course. As we approached the first tee we couldn’t remember what the different colors in the tee box meant: was red the closest to the hole or was it for expert golfers? We decided (incorrectly) it was for experts and thus our gaze followed it to white then gold and out into the horizon.  We couldn’t see the green or the pin to which we were shooting. I shrugged, saying, I’m sure it’s out there and teed up my ball, ready to fire off my first shot at a real golf course. I checked my grip, made sure my clubhead was square to the ball, and went through the mental checklist of knees bent, chin down, head still. Just as I was bringing my club back, a man’s voice boomed from the clubhouse speaker: Ladies, you are facing the wrong way! Turning and looking the opposite direction, sure enough there was the green with a flag waving on it.  All four of us fell to the ground rolling in laughter.

Have you ever been so caught up in getting the details right that you didn’t even notice you were facing the wrong direction? I bring it up now because we are headed into the holiday season and it’s kind of easy to make this mistake. Well, maybe you aren’t teed up to fire a ball off into the hinterland but there are plenty of other missteps out there. We can care more about showing the picture-perfect holiday experience than actually connecting with people and loving them well. We can overspend, overeat, overdecorate and never consider the poor. We can celebrate the birth of baby Jesus without celebrating His actual rebirth of our hearts. 

In Matthew 23 we do not meet “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” but rather, kick-ass Jesus setting us straight. (And who doesn’t need some correction now and then?) “Woe to you, religious leaders, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.” (Matthew 23:23) This sounds like posturing and virtue signaling of the first century type. But I wonder if we have fulfilled all kinds of religious or social protocols and yet been unjust jerks to our coworkers and neighbors or completely lacking in mercy and goodness toward strangers. Jesus sums it up: “Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” We don’t want to be overfocused on minutia while completely missing the hurt of a generation over justice, mercy, and faith. We need a serious faith-one that is genuine, thoughtful, and honoring to God and people.

Jesus continues with another blistering indictment: “Woe to you religious hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:28) Have we ever done all the right things religiously yet felt dead inside? Are we the same person when no one is looking? Let’s ask God to show us where we are full of hypocrisy or disobedience to what we know to be true. Rather than going to such lengths to look good, we could work on just being good.

In a season when our mental checklist can be spinning with superficial details about recipes, decorations, time off, flights, hotels, our waistline, insta posts and so on, isn’t it a time to seek God’s guidance on facing the right direction? We need His voice on the loudspeaker when we are heading off-course, whether it’s in our parenting, work, a relationship, health, spending, or whatever. Don’t just shrug and say well I’m sure what I’m doing will hit something out there and fire away. Now is the time to seek His face. Ask, are we living with a tender heart toward God and people? Do we like who we have become? And most importantly, how can we walk in a manner worthy of Jesus, the Son of God? This passage ends with a heart-filled lament: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37) Jesus has always been willing to connect; honestly, we often are not.

Friends, I know my tone is a bit heavier than normal and I’ve been reflecting quite a bit with God this week. I’ve felt more sober minded but also more deeply in love, in awe, with Him. I don’t want to miss what Jesus is saying in these days. Can you imagine if we ignored the booming voice over the loudspeaker that day? What does that guy know? And who is he to tell us what to do?! It would not have gone well. Blessings to you as we journey and listen together. Get my book, Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassionanywhere books are sold. Remember to sign up to receive this blog in your email- simply scroll to the end of Mondays with Margaret.

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Upon Hearing An Elk Bugle

“So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord.” (Hosea 6:3)

I heard an elk bugling in the Aspens. It was such an otherworldly sound that I thought, how can this be real? I’m not a dramatic person, and I say this in all seriousness: my life was changed. How can I say I’ve lived, almost 60 years if my birth certificate is right, and I’ve never heard an elk bugle?  Like the grinch, I think my heart grew 3 sizes!

I grew up in Houston, a metroplex of hot cement and urban sprawl. My childhood playground boasted a hot metal slide and a chain-link fence. I know how to navigate city streets. But a forest of Aspens and a cold mountain stream are foreign to me. It’s a shockingly different world when one can hear an elk bugle, or an owl, bigger than my dog, hooting at dusk, or see a lanky legged moose slowly grazing nearby.

God often speaks to me through moments in nature. When that elk bugle screamed through the woods, the hair on my neck stood up and instantly I understood: just as I’ve never experienced this sound before in all my days, I’ve also never experienced much of the spiritual realm that God wants to reveal. I’ve walked with God—passionately, intentionally—for 44 years my friends, but to be blunt, I don’t know jacksquat about the Kingdom and Power of Christ! I’ve never seen an angel but the Bible clearly states their existence. I’ve never raised anyone from the dead although it happens throughout the world today. Jesus said that we would do greater works than He did (see John 14:12) yet healing, miracles, and prophetic words are more the exception in my week than the norm.

The instant I heard the elk bugle in the aspens, I realized how little I know of the spirit realm.  I cried out to God saying, Lord forgive me for being content with merely attending church and leading a little Bible study. Forgive my arrogance that I think I know my way around Christianity and around YOU! God, You are infinitely more than I can think or imagine. You operate in a realm that I’ve only seen tiny glimpses of, and You have more power, more glory than I can even dream of!

And here’s what’s funny and beautiful about the Lord: He saidI know, come on! Come on! My friends, God LONGS for us to press in. He longs to astound us, surprise us, delight us with His more. More wonder, more power, more glory and revelation. It is exactly as Jesus stated: “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” (John 16:12)

I hear some of you agonizing, “How? How do we press in, Margaret?” Rend your heart, not your garments. (See Joel 2:13) Get with God in an honest and real way, without a time limit. If you have people in your life saying, “naw, you’re fine where you’re at; just study harder, pray longer, go to church,” OMG get away from those people and find believers that press in through worship, that heal the sick, and brag on God’s goodness every day! Get with people who have God stories from THIS week, not just 20 years ago!

For too long I sat in a community that complained of rarely hearing God speak. Now I’m in community with people who cannot CONTAIN all the miracles and revelation Holy Spirit is releasing! God says, Come on! Come on, let’s go!

What do YOU say?

Learn more ways to press in to the presence of God with Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion anywhere books are sold. Go to www.MargaretAllen.org/Mondays to sign up to receive this blog each week.

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Moments of Clarity

Matthew 20:32-33 “Jesus said to them, what do you want Me to do for you? They said to Him, Lord, we want our eyes to be opened.”

Outside my living room window 100 aspens were shimmering in the breeze. It was around 5:30 p.m. and the sunshine darted through the clouds dotting the sky. The aspen leaves were a creamy yellow except for the moments when the setting sun would break through and light them up in a dazzling blaze of lemony yellow. A cloud drifted by and everything was back to a dull cream. This kept happening, and each time I would race out the door to take a picture when the sun had lit everything up so brightly.

What I witness in nature God so often uses to speak into my heart. Those flashes of brilliant sunshine through the aspens reminded me that God brings beauty and clarity in a moment and it’s ours to grasp quickly before it’s gone. Maybe we have that flash of insight, hmm, he’s not the one, or this job shouldn’t define me, or I want more creativity in my life. Maybe it’s wow I was short-tempered back there, or our home needs a spiritual reset. Clarity is curative. That bright flash of insight points us into truth.

A friend in L.A recently shared a hard decision she made to pass up a big business opportunity in favor of a more genuine, personal track. Her clarity came when she realized she had missed so much life in the past ten years. My favorite boutique owner in Sun Valley told me that she had taken the risk to close her store on Sundays. Her clarity came because she’d been working non-stop and realized she needed a spirit-focused rhythm in her life. A young man told me this weekend that he had realized he never seriously considered the message of Christ. He said his mother’s negative Catholic experience growing up had shaded everything he had been told. In a moment of clarity, of revelation actually, he realized there’s more to the gospel story than what he had been told, and so he’s investigating Christianity. An older friend of mine shared a new perspective she gained– that her husband had sacrificed so much when they were first married, and now, with his health declining, was her time to sacrifice for him. That clarity brightened her words, actions, and attitudes with new compassion. Each of these friends experienced a moment when God brought their life into clear focus.

Dear ones, don’t we all need God to break through with clarity in some fashion? Are we in a situation like Elisha’s servant, surrounded by enemies and unable to see the mighty army of God protecting us? (2 Kings 6:15-17) Are we like the disciples after the resurrection, walking with Jesus but not even realizing it?  “Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him: and He vanished from their sight. They said to one another, were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road?” (Luke 24:31-32)

I’ve experienced moments when, like the sunshine breaking through the trees, God’s insight gave me clarity. Ideas like wanting to honor all that God has given me in a day—to savor the beauty all around and also to view each obstacle as an opportunity for growth.  To work hard with excellence but keep identity rooted, not in what I do or what I own or what others think, but in the sole fact that I’m a blood-bought daughter of Christ, the King. Wanting to love people the way that Jesus loved people. It’s in the details that I ask for greater clarity and insight. How do I honor God in my day? How do I love people like He did? Jesus said, “I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.” (John 12:46)

Join me in praying this week, Lord, open our eyes. Break through our cloudy commitments and bring Your bright Presence to illuminate our way. We want to see You, Lord to follow You. Amen

If you haven’t already signed up for my blog, go to www.MargaretAllen.org/Monday’s scroll to the bottom of that page. My book, Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion is available anywhere you buy books.

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A New Family

We are celebrating a wedding in 6 days. I’m all aflutter! I’ve driven past my exit on the freeway; I’ve missed appointments and I’ve shown up for ones I didn’t have. At night I’ve woken up going over lists in my head, just one more time to be sure. Some mothers of the bride probably know what I’m talking about!

After rescheduling the venue three times because of California’s crazy covid rules this momma is so excited for her girl to finally have her day. And while I know every detail in the schedule, what I don’t know is what God is creating. When I think about Jesus’ first miracle—turning the water into wine at the wedding in Cana—I am struck by His majesty. A casual reading of John 2 and we might think oh how nice! Jesus didn’t want the family to be embarrassed socially because they ran out of wine. And sure, that’s probably true. We could also think, He was launching His ministry with a symbol of celebration, unity, and community. Ok, that would make Him the hit of all the parties in Israel. But was there more to it? I’ve always glossed over the idea that He made one liquid turn into another liquid. But when we really think about it, water H2O, doesn’t contain the molecules found in wine. For the master of the ceremony to exclaim wow you saved the best wine for last it had to taste, smell, and feel like a wonderfully complex wine (almost certainly a red). Jesus’ first miracle paralleled Genesis 1. He created something out of nothing (ex nihilo). Jesus makes all things new! I’m so happy in this marriage of my precious Miranda and her wonderful Gabe, God is also creating something entirely new and amazing.

I recently learned that a common wedding tradition demonstrates the Biblical concept of covenant. In Genesis 15:9-10 a blood covenant began with sacrificing an animal, splitting it in half on the ground, and leaving a pathway between the halves.  The two parties making a covenant, or commitment to one another, would walk through the middle which was considered holy ground.  In a wedding, family and friends of the bride and groom traditionally sit across the aisle from one another to create a holy ground pathway of the center aisle. This symbolizes the blood covenant. The bride and groom then join right hands, promising everything they are, and everything they possess, in a committed, covenant relationship. They are to leave their families, forsake all others, and become an entirely new thing.

So, in 6 days we will squeeze into our wedding clothes that fit a little better a year ago and we will raise our glasses and cheer kiss! Kiss! My terrible dance moves will come out and we will surely have a fabulous time participating in this holy and timeless moment. And God will create a new and amazing family!

That’s it from me for the next few weeks. If you want to pursue this line of thinking a little further, consider what it means that we, the church, are called the bride of Christ. Talk about making all things new! Blessings to you, dear friends. Be sure to get my book, Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion anywhere books are sold.

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Reader’s Question: What are Your Habits Surrounding Scripture Study?

*These notes come from a talk I gave at Women of the Word in Los Gatos, CA. This group studies scripture at a pace of around 8 chapters each week.

What is the purpose of all Bible study? Beyond gathering data and increasing knowledge, our purpose is to know Christ and be transformed by Him. In our reading and studying, whether it is for ten minutes or for hours, we start with a prayer like God I am coming to Your word because I want to know You. Please open my eyes to spiritual truth and open my heart to friendship with You. Let my life be transformed by what You say.

Here are a few suggestions to help our studying:

  1. Repetition is our friend. The more times we can simply read the assigned chapters, the better our insights and study will be. Merely reading and combing through the chapters will drop fruit in our lap. If time to study is limited, I recommend reading through the assigned chapters and then rereading the one or two chapters that seemed most significant. Reading and rereading a group of 6-8 chapters at a time greatly increases comprehension compared to a single look. 
  2. Make it a habit. Quietly sitting down to pray, read, and commit our day to God every day, even if it is only 15 minutes is more effective than an hour cramming on Tuesday night before a Wednesday group meeting. Here’s a rhythm that I live by: spend time with God every day, once a week (usually the weekend for me) I spend a longer time studying, once a month I take a Saturday morning to myself to pray and study about the issues that have been simmering in my mind that month. This is a time to go deeper with God. Then, once a year I take a spiritual retreat for two full days where I am alone with my Bible and a notebook. I am there to worship and get down to business with God. The vision for parenting, for marriage, identity, life direction and so on have been established in these retreats. 
  3. Ask good questions. Here are two possible ways to study: as we read the chapters, ask the questionswhat does this passage reveal about God? What does it reveal about people? What does this passage reveal about the interaction between God and people? Or, another direction to take is to follow the pattern of observation, interpretation, application. This means first reading the chapters almost like literature and making observations throughout. For ex, these words or phrases are repeated, or these phrases are in contrast with those. This passage sounds similar to previous ones or it points to future events etc. After all observations are noted, then take time to interpret what is the significance of these words being repeated, or contrasted. What does this passage mean? Finally, after observing the text and interpreting it, ask how it can be applied. Is there something we should DO in response to this chapter or anything to emulate?
  4. Fatter is better. I know we all like a thinline Bible to carry around but a big fat study Bible is nice to have! At minimum, get a Bible that has cross references (every page should list all the other verses that use the same or similar words). I adore the Spirit-Filled Life Study Bible compiled by Jack Hayford. It has helpful maps, charts, cross references, and commentary. With my large print version it is thick as a brick but absolutely beautiful and helpful! Online, Bible HUB is a wonderful resource. After studying scripture for myself, I like to read all the com (commentary) on Bible HUB for the passages I either didn’t understand or was drawn to. Using these tools of a study Bible and an online commentary provide yet another layer to our interaction with scripture and thus deepen our understanding.

I’ve never met a dynamic Christ-follower who wasn’t a student of the Word. Hear it spoken, read and study it, memorize key verses, meditate on it and apply it. When we do this, our experience in relationship with Christ grows even sweeter and our impact in the world deepens. May God bless you this week dear friends. My Monthly Mashup is coming next week with some of my favorite products yet!

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Lessons Learned in L.A.

I recently enjoyed a weekend in Los Angeles with my three daughters. This momma learned a few things and I thought I’d share them this week:

  1. We never know who may be encouraged when we read our Bible in plain view. I was walking on the beach within an hour of my flight landing. I could feel the tension just sliding off me as soon as my feet touched sand. In the mile or so that I walked in the sand along the ocean surf I saw three different young adults sitting and reading their Bibles. Maybe locals will tell you differently, but this was not what I was expecting to see on the beach in LA! Whenever I read my Bible at a coffee shop, café, or park people say stuff to me like Oh I should do that more, or good for you, or wow, what a reminder. So here I was experiencing that visual: People all over the world love and follow Jesus! I came away encouraged just seeing these folks and resolving to live my faith out in transparent ways. (Jesus said it in the Sermon on the Mount: Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16)
  2. I am working at practicing more acceptance and less judgment. I’ve realized how often I judge people and situations by first appearance. For instance, I learned that Nicki Minaj is a believer and has a sweet rap in the Tasha Cobbs Leonard gospel song, “I’m Getting Ready.” An employee at my hotel looked tough as nails but then God prompted me to pray for her and He gave me a prophetic word for her. She literally hugged me when we said good bye. I learned that San Francisco has already instated laws and LA is close behind that prohibit anyone not waccinated from entering a restaurant, bar, concert venue, hospital visitation, or event center. At first glance this might seem to carry logic, but I don’t see how this isn’t a new version of you can’t sit at my lunch counter! Kaiser found that over half of African Americans and Latinos are not waccinated and don’t want to be. I know many people who have already had the virus and believe their natural immunity will last. I know several women with health issues that prevent taking the jab but now, in California at least, they are shunned from society. I’m not going to judge anyone if they have it, don’t have it, don’t want it. I know that we each are trying to live our lives in the best way possible that fits for us. (Jesus again has the lowdown: “Do not judge, so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2)
  3. We will reap what we sow, especially in the investments we make with family. I was in LA because my daughters wanted to have a mother daughter weekend together. They are successful, grown women who could fly anywhere for a weekend and be with just about anyone, who wanted to spend a weekend moving slow with their mom and each other. I felt so loved and honored. These are my favorite people on the planet! Every night as we got into our matching pjs (thank you Brooke!) laughing, cuddling, and eating chocolate I was reminded of the investments of love, patience, compassion, and listening that graced their childhood. To all you mommas out there—you will reap a precious reward one day! Keep your love on, keep smiling and laughing, keep speaking words of life over your children. (“Whatever a person sows, this he will also reap. Let’s not become discouraged in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not become weary.” Galatians 6:7-9)
  4. When in doubt about where to go for dinner, always get tacos! This one needs no explanation. If you can think of a good scripture to go with it, please put it in the comments!

I received such a lovely text this week from a woman who recently received my book. She said she devoured half of it on a flight and said it had changed her entire outlook. As she was ordering ten copies for friends I was reminded (because yes, I forget or I doubt) God inspired me to write this book for the times we are in now! If you haven’t already, please get my book Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion anywhere books are sold. It will encourage you, make you laugh, and give you fresh insights for this crazy life.

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Strong and Courageous

There’s a familiar passage written around 1400 BC that is helping me work through anxiety today. Memorizing and meditating on scripture is surprisingly helpful in anchoring our identity and calming our fears. Let’s look at this together:

“Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the Law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may achieve success wherever you go.  This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will achieve success.” (Joshua 1:7-8)

Many say we are entering into a time of persecution; others say that great revival is soon. Either way, the conclusion of this passage in Joshua rings true: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified nor dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Blessings to you this week my friends! Keep me in your prayers as I’m traveling. Remember to get this blog in your email by signing up at www.MargaretAllen.org/Mondays with Margaret.

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Entering In

I’ve heard the saying “people are as close to God as they want to be.”  I understand we are responsible for our spiritual life, but here’s why I disagree with the statement: I think most of us either don’t know how to be close to God or we are misinformed as to what we could possibly hope to gain there. 

Whenever I meet with someone who complains they just can’t seem to find the time to read their Bible and pray, I instantly know they have misinformation and hurt around the goodness of God. If we believe that God punishes us, withholds good from us, doesn’t help us or come through for us, then yes of course it makes sense that we can’t find time to meet with Him. Who would want to meet with that? It gets tricky though because cognitively we may say no, I don’t believe unkind things about God, but deep within our hearts there may be disappointment toward God in very personal ways. 

How do we work through this duplicity? Press in. Be honest—God can handle what we have to say!  We can ask Him to meet us, speak to us, comfort and guide us. We can choose to consciously align our heart and mind with the truth of scripture. Well, I don’t feel like God is close to me. Feelings don’t create truth—they follow truth. “… the one who comes to God must believe that He exists, and that He proves to be One who rewards those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6) We believe that God is good and has good for us based on the truth of scripture and our feelings of closeness will follow.

Did Jesus in fact encourage people to draw near and follow Him? Jesus urged a close relationship, saying “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-30) Jesus knew that He had good to offer us—peace and gentleness, partnership in life, learning and wisdom. He knew that His sacrificial death on the cross would defeat darkness and spiritual oppression. Jesus lived a perfect life so that we could enter in to relationship with God.

Listen to the tenderness of God’s heart toward us: “For the Lord God says this: ‘Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and look after them. As a shepherd cares for his flock on a day when he is among his scattered sheep. So I will care for My sheep and will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day. I will feed them in a good pasture, and their grazing place will be on the mountain heights of Israel. There they will lie down in a good grazing place and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will feed My flock and I Myself will lead them to rest,’ declares the Lord God. I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken, and strengthen the sick.” (Ezekiel 34:11-16) This doesn’t sound like someone we have to beg to come close to us, does it?

I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken, and strengthen the sick.” This, my friend, is the heart of God toward us. Do you feel lost right now? Is your life scattered or broken? Catherine Marshall wrote, “God seeks us out at a point in our own need and longing and runs down the road to meet us…At the same time, there is one central core of the entering-in or commitment experience that is common to everyone who undergoes it. It is the act of putting oneself—past, present, and future—into God’s hands to do with as He pleases.” (Beyond Our Selves, p 44)

Are we as close to God as we want to be? If not, we can put ourselves—past, present, and future—into God’s hands to do with as He pleases. We enter in, because we know that He is good.

Go to my website www.MargaretAllen.org for more resources. Please share this blog with everyone who is pressing in!

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The Love of God

I’ve had some rainy afternoons, perfect for reading, during this past week. I found an old favorite of mine at the thrift store in town and I was eager to dive in. Beyond Ourselves by Catherine Marshall has truly surprised me this week. Ideas that I thought so revolutionary and radical—like God is Good, He’s better than you Think by Bill Johnson or Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning, were preceded by the wife of U.S Senate Chaplain Peter Marshall in faith. Published in 1961, Beyond Ourselves by Catherine Marshall is a radical exploration of the goodness of God in the midst of human suffering. Early in the book, she writes: “A few years ago there were those who said that the atom could not be split. The atom has been split. Why should we not go forward in the same spirit to explore the spiritual world where lies the answer to a greater riddle—the riddle of the nature of man and his relation to the universe? This spiritual world is a real world. There is terrain there still to be discovered; peaks yet to be scaled; new truth to be mined; in short, the spiritual atom to be split.” (p. 14)

Her earnest and thorough pursuit of God have reminded me of the Apostle Paul’s language in Ephesians 3:8 “To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ.” The truth and beauty in Christ are unfathomable riches—boundless, endless, unsearchable—and yet we will gladly spend our lives plumbing those depths!

Marshall asks the question, in watching Jesus, what did His disciples learn about God? She answers, “Jesus acted as if there was never any question of the Father’s willingness to supply all needs—even such material ones as appeasing hunger. God was concerned about men’s bodies along with their souls: Divine love delighted in dispelling pain, in restoring sanity, in straightening crooked limbs and opening blind eyes, even in banishing premature death. Jesus said that in heaven there was an instant readiness to forgive and great joy over finding the lost.” (p. 32) She goes on to say, “The gospels make it clear that to Jesus the Father is all-loving, is of the essence of love, cannot help loving. Moreover, this love includes the attributes of love known to all of us—good will, unselfishness, consideration, justice, wanting only good things for us, desiring our happiness. It is not a love dependent on our earning it. God is “for us” first, last, and always. By every word and action, by all the force of His personality, Christ sought to tell us that the Father is always nearer, mightier, freer to help us than we can imagine.” (p.33)

“By every word and action, by all the force of His personality, Christ sought to tell us that the Father is always nearer, mightier, freer to help us than we can imagine.”  My friend, let that sink in for a moment. Where do you need God’s nearness? How do you need His help? In studying the words and actions of Christ, we find that God is more than willing to come alongside of us. In listening for His voice in prayer, we discover the goodness God has for us.

As we reflect on the love of God this week, here’s a good word to ponder, memorize, meditate on: “The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.” (Psalm 145:9) All His works! How do we enter in to the kind of relationship with God where we experience His tender mercies as our reality? How to Enter In will be next week’s blog.

If you would like to receive this blog in your email every Monday morning, just go to www.MargaretAllen.org/Mondays with Margaret and sign up!

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Monthly Mashup #5

Welcome to my monthly mashup! These are some of the things I’ve enjoyed or pondered this month:

Book I’m reading: “Your Power in the Holy Spirit” by John G. Lake. 

This book was compiled by Roberts Liardon and published in 2010. The material comes from sermons and papers given by John G. Lake around 1908 to 1920. This is a beautifully tender, powerful book. Here’s a little taste: “We live in order that our souls may grow. The development of the soul is the purpose of existence. God Almighty is trying to obtain some decent association for Himself. By His grace, He is endeavoring to have us grow up in His knowledge and likeness to that stature (see Ephesians 4:13-15) where, as sons of God, we will comprehend something of His love, of His nature, of His power, of His purpose, and be big enough to give back to God what a son should give to a great Father—the reverence, the love, the affection that comes from the understanding of the nobleness and greatness of His purpose.” P. 124 It’s hard to find a book about the deeper walk with God that isn’t stuffy or too heavy with dry theology. This tender story of transformation and the impact of John G. Lake on hundreds of thousands of people will walk you into the goodness of God.

Song I’m enjoying: “When I lock eyes with You” by Maverick City Music.

This is eight minutes (that’s the short version) to linger in God’s presence. I love the expression “when I lock eyes with You” because we don’t “lock eyes” with strangers. No, to lock eyes, or to gaze intently is an intimate thing. To take the time in our busy, fragmented world to gaze into the eyes of God and linger with His Holy presence, is so refreshing. Here’s the short version: https://youtu.be/mVlv0hSJGSw Here’s the long version: https://youtu.be/5xvCY0_vaDA

Quote I’m pondering: “The Fading of Forgiveness” Tim Keller quotes Baylor professor Alan Jacobs: 

“When a society rejects the Christian account of who we are, it doesn’t become less moralistic but far more so, because it retains an inchoate sense of justice but has no means of offering or receiving forgiveness. The great moral crisis of our time is not, as many of my fellow Christians believe, sexual licentiousness, but rather vindictiveness.  Social media serve as crack for moralists: there’s no high like the high you get from punishing malefactors. But like every addiction, this one suffers from the inexorable law of diminishing returns. The mania for punishment will therefore get worse before it gets better.” Read the entire article here: https://www.cardus.ca/comment/article/the-fading-of-forgiveness/

T-Shirt I’m smiling at: You stay safe, I’ll stay free

Thanks to my young friend Lauren standing up for medical freedom. She asks, “Will you stand against segregation? It’s simple, but it won’t be easy. Pledge to not support or participate in anything that segregates human beings. History will thank you.”

Have a beautiful week everyone! Please share my book, Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion with anyone needing some inspiration!