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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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Inspired by Meekness

I want to brag on someone today and it’s not to exalt them but to instruct us. Recently I heard an inspiring talk from my friends Jeremy and Debora Anderson. A little bit of context might help: they are campus ministers at UC Santa Cruz and they oversee all the Chi Alpha campus ministers in Cali, Az, Nevada and Hawaii. They also send teams into Asia Pacific and the Middle East. Many of you will recognize their name from the foreword in my book. Debora had a dream that I wrote a book called Gracious Living. She was so impacted by this dream that she had canvas bags made with Gracious Living printed on them and gave them to me as a gift. Her prophetic dream focused my journey of writing and was the reason I titled my book, Gracious Living.

Hearing Jeremy and Debora speak; shoot, just being around them brought something to life inside my heart and mind. I became more sensitive to what the Holy Spirit was saying. Psalm 19:12 spoke to me: “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.” This resonated for me and it led me to James 1:21-25 “therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” When my eyes fell upon the word “meekness” I stopped. Receive with meekness the implanted word. Jeremy and Debora are my living examples of meekness. Right in front of my eyes, they live and love from a pure heart. They don’t spend energy protecting and defending. They just give and trust that God will protect them and fill them. They don’t try to argue anyone into the Kingdom of God; they simply bring an experience with God’s holy presence that is winsome and inspiring. Jeremy and Debora are parenting the next generation of college students to love Jesus and to follow Him. They mentor grads on how to run their business with joy and humble hearts; they instruct young couples to walk out their marriages with service and gratitude. Just being around their precious family brings peace!

I realize you can read this and think well what a nice couple, I’m happy for them but I guess I’m wanting to stir up something more than that. Let me ask the questions I’ve asked myself after time with them: Can people come to us for prayer? Do they? Are we leading people to Christ through our words and lifestyle– or are we simply ‘nice’ folks? Do we carry the power and anointing of a holy life? What I find striking is that the meekest couple I know has the most impact on the Kingdom and on me personally. When I heard them speak, they didn’t talk about sin at all but I was convicted of sin. When I’m around them, I just want to be a better person—more of who God made me to be. 

Matthew 11:12 contains a fascinating verse that sums up what I’m observing in Jeremy and Debora: “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violent assault, and violent men seize it by force [as a precious prize].” Students at UC Santa Cruz are seizing the Kingdom of God, pursuing Christ as a precious prize because Jeremy and Debora are representing Him well. And I want to do the same!

Who’s inspiring you lately? If you are looking for something significant to give toward, please consider investing in Jeremy and Debora’s ministry at UC Santa Cruz and beyond. Learn more about them at www.WCXA.com

Remember to go to www.MargaretAllen.org for free resources and to sign up for the blog. Just scroll to the bottom of Mondays with Margaret to get this blog in your email every Monday. Have a great week everyone!

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A Long Shelf Life

Fun fact: our prayers have a long shelf life. No Biblical story demonstrates this more than the story of Zacharias and Elizabeth. When an angel appeared to Zacharias and told him “your prayer is heard and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son” and Z replies to the angel, “How? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.” (See Luke 1:13-18) We realize by his response, Zacharias and Elizabeth hadn’t prayed for a son in many years. They had given up on that dream, but God did not forget!

In Acts 10 a roman military officer, Cornelius, is described as a prayerful, generous, God-fearing man who encountered an angel in a vision. The angel released this amazing revelation: “Your prayers and your generosity have created a memorial before God.” The prayers of this one man were answered miraculously while the disciples witnessed the Holy Spirit move among gentiles in ways they did not conceive as possible. (See Acts 10 for this wonderful story) 

So, dear friend, if our prayers create a memorial before God, meaning they are remembered by God and for a long, long time, what’s on our prayer list? If we could sit out on the back porch with God, what would we talk about? Our loved ones? Our future, direction, and purpose? Would we pray for our family, our school or work, our nation to walk with God in fresh ways? Long after we forget these prayers, God continues to remember them and honor the cry of our heart.

One month before my 40th birthday I gave birth to our son, Samuel Cooper. Every day of my pregnancy I blessed him and prayed for him. And every night (until he stayed up way later than us) we would bless Cooper before he went to bed. We prayed about little concerns of the day like tests coming up or friendships happening, but we also prayed for God’s vision for his life. We blessed him to be a man of integrity and wisdom. We blessed him to love God’s word and to walk in His ways. We prayed all kinds of prayers I can’t even remember but God still has them. You see, prayers I’ve long forgotten are just now coming up on God’s to do list!

Cooper returned home this week from his freshman year at Baylor. Like Samuel in the Bible, it appears that a razor has not touched his head and also like the Biblical Samuel he does not let God’s word fall away from him. Cooper likes to read his Bible with me in the mornings. We sip our coffee and share insights from what we are reading. When he was a chubby little toddler and I prayed he would love God’s word and walk in wisdom, I had no idea how beautifully God would honor that prayer! I could not have imagined the young man he would become or the impact he would have in his world.

Our prayers matter– they are not forgotten! In fact, the throne of God is described in Revelation as being surrounded by twenty-four elders worshipping before the Lamb, “each having golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” (Revelation 5:8) If our prayers are this precious to God, please dear saint, don’t let up, don’t get weary or distracted! Pray the prayers of heaven and watch God do amazing things!

Sign up for my blog at www.MargaretAllen.org and find my book Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion anywhere books are sold.

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Celebrating Moms

Does anyone else have mixed feelings about Mother’s Day? Maybe our mom wasn’t so great and Mother’s Day is a painful reminder of what we never had. Or maybe our mother has passed and we just miss her. Maybe we long to become a mom but it just hasn’t happened. 

I know it’s supposed to be a special day with family but when my kids were young, I just wanted a day off! It took me a few years as a mother to realize that I need to communicate in the week leading up to Mother’s Day what I would like to see happen.  Moms, set the expectations for your day! No one can read your mind or guess what feels honoring to you. Let your family know ahead of time what makes you feel uniquely loved, appreciated, and honored.

When Mother’s Day is no big deal, everyone loses: our children don’t learn how to demonstrate honor and respect toward women, a watching community fails to perceive the value of motherhood. And let’s face it, us moms are giving it all we’ve got 24/7 and a genuine expression of love would be like oxygen to our soul!  We live in a culture where women haven’t always been honored. To swim upstream from that current creates a space where mothers are celebrated and treated with respect.

I like to think of the week leading up to Mother’s Day as a great time to hit all the love languages as we honor the mommas around us. I reach out to the women who have played the important role of mentor in my life. I recognize the great moms in my community. Women can encourage each other this week– with words of affirmation in what we say or write. We can create quality time together or send a gift that shows our thoughtfulness. We can find ways to serve each other, honor each other, and show affection. We all long to know that we are doing a beautiful job as a mom and that perhaps others see it and are inspired.

Whenever I begin to doubt my impact as a mother or question the worth my role, I reflect on the honor that Jesus displayed toward His mother. In His final act of honor, love, and compassion Jesus spoke to His mother from the cross. He charged His number one disciple, John, to care for His mother. And then He released His Spirit to God. Think about it–in a cultural context where women were not honored or esteemed, Jesus cared for His mother in a practical and profound way.

Do you have a spiritual mom in your life? A woman who took the time to mentor and disciple you? Honor her this week! If you are blessed to have your mom in your life or to be that mother to little ones, take time this week to celebrate this privilege. And to all the mommas out there, God bless you this week and thank you for all that you do to make this world a beautiful place! 

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Reader’s Question: Law of Partnership

Just as the law of gravity orders our physical world, spiritual laws govern the spiritual realm. The law of partnership is one of those laws. In my Real Talk interview with Pastor Lily Olgiati I explained that in this law of partnership, God is a gentleman. Meaning that He waits for our engagement with Him, never intruding on space we have not offered. In contrast, the devil is terrifyingly intrusive, taking ground that was never intentionally offered.  Any experience with addiction, anger, or fear quickly verifies this. We may open the door to a temporary experience and find we have fallen down a slippery slope of painful behaviors. 

Throughout the Old Testament, we read statements like this: “If you would only obey Me, then…” (see Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 4,5,6, 1 Samuel 7) Is God on a big power trip about obedience? No, rather I believe He created this law of partnership, that He LONGS to bless us, pour good into our lives, IF we will only PARTNER with Him. God cannot force blessing upon us but eagerly waits for us to open the door to Him.  Similarly, if we partner with the enemy, we have empowered him (the devil and demonic spirits) whose goal is to steal, kill, and destroy. (Jn. 10:10) We see in scripture that when God’s people pray, fast, dedicate themselves, and obey, then peace follows. God delivers them from oppression of every kind and pours out blessing and rest. And when God’s people wander from Him and follow (partner with) other gods, the door to oppression, sickness, and lack opens.

How can we identify partnerships in our life? Think about the last experience you had that felt off, uncomfortable, or confusing. As you reflect, ask yourself- was I holding hands with fear? Anger? Rebellion? Or in this situation was I truly participating with faith, patience, obedience? We can partner (participate, hold hands) with the enemy in many subtle ways. Let’s take fear for example: maybe we come from a family who worries a lot. In every situation we have been trained to look at what could possibly go wrong and how we could be in danger. Even though we are Christ-followers, fears tumble out of us, keeping us awake at night as we fret over the health of our children, our finances, careers, politics, and so on. We partner with fear by obsessively controlling our relationships, health, and environment, constantly scrolling, posting and speaking our fear multiple times a day.

I was at a women’s group once where I heard a woman say to four different people that she had gotten a mammogram that day because her mother had breast cancer as did her grandmother also. All day and throughout her life she rehearsed this fear and spoke it to anyone who would listen: my grandmother and mother had cancer and I fear that I will as well. What would partnering with faith look like in this situation rather than holding hands with fear and foreboding? She could acknowledge her fear to God and hand it to Him to carry. She could then speak life over herself saying something like I am a blood-bought daughter of Christ the King! He says I am beloved and blessed. I am so sorry for my grandmother and mother’s experience but that is not my inheritance! I believe that God’s goodness will follow me all the days of my life because His plans for me are not for calamity but for good. (See Jeremiah 29:11) Throughout her life she then partners with God’s design for health in her eating, drinking, relaxing, and speaking. 

Have we opened doors to the enemy by partnering with rebellion rather than obedience? (I share my story of this in my Real Talk interview with Pastor Lily- watch it here: https://youtu.be/KZhNtOhpEwA ) Have we spoken fear over our life and now feel almost bullied by dread and foreboding? Have we held hands with a political spirit so much that we have alienated friends and family? 

When we discover how we’ve partnered with the enemy, we need simply to break that alliance. I’ve woken up some days in a pissy mood and then declared out loud I will not partner with this spirit! This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it! And the power and love in God’s Name comes to me. Whatever your situation, say to the Lord I am holding hands with You today. I will not hold hands or partner with_____. I renounce it and break all ties with it. I command that spirit to leave in Jesus’ Name. I ask You Jesus to fill in all that space with Your peace and love. Amen

A friend asked how I developed this understanding of partnerships and laughing, I said, “I’m not that smart- I’m just a good reader!” My professor from Fuller Seminary, Dr. Charles H. Kraft brought this law to light. I highly recommend his books, I Give You Authority and Deep Wounds, Deep Healing.

An easy way to partner with God is to daily open the door to spirit-filled information and dialogue. You can get fresh input into your spiritual life by checking out my book, Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion. You can find it on my website (along with this blog) www.MargaretAllen.org or anywhere books are sold. Next week we will explore powerful ways to partner with God to open doors of His blessing and protection.

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Forgiving Past Hurts

Do you want to forgive someone but just can’t seem to make it happen? Many times, we will genuinely want to release past hurts or offenses but our efforts don’t stick. We continue replaying hurtful conversations and experiences even though we want to be rid of them. Let me describe a process to journal and pray through that will lead us into complete forgiveness. First, let’s look briefly at what forgiveness is NOT:

Forgiveness is not erasure. We don’t come along with a white board eraser and wipe it from the slate. Rather, we write Paid in Full next to the offense.  It is paid for through the blood of Christ. It cost Him something and it has cost us something.

Forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation. We can forgive someone but that doesn’t automatically mean we want to have dinner with them. We can forgive the offense and honestly say they don’t owe us anymore, while also holding the boundary that we don’t desire to continue opening our life to them.

Forgiveness is not rationalizing or marginalizing what someone has done. We don’t say things like “oh, he had a rough childhood” or “she’s just that way.” Rather, we acknowledge the wounding that happened and release it to Jesus Christ, asking Him to carry it for us.

When I began to study the Bible as I processed wounding from my childhood, I was struck by the fact that Jesus expected us to forgive others. How could He demand this? Did He not know the horrible things that could happen in life? Yes actually, if anyone could ever understand injury and betrayal it was Jesus. Will you take a moment and read Matthew 18:23-35? It is Jesus’ answer to the question of how many times must we forgive someone? In the story a man does not forgive because he did not fully perceive his own freedom and forgiveness. Our forgiving others and even ourselves is anchored in one simple fact: Jesus purchased our forgiveness with His blood. It is paid for-past, present, future. Christ-followers forgive because God has forgiven all of our sins. When we can own the radical, brazen love and forgiveness of God for ourselves then we are free, truly free to love and forgive others.

Grab a journal and some Kleenex and find a quiet space. Anchor in the love of God and then ask Him to show you any hurts, offenses, or unforgiveness that you may be holding toward anyone. Write down what He shows you, listing the person, the offense, and all the effects that have rippled through your life. List the emotions that came with the hurt—perhaps betrayal, anger, shame, fear and so on. For each event acknowledge that Jesus is just, and He will deal with that person rightly. I acknowledge that Christ died on the cross to pay for that hurt with His precious blood. “Then, I take the offense, hurt, and every connected emotion, and lay them at the feet of Jesus.  Each time I say something like, I have every right to be hurt (angry, bitter, jealous, afraid, etc.) but I know if I hold on, it will ruin me.  It’s too heavy for me to carry, Lord. I ask Jesus to carry that hurt or offense for me.” (Gracious Living, p. 240)

After laying these things at His feet, “I acknowledge that the hurt has taken up space in my heart and mind that needs to be filled with something else. If I’ve held bitterness, for example, I will ask Jesus to replace it with a sweet and tender spirit. If I’ve held on to fear and foreboding, I’ll ask Jesus to pour joy in every place that once carried fear.” (Gracious Living, p 241) Do you understand the process so far? We list the hurt and all the effects it has had and we consciously lay them at the feet of Jesus, asking Him to carry it for us. Then, we replace those emotions with ones that Jesus gives us. Now, one last step: “Because demonic spirits often inflame unforgiveness, I conclude my forgiveness practice with a prayer of renunciation and protection. I’ll pray, I no longer partner with unforgiveness (bitterness, fear, anger, hurt, etc.). I command these spirits to leave in Jesus’ name. I forbid them to return or torment me about this hurt again.” (Gracious Living, p 241)

For years I struggled with shame and anxiety but when I spent just a few hours focused in this way, laying shame and anxiety at His feet, I was changed. A true exchange happened! Take some time this week to process forgiveness. If you stall out, get a trusted friend or counselor to walk through it with you. My book, Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion spells out the process in greater detail. Go to www.MargaretAllen.org for the book, the blog, and free resources.

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Real Talk

Finding a faith-based women’s group that feels safe, fun, and inspiring is not always easy! When I traveled to Israel last year, I met Pastor Lily of Family Community Church in San Jose and a wonderful group of women from the church who were all traveling together.  I’ve enjoyed being a part of this group ever since. Pastor Lily interviewed me to talk about my faith journey and writing my book, Gracious Living. I thought for the blog today it would be fun to share our interview. The sound is a bit quiet for the first five minutes but hang in there because my mic does get turned up! We talk about dynamics of walking closely with God, forgiveness, shame, and more. Listen to it at: https://youtu.be/KZhNtOhpEwA

And remember, I have free encouraging resources on my website www.MargaretAllen.org Sign up for the blog at the bottom of Monday’s with Margaret. You can find my book there or anywhere books are sold: Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion.

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God Alone

If 2020 was the year from hell, then 2021 is the year hell freezes over! Oh my goodness friends, in the past few weeks, I have been shook. I can tell you I’ve been through it. There were moments when nothing was left to stand on except this one fact: The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer. (2 Samuel 22) If you have been through a hard season, you know what I’m talking about. Time stands hushed as we realize we have nothing; and we know of nothing that will help us except the mercy and goodness of God.

Have you ever visited that place of desperation? I was surprised at how little mattered besides knowing God’s voice. Advertising meant nothing to me—a new lipstick or a new car-it would not matter. I looked at the sweet faces of people around me, though they cared deeply, they couldn’t walk through this for me. What do you do when no person and no thing can help you in the midst of your pain? What do you do when every possible avenue has been explored and no options remain? Cry out to God, my friend!

“But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head. I cried to the Lord with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill.” (Psalm 3:3-4)

“Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; have mercy on me, and hear my prayer.” (Psalm 4:1)

“Give heed to the voice of my cry, My King and my God, for to You I will pray.” (Psalm 5:2)

“In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry came before Him, even to His ears. He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me.” (Psalm 18:6,19)

It’s hard to believe God delights in you when you are crying your guts out and snot is covering your pillow. But scripture reveals that God delivers us because He actually delights in us! Even at our darkest moments, in our deepest pain, God hears. He cares. He answers. He’s been there all along, waiting for us to cry out to Him for help.

Jesus Christ is King. He alone can deliver us from our enemies and save us, spirit, soul, and body. Every other avenue we pursue for our health and salvation will come woefully short. Next week I will be able to share more about this desperate season, but for now I commend you to God. Seek His face! You will find God’s heart in the psalms. I pray that you hear His voice throughout your day and into the night.

I don’t know how long you will be able to find me on social media so please sign up to receive my blog in your email at www.MargaretAllen.org at the bottom of “Monday’s with Margaret.” You can get my book Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion on my website or anywhere books are sold!

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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.