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.


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.


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!


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.


Garment of Praise

On the morning of New Year’s Eve I nestled into my comfy couch with a Bible and a delicious cup of hot coffee. Before reading, I took one quick scroll through Insta stories and my eye caught on a scripture that a young friend of mine posted (Thanks Sam!) And just like that–no gif, no emoji, just a plain screen with a verse on it, God captured my attention. I read Isaiah 61, the verses that Jesus quoted when He first announced His ministry:

“He sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”

I’m pierced by the phrase “garment of praise.” As I sat with my coffee, I felt God state matter-of-factly, Maggie you need a new garment.  My breath caught in my throat. Yes? Garments can be taken off or on and I guess somewhere in 2020 I took off that lovely garment of praise and put on one of low-key sadness. It wasn’t like a heavy coat of depression, but it was more like an undershirt. I wore it under a jacket at the beach or sweats at home. I wore it while we played cards during the holiday and while I cooked our meals. Can anyone relate to this? Like a low-grade fever, sadness doesn’t stop one from working and going about the day. But it does flatten our response to life. Perhaps it insulates us from anxiety but it also dampens our joy. And I don’t know about you, but I was made for joy!

So, I got up off the couch and imagined Jesus standing there with a beautiful garment of praise. Would you like to do the same? As we turn with our back to Him and slip one arm into the sleeve and then the other, He bestows on us what He promised: a garment of praise. Will you accept it? Wear it? Admire it in the mirror? (Yes, praise does look good on you!) Wear His garment of praise in the car, at the beach, while you cook. Declare God’s goodness as you go to sleep and when you awake. 

After Jesus read Isaiah 61, He said, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled” and He sat down. (Luke 4:21) Think about it: He heals our broken hearts, proclaims freedom from oppression, and comforts us. He gives beauty instead of ashes, joy instead of mourning, and praise instead of despair! Jesus acknowledged the heaviness this life can bring and He declared Himself as the remedy.

Just four days into 2021 I have already won in the difficult choice to put on His garment of praise when my mind, will, and emotions screamed despair. Can I just tell you how good that felt? Come on! We are made to wear His praise. Here’s my prayer: God, we praise Your holy Name. From the rising of the sun to the setting of the same God’s Name is to be praised. For breath in our body and strength in our bones, we give You thanks. In every trial and every comfort, we give You praise, O God for You are good and Your love endures forever! Thank You Lord for giving us a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

Dear friend, if you are desiring spiritual growth, please go through my book with a friend! You can find Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion at www.MargaretAllen.org or anywhere books are sold. If you want to get this blog emailed to you each week, go to my website and sign up at the bottom of Monday’s with Margaret.



“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” Hebrews 12:1,2

I joined a running club when I lived in Tulsa years ago. I remember the feeling of starting a run all nervous and excited. I would invariably start out too fast but after a few minutes I would settle into my natural pace. And once I eased into that natural rhythm of running, breathing, and relaxing, man it felt like I could run for days. The road stretched in front of me, welcoming my arrival.

I don’t know about you, but as we head toward Christmas and New Year’s, I wonder if we all need to find our stride, our natural rhythm to finish well. Could we look at December like a marathon, choosing to ease into our run, steadying our breath, relaxing shoulders, and softening the gaze? Could we allow the path to stretch out in front of us in welcome, no matter what surprises or disappointments it holds? Unlike any other year, 2020 requires us to dig deep into our relationship with God to find sustaining grace to finish well.

How do we run? Three clues stand out as instructive from Hebrews 12:1-2. First off, we run with endurance. This life is a long haul not a sprint. Organize your life with the end in mind so you can run with endurance. Secondly, we run the race set before us. Don’t run someone else’s race- you don’t have the grace for it and you will never win! Thirdly, most importantly, we fix our eyes on Jesus. It is so stinking easy to fix our gaze on problems or pain. I can lock eyes on all the wrong things- fear, lies, conspiracies, doubt, confusion, boredom, shame, annoyance and 1000 other life-sucking issues. Every morning, and throughout the day, I choose to fix my eyes on Jesus because He is the author and the perfecter of faith. He is good, all the time.

I’ve read through the entire Bible every couple of years for the last 42 years. Yet I still sit down with my Bible every morning. Why? I’m not so much seeking information as I am connection. I am connecting with a living, loving God who longs to communicate with me through His word, through prayer, special revelation and so on. I have yet to plumb the depths of God’s word! I’m almost always surprised, comforted, corrected, or inspired by scripture. 

May you run with endurance the race set before you, my friend. I pray that you fix your eyes, yes set your mind, heart, and intention on Jesus Christ. May you discover fresh insight and joy in your journey with Him. 

*A personal note about my race: writing this blog sharpens me in so many ways. I’m grateful for the opportunity to process the spiritual life with you and to find the words to wrap around this wonderful journey in Christ. My book, Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion just went into a second printing. I’m so thankful for the ways God is using Gracious Living and I truly want to steward it well. I will be taking a break from writing for the remainder of December to focus on hearing God’s plan for next year. Please send any prayer requests or topic requests for the blog as I love to hear from you. Thank you so much for your support and encouragement. See you in 2021!


Establishing Your House

I’m just waking up from a turkey-induced coma. Life has pretty much consisted of cooking, eating, and talking about cooking or eating. But the beauty of God’s word still shines into whatever saturates our week. A new favorite chapter is 2 Samuel 7. The background is that David felt blessed and desired to honor God. He said, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains.” (2 Samuel 7:2) David wanted to bless and honor God by building Him a house.

Do you know how God responded? Something to the effect of, you want to build Me a house? How about I build you a house?! God said, “And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever!” (2 Samuel 7:16) David, who wrote 75 of the Psalms, described as “a man after God’s heart” was so full of worship and gratitude toward God that he wanted a tangible symbol of his honor for God. But God took that symbol and went Almighty with it. God honored David! God said, after David passes, “I will establish your seed and his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” (2 Samuel 7:12-13) God kept this promise through Jesus, son of David, our risen Lord and Savior.

How many times have we felt so blessed that we just wanted to show our honor and praise to God? This week as I’ve gazed upon my beautiful children, laughed with my family and friends, I’ve ached with the desire to show God how grateful I am. I have prayed along with David when he just SAT before the Lord and said: “Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far?” (2 Samuel 7:18) It doesn’t make sense to me that God pours out honor and blessing and favor on His people. But I am grateful. I hold to the promise that Jesus made in John 12:26, “If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.” 

Mary Oliver’s poem “I Wake Close to Morning” reminded me this week that the goodness of God will be obvious to anyone looking in:

Why do people keep asking to see

            God’s identity papers

When the darkness opening into morning

            Is more than enough?

Certainly any god might turn away in disgust.

Think of Sheba approaching

            The kingdom of Solomon.

Do you think she had to ask,

            “Is this the place?”

In this final month of 2020, I pray that honor and gratitude fill your house. I pray that the beauty of each new day is enough to warm and inspire you. And I pray that the graciousness of God shines richly throughout your home!

Get my book, Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion for yourself or as a gift this holiday season anywhere books are sold.


Coming Home

When many of us return home for Thanksgiving, we quickly revert to old family patterns and expectations. We’ve all seen it, the one labeled sensitive in junior high is still thought of as delicate. The favored one still gets the best seat at the table. The responsible one is still expected to do all the dishes and so on. Sometime we have to take a step back from what we think we know about each other and allow curiosity and openness to reveal what’s new.  Of any year in our lifetime, 2020 is surely the year to bring a fresh approach to our family time.

Believe it or not, Jesus went through this same scenario with His family. In Mark 3 we get the uncensored version of how some families respond to change. A multitude had surrounded Jesus so that He couldn’t even get a bite to eat. “But when His own people (His family) heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, “He is out of His mind.””  (Mark 3:21) It’s almost as if his family was saying Dude, you are a carpenter not a rabbi! What the heck, man? The brothers of Jesus later grew accustomed to His new position and encouraged Him to go to Jerusalem for essentially a publicity hype to boost His popularity. Scripture doesn’t sugar-coat it by summarizing: “For even His brothers did not believe in Him.” (John 7:5) Jesus later defined family as “whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35)

Jesus spent the majority of His life in His family household. But His family only knew Him in the flesh. The did not know Him in the Spirit. They didn’t know His purpose or calling. They had to grow and process new information about Him just like everyone else. Many people He grew up around could not accept Jesus for who He became. They questioned, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is this not the carpenter’s son?” The passage concludes, “So they were offended at Him.” (Matthew 13:55-57) Is there offense in any of our gatherings?

In our homes over Thanksgiving, people we have known in the flesh will be gathered around our table. Instead of looking at them in the flesh- the way they speak and interact, the ways we’ve always known them to be, why not look at them with spiritual eyes? Ask God to reveal His calling on their life.  Ask God to give a glimpse into HIS heart for our families. We can ask God to give specific scripture for someone at our table. He alone knows what encourages us and reminds us that He sees our heart. This Thanksgiving, allow the Holy Spirit to usher in a refreshing presence of curiosity and acceptance. Surely this is the heart of creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion.

Next week I will share five tips for hosting a loving and beautiful holiday gathering. I’m excited for new ways of creating the culture we long to possess! Thanks to everyone who has been sharing my blog and remember you can sign up to receive it in your email by going to www.MargaretAllen.org and scrolling to the bottom of Monday’s with Margaret. We just started the second printing of my book, Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion.  Get it anywhere books are sold.


What is Essential?

Our lives have been reduced in the last six months. Besides the closing of many small businesses, movie theaters, and salons, here in Silicon Valley, churches are online or extremely limited in-person capacity. Have you missed gathering?  I’ve been to three in-person church services over the past month. They were unique settings in different cities but they had one common denominator.

We looked up a church to attend while traveling in Idaho. “Let’s try something different,” I told my family. We chose a small Pentecostal church. Arriving, we realized it was PENTECOSTAL, as women wore dresses, no makeup, and some wore little doily head coverings. Instantly I regretted my bright red lipstick. Our family grinned at each other, rolled our eyes a bit, and expected little from this odd group of people. “Man looks on the outside, but God looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) Guilty here! The worship was sincere and pure. The message was genuine, thoughtful, and Christ-centered. We were surprised and refreshed.

The next service we attended was a mountain chapel in Twain Harte, California. I had been invited to preach and to bring my book, Gracious Living. It felt so good to worship at church together. I was pretty certain about the message God had put on my heart and could see the chord it struck in people by their heart-felt responses. I felt fully alive!

The third service was a Wednesday night women’s meeting in South San Jose. A rockin’ worship band played and we sang our guts out (not easy to do as we all wore masks). The sermon was an interview of mother and daughter pairs discussing their relationship with each other. They shared with honesty and raw vulnerability. It was inspiring and also informative.

The differences within these meetings were profound: we were white, black, and brown. Democrat and Republican. Rich and dangerously poor. Solid Christian families alongside many from very broken backgrounds. Pentecostal to charismatic to evangelical. The common denominator? Jesus in the room! Being fully present with people and God. Tears. Many cried at these meetings, encountering the pure love of God through Christ. We experienced His speaking voice in our hearts. We shared our stories and discovered we all have hurts in this life, but Jesus brings restoration. My friend, worshipping together with Jesus is the real deal!

“The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I have hope in Him. The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.” (Lamentations 3:24-25) 

“and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together.” (Hebrews 10:25) 

Is church essential in your life? For me, these three services were some of the most genuine, transcendent moments of my month. What’s happening in your walk with God these days? Are you gathering in-person to worship? Are you feeling connected to God and people or are there adjustments to make? I would love to hear about your journey.


Need a Break? Pt. 2

Is the Sabbath relevant to Christians today? We ask the question like it is some bitter pill we must swallow, while the world outside is literally tripping over itself to market concepts of rest, self-care, mindfulness, gratitude, laughter therapy and other such shadows.

Christians, come on—let’s enjoy our beautiful heritage! From the very creation of the earth God modeled a Sabbath rest. Jesus said the Sabbath was made FOR us. (Mark 2:27) This gift of rest includes two facets: to stop working and to draw near in relationship to God. One day a week stop working! This requires faith though. How will we stay competitive if we take a day off? Our fear about performance roots into our identity whether a farmer, a Silicon Valley techie, or a minister. Few Christian businesses take this bold approach to obedience. Few individuals enjoy a truly restful, spiritual respite in their week.

My friend Shinae and her husband were compelled to build the rhythm of a weekly Sabbath into their young family after hearing a message on creating margin. She shared, “The Holy Spirit deeply touched our hearts about taking a full day off and relaxing spiritually, mentally, and physically on the Sabbath. Rather than doing our work and schoolwork on Sundays we finish by Saturday night. On Sunday we go to church, spend family time together hiking and biking. We invite friends over, read, and so on.” She ended with this, “I truly believe that taking a full Sabbath makes our family’s life more abundant and enjoyable.” 

One day in seven we design to look like heaven. Go ahead, imagine heaven and make your Sabbath mirror it– joy, peacefulness, childlike hope, laughter and wonder in the glorious presence of Christ the King. The believer’s rest includes a rest from strivings, a rest from fear, rest from working out a righteousness of your own, a rest from sorrow. As we place a boundary around this focused time, ask: Is our heart softened to hear God’s voice?  Are we positioned to receive from God Almighty? Can we offer Him the praise and honor due His Name? We set a boundary around our Sabbath to think higher, dream bigger, love more deeply, and find our stride with God.

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night…” (Psalm 92, A song for the Sabbath day.)


If you need resources on how to walk closely with God, check out my book Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion. It can be found anywhere books are sold, or at http://www.MargaretAllen.org.