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Need a Break?

I don’t mind working from home, it’s living at work that wears me out! Are you just done? Over it? Needing an infusion of creativity, energy, and vision? I know of something that helps, but my answer may surprise you. This is a habit that productivity consultants and the Bible agree on.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord your God…For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (The Ten Commandments in Exodus 20)

Before our mind races to an image of people huddled around their Bible by candlelight, consider what it could look like for us to take a Sabbath. In my book, Gracious Living, I describe a process: “My husband and I made small changes in habits and reaped the family benefits of this gift of the Sabbath. We purposed to make Sunday a restful day. That meant the tiny changes of finishing all the laundry by Saturday, choosing not to get online or watch television, and instead having family night where we played games, worshipped, and had devotions. Andy and I used to laugh that we couldn’t buy a nap on Sundays, but we sure tried!” I’ll add that we also skipped dinner on Sunday evenings as a way to lessen the work load while also modeling prayer and fasting to our children.

Dear Parents, if our kids are doing school online all week, they need a break from technology. How can we possibly develop a healthy family culture if we are never all together in an undistracted environment? “Those Sabbath days we not only modeled how to listen to God and enjoy His nearness, but also how to listen to each other and enjoy each other’s friendship.  It trained each of us to live in a mindful, restful, reflective rhythm each week. It gave us permission to pull out of frantic busyness and breathe. Embracing the grace and rest of a weekly Sabbath filled us with the energy to give others grace throughout the week.” (From Gracious Living, p. 96) Not only is our personal life energized by this day set apart, but also our professional life. Productivity experts advise executives to take a day with no texts, emails, or work calls to evaluate the big picture, birds-eye view of life.

As working from home and living at work have blurred any sense of normalcy, setting up a boundary like a Sabbath will actually increase our creativity and zest for life. Interestingly, Jesus said “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27-28) This boundary was designed by God FOR us. Jesus described the Sabbath as a gift to help us rest and savor life. It is not meant to be a rigid ruleset that confines our activities. Rest is a good thing. Reflection and mindful living are good things! Consider enjoying a Sabbath this month and record what you discover.

I would love to hear how you have created a pattern of rest in your life. Does anyone else follow a Sabbath? Let us hear from you! Share any habits that have worked for you and your family.

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I talk about ways to walk closely with God in my book, Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion. It is available anywhere books are sold. http://www.margaretallen.org

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Abiding in Christ

I finished my Peloton ride, proud that I worked out before breakfast. Sweating, I moved into my stretching routine still feeling pretty accomplished so early in the day. As I eased into a lunge, I suddenly and unexpectedly sensed God’s voice. He said to me, Margaret, I am the vine, you are the branches. If you abide in Me and I abide in you; you will bear much fruit.  Apart from Me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

And that’s when I began to weep. God, apart from You I am completely lost. I need You in my life. I need Your speaking voice. I need Your holy presence, God. Otherwise, it’s all a mess- my marriage, my kids, my home, my business, my health, thoughts, attitudes, and mindset. You ARE the vine God. I am a little branch living through You!

All week I’d tried connecting with God and came up empty. I read my Bible, prayed, listened to podcasts and so on. But the entire time I felt distant and distracted, like a cloud blocked my view. Until He spoke that one verse to me, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” In that moment it was all clear as day: apart from the Holy Spirit living dynamically through me, I can do nothing. Nada. Zero. But, actively connected with Christ, all things are possible!  

If our natural tendency is toward distraction, what did Jesus mean when He said we must abide in Him? To abide is to dwell, make our home, live in, pitch our tent, cohabit. Abide also means to linger, stick around, to remain. Jesus, our wise teacher, Prophet, king, instructed His friends how to maintain a deep and personal relationship. Gazing out over the vineyards, He said, think of Me as the vine and you are one of the branches. Those connected to Me, making their home in me and, I in return, dwelling, remaining in them, will bear great fruit. But of course, you understand if a branch breaks off the vine it will wither and dry up. It will not bear beautiful life-giving fruit. Hear me: a branch disconnected from the vine simply will not produce life.

What is needing a God infusion in your life right now? Has your distraction only produced withered results? We all need fresh encounters with God. In every area of life, Jesus wants to bring supernatural provisions and solutions.  But if we are not connected, abiding, dwelling IN Christ we miss those moments of counsel and comfort. We will not bear the fruit that is needed right now. 

I check in often with God to see if I’m truly sustained by Him. How about you, my friend?  If you struggle to know God deeply, get the book Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion. In Gracious Living, I’ve carefully described ways to understand what God is saying. I’ve included prayers that you can pray, along with Biblical declarations to proclaim aloud. The book and the declarations are on my website at www.MargaretAllen.org Join me in the Gracious Living journey; get connected to God!

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Waking Up

I woke up sensing:  I have food to eat of which you do not know. Ok, that’s weird but I recognized it as something Jesus said in the Bible. Like a smooth stone in my hand, I turned the phrase over and over in my mind. God why are you saying this to me?

I have food to eat of which you do not know comes from the Biblical book of John, a first century biography of Jesus, chapter 4. The story describes mid-day during a long journey and Jesus’ disciples have gone into town for food. Jesus, sitting at a well encounters a Samaritan woman. He rips through social boundaries to experience a genuine conversation with her (normally it would be improper for a rabbi to speak to any woman in public, especially one of mixed race as the Samaritans. It was even greater impropriety to share a drink with her). The long story short is that He pretty much reads her mail! He indicates knowledge about her past with all of its disappointment and shame. He indicates knowledge of her future hope. Get this: He tells her that God is seeking true worshippers. She, a discarded Samaritan woman, mattered to God.  

What I love about Jesus is that He did not participate in racial bias. He refused to be hindered or held back from extending justice toward a woman of the lowest rung in society. He lived out a life of honor, love, and compassion rather than perpetuating fear, shame, and division. Do you know anyone like that today? Are you that person creating a beautiful culture in your community?

I haven’t even gotten to my favorite part of the story! When his disciples return with the food, He essentially says no thanks, I’m full. Besides being shocked that Jesus is speaking to a Samaritan woman, the disciples want to know where He got his grub! Jesus clarifies, My food is to do the will of God. And what was the will of God? To bring this woman into wholeness. To establish her worth, dignity, and purpose. To answer her deepest questions about friendship with God. 

When I woke up with the Spirit speaking those words, I have food to eat of which you do not know, He was reminding me there’s a feast in the Spirit of God. There’s a joyful sustenance bigger than my circumstances would want me to know. Jesus is seeking an encounter with each of us today. He wants to minister to our pain and our shame. He waits to release hope, purpose, and destiny to us! Dear friend, do you have food today that others can’t see?

Hey, if you’re digging these posts, feel free to share them on your social media! If you want to get these as an email every week, just go to MargaretAllen.org and click on Mondays with Margaret and sign up for emails at the bottom of that page. Buy the book Gracious Living for yourself or be crazy and buy 10 for your friends to read and discuss!