Raising Warriors a Culture Apart (Part 3: Modeling Love in Your Marriage)

What would it take to raise a modern-day hero? I don’t mean one with superpowers like Wonder Woman or Superman. … Or do I? Because every one of us who has chosen Christ has within us the greatest power of all (Philippians 4:13):

LOVE. 1 John 4:8, 16.

Love casts out fear (1 John 4:18), overcomes every hardship (Romans 8:28-39), and absolutely ruins our enemies (Romans 12:9-21). No matter what arrows Satan shoots at you, if you stand in Love’s power, you will see victory. Psalm 44:3.

So, it makes sense that if we’re going to raise up these little warriors to become more than conquerors, love is what we need to model loudly and clearly before our children every day.

Moms often have a special measure of God’s superpower to serve. We’re usually pretty good at sacrificially staying up all night with that crying baby, and washing that dirty laundry even if no one thanks us and it ends up all muddy again by evening. We may complain and lose our patience in the process, but we know it has to be done, because that little life depends on us.

But how are we doing with loving our husbands? Because those little warriors are watching us. And husbands, how are you doing with loving your wives?

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Choose to love, even when your spouse is unlovely, to bless, even when you’re persecuted. You can’t control how others treat you, but you can choose to let Love control your response.

I was thinking about that this week, as I mentored a group of moms of small children; a couple of them have husbands that can be a bit hard to love. We challenged each other to ask the Lord each morning, “What can I do to bless my husband today?” Then step out in obedience to what God brings to mind. (Whatever God says will agree with His Word and His heart of love. Visit MoreThanAConquerorBooks.com for a free guide to knowing God’s voice.)

Of course, wouldn’t you know that I got sick immediately.

I find God often loves to show how strong He is when I am weak, because I know I can’t do it in my own strength, so I have to surrender completely to Him and depend on His power to empower me. Then He miraculously does what I could never have done on my own. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.

Even now, I’m relying on His power to write this, as I’m still achy, feverish, muddle-headed, and lying down with this flu thing I have…. So, as you can imagine, having the energy to physically do the things God has asked me to do each day of this challenge has cost me. Because my body just wants to lie in bed and groan. But each day, He gives me the spurt of energy to do that special thing to bless my husband, and I’m in awe of this One I love, because He’s just … so … purposeful in the way He teaches us and molds us to be like Him.

You see, burnout happens when you’re doing more than God has asked you to, or you’re doing it in your own power. But when He is the One Whose love and power flow through you to love those around you, it feels effortless because of the joy and peace we feel as His Spirit surges through us when we obey. He accomplishes what we never could have done on our own. 

And it doesn’t matter how the other person responds. That’s not what we fix our eyes on. Just love. Period. In fact, when others respond adversely, that demonstration our children see in us as we love in the face of ungratefulness or attacks is all the louder. Matthew 5:44. 

So purpose to love. At all times in all ways. 

Husbands, I dare you this year, in 2018, to ask the Lord each morning when you wake up, “How can I bless my wife today?” and then step out in Love’s power to do that.

If you’d like some help in hearing God’s voice, living in His power, responding in love, and influencing your children and others to do the same, try the devotional Bible studies, Dare to Become a Kingdom Culture Leader, Volumes One and Two; and Dare to Be a Mighty Warrior. 

Wives, I challenge you in 2018, to daily lay down your past habits of responding to your husband out of judgment, fear, bitterness, self-defense, neediness, distrust … and ask the Lord to transform you.

For daily surrender to the Lord’s plans and walking in His power every moment, letting Him set you free from the things that hold you back, try the 2018 Delight to Be a Woman of Wonder Power Planner and Delight to Be a Woman of Wonder devotional Bible study.

Model Matthew 22:37-40 in your marriage in front of your kids, so they will know what true love looks like and rise up to conquer every conflict through the power of God’s perfect love.

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Raising Warriors a Culture Apart (Part 2: Modeling Listening to God Before Making Decisions)

With all the dangers in the world today, it can be terrifying to think about our children leaving the shelter of our home to step out there all on their own. For now, we keep them in a Christian bubble, even picking their friends for them when we can. But when that day comes for our warriors to leave home and face the enemy head on without Mom and Dad to shield them, will they be ready? Will you?

In my October blog (Part 1) on “Raising Warriors a Culture Apart” I shared with you some ways the Lord asked us to arm our children well with “sword training.”

This month, I’d like to share the importance of arming them with Kingdom Culture decision-making.

Let your children see you pray-seek God before making decisions-Model listening-knight-father-armor-pray-Mikaela Vincent-MoreThanAConquerorBooks-1

If you’re telling your children how important it is to seek the Lord before you make decisions (Proverbs 3:5-7), but you’re making all their decisions for them, how will they learn to practice what you’re preaching to them?

And if they see you making spur-of-the-moment decisions all day long without seeking Christ first, how will they know what it looks like to listen to God and follow His lead?

We need to model Kingdom Culture decision-making in a visible, audible way, and encourage them also in seeking God first now, while they’re under our roof, so it will already be their habit when they get out there in the real world.

How can we model Kingdom Culture decision making? (Proverbs 3:5-6)

  1. Make it your own habit. Every day, you are making decisions, big and small. Get in the habit of handing God each decision: “Should I buy this or not?” “Is there someone You want me to call or meet with today?” “How do You want me to handle this situation?” “What do You want me to make for dinner today? Do You want us to go out? Where? Seat us at just the table with just the waiter You want us to show Your love to.” “How can I show my children love today?” “How can I bless this person?” “How do You want me to discipline this child in this situation?” etc.
  2. Don’t hide it. Let them see you pray and listen to God. Our quiet times are definitely important, but also pray in front of your children. Let them see you stop and ask God how to respond in each situation before you decide. Pray out loud, so they can hear you. “Lord, this traffic is really bad. Is there another route You want me to take?” “Lord, I don’t know what to do in this situation. Please show me.” “Lord, Jimmy is having trouble getting his homework done. What do You suggest we do to help him?” etc.
  3. Invite them to seek the Lord together with you. Pray together with them about the situations and problems your family faces, asking God what He wants to do about that.
  4. Let them practice making decisions with God’s guidance. As God leads, when your children begin showing some wisdom and responsibility, give them freedom to pray and ask God what He wants them to do before making decisions; like whether or not to go to youth group when they’re tired, or to a movie their friends are going to, etc. You can share with them advantages and disadvantages on either side, but give them freedom to make mistakes. Then you can talk about things together afterward. This is great training ground for when they get out there in the real world and have to make decisions on their own.

That might not seem practical to you, especially when you’re in a hurry, or it feels awkward or embarrassing to pray about everything. But I could give you hundreds of examples where it made all the difference in the world, not only in my life, but in our children’s.

And I can also tell you how disastrous not seeking the Lord can be.

When our son began hanging out with a boy we thought might be a bad influence on him, my husband and I decided we’d tell him he couldn’t spend so much time with that boy. But just before I talked with him about it,  I remembered we hadn’t asked God first. So, I asked, “Lord, what do You think about that?”

His answer came immediately in that still small voice of His in my heart and mind: “I think you should ask him what I want him to do.” So, I went to our son, shared our concerns with him, then told him to pray about what he should do.

“I don’t need to pray about it, Mom. I already know what God wants me to do. He wants me to be his friend.”

Two weeks later, that boy came to Christ through our son’s influence!

Not only do the decisions we make often have eternal results, but influencing our children to seek God first by modeling it ourselves will make all the difference for the rest of their lives. And our own.

If you’d like to know more about influencing your children and others to listen to God and follow His lead, check out Dare to Become a Kingdom Culture Leader, Volume 1 and Volume 2.

 

 

 

 

 

A Prayer of Collective Repentance

I know in my last blog I said I would give you some nuggets on how God helped us foster in our children a deep hunger and passion for Him. And that’s coming. I promise!

But given all that has happened and is still happening of late, I felt the Lord asking for an intermission. A pause. For deep prayer.  For our own hearts and for the nation.

This prayer of collective repentance actually comes from my close friend, Matt Tullos:

Lord, have mercy upon us. We have shouted more than we have listened. We have looked through rage and defiance and have brutalized our brothers and sisters. We have forgotten your Word, which calls upon us to turn the other cheek, to defend those who are on the bottom rung, and to live at peace as long as it depends on us.

We have politicized the Bible and have taken scripture out of context to reframe it so that it fits our personal worldview.

Forgive us, Lord. We’ve forgotten that our kingdom is not of this world, that we are all aliens, and that we have a greater work to fulfill. This work is a labor of love, and if we are to be honest with You, we have not been laboring very well. As a nation we have sold our birthright for a crude pot of rage.

Lord of Compassion, we have forgotten what it means to listen to our brothers’ words. We have discounted their stories and we have lacked the empathy that leads to understanding. May we weep for America as You wept for Jerusalem.

Prince of Peace, we need You now more than ever. We don’t need editorials, rants, or bullhorns. We just need You. Lord, shatter our pride. Make quick word of our prejudice. Keep us from coded words, false pretences, and sarcasm. Hold a mirror to our souls and collectively, let us see our iniquity.

Lord Jesus, Son of God may we look at the cross and remember how You suffered under the greatest, deepest triangulation of injustice, betrayal and vitriolic anger while praying, “Forgive them.” Teach us how to love like that.

May the Church lead out in love and courage. May we bind the wounds of the brokenhearted and diffuse the anger of a dying culture. Transform us Lord. Teach us how to season our words with grace.

We pray this in the Name of the One who wept,

Amen…

Raising Warriors a Culture Apart (Part 1: Arm Them with the Word)

Whether you’re homeschooling your children, raising them overseas, or even just teaching them to love God in your own home, it can be a bit terrifying knowing they will soon have to step out into that scary world out there and fight who-knows-what evil. We shelter them from it as long as we can, work hard to give them good values, limit their time on social media, make them memorize verses, take them with us on our ministry trips, teach them “Jesus loves me” (sometimes even in English!).

Secretly, we’re hoping this little human God placed in our care will one day grow up to save the world. Or at least make it a better place. 

But this isn’t a movie. And we don’t yet know the evils they will face out there or what choices they will make.

How can we prepare our children to fulfill the purposes their Father God formed them for?

Arm them well. 

Ephesians 6:10-20.

When our kids were still preschoolers, the Lord told me, “These children are Mine, placed in your care for a time. You think you have 18 years to train them up in My ways, but you don’t. Right now they lean on you like you lean on Me. But by the time they reach age 10 or 11, they will lean on something or someone else. That Someone must be Me.”

1.  SWORD TRAINING.

Ephesians 6:17, Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

That was a definite fear-of-the-Lord moment for me. I scurried as fast as I could to put into effect some kind of daily Bible reading.

Because they were still toddlers, we used hand motions or songs to memorize Scripture. But once they started first grade, we began reading through the Bible every morning, using the New International Reader’s Version (third grade reading level). The format God led us to use took about 10-15 minutes to do together, but we read and talked while they ate breakfast, so it didn’t add any more time to their busy morning.

At first, the kids were highly distracted and it was difficult to stay on track, until we talked about it together, and then began starting that precious Bible time each morning with a prayer like, “Lord, please block out all distractions and guard this time together in Your Word. Take Your truth and plant it deep in our hearts so we will believe it, stand on it, and walk out in it all the days of our lives.”

Beginning each day with a feast on the Word not only edified, but empower us.  Often, God brought into the children’s paths situations to practice what He had just taught them that morning.  To this day, our now-grown children tell us that daily Bible reading together was the most powerful way God drew them to Himself.

By the time they graduated from high school, we had read the whole Bible nearly twice through together. This was the method God led us to:

  • Ask God to block out all distractions and speak to us from His Word. 
  • Read aloud a portion of Scripture (usually a few verses, sometimes a chapter).
  • Talk about it together as God led, asking questions, etc.
  • Memorize any verses God highlighted for us.
  • Pray the passage back to Him together. 

 

At around age 10-12, both our kids wanted their own personal quiet times with GodDepending on their schedule, they did this before breakfast, as soon as they finished school, or before they went to bed. So, I gave them journals and encouraged them to write, and even draw, what God was showing them each day from His Word.

They wanted to use a devotional book in their quiet times, but because they had grown up overseas in a home filled with Jesus, not many devotional Bible studies for their age were deep enough or covered issues TCKs face (like finding where home is), so the Lord led me to write Dare to Become a Man of God and Delight to Become a Woman of God, for ages 10 or 11 and above, from a mother’s heart, filled with deep truths from Scripture the Lord was telling me they needed to know for those tender pre-teen years and beyond.

I thought to study each of the books separately with the kids, as one is for boys and one for girls, but they wanted to study them both together. As my son said, “I need to know what my wife needs to know.” So they studied them in their quiet times, one chapter a week, and we got together on Saturday mornings to talk about what God was teaching us.

Soon after, several of their friends also began studying together with their parents the lessons on walking in the Word, listening to God’s voice, overcoming conflict, finding freedom from lies and strongholds, and loving well. Then youth Bible study groups began forming throughout the city, and even in other parts of the country. God taught those young people and their parents, to wield their “swords.” And now that this “army” has graduated and returned to their passport countries for college and beyond, their passion for Him has grown all the more, and they’ve stepped out on their own mission adventures throughout the world.

I realize that not ever child is as hungry for the Lord as ours were, and every situation is  different. I can share with you in my next blog some things God led us to do to help foster that hunger, but a good God-breathed Bible study plan to do with your children daily, an easy-to-read version of the Bible, some instruction on journaling so they can write what God’s teaching them in their quiet times, and a deep devotional Bible study workbook were all keys the Lord used to keep our children wanting more of His Word.

Now that they and their friends are older and facing many of the pressures singles face today, the Lord led me to write these Bible study workbooks for ages 14 and above: Dare to be a Man of God and Delight to be a Woman of God, with accompanying prayer journals

What helps have you found to arm your children with the Word while they’re young?

Finding Home in the Heart of a TCK

I’m a TCK. I don’t normally like labels, but if the shoe fits, might as well wear it, right?

TCKs are people who, when you ask us, “Where are you from?” we just sort of stare.

And then we fumble out some dumb answer that is nothing like what we feel. Because if I truly answered that question, then you‘d be the one staring at me!

Why can’t I just give a quick, one-word answer, like, “Tulsa,” or some other tangible point on earth that has a house and picket fence, or however the locals live there?

Locals? Do they even say that in America? Sigh. Can you tell I’m not “American”?

Most TCKs have no idea where on earth to call “home.” We’ll never look like, sound like or “be” a native of the country we grew up in. And we’ll never feel like, talk like, think like, or act just like the people from the country our passport says is ours.

Those two cultures have blended inside us to form a “third” culture. Which I guess is what earned us the label Third Culture Kid.

I’ve lived in so many countries now, they’re going to need a new label for me.

Or maybe I already know who I truly am. Because, you see, my home isn’t on this earth. It’s in Heaven. Or, more specifically, Christ is my Home. Wherever He is, that’s where I’m at home. His arms around me, His voice in my ear, laughing at my stupid jokes and loving me just as I am. Just the way He created me and raised me up to be, with all the heavenly qualities of all my many cultures blended together.

I guess you can call me a KCK — Kingdom Culture Kid. Because I don’t do things the way everyone else expects me to in their many, boxed-in ways.

I’m free. I want to do things the way my King does, not the world, no matter how great some cultures think they are. Oh, there are sweet, heavenly things in each of my earthly cultures, and those I think I’ll keep. But the rest of the expectations people have of me … well, I’m just not going to dance to those tunes anymore.

I was never going to please all those people anyway.

No, I dance to a different tune. I know it. They may not like it, but that’s okay. Because I’m free! Here, with my head pressed against the chest of the One I love, I can hear His heart beat, and dance to His rhythm!

Yes, Jesus, You are my Home. Wherever You are, that’s where I want to be. Whatever You’re doing, that’s what I want to do. John 5:19.

When people look in my eyes, when they hear me speak, when they see my life, I want them to know Who my King is and desire to belong to the Kingdom I call Home.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 (NIV)

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Delight to Become a Woman of God, by Mikaela Vincent

Moms, whether your daughter is a TCK or not, you’ll love studying together with her author Mikaela Vincent’s Delight to Become a Woman of God, a Bible study workbook for young women ages 11 and up on listening to God’s voice, drawing near to Christ, unlocking her beauty, and loving well, so she can become the woman of God He created her to be.

And here’s the version for young men, Dare to Become a Man of God:

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Dare to Become a Man of God, by Mikaela Vincent

With so many difficulties today’s singles face, Delight to Be a Woman of God and Dare to Become a Man of God, by author Mikaela Vincent of MoreThanAConquerorBooks.com, are two Bible study workbooks for ages 14 and up you won’t want to miss! Packed full with tips for listening to God’s voice, knowing His will, finding the spouse God has prepared for you, and breaking free from sin habits and strongholds that keep you from the sweetest things in life, these deep dives into the Word of God just might change your life:

 

 

 

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Do you have a we-evil problem?

I found weevils in our oats. Lots of them. How did they get there? One crawled in and hatched a whole lot more.

If I’d been paying attention, I could have taken care of the problem early on with a lot less damage. But by the time I looked in the bag, it was already crawling with the ugly black critters.

Of course, good TCK (“Third Culture Kid,” a fancy way of saying my passport country is not the country I grew up in) that I am, there is NO WAY I was going to throw out all those oats I’d paid for and had plans for! 

So, I froze the bag, live beasts and all.

Now, for those of you who have lived in Third World countries and are used to weevils in your oats or rice, you know that with a bit of water, those black critters float to the top. Then you can skim them off or pour them down the drain.

But if you wash the oats when the weevils are still alive rather than killing them in the freezer first, they have a tendency to crawl back out of the drain and find more places to hatch eggs.

This time, there were so many weevils that it took several washings and a whole lot of lost oats that went down the drain with their enemy before I could make granola.

So, here’s the spiritual application, in case you hadn’t guessed it yet:

If we allow the enemy with his cunning lies and sin into our hearts, our lives, our marriages, our work, our relationships, our thought lives, or even our theology, and don’t take care of the infestation straight away, but allow him to stay and make himself comfortable, devouring our lives and our relationship with God and others … he’s going to bring in a lot more of his friends and we’re going to lose A LOT.

So many blessings God wanted to give us, so many opportunities to make Him taste good to those around us, so many ways He wanted to use us for His glory, so many relationships He meant us to join with to worship and do work together… all down the drain because we didn’t take care of our sin problem early on.

But praise God, He doesn’t just throw us all away. He loves us and washes us with His grace and His love, allowing circumstances into our lives that bring the sin and lies and wrong thought processes to the surface so He can skim them off.

As we purpose to open ourselves up to His touch, He cleanses us, renews our minds and eventually makes us into something tasty and sweet with His fragrance. (I can smell the granola cooking in my oven even as I write this.)

So, if you have a “we-evil” problem in your life, Jesus is calling you to FREEZE. Now! Stop everything you’re doing and carve out that time you need alone with Him, so He can show you your sin and kill it. Then give Him time over the next few days, weeks, months and years every day in your quiet times to wash out all those wrong processes you’ve gotten used to over the years.

May He make you into something new and inviting today! And may all around you taste and see that the Lord is good!

For tips on freedom from lies and sin, visit MoreThanAConquerorBooks.com for devotionals, Bible studies, and other books by Mikaela Vincent on recognizing God’s voice and walking in His power. 

Bring us back to what matters

So, yesterday, I was joking with the Lord that I should post a photo of food on Facebook or Instagram, because that’s what so many people do that all their friends “like” on social media. I could totally take a picture of my supper, and more people will probably “like” that than any post about His beauty, His love, the joys of hearing His voice and walking as one with Him… I may still do it. Just for fun.
 
But… oh, my … He woke me up with a dream this morning that totally ATE MY SUPPER WHOLE, so to speak!
 
O, Lord, forgive us, please … We are throwing away true treasures and grabbing hold of the fleeting pleasures of this world, the things that make us happy for a moment, as what matters most to us. I am guilty, too, Lord. … Come near to us, even while we’re busy with other things that have distracted us. Call to us. Draw us back. Remind us that You alone are our One Desire. That You alone satisfy. Restore us to intimacy with You. We’ve wandered so far we’ve forgotten what it’s like. Touch us today, so directly, so intimately, so intentionally, that YOU distract us from the world and remind us of what we left behind back there when we pushed You away, … when we shut out the voices of those in our lives who walk close to You, … when we turned out all the lights that exposed our sin, … hiding so we could continue on without distraction…. Forgive us, Lord. We need You.
“They (we have) exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.” Romans 1:25 (NIV)