By Daniel Bramlett
I love Psalm 65, “Praise is due you, O God…Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts “AND Psalm 114…The earth trembles and runs from the presence of the Lord, but we are invited in. This is the mystery of the Gospel. Humanity, the most vulnerable piece of creation, is invited to come wholly into the terrible presence of God.
I would like to take this article to encourage my readers who are parents to be intentional about shepherding your kids into the presence of Jesus. We must decide as parents what God has called us to. If He has called us primarily to be babysitters, then our job is easy. All we do is corral the kids, make sure they aren’t drowning or choking and put them to bed. But if our job is to shepherd the kids the task becomes immeasurably more difficult. Our responsibility is to stand between the threat and our family and offer them safe passage. Are you willing to speak the truth to your family, even when your family will laugh at you or disregard your word? Are you willing to face the storm, even though it wasn’t your choice to go that direction, and courageously speak the truth to them?
The culture that is threatening to swallow our kids today is arrogant, deceitful and bloody. It is no joke. The music they listen to shoots straight for their hearts. I didn’t set out to target kids in my ministry. I don’t relate well to kids. But I see, as their shepherd, that the culture has them by the nose and is leading them to the edge of the cliff all the while filling their minds with poison. I do not believe I am exaggerating one bit with these words. The majority of the organizations that market things for your children (videos, shows, movies, clothing, music, toys…) are doing so with an agenda that you would adamantly disagree with. Do not believe the culture we are pressing against is complimentary to the faith. The clothing our kids are asked to wear is sexually driven. The music that is played in restaurants and public places we visit is constantly encouraging activity we would never allow. The companies producing the videos and movies our kids are watching are mostly not faith oriented. The culture we face is not friendly at all. However, that does not mean we isolate ourselves on a desert island until our kids are grown. I am not advocating raising your kids in a closet! I am suggesting we can face these contrary winds with confidence and courage. I am suggesting good, Godly, faith-driven kids can still be raised and will be raised by us if we look to the Lord. It’s as simple as leaning on the word He has already given us.
To do this we must choose the hard things. I fear many families have not done this. Many times I see families running from the hard things, choosing not to face difficulty but to skirt it. Again and again they choose to move around difficult things and then wonder why their homes are a disaster zone and their kids will never mind. The question arises, “How do we know which hard things to choose?” My response is “What has God said to you and your family?”
We must not let the kids lead our families. It matters very little what the kid wants to do. We have another job when it comes to our kids. It is not to make them the best, brightest, smartest, most popular or most athletic. Our greatest job is to intercede for them. Intercession is not control, but the opposite. Intercession is admitting that our kids are not primarily ours but Gods.
Listen to this, intercession allows us to know the direction our lives are supposed to go. It allows us to live with intentionality. Apart from intercession all of our ministry, our conversations, and our relationships are haphazard. Apart from intercession we’re like a pin ball machine bouncing from here to there—all good stuff—but without any intentionality. We just live from one random thing to the next. It doesn’t have to be that way. We don’t have to wait on our kids to ask about the Lord before we tell them. We don’t have to wait on the family member down the street to ask us to pray for them to actually pray for them. Apart from intercession our lives and ministry are often very confusing to us. “Maybe God wants me over here…maybe not. Maybe I was supposed to do this…or maybe I was supposed to do that?” We don’t have to live that way. When we learn to intercede for the sake of others our steps begin to be ordered by God. Our lives become much more intentional.
Here’s what happens: we see more and more of God’s plan for us and our families. It’s much easier to walk in faithfulness when you know what direction you’re supposed to walk! It’s also very cool to see clear answers to your prayers. This is not mystical or weird. What I’m describing is the norm for the intercessor. Do you want to walk with your eyes wide open in the Kingdom? Do you want to move with confidence in faith? You must get alone with the Lord long enough to hear from Him. Then you must take the invitation He offers you to join Him in His work. It’s as simple as that.