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Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.”  Matthew 13:3-4 (NIV)

As we discussed in last week’s blog, Jesus reveals the secrets of the kingdom to us through His parables.  The Parable of the Sower is a great picture of how we are to disciple our children, so they will flourish as believers and make an impact for God’s kingdom.  Today we are going to look at the first obstacle to growth in The Parable of the Sower. 

Both Matthew and Luke give an account of this  parable as told by Jesus, and we can gain insights from both versions.  In Luke’s version we read,   “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up.” 

Explaining His parable, Jesus says in Luke 8:11 that the “seed” refers to God’s Word.  With this in mind, we are looking at how God uses His Word to grow faith in our children’s hearts and minds to bring about salvation, a relationship with Him, and a fruitful life for His kingdom.  

We know that the enemy does not want God’s Word to have this impact in our children’s lives, so we need to watch out for his schemes to prevent this from happening.  First of all we read in the Luke version that some seeds were trampled on.  Then we learn that the birds ate the seeds, so they had no time to grow. 

Do we run the risk that the seeds of God’s Word and His truths we are sowing in our children will be trampled on and eaten by birds? 

Yes, I think we can all agree that is a major risk for our children in today’s culture when we see statistics showing 70% of students leave their faith in college.   (Lifeway Research Study, 2007)  

Let’s look more closely at who or what the enemy may use to trample on the seeds we sow and eat them, so they do not bear fruit in our children’s lives.

The first ‘bird’ I see the enemy using to influence our children against God’s Word is the media, including shows, movies, music, and social media.  

Not all media is bad, but I do believe that media can be very deceptive, making what is ungodly look enticing and good and what is good by God’s standards actually look cheesy or bad.  Think, for example, of sexual morality.  How many love stories make it look good to be intimate with the one you love before marriage?  No wonder “a majority of Christians (57%) say sex between unmarried adults in a committed relationship is sometimes or always acceptable” according to a 2020 study by Pew Research Center.   

Other examples of the culture’s negative influence are messages such as  ‘follow your heart,’ ‘do what makes you happy,’ and ‘be whoever you want to be.’ Each of these messages are prevalent in many modes of media and entertainment.

We need to be aware of these types of messages and minimize what we let our kids see, but also use them as teaching opportunities when they arise, even subtly in television shows and movies.  This way our children can learn to discern the messages that contradict God’s Word and lead them away from the heart of Jesus.  

We can also replace media that contains a bad message with media that has a good message.  Getting our kids interested in Christian God-honoring music and movies will lead them closer to God and His Word. 

The next seed-eating bird I see in our culture today is negative peer influence. 

Because many peers are being deceived by the media and the culture at large, they can easily become a negative influence on our children.  So, how do we prevent this from happening?  Getting to know our kids’ friends is an important first step.  Have them over to your house before you decide if your kids can go to their house, and get to know their parents too.  This will help you determine whether they are the kind of friends you want for your child to spend time with outside of structured activities.  Often the families that are searching for like-minded friends are the ones that will want to get to know you too.

When you observe your kids’ peers saying or doing things that are contrary to God’s Word, privately point these observations out to your kids or ask your kids what they noticed in order to see if they picked up on the negative traits as well.  

Likewise, when you see positive traits in peers, point those out and talk about what makes someone a good friend.  Then teach your kids to choose the kind of friends God would choose for them; friends who hold similar values.  These are the kind of friends they can spend time with outside of school and other activities.  You can teach your kids to be kind and a good friend to kids who don’t hold the same values.  The difference is they are not spending time with them outside of structured activities or talking on the phone and social media.  As a result, they will be less likely to be negatively impacted by their opposing values.

The third seed-eating bird I see as a potential harm is the agenda among educators to teach moral relativism, especially after high school.  

This can also include other beliefs and ideologies that turn young people away from their faith in Jesus.  I have heard too many stories about kids who left home for college and were persuaded by their professors into ways of thinking that are contrary to God’s Word.  

Here are some ways to combat this negative influence the enemy uses to destroy our kids’ faith.  

Help your children become aware of this potential danger before choosing colleges.  Watch the movie, God’s Not Dead, with your kids (best for middle school and older) for an extreme example of what this can look like.  Then help them choose a college that has a reputation of being faith-based or at least conservative in their values.  Visit the colleges and ask questions, so you get a good feel as to what is being taught at the school and what values the school represents.  

Another important way to combat this type of “bird” is to be familiar with basic apologetics, (understanding what others believe and why we believe what we do) so you help your children feel comfortable defending their faith when the opportunity arises.  Another great resource as your kids get into middle school and highschool is Natasha Crain’s Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side. This book helps us as a parent discuss the difficult questions your kids may face in college, such as “Does the Bible have errors and contradictions?” and “Do all religions point to the same truth?”  Mama Bear Apologetics is another great read to equip you as Mama to answer your kids’ tough questions and help your kids learn to discern Biblical principles from unbiblical ones.  Discussing these questions will help prepare them for what questions may arise when they leave home and help them to be confident when defending their faith.

Sadly, there are many ways that Satan can use  “birds” to eat the seeds of God’s Word that we instill in our children, as The Parable of the Sower warns.  Through media and entertainment, peers, and educators, many of the next generation are falling away from the Word planted in them.

We need to make our children aware of the seed-eating birds Satan uses to try and bring doubt and lies so that they can stand firm in God’s Word, holding onto the truth no matter what deception comes their way.