Author archives: Peter Witkowski

5 Great Resources That Help Kids Keep Christ in Christmas

by Peter Witkowski

December 11, 2017

The Biggest Story by Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung covers the entire Bible in ten amazingly succinct and beautifully illustrated chapters. DeYoung created the book to be the one resource you use to tell your family about how Christ came to us as a baby to bring us back to Eden by dying on the cross. I encourage you to read this book with your young children during the days leading up to Christmas. You could also cuddle up by the fire and read the entire volume in one sitting with kids of all ages. All members of your family will enjoy reading The Biggest Story. And if you want to watch the story, you can buy the animated video of the book.

A Family Christmas Treasury by Adrian Rogers

Adrian Rogers desires for everyone to experience the joy of Christmas found through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He begins each devotion with reflections on a Bible verse and ends each devotion with a family activity such as writing a Christmas card to someone you love or creating a jar to collect money for church. Each devotion is designed to engage both you and your children. If you are looking for a Christmas devotion for you family, I encourage you to try A Family Christmas Treasury.

The Expected One by Scott James

Scott James wrote this great little book specifically with your kids in mind. Each devotion contains a Scripture passage, a small explanation of the verse(s) and 2-3 questions (with answers) to prompt some family discussion. The chapter also features a small question to help you apply the passage to your life. This book begins on December 1st and ends on December 25th so it does not follow the traditional Advent calendar and does not come with song suggestions. But if you are a touch creative and have young children with short attention spans, I think you will really like The Expected One.

Prepare Him Room by Marty Machowski

Marty Machowski shows your kids the beauty of the Christmas story by having you light candles, look at nativity scenes, and reflect on Scripture. He built each week’s devotion around key passages from the Christmas story. He placed a chapter from his original Christmas story about the orphan Bartimaeus at the end of each Advent week. In addition to being biblical and easy to understand, the devotions are also infused with object lessons, Christmas carols, and crafts. Marty Machowski has helpfully planned out your entire family’s Christmas devotional calendar. Moreover, you can download the music mentioned in the book here. And you can buy a teacher’s guide here if you want to bring this study into your Sunday school class room. If your family likes Christmas traditions, grab a copy of Prepare Him Room.

All Is Bright by Nancy Guthrie

Nancy Guthrie created a devotional that your kids can do. Each day features a one page devotion and a coloring page that accents the lesson. If you have a child who loves to color and who wants to explore the Christmas season on their own, you will want to grab a copy of All Is Bright.

Peter Witkowski is the Associate Pastor of Preschool and Children at First Baptist Church in Eastman, Ga.

5 Great Resources that Help Keep Christ in Christmas

by Peter Witkowski

December 8, 2017

The Christmas season can be a stressful time filled with a barrage of parties, shopping trips, and community events. Christmas is often crazy busy for families, but it can and should also be a time of great refreshment.

Is there better news than Christ has come to save us from our sins?

If we hope to focus on spending quality time with our families and reflecting on the gospel this Christmas, we must first focus our hearts on the beauty of Christ. We must first bolster our walk with the Lord and then bolster our family worship times. In Deuteronomy 6:1, parents are told to keep God’s word in their hearts. To teach our kids about God, we must be learning about God and growing in our faith.

Finding good devotional resources for Christmas can be taxing. Below are five great options. While not an exhaustive list, I hope my reviews will get you started in the right direction.

If you have a favorite Christmas devotion, I encourage you to mention it in the comment section below.

Come Let Us Adore Him by Paul David Tripp

Paul David Tripp masterfully interacts with the Christmas story, providing his readers with a wealth of practical applications. His book seeks to help keep us from losing sight of Jesus during the holiday season. Derived from a series of Christmas tweets, each devotional includes a scripture reference and ends with a parent’s section that will help mom and dad bring the devotional into family worship times. If you are seeking to warm your heart and your family’s heart towards the gospel, I encourage you to grab a copy of Come Let Us Adore Him.

From Heaven by A.W. Tozer

A.W. Tozer’s book reflects on his love for the Lord and for poetic expression. The author masterfully paints pictures and shares illustrations that help readers understand that the Scriptures associated with Christmas are plum with meaning. The devotions which have been compiled from Tozer’s sermons and editorials cover all 28 days of the Advent season. I encourage you to read From Heaven this Christmas.

Hidden Christmas by Timothy Keller

Timothy Keller beautifully reveals how the Christmas story pierces our dark and broken world with the light of the gospel. Though not designed as a devotional, the 145-page book will help you grasp the major themes of the Christmas story and will fit nicely into your devotional life with heartwarming reflections on the gospel. If you want to refocus your heart this Christmas or desire to be a better witness during the Christmas season, I encourage you to read Hidden Christmas.

The Dawning of Indestructible Joy by John Piper

John Piper helps his readers grasp the important themes of the Christmas story by focusing on the secondary or theological texts of Christmas found in Acts, Hebrews, and the Pauline Epistles. It is a great resource, highlighting the beauty of our savior in short, two to three-page devotions. My wife and I have found Piper’s works encouraging and thought provoking. You will greatly benefit from reading The Dawning of Indestructible Joy.

God is in the Manger by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoffer’s words point the readers’ hearts to the true meaning of Christmas. Featuring the martyr’s sermons, poems, and personal letters, the book challenges readers to grapple with the Christmas story for the purpose of knowing God more. Arranged according to the traditional church calendar, the first four weeks are devoted to the themes of waiting, mystery, redemption, and incarnation. The final section features devotions for the twelve days of Christmas. If you are looking for a new and thought-provoking devotion, I encourage you to grab a copy of God is in the Manger.

Peter Witkowski is the Associate Pastor of Preschool and Children at First Baptist Church in Eastman, Ga.

Should Stay-At-Home Moms Be Forced To Work?

by Peter Witkowski

March 30, 2017

Recently, feminist author Sarrah Le Marquand made headlines when she reinvigorated a debate over motherhood. She went beyond the traditional fight for paid maternity leave, demanding that her Australian government outlaw stay-at-home mothers of school-aged children.

She writes, “Rather than wail about the supposed liberation in a woman’s right to choose to shun employment, we should make it a legal requirement that all parents of children school-age or older are gainfully employed.” She goes on to say “only when we evenly divide responsibility for workplace participation between the two genders will we see a more equitable division between men and women in all parts of Australian life.”

In an attempt to control how men and women function in society, Le Marquand wants to establish new regulations that will ensure equality. She has good reasons to be concerned. According to Pew Research Center, more women than men want to stay home with their children. And more men than women feel compelled to work to provide for their families. Only 31 percent of women who live comfortably view working full time as their ideal. And only 23 percent of married women view working full time as ideal. When given a choice, most women prefer to stay home.

This reality creates a problem for Le Marquand and other feminists like Simone de Beauvoir, who once said: “No woman should be authorized to stay home to raise her children. Women should not have that choice, because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one.” Both have concluded that women lack the intelligence to choose wisely. Thus, that choice must be removed.

Le Marquand argues that requiring mothers to work makes economic sense, but such thinking is woefully shortsighted. Economic value cannot be measured via the size of one’s paycheck. For example, a student who is in medical school makes very little money. Even so, the person’s earning potential will grow exponentially once he or she is out of school. Lack of gainful employment does not necessarily imply that a person is not contributing to a nation’s economic well-being.

Quite frankly, raising the next generation by ensuring that children are equipped to contribute to society and to the workforce allows the mother to do more for her nation’s well-being than her spouse does. By running her home well, she empowers both her kids and her spouse to engage society in a more meaningful manner and to work more effectively. To miss this fact is to doom your economy. The demographic disasters that are currently brewing in Japan, China, and all across Europe illustrate this point well. Maximizing a workforce solely for today at the expense of investing in future generations always has disastrous consequences.

Moreover, the equality of function that Le Marquand demands does not exist. Yes, both men and women are fully equal (Gen 1:27). Both are created in the image of God. But equality of value does not equal equality of function. Men and women function differently because they were designed differently. Women are naturally more nurturing than men; this is reflected in the fact that women’s bodies nurture their unborn children for nine months and feed their newborns for many months after birth. In addition, differences in the brain structure of men and women have shown that women have “more wiring in regions linked to memory and social cognition.” This is part of the reason why many women tend to be better at understanding the feelings of their children, and are thus more equipped to nurture them. Even those who wish to argue against the presence of these differences cannot ultimately escape them. As psychologist Emma M. Seppala concluded, “While women’s expression involved nurturing and bonding, men’s compassion was expressed through protecting and ensuring survival.” Women tend to be better equipped biologically and sociologically than men to care for their children.

As Pew Research Center discovered, most mothers will prefer being a stay-at-home mom over being a bread winner. This ability to care for the next generation does not preclude mothers from contributing directly to their nation’s economy if they so choose. But when women make the choice to focus primarily on raising the next generation, they are expressing their special and unique feminine capacity for nurturing their children. This is not a bad thing that must be legislated against. It is a natural function of femininity that should be embraced—not just for the benefit of children, but for all of society.

Peter Witkowski is the Associate Pastor of Preschool and Children at First Baptist Church in Eastman, Ga.

The Amish: America’s Fastest Growing Church?

by Peter Witkowski

March 17, 2017

When we think of happening Christian groups, we typically imagine big church conferences, exciting worship concerts, and authentic community groups meeting in local coffee shops. Given this mindset, the following information will probably blow your mind and the minds of most people in your church. In fact, you may need to sit down for this.

The fastest growing sector of the evangelical world right now is the Amish. That is correct—our beard sporting, bonnet wearing, and buggy driving brothers and sisters are expanding at a record pace. Over the past five years, the Amish have grown by 18 percent. Between 2015-2016, they started 66 new congregations. They have even reached out to South America, planting communities in both Bolivia and Argentina. During that same time, the number of people that attend Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) churches declined by 11 percent.

Despite our well-trained SBC clergy, our smooth programming, and our billion dollar budgets, SBC churches are losing out to their brothers and sisters who churn their own butter. What’s more, the Amish have no major outreach campaigns. They typically struggle to reach out to people outside their villages, making their growth even more perplexing to SBC and other evangelical denominations. Yet since 1992, the Amish have been beating our church growth percentages left and right.

When researchers began studying this phenomenon, they discovered that the growth of the Amish movement had little to do with cold calling evangelism and everything to do with birthrate and education.

The latest birthrate statistics for the SBC estimate that each SBC couple has around 2.1 kids, a number that sits below the replacement level. Once death and other things are factored in, SBC churches would slowly die even if every kid born to SBC parents stayed in the church. And unfortunately, they do not. Almost 51 percent of all evangelical kids (including our SBC’ers) will leave the church. Most of those children will not return. For a church to maintain its size, every member (including the single ones) in the church must bring about 1.2 people into the church via birth or evangelism.

The Amish do not have this problem. The average Amish couple has 6.8 kids per family. And 85 percent of their children will choose to remain in the Amish community. When given the chance to freely choose between the modern world and the Amish lifestyle, more than 8 out of 10 Amish children choose to stay. Every Amish couple will add about 5 kids to their local church’s congregation, while the average Baptist couple will add about 1. And when the couples die off, the Amish church will have grown by 150 percent, while the SBC church will have decreased by 50 percent if birthrate is the only factor.

These numbers show that evangelism is not the major failing of our local SBC and evangelical churches. Our problem has everything to do with our view of children and the family. Churches that do not have members having children will not succeed.

Now, every Christian does not have to embrace the “19 Kids and Counting” lifestyle. Christ is still our ultimate goal and not family size. But, we must begin to revive pro-family values in our churches. Being pro-family goes well past having a catchy kids’ program. We need to celebrate birth. We need to praise parents for having big families instead of chastising them with snide comments. We need to come to the point where we value kids more than traveling, nice homes, and our own tranquility. We need to live as if children are a blessing.

And then, we need to commit to training our kids. We need to organize our families around the Gospel. We need to have intentional times of family worship. We must realize that going to church twice a week or twice a month will not provide our kids with an adequate religious framework. We must realize that the world evangelizes our kids 7 days a week. We must do the same. And we must intentionally find ways to protect our kids from the dangerous doctrines of the world and find ways to train them in righteousness. Commenting on Psalm 1, the pastor Voddie Bauchman says,

We must not allow our children to stand, sit and walk with those who deny biblical truth and morality … We can no longer coast along and ignore biblical truth when deciding where and how to educate our children … Do everything in your power to place your child in an educational environment that supplements and facilitates their discipleship.

The Amish have understood this truth and have applied it. As a result of their faithfulness, most of their children remain in their communities and churches. The Baptists and other evangelicals have not grasped this principles. And now, we are losing over half of our kids to the world around us. The realities cannot be denied.

Now admittedly, the Amish have not gotten everything right. I do not think electricity leads to sin. I also think our churches should be more evangelistic than the typical Amish farmer. But the Amish have realized that family is key. They have functionally realized that children under the age of 18 are the population most open to being evangelized and have literally devoted a large portion of their life to reaching this next generation. If we want our SBC and evangelical Bible-believing churches to once again flourish, we too must be pro-family and do a better job of training our children in the faith. Are we willing to make the hard choices and to become a little more Amish?

Peter Witkowski is the Associate Pastor of Preschool and Children at First Baptist Church in Eastman, Ga.

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