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The Purpose of Christmas [Hardcover]

Rick Warren
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)

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The Reason for the Season
Read an excerpt from Rick Warren's The Purpose of Christmas [PDF].

Book Description

November 4, 2008
Hailed by The Economist as the “the most influential pastor in America,” and by Time as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, the bestselling author of The Purpose Driven Life expounds on the profound origins of Christmas, describing it as an opportune time to welcome peace into our lives.

In his powerful yet compassionate voice, Pastor Rick Warren sounds the clarion call to “remember the reason for the season,” taking readers back in time to the most wonderful story of all—the birth of the baby Jesus. When he was just a small boy, young Rick asked his parents if they could celebrate Christmas with a birthday party for Jesus—and the tradition began that the Warrens have upheld for over fifty years. Now through stirring imagery and compelling personal insights, The Purpose of Christmas honors the significance and promise of this cherished holiday. Pastor Warren encourages readers to identify and confront what drains peace from their lives. Warren explains that the way to respond to these peace robbers is to learn how to surrender to God’s will and not feel defeated or discouraged when life does not go as planned. True peace of mind is found by having an unshakeable faith in God—knowing that His empowering Spirit will guide His children through life’s challenges.

Beautifully written, The Purpose of Christmas will stir readers to honor the true significance of Christmas and to nurture God’s gifts of love and peace in this world.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Rick Warren
was born in San Jose, California, and founded (with one family) Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, in 1980. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from California Baptist University, a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Fuller Theological Seminary. Rick and his wife, Kay, live in Trabuco Canyon, California, and have three children.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Christmas is a party. Specifically, it's a birthday party -- for Jesus -- and birthdays are meant to be celebrated. It's why we say "Merry Christmas!"

Ironically, at most Christmas parties the person whose birthday we're supposed to be celebrating is completely ignored. He's never even mentioned. Although Jesus is the reason for the season, he's often overlooked or merely mentioned along with Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus, the Grinch, elves, and a long list of celebrated fictional characters.

As I was writing this little book, I decided to take a survey of Christmas shoppers. I asked, "What are you celebrating this Christmas?" Most answers had nothing to do with Jesus:

  • "I'm celebrating that I made it through another year."
  • "I'm celebrating being home with my family."
  • "I got a Christmas bonus."
  • "My son is home from Iraq."
  • "The candidate I voted for got elected."
  • "I'm celebrating that I've finished all my shopping."
  • "I'm not celebrating anything. I'm just trying to survive."
  • Preparing for Christmas can be a lot of work, especially for moms. With the pressure of buying gifts, sending greeting cards, decorating our homes, putting up lights, cooking, attending parties, and cleaning up afterward, we have little time to actually enjoy the meaning of Christmas.

    The first purpose of Christmas is celebration! We learn this from the angel's opening statement to the shepherds of Bethlehem. God had wonderful news for us that would cause us all to rejoice, celebrate, and throw a party:

    "I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people."

    Luke 2:10 niv

    The good news of Christmas is worth celebrating for three reasons. It is personal: "I bring YOU." It is positive: "GOOD news of great joy." And it is universal: "for ALL the people." It doesn't matter who you are, what you've done, where you've been, or where you're headed -- this news is for you.

    A national magazine used to carry a feature called "News You Can Use." I always read that section first. The angel brought us news we can use. It's the best news in the world:

    God loves you!

    God is with you!

    God is for you!

    Christmas is a time to celebrate that God loves you!

    The most famous statement in the Bible is Jesus' explanation of why God sent him to earth: "God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life."

    The entire reason for Christmas is the love of God. God loves you so much that he came to earth as a human so you could get to know him and learn to trust him and love him back. Theologians call this the Incarnation. God became one of us, a human being, so we could understand what he is really like.

    God has given us, as human beings, the capacity to know him in ways animals can't. He created us in his image, which includes the ability to enjoy a personal relationship with him. Then he took the initiative to send Jesus so we could understand his love and our need for him.

    Of course, we know a little about God by simply observing his creation. For instance, by looking at nature we know that our Creator loves variety: he created an incredibly diverse universe. Think of the limitless array of plants, animals, rock formations, snowflakes, and people. No two human beings, even twins, are exactly alike. God doesn't make clones or copies. Every one of us is an original. After you were born, God broke the mold.

    By surveying natural phenomena, we also know that God is powerful and organized, and that he loves beauty. We all know that God must enjoy watching us enjoy what he's created. Otherwise, why would he give us so many ways to enjoy it? He gave us taste buds, then filled the world with incredible flavors like chocolate and cinnamon and all the other spices. He gave us eyes to perceive color and then filled the world with a rainbow of shades. He gave us sensitive ears and then filled the world with rhythms and music. Your capacity for enjoyment is evidence of God's love for you. He could have made the world tasteless, colorless, and silent. The Bible says that God "richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment." He didn't have to do it, but he did, because he loves us.

    Still, until Jesus arrived, our understanding of God's love was limited. So God invaded earth! It was the greatest invasion in history, and nothing has been the same since. God could have chosen thousands of ways to communicate with us, but since he designed us, he knew the best way to communicate with us would be face-to-face.

    If God had wanted to communicate to birds, he would have become a bird. If God had wanted to communicate to cows, he would have become a cow. But God wanted to communicate to us, so he became one of us. He didn't send an angel or a prophet or a politician or an ambassador. He came himself. If you really want people to know how much you love them, you can't send a representative to communicate it. You have to say it personally. That's what God did at Christmas.

    The Bible tells us that God is love. It doesn't say God has love, but God is love. Love is the essence of God's character. It is his very nature. The reason that everything in the universe exists is because God wanted to love it. "The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made."

    Think about this. If God didn't want to love something, he would not have created it. Everything you see, and the trillions of things you can't see, was made by God for his enjoyment. He loves it all, even when we mess it up with our sin. He still has a purpose for it. Every star, every planet, every plant, every animal, every cell, and, most of all, every human being was created out of God's compassion.

    You were created as an object of God's love. He made you in order to love you! His love is the reason you're alive and breathing and reading this book. Every time your heart beats and every time you take a breath, God is saying, "I love you." You would not exist if God had not wanted you. Although there are accidental parents, there are no accidental babies. The parents may not have planned them, but God did.

    Did you know that God was thinking of you even before he made the world? In fact, it is why he created it! He designed this planet's environment with just the right characteristics so human beings could live on it. The Bible says, "God decided to give us life through the word of truth so we might be the most important of all the things he made."5 We matter to God more than anything else he has made.

    Because God's love for you is unconditional, he loves you on your bad days as much as on your good days. He loves you when you don't feel his love as much as when you do. He loves you regardless of your performance, your moods, your actions, or your thoughts. His love for you is unchanging. Everything else will change during your lifetime, but God's love for you is constant, steady, and continuous. It's the foundation for unshakable confidence.

    There is nothing you can do that will make God stop loving you. You could try, but you'd fail -- because God's love for you is based on his character, not your conduct. It's based on who he is, not what you've done. The Bible says, "Christ's love is greater than anyone can ever know, but I pray that you will be able to know that love."

    One potential problem of our annual Christmas celebrations is that many people only think of Jesus as a baby! Their conception of him is only as a helpless newborn in his mother's arms. If Jesus had never grown up to do what he did, he'd have no power to transform our lives.

    But the baby born in Bethlehem did not stay a baby. Jesus grew to manhood, modeled for us the kind of life that pleases God, taught us the truth, paid for every sin we commit by dying on a cross, then proved that he was God and could save us by coming back to life. This is the Good News. When the Romans nailed Jesus to a cross, they stretched his arms as wide as they could. With his arms wide open, Jesus was physically demonstrating, "I love you this much! I love you so much it hurts! I'd rather die than live without you!" The next time you see a picture or statue of Jesus with outstretched arms on the cross, remember, he is saying, "I love you this much!"

    The Purpose of Christmas © 2008 Rick Warren --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

    Product Details

    • Hardcover: 132 pages
    • Publisher: Howard Books; 1 edition (November 4, 2008)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 1416559000
    • ISBN-13: 978-1416559009
    • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches
    • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
    • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,640 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

    More About the Author

    Rick Warren is often called "America's most influential spiritual leader." He and his wife, Kay, founded Saddleback Church in Orange County, California, which is now one of the largest and best-known churches in the world. He also wrote the #1 all-time bestselling hardcover book, The Purpose Driven Life.

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    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    44 of 51 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars What a blessing and encouragement at a much needed time November 7, 2008
    Christian's firmly believe that they KNOW the purpose of Christmas, that they believe they celebrate the birth of Jesus and that they are just "fine". In this personal letter to all readers, Pastor Rick Warren reminded me that although I know the purpose of Christmas and I believe that I celebrate it, I have/had truly forgotten the childlike wonder and was not rejoicing in the celebration of the greatest mircle of all. My heart has been blessed by the message that this book carries. I hope to celebrate Christmas differently this year with a better attitude and an improved outlook, despite the impending gloom of our economy and position as a country.

    Thank you Pastor Rick for the opportunity to share this message with my children. We will be reading this book at bedtime together and each night celebrating The Purpose of Christmas.
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    15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
    My purchase of this book was intended for my wife, but thankfully I read it prior to gifting it. We'll reread it, together. It's a perfect Christmas book. It is, by title, a Christmas book, but it offers so much more. It's more about finding the Gift that Christmas is and living it year-round.

    From the author, Rick Warren, of "The Purpose Driven Life", this book is something of a "Reader's Digest" version of that book. It is a doable, one to two hour read that touches faith, grace, and life.

    This Christmas, my wife faces losing her mother very soon. My own mother died one week prior to Christmas just 3 years ago. If it isn't death that is this moment's issue in your life; if it's a lost relationship, if it is hardship, or maybe illness--this book will help put it all in focus. This book can give you the true Christmas meaning, and it doesn't even have to be December.

    Rick Warren gifts readers another fine book of hope by presenting God's hope and love. Gift idea: If you missed Christmas, give it for Valentine's, or St. Patrick's, Flag Day, or just someone's BIRTHDAY. After all, the book explains, Christmas is all about His BIRTHDAY.
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    21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars A Friend changed my life when he gave me this book November 21, 2008
    By Ddrgtrf
    Like most people, I've "done" Christmas every year since I was a baby, but honestly, I had never really thought about it much personally. Of course I knew it was the birth of Jesus, but didn't figure that had any relevance to me. It was just an historical event. Then, a week ago, a good friend of mine gave me a copy of this book. It was short, so I thought I'd read it. WOW.... I mean seriously... I had no idea! How did I miss this all these years? Warren explains why Christmas is such a "big deal" around the world, but more important is how he clearly lays out the implications and benefits to your personal life. I did what he said and I will never be the same person anymore. I'm free! I still don't know enough to explain it so I just ordered 9 copies to give to my friends.
    This will be the best Christmas because now I get it. JONATHAN FARADAY (Robert is my brother)
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    13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Book from Rick November 27, 2008
    Thanks for reminding me of the meaning of Christmas!! In today's world we have gotten so caught up in the 'work' involved with celebrating Christmas - decorating the house, shopping, cooking, attending parties, etc that we forget the real meaning of Christmas.

    I have been looking for something different and yet meaningful to give to friends and family this year for Christmas and I think this is just the right gift. With the state of the economy and things going on in the world around us I think that it's a great time to be reminded of the meaning of Christmas and at the same time give the gift of eternal life.

    Thanks for writing a simple book that brings people back to God and those that have never known Him a book that they can relate to and begin a walk with Christ.
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    3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I was expecting.... January 2, 2011
    This book is very well written and is an excellent resource for a non-believer or a new christian. However, for the rest of us, it's basic basic basic stuff... If you've ever attended a Bible Doctrine course or studied the bible at any sort of level, this book is not for you. I expected HELP with overcoming my DREAD of holidays -- the marketing, materialism, etc. This book is not that. It's essentially a 100+ page 'alter call' with basic new Christian 101 information. I donated my copy to a church library.
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    11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars the Purpose November 22, 2008
    The Purpose is a small book, just a bit over 125 pages, so there is really not an exploration in depth of Christian ideas or ideals. Sometimes it seems as if Rick Warren is skimming over many - almost free associating - jumping from unhappiness to addictive habits to fear of death. With that said this little book can give an education on basic Christian ideas.
    If you are looking for the ordinary Christmas book... the sweet little stories that invoke the `Christmas spirit', this isn't what you are looking for; instead it is what many times we seem to need... a good reminder of what is the pure first true purpose of Christmas.
    As holidays approach , especially Christmas, many people get depressed. Rick Warren says "you don't need any human approval to be happy" instead you should be focusing on God's love and this will lead to a better identity and feeling. There are many reassuring montages of Christian ideas and beliefs..." you can have a lot to live on and still have nothing to live for." this is what the book is striving to present
    Probably the best point that is made is the astounding fact that many are celebrating Christmas without the true purpose of Christmas... so if this is what your goal is - then this might be book you want to look into.
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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    Good book.
    Published 14 hours ago by 49ergal777
    5.0 out of 5 stars Great writing by excellent insightful author Rick Warren
    Great writing by excellent insightful author Rick Warren. Easy quick reading, ideal for Bible study groups, and plan to read the book
    every Christmas.
    Published 1 month ago by Harry L. Swain
    5.0 out of 5 stars A true meaning of Christmas
    This book was so good that I ordered a set for my daughter who is a minister. The reading let me know even moreso what a wonderful blessing God bestowed upon us. Read more
    Published 5 months ago by Bobby A. Dyson
    5.0 out of 5 stars The Purpose is quite simple
    Wonderful book! Great for seekers and a Rick Warren reminds us of the love of Christ in a simple read & reminder! As it should be!
    Published 7 months ago by Kelly Riffle
    3.0 out of 5 stars it made you think
    It was a good self searching book. You need to read those every now & then.
    I tend to read the same authors so it was a nice break.
    Published 8 months ago by sasha
    3.0 out of 5 stars Why we celebrate Christmas
    This book would make a good gift for someone searching for a deeper meaning of Christmas. I first heard about it in my Sunday School class.
    Published 8 months ago by Gloria Glenn
    5.0 out of 5 stars A great gift for anyone.
    One of the best presetations of the Gospel. Excellent presentation. Clear concise message. Good to give as a gift, especially at Christmas.
    Published 8 months ago by Douglas J Karius
    5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
    I love this book I have order it sever time so I could give it as a gift. A must read.
    Published 8 months ago by Bil Milligan
    5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing inspiration
    As always Rick has written an amazing book. If you haven't taken the LORD as your saviour you will after reading after reading this book. Read more
    Published 8 months ago by Darlene A.
    5.0 out of 5 stars REviewof THE PURPOSE OF CHRISTMAS
    A wonderful read. Makes one think of all the incorrect emphasis put on Christmas and reminds us of the real meaning of Christmas. Read more
    Published 8 months ago by rvmama
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    Topic From this Discussion
    The original purpose of Christmas
    Yes, this is true. Here are some excerpts from Encyclopedia Britannica regarding Christmas: "The precise origin of assigning December 25 as the birth date of Jesus is unclear. The New Testament provides no clues in this regard. December 25 was first identified as the date of Jesus' birth by... Read More
    Nov 10, 2009 by Sword Spirit |  See all 2 posts
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