Excerpt taken from The Christ of Christmas by James M. Boice


Here is a short excerpt taken from pages 81-83 of The Christ of Christmas by James Montgomery Boice.


The King in a Manger

Every person has a birthday, and most birthdays are remembered at least by the person himself and usually by his immediate family. But no birthday has ever been remembered so widely as the birthday of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We know that there is no real evidence that He was born on December 25. In fact, the one small bit of evidence we do have goes against that date. We are told that an announcement of His birth was made to shepherds when they were in the fields with their sheep, and that is normally true only during the spring and summer months, between late March and September. Actually, we observe the birth of Jesus on the day we do because this date was established by consensus during the first Christian centuries and has been preserved by tradition. But that is relatively unimportant. The important thing is that Jesus was born, and the interesting fact is that so many remember His birth.

Why is this? It is true that many remember the birth of Christ because they are Christians and therefore love and cherish Him. But millions of others are not Christians and yet also celebrate Christmas. Why has the birth of this one man so seized upon the minds and imaginations of men and women?

Christmas Paradoxes

Answers to that question are found in the paradoxes of the Christmas story, one of which we want to look at in detail.

One obvious paradox is of purity in the account of the birth of a child to an unwed mother. The birth of a child to a girl who is not married is not surprising or even remarkable, though it is tragic. It is a story known to any preacher—the girl, quite often deeply distressed; the parents, frantic with grief and indecision. But the tone of distress and grief we know is not the tone of this story. Rather, there is purity: the purity of Mary who, we are told, was troubled by the angel’s announcement and asked in innocence, “How will this be . . . since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34); and the purity of Joseph, who was not the father but who believed the announcement of the angel and so shielded Mary by marrying her, though he did not have intercourse with her until after Jesus was born.

A second paradox follows that one. It is also a story of joy in what would normally be a tragedy. Under normal circumstances Mary would have been in danger of vicious public exposure and even death, for stoning was the penalty prescribed for fornication in Israel. She would have been distraught and in anguish. Yet when Mary came to her cousin Elizabeth, to whom she had gone to share her unbelievable news, Elizabeth at once broke forth in praise to God and in ascriptions of blessings on Mary, and Mary responded with that great hymn of praise known as the Magnificat.

There are other contrasts in this story. There is the announcement of the birth of the baby to shepherds, those from the lowest levels of ancient Jewish society, by angels who are certainly figures of great stature and glory. There is the neglect of Jesus by His own people, while Gentile wise men came to worship Him. Even the baby is a paradox. For unlike other babies, who are born to live, this child was born to die.

And yet, in this great story so filled with paradoxes, there is one paradox that stands out above the rest, and perhaps more than any other commends the account to many people. It is that the one born in such lowly surroundings—in a stable, of poor parents, laid in an animal’s manger—was nevertheless the God of glory, whose splendor before the incarnation surpassed that even of those heavenly beings who announced His birth to the shepherds. Here is a baby. But He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is God in a stable. He is the supreme potentate of the universe among His own lowly cattle.

That is the paradox of the incarnation: Immanuel!


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Daily Excerpt taken from Addictive Habits: Changing for Good

DAY 1

Shame, Identity, and Change

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Cor. 5:17)

What defines you most? Is it your job, your fears, the opinions of others, or, worst of all, your addiction? Does your addiction shape your identity more than anything else? Addictions never stay at the level of behavior. Instead, they strike at our sense of self. The deeper we go into an addiction, the more we may feel that we become it.

Paul Tripp explains: “The longer we struggle with a problem, the more likely we are to define ourselves by that problem (divorced, addicted, depressed, co-dependent, ADD). We come to believe that our problem is who we are. But while these labels may describe particular ways we struggle as sinners in a fallen world, they are not our identity! If we allow them to define us, we will live trapped within their boundaries.”*1 Addictions say, “This is who you are, and you’ll never change.”

Addictions impact our identity in two ways. First, an addiction requires us to give up significant parts of our life. We abandon dreams, jobs, family ties, moral convictions, and more. The deeper an addiction goes, the greater the sacrifices become. As a result, significant parts of self are lost in pursuit of addictive habits. Second, the deeper into an addiction we go, the less willing we are to be vulnerable and open to others. We fear exposure. Identity is formulated in relationship with others, but the addict misses this key element.

Your addiction defines you. Who you are becomes synonymous with what you do. One evidence of this is the shame you begin to feel, which signals that you have formed your identity around your addiction. You feel shame because you hate yourself. The deeper your experience of shame, the more hopeless you tend to feel about the possibility of change. The result is that you are less willing to fight your addiction.

But there is hope through Christ. Yes, you are a sinner; but in the gospel you are forgiven. In Christ, your identity has been re-formed, so that now you are not a sinner, not an addict, not an alcoholic. First and foremost, you are a Christian. Shame is dismantled in Christ, because he gives a new identity. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” You no longer are what you once were. “The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Shame says, “I am my addiction.” Your emotions tempt you to believe that lie. Christ takes that identity from you and gives you a new one. Your identity is grounded in his victorious work, not in your failure. It is grounded in his triumph over sin, not in your struggle with sin. In him, you may still struggle, but there is hope of freedom because you are not defined by your struggle. You are defined by your relationship to him!


*1 Paul David Tripp, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2002), 260.


Excerpt taken from Addictive Habits: Changing for Good by David R. Dunham

 

5 New Releases Today!


WE HAVE 5 NEW RELEASES TODAY!


1. 2 Samuel by Richard D. Phillips 

$39.99 | 504 pages | SAMPLE CHAPTER | Reformed Expository Commentary

With pastoral care, Richard Phillips charts the trajectory of David’s rise, fall, and restoration, noting vital lessons for today’s believer and showing that David’s hope, and ours, is Jesus Christ.

“Second Samuel contains enough political intrigue and scandal to fill a tabloid. Yet behind the machinations of kings stands the King who is preparing a kingdom for his Son. Rick Phillips unveils that kingdom with clear teaching and pointed application. Here is a sermonic commentary designed not only to educate, but to edify. It admirably succeeds in both.” —Joel R. Beeke

“In his kind providence, our Lord has provided a significant resource, once again, through a commentary from Rick Phillips. As in his other works, this commentary reads devotionally, yet challenges the mind to think deeply in the Word of God about the God of the Word. Amazingly, I can commend this to any believer for devotional reading, to the preacher for sermon development, and to the serious Bible student who longs to embrace the depth and height of God’s grace revealed in his Word.” —Harry L. Reeder III


2. A Graded Reader of Biblical Hebrew: Mastering Different Literary Styles from Simple to Advanced by William Fullilove 

$29.99 | 120 pages | SAMPLE CHAPTER

Students who complete a basic grammar of biblical Hebrew must next practice their hard-won skill by interacting with full texts. In this comprehensive graded reader, Professor William Fullilove provides helpful notes and questions to walk you through full texts in a variety of genres: from narrative and law to psalms and wisdom literature. His graded approach, starting with simpler texts and progressing to higher complexity, gives you the confidence you need to progress in your understanding of biblical Hebrew.

“Dr. Bill Fullilove is a master teacher of the Hebrew language. This Graded Reader, carefully arranged and annotated, will equip students to do what they really want to do: read and use Hebrew with skill and faithfulness.” —James L. (Jay) Harvey III

“Addresses a real gap in language learning. . . . [Fulillove] places students at the center yet again, providing even more resources to help them in the ultimate goal of their study: learning to read Hebrew now and in the future. This resource will provide students with the much-needed encouragement to persist with their Hebrew and to consolidate their early learning.” —C. A. Strine


Great Thinkers Series:

“When I was beginning my studies of theology and philosophy during the 1950s and ’60s, I profited enormously from P&R’s Modern Thinkers Series. Here were relatively short books on important philosophers and theologians such as Nietzsche, Dewey, Van Til, Barth, and Bultmann, by scholars of Reformed conviction such as Clark, Van Riessen, Ridderbos, Polman, and Zuidema. These books did not merely summarize the work of these thinkers; they were serious critical interactions. Today, P&R is resuming and updating the series, now called Great Thinkers. The new books, on people such as Aquinas, Hume, Nietzsche, Derrida, and Foucault, are written by scholars who are experts on these writers. As before, these books are short . . . They set forth accurately the views of the thinkers under consideration, and they enter into constructive dialogue, governed by biblical and Reformed convictions. I look forward to the release of all the books being planned and to the good influence  they will have on the next generation of philosophers and theologians.”

John M. Frame

 

3. Michel Foucault by Christopher Watkin 

$14.99 | 216 pages | SAMPLE CHAPTERGreat Thinkers Series

Watkin assesses one of the most significant thinkers of our time—influencing disciplines as diverse as history, literature, philosophy, art, feminism, gender studies, and science—against the light of Scripture.

“If you’re not familiar with Michel Foucault, you should be. He is one of the most influential figures, if not the most influential figure, in contemporary Western culture. In this volume, Chris Watkin has accomplished what very few have even attempted. He walks us through the development of Foucault’s points of view with expert care and clarity. He also compares and contrasts these outlooks with the teachings of the New Testament in ways that challenge followers of Christ to look afresh at some of their most basic commitments. . . . I’ve been waiting for a volume like this for decades. It is essential for Christian scholars in every discipline.” —Richard L. Pratt Jr.


4. G. W. F. Hegel by Shao Kai Tseng 

$14.99 | 184 pages | SAMPLE CHAPTERGreat Thinkers Series

To do theology in the twenty-first century, we must understand Hegel. In this accessible introduction, Tseng examines the philosopher’s significant influence on European thought in general and Protestant theology in particular.

“William James amusingly noted that one side effect of nitrous oxide inhalation is increased understanding of Hegel’s philosophy. As fun as that sounds, I have a better suggestion: read this splendid book by Alex Tseng before diving into the German idealist’s profoundly difficult writings. I learned many new and useful things from Tseng’s well-informed exposition and analysis. Reformed readers will especially appreciate the discussion of how Bavinck, Vos, and Van Til . . . [exposed] the flawed foundations of his system while co-opting his common-grace insights to demonstrate the virtues of a Reformed Christian worldview.” —James N. Anderson


5. Richard Dawkins by Ransom Poythress 

$14.99 | 192 pages | SAMPLE CHAPTERGreat Thinkers Series

Dawkins has popularized the gene-centered approach to evolution yet is better known for his rejection of a supernatural creator. Poythress presents and critiques Dawkins’ ideas with a Reformed theological apologetic.

“The New Atheism is now an established feature of the intellectual landscape of our age. Richard Dawkins was one of the chief architects and intellectuals of the New Atheists. Ransom Poythress has written an accessible introduction to Dawkins’s life and thought and a compelling refutation of his arguments against Christianity. This is an enormously helpful resource.” —R. Albert Mohler Jr.


 

 

Cyber Monday Sale!


Check out the full list of titles that are on still on sale through today, by clicking HERE.

 


Only $2.00!

Jesus Is Most Special by Sally Michael — $2.00

Sally Michael helps parents to share the story of the birth of Jesus with their children and goes a step further by placing the Christmas story in the larger context of the Bible—what comes before and after. She motivates even the youngest children to teach this all-important story to others after they have learned it for themselves.

Through its large, full-color illustrated pages and its suggestions for accompanying songs and visuals, this book will help children to learn by heart the most special story ever told.

What My Golden Retriever Taught Me about God by Rhonda McRae — $2.00

Does God care about his creatures? Does he care about you? Sadie, a golden retriever, gives us a hint in this beautiful story of dog and master.


$5.00—$7.50

Big Beliefs! Small Devotionals Introducing Your Family to Big Truths edited by David R. Helm — $7.50

The Christ of Christmas by James Montgomery Boice — $6.00

For the Love of Discipline: When the Gospel Meets Tantrums and Time-Outs by Sara Wallace — $7.50

Forty Days on the Mountain: Meditations on Knowing God by Stephen Smallman — $5.00

Heart Aflame: Daily Readings from Calvin in the Psalms by John Calvin — $7.50

The Heart of a Servant Leader: Letters from Jack Miller by C. John Miller — $7.50

The Intimate Marriage: A Practical Guide to Building a Great Marriage (Hardcover) by R.C. Sproul — $7.50

Loving Your Friend through Cancer: Moving beyond “I’m Sorry” to Meaningful Support by Marissa Henley — $7.50

Prayer PathWay: Journeying in a Life of Prayer by Kathi Lambrides Westlund — $5.00

The Story: The Bible’s Grand Narrative of Redemption by Jon Nielson — $7.50

Streams of Mercy: Prayers of Confession and Celebration by Barbara R. Duguid edited by Iain M. Duguid — $7.50


$10.00 – $15.00

Come to the Waters: Daily Bible Devotions for Spiritual Refreshment by James Montgomery Boice — $14.99

My Grandmother Is . . . Praying for Me: Daily Prayers and Proverbs for Character Development in Grandchildren by Susan Kelton, Pamela Ferriss, and Kathryn March — $10.00

The Incarnation in the Gospels by Richard D. Phillips, Philip Graham Ryken, and Daniel M. Doriani — $12.00

The Life of Moses: God’s First Deliverer of Israel by James Montgomery Boice — $14.99


Author Interview with Darby Strickland

This week’s author interview is with Darby Strickland. She is the author of 2 RCL booklets: Domestic Abuse: Help for the Sufferer and Domestic Abuse: Recognize, Respond, Rescue.

  • Question #1—Tell us a little bit about yourself: where you’re from, family, job, personal interests, unique hobbies, what you do in your spare time, etc.

I reside in Pennsylvania with my husband and three children. I counsel at the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation and have a particular interest in educating churches on the issue of Domestic Abuse. One of my greatest joys is homeschooling my children. Our home is filled with music, read alouds, good food, games and tons of laughter. Like most people, my life often feels packed out, but I like to think it is filled with precious things. I enjoy traveling with my family to different cities where we take a particular interest in touring museums together.  I love any activity that involves water: swimming, beach days, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, watching a Longwood Gardens fountain show or walking along a lake. Being by the water is sweetly refreshing for my soul.

  • Question #2—What inspired you to write this book, about this topic?

God has placed many oppressed women in my care. The verse in Ecclesiastes has rung true for many of them as it captures the isolated and powerless plight of the oppressed, “Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them.” (Ecc. 4:1). My goal when I write is to open eyes so that family, friends, counselors and pastors can understand the circumstances of marriages and lives of abused spouses. Informing them about the realities of oppression enables them to provide wise and loving support to a largely hidden reality. But even more than that, it is my goal to connect these precious sufferers to God, their greatest comforter, as he has much to say about oppression and his desire to rescue them.

 

  • Question #3—How do you deal with writer’s block?

I have discovered two faithful partners to help me overcome writer’s block. Some days my brain just will not write, the words do not flow or I am stuck and cannot see a way to formulate connections. I have learned to accept the reality of having unproductive days and put the writing aside. It has been so important to take the pressure off of myself and trust that if God has something for me to say he will be faithful in helping me. I can wait, pray, and rest while trusting that he will bring the right words or ideas in his time. It is good to be dependent upon his mercy and help. My husband has also proven to be a blockade remover, as sometimes the block stems from self-doubt or lack of courage to write the harder things. He listens to me read and reread the same passages. I am so thankful for his devotion to the things that I am passionate about.  He helps me hear myself and refocus my passion for the material, but his encouragement keeps me fighting to do the hard work involved in writing.

 

  • Question #4—What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Being a young writer myself I would encourage aspiring writers to write on topics they are passionate about. Writing is laborious. If you are driven by the material, you will be more committed to the process of writing. My teaching has greatly helped my writing, so before sitting down to prepare a manuscript, look for (or create) opportunities to teach the material. Teaching gives you immediate feedback on the impact and clarity of the material but it also provides you with a foundation to build on. Most importantly pray for the Lord to guide and shape your work.


How can readers discover more about you and your work?