His Name Matters – Exalting Jesus at Christmas
About the Guest
Our homes are living testimonies of our values, and no more so than at Christmas. But how do we cut through the social noise at Christmastime and proclaim the name of the one who owns this holiday? Barbara Rainey reveals an exciting new way you can put Christ back into Christmas.
Barbara RaineyAfter graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Cru® in 1971. With her husband Dennis, whom she married in 1972, the Rainey’s cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry committed to helping marriages and families survive and thrive in our generation. Barbara is a frequent speaker and guest on FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s award-winning nationally-syndicated daily radio broadcast. She is the author or coauthor of...more
Our homes are living testimonies of our values, and no more so than at Christmas.
His Name Matters – Exalting Jesus at Christmas
Bob: Have you heard from others, from friends of yours, about ways they are seeking to make Christmas more centered on Christ? Barbara Rainey says, “Often, those ideas sound great but never get implemented.”
Barbara: Moms are the ones who hear about these traditions and these ideas. They go, “I want to do that.” Yet, we’re also the ones that are baking the cookies, and we’re getting the teacher gifts, and we’re putting up the tree.
So, I just want to encourage moms that as you try to engage with your kids, you’re going to get some eye rolls. You’re going to get some kids who poke their sibling and make somebody cry. It’s not going to be perfect, but it’s worth taking the time to teach your children about the names of Christ. If you do it year after year, it’s going to stick; and they’re going to remember it.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, December 7th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We’ll talk today about some strategies for how you can keep Jesus at the center of the Christmas season in your home this year. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us.
Dennis: You know, Bob, I’m looking at the Christmas tree that is in the studio—
Bob: Yes. We’ve not often had a Christmas tree in the studio.
Dennis: We have not, Bob. Reason is—is because it’s been two men in the studio. [Laughter]
Bob: We don’t mess with decorations unless we have to—unless there is a wife who says, “Would you help with the decorations?”
Dennis: There is a reason why a bachelor’s pad looks like one.
Bob: Yes, that’s right.
Dennis: And this studio has all of a sudden become glittery and shiny.
Bob: Not just the tree, but there are gifts and there are framed works of art in here.
Dennis: Well, the frames, interestingly, were created by Barbara. She has framed great, old hymns from a very old hymnal. She’s hung something over the front of each of these frames to display the names of Christ.
I want to welcome Barbara back because wherever she goes she makes things beautiful.
Bob: That’s right, including this studio.
Dennis: That’s exactly right. Why don’t you explain to our listeners what you had in mind when you brought the Christmas tree in and also the packages and the frames with the names of Christ on them?
Barbara: Well, I wanted to create a little atmosphere for you, gentleman, for starters—
Barbara: —because I felt like it might kind of help us talk about these names; but I want to say really quickly to what the frames are. I think you’ll be able to find pictures online because I think we have them online. I can’t remember exactly what all is there.
But one of the things that I thought would be helpful to us, as women, would be to think of other ways that we could use these ornaments—and we’re talking about this new set of Adorenaments® that we’ve produced with the seven Christmas names of Christ for this year for Christmas. I started thinking about them and thinking, “Okay, how can we make these live past Christmas?” because they are not red and green; and they don’t look like Christmas. So, you’re not going to feel like you have Christmas decorations up in March or May.
Barbara: I found some old frames, that didn’t have anything in them—that I wanted to keep—and I had this old hymn book. It was falling apart. I took some of the pages out of the hymn book and glued them on cardboard in the back. Then, I put these names of Christ over the hymns that are about Him and put them in the frames. They turned out quite nicely, I think. So, we will keep ours up all year—just letting you know ahead of time. We will have the names of Jesus framed. We will have them in our house after Christmas is gone.
Dennis: Tell me. I’m not surprised.
Barbara: I’m sure you’re not. [Laughter] But don’t you think it is a great idea?
Dennis: I think they are beautiful. I saw them.
Barbara: They look pretty cool; don’t they?
Dennis: I think they look really good. They also look good on the packages—
Dennis: —because you’ve used them kind of along with a bow to decorate packages that are here. Do any of the packages have—
Bob: —anything in them?
Dennis: —my name?
Barbara: I’m sorry. [Laughter]
Bob: These are decorative packages.
Barbara: These are decorative, yes.
Bob: Empty boxes, my friend—
Bob: —but they really do look beautiful. They really do look nice the way that you’ve taken—and again, I don’t know that our listeners can understand without going to FamilyLifeToday.com and seeing what we’re talking about. You’ve taken names of Jesus from—and they’re stamped metal, and they’re about—what?
Barbara: Four by six.
Bob: Four or five inches? Four by six—they’re designed to hang on a Christmas tree; or as you’ve done, they are on a package as a decoration or, as you explained, in the frames—seven names of Jesus, three from the Gospel account in Luke, Chapter 2; four from Isaiah, Chapter 9, where we talk about who Jesus is—who is the One that God brought into the world—like the one you just pulled off the tree—Prince of Peace; right?
Dennis: Right. I’m sorry, but I had a flashback. Our listeners know because we’ve talked about this on previous broadcasts. Bob and I have just celebrated an anniversary.
Barbara: You did. That’s right.
Dennis: We did. Now, Barbara and I celebrated one earlier.
Bob: Yes, longer than yours and mine.
Dennis: Forty years of marriage.
Bob: Double what you and I have.
Dennis: Forty years of marriage; but Bob and I, here on FamilyLife Today—and I’m sorry, Bob, but just picking up this Adorenament, and looking at how beautiful it is, and how decorative the studio looks—
Dennis: I went back to our first year in the studio, and I walked into the studio—and folks, we started this broadcast in a converted closet.
Bob: Yes, we did.
Dennis: A converted closet and Bob decorated it.
Bob: For some reason, I was given the task of decorating. We hired a decorator. Do you remember? I worked with her.
Dennis: Did we pay cash money to that decorator?
Bob: After we were done, I think we did because she should have clearly said, “No. No, that would not go with this.”
Dennis: I just had a flashback of what that looked like; and ladies and gentlemen, there is no proof. We have no pictures—
Dennis: —of that studio.
Dennis: But Bob, I do have to describe this. He completely carpeted the walls—
Dennis: —with purple carpet.
Bob: It was kind of purplish with—it was kind of like a test pattern on a television set. [Laughter] It was wavy purple, and it—you could not sit in the room for very long without becoming dizzy, or nauseous, or both.
Dennis: I wasn’t sure if it was the color or the chemicals from the cheap carpet that you purchased.
Bob: Well, it was—we were on a budget. So, I was working with the remnants the best I could; but I remember you coming in and saying, “No, no, no. No, we can’t do this.”
Dennis: “We can’t.” So, we pulled all that carpet off.
Bob: Became gray carpet.
Dennis: And I just had a flashback. I’m looking at this beautiful tree that Barbara’s created; and I go, “There is a difference between male and female.”
Bob: There is a reason why I was not put in charge of designing ornaments for Christmas trees.
Dennis: There really is. This really is beautiful. What you wanted to do was design something that was timeless—that would be vintage for families. They would carry it forward into the future; right?
Barbara: Yes. That’s why they’re made out of metal. That’s why they’re—we’ve used really elegant fonts. There are three or four different font styles to them because we’re talking about the King of kings. We’re talking about the God of the universe. I wanted the names to represent a hint of His grandeur, and His majesty, and His glory. So, we made them really beautiful. They’re lightly glittered, and they’re elegant because the God we worship deserves that kind of attention.
Dennis: And Prince of Peace, for instance, the whole Adorenament is probably—what would you say, Bob, six inches wide—
Barbara: —by four.
Bob: Yes, four by six.
Dennis: —by four inches? So, it’ll fit in an envelope if you wanted to do that, although they’re boxed individually. There’s also a box of all seven, where people can get a booklet that you have that actually goes through all the names.
Bob: When you get the box with all seven of the ornaments, there’s a booklet that Barbara has written that says, “A child is born….” Each ornament has a devotional that you can read to the family.
So, for example, you get the one that says, “Prince of Peace.” You read Isaiah 9:6, “His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and of His peace, there will be no end.” Then, you read what Barbara’s written here: “Peace without end is the longing of every human heart; but it can’t be found on earth. No king has ever lived, even the most benevolent, who has ruled with perfect peace.”
Dennis: Now, I want to stop you for a second, Bob. You are reading what a dad would read to his kids, or an uncle, or a grandfather might read to his kids. You’re helping them understand a concept that Jesus is—He is the Prince of Peace.
Bob: So, for example, let’s say you’ve decorated your tree. You’ve put all seven of the different ornaments on the tree. It’s one of the nights before Christmas. You say to the kids, “Go pick one of those off the tree. Pick your favorite and bring it to me.” They go, and they pull Prince of Peace. You open up the booklet and say, “Let me read to about Prince of Peace.” Then, Dad reads this.
Dennis: Okay, finish reading it then.
This name brings the great promise of a life without conflict. Only One who is divine, who is sinless, can rule with perfection; and His name is Jesus. While we wait for His government on earth, we can still experience the peace Jesus offers. John 14 says, “Peace, I leave with you. My peace, I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled neither let them be afraid.” Later, He says, “In me, you may have peace.”
He knew that He was leaving, that His followers would feel abandoned and afraid. So, Jesus promised them the assurance of much needed peace. It’s both remarkable and comforting that Jesus can dwell within our frail humanity by His Spirit. Does He live in your heart? If He does, then, no matter how difficult your circumstances, He can and will give peace that passes all understanding, if you’ll ask.
One of the most loved hymns of the church is It Is Well with My Soul, written by Horatio Spafford just months after all four of his daughters had drowned as their ship sank in the Atlantic Ocean. His wife was saved when a plank of wood floated beneath her unconscious body, keeping her from drowning. Unimaginable grief must have overwhelmed Mr. Spafford.
On the journey to meet his wife, he wrote these words near the place where the ship sank: “When peace, like a river, attendth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, ‘It is well with my soul.’”
How is that possible? Without the Prince of Peace, it’s not. Only in Jesus can we say, “It is well with my soul.” May you know His peace this Christmas and forever.
Dennis: I’m just picturing that being read by the Christmas tree by a dad. That took less than five minutes. In this busy world—okay, so you do that for seven days in a row or over the days leading up to Christmas—you attempt to knock out all seven of these names and take five minutes and celebrate the names of Christ.
I can tell you from having done this with children, whether young or older children, the person you just read about is alive. This is not a fairy tale. He is alive. He is able to bring peace. Every family who is listening to us right now needs that Prince of Peace in their lives. They need to be reminded that if they submit to Him, if they yield to Him as Prince of their lives, then, they can experience peace.
Bob: Barbara, one of your desires in creating these ornaments was that a wife could be a helper to her husband by saying, “Here—here’s an easy way,”—not nagging him to execute but by saying, “Why don’t you read this to the kids?” and setting him up to win. In fact, you wrote a note about that—that you included with the Adorenaments; right?
Barbara: I did because one of my desires is that we, as women, are the ones who often begin and maintain traditions in the family. I don’t want her to take over. I don’t want her to feel like it’s all her responsibility. Marriage is a teamwork relationship, and it takes both mom and dad to lead a family—to lead children. I’m encouraging the women who buy these ornaments to find ways to include their husbands in leading their children through this.
I wrote in the little letter that comes with the booklet, in this set of seven, these words to wives:
May I be so bold to suggest that you, as a wife, find ways to help your husband participate? It is so easy for us, as women, to take over but resist. Ask him to read the stories out loud or create a guessing game for what the names might be. Perhaps, he can help the children hang the ornaments one by one while you read the stories. Then, you take turns.
As a wife, send prayers heavenward for help so that this part of your tree-trimming becomes a family activity everyone enjoys. The names presented in Adorenaments belong to the Eternal God who is the King of kings. By introducing your family to the names, you can help them begin to learn the many ways that Jesus loves them. Adoring Him will naturally follow.
Dennis: I couldn’t help but smile because I wondered, Bob, how many times she set me up to look good with our kids. The answer is a number of times. It’s a wise wife who knows how to take something like this, and it’s—it really is this simple. “Sweetheart, we’re going to celebrate after dinner tonight. Take this booklet. Read this section about Christ the Lord, Savior, Mighty God, Jesus”—one of the seven names.
Again, the booklet comes with the seven Adorenaments. It’s a setup for a man to be able to lead his family and, then, just have a little bit of a conversation about that name of Christ—how it relates to your family, and why your family needs Jesus and needs to talk about Him this season.
Bob: I love the fact that you used the names from Isaiah, Chapter 9, verse 6 because every time I pass the tree now, I want to sing, The Messiah. You know? “And His name shall be called”—
Dennis: Only you would want to sing The Messiah.
Bob: Oh, no. No, I’m not the only one.
Barbara: No, no, no. He’s not the only one!
Bob: There are lots of people who are singing it in their car as they drive along; but I also love the fact that those names in Isaiah 9—one of them Mighty God—you know, there are a lot of pseudo-Christian cults that don’t see the Messiah as God, Himself. They don’t see Jesus. They see Him as less than God, a created being. They see Him as a god but not God Almighty. Isaiah made it clear. The One who would be called Emmanuel would be the Mighty God.
Barbara: It is a very significant name. If you think about the fact that Isaiah—God inspired Isaiah to write this—and there were four names in that list. If there are over 300 names of Christ, why did God choose those four for Isaiah to speak about the coming Messiah? But Mighty God is one of them.
Just think, for a second, about this baby laying in a manger—whatever this manger was—if it was wood, or stone, or on the ground, or whatever on hay—human eyes would just see a baby; but God said of this baby—He was not just God. He was Mighty God.
The Israelites knew what mighty meant. They knew that “Mighty God” was the One who parted the Red Sea and who did all these miracles. So, here’s this baby; and He was called Mighty God—not just God, but Mighty God. It’s really significant that we see Him—we see this Christ Child, not just as a baby in a manger, but that we see Him as God—God of the universe and as our Mighty God.
So, that was really significant, I think, for the Israelites to understand that He was Savior, and He was Emmanuel, but He was also Mighty God. It reminds me of a hymn that we all know pretty well. It’s the hymn that Martin Luther wrote, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. To tie the two together—to think of this baby, this helpless infant baby—and His name is Mighty God. He’s the same One who is “a mighty fortress is our God”.
It’s just—it really is—it’s awe-inspiring to me, quite frankly, that these names are so full of meaning. We say them and we kind of go, “Oh, yes;” but there is so much meaning because God is trying to say to us, “This is who I am. I want you to know who I am.” It’s a relationship. We need to know what Mighty God means because that’s our Savior.
Bob: We have a tendency to be hard on the Jews who saw God part the Red Sea and who days later are grumbling in the desert because—“How are we going to get fed out here? Did you bring us out here to die?” Yet, how many times do we see the power of God in our lives; and yet, we lose faith in the next calamity that comes along. We think, “Well, I know God delivered me last time; but can He really do it this time?”
Dennis: Well, and the thing that Psalm 106 points out is that when we forget what God has done, we forget who He is. We forget what He’s like and His authority. Then, we fail to trust Him. We move into disobedience. Then, it was said of the nation of Israel, “They grumbled in their tents.” They griped about the Christian life. They griped and complained about the state that God had them in.
Bob: You’ve grumbled in your tent before; haven’t you?
Dennis: I have grumbled in my tent. [Laughter] It reminds me—just talking about Mighty God reminds me of the great quote by A.W. Tozer. I’ve just found myself using it increasingly, recently. He said, “The most important thing about you is what you think about God.”
Dennis: Now, why is that? Because how you think about God will determine how you think about yourself. If you think rightly about God and who He is—that “He is Mighty God and that I am not. I’m not mighty. I don’t have much power. I may think I do on some days, but there is only One who can be called Mighty God.” As we think about Him rightly, we begin to think about ourselves correctly.
Then, we begin to realize who we are. We can lead our families, at that point, to say, “Our family is made in the image of God.” We can only find our identity as we allow Jesus Christ to come into our lives, forgive us our sins, and we begin to surrender to Him day in and day out, and walk with Him, and allow Him to be our Mighty God, Christ the Lord, the Prince of Peace who rules in our hearts. Emmanuel—He’s there. He’s incarnate, inside us, living His life through us.
Bob: If Tozer is right—and I think he is—the most important thing we think is what we think about God. Then, to have the names of Jesus on your Christmas tree, or hanging on presents, or decorating your home is going to help you be thinking rightly, not just during the Christmas season, but all year-long as you reflect on, “This is my God. This is the God who is—He is the Prince of Peace, the Mighty God, the Wonderful Counselor, the Savior, the Lord.”
Dennis: Now, that you’ve had a chance to preach after I did, [Laughter] I have to call attention to something, Bob, because you probably noticed this. Barbara mentioned it. She talked about God lying in a manger on a bed of straw.
These names, as Barbara has presented them—both the set of seven and each individual name—you can see it there—each of these Adorenaments is lying on a bed of straw. It’s symbolic of how Jesus made His entrance onto planet earth. It’s a great reminder for every family, every Christmas, to celebrate Him.
Bob: Yes. If listeners, again, will go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, they can get a firsthand look at these ornaments that Barbara has created, seven of them. As you said, you can order all seven; or you can order them individually. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com to see these Adorenaments from Barbara Rainey.
There’s also information there about the What God Wants for Christmas interactive nativity set for children. It’s a great resource which, by the way, includes a dramatized version of the poem that Barbara has written called What God Wants for Christmas that’s part of that interactive nativity set. Again, find out more when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com; or call, toll-free, at 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.
I need to share an e-mail that we received awhile back from a listener who wrote to say:
I want you to know that I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior at one of your conferences. I owe my salvation to the Lord. I was brought to Him by your program; and as a new Christian, I have a lot to learn. You just need to know your program is very helpful.
At the marriage conference last year, I bought a number of books; and I’m trying to read through them. Your program reminds me and encourages me of the importance of my family and the need to make Christ the center and the focus of my family. I plan to attend the marriage conference again this year, and I’m encouraging my friends to do the same thing. I just wanted to say, “God bless you.”
You know, I don’t think e-mails get much better than that; do they? I just wanted to say, “Thank you,” to those of you who are regular listeners to FamilyLife Today and those of you who support this ministry. It’s because of you that we get e-mails like that. This has been a great year for us. We’ve heard from lots of listeners who write to us to let us know how God is using this program in their lives; but we are facing a bit of a dilemma right now. We have seen, over the last several months, a dramatic drop in donations from radio listeners. As a result, our team has gotten together. We’ve looked at where we have to slow things down or even stop things because we can’t go forward without the funds to do all that we need to do.
We’ve been asking God, here at the end of the year, to provide the funds we need so that we can restart some of these projects that we have had to slow down. The good news is we’ve had some friends who have stepped forward. They have said, “We want to encourage listeners to give a yearend donation.” They have agreed to match every donation we receive, during the month of December, on a dollar-for-dollar basis, up to a total of $3 million.
Now, that’s going to mean a lot of our listeners are going to have to pitch in to help make this happen. So, we’re asking you, “Would you consider making a yearend donation to FamilyLife Today?” You can do that online at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make that yearend donation. Again, when you do, your donation is going to be matched dollar for dollar. So, your donation is really doubled when you give, here, at yearend.
Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com to make a donation. Press the button that says, “I CARE”; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make a donation over the phone. We just want to say, “Thanks,” in advance, for your support of this ministry. We really do appreciate you linking arms with us and being a part of all that God is doing through the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
And we hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend. I hope you can join us back on Monday when we’re going to talk about the state of the union—the state of your union—the state of the family. This is going to be less of a look at what’s going on in the culture related to marriage and family and more of a look at what’s going on at your house. So, I hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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