Jesus; the Real Light on Your Christmas Tree
About the Guest
We all know Deuteronomy 6 commands us to "teach our children about God" - but have we missed the other part of the passage? We are also commanded to adorn our homes with physical evidence of the Word of God. Find out how you can do that, using the names of Christ, on the next FamilyLife Today.
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
We all know Deuteronomy 6 commands us to “teach our children about God” – but have we missed the other part of the passage?
Jesus; the Real Light on Your Christmas Tree
Bob: Most parents spend a lot of time thinking and praying about what to name their baby. For Mary and Joseph, the issue was already settled. An angel had picked the name for them, Jesus. Here’s Barbara Rainey.
Barbara: Jesus is actually a derivative of the name, Joshua. Joshua is an Old Testament man that many of us know about. Many of our children know about Joshua and the battle of Jericho. Well, the name Joshua means deliverer, one who rescues his people. So, when the angel announced to Mary and to Joseph and said, “You will have a baby, and you will name Him Jesus,” he was foretelling what Jesus would do for us—that Jesus would be our deliverer but also the Messiah.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, December 6th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Jesus may be the name the angel gave to the baby; but there were other titles that the Bible gives to the One who is the Savior of the world. We’ll talk about those today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. I guess after the e-mails, and website visits, and Facebook® posts we got last week, you thought, “We ought to have Barbara back on the radio again to talk about what she’s been doing.”
Dennis: I think she has hit a nerve.
Bob: There was a little bit of activity here last week!
Dennis: I think she hit a nerve because—well, I knew it, Bob. I think you were there when she was speaking to a small group of folks—I think 30 or 40 folks. She was sharing about this new project that she was creating for families, where she was actually creating a tool to help them celebrate Christmas and put the real meaning into Christmas. As she was sharing, the group broke into applause.
Now, anytime you speak and the group breaks into applause—but especially a small group—
Dennis: —because it’s not conducive to having an ovation of sorts; but it so resonated with them that they started to applaud. I think what they were ultimately expressing was, “Give us something to return the real meaning of Christmas to our family so we can do it every year, year after year.”
Bob: Barbara, welcome back to FamilyLife Today.
Barbara: Thank you.
Bob: The resource that you’ve created for Christmas is a series of Christmas ornaments. Each one of them—they’re seven of them—each one of them with a different name for Jesus. You refer to them as His Christmas names.
My wife was in a meeting this weekend where you were speaking to a group of women about this. I said, “How was Barbara’s presentation?” She said the women were nodding. I mean, where you’ve talked to folks and shown them what you’re doing, people get excited about this.
Barbara: Well, they do because I think there’s a general longing in the hearts of believers and non-believers alike to return Christmas to something that’s meaningful. We’re all tired of the commercialism. We’re all tired of the excess. We’re tired of all the trappings that we know are not what it’s really all about.
I think, when I’ve been speaking about this recently and I talk about my dream of Christian homes with Christmas trees in them and the trees are covered in the names of Christ and other symbols of the holiday, people go, “Yes, that’s what I want. That’s what I’ve been looking for, and I can’t find it anywhere.” It’s exciting to have these finally available for families to be able to put on their Christmas trees and proclaim their faith.
Dennis: This year, she has, as you said, Bob, the Christmas names of Christ. In case you are wondering where those came from, they’re from the book of Luke—
Barbara: Luke, Chapter 2.
Dennis: —and Isaiah.
Barbara: And Isaiah.
Dennis: The names are Jesus, Christ the Lord, Emmanuel, Mighty God, Savior, Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace. When she says, Bob, she envisions a Christmas tree, at some point in the future, covered with names of Christ—
Bob: Well, they ought to come see your tree because that’s what it looks like this year.
Dennis: Well, it does. It does look like that this year; but she’s done some study here, and these are not the only names of Christ. How many names have you found in Scripture?
Barbara: Well, some scholars estimate that there are as many as 300. I don’t know what all 300 are, but I know what about 30 or 40 are. We’ve grouped them into different categories. So, this year, we have created His Christmas names.
Next year, we’re going to create His royal names which include King of kings, Lord of lords, and Prince. Then, there are four others that are kingly, princely kinds of names. So, we have that group. We have the Messianic names of Christ. We have His eternal names, and there are others. Literally, five or six years from now, Christmas trees really could be covered with a lot of the names of Christ.
Dennis: The cool thing about this—and I think most of us kind of walk by the names of Christ, not realizing that each name carries significance. Remember John, Chapter 1, it says, “And we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten Son.” He explains God to us by becoming flesh and dwelling among us.
Bob: Well, and the name Jesus, which we think of as His given name—it was His given name. The angel told Mary, “You shall call His name Jesus;” but that’s just not a name that they picked out of a baby name book.
Barbara: That’s right! [Laughter]
Bob: That’s a name that has a meaning to it.
Barbara: That’s right. It does. If you buy this set of seven names, included in that set of seven is a little booklet; and in the booklet, I wrote a little piece about the importance of knowing the names of Christ.
I’m just going to read you a little portion of it:
In the beginning, God created and He named. He called the darkness, “night”, and the light, “day”. He called the dry land, “earth”, and the sky above, “heaven”. He created the sun, the moon, and the stars, giving each one its name.
Little children learn at a very young age that that warm yellow ball in the sky is called the sun. That is its name. As they grow older, they learn more about its properties—its size, and its effect on the earth, on the oceans, and on their own bodies. Their knowledge of what the name sun means develops and expands as they grow.
Jesus is a man of many names—300, according to some scholars—which tells us right away that He is not like us. In learning the names of Christ, our understanding grows.
The celebration of Christ’s birth has gotten lost in a swirl of fairy tales and merchandising. Think about it, the stunning miracle of God becoming human has become trivialized with toys, and tinsel, and trips to the mall. What’s the solution? The Bible tells us, “...looking unto Jesus,” in Hebrews 12:2—learn His names. In so doing, you will know more of Him.
Seeing Jesus stirs a response of adoration and worship; and the things of earth become less important. Our misplaced affections are righted. May His names adorn your home at Christmas and beyond as you give prominence to the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ.
So, I hope as families have these ornaments and as they read about why knowing His names are important, it will help them worship. I mean, we sing the song, “O, Come Let Us Adore Him,” which is where we came up with the name, Adorenaments®. These are ornaments that help us adore Christ. So, as families talk about the meaning of each of these names, it will help us worship Him, which is what Christmas needs to be about.
Bob: The first ornament on the top of the box of seven—if folks get the entire set, the first one is the name Jesus—
Bob: —which is the name by which He is most commonly known.
Bob: And yet, that’s a name that has meaning attached to it.
Barbara: It does have meaning. Most of us don’t know what it means, but Jesus is actually a derivative of the name Joshua. Many children know about the story of Joshua. Jesus means the strong one, the one who rescues His people.
When the angel announced to Mary and to Joseph and said, “You will have a baby, and you will name Him Jesus,” he was foretelling what Jesus would do for us—that Jesus would be our deliverer and our rescuer. More than likely, Mary and Joseph understood that meaning because they knew who Joshua was. They knew their history and what Joshua had done. So, they knew that this baby they were going to have was going to be the deliverer. That’s what the name Jesus means.
Bob: The angel said, “You will call Him Jesus because”—
Bob: —“He will save His people from their sins.”
Bob: So, in the same way that Joshua led the nation into battle against their enemies and delivered the nation into the Promised Land, Jesus delivers us from our sins into the Promised Land. When we think of the name Jesus, rather than just thinking of it as a common name, we should think of it as a title—a Messianic announcement that this is the One who is your deliverer.
Dennis: And the promise of deliverance from sin because that’s the longing of our hearts—is that we can have someone who died for what we didn’t do right—for all the mistakes and failures we’ve made and how we disobeyed God.
Barbara: In that same announcement that you just referred to, Bob, when the angel spoke, he also said in Luke, Chapter 2, “For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord.” Jesus was not only given the name Jesus, but it was also said of Him that He would be Savior—which is another name—and that he would also be Christ the Lord.
So, He was more than just the Deliver and the Rescuer; He was the Savior. He was the long-anticipated Messiah that the Jewish people had been looking for, for hundreds of years. The word, Savior, means Messiah. When they said that—that also had meaning about who this boy—who was going to be born would be—who He would become as a man. He was going to be the Rescuer and the Deliver but also the Messiah.
Bob: You took those other names, Savior and Christ the Lord, and made ornaments for those names as well.
Barbara: That’s correct.
Bob: So, Jesus, Savior, Christ the Lord, those three came out of Luke, Chapter 2; right?
Barbara: That’s correct. That’s correct.
Dennis: I think what’s important for a mom or a dad, grandma, grandpa, to understand at this point, is that these Adorenaments have been created, really, to help them fulfill Deuteronomy, Chapter 6. This—I wouldn’t say this is your life verse, but it certainly is one of the most important in your life because it’s not only our responsibility but it’s our duty with the next generation.
Barbara: Well, it’s a verse that applies to everyone, whether you are a parent, or a grandparent, or even if you’re not a parent and you don’t have children. The Great Commission commands us to go into all the world and teach and make disciples. The whole idea of teaching truth to others is inherent in our responsibility, as believers, no matter what your family status is.
As parents, though, we do have a special responsibility to teach our children. That’s talked about in Deuteronomy. Moses commanded the children. He said, “These commandments that I’m giving you today, they shall be on your heart.” First of all, we have to embrace them individually. Then, he said, “Teach them to your children.”
One of the things that I hope will be accomplished by these Adorenaments—these names of Christ for decorating your Christmas tree—is that it will give moms and dads, aunts and uncles, and grandmas and grandpas, for that matter—it will give us an opportunity and a way—an easy way—to teach our children the truth of who Jesus really is and return to Christmas the central reason for why we celebrate the birth of Christ.
Bob: Barbara, you wrote a letter to moms and dads that—the booklet that’s got the devotionals for each of these names. It’s in a sleeve that’s got this letter on the outside of it. Just share what was in that letter. What was on your heart as you wrote this to moms and dads?
Barbara: Well, I wanted moms and dads—moms, in particular, because moms are the ones who hear about these traditions and these ideas. They go, “I want to do that.” So, moms are the ones who often carry the desire; and they carry a lot of the weight of executing these things in the home. Yet, we’re also the ones who are baking the cookies, and we’re getting the teachers’ gifts, and we’re helping the kids think of what they can get their siblings, and we’re putting up the tree. Moms are busy, and they’re harried, and they are worn out.
So, I wanted to write a letter to moms when they got this that says, “Do your best, and it is okay if you don’t get it done.” This is what I wrote to those who get the set of seven. This comes with a little booklet:
As Christmas arrives at the end of the calendar year, it is as if the previous 11 months have been leading to this grand, culminating event. Now, it is December and tree trimming has begun. This box of seven ornaments called Adorenaments has been designed to help you teach your family the richness of the treasure we were given when Christ was born in Bethlehem.
But like most women, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make meaningful family memories at Christmas because we know that traditions are important. We want our kids to stay connected to home in healthy ways, but creating a Hallmark® moment is not our job. It is God who makes the moments meaningful. None of us needs another obligation in this exceptionally busy season.
So, as you begin to read the short stories in this little volume and then get interrupted or never finish, don’t worry. Reading even one or two is better than none. Focus on what you accomplish and not what is left undone.
I just want to encourage moms and dads that, as you try to engage with your kids, you’re going to get some eye rolls. You’re going to get some kids that poke their sibling and make somebody cry. It’s not going to be beautiful. It’s not going to be perfect, but it’s worth the investment. 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 are going to remember it.
Dennis: What you’re really talking about is adding a tradition to your Christmas that brings out the real meaning of Christmas. I went on my Facebook page and I asked some of those who are friends of mine there if they would just share what some of their favorite traditions were. It was interesting. Some of them—it was as simple as going to grandma’s house. “We went to our grandparents’ house. It was the trip there that was my favorite memory of anticipating Christmas at the grandparents’ house.” Others talked about a gift that was opened on Christmas Eve. Still others talked about the reading of the Christmas story. The dad would pull out a Bible, and every Christmas Eve would read the story. The kids would sit around, drinking hot chocolate, or hot tea, and eat some cookies, and talk about the reason for the season.
We attempted some of this as a family. I’ll be honest with you—I always felt like it was just a little short—just didn’t quite get there. What I really like about what Barbara’s done is you can make it as simple as just reading about one of these names, or you can take all seven and begin to unpack them and talk about their meaning and their application to your individual lives—maybe have each of your children pick a favorite, like I’m about to do with you, Bob.
Out of these names—and I know you hate these kinds of questions—this is recorded over our 20 years of radio; but it’s only seven you’ve got to review here, Bob.
Bob: Well, I know. Okay, so only seven—
Dennis: So, what’s your favorite?
Bob: Gee, I—which of the six names am I going to make less important than the other?
Dennis: —the other one.
Barbara: —than the other one.
Dennis: Yes, really.
Bob: Come on.
Bob: We’re talking about the names of Jesus.
Dennis: Do you have a favorite, though; really?
Bob: I’ve always liked the name, Emmanuel, God with us. I like it because I reflect on John, Chapter 1, verse 14, where it says, “The Word became flesh,” and pitched His tent—the literal idea of John 1:14 is that He pitched His tent among our tents. I’ve always thought, “Well, how would life be different if Jesus pitched His tent in your living room?”
Dennis: Oh, yes.
Bob: How would things around the house be different if Jesus had a tent in the backyard; and He was coming in every day and saying, “What are we doing today?”—
Bob: —and, “What are you watching there on TV?”—and all those kinds of things. It really is the idea that God has come near—that He has come to dwell among us—the idea of the incarnation. Emmanuel means God with us. Remember, Jesus said before He left that He didn’t just come to be with us and then to leave; but when He left, He said, “I will be with you until the end of the age.” So, the idea of God with us is not just that He came at Christmas, and He left at Easter, and now we’re on our own—
Dennis: Yes, that’s—
Bob: —but He is still Emmanuel today. He is still God with us.
Dennis: That is really good.
Dennis: What about you, Barbara?
Barbara: Wow! I didn’t know you were going to ask me. [Laughter] I guess I would have to say, “Savior” because as I’ve now been a believer in Christ for, I guess, 40 years—I don’t know, maybe not quite—I don’t know how long. Over 40 years, actually, because it was before we got married. The older I get, the more I appreciate what Jesus did and the fact that He would willingly come and do no wrong and yet suffer for my sin and the sin of everyone else is pretty overwhelming. So, I do love the name, Savior.
Dennis: I do too. Since you selected that one, I can’t.
Barbara: But there are plenty of others.
Bob: Is that your favorite? Is that the one you would have picked?
Dennis: It’s the one I thought of first, but I also thought about Prince of Peace. I thought it speaks both of His royalty—but also, what He came to deliver in my life—that He came to bring peace with God. He also came to enable me to live in a marriage in a peaceful relationship. We’ve done that for 40 years. Now, I’m not saying it’s always been peaceful; but as Jesus has taken up residence in our lives and in our marriage, we have enjoyed peace.
Then, in raising children—boy, what parent doesn’t want peace delivered to your children and the real hope of seeing the Prince of Peace and to see Him as He is and to experience that peace, with no static on the line? I’m looking forward to that. That will be a magnificent day.
Bob: And just meditating on these names at Christmastime—again, that’s the whole reason for these seven ornaments hanging on trees—is so when you walk by, you catch a glimpse, and you reflect, and you meditate, and you think about whom it is that Christmas is all about and what our focus ought to be at Christmastime.
Dennis: I think what will happen with some of these is there are going to be some churches that will order, maybe, several boxes of the seven Adorenaments and have a tree that hangs in the church that is purely the names of Jesus Christ.
Someday, I look forward to this and celebrating this because this has been Barbara’s dream for a number of years—to see a Christmas tree that has maybe 35, maybe 42 names—maybe more, 49—at Christmas after Christmas—help people celebrate the true meaning of Christmas and the One who really is the reason for the season, Jesus Christ.
Bob: Listeners are going to want to see what these look like. If you go to FamilyLifeToday.com, you can see the Adorenaments that Barbara has been working on. All seven of them are online. You can order them individually; or you can order them as a set, as we’ve already talked about.
Again, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com if you’d like a set of Adorenaments for your home or if you’d like to share these with others. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com. There’s also information there about other resources we have for the celebration of Christmas—our kid-friendly, interactive nativity scene called What God Wants for Christmas. There’s information available there about that resource, as well. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com; or if you’d like to call us, our toll-free number is 1-800-FL-TODAY, 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.
Now, I want to read just a portion of an e-mail we got from a listener awhile back. This listener wrote to say:
My husband and I have been married almost 20 years. We decided we wanted to serve God for the rest of our lives. We got married. About ten years into our marriage, our church crumbled; and we were dismayed and discouraged by what had happened. So, we just stopped participating in any organized fellowship.
Spiritually, we became crippled, which led to many problems in our lives: communication breakdown, blaming one another for our own needs not being met, and hardened hearts. I became hungry for fellowship and to hear God’s Word taught; and I started listening to Christian radio. I was pleased when I found FamilyLife Today. There have been very few topics that have not interested me. The most helpful topics have been those that address the husband/wife relationship.
Our marriage has been mended. It’s been healed by applying the principles that you have talked about. I’ve begun to take responsibility for my own spiritual life, for my walk with my Heavenly Father. I’ve seen my husband’s heart soften toward God and toward me. Life is not perfect nor are our affairs in order; but you’ve played a major part in the healing of our marriage and our family.
I have to tell you—that’s encouraging for us to get reports back like that from listeners. And you just need to know, here at the end of 2012, we’re hearing reports like that every day—e-mails that come in from listeners, folks who have attended our Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways or our Art of Marriage® events. There is a lot going on, here at FamilyLife; but we are facing a bit of a dilemma right now. This year, we have seen a dramatic decrease in donations from radio listeners. As a result, over the past few months, we have had to face some tough choices, as a ministry, to either slow down or, in some cases, to stop doing some of what we’re doing. We have been asking God, here at yearend, to provide what we need to be able to restart some of these projects in the New Year.
The good news is we’ve had some friends of the ministry who have stepped forward and have agreed that, during the month of December, they’re going to match every donation we receive on a dollar-for-dollar basis, up to a total of $3 million. Now, we’re still hearing from folks, so that number may actually be increasing over the next few weeks.
We’re asking you, “Would you consider making a donation today?” Talk with your spouse about how you can contribute to the work of FamilyLife Today. When you do, your donation is going to be matched dollar for dollar. You’re going to help us to be able to move forward into the New Year. You can make a donation online at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call toll-free 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, online, FamilyLifeToday.com—Click the button that says, “I CARE”, to make a donation; or call toll-free. 1-800-FL-TODAY is the number. Again, we want to say, “Thanks,” in advance, for your partnership with us. We appreciate your support of the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
Tomorrow, we’ll be back to talk more with Barbara Rainey about how your home can be a beautiful display of God’s glory at Christmastime. 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 tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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