Honoring Christ as the Great “I AM”
About the Guest
God first introduced Himself as “I AM.” How would you introduce him to others? Barbara Rainey talks about her new resource designed to teach your family about the great I AM, and to proclaim His name during the Easter season. Called “Behold the Lamb,” Barbara explains how this devotional can be used during Holy Week as to explain who Jesus is.
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
God first introduced Himself as “I AM.” How would you introduce him to others?
Honoring Christ as the Great “I AM”
Bob: Psalm 78 says, “He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers to teach to their children that the next generation might know them”—the children yet unborn—“and arise to tell them to their children.” Barbara Rainey says, “We have a responsibility to pass our faith on to the next generation.”
Barbara: It’s more than just our responsibility. It’s really our privilege to be the one who can communicate the truth of what you know about Jesus Christ and your relationship with Him—to be able to do that with your children in such a way that your children catch that, and they understand that, and they, then, want that. There’s no greater joy on earth than being able to lead your children to know Christ so that they, too, will one day be in heaven with you.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, February 19th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. Today, we’ll talk about how, during this time of year, we have some special opportunities to engage with our children around important spiritual truth. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. When your kids were little, did your wife—Barbara—were there always crafts around? I’m just wondering if she was a crafty mom.
Dennis: She was pretty crafty, but I wouldn’t say that there were a lot of crafts around. What do you say, Honey?
Barbara: Yes, there kind of were. [Laughter]
Barbara: Yes, don’t you remember when the kids were really little? I was trying to still do my painting? Then, I put that away. Then, I sewed kids’ clothes. Then, I—they grew out of that. Then, I was doing quilting. Then, I was painting rooms. [Laughter]
Dennis: I was actually thinking of whether they were the ones that were—
Bob: —doing the crafts.
Dennis: —doing the crafts.
Barbara: Oh. No, it was me.
Dennis: She tried. She tried to do it, but when they left—when they fled the “penitentiary” and all got married—all except one—she began to really cut loose and begin to exhibit many of her talents, in terms of creativity and her love for the Scriptures, to equip families to better pass on the truth about Jesus Christ to their kids.
Bob: The reason we’re talking about arts and crafts, and the Scriptures, and your passion for these things—and by the way, welcome back to FamilyLife Today—
Barbara: Thank you.
Bob: —we’re talking about this because of a resource that you’ve been working on and developing that’s part of a series of resources. At Christmastime, we shared with our listeners about ornaments that you can hang on your tree called “Adorenaments”® that share the names of Christ. And we sold out of all of those that we had. In fact, you are working on a set of new “Adorenaments” for next year.
Barbara: That’s right.
Bob: So, we’ll have the ones we had from last year—
Barbara: That’s correct.
Bob: —and a whole new set for this year.
Barbara: That’s correct.
Bob: Then, you’ve developed this—it’s not really just a devotional book. It’s an interactive devotional that families are using during the Lenten season called “The Messiah Mystery”™—and folks are engaged with that. And now, you’ve come up with a wreath that families can use at Easter that is called “Behold the Lamb”.
Actually, is the wreath called “Behold the Lamb”, or have you got this all—because “Behold the Lamb”” is kind of the Easter version of the wreath; right?
Barbara: Yes. ““Behold the Lamb” is the Easter version of the wreath. We don’t have a name for the wreath by itself.
Barbara: So, stay tuned. We’ll figure that out.
Dennis: Well, there’s a reason for that because—
Dennis: —the wreath is actually designed to carry multiple messages, through various events that occur around a family.
Barbara: That’s right. Well said. That’s correct. We’ve designed this wreath and created it so that it can be used at Easter. This year, this will be the first time that the wreath will be available. So, when you buy the wreath, you will get the wreath; and you will get the Easter kit that you take your family through for the week of Holy Week. But after Easter is over, you can use the wreath for other purposes.
Eventually, we will have a product that will go with it that will focus on gratitude. We will have one on Valentine’s—where you can teach your children about love, and what God’s love means, and all about love for the first two weeks in February. We will have, probably, a birthday kit so that you can write little things to your—the birthday person in your family—and stick them on the wreath. We’ll have, probably, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day—all kinds of ideas.
Bob: You know what? Just sitting here, looking at this—and again, I hope our listeners will go to FamilyLifeToday.com to see what you’ve created. It’s a metal wreath that can hang on a door or on a wall, but it also has a stand that goes with it. So, you can use it as a tabletop decoration.
The “I AM” piece—that goes in the middle, for Easter—is magnetized. It can be removed, and that’s where you would place in something different for a different season of the year; but I’m just looking at this and thinking, “We don’t have any kids left at home, but I think Mary Ann would want this in our house.” It’s more than just sharing it with your kids.
Bob: It’s a statement that you make to remind yourself—but to share with your guests, your friends—whoever is over at the house—that there is something important to you during the Easter season.
Barbara: Yes. I think it’s important to us, particularly as women, because there is something about our home that is really important to us. I think we intuitively want to have our home be a reflection of what we believe and what’s important to us. So, for many of us, as believing women, there’s been kind of a lack of ways for us to make our home express our faith.
So, one of the reasons that we created this, as a wreath—an interactive wreath that you can use with your family—instead of just putting the material that we wrote in a book—is that it is a way for women to make a statement at home to your kids, your husband, to neighbors, friends, family members who come—that this is the reason we celebrate Easter because it’s all about Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. So, it’s not just teaching knowledge to your kids, but it’s communicating truth to them and then finding a way to display it beautifully in your home.
Bob: You’ve been working on developing this for more than a year. In fact, last year, at Easter-time, you had a prototype of this—
Bob: —and shared it with some families. They used it. You asked them for feedback. What kinds of things were you hearing back from folks?
Barbara: Well, one of the overriding response was: “What I liked most was that it was simple. It was easy to use. There was a short little piece for us to interact with everyday. We were finished in five minutes. We could focus on one name a day. That was easy, and we could finish it in a week.” There was something about that simplicity—the ability to be kind of “in and out” quickly.
One of the moms wrote me—because I asked for feedback, in an email, to all of these 40 families who tested it for us. And one of the moms wrote back and said, “Our kids are secretly enjoying this.” Her kids are 15 and 12. [Laughter]
Bob: So, they’re kind of at that age where they’re too cool to really—
Bob: —admit that they like it; right?
Barbara: She said, “Our kids are secretly enjoying this. Neither of them would ever admit it”—
Barbara: —“but I know it means something to them to see Daddy talking more about spiritual things.” She went on to talk about how easy it was for her husband to be the one to lead. In fact, she wrote in another email that she was so excited because she had wanted her husband to lead the family, spiritually, for years. And she just kept hoping that it would happen. This was so easy for him to do because it’s just reading a very, very short piece on a card—that just a piece of paper—folded in half, like a greeting card—very small. She said, “It was so easy for him to do that he felt really successful.” She loved it, which is why she commented. She said, “I think it means a lot to my kids to see Daddy leading.”
Bob: By the end of the week, these cards, that share a short devotional message, have been inserted into the wreath, which is—
Bob: —there to hold the cards so that, as you look around the wreath, you see the statements of Jesus being the Messiah Jesus: “I am the Bread of Life,” “I am the Light of the World,” “I am the Good Shepherd.” And you look at the wreath, as it gets filled in each day, and it’s filling in the picture of Who Jesus is.
I’m just sitting here, thinking: “A week before Christmas, everybody is aware of the fact that Christmas is about a week away; but a week before Easter, unless somebody says to you, ‘You know, Easter is next Sunday,’ it’s just not top-of-mind.”
Barbara: It’s not.
Bob: This helps bring it top-of-mind so that every day, during Holy Week, you’re aware of the fact that we’re getting ready to remember the death of Jesus on Good Friday and the empty tomb on Resurrection Sunday.
Barbara: And that’s exactly what I want to happen! I want to have families focusing, for a whole week, on the magnitude of this event.
One of my favorite things is on the Saturday card. When you get to Saturday, after Good Friday, you pull out the Saturday card. It says, “I am the True Vine.” In the part for teens and adults, it talks about what happened on Saturday. What happened to the disciples on Saturday? What was going on in Jerusalem?
One of the suggestions is to kind of get that feel for the sadness, and the gloom, and the despair, and the hopelessness the disciples, and all of those who believed, felt—cover your lights, pull down your shades—kind of feel what that might have felt like to feel—without hope. Then, it makes Resurrection Sunday that more exciting, that more celebratory. If you can walk through it, a day at a time, leading up to Resurrection Sunday, the experience is much more what it should be for us when we go to church, then, on Sunday morning.
Dennis: Yes, I just pulled it out of the burlap pouch, that you’ve got all these cards in. This is, as you said, “Behold the Lamb”. “I am the True Vine,”—Saturday—it says:
Silent Saturday for teens and adults: Very little is said, in any of the Gospels, about what happened on Saturday after Jesus died. It was the Sabbath Day. Like every other Sabbath Day, no work was done. People were in their homes, resting. Undoubtedly, they were remembering all that had happened the day before—the crucifixions, the earthquake, and the temple curtain being torn. Certainly, nothing like this had occurred before. The Light of the World was gone. Darkness had returned.
Think about what the eleven disciples and the hundreds who had believed in Jesus were feeling that Sabbath Day: despair, depression, grief, unlike any other? What would you have thought—that it was over? That it was all in vain? Had you misunderstood? But the miracles—what about all those miracles? Jesus had said, “I am the True Vine;” but now, He was dead. And they felt lifeless, too. Their hearts were broken. Their heads bewildered.
As a family, you might want to visualize the sadness and loss by covering all the lights with a black cloth or by closing your window shades, blinds, or curtains for the day. You may choose to not turn on any lights this Saturday. This is a day of waiting, but it can also be a day of preparation. Spend the day getting all in order for the joyous celebration coming tomorrow on Resurrection Day.
And I like that, Bob, because if Christ is still dead—in 1 Corinthians 15, it says, “Then, we are still in our sins.”
Dennis: There’s no hope. If He can’t defeat death, what hope do we have beyond a grave? The answer is, “We don’t.” Every day is a day of despair; but because Christ did defeat death—because He is alive, because He ascended and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father—we have an Advocate. We have someone Who pleads our case—Who died on our behalf. To me, that’s the greatest news that’s ever been proclaimed. It’s the greatest privilege a parent has with his kids—to introduce them to the One who brought light back, where there was darkness.
Bob: So, I’m curious. With the wreath that you’ve created, and with these eight devotionals, is this something that you draw attention to on Palm Sunday? You say: “Kids, it is Palm Sunday. It’s a special day. We’re going to kick-off the week with the first part of this.” You get it out, and put it up then; or do you have it up throughout Lent?
Barbara: I—you know, I think you can do it either way. I think, for younger kids, there is something about the drama, and “Ta-da!”, and the drum roll of making a big production about putting it up on Palm Sunday. So, I think there’s real merit in doing it that way; but I also think that, for some families, you might want to get it now and put it up for the last few weeks of Lent. Then, do something purposeful to kick-off Palm Sunday and Holy Week with your family.
Bob: I would just suggest homemade cinnamon rolls on Palm Sunday because—
Barbara: That sounds good.
Dennis: Why am I not surprised that you would have food associated with this? [Laughter]
Bob: We’re going to draw attention—
Barbara: Will you make some for us?
Bob: You know, make it a special day. I’ll see if I can get Mary Ann to put some of those together. She did some recently that were very good, by the way. But there is something—if you have a special breakfast—
Bob: —on that morning, it says to the kids: “Hey, we’re setting this day aside as not just another Sunday—but a Sunday when we’re excited. We’re getting ready for something very exciting. This is Easter week. This is Holy Week. We’re going to be talking about Jesus this week because next Sunday is Easter, and we want to get ready for that.”
Dennis: And the thing I like about it—and the feedback we got from the 40 families who tried it—is it’s just eight days long. It’s not something you’ve got to do over a long period of time. It’s everyday from Sunday to Sunday. I think parents will be surprised at how their kids will remind them: “Hey, we haven’t pulled out the card for today. What’s the message for today?”
Because it basically—although not specifically—it basically walks you through the last, really, six days of Jesus’ life until Friday, when He died on the Cross. Then, it talks about Saturday. Then, of course, you celebrate on Resurrection Sunday.
Bob: Well, and if you have younger children in the home, the “Resurrection Eggs”®, that FamilyLife has designed and has made available for years, does exactly what you’re talking about. It starts on Palm Sunday. The first egg you open has a little donkey in it. So, it talks about Jesus coming in and the Triumphal Entry on a donkey. Then, each of the other eggs that you open up has a different object that’s designed to walk you through the events of Holy Week, right up to the cross.
You open one of the “Resurrection Eggs”, and there are nails in it to signify the nails that were used to crucify Christ. Then, you get to the last egg. You open it up and there’s a surprise. I’m not going to give away the surprise, but kids get surprised when they open that last egg. It takes them by surprise, but it really does drive home the idea that Jesus is risen from the dead.
I’m thinking the “Resurrection Eggs”, together with “Behold the Lamb”, gives you opportunities—multiple opportunities, throughout the day—maybe one in the morning, one in the evening—different ways that you can communicate this to children and can remind yourself of what happened during the first Holy Week, back when Jesus was crucified.
Dennis: And I also know this is really part of what, both, Barbara and I pound the table about—that goes all the way back to Deuteronomy 6. We really believe it’s the parents’ responsibility to pass on the truth about God and your experience—your own experience—with God and with Jesus Christ to your children.
Barbara: Yes. Really, it’s more than just our responsibility. It’s really our privilege to be the one who can communicate the truth of what you know about God, what you know about Jesus Christ, and your relationship with Him—to be able to do that with your children in such a way that your children catch that, and they understand that, and they, then, want that. There’s no greater joy on earth than being able to lead your children to know Christ so that they, too, will one day be in heaven with you.
Bob: I have to tell you. Just looking at the wreath—and again, I hope our listeners will go to FamilyLifeToday.com to see what the wreath looks like because you can’t appreciate it until you have a chance to see the wreath—the “I AM” banner that goes across the middle, the metallic banner—the pedestal on which the wreath sits so that you can either hang it in your home or—
What I imagine what will happen at our home—and I say, “I imagine,” because Mary Ann is in charge of home decorations. I have zero to do; and as you know, that’s a good thing—
Dennis: It is a good thing.
Bob: —that I have zero to do—
Dennis: I have experience.
Bob: —with how the home is decorated—but I imagine that this will be placed on a tabletop in our living room, or I could also see it on the front hall table—“the mail table” —we call it.
Dennis: Where you come in your house?
Bob: Yes, where you come in the house.
Barbara: That’s what I was thinking.
Bob: It’s right there, on that front hall table. I can see, honestly, when Easter is over, this not getting packed up and put back in the box because it doesn’t just say, “Easter”. It says, “I AM”—
Bob: —and you can make that statement year-round.
Bob: Then, come Thanksgiving, next year, you’ll have the new banner. We can take down the magnetic “I AM” banner. We can put up the one that says, “Forget not”, and you use that to remind yourself and others of the things you’re thankful for. You can put those cards in the wreath, as you go through that.
Then, at Valentine’s Day in 2014, we’ll take down the “Forget not”, and we’ll put up—I don’t know—“Love” or whatever—
Barbara: Something about love.
Bob: Something about love.
Barbara: We don’t know yet.
Bob: And so, I can see this being a permanent fixture on our mail table or on that living room table. I’m not sure where it’ll go, but I’ll report back to you on that.
Barbara: You can let me know.
Dennis: Well, the big idea is to recapture the message of Easter and pass it on to your kids.
I remember, for me, as a college student, the message of Easter—that the tomb is empty, that Christ is alive from the dead, and that there was great evidence from history that Jesus had defeated death—that became—in my opinion, for my faith, for who I am as a follower of Christ today—really a center point—the foundation of my faith because if you could disprove the Resurrection, if you could disprove that Christ came back from the dead, you could disprove Christianity. As some have said, “All of Christianity rises and falls on whether Jesus Christ did defeat death and whether that tomb truly was empty.”
And a good friend of mine, Josh McDowell, wrote a book called Evidence That Demands a Verdict. I heard him speak, as a college student, and present the evidence for the Resurrection—the true message of Easter—that Christ had died for our sins, He defeated death and was alive—and because He was alive, He could come into my life—forgive me of my sin, and give me purpose and meaning.
I just wonder, right now, if we’re not talking to somebody, who’s listened in to this broadcast, who doesn’t know Him—and I’d just say to you:
If you don’t know Him, it’s time. It’s time for you to surrender. Say: “Lord, Jesus, You’re alive from the dead. You’re here.” He’s the One who promised you eternal life. He promised you forgiveness of sins. He promised He’d come into your life—change your life, and begin to make you the kind of man—the kind of woman, the kind of boy/girl—that God created you to be. Take Him up on His claim. Right now, you can do it. It’s just a simple matter of speaking to Him in prayer.
Bob: Yes, in fact, if you go to our website at FamilyLifeToday.com, look over on the left side of the screen. One of the headings there says, “Two Ways to Live”. If you click on there, it’ll explain to you what it means to be a follower of Jesus, what it means to be a Christian. There really are two ways to live. There is the way of self, and there’s the way of surrender. That’s what is explained to you when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the link on the left side that says, “Two Ways to Live”.
While you’re on the website, look for more information about what we’ve been talking about today—the “Behold the Lamb” wreath that Barbara Rainey has created and designed—not just for Easter—but as we’ve said, this is something that we hope families are going to use in a variety of settings, all year-long. You can see it, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call, toll-free, at 1-800-FL-TODAY for more information about the “Behold the Lamb” wreath from Barbara Rainey.
Let me also mention our “Resurrection Eggs”. If you don’t have a set—if you’d like to send a set to friends or relatives—maybe send it to your children so they can use it with your grandchildren—go to FamilyLifeToday.com to order a set of “Resurrection Eggs”.
And there’s a new story book that’s been written called Lily’s Easter Party that can be used in conjunction with the “Resurrection Eggs”. Details are online; and you can order from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call, toll-free, 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.
You know, the claim of the Resurrection—the claim that Jesus was raised from the dead—is central to our faith. Yet, it is something that we have to accept by faith. It’s something that we can’t validate empirically; but we can validate it, historically. Author and former journalist, Lee Strobel, took a hard look at the historical evidence for the Resurrection. What he came up with is what he calls The Case for Easter.
This week, if you are able to help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation, of any amount, we would like to say, “Thank you for your support,” by sending you a copy of Lee Strobel’s book, The Case for Easter. This will encourage you as you read it. It will help strengthen your own faith, but it will also give you important historical data you can share with others as you engage around the subject of the Resurrection during the Easter season.
Keep in mind, FamilyLife Today is listener-supported. The reason we ask you to make an online donation is because those donations are what go to cover the cost of producing and syndicating this daily radio program. So, if you are able to go to FamilyLifeToday.com this week, click on the button that says, “I CARE”. Make an online donation. We’ll be happy to send you a copy of Lee Strobel’s book, The Case for Easter. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Make a donation over the phone; and ask for the book, The Case for Easter, when you get in touch with us. We just want to say, “Thanks,” in advance, for whatever you are able to do in support of the ministry of FamilyLife Today. We very much appreciate you.
And we hope you can be back with us again tomorrow. Barbara Rainey will be here again, and Tracey Eyster is going to join us. Tracey is a mom. She’s an author and a blogger. Barbara and Tracey are going to share with us some creative ideas other moms have shared with them about how to make Easter a special time at your house. So, we’ll talk about that tomorrow. Hope you can be with us.
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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