Jesus, the Bright and Morning Star
About the Guest
Give the gift that can't be bought and wrapped. Barbara Rainey and Tracy Lane remind listeners that Christmas is the perfect time to tell others about Jesus, especially your children. For the past six years, Ever Thine Home® has created unique Christmas ornaments that reveal who Christ is. Lane shares how hiding this year's new star ornaments for her girls to find is a fun way to teach them about Jesus, the Bright and Morning Star.
Barbara Rainey and Tracy Lane remind listeners that Christmas is the perfect time to tell others about Jesus, especially your children.
Jesus, the Bright and Morning Star
Bob: This season of the year is not just a season of joy, it’s also a season of profound meaning if we know what Christmas is all about. Here’s Barbara Rainey.
Barbara: The only way to have meaning in your life is to know Jesus Christ, because that’s the source of real purpose / real identification with why we’re here. To make your Christmas meaningful, it has to be about Him. Christmas is a perfect opportunity / a perfect time, because we’re thinking about Jesus anyway—we’re singing songs about Him. [Away in a Manger]
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, November 28th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Will your Christmas season be a spiritually-focused season? That’s the question we’ll tackle today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition.
So you did not—last Friday morning you didn’t get up at 6 and go stand in line at Best Buy or someplace; did you?
Dennis: I did not; I did not.
Bob: Barbara, you didn’t either?
Barbara: No; I did not, and I never have; nor do I ever really want to, honestly.
Tracy: You would have missed it at 6; you’d have to be there at 11.
Barbara: Yes; she’s right.
Tracy: You have to miss your Thanksgiving dinner.
Bob: Did you do any of that?
Dennis: Camp out—you have to camp out.
Tracy: You have to camp out.
Barbara: Well, they’re moving it back every year. Stores are opening—instead of opening at 5 or 6 a.m., they’re opening at midnight or who knows when.
Bob: I like to get a deal—
Barbara: —but not that badly.
Bob: —I like to sleep. [Laughter] You put those two together, and I like to sleep more than I like to get a deal.
Bob: I go: “You know what? It’s worth 50 bucks for me to sleep in a little extra this morning on the day after Thanksgiving.” When you can do it all, like yesterday, online, just whenever you want to, that makes the whole thing a whole lot easier; right?
Barbara: I think a lot of people really like Cyber Monday shopping over Black Friday shopping.
Bob: Now today is the day that we’re supposed to kind of purge all of our shopping—instead of thinking who we’re going to buy gifts for, we think about giving; right?
Dennis: Yes; and I just want to go to a big picture about giving—to the assignment that is given to parents. One of the passages, Bob, that I have just been—I don’t know, it’s just been bouncing around in my heart that we’re not doing this, and it’s Psalm 78—it says, “He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers to teach to their children.”
We’re coming up on gift-giving time. One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is to teach them the truth about who God is—that’s what the command of the Scripture is—Psalm 78. But also what it commands us to do is to give them the gift of sharing how Jesus Christ has impacted your life and how the gift of eternal life took up its residence in your soul.
As a mom and a dad, you received the best gift of all. Here we are, on Giving Tuesday. I think this would be a great time—tonight, at the dinner table—for families to gather around and talk about the greatest gift that has ever been given, and how we have the opportunity to begin to give that gift to other people when we share how Jesus Christ has changed our lives.
I think what parents are looking for today is—I think parents are looking for ways to practically pass on their testimonies—to practically pass on the truth about who God is, and His law, and how to live, and how He expects us to do life. Barbara and Tracy and the team, here, at FamilyLife, called Ever Thine Home®, have come up with some practical ways, especially at the Christmas season, to be able to pass on and give your children the truth about God.
Tracy: I think you’re right; I think that’s what we want to do. So many times, we don’t know how to do that; because we’re doing so many practical things—that are things that need our attention right now—and we forget that’s really what needs our attention, right now, today. That’s what I love about what we’re doing at Ever Thine Home—we’re giving parents / we’re putting it right into their hands: “This is a way to do that, tonight, at the dinner table. You don’t have to come up with anything—you don’t have to brainstorm / you don’t even have to text each other during the day which verse you’re going to read tonight—you just read the stories that go with the ornaments.” Making it practical: “We can do that. We can make time for that.”
Dennis: You speak of ornaments. There’s a big idea that you’ve come up with, Barbara, over the last six years, that really does take the season of Christmas—a time that we are celebrating the birth of Christ and who He is—to help parents to be able to do that in a practical way.
Barbara: Yes; for the last six years, we’ve created a new set of ornaments every year.
Each set focuses on a different topic related to Jesus and who He is in the names that we have put on the ornaments or are the ornaments themselves. After six years, we have, I guess, 30-something; is that right?—maybe it’s more than that.
Dennis: Oh, it’s over 30.
Barbara: It’s over 30—anyway, we have a lot of names of Jesus on ornaments—[Laughter]—different sizes, and different shapes, and different colors of ornaments—that can make your Christmas tree all about Jesus. We all know that Jesus is the reason for the season. We’re trying to make it easy for moms and dads, and families, and grandparents, too, to make your Christmas holiday focused on Jesus and give you easy ways to teach your children who He is, why He was born in a manger in Bethlehem, why He was born to die—the whole story. The whole gospel story is wrapped up in His names. We’ve created these to make it easy for families to make the main thing the most important thing in your holiday experience.
Bob: There’s a verse in 2 Timothy that—I remember when I read this—and it kind of struck me as being odd. Second Timothy is the last letter the Apostle Paul wrote that we still have. If you look at the chronology of stuff in the New Testament, as far as we can tell, this would be the last letter he wrote. Timothy was his protégé. Timothy, at this point, was a pastor of a church in Ephesus. Paul was in Rome—he was writing to his son in the faith. He is writing to him about pastoral responsibilities and what you have to do.
You get to 2 Timothy, Chapter 2, verse 8—and here’s what Paul writes: “Timothy, remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound in chains as a criminal.” I remember reading that and going, “Here’s Paul talking to a pastor; and he says, ‘Remember Jesus.’”
Bob: And the reason he says it is because pastors forget, and so do parents, and so do all of us. Martin Luther used to say, “The reason I preach the gospel every Sunday is because, every week, I forget it.”
Bob: Unless we are doing things to deliberately remind ourselves of the spiritual reality in which we’re living, we can get so caught up in the temporal reality that we lose focus. That’s the reason for having holiday decorations that just keep it front of mind, so you can’t turn around without going, “Oh yes; Jesus,” “Oh yes; Jesus,”—right?
Dennis: Practically speaking, Christmas has become all about tangible gifts that we give; and yet, there’s an intangible part of every human being called a soul. Every person has a soul.
Our nation is in desperate need of hearing the reality about their soul—that they need a Savior to take up residence in their lives, where they can be forgiven and know they have eternal life; but secondly, they can get to know God so they can live life as God intended it.
Barbara: And really, we talk about making your Christmas meaningful. The only way to have meaning in your life is to know Jesus Christ; because that’s the source of real meaning, real purpose, real identification with why we’re here. He has the answers to everything. So to make your Christmas meaningful, it has to be about Him. If you don’t know Him, or people in your family don’t know Him, or your children don’t know Him, Christmas is a perfect opportunity / a perfect time, because we’re thinking about Jesus anyway—we’re singing songs about him.
We would love to help you with the content—the books that come with our ornaments or other resources that FamilyLife offers. We would love to help you get to know Him, because that’s what Christmas is all about.
In fact, we have a good friend, who works here at our offices. With the very first set of ornaments that came out five years ago, this friend of ours was reading the stories that come with the ornaments to his children. His young son—after one of the stories was over—he looked at his dad and said, “I don’t think I know Jesus as Lord,” because the name that they were reading about is Christ the Lord. It was a perfect opportunity for this dad to talk to his son about what it means to know Christ: “What does it mean to invite Jesus Christ into your life?”
That’s how you make Christmas meaningful—is by talking about the One who came at Christmas—the One who initiated this idea in the first place—and get to know Him over the month of December. It’s a great opportunity to make your family grow together and to grow personally in your soul, as you were talking about, Dennis, in our relationship with Him.
Bob: Tracy, you have a young family.
You also work, here, at FamilyLife. It’s hard to get the mind-share to get a plan to know how to help your kids celebrate Jesus Christ at Christmas. Has this helped you? And if it has, how have you used it to help celebrate Christ with your kids?
Tracy: Yes; this has been huge for us. We have a daughter who’s five and a daughter who’s three. When we were first pregnant with our first daughter, a wise mentor said to me: “Your kids only have so much mental capacity, and you only have so much time. It might feel forever right now—you haven’t even had your first child yet, she’s still growing in your womb—but you really only have a certain amount of time, and they can only hold so much in their little minds. Sure, you could hang just some gold globes on your tree, for example; you could listen to The Wheels on the Bus—there’s nothing wrong with that. But if they can only hold so much and you only have so many times to hang ornaments with them, shouldn’t you make it about what really matters?”
That has stuck with me, and I hope it does through the entirety of our parenting. We’ve really tried to focus our home with that perspective. So, this is a perfect way—at Christmas, we do have some plain gold globes—those are not the ones they like to hang, actually, because we’ve made such a big deal about the names of Jesus. We’ve tried to set these apart and hang them, one a night, and read the story that goes in the book that goes along with that name—one each night.
And my kids—like I said—I kind of thought they were too young for this when we started doing it. They weren’t—they understood the significance of Christ. That is so exciting for me to see, because you can start when they’re babies. It’s what they are going to learn, growing up. I’m so thankful that I have the resources of Ever Thine Home to do that in our home.
It gives us a way to do it, and it puts my husband and me on the same page—we have a lot of different ideas, or I may be doing more of the parenting research than he’s doing, and he might be hoping that he could throw something in—this gives us a plan together so we’re not arguing over who did more research, but it gives us a plan together—
—that parts out of the way. Our kids can be excited to listen to the story, to hang the ornaments, and it is something significant. They want to keep these ornaments out year-round because we make such a big deal about them—they don’t want to put them away! So we have them all over our house all the time. I hope they still have glitter on them for our Christmas tree in a couple of days, but—[Laughter]
Barbara: It may all be worn off! [Laughter]
Bob: When Barbara designed the stars this year, you had the thought, “Hmm, rather than hiding elves, we could hide stars around the house.”
Tracy: Yes; because—again, like my friend told me when I was first pregnant: “You know, other things aren’t bad / it’s not that something else is bad; but ‘What’s the best way you can use this with your children?’” This gives us a way to still participate in this fun Advent activity—they’re looking forward to finding Baby Jesus under the tree on Christmas morning.
What we’re doing this year is hiding the star in different places. We’re doing it every day—taking one of the stars. Each girl gets a different day to find it, because there would be terrible hair-pulling if they were both racing for the same star. [Laughter]
They have assigned days / they find the ornament on that day; and then we’ll get to talk about the name. We’ll get to talk about how that name can play into what we have going on that day—how that real person of Jesus can be alive and available today for a five-year-old and a three-year-old. It’s a perfect tool—they’re excited about it, and we’re really excited to do it.
Bob: When our kids were little—on Valentine’s Day, I would hide goodies around the house for them; but I would give clues so that they would go and get the next clue here and the next clue there—a treasure hunt, with clues along the way. Well, it took a little while to put that together; but I knew it wasn’t just about what I was doing the next day. I knew I was building something that, decades from now, would still be a part of what mattered to them, growing up.
So yes; putting the clues together and hiding things probably took me 20 minutes the night before. That’s 20 minutes I could have been—I don’t know, looking at Google; right?
Tracy: Right. [Laughter]
Bob: Instead, I was saying, “This is important.” To hide the stars or even to create a treasure map, where the kids can find it, you’re really making an investment—not just in what tomorrow’s going to look like—but what, 20 years from now, will still matter to them.
Barbara: And I think a part of what’s so fun about that / what children love about it is they love anticipation. I think adults love anticipation. It’s—to me, the whole concept of anticipating is wound up in our faith. I mean, Jesus tells us He’s coming back—He tells us to be on the alert and to watch for Him coming. When we do these kinds of traditions with our kids, where we’re teaching them the values of anticipation—that it’s a fun activity that we get to do together—we’re training them / we’re introducing them to the concept of anticipating the future—anticipating what God is going to have for us someday.
I love the idea, and I wish we had had it when we were raising our kids. Maybe you and I can do it with our grandkids this year—I don’t know—but I just the love the idea, though, of hiding the star. We’re, internally, calling it “Follow the Star” because that’s what the wise men did—they were anticipating finding Jesus, and that anticipation led them on a journey to follow the star.
Dennis: Well, there are three stars you’ve created that are wooden—wooden stars that are gold—and they have different names on them: “Jesus is Eternal Father,” “[Jesus is] the Bright Morning Star,” and “[Jesus is] the Alpha and Omega.”
I just want to ask Tracy: “Are you just hiding one of these or are you hiding all three?”
Tracy: I’m doing one each day. Something that I think is really neat—I’m not exactly sure how it’s going to play out yet—but we were talking about something we need to be doing is showing our kids how to give the good news as well.
We have to give it to them, and they have to give it. So my oldest, Audrey, has already asked when she gets to hide the star for Annie, our youngest. I can see a conversation with us happening—like, “Yes, you want to be able to give this exciting good news away for someone else that you love too.” I’ll probably let each of them hide it a couple times, too, for the other one and be able to encourage them, “Yes; you’re beginning to share who Jesus is with someone else, even in this small way in our home.”
Dennis: And what I’d say is—as you try this out with your kids or grandkids, write us and tell us what happened. I have a feeling that, as youngsters follow the star, there are going to be some great stories coming in.
Barbara: I agree. I think it’s a fun idea, and it’s worth trying. I’d love to hear from listeners too.
Dennis: Go, online, to FamilyLifeToday.com and leave us a message about the story.
Bob: You know, we started off by talking about the fact that this is Giving Tuesday. One of the things Mary Ann and I have done, for years, at the end of the year—
—we usually do it later in the month of December—but we stop and ask: “What organizations, what individuals, [and] what ministries has God used in our lives this past year?” and “How can we respond / how can we say, ‘Thank you,’ to those organizations?” We also have stopped and asked, “Are there people that we could reach out to—that we could encourage / that we could bless—that we could share Christ with at Christmas?” and “Are there some unique ways to do that?”
With the resources you’ve created, Barbara, it’s possible for somebody to kind of kill two birds with one stone. They could give these ornaments as gifts to neighbors or friends and, at the same time, what they’re doing is helping to support the work we do, here, at FamilyLife; because how much money have you made off of these ornaments that you’ve created over the last six years?
Barbara: Zero. [Laughter]
Bob: I mean, everything that people spend on this goes right back into the ministry that we do.
Barbara: That’s right; that’s exactly right.
Dennis: And this year, you’re actually putting together five different sets of these names. To your point, Bob—about sharing with other people—there are five different sets. One of them is called “His Christmas Names,” from Luke and Isaiah; and another set is “His Royal Names”—these are in the shape of crowns. You have another one—“His Name Among the Nations,” which is the name of Jesus in five different languages / the top-five languages of the world; and then “His Advent Names” that you created last year, which also are names of Christ. You could get this entire collection of five different sets of names. This will give you a natural opportunity to be able to share Christ with a bunch of neighbors or family members as you move toward the Christmas season.
Tracy: Yes; and what I love about Ever Thine Home is: “You’re doing this—you’re doing Christmas.” We know you’re decorating your tree / you’re celebrating. When you buy from us, at Ever Thine Home—you’re not just impacting your family for eternity—
—what you’re doing with that money that you’re investing here—it’s going back into our marriage ministry at FamilyLife. You are impacting other families around the world for eternity.
Think of all the marriages you know that are failing. Those marriages are really hard to speak into. What do you do?—just go and say, “Hey, I know you’re having a hard time. Here’s this ornament”? You know, how do you do that? I think a lot of us are struggling with “What do we say?” or is it just so common now that we say nothing? Well, if you buy an ornament for your tree from Ever Thine Home, you’ve done something—you’ve done something to help your sister; you’ve done something to help your high school best friend; you are changing your own family and those other families simply by doing something that you’re already going to be doing. This is where it’s worth it / this is where it makes a difference every day.
Dennis: And in terms of Giving Tuesday, it’s just good for our listeners to know that this broadcast is brought to you by other listeners—listeners who give. Maybe you’re one of those who has made a gift to FamilyLife Today to keep us on the air.
I want to say, “Thanks,” on this Giving Tuesday, for making this broadcast possible.
I just got a letter from a doctor, who wrote us and said: “Hearing the truth from the Scriptures about marriage and family and how to do life God’s way changed my life. I had some drive time, and I started listening to FamilyLife Today. I’m telling you—you have changed the course of my life, as a mom / a working mom. I just want to say, ‘Thank you,’ because this culture is made up of all kinds of messages and all kinds of distortions of truth. You’re helping me discern what the truth is and, importantly, pass it on to my children.”
So, if you believe that’s a good mission—keeping FamilyLife Today on the air and keeping us coming out of the Scriptures every day to your marriage, your family, your extended family—then this is a good time.
This is a good time to be generous as you reach out to neighbors, but also to maybe consider investing in what FamilyLife Today is all about.
Bob: Well, and these are great resources for being able to reach out easily and winsomely to people who may not otherwise be going to church or people who aren’t following Jesus. This is a season where these kinds of engagements can occur a little more naturally. I think, Barbara, what you’ve created makes it easy for us to engage with friends, and neighbors, and family members.
In fact, I want to encourage our listeners to go, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com—see the new set of ornaments that you’ve created this year, “The Eternal Names of Jesus” / three ornaments that are available—along with a myriad of other resources designed so that your home can declare the glory of Christmas. Again, find all that Barbara has created, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. You can order from us, easily, online; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to order.
And keep in mind—this is Giving Tuesday. We’d encourage you—if God has used the ministry of Family Life in your life this year—through this radio program, articles that are available online, the resources we’ve created, maybe you’ve been to one of our Weekend to Remember® getaways this year—would you consider, on this Giving Tuesday, joining with us and helping to make this ministry available to more people more regularly? Every time you donate, you expand the reach of FamilyLife Today and more people are touched by this ministry.
And it’s easy to donate online. You can do that at FamilyLifeToday.com, or you can call if you’d like to donate that way. Our number, again, is 1-800-358-6329—1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.” Or you can mail a donation to us at FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223.
Now, tomorrow, we want to talk about what the Bible has to say to us about how we make peace when there is no peace—whether that’s in a marriage, with a son or a daughter, a neighbor, an extended relative—“How can we pursue peace and resolve conflict?” Lou Priolo’s going to join us tomorrow to talk about that. I hope you can be back with us as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with 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; a Cru® Ministry.
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