My Brother, My Friend
About the Guest
Barbara Rainey reminds us that Christmas isn't about falling in love with your life or the season, but about falling in love with Jesus. In our culture, names don't have a lot of meaning, but in biblical times they did. God reveals who He is by telling us his names, like Emmanuel - God with us. Over the past seven years, Barbara has designed Christmas ornaments that boast of God's powerful names. This year's ornaments are His Family Names--Provider, Teacher, Friend, and Brother.
In our culture, names don’t have a lot of meaning, but in biblical times they did. God reveals who He is by telling us his names, like Emmanuel – God with us.
My Brother, My Friend
Bob: The way to make the celebration of Christmas in your home more meaningful is to have a deeper knowledge/a deeper relationship withthe person whose birthday we’re getting ready to celebrate. Here’s Barbara Rainey.
Barbara: I have grown to love Jesus so much more than I ever imagined I would, because I’ve studied His names. I’ve learned about Him—I know Him more than I did 15 years ago. It’s because I have learned more about who He is and what He came to do. Christmas is so much more meaningful to me than it ever was before, because I’m celebrating this person that I have come to know. Christmas is about love—it’s just about loving Jesus.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, November 28th. Our host is Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. What if you made it a priority, during the Christmas season this year, to get to know Jesus better?—not just you, but your whole family? We’re going to talk about an easy way to do that today.
Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition. Congratulations are in order for the 24th time; is that right?
Barbara: Yes, it is 24. [Laughter] It’s real hard for me to wrap my brain around that, but it is true—we now have 24 grandchildren.
Bob: By the way, this is Grandma Barbara Rainey, who is joining us again.
Barbara: Yes; Mimi—Mimi.
Bob: Mimi. Sorry; didn’t mean to—
Dennis: You need to correct yourself there, Bob.
Bob: That’s right; and Pops, what are you?
Dennis: No; Papa.
Bob: Papa is here as well. This is your daughter, Laura, and her husband Josh, who just had their first child—your 24th grandbaby. If our listeners are interested—I know many of them are—pictures, weight, all of that information—
Barbara: A whole bunch of things.
Bob: —you can go to FamilyLifeToday.com. There’s an Ever Thine Home® link there—you can click on the link. There are pictures; right? Everything’s there so that folks can join in the celebration of the season.
There is something fun about heading toward Christmas with a new baby in the family.
We’re talking about Christmas, because you have a passion to see moms and dads reclaim this season and focus on what it’s supposed to be all about.
Barbara: I do. I’ve talked about it a few times; I think I could talk about it in my sleep.
Yes; I do have a passion for making Christmas about a celebration of the birth of Christ—not Santas, and snowmen, and reindeer, and all of those other things that have become much more common in our celebration.
Bob: You’re not against those things; are you?
Barbara: Oh, no, no, no.
Bob: They just can’t dominate.
Barbara: That’s right, and they do dominate. We have to find a way to make the celebration of Jesus and His birth—and what He came to do for us—at least, equal with all of those things that are surrounding us. My preference would be that we elevate the celebration of who Jesus is—make our Christmas tree about Jesus and not about all these other things.
Bob: Back on November 1st, I got a text from Mary Ann; and it had exclamation points in it—it said, “This radio station has just started playing continuous Christmas music!” She was excited.
Bob: I remember listening, for a little while, with her in the car. It just dawned on me: “There’s nothing about Jesus,” in these songs that they were playing.
Barbara: That’s the sad thing—Christmas music used to be all Christmas hymns, and songs, and praise songs. Now, it’s—
Bob: Now, it’s: “Last Christmas I gave you my heart, and you gave it away,”—
Barbara: Yes; oh, I get so sick of that one.
Bob: —and All I Want for Christmas Is You. Those are all fun songs, and it helps bring you into the season; but after a while, there is a subtle impact that Christmas is about snow, and hot chocolate, and candy canes,—
Barbara: —and romance.
Bob: You have to say romance, because I like watching an occasional Hallmark Christmas movie.
Dennis: Keith, the engineer, said we’ve documented this.
Bob: They are so predictable and the stories—
Barbara: They are predictable.
Bob: —are just formulaic. We laugh; because I say the dialogue before the dialogue, actually, comes out the character’s mouths. But there’s just something about people falling in love, over Christmas, that is nice. But here’s the point—that’s not what Christmas is about. It’s not about finding the love of your life; it’s not about having a white Christmas; it’s not about candy canes and toys. Yet, those are the messages we’re getting, over and over again, from the culture.
To light a candle in that darkness has been a passion for you, and that’s what led to the development of Ever Thine Home.
Barbara: I would have to say, as a follow-up for what you just said: “Christmas is about finding the love of your life—it’s about falling in love with Jesus. We have taken romance to a level where that shouldn’t be. Our love really should be for Christ.”
I mean, I have grown to love Jesus so much more than I ever imagined I would; because I’ve studied His names. I’ve learned about Him—I know Him more than I did 15 years ago; more than I did 5 years ago. It’s because I have learned about who He is and what He came to do.
Christmas is so much more meaningful to me than it ever was before, because I’m celebrating this person that I have come to know—and all of who He is that I’ve come to know, which is just a teensy grain of sand in what we can know about Him. Christmas is about love—it’s just about loving Jesus.
Dennis: Our assignment, as parents—to teach the truth about God and then to talk about how He is changing our lives. Jesus came to this planet to save us, but He also came to this planet to work in and through us.
Dennis: That’s what parenting should be. We ought to be sharing with our kids what He’s doing in our life—
—how He’s changed our lives / how we encountered somebody in the marketplace and shared about Jesus Christ with them, here, at this holiday season.
Bob: You’re pulling this out of Psalm 78, where it talks about passing on, not only the truth about God, but also our testimony; right?
Dennis: Right; and it’s a warning, Bob, the passage talks about; so that there will not be a generation, who is rebellious/who doesn’t know God.
Again, the names of God, I think—and honestly, it really took Barbara doing this for me to understand—God is disclosing Himself to us. He does it through His names.
Barbara: Yes; yes.
Dennis: Well, there are names about God—over 300 according to scholars—at least, some scholars. What Barbara’s done is—she’s created a series of ornaments that proclaim His names in helping moms and dads and grandparents to introduce their children to the names of Christ, and who He is, and how that relates to their lives.
Bob: These are Christmas tree ornaments that, again, remind us of whose birthday we’re celebrating. When you talk about names here, we’re talking about titles—
Bob: —not given names—in the same way that I am a father, —
Barbara: That’s right.
Bob: —and I am a husband, and I’m a pastor, and I’m a radio host. Those are all titles for me. Jesus has, not just dozens, but hundreds of titles that remind us of His majesty and His glory.
Barbara: Right; and they tell us more about who He is. The titles you just listed for yourself tell a lot of people information about who you are that make you different from somebody else or a whole bunch of other people. The same is true for Jesus—that the names—when we learn about His names and who He is, it tells us a lot about Him—tells us all kinds of things that we didn’t know about Him, which helps us know Him better; because it’s all about a relationship. He came that He would have a relationship with us.
Knowing these truths about who He is makes Christmas meaningful, and that’s what so many people are longing for today. Christmas feels empty—it feels hollow; it feels shallow. People are tired of the excess; and they’re trying to figure out, “How do I make it meaningful?” Well, the way you make it meaningful is go back to what it’s all about—get to know Jesus—get to know who He is; learn His names. Make your holiday focused on Him, and you will discover meaning; because meaning comes from God alone.
Bob: Over the past seven years, you’ve designed, now, more than two dozen ornaments—each ornament with a different name or title for Jesus on it.
Barbara: Yes; right.
Bob: The starting place, each year—as you think about designing new ornaments—has been to open the Bible and to look at these different names and then to spend time studying, and meditating, and considering, and meditating again, and digging deeper into this. That process—before you ever get to designing an ornament—
—just to meditate on this name of Jesus, has to have had a profound impact on your understanding of who He is and your relationship.
Barbara: Yes; absolutely; there’s no question. I have loved getting to know who He is through His names. I have grown in my appreciation; I’ve grown in my affection; I’ve grown in my worship of who Jesus is and what He has done, because of what I have learned about Him through all of these different names of His.
I think names are a gateway to get to know people. I mean, when you first meet someone that you don’t know—and you’ve never been introduced before—the first thing we do is say: “Hi; I’m Barbara. What is your name?” That’s the introduction point—that’s sort of the gateway to get to know that person—is first, their name. Then you find out a little bit more about them. Jesus is no different—our introduction to Him, as children, is: “His name is Jesus.”
Well, there’s a lot more to Jesus than just that one name, just as there’s more to each of us than just our first name. We have more titles; we have gifts—there’s much more to us, as people. As you get to know who Jesus is, and get to know what He has done, and who He is by the different names that are assigned to Him in the Bible, you learn to know Him. When you learn to know Him—just as we get to know people—we begin to admire Him more; we love Him more; and we worship Him more.
Bob: You have a new set of ornaments this year—the “Family Names of Jesus.”
Bob: You’re talking about “Jesus is our brother”; “Jesus is our friend”; “Jesus is our provider”; “Jesus is our teacher.” Again, each of those gives us a different aspect/a different understanding of our relationship—how we relate to Jesus. And they’re done on chalkboards; right?
Barbara: Little house-shaped chalkboards.
Bob: You can’t erase them—they’re permanent.
Barbara: Right; right. Yes; they are. I chose to do it in the shape of a house, because all of us live in a home of some kind.
Your house may not actually be shaped that way—but home means safety; it means a shelter; it means that we’re together in a physical location, whether it’s a tent, or a hut, or a castle. Home incorporates that family relationship that all of us have.
We all came from a family, and Jesus lived in a family. He had a mom and a dad, and He had siblings, and He lived in some kind of a structure. I used that house shape as a representative of the family and where we all reside.
Dennis: As you mentioned earlier, home is all about relationships.
Dennis: And that’s what God’s trying to help parents do—is help them introduce their children to who He is and what He offers for their soul. There’s another series of ornaments called “His Advent Names,” which means “He came”; “He arrived”—and you have four of those as well. They’re in the shape of globes.
There’s one other one you have, Barbara, that I think is really powerful—that’s “His Eternal Names.”
Barbara: Yes; we designed this set last year. These names of Jesus are printed on gold stars. We tend to think of eternity when we think of the heavens, and we think of the Milky Way, and we think of all the stars that are out there. That helps children understand the immensity of God, in a little way—not completely, of course—but stars are a good way to envision eternity.
We have three gold stars with three of His eternal names: one is “Eternal Father”; one is “Alpha and Omega.” I remember “Alpha and Omega” so clearly; because, in the church that I grew up in was one of the names I learned long, long time ago of Jesus. On the church that I grew up in, the altar always had a cloth on it; and it had the alpha sign on the left and the omega sign on the right.
Bob: —the beginning and the end.
Barbara: —the beginning and the end. Jesus is identified in the Bible as the Alpha and Omega—that’s one of the names on one of these stars. And the third one is “Bright Morning Star.” It’s a name attributed to Jesus in Revelation—that He is our bright Morning Star—and so we made these names in the shape of stars.
Dennis: Barbara and I had an encounter in a Kentucky field, in the middle of summer, where we experienced a total eclipse—
Barbara: We did.
Dennis: —lasted for two minutes.
Bob: You saw a star go out and come back.
Barbara: —and come back. Yes; it was something else.
Dennis: I’m going to tell you something—Barbara and I had read an article in the Chicago newspaper. We were there, vacationing, for a couple of days. This guy wrote about it—and he wasn’t a believer—but you could hear him describing the glory of God. He was at a loss for words—he’d been all around the world; he’d experienced dozens of eclipses.
Barbara: He was what they call “eclipse chasers.”
Barbara: You know storm chasers; well, there are people who chase eclipses around the globe.
Dennis: I don’t know what’s behind the name, “Bright Morning Star”; but I have a little better understanding because of that eclipse.
Dennis: Tell them what happened.
Barbara: The eclipse was really much more than I ever expected it to be. Dennis and I hopped in a car; we drove to Kentucky, and we found this field. We got there on time, and we popped the back of the car. We sat back on the tailgate of the car. We had our little paper glasses that block out all of the light.
Bob: You’re just out in a random field somewhere?
Barbara: We’re in a random field. We actually had someone drive by on the random field, who asked us what we’re doing there. We told them what we were doing there; and we said, “We just want to watch the eclipse!”
Dennis: “We’re from Arkansas,” and he goes, “Aw, go ahead!”
Barbara: “Okay; you can stay as long as you leave when it’s over.” We said, “Fine.”
But anyway, we put on our fancy little glasses. We had this app on our phone that counted down the minutes and then the seconds until the total eclipse, when you could take your fancy glasses off. We had that playing, and it was counting it down.
I was really unprepared for how amazing it was to see this phenomenon. It was really worshipful to me. I realized, when I looked at that, that that’s a taste of what it’s going to be like to see Jesus someday; because you can’t look at the sun unless it’s in a total eclipse and, then, you can take your glasses off. What a picture for what it’s going to be like, someday—when the glasses that allow us not to see Jesus on earth because of our fallen-ness—when we take those off and we will see Jesus.
Seeing the eclipse was a foretaste, for me, of what it will be like to see Jesus in all of His glory, in all of His light, and all of His brightness and, as the ornament says, as the Bright Morning Star. We will be able to see Him as He is.
Dennis: Both Barbara and I wept.
Barbara: Oh, I did. I was not expecting that, but I couldn’t help it.
Dennis: She’s not a crier; and for her to cry—I’m just telling you—when He comes back the next time—
—here’s the thing—He’s been here, but He’s coming back; and this time, He’s not coming back as a baby.
Barbara: That’s right.
Dennis: I was thinking about this—as I was thinking about the Bright Morning Starand talking about “His Eternal Names”—Revelation, Chapter 19, verse 11 and about six or seven verses. Let me read it to you—just picture this in your mind:
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The One sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems, and He has a name written that no one knows but Himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped inblood, and the name by which He is called is The Word of God.
And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.
What a scene! Here’s the King of kings, and the Lord of lords on a white horse, followed by the armies of heaven.
From His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.
And then listen to this:
On His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
It’s going to all be real clear then. Time will be wrapped up, and we will see Him as He truly is.
Bob: Yes; and again, you see an ornament on your tree that says, “Jesus is the Bright and Morning Star” and that scene comes to mind.
You go, “Okay; this is not just about that little baby, who is over there in the manger.”
Bob: That’s where it all started, but this is much bigger than just a baby in a manger. This is Lord of lords and King of kings as we sing, “He shall reign forever and ever. Halleluiah, Halleluiah!”
Barbara: Amen and amen!
Bob: That’s right.
Barbara: That’s a part of the story of who Jesus is; and it’s a part of the story that our children need to know and that we need to be reminded of every day. But certainly, we need to be reminded of, at Christmas, that it’s not just about the baby in the manger—as worshipful and as wonderful as that is—that Jesus came as a tiny newborn, helpless infant—but He will come again. He will come and reign, and rule, and He will come as King of kings and Lord of lords.
Bob: With these eternal names that are in the shape of a star, you kind of imagined a fun activity for families.
Barbara: I did; yes.
Bob: I know one of the things that’s been popular over the last, I don’t know, five/ten years has been to hide an elf around the house—the Elf on a Shelf idea; right?
Barbara: Yes, that idea; I don’t know when it was hatched. Nonetheless, it has become very, very popular. I think it’s popular, because everybody loves to anticipate. It’s a part of why Christmas is such a fun season; because you see presents around the tree and people anticipate and wonder, “What is in it?” As fun as Elf on a Shelf is, there is nothing in that play activity that is about Christ / that’s about the reason for Christmas.
One fun thing that a family can do, if you’ve got kids—with the “Eternal Names” star ornaments—you can make an Elf on a Shelf-type game called “Follow the Star” with these star ornaments during the month of December. You can take one and hide one for your kids to find the next morning.
You can hide three of them, and have multiple kids find them the next morning. You can hide them once a week; you can hide them every day if you’ve got the energy and the motivation to do that.
In doing that, talk about how the wise men followed a literal star: “Where did the star take them? How did they know that there was a baby who was being born?”
Dennis: I think we need to be reminded that the story of Christmas is not a fable—it’s not some kind of fairytale.
Barbara: That’s right.
Dennis: This happened! God invaded earth; He came and clothed Himself in human flesh; and He made Himself known. He gave Himself many, many names; because He’s the One who named all the stars.
Dennis: But somehow, He gives us, as parents, the great privilege of introducing the King of kings, the Bright Morning Star, the Eternal Father, the Alpha and the Omega to our kids. They need to know Him.
Barbara: That’s right.
Dennis: They’ve got to know Him if they’re going to make it in their lifetimes, because they’re going to face difficult times.
Bob: If you want to see what Barbara has created around the names of Jesus for use during the holiday season, go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, and click the link for the Ever Thine Home website. You can order any of the Ever Thine Home ornaments: the “Advent Names,” the new “Family Names of Jesus,”—other series that are available. You can order them today.
In fact, if you order today, or any time before midnight on Friday, you can save
20 percent off the regular cost. All you have to do is enter the promo code, which is “FLT20” for FamilyLife Today. “FLT20”—enter that promo code. We’ll know you are a FamilyLife Today listener, and you’ll receive 20 percent off from Ever Thine Home. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the link there for Ever Thine Home. Of course, our prayer is these resources will make your holiday a more Christ-centered holiday.
You can use these resources as discipleship tools in your home.
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We look forward to hearing from you. We’d love to hear from you today.
We hope you can join us back tomorrow when we’re going to meet a young woman who, when she was 18 years old, learned from her doctor that she was irreversibly infertile. Chelsea Sobolik joins us, and we’ll hear how that news impacted her as a young college student. I hope you can join us as we meet Chelsea tomorrow.
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 tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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