References to conferences, resources, or other special promotions may be obsolete.
Making Jesus Our Focus
Guest: Barbara Rainey
From the series: How Pinterest Stole Christmas (Day 2 of 2)
Air date: December 2, 2014
Bob: When you get to December 26th, and you look back on the last couple of weeks, how will you determine whether the time leading up to Christmas was a success? Barbara Rainey says you’ve got to have your priorities right.
Barbara: Moms can look at all the things on their list—they can look at the cookies, and the Christmas cards, and the gifts, and all of that stuff—and decide, “What is really most important?” If, at the top of your list, you say, “Teaching my kids about Christ in the month of December,” some of those other things on your list might have to go. If you don’t get the cookies done, no one’s going to remember; but your kids might remember some of what they heard about Jesus. That’s worth more than any of the traditions you’re trying to keep.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, December 2nd. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We want to do what we can do today to help out so that, when you do get to December 26th, you can look back and say, “That was a good Christmas season.” Stay tuned.
Bob: And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. So, is it true that you moved, years ago, out to the end of a street so you wouldn’t have to put up lights on your—[Laughter] That’s what I was told—you said, “I want to be where I don’t have to go through that every year.”
Dennis: We moved into the country, just over the hill—[Laughter] —so no one drives by our house.
Bob: We do have your wife, Barbara, joining us again on FamilyLife Today. Barbara, welcome to FamilyLife Today.
Bob: We’re glad you’re joining us this week because we want to talk about how overwhelming Christmas can be / the holiday season can be—particularly, for moms—particularly, when you have kids of all ages with all kinds of priorities of their own.
This is a season of the year where, not only are the activities highlighted, but you’ve got an objective around trying to get ready for the big day that includes buying presents and decorating the home. Decorating the home is something that—I’ve been in your home at Christmas.
Dennis: Oh, my! Oh, yes—in fact, here’s what happens. [Laughter] About the first of November, she says, “I think I want you to go to the attic and pull down all of the boxes.”
Barbara: That is not true!
Dennis: Now this takes a small, load-bearing piece of equipment called a “husband” to go get the boxes.
Dennis: It’s a piece of work at our place.
Bob: And the transformation of your home into Christmas mode—is it a full-day job to get the decorating done?
Barbara: Well, yes. If I started in the morning and went all day, it probably would; but I don’t stay that focused, so it’s pieces of several days.
Bob: So, for pieces of several days, you are going to be consumed for part of that with decorating the house.
Were you doing this when the kids were little?
Bob: How did you do it?!
Barbara: I let other things go because it was more important to me than other things.
Bob: What was important? Why were you decorating the house?
Barbara: I think the reason—and I did this when I was a kid too—my mother, bless her heart, was very, very generous with allowing me to express my creativity and my artistic vision for what our house should look like. She let me decorate our house when I was a kid. I set up a card table in my bedroom. I was the gift-wrapping queen of the whole house—I wrapped my own gifts / I wrapped gifts for everybody else because I wanted it to be magical—I wanted it to be beautiful. I just had this vision of what it should be like.
Bob: Now, you’re decorating everybody’s house—that’s what you’re doing! [Laughter] This whole—all of these resources you’ve been working on in Ever Thine Home®—you just want to decorate everybody’s house in the world; don’t you?
Barbara: No, I really don’t want to decorate everybody else’s house. [Laughter] I want everybody’s Christmas trees—people who are putting up Christmas trees—and I realize not everybody puts up a Christmas tree—but for those who do—I think our Christmas trees should be about Christ. That’s really what I want.
Bob: Over the last three years, you have created ornaments to put on Christmas trees. We call them Adorenaments®. The first year, you put out a set of seven ornaments that were all about the Christmas names of Christ—
Bob: —from Luke, Chapter 2, and from Isaiah, Chapter 9. Then, last year, the royal names. Those were the shapes of crowns.
Bob: And you’ve got a third set of ornaments / seven ornaments this year. These are the Savior names. Where did you come up with the list of seven Savior names?
Barbara: You know, choosing seven is tough because there are some that can go both ways.
Barbara: But I just started—as I’ve been reading through the Bible, every time I see a name of Christ, whether in the Old Testament or in the New, I’ve just got this running list—I’ve been throwing them on there.
Then I’ll look at it and kind of go, “Okay, which ones are…?”—anyway, I’ve just kind of created these categories.
Bob: “Which ones are grouped together?”—is that what you’re doing?
Barbara: Yes, I’m just grouping the names that I’m finding together by topic. So, for instance, last year—His royal names: King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Lion of Judah, and Son of David. Those are about His rulership. Those are about His royalty / His dominion that He has and will have. All of those made sense to go together as a group.
This year, the names include “Anointed One.” Jesus was anointed and set apart, from before time began, to be our Savior—to die for us. Another name that is a Savior name is “Chief Cornerstone.” That’s a name that talks about His place as the foundation of the Christian faith and the foundation of our lives, as believers.
Another Savior name is “Great High Priest.” I love “Great High Priest” because—if you know anything about Jewish history / you know anything about the nation of Israel—for centuries, there was a great high priest who went into the temple and made sacrifices—year after year, after year, after year, after year—it was never enough. So, when Jesus came, He came as our Great High Priest—He sacrificed His life for us, once for all. One of my favorite phrases in Scripture is “once for all”—I absolutely love it!
Another name is “Lamb of God.” This is a phrase that many of us also recognize and really understand about Jesus. John the Baptist said that of Jesus. When he saw Him, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” John recognized that Jesus was, not only the Great High Priest, but He, in His body, was the actual sacrifice—the sacrificial lamb—on our behalf. So, “Lamb of God” is another Savior name.
Another one is “Mediator.” That’s probably a name that’s not as commonly recognized by believers—maybe, I’m assuming something that’s not true; but it wasn’t one that was especially familiar to me—but “Mediator.” We understand the concept of mediator: When kids get into a fight on the playground, usually a teacher or an aide has to help resolve the problem. Adults get into arguments and they have to have a judge or a lawyer—I mean, we’re all cognizant of the term “mediator” and what it means.
Well, that’s what Jesus did for us—He mediated. He came to be the go-between between us and His Father. So “Mediator” is another Savior name.
Then there’s “Messiah.” Messiah is the Jewish name for Savior. I love thinking about Jesus as my Messiah—not just as my Savior—but as my Messiah because He died for His people, but also for us, as Gentiles. So, Messiah is one.
And, then, the last one of the seven is “Redeemer.” Redeemer is a word that’s used throughout Scripture to talk about purchasing us back. It’s really a strong word. In the book of Ruth—the story of Ruth—the redeemer was a key part of that story. Jesus came to be our redeemer—to purchase us back from our broken, fallen state that we can’t get out of on our own. He came to fix it so that we could, then, be brought back to the Father.
Dennis: And, Bob, the thing I love about these names is that they’re all on a wooden plaque, on unique crosses from history. For instance, Redeemer is on a Celtic cross from Ireland. It has a circle that encompasses the cross, which has significance to the country of Ireland and some of their spiritual ancestry there.
“Messiah” is on a cross that’s my favorite out of all of them. It’s an anchor cross. I have to read—you know, all of these Adorenaments come with a book that give you a devotional to read each day that takes three or four minutes to read the whole thing. The anchor cross says this: “The anchor cross has symbolized hope since the early days of the church. Hebrews 6: 19-20 tells us, ‘We have this a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place where Jesus has gone on our behalf.’ As an anchor holds a ship in place, so the anchor of Christ’s work as Messiah holds us steady in the winds of life. This hope does not disappoint.” I just think, “How cool it is that—throughout history, there was a cross in the shape of an anchor.”
“Mediator” is the St. Thomas cross—cool cross that has a dove coming in from the top. The “Lamb of God” is the Jerusalem cross. As you were sharing about that a moment ago, Barbara, I thought, “It’s significant that the Lamb of God came to Jerusalem because that’s where they sacrificed the lambs in the Holy of Holies on behalf of the sin of the people on an annual basis.”
The last three are: The “Great High Priest” is the Ethiopian cross; the “Chief Cornerstone” is the Coptic cross; and the “Anointed One” is the trefoil cross.
Bob: And if people want to see these different cross designs and the Adorenaments, they can go to EverThineHome.com. They’re on display there. Of course, you can order from the website if you want.
I’m just curious—because I’ve been to your home. On the front table, at Christmas, there’s usually a little stand that’s got a 45 record there; right? Do you know what I’m talking about?
Barbara: Yes, I do. I’m impressed that you remember those details.
Bob: It is red vinyl. I can’t remember if it’s Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree or something like that.
Barbara: Actually, it’s probably The First Noel.
Bob: Okay; but you have, decorating your home, snowmen, and snowflakes, and—
Barbara: Actually, I used to.
Bob: Yes, I’ve seen it change over the years.
Barbara: Yes, it has changed over the years. I used to have snowmen, and I used to have some Santas around—I used to have some of those things. I think it’s because I couldn’t find anything else. I just kind of went along with what was available. I had a little snowman collection that I put up—I had some of those things. Really and truly, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with all of that. I don’t want anybody to feel guilty if you’ve got Santas and snowmen because there’s really nothing wrong with it; but I really wanted more, and I just couldn’t find anything else.
I still put that little red vinyl record up because it is a record from my childhood. We used to play those things—my brothers and I—over and over again. The side that says, The First Noel, I prop up and I put that one up because it is about Christ.
I’m changing in these years of my life to making our home more focused on Christ at Christmas and less on the traditional things that populate all of the stores, and all of the malls, and all of the airwaves, even for that matter.
Bob: We have some ornaments at our house—I don’t remember how old this one is—but it’s Snoopy on top of a Christmas present, hanging on the tree. We’ve had it for years. It’s kind of one of those heirloom-type ornaments, at this point. Are you still putting stuff like that on your Christmas tree?
Barbara: I’m not because most of the ornaments that were like that—that we had—were my kids’.
Bob: You dispersed them.
Barbara: Each of my kids, when they left home and had their own homes, I boxed up their ornaments and gave them their ornaments. So, for just Dennis and me, I don’t put them on the tree. I still have them, and I’ll probably give the ones that are left to my children.
But I mean, there are so many people who put up multiple Christmas trees—that it’s really easy to have a tree with all of your sentimental ornaments—the ones that you’ve inherited, or the ones like the Snoopy, or whatever—and then to have a tree that focuses on Christ. I have a really good friend, here at the ministry—when his wife saw the new ornaments and the star that we’ve created this year to go on the top that says, “I am the bright morning star”—which I absolutely love—and the garland that says the same thing—and she saw all of that and she said: “I want a tree about Jesus this year. I want all of this stuff on my tree.” They’re still going to put their kids’ ornaments on a tree in another room.
Bob: So, they’re doing two trees?
Bob: So, you’ve just added difficulty to the whole thing! [Laughter] Now we’ve got to have two trees!
Barbara: Okay—okay, okay! Well, there are a lot of people who do multiple trees already anyway; so I’m not adding for a lot of people—that’s normative.
Bob: Well, I want to tell you that Mary Ann was really excited about the tree topper—about the star.
Barbara: Oh, was she? That’s encouraging.
Bob: Yes. I mean, we’ve had an angel at the top of our tree before—
Bob: —and there’s nothing wrong, again, with an angel at the top of the tree.
Barbara: Right; sure.
Bob: But the star is just the perfect topper. She was really excited and loved that you have added that to the collection.
Barbara: Well, thanks. And I have loved it, too, because I’ve just—for a long time—I have loved that verse in Revelation, where He says, “I am the bright and morning star.” I just thought: “A star lit the way to the manger for the wise men—the star is—and He is the star. It’s like: ‘That is what needs to be at the top of the tree.’” I wanted one at the top of my tree. I couldn’t find one—so we made one.
Bob: What about—are your kids—are they turning their homes into the same kind of a Jesus-centered approach to Christmas or are they co-mingling?
Barbara: They’re co-mingling. They’re not doing it as exclusively as I am but, when I’ve been to their homes, they have their ornaments that they’re kids are collecting or that their kids made at school—you know, the little paper plates with their picture in the middle. They’ve got all of that stuff on their tree.
And they have the Christmas names, and the royal names, and they will have the crosses on their trees this year.
Bob: Well, they’d better if they want any presents from Mom and Dad. [Laughter] They know where their—[Laughter]
Barbara: Exactly. [Laughter]
Dennis: Well, Barbara has made it easy for families to be able to include these in your traditions. You’ve got some pointers at the beginning of the little devotional about what to do with elementary-aged children—to pull the name out / talk about the name with the children—maybe consider memorizing a passage of Scripture that’s in the devotional book.
Barbara: And here’s another reason why I think it’s so important to do this. It’s not just to make Jesus the center of your Christmas celebration, although that is reason enough. Every Christmas—I remember, when our kids were growing up—not only did we have extra stress because of the parties and all of the stuff that we add to our lives in the month of December—but we also had more issues with selfishness because Christmas, and Santa Claus, and all of that stuff feeds our innate selfishness.
So, not only do we have these pressures and these stresses, but we’ve also got a whole lot more selfishness going on—at least, it seemed that way at our house. And so, to be able to talk to our children about why we need Jesus, as our Savior, at Christmas—because we’re being selfish, and we’re thinking about ourselves, and we’re thinking about what we want and what we’re going to get—we’re not thinking about giving / we’re not thinking about Jesus. It’s a prime teaching opportunity for moms and dads.
Bob: Were there other things you did when your kids were growing up to try to give them an others-centeredness at Christmas time?
Barbara: Yes. One of the things that I remember from my own childhood, vividly, is that my brothers and I would get the Sears Roebuck catalog that came in the mail, which was about three or four inches thick.
Bob: I remember, yes.
Barbara: We would spend hours poring over it and marking pages: “I want this," and “I want this.” I’m sure it kept us occupied, and my mother didn’t mind that for a while; but what it did was it fed this selfishness that Christmas is all about me. It was all about what I was going to get—I couldn’t wait to get my presents.
It just fed a side of me that I didn’t like when I got to be an adult. I was going, “This is not right.” I realized, after I had become a Christian—that this focus on me and what I wanted was not what God wanted for me.
So, when our children were little, Dennis and I decided that we wanted to try to kind of shift that a little bit. We taught our children to—I didn’t let them look through the big catalogs, for one, because I knew that would just feed their selfishness—but we also made it a focus to teach our kids to think about gifts they could give to their siblings, and/or their grandparents, and/or us—but, specifically, for their siblings because that’s the hardest relationship anyway.
We taught them to think about what they could give to their brothers and sisters rather than what they were going to get. Of course, Dennis and I had to help them buy for each other or make something for each other, which can be fraught with problems too; but, nonetheless, that was a goal for us.
So then, on Christmas morning, instead of everybody rushing into the living room and pulling everything out from under the tree and a free-for-all—
Dennis: —that has their name on it and kind of pull it over in the corner in a stash.
Barbara: Yes, and you just have this present-fest, so to speak—you’re tearing into it—and it’s all about, “What am I going to get?”
We had our kids go and get all of the gifts under the tree that they bought for someone else. Ashley got the pile of the things that she got for her siblings, and Benjamin did the same, and Samuel did the same. And then we took turns giving gifts. If Ashley was the first one to give, she would decide which gift she wanted to give to which one of her siblings. We all watched so that the focus was on that person and what that person got—we all celebrated what that person got. Then it was their turn to give. So, if she gave to Samuel, it was Samuel’s turn to pick out a gift and decide who he wanted to give to next.
Part of the fun of that is that it helped them not think as much about themselves. It really trained them to think about giving. The other fun benefit—that Dennis and I, neither one thought about on the front-end—is that it made Christmas last for hours.
Barbara: Instead of it being over in a flurry—in 15 minutes of paper flying through the air and you’re done—we sometimes didn’t finish until noon.
Dennis: Yes, and I remember one time it didn’t finish for a couple of days. [Laughter] I mean, it took forever. I was smiling earlier when you were talking about how Christmas can get us all focused on ourselves. We used to have a tradition in our family where we would put everybody’s name in a hat. You would draw out the name of someone where you were a “Secret Santa.”
Barbara: We called them “KKs.”
Dennis: It’s amazing how many arguments you can get into, as a family, around that because you have a young child who drew your name—“I’m not getting anything!!” You know: “They’re no longer here!” or they’re just selfish—they haven’t thought of anybody. [Laughter]
Christmas is a time that can bring out—in the midst of the exhaustion—it can bring out—
Barbara: The worst!
Dennis: —the worst in us. There’s another reason why I think we need, again, to put the focus back on Jesus Christ and call our kids to have Him live His life in them and through them as they celebrate the holidays.
Bob: I had one of my Facebook® friends, who used to work, here at FamilyLife, who just sent me this picture not long ago—let me see if I can pull this up on the phone. You recognize that old shot; don’t you? [Laughter]
Barbara: Yes! [Laughter]
Bob: I’m wondering if we can—
Barbara: So how many decades ago would that be? Laura looks like she’s five.
Dennis: Oh, wow!
Bob: You can’t turn that and get it—it flops every time you turn it.
Barbara: So that’s about 25 years ago. Yikes!—that’s a long time ago.
Bob: Can we put that up on the website?
Dennis: That’s a long time ago. I think you can.
Bob: That will be fun.
Dennis: And it’s proof that you can get every eye open.
Barbara: That’s right; you can.
Dennis: This was back in the day of film. [Laughter]
Barbara: This was before Photoshop.
Dennis: We would take seven or eight rolls of film because of our son, Samuel. [Laughter] His pictures were called “The Many Faces of Samuel Rainey.”
Barbara: Yes, his delight was to make faces at the camera.
Bob: Well, if you want to see the one shot that everybody was smiling on—back about 25 years ago—you can go to FamilyLifeToday.com. We have it posted there.
Barbara: And you’ll notice how neatly and perfectly we’re dressed, too, because that was a priority for me as well—sadly.
Dennis: Oh, my goodness.
Bob: That looks like that took a lot of time too.
Dennis: Oh, yes!
Barbara: Yes, yes, yes—I know!
Dennis: It started about June or—
Barbara: It did not! [Laughter]
Bob: And if you are interested in seeing what Barbara’s been working on, you can go to EverThineHome.com—see the new set of ornaments that have been designed for this year—the Adorenaments that are the Savior names of Jesus: Messiah, Redeemer, Chief Cornerstone, Great High Priest, Anointed One, Lamb of God, and Mediator—all in the shape of crosses. You can see past years’ of Adorenaments as well—His Christmas names and His royal names. You can see them; and you can order, online, at EverThineHome.com.
I know that gift-giving is one of the priorities that is on all of our minds during the month of December as we often budget for, and think about and shop for, and wrap gifts that we give to friends, or to family members, and loved ones during the Christmas season. And I know many of our listeners have included FamilyLife Today in past years on your gift-giving list.
We know that because more than 50 percent of the funding necessary to operate FamilyLife, throughout the year, comes to us during the month of December, as a lot of people make a yearend contribution in support of this ministry. We’re grateful for your financial support. In fact, what you give to FamilyLife in December really determines what the next year is going to look like for us—how much ministry we’ll be able to do in the year ahead is often determined by the giving that happens in December.
We’ve had some friends of the ministry come to us recently—they are aware of that dynamic.
They’ve said, “We’d like to encourage FamilyLife Today listeners to be as generous as possible during December.” They have agreed that, this month, they will match every donation that we receive, on a dollar-for-dollar basis, up to a total of $2,000,000. Of course, we are very grateful for their generosity; and we want to take full advantage of this matching-gift opportunity.
That’s why we’re asking you: “Would you consider adding FamilyLife Today to your gift-giving list for December? Would you go today to FamilyLifeToday.com and make a yearend contribution in support of this ministry?” You can click in the upper right-hand corner of our website, where it says, “I Care,” and make an online donation. Or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make a donation over the phone. Or you can mail a donation to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and, again, our zip code is 72223.
Thanks, in advance, for whatever you’re able to do. Keep in mind, your donation is being doubled this month. Please pray that we’ll be able to take full advantage of that matching-gift opportunity.
And I hope you can join us back tomorrow. We’re going to continue to think about the names of Christ at Christmas. We’ll have some friends here to help us think through all of the exalted titles that belong to Jesus. I hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.
Copyright © FamilyLife. All rights reserved.