Why Names Matter
About the Guest
Ready or not, here they come! The holidays, that is. Barbara Rainey and her daughter Laura Rainey Dries tell how they plan on preparing their homes, and their hearts, for Christmas.
Bob: Whether we’re parents or not, all of us have the opportunity to build into the lives of children. Here’s Laura Drees.
Laura: I am an aunt to 20-something odd nieces and nephews.
Dennis: They’re not odd.
Laura: They’re not odd. [Laughter] Twenty-something wonderful, precious humans that I still have an opportunity, as their aunt, to guide them in this truth, as well, and to present it in this way—as: “Listen to this,” and “This is something that you get to look forward to, as you get older and as you grow in understanding of who the Lord is. This is exciting!”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, November 14th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. All of us, whether we’re parents ourselves or not, have a responsibility to be passing down a legacy of faith to the next generation. We’ll talk more about that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. So, are you getting enough sleep at night?—you resting up?
Bob: I’m just wanting to make sure.
Dennis: —for what? [Laughter]
Bob: For what? For what is coming as soon as the closet door is opened and you are called upon to begin the massive exercise of transforming your home into Barbara’s holiday emporium. [Laughter]
How big is the closet?
Dennis: It’s not a closet, Bob.
Bob: What is it?
Dennis: It’s a small storage unit. [Laughter]
Barbara: It’s not that big, you guys.
Dennis: And it’s upstairs in the storage unit.
Bob: So you have to carry it down.
Dennis: You have to carry it down and—
Barbara: —and then back up.
Dennis: Every year, I think it’s going to cost me my life; you know? [Laughter] But I start carrying the boxes—not long before or after Thanksgiving / somewhere in there—I start carrying them out. I usually get done right before Christmas Eve. [Laughter]
Bob: That’s pretty continuous. Now, that’s why I’m wondering if you’re rested up—you’re getting in shape for—
Barbara: Oh, you guys are terrible.
Dennis: I’m training for a marathon, Bob. I’m training—I’m in training.
Barbara: Let me just say that you two are terrible. That is not the truth. [Laughter]
Laura: That is not nice. [Laughter]
Bob: Dennis’s wife, Barbara, back with us today—welcome back.
Barbara: You’re welcome, but I’m not sure I want to be back. [Laughter]
Bob: You brought somebody along with you today.
Barbara: I did. I brought our daughter, Laura.
Bob: Laura, you are getting ready to celebrate your second Christmas as a married woman.
Dennis: She’s officially no longer “just married.”
Bob: That’s right!
Laura: No; when does that end?
Dennis: At the end of the first year.
Bob: Oh, I thought it—
Laura: No; Josh listens to this—[Laughter]—shhh!
Bob: You want it to just continue?
Dennis: You want it to continue?
Laura: Yes! Celebrating every month—we call “monthaversaries.” We take trips—unbelievable.
Bob: How long did it take before you said, “Okay; the honeymoon is done here.”
Laura: Yes; probably, you know, when we got back from St. Lucia.
Bob: —from the honeymoon.
Laura: Right. [Laughter]
Bob: As soon as the honeymoon was over: “The honeymoon was over.”
Laura: That was it. Yes; you’d better close that box. [Laughter]
Dennis: No; as soon as the boat they got in St. Lucia, it was over.
Bob: That didn’t help matters either.
Bob: Well, we’re spending some time talking about Christmas—ahead of Thanksgiving—which is, as we’ve already talked about this week, been a “No; no” up until this year. You finally just said: “You know, you can’t stop from thinking about it.
Bob: “So we might as well, at least, help moms,”—and it’s particularly moms because most dads are just doing the heavy lifting and carrying boxes from place to place. [Laughter]
It’s moms who are already thinking about “How do I want to get my house ready for Christmas?”
Barbara: Yes; it is primarily moms and women, because we’re the ones who think about decorating for the holidays. We’re the ones who think about traditions, for the most part. We’re the ones who do the things that we hope will make our family time meaningful and make the holidays meaningful—and call everyone home.
Bob: Laura, I’m just wondering, “Are there decorations that your mom has had out—for years, and years, and years—that kind of signal to you, ‘That’s my favorite,’—that’s something that you look forward to?”
I know, in our house, stockings were a big deal and everybody looked forward to seeing their stocking again.
Dennis: Nativity important at your place?
Bob: Yes; nativity scenes—having those available. Did you have any that were kind of your favorite decorations?
Laura: Yes; well, I do love the stocking reference; because—who made ours?—Mimi?
Barbara: Actually, I made yours.
Laura: All six of ours?
Barbara: All six of them.
Laura: Amazing. The one thing that I was always excited about was the nativity set that my parents received—every year, one piece of the nativity. It was always—we would fight over it. Most of the time, I would win—I was going to set up the nativity. Towards the end—it’s because I was the only one home / I was the only one that was there for Christmas.
Bob: Your siblings said, “Towards the end, it was because you were the favored child—
Bob: —“and that was always the case.”
Barbara: Oh yes; they’ve said that.
Laura: Absolutely; yes. [Laughter]
Dennis: And in the end, she just caved in and said, “I am.”
Laura: I am. [Laughter]
Bob: Barbara, when you set out to think about decorating your home for the holidays, you focused in on different names or different titles for Jesus. Lot of directions you could have gone in terms of the Christmas season—telling the nativity story—however you would have wanted to do it. Why the names or the titles of Jesus? Why was that something you focused on?
Barbara: Well, I think it’s because, if you don’t do anything else, most people do something related to a Christmas tree—it may be small / it may be big.
Some people do stockings and all of that, and some don’t; but pretty much, everybody does a Christmas tree. Because the Christmas tree is typically as tall as the ceiling, it becomes the focal point, by default, in your home during the holiday season.
My thinking was, “If everyone’s going to put up a Christmas tree—or the majority of people do—then let’s help them make that focal point / that decorative element in their home for the month of December—let’s make that declare who Jesus is.” We decided—I decided, after thinking it through, that I wanted to put His names all over the Christmas tree so that it would proclaim who He is.
Bob: But you could have done angels, and shepherds, and sheep, and wise men, and those kinds of things; why names?
Barbara: Yes; well, I think the reason the names are more important is because they tell us who Jesus is; and Christmas is about Jesus. Yes; it’s about shepherds, and wise men, and all of that; but it’s really about Jesus.
I would have wanted these ornaments, because it would have given me something that I could teach my children with—so I could say: “Here, Laura, I want you to hang this name. Can you read and tell me what that name says?” Depending on what her age was, she would be able to read it or not be able to read it. If she was three or four, I would have said: “Laura, this is the name of Jesus that says Wonderful Counselor. Can you say Wonderful Counselor?” I would have her repeat it; and then I would say, “Would you like to hang that ornament on the tree?”
And for the older kids, I would read them the story that comes with it so that our decorating of a Christmas tree—which most families do every year—would then be transformed and would be about getting to know who Jesus is; because as we know His names, we know Him. The more we can know about His names, the more we understand what He came to do and why He came on Christmas Day in the first place.
Bob: You’ve now created almost three dozen ornaments with different names of Jesus and heard from families—some of whom have decided, “This is the exclusive look for our tree,”—they’ve set aside the snowmen and the Santa’s; and they’ve said, “We’re going to focus on Jesus.”
Barbara: Yes; and so families have responded differently. I’m grateful for these families who have decided to make their tree only about Jesus, but you don’t have to do that. You can also put all the names of Jesus on the tree and add all of your balls, and your candy canes, and whatever else you want to do—I mean, it really is up to you.
The hope is—is that, as you hang the names of Jesus, there will be something distinct about that—the way you do it—as you teach your kids will be set apart from hanging the other ornaments on the tree. One of the ideas is—hang all the names of Jesus first—talk about who He is / talk about all His different names—and then, maybe the next day or the next week, hang all of your other ornaments on the tree if you choose to combine them all on one tree.
I think the goal is—is that, by using the names of Jesus on your Christmas tree, it helps you make Christmas about Jesus.
Dennis: I’ll never forget—about six years ago, about this time—Barbara started creating this first set of the names of Christ. I asked, “Why are you calling it His Christmas Names?” She said, “Well, that’s how God introduced Him to us—first of all, in the Book of Isaiah, Chapter 9.”
I want to read this to you. If you think about it, God introduced Christ through the Prophet Isaiah to human beings by giving a list of His names. In Isaiah 9:6 it says, “For a child will be born to us, a Son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”
And later on—in Luke, Chapter 2 and, also, in Matthew—are the rest of the names that are listed in Scripture that Barbara took and created this list of Christmas names that declare who Christ is—Jesus, Emanuel, Savior, and Christ the Lord. She created a booklet that moms and dads could read to their kids as you hang these ornaments on a tree, to declare the Savior who came to take away the sins of the world. Those names declare God, I think, to generations even today. It’s a way God’s given us, as parents, to pass on the truth about who God is.
Bob: You said, with little kids—three- or four-year old’s—you’re really not trying to teach a whole lot. You’re just making them familiar with or acquainted with the names. But when you take something like—I’m looking at one of the new ornaments you’ve created for this year—Jesus is the Alpha and Omega.
If you’ve got an eight-year-old or a nine-year-old, is that something that you can help them understand?—what it means that Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega?
Barbara: Well, it is a big concept; no doubt about it. But I think that it is a way that you can begin to introduce the concept of eternity and the concept of Jesus having no beginning and no end. I would take that ornament and I would explain what the word, Alpha, means and what the word, Omega, means—and just say, simply, “Jesus, even though He was born on Christmas Day, existed before He was born; and He will live forever,”—just something simple like that to help kids begin to know what that means.
And you may have a dialogue with your child, and he may ask a question you don’t know. You can say: “You know, I don’t know what the answer to that is. Let’s look up this verse and read it. Let’s do some digging and find out,” or “I’ll find out and let you know later.” I think it’s important to begin to help them grasp these concepts about who God is.
Bob: And it’s part of the reason for the booklet that comes with the ornaments—
Bob: —so that there can be some explanation / some dialogue that you help create as you read through that booklet.
I’m wondering about the one that calls Jesus the Eternal Father from Isaiah 9. It’s an interesting thought; isn’t it?—that the Son is called the Eternal Father—that that’s a name of Jesus.
Barbara: Yes; it is interesting. It’s not that He is the Father, because God is called the Father and Jesus introduced us to God the Father when He was on earth. But the idea behind that is that the way Jesus related to His people—to His followers / to His disciples—when He was on earth was in a very fatherly way. He was protective; He took care of them; He fed them; He healed them; He guided them—He did the things that God the Father longs to do with us. Jesus demonstrated to everyone—when He was on earth—who was around Him, what a father looks like. It was His way of relating to the people that was fatherly. Isaiah prophesized that Jesus would be our Prince of Peace and our Wonderful Counselor, and He would be our Eternal Father—meaning He shepherds us as a father does.
Bob: Yes; we’ve got a link on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com to an article that addresses this issue of Jesus being the Everlasting Father—and explains what you were explaining about He represents, relationally—but it’s also a declaration: “He is God. He is Eternal. He has always existed. He did not come into being, but He is eternal,”—it was clear to Isaiah’s listeners when he said this—“This Son who is coming will not be like any other son or any other king who has ever been born.”
You also have an ornament that talks about Jesus is the Bright and Morning Star. What is that communicating to us about who He is?
Barbara: Well, it’s interesting. He makes that declaration in the very last chapter of Revelation about Himself; and yet, there are other references to Him being the star. The very first one is in the Book of Numbers, where there’s a prophecy made about a star shall arise and the scepter shall come from Judah. It’s a prophecy about the coming of Jesus—He’s referred to there as a star.
Then, we know, in John, that He is the light of the world. We know that stars give light—so there’s some allusions and some hints of that woven throughout the Bible. Actually, Peter makes reference to the morning star arising in our hearts in 2 Peter. That, too, is an allusion to us letting Christ shine—letting Him rise, rule, reign, shine—through your heart and through your life so that others will see that He lives within you. It’s something that’s kind of woven throughout the Bible.
I love the idea of that, too; because the wise men followed a star.
And even though this is a different star than who Jesus is saying He is, stars are associated with Jesus throughout the Bible. I just think it’s really cool that the star that the wise men saw rose in the sky and they followed it. It moved, and it took them to Jesus. Just the idea of following the star led them to Jesus; and if we follow Him—if we follow the Bright Morning Star—we will get to know Him. We will find Him as the wise men found Him. We will understand Him, and we will worship Him when we follow Him and the path that He leads us by His light.
Bob: Laura, you would want to make sure that listeners understand that Clarence Odbody, the angel, was a star before he came to earth in It’s a Wonderful Life. [Laughter]
Laura: Yes; he was.
Barbara: That’s his last name?
Bob: Odbody. Yes; he’s an angel, second class—that’s right.
Laura: Second class.
Barbara: I remember the second class, but I didn’t know the Odbody part.
Laura: Then he got his wings.
Barbara: Oh yes; he did.
Bob: And none of that’s in the Bible; right? [Laughter]
Laura: No; it’s in The Wonderful Life Bible though—that’s for sure.
Bob: That’s a little different angelology. [Laughter]
Barbara: I know; but it’s a great story—it’s a great story.
Dennis: Well, I’ll tell you something that is in the Bible that’s fascinating around stars and this kind of—this is where the handoff occurs to us, as moms and dads / husbands, wives / grandparents. It is referred to in the Book of Daniel—that those who lead many to righteousness will be like the stars that shine forever and ever.
I don’t know what that means; but when I look up into the Milky Way Galaxy, and I see—who knows how many millions and billions of stars that forms the Milky Way—I just wonder, “How will God turn us into those who shine like stars forever and ever because we led many to righteousness?” And we began with our children—introducing them to God / to the Word—calling them to follow Christ—to ultimately give their lives to Christ as Savior and Lord so that they might have eternal life and they might know the Alpha and the Omega / they might see the Bright and Morning Star someday.
Bob: Now, Laura, we need a little reality check here; okay?—because I know your mom has been working on these ornaments now for six years. I know you were grown and out of the house when she started working on them; but I’m imagining that, when you were still home, as a teenager/as a pre-teen, there would be times, during the Christmas season, when your mom would say: “Here, we’re going to do something together. We’re going to do a craft,” or “I want to teach you something,” or “I want to read something to you.”
Laura: Yes; yes.
Bob: And when she did that, you would always come and say, “What is it, Momma?” and fold your hands—
Laura: —and sit down quietly and anticipate; absolutely.
Bob: This is a reality check part.
Laura: Yes. No; I was just listening to Dad share that. The way that Dad was describing that—it built anticipation in me—I was like, “What is he going to say next?” I think that is so cool about the opportunity that parents have.
I’m not a parent, but I am an aunt to 20-something odd nieces and nephews.
Dennis: They’re not odd.
Laura: They’re not odd. [Laughter] Twenty-something wonderful, precious humans that I still have an opportunity, as their aunt, to guide them in this truth, as well, and to present it in this way—as: “Listen to this. This is exciting, and this is something you get to look forward to as you get older and you grow in understanding of who the Lord is.” As parents, we’re excited about this and your excitement will be passed down to your children.
But I think, when we were growing up, Mom—I mean, she didn’t have a visual ornament to show us during these times of teaching—but she would. We would sit, and we would read the Christmas story, either Christmas Eve or we would read it Christmas morning, after or before we opened gifts—it just depended on the age. I mean, we did different things every year; but we always tried to incorporate that tradition in.
What I think is so special about these ornaments is that kids are so visual these days—they look at screens / they want to look at iPad® games.
They want to see, and they want to be able to understand and touch. I think that’s what’s so cool about what Mom has done—is that they can hold this. It’s a representation of who Jesus is in a beautiful way. They can look at it every year—like, “Mommy, I remember when you told me this last year.” Maybe they won’t; but as you build, every single year, and you remind them of the truth. You can build on it throughout the year—you don’t have to take these down—you can hang them up on your doorknobs and you can leave them out, because they are so beautiful. They are timeless truths that you can teach to your kids, leading up to Christmas and all year.
Bob: You mentioned that you’re not a parent yet. Your mom and dad have asked me to ask you, “When is that going to change?” [Laughter]
Laura: Did Dad ask you? Because he promised, yesterday, he was no longer going to ask me about it—unbelievable.
Bob: So, he’s not asking you.
Dennis: Look at my lips.
Bob: He said nothing, but—
Laura: Lock it up! [Laughter] Maybe—there’s always next year; right? [Laughter]
Bob: That’s pretty—that’s’ pretty—you know, pretty vague.
Laura: Vague—absolutely! You’re welcome.
Barbara: She intends for it to be very vague. [Laughter]
Laura: That was my gift to you, Bob. [Laughter]
Bob: Well, Merry Christmas!
Laura: Sure. You want to get Josh on the line?—you can ask him.
Bob: Yes; would he like to weigh in on the subject? [Laughter]
Laura: I’m sure he would / I’m sure he would—“Yesterday,” is what he would say.
Barbara: Yes; he would say, “Yesterday.” [Laughter]
Laura: He can’t wait to be a dad, which is really exciting—not there yet.
Bob: And can you wait to be a mom?
Laura: I can; yes, because I have 20-something nieces and nephews—that I have seen the light. [Laughter]
Bob: You have felt the heat.
Laura: I have felt the heat—the lack of sleep.
Dennis: And while Laura was talking, I finally found the verse about shining like stars. Let me read it to you, because it’s talking about the end of time. It says in [Revelation] Chapter 12, verse 3: “Those who have insight”—meaning those who give instruction—"will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”
That light will never go out.
So, the question is: “Are you going to seize the moment today with your children?—with your extended family?—or I like what you said, Laura—about thinking about being an aunt or an uncle, and how you’re going to influence your nieces and nephews; because that’s a built-in ministry, especially at this time of year.
Bob: Well, and the fact that Jesus is the Bright and Morning Star—when we shine, as stars, we’re really reflecting another person’s light. It’s not our brightness that is showing forth—it’s His brightness.
I think, Barbara—what you’ve created for families here—helps remind us of these things. Three new ornaments for the Christmas tree—the “Eternal Names of Jesus”: The Bright Morning Star, The Alpha and Omega, The Eternal Father. You can see what Barbara’s created when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com.
There are other resources that Barbara has designed as well—a new Christmas tree skirt, a snowflake for the New Year, [and] a “Joy to the World” tea towel—all kinds of things that are available. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the link for Ever Thine Home® to see all that Barbara has been working on and to get your home ready for the holidays so that your decorations remind you of what is most important at Christmas. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information or to order online. Just click the link that says, “Ever Thine Home.”
You know, all of the work that goes into the resources we’re talking about here—really, a labor of love for you, Barbara; but behind it is a bigger mission—it’s the goal of helping moms and dads / helping families keep Jesus at the center of everything they do. That’s what FamilyLife Today is all about.
We want to effectively develop godly marriages and families. We want Christ to be at the center of what your family is all about.
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And we hope you can join us back tomorrow. We’re actually going to go on location tomorrow. There’s a very exciting event happening this week in Washington DC—the grand opening of the Museum of the Bible. We’re going to head up there and introduce you to some special guests, who will be joining us at the museum. I hope you can tune in 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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