Remembering Christ at Christmas
About the Guest
Dennis and Barbara Rainey and their daughter Laura reflect on Christmases past and the traditions they shared. The Raineys talk about new traditions, too, like decorating with Adorenaments®, including this year's set: world globes featuring Jesus' advent names.
Dennis and Barbara Rainey and their daughter Laura reflect on Christmases past and the traditions they shared.
Bob: The season of Advent is a time for us to be thinking about when Jesus came and about the fact that He is coming again. Here’s Barbara Rainey.
Barbara: We know that when He came—His first advent—when He came and was born as a baby in a manger, He came to serve us, He came to redeem us, and He came to deliver us. He was still King in all eternity, but He didn’t walk on earth as the King. He walked on earth as a Servant and as a Savior; but someday, He will come back. There will be a second advent of Jesus Christ. And when He comes back again, He will come back as King of kings and Lord of lords.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, December 2nd. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey. I’m Bob Lepine. In the songs we sing during this part of the year, in our traditions, and even in how we decorate our homes, there’s an opportunity for us to be making spiritual statements and reminding ourselves and others of the reason for this season. We’ll explore that more today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. Here it is December. I always think of December as a good time just for reflection—although, typically, not the first part of December. Usually, it’s the end of December when you have a few minutes to catch your breath and kind of reflect on what the year has been. Usually, the first part of the month, you’ve got—
Dennis: It’s a sprint.
Bob: —you’ve just got so much going on. But this has been a great year for us, at FamilyLife. We’ve been celebrating our 40th anniversary as a ministry this year. It has been fun for us to take some time and just look back on how we’ve seen God at work in this ministry for four decades.
Dennis: And I was recently looking back on how God worked in the past 12 months.
Bob, you know, we impacted a record number of people—18.8 million visited our website; listened to FamilyLife Today / Real FamilyLife®; have been to an Art of Marriage® / a Weekend to Remember® event; bought Passport2Purity®. We’re making an impact in the most important institution in our country. I believe that mission is the mission of the hour.
If you believe it as well, could I challenge you, here at yearend, to stand with us with a generous gift to keep FamilyLife Today coming on strong on this station to make a difference in the marriages and families in your community? You may be investing in another family who is raising the son or daughter who marries your son or daughter. So, why don’t you participate with us in this mission of strengthening the most basic unit of our nation, the family?—and doing it—listen to me—
—doing it around the person of Jesus Christ and the truth of the Bible. I believe this is needed, now, as never before.
Bob: You can make a donation by going, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call us to make a donation at 1-800-FL-TODAY; or you can mail your donation to FamilyLife Today. Our address is PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223.
Now, this Sunday is going to be—actually, it’s going to be the first Sunday in December, but it’s the second Sunday in the Advent season. You know, Christmas is on a Sunday this year.
Dennis: That’s right.
Bob: Will your church cancel, or will they have services? Do you know?
Dennis: That’s a good question!
Barbara: I don’t know.
Bob: It’s always hard to know what to do, because Christmas morning is such a family time. There are so many traditions that to try to say, “Okay; we want to go to church too,” just feels out of the normal rhythm—I mean, I get that.
Dennis: Yes; and I’m thinking of one child in our family who—if I would have said, “You know, we’re all just going to get cleaned up and go to church first before we get about celebrating Christmas,”—
Dennis: —I think this child—she might have completely split in half. [Laughter]
Bob: Disinherited herself from the family—
Barbara: Yes; she would have.
Bob: —and said, “I’m joining somebody else’s family for this Christmas.”
Dennis: In fact, she’s out in the production area of our studio here—Laura. We’ve asked Laura to come in here, recently, a couple of times. So, Laura, would you come into the studio and just explain how difficult it was for you to wait—the concept of waiting?
Bob: And while you’re coming in—and Laura, welcome, by the way—welcome back into the studio. While you are coming in, can we just acknowledge that there might be a heredity link to Laura’s impatience that, maybe, somebody—[Laughter]
Dennis: Now, why would we want to meddle in that stuff?
Bob: Barbara, would you like to explain why there might have been a heredity link to this? [Laughter] Do you know anybody else who might have gotten impatient around Christmastime?
Barbara: It wasn’t me. [Laughter] I know that!
Laura: Who it was?
Barbara: Maybe, that’s it—maybe, it’s being the youngest in the family; because I was the firstborn. My mother remembers this—I hoarded my presents / I kept them to the side. I opened them very slowly, because I wanted it to last all day long. But Dennis was not that way.
Bob: I wasn’t either—I was the last born. So, I was the one who thought 5.30 was the appropriate time to go open presents on Christmas morning.
Dennis: Before the sun was up?
Bob: Well, you know me—morning time is not my—
Dennis: Oh, yes.
Bob: —favorite time; but on Christmas morning—
Barbara: It was your favorite time!
Bob: —it was a whole different deal. So, getting up early on Christmas, I was all about that as well.
Dennis: There are going to be some people, though, who listen to what we’re talking about here—they are going to say, “You guys—you are heretics that you wouldn’t go to church on Christmas morning.”
Laura, would you just comment on what that would have done to you if I’d had said. “Okay; Laura, let’s go to church. You can wait another two hours to open the presents”?
Laura: I probably would have cried; because I cried already whenever my older siblings would tease me and be like. “I’ve got to take a shower,” “I’ve got to dry my hair,”…
Barbara: Because they were teenagers when you were five.
Laura: Yes; “We’ve got to eat breakfast.”
Bob: So, is there—was there an imposed start time? [Laughter] Did you have a time you had to stay in bed until?
Laura: Oh, I’m sure that we did. I don’t remember exactly what time it was, but I’m fairly certain I was the first one knocking on my parents’ door.
Bob: Did you have a routine for going to the tree? Did everybody have to go together?
Laura: We did. Well, we switched it up every single year. It depended on whatever Dad—his creativity.
Bob: Whatever he came up with.
Laura: Whatever he came up with. And so, one year, it would be—youngest to oldest—which was always my favorite because I got to see in—I got to look around the living room. I tried not to peek, but it was really hard.
My little five-year-old heart couldn’t handle it. One year, it was oldest to youngest; and that was traumatic. Then, boys wind up first and then girls. You know, he got creative with it.
Dennis: I think what God was doing, though, Laura, was—He was preparing you to wait until you were 31 to get married.
Barbara: Oh, maybe, that’s it! [Laughter]
Laura: Maybe, that’s what He was doing.
Dennis: He was building the discipline in you.
Laura: If only I knew, back in the day, that’s what was happening.
Dennis: She’s celebrating this Christmas with her new love-of-her-life, Josh. They’ll undoubtedly come visit us, Bob—I would think they’ll come visit us.
Bob: So, that’s a question. “Where are you celebrating Christmas? Have you worked it out yet?”
Laura: We have. We spent Thanksgiving with my mom’s family at the farm. Then, this year, we will spend Christmas with his family; but we—his family celebrates Christmas Eve. So, Christmas Eve is the time where we exchange gifts and have a delicious dinner.
Little Rock’s not too far away. So, we might just hop on I-40 on Christmas morning and pop over to see my parents.
Bob: Or just drive over Christmas Eve night, because you can leave at midnight. [Laughter]
Laura: Right; exactly. Yes! We could be Santa.
Dennis: You could be there, waiting on the steps—
Laura: That’s right!
Dennis: —to open presents.
Barbara: Yes; you and Josh could get in line. That would be a new twist.
Laura: Matching PJ’s. [Laughter] Can’t wait!
Dennis: Well, we’re laughing about these traditions, but Barbara has created a new tradition for families to help them bring the reality of Jesus Christ into your Christmas celebration. She’s created a number of Adorenaments®. They’re ornaments that are all based upon the names of Christ.
The first year was His Christmas names from Luke, Chapter 2, and Isaiah. The second year was His royal names—we’re going to talk about that in a moment. The third year was His Savior names. The fourth year—the names of Christ in some of the most widely-used languages around the world.
And this year, your new Adorenaments are, actually, not metal—these are globes. They are actually heavy as well.
Barbara: Yes; they are round globes, and they have the continents on them so it looks like the planet, earth. On each one of the four globes is a name of Christ that reminds us why He came to earth when He was born in Bethlehem.
One of them says, “Jesus is the Light of the World.” One of them says, “Jesus is the Messenger,” because He came to bring us the message of good news. One of them says, “Jesus is the Son,” because He came and was born as the Son of God. And the fourth one is “Jesus is the Word.” We learn in John that Jesus is the Word, and He came to dwell among us. So, each of those four names tell us something about why Jesus came and was born in a manger in Bethlehem for us, who live on planet earth.
Bob: I mentioned that this Sunday is the second Sunday in the Advent season.
Some churches will address Advent / others don’t. Advent really just means “coming.” It’s about a period of waiting and anticipation for the coming of Jesus. Christmas is referred to as His first advent,—
Barbara: That’s right.
Bob: —because there is a second advent coming.
Barbara: There will be a second advent. That’s really what this set of ornaments—this set of names that we’re going to talk about today—is all about. It’s about Jesus as our King. We know that when He came—His first advent—when He came and was born as a baby in a manger, He came to serve us; He came to redeem us; He came to deliver us. He was still King in all eternity, but He didn’t walk on earth as the King. He walked on earth as a Servant and as a Savior.
But someday, as you referred to, He will come back. There will be a second advent of Jesus Christ. And when He comes back again, He will come back as King—
—King of kings and Lord of lords.
And the ornaments that we are talking about today are a series of crowns—they are seven crowns—and each of them has one of his royal names on them. We, as believers, need to look forward to that. Just as we have a sense of anticipation—that we were talking about earlier—in the month of December, looking forward to Christmas Day as a remembrance of His first advent—God wants us to live with a sense of anticipation, every day of our lives, as we think about His coming back again.
And when He comes back again, He will not come as a baby. He will come as a King, and that’s what these ornaments help us remember.
Dennis: And I’ve just pulled out two that Barbara rushed by, because these are just powerful names—King of kings, Lord of lords. It’s only used two times in Scripture. This is not a casual name that was given to Christ. The Apostle Paul used it as he wrote to Timothy, and the Apostle John wrote about it in the Book of Revelation.
Now, I want you to just, again, think about that title—King of kings / all tens of thousands of those kings who lived and died. This King came; He died; He rose again from the grave; and He’s coming back. There is a second advent that will be spectacular.
Bob: Well, if you live in a kingdom, the king is the one with supreme authority. Whatever the king says goes. If Jesus is the King of kings, then, His authority trumps all other authority. We talked earlier this year, on FamilyLife Today, about the fact that we do live as citizens of a different kingdom—the kingdom of heaven. Jesus is the King. Our allegiance—before our allegiance to our country or to our family, even—our highest allegiance goes to the kingdom of heaven.
Barbara: That’s right.
That’s why it is good for us to remember, at Christmas, that Jesus is a King. He is our King, and He owns us if we belong to Him. We owe Him our allegiance and our loyalty. Remembering that He is a King—and didn’t just come as a baby—but He is coming back as a King is good for us to focus on at Christmas when we think about all of the different names of Jesus Christ. There are names that refer to Him and His royalty as the King. It’s good for us to remember that.
Dennis: And if you want to read—I bet you, as a listener, haven’t been spending much time here—but if you want to read a spectacular setting that occurs near the end of the Book of Revelation, go to Chapter 19 and look at, beginning at verse 11, where there is a rider on a white horse. And this is the place where the title, King of kings and Lord of lords, comes out.
It’s basically a battle between God and evil—it’s the final battle. It is Jesus Christ who is on the white horse, coming to conquer. He is not—as Barbara said—He is not the Suffering Servant who came to be the Lamb—on this particular occasion, He is the King of kings, the Lord of lords; and He is coming to take over. It’s spectacular.
It says in verse 16, “On the robe and on His thigh, He has a name written, King of kings, Lord of lords.” I think the key question is. “Do you know Him? Do you know the King? Do you have a relationship with Him?” This is going to happen—this is more real than this studio that we are broadcasting from. It’s more real than the car you’re sitting in; or the house that you’re listening to this radio broadcast in; or walking, listening, as you take a walk, on your device.
This is sure and certain. This will become reality.
Bob: We have an experience that we both have shared, but we didn’t share it together. I remember being in New York, back in the 1980s. I was there during the Christmas season and there on a Sunday. I got tickets to go see the Radio City Christmas Pageant. It was the last show of the night, and they still had some tickets available. One ticket—that’s all I needed. I went to see it, and it was fun—it’s like a big variety show, like the old TV variety shows.
But I was surprised—and you had the same experience—I was surprised there was a spiritual element to this Christmas pageant at Radio City Music Hall in New York City that I thought. “Oh! They know what this is really all about.”
Barbara: Yes; Dennis and I went for the first time—
—I don’t know—was it the ‘80s, or was it the ‘90s?
Dennis: I don’t remember.
Barbara: We went and got tickets, and we thought the same thing that you did. We thought. “This is entertaining. This is beautiful. It’s lavish / it’s amazing—it’s fun.” Then, it turned on a dime, when there was a pause in the action on stage and the lights dimmed. All of a sudden, they began to display a nativity scene—a live nativity scene. In came the shepherds and in came the—and they had real sheep—and in came Mary and Joseph. They had the stable scene; and then, down the aisles came a procession with camels, and the kings, and their servants.
We were—I remember I was just as stunned as you were. We were wide-eyed, because we had no idea that this was a part of the program. They went down the aisle, and the music was appropriate. The lighting and all of this—
Bob: I thought I was at church for a minute.
Barbara: Yes; it felt like church!
Barbara: I couldn’t believe we were in New York City, watching this amazing display of the Christmas story in front of us with live animals—
—I mean, it was spectacular.
Dennis: And at some point, after they made the turn—I don’t remember exactly how it started—but they began to read a poem called One Solitary Life. And I just remember it was a powerful, emotional moment—that, here, in the most powerful city in the world, people were going to stop / they were going to recognize who Christ is. And this show, which was to entertain the wealthy, the powerful, and the elite—people from all walks of life—recognized the Savior.
I hadn’t read this in a while—I pulled it up, online; and I read it. I just want to read it to our listeners, just to remind you of the power of our King.
He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another obscure village, where he worked in a carpenter’s shop until he was thirty when public opinion turned against him.
He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never went to college. He never visited a big city. He never travelled more than two hundred miles from the place where he was born. He did none of those things usually associated with greatness. He had no credentials but himself.
He was only thirty-three. His friends ran away. One of them denied him. He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth.
When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.
Nineteen centuries have come and gone; and today, Jesus is the central figure of the human race and the leader of mankind's progress. All the armies that have ever marched, all the navies that have ever sailed, all the parliaments that have ever sat, all the kings that have ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of mankind on earth as powerfully as that One Solitary Life.
Bob: The Christmas season is all about—not just the birth of Jesus—
—but the coming of Jesus and the reason for His coming—His redemptive work / the message of the gospel—ultimately, the cross and the resurrection. And that’s what we’re hoping all of us will keep at the forefront of our holiday celebration over the next few weeks.
I want to, again, encourage you—if you’ve not seen the work that Barbara Rainey has been doing in creating ornaments that can hang on your tree that proclaim the names of Jesus, go to FamilyLifeToday.com. This year’s set of ornaments—four globe-shaped ornaments—that talk about Jesus as the Son, the Messenger, the Word, and the Light. And of course, we have previous sets available as well. We have 30 ornaments total, and you can see them all when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com. You can order from us online, or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to order. Again, it’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.”
By the way, if you have the FamilyLife Today mobile app on your smartphone or on your tablet, that app is going to have some special content loaded into it. I think it already does have some devotionals and some ways that you can engage people in conversation during the holiday season to have conversations about Jesus at Christmastime. If you don’t already have the app, it is free. Go to your app store and download it. It gives you instant access to FamilyLife Today anytime you’d like to listen. Past editions of the program are available, as well, along with special content like we’re featuring this month that’s all about Christmas. Again, get the FamilyLife app when you go to your app store and download it to your device.
Now, this weekend, we’ve got two Weekend to Remember® getaways taking place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania / Albany, New York. We’ve got hundreds of couples getting ready to kick off a fun, romantic weekend together. Then, next weekend, we wrap up the fall with getaways in Charleston, South Carolina, and out in the Valley of the Sun—
—in Phoenix, Arizona. And of course, we’ll start up our Weekend to Remember getaway season just before Valentine’s Day in February. Please pray for the couples who are attending the getaways this weekend. And if you’d like to give a getaway gift certificate as a Christmas gift, go to FamilyLifeToday.com. More information is available there.
And finally, don’t forget the matching-gift opportunity that we’re hoping to take advantage of during the month of December. All month long, we’ve asked our friend, Michelle Hill, to keep tabs on our matching gift and let us know each day how we’re doing in terms of being able to take advantage of this matching-gift offer. And she is here today with details of the match and an update on how we’re doing. Michelle?
Michelle: Hey, Bob. Well, we are just getting started; but I’m pretty excited because we are already receiving our first matched donations.
As I said yesterday, those gifts are being effectively tripled from that matching-gift fund of $1.25 million.
Now, just in case folks missed it, let me just explain it again. Say you give $10 to FamilyLife. Well, that’s great / that’s awesome; because there is $20 added to your 10. Your $10 becomes a $30-contribution to FamilyLife. And the bottom line—when you give, the benefit to FamilyLife is effectively tripled.
Bob: Thanks, Michelle. We look forward to your updates throughout December. And if you can help with a donation today, go online at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY; or mail your donation to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; our zip code is 72223.
With that, we hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together in your local church this weekend.
And I hope you can join us on Monday when we’re going to hear from a number of Christian leaders about how they’d do life differently if they were doing it all over again—and a number of other interesting questions—that our friend, John Gauger, asked these Christian leaders. We’ll be hearing from people like Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, Tim Keller, Joni Eareckson Tada, Tony Evans, and others. It should be an interesting program. I hope you can tune in for it.
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 Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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