Making the Lenten Season More Meaningful, with Barbara RaineyAnticipating Resurrection Sunday
Leslie Basham: Barbara Rainey says that kids can’t wait for Christmas to come.
Barbara Rainey: But there’s very little, if any, anticipation associated with Easter, and yet the whole Bible is an anticipatory story about Easter.
Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts, with Nancy Leigh DeMoss, for Tuesday, February 18.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I so love the holidays—the holy days—that relate to our Christian faith. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to find more meaningful ways to celebrate and observe those special seasons and days. My friend Barbara Rainey is a kindred spirit when it comes to that.
Not only that, she’s more creative than I am by far, so she’s here with me in the studio this week to talk about the upcoming Lenten season, leading up to Holy Week and Resurrection Sunday. Barbara, thank you for the work you’ve done—some beautiful, creative, meaningful, interesting resources for families. We want to talk some more about that as it relates to the Lenten season.
Thank you for joining us again on Revive Our Hearts.
Barbara: It’s such a delight to be here, and thank you for that very nice compliment. I appreciate that.
Nancy: I love the work you’ve done. You’re an artist. You didn’t really do a lot with art when your children were younger. But then your children grew up, and you went back to painting. Now you’ve expanded that in a whole lot of other areas with really terrific resources—resources that you probably wish you had when your children were little.
Barbara: Yes, I really wish I would have had these when my children were younger because, as a mom, I had such a desire to teach my children the truth of the Bible, and the truth of who God is. I wanted more than just David and Goliath storybooks (not that there’s anything wrong with the David and Goliath story).
I just didn’t find much that helped me take my children beyond just telling them the stories. I wanted to take them to the Bible. I wanted them to see what the Bible said and for them to learn to read it and find answers there. I didn’t really have anything that helped me to do that.
In my empty-nest years, now, I’m creating resources that do what I wanted to be able to do with my children as a mom.
Nancy: Let me just back up and say that you’re the mom of six and nineteen (soon to be twenty) grandchildren (young grandchildren). So you have quite a tribe full. Your family is kind of single-handedly multiplying and replenishing the earth.
Barbara: Yes, we are, aren’t we?
Nancy: And like any family, there are challenges. No family has easy sledding.
Barbara: No, that’s right.
Nancy: To train your children in the ways of God takes intentionality, it takes the willingness to persevere when maybe they’re in the season of life when they’re not so interested in all of this. I think one of the important things is to start young with your children in getting them into the ways of God and engaging their hearts when they’re curious and their imagination is still fertile.
Some of these resources you’ve developed are really great. They’re hands-on; they’re interactive. We so see so many kids growing up today in our Christian homes, our evangelical churches, home schooled, Christian schools, in youth groups, and then by the time they’re teens or college-aged or a little older, they’re leaving the faith. They’re bored; they think the Bible is boring. What have we done to make them think that this isn’t really their life?
Barbara: I think part of the answer (this is my theory, and I suppose there would be those who disagree with me) is that we have dropped the ball as adults. We’ve done a really good job when they’re little, when they’re toddlers, and even through the early elementary years, of telling them Bible stories. We’ve not done a good job of taking our children to the Bible. We haven’t taught them how to read it and how to discover truth in it.
We’ve done a good job, again, of the elementary things, but we haven’t done a very good job of teaching them that the Bible is alive, that it’s full of these wonderful (not just stories, but) truths. That’s why they get bored. By the time they get to sixth grade, they don’t want to hear the David and Goliath story anymore. They don’t want to hear about Daniel and the lion’s den.
It becomes boring. And what a tragedy—that anything in the Bible should become boring to our children. So we need to find new and fresh ways to engage them as they get older. So part of what I’m trying to do is create resources that elementary children (and up) can continue to engage in. I think we’ve done a pretty good job with the preschool crowd, but I think we’ve dropped the ball a little bit with the elementary and older kids in helping them engage biblically with the truth of God’s Word.
Nancy: As you’re talking, I’m wondering, is part of the problem that adults are bored with the Bible, and maybe not reading it ourselves and engaging in it? Just Bible-reading, in general, is not at an all-time high among adult Christians. We haven’t learned how to see Jesus in all of Scripture.
The Bible is not just a book; it’s not just words on a page; it’s not just ink on a page. It’s pointing us to the Living Word, who is Christ and who is our life. If we don’t feel this engagement and this excitement and this warmth of heart toward Christ as He appears throughout Scripture, then why should our children not be bored?
Barbara: Exactly! Let me tell you a little secret: one of my goals in creating all these materials, all these resources, is to get to the parents. I know if moms and dads will buy the resource we’re talking about today—The Messiah Mystery—or they’ll buy some of the other things I’m in the process of creating (which are pretty much holiday centered, because holidays are a natural time to engage with your children). . .
I’m hoping that as moms and dads buy these things and they engage with their children around the holidays that we all celebrate anyway, year after year after year, that moms and dads are going to learn, too. It’s not just going to be the kids, I'm hoping that moms and dads are going to say, “Oh! I didn’t know that! That’s pretty cool that that’s in the Bible.”
Nancy: In fact, you have a friend who told you that it was quite a learning experience for her to go through this resource, The Messiah Mystery.
Barbara: Yes, I do. I had about thirty or forty families who were my “guinea pigs,” so to speak. I asked them if they would be willing to test this resource with their families and then give me feedback . . . let me know what worked and what didn’t work.
This one young friend, a mom in her late thirties who has four boys, did The Messiah Mystery with her boys through the Lenten season. She did one lesson. It’s designed with one lesson to be done once a week in the six weeks leading up to Easter, so it’s very doable. Once a week is all you’ve got to do.
She wrote me an email a couple of weeks after Easter was over. (She was so swamped, she didn’t get a chance to send it before then.) She wrote, “I cannot tell you how much we’ve love doing The Messiah Mystery. Not only did my boys learn a lot and think it was fun, they loved looking for the clues with a magnifying glass. They thought the poster (and all the little elements that are designed for the kids) were really cool. But, I was amazed at how much I learned.”
This young woman, this mom, grew up in the church. Her father was the pastor, and she went to a Bible college. She wrote to me to tell me that she learned things she didn’t know. Well, of course, that shouldn’t surprise me—because none of us knows the Bible so well that we’re not going to be surprised to learn new things. But it was a very telling statement from this young woman that even she, as the mom, who had all this background, was learning a lot that she did not know about God and about Jesus by going through The Messiah Mystery with her boys.
That’s one of my unwritten, in-the-fine-print goals as I create these resources. I want to get to the moms and dads. I want to teach them and encourage them and educate them as they’re also teaching their children. It’s “both,” “and.”
Nancy: And for those who didn’t hear the program yesterday, let me reset us. If you’re wondering why you’re hearing this program in the middle of February—why are we talking about Easter and Passion Week? The Lenten season—the forty-day period leading up to Resurrection Sunday—is a great time to prepare our hearts for Passion Week, Holy Week, and Easter.
It’s a great chance to meditate on Christ—who He is, why He came, how He was promised in the Old Testament, how He fulfilled those promises as the Messiah, the Sent One from God, the death, the burial, the resurrection of Christ—in the weeks leading up to Resurrection Sunday.
Those are the things we want to be focusing on, whether adults or children, families or singles. This is a resource that is helpful to fix our hearts on the redemptive story during the Lenten season. That season starts on different dates, depending which year it is.
This year, Lent begins on Wednesday, March 5. We’ll actually be beginning a very special Lenten series here on Revive Our Hearts that day called "The Wonder of His Name." We’ll talk about the names of Jesus throughout that season leading up to Easter, but we wanted to let our listeners know about this resource that families can use.
You can use it as a Sunday School class; you can use it with children in your neighborhood. You can use it as college roommates living together. This is a great way to get your head and heart into God’s Word. Of course, it’s designed with children in mind, but it’s certainly not just for children.
I’m looking at this and thinking this is a study I’d love to go through myself. It’s a great resource for your family, in particular, to celebrate during the Lenten season with one lesson each week for six weeks. We’ll talk about what some of the activities—are. We’re airing this conversation a few weeks ahead of time so you have time to get this resource—The Messiah Mystery—in your hands.
There are lots of pieces to this, and we’ll talk about what they are, what they do, and what they mean. This whole set, The Messiah Mystery, is not just a book. It’s a book with several companion resources, and it comes as a kit.
We’re making it available to any of our listeners, this week, who send a donation of twenty dollars or more to support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. You say, “I want to see this ministry continue in the lives of women around the world.”
When you send a donation of twenty dollars or more, our way of saying “thank you” is we’ll send you this kit, The Messiah Mystery. You want to do that this week so you’ll have it in your hands. Then you can get ready, you can plan, for the Lenten season and use this with your family. At the end of the broadcast we’ll let you know how you can call and make that donation, or visit us online at