Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Anticipating 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 ReviveOurHearts.com.

Most of the lessons in this Messiah Mystery series actually come from the Old Testament. Remind us why it’s so important to start there as we prepare our hearts for the life and times of Jesus, knowing that He doesn’t actually appear until the New Testament.

Barbara: We wanted to take families on a journey from the very beginning of time up until the birth of Christ and help them see and experience and learn that all the Old Testament is the story of Jesus. It’s all foretelling the coming of Christ.

We tend to think in our modern world that the Old Testament is irrelevant, it’s past tense, it’s old because it’s called the Old Testament. We don’t see the connection between the old and the new. The story of Jesus’ life is so much more meaningful when we understand it in the context of the Old Testament.

So we begin with the story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, in Genesis. We talk about what happened after the fall and how there, at that moment, at the very beginning of the history of man and woman, God gave the first promise of the coming Redeemer.

Then throughout the pages of the Old Testament, there are more and more and more prophecies, more clues, more hints. We’ve written this book as if it were sort of a detective series.

Nancy: Which is kind of how the Old Testament Jews had to see it. They were getting these little clues along the way.

Barbara: It was a mystery. They didn’t know either. They had no idea who the Messiah was going to be. They didn’t know when He was going to come. They didn’t know what He was going to look like, but God kept giving them little clues, more and more information along the way, through the history of time.

As we approach the season of Lent, it’s a wonderful time for families to do something together of meaning, to help prepare their hearts for Easter. What better way to do it than to trace this mystery of who the Messiah would be through the Old Testament. Then when we get to Holy Week (the week that celebrates the Resurrection), we’ve got all this context that leads up to this moment, this occasion.

This is exactly the build-up that God intended in the Old Testament.

Nancy: That’s why when Jesus actually was born and was taken to the temple to be dedicated by His parents, you had Simeon in the temple, you had Anna in the temple. These people had been waiting all their lives for the redemption of Israel. These two elderly people just hoped to live to see the coming of the Messiah.

This is why as Simeon held this child and why as Anna saw this baby in Mary’s arms there in the temple, there was such excitement and joy. There was such gratitude that God had fulfilled His promise. I think we somehow miss the sense of wonder of what it means. 

Barbara: We haven’t lost just the sense of wonder, but the sense of anticipation. We have that sense of anticipation at Christmas, because many of us celebrate Advent. We have something to mark the weeks leading up to Christmas, and there’s all the anticipation associated with gifts and all of that. 

But there’s very little, if any, anticipation associated with Easter, and yet the whole Bible is an anticipatory story about Easter. So during the six weeks of Lent, it helps build that anticipation if you go through this as a family and you talk about the period of waiting, and the not-knowing, and the mystery, and how they knew they were waiting for someone but they didn’t know who.

We get to know who it is. We know the answer to the mystery, we know the answer to the story. But if we’ll take those six weeks of Lent and go back and pretend we don’t know the answer to the story, and then as a family we read the verses and we read the story of the Passover and story of building the temple and the story of Abraham and Isaac, when we get to Easter, we’ve built this great sense of anticipation for Holy Week, for Resurrection Sunday.

Therefore, the celebration at Easter is much more important. It’s much more meaningful; it’s much more as it should be. When we’ve taken the time to prepare our hearts and to prepare ourselves to celebrate the Resurrection.

Nancy: When we realize that God sent His Son to die, which is what we observe during Holy Week—the death of Christ, the trial, the accusation, the crucifixion of Christ for our sins (the Scripture tells us He died for our sins)—and then we realize because He is God, death could not keep Him its victim, its prey, so He was raised from the dead.

What a victory! Not only for Christ, but for us! We are raised in newness of life, and that means we can have victory over sin and death and Satan and hell. It’s not even Easter yet, and I’m really getting excited about this! Thank you, Barbara!

Barbara: Me, too! Part of the wonder is that all of that (everything you just said) was prophesied in the Old Testament, and we overlook that too much. But when we know where it is and what it says, it makes the celebration as it was intended to be—the high point of the year, the high point of the Christian calendar. It's the high point of our lives, to celebrate the Resurrection.

Nancy: This resource will actually get you and your family into the Word of God, digging in, studying together, looking for these clues, but in a way that is so interesting. It’s not dry; it’s not dull; it’s not boring. There are hands-on activities that you put with these different weeks. You tell what supplies are needed.

One of the ones I thought was interesting and I think a lot of families would enjoy doing was the week associated with the tabernacle. There were some clues to the coming Messiah embedded in the tabernacle in the Old Testament that let us know that a messiah was coming. Give us a little glimpse into what that week looks like in The Messiah Mystery.

Barbara: When you come to that session called "The Clues in the House," the activity (Dennis and I did this as adults; we thoroughly enjoyed it, but we didn’t do the activities. But if you have kids, this is a really fun activity) is that you get a piece of chalk and a tape measure and you go outside in your driveway—weather permitting, of course . . .

Nancy: If you live up here in Michigan, there’s still snow.

Barbara: I know, I know. So if you live in Michigan or up north and still have snow, you can do it in your living room. But if you can go outside, get a piece of chalk and draw on your driveway the dimensions of the tabernacle (it gives the dimensions in The Messiah Mystery).

You draw up those dimensions. You draw where the Holy Place is, and you draw the Holy of Holies. As you read the lesson, you draw some of the elements that were in the tabernacle. The instructions are that you sit in the Holy of Holies as a family as you do this project together.

So, again, weather permitting, draw the tabernacle or stake it out in your living room, or put a chair in each corner of a room and say, “This is how big the tabernacle was,” and “This is how big the Holy of Holies was. Let’s sit in this space and do the story on the tabernacle together.”

Then talk about all of the symbolism of the tabernacle. It was full of symbols, all pointing to Christ. When we know that, we know that richness that was there. And not just richness in wealth—there was wealth, because there was a lot of gold and a lot of really expensive furnishings. But we know the riches of the symbols that make knowing Christ a rich experience. That’s what we want, what we long for.

So it’s fun to sit there with your kids in your pretend tabernacle and talk about the lampstand—that’s a hint that Jesus is the light of the world. Talk about the bread. “Do you know why there was bread in the tabernacle?” Kids don’t know why.

“Let’s look at this verse and see what it says. Why is that a clue? What does that tell us about Jesus? Jesus said, ‘I am the bread of life.’” You go through all of those as a family, and it’s like eyes are opened and the wonder begins to grow. That’s we want! We want to be in wonder, we want to be in awe of what God did. 

Awe because the complexity and the intricacy of what He designed—not just for the tabernacle, but all throughout the Old Testament. It just leaves us speechless at what God did. We can participate in this, and we can know Christ, and we can know this history of His coming and the prophetic verses about His coming.

Then that leads up to Holy Week and Resurrection Sunday. It makes our worship and our celebration of the Resurrection not just meaningful, but really truly awe-inspiring. That’s what, I think, we long for in our hearts. We want to worship a God who truly is awesome—in the real sense of the word, not in the trivial sense of the word.

The more we know about Him, and the more we know about the context that He set in place for us to discover, the more we will be worshiping Him the way He needs to be worshiped.

Nancy: I’ll tell you what’s awe-inspiring to me as I’m hearing you describe this. I’m picturing sitting in that drawn version of the tabernacle in the Holy of Holies and being reminded that the Old Testament Jews could never go into that place. If they did, they died. They couldn’t even look in there.

And why can we go today into God’s very presence? Because Jesus went to the cross. The temple of His body was torn and broken, that big curtain, that big thick veil separating the holiest place from the rest of the tabernacle was torn in two from top to bottom by the hand of God. Through Jesus who is the way, the truth, and the life, we can come boldly into the presence of God; whereas, those Old-Testament Jews had to live in fear and trembling.

Of course, they placed their faith in the Messiah who was yet to come. Now we look back and we say, “Thank You, Jesus, for what You did there at Calvary, there on the cross, all those thousands of years ago, that makes it possible for me to be forgiven for all my sin, that makes it possible for me to come boldly unto Your throne of grace.” It is amazing that we can do that!

The tabernacle is that Old Testament glimpse that points us to Christ who was to make it possible for us to go into the presence of God.

I know we have many moms listening, grandmoms, who want for themselves and their teens and their children to have rekindled during this upcoming Lenten season a sense of the wonder, the awe of who Jesus is and why He came. I think if we’re not intentional about finding this—or other kinds of resources—that remind us and point us to Christ in this season, what happens is, our days are full, our lives are full, our schedules are full, and all of the sudden—oops. It’s Good Friday, and it’s Easter weekend, and we’re not ready for it—and it’s hubbub and an extra vacation day, and there’s traveling, and then it’s behind us, and we’ve missed it.

God wanted His people, from the Old Testament on, to stop and pause, to ponder, to prepare their hearts, to have symbols that would remind them of who Jesus is and why He came. Barbara has produced this fabulous resource. It’s a set; it’s a kit. Tomorrow we’ll tell you a little bit more about what’s in that. You can go to our website, ReviveOurHearts.com, you can see a description there.

I’m so excited to be able to make this resource available, The Messiah Mystery, to any of our listeners who’d like to have it for yourself, for your family, for a Sunday School class, for a neighborhood kids’ club you may want to hold over the Lenten season—one time a week, for six weeks leading up to Easter.

The Lenten period starts March 5, that’s just a few weeks from now. We’re airing this in time for you to order it. If you make a donation to Revive Our Hearts of twenty dollars or more, we will be glad to send you this entire set. Give us a call at 1–800–569–5959 and let us know what gift you’d like to make to Revive Our Hearts. Ask for The Messiah Mystery set. We’ll get that right out to you.

If you prefer to donate online, visit us there at ReviveOurHearts.com. My prayer is that as we seek the Lord over these next few weeks, we will find Him in a fresh new way.

We’re going to talk a little bit more about the meaning of Lenten season and of Resurrection Sunday and how we can prepare our hearts for that when we come back tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts, once again with Barbara Rainey.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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