FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Trading Sunsets

with Dennis and Barbara Rainey | March 1, 2019
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Dennis and Barbara Rainey reflect on more than 25 years of ministry through FamilyLife Today. Listeners chime in on how they've been blessed by both the Raineys and the radio program. Joining in on the affirmation is the Rainey's oldest daughter, Ashley.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Announcement: Dennis Rainey Transitions as Host of FamilyLife Today® with video announcement.
    40 Years of Faithfulness 2 CD set.
    Bob Lepine's Tribute to Dennis Rainey (9.2MB).
    Phone call tributes from listeners (9.2MB).

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Dennis and Barbara Rainey reflect on more than 25 years of ministry through FamilyLife Today. Listeners chime in on how they’ve been blessed by both the Raineys and the radio program.

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Trading Sunsets

With Dennis and Barbara Rainey
March 01, 2019
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob: And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition.

Dennis: What was the pudding he brought us?

Bob: The figgy pudding.

Dennis: Figgy pudding.

Bob: He brought us figgy pudding. You knew that I was going to include that phone call as a part of today’s program just so that he could brag about my Words with Friends abilities; right?

Dennis: I noticed that. [Laughter]

Bob: So, here we are—this is the last day. For listeners who haven’t been along for the ride the last couple of weeks, you made a decision—really, years ago—that you wanted to start aiming for the future and making plans for the future. A part of that was the transition for FamilyLife Today, and that transition is happening over this weekend. Your last day, as a regular contributor on FamilyLife Today—although, you’re going to stay around and still be a part of what we’ve got going on, going forward; right?

Dennis: It’s our hope to be contributors to FamilyLife Today. Barbara is very excited about Ever Thine Home® and a new book she is working on. We’ve got plenty of plans that are left in our bucket list, moving forward.

Bob: Well, I know, for a lot of listeners, their sadness—associated with the fact that you’ve been a part of their lives, in some cases, for decades—you’ve helped mentor them in their marriages; you’ve helped them raise their kids. To not have you here every day is going to feel wrong to them.

Dennis: There may be some of that sadness—I think that’s okay. I have some sadness as I sit here and think about this being my last broadcast; but I also know that transitions in life, as I’ll talk about at the end of this broadcast—they are really necessary. A fresh voice for this generation of young people/young marrieds to stand firm on behalf of marriage, and family, and raising kids today, and leaving a legacy—all very, very important.

I just felt like it was time while we’re still, I think, on the top of our game, doing very well. We’re rational; we’ve all made a good decision. Our health is good. There is no moral failure in my life or Barbara’s. We’re just looking forward to continue to be ambassadors for Christ and the family, going forward, and be stretched out to the finished line.

Bob: I have to think there are some folks, who are thinking: “Yes; what’s really going on there at FamilyLife; you know? What aren’t they telling us?” So, what aren’t you telling us?

Barbara: Well, that’s really sort of been who we are—

Dennis: Yes.

Barbara: —right? I mean—

Dennis: —straight-shooters.

Barbara: —we don’t really hide a whole lot. We’re pretty up front and honest about who we are and our struggles. There’s nothing else to be honest about. There’s nothing that we’re holding back. It’s the right time to transition; it’s the right time for us to hand it off, and we’re looking forward to what God has in store.

Bob: So, here is the deal. We’ve had a request for equal time, which came in after yesterday’s program, where three of your children came and—

Dennis: This happened at our house too. [Laughter]

Barbara: This is very true! [Laughter]

Bob: One of [the] siblings has come and said, “I want my time on FamilyLife Today.” In fact—

Dennis: You’re using their time up, Bob. Cut to the chase.

Bob: —this is the first of the six Rainey children to be a guest on FamilyLife Today. Back, when she was in high school, Ashley Rainey did a series with you on building character through discipline—one of the very first series we did on FamilyLife Today. We brought her in. Do you remember the broken pencil? Do you remember—

Dennis: That was on peer pressure.

Bob: It was on peer pressure; that’s right. Do you remember the broken pencil?

Dennis: Yes.

[Phone Conversation]

Bob: Ashley?

Dennis: Yes.

Ashley: I have it in my house right now; yes—it’s framed.

Bob: The original pencil?

Ashley: The original pencil is hanging proudly in my house. [Laughter]

Bob: It was one of those—your dad made you put it in an animal trap. It snapped—

Ashley: Yes.

Bob: —the pencil in half; right?

Ashley: Yes; it did.

Dennis: It did. I was trying to make a point that peer pressure can damage you, and you need to pay attention to the traps.

Bob: So, you were kind of the guinea pig child, growing up, in the Rainey household.

Dennis: It’s not good to refer to a woman as a guinea pig, Bob. [Laughter] You’ve made a lot of mistakes, here, on FamilyLife.

Bob: That’s one of them; that’s one of them—right there. [Laughter]

I’m particularly thinking of the Interviewing Your Daughter’s Date book that your dad wrote, because you were the initial experiment around all of your dates being interviewed by your dad; right?

Ashley: I was; so do you want me to say how I felt about that?—or—[Laughter]

Bob: Were you pretty excited about that when you were 15 years old?

Ashley: No; absolutely not! I thought it was horrible, and I had a lot of first dates. I did not have many repeats; and I mean, my dad just ruined my love life. [Laughter] It was horrible! But then—I’ll tell you what happened, Bob, that’s so interesting—as I got to college, and I had just first-dates that were horrible, I was like, “Um, Dad”—I called him; and I was like, “Can you come up here and interview my dates?—because this is really ridiculous!” I appreciated it as soon as my freshman year. I got to college; and I thought: “Ooh! I think that was a really good thing, actually.”

Bob: Ashley, as you think about today and your dad’s last regular appearance on FamilyLife Today, what thoughts do you have?

Ashley: Well, the first thing that comes to mind is a dinner—sitting around on Spillway Drive, where Dad sat down with all of us kids—Dad and Mom—and we talked about: “What would it look like, as a family, to go on radio/to start doing it?” I just remember that dinner, because Mom and Dad were real serious about it. They were trying to help us kids think it through, like: “What does this mean? What is the cost? What does that look like?”

It’s interesting, now, to look back on that; because I think, while we were glad that they were including us in the conversation, I’m sure we were all thinking: “Sweet! We’re going to be famous! This is going to be awesome,”—not realizing that what really was about to happen is that our choices were going to be aired. [Laughter] I think about that; and I just think it’s so interesting and so sweet of the Lord, in many ways, where—when He asks us to do something, and we step out in faith, none of us know what we’re getting into.

I think: “Wow! What a tremendous impact and just a profound ministry that radio has been for Mom and Dad.” And being a part of that, and allowing my life to be on display in whatever capacity it was—like, really, I don’t mind at all because it just reminds me that good can come from poor choices that we’ve made or even more glory from good choices. Things like Interviewing Your Daughter’s Date that Mom and Dad have equipped and helped equip and give tools in the tool belt for so many families—I mean, I know because they have for me, as their child.

I think I look back and I just think: “Wow! Amazing what God has done in 28 years by our family—and Mom and Dad in particular—just taking that step of faith and trusting that this is what He had for them for this last season.”

Bob: You need to know, as you were describing that dinner, your parents were looking at each other, going: “Do you remember that?” “I don’t remember that. Do you remember that?” They have no recollection of that dinner.

Ashley: They don’t remember that at all?!

Barbara: No; isn’t that funny?

Dennis: No.

Barbara: But I don’t.

Ashley: Hilarious!

Barbara: I mean, it sounds like something we would do—because I’m sure we did—but I don’t remember actually planning that out and leading you all in a discussion of that.

Bob: I remember you telling me that you’d had that conversation—

Barbara: That we did.

Bob: —with your kids, so—

Barbara: So you’re an eyewitness to Ashley.

Bob: —I’m here as a witness to Ashley. [Laughter]

Barbara: Okay; there you go.

Ashley: Thank you. Surely, one of the other five siblings would remember it besides me—like maybe one would support that.

Barbara: I’m sure someone else would remember.

Dennis: I think you’re right.

What I want to say is how proud I am of you—as a woman of faith / mother to seven boys—wow!

Barbara: Yes. [Laughter]

Dennis: I mean, what a courageous thing.

Bob: And a foster mom to how many now?

Ashley: We’ve had almost 30, I think, in our 8 years.

Bob: Wow.

Ashley: The legacy and the baton [were] passed on, and we are proud to carry it. Mom and Dad did a great job of just instilling to us just to have our focus beyond the here and now—beyond this world—because we are not of this world. Our home is not here, and we’ve got to look beyond that. I just think they did such a great job of casting that vision for us, as children—at least, for me in my life. It is my great privilege to carry it on and pass it to the next generation.

Bob: Well, that’s what happening here, today, as the baton is being passed to a new generation for FamilyLife Today. Ashley, thanks for taking a few minutes to be a part of today’s program.

Ashley: Thanks, you guys! Love you, Mom and Dad. Thanks for being my parents. I love being your daughter.

Barbara: Oh, sweetie; bye.

Dennis: Bye.

Ashley: Bye.

[End of Phone Conversation]

Bob: Well, as you think about the transition that’s taking place, what’s been on your heart?

Dennis: Well, I actually sat down, Bob, and I kind of wrote a letter to a few people about what I was thinking about here. If I can make it through this—well, let me just get started.

Barbara and I live at the end of a road that dead-ends into our home. It’s nestled against an oak-and-pine-forested ridge facing west, overlooking a beautiful lake and some 13 ridges of Ouachita National Forest.

Bob: Yes; some beautiful sunsets there.

Dennis: No doubt.

Barbara: Yes.


This time of year, our home witnesses some of the most spectacular sunsets in the country—sunsets that clap, and sing, and shout, and declare God’s existence, His creative genius, and yes, His glory. They also signal another day is about to end and that a new day is soon to begin.

As I write this, the sunset that is occurring today is causing me to reflect on my seven decades of life and God’s very good goodness. First, my mom and dad and the family I grew up in—I didn’t deserve them. My conversion when I was a boy, deciding to follow Christ. God’s provision of Barbara—a great woman, wife, and mother. Joining Cru® staff, back in 1970, and working with Cru’s founders, Bill and Vonette Bright.

It’s been the journey of a lifetime as Barbara and I had the privilege of starting FamilyLife, back in 1976, and then, with God’s provisions, launching a radio broadcast in November of 1992 called FamilyLife Today. FamilyLife Today had the signature of God from the very beginning when He provided a couple who made a donation and gave us the ability to start the broadcast. We were able to hire the very best availability on 22 of the very finest radio stations in the best markets, and He provided listeners.

In fact, I’ll never forget that first day we aired FamilyLife Today—you remember, Bob—

Bob: I do.

Dennis: —we stood over the telephones. [Laughter] We were told that, if we had an average of two phone calls from listeners per day/per station, after two years, we would have birthed a successful broadcast.

Bob: Yes.

Dennis: Well, you remember—at the end of the day, we were heard on 22 stations; and we had—how many phone calls?

Bob: We had 44 phone calls.

Dennis: —44 phone calls. [Laughter]

Our mission since that beginning has never wavered: “To effectively develop godly marriages and families who change the world, one home at a time.”

Barbara and my desire has been, from the very beginning of FamilyLife and FamilyLife Today, to invite listeners into a real relationship with the King of kings/the Lord of lords—surrendering their lives to Jesus Christ and receiving the free gift of His forgiveness/salvation and the promise of eternal life.

We have stood on the Scriptures that also teach the marriage covenant is the most sacred promise a man and a woman ever make to another person. We’ve embraced the Scriptures and unashamedly taught that men are to be the leaders of their marriages and to put their wives in their place—the place of honor/the place of value—nourishing and cherishing them as God’s gift to them, as husbands. Then we challenged men to give up their lives for their wives. Yes, we’ve been politically incorrect as we’ve dared to teach what the Scriptures proclaim—that wives are to submit to their husbands. Finally, we’ve stood strong for God’s view of children and equipped parents to raise the next generation to be a godly legacy.

In all this, our hope has been that we have encouraged you, as a listener, to honor God in your life by anchoring your faith in the Scriptures and grow as a follower of Christ. We’ve also challenged you to fulfill God’s purpose for your [life], marriage, and family and to become missional—reaching out to others to make an impact and make Him known and becoming a part of fulfilling the Great Commission.

Before I share with you what and who I’m going to miss:

Could I share with you a couple of things I’m not going to miss? [Laughter] First of all, grammarians—grammar gurus—

Bob: Is that what they’re called? [Laughter]


—those dear saints who caught me butchering pronouns, slaughtering verb tenses and pronunciation, and corrected me so many times of my errors as I slaughtered grammar. [Laughter]

Bob: Are you thinking of anyone in particular here?

Dennis: I’m not. [Laughter]

To you, I say, “If you only knew where I came from, you’d marvel at how much I’ve learned and improved.” [Laughter]

The second thing I won’t miss—the clock. So, so many times, the clock was enemy number one of a great interview, when I wished we could suspend time and just keep going.

Finally, I’m going to miss hearing from you, as listeners, and meeting you—so many of you, who have listened for decades—I’m humbled that you would tune in and give me and Bob your time:

a trucker driver from DC, who came up and hugged me and thanked me for being a mentor to him—as a man, a husband, and a father—because he had no dad; [Emotion in voice]

a young lady who grew up listening to FamilyLife Today as a child with her mom on the way to school—that young lady is now applying what she learned, as a little girl, in her marriage and as a new mom;

then, one of my favorites—a single woman in Northern Virginia, who called in and wanted to get her parents to the Weekend to Remember®. She had prayed, as a little girl, that their lifeless marriage and that their fights would stop and that their marriage would be resurrected by Jesus Christ. She won the prize and got her parents to the Weekend to Remember; and not only was their marriage resurrected, but they left the conference with their marriage on mission of leading a godly legacy. She regained hope, as a single woman, that marriage can work.

I’m going to miss hearing from all our intercessory prayer partners, who invested prayers in FamilyLife Today. Thanks for praying for Barbara, for me, our family, and this ministry.

I’m going to miss talking with Legacy Partners; yes—and challenging you to give more—and all the other donors, who made this ministry possible. I remember a letter from a homeless mother that contained a single dollar bill in it, thanking us for the help and hope she’d received from those broadcasts. [Emotion in voice] I have no idea how she listened. So, so many of you—thank you for keeping this broadcast and keeping FamilyLife going. I promised you that none of those gifts would stick to my fingers, and they haven’t. We used your financial investments to provide help and hope to millions of families in over a hundred countries around the world.

I’m going to miss my buddy, Al Sanders, who said, “No,” to 50 other guys who wanted to be on the radio over a five-year period; but for some reason, he said, “Yes,” to me. He believed in me and that I could do radio, as a young man, and put me on the air; then coached me—page after page of critiques and encouragement for the first three or four years of our broadcast. Thank you, Al and Margaret, for your marriage of more than 70 years.

And thank you to the entire team at Ambassador, who syndicated this broadcast from the get-go, especially Peggy and Jim.

I’m going to miss our station partners—oh, yes; so many of you broadcast partners making a generational impact in marriages and families in their communities. Thank you for caring about the spiritual condition of the marriages and families in your communities and then doing something about it, year after year.

I’m going to miss the great team that has been so faithful over the years—the radio team—the finest in all of Christian radio: [Emotion in voice] Keith, Tonda, Dan, Megan, and Bob. What can I say but: “What about Bob?” [Laughter] I’m going to miss all the fun we’ve had here on radio. Yes, we really are friends. FamilyLife Today is a program, but it’s not just a show—if you only knew how much fun we had here and had to cut out.

Thank you to Bob and Mary Ann for saying, “Yes,” and moving your family and investing your lives and vast creative talent and crafting the very finest broadcast on marriage and family available. It really was worth you giving up going to the Spurs basketball games; wasn’t it? [Laughter] Indeed, your legacy is mighty.

[Emotion in voice] Yes; it really is time for a sunset—a sunset of hosting FamilyLife Today—but like so many sunsets at our home, a sunset of one day signals a sunrise and a new day just around the corner. This sunset is no different. A new day is about to emerge for FamilyLife Today. You’re going to love Dave and Ann Wilson. You will totally enjoy them and benefit from their knowledge and application of Scripture.

This new day and sunrise is represented by a leader of FamilyLife that has been a spectacular one, and it’s getting even brighter. David and Meg Robbins are leading FamilyLife into a new day and even greater ministry, here and around the world. Could I ask you to pray for them, their family, and FamilyLife?

And I might add—this sunset represents the dawn of new day for Barbara and me. You know us well enough to know we are not retiring. Could I ask a favor of you? When you run into us, please don’t ask us if we like retirement—please, really, please! [Laughter]  The word, retire, is defined as “withdrawing from a position or a place.” It’s a military term that speaks of pulling back from battle. Listen to me, we are not retiring and pulling out of the battle. This is no time for us to retreat and coast to the finish line, and I might add—this is not a time for you to retreat either.

Barbara and I are recalibrating, rewiring, and re-firing for what God has for us next. To be clear, we will have more time for our children and our 24 grandchildren. Barbara is fired up about leading Ever Thine Home and helping families experience God in their homes and pass on their faith to the next generation. Together, we are going to be focusing on encouraging leaders and impacting the next generation—mentoring, speaking, writing—focusing on equipping men to impact a younger generation.

And if you’d like to keep track of what we’re doing on our new website, just go to When you do, you’ll see a sign on that website that says, “This website is like Dennis and Barbara—it’s under construction.” [Laughter]

I want to close in prayer:

Thank You, Lord God, for the privilege of this medium. Barbara and I stand amazed at how You have used a couple of very imperfect people; but thank You for how our Savior has taken these broken clay pots and how we have raised six, who are all doing their thing with our Savior, as well, and are making a difference in their communities. Thank You, Father, for our grandchildren.

And now, I want to thank You for these listeners. Use them for Your purposes and Your glory, and I pray that they would indeed be surrendered to the King of kings and the Lord of lords and that they would be on mission—that they would be fulfilling Your purposes for their generation. May You bless the work of their hands and hearts for Your purposes and Your glory until the whole world knows about Jesus Christ. In His name we pray. Amen.

Barbara: Amen.

Bob: Amen. I had the opportunity to share some thoughts with you about this transition [in] a meeting with our team, not long ago. For our listeners, who are interested, we’ve got that on our website at We also have a video that we put together that talks about the transition and has some of your thoughts on that as well. There’s actually a lot that folks can reflect on/look back over the last 26 years of FamilyLife Today. Go to our website,

And on behalf of listeners—all of us who have benefited from your life and your ministry, here, on FamilyLife Today for two-and-a-half decades—thank you. Thanks for your investment in our lives.

Dennis: Thank you. It’s been a privilege.

Barbara: Yes.


Bob: FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas;

A CruMinistry. Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.


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