Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hopeful Post-Christmas Melancholy

-by Jon Bloom
Each year Christmas night finds members of my family feeling some melancholy. After weeks of anticipation, the Christmas celebrations have flashed by us and are suddenly gone. And we’re left standing, watching the Christmas taillights and music fade into the night.

But it’s possible that this moment of melancholy may be the best teaching moment of the whole season. Because as long as the beautiful gifts remain unopened around the tree and the events are still ahead of us, they can appear to be the hope we are waiting for. But when the tree is empty and events are past, we realize we are longing for a lasting hope.

So last night, as Pam and I tucked our kids into bed, we talked about a few things with them:

Gifts and events can’t fill the soul. God gives us such things to enjoy. They are expressions of his generosity as well as ours, but gifts and celebrations themselves are not designed to satisfy. They're designed to point us to the Giver. Gifts are like sunbeams. We are not meant to love sunbeams but the Sun.
Putting our hope in gifts will leave us empty. Many people live their lives looking for the right sunbeam to make them happy. But if we depend on anything in the world to satisfy our soul’s deepest desire, it will eventually leave us with that post-Christmas soul-ache. We will ask, “Is that all?” because we know deep down that’s not all there is. We are designed to treasure a Person, not his things.
It is more blessed to give than receive. What kind of happiness this Christmas felt richer, getting the presents that you wanted or making someone else happy with something that you gave to them? Receiving is a blessing, but Jesus is right—giving is a greater blessing. A greedy soul lives in a small, lonely world. A generous soul lives in a wide world of love.
It’s just like God to let the glitter and flash of the celebrations (even in his honor) to pass and then to come to us in the quiet, even melancholic void they leave. Because often that’s when we are most likely to understand the hope he intends for us to have at Christmas.


Why Do You Think Christianity Is True?

By: John Piper

Why do you think Christianity is true?
What compelling evidence do you see for it?

You can come at the truth of Christianity through several angles of apologetics and reasoning. Let me mention a few and tell you the one that is most existentially real for me.

1) One would be historical. I think arguments can be mounted that are solid and compelling—first for the existence of Jesus, and then for the death and the resurrection of Jesus—to give an account for why the apostles were the way they were after his death.

The arguments that Pannenberg and Evangelicals have developed for the resurrection of the dead—Who Moved the Stone?-type arguments—are strong and have helped many people get over the barrier. Because if Jesus has been raised from the dead, never to die again, and ascended into heaven, then we should take very seriously and credit what he said about himself. So that's one line of evidence.

2) A second line of evidence is called presuppositional. It says that without God and the Bible as an assumption all of our reasoning processes and all of our perceiving processes are not possible.

In other words, every time we start thinking and every time we start perceiving, something is happening in our heads which assumes something. And if you're going to have any kind of credible conversation about what you're thinking or about what you're seeing, then you are assuming certain laws of logic, causality, and existence which can't have any absolute significance unless they're rooted in God.

So everybody is talking nonsense, but hardly anybody will say, "We're all just animals talking nonsense." Even those who are total secular, naturalistic evolutionists don't like to be treated like animals.

When a dog barks, I don't assume he's writing poetry. But when a man puts poetry down, I assume he wants me to take him seriously as a human being who has serious meaning there. He doesn't like it if I say, "O that's just chicken scratch!" So he's assuming something unbelievably profound about the significance and the basis of what he's doing, which he couldn't do unless he had a Christian construction of God.

So that's the presuppositional angle. Here's the third one, and the last one that is most significant to me.

3) How do you, when you want to decide if someone's testimony or witness is true? You weren't there. There were no videos. There was no recording. And you have to decide whether what he's saying happened actually happened.

When I read the Bible, that's the way I feel I am. I'm reading Paul, say, the 13 letters of the Apostle Paul. And he's telling me he saw the Lord Jesus, that he was knocked off of his donkey on the Damascus road, saw the Lord Jesus, was commisioned by the Lord Jesus, and now is inspired by the Lord Jesus. And then he interprets all of that in terms of the gospel.

I've got to reckon, "Paul, are you a lunatic? Are you a liar? Or are you telling the truth?" (Those questions are usually used with Jesus: "Are you a lunatic, a liar, or the Lord?") I think it's a good argument, and I use it for the writers of the New Testament, not just for Jesus. I know that I've got Paul right here in my hand, and I want to know, "Are you crazy?"

So when I'm reading the Bible, whether it's the Gospel of John or Romans, I'm asking the question, "How can I credit what's here, both the testimony of the man and the portrait of Jesus?" And I think there is a light that stands forth from the text of the truthfulness of Jesus that is self-authenticating. And there is a kind of character for the writers that stands forth that is authenticating of their solidity and truthfulness, confirming that they're not lunatics or liars.

If somebody said to me today, "Just tell me in 30 seconds why you're a Christian," I would say, "The portrait that I see of Jesus Christ in the Gospels is self-authenticating to me. I cannot meet this man and have him speak like nobody else spoke and not believe him. He wins my trust."

And then if they say, "Ah, but how do you know that that person is not being created by somebody else?" Then I would say, "Then the person creating him is just as phenomenal, and they win my trust. And if they win my trust then they're not lying to me." The Apostle Paul is not a lunatic. I cannot read the 13 letters of Paul and think he's crazy or a liar.

So those two things:

-the self-authenticating portrait of Jesus Christ that I find in Scripture, and
-the character-endorsing way that the apostles write their books and reveal their own trustworthiness.

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Doing Great!

Today we had a great update from Katelyn's pediatrician... she is gaining weight and her bilirubin levels are getting back to normal. Big sister Kalena also got checked out while she was there, and the doctor said that her cough and other symptoms were from a sinus infection, and not contagious! Which means that we were able to finally let Kalena spend some quality time with her new baby sister. Jenny got some great photos, too!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Katelyn Anna Lyon has arrived!

We're a bit late on the blog update, but unfortunately Kaiser Walnut Creek didn't have wi-fi! Katelyn was born at 2:14am on Sunday, November 29th! God was so merciful and gracious to provide a very quick delivery, family in town to take care of Kalena and Sara, and so many good friends to visit with while in the hospital.

In fact, really good friends of ours, Peter & Lisa Maclennan, had their daughter Emelia the day before us and were just a few steps away from us in the Mom & Baby wing! It was really fun sharing the joy of newborns together, and they were so cute when we put them next to each other in a bassinet.

Jenny and Katelyn are doing great at home, now, and we're so glad to be back together as a family. With flu season in full force, the hospital wouldn't let anyone under 14 or with any symptoms in the hospital, so we had to be without the girls for a couple of days, and that was the hardest thing!

Katelyn also has a little jaundice and she might have to be readmitted to the hospital if that doesn't improve. We will keep you up to date and try to post more pictures as we are able. We thank God for His goodness expressed through all your love and care for us!