TWO WEEKS AGO, WE RETURNED HOME from a family get-together in Fiji. It was fabulous! For over a year I’ve wanted to gather our family from the four-corners of the earth at one geo-location. We hadn’t seen our older daughter in two years, and it would have been another two if we didn’t go on this trip. We all needed this vacation, and we needed to be disconnected and away from our worlds. Fiji is located half-way between us. It was the nicest and least expensive option. In addition to all the practicalities, the Lord blessed us in a multitude of unanticipated ways. Continue reading “Fiji – Where Jesus Gives Vinaka Bula! (Eternal Life!)”
A just released, 887-page grand jury report states that 301 Catholic priests have abused 1,000 children over a 70-year period in Pennsylvania. The report also documents the church leadership’s massive cover up of these unconscionable acts. The problem was systemic. The church hierarchy not only failed to protect the most vulnerable under their care; they hid it. The report’s findings are tragic and contemptible. Real lives were, and still are, devastated. God takes such heinous sin seriously: Continue reading “Does Pastoral Abuse Invalidate Christianity?”
HAVE YOU EVER SQUIRMED OUT OF CONCERN that you may have committed the unforgivable sin? I did, when I first read about it in Matthew 12:31. What is “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, and why is this sin unforgivable?” Let’s look at the larger context of Mt 12:22–32 to better understand what Jesus meant.
The passage begins with Jesus healing a demon-possessed man who was both blind and mute. The crowds were amazed at this miracle and asked if He was the Son of David, the promised Messiah. When the Pharisees heard what the people were asking, they declared in 12:24, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”
SINCE LAST SEPTEMBER, I’ve been a discussion leader in the Alpha evangelism program on Thursday nights at our church. It’s an international program that’s been around since 1990. You probably know about it.
Each night participants streamed into the auditorium and made their way to their tables. Well, not all of them streamed-in. There were two people who struggled to swing their legs out of their car and then they’d wrestle with their walkers to get them out of the back seat. Once mobilized, they proceeded to, and I can’t think of a better term, ‘snail’ their way toward the front double doors where they’d noisily wrestle with each of those too. Others would usually come to their aid.
Those closest to me keep encouraging me to write about navigating through suffering, disappointment, and discouragement. They think that because I have a nero-muscular disorder (see my post God is With Us In Our Pain), was diagnosed with cancer last November, and had surgery in March to end three years of suffering with a prostate condition, that I must be good at it. Good enough, anyway, to offer some insight and wisdom. But, frankly, I’d rather be known as a great rock-climber, surfer, or skydiver.
Christmas is the celebration of “God with us” in Christ, through the miracle of the Incarnation. The action of God seeking and being with His people, is the overarching theme of the Bible. Christ with us is the reason for the season.
Thank you, for following my blog this year! Merry Christmas!
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Rob Oberto, D.Min., is the award-winning author of “Intimacy With God” available from Amazon. ©2017 Rob Oberto, All Rights Reserved.
Today, in a Facebook post, my wife and I learned that a friend named Mark Price died in a car crash yesterday morning at 9:30. He was 48. Our hearts are deeply saddened. Such an event causes us to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas — Jesus came to bring eternal life for all who choose to believe in Him. Earlier this year, our friend wrote on Facebook about his choice to believe in, and follow, Jesus. Below, he wrote:
Is God’s forgiveness enough, or does complete forgiveness require self-forgiveness? The biblical answer is: “God’s forgiveness completely absolves us of our sin.” Self-forgiveness, is not a biblical concept.
However, our emotions are quite real and we must distinguish between the efficacy of God’s forgiveness of sin and the management of our grief and self-condemnation. We receive His forgiveness, but we often have to work through our emotions.
How did the Magi know when to start looking in the sky for signs of the Messiah’s birth? The answer is in the instructions Daniel received from Gabriel over 500 years prior to the Magi’s journey. Daniel had given them a heads-up as to when to expect the King to be born. All we need is the right starting point and some simple math to figure out this little mystery.