Sh’mini (Eighth) – Thankfully, They Got It Right! – Torah Commentary

Torah Commentary

 unclean

Sh’mini (Eighth)

Leviticus 9:1-11:47

2Samuel 6:1-19

Mark 7:1-23

Acts 5:1-11;10:1-35

 

Thankfully, They Got It Right!

This week brings us to the Torah reading regarding what is clean and what is unclean. It contains possibly the most controversial and hotly contested debate of our day. Let’s approach it with reason and read it for just what it says.

Leviticus 11 is a direct message to the Hebrews about what is food and what is not food. Remember, they have just come out of a pagan land with pagan practices. They have eaten what the Egyptians ate with no knowledge of what was good for the body and what was harmful. The instructions Noah knew seem to have been lost along the way. They just ate anything that tasted good. (Sound familiar?) To this people, HaShem gives basic dietary laws that even medical science of our day agrees with. Doctors and nutritionists of our day will tell you that the animals which scripture states are unclean are not good for our health. Recent reports say that bacon can be altered in such a way that it is now good for your heart, but I wonder how long it will be before we find they were wrong.

Through the years many have tried to make scripture say something it does not say, to validate taste buds. Let’s look at a couple of examples.

When Yeshua or Paul talked about all foods being clean, keep in mind that they were talking about what was considered food in that day. Unclean animals were simply not considered food. To bring this into today’s society, I was just with friends who were speaking of their time in an Eastern country. They spoke of having to watch the menu very closely because it was easy to order dog instead of beef. That really turns my stomach. I mean, I love my dog, but once in a while she really aggravates me. No matter how aggravating she may be though, I have never once thought about putting her on the barbeque grill. I just do not think A-1 could help that go down!

The other example of misinterpretation is Peter’s vision. Go back and read it carefully. Peter was a prejudiced man as we see from some of Paul’s writings. He battled with this prejudice for quite some time. It took something dear to Peter’s heart to get through to him. In this case God used unclean animals. It got Peter’s attention!

Notice in Acts 10:17 Peter was struggling over what the vision was all about when a knock was heard at the door and the vision became clear. The vision had nothing to do with pork chops and shrimp. The vision was about taking the Good News of Yeshua to the Gentiles.

Paul understood this same principle in 1Timothy 4:4. He stated that everything HaShem created is good because it is made holy through the Word of God and prayer. This has been misquoted over the years taking out Word of God and simply quoting it as everything is holy because of prayer. Paul understood that you could pray all day and it would not change the words HaShem had given two thousand years earlier. The word holy simply means something set apart for a purpose. What He has stated is food is holy or set apart in this world for us to receive as nourishment. In that same line of thought, a pig or a lobster is also holy in that it is set apart to be a cleaner of the earth. Your kitchen mop may be holy in that it is set apart for cleaning the floor. I dare say you would never look at it while you are mopping and wonder what that would taste like with mayo and a bit of ketchup.

Peter and Paul got it right on that day. That’s a good thing; otherwise I as a “former gentile” would not be sitting here writing about a Jewish messiah who never once broke the Torah. I might instead be out in the back yard considering what kind of seasoning would make filet of dog taste the best!

Peter got it right and we are now part of His Kingdom. Maybe if we would get it right we would be a bit healthier, in our body and in His Kingdom!

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The Dark Side of Bible Prophecy By Gary Stearman on March 30, 2013

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People often ask why we spend so much time in the discussion of bizarre topics, like UFOs and hybrid giants. They wonder why prophecy studies give any time at all to weird subjects like mystery lights in the sky, aerial trumpets and explosions, “alien implants” and “the nephilim.” They wonder why some opt for prophetic sensationalism, rather than focusing on the Gospel, or maturing the saints with the Word of God through traditional Bible study.

Such questions are not really new. Traditionally, the mainline institutional church has criticized Christians at the cutting edge of prophecy study for being irrelevant and speculative. They have taken the view that this age is going to end somehow, but the details are so unsupportable that no one can say exactly how. They insist that the elements of Bible prophecy are so confusing that no one can understand them anyway. Rather than have disagreement, they say, let’s avoid the subject entirely. Let’s just spend our time on teaching the daily walk in Christ. Maturing the saints is the real work of the church.

But Bible prophecy is now shining light on places that we’ve never been before. The stage is set in the Middle East. Latter-day Israel is positioned to fulfill the many prophecies laid out in the Old Testament. These deal with Egypt, Iran, Turkey, Syria, Jordan and other revolutionary powers appearing in the daily news.

In addition to that, the prophesied one-world governmental system is being forged into recognizable form, following two World Wars and growing stockpiles of superweapons. The shadowy outlines of Daniel’s fourth beast empire can now be recognized. It will arise out of a series of wars and economic cataclysms. All these things are poised for final fulfillment.

For over half a century, Bible scholars have detailed these and other international developments. Their books and recorded lectures are everywhere. They have sounded their warnings to anyone who would listen. Some have heeded their words; most have not. The important point here, is that regardless of the many disagreements, prophetic Bible study has now been accepted as more or less normal. There are different methods of interpretation, but the general belief is that we’re living in the end times.

This is an important factor for many Christians. In popular culture, it has become known well enough that non-Christians ridicule it. But even they grudgingly acknowledge its primary assertions. For example, the rapture is often lampooned on network television comedy stages. Even Jesus’ Second Coming is now being parodied as some kind of laughable fantasy.

Something New Has Been Added

The time has come. There is another aspect of Bible prophecy that, up until the last couple of decades, has remained quietly in the background. It grows out of the biblical pronouncement that the latter days would witness a veritable explosion of dark and alien power. The reality of this development is becoming self-evident.

Books, television, motion pictures and video games are replete with themes of malevolent beings that rise from the depths of Hades, and descend from the heavens. Whether they be outer-space aliens, fallen angels or devils escaped from the dungeons of the deep, they create a reality that haunts the mind of modern man. The veil that separates them from humanity is already growing thin. Among the young, there is a popular fascination with the human “undead” – werewolves, vampires, zombies and the like – who have risen to create their own reality. A generation ago, they fell in love with the cuddly E.T., the extraterrestrial. Creatures like him, both good and bad, have arrived in the hundreds. Fiction teems with his ilk.

These “imaginary” creatures have created a reality all their own. But curiously, they resemble biblical descriptions of the myriads of the damned. However, as mentioned in Scripture, they are anything but imaginary. Their presence should come as no surprise to Bible-believing Christians. Like expanding clouds, their presence rolls across the landscape, darkening this once-blessed nation.

In response, students of Bible prophecy are beginning to speak and write about subjects that have not been considered appropriate within the bounds of Christian tradition.

Actually, most of our time is spent on Scriptural exegesis concerning Bible prophecy and its relevance to current world events. And there, we are again faced with the basic question: If the supernatural is manifesting itself on a global basis, should we ignore it? Of course not! The Word of God always provides the best explanation for every event of our daily lives, no matter how bizarre or unexpected.

Once, not so long ago, the study of Bible prophecy was confined to certain classic approaches. Scholars dealt with prophecies of the Millennium, Daniel’s Seventy Weeks, Christ’s First and Second Comings, the destiny of the Church, the rise of the Antichrist, the nature and timing of the judgments, Dispensational issues and so on. But something in the world has radically changed. After two world wars and the development of computers, lasers, particle-beam weapons, high-tech surveillance systems and the rise of government monitoring, our vision of the future has become a ghastly mélange of sci-fi terror, satellite spying and the specter of genetic manipulation. DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research projects Agency, has declared its intent to develop genetically enhanced super-soldiers, and super-intellects with imbedded microchips. Once underway, there will be no end to such diabolical tinkering.

In the latter case, gene-splicing is now taking its place in modern medicine. Animals can be made to grow human replacement parts. But isn’t such an animal a chimera? And the Mosaic Law expresses God’s displeasure with such abortive creations. It forbids even the interbreeding of species, and current experimentation is much more serious than that.

Now, we are discovering that even classic physical and biological research is emerging at the forefront of the present eruption of sinister phenomena. This world has long been driven by dark entities lurking just behind the scenes. Now, they are coming forward into full view.

Those who bother to study the literature will quickly discover that every world government has highly-funded programs that deal with the paranormal: Top-secret organizations (already well established by the time of the Eisenhower administration) have devoted black budgets to the investigation and exploitation of strange alien activities. Their copious records reveal that they believe they are dealing with extraterrestrials from other planets. As we have pointed out over the years, every major government in the world has devoted its resources to working with these entities. Of course, we view them as demonic.

A visible example of this is the British military preoccupation with mysterious crop circles. Debunkers attempt to explain the complex mathematical designs as the products of imaginative hoaxers. But thousands of witnesses in England can document the sudden appearance of military helicopters and jets flying low over the newly-emerging crop designs that appear in the fields near Silbury Hill and Stonehenge. Curiously, these are the sites of ancient pagan religions … the “high places” of wicked sacrifices. Who’s making those exotic designs? None other than the ancient demonic powers!

From vampires to crop circles and beyond, ghostly and mystical apparitions appear in the vision of a public steeped in the ubiquitous background of dark supernatural literature, movies, video games, and demonic worship. In case you hadn’t noticed, these are constantly available in entertainment centers and living rooms around the world.

To explain these new experiences, we must turn to Scripture. After all, the Bible is the final authority on every aspect of life. More urgently than ever, we are returning to its pages in a quickening attempt to understand these new experiences. In the last couple of decades, we have become increasingly curious about UFOs and alien abductions. At the same time, we’ve become more conscious of the fact that Scripture speaks of aliens and their illicit relations with humans. It tells us about the fallen angels and giants who strode the Earth in ancient days, and their success in interbreeding with humans.

Scripture speaks of the unspeakable: Often, the ancient gods of Mesopotamia, Canaan and Egypt were human/animal hybrids, called “chimeras.” As this is written, they are a scientific reality. The coding of God’s genetic designs has been deciphered, enabling scientists to create genetic monsters in the name of improvement. The cure of disease and deficiency through creative genetics is possible, but at what price? The old world of Noah was destroyed precisely because of such genetic tampering.

Scripture tells us that there is nothing new about these things, as strange as they may seem. The Bible is becoming far more than a guide to daily devotions; it is a manual that offers the only hope for surviving the coming maelstrom.

Back to Daniel

To illustrate this premise, we should note that even the “prophetic classics,” like the book of Daniel, have recently opened up in unexpected ways that cast new light on the dark side of Bible prophecy. A perfect example of this is Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream:

“31 Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. 32 This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, 33 His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. 34 Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces” (Dan. 2:31-34).

The traditional interpretation of this monstrous image is that its four metallic sections represent four great world empires, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. The latter-day revived Roman Empire is seen in the statue’s iron legs and its feet of iron and clay. Iron is the metal of enterprise and the industrial revolution. Iron smelting in the Roman Empire and the Western world created armies and machines of war, later rising on the power of its development in shipping, railroads, skyscrapers and bridges, to name of few of its attributes.

Common sense and simple observation will tell anyone that when an attempt is made to mix iron and brittle clay, the result is structurally unsound. This prophecy suggests that the iron empire will ultimately collapse because of its weakened foundation. But this raises an important question. Namely, what does the clay represent? Iron, we can understand. But clay … is it an infiltration of opposing principles? Is it an invasion by other nations?

Until recently, it was conceded that this was some human scheme that would topple the empire of iron. A popular view was that it referred to political marriages. Others have conjectured about the meaning of this strange prophecy, but the answer has evaded their grasp.

Fortunately, thanks to the context of the contemporary era, we now know exactly what it means. The verses that follow mention a group of interlopers, who attempt to inject themselves into the human race:

“42 And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. 43 And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay” (Dan. 2:42,43).

Here, we find that a latter-day mystery group will endeavor to mix its own genetic material with the “seed of men.” This expression is clearly speaking of the human genome. The seed of man is his genetic signature. And from beginning to end, the Bible is preoccupied with the idea that this seed is central to salvation. From the seed of Adam and Eve came the seed of Abraham and the twelve tribes. From the tribe of Judah came the seed of the woman. From it, sprang the virgin-born Messiah, Jesus.

That being said, it is clear from this prophecy that there will be another, latter-day attempt by the mysterious “they” to infiltrate the genome of mankind. They know that if human seed can be corrupted, it will render God’s plan of redemption null and void.

When did this happen the first time, and who did it? The clear answer is given in Genesis, Chapter Six, in the record of the fallen angels who mingled their seed with the seed of mankind, resulting in a societal monstrosity that God was forced to destroy in the Flood of Noah. There is growing historical evidence that the entire creation – human and animal – was tainted.

Daniel’s prophecy tells us that just before the giant statue’s iron legs crumble (in the days of the Great Tribulation), fallen angels will descend openly to Earth once again. Then, they will repeat their evil work. Jesus own statement gives credence to this idea, as recorded in Luke 17:26:

“And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.”

Are we living in these days now? The answer is “Yes, certainly.” And how do we know this? Because those with eyes to see can understand that an alien force is now infiltrating the human race, with the express purpose of creating human-alien hybrids, some of which are indistinguishable from pure human beings. In other articles, we have documented the abduction phenomenon in explicit detail.

And why would they do this? To create a race of beings from which the Antichrist will emerge. In Revelation, he is called the “beast.” A beast is not a human being.

We have arrived at the heart of this “unmentionable” topic: human/alien hybridization. If it’s in the Bible, and if we see the first signs of it in daily observation, we should discuss it.

In Daniel, Chapter Eleven, the prophet gives us his view of the “beast.” It is couched in terms of what we would call “the supernatural.” But again, we must deal with it as a reality:

“36 And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done. 37 Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all. 38 But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things. 39 Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain” (Dan. 11:36-39).

Here, we see Daniel’s vision of the Antichrist. His description, perfectly in agreement with that seen in Revelation, displays a persona of things mystical and paranormal. He appears as superhuman, above earthly temptations of the flesh, disdaining relations with women and with any competing “god.” He sees himself as unique, even indomitable. His appearance suggests that he is something different from a normal human being. In fact, it is strongly suggested that he is controlled by a dark power who occupies and guides his mind. He would not be the first despot to fit this category, but he will be the most powerful example of it. To ordinary humans, he will seem like a superior being, able to summon the powers of the heavens.

In short, he is seen as godlike, making amazing proclamations of virtually divine nature, during the Tribulation.

He does not honor the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But he establishes himself in Jerusalem, apparently in an edifice built upon the Temple Mount. Who is he?

Seen in the context above, he must be something other than human … a semi-human creature spawned by the mysterious “they” of Daniel’s earlier vision.

We live in alarming proximity to the fulfillment of this prophecy. At present, we are in transition to a time when the supernatural will become the natural.

We have reached the time when Bible prophecy has become serious. Its dark side is rapidly becoming visible. This being the case, the end of the Church Age must be very, very near.

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MANY ARE SUFFERING TODAY

MANY ARE SUFFERING TODAY
by David Wilkerson
[May 19, 1931 – April 27, 2011]

praise-god-through-hard-times

I know my family and I are not the only ones suffering and enduring great
afflictions. I receive many heartrending letters from godly Christians who are
going through the greatest testing they have ever known.

Never have so many come down with cancer. Never have there been so many hurt by
divorce, with mates abandoning homes and giving up on marriages. Never have so
many been burdened down with financial problems. Never has there been such a
time of trial, confusion, pain, and deep hurt. God’s most beloved children are
going through refining fires. While it is true that “many are the afflictions
of the righteous,” it also is true that “the Lord delivereth him out of them
all” (Psalm 34:19).

I have been praying, “God, You told us to come boldly to Your throne of grace
to obtain mercy to help in our time of need. We desperately need Your mercy.”

Is there hope for any of us in these trying times without mercy from the Lord?
What do we do as believers when the enemy comes in like a flood? Why do those
who are so deeply devoted to Christ have to endure such unusual testing?

I do not have all the answers. I know that the righteous suffer and I know that
many godly people reading this message are hurting and may be wondering why they
must endure so much pain. I also know that when you take your place in the holy
of holies, you discover testings unknown to those in the outer court.

The daily news is filled with horror and violence but do not for a moment let
that mar your vision of a glorious church rising up in the midst of the ruin
and confusion to take dominance and authority.

A holy, forgiven, rested body, holding to Christ the head, is being revealed in
clearer measure. This victorious body is coming into sharp, well-defined view,
flexing its spiritual muscle, threatening the very powers of Satan.

The prognosis for the body of Christ is unbelievably glorious and nothing this
ungodly world does can adversely affect it or change its purpose!

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Franklin Graham Says ‘Sin-Sickened’ America Must Repent

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Franklin Graham says America is living in “dark days” morally and spiritually as more same-sex couples get married, marijuana cigarettes are lit up in public places, and television is awash in blatant immorality.

The “sin-sickened” state of America will have far greater consequences than a “fiscal cliff,” the evangelist warned.

“For the past few weeks, the media has been focused on what has been termed as the nation’s ‘fiscal cliff.’ Our country’s financial problems, however, are nothing compared to the spiritual and moral cliff that is far more destructive to our nation than any economic concerns,” Graham said in a public letter last week.

Head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Graham pointed to the November election results and culture as examples of the moral dive he is seeing in the states.

Same-sex marriage was approved in three states (Maine, Maryland and Washington) by popular vote for the first time in U.S. history in November. Also, an amendment in Minnesota that would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman was defeated.

The November election also saw the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in Colorado and Washington State by popular vote.

Even before the election, Graham’s father, Billy Graham, had expressed how much his heart aches for America as it moves farther away from God.

Now echoing the words of his father, Franklin Graham believes all hope is not lost if repentance and revival happen.

“These are indeed dark days … but there is hope,” he said. “No question our country’s foundations are being destroyed, but I am reminded of an era in the Old Testament where the Lord moved in a dramatic way to bring godly change to a spiritually dark and depraved nation like Judah, whose moral foundations had been seriously eroded.”

Comparing America to the days when Manasseh ruled over Judah, Graham noted that even though Judah was full of evil with the shedding of innocent blood, witchcraft and the worship of false gods, revival came.

Manasseh’s grandson, Josiah, led the land to repentance after uncovering the book of the law (first five books of the Bible).

“For far too long, as a nation we have neglected-and even rejected-the Word of God and His commands. Yet the Scriptures are mighty, able to penetrate even the most hardened and darkened hearts with convicting, life-giving power,” said Graham. “They are God-breathed, and any new season of repentance and revival in America can only come through a renewed focus on the great truths of God’s Word.

“Just as the Lord used an 18-year-old king to begin revival in a corrupt nation more than 1,500 years ago, He can use us as we earnestly seek Him, stand for His truths, and pray for America. This is the only cure for a sin-sickened country that is about to slip into a moral abyss, and it is why we must proclaim the Good News.”

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Urbana 2012: David Platt Warns That Christians Have ‘Reduced Jesus to Puny Savior’

ST. LOUIS – Author and pastor David Platt gave an impassioned plea to thousands of mostly college-age students to commit their lives to Jesus Christ regardless of the cost to their lives while preaching during Urbana 2012, a triennial student missions conference. Platt warned that many Christians have reduced the eternal significance of Jesus.

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“Jesus is the alpha and the omega. He is the beginning and the end. He is the first and the last. He is the final amen … Christ our Creator, our deliverer, our everlasting father, He is God,” said Platt from the stage inside the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis before an estimated 16,000. “Jesus is the very word of God made flesh … Jesus is all of these things and [yet] we have reduced Him to a poor, puny savior who is just begging for us to accept Him into our hearts.”

Platt, who is the lead pastor at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., made the point that people (believers and nonbelievers) need Jesus more than they realize.

“Your heart is beating at this moment because Jesus is giving it rhythm and if He were to stop, so would you,” he said. “For far too long and in far too many ways we have minimized the majesty of Jesus in the church and we have deluded what it means to be His disciple in the world.”

Earlier in the day, during an Urbana press conference, Platt said that he wanted to convey to his audience that “Jesus is worthy of our trust.”

He explained, “He’s worthy of our plans and dreams. He’s worthy of our affections. When we see His worth for who He really is then we will eagerly, willingly and gladly give our lives, even lose them if necessary to make His glory known to the ends of the earth.”

While discussing parts of the Gospel which describe Jesus asking people to do such things as give up everything they own, Platt wondered how people today would respond.

“This is where we come face-to-face with the frightening reality. Jesus has said these things to us. He has beckoned every single one of us to love Him in a way that makes our closest relationships in this world look like hate in comparison,” he said. “He has called us all to die to ourselves. He has called every single one of us to give up everything we have to Him.”

To make Scripture more palatable, people often make translations of the Bible that shy away from the reality of what Jesus is asking His followers, Platt said.

“This is where we start redefining Christianity according to our preferences. This is where we start taking the Jesus of the Bible and twisting Him into a Jesus who we are a little more comfortable with – a Jesus who looks like us and thinks like us and talks like us, a Jesus who is okay with nominal devotion, who doesn’t mind materialism. A Jesus who wants us to avoid dangerous extremes,” he said.

The real danger is that when Jesus is molded into “our image” then Christians who are gathered at church are not worshipping the Jesus of the Bible, Platt emphasized.

“We are singing songs and lifting up our hands to ourselves,” he said. “The danger is we think we are worshipping Him.”

Prior to Platt, Chai Ling, author of A Heart for Freedom and twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her role in leading the Tiananmen Square Student movement, gave her testimony about accepting Jesus into her life. Ling is the founder of All Girls Allowed, whose goal is to lift up Jesus’ name by exposing and ending the human rights violations caused by China’s one-child policy.

The Urbana conference concludes on Monday, New Year’s Eve.

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A HEALING WORD FROM HEAVEN

A HEALING WORD FROM HEAVEN
by David Wilkerson
[May 19, 1931 – April 27, 2011]
jesusimages
Jesus was drawn to an impotent man lying by the pool of Bethesda. “And a
certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When
Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he
saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?” (John 5:5-6). This unnamed crippled
man has many faces and represents multitudes of impotent Christians who feel
hopeless.

Impotence comes in many forms: physical, spiritual, mental—or all of these at
once. Mentally and spiritually you may be that man lying by the pool. You are in
a situation that seems hopeless and you see no way out. No one really
understands the depth of your suffering; not a single friend or loved one seems
to have the time, love or energy to really touch the hurt in you.

Take a good look at that impotent man and think of the years of struggle, the
hurts heaped upon him by uncaring, insensitive people. How often he must have
lifted a withered hand to those rushing by to get their own needs met, crying,
“Someone, help! Please! I can’t do it on my own!”

Multitudes of Christians are spiritually helpless and impotent because of a
lingering battle with some besetting sin that has robbed them of spiritual life
and vitality. They lie helpless on the bed of depression and despair, always
hoping for a miracle, always waiting for someone to stir things up and make
something happen. They drag themselves to meeting after meeting, counseling
sessions, seminars, waiting for that one great, life-changing miracle. But
nothing changes.

I believe God’s great love is revealed in response to a cry from the
heart—and I believe Jesus came to this man in answer to a deep and agonizing
cry to the Father. The Bible has much to say about this cry from the heart. “In
my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God; he heard my voice out
of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears” (Psalm 18:6). A
cry to God from the heart will always be answered by a merciful, healing word
from heaven!

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Rick Warren Condemns Uganda Anti-Gay Bill After Faith, LGBT Groups Call for Response

A number of organizations are raising international awareness on the debate concerning Uganda’s proposed death penalty for homosexuals, and have called on Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren to once again speak out on the issue – which he did on Friday via Twitter.

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Conflicting accounts stemming from Uganda have reported on where the African nation stands in its review of an anti-homosexuality bill that has been condemned by many Western countries.

Uganda is one of the only places in the world where engaging in homosexual activity is considered a crime, punishable by fines and jail time, with some government members pushing to make same-sex acts a capital punishment offense.

Some reports stated that Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga had announced that the capital punishment proposal would be dropped as a “Christmas gift” to gay rights advocates, but others have said that it still remains unclear what the Uganda government will actually decide.

Pastor Rick Warren, whose work fighting AIDS has taken him around the continent and has given him the opportunity to visit and work in Uganda many times, posted on Friday a Twitter message reading: “An unjust law in Uganda is back in the news. I opposed it 3 yrs ago and I still do,” which was also shared with The Christian Post by Kristin Cole, a spokesperson for Warren.

In his statement three years ago, Warren stated that it was not his role to interfere with the politics of other countries, but that he still has a duty to speak out on moral issues. He said the bill was “unjust, extreme and un-Christian toward homosexuals.”

As to why he hadn’t made the statement when the bill first started making rounds in Uganda’s parliament, he said that “some erroneously concluded that I supported this terrible bill, and some even claimed I was a sponsor of the bill. He added, “I oppose the criminalization of homosexuality.”

Before Warren’s Twitter response, a number of groups had called on him to address the issue before his followers. His book, The Purpose Driven Life, is one of the most popular Christian books ever written with millions of copies sold worldwide. Saddleback Church hosts over 20,000 people for services on a weekly basis, and Warren’s Twitter has over 800,000 followers.

Faithful America, an online community of citizens motivated by various faiths who speak up on social and political issues, shared with The Christian Post that over 13,000 people have signed an online petition calling for Pastor Warren to take a more prominent stand against the proposed death penalty provision tied to Uganda’s anti-gay bill.

“Rick Warren, it’s time for you to again speak out against the Ugandan legislation that would make homosexuality punishable by life in prison or even the death penalty,” the petition urges. “Your history of associating with anti-gay extremists in Uganda means you have a moral obligation to work tirelessly to prevent this bill from becoming law.”

GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) also shared a blog post where it addressed the danger of the anti-gay bill passing in Uganda, and although the organization acknowledged that Warren spoke out against it in 2009, it asked that he and other evangelical Christian leaders talk to their followers about the issue once more.

“Why have Rick Warren and other evangelical leaders remained silent? As the bill awaits an imminent parliamentary vote, there is no time for contemplation; direct and decided speech against this bill is the only option as the international community looks to safeguard the LGBT community in Uganda,” GLAAD wrote.

Uganda is expected to make a final decision on the anti-gay bill and the proposed death penalty by the end of the year, although no firm date has been set as of yet.

The Uganda government did not respond to emails sent by The Christian Post to clarify where the bill currently stands.

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