The Bible passage for meditation, pray and reflection for the week of July 20-26, 2014, is 1 Thessalonians 3:2-5. Paul, along with Silas and Timothy, are writing to the church at Thessalonica. Paul and Silas were arrested and run out of town shortly after they established the church. Paul is anxious to return to the church, but has thus far been prevented from doing so. Instead Timothy was sent to encourage the fledging church.
And we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s servant in [spreading] the good news (the Gospel) of Christ, to strengthen and establish and to exhort and comfort and encourage you in your faith,
That no one [of you] should be disturbed and beguiled and led astray by these afflictions and difficulties [to which I have referred]. For you yourselves know that this is [unavoidable in our position, and must be recognized as] our appointed lot.
For even when we were with you, [you know] we warned you plainly beforehand that we were to be pressed with difficulties and made to suffer affliction, just as to your own knowledge it has [since] happened.
That is the reason that, when I could bear [the suspense] no longer, I sent that I might learn [how you were standing the strain, and the endurance of] your faith, [for I was fearful] lest somehow the tempter had tempted you and our toil [among you should prove to] be fruitless and to no purpose. (1 Thessalonians 3:2-5, AMP)
Paul was concerned! He had not been able to spend the time he wanted with the church and fully establish it, as he did with most churches. In Thessalonica, there was severe opposition to Christians, which is why Paul and Silas were forced to leave. The Thessalonians are being reassured that suffering for our faith is not unusual. We should expect it! We are not going to have a cozy, comfortable life by serving Christ. We are going to have trials and tribulations. Paul knew this and was deeply concerned for the Thessalonian Christians, praying that they would have strength. Paul was also giving them comfort. We do not have to face our trial and tribulations alone! Christ is always with us, as are fellow believers in Christ. As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this week’s verse, consider your life in Christ. Is it comfortable? Are you challenged? Find a mentor or friends who is willing to help you through your trials.
Daily Bible Reading for July 23, 2014, with Commentary: Psalm 87-89
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Context: The first two psalms in today’s reading were written by the Sons of Korah. Psalm 87 looks at Zion, the city which all nations will come to worship God. It is a psalm of praise. By contrast, Psalm 88 is one of suffering, one of pain, one of darkness. We all have low points in our lives, when we feel as if everything is going wrong and there is nothing good. As believers in Christ, we always have a Ray of Hope to break through the darkness: the Lord God, who has granted us eternal salvation. Unlike most psalms of worry, this psalm ends on a dark note, but often it is darkest right before the dawn of something better. Psalm 89 is the final psalm in the Levitical section of psalms. It is written by Ethan the Ezrahite, about which we know nothing other than he wrote this psalm. This psalm celebrates the promise God made to David (to forever establish the line of David) and implores God to uphold his promise. It would be several hundred more years before God would sent His Son, Jesus Christ, fulfilling the promise. The theme of the psalm is established in verses 1-4, followed by a praise of God (5-18), the record of the promises (19-37), and pleading with the Lord to fulfill them (38-52).
Update: July 23, 2014 2:35 pm EDT
The Arizona Supreme Court has lifted the stay of execution granted to Joseph Wood earlier today, allowing the execution to proceed.
Update: July 23, 2014 1:45 pm EDT
The Arizona Supreme Court issued a stay of execution for Joseph Wood moments before the execution process was scheduled to begin. The stay was granted so that the court can consider his petition for review. Joseph's execution could be carried out later today, if the Arizona Supreme Court lifts the stay of execution.
Update: July 22, 2014 7:30 pm EDT
The Supreme Court of the United States has lifted the stay of execution for Joseph Wood. Joseph was granted a stay of execution late last week by a three-judge panel for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Joseph’s case went before the Supreme Court of the United States after the full 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to rehear the case.
Update: July 21, 2014 8:00 pm EDT
Last week, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, stayed the execution of Arizona inmate Joseph Wood on the grounds that not knowing from where the state obtained its dose of lethal injection drugs and the names and qualifications of the members of the execution team violated Joseph’s First Amendment rights. Arizona appealed the ruling to the entire 9th Circuit Court of Appeal, which refused to consider the case. The state is now appealing to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Update: July 21, 2014 11:15 am EDT
Joseph Rudolph Wood III was scheduled to be executed at 10 am MST, on Wednesday, July 23, 2014, at the Arizona State Prison Complex - Florence - Central Unit, in Florence, Arizona. Joseph has been granted a stay of execution by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Fifty-five-year-old Joseph is convicted of killing 55-year-old Eugene Dietz and his daughter 29-year-old Debra Dietz on August 7, 1989, in Tucson, Arizona. Joseph has spent the past 22 years on Arizona's death row.
Joseph was granted a stay of execution by a 2-1 decision of a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The court ruled that Joseph’s First Amendment right was being violated by the stay because of their refusal to release the origin information about the drugs that will be used to execute him and the names and qualifications of the individuals involved in the execution. This decision is currently being appealed by the state, who argues that there is no First Amendment right to this information.
Joseph alleges that he was raised in a dysfunctional family. His father was an alcoholic and they frequently moved due to military transfers. Joseph had a history of substance abuse, although he was not under any drug or alcohol influence at the time of his crime. Joseph was also known to be impulsive and quick to anger. Prior to his arrest for murder in Arizona, Joseph was arrested in Las Vegas, Nevada, and pled guilty to two counts of assault with a deadly weapon.
Joseph Wood and Debra Dietz began dating in 1984. The relationship was tumultuous, with increasing abusive and violent behavior from Wood. Debra's father Eugene disapproved of Wood as a boyfriend, and frequently refused to allow him to visit Debra while she was working at the family's body shop. Wood and Debra lived together in an apartment which Debra rented because Wood did not have a job.
On the July 4th weekend of 1989, after a fight, Debra attempted to permanently leave Wood. She moved out of the apartment and back in with her parents saying "I don't want any more of this." Following Debra's departure, Wood ransacked and vandalized the apartment, prompting Debra to obtain an order of protection on July 8, 1989. Wood repeatedly ignored this order and continued to try and contact Debra at various locations.
On Monday, August 7, 1989, Debra and her father drove to work together. Wood phoned the shop three times that morning: Debra hung up on him once and Eugene hung up on him twice. Around 8:50 am, Wood entered the shop where Debra, her father Eugene, and six other employees were working. Eugene was on the telephone. Wood waited until Eugene hung up the telephone before approaching him and drawing a revolver. Without saying a word, Wood shot Eugene once in the chest, killing him. Wood smiled. The entire exchange was witnessed by a police officer who noticed Wood acting suspicious when exiting his car. The officer immediately called for backup.
"What Love Really Means" from the album "When I'm With You” by JJ Heller
Filmed and edited by John Moessner in Nashville, TN.
(C) 2010 Stone Table Records.
July 18, 2014
IDPN 2014 Issue 29
China: Wu Ying, a former hairdresser who built her business from scratch and became one of the nation’s richest women, has had her death sentence commuted to life in prison. Thirty-three-year-old Wu was convicted of fraud in 2009.
Two brothers, Liu Han and Liu Wei have both been sentenced to death after they were convicted of organizing, leading, and participating in a mafia-style gang which resulted in a murder in May. Punishment for the other 34 defendants included three additional death sentences, five death sentences with a two year reprieve, four life sentences, and 22 varying prison terms. The Liu brothers plan to appeal their sentences. The organization all defendants were a part of is accused of illegally monopolizing local gaming business and seriously harming local economics and social order, in addition to tyrannizing local people.
Egypt: An Egyptian court has sentenced an unidentified 19-year-old male to death after he was convicted of sexually assaulting and murdering a young girl. The girl was kidnapped on her way to Quran classes, and taken to an abandoned house, where she was found days later, with wounds to her scalp and evidence of sexual assault.
India:Beginning August 16, 2014, all death sentence related appeals will be heard by a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court. Currently, appeals are only heard by a two-judge bench.
On Monday, July 14, 2014, the Supreme Court of India temporarily stayed the execution of Vinay Sharma and Akshay Kumar Singh, both of whom were convicted of raping and murdering a 23-year-old woman on a bus in New Delhi in 2012. Two other men who were charged and convicted of the same crime received stays earlier this year. All stays are temporary to allow them time to complete their appeals. A fifth person, a juvenile received a three year prison sentence, while a sixth person hanged himself in his prison cell.
Iraq: Human Rights Watch, a human rights group based in the New York City, New York, United States, alleges that Iraqi security forces and Shia militia members have executed at 255 prisoners in June of 2014. They also allege that at least eight of the 255 were boys under the age of 18, which is a violation of international law.
“Kids today! They have no [insert quality lacking here]! My parents would have never let me get away with that!” How many times have you uttered that sentence? Or one similar? Have you looked around at today’s youth and shaken your head at their actions? Do you read or see on the news the “shocking” antics of a young celebrity? Or the latest, barely-there outfit being worn? How did this happen?
Far too often, the answer is parents, or, more accurately, the lack of parenting. Parent is a title. A title implies responsibility. Deuteronomy 6:5-9 instructs parents on their responsibility.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:5-9, ESV)
Being a parent is a sacred duty entrusted by the Lord. Parents are not to be their child's best friends, but rather their instructors, their teachers in life.
July is Purposeful Parenting Month! Is being a purposeful parent part of the Lord's instructions given to parents? Yes! A purposeful parent is a parent that is actively engaged in their children's lives. A purposeful parent guides the actions and behaviors of their children towards pleasing the Lord, as instructed in Deuteronomy. Unfortunately, we live in a world where such actions and behavior are not the norm. Many parents believe that in order to be in their children's lives, they must become the child's best friend, never say "no!" to the child, and never correct their child. That is not the instruction of the Lord! Children need to be taught, and they need to be disciplined, lovingly and not out of anger. Contrary to what many children believe, the parents are in charge! God put them in charge!
When parents abandon the teachings of the Lord in favor of the views of the world...well...look around and see what has happened! Satan and his friends abound! We have television shows that glorify premarital sex. We have celebrities, to whom many children look up to admire, who are venerated for their sexual exploits, their partying lifestyles, and breaking the law.
”Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”(Titus 2:7-8, ESV).
Parents are also to teach by example. Children learn far more by observing actions than being lectured. No one, except parents, can be responsible for teaching children how they should act and behave. It is not the responsibility of the schools. It is not the responsibilities of day-cares. It is not the responsibility of the church. It is not the responsibility of the government. It is the responsibility of the parent to teach children the way of the Lord.
Of course, a parent cannot monitor their children all day, every day, especially as they grow. In school and elsewhere, they will hear words and see actions that are not of the Lord. As a parent, it is your responsibility to prepare your children for the world, to battle against the sins of the world. Parents are to build a strong foundation, to provide the child with the tools and knowledge needed to overcome worldly temptations. Parent cannot protect children forever. Eventually, the parent must step back and allow their child to use the tools and knowledge that they have provided. Even the strongest foundation can crack and crumble - and sadly, some will. Your responsibility as parent never ends. A purposeful parent continues to pray for their children, always.
Are you a purposeful parent? How can you become more engaged in your children’s lives?