The Bible passage for prayer, meditation, and reflection for the week of May 21-27, 2017, is Luke 6:27-31. This week’s passage gives instructions for how we are to live our lives everyday, yet Christians everywhere will agree, it is one of the most difficult passages in the Bible to follow.
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” (Luke 6:27-31, ESV)
In elementary school, they were called our playground rivals. In middle school and high school, the lines became more defined - they were not part of our group and we looked at and spoke of one another with contempt. In college they were easy to ignore, although a few harmless pranks played on them was always fun. But as adults, things changed. Those we disliked could no longer be ignored and we had to learn to work and tolerate them. As we grew from childhood into adulthood, we learned various ways of dealing with those we considered our enemies, our rivals, or simply those we disliked.
But those methods are the way of the world, not the way of Christ. In this week’s passage, Christ tells us His way. We are to show them love and kindness. We are to pray for blessings upon them. We are to smile when they insult us. We are to kill them with kindness - so to speak. But this passage does not mean that we are to allow ourselves to become complacent in abusive situations! We are to forgive, be kind, and not stoop to their actions, yet we are not required to stay and subject ourselves to harmful behavior!
As you prayer over, meditate on, and reflect upon this week’s passage, consider your actions. Do you show love to your enemies? Ask for the Lord to help you change your attitude and actions, then pay attention to the opportunities He provides! How are you responding?
May 24, 2017: Daily Bible Reading Commentary for Psalm 60-62
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Commentary: All three of today's psalms were written by David. Psalm 60 refers to David solidly defeating the Edomites, which never again rallied after their defeat. In this psalm we can also see how God will deliver His people. Psalm 61 is an earnest, heartfelt prayer of David. David's complete faith in God shines through in Psalm 62. This psalm is believed to have come from David after his son's rebellion. It describes David's test of faith (1-4), time of faith (5-8), and triumph of faith (9-12).
Focus Verses: 62:6-8 What motivation can these verses give? What do these verse mean to you?
Updated: Monday, May 22, 2017 10:48 am EDT
Juan Edward Castillo was scheduled to be executed at 6 pm CDT, on Wednesday, May 24, 2017, at the Walls Unit of the Huntsville State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. His execution has been rescheduled for Thursday, September 7, 2017. Thirty-six-year-old Juan is convicted of the murder of 19-year-old Tommy Garcia, Jr., on December 3, 2003, in San Antonio, Texas. Juan has spent the last 11 years of his life on Texas’ death row.
No reason has yet been given for the rescheduling of Juan's execution.
Juan had previously worked as a cook and a laborer. He was previously convicted of deadly conduct with a firearm. During the trial, witnesses also testified that Juan was a violent man, threatening and beating the mother of his child. Additionally, he had previously shot a man during a road rage incident, boasted about similar crimes, and bragged about committing home invasions and robberies.
In December 2003, Juan Castillo was dating Debra Espinosa. Late on December 2, and during the early morning hours of December 3, 2003, the couple was with Francisco Gonzales, a friend with Castillo, and Gonzales’ girlfriend Teresa Quintero. The four of them created a plan to rob Tommy Garcia, Jr., with who Espinosa had previously been intimate.
Espinosa was to take Tommy to secluded spot in a residential neighborhood in San Antonio, Texas. Castillo and Gonzales, in masks and armed with guns, would storm the car and rob Tommy. Espinosa would play along, as if she were a victim too. Quintero would serve as the get away driver from Castillo and Gonzales. During the ensuing robbery, Tommy was shot and killed by Castillo, according to the others.
Gonzales was arrested by the police as he fled from the scene, with Espinosa arrested a short time later. Both agreed to testify against Castillo in exchange for a reduced charge and a sentence of forty years in prison. Gonzales and Espinosa testified that Castillo took the lead in planning the robbery. They also testified that he was the person who shot and killed Tommy.
Updated: Wednesday, May 24, 2017 8:31 am EDT
The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals has overturned a ruling by a lower court in a case regarding who should determine the method of execution in the state. However, both the state and attorneys for Thomas Arthur agree that this ruling is not a stay of execution and that the execution can proceed as scheduled on Thursday evening. The lawsuit by Thomas argued that it should be up to the state legislature and not prison officials, should determine method of execution. The lower court ruled against Thomas, however the appeals court overturned that ruling. Thomas has received seven previous stays of executions and is trying to obtain his eighth.
Updated: Monday, May 22, 2017 10:54 am EDT
Thomas Douglas Arthur is scheduled to be executed at 6 pm CDT on Thursday, May 25, 2017, at the Holeman Correctional Facility in Attmore, Alabama. Seventy-five-year-old Thomas has been convicted of the murder 35-year-old Troy Wicker on February 1, 1982, in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Thomas has spent the last 33 years on Alabama’s death row.
In 1977, Thomas was convicted of murdering Eloise Bray West, the sister of his common-law wife, after she refused to reveal the location of his wife. Thomas received a life sentence for the this murder.
While serving time for the murder of Eloise West, Thomas Arthur joined a work release program. Arthur, while on work release, began an affair with Judy Wicker, wife of Troy Wicker. In 1982, Judy offered Arthur $10,000 to kill her husband, to which Arthur agreed. Arthur acquired the ammunition for the murder from an acquaintance, whom he told he was going to use the supplies to kill someone.
On February 1, 1982, Arthur entered the Wicker resident wearing an “afro” wig and in dark makeup to disguise himself as a black man. Troy was shot through the right eye at close range with a pistol, which killed him instantly.
Judy told police that after dropping the kids off at school and arriving back at the house, she discovered a black man in their home. According to Judy, the man raped her and knocked her unconscious before killing her husband.
The winter was cold, harsh, and bitter and led into a rainy, dreary, overcast, wet spring. It seemed as if the sun had not been seen since the fall, but finally, finally, the sun was starting to peak through the clouds. The days were getting warmer and drier. It was almost here. Summer! Days spent by the pool reading, frolicking on the beach, outside the house working on the lawn and garden. Regardless of what was being done outside, one thing was for certain, by the end of the summer, skin will have darkened into a delightful tan.
But Kyla was not rejoicing. In fact, she feared the summer. She had just became one of the 3.5 million individuals diagnosed with skin cancer each year, the most common form of cancer in the United States. When she received the news, she was in shock. She lived outside in the summer - the beach, pool parties, backyard BBQs, hiking, camping trips, and even just laying in the sun reading a book. What was she going to do???
As summer crept ever closer, Kyla knew that she needed to prepare herself. She did not want to cut herself off from her friends and summer activities, so she began reading information provided by her doctor. Kyla feared that she would not be able to go outside at all during the summer. She learned that she could, she should just avoid the sun - seek out shade when the sun was at its peak, typically between 10 am and 4 pm. She even had to be careful on cloudy days. The harmful rays of the sun are not stopped by clouds! She would also have to be aware of changes on her skin. Any new moles, or changes in existing moles, needed to be checked by a doctor immediately!
Kyla kept reading, then grabbed her keys and headed out to her car. She needed to go the store. Several bottles of sunscreen went into her cart. She planned to have a bottle in every bag she used, plus one in the car, and she wanted some extra in case those bottles ran out. It was important that she always apply sunscreen before going outside and reapply every two hours, more often if she was in the water or sweating. She wanted to always have sunscreen available. She also bought a wide brimmed straw hat to protect her face, ears, and neck, along with a few shirts and pants. Kyla knew that she would not always be able to wear long clothing, but she wanted to have lightweight clothing available for when she could.
Kyla had a blast over the summer! Her determination to keep herself safe earned a few weird looks and remarks, but her friends could have cared less what she was wearing…they were just glad she was with them! Kyla even had the opportunity to share her newfound knowledge with others and help them stay safe and protect themselves. And her friends may have occasionally joked about her new habits but it never stopped them from asking to borrow her sunscreen (or the spare hat in her car). Kyla was always more than happy to oblige, usually without a lecture on staying healthy.
May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month. With the days getting warmer and summer just around the corner, it is important that you and your family are prepared and know the early warning signs of skin cancer. Most skin cancers are treatable and curable if caught early enough. Take time this month to learn about how to prevent skin cancer. Share what you learn with friends and family! Please pray for healing for those who have been diagnosed with skin cancer.
May 19, 2017
IDPN 2017 Issue 20
Iran: On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, 36-year-old Koroush Langroudi was reportedly executed by hanging at Bandar Abbas Central Prison. He was convicted of murder. Also executed on May 9, at Tabriz Central Prison, was Davoud Fateminasb, who was convicted of murder.
Pakistan: On Wednesday, May 17, 2017, four terrorists were executed in a jail in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which has been severely hit by violence by Taliban terrorists. The names of those executed were not reported. They were convicted of participating in “heinous” terror-related activities and belonging to a banned terrorist organization.
Somalia: Reports indicate that approximately 12 individuals have been executed so far this year, after being convicted by military courts. This rise in executions has caused Amnesty International, other international human rights groups, and the European Union to ask that a moratorium be placed on the death penalty in the nation. They are especially critical of executions carried out by military courts, arguing that the trials are unfair, and that those convicted are often tortured into confessing.
Syria: The United States has accused the Syrian government of building a large crematorium, near Saydnaya Military Prison, and using the crematorium to hide mass executions and other atrocities. Additionally, the Syrian government is accused to carrying out executions in secret, failing to inform even the inmates who are being executed.