May 26, 2016: Daily Bible Reading Commentary for Proverbs 1
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Commentary: As learned earlier this week, Solomon was granted a request by the Lord and he asked for a discerning heart. Because such a choice was wise, Solomon was also given great wisdom. Solomon claims authorship of this book and its purpose in the first seven verses. He warns against being enticed by criminals, against those who do not follow and serve the Lord (8-19). Finally, He warns about rejecting wisdom (20-33).
Focus Verses: 1:20-33 How do you judge people? Their appearance? The car they drive? The house they live in or their neighborhood? How much money they make? How does God judge people? How can you change your way of thinking to align with the Lord?
This weekend is Memorial Day. Many are planning trips to see family and friends, celebrating the coming of summer, while remembering those who have sacrificed their lives for this nation. With all the excitement, it can be easy to over look another important day, National Missing Children’s Day. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed May 25 as National Missing Children’s Day, as a way to remind the public about missing children and to remind parents and guardians of the importance of having high quality photographs of children.
Etan Patz was just six years old when he disappeared from the SoHo district of New York City in 1979. Etan was walking to the school bus stop for the first time by himself. His mother, Julie Patz watched him walk to the corner of their street. From there, it was only 150 feet to the bus stop. Etan never made it. Somewhere in that 150 feet, he disappeared. The Etan Patz case was one of the first to garner nation-wide media attention. Etan Patz was the first child to appear on the side of a milk carton. For weeks, Etan Patz was all over the news. Posters of him were all over the city, yet, despite an exhaustive search by New York Police Department, the case ran cold. In 2001, the Patz family filed to have Etan formally declared dead.
The Etan Patz case, along with others during this time, brought to light a building problem in the United States; missing children and how to find them. Until this time, states worked independently with no coordination between federal, state, and local law enforcement. The media was often uninvolved in cases and it was near impossible to inform those in other cities and states about a missing child. Etan Patz was remarkable because of the national media attention it gained and the way that people all over the country were trying to help. Due to Etan Patz’s case and a case in Atlanta, Georgia, where 29 missing children were found murdered, the way that our country handled missing children cases was forever changed. President Reagan signed into law the Missing Children’s Assistance Act of 1984, which was the foundation for changes regarding missing children response procedures.
Over 35 years after Etan’s disappearance, police believe they finally caught Etan’s kidnapper and murderer, Pedro Hernandez. Hernandez worked at a small food store along the route Etan walked to the bus stop. Police allege, and Hernandez confessed, to luring Etan into the store where Etan was strangled before being placed in a plastic bag and dumped him out with the trash. Etan’s body has never been recovered. A recent trial ended in a hung jury with one juror refusing to vote guilty. A retrial for Hernandez is scheduled to begin in September of 2016.
Please pray for all the missing children. Pray for their safety and their recovery.
May 23, 2016
The Supreme Court of the United States has overturned the conviction and sentence of 48-year-old Georgia death row inmate Timothy Foster. By a vote of 7-1, the Supreme Court found that prosecutors on the case had unlawfully excluded black potential jurors on the basis of their race, which was ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court in 1986.
Timothy was convicted and sentenced to death in 1987, for the murder, robbery, and sexual assault of Queen White, a 79-year-old retired school teacher in Rome, Georgia. He was convicted and sentenced by an all-white jury. At the time, Timothy was an 18-year-old black man.
During the jury selection, four potential jury members were black. They were all removed from jury contention by the prosecution, allegedly for reasons unrelated to race. (A fifth black potential juror was also removed, for just cause, as one of her close friends was related to Timothy). However, in 2006, Timothy’s defense team obtained the prosecution’s notes from jury selection. These notes show that the prosecution was indeed concerned about the race of the jury members - making marks next to the names to indicated the black potential jurors, highlighting them, and circling the race on the juror questionnaires.
On Monday, May 23, 2016, the Supreme Court of the United States issued their ruling, overturning Timothy’s conviction and sentence. They ruled that the prosecutions reasoning for striking the black jury members was not also applied to white members of the jury, and that the reasons, upon investigation, did not hold up. Justice Clarence Thomas, the only black member of the Court, was the lone dissenter in the case.
According to the Supreme Court’s order, Timothy must be retried, or have the charges dismissed.
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 20, 2016
IDPN 2016 Issue 21
Iran: On Thursday, May 12, 2016, 35-year-old Behram Mohammadi was executed by hanging in Maragheh Prison. Behram spent five years in prison prior to his execution. He was convicted on drug-related offenses.
On Saturday, May 14, 2016, three prisoners, ages 22, 26, and 31, were executed by hanging in the Central Prison of Rasht, in northern Iran. The prisoners were not identified by name, nor were their crimes reported.
On Tuesday, May 17, 2016, at least 13 individuals were executed by hanging, including one man who was publicly executed. In the Central Prison of Urmia in northwest Iran, Naji Keywan, Nader Mohammadi, Ali Shamugardian, Aziz Nouri-Azar, Fereydoon Rashidi, and Heidar Amini, were all executed on drug related charges. An unnamed individual was publicly executed in Mashhad in northeast Iran. His crime was not reported. Six unnamed individuals were hanged in a central Iranian province. Their crimes were also not reported.
On Wednesday, May 18, 2016, five men were executed by hanging. In the Central Prison of Urmia (Orumieh), in north-west Iran Dariyoush Farajzadeh and Ghafour Qaaderzadeh were executed. Their crimes were not reported. In a prison in Yasuj, a 26-year-old man and 34-year-old man were executed. Their names and crimes were not reported. A 31-year-old man, identified by initials only was executed in a prison in Sari, in northern Iran.
Philippines: President-elect Rodrigo Duterte was known during his campaign for his tough on crime stance, with his history as the mayor of Davao to back-up his stance. Now, as president-elect, Duterte has vowed to reintroduce capital punishment in the nation, as well as give security officials permission to shoot to kill. If Duterte has his way, the Philippines will use hanging as its method of capital punishment. Opponents to the death penalty have said that Duterte is unable to reinstate the death penalty himself and must have the approval of the House, which would not be easy.
Saudi Arabia: On Tuesday, Mary 17, 2016, Mohammed Ishaq Thawab Gul, a Pakistani national, was executed, likely by beheading. Mohammed was convicted of trafficking heroin into the kingdom. He was the 93rd individual executed in the kingdom so far this year.
Singapore: Thirty-two-year-old Kho Jabing was executed by hanging on Friday, May 20, 2016, at Changi Prison Complex. Kho, a Malaysian native, worked in Singapore prior to being convicted of murdering a Chinese construction worker in 2010. Kho’s execution was protested by the European Union and Amnesty International. The day before his execution, Kho was granted a stay of execution, which was later lifted, allowing the execution to proceed on Friday, although later than intended. Singapore traditionally carries out executions at dawn.
What does receiving a personal letter mean to you? How does it make you feel? When we look at a return address and realize that the letter is from a friend, we feel loved. We cannot wait cherish every word in the message held inside! In today’s fast-paced world, letter writing is quickly becoming a thing of the past, yet for some, the men and women on death row, it is the only way they can communicate with the world. Since March 8, 2005, The Forgiveness Foundation Christian Ministries has strived to give the over 3,000 men and women on death row the same feeling that you have when you receive a letter; loved. Our letters carry more than just the love of every member of The Forgiveness Foundation Christian Ministries’ team, which include the individuals (like you!) who help finance the letter writing ministry. Our letters also, and more importantly, carry the love of Jesus Christ! In each letter, we share how much Jesus loves them. He has already paid the debt of their sin, the debt of the murders for which they are convicted. We share with them that Jesus has freely paid that price, and that they are forgiven! They must only accept Jesus Christ’s forgiveness, making Him Lord of their lives! The Forgiveness Foundation Christian Ministries works toward honoring the “Great Commission,” with our mail ministry to the men and women on death row. View our donations page to discover how you can help The Forgiveness Foundation Christian Ministries minister to the men and women on death row.