The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of July 26-August 1, 2015, is Leviticus 24:10-16. It is the story of an event that occurred several years after the Israelites had left Egypt, but not too long, as there were still Egyptians living among the Israelites. This story is inserted amongst many of the Laws given to Moses by the Lord, which can make it seem out of place. However, this story highlights shows how the Laws were to be obeyed.
Now the son of an Israelite woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the Israelites, and he and a man of Israel quarreled and strove together in the camp. The Israelite woman’s son blasphemed the Name [of the Lord] and cursed. They brought him to Moses—his mother was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan. And they put him in custody until the will of the Lord might be declared to them. And the Lord said to Moses, bring him who has cursed out of the camp, and let all who heard him lay their hands upon his head; then let all the congregation stone him. And you shall say to the Israelites, Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. And he who blasphemes the Name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him; the stranger as well as he who was born in the land shall be put to death when he blasphemes the Name [of the Lord]. (Leviticus 24:10-16, AMP)
The first lesson is this story is obvious: blaspheming the Name of the Lord was, and still is, wrong! The second lessons requires a deeper study. During their time in Egypt, many Israelites married Egyptians. When the Israelites were freed, some Egyptian spouses chose to go with Israel, instead of remaining in Egypt. By remaining and joining the Israelites, these individuals were also accountable to the Law, as were any children. This mixed-faith relationship shows the damage such parenting can have on a child. No doubt the child, while growing up, had heard his father curse the gods for ill fortune, a common practice in Egypt. When the grown son entered into an argument with an Israelite, he followed his father’s example: the son cursed the God of Israel, as an insult to the other individual. For such a crime, he paid with his life.
Paul also addresses this issue in 2 Corinthians 6:14, calling believers to “not be unequally yoked with unbelievers” (ESV). We are to be careful, not only who we marry, but also who we surround ourselves with and whose opinions we seek out. As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this week’s verse, consider those in your life. Who do you interact with everyday? Whose opinion do you value? Do these people hold you to God’s standard?
July 29, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for Psalm 90-92
Click here for the Daily Reading
Context: Psalm 90 is the only psalm written by Moses that we have recorded in this book. You would think that this psalm would come first, but the psalms are not arranged chronologically. Psalm 90 is a prayer of Moses. While out in the desert wandering, Moses saw many people die. The number is staggering. This psalm is a prayer for the Lord’s anger against the Israelites to end. The author of psalm 91 is unknown. Psalm 91 is Messianic psalm. It was also (mis)quoted by Satan - verses 11-12 - in a failed attempt to entrap Jesus (see Luke 4). Psalm 92 also lacks a credited author. It is a psalm of praise and of worship! How glorious it is to be able to worship the Lord at any time on any day!
World History: Some scholars have attributed the division of Psalms to the first five books of the Bible. Psalms 1-41 deal with themes of creation: the Genesis section. Psalms 42-72 deal with themes of crying out for the Lord: the Exodus section. Psalms 73-89 deal prominently with the Tabernacle: the Leviticus section. Psalms 90-106 reminds us of those who died in desert, never reaching the Promised Land: the Numbers section.
July 24, 2015
IDPN 2015 Issue 30
Belize: It has been 30 years since Belize last carried out an execution and, for the first time in 15 years, the nation’s death row is empty. The last inmate on death row, 44-year-old Glenford Baptist, has had his sentence overturned by the nation’s Supreme Court. His new sentence has not yet been determined, but it will either be life in prison or a definitive prison sentence. The nation currently has 36 individuals serving life sentences.
Gambia: President Yahya Jammeh has announced that he plans to resume executions in the nation by using firing squads. The last execution in the nation occurred three years ago, in August of 2012. Nine men were executed, prompting international outrage. No executions have been carried out since then.
Iran: In the first half of 2015, nearly 700 individuals have been executed in the nation, according to Amnesty International, although the Iranian government has only official reported 246 deaths. It is believed that approximately 753 individuals were executed in 2014, a 12-year high.
On Wednesday, July 22, 2015, 10 unnamed prisoners were executed by hanging at Gohardasht Prison in Karaj, which is west of Tehran, the capital of Iran. The names and crimes of the executed inmates have not been released. These inmates were the first to be executed in the nation following Ramadan. Traditionally, during the month of Ramadan, executions are postponed, however, this year, at least four individuals were executed during that time.
Malawi: Abraham Galeta has spent the last 19 years on death row in a Malawi prison. Abraham was convicted of killing his stepfather in 1996. When Abraham killed his stepfather, he had been viciously beating Abraham’s mother to the point that she called our for help in fear of her life. Law students in the International Human Rights Clinic at Cornell Law School have worked with Abraham to help secure his release. In addition to the legal work, the students traveled to Abraham’s village to gather information about him and the assurance of the village elders that Abraham would be welcomed back. With their help, Abraham has been released.
Update: Monday, July 27, 2015 10:59 pm EDT
Daniel Lee Lopez's execution is scheduled to occur at 6 pm CDT, on Wednesday, August 12, 2015, at the Walls Unit of the Huntsville State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. Twenty-seven-year-old Daniel is convicted of the murder of 20-year veteran of the Corpus Christi Police Department Lt. Stuart Alexander, on March 11, 2009. Daniel has spent the last 5 years of his life on Texas’ death row.
Daniel dropped out of school after the 10th grade. Throughout his childhood, Daniel was diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, a learning disability, and poor impulse control. At the age of 12, Daniel assaulted his mother. By the age of 17, Daniel had numerous encounters with law enforcement. Before his arrest, Daniel attempted to commit suicide twice.
Shortly after midnight on March 11, 2009, Daniel Lopez was observed running a stop sign by a police officer. The police officer pulled Lopez over, where a confrontation ensued. Allegedly, the officer attempted to use pepper spray to subdue Lopez. Lopez was able to escape when taser and radio wires became wrapped around his legs.
Lopez claims that he fled because he thought there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest and because he had drugs in the car. Lopez led police on a car chase. Police eventually laid down spike strips to flatten Lopez’s tires. Lopez saw the strips and swerved, hitting Lt. Stuart Alexander with his car, killing the officer.
Police were eventually able to surround Lopez’s vehicle, at which point Lopez attempted to run over another officer to escape. Lopez was finally subdued when he injured by a police officer shooting him.
Lopez has asked that his execution be expedited, waiving his rights to the normal appeals process.
Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Stuart Alexander. Please pray for strength for the family of Daniel Lopez. Please pray that if Daniel is innocent or lacks the competency to be executed, evidence will be revealed prior to his execution. Please pray that Daniel may come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already found one.
Update: Monday, July 27, 2015 10:58 am EDT
Tracy Lane Beatty's execution is scheduled to occur at 6 pm CDT, on Thursday, August 13, 2015, at the Walls Unit of the Huntsville State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. Fifty-four-year-old Tracy is convicted of the murder of his mother, 62-year-old Carolyn “Callie” Click, which occurred on November 25, 2003, in Tyler, Texas. Tracy has spent the last 11 years on Texas’ death row.
Tracy did not have an easy childhood, leading to a strained relationship with his mother. Tracy dropped out of school after the 10th grade. Tracy had an extensive criminal history included drug possession, theft, weapons possession, assault agains a child, assault against his mother, and assault against a correctional officer, among others. Tracy was also allegedly a member of a prison gang. At the time of his arrest, Tracy was unemployed, working odd jobs for Callie’s neighbor.
Although Tracy Beatty and Callie Click were family, they had a volatile and combative relationship. However, in October of 2003, Callie had allowed Beatty to move in with her, despite telling her neighbor that Beatty had assaulted her several times in the past. Callie was excited for Beatty’s arrival, hoping that the two could repair their relationship. The excitement that Callie felt at Beatty’s arrival was short lived. Before the month was over, Callie had asked Beatty to leave. She asked him to leave again on November 25, 2003.
That evening, between 5:00 and 5:30 pm, Beatty arrived at the home of his cousin, Stacey Killough, driving Callie’s vehicle. According to Stacey, that was unusual because Callie was “very protective” of her vehicle, never letting anyone else drive it. Beatty also smelled strongly of alcohol. When Stacey inquired as to the whereabouts of Callie, Beatty claimed that she was out of town with friends for a few weeks.
Beatty left Stacey’s home after a few minutes, going to Callie’s neighbor’s home for dinner and remaining there until late that evening. The following day, Beatty informed the neighbor that Callie was out of town with a male friend for several days.
Beatty created several stories regarding his mother’s death. First he told police that Callie’s boyfriend killed her and that he killed the boyfriend, dumping his body in a lake and burying his mother in the backyard. He later told the police that he had come home drunk and choked her when she started complaining. Beatty claimed he did not realize she was dead until the following day. Beatty told several different stories to friends and family members.
This is not Tracy Beatty’s first scheduled execution. He was previously scheduled to be executed in 2009. That execution was stayed.
Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Callie Click. Please pray for strength for the family of Tracy. Please pray that if Tracy is innocent or he lacks the competence to be executed, evidence will be presented prior to his execution. Please pray that Tracy may come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already found one.
From the day we are born, we build relationships with those around us. The first relationship a child builds is with their mother and father. As an infant, they care for you completely - they feed you, clothe you, bathe you, burp you, and answer your every cry, even if they don’t know why you are crying! A relationship of trust and love is built. As you grow, you begin to develop other relationships, while continuing to build and expand upon those already developed relationships, first with siblings, then other family members, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins, then, finally, with family friends and neighbors. As you continue to grow, your relationships continue to grow and expand - you now have school mates with whom you become friends, and school mates with whom you don't get along. You become involved in sports and other extracurricular activities, ever expanding those with whom you build relationships. You go off to college, move away from home to start a new job, and again expand your circle of relationships. Until the day you die, you will continue to build relationships, for better or worse, never knowing the relationships that will last a lifetime. And, hopefully, sometime during your life, you will begin the greatest, the most important relationship of your life - a relationship with your Lord and Savior.
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” … So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man [Adam], and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. (Genesis 2:18, 21-22, ESV)
God created us to be social and interact with others around us. After creating Adam, He realized that none of the animals were suitable companions, so He created Eve. We were not meant to be alone, but to develop relationships! Studies have shown that those with strong social relationships are better at dealing with stress, healthier, and more likely to live longer. July is Social Wellness Month! It is a time to examine the relationships in our lives and focus on nurturing and growing them.
The most important relationship one can develop is with their Lord and Savior. In Deuteronomy 6:5, we are instructed to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (ESV) This instruction is repeated numerous times in the Old Testament, as well as by Jesus in the Gospels. Through a relationship with Him, we are never alone. We always have someone to whom we can talk and turn to in difficult times. Jesus demonstrated this numerous times. He would often step away from the crowds, and even His disciples, to spend time with His Father. The time spent with His Father gave Him strength and peace. Jesus didn’t need scientific studies to prove to Him the benefits of a relationship with the Lord! Do you follow His example?
Jesus states that loving the Lord is the most important commandment, followed by loving our neighbors. When questioned by those crowded around Him as to whom constitutes a neighbor, Jesus told them the parable of the Good Samaritan. Everyone is our neighbor! We are not to restrict with whom we build relationships! Sometimes the relationships we build may be short lasting, however, God can use even the briefest of interactions for His glory. Studies have shown that helping others has a positive affect on the lives of the both the giver and receiver! This Social Wellness Month, make it a goal to help others more and see how such actions affect your life and attitude!
As you contemplate the relationships in your lives this Social Wellness Month, also take time to pray for those who are not free to explore social relationships. Can you imagine spending 23 hours a day, locked in a small room all by yourself, year in and year out? Can you imagine never hugging someone, or giving a simple handshake? Can you imagine the only touch you receive, being one to restrain you? Can you imagine having no one to talk to for those 23 hours? And spending that other, single hour of the day, with limited contact, perhaps through a fence? This is the life of death row inmates. Often attorneys for death row inmates will argue that their time on death row, in isolation has driven them insane. Could it have? Pray for these men and women. Pray for their relationship, and yours, with Christ and with others.