February 14, 2016: Daily Bible Reading Commentary for Romans 15-16
Click here for the reading
Commentary: Romans is a book that builds upon itself, each topic building upon the previous topic: sin (ch 1-3), salvation (ch 4-5), sanctification (ch 6-8), God's sovereignty over all (ch 9-11), sacrifice, submission, and service (ch 12-15), and being sent (ch 16). These final chapters emphasize the importance of helping fellow believers grow in their faith. Paul’s quotes from the Old Testament show that salvation for the Gentiles was always a part of God’s plan.
Focus Verses: 15:23-29 Paul was committed to spreading God’s word to as far away as possible. Yet, Paul was always willing to wait on the Lord’s timing. Paul’s commitment to doing the Lord’s work showed in his daily life and in his writings. What is your commitment? Are you listening and receptive to the Lord’s plan?
Update: Thursday, February 11, 2016 10:30 am EST
The Supreme Court of the United States has rejected a request to stay the execution of Gustavo Julian Garcia. Gustavo was requesting that the court stay his execution while they reconsidered his case. The Supreme Court had previously rejected a request to review his case.
Update: Monday, February 8, 2016 11:26 am EST
Gustavo Julian Garcia is scheduled to be executed at 6 pm CST, on Tuesday, February 16, 2016, inside the Walls Unit of the Huntsville State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. Forty-three-year-old Gustavo is convicted of the murder of 43-year-old Craig Turski in Plano, Texas on December 9, 1990. Gustavo has spent the last 24 years on Texas’ death row.
On December 9, 1990, Gustavo Garcia and Christopher Vargas entered a warehouse in Plano, Texas. Garcia was armed with a sawed-off shotgun and had additional shells in his pockets. Garcia ordered the clerk, Craig Turski, to hand over the money from the cash register, while Vargas took beer and placed it into their waiting vehicle.
Garcia then shot Craig in the abdomen at close range. Craig fled from the storm. Garcia pursued him while reloading his shotgun. After reloading, Garcia shot Craig in the back of the head.
A female customer who had entered the store and promptly left when she saw Garcia forcing Craig to hand over the money, returned to the store with her husband. Upon finding the store deserted, they called the police. Craig was transported to a local hospital, where he eventually died from his gunshot wounds.
On January 5, 1991, Garcia and Vargas robbed another gas station. They took the clerk, Gregory Martin into the back room and shot him at point blank range with the same gun that was used to shoot Craig weeks earlier. Gregory died at the scene. Upon seeing Garcia and Vargas enter the store, Gregory told his girlfriend, whom he was talking to on the phone, that he though he was going to be robbed. She altered the police, who arrived quickly at the scene.
Update: February 8, 2016 11:24 pm EST
Travis Clinton Hittson is scheduled to be executed at 7 pm EST, on Wednesday, February 17, 2016, at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, Georgia. Forty-four-year-old Travis is convicted of the murder of 20-year-old Conway Uttereck on April 5, 1992, in Warner Robbins, Georgia. Travis has spent the last 23 years of his life on Georgia’s death row.
Travis was deprived of affection growing up and rarely received affirmation from others, leading to depression and the belief that no one could love him. Travis was enlisted in the US Navy. Many shipmates testified that he was good-natured, although dim-witted. He worked hard and was eager to please. He was also known to drink frequently and do stupid things when drunk. He did not have a prior criminal record.
Travis Hittson, Edward Vollmer and Conway Utterbeck were all stationed together aboard the USS Forrestal, an aircraft carrier based in Pensacola, Florida. All three men were members of the electrical division of the engineering department. Vollmer and Hittson were on the same work detail, while Utterbeck had a different assignment in the same area of the ship.
On Friday, April 3, 1992, Vollmer invited Hittson and Utterbeck to his parents house in Warner Robins, Georgia, for the weekend. The three men arrived at the house late Friday evening. They spent most of the day on Saturday hanging around the house. In the evening, Vollmer and Hittson began drinking. They eventually left the house, leaving Utterbeck alone.
Rosa Louise McCauley was born on February 4, 1913, in Tuskegee, Alabama. Her grandparents, both former slaves, took in Rosa and her mother after her mother divorced her father. From a young age, her grandparents instilled in her a belief of racial equality, however, Rosa grew up surrounded by racial discrimination. A standout moment in her childhood was her grandfather standing in front of the their home with a shotgun, while members of the Ku Klux Klan marched down the street.
Rosa was educated in a segregated one-room schoolhouse, to which she was forced to walk, while the white children were taken by buses to a newer school building. It was through buses that Rosa began to realize “there was a black world and a white world.” Rosa began attending a laboratory school set up by the Alabama State Teachers College for Negroes for secondary education, but never completed her studies. She left to care for her ailing grandparents and mother.
Rosa McCauley became the more well-known Rosa Parks in 1932, when she married Raymond Parks, a barber and a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Even within the NAACP, Rosa continued to face discriminate, not for the color of her skin, but for her sex. Rosa was the only women in the Montgomery chapter and the sectary for E.D. Nixon, who claimed “Women don’t need to nowhere but in the kitchen.” When Rosa questioned him about her position, he said, “I need a secretary and you are a good one.” Through her work with the NAACP, Rosa was exposed to, and researched for, the legal problems of black men and women, such as the Scottsboro Boys, the rape of Recy Taylor, and the murder of Emmett Till.
By December 1, 1955, Montgomery, Alabama had passed a city ordinance segregating bus passengers by race. Specific rows of seats were reserved for whites only, designated by a sign on the bus, which drivers could move or remove altogether. Over time, drivers adopted the practice of moving the sign if the whites only section filled up. Blacks were to move and give up their seats to the whites, even if it meant they had to stand.
On December 1, 1955, Rosa went to work, as usual. Her day was relatively normal, until her bus ride home. Rosa boarded the bus, paid her fare, and sat in the first row of the designated “colored” section of the bus. After several stops, the whites section had been filled, so the bus driver, James F. Blake, with whom Rosa had previously had a verbal altercation, moved the sign indicating where colored people could sit, back several rows. The moving of the sign meant that four black individuals, including Rosa, were now in the designated white section. The driver ordered them to move. Three of the passengers gave up their seats. Rosa moved too. Only she moved from her aisle to seat, to a window seat!
The murder of Emmett Till had a profound impact on Rosa and it was him that she thought of that day when she refused to move back into the newly designated “colored” section. The driver questioned Rosa as to why she did not move. Rosa responded “I don't think I should have to stand up.” When Blake threatened to call the police, Rosa stated, “You may do that.” Rosa said, many years later, that she had decided that, “I would have to know for once and for all what rights I had as a human being and citizen.” In her autobiography she also clarified what she felt that day. Many have assumed she was simply tired that day and did not want to stand. Rosa says, “I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day…No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”
Rosa was arrested and charged with violating segregation laws. She was bailed out by Edgar Nixon, president of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP and a white friend, Clifford Durr. Rosa’s arrested spurred the Women’s Political Council into action. Alabama State College professor Jo Ann Robinson stayed up all night to created 35,000 handbills announcing the bus boycott.
On December 5, 1955, the bus boycott began. It rained, but the black community persevered. A new organization, the Montgomery Improvement Association, led by Martin Luther King, Jr., at the time a relative unknown, was established to lead the boycott effort, which lasted for 381 days. During that time city buses stood idle and the city severely suffered financially from the boycott.
The NAACP decided that Rosa was the ideal plaintiff for a test case against the city and state segregation laws. Several women before Rosa had also refused to give up their seats on public buses, however Rosa was chosen because she was a responsible, mature women who maintained a good reputation. She was also securely married and employed, had political awareness, and carried herself in a quiet and dignified manner.
While Rosa’s lawsuit made it way through the state courts, another lawsuit Browder v. Gayle made its way through the federal courts to, eventually, the Supreme Court of the United States. In its decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the segregation of public buses was unconstitutional. Rosa did not participate in the Browder lawsuit, as there was fear that she was be accused of attempting to circumvent the Alabama state court system.
Although an icon for the Civil Rights movement, Rosa’s life was anything but peaceful. She was fired from her department store job, her husband quit his job after his boss prohibited him from mentioning his wife, and the couple constantly received death threats. In 1957, Rosa and her husband moved to Hampton, Virginia, before moving with her mother to Detroit, to be with her brother and sister-in-law. In Detroit, Rosa noted that housing, school, and service segregation continued to exist.
Rosa remained politically active, supporting the Selma-to-Montgomery Marches, various freedom organizations, desegregation at all levels, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. She also became the secretary for State Representative John Conyers, a position she remained in until she retired in 1988. Rosa also continued with her activism work, donating nearly all money she made from speaking and appearances.
In the decade of 1970, Rosa lost her husband, brother, and mother to various illnesses. It was a difficult time for her, although she continued to work on various projects and served on the Board of Advocates of Planned Parenthood. Rosa began to slow as she aged and limited her activities.
Rosa died of natural causes on October 24, 2005, in her Detroit apartment. She was 92 years of age. After her death, she was afforded the honor of lying in state at the Capitol rotunda. She was the first non-government official, the first women, and the second black individual. The then-current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke at Rosa’s memorial, noting that if it hadn’t been for Rosa’s stand - sit - she would likely have never been able to achieve the position she held. Rosa was buried along side husband and mother.
Every February, children throughout the United States are taught the story of Rosa Parks, the black women who refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama to a white person. Her refusal, her determination to make a stand - or in this case, take a seat - for equal rights led to a cascade of events. Rosa’s stand - seat - is inspirational, but did you know that she was not the first to refuse to give up her seat?
In fact, Rosa’s lawsuit was not even the one which eventually led to the desegregation of buses. It was the lawsuit of Browder v. Gayle, a federal lawsuit which led to the Alabama being ordered, first by a district court, then by the Supreme Court of the United States, to desegregate the bus system, as segregation violated the 14th Amendment right to protection for equal treatment.
Approximately two months after Rosa began her lawsuit against the state of Alabama, civil rights activists became concerned. Rosa’s lawsuit was likely to be stalled through appeals in state courts. While the bus boycott was going strong, activists knew that they would not be able to sustain the boycott for years, thus they sought a way to take a segregation case to the federal courts.
Fred Gray (a black, civil rights lawyer), E.D. Nixon (president of the NAACP in Montgomery), and Clifford Durr (a white lawyer and civil rights activists) began researching how to bring a case to federal courts. Five women were approached: Claudette Colvin, Aurelia Browder Coleman, Susie McDonald, Mary Louise Smith, and Jeanette Reese. All these women had been refused to give up their seats on a bus and faced discrimination. They agreed to be plaintiffs in a federal civil action lawsuit, allowing them to bypass the Alabama court system.
Browder v. Gayle was filed in US District Court on February 1, 1956. On June 13, 1956, the District Court ruled “the enforced segregation of black and white passengers on motor buses operating in the City of Montgomery violates the Constitution and laws of the United States.” On November 13, 1956, the District Court’s ruling was upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States. The Supreme Court also ordered the state of Alabama to desegregate their buses. On December 20, W.A. Gayle, mayor of Montgomery was handed an official notice by federal marshals to desegregate the buses.
The lawsuit was named for Aurelia Browder Coleman, who was 35 when she refused to give up her seat, seven months before Rosa. (Read more about Aurelia here) Claudette Colvin was another well-known participant in the lawsuit. She was just 15, compared to 42-year-old Rosa, when she refused to give up her seat. Claudette was ultimately thought to be too young to build a lawsuit around, and she was also considered a bit of a trouble maker; she was and unwed teenager who was pregnant. (Read more about Claudette here) Mary Louise Smith was 18 when she took her seat in protest. She was also though to be too young, and there were rumors that her father was an alcoholic. (Read more about Mary here) Susie McDonald and Jeanette Reese also participated in the lawsuit, although Jeanette quickly withdrew from the Browder v. Gayle due to pressure from the white community. (Sadly, there is little additional information available about Susie and Jeanette)
Without all these brave women - Rosa, Aurelia, Claudette, Mary, Susie, and Jeanette - who knows what history may look like today. During the month of February, Black History Month, it is important to look back at incidents such as these. As uncomfortable as remembering these events may be, they are party of our history as Americans. To move forward in the present, we must remember the past, but not dwell int it, and, if possible, right the wrongs that have been made.
February 12, 2016
IDPN 2016 Issue 07
Afghanistan: According to officials, the Taliban have murdered a women accused of adultery in a remote village controlled by the group. The women, Zahra, was executed on Friday, February 5, 2016, and was of unknown age. There are conflicting reports over Zahra’s death, with some indicating that her husband killed her.
Iran: On Thursday, February 4, 2016, two Baluchi prisoners, Khaled Kordi and Moselm Arabian, were executed by hanging in Yazd Central Prisone. Both were convicted on drug related charges and both were under the age of 18 at the time of their arrest. Allegedly, the executions were carried out without informing family members. The execution of minors violates the UN Convention of the Rights of a Child, of which Iran is a signatory.
Iraq: Abdulla Azzam Al-Qahtani, a Saudi national, has been executed by hanging at Al-Nazzeriya prison in southern Baghdad. Abdulla was arrest in 2009, on terrorism charges.
North Korea: General Ri Yong-gil, chief to the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army was allegedly executed earlier this year for corruption and pursuing personal gains. There has been no official announcement by the North Korean government regarding Yong-gil’s execution, however, he has not been seen since a meeting earlier this year in which he disagreed with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Pakistan: On Thursday, February 4, 2016, two prisoners, Bilal Ahmed, alias Abu Abdullah, and Muhammad Jora, alias Mittho, were executed by hanging in the nation. Bilal was executed at Kohat Central Jail for killing another man in his village. Muhammad was also convicted of killing a man, Nazir, in 1996.
On Tuesday, February 9, 2016, Haider Shehzad was executed by hanging at the New Central Jail Bahawalpur. He was executed for the murder of Muhammad Amin, after the two had a dispute.
On Wednesday, February 10, 2016, Altaf Ahmed was executed by hanging, after spending 21 years in prison. The execution was carried out at the Multan Central Jail. Altaf was executed for murdering his cousin and his cousin’s wife during a 1995 domestic spat.