The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of February 19-25, 2017, is Psalm 22:27-31. This psalm is commonly referred to as the Psalm of the Cross. It is a Messianic Psalm, that is a psalm that refers to the life of Jesus Christ. This psalm refers to His suffering on the cross, however the final verses, the verses chosen for study this week, refers to Jesus’s work on the cross being completed.
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall bow down and worship before You, for the kingship and the kingdom are the Lord’s, and He is the ruler over the nations. All the mighty ones upon earth shall eat [in thanksgiving] and worship; all they that go down to the dust shall bow before Him, even he who cannot keep himself alive. Posterity shall serve Him; they shall tell of the Lord to the next generation. They shall come and shall declare His righteousness to a people yet to be born—that He has done it [that it is finished]! (Psalm 22:27-31, AMP)
Because Jesus was willing to suffer and die, because Jesus was willing to be cut off from His Father, because Jesus loved each and every one of us, we are all able to be saved from our sins. Jesus completed His task. He died and rose again! Just for you! Because of Jesus, we can rejoice! As you mediate on, pray over, and reflect upon this weeks passage, consider what Jesus has done for you.
February 20, 2017: Daily Bible Reading Commentary for Genesis 28-31
Click here for the reading
Commentary: When he was younger, Jacob looked out for himself, using any opportunity presented to his advantage. Now he has gone to another land to find a wife, where he encounters Laban, who, like Jacob, looks out for himself and takes advantage of any situation. But the results that Laban credits to Jacob should have been credited to the Lord. Compare and contrasts the stories of Jacob and Laban.
Focus Verses: 28:10-17 What a dream! How would you have reacted? Have you ever had God speak to you? How did He speak? If you have not, how does God speak to His followers today? How can you learn to hear God when He speaks? How can you learn to recognize Him?
In the United States of America, the month of February is Black History Month. It is a time to remember the achievements of men and women of color made throughout the history of this country. From a time of slavery to a time of freedom that did not really feel all that free, to a movement that would change the nation forever, men and women of color have played key roles in making a better quality of life for all mankind.
The Wright brothers took their first flight in 1903. Six short years later, in 1909, the United States military began using airplanes, with World War I was the first major conflict to significantly utilize aircraft. However, in the United States, the honor and privilege of flying a plane was reserved only for white males. It was not the only limitation placed on African-Americans in the military. Many top officials believed that African-Americans were too uneducated, untrainable, and unreliable for many positions within the military.
But African-Americans were not to be deterred. In 1917, several African-American males attempted to become aerial observers, however their request was rejected. For the next two decades, African-Americans advocated for the right to enlist and train as military aviators, with little success. In 1939, Congress finally passed a bill which designated funding for the training of African-American pilots, albeit in civilian flight schools. Per tradition, however, black men were trained separately from their white counterparts. One of these schools was at the Tuskegee University, a private, black university started by Booker T. Washington in the late 1800s, and located in Tuskegee, Alabama.
When the United States entered World War II, they were in need of pilots, and the first all-black flying unit was created - the 99th Pursuit Squadron, with 47 officers and 429 enlisted personnel. The military continued to insist upon strict selective policies to ensure that only the best and brightest of African-Americans were permitted to fly. Even with these restrictions, the Army Air Corps (later the United States Air Force) received and abundance of qualified applicants, including many who had participated in the Civilian Pilot Training Program at Tuskegee.
Over the next several years, the Tuskegee Army Air Field would continue to grow and expand, eventually becoming the only location to perform all three phases of pilot training. Unfortunately, despite the success of the program, those who completed the training were often not assigned potions, as some officers felt that it was inappropriate to have African-American officers serving over white enlisted men.
The 99th was considered combat ready in April of 1943, and was sent to North Africa to join the 33rd Fighter Group. The first combat mission for the 99th occurred on June 2, 1943. They were to join an attack on a strategic island in the Mediterranean Sea. The mission was a rousing success, taking the island!
By the end of February 1944, more graduates from Tuskegee were ready for combat missions and the all-black 332nd Fighter Group was sent overseas with three fighter squadrons: the 100th, 301st, and 302nd. All members of the group, from the pilots to the mechanics, to the administrative clerks, to the control tower operators, were African-American personnel. The 332nd would be joined by the 99th at Ramitelli Airfield in Italy, giving it four fighter squadrons. The 332nd was to provide flying escort for heavy bombers. The unit’s aircraft were identified by a crimson marking to the tail of the aircraft, earning the airmen the nicknames of “Red Tails” or “Red-Tail Angels.”
Throughout the war, the Tuskegee Airmen earned three Distinguished Unit Citations. One of these Citations was earned for the longest bomber escort mission. The group escorted bombers over 1,600 miles into Germany and back, to destroy a massive enemy tank factory, which was heavily defended by the German air force. Individually, pilots in the 332nd accumulated a total of 96 Distinguished Flying Crosses for missions all over Italy and occupied parts of central and southern Europe. Pilots in the 99th also set a record from destroying five enemy aircraft within four minutes.
There were a total of 992 pilots trained at Tuskegee between 1941 and 1946. Of the 992 graduates, more than 350 were sent overseas, where 84 lost their lives, including 32 who were captured as prisoners of war. The Tuskegee Airmen were credited with flying 1,578 combat missions and 179 bomber escort missions. They only lost a total of 27 bombers that they were escorting, on seven different missions. Other (white) bomber escort groups lost an average of 46 bombers during the same period. The Tuskegee Airman destroyed 112 enemy aircraft in the air and another 150 on the ground. Additionally, they put a destroyer class ship out of action and destroyed a total of 40 other boats and barges. Pilots in the 332nd also earned various other accommodations, including at least one Silver Star, 14 Bronze Stars, 744 Air Medals, and 8 Purple Hearts.
There was no doubt that the Tuskegee Airmen were some of the best pilots during the war, with bombers often requesting the 332nd as their escort, however these brave men continued to face racism at home and from other units, both during and after the war. But they continued to demonstrate their enviable skills as pilots. In 1949, four of the pilots from the 332nd Fighter Wing participated in the annual US Continental Gunnery Meet in Las Vegas, Nevada, which required shooting aerial targets, ground targets and dropping bombs on ground targets. The group took first place with a perfect score; they did not miss a single target!
When military segregation was ended in 1948, by President Harry Truman, the veteran Tuskegee Airmen found themselves in high demand, both in the military and civilian world. Additionally, the Air Force required that those still serving be reassigned to formerly all-white units, based on their qualifications.
The Tuskegee Airmen set out to prove that they could fly just as well as their white counterparts - the Tuskegee Airmen ended up proving they could fly better! After the war, some Tuskegee Airmen continued to work in aviation and the military.
Click here to read some of the notable achievements by the Tuskegee Airmen.
Notable Achievements by Tuskegee Airmen
Daniel “Chappie” James Jr., who was a lieutenant when he flew as a member of the 99th during the war, became the first African-American to become a four-star general.
Marion Rodgers, also a member of the 99th during the war, went on to work for NORAD and was a program developer for the Apollo 13 project.
Lucius Theus, an aviator, stayed in the military, rising to the rank of major general. During his time, he worked to implement a direct deposit system for service members.
C. Alfred “Chief” Anderson was the first African-American to receive a commercial pilots certificate in 1932, and the first to make a transcontinental flight. He also flew Eleanor Roosevelt (wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt) when she visited the Tuskegee air base.
Captain William A. Campbell was the only Tuskegee Airman to earn two Distinguished Flying Crosses. He became the Group Commander of the 322nd after the war and remained in the military throughout the Vietnam War and Korean Conflict. He retired as a full Colonel.
Joseph D. Elsberry shot down three enemy aircraft during one escort mission, earning a Distinguished Flying Cross. He was the first Tuskegee Airman to shoot down three enemy aircraft in one day.
Captain Alva Temple, Lieutenant Harry Stewart, Lieutenant James Harvey III, and Lieutenant Herbert Alexander where the four pilots who participated in the US Continental Gunner Meet in Las Vegas, Nevada. They missed none of their targets and took first place in the conventional fighter class.
Charles E. McGee remained in the military throughout Korea and Vietnam, flying a total of 408 fighter combat missions, the most of any Tuskegee Airman. He would retired from the Air Force as a Colonel, having received numerous medals for his service.
Percy Sutton left the military after World War II, and went on to graduated from law school. He became a nationally recognized civil rights attorney and represented Malcolm X. He later co-founded Inner City Broadcasting Corporation, which grew to include 19 stations.
Second Lieutenant Wendell Oliver Pruitt is credited with disabling a German destroyer and shooting down three names planes. He was a formidable fighter pilot, especially when paired with Lieutenant Colonel Lee A. Archer, Jr. Together, the two were nicknamed the “Gruesome Twosome.”
February 17, 2017
IDPN 2017 Issue 07
Iran: On Sunday, February 12, 2017, two prisoners were executed by hanging at Mashhad’s Vakilabad Prison. The two prisoners, who were not named, were both convicted of separate murders in 2007.
On Monday, February 13, 2107, seven unnamed prisoners were executed by hanging at Qom’s Langround Prison. All were executed on drug related charges. A human rights agency has identified one of the executed individuals as Saeed Shokri, who was allegedly denied a retrial and proper appeals.
Also on February 13, three prisoner were executed by hanging at Zabol. Their names and crimes were not reported.
Singapore: In July of 2013, Iskander Rahmat broke into the home of 67-year-old Tan Boon Sin with the intention of stabbing Tan to death and robbing him. During the course of the murder, Tan’s 42-year-old son Chee Heong arrived at the house. Iskander also killed him. Iskander was a police officer at the time, although was facing bankruptcy and dismissal from the police force. Tan and Chee both died from their stab wounds, although Chee managed to escape the house before collapsing in front of Iskander’s escape vehicle. Iskander ran Chee over and dragged his body nearly half a mile before it was dislodged. Iskander has been sentenced to death.
United States of America: Raymond Tibbetts was scheduled to be executed on Wednesday, February 15, 2017, in Ohio. His execution has been rescheduled to July 26, 2017. Raymond is convicted of his wife, Judith Sue Crawford, and 67-year-old Fred Hicks on November 6, 1997, inside of Fred’s Cincinnati home, where they all lived. Read more about Raymond, and the ongoing legal problems in Ohio, here.
Ronald Phillips was scheduled to be executed on Wednesday, February 15, 2017, in Ohio. His execution has been rescheduled for May 10, 2017. It is the latest execution date for Ronald, who has had numerous execution dates rescheduled due to ongoing legal challenges to Ohio’s execution protocol. Ronald is convicted of the murdering 3-year-old Sheila Marie Evans on January 18, 1993. Read more about Ronald, and the ongoing legal problems in Ohio, here.
In an attempt to comply with the ruling by Magistrate Judge Michael Merz, Ohio has attempted to obtain pentobarbital, which Judge Merz said should be used for lethal injections, instead of the three-drug process proposed by Ohio. Ohio requested pentobarbital from seven states, but none were able to provide the state with drug. Only three of the seven states - Georgia, Missouri, and Texas - currently have supplies of pentobarbital and they will not reveal where they obtained the drug. Judge Merz is opposed to the three-drug process proposed by Ohio because he claims that the first drug, midazolam, has not been proven an effective sedative, however, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled last year that midazolam can be used in executions. Ohio currently has a supply of midazolam and the other two necessary drugs to carry out lethal injections, but cannot, due to Judge Merz’s order. Ohio has appealed to the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals. Due to Judge Merz’s ruling and the ongoing lawsuit, Ohio has rescheduled many of their executions.
Updated: February 10, 2017
Please pray for these men and women. Pray for salvation if unsaved, peace if saved, and that the innocent shall be revealed before they are executed. "The Lord is slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." (2 Peter 3:9 ESV).