Egyptian court sentences Christian to 6 years “for contempt of religion”

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Egyptian Christians

Image via democracyandsociety.com.

The Associated Press reports that an Egyptian Christian has been sentenced to six years prison time by an Egyptian court because he “insulted Islam” on Facebook:

A court convicted an Egyptian Christian to six years imprisonment for blasphemy and contempt of religion on Tuesday.

The Luxor court issued its verdict against Kerolos Ghattas, 30, after his arrest earlier this month for posting pictures deemed insulting to Islam on his Facebook page.

Ghattas’ arrest sparked fears of sectarian conflict in his village, where unidentified assailants have hurled molotov cocktails at shops owned by Christians. Local authorities beefed up security in the village on Tuesday.

The verdict can be appealed. Egypt has witnessed a rise in the number of cases of Coptic Christians — estimated as 10 percent of the population — over the past three years.

On Monday, another Christian journalist — a convert — was sentenced to six years in prison over his coverage of recent sectarian strife.

I’m curious to see what the various “COEXIST” factions think about these two disturbing cases. Well, not really …

Report: Meriam Ibrahim freed from Sudanese prison

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Meriam Ibrahim

Meriam Ibrahim, pictured here in a Sudanese prison.

Wonderful news:

Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman who gave birth in a Khartoum prison after being sentenced to death in May for allegedly converting from Islam to Christianity, has been freed, FoxNews.com has confirmed.

Ibrahim, 27, refused to renounce her Christian faith in court in May, prompting a judge to sentence her to hang for apostasy. The case became an international cause, with several U.S. lawmakers and the State Department blasting the decision as barbaric. Sudan’s national news service SUNA said the Court of Cassation in Khartoum on Monday canceled the death sentence after defense lawyers presented their case, and that the court ordered her release.

“We have confirmed through her attorney that she has been released from prison today,” Tina Ramirez, executive director for the Christian advocacy group Hardwired, told FoxNews.com. Hardwired has worked closely with Ibrahim’s family and lawyer.

Ibrahim’s husband, Daniel Wani, holds dual U.S.-Sudanese citizenship, and Ibrahim’s supporters argued that their children, including a daughter named Maya born in prison in May and a 20-month-old boy named Martin who was imprisoned with her, are U.S. citizens.

Sources close to the situation tell FoxNews.com that Ibrahim was whisked away to a confidential location and that her lawyers will be meeting with representatives from the U.S. Embassy on Tuesday.

[…]

The American Center for Law and Justice, which gathered some 320,000 signatures in an online petition for Ibrahim, praised the decision but called for the U.S. to help her.

“Her release from a Sudanese prison is a critical step toward securing her freedom and safety,” said ACLJ Executive Director Jordan Sekulow. “We now call on the Obama Administration to examine all possibilities to ensure that Meriam and her two American children are granted safe passage and immediate legal status in the United States.”

Indeed.

Read more on the plight of Meriam Ibrahim here, and please pray for the safe arrival of both her and her family to the US. 

Thankful for many blessings on this #FathersDay

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In a couple of hours the family will be getting together for lunch to celebrate Father’s Day. Considering all of the health issues my dad has been going through, we are so blessed that God has allowed him to be with us for another year and that he is still in relatively good spirits, and still enjoys puttering around the yard, in his small garden, and with his truck. This in spite of the fact that he now has trouble seeing, and gets around a lot slower than he used to. We are thankful that he has not given up on life, because we will not give up on him.

The family today will pray for another year of blessings and little miracles, both for him and Mama T, who has been our rock through the good times and the rough times. I pray for all families getting ready to honor your respective fathers on this very special day that you, too, continue to be blessed. And if your father has passed on, may your memories provide you with strength, comfort, and peace as you look back fondly.

Dads matter, and I truly treasure, love, and adore mine. Happy Father’s Day, daddy.

Papa T and ST

Papa T and me – circa mid 1970s.
I was probably yawning, or laughing – or yelling! : )
Happy Father’s Day, dad-o.

(Re-posted from last year)

Happy Easter: The story of Jeremy’s Egg (reposting)

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He Is Risen

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. – Matthew 28:6 KJV

Love this Easter story, and post it every Easter. Hope you enjoy it, too.

What Was In Jeremy’s Egg?
by Ida Mae Kempel

Jeremy was born with a twisted body, a slow mind and a chronic, terminal illness that had been slowly killing him all his young life. Still, his parents had tried to give him as normal a life as possible and had sent him to St. Theresa’s Elementary School.

At the age of 12, Jeremy was only in second grade, seemingly unable to learn. His teacher, Doris Miller, often became exasperated with him. He would squirm in his seat, drool and make grunting noises. At other times, he spoke clearly and distinctly, as if a spot of light had penetrated the darkness of his brain. Most of the time, however, Jeremy irritated his teacher.

One day, she called his parents and asked them to come to St. Teresa’s for a consultation. As the Forresters sat quietly in the empty classroom, Doris said to them, “Jeremy really belongs in a special school. It isn’t fair to him to be with younger children who don’t have learning problems. Why, there is a five-year gap between his age and that of the other students!”

Mrs. Forrester cried softly into a tissue while her husband spoke. “Miss Miller,” he said, “there is no school of that kind nearby. It would be a terrible shock for Jeremy if we had to take him out of this school. We know he really likes it here.”

Doris sat for a long time after they left, staring at the snow outside the window. Its coldness seemed to seep into her soul. She wanted to sympathize with the Forresters. After all, their only child had a terminal illness. But it wasn’t fair to keep him in her class. She had 18 other youngsters to teach and Jeremy was a distraction. Furthermore, he would never learn to read or write. Why waste any more time trying?

As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her. “Oh God,” she said aloud, “here I am complaining when my problems are nothing compared with that poor family! Please help me to be more patient with Jeremy.”

From that day on, she tried hard to ignore Jeremy’s noises and his blank stares. Then one day he limped to her desk, dragging his bad leg behind him. “I love you, Miss Miller,” he exclaimed, loudly enough for the whole class to hear. The other children snickered, and Doris’ face turned red. She stammered, “Wh-Why, that’s very nice, Jeremy. Now please take your seat.”

Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter. Doris told them the story of Jesus, and then to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic egg. “Now,” she said to them “I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life. Do you understand?” “Yes, Miss Miller!” the children responded enthusiastically – all except for Jeremy. He just listened intently, his eyes never left her face. He did not even make his usual noises. Had he understood what she had said about Jesus’ death and resurrection? Did he understand the assignment? Perhaps she should call his parents and explain the project to them.

That evening, Doris’ kitchen sink stopped up. She called the landlord and waited an hour for him to come by and unclog it. After that, she still had to shop for groceries, iron a blouse and prepare a vocabulary test for the next day. She completely forgot about phoning Jeremy’s parents.

The next morning, 19 children came to school, laughing and talking as they placed their eggs in the large wicker basket on Miss Miller’s desk. After they completed their Math lesson, it was time to open the eggs.

In the first egg, Doris found a flower. “Oh yes, a flower is certainly a sign of new life,” she said. “When plants peek through the ground we know that spring is here.” A small girl in the first row waved her arms. “That’s my egg, Miss Miller,” she called out.

The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real. Doris held it up. “We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly. Yes that is new life, too” Little Judy smiled proudly and said, “Miss Miller, that one is mine.”

Next Doris found a rock with moss on it. She explained that the moss, too, showed life. Billy spoke up from the back of the classroom. “My Daddy helped me!” he beamed.

Then Doris opened the fourth egg. She gasped. The egg was empty! Surely it must be Jeremy’s, she thought, and, of course, he did not understand her instructions. If only she had not forgotten to phone his parents. Because she did not want to embarrass him, she quietly set the egg aside and reached for another. Suddenly Jeremy spoke up. “Miss Miller, aren’t you going to talk about my egg?” Flustered, Doris replied, “but Jeremy – your egg is empty!” He looked into her eyes and said softly, “Yes, but Jesus’ tomb was empty too!”

Time stopped. When she could speak again. Doris asked him, ” Do you know why the tomb was empty?” “Oh yes!” Jeremy exclaimed. “Jesus was killed and put in there. Then his Father raised him up!”

The recess bell rang. While the children excitedly ran out to the school yard, Doris cried. The cold inside her melted completely away.

Three months later Jeremy died. Those who paid their respects at the mortuary were surprised to see 19 eggs on top of his casket, all of them empty.

Have a blessed Easter, y’all.

On Gov. Jan Brewer’s veto of #SB1062 – the religious rights bill

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Gov. Jan Brewer

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock the last week or so you’ve heard about Arizona’s SB 1062 bill – dubbed by the mainstream media and those who oppose it as the “anti-gay” bill when the more correct term for it is that it actually was a religious rights/freedoms bill, a point even some national MSM outlets finally recognized … but only once it was vetoed last night by Governor Jan Brewer.

I didn’t devote much space here at the blog on this issue but perhaps I should have, not that it would have made any difference in retrospect. The bill was sparked in response to some cases that have sprouted up in the US involving bakers, photographers, florists and caterers who have been asked to bake a gay marriage wedding cake or provide some other service related to it – and who told their customers in response that they could not provide one on religious grounds. In a couple of instances, the bakers told the couples they’d make them any other type of cake but not one that celebrated gay marriage, but that wasn’t enough and the bakers got into legal trouble.  In one now-infamous case, an elderly florist in Washington state who had been happily providing flowers for two customers for  years declined to provide flowers for their wedding,  and that’s turned into an ugly battle that should have never been taken to the level it has:

Consider the case of Barronelle Stutzman, a florist in Washington State who is being sued by the attorney general of the state for refusing to involve her business in a gay wedding. You can watch her in her own words in the video above, but here’s what happened. Stutzman had been serving a gay couple in her flower shop for over ten years. She considered the men to be her friends, and they considered her to be their friend. The two gay men said that throughout their decade long friendship, they did not know that Stutzman believed homosexuality to be a sin. She didn’t treat them any differently than anyone else. She was a friend to them and served them while knowing full well that they were gay.

Does this sound like Jim Crow segregation to you? Does this sound like bigotry to you? Does this sound like discrimination to you? So what happened that got her in trouble?

The two men came into her shop one day and asked her to provide floral arrangements for their wedding celebration. Stutzman responded by taking her friend’s hand and saying this:

‘I am sorry. I can’t do your wedding because of my relationship with Jesus Christ.’ We hugged each other and he left, and I assumed it was the end of the story.

What happened next? Did the gay couple feel bad about putting their friend in a tough situation? Did they tell her, “We disagree, but we understand” and then take their business elsewhere? No, that’s not what they did. They used Facebook to spread the word about her refusal. Her refusal was reported to authorities, and now this Christian florist is being sued by the Washington State Attorney General.

Cases like that caught the attention of the Arizona state legislature, and they passed a bill – SB1062 – which, contra to the hysteria surrounding it by the Usual Suspects, did not allow you to carte blanche “refuse service to gay people” but instead gave you more of a firm legal ground in case you were sued because you refused to provide a service on religious grounds.   National Review’s Rich Lowry cuts through the bull:

The legislation consisted of minor clarifications of the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which has been on the books for 15 years and is modeled on the federal act that passed with big bipartisan majorities in the 1990s and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

[…]

If you’ll excuse a brief, boring break from the hysteria to dwell on the text of the doomed bill, it stipulated that the word “person” in the law applies to businesses and that the protections of the law apply whether or not the government is directly a party to a proceeding (e.g., a lawsuit brought on anti-discrimination grounds).

Eleven legal experts on religious freedom statutes — who represent a variety of views on gay marriage — wrote a letter to Gov. Brewer prior to her veto explaining how the bill “has been egregiously misrepresented by many of its critics.”

[…]

In addition to the federal government, 18 states have such statutes and about a dozen other states interpret their state constitutions as extending the same protections, according to the letter. The statutes, the scholars write, “say that before government can burden a person’s religious exercise, the government has to show a compelling justification.”

The letter argues that, properly interpreted, the federal law that inspired the Arizona statute covers cases that don’t directly involve the government and covers businesses. So Arizona’s changes weren’t radical but in keeping with a federal law once championed by none other than Sen. Ted Kennedy.

A religious freedom statute doesn’t give anyone carte blanche to do whatever he wants in the name of religion. It simply allows him to make his case in court that a law or a lawsuit substantially burdens his religion and that there is no compelling governmental interest to justify the burden.

[…]

The question isn’t whether businesses run by people opposed to gay marriage on religious grounds should provide their services for gay weddings; it is whether they should be compelled to by government. The critics of the much-maligned Arizona bill pride themselves on their live-and-let-live open-mindedness, but they are highly moralistic in their support of gay marriage, judgmental of those who oppose it and tolerant of only one point of view on the issue — their own.

For them, someone else’s conscience is only a speed bump on the road to progress. It’s get with the program, your religious beliefs be damned.

Indeed.

And just for the record, I think there were/are good arguments for and against the bill, but most opponents of it went straight for the jugular: “Anti-gay”, “Jim Crow laws”, “BOYCOTT” etc.  Once you start framing it in those terms without really trying to get to know the opinions of the people arguing for or against something, it’s hard to have a civil discussion about the merits – or lack thereof, if you feel that way – about any particular issue.

Anyway, she vetoed it so that’s done for now, but the issue itself is not going to go away.   The only question at this point will be: Which state will be next?

Discussion: Should private biz be legally penalized for refusing services to customers?

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Keep calm

This.

A controversial bill taken up in Kansas recently has stirred a national discussion on what constitutes “religious freedom” versus “unlawful discrimination” – via AP:

TOPEKA, Kan. — An anti-gay marriage proposal that roiled Kansas politics is dead, the chairman of a state Senate committee assigned to review it said Tuesday.

But the declaration from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Jeff King didn’t appear likely to end the debate over providing legal protections for people and organizations refusing for religious reasons to provide goods and services to gay and lesbian couples. King, an Independence Republican, said he’ll still have hearings on whether Kansas needs to enact religious liberty protections in case the federal courts strike down the state’s gay-marriage ban.

The House approved a bill last week to prohibit government sanctions or anti-discrimination lawsuits when individuals, groups and businesses cite their religious beliefs in refusing to provide goods, services, accommodations and employment benefits related to a marriage, civil union, domestic partnership, or a celebration of such relationships.

Supporters said their intent was to prevent florists, bakers and photographers from being punished for refusing to participate in same-sex weddings, keep churches from having to provide space or clergy for such ceremonies and keep religiously affiliated adoption agencies from being forced to place children with gay couples. Critics said the bill was much broader than advertised and would encourage discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Senate leaders already had said the bill would not pass their chamber, but King said Tuesday that his committee won’t even take it up.

I can’t comment on the specifics of the bill because I haven’t seen the details of it, but if what I read from my friends on the right about this bill is accurate, it represents a big overreach from simply “protecting religious freedom.” While I support protecting religious rights, I don’t support any law that would go beyond that and veer into the unfair discrimination realm. Certainly there’s a smarter, less controversial way to protect the religious freedoms of florists, bakers, etc .on this issue, right?

Well, you’d think/hope so, but on the flip side, you have the activist left (and especially militant gay liberals who talk show host Tammy Bruce refers to as the “Gay Gestapo”) who are bound and determined to bend people to their will on the issue of alternative forms of marriage, even if that means using government to punish you for refusing to provide a service related to gay marriage (like a wedding cake, etc). They’re not satisfied if a baker or a florist provided a birthday cake to a gay couple or hospital flowers to the partner of a gay customer – the baker and florist must also, to the militant left, be forced into providing services for those couples specifically as it relates to their union itself, even if the religious beliefs of the service providers go against those types of unions.

Let’s go ahead and state for the record that there are plenty of cake makers , photographers, etc who have no issue whatsoever with providing gay couples who are getting married whatever service they seek. Let’s also note that for some service providers, they don’t want to provide specific services to gay couples because they don’t like gays, while others oppose providing marriage-related services to gay couples on religious grounds – but would provide other services (like for birthdays, graduations, etc) to them upon request.

My thought is this: The explanation given for the grounds for refusal is immaterial, although using a religious rights basis certainly does raise the stakes quite a bit. You aren’t allowed by law to discriminate against a potential employee based on age, sex, race, sexual orientation, religion etc, but should the government also dictate to you what customers you can and can’t provide services to on that same basis?

The prevailing sentiment I’ve seen from those on “our side” when it comes to private business is to let the free market decide rather than government. If the story gets out – and in these types of cases it almost always does – let word of mouth and the public debate over whether it was morally right or wrong do the work rather than have Uncle Sam step in. A business lives and dies on its reputation and if enough people are dissatisfied and take their money elsewhere, perhaps the business might rethink its decisions and practices. That being said, I find it deeply disturbing that anyone on either side of the issue would want to deliberately target a business owner who provides a good or service but who also – with no malicious intent whatsoever – acts based his/her/their religious beliefs when deciding what services to provide and to whom. Some people will discriminate just to be hateful and antagonistic, while others genuinely operate in good faith.

Your thoughts?

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas

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I post this “meaning of Christmas” video clip from the Charlie Brown Christmas special every year – it never goes out of style. :) And always timely, when you think about it.

Feeling very thankful and blessed for many things this year, including another year with mom and dad. Am also extremely grateful for all of those who can’t be with their families this holiday season due to work commitments and important responsibilities, like those in the military and the medical profession. Please say a prayer and a note of thanks for those who make those sacrifices over the holiday – and everyday – for us. Also please keep in your prayers the military families of those who gave their lives in service of their country. They may be gone but we will never forget them.

God bless, y’all. Have a safe, happy, fun, and beautiful Christmas day.

Casa de ST - Christmas

Merry Christmas from Casa de ST to yours. : )

Future of Duck Dynasty show on A&E in limbo as Robertson family fires back

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Duck Dynasty

I stand with Duck Dynasty.

You’ve heard all about the “controversy” surrounding Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson and his comments about homosexuality (and other sins, which is ignored in all this). As a result, the elder Robertson was suspended from being filmed in future episodes while A&E mulled their options. Well, the Robertson family has responded, casting doubt on the future of the show – at least in terms of whether or not it will be on the A&E channel, anyway (bolded emphasis added by me):

We want to thank all of you for your prayers and support.  The family has spent much time in prayer since learning of A&E’s decision.  We want you to know that first and foremost we are a family rooted in our faith in God and our belief that the Bible is His word.  While some of Phil’s unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible. Phil is a Godly man who follows what the Bible says are the greatest commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Phil would never incite or encourage hate.We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right.We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm.  We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty.   Again, thank you for your continued support of our family.

Good for them.  This “outrage” surrounding this is just the latest in a long line of examples where political correctness has absolutely gotten out of control.  Phil Robertson is an older man – a southern Redneck – who is never going to come across filtered nor polished, and who speaks of things through that prism, and no matter the “coarse” way he spoke it, what he said about Biblical scripture as it relates to ALL sin was absolutely true.

Have we really come to the point in America where talking openly about sin is, oddly enough, blasphemous? I guess so, if the sin we’re talking about is homosexuality.  This is fascinating, considering the intolerant, bigoted, anti-Christian gay left (who we can blame for how this escalated) always complain that Christians only single out homosexuality when talking about sin. Well, in this case, Phil Robertson didn’t – he spoke of all sin, and for that, he was called a “liar” by GLAAD and other gay left groups who have deemed themselves the arbiters of what is and isn’t sin and what should and shouldn’t be discussed in the public sphere as it relates to it.  My personal opinion is that these types of groups can, quite simply, kiss my a**.

How did we get to the point where discussion of sin so openly – especially homosexuality – has become virtually taboo? A number of things: First, political correctness, which is the root of much of the problems we deal with today.  We can’t talk openly and candidly about a number of issues out of “fear” of “offending” someone (but it’s ok to offend Christians, of course).  As a result of having to ignore reality in favor of a sanitized version of “how things are”, these issues – like the welfare state, for example – continue to get worse, and in turn make more and more Americans resentful of each other.  Secondly, left wing advocacy groups who, as I described earlier, think it’s their right and moral obligation to control both the narrative and the parameters of the debate.  America has largely let them – again, out of a fear of “offending”, and as a result any pushback against these groups is characterized as “hateful” “mean-spirited” or “intolerant – or all of the above.

Thirdly, and perhaps most disturbingly, is the rise of well-meaning high profile pastors who preach a filtered, neutered version of the word of God, omitting the concept of sin as they attempt to be “inclusive” types who welcome “diverse groups” into the church. I’m a strong proponent of using new ways to attract people into the church, but not if it comes at the expense of ignoring or glossing over sin.  Without sin, there might as well be no Bible at all. Because teaching the Bible without focusing on sin equates to the belief that there are no consequences for sinful behavior in the future, and Bible-believing folks know better.

And so does God, of course.

Anyway, what does the future hold for the TV show Duck Dynasty, a show grounded in Southern traditions and the Christian faith – something A&E knew full well and good well in advance of the debut of the show? Only the Robertson family can make that decision, but I pray that they remain faithful not only to their Christian beliefs but also to the family patriarch Phil. Because backing down even one inch against A&E and the perpetually offended gay left would just add another nail in the coffin of honest public debate, not to mention would continue to perpetuate the myth that openly talking and preaching about sin is wrong.  We’ve gone down the wrong road on this for long enough.

QOTD: Liberal activist equates supporting #Obamacare to being a ‘true Christian’

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SMH

‘Nuff said.

More from the “Stuck on Stupid” files:

When Beyoncé performs at Washington’s Verizon Center on Wednesday night, she’ll encounter a small protest outside urging her to use her performance as a way to encourage young people to sign up for Obamacare.

Rocky Twyman is a local activist known for putting on timely and catchy — albeit sparsely attended — “citizen pickets” around town and is organizing one to send a message to the music superstar.

“Superstar Beyoncé raised millions for President Obama during his 2012 campaign,” Twyman wrote in an email news release Wednesday. “This Wednesday evening, representatives of the Pray at the Pump Movement (PAPM) and other concerned citizens will picket her concert urging her to use her enormous influence with youth to get them signed up before the December 23 deadline. We intend to bring healthcare.gov forms with us to be distributed to the loyal youthful fans that will be present waiting in in line to see the diva.”

[…]

On the subject of the Affordable Care Act, Twyman says he “takes issue with Christian politicians who are against providing low cost health care for 40 million people. They have forgotten the golden rule. The Bible specifically states that God wants us all to prosper and be in good health.

I get so bleeping tired of this “Jesus was a liberal” garbage that lefties periodically trot out in order to advance their warped agendas. Most recently here in North Carolina we’ve seen it via the ridiculous “Moral Monday” movement, led by state NAACP President Rev. William Barber (our version of Al Sharpton), an opportunistic race baiter who frequently derides conservative Christians in NC (specifically in the state legislature) for not supporting expansion of Medicaid, for scaling back unemployment benefits,  giving tax breaks to business owners, etc. These actions – taken by state government, and supported by most conservatives  – are not  “Godly” to the Reverend (who, along with his cult of followers, routinely uses scripture to advance socialism) and because of that he questions the Christianity of those who disagree with him on what role government should play in our lives.

I know America is full of well-meaning, decent, hard-working people, but when I read quotes like Rocky Twyman’s this feeling of hopeless for the future settles over me. Surely I’m not the only one? Talk me off my ledge, please …

Wishing the Rev. Billy Graham a very happy, blessed 95th birthday

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Rev. Billy Graham

Rev. Billy Graham

North Carolina’s favorite son and world-renowned man of faith Rev. Billy Graham turns 95 today:

His eyes are clouded, his voice grainy and his famous wavy hair has turned snow-white.

But age has not robbed Billy Graham of his power – softer now – to preach the Gospel.

As the Charlotte-born evangelist turns 95 Thursday, millions of TV watchers and churchgoers will witness what could be his final public message.

Speaking into a camera at his log cabin-like home in Montreat, Graham calls for a spiritual reawakening in America and says that the cross of Christ “demands … a new lifestyle in all of us.”

“With all my heart, I want to leave you with the truth,” the grandfatherly Graham says about God. “He loves you, willing to forgive you of all your sins.”

Graham’s new but familiar words, recorded over the last year, are featured in a DVD that’s part of a national evangelical effort called “My Hope America, with Billy Graham.” The 28-minute program, which also includes archival footage of the younger Graham, will be shown at 10 p.m. Thursday on Fox News.

In the coming days, nearly 500 local TV stations will also show the program – including Charlotte’s WBTV (channel 3), which will air it Friday at 8 p.m. And more than 25,000 churches around the country are participating in the “My Hope” effort. Pastors of those churches are providing copies of the DVD to members who have been trained to host watch gatherings in their homes.

The Observer also reports that ‘[a]bout 800 people, including celebrities, are expected to attend a private party for him at Asheville’s Omni Grove Park Inn’ tonight.   May God continue to bless him,  and continue to bless us with this wonderful, deeply inspiring and amazing man. Happy birthday, Reverend.