Sope Aluko, a Christian actress who has landed a role in the upcoming “Black Panther” blockbuster, said that she and her fellow actors testified about God’s miracles on the set of the movie.
Aluko will play Shaman in the Marvel Studios film based off of the Black Panther superhero that will arrive in theaters on Feb. 16. When speaking about being cast alongside the likes of renowned actors Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B. Jordan, and Forest Whitaker, Aluko revealed that breaks on set were almost like church.
“It felt very familiar and like home. We had early call times but I didn’t even feel the long set hours because it was such a good time,” she told OkayAfrica Friday. “I didn’t feel like I was amongst stars, everyone was so down to earth and normal. During breaks we shared our testimony of how we got to where [we] did and most of the people were testifying to God’s miracles, it was almost like church.”
Aluko often uses her social media platforms to post Bible verses. Last April, the actress shared an Instagram image of herself with “Black Panther” co-star and fellow Christian actress Angela Bassett, reflecting on the goodness of God on Palm Sunday.
“Reflecting on God’s goodness this #PalmSunday and this iconic, kind, genuine, humble, and graceful soul @im.angelabassett who I was blessed to work with recently. #Godisgood #actorslife #blessedandhighlyfavored #WorkingMomActor,” she wrote.
Bassett, who plays Ramonda, the mother of the king, previously spoke about her faith with The Christian Post. When Bassett made her directorial debut in the 2015 Lifetime film “Whitney” based on the late singer Whitney Houston’s life, she spoke about leaning on Scripture when encountering challenges in the process.
“Doubt seeped in but thank God for faith. All things work together for good, for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose,” Bassett said, quoting Romans 8:28. “So I have foundations and He is my rock I keep going back to.”
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Ed Young, lead pastor of Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, is tackling the problem of personal baggage from dysfunction and abuse in a new sermon series titled “Adult Children.”
Young is covering issues like divorce, addiction, and family dysfunction in the series, which kicked off last week and had its latest installment on Sunday.
“Divorce. Addiction. Dysfunction. Abuse. We live in a broken world and because of that, we are either experiencing one of these issues or we know someone who is,” explains Fellowship Church’s website.
“In this series of talks by Ed Young, we will discover what the Bible has to say about these issues, and that ultimately there is value in and victory over our struggles and that hope can arise from heartache.”
To illustrate his point, for his first installment of the series, delivered on Jan. 14, Young drove an SUV onto the stage of Fellowship, complete with several bags and suitcases tied to the top.
He recalled his experiences overseeing a family vacation to SeaWorld when his sons and daughters were children. Upon their return, he forgot about the luggage on top of the car and drove straight into the garage, destroying the top of his garage.
“A lot of us here have some serious family baggage. We’re carrying around a lot of baggage on top of our lives. Yet, most of us are unaware that we have the baggage. We’re just sort of used to it,” explained Young.
“We think it’s ‘normal.’ We think it’s ‘healthy.’ Yet, if we stop and look, we see the carnage, we see the destruction that the baggage is causing and also we’re discovering if we really take a look at our lives that its expensive.”
What kind of baggage are people carrying? Anxiety, anger, lack of forgiveness, promiscuity, trust issues, and guilt, among other things, Young explained. Many people grow up experiencing that baggage in their households and later end up displaying that same anxiety, anger, promiscuity and guilt.
“Maybe you grew up in the family of a divorce situation, alcohol, drugs, narcissism, maybe you grew up with some sort of abuse,” he told the congregation. In such families, young girls and boys may end up seeking love and intimacy elsewhere and find themselves having sex with the first person who sends a suggestive text or reaches out to them, Young noted.
“And then you have confusion in these families where maybe you have an absentee father or mother, you have homosexuality, addiction to porn, lust. I think we see it played out all the time. If you look at how many couples are living together now, I understand it. I get it. ‘I’m not going to repeat what I saw in my family. My parents hated each other, they divorced. I’m not going to do that. I’m going to test drive this girl … this guy [before] we get married.”
Young explained that the inspiration for the “Adult Children” series was the Bible passage of Isaiah 57:18-19, which reads: “I have seen how they acted, but I will heal them. I will lead them and help them, and I will comfort those who mourn. I offer peace to all, both near and far! I will heal my people.”
“We want children to act like adults and then we have adults acting like children. Why? Well, I’ll tell you why. The root of our problem and the fruit of our problem goes all the way back to the origin or our family of origin,” he said, referring to Adam and Eve.
“They’re the ones who said, ‘hey, I want to be God. I want to run the show.’ So from there … we’ve been dealing and trying to process these issues, these bags.”
During part 2 of the series, delivered on Sunday, Young spoke of the “will-barrow,” a play on the word “wheelbarrow” which in the sermon referred to an object meant to wheel someone to safety.
Young spoke about a hypothetical scenario in which a person finds themselves on a tall burning building and then, from a neighboring building, a cable is attached and a person goes over with a wheel-barrow for the rescue.
“Our great God has sent Jesus to fire the cable from God’s side to man’s side, He’s crossed the cable, we’re in a towering inferno. He’s locked eyes with you and me, and He looks at us and says ‘get in,’” said Young.
“Some of us, have gotten in. Some of us have said OK, Jesus, I realize that I am on a towering inferno and I get in. Others of us, though, standing here with our baggage … we don’t comprehend our true condition.”
Young attributed this metaphorical refusal to denial, with the hypothetical person replying, “I can take care of my situation” and “I don’t really have dysfunction, I don’t really have issues.”
He added that other factors for rejecting the “will barrow” include placing blame on others, being too fearful to get in, or other issues stemming from a dysfunctional upbringing.
“We use these things and we double down on our dysfunction and when we double down on our dysfunction, it brings us to our knee. Maybe you’re down on one knee. Put the other knee down,” noted Young.
“These things will bring you to the bottom. Rock bottom. And you might be saying, ‘Ed, I’m at rock bottom, man. I’m sitting on the last row, the last seat in the balcony up there and I am at rock bottom.’”
Young added that this was “good,” because “if you’re at rock bottom, now God can build a foundation and the rock is named Jesus.”
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The US’s Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (Coppa) places restrictions on the information technology companies can collect about under-13s, and many social media companies officially bar younger users from their services as a consequence.
Social networks have faced a barrage of other criticism in the ensuing months.
One issue has been the degree to which they have allowed their platforms to be manipulated by “fake news” and propaganda.
On Friday, Twitter acknowledged that more Russia-linked accounts had been engaged in efforts to spread discontent on its platform during 2016′s US presidential election than it had previously acknowledged.
“We’re not content creators; we’re a platform that distributes the content,” he said.
Social media companies – and Apple itself – also face growing criticism that their products are addictive in nature.
The recently created Time Well Spent campaign group says: “What’s best for capturing our attention isn’t best for our wellbeing,” adding the platforms would not change unless made to do so.
Several technology leaders – including Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, and Google’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai, – are expected to resist calls for further regulation at behind-the-scenes meetings at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week.
But one industry watcher thought it likely that legislators and their watchdogs would soon intervene in the way technology companies operated.
“They are having huge effect on the ways we get information and how we live our lives,” said Dr Joss Wright, from the Oxford Internet Institute.
“And the idea that because they are ‘technology’ means they should be exempt from regulation or should be allowed to fix all the problems themselves doesn’t stand up.
“We need to have a say as society in what their problems are and what effects they are having, and that’s the role of regulation.”
French train engineering giant Alstom is to test automated freight trains in the Netherlands this year.
The automated train prototype can travel for about 100km (60 miles) without driver intervention.
Automation will free the train driver to focus on supervising the train’s progress.
The test’s purpose is to provide a live demonstration that the train and the signal system can communicate effectively to drive the train.
Alstom signed an agreement with the the Dutch infrastructure operator ProRail and Rotterdam Rail Feeding (RRF) to carry out the tests along the Betuweroute – a 150km double track freight railway line connecting Rotterdam to Germany.
Complete autonomy unlikely
Although automation is considered to be the future of transport, it is unlikely that driverless trains will ever be completely autonomous.
“I can’t ever see it where there is no-one sitting at the front of the train at all,” rail journalist Tony Miles told the BBC.
“We prefer to have someone there to press an override button – for example, if rogue vehicles crash on to the train tracks, or people jump in front of trains.
“The driver gets a feeling and can tell long before a computer can.
“Computers will need to become much more intelligent to sense this.”
Driverless train technology already exists – the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) is fully automated – but Mr Miles predicts that it will still take between 30-50 years for the technology to be realised in Europe, because getting an automatic signalling system to work over a long distance is difficult to achieve.
There is also the issue that while it might be easy to design an automated railway line from scratch, upgrading existing lines is more complicated.
“When you try to redesign the big Victorian railways built 150 years ago, it’s a lot harder as they were never designed to be automated,” Mr Miles said.
“You’d also have to plan a long time ahead about which lines to switch off and when. And in the UK we’ve got the busiest railway in Europe, so that wouldn’t be easy.”
“Under the NZ copyright act, online copyright infringement is not a crime,” said Mr Dotcom.
“92B of Section 131 – an amendment created by parliament in 2012 – prohibits any criminal sanction against an internet service provider in New Zealand.
“In order for the US to be successful with an extradition, the allegation of the crimes that they are charging someone with also have to be a crime in the country from which they request the extradition.”
On 16 January, Mr Dotcom announced that he had received two containers worth of his assets that had been released by the Hong Kong government.
“It’s about $2m worth of designer furniture and high-tech stuff,” he said.
“But most frustrating is the loss of our family archive of 800 hours of video, the birth of my children, birthdays, holidays – it’s really sad.”
Mr Dotcom is still fighting extradition, and the next hearing for the case will be in the Appeals Court on 20 February.
In December, Mr Dotcom requested a judicial review into his case. The US applied to have the arguments he made for his case to be reviewed struck out.
High Court judge Timothy Brewer rejected seven of the eight arguments because he said the High Court was not the place to bring up a judicial review, however he felt that Mr Dotcom did have a case.
“Given the context of the application, and acknowledging Mr Dotcom’s submissions outlined above, I accept there is a reasonably arguable case that the district court judge did not have reasonable grounds to believe that the offence for which Mr Dotcom is sought is an extradition offence,” he wrote in the judgement.
Mr Dotcom intends to raise the judicial review at the Appeals Court hearing in February.
Marriage and ICO
On Saturday 20 January – the sixth anniversary of the raid – Mr Dotcom married Elizabeth Donnelly in a private wedding ceremony in Auckland.
“Liz and I got married on the sixth anniversary of the raid so that this special day will always be a happy anniversary in the future,” he said.
His new micro-payments business, Bitcache, is also preparing to launch an initial coin offering (ICO) in the next three months, underwritten by crowdfunding investment platform Bank To The Future.
Due to the ongoing legal case against him, the ICO will not be open to residents of the US.
Mr Dotcom says that he is separate from Bitcache to ensure that it cannot be shut down in the event that he is extradited and tried in the US.
Nevertheless, he says the damages case is essential to removing the loss of reputation that has made it difficult for him to do business in many countries.
“That’s why it’s all so important that I clear my name and all the charges are dropped and this damages claim goes ahead,” he said.
“I don’t want to be seen as what the US government charges me as.”
The charges against Kim Dotcom
The US Department of Justice has said Mr Dotcom and his associates enabled copyright infringement by letting users store pirated files in free cloud lockers.
Users posted links to the pirated content for others to download free, but Megaupload would not close down lockers containing infringing content.
Mr Dotcom has long argued that he did not aid piracy because he had a takedown system that enabled copyright holders to delete links to pirated files, and without the link, a user could not reach the file.
US authorities say Mr Dotcom and others cost film studios and record companies more than $500m (£322m) in lost earnings, while making at least $175m for themselves.
During the Republican primaries, I was nearly a Never Trumper, so I’m quite sympathetic to that mindset. But I have a challenge for all of you who still identify as Never Trumpers: Are you willing to be as honest about the accomplishments of President Trump as you are about his failings?
For many of you who could not vote for Trump, it was a matter of conscience. How could you be a “values voter” and yet vote for a man with such abysmal moral values, a thrice-married, playboy, billionaire?
Put another way, your integrity compelled you to be a Never Trumper. But does your integrity now compel you to admit where he has done well? Where he has kept his promises? Where he has championed causes that really matter to “value voters”? Where he has stood strong for the some of the great moral issues of the day?
Lest you think I’m being one-sided in my challenge to Never Trumpers, in June I wrote an article titled, “Don’t Sell Your Soul Defending the Words of President Trump.” And earlier this month I penned, “As Evangelicals Our Ultimate Allegiance is to the Lord, Not the President,” just to give two examples.
In short, I concur with prominent Never Trumper David French, who just last month counseled his colleagues to follow these guidelines: “Praise him when he’s right, critique him when he’s wrong, apply the same standards to your own side that you apply to ideological opponents, and keep your eyes fixed on the larger, more important cultural trends.”
But have Never Trumpers done this? On a regular basis, those of us who voted for Trump are called on to repudiate his latest ill-advised comment or tweet, or to condemn a past indiscretion. And with words similar to French’s, I recently wrote, “When the president does the right thing, we commend him and encourage him. When he does the wrong thing, with full respect for his office, we express our differences. Is this really so hard?”
But I ask again, have you done this as Never Trumpers? Doesn’t your integrity compel you to be even-handed, or, perhaps, to acknowledge where, at times, you may have been wrong?
Since the media bombards us 24/7 with the latest failings or alleged failings of the President, there’s no need for me to rehearse them here. Only the most extreme pro-Trumpers view him as a flawless saint.
But will you, my Never Trumper friends, be as truthful in your praise as you have been in your criticism?
Consider the President’s pro-life words and actions.
He appointed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, along with a score of fine justices for other federal positions. This alone is highly significant.
Last week, “The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed an amicus (or ‘friend-of-the-court’) brief at the Supreme Court Wednesday, urging the justices to overturn a California law requiring pro-life crisis pregnancy centers to post information about state-funded abortions.” Could anything be more anti-Obama than this?
Also last week, Trump made history as the first sitting president to address the March for Life in DC, which begs the question, Why didn’t our previous, pro-life presidents do this? And in his speech, he criticized Roe v. Wade by name.
In terms of actions taken so far, was Vice President Pence exaggerating when he called Trump the “most pro-life” president in our history? Pence “boasted of a litany of anti-abortion measures by the Trump administration over its first year: Banning federal funds for global health groups that promote abortion under the ‘Mexico City policy,’ defunding the United Nations Population Fund, and overturning an Obama administration rule that required states to provide funding for Planned Parenthood.”
How about Trump’s actions opposing LGBT activism and standing for religious freedoms?
For the first time in 8 years, last June was not gay pride month. In contrast, January 16 was just proclaimed ”Religious Freedom Day.”
Evaluating Trump’s first year in office, a headline on The Hill announces, “Trump administration amasses striking anti-LGBT record in first year.” Similarly, a headline on The Conversation describes 2017 as “the year of transgender moral panic.”
To give one case in point, The Hill reported last October that, “Attorney General Jeff Sessions is reversing course on the Justice Department’s policy that a 1964 civil rights law protects transgender individuals from discrimination.”
And in stark contrast with the Obama administration’s aggressive pushing of transgender activism in our children’s schools, the DOJ under Trump has reversed course here as well. This too is quite major. (It does not bring me joy that transgenders and their allies feel threatened or insecure; it does bring me joy that sanity is prevailing in our schools.)
Trump is also the first president to take a major step in repealing the onerous Johnson Amendment, although more still needs to be done to make this far-reaching and permanent.
And what of Trump’s decision to move our embassy to Jerusalem, along with his calling out of the Palestinian Authority’s deception?
For many conservative voters, these are some of the most important issues: the sanctity of life and marriage; preserving religious freedoms; standing with Israel.
And what of the strength of the economy? The decimation of ISIS?
Do you have the integrity to commend the President for the good he has done?
Steve Deace says it well: “I was once NeverTrump. I have called our current president both a narcissist and a child. Compared him to both Peter Pan and former pro wrestling manager extraordinaire Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan.
“The news that the Trump administration is setting up a new division within the Department of Health and Human Services to protect the conscience rights of doctors, nurses, and other health-care providers is unambiguously good. It allows HHS to come to the defense of conscientious objectors working in the health-care field by defending the God-given rights of those who opt out of ‘certain procedures’ — like the killing field that is abortion or gender-bending sex-change operations.”
This “is an outcome that simply wouldn’t and couldn’t have happened if Hillary Clinton was president,” nor Deace reasons, likely would have happened under an establishment candidate like Mitt Romney.
So, once more, my appeal to the Never Trumpers: Will you demonstrate your integrity by recognizing the good President Trump has done without overbalancing your statement with a litany of the negatives, at least just this one time? And might you even acknowledge that, in some important ways, he has done better than you expected?
I look forward to hearing your responses.
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Considering that the recent premiere of “The Tale” was met with a standing ovation in this year’s Sundance Film Festival, fans are interested to know how the critics view the film and if it is worth watching. Here is everything that the critics are saying about “The Tale.”
According to a review by Vanity Fair, there is a lot about “The Tale” that is hard to review. The film is made by documentarian Jennifer Fox, who drew from personal experience and trauma to make her first scripted production in the form of “The Tale.” It is about Fox’s own experience of past sexual abuse and it essentially showcases the suffering that was caused by her experience and how she came to terms with it. The review details how Fox was portrayed by Laura Dern, who received a worthy praise for bringing to life the complexities of Fox’s experience to the big screen. The younger Fox is portrayed by Isabelle Nelisse, who delivers a haunting recount of the documentarian’s trauma.
A further review from The Guardian detailed how the film was unforgiving, relentless, and captivating in its storytelling. Fox’s abuser, Bill (Jason Ritter) was never crass and in his character, viewers were haunted by the charm and openness that attracted young Fox to him. Aside from the characters of the film, Fox succeeds in delivering exacting scenes that detail her experience. It is rattling in that the lovemaking scenes were dubbed as such by young Fox before later realizing that her experience is what adults would call rape.
Overall, “The Tale” requires a lot of mental and emotional preparation as it toes the line between fiction and fact. Despite the intense details of the film, Fox deserves full praise and standing ovations as her bravery was lauded by critics who appreciated the haunting tale and inciting a timely discussion.
Scarlett Johansson could become the highest-paid actress to star in a superhero movie. Sources revealed that the “Avengers” star is negotiating with Marvel for “Black Widow” for which she might just land a sweet deal.
According to reports, Marvel wants Johansson’s solo superhero movie to carry a 2020 theater release. Her agents are also negotiating with the actress to get a producer’s credit on “Black Widow.”
If the deal becomes final, Johansson could make Hollywood history and take home a $25 million paycheck for doing a superhero film. Insiders predict, given Marvel’s previous blockbuster films, that “Black Widow” might also earn around $900 million in the box office, which could, in turn, earn Johansson an additional $6 million in bonus.
Johansson briefly played the superhero Black Widow and her alter egos Natasha Romanoff/Natalie Rushman in 2012 in “Iron Man 2.” That same year, Black Widow became a full-fledged member of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (MCU) in “The Avengers.”
Since then, Johansson has appeared four times as Black Widow in other MCU films — “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (2014), “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015), “Captain America: Civil War” (2016) and the upcoming “Avengers: Infinity War,” which will be in theaters this May. She’s also going to be in the final movie, “Avengers 4,” which will mark the end of the first phase of the MCU in 2019.
Marvel tapped screenwriter Jac Schaeffer (“Nasty Women”) to prepare the script for the Johansson’s standalone film. Jude Law and Ben Mendelsohn are also being eyed to join the actress.
Disney, however, has not yet given the project a green light but the actress is allegedly well-loved in the studio and executives believe her standalone movie could rival the success of “Wonder Woman.” Fans of the MCU wished that Marvel would come up with a solo film centering on Black Widow for the longest time.
Major League Baseball team the New York Mets, have once again formally invited Christian athlete Tim Tebow to join their team for spring training in St. Lucie, Florida.
The announcement was made Friday and sports fans are wondering whether or not this means he is one step closer to being promoted to the major leagues. Tebow is currently a part of New York Mets’ Class A affiliate team, the Fireflies.
The former NFL quarterback played for the Mets’ minor league system all of 2017, batting .226 with eight home runs and 52 RBIs in 126 games. He kicked off the season in Columbia, South Carolina, in the South Atlantic League but was promoted to the Florida State League to play for Class A St. Lucie in late June.
The 30-year-old came out the gate swinging when he first joined St. Lucie. He batted .317 over his first 25 games and had a 12-game hitting streak while playing outfield and as a designated hitter. According to ESPN, out of 93 qualified hitters in the South Atlantic League at the time, Tebow landed at No. 85 as was still promoted to high A ball.
Now, the Mets inviting Tebow to big league camp once again guarantees that he will be in the lineup and actually play in the games for spring training.
Many have criticized the Heisman Trophy winner’s ability to play baseball, some even claiming that he only has a position in baseball because he can help sell t-shirts, jerseys and fill the stadium seats. However, Tebow continues to defy the odds by being an example for others who wish to live out their dreams.
Tebow has said that playing major league baseball has always been a childhood dream of his and although numbers like his wouldn’t normally garner a major-league invite, his age has pushed the Mets to accelerate his progress.
At the 2017 SABR conference in New York last year, Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson told fans that they enjoy having Tebow a part of the Mets family.
“We signed him because he is a good guy, partly because of his celebrity, partly because this is an entertainment business,” Alderson told attendees according to a report. “My attitude is ‘why not?’”
Fireflies President John Katz told reporters during a press conference last season that Tebow has greatly impacted the clubhouse.
“His contributions, both on the field and in our community, have made a tremendous impact on our team, the City of Columbia and the entire South Atlantic League,” Katz said. “We wish Tim the best as he continues his journey to Citi Field.”
Because of his celebrity status, Tebow helped push the Fireflies’ average attendance up nearly 40 percent over a year ago. Tebow maintained that he’s not thinking about the naysayers.
“It’s not something that I have to answer,” he said at that press conference. “I just try to go out there and try to work. A lot more smarter, wiser people than me that make those decisions.”
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Christianity is a faith with a long and detailed history, with numerous events of lasting significance occurring throughout the ages.
Each week brings the anniversaries of great milestones, horrid tragedies, amazing triumphs, telling tribulations, inspirational progress, and everything in between.
Here are just a few things that happened this week, Jan. 21-27, in church history. They include the Pilgrims’ first worship service in America, the calling of Second Vatican, and the founding of the United States’ first Catholic college.