Microsoft’s highly-popular and widely-known first-person shooter game, “Halo,” is to get its newest title named “Halo 5: Guardians” in Fall of 2015. The game is being developed by 343 Industries, a subsidiary of Microsoft Studios and will serve as the sequel to “Halo 4.”
James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ was released in 2009, and the film featured a lot of ground breaking technology in film making that is still very much talked about nowadays. The film continues to hold the record for the highest grossing movie of all time, garnering a staggering total of $2.782 earnings worldwide.
It is being reported that ‘The Amazing Spiderman 3′ movie will not make its premiere until four years from now, presumably to make way for three spin-off films of the movie. It is said that ‘The Amazing Spiderman 2′s not so impressive box office earnings and lukewarm reception among critics may have been instrumental in changing Sony’s priorities when it comes to releasing the film.
She is mentioned by name only twice in the Bible, in Exodus 6:20 and Numbers 26:59. Most Bible readers don’t even know her name!
The testimony of her life tells us it is not so much who you are but what you do with your life, how you meet life’s crises and responsibilities, that matter! Jochebed was a woman of God, used greatly by God because she did not allow crisis in her life to overcome her or her family. Jochebed had the unique opportunity to raise three leaders!
This remarkable woman was unknown by man, but known by God. Her life speaks loudly through her children. Although Jochebed was born into slavery, she had kept her faith in God and His faithfulness to His people! Her husband was with her in faith, yet it was Jochebed who set God’s plan in motion. A plan that would not only save her son but also deliver a nation!
Hebrews 11:23 gives us the key to deliverance.”By faith Moses when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command.” What did they see? As she looked at her baby, she knew God had a plan for her son. She did not know exactly what that plan was, but she knew that God gives life. “The thief does not come except to steal, kill and to destroy. I have come that they might have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
As a woman of God, Jochebed had set a standard for her life. When crisis hit her family, she did not fall apart but had faith in God to make the way of escape. The Scripture stated, “by faith because they saw.” As they took their stand, God was able to reveal to her a very simple plan of deliverance. Much depended on her faith and trust in God to keep peace in the situation, so she could be prompted by God.
The plan was simple, based on things she already possessed.
A simple basket made into a life preserver. We know it was God’s idea because of its simplicity! Her problem was not a stumbling block but a stepping stone for a greater opportunity, deliverance of a nation! Did Jochebed realize the significance of what was happening? Just as we have to take each step in faith and don’t know the overall plan, I believe she was in the same position. Her utmost thoughts at this time was to preserve the life of her child.
The same river that brought death to many Hebrew children, preserved life for Moses. His parents had made a commitment to God, and this gave them the strength to say, “we will not bow to man, but we will trust in our God!” Moses was rescued, his future secure. God had provided the way for Jochebed to care for her son openly, paid for by the man who had tried to kill her child! “For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, I redeemed you from the house of bondage, and I sent before you Moses, Aaron and Miriam” (Micah 6:4).
It is unlikely in human history that three children of one mother ever had such an influence at the same time in the earth. Truly her life speaks through her children. As you read and study her testimony, you will be encouraged and your faith in God strengthened. She was listed in the “heroes of faith.” A housewife and mother, not bound by natural thinking, as she prepared and led her children into the plans and purposes that God had for their lives. Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt physically, but it all started when his mother made a spiritual decision to trust her God and not bow to man and his ways!
Study the life of this woman of God and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal truths from God’s Word that will set you free! I believe a key in this testimony is her commitment. She was committed to God, and the circumstances in her life did not alter that commitment. Living in slavery, under the ruler of this world, the Lord was able to lead her through the trial. Truly a woman of God who knew how to grow roses from the thorns of life!
Joyce Tilney is an author, blogger and founder of Women of God Ministries.
My daughter is only 8 years old, and she has clinical depression. It was not shocking to hear the therapist say it after a long process of evaluations, but it was still hard to hear. She’s so young.
What did I do wrong?
Is it my fault?
Is she not happy with our family?
Did her first four years living in an orphanage before we adopted her cause it?
Is this a result of her having cerebral palsy?
Did her biological mother struggle with depression too?
These thoughts, these questions, don’t ever seem to have an answer. I don’t know why she struggles with depression, and I will never know what caused it. All I know is that depression is as real in children as it is in adults. And not many people are talking about it.
With the recent death of Robin Williams, I have seen many great posts about depression. Like my friend Gillian Marchenko’s post, where she calls depression the elephant in the room, and how we need to talk about it, it is a great post. But who is talking about the children? What about children who struggle with depression?
We adopted our daughter right before her 4th birthday; we noticed her anxiety and her post-traumatic-stress right away. It took a few years for us to accept the reactive-attachments disorder, and even longer to notice the depression.
A few months ago, we began to notice increased negative self talk as a result of minor things. She tripped, “I’m a dummy, I’m such a dummy!” She would accidentally break something, “It’s all my fault, all my fault!” If she was disobedient, “Well I ruined everyone’s day!” We tried to put a stop to that, reminding her that she was talking about our daughter and we did not want to hear that type of talk, nobody is a dummy, accidents happen, and we all have bad days. Then it escalated and as she screamed and kicked in her room we heard her say, “I should die! Someone should kill me now!”
How did she even know to say that?
How did she think of such dark thoughts? She was only 7 years old.
“Why did you say that? Where did you hear someone say that?” I tried to ask.
“Nobody said it. I feel it!” she said.
My husband tried to comfort her, and I could hear her cry, “Just let me be dead, just let me be!” And she would not allow us to comfort her, to hug her, to hold her.
Later that night, my husband looked straight at me, “We need to do something. If we don’t get her help now, we will have a child that one day commits suicide.”
His words chilled my bones, Oh God not my child!
The next morning at school, I came to the office to let them know it had been a long night. The secretary asked, “Is everything OK?”
And I started crying, right there in the school office, telling them I was terrified for my child. The secretary came around her desk and gave me a hug, she then sent me to the school psychologist, so she could help me find someone to help my daughter.
“There is a place,” the psychologist said, “that works with kids that are in the foster-care system or have been adopted. It is their specialty, and these are the only kids they see. They specialize in mental-health issues and trauma.”
I left with the information and called right away.
My daughter’s life is complex. She has a background of abandonment, a life lived in an institution, a disability. What specifically has caused her depression? We don’t know, it could be all of it, it could simply be her genetic disposition; we just don’t know. But we do know that it is real, and it affects her life.
So every Thursday we make the drive to see her therapist, we have started neurofeedback, we are using essential oils, supplements, and looking at food sensitivities. Yes, she has more than depression going on. Some people looking at her from the outside may think that cerebral palsy affects her life the most, and while it does affect her, it is her mental health that she struggles with every day. It is the big challenge we face with her every single day. Some days are good, some days are hard, some days are brutal. Some weeks are bad.
But we are making progress. We hear less negative self-talk now, and her demeanor doesn’t normally convey depression. If you asked her, she does not feel sad most of the time.
Children struggle with depression too, it is an elephant in the room, and we need to start talking about it to break the stigma, the shame, the isolation.
My child has clinical depression—a mental-health issue—and there is no shame in that.
Don’t miss the post, When Children Have Mental Health Issues for more on this topic, statistics, and research.
Adapted from Ellen Stumbo’s blog at www.ellenstumbo.com. Ellen is a pastor’s wife, and she writes about finding beauty in brokenness with gritty honesty and openness. She is passionate about sharing the real—sometimes beautiful and sometimes ugly—aspects of faith, parenting, special needs, and adoption. She has been published in Focus on the Family, LifeWay, MomSense, Not Alone, and Mamapedia among others.
“Black Jesus,” a live-action comedy series airing on Adult Swim, drew swift condemnation before its premiere in early August. Some Christians blasted Aaron McGruder’s satirical portrayal of their lord and savior as a weed-smoking, foul-mouthed black man living in Compton, California. They called “Black Jesus” blasphemous, disrespectful to African Americans, and just all around a bad idea. But others, who have viewed more than the trailer that sparked much of the hullabaloo, say “Black Jesus” is not all that bad — and certainly not worth mounting a boycott against.
Jezebel was a Phoenician princess who married Ahab, king of Israel. Her father was Ethbaal, king and high priest of the Sidonians. Queen Jezebel introduced Baal worship into Israel. By acquiescing to her idolatry, King Ahab broke the first two commandments:
“You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them” (Ex. 20:3–5).
Baal worship gives us clues as to the workings of Jezebel. The name Baal means “lord” or “possessor.” According to the Dake Annotated Reference Bible, Baal was the sun-god of Phoenicia, and the supreme deity among the Canaanites and various other pagan nations. His full title is Baal-Shemaim, which means “lord of heaven.” In Greek mythology, Baal is the equivalent of Zeus.
The Canaanites, who were Baal worshipers, participated in sex worship, fertility rites, religious prostitution and human sacrifice—all to pacify the gods. Fast-forward 54 chapters in the Bible and you find the false prophetess Jezebel who teaches and seduces God’s servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. Can you see the stage being set for idolatry and sexual immorality in Jezebel’s world? Where Jezebel is pulling the strings, you will find idolatry and sexual immorality behind the curtain.
Just how sinister is the Jezebel spirit? Easton’s Bible Dictionary says,”Jezebel has stamped her name on history as the representative of all that is designing, crafty, malicious, revengeful and cruel. She is the first great instigator of persecution against the saints of God. Guided by no principle, restrained by no fear of either God or man, passionate in her attachment to her heathen worship, she spared no pains to maintain idolatry around her in all its splendor.”
Matthew Henry’s Commentary calls Jezebel a “zealous idolater, extremely imperious and malicious in her natural temper, addicted to witchcrafts and whoredoms, and every way vicious.”
Clearly, the spirit of Jezebel is interested in more than control and manipulation. We have to discern the deeper motive of this spirit if we ever hope to resist the temptations that will lead to the great falling away that Paul writes about in 2 Thess. 2:3. Jude urges us to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to us, because “certain men have crept in unnoticed … ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4).
The spirit of Jezebel is already running rampant in the world. Unfortunately, Jezebel is also running loose in the church and manifests in many local congregations without anyone ever seeing it—or confronting it.
If Jezebel is not a spirit of control and manipulation, what, then, does Jezebel look like? It looks just the way many books describe—on the surface. This is why so many are deceived. Jezebel is not merely a woman (or a man) with an overbearing personality or immature character. Jezebel’s influence runs much deeper than a desire to make someone a mouthpiece or puppet, or control the worship song list, or intimidate people from joining the inner circle in order to guard the leadership positions of those it controls.
Let’s be real. Some of those bossy, controlling people just need to read How to Win Friends and Influence People, and they would be fine. In other words, some saints just need good old-fashioned people skills.
So, think again: What does Jezebel look like in the church? Male or female, a Jezebelite—meaning a person who is influenced or dominated by this spirit—is a subtle seducer. And the key word is subtle. If Jezebel were obvious, no one would be fooled. A Jezebelite usually has a charismatic personality that draws people to other gods and away from Christ. Sometimes she succeeds in this idolatry by exalting pastors—puffing them up, putting them on a pedestal, giving them the honor God should have. She also does this by luring people to the things of the world and by introducing doctrines and principles that sound godly but come from the world’s system.
Likewise, a Jezebelite is quick to encourage sin. A woman confides in her, for instance, that she is having sex out of wedlock. The Jezebelite will assure the woman that it is OK if she is in love, easing the guilt and glossing over any godly conviction the woman might feel.
Please hear me: If we look only for control and manipulation, we will wrongly accuse people of “flowing in a Jezebel spirit,” while the principality wreaks havoc in the lives of people in the church.
There have been strong lines drawn between God’s prophets and Jezebel. Remember, it was the wicked Queen Jezebel who is credited with killing the Lord’s prophets. Obadiah risked his life by hiding a hundred prophets in two caves and feeding them bread and water, while Jezebel’s own prophets sat at a table overflowing with rich food and wine (see 1 Kings 18:4, 19). From this contrast we see there are carnal rewards for cooperating with Jezebel in this lifetime, and there are eternal rewards for refusing to tolerate that spirit.
By the same token, God will not wait until eternity to pour out judgments on those who refuse to repent of flowing in a Jezebel spirit. Nor will those who refuse to tolerate that spirit go unrewarded in this lifetime. I can tell you this from experience. If you refuse to bow down to Jezebel—no matter what it costs you—God will repay you, at least in part, even now.
Jennifer LeClaire is a prophetic voice and teacher with a growing media ministry. She directs IHOP-Fort Lauderdale and serves as news editor of Charisma magazine. In addition, she writes one of Charisma’s most popular prophetic columns, “The Plumb Line,” and frequently contributes to Charisma’s Prophetic Insight newsletter. She is the author of several books, including The Spiritual Warrior’s Guide to Defeating Jezebel, from which this article is adapted. Her media ministry includes her website, 40,000 followers on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and a growing newsletter list. She lives in south Florida. Learn more at www.jenniferleclaire.org.
HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Over the long months that Victoria Mitchell lived in her car with her infant daughter, there was one bright spot in her life: doing laundry.
Every month, Mitchell would trek to a local laundromat and take advantage of Laundry Love, a growing faith-driven movement that helps those who are homeless or financially struggling by washing their dirty clothes for free. Amid the comforting routine of fluffing and folding, volunteers befriend their patrons and often find ways to help that go beyond free soap and quarters.
Mitchell, for example, now has a job and place to live after the Laundry Love volunteers pooled their money to help her family rent a starter apartment. They have also watched her daughter Jessica grow from a newborn to a curly-haired toddler.
“You’re not just checking a box to give a donation. You’re spending the whole evening with these people and getting your hands dirty and it’s intimate — you’re doing people’s laundry,” said LuzAnna Figueroa, who volunteers at the group’s Huntington Beach chapter and has grown close to Mitchell and her daughter.
Richard Flory, a religion expert from the University of Southern California who has studied Laundry Love extensively, said Mitchell is just one example of how the organization can profoundly impact people through something as simple as washing their clothes.
“It’s an opportunity for people . to live out their faith out in a concrete way, in a frankly elegantly simple model where you do something that’s necessary for people who don’t have the means to do it for themselves,” Flory said.
The movement began about 10 years ago with a small Christian church in Ventura, California, and has since spread to more than 100 locations throughout the country to people from all faiths.
Christian Kassoff started the Huntington Beach chapter two years ago with his wife, Shannon. On a recent warm summer night, Kassoff glanced around the laundromat and smiled at the dozens of people who depend on him and the other volunteers for clean laundry each month.
Classic hits from David Bowie and The Clash blasted through speakers as patrons pushed around wheeled metal baskets full of laundry and stuffed loads of dirty clothes — some not washed for weeks — into industrial-sized machines.
Those doing their laundry also lined up outside to eat their fill of tacos as volunteers prayed inside before starting the night’s washing.
David Clarke, who has been coming to the laundromat for four months after losing his job as an aerospace machinist, estimates he’s saved $200 on laundry in that time, but said he gets a lot more from the washing sessions than savings.
“These people are wonderful people. They want to know what’s going on in your life,” he said. “They really care about you and how you’re doing.”
Kassoff, his arms laced with tattoos, recalled a time in his life just over 10 years ago when he was in a similar situation to many of those who come — addicted to heroin and living in his car. At his lowest point, he said, he started attending services at his local Episcopal church.
His newfound faith, he said, saved his life and motivated him to help others in need.
“I’m not wealthy but I have the gift of time and a heart for it, so this fits,” Kassoff said.
Flory said that’s why the movement has taken off — the simplicity and necessity of washing clothes. The Huntington Beach chapter began as an Episcopal outreach, but now welcomes volunteers of any faith, including members of a local mosque who started showing up recently.
Juan Montes was reluctant to attend Laundry Love several months ago after a friend invited him to volunteer. He now goes every month and looks forward to the conversations he will have, even though his friend has stopped going.
“It’s changed me in the way that now when I see people who are homeless, I don’t see them like an object. Now their stories come to mind, names come to mind because I’ve had conversations with them,” he said.
(RNS) Chicago. New York. Washington, D.C. In quick succession this year, three women have been chosen to lead historic tall-steeple churches in all these cities.
In May, the Rev. Shannon Johnson Kershner became the first woman solo senior pastor at Chicago’s Fourth Presbyterian Church. In June, the Rev. Amy Butler was elected senior pastor of New York City’s Riverside Church. And finally, in July, the Rev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli began leading Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C.
“For women to speak in those pulpits and speak boldly as public voices in these very public buildings is very powerful,” said the Rev. Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary, who recently hosted a dinner party with some of New York’s movers and shakers to welcome Butler to town.
It’s been 40 years since the Episcopal Church first ordained women, and other denominations have long included women in their clergy ranks. But these new advances are occurring sooner in the lives of these three women than some of their older counterparts. The Hartford Institute for Religion Research reports that women clergy are much more likely to serve in smaller congregations.
Scholar Diana Butler Bass hailed the arrival of these women — all in their 40s and leading large, urban, neo-Gothic churches — but also wondered if they reflect the “General Motors phenomenon.”
“Are women coming into leadership only as the institutions are collapsing?” asked Bass, author of “Christianity After Religion.”
“Now that they’re in crisis, it’s almost like the men are moving out and, ‘Oh well, we’ll just leave it to the women.’ Then if the church doesn’t succeed, then it’s the woman’s fault. It’s a kind of a double-edged sword.”
Gaines-Cirelli, 44, doesn’t view it that way.
“I think there are challenges and I think that we face them and I think that the fact that women are being counted among those who are capable of facing those challenges at the highest level is a very positive sign,” said the native Oklahoman.
Sociologist of religion Cynthia Woolever said the movement of first-career women to these significant sanctuaries is occurring in the isolated realm of mainline Protestantism, where about 20 percent of congregations are led by clergywomen.
“If you look at conservative Protestant churches you find very few; in the Catholic church: zero,” said Woolever, editor of The Parish Paper, a newsletter for regional offices of mainline denominations.
“It’s wonderful that women are being given those kinds of opportunities to serve in those very large churches, but it’s a very small slice of the pie.”
All three of the senior pastors have had to jump gender-specific hurdles.
In June, Butler used the hashtag “nevergetsold” when she tweeted about how a funeral director didn’t believe she was a minister. She once had to get an emergency room security guard to log on to her former church’s website to show him her photo there so she could pay a late-night visit to a sick congregant.
“Look, I know you’re his girlfriend,” the guard told her before she convinced him otherwise.
Kershner said that early in her ministry when she was a hospital chaplain, she often entered rooms where she was rebuffed because she wasn’t a “real minister.”
In every place she’s served as the first woman pastor, Gaines-Cirelli has heard a variation on this theme: “I was so worried that we were getting a woman, but I think that you’re going to be just fine.”
Comparable pay was yet another hurdle.
But both Butler and Len Leach, chair of Riverside’s church council, said the pastor’s base salary of $250,000 is equivalent to that received by her predecessor, the Rev. Brad Braxton.
“It is a big job and for me it’s a big, wonderful opportunity and a big risk and so I think the Riverside Church has really stepped out here to set a great example for the rest of Christendom,” said Butler, a native Hawaiian who will lead a majority black congregation.
Butler described her total package, including benefits, as “fair.” Leach said Butler decided to give $35,000 annually to the interdenominational church’s general fund and an additional $26,000 as a scholarship to pay the annual tuition of a student at the church’s day school.
Kershner and Gaines-Cirelli also said they are paid fairly.
All three women are not only leading congregations but staffs that include other female clergy. Riverside’s staff has four other women clergy, Fourth Church has three female associate pastors, and Foundry has one female associate pastor as well as a woman executive pastor.
“The truth is that for years, it was all men; in some places it still is and nobody bats an eye,” said Gaines-Cirelli. “So the fact that we are live-streaming to the world this other vision is kind of powerful.”
Foundry member Leo Lawless agreed.
“It’s about time, isn’t it?” he said, noting that a recent worship service featured Gaines-Cirelli and two other women clergy, and two female acolytes as well as a laywoman who read the Scriptures.
The three senior clergywomen each say they look forward to the day when they’re viewed simply as their congregation’s pastor, rather than its woman pastor.
Said Kershner: “My hope is that little boys and little girls see me and the other clergy and think if that’s something that they say and others think God’s calling them to do, then they can do it.”
When Hemali Shah was a girl, sometimes it was hard to be a Jain. She wanted to run in the grass with other kids, but had to worry about accidentally stepping on an insect, and killing it.
Jainism is a tiny Indian religious sect in Chicago. Jains believe in nonviolence, to the point of not harming any sentient being, through action or even thought.
“I was an athlete, so I played softball a lot, and obviously if you’re playing in the grass, there’s lot of bugs, so I ended up playing in the infield,” Shah said.