China trip – 5. Chinese police

It seems China is serious about protecting citizens and tourists from petty crime or terrorism which is a good thing, I often feel that Britain and Europe are too trusting and naive when it comes to try to accept everyone and not screen out those who are a risk from radical Islam and other terror threats.

China’s police are everywhere.   As this is a communist country, does this provide reassurance from crime or worry?  I am not sure.

DSCF0154 1024

In malls and places popular with tourists, the Chinese cops have these golf cart type vehicles.   I’d like to know how fast they go and if they could keep up with an escaping shoplifter!

DSCF9414 1024

Underground stations in Beijing and Shanghai are well protected, each station requires bags put through an xray by staff as well as stern warning signs about not bring explosives or firearms onto public transport.

DSCF9689 1024

This huge station in Beijing has a looped cartoon showing how the police protect citizens.  More on the trains of China soon.

4. Snowing seeds in Beijing

 

Advertisements

China trip – 4. Snowing seeds in Beijing

DSCF9433 1024.JPG

I think I have seen this from martial arts movies set in Hong Kong or Japan.

It seems at certain times of the year, this “snow” appears from the sky.    Its actually seed or blossom from trees.   It gives the parks in this area of the world a completely different look.  There is lots of it that blows everywhere in these parks.

DSCF9435 1024

DSCF9436 1024The parks here are often among the major attractions in Beijing such as the Forbidden City, Summer Palace and Tiananmen Square.

These wooden huts tend to be beautifully decorated, even looking upwards in the rafters.

3. A few million bicycles in Beijing

5. Chinese police

China trip – 3. A few million bicycles in Beijing

9 million bicycles in Beijing was a song by Katie Meula, I’ve not found out how many there are.   There are a lot.   The main roads have dedicated lanes for bikes of all kinds.  In the two weeks I was in China, I witnessed two accidents with bikes hit by cars, which thankfully neither were serious, and folks appearing to have just a few scratches and bruises.

The weird thing is the variation of bikes, mopeds and scooters kind of blur together, and also some are almost cars.   You know in Europe and US you have the tiny Smart car which can be driven in the UK with a motorcycle licence and before then the strange and eccentric Reliant 3 wheeled car?

DSCF9447 1024

So bikes and scooters can often by simple vans for deliveries or a simple crude taxi.

DSCF0149 1024.JPG

So, I have seen motorbikes with two or three wheels, some electric and some petrol (actually less given plans to drastically reduce pollution) some with handlebars or steering wheels and some like this have a plastic car-like body on them, some are even four door.

2. Beijing’s industrial aftertaste

4. Snowing seeds in Beijing

China trip – 2. Beijing’s industrial aftertaste

Walking around Beijing, the sights of this massive city is everything is huge.   Very quickly I realised one China’s most biggest challenges in society.   In the middle east, I am used to political instability and the threat of war of neighbours.

DSCF9431 1024

In Beijing, the number one concern is pollution.

DSCF9430 1024

The government has taken the drastic step of forcing old and polluting cars off the road.

The thing that surprised me was Beijing doesn’t immediately seem to have many poor people.   I am sure they are, they seem to live in other districts of the city.   Ancient cars like the ones I saw in Morocco and Turkey simply don’t exist.  People on low incomes simply don’t have cars, they have bikes and scooters, which I’ll explain later come in lots of unconventional styles.  I think much of China’s manufacturing is in another city, as I didn’t see any obvious factories belching out smoke.

Pollution in Beijing means local people have an app on the phone that tells you the toxicity of the air and in some cases, people might not go out at all, and many people are wearing face masks.

My observations with pollution were the skyline in the distance was a murky brown colour, and on my first night sleeping meant I have a funny taste in my mouth.

1. Introduction

3. A few million bicycles in Beijing

 

China trip – 1. Introduction

In the last year or so I had a real interest in China, a nation both ancient and modern on a large chunk of Asia with over a billion people.   I have heard stories about how China has the largest number of people coming to Christ, good relations with Israel, although a nation with restrictions and still officially Communist.   Today, although China is manufacturing capital of the world by a long stretch, everyone wants to do business with the Chinese as the economy is booming and folks there want to buy British and European made products.

I got offered to go on a 9 day mission trip in April 2017 to teach the Bible to current believers there in Beijing, and after a while trying to get my work to get me the time off which took me weeks, I had 16 days to use.    Later on, I found that the trip was full.   I was disappointed but as I already got a flight with Alitalia to fly Gatwick to Beijing via Rome for a real good deal of £395, I decided to make my own plans.

Getting a visa is tricky.  I left it a bit late and most sources online were recommending me get one from a Chinese travel shop in China town area of London.   This was frustrating as I had to get two lots of photos from a nearby post office, as the first ones were the wrong size.   The visa is £180.

This isn’t China, but I do like this part of London.  There are 2 maybe 3 churches of Chinese believers round here.   It would be really interesting to see what its like for Christian to live or work in this district.   I’m also keen to see how Chinese people respond to the life of Jesus.    My trip is purely a holiday and to see and document this fascinating place.

2. Beijing’s industrial aftertaste

My experience with taxi drivers in Israel

One of the reasons for this blog was to document things I’ve seen and experienced when I lived in the Holy Land, some of these are things inspired by Jesus’s life and ministry, places and experiences I have had and some things that are just funny or a bit oddball.

In this case, taxi drivers in Israel are often a topic if I meet up with friends who have been out there, often folks driving locals or tourists have some interesting background.  Many taxi drivers try to take advantage of foreigners telling them ‘the meter is broken, I’ll give you a special price’ (both Jewish and Arab drivers have attempted this on me and folks I know)

The Russian techno driver

Often taxi drivers have music or radio with news on of all different types.   In this case, this driver has music with a 1980s techno beat with lyrics in Russian.   It would put off most kinds of passengers but it was so weird it was entertaining for the 15 minute journey.

The grubby driver

This was a ride from one office I was at in Jerusalem to another.   The car was filthy.  There was a layer of grime along the dashboard.   Jerusalem gets covered in dust as this is the nature of this part of the world, but this car had not been cleaned in years and it seemed like some other residue, maybe carrying cargo with badly refilled printer toner cartridges or charcoal or something.

The frenetic driver

I needed to meet a friend outside of Hotel GilGal which is a hotel run by Israeli Messianic evangelist Jacob Damkani in Tel Aviv, I ordered a cab and got a driver who picked me up and went a bit crazy.  Initially, he drove too close behind to a cyclist who mumbled some words of displeasure in Hebrew which then the driver leaned on the horn and exchange more phrases.   He then overtook about 3 cars at once (which often happens) and made a phone call (everyone seems to use phones whilst driving)  and when dropping me off, exclaiming “Baruch HaShem!”  (praise be the name of Lord)

The don’t care smoker

This car has no smoking stickers on it like most.   However, the driver seems to think if your cigarette in your left hand is outside the window it doesn’t count.   Even though the smoke drifts back into the car to the punter in the front seat.  Hmm.

The lots-of-dashboard-symbols taxi

Ok, I drive a Peugeot, a car that has rather over-complex electrical design.  My car always has an error on the dash which the dealer couldn’t fix and so I have ignored for the last 3 years I have had it.  My VW owning friends laugh and show their contempt of French automobiles, until the VW dieselgate scandal happened.  Oh dear.

But anyway this Mercedes I was travelling in had at least 4 messages on the dashboard come up.   “Main dealer service due”, “SRS warning”, “left licence plate bulb failed”  and “furry dice need new elastic”  ok – maybe I made the last one up.

I need doughnuts taxi

There is a lot of cake and pastry shops in Israel.    My driver wanted to stop and get a danish pastry or some kind and coffee.   I was happy to wait. 🙂

The poor condition taxi

The taxis are not normally old, and usually, a Skoda or Mercedes sedan and are no more than 6 years old.    Some are in better shape than others and some have a lot of dents and accident damage.   In one case, the rubber centre part of the steering wheel that holds the airbag had a hole in it.   Drivers of all types do use the horn a lot here, this guy seemed to have worn his out.

The complainer driver

This driver is more like a conventional London cabbie.   Here in the UK, drivers have a lonely job so feel a need to discuss current affairs with the passenger, in Israel it’s sometimes similar.  In this case, my driver was telling me he was fed up of the ultra-Orthodox doing more protests in the street as they often tend to not work or join the army and claim benefits when many people who working long hours to pay bills.

The blatant tax avoider taxi

I once needed to get to a computer conference from Tel Aviv bus station to the Hilton Hotel.  Getting in one car, I asked the driver to put the meter on.   He offered me a ‘special price’ of 85 Shekels and told me he didn’t want to put the meter on as he has to pay the government 35% of the fare.  After a brief argument, I told him he should look at a different sort of job and I’ll ride with someone else.   My other driver who was honest had the meter on and charged me about 37.

The local believer (my favourite)

After chatting for 5 minutes, this driver is a local Israeli Messianic believer, originally from Russia.  He asks me why I am here and I tell him I am a computer technician maintaining systems to provide food and supplies to the poor and needy, he tells me his particular Messianic congregation has had some people helped who were struggling with meeting bills by overseas Christian groups, so food supplies have been a real blessing to them.

 

The Balfour Declaration, Britain’s help in creating modern Israel

This week I’m meeting up with some close friends I used to work with in Israel.   There is an event at the Royal Albert Hall in London for the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, an event to celebrate Britain playing a part in creating the modern Jewish state.

Not that far away from the Israeli embassy too.

I saw something interesting around London a few weeks ago.   In London’s financial district there is always construction going on.

IMG_20171013_162732718

The building here is constructed in a specific way, the centre core of the block which I guess contains the stairs and lift shafts is done first, kind of like the spine of the building, then next the floors which is kind of like ribs and maybe limbs, last is the outer structural parts which the walls and glass windows fix onto.

Near my church there are lots of these type buildings made to the same method, one of them stayed as half a spine and got no further.   Perhaps a victim of the 2008 recession which stayed abandoned as a concrete stump for a long time before being bought by another company then demolished and a different building going up its place.

The bible talks about something similar.

Ezekiel 37 : 1 The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”
4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.
11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”

The modern state of Israel was birthed in 1948, and this scripture points at a promise towards its realisation as a homeland again for the Jewish people and flourishing as a democratic nation.

Today most of Israel doesn’t know their messiah Yeshua (more commonly known by you and me as Jesus)   The finishing part is yet to come.

The Balfour 100 event is here http://www.balfour100.org/rah/

 

Why as a Christian who supports Israel I go to an ordinary church and not a Messianic congregation

I have been involved with ministry to Jewish people and Israel for some years and know many people who do similar work.

Every so often I see some Christians that take an interest in Israel and Jewish foundations of Christianity and suddenly think we should not be doing worship on a Sunday but switch to Friday or Saturday, they might try and look for a Messianic congregation (which in the UK are a rarity) then often get tired of this, they then retreat into a solitude and stop fellowshipping with a wider body of believers in Christ.

So, I go to a well-known church in London, which actually has no interest in Israel or ministry to Jewish people.   This is a shame as I wish there was more interest, but here’s why.

  1. I am a non-Jew.   I feel like I need to not pretend to be something I am not.    If I meet up with my Chinese friends as I am keen to ask them about the huge explosion of the gospel in the China and the number of Chinese believers in London, it wouldn’t be right for me to try and dress up as a Chinese clothing.
  2. Relationships and less religious complexity.   There are a lot of arguments in the Messianic world, both on the internet and through personal contact.   Issues with legalism and whether to be under old and new covenant or somewhere in between.   But, I love the Messianic congregations in Israel and I actually see these as the measuring stick of quality of teaching and relationships.  At the same time, I’ve seen things too many stupid things (whining about Christmas and Easter, questioning the Trinity, sacred name theology etc) that trip people up and cause divisions which I am sick and tired of, mostly from people believing something they read on the internet.   These are patterns of problems that can happen in any church denomination.
  3. Discipleship.   I see this for myself in a bi-direction thing.   a) I meet up with believers who I mentor and pray and encourage who are in the early walk with their lives in the Lord.   I’ve also helped a Jewish man who is unemployed and uncertain what is employment path and he knows me well enough that the conversation can lean towards a kind, gentle but clear message of the gospel and me to give him prayer over his searching for work.   b) for myself, I’ve managed to meet Christian friends more established and knowledgeable about things like gifts of the spirit and other areas in moving forward in Christ which I am seeking to develop for myself.   Those of you who know me, know that I am a single man, so the dynamics of growth in the Lord for me I think are different than they are for a married couple.  c) I also try to be accountable to friends and peers of similar background and age to myself.   If I went to a very small congregation I’d miss out on this, and I feel a sense of urgency for those non-churched or curious about knowing Christ to help them.
  4. I like a church with a wide variety of different people.  My parents’ church is largely pro-Israel but also has Arab and Japanese believers.
  5. Messianic congregations are something of a rarity in some parts of the world like the UK.    The number of believers in Israel is only 25,000 out of 8m people, so congregations there are small in number.    In the US the Messianic movement is much bigger and more established I think.  Granted there are churches of countless different denominations but more excitingly different language and cultural audiences.    Once church near me offers free English languages for those from an Indian background, one church for Arabic speaking people (former Muslims and traditional Christian Arabs) French, Chinese and even Turkish!
  6. I see myself as under the New Covenant.    Jesus’s life and sacrifice is enough for me without having to add on obligations which are not required.

If you go to a Messianic congregation in UK, US or Canada, then if the teaching, worship and fellowship is right for you, great!   What does trouble me, as some folks wanting to discard their current conventional church seeking something new and end up confused and miss a simple message of Christ and his sacrifice with a minimum of complexity.

 

Are there predictions of Jesus’s life in the name lineage of his ancestors? 4. Timeline of the first men

Ok, going back to Genesis 5, I decided it would be interesting to make some graphs of the ages of these men who reached a huge age.

This was hard to do, as I tried to make timeline graphs with OpenOffice Calc and it didn’t come out well in numerous attempts.   Instead, I have made a spreadsheet with one cell representing ten years.   The coloured bars change when the first son is born.

People today are lucky if 4 generations of a family are alive at the same time.   These figures in visual format show at one point nine of these ten men were alive simultaneously!   This would make family parties really interesting.

Noah was 600 when the flood came, which previous fathers had already passed away.  We don’t know when Noah passed away, or how old his sons are, so I made some approx guesses using black dots.

Later, God limited the lifespan of man considerably in Genesis 6.  I’ve added another bar in comparison,

1. Are there predictions of Jesus’s life in the name lineage of his ancestors? – 2. Noah’s era (Genesis 5) – 3. Up to Christ (Luke 3) – 4. Timeline of the first men

Are there predictions of Jesus’s life in the name lineage of his ancestors? – 3. Upto Christ

ok so I took the list and first 10 flipped it and took the first bit to match Genesis 5.

Luke 3 has 76 people;

23 Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli, 24the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melki, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, 25the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, 26the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josek, the son of Joda, 27the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, 28the son of Melki, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er, 29the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, 30the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim, 31the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David, 32the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon,d the son of Nahshon, 33the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, 34the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, 35the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, 36the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, 37the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Kenan, 38the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam,

I would say Genesis 5 quite possibly yes;

There are some holes here.   Once I’ve copied the data from the spreadsheet on my PC into Google Docs format, I can’t edit the Hebrew easily as this seems to be a bug in Google’s handling of non-Latin text.    I’ve just added grey to parts unknown.

Or, here is the document I have hosted by Google.

Some of the fathers have a name duplicated, and some of them are too obscure for historians to know much about.

So Luke 3 doesn’t spell out anything easily understandable if you read it in upwards or downwards.   So I would think this doesn’t show a gospel message that’s obvious, but you can read the results and see for yourself.   Genesis 5 seems quite plausible though.

1. Are there predictions of Jesus’s life in the name lineage of his ancestors? – 2. Noah’s era (Genesis 5) 3. Up to Christ (Luke 3)