The Jews of Vienna Austria

Vienna seems quite multicultural but has preserved its Christian and Jewish history.

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IMG_20170620_171512551Theodor Herzl was the father of modern Zionism.   This word can trigger all kinds of strong emotions among those hostile to Israel and Jewish people.   If you steer clear of rhetoric, Zionism is a framework for Jewish people to stay connected to their heritage when many become secular or intermarry.

Strangely enough Vienna is also the birth place of Adolf Hitler, and Jospeh Stalin lived there as well.

Right, Juden Gaffe is the name of the street from Vienna’s Jewish community.

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I saw this Synagogue (which had armed police opposite)   There are many wonderful churches with spectacular architecture as well.   I only had two evenings free to explore Vienna and there was so much more I wanted to see.

My background in living and working in Israel as a Christian made me want to see some of the Jewish history of old European cities.

1. Around city centre of Vienna Austria2. The Jews of Vienna Austria

 

Around city centre of Vienna Austria

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What do you think we you hear about Vienna, Austria’s capital?  Classical music? a historical place that looks similar to Germany and borrows their language?

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IMG_20170620_170013506Vienna is quite a lot what I expected to be; Old, grand, magnificent, a place to see a live performance of music by the experts, Beethoven, Mozart and Strauss.

Second hand shop with LPs of classical music.

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Something slightly odd, Austria is land locked and has no coast.  That doesn’t stop Wieners (Vienna people) from sun bathing on this erzats beach on a concrete island in a river, which means they can get tanned like a sausage!

This river is much more famous, the Danube!

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This sign reminds you of gateways to other European capital cities, Budapest Hungary and Bratislava Slovakia.

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1. Around city centre of Vienna Austria2. The Jews of Vienna Austria

 

Around Stockholm’s city centre

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Stockholm, Sweden’s capital city is a great place.   Like Bergen in Norway and Helsinki Finland which I have visited before, I think all Scandinavian cities are on a archipelago, an urban mesh of highways and buildings seated on top of a collection of islands and rivers separating land.  The Swedish government’s buildings straddle these rivers.

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Christianity has been a great foundational part of Scandinavian life, even if the country is mostly secular these days.   The Johannes Klockstapel is an old church from 1692.

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Security scare in Stockholm Sweden

After working in Portugal, my IT job for a big telecoms company asked me to help set up computers during an office move.   So I had a brief evening to see Stockholm

Sweden is an ultra liberal country, maybe to trusting to outsiders and as a result some cities like Malmo have area with a Muslim majority population and problems with extremism.    Stockholm is quite multicultural, but no where near as much as cities in the UK like London or Birmingham.

This was in June 2017.  Just arriving in the centre of the city to get my hotel and saw this;

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This was a few days after the terrorist attack in London Bridge.  So to my utter dismay I wondered what would cause the road to be taped off and so many emergency vehicles to be there.    I went into my hotel which was a block away and texted some of my family telling them they might see something alarming on the news but I am in my room all ok.

I asked the staff and other guests (more British people) and googled search for the next day or so, and I heard nothing what this incident might of been.

 

My experience today with detecting cults / false churches

Today, I went to the Emirates Stadium, the soccer ground owned by Arsenal football club which was hosting Just One a praise and worship event, with many young people there.   There was some great teaching by J John with worship music by Matt Redman and Hillsongs UK.

When I left the stadium I got a booklet thrusted at me which looked like this:-

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I went back to the two people who gave it to me who were two young Americans.    As it was from a group which had a Hebrew Roots-ish kind of theme and wanted to know a bit about their background.   I explained to them I have had a wide experience in doing ministry with Jewish people and living in the land of Israel.   They didn’t want to say much apart from the wanted to do church in a authentic way Jesus would of done.

My background in fellowshipping with Jewish and gentile believers in Yeshua/Jesus has taught be a lot of things in the last few years.   I’ve met some wonderful people, I’ve sometime had hostility from many traditional Christians who don’t understand biblical plans for Israel and Jewish people.   But I have also seen the extreme, as I’ve also seen people leave the faith and convert to Judaism, Noahide movement or become secular. For this reason, I understand why some pastors are nervous of Messianic and Hebrew Roots stuff getting involved with their churches.

This is from my sense of discernment and also from a few tangible things I’ve spotted in this booklet which give me cause for concern.

  1. Painting all the church as lost.   Its true there are a lot of churches have fallen away and have compromised teaching.   There are of course still plenty of great churches.   if you are looking at switching there many great churches large and small, often they might not meet in traditional church buildings but rent premises off a school or community centre, the might meet in your community but you may have walked right past not know they were there.
  2. Sacred name theology.   In this case, and I’ve seen this many times before.  They explain that you shouldn’t use the name Jesus as its Greek and you should refer to him as “Yahshua”  This is sort of true.   Jesus’ name isn’t “Yahshua” thats a kind of bogus quasi-Hebrew someone dreamed up on the internet.   Jesus’ actual name is Yeshua (written as יֵשׁוּעַ and read backwards as ah-oo-sh-y) Its perfectly ok to address our Lord and saviour as either.   My Israeli Messianic friends refer to him as Jesus or Yeshua.   Only false teachers will tell you can only speak to the son of God in Hebrew only.
  3. Totally ignoring Jesus’ death and resurrection.   This was not mentioned once in this booklet.   Christians can disagree about many different subjects, but this is a crucially important component of our faith which is key to our salvation.
  4. Live in isolation from the body of believers.   One of my Israeli believer friends who is originally from the US told me something; on nature programs on TV you will see a heard of deer and a tiger that wants a meal.   The tiger will go for the animal which has got separated from his flock as its easier.   The body of Christ is like this, if we stick with our fellow brothers and sisters in Jesus we will stay safer from strange and false teachings, than if we isolate ourselves.   Its also harder to break away from potentially abusive behaviour if you are in a small closed in religious community.
  5. Have a statement of faith.   This group doesn’t.   All churches and ministries all of this on this web site.
  6. Having “Another gospel”   Usually among false religious a ‘gospel of works’ a list of stuff you have to achieve with tick boxes needs to be checked to get you into heaven.  Paul talks about false teachers who create another way to be saved without Jesus’s death and resurrection being an atonement for sin.     Galatians 1 : 6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.
  7. Trying to pretend to be Jewish when you aren’t.   Real Jewish people I know find this creepy and insulting.   This religious group bases their names as being Jewish, and many of the cults and false teachers I’ve come across usually think they are long lost Jews from American Indians or something wack.   Sounds daft but I’ve seen people convinced by it.
  8. Twisting scripture to make it fit your false message.   ’nuff said.

Of course, later I’ver googled searched this group “twelvetribes.com” and found they are actually a bonafide cult which other people have done more research than me.    They do have a operation in Devon UK, but originate from the US and have spread to Canada and Europe.   They have these “Yellow Deli” cafes do great food, but provide a means to rope new converts in.   Maybe some of this stuff is obvious but this blog article exists for anyone who might get caught in it.

Just to clarify this religious group have nothing to do with the Just one, J John, Hillsong church or any ministry attending there.   This was another religious group outside targeting young people by confusing them with another gospel.

I’ve had a lot of experience in talking about Israel, Jewish people the Messianic movement to Christians, and whats genuine and what’s not.  Feel free to privately message me if I can be of any help.

Portsmouth from a different angle…

I was flying back from Lisbon, Portugal to Gatwick after working for a brief (3) days.

I’m going home with Easyjet, the brand of the airline doesn’t really matter in this case as when I am flying I get the best experience with a seat next to a plane and have decent weather and visibility and be able to spot things from high up.  On the way over, I was with TAP (Portugese national airline) and got a luke warm cup of tea and a very small sandwich included, where as Easyjet make you pay high prices for food.

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So we are going north from continental Europe and I see this island.   I think this is Jersey.    Oh gosh I really need to watch repeats of 1980s TV detective series Bergerac now, although since reading up in Wikipedia, a lot of it was filmed in mainland UK as budgets were a bit tight.

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Now I see my home city of Portsmouth!!  This city has a distinctive shape as its effectively an island with three roads connecting it to the mainland.    Here if you look carefully you can see where Eastney (yes, the East corner bit)  meets with Hayling Island, a neighbouring protruding section of Hampshire south coast.   I think I need to move back there at some point soon.

 

 

Working and travelling in Lisbon, Portugal

I got a chance to spend 3 days in Lisbon.   I was working there installing 30 new computers for a big company.   This was my first time working abroad to carry out a project in a tight deadline, I did get one evening to see places.

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The tower of Belem is an interesting fort structure in the sea.

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This is a weird place.   Its a stadium for bull fighting.   This cruel and outdated sport is probably not popular here, but I didn’t realise the Portugese did it, I thought it was just  a Spanish thing.   It looks like an Islamic building, which it is and it isn’t.   Its design was influenced by Muslim architecture.

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DSCF0216I chatted to some staff there at my work place and to some taxi drivers.    They are eager to ask what I think of Brexit.    I would say to many non-Brits this is a little bit of a taboo subject as its got so many f my people upset and uncertain about the future.

I really like Portugal, but salaries are very low, and young professionals are leaving.  A taxi driver told me he works 6 days a week and long hours for 1000 Euros a month.    Looking at this, I was shocked to see that salaries are half of Spain.   Portugese are often mistaken for Spanish and this gets them annoyed.   I did managed to tell a waiter ‘Gracias’ instead of ‘Obrigardo’ when I finished my breakfast and he took my plate, a few seconds later I realised my error.

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Ask for a beer (ie: a non specific size) in Portugal and you will get a 200ml class.  I got a paella type (it was called something else) fish dish, which came with bread and this nice soft cheese.  Most popular local beer is called Super Bock.   Ask for a beer in Sweden and you get 400ml.   Ask for a beer in Austria and you will get 500ml.    That’s where I went next.   Portugese custards are really a must also!

My visit to the tragedy struck Grenfell high rise block

As its not far from my work I took the train to the recent Grenfell block disaster.

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My motivation is to see what was happening with the community there, and to see if Christians and churches were helping out.   I also wanted to walk around and discretely pray for this area.

I was nervous with trepidation as this was a few days after it just happened, the grief was still new and folks were putting up posters of lost family members fearing the worst, after all some people left in the night clothes and may not have a phone, wallet, money and details of how to get hold of loved ones.   Getting closer to the neighbourhood you can smell the remains of this charred 1970s concrete relic.

The police and fire are still around assessing if much of the building is safe to enter.

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This church on the right tirelessly serving the community.   Several different Muslim groups are out too, as well as a van from the Chabad Lubavitch (Orthodox Jewish) movement.

The piles of donations from kind citizens took up a whole street.

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From nearby tube station as I was going home.   This line is now shut as wind is pushing debris across the track.   From here this has the closest view, as much of the streets are shut off from the public.   Once the train moved I could see a kids play area strewn with burnt fabric from the building.

People are now very angry about this and want to blame someone.  It seems logical for many to blame our current government.   I wish people would stop stirring up trouble and allow our government and charity to do their job and getting these people rehomed and the failings of the building thoroughly investigated.   Its not right for this to be manipulated for political gain.

I’ve noticed there is a great deal of similar political battles to what’s going on in the UK in Europe.  This isn’t been from the news, I got to visit a few cities in Europe for work.   I’ll write on this later.

 

Google’s Hebrew predictive text predicts Jewish Messiah?

Just added Hebrew keyboard to my phone since my Moto G4 handset rolled out Android 7.0 a few days ago.

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If you type in the Hebrew word for Jesus whilst texting, the next words are computer-predicted.

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HaNotzri (Christian) | HaMoshiach (The Messiah) | Ho (He)

Which makes me think, how does Google’s predictive algorithm work?   Is this bit of software licenced from somewhere else? Or is it self-learning from conversations from Hebrew speaking Android phone users?

Its not picking it up from me, as I am not a regular and confident Hebrew speaker.

Compared to texting with English, the left hand pic is what’s predicted instead…..

Screenshot_20170326-231046  chabad wrong messiah

The right hand picture I’ve written Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson, a Ukrainian/New York Rabbi often mistaken as being the Messiah by Ultra Orthodox Jews in Israel and elsewhere.   Here there aren’t any words related to Messiah, King of Kings or anything else.

Curious?   I am.

 

Do you have gifts of discernment?

If you know me or you don’t, I’m a Christian who did some volunteer work in Jerusalem Israel, serving the Jewish people, seeing and experiencing holidays and place associated with the Bible.

I’ve experienced some very odd things that are hard to explain, that come from being in a political and spiritually volatile place.   I’m now living in London UK, and after seeing some big changes happening with work, church, friends, these I am needing to seek the Lord about some complex challenges for the future.

I’ve been reading recently about the gifts of the spirit.   I’ve just read this particular article which talks about Gift of Discernment which really encouraged me.

This is one of the best things I’ve read on the subject.

http://www.enlivenpublishing.com/blog/2010/08/08/8-signs-you-may-have-the-spiritual-gift-of-discernment/ 

I think its crucially important for Christians who seek to understand these, or already have spiritual gifts, not to misuse them or boast about them, and of course, Christians who don’t yet grasp these biblical concepts to discard it as a fad or a peculiarity also.

1 Thessalonians 5 : 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil. 23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.