Today’s Israel is example of one of the promises of God today

Two nights ago, the Lord gave me (7/2/2018) a dream of a picture of Israel, with a drone-like aerial view of this land.    I think the view was from a more rural part of the country as opposed to Jerusalem, the coast of the desert parts of the country.

Breaking; as I finished writing this today (10/2/2018)   Israel is under attack again, with a drone the came into the north of Israel from Iran.   This in turn meant several Iranian/Hezbollah targets have been hit by Israel in Syria, then an Israeli F16 jet was shot down but just before the pilot ejected who is alive but with some injuries.

For everything God tells us not to do, humans will find a way to try and justify it with some kind of clever words.   The war in the middle east is only half fought with conventional weapons, but the other half is manifested through the media and a distorted picture of what is actually going on.    Israel is constantly lambasted by the media, the Islamic world, the United Nations and the European Union.    But I see Israel as not a perfect country but a distinctly different place of democracy in a dark part of the world, I also the modern nation of Israel as an example of God’s faithfulness.

 

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Big moon makes appearance on Jewish holiday Tu Bishvat

This week is a minor holiday in the Jewish calendar, Tu Bishvat (New Year of Trees) and again there is talk on the internet about the Blood Red Moons and End Times.

jerusalem moon

Here is the moon in Jerusalem, I’ve taken this from a reliable source of someone I know out there at the moment.

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Here is the moon from the camera of my phone (1/2/2018) Thursday of this week, its the thing in the middle, it looked not red at the time, but very big and clear.

Note I’m an average Christian, saved by grace and not law, of non-Jewish descent, and not a Hebrew Roots guy but worked with Jewish people for a number of years and prefer to have a non-ambiguous approach to my faith.)    I like to use Jewish holidays to meet up with Jewish friends, but I don’t fully observe them and definitely don’t force them on Christian or secular friend.

In the past, the whole Blood Red Moons thing got a bit ridiculous amongst hysteria online but I think God could be trying to get our attention, by coinciding events in the Jewish holiday with the movement of planets in the sky. 

I see it as this, to get right with God, seek Christ alone, and pray for our nation and communities.

China trip – 16. Fast train in Beijing to Shanghai

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Railway station in Beijing.   This and Shanghai’s station is bigger than most airports!

Its just as formal and requires all the security prerequisites as well, scanning your luggage, showing passport and documents of where you are intending to go.   This is a departure louge which the gate takes you to the railway platform.

Nothing too intense but China pretty much expects you to have detailed list of where you going, this isn’t a place where you can make it up as you go.

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Finally to the platform!

I bought two tickets online to go each way from Beijing to Shanghai before I left the UK, this was US$85 each.

This journey takes 5 hours, there are only a handful of stops.  There was a screen on the wall of the train that were travelling at 306kph (190mph) most of the way.   What better way to go between two mega cities on the Chinese own showcase high speed rail system?    This doesn’t feel fast, as the train track is raised up and you just glide gloriously smoothly.  This isn’t even the fastest train, the Chinese have another railways elsewhere which uses Japanese technology at 400kph.

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I took my laptop and watched some films, this might of got me into trouble, I watched a video about Brother Yun with headphones.   Before I left I copied this off to Youtube to MP4 and saved to a hidden folder of my Chinese made Lenovo laptop.  Brother Yun is best known as the father of the modern Chinese church, having escaped from prison after being locked up for the crime of being Christian.

15. Beijing train museum

17.

 

China trip – 15. Beijing train museum

I like travelling by train.  I went the entire length of Switzerland by train after seeing my friend Matthew who I met in Israel who lives in Basel, and I travelled across Morocco to get from Tangier to Casablanca to Fez.   It’s fascinating when railways can be built over impossibly complicated terrain with tunnels and bridges.

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This was interesting but had very little English details of how China’s transportation has evolved over the years.

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Visiting in the driver’s seat of this train was roped off as it was at extra cost.

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The inner working of modern trains as well the vintage ones.

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Models of China’s lines.

In advance, I bought two tickets at US$85 each to get from Beijing to Shanghai, more on that next.

14. Beijing’s metro, close copy of London Underground

16. Fast train in Beijing to Shanghai

 

China trip – 14. Beijing’s metro, close copy of London Underground

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The Chinese are the master of counterfeiters.  But not always in a bad way.

My journey to go from where I live in Harrow in outer London (zone 5, Metropolitan line) to the middle of the city is something like £3.70 I think one way.   Going on the metro in China is something like 20-50p.

Beijing’s metro has been going since 1969 and has 345 stations.   London Underground has 270 but has been going since 1863.  Some of it quite clearly is influenced by London

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I think this was Beijing’s main central railway station.  The individual stations are named with their English transliteration, but each line has just a number as well as a colour.

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Stations can be very grand in their appearance with this large hanging pictures.

What’s a bit different, is the tougher security, X-ray machines which you are required to put your luggage through at every station, and they still have ticket offices, whereas the London Underground requires payment only by a machine meaning ticket offices are almost a thing of the past.    The Chinese tube has a loud bell ringing when the doors are about to shut.

13. Tiananmen Square

15. Beijing train museum

 

China trip 13. – Tianamen square

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Here is the famous Tiananmen Square, a place where some students made a demonstration against the government in 1989.

Today, this moment in history is a taboo subject in Beijing you can’t talk about.   On my last article on the government filtered internet, I didn’t check this item.

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Like many big famous places, all entries/exits to the site require going through security checks.

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Entrance to the metro station is blocked sometimes.

12. The land of no Google

14. Beijing’s metro, close copy of London Underground

China trip – 12. The land of no Google

Often, folks in the west are concerned about government surveillance of what the general public use their computers and smartphones to do since the big discovery from former US government IT consultant Edward Snowdon.

China’s internet is heavily filtered by the government with much in the way of social media and articles that point out lack of freedom of speech are often invisible to China’s citizens.

In recent times Apple is building a massive data centre to provide online cloud storage that meets the standard of the Chinese government.

I decided to do my own tests whilst I was in China using a) a Lenovo Thinkpad computer which has the bottom held together with tape I got free from my ex-employer, which I upgraded from Windows 8.1 to 10, it contains almost no data and has a poorly performing AMD processor, being a cheap computer I take with me on trips which would be not too much of a tragedy if stolen than a nicer laptop.   I also my Motorola Moto G Android phone which is actually owned by Lenovo which are a Chinese company.

I used a VPN program which is a piece of software to make your computer to appear to have an IP address of another location.   This is not just for countries hostile to freedom of speech.   These apps are used by business people to be able to connect to network drives on the file servers at their employer’s location.

For obvious reasons take great care if you want to blog about your own discoveries, ie: don’t write until you get back home again!

This list was correct in April 2017 when I did the trip, its likely results will change.

These sites work:-
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mao_Zedong (English Wikipedia is ok, but…..)
http://www.bing.com (redirects to http://cn.bing.com/)
https://www.yahoo.com/
https://slashdot.org/ (US based IT news site, reported before on China’s great firewall)
https://www.theregister.co.uk/ (UK based IT site, similar to above)
http://www.bbc.co.uk
http://www.aljazeera.com/
http://www.cisco.com/
http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/security/vpn-endpoint-security-clients/index.html (VPN!!)
http://www.hp.com/country/us/en/welcome.html
http://www.korea-dpr.com/ (North Korea government!)
https://www.whitehouse.gov/
https://www.checkpoint.com/
https://www.rt.com/ (Russia today)
https://www.waze.com/en-GB/ (popular Israel based GPS app for phone now owned by Google)
http://www.chinahumanrights.org/
https://www.aclu.org/issues/free-speech
https://jewsforjesus.org/
http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/
https://backtojerusalem.com/home/
http://alpha.org/

ping

blocked sites can’t even be tested with a PING command

These sites are banned
https://zh.wikipedia.org/ (…Chinese language Wikipedia)
http://www.Facebook.com
http://www.google.com
https://www.wikileaks.com/
https://hola.org/ (VPN)
https://www.hrw.org/zh-hans
https://twitter.com/
http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/
http://www.inspirationalchristians.org/biography/brother-yun/ (Brother Yun is a pioneer of the modern Chinese church)
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/
https://www.mossad.gov.il/ (Israel secret service – this redirects somewhere else??)
https://www.whatsapp.com/ (site doesn’t render properly)
https://www.opendoors.org/ (Christian charity on the persecuted church)
https://billygraham.org/
http://www.salvationarmy.org/

Watching what the public is doing with their computers and/or making content blocked in a country by governments is like an arms war, as technical IT people relish the challenge to find a way around things.

Can you imagine trying to boycott China-made IT kit?  I think it would be a case of nah-nah nah nah-nah,  we make everything!   Also, China’s Great Firewall infrastructure that stops citizens seeing certain things, has equipment made by Cisco who is a US company.  Oh well.

Tips:

  1. If you want to make sure you are connected before you leave your home country,  get all the apps you need first.
  2. If you have Gmail on your phone.   Set up an Outlook account and put it on your phone and get Google to auto-forward mail to the Outlook account and you won’t miss anything.
  3. Chinese Android phones have no Google Play store.   You won’t be able to grab any apps for your own phone while in China.   I would avoid buying phones out there, the whole point of the Apps Store is Google vet apps of any malicious stuff in advance before they are published.
  4. If VPN is really important (ie: you are needing to work while away, you will need to pay for one.)   The free ones are ok but are slow and take a while to startup.
  5. Don’t use your phone or PC to do anything to draw attention to yourself whilst you are in China.   Stay safe!!!

11. Bible and Christian books for sale in China’s high street

13. Tiananmen square

 

No Google, Jesus is not from Palestine!

I saw this on Google translate and face palmed.

jesus not from palestine

No Google, Jesus is not from Palestine!

Professional translators and university professors and teachers strong discourage the use of Google Translator and Wikipedia, this is another reason why.

jesus was from what

I don’t really like Internet Memes.   There’s too many of them, and often they are part of someone else’s in-joke.   I like visually assisted sarcasm though.

Jesus was an Israeli and a Jew.   Israel was renamed Syria Palestina much after his death, resurrection and ascension to heaven and after the destruction of the temple.   So around 120AD.   Palestine is a product of the Roman Emporer Hadrian.   Not from Arab people.   Palestine is the name of the land between 120AD and 1948 where the land was occupied by Romans, Turks, British and later on Arabs.

Just like Paul wasn’t Turkish.   But he was from the city of Tarsus which in the nation of Turkey today.

Please challenge pastors and theological people who slip in the Jesus was from “Palestine” this is completely and utterly wrong!!   Even some bibles write maps in the back pages with Palestine from the time of Jesus.   Argh……

 

 

China trip – 11. Bible and Christian books for sale in China’s high street

All Christian news and mission-centric websites that talk about China tell me one of two things:

  1. China has the largest number of people coming to Christ anywhere
  2. Chinese Christians are often persecuted.   Evangelism is challenging and possibly illegal, but it doesn’t stop

Here are words of Jesus on persecution of his believers:-

Mark 13 9 “You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me, you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

Wow, this is so true today when I hear people finding Christ in Africa, the Islamic world as well as China and places where would be unlikely a few decades ago.

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So I saw some very large bookshops in Beijing and Shanghai.  One of them was in a big mall like this.

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So from what I have read, the Chinese government now encourage *some* aspects of Christianity.  But on their terms.  Or respect Christianity at least for its historical value.  Most of the religious books in these shops are about Buddhism.

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Lastly, these bibles were on sale in a church in Shanghai.   The church is a brand new purpose built place.  This has no English speaking people and does not appear dependant on a western ministry for teaching or funding.  More later.

10. Islam in Beijing and elsewhere

12. China is the land of no Google.

 

China trip – 10. Islam in Beijing and elsewhere

China is officially an atheist country but Buddhism is the main religion.

There are Muslims in China, some not many.    Mostly I think in the more rural parts of the western side of the country.

I think a strict government and police force means terrorism doesn’t seem to happen, or public demonstrations or forcing of Sharia law which many people often worry is being introduced into Europe.

The Chinese Muslims I think are mostly Uyghur people who are slightly different ethnically from other Chinese.   For instance, the men wear small rounded hats like African Islamic people, their skin is darker so maybe they are ethnically similar to Indonesian/Malaysian people which are Islamic nations.

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In Beijing a Mosque type building on top of shops and offices seems unusual.

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This outdoor cafe had a number of private little huts to sit in.   I spotted the Shahada Arabic script hanging on the wall.   Regular Chinese people outside would be drinking beer and eating food like pork.  So maybe this room is intended for Muslim clients.

China isn’t really a ‘tolerant’ country but some try their best to welcome different folk.

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This banknote, when viewed up close, has two other languages on it in addition to English and Chinese.  One of these is Uyghuric, which looks like Arabic script.

Shanghai had Chinese Muslims selling small bread rolls with some kind of herbs in out of a small oven on a trolley by the side of the road.   There was also Chinese Muslim restaurants with Halal Arabic script on the window with much of the decoration in green, a colour commonly associated with Islam.

For Christians like travelling and watching what’s happening with the boom of the gospel of Jesus in China, there are many other strongholds and challenges.   More on this soon.

9. China’s super rich

11. Christian books spotted in Beijing high street