Christmas and Islam

I’m in the process of getting some Carol lyrics from this site: – they’ve got a great selection.

But I keep getting a link asking me if I’m interested in Islam and want to become a Muslim. It’s just possible that I may have wanted to become a Muslim. But surely after looking at a few Christmas Carols, such notions would be instantly dismissed! Why on earth would I want to worship a god who wouldn’t come down to earth to save me when I can worship Jesus?

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Prosperity gospel

We had a good chat with some of the small groups leaders last Friday.  It was exciting to hear their enthusiasm for reaching Chinese students with the gospel. 

However, one person quoted Romans 8:19 and how we are “manifest sons of God” (KJV) which pricked my ears because someone (from the same country) had handed out some stuff called the “Manifest Sons of God” in a meeting some months ago which was a variant on the prosperity gospel.

I remains unclear whether this guy deeply believes in the prosperity gospel, or has simply been poorly taught, and under good teaching will change his thinking. 

Anyway, here are a couple observations from this incident:


– There is so much potential for International Students here in Beijing to do a lot of good.  It just needs someone to help teach the truth to prepare God’s people for works of service.  (I think Paul mentioned this somewhere…)

– I need to think more about why the Gospel is BETTER than the prosperity gospel.  It would be easy to simply look through a list of verses in the Bible that point out the error of the prosperity gospel.  And it might convince people.  But all I would be saying is that the real gospel isn’t quite as good as what you once thought it was.  That would leave people knowing right things about the gospel, but feeling God isn’t as good as they thought he was: which is surely not true!  They’d be replacing one lie for another.


How the real gospel is better than the prosperity gospel is something I need to think more about.  The answer has to lie in the cross.  Christ invites us into his mission following his pattern for doing mission.  Somehow God invites me to share in the glory of the Son – which is a much greater glory than the glory which earthly trinkets can provide.  

Will be doing some more thinking about this – meanwhile do pray for the small group leaders at our church, that they would keep their eyes on Christ and be willing to walk in his footsteps  

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Changes to China’s one child policy

China’s change to its one child policy has rightly hit world news.  Previously a couple who were both single children could have two babies, now if only one of the parents is a single child they can have two children.  It might not sound much but it probably means that most couples can now have two children – a change that affects at least one cousin and a sister-in-law here.

But will it change much?  The cost of raising a child here are very high and everyone wants the very best for their child: “better to have the very best for one than quite good for two.”  It seems likely that in the immediate term China will still experience sub-replacement level birth rates leading to an ageing population and economic stagnation (which in turn will increase pressure on society as a whole as discontentedness grows).

However, it will be interesting to see what happens in 9 months time….   This article suggests that 1-2 million extra births could occur in the next couple years per year (on top of an average of 16 million births).  My hunch would be that there could be more: the media has been talking freely about the change in the law and that is likely to get people thinking about a second child in a way they had never done so before, and anyone thinking about a second child will have little reason to wait (it’s the year of the horse next year [a good one] followed by the year of the lamb [a bad year]).  A surge in births in any given year will put huge strains on the hospitals (as the year of the dragon did this time last year) and, in turn, on the education system.  So in 2018 and 2020 there could be a huge influx of people into primary schools with parents finding it very difficult to find decent places for their child.  Hopefully by that time enough Christians will be clear on their responsibility to raise their own children in a godly way, and churches will be keen to support parents to do that.  Who knows, a system unable to cope with an influx of children may be just the thing needed to get Christian education going strongly in China. 

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The 1 – 2 – 3 guide to church planting

Church planting strategy is easy if you do things the Chinese way. All you need is:
1 location (and time)
2 workers
3 members
and you’re away.

(And 2 workers doesn’t mean 2 full time people who have spent 3+ years at seminary, it means 2 people who fulfil the qualifications Paul sets out for the church in the pastoral epistles.)

Must say, China is a humbling place to live and work.

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Driving test

Just back after failing to pass my driving theory test (I got 75 and 87 in the two tests, I need 90/100 to pass) so I’ll be back there in two weeks time.

Here’s are some questions to try out: but it looks like I’ll need to do a bit more study.

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Some useful Hebrew resources

I was looking for some youtube clips of the Hebrew aleph bet today, here are the best two I found:

Also, as I’ve been going through Jonah I’ve found this (or rather Will Rubie found it for me) really helpful:

Going through the Hebrew text it’s made me more puzzled by one of the weirder parts of Jonah. The being-swalled-by-a-fish thing isn’t too strange, but what is really strange is the mention of many animals in Ninevah in the last verse of Jonah. It’s weirder in Hebrew because this forms the last (and linguistically unecessary) words of the book, i.e. the last phrase that sticks in your mind as you finish reading through the book. Why?

Which got me thinking about the other animals in Jonah: the bg fish, the worm and Jonah’s name (Dove). Anything significant with the animal theme?

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Thoughts from a morning teaching Hebrew

… and some of these thoughts are quite random…

5.30am is an early time to leave the house. The guys who were already cooking for and the customers who were eating must have been up much earlier.

There is a real need for the original languages. The pastor and head in the school gave a thought this morning from the beatitudes. He pointed out that the English and the Chinese translation wasn’t the same, and therefore the Chinese translation was poor and then proceeded to exegete from his translation of the English translation. His thoughts were good and helpful and he may have been right about the Chinese translation, but whilst the church in China uses the English translation as the bedrock of what they’ll do, it will never be a truly indigenous church.

Children learn quickly.

Some children learn really quickly.

Musical chairs crosses cultures successfully and can be very good to teach commands like stand, sit and walk.

These children will never struggle with the 2nd person plural masculine imperative form.

Having a Chinese classroom assistant who is also studying Chinese helps a lot. (Imagine if I could speak Chinese properly – teaching Hebrew would be so easy!)

Being a classroom assistant to 5 different classes really helps you to learn Hebrew quickly.

Teaching teachers is fun.

Meaningful insights into the Hebrew text can be gained after just an hour’s worth of study (and a careful selection of passages/guided questions from a teacher).

At some point soon these children will need someone with better Hebrew than I have. Maybe time to work on the Greek again?

Teaching inquisitive children makes vocab lists interesting. We had:

As new words to learn.

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