How Did Jesus Actually Impart His Authority To His Disciples?

Matthew 10:1 Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

I spent 20 minutes yesterday mulling over this sentence asking Jesus:

How did you do that?

What did it look like?

What actually is your authority as it sounds a bit nebulous?

How did the disciples know they had received this authority?

Did you anoint them with oil like they did in times of old?

Did you lay hands on them like we do today?

Lots of questions. Today I got some answers.

While mentioning this verse to a friend this morning it dawned on me that Jesus simply spoke his authority into being. Speaking a universe into being is the ultimate test of authority. If this is how Jesus made the universe then why couldn’t he simply speak his creative authority into his disciples as well? He spoke this special word of power knowing that his authority was instantly transferred into the hearts of the 12 men listening to him that day.

What an amazing transfer! From that day they would be able to do what, until then, was thought to be the province of the divine. The Greeks, steeped as they were in animistic beliefs, would later think these preachers of the Good News were gods in human form after seeing this authority demonstrated through healings (Acts 5:12, 14:11). The Jews would be shocked at the courage, authority and boldness of these unschooled ordinary men (Acts 4:13).

But on that day, all of this was still ahead. How did the 12 know when the authority was transferred, I mean actually KNOW they had received this super-dose of divine authority? I believe the answer is very familiar to followers of Jesus today. They had to trust by faith that it had been done, then go and act on it. Scripture says that Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). They had to trust Jesus.

So, when they heard Jesus giving them his authority, they would have been excited. But when they heard their marching orders a few minutes later to go through Galilee healing the sick, raising the dead and casting out demons (Matthew 10:8) they could have been quite fearful. We don’t know for sure, but I would have been fearful!

The only way the disciples could know for sure that the spoken authority of Jesus was real or not would be to test it. They had to go find a cripple, a leper, a demon possessed person or a dead person and speak to them with authority. Then wait to see if anything would happen.

Tick, tick, tick, boom!

Once the first miracle happened there would have been no stopping them, but that first miracle would have been like scaling the Mount Everest in their hearts and minds.

This scaling of the Mount Everest of fear happened to me once. I taught in a large Christian high school in Australia and in 2008 the Holy Spirit told me to take a chapel service and pray for the sick. Skeptical teenagers are the hardest audience on the planet, and I was in front of 350 of them. Seven times I tried to get out of it and seven times the Holy Spirit gave me encouragement. My biggest fear was if nothing happened then I’d be toast for years in their eyes, the laughingstock of the entire school. Then, halfway through the chapel the Holy Spirit told me they were ready, faith had risen. Nine teenagers were healed that day and the school talked of nothing else at morning tea and lunch. I know because my Year 10 son was in some of those discussions and heated debates.

Jesus’ authority transfer was real. But if the disciples had never acted on their authority that day, we would not have Christianity. You too have that divine authority to do the supernatural so step out of your boat and act on it. Lives will change because you acted in faith.

Trust him.

 

An Amazing Story of Multiplication

How many Western churches do you know that are proclaiming the Kingdom, seeing multiple miracles and healings and training an army of workers to reach the abundant harvest that is waiting to be set free? I live in Queensland, Australia, and even in the most evangelical of the abundance of churches here there is very little of the last two happening across the board. The churches here are stuck in attractional Christianity: Put on a great show and they will come. But they aren’t coming any more.

However, several years ago I visited one church in Brisbane that was radically different and was seeing an abundant harvest of souls both locally and internationally. It’s called the Tivoli Miracle Centre run by Joel Shaw. They are very busy training every church member with a micro gospel sharing skills system called Four Fields and they are seeing many come to faith in their very multicultural community.

As far as I know they are the only church in this part of the world with such an emphasis on upskilling their people in how to share the good news day by day, every day. New believers were immediately trained to then pass on their new faith to others and to form small groups where deep discipling can take place.

I saw numerous relational maps on the wall showing ever-expanding networks of new believers in the community being pastored by church members in small groups. They were hidden in the community and church for them was in a house, but they were vibrant and ever growing. The person who saw them come to faith was their pastor and mentor until they were pastoring and mentoring others.

I heard stories of little lady “nobody” believers that had come to Australia to study and then heading back to their homelands of Ecuador and Mongolia and starting rapidly growing movements of dozens and hundreds by using the same skills they had learned in Brisbane.

Recently Joel had to change his training systems because of Covid. Instead of training people in-house he now trains on zoom. The numbers have now exploded to over 500 students in 71 training groups in three time zones and four languages around the world in countries such as Myanmar, some closed Muslim countries, South Africa, Japan, Zambia, the Philippines, the USA, Germany, Spain and India! Click on this link to hear him describe some of this amazing story (but go to the fourth minute before starting). He describes people getting saved in large numbers in those countries every week and being discipled in small groups, leaders being trained to take the Gospel to their local community and forming small relational church groups. Multiplication has begun.

Lord, PLEASE raise up hundreds of churches like this one!

The Logic and Flow of Matthew Chapters Five to Ten

There are three distinct actions in the following passage. See if you can find them:

“Jesus went through all their towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest therefore to send out workers into the harvest field” (Matthew 9:35-38).

Here is the breakdown:

  1. Lots of teaching and preaching around Galilee
  2. Healing all their diseases and sickness
  3. Then asking the father for many more harvest workers

Now let’s go back a few chapters and work forward from Matthew 5 to 10:

  1. In Matthew 5-7 we see Jesus preaching and teaching at the sermon on the mount
  2. In Matthew 8-9 we see 10 examples of Jesus healing and performing miracles
  3. In Matthew 10 we see Jesus sending out the 12 disciples as extra harvest workers

Look familiar? Matthew 9:35-38 is Matthew’s very clever summary of the first two sections and the pivot to the third. I’d never seen the connection before! Those first two sections are clearly a means to an end, advertising the truth, drawing us on to the key section, Matthew 10. The harvest is the real goal, not just teaching and healing. Total social transformation was what Jesus wanted all along. Galilee was the experiment to see if it would work.

That’s why Matthew 10 is a very detailed recording of what Jesus said to do and one of the most important chapters in the New Testament. It is a full description of how 12 ordinary men could transform Galilee. Galilee was the template, the trial run, for the future transformation of the world.

The 12 were first given authority to do what Jesus had been doing. They were then sent out, probably in great fear and trepidation, to towns and villages all over Galilee to repeat what Jesus had been doing: Heal the sick, cast out demons and tell them the joyful news that the kingdom of God has arrived on earth.

And off they went.

Did it work? YES! Luke 9:1-9 briefly describes the same event as Matthew 10 but gives us the results. In verse 6 it says that they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere. They even aroused the concern of the local political ruler, Herod the Tetrarch. Rumours were pouring into his court from all over Galilee that John The Baptist, whom he had already beheaded, was resurrected and doing these things, or it might be Elijah or some of the other prophets come back to life. The disciples obviously created quite a stir. Truth was speaking to power. The disciples must have come back pumped!

But here is a curious thing: Why does Matthew 10 go into incredible detail about the instructions they were given by Jesus when Luke hardly says anything. I believe Matthew recorded the details he heard personally for posterity, while we know Luke was only recording these events years after they happened as a second-hand historian. Matthew knew that what he heard from the master was THE blueprint and THE methodology for the future global harvest, first nutted out in Galilee. Later, after Jesus rose from the dead, the brief would be expanded to the whole world (Matthew 28:18-20), but the blueprint would be exactly the same.

And it worked for the first few hundred years, until the church rediscovered religion and shoved the new wine of the Good News into the old wineskin of dead human institutions. The rest is history until today as the modern church rediscovers the power of Matthew 10’s instructions, with results equal to what you just read about from Luke 9.

The Future of Space Travel

I’ve just finished reading a book called The Power of Geography and it contained a final chapter on the future of the new political battleground of near-earth space. It was so interesting I’ve decided to summarise it for you.

Some History

The first human object put into space was by the Germans in 1945 when they launched a V2 rocket which made it up to 176 kilometers. They would have been a space superpower if they had won the war! Next, we had the Russians put a satellite into space, then a poor little dog called Laika, who was also the first living thing to die in space. Fast forward a few years and the Americans were landing 12 men on the moon. I actually watched Armstrong bouncing around on the moon in real time on a black and white TV as a grade 3 student with a teacher screaming at us that this was history in the making. The Americans left behind 96 bags of pee and poo. Then came the space station (ISS) which is the size of a football field on the outside and a five-bedroom house on the inside. Some 240 people, including a few early tourists, have lived up there. Peggy Whitson stayed up there for 665 days! A private company, Elon Musk’s SpaceX, now ferries both crew and supplies to the station with re-usable rockets.

But the era of cooperation is now over and astropolitical competition is rising fast. So where to now?

The New Moon Bases

In the short term everyone is a “lunatic”. The Americans are planning to send their 13th man and first woman to the moon in 2024, with the plan to have a permanent base there by 2029. More poo bags! The Chinese landed a spacecraft and a rover on the dark side of the moon in 2020 and are also planning a base there by 2030. The Indians recently crash-landed their rover and Russians are planning moon trips. SpaceX and Jeff Bezos funded Blue Origin are also planning on getting to the moon “this time to stay”.

Space Wars are Coming

Low orbit around earth is going to be one battleground in the next major war as that’s where most of our satellites are. The Russians recently test-fired a space missile that destroyed one of their own satellites. The Americans were alarmed as Russian Military satellites now stalk their own on a regular basis, and it broke a gentlemen’s agreement about no “weapons” in space. But all the big boys are all testing laser weapons as there is no rule against them! Hypersonic missiles are also being prepped to fire from satellites and from earth to bring down satellites. It’s becoming a very sophisticated black hat/white hat version of scissors/paper/rock.

Given the sophisticated nature of most military systems today, whoever wins the war in space will cripple their opponents on the ground. It would also cripple just about every modern technological convenience we now take for granted. Life here would grind to a halt. The Americans are already training their military commanders to operate without satellite if they have to.

Space For Non-Professionals

There are no laws for space, only gentlemen’s agreements. Anyone can legally do as they please. It’s the wild west times a thousand. Add to this mix the advent of space tourism with low-orbit space hotels on a large scale and we are definitely in a new era Last year a Russian actor spent a few weeks in the ISS filming an upcoming movie. This year (2022) non other than Tom Cruise and a film crew will visit ISS to make a Hollywood movie, all funded by Elon Musk and approved by NASA. The company that is doing the logistics wants to send a permanent studio attachment to the ISS by 2024. It won’t be long before the ISS becomes a very expensive one star hotel with the best views in the world. Branson, Musk, Bezos and others are all in on this game so it’s going to happen because the money is there.

Then There’s Mars

Elon Musk wants to get to Mars in a hurry and is pouring billions into developing heavy lift rockets to get the gear there. The American government wants to as well. Major corporations are in the race for contracts to build rockets and bases for Mars. China recently landed a rover on the red planet and has greater Martian ambitions. NASA wants humans in low orbit around Mars by the 2030’s with a landing sometime after that. The United Arab Emirates recently announced their plan to put a human settlement on Mars in a much more leisurely 100 years from now.

Conclusion

The space race is back on bigtime. Now there are 5-10 serious players instead of two. My opinion after reading this book is that space will end up the victim of competitive colonization, just as earth was over the last 500 years as European empires jostled for dominance. Almost all great discoveries in the past ended up with a scramble for resources and dominance with the winner deciding the rules. Its going to get very messy.

Why? Because human nature hasn’t changed since we fell from God’s presence. We’re arrogant, proud, selfish, egotistical and pigheaded. We’re also adventurous, imaginative, clever and inquisitive. That’s our twin nature. Space is just the next canvas on which we will paint those dark and bright colours.  The movie Ad Astra is closer than you realise!

What happened to the 12 Apostles?

I’m studying Matthew chapter ten at the moment, so you’ll get a few blogs on this topic in the next little while. What stuck me yesterday was the extraordinary effect this small group of simple country folk had on world history. Twelve very ordinary, uneducated manual workers from around a small insignificant village in Galilee eventually turned the world upside down!

There was nothing special or spectacular about them, but once infused with their mission, there was nothing stopping them from giving their lives for their cause. They would be shocked to know that their names have become the most common names for males in the Western world. How many do you know named John, Pete, Tom, Andy, Jim, Bart, or Phil?!

The twelve were just common working men. Some were married, some were single. What made them special was that Jesus, God in human form, trained them over three years into an amazing team of spiritual warriors. He then gave them the most extraordinary task imaginable, an impossible task: calling the entire planet into the liberation of the Kingdom of God. Many wonder how the 12 apostles did it, but that’s for another blog. Here I want to simply explain where they went to and how they eventually died.

The New Testament describes the fate of only two of the apostles: Judas, who betrayed Jesus and then went out and hanged himself (Matthew 27:3-5), and James the son of Zebedee and brother of John, who was executed by Herod about 44AD (Acts 12:2). To find out what happened to the other ten we have to go to church history and legend, sort out the facts from fiction, and make an educated guess. 

How Did the Apostles Die?

Once they realised that the Good News of the Kingdom was not just for the Jews, (Acts 10:1-11:18), the apostles went far and wide as ambassadors of the message of the risen Christ. They suffered greatly for their faith and in most cases met violent deaths on account of their bold witness. Here is a summary of their amazing lives:

  1. Peter was executed in Rome around about 66 AD during the persecution under Emperor Nero. Peter was crucified upside down at his request since he did not feel he was worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord.
  1. Andrew went to the lands that are now Russia. Christians there claim him as the first to bring the gospel to their land. He also preached in modern-day Turkey and in Greece, where he is said to have been crucified.
  1. Thomas was probably most active in the area east of Syria. Tradition has him preaching as far east as the Pakistan coast and South India. The ancient Marthoma Christians of South India revere him as their founder. They claim that he died there when pierced through with the spears of four soldiers.
  1. We think Philip had a powerful ministry in Carthage in North Africa and then in Turkey, where he converted the wife of a Roman proconsul. In retaliation the proconsul had Philip arrested and cruelly put to death.
  1. Matthew ministered in Persia and Ethiopia. Some of the oldest reports say he was not martyred, while others say he was stabbed to death in Ethiopia.
  1. Bartholomew had widespread missionary travels attributed to him to India with Thomas, back to Armenia, and also to Ethiopia and Southern Arabia. There are various accounts of how he met his death as a martyr for the gospel.
  1. The second James was the son of Alpheus and is one of at least three people called James referred to in the New Testament. There is some confusion as to which is which, but this James is reckoned to have ministered in Syria. The Jewish historian Josephus reported that he was stoned and then clubbed to death.
  1. Simon, so the story goes, ministered in Persia, and was killed after refusing to sacrifice to the sun god.
  1. Matthias was the apostle chosen to replace Judas. Tradition sends him to Syria with Andrew and to death by burning.
  1. Tradition says John was the only one of the apostles to have died a natural death from old age. He was the leader of the church in the Ephesus area and is said to have taken care of Mary the mother of Jesus in his home. He was eventually exiled to the island of Patmos. There he is credited with writing the book of Revelation.

 

Why Did The Early Church Grow So Fast?

Jesus’ main purpose, besides his death and resurrection, was to train enough workers to carry on his

global mission. If he didn’t do this then the world would never have heard of Christianity, and I would not be writing this blog 2,000 years later. So, how did he do it?

Basically, he followed the following pattern:

  1. I bring heaven to earth while you watch
  2. I watch while you bring heaven to earth
  3. I leave and you take keep doing what you learnt from me

The Gospels tell this story at length, but the specific instructions are in Matthew 10, Mark 6, Luke 9-10, and Matthew 28:18-20. They are arguably some of the most important passages in the Gospels as relating to the future of Jesus’ mission and the global church. For hundreds of years the early underground church faithfully followed the pattern Jesus gave them.

The passages above basically say the following:

  1. I give you authority to do what I did.
  2. First, go first to the lost sheep of Israel
  3. Heal the sick, raise the dead, tell them they can now be part of the Kingdom
  4. Travel lite and don’t ask for money, give the Kingdom away freely
  5. Stay with persons of peace, godly people who will open up their home and village
  6. Don’t fear the opposition that will come
  7. Second, go to all the world and make disciples of them too following the same pattern
  8. I will be with you all the way till the end of the earth

And he didn’t just train 12 to do this. He trained another 70 in the same skills as well (Luke 10:1-1). Jesus was seriously training leaders because he wanted the whole world discipled. Using his methodology these well-trained leaders quickly turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6).

But then Christianity became so successful it went mainstream in country after country, beginning with Armenia, then Rome. Other jurisdictions followed across the Middle East and Europe. It was a spiritual disaster. Pagan cultural practices slowly began to overtake Jesus’ mission and methodology. The compromise has been with us ever since. So many pagan practices are now part of modern Western Christianity that we have forgotten both his original mission and the specific methodology Jesus gave us to achieve that mission.

Fortunately, most Christians now are no longer Western. They are not bound by our pagan church practices. They are re-examining scripture and ditching what they inherited from the West that is not in the book, while starting to do what is in the book that is missing from Western church practice. It is exciting times. This decade will see the arrival of their dynamic, Jesus-centric mission and methodology back in Western culture. It’s going nuts in developing countries and has already started to arrive in Europe and the US with amazing results.

The Kazakhstan Riots Were Actually a Coup Attempt!

My brother has lived in Kazakhstan for 25 years. He lives in the centre of Almaty, just 500 meters from where the riots were happening. Her could hear it all unfold from his apartment. There are now bullet holes in the other side of his apartment building. This is what he told me last night is the true story of what happened there in the last fortnight.

Initially the riots were over the doubling of fuel prices. However, once the prices were reversed the riots got worse. Machine guns appeared, dozens of police and security were murdered. The Almaty airport was taken. The mayor’s offices in most cities were attacked, some burnt. Infrastructure centers such as TV stations and government buildings in Almaty were attacked. Numbers of police stations were attacked and over-run. This wasn’t your ordinary protest about fuel prices.

The story we were not told in the west is that the thuggish dictator, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who ran Kazakhstan for 30 years finally resigned in 2019 and handed over the presidency to a seasoned diplomat, Kassam-Jomart Tokayev, who speaks several languages fluently and has an extensive understanding of how the outside world works. Tokayev was in the process of liberalizing the country and weaning it off the old system of patronage, cronyism and intimidation. He even wants to eventually create a democracy. However, Nazarbayev still held many positions of power behind the scenes including head of security. He was not happy.

Nazarbayev and his family have economically raped Kazakhstan for decades. They have amassed billions of dollars in illicit wealth at the expense of the ordinary people. One grandson, Aisultan Rakhat, spoke out against this corruption in 2017 and was found dead in his London apartment in 2020. The new President was also making them uncomfortable. The Nazarbayev family and their cronies had many loyalties inside the security system and when the riots started, their goons swung into action.

My brother’s friends who were involved in the early protests told him they could hear many Arabic voices in the crowds, which worried them. Radical Muslim outsiders were clearly on the ground stirring up trouble for the new president. Somehow, they and their local brothers in arms were given automatic weapons and unleashed a wave of assaults on critical infrastructure. My brother’s employee’s cousin was the personal secretary for one of the mayors of a regional city. She escaped death by one minute, but her security guard was riddled with bullets straight after she escaped the mayor’s office. He was the father of five small children. These were not ordinary protestors. This was a coup attempt.

In response Tokayev initially sacked the head of national security and now several of his deputies. The government also resigned. He ordered shoot to kill orders. Tokayev then waved in the Russians to secure all infrastructure in Almaty and Astana such as government offices, TV stations, Telecom installations, the airports, water and power supplies and the Russian space centre. Thousands were quickly arrested. Those ordinary Kazakhs who were detained in the first wave of protests are currently being released. The real troublemakers will never see the light of day again.

The word on the street is that all Nazarbayev family members are now outside the country except one brother, Bolat Nazarbayev, remains in the country. The capital city of Astana, recently renamed after Nazarbayev’s first name, Nursultan, has not been mentioned in any media by that name for over a week. His statues have also been taken down. My brother says everyone is thrilled to be rid of the Nazarbayev family at last.

This month’s Kazakhstan coup attempt reminds me of two similar reactionary coup attempts after the early stages of political liberalization. In the 1970s, as king Carlos of Spain began to dismantle Franco’s fascist system of government, there was also a coup attempt by Colonel Antonio Tiggero and members of the civil guard which failed after 18 hours. After Mikhail Gorbachev began his process of winding back Communism in the USSR in the late 1980’s, there was a coup attempt in 1991 by a group of hardline generals which also quickly failed. Both of those coup attempts simply sped up the process of liberalization in those countries. People used to absolute power never go seem quietly into the night.

Now that Nazarbayev and his cronies are out of the picture and the Russian peacekeepers are heading home I expect a lot of good news will soon come out of Kazakhstan. I also expect the Kazakh government to start chasing down the billions in stolen wealth hidden in London and London offshore bank accounts by the Nazarbayev family.

China’s True Covid Numbers Are Around 1.7 million Dead!

This is a summary of a brilliant article by Gorge Calhoun that appeared in Forbes Magazine on January 2nd, 2022. Apologies to George for chopping it up to shorten it.

China Is Panicking

Why has the recent outbreak in the Chinese city of Xian spurred some ridiculous Covid countermeasures? Authorities have shut down the entire city of 13 million people, shuttered businesses, schools and factories, imposed virtual house-arrest on all residents. Leaving home is a violation. Not even food shopping is allowed. Instead, bags of vegetables are delivered to the locked-down inhabitants. Hundreds of quarantine camps are being prepared to hold thousands of people in solitary confinement who may have been in proximity to an infected individual. The city’s economy is at a complete standstill. Yet the virus is now spreading to other cities and the same civil and economic jail sentence awaits them as well.

This is clearly a paranoid Government response. Yet China’s official Covid death toll is only 4,636 out of 1,447,000,000 people over two years. Reality on the ground and official numbers are not adding up.

Comparing China With the USA

In the United States, more than 825,000 people have officially died from Covid and yet the country is comparatively open. The official USA death toll is 800 times higher than China’s. The Chinese authorities are therefore triumphalist. As they see it, the success of their “zero Covid” approach, marked by severe lockdowns for entire cities, travel bans, intensive contact tracing and military enforcement, simply demonstrates the superiority of their system.

Yet the 800-to-1 ratio of US-to-Chinese mortality rates is a statistical, medical, biological, political and economic impossibility. The mortality rates presented by China are plainly lies. The Chinese death rates are much higher than what is published. But how high are they?

How To Find The True Covid Death Rate

The only way to truly know how many have died from Covid is to compare recent total death rates in a country to the normal total death rate pre Covid. The excess is caused by Covid, unless there is another pandemic or war in that country. Leading research centres around the world are now adopting this approach. This effort has started to reveal the truth, and the truth is shocking. Almost every country has under-reported their Covid deaths:

“[The true death toll] is two or three times higher than the number of deaths we know about.” – Amber D’Souza, Prof. of Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

“Whatever number is reported is going to be a gross underestimate.” – Tim Riffe, a demographer at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Germany.”

The U.S. is one country guilty of underreporting, but in their case it’s probably just inefficiencies in their health system. According to the New York Times study, The USA probably undercounts the prevalence of Covid deaths by about 17%. The Economist found a 7% discrepancy. They later increased their estimate of U.S. under-reporting to 30%.

China is another story. according to The Economist’s model China’s official statistics understate the Chinese Covid death rate by 17,000%. In fact, based on excess mortality calculations, The Economist estimates that the true number of Covid deaths in China is not 4,636, but something like 1.7 million! 

This means China’s cumulative death toll is likely at least double that of the United States. This makes much more sense of their insane city-wide lockdowns we are seeing. They are desperately trying to keep up a false narrative

China’s data manipulation is clearly intentional. The Covid death figures are being grossly, childishly, and crudely manipulated. This is nothing new. The suppression or deletion of data related to excess deaths in China began shortly after the pandemic started. As a result, most multi-country studies of Covid prevalence and outcomes are forced to omit China from their analyses. Consider the following:

November 2020: An academic study of 22 countries stated “There are no data from China.”

July 2021: A Journal of American Medical Association study covering 67 countries had nothing on China.

August 2021: “Data for China was unavailable.” The Financial Times.

The missing data problem also emerges from an examination of the hotspot, the only hotspot for Covid in all of China, Wuhan, in Hubei province. According to China’s official statistics, Hubei has accounted for 97% of all Covid-related deaths in the country. All of the reported deaths in Wuhan/Hubei occurred between January 1 and March 31 of 2020. After that, all reporting ceased. There are no excess-death statistics for the period from April 2020 onwards.

Beyond Wuhan and Hubei Province there have been just 124 Covid deaths reported in all of China over two years among the 1.447 billion Chinese who do not live in Hubei province, a mortality rate of .002 per 100,000 population, 124,000 times lower than the mortality rate in the U.S.

The isolation of the disease to Wuhan that this implies is impossible. A study of the travel patterns for Wuhan in January 2020, published in Nature magazine, described “an outbound travel surge from Wuhan before travel restrictions were implemented”. The first case of Covid in Wuhan was officially diagnosed officially on Dec 31, 2019, and the virus was very much active in the city before that time. The Covid travel ban was not imposed until January 23, their peak holiday period and the largest annual migration of humans on the planet. Approximately 10% of the city’s population, mainly university students, left during this time. It is not believable that the infection was stopped dead in its tracks, completely contained by April 1, 2020, and its impact limited to Wuhan and Hubei.

Comparing China with New Zealand

We know this because here is the best comparison we have for a nation-wide lockdown: New Zealand. This small country is the most geographically isolated in the world and it has a very low-population density, just 11% of the population density of China. Both factors should be favourable with respect to controlling the spread of Covid. New Zealand has 4 times the per capita GDP of China. It is peaceful and well-governed. It has strong medical institutions, and universal government-run and publicly funded healthcare. The country responded quickly to Covid and instituted a rigorous travel ban. The authorities articulated an aggressive China-like “zero covid” type policy early on, which has been described as “an emblematic champion of proper prevention and response to the pandemic.”

The country was able to contain the initial wave more effectively than almost any other nation. New Zealand achieved an extraordinarily low mortality rate of just 10.3 deaths per million. Yet China claims an overall Covid mortality rate three times lower than New Zealand. And if we exclude the single 90-day period of Wuhan/Hubei’s Covid cases from January 1 to March 31, 2020, then China’s official Covid mortality rate over the past 20 months would be 73 times lower than New Zealand’s.

The Economist’s Study

As mentioned above, to address the missing data problem, Western analysts have recently turned to alternative methods for estimating the prevalence and impact of Covid. The Economist has developed a new model for assessing and estimating Covid mortality.

The Economist’s model attempts to estimate excess mortality in the Covid era. This refers to the deviation from the past averages and trends in death rates in a given country, which normally only vary by about 1% a year. Globally, the study concludes that Covid deaths are underreported by a factor of 2 to 4. That is, if the model is correct, there have been between 10 and 18 million more Covid deaths in the entire world than the 5.5 million that have been officially reported.

Looking at individual countries, the model further confirms the peculiarity of Chinese Covid mortality figures.

Country % Of Excess Deaths to Official Covid Deaths
United States 30%
Mexico 30%
Switzerland 3%
Germany -3%
United Kingdom -2%
Russia 300%
Thailand 200%
Vietnam 400%
South Africa 200%
Brazil 20%
India 900%
China 17,000%

No other major country is even close to China’s discrepancy. The only comparably large figures come from countries that are currently involved in war or large-scale civil unrest, such as South Sudan, Chad, the Congo, or Burkina Faso. Even some of the most unstable countries in the world such as Libya (400%), Iraq (900%), Iran (100%), and Afghanistan (900%), Venezuela (1100%), while clearly undercounting their Covid deaths, have nowhere near China’s undercount of 17,000%.

China has a long history of public health scandals, suppression and lying, including faulty vaccinesadulterated baby formula, and coverups and mismanagement related to the initial outbreaks of SARS (2003), Bird flu (2004), Bird flu again (2013), Swine Flu (2019).

And now we can add Covid, 2020!

Bottom line: China’s numbers cannot be trusted. Which ought not to be surprising, given how little we can trust China with respect to almost anything involving Covid or their economy, or their statements on almost any topic for that matter. They have probably lost almost 2 million citizens and must continue locking down their cities every single time a single case pops up as their vaccine is useless. If they don’t then millions more will die, and they know it. Hence the panic. This policy, built on lies and deception, will eventually destroy their economy and any tolerance left in their people,

Especially now that Omicron has arrived.

As to motives? The NY Times headline puts it succinctly: The government has staked its political legitimacy on controlling the virus. It is a battle Beijing cannot afford to lose. 2020 will be a very rough year for China.

Pride comes before a fall.

Healed of Migraines Twice: 46 Years Apart

The First Time

When I was 15 years old, I received a nasty hit to the head while playing a game of rugby league. An hour later I was carted off to hospital with extreme dizziness, eye complications and a throbbing headache. Eventually I vomited and recovered. That was my first migraine. That was 1976.

Six months later I got another one. Then again three months later. Eventually I was getting one a week or more. Not happy Mildred! By this time I had given my life to Jesus and was suffering my way through Year 11 high school not knowing what to do next.

Then a miracle happened. I was attending a Christian meeting and the speaker announced that there was a young man present who was suffering from migraines. I knew it was me and after he prayed for me, I absolutely knew I was healed. I just knew it. No evidence. I simply knew. There’s no other way to explain it. that was 1977.

The next migraine I got was a whole year later after running into the sun for a long distance while on the school cross country. No hat of course. The next was about 10 years later after sitting on a beach facing west for hours. No hat again! Then nothing for many years, perhaps one a decade until 2015.

The Second Time

That year I was in Croatia on holiday and ate some bad tinned fish. A shocking migraine erupted not long after. Several more came in the years that followed. Nothing to worry about at this stage. I just put up with them as an occasional “headache” (dad joke intended). Then early in 2020 I decided to start giving blood at the local Red Cross blood bank. They told me I could donate every two weeks, so I did.

Big mistake.

Soon after the donations started I began getting regular migraines again every few weeks. Once my doctor and I joined the dots and realised it was the blood donations I quit. However, the migraines kept coming every two or three weeks. I dosed up on vitamins and minerals to replenish what had been drained but the migraines kept coming. I experimented with different foods but to no avail.

Then recently I was studying Matthew chapters eight and nine for many weeks. Sounds a bit strange, but I just got stuck on those two chapters like I’ve never been stuck before. It was fun. I kept reading about healings and miracles. In fact, there are ten miracles in those two chapters, it’s quite amazing. Being the intellectual type, I was not thinking of myself while reading these accounts, just imagining what it would have been like to be in the crowds. But slowly I noticed Jesus constantly responded to each person’s faith/expectation. Here are a few examples:

  1. To the Centurion: He has greater faith than anyone I have encountered in Israel.
  2. To the disciples in the storm: Why are you gripped with fear. Where is your faith?
  3. To the bleeding woman: My daughter be encouraged. Your faith has healed you.
  4. To the two blind men: You will have what your faith expects.

As slow and as skeptical as I am, I eventually realised it was up to me. I had to have an expectation in my soul that it was my time for healing. I had step up and make scripture personal. After pondering these two chapters for several months I woke up one day different. I knew I was healed. I just knew!

That was six weeks ago.

Now you’re the skeptical one! You’re dubious about whether I am really healed, but that’s irrelevant. I KNOW I am healed because it’s the same knowing I had in 1977. Faith is the evidence of things not yet seen (Hebrews 11:1). Never a truer word was spoken! Its in your gut. Its deep in your bones. Its going to shape my future. The deal is done. I’m like Walt Disney before his first theme park was built. It was in his heart and soul, but there was no evidence on the ground. He made history. Same here, on a slightly smaller scale.

So, what miracle do you need? If you want it bad enough then get into scripture and start building your faith!

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the leper and said, Of course I want to heal you, be healed. And instantly all signs of leprosy disappeared! (Matthew 8:3)

 

What Is the New Wineskin?

Most people who discuss the new wine and wineskins mentioned in Jesus’ teachings (Matthew 9:14-17, Mark 2:18-22, Luke 5: 36-39) will talk about the differences between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, between a religion of obligation and works, and a relationship of faith, the heart, and grace.

I agree. However, I think there is more to it than that.

There is a powerful point Jesus wanted us to know here that was picked up by the early church but is now completely overlooked by the modern Western church. We are missing one of this teaching’s central points.

Jesus’ three-part teaching/answer about cloth and wineskins was in response to a query by John’s disciples about the lack of fasting among Jesus’ disciples. Fasting is a religious practice and here it was symbolic of the entire Jewish religious edifice constructed over and around the Old Covenant that Jesus fought so stridently against. It represented Jewish religion with its special religious buildings, special religious days, special religious festivals, special religious leaders, special religious dress codes, special religious rules, special religious hierarchy, and special religious habits such as fasting. You get the idea.

These are the hallmarks of all religions across all cultures. Jesus was telling his listeners that this worldly, cultural system of external religious practice, as epitomized by the Pharisaic religious practices, was now obsolete. The old wineskins and the old cloth were not to be part of the future of the Kingdom of God and its new wine. It wasn’t just about the Old Covenant being the old wine replaced with the New Covenant and the new wine, but the scaly, crusty, barnacle-covered religious burden that went with it; the old wineskins.

Then he made a very interesting comment. He said No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved. There was to be a New Covenant of the heart, and grace, intimate relationship, faith, AND, there was also to be a completely new system of social and religious organization around this New Covenant relationship with God.

So, what was this new social religious system, this new wineskin?

The answer is in the Gospels, right under our nose. If you read Luke 3-10 very carefully several times you will see this new system unfolding beautifully. Jesus first consecrated his life (Luke 3-4), then launched into the harvest of souls around Capernaum and Bethsaida (Luke 4-5). He then trained up leaders from among his growing number of followers (Luke 6:12-13), sending them out on a practical to duplicate what he had been doing once trained (Luke 6-9). This was followed up with the training of 72 more leaders (Luke 10) who were told to look for even more leaders in every village in Galilee (Luke 10:1-12). This was saturation evangelism and discipleship with hundreds of trained leaders. This is how he ignited a social and spiritual revolution in Galilee! This was what he meant by the new wineskin. This is also why he was executed (John 11:47-53). The whole nation was turning!

This new wineskin was deliberately calculated to produce a massive harvest of powerful disciples who were nurtured via micro-spiritual communities inside homes, clans and villages. It was simple, viral, and easily duplicated. It rapidly produced mature practical spiritual leaders who were able to copy the ministry of Jesus. This new movement liberated people both spiritually and culturally (Luke 4:18-19). All this while these new believers enjoyed a new-found intimacy with God in a New Covenant relationship.

When Jesus was leaving earth, he told his followers to go to all the world and duplicate his new model of humble, low-key, viral family-based based and deeply spiritual community (Matthew 28:18-20). They did. They changed the world. This was the new wine and wineskin combo that proved to be such a potent force in the spread of the Gospel in those first two centuries, by which time it had reached Pakistan and India in South Asia, Afghanistan and Central Asia, all of the Middle East, North Africa and most of Europe.

But then it all slowed and eventually stopped.

Three hundred years after its launch, the growing global church reinstituted special religious buildings, special religious days, special religious festivals, special religious leaders, special religious dress codes, special religious rules, religious hierarchies ,and special religious habits…such as fasting. It now had cultural and worldly power but it fizzled out spiritually. Christendom was born.

For the next thousand years the new wine of an intimate, personal relationship with our creator was either suppressed or again stuck in the old wineskin of religion. There were some notable breakouts along the way such as the Waldensians, the  Hussites and the Lutheran’s call back to the new wine of direct relationship with God through the grace of the cross. However, the parallel issue of the old, stale, brittle wineskin of established religion was never addressed properly. To this day Western Christianity is stale and stagnant because it is essentially new wine stuck in old wineskins. That’s why we are now shrinking and culturally irrelevant.

But radical change is coming.

In the last forty years we have seen a sustained global return to the new wineskin.  The non-Western church, which is now 80% of all evangelical believers in the world, is quickly moving into the new wineskin paradigm of church. It is rapidly replacing our stale old Western religious wineskins with the new wineskins they read about in the Gospels. Some 80 million new believers are now part of this revolution that often goes by the name of Disciple Making Movements or Church Planting Movements. Numbers a tripling every decade. China, South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa are at the forefront of this revolution that is going to have a profound impact on the entire human race be the end of this century. Mass movements are popping up in the most surprising places. My summary of this movement can be found in this link.

This is what Jesus meant when he said No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved. It’s been 1,800 years in the making but it has finally arrived: New wine in new wineskins and the greatest flow of humans into the Kingdom of God the world will ever see!