Astronomical Prophets

The Gospel of Mark Chapter 13 begins with Jesus' disciples pointing out the great stones of the temple. Jesus predicts that the temple will be destroyed and then ask when it will happen, when the temple's stones will all be thrown down.  The rest of the chapter is all about this.  To the disciples the permanent destruction of the temple means that the end of the age, the end of the world as they know it.  Jesus uses language similar to that used by Old Testament prophets to describe destruction of cities - he describes it as the stars falling from heaven.

“But in those days, following that distress,

“‘the sun will be darkened,
    and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
    and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ (Mark 13:24-25)

Compare this with a prophecy of Isaiah about the destruction of Babylon

The stars of heaven and their constellations
    will not show their light.
The rising sun will be darkened
    and the moon will not give its light. (Isaiah 13:10)

Isaiah's prophecy came true, Babylon was destroyed but the stars did not stop showing their light - the language used was poetic intending to highlight the seriousness and permanence of the judgment.  The same was true of Jesus' prophecy about Jerusalem and the temple in Mark 13.  The stars didn't actually fall but in 70AD, within a generation of Jesus' prophecy, the temple and Jerusalem were destroyed.



Rapture Rap

The idea of a "rapture" of believers, meaning Christians being spirited away by Jesus in a sort of secret second coming is a popular but mistaken belief held by some Christians.  As defined like this, the "rapture" does not exist and is certainly not taught in the Bible.  Bear with me I'm leading up to something.

This being the case, it is important to tell people that the "good news" also known as the "gospel" of Jesus Christ is corporate as well as individual. And it's not about getting people ready for the rapture, it's about converting people and getting them together to transform society as well as their own lives.  In Matthew 28:16-20 we are told to "make disciples of all nations".  Yes the translation is correct, it really does mean "of" and not "from".  Although it is true that making a disciple of a nation necessarily includes there being a viable church in that country or people group (a church of people from that nation), it is not confined to that.  To disciple a nation means to teach the nation how to live as God wants.  The word translated "nation" doesn't mean the modern concept of a nation state but a distinct people group, this could be a whole nation but often there are several people groups with their own distinct culture within a nation state or country.  To reach into such culture and teach or disciple the culture as well as leading those individuals who are part of that culture is part of what is meant, I believe, by the command to "make disciples of all nations.  I'm not there yet, I'm still building up to that something, bear with me.

One popular subculture is often called "Urban", an expression of this culture is the form of singing called rapping. In our worship service at Mill Hill East Church called Urban Praze the rappers who lead worship talk about the gospel of Jesus Christ.  They also go out onto the streets and teach people about the good news about Jesus and that he is in charge.  They do no mention the rapture, as there is no such thing.  Bear with me, I'm nearly there.

The belief in the rapture is coupled with the belief that there will be a seven year period of terrible suffering for those left behind called the "tribulation".  The Christian life does involve suffering, and certainly there are and will be times when the amount of suffering on earth is worse than others.  However, there is no special time of "tribulation" in our future predicted in the Bible.  Belief in a future  rapture to take believers away from the wicked world of tribulation is pure escapism and is not true, and not taught in the Bible.  All the paragraphs above lead to that "something" which I have building towards in this article.  So, thank you for bearing with me, here is my puntastic conclusion:

"I won't talk about no rapture
I want instead to rap-at-yer
Jesus is alive he's beaten death, he is risen
Believe, trust in him and show it in baptism
Don't be afraid of a future tribulation
But get out there and disciple the nation."

The above may not scan well.  The rhymes maybe desperate.  But it encapsulates, I suggest, an element of true evangelistic preaching and gospel rapping.








What Mill Hill East Church is All About

All churches are part of the worldwide church with which they have beliefs and practices in common.  But each local church also has a particular character or ethos.  This is ours.

1. Mill Hill East Church massages the heart for the community, like CPR.  The church strives to love others in a practical way (Matthew22:39).  It provides a place to meet, a place for education of adults and children, such as a dance studio and a coffee bar.  The church members welcome people into their homes.  The church together with the wider community put on community building events like film nights, a youth cafe and a lunch club.  And the church involves people in prayer and praise of God making worship services accessible and by church members taking every opportunity to pray with others in the wider community.  This is summarised as CPR, not Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation but: doing Church together, Relaxing together and Praying together.

2. However people need more, they need to be part of the church which means being in the family of God.  The countless benefits this provides include having a spiritual awakening, having their human spirits brought to life by God's Spirit. (John 3:6,7). This gives them access to God's power in their lives as well as awakening them to a new way of life.  In other words they need to  come to faith (be born again) and be baptised in the Spirit.  To symbolise coming to faith they are baptised in water and invited to join the church.  (Matthew 28:19) We pray for them and continue to encourage them to be filled, baptised, soaked in the Spirit.  (Ephesians 5:18)

3. Now they are part of the church itself, part of the worldwide church and specifically they are members of Mill Hill East Church, MHEC.  MHEC can also serve as an acronym to show our particular ethos.

M stands for Magnify God with others - worshipping God our Father through Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit.  Having our minds transformed and offering our lives to him including our time and money.  Worship comes first. (Matthew22:37)  Preaching the Gospel in a clear relevant way, and vibrant singing in a style that speaks to peoples hearts are part of this commitment. (Ephesians 5:19)

H stands for Help others with others.  (Matthew 22:39)  Serving others in the wider community as a church and as individuals.  Providing a community centre with our church buildings, getting stuck in in community projects.  We are an active church who actively seek to serve others.  This includes collaborative work with people and agencies in the wider community like the police, schools, etc.

E stands for Equip each other.  Teaching and preaching from the Bible,  using music and prayer to build people up give them the tools to live a good life. (Matthew 28:20)  Helping with CV's, speaking English,  getting over addictions by on target training and education.  We meet in small groups to encourage and equip each other for effective, joy-filled Christian living.

C stands for Connect.  We connect with each other and connect others with God. (Matthew 28:19).  We do this by being sociable and creating spaces to interact and to introduce people to God.  Church members set aside an a time each week to meet other church members in a Connect group.  They also set aside an evening or another time each week to involve people from the wider community in an enjoyable activity, like seeing a film, eating a meal or doing a quiz.  The church also puts on social events to enable people to connect more widely with others.  We massage the heart of the community.


The last sentence above echoes the first sentence, indeed it is a circular process.  This is not just the ethos of the church it is the way people are brought into the presence of God, God brings them to faith and they join the church.  And then they are part of welcoming people in, massaging the heart of the community.  All this is summarised on what we call the "Christian Card" (see above, the front and back are shown) available for anyone to see, but especially useful for those joining the church to know what we are about.