Rob Bell: Hell

I’ve been reflecting a lot on Rob Bell’s observation about Hell in his book Love Wins.  It’s part of a much longer argument, but there may well be enough in this statement to give you a flavour of his point:

Hell is our refusal to trust God's retelling of our story.

Hell is our refusal to trust God’s retelling of our story.

Rob Bell, Love Wins

Danny Silk: Shocking things.

From the book Keep Your Love On:

I once heard a man tell his story about being struck by lightning— twice. He actually died, and believe it or not, ended up in heaven talking to God.

God didn’t ask him, “Did you give all your money to the poor?” or “Did you raise the dead?”

Instead, He asked, “Did you learn to love?” The man said, “No.”

Then God gave him another shot at life.

I think that we should pay close attention to the question, “Did you learn to love?” This is the question. That is the one thing you are responsible for. It is the only thing that God cannot work out for you.

No matter what miraculous things God is doing around you and through you, you must never lose sight of this priority. All the signs, wonders, gifts, and supernatural events in the world do not prove that you are connected heart-to-heart with God. Jesus warned about the last days when people will come to Him and ask, “Didn’t I prophesy the paint off the wall? Didn’t I do amazing things in your Name?” and hear Him say, “I never knew you.” Do you want Jesus to know you? Do you want to know Him? Then love Him and love others. The Bible couldn’t be more clear about this:

“But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.”

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

The people who really know God can do shocking things. They can do powerful things. They can love people that many would declare unforgivable and impossible to love.

A woman recently told me, “Danny, I wanted to thank you. Two years ago, you took the time out of your day to call me while you were at the airport between flights. My nephew raped my daughter. I was about to go into court when we talked. You said that I needed to keep my heart open to my nephew and to keep my love on. You also said that my daughter would follow our lead of forgiveness and reconciliation. I had already listened to a message you had given about keeping your love on, and my heart wanted to love. But my mommy claws were about to come out. You gave me the clarity I needed to be okay and I chose the right way to protect my daughter’s heart.”

“That event could have destroyed my family forever. But we chose to love. We created boundaries and loved with our whole hearts. There were lots of ‘God moments’ throughout the trial and they continued to come afterward. We have had a family gathering since then and I look at him now without hating him in my heart. We are not afraid, because we chose to love. Fear never took hold. I am now addicted to this full, open heart of love. It has made me know how safe and powerful I truly am. And our daughter has followed our lead. She has forgiven him and loves well. She has not forgotten, but she truly loves.”

When Jesus asks this woman if she learned to love, she will be able to answer, “Yes.”

What about you? How are you answering this question right now in your relationships with God and others?

This Book Excerpt was taken from Keep Your Love On by Danny Silk



Mess: Jesus entered the mess

Mess.  It’s just one word.  One syllable that brings to mind a whole load of images… messy ones!  And at Christmas time, this one messy syllable word seems to shift into top gear!  I remember when I was young, my brother and I would tear through our festive wrapped gifts as if we were competing in an Olympic sport (Winter Olympics, I suppose).  I think of the post-Christmas dinner-plate pile-up in the kitchen and the décor of Celebration wrappers between the sofas.

It’s fair to say there was a fair bit of mess at the very first Christmas too.  As Mary and Joseph trekked down to Bethlehem for a census, there was no room for them to stay.  So the young couple welcomed Jesus into the world, with a bunch of animals as his roommates.

But Jesus didn’t just enter the mess of a downstairs room with a feeding trough, he entered the mess of our world too.  It was a message that has been posted in verses throughout scripture, one will come to fix up the mess.  And if we invite him, he even enters the mess of our lives and offers to fix us.

The Christmas story involves Mess, but it’s not the central story.  It’s about the one who was born in the Mess.  You see ‘Mess’ is only central to the Christmas story when it’s an abbreviation.  There’s 3 letters added to the Mess – i.a.h. and those letter changes everything.

Here’s a 4-minute Spoken Word video from the Bible Society.  It’s called Mess.

Tomorrow at Explore: Love

Tomorrow at Explore, Colin continues our new 4-week Advent series.  This week we’ll be considering what the Bible means by Love, particularly in relation to the Christmas story;  and we’ll light the second candle on the Advent wreath.  Last week we talked about Peace, future weeks will be Joy and Hope.  We’ll also learn an Advent song, and will sing Rescuer, What a Beautiful Name and the Glory of Christmas.  

11.15am, Ottery St Mary Parish Church.  This is a great time to join us, look forward to seeing you there!

Saying No to the right things has a positive outcome

The principle is to say No to anything that would divert you from your goals and dreams. This power comes by skill, training, and effort, and it is invaluable in your endeavours. The idea of saving No may seem negative, but if you say No to the right things, it has a very positive outcome. It’s easy to blame circumstances and the bad hand you were dealt and say, ‘It’s not my fault’. But it’s thousands of times more rewarding to say No to those things that stand in your way and play your hand to win.



Acts 11: Why did you do it? Why did you go in to visit uncircumcised men and eat with them?

Loved reading this telling of Peter and Cornelius this morning from Acts 11:

The apostles, and the brothers and sisters with them in Judaea, heard that the Gentiles had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, those who wanted to emphasize circumcision took issue with him.

‘Why did you do it?’ they asked. ‘Why did you go in to visit uncircumcised men and eat with them?’

So Peter began to explain it all, step by step.

‘I was in the town of Joppa’, he said, ‘and I was praying. I was in a trance, and I saw a vision: something like a great sail suspended by its four corners was let down from heaven, and came towards me. I stared at it, then I began to look in, and I saw four-footed land animals, wild beasts, reptiles and birds of the air. I heard a voice, saying to me, “Get up, Peter! Kill and eat!” “Certainly not, Lord,” I replied. “Nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth!” Then the voice came from heaven a second time: “What God made clean, you must not regard as common.” All this happened three times, and then the whole lot was drawn back up into heaven.

‘Just then, suddenly, three men appeared at the house where I was, sent to me from Caesarea. The spirit told me to go with them, without raising scrupulous objections. These six brothers also came with me, and we went into the man’s house. He told us that he had seen an angel standing in his house and saying, “Send to Joppa and fetch Simon called Peter, who will speak to you words by which you and all your house will be saved.” As I began to speak, the holy spirit fell on them, just as the spirit did on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word which the Lord had spoken: “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the holy spirit.”

‘So, then,’ Peter concluded, ‘if God gave them the same gift as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus the Messiah, who was I to stand in the way of God?’

When they heard this, they had nothing more to say. They praised God.

‘Well, then,’ they declared, ‘God has given the Gentiles, too, the repentance that leads to life!’

Acts 11:1-18, New Testament for Everyone

Isaiah 9: No limits to the wholeness He brings

The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light.
For those who lived in a land of deep shadows—
    light! sunbursts of light!
You repopulated the nation,
    you expanded its joy.
Oh, they’re so glad in your presence!
    Festival joy!
The joy of a great celebration,
    sharing rich gifts and warm greetings.
The abuse of oppressors and cruelty of tyrants—
    all their whips and cudgels and curses—
Is gone, done away with, a deliverance
    as surprising and sudden as Gideon’s old victory over Midian.
The boots of all those invading troops,
    along with their shirts soaked with innocent blood,
Will be piled in a heap and burned,
    a fire that will burn for days!
For a child has been born—for us!
    the gift of a son—for us!
He’ll take over
    the running of the world.
His names will be: Amazing Counselor,
    Strong God,
Eternal Father,
    Prince of Wholeness.
His ruling authority will grow,
    and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.
He’ll rule from the historic David throne
    over that promised kingdom.
He’ll put that kingdom on a firm footing
    and keep it going
With fair dealing and right living,
    beginning now and lasting always.
The zeal of God-of-the-Angel-Armies
    will do all this.

Isaiah 9:6-7, The Message

Picture from the Bible Society 2018 Calendar, December.

Tomorrow at Explore

Roy and Pat begin our new 4-week series for Advent.  Each week is dedicated to considering a key theme that came to its fulfillment in the arrival of Jesus:  Peace, Hope, Joy, and Love.  In this series, we’ll explore each of these biblical words and their meaning within the biblical story as we prepare ourselves to celebrate the birth of Jesus. This week it’s Peace.  11.15am, Ottery St Mary Parish Church.

Here’s the 4-minute video they used in the service, if you’d like to see it again.

Pat Barrett: The Way

Pat Barrett’s song The Way:

Through every battle
Through every heartbreak
Through every circumstance
I believe
That You are my fortress
Oh, You are my portion
And You are my hiding place, oh
I believe You are
The way, the truth, the life
I believe You are
The way, the truth, the life

I believe
Through every blessing
Through every promise
Through every breath I take
I believe
That You are Provider
Oh, You are Protector
And You are the One I love, oh
Continue reading “Pat Barrett: The Way”