Hello everyone! I’m Johnny Bell and I am the Youth Worker at SRPC. Basically this means that I organise a lot of our youth organisations, meet up with & mentor young people and generally drink lots of coffee. I’m married to the lovely Andrea, with a two year old energetic lad called Jacob, a beautiful new girl called Amy and a mental Springer Spaniel called Alfie. If you find my vague musings interesting, challenging or controversial, feel free to leave a comment!
Thursday, 25 April 2013
A man set off to run 8miles. On Monday he started off too fast and ran out of energy after 3miles. On Wednesday he deliberately ran much slower and ran 10miles.
Is this story about you?
Saturday, 26 January 2013
A prayer for 2013...
I haven't been in the mood or had the inspiration to blog for quite some time, but I'd like to share one of my prayers for 2013 with you. Perhaps something might help or resonate within your soul.
"Lord, all year long You'll prove Your promises & capacity to keep us from falling.
Though we may falter on the journey, the grasp of Your grace is steady & secure.
When we waver in our adoration of You, You will remain committed & fully engaged with us.
Even when you must discipline us this year, it will be in love, never in disgust or regret that You had adopted us.
We praise You for being the perfect Father to Your daughters & sons."
Thursday, 16 August 2012
The blessings & curse of social media
Social Media is here to stay... Facebook & Twitter may come & go, but engaging with each other in this way will be around for a long time.
Whilst I did know (& enjoy) life without it, most UK teenagers have grown up with "liking" "sharing" "tweeting" "following" "blogging" as part of their everyday life experience.
In itself Social Media is neutral. It's only one means of communication; a tool to help people interact. Like a hammer can be used to build a homeless shelter or smash someones' brains out, so Social Media is a tool which can be used positively or negatively, to build up or destroy. And how this tool is used reveals a lot about the user.
Some challenges arising from Social Media:
- It can feed the monsters of self-obsession, self-promotion & image management, which lurk inside us all (as opposed to the Christian virtues of self-forgetfulness, humility & authenticity).
- It can be a big waste of time.
- It gets in the way of helpful habits of stillness & solitude.
- It can hinder the building of community (constant phone fidgeting & status checking can kill the blessing of face-to-face interaction; plus I don't get birthday cards in the post anymore, which sucks!)
- Some research indicates that it makes you more stupid (reducing curiosity, attentive listening, memory retention & understanding context).
Some blessings of Social Media:
- It's great to enter into someone's cyber world & share their laughter, joy & tears (last Sunday it felt like I had 20 friends in the room as we shared silly/grumpy comments on the Olympic closing ceremony).
- It enables a "presence" with people who live beyond our geographical reach.
- It can be a blessed waste of time.
- It can be a community builder; enabling us to share messages, photos & banter and understanding each other a bit deeper. It also helps me to remember birthdays (so I can send a 140 character birthday greeting).
Some questions (which according to the research mentioned above you won't be bothered to think about):
If we follow Jesus, the heart of His Gospel (Good News) is relationship - love God, love others, love self. How does your usage of Social Media hinder or advance these relationships?
What are your boundaries? How often do you check your status updates? What does this reveal about you? What are you NOT doing when you are digitally connected?
Master or Slave: is Social Media a tool to serve you or are you serving it?
Right I'm off to upload this to Facebook...
Tuesday, 8 May 2012
An open message to my heroes - teenagers!
To all the young people who I have the pleasure to spend time with,
At the moment I am journeying through the toughest & darkest periods of my life - after mum died so suddenly two weeks ago - but your messages & prayers mean so much to me. Not only is God carrying me through them, but it is so encouraging for me to see that He is at work in your lives.
Most of you won't have met my mum, but she is a legend. She was always dependable, reliable, thinking of others & got about life in a very quiet way - never wanting to make a fuss, but always working away in the background to help others. I honestly can't remember her speaking badly of anyone; always giving people the benefit of the doubt.
She had an active faith in Jesus & was heavily involved in our family church in Dundonald. In fact, she was on her way to Sunday School to teach her P6 class when she collapsed. The message she was preparing to give to them was Jesus promise in John 14:3 "And if I go to prepare a place for you (in heaven), I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." I like to think this was the last thought that passed through her mind.
I'm really going to miss Mum. Her quiet presence, her quirks and the way she loved her grandchildren so deeply and how they lit up her life in the last few years. Most of all I'm going to miss Mum's smile and laughter; she really was so full of life and most of my grieving is for the years of fun & joy (especially with the kids) which we feel she has been robbed off.
Friday, 16 March 2012
Some tips for reading your Bible...
Thanks for clicking on this link... a few of you have got new Youth Bibles & are now wondering; "where do you start with this?" Others haven't read your Bible in a while & are just looking for a kick start. Here's a few pointers to get you going. I can provide more thoughts/answer questions if you like or just ask a Vibe leader for some help.
1) If you want to get to know God better (who He is, what He says, what He does), the Bible is always the best place to start as that's the main way that God decided to let us know about Him & Jesus' rescue plan.
2) Our world is quite noisy & we're easily distracted, so best to set aside some time when you turn off mobiles/computers & get some space in your house, so that you can tune into God's voice speaking to you through the Bible (even Jesus needed space to connect with God!!!)
3) You might find it helpful to start with a short, honest prayer. For example, "God, I'm not really sure if you exist or how to read this Bible; so if you're real, please help me." or "Lord, help me to think about you during this time."
4) Some people begin with the first book "Genesis", but if you're new to this my advice is to use "the Word 4U 2Day" notes we give out at The Vibe or start reading through one of the stories about Jesus (the one written by "Mark" is a good one to start with).
5) Don't try to read too much in one go; unless it's going really well. As you read ask, "what's going on in this story?" "what are you doing God?" "what do you want to teach me God about who you are or what you want me to do?"
6) It's often helpful to keep a wee notebook beside you. Write down your favourite verses that stand out (or highlight them in your Bible)... write down a prayer (just be honest)... draw a picture or write a song if that helps you... take a note of questions (and ask a leader about them).
7) Go to a church service or join a youth group (like RED!!!) where you can ask questions & get more help from others in how to understand the Bible.
Try to relax. When you give time to seeking God & getting to know Him - He is always pleased!
Friday, 9 March 2012
Spring is in the air...
Wednesday, 15 February 2012
Henri Nouwen on Unconditional Love
Henri Nouwen has been stimulating my brain juices recently. Here's a quote to bat around & hold onto...
“We often confuse unconditional love with unconditional approval. God loves us without conditions but does not approve of every human behavior. God doesn’t approve of betrayal, violence, hatred, suspicion, and all other expressions of evil, because they all contradict the love God wants to instill in the human heart. Evil is the absence of God’s love. Evil does not belong to God.
God’s unconditional love means that God continues to love us even when we say or think evil things. God continues to wait for us as a loving parent waits for the return of a lost child. It is important for us to hold on to the truth that God never gives up loving us even when God is saddened by what we do. That truth will help us to return to God’s ever-present love.” - Henri Nouwen