Counting the Cost and Persevering in All Things

I have found myself trying to disentangle my headphones cables when preparing to write this blog on perseverance (as writing always seems to go more smoothly when listening to music!) – and it took a while. I needed to persevere in disentangling – and was getting a bit annoyed. Such a small thing but even then!

We seem to live in a world where instant gratification rules: I do not want to wait, but I would like it, whatever it might be, rather now than wait for it or work for it long term, whether it is an instant coffee on the go, rather chilling and playing than finishing a long piece of work or rather play a match than doing repetitive drills to improve a skill (let’s talk sports!). You can see small children going for instant gratification and we as adults do not seem to have grown out of living out this urge either, but probably we are just better in hiding and managing our impulses. Perseverance seems to be a counter-cultural value.

When persevering, there always seems to be a cost involved, some kind of pain, suffering, waiting and keeping going patiently and a sense of not having achieved the goal yet. You have to pull through and endure to get there. It might seem more appealing to be in pain-avoidance mode and, I guess, that is our natural tendency.

So, why should we persevere? Why not just give up or go for short cuts? Why not simply go for instant gratification in whatever area it might be? Why should we encourage the young people we work with to persevere and be role models ourselves?

I have just moved countries and there is always some kind of transition and culture shock, as mild as it can be, involved. Without perseverance there would be no overcoming of culture shock and fully settling in and feeling at home.

Without perseverance there is often no real achievement – and no reason to celebrate! Without perseverance, there is no growth, no overcoming barriers and obstacles and no fruit. Patience and perseverance produce character growth which produces hope (Romans 5:4-6).

We need encouragement and support to persevere. On our own, it would be a tough race to run. I still think back to the image of the Brownlee brothers, Alistair and Jonny, pulling through to the end, Alistair helping his brother Jonny over the finishing line in a triathlon in Mexico. Without Alistair encouraging and helping his brother to persevere, he probably would not have made it to the finishing line in that race. They had persevered in training before and they persevered in the race to make it to the finish line. There would have been no celebration of finishing the race, but probably a sense of failure and discouragement.

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As Christians, we are involved in even a more important race to finish well. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews in the Bible encourages to run the race with endurance, fixing our eyes on Jesus (Hebr. 12:1-2), because there is inexpressible joy ahead. Let us get rid off everything us that hinders us to finish the race well and be able to say with Paul: “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim. 4:7). Let us encourage the children, staff and people we work with to keep going and run the race with endurance because there will be joy, not just instant, pleasure-seeking gratification, but pure joy.

What keeps you from running the race with perseverance? In which areas of your life do you need perseverance? In which areas do you need discernment whether to give them up or persevere? What is a goal worth persevering for? What might help you to persevere? Who can you encourage to persevere?

 

Susanne Koch – Manager of Excellence and Innovation

Kick London on Christmas

We took some time out to ask our staff what they believe about Christmas, what it means to them, and how they’ll be spending the festive period!

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Why do you as a Christian celebrate Christmas?

I celebrate it because I believe that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. So his arrival is important for me. (Joe L)

Because it’s a time to celebrate that Jesus came down to earth as the light of the world to save us. It’s the beginning of the life of the greatest man there ever was, so I feel like we should make sure we celebrate it as much as possible! (Robbie S)

That Jesus is born is such a comfort! (Susanne K)

We have a hope and His name is Jesus. Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus and our saviour entering this world. We celebrate together, as family, as friends and there is a wonderful sense of joy and togetherness. As Christians, it goes beyond the gifts and gatherings and is a time of celebration of the hope that is Jesus. (Jon S)

I celebrate Christmas as it is a day to celebrate the birth of Jesus who went on to be the most incredible man in history and my personal saviour. Jesus helps me every day and having a relationship with him has completely changed my life and therefore it is extra special that I celebrate this on Christmas Day. (Becci L)

I celebrate Christmas as it’s the time that I remember Jesus who is my saviour, was born. (Simon J)

The whole message of the Gospel is that we can’t achieve God’s love by works or deeds. At Christmas time, we hear the story of God giving His greatest gift to the world. (Andy D)

 

What’s so important about Jesus?

To borrow the words of my favourite carol: “Born that man no more may die, Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth” (Alex S)

Without relationship with Jesus I wouldn’t know God, without Jesus I wouldn’t have a purpose, without Jesus I would never see heaven. (Joe L)

I think it’s the fact that He gave everything for us. He lived his life the way He did so that we could see how it’s done perfectly; He is example we should follow. (Robbie S)

He came into this world for you. He came to serve and not be served. He came to bring us hope and set us free. (Jon S)

He is the answer to mankind’s problem, sin. (Hans S)

Jesus life, death and resurrection are important because it is the basis of my faith; that Gods justice for my sins was paid by his own, sin-free, son is amazing grace! It allows me to be seen as sin-free even though I am far from that. (Simon J)

Jesus is God’s redemption for mankind, in the flesh. Without Jesus, there is no redemption, and no hope. (Andy D)

 

Why do we need to recognise Jesus’ birth?

I think realising that Jesus is God yet became human, is important and something you really have to think about to understand. (Kabuki J)

Without Jesus, no salvation, no hope, no forgiveness of sin, no comfort, no consolation! (Susanne K)

Aside from dying on the cross, He changed the world in other ways and brought about good teaching, but ultimately he was the answer for our separation with God the creator of the World. (Hans S)

We recognise this because without Jesus I cannot have a relationship with God like I do and for me that is worth celebrating.  (Simon J)

 

How will you be spending Christmas day?

I will hopefully be volunteering at a homeless shelter for the morning of Christmas, serving food and socialising with the people that come to the shelter. Then I will spend the rest of the day with family, eating and being in good company!! (Kabuki J)

Opening presents, eating loads of food with our 3 kids and my 3 sisters and their partners and kids. Can’t wait! (Joe L)

I’ll be spending it my family in Brockenhurst, in the New Forest. As I’m getting married next year it’ll be the last time we are just the 5 of us before Jessie joins the family, so we will make the most of being together as just us! (Robbie S)

Eating, going for a walk, hanging out with nephews and nieces. (Susanne K)

Christmas day for me is about as traditional as they come. I will have travelled across to Devon to be with my extended family, before being woken up on the day by excited cousins, nieces and nephews before building/ playing with whatever Father Christmas got them. Then traditional Christmas lunch, Queens speech, nap, playing football with the kids and then leftovers, before a helping of food coma regret. It is more English than it is Christian but just being family together is in itself an expression of Christ’s love. (Peter B)

I will be spending Christmas opening presents followed by a great breakfast. I will then go off to church for a short service to celebrate the birth of Jesus and everything he has done since. We will then gather with family to celebrate and have a huge dinner. (Becci L)

I will be at church for a bit of the morning to celebrate with my church family. After that I have no idea as I’m am soon to become and uncle so depending when that happens everything could change!! (Simon J)

 

What is your favourite part of Christmas?

I think it may be the time I get to spend with my family, as well as the food!  (Kabuki J)

A Christmas movie in the evening of Christmas Day. (Joe L)

Christmas dinner! I mean pigs in blankets, that is two of my favourite foods, wrapped round each other; ideal! Plus I love the fact we all eat together, being a family that now all live all over the place, it’s great to have time together!  (Robbie S)

Celebrating with the people I care about the most and eating too much food! (Matt R)

It doesn’t matter how old you are, the eager expectation on Christmas Eve is one like that of no other! If you can sleep through the night and not wake up, stare at you alarm clock and think ‘how is it not morning yet?!’ then you’ve done something that I never have and somehow probably never will! However this is one thing that I don’t want to change. The hope and excitement about Christmas means that this truly is a time worth celebrating. (Jon S)

Being around family and experiencing joy and good will. It is such a great time to be thankful, thankful for all God has given us, for all of the people around us and for all we know He will do. (Becci L)

This year it has been reading the Bible to my son and seeing him pray for others. (Hans S)

The food – both because I like eating and it brings people together. Eating with family and friends is great! (Simon J)

 

What is your favourite Christmas Carol, and why?

Hark the Herald Angels Sing! It has so many lines that describe the beauty and mystery of what we are celebrating! I also enjoy singing it! (Alex S)

‘Be born in me’ by Francessca Battistelli, it’s not really a Carol, it’s just a beautiful Christmas song! I love slow songs and her voice is beautiful, it is basically a song from the perspective of Mary and how she may have felt while being pregnant with Jesus! (Kabuki J)

Oh Holy Night. I love the approach to fall on your knees before the Creator and Redeemer of all things. (Joe L)

I love ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ mainly as I remember singing it next to my mum in church and she always used to sing the descant, and I remember trying to copy her with my sisters! (Robbie S)

Hark the Herald Angels Sing! It’s an absolute classic but it also sounds great in a contemporary style. I belt it out, and the Holy Spirit delights in it! (Peter B)

Joy to the World – such an upbeat, positive and catchy song! (Matt R)

So, it isn’t really a carol but I will share anyway. The best song of all time (ha!) has to be the soundtrack from The Nativity! It is so fun! (Becci L)

Mary Did You Know? – I like the upbeat tune and the story it conveys through song. (Hans S)

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – because it tells the story of Jesus birth but also touches upon the impact on us! And is fun to sing it as well! (Simon J)

Hark the Herald Angels Sing! – A song you can really belt out, and also holds a lot of theological truth! (Andy D)

 

What Bible verse best sums up Christmas for you?

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
    one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
    from ancient times.”

Micah 5:2 (Hans S)

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah 9:6 (Simon J)

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

Luke 1:30-33 (Kabuki J and Andy D)

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

John 1:1-5 (Peter B and Matt R)

“When they saw the star they Rejoiced”

Matthew 2:10 (Robbie S)

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16 (Alex S)

 

What is your favourite Christmas Carol lyric?

Pleased as man with man to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel! (Alex S)

Born that man no more may die, Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth, Hark! The herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King!” (Peter B)

Mary did you know that your baby boy will some day walk on water? Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters? (Hans S)

Remember Christ our Saviour
Was born on Christmas Day
To save us all from Satan’s pow’r
When we were gone astray (Simon J)

Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Soul felt it’s worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. (Andy D)

What is your Christmas wish for this year?

My wish is to be able to help and serve others and that they can find love and joy in life from God; especially through serving at the homeless shelter! (Kabuki J)

That more people would know the Lord and have time with their families. (Joe L)

My family and relatives to understand the real meaning of Christmas. (Susanne K)

My Christmas wish is simply that my essay will be written before it’s deadline! (Peter B)

Heard a statistic recently that £450 billion gets spent on Christmas each year, whereas it would take £10 billion a year for everyone around the world to have clean water. How amazing would it be if nobody went thirsty?! (Matt R)

That at my church carol service that my family would be affected by the message – even better be saved! (Becci L)

People would know that Jesus is the answer to this world’s problems, of which there seem to be many at the moment! (Hans S)

That the peace and love of God would be given to the world this Christmas, the same way it was when He gave us Jesus (Andy D).

 

Have you been impacted by this article? Are there things that have been said that you’d like to discuss? Please feel free to comment on any of our social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) or e-mail us, office@kicklondon.org.uk. We’d love to hear from you, whether it is feedback, encouragement, questions, or a desire to know more about Jesus and Christianity.

We at Kick London would like to wish you a blessed Christmas period, and are praying that the peace of God will fill your home at this time of year!

With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility

As we go about our daily lives, we can’t escape responsibilities. Even on the odd day off and we get the chance to relax in bed, we still find ourselves faced with the duty to keep ourselves fed (and if you’re like me, that usually involves unhealthy food). Growing up, I loved watching superhero films. Spiderman was one of those films (the Tobey Maguire ones), and possibly my favourite quote on responsibility comes from this film. Ben Parker turns to Peter (Spiderman) and says “with great power, comes great responsibility.” Whichever way we go about our day, at some point we will be dealing with a responsibility.

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This happens especially in sport, responsibility pops up over and over again. It’s a bowler’s responsibility to get the batter out in cricket, or in football it’s the striker’s responsibility to put the ball in the back of the net (which in Harry Kane’s case happens a lot), the list could go on and on. Yet every sportsman and woman has one common responsibility – as a role model.

Being able to play sport is a gift, but being able to play sport professionally is a whole new level. Imagine all those eyes watching on as you step up to take a penalty must be so nerve racking. But professionals are making the most of the gift they have been given to play sport to the best of their ability, and we have that same responsibility.

Now you may be thinking ‘but I don’t play sport professionally!’ which is probably what I would be thinking as well, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a gift. We have all been given a different gift, whether that’s playing sport, being a teacher or coach, being able to make people laugh. You could probably list plenty yourself, but what’s most important is how we use those gifts we’ve been given.

We can be quick to shy away from taking responsibility and using the gifts we’ve been given. We can hide behind the crowd and hope that we’re not picked when somebody asks for a job to be done. We try to abandon our responsibility. The story of Jonah is a great example of this, he chose to run away from his responsibilities that God had given him instead of facing them.

Now I’m not suggesting you’re going to be eaten by a whale if you run from responsibility, but we’re encouraged by God to use our gifts that have been given to us. Romans 12: 6-8 puts this perfectly: ‘We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith. If it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.’

We are uniquely, fearfully and wonderfully made exactly how God wants us to be. As Christians we believe God has a plan for our lives, and that involves the gifts that have been given to us.

So how can you use the gift that you have been given by God? Could you step to the front instead of hiding behind others? Whether you know what your gift is or not, we have been given the responsibility to use it in the best way we can, using it to serve each other and to be role models.  Most importantly, remember that with great power, comes great responsibility.

Eating Elephants (Diligence)

“How do you eat an elephant? One bit at a time”.

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One of my Dad’s favourite quotes is a constant reminder as I navigate my way through this gift of life. From GCSE’s to ballet exams to University deadlines. Small goals with a healthy awareness of the bigger goal is vital in progression, and we are not alone in this, as Jesus is guiding us along the way and filling us with hope in each step we take.

Every day I hear moans of deadlines, worries of work loads, concern for the future. Being in my third and final year of University brings its challenges, looming deadlines and an ever-growing concern of an expanse of time that will be opened to us after that exciting graduation day. It is far too easy to get caught up in a ball of worry and a desire to pause time, just for a little while, till I’ve worked out what I want to do: what my passion is, where I see myself in a year’s time. Yet this never seems to motivate me, and although it’s good to take time to pause, to reflect, to ask for advice from others, keeping a greater focus on smaller, more manageable goals, allows me to keep my head down and do my best. But I cannot do this by myself, by praying before I embark on my day, on the work that I need to do, I give my day to God and I am able to enjoy learning, researching, finding out new ideas. The deadlines become less stressful and more of an opportunity to discover. This is a rather idyllic view of it all, and it doesn’t happen as smoothly as this every day. But I know that when I’ve had a productive session, and worked well, God is with me, and He is just as much with me when I’ve barely done a thing, and feel deflated at the lack of progress I have made. God is always by my side, helping me out in the big tasks and the small.

As I keep going, bit by bit, I progress each day towards an exciting adventure that is constantly unfolding in front of me. Adventure: a fun way to view a task, suggesting an exploration, that doesn’t have to result in success, but moves, meanders and finds out. A path of discovery. Diligence keeps you on this adventure. Each step is a step in the right direction, no matter how slow or small that step is, if it’s moving forward, closer to your big goal, your ambition, then that is one mighty step indeed!

The definition of Diligence, is ‘careful and persistent work or effort’ (English Oxford Living Dictionaries, 2017). I love that ‘careful’ and ‘persistent’ feature. It guides a thoughtful approach that enables you to reach your goal. As a dancer, I cannot reach a performance level overnight, it takes years and years of classes, strengthening, stretching. The phrase ‘No pain, no gain’ is a frequent thought. And yet, with each stretch, each class, I am getting closer to being on stage. Even choreographing breath is required, each detail needs to be rehearsed and reviewed, each refined detail is a step in the adventure of performing. Pointe work, in ballet, for example, is a milestone in a ballet dancers career, however advanced he or she may be. Trying on my first pointe shoes was such a joy filled experience, I had done it! Yet, before this momentous day, we had carried out years of pliés, rises, footwork, strengthening my ankles, my feet, ensuring that I was ready. Without these steps, my pointework would have been weak and dangerous to have attempted with possibilities of twisted ankles and crooked toes. But because of each step along the way, I was able to get stronger at pointework. We waited so long to get there but it was such fun when we reached it, when we achieved our goal.

Such a persistence is shown time and time again by Jesus and His disciples, throughout His life. A key example is in Luke 5: 1-12, when Jesus taught the people on the shore from Simon’s boat. After Jesus had spoken, He told Simon to ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch’ (Luke 5: 4). Simon responded by saying ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let the nets’ (Luke 5: 5). ‘When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.’ (Luke 5:6). Simon had been fishing all night and had not caught any fish, yet Jesus shows that you should never give up, keep going. If we trust in Him, he provides and he helps us to keep going, to stay on track towards our goal, to try another time to put our nets out even when we’re tired and only have a little faith. It highlights perseverance from Simon, that he had been waiting all night to catch fish, and yet, although he did not think fish would be caught, he still put the nets out one more time, as Jesus said, and fish were provided, in abundance. His perseverance resulted in achieving his goal.

Even when it seems really hard to keep going and the goal seems so far away, we must never give up. Every step, however small or slow, is a step in the right direction, and a step that we are taking with Jesus by our side holding a torch, guiding the way. Jesus never gives up on us, no matter how many times we do something wrong, make the wrong decision, give up. He forgives us when we say sorry and we get to try again! What an incredible truth!

 

Tasha Sauer

Dance Coach

The Gratitude Revolution

Could saying a simple ‘thank you’ revolutionise your life? You are searching for ultimate happiness, something to provide satisfaction and fulfilment in your life. What if I told you, you already have access to a wonderful key to unlock a brighter and new way of living?

‘Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home and a stranger into a friend’. – Melody Beattie

I’m sure you have had drilled into you the importance of saying your ‘please’ and ‘thank yous’. We are quick to teach children this courtesy but it becomes something most of us do without thinking. I mean, I’m sure it isn’t just me who has ended up having those awkward conversations where you are just thanking each other for thanking you. Or those times you end up saying thank you after someone has apologised and then you realise you are thanking someone for their mistake (What, how did that happen?!)

I am certainly guilty of my ‘thanks-giving’ not always being ‘thanks-feeling’ – my response is often just an empty expression of words and not a heart response. Most of us would agree that we are good at genuinely showing gratitude when someone pays for our coffee or does us a favour, but do we thank someone when the situation doesn’t go how we planned, or in our ‘boring’ routine of the everyday?

The problem is we can’t force ourselves to be thankful – genuine thankfulness is not willed, but experienced! As we become aware of all the good things around us, our hearts start to become thankful for them and we notice little things that are full of joy! When we pay attention we experience the little moments and gifts that life has to offer us – the smell of coffee in the morning, the pretty light reflections on the floor as the sun shines through the window, the colours that creep into the leaves as Autumn comes, the time spent sharing deep friendships and laughing until your stomach hurts.

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How many of these little moments pass us by as we fall into the normality of life? We repeat our daily routines; wake up, travel to work on the tube in a zombie-like state desperately trying to avoid acknowledging the strangers around us when we could be awake to the colourful life that is available to us. According to research, cultivating gratitude can lead to a happier, healthier, more energetic, more relaxed, less self-centred, more productive you. And who doesn’t want to be a new and improved version of themselves?

I love hosting parties. I’m not talking about a wild-night-out kind of party but there is something so fulfilling about celebrating. The spirit of celebration expresses itself in get-togethers, in times of laughter with good friends and sharing a meal. But I am a huge believer that we don’t need an occasion to celebrate. Celebration shows itself in little moments of grace and as Christians our lives are overflowing with grace. In fact even our ability to feel thankful and see God’s goodness in our lives is a work of grace because we can’t make ourselves feel it. So how do we live with a spirit of thankfulness as an everyday attitude

According to Colossians 2:7 thankfulness is something that should mark us apart as followers of Jesus. When we start to realise that every new day, every breath is a gift from our Creator, thankfulness will explode in our lives. When we start to infuse thanksgiving right where we are, in that boring every day routine that sometimes makes us feel trapped, we are bringing a piece of heaven down to earth. When we remember that we are forgiven continuously we can be thankful despite the circumstances. When we appreciate the faithfulness of God and the little blessings he fills our lives with we experience joy regularly. When we follow Jesus’ example living with a freedom to enjoy God’s favour we glorify him more fully. When we understand we have a grace-filled story, a story with a purpose, a true story of thanksgiving, we can’t help but overflow with gratitude.

If you’re anything like me you will roll your eyes at all the inspirational stick-it-on-a-mug quotes that are popular nowadays – ‘Think happy, be happy’. But there is truth in the theory that the way we think and act today determines how we feel and the person we become. Now I will happily admit that despite being what most people consider a sporty person, I am not the best at running for longer than (let’s say) 10 minutes. But I have discovered that it isn’t ever about whether my body can stand it but whether I can convince my mind to keep going…

What if you made the decision right now that you are going to challenge yourself to wake up each morning with a grateful heart and be determined that you will find 5 things today to be thankful for? I challenge you today, whether you believe in the Bible or not, to try making gratitude a priority and see if you find what Jesus says to be true!

Phebe Wells – Kick London Staff Coach

You Sunk My Battleship! (Aspiration)

Battleship

September is a month where anybody associated with schools is looking ahead at another year of development for themselves or a child they know. Many are looking at what they could possibly achieve. They are planning for something better than they currently know and their hope of achievement signals their aspirational intent.

My Aspiration for the year is to help my mentees reach their potential and achieve their aspirations. Naturally I prepare by reading their referrals and considering mentoring methods…

But there is something missing …

So, it’s 11pm on a Sunday evening and I am raiding my loft looking for the games of my childhood that might inspire the next generation of children.

Then it hits me in the face… Battleships literally fell off the self and hit me between the eyes. This game could be the perfect way to get young people to understand targets and goals. What if two ships were removed. What if the remaining three ships, resembled the goals we have for ourselves – the goal for today (the destroyer – smallest ship), the goal for the month of September (the Submarine), The goal for the next year or when we grow up (if we ever decide to!) (the Aircraft Carrier). The hope we have in battleships is that our ships (or in this case goals) remain intact and unaffected by the enemy.

This then goes beyond a game of battleships and becomes a game of seeking to discover the goals of the person opposite and the kind of things that might destroy/ damage their chances of achieving those goals. The kinds of things that start to make us give up hope of achieving our goals. Hope in what can be achieved keeps us aspirational, when hopelessness leaves us unmotivated and uninspired through an overwhelming feeling of sunkenness.

One mentee (who for safeguarding sake will be called Billy) has the aspiration of becoming a world-famous runner or boxer and can identify the goals needed to get him to that place. Billy can be described as aspirational, when another mentee (George) struggles to aspire to complete a goal even in his next lesson. However, both are in danger of being sunk.

For Billy’s aspiration is wrapped up in the opinions of other people. There are extremely successful boxers and runners who aren’t world famous. Iwan Thomas is a European Gold medallist in the 400 metres but it took him starving on an island in the Pacific Ocean with Bear Grylls, before I could recognise who he was. You could argue that he was more famous when he won his medal in 1998 but that simply means that unless Billy reaches the heights of Usain Bolt or appears in a variety of TV shows, his achievement of his aspiration is likely to be short lived or remain unachieved. A shorter-term goal of his was to lose weight because of the way he looked in the mirror. Billy made me realise that whilst it is great to be aspirational, it can also be damaging if what we aspire to achieve creates negativity.

What if Billy aspired to being successful rather than world famous? This success could be qualified and the achievement basked in. What if Billy aimed to become fitter to make playing sports more enjoyable, rather than losing weight to be aesthetically pleasing? What would be the benefit emotionally if he had positive aspirations rather than negative aspirations?

In asking myself these questions, to help Billy, I was forced to face my own aspirations. I aspire to be valued by people in my life, I aspire to lose weight to become aesthetically pleasing to myself and others (and truthfully always have), and I aspire to be a better version of myself in a year’s time than I am now. People, and their opinions, come and go, weight is gained and lost, and if I am always wanting to be better, then how can I ever be happy with how I am now? These aspirations. The hope of achieving these goals, has led me to many a dark hour and many negative decisions.

Then comes the stark realisation than none of these aspirations are what God wants for my life or anybody else’s life. God did not make human kind in order that we be valuable and pleasing to each other. God did not make human kind so that we should sit in the dark oppressed by the expectations and pressures of this world. No… as Paul writes:

“You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:5-9

Paul writes about the day when Jesus will return and the difference between those who are saved and those who are not in a relationship with the living God. But this theme extends to how to live life. On that day, what will be your most important achievement? How will your six pack look in comparison to the light of Christ? Will it matter? Will fame save any person? Will money buy a Lamborghini spaceship that can reach heaven?

No, the most important aspiration is achieving a loving relationship with Jesus Christ. As a result, we should set ourselves goals that strengthen this relationship. If you need a place to start, Jesus (in Matthew 22: 37-38) gives us two important goals:

“’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’”

It is time for me to go and reassess my aspirations. Which of your aspirations need adjusting to result in positive decisions and goals? Which of your aspirations align with God’s hope for your life?

Peter Brooks

Sports Coach & Mentor | Kick London

Our Only Hope

As my Year 2’s walked towards the hall for their gymnastics lesson the other day, their eyes lit up, and the excited chatter started.

I had set up the climbing frames, ladders, mats, horses, and everything else! It looked like a big adventure playground. They had not yet had a go on it, but they couldn’t wait. They had hope.

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Hope is all about expectation in the unknown. Hope is about our desires and ambitions. Hope is excitement without guarantee.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The young people were hoping for a good lesson. The young people were hoping to have fun! Perhaps in our own lives we put our hope in our football team having a good season. We hope to win a trophy. We may hope for a new job, a relationship or a holiday! Hope can often be the driving force that keeps us motivated and keeps us pressing on.

Hope is the polar opposite of despair. Hope is the one thing that keeps us going, and in our despair, we must still have hope. When we lose hope, we can end up utterly deflated and demotivated. Some of the young people I work with as I mentor have lost their sense of hope. They don’t believe they can achieve; they fear failure; they see no way out of their troubled situations.

It seems that in recent times, we have woken up each morning to tragedy in our news. Terrorism, natural disasters, accidental death. Even in 2016, so many popular celebrities died, there became a sense of “Who next?!”

It has lead to an ever increasing fear in society, of what will we be waking up to tomorrow? Whereas in the past, people would have an attitude of “Well, it can’t possibly happen to me!”, we are now experiencing a time of “This is getting very close to home. Will I, or my loved ones, be on the next tragic news report”. The hope of society has begun to dwindle.

One of my favourite books is “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” by Stephen King. Many of you may have seen the movie, but I can assure you, the book is better! The whole theme of the book is hope among despair.

For those who don’t know, two lifetime inmates, Andy and Red, strike up a friendship in Shawshank Penitentiary, and often ponder on leaving the prison and their hope for their life and friendship outside the walls of the prison.

There are a few select quotes which really cover the idea of hope in the midst of despair:

“Remember that hope is a good thing, Red, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” – Andy Dufresne

“I find I’m so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it’s the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.” – Red

As Christian’s, we believe that hope comes through faith in Jesus. That while the world may suffer, that in a coming time, all oppression, pain, suffering, sickness and death will come to an end because Jesus has conquered all of these things by his resurrection from death.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭15:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The quote by Red in the Shawshank Redemption speaks of a man who has known trial, and is awaiting paradise. Awaiting all the good things that have been promised to him. Awaiting joy in his new freedom. This resonates to me as a Christian, in the sense of knowing times of despair, desperation and loneliness, but then to find joy in Jesus, the only hope.

“The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;”
‭‭Lamentations‬ ‭3:25‬ ‭NIV‬‬

There are many times in life where we can lose hope, lose faith, lose confidence and doubt things which at times we were sure of. The political and social climate of the world can make us wonder if things will ever be right again. In our own strength, or by human hand, situations can often seem bleak. We are in a position of despair.

However, with a faith in Jesus, we can have hope.

Kick London Team Triathlon 2017 Review

The Team Triathlon was a challenge that Kick London fully embraced; one which epitomises the very word ‘Team’.

On Saturday 10th June, Kick London dared to take on an Olympic Distance Triathlon in Teams of Three. Friends and Family, Staff and Trustees were all part of this Team effort. A total of over 50 participants.

Some being brave (others say crazy!) taking on all three disciplines whilst others completing at least one discipline including a 1.5k Swim, 40k Cycle and finished with a 10k Run.

All of our efforts were completed with one vision in mind ‘To see young people’s lives transformed with God’s love through Sport’. The Team Triathlon formed Kick London’s primary fundraising campaign in which the money raised supports us in our vision to reaching more communities across London and seeing stories of lives transformed.

The day Kicked off with the Swim Briefings at Pools on the Park in Richmond. None other than Joe Lowther got us underway with a prayer, and a much needed one at that! Meanwhile, the triathletes had their own briefing as they prepared for the challenge in front of them!

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So it was time for the 1.5k Swim to begin. With glorious sunshine, the 33m outdoor pool proved to be a popular option with Kick London taking over a number of lanes with what can only be described as some ‘interesting’ swimming strokes! The 1.5k Swim was a huge success and we all survived with no armbands to be seen!!!

As part 1 was complete, the Triathletes grabbed their towels and dashed to grab their cycling gear. However, we can’t progress without recognising Ross Cursitter’s unbelievable efforts in racing to a time of 27.09 minutes!

So the 40k Cycle got underway at Richmond Park, Richmond Gate to be precise. A gruelling 3.5 laps of Richmond Park’s toughest laps faced us. Highlights include Tom and Michelle Rutter’s tandem efforts…. absolute heroes! With the road bikes and mountain bikes setting off at the same time, I certainly know which bike had the advantage on this surface…. road bikes!!!! Each Cyclist got over the hills and made it through. Neil Brewster did this in fine fashion clocking an impressive time of 1 hour 33 minutes to claim the fastest 40k Cycle time.

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Whilst the Cyclists crossed the finish line the runners braced themselves for their 10k Run. This would be two 5k laps from Richmond Gate to Richmond Gate. The runners got off to a flying start as the sun beat down on us. By this point the triathletes were tiring, or maybe that was just me… and I’m not sure the word ‘tired’ even comes close to describing how I truly felt! At least it seemed that way as the fresh faced runners cruised past my tiresome efforts.

The finish line was in sight and so were the 10k runners. Whether participants crossed over line like gazelles (Phil Coales – 37.14 minutes) or whether they stumbled across the line, our vision remained our motivation ‘to see young people’s lives transformed’.

And there it was, the finish line. With each participant cheered on to the very end, the Team environment grew stronger and stronger.

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The Team effort is reflected in some stats for you:
As a Team, we Swam over 33km!
As a Team, we Cycled over 880km!
As a Team we Ran over 340km!
That’s a total of 1253km in one afternoon!!!

After a much needed rest we gathered ourselves and headed to the Roebuck Pub overlooking the beautiful Richmond Hill on a fine summers evening. A presentation evening followed which was a chance to celebrate everyone’s incredible efforts. In typical Kick London style, this was a real time of connecting and gathering as a Team.

The triathlon efforts were completed, the fundraising campaign was well underway but the vision is alive and growing.

You can contribute in supporting us in achieving our vision by giving via the link below:

http://m.virginmoneygiving.com/mt/uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charity-web/charity/displayCharityCampaignPage.action?charityCampaignUrl=teamtriathlon&un_jtt_redirect

Event Video:

 

Blog by Jonathan Sanders

 

The Manager’s Son

I want to share a story with you that a few of you may even relate to. This is a story about a football manager and his players.

 

Now first of all, I just want to get a gauge of how successful you’ve been in your footballing life. Have you ever scored a goal? Assisted a goal? Have made a tackle or a save?

 

In fact, every single reader who has played football should be able to answer yes to these questions, because every single one of you has played a part in your teams success in your footballing life.

 

Now, how many of you have never made a single mistake on the football pitch? If every shot you have had has been a goal. If every pass you have played has found the right player. If every tackle you have gone for has been completed? I take it we’re not answering yes to these questions any more!

 

This is the story of a manager that demanded perfection from his players. He wanted every shot his strikers had to be goal and every shot his keepers faced to be a save. He wanted every header to be won, and every pass to be completed. He wanted perfection.

 

Now, in real life, this simply can’t happen. We all make mistakes. When you look at the pass completion stats, even Iniesta fails to have 100%. When you look at goals to shots ratio’s, even Messi misses from time to time.

 

The manager called his players into his room, and told them his plans for perfection. They all looked at one another, a little confused. They were all good players, with great stats, and couldn’t understand the manager’s way of thinking. Worse than this, the manager revealed the consequence to them; unless they achieved perfection, they were all going to have their contracts terminated.

 

Each player reacted in a different way. The first player lost faith in the manager. “He has no idea what he’s talking about”, he grumbled, “You know what, forget him. I’m going to do what I want. I’ll play my game, take my shots, play my passes, and who cares if I make mistakes. He can’t tell me what to do”.

 

The second player considered a different approach. “You know, I’m not so bad. Well, not as bad as some of the other players in my position. If I point out every time they make a mistake, perhaps the manager will overlook my mistakes. I don’t make nearly as many as them!”

 

The third player went straight to the training field. “I have to work! The harder I train, the better I’ll get. The coach is right, I do miss too many shots, and I do misplace too many passes. Maybe if I get even better, he’ll just forget that he wants perfection. Surely he just wants us all to be a little better!”

 

The fourth player went to the pitch and sat in the middle of the centre circle. “It’s over”, he thought, “In my own strength, there is nothing I can do to achieve perfection; literally nothing”.

Slumped

If you’ll forgive me for interrupting the story at this pivotal half way stage, I want to draw some parallels. This story is a metaphor for spiritual life. Did you know, God is so holy, that He can’t deal with any less than perfection? And while He may not care about our misplaced passes, He definitely cares about our misplaced words, and misdirected anger. In fact, God hates sin. He loves us all, but He hates our mistakes. And when we are honest with ourselves, we all make mistakes.

 

Now our reaction to this news can be like that of our four players:

 

Either we think we’re good enough, God is wrong, and we simply don’t care.

 

Perhaps we look at others, and think its ok, because we aren’t as bad as them.

 

Maybe we consider that if we do enough good things, God will forget our bad things.

 

Or maybe a few of us today are feeling like the fourth player…lost, confused, alone. Not quite knowing what it would ever take to please a God who demands perfection.

 

I’d like to now kick off the second half of the story, because right now, the news is bleak. We’re looking at four footballers who’s contracts are about to be cancelled. None of them have the right idea about how to solve the problem, but maybe the manager himself has a solution.

 

The manager sat in his chair, and considered an idea. He could always do a bit of a swap; a substitution, if you will. He had a son. Not only did his son play for the team, but his son was the perfect player that he desired all his other players to be. His son never made a mistake, his son never missed a tackle, his son always played the right pass. And when he got in front of goal, he always scored. Perfect.

 

And this was the manager’s plan: If his son could get the other players to agree to it, they could have his stats sheet, and he’d take theirs. Of course, the manager’s son would have his contract cancelled, but in exchange, those players would have his son’s perfect stats; the perfect swap.

 

So the manager sent his son to each of the players. The son approached the first player. “What do you want?!” the first player moaned.

“To make a trade”, the son said. “My dad has said you can keep your contract. All you have to do is agree to take my stats sheet. It’s all 100%, and I’ll leave the club. All you have to do is accept.”

“No chance!” the first player shot back, “Your father is a fool. I don’t want to play for him anyway. I’m a good player, and if he doesn’t recognise that, we’re better off apart”.

 

The son approached the second player, and again, shared his father’s idea of the trade.

“Well, that’s all well and good, but just look at all these other players! They’re useless! They’ll get the chop far sooner than me! I’ll be alright! I’m a good player!”

 

The son went to the third player, again, sharing the manager’s idea of the trade.

“Well, that’s very generous of you, but don’t worry about it! I’m working hard, and I’ll be fine! I have no doubt your dad will be so impressed by my efforts, he’ll be lenient with me!”

 

This was not going how the son had planned; not at all. That’s when he stumbled upon the fourth player, sitting quietly in the centre circle. He looked up, recognising the manager’s son instantly. “Ah, it’s good to see you. I was hoping to bump into you. Did you hear what happened?”

“Yes”, said the manager’s son, “But my dad has come up with an idea; a trade.” The manager’s son explained his idea.

“So you’re telling me”, the fourth player said, “that I don’t have to do anything. I just have to accept his offer, and I can keep my contract”.

“Exactly,” said the manager’s son, “and here’s the kicker: Whether you accept the offer or not, my contract will be terminated anyway. However, the more people that accept the offer, the better, right?”

 

Let’s pause the story for a moment, and consider what God is saying to us through this story. God is saying that He knows that we will never be perfect. However, because He loves us so much, He is willing to trade His son’s perfection for our imperfection. And it is not dependant on how good or bad we are, it is not dependant on how hard we try or how hard we work, the only thing we have to do is accept the offer.

 

The key message of this story is that God is full of grace! What that means is, that there is nothing we can do that is so bad that God will love us any less. And equally, there is no work or efforts we can make that will make God love us any more. The only condition of God’s grace is that we accept that we make mistakes, that we accept that God’s son, Jesus, was perfect and that He took our consequence when He died on the cross. In return, God will see us as perfect, the way Jesus was, and we can have a relationship with Him.

 

The story of the manager’s son does have an ending. However, I cannot tell you whether the fourth player accepted the manager’s offer. That’s because that fourth player, is you.

 

You have a choice to accept the manager’s offer. You have a choice today to hear this message and get right with God. We learnt in this story that there is nothing we can do in our own power to get right with God. However, if we believe that Jesus died in our place, for our mistakes, God will forgive us, and we can enter into a relationship with Him, because He loves us. Right now, God is asking you if you will make that choice for Him.

 

Wherever you are, bow your head, close your eyes, or do whatever it is you do to quieten your heart and focus on God, and just consider the message you have just read.

 

If you want to respond to that challenge, and accept God’s grace, pray this prayer:

 

Dear Lord,

I thank you that you are a gracious God,

I thank you that nothing good I do can make you love me more,

And I thank you that nothing bad I do can make you love me less.

I thank you that you take me just as I am.

I want to say sorry for the times I have made mistakes,

The times I haven’t been perfect, and the times I have not done the right thing,

I thank you that you can forgive me.

I welcome you into my life now,

Help me to do what is right,

As I turn away from what I know is wrong,

I ask all these things in your Son, Jesus’ name,

Amen.

 

 

If you prayed that prayer for the very first time, and you want to talk to someone more about what that means, or maybe what you should do next, please contact us through the website, on our Facebook page, or through Twitter – One of our Kick London staff, will contact you, and assist you with any questions you may have. Perhaps even speak to the person who introduced you to Kick London, the person who shared this blog, or the Kick London coach that you know. But if you prayed that prayer for the first time, be sure to speak to a Christian influence in your life, and be open about the decision you have just made!

 

 

God bless you, and thanks for reading!

The End of a Season?

As the Football season drew to it’s exhilarating climax with the Champions League Final, it’s a great time to reflect on what has been a great season of entertainment.

Britain Soccer Football - Juventus v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Final - The National Stadium of Wales, Cardiff - June 3, 2017 Real Madrid celebrate with the trophy after winning the UEFA Champions League Final Reuters / Pool Pic / UEFA Livepic NO ARCHIVE, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Chelsea were runaway leaders for most of the season (but the bottled the opportunity to win a double); Arsenal took the FA cup again (but appear to have made zero progress in four years); Crystal Palace battled bravely against relegation (a fight they were too good to be involved with in the first place); West Ham finished in mid-table (despite only playing well once this season); and Spurs put the pressure on.

Joking, wind-ups and banter aside, the beginning and end of the football season each year is very neatly book-ended. We have the Community Shield to kick off proceedings (and the European Champions Cup for the big boys!) and then the FA cup final and the Champions League Final to allow everyone the opportunity to breathe a sigh of relief and move on…

…well, move on to the silly season of the transfer window, a ridiculous money spinning world tour, or an International Championship.

Seasons in football (or perhaps any other sport, be in golf, tennis, Formula One racing, etc) are always neatly packaged affairs. A start date, and end date, every fixture and tournament scheduled and dated in between. No confusions, plenty of time for pre-planning and organization.

If only the seasons of our lives were this neatly packaged. Alas, they are not.

In our lives, we must appreciate that seasons come and go, there are times of prosperity, and times of trial. When we consider our families, our jobs, our relationships, our finances, and even our spiritual walks, there will almost always be a ducking and diving, roller coaster effect. If you could plot a line on a graph, the line would never always be high, nor low.

There are times when we become weary in what we are doing, or things begin to falter. Perhaps we are striving to keep a ministry alive when we are struggling for support, or numbers are dwindling, and you question whether God is even with you in it any more?

Ecclesiastes 3 sums up the seasons of our lives beautifully:

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens”
‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

When we go on to read the rest of the chapter, it goes on to compare polar opposites. For example, there are times to build, and times to destroy. There are times to be silent, and times to speak (I could list them all, but I’d encourage you to read it)!

If you are weary in a season, sometimes it is ok for that season to end. Sometimes it is right to make a fresh start, to try something new, to gain fresh perspective. This is not to say that we should give up easily, but to speak to God earnestly, and seek Him in our decision making, knowing that sometimes, seasons do end.

We must remember that in certain seasons, our work would have produced fruit: love, happiness, joy and blessing, both for ourselves and the people around us. Just because a season is ending, you should still be encouraged! A time may come when a season may come around again, when it is right to try something again that may have ended in the past. But if a season has come to an end (naturally), rejoice in that it existed, and that people were blessed by it!

When seasons do end, do not be discouraged to not try again. Seek God’s guidance in your decision making, and pray that the next thing you do will be a blessing to yourself and to others.

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