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.

What’s your Problem? What’s your Solution? And what happens if you fail?

When I joined Kick London in November 2014 I had to write a fundraising strategy. In doing this you are meant to ask yourself the above 3 questions. So I thought our problem is that children and young people have stopped coming to church in their droves. Today 85% of children in the UK don’t step foot inside a church. In the Church of England of those who do attend – you are more likely to have survived the Titanic than survive being at church from childhood to adulthood.

 

Having prayed about what God wanted us to do we felt He gave us John 9:4 – Jesus said “As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” There is a window of time to reach these young people this is our problem.

 

So what’s our solution to this? Well, we need to go out to them, build relationship and invite them to church. 99.7% of young people are in school – that is where they are. Of the 10 million school-aged children in the UK only 460,000 attend church on a Sunday but 3.3 million play sport on a Sunday. Therefore we need to talk their agenda – sport and why can’t we offer young people both sport and church at the weekend.

 

So we go into schools offering PE National Curriculum, Street Dance and Mentoring provision to engage these kids. All our sessions have a Christian values application such as perseverance, integrity and joy. We are then able to enable local churches to offer extended sport or dance provision at the weekend at a time which complements church. The young people receive coaching, linked to a theme, with an inspirational thought from the Bible at the break before they play matches or if a dance Academy they do routines.

 

It has been our testimony that “God’s work, when done in God’s way, never lacks God’s resources” (Chesterton). In the past 2 years we have seen engagement with our young people grow from 2,500 to 6,300 every week in schools. Our coaches are delivering professional services in 43 schools across London with 25 church based Kick Academies engaging their local young people. We have seen 10% of these young people engage in church through the Kick Academies.

 

The provision is now across 21 Boroughs in London – as far North as Muswell Hill, far South as Epsom, as far West as Sunbury and as far East as Dartford. We want to be ready to continue to grow to meet this problem but we also want to be led by the Lord. It has been a conviction for us as an organisation to sow to alive and not dead works because 1 Cors 3:6  “I, Paul plant, Apollo’s waters, but only God grows.” We want God to do the growth so that a generation of young people are not lost.

 

Joe Lowther, CEO of Kick London

Free Flowing Forgiveness

My recent life at Kick London has been all about mentoring. Mentoring is an area we as a charity have stepped up a lot in recent times, and it is possibly the way we see the most direct impact and transformation among the young people we work with.

 

The role of the mentor is to share wisdom beyond the years of the mentee, to empathise with the situation, and explain what solutions could be used to bring about a more desirable outcome for the mentee.

 

I find the issue I have been working on with my mentee’s recently, is the issues of conflict resolution, and ability to say sorry, and learning how to forgive others.

 

I have found the opposition to some of these is the idea that an apology must be given, before the young person can lavish their foe in forgiveness. But the question I often ask them (and possibly ask you, if you are currently going through a conflict), is “Do you need an apology to forgive?”

 

One of the hardest thing in life is expressing to someone that they have hurt you, but they either don’t acknowledge that you’re actually upset, blow your concerns off because “It was only banter!”, or flat out don’t care about your feelings. None of these situation’s feel particularly nice!

 

A great sporting example of this, was in the Italian league, where Sully Muntari was racially abused by an opponent. When Muntari complained to the official of the racist abuse, Muntari was booked, and when he left the field of play in protest, was sent off. Muntari later had his ban overturned, but admitted his was made to feel like a criminal for being a victim of racism.

 

In the context of this blog, should Muntari expect an apology from the player who abused him? The referee who sent him off? The manager (who effectively told him to toughen up and get on with it)? The Italian FA who turned a blind eye? In each of these instances, no. Probably not. But should Muntari forgive them? And the answer is yes, he should.

 

There are very few things in the world that upset me as much as racism. There are a few I would put on a par with it, or maybe slightly more serious, but this blog may take a dark turn if I started listing those! Alas, I consider racism (both in and out of football) one of the most vile actions in the world. However, if victim’s of racism were to carry the burden of hatred and grudge against those who have abused them, they too would become very heavily burdened and possibly even depressed.

 

We must remember, that as we forgive (and now I am talking generally about any abuse or hurt, not just racism), we are forgiving for the sake of our own health, our own mental well being, our own spirit and soul. We also may have to forgive those we love for the times they have hurt us (and it hurts more when the pain is caused by a loved one), because we value the relationship with that person more than the argument or our own point of view.

 

Ultimately though, we must view our own hurt through the eyes of God. For each time we feel we have been abused, hurt, or sinned against, we must consider the times we have fallen short of the glory of God. Our own abuses and mistakes towards him. The God of the Bible is a God who lavishes forgiveness selflessly, abundantly, and endlessly. A God who would sacrifice His own perfect Son, to give us an eternal forgiveness.

 

Colossians 3:12-13 says:

 

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

 

As you read this now, you may be struggling to forgive someone who has hurt you. Remember:

  • Forgiveness is for you, not for them.
  • Forgiveness is valuing your relationship above your argument.
  • Forgive others as God has forgiven you.

The Victor’s Crown

I recently had the pleasure of refereeing a football match between a school I used to deliver P.E. in, and it’s sister school that I currently deliver P.E. in.

 

Not the most overly daunting task until you factor in that the schools are both Pupil Referal Units, full of young people who have been kicked out of mainstream school for various behaviour issues! With a dash of sporting intensity, a pinch of school rivalry, and the teachers bigging up the bragging rights factor, and all of a sudden, you’re a solitary man, in the middle of 22 emotionally charged young people that you need to control! Most would say “Rather you than me!”, and I can’t disagree!

 

The match, surprisingly went off without a hitch, despite a penalty given against the home side, a dubious off-side goal allowed, a last minute free-kick given on the edge of the box which rattled the cross-bar and a few tasty tackles from either side!

 

The game finished 6-5, with the home side (the school I was currently teaching in) ending up on the losing end of the scoreline.

 

After the game, I had the awkward moment of having to walk back through the school, among the young people I teach, who had just lost, and a few struggling to control their emotions. I can’t say I was well liked, and a few of them were very vocal in expressing how they felt (although their comments are unprintable on this blog!)

 

What I did find extraordinary though, pre and post game, was the attitude of some of the staff:

“How could you give that penalty, don’t you remember where you work?!”

“You couldn’t have just blown up for a foul before they shot, couldn’t you?”

“Why didn’t you give a few more decisions out way?”

(these were actual things said to me, not even paraphrased)

 

The problem with this mentality and attitude, is that winning has taken a priority over the integrity of the game. I’ve come along way in my personal beliefs regarding this (possibly as I’ve got older, winning means less to me), but deep down, I couldn’t enjoy winning a game knowing I’d bent the rules to get there. If I concede a throw in or a corner, and claim the ball never touched me, I’ve lied to gain an advantage. If I’m honest, and my team concede a goal from that throw in or corner, then it’s not my honesty that has cost us a goal, but rather our inability to defend the opponents attack.

 

One of the most famous instances of sporting cheating, is Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal in the quarter finals of the 1986 World Cup finals. For those of you who are unaware of the incident (I am sure you are ALL aware of the incident), Maradona jumped with the goalkeeper, and used his hand to knock the ball past him and into the empty net, claiming that he had used his head. Inexplicably, the referee hadn’t been to Specsavers.

 

The question that is posed in this instance, is that if you couldn’t reach the ball with your head (within the laws of the game), using your hand is outside of the laws of the game, and therefore lacks integrity. Even if you get away with it, which somehow Maradona did, it’s not right. The major issue in the instance of Maradona, is he had enough natural ability to win the game without cheating (his second goal in the same game proved this). But if we must rely on a lack of integrity, over and above of our ability, does a win really mean anything at all?

 

In 2 Timothy 2:5, Paul shares some insight into living a life of integrity in our walk with Christ:

 

“Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules.”

 

What does this mean in the context of our faith? In the beginning of the chapter, Paul encourages Timothy to be strong in his faith. Perhaps, there is a period of wavering. Maybe complaining? Maybe drifting from God? Maybe Timothy is going through some hardship, and not fully trusting in the Lord’s provision for his life. Ultimately, Paul speaks to him in terms of running a race. The race of life you could say. Can we truly wear a victor’s crown, at the end of our lives, if we’ve lied, cheated and stolen our way to the finish line?

 

Paul’s encouragement to Timothy is live a life of integrity. To be rewarded with a victor’s crown at the end of his race. We at Kick London offer you the same encouragement.

 

 

Living Responsibly

“Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.”
‭‭James‬ ‭5:12‬ ‭NIV

 

The conversations I have had with young people this week seem to have all followed a similar pattern. Many of the young people I work with have become disgruntled around the fact that teachers are picking on them, calling them out for doing the wrong thing, even though everyone else is doing the wrong thing also.

 

However, I put it to the young people like this; Let’s suppose I’m driving my car at 40 mph in a 30 mph zone. All the other drivers around me are also driving at 40 mph, but a policeman pulls me over. Only me. What would my defence be? “But everyone else was doing it! Fine them too!”

 

Perhaps it is unfair that just I would be punished, but to receive punishment for committing a crime is also just, regardless of whether someone else is caught for doing the same crime or not.

 

How could I avoid the punishment? I could start by driving at 30 mph in the 30 mph zone. I could leave myself in a position of blamelessness. I can’t be pulled over or called out for my behaviour if my behaviour is perfect.

 

This for me is about accepting responsibility. If I ensure that I am doing the right things at the right times, I am living responsibly. However, if I make a mistake (and we all do), we have to take responsibility for our actions, and then do what it takes to right our wrongs. Perhaps it requires a further action. Perhaps it requires an apology. Perhaps it forces us to view our life retrospectively and make necessary changes.

 

The other day, I woke up early, and sleepily turned on the shower. I was attempting to warm the water before I got into the shower, but the combination of the plunger being pulled up and the shower head laying in the bath meant I had the unfortunate experience of being doused in cold water at 6am and a soaking wet bathroom to clear up!

 

My initial thought was “Arrgghh, it’s all her fault! What has she done that for?!” before thinking about it retrospectively (in the warm shower, I hasten to add). Why did a simple mistake need to have a person at fault? Was the shower left that way deliberately as a booby-trap for me?!

 

The simple fact was that’s I had made an error that was the fault of no-one at all, but just had to be dealt with. No blame, no accusations. Just mopping up a soggy bathroom. Taking responsibility.

 

In James’ epistle, he encourages us to ensure that our “Yes” means “yes”, and our “No” means “no”. At it’s basic form, it means to do the things we say we are going to do. To take responsibility over our actions, and to hold firm in our decisions when we do say no.

 

Accepting responsibility for our own actions is the first step in being the change you want to see in the world. We could all be more responsible for being loving towards one another. We could all take responsibility for being a little more selfless.

 

This is responsible living.

peter rolington with the community speedwatch camrea in goudhurst kent..


Don’t Waste Your Life

James 4:14 “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

What chilling viewing it was watching the news on Tuesday night. Footage of a team, having won a semi-final. They were dancing, cheering, spraying each other with water, ecstatic that they had reached the final of the Copa Sudamerica. These images were followed by a photo of the whole team, standing at the foot of the steps to board a plane, on their way to the final. And after that, the pictures of the crash, followed by another picture of the empty locker-room, only inhabited by those injured or suspended, and unable to travel. The football world stood still.

It really got me thinking about those individual lives. Most of them young men, in the prime of fitness, at the foot of the ladder of their ambitions. Each of them sons, fathers, husbands. They had so much to offer the world. Each of them now gone.

James reminds us in his epistle, that life is a mist. That you can be here one moment, and gone the next. As frank as this blog has started, it should be a challenge to us, rather than to scare us. I hope I haven’t written insensitively, and please forgive me if I have.

Why is the tradgey of the Chapecoenese football team a challenge to us personally though? For me, it is a challenge about how I spend the days of my life. How I use my fitness. How I use my talents and my gifts. How I am able to personally impact the world and the people I meet each day.

Much of my working week, currently, is speaking to young men and women, on the first steps of their journey of life. And while they are young and inexperienced, it would also be fair to say that they (at times) are making some poor choices. Perhaps they have an apathy to life, perhaps they have a behavioural issue, some kick against authority, others have no real interest in succeeding. All of these things break my heart. A young person, with the world at their feet, with no desire to meet their potential or succeed.

The opportunity I have, as a sports minister, is to use my God-given health, fitness and (limited) talent, to meet these kids on their terms, and impact their lives, even if it’s just kicking a ball around with them and showing them that I care.

Each of us has potential. Each of us has a gift. Each of us can be successful even in the smallest of tasks (and it is often the smallest of tasks which are the most vital). Some of our young people don’t believe in themselves, and if our gift is to encourage, but we fail to encourage that young person, then we’ve wasted our potential and wasted our gift. If you have a gift in sport, or dance, or singing, or art, and you can connect with a disaffected young person, but hide your gift, then you have wasted an opportunity, both for yourself, and that young person.

The challenge to you, the reader, is that you are alive. In this moment right now, you could use your gift to impact the world. Don’t waste your gift. Don’t waste your life.

The Importance Of Relationships

“Ah, I don’t like Mr Smith, bruv, he’s a ****!”

What a powerful line to start a blog on! However, this is near enough a direct quote from a mentoring session I recently had *. My response, to this line, was a mere smile. The young man immediately apologised “Oh, sorry, sir! I shouldn’t have said that!” My response, “Don’t worry, you carry on. Say how you feel”.

It is perhaps controversial that, in an education based setting, I didn’t immediately rebuke the young man’s language. Nor did I tell him off for his blatant lack of respect for a senior member of staff. However, in that moment, I knew that the young man in question trusted me enough to say exactly how he felt, using language he would use around his closest friends and family. I had gone beyond being a figure of authority, or even a teacher to this young man. He truly sensed the trust that had built in the relationship, and felt free to speak his mind. In its own right, this was powerful moment. **

A quote that has been doing the rounds in the Kick London office’s recently is “They will never care about what you know, until they know you care”. I think if we take just a moment to ponder just how profound this statement is, it can truly take us to a place of understanding firstly, the importance of using sport in mission, and secondly, the impact we can have on a young person’s life once a relationship has been built.

At Kick London, we have a heart for allowing young people to access the saving message of the Gospel. The message we want to share is that God loves you so much, that He gave the world Jesus. That would go down the category of “What we know”.

If the quote above is to be believed, young people will never access that message from any one of us until they understand that we care about them. As coaches, mentors, youth workers, volunteers (and any other job role that may put you in the path of a young person), we can show our care for that young person by simply engaging in their interests (chiefly, football), or taking time to get to know what’s going on in their life. I don’t have a statistic to back this up, but I believe that young people truly know you care about them when you do something as simple as remembering their name!

Jesus himself was all about relationships. Sure, he did the mega-preach to thousands at times, but in the poignant moments of his ministry, Jesus would sit, eat dinner with people, go to their houses, and invest time in the individual. He would even call them friends. Jesus knew that shouting a message, without a relationship, would go no further than noise into the wind. However, a message shared with love, to a person who knew Jesus cared for them, would stand the test of time.

If sport can be the thing that gets a young person to engage with you, and you have an opportunity to show them that you care for them, you stand far more chance of sharing a life changing message with them; either behavioural or spiritual, but none the less, transformational.

bm

Bobby Moore and Pele, a relationship built on mutual respect.

* The word used is unimportant, and of course, the teacher’s name has been changed.

** It is worth noting that with further discussion, the student’s attitude to the member of staff was addressed, as is the appropriate structure with a behavioural intervention/mentoring session. However, the student may not have respected my opinion, or behavioural intervention if he didn’t trust or respect me.

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