A Love that gives us Hope and a Purpose

Hope.

 

A word many people use but when push comes to shove, when your back is against the wall, do you?

 

Each day I work with teenagers for Kick, and hope is something so few of them have. Some have vague ideas, but most of my mentees just survive. They do each day and have no direction and no idea if things will change. They don’t want things to get better because they know no better, yet they have a feeling things aren’t right.

 

How are you meant to have hope where you’ve been raised in a home with violent parents and you learn violence is a way to deal with situations? Then you get to school and naturally you’re violent but you get in trouble for that, even excluded from the environment.

 

How are you meant to have hope when your mother is drinking so much alcohol she can’t function? You love her but you never know whether she is going to be nice or angry. Is there going to be food for dinner or will all of the money have been spent on alcohol? Will you have a home or will that eviction notice finally be enacted?

 

These might sound like extreme situations but these are true stories of young people I work with every week. It’s hard! Hard to go through these situations with them, knowing they are so young and deserve so much more. On top of this, these young people are so regularly expected to keep up with their peers despite having major disadvantages throughout most of their life.

 

Life is filled with people that have ideas, or even 5-year-plans, but do they have hope? Hope that the things they are struggling with will change, hope they will get the job they are going for or hope for relationships. Do they have hope even when faced with severe injuries or even bereavement?

 

I was struck by the recent story of Simon Thomas, the Sky Sports presenter (ex-Blue Peter for those of you old enough to remember that) whose wife died last year. I was on a plane with him and his family just weeks before it happened and they looked like a normal family. Just weeks later he was faced with the prospect of raising his 8-year-old son on his own. It’s at this time I discovered Simon was a Christian. Even while working in an industry filled with men of strength who focus on success and not feelings Simon admitted he was weak. Over a series of blogs he poured out his struggles with people giving him advice like “Be strong.”

 

He wasn’t strong.

 

But that’s okay! It’s in our weakness that Jesus is made all the more glorious. Simon didn’t need to be strong as in his weakness he received more support than ever and while it is very hard he has hope in a God filled with goodness! My mentees don’t need to be strong, and it’s a lesson I teach them regularly. It’s in their weakness that we make our most progress and through this weakness we break down barriers to being hopeful.

 

The hope Jesus gives us is hard to describe. 2 Thessalonians 2:16 says “Now may the Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts.”

 

We are loved! Jesus says this and even when our families fail us or pass away, we are still loved by the one who created us. Loved so much that we can do nothing to stop Him loving us. So much that he would die for us. Love like this cultivates hope. It gives people a chance to dream bigger and believe things can and will get better.

 

hope1

 

I try to show the love Jesus would show us to so many of my mentees. My relationship with them is not conditional on how they treat me, or how they act, or their family backgrounds. I try to show them they are loved and when they know this they begin to dream again for their lives. So many of them have never known this kind of love, and so many people in our lives have only known poor quality love.

 

The love of Jesus gives us hope and purpose, and changes us forever. Everybody needs this, it’s just some people are better at pretending they’re okay without Jesus. We need to keep trying to show this love that brings hope and light into any situation and we will see hope restored to individuals and communities. The hope God gives me and the comfort I have in him give me hope not just for myself but for those that I work with.

 

Davey Murphy

Kick London Staff Coach

Just Ask

Forgiveness. Far easier said than done. I hope you’ll read this blog to the end. There’s quite a lot at stake!
To be honest, I don’t know if I had anything serious to forgive anyone for until:
3rd year of Uni;
2nd proper girlfriend;
1st time I got cheated on.
I remember how she came rushing in to my flat on that Saturday morning, looking like she had been crying, putting a note into my hand, and then turning around and leaving. Safe to say when I read her letter of confession, forgiveness wasn’t the first thing that popped into my mind!

 

But as I curled up in my bed, a mixed bowl of tears and rage, I don’t know how much time passed before  I suddenly heard God’s quiet and gentle whisper:

 

 

“You’ve got to forgive her; remember the Lord’s prayer you always pray:
“Forgive us  our sins, as WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO SIN AGAINST US.””

 

This sentence struck me like a tonne of bricks! What I had been saying all those years without much weight suddenly carried all the weight in the world: ‘I cannot expect to receive God’s forgiveness (which my very Salvation depends upon), if I am not willing to forgive others.’

 

D6487E83-C27A-4875-B335-FAFF03F87F76

 

I don’t know if you’ve ever had to forgive someone or have ever thought about forgiveness in this way?
As I processed everything throughout that day, the feeling of betrayal was still as strong as at first, but I knew I HAD to forgive her but I also knew I couldn’t do it in my own strength. So I prayed, and asked  God to help me to be able to forgive.
Perhaps if you’ve been hurt, and are holding on to any unforgiveness, you could make this your prayer too.
How long it will take to forgive someone completely will vary  from person to person. And perhaps, also depend on the size of what needs to be forgiven!

 

For me, it took months, but I can tell you, I got there (eventually). She and I are still good friends today. God not only helped me to forgive, but also healed the wound and pain I experienced.

 

And I know if He can do it for me, He can do it for you too. Just ask Him.
BUT what about if you are the person who has wronged someone and needs to ask for forgiveness?

 

I recently had a chance to be the mediator in a deep conflict issue between my  mum and sister. I experienced firsthand how saying “Sorry” for wrongs we’ve done  can sometimes be AS difficult as forgiving  wrongs against us! I was amazed!

 

But thankfully, after a few hours of convo, my mum got there. She said sorry; and wow! How wonderfully healing this was for my sister!

 

Can I encourage you, with everything I am and have, if you need to say sorry for a circumstance in your life, fight through whatever holds you back, and do it; as soon as possible!

 

On that note, I probably need to stop (as soon as possible!) Hopefully my words have been  helpful. Jesus’ words leave no two ways about it:

 

“For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your Heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing”.
(Matthew 5:14-15)

 

I know these will be  hard words to read for some. Remember, just ask Jesus to help you.

 

He knows what it’s like, and He is willing.

 

Alex Shoderu

Staff Coach

Only One Step Back

It is the morning of February the first, and while you are reading this blog two month’s after the time of writing, perhaps remember back nostalgically at what you were doing on that morning, or how you were feeling?

 

For most of you, you probably can’t remember (nor care), but for football fans across the land, it feels like an eerie type of calm. Perhaps equitable to the eye of the storm. Last night, at 11pm, the transfer window slammed shut, and the utter madness of a a whirlwind month has come to an end. No more speculation, no more gossip, no more rumours and column inches dedicated to fabricated pieces of information.

 

For fans of some clubs it is a feeling of utter disappointment (and as a West Ham fan, I could write a very different, much longer blog on the subject), while other fans are quite content with their completed business.

 

Ultimately though, the joy, relief, or disgust of the fans hinges on the attitudes and wants of the players, who in the modern game hold all the power. Should a player want to leave a club, the contract he signed is effectively worthless, meaning clubs are held to ransom in a “Let him go, or suffer his sulk”, which is often a sulk which can corrupt an entire team spirit.

 

In the instances of Phillipe Coutinho and Alexis Sanchez, the players were able to force moves away from their clubs (albeit in different circumstances) to move on to fresh challenges. But how long before those love affairs also run dry, and the faithfulness comes to an end.

 

In a more bizarre story, Rihad Mahrez has been left “depressed” at the breakdown of his move from Leicester City to Manchester City. The same Rihad Mahrez who two years ago was lifting the Premier League trophy with Leceister City as Andrea Bocceli belted out Nessun Dorma in the centre circle at the King Power Stadium.

 

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 07: Riyad Mahrez of Leicester City show emotion after the final whistle during The FA Community Shield match between Leicester City and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium on August 7, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Broadway/Getty Images)

 

The problem, in football (and possibly in life), is man’s lack of faithfulness. My wife and I wed five years ago, and before marrying, we spoke to my grandparents, who were celebrating forty years of marriage. I asked my nan what the secret was, and she said “Work at it. We live in a society now where when things break, we throw them away and get a new one. Nobody fixes things any more. You need to daily fix your relationship”.

 

And isn’t that just the key to faithfulness? The constant renewing of promises, the constant striving for consistency and contentment, the trying hard, no matter the circumstance. Faithfulness is about remaining strong in faith and in love, when circumstance may tell us to give up, stop trying, or leave.

 

As Christians, we believe that God is faithful, even when we are faithless. As a generation, a society, and even just as humans, our base condition is to be faithless, to wander and to give up. However, the God who created us remains faithful to us, even when we fail.

 

Lamentations‬ ‭3:22-23‬ says:
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

 

It is such a refreshing promise that God’s love for me is so great that He will never lose faith in me. That means that no matter how much I mess up, I am still usable by Him and for Him, and for His good and His plans. I heard it said recently, “You can walk away from God. One step, ten steps, thousands of steps, but it is only ever one step back”. For me, this is the greatest illustration of God’s faithfulness to us.

 

So what is the challenge for us? It is to be more faithful in our work, in our relationships, and in our walk with God. Are we intentionally praying for people, or just saying a token “Sure, I’ll pray about it”? Are we working at our jobs “as if for the Lord”, or are we just drifting through life? Are we dealing with our struggles head on, or ducking issues and hoping they go away?

 

Lord, may we grow in faithfulness, and become faithful like you are faithful, constant and consistent to the end, and not wavered by our circumstances.

 

Andy Dutton
Senior Coach
‭‭

Kick London on Easter

This weekend is Easter weekend, and as a Christian charity, all of our wonderful staff will be celebrating! We asked a group of staff to tell us what their thoughts on Easter were, some of their traditions, and what they’ll be up this Sunday!

 

We spoke to Innovation and Excellence Manager, Susanne Koch, Coaches Alex Shoderu, Matt Rogers and Andy Dutton, as well as Trustee, John Dutton and CEO Joe Lowther. Here’s what they had to say:

 

 

What is so important about Easter, for you as a Christian?

 

Susanne: Jesus is risen! I think it is the most important event in history.

Matt: It’s a day to remember what Jesus done for us. He died for us so that we could live freely.

Alex: It is when I remember the fact that Jesus paid the highest price for me- His very blood. But He did it not only for me but for the whole world.

Joe: It’s more important than Christmas – without Jesus and death and resurrection we would never be able to have resurrection life reach Heaven.

John: As an atheist, and even as a very immature Christian, I don’t think I really grasped the significance of Easter.  I think it was seeing the film Passion of the Christ that made me realise what Jesus did for me (and all mankind) and, more importantly, understand the fact of His resurrection.  So now, for me, the importance of Easter is to remember and focus on Jesus’s death and resurrection (even though I think on those things every day).

Andy: Easter is the time of year where we as Christian’s can be mindful of the length that God went to so that he could have a relationship with us.

 

What do you do on Easter Sunday?

 

Susanne: I go to church, go on an Easter egg hunt with my nephews and nieces, spend time with my family and we have a huge bonfire in the evening.

Matt: Love doing an Easter egg hunt, whether it’s for me or doing it for others, it’s great fun…after church of course.

Alex: Go to church and chill and reflect after. Maybe go to special Easter presentations at other churches too.

Joe: Church in the morning and family lunch in the afternoon – normally a leg of lamb if we can 🙂 I try and watch the Passion of Christ on Good Friday, it always gets me into the zone!

John: Go to New Life in the morning and then spend time with as many family members as are available.

Andy: In recent years I’ve been down at Spring Harvest every Easter, so working on the sports team, with a special Easter Sunday message for the young people!

 

 

What Bible verse from the Easter story is your favourite?

 

Susanne: John 20:20. “After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.”

Matt: 1 Peter 1:3 – “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”.

Alex: “Why are you looking for the living among the dead? He is not here. He is risen.” (Luke 24: 5)

Joe: Romans 5:8 – “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

John: Matthew 28:18-20 “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  The knowledge that Jesus is with me always is wonderful.”

Andy: Not strictly from the Easter story, but Ephesians 2:4-5 is my favourite: “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our sin—it is by grace you have been saved.

 


What is your favourite song/lyric that reminds you of Easter?

 

Matt: ‘the resurrected king, is resurrecting me.’

Alex: In Christ alone. (The whole song!)

John: From verse three of “In Christ Alone” – “Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!”

Andy: I actually have a few, all around the same kind of theme! “He took the violent wrath on my behalf so I could have life and be alive at last” (Timothy Brindle, Liberation), “Without the cross there’s only condemnation, If Jesus wasn’t executed there’s no celebration” (Lecrae, Boasting), “But the reason He came was to pay the sum, For the depths of our wickedness, our wretched sinfulness, Bless His magnificence- He’s perfect and innocent, Yet He was wrecked and His death- He predicted it, Next He was stretched, paid a debt that was infinite” (Shai Linne, The Greatest Story Ever Told).

 


On average, how many Easter eggs do you receive and eat on Easter Sunday?

 

Susanne: Chocolate or real coloured ones? – Too many of both kinds!

Matt: I’d say 3 or 4…pretty good and keeping them going after Easter Sunday though!

Joe: I get about 6 and I eat the chocolate bars and then give the eggs to my 3 hungry boys!

Andy: Usually 2 or 3, but many end up getting stored and not eaten til Christmas! That said, my son has recently started eating chocolate, so I reckon they will last a lot less time this year!

 


Sum up the meaning of Easter in one sentence?

 

Susanne: Jesus Christ is risen from the dead and is alive and kicking today!

Matt: A time to celebrate and remember what Jesus has done for us, whilst filling your face with chocolate.

Alex: Jesus put His money where His mouth is.

Joe: Jesus died but now he is risen and that changes everything.

John: A time to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection – the fact that makes Him unique and the ONLY Way, Truth and Life.

Andy: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense – GRACE

 


What is your favourite Easter memory?

 

Susanne: Early Sunday morning Easter Service with a sunrise.

Alex: All of them since so became a Christian at 19!

Joe: Family holidays as a kid around that time of year.

John: Seeing my children’s faces when they received their Easter eggs when they were little.  I’m hoping that even better Easter memories are still to come.

Andy:  I think the first Easter I was a Christian, and finally understanding the Gospel message was a pretty powerful memory for me. I’d only be a Christian a month or two, and it blew me away! That Easter was about far more than chocolate!

 

easter

 

Thank you to our staff members who took the time to answer our questions! We at Kick London would like to wish you the happiest of Easter’s! If this blog post raised any questions for you, or you’d like to know more about anything said in this post, we’d happily welcome your comments on any of our social media platforms, or feel free to e-mail our staff at office@kicklondon.org.uk

God Bless you all, we pray you have a great Easter Weekend,

Kick London

But, just what happened to Judas?!

I happened to be in a Year 5 classroom the other day as they were discussing the events of the Easter story. The class were having a fascinating discussion over who was responsible for the death of Jesus. Was it Pilate? The Sanhedrin? The Crowds? Jesus himself? Among the possible answers was Judas. I think it would be fair to say that Judas certainly had his share of the guilt regarding the crucifixion, but a far more important question arose from one of the children:

 

“What happened to Judas?”

 

Among adults, we know from the Bible that Judas committed suicide. Depending on whether you read Mark or Acts, there is some debate over how he did this, or what happened, but that isn’t actually how I thought about the question.

 

While in the physical, we can be firm in the knowledge that Judas made his decision that he would rather be dead than carry his weight of guilt, in the spiritual, there could be some debate over Judas’ fate. It is my firm belief that within the Easter story, Judas can be used as a tool to show us God’s mercy, and redemptive plan for us.

 

So let’s begin this blog with some facts about Judas:

  1. Judas was a friend of Jesus.
  2. Judas followed Jesus, and believed Him to be the Messiah.
  3. Judas’ role within the group of disciples was to be treasurer.
  4. Judas betrayed Jesus, by leading the Roman’s to Jesus to capture Him.
  5. Judas betrayed Jesus for money (30 pieces of silver).

 

The name Judas in modern culture is synonymous with someone who betrays a person they love. In the context of sport, or more accurately, football, a player who leaves a team for a rival is often known as Judas.

 

966730spurs-solWHL03 - 20011117 - LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM : Tottenham Spurs supporters shout abuse at former Spurs player Sol Campbell and teammates warming up for a premier league match at White Hart Lane in London , 17 November 2001. Campbell left Tottenham for their north London rivals Arsenal after last season upsetting Tottenham fans. EPA PHOTO AFP/ODD ANDERSEN/OA/vl

Some messages for Sol Campbell, following his move from Tottenham to Arsenal.

If we consider some of the hatred that football players get for moving from one club to another, from people who have never met them, nor truly loved them, it could perhaps help us to understand how any person may feel when betrayed by someone they really love, honestly trust, and have a close personal relationship with.

If we consider that Jesus was fully man (as well as fully God), who experienced all the feelings and emotions that we feel, we must understand that the way that Judas treated Him must have hurt Him massively. It must have made Him angry, bereft, and utterly disappointed. How could a man’s close friend, give Him away to die, for a measly sum of money? The ultimate, history defining betrayal.

In our society, we often consider the idea of Heaven, and salvation, as weighed up against Earthly good deeds. We often also struggle with the fact that bad people could attain Heaven, and a relationship with God. I don’t want to make assumptions for anyone (but perhaps I’m challenging you to try this), but I dare say that if we asked a sample of people “Do you believe that Judas is in Heaven?”, I think a large proportion would most probably reply “No”, among both Christian, and non-Christian demographics.

But actually, this is why the Easter story is so powerful, so liberating, and ultimately, why it is so important for both myself, and for you, the reader. Because it is my firm and solid belief, that Judas resides in Heaven with Jesus. Let me unpack a few reasons why.

One of my favourite verses in the Bible is Romans 10:9, because I feel it is the clearest instruction of what a person must do to come into a relationship with God:

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Romans 10:9

Whenever I discuss with anyone what it means to be a Christian, this is the verse I always refer back to. In my opinion, Judas declared Jesus as the Messiah, both with his mouth, and in his heart. Despite betraying Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, there is no account of Judas denying Jesus. In fact, if we are to go down that line, we must also call into account the mistakes of Peter! And yet, Jesus forgave Peter, and built the church upon Him. Had Jesus had the chance, would He not have forgiven Judas in exactly the same way?

Now if we begin to consider Judas’ betrayal, I think we need to refer to Jesus’ teaching on the mistakes we make against the mistakes other people make:

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Matthew 7:3-5

Before I can start pointing out Judas’ fault of the ultimate betrayal, I must first consider that I am not perfect. That in my life, I too have treated friends badly, lied to them, betrayed them for my own selfish interests. Sure, nobody died because of it, but that’s just a difference of outcome! The mistake was made all the same, and no doubt people were hurt because of it! As I am not perfect, I must be careful how I talk about Judas.

And that is actually the entire basis of the Easter story. All of mankind is fallen, all of mankind is wrong, all of mankind make mistakes. But in God’s Salvation Plan, He sent an all-sufficient substitute, to take our place on the cross, and to then rise again to show we can have a new life in Him.

Going back to the original discussion, was Pilate responsible for Jesus’ death? Yes. Were the Sanhedrin responsible for Jesus’ death? Yes. Were the beying crowds responsible for Jesus’ death? Yes.Was Judas responsible for Jesus’ death? Yes.

Was I responsible for Jesus death?

Yes.

Here is a final quote, which allows us to understand why Judas is in Heaven:

 

“Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” and we must answer, ‘Yes, we were there, not as spectators only, but as participants, guilty participants, plotting, scheming, betraying, denying, and handing him over to be crucified.’

We may try to wash our hands of responsibility like Pilate, but our attempt would be futile. Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us, leading us to faith and worship, we have to see it as something done by us, leading us to repentance.

Only the man or woman who is prepared to own his share in the guilt of the cross may claim his share in its grace.”

John Piper

“What happened to Judas?”

He’s loved and forgiven by Jesus, and sitting in Heaven with Him.

Andy Dutton

Senior Sports Coach

…even when no-one is watching

I remember when I was 16 I was playing my first season of Under-18’s football for a team I had been playing for for years, and had played all through the age groups and now was at a point where we were getting to the level where it was no longer a case of turning up and getting in the side, you actually had to train, work hard and be aware that you would have to fight for your place in the team. It was coming towards the end of the season and although I played a bit, I was pretty much nailed on to start on the bench.

 

We were playing the quarter-final of the Hampshire Cup and it was 1-1 with about 15 minutes to go, and my moment came. I was subbed on. It had been a pretty mixed season as I’d gone from starting every game of the previous season to playing maybe 20 minutes each game, so I remember being determined to play well. About 5 minutes later, the ball came across and I caught it sweetly on the half volley, it then bounced off the keeper and went in off my hand. (I’ve always been a natural finisher!) Nobody saw, but the keeper, and he was screaming at the ref, and I just remember celebrating as if everything was normal. After the game everyone was asking if it had touched my hand, and I just lied and said it was my knee. I was so determined to play, and to prove I was better than sitting on the bench; I let my competitiveness get the better of me, and lost my integrity in doing so.

 

maradona-argentina-football-goalkeeper-football-argentina-quarter_8099c8da-0a45-11e7-814d-775bded0c5ff

 

The fact I can still remember it, shows how clearly people can struggle with being dishonest, and how even just a small lack of integrity can have an impact on the outcomes for other people. While I’ve been thinking about this blog and what it means to ‘live with integrity’ I guess the clearest definition I’ve come up with in my head is ‘living with integrity is doing the right thing, even when nobody is watching.’

 

truth-cartoon-workers-goofing-off-524x400

 

I think a good thing to think about and to challenge yourself with is ‘Which version of me am I being today?’ I’m sure we can all think of different groups of people we socialise, work, study, play sport with, and I wonder if we looked at how we act around these people, could we honestly say that they are all the same. What if all these people were in the same room and one group described the person you are to them, to the other groups in the room, do you think they would recognise you? If the answer to that question is a firm yes, then I think you can look at yourself and know you are living a life of integrity. If there are question marks over some of the groups, then I think we need to start thinking about which version of our self is our true self, and most importantly, which version of our self is the version that God wants us to be?

 

As believers in Jesus we are called to the highest of ideals. We believe in things like “dying to self” and “the last shall be first,” but we grapple and struggle almost constantly with living lives of integrity. Unfortunately, there are countless examples of Christians who suffered great falls where it was made clear that their private lives look vastly different from the carefully curated lives they lived in front of their Christian friends or workplaces.

 

But God calls us to another way. So what does integrity really look like?

 

Scripture is filled with passages urging integrity in believers — it just talks about integrity without using that term. Think of one the most famous New Testament commands for Christian living:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit”

Galatians 5:22-25

 

Such a list is a command to live a life of the highest integrity, a life that brings goodness and blessings to all people.

 

In short, the Christian command to integrity is a command to both talk and walk in the way of Jesus. It’s a life marked by love, compassion, mercy, justice, and honouring God’s call above everything else. It’s the life spoken of in 1 Peter 3:10-12: “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil”.

 

That definition of integrity calls us to walk in the path of Christ, and to steer clear of hypocrisy.

 

Robbie Smart – Kick London Coach

Breaking Down the Barriers

[Sport] is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all kinds of discrimination.” – Nelson Mandela

11:00. In a hotel dormitory just outside Manchester.
I had been watching the highlights of a football match (Liverpool v Everton) that, for us Liverpool fans, is undoubtedly the biggest of the season. I knew the score, and it seemed pointless continuing to watch what had so far been a rather dull contest.
Just when I was about to turn off my phone and hit the hay, an incident occurred in the match that made me immediately sit up and pay attention. A cogent push from Everton defender Mason Holgate, sends Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino over the advertising board into a row of incensed Liverpool faithful.
Naturally, like the Liverpool fans there, I was enraged, and defended Firmino’s response to run back up to Holgate and vent his anger for what was a needless action. Yet my tribalism soon dissipated as two days later I turned on Sky Sports News to see Firmino on his way to court over allegedly racially abusing Holgate.

 

Now regardless of Firmino was racist or not, its interesting that perspective can easily change. In that moment, I came to the unsettling realisation that respect in sport, is becoming increasingly uncommon.

 

In a world in which desire for individual excellence and personal achievement has become the order of the day, lack of respect has unfortunately permeated a pastime that in the past has thrown up incredible displays of respect that have inspired millions around the world.

 

I also realised I was perpetuating the problem. I love sport, and am extremely competitive, but my emotions (especially when Liverpool are involved) can get the better of me. My anger made me ignore the clear lack of forgiveness and love between Holgate and Firmino.

 

IMG_2820

 

When I was younger, my absolute favourite thing to do was to play football with my friends. I remember the freedom football gave me, to express myself, and forget about the complexities of life. I remember not caring greatly about the score, but always trying my absolute best at something I loved, and got to do with my friends.

 

Now, I see a sport (and all sports more generally) being tarnished, by our selfish natures, and desire to win which trumps our ability to respect others.

 

What is respect? Respect, according to the Oxford Dictionary is ‘a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities or achievements’.

 

I’d agree with that definition, but I would extend it to highlight respect is also a feeling of deep admiration, for someone or something, whose qualities or abilities greatly differ to our own. Respect is therefore the binding agent that unites us, and overlooks race, gender, social standing all other barriers.

 

The Bible reminds us of this truth. Paul in his letter to the Romans highlights the importance of being “being devoted one another above yourselves.”. (Romans 12:10 NIV). In the context of sport, we can interpret this as honouring those that make all sports possible; the officials, the spectators, and our opponents, ensuring we don’t let our own competitive spirit compromise other people’s love of sport.

 

At Kick London, respect is one of the core values that we try to both impart and demonstrate to the young people, but are we practicing what we preach? My Prayer is that we, as lovers of sport highlight its ability to bring us together despite our differences and, by showing respect to the young people, can show how having respect does change lives, and shows our Christ-like selves in the process.

 

Miles Hughes

Kick London Intern

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.

Brownlee

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!

9d74cb5bfa67166bd808e8fed5e25a5c-christmas-nativity-scene-in-the-manger-birth-of-jesus-mary-joseph-and-three-wise-men

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.

d41339a1ca4823cf39fa29453d41d073186851f2a09f0b07513024e1af43ebc8

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.

Pages: 1 2 3 9