Don’t get me wrong it’s hugely disappointing to watch and there’s definitely things our national team need to get better at, and from my massively inexperienced perspective it’s the basic footballing principles, things like closing a player down, marking your man, applying pressure are things we seem to struggle with at the moment.
But hands down the biggest cause of our defeat in my opinion is me and you, the English fans, the English press. Have you noticed just how much we crucify our players in the media or on twitter if they don’t perform?
Something I noticed during last night’s game against Uruguay – we started off shaky and nervous and things got more shaky the moment Suarez headed his first goal past Joe Hart, BUT the moment Rooney finally managed to hit the back of the net, then things changed for us, it might have only been for a few minutes, but they changed. Suddenly we were confident, energetic, creating space and opportunity.
Here’s what I think is happening.
England are suffering a serious lack of confidence on the pitch, confidence that as individual players, they have buckets of whilst playing for their clubs.
Take Wayne Rooney for example, there’s absolutely no doubt that this guy is a world class player – he’s scored some mind-blowingly good goals in his career and he’s respected and renowned the world over, and yet he receives so much abuse from English football fans.
This year it’s even gone up a notch – people have now targeted Wayne’s wife; Coleen. Seriously? I mean seriously when did that become an OK thing to do?
We tweet all these abusive comments and gestures and then for some stupid reason seem to think that it won’t make any difference but of course it will.
How stupid have we become?
If we are continually abusive towards people then that’s going to have an impact. If we continually apply pressure onto the shoulder of our sporting representatives then of course eventually every so often they will buckle.
I’ve got a revolutionary idea to fix this… it’s crazy so you have to bear with me.
Why don’t we become supportive.
The clue’s in the title a little bit – I’m an English supporter… therefore I ought to support England!!
As a dad with two young boys I can tell you I get a much better response when I’m encouraging and supportive towards my boys. That doesn’t mean that I don’t give them the hard truths at times – but I do it with respect.
There you go… RESPECT, that’s something we’re not too good at here in England.
One of the phrases that gets thrown about during these times is “national disgrace” – the media hang the players out to dry, but I think the real disgrace is how we treat our team and I think it needs to change.
I’m proud of my heritage and I think we’re better than this. We have an opportunity to properly get behind our team, show them our support, show them that they’re not alone in this tournament. Rather than kicking them when they’re down it’s our job to pick them back up again and fill them with confidence, to help put that British Bulldog fire back into their gut.
So it’s Friday and we have a game against Costa Rica on Tuesday, our fate this year largely depends on what happens between the other teams in our group – but why don’t we as supporters start tweeting encouragement to Stevie G and the boys in the run up to potentially our last game. If we are going to go out in the group stages let’s go out with a bang.
Unless we start respecting our team and doing our bit to give them confidence I don’t think we will ever win a World Cup or a European Championship.
It’s up to you… you know what needs to be done.
If you’re anything like me bible verses like Romans 8:28 can be tough to work through in these times. How can God be working all things together for good when so much suffering exists?
Some days are colourful and vibrant – full of joy and expectation.
Some days are less colourful.
Other days are just totally black.
I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed but for a picture to come to life, there needs to be depth and dimension.
Even those shady and dark jigsaw puzzle pieces have a purpose in this regard. A picture can’t come to life without some shading to provide definition. The darker colours help the brighter colours stand out more.
Ultimately the dark days can be used to help emphasise and highlight and draw attention to the colourful and vibrant parts of the overall jigsaw puzzle.
It might sound crazy but even the dark days of our lives end up playing a huge part in making our finished picture beautiful.
It’s in our times of lament that we often learn life’s most valuable lessons.
It’s in our times of trouble that we remember to treasure what’s most important to us.
It’s in our difficult days that we learn to be more like Jesus.
Your life is a jigsaw puzzle and every day is important.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Max Clifford is a man who has made his living from the secrets of the rich and famous. His job involved ensuring the continuity of the popular facade of those in the spotlight.
Now I’ve never met Max but certainly a lot of people seem to suggest that it’s possible an element to his success also involved using the secrets of certain celebrities to his advantage, after all when you have your publicist knowing the detail of your dirty laundry then it would be dangerous to not treat him like your best friend – wouldn’t it?
What I find most interesting is the stark contrast between the behaviour and reputation of Max Clifford and that of Jesus Christ.
Whereas (it has been suggested) Max Clifford knew the deep and dark secrets of many and used these secrets to enslave people in order to profit himself. Jesus Christ knows the deep and dark secrets of everyone and still works to see people set free… even at great cost to Himself.
Many who have approached Max Clifford in the past will have done so to prevent people from finding out about their hidden shame, and Max was able to provide them that service albeit it at a cost.
Many more have approached Jesus not just to remove their hidden shame from the public arena but to remove it totally. Jesus Christ isn’t interested in making you look good, he’s interested in making you completely good, He’s interested in setting you totally free.
You see Jesus can deal with your bad habits and your bad behaviours. Max Clifford may have been a pro at covering up shame but that doesn’t deal with the root problem, it didn’t deal with his problems… he’s now in prison because of them.
All those who have put their trust into Max Clifford will be sorely disappointed and no doubt fearful.
Whoever you are, or whatever you’ve done Jesus Christ wants to help you.
It doesn’t matter what your secret is Jesus Christ is trustworthy… still!
Have you ever had one of those moments when you suddenly become a little bit more aware of your own shortcomings?
It’s rubbish isn’t it?
The other day my wife and I had an argument, and when we settled down again afterwards, she very graciously pointed out that I was unnecessarily nasty during the argument; I made some unhelpful and quite hurtful comments. As the truth dawned, as my eyes opened to how I had just behaved, it felt like a dagger in my heart. “Wow I can be quite horrid sometimes!”
When I’m being totally honest I regularly let myself down, regularly fail at achieving my own standards of behaviour – never mind that far off standard of perfect holiness as set out for me in the Bible.
There’s absolutely no doubt that I am not worthy of all that God has done for me.
My rebellion towards God and my flagrant disregard for His caring instructions has warranted punishment. And yet God, in His desire to fulfill justice and yet rescue me from the consequences of my own sin, decided to absorb my sin and endure my punishment.
I don’t deserve that. I am not worthy of that kind of love. Never have been… never will be.
But despite being unworthy, God considers me worthwhile.
As I dare to survey the wondrous cross, as I comprehend the barbaric and torturous death that Jesus endured alone, on my behalf, I can’t help but be impacted by two things:
1. My selfish and stupid rebellion is what put Christ on that sinner’s cross.
I have no right to a self-esteem in that regard, there is nothing in myself worth esteeming. And yet I have access to the most robust sense of self-worth imaginable because:
I am so loved by God that Jesus gladly died that death so that I didn’t have to.
I may not be worthy… in fact I’m definitely not… but I’m considered worthwhile.
Now I’m no expert to parenting and I’d never profess to be, but I have learnt a few things here and there.
I’m a big fan of discipline, in fact I would argue that our society is suffering because of a lack of it… BUT there are 5 scenarios I’ve come across when I really think it’s a bad idea to shout at your kids:
1. When your kid does something wrong because they genuinely didn’t know any better
Imagine the scene – you’re pushing the supermarket trolley down a packed aisle and then you notice your 1 year old has grabbed a jar of mayonnaise only to throw it on the floor. Mortified you shout at your kid as you figure out what to do about the mayonnaise mess your kid has created.
The thing is, did your child realise it was wrong to grab the jar that was positioned within reaching distance? The likelihood is they had no idea, and all that’s happened is you’ve taken your embarassment out on your poor child who doesn’t understand why.
Now obviously discipline doesn’t necessarily mean shouting or smacking – sometimes it can just mean advising. In this sort of situation there’s nothing wrong with being firm and explaining that it’s not OK to just grab things from shelves – but is it really fair to shout or smack a child for doing something that he or she didn’t understand was wrong to do?
Sometimes we would solve a lot of problems if we as parents were a little better at communicating to our children what we expect of them.
2. When your kid does something they see you do
I remember telling off my eldest boy Caleb-Jack for biting my arm and even giving him a light smack on his hand. He cried of course, but I knew I was right to smack him… or was I? I had a friend with me at the time who very graciously pointed out that just a few minutes earlier, whilst tickling Caleb-Jack, I had been playfully biting his arm. I couldn’t believe how hypocritical and unfair I had been. He was just wanting to continue playing and I shouted at him for it.
I wonder how many times we shout at our kids for only doing things they see us do.
We have to be careful with this one of course – just because we’ve done it too it doesn’t always mean that it’s right to be copied, but it’s worth remembering that when dealing with young children it can be incredibly difficult for them to learn what’s wrong and right if they copy the behaviour they see from their parents only then to be punished for it.
3. When your kid inconveniences you
Shamefully this is one that I can so often be guilty of. Frustration can lead to a sincere lack of patience, especially when you’re tired and then all of a sudden we find ourselves treating God’s precious gifts with such disdain.
A small example can be found when I’m putting my boys to bed and they want me to read just one more story to them and I have a shed load of work to do so end up just shouting angrily at them.
Again it’s worth being careful with this one – children will push the boundaries and get on your nerves – it’s part of them figuring out what they can get away with. But when you’re getting frustrated mainly because your child is inconveniencing you then it’s worth remembering that this little person needs you to be gracious and patient with them… after all they are still learning… and so are you by the way.
4. When your kid accidentally injures you
I did this literally a few days ago. I was playing with Caleb-Jack and he head-butted me causing me to bite my lip. I got instantly cross with him. Thankfully however I managed to catch myself doing it and so stopped and apologised for being angry.
I wish I could say that I’ve always been quick to correct myself in this regard… but… well I haven’t.
If your kid accidentally injures you I’m not sure it’s ever right to get cross with them – even if it’s really tempting to.
5. When your child behaves childishly
I guess it’s fair to say that a big part of parenting is about preparing your child for adult life, however it’s very easy in our day and age for children to grow up too quickly, and we’re not helping matters when we rebuke children for behaving childishly.
It’s easy for us as adults to get very grumpy and a little boring and as such we find the childishness of our kids slightly irritating.
NEWS FLASH: If your child is 5 – then it’s likely they will behave like a 5 year old. Yes it’s healthy parenting to encourage our kids towards adulthood – but don’t rush them – let them take their time. Allow them to enjoy their childhood – be the catalyst to them creating brilliant memories that they will carry with them long into the golden years of their life.
Childhood can and should be incredibly precious, and incredibly beautiful.
Everyone knows what happens if you try to rush baking a cake… it all goes horribly wrong. It takes decades for a child to turn into an adult – it’s not a process that should be rushed – it’s a process that should be nourished and enjoyed.
Just as a quick side point – your children will learn from you what adulthood should look like, in fact they’ll even start to shape their understanding of God on the basis of how you treat them. So consider them in the same way God considers you – precious and worth dying for, that perspective will always help with parenting.
Here are my 5 examples of when it’s not OK to shout at your kids – perhaps you have some other examples you’re aware of – please feel free to leave a comment.
…Give yourself a couple of minutes to adjust to this news, take a walk – get some fresh air – maybe a cup of tea or a cigarette and then come back and continue reading…
Now I have nothing against Lent, or those who celebrate it and I also have nothing against giving things up for a season – in fact I think it can be hugely beneficial for us to stop and take stock of what is actually important in life.
However my only concern with things like Lent is that people start to use it inappropriately. I find it very interesting to observe people’s reactions when I tell them that I don’t participate in Lent. The response is usually ‘Oh I thought you said you were a Christian.’ As if taking part in Lent was essential for me to be able to call myself a Christian. I like to respond with ‘Yes I am a Christian, that’s why I don’t need to take part.’
For hundreds of years an awful lot of people have slipped into Christianity various traditions and rituals, that (although perhaps meaningful) are not necessary to our relationship with God, and tried to claim that they are.
This frustrates me a little.
Again there’s nothing wrong with taking part in tradition – sometimes it can be quite enjoyable (even more so when we remember why the tradition is there in the first place) but when tradition starts to become something that we consider as a necessary part of our relationship with God then that’s when we’re getting things wrong.
This problem actually took place on numerous occasions in the New Testament, in fact on one occasion the Apostle Paul actually publicly confronted the Apostle Peter about his behaviour.
11 But when Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas (Peter) before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
The issue here is that Peter grew up as a Jew and had ordinarily followed certain rules about how one should behave and about what one should eat. So when he was with the the gentiles he was happy to enjoy his freedom in Christ but when the circumcision party (Christians who also were once Jews) arrived he didn’t want to be seen as not obeying old traditions.
Here we see that Paul is reminding Peter that because of the all-sufficient achievement of Christ on the cross of Calvary we are no longer bound by “law” (by following certain rituals and traditions and rules) – we now live righteously by faith.
Let me just highlight four traditions that are often seen as a necessary part of Christianity but are in fact unnecessary – they might be helpful and meaningful from time to time but they are not necessary to your relationship with God:
1. Lent – Helpful to give things up and to spend time remembering what Jesus went through in achieving our salvation – but we also need to remember that Jesus cried ‘it is finished’ on the cross – meaning that nothing else needs to be added – no tradition, no good behaviour – nothing – his grace is enough for me (and for you).
2. Confessional Booth – The bible encourages us to be accountable with each other and as such it’s healthy to confess sin (wrong doing) to each other. But this particular tradition becomes very dangerous when we start only confessing sin to a vicar and not to Jesus. The whole purpose of the cross was to bring us back into relationship with God, Jesus dealt with our sin so that we could have relationship with Him. If we start going to a vicar instead of Jesus, hoping that the vicar can deal with sin then not only could we be guilty of idolatry but we are also still lost in our sin.
3. Performing Hail Mary’s – I have seen this used time and time again for long periods of time where believers will pray to Mary asking her to intercede for them because they are sinners. This has a similar result of the confessional booth in that people turn to someone other than Jesus, they turn to someone created instead of creator God hoping that they can deal with their issue of sin. Perhaps it’s because it’s far too scandalous for our minds to cope with the fact that it is indeed creator God who took it on himself to deal with our sin and shame – we aren’t used to that sort of behaviour. We absolutely must not turn to anyone other than Jesus for absolution from our sinfulness. That’s why Jesus said in John 14 v 6: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
4. The use of Rosary Beads – This is where believers will repeat various prayers whilst running their fingers around the rosary beads. This often used to focus the believers mind on important moments of salvation history. I actually think this is often very helpful for people – anything that gets people meditating on Christ and what he achieved has to be a good thing. The only time this starts to become unhealthy is when we as believers start to practise using the rosary beads because we have just done something wrong and in order to show God we are sorry we pray ritualistically.
My other slight draw back to the Hail Mary’s and the Rosary Beads is that it just doesn’t communicate much of a relationship. We have become adopted children to Father God and therefore we need to communicate to Him as though He were our Father (because He is).
With the above two traditions things can get awfully unnatural and robotic. I would be very upset if every time my son wanted to communicate with me he just reeled off repeated prayers that I had heard a million times already.
So as I finish this blog on tradition and Lent let me say that if you are practising Lent then I hope it is doing you good – but don’t forget that it’s not a necessary part of your relationship with God. “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”