Thursday, 30 June 2011
The appointment was booked for this week, and I headed off in some trepidation. When the young man who was due to do the massage chatted with me beforehand, he seemed quite keen to let me know that a sports massage was unlike an ordinary massage, and could be "quite uncomfortable" at times. Those words didn't exactly put me at ease, but I obediently laid out and let him get to work!
I soon discovered what he meant, especially when he came to my calf muscles. It was all I could do not to jump up and run out of the room. When the man had finished, he gave me another warning that I would probably feel the after-effects for another couple of days! It certainly got me to thinking about the old saying, "No pain, no gain". I've said it myself many times over the years. I don't think that the saying is true in every situation, but it probably does have an element of truth about it. Certainly if I hadn't put myself through some fairly strict training (and some pain) over recent months I wouldn't have managed a P.B. in the Leeds 10K.
Maybe this gives us some insight into the apparently rather strange instructions of James in his letter in the New Testament: 'Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.' He knew very well that if life is always easy, a person's Christian faith can grow weak and flabby. It is in facing tough and difficult times, when a person's faith is tested and exercised, that faith grows stronger. Food for thought.
Not that I will be rushing back for another sports massage!
Monday, 20 June 2011
One should always have a definite objective, in a walk as in life - it is so much more satisfying to reach a target by personal effort than to wander aimlessly. An objective is an ambition, and life without ambition is ... well, aimless wandering.
Yesterday was the 5th Leeds 10K, inaugurated by the inspirational late Jane Tomlinson, and continued since her death by her family. I have entered each one of the events, and never managed to complete the course in less than one hour. I was determined this year to try and beat the 60 minute barrier. My training over the year had gone fairly well. I have never been one to particularly enjoy running longer distances, but as my fitness has improved I have slowly begun to appreciate the runs more and more. Conditions yesterday were ideal for running, with some rain, and a fairly cool temperature. There is no doubt that joining with thousands of other runners, and being cheered on by people lining the route, was a great help and inspiration. I was beginning to run out of energy over the final 2 kilometres, but managed to keep going, and achieved a time of 55 minutes 52 seconds, with which I was highly delighted. Goal achieved!
There are lots of parallels one could draw between a 10K run and the Christian life. But the area which I have been thinking about relates to the whole issue of aims and goals. The difference is that in the Christian life it is God who, in a sense, sets our goals for us. The question is, are we listening to what he says, and are we up for the challenge. The good news us that he promises to be with us all the way, and give is the strength to reach the finishing line!
Monday, 13 June 2011
So what is a weed? According to GardenWeb, "A weed is a plant that is growing where it is not wanted." Sounds like a reasonable definition to me. But the reality is that most people are prejudiced against certain plants, and automatically think of them as weeds. Take dandelions, for example; they are actually quite beautiful in their own way, but most gardeners do their best to remove them long before they flower (probably because of the multitudinous seeds which appear after the petals!)
A couple of days ago I decided to take advantage of a break in the rain to mow the lawns. However, when I got to the front lawn I noticed that some lovely orange plants had appeared there. In reality they would be classed by many as weeds, but to me they were too beautiful to destroy. I decided that the front lawn would have to wait to be mown. I want to enjoy the "weeds" for a few more days!
A couple of weeks ago we had a poster at the front of church which read something like this: "Society's rejects are welcomed by God". One of our church members didn't appreciate the poster; she said that she didn't like to think of anyone being classed as a reject. I understand the point, but the sad truth is that many people do feel rejected by society, and the poster was making the point that those who are rejected by others will always be loved and welcomed by God.
Jesus demonstrated, through his public ministry, God's love for those who were despised and downtrodden in his society. He was severely criticised by the religious leaders, and even given the name "friend of sinners". And that's just what he was! Jesus went out of his way to show that God's love, grace and forgiveness are for everyone, regardless of their background, skin colour or status. All who came to Jesus in faith were welcomed. Those of us who claim to be followers of Jesus need to shown that same love and acceptance.
Monday, 6 June 2011
For the past 4 years or so I have been privileged to be chaplain to Doncaster Rovers FC. I am a lifelong football supporter, being brought up by my Dad to support Hull City. Being Rovers' chaplain has meant that I haven't been able to see my “first love” (in footballing terms) all that often, but it has nevertheless been a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Apart from anything else, being chaplain to a football club has enabled me to see something of what goes on “behind the scenes”.
Being chaplain has given me the opportunity to meet some great people at the football club; not just the playing staff, but also the management, admin and support staff. I have to say that the rather negative image which I mentioned above has proved to be wide of the mark where the Rovers' playing staff are concerned. They are a great bunch of lads, and it has been my privilege to get to know them and spend some time with them.
Doncaster Rovers is a relatively small club, which is keen to get involved in the local community. The players give of their time to visit local schools and other organisations. Three of the players, along with other Rovers' staff, have recently travelled to South America to scale the Andes to the Inca Trail, at high altitudes of over 15,000ft; they will walk over 62 miles of rugged terrain on the roof of the continent. Their aim is to raise £50,000 for the NSPCC, and this during their “holiday” period. A great example of public figures using their influence for good through personal commitment. And a great reminder that we should never try to “tar everyone with the same brush”. If you want to discover more about the trek, click this link: http://www.roversincatrek.co.uk
Jesus said, “it is better to give than to receive”. He knew that, paradoxically, it is in giving generously that we receive; I am sure that the members of the team who are undertaking the trek will find that by giving of themselves they gain far more then they give.