Monday, August 24, 2009

Food, Focus, Football and Changes

Quite a lot to put out tonight and it’s a job to keep it all in perspective, but I’ll give it me best shot.

First of all there is a saying that in terms of the meals of the day that it’s best to have breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. I’ve never really lived by that ethic at all always looking forward to dinner like a king, lunch like a prince and breakfast like the pauper’s apprentice. Still, today I enjoyed the benefits of such a lifestyle.

Not sure if I’ve told you, but my dearly beloved mother is currently with us here in Stoke-on-Trent. That means she cooks. Authrine has no problem with that at all and doesn’t see it as a slight to her cooking. In fact I get the impression she sees it as a weight off her domestic responsibilities. In any case the mother cooks and of late she has been feeding me as if I needed to be bolstered with the goodness that comes with heaps of food. Seriously two full plates of food are not unusual for meals whilst the rest of the family muddle through their single plate. She loves me, I guess. I’m not complaining.

This has a bearing, though, for Sunday breakfasts because such is the filling nature of those breakfasts that I seriously don’t have to think about eating again for the rest of the day. That was definitely the case yesterday when another one of her beauties had me almost out for the count for the rest of the day. It was bad enough that I had a real long relaxing soak in a bath, to come out of that into the kind of breakfast that I received; I was seriously of no use to anyone until I had a two hour nap!

Anyway, because of that I seriously didn’t need anything to eat for the rest of the day and we came back home from the party rather late as I may have mentioned. So this morning now, Mum wants to make the most of the food that’s been coming in so sets up a breakfast for me. Well you shouldn’t need me to tell you how big that breakfast was. And as a result again I did not require another meal for the rest of the day.

I got some chips from a chip shop and it was meant to be a large portion but it was fairly pathetically small in content for a large portion, but even that didn’t bother me as the morning’s shipment would see me through with that minimal top up.

Moral of the story – if you’re filled up properly in the day it should last you for the rest of the day. That’s not just about the importance of breakfast – that’s about the importance of feasting full of the Spirit to be able to motor through the day because you’ve been filled.

Also as a sub-plot moral – it’s good to have a generous, loving mother on your side and an equally kind and loving wife only too willing to allow the mother to get on with what she does best so that her son can keep on trucking through the day.

Believe or not, that’s not the main reason for blogging this evening.

I had the privilege of watching Liverpool vs. Aston Villa at my mate Matt’s house this evening. Last season we watched the equivalent fixture in a pub in Shelton (a district of Stoke-on-Trent for those who live outside the centre of the known universe). In that match Villa was soundly thrashed 5-0 by Liverpool.

On this occasion Villa deservedly walked away from Anfield with the three points for the first time in about eight years. They won 3-1 and it was no less than their performance merited.

Now you may recall that I’ve resolved to look at my approach to football in the light of looking to honour God in that pursuit, so it’s not about being emotionally distraught at the result of a football match or getting over analytical on what that means for events still to be decided over the next nine months. What it does provide is good entertainment for watching the match with a friend.

Young Matt, you see, is a Villa fan and although he’s relatively young in the Lord, he’s not young in the Villa and as an engrained fan it too everything in him not to gloat at the victory. Although that did not stop him celebrating at the key turning points in the match. It was amusing watching him endeavour to compose himself as we related further just to see if I was still alright and needed anything … like tissues. All good quality fun and a privilege as I said to just watch it with the brother at his crib.

I could go into analysis about why Liverpool lost the match, but there’s a principle in it that has bearings for far more significant issues. I link that, however, to the reading that I was doing as I walked from Matt’s house back to my own. As you may know I love reading and I especially enjoy reading whilst walking if I can manage to do that on a long journey from one place to another. Doing so increases the reading time – which is a good thing, and also drastically cuts down on any transport costs that may have been incurred had I sought a taxi or public transport.

So as I stated in a previous blog I’m reading McKinstry’s bio on Sir Alf Ramsey and it has reached the point where Ramsey has taken a small provincial club like Ipswich and got them promoted up through the Third to the Second to the First Division and now in their first season in the top flight they win the League Championship itself to the surprise of all the pundits. Such a remarkable achievement eventually gets him recognition from the FA who approaches him to become the next England manager back in 1962.

One of the provisos of accepting the post is that he completes the 1962/63 season with Ipswich. It is during that season that the Champions suffer dramatically and the principle to which I’m referring emerges. A critique of Ramsey is that he remains too loyal to the players and the system that won him the Championship. By now other clubs have sussed it out and are taking points off the team. The decline sets in so that the season after he leaves the club gets relegated.

So what is the principle in question? It is this – what gets you somewhere is not necessarily what will keep you somewhere. Different methods are required at different stages to maintain growth otherwise stagnancy sets in and worse still rather than progressing we regress.

McKinstry points out that Ramsey’s loyalty to players and systems would also be at the heart of his downfall as England manager. The link to the Liverpool match is that although Rafa adjusted tactics, he was slow to change them sufficiently sticking to a system that no longer met the need of the time. Such loyalty to such a system when you don’t really have the personnel for it can lead to results like the one tonight.

Likewise every day’s challenges have a specific tactic that will ensure success in that day. That particular tactic, however, is not applicable to the following day, or even the day after that. The overall objective remains – to grow – but the method in which that is done must be relevant to the circumstances.

We have to be sensitive to divine instructions to allow us to know how to approach every day, not by relying on yesterday’s methods alone, but seeing what wisdom there is for today through God’s Word. Otherwise we run the danger of not progressing, but stagnating and regressing.

Its application in my life is that I’m clear that I’m all about glorifying God in body with all I have in me. To do that, I need to focus on the author and finisher of my faith – Jesus Christ. In order to do that, however, I need to be filled by, led by and able to walk in the Spirit that rose JC from the grave. Getting all of that done is to be on the look-out for the daily bread God provides me every day in my YMCA work, in my family life, in my church interactions, in the books I read, football matches I watch, conversations I have, food I eat – especially at breakfast, etc.

Being responsive in this fashion allows me to know when my season is to bring forth fruit and then work in line with the season that I’m in.

Just wanted to share that with you.

For His Name's Sake



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