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David Goundry

Soccer & Scripture #Celebration (Part 7)

One of the best parts of soccer is goal celebrations—the joy and elation, passion, pride, delight (and possibly relief) expressed after scoring a goal and securing the win.

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There have been many famous goal celebrations over the years, all with their own unique signature. A few I consider iconic:

  • Alan Shearer, one of the most prolific goal scorers of the modern era with a record 260 Premier League goals, kept his celebrations simple. He would simply run away from the goal with his right arm raised to the sky.
  • 38-year old Roger Milla stole the hearts of every fan by scoring 4 goals during the 1990 World Cup in Italy, leading the first African national team to the quarter finals. He also dazzled us with a samba-styled dance at the corner flag which emanated pure joy.
  • Though they were only playing in front of about 50 fans, Icelandic football team Stjarnan FC produced one of the most well-rehearsed goal celebrations of all time. The now infamous “Going Fishing” routine went viral and encouraged multiple other creative goal celebrations around the globe.
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But no example could be more poignant than what happened this summer at the Junior Soccer World Challenge tournament. The world was shocked and touched by the unexpected win reaction of Barcelona’s Under 12 team. They ended the match 1-0 after scoring late in the game against Japanese team Omiya Ardija Junior. The young Barcelona team started to celebrate their victory—until they noticed how distraught the defeated Japanese players looked. Led by captain Adria Capdevila Puigmal they went to each opposing player and encouraged them with words, hugs and face slaps. In that moment, those 12-year-olds demonstrated more maturity than many professional athletes. They knew how to be humble in victory and taught us all a lesson in how to win well.

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The mentality to “win at any cost” that is constantly drilled into our children from a young age can produce major imbalances in their ability to handle victories and defeats and to demonstrate good sportsmanship. From what is portrayed in media to what they witness on the sports field, our children are bombarded with the message that winning is everything and second place is the first loser.

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This ethos is dangerous. It creates dissatisfaction with their great efforts if they do not result in victory. How many times have we seen the glum faces of silver and bronze medalists on the Olympic podium? Why is second and third place met with such great displeasure? They shouldn’t be!

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In his 1910 poem “IF”, Rudyard Kipling wrote: “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same – then you’ll be a man my son!” There is a danger in being overly invested in either victory or defeat. Letting our emotions ride on either one produces unhealthy results.

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The Bible has plenty to say on this subject. These are just two examples that come to mind.

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That Barcelona team of 12-year-olds knew how to be humble in victory and value others because they were “lowly in spirit.” They knew they could just as easily have been on the other side of that defeat, and that knowledge gave them empathy for the players who were.

Enjoy the game of soccer and all it has to offer. If you have the chance, coach your children in the sport and help them grow – but never lose sight of the fact that our aim as parents is to create men and women of God.

May our greatest celebration be that our children grow up into biblically grounded adults, strong in both word and deed in Jesus’ name.

Soccer and Scripture (Part 6) #CloseControl

I have coached my son on multiple soccer teams since he was 3 years old. As someone who loves the sport, the next greatest thing to playing yourself is teaching others how to play the beautiful game. Seeing faces light up as they discover and master a new skill is a thrill for any coach. One of the most important technical skills you can help a young player develop is how to have close control of the ball using both feet. Many players today rely on their dominant leg. When they are forced to use their weaker leg, their control falters exposing their vulnerability and often forfeiting the ball to the other team.

To build up control and endurance, I start every practice with the same two drills: “Walk the Dog” and “The Snake.” In “Walk the Dog” we set 4 cones in a 20×20 foot square and have each player run with the ball around the square—first in a clock-wise direction, and then the other way. Players are to turn each corner as close to the cone as possible without losing control of the ball. I call it “Walk the Dog” because running with close ball control while turning corners is much like walking a real dog. You keep your dog on a leash so he doesn’t run away. We do the same when running at speed with the soccer ball. The goal is to keep the ball as close to you as possible, like it is on an invisible leash, so that you don’t lose that which is the most precious to you.

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These foundational skills are necessary to master “The Snake” as well. In this drill, several cones are placed in a straight line with a 3 foot gap between each one. Players then have to “slither” their way through the cones using the close ball control they have learned from “Walk the Dog.” They are forced to use both feet as they slalom from right to left. With every successful completion, we make the gap between the cones smaller and smaller to increase the challenge.

Some of the greatest dribblers in the modern game have all played for Barcelona: Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Neymar Jr, and Messi. All of these great players were able to run at speed and twist an opponent into something that resembled a human pretzel, all while maintaining the closest possible control over the ball. Neymar Jr.—in a game against the Argentine team River Plate—slalomed his way past 5 players before being cynically wiped out before he had a chance to shoot. In a game against Getafe, Lionel Messi went past several players at breakneck speed to score one of the greatest individual goals of all time. And it doesn’t take much YouTube research to find countless mesmerizing videos of Ronaldo and Ronaldinho manipulating the ball in close control mode while traveling the pitch at full speed.

Watching these phenomenal players guard the ball with exceptional skill drives home the point of “keeping that which is most precious close to me.” I am reminded of what is the most precious thing to me—Jesus. In his epistle, James states that if you “draw near to God then He will draw near to you and cleanse your hands and purify your hearts” (James 4:8). There is a great reward for keeping God close to us.

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As we raise our children to be strong in the Word of God, we would do well to take the soccer drill of “Walk the Dog,” pivot it to spiritual terms, and teach our young that they must also keep Jesus close to themselves as they grow.

The human propensity is to keep that which you deem the most valuable as close as possible. The question is, will that be Jesus or something from the evil influences of the world? Just before Jesus ascended into heaven He gave us the Great Commission and capped it off by saying these words, “And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world, Amen” (Matthew 28:20).

Let’s encourage and train up our kids to keep Jesus close…

 

Here are a few easy memory verses to get started:

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Soccer and Scripture (Part 5) #GiantKillers

Over the last century, many terms have become a part of soccer’s unofficial lexicon; phrases that perfectly describe situations that any avid fan of the game would understand. For example:

  • “It’s a game of two halves” –if your team has played terribly in the first half, there is a chance of redemption in the second.
  • “He’s got chalk on his boots” – this particular player is an old-style winger who loves nothing better than to run the length of the field and cross the ball from the wide positions.
  • “Punching the Old Onion Bag” – this has nothing to do with vegetables! Soccer fans know this as a reference to scoring a goal.

The game is littered with colloquialisms, and one of the most recognizable is the term, “Giant Killers.”

This phrase has a special place in the vocabulary of soccer. When a “small” team beats a “big” team in a knockout style competition, news sources report the team as, “Giant Killers.” The papers and TV love nothing better than a good “giant killing.” Over the last century there have been many of these slayings for reporters to publish:

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Everyone gets excited when the underdog pulls out a win.

Ask any “Giant Killing” team and they will tell you that, yes, they may have ridden their luck a bit, but what took them to victory was having a game plan. Most underdogs know that they can’t match their opponent’s strengths, so they devise a game plan that identifies their opponent’s weaknesses and plays up their own strengths. Knowing their identity as a team and being confident in their strengths allow them to stick to the plan and slay the giant.

Long before the game of soccer was invented, Jesus talked about the importance of having a game plan to succeed against unfavorable odds.

“What king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?” (Luke 14:31)

A game plan and belief in your own strengths are paramount in “giant killing.” The young shepherd boy David knew this. Goliath, the giant from the city of Gath, was a huge intimidating foe as he came out day after day for 40 consecutive hate-fueled monologues against the people of Israel. Dwarfed in size, the young David used what strengths God had given him to beat the giant. Confident in his slingshot skills, David exploited the giant’s weakness by drawing the giant into close proximity where he could more easily be defeated.

Just like any giant killing team and the shepherd David, we will all experience facing a giant. Only by knowing who we are in Christ will we truly be victorious. Even Jesus needed to know His identity to be prepared to do what lay before him.

The best way to help our children become “giant killers” is to bolster confidence in their identity by immersing them in Scripture’s truth. Surround them with verses declaring that they are loved by God, unique in His eyes and that they have been given specials skills and strengths that can overcome any giants they will face—with the help of the Lord.

Soccer + Scripture #Assisting (Part 4)

Growing up in the northeast part of England my friends and I would often find ourselves playing soccer on any surface possible. Grass or concrete, flat or uneven—it never mattered. We simply played for the love of the game.

As a child, all I wanted was the glory of scoring the goals that won the game. Back then I would imagine myself having the finishing qualities of one of the greatest English goal scorers of all time, Gary Lineker. I would try my best to replicate his finishing ability combined with his “sixth sense” of positioning. He always seemed to be in the right place at the right time.

As I grew, I tried to couple these attacking qualities with what I saw introduced by a new legend of the game, Thierry Henry. In August 1999 Arsenal paid Juventus an estimated fee of £11 million for this mercurial French winger. It wasn’t long before he was converted into Arsenal’s main striker and netted 175 goals for the club. It’s hard to suggest that there has there been a greater forward in the Premier League era than this brilliant architect of the modern game. Henry had the ability to glide across the pitch like a gazelle and calmly slot the ball past the goalkeeper. He was coolness personified.

SOCCER + SCRIPTURE | ASSISTING | UNDETERRED.NET

Alas, I never did make it anywhere close to their finishing standards. I came to realize that my own personal strengths on the field lay in the position behind or to the sides of the strikers. Practicing daily to use both feet to supply a pass that would split a defense or create a goal scoring opportunity from a crossing position became “my game.” I started to study different kinds of players—like Glenn Hoddle, who could pass a ball around the corner of a brick wall and still find the intended recipient. I analyzed the terrific David Beckham’s ability to cross the ball from wide areas and land it on a dime. Recently, the great Mesut Özil has captured my attention with his 180 assists in 449 games, and a passing accuracy rate of 86%. This is, simply put, incredible. Midfielders may not get the obvious glory that the striker gets for scoring goals, but without assists there are no goals.

SOCCER + SCRIPTURE | ASSISTING | UNDETERRED.NET

It is much the same in our own personal walk with Jesus. The longer I walk with Him the more I realize that the moments of “glory” don’t belong to me, but to God. The desire to be the leader or the hero is strong in all of us but that desire does not serve us well. Jesus Himself modeled what true leadership should look like. Luke penned these words about Jesus in the opening verse of Acts,

“The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach.”

I love this about Jesus’ style of leadership. He was never the overlord who dictated to people what to do, but He first set the example by doing, and then He taught us. Jesus could never be accused of seeking His own glory in leadership. He taught us that servant leadership is the best form of leadership. The kind of leadership that requires us to be humble and not self-seeking of personal advancement. The aim has always been to assist others.

Furthermore, servant leadership doesn’t demand recognition. In Matthew 6 Jesus told us not to practice our righteousness in front of others so that you will be noticed. He went on to warn that to do so forfeits our reward from the Father. Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to China, believed that Christians should do all things wholeheartedly, not just those actions that can be seen. He reasoned, “As our Father makes many a flower to bloom unseen in the lonely desert, let us do all that we can do, as under His eye, though no other eye ever take note of it.”[1] Assisting others may never be noticed by others, but God is watching and keeping an account.

In the Gospel of John, we see one of the greatest examples of being a servant leader when we read that Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. As He arose from supper and laid aside His garments, washed their feet and wiped them dry, Jesus taught us how not to seek our own glory but rather how to serve one another in love. In a time and age that tells children and youth that they have to be number one, the Word of God teaches us to assist others. Only then can we become great leaders for the Kingdom of God.

What are some ways you can assist others? Download this great worksheet to help your kids keep track of how they are assisting others!

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[1] https://bible.org/illustration/do-all-things-wholeheartedly

Soccer + Scripture: #Teamwork | Part 3

In soccer, like most sports, there are many ways to approach a game. A wide spectrum of tactics and play styles are available, and coaches like to develop their own philosophy about the game. They are often determined to select a style of play that will both define them and their team. All the time hoping and praying that their particular brand of soccer will bring success. But here’s what is interesting: seldom do you find a style of play that highlights just an individual player. Usually teamwork is the thing that is both emphasized and regarded in high esteem.

There have been several “soccer philosophies” throughout the years. A team from England called Wimbledon had a meteoric rise from non-league soccer to winning the oldest domestic cup competition in the world—the F.A. Cup. Their philosophy was what we call the “long ball.”  Simply thump the ball up field to your attacker and then bust a gut trying to support him. It often caused chaos, but that was often the key to its effectiveness. In the mid-90’s Everton FC had a rather low-skilled squad, but with plenty of heart. Managed by Joe Royle, this team fought for each other, and were affectionately labeled “The Dogs of War”. This ethos of teamwork characterized the entire team and resulted in them claiming the F.A. Cup in 1995. And then we have what is probably the greatest soccer style—when executed correctly—the short quick passing along the ground. Whether that is Brian Clough’s teams of the 70’s that believed the “ball travels faster than the man” or the Johan Cruyff inspired Barcelona of the new millennium with their “Tiki-Taka” one touch soccer. When a team is moving the ball along the ground at pace, it is poetry in motion. Not to mention expending less manpower because you are playing smarter rather than harder.

Soccer + Scripture | Undeterred.net

All these strategies about good game play remind me of what King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10:

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.”

Similar to the previously mentioned soccer tactics, we should endeavor to not work in silos. When we are determined to achieve a result by our own effort, while rejecting the help of others, we place ourselves in a poor position. Like the “Dogs of War,” the power in supporting teammates, friends or colleagues produces unbelievable victories. We can help each other through some difficult circumstances and pick each other up when we fall. It is the same with “Tiki-Taka” play style. You can conserve so much energy, last longer, go further and finish stronger. It is like that old African proverb,

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Teamwork is of vital importance in our Christian walk. We were not designed to be alone or work alone. We cannot succeed as the lone star of the team—we must work together.

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12

As you are parenting or mentoring a child to be a great team player, remind them that teamwork requires people to work cooperatively with others towards a shared purpose.

  • Talk about how great it feels to be a part of a team, and how upsetting it is to be excluded. Then encourage your child to look for those who are often left out and make sure they are invited.
  • Being competitive is admirable, but being a great sport and having a positive attitude in any situation is a great way to be a good witness to teammates and onlookers.
  • Practice teaming up by working on a project together at home—it could be artwork that everyone contributes to, planting a garden or coming up with a service project.
  • Play a board game in teams.
  • Organize a friendly game in your yard or park and have a chat beforehand on what it takes to be a good team and how each player can achieve excellent teamwork. Then extoll it when you see it!

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David GoundryRev. David Goundry was born in England before moving to the United States. He uses his abilities to teach, mentor and “prepare those who will go.” He enjoys traveling to many countries with the message of Jesus Christ to the children and youth of the world as well as an “ever-present” on foreign medical missions through International Christian Institute. David and his wife Luiza serve together in the music ministry at their church and have two children, Sarah and Samuel.

Soccer + Scripture #Goalkeeping (Part 2)

Recently, the Juventus and Italian national goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon set a new record when he went 947 minutes without conceding a goal. Anybody familiar with the game of soccer or who has played it knows what a phenomenal achievement this is. It is made even greater by that fact that Gigi (as he is affectionately known) at the age of 38 is no spring chicken. After the game, he penned a love letter to the goal he has guarded for more than a quarter of a century. Here is the letter:

“I was 12 when I turned my back on you, denying my past to guarantee you a safe future. I went with my heart; I went with my instinct. But the day I stopped looking you in the face is also the day that I started to love you. To protect you. To be your first and last line of defense. I promised myself that I would do everything not to see your face again. Or that I would do it as little as possible. It was painful every time I did, turning round and realizing I had disappointed you. Again and again. We have always been opposites yet we are complementary, like the sun and the moon. Forced to live side by side without being able to touch. Team-mates for life, a life in which we are denied all contact. More than 25 years ago I made my vow: I swore to protect you. Look after you. A shield against all your enemies. I’ve always thought about your welfare, putting it first even ahead of my own. I was 12 when I turned my back on my goal. And I will keep doing it as long as my legs, my head and my heart will allow.”[1]

Beautiful, isn’t it? The line that stuck out to me was, “I swore to protect you. Look after you. A shield against all your enemies.” Such an emotional letter written to an inanimate object! If the recipient of the letter were “the heart” instead of “the goal”—it would read very differently!

Soccer + Scripture | Undeterred.net

In the Book of Proverbs we are told, “Above all else, guard your heart, for out of it spring the issues of life.” The school my children attend thought this Scripture so important that they declared it the theme for the entire school year. The headmaster’s desire is for the children to embrace the concept of guarding their hearts against things that come to oppose them.

We would do well to guard our heart like a goalkeeper protects his goal. Nothing causes a goalkeeper more pain and disappointment than picking the ball out of the back of the net. It’s one of the most horrific feelings in soccer. It carries with it a tinge of embarrassment and shame for failing to protect the thing that is most important in the game.

Among a generation that has no regard for what is bombarding and damaging their supple hearts, we must train up our children through prayer and the Word of God to guard their hearts. The enemy will attack them in this crucial spot. 1 Peter 5:8 advises us to, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” As we are training up our children, we must coach them to be like a goalkeeper and guard that which is the most precious to them.

Look up the following verses as a family and choose one to display in a meaningful place in your home and memorize together.

Philippians 4:6-7
Psalm 51:10
Romans 12:2
Psalm 73:26
Luke 6:45

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[1] http://www.foxsports.com/soccer/story/juventus-goalkeeper-gianluigi-buffon-pens-emotional-letter-to-goal-032116

David Goundry

Rev. David Goundry was born in England before moving to the United States. He uses his abilities to teach, mentor and “prepare those who will go.” He enjoys traveling to many countries with the message of Jesus Christ to the children and youth of the world as well as an “ever-present” on foreign medical missions through International Christian Institute. David and his wife Luiza serve together in the music ministry at their church and have two children, Sarah and Samuel.

Soccer + Scripture: #FreeKicks (Part 1)

In soccer everyone loves a great free kick. That moment of anticipation between the player’s foot striking the ball and the net of the opponent’s goal bulging like an old onion bag. Whether it is watching David Beckham bend the ball into the top corner, Cristiano Ronaldo’s gunslinger pose before striking a ball that dips unexpectedly, Zlatan Ibrahimović cracking the ball so hard it is like watching Thor unleash his hammer or Roberto Carlos defying physics with his banana weaving heat seeking missile, we all love a great free kick.

But sometimes, in anticipation of the attacker booting a good ball toward the goal and praying it finds the back of the net, we forget to factor in…THE WALL.

If you watch closely you will often see the goalkeeper screaming at his defenders to make a strong wall; usually waving his fingers in the air to indicate how many players he wants strategically lined up in front of the net. Why? Because this defensive formation is paramount to whether or not the opposing team will be able to score. And nothing drives the strange species of sportsman we call “keepers” to lose their decorum like a ball flying through a gap in the wall and whacking the back of their net.

Undeterred.net | Soccer + Scripture

A gap in your wall is a terrible thing. Proverbs even warns against the dangers of this exact scenario.

Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.—Proverbs 25:28

As parents, we do everything we can from birth to keep our precious child safe. We put up baby gates and install cabinet locks and outlet covers until they can safely navigate and make safe choices on their own. The same vigilance applies to keeping our children spiritually safe. Until they are able to do it themselves, we must build up strong walls of prayer.

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. –Colossians 4:2

So many times in God’s Word we are commanded to be diligent and faithful, constantly in prayer. When we fail to do so, we have gaps in our walls. And it won’t be long before the opposing team finds that gap and exploits it.

We need to make sure that we are standing in the gap in prayer on behalf of our children, teaching them to pray without ceasing so they can fortify their own walls.

It is imperative that we raise the next generation as children who pray so that they will grow into adults who love to pray and recognize the critical importance of prayer. Model and encourage prayer at home and in every situation. Make sure their wall is strong and if there are gaps, stand firm together with them in those gaps. Keep the wall strong so the enemy has no opportunity to break through and score against us.

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David Goundry

Rev. David Goundry was born in England before moving to the United States. He uses his abilities to teach, mentor and “prepare those who will go.” He enjoys traveling to many countries with the message of Jesus Christ to the children and youth of the world as well as an “ever-present” on foreign medical missions through International Christian Institute. David and his wife Luiza serve together in the music ministry at their church and have two children, Sarah and Samuel.

No Question Is Too Small…

Most parents will be able to hear their kids’ voices in this familiar phrase; “But why Dad? Why Mom?” There are times when we find it endearing and, if we are honest, times when we find it frustrating. Most of you, even as you are reading this will have heard these very words already today. Ah! The life of a parent with young kids.
10270804_10152124694381790_72683563344375937_nMy own children are 3rd and 6th graders and over the last 5 years I have been asked questions about a range of different subjects. From historical European battles to current ISIS events; from Adam’s original sin to the opening of the 7 seals in Revelation. I have had to be ready to give an answer to all my kids’ questions. Of course, these usually come in the middle of a soccer game that’s on television or in the middle of a delicious steak plate. Their questions have impeccable timing.

As they have grown I have noticed that in the hectic schedule we parents often keep, these moments are too easy to pass over with a quick answer or even a quick dismissal of the question. This does not serve our children; instead it can actually stunt their growth in knowledge. I am always careful to be diligent in both the quality and quantity of time spent with my kids, but I noticed this area of answering their questions can quite easily slip through the cracks. I am learning to be more deliberate in these moments.

No question is too small; no question is too silly. It is vitally important that our kids feel comfortable enough to ask us anything. Of course, a household that thrives in good, open, and Godly communication provides a solid base for questions to arise. Just as a home that does not communicate well will not reap the benefits of kids coming to parents with life’s difficult questions.

Allow the questions to flow, do not be scared of them. In entertaining and answering these questions, we are equipping our children with knowledge that they may not get anywhere else. And it protects them from something even more detrimental—erroneous information that they believe to be true from others. A child asking their peers for information is not always the best way to gain the truth that they seek. But make no mistake, if we don’t allow them to ask us questions, they WILL ask their peers.

Take time, be brave, and let the questions come….


davidRev. David Goundry was born in England before moving to the United States. He uses his abilities to teach, mentor and “prepare those who will go.” He enjoys traveling to many countries with the message of Jesus Christ to the children and youth of the world as well as an “ever-present” on foreign medical missions through International Christian Institute. David and his wife Luiza serve together in the music ministry at their church and have two children, Sarah and Samuel.