Shooting for Jesus

Jeremy Kendle has played basketball for some of Australia’s best teams since he moved here from the USA in 2015. He’s part of the Toowoomba Mountaineers’ team and was named the Queensland league’s most valuable player. A great season with the Bendigo Braves earned him a spot on the Brisbane Bullets’ roster. He also played with New Zealand’s Canterbury Rams and the Sydney Kings before returning to the Bullets last year.

But ten years ago, it seemed impossible he’d ever be in demand. In 2008, after years of devastating injuries, he wondered whether he’d ever be able to follow his passion. In a Vision180 interview with Alex, he revealed that this difficult period brought him closer to God, and inspired him to build his own ministry, with basketball as his platform.

Jeremy was born in Jeffersonville, Indiana, a basketball town in a basketball state. It’s a place full of kids with big dreams. His Dad put the ball in his hands at a young age. When Michael Jordan was in his prime, he became Jeremy’s idol. He also took inspiration from Penny Hardaway and Shaq O’Neal during their hot streak for the Orlando Magic.

Jeremy stood out from the crowd in high school, but things started to go wrong when he broke his foot in senior year. After playing on it for the rest of the season, he let it heal before junior college. ‘About a week before I went off to junior college,’ he said, ‘I re-broke that same foot.’

The foot didn’t heal over the following season, so he had to have surgery. The first surgery was unsuccessful, which meant another operation, and more precious time lost in recovery. Thanks to all these setbacks, through his first three years in college, Jeremy hadn’t played a single game.

But his struggle wasn’t over yet. On his first day of training, Jeremy broke his other foot. After more downtime and healing over the Christmas break, he returned, and broke that foot yet again. ‘Three, three and a half years straight,’ he said, ‘where I went from broken foot to broken foot to broken foot.’

‘There was a lot of setbacks, a lot of “why God?” moments, a lot of pain,’ he admitted. ‘I think in that season of my life I did a lot of searching, trying to figure out what happens if I can’t play basketball.’

‘It lead me closer to God, and that relationship was starting to build. It was a long three, three and a half years, but it taught me a lot about just being persistent, and keeping your faith despite how things may look. Pushing through pain, just getting through that mental barrier as best I could.’

Jeremy’s mental recovery took even longer than his physical healing. For a long time, he was convinced that every ache or pain was another break. ‘But once you get free to do your thing and play,’ he said, ‘you’ve just got to go for it, have the perspective, and hope that things are going to work out physically.’

my character is what I need to develop most. That’s the most important. 

And finally, they did. Jeremy played three healthy seasons for Bellarmine University, where he won the 2011 Division championship. And it was his coach at Bellarmine who got him a spot with the Mountaineers. He says it was just before he got to Australia that he surrendered everything to Christ.

He hadn’t grown up in a family where church was important, but his long ordeal had inspired him to look for answers. ‘It really got me researching, and trying to find out for myself what was up with this Jesus character. It changed my life completely, completely turned everything around.’

‘Ultimately, sport’s going to end for us all. For me, that tells me that maybe my character is what I need to develop most. That’s the most important. So that means not finding your identity in your circumstances, or one missed shot, or one injury, or one bad game, or whatever it is. But instead finding your identity in your beliefs, your convictions, your faith, your attitude and character.’

That’s the message he’s spreading through the ministries he’s a part of. Hoops for Christ, founded by a good friend, seeks to use the game as a platform for sharing the Gospel, and planting young players in local churches.

His personal ministry, Jeremy Kendle Basketball, shares a similar approach, building up the next generation by offering them life skills that will stay with them once the game is over. ‘We want to make sure that we’re leaving the players that we train with something that they’re going to take with them after basketball,’ he said.

Basketball is his lifelong passion, but Jeremy knows where his talent came from. He understands the responsibility that comes with it. He sees the game he loves as a chance to serve the community, and help the people around him. ‘I believe wholeheartedly that’s what I’m here to do,’ he said.

‘God’s been good. I’ve been able to travel the world, and I hope to continue to use the game, never let it use me, and just help people with it, any way possible.’

Check out jeremykendlebasketball.com

Listen to more of the interview below

 

Inside Job: 2

‘It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you.’ John 16:7 NAS

It’s so hard when someone you love leaves—and you know that you’re never likely to see them again in your lifetime. So imagine how disciples felt when Jesus said He had to go, but assured them it was to their ‘advantage’. They had no idea who the Helper was.

But in fact Jesus was opening a new era of power and authority for them (see John 14:12). Being ‘under new management’ wasn’t the end, but a continuation of Christ’s ministry under the Holy Spirit. The Son would leave, but the Spirit would ‘abide with them for ever.’ (John 14:16 KJV) This was their ‘advantage’. The Spirit would enter their human bodies and live permanently in them! This is no faltering, fuzzy, on-off connection. It’s God’s Spirit choosing us as His permanent dwelling place.

Have you ever considered the ‘advantage’ this gives you? For example, you might wake up tomorrow feeling stressed, tired and grumpy, and these feelings could easily dictate your day. But because the Spirit lives in you, these things don’t have to control you. Paul writes, ‘Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you?’ (1 Corinthians 6:19 NKJV) Once you accept that promise by faith, you become God’s temple. You can be at work or school, hanging out with friends or doing your chores and, as you go about your everyday life, God’s Spirit is living in you. Can you see now why Jesus told the disciples it was good for Him to leave and send the Holy Spirit? Whatever you do, don’t let this life-changing truth slide by you!

SoulFood: Rev 15–18, Mark 11:1–11, Ps 124, Pro 12:26

word4today an adaptation of The Word For Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright © 2019

Today’s Readings

Revelation 15–18 ()

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15:1 Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished.

And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,

  “Great and amazing are your deeds,
    O Lord God the Almighty!
  Just and true are your ways,
    O King of the nations!
  Who will not fear, O Lord,
    and glorify your name?
  For you alone are holy.
    All nations will come
    and worship you,
  for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

After this I looked, and the sanctuary of the tent of witness in heaven was opened, and out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues, clothed in pure, bright linen, with golden sashes around their chests. And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever, and the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.

16:1 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.”

So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth, and harmful and painful sores came upon the people who bore the mark of the beast and worshiped its image.

The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a corpse, and every living thing died that was in the sea.

The third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood. And I heard the angel in charge of the waters say,

  “Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was,
    for you brought these judgments.
  For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets,
    and you have given them blood to drink.
  It is what they deserve!”

And I heard the altar saying,

  “Yes, Lord God the Almighty,
    true and just are your judgments!”

The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.

10 The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in anguish 11 and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds.

12 The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the kings from the east. 13 And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. 14 For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. 15 (“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”) 16 And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.

17 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” 18 And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. 19 The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath. 20 And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found. 21 And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe.

17:1 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk.” And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth's abominations.” And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.

When I saw her, I marveled greatly. But the angel said to me, “Why do you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns that carries her. The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come. This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; 10 they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while. 11 As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to destruction. 12 And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. 13 These are of one mind, and they hand over their power and authority to the beast. 14 They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.”

15 And the angel said to me, “The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages. 16 And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire, 17 for God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. 18 And the woman that you saw is the great city that has dominion over the kings of the earth.”

18:1 After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory. And he called out with a mighty voice,

  “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!
    She has become a dwelling place for demons,
  a haunt for every unclean spirit,
    a haunt for every unclean bird,
    a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast.
  For all nations have drunk
    the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality,
  and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her,
    and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living.”

Then I heard another voice from heaven saying,

  “Come out of her, my people,
    lest you take part in her sins,
  lest you share in her plagues;
  for her sins are heaped high as heaven,
    and God has remembered her iniquities.
  Pay her back as she herself has paid back others,
    and repay her double for her deeds;
    mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed.
  As she glorified herself and lived in luxury,
    so give her a like measure of torment and mourning,
  since in her heart she says,
    ‘I sit as a queen,
  I am no widow,
    and mourning I shall never see.’
  For this reason her plagues will come in a single day,
    death and mourning and famine,
  and she will be burned up with fire;
    for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her.”

And the kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning. 10 They will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say,

  “Alas! Alas! You great city,
    you mighty city, Babylon!
  For in a single hour your judgment has come.”

11 And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, 12 cargo of gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fine linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet cloth, all kinds of scented wood, all kinds of articles of ivory, all kinds of articles of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble, 13 cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls.

14   “The fruit for which your soul longed
    has gone from you,
  and all your delicacies and your splendors
    are lost to you,
    never to be found again!”

15 The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud,

16   “Alas, alas, for the great city
    that was clothed in fine linen,
      in purple and scarlet,
    adorned with gold,
      with jewels, and with pearls!
17   For in a single hour all this wealth has been laid waste.”

And all shipmasters and seafaring men, sailors and all whose trade is on the sea, stood far off 18 and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning,

  “What city was like the great city?”

19 And they threw dust on their heads as they wept and mourned, crying out,

  “Alas, alas, for the great city
    where all who had ships at sea
    grew rich by her wealth!
  For in a single hour she has been laid waste.
20   Rejoice over her, O heaven,
    and you saints and apostles and prophets,
  for God has given judgment for you against her!”

21 Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying,

  “So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence,
    and will be found no more;
22   and the sound of harpists and musicians, of flute players and trumpeters,
    will be heard in you no more,
  and a craftsman of any craft
    will be found in you no more,
  and the sound of the mill
    will be heard in you no more,
23   and the light of a lamp
    will shine in you no more,
  and the voice of bridegroom and bride
    will be heard in you no more,
  for your merchants were the great ones of the earth,
    and all nations were deceived by your sorcery.
24   And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints,
    and of all who have been slain on earth.”

Mark 11:1–11 ()

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11:1 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”

11 And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

Psalm 124 ()

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A Song of Ascents. Of David.

124:1   If it had not been the LORD who was on our side—
    let Israel now say—
  if it had not been the LORD who was on our side
    when people rose up against us,
  then they would have swallowed us up alive,
    when their anger was kindled against us;
  then the flood would have swept us away,
    the torrent would have gone over us;
  then over us would have gone
    the raging waters.
  Blessed be the LORD,
    who has not given us
    as prey to their teeth!
  We have escaped like a bird
    from the snare of the fowlers;
  the snare is broken,
    and we have escaped!
  Our help is in the name of the LORD,
    who made heaven and earth.

Proverbs 12:26 ()

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26   One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor,
    but the way of the wicked leads them astray.

Sat 01 June, 2019


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