Three things I learned from my 21k NatGeo run

natgeo 2015 start 21k marc sorongonIt’s been more than a week since I finished my first 21k marathon run. Unlike other runners, my only goal was to finish the race within two to three hours and not get injured.  Even though I only trained for 6 weeks, I was able to accomplish my goal.

The experience was worth it.  I remember as I was running during the marathon, so many realizations were coming into my head.  I was able to relate my physical marathon to my spiritual marathon. In the Bible, we would see a lot of verses talking about a Christian’s marathon.

1 Corinthians 9:24-25 - 24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25 Everyone who competes in the games exercises self- control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

 

2 Timothy 4:7 - I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;

 

Acts 20:24 - But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.

 

Hebrews 12:1-2 - 1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

The Christian’s life is a marathon. It is a race. Paul mentioned twice about finishing the course or finishing the race. Here are 3 things that I have learned from my 21k marathon run.

(1) It’s not how you start the race but how you end it well.

I started my race very slow. I know I can’t exert too much effort in the beginning. I can exhort my full effort and energy in the first 5 kilometers but that wouldn’t do me any good since I have 16 kilometers more to go. I know I just needed to pace myself. I praise God that for the first 11-12 kilometers I was able to jog without stopping, and just maintaining my pace.

finish-the-raceIf you would read what Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:7 and Acts 20:24, never did he mention or focus on how he started. What you would clearly see there is finishing the race well.

I have seen Christians who have started well but suddenly lost their way. They were on fire for the first couple of years. Serving the Lord here and there, and so in love with Him. But as the years go by and as they start to experience the troubles of life, they begin to slowly drift away. It’s really not how you start your walk with Christ. The real test is enduring the race and finishing well. If you didn’t start it out right, there is nothing wrong with picking yourself up, continue running and aim to finish strong.

Don’t give up. Finish the race. The battle is not with other people. It has always been with yourself, which is the second thing that I have learned.

 (2) It’s not about competing with other people but competing with yourself

natgeo 2015 after run marc sorongonOne thing nice about running a marathon is you get to push yourself to run, and not quit when you see other people running with you. I can still imagine my view while running my 21k marathon. There were just so many people in front of me.  I was thinking to myself, I couldn’t stop. People who were ahead of me kept going, I should do the same.

The people you are running with are not your competitors, they are your motivators. Just like in the Christian marathon, you are not competing with your brothers and sisters in Christ. They should be your source of encouragement and strength. The real battle is just the battle inside of you.

Look at what Hebrews 12:1-2 said “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us.” It was directing the problem with you. We should be focusing on our own run and not the run of others. We should stop and think if there is any thing that is hindering you from running my race well? Do I have a relationship that you are unwilling to give up, which is suppressing your relationship with God?  Or do you have sin that you are cherishing and unwilling to stop?

Lay aside those things that are weighing you down. The Lord wants you to run free from these hindrances. He doesn’t want you to just finish the race. He wants you to finish well. Aside from sin that would weigh us down, one thing that we need to battle inside of us is our endurance. Look at how Hebrews 12 mentioned it as well – run the race with endurance. It is a marathon. I only ran 21 kilometers, which is half a marathon. I cannot imagine what running 42 kilometers will be like. You have to have the proper endurance to finish the race. This is the same with us. We need to have endurance while running the race. Meaning, no matter what trials and problems come our way we need to endure them. No matter if your legs are already hurting, you need to endure. No matter if you are already losing your breath, you need to endure. No matter if are already behind the race, you need to endure. Fight the battle and run the race with endurance. Battle your flesh. Finish well.

(3) It’s not really about the perishable wealth but the imperishable

The one thing that kept me going during the last couple of kilometers was the thought of reaching the finish line. I have to be honest that the final kilometer was the hardest for me. Most of it was done walking rather than jogging. My legs were hurting and my hamstrings are getting stiff already. Nonetheless, I know the finish line is already there, so I just pushed myself to finish the race and try to jog as much as I can.

finishing the raceIdea of reaching the finish line is what kept me going. This should be the same for us running the Christian marathon. But our finish line is not a banner, which has those words in it. Instead we should aim to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Our focus should be set on our faith that someday we will be with Jesus. But the question is, what will Jesus say when you reach the finish line. Did you endure the race? Did you finish well? Did you remove everything that is hindering you from running the race? Did you focus too much on other people?

Finishing the race is not about rewards or what tangible (perishable) thing we will get. It is about pleasing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is about finishing well and having the confidence to meet Him face-to-face someday because we know we have fought a good fight – we have finished the race well.

O, may we desire to run the race well. Let’s focus our efforts in ensuring that we finish well. Let’s fight the good fight. Let’s focus on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.

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Do Not be Afraid – Luke 12:32 Reflection

As I ponder and reflect on a devotional from Desiring God and Luke 12:32, I am amazed at how God was compared to in different three ways.

 “Do not be afraid, little flock…”

He is our Shepherd. We are his flock. A shepherd guides his flock where to eat and drink. A shepherd protects his flock. A shepherd gives comfort to his flock because of his presence.

Psalms 23:1 – The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

 

Reflection – Where is your security anchored? Are you contented? With the Lord, I shall not be in want. He is my Shepherd.

 

…for your Father…”

He is our Father. We are his children. A father provides for his children. A father loves his children. A father listens to the concern of his children no matter how small it may be.

Galatians 4:6 – Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “ Abba! Father!”

 

Reflection – Do you realize that you can have an intimate relationship with God? When was the last time that you spent time with him? He is our Abba Father and he longs to be with us.

 

…has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.

He is our King. We are his servants. A king is powerful. A king is to be respected. A king is to be honored. A king is wealthy.

Psalm 24:1 – The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it

Reflection – when you assess your life and actions, do you think it honors the king? He is our shepherd and father but he is also our king.

Luke 12:32 starts with do not be afraid. We shouldn’t be afraid of our enemies because our shepherd protects us. We shouldn’t be afraid about being in need because our Father will provide for us. We shouldn’t be afraid about the capacity of our Father to provide because he is King.

Do not be afraid. What are you still afraid of?

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Gentleman’s Club

What is a gentleman? I tried searching for this in the internet and the results are outstanding.

Why is it outstanding? It’s just funny to realize that we need to educate ourselves how to be a gentleman because society has embrace a different view on how men should act towards women.

This message is specifically geared to men but there is also something to be learned for women. Most especially what you should look for in a man.

In today’s society, women are viewed, presented, talked about, and sung about like a commodity. One famous boxer said:

When it comes to females … even though you can’t drive 10 cars at one time, but … you got people that got 10 cars. So, you’re able to keep maintenance up on 10 cars. So, I feel that, as far as when it comes to females, that same thing should apply. If you’re able to take care of 20, then you should have 20.

 

That statement is just so twisted and far from the truth. If we would look at the biblical view of women before in the Old Testament, the primary position of the woman was within the context of family life. The father/husband exercised primary responsibility for the female members of the family which included slaves. The most important function of women in primitive society was childbearing. Childlessness was looked upon as a curse from God and a diminishing of a woman’s station in life. This was their primary role that why women were often uneducated and untrained. Women relied on their fathers, brothers, and husbands for provision and protection.

Those who were unmarried were often subjected to prostitution and slavery. Because of significant difference between the number of men and women, many women can be left in an undesirable situation. That’s why during that time people were polygamous. Polygamous meaning having more than one wife. A man would take multiple wives and serve as the provider and protector of all of them. This was not the ideal situation but living in a polygamist household was far better than for women to be in prostitution, slavery, or starvation. Aside from the protection/provision factor, polygamy enabled a much faster expansion of humanity, fulfilling God’s command to “be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth”

In the new testament, Jesus gives a new commandment: Love one another.

1 Peter 3:7 – You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.

 

Jesus gave no exceptions. We are commanded to love all: man, woman, & child. Paul also commanded men to love their wives as Jesus loved the church and gave himself for her. Plus we would also see in the New Testament that it is commanded that a husband is to be a head of the wife not the head of different wives.

Ephesians 5:23 – For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church.

 

This seemed like a shift of perspective in terms of marriage but actually nothing has changed as all. Even in the beginning of time, the design of God is for one man and one woman to be joined together. God permitting pologamy in the Old Testament because of cultural implications haven’t really changed how God wanted it in the beginning. So the New Testaments was just hammering and realigning the design of marriage to how it really should be.

That’s why men should learn to love their wives and be faithful to one alone. Even if we are not yet married, we should practice faithfulness in our relationships. This is a character that we want to bring to our future marriage someday if we are single. If men really want to learn how to act appropriate among women and how to treat them with respect, here are 2 practical things for guys to do:

1) Renew your mind to think differently.

It starts with the mind. You will act according to what you know. Your behaviour will be affected according to what you put in your mind. If you know about gravity then you will not jumping off a building, right? That’s why is important for us to guard our minds and heart and renew your thinking not to conform to the pattern of this world.

Romans 12:1-2 – Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

 

This is saying that because of what God has done for you, offering your body to him. He has justified you. He has made you righteousness because of Jesus Christ. He has freedom you from sin and He has given you ife in the Power of the Holy Spirit. He has shown you mercy. And because of these things offering your bodies. Your “bodies” does not mean just your hands, or just your eyes or just your feet. It is reffering to everything you are. Everything includes your heart and mind. When you offer yourself, you become that living sacrifice – something that is seen in action and something that people can relate to. You are being the light of the world.

Do not be conformed, but be transformed in the renewing of your mind, which is not a single event but a process. It is daily renewing of your mind. It is daily pondering of God’s truth

So stop filling your mind with dirt. If your playlist has songs that calls women “bitches or whores” it needs to be deleted immediately. It’s offensive to women and treats them as a commodity. Women should be mad if their man is listening to this type of music.

If you are filling your mind with pornography, slowly your mind is being taught that a real body isn’t good enough or one body isn’t good enough. Eventually it will lead you to be convince that your wife’s body isn’t good enough. Pornography deadens a man’s appetite for a real woman.

Renew your mind to think different. Renew it through spending time in God’s word.

2) Make up your mind to behave differently.

This is now where you decide that you want to make up your mind to think differently. You need to be the person you are looking, for is looking for. What does that mean? If you have qualities that you want in a certain partner, ensure that is you as well. That you would mean, rather than looking for a partner, prepare to be the best partner someday. Show love to people close to you. Do random acts of kindness. Treat your family members right and practice unconditional love to them. Learn how to develop the right kind of people through them

Make up your mind to think different. Decide right now to develop yourself to be the ideal partner for someone someday and fill your mind with the word of God

Again, this is not just an message for men but there are also two practical things woman can do to help men treat them well and not a commodity.

1) Dress moderately

Women, men needs your help on this. If you do not want to be treated as a commodity then show yourself as someone that should be treated with love and respect.

1 Timothy 2:9 – Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments,

 

2) Find contentment in God

Don’t go looking for a relationship by luring men. If you have develop yourself as someone who is attractive inside and out, naturally the opposite sex will notice you. But do not make it a pursuit of your life. Find your all in God first.

In the End, you don’t have to search the world or the internet to know who to act towards the opposite sex. All you need to know is what God is saying in his world. You cannot do what you do not know. If we want to remove all those wrong ideas, belief and thinking which leads to wrong actions, we need to continuously meditate and read God’s word. If we constantly read and meditate on God’s word, eventually our mind will clear-up just like this dirty water which eventually turned clear, as water continuously was poured into it.

Note from the author: This message was adopted from Northpoint Community Church, which is the church Pastored by Andy Stanley. Most of the content is from Andy Stanley’s material.

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