An Open Letter to those who volunteered for Saturday Slow Down

Sometimes it takes years to see what you envisioned before to actually happen.  This is exactly what I realized last Saturday.

B1G South Saturday Slow Down

Last Saturday we launched our Saturday Slow Down sessions. Yearly we plan for an event that would use music to share Jesus to singles. Our first attempt was 2012; the event was entitled “Unplugged.” This was the moment when I was leading the worship team. Most of the band members and singers were new. I remember having so many concerns and issues during that time. It took months to practice songs and the team we’re still learning how to gel and play with one another. We were able to pull it off, but there were so many things to improve. The following year (2013), we did another unplugged session, but it felt like we did so much better last year. When 2014 came, we tried to do something different. We decided to use songs to remind, inspire and challenge believers to make disciples. It was better compared to the past two years, but deep inside of me I know we can do more.

Last Saturday though, was “it” for me. How the event happen is how I really wanted it to happen. It was how I initially envision it when began to plan an event like this back in 2012. The band was great. The program was smooth. The transitions were well practiced, and the message was tied up properly with the song. Overall, I praise God for his grace in allowing his event to happen smoothly. I just like to thank those who have volunteered to help and made this event successful. I know a lot of people sacrificed their time and effort – I thank God for all the volunteers.

Saturday Slow Down B1G South Worship TeamWorship Team, I know it’s not easy to play more than 10 songs. The “Arreglo” of the songs wasn’t that simple also, but all your hard work paid off! Everyone was playing his or her role and no one stood above another. I heard a team. I heard harmony. I saw unity. I’m thankful that everyone took the time to practice and improve his or her musicality. I hope your passion for your craft will not die down, but you will constantly seek to grow and improve more. May you never lose sight that you are given this talent to worship Jesus and to always play for the audience of one.

Production Team, wonderful job on the set design! You were able to create the ambiance that we wanted. The bulbs and lights looked awesome and very relaxing. I know preparing for this event was not easy as well. I know some of you were even working during the holiday. I really want to thank you for your commitment and service. Don’t lose the love for what you do. Don’t lose the focus of doing all this for the Lord. The Lord has blessed you with creative minds and it should all be given back to him.

Saturday Slow Down B1G South Marketing TeamMarketing Team, thank you for conceptualizing the theme of the event. The video was great – as usual. Thank you very much for using marketing skills to promote this event. Right now, we have around 20,000 views for our video. I know it was not easy to shoot a video like that, but as you’ve seen last Saturday, the hard work was and will always be worth it.

Admin and Food Team, your team is always in the background, but you hold an important role in the ministry. Thank you for your team’s effort to handle the registration and provide food for our aching tummies. The chill con carne tasted so good! Thank you for feeding more than a hundred people despite a limited budget. Thank you very much for your help.

B1G South Saturday Slow Down Ushering TeamUshering Team, I can see your team slowly growing. I’m blessed with your heart to welcome and engage our guest. It’s not an easy job. Sometimes you don’t even get appreciated, but I want you to know that I do appreciate what you guys are doing. I see everyone’s effort and contribution. Your team is really valuable and I’m blessed to see you everyone active and growing. Continue to build your team. Continue to be the front liners of love in this ministry.

Prayer Team, your prayers are very valuable and I thank you for always covering us with your prayer. I believe that this event was smooth because of prayers. Prayer is really a very powerful thing and I thank you for being our soldiers on bended knees.

There are other individuals that I want to personally thank, but I know I can’t mention everyone. Just note that I do appreciate and know all the efforts you have given to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. Great is all your reward in heaven. Thank you for everyone who helped. Words are not enough to express how thankful I am to God for everyone’s help and participation.

Philippians 1:3 – I thank my God in all my remembrance of you

There’s a storm, after the rainbow

Storm and Rainbow

I know what you may be thinking. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around, “There’s a rainbow, after the storm?” Allow me to explain where I am coming from.

Life is filled with ups and downs. The Christian walk is always a battle.  There are cases where we are defeated. There are cases where we are victorious. And when we are victorious, the more that we should be on guard, else we fall. I’ve realized in my Christian walk that temptations and problems normally come after a moment of victory.

Yesterday was one of those days where I felt I was victorious. I preached for 4 services yesterday. Speaking for 4 times is not an easy task. That’s why we really need to value and appreciate our pastors who have been doing that for years already. It was a moment of joy for me to know that I was able to speak for 4 services, without losing my voice and strength. It was a time of joy for me, most especially because I know deep within my heart I was able to depend on God all throughout the day. Lots of people approached me after each service to let me know they were blessed with the message. Hearing their feedback was not a moment for me to boost my ego, but to merely be encouraged that indeed the Lord is working through me and I am just his vessel. Every preacher should desire that their message would always point to Jesus and not to themselves. So I was in a position to go through the day with joy in my heart and sleep soundly after a very tiring day.

I know yesterday was the moment of victory. So today I should be vigilant, and careful not to put my guard down, else I fall into temptation. Indeed, just as expected you cannot be complacent – the battle continues.

My girlfriend and I intended to watch a movie today so I can relax. She said that she was willing to watch whatever movie I wanted. I was willing to watch either “The Intern” or the “The Martian,” whatever has a good schedule and location. If you know me, the only thing that I really want when a watch a movie (aside from the actual movie) is good popcorn. So we were driving around Makati, and Power Plant was the only mall we saw that was still showing “The Intern.” My girlfriend really wanted to watch this movie and I was good either way as long as there’s popcorn. Nonetheless, she told me that the popcorn there wasn’t that good so I decided that we watch “The Martian” in Greenbelt instead. Plus, my favorite popcorn can be bought there. After I mentioned this, she expressed her sadness towards my decision. This made me a little bit (just a little bit, hehe) frustrated; I thought she wanted to watch what I wanted, but here she is, expressing her discontent towards my decision. To make the long story short, as small as the issue seems for some of you, it led to an argument.

There was a moment where we were both quiet. While I was thinking, I know God was already talking to my heart asking me to ask for forgiveness for how I reacted. However my pride was still there. I wanted her to realize her mistake so I was really planning to cancel our plan to watch a movie and just go home. But God was still there, speaking in my heart not to let this petty argument grow bigger. I know I need to ask for forgiveness. I know I need to humble myself. I still drove to Greenbelt and parked the car so we can talk.

In the parking area, I told her why I got so frustrated. I told her that I was frustrated because she mentioned that she was willing to watch whatever movie I wanted. Then she told me that her moment of sadness was just to express what she felt but that doesn’t mean that she didn’t want to go to Greenbelt and watch another movie instead. I guess this is really the part where we say, “Men are from Mars, and Women are from Venus.” I asked for forgiveness and she did the same. Later on, we prayed and everything was fine again.

What’s my point? You have to always be on your guard. Whenever there are moments of victory you should praise God, but never put your guard down. Never be complacent. Keep watch and pray.

1 Peter 5:8 - Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

 

Whenever there is a moment of victory or joy, the more that you should pray and the more that you should be on your guard, else you fall. It’s not easy. Sometimes we would like to think when would the battle end. It will not. As long as we are in our flesh, there will always be temptations and we need to keep fighting. The battle goes on, but remember the war is already over.

Keep walking in the spirit and keep abiding in Christ. Apart from Him, we can do nothing. That’s why I praise God that he was speaking in my heart and he did not allow me to make our argument blow into proportions.

Keep fighting the good fight my friend. Let’s run the race well and finish strong. It’s going to be a long marathon, but the Lord has promised us that will He will never leave us, nor forsake us.

—————————————-

P.S. By the way, we still watched “The Martian” and it was a good movie. We enjoyed our time together even though we had an argument. This is just one of those moments where we need learn from our mistake and move on. Indeed we have, which led to us enjoy our time together, and thanking God for his goodness and grace.

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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