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.

Singleness Is A Blessing

Love, Sex and Dating

It’s important that we understand God’s amazing single design regarding our blessed singleness. We love to crack jokes about love and talk about it. Marriage has sometimes been a pursuit in life, but it is not just a means to an end in this single life.

We cannot get too caught up in Marriage. Yes, it is important but there are also other concerns we need to deal with ourselves. That’s why it’s important for us to establish a good foundation first regarding our singleness.

Being single happens only once whether it’s just a permanent or temporary state. It happens very fast and it happens to be a gift as well. Singleness is a Blessing.

For the majority, they will get married and it’s important to prepare for the journey towards that chapter. But for certain individuals God might have really blessed them to remain single – 1 Corinthians 7:1

7 Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman.

Paul said in verse 1 “which you wrote.” It seems the Corinthian church during that time had some questions to Paul about marriage and singleness. Not to touch a woman does not literally mean touch. He was referring to not having sexual relationship within marriage as he goes on verse 2

2 But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. 3 The husband must fulfil his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband.4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

During this time, Paul was writing to the Corinthian church in the City of Corinth. It was the chief city of Greece and was a large commercial city. Immorality was very rampant that it contained at least 12 temples and one of those temples is dedicated to Aphrodite, the goddess of love. The worshipers of this temple practiced religious prostitution. Immorality was widely known in Corinth that they used the Greek verb “to Corinthianize” meaning “to practice sexual immorality.

That’s why Paul addresses this concern in Chapter 6. Paul was saying so you will not be vulnerable to temptations due to the environment around you, get married There will still be a temptation even if you are married that’s why married people should fulfil their role sexually.

6 But this I say by way of concession, not of command. 7 Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that.

Paul is saying being married is not above staying single. Not an absolute command to marry. Not an absolute command to stay single. Being single is not “sub” or “super” spiritual since both marital statuses are a gift from God. Each man has his own gift as Paul said in verse 7. So don’t frown if you are permanently going to be single. It is a gift. A blessing!

Paul goes on with Chapter 7 and discusses some issues and then he addresses “singles” in verse 25.

25 Now concerning virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy.

Looking at the word virgin, Paul was referring to the unmarried ones.

When he said, “I have no command,” he is not saying here that his words are of human opinion. All scripture is inspired by God. Every word and sentence are divinely inspired and breathe in by God as stated in 2 Timothy 3:16.

What Paul was saying is while he was writing his letter, there was no divine revelation yet regarding this matter. But as He started to write then God used his mind, vocabulary and experience to produce His own perfect, infallible and inerrant word. Paul’s word is from the Lord and someone trustworthily inspired.

So this was Paul used by God to speak His words clearly why at this single time of your life you should secure an undivided attention to the Lord.

26 I think then that this is good in view of the present distress that it is good for a man to remain as he is.

The first reason Paul is advocating remaining single because of the present distress. What could be that the present distress?

Could it be the condition of the church, since there was sexual immorality? That doesn’t make sense because Paul was saying in verse 2 to 5 to get married because of this sin! So what can be the “present distress?”

It was not  specified what the present distress might be but as we look in verse 27 to 28, we will understand more what Paul was saying.

27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife.28 But if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you.

Life in other translations is “flesh” or it’s our human nature with its frailties (physically or morally) and passions, or simply to say being a human being. On the other hand, “trouble” is pressure.

It could have been that Paul was saying because of the present distress, which even us believers are already having a hard time with – battling temptations of sexual immorality,  our frailties as human beings – it is already hard enough for us to live in this world as a godly individual.

What more the pressure of trying to help someone and being responsible for another person due to marriage?

But despite the “trouble” or dealing with your flesh do not think that the easiest way out is to be released from your spouse.

Despite the possible conflicts and “troubles” due to imperfect people being united as one in marriage, – do not seek to be released. That’s why if you don’t have a spouse. Paul was saying don’t look for one.

But again as he said in verse 28, it doesn’t mean that when you look for a spouse and get married you have sinned.

It could have also been Paul saying I am trying to spare you from trouble in life. Referring to the hardships you will encounter when you are face persecution and married.

Persecution during that time was not verbal, it was physical. It meant your life in danger.

That’s why if you do not want to face the pressure (it will come naturally if you have a family) of thinking about your spouse and children when persecution comes then don’t get married.

Your wife will be in danger along with your children once persecution comes. Even if your spouse and children are from death and you weren’t, they would feel the pain of losing someone.

29 But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none; 30 and those who weep, as though they did not weep; and those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice; and those who buy, as though they did not possess; 31 and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away.

Time has been shortened doesn’t mean it has been reduced from 24 hours to 23.98 hours. It means the brevity of life. The shortness of Life which is nothing in comparison to eternity

As though they had none – not saying disregard your marriage but make the most out of your time serving the Lord even in marriage

It is also not saying you are not to have emotions, but not do not lose sight of your eternal perspective. Mourn, weep or wail but do not lose your eternal perspective. Despite persecution or even death that lurks – know yours and your brother’s and sister’s eternal destination. Rejoice, be glad or joyful. Rejoice and be happy here on earth but do not cling on too much of what the world is offering. Buy what you need but do not think you will own it forever since whatever you buy here on here will not be with you in eternity. Do not hold on to material possesses.

Why? It’s in verse 31. For the form of this world is passing away.

32 But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; 33 but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. 35 This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.

Lastly, Paul wants us just to be free from concern. There are certain specific responsibilities within marriage. Being a single allows you to secure undistracted devotion to Him. Here is a video from Ben Stuart found in desiring God as he discusses why securing undistracted devotion to the Lord is important during your season of being single.

 

Now I ask you the same question: have you secured that undivided devotion to Him?

Have you maximized your time fully to know the Lord and have a deep intimate relationship with Him? Do you have a regular and intimate, quiet time with the Lord? Do you make time to go to Bible Studies and be in fellowship with other believers? We have a singles fellowship every Saturday – to help singles fellowship with one another and grow in listening to God’s word

Have you applied what you have learned and continue to grow in the area of serving others? Have you taken the call to lead a discipleship group and took on the call of the great commission? Have you experienced the joy of serving in ministry according to the talents and gifts the Lord has given you?

I have always encouraged singles to serve! Because I know now is the time where you have the opportunity to give that undivided attention. No matter what you do, time will move forward. You will get easily tired and even at times cannot stay up late anymore.

Men, you will play a vital role in your family someday. If you are meant to be temporarily single, you need to make the most out of this time while single to prepare yourself for the next stage. Whatever you do men, you are called to lead. If you want to embrace the role God has set for you – you are meant to lead your family. Why not learn how to lead by example right now by serving in ministry and hopefully lead a cluster or group. Or better yet, lead your own discipleship group.

Now is the time, friends. God wants you fully to embrace your singleness and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord. Now is the time to be blessed while single and maximize your time without any responsibility from marriage. Devote it to the Lord.

I just want to share this to you, back then while I was in my late teens I wrote my goals before I reach 25. I remember what I wrote:

  • Get married
  • Have a big house
  • Own a business

These things are not bad. But I as walked with the Lord, I realize there are important things to put my focus into and that is to serve him at this time – at this moment! I see my friends getting engage, some very relax enjoying life and others traveling. When I look back at what I have given up, sometimes I wonder – what if. But despite everything else, it was all worth it! There is a cost if you want to follow Jesus. But seeing people getting to know the Lord and being changed by God is worth it. It’s worth it!

If ever, I walk down that aisle when I get married I want to be able to say – “Man, my single life was fully undivided for the Lord – now is another chapter and I embrace it!”

Do you want to be able to say the same?

Leave a comment below and share to us what are other ways you can secure that undivided attention to the Lord. God bless!

Note from the author: This is an excerpt from my message in B1G South Connect entitled “The Amazing Single Design”. The B1G South ministry is the singles ministry of CCF Alabang. We have service every Saturday at 6pm at the 3rd floor of CCF Alabang. Everyone is invited! I would love to meet you if you have time to visit.

Why I Write

Why I WriteIt’s been a while since I wrote anything in my blog. I hate it when I try to start my entry this way. Looking back in some of my entries, it has always been a subtle excuse – I’m just too busy to write. I was never fond of writing. I wrote in one of the articles that English was the subject I always had a lowest score. I love math and English is totally the opposite of what I feel about it.

But for the past two years, writing has been a part of my system. When I say writing, I don’t necessarily mean writing for my blog only. For the past few months I have written a lot and these things that I have written was mostly for my preaching and speaking sessions. Regarding my blog though it has been weeks since I wrote anything.

God has somehow always tried to get my attention again to write. Maybe that’s something He really wants me to do. One thing is clear to me though. It has been a good experience for me to journal everything the Lord is doing in my life and document it. That’s why I do this.

Despite my lack of confidence in my writing, I do this to document the Lord’s faithfulness in my life. I don’t know if you’ve experienced it as well, but when things go well in your life or even when things go bad you suddenly forget who the Lord is.

Last Saturday in our breakout session we talked about mementos or having something personal that would help you remember what the Lord has done. For me, it’s my blog. During that moment, I started to think and ask myself “but have I written anything lately?” Simple answer “no.” This made me realize I need to write again. Even John Piper’s lastest blog entry also challenged me to start reflecting and writing again.

I wrote a lot of experiences here.  Some garnered a lot of views and some didn’t. My entry about my B1G8 Retreat Experience during 2012 has the most number of views and my entries about the last B1G South True Life Retreat have been a good article about what God has done during that time. When I wrote down my retrospect entries, it was a tough one. It took me a couple of month before I was able to complete writing four entries about the change in me, my dgroup, leading the worship team and my experiences when B1G South was just starting. Whenever I read those entries again I just marvel at what the Lord has done.

I’m writing this article as another starting point; a reminder to myself to start writing again. I am not the best writer out there. Some may not even again to what I will write. In the end, I do this to just glorify the Lord and remember the goodness of his deeds and grace

 

Psalm 77:11

11 I shall remember the deeds of the Lord;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.

 

Through this blog, I want to bless my readers. My entries aim is only to bring glory to the Lord. This is why I write. I write this entry to let you know that maybe (just maybe) when I begin to slow down in my writing you can drop me a note and remind me why I need to do this. I know I need to make time and your encouragement will greatly help. You may have other ways to remind yourself about the Lord’s faithfulness, just drop a comment below and I want to hear from you. God bless!

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