Don’t Delay. Turn Away.

There’s one song that comes into my mind when I reflected on Judges 17 to 21. It’s a famous song – part of the top 10 list of videoke songs. Do you know Frank Sinatra? Do you know his legendary song? I did it may way.

Frank-Sinatra-My-Way

When we look at Judges 17 to 21 it takes us into two different conclusions for the book. Two stories that show they just wanted to do it their way. One story talks about idolatry, while the other highlights rape and murder. Here the bible gives us a good picture of the effects of sin and how man will try to do what it thinks is right but in the end it is still far from what the Lord expects of His people.

There is much to learn from these passages. If only we would really take the time to read and be sensitive to what the Lord wants us to learn. This is passage (like any passage in the Bible) is important to read and internalize that we learn not to take sin lightly and know what God said in His word that we may not go our own way. Sin has life threatening effects. Some may feel that they are getting away with their sin, but that’s not really true. There are consequences. There are effects. And if we’re not careful how we live, the consequence might involve another person’s life.

Micahs-IdolsIf you would read Judges 17-18, here you would read Micah and his mother building her own idol and even a shrine. Honestly, I can’t understand why his mother would do this since she mentioned in verse 3 “the Lord.” The Hebrew for the Lord there is not any of those menial gods but it is referring to Yehovah, which is the proper name of the God of Israel.

How could this be though? If she knows who the Lord is, that the Lord commanded in Exodus 20 (the Ten Commandments) not to create any idol, why would she even do this? What I realized is this; man will try to still do what they want to do. Knowing who God is does not guarantee that we will act in accordance with what we know. We will still try to do things our own way. This sin led others to sin as well. Here we would see initial this idols were used in Micah’s household but eventually it resulted in having a whole tribe worship these idols as well. Sin has consequences. The sad part about this is, it also resulted in other committing the same sin. How about you? Is there is a sin in your life that you think you can get away with? Is your sin causing others to sin as well? Ask God for forgiveness now and correct it. Do not delay. God said in his word that if we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our trespasses.

Then another story can be seen in Judges 19-21. If you read these chapters, you would immediately we able to recall what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah. It looks exactly the same. Here we would see a traveller who stopped in a city to rest. No one took him in, but one man was kind enough to be hospitable to him. During that night, men from the city came and this man’s house and demanded that he brings them his guest so they can have sex with him. The man did not want to do this so, he offered his virgin daughter instead plus the man’s concubine. Doesn’t this sound like the same story in Sodom and Gomorrah?

So what happened? The men insisted and the guest brought her concubine out to them without any hesitation and they raped her and abused her until dawn. I cannot even imagine what they did to take. It’s just so immoral and so inhumane. What happened to the woman? We would see in verse 26, she came back to the man’s house and fell down at the doorway – dead at arrival. The guest got his concubine, went to his home and cut the dead body into twelve pieces. Then he sent a pieces all throughout the territory of Israel.

You may ask, what was the consequence of this?

sodom-gomorrahThe same as Sodom and Gomorrah, a total wipe out of a city. This caused such a stir in Israel that the whole land roused up to purge wickedness from this city (Gibeah). Leading to the destruction of a whole tribe. Again, sin has its consequence. Sodom and Gomorrah were totally destroyed. And Gibeah and the sons of Benjamin were also totally destroyed. The entire city and all their cattle were killed. All the cities under the Benjamites were set on fire.

Again, how about you? Is there is a sin in your life that you think you can get away with? Are you taking your sin lightly? You should take sin seriously. Sin can have tremendous effects on your life and the life of those around you.

We should learn how to purge the sin in our life immediately. The Lord is gracious. If we will learn how to be humble and daily walk in forgiveness, I know he will restore us. Don’t delay. Ask forgiveness. Turn away from sin.

Wow, it’s been one year already?

I guess it’s true that you will never feel time passing by so quickly when you are doing the things that you love. A couple of days ago a friend of mine reminded me about something. I totally forgot about it. I wasn’t even counting the days. He just simply reminded me that it’s already a year since I began working full-time.

 

One Year as a Full Time Church Staff

My first day as a full-time worker in the church was September 1, 2014. I remember during that time that it didn’t feel different from what I was doing before. This time though, I was no longer a volunteer and I will have more time to really focus on working for the Lord. But there was tremendous pressure on my shoulders. The pressure did not really come from external factors. It was just mainly because of my own expectation and what I really want to see and happen.

God is good. He is always good. Little did I know that all the pressure that I was experiencing was just his way of making me depend on him more and just rely on Him. Deep within my heart, I just really want to reach out to more people and share Jesus to them. I just want to listen to stories of singles being transformed all because of the grace and power of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So many things happened that I couldn’t even try to write them all down. If you’ve been following my posts, I haven’t even been able to write a blog entry for the past couple of months due to so many things. Last August was one tiring, but fulfilling week for me. Every week I was preaching. Last August 23, 2015 was my first time to speak in our Sunday morning services. It was a great experience and I learn a lot. Heard from people as well that they were blessed with the message and I give the glory all to the Lord.

What I’m just really trying to say is that I enjoy what I am doing right now. I needed to sacrifice my career and even take a lower salary. It was all part of losing my life and saving it for something greater in return. It’s been a year since I went full-time. I thank God for calling me into his service. I am excited for another year to become part of His work. I’m really looking forward to planning for 2016, and what the Lord will be doing in and through us. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

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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