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.

The Truth About Finding “The One”

Singles, we have a problem! I like how this meme (jokingly) captures that essence of our problem.

One does not merely find the one

We look for the one. That one person that will make us happy. That one person that we can look at all day. But the problem is, one does not simply find the one.

I hope we can shift our perspective and learn a better principle we need to live by – search inside not outside. Let me clarify that as I discuss, and debunk the “Right Person” Myth.

MYTH #1 – If I marry the right person, everything will be alright.

This is one of the right person myths that we buy into. If I marry the right person, everything will be all right – no more problems, all butterflies and rainbows, in love – forever.

That’s why we want to meet the right one. Another version of the myth goes like this, “when I meet the right person, everything will be alright.”

MYTH #1 (revised) – If I meet the right person, everything will be alright

You cannot put all your hope in that one person because finding the “right person” does not mean that automatically everything is going to be happily-ever-after because each individual has their individual problems. Let’s look at this math equation:

One single person with problems + one single person with problems = High probability of a relationship/marital problems:

One single person with problems + one single person = Medium probability of a relationship/marital problems

One single person + one single person = Low probability of a relationship/marital problems

That’s why we have to think about it this way: the present will be your past which will be present in your future.

For example, how you perform today will affect tomorrow. If you have unfinished work you will be loaded with that unfinished work tomorrow. Your present, will be present in the future

If you are single and you are dealing with commitment issues, anger management or dishonestly, this will all be seen in the future or in your marriage. Or if you are single and you have learned how to love unconditionally, how to be patient and live a life of integrity, this will all be seen in the future or in your marriage as well.

Married people thought that when they get married, it’s going to be a new beginning, a brand new day, and indeed it usually feels that way when you get married. It feel like the past is gone, a brand new thing is coming, we’re moving on and we’re cutting all our ties from the past. That’s what they thought. What they didn’t know is this that their present, became their past, which will show up in their future. That’s why everything will not be totally be alright.

Also, people don’t get that saying “I do” does not mean it magically teachs you how to love, commit, respect and all the other good virtues a marriage needs. That doesn’t not make me un-romantic – it’s just common sense. Promising someone that you will speak Mandarin does not mean you can magically speak Mandarin.

The good things will also be brought into married but the bad things will be brought into as well so not everything will be alright. That’s why meeting the right person, will not necessarily mean everything will be alright.

MYTH #2 – Chemistry is Important in finding the One

They say, to know if she/he is the one there should be chemistry. And when there is so much chemistry, they’re convinced that they’ve met the right person.

So these people get together and they say, “You know you never buy a car without driving it first and you never buy shoes with trying them first.” They get into this intimacy thing going and the physical thing going and the sex thing going, and it feels like it’s the greatest thing in the world. When they’re together, they just stare at each other and go out to eat, drink and have fun. They believe they were made for each other – soul mates. They really believed, that it’s this one of a kind; no one can match this love.

They’re so convinced of their chemistry, so they get together, and they get married. They’re convinced that they’ve met the right person. And since I’ve met the right person, everything’s going to be alright.

But chemistry does not make a relationship work or last.

The problem is, all they had was chemistry. They knew nothing about relationships. The wrong mentality is this: when they meet the right person, I don’t have to be good at relationships because they’re going to be good at relationships, that’s why they’re the right person. I don’t have to be patient because she’s not going to do anything that will make me have to be patient. I don’t have to learn how to love unconditionally because I should not have a hard time loving him/her. I don’t have to get mad because she/he will always try to make me happy

There is a big difference between chemistry and commitment. Commitment deals with character and proper character is need for a relationship to work out. When they have problems. Guess what kind of problems they have? It’s not chemistry problems, they have relationship problems because they’re in a relationship.

But they didn’t do anything to prepare for the relationship because they taught chemistry is needed. They just believed this song in heart – love will keep us alive

Because they thought, it’s the right person myth, if I meet the right person and there is chemistry, everything’s going to be alright. Here is the sad part after all of the problems, they realize “I know what’s wrong with my marriage! I married the wrong person!” That why most 2nd marriages have a higher failure rate than 1st marriages because they do the very same thing again expecting different results. It becomes a cycle.

So instead of spending all your time and energy trying to find the “right person,” intentionally work on becoming the right person. Prepare for your future “right person.”

The Bible doesn’t tell us too much on how to find Mr or Mrs Right, but it does have lots of principles on how to prepare for a relationship. After all, we were created for a relationship but it doesn’t happen accidentally or magically – it takes work, intentionality, research, time, and effort

This is the new rule – Become the person you are looking for, is looking for?

If you want to prepare for a relationship learn how to love the right way and the Bible is super clear on what it means to love:

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.

Love isn’t a word, it’s a decision that shows into action. Love here means agape – it is a sacrificial and unconditional love

  • Patient
    • Forbearing or long suffering (picture of self-restraint)
    • Never pressures the other person (willing to wait)
    • How patient are you?
  • Kind
    • To show oneself useful
    • To act benevolently
    • Are you caring to the people you are with?
  • Does not envy
    • Does not covet
    • Not Jealous over
    • Do you have a Crab Mentality?
  • Does not boast; not Proud:
    • Not Boastful
    • You don’t always have to be right
    • Learn to admit when you are wrong.
    • Men, learn how to say “sorry!”
  • Does Not Dishonour:
    • Does not behave unseemly
    • Not engaging any person in ungodly activity
    • Doesn’t not start any unwholesome activity
  • It is not self-seeking
    • Considers the interest of others
    • Men, when was the last time you opened the door for someone?
    • Sometimes we neglect the simple things we need to practice
    • Practice selflessness
  • It is not easily angered and it keeps no record of wrong
    • Do not count the mistakes of others
    • Learn how to forgive – forgive and let go.
    • Relationships gets burned by counting faults
  • Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.
    • Never delighting in another person’s unrighteous behaviour, nor join it’s expression
    • Finding great joy when truth prevails in another person’s life
    • Express unshakeable confidence and trust in others
    • Outlast every assault of Satan to break up relationships

These are principles that must be developed and learned over time. Practice these characteristics in every relationship (family, friends, co-workers, and strangers) so that by the time the “right person” shows up in your life, it will be natural for you to do these things.

Best people to practice this is your family. How you treat your family might also be how you treat your family in the future. Practice and prepare. Show love to them. Learn how to develop the right kind of people through them Remember – the present will be your past which will be present in your future.
Stop looking, start preparing.

I know sometimes it’s hard to love and our capability to love can only be strong once we learn how much God loves you. The bible says that God is Love and we love because He first loved us. Immerse yourself in the love of God and allow it to change you. Only through the love of God will be have the capability to love others.

Don’t get hung up on looking for the right one. Be right first. Are you the person you are looking for, is looking for?

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.

Its been three years

Its been three years. I’ve been involved in different ministries before but I have never been as immersed as I am right now in a church ministry.

Its been three years…

Its been three years since I started serving in the singles ministry of CCF Alabang.

I remember the first year we re-launched the singles ministry and gave it the name B1G South. Why B1G South? Well, we just wanted to align with the name of the singles ministry in CCF Center, which was B1G, and we just want to be distinguished as the B1G ministry in the South, therefore the name B1G South.

The first year was exciting! There were too many things to expect and everyone looked hopeful about what the Lord can do. It was a time where everyone was on fire to serve. But as I have realized through the past three years, it’s not how you start – it’s how to you end and remain faithful.

True enough as the months and years passed by, slowly you’ll observe who are really those who are passionate about serving the Lord and continuing to run despite so many oppositions.

There were leaders who have said their goodbyes and I will forever be grateful for their heart of service. But there are those who have never said their goodbyes and just left. It’s sad. I hope everyone can give the same passion in serving God just like how it was when the ministry was starting.

crossroadBut the effect of time, failures, frustrations, disappointments, and a lot of other things can really leave a leader tired and worn out. At that time where he or she is at the crossroads of life, a decision should be made. Do you stay or do you go? Do you quit or do you continue to hope and run the marathon? By God’s grace, for the past three years I have chosen to continue to run, and have been trying to run well.

Was there a time where I wanted to throw the towel and quit? I would be lying if I said no. But what made me continue? What made me not quit? Honestly, I could not think of one reason alone, because there’s too many.

I love God too much to quit and exit saying “I quit because I don’t trust You, Lord.” I love the people that God has called me to serve that I cannot abandon my post until such time that I am assigned to another. I don’t want to look back and think what could have been. I want to look back and say I gave it my all – I tried to run the race as faithfully as I can. I want to continue putting my hope in God that I know he will always be faithful and true. I know my God is greater when I am not.

Its been three years…

I haven’t been perfect and there were times I haven’t been faithful to what the Lord wants me to do. But one thing will always remain the same. Throughout those years, the Lord has always been faithful.

My discipler asked us to write our faith monuments. Those times where you saw the Lord’s faithfulness in your life. As flawed individuals, we are very prone to forget. We can easily forget who the Lord is, and what he has done. And these faith monuments should be a reminder to you. When things get rough and you feel like quitting – don’t. Remember who the Lord is, He is faithful. Remember what the Lord has done, He has always been faithful.

This is one of my faith monuments. Throughout those three years, the Lord has been faithful. When he called me to start leading the ministry, I felt so inadequate. I had so many questions in my mind. I had so many fears inside.

I felt like Moses, saying to God “Me, Lord? Are you serious?” “I’m not even capable of preaching yet.” “I don’t know if I am eloquent enough.”

Exodus 4:10 – Then Moses said to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”

 

I felt like Jeremiah, saying to the Lord “I’m so young Lord, do you really want me to lead people who might be older than me”

Jeremiah 1:6-7 – 6 Then I said, “Alas, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, because I am a youth.” 7 But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ because everywhere I send you, you shall go, and all that I command you, you shall speak.

 

But I felt like Isaiah, saying to God “Here I am. Send me!

There was a conflict inside me, I was scared and felt so inadequate but I felt that this is really what he wants for me. The moment that I reject it and run away from it, I know dissatisfaction will just hunt me. So I said yes to the call and even went full-time after a couple of months.

Its been a year, since I started leading the B1GSouth ministry. Its been three years, since I served in this ministry. It has only been a year since I took over the role as the over all leader and being a leader is not an easy role. But to see lives get changed, all for the glory of God is priceless.

Its been three years…

I will forever be grateful to the one who has called me despite my unworthiness. I will forever serve the One who gave it all. I will forever sing praises to His name; giving Him always the glory He deserves.

Happy third anniversary B1G South. All glory to God alone!

B1G South 3rd Anniv

 

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