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My Vocation

My vocation has become clearer as the years go by: to study the unchanging God without something else to do, some pragmatic reason or result. This is what I feel most called to do: simply enjoy the study of God – not write about it, not view it in relation to its political residue or imagine that my opinions will have some visible  social effect. The joy of inquiry into God is a sufficient end in itself, not only as a means to some practical consequence.

Thomas C. Oden, The Rebirth of Orthodoxy, p. 95

(Photo by Ben White on Unsplash)

Pursuing Christlikeness (part 1)

Yesterday, we learned that to be conformed to Christ’s image means firstly that our bodies will someday be transformed to be like his glorious body. It’s equivalent therefore to “attaining the resurrection from the dead” which Paul talks about in Philippians chapter 3.

Philippians 3:12-16 ESV

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. [13] Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, [14] I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. [15] Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. [16] Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

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Christlikeness

I listened to a sermon on Christlikeness today and afterwards felt the urge to reflect more on the topic and write down my thoughts.

First, there is no doubt that Christlikeness is God’s goal for us; it is that to which he has predestined us.

Romans 8:29 KJV

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

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Bewitched!

“Are you so foolish? Having started with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3 NRSV)

INTRODUCTION

Read Galatians 3:1-5.

Why do people not believe that salvation is by grace through faith alone in Christ? One reason is because Satan has bewitched them (2 Cor. 4:3-4).

However, some Christians who believe that God graciously accepts them by virtue of what Christ did for them and not because they deserve to be so accepted on the basis of their performance, think that maintaining that acceptance is something they should earn by their efforts. They find it hard to believe that from first to last God accepts them by grace through faith in Christ alone and not by works.

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Preserving the Gospel

“And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” (Galatians 2:4, 5 NKJV)

INTRODUCTION

Read Galatians 2:1-14.

This was a crucial time in the life of the early church. The way of salvation was at stake. Would the gospel remain pure or would it be polluted? We owe Paul a great debt of gratitude for his efforts in preserving the gospel.

The gospel is the power of God unto salvation. If it were to be distorted (such as the teaching which says that salvation is earned by our performance and is not a free gift of grace received by faith), the result will be people will be deprived of the only way to be saved.

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Here I Stand

One of my favorite hobbies is writing songs. Here’s a song where I’ve combined a lot of things I’m interested in: theology, music, poetry, preaching. It’s actually a sermon in the form of a song on the doctrine of justification by faith alone. The title is taken from Roland Bainton’s Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther – a book which I really enjoyed reading. I do hope many will be blessed by the message of this song.

Ravings of a Lesser God

“Rebellious, sinful man no longer bows his knees to God, he has set himself up as a god. And each one becomes a god, and so there is discord and disunity, rivalry and strife.” (D. M. Lloyd Jones, Christian Unity, p. 129)

How is it with me?

I am a world in the world;
I am the center of my cosmos.
Do not mistake this for the ravings of a madman.
It is not madness you hear,
But the selfishness of a heart
Drowning in a sea of desires.

But that is perfectly legitimate –
Is it not?
To love one’s self above all else,
To be sovereign and lord
In a world of my own making,
To be god in my own mind.

But why be god in my own mind merely?
Why not be god in the real world too?
Simply because the real world
Is a stubborn place filled with stubborn people:

Everyone else wants to be god!

How stupid can they be!
Can’t they see there can be room only for one god?

I should be loved!
I should be worshipped!
I should be cared for
And magnificently pampered!
But no; I have been unjustly deprived
Of all that should be mine!

Well then, the real world
Is a hard place to live in.
But no matter:
I could always live in the recesses of my own mind.

Call it insanity if you wish.
I would rather be insane and divine,
I would rather be happy in fantasy,
Than bewildered and perplexed
In the real world.

Copyright 2020. Dennis M. Cortes

(Photo by Armin Lotfi on Unsplash)

Not Enough Time

Time is finite like the sand
imprisoned in an hour glass.
I cannot do all I would like;
a few more grains and all is past.

Too many books, so little read;
too many dreams, so few fulfilled;
too many melodies still unheard;
too many choices – which to make?

The act of choosing pierces me,
like an arrow through a sparrow
swiftly falling from the sky,
born to soar and then to die.

If only I was single-eyed,
focused on essentials!
But if I choose the true and tried,
where is life’s adventure?

(Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash)

Copyright Dennis M. Cortes 2020

The Power of the Gospel in the Life of Paul

Galatians 1:11-24

[11] For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. [12] For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. [13] For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. [14] And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. [15] But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, [16] was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; [17] nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

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Paternity Leave for Probationary Employees

I haven’t blogged on law for a long time. I’ve been planning to but I just couldn’t get around to doing so. But every now and then a client would ask me an interesting question and it occurred to me that maybe I could hit two birds with one stone: Do research on that question and convert it to a blogpost!

So here’s the question: Can probationary employees avail of paternity leave?

But first, What is paternity leave? Here’s the definition according to Section 3 of Republic Act 8187 (Paternity Leave Act of 1996):

SECTION 3. Definition of Term. – For purposes of this Act,  Paternity Leave refers to the benefits granted to a married  male employee allowing him not to report for work for seven (7) days but continues to earn the compensation therefor, on the  condition that his spouse has delivered a child or suffered a  miscarriage for purposes of enabling him to effectively lend support to his wife in her period of recovery and/or in the  nursing of the newly-born child.

And who may avail of this Paternity Leave? Section 2 of the law gives the answer:

SECTION 2. Notwithstanding any law, rules and regulations to the contrary, every married male employee in the  private and public sectors shall be entitled to a paternity leave  of seven (7) days with full pay for the first four (4) deliveries of  the legitimate spouse with whom he is cohabiting. The male  employee applying for paternity leave shall notify his employer of the pregnancy of his legitimate spouse and the   expected date of such delivery.

For purposes of this Act, delivery shall include childbirth  or any miscarriage.

The law mentions “every married male employee in the private and public sectors”. But does he have to be a regular employee before he can avail of paternity leave? Section 1(b) of the Implementing Rules clarifies the meaning of employee in this provision:

“Employee” refers to any person who performs services for another and receives compensation therefor, provided an employer-employee relationship exists between them.

We are now in a position to answer our original question: Can a probationary employee avail of paternity leave? Yes, because the paternity leave law (as clarified by the Implementing Rules) doesn’t distinguish between regular and probationary employees. Of course, he still has to comply with the conditions provided in the law, but probationary employment status by itself doesn’t disqualify him from availing of paternity leave.

Incidentally, there’s a new law that came out early in 2019 that expanded maternity leave. This new law allows a female worker entitled to maternity leave benefits to allocate up to seven (7) days of said benefits to the child’s father, whether or not the same is married to the female worker. But that’s going to be a blog post for another day.

God’s Comfort

Isaiah 40:1-2

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the LORD’S hand
double for all her sins.

INTRODUCTION:

In this passage, we read of God’s directive to his prophet and by extension to his ministers to comfort his people for he knows that they very much need it. And in the matter of giving comfort, as in everything else which God bestows for our good, our God is not stingy but very generous. Thus, in this passage we learn that there is in our God an abundance of comfort, which consists of rest and pardon.

Isaiah here is prophesying to God’s people (Israel or Judah) who will someday be exiled to Babylon as punishment for their sins. Although God will discipline them, still he intends to bring them back to their homeland. Hence, the Lord instructs his messengers to comfort his people. There are spiritual truths here however that extend far beyond the particular case of the Babylonian exiles.

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