Songwriter

I force myself to write a song;
I find it hard to write.
What will it take to make it strong?
I strive with all my might.

And even if there’s no one else
To listen to my song,
I’d never give up on my gift.
To do so would be wrong.

Success is not the only goal
That one can have in life.
At least, I’ve made the effort;
At least, at least, I’ve tried.

And when my days have quickly passed,
And I have no more voice,
I’ll still feel gladness at the last,
Although my eyes are moist.

Copyright 2020 Dennis Cortes

Photo by Jefferson Santos on Unsplash

Rain

Believe the raindrops from above;
There is a Providence that cares.
Lovingkindness watches o’er us,
Watering plants and trees and grass.

The earth drinks in the pouring rain;
The skies are happy to oblige.
The gifts of heaven, daily given,
Are free. Receive – and more besides!

2020 Copyright Dennis Cortes

Photo by Geetanjal Khanna on Unsplash

Temptation

I totter on the steep cliff’s edge.
The roaring waves like music
Beckon to me: “Hurl thyself
Onto the waiting rocks!”

Ne’er have Jaws been so alluring;
Flames leap up the watery pit.
Devils’ heartbeats are expecting:
”Come on down! Come, lift thy feet!”

(I think it’s a good idea to write a poem every time I write a devotional. That way I get to hit two birds with one stone. I also think it would be a good idea to sometimes explain what I’ve written. For example, the poem above is not an encouragement to end one’s life. It’s a picture of temptation. I wanted to capture horrific aspects of temptation: seduction, destruction, enticement, hellishness, etc. It’s serious and demonic and not something to treat lightly. And yes, giving in to temptation is akin to suicide.)

Photo by Lane Smith on Unsplash

Copyright Dennis Cortes 2020

Something in my hand

I carry something in my hand
as heavy as this big round world:
A book so full of heavenly wisdom,
more precious than perishable gold.

An explanation is in order: I’m now applying Atomic Habits to my blogging. Since it’s so difficult for me to get started writing a poem nowadays, I decided to write just one stanza a week. At least I get to write something. Better than nothing.

Copyright Dennis Cortes 2020

Lead Us Not Into Temptation

TEXT:

Matthew 6:13

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

INTRODUCTION

Sin is the Christian’s greatest grief. Christians can still sin and this happens when we succumb to temptation. Temptation isn’t sin, but giving in to temptation is. We need to be prepared for temptation when it strikes. We should prepare ahead of time how we may avoid it.

EXPLANATION

Temptation is common to man (1 Cor. 10:13). It is part of human experience. Christians are not exempt from temptation. Even the Lord Jesus Christ himself was tempted in the wilderness.

God is not the author of temptation (James 1:13, 15), but he is the governor of it. He does not directly tempt anyone, but he does allow it in accordance with his own wise and good purposes. Thus, he allowed Satan to sift Peter like wheat (Luke 22:31-32). And Joseph could say to his brothers who did a lot of evil towards him, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20).

We need God’s help to avoid and overcome temptation (Hebrews 2:18). We can’t do in in our own strength.

But although God provides the strength and the wisdom, we are to also exercise responsibility in the matter. We are to watch and pray that we may not enter into temptation (Matthew 26:41). And we are to resist the devil, so that he may flee from us (James 4:7). We should also plan ahead to avoid circumstances that unnecessarily expose us to temptations. Ironically, we sometimes tempt the devil to tempt us!

APPLICATION

Do we regularly pray to be preserved from temptation and delivered from the evil one?

Photo by Nick Coleman on Unsplash

For me to live is Christ

TEXT:

Philippians 1:19-30

INTRODUCTION:

Probably the most important question in life is: What is the meaning of my life? How should I live my life? Paul answers this question in a very straightforward manner: To live is Christ. And why not? After all, he gave his life for us!

2 Corinthians 5:15 ESV
[15] and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Philippians 1:20
as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.

Continue reading “For me to live is Christ”

To be frank . . .

I’ve been wondering lately about what my blogging is accomplishing, if any. What I’ve noticed is this:

Most of those who follow my blog do so after reading a poem or a devotional that I’ve written. Almost no one follows my blog after reading a legal article that I’ve written.

Also, it’s my poems that get the most likes. That’s an encouragement to me, actually, because I don’t really consider myself as being a good poet.

But it’s my legal articles that get the most traffic and practically all of these articles were written by me years ago! Everyday there’s someone who visits this blog in order to read a legal article that I’ve posted. A few of these articles comprise more than 50%, I think, of all the views I’ve gotten on this blog.

As for everything else, such as a poem or a devotional, these will get a number of views on the day they’re posted, and that’s it! They’re forgotten and for all practical purposes, gone.

What comes to my mind after considering all this? The 80/20 principle. Only 20% of one’s activities generates 80% of the results. Whether I like it or not, it’s the legal articles that get the most traffic on this blog, even if they’re not what I most enjoy writing about. And logic dictates that if I want my blogging to be a productive activity according to objective criteria, I should be blogging more about the law than about other things.

Come to think of it, this blog did start out as a blawg. It still is, but no so much as it used to be. Maybe after this pandemic is over, I’ll be blogging more about the law.

The Importance of the Gospel

“12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually advanced the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard, and to everyone else, that my imprisonment is because I am in Christ. 14 Most of the brothers have gained confidence in the Lord from my imprisonment and dare even more to speak the word fearlessly. 15 To be sure, some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of good will. 16 These preach out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; 17 the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, thinking that they will cause me trouble in my imprisonment. 18 What does it matter? Only that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is proclaimed, and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice . . .”

Philippians 1:12-18 (CSB)

Introduction:

What is the gospel? It is the good news of salvation: Christ died, was buried, and rose again for the forgiveness of our sins (1 Cor. 15:3-4).

Why is the gospel important? Because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16-17).

  1. The Advance of the Gospel (Phil. 1:12-14)

Paul was in prison, but what others saw as a misfortune, he saw as an opportunity to promote the gospel. Adverse circumstances may be blessings in disguise in that God allows them in order to spread the gospel. In this case, the finest soldiers of the Roman Army were exposed to the gospel by being chained to Paul. God is able to produce good out of evil (Rom. 8:28).

Another benefit that Paul saw in his situation was how his example was emboldening others to share the gospel. The lesson here is: Our courage in sharing the gospel in spite of persecution serves to encourage others to be courageous also.

If the gospel is all-important to us, it changes the way we see our circumstances: Instead of considering them as unfortunate events, we consider them as blessings or opportunities. Just like this pandemic. True, it is a tragedy. Nevertheless, because of it, more people not only have more time for the gospel, they also have greater willingness to engage with it.

  1. Abuse of the Gospel. (Phil. 1:15-17)

Unfortunately, there’s a wrong way to preach the gospel: One can do so out of a spirit of envy and rivalry. Some preachers were taking advantage of Paul’s imprisonment to increase their own importance and influence.

There should be no competition when it comes to the gospel. This is not about who’s the best preacher or whose church is the biggest. It’s about Jesus Christ and him alone (1 Cor. 3:5-9; 1 Cor. 2:1-5). “He must increase, I must decrease” (John 3:30).

The right motive in sharing the gospel is love and compassion (2 Cor. 5:14; Mark 6:34). We share the gospel because, as Steve Green put it in his song, people need the Lord.

  1. Application of the Gospel (Phil. 1:18)

We should apply the gospel to our lives. One way to do so is to make it the basis of our joy. Our joy is not dependent on circumstances. Our joy depends on what we consider important. For Paul, what is important is that Christ is preached; what happened to him didn’t really matter as long as Christ is proclaimed. That’s what gave him joy (Phil. 1:21; 3:7-8).

Application:

  1. Do we share the gospel?
  2. Do we find our joy in circumstances or in the gospel?
  3. How do we make use of the opportunities in our circumstances to advance the gospel?

Prayer:

Lord, help us to find our joy in you and in your gospel. Amen.

Photo by Nycholas Benaia on Unsplash

Choosing My Life’s Passion

Choosing my life’s passion
is a top priority:
Shall I climb a mountain?
Shall I climb a tree?

Shall I write a poem?
Shall I write a song?
Practice my profession
or play piano all day long?

Shall I preach the gospel
and lead people to the Lord?
or become a judge
and hear cases till I’m bored!

This is paralyzing,
having to decide.
Why not just surrender
to the current or the tide?

Copyright 2020 Dennis M. Cortes

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

A Road to Somewhere

A road that leads somewhere
is what I’m searching for;
not some endless maze
that nowhere goes
save in circles and deadends.

I’ve no desire to walk
a road that leads nowhere;
for what difference does it make
if I trudge on or lie down
never to rise again?

But if my steps are ordered right
by powers higher than my own,
towards a destination set and sure,
then I will strive with all my might
to reach my pre-ordainéd end.

Copyright 2020 Dennis M. Cortes

Photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash