My Devotionals


2 ways to avoid the sin of “shoddy work”

One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys. (Proverbs 18:9)

There were many causes of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986. But a culture of “slack” work was undeniably a contributing factor. In his book, Midnight in Chernobyl, Adam Higginbotham explains that:

The quality of workmanship at all levels of Soviet manufacturing was so poor that building projects…were forced to incorporate an extra stage known as ‘preinstallation overhaul.’ Upon delivery from the factory, each piece of new equipment—transformers, turbines, switching gear—was stripped down to the last nut and bolt, checked for faults, repaired, and then reassembled according to the original specifications, as it should have been in the first place.

That’s an extreme example of what Solomon says in today’s passage—namely that mediocre work “destroys.”

Of course, it’s unlikely that poor performance in your job is going to lead...

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“Without God, we cannot. Without us, God will not.” Here’s how that leads to rest.

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans….In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps….The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord. (Proverbs 16:3, 9, 33)

In his terrific memoir, On Writing, novelist Stephen King says, “I used to tell interviewers that I wrote every day except for Christmas, the Fourth of July, and my birthday. That was a lie. I told them that because…I didn’t want to sound like a workaholic dweeb…The truth is that when I’m writing, I write every day…not working is the real work."

I deeply resonate with that last line for two reasons. First, because I (like you) love the work God has given me to do. Second, because rest is an act of faith—it’s a way of trusting that the world will keep spinning even if I’m not doing the spinning!

Yes, Scripture frequently commands us to hustle and work hard (see Colossians...

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3 practices for talking (and sinning) less today

When there are many words, wrongdoing is unavoidable, but one who restrains his lips is wise. (Proverbs 10:19)

Hamilton might be the fastest-moving musical of all-time. Sung at an average of 144 words per minute, the show is more than twice the speed as average-paced productions like Phantom of the Opera, largely because of how much the show’s protagonist, Alexander Hamilton, has to say.

When Hamilton first meets Aaron Burr on stage, Burr is blown away by how much Hamilton can talk. So he offers Hamilton some free advice: “Talk less…Fools who run their mouths off wind up dead”—a not so subtle foreshadowing of the day Hamilton’s “many words” will lead Burr to kill him in history’s most infamous duel.

That’s a good, albeit dramatic, case study of what God is warning us about in Proverbs 10:19. I love how the New Living Translation renders today’s passage: “Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your...

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An acronym for how to love your job without making it an idol

Dear children, keep yourselves from idols. (1 John 5:21)

We’ve seen a few helpful definitions of idolatry throughout this series. Let me offer my own: An idol is anything you can’t live without. It’s anything other than God that functions as your deepest source of joy.

And so, if we want to keep our work from becoming an idol, we would be wise to voluntarily practice self-denial—resting from the good gift of work as a means of proving to ourselves that God is the only thing we ultimately need.

Pastor Joe Rigney whose book Strangely Bright inspired me to write this devotional series says this about self-denial: “Biblical self-denial is the voluntary giving up of good things for the sake of better things…[it] keeps our legitimate love of earthly things [like work] in check. We enjoy them when we have them. But we don't covet and crave them….We can voluntarily give them up for the sake of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord.”

That brings us...

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What it means to "set your mind on things above”

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3:1-2)

Last week, I argued that paradoxically one way to ensure your work doesn’t become an idol is to enjoy your work most fully as a means of better appreciating the “betterness” of Christ.

But how does that advice match up with today’s passage? Isn’t Paul telling us to ignore “earthly things” like work and focus our mind on exclusively heavenly things? 

Not exactly. A few verses later Paul explains what he meant by “earthly things” saying this: "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5-6). 

The word Paul used for “earthly things” in verse 2 is the exact same word we translate...

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Enjoy work more—not less—to fight idolatry

“You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.” (Psalm 4:7)

We’re in a series exploring four principles for enjoying our work without turning our jobs into idols. Last week we unpacked Principle #1: Insist that Jesus is better. Today we turn to Principle #2: Delight in your work freely and fully.

Now, I know that may seem oxymoronic. After all, if Jesus is better than my job, shouldn’t I try to love my work less, not more? I’d argue that’s impossible to do and foolish to try for two reasons. 

First, God created you to enjoy your work. Work was God’s first gift to humankind in the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 1:26-28) and one of the many gifts he has in store for us on the New Earth (see Isaiah 65:17-23). So, to try to love your work less is to fight against God’s design.

Second, the more you enjoy God’s gifts, the more you can appreciate the “betterness” of God. You see this...

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Want to kill idols? Reserve this adjective for God alone.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (Matthew 22:37)

There’s a tension we see throughout Scripture. 

On the one hand, we are invited to delight in creation and our work with creation. “Every good gift” is from God (James 1:17) given to us “for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17). And that includes our work! Ecclesiastes 2:24 says “a person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil” because those good things are “from the hand of God.”

These verses are good examples of what I call the “delight in creation” passages of Scripture. But on the other side of this perceived biblical tension, we find the “delight in Creator” passages that command us to love God above all things. This was summarized most succinctly in Jesus’s articulation of the Greatest Commandment above.

So, we are called to delight in the gifts...

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Confessing my less than godly motives for this action

I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. (1 Chronicles 29:17)

After giving his considerable “personal treasures of gold and silver,” for the building of the temple, David took the time to examine his heart to see if he had given that treasure with God-honoring intent (see 1 Chronicles 29:3-17). Why? I think because David understood how easy it is to do godly things with a mix of godly and ungodly motives.

I experienced this first hand just a few months ago. I had just made a decision within my business that triggered a significant financial sacrifice. But I was convicted through prayer that it was the right thing to do.

Implementing this decision required that I notify some fellow believers. And as I did, these friends consistently commented on how “proud” they were of me for taking this action.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was quietly...

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IF success comes from God, THEN inputs > outcomes

David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, “Praise be to you, Lord, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting….Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all…Everything comes from you.” (1 Chronicles 29:10, 12, 14)

The context of today’s passage adds weight to David’s words. Here’s the scene: David is addressing Israel in what was likely his final public address as king. The next day, Solomon will take David’s place and soon become the wealthiest man on earth. 

What would David say at the close of his forty-year reign? He chose to focus his son and his people’s attention on the truth that “wealth and honor” and “everything” good comes from God.

This is a truth we see reiterated throughout Scripture. James said, “Every good and perfect gift is from above,...

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My “5 Minutes of Nothing” rule to dissent from the “Kingdom of Noise”

In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. (Psalm 10:4)

In 1517, Martin Luther had an “aha” moment that would change the world. He realized that “the merciful God justifies us by faith,” and not by works.

Where was Luther when he had this epiphany? In a grand library? Walking in a beautiful garden perhaps? No. As Luther biographer Eric Metaxas explains, “God had given [Luther] this insight while he was sitting on the toilet.”

I’m not surprised, because even in Luther’s day, the outhouse was a rare place of silence and solitude, free from what C.S. Lewis called “the Kingdom of Noise” that surrounds you and me to this day.

Everywhere we turn we are bombarded by external noise—nonstop emails, texts, information, and entertainment—which leads to a more dangerous internal noise that blocks our ability to think, be creative, and most importantly, listen to the voice of...

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