My Devotionals


What Encanto can teach Christians about the Great Resignation

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)

Since Disney’s Encanto was released just a few weeks ago, the movie has been played an embarrassing number of times in the Raynor household. If you haven’t seen it, here’s the gist. 

Encanto is the story of the Madrigal family who live in an enchanted house that magically blesses each member of the family with a unique and extraordinary talent. But as the family’s matriarch frequently points out, the purpose of those gifts aren’t just to serve the individual or even the family—they are meant to serve the broader community outside the family’s magical home.

You see it, right? It’s essentially a story about spiritual gifts. And every time I watch the beautiful film, I’m reminded of today’s passage from...

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A Gospel Perspective on Work in a Post-Pandemic World

You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12)

It’s clear that one of the most lasting changes to our work post-pandemic will be where we work physically. Now more than ever, more of us are working from home or in some sort of hybrid environment. And by and large, we are loving it. According to the job search giant Glassdoor, searches for remote work are up an astonishing 460% in the past two years. 

As someone who has worked from home for the past three years, I get the appeal. Remote work has some wonderful benefits. But it also carries a significant cost. Because as the Apostle Paul makes clear in today’s passage, our workplaces are one of, if not the, primary place where we can “win the respect of outsiders” and share the gospel. 

So how should we as Christ-followers be thinking differently...

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The Key to Extending Yourself Grace

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (Romans 5:8-10)

There are two signs that you’ve crossed over to the dark side of discipline. Last week, we looked at the first: a failure to extend grace to those who are less disciplined than you. Here’s the second sign: a failure to extend grace to yourself.

I can be hard on myself if I fail to complete my to-do list, get my kids to bed on time, or accurately estimate how long it will take to complete a project. But just as the gospel helps me extend grace to others, it is also the key to extending grace to myself. Let me explain.

We talk a lot here on The Word Before Work about how...

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Darth Vader and Elder Brothers

‘Your brother has come [home],’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ (Luke 15:27-30)

Self-discipline—whether with time, food, or money—is a good, God-honoring thing (see 1 Corinthians 9:24-27). The problem is when discipline becomes an ultimate thing and thus turns into a life-sucking idol. 

How can you know when you’ve crossed over to the dark side of discipline? One sign is that you are unwilling to extend grace to others who are less...

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The Dark Side of Discipline

Don’t you know that when people run on the race track everybody runs, but only one person gets the prize? Run in such a way that you’ll win it. Everyone who goes in for athletics exercises self-discipline in everything. They do it to gain a crown that perishes; we do it for an imperishable one. Well then: I don’t run in an aimless fashion! I don’t box like someone punching the air! No: I give my body rough treatment, and make it my slave, in case, after announcing the message to others, I myself should end up being disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NTE)

If you’ve read my book, Redeeming Your Time, you know that I’m a disciplined guy. I get eight hours of sleep almost every night, I only check email once a day, and I delete and reinstall Instagram every 24 hours so I don’t drown myself in that infinity pool of content.

Some of you may be thinking, Man, Jordan, it sounds like you might be a little too disciplined. ...

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Shepherds and Religious Professionals

christmas vocations Dec 27, 2021

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord….So [the shepherds] hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child (Luke 2:8-11,16-17)

You just discovered a piece of earth-shattering news. You pull open Twitter or Instagram to share it, but you know you’re going to need some help to spread the message. Who will you tag in your post? @CNN? @POTUS? @TaylorSwift13? If the news is religious in nature, maybe you’ll tag @Pontifex or @YouVersion? 

Those would all be logical...

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Is Parenting More Important Than Your Job?

christmas vocations Dec 20, 2021

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:26-28)

It’s likely that Mary worked exclusively inside the home as a wife and mother. What can her vocation tell us about our own? At least three things. 

First, God sees you and your work, even when the world doesn’t. Mary was a peasant teenage girl living in a backwater town. We don’t know what work she was doing before Gabriel showed up, but we can be certain it was obscure. Mary was the anti-influencer. Nobody knew her name. Nobody, that is, except God.

God saw Mary’s faithfulness when nobody else did, and for that, she was “highly favored” in his eyes. This reminds us that even when we work in...

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The Pinnacle of Zechariah’s Career

christmas vocations Dec 13, 2021

…an angel of the Lord appeared to [Zechariah], standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John….he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed...

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Christmas Vocations

christmas vocations Dec 06, 2021

But after [Joseph] had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21)

As we embark on our study of the vocations of some of the principal players in the Christmas narrative, we stop first at Jesus’s earthly father, Joseph.

In Mark 6:3 and Matthew 13:55, we learn that Joseph worked as a “carpenter.” My concordance says the Greek word tektĹŤn that we translate to “carpenter” can also be understood to mean “a craftsman” or “an artisan.” In other words, Joseph worked to create new things for others. And of course, per the custom of the time, Joseph’s children (including Jesus) would have worked alongside him.


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One Final Way to Prepare to Share the Gospel with Your Co-Workers

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3:15)

Today marks the conclusion of this series exploring five simple things all of us can do to prepare to share the gospel with those we work with. Here’s a reminder of the first four:

  1. Be so good they can’t ignore you
  2. Be a friend
  3. Identify yourself as a Christian
  4. Pray that God would open doors to move from the Surface, to the Serious, to the Spiritual

And here’s the fifth: Be prepared to give an answer for your hope.

If you’ve done numbers 1-4 on our list, eventually somebody is going to ask you,

Why do you never respond to emails on Sundays?

You don’t seem nearly as anxious as the rest of our team. Why?

Why did you and your husband adopt instead of having another child biologically?

If God is good, why did I get fired?

My mom is dying. What do you believe about heaven?...

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