4 Reasons I Quit Using My Bible App

Why I Quite Using Add heading

I never meant for my phone’s Bible app to replace my Bible. It just sort of happened.

Gradually, YouVersion was the only way I read the Bible. It started off great. I kept track of where I left off. I could listen and read simultaneously, which added depth to my reading.

Then laziness set in and I only half-heartedly listened. Here’s where it gets embarrassing. At some point I discovered all the multitasking I could do while listening to my Bible . . . like play Solitaire.

Even as I completed my reading each day, I wasn’t getting anything out of it. My mind wondered, and when I used my phone app, it wondered A LOT.

I can’t even tell you the number of times I opened the wrong app. Call it muscle memory, but my fingers seemed to always find Facebook or Twitter. And just like that twenty minutes vanished.

So I’m quitting my Bible app and here’s four reasons why:

1. I’m going back to my leather Bible because I want my kids to see me reading it. I want them to see me pacing around the house with my nose in the Book, not the app. God knows they see me often enough with my phone. I want them to know mommy reads her Bible.

2. I miss holding the soft leather cover and flipping the thin pages. I love to underline and write in the margin. I know you can do that in the app, but it’s not the same as inking a sentence I hope my grandchildren will one day read. Turns out, Crossway makes a Bible for scribblers like me. You can check it out here.

3. I want to linger on the pages. Since the app the quality of my Bible reading has slipped big time. I love the Bible app in a pinch and for those who wouldn’t otherwise read it, but I know me. I tend to hustle through. I don’t want to read the Bible the same way I read my e-mail or text messages.

4. I want to remember where stuff is. Remember Bible drills? I dominated at that game. The youth leader would usually say. “Take out your swords,” (meaning the Bible). Next we would race to whatever obscure book and verse they called.

Today, while thumbing through my Bible, I caught myself thinking, “Where is Galatians again?” Use it or lose it as they say. I’m already losing so much attention and focus to my phone. I don’t want to lose this too.

Don’t everyone go quit your Bible app. YouVersion and other apps are wonderful tools, and the app developers are pure geniuses. But for me, the decision seems right at this stage in my life.

I may still use it from time to time, when I’m in a waiting room or to listen to it in the car. I’m sure I’ll whip it out when life gets hectic, but I’m done with depending on my phone for my Bible.

I’m saving my phone for audiobooks and e-books, not for reading the Good Book. For that I want to hold it in my hands and flip the pages.

What about you? What’s your favorite way to read the Bible?

Laundry, Motherhood, Prayer

IMG_0007.JPGAs a child I daydreamed of monasteries and monks and what it would be like to cloister away all day to pray and read.

I love solitude, and I thought monks—with all their praying—were as close to God as you could get.

Ok, maybe I was a weird kid. But even as a child I saw prayer’s importance.

In junior high I scrawled my prayer needs into a journal, faithfully tending that list. By high school praying had etched itself in me, carrying me through two years of ministry training and then college.

I never really struggled to pray—not until marriage and motherhood, when diapers and dishes swallowed up my time. After kids, the question, “Have I prayed today?” quickly turned into “Did I remember to brush my teeth?”

On these days I appreciate the simple prayers—what Anne Lamont calls the “three essential prayers, “Wow,” “Help,” and “Thanks.”

Motherhood showed me how I complicated prayer. I treated prayer like an end itself—like a spiritual barometer—not the bridge to know Jesus.

I no longer see prayer like a subject we can master. It’s not a game we win or lose.

Imagine if we charted and measured how much we talked to our spouses or our children?

God doesn’t watch us from on high with a stop watch, calculating how many minutes we devote, just like I don’t carefully measure the minutes my sons spend with me.

But I do take note when they choose to snuggle up next to me. I notice their small acts of gratitude and love. God, too, notices when his children trust him enough to come—not out of duty—but out of love. God doesn’t judge us by the clock, but he does test our hearts for faith.

Sometimes we forget that mountains don’t move because of heavy-duty lifting in the act of prayer, but the faith behind the prayer—faith in the Mountain Mover.

We earth-dwellers so often forget that without faith we will never please God (Heb. 11:6).

As humans this confounds us. I can picture myself in that fanatical crowd after Jesus feeds the five thousand. They can’t wait to find out what they must do to accomplish God-pleasing work. Jesus’ answer still catches me by surprise.

He didn’t tell them to go to the synagogue to pray for hours or send them away pledging a laundry list of good works.

Here’s how John’s Gospel records it, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent’” (John 6:29).

Believing. The true work of God is not in doing, but believing.

Allow that truth to sneak into your heart and smuggle out the fear your prayers don’t matter or measure up. Allow the grace-healing power of belief to set you free so you can keep trusting and talking to the One who offers unending relationship.

And when we begin to remember that our prayer walk is really a love walk, we’ll run to prayer

Practical Prayer Help

  • Don’t wait for quiet to have a “quiet time.” Solitude may never come, but God can calm your nerves and anxious heart when the house pulses with the busyness of life.
  •  Plan it. Set your alarm and coffee pot. If you want to develop a workout routine, habit experts tell us to lay out our clothes the night before. In the same way remove some of the barriers to prayer. Get your spot ready, complete with Bible, blanket, pen, and notepad.
  • Carve out time. Make what Ann Voskamp calls “hard stops” to pray. I think of these as little mini vacations from work and kids—time to connect with God, if only for five minutes.
  • Get sleep. Sleep might as well be a spiritual disciple because without enough of it, all the other spiritual disciplines falter.
  • Walk. For me motionless prayer so often lapses into sleeping, so I pace around my house to keep myself awake and focused. If you’re able, quit the house for a prayer walk outside.

Birthing Dreams and Needing Someone to Believe in You

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They don’t call it the ring of fire for nothing.

The baby’s head was crowning, and my midwife could see his full head of curly brown hair.

“Push,” she said for the fifteenth time. The pain was immense. So was the fear, and as I sat fully dilated in tub of warm water, this wasn’t a great time to lose my faith in natural birth.

I was seconds away from holding my baby if I could just push a little harder…

But instead of pushing I wanted to give up. I questioned my ability to give birth to this kid, and the soundtrack in my head went a little like this:

You’re incapable.

You can’t do it.

They’re going to have to cut this baby out of you.

Almost as soon as I heard those thoughts, they were coming out of my mouth.

“Maybe I need a C-section. I don’t know if I can do this.”

Thankfully, my midwife and nurses believed in me, even when I didn’t. My husband and mother believed in me too.

Although I didn’t know it at the time, God believed in me.

“Push,” she said again. So I did, not the test-the-water, half-hearted pushing, but the real, let’s-get-this-baby-out kind of pushing.

I knew the difference then, and I know it now. Sometimes I want to dip my toe in the water and talk about doing hard things, but other times I do those hard things.

There’s pushing in fear, and then there’s pushing past fear.

Are up against something tough? Or maybe God made you mayor of Toughville? Don’t bow to fear. Don’t give way to panic.

When fear crops up, find friends to ground you. Find a community to believe in you.

A friend recently reminded me of the ugly, beautiful chaos of birth. She’s helping me stay grounded and give birth to my own little bundle of a book.

What dreams are you wanting to give birth to? What tough things do you need to push through?

Find a way to silence the self-doubt and the mental fortitude to bear down and push past the pain. I believe in you and so does God.

It’ll all be worth it.

Healing for Marked Hearts

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Nine-year-old Dipa lives in India. Her uncle raped her last week. But that’s not the truly shocking part.

More than half of Dipa’s fourth-grade class has been raped or molested, according to a 2007 government survey. Visit any playground or school in India, rich or poor, boys or girls—53 percent are victims of sex abuse.

The atrocity of sexual abuse spans the globe and millions just like Dipa suffer in silence. They need hope and healing for wounds that run deep, piercing even into adulthood.

But often that hope never comes. Many victims don’t dare risk the stigma and shame associated with telling their story. No one talks about sex abuse.

That’s where the Healing for Marked Hearts campaign makes a difference. The Christian publisher I work for hopes to  place a purse-sized book in the hands of these silent victims—a book translated into their own language.

Dipa speaks Marathi, and few resources exist in her language. As a Christian publisher we want to fix this problem, and we have the perfect solution.

Mary DeMuth gave us permission to translate her book, Not Marked—a guidebook for sex abuse victims—into Dipa’s language.

With your help, we can translate this book into Marathi, Mandarin, Spanish, and even more, to provide hope to Dipa and others just like her. Translating, producing, and printing books cost money, and we can’t do it alone.

Will you help us bring hope to these marked hearts?

Not Marked voices Mary’s healing journey and beckons readers to risk the same journey toward emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental health.

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Heal Marked Hearts with Ultimate Hope

The Healing for Marked Hearts campaign will equip churches, crisis centers, and missionaries with both the full-sized book and mini books.

Although full of practical advice for trauma survivors, “Not Marked” sets itself apart by offering everlasting hope. Sex Abuse victims bear scars only Jesus can heal.

Each book includes a beautiful story of the gospel, which brings hope. And fewer than 2 percent of people who speak Dipa’s language —Marathi— know Jesus.

This book may be the only opportunity for these victims to hear the hope Jesus gives.

How You Can Help

If you would like to help many like Dipa you can give here. Millions need the hope this book brings. The money from this Generosity campaign goes directly to producing Not Marked into Marathi, Spanish, and Mandarin. Donations cover:

  1. Translating Not Marked into 3 languages (full sized book, one Mini book version, and one Q&A Mini book)
  2. Editing
  3. Cover Designs
  4. Marketing
  5. Formatting
  6. Book Printing
  7. Shipping to these countries

Marked Hearts Costs

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Other Ways You Can Help

We understand some cannot contribute financially, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help.

  1. Share the campaign using Generosity’s sharing tools.
  2. Like our Facebook page.
  3. Check out our blog posts about sexual abuse.
  4. Ask God to use these books to change lives.

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Author’s Note: I originally wrote this post for my day job. But I couldn’t wait to share it on my personal blog. I want to thank you for helping make a difference for these marked hearts around the globe.

So You Want to Be a Writer?

Photo by John O'Nolan via Creative Commons

Photo by John O’Nolan via Creative Commons

The dreaded rewrite has always struck me as one of those dirty little secrets no one tells you about when you begin a career.

Take for instance the kids who dream of working at the zoo. They romanticize about working with animals, but nobody tells them how often they’ll need to sidestep manure (or the size of elephant dung).

Every job has an unglamorous side. Fire fighters battle fires, and celebrities contend with the paparazzi. And writers fear the rewrite.

I don’t know a writer who doesn’t cringe at the thought of reworking a chapter. If you think editors relish asking for a rewrite, think again.

No editor wants to break out that red pen a second (or tenth) time.

As a writer myself, let me go on record saying I hate rewriting. It stinks compared to the thrill of the first draft—the euphoria of plotting a story or giving birth to an idea to the page.

We all adore the beginning stage of a writing project. I like to call this “the Disney phase” because it reminds me of Disneyland—effervescent happiness tied together with iridescent rainbows.

But rewriting, on the other hand, reminds me of building Disneyland—not vacationing there. It feels like we’ve joined a sweaty construction crew and been asked to drive dozers through the dirt and hoist steel beams into place.

Not to mention working with an editor can resemble communicating a thousand details over walkie talkies.

But if we embrace the editing process, we’ll see a theme park slowly rise out of the dust. Like building a park full of rollercoasters, rewriting requires time, patience, and work.

Photo by Ritesh Nayak via Creative Commons

Photo by Ritesh Nayak via Creative Commons

Rewriting distinguishes the good writers from the great writers.

I’ve never met a manuscript that didn’t need tweaking. Even Pulitzer Prize winners need editors.

But what do we do when rewriting means starting from scratch? When (not if) this happens, take five minutes for a little trash-can basketball. Then restart.

So stop fearing the rewrite—instead, embrace it.   Tell yourself the truth—it needs the strength and clarity that come through rewriting.

Don’t quit when your editor mouths the fearful word, rewrite. Instead get to work. Drag in some better verbs. Take the wrecking ball to awkward sentence structure. Level flailing chapters and build a stronger story.

 

**Author’s Note: This post first appeared on Authenticity Book House’s blog. Read the blog, here.

What Tom And Jerry Teaches us About Preaching the Gospel

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The Tom and Jerry cartoons always bored me. Why would anyone want to watch Tom chase Jerry for more than one episode?

Despite, Tom’s near catches, Jerry almost always outwits Tom. The same story told over and over again gets old.

Or does it? I never grasped Tom and Jerry’s power to hypnotize until my two-year old dragged me onto the sofa with him to watch. That day I understood why the cat-and-mouse franchise just celebrated its 75th birthday.

Right there on the sofa Tom and Jerry taught me three principles we as Christians need to embrace as we preach “Christ and him crucified,” (1 Cor. 1:23).

  • Children don’t watch the show to hear a new story. They watch see the old story told in a new and interesting way.

Tom and Jerry’s producers know how to reinvent the classic cartoon without losing its essence. Through updated music and modern animation, its creators keep the story relevant.

Churches must do the same. Creativity doesn’t change our message—it only enhances it. We need to tell the Christ story in a different way.

Books chock full of religious jargon, or “Christian-ese,” fill libraries. We need to find fresh words and replace stale analogies. When we talk to our friends about Christ, we need metaphors that relate to culture.

  • My kids watch to see the simple story unfold into new layers.

They find comfort in knowing how the basic story doesn’t change.

And isn’t this true of the gospel? We could live for 500 years and never plumb its depths or appreciate its beauty.

The gospel’s never-ending work in us keeps peeling callouses from our hearts and challenging us to new levels of love and grace.

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  • The story itself matters.

No one tunes in to see if Tom will actually catch Jerry (although he does a few times). Creators William Hanna and Joseph Barbera understood this.

Likewise, Christians need to stand on the conviction the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus matter. But for an example of an old story told afresh, we can look no further than the Cartoon Network.

That day on the sofa I saw Tom dance the flamenco across the screen, in step with a castanet-clad kitty.

My five-year old’s eyes widened, probably anticipating the banana Jerry flings onto the platform.

I don’t remember the rest of the episode. I was too busy watching my son’s belly jiggle in laughter while I savored their wild guffaws, their eyes transfixed on the TV.

**Author Note: This story first appeared on Authenticity Book House’s website.

When God Serenades, Pandora-Style

My firstborn and I snuggle. This was taken about four years ago.

My firstborn and I snuggle. This was taken about four years ago.

I heard Sam trot down the hall and peek around the corner, grinning into the office where I sat.

Twenty minutes ago I snuggled him in for a nap. Now, my 2-year old looked high on caffeine and sugar.

This day was not going as planned.

My heart sank at the thought of a round-two nap. My mind raced and fingers itched to write, and I didn’t want to “squander” my next hour cuddling a toddler.

As I begrudgingly gathered my son close, pulling the covers over both of us, God reminded me how He so often gathers me close, persuading me to rest.

I consider how He tucks me into His presence and speaks in heart whispers, still and small.

As I lay next to Sam, I understood why the psalmist said God gives sleep to those He loves, (Psalms 127:2). Zephaniah 3:17 even paints God singing over us as we sleep.

Almost like God poured a bucket of love over me, I lay next to my son drenched, soaked by His compassion to draw me close. Then, I heard these lyrics stream from my phone’s speaker.

“When the rain is blowing in your face,

And the whole world is on your case,

I could offer you a warm embrace

To make you feel my love.

 

“When the evening shadows and the stars appear,

And there is no one there to dry your tears,

I could hold you for a million years

To make you feel my love.”

 

The words caught me off guard. Seldom do I feel God’s love. Love’s deficit, I know. Stress. Condemnation. Performance-ism.

Hadn’t I asked to feel the love of God yesterday? The tears sneak from my eyes as I realized the good gift given by a good Dad.

The O’Neil brothers continue to croon about romantic love, but I know Papa sings about agape love—a love I’m only beginning to catch a glimpse of.

“The storms are raging on the rolling sea

And on the highway of regret.

The winds of change are blowing wild and free,

You ain’t seen nothing like me yet.

 

“I could make you happy, make your dreams come true.

Nothing that I wouldn’t do.

Go to the ends of the Earth for you,

To make you feel my love

To make you feel my love.”

 

Sam looked at me with concern written across his face and asked why I was crying. How do you tell a toddler you’re weeping because of joy?

How do you tell him how grateful and stunned you are that God can serenade you through Pandora’s lullaby channel? That tears can be beautiful prayer to Jesus?

 

A recent shot. Too big to cuddle? I fear the day.

A recent shot. Too big to cuddle? I fear the day.

Finally, my Sam Man sleeps. *Sigh of relief*

Finally, my Sam Man sleeps. *Sigh of relief*

I’m beginning to see this crucible of motherhood as chance after chance to see with new eyes how God loves us. To see, how over the years, God keeps on loving us.

Beyond the cross, I can’t think of a better way to show us self-sacrificial love.

As parents, our days are chock-full of training and correcting. Most days, I’m so consumed being a parent, I forget how to be a child.

As I lay with my son, I remember whose child I am and marvel how we never pack up and leave this house of love Jesus built for us. God’s no empty- nester.

His father heart beats in the middle of all our moments, compounded throughout time. Until the day when we’ll step out of time—even then, we remain children of God.

The room is dark and still, now. My chest no longer heaves in sobs. Sam sleeps in the crook of my arms, and I know this feeling is fleeting. But I linger, hoping to keep the song in my head.

He stands over you singing too, friend. Listen, do you hear it?

 

Four Things I Learned from Living with Cockroaches

Photo by Kathy via Creative Commons Flickr,

Photo by Kathy via Creative Commons Flickr.

Another Kathy photo, via CC Flickr. "Eating at night always makes me gain weight."

Another Kathy photo, via CC Flickr. “Eating at night always makes me gain weight.”

My ability to see a cockroach out of the corner of my eye borders on a superpower.

I honed this skill after five months of watching these creatures crawl back into walls when I turned on the kitchen lights.

I worked among roaches, too.

Since my work commute included a jaunt into the spare bedroom, crawlers surrounded me all day.

Can someone say heebie-jeebie? I shudder to type the word roach now, but I will for two reasons. I want to face my phobia and tell you what I learned about tough times from these little fellas.

1. Hard times can infest any home. Just as roaches don’t care whether you live in a mansion or a shack, difficult times are no respecters of persons.

We all go through valleys and slumps in life and have moments we long to do over.

2. Only God gives lasting peace. I know my little roach story may not compare to real suffering, but I know the One who carries us through the large and small trials.

This peace Jesus gives—this Peace He is—doesn’t go away. It’s permanent hope for our life and can be applied to ANY circumstance.

Believe me, those five months living with roaches tested me. Our roachy apartment showed me how peace can calm an ocean of fear.

We always have the ability to tap into this peace through prayer and meditating on His truth.

Kathy, you may have too much time on your hands. Still, nice name, "I think these make my antennae look fat." Via CC Flickr.

Kathy, you may have too much time on your hands. Still, nice photo title, “I Think These Make My Antennae Look Fat.” Via CC Flickr.

3. Cockroaches love a dirty house, like hard times love a messy life. Ever met someone whose drama never ends? At some point their drama snowballed and started creating its own drama.

Sometimes God leads us through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and other times we pitch our tent there.

I wish I could tell you I’ve avoided self-inflicted difficult seasons, but that wouldn’t be entirely true. Here’s what I know. My life gets “messy” when my thoughts stray from God’s truth.

When I choose to let my mind feast on the negative, tough times are almost sure to follow.

4. Move on and don’t let any bugs (or excess drama) come along. Since roaches are natural hitchhikers, I consider it one of God’s greater miracles these bugs didn’t follow us when we moved into our house four years ago.

These are the things nightmares are made of. But I did take a ton of precaution to keep the little dudes from jumping into our boxes. (I bagged everything in plastic).

Hard times teach us to rely on God. Sometimes we need extra time and care from Him. If you’re in one of these seasons in life, please believe, God longs to meet with you and speak to you. He’s not against you. He’s always for you.

Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love” (Romans 5:2-5).

Hide and Seek God

 

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**Author note: The following is from my work in progress—a book about overcoming worry. I couldn’t wait to share it. I hope you enjoy it.

I remember my oldest son’s toddler days when his soft curls would bounce as he paraded around the house. But one day his parade didn’t circle back to me as usual.

When his silence grew louder, I became suspicious. Sixty seconds of panic turned into two minutes of me yelling his name, opening and closing closet doors. I frantically checked outside in the yard.

Then I heard a rustle coming from the kitchen. I retrieved him, cheeky smile and all, from one of the lower cabinets. That day we graduated out of peek-a-boo into the era of hide-and-seek.

I always knew when the game was on. The sparkle in his eye spelled mischief. The he would flash a cheeky smile and dart away. His game usually left me searching for him in grocery aisles and check-out lanes.

Once, I spent a harrowing few minutes seeking him at the mall, only to find him hiding inside a circular clothing rack in a department store.

Like my son once did, Scripture speaks about God hiding himself so we will seek Him. “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings” (Prov. 25:2).

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Jesus furthers the analogy when he compares the Kingdom of Heaven to hidden treasure. When I read Matthew 13:44, I always picture the loot you might find on board a pirate ship.

Rubies, emeralds and gold coins spill out onto the soil. The prize of kings spills on the turf of the common farmer. And who is this God that would hide treasure in a place so common where anyone can find it?

When we seek God through his Book, meditating on truth and his character, we can find him in mundane places. At the desk, or the shop or the kitchen sink, we can imagine him and see him in a thousand ways we haven’t before.

Jesus’ parable ends in the same way our quest to know God and overcome worry and anxiety begins. The excited man sells everything he has to buy the field where the treasure is hidden. He pays a small price for a fortune.

If the parable of the hidden treasure explains hiding, Jesus’ next story, about a merchant hunting for the best pearls, describes seeking. “When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it,” (Matt. 13:46 NIV).

We too must pay the price of focusing our minds on Christ. Union with Christ requires our total attention. We wield meditation as a tool of knowing Christ.

How to Scratch Out Joy On Your Worst Days

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While the dinner dishes sit in the sink, my body slumps into the sofa, mind and soul sagging.

Irritability sneaks into my voice. Or do my kids conspire against me to see how many times I will say “brush your teeth,” before I start yelling?

I know I need to stop for prayer. So, I resist the urge to conquer baths and bedtime routine for a much needed timeout.

If the timeout age rule—one minute for every year—applied to moms, I’d be in heaven. 31 minutes in the corner? Sure, sign me up. But I settle for five minutes, and the dialogue does a little like this.

“Help.”

Maybe toddler speak has stunted my vocabulary. Or maybe Anne Lamont is right, and “help,” “thanks,” and “wow,” are the most profound prayers of all.

Sometimes that’s all it takes—30 seconds of “Help me, God,” and Jesus resets the tripped breaker of my attitude. Other times, well, I’m in for a long night of rewiring.

Some days it’s a crank up-the-Hillsong-worship and come-to-Jesus-kind-of night.

Know what I mean?

There’s one guy in Scripture who really knew how to get alone with God. When life got REAL, David knew how to beckon joy.

We watch David grasp for gladness with this prayer. “May all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness IN you,” (Ps. 70:4).

He didn’t look inward at himself, outward at his circumstances, but upward at God. David’s prayer gets better.

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“Those who LOVE your salvation repeatedly shout, “God is great!” (Ps. 70:5). According to David we “love” our salvation by thinking about it “repeatedly” and turning our thanks into woops of praise.

Yeah, if it sounds like all sunshine and roses, it’s not. David wrote Psalm 70 running for his life, hiding in caves, afraid to sleep—afraid to wake up with spear to his throat.

No one has ever brandished a spear at me, but I can relate to his desperation in the next verse.

“But as for me, I am poor and needy; please hurry to my aid, O God,” (Ps. 70:6).

David knew how to scratch out impossible joy on the worst days of his life. Once, when His wives and children had been captured, his camp plundered, we catch a glimpse of his secret.

“He encouraged himself in the Lord,” (1 Sam. 30:6).

We, too, can learn this holy habit.

David wasn’t practicing positive self-talk. Instead he made a warrior’s decision to place his faith in God.

Next time you’re discouraged, take a cue from David. Don’t look inward or outward—but look toward the only One who can speak courage to your fears.