Saturday, April 29, 2017

We're One Generation Away

In my One Year Bible reading I've come to the book of Judges. There are times as I read in this book that I cringe. One such moment occurred recently.

Judges 2:10 - "After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel."

Does that stir anyone else like it does me? It prompts me to ask if I'm making sure to pass on a Godly legacy to those around me.

Earlier, the Israelites were told to follow God's commands and to constantly have those before their children, as well as the stories of what God had done on their behalf. So what happened? The parents didn't do as they promised and were instructed.

These parents were to told to talk about God's commands when they woke up and when they went to bed. They were to discuss them as they walked along the roads. There were some little reminders to prompt the children to ask questions. Things like piles of stones carried from the middle of a pathway through a river.

The responsibility was given to the parents to carry on the ways of God. But somewhere, somehow they totally failed. Did they simply become complacent? Did they take it all for granted or think they had brought themselves out and into a new land? Did they think the children would just "catch on" to knowing God and His ways? Or did they allow the kids to decide if they wanted to know the commands or not?

Whatever it was that caused these parents to drop the ball led to evil and God being angry. He let other nations run them over.

Let's face forward to today - 2017. Are we a people who teaches our children about God and His Son? Or do we think they'll "catch on" if we take them to church for one hour on Sunday? Do we not find God's ways relevant enough to pass on? Do we think we are where we are today because of what we've done?

Sweet Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I truly believe that we are always that one generation away from not knowing God and His Son, and what has been done for us. I pray that we won't fall into any of the traps of complacency or arrogance. The next generation is relying upon us to teach them about God and His Son.

God forbid that it be written of us that when we pass, our children don't know the Lord or follow Him. Everything written in God's Word is for instructing us and warning us. This warning seems to scream at me from Judges 2.

To think we're only one generation away ...

Monday, April 3, 2017

Live More Like a Lyric?

Recently a blog I follow written by Emily P. Freeman contained a quote that stuck out to me.

"I want to live my life less like a list and more like a lyric."

I shared the quote on my Facebook timeline but didn't go into my thinking about it. The quote made me think so much that I posted it on the small board right next to my desk.

Admittedly, I'm a list person. My hubby would roll his eyes and nod vigorously about that. In fact I'm a very planned and organized person. Close to the OCD level.

My clothes are chosen and ready for the next morning each night before I go to bed. A rather extensive list of "to dos" awaits me at my desk each day when I arrive home from my part-time job at an elementary school. That list is usually too much for the time I have in the afternoon. But I continue to make that unaccomplishable list.

But living by a list definitely cuts down on going with suddenly inspired activities. I mean, if it's not on my list, I can't do it. Right? Am I missing out on meaningful moments because my head is tucked, starring at my list?

This quote tends to convict me a bit. Let's face it. A beautiful lyric is much more appealing than a list. A lyric has meaning. A lyric is inspired expression.

So in the context of my life, a list existence would be just checking off the activities of my day then doing it again and again. Meaning comes from completing.

For my life to be a lyric I would need to watch the Composer's direction. Be more in tune with what God wants me to accomplish in my day and in my life. Meaning comes from being in tune with His plan for me and realizing what He created me to do.

The more I think on this quote, the more meaning it has for me. I know that I don't want to finish this life and show God my list, saying, "Look what I did." I'm sure what He prefers is for the lyric of my life to bring glory to Him - sweet music in His ears.

What do you think about this quote? Please join the conversation in the comments.  


Friday, March 24, 2017

A Debut Romantic Suspense

What Inspired Me to Write Summer of Deception   by Elva Cobb Martin   
Many summers ago my husband and I visited Boone Hall Plantation in Charleston, South Carolina. I fell in love with the old southern charm of it—the awesome Avenue of Oaks, draped with silver moss and surrounded by fuchsia azaleas, the old slave cabins, and then the elegant plantation house that finally comes into view and takes your breath away.
Boone Hall is a working plantation of about 700 acres which produces several commercial crops and sponsors events to benefit its thousands of visitors annually and area residents. In Summer of Deception I describe this plantation as a Gone-with-the-Wind setting. I’m so glad it’s still here as a successful functioning plantation and open to visitors.




Later, we also visited Charleston Tea Plantation, owned by Bigelow Tea Co., one of the few tea plantations in the United States., and the only one that produces tea commercially. I was intrigued with it, too. I learned the process of growing and curing tea from the green, shiny leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant that blooms with white blossoms. The current bushes are descendants of the same plants that were first brought to the Carolinas in the 1700s by French botanist Andre Michaux.





 I describe this tea curing process in Summer of Deception as my hero owner Luke Barrett takes heroine Rachel York on a tour of his tea factory.
I actually combined Boone Hall and the Charleston Tea Plantation in my setting and renamed it Barrett Hall, since the tea plantation does not have a plantation house, just the tea fields, factory, and Gift Shop.
So Boone Hall and Charleston Tea Plantation began the inspiration for what eventually became Summer of Deception, the love story of Luke Barrett and Rachel York who battle not only attraction but deception and intrigue as well one long, hot summer at Barrett Hall.
This setting actually has inspired an historical series as well that I am working on. Book 1, In a Pirate’s Debt, will be released by Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas (LPC) in May, 2017. I found the original colonial owner of Boone Hall was a reformed pirate, like my fictional pirate hero, ancestor of Luke Barrett, who sailed the Atlantic and the Caribbean as Captain Lucas Bloodstone Barrett in the 1700’s. In Summer of Deception my heroine Rachel discovers his life-size portrait in the attic.
So I guess we can say setting plays an important part of inspiration for me. Have particular places you’ve visited inspired you in your writing? Please share. We look forward to your comments.
Thanks for letting me stop by.
Elva Cobb Martin

New Release Friday, March 24, 2017 by Pelican/Prism Book Group



Summer of Deception - an inspirational romantic suspense
Amazon Page Link: http://amzn.to/2mMEvmu

 A WOUNDED WARRIOR. A WOMAN SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS. CAN SHE RISK ALL TO UNCOVER THE TRUTH?

Determined to unearth the truth about her DEA agent brother’s reported death, Rachel York takes a position at an historic Charleston, South Carolina, tea plantation, but she finds she is ill prepared to deal with the plantation’s new owner. Luke Barrett may be handsome, but he is overflowing with bitterness and distrust. Widowed and wounded, former Marine Corps Special Forces operative Luke Barrett has enough to handle with his little girl and an historic property to upkeep. The last thing he needs is a feisty, stubborn woman with whom to contend. Yet, Rachel’s determined spirit awakens something in Luke that he thought died a long time ago. Luke begins to capture Rachel’s heart until the night she uncovers evidence he may be keeping his plantation solvent by allowing cocaine to be smuggled along his coastline.  Devastated by the possibility, Rachel must decide whether to confront him, even while she conceals secrets of her own. When all the deception rips asunder in a hurricane, will love or faith survive?



Elva Cobb Martin is president of the South Carolina Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers (2014-2017). She is a former school teacher and a graduate of Anderson University and Erskine College. Decision, Charisma, and Home Life have carried her articles. Summer of Deception, her debut inspirational romantic suspense novel is to be released March, 24, 2017, by Pelican Books. She has also contracted an historical romance, In a Pirate’s Debt, slated for release by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas in May, 2017. She has published a Bible study, Power Over Satan, available on Amazon.com, and she coordinates an internet Prayer Task Force. Elva is represented by Jim Hart of Hartline Literary. A mother and grandmother, Elva lives with her husband Dwayne and a mini-dachshund writing helper, Lucy, and a chartreuse  parakeet named Tweetie, in Anderson, South Carolina. She would love for  you to connect with her on her web site www.elvamartin.com, her blog http://carolinaromancewit helvamartin.blogspot.com on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/Elvacobbmartin , Facebook http://www.facebook.com/elvacobbmartin, and Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/elvacobbmartin/


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Friends Don't Let Friends Miss God

We make friends in all areas of our lives - neighborhood, work, church, and maybe even the grocery store. But do I care for them equally when it comes to their spiritual health?

I tend to take care of those closest to me and forget my responsibility to everyone I know. I mean, come on, you mean I have a responsibility to share Christ with that lady whose line I go through every time I'm at Walmart? I don't really know her.

I believe I would hear a resounding yes to my question. Let me think about it another way. Do I care about that person's eternity? The fact remains that what I tell a person about Christ might be the difference between whether they find salvation or not.

God would have me to share with everyone I know. And to make things even more complicated, He would encourage me to get to know others so I can share with them too.

It isn't God's desire that anyone should miss eternity with Him. But the decision falls on each individual to accept Christ, the Way. In another section of scripture it asks - but how will they know unless someone tells them? Indeed. Enter God's plan for me. Share Christ with everyone.

So it is my responsibility to try to make sure that my friends and acquaintances don't miss God. At least as far as I'm concerned, I must tell them.

As I write this, many faces pop onto the screen of my mind. I've still got some work to do.

What about you? Is there someone you need to make sure doesn't miss God?

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Looking Ahead in a Different Way

On my desk I have a calendar with quotes and Bible passages from Elizabeth George. Often lines from that calendar stick in my brain for days. Let me share about one such day.

The date on the page is February 28. Here is what is printed there: "Describe the woman you want to be spiritually ten years from now ... Imagine what those intervening years might hold, and you'll see that you will need God for the events of those years!"

There are many books, webinars, classes, journals, and the list goes on, which involve taking a look at where you are today and where you want to be. But most of those are focused upon gaining wealth or success. Presenters and authors will give you ten easy steps to do this or buy this book or enroll in this class and we'll show you how to make millions or be successful.

How often do we stop and consider where we want to be spiritually? And does this pursuit not take focus and planning as well?

A day later, on March 1st, George's calendar pages reads: "You determine some elements of the heart. You decide what you will or will not do, whether you will or will not grow. You also decide the rate at which you will grow - the hit-and-miss rate, the measles rate (a sudden rash here and there), the 5-minute-a-day rate, or the 30-minute-a-day rate. You decide if you want to be a mushroom - which appears for a night and shrivels away at the first hint of wind or heat - or an oak tree, which lasts and lasts and lasts, becoming stronger and mightier with each passing year."

When I ask myself where I want to be spiritually in ten years or even just next year, I would hope to be on my way to becoming that mighty oak tree. But just hoping for it won't make it happen. I have to decide to do the things that will cause the growth.

I'm still in the process of describing the woman I want to be spiritually ten years from now. But I feel just stopping to consider this helps my focus and corrects many goals.

Have you ever considered the spiritual person you want to be ten years from now?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Clean Hands and Pure Hearts

Psalm 24: 3-6
"Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob."

At first these verses hearken back to when the Israelites had to stay back from the mountain while Moses was up with God. Moses returned to find the people with dirty hands and impure hearts for they had created an idol and were worshiping it. God knew the people would mess up and not be in the right place to stand in His holy place.

After remembering this historical perspective, then I turn to myself. Can I ascend? Can I stand in His holy place?

The qualifications are given for the one who might ascend and stand.
First, the one with clean hands. Does this mean literally washing my hands to be accepted? No. I believe this is a reference to what I have done. Have I soiled my hands by doing things contrary to God's instructions? I must do those things God wants me to do and stay away from doing the things He tells me not to do. Such things come to mind as taking care of people around me but refraining from gaining for success only.

Next, a pure heart is needed. This becomes even more difficult, for now I have to examine my thoughts and motives, not just my actions. Have I held ill will against another? Do I harbor bitterness or envy? These will keep me from standing in His holy place because God knows. Others may only be able to see what my hands do or do not do. But God sees my true motives.

Then, I mustn't trust in an idol. Some take this literally and exclaim readily that they are okay in this area. But what about the idols of career or even family or friends we hold in higher regard than God. An idol is anything that becomes more important than God. This takes careful examination.

Also I can't give any credence to any other person or thing that might take the place of the One True God.

Thus if I can have clean hands and a pure heart and a total loyalty to God, I can stand in His holy place and ascend His mountain. This makes me think about worship. When was the last time I just entered worship without considering if I was actually prepared? Whew. I won't start confessing here. But I am guilty of just approaching Him without examining my readiness.

When I do come to Him with clean hands and a pure heart, I will receive His blessings. I like the sound of that. And to add to that - Notice it says that such is the generation who seeks the Lord. Let's face it. If I am practicing getting clean and pure before worshiping my Lord, I will in turn lead my family to do the same. This will bring blessing upon my family - this generation.

Lord, help me to approach you with clean hands and a pure heart, leading those I have influence over to do the same. And let your blessings encourage me to continue to prepare when I worship You.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Be My Valentine, Forever!

Shall I resist getting mushy?

But I do have a Valentine forever in my hubby. Immediately I thought of a song that expresses how I feel. Maybe you readers might enjoy and relate to this song by Steven Curtis Chapman.

The song is entitled I Will Be Here. I think it expresses the sentiment of longevity - being in for the long haul. For better or worse. In sickness and in health. Forsaking all others. Keeping only to him. As long as we both shall live.

Hubby has been preaching on marriage during this love month. He suggested that couples might reclaim those vows, remembering and keeping them.

So here's my Valentine to my hubby. Listen to the song here: Song - I Will Be Here