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Archive for January, 2015

Have you ever wondered how an author goes about writing a book? I’ve asked my good friend and author Julie Cosgrove, to be with us this week and answer that question and a few more. I’ve read Julie’s two new books Hush in the Storm and Legitimate Lies. And they are both must reads!

Welcome to my blog, Julie. Let me ask, how did you come to write Legitimate Lies?

A literary agent suggested it. Let me start at the beginning, if you allow me to back the truck up…
Two years ago I had major surgery and became bored. So I thought, “What if I start out a novel ‘It was a dark and stormy night?’ Would anyone publish it?” That is how the prequel Hush in the Storm started, until my critique group all raised their eyebrows, and then spurt-sprayed their coffee in my face as they burst out laughing. The dark and stormy night is still in the first few chapters, just not as blatant. So naturally I had to start Legitimate Lies out in a brewing storm as well, though this time in the daylight hours.
The novel, Hush in the Storm, took off and then came to a screeching halt about the fourth chapter. I had a yearning to make it more than just a suspense romance. I wanted to add deeper layers, but what? Then in three weeks, I met three missionaries in three different locales who fight human trafficking When I met the third one, who had just joined my critique group, it was my turn to spurt-spray my coffee. Okay, God I get this! The more I researched the topic, the more fervent I became. Thus, that social issue became the element I wove into my story, but the plot also had to be one of romance, reality and redemption.

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I didn’t end Hush in a happily ever after sort of way—because life rarely does— so this agent at an American Christian Fiction Writers’ conference suggested I keep the storyline moving in a sequel. Thus, Legitimate Lies began…but stalled. I was quicker on the uptake this time. Right, it needs to bring out another social issue that people struggle with, but where did God wish to lead me? The agent, who decided not to sign me after all, provided the answer: Jen’s inability to have children and the deep loss of one she once had.
I rewrote foreshadowing elements of that in Hush and within a month, it ended up under contract by Prism Book Group. My acquisition editor had to quit, and Hush shuffled into a slush pile for over a year. One night the Editor-in-Chief says she awoke with a start. Her brain blurted out the question, “What happened to Julie’s novel?” She contacted me and became my content editor. Once she read the manuscript of Hush, she told me she wanted to read more. I happened to have just finished the rough draft of Legitimate Lies. Twenty-four hours later, I had a contract for it.
What do you hope to accomplish through these two novels?
I want people to fathom how deeply God loves them, no matter what has goon on in their lives. Redemption is always an option, no matter how heinous you think your wrongdoings are, or those done to you. Whether it is adultery, human trafficking, deceit, treachery or aborting a child—or anything else for that matter—it is not out of God’s loving reach. I have witnessed so many people eaten away inside by years of harbored hatred and shame. Forgiveness is the only thing that can lift you out of the muck— first, God’s forgiveness through His Son Jesus Christ and secondly, forgiveness for those who wrong you. Lastly forgiveness for yourself if you have done wrong. Not so say we become so weak our lives are floor mats. Just the opposite. It takes great strength, and my heroines exhibit that…eventually.
To illustrate what I mean, here is an excerpt from a novella that will be coming out the end of 2015 – Navy Blues.
I twisted a strand of hair around my finger. “So, do you think I should forgive Trey?”
Absolutely.” Ryan cast his gaze to the small cross around my neck. “Jesus told us to forgive those who trespass against us. But whether you want to continue in a relationship with the guy, well…” He shrugged but kept his eyes locked with mine.
He could have splashed ice water on my face. I took a sharp breath. “Not the same thing, huh?”
Ryan shook his head. “Two very different acts. But once you can begin to entertain the first, the second will be easier to determine.” He gently tapped where my heart lay with his forefinger.” You need to get through the emotions first before you decide.”
I nodded through a glimmer of fresh tears.
I also hope readers enjoy the storyline along the way. That is what fiction is all about. So far, both Hush in the Storm and Legitimate Lies have received high star ratings.

Give us a brief peek at Legitimate Lies.
I slammed the water glass down in front of him, leaned in and threw several daggers into his deep blue eyes, the ones I almost drowned in another identity ago. “You had my business card.”
His eyes twinkled. “Not too hard to snatch.”
“Exactly how long have you been watching me?”
He pushed his shoulders into the chair’s spindles and took a deep swallow. After he set the tumbler down, he ran a finger around the rim. “Is it important?”
I wanted to slap the smirk from his face. I wanted to plant kisses all over it. I wanted to smash the water glass and shove its broken shards into his chiseled cheekbones. Instead, I slumped into the chair across from him. My emotions with this man had never been crystal clear.
A baby, a new life, a kidnapping…all bring Jen to face the lie she’s hidden for so long…will it hinder her one chance for happiness?
Legitimate Lies by Julie B. Cosgrove from Prism Book Group!

http://www.prismbookgroup.com/LegitimateLies.html

Do you write anything else?
Yes, I write regularly for six devotional publications and websites, and I have published three Bible studies, a devotional on the Psalms, and an inspirational help book called Squeeze More God Time Into You Day. I wrote another novel, Focused, about an empty nest couple seeking to find their marriage again, despite the bumbling help of coworkers and church members. They can all be previewed on my website, www.juliebcosgrove.com.
I also have a blog, Where Did You Find God Today?, which I hope leads people to discover His spiritual shoulder taps and soul-whispers throughout their day.

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I’ve misplaced the inexpressible great joy and glory of my salvation somewhere between the shredding of our Constitution, legalizing the murder of millions of innocent babies, tossing out God’s commandments about marriage and family, and kicking God to the curb in America.
Allowing myself to become so focused on the rancorous evil going on around me, like Lot, my soul has been vexed. And when I focus on vexness, I’m not talking about the joy of living for Jesus. No, I’m spitting the putrid liquid of frustration on everyone around me. And brother and sister in Christ, sometimes it’s hard to tell you and me from the rest of the world.
Can I get a witness?
Think about Lot. Uncle Abraham raised him…can you imagine being under Abraham’s care? ‘Course Abraham had warts too, but as the head of a family, “Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness” (James 2:23 NAS).
Yet, when the time came, Lot chose to settle near a booming metropolis where life would be prosperous and his kids could benefit from all the cultural advantages Sodom and Gomorrah could offer. Lot put down roots. Roots that went deep into heathen soil. But Lot didn’t change the culture, the culture changed Lot. And his family.
Scripture is silent about his time there except to let us know Lot sat at the gates. He was a civic leader, maybe on the way to becoming a judge, but apparently his life made absolutely no impact on anyone around him, not even his wife, daughters or would-have-been sons-in-law.
You know the story. He moved in with the heathen, knew they were evil, but lost his perspective and lost his joy. Lost his ability to see beyond his current circumstances to God’s promise and the glory to come. And he dwelt there day after day, year after year, ‘til his ability to think was so distorted he offered his virgin daughters to the homosexual mob, to do with as they pleased, to save his visitors. And God destroyed those cities…forever.
And haven’t we done the same thing with our children? We’ve moved in alongside the godless culture and like those ancient Israelites, we’ve sacrificed our children on pagan altars, refusing to come apart and be different. And we’ve become like the world.
God’s epitaph to Lot in 2 Peter refers to righteous Lot and how God rescued him from Sodom and Gomorrah, but Lot still must stand before God to account for his leadership as a husband and father. Will all that’s left for him be wood, hay, and stubble? What about you? What about me?
So what’s the impact of joy? The question was asked in our Precept study this week, “What truth has God revealed to you about yourself in this first chapter of 1 Peter? And verses seven, eight, and nine leaped off the page and punched me in the gut.
“…the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:7-9 NAS).
Inexpressible joy? Me? I’m not even living in the shadow of His joy most of the time. Some days the darkness of evil seems to envelop my world. Do you ever feel that way? Like Lot I’ve put my roots downDSCF1479 deep, like I’m gonna be here forever. My prayer closet gets a few minutes in the morning and in the evening at best, unless trouble, trials, or torment move in for a visit. Then I want everyone to join me in the closet.
Take a gander around you this coming Sunday morning. What do you see? Joy and peace, or sour faces, sitting and soaking in the pews? Faces etched in unattractive arcs because of the yammering of everything gone wrong in our nation. In our world. And we’re not used to things that threaten our farce of happy life, beautiful home, successful kids, or our bellies. And we react.

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We’ve been cellophaned picture-perfect for the world to look at and envy. But we aren’t perfect or pleasing. And Jesus never told us our journey here would be pleasant or peaceful. Especially when we’ve forgotten The Lord God Almighty. As a nation, we’ve thumbed our noses at Him, refused to listen and obey His commandments, and forgotten He provided all those blessings, we didn’t. And He can certainly remove them from rebellious, hateful, spoiled children.
Those early Christians maintained their love and support for Jesus and each other while members of their families and their church were soaked in tar and used as human torches along Nero’s highways, or others were sewn in animal skins and tossed into the arena with wild beasts to entertain the spectators? How did they maintain their faith and joy?
History doesn’t record them leading protests against Nero. Nor did they appear on the local Rome news of the day. But they knew the Giver of Joy—the Lord Jesus Christ. They were trapped in their frailty and depended on Him for everything. They knew their world was not getting better and they knew, that they knew, that they knew to be absent from the body meant being present with the Lord. And they concentrated on an eternal citizenship and relationship with Jesus, refusing to cling to the flesh. They understood their future was with the God of the Universe. Creator. Sustainer. El Shaddai—The Lord God Almighty.
Is God going to have to use a larger board to get our attention? Their joy over God’s promises and their faith in the truth of His word drove them to abide in Jesus. He was their only hope and they carried everything to Him, in spite of the reality of everything playing out in real time.
If there is any hope for America today, we must do the same. We need to cry to God for the fresh wind and fire of His Spirit to blow the doors off stinky sanctuaries allowing the freshness of His grace, His glory, His love, and His joy to cleanse and rejuvenate His people. We need to be revived!
In spite of what the “name it and claim it” folks shout, America is in immediate, grave danger. Danger of God’s judgment.
Imagine this scene—men and women draped in black robes, sitting on the benches of the courts of ourHot in the kitchen 2 land. The gavel slams down and these justices overrule God. Again. And their decision will place us alongside Sodom and Gomorrah in the history books.
Horrendous stories splash the front pages of the newspapers and scream in HD on the nightly news. America is no longer the America of my youth. The deceiver has captured the minds of the majority and they have chosen his lies rather than God’s Truth. The majority desire a king who will stand against God, just like many of our national leaders do every day and that highest court in the land may rule this spring. And then—business as usual? Maybe—maybe not.
Because God is the same God who, when Israel turned away from Him and Judah followed in their steps, sent heathen nations to judge them. To judge them for the purpose of bringing them back to Him.
The Jews are God’s covenant people and He used a really big, bad, bubba board on them. But because of His unconditional covenant with Abraham and His predetermined plan, He will restore a remnant of them in the last days. But at what cost? The Crusades. Two world wars. Genocide. In days to come, scripture tells us two-thirds of that nation will be destroyed. Only one-third will survive—to be saved and restored in a single day.
Contrary to some teaching, America does not have a national covenant with God. God has offered His grace to individual believers under the New Covenant. But this New Covenant is conditional. And subject to the believer’s faith and trust and obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ through the predetermined sacrifice of Jesus’ blood and the grace and mercy of God.
So the question I ask you right now, is the melody of Jesus’ glory playing in your heart this morning? Issun and lightning the joy of God’s grace causing your soul to celebrate with inexpressible joy? Is the dawn of His appearing bubbling from within you? Or does the constant clamor from demonic swords drown heaven’s choir and dim the light of His truth?
What will people see in you and me as the darkness of this age squeezes them into the mold of evil—hope and love and the grace of God? Or the horror of a mirror image of themselves?
What will God’s epitaph read about you an me? Will the impact of our “…great rejoicing with joy inexpressible and full of glory…” point others to Jesus before it’s too late?

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Yesterday was a race from the moment my feet hit the floor ‘til I tucked my weary, done-in bones into bed last night. A frantic day, a not-a-moment-to-spare day. A chasing-my-tail day. I know you’ve had them. But as I look back on the sequence of events my anxiousness, my distractions, my unrealistic expectations exacerbated the disappointing chaos.

 
This morning I roused to thoughts of what did you do with Jesus? My mind immediately protested, Why I prayed yesterday morning and I asked God to make my path smooth and help me get everything done I needed to accomplish.

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The silence was deafening.

 
I thought back to yesterday morning and shoving my husband out the door so I could execute my plan for the day. My Martha spirit reasoned, if I missed the first part of Bible study and use it to—yep, that would leave me just enough time to accomplish what needed to be done. I’d just go for the DVD, after all, I did my homework. Yeah, that part worked ‘til the rest of the day did the proverbial leap into the handbag.

 
As I laid there this morning making excuses an old spiritual began to play over and over in my head. In the mornin’ when I rise, in the mornin’ when I rise. In the mornin’ when I rise, I need Jesus.

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And I was ashamed.

 
Those prayers tossed toward heaven were about me, not about Jesus. I had made a plan, dotted the “I’s” and crossed the “T’s”. My plan would be a smashing success. Or so I thought.

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I rolled over and stared at the ceiling as the melody pricked my heart and I whispered my confession to the Lord. My sin of not consulting Him first. My sin of putting everything else before Him. My sin of being distracted with all my preparations. Oh, not bad things, just my things. I hadn’t chosen that “good part” like Jesus told Martha. “Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 11:42 NAS).

 
How many mornings does this scene repeat itself at your house? How many mornings do your eyelids snap open while your feet hit the floor and there’s no looking back to seek Him. How many mornings do we all open the front door to chaos by not beginning the day with Jesus. Thanking Him. Praising Him. Humbling ourselves before Him. Admitting, before we rise, we need Jesus.

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“Now as they were traveling along, He entered a certain village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. And she had a sister called Mary, who moreover was listening to the Lord’s word, seated at His feet. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him, and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.’ But the Lord answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:38-42 NAS).

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Growing up in the deep south where lakes and creeks are always around the next bend, an old wives’ tale was repeated often to us kids. “Don’t touch snapping turtles. They will bite you and not let go ‘til it thunders.”

 
Now I guess they told us that ‘cause what kid doesn’t wanna catch a turtle, poke its shell, or bring the critter home and put it in a tub of water? But all these years later I’m rememberin’ what my momma said, ‘cause I don’t want no turtle hangin’ on my hand.

 
I thought about that old saying this morning. God emphatically tells us we are to remember some things and other things we are to relinquish. But I wonder if we don’t act like those ornery snapping turtles, refusing to turn loose of what God says to relinquish and refusing to latch onto what He says to remember—struggling through life with Satan biting onto a piece of our flesh.

 
Remember what God said to Adam and Eve? “You can eat of all the trees in the Garden, but of the tree of good and evil you shall not eat.” We all know how that came out. Their refusal to latch onto God’s instruction and remember and obey His words and the catastrophic consequences reverberate clear to 2015 A.D., don’t they?

 
In Exodus He chiseled in stone, “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.” And repeated with the New Testament restatement of this commandment…“Do not forsake the gathering of yourselves together as is the habit of some….”

 
When I was a girl Sunday was a day of rest. Stores were closed and it was a day of gathering at God’s house to worship, rest, then dinner with family and friends.

 
As society refused to remember, Sunday Blue Laws were passed, but alas, they did little to hold the chain-of-remembrance firm. Today most of the people on any given block, in any given city in America, have forgotten or have never known God instructed them to gather together with an assembly of believers to worship our Lord Jesus Christ, study His Word, and encourage one another “…as we see the time drawing near.”

 
Yet we’ve allowed those tablets of stone to be chunked out of schools, the family, the courthouse, and the Whitehouse.

 
God called Israel to remember forever how He delivered them out of slavery in Egypt. He told them to remember what their enemies did to them on their journey to the promised land. He told them to remember the words Moses conveyed to them from Him.

 
And God instructed them to “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, ‘I have no delight in them;’…then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it…For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:1, 7, 14 NAS).

 
You might find it interesting to do a word search on the word remember throughout the scriptures. Jesus told His followers, “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My word, they will keep yours also” (John 15:20 NAS).

 
And in Act 20:29-36, Jesus said: “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore, be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the Word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified…In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

 
Well folks, the wolves have arrived! Hungry wolves. Wolves determined to shatter and scatter the flock. And the wolves are circling and devouring our children.

 
We’ve nurtured and raised a throw-a-way generation. A generation drunk with self-aggrandizement and pleasure, who buy the newest and best, use it for a spell, then toss the stuff for newer technology. Forgetting to treasure and remember what God’s Word says. And they are raising a generation of children who know nothing of “…more blessed to give than to receive.” They demand everything for themselves.

 
Where did we go wrong? Could it be that we, like the ancient Hebrews, refused to listen and learn God’s instructions to remember. We ignored and did not teach His instruction: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8 NAS).

 
But like stubborn turtles-with-a-snap or dogs-with-a-bone we have refused to relinquish what He told us to turn from.

 
I could list what we all consider the big sins, but are those really the ones that shred the church? Or do the thoughts and intents of our hearts within the body of Christ do more damage than we’re willing to fess up to?

 
Philippians 2:5-8 tells us: “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied (laid aside His privileges)Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
This passage goes on to say we are to, “…do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.”

 
So what does this look like fleshed out in every day life? In relationships, marriages, friendships? How about relinquishing my right to be right or have my way. Or relinquishing my false pride and self-righteousness. And relinquishing my need to be more affluent, more educated, the center of attention, the most popular, most important…whatever. Then there’s relinquishing my bent to lie, gossip, or respond in harshness or peevish behavior toward others. And perhaps more important, relinquishing my right to hold grudges, be angry and unforgiving to those within the Body of Christ who offend us.

 
In America we have been blessed and affluent because of our forefathers’ faith and trust in the Word of God. But we will not be allowed to hitch-a-ride on the coat-tails of their obedience forever.
God’s patience will come to an end. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7 NAS).

 
It’s long past time for the Church to be the Church…the pure and holy bride of Christ. Loving and forgiving each other daily as God, through Christ Jesus, has loved and forgiven each one of us. Having in ourselves an insatiable appetite for the pure Word of God and a disciplined heart and mind that desires only to please Him and turn from what He hates.

 
Whether that turtle holds on ‘til it thunders is irrelevant. But when God thunders from heaven and the trumpet sounds, it will be too late for you or me to change.

 
Scripture tells us, “Today if you hear His voice do not harden your heart” (Psalm 95:7-8; Hebrews 3:7, 3:15, 4:7 NAS). What has God’s Holy Spirit called you to remember today? To relinquish? Perhaps both?

 

 

“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable, but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God” (I Peter 1:22-23 NAS).

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