Monday, November 28, 2011

Would You Still Be Thankful?

I sent this Thanksgiving message to my friends via email, and thought I'd share it here as well (just in case I forgot anyone!).


Hello Friends,

"I am thankful for..."

Ah, the phrase we often hear around this time of year.  We count our blessings, number off the things we are grateful for, and then celebrate over a feast of turkey and pumpkin pie.  A generic list of blessings usually includes: family, friends, home, health, possessions, food, etc., and oftentimes, the "I'm thankful for" line turns into a cliche and is reduced to nothing more than holiday tradition.  

But, I will ask, for the sake of asking, "What are you thankful for?"  Take a moment, pause, consider what you are truly thankful for - the most precious treasures in your life.  Have them in mind?  Okay, good.

Now let me ask: 

What if they were gone next Thanksgiving?

Perhaps, like me, the greatest blessing on your list is your family.  The thought of my family - any member of my family - being absent next Thanksgiving is almost unbearable.  How deeply would I miss my sweet siblings, my wonderful parents, and the precious times we have together.  What would I do without them?  

Could I still be thankful?

Another large item on my own list is health.  Despite a few allergies and the occasional cold, I must admit I have been blessed with good health.  What if next Thanksgiving finds me in a hospital bed, struggling to battle a precarious disease?  What if I were given a few months to live?  What if I am inflicted with continuous, excruciating pain from some illness?

Could I still be thankful? 
   
Shelter and security.  Huge item.  How I take for granted a roof over my head, a warm bed to sleep in, the confidence of a house to "come home" to after long trips.  What if a year from now I am without a home, without a safe place to sleep, or even without some sort of shelter of protection from the elements? 

Could I still be thankful?

How about freedom?  Imagine with me next year not being able to worship inside a church building, being banned from fellowship with other believers, not allowed to homeschool or be a traditional family.  What if I'd be imprisoned for my "radical" beliefs, stripped of the religious freedom I hold so dear?  

Could I still be thankful?

The list can be extended with further blessings: food, technology, music, etc. etc., and still the question remains: Could I still be thankful?

If everything was taken away from you, could you still find reason to be grateful?  It is easy to be thankful when all your needs and comforts are fulfilled, but much harder to say "I'm thankful" when challenged by extreme trials.  Oftentimes the definition of "Blessed by God" is dependent on our comfort level, rather than our contentedness.

So this Thanksgiving season, I challenge you to examine yourself: Are you really grateful?  Are you really content or are you comfortable?  If next Thanksgiving found you without the blessings you listed this year, could you still praise God and say, "Yes, Lord, I am truly grateful for Who You are and what You've done, and the blessings You have given me"?  It's something we all must consider.


"...for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:11b-13)
"...giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ..." (Ephesians 5:20)

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

In His Love,
Taylor Garms

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Vote for the New GodlyGirlhood.org!

Finally! With the help and opinions of my best friends (Ben and Leesha, naturally) I have narrowed GodlyGirlhood.org's website design to two choices. Except now, I don't know which one I prefer! :) Okay folkies, it's your turn to share your thoughts!


Share this with your friends; the more input the better! Also, don't forget to follow GodlyGirlhood.org!

Someday I'll have to do a post with all the designs which never made it...

Lacheln!
Taylor

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tying Shoes

"Can someone help me?"

"What?"

"Can you tie my shoes?"

"Sure."


The little voice rose from the entryway, and I had to go: there were not many more opportunities like this left. Seven-year old Caleb is growing up fast, and as he was telling me as I helped him tie his shoes, Dad was teaching him on to do it on his own.

As I double-knotted the little tennis shoe, I looked up into his darling blue eyes. "You know what?" I said. "What?" he replied, a small smile enlarging on his smooth face, his dancing eyes twinkling. "When you're big and old, and perhaps with a big Southern Gospel group someday," I began mischievously, "I'll come to one of your concerts and tell people, 'That's my little brother. I helped him tie his shoes.'" He grinned his broad 'Caleb' smile. "Mom and Dad would be really old by then!" he said, hunching over to demonstrate their way-future age.

I then began a walk down memory lane with him. "Yep, I used to help tie your shoes, help change your diaper, help feed you baby food. I was there when you started to crawl, when you started to walk. Ben was the first person to make you laugh." Caleb laughed as I told him stories of his babyhood and the times when Mom asked me to help out with him.

"Oh yes, and I used to put you to bed sometimes," I said with a hint of annoyance in my voice. "Did I make you tell lots of stories?" inquired Caleb, scrunching up his darling face. "No, we used to sing, and SING! You wanted to sing all the Cathedral songs. Your favorite was 'Roll Away Troubled River', and you would make me sing that over and over again. Your favorite part of the song was when George [Younce] would go down a scale like 'Rol-ol-ol-ol-ol away'. And you would sing along in your baby voice. I would leave you, and then pretty soon I'd hear you call for me to sing some more. And then I'd hear you singing to yourself after I finally said 'No more'."

Caleb looked down at me from the bench in the entryway, his little stocky legs swinging over the edge. "I'd ask you when I'd change your diaper, 'Who are your favorite Cathedrals?' And you'd say, 'Scott [Fowler], and George [Younce], and Glen [Payne], and Ernie [Haase], and Roger [Bennett].'" You wanted to be a bass singer even when you were little [two-years old], and you wanted to be like Scott and George." He laughed. (Ah, even now I can hear his little lisp!)

To some questions of his, there were no certain answers: "When was the first time I ate popcorn?" "Boy, I don't remember, Caleb!" :)

We sat there, brother and sister, in the foyer, just talking for perhaps 15 minutes. As he finally went out the door, I said, "Have fun outside!" He turned back in the doorway, and grinned his Caleb grin. "Okay! I will! And you have fun inside!" We both laughed, and I watched my little brother charge onto the deck, filled with youthful ambition and all the joys of childhood.

If I had said I was too busy to help him tie his shoes, I would have missed that beautiful time of investing and sharing in this precious life.

"Lord, help me treasure these times while I can."

Several months ago, during my nightly journal-wrting session, a song idea came into my head about celebrating younger siblings. It's been sitting in my desk for a while...along with so many other of my song ideas! While the word flow is still very rough and the music sketchy, I thought I'd share it anyway, as it fits so well with this post.
Vs. 1
He runs in the yard and falls in the dirt,
Getting mud all over his shirt.
He picks dandelions and asks to play ball;
Will he always be this small?
Then I think how fast it will go -
Watching the little boy grow -
I learn to be patient, I learn to be kind,
And suddenly I don't mind...


Chorus:
Treasure all these things in your heart,
Hold them tight in your hand;
The little boy will soon be a man;
Treasure it while you can.


Vs. 2
Our time here together will go all too fast
Soon these moments will pass.
I look o'er the faults and see all the smiles,
Counting them off with the miles.
There is no one I care for more -
Of this you can be sure -
So, God, help me to show it to him today
Before time slips through my hand...


Chorus:
Treasure all these things in your heart,
Hold them tight in your hand;
The little boy will soon be a man;
Treasure it while you can.


Tag:
Treasure it while you can.

("Treasure" - Copyright February 24th, 2011 Words and Music by Taylor Garms)
How can you "treasure" your siblings and family today?

Lacheln!
Taylor

[This post was first composed in April, and shortly after the completion of this post, my dear Caleb successfully tied his own shoes. What a bittersweet moment!]

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My Purity Pact

At 13 years of age, I made the decision to keep myself pure for my future husband and I chose not to date. Throughout the years, I have made boundaries for myself and have verbally told people my standards, but I recently realized I have never written precisely what they were. I did this exercise in my journal to set in stone my purity pact, and to make sure I have my commitments written down. I'm sharing them with you as inspiration if you have never set boundaries for yourself, or have never made a commitment to purity.

---------------------------------------------

September 21st, 2011

TAYLOR'S PURITY PACT
  • I am committed to courtship, and refuse to date.
  • I will not have solitary phone conversations with young men.
  • I will not be in a room alone with another man.
  • I will keep physical contact with young men (and guys in general) to a minimum: handshakes and "quick" hugs are acceptable, "long hugs", holding hands, patting back/arm, etc. are not allowable.
  • If I feel intimidated or am made uncomfortable by any guy (young or old), I will seek help, protection, and safety from my older brother, father, or another safe person.
  • Emails to young men are done through the family's email account for accountability purposes and generally will have an editor - unless it is a quick correspondence. My parents have access to all my email accounts, and business emails with men are focused on business.
  • I will not have in-depth personal conversations with young men.
  • No snail mail correspondence with any guy.
  • I will not ride alone in a vehicle with a young man, and generally not with any guy, unless out of great necessity.
  • As for me, I will avoid and shun flirtatious behavior. This behavior is appalling to me and definitely "unattractive".
Is it okay to be friends with young men? Yes, I believe it is all right to have brother/sister-in-the-Lord relationships. But there must be boundaries to keep the friendship pure and safe. It is so easy to go a step further than originally intended, so it is very important to have accountability (preferably through parents and siblings).

May I always treat young men as brothers - unless they are of such character so as to be avoided. From the times I have overstepped my boundaries, I move on with a freshly determined outlook, resolving not to compromise.

SIGNED:
Taylor K. Garms
September 21st, 2011
"Keep yourself pure..." 1st Timothy 5:22b

---------------------------------------------

What boundaries have you established for yourself? I urge you to deeply consider and pray about your own "purity pact"!

Lacheln!
Taylor

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Smorgasbord of Randomness

Coming off a deep theological discussion like we recently had on my blog, I wanted to do a totally random post of things which may (or may not) interest you. :) Enjoy this "smorgasbord of randomness"! (Randomness is my specialty, by the way.)


- Eek! The kitchen reeks of pickles! An unidentified Lil' Adventurer (LA) just smashed a jar of pickles. Thankfully, the Garms Family First Responders have quickly cleaned up the scene of disaster. Ironically, this is the second pickle the LA dropped today (the first he was using to water a plant).

- Tuesday is always our Wal-mart raiding day (i.e. grocery shopping). We are glad to be home safely, as after we stuffed our provisions for the week in the Mercury Topaz's small trunk, Mom noticed the right back tire was almost flat (right underneath where I sit - and no, it wasn't my fault!). So, we got some air to get us home, and shortly after we arrived home, the tire went totally flat. We have more problems with tires this month than we have for years (don't ask)...

- Preparations for the Floyd Gospel Sing in Floyd, IA are underway! We have been looking forward to this for about a year, and we are thrilled to be part of it. If any of you are in Iowa, I/we would love to meet you there! Click here for more details. Also, we're so excited to see Ernie Haase and Signature Sound for the first time in five years this Thursday in Iowa! (We're calling it a mini-vacation for our family. :) ) Leesha and Jayme just came in and showed me an outfit idea for the concert - the excitement is building! (Oh, NO! What am I going to wear to the concert? I'd better start planning! :-D )

- I've officially adapted to the singer's schedule: stay up late, get up late. I'm getting a little tired (don't mind the pun) of going to bed around midnight each night, but there's always so much to do! (I'm actually more of a night person, anyway.) So, I am hoping to get to bed earlier, so I get up earlier and maybe accomplish more that way.

- Siblings are awesome. They are hilarious. On our way up to our concert in Aitkin, MN this Sunday, we had a side-splitting episode of "That's Us": two Australian friends, "Cooper" (me) and "Riley" (Leesha), and their occasional sidekick, "Andrew" (Ben). These Aussies entertained some small "joeys" (Sam, Jayme, and Caleb) as they toured a foreign country (northern Minnesota) and sang "Home, home on the Outback, where the dingoes and kangaroos play" (with pathetic Australian accents). [As I'm typing this, I am saying each word I type in "Cooper's" voice - oh, brother!] It is the joke of the week, I think! "Gidday, mates!"

- I added a Morgan Monroe MMS-8 mandolin to my collection of instruments recently. It was about time to upgrade (my former mando had chops which sounded like I was using a sustain pedal), and I absolutely love my "peach-blossom baby"! It's tone is impeccably beautiful, it's chops solid, and it's play-ability superb. Ingredients for a great mandolin, which thankfully didn't cost thousands of dollars!

Me and "Morgan"

- I am actually planning several giveaways (suppress your excitement and wait patiently, okay?) in the near future. I've never done a giveaway before, but it will be fun and a new experience!

- Well, I suppose I've been random enough. Let me close with a video of my "Favorite Quartet of All Time": the Cathedral Quartet. I was hoping to write a blog introducing y'all to my favorite music in August, but alas, in this I did not succeed. (I was planning to start a new holiday called, "Tell a Friend About Southern Gospel Music Day". :) ) But, if you've never experienced SGM, here's a good start, and you crave more, visit this link to immerse yourself in SGM:



(Ugh, just watched the entire video and realized they cut off the ending of the song! *sob* Well, enjoy what you see!)

Well, I have to get packing for the our Iowa trip and setting the table. (Last night I made a family favorite hotdish: "Club Day Chicken Casserole" and I'm enjoying it's wonderful smell as it cooks in the oven; someday I'll share the recipe.) Onward and forward, as Mom likes to say!

Enjoy the rest of the fleeting summer!

Lacheln!
Taylor

(Post Script: Obviously, this post was drafted earlier today!)

Monday, August 22, 2011

An Inclusive Response to "Once Saved, Not 'Forever' Saved"

Thank you for waiting patiently for me to respond to your comments on "Once Saved, Not 'Forever' Saved". Instead of tackling each comment separately, I have decided to respond with an all inclusive post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

After much searching through Scripture, prayer, and consideration, let me share with you my conclusions and address your comments...

-------------------------

Daniel, I too believe "God, Who is soveriegn and omniscient, knows the future." He knows and searches the hearts of men (Psalm 139:1-4, John 2:24-25). He is the Creator, Ruler, and Sovereign Lord over all creation (Isaiah 40:28, Revelation 1:5). Nothing will ever surprise Him, whether it be the trials we experience (consider Job 1-2), the corruption of the church, the rise of evil rulers, natural disasters...or a person falling away from saving faith in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. I agree with the statement "if a person professes faith at one point in their lives, but that person will not profess faith at the end of their lives, I believe God already knows that."

Hannah, you quoted Ephesians 2:8-9: "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." To this I say: absolutely! Amen and amen! I wholeheartedly believe this verse! Salvation is not earned by any good works, as Galatians 2:16 (and many other portions of Scripture) also confirms: "yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law, but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified in Christ." Now, after we are reconciled to the Father through belief in Jesus Christ, we are to do "good works" and conform our lives according to Christ's life (James 2:14-26, Romans 12:1-2, 2nd Timothy 1:9, 1st Peter 1:14-16)), as Ephesians 2:10 goes on to say, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." But that's a different topic, of course.

We were dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1-3), but God, rich in love, mercy and grace, has provided the way of salvation through the death and resurrection of His perfect, sinless Son, Jesus Christ and has made us alive in Him (1st John 4:10, Ephesians 2:4-7, John 3:16, Colossians 2:13-15). (And yes, Amy, just praying a "sinner's prayer" does not save you.) This clearly dispels "decision theology" and "making a decision for Christ", but again, that's another topic.

We cannot "keep" our salvation by good works. God is the Author and Perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). "And I am sure of this, He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6) Just as our good works or "righteousness" cannot save us, we cannot keep our salvation by it. It is only by the grace of our Lord and His work on our hearts which draws us to Himself; He sanctifies us through His Word as His Spirit works on our lives. But, we can harden our hearts and reject the salvation He so freely gives. We can fall away. Our precious Lord Jesus Christ even solemnly said, "I have said all these things to keep you from falling away." (John 16:1) [Emphasis mine throughout quoted Scripture in this post.]

The Bible clearly warns us time and again of this:

"Therefore, let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall." 1st Corinthians 10:12

"Therefore, we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard," Hebrews 2:1-3

"You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to eternity." 2nd Peter 3:17-18

"Now the Spirit expressly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons," 1st Timothy 4:1

"The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we endure, we will also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He also will deny us; if we are faithless, He remains faithful." 2nd Timothy 2:11-13

"...Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some." 2nd Timothy 2:17-18

"Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called 'today,' that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end." Hebrews 3:12-14

"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He Who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:23

Amy, you said "If a person 'falls from the faith', then it is evidence that he/she was never truly saved in the first place." Amy, an unsaved person cannot depart from the faith because they never had faith to begin with! As God's Word clearly says, a person who falls away from the faith previously believed, and as Jesus said in Luke 8, the cares, riches, pleasures, and trials of this life, as well as their own sinful nature, choke their faith, causing them to fall away. So to claim those who fall away from the faith weren't actually saved is not Biblically correct...or logically correct for that reason, either.

>>> "If this did mean you could lose your salvation, then it would mean when you do lose it you can never get it back again. That is a wimpy salvation."

Hebrews 6:4-6 is speaking of those who have hardened their hearts in unbelief and are unrepentant. Because they have turned away from the Lord - after knowing Him - and reject the gracious gift of salvation (thus blaspheming the Holy Spirit and sinning the 'unpardonable sin' [John 5:16, Matthew 12:31-32, Mark 6:29-30,), there is no forgiveness for them, as they are not seeking it. But if they eventually do come to repentance, there is forgiveness. Consider Peter; after he denied our Lord, but then repented, Jesus reinstated him in John 21:15-19, and also Romans 11:

"Then you will say, 'Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.' That is true. They were broken off because of their disbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in His kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again." Romans 11:19-23

>>> "A person can have a lot of knowledge of the truth and not truly be saved. Knowledge does not save you."

I will agree with the statement "Knowledge does not save you", as only belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will. But knowledge is part of belief and knowing is part of salvation.

Let me explain it this way: If I had just stumbled across your blog and read a post or two, I would believe you existed. But since I have met you personally, have talked with you on several occasions, and do try to keep up on your blog, I not only believe you exist, but know you exist and my knowledge of you grows as I get to know you better. This is what Scripture most often means when the words "know", "knowledge", or "knowing" are used to describe our relationship with Jesus Christ and salvation through Him. Consider God's Word:

"For I am not ashamed, for I know Whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me." 2nd Timothy 1:12

"This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, Who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." 1st Timothy 2:3-4

"...so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith - that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:17-19

"Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." Philippians 3:8a

"...and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus." 2nd Thessalonians 1:7-8

"For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." 2nd Peter 1:5-11

Knowledge is part of sanctification and spiritual growth. When Hebrews 10:26-29 mentioned "the knowledge of the truth", the writer is speaking of those who have believed and have known Jesus, and have fallen away. How tragic for those who depart from the faith!

>>> "Some people make a commitment to Christ that is not genuine..."

Yes, I can agree with this statement. They are imposters, and fit well with the description of Jude 1-16.

>>> "1st Timothy 1:19b-20 ~ Apostates do just that."

The definition of "apostate" according to Webster's 1828 Dictionary is as follows: "One who has forsaken the church, sect or profession to which he before adhered, has abandoned his religion;" And "apostasy" means, "An abandonment of what one has professed; a total desertion, or departure from one's faith or religion." So yes, apostates, like Alexander and Hymenaeus, do reject their faith and fall away from belief.

And yes, Amy, nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God (John 10:27-29, Romans 8:33-35, 38-39) - as long as we continue to believe in Him. This is eternal assurance, not eternal security.

Does this seem unreasonable? Truly, the things of God do seem unreasonable to us human beings and at times "foolish" (Romans 1:18, Isaiah 55:8). We must only accept what He says, with faith like a child. "Oh the depths and riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgements and how inscrutable His ways!" (Romans 11:33)

Yankeegospelgirl, one point I do want to make is, yes, we are not condemned to hell by our sins; Jesus provided forgiveness for our sins. Sin does not condemn us; but it is unbelief that condemns us (Mark 16:16). We are saved only through the precious blood of our Savior Jesus Christ and God's amazing grace.

--------------------

This has turned into an extremely lengthy post. I have spent many hours of research and typing, but it has been worth it...for me, at least.

I have not written these words lightly, but with much consternation, concern, consideration, study, and prayer. I have been spurned to greatly search the Word of God and made to consider many things through your comments. This has driven me deeper into God's Word, for which I thank you. :) If God's Word can be proven wrong by God's Word, not by any interpretations or implications of man, I will gladly reconsider my beliefs. I do not desire to be deceived by misconceptions, and I strive to cling to God's Word above all things.

"Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one take you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ." Colossians 2:6-8

I pray you would consider God's Words and seek His truth above all things. I consider all of you friends and brothers and sisters in the Lord, and I trust you consider me the same.

This is good discussion. Let's do it again sometime! :shock:

Your sister in Christ,
Taylor

Friday, August 19, 2011

Once Saved, Not "Forever" Saved - Expanded

[Since I had great time constraints yesterday, I did not write out the Bible references I shared. So, here this is the "expanded" version of this post.]

A few days ago, I read on a blog the story of a woman whose husband committed suicide. She is sure (well, mostly sure) he is in heaven because her pastor assured her that her husband had made a commitment to Christ in his presence just weeks previous, and thus he was saved forever. (Paraphrased.)

Yesterday I read a comment on a different blog which said thus: "...that once he is saved, neither he nor anyone else can do anything to change that."

And today I turned on the radio and heard a well-known preacher state: "Your sins are forgiven, you become a child of God, your name is written down in the book of life, and you are forever secure."

After hearing this three times, I decided to refute this misinterpretation on my blog, instead of fuming inside, as I generally do when I hear bad doctrine.

Once "saved", your salvation is not eternally secure.

Let me repeat: Once "saved", your salvation is not eternally secure. It is extremely dangerous to believe so, as this belief promotes the thinking of "Oh, I'm saved forever. I can do whatever I want and know it won't affect my salvation", thus causing many to neglect their faith and spiritual growth.

I won't spend much time with my own words, but will instead direct you to God's Words, as the Bible is the ultimate authority on all things which pertain to the Christian life! (If you can show me where in God's Word where I am wrong for refuting the doctrine of the "perseverance of the saints", then I'd gladly reconsider.)

Hebrews 6:4-6
"For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding Him up to contempt."

Hebrews 10:26-29
"For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sings, but a fearful expectation of judgement, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Holy Spirit?"

Ezekiel 18:24
"But when a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice and does the same abominations that the wicked person does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds that he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, for them he shall die."

Luke 8:13-14
"And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature."

1st Timothy 1:19b-20
"By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme."

Galatians 5:4
"You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace."

And consider Demas, who in Colossians, was a brother in the Lord and fellow worker to Paul:
"Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas." (Colossians 4:14); then in 1st Timothy 4:10a, Paul says thus: "For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica."

I am only sharing exactly what God's Word says, and will let God's Word stand.

Lacheln!
Taylor

Post Temporarily Down for Expansion

Opps! While expanding my latest post: "Once Saved, Not 'Forever' Saved", I accidentally removed it from my blog. :) So, for those who may be looking for it, it will be up again soon, and I will respond to comments as time permits.

-Taylor

Monday, August 1, 2011

2011: A Year of Deepening

2011 has been a year of growing and deepening.

Last year was a traumatic year for me, searching my heart and discovering what I truly believed. I despaired of faith and life; I wondered why I existed; I doubted God's presence and forgiveness in my life; I was depressed and went through each day burdened; I questioned, "Is marriage worth it? Is family worth it? Is life worth it?"

During that time, I had written a quick email to my pastor which summed up the period of confusion in my life:

God must really be working on my heart in someway, because it's hurting! :) Please keep me in your prayers as I question everything about life and wonder if it's (i.e. Christianity, family,
marriage, life) really worth the struggle. I have never felt so distant from God, so [kind of] rebellious, and have never felt such a battle for my soul. I feel on the verge, at a crossroads, in a way. Oh well...I'll get through it, I guess.

My pastor responded with an email which made me cry, especially this part:

"It's all worth it, Taylor: life, faith, God, love, marriage...all of it. Even when you can't see the tremendous blessing for what it is, it is and will remain a blessing in this life preparing us for life everlasting. It is my prayer for you that one day you will know the love of God reflected in marriage. I am so proud of you and your purity stance. I was checking out your website a couple of months ago and I like the analogy you used about handing your one-day husband a broken heart in pieces and saying "here you go...I know it's all busted up...but it should still work somewhat." Wait for that true love and life that God has planned for you. It will be a bumpy ride at times, but its beauty - the love of family, spouse and friends that reflects God's love in Christ - has no equal.

"Keep that chin up. When you feel down, I want you to go find a family member or friend and do something nice for them. Life is what you make it, and God created a beautiful world for you to celebrate that in. Live each day in His shelter and trust and comfort and rest. When you lay your head down on the pillow each night, have no regrets about how your day was spent and be excited about what a new day will bring because of the God-given newness of each day.

"Smile Taylor. Life is worth it. You're worth it. You mean so much to God that Jesus died for you. How cool is that?"

Through the encouragement and patience of my parents, my pastor, and others, I began to creep out from the shadows of my despair and started claiming foundational Biblical truths to be my own, really solidifying my belief in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

A friend at the time sent me a lengthy letter of encouragement when I confided my struggles to her. In it she wrote:

"Every young person comes to a point (usually over a few years span, not usually just over a few days) where they question everything they’ve learned, needing to know what they believe and why. You have to make convictions your very own and founded on God’s Word, the Word of Truth. If you don’t, you’ll stray away from those who love you most, from God, from Truth, wavering and unstable in everything, not knowing between right and wrong, etc."

That was exactly what was going on in my life. Our family has witnessed the ages 17-18 to be extremely critical in shaping a young person's life, worldview, and faith.

This year, my 18-19th year, I am deepening in my relationship with the Lord. I came to fully know I truly believed in Him last year, and now I am beginning to really KNOW Him. I am trying to daily spend personal time in the Word (motivated by Loving the Lord's Summer Pursuit Challenge), and have been examining areas of compromise in my life. It has been a year of deepening of my faith.

It has been so evident I need time with my Lord every day. I am so much more at peace and more purposeful during my daily tasks when I start my day with Him. My vision is usually more focused and I am apt to respond to situations more calmly and respectfully. Of course, I haven't been faithfully reading my Bible first thing in the morning (sometimes it's at 1:00 at night because of a given day's circumstances!), but I am learning to yearn for the quiet time of prayer, reading, and journaling.

Well, that's not exactly what I was planning to write today! But I felt I needed to share past words of encouragement shared with me, and also what I am learning currently. Perhaps someone needs to hear the words above.

I have more to write, but it is time to get out lunch! (*Edit: I obviously drafted this earlier today.) Catch y'all later!

Lacheln!
Taylor

P.S. Speaking of growing/learning: two weeks ago I published my first Dreamweaver-built, totally-designed-by-me, HTML/CSS/Flash website and customized my first Wordpress blog for a client. THAT was a challenge, and my brain is still a little fried from spending entire days working on computer! But if you'd like to see the results of my amateur attempts at web designing, visit here: http://www.4hislove.com. :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I'm Back...Slightly

I'm back.

It has been a month since I announced my hiatus from the blogosphere. A month of laughter, tears, long miles, late nights, deep discussions, and lessons. Time has flown by so quickly I can hardly believe it has been about four weeks from my last post. (Isn't it strange how when one is young, the days just drag by, but now the years go by so uncontrollably fast!)

And now, I'm inclined to continue my hiatus. Let me explain.

I've been evaluating my computer time, and while I absolutely love computer work (designing, blogging, website managing, correspondence, etc. etc.), I see how I am often distracted from assisting more around the home. Many of my responsibilities do revolve around the computer, because it is my forte, and I feel most productive when I am working on my computer tasks, be it designing, writing, video/photo editing...but am I getting sidetracked from my true responsibilities?

I feel I need to pull away more than just a simple blog hiatus. I need to regulate my time so computer work is not the focus of my day. Yes, I have responsibilities and I have specific gifts and interests in the area of computer and internet technology. But I cannot pursue them at the cost of wasting opportunities of serving my family.

Last September when the younger four started school, our family had a schedule, including me. It was great! I tried to limit my online time to about an hour and half and slipped in writing/designing projects in the afternoon. But somewhere between chicken pox and the increase of concerts, the schedule was lost in the ever changing atmosphere of our home. While we do have routine, the schedule has disappeared as uncertainties demand flexibility.

It's time for me to try to embrace as much of a schedule as I can in order to pull the largest amount of productivity from each day. I need to limit more of my computer time and look about the home, see what I'm missing out on, and how I can serve more.

A day without computer work makes me feel like I am wasting my time, but that's because I'm focusing on what I'm not getting done, instead of what I can be doing.

Instead of two hours of writing blog drafts, editing pictures, website hopping, designing...

- I could be trying out a new recipe (though nothing extravagant because of our limited income!) and searching for new recipes for my recipe box.

- I could be reading to my siblings (ugh, Jayme and I need to get back into reading "Elsie Dinsmore"!) or even playing with them.

- I could be taking a walk to keep myself in good health.

- I could be weeding my hosta garden (okay, something I don't necessarily enjoy, but it should be done!).

- I could be organizing piles of papers I've collected over the years. :)

- I could be focused on home-keeping tasks, and ways to assist my family, especially my mother.

- I could be spending more time in God's Word, praying, and seeking the Lord's will in everything.

Flexibility is a must to learn; I must embrace change and not be frustrated when MY plans fail and MY tasks are not accomplished. For who am I focused on? ME! If I surrender my plans, my responsibilities to the Lord and ask Him to direct me in HIS path and HIS will, then truly I will be dying to self, something I must daily do.

Does this mean I am throwing away my laptop and disconnecting the internet? No! I'm instead stepping outside my comfort zone and saying "no" to excessive amounts of computer usage. The Lord has given me gifts, abilities, and messages to share, and I will not ignore the venues (like computer and internet) He has given me. This is just a declaration of my turning, again, my heart toward home. I am going to fully examine my role as a daughter at home, for there is no higher calling at this time for me. It is truly a beautiful thing to serve one's own family and surrender one's all through ministry at home.

I will continue to blog, but blogging is not going to be a top priority. I will learn to manage my time wisely, and be productive in the little things around home. It is both exciting and worrying at the same time, but absolutely necessary.

So, how's the Lord been working on your life recently? Has He been drawing your heart to home and family, refocusing your priorities? I would love to hear of His work in your life! I have so much more to tell of the Lord's tender work in my life...but I'll share that when I have opportunity after I have served my family and re-prioritized. ;)

(Oh, I suppose you've noticed the new blog design by now! I'm in the midst of redesigning it, so be aware it is not finished yet! :) )

Lacheln!
Taylor

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Article Featured on LYWB!

Yes, yes, I know I said I was taking a hiatus, but I had promised I'd share when my writings were featured on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com (an outreach of Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Revive Our Hearts)! (I had a feeling this would happen when I would take a break; things seem to happen this way...)

I checked my email this evening after a concert this morning and discovered LYWB used an article I had submitted to them as a guest post on their blog. How thrilling! (To read the full story of when my writing was first accepted, click here!)

But anyway, if you would like to read the article I wrote last year: "Goodbye, Crutches", click here. Hope you enjoy it and are challenged by it! (I know I was after almost of year of not reading it! God has a way of using my own writings to remind myself of His Truths.)

Well, so much for a blog hiatus. :)

Lacheln!
Taylor

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Blog Hiatus...With Exciting Things Coming!

Overwhelmed.

I think that word describes me right now.

So many things call for my attention. So many tugs to do things I want to do. So many things I have to do.

*Deep breath*

In evaluating our family's crazy schedule and my pressing responsibilities, I am making the tough decision to take a hiatus from Surrendering My All till the end of the month.

Don't worry! I am not shutting down SMA, but stepping aside, taking it off my plate. I have, I believe, one of the most powerful blog series I have ever written coming up (oh, I'm so excited!) and a new design in the works. But I need to say "no" to some things in my life in order to re-prioritize and re-focus. If I don't, I know I'll burn myself out - I have before, and I don't want to again! (I have the tendency to take too many things upon myself and never get anything done; such is the life of an artistic ADD person!)

So, stayed tuned (so to speak). Exciting things are in store, but I need to purposely pull myself away from this non-essential item. I will continue to blog at my family's blog, as we have a lot going on right now, but my blog is secondary.

In closure to this blogging season here, let me share with you two things which I think are very profound and challenging:

First, a quote:

"The only thing a guy should want to change about a girl is her last name." :)

Second, two verses from the Bible I am memorizing:

"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:15-16 ESV)

I pray you all are well. Keep in touch!

Now, off to making bread, mowing the lawn, unpacking, cleaning bathrooms...etc. etc. etc. :-)

Lacheln,
Taylor

Monday, May 23, 2011

Possessiveness vs. Giving





I will confess: I am an extremely possessive person.

Extremely.

My clothes are my clothes. "Ah, Jayme? Are you wearing my hoodie? Um, could you go put that back?" My pencil is my pencil. "Has anyone seen my pencil?" My time is my time. "No Caleb, I can't [er, won't] play ball right now; I'm busy with other stuff." My money is my money.

And how do you suppose I feel when my possessiveness is challenged?

Convicted. Uncomfortably convicted.

Recently, we've been going through The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn, and it's one of those books that makes you kind of squirm - well, at least I do. I'm not saying I am a tight-fisted Scrooge, and I do enjoy contributing to ministries/families I am blessed by or know could use some help financially...but my giving sometimes comes with reluctance out of the possessiveness I described above.

Randy Alcorn presents "Treasure Principle Keys" throughout the book, and the one which has (so-far) really grabbed my attention is number one: "God owns everything; I'm His money manager."

Ouch.

It's not my money? It's not my possessions? It's not my time? It's...God's?

I have totally grasped this with the gifts God has given me: music, writing, art, designing, etc., and I absolutely acknowledge God as the Giver and Owner of those, and I love giving them away for His Glory. But when I start examining other areas of my giving life, I've discovered I am more of a stickler - pretty selfish to be blunt.

But God has gently been moving me, prodding me to really examine my giving, and not only through The Treasure Principle...

- Our conversations around the table, in the kitchen, or anywhere :) often have been directed toward this new topic over the past few weeks. So together, we are all learning about giving, and of course, family conversations always jump start my interest in a particular subject.

- In the Revive Our Hearts Summer 2011 Newsletter, Nancy Leigh DeMoss had written about the things her father taught her and lived. One of the paragraphs stood out to me in particular:
"Don't spend your life. Invest it. We don't own anything; God owns everything, and we are merely stewards. One day we'll stand before Him and give account for what we did with everything He entrusted to us. The question will be, Did we invest our lives and resources for self or for the glory of God?" ("10 Things I Learned From My Dad" by Nancy Leigh DeMoss)
- Yesterday morning after our concert/worship service at Moose Lake, MN, the pastor came forward and spoke a few words. He shared that during our concert, these acronymns for our family and band came to him (I saw him writing something down during the concert): Great Adventure Gospel Band (GAGB) = Give Away, Get Back Garms = Give Away, Receive More (but he didn't know what to do with the "s"!). It was so ironic, especially to me, that both focused on giving. [Hint, hint, wink, wink.]

- Then there was this article in my email inbox today from Lies Young Women Believe, with this line jumping out at me:
"Why on earth do I hang on to my money (make that His money) so tightly when God makes such grand promises about how He'll provide everything I need when I give cheerfully and generously to others?" (emphasis mine)
Sometimes I just have to smile when these sorts of nudgings happen and say, "Well, thank You, Lord. I guess I should wake-up and pay attention to what You're trying to teach me!" :)

I am supposedly "financially intelligent" (according to CashFlow, a money game of which I am "champion" in our family ;) ), but when it comes to spiritual intelligence in finances, I am still a "baby". God is always bringing light to things which need attention and work in my life, and I guess it's time to begin looking at my possessiveness and selfishness.

It's time to start letting loose, letting go, and learning to give. It is my goal to start investing in spiritual matters instead of wondering if I should invest in stock, instruments, cameras, etc.; to seek how God would like me to use His money (I'm just His steward and the tool) and consult Him before I use it.

I'm going to get back to tithing. And I am going to challenge myself to give not only financially, but in every area of my life.

How about you? Is God tugging at your heart, convicting you in some way? Consider this post another nudge.

Ready? Set? Give!

Lacheln!
Taylor

Thursday, May 19, 2011

How Are You Investing in Your Future Children?





It is brown and black, with shades of brown, pink, and green as it's accent colors. The cover is reminiscent of a scrapbook, with a large butterfly and several embellishments adorning the front.

The little notebook was given as a gift from my foster sister for my birthday, because she knew it was "totally me" and I absolutely love writing and journaling. She knew I'd find some meaning for it, something special for its use.

And after much contemplation, I finally discovered it's purpose.

If you open the stiff cover, you discover my artistic writing covering the lined paper, beginning with the words:

"May 1st, 2011

Dear Daughters."

(And it continues...)

"I do not know you yet. I do not know what you look like, though I imagine your features and personalities. I like to think of you, and I do pray for you.

At this time, I know not what my future holds and what God has in store. In fact, I have no idea if I will actually have daughters - flesh and blood daughters - to present with this book of lessons. Indeed, who knows if I will even marry? So though while at this writing the mystery of your father's identity, and yes, your very existence is in question, I proceed with this little book.

As you turn the pages which contain numerous penstrokes of time, may you learn and heed the lessons I share from my heart.

I desire to reveal to you the accounts of the lessons I have been taught by the Teachers of Life: namely, Experience, Advice, and Observation. I pray you will give ear to the tears I have shed (shed from the pain of my mistakes), the laughter which results from godly joy (joy from doing right), and the hope in Jesus Christ which I have found to be my constant anchor.

I look forward to meeting you someday, and I anticipate some wonderful times of fellowship and learning together in the future.

But as I gaze over the blank pages, which stare so solemnly back at me, I tremble slightly at what hard lessons are before me. Yet I know that I learn not only for myself, but for those God places in my life to be taught [to teach].

'Listen my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.' (Proverbs 1:8-9)

Until next time.

With love,
your mommy,
Taylor

P.S. You don't know how odd it is for me at 19 to be signing off as 'mommy', but that is how I shall be to you. :) -TKG, 'Mom'"

So, how are you investing in your future children? What are ways you can invest in their spiritual lives and growth today?

"May 2nd, 2011

Dear Daughters,

It awes me somewhat to consider the fact this little book will someday be transmitted to your hands. To think of it's involvement with my future and your present...that is something so wonderful and thrilling that [it] is almost overwhelming and scary..."

Lacheln!
Taylor

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What's Your Favorite Thing About Spring?

Spring is here!

YES! I am tickled pink excited about the warmth and sunshine finally invading our land!

You know, one of my favorite things about spring is MOWING LAWN! Ben just informed me as I was typing up some blog drafts that the front lawn needs to be mowed. WAHOO! (Trust me, I don't use capitals unless I'm really excited!) I love zooming around on the small red lawn tractor, enjoying the bright sunshine and dodging bugs - well, I could do without that part! Usually my mind is barraged with creative and crazy ideas, and I'll end up composing many blogs, book drafts, seminars, and songs by the time mowing season is done. :) So many times the others will look out the window and see me driving around, my mouth moving as I speak passionately to the dandelions and bees about modesty or sing a huge ballad I just wrote to the blue sky, etc. etc. :) The only thing I do not appreciate about mowing is steep ditches, flying rocks, getting stuck, and having motor problems.

So, what's your favorite thing about spring? I'm curious! Let me know in the comments.

Well, I'd better finish my computer stuff so I can get mowing! Tootles!

Lacheln!
Taylor

P.S. Remember in a previous blog I mentioned I was even looking forward to the time when bugs ran into my face as a sign of spring? Well, it has officially happened several times now, and even last night as we kids rode bike, I had a bug crash into my eye - yuck! Oh well, such is the stuff of life! :-D