This week I decided to clean out my church folder, which is mostly comprised missions trip letters and guitar music. But I found some other interesting things as well.
I wrote this testimony out for my Baptism - my second one. I was actually baptized once as a baby and a second time in high school. I think this would have been Freshman year of high school.
The beginnings of my faith, to be completely honest, don’t make a very flashy story. I was born into a Christian home, making the transition into a faith of my own as smooth as it could be. After hearing the basic gospel story from my Sunday school teacher (I was attending a much smaller church at the time), I prayed the prayer of salvation silently, alone in my bed that night. I was roughly seven years of age.
The first of spiritual opposition reared in my fourth grade year while I was attending Schaumburg Christian School. I had little to no friends, save one boy I had come to know. He had been alienated by most of the kids because he had ADHD and was sometimes hard to talk to. At this time, my family had begun attending Harvest Bible Chapel; I was thriving in the youth ministry and knew that God was calling me to be a part of this boys life, though I would be despised for it. We remained friends the rest of the year until I switched schools for fifth grade.
The transition into a new school was very difficult for me, for I spent that year simply striving for any sort of attention or figment of friendship I could. I was still in the youth ministry, but, again, I only strove for attention and recognition. My friend situation was a little better as I had finally eased comfortably into a clique, but I have always been ashamed of the years in elementary school I wasted for the sake of getting people to like me.
As I made the jump to the Harvest junior high ministry, my faith really started to be defined. Through a series of retreats, missions’ trips, and bible studies, I finally started to stir movement in my faith. I was actually benefiting from my quiet times and, believe it or not, taking friendships to a level of accountability. Because of this, a second change in churches was relatively quick and unnoticeable. Now in Highschool, I value God’s presence in my life like I have never before. I thank God for all the opportunities He has given me to better understand His word, His world, and even myself. I also thank him for the opposition and trials he places in my life, and the joy he offers; for I know that all is for His glory. Because I know I have been redeemed, I can take great peace in the love that I was offered on the cross. This love not only comforts me, but also moves me. I am often challenged by Christ’s ministry on earth to do likewise in my daily life. I wish to love and help others in the same way Christ helped me – unconditionally.
This paper was assigned to everyone on the high school worship team. You might think a non-school writing assignment would be met with groans and complaints, but we were a tight group, and this assignment spurned a great discussion at the following practice.
Funny story about Worship team. Between songs we’d chat and putter around with our instruments. We were high schoolers, so things sometimes got out of hand, and while our youth pastor Kip was trying to collect his thoughts the ruckus would get too much for him. But we noticed something about the way he yelled at us. He’d direct the scolding at me, as if I was the only one making noise. It wasn’t very harsh - just a gentle, dissapointed c’mon Alex, but sometimes when he did it I wasn’t even talking or holding my drum sticks. It became a bit of a running joke. Whenever I dropped my stick or accidentally bumped a cymbal while moving behind the drums, my fellow band mates would pretend to berate me. C’mon Alex, knock it off!
To the Christian, worship is a gift. The very fact that there can be communication with the maker of the heavens and the earth is an immense privilege that we should be continually thankful for. While it is a divine privilege, worship carries with it a responsibility. God expects every Christian to be engaged in this relationship, continually taking part in worship. Our worship should be purposeful, meek, and facilitating of an encounter with God.
The purpose and seat of worship should be distinctly defined. Worship takes place when God’s creation approaches Him and recognizes Him as the Creator. Worship takes place when the creation consciously realizes its dependence on the Creator. Richard Pratt calls this paradigm the Creator-Creation Distinction. When this paradigm is removed from worship and men begin to “worship the creation rather than the creator,” they merely “proclaim themselves to be wise and become fools” (Romans 1). The distinction must sit in the heart of every believer. We must put forth effort in maintaining this distinction, lest our spirits well up with pride and our worship is destroyed.
Our worship must spring from meekness. The believer must first realize that God does not need our worship. As Christ enters the city of Jerusalem and the apostles try to quiet the people who are worshipping Him, Christ turns to them and says “if these people did not praise, the very stones of the earth would cry out.” Christ will always be glorified. Whether God works through us or in spite of us, God will use everything to glorify Himself. Christians out not place value in their worship, for worship is intended to draw the Christian nearer to God.
Lastly, worship should not be a hindrance. While Scripture allows for different mediums for praising God (i.e., instruments, congregations, choirs), it is implied all throughout Scripture that these do not serve the purpose of merely creating an emotional environment. Instruments exist in worship to facilitate the relationship with God. Our worship should not depend on lyrics, cues, music, or, ultimately, noise. Worship takes place in the Spirit. Though worship affects all areas of our life, it should radiate from the Spirit.
Worship should be valued, maintained, and protected in the Christian’s life. With the gift of worship, every believer is ordained the responsibility therein. Worship should be clear in purpose – expressing nothing but our dependence on God. Worship should be done in meekness and in fear. Above all, worship should be occurring in the soul. It should be wedded with our faith in saving grace, carried out through our “souls gaze on a saving God” (Tozer).
This is just a packing list for a high school missions trip. I was a bit of a freak about packing for trips. Not only would I list everything out in an outlined ledger like this, but I also used to roll each t-shirt and pair of pants into little wads, securing them with a tiny piece of duct tape.
A. Red luggage bag
B. Sling bag
C. Black labeled bedroll bag (with spare)
D. White laundry bag
E. Double layered toiletries bag
A. Shirts / Coats
1. 10 Work T shirts
2. Two long sleeves
3. Sweatshirt (work and rest)
5. Sunday shirt
1. 4 Work jeans
2. 4 Shorts
3. 10 Underwear
4. Sunday slacks
1. Work boots
2. Tennis shoes
3. Flip flops
4. 13 Socks
2. Work gloves (2 pair)
III. Tools / Gear
1. Toothbrush / toothpaste
2. Soap / shampoo
3. Deodorant (stick and spray)
1. Water bottle
2. Knife (folding and pliers)
3. Duct tape
1. Bible (with case)
1. Beef jerky
2. Sunflower seeds
The rest of my church folder is pretty much guitar music. There was a short stint one summer where I led worship for the small junior high group. I had a shaky singing voice and very limited range, but I got more confident as I practiced and soon I could carry a basic worship tune.
There was one night on a missions trip where I volunteered to lead worship for the whole team. Actually I didn’t know I was leading - I thought I was just playing backup guitar for someone else, but when I showed up for sound check there was a mic waiting for me front and center. I remember we sang “Take the world but give me Jesus!”, which opens right up with a loud chorus. I missed the right note by at least six steps, so all you heard over a single guitar was my hoarse, teenage voice cracking out of taAAaake the wooOOrld, wildly off key. Everyone was very supportive. The group just patiently waited for me to circle back, and I found the right key the second time around.
I took most of my songs from Mr. Minnell, a teacher at my school who used to lead worship for our high school. He was my personal worship leader role model. His songs were simple and worshipful. He sang and played in a way that didn’t draw too much attention to himself.
This song is called Gladdening Light. Mr. Minnell told us this was adapted from the first ever recorded worship sung by the apostles of Christ.
``` Gladdening Light (Capo IV)
G C G C G Hail Gladdening Light, Son so bright, Jesus Christ, end of night. Am7 G C Am7 G C Alleluia Alleluia
Hail Gladdening Light, Eternal bright, In evening time ‘round us shine
G C Em We hymn the Father, we hymn the Son, We hymn the Spirit C D Wholly Divine G C No one more worthy of songs to be sung Em C D G C G C To the giver of life all glory is Thine.
Hail Gladdening Light, such joyous light, O brilliant star forever shine
Alleluia Alleluia ```