Monthly Archives: October 2013

Out of Control: How Cultural Values Encourage Unbelief

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by Josh Moore, Class of 2014

In modern culture, the existence of God has become quite controversial. Many deny the existence of God, and instead accept the implausible existence of evolution or aliens. Why does today’s society so reject the concept of a higher power?

One major emphasis in today’s society is the concept of control. People enjoy “controlling” their own lives, enjoying the feeling that they can do as they want without the help or guidance of anyone else. This selfish desire for control shows up in all stages of life, from a two year old demanding that he can do everything by himself, to an elderly woman insisting she can drive, despite the fact that she failed the drivers test. Society has reared multiple generations who believe that they can successful control their own lives.

The concept of God threatens this desire for control. If there is a being who is not only more powerful than humankind, but created man for his own purpose, that means control of every life should be in His hands. Since He is supposedly the creator of all, everything, including personal ambitions, belongs to him. Therefore, humans should have no control over their own lives. Evolution, or even aliens, provides a much more comfortable explanation, because control is still personal. Why then should anyone believe in God, if they can instead reject Him and keep the feeling of control?

Ultimately in today’s society, comfort is valued over reason. This is why explanations for creation such as evolution and aliens hold prevalence, even though they seem absurd to a logical person. Truth has become relative; whatever feels best and is most comfortable must be right. The concept of God is not comfortable or pleasurable, therefore God must not exist. The entire point of Christianity is relinquishing control to God and following his plan and call. Furthermore, Christ says in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in Heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12).” The history of Christianity, as well as many other religions, is not one of worldly comfort and pleasure, but instead one of intense persecution. This concept threatens society’s emphasis on comfort and frightens many people today. But instead of recognizing the truth, they instead turn to foolishness.

Comfort and control have become the gods of today’s society. American culture centers on giving people whatever they want and letting them do whatever they want. This is why entertainment businesses succeed so well. Television, movies, books, video games, and all other forms of entertainment pull people into another world, which is much more controllable and comfortable than reality. The desire for control and comfort that runs modern culture is not necessarily a verbal objection to God; instead it is a major cause of all other vocalized objections. People aren’t willing to voice their fear of losing control and comfort, so they develop other means of rejecting anything that threatens them. Society has been blinded, and it will take the work of God to make them see.

Prayer: Laying the Foundation

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by Ethan Shaw, Class of 2015

Our Westminster community is extremely blessed. Over the past year we have witnessed a vision unfold for a new Upper School campus followed by a successful capital campaign in the spring of this year. In recent weeks we broke ground together, and now everyone anxiously watches as construction begins. Looking back on the journey thus far, it is hard to deny the evidence of God’s favor in the midst of all the obstacles that had to be overcome. The dream is finally becoming a reality. But now what?

cinderblock01Many will view this next year as a period of waiting, a blank page between two chapters in the book of Westminster. This certainly in many ways is a time of transition. Still, we must not be lured into setting our focus solely on the hope of the coming years. Doing so will let us miss the work that God is doing in our midst right now. As the new campus is being built, God is likewise building faith in us to trust His plans. That is the most important object of all. Truly this is a pivotal year. God is calling us to a higher standard of sincerity in our pursuit of wisdom, virtue, and eloquence.

In response to this call, a group of Upper School students has started to come together for weekly lunchtime prayer gatherings. Such meetings have been going on in some form for the past two years. This year, however, the design is to create an environment open to everyone yet also centered on developing a devoted group of students to join with faculty in prayer for our school community.

Jack Stein, a Westminster junior who has been involved from the group’s inception, shares his opinion that “it’s good to take time to pray and glorify God with what we’re given.” He especially appreciates the openness of the group in its variety of prayer topics as well as its inclusivity. Stein remarks that he particularly enjoys the fellowship time at the start of the prayer meetings and that he is excited to see more students join in.

Sophomore Rebecca Thompson is also impressed by the diversity of prayer topics while maintaining a focus on the school community. She particularly likes how the meetings are usually opened up with a short Scripture reading. Thompson remarks that “it’s important to make sure throughout the week to keep the right focus.” She envisions the group as a place where prayer requests can be safely shared and where students can come together to pray for each other.

Altogether, there is something quite special about a Christian school that takes its faith seriously. Twentieth century evangelist T. M. Anderson writes that “the measure of our faith and the fervency of our prayers Praying_Hands_freecomputerdesktopwallpaper_1600determine the effectiveness of our labors for Christ.” The Lord invites us to embrace faith and prayer hand-in-hand as catalysts for spiritual transformation. Simple lunchtime prayer gatherings are just one way of doing this, but we can never underestimate what God will do. We are right to thank Him for his faithfulness in providing a new campus, but now we must call on Him to continue renewing our hearts.

Student-led prayer meetings are being regularly held on Mondays during lunch in the C-Wing. Meetings are typically held in Mr. Burgess’s classroom, but the specific location may vary and will be announced each week. All Upper School students interested, middle-schoolers and high- schoolers alike, are invited to attend. Students are free to come early for fellowship time; prayer officially starts at 12:30 and lasts through the end of lunch. Please feel free to contact senior Josh Moore at or junior Ethan Shaw at with any questions.

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Learning to Write in Community

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By Joey Gissendaner, Class of 2014

It has been one of the paramount goals of Westminster to equip its students with eloquence for the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom. From the first class one takes to the last, students learn the importance of the relationship between thought and word. Though this relationship is stressed in every class and in every subject, it can be seen most clearly in the way Westminster teaches its students to write. In the seventh and eighth grades, students begin to write essays and short stories under the auspices of Mr. Wortman, the middle school grammar teacher. His class is geared to help students learn how to form educated opinions about a text and create a argument on a given topic.

However, the most unique part about the writing process taught at Westminster is the importance of peer review. Once a student has written his rough draft of an essay or short story, he submits it to his friends and classmates for scrutiny and revision. Though this process may sound unpleasant, it is crucial to the integrity and quality of one’s work. Each reader will view the piece in a different way and potentially notice different errors or different strong points. The more readers one presents his work to, the stronger and more sound the piece will be. Each peer review time is an opportunity for one to show Christian love for his classmates through his comments. And this is the way each peer review must approached, in Christian love for the author and respect for his work.

Proverbs 27:17 states, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” This is truly the reason for peer review. It is not only to improve one’s writing, but also one’s character. Through the refining fire of criticism, we hone one another’s individual talents and abilities. We learn to accept the fact that we are not perfect, but we may improve together. Westminster allows its students to practice what they are taught in their Bible classes and in church, namely that we must show grace and help each other along the path to improvement. Peer review is not just a part of the writing process, it is a way of improving one’s relationship with both God and man.

“The Last Morning”

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By Katie Brooks Boone, Class of 2014

All’s quiet in the place of perfect peace,
Fresh dew atop the sunflower faces-
The drops like diamonds shimmer in the light.​
Young beams of light peer through the tow’ring trees.
Birds sing sweet melody as morning dawns.
Nature sings hallelujah to His name
The mother of mankind stirs to the dawn,
Perfect in beauty she lays in soft grass.
Parents of mankind, perfect harmony.
Hand in hand, touching innocence they go,
Unaware deception lurks in hiding.

“Jack and Jill: A Fairytale Revisited”

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by Patrick McGucken, Class of 2015

Inscribed here is the tale of the heroes of Reinveydan. Known well across the kingdom from the capital of Fraillia to the distant coastal cities of Isla. As popular as the epic is, many men and women do not know of its origins. It all began with four downtrodden kingsmen being chased out of Fraillia. After not preventing a cataclysmic fall, they were chased out by a ferocious mob. The four brothers rode for many days, looking for a safe place to rest. The men were exhausted, delirious, and sick. Hope evaded them much like the three pigs that eluded the hungry wolf. In time, they came across the ruins of a small town. The town was destroyed, and all the buildings were burned to the ground. The smell of sulfur wafted throughout the ruins, filling the men’s lungs with ashes. The men coughed and wheezed as they tried to regain their sight. Desperately, they searched for food and water; the four men came across a lone river. Beside the river, gleamed a beautiful golden statue. This statue towered over the village and stood alone amongst the remnants of the village. On the base of the statue, there was a plaque that shared the legend of Reinveydan. The four kingsmen wrote this legend into an epic and began singing it across the kingdom. Their fame grew exponentially and they were eventually welcomed back to their home city. Here lies the only remaining manuscript of the legend passed down throughout the generations of the four brothers’ family.

In memory of the four kings men, this story offers both a glance at salvation and the sacrifice it requires.

The drums roll, the curtains rise,
Enter the land where the rain has died.
The kingdom of Fraillia is trapped in a drought,
Cursed by a god, they cannot get out.

In the town of Reinveydan, two heroes arise,
Ready to save or meet their demise.
The boy was strong and very fit,
And immense fame, he wanted to get.

The twin sister was beautiful and bright,
But do not be fooled because she could fight.
Riches and power were their dream,
Together they formed a formidable team.

They packed up their gear and left with a hurry,
Into the wrath of the Sun God’s Fury.
A towering mountain, where beasts do meet,
Lay the only river that was yet to deplete.

In a lonely cave, the river flowed,
Guarded by a fierce monster, that devours its foes.
The two heroes quickly the mountain did scale,
Carrying only a magic pail.

A pack of wolves was on their heels,
Tragically, one was about to become a meal.
Around the path, all they could hear,
Were the piercing howls that filled them with fear.

The brother shook, the sister screamed,
The sun set down beneath the ravine.
The darkness filled the empty sky,
The siblings needed a place to hide.

The wolves got faster, ready to bite,
The little sister was filled with fright.
A ledge awaited sitting up high,
The duo knew they had to jump through the sky.

The twins awaited  to test their fate,
Little did they know that for, the brother, it was too late.
The brother jumped onto soft ground,
He slipped and fell and broke his crown.

His sister was dazed wondering how this could be,
But remembered what her brother said, “continue for me.”
The journey was vigorous, but her mind was made,
She entered the cave where the creature stayed.

Hiding in the dark, she waited for her chance,
She ran the beast through with a fallen warrior’s lance.
She filled the pail with the magic water,
And headed down the mountain with a trodder.

She came across her brother’s grave to pay respect,
While she cried, the sun god plotted what was next.
The sun quickly rose, brighter than ever,
Blinding the sister, which was very clever.

The magic pail slipped from her hand,
And unfortunately emptied itself upon dry land.
The sister with nowhere left to turn, jumped from the ledge,
Joining her brother now that she had fulfilled her pledge.

Little did she know where the water landed,
Grew a river, that quickly expanded.
It spread out its banks and rushed to our land
And freely refreshes each woman and man.

So here lies a statue that may cause a tear
But we honor our heroes who walked without fear
We honor the twins who went up the hill,
Our town’s greatest patrons, the great Jack and Jill.

“A Long Hard Road”

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by Daniel Richardson, Class of 2015

“Jeeerrreeemmmiiaaahhhh!!!” The little girl called, giggling from her hiding place inside the large metal slide. She wore a lacey green dress, slightly smudged with dirt, a yellow bow pinned in her light brown hair as she waited to be found. In the distance the rhythmic clang of the church bell echoed through the rural town of New Faith, beckoning the city towards the white steeple. The boy seemed not to hear it or at least pretended not to; instead he continued his search around the deserted playground as the warm summer sun beaded sweat against his brow. The sweet sound of soft laughter soon led him to the red slide, the excitement evident on his youthful face as he slid down to where his friend crouched.

“Found you! Now come on, we are going to be late for the service,” he stated his tone was calm, but she could detect the small trace of anxiety rising in his voice as he pictured the red face and angry shouts of his father.

“No,” she replied hesitantly, like the workings of her nine-year-old mind were at war with themselves. “Let’s just stay here for a while, Jeremiah… I don’t want to go to church today.”

“What do you mean ‘no ?’ Mrs. Aniston will throw a fit if you don’t show up for Sunday school again!”

She stared at him, her hazel eyes picking past his defenses, searching for some hidden clue or sign. Slowly her lips began to form a question, one that would take him by surprise and haunt him for the remainder of his days. Samantha had a way of doing that, making him wonder sometimes if she was older than she said she was; he guessed in some ways they both were.

“Do you love me, Jeremiah?” She did not blink but Jeremiah could feel the hope in her voice. In that moment it felt as if their roles had been swapped, that she was older and he younger, caught for once in a loss of words.

“Samantha…” he started, having no idea where he might end. He had never thought about her romantically. Of course she had always been a friend to him, a rare one at that; he never had many friends. Even the adults looked down on him with disdain, calling him “The murderer’s brat” when they thought he wasn’t listening. But Samantha had always been like a sister to him, and she was so young, and so very naive. The dozen answers which had formed at the top of his mind all fell away as he looked again at her innocent face.

“Yes, Samantha, I do love you,” he whispered, and as the words rolled off his lips he knew they were true. So they had remained throughout the rest of his life.

Slowly the scene faded before his aging eyes. The shiny red slide darkened, and the paint transformed into dull brown rust. The rest of the playground followed suit. The wood began to decay and in some places disappear completely while the hot summer sun gave way to a dreary November sky. Jeremiah stood there with one hand clutching the inside of his jacket, the other resting on an old wooden cane. It had been nearly eighty years since he had spoken those words. Eighty long years, filled with regret and sorrow. He had always been a coward no matter what he may have once believed, and he had proven it when he ran away at seventeen. He had known they would be coming for him, coming to rip him from his home and lock him away in some prison cell to await the hangman’s noose. And so he fled, leaving Samantha and all he knew behind in his rush to escape. To his credit, after two years of running he had returned for her, waiting until the safety of night before climbing up and knocking on her window.

“Do you love me, Jeremiah?” she had asked, brown hair flickering in the cool breeze. Her face was tinted red as if she had been crying; but no matter how many times he had told her, told her that he loved her and that she was the shining light in his dark world, she had refused to leave with him. “They will understand. You don’t have to run anymore, Jeremiah. It’s been two years.” But he knew they wouldn’t understand. Instead they would leave him as lifeless as the man he had killed. Samantha has always been so innocent, how could she ever understand what he’d done? Her words only angered him, and he left in a fit of emotion. He swore as he cried himself to sleep that night that he would never love again, that love was for the weak and would only lead to sorrow.

Regardless of this, he had always meant to return, to run back to her and fall to her feet; but then the war began. That god-awful war which brought in boys with promises of glory and returned them home in body bags. He had not set foot in the town of New Faith since that night; and it was here now that he stood, in front of the crumbling ruin of the old school playground.

“Mr. Reed?” the voice of a young man came from behind him, forcing him out of the dark cloud of nostalgia and back onto the solid ground of reality.

“Yes, that’s me,” Jeremiah answered, turning to face the man “Do I know you?” He was young, in his late twenties if Jeremiah had to guess. He was dressed in khaki slacks, a white oxford with a blue tie, and a long black trench coat that was splattered with little drops of water, as if it had rained on his walk here. In one hand he held a brown leather briefcase that looked like it may have been as old as he was.

“I’m Samantha Grange’s grandson, Anthony Grange; I received your letter in the…”

“I’m sorry boy; I’m afraid I don’t know a Samantha Grange,” Jeremiah interrupted him, his face turning to stone as he slowly put in place the pieces of the puzzle.

“Sorry, you would have known her by her maiden name, Ashton. Samantha Ashton.”

So she had gotten married then. He should have assumed as much. It wasn’t like she had been expected to wait for him. Still the news came as something of a shock, like when one dives into a pool, only to find out the water is cold.

“I see. Could you take me to your grandmother then, son? I’m an old friend, and I’d like to see her one last time.” The area was quiet and for the most part peaceful besides the distant murmur of car engines from the town center. It was only the two of them standing there, but still Jeremiah’s question seemed to hang in the air for eternity before being answered.

Anthony was at a loss of words, finally with something of a sigh he responded. “Sir, my grandmother died two months ago.”

The sentence hit him like a bullet. Samantha was dead. His Samantha was dead.

“It was cancer that killed her in the end. I received your letter last week. I’m living out of her old house now you see, and so I have come to meet you, and give you this,” he finished, lifting up the old briefcase.

The warmth left Jeremiah’s shaking hand as he reached out to take the case from Anthony.

“She talked about you a lot, especially after my grandfather died. She told me she had never forgotten you and always meant to see you again one day. These are the things she left for

you if you should ever come back.” With those words he turned to leave, his black trench coat fluttering in the wind.

“Where is she buried?” Jeremiah called out after him, his face beginning to contort as he desperately tried to hold back the tears.

“In the old church’s graveyard,” Anthony replied, seeming anxious to depart. “Is it true what they say? That you killed a man?” he asked, and after a few moments of uncomfortable silence started back down the gravel road.

Jeremiah stood there and watched him for a solid minute, his weary mind again beginning to fog with bleak clouds of old memories. Almost angrily he put them aside and looked at the briefcase he held before him. On the front, scrawled into the battered leather a single word could be made out, and in his mind he heard her childhood voice calling out to him.


Solemnly his anger instantly fell away, and with a tear in his eye he began to hobble down the road towards the old white church. In the distance the rhythmic clang of the church bell echoed through the bustling city of New Faith, beckoning all who could hear towards the white steeple. After some time the crumbling brick and rotting beams of the building came into view.

The church in his childhood had been the gem of the town, a beautiful building with a crisp green lawn and glittering stain glass windows. In recent times, however, it seemed to have fallen to the wayside, and stood now in a state of forgotten disrepair. To its right a vast graveyard stretched down a sloping hill, shaded from the dull sun by the yellow leaves of a giant oak. A handful of cars were parked outside the church, some of them so ancient they could be

considered collectors’ items. Seeing them here he vaguely recalled it was Sunday. The fools of the world would be attending their churches, where they would be promised happiness and prosperity. They were all clueless; life was nothing more than a meaningless pit of torment. If there was a God, then he was cruel and merciless. Jeremiah’s faith had long since died with his father, and now it seemed that vengeance was being wrought upon him for it. Samantha was dead. His Samantha was dead.

Desperately he wandered the graves, searching for the final resting place of the only person he had ever truly loved. His heart ached as nearly every grave he stumbled upon bore the name of someone he once knew. Through the cracked church windows the pastor’s fiery sermon could be heard across the valley.

“Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil which he toils under the sun?”

Jeremiah grimaced as he heard the words; he found irony in the fact that he and the preacher seemed to agree. Life was worthless. Presently his eyes landed upon a patch of fresh dirt under the broad sweeping branches of the old oak tree. In front of the dirt a simple white tombstone rested, a stark contrast to the elaborate graves which surrounded it. Almost timidly Jeremiah approached the grave, fearing what he might see.

Samantha Ashton Grange Born June 5, 1919

Died September 17, 2012
May she always live in our Hearts

Jeremiah fell to his knees as his body began to shake uncontrollably. His old limbs seemed to fail him, forcing him down into the soft dirt. Clumsily he wrestled with the brass clasp on the old leather briefcase, the memory of Samantha’s soft voice coursing through his head.


His breathing had increased and he was panting by the time the latch finally opened, revealing the long awaited contents of the case. The last things that Samantha had intended him to see before she had died, one final message from beyond the grave. Inside, a crinkled yellow piece of paper sat atop a small book. Two items. That was all. He reached down and slowly withdrew them both. The book was a Bible and an old one at that, the simple design of a cross etched onto the front cover. Carefully, he opened it to the front page, only to find it dedicated to Samantha Ashton on the occasion of her baptism. Had she really bought into this stuff? He quietly set it to the side and reached down for the note. A single sentence was written, inscribed in her elegant handwriting the he still recognized to this day.

“Do you love me, Jeremiah?”

Kneeling under the shade of the great oak tree tears began to fall uncontrollably from his eyes. “Yes…” he whispered, struggling to form the word. “Yes, Samantha, yes I do love you!” As he sat there weeping, all the failures and struggles of his life invaded his heart and mind. Why had all this happened to him? Did God hate him? Jeremiah could not blame him if he did. He was a failure, a coward… a murderer. Life had long since been his torture chamber.

Weary and broken he stared yet again at the yellow sheet of paper, Samantha’s last question would be forever unanswered and he despised himself because of it. He flipped it over in his hand, unable to stare at the beautiful words any longer, only to find yet another sentence written on the back. His heart skipped a beat as he continued to read.

“Then love God for he is the one who made me, and though you may not believe it, he loves you in return.”

Trembling Jeremiah rose to his feet, his weight supported by the old wooden cane. His weary eyes wandered to the white cross atop the ancient steeple. “You never really give up do you?” He thought, groaning as he reached down and lifted Samantha’s Bible from where it sat in the dirt. Through the broken windows of the church you could still hear the powerful voice of the preacher echoing across the valley.

“Let us conclude today’s message with John 3:16, ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. Amen…”

Silently, his face contorted with emotion Jeremiah hobbled up towards the white church building, Samantha’s final words on his mind.

Growing Strength with Westminster Athletics

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By Jack Stein, Class of 2015

Over the past few years, Westminster has seen tremendous growth in the athletic arena. Going from a small 1A school that is fairly competitive, but only in its category, to a 1A school that holds its own with schools of all sizes, the Westminster athletes and coaches have shown a strong desire to excel athletically. However, without a home gym, soccer field, track, or weight room, progress has been hard to come by. The athletes have poured out all they have, but the facilities have not always been there to support them. This past summer, that changed.

Following through with its promise to aid the athletes in any way possible, Westminster added a summer strength and conditioning program for interested athletes — the intent being to give athletes proper weight training to compete at the highest level. Coach Butler, the men’s varsity basketball coach, set up the five-days-a-week program to reach optimal fitness and power before teams begin competing this fall. The first year program left no doubts in anyones’ mind that it would not take long for the idea of serious training to take root among Westminster athletes. The participation was incredible, with about 45 athletes attending regularly.

Junior athlete Jacob Welch said, “It’s a step toward a weight room, and a great way to improve and stay active during the summer.” Welch says he is excited about the possibilities that are opening up because of this program. He thinks the best way to glorify God is by being the very best athlete he can be.

Obviously, Westminster is a school dedicated to representing Christ well by its performance on the field, and this program was a huge step in reaching the maximum potential for the athletes. To reach the largest possible platform to glorify the Lord, the best possible facilities and greatest possible efforts must be provided; and this is exactly what Westminster started to accomplish this summer.

The Fifth Man: Team Dynamics in Cross Country

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By Carter Lemons, Class of 2015

Cross country is considered by many to be an individual’s sport. However, it is scored in such a way that the top five runners from each team receive a number of points equivalent to their position in the race. The winner gets one point, the second place runner receives two points, and so on. Like golf, the team with the fewest points wins. This unique system of scoring makes cross country arguably the most team oriented sport in the world. With other sports, a team with one or two superstars can win championships. Take, for example, Auburn’s 2010 football team. Without Cam Newton, there would have been no championship. The fifth man is what makes cross country different. A team with the four fastest runners in the nation may never win a meet if its fifth man does not perform. If the top four runners do not build up, challenge, and encourage that fifth runner, the cross country team as a whole will fail every time.