Category Archives: Faith

Fixed Point, Fixed Vision (Sara Hinton)

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Not long ago it became official that Robbie Hinton, former head of the Westminster School at Oak Mountain, would be leaving to take a job with an organization called the Fixed Point Foundation. Hinton had spent at least six years with the school, watching it grow, making it grow, and pouring his knowledge into students–whether they wanted it or not. Now that he is leaving, many of us may want to know what this Fixed Point Foundation really is.

The Fixed Point Foundation is an organization dedicated to the spread of the Gospel. Now this is not something unique. Every church should have this purpose, but Fixed Point spreads the Gospel in a unique way. The world believes that Christians should be pacifists, always on the defensive, but Fixed Point is on the march. Actively engaging in the secular community, fixed Point founder Larry Taunton has two books published, and multiple articles published on and other outlets. His most recent book The Faith of Christopher Hitchens is a great example of how Taunton and Fixed Point work.

Christopher Hitchens was one of the worlds most notorious atheists, actively fighting Christianity on many stages around the country; but off those stages he and Larry Taunton, who debated each other multiple times, were really good friends. Toward the end of his life, Hitchens and Taunton took two long road trips together, on which Hitchens, who knew he was about to die, seriously considered multiple religions. The book is about how Taunton and Hitchens became friends despite the great controversy between them. This is the mission of Fixed Point, to go into the secular community and engage it in a loving and life changing way.

The Blessing of Being Overwhelmed (Olivia Clement)

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In an attempt to bring comfort to someone in a difficult situation, you have most likely heard someone say, “God never gives you more than you can handle.” The more I have thought about this statement, the more I’ve realized that it is lacking.

I know from firsthand experience. God gave me more than I felt I could handle when he led me to go to New York City on a mission trip in June 2017. God knows that my response to mission trips has always been fear. I am afraid of planes, the turbulence on the planes, and even the multitude of germs in the planes! I am afraid of approaching a Tibetan Muslim I have never met before to boldly share the gospel of Christ. I am afraid of being uncomfortable.

Nevertheless, I am certain that God is telling me to go, so I am going. Not because I feel like I can easily handle it, but because he is teaching me. Naturally, in my own strength, I sometimes approach God’s plans with fear, hesitancy, or anxiety. Yet I am reminded of one of Paul’s letters in which he encourages Timothy not to be ashamed of the gospel and reminds him of the salvation and calling that God gave him. Paul states, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Tim 2:7). Like Timothy, many of us fall into a spirit of fear. In our own strength, we definitely cannot handle the challenges of life and the often uncomfortable callings God has for us. This is why I believe that God gives us more than we can handle, so that we will realize our need for the Holy Spirit to give us power, love, and self-control.

Consider ways in your own life that you are falling into a spirit of fear. When you feel like you cannot handle something, it is probably because you cannot. But you can with the Holy Spirit, who makes us strong in our weakness. In reality, God does give us overwhelming situations, but only because he wants to remind us that he will never give us more than we can handle…with Him.

Saying Goodbye (Pierce Moffett)

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The hands of the children hung on to the bars of the iron gate. They had been lining up for hours, waiting for us to finish working. Once the gate opened, everyone of them sprinted through the small opening, as if they were racing to make it to their buddy first. This was my experience the last day of my mission trip to Belize this past summer.

Every night of the past week we had hosted a VBS for these kids, building a relationship with each one. Every night we saw their smiling faces, each kid just as happy to see us as we were to see them. But after playing games and crafts with them for five days, sadly, the fun had to end. Each leader tried their hardest to make the last day the most memorable.

When our adult leaders told us it was time to go, everybody’s heart sank. We had poured our hearts into these children for days, and now we knew we might never see them again. Each leader gave their kids a last hug and took one last picture to remember them by. One of the kids I had formed a relationship with gave me a craft he had made so that I could remember him. We gave each other one last hug, and he walked off to the gate.

What America Wants in Our Next President (Abigail Mathis)

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This past August I had the opportunity to go to the Alabama RedState event, which is a gathering of many Republican supporters in one of the southern or “red” states. What made this particular event especially exciting, though, was that many of the Republican presidential candidates gave a speech. As I sat through many of the speeches, I felt I learned much about what the people at this event felt were necessary qualities in our next president. Generally, everyone cheered when the candidate spoke on how much of a conservative, pro-life, Christian Republican they were. The cheers were louder when the candidate would claim that they were best equipped to balance the budget of our country. But what I found most effective in a speech was optimism.

When a candidate would stand up on the platform and passionately speak about how America can still be fixed, the crowd would go insane. Once the possibility of greatness was brought up, the effect on the crowd was more than just the regular excitement, the energy became electric. So based on the most applause and cheers from the audience, confidence in America is the most important quality in our future president. But confidence is not just something that conservatives want in the future president, it is something that all Americans crave. Americans need something to hold onto, and the next president should be someone who can invoke confidence into this country.

Greater Than (A poem by Katie Krulak)

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Fingers fly across the keys,

     Playing a clattering staccato song,

Gazes glued to glowing screens,

     A shadows move from short to long.

Pictures scroll before our eyes,

     With lines of type below,

How different are the lives described,

     Compared to the ones we know.

Online we create an elaborate mask,

     Of what we want others to see,

But the person behind the screen,

     Is the true you and me.

Nobody’s world is perfect,

     Or completely put together,

Nor is it always easy;

     Free from life’s stormy weather.

Many have made their identity,

     Into a list of numbers,

And all these likes, retweets, and comments,

     Have given me cause to wonder.

Why do we care so much,

     About what others see us as?

Why do we treat each Internet post,

     Like a test we have to pass?

What if we stopped making,

     Our Internet selves a lie?

Perhaps our friendships would grow stronger,

     It wouldn’t hurt to try.

But in the end it doesn’t

     Matter if people like what you post,

Because your affirmation and your worth,

     Comes from the One who matters most.

Adaptation: Atrium Chapel (Jack Wilson)

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Chapel plays a very important and distinct role at Westminster. For the past four years, chapel has evolved and flourished into a new identity in the school. For the first two years, chapel was a meeting once a month to hear a talented guest speak to the school body for a short thirty minutes. As the years progressed, new additions have improved chapel’s influence. For example, the combination of the Lower School and Upper School student bodies has led to a greater surrounding of worship. The mood changes when upperclassmen have more people to be examples around.

Atrium chapel is a meeting once a week in the main area of the new Upper School building. Sometimes Mr. Hinton gives a short devotion on a passage; sometimes Mr. Knowles leads the school in worship. Personally, I have enjoyed partaking in worship with my friends in a song or listening to Mr. Hinton approach a passage with concise wisdom. Not only do I feel this way, but many other students and teachers feel the same way. After asking Mr. Knowles, he responded, “Atrium chapel has given the teachers a new way to influence the student body through worship and Scripture.” In the end, this new addition of Atrium Chapel has pushed our school closer to our end goal: to love Christ and be an example of him to others.

From Death to Life (Will Green)

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Growing up in a Christian family, I had the mentality that I had it all together. I had always known and been taught that God has a deep love for me and that he wants me to be a part of his family. However, I continued in the life I wanted and shut Christ out.

In the summer of 2007, I was a part of a Briarwood soccer camp, and my coach asked us to say a prayer alongside of him if we wanted to become a Christian. So feeling guilty, I prayed a prayer with no real affection or meaning to my relationship with God. Over the next six years of my life, I professed Christ as ruler of my life, but inside I was empty and hopeless, separated from Christ by my sin.

In the summer of 2013, I attended a Student Life camp with my church at Shocco Springs. It was at this camp that God came to me in my sin. For the first time in my life, I felt the presence of an almighty and saving God. I now have hope in Christ and strive to be more like Him in all that I do.

Paul writes in Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (ESV). If you accept Christ into your life, you are proclaiming to the world that Christ is worth more than anything this world can offer. You live your life trusting that God will provide and that he is all you will ever need.

So let us sense the urgency of eternity. Christ is coming back, and the world around us is dying. Let the Westminster family be more than just another private school; let us be light in the midst of a dark world.

History That Inspires

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At times, high school can feel endless. It seems as if all the hard work we put it will never amount to anything. There are days when we all feel one step away from giving up completely. What keeps us holding on? The answer is different for everyone. For some, it is their hobbies; for others, it may be the people they love. For me, it is stories. There is something inspiring about hearing about other people’s victories. My grandfather’s story about Waldamur Andreason is one of my favorites.

Lisa Andreasen

Lisa Andreasen outside the Waldamur farm in Nebraska

Waldamur Andreasen is my great-great grandfather. He grew up in Stege, Denmark with a loving family, but that all changed when his mother passed away. It was like a fairy tale. In a matter of months, his father had been remarried to a vicious woman. Waldamur knew his new stepmother had no warm feelings for him, but he could not have guessed the degree to which this woman would alter his life. 

That day Waldamur had been to town on an errand. When he returned home, he found his father and stepmother waiting for him in their tidy living room. His father announced that Waldamur would be moving to America with their neighbors the Jacobsens. The young boy was horrified. He was only sixteen; how could he be expected to make a life for himself alone in another country? He started to plead with his fat, but was stopped by his stern response, “It has already been decided, son. You leave in the morning.” When he saw his stepmother’s smug smile, Waldamur knew that he had been defeated.

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Waldamur Andreasen’s original immigration papers

A month later, Waldamur arrived in New York City with the Jacobsen family. The plan was for him to remain in the city while the Jacobsens would be traveling to Nebraska to start a family farm. The idea of being on his own had ceased to frighten Waldamur, but now he was afraid of something else–losing Lisa Jacobsen.

During the trip, the two had developed strong feelings for one another; so much so that Waldamurhad promised to marry Lisa one day. Now, that seemed unlikely, if not impossible. But just before the family left, Waldamur once again promised to find Lisa as soon as he made enough money for a farm.

After a year of struggling to survive in the big city, Waldamur went to Nebraska. There he was able to acquire a farm and fulfill his promise to Lisa. But their troubles were not yet over. Their lives continued to be filled with struggle and hardship. But they persevered, and because of their hard work the Andreasen family would thrive for many generations after them.

In Philippians 3:14 Paul writes, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Stories like Waldamur’s inspire me to follow Paul’s example. As far as I know, Waldamur was not a Christian, but his story of hope still points me back to Christ and inspires me to press on. 

How much do you know about past generations in your family? Who are the people responsible for bringing you to your current place in life? Consider looking it up. The stories you uncover may be just what you need to keep going. 

Minutes Matter: The Importance of Atrium Chapel

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Throughout my years in the Upper School, a lot has changed. I have seen teachers come and go. I have experienced what it was like to be the youngest and now the oldest among all grades. I have gone from modular classrooms to a beautifully designed, spacious building. Before the move to our current building, one tradition I always loved was the monthly Upper School chapel.

These days the logistics of over a hundred students crossing Cahaba Valley Trace has made having our traditional chapels more difficult. However, we now have what are called “atrium chapels.” As the name suggests, these occur in the atrium. They are held every Wednesday at the very beginning of tutorial and consist of a prayer, song of worship, reading from Scripture, or brief message of encouragement. But not everyone sees the value in this.

Because these chapels are very short compared to what we have done in the past, many wonder if it is even worth having them. Are we simply wasting study time just to stand in the atrium for a few minutes to sing a song?

Adapting to change over the years has allowed me to realize what is truly important in life. My answer to the question concerning atrium chapels would be this: While the time is brief, the fruit can still be abundant. If it is our aim to cultivate a love for truth, beauty, and goodness to flourish, how can we not spend time listening to the Word of our creator?

Hebrews 10:24-25 states, “Let us consider how to stir one another to love and good works not neglecting to meet together…” This verse should push us to take a step back and realize why we are having these chapels. They are an act of praise, worship, and admiration of our King. As a school with a foundation of faith, we must realize the responsibility we have to cultivate an environment where our faith can thrive.

The mere fact that these chapels are only a few minutes should not take away from their significance. 2 Peter 3:8 states,”But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” The potential issue of time that we see is not a concern to the Lord. His concern is for our hearts, and by spending time in prayer and worship, we are able to remember what is truly important.

My hope is that these chapels will no longer be seen as a waste of time. My prayer is that they would allow us to be known as a school that enjoys praising God, even if just for a few minutes.

-Olivia Godfrey (Class of 2016)