Introduction: Jennifer Wilkinson


(Jennifer Wilkinson) #1

Greetings from Wisconsin! I am a violin and piano teacher. I was blessed to be born into a Christian family. In fact, my mom was saved soon before I was born so she was on fire for the Lord and committed to raising my sisters and me to love God.

I became interested in apologetics while studying music at a secular university. That was many years ago, but music and apologetics continue to be passions of my heart. RZIM has helped me worship God better as I’ve grown to see the differences in religions and the unique way in which Christ answers the longings of our hearts.

I love children’s ministry, and I’d like to develop apologetics material for parents and Sunday school teachers to use as they raise the next generation. However, I’m sensing God may also want me to expand in other areas. My wise mom told me recently that children’s ministry is my safe zone–I shouldn’t stay there all the time.

I thank God for this community. I know He will use you to sharpen me and help me grow closer to Him.

(SeanO) #2

@Jennifer_Wilkinson Welcome to Connect! Praise God for your desire to help kids to learn how God’s truth answers the deepest longing of their hearts - may Christ bless you with wisdom and opportunity. Look forward to hearing from you out on the forums.

(Omar Rushlive Lozada Arellano) #3

Hello @Jennifer_Wilkinson. I’m happy to hear that the Lord used RZIM to help you worship Him better. Just got curious what’s your favorite violin and piano piece? I play the piano as well, but I’m not that good. Looking forward to learn with you in the discussions. Welcome to Connect! :slight_smile:

(Ethan Thomas) #4

Welcome Jennifer! Glad to have you here, and I look forward to getting to know you better!

(Melvin Greene) #5

Hi @Jennifer_Wilkinson. Welcome to Connect. I had great Christian parents, too. They are truly an amazing blessing. I thank God for mine all the time. Although, I have to admit that I rebelled in my teen years and didn’t come to Christ until my late twenties. It’s great to meet you, and I hope you’re as blessed as I am to be a part of this community.

(Carson Weitnauer) #6

Hi @Jennifer_Wilkinson, welcome to Connect!

I think there is a beautiful connection between music and life - and apologetics. I am also grateful to hear of your heart for children. There does seem to be a shortage of excellent apologetic materials for the next generation. May God give you wisdom as you pursue his heart for your life! I would love for Connect to be a place where we grow together in serving others - that we would sharpen you, and you would sharpen us.

(Jennifer Wilkinson) #7

Thank you, everyone, for your warm welcome to the forum. I’m enjoying the fellowship and encouragement I’ve already found here.

@omnarchy, naming a favorite violin and piano piece might be impossible. For violin I’d have to say Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin. On piano I really can’t choose. Concerning your comment that you’re not that good at piano, don’t sell yourself short. We all feel “not that good” when we compare ourselves to others who are better. God has been reminding me lately that I can’t keep telling myself I’m not gifted in music just because I know people with more talent than I have. He gave me a gift, and I need to use it for Him. Keep using your piano to worship God – it’s His gift to you.

(Phil S Kvasnica) #8

Jennifer, maybe you can use your teaching ability for the apologetics, and accompany it with music, kind of like Ken Medema does, even though he isn’t an apologist, just a phenomenal blind Christian musician. Here at our university, (K-State), there is a lady, whose husband is the director of the university performing arts center, and she uses music and words to help kids with autism “get out of their shell.” If she can do that with music, I’m sure you can figure out some way, with your thinking mind and the Holy Spirit, to benefit people as only you can with your passions and talents. Like they say, music is a language which everyone can understand and enjoy. I myself play the piano, and I used to play for church, but that has been replaced with somewhat of a discernment of “quality” praise and worship music, as I have been to so many different churches, with so many kinds of music, some of which are quite generic.

(Jennifer Wilkinson) #9

@pskvasni, I’m not familiar with Ken Medema. I’ll have to listen to some of his music. It’s too bad your piano playing in church is limited by the style of music. I feel very blessed that the church I started attending a year ago is now adding in more hymns so that my sisters and I can use our music in the worship service. (I never learned how to play praise band style.) Our pastor has a wonderful heart for finding ways for everyone to use their gifts.

(Laura Prime) #10

Hi Jennifer, thanks for your bio. I’d be interested to hear about how being a Christian has shaped your time as a musician, and vice versa. I’m a musician myself and would be great to hear about any experience you have! Thanks.

(Jennifer Wilkinson) #11

I’m so glad you joined this forum, @lauragrace73! What kind of music do you do? Instrumental? Vocal? Pop? Classical? I want to put some thought into my response about what has shaped me as a Christian and musician, so I’m not going to attempt a response tonight. Maybe tomorrow evening. :musical_note:

(Laura Prime) #12

Hi Jennifer! Thanks, I’m glad you’re here too.

In response to your question: Well, it’s a long story. Lots (!) yet much less now. I’ve grown up playing the clarinet, and so being exposed to a more classical repertoire. I have also sung in choirs growing up. Just before going to university I had saxophone lessons and joined a Big Band. At university I studied classical music in lectures, composed in more contemporary classical styles, sang all sorts of choral music from sacred to pop, played Big Band jazz on my saxophone, played keys in a low key rock band for a short time, played in musical pit bands.

Since graduating, sadly my involvement with music has plummeted as I’ve moved into work. I was a music teacher for a little while so I got to keep my basic singing and instrumental skills going. But in all honesty, since moving into christian work I’ve struggled to keep up and I’m not as good any more. I sing in a choir here perform regularly in Oxford, and I play clarinet and sing in church. I’m starting to take on more responsibility with music there. I’m beginning to branch into writing my own songs and working with others on this, but very much a beginner! My music listening and playing has pretty much reduced down to Christian worship songs. :frowning:

It is one of my biggest regrets that I am not playing anywhere near as much as I used to, nor as well. Since graduating I’ve been struck by how little my “Christian” and my “music” worlds overlapped, and it seems like the more I give to “Christian” work, the less music I get to do. This is one of the reasons why I want to help other musicians see how beautifully the two weave together, or even how our music is born out of our faith!
But I’m also trying to figure out how that works for me too. Hence why I’m here :slight_smile:

Would love to hear more about your experience.

(Jennifer Wilkinson) #13

Wow, @lauragrace73! Your experience in music is much more diverse than mine. I can’t wait to hear you thoughts on some of what I’m contemplating.

My first thought about how my Christianity has influence my music is that I don’t believe all music is equal. Many people in the arts believe you can’t be judgmental. Music is self-expression. Who am I to say that my kind of music is better than theirs? If I say that, I’m demeaning their self-expression.

But I think of what Ravi Zacharias said in Can Man Live Without God? about the three levels of philosophy–logic, the arts, and table talk: “If one is to come to a correct conclusion when debating any issue I propose we must abide by a rule, and that is this: Argue at level one, illustrate at level two, and apply at level three.”

Since music grows out of and reflects the philosophy of its day, it isn’t neutral. As a Christian, I’m more committed to understanding the values behind the music and promoting good music. I want to find more ways to help people engage with the message of music and maybe even evaluate the truth claims of the philosophies lurking behind the notes.

The ugliness of some music is a perfect illustration of what happens when a culture rejects God.

Does this answer your question, Laura Grace, or am I on the wrong track? I have many other thoughts about the intersections of faith and music, but I’ll keep this short for now, and maybe we can keep the dialogue going.

(Laura Prime) #14

Hi @Jennifer_Wilkinson, thanks for the response and sorry for the slow reply myself!

Interesting, I’ve never thought about music in this way before. I guess I have assumed all music is “equal” in the sense that all people are and so are their opinions. That doesn’t mean I agree with them all. I also agree with you that music isn’t neutral - it is directly influenced by what has come before (whether developing it or rejecting it outright) and is part of the tapestry we call our culture, and often acts like a speakerphone.

How would you define “good music”? what denotes its quality? Do you think certain styles are “better” than others?

(Jennifer Wilkinson) #15

@lauragrace73, don’t apologize for a slow reply. I’m not keeping up with things on this forum, but church was canceled today due to another snow and ice storm, so maybe I can catch up. I’ll give your question some thought and hopefully answer by the end of the day.

(Jennifer Wilkinson) #17

Great questions, @lauragrace73! I think some styles are better suited to certain purposes than other styles are. The Hallelujah Chorus is more complex and better as art music than a basic hymn tune, but the hymn tune is better for congregational singing.

Your original question about how my Christian faith has shaped my time as a musician inspired me to start the topic Secular Music that Glorifies God. Because of my faith, I’m passionate about sharing worldview concepts with people, and I’m convinced classical music communicates those concepts in a deeply emotional and engaging way. My faith inspires me to continue my career in classical music even during the tough times.

But that leads to my questions about popular music. If popular music styles are just as good at capturing the worldview from which they come, should we be more careful about what we listen to? But if most popular music is neutral in respect to worldview, is classical music “better” as an illustration of worldview concepts?

I started a topic to raise those questions because I didn’t want to bury them here under my introduction of myself.

I’m also wondering if beauty is objective, and I’ll probably start a topic about that soon. I just haven’t had time to form the question well. I read in A Theology of Art in 2 Minutes, “Beauty is not merely in the eye of the beholders—us—but in the eye of the Beholder.” God created beauty. Did Satan corrupt it? Are some things truly beautiful and others truly ugly?

I believe in objective beauty because I believe beauty is rooted in the nature of God. But I don’t know how to define what is good and beautiful. I can’t find an objective way to measure it.

(Billie Corbett) #18

Welcome Jennifer,

What a blessing to be skilled (gifted) at both violin and piano! Both incredibly difficult instrumenta to master well.

I am glad to hear you love apologetics, too.
It definitely is a challenging area to apply oneself to.

I love music.
As an adult, I took up piano.
(I thought I might pursue it seriously…because I had natural ability … but, God had other plans for me.)

Music is not a calling for me…
But, it has certainly been is a means of growth and edification …
My musical gifts and abilities have been used of God to challenge me to risk leaving my comfort zone.

With music, (generally speaking) others (non musical people) get to be blessed by those who are musical. So while musicality may be a “soft” or “quiet” gift…it carries incredible invisible power to touch the unseen parts of people’s inner being.

Being a musician in the truest sense, has to be a calling…because it takes takes so much time and dedication to play well. Plus, to begin with, learning and practise requires solitude. It’s a very solitary activity…until your skill level is proficient enough to combine your talent with someone else’s talent. But, wow…then, the energy and joy grows exponentially.

In my mind it is so important to start children in music early in their childhood. If they have the desire and passion for music…they are in a stage in life where they can devote the time needed, to become proficient early in their lives.

Good on you for the musical gifts you have been able to cultivate in children, teens and adults! It really is an amazing ability to bring joy to people … through music.

When I was young and far from God, He used music…(particularly songs)…to speak to my soul. I often found meaningful truth in words set to beautiful music. Other’s reality and experiences penned in a song would flow easily into my heart…past all the barriers and defenses. Of course, most of these songs didn’t contain were “saving truths”…but, what was true…would resonant with me…
Orchestrated music, vocalized music…provide a sound track to our lives. I don’t think there is anyone in this modern era who wouldn’t be able to track loved pieces of music…all the way back to their early childhood.


(Charles G. Pewee) #19

Hi Jennifer, good to see you on RZIM Connect. You have quite an amazing aspiration. It’s my prayer that God Almighty helps you succeed in your ministry.

(Tim Ramey) #20

Hello Jennifer. This is an odd question but aren’t you the Jennifer that has a music store in Eau Caire? The reason I ask is because then you’d be the same Jennifer that is in the memorization group. I believe that you are the same Jennifer so were you gone for awhile? Are you still joining us with Colossians? I still have intentions of stopping in your shop with my wife when we go through to visit our daughter. Also, we have a wonderful woman who is such a precious member of our staff that lives there. I should tell her to stop by. All of this is said with the belief that you are the same Jennifer Wilkinson!

(Jennifer Wilkinson) #21

Yes, I’m the same Jennifer, and I’ve been semi-present on this forum for the past couple months. With two orchestra concerts in two months and a ladies Bible study that I’m leading, I’ve been having trouble keeping up on here, but a friend of mine just agreed to join us in memorizing Colossians, so I’m getting back on track, and I’m almost caught up with the memorization.

Let me know when you might be in Eau Claire. It’s pretty hard to find my studio even if you find the address online, and we music teachers keep odd hours. :musical_note: