My name is Philip Pirtle, and I am a middle aged professional in northwest Houston, TX. My beautiful wife and two wonderful daughters are the light of my life. We feel wonderfully blessed to live in a place where we can freely study the Word of God and worship openly and freely.
My walk with God has been a long and varied journey, beginning with my parents, who were devoted, faithful Christians. My parents raised me not only ‘in the church’, but in the light of their lives, truly lived in the spirit of scripture, giving me a strong foundation to build my faith on. Unfortunately, in my youthful immaturity, I had very little real understanding of what I thought I ‘knew’.
During my years in college and educational endeavors, I drifted from the church and from faith. While at some level, I believed in God, I had very little relationship with Him. For almost 20 years, I did not attend church or spend time in prayer or in developing a relationship with Him.
Even after I was married in my early 30’s, my wife and I did not attend church regularly, nor spend much time in relationship with God. We had our first child, and made sure she went to daycare at a Church affiliated center, but even then did not attend church.
Our second daughter arrived at a time when we had moved to a new town, and in our search for a place for our children to attend preschool, my wife found a school attached to a local church. She enrolled them there. We decided that, if our children were to attend school there, we should at least attend services there to get to know the people and the theology of the church and it’s leaders.
The pastor of that church is a very knowledgable, brilliant man, with an incredible gift for sharing the word in an inspiring and understandable way. I began to understand many of the things I had heard as a youth in a new and uplifting way. I came to understand that attendance at church once a week and saying a blessing by rote prior to meals was not what constituted a real relationship with God, and began to grow in my faith and love for the Lord.
After a few months, my wife informed me one evening that she had signed us up for the praise team at the church. My response was, “what’s a praise team?” Having been raised in a small town Presbyterian church in North Texas, I had never heard any music in a church but traditional hymns. The contemporary Christian music I heard and sang there was like nothing I had ever heard before. It lit my soul on fire, and brought me to great heights. I often tell people that my wife brought me back to church, our pastor brought me back to God, but the music brought me back to joy.
Music has always played a large role in my life. I sang in choir in school, played in the band, and learned to play guitar (though not well) at a fairly young age. I was a singer for a rock and roll band for a while in younger days, and would strum the guitar from time to time, though not with much intensity. Once I heard the message in the music of praise, I was awakened to a new joy I hadn’t felt before. I sang with the praise team with delight, and began to play guitar frequently. I took lessons so that I could play more skillfully in praise of our Lord (as we are instructed to do in the Psalms). I began to play with the praise band in our church, then to play for the children at Sunday school, then to play with and lead the Youth band in their worship. A band was needed for a men’s retreat a few years ago, and I recruited some fellow musicians and started a band for the weekend. We now play yearly at the men’s retreat and several times through the year at other church functions or at worship. I still play guitar with the worship band as well, which is composed primarily of professional musicians. I work with the youth band as well, and sometimes play and sing by myself leading worship.
My wife and I lead a small group in our home, and she is now the director of adult discipleship at the church. She has completed several courses at a seminary, receiving a post graduate certificate of Christian studies.
The opportunity to study at the Christian Leaders Institute is an incredible opportunity for me to expand my knowledge and understanding of God, scripture, and faith, so that my worship of God and leading others in worship can be more effective in bringing the message of His love to others.