Monday, November 15, 2010

To sum it up....

How do we sum up this first semester? It is hard to put into words, but I’ve asked a couple of Venture students to try……

If I were to describe this first semester with two words it would be “Gospel Centered” or if I could use 6 words it would be “Life changing because of the gospel.”-Logan Wynne

“Overwhelmingly Deep”- Maddy Yohn

Luke 9:24 “ If you really want to find your life you must lose it.”

True leadership exacts a toll. The higher the accomplishment the higher the price paid. Any worthwhile accomplishment has a price tag. It comes down to one basic question” How much hard work, sacrifice, and endurance are you willing to pay to obtain the worthwhile goal.” We talked about this earlier in the year during Spiritual Disciplines class. Philippians 3:8 “More than that I could all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ…..” The Venture students have been challenged by these thoughts. How much will I give up? What has had the place of value in my life above Jesus Christ? What has become a counterfeit god for me? Adam and I would say, that though we are all still in this daily process of losing our life so that we may find it in Christ, we have seen tremendous growth in each of these students. The Lord began this work very quickly this semester and we are so delighted to have seen your sons and daughters respond quickly and obediently. We want you to hear from them what they have learned and what they are expecting from next semester.

“This semester has been nuts- backpacking in the snow and rain, exploring caves with Nasher, exposing idols with the help of Tim Keller, cliff-jumping at crooked tree, rock climbing in Helena, praying together as a dorm, spontaneous trips to Missoula, tea time with C.S. Lewis, soccer and ultimate Frisbee on the filed, 48 hours in the woods by myself, medaling in the special Olympics, fall break in Bozeman, remember our WAFA time with Charles, memorizing scripture, coffee, mullets, and pig roasts, conquering steamboat (again), getting our praise on, crazy ball, the strange joys of detention, late-night conversations, and realizing more fully that our Jesus is at the center of the Gospel.

I’ve seen so much growth in my life and in the lives of other Ventures that it’s hard to know where to start. Everything for me this semester has gone back to the gospel. I’ve learned so much about the disciplines, and the freedom they afford. At the root of praying, bible reading, memorizing, fasting, etc is the gospel and a better understanding of who Jesus is. All our actions (no matter how “spiritual” they seem) are valuable only as they serve the purpose of loving God more. Going through the book “Counterfeit Gods” in bible study, has opened us up to the fact that even if we profess the Lordship of Christ with our lips, we often still live our lives with something else functioning as savior. Yet again I was brought back to the gospel and the understanding that Jesus is the only one who can truly uproot and supplant the idols of the heart. Recently, we had the privilege of taking “Gospel-Centered Ministry” from John Erickson, a pastor of a church in Minneapolis. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the class deepened my understanding of my sinfulness and my desperate need for reconciliation through the gospel. We learned that ministry cannot be effective unless it is centered around the cross of Christ and the word of God.

Along with spiritual growth, I have benefitted greatly from the experience of learning to lead. One of the biggest aspects in the learning process has been seeing leadership modeled for me. The staff has done a great job of displaying spiritual leadership, and I am grateful for their examples, especially Adam and Brooke. Not only have they been thoughtful about encouraging and teaching, but also their transparency has been huge. It has been humbling to learn what makes a successful Christian leader and to see it firsthand thought the staff. The first 11 verses in John 15 have been instrumental in the way I lead. Jesus is the one who brings for the fruit and so I’m reminded that in order to effective I must abide in Christ. Not only That, I am starting to see how friendships rooted in Christ have a much deeper bond. As Paul said to the Philippians, “I thank my God in all remembrance of you….in view of your participation in the gospel.” You don’t need to be perfect to have relationships. I’ve learned that being real and open in the best way to enjoy meaningful relationships. The idea is to bear on another’s burdens and to build each other up. So it comes full circle: abiding in Christ and the gospel is the only way to have meaningful Christian fellowship and to lead effectively. “ – Brady Bowman

As you can see, the Lord has done much! Elizabeth Kupferschmid talks about what she is looking forward to in the next semester:

“I don’t know what to expect next semester, but based on this first semester my hopes are high. For me, this semester has been so much about self-control, & discipline, living consistently, steadily, and daily for Christ….Next semester I expect, will be filled with lots of challenges, as this semester has already had a few, but I pray that God will help me to grow into Him as I go through more. I think the fellowship will be deeper since we have already laid the foundation for our friendships. I am excited about the classes next semester as well. There have been several classes this semester that God has used to really hit home in my heart, challenge me ad reveal to me a little bit more of Himself. What awesome possibilities await in the next few months! I am excited for it, and I know it will fly by. I pray that every moment will be used to glorify God.”

Parents, we thank you for the prayers and encouragements you have sent this way. As you can see, the students are greatly benefiting from their studies and experiences here. We are finishing this semester with a smile. We praise the Lord for the good works He is doing. Thank you for partnering with us in His work. We pray that you will continue to partner in this ministry over the Christmas break by praying for your sons and daughters and asking them the specific questions they would like you to.

We wish you all wonderful fellowship over the holidays. Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas. We’ll talk again next year!

In Christ,

Adam and Brooke Jordan