Rob's Status

    Tears in Rain

    Psalm 45:1

    "My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer."

    Galatians 2:20

    I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.



    Wednesday, December 21, 2011

    Logos Set in Motion

    “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” -1 Corinthians 13:12

    The ever-flowing grand stream of time may reflect a lot about a man’s life. For mine, glancing at the riverhead of just last spring, the beaming light of the sun revealed how shallow, murky, and dull my life had become. Over the course of attending only a semester of secular university, a river so wild and full of potential carved out a canyon of discovery then quickly sucked dry as my decent plummeted into a world I had no desire to be in nor was really ready for. I couldn’t say it took me by surprise as I failed to keep my life stream nourished and protected. I still reached a place I knew I did not want to dwell. Surrounded by darkness, my vision of helping redeem the world and myself became shrouded. Away from family and genuine and intentional relationships, it was one of those places in life where I really didn’t know where I was going (or rather forgot) but I knew where I was at the time was not right. I fell into a chasm and I wanted out desperately.  

    The state of apathy and depression I fell into called for measures of renewal and truth. I needed to be reminded of my purpose and I needed better answers to life’s great questions—What is life? What is death? What is love? What does it mean to be human? It was this realization that brought me out of the chasm and into a journey away from the lowly state of the world and towards a summit of knowledge and understanding. I was not the only one with questions, a need for breaking bad habits and creating better ones, with a desire for truth and truth seekers; there were many who would go on this journey with me.

    We were sojourners: young men and women sent on a spiritual journey among the majestic mountains of Colorado. Though temporary, the experience continues to resonate within us. Everything we learned and witnessed echoes throughout eternity. When asked, “Why spend 12 weeks in the mountains away from home, family, friends, and opportunity?” Many of us smiled and knew exactly what to say, some were still unsure, a few had asked themselves the same question time and time again. Yet with confidence, each and every one of us still felt a calling—an irresistible draw to know our world, our creator, and ourselves in a profound way.

    The word, the Logos, was set in motion; we were drowning in it before, now we glide through streams of wisdom with an utmost passion kindled by a love for learning. Robert Frost couldn’t have said it any better; we took the road less traveled, and that has made all the difference. The memories of a community—of a family—whose lives have been changed forever: by each other and by their Lord creator I will never forget.  This experience, the individual students whom I have come to love and cherish so much, and the wisdom obtained from an amazing faculty and staff has made all the difference in the world for me. No longer do I feel apathy; my life stream flows with rapid abundance, with extreme passion, and a renewed spirit I hope to share with countless others. I will never forget and I will be forever grateful for everything and everyone but most of all to my Heavenly father who lead me here to Summit Ministries—the greatest turning point of my life.

    "My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer."

    Tuesday, December 20, 2011

    Christ: The Perfect Penitent

    December 20, 2011
    “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. “
    —CS Lewis “Mere Christianity”

    The above passage concluded my reading yesterday and serves as a tremendous transition into the next chapter of CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity: The Perfect Penitent.

    It really is indisputable when you break it down like Lewis has—Christ is a lunatic, a liar, or LORD. Given the circumstances and any logical deduction considering the historical, spiritual, and physical reality of the human condition, the latter can be most certain as Lewis goes on to explain.

    “This man we are talking about was (and is) just what He said or else a lunatic, or something worse. Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God. God has landed on this enemy-occupied world in human form.”

    Furthermore, Lewis teaches that,  “A man can accept what Christ has done without knowing how it works: indeed, he certainly would not know how it works until he has accepted it.” It’s this acceptance part that many individuals have the most trouble with. They can suppress, and suppress, until the pressure they’ve put on the Jesus box per se overloads in an overwhelming realization that this is the truth. Some will go on to reject it completely or fall to their knees. “We are told that Christ was killed for us,” Lewis said “that His death has washed out our sins, and that by dying He disabled death itself. That is the formula. That is Christianity. That is what has to be believed.”

    Now being a Christian nearly all my life, I can tell you with sincerity that this is precisely what I believed. It wasn’t until I was much older that I would soon find out that this belief was not obtained by my own merit and that I wasn’t necessarily in complete acceptance of the truth. In fact, I still find it difficult sometimes saying that I am in complete surrender and submission to Christ my savior because I try so hard to be my own.
    “Can we do it if God helps us? Yes, but what do we mean when we talk of God helping us? We mean God putting into us a bit of Himself, so to speak. He lends us a little of His reasoning powers and that is how we think: He puts a little of His love into us and that is how we love one another. When you teach a child writing, you hold its hand while it forms the letters: that is, it forms the letters because you are forming them. We love and reason because God loves and reasons and holds our hand while we do it. Now if we had not fallen, that would be all plain sailing But unfortunately we now need God’s help in order to do something which God, in His own nature, never does at all—to surrender, to suffer, to submit, to die.”
    CS Lewis claims that he has “heard people complain that if Jesus was God as well as man, then His sufferings and death lose all value in their eyes, “because it must have been so easy for Him’.” Of course, how ungrateful and arrogant such a claim sounds but I have found myself thinking the same way in one manner or another. More in the sense that I desire to overly empower myself into thinking that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. That if Christ could endure such pain, such suffering that surely I could do these things. The truth of the matter is I shouldn’t have to. Christ has conquered death for us and all the credit goes solely to Him. Some will complain that Christ has such an unfair advantage in being our Saviour because He’s God. Why would we argue of an unfair advantage when it is obvious enough that we desperately need the help? As Lewis put it, that would be like complaining to someone waiting on the bank of the shore  trying to help another from drowning, "That isn't fair; you're using your legs on the dry land!" Because we so desperately long to help ourselves, we lose site of the fact that we cannot. We never could. We never will.

    “The perfect surrender and humiliation were undergone by Christ: perfect because He was God, surrender and humiliation because He was a man.”

    My concluding thoughts of today’s study rest in a recurring theme of ‘waiting on the Lord.’ I read in another devotional this morning about how we tend to think we’re running out of time while waiting on God to fulfill our lives; how desperate, determined and defiled we can become by taking matters into our own hands. I remember talking with a friend about how just finishing up college a good quarter of our lives will be spent up and that is assuming we’ll even make it to 80. My thoughts when pondering this exact subject always tends to lead me into realizing that life starts now. We’re not trying to get through obstacles of youth, parents, education, job fairs, and bad economy for life to simply start. We’re not waiting for the perfect man or women to enter our lives to start living a life that’s already half spent. No, we’re living right now—never, never, never take that for granted.

    Also, never forget to realize that God intends to take good care of His children. Living in the expediency of our microwave generation has caused a great many of us to forget the importance of waiting, watching, and listening to everything God has given us right now. He is our great provider. All we have to do is obey and follow Him. “God doesn’t love us because we are good, but God will make us good because He loves us” Lewis said. And that’s what life is really all about and Christ expects us to do that together through Him all of the time. Ask a fellow minister friend of mine how to spell love and he will tell you, “T-I-M-E.”

    "My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer."

    Monday, December 19, 2011

    YAHWEH: The LORD Provides

    December 19, 2011

     “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.”

    —Proverbs 16:33

         This morning’s devotional brought exactly what I needed to hear. With a strict confidence, I can honestly say my Lord creator is watching out for me, my heart, and the things and people I care about. I read the above proverb particularly through Charles Surgeon’s Morning and Evening devotional, which you can read for yourself down below. Proverbs 16 is by far one of my favorites because it deals a lot with man planning his ways but the LORD establishing his steps—Proverbs 16:9. It then ends with the truth of every chance coincidence such as the tossing of a dice being predetermined by the LORD, “its every decision is from [Him].”

         There is no reason to be anxious. We could all do so much better to walk in patience, quiet, and cheerfulness . . . Every single hair on our head is numbered and not even a single sparrow will fall without our Saviour knowing. Some would ague that God exists but doesn’t particularly want to be involved. I tell you, He is so involved in our lives and on such a personal level, believing otherwise would be taking a very serious matter for granted. Which I must admit I have done on too many occasions.

         “When a man is anxious, he cannot pray with faith. When he is troubled about the world, he cannot serve his Master, his thoughts are serving himself.” This struck me. I have always had the most difficulty praying; I have tried most diligently to pray frequently but a conversation with God is no easy task when one is so distracted. The weariness of self-preservation, provision, and the unfairness of any inconvenient circumstance leads me quite easily into praying over triviality.  My “meddling with Christ’s business” has caused me to neglect my own in allowing Him to be my all mighty provider and realizing that it is my business to be obedient.

    Spurgeon’s final thoughts are most encouraging,

    “Come and survey your Father's storehouse, and ask whether He will let you starve while He has laid up so great an abundance in His garner? Look at His heart of mercy; see if that can ever prove unkind! Look at His inscrutable wisdom; see if that will ever be at fault. Above all, look up to Jesus Christ your Intercessor, and ask yourself, while He pleads, can your Father deal ungraciously with you? If He remembers even sparrows, will He forget one of the least of His poor children? "Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain thee. He will never suffer the righteous to be moved."

         After my morning devotional I go on to eat breakfast—an extremely important part of the day and I have not the slightest why I have been ignoring it for so long—get a hot cup of Earl Gray and then go back on up to my room to study CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity. I read something today that really complimented what I read earlier that morning and wanted to share it as well.

    “Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing”

    -CS Lewis from Mere Christianity

         The ideas gleamed from this short paragraph from an incredible book also struck me deeply. Despite all the things I desire and long for in life, God is the only entity that can bring me true happiness—everything else is either a distraction or complimentary. The happiness and peace I seek lies only in Him and through Him are wonderful gifts received such as my beautiful family and wonderful friends. May I never take for granted all the things my heavenly Father has given me. My God is my great sustainer, satisfactory in all things, and wonderful savior. Amen.

    "My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer."

    From C.H. Spurgeon

    "The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord."—Proverbs 16:33.

         If the disposal of the lot is the Lord's whose is the arrangement of our whole life? If the simple casting of a lot is guided by Him, how much more the events of our entire life—especially when we are told by our blessed Saviour: "The very hairs of your head are all numbered: not a sparrow falleth to the ground without your Father." It would bring a holy calm over your mind, dear friend, if you were always to remember this. It would so relieve your mind from anxiety, that you would be the better able to walk in patience, quiet, and cheerfulness as a Christian should. When a man is anxious he cannot pray with faith; when he is troubled about the world, he cannot serve his Master, his thoughts are serving himself. If you would "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness," all things would then be added unto you. You are meddling with Christ's business, and neglecting your own when you fret about your lot and circumstances. You have been trying "providing" work and forgetting that it is yours to obey. Be wise and attend to the obeying, and let Christ manage the providing. Come and survey your Father's storehouse, and ask whether He will let you starve while He has laid up so great an abundance in His garner? Look at His heart of mercy; see if that can ever prove unkind! Look at His inscrutable wisdom; see if that will ever be at fault. Above all, look up to Jesus Christ your Intercessor, and ask yourself, while He pleads, can your Father deal ungraciously with you? If He remembers even sparrows, will He forget one of the least of His poor children? "Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain thee. He will never suffer the righteous to be moved."

         My soul, rest happy in thy low estate, Nor hope nor wish to be esteem'd or great; To take the impress of the Will Divine, Be that thy glory, and those riches thine.

    Sunday, September 18, 2011

    First Day of Class

                The first day of class featured Mr. Michael Mandt, president of Fluidyne Corporation, a globally recognized leader in wastewater treatment technologies. He earned both his undergraduate and graduate degrees through Ohio State University. His lectures and discussions of the day covered mainly the ideas of science vs. religion.

    Although the first few segments of class felt like mere introductions to the instructor and his teachings, Mr. Mandt got a good feel for the student body and our understanding of the current times and knowledge of Biblical truth. I personally admired and appreciated his easing us into the topics at hand as much was revealed and refreshed to my current understanding of evolutionary ideas conflicting with the ideas of intelligent design. Knowing that science is more on the side of Christianity than it actually is to secular science and evolution is quite the comforting and encouraging thought as we were later able to conclude after going thought the motions of what each school of thought actually believed in and how they came to such conclusions.

    Just by comparing and contrasting our supposed origins showed a lot of what true science is capable of revealing. Romans 1:18-25 plainly shows us that God is revealed in all things and even the wickedness and perversion of humanity is without excuse. It is their suppression of the truth in unrighteousness that continues to cause them to tell vicious lies against the Christian faith and I feel that it is highly imperative that believers across the globe should better equip themselves with the knowledge of God to combat such deceit and further expand the Kingdom and love of Christ.

    A lot of what Mr. Mandt lectured on toward the end of the day felt to go a little over my head. I can’t quite decide whether that was due to my fatigue or that it just was too deep in science for me to completely understand. I thought it all rather intriguing all the same despite my ability to understand it fully. Although I feel like I could ask him plenty of questions to help solidify and clarify his teaching, I have an inkling it will just take a little bit of reading for me to really begin to grasp such subjects of time and space. Despite the difficulty and ambiguity of it all based solely of course on my lack of knowledge, I know what was discussed last evening will have a lasting impact and the truly mysterious and magnificent work of God our creator.  

    "My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer."

    Hectic but Providential

    Adventure is usually what comes to my mind whenever something doesn’t go quite according to plan. I usually tell people when I’m lost, “I’m not lost, truly” , and “I’m just on an adventure.” A charming thought only if you have nowhere to go or punctuality is not entirely of the essence. In this case, just recently on my decent to Pegosa Springs, I made my way to Denver Colorado an entire hour short of my flight. Having never been in this situation before, I managed to keep calm. Having my iPod touch with me nearly everywhere I go with big friendly letters on the lock screen that say, “Don’t Panic.” This is, of course, a little something I carry with me for reassurance but mostly a comedic relief I typically get when recalling the muses of British humor easily found in Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guild to the Galaxy. Reading the words “Don’t Panic” was very affirming and calming—the Denver airport was not.

    Continental airlines was as accommodating as they could: the earliest flight they could confirm for me was only seven hours past my intended schedule and to make matters more complicated, it was with another airline at another terminal. Long story short, there was a lot of walking involved with this little excursion of very little pleasure. Having not only my backpack loaded with computer gear but also my camera bag didn’t make matters any lighter. At least there were the automated walkways making my trudging across the terminal back and forth between United and Continental costumer service. Little did I know that the merge between these major airlines was still in flux and United couldn’t help me very much with Continental’s issues: one in particular was accommodating me with a ticket that had no value to Frontier. A misfortune to say the least for it required further trudging in the airport and even more stress to my senses. At least I had my iPod to boom the Tron: Reconfigured soundtrack to make things a little more interesting. Also looking at the situation as a sort of action flick made things a little better. I started to pretend that I was on a high-stakes mission and would walk back and forth between terminals to the Italian Job soundtrack.

    After determining that only Continental was the only factor among airlines that could fix the problem they created for me, I decided to finally sit for a meal for after spending sometime at their assigned gates, there was not a Continental soul to be sought. Further waiting took place after dinner but I finally managed to speak with a representative of Continental and set things straight with my reservation with Frontier and getting a valid ticket to board their plane. After a prolonged phone call with Frontier, my reservation had been confirmed and I was instructed to head back to Terminal A to speak with gate 37. Once there, several minutes later, I spoke with Frontier’s customer service and was handed not a ticket but a boarding pass! I was overwhelmed at this point and couldn’t help but gasp with success at the end of my anxious concern for confirmation of my flight into Durango.

    I suppose after looking back at all this now, it indeed was all a hectic mess and quite stressful. I am glad now, however, because I’m all the more experienced especially in regards to Denver’s airport. Hopefully next time the aeroplane I’m on won’t need last minute maintenance on a broken latch and I won’t miss my connecting flight. On the other hand, if I had made my flight that fateful morning, I wouldn’t have run into a fellow student of mine who is also attending Summit Semester. While waiting for my 7:45 flight to Durango through Frontier Airlines, Amy from California was waiting for the same flight as I. I had been wearing a Summit Ministries T-shirt at the time, but she claims to have recognized my face from the start and the T-shirt only confirmed that she knew who I was. Although I didn’t recognizer her at first, it was an extreme delight and refreshment to meet a face I felt like I could actually get to know and not complain to. It was also nice to know I wouldn’t be heading to my final destination alone. Figuring I probably would have gotten to meet her sooner or later in Pegosa, it’s still a rather interesting story to look back on and tell as I hope you have enjoyed this experience as much as I did after everything has been said and done. Looking back now, although rather hectic, it was intriguing and inspiring all at once to see the providence of it all. And that’s how I physically got to Summit Semester, ten hours off schedule and exhausted, yet satisfied with learning a few new tricks, meeting a new friend, and gaining a story to tell. 

    "My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer."

    My Journey to the Summit

               Hardly twenty-four hours has past since I first arrived to Snow Wolf Lodge in Pegosa Springs, Colorado and I could already begin to feel an amazing change in my life—the perspective of it, the purpose of it, the understanding of what my life really means was in a flux and I was enjoying every moment of it. My name is Robert Oakley, and this is how my journey to The Summit began.

    Summit Semester has and will serve many purposes this season of my life but essentially it is an academic gap-year program founded upon Biblical standards. It is a means to an end by which every student has arrived seeking with intrigue and desire not solely exclusive to myself for I have already gotten to know most if not all 31 students who have arrived. We all share the same interest and passion for doing well deep in the Mountains of Pegosa Springs and we’re all highly looking forward to it.

    Getting here in the first place is quite the story within itself, as I would officially like to begin there. You could all say it started when I was born: into a Christian home to parents who both had no clue what to do in raising me as their first born but knew and understood and submitted to teaching me about their faith and bringing me up to claim it as my own. When I was the age of eight years old, I accepted Jesus as my Lord and savior by His perfect will and grace. From that day forward I knew and felt His presence influencing my life every day. It wasn’t up until my later years in high school, however, that I really began to explore for myself life’s great questions, and coming to understand and know not only what I believed but also why I believed what I believed.

    It was through my mother’s teaching and her desire to home educate me that fully allowed me to have the recourses, capacity, and freedom to explore these pressing topics without the pressure and exclusiveness of secular society. Though a great part of my education was founded on a Biblical foundation, one other book that has played a major influence in my life was Dr. David Noebel’s Understanding the Times.

    Coming back to the topic of Summit Ministries and Semester, I actually had very little recollection or understanding of the ministry even a long time after reading Dr. Noebel’s work. Little did I know how drawn in to the ministry I would become years later. My parents along with many elders from my church have also made a huge impact in my life along with authors such as C.S. Lewis, and the many missionary stories I would have read to me or heard about in church.  I was also very fortunate to attend Houston Baptist University near the city of Katy where I grew up getting a solid Biblical teaching in my core education.
    It wasn’t really enough, though, to have such a strong connection with my heavenly creator, my family, my church, and my mere existence on such a flourishing emotional level. There needed to be so much more and I had lots of questions. This is one of the many areas Summit Semester has promised to touch on in regards to further developing my relationship with Christ and those around me. Semester’s mission is also to make my understanding on an intellectual level bringing even more meaning and balance to my own conscience. I am fully intrigued with the idea and pursuit of “knowing thyself” and am confident that in ever seeking for truth, yet seeking first the Kingdom of God, I will know myself according to my creator, my master, and my teacher. This is only part of what Summit Semester is all about and for the next 12 weeks I looking forward to sharing even more.

    Although my access to the outside world will be limited, this time will be one of little distraction and incredible focus on the meaning of life as not just a human being, but a soul created in the likeness of Christ. I plan to write as regularly as I can, but promise only to post updates every Sunday when I can since that is the only time I expect to have internet access. So consider this your first update! I am alive, well, and looking forward to telling you about my great journey through Summit Semester.

    I am praying for you all as image bearers of Christ—Imago Dei.

    Noblesse oblige,

    ~Rob Oakley