Survey of The Creeds and Confessions

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In the Spring of 2016, we will survey some of the historic Creeds and Confessions of the early church  and also of  Presbyterian (Reformed) history in particular.   The Creeds and Confessions are important because they show the continuity and development of belief and teaching over the centuries.  These teachings connect us with believers from all times and sharpen reflection in our personal faith.  They also highlight the example of faithful followers of Christ after the Biblical era and up to the 20th century.  From these examples we can draw inspiration and learn more about how Christians apply their faith throughout the centuries, often influencing the course of history.

There are two books  used in this study:

The Book of Confessions, Presbyterian Church USA (any edition) – There are a few copies of this thin book in our classroom.  This is the book needed for those who want to read the creeds/confessions on their own and refer to them in our class discussions.

Presbyterian Creeds – A Guide to the Book of Confessions, Jack Rogers – This book is optional and is only needed by those who want to study the background of each confession in more detail. The teachers will be using this supplemental book to provide depth to the discussions.

Jack Rogers book

March 20 Why Study the Creeds and Confessions? Massie
March 27 Easter fellowship n/a
April 3 The Apostles Creed Adamson
April 10 Pastor Sims party n/a
April 17 The Apostles Creed Adamson
April 24 The Apostles Creed Adamson
May 1 The Nicene Creed Massie
May 8 The Scots Confession Massie
May 15 The Heidelberg Catechism Massie
May 22 The Westminster Confession Reynolds
May 29 The Westminster Confession Reynolds
June 5 The Barmen Declaration Massie

John 13-21 The Book of Glory

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Here is our teaching outline leading into Easter 2016.  Please note we are adding the idea of a “minor” to our curriculum this year.  The John Ortberg video series Soul Keeping will be interspersed about 20% of the time to give us variety and compliment our major study.

December 27, 2015 Intro and John 13 Massie
January 3, 2016 John 14 Adamson
January 10, 2016 John 15 Reynolds
January 17, 2016 Soul Keeping Video 1 Massie
January 24, 2016 John 16 Reynolds
January 31, 2016 John 17 Adamson
February 7, 2016 John 18 Massie
February 14, 2016 John 19 Massie
February 21, 2016 Soul Keeping Video 2 Massie
February 28, 2016 John 20 Adamson
March 6, 2016 Who is this Man? video Massie
March 13, 2016 John 21 Reynolds



Advent 2015-16 Oakmont Adult Sunday School

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Here is our lesson planning into 2016. Please let Roy know of any changes or coordinate with another teacher if you cannot teach on the dates shown.

November 29, 2015 Video 2 – Who is This Man? Massie
December 6, 2015 Video 3 – Who is This Man? Massie
December 13, 2015 Matthew 2 Massie
December 20, 2015 Luke 2 Reynolds



Genesis – Foundations of Faith

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Genesis Teaching Outline   Oakmont 2015

Genesis:  Foundations of Faith

We will study the book of Genesis by surveying the Patriarchs and their relationships.  Some Chapters are left out of our survey (e.g. 34-36) and others will be de-emphasized in favor of others.  The teacher each week will select the portion of their assigned text they feel makes the best character and life application study for the class’ spiritual encouragement and growth.

Sept 20 Chapters 1-5                (Adam) Massie
Sept 27 Chapters 6-10             (Noah) Adamson
Oct 4 Chapters 11-16           (Abram) Reynolds
Oct 11 Chapters 17-21           (Abraham) Massie
Oct 18 Chapters 22-25          (Abraham & Isaac) Adamson
Oct 25 Chapters 26-29          (Isaac & Jacob) Reynolds
Nov 1 Chapters 30-33          (Jacob) Massie
Nov 8 Chapters 37-41          (Joseph) Adamson
Nov 15 Chapters 42-45         (Joseph pt 2) Reynolds
Nov 22 Chapters 46-50         (Joseph pt 3) Massie
Nov 29 surplus date if needed due to changes tbd

Draft : The dates may still change as we factor in teacher absences and church events. 

Please leave comments on this page or send Roy an e-mail for date changes or other topics.

Male Spirituality (Father Rohr)

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Some time back in our Theology and Ethics group at Oakmont Presbyterian, we looked into the Eastern Church and its mystical/contemplative spirituality.  I found it interesting, but not very accessible for application.  However, there are also some Catholic and Protestant contemplatives I find easier to grasp.  Here is a link to a YouTube interview with one of the best I have found from that group.

I hope you enjoy Father Richard Rohr talking very practically, yet deeply about Male Spirituality in today’s world.

Fr. Richard Rohr – Male Spirituality

Reflection on Job 4-7

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Reflection on Job Chapters 4-7

Another member of the club
Recall a season of loss in your life. Not just a day or two, but weeks or more where you felt such upheaval you knew things would never be the same for you. Even if they got better, you would be different because you would know loss. It could be the death of a loved one, prolonged illness, financial loss or a setback in your career. For me, this was the death of my father. I also lost other, older family members around this time and it marked the beginning of a new era in my life. In the same few years many of my colleagues lost their positions at our company. The chapters in my life had turned toward a plot that rubbed off some of the easy convenience I had enjoyed in earlier phases. My experience is not unusual. In fact, it is  common among people near my age. But that objective viewpoint did nothing to change the subjective significance in my life.

When I was in eighth grade, there was a boy in our school named Billy whose mother had died the year before. It was a little awkward and it was a subject to be avoided, but it was as workable as it could be for kids that age. But in eighth grade, Billy’s father also died when their house burned down. Billy went to live with his grandmother and she did the best she could for him. He continued to go to our school. What had been an awkward, but workable, presence around him was now much harder. What could anyone say? How could we relate? We could not. Billy persevered fairly well, all things considered. But he could never be the same. Billy’s life trajectory had changed dramatically in less than two years.

If we live long enough we will each experience some suffering in our life (and it usually doesn’t take very long). It spares no one and respects neither the privileged nor those in pitiful circumstances. To be sure, we do not suffer equally. But the universality of human suffering is a subject which all the major religions and philosophies of the world agree. And it may be the only topic that can claim that distinction.  Yes, indeed, we all suffer at least a little.

The stories in the Bible present many types of struggle and suffering but none are more poignantly  portrayed than Job. The poetic structure of Job as  tragedy literature is well-studied and I find this interesting. But in chapters 4 through 7, my thoughts are directed more to experiences in my life and the lives of others I have observed. I think of Job as president of the Job Club; the club all of us end up in sooner or later. The club where admission requires nothing more than being human and experiencing some suffering.

One more thing Job lost
I imagine Job as president of the Job club because of everything he lost. In Job chapters 1-3 we are told about his loss of children, possessions and eventually his health. His wife is driven to her wit’s end seeing the suffering of her husband (not to mention her own). But there is one other thing Job lost. We are told about the wealth and extent of blessings Job enjoyed. In ancient Israel, wealth was seen as an indication of God’s blessing on one He favored. And the community reasoned if a man enjoys great material and family blessings as an external sign of God’s favor, then that man should be a leader. Job was a patriarch.

Just as Boaz (in the book of Ruth) goes to the city gate to reason with the other elders and receives various signs of respect to go with his wealth, so would Job. Job’s societal duties would require him to adjudicate disputes, assist those in need and coordinate with neighboring communities. He was a person of respect. But, if the community inferred his position of respect from his blessings, they could infer just the opposite when all those blessing were suddenly and tragically lost. Job lost his identity and like his peers he saw this as the loss of God’s favor. Job no longer knew who he was, but he also could not understand God as he thought he had before. On top of everything else, he was losing himself. Who was he now?



Work in progress – to be continued… Read the rest of this entry »

How To Really Waste Your Vote

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Does My Point of View Have a Chance?

In mid-2015 we are entering primary season and the usual discussions about which candidates really have a chance to win are starting.   There are some points related to this subject that are worth keeping in mind as we evaluate the candidates and how we will vote, or even contribute money.

Your voice is louder than you may think

  1. Every vote counts because every one of them is tallied by the FEC
  • Even write-in candidates are counted in many states. If enough people wrote in votes, instead of voting for the “inevitable” candidates, you can be sure political professionals would investigate why and adjust their plans.
  • Examples from the data
  • In Louisiana – We The People Party got 1,767 votes
  • In Wisconsin – the Americans Elect and Constitution Parties, got 118 and 119 votes respectively

2. Your individual contribution can help your Presidential candidate qualify for matching FEC money

  • Matching money rules –
  • Examples of obscure candidates who submitted for the funds
  • Note the rules about caps and individual contributions disproportionately help obscure candidates more than mainstream ones
  • Contribute to who you really believe in; your contribution is not wasted. Political experts look at money just as much as votes – individual contributions say something important about the candidate from a different perspective than voting
  1. With this detailed FEC data and the recent techniques of micro-targeting in U.S. politics, your political views do not have to be mainstream to become part of a trend that sends a message. The mainstream candidates want to gather voters from different viewpoints they can absorb.  But they have to see at least some voter presence in those minority views to consider them.

Conversely here’s how to waste your vote

  1. Vote for someone you don’t really want because others say they’re the only one with a real chance to win; but you still need to help guarantee their victory. This is fallacious, circular reasoning – it assumes the victory of a particular candidate before any votes are cast.  The fruits of this flawed thinking are evident in how dissatisfied we are with our government; but we the voters are the most culpable for believing it’s a good approach.
  2. Don’t vote at all. We will eventually lose even more of our voting power if too many of us neglect our duty to vote.  Some Machiavellian politician will step in to fill a power vacuum left by our disinterest in choosing a better leader.

Send Your Message

There are obstacles to each of our primary votes being equally important (because of the big political parties practices in Iowa and New Hampshire). But, the Federal election laws are not rigged against us.  No one is entitled to your vote; it is yours to invest in our country’s long term future. It will be noticed no matter the outcome of the election.  Vote your conscience, not someone else’s punditry.