Home‎ > ‎

IsbellOnline News

IsbellOnline News subscriptions are available, free.

I frequently post new content on this site, which appears in the IsbellOnline News box on the Home Page. You can subscribe to email or RSS notifications of these posts. If you are new to subscriptions to posts, check out About Subscribing.

To subscribe to the email feed, click on Email Feed Subscription Form. (If you subscribe but don't start receiving emails, check your spam filter.)

To subscribe to the RSS feed just click on the link next to the orange chicklet below. 

A Thomas Merton Advent thought & another Advent Reading

posted Nov 25, 2016, 6:35 PM by Tim Isbell

Into this world, this demented inn, in which there is absolutely no room for Him at all, Christ has come uninvited. But because He cannot be at home in it, because He is out of place in it, and yet must be in it, His place is with those others for whom there is no room. His place is with those who do not belong, who are rejected by power because they are regarded as weak, those who are discredited, who are denied status as persons, who are tortured, bombed, and exterminated. With those for whom there is no room, Christ is present in the world. He is mysteriously present in those for whom there seems to be nothing but the world at its worst.

- Thomas Merton


A few days ago I posted a new Advent Reading for 2016. Since then, our pastor asked Sharon Rauenzahn to write a shorter one for this year's use at New Life Nazarene Church (Cupertino, CA). So she did, it's titled "Hope, Faith, Joy, Peace" and is available with all the others at Advent Readings.


Blessings to all (and thanks to Sharon!),

Tim


Lectionary Preaching

posted Nov 21, 2016, 7:46 AM by Tim Isbell

I recently responded to a query from a young pastor who is planning to begin preaching the Revised Common Lectionary Scripture set on the first Sunday of Advent (this coming Sunday!). He was looking for resources and ideas, so I sent him a few. It's now an hour later, and just I realized that today there are probably many pastors considering the same transition. Since several ministers subscribe to my website, I decided to post my Lectionary resource list.

But I also realize that many of you are not pastors and may be wondering what is the Lectionary! So here's a link for you: Lectionary Basics.

And for you pastors, here are some resources that you can use immediately: 

Blessings,
Tim

Another new Advent Reading

posted Nov 18, 2016, 11:04 AM by Tim Isbell   [ updated Nov 19, 2016, 9:18 PM ]

The first Sunday of Advent is upon us and we've just posted a new
Advent Reading: Call to Action, Call to Faith! This one joins six others from previous years. 

Like some of the others, Sharon Rauenzahn wrote "Call to Action, Call to Faith," with an option to include a child with a non-reading part each week.

Blessings,
Tim

President Trump - perspective from a Hillary supporter

posted Nov 9, 2016, 10:09 AM by Tim Isbell

It’s the morning after the election which surprised many Americans and people around the world - including me.

I am deeply disappointed in the outcome and apprehensive of virtually all roads ahead. I am brokenhearted for women, for those at the low end of the economic divide, for people of color, for the LGBT community, for young adults enslaved by student debt, for those who are bullied on any pretense, for those of Islamic and other non-Christian faiths, and on and on. Regardless, I will support President Trump and pray that he’ll lead us forward in a different spirit than we’ve seen from him so far.

I’m also concerned for all who put their hope in America and its politics and woke up this morning facing a host of shattered dreams.

As for me, my primary citizenship is in God’s Kingdom, while I live and work as a resident alien in a kingdom of this world. I am not disappointed or brokenhearted with God’s Kingdom because I trust his promises. He says my path will take some troublesome turns and pass through some dark valleys. But throughout the journey, the Spirit of Jesus accompanies, guides, strengthens, and opens doors for me to share some part of the Good News of God’s Kingdom with other travelers. If that’s you, take a look at The Alternate Life. Or just contact me. Or visit a church this Sunday.


Blessings,

Tim

Smart donation strategy for retirees

posted Oct 5, 2016, 7:04 PM by Tim Isbell

Do you know that people above age 70.5 can directly transfer up to $100,000 from a traditional, tax-deferred retirement account to charity every year, have it count against their Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) for that year, and not have to pay taxes on the money they contributed?

Here's why this makes sense: A typical retiree pays her bills using money from defined benefit retirement programs, withdrawals from tax-deferred retirement accounts (IRA, 401k, 403b), dividends and capital gains from investments in the taxable accounts, and Social Security. All these sources are subject to some taxation. Whether she needs the money or not, every year from when she turns 70.5 they must withdraw at least the RMD from her tax-deferred retirement accounts and pay ordinary income tax on every dollar withdrawn.  

Further, suppose she wants to donate $6,000 to her church for the year. If she draws money from any of the sources and writes a check to the church, that money adds to her adjusted gross income and gets taxed. But if she arranges to donate the $6,000 directly from her tax-deferred retirement account to the charity, it counts against her RMD for the year, and she doesn't have to add it to her adjusted gross income. This works whether she itemizes or not, though if she itemizes she can't also claim a deduction. For retirees with sufficient money to pay all their bills and also contribute to charity, the smartest dollars to donate are RMD dollars going directly from your account to the charity.

I expect she can accomplish this direct transfer in a week or two, but it's even better to think about donating from an RMD early in the year before deciding to take the RMD in monthly or quarterly installments.

For more on this, including the details of how to make the transfer directly from your retirement account, check out this Kiplinger article.

For more strategic ways to donate money, check out Tax-smart Donations.There you'll find tips on donating appreciated stock, creating a donor advised fund, and others.


Blessings, Tim


Abortion - the Alternate Kingdom view

posted Sep 30, 2016, 5:36 AM by Tim Isbell

This post is for the many conservative Christians who vote primarily, or wholly, on the issue of abortion. I am a retired, ordained pastor in a Christian tradition slightly right of the political center. Earlier, I posted three articles 
on the upcoming election and thought they were enough. But I feel prompted to post one more: Let's Consider Abortion. Hope you'll find five minutes to consider it.

-Tim

Fascinations with God

posted Sep 25, 2016, 7:00 AM by Tim Isbell   [ updated Sep 25, 2016, 8:24 PM ]

I'm fascinated with who God is and what he does in our world, so I'm building a list. I'm learning to plant one item from the list in my mind at the start of each day - or at least a few days each week. I can use that item as the praise part of any prayer, even such as for a meal. It is a way of escorting Jesus to the center of my life, and keeping him there all day, which is my only hope for holiness - because there is no store or state of holiness. Even when I miss for a couple of days, I don't kick myself. But when I sense (or the Spirit prompts) that I've drifted, this Fascination List and practice helps me reset.

Hope you'll take time to have a look.


Found something good in the dumpster

posted Sep 15, 2016, 5:36 PM by Tim Isbell   [ updated Sep 15, 2016, 5:42 PM ]

While dumpster diving through the 2016 presidential campaign, I found something valuable. It wasn't what I was looking for, but if we have the courage to deal with it, it will make America greater. Check out A Plus from 2016 Presidential Campaign

Regards,
Tim

10 Most Important Financial Decisions

posted Aug 31, 2016, 1:54 PM by Tim Isbell   [ updated Sep 2, 2016, 9:08 AM ]

Here's some wisdom from Jonathan Clements, an excellent financial author I started following this year. Here's a link to a recent MarketWatch article, and here's a link to an 18-minute podcast where the Wall Street Journal's "Money, Markets, & More" staff interview Clements. The article provides the list but with only limited comments. So don't stop with the article; please find the time to listen to the podcast.

To whet your interest, here is Clement's list of the ten most important Financial Decisions Ever:

  1. How much you borrow for college.
  2. What career you pursue.
  3. How early in life you start saving.
  4. How big a house you buy relative to your income.
  5. Whether you marry the right person. (I'd rephrase this to "Who you marry.")
  6. How often you replace your car.
  7. Whether you make a lifetime commitment to stocks.
  8. Whether you have children. (I'd add "... and how many.")
  9. Whether you waste time and money on the foolish pursuit of market-beating gains.
  10. When you claim Social Security.

Is the Clinton Foundation a ripoff?

posted Aug 16, 2016, 9:46 AM by Tim Isbell   [ updated Sep 18, 2016, 1:53 PM ]

Last week I stumbled into a Facebook stream that I thought was posted by an acquaintance of mine. After posting a reply to somebody's comment, and getting deluged with readers' responses, I realized I had entered a Mike Huckabee post that shared this link from the Conservative Tribune: SHOCK: 96% Of Hillary’s Charitable Donations Went To 1 “Charity.”

Over the course of about three days, I wrote quite a bit into that thread, generally to the dismay of many other participants. But this gave me an excuse to take a look at the Clintons' charitable contributions.

After finishing my interactions with the Huckabee post, I decided to pull together my posted comments and, with only light editing, post them on this webpage: Clinton foundations - ripoff or legit? If you want to do a little research on this topic, just click on the link. You'll find my perspective and several related factual links.

1-10 of 176